The DailyBrief

Friday July 28, 2017

Growing nuclear threat: A US admiral’s disturbing assurance that he’s ready to follow President Donald Trump’s orders to launch a nuclear missile strike against China has raised the specter of mass incineration in The Last War, Pepe Escobar writes. The current collapse of the unipolar world, with the inexorable emergence of a multipolar framework, has enabled a terrifying subplot to run amok – the normalization of the idea of nuclear war.

PLA border buildup: As tensions heat up on the Korean Peninsula, China is adding troops to its 1,416 kilometer border with North Korea, Robert E McCoy writes, with one media report saying Beijing recently conducted live-fire military exercises in the area. The troops are reportedly part of a newly formed military brigade that is seemingly there to control an expected mass exodus of refugees should war or some other catastrophe break out. It is certainly true that the People’s Liberation Army could easily be put to that use, but it seems like overkill to assign highly-trained military troops to that task.

Unfit for office: Plunging Pakistan into another bout of political turmoil after a period of relative stability, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was toppled by the Supreme Court on Friday, Asif Shahzad writes. He resigned after the court ruled he was unfit to hold office and ordered a criminal investigation into his family over corruption allegations. Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, which has a majority in parliament, is expected to name a new prime minister to hold office until elections due next year. The ouster of Sharif, who served as premier on three separate occasions, raises questions about Pakistan‘s fragile democracy as no prime minister has completed a full term in power since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

Lessons from history: Moscow must understand that winning the war and making the peace are two different things, MK Bhadrakumar writes. Valuable lessons can be drawn from the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, when the “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck put his foot down on his generals’ plans to push forward after conquering Bohemia in the Battle of Königgrätz and march on to Vienna. Russia faces this lesson from history as the Syrian conflict is drawing to a close. When a war is cruising to an end prematurely, before peace talks gain traction, a void can appear. Foresight is needed to avoid it. Paradoxically, Russia is winning the Syrian war but may also be losing control of the peace process.

Myanmar peace talks: The cancellation of a major meeting of ethnic Shan groups has underscored the military’s long-standing divide-and-rule tactics and animus towards ethnic aspirations, David Scott Matthieson writes. A planned July 20-22 meeting of ethnic Shan political parties, armed groups and civil society organizations in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was canceled on orders of the Royal Thai Army, further chilling Myanmar’s already frigid peace process. Thailand acted on a request letter sent on July 19 by Brigadier General Khin Saw, Myanmar’s defense attaché based in Bangkok. The diplomatic missive claimed the meeting was planned between legal and illegal organizations and thus threatened to infringe on Myanmar’s election law and disrupt its government-led peace process.

Asia Times app: The Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that will deliver the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. Asia Times Staff report that the app, launched on July 25, includes content notification, share and save functions and is free to download from both the Apple Store and Google Play.