Creator Protector Destroyer
Nordstream II destroyer in Ukraine mess, Russia has Bakhmut, Zelensky fires Defense chief, China-Brazil dedollarise, China-ASEAN 3.0, small is beautiful in 149 BRI countries, China-Afghan US problems.
UPDATE: Today, the Long Mekong Daily looks through the Creator-Protector-Destroyer lens to see just how hubris can unravel a US ideal that never truly existed. And, how China’s trade-first and material well-being of the people is a win-win strategy for over 149 countries. There are lessons for the US to learn about soft-power and for China to learn about cleaning up after US-led conflict.
NB: The Hindu god Shiva is the Creator Protector Destroyer of worlds.
President Biden’s State of the Union address was in a word; Appalling! Possibly the worst SoTU ever, it was an emotional, even religious, appeal to believe in exceptionalism and to exorcise foreign demons - Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin and domestic devils - Donald Trump - from the soul of the nation. Biden’s inclusion of individual tragedies and exhortation of spiritual and state power to overcome such travesties obscured the underlying political anomie that causes such social decay. Theatre for the masses, self congratulatory nonsense for the elites and perpetuation of the myth that only the United States is built on a worthy ideal that guarantees perpetual predominance and preponderance.
Contrary to Biden’s appeal, all is not well in the Union, the US is both a paper tiger and a tyrant. Losing the proxy war in Ukraine, militarising Asia-Pacific, persistent inflation, lower living standards, violence on the streets and shootings at schools, poverty levels rising, dollar status in shatters and supply chain destruction. Biden’s utopia of subsidised industry “made in USA” exhortations -essentially strips its allies of economic vigour and largely depend on future exports to big semiconductor importers, which are China and Asia - a losing proposition because China and increasingly ASEAN are exporting powerhouses of EV’s and semiconductors, just ask Tesla or Qualcomm. Massive debts, political polarisation, crumbling infrastructure, education, science and technology follower, health care disaster and a military-industrial complex that underpins the worlds greatest inequality, all point to a disintegrating union. The big lie is that US leadership is based on soft power attraction, rather, it is exercised via hard power coercion, force and sanction.
The almost universal opposition to the US in the Global South and re-emergence of European doubts about US leadership should be enough to convince Biden that being a “peace-maker” is far better for the economy, domestic and global, than the current escalation policy on all fronts in all zones and across all sectors. Echoes of Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq are almost deafening to the world at large. No war, no sanctions, no restrictions, no weaponisation of currency and US industry will once again rise to the challenge - creative destruction, industry disruption - because the only thing that was ever special about the USA was the wealth, power and influence it accrued from constant wars of expansion.
How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline
The New York Times called it a “mystery,” but the United States executed a covert sea operation that was kept secret—until now!
The U.S. Navy’s Diving and Salvage Center can be found in a location as obscure as its name.The center has been training highly skilled deep-water divers for decades who, once assigned to American military units worldwide, are capable of technical diving to do the good—using C4 explosives to clear harbors and beaches of debris and unexploded ordinance—as well as the bad, like blowing up foreign oil rigs, fouling intake valves for undersea power plants, destroying locks on crucial shipping canals. The Panama City center, which boasts the second largest indoor pool in America, was the perfect place to recruit the best, and most taciturn, graduates of the diving school who successfully did last summer what they had been authorized to do 260 feet under the surface of the Baltic Sea.
Last June, the Navy divers, operating under the cover of a widely publicized mid-summer NATO exercise known as BALTOPS 22, planted the remotely triggered explosives that, three months later, destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, according to a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning.
Read the full article here.
Can America Keep Failing Upward?
It’s a paradox of strategy that some goals are more easily achieved through weakness than through strength. In theory, for example, Germany and Japan should have been most amenable to American demands for “burden sharing” when their confidence in U.S. leadership was greatest. In reality, the stronger, wiser, and more competent the United States appeared, the less reason Berlin and Tokyo ever had to put their shoulders to the wheel. Fifty years of Cold War consensus in Washington couldn’t convince Germany and Japan to assume more of the risks and costs of security and defense; after two decades of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden, it seems they’ve seen enough.
