Russia’s ‘hybrid’ wars and China’s belligerent expansionism

A game about he Russian tactic of maskirovka, Moscow’s hybrid war

The Wikileaks revelations described the Russian Federation as a ‘Mafia state’, but is this really such startling news? It was obvious soon after a drunken Yeltsin virtually gifted the resource-rich state industries to highly-placed and cunning apparatchiks that Russia resembled the Wild West rather than developing a conventional system of government for the world’s largest state. Bloomberg’s article here details the the effect of hybrid wars on the Russian economy.

Yeltsin’s actions, and the failure of the political classes to stop him, robbed the extremely poor of the true value of the nation’s assets, running into hundreds of billions of pounds. The instability inherent in what amounts to an unsound economic policy brought about massive losses to these new super-rich a couple of years back because of the volatility of the Russian market. The last decade has also seen oligarchs being jailed or fleeing the country altogether, their underlings being murdered and press freedoms curbed – even to the extent of organised murder of journalists – to stifle debate and possible dissent. 

China is attempting to expand its territory and increase its natural resources, against the wish of smaller nearby states.. Artificial islands are under construction in the disputed South China Sea as the Chinese state makes relentless efforts to expand it’s geographical boundaries at the expense of its neighbours. In 2012 the Communist Party reclassified the South China Sea as a “core national interest”, placing it alongside such sensitive issues as Taiwan and Tibet. It means China is prepared to fight to defend it. 

Beijing’s claim includes the Spratly Islands, Scarborough Shoal and the Paracel Islands and the area it encompasses comprises an “expanse stretching right up to the coasts of the Philippines and Vietnam and even Borneo.” The vast majority of the South China Sea is claimed by the Chinese, in an area which is demarcated on maps by the ‘nine dash line’. 

This territorial ultimatum by China is yet another example of the Asian superstates flexing their muscles knowing that their surrounding neighbours are too small and weak to make a stand. To resolve this imbalance these countries are forced to align themselves with the US, or as in the case of Ukraine, the EU, in order to make the playing field more even. Of course, alignment with the US is deeply unpopular to the world at large, paradoxically because they see the US as ‘the bully’ or thinking of itself as ‘the world’s policeman’. Such arguments provide no resolution to the problem of the balance of power between smaller states and superstates, nor the possibility that China and Russia will almost inevitably seek to take advantage of the weaknesses of more democratic states and their unwillingness to stand up to them.

The most alarming aspect of this new world is that, in twenty-five, maybe fifty years, it will be Russia that will have the single largest economy – along with China – and they will probably be calling the shots (no pun intended). Many in Europe fear the spread of Islam, and their fear may be justified if it concerns those involved in terrorism. What the fundamentalists should fear – along with us – is the new world order that is about to emerge. The freedoms that we cherish and that the Islamic fundamentalists despise may be swept away by these countries as they expand, but the paradox will be that none of us will gain from a ‘Mafia’ overlord and fledgling democracy overseen by a proletariat in the coming generation. You only have to look at human rights in China, and the treatment of the Uighur Muslims in Urumqi, and what happened in Georgia and Azerbaijan to realise what the future may bring. These superstates are slowly expanding and will become larger as time goes on. We are feeding crocodiles here and weill will be on their menu in the future.


Why oh why was ‘no action’ ever an option?

ISIS are pigs ...

Yazidi girl cries surrounded by the slaughter of the men in her family

Obama has finally authorised military strikes on the terrorist group formerly known as ISIS. It took tens of thousands of men, women and children being forced to flee their town and go and take refuge on a mountain top for a new wave of humanitarianism to emerge and stop the slaughter of the vile and violent, now renamed ‘Islamic State’, which would seem to be more appropriately named ‘the Terrible State’.

I know that I am in a significant minority on this one, but for my part I cannot fathom why no action was ever an option. We should have moved in months ago when these unspeakably sick sadists were waving severed heads about and the then ISIS marketing campaign was in full flow, offering  cash and virgins to any spotty Muslim teenager living in the West that felt like indulging his personal grudge on having to live in a democracy, only to emigrate to a new and anarchic repressive state that makes North Korea look benevolent by comparison.

