North Korea Says It Has Detonated Its First Hydrogen Bomb – by David E. Sanger and Choe Sang-Hun (New York Times – January 5, 2016)

WASHINGTON — North Korea declared on Tuesday that it had detonated its first hydrogen bomb. The assertion, if true, would dramatically escalate the nuclear challenge from one of the world’s most isolated and dangerous states.

In an announcement, North Korea said that the test had been a “complete success.” But it was difficult to tell whether the statement was true. North Korea has made repeated claims about its nuclear capabilities that outside analysts have greeted with skepticism.

“This is the self-defensive measure we have to take to defend our right to live in the face of the nuclear threats and blackmail by the United States and to guarantee the security of the Korean Peninsula,” a female North Korean announcer said, reading the statement on Central Television, the state-run network.

Read more

Has China peaked? – by Michael Auslin (National Post – November 20, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The annual Halifax International Security Forum will convene on Nov. 20, bringing together some of the finest military and strategic thinkers in the Western world for a three-day conference. In the run-up to the event, the National Post is presenting four essays that describe the challenges, and opportunities, facing the West today.

At a dinner at the Halifax International Security Forum in 2013, a table of experts and interested participants, including former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, had a spirited discussion on an unconventional theme: “Peaking China.”

Even two years ago, the idea that China would not be forever rising was a fringe concept.

Read more

U.S. challenges China’s sovereignty claim to artificial islands – by Nathan Vanderklippe (Globe and Mail – October 28, 2015)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

BEIJING — The U.S. is pledging to sail more warships past the shores of artificial islands in the South China Sea as the world’s most powerful military seeks to strip away the expansionist claims of China and other nations in waters crucial to the global movement of goods.

Early Tuesday morning, the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen deliberately came within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, one of the places in the Spratly Islands that China has transformed into a sizable air and sea outpost from a reef that once vanished at high tide.

In so doing, the ship breached the exclusion zone that would apply to territorial waters and underscored the U.S. position that China cannot claim that exclusion around its manufactured lands. The move escalates the conflict over who controls a sea the size of India that constitutes the maritime heart of East Asia. It provoked an angry response from China, which dispatched a missile destroyer and a patrol boat to shadow and attempt to warn off the Lassen.

In Beijing, China summoned U.S. Ambassador Max Baucus over the patrol, which vice-foreign minister Zhang Yesui called “extremely irresponsible,” while other officials warned of a Chinese retaliation.

Read more

The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War? – by Graham Allison (The Atlantic – September 24, 2015)

In 12 of 16 past cases in which a rising power has confronted a ruling power, the result has been bloodshed.

When Barack Obama meets this week with Xi Jinping during the Chinese president’s first state visit to America, one item probably won’t be on their agenda: the possibility that the United States and China could find themselves at war in the next decade. In policy circles, this appears as unlikely as it would be unwise.

And yet 100 years on, World War I offers a sobering reminder of man’s capacity for folly. When we say that war is “inconceivable,” is this a statement about what is possible in the world—or only about what our limited minds can conceive? In 1914, few could imagine slaughter on a scale that demanded a new category: world war.

When war ended four years later, Europe lay in ruins: the kaiser gone, the Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolved, the Russian tsar overthrown by the Bolsheviks, France bled for a generation, and England shorn of its youth and treasure. A millennium in which Europe had been the political center of the world came to a crashing halt.

The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’s Trap.

Read more

Hiroshima Commemorates 70th Anniversary of Atomic Bombing – by Jonathan Sobleaug (New York Times – August 6, 2015)

HIROSHIMA, Japan — Every year on Aug. 6, Hiroshima becomes a city of mourning. And one full of reminders — some delivered politely, some pointedly — of the most extreme dangers of modern warfare.

Seventy years ago, the city was incinerated by an atomic bomb, its population halved by the new and terrifying American weapon nicknamed Little Boy.

On Thursday, political leaders, aging survivors and ordinary citizens gathered at 8:15 a.m. to mourn the moment when the city unwillingly became part of the world’s introduction to the nuclear age. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima, together with another that hit Nagasaki three days later, killed more than 200,000 people, most of them civilians.

