Friday 9th of June 2023

AUKUS to become AUSJAPINDUKUS… while China becomes... China…


Gus: The French would read AUSJAPINDUKUS with a sarcasm beyond a Voltairian laugther tells me my friend, Jules Letambour. The sounds as you say them aloud ARE RUDE.


Expanded US co-operation with its partners is causing China “heartburn,” the White House Indo-Pacific coordinator says.

Kurt Campbell said the Quad group — made up of the United States, India, Japan and Australia — aimed to expand co-operation and that Japan had agreed to host a meeting of the group in 2022.

Speaking to the US Institute of Peace think tank, Mr Campbell also said the so-called AUKUS pact, under which the United States and United Kingdom have agreed to help Australia acquire nuclear submarines, was one of “open architecture” that he expected other countries, in Asian and Europe, would participate with over time.


Mr Campbell called AUKUS a response to China’s military build-up, which he termed one of the largest in modern times, and pointed to both India and Vietnam as “critical” partners for future US regional strategy.

He acknowledged the need for greater US economic involvement with Asia and said it would be focused on technology, especially artificial intelligence, and a series of “mini-lateral” and multilateral engagements.

Mr Campbell said that in the virtual meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden this week, the Chinese leader had made “very clear that a number of things that the United States is doing cause China some heartburn”.

“I think at the top of that list is our bilateral reinforcing and revitalising our bilateral security alliances… President Xi made clear that those from the Chinese perspective represent what they would describe as Cold War thinking.”

Mr Campbell said the meeting with Mr Xi was intended as an “initial conversation” but did not say when another might take place.

The United States has been concerned about China’s build-up of its nuclear and missile capabilities and has been eager to persuade officials in Beijing to engage in arms control talks.

Mr Campbell said that after the virtual meeting the two sides were at the “earliest possible stages” of such a discussion.

“It would be fair to say that President Xi indicated that they would, at least, engage in that discussion. They would sort of identify potentially who the right people would be for that kind of discussion, and that would involve people on the military side, perhaps in other parts of our governments, as well.”


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FREEJULIANASSANGENOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Vietnamese capital city of Hanoi – home to over 8 million people – saw the opening of its first ever metro line. The line was financed and built by China and features rolling stock from China’s state-owned CRRC.

The metro was under construction starting in 2011 and was the target of criticism particularly in the West for being behind schedule and over budget.

Yet upon opening, residents of Hanoi clamored to be the first to ride the city’s new mass transit system.

The project’s completion might take some by surprise, particularly if they follow Western media and believe Vietnam is an adversary of China or that the Southeast Asian state, once the target of a vicious two decades-long war waged against it by the United States, is now joined together with Washington in their common purpose of “standing up” to China.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The notion that China is a regional “bully” evaporates with the slightest breeze of truth, and all that’s left is the fact that Vietnam and China – despite their many differences – are building a constructive future together.

Vietnam and China Are Closer Than You Might Think

Hanoi’s metro system is not the first Chinese rail-related project Vietnam has benefited from.

Also very recently, China completed a tunnel as part of a high-speed rail line that will help connect China to ASEAN via Vietnam. This is in addition to another line recently completed running through landlocked Laos.

China’s Global Times in an article titled, “China’s first high-speed railway connecting port bordering Vietnam cuts through all tunnels,” would report:

Constructions for a high-speed railway in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region that would allow Chinese high-speed trains to reach the China-Vietnam border have made major progress, as all the tunnels have been drilled through.

Once completed, the railway, which connects cities of Fangchenggang and Dongxing located at the China-Vietnam border, will play a major role in railway connectivity between China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

This is in addition to efforts earlier this year leading to the first shipments from Vietnam making use of the China-Europe freight railway. Europe is the third largest region for Vietnamese exports and additional freight services to bring goods to European markets helps expand Vietnam’s economy.

It is China through its Belt and Road Initiative and its cooperation with neighboring nations like Vietnam that is making this possible.

In terms of trade, China not only helps facilitate the movement of Vietnamese goods globally, China itself is also Vietnam’s largest export market.

Despite the sometimes heated political rhetoric emanating from certain circles within Vietnamese society aimed toward China, the country like so many others in Southeast Asia counts China as a key trading partner, an indispensable partner in not only building complex infrastructure projects, but also increasingly in terms of financing these projects.

Is China Really a Regional “Bully?”

Earlier this year when US Vice President Kamala Harris made her historic trip to Vietnam, she would – according to CNBC – claim:

We need to find ways to pressure and raise the pressure, frankly, on Beijing to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to challenge its bullying and excessive maritime claims. 

Depicting China as a regional “bully” has been a central pillar in Washington’s propaganda war against China and one of several reasons the US uses to justify its ongoing military presence in not only the South China Sea specifically, but in the Indo-Pacific region in general.

Through synergies with other propaganda spread by Washington against China, the world is being divided into those falling for these claims, and those who are aware these are merely claims, made amid an unprecedented struggle by the West to maintain hegemony over a world soon to shift its center of power to the East.

Harris’ attempt to recruit Vietnam in “pressuring” Beijing – keeping in mind China and Vietnam’s trade and ongoing infrastructure cooperation – was done in vain.

At the same time Vice President Harris made her comments, the government of Vietnam had already met with its Chinese counterparts to assure them the two nations sought amicable relations and that Harris’ visit would not/did not alter Vietnam’s position.

Despite all of these facts, the mantra of China “bullying” the rest of Asia continues to be repeated across the Western media and within the halls of power in Washington, London, and now Canberra.

