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Lebanon: The Syria Playbook

In Defense, FYI - For Your Intelligence, Intelligence, International, International Trade, Israel, Libya, Terrorism, Uncategorized on December 29, 2013 at 4:37 am

LebSyrFlagWith Assad continuing to make his stand against Western backed forces and various jihad extremist groups in Syria, he has pulled an old play out of the go-to playbook for his regime. He has elected to use his faithful ally Hezbollah to open a new front. As Syria continues to sink into its current battlefield quagmire at home, taking out another high level politician in Beirut expands the scope of his operations, and provides relief through distraction. And with the assassination of the Hezbollah leader earlier this month, it all comes across as a justification on the part of Hezbollah. But make no mistake, this is the same MO as with previous assassinations and it will have Syria’s prints all over it.

The real issue is how US foreign policy is allowing for the war to spread, the empowerment of extremist groups to grow and for old and new terrorism breeding grounds to flourish. Libya and Syria are key examples, and indicators are that Iraq is beginning to follow suit. Here’s what the international media is reporting to support this.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/mohamad-chatah-lebanese-ex-minister-killed-in-beirut-bombing-1.2476861

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303799404579283692798835878

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/175614#.Ur6ZlrRfu_g

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304451904579237323053994120

OIL: China Demand Creating A New Paradigm

In Uncategorized on December 26, 2013 at 6:07 am

 

China Oil and GasWith China oil demand increasing at a profound rate and new sources of oil production in the North America and Southeast Asia, we are seeing a shift in oil markets that are changing the old Middle East, OPEC driven model.  As China attempts to quench its voracious appetite for crude, many of these new oil projects find themselves in a good position of not only servicing internal consumption, but selling into internal markets driven by the big red tide.  We are seeing markets and pricing taking on stronger, regional controls but with growing international markets still in their sights.  Here is some recent media that lay out a case for new short-term and long-term developments and how as a result, we are seeing the dividing of oil markets that will change how local and international demand is met, a shift how international security is viewed and drive influence on pricing.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-23/top-oil-market-news-u-s-gasoline-prices-decline-at-the-pump.html

http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2013/october/name,43501,en.html

http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/12/03/markets-oil-idINDEE9B201220131203

Survey: 23 Million Chinese say they are Christians – Estimates much higher

In China, International Relations, PLA, Uncategorized on August 20, 2010 at 10:47 pm

23 Million Christians in China

For a country where free thinkers rule, Christianity is having a second wind in shaping China’s social landscape (technically the Jesuits and then Roman Catholicism came first). Missionaries have been in China since the last epochs of the last two Chinese dynasties. Through a recent conversation with a friend from Hebei and now currently based in Melbourne, she revealed, “We are taught in primary school that there is no God. Only we can help ourselves.” Very telling indeed. 23 million may be a small percentage of the Chinese population, but really that 23 million is the population size of Australia. There are other reports that claim that there are already more than 100 million Christians in China, but that report has been refuted by China’s foreign ministry in 2006, but this is the first attempt at a number not based on speculation, but via quantitative means.

For a people so collectivist in nature, it is no surprise. However, what is interesting is that if this survey is correct, that means 23 million Chinese have now ‘put aside’ their collectivist leanings to develop a personal one-on-one relationship with the Christian God. The previous mantra of the ‘Son of Heaven’ was hardly a personal relationship, it was about reverence for the will of heaven. This shift to a monotheistic spirituality so focused on individual relationships is definitely worth exploring. There will be change. Of course, this is telling too – “Nearly 69 percent of believers said they converted to Christianity after either they or members of their family fell ill,” Li Lin, who organized the survey, said in the Blue Book on China Religions, a book that lists facts on religion in China.

Like most activity that have a contemporary leaning, the eastern coastal areas are the ones that are shaped first. ‘The poll found that most of the Chinese Christians are located in the eastern coastal and the Yangtze River areas, which are China’s most densely populated and economically prosperous regions.’

On a personal note, what is most heartening – is that the East/West divide is getting blurred. The economic and political impetus behind such a line is hopefully getting less relevant. Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism are popular Chinese thinking exports today in the West, so it’s good to see this cross-pollination (from the ground up) taking place.

CONTRIBUTOR:  Wandering China is a Foresight Perspective contributor and comes to us as a researcher on Chinese politics, international relations and security.  Thanks for the piece WC. 

PLA General tests Reform Waters; Supports American- style Democracy in China

In China, Global Economy, Intelligence, International Relations, military, PLA, Uncategorized on August 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm

PLA General backs the American Dream

General and scholar test reform waters

PLA Political Commissar  [Lieutenant, not Full General as reported by the Age article below] General Liu Yazhou seems to be constantly pushing boundaries. He argues his points in a recent report by Hong Kong-based magazine Phoenix. He seems to have been able to freely comment on a systemic shift for China to move forward since 2007. Since 2007 the Commissar has be redesignated from the Air Force.

He’s not the only notable figure challenging reforms. For more, check out this article by the Asia Times Online – General and scholar test reform waters (Asia Times, 09 August 2010).  It is noteworthy that one is a military man and the other, an economist. As an observer with vested interest, I am of Chinese ethnicity.  I am still not sure if reform that essentially transforms all significant global powers today to one of American-style democracy will work. I understand where they are coming from, and the Chinese overseas I have met over the course of the past two years are quite happy with the status quo (i.e. Communism with Chinese characterstics – translated Authoritarian Capitalism a la Singapore style, arguably). That being said, I have not visited China since 2002. I shall verify this when I travel to China again this year.

The Chinese are notoriously resistant toward adopting ideals not self-generated. So, why not find a balance between the two?  The Chinese have been a collectivist society for the past few millennia.  Such a wholesale reform to one of individualism, just twenty years after opening up to the world, is going to be a challenging one with many contemporary implications.

Sun Yat-Sen tried it in the early 20th century with Western-influenced nationalism based on democratic ideals, but corruption, far worse than ever before, emerged and set China into further turmoil. It started with civil war involving war lords initially, and then the fight between the Nationalists and Communists.  Key to this is that Sun sought reform against a dynasty that was plunging China into darkness on all fronts – social, economic, political, military – the list is endless.

Today is quite different. Communism 1.0 may have been a disaster with the Cultural Revolution and the like, but Communism 2.0 today really is a marked improvement.

The bigger question is this – how is it that such reports see the light of day in supposedly ‘fully’ authoritarian China?

”If a system fails to let its citizens breathe freely and release their creativity to the maximum extent, and fails to place those who best represent the system and its people into leadership positions, it is certain to perish…’

CONTRIBUTOR:  Wandering China is a Foresight Perspective contributor and comes to us as a researcher on Chinese politics, international relations and security.  Thanks for the piece WC. 

Hello from FORESIGHT!

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Hello, and welcome to The FORESIGHT Perspective.  Here you will read about issues regarding U.S. national security, international relations, intelligence, defense and international trade taken straight from the headlines.  We will attempt to dig deaper, source more and then call it as we see it.  It will be an enlightening approach.  We hope to shed light on topics that may appear somewhat simple at first glance, but with a little analysis become more complex.  We will have contributors from the intelligence community, diplomatic community, private sector and govenments from all over the world.  We will welcome your comments and perspectives to take the discussion further.  There will be no talking points here.  Just the application of the facts and intelligence.  If you see something you like, let us know.  If not, I’m sure you will still let us know.  In the end, we will definitely learn something new. 

If you would like to consult on an issue regarding security risk or government relations, that is our day job.  You can visit our website at www.goforesight.com

Let the blogging begin.