Keiser Report: Petrodollar vs Petroyuan (E587)


Publicado em 12/04/2014
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the dollar at the bottom of the shampoo bottle and JPMorgan about to have a very cold winter. In the second half, Max interviews investor and businessman, Jerome Booth, about emerging markets in an upside-down world in which most investors have core-periphery disease.

Pepe Escobar on China/Russia ‘Deal of the decade’ & Europe’s secret US deal blues


Publicado em 15/04/2014
While the West weighs up putting more spanners in the works with sanctions, Russia and China are getting on with business. The two are looking at a deal that could see gas pumped into the world’s most-populated nation for the next 3 decades. Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar told RT that Beijing’s stance on the global political arena is bearing fruit.

Pepe Escobar: Why the EU can’t ‘isolate’ Russia


Why the EU can’t ‘isolate’ Russia
By Pepe Escobar

German Chancellor Angela Merkel could teach US President Barack Obama one or two things about how to establish a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As if Obama would listen. He’d rather boost his constitutional law professor self, and pompously lecture an elite eurocrat audience in the glittering Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, like he did this Wednesday, on how Putin is the greatest threat to the US-administered global order since World War II. Well, it didn’t go that well; most eurocrats were busy taking selfies or twittering.

Putin, meanwhile, met with the CEO of German engineering and electrical conglomerate Siemens, Joe Kaeser, at his official residence outside Moscow. Siemens invested more than US$1.1 billion in Russia over the past two years, and that, Kaeser said, is bound to continue. Angela was certainly taking notes.

Obama couldn’t behave otherwise. The constitutional law expert knows nothing about Russia, in his (meager) political career never had to understand how Russia works, and may even fear Russia – surrounded as he is by a coterie of spectacularly mediocre aids. His Brussels rhetorical tour de force yielded absolutely nothing – apart from the threat that if Putin persisted in his “aggression” against eastern Ukraine or even NATO members-countries the president of the United States would unroll a much stiffer sanction package.

What else is new, considering this by supreme CIA asset and former Pentagon head in the first Obama administration, Bob Gates, is what passes for political analysis in the US.

The $1 trillion game-changer 
Demonized 24/7 by the sprawling Western propaganda machine as a ruthless aggressor, Putin and his Kremlin advisers just need to play Sun Tzu. The regime changers in Kiev are already mired in a vicious catfight. [1] And even Ukraine’s acting Prime Minister Arseniy Petrovych “Yats” Yatsenyuk has identified the gloomy times ahead, stressing that the signature of the economic part of the association agreement between Ukraine and the EU has been postponed – so there will be no “negative consequences” for industrialized eastern Ukraine.

Translation: he knows this will be the kiss of death for Ukrainian industry, on top of it coupled with an imminent structural adjustment by the International Monetary Fund linked to the EU (maybe) bailing out a bankrupt Ukraine.

Asia Times Online’s Spengler coined a formulation: “A specter is haunting Europe, and that is the specter of a Russian-Chinese alliance at the expense of Europe.” The alliance is already on – manifested in the G-20, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. There are military technology synergies on the horizon – the ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense system is to be unveiled by Moscow, and Beijing would absolutely love to have it. But for the real fireworks, just wait a few weeks, when Putin visits Beijing in May.

That’s when he will sign the famous $1 trillion gas deal according to which Gazprom will supply China’s CNPC with 3.75 billion cubic feet of gas a day for 30 years, starting in 2018 (China’s current daily gas demand is around 16 billion cubic feet).

Gazprom may still collect most of its profits from Europe, but Asia is its privileged future. On the competition front, the hyper-hyped US shale “revolution” is a myth – as much as the notion the US will be suddenly increasing exports of gas to the rest of the world any time soon.

Gazprom will use this mega-deal to boost investment in eastern Siberia – which sooner rather than later will be configured as the privileged hub for gas shipments to both Japan and South Korea. That’s the ultimate (substantial) reason why Asia won’t “isolate” Russia. ( See Asia will not ‘isolate’ Russia, Asia Times Online, March 25, 2014.)

Not to mention the much-anticipated “thermonuclear” (for the petrodollar) possibility that Russia and China will agree payment for the Gazprom-CNPC deal may be in yuan or rubles. That will be the dawn of a basket of currencies as the new international reserve currency – a key BRICS objective and the ultimate, incendiary, new (economic) fact on the ground.

Time to invest in Pipelineistan 
Even though its centrality pales compared to Asia, Europe, of course, is not “expendable” for Russia. There have been rumbles in Brussels by some poodles about canceling the South Stream pipeline – pumping Russian gas underneath the Black Sea (and bypassing Ukraine) to Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Greece, Italy and Austria. The Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister, Dragomir Stoynev, said no way. Same for the Czech Republic, because it badly needs Russian investment, and Hungary, which recently signed a nuclear energy deal with Moscow.

The only other possibility for the EU would be Caspian gas, from Azerbaijan – following on the trail of the Zbig Brzezinski-negotiated Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, which was conceived expressly to bypass both Russia and Iran. As if the EU would have the will, the speed and funds to spend billions of dollars to build yet another pipeline virtually tomorrow, and assuming Azerbaijan had enough supply capacity (it doesn’t; other actors, like Kazakhstan or ultra-unreliable Turkmenistan, which prefers to sell its gas to China, would have to be part of the picture).

Well, nobody ever lost money betting on the cluelessness of Brussels eurocrats. South Stream and other energy projects will create a lot of jobs and investment in many of the most troubled EU nations. Extra sanctions? No less than 91% of Poland’s energy, and 86% of Hungary’s, come from Russia. Over 20% of the foreign lending of French banks is to Russian companies. No less than 68 Russian companies trade at the London Stock Exchange. For the Club Med nations, Russian tourism is now a lifeline (1 million went to Italy last year, for instance.)

US Think Tankland is trying to fool American public opinion into believing what the Obama administration should be applying is a replay of the “containment” policy of 1945-1989 to “limit the development of Russia as a hegemonic power”. The “recipe”: weaponize everybody and his neighbor, from the Baltic nations to Azerbaijan, to “contain” Russia. The New Cold War is on because, from the point of view of US so-called “elites”, it never really left.

Meanwhile, Gazprom’s stock price is up. Buy now. You won’t regret it.

