May 29, 2017

Trump Won’t Say Syria and Yemen Deserve Peace

Mon May 29, 2017 12:40

TEHRAN (FNA)- After closing an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $110 billion, US President Donald Trump refused to say whether Yemen is entitled to peace or ending the war on Syria is the best way to ensure its people have the security they need.

Instead, he announced the $110 billion deal will take effect immediately, extend up to $350 billion over 10 years, Saudi Arabia is US arms dealers’ most important client and is Washington’s No. 1 ally in the Middle East region, particularly in the forgotten military aggression against Yemen, which has claimed the lives of more than 14,100 people, most of them civilians.

In his view, Saudi vassals have every right to incessantly pound Yemen and bring back to power the resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh. Riyadh cannot and should never be allowed to fail to reach its criminal goals despite suffering great expense; and the Saudi regime is free to sponsor Takfiri terrorists fighting against Syria, which has left thousands of people dead and millions more displaced.

In the president’s view, the White House has every right to affect regime change in Damascus; dismiss the de-escalation zones agreement reached between Iran, Russia and Turkey; and strike as many civilians as possible on the territory of another sovereign state without its consent or any UN authorization. There is room for very minor shifts in this excessive policy that make sure war-party Washington does not harm the most vulnerable allies. Especially for terror proxy forces in need, the Trump White House does not want to leave the “moderate” goons without weapons and munitions. Looking at that, the regime changers always want to keep that in mind.

In the interim, no one at the United Nations presses the Trumpsters on their views about the colonial policy’s underlying philosophy: Is Yemen entitled to peace? Is every Syrian entitled to peace, and could the de-escalation zones agreement be something that ought to be that ultimate guarantor?

Trump wants to make sure the deal will never hold, just as the way he is making sure Saudi-led, US-backed war on Yemen will carry on and will never harm the most vulnerable terror proxies in there or in Syria. His massive arms deal with Saudis is merely a set of long-term policies that reflect his war priorities. He embarked on a racialized course of scapegoating and refused to rule out more sanctions against Iran and Russia as part of that process. He wants to have an all-out confrontation, but just in words and without engaging the US in action. It’s good for business.

Though Trump is unable to help regional allies to regime change Syria and Yemen, he did succeed in destabilizing the region for many years to come. His deplorable Saudi arms deal has effectively cast a shadow of war over the millions of people living in the Middle East and North Africa without the hope for permanent peace and tranquility. This shadow accompanies them wherever they go in their daily lives. This divisive arms deal not only serves to incite fear of war; it also helps to exacerbate regional insecurity and chaos, and most importantly, mistrust among Muslims, even among Saudi Arabia’s own allies.

Trump’s discursive policy of weaponizing allies has inspired sectarian warfare as well because his administration hasn’t hesitated to carry out its threats against Iran and its close allies. In its first months, the Trump administration imposed travel ban on Muslims, particularly Syrian refugees, that despite the judges’ overturn is still ongoing. Half the Muslim people applying for visa never get to travel to the United States. And the results have been predictable, as an eroding trust in so-called “American democracy” and “American dream” across the country.  It’s not surprising that Islamophobe Trump’s Islamopbobia campaign has undermined Muslim trust and instigated resentment, as many pundits have attested.

Trump’s own role in furthering regional and global insecurity must also be accounted for. When candidate Trump vaunted his success in helping end the endless war on the Muslim world, it was not surprising to learn that the United States and the mere extras were still going ahead with plans to destroy Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The move was unsurprising in that it was consonant with the ruse to provoke cash cow Saudi Arabia to purchase even more American arms. This flow was abetted and facilitated by the Pentagon regime and the Military-Industrial Complex seeking to maximize profit and minimize US military costs while stretching terror chains around the region.

This asymmetry has made the region highly vulnerable to exploitation as attempts to resist American hegemony and wars of aggression and deceit have often been met with threatened military attack and coup – even in the case of Qatar which wants better ties with Iran. So it is no coincidence that, over the past few days, the growing insecurity and chaos has taken place while the region has become increasingly militarized and while discussions of ending the twin wars on Syria and Yemen have been frequently linked to Iran leaving these two allies to their own devices. All of this has predated Trump.

This president and his pro-Israel cabinet plan to take the profitability of the permanent war on terror, Islam and suchlike to new heights by giving massive arms to the Israel-allied despots of the Persian Gulf and by imposing further sanctions against Iran and Russia. It’s a kind of desperate contradiction between candidate Trump’s populist promises and President Trump’s goal of “making America rich again.” Trump cannot maintain this contradiction without drowning out international condemnation in the noisy drumbeat of warmongering, scapegoating, and Islamophobia

The World Didn’t Agree to a Nuclear-Armed Iran, Even in 10 Years

Max Singer

The U.S. and its allies can prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, but only if they are clear about what the controversial 2015 nuclear deal actually says. Critics of the agreement, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, often say the deal gives Iran permission to acquire nuclear weapons after 10 years. Yet the stated premise of the plan was that Iran would never build or acquire nuclear weapons—ever.

An item in the deal’s general provisions states that the plan “will ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.” Another item reads: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons.”

The world powers that negotiated the deal agreed to lift the sanctions against Iran only on the stated assumption that Iran never had, and never would have, a nuclear-weapons program. Although it’s unlikely any parties to the deal believed Iran’s nuclear program was only for peaceful purposes, they all found it diplomatically convenient to assert that it was. This diplomatic prevarication means that any time evidence is found suggesting Iran is trying to produce or acquire nuclear weapons, the U.S. may feign shock at being deceived. And without violating what it agreed to in the nuclear deal, the U.S. can announce that it will do whatever is necessary to ensure that Iran will not succeed in acquiring nuclear weapons.

Nothing in the agreement precludes the countries that signed the deal from acting to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Since Tehran had insisted that it did not have a nuclear-weapons program, the regime cannot claim that its pursuit of nuclear weapons was authorized by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The problem of stopping Iran is therefore not a legal one. The question is whether the U.S. and other powers have the tools to compel Iran to abort its nuclear-weapons program, and whether they have the will to use them. Are the great democracies determined enough to impose decisive economic sanctions or to encourage internal opposition to the Iranian revolutionary regime? What about military force?

The U.S., Germany, France and Britain no doubt have the power to end Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. If they cut off all communication with the country—flights, telephone, internet, banking—along with the countries that would follow their leadership, Iran would be compelled to yield regardless of what China and Russia might do. And Beijing and Moscow would not be enthusiastic about standing against the West’s actions to defend Iran.

The democracies don’t need to commit to changing the Iranian regime, or to collaborate actively with Iranian dissidents. Even moderate political and social support by the U.S. and Europe for Iran’s internal opposition could scare the regime into postponing its efforts to get nuclear weapons.

No military attack, even by the U.S., could reliably destroy all of the Iranian weapons-production facilities, but complete destruction is not necessary. Partial elimination might be enough to convince the regime that rebuilding would not be worthwhile because they could be attacked again. And a successful attack could also undermine the Iranian security services’ control of the population.

The decisive question is how strongly the U.S. and the other democracies are determined to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. If they have the will to do so, they have the necessary power, and the nuclear deal is not an impediment.

This is not a defense of the Iran deal, which simply postponed a showdown for a decade or so. This delay ended the momentum of the sanctions regime against Iran that had been gradually built over years. And it means that when a confrontation with Iran finally comes, the regime will be much closer to producing numerous nuclear weapons than when the deal was made. On the other hand, the delay also gives more time for the mullahs to fall before they can obtain nuclear weapons—and more time for the democracies to build up courage and determination to prevent the regional nuclear arms race that would follow Iran‘s acquisition of the bomb.

President Trump does not have to solve the Iranian nuclear-weapon threat during his first term. The deadline for building the coalition with the strength and determination to stop Iran will come after 2020. But he would be wise to use the term to develop the American and international understanding and policies that can create the will and power to stop Iran.

New study claims Swiss rejected fewer Jews during Nazi era

By Simon Bradley



MAY 29, 2017 - 17:00

A closed border crossing at Moillesullaz in Geneva on the French-Swiss border in 1943


New research has reignited debate on Swiss policy towards Jews fleeing the Nazis. A historian claims around 3,000 Jewish would-be refugees were turned away at the Swiss border with France between 1940-1945, compared to a previous overall estimate of 24,500 people. 

