The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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Call me crazy, if you want, but I think I see how to do it! We have two intractable issues, one intractable president, and an intractable world, but what if it weren’t so? What if those two intractable problems could be swept off the table by a single gesture from that same intractable man? As... Read More
How Climate Change Could End Washington’s Global Dominion
Once upon a time in America, we could all argue about whether or not U.S. global power was declining. Now, most observers have little doubt that the end is just a matter of timing and circumstance. Ten years ago, I predictedthat, by 2025, it would be all over for American power, a then-controversial comment that’s... Read More
These days, the trade “war” between the Trump administration and China is regularly in the headlines and, sometimes, so are the bases the Chinese are building in the South China Sea, the ships the U.S. Navy is sending ever more provocatively close to them, and the potential clashes that might result. But the global nature... Read More
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It’s Already Under Way
In his highly acclaimed 2017 book, Destined for War, Harvard professor Graham Allison assessed the likelihood that the United States and China would one day find themselves at war. Comparing the U.S.-Chinese relationship to great-power rivalries all the way back to the Peloponnesian War of the fifth century BC, he concluded that the future risk... Read More
Who could doubt that the world of Donald Trump has recently become yet more embattled? Yes, there’s the Mueller investigation reportedly winding up (or down). And yes, there were those midterm elections, a blow -- as journalist and novelist Ben Fountain explains today -- to The Donald, creating yet another crew ready to investigate, subpoena,... Read More
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Five Academics Who Unleashed the “Demon” of Geopolitical Power
As Washington’s leadership fades more quickly than anyone could have imagined and a new global order struggles to take shape, a generation of leaders has crowded onto the world stage with their own bold geopolitical visions for winning international influence. Xi Xinping has launched his trillion-dollar “Belt and Road Initiative” to dominate Eurasia and thereby... Read More
It’s Not Your Mother’s Cold War
When it comes to relations between Donald Trump’s America, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and Xi Jinping’s China, observers everywhere are starting to talk about a return to an all-too-familiar past. “Now we have a new Cold War,” commented Russia expert Peter Felgenhauer in Moscow after President Trump recently announced plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear... Read More
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“America First” Versus China’s Strategy of the Four Continents
As the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency and sixth of Xi Jinping’s draws to a close, the world seems to be witnessing one of those epochal clashes that can change the contours of global power. Just as conflicts between American President Woodrow Wilson and British Prime Minister Lloyd George produced a failed peace after... Read More
In 1958, Chinese leader Mao Zedong launched an attempt at the instant industrialization of an agricultural society, including the creation of little backyard steel furnaces in its rural countryside. That vast convulsion went by the optimistic name of the Great Leap Forward. It ended up disrupting the country’s agricultural system and causing a disastrous famine... Read More
Or Implementing the Sino-Russian Blueprint for a Tripolar World Order
The pundits and politicians generally take it for granted that President Trump lacks a coherent foreign policy. They believe that he acts solely out of spite, caprice, and political opportunism -- lashing out at U.S. allies like Germany’s Angela Merkel and England’s Theresa May only to embrace authoritarian rulers like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North... Read More
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How Donald Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Leaders are routinely confronted with philosophical dilemmas. Here’s a classic one for our Trumptopian times: If you make enemies out of your friends and friends out of your enemies, where does that leave you? What does winning (or losing) really look like? Is a world in which walls of every sort encircle America’s borders a... Read More
The Pentagon’s Provocative Encirclement of China
On May 30th, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced a momentous shift in American global strategic policy. From now on, he decreed, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), which oversees all U.S. military forces in Asia, will be called the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). The name change, Mattis explained, reflects “the increasing connectivity between the Indian and... Read More
There’s no other imperial tradition like it. For two millennia, dynasty after dynasty rose and fell, spread and shrank, reaching into Southeast Asia and far out into the steppes of Eurasia, its commercial fleets -- 3,500 ships in the fourteenth century -- voyaging as far as Africa. It’s true that ours is a remarkably westernized... Read More
Or Five Lessons in the History of American Defeat
The lessons of history? Who needs them? Certainly not Washington's present cast of characters, a crew in flight from history, the past, or knowledge of more or less any sort. Still, just for the hell of it, let’s take a few moments to think about what some of the lessons of the last years of... Read More
The rise and fall of empires has long been a story at the heart of history. Since the Europeans first burst out of their then-marginal region on wooden sailing ships mounted with cannons in the fifteenth century, the planet seldom has had a moment in which several imperial powers weren’t competing for supremacy. In 1945,... Read More
Or How China and the U.S. Are Spawning a New Great Power Naval Rivalry
Amid the intense coverage of Russian cyber-maneuvering and North Korean missile threats, another kind of great-power rivalry has been playing out quietly in the Indian and Pacific oceans. The U.S. and Chinese navies have been repositioning warships and establishing naval bases as if they were so many pawns on a geopolitical chessboard. To some it... Read More
The Pentagon Plans for a Perpetual Three-Front “Long War” Against China and Russia
Think of it as the most momentous military planning on Earth right now. Who’s even paying attention, given the eternal changing of the guard at the White House, as well as the latest in tweets, sexual revelations, and investigations of every sort? And yet it increasingly looks as if, thanks to current Pentagon planning, a... Read More
He took a remarkable star turn at Davos -- and, no, I don’t mean President Trump. I was thinking about Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2017, when he claimed the title of globalist-in-chief in a highly praised speech to the world’s assembled CEOs and plutocrats. He was then promoting a “community of shared future for... Read More
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Giving American Isolationism New Meaning in the Twenty-First Century
In his State of the Union address, Donald Trump warned grimly of “rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values.” In response, he demanded that Congress give even more money to “our great military” and fund the growth and modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, making it “so strong... Read More
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How It Might Actually Be Fought
[This piece has been adapted and expanded from Alfred W. McCoy’s new book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.] For the past 50 years, American leaders have been supremely confident that they could suffer military setbacks in places like Cuba or Vietnam without having their system... Read More
At the U.N. recently, Donald Trump followed up on his bloodcurdling threat to unleash on North Korea “fire and fury like the world has never seen” (essentially a warning of nuclear terror) with an even grimmer threat: to “totally destroy” that country. In his histrionic bluntness, Trump was not alone in raising the nuclear issue.... Read More
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Who Will Take America’s Place in Asia?
