One Belt, One Road (FB Ali)

OBOR Image

The Chinese project of "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) has drawn remarkably little attention and comment in the West, especially in the USA. This is surprising, considering its tremendous scope, its implications for a large part of the world (with its potential to transform the lives of a sizable part of humanity), and its geostrategic significance.

Typically, the only voice talking about this (and other developments in China) in a sane and prescient manner is that of Amb Chas Freeman. (The neocons were right ‒ from their perspective ‒ in ensuring in 2009 that he would not be able to officially influence US policy; the loss, a grave one, was their country's). He first talked at some length about OBOR in July 2015, and then again in June of this year. This post should be considered an updated summary; for a more detailed view I would recommend Mr Freeman's 2015 talk.

OBOR seeks to convert the Eurasian land mass into a single economy by interconnecting it with a network of roads, railroads, pipelines, ports, airports, and telecommunications links, and, based on these, to create a series of development corridors containing large zones of productive economic activity (and, ultimately, prosperity).

Supplementing this essentially continental development will be a maritime component (the "Road"), aimed at investing and fostering collaboration in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and North Africa, through several contiguous bodies of water – the South China Sea, the South Pacific Ocean, and the Indian Ocean. This will be achieved by developing suitable (deep water) ports and then building the infrastructure to link them to interior industrial zones and markets, e.g, Piraeus (in Greece), Zarubino (in Russia), Djibouti and Mombasa (in Africa), Kyaukpyu (in Myanmar) and Gwadar (in Pakistan).

Amb Freeman rightly called One belt, One Road "the largest and potentially the most transformative engineering effort in human history".

The scope of OBOR can be judged from China's plan to ultimately commit to it some 4 trillion dollars. Currently, the Chinese say, 900 deals in 60 countries are in place or are being negotiated or planned, with a proposed investment of $890 billion. Three "policy banks" have been set up by the Chinese government for OBOR projects with an initial capital of $82 billion. A Silk Road Fund has been established with a capital of $40 billion. China has sponsored the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank with a capital of $100 billion (it is likely to invest mainly in OBOR projects).

The vast majority of these OBOR projects will be planned, designed and managed by Chinese enterprises, with local partners. Where resources (such as energy, cement, etc) are unavailable, the Chinese will set up local plants to produce them. The Chinese companies will be given low-interest loans for their projects, while the local partners (either state or private enterprises) will be financed from cheap loans and grants provided by the Chinese government to the country. 

Naturally, OBOR is not a purely altruistic project; China will derive major short-term and long-term benefits from it (but it will also greatly benefit the lands and peoples covered by it). It will enable China to invest its huge foreign reserve holdings (some $3.5 trillion at the end of 2015, mostly in US assets) mainly in Chinese enterprises, without the negative effects that such an investment within China would produce (over-capacity, rising costs, environmental effects, etc). It enables the utilisation of the large developmental capacity currently existing in China that was built up in its industrialisation and infrastructure development drive, and which is now surplus to its needs. The investments in OBOR, and its successful development, will make it much easier for China to break out of the present international financial system ruled by the US dollar.      

One of the OBOR projects likely to be completed early is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Since many of its features are fairly typical of these projects, it is worth considering in a little more detail. Basically, the project is to link the Indian Ocean port of Gwadar in Pakistan to the Chinese rail hub of Kashgar, a distance of some 2000 miles through some of the highest passes in the Himalayas (involving some 125 miles of mountain tunnels). This corridor will consist of road, rail, oil and liquefied gas pipelines, and fibre optic cable links. Industrial plants, most of them related to energy, will be set up in the corridor. Some $46 billion is earmarked for the whole project: $34 billion for energy projects and $12 billion for infrastructure. An "Early Harvest" section of the plan will see some $26 billion invested in projects slated for completion by 2018.

Though China is pushing OBOR as a (collaborative) economic project, it obviously has significant geostrategic implications. In seeking to create a Eurasian bloc, China is resurrecting the concepts of the Heartland and the World Island that Halford Mackinder first wrote about, a century ago, as the repository of Land Power that will unavoidably compete with Sea Power. Today, the latter is personified by the United States, and it will inevitably see such a development as a challenge to its current dominating position in the world. Conflict is inevitable; what shape it takes may well determine the fate of humanity.

Russia is also in an interesting position with respect to OBOR. On the one hand, China is its ally against the pressures being applied to it by the US and Europe; on the other, it has hitherto been the primary player in this duo (as Russia has been historically in Eurasia). It will not be easy for Putin to cede that role to Xi. However, he does not have much choice. His trump card is Russia's military strength, especially in nuclear weapons; China needs these to offset the danger of the use of such weapons by the US against it. Thus, one can expect that it will offer Russia a special place in OBOR; this will make it easier for Russia to participate in it. Also, Russia cannot ignore the wider (and, for it, positive) strategic significance of these developments vis-a-vis its relations with the US and the West.

These future developments highlight the unfortunate nature of the policies being currently followed by the US. Its worldwide expression of military power, steered by the neocon foreign policy establishment (the Borg, as Col Lang calls it), and its equally aggressive economic and financial policies (pursued by the plutocrats who control them), have created a backlash, not only in other lands but also within the country. Nevertheless, there appears to be this underlying assumption that matters can continue indefinitely as they are now (and, if they tend to veer off course, brute power can be used to bring them back on track).

Even as the US rides forth as did the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, a new world is being born on the Eurasian continent, a world that, if allowed to survive, may hold the promise of a prosperous new age for billions of deprived human beings. 

This entry was posted in China, Current Affairs, FB Ali, Pakistan, Russia. Bookmark the permalink.

109 Responses to One Belt, One Road (FB Ali)

  1. Avatar Lemur (prev EA) says:

    i’d like to make the following observations:
    1. The SCO and EEU demonstrate effective international cooperation can be achieved without unbearable impositions upon national sovereignty, contra the EU.
    2. There’s a flood of articles coming out of Russian think tanks like Katehon of late cogitating on the idea of the land vs sea powers.
    3. Although it’s unlikely Russia will rival China’s economic strength anytime soon, improving social metrics (including a rising Total Fertility Rate), economic diversification and revitalization, strict fiscal discipline, and pivotal location on the world island will see Russia gradually replicate German economic strength in Eurasia. Thus, Russia will be the sub-dominant power on the world island, as opposed to the master-vassal relationship between the US and Canada. (We should also take into account China faces internal challenges like contracting population in a way that the old world hegemon, the US, did not during its expansive post war phase).
    4. If Germany can be pulled into Russia’s orbit, a Russian-German axis could balance against both China (favourably) and the US (competitively). I’ve come to the conclusion Russia’s entire long term European strategy is an alliance with Germany.

  2. Avatar axel says:

    You nailed this one! And also, good that you credited Freeman. It is a sad state of business when one of our nation’s finest diplomats in the last 70 years should be so marginalized by the power of a lobby, even as he is still providing such important advice.

  3. Avatar JMGavin says:

    I was riding in a Panamanian taxi not long ago, in the area which used to be the Canal Zone. The cab driver and I were discussing the changes to Panama after the US essentially left, and the Chinese filled the void. The cabbie made the comment “The Americans took the best drumstick for themselves, but the Chinese eat the entire chicken.”
    We’ll see what benefit the Chinese bring to the rest of the world. My experience with Chinese influence in Africa and Central Asia does not bode well.

