UNSCR 2334: A Disservice to the Cause of Peace

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In four respects, UNSCR 2334 undermines the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace and threatens what little regional stability is left. First, it could force Israel to fall back on its powerful legal position as the only existing legal inheritor of the British Mandate. Second, it compounds the error made by Obama’s transition team even before he came to power of ignoring a written commitment of a US president. Third, it has placed Sisi’s government in Egypt – a keystone of regional stability – in an untenable position. Fourth and most painfully, it will make it far more complicated – if not impossible – for the Palestinian leadership, enticed by the prospect of international coercion, to accept a reasonable compromise. The New Zealanders, do-gooders with a very dim understanding of what they have wrought, can be forgiven such folly. The Obama administration has no such excuses.

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“Be careful what you wish for; you might get it” says the old adage, and sober elements among the Palestinian leadership may yet rue the day they managed to secure an American abstention leading to the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. The resolution condemns “settlement activity” anywhere, including East Jerusalem, and calls upon all members to distinguish in practice between Jews who live on one side of the Armistice Line of 1949 and those who live beyond it. It presumes to speak in the name of international law and to create the conditions for further progress towards peace in the interests of both Palestinians and “legitimate” Israelis. In fact, this poorly designed and atrociously timed diplomatic tool seems set to harm, if not entirely destroy, the very purposes it was designed to serve.

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The Rise of the Trump Doctrine

Trump sees it as his mission to repair the social contract with the American public. He is focused domestically but events will nonetheless require Trump to look beyond the borders of the US. He is establishing a ‘professional’ Cabinet to facilitate that global engagement. Trump prizes business acumen, professionalism  and a “killer” instinct in managing affairs.

The US Establishment has been quick to dismiss President Elect Donald Trump’s emerging Foreign Policy. The dearth of policy wonks, establishment bureaucrats, think tanks and foreign affairs pundits, reflects an emerging Trump Doctrine that is at variance with the norm. It is unsettling the establishment, and in particular the neo-con rump that has for two decades dominated the post Soviet foreign policy agenda of both the Democrat and Republican parties. Gone will be the overly academic  U.S. foreign policy  guidelines that  have become too predictable and overwrought with diplomatic formality. If you wish to lift the edge of Trump’s developing Foreign Policy doctrine to peek beneath, then look no further than his key Cabinet choices and  especially the musings of Trump’s key advisor Steve Bannon. Highbrow intellectualism can often be a handicap in this exercise. Trump is hiring pragmatic ‘doers’ not ‘dreamers & talkers’. With a  Trump Cabinet, boasting people like Flynn and Mathis, the days of Obama’s ‘red lines’ and hollow threats will be a thing of the past.

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The Washington establishment have been quick to dismiss President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign policy, with predictable knee-jerk increduality. The emerging Trump Doctrine however merits deeper exploration than knee-jerk displays of stricken disbelief.  Contrary to popular consensus one of Trump’s greatest virtues is his unpredictability.  He is fortunate that the United States’ strong geopolitical foundation gives it a wealth of Foreign Policy options.

Occasionally in Foreign Affairs we stumble upon a truly Machiavellian moment. I believe that we may be about to experience one such moment in 2017. Aloofness in international affairs is a geopolitical luxury, but the US has options not available to other Nation States. Trump does not fear nationalism but holds Progressive globalism as an anathema. Trump’s ‘real politik’ is steeped in nationalism.

 

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The Spratlys heat up

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The Chinese government appears to have accelerated its development of military assets in the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands, a territory claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam.
Citing new satellite images, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) reports that China appears to have installed “large anti-aircraft guns and probable close-in weapons systems (CIWS)” in the Spratly island chain. The photos track the development of construction on four of the islands in the chain, which all appear to boast some kind of military asset.

On some, CSIS notes that the nature of the military assets is clear, while on others, difficult-to-identify “objects without clearly visible barrels” can be seen. “These cannot be definitively identified, but are likely CIWS to protect against cruise missile strikes,” the organization notes.

“These gun and probable CIWS emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea,” CSIS concludes, adding that these appear to be in part “the last line of defense against cruise missiles launched by the United States.”

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Chinese missile salvo warning

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China’s military conducted a salvo of 10 missile flight tests late last month in a show of force during the transition to the Donald Trump administration.

Chinese state media reported Thursday that the simultaneous flight tests of 10 DF-21 intermediate-range ballistic missiles were carried out in China.

The missiles “can destroy U.S. Asia-Pacific bases at any time,” the dispatch from the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The flight tests were disclosed by China Central Television on Nov. 28 and coincide with President-elect Donald Trump’s high-profile announcements of new senior government officials.

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Interesting mindset

Comment:-

It’s interesting to review what the new incoming U.S. Secretary of Defence has stated in the past, in order to get a idea of his mindset regarding warfare.

Obviously, it’s a departure from the usual bureaucratic speak we’ve become used to.

Here a a few  of his more memorable quotes of the past:-

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“The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot.”

“I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.”
“Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact.”

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

“Now from a distance, I look back on what the Corps taught me: to think like men of action, and to act like men of thought!”

“There are some people who think you have to hate them in order to shoot them. I don’t think you do. It’s just business.”

“I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years.”

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