1. Popcorn Please While “Putin’s Agitators” Rule in Kiev, Moon of Alabama, March 26, 2014.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Jim Rogers: China will gain massive power & influence by bailing out EU


Publicado em 29/03/2014
Europe is taking its chance to make sure China knows its arms are wide open for any investment it can get. President Xi Jinping is visiting the continent – and Paris and Berlin have laid out the red carpet.

And the issue of human rights, so often a key part of talks between the EU and China, is strangely absent this time around.

On Thursday, the EU trade chief agreed to drop a probe into under-priced Telecom equipment, imported from China. Karel De Gucht says that’s because Europe needs to do much more to attract Chinese investment.

There was some hushed criticism on China’s rights record, with Human Rights Watch describing the conditions most Chinese people live in as “appalling”. But investor and financial commentator Jim Rogers says Europe knows it has to be nice.


Pepe Escobar: “How Crimea plays in Beijing”


How Crimea plays in Beijing
By Pepe Escobar

“We are paying very close attention to the situation in Ukraine. We hope all parties can calmly maintain restraint to prevent the situation from further escalating and worsening. Political resolution and dialogue is the only way out.”

This, via Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong, is Beijing’s quite measured, official interpretation of what’s happening in Ukraine, tailored for global consumption.

But here, in a People’s Daily editorial, is what the leadership is really thinking. And the focus is clearly on the dangers of regime change, the “West’s inability to understand the lessons of history”, and “the final battlefield of the Cold War.” 

Yet again the West misinterpreted China’s abstention from the UN Security Council vote on a US-backed resolution condemning the Crimea referendum. The spin was that Russia – which vetoed the resolution – was “isolated”. It’s not. And the way Beijing plays geopolitics shows it’s not. 

Oh, Samantha …
The herd of elephants in the (Ukraine) room, in terms of global opinion, is how the authentic “international community” – from the G-20 to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – who has had enough of the Exceptionalist Hypocrisy Show, has fully understood, and even applauded, that at least one country on the planet has the balls to clearly say “F**k the US“. Russia under President Vladimir Putin may harbor quite a few distortions, just like any other nation. But this is not a dinner party; this is realpolitik. To face down the US Leviathan, nothing short of a bad ass such as Putin will suffice. 

NATO – or shorthand for the Pentagon dominating European wimps – keeps issuing threats and spewing out “consequences”. What are they going to do – launch a barrage of ICBMs equipped with nuclear warheads against Moscow?

Furthermore, the UN Security Council itself is a joke, with US ambassador Samantha “Nothing Compares to You” Power – one of the mothers of R2P (“responsibility to protect”) – carping on “Russian aggression”, “Russian provocations” and comparing the Crimean referendum to a theft. Oh yes; bombing Iraq, bombing Libya and getting to the brink of bombing Syria were just innocent humanitarian gestures. Samantha The Humanitarian arguably gives a better performance invoking Sinead O’Connor in her shower.

Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin was polite enough to say, “these insults addressed to our country” are “unacceptable”. It’s what he added that carried the real juice; “If the delegation of the United States of America expects our cooperation in the Security Council on other issues, then Power must understand this quite clearly.”

Samantha The Humanitarian, as well as the whole bunch of juvenile bystanders in the Obama administration, won’t understand it. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov gave them a little help; Russia didn’t want to use the Iranian nuclear talks to “raise the stakes”, but if the US and the EU continue with their sanctions and threats, that’s what’s going to happen. 

So the plot thickens – as in a closer and closer strategic partnership between Tehran and Moscow.

Secessionists of the world, unite? 
Now imagine all this as seen from Beijing. No one knows what exactly goes on in the corridors of the Zhongnanhai, but it’s fair to argue there’s only an apparent contradiction between China’s key principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, and Russia’s intervention in Crimea. 

Beijing has identified very clearly the sequence of affairs; long-running Western interference in Ukraine via NGOs and the State Department; regime change perpetrated with the help of fascists and neo-nazis; a pre-emptive Russian counterattack which can be read as a by-the-book Samantha The Humanitarian R2P operation (protecting Russians and Russian speakers from a second coup planned in Crimea, and thwarted by Russian intelligence.) 

On top of it Beijing well knows how Crimea has been essentially Russian since 1783; how Crimea – as well as a great deal of Ukraine – fall smack into Russian civilization’s sphere of influence; and how Western interference directly threatened Russia’s national security interests (as Putin made it clear.) Now imagine a similar scenario in Tibet or Xinjiang. Long-running Western interference via NGOs and the CIA; a take over by Tibetans in Lhasa or Uighurs in Kashgar of the local administration. Beijing could easily use Samantha’s R2P in the name of protecting Han Chinese.

Yet Beijing (silently) agreeing to the Russian response to the coup in Kiev by getting Crimea back via a referendum and without a shot fired does not mean that “splittists” Tibet or Taiwan would be allowed to engage in the same route. Even as Tibet, more than Taiwan, would be able to build a strong historical case for seceding. Each case bears its own myriad complexities.

The Obama administration – like a blind Minotaur - is now lost in a labyrinth of pivots of its own making. A new Borges – that Buddha in a gray suit – is needed to tell the tale. First there was the pivoting to Asia-Pac – which is encircling of China under another name – as it’s well understood in Beijing. 

Then came the pivoting to Persia – “if we are not going to war”, as that Cypher in Search of an Idea, John Kerry, put it. There was, of course, the martial pivoting to Syria, aborted at the last minute thanks to the good offices of Moscow diplomacy. And back to the pivoting to Russia, trampling the much-lauded “reset” and conceived as a payback for Syria.

Those who believe Beijing strategists have not carefully analyzed – and calculated a response – to all the implications of these overlapping pivots do deserve to join Samantha in the shower. Additionally, it’s easy to picture Chinese Think Tankland hardly repressing its glee in analyzing a hyperpower endlessly, helplessly pivoting over itself.

While the Western dogs bark …
Russia and China are strategic partners – at the G-20, at the BRICS club of emerging powers and at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Their number one objective, in these and other forums, is the emergence of a multipolar world; no bullying by the American Empire of Bases, a more balanced international financial system, no more petrodollar eminence, a basket of currencies, essentially a “win-win” approach to global economic development. 