  4. Avatar Jack says:

    Brig. Ali
    Thanks for bringing this to the attention of the SST correspondents. This has long been a topic of discussion among financial investment circles. There’s a minority viewpoint there that China will not have sufficient capital to finance this large project to completion as they will sooner or later require trillions of dollars to recap their banks and shadow banks.
    Kyle Bass is one of those. Excerpts from a recent interview of his.
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-07-01/kyle-bass-shares-stunning-thing-central-banker-once-told-him

  5. Avatar LG says:

    I disagree. From what I’ve seen in various nations in Africa, the Chinese principle is “you get what you pay for”- no more, no less. Contracts on road building, pipelines, industries are established with national elites, and if they don’t play ball, the Chinese move elsewhere.
    With the West, if national elites don’t fall in with their plans, the latter are replaced.
    Contrast the strategies, one based on negotiation and peace, the other oppressive and violent.
    I also used to hear a lot of complaints from Africans about how hard their Chinese employers made them work- in slave like conditions. But they were no different in their treatment of Chinese labourers, usually prisoners, who also worked in large numbers in these coubntries.
    I remember the construction of a building by the Chinese from across my place in Khartoum, Sudan. I was working from home and observed the goings on for an entire day. A single Chinese operator of some cement mixing machine outlasted three consecutive batches of African laborers working on that site. He was cheerful throughout. I saw the same extreme industriousness by Chinese workers roadbuilding in Nigeria and Liberia.
    I know this is anecdotal, but sometimes firsthand observations are useful.
    By the way, some of local perceptions of the Chinese are shaped by the negative light they are shown in by local churches. I attended a service in Nigeria in an upscale church of prosperity. Apart from the shocking extravagance of the church, a large part of the sermon was a rant against China’s designs on Africa, which was in contrast to the benign actions of the west.

  6. Avatar Brunswick says:

    Pepe Escobar has long talked about the”New Silk Road”,
    He’s also long talked about the “Empire of Chaos”.
    The funny thing about the “New Silk Road”, is it bypasses the US.

  7. Avatar Bill Herschel says:

    This exceptional post is thrown into sharp relief by a consideration of the United States’ actions in Ukraine. Victoria Nuland, certainly not representing the wishes of the American people and explicitly contemptuous of the people of Europe (f**k the EU) engineered an ultra-right wing coup. Russia, confronted with the certainty of a “NATO” naval base in Crimea acted.
    Vladimir Putin, whose popularity in Russia was not overwhelming, became overnight the Hero of Russia (and probably the European people) by annexing Crimea. His intervention in Syria has only increased that popularity.
    How much longer can the U.S. puppet Merkel prevent an alliance between Russia and Germany, the true European union? I daresay that the entire purpose of the “European Union” was to prevent that alliance… at all costs.
    At all costs. The “neocons” have thrown everything they have into this final battle: Saudia Arabia has been given free rein to spread terror throughout the world, all in the hope that this diversion will prop up the likes of Cameron, Hollande, and Merkel a little longer. Brexit and next Marine Le Pen show how well that is working.
    War on Terror? Try Saudi Arabian War on Civilization, backed by a minority of “leaders” the United States whose last remaining champion is “private server” Clinton. Just about the only good thing you can say about Donald Trump, and it is a very good thing, is that he annihilated the Saudi Arabian puppets on the Right.
    The Emir had no allies in Europe. Charles Martel represented the French people. Would that the modern Emir was not supported and encouraged by the United States. How many more Americans, soldiers and civilians alike, must die before this Satanic alliance is broken?

  8. Avatar Bill Herschel says:

    And if you want to read an almost surreal example of Bernaysian double-speak and Satanic inversion of the truth, read this by Nicholas Kristof, the NY Times go-to specialist in neocon propaganda. Nominally, it is an article about the malignant influence of Saudi Arabia throughout the world, but it is not. Rather, it is a defense of Kosovo, a narcotics kingpin, created by NATO, that has probably spread more devastation and misery through the world via the narcotics trade than Saudi terrorists could manage in an eternity of armed attacks on civilians. Please note the explicit support of Clinton.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/03/opinion/sunday/the-terrorists-the-saudis-cultivate-in-peaceful-countries.html

  9. Avatar JJackson says:

    F B Ali
    Thank you for the excellent resume. How do you think the various South China Sea disputes fit in to all this? The gain, in terms of territorial waters, seem small when compared to political difficulties caused with neighbours who are important to this geostrategic plan. The US – with the various trade zones it is trying to set up – and this project seem busy in creating a bi-polar world – again.

  10. Avatar rjj says:

    idling around a day or so ago looked up US high level Go and chess players – who are they? how many are there?
    next question was “what are the Chinese words/expressions = chutzpah?”

  11. Avatar Peter Reichard says:

    Fueled by foreign reserves and without a scintilla of altruism behind it China has crafted a cogent plan for global economic and political primacy in the 21st century. The US response has been to play the great game of geopolitics with breathtaking ineptitude. When you are number one obviously you ally with number three, Russia against number two, China or better yet get them to fight each other. By trying to contain both simultaneously America has driven them together. Rather than offer a better alternative to the New Silk Road we have tried to stop it with chaos, color revolutions, military interventions and Islamic terrorism, an effort doomed to failure while alienating the entire world. Meanwhile the US has committed national suicide by running huge trade deficits that indebted us while enriching the Chinese, by allowing the infrastructure to crumble, dumbing down the educational system and adopting trade policies that benefit transnational corporations at the expense of the national interest.

  12. Avatar Yellow Dog says:

    Interesting to contrast this long term infrastructure vision with the short term money-grubbing practiced by American corporations and their wholly-owned representatives in the US government. Maybe we should pull our heads out of our asses, and recognize that not all public spending is always wasted.

  13. Avatar LeaNder says:

    Off topic, me following you:
    Relapse as far as I am concerned. Strictly you may want to look into the larger context. Albania? Economical problems? Historically established routes in the trade?
    But yes, Barney surely may be helpful for everybody in search for a clear definition of a easily definable evil out there.

  14. Avatar Jov says:

    Nice article.
    In my opinion, the Silk road will be built and function partly depending on the fact how the US administration and elites perceive it.
    If they analyze it through the eyes of the borg, neocons, or some other emotional way unfounded in real life, probably they will do what they can to stop it from occurring as planned.
    If there is rational analysis (taking into account that the Chinese need new jobs for their construction industry, that the world has changed a lot in the last 20 years, and although the US is without doubt the leading nation in most economic, military and similar categories, the differences are not so big as in the 90’s, and etc.) perhaps the conclusion might be that the silk road is not necessarily opposed to US interests, and that these US interests can be taken account of by the Chinese.

  15. Avatar rjj says:

    in addition to “dumbing down the educational system” there is the other Weapon of Mass dysfunctionalization — the US Cultural Commissariat’s entertainment product.
    for comparison (one of my favorites: riveting, instructive,** great meta-viewing) see
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mdKEGPdfDs&list=PLLac-P2kBBgRuug2bgj3XD7dCHeD_XH5c
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yongzheng_Dynasty

    The series, spanning 44 episodes, occupied the CCTV-1 prime time slot; after its premiere, there have been many re-runs of the show on television networks in Taiwan, Hong Kong, as well as mainland China.
    Yongzheng Dynasty was one of the most watched television series in mainland China in the 1990s and remains one of the “classics” among Chinese historical television dramas. It is among the highest rated CCTV-1 prime time historical dramas in history.
    ….[It] received critical acclaim.
    The major themes covered in the series include loyalty and betrayal, fratricide, political corruption, and the centralisation of power.

