Geopolitical Flashpoints

There are three regions of geopolitical instability in the world, the Middle East, the European / Russian theater and the China / Pacific-Southeast Asia theater. All are metastable but have the potential to erupt into war that may not remain localized since the US maintains interests including defense treaties in all of them. This post will maintain an active list of links to articles and events that we feel illuminate the current stress in these regions.

Our position is that geopolitical is a natural, complex adaptive system (CAS) that exhibits the behavior of such. Look at such systems as plate tectonics and forests whose energy/stress releasing events – earthquakes and forest fires have been shown to obey the power laws of CASs. In the case of geopolitics, war is the energy/stress releasing event. The other property of a CAS is while we can measure the energy buildup, we can never predict when an energy reducing event will occur, especially the “big one”. In geopolitics, that will be WW III.

China / Pacific-Southeast Asia

China is at conflict with most of its neighbours including India, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. With the annexation of Tibet, relations between India and China are quiet. The current focus is on several chunks of rocks in the South China Sea including the Paracel and Spratly  Islands. The issue is maritime boundaries and the hydrocarbon resources such may contain.

The current hotspot is with Vietnam. The rearmament of japan is also a Chinese concern.

European / Russian Theater

The gradual subsumption of the eastern states of the old Soviet Union by the EU and NATO recently erupted into violence with the Western-sponsored coup against the democratically elected government of the Ukraine. The secession of the Crimea and its affiliation with Russia is complete but tensions remain over the eastern regions of the Ukraine which have elements that wish to follow Crimea’s example. A regional conflict or larger will evolve only to the extent the US wants.

Middle East

The primary conflict here is the centuries-old battle between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam which consider each other to be mortal enemies. The West’s interest of course are the hydrocarbon resources of the area. Israel in some respects, is incidental to this conflict. Although there are hotspots and hot issues, Syria, Iran and nuclear weapons, Iraq, and North Africa, none are currently near a flash point in our estimation. The US is largely disengaged from this region at this point.

  • 20140518. NightWatch offers us a rare update on the tribal warfare in Libya since we bombed the Gaddafi regime into oblivion. It appears a coup is in progress courtesy of a (likely) Western-backed Forces loyal to a former Libyan general [who] suspended the parliament in Tripoli and continued their offensive against Benghazi. As Nightwatch notes: This overthrow appears to be the Libyan variation of Egyptian General al-Sisi’s overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood.
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