I’ve written about domestic unrest before. It was a major theme of Lex Talionis. It underlies much of the situation in the Maelstrom Rising series. And here it is, raising its ugly head again. Inciting incidents are hard to pin down. Many have been lies. In some cases, an actual death was twisted to make the dead man a martyr. In this case, it appears that a genuine act of police brutality (almost universally condemned, with the accused cop having been arrested and charged, then the charges upgraded) has been used as the inciting incident. This is not a Reichstag Fire, or a Mukden Incident. A genuine crime was committed. However, while it might not have been as quick as the mob would have liked, it was being dealt with within the system. So, why the outrage? Because it is useful. It has become apparent over the last few weeks that the Minneapolis Police Department desperately needs reform. It has little to do with race; a woman was murdered by a police officer from his car while she stepped out onto her front porch in her bathrobe, after she had called 911. A quick viewing of a video of Minneapolis cops in riot
In the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus, the new cold war with China isn’t getting any cooler. It seems that my predictions that China was going to step up the aggression in the aftermath were pretty on. (Man, I hope I can get the Maelstrom Rising series done before things really go pear-shaped…) Hong Kong Hong Kong has been the first on the chopping block. The protests in recent months have been largely in response to the Hong Kong government’s proposal for an extradition law (that would have made Hong Kong citizens subject to extradition to the PRC for crimes under PRC law). It was taken as a sign that the HK government was increasingly subject to Beijing. The law was withdrawn after the protests, but things haven’t exactly calmed down. The PRC’s National People’s Conference recently decided to impose a National Security Law on Hong Kong. A similar law had been proposed by the HK government in 2003, but was withdrawn after protests. Now, Beijing is directly imposing it. The US has recognized this move as effectively the death of Hong Kong’s de facto independence, as announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “After careful study of developments over the
So, the question has come up, whither the Maelstrom Rising series in the aftermath of the Wuhan Coronavirus? It was originally floated as question about whether people would really want to read more about the world unraveling while it appears to be doing just that in real life. It’s since turned into a different question: Since the original backstory was written before the coronavirus outbreak, how would it effect the overall storyline? After all, there’s no mention of a global pandemic in the backstory. And how would the current crisis play out in such a way that the backstory remains mostly intact? I think it’s actually somewhat simpler than I might have thought. The economic fallout from all of this is going to be far worse than the death toll from the disease itself. The global economy is taking a huge hit, that will only get worse as quarantine measures continue. At the same time, global interdependence has also taken a blow that it might not recover from. (There were op-eds published several weeks ago, bemoaning the fact that the coronavirus has dealt a blow to globalization that it might never recover from.) The rapid spread of the coronavirus, both due
Not being an epidemiologist, I’ve generally tried to avoid talking about the Wuhan Coronavirus (go piss up a rope, Uncle Xi). And the current disruption has got me wondering just how I’m going to continue the Maelstrom Rising series after this, when it comes time to pick it up again. But that’s not what this post is about. There are far more knowledgeable people to talk about the Wuhan Coronavirus itself (and how incomplete and inconclusive much of the data is). I’m going to talk about the comprehensive Chinese Communist Information Operations campaign related to it. The Wuhan Coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China, sometime in December, 2019. It was not initially identified as such; there were inexplicable cases of pneumonia, and they were increasing rapidly. Communist countries being what they are, the initial response was more geared toward keeping word from getting out. After all, everything is always perfect in the Workers’ Paradise. So, on January 1st, the Wuhan Public Security Bureau summoned Dr. Li Wenliang and accused him of “spreading rumors.” Dr. Li publicly repented of his “misdemeanors” and promised not to commit further crimes, presumably after being worked over a little. He wasn’t the only one, either;
On January 2, 2020, Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC Qods Force since 1998, took a well-deserved dirt nap. This has triggered a wave of prognostication illustrating a blinding level of ignorance of the context of the killing, or what came before it. Soleimani joined the IRGC during or just after the original Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is one hand of the Islamic Revolution, the other being the Council of Guardians. (More on them later.) The IRGC is divided between the Basij (paramilitary militias raised for primarily domestic enforcement of the Revolution’s Khomeinist Shi’a ideology) and the Qods Force, which handles foreign engagement. Which primarily consists of support, training, and direct action for terror groups, most notably Hezbollah. The same Hezbollah responsible for the killing of 241 US Marines on October 23, 1983, in the Beirut Barracks bombing. So, what does the Qods Force and Soleimani have to do with Iraq? A lot. The Qods Force being the primary foreign operations arm of the Islamic Revolution, it was instrumental in the Shi’a insurgency in Iraq following the invasion. The EFP (Explosively Formed Projectile) IEDs used against many coalition convoys on the MSRs in