    As it relates to the groundwork for the geopolitics, hope downscale does not = off-topic.
    ** like A Little Golden Book of statecraft and its challenges.

  16. Avatar ISL says:

    Dear SST,
    For anyone not familiar with the Chinese Treasure fleet and its approach to imperialism (versus the wests), I recommend doing some research (wikipedia, etc), it is well worth a read. The comparison in technology with the Spanish at the time is very illuminating. If China had not turned inwards, an alternate history would clearly have us writing and speaking in Chinese, and not had the european’s ethically challenged approach to imperialism applied for the last half millennia.
    I see many echoes in the old approach today.
    Thanks FB Ali for bringing this to the discussion.

  17. Avatar robt willmann says:

    China’s approach to “foreign policy” is much smarter than the unfortunate gangster foreign policy of the U.S., which also has as its goal to control and dominate other countries through their political structures, rather than to make agreements for commercial ventures.
    Instead of exporting weapons of mass destruction and initiating unnecessary wars, the U.S. could export something at which it excels: medical technology and the extensive understanding of human biology, medicine, and surgery. Just think of the number of hospitals and clinics that could be built and staffed for less than the total trillions of dollars in cost spent in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the MENA area since 2001. (We also need to clean up our own medical house, with its cartel structure, price fixing, etc.).
    Mostly off topic — although a Chinese businessman is involved — is a curious incident in which the president of the United Nations General Assembly from 2013 to 2014, John Ashe, was found dead in his home on 22 June 2016, the week before he was to appear in court along with Ng Lap Seng. Mr. Ashe is said to have died of “traumatic asphyxia with laryngeal cartilage fractures while lifting barbell on bench, the county’s Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement.” In other words, he “accidentally” dropped a barbell on his throat.
    “Ashe was due in court Monday [June 27] with his Chinese businessman co-defendant Ng Lap Seng, who is charged with smuggling $4.5 million into the US since 2013 and lying that it was to buy art and casino chips.”
    “Ng was identified in a 1998 Senate report as the source of hundreds of thousands of dollars illegally funneled through an Arkansas restaurant owner, Charlie Trie, to the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton administration. (Ng was not charged with any crime [in that particular episode].)”
    “Ng and Trie had visited the White House several times for Democratic fundraising events and were photographed with then-President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton.”
    http://nypost.com/2016/06/23/ex-un-general-assembly-chief-dies-amid-bribery-scandal/?_ga=1.135162801
    .1464433910.1467554310
    http://pagesix.com/2016/06/26/disgraced-ex-un-officials-death-conveniently-timed/?_ga=1.26569789.146
    4433910.1467554310
    http://www.targetliberty.com/2016/07/un-official-accidentally-crushes-throat.html

  18. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think that the significance of this initiative is in its existence, in the first place. That is, a non-European state with strategic autonomy is promulgating a global economic and political expansion through bilateral deals.
    Like everything else in life, Chinese program probably will not reach all the goals of its planners but will also not fail as its detractors wish; it will fall somewhere in between.
    I will belabor a point that I have often made on this forum about a Positive & Credible vision of future being a sine quo none of political and commercial success (in sales activity, for example).
    That is what NATO states are lacking, in my opinion, but Chinese are succeeding in painting.

  19. Avatar Harper says:

    The OBOR project as presented by F.B. Ali and Chas Freeman has both a land and maritime dimension. China has detailed a Maritime Silk Road aspect of the overall program, that runs through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean to the east coast of Africa and up through the Suez Canal (recently greatly expanded to accomodate much larger volumes of traffic over time) into the Mediterranean and on from there. China has initiated the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank with now nearly 70 member countries, operating at world-class standards. China and Russia, along with India, are part of the BRICS which formed a New Development Bank at their Fortaleza, Brazil annual meeting in 2014, which is now operational. Russia and China just signed $50 billion in bilateral economic deals when President Putin just visited with Xi Jinping in China, following the SCO meeting in Tashkent. This is moving fast and on a grand scale. Yes, there are geopolitical games that will be played to disrupt this (recent destabilizations of Brazil and South Africa, both BRICS member countries are exemplary), but the full realization of OBOR is a counter to geopolitics. Xi Jinping refers to this as “win, win” and he is not wrong. It represents a new paradigm of thinking, not just good business deals. China has already built up the Greek port of Piraeus and Xi was just in Serbia and Poland, making deals to develop the Danube River transport routes internally in Europe, with rail links to Pireaus.
    The US has been invited, repeatedly, by China to participate in the AIIB and in the larger OBOR. In fact, there are proposals for building the tunnel links across the Bering Straits to directly bring the Western Hemisphere into this Eurasian development. Russia and China are discussing joint investment in this tunnel, rail, fiber optic and oil/gas link between the Russian Far Northeast and the Pacific coast of North America, running south. This is really worth following very closely.
    Thanks to Col. Ali and Col. Lang for bringing this wonderful opportunity to the SST group.

  20. Avatar bth says:

    Kyle Bass interview definitely worth the read.

  21. Avatar elaine says:

    “Water consumption causing Beijing to sink at alarming rate, study says” Los Angeles
    Times Water levels dropping in 45 Chinese cities & under high speed railways

  22. Avatar bth says:

    So why doesn’t China get on with it already? If they’ve got the bucks and this is of such national significance to China, Russia and Pakistan then why isn’t it done?
    The implication is that the Americans are simultaneously (1) ignoring it and (2)should be trembling over its prospects and/or (3) somehow America has thwarted its development. Well Americans didn’t mismatch the rail gauges for example; that was totally an affair between countries that have deep concerns about their neighbors. America isn’t threatened by this one way or another.
    By all rights it should have been done a decade or two ago. Instead China has benefited from decades of cheap and uninterrupted ocean access protected by the United States.

  23. Avatar ToivoS says:

    Lemus as to your #4. Stephan Cohen in one of Batchelor programs addressed the question as to why the US had such an aggressive policy towards Russia as was displayed during the Ukraine crisis. He actually had no opinion but said that some inside the beltway analysts said the top policy makers were motivated to prevent a Russian-German economic alliance. He provided no names nor references to this assertion.
    In the short term this seems to have worked. Germany was thwarted from concluding a peaceful resolution of the crisis and furthermore was pulled into the US orbit even more tightly with the sanctions and movement of NATO troops into the Baltics.

  24. Avatar Amir says:

    The Saudi problem, is not a Saudi problem. It is a House of Al Saud problem. A tribe has been allowed to multiply in a viral fashion with the help of naturally occurring resource, oil. This tribe did not contribute to the creation, exploration, extraction or ways of utilization of this natural resource. Their only “help” was one of being one of the tribes sitting on the soil, on top of the resource and willing to collaborate. You want to combat terror, then combat the Al Saud tribe and all it’s minions, spread out all over the world in the form of Ambassadors, investors, Cote d’Azur tourists.

