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Tags: Afghanistan | China | Russia

US Stumbles in Superpower Status

Arnaud de Borchgrave By Monday, 24 November 2014 01:50 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Global disarray coupled with the decline of superpower U.S. are flip sides of the same coin. The Republican victory in the mid-term elections was not a resounding triumph for internationalism coupled with U.S. defense superiority.

A dysfunctional Congress, where many of the new Republicans are neo-isolationists who give priority to rebuilding America’s decaying infrastructure, and an isolated President, are not the ingredients for global engagement.

U.S. credibility in Beijing and Moscow has declined dramatically, hence the current rapprochement of Russia and China. This perception is bound to gather more traction in the wake of Afghanistan.

What happens after the U.S. winds down its presence in Afghanistan at year’s end is still an unknown. But the omens are not favorable after 13 years of military and economic engagement by the U.S. — and 41 other nations.

It was an unnecessary conflict as Taliban leader Mullah Omar was already having a falling out with his friend Osama Bin Laden over abuse of hospitality. It became obvious in an interview this columnist and a Pakistani American colleague, Ammar Turabi, conducted with Mullah Omar in Kandahar three months before 9/11.

China is on track to become the dominant foreign power in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the U.S. and its allies. China is also growing fast as a coming global superpower — from Asia to Africa to Latin America. It recently launched its first home-designed and built aircraft carrier.

The China/Russia rapprochement did not start following the recent US/China accord on reversing poisonous carbon emissions in the atmosphere. The U.S. committed to cut them by 26 percent to 2005 levels by 2025, accelerating existing goals by 17 percent. In return, China is not required to do anything significant until 2030. In short, an inconsequential climate agreement.

Russia and China have quietly agreed to boost military and economic ties, including a major Sino-Russian energy deal, a long-range bet on Vladimir Putin and Russia’s gas. The U.S., given its dysfunctional system of government, projects the image of the decline of the post-World War II superpower.

Since 2009, China’s naval vessels have made port calls in Bulgaria, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Australia, Tanzania, and Nigeria; transiting the Suez Canal, the Cape of Good Hope, the Bosporus, Panama Canal, and the Strait of Magellan.

China now has the second largest oceangoing resupply fleet in the world, according to Stratfor. Beijing also contributes 3,000 blue helmet peacekeepers to U.N. operations all over the world, which is more than the other four permanent members of the U.S. Security Council.

China is now the world’s largest shipbuilder with the third largest merchant marine — and the largest number of vessels flying its own flag. It accounts for a quarter of the world’s container trade. Almost all the steel boxes shipped on the world’s oceans are made in China. The emerging superpower also has a 695,000-strong fishing fleet.

Until now the rules of the Pacific Ocean are made in the U.S. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) is a U.S. construct. U.S. Navy vessels cruise up and down China’s 14,500 kilometer (900 mile) coastline. How long before China’s warships appear outside territorial waters off the coast of California is anyone’s guess.

China has plenty of cash which it is using to push the U.S. out of East Asia and demonstrate that the U.S. pivot to Asia is a pivot to nowhere. And that President Obama cannot compete in ready cash.

The Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Browne documents “China’s recent largesse — a $40 billion Silk Road fund to build ports and industrial parks along new trade routes to Europe; $20 billion in loans to Southeast Asia; $8 billion for investments in Burm . . . China is also expected to pay the bulk of an initial $50 billion for a Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and will be a major contributor to a $100 billion development bank set up by five BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa – to be based in Shanghai.” China’s supremo Xi Jinping has only been in power for two years.

Russia and China are also setting up a regional collective security system. They are now scheduled to hold joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean next spring. Facing fresh sanctions from the West over Ukraine, Putin is demonstrating he has an ace in the hole — China — and that he is not isolated as seen by the Western powers.

Russia is also expected to sweeten the geopolitical pot by selling China what it has long requested — it’s most advanced military technology, including jet engines.

Seldom mentioned is that Russia, following its defeat in the Cold War, immediately turned FAPSI (its NSA) into a command post for cyber warfare. China followed suit in in 1995. The U.S. didn’t counter with its own cyber command until 2008.

Daily now we are the target of cyber-attacks coming from untraceable locations around the world. Last summer J.P. Morgan Chase lost the confidential protection of tens of millions of personal accounts and small businesses.

The lesson is that national sovereignty doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in cyberspace. A transnational cyber command is an obvious first defense. This does not even exist in the European Union — let alone the United States.

Noted editor and journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave is an editor at large for United Press International. He is a founding board member of Newsmax.com who now serves on Newsmax's Advisory Board. Read more reports from Arnaud de Borchgrave — Click Here Now.

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The U.S., given its dysfunctional system of government, projects the image of the decline of the post-World War II superpower.
Afghanistan, China, Russia
Monday, 24 November 2014 01:50 PM
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