It is getting more and more difficult to escape the continuing story about the newly formed Russia-China alliance and its ramifications:
And while the world is distracted by what Russia is doing on its Western Borders, we ought to look with concern at the growing friendship it is forming to the East. A friendship that has blossomed on the foundation of economic and military cooperation, including a recent multi-billion dollar natural gas deal, cemented with a mutual desire for expansion and an unabashed distaste for America as the world leader.
China’s path over the last two decades is remarkably similar to Russia’s. It has grown from a third world nation, isolated from the wealth of free markets, to a capitalist-totalitarian hybrid, with a booming economy, quickly advancing military capability, strong media censorship and a poor human rights record. The Tiger looks east for its conquests; full control of Taiwan, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea are that nation’s near term goals. And like Russia, when Chinese leadership believes that there will be little or no consequences for its actions it will act. China will continue its slow progression of forcing Filipino, Vietnamese and Japanese vessels out of the maritime areas under dispute, and will continue the buildup of forces in the Taiwan Strait until they believe an international intervention would be untenable; then they will annex Taiwan, sooner than we may think, and it won’t stop there.
The ambitions and the ideology echoed by Russia and China run eerily parallel to the mutual interests which brought Hitler and Mussolini together. And like the WWII Axis of Evil, the development of Russia and China’s military technology and doctrine is being done in peacetime, with all signs pointing towards the nations’ full anticipation of war. Their military goals are clearly to counter the military capabilities of the West. Just as an example, Russia’s SA-20 was designed to shoot down the PATRIOT missile, and China’s DF-21D Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile was developed to destroy the top deck of an Aircraft Carrier.
And while the rest of the world verbally condemns China and Russia without actually intending to enforce any consequences; China and Russia move their pawns into our backyard. The Tiger and the Bear appear to be taking preemptive measures to counter U.S. military might at home by moving forces to Nicaragua. China and Russia are cooperating on a canal in that country meant to rival the Panama Canal.
Not only does this provide an economic foothold for Russia and China in Central America, but it is an excellent smoke screen for Russia to use Nicaragua as a strategic operating base. Compound the canal with the April 2014 announcement of Russian legislation approving the construction of Space Navigation Hubs in Nicaragua for the “peaceful exploration of space” (a common party line) and to enhance their GLONASS system, the Russian rival to U.S. GPS, and all of a sudden there is quite a bit of activity to our south. What elevates this concern is that China is the foremost developer of Antisatellite (ASAT) technology and it would be naïve to assume that China will not be covertly working with Russian scientists in Nicaragua. The close proximity of these Space Hubs to the territorial U.S. also increases Russia and China’s ability to triangulate the position of our communication satellites, which we are extremely reliant on for command and control.
Russia and China want their way with Europe and Asia in the coming decades, so the two countries are beginning the process of checking U.S. power before we ever realize we may need to exercise it. It is imperative that as a nation we recognize the scheme that is afoot and the eventual consequences we will face if we turn a blind eye.
The wanton arming of Syrian rebels by the United States undermines Washington’s allies in the country’s civil war and could lead to a warlord system similar to that of Somalia in years to come, a Free Syrian Army leader has warned.
Brigadier General Abdelilah Al-Bashir – who led opposition forces of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) before becoming chief-of-staff of the FSA’s Supreme Military Council (SMC) in February – told Reuters that Washington has avoided the SMC in routing weapons straight to various rebel groups often out of the FSA’s control.
"The Americans are leading the distribution of weapons on the northern front and in the southern front. We demand that we be responsible," said Bashir, who defected from Syrian military in 2012.
"Providing support to individual battalions could turn the commanders of these battalions into warlords and they will be difficult to control in future," he added. "This could turn Syria into Afghanistan or Somalia."
His comments track closely with those of former UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who recently likened the situation in Syria to those countries and said he was afraid there could be “warlords all over the place.”
Naftali Bennett and Tzipi Livni don’t agree on much.
Bennett, Israel’s economy minister, sees the West Bank as an inseparable part of the Jewish state and wants Israel to annex its settlements there. Livni, the justice minister, says Israel can remain a Jewish democracy only by evacuating settlements.
Their debate exposes the cracks in Israel’s diverse governing coalition. But the biggest division in Herzliya wasn’t between hawks and doves; it was between the politicians who prioritized addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the military officials who all but ignored it.
One issue of broad consensus among conference speakers was the need to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Speakers were skeptical that negotiations between Iran and world powers to scale back Iran’s nuclear program would succeed.
British rights group Amnesty International has painted a disturbing picture of EU-aspirant Turkey as a country on the way to authoritarian rule.
Its report, published on Tuesday (10 June) - one year after mass protests which broke out in Gezi Park, Istanbul - warns that thousands of people are at risk of prison for exercising their right to freedom of assembly, while police officers are getting away with acts of severe brutality.
It says that after 12 years in power the ruling party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “is perhaps at a cross-roads”.
At the same time, anti-terrorism laws are being cited against many government critics, who face between three and 15 years in prison if convicted.
The prosecutions, as in the case of five men linked to the Taksim Solidarity group, often rest on flimsy evidence.
The Taksim Solidarity defendants are being prosecuted mainly on grounds of tweets sent from the group’s account documenting the events. Some of the tweets cited by prosecutors give locations of makeshift medical facilities, while the people who provided medical care to the wounded are also facing jail.
“The prosecutions … illustrate once again the failure to distinguish between criminal activities and those protected by the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly”, Amnesty said.
With Erdogan notorious as the world’s leading jailer of journalists, the British group highlighted his attack on Turkish people's access to independent information.
It says that 153 reporters were injured by police during last year’s clashes. Foreign correspondents “were subjected to unprecedented pressure” including “anonymous death threats”, while more than 80 Turkish journalists were forced out of their jobs for refusing to toe the Erdogan line.
It notes that subsequent criminal proceedings against some reporters show that “defamation and incitement to hatred legislation are used to silence government critics in Turkey” and “illustrate the authorities’ severe aversion to dissent”.