  25. Avatar Jack says:

    bth
    You may want to also listen to Mark Hart, another Texan. He too got our credit excess right and made a fortune. He did an in-depth interview on Bloomberg some months back and went through a detailed financial analysis of China’s shadow banking system and how intertwined it was with state finance. Similar to our linkage between Wall St speculation and taxpayer backstops. He came to a similar conclusion as Kyle that the Chinese will have no choice but to devalue the yuan. And preceding that there would be capital flight as their elites get their money out.
    He was derisive of the MMT crowd who pitch unlimited government spending as panacea with no costs. A perfect free lunch. He said the Chinese devaluation would point to the fallacy of all these theories including neo-keynesian and neo-monetarist. Between China and Japan we’ll know soon enough if unicorns exist in finance.

  26. Avatar Jack says:

    Babak
    Agree. With the end of the Cold War the West has not had any positive vision for the future. IMO, its time for the US to focus on it’s home turf. And have a debate on its future. Should we return to the principles of our founding ethos or become more totalitarian while espousing the rhetoric of liberty.

  27. Avatar Burke says:

    For reference, Ambassador Freeman gave a speech dealing with the One Belt One Road policy at a conference in Berlin hosted by the Schiller Institute: http://newparadigm.schillerinstitute.com/media/chas-freeman-things-fall-apart-america-europe-and-asia-in-the-new-world-disorder/
    For a different viewpoint on OBOR given at the same conference, listen to Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s keynote address here: http://newparadigm.schillerinstitute.com/media/helga-zepp-larouche-the-future-of-mankind-will-be-beautiful-provided-we-can-avoid-the-fate-of-the-dinosaurs/

  28. Avatar MRW says:

    I agree. FB Ali, great job.

  29. Avatar different clue says:

    Harper,
    Tunnel links under the Bering Strait between Greater China and North America would subject North America to the kind of terracidal and ecocidal strip mining of all resources which China is currently applying to Tibet. Those parts of North America not thereby turned into lunar asteroid-scapes would be settled in due course by several hundred million Chinese pioneers and settlers.
    The “Bunnel” (Bering Tunnel) is the single most dangerous-to-America project that I have ever seen proposed.

  30. Avatar different clue says:

    JJackson,
    Even though I am not the one you asked about how the China Sea disputes fit into this, I will answer anyway. The ChinaGov wants all these islets and reefs in order to lay claim to all the hundreds of thousands of miles of seawater and seabed around them. The ChinaGov wants to strip mine all the fish out of the sea and sripmine all possible oil and gas and anything else from out of the sea bed.
    Leaving all the other China Sea coastal countries without any fish in the sea, and without any oil or gas or anything else from under it.

  31. Avatar different clue says:

    Peter Reichard,
    It wasn’t the US in general which committed suicide here. It was a pro Forced Trade elite which committed nation-cide against America in general in order to profit itself in particular by transferring American industry to China so as to profit itself as a self-seeking class by working the differential costs-and-conditions arbitrage rackets.
    The Yeltsinization and Ukrainification of industrial America has suited the Forced Trade elites just fine.

  32. Avatar Chris Chuba says:

    Isn’t this just a natural economic progression for China, wouldn’t any major economy try to improve its trade routes to new/existing customers?
    Caspian Sea to Indian Ocean Project:
    In the spirit of not wanting to make redundant posts, here is a link to a long cherished Iranian / Russian project along the same lines, a canal from the Caspian to either the Persian Gulf or Indian Ocean driven by many of the same concerns … http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20160409/1037748591/trans-iran-canal-prospects-analysis.html
    1. This obviously benefits Russia as it would the other countries bordering the Caspian Sea.
    2. I read elsewhere that Iran would favor the longer Indian Ocean route because there is a potential to irrigate arid regions but one of the technical challenges is that the Caspian is several feet below sea level so a lock system needs to be built. Actually, a lock system would need to be constructed in any case and this drives up the costs because no one wants to turn the Caspian from a freshwater into saltwater lake.
    Banking System:
    In terms of payback (or Karma), I would think that China, Russia, and Iran would look to expand alternative banking to bypass the dollar because of our abusive use of sanctions. I read that Iran even has trouble doing business with India because if an Indian bank has to temporarily convert from Rupees, to dollars, to Euros they can be on the hook with the U.S. treasury Dept. for violating sanctions. Yeah I know, they can work around it but it increases the cost of doing business.
    I was thinking about the EU issue a bit more. So many people assume that Russia secretly wants the EU to break apart but that could make their life more difficult because then they would receive payments for their natural gas imports in a slew of local currencies instead of Euros. I’m not so certain that they want the EU to fall apart but many in the west like to conjure up a Bogeyman and Russia is always available for that slot.

  33. Avatar VietnamVet says:

    FB Ali
    China is building infrastructure with the money that used to be paid to workers in the West and which used to multiply throughout the rest of the economy. The cut in domestic government spending, austerity, makes it worse. This is the cause for the lack of demand and crumbling infrastructure in the West. The War against Islam was conceived as the means to unify the little people and continue the flow of money to military contractors. The Great Game is being fought totally incompetently in three month intervals. Apparently, its inherent contradictions have forced the Turkish government to seek rapprochement with the Russian Federation. The European Union like Turkey is facing an existential crisis with the Muslim refugee influx, austerity, Brexit and the Islamic State attacks. Western Europe joining the One Belt, One Road as sovereign nations is a path forward to a prosperous future. Peace is better than war. The United States of America and Canada should join too.

  34. Avatar Lemur (prev EA) says:

    yes and i’ve read pieces by various russians who argue what Britain and America really wanted from the two world wars was conflict between Russia and Germany

  35. Avatar Ex-PFC Chuck says:

    And don’t forget the Wahabi mullahs they appoint to head the mosques they finance world wide.

  36. Avatar michael brenner says:

    The absence of strategic thinking in Washington is neither happenstance nor oversight. Think of requirements and implications.
    1. Government leaders must have the aptitude, skills and sense of custodial responsibility for the national welfare – not just for today but for tomorrow and the day after. None of our political elites are so endowed.
    2. The formulation of coherent strategy depends on unemotional, level–headed thinking. The United States, for the past 15 years, has embarked on audacious operations across the Islamic world driven be passionate feelings – to wreak vengeance for 9/11 and to make absolutely sure that no one ever again will be able to commit such an act (good luck!) In addition, an external party has been allowed to superimpose its blinkered view of its national interest on ours. That is due in part to domestic political influence whose significance is magnified by the peculiar infirmities of American political culture.
    3. We have become seduced by the idea that our national well-being should rely on brawn as opposed to brains – or a prudent melding of the two. Thus, the discussion of defense budgets avoids the critical need to define interests, to establish priorities based on sober threat assessments and inescapable trade-offs. Military planning itself proceeds with no systematic assessment of who the preferred enemy is. What passes for process involves selecting a threat No 1 on a quarterly basis in a manner little different than weekly football polls. So, we have al-Qaeda, ISIS, China, Russia – with Iran a perennial contender. Perhaps, we should institute a playoff of some kind to reach a determination that will serve as point of strategic reference for at least a year or two.
    4. Skewed military planning will always be the logical outcome of an analysis that begins with the implicit question: we have a $600 billion annuity which the Republicans might increase; how should we spent it? Serious strategy begins with the question: what are our needs and reasonable goals?
    5. One must learn from experience. We have been fighting an assortment of insurgencies for 15 years, yet our military is asking itself basic questions as to how we should go about it in the future and whether a Special Forces army of 75,000 is sufficient for counter-insurgencies we are not in a position to identify and which the current President has declared an unnecessary exercise since we can accomplish the desired ends by droning them to death.
    6. Strategy entails constraints as set by intellectual, organizational and budgetary commitments. That is highly discomforting for leaders who prize fluidity and indeterminacy for narrow political and bureaucratic purposes. It makes more difficulty flying by the seat of one’s pants – the preferred modus operandi at present.
    Overcoming these liabilities requires, above all, maturity. Our leaders and so-called thinkers are juveniles.