A multipolar world also implies, by definition, NATO out of Eurasia - which is from Washington’s point of view the number one reason to interfere in Ukraine. In Eurasian terms, it’s as if – being booted out of Afghanistan by a bunch of peasants with Kalashnikovs – NATO was pivoting back via Ukraine.

While Russia and China are key strategic partners in the energy sphere – Pipelineistan and beyond – they do overlap in their race to do deals across Central Asia. Beijing is building not only one but two New Silk Roads - across Southeast Asia and across Central Asia, involving pipelines, railways and fiber optic networks, and reaching as far as Istanbul, the getaway to Europe. Yet as far as Russia-China competition for markets go, all across Eurasia, it’s more under a “win-win” umbrella than a zero-sum game. 

On Ukraine (“the last battlefield in the Cold War”) and specifically Crimea, the (unspoken) official position by Beijing is absolute neutrality (re: the UN vote). Yet the real deal is support to Moscow. But this could never be out in the open, because Beijing is not interested in antagonizing the West, unless heavily provoked (the pivoting becoming hardcore encirclement, for instance). Never forget; since Deng Xiaoping (“keep a low profile”) this is, and will continue to be, about China’s “peaceful rise”. Meanwhile, the Western dogs bark, and the Sino-Russian caravan passes. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

The Energy Crisis — [RAP NEWS 22]


Publicado em 27/02/2014
RAP NEWS 22 [S02:E02]. Like many others who preceded us, our “civilisation” faces an Energy Crisis of megawattic proportions, which threatens to bring an end to our brief joyride. But our dirty little secret is seldom mentioned in the news, let alone connected to economic instability or to environmental effects on our planet. It falls to Robert Foster to bring this topic back into the fore of our consciousness, where he conducts an incisive analysis of the situation to see what solutions are out there to deal with peak energy. Join your ever-curious anchor as he invites a panoply of guests – the great, the good, the bizarre, and the downright trollsome – along to share their solutions to this crisis. In the end, the shift required might have to be psychological as well as technological. Enjoy the ride, fellow children of the industrial revolution.

Written & created by Giordano Nanni & Hugo Farrant in a suburban backyard home studio in Melbourne, Australia, ­on Wurundjeri Land

China’s Strategy in Latin America Demonstrates Boldness of President Xi

By Evan Ellis   •   Wednesday, February 19, 2014    |    Topic: World     
 As Chinese engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean has expanded over the last decade, two of the greatest inconveniences for the P.R.C. government have been managing unique relationships with each of the 42 individual countries of the region, and doing so in the shadow of the United States. China’s approach to this problem demonstrates a new assertiveness.

Faced with a similar challenge in relating to the 54 countries of Africa, the P.R.C. created the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which held its first summit in Beijing in October 2000. From the inception of FOCAC, the P.R.C. hoped to do something similar with Latin America and the Caribbean, but until recently, had been unsuccessful in doing so.

That opportunity came In January 2014 at the second annual meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Havana, Cuba, where the gathered members agreed to create a mechanism for collectively interacting with the P.R.C., with the first China-CELAC summit to be held by the end of this year.

The “China-CELAC Forum” is strategically important for the P.R.C. because it allows it to engage with the region as a whole, in a way that excludes the United States and Canada. The action highlights the boldness of Chinese President Xi Jinping and the new 5th generation of P.R.C. leadership in not refraining from an action simply because it might be seen as a threat by some parties within the United States.

Ironically, the assembled members’ embrace of a relationship with the P.R.C. also circumvents the traditional argument against CELAC, that nothing important could be decided in the region without the United States.

The nature of China’s engagement with Latin America through multilateral institutions has always put it at a disadvantage in building relationships with the region. The status of the P.R.C. as an “observer” in the Organization of American States (OAS), for example, contrasted with the full membership of the United States in the institution. Even the location of OAS headquarters in Washington D.C. symbolized that, in working through the OAS, the P.R.C. was trying to build a relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean through “Uncle Sam’s house.”

Although the January 2014 communique establishing the forum suggests a key decision to proceed was taken in a meeting between the parties in September 2013 on the sidelines of a session of the U.N. General Assembly session in New York City, the groundwork for the new China-CELAC forum was probably laid in August 2012 when the foreign ministers of Cuba, Venezuela and Chile traveled to the P.R.C. and India in representation of CELAC.

The move is consistent with other actions by President Xi that suggest a greater willingness than his predecessor to symbolically challenge the United States in pursuit of state objectives.

While bold, the move is also consistent with other actions by President Xi that suggest a greater willingness than his predecessor to symbolically challenge the United States in pursuit of state objectives. Such actions include his unprecedented visits to Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Mexico in June 2013 — just three months after assuming the presidency. The stops, made en route to a summit with U.S. President Barack Obama, was the first time that a Chinese leader had concentrated state visits on multiple Western Hemisphere countries all north of Panama, meeting with leaders from an unprecedented total of eleven heads of state from the region, as if to punctuate the point.

Such boldness is also consistent with President Xi’s assertive behavior closer to home, including Chinese naval patrols in disputed waters in the South and East China Seas, and the P.R.C.’s November 2013 Declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone in contested airspace.

Although the details of the new China-CELAC forum are not yet clear, it is likely that the organization will function in a manner similar to FOCAC, with a superficial focus on common political positions, but more importantly, as a vehicle for advancing Chinese business with the region through multilateral loan funds, framework agreements in areas such as finance, phytosanitary certifications, and investment projection, plus high-level political attention to (and the official blessing for) important commercial projects.

To the extent that the new forum follows in the footsteps of FOCAC and the objectives of China’s own 2008 White Paper toward Latin America and the Caribbean, it is also likely expand and create a region-wide framework around educational and cultural exchanges, including Confucius Institutes and scholarships for students traveling to the P.R.C. It is similarly reasonable to expect it to work toward a regional framework to expand cooperation in science and technology, telecommunications and space, and military education and training, among other areas.

As with FOCAC in Africa, the initial summit will likely be accompanied by exuberant statements, particularly by leaders from the ALBA states, and the symbolism will likely prompt a new wave of conferences by think tanks in Washington D.C., and possibly, congressional hearings.

The new forum will likely not agree upon a meaningful program of political action.

