Tag Archives: International Relations

What Monroe Doctrine? Dragon Spreading its Wings over Latin America and Caribbean

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “Chinese President Xi Jinping, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, and their wives by a Chinese ship in the Panama Canal, December 3, 2018. LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images”.)

Further to this 2015 post,

China Buying Brazil, or, What Monroe Doctrine?

the pace of the PRC’s embrace just keeps accelerating–below from a major article at Business Insider June 6 ( via Canadian Military Intelligence Association). The US military does seem to be rather hyping the defence worry factor at this point; the huge Chinese economic influence is worrying enough it its own right:

The US military is watching China’s presence grow in Latin America, and it doesn’t like where things are going

*US officials and lawmakers have for years voiced concern about growing US influence in Latin America.

*For military and national-security leaders, that influence has security implications for the US.

*Despite US warnings about dealing with China, many leaders in the region see little on offer from the US.

As the US increases its focus on global competition with China, officials have singled out Beijing’s inroads into Latin America as a growing threat to countries there and to US interests in the region.

At recent congressional hearings and public events, those officials have cautioned that China is investing in digital and physical infrastructure, natural resources and extractive industries, and in political and military relationships across Latin America and the Caribbean in a multipronged effort to secure access and influence and gain leverage over countries there in order to advance its own commercial and strategic interests.

Although China’s engagement with the region has focused on economic ties and it has not established a military presence there [emphasis added], US military commanders, national-security officials, and lawmakers believe Beijing’s investments have implications for US security.

At an August 2021 hearing on her nomination to lead US Southern Command, which is responsible for Central and South America, Gen. Laura Richardson said China comes to the region “with very sophisticated plans in order to capture the interests of the countries, willing to loan billions of dollars.”

“I look at that from the military lens of projecting and sustaining military power for the [Chinese People’s Liberation Army] with this expansion,” Richardson said at the time.

Richardson’s remarks echoed those of her predecessor, Adm. Craig Faller, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2021, his final appearance as commander, that China was “rapidly advancing” toward its goal of “economic dominance” in Latin America within the next decade [emphasis added].

Beijing “is also seeking to establish global logistics and basing infrastructure in our hemisphere in order to project and sustain military power at greater distances,” Faller told lawmakers [evidence?].

At a hearing on China’s presence in the region in April, Sen. Marco Rubio, citing a report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said China is using its economic heft and political ties to convince countries there to make decisions that favor Beijing and “undermine democracy and free markets.”

The same report, Rubio added, said China’s military seeks “to deepen its engagement in the region by funding the construction of ports, space programs, and other dual-use infrastructure that frankly is pretty clear it appears to have a limited economic purpose but could serve as future operating bases, even of rotational bases, for a hostile navy close to our nation’s shores [note that “could”].”

Strategic concerns

China has become the top trading partner for many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and is second-biggest, behind the US, for the region as a whole. Its trade with the region has risen from $18 billion in 2002 to $180 billion in 2010 and to $450 billion last year [emphasis added].

The region’s largest countries have attracted Chinese investment in agricultural commodities as well as in ecommerce and other technology, including surveillance technology. Smaller, resource-rich countries in Latin America have attracted Chinese interest in mineral wealth and oil exploration.

Chinese firms have also pursued infrastructure projects across the region — many as part of Beijing’s sprawling Belt and Road Initiative — but especially in areas that facilitate access into or around the continent.

Richardson has said the Chinese presence around the Panama Canal and near the Strait of Magellan are her “two greatest concerns, strategically.”

The canal is one of the world’s most important trade corridors, particularly for goods flowing between the US and East Asia. It is “a strategic line of communication that we want to keep free and open for the global economy but also for our global war plans,” Richardson told senators in March.

China has invested billions of dollars in projects around the canal and Chinese state-owned enterprises are present “on either side [emphasis added],” Richardson said. “What I worry about Chinese state-owned enterprises that have capability and infrastructure there is that they can be used for dual use, which means civilian but also military.”

The Strait of Magellan sees less traffic but remains an important route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, including aircraft carriers too big for the canal, and is close to resource-rich Antarctica. China’s presence in ports and other projects “around the tip of the southern cone” of South America is worrisome [emphasis added], Richardson said…

Richardson’s counterpart at US Northern Command, which is responsible for North America and parts of the Caribbean, has expressed similar concerns. “China’s very aggressive in the Bahamas right now,” Gen. Glen VanHerck told the House Armed Services Committee in April 2021.

“They have the largest embassy in the Bahamas right now, and they continue to buy up [the] tourism industry to have access and influence,” VenHerck said at the time, adding that those Chinese projects “do have access right now to an overwatch, if you will, of our Navy test and training facilities, which is very, very concerning.”..

Chinese military basing in Latin America is still “rather hypothetical” [indeed!] [Margaret] Myers [director of the Asia and Latin America Program at the Inter-American Dialogue] told Insider, “but there’s a sense that based on the sorts of investments that we see in areas of strategic interest to the US and some of the investments that we see in ports with potential dual-use capacity that things are headed in that direction.”..

China will likely “explore what it looks like to establish more significant military relationships in Africa or in the Pacific before they try something like that in the Western Hemisphere [emphasis added] because of how much more likely a strong US reaction would be,” the analyst said, requesting anonymity because of professional commitments.

[Many] Latin American leaders…fear the paternalism that has often characterized US policy toward the region. Many leaders want to avoid taking sides in the competition between Beijing and Washington but welcome Chinese engagement because they see it as offering what the US is unable or unwilling to provide, like expanded trade, coronavirus vaccines, or infrastructure investment.

Richardson often notes that 21 of the 31 countries in Southern Command’s area of responsibility have signed onto China’s Belt and Road Initiative [emphasis added] and told the House Armed Services Committee this spring that several of its multibillion-dollar projects were particularly worrying, among them a $5.6 billion highway in Jamaica and a $3.9 billion metro project in Colombia, a close US ally.

“This region is rich in resources, and the Chinese don’t go there to invest. They go there to extract,” Richardson said of those projects.

At an event in Washington, DC, in April, Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, said US concerns about Chinese projects there were “totally unwarranted” and that China has pursued investments in Jamaica for “a long time while the US has been looking all over the place.”

We would want to see more US investment in Jamaica, but Jamaica can’t postpone its development needs until the US decides to come in [emphasis added],” Holness said.

Sergio Guzmán, director of Colombia Risk Analysis, a political risk consultancy, said that when Colombia has issued tenders for infrastructure projects, “US companies are completely AWOL.”

“So how can the US blame Colombia for giving them over to Chinese bidders, who are, by the way, the lowest bidders?” Guzmán told Insider.

The Biden administration’s signature international development effort, Build Back Better World, has foundered, and US private-sector investment has been hard to attract to the region, either because of the overall environment or because the opportunities, particularly infrastructure projects, aren’t well suited for American firms.

“There are efforts to try to increase and incentivize US investment in Latin America and the Caribbean now. The problem is that a lot of these initiatives are private-sector-led,” Myers said, “and in a moment in time when the investment environments aren’t necessarily improving in Latin America, it’s very difficult to generate that interest [emphasis added].”..

