Reason, Imagination and Invention in the South Pacific: The Laser Beam Kiwi

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 6, June 2018 

By Bernard Cadogan, Ph.D.

Troops pose with the “Laser Kiwi” flag, submitted to the New Zealand Flag Consideration panel in 2015 by James Gray. Source: Reddit.

Address to the U.K. Defence Academy, Shrivenham, 7th February 2018

New Zealand is proof that nature does not always abhor, a vacuum. The country is truly, “the last, the loneliest and the loveliest” as Rudyard Kipling declared Auckland to be in his “Song of the Cities”. Strategic systems never tolerate vacuums. They punish confusion and ambivalence. New Zealand is no redoubt, nor is it overlooked.

The intention of this address is to consider New Zealand’s sense of geopolitical reality. Are we proof that the Versailles Conference unassociated Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nation state has been outclassed in the 21st century Pacific? Are we a living fossil ?

Woodrow Wilson envisaged a world in which there would be no assemblages such as empires, nor alliance systems even. Sovereignty-pooling exercises such as the European Union and Mercosur or Caricom would have been anathema to Wilson. They are not an option for us.

When asked at the Versailles Conference, why we had made the effort we did in the Great War, our Prime Minister Bill Massey replied, “we did it for Civilisation”.

Continue reading

Duterte’s Immigration Agreement with China: Subversion by Numbers

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 6, June 2018 

By Demetrius Cox

A PLA Air Force (PLAAF) military transport plane (IL-76) in Davao City on 8 June 2018. Source: Philippine Plane Spotters Group (PPSG).

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

On June 9, 2018 the Philippine Star published an article titled “More than 3 million Chinese allowed entry into Philippines since 2016 — Immigration data”.

In what may become one of the most remarkable subversions in recent history, the article describes how the immigration floodgates have been thrown open by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.  With a current national population of 103 million, Duterte has allowed a 3% direct population increase (3+ million) of Chinese immigrants to the Republic of the Philippines in less than three years, which is enough to keep most demographers up at night.  And there is no end in sight.

In Communist China’s long game, this is a very important development. The PRC is effectively colonizing a democratic neighbor and treaty ally of their chief rival, the United States, while driving a strategic wedge deep into the heart of the Western Pacific – without firing a single shot.

China’s illegal construction and militarization of five man-made island fortresses in the South China Sea has elicited outrage.  But the PRC is laughing at the world.  As  reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) IL-76 landing at Davao City on June 8 suggests, China is in the process of buying and colonizing a 7,000 island unsinkable aircraft carrier, while creating a brilliant encirclement and containment strategy to directly threaten every regional neighbor and rival.

Apparently President Duterte never made a study of Communist China’s invasion of Tibet (1950), or PRC forays into Socialist infiltration of Malaysia (Malayan Emergencies, 1948-1960; 1968-1989) and Indonesia (PKI, 1914-1966), where China attempted to directly subvert two key southeast Asian nations by mass immigration, while agitating, fomenting, and arming communist militias there.

There is no sunny future here for the Philippines’ weak democracy – and China will see to it.  Short of an Indonesian-style purge, those Chinese immigrants are in the Philippines to stay, and are being joined by thousands more each day.  In rapid succession, we are likely to see at least a political resurgence of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and other Socialist advocacy groups – including the Catholic Church – which has a history of supporting the CPP.  Even though Duterte allegedly hates the CPP with a passion, China knows he won’t be around to protest later – or even now – to provide a modicum of Counterintelligence pushback against Chinese Intelligence Services currently operating in the completely unrestrained and target-rich environment created by the president himself.  Given the unfortunate history of corruption and poverty in the Philippines, Duterte’s eagerness to court Chinese investment and tourism will likely see greed triumph over freedom and democracy.  This could be met with mass Filipino unrest, once the populace more fully understands what their crooked leaders have done to them, but even that is in doubt if China succeeds in making a few more Filipinos “rich”.

Hello, Manila, anybody home?

Hello??

你好?

Demetrius Cox is a retired Naval Officer, active researcher, analyst, commentator, and consultant.  He has lived and worked in the Indo-Pacific region for over three decades, and specializes in science, energy, defense, and policy matters. JPR Status: Opinion.

