Monthly Archives: July 2012

Stratfor Geopolitical Weekly: 20120717

The Paradox of China’s Naval Strategy

July 17, 2012 | 0859 GMT


By Rodger Baker and Zhixing Zhang

Over the past decade, the South China Sea has become one of the most volatile flashpoints in East Asia. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan each assert sovereignty over part or all of the sea, and these overlapping claims have led to diplomatic and even military standoffs in recent years.

Because the sea hosts numerous island chains, is rich in mineral and energy resources and has nearly a third of the world’s maritime shipping pass through its waters, its strategic value to these countries is obvious. For China, however, control over the South China Sea is more than just a practical matter and goes to the center of Beijing’s foreign policy dilemma: how to assert its historic maritime claims while maintaining the non-confrontational foreign policy established by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1980.

A Glimpse into the Mind of a Socialist

A prominent individual gave a speech on July 13 for which we will post a link at the end of this essay. But we wish to extract and comment on a section that provides insight into the mindset of a true socialist. It demonstrates a total lack of appreciation of the role of the entrepreneurial spirit, and an immersion in egalitarian and collectivist thinking. We have annotated this extract in red and emphasized parts by bolding. The extract follows:

Stratfor Geopolitical Weekly: 20120710

Considering a Sunni Regime in Syria

July 10, 2012 | 0900 GMT


By Reva Bhalla and Kamran Bokhari

Last week’s publicized defection of the Tlass family marked a potential turning point for Syria’s al Assad regime.

The Tlass family formed the main pillar of Sunni support for the minority Alawite regime. The patriarch of the family, former Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass, had a strategic, brotherly bond with late Syrian President Hafez al Assad. The two military men served as members of the ruling Baath Party in Cairo from 1958 to 1961 when Syria and Egypt existed under the Nasserite vision of the United Arab Republic. The failure of that project brought them back home, where together they helped bring the Baath Party to power in 1963 and sustained a violent period of coups, purges and countercoups through the 1960s.

George Carlin Grounds Us

The late George Carlin is in our opinion, America’s greatest comic. Below, he gives a great performance that leaks real intelligence and thoughtful consideration. At the time of this performance in 2007 he shows an understanding of complex adaptive systems, something that few people today have any grasp of.

In this performance he comments on a host of issues that constitute the politically correct view of the environment. He provides a much needed grounding in reality for the advocates of such. Enjoy or be offended – he gets it right.

The Problem with Our Weather

The problem with our perception of weather in general is that most people mistake it for climate. According to The Free Dictionary, weather is:

The state of the atmosphere at a given time and place, with respect to variables such as temperature, moisture, wind velocity, and barometric pressure.

According to, climate is:

the composite or generally prevailing weather conditions of a region, as temperature, air pressure, humidity, precipitation, sunshine, cloudiness, and winds, throughout the year, averaged over a series of years.

Weather is what is happening locally today. Climate is what is happening over a much longer period of time and a much larger area. Weather is what we experience firsthand or read about on the nightly news secondhand as weather-related events of import.

Protest Movements as Political Strategy

July 5, 2012


By Ben

Recent protests throughout Sudan are the latest in an ongoing trend of protest movements around the world, from Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt to oil workers in Norway and opposition parties in Thailand. Protests have proven an effective strategy against autocratic regimes, political repression and austerity measures. Like with insurgency strategy, protests rely on underlying support from the population rather than on superior weapons. Both insurgency and protests are forms of asymmetric opposition in which the insurgents or protesters cannot succeed by using force to overwhelm the state, but must find (or create) and exploit specific weaknesses of the state.

Negotiations Behind U.S. Sanctions Against Ira

July 3, 2012 | 0914 GMT


By Reva Bhalla

Over the past week, the latest phase of U.S.-led sanctions against Iran has dominated the media. For months, the United States has pressured countries to curtail their imports of Iranian crude oil and is now threatening to penalize banks that participate in oil deals with Iran. In keeping with the U.S. sanctions campaign, the European Union on July 1 implemented an oil embargo against Iran. The bloc already has begun banning European countries from reinsuring tankers carrying Iranian oil.

On the surface, the sanctions appear tantamount to the United States and its allies serving an economic death sentence to the Iranian regime. Indeed, sanctions lobbyists and journalists have painted a dire picture of hyperinflation and plummeting oil revenues. They argue that sanctions are depriving Tehran of resources that otherwise would be allocated to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. This narrative also tells of the Iranian regime’s fear of economically frustrated youths daring to revive the Green Movement to pressure the regime at its weakest point.

But Iran’s response to sanctions deadlines has been relatively nonchalant. Contrary to the sanctions lobbyist narrative, this response does not suggest Iran will halt its crude oil shipments, nor does it portend a popular uprising in the streets of Tehran. Instead, it suggests that sanctions are likely a sideshow to a much more serious negotiation in play.

What Is Your Carbon Foolprint?

The politics of carbon is having an enormous economic impact on the developed nations. It is based on a UN-sponsored hysteria that can be summarized as: through CO2 emissions, mankind is cooking the planet. We show why there is no basis for concluding this. In fact, the data suggest that our efforts may have no major effect on temperature at all.

Our determination to fight this idiocy went up a notch a year ago when our (then) 7-year old grandson came home talking about our carbon footprint. The school system may not have taught him how to read and write but it had taught him how to recycle garbage and reduce his CO2 production. And no, the title is not a misspelling.

Modern climate science is possible only because we have the results from the Vostok ice core project. Here’s a graph of the data from the Southwest Climate Change Network with a current CO2 measurement extension (click to enlarge):

Figure 1. The Vostok ice core data.

We discuss the graph and its implications below, before arriving at some conclusions.

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