Richardson and other officials say the US military’s best asset for engagement is security cooperation — military education, training, and other exchanges that build on the US’s already extensive partnerships in the region [those “partnerships” in the past have not always had happy results for local populations, something they remember]

China’s defense cooperation with Latin American countries “is far less” than that of the US, “but it does exist and the overall trend line has been going up,” Daniel Erikson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Western Hemisphere, said at a conference in May…

The PRC in this hemisphere, as in Africa and Asia, is able to take a much longer and coherent approach to executing policies than the US, especially economic ones in light of the Americans’ reliance on the private sector.

Relevant earlier posts:

China: First Africa, Now Latin America [2014]

PRC’s Neo-Colonialism in Africa, Notably Congo (DRC) Section [2021]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme song of sorts, by Canadian band Joe Hall and the Continental Drift–“Nos Hablos Telefonos”:

India at BRICS Summit: Russia Hardly Isolated over Ukraine

As this blog has been pointing out–see posts noted at the bottom of this one–Bad Vlad is far from becoming an international pariah as a consequence of his invasion of Ukraine, despite what many in the West seem to believe. From Foreign Policy’s “Morning Brief”:

India’s BRICS Balancing Act

India has been pulled into the Quad (and now I2-U2), so can it continue playing nice with Russia and China, too?

By Colm Quinn, the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.

The BRICS Summit Begins

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa meet virtually today for a summit of BRICS nations. As well as a chance to discuss economic strategies outside a Western-dominated system, the meeting once again shows that, although Russia is isolated from the West, for the rest of the world it is still very much open for business [emphasis added].

Russian President Vladimir Putin joins the gathering today at a time when his country has become China’s largest crude oil supplier—a position usually enjoyed by Saudi Arabia. He will hold talks with a group of leaders who have so far tempered any criticism of the war in Ukraine.

Indeed Xi Jinping, in his address to the BRICS Business forum on Wednesday, appeared to lay the blame on Ukraine for Russia’s invasion, calling it a “wake up call” and a reminder that “attempts to expand military alliances and seek one’s own security at the expense of others will only land oneself in a security dilemma.”

Addressing the same forum, Putin was bullish on the economic opportunities presented by the group, touting negotiations on opening Indian chain stores in Russia, increasing Chinese industrial imports and “reorienting trade flows” to BRICS nations. According to Putin, trade with the group increased by 38 percent in the first quarter of 2022.

He added that the BRICS group could soon go a step further by challenging the U.S. dollar, creating its own international reserve currency based on the “basket of currencies of our countries.”

India’s options. For India, also a member of the Quad—along with Australia, Japan, and the United States—it faces a challenge to keep up its balancing act between East and West [emphasis added].

“India lives in a rough neighborhood and has been able to stick by its non-aligned policy to ensure its strategic autonomy by essentially engaging with everybody, and they’ve done a pretty good job of that,” Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, told Foreign Policy [see this post: “Russia vs Ukraine: India’s Strategic Autonomy (tous azimuts) in Action“]. “But as great power competition continues to heat up, not just between the U.S. and China, but now the U.S. and Russia, it’s going to be increasingly difficult and delicate to maintain that balance.”

Indian officials aren’t naïve about their position, and are reportedly working to block any attempts to insert anti-U.S. messaging into the BRICS joint statement as well as slow any attempts to expand the grouping.

That the BRICS grouping is not known as a particularly effective combination may work in India’s favor. “I think that India can make a gamble, which I think is pretty safe, and it can essentially, pledge full support for everything BRICS is doing to show that it’s a loyal member of the group, while at the same time betting on the strong likelihood that BRICS won’t be able to move the needle forward on a lot of the issues and plans that are discussed,” said Michael Kugelman, an Asia expert at the Wilson Center and author of FP’s South Asia Brief. “That would then spare India from having to make awkward decisions about how far to go and pursue policies within BRICS that could put it at odds with the West.”

India is in high demand in a busy few weeks for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He travels to Germany over the weekend to attend the G-7 summit and in July he joins another new grouping (and acronym) I2-U2, with the leaders of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States [emphasis added]

In its own way India still seems to be sitting fairly pretty.

A video on start of BRICS summit:

Those earlier posts:

Russia’s War on Ukraine, or, What Stinking “Free World”?

Russia Invading Ukraine: Countries Standing Aside, Africa Section

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds


India’s Strategic Autonomy and Various Realities, e.g. “Look East” but can it “Act East”? (note UPDATE)

An Indian Navy commodore (ret’d) gives a succinct review of the country’s regional positions at Rediff.com India (it is striking that Russia, up until now India’s largest supplier of arms, is not mentioned one):

How India Can Tackle Security Challenges

By Commodore VENUGOPAL MENON (retd) [tweets here]

India has the ability to be a great power and address our security challenges in the best national interests.
Our foreign policy has come of age and will stand the test of time in the days ahead.
It is best to keep out of geopolitical power games with due consideration to the foundations of our foreign policy…

Geopolitical Canvas

The geopolitical canvas in our immediate neighborhood is changing rapidly and this has put India in a dilemma on the efficacy of our stated policy of strategic autonomy.

There is a fundamental apprehension in policy circles as to whether our stand will enable us to face security challenges in the foreseeable future.

The combination of sub-conventional violence from Pakistan and land border tensions with China has triggered concerns within the political and military establishment.

Although I would not categorise South Asia as a volatile region in the current juncture, it has its share of uncertainties caused by the rise of China, instability in Pakistan, terrorism and asymmetric warfare, and the extent of engagement by China in the Indian Ocean region through their BRI projects and last but not the least the future of Afghanistan under the Taliban [given India’s perpetually strained relations with Pakistan, the troubles in Kashmir, and the two countries’ nuclear weapons, I would suggest that South Asia is inherently volatile].

These aspects are beyond our control and hence the need for a counter-strategy to meet the challenges.

China

The fact that China shares a long land border with India is a geographic factor that cannot be changed.

It is also important to note that China considers India as a challenger to its supremacy in the region.

An arms race to equal the Chinese juggernaut would only incur heavy costs and drain the coffers.

At the same time, we need to ensure and maintain credible deterrence levels at the border to thwart any border incursions by Chinese troops.

Alliances with other nations would at best provide diplomatic support to our stand on contentious issues [emphasis added, i.e. no direct military support likely], but it cannot provide a permanent solution to our bilateral issues.

Pakistan

The situation in Kashmir has improved considerably in the recent past, however, isolated incidents of terror do take place.

There is no reduction in the trust deficit between the two countries [emphasis added].

Pakistan continues to build up militarily with assistance from China.

Although our military modernisation programme is progressing albeit slowly, there are critical deficiencies in assets faced by the three services.

One such example and challenge for the Indian Navy is in our submarine force levels.

Currently, the Pakistan navy has three Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) conventional submarines which give them an advantage in undersea warfare.

