top of page
LBL-AD-StratCent-04.jpg

INFRASTRUCTURE IS DEFINING GEOPOLITICS

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."(Ecclesiastes 1:9, NIV)


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This week's strategic activities underscore the critical influence of infrastructure and non-state actors in contemporary geopolitics. Mary Bridges' article highlights how interconnected systems like energy grids and digital platforms redefine power dynamics, with governments and corporations vying for control. China's deepening ties with Russia, despite trade imbalances, and Taiwan's defense bolstering against Chinese aggression reflect shifting alliances and tensions. Maritime disputes between China and the Philippines, Peru's port deal complications with China, and Russia's antisatellite weapon tests further illustrate global power struggles. The evolving Hamas-Israel conflict, US arms support for Israel, and Iran's political uncertainty following a helicopter crash emphasize the dynamic, multifaceted nature of modern geopolitical challenges.


THE WORLD

·      The article "Infrastructure Is Remaking Geopolitics: How Power Flows From the Systems That Connect the World" by Mary Bridges in Foreign Affairs explores how modern infrastructure shapes global power dynamics. The interconnectedness and complexity of systems such as energy grids, shipping routes, AI networks, and digital payment platforms have made infrastructure central to geopolitical influence. Governments now compete with corporations and technological entities to manage these networks. The article highlights the growing importance of non-state actors like multinational banks and satellite operators in global politics. It argues that traditional views of geopolitics, which focus on state-to-state relations, are outdated. Instead, policymakers must understand and collaborate with the new power brokers who control infrastructure to effectively address global challenges. The central point is that infrastructure, rather than ideological competition, defines contemporary geopolitics, requiring a shift in how power and influence are understood and managed in the modern world.

 

 

CHINA

·   The article from Bloomberg, titled "Xi Tells Putin China Is Ready to be 'Good Neighbor' to Russia at Beijing Meeting," highlights the strong and enduring relationship between China and Russia, with Chinese President Xi Jinping expressing commitment to maintaining close ties and cooperation with Russia amidst the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. During a meeting in Beijing, Xi emphasized China's readiness to work as a good neighbor and partner to Russia, aiming to consolidate the friendship between the two nations for future generations. On his first foreign trip since starting his fifth term, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the cooperation between the two countries as a major stabilizing factor in the international arena. Despite economic challenges and threats of US sanctions, China and Russia have strengthened their economic and diplomatic ties, with significant trade in national currencies to safeguard against external influences. The leaders' statements and recent agreements underscore their united front and mutual support as they navigate increasing tensions with the West.

·      The article "The Lopsided Reality of the Russia-China Relationship" from The Wall Street Journal discusses the growing asymmetry in the partnership between Russia and China. With Russia facing severe Western sanctions, it has increasingly relied on China for economic and security support. This dependency is evident as China supplies Russia with essential goods, including electronics and materials for weapon production, while Russian exports to China, particularly arms, have decreased. The relationship is marked by significant trade imbalances, with China accounting for a larger share of Russia's trade compared to Russia's share in China's trade. This dynamic has led to China gaining substantial leverage over Russia, affecting various sectors including energy, where China commands discounts on Russian oil and gas. Despite this imbalance, the strategic alliance between the two nuclear-armed nations poses significant implications for global geopolitics, particularly in their opposition to the U.S.-led global order.

·      The article discusses Taiwan's pursuit of U.S.-made loitering munitions, commonly known as suicide drones, to bolster its defense against a potential Chinese invasion. With the continuous military pressure from China, including frequent exercises and incursions into Taiwan's airspace, Taiwan is seeking the AeroVironment Switchblade drones, which can target enemy ships, tanks, and vehicles effectively. This move aligns with the U.S. strategy, encouraging Taiwan to invest in cost-effective, asymmetric warfare capabilities. The Switchblade drones, especially the larger 600 variant, are viewed as critical for Taiwan's defense, enhancing its ability to deter Chinese aggression while aligning with U.S. defense priorities and ongoing support through military sales. The central point is that Taiwan is increasingly focusing on modern, expendable weaponry to strengthen its defense posture amidst rising tensions with China.

·      The New York Times article reports on China's deployment of dozens of coast guard and maritime militia vessels to block a flotilla of Philippine fishing boats protesting China's control of Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. The Philippine protest, organized by the group Atin Ito, aimed to assert the country's claims over the disputed atoll, which is much closer to the Philippines than to China. This escalation highlights the rising tensions between China and the Philippines, with China using overwhelming force to maintain its dominance over the contested waters, despite an international tribunal ruling in 2016 that rejected China's expansive claims in the South China Sea. The central point is that China's aggressive actions are intensifying maritime disputes in the region, challenging the Philippines' efforts to assert its sovereignty and rights over the resource-rich areas in the South China Sea.