All Western countries are now faced with the almost insurmountable problem that an unknown quantity of youths, possibly running to thousands, have been radicalised and trained by this squad of sadistic psychos and, with no effective military strategy to stop them, more teenagers leave our shores every day hoping to win glory – and a virgin or 72. Some countries, such as Australia, are now admitting that we may see these jihadists returning to their home countries fully radicalised, suffering from post-traumatic stress and having qualities more reminiscent of a remote-controlled bomb. To say that this situation has been mismanaged in terms of response is an overwhelmingly shocking understatement.

Western governments must learn to counter the jihadist marketing rhetoric with reality by involving high-profile Muslims in entertainment and sport to spread the ethos of moderate Islam, though they will have a tough job on their hands. Islam cannot recognise what we call democracy, nor even human rights when suicide bombing is one of their war tactics and death and limb amputation form a component of its judicial punishments.  Recognising such conflicts as they emerge and degrading their ability to mesmerise Muslim youths in our countries must play a greater role, but so too must the use of military solutions to outright barbaric slaughter, or we will not only lose our claim to be ‘the civilised world’, but also pay a heavy price by having a not-so-far-away country that is run by supremacist Islamists that will tolerate none but their own warped kind.

There is no deterrent for those going to the jihad if they are effectively unchallenged by military force. This is akin to the Mafia on steroids and not responding swiftly and effectively will see ‘inhuman Islam’ grow ever-faster. Leave the Islamic State in place and watch the map turn black.




Legal jurisdiction is legal jurisdiction: there appears to be no doubt to that, is there?

The United States has finally succeeded in extraditing Abu Hamza Al-Masri, Babar Ahmad, Syed Talha Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz. They were taken from Long Lartin prison in a police convoy.  Two armoured vans, a blacked-out police people carrier and three police Range Rovers arrived at the Worcestershire jail on Friday evening just before dusk.

At the same time, two US passenger airliners were waiting on the tarmac at an air base in the east of England. So that would appear to be that and the action is right and proper to a certain extent.

Abu Hamza, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz stand accused of serious terrorist involvement and it is only right and proper that they should be extradited at the earliest possible opportunity. However, Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan are accused of  running pro-jihad website and of helping terrorists. The US government maintains that the  internet site was hosted there because it is a ‘dot com’ registration.

There are two points that I would make about this and the first is simple: UK law should take precedence over US law and Ahmad and Ahsan should have been tried here in the UK. I feel deeply uncomfortable that our government has subordinated UK law by giving precedence to US legal proceedings.

The second point is more complex but bears careful examination. The US are asserting that ‘dot net’, ‘dot org’ and ‘dot com’ registrations are classed as ‘being in the US’ because of their hosting on US soil. Here is some evidence of this argument from The Open Rights Group, which exists to preserve and promote legal rights in a digital context: “the U.S. Government claims jurisdiction because ‘’ used a ‘dot-net’ domain. They claim that the use of the ‘dot-com’, ‘dot-net’ or ‘dot-org’ domains gives them the right to assert U.S laws globally, because these domains are managed by American companies such as Verisign”.

Surely if that is the case, that the US government claims jurisdiction over these websites, then that must mean that all companies and organisations so registered are equally subject to US internal revenue laws too? They cannot cherry pick the bits they want and leave the bits that are not politically palatable. This would mean that companies such as B&Q and Tesco should be liable to pay tax in the US in respect of their online transactions, unless there is a law that clearly defines the liabilities that are attached to these internet registrations.

The US government has also stated that it may legally seize any domain ending in .com, .net, and other popular top-level domains, if it considers the action necessary because they are managed by Verisign, and that is based in the US. Equally, Slashdot observes that  the “State of Maryland prosecutors were able to obtain a warrant ordering Verisign, the company that manages the dot-com domain name registry, to redirect the website to a warning page advising that it has been seized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The message from the case is clear: all dot-com, dot-net, and dot-org domain names are subject to U.S. jurisdiction regardless of where they operate or where they were registered. This grants the U.S. a form of ‘super-jurisdiction’ over Internet activities, since most other countries are limited to jurisdiction with a real and substantial connection.”

It stands to reason that if a crime committed on a top-level domain name is legally uniquely under US jurisdiction, then if that constitutes a crime in the US, it must be actionable and enforceable in the US. Moreover, if the crime comes under US jurisdiction, surely purchases must too, in terms of taxation? That being the case, online transactions in companies such as B&Q and  Tesco surely must be liable to pay tax on their profits online to the US Internal Revenue Service?

I would like to see the US government taken to task over their seemingly discriminatory laws. You can imagine the uproar in financial centres across the world.