One Belt, One Road, Many Misconceptions,

Alison O’Neil, regular contributor for the Realist Review and Andrew C. Jarocki Editor-in-Chief of the Realist Review.

Massive. Weaponized. Even a “stalking horse to advance security concerns.”   These are just some of the dramatic terms high-ranking officials, including top American military brass and defense secretaries, have used to describe China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

In 2013, President Xi Jinping announced an ambitious slate of infrastructure projects across the Eurasian landmass while on a visit to Kazakhstan. The undertaking was nicknamed “The New Silk Road” in a nod to China’s history. New railways, pipelines and ports constructed with partners throughout the world would empower China both economically and geopolitically.

The BRI encompasses overland transport routes and pipelines as well as a “maritime silk road” of ports and ocean routes throughout the Indian Ocean littorals. Proposed and completed BRI projects include railroads in Southeast Asia, power plants across Africa and the Middle East, and ports everywhere from Sri Lanka to Greece. Läs artikel

Russia plans to expand the Northeast Passage,

The Russian government has announced plans to massively expand the annual transit volume on the Northeast Passage. “By 2030, we plan to reach a level of 150 million tons, of which 30 million tons will be transit,” First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov said, adding that a total of 716 billion rubles (8.21 billion euros) will be invested in infrastructure over the next 10 years. The aim is to make the route passable all year round. More than half of the total amount is to be spent before 2024.

Currently, the majority of Arctic cargo volumes are handled by LNG carriers. In the last week of July, five large tankers were on route from the Sabetta LNG terminal eastward through the Bering Strait to China.

According to the Northern Sea Route Administration a total of 64 ships were sailing on the Northern Sea Route on 22 July 2021.

Shipping on the Northeast Passage has increased sharply in recent years, reaching a total volume of 32.97 million tonnes in 2020, but only about 1.3 million tonnes of these were transit shipments. Läs artikel

Northern Fleet warships will conduct tactical exercises around Scandinavia,

Thomas Nilsen, editor of the Independent Barents Observer

The first group of navy ships and submarines that participated in the naval parade in St. Petersburg last weekend sailed under Denmark’s Great Belt bridge Friday morning on their way north to the Kola Peninsula.

Never has such powerful group of warships from the Northern Fleet previously been in the Baltic Sea. The vessels, now about to sail around Scandinavia in an inter-fleet transfer back to the bases along Russia’s northern coast to the Barents Sea, consists of three nuclear powered submarines, one diesel electric sub, a frigate, a large anti-submarine ship, a missile cruiser, a large landing ship, and several support vessels.

“During the inter-fleet transition to the permanent deployment bases, the ships of the Northern Fleet will perform a set of combat training missions as part of various naval formations, which will be formed for the purpose of conducting a number of tactical exercises,” the press service of the Northern Fleet informs. […]

In 2019, also in what first was believed to be a regular inter-ship transfer from the Baltic Sea to the Kola Peninsula, the Russian navy suddenly launched a larger exercise west of Scandinavia consisting of about 30 ships and submarines from the Northern Fleet, Baltic Fleet and the Black Sea Fleet.

Named “Ocean Shield 2019”, the exercise was first announced to take place in the Baltic Sea, but with the surprise groupings in the North Sea and Norwegian Sea, Norway’s Defence Chief at the time said the objective of the exercise was to block NATO’s access to waters around Scandinavia. […]

In previous years, the Northern Fleet has sailed one nuclear-powered submarine to participate in the main naval parade in St. Petersburg. This year’s move, with three nuclear-powered submarines sailing the Baltic Sea, including one ballistic missile sub, was an extraordinary event. Läs artikel

Ambassador Qin Gang Delivered Remarks to Chinese and American Media,

[…] Fifty years ago, Dr. Henry Kissinger made a secret visit to China and opened the door to the normalization of China-U.S. relations. It was during the Cold War; at that time there was virtually no contact between the two countries. Dr. Kissinger had to travel covertly to China via a third country. Fifty years later today, as the 11th Chinese Ambassador to the United States, I can travel most openly and fly directly to this country. How the world has changed with the passage of time! I believe that the door of China-U.S. relations, which is already open, cannot be closed. This is the trend of the world, the call of the times, and the will of the people.

Over the past half a century, the China-U.S. relationship has kept moving forward despite twists and turns. It has not only had a profound impact on the two countries, but has also changed the course of history and the world significantly. The world today is going through major changes unseen in a century. As two big countries different in history, culture, social system and development stage, China and the United States are entering a new round of mutual exploration, understanding and adaptation, trying to find a way to get along with each other in the new era. The China-U.S. relationship has once again come to a new critical juncture, facing not only many difficulties and challenges but also great opportunities and potentials. Where this important relationship will be headed is vital for the well-being of the Chinese and American peoples and for the future of the world. The two peoples and the international community hope for a sound, stable and growing relationship between the two countries. Läs talet


Vi drar här ifrån,

Översatt från tyska med Google.