According to historian Ruth Fivaz-Silbermann, who presented her 1,000-page postgraduate research project, ‘The flight to Switzerland’, at Geneva University last Saturday, 15,519 Jewish people tried to enter Switzerland via the Franco-Swiss border between 1939 and 1945. In all, 12,675 were allowed to enter, but 2,844 were turned away at the frontier in western Switzerland. 

“My research gives a much clearer picture of how many people fled and their stories: where did they come from, why did they flee and how? Could everyone leave? What were the dangers?” Fivaz-Silbermann told on Monday. 

Switzerland also has borders with Germany (north), Austria and Liechtenstein (east) and Italy (south). But the historian estimates that two-thirds of all Jewish refugees entering Switzerland during the war crossed into Switzerland from France. 

Her detailed work, which involved combing tens of thousands of individual files held by the Swiss authorities, also revealed that 248 Jews who were deported from Switzerland later died in Nazi camps. However, she believes this figure could be higher. 

Her more precise estimates into the number of Jewish people who fled to Switzerland and were turned away during the war also contrasts with the official overall number of 24,500 forcibly returned – cited by the Bergier Commission, which from 1997-2002 investigated Switzerland’s role during the Second World Warexternal link

“We also know that 27% came via Italy. A study by the Ticino archives, which has not yet been published, estimates that 6,000 Jewish people entered and around 300 were turned back. For the German and Austrian borders there have been no studies but it is believed the numbers were very small,” she explains. 

“Jewish people from Germany tried to immigrate to Switzerland between 1933 and 1939 but the Holocaust was horrific. People were either being deported or they emigrated or hid from the authorities. It was extremely difficult to travel from Berlin to Switzerland, for example. Very few people came from Germany compared with France and Italy. This is not a hypothesis, it's a fact.“ 

WWIIThe flight to Switzerland

Historic images of Jewish refugees attempting to enter Switzerland (RTS,

The number of 24,500 was based on research completed in 1996 by Guido Koller, a historian at the Federal Archives in Bern. This figure includes people of other confessions and would-be refugees who were turned away at the Swiss borders several times. 

Koller and Georg Kreis, a member of the Bergier Commission, refused to comment on the report for Swiss public television, RTS, stating they had not yet read it. But both reportedly welcomed the fact that new research was providing a more precise view on Swiss wartime policies and their consequences. 

Two other historians have also taken a similar look at Swiss policy towards Jewish refugees during this period. In 2013, renowned French Nazi hunter and historian Serge Klarsfeld also claimed that far fewer Jewish refugees were turned away at Swiss borders than previously thought. Klarsfeld also put the number at 3,000. 

In 2010, writer Henry Spira published a study into Jewish refugees in the northwestern Jurexternal linka region that borders with France. He also found that statistics were often over-exaggerated.

“Certain openness”

In her conclusion, Fivaz-Silbermann also gave a nuanced view on the actions of the Swiss authorities, especially cantonal police, and their application of the government’s decision to close all borders hermetically on August 13, 1942. 

“Switzerland showed a certain openness. It was not totally closed. It let many endangered people enter while keeping the border officially closed,” said the researcher. 

“There was official policy – that of dissuading people to enter - but this strategy involved a great deal of easing… in September 1942, thousands of Jews fled Vichy France to Switzerland, to Geneva and Valais and by boat across Lake Geneva and the Swiss authorities gave instructions not to turn people away. These were not official but via telephone with the police directors of specific cantons. But it wasn't always positive at the customs as the Swiss army still decided who should be turned away.” 

It took Fivaz-Silbermann 19 years to complete her research, combing tens of thousands of individual files held by the Swiss customs, police and migration authorities in various cantons as well as in Bern. 

“It was a real painstaking job; detailed archive research which was not easy,” she commented. “For each family or individual I recreated a biographical file. Such as, ‘I was born in Warsaw and emigrated to Germany and then left for Belgium when Hitler arrived. Then I was deported to France and held in such and such a camp, later I fled and paid a smuggler so much to get to Switzerland’. She said she saw thousands of stories like that. 

Fivaz-Silbermann's PhD research should be soon published on the Geneva University website. She plans to produce a shorter version and to write a book. She also hopes to be able to continue to answer the hundreds of requests for information that she has received from family members who are seeking information about their Jewish relatives who fled to Switzerland

Swiss Armed forces told to tighten up cyber defences


POLITICS Law and order


MAY 29, 2017 - 10:36

Some 150 countries suffered a global ransomware attack this month


Switzerland’s military is poorly equipped to deal with persistent, long-term cyber attacks, according to a defence ministry internal audit. Documents seen by the media criticize the disjointed nature of the ministry’s current strategy.

The Zentralschweiz am Sonntag and Südostschweiz am Sonntag newspapers quoted the audit as saying "various cyber bodies have been created at a strategic level at the [defence ministry] in recent years, although nothing sustainable has been established.” In other words, too many overlapping cyber projects have been started with poor coordination and no long-term thinking.

Defence ministry spokeswoman Karin Suini acknowledged the audit’s findings, but wrote an opinion piece in the Sunday newspapers outlining recent changes in cyber defence strategy. A central working group was set up in February 2016, Suini wrote, following revelations that the state-monitored defence contractor RUAG had been hacked.

Around 23 gigabytes of data was stolen from RUAG between 2014 and the beginning of 2016, although the defence ministry said no crucial information about Swiss armed forces had been hacked.

Last April, Defence Minister Guy Parmelin started work on a ‘Cyber Action Plan’. This had already identified the need for a central body within the ministry to coordinate strategy, Suini wrote. Once implemented in 2020, the action plan will divert 2% of the armed force’s total budget towards tackling cyber crime – CHF100 million out of a CHF5 billion ($5.13 billion) annual budget.

The defence ministry is not tasked with tackling civilian cyber attacks, but could offer support if critical infrastructures are hit. Earlier this month, some 200,000 computer systems in 150 countries were hit by ransomware bug WannaCry, but Switzerland was relatively unscathed by the attack

Top Chinese official in Tokyo to renew China-Japan ties

The Hindu

Atul Aneja

BEIJING, MAY 29, 2017 19:17 IST

UPDATED: MAY 29, 2017 19:19 IST

Yang’s visit would be followed by a meeting in August between the LDP and China’s Communist Party.

China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi has arrived in Japan for talks that are likely to begin a realignment of ties, in tune with Tokyo’s fresh bid to diversify relations with Asia.

Japan's National Security Council chief Shotaro Yachi is hosting talks for the Chinese official on Monday afternoon. Mr. Yang’s post is equivalent to deputy prime minister, higher in ranking than the foreign minister. Mr. Yang’s arrival in Tokyo follows the visit to China for the recently concluded Belt and Road Forum (BRF) by Toshihiro Nikai — a top official of Japan’s ruling Liberal Development Party (LDP). Kyodo news agency had earlier reported, quoting an official as saying, that Mr. Nikai delivered a letter from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to China’s President Xi Jinping. It included a message about Japan’s wish to work closely with China on the North Korean issue. It also expressed Tokyo’s readiness to cooperate with Beijing on the Silk Road initiative.

Hours before Mr. Yang’s arrival, North Korea fired a ballistic missile which landed in Japanese waters—an event that is likely to sharpen the focus on tensions in the Korean peninsula, during talks. In China, there is a perception that there is a distinctive shift in Japan’s stance towards Beijing, following an apparent improvement of ties between Washington and Tokyo. The Chinese daily, Global Times had earlier quoted a Chinese academic as saying that “subtle changes” had emerged in Japan’s policy towards China, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Tokyo-backed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Obama administration’s “Pivot to Asia” strategy, as well as the U.S. decision to send a delegation to the BRF.

An article in the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post, which appeared on Sunday points out that with Mr. Trump’s “America first” policy limiting opportunities in the West, Japan would be wise to engineer its own Asia pivot, particularly in China’s direction. It added: “That would bring Japan four clear benefits: bolstered relations with Beijing; greater influence on policy and investment decisions in Asia; vast investment opportunities in infrastructure for companies and banks desperate for growth; and, renewed global relevance.”

Yet, analysts highlight that Japan’s renewed engagement with China is part of Tokyo’s non-zero sum foreign policy approach towards Asia, which includes a substantial and growing relationship with India. Japan and India are partners in the development of the proposed multi-billion Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), which would focus on the infrastructure development, including digital connectivity, especially along Africa’s Indian Ocean coastline.


According to a Kyodo report, Mr. Yang’s visit would be followed by a meeting in August between the LDP and China’s Communist Party “to exchange views on how to increase communication and strengthen economic ties”.



