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There's a big to-do about an investigative thing by Australia's Four Corners/Fairfax Media concerning Chinese influence in Australia. ASIO investigation targets Communist Party links to Australian political system ASIO is the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, which curated the dossiers that Four Corners/Fairfax assiduously summarized and spun. I think the series is highly significant, perhaps not... Read More
Readers of China Matters may have noticed there hasn’t been too much to read lately. That’s because since the beginning of the year I’ve been doing a weekly video reports for Newsbud, an online indy media outfit run by Sibel Edmonds. It started with China Watch, a weekly newsprogram that covers key China-related international affairs.... Read More
I expect the PRC government has a team of spooks and doctors whose main job is to monitor the Dalai Lama’s public appearances for indications concerning his health. The Dalai Lama’s April 8 visit to Tawang probably gave them something to chew on, because he didn’t look that good to me. He was mentally acute... Read More
I try to keep a certain distance from the anti-Trump circus. But I do want to put some thoughts on record, given the obsession with Trump’s Russia connection and what I see is a determined effort to minimize the British/NATO angle in the attack on Trump. My personal feeling is that there are significant swaths... Read More
My latest Newsbud video looks at signals from Secretary of Defense Mattis' trip to Asia and what it means for the South China Sea, East China Sea, and North Korea now, Trump Asia policy looks pretty mainstream.One point I make in the piece is that Trump isn't necessarily eschewing bloody American military mischief; he's just... Read More
Afghanistan, as a crossroads of empire and a key stage in the Silk Road, is dotted with important archaeological sites that go back 5000 years and can provide insights into the evolution of civilizations across Asia and, in fact, civilization itself. Most of these sites are beyond the reach of the Afghan government’s woefully underfunded... Read More
Over the last month, I’ve been busy making videos for Newsbud, the indie news outfit run by Sibel Edmonds. Don’t be a free media leech! Go to newsbud.com, view my stuff, retweet it, and pay a few bucks and become a member! My most recent Newsbud video keyed off the CCTV New Year’s Gala to... Read More
If by fascist, you mean “adherent of a movement determined to seize state power with the help of violence committed by a disciplined and armed auxiliary, if necessary, to reorder society to achieve extra-constitutional, self-defined racial or ethnic objectives embodied by a charismatic leader”, that is. Narendra Modi and his BJP party, in my reading,... Read More
It's now publicly accepted that the CIA, factions in the CIA, whatever, object to Trump and are making life difficult for him. The interesting question is, is President Obama just a passenger on the runaway Deep State train, thoughtlessly rattling through his hollow valedictories, or is he the conductor? or the engineer? I was struck... Read More
A lot of government/media misdirection going on concerning Afghanistan. I read the tea leaves over at Asia Times in a piece on Ashraf Ghani’s public lovefest with Nadendra Modi at the “Heart of Asia” conference. Pakistan and China were there, but got precious little “heart”. The piece is titled “The hole at the Heart of... Read More
I have a piece up at Asia Times on Donald Trump’s North Korea options: waste it, sanction it (and China), or have a burger with Kim Jong Un: Trump, North Korea, bombs, and burgers. “Kinda crippling sanctions” got another workout at the UN on November 30, highlighting a point I made in the piece that... Read More
I don’t share the US FP handwringing over Trump’s retreat from overarching multilateral initiatives in favor of bilateral engagements in Asia. The point of the complex multi-lateral arrangements—the pivot, rebalance, whatever you want to call it, and TPP—were intended to position the United States as the “indispensable nation” in Asia, the glue that was needed... Read More
I have not one but two! posts up at Asia Times on the Trump shock. Hillary is Gone; Will the Pivot Live On? The US Pivot to Asia: Death by Trump In my opinion, the pivot was always an auto-da-fé, an act of faith: a cumbersome, expensive, difficult, and onerous strategy that ran counter to... Read More
Is Japan the America’s Pit Bull or Lap Dog… …or Dog in the Manger?