The future induction of eight Yuan class boats (with AIP) from China would increase the number to 11 by 2035.

This is not a comfortable situation and can create an asymmetry in our maritime domain as we are way behind the starting blocks of our Project 75 I submarine construction programme [emphasis added, more here].

Afghanistan

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has created a vacuum in that country from a security perspective.

The waters look murky at the moment and it would be advisable to wait and watch as the situation evolves.

Big Power games in the Indo Pacific region

Security in the region cannot be viewed in isolation or exclusively from India’s prism.

It is important to factor in the influence of big powers and their competition to project power and gain influence in the region.

The question in this regard is what should be India’s stand in this power play? To maintain our policy of strategic autonomy or to team up with the Western alliance? There cannot be a third option [emphasis added].

Containment of China

The US had ignored the growth of China’s economic and military might during the last two decades which ironically was ignored by India too.

US foreign policy is desperately in need of a counter to China’s power potential lest it loses its unipolar status in the world.

Although then Japanese prime minister Abe Shinzo floated the idea of Quad in 2007, the movement fizzled out till 2017 when then US president Donald J Trump revived the concept.

The reasons could be many, but the most important factor is that there was no convergence of strategic objectives between the member countries.

Regrettably even now, little or no work has been done towards achieving that aim.

Terms like the Rule-Based International Order, shared democratic values and free and open Indo Pacific etc do not have any essence or meaning in the absence of clearly defined strategic objectives [emphasis added].

China has not been named for its hostile actions in any of the joint statements following a Quad summit thus far (one exception being when then US secretary of state Mike Pompeo singled out China in October 2020).

Why is this hesitation? The answer is very simple — China is an important trading partner for all members of Quad.

Hence, it is important to realise that behind the shadows of Quad, member countries continue to maintain bilateral relations with China in accordance with their national interests.

Is there any point in sailing in a rudderless, coxswain-less boat towards an unknown destination [emphasis added]? Hence there is a need to deliberately analyze the advantages/disadvantages before taking a call.

One sincerely hopes that we do not fall into the trap of being a pawn and get Ukrained in the bargain.

Importance of Alliances in Our Context

As per the foundations of our foreign policy, acceding to any security alliance is not an option unless there is a paradigm shift in our grand strategy (if there is one). A counterargument could be that the Quad is not [in reality] a security grouping or a counter-China initiative [emphasis added, in any event the US has long had bilateral treaties with Australia and Japan].

Then, what is its objective? Why is it ambiguous and open-ended? There are no free lunches in international relations and it is very likely that Quad will insist member countries to contribute significantly towards infrastructure development and other initiatives in Indo Pacific region.

Do we have the economic clout to invest in the region at the cost of our development? Therefore at some stage, we will have to take a call in the foreseeable future on whether this arrangement suits us or not.

Hope the establishment at Delhi is not contemplating that piggy banking on a loosely formed group like Quad is the best solution to project India as a big power [emphasis added]? If that is so, it will be a big blunder in the long run.

US’ Indo Pacific Strategy: Where do we fit in?

Although the name changed from Asia Pacific to Indo Pacific, nothing much has changed in US policy of demarcation of the world to suit its area of influence, provide a security umbrella for their allies and for power projection.

The term Indo Pacific brought about a euphoria amongst India’s strategic community about India’s centrality in US strategy which in a way is a false assumption [emphasis added]. Strategically, the US interest is centered on the South China Sea, the Far East and Oceania which is the fulcrum of its Indo Pacific strategy in order to check or counter Chinese influence and challenge to the unipolar world order.

The region to the west of the Malacca Straits and South Indian Ocean till MENA (Middle East and North Africa) is of less strategic importance to the US as has been seen post World War II.

We cannot expect that India’s security concerns in South Asia will be addressed by the West and therefore it is pragmatic to avoid any false sense of security [emphasis added].

Our engagement in the SCS — Practicality

Chinese engagement with countries bordering the South China Sea is deep-rooted and currently, we do not have the economic clout or resources to make a dent in that arrangement.

Continuous military presence in the region is neither desired nor warranted and it is quite possible that some of the ASEAN countries may object to our permanent presence if all it happens in the future.

In effect, there is a big gap between our Look East policy and Act East policy [emphasis added].

It is well known that about 50% of our inbound and outbound trade transit through the South China Sea, but there have been no instances of any trade being hampered by the Chinese navy or coast guard.

China has objected to ‘Freedom of Navigation’ patrols by the US navy through contested waters which have only increased the volatility in the region and increased tensions. India has not participated in such patrols thus far and is unlikely in the future too which is a wise decision.

Moreover, it is very unlikely that our trade would be hampered by China in the South China Sea fearing a backlash towards their safe energy flow through the south Indian Ocean which is within close proximity to India [emphasis added].

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that India has the ability in all respects to be a great power [but still it will be slowly, slowly] and address our security challenges in the best national interests.

Our foreign policy has come of age and will stand the test of time in the days ahead.

There is no requirement of toeing the line of any country to suit their national interests or be a client State [emphasis added].

It is best to keep out of geopolitical power games with due consideration to the foundations of our foreign policy.

The need of the hour is to give an added impetus to our indigenisation efforts as our national policy and support it with a long-term vision and goals.

If South Korea which was in the same state as India two decades ago attained a high degree of indigenisation and self reliance, we too can achieve it.

YES, WE CAN!!

Commodore Venugopal Menon served in the Indian Navy for 29 years in operational roles, including commands at sea, and training and staff assignments at Naval HQ.
In addition to the staff and war courses in the Indian Navy, he underwent the executive course at the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies, Honolulu.

A very substantial round-up of the Indo-Pacific/South Asian strategic situation from a widely-held Indian point of view. The US in particular should bear in mind these words of Scots poet Robbie Burns:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion…

Note this tweet from a retired most senior Indian diplomat:

UPDATE: June 12 tweet from the retired commodore with a rather different tone:

Relevant posts:

India–Leaning even Closer to US to Balance PRC but at same time Keeping in with Russia (tous azimuts of a sort) [Dec. 2020, based on article by a ret’d Indian Air Force air marshal]

Russia vs Ukraine: India’s Strategic Autonomy (tous azimuts) in Action [March 2022]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Russia vs Ukraine, or, the Perils of Overdoing Historical Analogies

A hard-nosed piece by Edward Lucas at the Center for European Policy Analysis, Washington, D.C.:

History Matters

But not as much as you think

Are we living in 1914 or 1939? Or 1918? These seemingly abstruse questions are at the heart of European countries’ policy (or lack of it) towards Ukraine. For some German thinkers, the danger is of “sleepwalking” into a big war, just as European leaders did, supposedly, in 1914. Nobody actually wanted a conflagration that would destroy prosperity, order, and security. But the decisions made in Berlin, Moscow, Vienna, and Paris made it inevitable.