© 2017 Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Georgy Toloraya

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing to review the development of the Chinese project of Eurasian integration. At the same time, Russia was expected to use the available resources and possibilities to put forth and promote its own concept of Eurasian cooperation that differs from that of the Chinese. 

However, debatable impressions can be mustered up from this forum. The Eurasian integration plans remain vague despite the predictable statements made by the Chinese on their breakthrough achievements and the forum’s historical role. The forum was attended by fewer leaders than the hosts expected. It is still unclear if the sleeping countries will actively promote China’s initiatives. For example, India did not for one attend the forum, saying that the idea of a transit route via Pakistan under the Belt and Road concept would infringe upon its territorial rights in Kashmir. The resurgence of the Chinese-Indian dispute over this part of the Chinese project is bad for the project and also for Chinese-Indian cooperation on a larger scale, including within BRICS.

Moreover, it has turned out that the Belt and Road project is more of a geopolitical nature rather than an economic initiative. On the one hand, creating a peaceful environment in Eurasia meets Russia’s interests, but on the other hand, Moscow may dislike the silk noose China wants to throw over Eurasia. Anyway, the issue is so far limited to statements. Over the past three years, few projects have been implemented under the Belt and Road concept, which includes all projects planned along the route. No economically substantiated action plan with concrete indicators has been formulated for the implementation of Xi Jinping’s idea. This explains why the Chinese describe it as an initiative, which is evidence of the concept’s vagueness. It has become obvious that China’s considerable financial resources will be only used on commercial principles, which does not always match the Silk Road countries’ interests and possibly even the geopolitical considerations of their political leadership.

In response to the Chinese initiative, Russia advanced an even more ambitious project of a Greater Eurasian Partnership, which should incorporate the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and even the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In this context, China’s Silk Road Economic Belt is just one of the projects under the umbrella of Russia’s Eurasian concept. However, Russia lacks the resources and integration ties with the numerous countries of the Euro-Pacific space for implementing this ambitious concept. The idea was proposed in response to the US Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), which has been put on hold but not completely cancelled. The proposed combination of the EAEU with China’s Silk Road Economic Belt is a forced compromise. The idea of a new kind of equal and mutually beneficial Eurasian cooperation reaching to the Pacific Coast looks good on paper and in the deliberations of political analysts. It also corresponds to Russia’s national idea. But who will implement this idea and with what resources? As the Indonesians say, good meals are the main attraction of a meeting.

In other words, Russia will need to rally great political efforts together to reach an agreement with its potential partners in Eurasia and to add some competitive flesh to this idea. This cannot be done without China as the biggest economy in Eurasia. At least, Russia’s plans and efforts must not run counter to the plans of the rapidly rising Eurasian great power and cannot be implemented without its contribution. Will this strengthen the independence of Russia’s foreign policy and foreign economic strategy in Asia Pacific? This is an open-ended question. 

Georgy Toloraya is Director of the Center for Asian Strategy at the Institute of Economics, Russian Academy of Sciences; Executive Director of the Russian National Committee on BRICS Research; Chair of Regional Programs at the Russky Mir Foundation; Professor,  Head of the Chair of Oriental Studies at MGIMO University

Policy Response to Low Fertility in China: Too Little, Too Late?

24/05/2017 Wang Feng Economy

Courtesy of DurhamDundee/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This article was originally published by the East-West Center in April 2017.


In 1970, Chinese women were having an average of nearly six children each. Only nine years later, this figure had dropped to an average of 2.7 children per woman. This steep fertility decline was achieved before the Chinese government introduced the infamous one-child policy. Today, at 1.5 children per woman, the fertility rate in China is one of the lowest in the world. Such a low fertility level leads to extreme population aging–expansion of the proportion of the elderly in a population, with relatively few children to grow up and care for their aging parents and few workers to pay for social services or drive economic growth. China’s birth-control policies are now largely relaxed, but new programs are needed to provide healthcare and support for the growing elderly population and to encourage young people to have children. It will be increasingly difficult to fund such programs, however, as China’s unprecedented pace of economic growth inevitably slows down.

China’s Fertility Decline

Most of China’s fertility decline took place in the 1970s, before the government launched its one-child policy in 1980 (see Figure 1). During the 1980s, fertility fluctuated, for the most part above the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman, which would maintain a constant population size. Then in the early 1990s, fertility declined to below-replacement level, and since then it has further declined to around 1.5 children per woman today. If very low birth rates persist, eventually the population starts to shrink, and it can shrink very quickly. Today’s low fertility could lead to a decline in China’s population by as many as 600 million people by the end of the 21st century.

Figure 1. United Nations estimates of total fertility rate (average number of births per women) in China, 1950-2015

The Chinese government has been exceptionally slow to recognize this problem. In response to concerns about low fertility, the government finally announced, in November 2013, a cautious step toward phasing out its 30-year-old one-child policy. Couples in which one or both are only children are allowed to have two children. Despite the enthusiastic popular response to the announcement, however, there was little change in fertility behavior. As of August 2015, nearly two years after the new policy was initiated, only 1.69 million couples had applied to have a second birth. This represents about 15 percent of the estimated 11 million eligible couples, far below all the projections made before the policy change.

In November 2015, in part due to this lukewarm response to the partial relaxation of the one-child policy, the Chinese government announced the total lifting of the one-child rule, allowing couples to have two children without getting prior approval. In 2016, the first year following the end of the one-child policy, China reported 18.46 million births, a number that is only 1.4 million higher than the average number of birth in the preceding five years. Despite the government’s claim that such a limited increase is within its expectations, this rebound is well below the increase in births that the government had projected, which was between 2.3 and 4.3 million a year.

Such a weak response in the early days of a historical policy change illustrates the much broader challenges facing the Chinese government today. In addition to abolishing the one-child policy, China needs to introduce policies and programs that will make it easier for people to have children. Programs are also required to provide financial support and healthcare for the country’s rapidly growing elderly population.

Low Fertility Is Here To Stay

China’s steep fertility decline occurred as the nation entered a phase of broad social and economic reforms and an unprecedented economic boom. During the most recent phase of falling fertility–the two decades beginning in the early 1990s–China saw the fastest pace of urbanization, expansion of higher education, and improvement in living standards in the nation’s history.

Income levels increased by nearly tenfold, and the share of China’s population residing in urban areas nearly doubled. Secondary-school enrollment more than doubled, and college and university enrollment increased eightfold. Two important forces linked to this rapid economic change contributed to China’s steady fertility decline–a shift of the cost of childrearing from the collective to the family and intensified pressure to “get ahead,” generated by the opportunities and uncertainties associated with a period of hyper economic growth.

Beginning in the early 1980s, China’s socialist planned economic system started to break down, first in the rural areas and then in the cities. Under the socialist system, the state and the collective had supplied considerable support for childrearing, as well as food, housing, and employment. During the early years of the reforms, in rural areas in particular, public education and healthcare systems deteriorated rapidly, which shifted the cost of education and healthcare to individual families.

Since the early 1980s, massive numbers of young people have moved from the countryside to the cities, motivated by unprecedented economic opportunities. Housing prices skyrocketed, especially in China’s major cities. Suddenly, young parents who grew up in the post-Mao era realized that having children is truly expensive, both in terms of time and money.

The weak response to the government’s relaxation of the one-child policy conveys a clear message: Many young Chinese think it is too expensive to have children. Studies of the preferred number of children among Chinese couples all portray a similar picture–the one-child family is the new norm.

Indeed, surveys find that less than 30 percent of qualified couples want to have a second child. This suggests that even if the government’s birth-control policy were completely dismantled, fertility would increase only modestly. If young Chinese men and women act on their fertility preferences, then China will have below-replacement fertility for a long time to come.

Short- and Long-Term Implications

The prolonged period of below-replacement fertility during the past two decades is contributing to a dramatic acceleration of population aging. China’s latest census reported that in 2010 nearly 14 percent of the population was age 60 and above. Assuming a fertility level of 1.47, which is very close to the current level, the proportion of Chinese age 60 and above will rise to 25 percent by 2030. Over the same period, the number of Chinese in this age group will increase from about 180 million to more than 350 million (Figure 2). This places China, along with South Korea, Taiwan, and to some extent Japan, among the fastest-aging societies in the world.

Figure 2. Population aging in China: Size of population age 60 and above (red bars) and ratio of population age 20-59 to population age 60 and above (black line), 2012-2030 (based on an assumed total fertility rate of 1.47).


