February - 7 - 2018
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Our blog site for readers direct response, including at the beginning of each month, updated geopolitical analysis covering many relevant 20 nations, as well as our invited midmonth contributed essays on current affairs topics.







Any thought that 2018 was to be just another year for further disappointing human affairs has been retreating in the face of the growing realisation of the wider implications of the election of Donald Trump to a unique authority in the world. Could there perhaps be something better – or perhaps even worse on the horizon – than this apparent event of national self-harm, with a capacity for international disaster, barely yet understood?

The single strongest support for this latter view is that there seems in public consciousness, a heightening awareness of the predicament in which the human race now finds itself, in terms of its overall governance. But that generality has long been obvious to some. It might even be true to say that the world of 2018 and its immediate future -‘facing both the rocks’, in terms of leadership … and ‘a hard place’, of globally dissatisfied political entities – the USA itself showing its deep divisions in the Trump election and the European Union struggling with Brexit,’ has come to look like the reality, dominated by a great looming climate of uncertainty –and lack of direction in world affairs – almost across the board.

The world is now and has been over the year since the Trump election, steeped politically in one of its most shambolic, less coherent phases in history. But it is not just uncertainty that dominates. Inadvertently, partly because of its relatively good experience of US leadership back since WWII, the world situation has taken a most dangerous turn.

It was simply that in the immediate post-communist world from 1990-1,with US leadership in the long Cold War, conclusively confirmed and successfully accomplished, Russian communism, terminated by Russians themselves, and with China ‘looming,’ not yet having taken an international role, the leading western players in the r-o-w acquiesced ‘informally’ many years ago, to continuing the ‘de facto’ US leadership since the Cold War, in many, even most, world policy areas, whilst at that time fully expecting this to broadly be benign, yet still muscular. Thus, on this issue and the many that stemmed from it, the 350 year old Westphalian manner of achieving settlements between ‘nation states’, was discarded informally, whilst US leadership became, de facto, paramount.


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The Transformed TPP, Trump & China

One of the first acts Donald Trump undertook as President on January 23 of 2017 was to honour a campaign pledge to withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 29-chapter trade agreement which would have been the largest trade deal in history.

The project had begun as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement reached between Singapore, Chile, New Zealand and Brunei in 2005, before the US became the major player in 2009, under the leadership of Barack Obama, who went to extensive efforts to shape it into the 12 party trade group from which Trump withdrew. The motivation behind Obama’s engagement with the TPP (which has received equal amounts of criticism and praise from observers for reasons we shall consider further on), is fundamentally a desire to check the influence of China, the economic powerhouse of the East which is increasingly assertive in the Indo-Pacific region. The news of the US’ withdrawal (which accounted for 60% of the combined GDP of the original TPP) was the death knell of the deal, many suggested, at the time and yet, on January 23, 2018, after two days in intense talks in Tokyo, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam agreed that they will sign a deal in March in Chile called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), or TPP-11. The reaction of former US Secretary of State John Kerry sums up many of the concerns of those in favour of the “pivot towards Asia” the deal represented: “The fact that there are 11 other countries willing to put the finishing touches to the deal tells you something about the scale of the opportunity my country has chosen to miss by walking away. Meanwhile China is filling the vacuum.”


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Iran is not a “Pushover”

Historical and Strategic Considerations for Trump and His Iran Policy Before America Becomes Embroiled in Another Middle Eastern Disaster

In the 21st Century, presenting the ongoing rivalry or conflict as one between Sunnis and Shiites is to grossly oversimplify what is a more nuanced and complicated phenomenon. Clearly, To discuss what appears to manifest Itself – now a mixture of hatred and resentment’ between the two rival ‘schools’ of Islam purely in religious terms, clouds interpretations. Just as with the centuries of interaction between the Catholics and Protestants of Post- Reformation Europe, there are many complex factors to consider.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are now clearly flat-out competing for the domination of their shared region. And the contrast has never been so close, in a complex and changing system of alliances.

In 2018, both Saudi Arabia and Iran are making political alliances and intervene militarily in support of their allies. Never before has the opposition been so close, leading to a direct involvement including also other global powers: from the United States, historical allies of Riyadh, to Russia, that gladly supports Tehran. And Russian President Vladimir Putin tries to fill the void created by the grave decision of President Donald Trump to unconditionally support Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has only ’increased the distances’ and favored the consolidation of the new alliances between Russia, Iran and Turkey.

But, this is hardly new. The United States is perpetuating and encouraging a game that has long roots and that can’t be resolved simply through military might.


Clive Lindley – Publisher/Editor