RG21’s Predictions for 2021

                        by David Parmer / Tokyo

Here are a few “predictions” from RG-21 for 2021. None of them are really new, but rather the ways that existing situations might develop in the New Year.

China-VS-US: We took a look at this topic before here at RG-21, and our conclusions have not changed much. The new Biden administration will not fundamentally change its relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Certainly the bellicose tone favored by President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be toned down. Diplomacy will be back in fashion and this includes relations with the PRC. The constant attacks on the CPC (Communist Party of China) will cease from the US government, but not from right-wing elements within the US.

As former Secretary of Defense James Mattis saw it, China is a “strategic competitor” but not an enemy. This may very well be the approach that the Biden administration takes. Also, the Trump administration has left the Biden people with several cards to play vis-a-vis China. While some sanctions may be lifted as a “good will” gesture, the others will be bargaining chips which the US will happily remove in return for concessions from the PRC.

As for the South China Sea issue, neither China nor the US will budge much if at all. As for the Indo-Pacific, the US will continue to do what it has been doing to form a coalition around the area to maintain a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” From the Chinese side this may very well be seen as an effort to contain or encircle China.

The US will continue to evaluate Huawei’s role in building and re-building infrastructure worldwide. The case of Meng Wanzhou might be re-evaluated and dropped or settled out of court as a “good will” gesture to the PRC.

 President Biden will get US allies on board with whatever China policy the US decides to adopt. This may be easier than might be imagined since, for now, China and Europe are not on the best of terms.

Finally, with better US-China dialogue, consular facilities that were closed on a tit-for-tat basis may be quickly re-opened.

Iran-VS-US: Relations between the US and the Islamic Republic are at such a low point that almost anything done in a positive manner would be seen as significant. After China, Iran is next on the list threats to the US as seen by the Trump administration.

To this end President Trump pulled the US out of the JCPOA or “Iran Deal” despite Iran’s independently verified full compliance with the terms of the agreement. As we have written previously, the Europeans  (together with China and Russia) have kept the agreement on “life support” after the US withdrawal.  The US and Israel have kept Iran in their sights, and have taken provocative actions that only strengthen the radical elements within Iran, and then use the results of those provocations to show how dangerous Iran is.

Here again, the Trump administration has left the US with some cards to play. Sanctions could be lifted in exchange for that which the US and its allies want. For example, a whole host of sanctions could be lifted for some movement on Iran’s limiting its missile program, one that causes much more threat to its neighborhood than a nuclear capability.

It was the US and Israel that wanted Iran to re-negotiate the JCPOA to include this program that caused the US to withdraw from the JCPOA. The strategy was that crippling sanctions would drive Iran back to the table to negotiate over its missile program. This did not happen. The Iranians, just like the Cubans bore the brunt of US sanctions and did not fold.

The Biden administration could begin immediately to re-weave the JCPOA. First by re-joining, and then when Iran is found in compliance, to release much-needed funds to the government of Iran.

The original strategy of the JCPOA was to strengthen the moderate elements in the Iran power structure, and it is likely that this strategy will again be used.

Taiwan-VS-China-VS-US: The bottom line is this–the US Taiwan policy will not fundamentally change, but the tone will. Support for Taiwan (as is) is rock solid in the US congress. Weapons sales will continue. What will happen first is the rhetoric regarding China will be toned-down.

Also, the drawing of Taiwan closer to US will probably stop. Despite the Taiwan Relations Act, high-level visits by US officials will be seen for what they are: provocative acts which could potentially de-stabilize a precarious situation. Acts that could be seen as re-recognizing Taiwan as “China” will be toned-down or eliminated. But the US will not budge on Taiwan or on the “freedom of navigation” within the Taiwan Strait.

In a sense, this takes the US out of the equation in the question of China-vs-Taiwan. In another sense, both parties are back to “square one.” And what is “square one?” China claims Taiwan as its territory and has promised to return the island to the PRC even using force if necessary. Taiwan sees itself as a de-facto independent country, and clings to the Republic of China name not as an anachronism but as a reality. Again and again the people of the island have reported that they see themselves as Taiwanese and not Chinese.

