As America falters, her foes are emboldened – by Derek H. Burney (National Post – March 26, 2024)

Profound consequences loom for the United States and the world

Some believe that today’s turbulent world is moving closer to conditions eerily like those of the late 1930s. Authoritarian states — Germany, Italy and Japan — had then seized the advantage over irresolute western democracies who had adopted appeasement in futile attempts to prevent war.

Today’s U.S. administration seems unable to muster support from a bitterly divided and increasingly dysfunctional Congress for military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Roosevelt had similar challenges from an isolationist-inclined Congress during his second term.

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How Silicon Valley learned to love America, drones and glory – by Nitasha Tiku and Elizabeth Dwoskin ( Post – March 2024)

Hundreds of bright young technologists have landed in California this weekend for a two-day hackathon — a quintessential start-up contest in which teams of coders race to build software. But rather than a posh, snack-laden San Francisco office, they’ll work in a cavernous 6,000 square-foot warehouse in El Segundo, a refinery town southwest of Los Angeles.

And instead of building mobile apps or AI chatbots, competitors will hack together surveillance tools, electronic warfare systems, or drone countermeasures for the front lines in Ukraine — battlefield technology driving a funding frenzy among tech investors.

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What the war in Ukraine means for Asia (The Economist – March 2024)

Peace in East Asia hangs to a worrying extent on the outcome of the conflict

When Russia invaded Ukraine it jolted the democracies of East Asia—Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, all allies of America. A trip to Japan suggests to Banyan that, as the conflict in Ukraine enters its third year, its implications for East Asian policymakers grow only starker.

In Europe the talk is of whether Ukraine can hold on despite dwindling American financial support and the spectre of a second Trump presidency. The consequences for peace in Asia would be devastating if Ukraine loses. A win for President Vladimir Putin might embolden China to reshape the regional order on its terms.

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Map reveals the US targets likely to be on Putin’s hit list in a nuclear war – by Steve Charnock ( – March 7, 2024)

Global nuclear tensions and the threat of World War Three seem to ratchet up by the day. While we’re yet to fully enter a cold war, the air is getting rather chilly. It may soon be time for the world to put its ‘big’ coat on.

For certain parts of the United States, however, it’s the other end of the thermometer that should concern them. Cold wars might be scary, but they’re a cool, blissful peace and a blessed relief to the much hotter alternative of a thermonuclear war.

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China expands defense budget 7.2%, marking slight increase (Associated Press – March 4, 2024)

China on Sunday announced a 7.2% increase in its defense budget for the coming year, up slightly from last year’s 7.1% rate of increase. That marks the eighth consecutive year of single-digit percentage point increases in what is now the world’s second-largest military budget. The 2023 figure was given as 1.55 trillion yuan ($224 billion), roughly double the figure from 2013.

Along with the world’s biggest standing army, China has the world’s largest navy and recently launched its third aircraft carrier. According to the U.S., it also has the largest aviation force in the Indo-Pacific, with more than half of its fighter planes consisting of fourth or fifth generation models.

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Putin warns West of risk of nuclear war, says Moscow can strike Western targets – by Vladimir Soldatkin and Andrew Osborn (Reuters – February 29, 2024)

MOSCOW, Feb 29 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin told Western countries on Thursday they risked provoking a nuclear war if they sent troops to fight in Ukraine, warning that Moscow had the weapons to strike targets in the West.

The war in Ukraine has triggered the worst crisis in Moscow’s relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Putin has previously spoken of the dangers of a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia, but his nuclear warning on Thursday was one of his most explicit.

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Germany and Poland say they’re not sending troops to Ukraine as the Kremlin warns of a wider war – by Lorne Cook and Karel Janicek (Associated Press – February 27, 2024)

BRUSSELS (AP) — European military heavyweights Germany and Poland affirmed Tuesday that they would not be sending troops to Ukraine, after reports that some Western countries may be considering doing so as the war with Russia enters its third year.

The head of NATO also said the U.S.-led military alliance has no plans to send troops to Ukraine, after other central European leaders confirmed that they too would not be providing soldiers.

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If You Think World War III Is Unimaginable, Read This – by Niall Ferguson (Bloomberg News – February 11, 2024)

Novelists and filmmakers have long developed alternative histories of major conflicts that should serve as warnings for complacent Americans.

Are we unable to imagine defeat? You might have thought that, having so recently lost a small war, Americans would have no difficulty picturing the consequences of losing a large one. But the humiliating abandonment of Afghanistan in 2021 has been consigned with remarkable swiftness to the collective memory hole.

Presumably a similar process would occur if at some future date the Ukrainian army, starved of ammunition, were overrun by its Russian adversaries. A year ago, US President Joe Biden traveled to Kyiv and told Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy: “You remind us that freedom is priceless; it’s worth fighting for as long as it takes.