  37. Avatar Kooshy says:

    IMO, For even an economic alliance between Germany and any non US influenced country, Germany will need to first retain it’s total political sovereignty back, IMO, unfortunately, since WW2 most waring European countries do not have complete forign policy sovereignty separated and prioritized to that of US intrests. That can come, if they can afford and be willing to pay for thier own security, but IMO, unfortunately for us most Europeans, including some in my own family rather to take the ride and have us pay for thier security.

  38. Avatar apol says:

    Who rules Germany?
    I saw this on another blog.
    I am not in a position to comment on it’s veracity.
    Can anyone here do so?
    <>

  39. Avatar Ingolf says:

    bth,
    I don’t get the impression Brig Ali was suggesting the US was thwarting OBOR, or indeed that it need be scared about its prospects. Rather, both he and Freeman are simply lamenting America’s focus on trying to retain its historical primacy instead of engaging realistically and constructively with a rapidly changing world.
    As to “get[ting] on with it already”, one can question many things about China but moving too slowly isn’t one of them. Rather the opposite. I’m in the camp that believes China probably faces exceptionally difficult economic (and therefore political) times over the next decade precisely because its development has been so intensely force fed. Nevertheless, I find it impossible not to admire their extraordinary industriousness and ambition. And who knows, perhaps things will turn out better than I fear.

  40. Avatar Mark says:

    The recent, “Is An Independent Europe Possible?”, by Joe Lauria for Huffington Post, bears directly on this.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/is-an-independent-europe-possible_us_57768c8ae4b00a3ae4cdba5e
    Steinmeier is quoted as saying, “What we shouldn’t do now is inflame the situation further through saber-rattling and warmongering. Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance’s eastern border will bring security is mistaken…We are well-advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation..it would be fatal to search only for military solutions and a policy of deterrence.”
    Only a day later, General Petr Pavel, chairman of NATO’s military committee, said, “It is not the aim of NATO to create a military barrier against broad-scale Russian aggression, because such aggression is not on the agenda and no intelligence assessment suggests such a thing.”
    I think some of the brighter minds in the west sense that things have swung too far. But it’s probably too late, and it would be best for Russia and China if it is. A few years of business as usual if fences were mended, and Washington would be up to its old regime-change tricks again. A conclusive break with the west followed by an arms-length, business-only relationship in which the west is not allowed to gain any economic advantage or serious market share would be better for world peace, if such a thing exists beyond the abstract.

  41. Avatar Fred says:

    dc,
    There are already plenty of Chinese anchor babies whose parents came here on either educational or work assignments.

  42. Avatar rkka says:

    What Clue said.
    Plus, developing offshore oil fields in the South China Sea, under the umbrella of air defense and antiship missiles deployed on the new islands gives the PRC a source of oil that does not have to transit the Strait of Malacca, where the U.S. Navy is certain blockade it in the event of a US-China war.

  43. Avatar FB Ali says:

    I haven’t examined this matter in any great depth. However, I tend to think that China’s actions in the South China Sea have more to do with acquiring naval/air bases to counter the US navy rather than acquiring resources (as Different Clue seems to think). They aim to keep US naval/air power as far as possible from mainland China.
    The neighbours who are being upset are not important to OBOR, and, in any case, would support the US in opposing China. If they acquired these territorial waters, it would greatly increase the threat to China. The US’s “pivot” to Asia is openly designed to contain China by bolstering its allies in the region.
    The US does not see a bi-polar world, but one that is dominated by US military power.

  44. Avatar FB Ali says:

    What makes you think that it isn’t already under way?
    America isn’t threatened by this project, but its current domination of the world certainly is.
    I suggest you do a bit of research on the subject before you make such statements.

  45. Avatar FB Ali says:

    axel and MRW,
    Thank you!

  46. An interesting post and thread. IMO what most don’t get is how little leverage the US has in trying to achieve foreign policy goals. Whether stated or unstated.

  47. Avatar Amir says:

    Iran was trying to set up the IPI pipeline to export it’s gas from fields that were farther away from the main population centers to Pakistan and India and at the same time cement an alliance and a win-win for all three partners, thus reducing outside influences. IP part is finished. Alas the PI could not go through due to longstanding conflicts in the Subcontinent. Here, the Chinese have stepped in to arrange for the pipeline overflow to Xinjiang alongside the Karakoram highway,that is newly being expanded.
    http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/iran-backs-chinas-inclusion/article7138630.ece
    http://thediplomat.com/2015/07/modi-and-the-sino-indian-game-for-iranian-gas/

  48. Avatar Peter Reichard says:

    I agree, their
    actions are fundamentally treasonous but they don’t care because as Brzezinski stated in the 1970’s “the multinational banks and corporations are today already thinking and planning in terms that are twenty years beyond the concept of the nation state.”

  49. Avatar LeaNder says:

    Ok, Burke, second relapse. I wanted to shut up for a while. But I try to get it into a nutshell.
    Helga: Interesting, I suffer a little from the typical German “th”, and related things, but interesting anyway.
    Only I cannot wrap my head around this: “In the famous sermon 2004”???
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_of_Cusa
    Can you clarify my puzzlement?

  50. Avatar bth says:

    Offsetting the capital collapse in China, which is unprecedented, is their enormous excess cement and steel production capabilities which need to go toward productive employment. Roads, rails and pipelines might serve that purpose.
    One area of common interest with the US would be the production of copper in Afghanistan for Chinese markets. Another would be an improvement in the commercial potential of Pakistan through an overland route to China.
    An interesting unintended consequence has been the expansion plans of the Indian navy in reaction to Chinese bases and submarines in their patch. Perhaps this response was inevitable.
    While China’s land route development seems inevitable and ultimately productive, one hopes that China also recognizes the absolute imperative of freedom of navigation for the US, Japan and S. Korea into the Indian Ocean from the Pacific.

  51. Avatar Albano says:

    A new and enlarged economic, industrial, scientific tessiture is needed for a critical mass in future expansion into the universe.
    We are in a threshold quite similar with the one Europe’s XVth century’s faced.
    However, it is the whole planet, and not only europe or the west,in the verge of that expansion.
    I believe the real questions the Americans must pose themselves in this moment are:
    First: will this expasion be possible only with Chinese or Russian concurse(and the rest of asia)?
    I dont believe so: such a scale needs silk roads everywhere.
    And those silk roads must be not only in China’s agenda, but in the US and all the west agendas.
    Second: Will it be possible for the USA to pursue such a venture against the power structure you call “Borg” or, worse even, over it’s dead body? In other words: is it possible to include such an adventure in the Borg’s agenda so it can change its dinamics ?
    And to that I say: if an such infrastructure can be built all over the world -wich, by the way, is the only way to give humanity some dignity without destroying the planet-, the fiscal recollection it would bring could finance a real space expansion.
    An I dont see a better suited complex to take such a venture, than the military-industrial one (or the many that exist today).
    In other words, perhaps everyone, even the present day villains, could gain a lot and, under such perspective, it would be interesting to co-opt them. Much better than waging war, eh ?
    But, in order to succeed, the famous multipolar order should prevail.
    hope to have added something useful for thought.