Asia has been the future for more than a generation. When Americans try to glimpse what’s to come, images of the Pacific Rim flood the imagination. For movie audiences in 1982, the rain-soaked Los Angeles of Blade Runner looked like downtown Tokyo. By 2014, the City of Angels in the Spike Jonze film Her had... Read More
In case you hadn’t noticed, as in the Middle East and Europe, we’re in a new Trumpian age in Asia. If you want to confirm that, check out the recently leaked transcript of an April 29th phone conversation between the American and Philippine presidents (published in full at the Intercept). Donald Trump launches the call... Read More
Donald Trump Is Giving the Phrase “Multipolar World” New Meaning
If there’s a single consistent aspect to Donald Trump’s strategic vision, it’s this: U.S. foreign policy should always be governed by the simple principle of “America First,” with this country’s vital interests placed above those of all others. “We will always put America’s interests first,” he declared in his victory speech in the early hours... Read More
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All Options Are “On The Table”
Forget those “bad hombres down there” in Mexico that U.S. troops might take out. Ignore the way National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice” and the new president insisted, that, when it comes to that country, “nothing is off the table.” Instead, focus for a moment on something truly scary: the possibility that... Read More
Consider it an irony or simply a reality of our moment, but these days Donald (“America First”) Trump is looking ever less like an old-fashioned, pre-World War II isolationist. In a mere three-plus weeks in office, he’s managed to mix it up royally with much of the rest of the planet. He threatened to send... Read More
Four Looming Flashpoints Facing President Trump
Within months of taking office, President Donald Trump is likely to face one or more major international crises, possibly entailing a risk of nuclear escalation. Not since the end of the Cold War has a new chief executive been confronted with as many potential flashpoints involving such a risk of explosive conflict. This proliferation of... Read More
“Did China ask us if it was OK to... build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don't think so!” tweeted President-Elect Donald Trump after shatteringnearly 40 years of U.S.-China diplomatic protocol by having a telephone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. The call -- the first official contact... Read More
The U.S. Military’s Role in Asia in the Age of Trump
Despite the attention being given to America’s roiling wars and conflicts in the Greater Middle East, crucial decisions about the global role of U.S. military power may be made in a region where, as yet, there are no hot wars: Asia. Donald Trump will arrive in the Oval Office in January at a moment when... Read More
A Snapshot of a Multipolar World in Action
In the strangest election year in recent American history -- one in which the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson couldn’t even conjure up the name of a foreign leader he “admired” while Donald Trump remained intent on building his “fat, beautiful wall” and “taking” Iraq oil -- the world may be out of focus for many... Read More
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Silk Roads, Night Trains, and the Third Industrial Revolution in China
The U.S. is transfixed by its multibillion-dollar electoral circus. The European Union is paralyzed by austerity, fear of refugees, and now all-out jihad in the streets of Paris. So the West might be excused if it’s barely caught the echoes of a Chinese version of Roy Orbison’s “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” And... Read More
In Washington, voices are rising fast and furiously. “Freedom fries” are a thing of the pastand everyone agrees on the need to support France (and on more or less nothing else). Now, disagreements are sharpening over whether to only incrementally “intensify” the use of U.S. military power in Syria and Iraq or go to “war”... Read More
It could be a joke of the “a penguin, a rabbi, and a priest walked into a bar” variety, but this one would start, “five Chinese naval vessels operating in the Bering Sea sailed into U.S. territorial waters, coming within 12 miles of the U.S. coast...” And the punch line would be yours to come... Read More
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Obama’s Geopolitical Strategy for Containing China
In ways that have eluded Washington pundits and policymakers, President Barack Obama is deploying a subtle geopolitical strategy that, if successful, might give Washington a fighting chance to extend its global hegemony deep into the twenty-first century. After six years of silent, sometimes secret preparations, the Obama White House has recently unveiled some bold diplomatic... Read More
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How China and Russia Are Running Rings Around Washington
Let’s start with the geopolitical Big Bang you know nothing about, the one that occurred just two weeks ago. Here are its results: from now on, any possible future attack on Iran threatened by the Pentagon (in conjunction with NATO) would essentially be an assault on the planning of an interlocking set of organizations --... Read More
The several hundred Republicans who have thrown their hats into the ring for the 2016 presidential race and the war hawks in Congress (mainly but hardly only Republicans) have already been in full howl about the Vienna nuclear deal with Iran. Jeb Bush took about two seconds to label it "appeasement,” instantly summoning up the... Read More