At a ceremony near the onetime industrial exhibition hall that has been preserved as a skeletal monument to the attack, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe renewed a longstanding Japanese pledge to seek worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons. The mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui, accused “selfish” nuclear powers, including the United States, of standing in the way of that goal.

Read more

Russia says will retaliate if U.S. weapons stationed on its borders – by Gabriela Baczynska and Wiktor Szary (Reuters U.S. – June 15, 2015)

MOSCOW/WARSAW – A plan by Washington to station tanks and heavy weapons in NATO states on Russia’s border would be the most aggressive U.S. act since the Cold War, and Moscow would retaliate by beefing up its own forces, a Russian defense official said on Monday.

The United States is offering to store military equipment on allies’ territory in eastern Europe, a proposal aimed at reassuring governments worried that after the conflict in Ukraine, they could be the Kremlin’s next target.

Poland and the Baltic states, where officials say privately they have been frustrated the NATO alliance has not taken more decisive steps to deter Russia, welcomed the decision by Washington to take the lead.

But others in the region were more cautious, fearing their countries could be caught in the middle of a new arms race between Russia and the United States.

“If heavy U.S. military equipment, including tanks, artillery batteries and other equipment really does turn up in countries in eastern Europe and the Baltics, that will be the most aggressive step by the Pentagon and NATO since the Cold War,” Russian defense ministry official General Yuri Yakubov said.

Read more

War Clouds Over South China Sea As U.S. Declares Right To Waters And U.S. Warship Arrives At Subic – by Donald Kirk (Forbes Magazine – May 30, 2015)

The drumbeat of war on distant horizons is reverberating through Southeast Asia with increasingly strong declarations of U.S. determination to stop the Chinese from expanding their writ over the South China Sea, notably islands claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

While Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was in Singapore vowing that U.S. planes and ships would go wherever they wanted in international waters WAT -0.71%, the U.S. navy missile cruiser Shiloh was hoving into view at the historic Subic Bay port northwest of Manila.

Reports of Carter’s tough remarks at a gathering of defense ministers and the Shiloh’s visit to Subic Bay, the largest U.S. navy base before the Americans were forced to give it all up more than 20 years ago, were couched in euphemisms that scarcely masked the impression of spiraling tensions. “We want a peaceful resolution of all disputes,” Carter began. “A routine port call,” said a Philippine navy spokesman when asked what the Shiloh was doing at Subic Bay, in the once roaring American base town of Olongapo.

Oh sure. Those soothing assurances somehow only heightened the sense of an impending collision in the South China Sea around the Spratly Islands, where China has added about 2,000 acres to its holdings in the past year and a half by reclaiming land from the shallow waters.

Read more

[War Plan Red-U.S. Invades Canada] Sudbury’s nickel important to Americans’ military might – by Stan Sudol (Northern Life – February 5, 2006)

Please note that this article, was originally published in 2006.

If the Yanks went to war with the Brits in the 1920s, American troops would have tried to invade Sudbury from northern Michigan

Canada and the United States have been economic and military allies for most of the 20th century, notwithstanding the bad chemistry between our leaders from time to time. Hopefully Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be able to soon repair the damage in relations caused by the Paul Martin Liberals.

However, throughout much of American history, many influential politicians were firmly committed to the expansionist ideology of Manifest Destiny. This is the belief that the United States has an “inherent, natural and inevitable right” to annex all of North America.

So it should not be a huge surprise to learn that the United States military had prepared a Joint Army and Navy Basic War Plan to invade Canada in the late 1920s, and updated it in 1935. The document called War Plan Red was declassified in 1974. However, the story resurfaced a short time ago in a Washington Post (Dec.30, 2005) article by journalist Peter Carlson headlined Raiding the Icebox; Behind Its Warm Front, the United States Made Cold Calculations to Subdue Canada.

Read more

China is a global economic and political power. Soon, it will be a military one, too – by J.L. Granatstein (National Post – May 15, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

A few days ago, the Office of the Secretary of Defence in Washington issued its annual report on Military and Security Developments Involving the Peoples Republic of China 2015. This is a sobering document, appearing within days of a contingent of Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers marching past Russian leader Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping in Moscow’s huge Victory Day parade. At the same time, and for the first time, Chinese navy ships are engaging in live-fire exercises in the Mediterranean Sea alongside Russian warships.

