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5 Reasons the US’s Confrontation with China is Bound to Fail

By taking on China in its own neighbourhood the US is challenging the Chinese Colossus in a battle the US cannot win.

Peter Lavelle

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When President Barack Obama’s announced his (in)famous “pivot to Asia,” Washington’s obedient mainstream media repeated verbatim the administration’s reasons and the goals. The same tired and tested bill of goods was spoon fed to the American public: “Washington must lead, promote free trade, protect safe navigation of international sea-lanes, and of the spread of democracy.”

The fact is the “pivot to Asia” is nothing more than an attempt to contain an ever more powerful and more confident China. This will fail:

1. Like it or not the geography of the west’s growing confrontation with China’s military works, from the outset, against Washington’s plans.

You see the South China Sea gets its name because, well, it is next to China. For Beijing the South China Sea is a sovereignty issue, first and foremost. For Washington, only the U.S. and its deferential clients are allowed to have any meaningful semblance of sovereignty. Invoking sovereignty at odds with “American interests” makes a country a target of Washington’s displeasure.

But then again, China is not an ordinary country – it’s the world’s factory and is the most important source of global economic growth. And it is the country most interested in safe navigation of international sea-lanes – it’s the country that wants to see its products delivered safely to global markets.

2. Two recent visits to Asia by high-ranking American officials reveal Washington’s true intentions.

In April Secretary of Defense Ashton “loose rhetoric” Carter visited India. The visit resulted in the signing of a bilateral cooperation agreement on military logistics.  Then there was Obama’s recent trip to the US’s old foe Vietnam. With great fanfare Washington decided to end the decades-long arm embargo it imposed on this Asian country.

The two visits are important, but you would not learn why from the State Department or the Pentagon. Certainly Beijing connected the dots – both visits are part of Washington’s policy to contain China through regional alliances. The Chinese are obviously aware of this and have taken the appropriate military and security measures to counter this encirclement strategy.

Like Russia, China often is forced to react to Washington’s aggressive posture. Also, western audiences are rarely told China has the resources and the political skill to counter Washington’s strategic designs. Remember history – China does. In the 19th and 20th centuries China was humiliated and dismembered by the west and Japan. Beijing is determined this will never happen again. You can count on it.

3. It is the economy stupid – attempting to contain China is a fool’s errand.

China is America’s second largest trading partner. Take the following on board: in 2015, the U.S. exported $116 billion in goods to China while importing $482 billion. During the Cold War the U.S. had meaningless trade with the Soviet Union and prevented the Europeans from having strong trade links with the Soviet Union also.

Today it is China that has the upper hand over America in the area that counts the most – the economy. Putting into peril the China-U.S. trade relationship would be mindlessly stupid and dangerous. That doesn’t mean Washington won’t try. For the last two decades the Chinese have watched Washington stumble and trip all over itself on the world stage. Something tells me they are ready for more irrational behaviour those inside the Beltway have in store not just for China but for everyone else too.

4. Reputation is everything.

Washington’s security and military alliances/commitments are like a house of cards. Washington promises a lot, but can it deliver without bringing about a direct military confrontation with China? Smart policies are those a great power has which work without the need for a resort to military force. Credible deterrence is the key. “Stupid shit” policies are those that make use of force the default position. This is exactly the transmigration of the Pentagon’s thinking on the use of force.

Common sense says many of the larger Asian powers will extract as many security and military benefits from Washington as they can without overtly taking on commitments that would truly antagonise Beijing.  After all, China is the key to the trade and economic well being of virtually every country on its side of the Pacific. What that mean is that Washington will end up signing up to all the security risks while its client states become security free riders (reminds one of the shame called NATO). Moreover Washington has positioned itself to be humiliated if one of clients ever does challenge Beijing.

The Chinese undoubtedly calculate the US will not go to war to defend Vietnam’s fishing rights (though given the degrees of hubris and irrationality in Washington who knows?).  However by not rushing to Vietnam’s defence the US will show itself up as a  paper tiger regardless of the vast military forces at its disposal. Smartly done, China’s adroit political, diplomatic, and economic skills will trump American militarism.