President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party is called an “independence” party, but it knows that if it declares “independence” it will cross a redline that will probably lead to the PRC invading.

China may be thinking (and hoping) that if the DPP does not deliver to its constituents, then the pro-Beijing Kuomintang opposition party may take power and relations would again improve significantly.

The situation for now: stalemate. But from the PRC’s point of view, the clock is ticking. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

US-VS-Europe: Old friends meet again. Traditional allies close ranks. Relations between the US and Europe will take a monumental leap forward once Joe Biden raises his hand and takes the oath of office of the President of the United States. Trump’s distain for diplomacy and for long-standing relationships that do not benefit the US in his way of calculating will no longer be policy.

The Biden administration will again re-assert US world leadership and call on the Europeans to join. With its strong traditional allies the US will have a joint face regarding both China and Russia.

US-Turkey-NATO: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is going his own way and is far along on making Turkey a viable regional power. There have been comments that he is creating a new Ottoman Empire with himself at the center. Turkey is the only Muslim member of NATO, and the US has for years had a base at Incirlik on Turkish soil. And yet, Turkey despite its NATO membership went ahead and bought the powerful and capable Russian Triumph S-400 missile system. In retaliation, the US removed Turkey from a lucrative and advanced program in fabricating the cutting-edge F35 fighter.

Erdogan also has brought force to bear on the Kurdish fighters in Syria whom it counts as terrorists. These same Kurds are seen as staunch US allies, or at least they were before the Trump administration pulled US advisors out, thereby signaling Erdogan that is OK to do what he wishes with the Kurds.

It is likely that the US will mend fences with the Kurds as well as soon as Donald Trump is gone. But the US will now have to face new challenges in the region. Both Iran and Turkey will be mid-level players who will be calling the shots in their neighborhood. It will be up to the Biden administration to formulate a strategy to deal with these two emerging and powerful regional powers.

Korea-VS-The World: There are no signs that the Kim dynasty will go away any time soon. Kim Jong-un will continue to rule and will continue to hone his nuclear powered military. He will probably try to upgrade his submarine fleet (if anyone will sell him the boats) and will continue to strengthen his special forces as well.

Kim’s strategy for the South in the event of war would be asymmetrical warfare to start with including the use of special forces to disrupt communications and transport in the South and then use his massive conventional forces to invade following a withering rain of artillery fire on Seoul and a missile attack on the largest US base in the country, Camp Humphreys, which is just 97km (60 miles) from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

Donald Trump’s attempt to get concessions from Kim failed. His meetings resulted in nothing taking place except the optics of a meeting. The Biden administration will have to deal with the Korea stalemate as well. Kim will probably use his nuclear arsenal to try to intimidate the US and Japan, and extract some kind of concessions from the South.

Perhaps the only negative to be found in the departure of Donald Trump from the office of US president will be the fact that Kim could never be sure of Trump’s mental state, and he could never be sure that Trump would not “press the button” on the DPRK.

With a more measured and professional Biden in office, it is likely that Kim, without the fear of immediate nuclear reprisal from Trump, will again begin to stir things up on the Korean peninsula.

There are a few more areas of interest that could heat up in 2021. Next time we will take a look at a few including Russia, Syria, Central Africa, and the Nordic countries.

Photo: Marshall Space Flight Center via flickr

Person of Interest: Tony Blinken, Biden Foreign Policy Advisor.

To get an idea of former Vice President Joe Biden’s foreign policy when he becomes president, the best person to listen to is his top advisor, Tony Blinken.

Blinken, a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia University has been around politics and policy since 1994 when he was on Bill Clinton’s National Security Council staff. From 2002-2008 he was Democratic Staff Director for the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Blinken was Deputy Secretary of State from 2015-2017 and Deputy National Security Advisor. It is possible that he will be chosen to be National Security Advisor in a Biden administration.

In two interviews (links below) he outlines a possible direction for Biden foreign policy. It should come as no surprise that one of the first priorities will be mending relations with US allies who have been alienated by the substance and manner of Donald Trump’s policies toward allies, toward Europe and toward NATO.