The authoritative U.S. document notes that Beijing’s defence expenditures continue to increase by 9.5 per cent a year, as they have done for the past decade. The Defense report concludes that China remains focused on the possibility of conflict in the Taiwan Straits — it has 400,000 soldiers, sailors and air personnel in the area — and in the East and South China Seas, with substantial military buildups also continuing there.

The South China Sea archipelago of the Spratly Islands, claimed by Beijing, are undergoing extensive “land reclamation,” China creating what is now a 2,000 acre landmass out of what were hitherto essentially underwater shoals.

Naval vessels will soon be able to dock there, and an airstrip is all but certain to be constructed. As the South China Sea is thought be ripe for mineral and oil exploitation and as parts of it are claimed by several Asian nations, this is a dangerous flashpoint, an area where Beijing’s “low-intensity coercion” can be expected to increase. In response, the Philippines and Vietnam are doing “land reclamation” projects of their own.

Read more

Advanced military technology shows need for minerals and metals supply – by Hall Quinn (The Hill – April 7, 2015)

Quinn is the president and CEO of the National Mining Association.

Innovation is essential for sustaining strong national defense and security. Take, for example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Robotics Challenge (DRC). In June, teams representing some of the most advanced research and development organizations in the world will showcase the hardware, software, sensors and human-machine control interfaces of robots capable of aiding the U.S. military response efforts in environments that may be too dangerous or difficult for humans to navigate.

The $95 million project demonstrates the Pentagon’s commitment to innovation and the creation of state-of-the-art military technologies. But beyond the design and testing of these sophisticated systems, we must ensure that our military has secure and reliable access to the domestic raw materials needed for these systems.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) uses 750,000 tons of minerals each year in technologies that protect the very troops that protect our nation. Metals such as copper, lead and nickel are used in military gear, weapon systems and other defense technologies. Additionally, the mineral beryllium is used to reduce weight and improve guidance performance in fighter jets and NASA technologies such as the mirrors on the James Webb Space Telescope.

Read more

Poles Steel for Battle, Fearing Russia Will March on Them Next – by Rick Lyman (New York Times – March 14, 2015)

KALISZ, Poland — For evidence of how much President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has jangled nerves and provoked anxiety across Eastern Europe, look no farther than the drill held the other day by the Shooters Association.

The paramilitary group, like more than 100 others in Poland, has experienced a sharp spike in membership since Mr. Putin’s forces began meddling in neighboring Ukraine last year.

Thirty students took an oath to defend Poland at all costs, joining nearly 200 other regional members of the association — young men and women, boys and girls — marching in formation around the perimeter of the dusty high school courtyard here. They crossed Polish Army Boulevard and marched into the center of town, sprawling in four long lines along the edge of St. Joseph’s Square.

Gen. Boguslaw Pacek, an adviser to the Polish defense minister and the government’s chief liaison with these paramilitary groups, marched with them. He has been making the rounds in recent months of such gatherings: student chapters like this one, as well as groups of veterans, even battle re-enactors.

One of those who took the oath in Kalisz was Bartosz Walesiak, 16, who said he had been interested in the military since playing with toy soldiers as a little boy, but had been motivated to join the Shooters Association after Russia moved into Crimea.

Read more

Canada needs to defend its own security interests in the Pacific, instead of relying on Americans – by Matthew Fisher (National Post – December 19, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The great ditherer, U.S. President Barack Obama, has finally begun his vaunted Asian pivot.

More top-of-the-line American fighter jets are to be based in the western Arctic, Hawaii and Asia. Submarines and surface warships, including an aircraft carrier, are being permanently repositioned right now from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Australia, Japan, South Korea and half a dozen other Australasian countries have been spooked by Beijing’s territorial claims to just about all of the South China Sea and much of the East China Sea, and by its determination to project power and national prestige into the Pacific by building a vast fleet of new warships, including an aircraft carrier and scores of diesel-electric and nuclear submarines that can be armed with long-range cruise missiles.

