Thursday, 29 November 2012

War on Syria: Gateway to WWIII

Free e-Book by Tony Cartalucci & Nile Bowie 
Now Available Online via Scribd & Google Docs

November 29, 2012 (LD) - "War on Syria: Gateway to WWIII" (118 pages) attempts to cover the intricacies of the West's methods of unconventional warfare and how they've manifested themselves over the last several years, finally miring Syria in a state of war. The book also looks at how the violence in Syria is just one part of a much larger geopolitical strategy, and where it may lead next. "War on Syria"  is a free e-book for reading, printing, translating, and sharing - your reading and sharing of this book is the greatest payback possible for the time and effort that has been put into it. If Syria cannot be saved, at least let what is happening to this nation serve as a warning and example to others around the world, still pending Western subjugation, regime change, and exploitation at the hands of the largest corporate-financier interests on Earth, and their myriad of institutions, NGOs, media fronts, and contractors. 

I want to thank Nile Bowie (NileBowie.blogspot.com), a frequent contributor to the Land Destroyer Report, for his tireless effort and expediency in compiling, adding to, enhancing, and editing this work. I would also like to thank Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.com who also helped edit the work.
Below are several links where you can access the .PDF file. If you have any requests for document hosting sites you would like to see this work appear on, or have problems downloading the book, please contact me at cartalucci@gmail.com.

-Tony Cartalucci 

  • Scribd: (no account necessary to read, but must have Scribd account to download) click here.
  • Google Docs: (no account necessary to read, and no account necessary to download) click here

Nile Bowie
 is a Kuala Lumpur-based American writer and photographer for the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal, Canada. He explores issues of terrorism, economics and geopolitics.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Malaysia: Victim of America’s “Irregular Warfare” Ops?


The issue of civil society groups receiving foreign funding has been a major point of discussion in Malaysia during recent times, causing controversy and drawing criticism from activists to members of Parliament alike. Some activists tend to view Putrajaya’s investigation into rights advocacy groups like SUARAM (a noted recipient of foreign funding) as a desperate attempt to stifle dissent and attack civil society. Former PM Mahathir Mohamad’s has repeatedly warned of a foreign-funded destabilization campaign aimed at regime change in Malaysia – a claim that has been generally dismissed by Bersih goers and the like. With the nation’s 13th General Election looming, some see talk of “foreign plots” as tired rhetoric, while others fail to grasp the deeper machinations of foreign influence and do little more than finger pointing at political opponents. In this instance, the pages of a leaked US military document provide valuable insight into the nature of “foreign plots” potentially aimed against Malaysia.

TC 18-01 SPECIAL FORCES UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE” is listed on the US Army’s official website and can only be accessed by authorized officials within the American government (a leaked copy has been made available and can be viewed by clicking here). [1] The document is significant because it provides a step-by-step definition of Washington’s “irregular warfare” and unconventional warfare tactics. The manual illustrates the sheer impunity with which the United States conducts its foreign policy, aimed at illegally interfering into the political affairs of foreign nations with an aim to destabilize and reorder them to further American economic interests; Dr. Christof Lehmann describes the manual as:

“…a step by step guide of how to create, manipulate, co-opt and make use of a countries population, persons of special interest inside the country as well as expatriates, organizations inside as well as outside the country, towards a subversion. Beginning with manipulating dissent into demonstrations, the polarization of a population, riots and armed insurgencies that require action by security forces, and psychological warfare by means of media, step by step, in logical sequence, towards a full scale war, based on humanitarian principles and the pretext of bringing democracy and freedom.” [2]

The targets of the above mentioned irregular warfare operations are those states that have been unwilling to align themselves with American diplomatic and economic interests or semi-compliant states that are strategically located and abundant in natural resources. The manual describes meticulously orchestrated covert operations that are conducted in phases; beginning with psychologically influencing the target population through foreign-funded dissident news media organizations. Subsequently, targeted nations are infiltrated to provide training and equipment to dissident groups, until a political transition is imposed, by force if necessary. The manual is classified “Restricted” with a “Destruction Notice“, and for obvious reasons – its pages lay bare the illegal and brutal nature of US foreign policy by means of supporting insurgent groups that would otherwise be called “terrorist organizations” (emphasis added):