The big question is relations with China. In the interviews Blinken suggests that the US is operating from a position of weakness regarding China and the first task is to reestablish good relations with US allies before dealing with China. He suggests that the US and China share many common interests internationally and that these are areas for cooperation. However, he stresses that the US must do this from a position of strength.

As for Iran, the US withdrawal from the JCPOA or “Iran Deal” did not force Iran back to the bargaining table as the Trump administration had planned, nor did the crippling sanctions create regime change in Teheran. It is possible that the US might even return to the JCPOA under a Biden administration. The Europeans have been keeping the deal on life support, and it might well get new life.

While it is possible that a Biden administration would have to look inward to repair the damage done to all areas of American politics and daily life brought about by 4 years of the Trump policies, the US would still have both its international commitments and interests, and those would be addressed by people of a like mind to Tony Blinken.

Dialogue on American Foreign Policy and World Affairs: A Conversation with Former Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (Hudson Institute)

Transcript: Joe Biden foreign policy adviser Anthony Blinken on COVID shortfalls, failures in Syria (CBS News)

Photo: US Department of State via flickr

Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau–Still On The Job.

It’s been almost 5 years since Justin Trudeau took office as the second-youngest prime minister of Canada. It has not been a particularly smooth ride, but Mr.Trudeau has endured, and some might say triumphed.

Mr. Trudeau’s troubles have come in the area of domestic politics and international relations. In the era of “gotcha” politics Mr. Trudeau has made a couple of slips which his opponents have capitalized on. He has had to apologize for appearing at a party dressed in “blackface” in his younger days, and recently he has been involved in an incident with the WE Charity that his family is involved in and which got government support, suggesting a conflict of interest.

Voters seem to have accepted his apologies and explanations, however the 2019 election was close and he was forced to form a minority government, suggesting his popularity with the voters has slipped a bit over the firs 4 years.

Internationally, Mr. Trudeau has to deal with his neighbor to the south in the form of US President Donald Trump. Trump and Trudeau have an on-again, off-again relationship. In the 2019 London Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Trump pushed Trudeau about Canada’s NATO spending which is still under 2% GDP. Trump presses everyone’s button about that, so it was not unusual, and Mr. Trudeau was reported to have said that Canada had, in fact, increased its defense spending. Later Mr. Trudeau was overheard joking with other leaders to which Mr. Trump took offense and referred to him as “two faced.” In July 2020 there was a formal signing of the new American trade agreement, USMCA, in the US. The Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, was able to attend, but Mr. Trudeau had other engagements and was not able to attend.

In early August 2020, President Trump announced the redisposition of tariffs on Canadian aluminum citing national security concerns. Canada quickly hit back with its own tariffs on US products. One might wonder why start a trade war with an ally and neighbor, but Mr. Trudeau and the rest of the world know that Mr. Trump is set to run in a very tight bid for reelection, and such protectionist measures play very well to his 30% hard-core “America first” base.

Good news for Mr. Trudeau is the approval from his countrymen that he has gotten for handling Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada’s numbers are, relatively speaking, good and Mr. Trudeau and his government has gotten a lot of credit for this. Some of the shine for this achievement seems to have worn off temporarily over the We Charity incident.

Well, there are no term limits for Canada’s Prime Minister, so it is hard to say how long Mr. Trudeau will hold on to his job. But if conditions improve worldwide with the controlling of COVID-19, and a change of government brings a more globally-minded US government as his nearest neighbor, then who knows how long we will be seeing the face of Canada being the face of Justin Trudeau? It is hard to tell, but if he has led his country in the tough times, then maybe he and his party will be chosen to lead in more congenial times.

Photo: via wikipedia

 

 

How Will A Democratic Win in November 2020 Affect US-China Relations?

                        by David Parmer / Tokyo

US-China relations aren’t at their lowest ever–before President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, the US and the PRC were not even talking to each other. No, things are not that bad, but in many ways they are still pretty bad.