Not that the two U.S. allies are moving in identical directions. The Japanese government’s recent release of a National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Defense Buildup Plan is meant to expand Japan’s military capabilities specifically in order to serve as a force multiplier for U.S. military power in the Pacific. The German Chancellery, by contrast, reluctantly agreed to send Ukraine a single company of battle tanks only after weeks of pressure from NATO allies and its own coalition partners. While there is no doubt which side of the U.S.-China rivalry Japan is on, suspicions linger that the reestablishment of relations with Russia remains a top German priority.
Read the full article here.
Russia Claims 'Successful’ Advances Into Ukraine's Bakhmut
The Russian army is “successfully” advancing near the eastern Ukrainian towns of Bakhmut and Vuhledar, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday.
"Such steps draw NATO countries into the conflict and could see it escalate unpredictably”
Shoigu then accused the U.S. and its allies in the West of "trying to drag out the conflict as long as possible,” referring to the military aid promised to Kyiv by its American and European allies.
Read more here.
Bakhmut About to Fall, Russia Says Ukraine Leaving Kupiansk; Report Implicates Biden in Nord Stream
Zelensky’s Party Says It Will Move to Replace Defense Minister
The expected move against Oleksii Reznikov comes amid a widening corruption scandal, although he was not implicated in wrongdoing.
But Bloomberg reports that Oleksii Reznikov’s Removal is on Hold Amid Security Risks
President Volodymyr Zelensky’s political party said on Sunday that it would move to replace Ukraine’s defense minister, as fierce fighting raged in the east amid what Ukrainian officials say is the beginning of a new Russian offensive.
Defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, will be transferred to the leadership of another ministry and Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the current military intelligence chief, would replace him.
China and Brazil agree to use yuan in cross-border transactions
As explained in a brief communiqué, the agreement will facilitate the operations of companies and financial institutions of both countries, as well as bilateral trade and investments. This pact gives greater strength to the yuan or renminbi, which in recent years has gained increasing importance as an alternative currency in international business in the face of the proliferation of US restrictions on the use of the US dollar.
Last year, China sealed a similar agreement with Laos and the Russian oil companies Gazprom, and the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation also signed another one to pay with yuan and rubles for Russian gas shipments here.
Read more here, here and here.
ASEAN-China Free Trade Area’s 3.0 version echoes the development needs of both sides
Building the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) 3.0 version actively echoes the development needs of both sides and is line with the trend of global economic development, Shi Zhongjun, secretary-general of the ASEAN-China Centre (ACC), told the Global Times in an exclusive written interview.
"The 3.0 version of ACFTA will focus on trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation, digital economy, green economy and industrial cooperation, where digital economy and green economy represent new areas of cooperation that deserve special attention” (Shi Zhongjun, secretary-general of the ASEAN-China Centre)
Read more here.
Belt and Road Initiative 149 Countries
China’s colossal infrastructure investments may usher in a new era of trade and growth for economies in Asia and beyond. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects ever conceived. Launched in 2013 by President Xi Jinping, the vast collection of development and investment initiatives was originally devised to link East Asia and Europe through physical infrastructure. In the decade since, the project has expanded to Africa, Oceania, and Latin America, significantly broadening China’s economic and political influence.
Read the US view here.
“Small is Beautiful”: A New Era in China’s Overseas Development Finance?
After providing a staggering amount of finance for overseas development projects in the wake of the global financial crisis, Chinese overseas development finance has been on a general downward trend for several years.
The China’s Overseas Development Finance (CODF) Database, managed by the Boston University Global Development Policy Center, recorded 28 new loan commitments in 2020 and 2021 worth a combined value of $10.5 billion, the lowest in recent years.
A new policy brief shares insights on the state of China’s overseas development finance from 2008-2021 and how borrowers, sectors and loan types have changed over the years.
Download full report here.
China’s challenges in Afghanistan are made in the USA
As China gets deeply involved in an economically fragile Afghanistan, it is bound to face enormous security challenges. The recent flurry of attacks on Chinese nationals in Afghanistan has raised concerns inside Beijing’s foreign policy circles. Beijing has a self-made reputation for operating on an astute business model. So far, despite facing some obstacles, China has remained committed to cementing its presence in the country to advance its strategic and economic objectives. The future, however, doesn’t look very promising for Beijing.
There are two core aspects to Beijing’s interest in Afghanistan: establishing security in its western frontier by controlling Uyghur separatism and protecting Belt and Road projects in Central Asia and Pakistan. Afghanistan has emerged as a lynchpin for both. Beijing’s twin strategies are now playing out.
Read full article here.
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