by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog:
On the surface, things seem pretty quiet in mid-July 2016. The biggest news stories are about the speculation surrounding Donald Trump’s choice of running mate, the stock market in the U.S. keeps setting new all-time record highs, and the media seems completely obsessed with Taylor Swift’s love life. But underneath the surface, it is a very different story. As you will see below, the conditions for a “perfect storm” are coming together very rapidly, and the rest of 2016 promises to be much more chaotic than what we have seen so far.
Let’s start with China. On Tuesday, an international tribunal in the Hague ruled against China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. The Chinese government announced ahead of time that they do not recognize the jurisdiction of the tribunal, and they have absolutely no intention of abiding by the ruling.
In fact, China is becoming even more defiant in the aftermath of this ruling. We aren’t hearing much about it in the U.S. media, but according to international news reports Chinese president Xi Jinping has ordered the People’s Liberation Army “to prepare for combat” with the United States if the Obama administration presses China to abandon the islands that they are currently occupying in the South China Sea…
“Chinese president Xi Jinping has reportedly ordered the People’s Liberation Army to prepare for combat,” reports Arirang.com. “U.S.-based Boxun News said Tuesday that the instruction was given in case the United States takes provocative action in the waters once the ruling is made.”
A U.S. aircraft carrier and fighter jets were already sent to the region in anticipation of the ruling, with the Chinese Navy also carrying out exercises near the disputed Paracel islands.
Last October, China said it was “not frightened” to fight a war with the U.S. following an incident where the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen violated the 12-nautical mile zone China claims around Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly archipelago.
Meanwhile, the relationship between the United States and Russia continues to go from bad to worse. The installation of a missile defense system in Romania is just the latest incident that has the Russians absolutely steaming, and during a public appearance on June 17th Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to get western reporters to understand that the world is being pulled toward war…
“We know year by year what’s going to happen, and they know that we know. It’s only you that they tell tall tales to, and you buy it, and spread it to the citizens of your countries. You people in turn do not feel a sense of the impending danger – this is what worries me. How do you not understand that the world is being pulled in an irreversible direction? While they pretend that nothing is going on. I don’t know how to get through to you anymore.”
And of course the Russians have been feverishly updating and modernizing their military in preparation for a potential future conflict with the United States. Just today we learned that the Russians are working to develop a hypersonic strategic bomber that is going to have the capability of striking targets with nuclear warheads from outer space.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration does not feel a similar sense of urgency. The size of our strategic nuclear arsenal has declined by about 95 percent since the peak of the Cold War, and many of our installations are still actually using rotary phones and the kind of 8 inch floppy disks for computers that were widely used back in the 1970s.
But I don’t expect war with China or Russia to erupt by the end of 2016. Of much more immediate concern is what is going on in the Middle East. The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, but it is Israel that could soon be the center of attention.
Back in March, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Obama administration wanted to revive the peace process in the Middle East before Obama left office, and that a UN Security Council resolution that would divide the land of Israel and set the parameters for a Palestinian state was still definitely on the table…
The White House is working on plans for reviving long-stalled Middle East negotiations before President Barack Obama leaves office, including a possible United Nations Security Council resolution that would outline steps toward a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, according to senior U.S. officials.
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