The first and most important thing we must understand about war is its inherent unpredictability. Wars never go according to script or plan, most often when the attacking force chronically underestimates their opponents and attempts to skirt long-term complications in favor of a quick, swift, and instant victory brought about by a so-called "master plan".
It is that time of the year again. While Chinese New Year is a wonderful celebration of culture, family, and heritage, it has also become an increasingly tedious political football to the point of annoyance. That is because some people are intent on redefining it to push the idea that Chinese New Year is not in fact, "Chinese" at all, and thus push the revisionist title: "Lunar New Year."
Every single state has a right to what is called "national security"- if we are to give the term a definition, it refers to the need for governments to protect the sovereignty, laws, order and integrity of their given territory from a number of threats, which can include, but are not limited to, foreign interference, insurrection, terrorism, espionage and separatism, or in other words activities which pose fundamental harm to the existence of the state in question and its population.
As Chinese New Year finally passes for 2024, Beijing's diplomatic engagement on the international stage resumes. As reported in the British press, Foreign Minister Yi is to meet with British Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron, a figure of course who is loathed in this field by the media because of his "pro-engagement" legacy during his tenure as Prime Minister. To this end, an article in the Guardian caught my attention, headlined: "David Cameron to have first meeting with Chinese foreign minister."
At the weekend football superstar Lionel Messi was set to play in a friendly in Hong Kong for his Major League Soccer (MLS) side Inter Miami. However, due to what he claimed was a groin strain injury, he missed the much hyped game and was not able to play. However, just days later he appeared and played in another game in Kobe, Japan. This development drew reactions of disdain and even anger on Chinese social media, who accused him of lying about his injury and snubbing the country. Of course, political issues in respect to Japan are sensitive in China.
It is a lose-lose situation, but there is an English idiom which goes "it is better the devil you know," and I truly feel even the American people, as much as Biden may dour some of them, do not deserve a repeat of Trump again.
Last week, a row broke out between a right-wing musician called Brendan Kavanagh and some Chinese tourists, who did not want to be filmed on his YouTube livestream. The row initiated a media firestorm, which of course was quickly astroturfed by the mainstream media and unsurprisingly depicted as a party-state "influence" campaign that was somehow trying to enforce Chinese laws on British territory.
The western media have largely decided that China's economy is in a state of turmoil. Despite official GDP figures suggesting 5.2% growth in the year of 2023, this statistic is pretty much dismissed by all reports, which choose to focus on the country's real estate crisis, youth unemployment, sluggish growth in exports and manufacturing and recently, stock market troubles.
Multiple members of the International Criminal Court (ICC), initiated by South Africa, are pursuing a lawsuit against Israel accusing them of genocide in the Gaza strip, which they aim, according to their own words, to military occupy. Benjamin Netanyahu has called for the dismissal of any verdict by the court, and has also in recent weeks doubled down on his explicit rejection of a two-state solution altogether.
A few days ago an analysis piece appeared on the North Korean research website 38North which queried "Is Kim Jong Un preparing for war?" This site, which is not known for hyperbole, sensationalism or dramaticism, is generally respected, and the article, written by Robert Carlin and Siegfried Hecker, presented the argument that Kim Jong Un, having seen the process of normalization with the United States fall apart, has made the strategic decision to pursue war upon being emboldened by the geopolitical context.
Over the weekend the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Presidential election in Taiwan, albeit narrowly and without a solid majority, electing William Lai (Lai Ching-te) as the island's new leader. Predictably, this result was met with a firestorm of applause from the Western mainstream media as he is the man they have been backing and does not want the island to become more reconciliatory to China in its approach.
Recently, China reported that it arrested and charged one of its own nationals on suspicion of spying for British overseas intelligence service MI6. The MI6 is the equivalent of the CIA, which deals with foreign intelligence gathering, and as such coordinates closely with it as part of the Five Eyes alliance.
The Middle East increasingly teeters on the brink of a much more catastrophic conflict. Not only are the US and its allies aiming to confront the Houthis in Yemen, but in addition, Israel's Mossad unit is accused of numerous high prolife attacks and assassinations in Lebanon and Iran, as is the norm for them.
The Gulf of Aden is a critical strategic waterway that forms the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Here, it creates a critical junction between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, creating one of the most important shipping passages in the world, not least because through the Suez Canal, it offers a route forward to the Mediterranean Sea and therefore, Europe and the Atlantic Ocean, bypassing the immensely long, inconvenient, and treacherous route of circling all Africa.
It was announced over the weekend that veteran journalist and broadcaster John Pilger had passed away at the age of 84 years old. Pilger, who had been shunned by the mainstream media in his latter years, was a fierce critic of western foreign policy and offered some of the best journalistic and critical exposes in that angle, even to the point the BBC was obliged to publish his obituary. Of course, as I wrote on my X (Twitter) account at the time, I questioned did they of course publish or platform any of his work in recent years?