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Sunday, Oct 16, 2022 - 01:49 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

Sure Looks Like A Declaration Of Intent

The fallout from the OPEC(+) kick in the nuts is sure taking a long while to subside, with America remaining outraged at not being backed up by their "allies" - some of whom have been quite openly hobnobbing in Moscow, such as UAE president Mohd bin Zayed. The Sauds for one have countered claims of siding with Russia by (not entirely unreasonably) noting that nobody's stopping the U.S. from exploiting their own (ample) oil & gas resources, and that the quota cut was a economically-driven decision, and not a geopolitical middle finger.

The White House is not having any of that, however, and Biden appears to have taken the quid pro joe snub towards rescuing the midterm elections quite badly; thinly-veiled "consequences" have been threatened with the U.S.-Saudi relationship strained, and the Democrats are now proposing punitive measures ranging from the withdrawal of troops, to outright asset forfeiture. It is hard to interpret these immature blusterings as anything other than exceedingly incompetent foreign policy. It should be remembered that Saudi Arabia were never formal U.S. allies, and frankly, the U.S. isn't even a major customer (7% of Saudi oil exports, compared to say China at 26%)

Meanwhile, the inexplicable fragility of European pipelines continues to express itself, with a major one between Russia and Germany suddenly springing a leak in Poland - supposedly accidental for now. Germany for their part have declined to blame Russia after railway cables were cut near Berlin and Herne, and they certainly aren't following Uncle Sam's lead in approving a new arms deal with Saudi Arabia, with an eye towards securing all-important gas supplies (recall, some of it possibly originating from Russia anyway) for themselves.

How much more clearly can we put it?
(Source: politico.com)

In fairness, the White House has been busy with the latest National Security Strategy, which has stopped just short of explicitly stating that "the Cold War is back" - but no worries, there is no lack of analysts willing to help fill in the blanks. Friedman has opined in the NYT that the U.S. is taking on China and Russia at the same time, the latest affirmation of Twilight Struggle: New Moon, and perhaps the biggest shots of the U.S. versus China economic war thus far have just been fired, with the U.S. imposing exhaustive sanctions directly targeting China's technological development. In particular, essentially all cutting-edge semiconductor and related computing equipment is now off-limits to Chinese entities, including universities.

This, mind, represents a near-total decoupling of technological engagement with the Team Red leaders, and must represent a huge blow, if perhaps not the end, of China's flagging semicon catch-up mission. It goes without saying that this is an undeniably hostile move, and perhaps unprecedented against a state that the U.S. is not actually at war with. Principles on free trade only go so far when one's hegemony is at stake, one figures, and while the Plebbit peanut gallery seems convinced that China's tech and innovation will never surpass America's because of authoritarianism etc., the whole hooha (and bans) over 5G networking might suggest otherwise...

China had to have expected this to come sooner or later, as they continue with their dismissal of "fake China threat narratives" and "Cold War thinking", and Team Blue could do well to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, China has a fair bit more Influence than they are wont to admit in their corporate media propaganda. Ukraine abstained on the Xinjiang vote despite all the aid from Team Blue, for example, as did Indonesia. In applying these sanctions, the U.S. appears to be forcing Team Red's hand while they are not fully prepared, but if they continue to slip up, it's no exaggeration that the American Order might be over, with multipolarity marking the era to come.

Turn 12, Action Round 3 (Team Blue)

It's ma'am, you bigot
(Original sources: twilightstrategy.com, pbs.org)

Team Blue plays Our (Wo)man In Tehran for 2 Ops, consolidating Europe. The scry effect is strong, but they could really use the Influence now. Unfortunately, their attempted colour revolution in Iran has reportedly come to "dozens chanting" and unverified videos according to Reuters, as foreign supposed-agitators are being arrested by Iranian authorities.

A sad state of affairs for women's - and human - rights in the country, undoubtedly, in stark contrast to the proud girls (some of whom might have been guys, but it doesn't matter) and boys (the same*) at Pride events such as Pink Dot in Singapore. Methinks there's plenty of room for mutual acceptance, especially where it relates to what two (or more) consenting adults get up to in private spaces, as Singapore has also moved towards with the repeal of the archaic Section 377A.

Really, a large part of the supposed "woke backlash", is simply due to poor application. Consider the case of The Rings of Power - while some have decried its flopping as due to racism against its (largely non-canonical) diverse cast, one gathers it's likely more down to the execution being, well, not very good (same for the gay Superman series getting canned early, as opposed to the acclaimed Red Son series presenting him as a - gasp - Soviet Commie). Here, I think Western producers could take some inspiration from the Japanese, who have integrated tribal motifs respectfully with minimal agenda-pushing in past anime, presented inclusiveness without too much of a hard-on, and woven disparate strands of European myth and legend together in an actually creative way (i.e. not just swopping skin colours)

1 Ops: +1 Influence in France (4/2). The protests in Europe sure seem larger than those in Iran, with tens of thousands calling for France to leave NATO in Paris alone. While there's little chance of that for the foreseeable future, the French finance minister has joined his German counterpart in complaining that the U.S. is profiteering on the price of their LNG exports to Europe, after the Nordstream seppukus. There has been very little sympathy from the Americans on this, it seems, for all the talk about Team Blue being "true friends" based on shared values, and unlike Team Red's transactional outlook. If it were not enough that they're resorting to (highly-polluting) firewood, one figures it's real bad when Thunberg is going, yeah, maybe Germany should run nuclear after all.

Germany has been fending off the temptation of returning to Russian gas as of now - seems like the pipelines can be repaired in a couple of months - but it's clear they aren't happy at the American fait accompli. Recall when we wrote that the Gauls were never huge fans of the Yanks? Well, Macron has just launched yet another alphabet soup organization** in the European Political Community (EPC), which quite pointedly excludes both Russia and America, or: e'ff o'ff, pardon my French. From how they're aiding Germany with gas supplies, this should be a good sign for Team Blue - if not necessarily the particular U.S. shade of the colour.

1 Ops: +1 Influence in Sweden (4/0). The Democrats have emerged victorious as Sweden follows Italy's example, in actually tackling the important issues. Good luck to them.

[*Unless your nation's going to war, in which case the government knows exactly what designation one is, whether in Ukraine, Russia, Thailand or America (who might have adopted Ukrainian tech, after the definition escaped one of their Supreme Court nominees; now that's what an ally should do!)]

[**There has also been talk of "the end of ASEAN" due to it needing a Realignment, proposing an "ASEAN 5+X" formula rebuilding around Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore, i.e. not-so-surreptitiously cutting loose the Team Red proxies of Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. There's more than enough alphabet soup to go around, folks!]

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