“DISTRIBUTION RESTRICTION: Distribution authorized to U.S. Government agencies and their contractors only to protect technical or operational information from automatic dissemination under the International Exchange Program or by other means. This determination was made on 1 August 2010. Other requests for this document must be referred to Commander, United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, ATTN: AOJK-DTD-SF, 2175 Reilly Road, Stop A, Fort Bragg, NC 28310-5000.

DESTRUCTION NOTICE: Destroy by any method that will prevent disclosure of contents or reconstruction of the document.

FOREIGN DISCLOSURE RESTRICTION (FD 6): This publication has been reviewed by the product developers in coordination with the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School foreign disclosure authority. This product is releasable to students from foreign countries on a case-by-case basis only.

The Commander, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), defines [Unconventional Warfare] UW as activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area. The intent of U.S. [Unconventional Warfare] UW efforts is to exploit a hostile power’s political, military, economic, and psychological vulnerabilities by developing and sustaining resistance forces to accomplish U.S. strategic objectives. For the foreseeable future, U.S. forces will predominantly engage in irregular warfare (IW) operations.

The ongoing conflict in Syria and the unrest that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2011 are examples of the model proposed by this document being successfully utilized. In both countries, American organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and others both financially and rhetorically supported political opposition and activist groups. When protests in those countries gained momentum, reports of violence surfaced, often in the form of sniper fire, targeting both security personnel and civilians. In Libya, rebel groups were armed by Western nations despite confirmed reports of jihadist and extremist groups being the central component of the armed resistance. As a result, these armed militants did indeed topple the Libyan government, and have since been involved in racially motivated mass killings and the recent murder of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and four other American personnel in Benghazi. [3] The same tactics have been used in Syria, where jihadist groups have received weapons from US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and have reportedly used terrorist tactics such as bomb making and extrajudicial assassinations. [4] [5] The “Phases of Unconventional Warfare” are described in the manual and exactly match the US protocol undertaken in both Libya and Syria:

PHASE I: Preparation
Resistance and external sponsors conduct psychological preparation to unify population against established government or occupying power and prepare population to accept U.S. support.

PHASE II: Initial Contact
USG [United States Government] agencies coordinate with allied government-in-exile or resistance leadership for desired U.S. support.

PHASE III: Infiltration
SF [Special Forces] team infiltrates operational area, establishes communications with its base, and contacts resistance organization.

PHASE IV: Organization
SF [Special Forces] team organizes, trains, and equips resistance cadre. Emphasis is on developing infrastructure.

PHASE V: Buildup
SF [Special Forces] team assist cadre with expansion into an effective resistance organization. Limited combat operations may be conducted, but emphasis remains on development.

PHASE VI: Employment
UW [Unconventional Warfare] forces conduct combat operations until linkup with conventional forces or end hostilities.

PHASE VII: Transition
UW [Unconventional Warfare] forces revert to national control, shifting to regular forces or demobilizing.

Malaysia is not Syria or Libya; the social and political systems of these countries and their resistance movements are highly dissimilar and only so much can be taken from comparisons of this nature. Even so, it is essentially confirmed that the agitation Malaysia has experienced is not intended to promote a genuine democratic framework; its purpose is the gradual installation of a national government that is friendly to American interests by coaxing social unrest and shaping popular sentiment. Just as described in Phase 1, “external sponsors conduct psychological preparation to unify population against established government,” it can be gathered that this first step has already been attempted. Bersih coalition leader Ambiga Sreenevasan has long admitted that her organization receives financial assistance from “external sponsors,” namely, the US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Open Society Institute (OSI), operated by financier George Soros.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) also annually provides $100,000 (RM 317,260) to political news website Malaysiakini, widely considered to be the nation’s most pro-opposition news outlet. Premesh Chandran, Malaysiakini CEO, is a grantee of George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and launched the news organization with a $100,000 grant from the Soros-funded Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA). NED also provides $90,000 (RM 285,516) to SUARAM. [6] Knowingly, or unknowingly, these organizations have received financial support from the US Embassy due to the controversial political discourse they espouse. Of course, the expression of dissent should never be denied, and although the Najib Razak administration has begun to move away from Mahathir’s administrative model by relaxing controls on expression, many still feel more can be done.