  52. George Friedman, the head of STRATFOR, is also of the opinion that keeping Germany and Russia at odds was the main reason for the coup in Kiev (“the most blatant coup in history”): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFmfwqzWmHk

  53. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    India could build a long road that starts at the Chinese border in Northeastern India to any number of Indian ports on the Indian ocean and thus furnish another route for China to access World markets – and benefit the Indian population all along that route – move them out of less-than-a-dollar-a-day poverty.
    Alas, Indian leaders never showed any kind of Win-Win vision in respect to China; they are like UK in conforming to US strategies.

  54. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    Caspian Sea to Indian Ocean canal project was a brain fart that died as it surely so deserved.
    I think the extension and expansion of the existing Iranian road and rail road infrastructures could more efficiently connect the maritime traffic of the Indian Ocean to Russia.
    To my knowledge, the alternative banking system that you envision does not extend to Iran in any substantial way.

  55. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for furnishing proof-positive in support of my claim on this forum that Germany is a semi-sovereign state.

  56. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is how I look at it.
    Let us say that the Silk Road land and maritime developments are successful and make any number of countries more prosperous. Then those countries could be buying more stuff from US; say Boeing jets, agricultural equipment, SUVs, Cosmetics (Lipstick is an absolute must) and brand-name hand bags.
    Westerners have made hand-bags the essential item of femininity all over the world – that is one for “Cultural Imperialism”.

  57. Avatar LeaNder says:

    Final note: My problem really starts slightly earlier. At around 30:xx Helga somewhat misuses an article by Klaus von Dohnanyi, if you ask me, fitting it far too neatly into her narrative. Interesting article, nevertheless.
    Sorry, seems Google translate does not work well on the FAZ article:
    http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/klaus-von-dohnanyi-ueber-den-brexit-und-europa-14291266.html?printPagedArticle=true#pageIndex_2
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klaus_von_Dohn%C3%A1nyi

  58. Avatar r whitman says:

    Within the next 3 years China will land people on the moon. Within 6 years they will have a permanent base on the moon. This will shift a tremendous amount of scientific/technological prestige around the world to China with unknown implications. It may well have military considerations also (It always helps to occupy the high ground).

  59. “By trying to contain both simultaneously America has driven them together”
    Yup. Richard Nixon would be rolling in his grave …

  60. Avatar Ulenspiegel says:

    “5.1. The German media will be controlled by the occupation powers of Germany until 2099. ”
    OMG. Everybody who actually reads German newspapers can only come to the conclusion that there is no control or the control failed. 🙂
    “5.2. Germany’s gold reserves were confiscated without compensation. ”
    You tell me that the German economy prospers without gold reserves. Fine with me.
    Hint: Even conspiracy theories should have a minimum of inner logic. Otherwise they sound very very stupid.

  61. Avatar alba etie says:

    A
    Closer to home here in These United States, Gov Schwarzeneger during his term made sure the Chinese built the replacement for the SF bay Bridge. And apparently the same PRC outfit will soon be building the New York City Harlem Bridge,.

  62. Avatar alba etie says:

    All
    If Trump as not such a bloviator many of us might actually vote for him solely on the issue of Fair Trade .( sigh )

  63. Avatar different clue says:

    Fred,
    At least they don’t have a Bunnel rail link to be able to co-ordinate the strip mining/ strip farming/ strip lumbering/ strip etcetera of every valuable thing from within the borders of North America ( “Our New Overseas Tibet”) and ship it all by rail or by railhead-served ships from ports.

  64. Avatar different clue says:

    VietnamVet,
    I would like to see EUrope join OBOR first. I would like to see North America wait for 30 years or so to see what happens to EUrope.
    I believe that China is working to achieve a Greatest Ever China OBOR Co-Prosperity Sphere where All Pipelines Drain To China. I believe that if EUrope joins OBOR, China will patiently and in due course turn EUrope into one big NAFTAfied Mexico. The Chinese wouldn’t turn EUrope all the way into Tibet. They would allow EUrope to live on as a sort of cultural petting zoo for Chinese tourists.
    But I realize I could be wrong. I just think we should wait and see for sure before joining. Lets wait for 30 years after EUrope joins OBOR.
    If EUrope visibly benefits, then we can decide to join too. If EUrope gets NAFTAfied, then we can still avoid the same fate.
    I would rather see America be a free and independent backwater than to see it become a New Overseas Tibet.

  65. Avatar Ingolf says:

    For sure, and excess capacity exists in many other industries too. As you (and Brig Ali) say, OBOR will help to absorb at least some of this. What matters most in the long run is whether these investments are economically viable. The Chinese intention to heavily involve the private sector in deciding what gets built is encouraging. Providing, of course, that’s what actually ends up happening.
    If the US could treat these matters more in economic terms, there would be endless areas of common interest. The great pity is that this seems unlikely.
    On your last point, I doubt China sees any upside in disrupting freedom of navigation for anyone. All the present argy-bargy is just China asserting itself, I think, although alienating its neighbours doesn’t seem a particularly smart policy. One can only hope they work towards a new modus vivendi relatively soon.

  66. Avatar charly says:

    I believe their plan was something like 2024 or 2025. With this kind of stuff it is smarter to do it slowly so you don’t spook your opponent into action.

  67. Avatar Amir says:

    Wahabi mullah is a contradictio in terminis. They have preachers in Wahabism but those are not part of a formally structured hierarchical religious order. Their influence is determined by the dept of the pocket of their personal sponsor. Wahabism is basically a state religion not the other way around. House of Saud promotes it to protects itself an the other benefits from the Saud’s largesse.

  68. Avatar Amir says:

    Check Cordoban leather: better quality, at lower cost and better design and speaking of exclusivity, worthy of Queen Sofia https://www.meryancor.com/en/ . All the rest has it’s alternatives too. US is going to find other markets and those markets are going to find other suppliers. Just the nature of the game.

  69. Avatar different clue says:

    FB Ali,
    No seeming about it . . . that is what I think. Resource ripoff is the prime goal here, and US Naval exclusion serves the prime resource-ripoff goal by signalling to the other China Sea coastal countries that “All your seabed are belong to us. And we will take the oil and the fish down to the very last barrel and the very last sardine. And there is NOTH. ING. that the United States can do about it.”
    The next thirty years should prove me right or wrong.

  70. Avatar Mark Logan says:

    different clue,
    I am unaware of anything in Alaska which can not be obtained in Siberia, and the distance of the Bering Strait from any meaningful sources of lumber is very large. It will be cheaper to ship lumber by ship for quite some time to come.
    Siberia has moist everything China needs but it would be unwise at best for them to make themselves utterly dependent upon any one source. It will not be a major consumer market anytime soon either. There are tremendous oil reserves in Siberia, it’s not light, it’s not sweet, but it won’t take a fleet of aircraft carriers to protect the LOC.

  71. Avatar bth says:

    If OBOR can help Pakistan or Afghanistan find a productive place in the global economy the world would certainly be better off. Rising Chinese labor costs might spur this along. Vietnam and Philippines were logical offshoring places for China but its maritime policy adds a political risk to the economic calculation.
    Would an improved land route from Pakistan to China facilitate Pakistan’s textile industry for example or perhaps allow it to do electronic assembly? I am curious to know what Brig Ali thinks about Pakistan’s best economic future and how OBOR might improve it.

