Geopolitics – Post-America Conflict From Beijing to Jerusalem

- Politico – Robert D. Kaplan writes that as the events of the past week demonstrate, the Middle East has still not found a solution to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Melting away before our eyes is the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, in which the British and French carved out spheres of influence in the Levant, leading to the creation of Syria and Iraq. A terrorist Sunnistan has now emerged between the Lebanese city of Tripoli and the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, while a messy child’s finger-painting of different tribalized sovereignties defines Sunni and Shia areas of control between the eastern edge of the Mediterranean and the Iranian plateau. This happens even as a sprawling and fractious Kurdistan sinks tenuous roots atop the corpses of Baathist regimes. But Middle Eastern chaos is but prologue to the drama sweeping much of the temperate zone of Afro-Asia all the way to China. Indeed, so much else is going on beyond the Levant that the media overlooks: not necessarily violent, but increasingly and intensely interrelated. Understanding it all requires not a knowledge of Washington policy alternatives, but of classical geography.

Geopolitics / Middle East – Disraeli And The Eastern Question

- Forbes – Robert D. Kaplan writes that the Eastern Question strikes at the heart of present-day debates over humanitarian intervention in the Balkans, Libya and Syria. Simply put, the Eastern Question was about how to respond to the slow-motion demise of the Ottoman Empire, whose territory included not only much of the Near East but much of Southeastern Europe besides.

Geopolitics / Syria – Whose sarin?

- London Review of Books – Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.

Geopolitics / Middle East – Kerry's Middle East Obsession

- Geopolitics / Middle East – Kerry’s Middle East Obsession – Robert D. Kaplan writes that John Kerry has made his choice. Chaos in the Middle East is more important to him than historic power shifts in Asia and Europe. Passion, rather than geopolitical vision, drives this secretary of state. And it is a very derivative passion that drives him: one that has its origin in media obsessions.

Geopolitics – The Gaza Flotilla Incident and the Modern Law of Blockade

- US Naval War College Review – The law and operational practice of blockade were considered all but dead by many in the 1990s. However, in recent years, Israel has employed blockade twice: in 2006 against Hezbollah in south Lebanon and since then against Hamas in Gaza. The latter blockade, which will be the focus of this article, was instituted in January 2009 to prevent arms and other materials reaching Hamas and thereby to halt rocket attacks against Israeli territory.

Geopolitics / China – China's Geopolitical Fallout

- Stratfor – Robert D. Kaplan says the biggest question in international affairs has nothing to do with Syria or Iran going nuclear. It is has to do with the state of the Chinese economy, and the ability of China’s one-party system to navigate through an economic slowdown to a different growth model. China’s leaders will likely survive this trial. But what if they don’t? What if China faces a severe socio-economic crisis and attendant political one of an unforeseen magnitude? What would be the second-order geopolitical effects? If Syria explodes, it does so regionally. If China explodes, it does so globally.