If the United States is pursuing the kind of policy described in the Unconventional Warfare manual, one can understand how foreign-funded rights advocacy groups may be perceived as threatening to Malaysian authorities, regardless of the politics and values they preach. Ostensibly, Malaysian authorities are concerned about the violence and insurrectionary behavior that have accompanied foreign-funded political movements in other countries once momentum built around them. Malaysia would not likely fall victim to an insurgency campaign anywhere near the scale seen in Syria. However, it would be unwise to dismiss the possibility of seeing the kind of violence that took shape in Thailand during the political unrest of 2010 if foreign elements continue to pursue “irregular warfare.” The possibility of political instability coming to fruition during the general election period may factor into explaining why the current government has not yet declared them.

The International Republican Institute (IRI) is chaired by US Senator John McCain, an ardent supporter of American and Israeli militarism, and annually receives $802,122 (RM 2,544,670) from the NED for its Malaysian projects. McCain’s IRI played a crucial role in casting doubt on the validity of Russia’s 2011 presidential elections by funding several US-backed NGOs, particularly GOLOS, an independent electoral commission seeking to “expose voting irregularities.” The conduct of the organization has generated widespread criticism from Russian lawmakers and observer groups. Georgy Fyodorov, chief executive of Russian Observer Association Civil Control stated:

“They have a clear destabilizing tactic; they are carefully conditioning the public to hear some ‘breaking’ news of election fraud. The media will have a field day taping the ensuing clashes between pro-Kremlin and nationalist youth being dispersed by special police. This kind of footage would dilute any remaining trust in Russian elections.” [7]

To dilute any remaining trust – that is the principle objective when one attempts to “conduct psychological preparation to unify population against established government.” Elections are seen as an opportunity to challenge the legitimacy of a political candidate or party, primarily by accusing the electoral system of being unfree or somehow outside of international norms. In the Malaysian context, ruling authorities have acknowledged that more could be done to reduce voting irregularities and have begun to work toward such ends. To accuse Malaysia’s electoral system of being illegitimate is a cinematic exaggeration, a myth pushed by foul Western endowments and foundations. Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization, it is irrefutably valuable and channeling it comes with individual responsibilities. When foreign governments attempt to harness other people’s dissent for their own objectives, it is the greatest attack on dissent itself.

Notes


[2] The Blueprint for the War Libya? NSNBC, February 21, 2012

[3] AU: Libya rebels killing black workers, CBS News, August 29, 2011

[4] Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria, The New York Times, October 14, 2012

[5] Outgunned Syria rebels make shift to bombs, Reuters, April 30, 2012

[6] Pro-Israel groups rooting for the Opposition, The Mole, September 27, 2012

[7] Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, November 18, Ria Novosti, November 18, 2012

Nile Bowie is a Kuala Lumpur-based American writer and photographer for the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal, Canada. He explores issues of terrorism, economics and geopolitics.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Gaza & the Politics of ‘Greater Israel’


“The Bible finds no worse image than this of the man from the desert. And why? Because he has no respect for any law. Because in the desert he can do as he pleases. The tendency towards conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His personality won’t allow him any compromise or agreement. It doesn’t matter what kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. His existence is one of perpetual war. Israel’s must be the same. The two states solution doesn’t exist; there are no two people here. There is a Jewish people and an Arab population... there is no Palestinian people, so you don’t create a state for an imaginary nation... they only call themselves a people in order to fight the Jews.” [1]