  72. Avatar bth says:

    India deliberately left its road infrastructure near the Chinese border underdeveloped because she is afraid of Chinese military surges into its territory and believes inadequate road infrastructure there would hinder a military advance. If a comprehensive border resolution between China and India could be sorted out then infrastructure would soon follow.

  73. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yup, victims of their own I-am-a-great-power-too aspirations.

  74. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    In Saarland, Germany takes the petrochemicals exported to her from Iran and a number of other places and turns them into all manner of useful chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, resins, etc.
    Their resource in Brain Power, which, must judge others to be lacking. I mean, why is there no analogue of Saarland industrial capacity in Iran, or Iraq, or Venezuela, or Mexico, or Saudi Arabia, or Nigeria, or UAE, or Qatar, or Russia?
    Yes, the name of the game is “Resource Rip-off” – as long as one understands that resource to be the human minds.

  75. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    On your number one, I think one cannot go into space without Russia – China I am not sure.
    In the 19-th century, to fund some of these ventures, people sold subscriptions; may be something like that can be done presently.

  76. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yup, like “A Surge in Detroit” – are you paying attention Fred?

  77. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, that is another thing common between Iran and Spain; they seems to cultivate their ancient handicraft industries. In an analogous manner to Esfahan, you can see a lot of metal works from Toledo – largely weapons – up for sale for tourists.

  78. Avatar SmoothieX12 says:

    Somehow I doubt it. In a sense that it will be China’s only and that it will be on time you mentioned. It is not a secret that Chinese space program for all intents and purposes is a clone of a Soviet one. A lot in Chinese space program still depends on cooperation with Russia.

  79. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yup; they licensed a lot of technology from Russia – everything from the capsule to the space suit.

  80. Avatar SmoothieX12 says:

    That is highly discomforting for leaders who prize fluidity and indeterminacy for narrow political and bureaucratic purposes.
    Agree. But it is all akin to jazz where uneducated musically public will not see (hear) the difference between pure cacophony resulting from lacking solid musicianship on the part of a performer and a true musical jazz gem performed with skill by a true master. Fluidity and indeterminacy here, in my very humble opinion, are merely means to an end of covering up an incompetence of biblical proportions. Real statecraft (the one which actually requires statesmen not politicians) is this jazz–today it is a cacophony performed by amateurs who try to convince us (and themselves) that they play a complex musical piece, when in reality they merely rape instruments.
    P.S. Actually in jazz (especially avant-garde)they do play cacophony and even dodecaphony, but that too, actually, requires a hell of a musical skill.

  81. Avatar SmoothieX12 says:

    Yup; they licensed a lot of technology from Russia – everything from the capsule to the space suit.
    They did more than just licensing, if you know what I mean;-) 1990s were great times for China in terms of technology “transfer” from Russia. Everyone took part in pillaging Russia then. China benefited greatly.

  82. Fred Fred says:

    Babak,
    Chicago is the place that needs the “surge”; especially if Obama wants to clear out some currently under valued real estate currently occupied by(trigger warning) folks who deserved to be surged out of the way. Regarding the yaun devaluation these folks talking about it keep leaving out China’s history of rebellions.

  83. Avatar alba etie says:

    Smoothie X12
    Jazz is IMO rightly consider an American art form that has been exported and reinvented world wide for all of us to enjoy . You might actually enjoy the early jazz recordings done by Lomax . You will find them among other places at the Library of Congress.

  84. Avatar Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to Ulenspiegel 04 July 2016 at 01:51 PM
    Just for fun I googled “5.1. The German media will be controlled by the occupation powers of Germany until 2099”
    The top results range from Veterans Today which seems to be getting battier by the day to the far-right British National Party to Something Called the Adelaide Institute which is yet another “The Nazis never killed nobody and the Joos are behind everything” site and seems to be even battier than Veterans Today and the BNP combined.

  85. Avatar bth says:

    Thanks. I track down the Bloomberg interview. The capital flight out of China is a very real one which I experienced. My overall conclusion is that the Communist Party ultimately fears domestic instability which is linked to unemployment and as such will do whatever is needed to protect their power base. Devaluation is the least painful option among several that they have to keep the economic wheels from locking up. Political repression and creation of a confrontation in S. China Sea are also options to maintain power and are time tested options. In sum, devaluation is the least painful option. The problem with it as Bass pointed out is that it doesn’t work if other countries are also doing it.

  86. Avatar SmoothieX12 says:

    Jazz is an American art-form, same as blues. But both also got Europeonized to a large extent. I love both.

  87. Avatar bth says:

    The international court ruling will come down on the 12th which will be interesting.

  88. Avatar bth says:

    So why doesn’t Iran invest in more downstream refinement? Is it internal pricing? Political risk? I’ve always wondered why it doesn’t capture more of the value added chain.

  89. Avatar bth says:

    Your mentioned of handbags makes me smile. An old friend who spent years in Iran told me, “Iranian women were the most beautiful in the world and they know it.” I still chuckle at how he said it.

  90. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    Obviously they lack the Brain Power of Germans.

  91. Avatar different clue says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    The Saarland had/ has a happy combination of a cultureload of people with long and deep history of Brain Power toGETHer WITH good livable climate, a Rhine Riverfull of water for drinking, farming, navigating, shipping, industrial process cooling; farmland in good enough a climate to be reliably farmable on skywater alone; coal within shipping distance, iron ore within shipping distance, etc. How many of the countries you listed have all those things at once and close enough together to be considered “in the same place”?

  92. Avatar FB Ali says:

    bth,
    There is a detailed piece on CPEC in Wikipedia at:
    http://tinyurl.com/nn8x83g
    An extract that refers to your query: “CPEC is considered economically vital to Pakistan in helping it drive economic growth. The Pakistani media and government have called CPEC investments a “game and fate changer” for the region, while both China and Pakistan intend that the massive investment plan will transform Pakistan into a regional economic hub and further boost the deepening ties between the two countries”.
    I also think that it will be a “game-changer” for Pakistan.

  93. Avatar FB Ali says:

    Don’t worry. China has no plans to incorporate the USA into OBOR. No tunnels likely to be dug under the Bering Straits. You can sleep peacefully at night.
    I disagree with any notion that OBOR is designed to enslave other countries or economies to China.

  94. Avatar kao_hsien_chih says:

    The Treasure Fleet also cost the Chinese government an inordinate amount of treasure, while bringing in nothing to enrich China. In a sense, that’s what US foreign policy is doing now, with the carrier battle groups replacing the grand treasure ships and costing about as much, to awe the faraway peoples with a show of imperial munificence and power, while the distressed peasants at home are revolting in disgust, with the fleets occasionally attacking uppity faraway potentates and emirs for nothing more than offending the prestige of the emperor, all at enormous cost. Quite frankly I’ll be very happy to see US get out of that nonsensical business.

  95. Avatar michael brenner says:

    The difference between jazz fluidity and improvisation, on the one hand, and cacophony on the other comes across clearly when you listen to small groups from the classic era, i.e. pre-bebop. The Ellington small group recordings are especially instructive and come with extensive liner notes by someone who was present (1938-39). Also noteworthy are the reissues of Louis Armstrong groups from the 1950s. Outstanding is “Satchmo Plays W.C. Handy” where you hear the interplay among musicians and even the between takes interplay with the sound engineer. The marvelous singer Melva Middleton is an integral part of the music-making. By contrast, the Obama administration looks and sounds like the “free-play” period at an elementary school for precocious but troubled kids.