With respect to questions in Asia, CELAC includes 11 nations which diplomatically recognize the Republic of China (ROC), including Paraguay, all of the nations of Central America except for Costa Rica, and approximately half of the Caribbean. As the China-CELAC summit approaches, the Taiwanese diplomatic machinery in the region will probably be in “overdrive” to ensure that the communique that comes out of the forum does not include support for a “One-China” policy, a euphemism for the recognition of the P.R.C. and not the R.O.C.

As an unintended byproduct, the China-CELAC forum may strengthen the hand of those in Taiwan who are dissatisfied with that nation’s reapproachment with the P.R.C., as the 2016 elections approach. Despite a truce between the P.R.C. and R.O.C. since 2008 in the battle over diplomatic recognition of one versus the other, the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that maintain relations with the R.O.C. have nonetheless significantly deepened their economic engagement with the P.R.C.

The “de facto” political engagement between these countries and the P.R.C. through the China-CELAC forum thus will bolster the arguments of those in Taipei that the ROC is “losing the peace.”

Beyond the “One China” question, it is likely that the China-CELAC forum will endorse some “principles of non-interference in the affairs of sovereign states.” The P.R.C. and the nations of CELAC will find common ground in asserting (without mentioning names) that the United States should not “interfere” in the affairs of either Latin America or Asia. It is also probable, however, that both the P.R.C. and U.S. allies such as Chile and Colombia will seek to avoid antagonistic language regarding the “struggle against imperialism,” although the ALBA regimes will surely attempt to include such statements.

Argentina will seek P.R.C. legitimation of its claims to the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, while the P.R.C. will likely seek support for its claims in the South and East China Seas.

While it is unlikely in general that concrete positions will emerge on matters of foreign affairs, if and how it treats territorial disputes will provide insight into its future character as an institution. Argentina will seek P.R.C. legitimation of its claims to the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, while the P.R.C. will likely seek support for its claims in the South and East China Seas. Nonetheless, the number of unresolved territorial disputes in the Americas, including those between Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua in the Gulf of Fonseca, between Costa Rica and Nicaragua over the San Juan River, and Colombia’s resistance to recognizing a ruling by the International Court of Justice in favor of Nicaragua regarding the waters surrounding San Andres Island, will each undermine a meaningful China-CELAC position on territorial issues.

Another important question for the China-CELAC forum will be its ability to form institutions, or to integrate the P.R.C. into CELAC institutions as they are created. The plurality of political orientation and economic interests within CELAC itself has, to date, largely impeded the creation of permanent CELAC institutional structures and region-wide integration agreements.

The P.R.C. will likely offer to help fund and participate in institutions such as CELAC police and military academies, although traditional allies of the United States will probably resist actions that further draw the P.R.C. into the political, security and defense infrastructure of the region in a way that excludes the U.S. China-funded CELAC institutions for fostering education, trade and investment are likely to be more successful, even though more conservative participants will be concerned about government-to-government vehicles that help Chinese businesses expand their foothold in the region in a way that circumvents commercial competition and open bid and proposal processes.

In addition, although it will probably not impact the success of the institution, the P.R.C.’s very logic in creating the China-CELAC forum exposes the contradiction between the P.R.C. preference for dealing with “blocks” and “important powers,” and the “every country is equally important” discourse that it uses in wooing small states.

On one hand, historically, China has been, and has perceived itself as the central actor in Asia, and culturally, has preferred to relate to focus its diplomacy on other “important” powers who can, in turn, ensure that the “lesser” actors within their spheres of influence act in ways beneficial to China. In the contemporary context in dealing with Latin America and the Caribbean, the P.R.C. has similarly designated “strategic partners”— Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and later Venezuela — which were seen as more important and having influence over their neighbors.

Although it is doubtful that the P.R.C. government will say so explicitly, the establishment of the multilateral China-CELAC forum sends a message that is consistent with Chinese diplomacy historically: “Relating to many small states is a hassle; it is better for such states to organize themselves as a block, so as to collectively merit the time and attention of a great power such as China.”

The symbolism of the China-CELAC forum is also an inherent affront the exceptionalism of Brazil. For years, Itamaraty took pride in relating to the P.R.C. through associations such as the BRICS, a kind of “club of exceptional rising powers.” 

The P.R.C.’s June 2012 “promotion” of Brazil from “strategic partner” to “comprehensive strategic partner” played to Brazilian pride, suggesting that it was special among its peers in Latin America, in being qualified to interact seriously with the P.R.C. regarding issues of global importance. The P.R.C. will have to re-assure Brazil that relating to it through the China-CELAC forum is not showing the emptiness of its previous platitude and “lumping Brazil in with the rest.”

In the end, the greatest impact of the China-CELAC summit will be to accelerate the Chinese commercial presence in the region, while further legitimizing its presence as a political actor there.

In November 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made clear in his address to the OAS that the “Era of the Monroe Doctrine” is over. The U.S. will not try to prevent the sovereign states of Latin America and the Caribbean from developing relationships with the P.R.C., but such acquiescence makes all the more the responsibility of those states to think clearly about what kind of relationship with China is in their interest and that of the region.

Fonte: Manzella report

Coluna: Gutenberg Teixeira – O Dragão pode cuspir fogo: China ameaça o “Mare Clausum Cósmico” dos Estados Unidos


Os Estados Unidos contam com grande vantagem na exploração do espaço. Tal vantagem tem relação direta com sua política de negar o acesso ao espaço por parte das nações que não compartilham suas visões. Inclusive, as nações aliadas da Europa Ocidental encontram dificuldades em contar com o apoio dos Estados Unidos em projetos espaciais que signifiquem para elas mais autonomia espacial. O próprio Brasil sofreu e vem sofrendo várias restrições tecnológicas aeroespaciais por parte de Washington, o que tem levado ao atraso de seu programa espacial por décadas. O objetivo por trás da política espacial dos Estados Unidos é buscar o completo domínio militar do espaço como a sua nova forma de impor a PAX AMERICANA. Comparando o espaço com o mar, os EUA planejam fazer no espaço o que já fazem no mar: permitir seu livre uso em época de paz e negá-lo em época de guerra.

