Monday, 24 October 2016

A case for pessimism

I grew up mostly during the Cold War.

I read about nuclear weapons in my impressionable youth. About how the USSR had enough nuclear missiles to destroy the world 10 times over.

But it's ok, 'cos the US had enough to destroy the world 20 times over.

(Figures not checked. ALL figures, including those to follow, are based on memories.)

Of course, we tried to comfort ourselves that Singapore would not be directly targeted in a Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) war between USSR and USA.

Until I read that the nuclear winter that followed would wipe out 98% of life on earth. Or 99%.

(With Global Warming now, a Nuclear Winter doesn't seem so bad.)

And there was the "Doomsday Clock" or something, where scientists (or some other experts) would assess the risk or chance of a MAD War, and move the clock closer to midnight of Doomsday. I think we are always about 3 seconds from doomsday.

And then the USSR collapsed. Poland broke away (or something). And the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and East and West Germany united.

And suddenly the Cold War was over.

Samuel Huntington wrote "The Clash of Civilisation" and Francis Fukuyama wrote "The End of History", and the US was the sole Superpower in the world,

And we lived happily ever after.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Singapore's Aircraft Carrier Ambition.

There is an article from 2015 that suggests that Singapore has aircraft carrier ambitions:
In early March last year, a model of what appeared to be a Landing Helicopter Dock was put on display at the Singapore Air Show. The model betrayed no other information other than the fact that it was a variant of the Endurance class Joint Multi Mission Ship (JMMS). Although the Singapore’s Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) didn’t make that big a deal out of the whole event, it doesn’t take an expert to look beyond the unpretencious fa├žade of the vessel. To look towards Singapore’s growing role in the establishment of security in the maritime domain of South East Asia.
Endurance 160 model

China, the South China Sea, and UNCLOS - References and Resources

The Chinese Media - actually, just one, the Global Times - has continued their campaign of disinformation and distortion of facts to present their delusion (or illusion) of persecution by global and regional players. Their latest was to accuse SG of trying to put on record the status of the South China Sea dispute, in opposition to the views of "many"  at the Non-aligned movement (NAM) meeting.

It is interesting that the Chinese media (which in this case was just the Global Times, and apparently a mouthpiece of the Chinese Govt), felt it necessary to a) "target" SG for acting against Chinese interests, b) completely misrepresent (i.e. lie) about the proceedings, and c) fabricate from whole cloth the entirely fictitious narrative in order to do so (i.e. they didn't even try to lampshade it with some semblance of facts).

By targeting SG, they are either trying to blackmail us, get us on the defensive, put us on notice that they require us to fall in line. And in case we missed THAT point, they mentioned their disappointment as SG is the country coordinator for ASEAN-China relations.

By fabricating a lie out of whole cloth, they are basically displaying their arrogance and assumed ability to warp reality as they so dictate. If they were referencing an actual incident and putting a spin on things, or their perception of SG's actions, that's one thing. In this case, they don't even care to have any tenuous link to facts or reality.

It's almost like they are channelling Donald Trump.

Friday, 14 October 2016

China does a Galtieri

Why did a Chinese paper make false accusations about Singapore in a move seemingly designed to coerce Singapore and put us on the defensive?

China today may be at an inflexion point. For the last 3 decades or so, it has been growing fast and strong, and the Chinese people were willing to let the CCP lead and govern. After all, it was leading to good times and better times for all (or almost all). What is there to worry?

But the good times may be ending - at least, there are signs that it may be ending. Growth is slowing and even suspect. Quality of life is dropping in the mega-cities. And the CCP knows that in the absence of strong growth, and betterment of living standards and quality of life, criticisms of the CCP govt will grow. And with those criticism, the authority of the CCP to govern will be questioned.

But there is no clear path to solving their economic growth questions. All the low-hanging fruits have been picked. Further growth will need hard, long-term strategies that may not work (SG faces this same problem). And even if those strategies work, growth for a newly developed economy, by math if not by definition, will almost always be lower than that of a developing economy. Which means that the CCP govt will not be able to give the Chinese people the rate of growth that they have enjoyed in the first 30 years. (Same for SG).

What can the CCP do to maintain their legitimacy, and the support of the people?

Do a Galtieri.