·      Taiwan is actively pursuing the acquisition of U.S.-made loitering munitions, commonly known as suicide drones, to bolster its defense capabilities against potential Chinese aggression. These drones, including the AeroVironment Switchblade variants, are recognized for their effectiveness in modern warfare, having been utilized in conflicts such as the Nagorno-Karabakh War and the Ukraine conflict. Taiwan's interest in these munitions aligns with the U.S. push for an asymmetric defense strategy aimed at deterring a Chinese invasion. This move is part of a broader effort to enhance Taiwan's military readiness, which includes domestic drone development and substantial investments in locally produced military technology.

·      Peru's deal with the Chinese company Cosco Shipping Ports for the Port of Chancay, intended to transform the site into a major shipping hub, has encountered significant issues due to an administrative error that granted Cosco exclusive operational rights. This mistake has left Peru scrambling to revoke the exclusivity, highlighting the risks of not thoroughly understanding agreements with Chinese firms. The $3.5 billion investment, intended to enhance Peru's strategic and economic position, now poses a dilemma as Cosco stands firm on maintaining exclusive control. This situation serves as a cautionary tale for other countries engaging in similar infrastructure deals with China.


 

 RUSSIA

·      Russia launched a research spacecraft, Cosmos-2553, in February 2022, designed to test components for a potential antisatellite weapon that would carry a nuclear device. This development has raised significant concerns among the Biden administration, Congress, and security experts about Russia's intentions and capabilities in space warfare. Cosmos-2553 was launched shortly before Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The spacecraft is intended to test components for a potential antisatellite weapon that could carry a nuclear device, though it currently does not carry such a weapon. The weapon, if deployed, could destroy hundreds of satellites in low Earth orbit, posing a significant threat to American and commercial assets.

·      U.S. officials concerned about Russia's recent military advances in Ukraine, which are altering the dynamics of the war and challenging previous expectations of a Ukrainian victory. Key factors contributing to Russia's success include delays in American weaponry reaching Ukraine, significant technological innovations in Russian electronic warfare, and a recent offensive near Kharkiv that has strained Ukrainian defenses. Additionally, Russia has gained a substantial artillery advantage and leveraged its air power due to Ukraine's shortage of air defense ammunition. Ukraine's mobilization challenges have further complicated its defense efforts. Despite these setbacks, U.S. officials remain hopeful that once new arms are fully deployed, Ukraine may reverse some of Russia's gains, though uncertainty about future battlefield dynamics persists. This situation poses broader strategic concerns for U.S. efforts to maintain a cohesive strategy against Russia as international meetings approach.

·      The New York Times article on the Putin-Xi summit outlines the strategic dynamics between China and Russia amid the ongoing Ukraine conflict. During the two-day state visit, President Vladimir Putin seeks increased support from China to bolster Russia's war efforts and economic resilience against Western sanctions. President Xi Jinping aims to balance supporting Russia while avoiding further alienation from Western countries, particularly Europe, which is critical for China's economic revival. The summit highlights their shared vision against U.S. dominance but also underscores their differing agendas and the potential risks to China's relations with the West.

·      The Foreign Policy article by Agathe Demarais discusses the financial troubles facing Gazprom, Russia's state-owned energy giant, which reported a $6.8 billion loss for 2023, its first loss since 1999. This loss is a result of the Kremlin's decision to cut off gas exports to Europe, leading to a significant drop in revenue. Gazprom's declining fortunes have severe implications for the Russian economy and its ability to fund the war in Ukraine. The article highlights the broader economic consequences for Moscow, including reduced state revenues, challenges in financing military expenses, and potential difficulties in maintaining investment in gas infrastructure. The central point is that Gazprom's financial struggles are a significant blow to the Kremlin, exacerbating Russia's economic challenges amid its ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

·      The Wall Street Journal article "The Misfits Russia Is Recruiting to Spy on the West" details how Russian intelligence has been recruiting marginalized young people in Europe, particularly immigrants, to conduct espionage and sabotage against Western targets. Using platforms like Telegram, Russia offers these recruits simple tasks that escalate to more significant espionage activities, allowing for low-risk, low-cost operations that minimize Moscow's investment while the recruits bear the consequences if caught. The article highlights the story of Ukrainian refugee Maxim Leha in Poland, who was recruited to perform tasks such as spray-painting graffiti and fixing cameras along railroad lines, ultimately leading to his arrest in Poland's largest publicized spy case. While the direct impact on Western aid is uncertain, officials acknowledge that combining such intelligence with sophisticated surveillance has enabled Russia to effectively target Western military aid. The broader scope of Russia's espionage efforts is demonstrated by recent arrests in the UK and Germany, illustrating how Russia is leveraging low-cost recruits to undermine Western support for Ukraine and gather critical intelligence.