As I discuss in my most recent piece for Asia Times, Duterte v. United States: The Empire Slaps Back, I find the US tunnel vision concerning Asian attitudes toward engagement with China puzzling. The big story in Asia IMO is the smaller powers trying to integrate with the PRC economically while keeping it at arms’... Read More
I’ve written a couple pieces of the smoking hot issue in Pivotland, Philippine president Duterte’s swerve toward a pro-PRC foreign policy, and what the U.S. and pro-American sector of the Manila elite are going to do about it. The first piece, Reports of death of US-Philippine alliance may be exaggerated, addresses the fact that Duterte’s... Read More
India-Pakistan relations look to be interesting in the next few years, especially if by “interesting” one means “potential for regional conflagration with toasty global elements”. If the PRC continues its rise at its current trajectory and under its current management, chances are that by 2050 the United States will be facing a China that is... Read More
I consider North Korea to be America’s stalking horse for its China strategy. If I’m right, things aren’t looking too good. I have a piece up at Asia Times, Will We Have to Nuke Asia in Order to Save It? It reviews the recent excitement over the fifth North Korean nuclear test and addresses the... Read More
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Awkwardly, apparently. Awkward facts surrounding Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's awkward estrangement from the United States seem to produce some awkward reporting. I have a piece up at Asia Times about “Sonofawhore-gate” i.e. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s alleged insult delivered to President Obama that got the Duterte-Obama confab in Laos canceled, and was breathlessly reported in... Read More
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Hillary Clinton affirmed “American exceptionalism” in a speech to the American Legion in Cincinnati on August 31. Her speech was another episode in the chronicle of Clintonian triangulation: the continual search for positions that co-opt and neutralize critics of Clinton and Clintonian policies. And by declaring the “indispensable nation” doctrine, Hillary Clinton convincingly shed the... Read More
A while back I wrote a piece, The Most Dangerous Letters in the World Aren’t SCS…They’re CPEC. I made the case that the South China Sea was a case of high-functioning, cautious states not interested in blowing each other up…while in South Asia the core Chinese gambit, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, was at the mercy... Read More
Another day, another piece of US think-tankery poo-pooing the prospects for a nuclear confrontation with the PRC. RAND came up with a new report on the economic costs of war with China,Thinking the Unthinkable. In RAND's view the war won’t escalate beyond a limited conventional war fought in the West Pacific and over Chinese territory,... Read More
Things fall apart. Especially with a helping push from the United States. The world’s easier for America to manage if it’s broken into smaller, weaker, and more vulnerable and manageable pieces. That, I think, is one of the lessons of the post Cold War era. The USSR fell apart. Yugoslavia fell apart. So did Sudan.... Read More
I have a new post up at Asia Times that ventures beyond my usual bailiwick. It’s about Cambodia, and it’s keyed on the murder of Dr. Kem Ley, which created an uproar in Cambodian civil society: Cambodian PM Hun Sen Paints a bull’s-eye on his own back. I’m interested in Cambodia because of its role... Read More
Now that the UNCLOS SCS ruling has come down, it’s time to deal with What’s Next? Not good things, in my opinion, as expressed in my latest at Asia Times. It’s called No off ramps, only dead ends in the South China Sea. The diplomatic and strategic wild card, I think, is not the fact... Read More
Long Live?
As relatively muted reactions to the Philippines v. China arbitral tribunal award come in from ASEAN and EU, it appears likely that the PRC at the highest level traded an undertaking to finally abandon the nine-dash-line in return for international forbearance on declaration of China as an international outlaw for ignoring the ruling. I suspect... Read More
I have a piece in CounterPunch magazine about the constellation of whistleblowers surrounding HSBC Bank, HSBC and the Five Whistleblowers. Buy it! HSBC has yet to be brought to book in any serious way for a litany of transgressions in multiple jurisdictions. When I say “not in a serious way” while cognizant of the fact... Read More
I have a piece up at Asia Times, China has right to declare ADIZ in the South China Sea. A bit more in your face than my proposed title but a) essentially true and b) not a bad idea improving coordination in zones abuzz with contentious military presences and missions and c) decent clickbait. Pre... Read More
got an article up on Asia Times, Chinese embassy bombing: Xi sends message by honoring martyrs in Belgrade. It uses Xi Jinping’s attendance at a wreath-laying ceremony in Belgrade and the appearance of US electronic warfare planes in the Philippines to weave together a story of the technological competition between the US and PRC concerning... Read More
Scanning the transcript, Ash Carter gave the same “we’re back baby!” speech at Shangri La Dialogue No. 16 that he gave at the Council for Foreign Relations and Annapolis. So I think my current Asia Times piece Ash Carter’s Blissful Bubble of Oblivionhas added value as a Shangri La ‘splainer. Read it at the link.... Read More
It's a long way from landlocked Afghanistan to the South China Sea, but... The May 21, 2016 U.S. assassination by drone of Mullah Mansoor, the supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban, would have seemed to be a bad thing for the People’s Republic of China. Mansoor, after all, was the chosen instrument of the Pakistan... Read More
I have a piece up exclusively at Asia Times, Duterte’s Beef with America. Go read it! It unpacks the story of Duterte’s coolness to the United States dating back to the Michael Meiring incident in 2002. Duterte’s spokesman recently cited the Meiring case in explaining his attitude toward the U.S., leading to a New York... Read More
That’s the theme of my most recent piece at Asia Times. Read it here. The U.S. sailor suit brigade is obsessed with playing profitable pattycake with the PLAN in the South China Sea. But a more significant and dangerous confrontation is brewing over the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. India doesn’t like the CPEC, and China... Read More
The PRC is in a pretty solid position, legality-wise in occupying Scarborough Shoal. And that means it’s pretty much free to build on it. Even island-build it. The United States and the Philippines know that. Losing Scarborough Shoal was the price of the pivot. It’s just hard to admit it. Back in May 2012, a... Read More
...With Its Own Floating Nuclear Power Station!
