WORLD ROUNDUPTurning Taiwan into a Porcupine | Downside of Imperial Collapse | U.S. Dependence on China, and more

Published 5 October 2022

··OPEC, Allies Move to Slash Oil Production, Eliciting Blistering White House Response
Russia, Saudi Arabia lead oil production cut, adding to inflation pressures

··Nuclear Annihilation Is a Threat Again
The war in Ukraine presents perils of equal magnitude to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

··America’s Dependence on China Is a Crisis in the Making
Increasing domestic shipping and shipbuilding are key to U.S. national security and its economy

··U.S. Aims to Turn Taiwan into Giant Weapons Depot
Taiwan needs to become a “porcupine” to withstand a Chinese invasion

··The Downside of Imperial Collapse
When empires or great powers fall, chaos and war rise

··The World Putin Wants
Distortions about the past feed delusions about the future

··The Abraham Accords and the Imposed Middle East Order
An imposed top-down regional order is inherently unstable

··Frequent Breaks in Undersea Pipelines Mean Fixes Are Possible for Nord Stream
Underwater pipelines have sophisticated protection measures and repair techniques

OPEC, Allies Move to Slash Oil Production, Eliciting Blistering White House Response  (Jeff Stein, John Hudson and Rachel Lerman, Washington Post)
White House officials reacted with a blistering criticism as the OPEC Plus coalition moved to curb production in response to falling prices.

Nuclear Annihilation Is a Threat Again  (Michael Dobbs, New York Times)
Two nuclear-armed states on a collision course with no obvious exit ramp. An erratic Russian leader using apocalyptic language — “if you want us to all meet in hell, it’s up to you.” Showdowns at the United Nations, with each side accusing the other of essentially gambling with Armageddon.
For six decades, the Cuban missile crisis has been viewed as the defining confrontation of the modern age, the world’s closest brush with nuclear annihilation. The war in Ukraine presents perils of at least equal magnitude, particularly now that Vladimir Putin has backed himself into a corner by declaring large chunks of neighboring Ukraine as belonging to Russia “forever.”

America’s Dependence on China Is a Crisis in the Making  (Brent D. Sadler, National Interest)
Increased domestic shipping and shipbuilding are key to both America’s national security and economy.

U.S. Aims to Turn Taiwan into Giant Weapons Depot  (Edward Wong and John Ismay, New York Times)
Officials say Taiwan needs to become a “porcupine” with enough weapons to hold out if the Chinese military blockades and invades it, even if Washington decides to send troops.

The Downside of Imperial Collapse  (Robert D. Kaplan, Foreign Affairs)
Wars are historical hinges. And misbegotten wars, when serving as culmination points of more general national decline, can be fatal. This is particularly true for empires. The Habsburg empire, which ruled over central Europe for hundreds of years, might have lingered despite decades of decay were it not for its defeat in World War I. The same is true of the Ottoman Empire, which since the mid-nineteenth century was referred to as “the sick man of Europe.” As it happened, the Ottoman Empire, like the Habsburg one, might have struggled on for decades, and even re-formed, were it not for also being on the losing side in World War I.
But the aftershocks of such imperial comeuppance should never be underestimated or celebrated. Empires form out of chaos, and imperial collapse often leaves chaos in its wake. The more monoethnic states that arose from the ashes of the multiethnic Habsburg and Ottoman empires often proved to be radical and unstable. This is because ethnic and sectarian groups and their particular grievances, which had been assuaged under common imperial umbrellas, were suddenly on their own and pitted against one another. Nazism, and fascism in general, influenced murderous states and factions in the post-Habsburg and post-Ottoman Balkans, as well as Arab intellectuals studying in Europe who brought these ideas back to their newly independent postcolonial homelands, where they helped shape the disastrous ideology of Baathism. Winston Churchill speculated at the end of World War II that had the imperial monarchies in Germany, Austria, and elsewhere not been swept away at the peace table in Versailles, “there would have been no Hitler.”

The World Putin Wants  (Fiona Hill and Angela Stent, Foreign Affairs)
Vladimir Putin is determined to shape the future to look like his version of the past. Russia’s president invaded Ukraine not because he felt threatened by NATO expansion or by Western “provocations.” He ordered his “special military operation” because he believes that it is Russia’s divine right to rule Ukraine, to wipe out the country’s national identity, and to integrate its people into a Greater Russia.

The Abraham Accords and the Imposed Middle East Order  (Jon Hoffman, National Interest)
Having just marked two years since their ratification, the Abraham Accords continue to represent a top-down regional order destined to yield instability, not peace.

Frequent Breaks in Undersea Pipelines Mean Fixes Are Possible for Nord Stream  (Lars Fischer, Scientific American)
While international experts try to figure out what caused the ruptures in the Nord Stream pipeline, engineers have multiple options to try and fix it