5. China matters – actually it matters a lot!

China has demonstrated that it has agreed to be a meaningful and positive player on the international stage. There is just one important caveat. Beijing demands to be treated with respect and as an equal among its peers. This is antithetical to Washington’s “exceptionalist” messianic worldview.

The United States can’t solve the world’s problems; in fact it is Washington that is the source of many of the needless conflicts and much of the misery across the globe. On the other hand, China can play a constructive role in moderating American unilateralism. We all know Washington is incapable of seeing the errors of it ways – blinded by its own sense of importance and arrogance.

It would be most unfortunate if the U.S. picks a fight with China. Washington’s sense of importance and arrogance will not defeat or even deter China.  However it most certainly be a disaster for the U.S. if its bellicose attitude toward Beijing led it into a confrontation with China that it simply cannot win.

Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program “CrossTalk.”  His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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Saudi Arabia trying to squirm free of Khashoggi murder (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 2.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Saudi Arabia’s possible admission to killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi…accidentally, while they were torturing the man inside the consulate in Istanbul.

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Via Zerohedge

Even before the publication of last night’s Saudi trial balloon hinting that the kingdom would soon acknowledge that the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi – the insider-turned dissident journalist who walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week and never walked back out – was the result of a “botched” kidnapping attempt carried out by “rogue killers” (despite reports that the US intelligence community knew that Khashoggi was being “targeted”), two realities had become increasingly clear. One: That the Saudis would avoid responsibility for the killing by pinning it on some unfortunate underling, and two: that there would be few, if any, lasting diplomatic repercussions.

And as more media organizations confirmed reports about Saudi’s plans to spin Khashoggi’s murder as a botched interrogation (we can only imagine what was said in that room to justify the use of such extreme violence), CNN calculated the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh for approximately 15 minutes early Tuesday, following his 12-hour-plus flight to the kingdom.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with King Salman of Saudi Arabia lasted no more than 15 minutes, CNN estimates based on the time the top US diplomat’s motorcade arrived at the royal court and departed.

The motorcade arrived at the royal court at 11:42 a.m. (4:42 a.m. ET) and left 26 minutes later. There is a fair distance to walk from where the motorcade dropped Pompeo off to where he met the king.

While Trump said on Monday that Pompeo would travel to Turkey “if necessary”, the Saudi’s decision to “come clean” about Khashoggi’s death pretty much rendered Pompeo’s fact-finding mission unnecessary.More important are developments in Turkey, where the joint Saudi-Turkish “investigation” is turning its attention toward the home of the Saudi consul, where a black diplomatic van that departed the Saudi consulate just under two hours after Khashoggi entered was captured on camera disappearing into a garage. Some speculate that this is where the killers finished disposing of Khashoggi’s body. This comes after a “nine-hour” search of the Saudi consulate building that, according to leaks published in Al-Jazeera, turned up “evidence of tampering” by the Saudis. On Tuesday, Turkey’s foreign minister clarified that Saudi had yet to admit its role in Khashoggi’s disappearance and probable death.

Turkish investigators will carry out a search of the Saudi Consul General’s residence on Tuesday as the probe into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues, according to a Turkish diplomatic source.

CCTV footage released to the media from the day the Washington Post writer vanished show movement of vehicles from the consulate building to the Consul General’s residence nearby.

As speculation mounts that the incident could unseat the increasingly authoritarian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (who has already marginalized or incapacitated nearly every threat to his rule), it’s looking more likely that neither the US nor the rest of the Western world will do much to punish the world’s most important oil exporter, which can “weaponize” the oil market seemingly on a whim.

Any punishment for this flagrant violation of human rights will need to come, therefore, from the private sector, which, according to Bloomberg, could sabotage MbS’s grand Vision 2030 plan, which aims to remake the Saudi economy via a flood of foreign direct investment:

The economic strategy of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, known as MBS, is to make investment the main engine of economic growth instead of government spending, but the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could frustrate these ambitions. Foreign direct investment, a key part of the plan to reinvent Saudi Arabia’s economy, declined sharply in 2017 and is unlikely to return to previous levels, leaving the government’s target for 2020 beyond reach, according to analysis by Bloomberg Economics. Increased policy uncertainty and, after the Khashoggi incident, the risk of reputational damage to foreign companies working in Saudi Arabia won’t help.

 

 

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