This thesis is advanced in a thought-provoking book called “The Sleepwalkers”, published in 2012, by the Australian historian Christopher Clark [excellent book, he’s a professor at Cambridge–an earlier post: “The Start of the Great War, or, Sh.. Happens“]. Angela Merkel was a big fan. As my friend from the New Statesman, Jeremy Cliffe, notes in his latest column, so are many of her successors. Chancellor Olaf Scholz exclaimed in a recent meeting “I am not Kaiser Wilhelm”. What he meant was that he was not going to lead Germany into war by accident. He also fears the disruptive consequences of a protracted conflict.

Another common historical frame of reference is 1918, and the specter of the Versailles peace treaty. Its punitive treatment of defeated Germany sowed the seeds of the next conflict. Some people, such as the Moscow-based foreign-policy pundit Sergei Karaganov, believe that Russia already experienced a Versailles-style humiliation in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse. Others, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, believe that it is vital to avoid such an outcome when the Russia-Ukraine war ends. Either way, the lesson is clear: treat Russia better if you want good behavior in the future [emphasis added].

Another school of thought sees 1939 as the reference point. The West’s failure to stand up to Mussolini over Abyssinia in 1935, and to Hitler when he marched into the Rhineland in 1936, and took over Austria and the Sudetenland in 1938, paved the way for the attack on Poland in 1939. This is, seemingly, mirrored by more recent appeasement of Kremlin aggression against Estonia, Georgia, and other countries.

History is a useful stimulus to thought. But it is a poor guide to the present. The “Sleepwalker” thesis is flawed: it lets off bellicose Prussian militarism too lightly [see “PREDATE” tweet at bottom of the post; on the other hand see this post using a review by Prof. Clark: “Wilhelm the Jerk, Part 2: How Truly Determinative?“], and blames Serbian nationalism excessively [I disagree, see this post: “Serbia, Sarajevo and the Start of World War I“]. Its relevance to the Ukraine war is absurd, as pointed out by none other than Clark himself. Nobody wanted war then. But Putin clearly wants one now. The question is how we react to it.

The Versailles references are flimsy. The West did not humiliate Russia in the 1990s. It pampered and pandered to the Yeltsin Kremlin. If the war with Ukraine ends in disaster, the blame lies with Vladimir Putin, not those who resist his aggression [emphasis added]. The Russian leader can stop whenever he wants, and the sooner he does, the better for everybody.

Nor do the 1930s provide a template. The landscape was quite different then. Nazi Germany was an economic superpower. Russia is not. The Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939 has no modern counterpart (thank goodness [see this post: “Bad Vlad: 1939, or, Just Screw the Poles and Balts“]). We do not need historical analogies to know that we have left it perilously late to wake up to Russian neo-colonialism [emphasis added].

Germans are also far too ready to imbibe other mistaken historical lessons, such as Kremlin myths about the Second World War, which supposedly creates an eternal debt from Germany to modern Russia. Just for the record, the biggest losses as a share of population were in what is now Ukraine and Belarus [emphasis added–see this review of Timothy Snyder’s superb history, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin]. Any feelings of guilt or historical responsibility should be directed there, not used to justify greed and cowardice.

Rather than searching fruitlessly for analogies, our modern sleepwalkers should wake up to the pressing injustices of the present, and consider how future historians may judge their response.

Europe’s Edge is an online journal covering crucial topics in the transatlantic policy debate. All opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or views of the institutions they represent or the Center for European Policy Analysis.

PREDATE:

Earlier tweet–Count Harry Kessler was a member of the German elite, scroll up thread for more:

Recent relevant post:

Russia vs Ukraine: A Realist View–and Don’t Forget The Tsar’s Southwestern Front in 1914

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Hindus Fleeing Kashmir/ Two BJP Spokespersons Make Anti-Muslim Statements

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “Indian paramilitary soldiers patrol in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir. Kashmiri Pandits have been demanding more security in light of the violence. Photograph: Mukhtar Khan/AP”.)

1) Further to this November 2021 post,

The Perils Facing the Remaining Hindus in Kashmir

those perils still remain–from the Guardian:

‘Fear is increasing’: Hindus flee Kashmir amid spate of targeted killings

Increase in violence prompts protests and biggest exodus of Kashmiri Pandit families for two decades

Hundreds of minority Hindus have fled from Indian-administered Kashmir, and many more are preparing to leave, after a fresh spate of targeted killings stoked tensions in the disputed Himalayan region.

Three Hindus have been killed by militants in Kashmir this week alone, including a teacher and migrant workers, prompting mass protests and the largest exodus of Hindu families from the Muslim-majority region in two decades.

Sanjay Tickoo, a Kashmiri Pandit activist, said: “Some 3,500 people have left and more will be leaving in coming days.”

Many Hindu families said they were waiting to get discharge certificates for their children from schools and then would leave as soon as possible. “Fear is increasing with each new killing,” said Tickoo. “The minorities are facing the worst situation in Kashmir.”..

At least 19 civilians have been killed this year in similar targeted attacks in the region, including minority Hindus, government employees and a woman who was known for her Instagram videos.

Police have blamed Pakistan-backed militant groups for the killings…

After the string of attacks, Hindus say they being driven out of the region. These include Kashmiri Hindus, commonly referred to as Pandits, 65,000 of whom first fled from the valley in a mass exodus in the 1990s, when a violent pro-Pakistan insurgency broke out in the region and they began to be targeted [see this post: ‘PM Modi Likes Bollywood Blockbuster “The Kashmir Files”‘].

By 2010, a few thousand Kashmiri Hindus had returned to the Muslim-majority region, enticed by a government rehabilitation policy that provided jobs and guarded accommodation to about 4,000 people. But in recent weeks, those who returned have been protesting against the killings and demanding more security. Hindu employees have been abstaining from their duties, urging the government to relocate them to safer locations.

“We are in a 1990s-like situation,” said Pyarai Lal, 65, who lives in Sheikhpora Budgam, in one of the seven guarded housing facilities provided to Hindus. “My son is a teacher and he has not attended his duty for the last two weeks. We are afraid to even leave our home. Who knows when a gunman will attack?”..

Authorities have promised the employees they will be posted to safer locations, and police made assurances they were increasing security by intensifying counter-insurgency operations, surveillance and using drones.

But many Kashmiri Pandits have accused authorities of barring them from leaving and allege that police and paramilitary forces have been deployed at the gates of their government provided accommodations to stop them…

The targeted attacks against Hindus pose a great political challenge to prime minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) government, which has made repeated promises to look after the interests of Kashmiri Pandits. On Friday, India’s home minister, Amit Shah, held a high-level review meeting on the security situation in the region, but no government statement has been made on the issue.

In 2019, Modi unilaterally revoked Kashmir’s autonomy, and enforced a military crackdown under the guise of greater security for Kashmir. The government introduced a slew of laws allowing non-locals to buy property in the region, in the hope of enticing Hindus to settle in the state, a move many locals feared was Delhi’s attempt to bring about demographic changes in the Muslim-majority region.

