Red eye on the news . . . February 14, 2024

03 February 2024 88 hits

World military situation mirrors 1930s
Foreign Affairs, 1/26
–World War II began as a trio of loosely connected contests for primacy in key regions stretching from Europe to the Asia-Pacific—contests that eventually climaxed and coalesced in globally consuming ways. The history…illustrates uncomfortable parallels to the situation Washington currently confronts…​​with wars in eastern Europe and the Middle East already raging, and ties between revisionist states becoming more pronounced, all it would take is a clash in the contested western Pacific to bring about another awful scenario—one in which intense, interrelated regional struggles overwhelm the international system and create a crisis of global security unlike anything since 1945. A world at risk could become a world at war.
The parallels between this earlier era and the present are striking. Today, as in the 1930s, the international system is facing three sharp regional challenges…Russia and China are drawing closer through their “no limits” strategic partnership, which features arms sales, deepening defense-technological cooperation, and displays of geopolitical solidarity such as military exercises in global hot spots…the Sino-Russian partnership has pacified what was once the world’s most militarized border and enabled both countries to focus on their contests with Washington and its friends.

Preparing soldiers to fight in nuclear war
Business Insider, 1/26–Russian scientists have created a new simulator to train Moscow's troops on how to operate in the event of a nuclear explosion…The simulator… is set to be used in military exercises to prepare Russian ground forces for post-explosion combat missions, the state-run Tass news agency reported on Tuesday. State media said the simulator would also instruct chemical, biological, and radiation reconnaissance teams on how to find the epicenter and determine the characteristics of a blast.

"The purpose of the model is to simulate what a nuclear strike looks like — the shock effect, flash of light and mushroom cloud of a ground-based nuclear explosion," the description of the simulator's patent says, according to Tass.

The US is working toward upgrading its silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, building new bombers, and developing ballistic-missile submarines. In October, the Pentagon announced that it would pursue a new variant of the B61 nuclear gravity bomb, an air-launched weapon to be designated the B61-13, pending approval from lawmakers.

Farmers aim to shut down Paris
France24, 1/28
–Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on Sunday tasked law enforcement officials with putting into place "extensive security measures" to prevent farmers from blocking Paris area airports or its Rungis market and “to prohibit any entry into Paris”. The leaders of two of France's largest farming unions said Saturday that members from the regions around Paris "will begin an indefinite siege of the capital" on Monday. "All the major roads leading to the capital will be occupied by farmers," they said, announcing their intention to blockade the massive Rungis wholesale food market south of the capital. French farmers are furious at what they say is a squeeze on purchase prices for produce by supermarket and industrial buyers, as well as complex environmental regulations. But the last straw for many was the phasing-out of a tax break on diesel fuel for farm equipment.

West African nations move further away from French control
Al Jazeera, 1/28–Three military-led West African nations have announced their immediate withdrawal from regional bloc ECOWAS, accusing the body of becoming a threat to its members. Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso “decide in complete sovereignty on the immediate withdrawal” from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), read a joint statement published on Sunday. ECOWAS “under the influence of foreign powers, betraying its founding principles, has become a threat to its member states and its population”, read the statement…“There is bad faith within this organization,” lamented Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, Niger’s army-appointed prime minister…The three countries have cut military ties with France, the former colonial power. France once had a strong presence across the Sahel, but announced the withdrawal of its troops from the three countries after the coups.