Thursday, 03 December 2020
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Defence 'against external threats' is not only about classical defence but preserving western civilisation in the long term- over a span of a century or more. Europeans have failed to see the big picture - which is prerequisite to understanding what the plot is, writes David Heilbron Price. The potential rupture of UK and Continental European defence efforts is just one tear in the larger canvas. Who gains if UK and EU do not patch things up? Europe is presently war-wounded and in the sick bed. It is overspending trillions of Euros that will affect its future for a generation or more.

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The attitudes and beliefs of the Russian establishment are not hard to understand, at least for anyone with a minimal grasp of Russian history and culture. Moreover, the realism of Russian policymakers fits the mindset of many American security officials, writes Anatol Lieven.
The vital interests of Russia are adhered to by the Russian establishment as a whole. They consist chiefly of a belief that Russia must be one pole of a multipolar world — not a superpower, but a great power with real international influence. Also: that Russia must retain predominant influence on the territory of the former Soviet Union, that any rival alliance must be excluded, and that international order depends on the preservation of existing states. In addition, as with any political system, there is a commitment to the existing Russian political order and a determination that any change in it must not be directed from outside.
There are obvious tensions between some of these Russian interests and secondary U.S. interests, but on one issue — the danger from Sunni Islamist extremism and terrorism — a vital interest of Russia is completely identical with our own. Because of this danger, U.S. administrations, like the Russians, have often supported existing authoritarian Muslim states for fear that their overthrow would lead to chaos and the triumph of Islamist extremism.

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As we all know, by a relatively small margin and with a simple majority of those voting, the United Kingdom decided in 2016 to leave the European Union, writes Robert Walter. Two parliamentary elections and three prime ministers later, the UK finally withdrew from the EU on 31st January this year.

But Brexit is not done yet, because we are in the "transition period" and still trying to determine the nature of the future relationship. Most of the discussions have centred around the concept of a "level playing field" with the very real complications of Northern Ireland and the desire of what is now a third country seeking to minimise the disruption to existing trade patterns. The UK has appeared to want to "have its cake", freeing itself from the EU, "and eating it", retaining access to the single market.

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USA00000IMG 00000 BURST20190107130637518 COVERAs China's economic power grew in the 21st Century so did her geopolitical ambitions. But Beijing overreached. And this will have significant consequences for the future of China, says Joseph E Fallon.

By investing between one and eight trillion dollars in the "One Belt, One Road" Initiative (OBOR, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative, BRI), Beijing sought to elevate China to the world's leading economy by financing land and sea projects, such as airports, pipelines, roads, railroads, sea ports, and shipping lanes, to link the infrastructures and economies of Asia, Africa, and Europe to China.

Beijing has focused especially on building or buying interest in ports. In "China's Trojan Ports", The American Interest, November 19, 2018, John Lee wrote: "It is estimated that state-backed Chinese investors state own at least 10 percent of all equity in ports in Europe, with deals inked in Greece, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium...[including]...a 35 percent stake in the Euromax terminal at Rotterdam, a 20 percent stake in the Port of Antwerp (Europe's two busiest ports)...This is in addition to a growing investment portfolio of at least 40 ports in North and South America, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia, Australia and the Pacific."

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Noel-Hadjimichael-webIn the same week that France was dealing with the Nice Basilica terror killings and UK Labour suspended Jeremy Corbyn in the wake of the EHRC report findings, an important and insightful paper by Britain's leading defence think tank could have been missed. The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) published a paper by its Deputy Director General Professor Malcolm Chalmers. The paper offers a sharp and sensible summary of the implications arising from the deferral of the original timetable for a comprehensive spending review.
The tag line A Reckoning Postponed is indeed powerful, comments Noel Hadjimichael.
Professor Chalmers spares the reader no illusions that the UK government's decision carries no serious implications for planners, leaders or strategists.

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Noel-Hadjimichael-webFounded after the turmoil and devastation of the Second World War, as part of the initial United Nations response to immediate need, the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) and its many dedicated professionals represent a continuation of the League of Nations and its innovative health commission, writes Noel Hadjimichael.

It is a thought leader and a persuader. But the politics, self-interest and ego of the member states of the UN have plagued the work, focus and integrity of its narrative.
Too easily it has been sidelined by notions of collaboration, coalition building and outright collapse of moral authority in the face of geopolitics. Physician heal thyself could not be more relevant now as we tackle a pandemic of immense impact and worrying resilience.
The novel coronavirus — which, after originating in China, has gone on to wreak havoc around the planet partly because of Beijing's failure to promptly share all the information it had about the initial outbreak — is changing the way the world looks at China.

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Olivier GuittaDuring his French presidential campaign in 2017, then candidate Emmanuel Macron had promised that if elected he would tackle the fight against Islamism in his first 100 days in office. It took him actually three and a half years to deliver a landmark speech and a plan to deal with that thorny issue. While Macron said all the right things, including calling a spade a spade, the measures are not going far enough and some are likely not to be implemented, wrote Olivier Guitta in the Levant News.

President Macron wants to defend secularism against Islamist separatism and his government will present a law by the end of the year. That law will supposedly allow the dissolution of religious groups that 'attack the dignity of people, using psychological or physical pressure, and break the values of France'. Macron insisted 'no concessions' would be made in a new drive to push religion out of education and the public sector. An important measure is to stop foreign imams from coming to France: about 300 imams come each year from Turkey, Algeria, Morocco to preach in French mosques. Macron emphasized that it was necessary to 'liberate Islam in France from foreign influences,' naming countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. He announced that all French imams will be trained in France and would have to be certified from now on and could be kicked out at any time. In the past, the school that was training imams was controlled by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

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DominiqueIMG-20201015-WA0021Recently, an article appeared in the New York Times discussing the American 'policy of maximum pressure' on Iran, reports Dominique Ankone. This policy entails financial sanctions re-imposed on Iran by the U.S. government after their formal withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal. The author bases his article on the remarks of an officer of the Israeli army. The US strategy has resulted in discontent among the Iranians, according to the officer cited in the article. About the economic sanctions he is quoted to have said: "It has made it clear [within Iran] that there's a thin dictatorial layer, covering [big] resentment from a society who want to live and educate themselves. Given time, the economic pressure can topple the regime." According to the author, the policy is 'fueling a sense of grievance among a restive people'. Is a new Iranian Revolution possible, and why might it be thinkable?.

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memorial2 nWe mark the passing on the next page of those who served this country particularly in conflicts. Contributions from comrades and families welcome - write to the editor This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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