I’ve read a few official documents in my time -- minutes, memoranda, reports, briefings, you name it. They tend to be opaque and filled with acronyms, jargon, and government-speak. Often the soulless work of marginally talented bureaucrats, they can make for dreadful reading. Then, of course, there are the exceptions. “This memorandum addresses the matter... Read More
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The Conflict in Washington Over Who Should Lead America’s Enemies List
America’s grand strategy, its long-term blueprint for advancing national interests and countering major adversaries, is in total disarray. Top officials lurch from crisis to crisis, improvising strategies as they go, but rarely pursuing a consistent set of policies. Some blame this indecisiveness on a lack of resolve at the White House, but the real reason... Read More
Washington Versus China in the Twenty-First Century
For even the greatest of empires, geography is often destiny. You wouldn’t know it in Washington, though. America’s political, national security, and foreign policy elites continue to ignore the basics of geopolitics that have shaped the fate of world empires for the past 500 years. Consequently, they have missed the significance of the rapid global... Read More
The Desperate Plight of a Declining Superpower
Take a look around the world and it’s hard not to conclude that the United States is a superpower in decline. Whether in Europe, Asia, or the Middle East, aspiring powers are flexing their muscles, ignoring Washington’s dictates, or actively combating them. Russia refuses to curtail its support for armed separatists in Ukraine; China refuses... Read More
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And the U.S. Is Losing Out
Call it an irony, if you will, but as the Obama administration struggles to slow down or halt its scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan, newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is performing a withdrawal operation of his own. He seems to be in the process of trying to sideline the country’s major patron of the last... Read More
In June 2014, as he was preparing to send 300 U.S. military advisers back to Iraq, President Obama hailed the American counterterror campaign in Yemen -- Special Operations advisers (and CIA operatives) on the ground, drones in the air -- as a “model” for what he hoped to do against the Islamic State. In September,... Read More
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New Silk Roads and the Chinese Vision of a Brave New (Trade) World
BEIJING -- Seen from the Chinese capital as the Year of the Sheep starts, the malaise affecting the West seems like a mirage in a galaxy far, far away. On the other hand, the China that surrounds you looks all too solid and nothing like the embattled nation you hear about in the Western media,... Read More
Sometimes this planet changes right under your nose and you still don’t notice. This sentence, buried in a New York Times piece on the Greek debt crisis, caught my attention the other day: “Greece, meanwhile, has suggested that it could turn to Russia or China for help if its talks on debt relief and a... Read More
We were kids, but they weren’t kidding. It wasn’t called “Risk: The Game of Global Domination” for nothing. You remember it, I’m sure. You had a territory. You had armies. You could make alliances. You could cheat, stab in the back, and generally scheme to your heart’s content as long as you achieved your goal:... Read More
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As Washington “Pivots” to Asia, China Does the Eurasian Pirouette
November 18, 2014: it’s a day that should live forever in history. On that day, in the city of Yiwu in China’s Zhejiang province, 300 kilometers south of Shanghai, the first train carrying 82 containers of export goods weighing more than 1,000 tons left a massive warehouse complex heading for Madrid. It arrived on December... Read More
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The Future of a Beijing-Moscow-Berlin Alliance
A specter haunts the fast-aging “New American Century”: the possibility of a future Beijing-Moscow-Berlin strategic trade and commercial alliance. Let’s call it the BMB. Its likelihood is being seriously discussed at the highest levels in Beijing and Moscow, and viewed with interest in Berlin, New Delhi, and Tehran. But don’t mention it inside Washington’s Beltway... Read More
During Iraq War II (2003-2011), I used to imagine that the Chinese leadership would gather weekly in the streets of the Forbidden City, singing and dancing to celebrate American idiocy. Year after year, when the U.S. might have faced off against a rising China, as its leaders had long had the urge to do, it... Read More
Is the Conflict in South Sudan the Opening Salvo in the Battle for a Continent?
[This story was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Additional funding was provided through the generosity of Adelaide Gomer.] Juba, South Sudan -- Is this country the first hot battlefield in a new cold war? Is the conflict tearing this new nation apart actually a proxy fight between the world’s... Read More
Consider this: our advanced robotic creatures, those drone aircraft grimly named Predators and Reapers, are still blowing away human beings from Yemen to Pakistan. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is now testing out a 14,000-pound drone advanced enough to take off and land on its own on the deck of an aircraft carrier -- no human pilot... Read More