Many see the removal of Kashmir’s autonomy in 2019, as well as Hindu nationalist policies of the Modi government, which have driven an increase in attacks against Muslims in India, as a driving force behind the growing surge of violence in Kashmir…

2) Further to this post,

India, or, the BJP, State Elections, Karnataka and the Hijab-Jeebies

now a couple of BJP people have at Muslims–from Deutshe Welle:

India faces backlash over BJP’s ‘Islamophobic’ remarks

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has come under fire for incendiary comments about the Prophet Muhammad. Muslim countries have lodged protests amid calls for a boycott of Indian goods.

A row over remarks by India’s ruling party officials grew on Monday [June 6] as several Muslim-majority countries summoned Indian diplomats.

The comments by the now-suspended members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) triggered wide criticism from Arab and Muslim-majority countries, which say the comments were offensive and “Islamophobic.” 

What triggered the row?

Last week, BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma commented on Prophet Muhammad’s youngest wife during a televised debate, specifically about how old she was believed to be when they married.

Her remarks were blamed for clashes in an Indian state and prompted demands for her arrest.

The BJP on Sunday said it had suspended [her], and denounced “insult of any religious personalities of any religion.”

Sharma took to Twitter to retract her statement, saying that the comments were made in response to “insults” made against the Hindu god Shiva.

The BJP also expelled spokesman Naveen Kumar Jindal over comments made about Islam on social media. Jindal said he questioned some comments made against Hindu gods on Twitter: “I only questioned them but that does not mean I am against any religion.”

How did Muslim countries react?

The Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) said the remarks came in a “context of intensifying hatred and abuse toward Islam in India and systematic practices against Muslims.”

Resisting such allegations, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India “categorically rejects OIC Secretariat’s unwarranted and narrow-minded comments. The government of India accords the highest respect to all religions.”..

With calls for the boycott of Indian-made goods spreading across several Muslim countries, the BJP-helmed government has been propelled into action over 10 days after the comments were first made. 

Religious tensions have escalated in India in recent months, with critics saying they are prompted by Indian television anchors during raucous debates [see this post: “Hindutva on the March in India–any Real Crackdown?“]

Plus a tweet by a retired Indian army brigadier:

One thing after another for intercommunal relations.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Russia vs Ukraine: A Realist View–and Don’t Forget The Tsar’s Southwestern Front in 1914

1) Further to this post, (part 2 of it is also based on a piece by Mr Douthat),

Ukraine vs Russia: How Much Success is Too Much Success? Or…

the house conservative at the NY Times “Sunday Review” again sounds precautionary notes–and keep in mind that the main enemy is well to the east. The second part of his article today:

We Can’t Be Ukraine Hawks Forever

…when I read the broader theories of hawkish commentators, their ideas about America’s strategic vision and what kind of endgame we should be seeking in the war, I still find myself baffled by their confidence and absolutism.

For instance, for all their defensive successes, we have not yet established that Ukraine’s military can regain significant amounts of territory in the country’s south and east. Yet we have Anne Applebaum of The Atlantic insisting that only Putin’s defeat and indeed “humiliation” can restore European stability, while elsewhere in the same magazine Casey Michel calls for dismantling the Russian Federation, framed as the “decolonization” of Russia’s remaining empire, as the only policy for lasting peace.

Or again, the United States has currently committed an extraordinary sum to back Ukraine — far more than we spent in foreign aid to Afghanistan in any recent year, for instance — and our support roughly trebles the support offered by the European Union. Yet when this newspaper’s editorial board raised questions about the sustainability of such support, the response from many Ukraine hawks was a furious how dare you — with an emphasis, to quote Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution, on Ukraine’s absolute right to fight “until every inch of their territory is free”; America’s strictly “modest” and “advisory” role in Ukrainian decision-making; and the importance of offering Kyiv, if not a blank check, at least a “very very big check with more checks to follow.”

These theories all seem to confuse what is desirable with what is likely, and what is morally ideal with what is strategically achievable [emphasis added]. I have written previously about the risks of nuclear escalation in the event of a Russian military collapse, risks that hawkish theories understate. But given the state of the war right now, the more likely near-future scenario is one where Russian collapse remains a pleasant fancy, the conflict becomes stalemated and frozen, and we have to put our Ukrainian policy on a sustainable footing without removing Putin’s regime or dismantling the Russian empire.

In that scenario, our plan cannot be to keep writing countless checks while tiptoeing modestly around the Ukrainians and letting them dictate the ends to which our guns and weaponry are used. The United States is an embattled global hegemon facing threats more significant than Russia. We are also an internally divided country led by an unpopular president whose majorities may be poised for political collapse. So if Kyiv and Moscow are headed for a multiyear or even multi-decade frozen conflict, we will need to push Ukraine toward its most realistic rather than its most ambitious military strategy. And just as urgently, we will need to shift some of the burden of supporting Kyiv from our own budget to our European allies [emphasis added].

Righteous (and properly felt) disgust over the brutal Russian conduct of the war nonetheless should not lead to emotional rejection–unless the Russians simply collapse–of all efforts to find ways to end the fighting that result in less than a complete defeat for Bad Vlad Putin. Horrid though he be the Russian vozhd is still not Hitler. Nor Stalin. Nor Mao.

Moreover, should Russia somehow end up “humiliated”, it is absurd to think that any new government would be truly conciliatory or democratic. Rather think of Germans lusting for revenge after World War I.

A tweet by the noted strategist and historian, Edward Luttwak:

Plebiscites were held in several contested border regions after World War I.

2) Plus excerpts from the newsletter, TOP SECRET UMBRA, of John Schindler (tweets here), a serious historian of the Italian and Russian/Austrian fronts in World War, as well as an expert on intelligence matters; do read it all:

Military History Repeats in Ukraine

The current Russian advance in Ukraine, driven by artillery, should surprise nobody who’s acquainted with history – in fact, it’s happened before

After initial bloody setbacks, the Russian military is advancing deep in Ukraine. Defenders have acquitted themselves with unexpected grit, blunting initial Russian blows. But eventually weight of shell begins to turn the tide as the attacker’s artillery outnumbers and outguns the defenders. Soon, a debacle looms as retreat threatens to turn into a rout. The high hopes of just weeks before, the victory euphoria seeing Russian forces reeling from heavy blows, slowly turn to doubt, even despair.

It’s the summer of 1914.

Watching battlefield events unfold in Ukraine’s Southeast in recent days, as Russia’s aggression against its neighbor is in its fourth month, it’s difficult for anybody acquainted with that country’s military history not to feel an unsettling sense of déjà vu.

…the Ukraine war has shifted to the country’s Southeast, where Russia made landgrabs in the Donbas in 2014. Here, Moscow is making its move, with the obvious objective of recreating Novorossiya with a land-bridge to Crimea through the devastated city of Mariupol, now in Russian hands after an almost three-month siege that claimed thousands of lives. Such an imperial-throwback concept like rebirthing some facsimile of Novorossiya across southern Ukraine – if extended to Moldova it would economically cripple what’s left of Ukraine by taking away its Black Sea access – makes some strategic and geographic sense and was always the Kremlin’s achievable objective in this war. Now, Putin is doing that.