I’ve been a somewhat skeptical concerning Western handwringing about perceived PRC intentions to islandbuild Scarborough Shoal, seeing them as perhaps pivot-promoting alarmism. But, as Freud said, sometimes a cigar is a cigar and sometimes a threat to build the shoal is…a threat to build the shoal. My rethink was prompted by the appearance on a... Read More
I’m expecting tactical nuclear weapons to reappear overtly in the US military equation for Asia… …but only after the US Navy gets its chance to feast at the pivot trough for its long-for but perhaps strategically less-than-vital conventional forces buildout in Asia. I have an article up exclusively on Asia Times, The Case of the... Read More
I have an article up exclusively on Asia Times, The Case of the Missing Nukes…and a Disappearing US Mission in Asia, concerning an interesting and, I fear, transitory lack of tactical nuclear weapons in theater in Asia. I see tactical nukes making a comeback in Asia, probably courtesy of the Long Range Stand Off weapon... Read More
In this post I’m developing at length several themes that I touched upon in my most recent article up exclusively at Asia Times on the current pivot hot button: South China Sea Dispute: Rewriting the History of Scarborough Shoal. There is currently a great deal of handwringing as to whether the PRC will island-build the... Read More
“We will remain the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.” ----Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter Ash Carter is on a mission: to convince Asia’s democracies that Asian security is synonymous with American leadership. Unfortunately for him, the two concepts are not theoretically or even empirically identical, as is revealed by a... Read More
I’ve got an article up exclusively at Asia Times—Pentagon Looks Beyond FONOPs in the South China Sea-- on the latest wrinkle in the US tussle with the PRC in the South China Sea: augmenting the maritime “Freedom of Navigation” gambit with a new focus on the PRC threat to regional and US territorially-based interests. The... Read More
For a guy who’s sick of the whole South China Sea imbroglio, I sure write about it a lot. I have a piece up at The Asia-Pacific Journal/Japan Focus: China Not Leaving the “South China Sea”. It updates the PRC strategic move to an island based posture in anticipation of an unfavorable ruling on the... Read More
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Stupid Sh*t: US Failure, Denial, and Escalation in the South China Sea
By most metrics the US campaign to deter and modify PRC behavior in the South China Sea has been a colossal bust. The US “Freedom of Navigation” initiative for the South China Sea is, to put it bluntly, completely bogus. The PRC has no interest in impeding the movement of ships in the South China... Read More
I have a piece up at Asia Times—only at Asia Times! Exclusive!—‘Beheading’ Kim: Pre-emptive Strikes are Back and Headed for China, on the implications of the leaked US decapitation strategy for North Korea. In my opinion a) the US is testdriving an eventual pre-emption posture for the PRC in North Korea and b) it locks... Read More
George W. Bush destroyed the state and army of Iraq, but it was located within a constellation of relatively powerful and capable states interested in some form of stability or control. The United States also poured massive doses of money and power into Iraq in an attempt to influence its outcomes. However, when the US... Read More
I have an article up exclusively at Asia Times Online, South China Sea Face-off: The Mystery of Woody Island. Go ahead, click the link! It addresses the media freakout over a Fox News report that commercial satellite imagery revealed something that looked like HQ-9 surface-to-air missile launchers were on the beach at Woody Island in... Read More
The China Factor in the Apple/FBI Battle
I take perverse pleasure (note to self: discuss with analyst!) in parting company with my libertarian/lefty buddies on the issue of the FBI’s demand that Apple assist in accessing an iPhone phone of the San Bernardino shooter. The shadow of the People’s Republic of China—and the demands it plans to impose on US vendors of... Read More
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On January 25, 2015, 44 members of the 84th and 55th Companies of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force or SAF died in an engagement with Muslim insurgents near Mamasapano on the island of Mindanao. Perhaps there have been worse days for special forces, but I can’t bring any to mind. The bloodbath is... Read More
There has been a concerted campaign to depict the South China Sea as an indispensable artery for commercial shipping and, therefore, a justifiable object of US attention and meddling. This flagship of this effort is invoking the “$5 trillion dollars” worth of goods that pass through the SCS each year. Reuters, in particular, is addicted... Read More
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Did the DEA hijack Sean Penn’s expedition to El Chapo’s lair in order to implant a tracking device? Before readers roll their eyes at the prospect of such elaborate and reckless derring-do, consider the little-known scope and intensity of US military and law enforcement activities south of the border when it comes to nailing somebody... Read More
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In my opinion, a lot of the mockery of the North Korean nuclear test—the silly little man with his silly little bomb—is racism that reassures. It evokes the explanation for why many poor rural whites adopted a posture of racial exclusion instead of class solidarity with poor rural blacks in the American South: “because 'If... Read More
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Seymour Hersh created a stir with his most recent piece in the London Review of Books, Military to Military. Hersh reported that the Joint Chiefs of Staff under General Dempsey had actively sabotaged President Obama’s Syria policy in 2013, when they took issue with the White House’s apparent acquiescence to Turkey secretly funneling support to... Read More
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