The current US-China tensions are fueled by an ongoing trade war between the two superpowers mostly based on the Trump administration’s underlying assertion that the US has been taken advantage of by China over the decades and that it is now time to the US to stop being victimized by China. The second point of contention is that China is a rising superpower and now the world’s number two economy and that the US must compete with China.

This translates into seeing China as America’s most dangerous potential adversary and building alliances to handle this perceived threat. And of course, there is the question of Taiwan. The US continues to sell weapons and to upgrade weapons systems for Taiwan. China objects to this, but the US ignores those objections.

 What’s more, in 2018 the Trump administration did a $225 million upgrade of its Taiwan mission facilities. On top of this, in 2018 the US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act which encouraged high-level officials from both the US and Taiwan to make reciprocal visits. As noted earlier, this could be construed by the PRC as the US walking back recognition of the PRC and the One-China Policy and upgrading of the status of Taiwan.

 So US-China relations are not at their worst, but they are certainly not very good. Now there is a good chance that in the 2020 election Donald Trump will not get a second term and that former Vice-President Joe Biden will be elected to replace Donald Trump as president. All indications are that it will be a contentious, dirty, hard fought election with allegations of foreign interference, vote tampering and vote suppression. Past performance indicates that Donald Trump will not be a graceful loser.

So with a Democratic president in the White House in the form of former Vice President Joe Biden, what could we expect with regard to US-China relations?

Indo-Pacific Strategy–Don’t look for much, if any, change here. This area is seen as of significant importance to America’s global power and reach, and is seen as a potent force to counter Chinese influence in the region.

South China Sea–Same again; not much, if any, change. America’s presence in this area will not diminish. It is seen as much too important to the overall US strategy to give any leeway on this issue.

Taiwan–The long-standing US commitment to Taiwan, especially from the US congress is not likely to change. What might change, however, is the US government’s emphasis on Taiwan. The support will be there, but actions by a Biden administration would be less confrontational than those of the Trump administration. US support goes all the way back to its support of Chiang Kai Shek and the Republic of China after WWII. So a less provocative stance by the US might be on the cards, but fundamentally no real change in policy except the avoidance of overtly-provocative actions that the PRC could not ignore like port calls by US warships for example.

Hong Kong–Not much change here either. Democrats are basically liberals, and what they consider human rights will be a priority for them. If US prestige is restored after the Trump debacle presidency, then “human rights” as preached by the US might again have some meaning around the world. Moral support for Hong Kong democracy will continue.

Xinjiang–In the same manner as with Hong Kong, American Democrats will continue to push for human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet.

Trade–This is a real problem for the US, and the Biden administration will have to do some serious “fence mending” with China (and many others). Tough negotiations are part of the game, but politically-motivated trade policies only hurt the perpetrator. One great concern is whether Chinese buyers will trust American suppliers again after relations have been fractured during the Trump Administration’s trade war with China. American products might be attractive in terms of quality and price, but buyers will have to consider whether the flow of commodities will be turned on and turned off like a faucet at a political whim in the future.

Overall: If there is a Biden administration in power, China can expect a return to normalcy in the US, i.e. a government run by professionals and not by ideology. There will be an end to the demonization of China and an end to the racist attitudes towards China, the PRC, and the Chinese people.

We can assume that the Democrats will fill the vacant jobs in the US government at all levels from ambassadors to department heads and again attract dedicated professionals to government service. Finally, a Biden administration might restore some order to the chaos caused by Donald Trump personally and by his ideologue cronies.

Will things return to normal? Will Joe Biden become the next president? It would be good for US-China relations, and probably good for the world. However, if we learn anything from China’s epic novel by Lo Kuan-chung, The Romance of The Three Kingdoms, it is just this: the good guys do not always win.