[…] Frankrikes president Emmanuel Macron har en ny strategi i kampen mot terror i afrikanska Sahel: tillbakadragande. Den franska antiterroroperationen Barkhane, som har kämpat mot islamistiska terroristgrupper i Mali, Niger och Burkina Faso sedan 2014 och bara ökat till 5 100 soldater för ett och ett halvt år sedan, kommer att halveras till 2023. […]

Svaret i Frankrike är enhälligt. Den högerfranska veckoveckan Marianne talar om en “sen insikt i misslyckande” och den satiriska uppenbarelsen Le Canard Enchaîné delar denna åsikt och citerar diplomatiska uttalanden om ett “omöjligt krig att vinna”.

Vice presidenten för den franska senaten, kommunisten Pierre Laurent, drar en bitter balans om Barkhane – 51 döda franska soldater och tio miljarder euro i kostnader, men terroristgrupperna är minst lika starka som i början: ”Trots vissa taktiska framgångar , strategin är i en återvändsgränd landad. “[…]

En omedelbar politisk faktor är den växande oenigheten mellan Frankrike och regeringarna i Mali och Burkina Faso . I båda länderna förhandlar politiker med samma jihadister som Frankrike militärt kämpar mot. Lokala politiker är oroliga för lokal pacifiering, men Macron har förklarat att samtal med jihadister om Mali är den ”röda linjen”, vars korsning kommer att avsluta det militära stödet från Frankrike. Läs artikel

Biden Is Correct On The Nord Stream 2 Pipeline,

Robert W. Merry, former Washington journalist and publishing executive

[…] The American effort to thwart that project, initiated by Barack Obama and maintained by Donald Trump, was a misguided and short-sighted policy that was destined to fail. And it did fail when Biden simply recognized the reality that the pipeline, nearing completion, couldn’t be stopped. So the president put the best face on it and accepted defeat. […]

What this tells us, beyond the suggestion that perhaps America should butt out of such matters, is that it should also perhaps give further thought to its own anti-Russia obsession and seek prospects for finding common ground with that regional power on matters worthy of exploration.

Which calls to mind President Richard Nixon’s famous outreach, in the early 1970s, to the country that he previously had referred to derisively as “Red China.” Nixon, the anticommunist partisan, gave the country a stunning example of new thinking and new flexibility in policymaking on the international scene. China and America viewed each other as implacable enemies. Nixon set out to change that. And he succeeded. […]

Before traveling to China, Nixon pulled out one of his famous yellow legal pads and labeled three columns at the top: “What They Want”; “What We Want”; and “What We Both Want.” Then he filled in the columns with thumbnail descriptions that fit those categories. This clarified that Nixon had no intention of bringing to this epic negotiation the kind of foreign policy arrogance that America projects these days. He genuinely wanted to pursue China’s fundamental interests, to the extent that he could, because he knew that if he didn’t the trip wouldn’t have much point.

He also knew that the one thing Chinese leaders wanted above everything else was a U.S. recognition that Taiwan belonged to China. So he gave it to them. “Principle one,” said Nixon, “there is one China, and Taiwan is part of China. There will be no more statements made—if I can control our bureaucracy—to the effect that the status of Taiwan is undetermined.”

This was astonishing. He added that America wouldn’t support any Taiwanese independence movement, that the United States would support any peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue, and it would draw down on U.S. forces on the island as the situation in Vietnam allowed. Läs artikel

Nato trener afghanske styrker i Tyrkia – uten Norge,

Afghanske sikkerhetsstyrker ble onsdag fløyet til Ankara på der de skal bli trent opp, ifølge tyrkiske myndigheter. Dette skal være en innledning til mer permanente opptreningsprogram utenfor Afghanistan.

En Nato-talsperson bekrefter overfor nyhetsbyrået DPA oppstarten av programmet, men vil ikke si mer om hvor det skal avholdes eller gi andre detaljer. […]

Den norske regjeringen har tidligere varslet at de vil fortsette treningen av afghanske sikkerhetsstyrker i et tredjeland. Forsvaret opplyser til Forsvarets forum at Norge foreløpig ikke deltar ikke treningen av soldater i Tyrkia, men at landet kan være aktuelt dersom Forsvaret skal fortsette mentoreringen av afghansk styrker. Läs  artikel

NATO’s activity near Russian borders forces Moscow to take security measures,

NATO’s activity near Russian borders forces Russia to take security measures, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

The Russian presidential spokesman thus commented on the alliance’s drills dubbed Agile Spirit 2021 that had kicked off in Georgia with the participation of 12 NATO member states and also Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine.