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Poland, France and Germany vow to make Europe stronger as fears grow over Russia and Trump – by SYLVIE CORBET, VANESSA GERA and GEIR MOULSON (Associated Press – February 12, 2024)

PARIS (AP) — The governments of Poland, France and Germany vowed Monday to make Europe a security and defense power with a greater ability to back Ukraine, amid concerns that former U.S. President Donald Trump might return to the White House and allow Russia to expand its aggression on the continent.

The foreign ministers of the three countries met in the Paris suburb of La Celle-Saint-Cloud to have talks about Ukraine, amid other issues. They discussed reviving the so-called Weimar Triangle, a long dormant regional grouping that was designed to promote cooperation between France, Germany and Poland.

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Trump’s reckless new world disorder – by John Ivison (National Post – February 12, 2024)

Epochal changes are taking place beyond our borders — including the U.S. potentially leaving NATO. But our politicians slumber on

The world appears to be drifting inexorably towards catastrophe but you wouldn’t know it from watching the House of Commons, where momentous global events are subordinated to the relative domestic trivia of car thefts and carbon taxes.

What will it take to rouse Canadian politicians from their torpor? How about the candidate who is odds on to be the next president of the United States indicating in a speech that he will give Vladimir Putin free rein in Europe, if he is elected?

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NATO leader says Trump puts allies at risk by saying Russia can ‘do whatever the hell they want’ – by Vanessa Gera and Lorne Cook (Associated Press – February 11, 2024)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The head of the NATO military alliance warned Sunday that Donald Trump was putting the safety of U.S. troops and their allies at risk after the Republican presidential front-runner said Russia should be able to do “whatever the hell they want” to NATO members who don’t meet their defense spending targets.

“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

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Canadian miner plans US$1 billion nickel processing plant for EVs – by Jacob Lorinc (Bloomberg News – February 8, 2024)

Mining firm Canada Nickel Co Inc. plans to develop a nickel processing plant in Ontario that would cost US$1 billion and be North America’s largest once completed.

The plant would have capacity to produce more than 80,000 tons of nickel annually, and should begin operations by the start of 2027, the Toronto-based miner said in a Thursday press release. The company also plans to build a stainless steel and alloy production plant to process nickel and chromium concentrate, which would cost an additional $2 billion, according to Chief Executive Officer Mark Selby.

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Geopolitical risks worst in 50 years, warns oil services boss – by Myles McCormick and Jamie Smyth (Financial Times – November 12, 2023)

Baker Hughes CEO says wars in Ukraine and Middle East threaten instability similar to 1973 oil embargo

Geopolitical risks are at their highest level in half a century, the head of one of the world’s biggest oilfield services companies has said, raising concerns about energy supplies and helping to fuel a boom in liquefied natural gas.

“From a historical context I’ve heard people say, you go back to the oil embargo of 1973 — that being somewhat similar,” said Lorenzo Simonelli, chief executive of Baker Hughes, in an interview with the Financial Times.

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WHAT IF AMERICA’S MINERAL-INTENSIVE MILITARY RUNS OUT OF MINERALS? – by Macdonald Amoah, Gregory Wischer, Juliet Akamboe and Morgan Bazilian (Modern War Institute West Point – November 10, 2023)

Macdonald Amoah is a researcher at the Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines. Gregory Wischer is principal at Dei Gratia Minerals, a critical minerals consultancy. Juliet Akamboe is a critical minerals demand researcher at the Colorado School of Mines. Morgan Bazilian is director of the Payne Institute and Professor of Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines.

Minerals have defined key periods in technological development for much of warfare’s history. The Stone Age featured mineral-tipped spears and arrows; the Bronze Age included swords and shields of bronze, a metal alloy of copper and tin; and in the Iron Age, iron replaced bronze in many weapons, making them both lighter and cheaper.

Since then, minerals have remained formative in changing human history—and warfighting. The cheap, mass production of iron was central to the First Industrial Revolution, while steel, an alloy of iron and carbon, was vital to the Second Industrial Revolution. Both periods contributed to the industrialization of war.

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Does America have enough weapons to support its allies? (The Economist – November 8, 2023)

It could face wars in the Middle East, Ukraine and Taiwan

When america provided Ukraine with weapons to resist Russia’s invasion in 2022, many people asked whether it would also have the means to deter a Chinese assault on Taiwan. That question is all the more relevant now that Israel, another ally, is at war with Hamas.

President Joe Biden has insisted that America will help its allies defend themselves, acting once again as the world’s “arsenal of democracy”, as President Franklin Roosevelt promised the country would be in 1940. Does Mr Biden have the weapons he needs to keep his word?

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