  96. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    Russia, Iran, Mexico, Iraq, Venezuela…

  97. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    OK, a surge in Detroit, Chicago, Camden, East St. Louis and a number of other places – led by Gary Cooper, Gene Autry, Audi Murphy and John Wayne to make those places safe for widows and orphans.
    The area around IIT has been a very dangerous place for decades; “Do not walk around if you value your life.” has been the sage advice about that place – long before the presidency of Obama.

  98. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    If someone takes away their brand-name sunglasses, there would be a revolution.

  99. Fred Fred says:

    Babak,
    Those Western White males are long gone. The areas “around” Detroit are the safe places. The violence is due to far too many people in the city rejecting the Western value of not settling every dispute with bullets.

  100. Avatar alba etie says:

    michael brenner
    Dave Brubeck (Take Five) , also an American Classic Jazz player said to be heavily influenced by Mr Armstrong .

  101. Avatar SmoothieX12 says:

    If my memory doesn’t fail me–the composition is by Paul Desmond from Dave Brubeck Quartet.

  102. Avatar SmoothieX12 says:

    I am a Blue Note days of glory fan. Come to think about it–I am pretty much average in jazz tastes with standard set ranging from Miles and Coltrane (yes, Kind Of Blue I can listen non-stop for days)to Dexter Gordon. I do have a very soft spot, though, for modern fusion. Per “”free-play” period at an elementary school”–couldn’t have said better myself.

  103. Avatar albanopina@gmail.com says:

    what I wanted to express (excuse me for my poor english) is that the US (and the whole Americas for that matter), need to build/rebuild all their crumbling or missing infrastructures (roads, railroads, energy sistems,water sistems, delivery sistems and, above all, affordable education)wich is your own silk road or, so to speak, the american parcel of it.
    Of course all the financial mess must be swept, but one must start somewhere.
    With that, rebuild the educated middle-class and the fiscal base, both of them necessary for such a project.
    You did it superbly in the 60s/70s and, as far as I know, with federal budget. Why did you stop ?
    Your present day edge was mostly created then, with a military/space/industrial complex that for some reason went mad.
    Was it more lucrative to build attack helicopters that spaceships?
    If so, now you must think big to make it more lucrative to build space ships, and bases, than attack choppers.

  104. Avatar turcopolier says:

    albanopina@gmail.com
    IMO the Republicans are committed to smaller government spending. Their value judgment and yours in the matter of relative priorities is clearly different. pl

  105. Avatar K. P. says:

    China did not start annexing reefs in the South China Sea until Clinton openly threatened it with the diplomatic declaration in Hanoi that the US intended to act as arbiter for the conclusion of disputes in the region. “…[A]s a Pacific nation and resident power we have a national interest in freedom of navigation, open access…maintenance of peace and stability, and respect for international law in the South China Sea.”
    Of course, what Clinton failed to mention is that virtually the ONLY maritime activity in the South China Sea involves ships navigating to and from China – them, and fishermen from the Philippines, Japan, China, Vietnam, and Taiwan. As far as overfishing the area goes, the Taiwanese, Japanese, and Filipinos are at least as guilty as the Chinese are.
    That sea is called the South “China” sea – not “Vietnamese,” “Filipino,” “Indonesian,” nor “Malay”, and certainly not the American sea. So what we have in the South China Sea is a region of the ocean that is almost entirely – in terms of trade – navigated by ships traveling to and from China. China was quite content to leave aside the various assertions of sovereignty and international disputes until a copasetic agreement could be worked out, but then Clinton came out with this little gem:
    “The United States supports a collaborative diplomatic process by all claimants for resolving the various disputes in the South China Sea.”
    So first, Clinton asserts that the US has an interest in the area as a “resident power,” then that the US is going to push through (via ASEAN) the “resolution” of a mostly non-existent conflict by promoting Filipino and Vietnamese interests over that of the Chinese, and then she goes on to add that the “United States is concerned that recent incidents in the South China Sea threaten the peace and stability…[that] endanger the safety of life at sea, escalate tensions, undermine freedom of navigation, and pose risks to lawful unimpeded commerce and economic development.”
    Now, I happened to be paying attention at this point in time (2011) and this last assertion by her is pretty much a full-on fabrication. There were no significant increases of tension in the region, and where there had been any violent incidents it had almost entirely been Taiwan and the Philippines, or Taiwan and Vietnam – Chinese ships of any official capacity were almost never involved, and when Chinese fishermen got out of line they were pretty regularly charged and punished back in China.
    It was about 10 days later that Obama announced his “pivot to Asia” – THEN the Chinese began turning those reefs into mini naval-bases, and for obvious reasons: they have no intention of letting the Vietnamese and Filipinos assert some sort of sovereignty over a part of the world that is critical to maintaining Chinese international trade, nor are they going to cede control of the region’s resources (there is gas and oil down there) to either of those countries.
    China is creating small islands out of those reefs, and i reckon they’re going to station a lot of missiles and signal stations on them, as well as small service ports.
    I don’t think there’s any point in blaming the Chinese for doing what any fool would have expected them to do, given Clinton and Obama’s provocation. This is just more of the same lack of vision by US leadership (and reliance on weaponry, rather than diplomacy) that people were talking about up above.
    http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2011/07/20110723125330su0.9067433.html#ixzz4DhEJxA5T

  106. Avatar K. P. says:

    One of the defining characteristics of the Chinese government are its 5, 10, and 15 year plans. The entire country’s economic, industrial, and educational systems are planned out in allotments of 15 years, with reports on how well the goals are being met and what adjustments should be made at the 5 and 10 year marks.
    Generally, the Chinese are very good at meeting their goals. For instance, back in the year 2000 the Chinese government laid out a plan for developing a fully functioning domestic automobile industry that would begin exporting to other countries. Today, that’s precisely what they’ve created, and largely on schedule.
    These reports are compiled and presided over by the highest levels of leadership, and benefit from a unified sense of purpose. These economic plans are a big part of the reason China’s economy has grown so rapidly and steadily for so long. Nothing like that quite exists in the US; we get the President implementing a bunch of recommendations from competing groups which are mostly financed by the corporatocracy. The farthest into the future any president can look to is maybe 8 years, and even that’s not a given.
    Historically, our Senate was supposed to serve this sort of purpose – planning, development, management of public resources, execution of the plans – with the President playing a supporting role. Clearly, that’s not what’s happening today, though.

  107. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    Reminds of the UK, France, Italy, US, New Zealand and a lot of other naval assets in the Persian Gulf – used to be known as “I Gulfo di Persicos”.
    I wonder if any Italian fool of a military vessel is also cruising up and down there, protecting 300-pund Arab men against the Manichean Evil-doers in the North – who are ready to pounce at a moment’s notice – but for the brave Faranji, who are protecting True Muslims from Rafezi infidels.

  108. Avatar bth says:

    Thanks. The Pakistan leg of the project is much more extensive than I realized. Let’s hope that it helps Pakistan export to China.

  109. Avatar Shah Alam says:

    Think of what Donald Trump’s reaction would be to the crystallization of OBOR! To make America Great again, he would not need to build walls anymore: instead he will have to destroy the virtual walls that he will suddenly find himself confined in 🙂

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