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 on: May 21, 2020, 09:14:58 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

 on: May 21, 2020, 11:13:56 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post…

The post-American world is now on full display

The United States has left behind any ambition of global leadership and any function as a global inspiration.

By CARL BILDT | 4:22PM EDT — Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The World Health Assembly, conducted mostly virtually, in Geneva on Tuesday. — Photograph: Christopher Black/WHO/via Reuters.
The World Health Assembly, conducted mostly virtually, in Geneva on Tuesday. — Photograph: Christopher Black/WHO/via Reuters.

THE annual meeting of the World Health Assembly — the general assembly of the World Health Organization — is normally not something that attracts major attention outside the circle of those directly concerned.

But the meeting this week was very different. Here, the post-American world was on full display as it has seldom been seen before. It is not that the United States has ceased to exist — far from it. But it has left behind any ambition of global leadership and any function as a global inspiration.

And that is very new. Tragically so.

The first prominent speaker on the virtual meeting, with audience members throughout the world, was Chinese President Xi Jinping. It was a polished, confident and probably effective performance. His speech contained four messages: China has mastered the crisis and has put it behind itself; China is ready to help the rest of the world, notably Africa; China stands for transparency, including a review on what happened once we all have put the crisis begin us; and a vaccine has to be seen as a global public good available to all.

Then, from Europe, there was France's Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Angela Merkel with messages of strong support for global cooperation in fighting the virus, notably through the WHO. They also spoke about the vaccine that everyone is hoping for as a global public good.

And it was the European Union that carefully maneuvered the diplomatic work needed to get a global consensus around a resolution calling for a comprehensive review into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Its draft evolved in such a way that it was co-sponsored by a large number of other nations.

The idea of some sort of review of what really happened in China — and elsewhere — as the virus first appeared was first aired by Australia some weeks ago and, at the time, led to an angry response from Beijing.

But the E.U. managed to get language on such a review into the resolution, and it was then co-sponsored by Australia. The language, obviously somewhat more diplomatic than the campaign rhetoric we hear from the White House, evidently satisfied the original Australian wish.

China knew where things were heading. Keen to show itself as a responsible stakeholder in the landscape of global health cooperation, it folded on the objections it might have had and accepted the review requirements of the resolution.

It took four hours or so of speeches by ministers from around the world before the United States made its presence felt. Until then, the United States hadn't even been mentioned. But the U.S. tone, via a speech by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, was markedly different from the other speeches, and only fueled the impression that the United States was far more interested in fighting China than fighting the virus. On the issue of Taiwan's participation in the assembly, it has a point — and support from countries that were once often referred to as its allies. But there was an understanding among others that shared this opinion that the issue could be deferred.

Simultaneously, outside the World Health Assembly, the Trump administration launched a barrage of accusations against China and the WHO, culminating with the president's threat to leave the organization entirely within a month. That would be a true tragedy for everyone concerned. But it has to be said that, for anyone following the discussions at the World Health Assembly, it sounded as though it had already happened.

This was the post-American world on display: China assertive and confident. Europe trying to save what can be saved of global cooperation. And the Trump administration mostly outside firing its heavy artillery in all directions, but with limited actual results.

In the end, the United States had to accept that the resolution drafted under E.U. leadership was adopted by consensus. Rarely has the United States been as marginalized at a major diplomatic gathering. A world used to American leadership — for good, according to many, for bad, according to some — had to move on with the urgent issues of fighting the virus.


Carl Bildt is a former prime minister of Sweden and a contributing columnist for The Washington Post.


Related to this topic:

 • Full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

 • The Washington Post's View: China agreed to a global WHO review. Where was Trump?

 • Dana Milbank: Trump's attempt to frame the WHO only shows his failure to act

 • Michael Merson: Cutting U.S. funding to the WHO is unjustified and dangerous

 • John Pomfret: Taiwan must join the WHO. Global health is too important to play politics.

 • Carl Bildt: The coronavirus is another test for Europe. Working together will be key.


 on: May 20, 2020, 09:22:17 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

 on: May 19, 2020, 09:27:22 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

 on: May 18, 2020, 09:52:01 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

 on: May 17, 2020, 09:58:16 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

Ooooooh, look … here's America's stupid “fake president” aka “emperor with no clothes” … funny, eh?

 on: May 16, 2020, 09:45:45 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

 on: May 15, 2020, 09:37:24 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

 on: May 14, 2020, 10:13:04 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

 on: May 13, 2020, 11:19:12 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post…

Think we have military primacy over China? Think again.

A new book lays down some hard truths about our defense systems.

By DAVID IGNATIUS | 8:01PM EDT — Tuesday, May 12, 2020

An aerial view of the Pentagon in October 2018. — Photograph: Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
An aerial view of the Pentagon in October 2018. — Photograph: Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

HERE'S A FACT that ought to startle every American who assumes that because we spend nearly $1 trillion each year on defense, we have primacy over our emerging rival, China.

“Over the past decade, in U.S. war games against China, the United States has a nearly perfect record: We have lost almost every single time.”