Photo:Marco Verch via flickr

India’s Big Buy of American Defense Equipment: What are the Consequences?

            by David Parmer / Tokyo

Just over a month ago, on February 25, 2020, on the occasion of President Donald Trump’s visit to India, the US and India signed a massive arms deal providing India with significant upgrades in its military capabilities. The $3 billion deal centered on several different systems:

  • 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters
  • 6 Apache attack helicopters
  • NASAMS II Integrated Air Defense System
  • 30 Sea Guard Drones
  • 4 Poseidon-81 naval aircraft

The equipment, particularly the MH-60R helicopters, will enable not only enable India protect itself, but also to act in accord with the US in its Indo-Pacific strategy. These helicopters have a menu of functions, and one of the most important is its anti-submarine capability. The new helicopters will help the Indian navy to keep track of submarines operating in their area of interest, particularly Chinese submarines. 

Traditionally, India was one of Russia’s best customers, and the signs of this are everywhere, particularly in the Indian air force which has a host of legacy Russian aircraft. While the replacement of Indian fighter aircraft is not on the table, America is looking to sell it newest F-21 fighter to India.

Since 2013 Russian sales of arms to India has steadily declined while American sales during the same period have steadily increased. India still keeps its options open in purchasing defense equipment. This has been shown most clearly by its purchase of Russia’s deadly S-400 Triumph air defense system. Turkey has also ordered the S-400, as has China.  

With the purchase of modern new equipment and a role in the US Indo-Pacific strategy India is seen as gaining the upper hand in its relations with Pakistan and also with its ongoing engagement with China. India has traditionally held a non-aligned position in its international relations, but now the question seems to be this: How independent can Indian policy remain when American defense equipment and the American global defense strategy have such a big place reserved for its good friend India?

Photo: US Pacific Fleet via flickr

US Election 2020 Who’s Who – Kamala Harris.

                        by David Parmer / Tokyo

On December 3, 2019 Senator Kamala Harris dropped out of the US 2020 presidential race. Funding and low polling and organizational problems were the reasons given for this. Harris had put up a good showing, and 2020 was over for her. Or was it? Or is it?

Kamala Harris, senator from California seems to be back in the 2020 presidential mix, this time not as a possible president, but as a possible vice president.

The race for the 2020 Democratic nomination saw the fortunes of former Vice President Joe Biden take a nosedive in the early days, and then come back strong after South Carolina. From former frontrunner to frontrunner again, Biden was back! And his momentum has been carrying him forward ever since.

Biden’s rivals, like Kamala herself in December, have been dropping out of the race lately. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Amy Klobuchar are all gone, and soon it looks like Bernie Sanders will see the handwriting on the wall. Where does this leave Senator Kamala Harris? It leaves her as a top contender for Biden’s running mate as vice presidential candidate.

Harris as a prime choice for VP makes an awful lot of sense. She is smart and talented and has real government experience. Before she was a senator from California she was the state’s attorney general, i.e. the head of the state’s legal system. Before that she was a tough prosecutor.

Candidate Harris had a healthcare reform plan in place, had a record of being tough on crime was for sensible immigration but against Trump’s wall and wanted to lower middle class taxes. Nothing radical here. And that is just one thing to recommend her: her agenda was Democratic, but nothing radical.

What VP Biden brings to the 2020 race is “electability” and that is something the Senator Bernie Sanders lacks. The mainstream US media seems determined by sheer force of will to deprive Biden of the concept of “electability.” However the Democratic voters by choosing Biden over Sanders are joining the Biden camp and not the Sanders camp. It is as if the American people, if not the media, realize the absolute importance of electing a Democrat and ending the disastrous presidency of Donald Trump.

And that is why Biden is leading. Now, how does Kamala Harris figure in to all this?

Vice President Biden has two “musts.” He must show himself to be the embodiment of electability and he must unite the Democratic Party. Biden could easily do this with Kamala Harris as his running mate. While there is much excitement among the older generation over Biden, Harris would bring in women, young people, blacks and Latinos, and former Berni and Elizabeth and Pete supporters.

Will this come to pass? The odds are heavily in favor of Harris, but nothing is decided yet. Whether VP Biden has made his decision or not we don’t know. We will just have to wait and see, but one way or another Kamala Harris will be playing on the bigger stage for a long time to come.

Photo: Kamala Harris by Lorie Shaull via flickr

US Election 2020 Who’s Who – Bernie Sanders.

                      David Parmer/Tokyo

It is February 2020, and the race to be the Democratic nominee to face Donald Trump in the general election of 2020 is on. Now, the candidate leading the pack is the senator from Vermont, Bernard “Bernie” Sanders. The senator was born in 1941 making him 78 years old. This is not unusual in a field with former Vice President Joe Biden and Donald Trump himself being in their 70s. 

Senator Sanders graduated the University of Chicago in 1964 and from that time identified himself with left-leaning causes. After being a small town mayor he served in the US House of Representatives for 16 years. In 2007 he was elected to the US Senate where he serves today.

He now proudly calls himself a democratic socialist. He looks to the Nordic model of democratic socialism with high taxes and extensive benefits for all. The senator’s left-leaning positions are highly attractive to idealistic young people, particularly his positions on free university education, raising the minimum wage, protecting the environment, and dealing with global warming.

Sanders has always been an Independent, but he is now running for the nomination of the Democratic Party. The question for the Democrats is electability. Can their candidate be elected by more than a majority of the US populace, and especially in the states of Pennsylvania and Ohio? Can Sanders win against Donald Trump? Many people seem to think so. But is this reality, or thinking inside a bubble?

 Donald Trump would come out hard against the senator’s “socialism.” And in fact, he already has done so and he will continue to do so. Trump, being president, always has the spotlight and the microphone. Moreover, Trump is a ruthless and vicious infighter. Whoever faces Trump this election will be in for a bloody and dirty, tooth and nail fight. Many would argue that this is what Donald Trump does best. Could Bernie stand the test? Probably. The real question, however, is can Sanders get his message across to the majority of the American people, and convince them, against all odds, that HE is the best choice to lead the country?

It is hard to predict, but certainly Bernie Sanders will not give in or give up in this fight. Is it good for the Democrats? Is it good for the US? Let us know what you think about this.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via flickr

What Does “Impeachment” Mean?

The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
— U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 4

Impeachment is a fairly straightforward process in the United States.The US House of Representatives brings charges against the president and the US Senate holds a trial. Nothing complicated. In the history of the United States there have only been two impeachments of the president, and both were unsuccessful.

The US House of Representatives in now taking the preliminary steps in the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Trump is accused of setting up a “quid-pro-quo” (something for something) with the president of Ukraine.

Mr. Trump allegedly asked for an investigation by Ukraine into his politicalrival, Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. It is alleged that Trump told Ukraine that the US would withhold military aid until such an investigation took place.

Evidence supporting these charges is now being taken by the House. The issue is pretty much split on party lines, with Republicans defending Trump and Democrats accusing him. Many people believe that Trump may be impeached, but will not be removed from office because the Republicans control the Senate, and there will not be enough votes to convict Mr. Trump.

People around the world are watching this. What do you think? Is Mr. Trump guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” or is he the victim of his political enemies?

Please let us know your opinion.

Photo: US Constitution wikimedia

New Sheriff in Town–Gen. Mark A. Milley to Head JCS.

    “We are the people’s army” (Gen. Mark A. Milley)*

This coming October General Mark A. Milley, the current Chief of Staff of the US Army will replace General Joseph Dunford as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest military position. General Milley (61) is a career soldier with a distinguished record both academically and militarily. A graduate of Princeton University with a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University, General Milley has also attended the United States Naval War College.

General Milley’s military postings include stints at the 82nd Airborne Division and 5th Special Forces as well at the 10th Mountain Division and the 101st Airborne Division. He has also see combat action in Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

For now, it seems that the general has good chemistry with his boss, Donald Trump. During his confirmation hearing, Milley was questioned whether he could stand up to Donald Trump and tell him the truth regardless of the consequences.

When pressed at his confirmation hearing Milley replied:

“We know what this is about, and we are not going to be intimidated into making stupid decisions,” “We will give our best military advice, regardless of the consequences to ourselves.”  (Reported in Breaking Defense 11 July 2019)

At a recent event sponsored by The Atlantic Council General Milley gave his views on the future of military conflict as it relates to the US and the US Army. One point that he made in this and other recent speeches is the changes in military technology at present that will have big effects in the next conflict. He explained how after the Civil War and First World War developing technologies were emerging but missed by many decision makers. This change in military technology and the rise of urbanization will clearly create a different climate for the future of warfare.

