From Harlan Ullman & Arnaud deBorchgrave, UPI: “Even with President Donald J. Trump asserting that his White House is "running like a fine-tuned machine," the rest of the world is not. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis sees it, an "arc of instability" runs from the Western Mediterranean to the Eastern Bay of Bengal. Not a scintilla of evidence suggests that any resolution of the conflicts and civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen is within light years of occurring. Europe is still grappling with the wave of refugees and immigrants. And Ukraine remains a battleground in its eastern provinces.”
From Daniel Blumenthal, The American Interest: “Notwithstanding the facile talk of China’s “gains” from Donald Trump’s imagined withdrawal from the world, Beijing is no position to lead the world. Instead it is very close to imperial overstretch. A new U.S. strategic approach should hasten a Chinese reckoning with its geopolitical troubles.”
More Questions Than Answers in the South China Sea
From Stratfor: "The competition over the disputed waters of the South China Sea has heated up over the past few months. China accelerated its defense buildup in the area, installing weapons on its artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago and enhancing its presence on the Paracels. Vietnam followed suit and upgraded its defense in the Spratlys, while the Philippines considered taking steps to shore up its own claims in the island group, including Thitu Island. Adding to the tension, China seized a U.S. Navy drone and intercepted a U.S. P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft flying over the disputed areas."