That's a quote from a new book called The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare, the most provocative critique of U.S. defense policy I've read in years. It's written by Christian Brose, former staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a close adviser to late senator John McCain (Republican-Arizona). The book isn't just a wake-up call, it's a fire alarm in the night.

Brose explains a terrible truth about war with China: Our spy and communications satellites would immediately be disabled; our forward bases in Guam and Japan would be “inundated” by precise missiles; our aircraft carriers would have to sail away from China to escape attack; our F-35 fighter jets couldn't reach their targets because the refueling tankers they need would be shot down.

“Many U.S. forces would be rendered deaf, dumb and blind,” writes Brose. We have become so vulnerable, he argues because we've lost sight of the essential requirement of military power — the “kill chain” of his title — which means seeing threats and taking quick, decisive action to stop them.

How did this happen? It wasn't an intelligence failure, or a malign Pentagon and Congress, or lack of money, or insufficient technological prowess. No, it was simply bureaucratic inertia compounded by entrenched interests. The Pentagon is good at doing what it did yesterday, and Congress insists on precisely that. We have been so busy buffing our legacy systems that, as Brose writes, “the United States got ambushed by the future.”

We should reflect on America's vulnerability now, when the world is on lockdown and we have a chance to reassess. A new world will emerge after the global coronavirus pandemic, one in which China is clearly determined to challenge the United States as a global power. The propaganda wars over the origin of the novel virus that causes covid-19 are just a warm-up for the tests that are ahead.

China's military isn't focused on projecting power, as ours is, but instead on preventing U.S. domination. Rather than match our fleets of carriers and squadrons of jets around the world, Beijing developed precision weapons to prevent the United States from mobilizing these forces. An example is the DF-21, the world's first ballistic anti-ship missile, which Brose says is known as “the carrier killer”.

The Pentagon wants to confront the Chinese challenge, but it insists on keeping the same vulnerable, wildly expensive platforms at the center of the United States' military power. And Congress demands adherence to this status quo. When then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and then-Navy Secretary Richard Spencer tried to retire an aircraft carrier in 2019, Congress refused. Expensive fighter jets have a lobby, too. As Brose notes: “There is a reason why parts of the F-35 are built in every state in America…. It is political expediency.”

When the Pentagon tries to innovate, it's too hidebound to maneuver and adapt. A classic example is the Army's $18 billion misadventure known as “Future Combat Systems,” which was supposed to coordinate modern weapons but turned out to be less agile than a Sony PlayStation.

Brose argues that it's time for a radical rethink. Rather than building weapons for an outmoded strategy of projecting power, we should instead be arming ourselves in an effort to “deny China military dominance.” That means many cheap, autonomous weapons at the edge of the perimeter, rather than a few exquisite ones that are vulnerable to attack.

These smart systems exist: The Air Force's unmanned XQ-58A, known as the “Valkyrie”, is nearly as capable as a fighter but costs about 45 times less than an F-35; the Navy's Extra-Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle, known as the Orca, is 300 times less costly than a $3.2 billion Virginia-class attack submarine. But these robots don't have a lobby to rival the giant defense contractors.

Brose envisions a military version of the “Internet of things” — smart systems at the outer edges of our defenses which can blunt China's dominance without breaking the budget or risking all-or-nothing confrontations. “We have the money, the technological base, and the human talent,” he writes. What we lack is the will to change.

The question for Americans to ponder, in Brose's simple formulation, is “how the future can win”. We have a window of time now, thanks to our enforced lockdown, to do some creative thinking about defense. It would be foolish to enter a new, post-pandemic world with the same old hardware.


David Ignatius writes a twice-a-week foreign affairs column for The Washington Post and contributes to the PostPartisan blog. Ignatius has also written eight spy novels: Bloodmoney (2011), The Increment (2009), Body of Lies (2007), The Sun King (1999), A Firing Offense (1997), The Bank of Fear (1994), SIRO: A Novel (1991), and Agents of Innocence (1987). Body of Lies was made into a 2008 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. Ignatius joined The Washington Post in 1986 as editor of its Sunday Outlook section. In 1990 he became foreign editor, and in 1993, assistant managing editor for business news. He began writing his column in 1998 and continued even during a three-year stint as executive editor of the International Herald Tribune in Paris. Earlier in his career, Ignatius was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering at various times the steel industry, the Justice Department, the CIA, the Senate, the Middle East and the State Department. His numerous honours and awards include the 2000 Gerald Loeb Award for Commentary; the 2004 Edward Weintal Prize; the 2010 Urbino International Press Award; the 2013 Overseas Press Club Award for Foreign Affairs Commentary; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Committee for Foreign Journalists; a Legion D'Honneur awarded by the French government; and as The Washington Post's foreign editor, Ignatius supervised the paper's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwai. David Ignatius grew up in Washington, D.C., and studied political theory at Harvard College and economics at Kings College, Cambridge. His numerous He lives in Washington with his wife and has three daughters.


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