What happens next cannot be predicted with certainty but Ukraine’s looming defeat in the Southeast paradoxically offers a way to cease the fighting, at least temporarily. Given the economic pain caused by sanctions, which is only getting worse, Putin would be wise to pause his offensives after achieving modest success in the Southeast: at this point, the Kremlin is looking for a win, any win, to sell to the Russian public as justification for the enormous cost in blood and treasure of Putin’s war-of-choice.

Militarily, Russia’s offensive in the Southeast, though plodding, seems to be finally going Moscow’s way. At last, the Russian military is playing to its strengths in firepower. The Kremlin has decided to crush Ukrainian resistance, one punishing artillery barrage at a time…

…Current events in Ukraine eerily resemble summertime military operations in that country, 108 years ago. That was the Battle for Galicia, in today’s Western Ukraine, which was a grave defeat for Austria-Hungary, indeed a setback from which that country’s military never really recovered…

Some of the similarities…are troubling. In 1914, as today, the Russians dealt harshly with civilians in Galicia whom they considered disloyal or dangerous: some were shot outright while many thousands of others, Ukrainian, Poles, and especially Jews, were abducted and dispatched deep into Russia as hostages.

…the continuities between the fight for Ukraine in 1914 and the fight today appear more significant than the differences. Again, a Russian army backed by vast amounts of gunnery is grinding defenders down…

The outcome of the battle for the Donbas may well determine Ukraine’s fate for years to come. Local defeat looms but that need not become strategic defeat: that depends on Kyiv’s military moves right now. Time is the most undervalued aspect of warfighting but also the most difficult to grasp. War invariably develops its own logic. In that sense, war never changes, particularly when it involves Russians.

P.S. For readers seeking more on the Galician campaign of summer 1914 and its decisive impact on European history, I modestly recommend my book on the subject.

And a very good book it is:

This recent post is also relevant:

Why the Russian Army’s Poor Performance in Ukraine (so far)…and Western Armies?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Russia’s War vs Ukraine: Latvians to Demolish Soviet World War II Monument

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “Police vehicles in front of the Soviet ‘Victory Monument,’ in Riga, Latvia, on May 24. Police have been guarding the Soviet war monument and barriers have been erected around it to prevent any further clashes at the site. Gints Ivuskans/The Globe and Mail”.)

Lots of chickens coming home to roost in countries incorporated by the Soviet/Russian communists. From a story by a Globe and Mail man in Riga for the moment:

In Latvia, the battle over a Soviet monument sparks tensions across the Baltic country

Geoffrey York

Some time in the next six months, workers will begin demolishing a massive 79-metre-tall Soviet war monument that has loomed above Latvia’s capital city for decades. Then the country will brace for Moscow’s angry retaliation.

The newly approved plan to tear down the monument is the Baltic country’s latest response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And it is already heightening emotions and political clashes here.

Riga’s mayor, Martins Stakis, said in an interview that he expects a wave of Russian reprisals, including cyberattacks, when the city dismantles the concrete obelisk and bronze statues of the Soviet memorial.

”Our security agencies are monitoring it very carefully and preparing for potential provocations from inside and from outside,” Mr. Stakis said. ”We just have to take a brave decision, deal with these provocations and move forward.”

But the damage won’t be inflicted only on concrete and bronze, and the danger is not merely from Moscow. The battle over the monument is sharpening ethnic and political tensions, fuelling hard-liners and driving a wedge between the country’s Latvian-speaking majority and its Russian-speaking minority, who represent about 25 per cent of its population [emphasis added].

…Many Latvians are still unhappy with the compromises that were made to placate Moscow after the Soviet Union’s collapse – including a 1994 agreement to preserve Soviet memorials, despite the emotions they evoke in Latvia, where many consider them symbols of Kremlin occupation.

That agreement was finally torn up in mid-May, when the demolition plan was approved. But many Latvians want speedier action.

On May 20, about 5,000 people marched to a park near the Soviet obelisk, demanding the immediate demolition of all such monuments. They also called for the expulsion of “disloyal” people who support Russian President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine.

“Enough is enough,” said Ralfs Eilands, a popular Latvian musician who helped organize the march…

The march was a response to the events of May 9 and 10, when hundreds of Russian-speaking people laid flowers at the Soviet monument to mark the traditional Victory Day holiday. When a city tractor removed the flowers, a group returned defiantly with more. Some waved Russian flags, sang Soviet army songs, drank vodka and battled with police.

Many Latvians saw the flag-waving as an insult. Some, including Mr. Eilands, are demanding “local sanctions” – some form of direct action against those who support the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine…

The flag-wavers are only a tiny fraction of Latvia’s Russian-speaking population. Polls show that Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has weakened his popularity here…

But even if the number of Kremlin supporters in Latvia is shrinking, the polarization between the pro-Moscow side and the Latvian nationalist side is worsening. Assaults on pro-Ukrainian demonstrators, apparently by Russians, have been reported in Riga recently. Some Latvian media have accused pro-war Russians of being a traitorous “fifth column” inside the country. At the May 20 march, some demonstrators carried a sign proclaiming: “Latvian land, Latvian rules [emphasis added].”

Authorities, fearing more clashes, have banned two planned rallies in support of the Soviet monument. Several Russian-speaking politicians were briefly detained when they tried to defend the monument. The obelisk is now surrounded by police cars, to discourage any further clashes…

“The tensions now are worse than they were even in the early 1990s,” said Miroslav Mitrofanov, a city councillor in Riga and a leader of the Latvian Russian Union, a political party that is largely supported by Russian-speaking voters.

His party is increasingly marginalized from the political mainstream. Riga today is filled with Ukrainian flags and pro-Ukraine banners, and even the city’s flower beds are arranged in the yellow-and-blue colours of the Ukrainian flag. The Russian embassy in Riga is surrounded by Ukrainian flags and anti-war placards, which portray Mr. Putin as an evil demon.

Mr. Mitrofanov tried to organize a march to defend the Soviet monument, but the city banned the event after the state security agency warned it could cause “public disorder” and national-security risks.

The bans on pro-monument marches have fuelled the feeling of victimhood among many Russian speakers here [emphasis added]

The government has found an effective way to weaken local support for Mr. Putin: After the war began, it banned all Russian state television channels in the country. The percentage of Russian speakers who support the invasion of Ukraine has dropped from 21 per cent in March to barely half of that number in late April [emphasis added].

Yet many people are still managing to watch Russian television, using illegal connections and satellite dishes. Many older people, in particular, are unwilling to quit their lifelong habit of watching Moscow’s nightly propaganda broadcasts – a habit that began in Soviet days…

“Many of us have lost our parents to Putin’s media,” said Deniss Hanovs, a Latvian professor who studies intercultural communication.

His 74-year-old mother, a devotee of Russian television, remains a supporter of the Kremlin’s war today, despite all his attempts to dissuade her. “I feel that I’ve lost her,” he said. “She was kidnapped by Putin, symbolically. It’s dangerous to let Putin into the brains of people.”