Legislatures Elected by Evaluative Proportional Representation (EPR): An Algorithm

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 6, June 2018 

By Steve Bosworth and Anders Corr1

Abstract

Illustration of grading. Source: Getty.

This article describes a new and relatively simple evaluative method to elect all the members in any legislative body, such as a city council or national legislature.2 Called Evaluative Proportional Representation (EPR), each voter grades any number of candidates on their fitness for office as EXCELLENT, VERY GOOD, GOOD, ACCEPTABLE, POOR, or REJECT.  These evaluations are counted by hand or computer algorithm (here provided in the R statistical computer language).  This evaluative method of social choice is particularly good at revealing and optimizing voters’ utilities.  It ensures proportionate minority representation in legislative bodies by enabling each voter to guarantee that his or her evaluations of the candidates will continue fully to count in the deliberations and decisions made by their elected legislative body.  Each elected member of this body is given a different weighted vote as determined by counting all voters’ evaluations. As a result, each citizen’s vote continues to count within the weighted vote given to the elected member she most highly values.

Continue reading

Teaching a Tunisian to Fish: An Animating Way to Wield US Soft Power

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 5, May 2018

By Bhakti Mirchandani

Economic statecraft, the use of economic instruments to accomplish geopolitical objectives, dates back to the Louisiana Purchase.  American Enterprise Funds, first established by USAID following the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Former Soviet Union, and the Tunisian American Enterprise Fund, launched in 2013, are two examples of both economic statecraft and powerful impact investing tools.  This article provides a window into the Tunisian American Enterprise Fund’s investments, purpose, progress, strategy, and place in US foreign policy.

Continue reading

The Price Of Paramount Power: Xi Jinping’s Ascension Could Make China A Much Riskier Place To Do Business

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 6, No. 3, March 2018

By Richard Hornik

One of the peculiar pathologies of western businessmen active in China is an almost religious reverence for its lack of due process, enthralled by the combination of free(ish) markets and political stability proffered by China’s Market-Leninism (a term coined by Nicholas Kristoff). What they miss, however, is the price that must be paid for such short-term control, and during the course of Chinese history that price has proven to be very high.

The latest convert to this envy for authoritarian efficiency is Tesla’s Elon Musk who has spoken and written extensively about China’s ability to conceive, approve and build enormous infrastructure projects in a matter of a few years – or less[1].  No zoning rules, environmental regulations, cost-benefit analyses — much less property rights — can stand in the way of the gleaming high-speed rail lines, shiny new airports, massive harbors and 12-lane highways and bridges that have covered the Middle Kingdom in the past two decades. Likewise with housing developments and mega industrial installations like petrochemical plants, steel mills and refineries.

The fact that many of these projects made little or no economic sense and often created enormous capital, environmental and human costs for decades to come does little to take the shine off the power to command society and the economy to do the bidding of a brilliant meritocracy. Japan went on a similar splurge in the last three decades of the 20th century, also directed by brilliant technocrats, ending in two decades of economic stagnation, but at least Japan had its flawed democracy to serve as a break and a safety valve, something missing from authoritarian regimes.

A vendor (R) takes a nap next to posters showing the late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong (C) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) at a market in Beijing on May 15, 2016. Fifty years after the Cultural Revolution spread bloodshed and turmoil across China, the Communist-ruled country is driving firmly down the capitalist road, but Mao Zedong’s legacy remains — like the embalmed leader himself — far from buried. Credit: AFP / NICOLAS ASFOURI / Getty Images

Continue reading

U.S., U.K., And Allies Must Increase Support To Saudi Arabia

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 6, No. 3, March 2018

By Anders Corr, Ph.D.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) met British Prime Minister Theresa May in London on March 7, the first leg of his worldwide tour to get trade deals and improve diplomatic support for Saudi Arabia’s growing proxy conflict with Iran. It is unfolding in Syria, Iraq, Qatar, Lebanon, and Yemen. This trip’s agreements with Britain include $2 billion in trade deals, not least of which are Saudi Arabia’s purchase of 48 Typhoon fighter aircraft from BAE. While protesters have raised human rights concerns, and Saudi Arabia does have more than its fair share of religious extremists, the government of Saudi Arabia is actually a moderating influence in the Middle East, and a close ally against the growing alliance of China, Russia, and Iran.