Prolonged low fertility and the associated rate of population aging pose daunting challenges for policymakers. The ratio between the working-age population age 20-59 and retired persons age 60 and above will be more than halved over a 20-year period–from almost five workers for every elderly person in 2010 to only two in 2030 (Figure 2). The economic ramifications of this shift are many, ranging from labor-force supply, levels of saving and investment, tax burden, consumption patterns, and the welfare of all age groups.

China’s three-decades-long enforcement of the one-child policy has also resulted in a special feature–a large share of Chinese families with only one child. China now has more than 150 million families with one child, or one in every three households in the nation. And in urban areas, more than 90 percent of families headed by young couples have only one child. Many of these only children, when they grow up, will face a substantial burden of providing care and economic support to their elderly parents–either through taxes that pay for government pensions and services, or within the family, or both.

Policy Response to Low Fertility

China’s policy response to below-replacement fertility and to rapid population aging has been extraordinarily slow. It took researchers almost a decade to confirm the drop in fertility, and it took the Chinese government another decade to accept the findings of scholars. After years of resistance and denial, the government seems to have finally come to terms with the new demographic reality. In addition to lifting the one-child policy, China also announced a gradual extension of the retirement age.

But even with the latest policy changes, the Chinese government has not given up its control over reproduction: couples are still not allowed to have more than two children. Retaining this last control is perhaps a political face- saving strategy, but it serves no good demographic or social purpose.

Apart from reforming birth-control policies, the Chinese government faces two daunting tasks. One is to reform the nation’s social security and healthcare systems, and the second is to create more family-friendly conditions for young couples who want to pursue careers and start a family.

China’s social-security system is currently highly inadequate and inequitable. In 2010, only about 30 percent of the elderly relied on public transfers, such as pensions, as their major source of income, and almost all of those receiving pensions were urban residents.

The same is true for the healthcare system. While coverage has been extended in recent years–in principle, to the entire population–the level of coverage varies widely among different segments of society. With costs rising much faster than incomes, the current system is not only inadequate and unfair, but also unsustainable.

In addition, the Chinese government will need to initiate policies that support young couples who wish to have children. Today, the lack of accessible and affordable childcare and problems in balancing work and family life are becoming major factors affecting fertility.

All these reforms and policy changes will become more difficult to introduce and implement than in the past because China’s period of very rapid economic growth has come to an end. The growth rate of government revenue is slowing down just as the demand to support young families and the elderly is going up.

It did not take long for China to reach below-replacement fertility. It only took one decade to bring fertility down from more than five to close to two children per woman and only one more decade of fluctuation around the replacement level for fertility to fall even further. What took a long time was the official recognition of fertility decline and the beginning of a policy response. As a result of this delay, China has lost precious time either to slow down the process of population aging or to prepare for the effects of the new demographic reality on Chinese society.


This policy brief is based on “China’s Long Road Toward Recognition of Below-Replacement Fertility,” by Wang Feng (2015). In Ronald R. Rindfuss and Minja Kim Choe (eds). Low and Lower Fertility: Variations across Developed Countries. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

About the Author

Wang Feng is Professor of Sociology at University of California, Irvine, and Invited Professor at the School of Social Development and Public Policy, Fudan University, China

The Risk of Nuclear Catastrophe under Trump

26/05/2017 Rebecca Friedman Lissner Security

Courtesy of rocor/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 23 May 2017.

Growing tension on the Korean Peninsula has returned the unimaginable terror of nuclear war to the American public consciousness. The danger is a global one: Nine states possess nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons and the detonation of even one of these weapons could cause humanitarian and economic catastrophe. Although the use of a nuclear weapon by a state or non-state actor is unlikely, it is not impossible, and the risk may be growing. Indeed, such a rare event can be evaluated in terms of a simple risk-assessment formula: probability multiplied by consequences.

Given the enormous consequences of nuclear use, even small fluctuations in probability warrant attention. Some variation will arise from changes in the international environment, such as technological advances that make nuclear command and control systems more or less vulnerable to cyber-attack, or fluctuation in the level of tension between nuclear-armed rivals like India and Pakistan. But as the world’s most powerful state, with its own vast nuclear arsenal as well as a record of leadership in nonproliferation and nuclear security efforts, the United States plays an important role in moderating —– or enhancing —– the likelihood of nuclear use.

President Donald Trump’s comments during the campaign and transition prompted widespread concern about his cavalier attitude toward, and lack of knowledge about, the world’s deadliest weapons. Since taking office, he has tempered his rhetoric somewhat —– but more than 100 days into the Trump administration, there are early warning signs indicating the president’s policies could increase the risk of nuclear catastrophe.

Setting aside accidental launch or detonation, the most likely scenarios for the intentional or miscalculated use of a nuclear weapon are nuclear detonation by a state during crisis or wartime, and nuclear use by a non-state actor, such as a terrorist group. While this president is nothing if not unpredictable, it is both important and possible to sketch out how such a nuclear use might play out. The five risks described below are meant as a starting point for that discussion.

Risk #1: Nuclear First-Use by the United States

First, the president has the sole authority to launch nuclear weapons through the “nuclear triad” of land, sea, and air-launched systems. The horrific consequences, fear of retaliation, and extraordinary capabilities of U.S. conventional forces militate against nuclear use in all but the most extreme circumstances. Nonetheless, Trump’s impulsive temperament, obsession with projecting strength, and aversion to normative constraints may make him more prone to nuclear use than other recent presidents. Beyond these already-perceptible presidential proclivities, the Nuclear Posture Review —– which recently began under Pentagon leadership —– will elucidate the administration’s declaratory nuclear doctrine, providing the first concrete indication of scenarios in which the Trump administration would consider nuclear use.

Risk #2: Inadvertent Nuclear Escalation

Second, the Trump administration’s penchant for sending mixed signals increases the risk of misperception in the event of a crisis or war involving another nuclear state. Trump is famously mercurial, abruptly changing positions on issues ranging from NATO’s obsolescence to the desirability of nuclear proliferation. Rather than allowing the White House communications staff to clarify his positions, Trump often contradicts them. In December, for example, when aides sought to soften Trump’s call for the United States to “strengthen and expand” its nuclear arsenal, Trump went on the record a second time to threaten an arms race. Moreover, senior national security aides frequently stake out divergent policy positions – with the president’s apparent encouragement — as exhibited by the slew of incompatible explanations for Trump’s April decision to launch cruise missiles into Syria. The result is confusion surrounding whose statements represent administration policy —– a whiplash effect most recently on display in the back-and-forth on North Korea. Though the president seems to believe unpredictability creates bargaining leverage, it also prevents the administration from credibly telegraphing its intentions. This dynamic makes diplomacy difficult and privileges potentially escalatory military displays to demonstrate seriousness. If a crisis were to reach boiling point, the Trump administration would struggle to turn down the heat by credibly signaling restraint or limited aims. Moreover, amidst rising tensions, a weaker adversary would have little choice but to engage in worst-case-scenario planning, and a threatening tweet impulsively dispatched by the president could provoke a foreign leader to gamble on a first strike rather than risk U.S. preemption. Beyond contingencies that directly implicate the United States, Trump’s slippery reputation could also hinder his ability to arbitrate international disputes involving nuclear powers —– for example, if war were to break out between India and Pakistan.

Risk #3: A Lower Global Nuclear Threshold

Third, Trump has tempered his most incendiary campaign rhetoric on the subject of nuclear weapons —– but serious consequences would accompany a return to positions that promote nuclear proliferation and lower the normative threshold for nuclear use. Encouraging U.S. allies and partners like South Korea, Japan, and Saudi Arabia to go nuclear —– whether explicitly or by stoking fears of abandonment —– could spark atomic arms races in already-unstable regions. In addition, the administration’s recent extension of sanction waivers suggests its intent to abide by the terms of the Iran nuclear deal —– but a presidential decision to abrogate the “worst deal ever,” whether through outright withdrawal or accumulated acts of subtle sabotage, would likely spark an acute crisis. Proliferation risks would be further compounded by threats to use nuclear weapons first in unnecessary contingencies, such as against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, eroding the non-use norm that has contributed to nuclear restraint since 1945.

How might the Trump administration’s policies affect the likelihood of nuclear use by non-state actors? Terrorist groups are liable to use whatever lethal material they can get their hands on —– as demonstrated by the Islamic State’s employment of rudimentary chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria —– so the critical limiting factors are access to nuclear weapons, material, and expertise, and the ability to move it across international borders. Two additional factors will impact the U.S. government’s ability, in concert with international partners, to thwart such threats.

