Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals… We present below some of the most interesting or relevant features for each section.

World (all matters related to war, international and national security) – Some analysts seem to hail the move towards the normalization of  U.S.-Cuba relations as an evidence that the U.S. is truly ending the Cold War (e.g. Karen De Young, Washington Post). This is, however, not to consider all dimensions of one of the major transitions that the world order is currently knowing. This is to ignore power and international politics, which are played on the global stage. It seems indeed, that the U.S. move towards Cuba, added to the ruble crisis and China’s potential consequent actions argue, on the contrary, for a heightened power struggle in the fight for or against a unipolar world that would be dominated by the U.S..

Although being a rather classical power struggle that may be described in terms of realpolitik and strategy, mirages and blindness seem to preside over this “New Cold War”and to hide its escalation, including maybe because it tends to be solely cast against Russia and especially his President, Vladimir Putin.

In this regard, the article by Friedman (Stratfor) is a must read as it shows how much the U.S. (as well as “the West”) is blind as far as Russia and Russians are concerned, not understanding at all their interest, perceptions, as well as “the Russian soul”, what matters to Russians, what they want. The capacity and willingness of Russians to withstand economic hardship – for example as far as the ruble and oil prices are concerned – for things that matter to them more and most is obviously completely lost on what has become of the West, a consumerist, hyper-materialistic society, most of the time gone astray “into the having” and having forgotten what was “being”, to use the great insight of the great socio-psychatrist Erich Fromm (e.g. To have or To be, 1976; The Sane Society1955). As a result, if some actors were hoping to see the financial and economic crisis forcing Russia to change its policy and strategy, they would most probably be mistaken. On the contrary, its resolve is likely to be reinforced.

Mirage and blindness again, this time for analysts and media, regarding the evolution of U.S.-Cuban relationships, which is cast in lights most often related to democracy, liberalism, freedom and business interest, when, most probably, the change is part of the new American power struggle against Russia. Indeed, according to two crowdsourced articles, behind these apparently solely diplomatic developments are American concerns over, first, a new security deal signed between Russia and Cuba in May 2014, which would notably allow “the use of [Cuban] airfields for Russia’s Tu-95 nuclear capable bombers”, which could then threaten the U.S. coast  (see “Intel concerns about Russia-Cuba ties preceded Obama’s deal to dismantle sanctions”, The Washington Times; see also The Voice of Russia; Consortium of Defense Analysts). Then, the U.S. would be worried about the reopening of a SIGINT (signals intelligence) facility in Cuba and a negotiation for an oil deal between Russian Rosneft and Cuban CUPET to exploit the 4 to 20 bn barrels estimated Cuban reserves, both announced in July 2014 (see Power Moves: US-Cuba deal isolates and weakens Russia; and also The Wire; The Diplomat for the original articles).  We are thus definitely in the realm of a power struggle. Will the U.S. succeed in cutting Russia off from Cuba, this is extremely doubtful considering the long-standing friendship and relations between the two countries.

Blindness and mirage again for not seeing the role that China seems ready to play, how it might stand by Russia and how, should it do so as far as the ruble crisis is concerned, the impact for the US dollar and its supremacy could be damaging (see “China Prepares To Bailout Russia”, Zerohedge and “Rouble vs. Dollar Games – From a Perspective of a Russian Businessman”, Information Clearing House – ICH). In turn, the “new Cold War” may only be heightened and accelerated. The new military involvement of China in Iraq, however outside the U.S.-led coalition, should also be noted, as it may signals a novel phase in China’s role in the world, which tended so far to be more economically oriented, save in its near abroad. Should such a signal be confirmed by further indications, then we would be witnessing an acceleration of the world order transition.

Energy, economy and environment security – As the impact of the fall of oil prices are starting to be felt across actors, as tensions rise, climate change and related problems seem to become increasingly a remote, uninteresting issue. Dr Keith Daum underlines that “The COP20 climate conference in Lima was not very positive, as shown by the various comments made, from a failure to deliver a useful outcome (WWF) to modest agreement with serious divisions remaining between rich and poor nations (Politico) or a compromise that sets the stage for an upcoming meeting in Paris (NPR). Meanwhile, the NYT stresses that the driving force behind the deal was not the threat of sanctions, but global peer pressure.” And if peer pressure is not there anymore because “peers” are busy elsewhere, the prospect for a real deal with a real outcome coming into being are not very bright. Yet, as Dr Daum stresses science repeatedly documents that climate change is serious, relentless and with negative impacts, for example, with “a new understanding regarding the rate of icecap melting in Greenland, or an article in Nature calling into question one of the assumptions of climate models which was that with increasing CO2 concentration forests will have increased growth.”

Tech and Weapons – Three articles notably stand out: the US Navy new underwater drone, India’s continuing space exploration as well as, again in space, potential collaboration between US Lockheed Martin and Boeing and … Russia.

Ebola – According to the WHO latest situation report, we now have “a total of 18603 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of EVD and 6915 deaths … reported up to the end of 14 December 2014.”

Read the 18 December scan → 

The Weekly is the scan of The Red (Team) Analysis Society and it focuses on national and international security issues. It was started as an experiment with Paper.li as a way to collect ideas, notably through Twitter. Its success and its usefulness led to its continuation.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement but points to new, emerging, escalating or stabilizing problems and issues.

If you wish to consult the scan after the end of the week period, use the “archives” directly on The Weekly.

Featured image: “C-band Radar-dish Antenna”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Published by Dr Helene Lavoix (MSc PhD Lond)

Dr Helene Lavoix, PhD Lond (International Relations), is the President/CEO of The Red Team Analysis Society. She is specialised in strategic foresight and warning for international relations, national and international security issues. Her current focus is on the war in Ukraine, international order and the rise of China, the overstepping of planetary boundaries and international relations, the methodology of SF&W, radicalisation as well as new tech and security.

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