- Benzion Netanyahu

The Israeli bombardment of Gaza being perpetuated under ‘Operation Pillar of Defense’ comes at an interesting time. Under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements into Palestinian lands has increased at unprecedented rates. Netanyahu’s administration has approved the construction of 850 settler homes in the occupied West Bank in June 2012, even after the Israeli parliament rejected a bill to retroactively legalize some of the existing homes in the area. [2] The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank has almost doubled in the past 12 years, with more than 350,000 residing illegally under international law. [3] While Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asserts Tel Aviv’s unwillingness to permit Palestinians any right to return to their lands, emphasizing, “not even one refugee,” apartheid enforced on ethnic and religious lines has become a ratified part of Israeli government policy. [4] Far-right political discourse that was once considered extremism is now the status quo in Israel.

While Netanyahu publically announced support for a Palestinian state on the West Bank, his government has threaten to end the Oslo Accords if the United Nations General Assembly granted Palestine with non-member observer state status. [5] A panel of Israeli jurists assembled by Netanyahu’s government to determine the legal status of the West Bank concluded that there is “no occupation” of Palestinian lands and that the continued construction of settlement outposts are entirely legal under Israeli law, despite critical international opinion. Netanyahu’s far right-conservative Likud party was established on the philosophy of Ze’ev Jabotinksy, who called for the establishment of a ‘Greater Israel,’ a concept embraced by Israeli historian Benzion Netanyahu, the father of today’s Prime Minister. Under his fathers influence, Benjamin Netanyahu was indoctrinated in the ideological foundations of Revisionist Zionism, which promote Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria (Palestine) and the full biblical land of Israel by contemporary Jews, an oil rich landmass extending from the banks of the Nile River in Egypt to the shores of the Euphrates.

As rocket fire hits Tel Aviv for the first time since the Gulf War, the ongoing siege of Gaza must be seen as what it is – a premeditated component of Israeli expansionism. Netanyahu was a zealous supporter of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s 2008-2009 sieges on Gaza known as ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ which killed over 1,400 Palestinians, while Israel suffered only 13 causalities. [6] On November 14, 2012, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched an offensive into the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip and began announcing their progress through an official Twitter account. IDF forces assassinated a prominent Hamas military commander, Ahmed Jabari, who was allegedly in possession of a draft copy of a permanent truce agreement with Israel. [7The agreement included mechanisms for maintaining the cease-fire in the case of future military exchanges between Israel and the Hamas-led political factions of the Gaza Strip. Militants from the armed wing of Hamas in Gaza retaliated by firing rockets into Israeli territory, a large percentage of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

Benjamin Netanyahu used this retaliation to claim the moral high ground by warning that he will take "whatever action is necessary" to stop further rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. [8] IDF officials have called on 30,000 reservists to prepare for a possible extended ground incursion into Gaza, as IDF forces indiscriminately kill civilians attempting to strike Palestinian aerial and naval targets. [9] The Obama administration has condemned Hamas for perpetuating violence, while Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government led by Mohamed Morsi recalled Egypt's ambassador from Tel Aviv. Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil arrived in Gaza after the second day of Israeli attacks in a show of support for Palestine. Through ‘Operation Pillar of Defense,’ Israel is targeting the military foundations of Hamas, while attempting to portray itself as a victim in the international media. IDF forces dropped thousands of Orwellian leaflets over Gaza, urging citizens to take responsibility for their own safety, due to Hamas “once again dragging the region to violence and bloodshed.” [10]

Despite Israel targeting the elected Hamas government of Gaza, an article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas,” cites a former Israeli official who claims that Israel encouraged the formation of Islamist groups to counterbalance secular nationalists affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The Israeli government even officially recognized a precursor to Hamas called Mujama Al-Islamiya as a charity group, allowing it to build mosques and an Islamic university. [11] Israel cooperated with the influential Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was opposed to secular Palestinian activists, as he spearheaded the Sunni Islamist movement that became Hamas. In late October 2012, Gaza’s Hamas government received Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, for an official visit. As part of an aid development package, Al-Thani granted Hamas $400 million, at least $150 million of which will go towards a housing project in southern Gaza – it would be reasonable to assume that large portions of that aid would be invested in defense. [12]

