World View: N. Korea Prepares Rockets for Firing, after U.S. B-2 Show of Force

World View: N. Korea Prepares Rockets for Firing, after U.S. B-2 Show of Force

This morning’s key headlines from

  • BRICS summit ends in failure over disagreements about funding
  • Russia orders large-scale military exercises in the Black Sea
  • Destruction of Syria stirs division in the Arab World
  • N. Korea prepares rockets for firing, after U.S. B-2 show of force

BRICS summit ends in failure over disagreements about funding

Five BRICS leaders hail a 'new paradigm', challenging Western-dominated financial institutions (Reuters)
Five BRICS leaders hail a ‘new paradigm’, challenging Western-dominated financial institutions (Reuters)

Leaders in developing countries have frequently aired complaintsabout the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank,because the Western countries, especially the United States,have too much influence. This is true because the Westerncountries, especially the United States, supply almost all the money.These institutions were set up following WW II, when the UnitedStates agreed to become policemen of the world, and agreed toprovide foreign aid to countries around the world suffering fromdisease, poverty, or starvation.

So the BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and SouthAfrica — are determined to create a competing organization,the “BRICS bank.” According to South Africa’s finance minister:

“The roots of the World Bank and IMF still lie in thepost-world war two environment. The reforms that have taken placeare still inadequate in terms of addressing the currentenvironment. We still have a situation where certain parts of theworld are over-represented.”

Leaders of the five countries have been meeting in Durban, SouthAfrica, to sign the final agreement creating and funding the BRICSbank. Unfortunately, the effort collapsed, because they couldn’tagree on where the money would come from, or even which country wouldhost the bank’s world headquarters. All they got was a symbolicagreement that called for a $50 billion emergency fund, with actualmoney to be provided at some time in the future. Tsk, tsk. Russia Today andGuardian (London)

Russia orders large-scale military exercises in the Black Sea

On the flight back home from the BRICS summit, Russia’s presidentVladimir Putin issued a surprise order for a large-scale militaryexercise in the Black Sea, where Russia has two major naval bases inSevastopol and Novorossiisk. The exercise will involve 7,000 militarypersonnel, 36 warships, and 250 combat armored vehicles. According toRussian officials, the purpose of the drill is to improve readiness ofthe armed forces.

However, the surprise military exercise comes at a time when theCyprus financial meltdown is causing a fundamental change in Russia’sforeign policy. Putin has been courting Europeans, seeking toestablish a privileged political and economic relationship with Franceand Germany, to undermine NATO and undermine Europe’s transatlantictie with the United States. However, the German attitude thatRussia’s money in Cyprus was “dirty” money is infuriating theRussians, and the meltdown itself is having a significant negativeimpact on Russia’s economy — a loss of up to two percent of GDPgrowth in 2013. With some 80 percent of Russian commercial realestate registered as belonging to Cyprus-based companies, payments anddividends from real estate and energy contracts are frozen, and may belost. Putin is showing his anger by targeting foreign NGOs in Russia,and the surprise launch of the large-scale Black Sea militaryexercises may also be a signal of his anger, and of a change of policyaway from Europe. Ria Novostiand Jamestown

Destruction of Syria stirs division in the Arab World

Jeremy Salt, Bilkent University, Ankara: In the ugly panorama that isthe contemporary Middle East, a light hardly flickers on thehorizon. Iraq has been destroyed as a unitary Arab state and jihadisunleashed in Syria are burning out another room in the Arabhouse. Lebanon has again been brought to the brink of implosionthrough the intrigues of outside governments and local proxiesincapable of putting the interests of their country ahead of theirsectarian and power intrigues. The Palestinians are divided betweenthose who live under the authority of one man [Mahmoud Abbas,Palestinian Authority] who has bound himself to Israel and the US andtwo others [Hamas leaders] who have bound themselves to Egypt andQatar. Fitna – the spreading of division and sowing of hatred amongstMuslims – is being fanned across the region by governments brazenenough to call themselves Muslim. Whether in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria andIran, Shiism is the enemy. Ceaselessly stirring this pot from theoutside are governments that feast on division in the Arab world.Palestine Chronicle

N. Korea prepares rockets for firing, after U.S. B-2 show of force

B-2 Stealth Bomber
B-2 Stealth Bomber

The Pentagon sent its distinctive bat-wing-shaped B-2 stealth bombersflying low over the Korean Peninsula this week, dropping fakemunitions, in a “routine training exercise.” Defense SecretaryChuck Hagel said that the flights were a signal to North Koreathat it’s risking retaliatory strikes if any military aggressionoccurs. The show of force was also a signal to China, asB-2 bombers hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia,in 1999.

The North Koreans, who have already put their military on the highestalert, responded by putting rockets on standby, in preparation forfiring at U.S. targets, including the U.S. mainland and military basesin the Pacific and in South Korea. According to state media:

“[Kim Jong-un] said he has judged the time has come tosettle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of theprevailing situation.

If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces,[we] should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, theirstronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters inthe Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in SouthKorea.”

North Korea has been making increasingly belligerent statements in thelast few weeks. One could argue that it’s all ranting and bloviating,or one could point out that he’s conducted actual military strikesagainst South Korea in the recent past. CS Monitor and CNN

Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail