Invite Taiwan Navy To RIMPAC Exercise In Hawaii

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 5, No. 7, July 2017

By Anders Corr

In 1971, the U.S. started holding international naval exercises in Hawaii, and called them RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific). We invited our closest allies to participate. Now, the U.S. Navy is inviting not only allies, but Russia and China as well. Since a brief thaw in the 1990s, Russia and China are increasingly acting as adversaries rather than responsible international partners to the U.S. Most recently, China seems to have helped rather than stopped North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. It is time to invite Taiwan, not China, to RIMPAC.

Aerial view of a navy fleet with five Chinese navy warships and two America navy warships which head to Hawaii for the 2016 Pacific Rim (RIMPAC) on June 25, 2016 in the western Pacific Ocean. A Chinese navy fleet, including five ships (the missile destroyer Xi’an, the missile frigate Hengshui, the supply ship Gaoyouhu, the hospital ship Peace Ark, the submarine rescue vessel Changdao), three helicopters, a marine squad and a diving squad with 1,200 officers and soldiers, set sail from Zhoushan to Hawaii to join the RIMPAC 2016 on June 15. It is the second time that Chinese navy has participated in RIMPAC, a multilateral naval exercises led by the USA and held every two years. (Photo by VCG)

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Nuclear Deterrence and Four Types of Force: Definitive, Coercive, Catalytic, and Expressive

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 5, No. 6, June 2017

By Captain Robert C. Rubel USN (Ret)

North Korea’s drive to attain a nuclear warfare capability is currently on the front burner in the Pentagon, and is a driver of tensions in East Asia. This has precipitated plenty of dialogue in the national security community, including on the issue of extended deterrence, the policy of the US that threatens nuclear response if an ally is attacked with nuclear weapons. One input from a former colleague at the Naval War College was the final catalyst that got me tapping on the keys. First, he quoted one of his scholars as saying that the real question concerning nuclear weapons “… is whether strategic nuclear forces have any genuine relevance today in the context of deterrence and warfighting, or whether they’re troublesome legacy weapons of a bygone era.” In a subsequent email he said that he was “interested in deterrence stopping all wars, not just nuclear.” It may be that the general umbrella of nuclear deterrence did suppress some wars that might have otherwise taken place during the decades after 1945, but it is almost impossible to know. However, my colleague’s faith in the utility of the manifold uses of deterrence is not that distant from those who advocate tailored deterrence, which is a scaled or graduated deterrence structure that includes the option of preemptive strikes.[1] Tailored deterrence to some extent reflects the logic behind the DoD concept of flexible deterrent options (FDO), which are defined as “…a wide range of interrelated responses that begin with deterrent oriented actions carefully tailored to produce a desired effect.”[2] In my view, such policies would incur considerable risk, as they ascribe, in an a priori manner, effects on an opponent’s political decision making and strategic planning processes in lieu of any specific intelligence (frequently) and certainly without any historical track record, especially in the nuclear arena. In this short article I will discuss a different way to analyze deterrence and gain insight into the thought processes of my colleague.

File photo taken in October 2015 in Pyongyang is of a North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile on display during a military parade. Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images

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Iran’s New Generation of Oil and Gas Contracts: Historical Mistrust and the Need for Foreign Investment

Iran Qatar Gas

In this Monday, July 19, 2010 file photo, portraits of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, right, and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei adorn a construction site which is part of the South Pars gas field, on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf in Assalouyeh, Iran. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said his country intends to increase production from a giant joint gas field shared with neighboring Qatar, state TV reported on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. The report quoted Rouhani as saying Iran that intends to match Qatar’s production by 2017. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Originally published in Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 2015.

Revised version published in Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 4, No. 2, February 2016.

By Reza Yeganehshakib, Ph.D.

Reza Yeganehshakib  holds a Ph.D. in history with a specialization in World and Middle Eastern history at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). He received a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Iran Azad University, and an M.A. in history from UCI, where he serves as a Research Associate at the Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies. Dr. Yeganehshakib is a member of the Middle East Studies Association and the International Society for Iranian Studies. He is affiliated with the Persian Language Institute at California State University, Fullerton and was previously affiliated with the National Iranian Oil Company.