The support given to Hamas by Qatar must be understood through the context of its engagement in Syria. The New York Times articled titled, “Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria,” states that the arms being shipped to Syria by Saudi Arabia and Qatar are being used to bolster jihadists and al-Qaeda affiliated groups attempting to topple the government of Bashar al-Assad. [13] Qatar has held numerous meetings of US-backed Syrian opposition leaders and hosts a critical American military air base at Al-Udeid, west of the capital, Doha. Qatar has also allowed the establishment of a Brooking Institute center on its territory. Brookings’ Saban Center for Middle East Policy published “Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change” in March 2012, and the directives described in the report have ostensibly become the policy of allied Western and Gulf countries aiming to topple the Syrian government. The Saban Center that published the report was established in 2002 when Israeli-American mogul Haim Saban pledged nearly $13 million to the Brookings Institution in an attempt to influence pro-Israeli policy. [14]

Despite paying lip service to the Palestinian cause, Qatar is supporting policy engineered to give Israel a pretext to consolidate its power. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have cooperated with the United States and Israel by exporting the Salafist ideology that is so prominent among radical rebel fighters in Hamas and the Free Syrian Army, and using their enormous oil wealth to fund and arm these movements. An unapologetic Op-Ed written by Israeli columnist Guy Bechor titled, “Dangers of a Palestinian state,” bemoans the possibility of an independent Palestine, in fear of the nation becoming a hub for extremist violence:

“A sovereign Palestinian state will immediately absorb 700,000 Palestinians who are living in terrible conditions in Syria, another 750,000 Palestinians who currently live in Lebanon and hundreds of thousands of others who will flock to the new state from all over, because to them the West Bank and Israel are America – just ask the African infiltrators. Due to the ‘Arab Spring,’ Syria and Lebanon would gladly kick the Palestinians out, and the Palestinian state would welcome them with open arms in order to change the demographic reality on the ground. Qatar and Saudi Arabia would fund the entire exodus.

Thus, the Palestinian state would become one of the most densely populated areas in the world and pose a direct security and demographic threat to Israel. In other words, in the near future we may see hundreds of thousands of Palestinians settling in the West Bank. Some of them are among the most dangerous people in the Middle East: Salafis, members of armed Syrian and Lebanese militias, as well as members of various jihadi groups. They will settle in places that overlook Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport and Jerusalem. The demographic balance in this region will be changed forever. Our lives will become a Syrian-style nightmare.” [15]

In 1952, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan spoke ardently of Tel Aviv’s ultimate goal, the creation of ‘an Israeli empire’ – today, Netanyahu has led his administration with megalomaniacal hubris, and has emphasized a messianic-catastrophic worldview where Israel is “the eternal nation.” [16] Indeed, a Salafist-dominated Palestine would cause troubles for Israel, and it provides a much-needed pretext for Israel to militarily engage with Palestine groups, with the eventual goal of recapturing their land for Jewish settlement. ‘Operation Pillar of Defense,’ launched just months away from Israel’s elections, is a calculated component of the Netanyahu government’s strategy to topple Hamas and continue absorbing Palestinian territory. Decades of occupation and apartheid have shaped the current scenario; Israel has dehumanized an entire people by seizing their land and forcing them into prison-like ghettoes. Adherents to political Zionism have shown contempt for a genuine political solution to the Palestinian conflict, and the Netanyahu administration is poised to crush all opposition to the Jewish state.