Risk #4: Diminished Domestic Capacity to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

The United States’ capacity to counter nuclear terrorism will depend on the Trump administration’s resource decisions. Within the U.S. government, responsibility for the prevention of WMD terrorism is spread across numerous agencies with interlocking functions: From Department of Energy labs developing nuclear detection technology, to the Department of Homeland Security conducting radiological monitoring at U.S. ports, to intelligence and law enforcement agencies tracking threats, to the State Department coordinating with other countries to limit the spread of nuclear weapons globally, to Department of Defense training special operations forces to render safe nuclear weapons or material. Sustaining such capacity requires personnel and funding. The administration’s slow pace of political appointments creates risk by hobbling agency leadership, hindering inter-agency collaboration at the senior level, and creating a vacuum when it comes to defining affirmative policy priorities. The extent to which the Trump administration seeks funding for nuclear security-related programs in their proposed fiscal year 2018 budget —– expected to be released on May 23 —– will indicate the level of priority the administration assigns to mitigating WMD terrorism risk. (The Trump administration’s budget blueprint does not specifically address this issue.)

Risk #5: Weakened International Nuclear Security Cooperation

Finally, a withdrawal from international nonproliferation and nuclear material security cooperation could increase the risk of nuclear use by a non-state actor. If the Trump administration follows through on its avowed skepticism of multilateral institutions —– most notably the U.N. system —– critical cooperative mechanisms could be placed in jeopardy. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), for example, is a U.N. agency that advances best practices in safeguarding nuclear material around the world. It maintains a global database for tracking lost or stolen nuclear materials, among other vital functions. The IAEA relies on U.S. contributions for roughly a quarter of its budget and withholding those funds would severely hinder its effectiveness. Similarly, an administration disdainful of U.N. bodies is unlikely to break the diplomatic logjam over restrictions on the production of nuclear material through the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, and may not insist upon stringent IAEA safeguards as a precondition for future agreements on civil nuclear cooperation. Beyond formal institutions, the Obama administration initiated a Nuclear Security Summit process, which convened global leaders to take concrete steps toward reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism. Whether the Trump administration maintains this focus and pushes for implementation of commitments made at past summits will further impact risk going forward.

Nuclear detonation, whether by a state or non-state actor, remains an extremely remote possibility, and the risk of such a rare event is difficult to quantify. Nonetheless, the catastrophic consequences of nuclear use demand attention —– not only from the White House, but also from Congress and the American people. Fortunately, the Trump administration is still in its early days and has ample opportunity for progress. “I hate nuclear more than any,” the president said during the 2016 campaign when asked about nuclear weapons. Action to address the five risks described above —– as part of a comprehensive nonproliferation and nuclear security agenda —– will signal the seriousness of the administration’s effort to reduce nuclear dangers.

About the Author

Dr Rebecca Friedman Lissner is a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Previously, she served as a Special Advisor to the US Deputy Secretary of Energy

The Beginning(s) and End(s) of the International Order

29/05/2017 Glenda Sluga International Relations

Courtesy of caratello/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 22 May 2017.

These days, the pulse of the world’s political health is running fast. The general prognosis is terminal, the end of the international world order, as we know it. But determining what order we are on the verge of losing could do with more diagnosis, including tracking the symptoms of the disorder (and order) back to their beginnings. One of the useful roles that historians can play in this regard is to offer a longer view of what we have lost, or, at least, the international order that seems to be disappearing from view.  So bear with me as I offer a “Cook’s tour” of two centuries in search of the point where the end possibly began, in order to understand better the history of the aims—or “ends”—of international order itself.


European historians have long assumed that the early nineteenth century made “international” politics possible: In 1814, after decades of continental wars against French hegemony, a coalition led by Russia, including Sweden, Prussia, Austria, and Britain (as well as some smaller now non-existent sovereignties) emerged victorious and established what became known as the “Congress system.” At its most basic, this comprised negotiations through discussion—famously identified with the Congress of Vienna—and transnational cooperation in the interests of permanent peace. In the years that followed, ambassadorial conferences in London, and occasional conferences around the smaller towns of the European continent, became a method for managing territorial and ideological flashpoints.  Within a few years, the British foreign minister Lord Castlereagh confidently reported to his Prime Minister the practical value of this transformation of European politics:

how much solid good grows out of these Reunions, which sound so terrible at a distance. It realy [sic] appears to me to be a new discovery in the Science of European Government at once extinguishing the Cobwebs, with which Diplomacy obscures the Horizon – bringing the Whole bearing of the system into its true light, and giving to the Counsels of the great Powers the Efficiency and almost the simplicity of a Single State.[1]

As startling was the sense of the scope of those “Counsels”. The Russian Tsar Alexander saw the congress system as a means of pursuing philanthropic projects, and “some new European conception” [quelque nouvelle conception européenne”], on the model of the “federative European system”.[2]  One site of this “revolution” was the Committee structure, designated for discussion of the idea of a Germany confederation, Swiss borders, sovereignty in Tuscany, the territorial claims of Sardinia and Genoa, and also the Slave Trade and the Free Navigation of Rivers. Guided by Wilhelm von Humboldt—the Prussian political thinker-cum-administrator/diplomat—Free Navigation invoked “principles” for regulating taxes that could be raised by the states bordering on the Rhine “in the mode the most impartial, and the most favourable to the commerce of all nations”; the facilitation of  “the communications between nations … to render them less strangers to each other”; and the extension of the Rhine’s provisions to other rivers, which “in their navigable course, separate or traverse different states” (here Humboldt was thinking of the Neckar, Mein, Moselle, Meuse, and Escaut).[3]  Humboldt believed the Congress system could be used to invent institutions and structures that would complement principles “so general” that the free movement of commerce would not be affected “by local diverse circumstances, or by war”. [4]

The entangled rhetoric of political and economic liberty was evident among the members of the Slave Trade Committee, although in this case, the British Foreign Minister Castlereagh, who led the discussion, portrayed the slave trade as “a commerce incompatible with the Christian religious principles of universal morality and humanity”. This was not a question of his own feeling; Castlereagh had no personal objection to the slave trade. Instead, when he stated that abolition of the slave trade was exemplary of “the principles of natural and enlightened justice” which shaped “the times in which we live”, he was communicating the position taken by his government in response to the demands of a broader British public.[5]  This is the context in which the wily French Foreign Minister Talleyrand added that “a similar declaration would be well received by the sane and enlightened public of all countries, and that it would bring honour to the Congress”.[6] Even the reputedly arch-conservative Metternich concurred, stating that although the outcome was not relevant to countries without colonies “there was nothing foreign to them in regard to the importance of the good of humanity”.[7]

There was of course also the dissenting point of view of the Spanish, who challenged the right of the Congress system to decide the legislation of nations or moral questions. When Castlereagh conceded that slavery might be thought of as a question for each state, a clause was added to the peace treaty allowing a suitable compromise between “the wishes of humanity” and “the concerns of the interests and rights of independent powers”. [8] (The Spanish, Portuguese, and French were allowed to set their own timetables for abolition). This outcome too suggests 1814 as the origin of the national economic priorities of the international order as we know it.