He believes, however, that Latvian nationalists are adopting the same intolerant tactics that the Soviet Union used against Latvia in the past. By demolishing monuments and threatening to deport Russians, they are damaging the inter-ethnic dialogue that Latvia desperately needs, he said…

Latvians take part in a march on May 20, in response to celebrations of the Russian Victory Day holiday.Gints Ivuskans/The Globe and Mail

Bad Vlad sure is a master strategist who knows how to win friends and influence people.

Canada leads NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup in Latvia–NATO webpage here, Canadian Armed Force’s Op REASSURANCE here.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Russia Invading Ukraine: Countries Standing Aside, Africa Section

(Caption for photo at top of the post, “The 2019 Sochi summit drew almost all of Africa’s heads of state”–from this Feb. 27 BBC story: “Ukraine conflict: How Russia forged closer ties with Africa”.)

One doesn’t see the Biden administration or the US media noting the absence of real opposition to/condemnation of Russia in great parts of the world. Further to this post in early March,

Asia: Major Parts of the World Not Part of “International Community’s” Condemning Russia on Ukraine

now the Globe and Mail’s man in Africa reports on the situation in that continent:

Zelensky struggles to gain support in African countries as Russian interests prevail

Geoffrey York Africa Bureau Chief

Johannesburg

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the chairman of the African Union early last month and asked if he could speak to African leaders to explain his country’s plight since the Russian invasion. The response was polite but noncommittal.

Five weeks later, even after repeating his request to another African Union official, Mr. Zelensky is still waiting for a chance to speak.

The unofficial snub is the latest sign of Russia’s continuing influence in many African countries. While the West sends a seemingly endless flow of weapons and politicians to Kyiv, there has been a distinct lack of African support for Ukraine and, significantly, a complete absence of African sanctions against Moscow.

This has been helpful to the Russian cause. Africa may be far from the war zone, but it has strategic value for President Vladimir Putin. It provides votes at the United Nations, arms sales for Russia’s military industry, business for its private military contractors, resources for its extractive sector and potential bases for its navy.

Mr. Zelensky has sought to weaken Mr. Putin’s support base in Africa, but has struggled to gain traction. While many African governments profess to be neutral on the war in Ukraine, they have often signalled tacitly that they favour the Russian side [emphasis added].

Despite pressure from Ukrainian diplomats and some Western powers, not a single African country has joined the West in imposing sanctions on the Russian government.

*Russian mercenaries accused of torture and killings of civilians in Central African Republic

*Mali’s military junta blocks UN investigation of alleged massacre by Malian and Russian forces

Mr. Sall [president of Senegal], the chair of the African Union, spoke with Mr. Putin on March 9. He then waited more than a month before taking Mr. Zelensky’s call on April 11…

South Africa, like many African countries, has abstained on key UN votes on the war in Ukraine, but the statements by its government and its ruling party seem to have endorsed the Russian view of the conflict. They have usually adopted the Kremlin’s preferred terminology – rarely using the terms “war” or “invasion” – as well as Moscow’s mantra of blaming NATO for provoking the crisis.

In neighbouring Zimbabwe, the government has been even more sympathetic to Mr. Putin’s viewpoint. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in a recent newspaper column, said the Russian invasion of Ukraine was merely a “robust response” to the “threat of encirclement by NATO.” He echoed the Kremlin’s rhetoric by criticizing the Western military alliance for its “provocative eastward expansion in Europe.”

…self-interested factors… motivate much of the African response to the war [quelle surprise!]. Some African leaders have a genuine preference for a neutral or non-aligned stand on the distant conflict, seeking to maintain relations with all sides. Some feel a historical loyalty to Moscow based on the anti-colonial struggles of the past. But many are also following their commercial and military interests…

In…[some] African countries, especially those with authoritarian regimes, there is a reluctance to antagonize Russia because it is their biggest supplier of weapons – and, increasingly, private military contractors as well [Wagner Group, anyone?].

The military agreement between Cameroon and Russia, unveiled last month, would reportedly allow Cameroon to obtain weapons and armoured vehicles while also helping it gain access to Russian intelligence and training.

“Cameroon needed a defence partner that could back its national military operational interest without conditions or interference,” said David Otto Endeley, an analyst at the Geneva Centre for Africa Security and Strategic Studies.

“Russia presents itself as a partner ready to do business with no strings attached.”

With a report from Ndi Eugene Ndi in Yaoundé, Cameroon

Other relevant posts:

Russia vs Ukraine: India’s Strategic Autonomy (tous azimuts) in Action

Russia’s War on Ukraine, or, What Stinking “Free World”?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme song, Joe Biden doesn’t:

Will Anyone in PM Trudeau’s Cabinet Bother to Read Joanna Chiu’s Book on the PRC?

When BBQ spareribs fly, one supposes. Excerpts from a story at the Globe and Mail:

Toronto Star’s Joanna Chiu wins Shaughnessy Cohen Prize

Ian Bailey

Toronto Star journalist Joanna Chiu has won this year’s Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing [website here].

Ms. Chiu, who is based in Vancouver, was honoured for her first book, China Unbound: A New World Disorder, which is about China’s influence in Canada and around the world [more here].

“The rise of China is the geopolitical story of the twentieth-first century, and Joanna Chiu has expertly charted the country’s efforts to extend its power around the globe,” the judges said in a statement…

The judges said Ms. Chiu had done a masterful job of reporting the story of modern China in her book, which was published by House of Anansi Press.

“From meeting displaced Uyghurs in Istanbul and China-curious entrepreneurs in Sicily, to witnessing street protests in Hong Kong and Xi Jinping’s wooing of Vladimir Putin in Beijing, Chiu does on-the-ground reporting and adds brisk, smart analysis of China’s creeping influence in Canada and around the world. The result: China Unbound is a sweeping portrait of a rising superpower that is essential reading for any follower of Canadian politics [emphasis added].”..

The award recognizes a book of literary nonfiction on a political subject relevant to Canadian readers that has the potential to influence thinking on Canadian political life…

One can but hope…and sigh. An earlier post based on a story by Ms Chiu (tweets here):

Two Followers on Twitter and the PRC Persecutes a Chinese in Canada

UPDATE:This sort of thing is certainly going on in Canada yet oddly no-one ever gets charged. One furiously wonders why. At Defense One’s “D Brief“:

Four alleged Chinese intelligence officers were charged Wednesday [May 18], along with a U.S. citizen, for spying on activists critical of China who lived in or around Queens, New York. This operation stretched out over a decade going back to at least 2011.
How it happened: The American, 73-year-old Wang Shujun, “helped start a pro-democracy organization in Queens that opposes the current communist regime in China,” the Justice Department said Wednesday. During this time, Wang “used his position and status within the Chinese diaspora and dissident communities to covertly collect information about prominent activists and human rights leaders,” and sent that information back to officers in China’s Ministry of State Security. Sometimes the information was passed in person during visits to China; but he also used encrypted messaging apps as well as 163 email “diaries” the MSS accessed in mainland China.
“The Chinese government’s aggressive tactics were once confined to its borders. Now, the PRC is targeting people in the United States and around the world,” said Alan Kohler Jr., who works in the FBI’s National Security Branch.
Those targeted included “Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, advocates for Taiwanese independence, and Uyghur and Tibetan activists,” the Justice Department said. When asked about his role in the process, Wang allegedly lied to federal officials, which only yielded still more charges. He has since been arrested and will be arraigned sometime later; the other four officers remain at large.

