9 June 2018   Leave a comment

Satellite images have revealed the construction of a new radome (steerable parabolic antenna and its spherical enclosure) in Cuba.  There are other radar stations in the area and they are used to eavesdrop on electronic transmissions in the US.  The new tracking station is ideal for listening in on the US Central Command, the main operations station for US forces in the Middle East.  We do not know who built the new station but both Russia and China have been investing in Cuba, and the Cubans have been known to sell captured information to states interested in US military activities.  It is most likely that the US has known about the ongoing construction for some time, but it has not issued an official statement on whether it regards the new station as a threat.  But the US has been historically sensitive about military activities in Cuba and now that the news is out, the US will probably issue some statement.

 

US President Trump has left the G7 meeting, but not before he issued what seems to be a threat to the main trading partners of the US.  Reuters describes his comment:

“‘We’re like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing,’ he said at a press conference before making an early exit from the two-day summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, where he met with leaders of Canada, Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Japan.

“’This isn’t just G7. I mean, we have India, where some of the tariffs are 100 percent … And we charge nothing,’ he said. ‘And it’s going to stop. Or we’ll stop trading with them.’”

Trade currently accounts for about 30 percent of the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) so it is unlikely that anyone takes the threat of ending trade seriously.  But Mr. Trump also suggested that all tariffs, quotas, and subsidies should be abolished, a proposal that no one–least of all the US–will find credible.  It is difficult to imagine what the other 6 world leaders are thinking about the US role in the world economy right now.  French President Macron decided to test Mr. Trump’s mettle in a contest of handshakes.  Mr. Trump is famous for pulling on a handshake to demonstrate dominance.  President Macron refused to be pulled toward Mr. Trump and grasped Trump’s hand so tightly that photographs captured Macron’s thumbprint on Mr. Trump’s hand.  Diplomatic games.

 

Karen DeYoung has written an op-ed for The Washington Post on the aftermath of the G7 meeting.  DeYoung quotes the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk:

“‘What worries me most . . . is the fact that the rules-based international order is being challenged.  What is surprising is that the challenge is driven not by the usual suspects, but by its main architect and guarantor, the U.S.

“‘Trump’s actions’, he said, ‘play into the hands of those who seek a new post-West order where liberal democracy and fundamental freedoms would cease to exist.’  Tusk’s usual suspects certainly include China and Russia, the latter suspended from the group after its 2014 annexation of Crimea. As Trump left Washington early Friday, he said Russia should be invited ‘back in’ to the club.”

The world order fashioned by liberal states after World War II is not self-regulating–there are constant challenges to it by a number of states who seek advantages by breaking the rules.  When the strongest power in the system chooses to break the rules, the system has little chance of surviving.

Posted June 9, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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