The Congress also introduced modern diplomatic procedures, to save the “amour propre of states,” making the space of international communication and relations more dispassionate. This was the principle of “ceremonial equality”, exercised either by preparing multiple copies of a multilateral treaty with the name of each signatory appearing at the top of his copy; or by using a (French-based) alphabetical order for signatures, thereby defusing any intimation of an implicit hierarchy of power.  Similar thinking was applied to the presentation of diplomats in courts, now decided by seniority according to the date of the official notification of an ambassador’s arrival at a particular embassy.[9]

The Oxford historian, Paul W. Schroeder, maintains that in 1814 statesmen had learnt

from bitter experience that war was revolution… [and] that something else even more fundamental to the existence of ordered society as they knew it was vulnerable and could be overthrown: the existence of any international order at all, the very possibility of their states’ coexisting as independent members of a European family of nations.[10]

Tidying up after nearly a quarter of a century of continental clashes, these men recognized the value of “intermediary bodies …of concert and grouping methods” and international politics “restrained by consensus and bounded by law”, to the ends of peace.[11]  In their hands, congressing brought together strategic issues, economic concerns, and moral complexities. It also generated, de facto, the possibility of an “international society.” That term is Hedley Bull’s, another Oxford (Australian-born) political scientist who, in the 1970s and 80s, used it to describe the perception of common interests at an international level, and cooperation in the working of common international institutions. [12]

It is easy to pick moral and political holes in these visions of the significance of the 1814 international order. The Committee structure that complemented the ancien settings of diplomatic sociability—whether dinners, balls, or salons—removed women from the evolving practices of High Politics, and erased the historical memory of women-led salons as the training ground of the professional (male) diplomat’s requisite conversational techniques.[13]  Similarly, the modernization of diplomacy involved the delimitation of the geopolitical boundaries of international politics. In 1814, Britain initiated a long tradition of excluding from the sight of European peacemaking its own maritime and colonial interests, refusing to include its ongoing war with America on the congress of Vienna agenda; that process was dealt with separately by the British in the town of Ghent around the same time. And then, there were the European statesmen (Metternich excepted) who wanted the Ottomans left out of this new “international” society. Nor was a century of peace guaranteed in the way that historians often claimed; we need only think of the Europe-instigated battles in Spain, and Ottoman and Persian territories, and in the appalling Crimean war (1853-1856). International “order” and international “society” were always a work-in-progress.


More than a century passes before we arrive at another familiar historical beginning, the end of the First World War, when once again the statesmen of an alliance fighting for Europe’s future reconfigured an international order. This time the cast had changed, and broadened—America was now in arms with Britain leading a European coalition, joined by new countries like Australia and New Zealand, and older empires Japan and China, against a foe led by Austria-Hungary, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire.

1814 was not forgotten. The British historian and political advisor to the peace, Charles Webster, went back to the 1814 archive in search of lessons for a postwar peace. By contrast, and more surprisingly, Woodrow Wilson, the (former historian) president of the United States, cast 1814 as the “shreds and patches” antithesis of his own vision for an international order “based upon broad and universal principles of right and justice” and “permanent peace.”  The Wilson vision, he argued to the U.S. Congress, was based on “international action and … international counsel” conducted “in a spirit of unselfish and unbiased justice, with a view to the wishes, the natural connections, the racial aspirations, the security, and the peace of mind of the peoples involved”. [14] Which sounds an awful lot like the rhetoric of 1814. there were other points of continuity, given that the twin principles of the 1919 peace, national self-determination and a League of Nations, resonated what the German historian Friedrich  Meinecke described as the dominant temper of the new order of 1814, when “[n]ational autonomy and universal federation impelled each other like two engaged gears”. [15]

What was different a century later was less due to Wilson, than to the changing political form and status of “the state” as a way of organizing political cultures, and the scientific popularity of race as its defining characteristic. There were other novelties, including the establishment of an International Labour Organization on the view that social justice was important for the maintenance of world peace (or as a pragmatic counterweight to the siren call of the Bolshevik Revolution), and that health, commerce, slavery, colonialism might all require forms of international governance in the modern age of interdependence.

There were new limits to this vision of an international order and international society. Who could belong? Only nation-states. To be sure, the earlier peacemakers never spoke of “racial aspirations”. And thanks to Wilson, the new international order would not embed racial equality as a principle of the League’s Covenant, despite the requests of wartime allies Japan and China.[16] Wilson forced the rejection of a clause in the Covenant of the League of Nations declaring the principle of racial equality, even though the majority of peacemakers in 1919 agreed to Japanese demands for its inclusion.[17] In this new international order, national-states such as the United States and Australia were to have the right to determine their immigration policies on grounds of racial discrimination, as a point of national sovereignty.  When the League of Nations failed to prevent a Second World War, there were recriminations aplenty about the national and racial emphases of the 1919 international order, to the extent that everyone preferred to just forget it all together.


The end of the Second World War, stands out in current discussions as the moment that marks the international order under threat today, born of the destruction and hopefulness that framed the United Nations Conference on International Organization held in San Francisco in 1945. However, we can also claim that its principles were well in place by this time: from the possibility of international politics, to the ambition of permanent peace; from the methods of diplomacy and international society, to the mutually reinforcing status of the nation-state and international cooperation. What had changed was that the United States—which had pursued an isolationist path in the 1920s and 1930s—was now indisputably the leader of these trends and their transformation into a new international order.

The document that eventually gave that order its distinctive 20th century feel—the Atlantic Charter—was agreed between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in 1941, signed onto by China and the Soviet Union, as well as a broad swathe of British Commonwealth, Central American and Caribbean states, East and West European governments in exile, and later African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American countries. As a result, the world-scale of international politics was in full view at San Francisco, just as the Atlantic Charter’s catchphrase “freedom from fear and want” spoke to the post-war ambitions of a much broader and representative international public. The spectre haunting this new democratically-inclined international order was the figure of the refugee, the human being left stateless, or unprotected by war, by changing boundaries, and by states targeting their own citizens. While international governance now stretched into an ever-widening expanse of modern life—crises, education, science, food and agriculture, health, trade and capital needs—its moral cause was increasingly oriented around the concept of human rights.

There was then much that was different again about the seeds of international society in this 1945 international order, and the scope of the international imagination and law that fed its ambitions.  Even the evolution of the European Union from economic to political entity was coddled in the post-war popularity of a renewed narrative of progress and permanent peace and “One World”.

But there were also the curious strategic remnants of the wartime alliances frozen in the membership, and veto power, of the UN Security Council, whose members were a select few: the US, UK, USSR, France, and China. This is the UN that survived the Cold War, that became a critical, if not always vocal, forum for managing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, overseeing decolonization and development, and occasionally calling out proxy Third World “hot wars”; but it seemed the world was just going through the motions of conferencing and diplomacy, and the rule of international law.


Of all the versions of an international order that might be coming to an end, the least likely might have begun in 1975. But it is worth considering “The Declaration of a “New International Economic Order” made at a Sixth Special Session of the UN General Assembly that year.  This was the moment when, in the face of evidence of mounting inequality between the Gross National Product [GNP] of “developed” (old imperial) and “developing” (colonial and post-colonial) parts of the world, the latter worked through the UN to demand an equal place at the international table. A new international economic order was supposed to eradicate the economic and even cultural remnants of imperialism.

There were echoes in 1975 of the 1919 social justice themes, however, more than half a century later, race and imperialism as part of the old international order were under the microscope. This was potentially a new beginning, an attempt to reset the international order as a post-imperial order.  Instead, it led the American government of the time to take against the UN and, in the words of President Gerald Ford, “the tyranny of the majority”. At most, we might argue this failed new international order left its mark by forcing limited concessions from the developed states, not equality but the benchmark of developed states” “aid” commitments to the developing world set at 0.7% of GNP.[18] If that fraction is no longer holding, then perhaps 1975 should count as one beginning of the end of a 20th century international order?


1989, the end of the Cold War, looks promising. The international players, the practices, the premises appeared to line up as a new moment of global thinking built around multilateralism and the UN system, and with international law on the ascendant. Now the world had International Criminal Tribunals in Arusha and The Hague to bring crimes against humanity and genocide to trial, on the promise of 1945.

The UN also became the heart of  “Human Security,” a slogan that echoed the 1945 themes of “freedom from fear and want”, with an emphasis on international responsibility for war and poverty tackled bottom-up (women now had a place in the international order as economic “fixers”) rather than top-down. Added to that was the Responsibility to Protect, or R2P. Both Human Security and R2P were arguments for international intervention, even at the cost of taking on national sovereignty. Is this the relatively short-lived, perhaps stillborn, beginning of the now ailing international order?


The unimaginable events of 11 September 2001 remind us that international orders are born of war-making as much as peace-making, and that the past marks the present in unpredictable ways.  The terror attacks on the United States briefly revived the idea of a global, regionally-inclusive, multilaterally-motivated “international society”; but it also, as swiftly, unleashed unilateral military campaigns, and created new alliances. More fundamentally it a renewed a view of the world unhinged at the point of East and West, but whereas during the Cold War these oppositions stood for communism and liberalism, respectively, now they represented a bipolar world view of Muslim and Christian cultures (as if each of these were homogenous, and there were no other religions in the fray).

This living story is too familiar to warrant repeating here. Except to note that—regardless of whether we prefer as our start date 1814, 1919, 1945, 1973 or 1989—in 2001 the end might have already begun.