And a related recent post:

Look, Ma! In the US They Arrest People for Interfering in Elections for the PRC

More images of the book and Ms Chiu:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Ukraine vs Russia: How Much Success is Too Much Success? Or…

…the risks of becoming “Dizzy with Success“, as Stalin put it. Extracts from two opinion pieces at the NY Times “Sunday Review”:

1) By a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books:

America and Its Allies Want to Bleed Russia. They Really Shouldn’t.

By Tom Stevenson

Mr. Stevenson is a journalist specializing in energy, defense and geopolitics who reported from Ukraine during the first weeks of the war.

…The U.S. secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, has said the goal is “to see Russia weakened.” The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said Ukraine is defending “democracy writ large for the world.” Britain’s foreign minister, Liz Truss, was explicit about widening the conflict to take in Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia, such as Crimea, when she spoke of evicting Russia from “the whole of Ukraine.” This is both an expansion of the battlefield and a transformation of the war.

…Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia were always fraught but contained moments of promise. They have now stalled completely. Russia bears its fair share of responsibility, of course. But European channels to Moscow have been all but severed, and there is no serious effort from the United States to seek diplomatic progress, let alone cease-fires.

When I was in Ukraine during the first weeks of the war, even staunch Ukrainian nationalists expressed views far more pragmatic than those that are routine in America now. Talk of neutral status for Ukraine and internationally monitored plebiscites in Donetsk and Luhansk has been jettisoned in favor of bombast and grandstanding.

The war was dangerous and destructive enough in its initial form. The combination of expanded strategic aims and scotched negotiations has made it more dangerous still. At present, the only message to Russia is: There is no way out. Though President Vladimir Putin did not declare general conscription in his Victory Day speech on May 9, a conventional escalation of this kind is still possible.

Nuclear weapons are discussed in easy tones, not least on Russian television. The risk of cities being reduced to corium remains low without NATO deployment in Ukraine, but accident and miscalculation cannot be discounted. And the conflict takes place at a time when most of the Cold War arms control agreements between the United States and Russia have been allowed to lapse.

A weakened Russia was a likely outcome of the war even before the shift in U.S. policy. Russia’s economic position has deteriorated. Far from a commodity superpower, its undersized domestic industry is struggling and is dependent on technology imports that are now inaccessible.

What’s more, the invasion has led directly to greater military spending in second- and third-tier European powers. The number of NATO troops in Eastern Europe has grown tenfold, and a Nordic expansion of the organization is likely. A general rearmament of Europe is taking place, driven not by desire for autonomy from American power but in service to it. For the United States, this should be success enough. It is unclear what more there is to gain by weakening Russia, beyond fantasies of regime change.

Ukraine’s future depends on the course of the fighting in the Donbas and perhaps the south. The physical destruction of the east is already well underway. Ukrainian casualties are not insignificant; estimates of the number killed and wounded vary widely, but it is certainly in the tens of thousands. Russia has destroyed whatever sense of shared heritage remained before the invasion.

But the longer the war, the worse the damage to Ukraine and the greater the risk of escalation. A decisive military result in eastern Ukraine may prove elusive. Yet the less dramatic outcome of a festering stalemate is hardly better. Indefinite protraction of the war, as in Syria, is too dangerous with nuclear-armed participants.

Diplomatic efforts ought to be the centerpiece of a new Ukraine strategy. Instead, the war’s boundaries are being expanded and the war itself recast as a struggle between democracy and autocracy, in which the Donbas is the frontier of freedom. This is not just declamatory extravagance. It is reckless. The risks hardly need to be stated.

2) And by the “Sunday Review’s” house conservative:

There Are Two Endgames in Ukraine. Both Carry Big Risks.

By Ross Douthat

Opinion Columnist

Our success…yields new strategic dilemmas. Two scenarios loom for the next six months of war. In the first, Russia and Ukraine trade territory in small increments, and the war gradually cools into a “frozen conflict” in a style familiar from other wars in Russia’s near abroad.

Under those circumstances, any lasting peace deal would probably require conceding Russian control over some conquered territory, in Crimea and the Donbas, if not the land bridge now mostly held by Russian forces in between. This would hand Moscow a clear reward for its aggression, notwithstanding everything else that Russia has lost in the course of its invasion. And depending on how much territory was ceded, it would leave Ukraine mutilated and weakened, notwithstanding its military success.

So such a deal might seem unacceptable in Kyiv, Washington or both. But then the alternative — a permanent stalemate that’s always poised for a return to low-grade war — would also leave Ukraine mutilated and weakened, reliant on streams of Western money and military equipment, and less able to confidently rebuild…

There is…[a] scenario…in which…the stalemate breaks in Ukraine’s favor. This is the future that the Ukrainian military claims is within reach — where with sufficient military aid and hardware they are able to turn their modest counteroffensives into major ones and push the Russians back not just to prewar lines but potentially out of Ukrainian territory entirely.

Clearly, this is the future America should want — except for the extremely important caveat that it’s also the future where Russian nuclear escalation suddenly becomes much more likely than it is right now.

We know that Russian military doctrine envisions using tactical nuclear weapons defensively, to turn the tide in a losing war [emphasis added, see post noted at the bottom of this one]. We should assume that Putin and his circle regard total defeat in Ukraine as a regime-threatening scenario. Combine those realities with a world where the Russians are suddenly being routed, their territorial gains evaporating, and you have the most nuclear-shadowed military situation since our naval blockade of Cuba in 1962.

I’ve been turning over these dilemmas since I moderated a recent panel at the Catholic University of America with three right-of-center foreign policy thinkers — Elbridge Colby, Rebeccah Heinrichs and Jakub Grygiel. On the wisdom of our support for Ukraine up till now, the panel was basically united. On the question of the war’s endgame and the nuclear peril, however, you could see our challenges distilled — with Grygiel emphasizing the importance of Ukraine’s recovering territory in the east and along the Black Sea coastline in order to be plausibly self-sufficient in the future, but then the more hawkish Heinrichs and the more cautious Colby sparring over what our posture should be in the event that rapid Ukrainian advances are met with a Russian tactical nuclear strike.

That question isn’t the one immediately before us; it will only become an issue if Ukraine begins to make substantial gains. But since we are arming the Ukrainians on a scale that seems intended to make a counteroffensive possible, I sincerely hope a version of the Colby-Heinrichs back-and-forth is happening at the highest reaches of our government — before an issue that matters now on academic panels becomes the most important question in the world.

That post:

Public Russian Nuclear Weapons Use Doctrine–Willing to go First if Necessary

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds