Russian-built Vietnamese warships. What will China say?

After all, China-Russia relations are at a high. Successful summits, kindered spirits over Snowden and Syria. But now it’s revealed that Russia is supplying ships for the Vietnamese navy to defend their territory against China.

Beijing has numerous disputes with its neighbors. In such a charged environment, it’s interesting that Russia is aiding the regional thorn in China’s side. The reality is that Russia’s economy under Putin is sinking fast, and Moscow needs whatever trade it can get.

China, NSA, Petrobras, Snowden, Greeenwald, Proof

So Brazil says the NSA mention of Petrobras shows the US is spying for economic gain – which is what the US accuses China of. Whether that is true or not will affect the trajectory of US-China cyber relations.

Says James Clapper:

“What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” he said.

To prove Clapper is lying Greenwald would have to show a pretty obvious dotted line from the NSA to US oil companies, or at least US hedge funds. Otherwise, it’s entirely possible the US is spying on foreign companies but for the same reason the CIA tracks economic growth of nations around the world – simply to get a fuller picture of the world. You can learn a lot about a country’s politics by looking at its business and economics.

G20? more like G-Zero on Syria

A piece by Ian Bremmer that makes the point that lack of action on Syria shows shifting world order.

He concludes:

This G-Zero problem will not last forever. Eventually, the political wildfires that are allowed to burn out of control will threaten enough powerful countries to force a certain level of cooperation. Unfortunately for Syrians, their suffering alone will not be enough.


Which unfortunately for the long-suffering Syrian people, means the US should not weaken itself by getting involved. The US should conserve its energy and look inward to rebuild.

Why Obama sent the Syria question to congress

Obama doesn’t want to launch a missile strike on Syria – he just can’t say so. But there is the Party of No in full bloom over in Congress. Send the issue to them, let them say no, then Obama has political cover to turn to the world and say ruefully, “The people have spoken and I must respect their wish.”

Besides, the Republicans who have had a field-day with Bengazi (or at least tried to) need to start wear a little of the bad PR linked to Syria.

Further, if it divides the Republicans, exposing the chasm behind the interventionists and the isolationists, all the better. This is part of the identity crisis that the Republicans face. And Rand, while he will score short-term points, will still look too radical come 2016. People know the rise of libertarian right has coincided with more misery for the middle-class, and that includes middle-class Republicans and independents.

On the surface, if Obama accepts a congressional ‘no’ on Syria, this will make Obama look weak. But as time moves on, he’ll be able to re-route the blame over to the GOP which is already in a much more dire state of disarray than the the Dems going into 2014. We’ll see. Moreover, avoiding another US military disaster is a greater feather in his cap (and a better legacy and direction for the US) than driving the country into another ditch so he can look like a strongman to the world for a few hours.

If I am right about Obama’s motives, it would be one of the most politically savvy moves of modern politics.