When we pick our way back to a beginning, sorting through the detritus and collateral damage rotting on the highways of the international past, the easier it is to discern some consistent points of orientation: an emphasis on cooperation and rules, on the methods of diplomacy and conferencing on an expanding multilateral scale, and, ultimately, the aim of peace. Each of these has been regularly institutionalized and normalized as the basis of international politics, and society, consciously reinvented, renewed and “reset,” at moments of crisis and opportunity.

Over the last two centuries, as membership of the international society has shifted, adapted and grown, so have the ambitions annexed to the possibilities of international politics and order—usually echoing changes in national political cultures.  In 1919, in 1945, in 1973, economic and social welfare dimensions were actually written into international order scripts, not out of the selfless generosity of the world’s great powers, but as antidotes to the acknowledged causes of war, among them the economic and cultural inequalities that they had helped create, between imperial and colonised countries, between the rich and poor in their own states.

Of course, other scraps of evidence could as easily lead us to the 1885 Berlin conference, where the European powers used international conferencing to “peacefully” carve up Africa for their separate imperial interests; or to the 1938 Evian conference, which was meant to bring the plight of Jewish refugees to the attention of international society, but exposed instead the extent to which even states that saw themselves as bulwarks of a liberal international order, like Australia, only accepted a minimum number of Jews, because its government felt morally pressured to do so.[19] Even that moment can be traced back to 1814, when the Congress system also spawned the idea of a Christian international order.

Which brings me back to history: Does the story we tell about the beginnings or ends of international order still matter? In 2014, two key figures in the world today took the measure of the contemporary world with specific reference to the previous two centuries, although not as we might expect. Angela Merkel, as German Chancellor (of course, Germany as a defeated power in 1945 is not on the UN Security Council), bewailed the damage that the Russian state’s support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s Crimea had wrought on international norms, arguing that Russia’s cynical military and strategic policy was evidence of “[a]ctions modeled on those of the 19th and 20thcentury… carried out in the 21st century”; of “[t]he law of the strong … pitted against the strength of the law, and one-sided geopolitical interests … placed ahead of efforts to reach agreement and cooperation.”[20]

Eight months later, the Moscow Times reported on a monument to Tsar Alexander newly erected near the Kremlin, and on the “historical justice” of having President Vladimir Putin participate in the unveiling ceremony.[21] As the separatists ramped up their military efforts in the Ukraine under Putin’s helpful gaze and against the tenets of an international system of politics “restrained by consensus and bounded by law”, the same Russian President described Alexander as one of the founders of a system of European security in 1814, when “conditions for the so-called balance were created, based not only on mutual respect for the interests of different countries, but also on moral values”.[22] (The Moscow Times also attributed to 1814 the “origin of the current cultural and political split in Ukraine”, its territories divided between the eastern and western cultures of Russia and Austria by the Congress committees).[23]

We might note the tragedy of Putin’s regrettable and perhaps ambiguous identification with the Tsar of 1814, in contrast to Merkel’s relatively judicious assemblage of the shortcomings of 19th and 20th century international politics and diplomacy. But Putin, perhaps only for a domestic audience, was restoring a memory of the international scope of the international past of European diplomacy and politics.[24] Meanwhile, Merkel favoured a view of the privileged work of the present and future.[25]

There are certainly differences that constitute the 21stcentury as we now know it: political scientists diagnose no single international society, rather “contested multilateralism” and “heteropolarity”, even as the universalizing language of human rights, and humanity persist.[26] Meanwhile, the gestures by governments looking on in dismay have not yet been matched with meaningful discussion of the international order under attack, what they might do about it as members of an international society, or the precepts of the existing international order they grieve. One reason may be the identification of the United States, long the axis of modern international society, with the virus of radical nationalism threatening the international order; another, that the UN which might otherwise have provided fora for such discussions has fallen into a moral hole of its own member-states digging; or even that many of those same anxious governments have been guilty of challenging the rules and laws of the international order, including most obsessively the rights of refugees.

It is obvious too that the memory, or history, of an international order, wherever we decide it begins or ends, is hardly a magic pill.  But as statesmen turn to ad hoc foreign policy by tweet, and belligerent soundbites by phone, and refugees are portrayed as threats to national security rather than victims, it may be time to resuscitate the importance of “international society” as an ambition, a means and ends of international order. Even if we care less about the Tsar or Castlereagh in 1814, we might find it salutary to remember the ends of international orders through the last two hundred years consistently demanded some gesture to peace and a shared moral compass—whether in the figure of the slave, or the refugee, or social and economic justice. At its most fundamental, the lesson the past teaches us was learnt in 1814: the role of diplomacy, conferencing, and the value of even rhetorical invocations of “humanity” and international society. Maybe it is time to take the talking cure, not just to link us to the international past, but to find our bearings for an international future.


[1] Castlereagh to Liverpool, Aix, 20 Oct 1818, ff 67-8. Ms 38566, Liverpool Papers, British Library.

[2] Friedrich Gentz, on the Tsar, 18 Apr 1818, Dépêches inédites du chevalier de Gentz aux hospodars de Valachie pour servir à l’histoire de la politique européenne (1813 à 1828) (E.Plon et cie, 1877), 388.

[3] “Baron Humboldt’s Project for the Regulation of the Congress, Vienna, September 1814,” in Great Britain Foreign Office, Peace Handbooks, no. 153 (London, 1920), Appendix IV, (Dec 1945), 532-554.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Castlereagh, “Protocoles des Conferences des Huit Puissances relative a l’abolition de la traité des Nègres pendant le Congrès de Viènne,” St.K. Kongressen Akten, 181, Karton 5 5.1, Haus-, Hof– und Staatsarchiv, Vienna, 224; See also Genevieve Peterson, “Political Inequality at the Congress of Vienna”, Political Science Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 4.

[6] Talleyrand, “Protocoles des Conferences des Huit Puissance”, 227.

[7] Metternich, “Protocoles des Conferences des Huit Puissance”, 251.

[8] For more on this debate, see Jerome Reich, “The Slave Trade at the Congress of Vienna – A Study in English Public Opinion” The Journal of Negro History, vol. 53, no. 2, 1968, pp. 129–143,; Ian Clark, International Legitimacy and World Society (Oxford University Press, 2007), ch. 1.

[9]  Randall Lesaffer, “Vienna and the Codification of Diplomatic Law”, Oxford Public International Law (Oxford University Press, 2015),

[10] Paul W. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848, (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1994) p. 802.

[11] Ibid, p. 803.

[12] See Andrew Hurrell, On Global Order: Power, Values, and the Constitution of International Society (Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 3.

[13] For more on this history, see Glenda Sluga, “Women, Diplomacy and International Politics, Before and After the Congress of Vienna”, in Glenda Sluga, Carolyn James (eds.), Women, Diplomacy and International Politics since 1500 (Routledge, 2016), p. 120-136.

[14] Woodrow Wilson, “President Wilson’s Address to Congress Analyzing German and Austrian Peace Utterance11 February 1918” in President Wilson’sState Papers and Addresses (The Review of Reviews Company, 1918), p. 475.

[15] Friedrich Meinecke, Cosmopolitanism and the National-State (Princeton University Press, 2002, first published 1907), p. 118.

[16] For more on this history see Glenda Sluga, The Nation, Psychology, and International Politics (Palgrave, 2007).

[17] Sluga, The Nation, Psychology and International Politics, p. 35 and passim.

[18] OECD, “The 0.7% ODA/GNI target – a history”,

[19] Michael Blakeney, Australia and the Jewish Refugees 1933-1948, (Sydney Croom Helm Australia, 1985), p. 126 ff.

[20] Stefan Wagstyl, Kathrin Hille and Peter Spiegel, “Merkel accuses Russia of adopting ‘law of the jungle’ in Ukraine”, The Financial Times, March 13 2014, accessed

[21] Georgy Bovt, “Putin is inspired by Russian empire”, The Moscow Times, November 25 2014, accessed

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Wagstyl, Hille and Spiegel, “Merkel accuses Russia of adopting ‘law of the jungle’ in Ukraine.”