Alguns países buscaram por meio das Nações Unidas garantir que os princípios do Direito do Mar fossem aplicados de forma análoga ao espaço. Entre eles, o princípio presente na obra Mare Liberum de Hugo Grotius que foi inquestionável em sua influência na personificação da defesa da liberdade dos mares[1]. Apesar das restrições contemporâneas, resultado das reivindicações dos Estados costeiros e da Comunidade Internacional sobre os fundos marinhos, o princípio mare liberum ainda é um manifesto em favor da liberdade dos mares em seu sentido moderno do termo para a liberdade de navegação em alto mar, trânsito livre, comércio e pesca[2]. No espaço, os Estados concordaram em aplicar os princípios do Direito Internacional de res communis, o conceito jurídico que dá entendimento a que algo pertence a um determinado grupo e pode ser utilizado por cada um dos membros do grupo sem ser apropriado por nenhum deles; o mesmo se aplica às águas internacionais. Assim como o Direito do Mar impede que alguém seja dono do mar, o espaço exterior se encontra fora do direito de propriedade, de modo que nenhuma parte do espaço poderia ser apropriada pela soberania estatal. Isso ficou claro em uma série de resoluções da Assembleia Geral das Nações Unidas[3]. Apesar do reconhecimento de tais princípios por todos os membros das Nações Unidas, a política espacial dos Estados Unidos parece resgatar a prática de princípios anteriores já “superados” como aqueles defendidos pelo inglês Selden em sua famosa obra Mare Clausum que defendia o direito natural de um soberano em estabelecer como seu domínio a porção de mar que rodeia seus territórios[4] e a obra de Serafim de Freitas, “Do justo império asiático dos portugueses”, que defendia o monopólio dos mares, ou seja, o seu uso exclusivo por uma nação[5]. A política espacial dos Estados Unidos busca exatamente isso, estabelecer o espaço como sua exclusiva zona de influência. Para lograr tal objetivo e manter uma opinião pública internacional favorável, Washington se apresenta ao mundo como o intermediário entre o espaço e os demais países do planeta. Caso estes tenham programas pacíficos, alinhados ou submetidos aos interesses espaciais estadunidenses, o acesso ao espaço é permitido. Se a busca ao espaço se dá de forma independente e autônoma, esta busca sofrerá embargos tecnológicos e econômicos. Tudo em nome da segurança dos Estados Unidos, que está disposto, inclusive, ao conflito armado aberto em defesa de seus interesses espaciais.

Restringir o acesso de outros Estados ao espaço é apenas um dos passos dos Estados Unidos que lhe permitiram sempre estar na dianteira. Contudo, para aqueles países que seus embargos tecnológicos não são suficientes, resta uma política espacial mais agressiva, que se traduz pelo desenvolvimento de veículos de propósito múltiplo como o X37B, o sucessor dos ônibus espaciais, que possui características de nave de espionagem combinada com capacidade anti-satélite. Ao contrário dos seus antecessores que eram operados pela NASA, o X37B é controlado diretamente pela Força Aérea dos Estados Unidos. A maneira encontrada pelos Estados Unidos para proteger sua hegemonia espacial e seu “mare clausum cósmico” daqueles que insistirem em também utilizar o espaço como campo de atuação militar, foi garantir que qualquer ataque ao seu patrimônio espacial seja respondido com um forte e massivo contra-ataque por terra, mar, ar e espaço. Para tal, busca sempre estar na vanguarda tecnológica das armas espaciais. Porém, ser líder na utilização do espaço pode significar que os Estados Unidos sejam quem mais tenha a perder caso seus sistemas de armas espaciais se tornem vulneráveis a um ataque. Por ter a hegemonia aeroespacial, os Estados Unidos seriam os últimos a ganhar com o desenvolvimento de armas espaciais. O ponto débil de tal iniciativa se encontra que se os Estados Unidos lideram o desenvolvimento destas armas espaciais, será mais fácil para outros países seguirem o mesmo caminho, graças à tecnologia estadunidense, pioneira neste campo. É muito difícil controlar ou restringir acesso à informação no século XXI e muitas nações por meios lícitos ou não, sempre conseguem obter algo.

A China é atualmente o país que mais tem se beneficiado da espionagem industrial-espacial e tem conseguido rápidos avanços em seus programas espaciais. A maior prova disso se deu precisamente neste ano de 2013, quando a China lançou ao espaço os satélites Shiyan 7 (SY-7), Chuangxin (CX-3) e Shijan-15 (SJ-15)[6]. Estes foram levados ao espaço pelo foguete chinês CZ-4C e desde agosto começaram a efetuar manobras orbitais de aproximação entre eles. Um dos satélites possui um braço robótico que lhe permitiu inclusive acoplar-se a outro dos satélites chineses. Apesar da declaração oficial que os satélites estavam cumprindo tarefas tipicamente científicas, relacionadas com a assistência técnica de aparelhos espaciais, a existência de um braço robótico, manobras de aproximação e capacidade de interferir em outros satélites são características próprias de uma arma anti-satélite. Agora além de sistemas de mísseis assassinos de porta-aviões (ASBM – anti-ship ballistic missile), Dong Feng – 21D (DF-21D) e provavelmente Dong Feng – 31(DF-31) baseados em terra, a China possui satélites assassinos de outros satélites de modelo soviético operando no espaço. Para completar o cenário, com o lançamento dos satélites Jianbing-5/YaoGan-1Jianbing-6/YaoGan-2 entre outros, os chineses possuem capacidade de localizar os navios inimigos e guiar seus mísseis até eles. Os mísseis DF-21D, são um grande pesadelo para Washington já que os porta-aviões dos Estados Unidos não são fáceis de esconder e circulam escoltados por fragatas, destroieres e submarinos que são inúteis diante do DF-21D, de 14,7 toneladas, 10 metros, e capaz de receber ogivas nucleares. Em um ataque, dezenas de DF-21D, orientados pelos satélites chineses, podem atacar de surpresa, sem chance de defesa[7].

Neste momento a China é uma séria ameaça aos objetivos de hegemonia espacial dos Estados Unidos por contar com um poderoso programa de criação de armas anti-satélites, capaz de rivalizar com o programa anti-satélite de Washington. Neste contexto, na medida em que a China e outros países começam a ocupar posições no espaço, a possibilidade de conflito entre estes e os Estados Unidos passa a ser uma realidade. A política espacial de Washington apenas está deixando pronto e transitável o caminho para a guerra aeroespacial do séc. XXI que outras nações já começaram a seguir e, em breve, as armas anti-satélite poderão promover a militarização do espaço.

