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[LINK] “What Is China’s Navy Doing in Mediterranean?”

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Noah Feldman of Bloomberg View notes the geopolitical and economic rationale behind China’s naval exercises in the Mediterranean.

[T]he Chinese-Russian exercises also look like a symbolic response to U.S. efforts to strengthen security relationships with China’s Asian neighbors. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to Washington is a case in point. Abe has begun a genuine discussion within Japan about whether to amend the pacifist constitution, transforming the country’s self-defense force into something more like a standard military.

The impetus for this change is China’s increasing security threat to its Asian neighbors — and a nagging uncertainty on the part of Japanese about whether the U.S. would go to war to defend Japan in a pinch. Abe’s visit is part of an attempt by the Barack Obama administration to reassure the Japanese, but also to implicitly to lend credibility to Abe’s defense initiatives.

[. . .]

Yet this geopolitical angle doesn’t necessarily explain why the Mediterranean. Naval exercises almost anywhere could’ve expressed the same thing, perhaps even more strongly, because China’s naval assets in the Mediterranean aren’t particularly significant.

The better explanation for why the Mediterranean is much more local. China has twice in recent years had to send its ships to rescue and evacuate significant numbers of Chinese workers who fell into danger as a result of regional instability. The first time was in Libya, where 35,800 Chinese workers had to be evacuated after the 2011 uprising and subsequent bombing campaign to bring down Muammar Qaddafi. The second time was in late March and early April, when Chinese ships helped offload several hundred Chinese workers from Yemen as the situation there further deteriorated and Saudi airstrikes escalated.

These episodes brought home China’s evolving role in the Middle East and North Africa. So far, Chinese policy makers have shown no interest in inheriting the traditional U.S. role of maintaining hegemony in the Middle East to create stability and facilitate the flow of oil. However, China has to some degree included the Middle East in its strategy of building infrastructure projects in less-developed countries and establishing substantial settlements of Chinese workers there.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 20, 2015 at 10:49 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO examines the nature of Toronto’s abundant consumption of electricity.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study of the atmosphere of Wasp 80b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Russian rocket manufacturer Energomash may go out of business as a result not of sanctions but of threatened sanctions.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money does not approve of Kenya’s plan to deport Somali refugees.
  • Mark MacKinnon shares an old 2003 article of his from Iraq.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the new Vulcan rocket.
  • pollotenchegg maps, by province, the proportion of Ukrainians claiming Russian as their mother language.
  • Registan argues that NATO and Russia might be misinterpreting
  • Spacing Toronto shares a screed on cyclists.
  • Towleroad notes that Chile now has same-sex civil unions.
  • Transit Toronto notes that the TTC has hired an external corporation to manage the problematic Spadina subway extension.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues that libertarians do exist as a distinguishable political demographic.
  • Window on Eurasia examines turmoil in Karelia and terrorism in Dagestan.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Anthropology.net notes the embarrassing discovery that one of the vertebrae believed to have been part of the skeleton of early hominid Lucy actually belonged to a baboon.
  • Antipope Charlie Stross comes up with another worrisome explanation for the Great Filter.
  • BlogTO visits the Toronto offices of photo community site 500px.
  • Centauri Dreams features a guest essay from Ashley Baldwin about near- and medium-term search strategies and technologies for exoplanets.
  • Crooked Timber examines problems with non-copyright strategies.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper noting oddities in the protoplanetary disk of AA Tauri.
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers how how to make enduring software.
  • Mathew Ingram notes that Rolling Stone encountered ruin with the story of Jackie by wanting it to be true.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a New York City artist who took pictures of people in adjacent condos won the privacy suit put against him.
  • Language Hat looks at foreign influence in the French language.
  • Language Log links to a study of Ronald Reagan’s speeches that finds evidence of his progression to Alzheimer’s during the presidency.
  • Languages of the World considers the geopolitics of a military strike against the Iranian nuclear program.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that Jonah Lehrer was not treated unfairly.
  • Marginal Revolution approves of Larry Kramer’s new GLBT-themed history of the United States.
  • Justin Petrone at North contrasts Easter as celebrated in Estonian and Russian churches.
  • Savage Minds features an essay in support of the BDS movement aimed against Israel.
  • Spacing engages David Miller on the need of urbanites to have access to nature.
  • Torontoist notes the popularity of a bill against GLBT conversion therapy at Queen’s Park.
  • Towleroad observes the beginning of an opera about Grindr.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy takes issue with Gerry Trudeau’s criticism of cartoons which satirize Islam.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at a Tatar woman who kept Islam alive in Soviet Moscow, argues that the sheer size of Donbas means that Russia cannot support it, looks at the centrality of the Second World War in modern Russia, and suggests the weak Ukrainian state but strong civil society is the inverse of the Russian situation.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • At Acts of Minor Treason, Andrew Barton is very unhappy with the misuse of the Hugo Award.
  • Anthropology.net notes that DNA has been retrieved from an ancient and mostly fossilized Neanderthal fossil.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the early history of the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • Crooked Timber looks at the controversies over religious liberty.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze considers how extraterrestrial life can be detected through disequilibria in exoplanet atmosphere and notes the recent Alpha Centauri B study.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that by 2018 a laser will be deployed on a drone.
  • Geocurrents shares slides from a recent lecture on Yemen.
  • Language Hat examines the Yiddish word “khnyok”.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the Republican race.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the unpopularity of political jobs among young Americans.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes SpaceX’s problem with retrieving the first stages of its rockets.
  • Torontoist looks at beekeeping in Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes a Kickstarter fundraiser for Emil Cohen’s photos of queer life in Providence.
  • Transit Toronto notes the expansion of free WiFi throughout the subway system.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that divorce papers can be served via Facebook if it is the most practical alternative.
  • Window on Eurasia fears a summertime Russian attack on Ukraine, notes Russian fears of rebellion at home, and looks at Russian Internet censorship.
  • The World’s Gideon Rachman wonders if the Greek demand for Second World War reparations will bring the Eurozone crisis to a head.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes the essential lack of difference on government spending between Labour and the Tories and looks at flawed computer databases.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO shares vintage photos of Weston Road.
  • Centauri Dreams features a guest post on the fast radio bursts that had all astir.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper about the circumstellar disk of AB Aurigae.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes problems with Russia’s development of a stealth fighter.
  • Language Hat links to an examination of the way the words “chikungunya” and “dengue” are used to describe the same disease.
  • Languages of the World takes a look at one dying Russian dialect of Alaska.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is surprised anyone is surprised Britain is spying on Argentina.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that demand in China and India is already driving research and development.
  • Peter Rukavina looks at the mechanics of the Internet presences of Island political parties.
  • Savage Minds announces the return of the intermittant online anthropological journal Anthropologies.
  • Transit Toronto links to a collection of Greater Toronto Area transit news.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy reacts at length to the finding of the report on Rolling Stone‘s mistaken rape story, noting that the fraternity in question has a good case for libel.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Crimean Tatar news outlet closures and notes that Ukrainian government ministers widely speak English.