Abstract

After nationalizing the oil industry in Iran in 1951, the government passed protectionist laws that restrained foreign ownership of Iran’s oil fields and industries. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, these laws have been reinforced to further reflect the anti-Western ideological underpinnings of the revolution. Yet, after the Iran-Iraq War and the beginning of the era of so-called “reconstruction” in 1988, the Iranian government adopted several laws to encourage foreign investment, particularly in the country’s largest industry, oil and gas. These laws, chiefly the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPPA), despite having been revised several times, have not been successful in encouraging foreign companies to invest in Iran’s oil and gas industries. As a result, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran recently announced that it would issue a new generation of oil and gas contracts, Iran Petroleum Contracts (IPC) that are more attractive to foreign investors. This paper investigates possible challenges that Iran’s protectionist laws may pose for these contracts, especially in light of Iran’s prevailing political and religious anti-West/anti-imperialist ideology and Iran’s distrust towards the West after the fall of Mossadegh’s government in 1953. It also studies Iran’s political and legal realities and whether they might provide foreign investors with attractive incentives, such as partial or conditional ownership of the industries, for investment.

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Nepal milestone towards increased stability

Nepal passed a modest milestone today in its attempts to improve stability . The four top political parties named Supreme Court Chief Justice Khilraj Regmi as head of an interim government. The main goal of Regmi will be to hold elections by June 21 for a new parliament empowered to adopt a constitution (ABC News).

However, we are not overly optimistic. Smaller political parties led violent riots in opposition to Regmi, it is unclear whether elections will actually be held, and even if elections are held, it is unlikely they will lead to a constitution. The last parliament elected for the purpose of deciding on a constitution — in 2008 — was unable to agree on one during its four-year tenure. Nothing fundamental has changed in Nepalese politics to suggest that a constitutional breakthrough will occur in the near future.

Watch for increased socialism in Latin America

Despite the political change that just swept Venezuela — which may indicate a decrease in the promotion of socialism from that country — a more powerful influence for Latin American socialism just arose in Rome. Today Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis, a name he chose after a Saint known for his asceticism. While socially conservative (e.g., on abortion and gay rights), Cardinal Bergoglio was known to eschew the luxuries of his station for a simple life that included modest quarters, self-cooked meals, and hailing the bus in Buenos Aires. His sermons suggest great sympathy for social justice and the poor, and he comes from Latin America  (Washington Post).

Bergoglia’s reputed historical links to 1970s fascism in Argentina, and his political astuteness, means that he wants to prove otherwise. Regardless of his true feelings, it will be hard for him not to play to his massive constituency of poor Catholics in Latin America — the greatest number of Catholics worldwide. Nearly all of Latin America’s poor will be looking to him to address their plight. Regardless of the position he takes on poverty in the future, the lay Catholic ministry in Latin America, and political entrepreneurs farther up the hierarchy, will gain favor among their largely overlapping constituencies for presenting the new Pope as supportive of socialist endeavors. This points to a revival of the liberation theology of the 1980s, and a greater probability of socialist-inspired coups, revolutions, debt defaults, and nationalizations — especially in Latin America.

South Korean public opinion shifts towards independent nuclear capability

Gallup opinion polls conducted following North Korea’s third nuclear weapons test found that approximately 64% to 66.5% of South Koreans believe South Korea should develop an independent nuclear weapons capability. They want the capability to defend against North Korea if the United States unexpectedly withdraws its security commitment to South Korea (New York Times).

The United States is fully committed to the defense of South Korea, and North Korea is well aware of this fact. For this reason, South Koreans should not be overly concerned with the latest North Korean antics. The United States stands firmly with its ally South Korea.

Nevertheless, South Koreans are understandably uncomfortable having an unpredictable and highly belligerent nuclear-armed neighbor to the North. South Korean nuclearization would be a major blow to nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The nonproliferation regime works because member countries show self-restraint by not developing independent nuclear weapons. Rather, they entrust their defense to a close security partnership with the United States, NATO, and other friendly alliances.