O avanço tecnológico chinês no campo espacial de armas anti-satélite apresenta-se como uma resposta à política espacial dos Estados Unidos e sua insistência por manter uma política ambígua em relação aos seus aliados e possíveis aliados asiáticos intimidados diante do crescente poderio militar chinês. Se por um lado o discurso de Washington é pela solução pacífica dos conflitos e disputas territoriais que seus aliados e possíveis aliados possuem em relação à China, por outro, não perde nenhuma oportunidade de demonstrar seu poder militar ao ensaiar jogos de guerra próximos as fronteiras chinesas, que são respondidos por Pequim na mesma moeda, acirrando ainda mais a tensão na região.

Em recente artigo publicado no Foreign Affairs, Avery Goldstein afirma que os recentes acontecimentos mostram a possibilidade que uma crise entre potências nucleares é real e iminente. Apesar da diminuição da tensão entre Washington e Pequim em relação a Taiwan, outros fatores surgiram e ameaçam gerar um conflito aberto. Entre os fatores, Goldstein aponta a ambiguidade do discurso e prática dos Estados Unidos na região que pode levar a uma incerteza de onde estão os limites de provocação mútua, levando a China ou os Estados Unidos a empreenderem uma ação provocativa não esperada, que poderá ser interpretada pela outra parte como um ato de agressão. Considerando o avanço tecnológico das armas convencionais, que apenas são eficazes antes do contra-ataque inimigo, já que sua gestão é extremamente sensível, Goldstein adverte que estas armas são vulneráveis a ataques cibernéticos graças à sofisticação dos sistemas eletrônicos e de satélites. Assim, o uso de armas convencionais pode gerar uma série de erros imprevisíveis capazes de abrir caminho a uma catástrofe nuclear não anunciada[8]. Entre as armas convencionais, o emprego de armas anti-satélite, tanto chinesas como estadunidenses, podem ser o último degrau para o início de um conflito cujo resultado pode ser imprevisível para toda a humanidade.

- See more at:

Fonte: Coluna Gutemberg



Friday, February 14, 2014

A Pleasant Beijing Visit by John Kerry…

…Will Not Stop America’s Merry Dash Into the Collective Self Defense/Deterrence Cul-de-Sac…

John Kerry recently concluded a friendly visit to Beijing, with both sides chatting about matters of mutual concern in a way that implied these two great powers have areas of shared concern and interest.
Some observers might fear that peace might break out.
Don’t worry.
My personal opinion is that a dwindling group of PRC doves in the Obama administration are being rolled by military and think tank hawks who sense the weakness of the individuals with suspected panda hugger inclinations, such as Joe Biden and John Kerry, and also smell blood in the water with President Obama’s emerging lame duck status and the likely return of a down-the-line China hawk civilian slate with the expected election of Hillary Clinton as President in 2016.
The result has been a spate of articles calling the White House, especially Joe Biden, soft on China and pointing the finger at John Kerry for being excessively preoccupied with the Middle East and thereby allowing the precious Pivot to Asia to languish.
I, for one, detect a pretty effective tag team between the Abe administration and US anti-China/pro-Japan hawks.  It should be recalled that Abe’s closest US relationships are with the Cheney wing of the Republican Party and his relations with Obama are, at best, cool.  So, if US policy as it pertains to Japan and China is being criticized, both directly in terms of flagging Obama commitment to Asia and over-commitment to the Middle East, I think the fine Japanese hand can be suspected, reinforcing (but not necessarily directing) the anti-Obama grumblings of various think-tank hawks.
When I saw a poobah on Twitter opining that the Yasukuni furor showed the rather pathetic limitations of the Japanese PR machine, I had to lift both eyebrows in skepticism. Actually, I ran around with my arms in the air like Spongebob Squarepants in his utter-dismay mode, while yelling Nooooooooo like Luke Skywalker did after Darth Vader cut off his hand and told him he was his father.  
Japan has learned the lessons of World War II, when the Japan Lobby was bested by the China Lobby, and also from the fraught decades of the 1970s and 80s, when Japan filled the designated role of Asian menace to the Western way of life in US politics.  Recently, the Abe administration has energetically ingratiated itself to the US military, defense hawks, and the American Right, and done a pretty good job of leveraging its ally status into a favorable position in the US policy debate…especially when compared to the PR black hole occupied by PR China.
In my humble opinion, Kerry’s focus on the Middle East—where the United States is deeply involved in three armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, a political crisis in Egypt, and a high-risk diplomatic gambit with Iran—at the expense of the Far East—which is facing the threat of Chinese aggression against five unoccupied islands and an uninhabited atoll—is pretty well justified.
In fact, conspiracy theorists might note that Kerry is getting some assistance from the PRC in trying to wrangle the Syria, Afghanistan, and Iran questions, as he acknowledged during his press availability–while Japan has very little to offer. 
I, for one, would not be surprised if the Japanese foreign ministry, concerned that the PRC might be piling up deposits in John Kerry’s favorbank for eventual redemption in the Far East and programming against Kerry’s visit to Beijing, might have thought it better to encourage concerns about excessive US attention to the Middle East and US “softness” on the PRC in order to make sure the PRC is recognized as the real bad guy and pre-empt any possibility that the dreaded “G2”—an effective alliance of interest of the US and PRC on key questions that excludes Japan—ever materializes.
I think the concerted and orchestrated nature of the pro-Japan campaign is revealed by the fearmongering that the United States “might” fail to back up the Japan on the Senkakus.  
As Bill Gertz, the journalistic dean of China hawks, reported in an article which accused the Obama administration of fecklessness in China affairs (excuse me, in which unnamed “China watchers” and “analysts” opined that the adminstration’s response to China had been “confused”, “vacillating”, “mild” and “too little too late”):

A U.S. official summed up the tensions in a comment to The Nelson Report’s Chris Nelson: “What we need to think our way through is how China’s salami-slicing tactics (and they will continue whether with an ADIZ in the [South China Sea] or elsewhere) will play against U.S. credibility.

“If all we have are diplomatic response[s] when China is creating new facts on the ground/in the sea/air, this will continue to erode U.S. credibility with allies and partners; and, if, God forbid, we fail to honor alliance commitments, especially on the Senkakus, we soon will have no allies/partners/standing in the region.”