Amid reports of rocket fire striking Jerusalem, it is clear that the Israeli response will be swift and unforgiving. While the historic plight of the Palestinian people cannot be ignored, the conduct of Hamas is counter-productive and radical, despite the Israeli firepower being exponentially more destructive. The siege on Gaza is an impetus to consider Henry Kissinger’s prediction, “In 10 years, there will be no more Israel.” Sixteen US intelligence agencies that collectively issued an 82-page analysis titled, “Preparing for a Post-Israel Middle East,” concluded that Netanyahu’s Likud coalition has enthusiastically condoned and supported illegal settlements, while enforcing an apartheid-style infrastructure upon Palestinians. [17] Israel, the only nuclear-armed country in the Middle East, has all the attributes of an international pariah state and its current path is unmaintainable. If Israel devastates Gaza, the backlash would create momentum that threatens the very existence of the Jewish state. Under Bibi’s watch, Israel will either continue to enforce the ideological tenants of political Zionism on its neighbors, or die trying.

Notes


[2] Israel to build more West Bank homes, Al-Jazeera, June 07, 2012









[11] How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas, The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2009


[13] Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria, The New York Times, October 14, 2012


[15] Dangers of a Palestinian state, YNet, November 13, 2012



Nile Bowie is a Kuala Lumpur-based American writer and photographer for the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal, Canada. He explores issues of terrorism, economics and geopolitics.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

China’s Transition: Towards a Red Revival or Socialist Democracy?


As China’s 18th Communist Party Congress draws to a close, the world’s most populous nation prepares to install the country's fifth generation of leadership since the Chinese Revolution of 1949. Despite overseeing a stringent police state with heavy limitations on political expression, China’s leadership have taken the nation from starvation to space travel in just a few decades, lifting approximately 600 million people out of poverty. [1] Of course, the Communist Party still has a fair share of trouble on its hands; managing an economic slowdown, finding ways to raise incomes while keeping production costs competitive, and dealing with radical pro-secessionist sentiment in Tibet and Xinjiang. Undoubtedly, China’s leadership has maintained its legitimacy by overseeing massive economic growth – its inability to continue on such a path would ultimately create trouble for the Communist Party. Chairman Mao once preached, “An army of the people is invincible!” – hence, China spends an astounding $111 billion on internal security, more than what is allocated to the People’s Liberation Army. [2]

President Hu Jintao’s administration oversaw the construction of new infrastructure and high-speed rail networks, the rise of emerging provincial metropolises such as Shenzhen and Chongqing, and China’s lucrative economic engagement with Africa. During an address at the Party Congress, President Hu hinted at some kind of reform to the existing system:

"We must continue to make both active and prudent efforts to carry out the reform of the political structure, and make people's democracy more extensive, fuller in scope and sounder in practice; however, we will never copy a Western political system." [3]

It remains to be seen exactly what kind of “democracy” President Hu is referring to, however it is apparent that China’s leadership recognizes the need to address the complete lack of public participation in the political direction of the country. Hu spoke of “diversifying the forms of democracy” and “democratic elections,” and with that, one would hope for the incremental relaxation on political expression and dissent.

In combating the severe wealth gap between the rich and poor, President Hu has also called for China to double its 2010 GDP and per capita income for both urban and rural residents by 2020, the first time that per capita income has been included in the country’s economic growth target. [4] Hu also called for the rapid modernization of national defense and armed forces, and the need to build China into a maritime power to protect its marine resources and interests. [5] Additionally, Hu praised the pro-autonomy policies of the "one country, two systems" arrangement, the need for integrating urban and rural development, and the possibility of military cooperation with Taiwan. [6] Of course, Hu himself will not be at the helm to steer China into its planned trajectory; it is safely assumed that Xi Jinping and his designated deputy, Li Keqiang, will be installed as president and premier in March 2013.

Xi Jinping is noted for ushering in positive economic reforms in the coastal province of Zhejiang, where GDP has grown by 10% annually over the past 30 years through bolstering small-scale entrepreneurs, providing supportive credit to private ventures, and governing with very little intervention in firm management. [7] Xi is the son one of the Communist Party's founding fathers, Xi Zhongxun, and was banished to labor in the remote village of Liangjiahe as a teenager during the Cultural Revolution before studying chemical engineering at the elite Tsinghua University in Beijing. Xi belongs to the ‘princeling’ faction, the offspring of party veterans who favor crony-capitalism by steering economic growth with high levels of state intervention, many of whom (such as Bo Xilai) champion a revival of Maoist socialism with contemporary values. Xi will be the first ‘princeling’ in the seat of power and it is unclear if his policies will reflect the governing style of others in his faction, or that of his own approach of adopting lesser government intervention. Xi appears to relate little to Maoist policy, only to the nostalgia of singing red songs and using the Chairman’s aphorisms. [8]