[LINK] “Ethiopia Spends Very Little Money on Its Military — And It Works”

Medium’s Robert Beckhusen argues that Ethiopia makes very good use of its military budget. I would add that part of it may have to do with the weakness of opponents, like Eritrea never mind Somali warlords. Still, interesting.

“In part due to previous lessons learned, to date Ethiopia has been able to foil any significant terrorist attacks by Al Shabaab, though not for lack of trying by the terrorist organization,” OE Watch, the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office monthly newsletter, recently noted.

The Ethiopians “scare the Hell out of everybody,” Alexander Rondos, the European Union’s representative for the Horn of Africa, said in 2014.
By global standards, Ethiopia’s military spending as a percentage of its GDP is low—only around 0.8 percent—which puts it in the bottom half of countries.

By African standards, the dollar amount spent—around $330 million per year or so depending on the source—is middling. Ethiopia is one of the few countries on the continent that decreased its defense budget during the past decade, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Despite this, Ethiopia has one of the strongest armies in Africa, arguably outmatched only by Egypt, Algeria and South Africa. And these three countries spend far more on their militaries, both in per capita terms and in actual dollars, than Ethiopia.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 7, 2015 at 7:36 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes the opening of a Detroit-style pizzeria in Toronto’s Leslieville.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper claiming that circumbinary Earth-like worlds can exist.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the American military’s mysterious X-37b space plane.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the opposition of Walmart to an anti-gay bill in Arkansas.
  • Language Hat argues that, at least in the recent past, English has displaced local languages in India. This may be changing.
  • Marginal Revolution seems to warn that too many Chinese are getting into stock speculation.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the overly-close relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian state and observes the closing of Crimean Tatar news media.
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