The assembly of the “AUKUS” alliance – composed of nations clearly either on the fringes of the Indo-Pacific or entirely on the other side of the planet from it – is a clear reflection of just how little sense it makes to claim China is “bullying” the rest of Asia. Were China truly a bully and a threat to the region, AUKUS would have had many more members lining up to join. It does not. The reality is that the United States – because of its irrational fixation with encircling and containing China – poses the only actual threat to peace and prosperity in the region.

Harris in August came to Vietnam attempting to sell the United States as a security guarantor for a threat that does not exist, COVID assistance that amounted to a political token, and discussions about US-Vietnamese trade. Of these three issues, only the latter is of real interest for Vietnam with the US as Vietnam’s second largest export market after China.

Vietnam has attempted to use Washington’s desperation to cling to regional hegemony in order to carve out for itself the best possible terms in dealing with both Washington and Beijing, all while trying to maintain access to US markets. Beyond this, it is clear Vietnam has no interest in actually joining the US in its self-engineered confrontation with Beijing.

Looking at the progress China and Vietnam are making in terms of trade, infrastructure, and cooperation benefiting greatly from China’s proximity to Vietnam – does the US through its current approach in the Indo-Pacific region believe five years or even a decade into the future its influence will be greater or further diminished?

It seems very obvious that Washington’s pursuit of hegemony is a historical cul-de-sac, and until the US shifts to a more realistic and constructive role among all other nations rather than above them, the US has no viable future in the Indo-Pacific or anywhere else upon the global stage.



Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


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the military hates being idle...

After twenty years and $2 trillion wasted in Afghanistan, a humiliating destabilization of Iraq that spread throughout the region, hubristic military intervention in Libya, and a failed humanitarian intervention in Somalia, among other failures, have we learned nothing?

For our ever powerful but never accountable elite military brass, the answer is a resounding no. Last Thursday, James Stavridis, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO who has gone on to become chairman of the board of the Rockefeller Foundation and vice chairman of Global Affairs at the Carlyle Group, wrote an opinion for Bloomberg in which he argued for U.S. intervention in Ethiopia’s burgeoning civil war. 


At the outset, Stavridis acknowledged that his mostly American audience probably doesn’t know much about Ethiopia. Thankfully, he’s here to educate us. Ethiopia, Stavridis says, matters to the United States because it’s big, “more than 1.5 times the size of Texas,” and populous, with a population of about 115 million. 

No, Ethiopia doesn’t have a major strategic port, or controls access to waterways vital to U.S. supply chains—it’s a completely landlocked country. Nor does it have vast reserves of rare earths, natural gas, or other precious metals, which some use to justify further U.S. involvement and investment in other African countries. Its importance, according to Stavridis, is political, as Addis Ababa is the seat of the African Union and home base for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Because of its political import, destabilization in Ethiopia can have downstream destabilization effects in other countries. The solution, Stavridis claims, is to send U.S. and allied troops in to ensure Ethiopia’s growing civil conflict stays contained in the region of Tigray.

Yet again I ask: have we learned nothing?

To a certain extent, a stable North Africa is important to the United States because it borders the Red Sea, which leads to the Suez Canal that connects the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. As we learned when a ship that got lodged in the Suez canal for about a week earlier this year, disruptions to shipping lanes in the region can have a profound impact on how Americans get some of their necessities. Of course, the United States should certainly be looking for creative policies to re-shore supply chains within our borders so our access to basic goods and other necessities aren’t susceptible to external shocks, whether its a wayward ship or political instability in the horn of Africa. This project will be long, but well worth it, especially since it’ll mean arguments like those forwarded by Stavridis will no longer be in vogue. 

The idea that U.S. troops will be able to successfully stabilize the conflict broiling in Ethiopia, a conflict born of ethnic divisions among the country’s three largest tribal groups, is ignorant of America’s previous experience in dealing with similar affairs in the MENA region. Take our intervention in Libya, which sought to oust Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi for human rights abuses perpetrated in the first Libyan Civil War, for example. American forces, along with its NATO partners, were successful in that mission. As then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton boasted, “We came, we saw, he died,” in her spin on Julius Caesar’s famous phrase.

However, has Libya been better off since Gaddafi’s gruesome death was basically televised for western audiences? No. Libya quickly fell into a second civil war. The country is widely recognized by scholars as a failed state, and remains a hotbed of terrorist and extremist activity where human rights abuses abound.

Stavridis attempts to pull at his audience’s heartstrings, invoking the West’s failure to intervene in the tragedy of Rwanda to justify U.S. intervention now in Ethiopia as some sort of reparations for historical misdeeds on the part of the United States. While Stavridis makes an emotional plea for America to get involved, the former supreme allied commander of NATO is relatively light on suggestions on how the United States should go about doing so. He seems encouraged by international efforts to negotiate a ceasefire between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the sitting government in Addis Ababa, but if the U.S. were to interject, would it be on the side of the government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a former Nobel Peace Prize laureate who has launched attacks on the TPLF and speaks of the conflict “in tones threatening ethnic cleansing,” according to TIME? Would we intervene on behalf of the rebels, and advocate for some kind of agreement in which the Tigray gets political autonomy—although it’s unlikely either side accepts such an agreement? In a report published earlier this month by the U.N. says both sides are guilty of brutal human rights abuses that could amount to war crimes, so which side are we on? Stavridis makes little attempt to clarify. Maybe he should do the bare minimum by figuring out which side we’re on before suggesting sending America’s sons and daughters into another country half-a-world away.



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