If the strength of the alliance is not apparent to the voting population of a non-nuclear country — in this case South Korea — then it is incumbent upon the stronger member of the alliance to take greater measures to display that commitment. These measures should include improved specification of treaty obligations, greater numbers and quality of forces deployed to South Korea, higher levels of South Korean inclusion and diplomatic collaboration in U.S. foreign policy decision-making, and improved diplomatic relations overall through improved trade relations. Deepening all facets of the relationship between South Korea and the United States will enhance the trust required for South Koreans to place the security of their nation in the hands of the United States.

Not taking proactive measures to improve the trust of South Koreans in the United States risks nuclearization of South Korea, which by example, will exponentially increase the risk of further global WMD proliferation. South Korea is a highly respected member of the international community. South Korean nuclearization will erode the taboo against proliferation, making it seem a respectable option for many small and medium-sized nations. We cannot afford the increased risk of nuclear war that this entails.

Watch for greater Bangladesh Army attempts to quash unrest, and a further turn towards terrorism by militant student groups

Unrest in Bangladesh has increased due to trials against Jamaat-e-Islami leaders stemming from war crimes in 1971 (Washington Post). Watch for greater army involvement in attempts to quash violent protesters. Such military action is likely to increase a turn towards terrorism by extremist youth groups. The most active of such groups will be Jamaat-e-Islami’s militant youth wing — the Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS).

The ICS is strongest in universities and a member of some legitimate international Islamic organizations. However, they are intolerant Wahhabists, linked to Bangladesh domestic terrorism, and likely connected to international terrorist organizations (University of Maryland).

Unfounded Worries of a Sino-Japanese War

Saber-rattling by China over the Senkaku Islands, most recently in the form of locking weapons on a Japanese ship and helicopter, have led some analysts to warn of war between the two East Asian countries. These analysts go further to question whether the US treaty commitment to Japan’s territorial integrity would hold in this case (Wall Street Journal).

Such warnings are overblown. Militarized jostling of this sort is normal for low-intensity territorial disputes. All parties — including China — recognize that war would be counterproductive. China regularly activates media coverage with its mildly belligerent actions in order to bolster and maintain its long-term claim to the islands should the case go to an international court in future. Japan is a key US ally and trading partner. There is no question that were war to occur between China and Japan, the United States would defend its ally.

North Korean Nuclear Threats

North Korea issued a nuclear threat against the United States and South Korea today, the latest in a long series of such threats emanating from the small rogue nation in East Asia (Wall Street Journal). The UN was already in the process of tightening sanctions, but nothing that will drastically alter the status quo. These threats are geared to galvanize public support within North Korea for the leadership, as well as potentially garner minor material concessions from the West. The most likely scenario is no change, but given the country’s new youthful leadership (Kim Jong Eun), costly missteps are possible. That Kim Jong Eun lacks missile capabilities to deliver nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to his targets does not mean that he could not deliver WMD via simpler methods such as  cargo container or by smuggling the material on fast boats from neighboring countries. Port and major cities in the US, South Korea, and Japan have a miniscule but persistent and catastrophic risk from North Korean WMD delivery.

Increased Unrest in Bangladesh

Journal of Political Risk

By Anders Corr, Ph.D.

A few weeks ago Corr Analytics predicted a likely increase in Bangladesh unrest due to steps leading to the criminalization of the Islamist political party, Jamaat-e-Islami (canalyt.com).

With today’s arrest of a Jamaat-e-Islami party official, the predicted unrest materialized. A demonstration that clashed with police resulted in at least 61 injured. Demonstrators threw crude bombs at police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) — the main opposition in parliament — is now more closely allied with Jamaat-e-Islami. The BNP called for a General Strike on Thursday (Associated Press).

Given the extensive business interests and relatively strong alliance of Bangladesh with the West, it is paramount to maintain the country’s relative stability. Given the pro-Islamist outcomes of the Arab Spring events, it would not be advised to risk another such movement in Bangladesh. The US and other Western ambassadors to Bangladesh should encourage moderation of the Bangladesh Government with respect to Islamist political parties. Not doing so risks further increases in unrest, a less stable investment environment, and potential increases in Bangladesh-originated terrorism.

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