“To be sane in a world of madman is in itself madness.” -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
We have been incommunicado for awhile. This is a longer issue to compensate for being in the dark. Where to start...
The President Elect called Taiwan first. It was like 867-5309 for Taiwan:
"Taiwan, I've got your number
I need to make you mine
Taiwan don't change your number."
Evaluating the news and history boils down simplistically into two things: is the trend cyclical and going to come right back the other way in a few months to years or is this a structural change where there's no cycle of coming back unless its centuries from now and the recent past will not provide a solid understanding of what's to come next. No one knows the future but understanding cyclical from structural is fundamental to making informed judgments of the future.
After this last election, many people seem to believe that we are undergoing some major structural changes with populism, democracy, and the Anglo-American empire/order. This quote captures the change in people's point of view:
"America has always been aspirational to me. Even when I chafed at its hypocrisies, it somehow always seemed sure, a nation that knew what it was doing, refreshingly free of that anything-can-happen existential uncertainty so familiar to developing nations. But no longer. The election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue. " from the New Yorker.
First, no one knows what the future holds but at this exact point in time, I'm going to finally say it: it looks like it will be a China century. The counter argument is that they will implode like Japan's lost decade. But I don't buy it. The best argument for China not becoming a world power is civil unrest within China: that the Chinese won't tolerate it's system of government.
There was supposed to be an Asia pivot and the TPP was suppose to address/support some of this. But the U.S. in terms of national security is completely still focused on the Middle East. And has been since 9/11. This has really enabled China to really grow in terms of its international influence: softpower and influence through economic means and even military might.
The Chinese won't fight the Americans conventionally. And the Eastern way of war especially with the way the current generation of Chinese leaders think, is way too methodical and strategic, they will play the long game. Let the Russians, Syrians, and the Middle East preoccupy the United States and then before we know it the game has already been lost and China is ascendant.
From the Economist:
"Mr Xi is not just interested in commerce. In his speech to Brazil’s congress in 2014 he talked about a new “strategic partnership”. This time, says Oliver Stuenkel of Fundação Getulio Vargas, a Brazilian university, Mr Xi “will project himself as a stabiliser”, which will do no harm when many leaders are fearful about what a Trump presidency might bring.
Chinese experts on Latin America scoff at the notion that China has geopolitical interests there. But it is hard to believe that it does not welcome the idea of having friends in the United States’ historical sphere of influence to match America’s allies in East and South-East Asia. A bonus is that 12 of Taiwan’s 22 allies are in Latin America and the Caribbean. So good relations between China and the region could chip away at Taiwan’s claim to some form of independent status."
We’ve been saying China is important for some time:
When I entered West Point in 2000, there was a growing fascination about all things Chinese — the language, culture and history. The end of the Cold War had left the United States military scrambling to find a mission and direction, and China, with its economic potential and political variance with American values, seemed a possible competitor. One instructor emphatically told a group of cadets in my class that he believed we would see the advent of China as an economic and military powerhouse within our military careers.
American foreign policy for the past decade has centered on the Middle East: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran's nuclear ambitions, terrorism, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and energy concerns. But in the coming years our nation will encounter a host of global issues linked to China, whose burgeoning economic centers, possession of nuclear arms, and increased clout have already begun to impact the lives of Americans on a daily basis.
Only four months ago, Kori Schake and Jim Mattis published Warriors and Citizens. I highly recommend this book for insights into how Mattis thinks. Actually two subscribers to this newsletter (Matthew Colford and AJ Sugarman) published a chapter in that book where they provide quantitative data to the civil-military divide. Service to School is mentioned briefly in the book, and that is a nonprofit that helps veterans apply to higher education programs, and is an organization which some of the writers of this newsletter are very involved in.
If you want to quickly understand how Mattis thinks, read his essay on A New American Grand Strategy.
“The need for stronger alliances comes more sharply into focus as we shrink the military. No nation can do on its own all that is necessary for its security. Further, history reminds us that countries with allies generally defeat those without. A capable U.S. military, reinforcing our political will to lead from the front, is the bedrock on which we draw together those nations that stand with us against threats to the international order.
Our strategy must adapt to and accommodate this reality. As Churchill intimated, the only thing harder than fighting with allies is fighting without them. Congress, through the Armed Services Committee, should track closely an increased military capability to work with allies, the NATO alliance being foremost but not our sole focus. We must also enlist non-traditional partners where we have common foes or common interests.”
No entertainment to report for this issue. Isn't real news and fake news entertaining enough? Word on the street is that Sarah Palin is being considered head of the VA. OMG. LOLZ. But in all seriousness nothing is OMG and LOL anymore because anything can happen.
Speaking of fake news, Neil Devani, one of this newsletter's subscribers recently penned a thoughtful piece about why Fake News matters. We aren't trying to pat ourselves on the shoulders but we have a pretty impressive list of readers. Please share this newsletter (http://www.themilvet.com/) with others so we can have some more cool people to name drop. :)
-From the National Geographic: Sparta! Spartans! Bred for Battle!
-From New Republic: Shit they burned in Afghanistan and Iraq wasn’t good for the troops. No shit, please also reference the following piece we wrote about this issue in the NYT.
-A profile on Michael Flynn by the New Yorker.
Song for the day
"I can't believe the news today
Oh, I can't close my eyes
And make it go away
Broken bottles under children's feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won't heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall"
- Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2
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