Embed from Getty Images

Continue reading

China’s Strategic Pivot Towards the South Pacific Island Nation of Tonga

A Hybrid Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment (IPOE) Analytical Assessment

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 5, No. 12, December 2017

By Mark Anthony Taylor

The aim of this research is to critically examine the refocusing of Chinese aid, economic involvement and diplomatic attentions towards the small South Pacific island nation of Tonga.  The research seeks a deeper understanding of China’s behaviour towards Tonga and promotes a reevaluation of how the US and its allies should respond to China’s strategic calculus. China’s actions in Tonga, although appearing benign, represent a cloaked threat to Tonga’s independence, democracy and U.S. regional aspirations.  Furthermore, owing to the comparative strength of the Chinese economic and diplomatic approach, a competitive soft-power response from the US may prove inadequate. In consequence, it may be more advantageous for the US to pursue a heightened hard-power response to ameliorate any potential threat. Through undertaking an analysis of China’s fundamental motivations for the soft-power Tongan pivot and an exploration of the modus operandi employed by China to affect its strategic goals, the project will endeavour to provide a clear answer to the following research question: “Is this Chinese pivot towards Tonga merely an example of cheque-book economic diplomacy, or does it entail a cloaked malignant threat to the security and autonomy of the US and its allies?” Utilising a hybrid adaption of the Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment (IPOE) analytic method[1], this project will apply a structured framework in order to probe and reconceptualise the Chinese pivot towards Tonga in an effort to unravel the underlying motivations of China. In line with this approach, the project will firstly scrutinize the situational variables resident in each nation that comprises the terrain of the issue. The significant and unique political, military, economic, social, infrastructure and informational system factors (PMESII) that contribute to the rapid intensification of China/Tongan relations will be explored. From this point, the focus will be turned towards an analysis of the usefulness of the two polar theoretical explanations (liberal and realist) for the current Chinese Course of Action (COA) in Tonga. Lastly, a detailed investigation of the two key Centres of Gravity (COG’s) that underpin and impact upon the China/Tonga relationship will ensue, exploring the cultivation of pro-China sentiment in Tonga and the degree of the US pivot to the South Pacific. The project will draw from a diverse variety of academic publications, expert opinion pieces and news media sources. The analysis reveals that the Chinese strategic pivot into the nation of Tonga superficially appeared to be motivated by benign economic opportunism. However, engagement with Tonga was found to hold a minimal benefit to China in terms of resource supply or economic gain. The major strategic benefits that were found to accrue to China were through the potential securing of Tonga for the establishment of a forward operating military base in the South Pacific. Consequently, China’s pivot may be motivated by concealed Chinese hegemonic designs (the realist perspective) rather than by benign economic opportunism (the liberal perspective). This motivation was found to pose a significant security threat to the US-lead regional order.  Two significant COG’s are bolstering the effectiveness of China’s Tongan pivot. Firstly, China has successfully executed a “hearts and minds” program to facilitate the broad interweaving of pro-China sentiment into the psyche of Tongan society. Secondly, the absence of US attention towards soft-power regional engagement with Tonga has aided China’s pivot. In terms of an effective US response to China’s strategy in Tonga, a revised US soft-power push was assessed as constituting an ineffective strategy due to the resilient China-Tonga relationship that now exists and because of China’s deep aid pockets. Consequently, the evidence points towards the need for a revitalised US hard-power military presence in the region as the most viable option for dampening China’s future militaristic ambitions towards Tonga.

One pa’anga and two pa’anga banknote.
Tonga, Pacific. Credit: Getty Images.

Continue reading

Justice Perverted

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

By Kyle Pizzey

As a veteran and someone who has spent a great deal of time in Afghanistan both in and out of uniform, the recent decision by the Canadian government to award Omar Khadr a substantial cash settlement is frustrating and is a perversion of the Canadian justice system.

Embed from Getty Images

Continue reading

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)

Continue reading

China Expert: I’m Drunk

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

By Anders Corr

The following conversation between myself and a drunk China expert, who published a well-reviewed book on China recently, covers a wide-ranging set of topics, including the hard-to-decipher policy intentions of the U.S. and China. The conversation, which occurred by email starting Friday night, April 21, is sometimes humorous, and may be politically incorrect to some. But it succinctly and candidly addresses critical themes of U.S.-China relations, and touches on the politics of China analysis in the U.S. and Europe.

Continue reading