Incoming premier Li Keqiang, who also toiled in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, is from the ‘tuanpai’ faction. The ‘tuanpai’ have come from lesser-privileged backgrounds and have been groomed for leadership through the Communist Youth League; the faction is more focused on populist policies, rural development, and improving the conditions of farmers and migrant workers. The ‘princelings’ orbit around former President Jiang Zemin, while the ‘tuanpai’ favor the direction taken under Hu Jintao; the incoming administration has likely been selected to strike a balance between the two factions. A more dismissive analysis of these factional differences by US-based Chinese dissident Yu Jie could potentially be more accurate:

“People say Hu and Xi belong to different political factions. They say Hu comes from the Communist Youth League and is therefore more populist, whereas Xi, because he represents the "princelings" -- sons and daughters of high officials -- works in service of the wealthier coastal provinces. I think they're not that dissimilar. No matter if it's Hu or Xi, they're still only representative of the few-hundred families who make up the Chinese aristocracy. They are not in office thanks to a Western-style election, but are the products of a black-box operation. They didn't rise because they're clever and capable, but precisely because they're mediocre. They are where they are today because they are harmless to the special interest groups that run China.” [9]

Since a large demographic of people in China have benefitted from economic development, many have become complacent or exorbitantly wealthy, and are generally uninterested in political activism. While public trust in the government may be higher today than in 1989, the new leadership has a chance to rebuild public confidence by raising per capita incomes and loosening restrictions on expression. If Xi governs the country using the “Zhejiang Model” and supports local entrepreneurship, this would help reduce the wealth gap and wouldn’t necessarily hinder the extraordinary monopoly profits of China’s state-owned enterprises. China has avoided the mistake of the Soviet Union when it attempted to reform politically before doing so economically, however it still remains unclear if the Communist Party is willing to engage in any meaningful reform of their political system.

As the United States shifts its economic and military focus to the Asia Pacific, the question of Sino-US relations under the Xi Administration is an important one. Beijing’s desire to flex its maritime muscle and exercise its sovereignty over disputed territories in the South China Sea will certainly not sit well with the Obama administration, which has ostensibly adopted a policy written about by American foreign policy theoreticians such as Robert Kagan, who has argued in favor of pressuring China through territorial containment. There are a myriad of ways in which the United States can accomplish these goals; it is more likely that Washington will continue supporting dissident groups and attempting to hamper China’s overseas development projects, rather than engage in any military exchange. The Korean Peninsula remains a tense flashpoint capable of drawing both the United States and China into military conflict. The incoming Xi administration must be a mediator; it should more adamantly oppose the US military presence in South Korea and more actively assist economic development and social programs in North Korea. Xi Jinping is known to be a straight talker of sorts, and Washington can likely expect less diplomatic rhetoric from Beijing if it continues its current policy:

"Some foreigners with full bellies and nothing better to do engage in finger-pointing at us. First, China does not export revolution; second, it does not export famine and poverty; and third, it does not mess around with you. So what else is there to say?" [10]

Notes


[2] China to Spend USD 111 Billion on Internal Security, Outlook India, November 14, 2012





[7] Zhejiang Province: A Free-Market Success Story, Bloomberg, October 20, 2008

[8] Xi Jinping's Chongqing Tour: Gang of Princelings Gains Clout, The Jamestown Foundation, December 17, 2010

[9] Empty Suit, Foreign Policy, February 13, 2012

[10] BBC News - Profile: Xi Jinping, BBC, November 08, 2012

Nile Bowie is a Kuala Lumpur-based American writer and photographer for the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal, Canada. He explores issues of terrorism, economics and geopolitics.