Although the PRC officially disclaimed any plans for an SCS ADIZ in response to a US declaration, thereby supporting the unwelcome surmise that the US could effectively engage with the PRC, Gertz manages to brush aside this ruse and keep the eternal reality of China’s inexorable salami-slicing menace alive in the minds of his readers with the parenthetical remark (“they will continue whether an ADIZ…or elsewhere”).
Despite the concerns of Gertz and the various watchers and analysts, I don’t think the U.S. is even remotely considering selling out the Senkakus.  Like it or not, US support for Japan on the Senkakus is the linchpin of US credibility in the region (ever since Secretary Clinton, in response to the somewhat fishy-smelling Captain Zhan incident and the subsequent rare earth “crisis” in 2010, reversed the Obama administration’s previous internal decision not to reaffirm their inclusion in the scope of Article V)  and it’s not, in my opinion, going anywhere.
Lower down the foreign policy and op-ed food chain, the term “appeasement” has floated to the surface like an unwelcome addition to the punchbowl of China discourse, often referencing the PRC’s declaration of the Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea and the measured US response.
A few things to bear in mind.
First, the United States showed plenty of confrontational sack by immediately flying two B-52s into the ADIZ unannounced.
Second, the only thing that the United States—and the rest of the world, for that matter—didn’t do was follow Japan’s lead and take the rather irresponsible step of directing its civilian carriers to drop their compliance and start disregarding the ADIZ.
So, in this context, “appeasement” means not doing something that Japan wants, something that is worth bearing in mind when considering whose interests are really being promoted by a more aggressive policy.
Third and for extra credit, according to a credible-sounding report in the Mainichi Shinbun as reported by the Shingetsu News Service, the PRC had notified Japan and the US about the ADIZ extension in 2010, supporting the inference that the US & Japan, instead of coming up with a faltering and incomplete response to “assertive China”, were actually being plenty aggressive and confrontational in using the public announcement of the ADIZ to sandbag the PRC with accusations of destabilizing the region.
So, in my opinion, US PRC policy has not been excessively weak-kneed.
However, looking at the recent chest-thumping and scrotum-heftingdeclarations of the White House concerning the China threat, it looks to me like the Obama administration is ostentatiously inoculating itself against the “weak on China” accusation while, when the remarks are closely parsed, still trying to reserve some space for the US between the PRC and Japan as “the honest broker”.
In fact, John Kerry was quite reassuring during his recent visit to Beijing and his words probably triggered a brief, blissful reverie in the PRC leadership about the unconsummated new great power relationship.  Cooperation on North Korea was the lead item, followed by nice words about the SCS Code of Conduct and some collective handwringing about climate change.  Kerry averred that the United States was not trying to contain China.  

Our cooperation, frankly, on issues of enormous importance in the world should not go unnoticed. China and the United States are cooperating on big-ticket items. We’ve worked together in the P5+1 on Iran. We’ve worked together on Afghanistan. We have worked together on Syria. We are working together on other issues like South Sudan and the prevention of violence there. And we appreciate enormously the Chinese efforts with respect to those kinds of initiatives. Not many people know that that kind of cooperative effort is underway.

Kerry’s statement on the SCS disputes—particularly his apparent endorsement of Chinese gripes about provocations  by “others”– will probably have the China hawks mailing him Neville Chamberlain umbrellas:

And the Chinese have made clear that they believe they need to be resolved in a peaceful and legal manner, and that they need to be resolved according to international law and that process.

And I think they believe they have a strong claim, a claim based on history and based on fact. They’re prepared to submit it, and – but I think they complained about some of the provocations that they feel others are engaged in. And that is why I’ve said all parties need to refrain from that. Particularly with respect to some of the islands and shoals, they feel there have been very specific actions taken in order to sort of push the issue of sovereignty on the sea itself or by creating some construction or other kinds of things.

So the bottom line is there was a very specific statement with respect to the importance of rule of law in resolving this and the importance of legal standards and precedent and history being taken into account to appropriately make judgments about it.