This video came across my radar a week or so ago. It’s a long listen, but well worth it. Dr. Peter Zeihan goes into some of the economics and demographics of the collapse of the post-war world order. Some of these trends have gone into the background to the Maelstrom Rising series already. Zeihan’s talk has further fleshed some of them out. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with his entire forecast. I think he’s overlooking a number of, shall we say, violent variables. His outlook is almost entirely economic and demographic, leaving aside some of the potential impacts of violent ideology, desperation politics, terrorism, and “hybrid” Fourth Generation Warfare. Many of these variables have the potential to derail the economics he’s talking about. The demographics can also lead into some of these problems. As was mentioned in a discussion of this video, the solution to demographic problems has occasionally been “foreign adventures.” All of that said, the Maelstrom Rising series is predicated on the trends that Zeihan outlines. The difference is, the crisis brought about by these trends leads to desperation. And desperate governments can do things that, in the long run, are extremely destructive and stupid. Maelstrom Rising is about the
A lot of people see the Cold War as distant history. There was even one political scientist/economist who wrote a book in 1992 claiming that the end of the Cold War was “The End of History.” Obviously, that thesis didn’t age well. But even leaving aside the nonsense that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, a new age of democracy and peace had dawned, a lot of us still see a rupture between the Cold War and the present strategic situation. There is no such rupture, though. History doesn’t work in “eras” except in high school textbooks. Yes, this is in reference to my last post. An expansion, if you will. If you want to understand why we seem to be trapped in “endless war,” then you need to understand what happened since World War II, and how that has contributed to where we are now. The Cold War has been described as the multi-decade tensions between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, marked by espionage, massive conventional forces staring at each other across the Iron Curtain, and the Mutually Assured Destruction of thousands of nuclear weapons pointed in both directions. And those were part of it. But the Cold
A recent headline about the failure to withdraw from Afghanistan got me thinking about the “endless war” talk that’s been going on for at least the last decade. It ties in with the “war weariness” narrative that started less than two years into the Iraq War, a war weariness felt by a population that sacrificed little or nothing. They were just tired of seeing it on the news. But there’s something there. The point just is not necessarily what the pundits think it is. “The Long War” as some have called it didn’t start on September 11th, 2001. We’d been clashing with jihadi elements for a long time before that. The Iranian Hostage Crisis began with a Shi’a jihadist revolution, that immediately targeted Americans. It has been pointed out that the US directly supported the Shah, whose Savak secret police could rival the KGB for brutality at times, thus making the US the revolutionaries’ enemy, justifiably. (It should be pointed out that most countries in the region have equally repressive police forces, including the “good” ones who are still our allies.) But the Islamic Revolution, like just about every other revolution in history, promptly proved itself every bit as bad, if
As the People’s Armed Police gather with their vehicles in Shenzen, it looks like Hong Kong’s semi-autonomy may soon be at an end. I haven’t exactly been shy about casting the Red Chinese as villains in the past. Despite the propaganda that they’ve been spreading around, and that has been often parroted by those with financial ties to Beijing, they’ve certainly earned it over the years. (Try to get any official Chinese outlet to talk about Tianamen Square sometime.) While it might be tempting, given the sheer weight of Chinese products sold to the West, to think that China has truly “embraced” the free market, the Chinese Communist Party is still firmly in charge.
So far, the Maelstrom Rising series has mostly focused on the fact that conventional combat in future war is anything but dead. But there’s an irregular side to it, too, and the future is going to feature as much of the irregular, asymmetric side as the conventional, combined-arms side. There’s an article over on Borderland Beat about just that side of warfare, a side that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the modern world. Future conflicts will mostly be waged by drug cartels, mafia groups, gangs, and terrorists. It is time to rethink our rules of engagement. Wars are on the rebound. There are twice as many civil conflicts today, for example, as there were in 2001. And the number of nonstate armed groups participating in the bloodshed is multiplying. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), roughly half of today’s wars involve between three and nine opposing groups. Just over 20 percent involve more than 10 competing blocs. In a handful, including ongoing conflicts in Libya and Syria, hundreds of armed groups vie for control.