The Harper government has not been shy about telling Canadians that they are citizens of a Pacific nation. Yet its response to China’s military priorities, which much of the world considers to be the overriding security dilemma of the 21st century, has been virtually non-existent aside from slightly enhancing the country’s slim contribution to U.S.-led military games in the Pacific.

Security there is not being discussed at any level by the government or by the opposition, although it is a subject of considerable and growing concern to Canada’s admirals and generals. Nor has Canada purchased anything for the military because of security tensions over its western horizon.

Read more

Resources, Empire & Labour: Crisis, Lessons & Alternatives – Edited by David Leadbeater

To order a copy of Resources, Empire & Labour: Crisis, Lessons & Alternatives, click here:

The interconnections of natural resources, empire and labour run through the most central and conflict-ridden crises of our times: war, environmental degradation, impoverishment and plutocracy. Crucial to understand and to change the conditions that give rise to these crises is the critical study of resource development and, more broadly, the resources question, which is the subject of this volume. Intended for researchers, students and activists, the chapters in Resources, Empire and Labour illuminate key aspects of the resources question from a variety of angles through concrete analyses and histories focused on the extractive industries of mining, oil and gas.

Natural Resources in Japanese Imperialism: The Yasuba Critique

To discuss the evidence on the role of natural resources in Japanese imperialism, a useful point of departure, despite many flaws, is Yasukichi Yasuba’s 1996 article “Did Japan Ever Suffer from a Shortage of Natural Resources Before World War II?” Yasuba challenges the resource-shortage explanation of Japanese imperialism.

According to Yasuba, proponents of the resource shortage view emphasize that Japan had a high population density and also suffered from a lack of natural resources. The situation became particularly acute in the 1930s with the rise of protectionism in the high-income countries to which Japan shipped many of its exports.

These features of the situation made it attractive for Japan’s leaders to pursue military expansion. By establishing political control over more territory, it could obtain more resources and it could create a trade bloc and thereby find markets for its exports, markets that would serve as alternatives to the markets of the other imperialist powers and their areas of control. The territories acquired could also provide an outlet for surplus Japanese population.

Read more

U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms – by WILLIAM J. BROAD and DAVID E. SANGER (New York Times – September 21, 2014)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A sprawling new plant here in a former soybean field makes the mechanical guts of America’s atomic warheads. Bigger than the Pentagon, full of futuristic gear and thousands of workers, the plant, dedicated last month, modernizes the aging weapons that the United States can fire from missiles, bombers and submarines.

It is part of a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars.

This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for “a nuclear-free world” and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy. The original idea was that modest rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling nuclear complex would speed arms refurbishment, raising confidence in the arsenal’s reliability and paving the way for new treaties that would significantly cut the number of warheads.
Instead, because of political deals and geopolitical crises, the Obama administration is engaging in extensive atomic rebuilding while getting only modest arms reductions in return.

Supporters of arms control, as well as some of President Obama’s closest advisers, say their hopes for the president’s vision have turned to baffled disappointment as the modernization of nuclear capabilities has become an end unto itself.

Read more

Union raids the subject of author Mick Lowe’s 5th book – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Sudbury Northern Life – April 16, 2014)

Mick Lowe said his disability was actually a benefit when it came to writing his soon-to-be published novel, “The Raids.” The book is set in 1963, during a particularly violent time in Sudbury’s history — the Steelworkers’ raids on the then-powerful Mine Mill union.

“The Raids,” (Baraka Books, $20), is due to be officially released May 15. The book will be available at Chapters and online at Amazon. An official launch and book signing will be held starting at 2 p.m. May 25 at the Steelworkers Hall.

Lowe, 67, who has penned four other books, said because he’s in a wheelchair and lives at Pioneer Manor after a 2008 stroke paralysed the left side of his body, he wasn’t able to do the meticulous research he put into his other works.

While he had a working knowledge of the union raids through his previous work as a journalist, Lowe said he was forced to use his imagination because of his physical limitations. At one point, he was writing about a Mine Mill meeting, and his first inclination was to go to the library and look up the minutes of the actual meeting.

“But I can’t do that because I’m disabled,” said Lowe, a former Northern Life managing editor and columnist.

Read more