 

MIDDLE EAST

·      The article "Netanyahu Rejects U.S. Calls for Postwar Plan in Gaza" from the Wall Street Journal reports on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to comply with U.S. demands for a postwar plan for Gaza. Netanyahu insists that Hamas must be defeated militarily before discussing governance arrangements for Gaza after the war. This stance has caused friction between Israel and the U.S., with U.S. officials warning that a lack of a political solution could lead to an enduring insurgency and further international isolation for Israel. Despite internal criticisms from Israeli officials and members of the war cabinet, Netanyahu maintains that any discussion of postwar governance is premature while Hamas remains a threat. The central point of the article is the tension between the U.S. and Israel over the necessity of a postwar political plan to ensure lasting peace and stability in Gaza.

·      The article "What Israel’s Netzarim Corridor in Gaza Reveals About Its Postwar Plans" from The Washington Post discusses Israel's strategic development of the Netzarim Corridor, a four-mile-long road in Gaza. This corridor is part of a large-scale Israeli military project aimed at reshaping Gaza and establishing a permanent military presence. Despite ongoing cease-fire negotiations, Israel has been fortifying this corridor, building bases, and clearing surrounding areas, which analysts interpret as preparation for long-term military control. The corridor allows rapid troop deployment and control over aid flow and movement within Gaza. While Israeli officials insist there are no plans for permanent reoccupation, the construction suggests otherwise, raising concerns about future governance and the potential for ongoing conflict. The central point of the article is Israel's strategic military entrenchment in Gaza and its implications for postwar plans and regional stability.

·      The article "Biden Moves Forward on $1 Billion in New Arms for Israel" from The Wall Street Journal details the Biden administration's notification to Congress about a new arms package for Israel worth over $1 billion. This package includes $700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds. This move comes shortly after the White House paused a shipment of bombs due to concerns over an Israeli assault on Rafah, which could lead to significant civilian casualties. The decision to proceed with the new arms deal reflects the administration's effort to balance its support for Israel with its opposition to certain military actions that could exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The central point of the article is the Biden administration's attempt to maintain strong military support for Israel while navigating the complexities and criticisms of its military strategy in Gaza.

·      The article "Iran President Helicopter Crash" from The New York Times reports on the fatal helicopter crash that killed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian. The crash occurred in a mountainous area near Jolfa while they were traveling from a dam project inauguration. Rescuers found no survivors among the wreckage. With Raisi and Abdollahian's deaths, Iran faces significant political uncertainty at a time of heightened international tensions and domestic discontent. Mohammad Mokhber, the first vice president, has been named acting president, and elections must be held within 50 days. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for public mourning and assured that the government's operations will continue uninterrupted.

·      The article "Hamas Shift to Guerrilla Tactics Raises Specter of Forever War for Israel" from The Wall Street Journal explores how Hamas's adaptation to guerrilla warfare tactics is posing a significant strategic challenge for Israel. Seven months into the conflict, Hamas has shifted to hit-and-run tactics, utilizing small cells of fighters and an extensive network of tunnels to continue its resistance against Israeli forces. This approach has allowed Hamas to remain resilient and aggressive, complicating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's objective of completely dismantling the group. The lack of a credible plan for replacing Hamas has raised concerns within Israel's security establishment, and the ongoing conflict has highlighted the difficulty of achieving a definitive military victory. The central point of the article is the evolving nature of Hamas's resistance and the implications for Israel, suggesting that the conflict may become a prolonged and intractable struggle.

·      The article "Gaza Gets Its First Aid Shipment from U.S. Pier: Israel-Hamas Latest Updates" from The New York Times reports on the first delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza via a temporary floating pier built by the U.S. military. This marks the first sea delivery of aid in two months due to the blockade from Israel's recent military operations in Rafah. The initial aid includes food and hygiene kits, with plans to increase the delivery to 150 trucks daily. Despite the significant need, this falls short of the aid required to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The U.S. military provided logistical support without entering Gaza, emphasizing the importance of land border crossings for efficient aid delivery.

·      The article "A UN Trusteeship for Palestine: A Temporary Fix That Can Lead to an Enduring Peace" from Foreign Affairs argues for the establishment of a UN trusteeship for Palestine as a solution to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With the crisis worsening, marked by high civilian casualties, accusations of genocide, and severe humanitarian needs, the article suggests that neither the Israeli government nor the Palestinian Authority is currently equipped to govern Gaza effectively. The proposed trusteeship would oversee Gaza and the West Bank, aiming to build Palestinian institutions and prepare for eventual statehood, while ensuring Israeli security. The trusteeship would be managed by regional actors such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, supported by the UN. The central point of the article is that a UN trusteeship could provide the necessary international oversight and support to stabilize the region, rebuild Gaza, and pave the way for a sustainable two-state solution, addressing both immediate humanitarian needs and long-term political challenges.

 

35 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


White and Blue Minimalist Modern Real Estate Property Business Card (10).png
bottom of page