General Milley said that the future of warfare looks to be primarily urban warfare fought in mega-cities. He says gone will be the day of the long supply tail: Troops will have to fight in a harsh environment and move frequently (even hourly) to avoid extinction. Such a battlefield that he describes will have few, if any, amenities, and it will be up the Army to train its people to be more Spartan.

On this battlefield of the future groups will be small and separated, and it is essential for junior leaders to take the initiative and lead. Junior leaders must not only follow orders, but also must question orders, and at times disobey sensibly.

Milley also said that the military must connect with the community and with other Americans. He said that the US military is a people’s army, not some elite warrior caste, and as such, it is incumbent upon the military to get to know the community and make their doings known to the public.

As for China, Milley says that China is not an enemy but rather an adversary. He added that the US wants peace rather than war. He also has said that China studied US campaigns in the Gulf Wars and learned from them.

In an ever-changing world it is good to have someone as experienced and stable giving life or death advice on military matters to Donald Trump.

* Commander’s Series Event, The Atlantic Council

Photo: US Army Europe via flickr

 

Abe to Lead G20 Summit in Osaka.

                      by David Parmer / Tokyo

On June 28 the leaders of 19 countries and the EU plus assorted invited organizations will converge on Osaka Japan for the 2019 Summit of Financial Markets and the World Economy, more commonly know as “The G20.”

Preceded and followed by a number of “satellite” ministerial meetings around the country, these leaders and guests at the Osaka venue will discuss global issues and issues related to the world economy. Topics will include:

  • Global economy
  • Trade
  • Innovation
  • Environment and Energy
  • Employment
  • Women’s empowerment
  • Development
  • Health

Host for this 14th meeting will be Japan, and point man will be her prime minister, Shinzo Abe. In his January 2019 speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Abe laid out his hopes for the June 2019 Osaka summit.

His biggest priority was data governance:

“I would like Osaka G20 to be long remembered as he summit that started world-wide data governance.”

Mr. Abe’s second point was his desire for disruptive technology to address climate change:

“In Osaka, here comes my second point, ladies and gentlemen, I would very much like to highlight what innovation does and how much innovation counts in tackling climate change, because, and this is an important “because,” we NEED disruptions.”

And finally, in the Davos speech Mr. Abe said:

“My third and last point is about Japan’s commitment. Japan is determined to preserve and committed to enhancing the free, open, and rules-based international order.”

On the official Japanese G20 website, Mr. Abe defined Japan’s further aims at the G20:

“At the Osaka Summit, Japan is determined to lead global economic growth by promoting free trade and innovation, achieving both economic growth and reduction of disparities, and contributing to the development agenda and other global issues with the SDGs at its core. Through these efforts, Japan seeks to realize and promote a free and open, inclusive and sustainable, “human-centered future society.”

In addition, we will lead discussions on the supply of global commons for realizing global growth such as quality infrastructure and global health. As the presidency, we will exert strong leadership in discussions aimed towards resolving global issues such as climate change and ocean plastic waste.

Furthermore, we will discuss how to address the digital economy from an institutional perspective and issues that arise from an aging society. We will introduce Japan’s efforts, including the productivity revolution amid a “Society 5.0” era, towards achieving a society where all individuals are actively engaged.”

Mr. Abe ended his welcome with pledge:

“With great support from you all, I am determined to lead the Osaka Summit towards great success.”

 News reports leading up to the G20 summit have been focusing on a possible Trump-Xi meeting on the sidelines to discuss the US-China trade war. This is indeed of great importance to all concerned; to the parties involved, to the region and to the world.

Having said that, Mr. Abe’s strong commitment to get things done, and important things at that, would deserve a bit more coverage and focus than say Japan’s world-renowned ometenashi hospitality and the Trump-Xi meeting.

Speech by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Davos 2019

Message by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe G20 Website

Photo: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe official photo via wikipedia