The PRC leadership obviously likes Kerry and his policies, especially when compared with the alternative (Hillary Clinton); and it seems to me that Kerry is not just playing good cop in the good cop/bad cop chainyanking exercise.
So China hawks have a right to be anxious that Big John is not sufficiently enthusiastic about twisting the PRC’s testicles until universal peace, freedom, democracy, and prosperity explode into East Asia.
Nevertheless, a Global Times op-ed realistically noted that nice words from Big John do not, however, translate directly into a favorable attitude by the United States:
Kerry did say something to pressure China as US politicians always do. But he also reasonably exchanged ideas with Chinese leaders and showed some good faith. His positive remarks about the US not to contain China will at least have some impact on Washington’s behavior for a while. We are not demanding too much.
I don’t think the hawks have to worry overmuch.  The countdown to a new, almost certainly more hardline US presidency has begun, and the PRC is unlikely to deliver any foreign policy win to Kerry that’s big enough to cause a significant and lasting U-turn in US policy.
Also, by yielding to the insistence of the Pentagon to endorse Japanese “collective self defense”, I think the Obama administration has let the pendulum swing far enough away from China that it has sacrificed much of its tattered “honest broker” cred and, from the PRC point of view, is perhaps considered “weak on Japan” i.e. so far in Japan’s pocket that it cannot constrain Japanese behavior in a way useful to the PRC.
On the surface, “collective self defense” doesn’t seem to be a huge change to the US-Japanese relationship.  It would simply enable closer integration of US and Japanese forces during joint military operations.  Of course, this might involve joint flotillas in international waters countering the mythical threat to freedom of navigation from the PRC but, I suppose, the thinking is that the US would have overall command and therefore control over when and where a serious confrontation with the PRC might occur.
Japanese strategists, to their credit, have repeatedly asserted the “collective self defense” will be applied to Japanese security arrangements with other friendly countries (read Philippines, India), new bilateral relationships that have nothing to do directly with the United States.
(Astute observers, of course the only kind of readers China Matters has, will recall that the Abe administration frequently if discretely voices its anxiety about true US staying power in Asia in order to justify its independent security outreach in the region and thereby stampede the Obama administration into a more assertively pro-Japanese policy.)
Anyway, assuming that Prime Minister Abe as expected announces the legitimacy of “collective self defense” through a cabinet statement, the Rubicon’s been crossed, cat’s out of the bag, Pandora’s box has been opened, America sh*t the bed, choose your metaphor, the Japanese government’s freedom to create a new parallel security regime in Asia without the input of the United States is being enabled by…the United States.
I’m assuming that the Obama team is well aware of this implication but has decided not to worry/care about, maybe because President Obama, contemplating both his lame duck status and his marked distaste for the PRC regime combined with strong institutional pressure from the Pentagon and its allies, has decided not to expend too much political and bureaucratic capital fighting this thing.
And the Chinese leadership, expecting John Kerry’s panda-hugging tendencies to be circumscribed by the anti-appeasement whispering campaign, President Obama’s upcoming Asian tour programmed as a celebration of democratic Asia and the US pivot against the menace of Chinese aggression, the Japanese government taking advantage of the US tilt to push more aggressive policies (like the needlessly provocative declaration it wishes to sue the hapless Captain Zhan), and the prospect of President Clinton waiting in the wings, will just have to keep its head down for the next few years.
Beyond threatening to disintermediate the US in the creation of a new Asian security regime, I think the real threat from collective self defense to regional and US interests comes for its possible integration into “deterrence” as the standard security template for Asia.
As I discuss in my most recent article at Asia Times Online, US and Japanese strategists have characterized the situation with the PRC in the East China Sea as a “gray zone crisis” i.e. neither war nor peace, to be addressed by a combination of “dynamic” and “static” deterrence.
In the Chinese context, it means that the PRC position is defined as “probing for and attempting to fill a power vacuum and thereby expel competing powers from its near beyond”, and the correct riposte is Japanese vigilance and US preparedness—heightened surveillance activity in the area that integrates directly into the SDF and US military capability so that decisive military power can be brought to bear in case of a confrontation.
The possibility that the PRC might have legitimate interests that could be negotiated is infra dig—it’s appeasement.  Hey, there’s that word again!
Same thing, of course on the PRC side.  With the deterrence framing, concession = capitulation.
So, conflicts that were and could possibly continue to be handled through bilateral civilian negotiations become militarized.  
Concessions, indeed negotiations, on these issues are not particularly desirable since they are a sign of lack of resolve and detract from the credibility of deterrence.
Deterrence, in other words, easily turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy, with each side continually thinking about escalating their response so as not to show the dreaded “weakness”.
And, of course, maintaining deterrence offers the delectable prospect of an arms race, as the various parties parse their worst-case scenarios and decide to muscle up.
With the concept of collective self defense, Japan has the opportunity to apply the two-tiered deterrent architecture to formal security arrangements it concludes directly with other Asian democracies.  Thereby, the US is faced with diminished regional clout in an environment of increased danger.
Beyond the theoretical problems with collective security and deterrence theory, there are some major holes in practice.
In Japanese affairs, the double-tiered deterrent structure deploys Japanese forces at the front end, with the US at the back end.  Looking at it another way, the providers of “static deterrent” are theoretically hostage to the implementers of “dynamic deterrence” because the “static” is expected to back up the “dynamic”, otherwise the credibility of deterrence collapses and with it the whole security architecture.
But the one thing the United States does not want to do is get forced in a war with the PRC because the SDF shot down some plane over Senkakus; and the security treaty, by specifying in case of an attack the US “would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional provisions and processes” does not directly mandate War!  This unavoidable loophole irks and concerns the Abe administration, I think, for good reason: there is always the chance that the US Cavalry, instead of riding to Japan’s rescue, will first stop off for an anxious powwow with the enemy.  
This sort of ambiguity is great for US flexibility, but it undercuts the credibility of deterrence and, in fact, makes the whole deterrent concept look rather fanciful and destabilizing.  And, truth be told, a similar modified-hangout-backup would probably also apply to any security arrangement that Japan might conclude with the now useful but potentially dangerous fire-breathing administration of Philippine President Aquino.
So, to the militarizing and escalating dynamic of deterrence add a widespread suspicion about its actually effectiveness. 
With the implementation of collective self defense and deterrence, we are faced with a situation in which the US pivot to Asia, which is supposed to a) secure American leadership and b) assure the peace and prosperity of the region for the 21st century by c) reducing tensions and avoiding the dreaded miscalculations and misunderstandings is instead a) promoting the disintermediation of the United States in the Asian defense equation by empowering Japan b) stoking an expensive arms race and c) polarizing Asia into two opposing blocs d) making it more likely that some Asian power will do something irrevocably stupid.
Rather ironic.
Deterrence is a dead end, figuratively.  Hopefully figuratively, not literally.
I don’t blame Prime Minister Abe or Japan for this state of affairs.  He has a strategy for advancing Japanese interests at the PRC’s expense.  It’s zero sum, but he expects Japan to come out on the positive-number side of the equation.
I have less generous feelings about the US foreign policy solons who look to the Asian pivot and a deterrence structure to make life easier for US budgeters and defense planners, and pick up some easy diplomatic gains by encouraging antagonisms between the Asian democracies and the PRC, but don’t seem to have thought through the ultimate implications for the US position in Asia.
Mostly, I think it’s because America is hooked on hegemonism—being the unmatchable top dog in Asia—but really can’t do it alone as Asia becomes more prosperous and pours more money into national defense budgets.
So I think the US is taking a leaf from the history of the Roman Empire, by enlisting the inhabitants of the borderlands—in this case Asian democracies instead of fur-clad Goths—in order to make sure the imperial writ is still obeyed.  The US might not find itself fighting off Goths, but it will find itself herding cats—or Japanese panthers—and the US leadership position in Asia will degrade accordingly.
The popularity of the China pivot strategy is a testament to the remarkable power of a bad idea.
As currently implemented, the pivot may not be a workable solution for Asia’s putative ills, but it’s a big fat gift to the military, military contractors, and think tanks.  And it has a virtue shared with other bad ideas.
Dealing with the neverending stream of negative consequences created by a really bad idea is called “process”.  And “process” can be very profitable.
Trying to turn chickenshit into chickensalad isn’t just a job; it’s a career, maybe even a lifelong crusade.  I don’t doubt that the architects of the pivot, when they shuffle off their mortal coil and enter the neo-liberal Valhalla, will still find profitable PRC containment conundrums with which to wrestle.
Thanks, Pivot to Asia!
Somewhere up there the God of War is laughing.