“This is yet another proof that NATO with its military infrastructure is around our borders. Moreover, it has come in contact with our borders rather than is just around them,” Peskov pointed out. Läs artikel

Kina släpper in talibanerna i det diplomatiska finrummet,

En högt uppsatt delegation från talibanrörelsen har i dag besökt Kina. Besöket visar att talibanerna lyckats bryta sin diplomatiska isolation samtidigt som rörelsen avancerar på marken i Afghanistan. […]

En delegation från talibanrörelsen inledde i dag ett besök i Kina och uttalandena från parterna tyder på att förhandlingarna förlöpte väl.

Den nio personer stora delegationen, som leds av den högt uppsatta talibanledaren mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar, träffade bland annat Kinas utrikesminister Wang Yi. Det kinesiska utrikesministeriet uppgav i dag att talibanerna kommer att spela en viktig roll både när det gäller att skapa fred i Afghanistan och i återuppbyggandet av det krigshärjade landet.

Talibanerna gav i sin tur säkerhetsgarantier till Kina.

‒ Det islamska emiratet försäkrade Kina att Afghanistans mark inte kommer att utnyttjas för hot mot Kinas säkerhet, sa talibantalesmannen Mohammed Naeem.

‒ De lovade i sin tur att inte blanda sig i Afghanistans interna angelägenheter utan att i stället hjälpa att lösa problem och skapa fred, tillade han.

Ett av Kinas mål med kontakterna till talibanerna är att säkra att Afghanistan inte blir en bas för separatister från landets uigurregioner.

Afghanistan och Kina har en kort, bergig och svårtillgänglig gräns. På den kinesiska sidan ligger gränsområdet i provinsen Xinjiang. Kina har kritiserats hårt för förföljelser mot uigurbefolkningen i just Xinjiang. På lång sikt kan Afghanistan också utgöra en viktig länk i Kinas ambitiösa infrastrukturprojekt ‒ ett bälte, en väg. Läs artikel

Biljoner euro går till krigsförberedelser,

Mikael Böök, Isnäs

Frågar någon ens vem som ska betala notan? Militärutgifter är offentliga utgifter så det är förstås skattebetalarna som ska betala biljonerna.

Kostnaderna för det pågående fransk-tysk-spanska projektet Furure Combat Air System (FCAS) har uppskattats till en halv biljon, det vill säga 500 miljarder euro. Det nya stridsflygplanet ska ersätta nuvarande tyska Eurofighter och franska Rafale från och med 2040. Därom enades förbundskansler Angela Merkel och president Emmanuel Macron 2017.

De två statsöverhuvudena var också överens om att utveckla en ny tankvagn för 100 miljarder euro, uppgav den tyska affärstidningen Handelsblatt (5.6.2019).

Nu gäller det att komma ihåg att FCAS samt Main Ground Combat System (MGCS), alltså den planerade nya tankvagnen, inte är de enda pågående rustningsprojekten i vår världsdel. Svärmar av bestyckade drönare ska nämligen beledsaga dessa stridsflyg “av sjätte generationen”. För detta ändamål tas attackdrönaren Neuron i dessa tider fram av svensk, fransk, italiensk, spansk, schweizisk och grekisk militärindustri. Ja, och så behöver förstås militärens molntjänster, satellitsystem och artificiell intelligens uppdateras. Läs artikel

US, NATO pledge billions to back Afghan forces,

The U.S. and NATO have promised to pay $4 billion a year until 2024 to finance Afghanistan’s military and security forces, which are struggling to contain an advancing Taliban. Already, the U.S. has spent nearly $89 billion over the past 20 years to build, equip and train Afghan forces.

Yet America’s own government watchdog says oversight of the money has been poor, hundreds of millions of dollars have been misspent and corruption is rife in the security apparatus.

Monitoring where the future funding goes will become virtually impossible after Aug. 31, when the last coalition troops leave. Here is a look at some of the issues:

Nearly $83 billion has been spent to build, equip, train and sustain Afghanistan’s National Defense and Security Forces, which include the military, national police and the elite special forces. Läs artikel


Biden isn’t withdrawing troops from Iraq, he’s relabeling their mission,

Annelle Sheline, Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and President Biden  announced this week that Washington will end its combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year. However, these long-serving U.S. soldiers are not coming home: many of the 2,500 American service members are expected to remain in the country for “training and advisory” purposes.

The United States and Iraq had issued a joint statement in April that the U.S. combat mission would be ending, but the timeline remained unclear. The timing of the recent announcement appears intended to boost Kadhimi’s prospects in October’s parliamentary elections — he faces domestic demands to oust U.S. forces, yet remains dependent on American support to maintain some semblance of control. […]

Announcing a troop withdrawal when no troops are in fact to be withdrawn reinforces a broader alarming trend in the forever wars — finding ways to keep American soldiers perpetually deployed, despite the public’s desire for the United States to prioritize investment at home over violence abroad. Läs artikel