This week, before the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. and beginning of the Christmas season, while the stock market is at historic highs and recent mid-term elections are producing after-election blues, vitriol, threats and increasingly polarized politics as the 2016 presidential election season arrives early…
Question of the week – @LewisPugh: What is worse: Giving up too quick or staying too long?
Having mulled that over, we move right on to the followup question of the week — will or won’t the extended negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran produce an agreement? The clock is ticking — and the consequences could be immense of a failure to reach an agreement. The world’s news organizations, as of Friday, November 21, are producing thousands of articles, opinions and editorials, and the consensus seem to be that if a deal is not arrived at before the deadline, then the talks will be extended. In the background, as we end our report this week below, looms nuclear weapons modernization by the U.S. and Russia, China and a new round of proliferation raises serious concerns.
If the talks do not produce an agreement, then what?
Some of ‘the options’ in contingency planning… Low-intensity conflict with cyberwar, sabotage, drones, provocations, tactical ‘surgical strikes’, expanded regional war, all out war…
The dangers here cannot be adequately assessed… In strategic terms, the Iran-China-Russia connections cannot be dismissed and the global geo-politics of new international alignments are coming into view.
Moving from Iranian nuclear agreement news to Israeli news
China’s air crisis was a major driver behind the landmark US-China climate deal announced last week – The Atlantic’s James Fallows made this point yesterday, Wednesday, writing that “when children are developing lung cancer, when people in the capital city are on average dying five years too early because of air pollution, when water and agricultural soil and food supplies are increasingly poisoned, a system just won’t last.”
Troll: One who posts a deliberately provocative message … with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument. — Urban Dictionary
If you haven’t been to any Comment thread accompanying any online article that touches upon global warming or climate change, you’re missing the thrill of trollers, lurkers, troll denial and trolling aggravation.
A troll war on the web is playing out in the clash of climate change believers and non-believers and though the non-believers may be a small minority, they clearly make up for their numbers in their flaming. But can we talk?
Is there a substantive difference between a ‘denialist’ and a ‘skeptic’ when it comes to climate science? Since the preponderance of scientific opinion affirms that human-induced change is occurring, why are the voices of denial/skepticism so LOUD as they trample online threads in almost every venue?
A climate debate, to the extent it takes place, typically involves strident, angry denialist attacks on climate science. Denial goes beyond skepticism. Skeptics of climate science facts, assumptions and theories, in scientific circles are typically welcome into the debate if they are acting in good faith, that is, questioning prevailing scientific paradigms within the scientific method. This is how scientific knowledge advances forward (“paradigm shifts” – per Kuhn).
So there’s something to be said for skeptics. On the other hand, there are ‘Inhofers’…
Science, Inhofe & God
Senator Inhofe, in line for the chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, cites Genesis 8:22 to claim that it’s “outrageous” and arrogant for people to believe human beings are “able to change what He is doing in the climate.” Along with his frequent claim that human-influenced climate change is impossible because “God’s still up there”, and his claim that climate change scientific positions are the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”, the Senator from Oklahoma is sure to challenge the American people.
Genesis 8:22 — New King James Version
“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”
The coming of the Senator and Republican vision on science and the environment over the next two years will set the stage for a significant and, most likely, consequential voter turnout in 2016…
Sidebar: Sen. Inhofe of the Senate Armed Services Com’t is engaged heatedly in nuclear weapons policy positioning in addition to his thoughts on environmental issues. Recently he offered It’s Time to Stop Putin’s Nuclear Arms Buildup – Foreign Policy, Sept 2014
Leaving behind the Senator’s beliefs, we move on with hope for the future…
Although the season of the golden Aspens in the Rockies has ended, the Aspen Strategy Institute is looking at “Redux” Cold War between the U.S. and the re-constituted Soviet state, Russia, under its former security state/KGB officer/national security advisor/now President, Vladimir Putin.
Strobe Talbott, former roommate of Bill Clinton and later President Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of State with the Soviet-Russia portfolio (and first-hand view of the Soviet-to-Russian transition) has just presented an important talk that gives a revealing view of how he (and the mainline Democratic party foreign policy) sees the state of U.S./Russian relations.
While Russia’s continued cooperation with the U.S. continues on multiple fronts, in Iraq, in Iran negotiations, in supplying the ISS, in dealing with G-20 issues, in attempting to find European solutions to energy issues, and toward geo-political accommodations including on Ukraine’s future and EU and NATO engagement, former Secretary Talbott sees areas of serious strife.
Here are excerpts, bullet points recently delivered by Talbott at the Aspen Institute in the Ernest May Lecture:
It does not need emphasis — the brewing Cold War is turning hotter. Strobe Talbott’s perspective should be given careful consideration. Larger forces at work here have a momentum of their own.
Finally, it is critical to take a hard look at nuclear escalation.
We hear President Putin speaking of Russia’s nuclear weapons as he discusses relations and we see President Obama changing policies regarding the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. We read a Putin statement: “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations”, and in turn the U.S moves to increase funding of ‘upgrades’ to its nuclear arsenal.
This multi-year, multi-billion dollar ‘upgrade’ to the nuclear weapons system should be seen as a continuation of nuclear weapons capacity as it maintains and reshapes the assured destruction policies of a half century of Cold War…
New iterations of ‘useable’ nuclear weapons are additionally being designed and introduced, new deployments are foreseen, the edge of a ‘new Cold War’ is impacting international strategic policy in the form of nuclear weapons spending and projections.
Here is how the UN addresses THE LEGALITY OF THE THREAT OR USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Far from this rarely considered, eminently unenforceable, International Law is an on-the-ground reality of a gathering era of nuclear weapons development and deployment.
The ‘grand game’ of today’s post Cold War, new Cold War era, aligning interests (and entangling alliances) of developed and developing nations, and challenging the hegemony of post WWII American dominance, presents conditions of alarm, not only as major powers (China/Russia/Iran) re-calculate but also as nuclear players publicly threaten war.
It is not an understatement to state that the ‘modernization’, increased spending, and speed-up of nuclear weapons arsenal development, accompanied by breakdown in non-proliferation progress, together do not auger a coming age of peaceful progress.
Continuing on the risks of a new Cold War with weapon modernization and deployments, lapses in the disarmament process, breakdown of nuclear non-proliferation progress (see Center for Nonproliferation Studies), potential failure of nuclear talks with Iran seen against a background of ongoing P5+1 and Israeli threats, escalating regional war, new international alliances bringing together nuclear stakeholders, a spreading global war against terror that has deeply engaged nuclear power Pakistan and its neighbors, and a ramping up of nuclear forces after years of ramping down… the nuclear threat environment has become closer to a flash point.
Recent events give a glimpse into the reshaping of nuclear contours that is in process.