[25] “Unveiling Monument to Alexander I”, November 20, 2014, Accessed

[26] Julia C. Morse and Robert O. Keohane, “Contested Multilateralism”, The Review of International Organizations 94 (2014): p. 9, 4, 385-412; James Der Derian, “Security in an Age of Heteropolarity” (2011), accessed

About the Author

Glenda Sluga is Professor of International History, and ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellow at the University of Sydney

Guidance for Writing Book Reviews

Canadian Military Journal

In order to contribute to its readers’ understanding of contemporary military and security issues, the Canadian Military Journal reviews new publications of potentially broad significance to the Canadian defence community. Here is some guidance for those who may wish to submit a book review to the Journal. Not all elements covered here are necessary or universally applicable. Individual flair is encouraged, and as always, common sense, fairness, and courtesy should trump all other considerations.Read the book. Resist the temptation to base your review either on a quick scan or on reviews already written in other journals. Before reading the entire work, gain insight into the author’s purpose and method by reading the preface, introduction, and concluding chapter. This will enhance your understanding of the author’s agenda and orient your exploration of his book.Identify the author. As economically as possible, introduce the author to the readership by describing his/her background, prior contributions, and motives in writing this book. Avoid clichés:  trite adjectives and stock descriptions do not ‘pack a punch.’Present an analysis. This is the centre of gravity of the review. While avoiding the temptation to summarize the book, evaluate the author’s success in constructing and presenting his thesis, major themes, and arguments. Present a balanced assessment of the supporting evidence as well as a frank appraisal of the sources used. Judge the author’s style in relation to how it reinforces or weakens his thesis and supporting arguments. Retain a Sense of Proportion.  Do not ‘nit pick.’ Even the best book has flaws, so judge the overall value of the book rather than dwell upon minor criticisms. Point out inaccuracies, misinterpretations and typographical errors when they threaten the integrity of the book. No reviewer is under obligation to be negative; the professional duty is to be critical. Flavour the assessment. Include short and lively quotes or anecdotes that add spice to your review. Tell the reader where and how the book fits into wider literature treating the author’s subject. Specify which type or level of audience would derive the most profit or entertainment from the book. Remain courteous and fair. A book review is an act of scholarship: it mirrors the writer’s common sense and judgment. Reviewers who make personal attacks on the book’s author or resort to petty remarks on content or style undermine their own credibility. Courtesy, maturity, and respect for others remain the hallmarks of even the most critical review.Economy of Effort.  Consider the readership of the Canadian Military Journal as an informed audience. A 500-to-1000 word review on a single book will suffice, but it should not exceed 1000 words. Review essays, which evaluate several books treating the same subject, may be longer.  Do not feel you must say everything there is to say about the book. Leave something to the readers to discover for themselves; do not ‘steal the author’s thunder.’ Personalize your review. To give depth to your review, you may wish to share your own thoughts, recollection, and experiences where they are relevant to the book’s context and purpose.  Avoid assuming an expertise you do not possess. Review the book as the author has written it.  Avoid giving your opinions on what kind of book you feel the author should have written.

The Return of Marco Polo´s World and the US Military Response

Main content

May 2017

This lengthy essay argues that as Europe disappears, Eurasia coheres. In other words, “The supercontinent is becoming one fluid, comprehensible unit of trade and conflict, as the Westphalian system of states weakens and older, imperial legacies – Russian, Chinese, Iranian, [and] Turkish – become paramount. Every crisis from Central Europe to the ethnic-Han Chinese heartland is now interlinked. There is only one singular battlespace.” The question for Continental America, given its status as an 'island' far away from the Eurasian supercontinent, is whether it will be able to “keep its powder dry” or not.

Download English (PDF, 43 pages, 966 KB)

Author Robert D Kaplan
SeriesCNAS Reports

Publisher Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

Copyright© 2017 Center for a New American Security

Why China’s Great Leap Into Kashmir Is An Own-Goal

 29/05/2017 8:48 AM IST | Updated 3 hours ago

Pranesh Prasad


The Indian government's decision to boycott the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has resulted in much debate, with most commentators either castigating or praising the official position. The government's decision is based on two key concerns —

On grounds of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, particularly because BRI's flagship project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), passes through the illegally occupied Gilgit-Baltistan region and Pakistani-held Kashmir.The fact that the BRI initiative is not transparent and its supposed economic benefits could not possibly be balanced and equitable.

The government can be lauded for not blindingly giving in to Chinese rhetoric about inclusive growth and also for providing a reality check to the countries that have lined up for soft Chinese loans. The government understands that the project is really about Chinese peace, prosperity, well-being and global leadership, at the expense of India. That is why CPEC is its flagship project. By increasing connectivity through disputed areas and throughout Pakistan, China is killing many birds with one stone, including neutralising India's Cold Start doctrine.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is god-sent to India

However, both the government and its critiques have failed to acknowledge that the CPEC is actually god sent to an increasingly besieged India for two reasons —

Firstly, because it allows India to turn the argument into one where Indian participation is contingent upon China taking steps to embrace democracy, pluralism, human rights, rule of law and abiding by established international rules. This way, not only the absence of democracy in China and the plight of Tibetans can be highlighted but also the hypocrisy of those who disregard such matters in the hope of gaining business. Moreover, this clears the way for an alternative principled connectivity-based path that India can champion and through which equal alliances can be established.

Secondly, and crucially, CPEC has rendered obsolete the essential demand which forms the core of the Pakistani grievance since 1948 regarding Kashmir, by what can only be labelled as the China-Pakistan Own Goal masquerading as an economic corridor. And, that is the demand of a plebiscite — something which Pakistanis have always harped on, internationally, ever since an inexperienced Nehru administration committed the folly of taking the Kashmir dispute to the United Nations on 1 January 1948.

CPEC has rendered obsolete the essential demand which forms the core of the Pakistani grievance since 1948 — the demand of a plebiscite.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor ensures unfairness and partiality

For a plebiscite to be held in Kashmir, essential preconditions are a must and include fairness and impartiality. Clearly, the Pakistani establishment has never been fair and impartial in Kashmir, and with China entering the fray as its dominant economic partner, even those who are only indoctrinated in Pakistani ideology will have to dig deep to justify that fairness and impartiality are the hallmarks of the Pakistan-China relationship.

Naturally, it is then valid to ask how CPEC ensures that a plebiscite is rendered impossible in Kashmir. Simply because, to protect Chinese economic interests, Pakistan will have to increase the number of security personnel in Gilgit-Baltistan, as well as in the part of Kashmir which they are occupying illegally. And, to ensure that Pakistan is looking after their interests, the Chinese will have to send in more troops too. As such, the UN Security Council Resolution 47 will not only be further violated by Pakistan but also a meddling third-party — China, which is engaged in unconscionable conduct by undertaking business in illegally occupied land. This then pretty much ensures that the precondition of holding a plebiscite in Kashmir can never be put into effect.

But, rather than boxing it in through Chinese and Pakistani design, the CPEC has provided India the opening she was looking for.

It's all about Kashmir

🔴With a plebiscite no longer an option, there is basically one reality — Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir will never be returned to India. And, the only political solution is to turn the Line of Control into a permanent border. Could it be then that this is what both Pakistan and China really want and the strategy in the form of CPEC is to eventually make India realize that the military option is permanently off the table. And, then India can start negotiating on Kashmir? If it were that simple, the political solution would already be in place. Rather,🔷 CPEC is another strategy in the battle for Kashmir.🔷 It will place Pakistan in a position of permanent dependence on China. And, with that established, the rogue state can make more disruptions in Indian Kashmir. In light of this, the

🔴 CPEC is about changing the terms of the Kashmir dispute — India will now potentially be fighting Chinese and Pakistani interests permanently.

But, rather than boxing it in through Chinese and Pakistani design, the CPEC has provided India the opening she was looking for — that Kashmir is in danger because of CPEC; that Pakistan is not pro-Kashmir; and India more than Pakistan stands for Kashmiri rights as only she can safeguard generations from being swallowed up by debt owed to China.

India needs to fix its own house in Kashmir through a series of measures, including articulating properly the detrimental consequences of CPEC on Kashmir, taking steps to connect and integrate Kashmir with the rest of India, creating jobs and empowering the Kashmiri people.

Through CPEC, it is clear yet again that China lacks international diplomacy finesse, for she keeps on overplaying her hand in international relations in an effort to cement national pride — the South China Sea dispute, and now the strategy to constrain India.

The way forward

It must be stressed that creating trouble in parts of CPEC by utilising the Balochi's will be a zero sum outcome. Rather, India needs to fix its own house in Kashmir through a series of measures, including articulating properly the detrimental consequences of CPEC on Kashmir, taking steps to connect and integrate Kashmir with the rest of India, creating jobs and empowering the Kashmiri people. However, most importantly, India actually needs to live up to its claim of being a secular country. If people are free and safe, then they simply won't look to Pakistan and China for support and one does not have to be an economist to know that that is a prerequisite for Indian prosperity