In a real life game of "RISK," the pieces are set for the next great war of mankind.
In the East China Sea, the contest of wills between Beijing and Manila is reaching a dangerous precipice as populist Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte orders his military to occupy the disputed Spratley Islands.
In the Spratleys, among other islands and atolls, China has flexed its naval strength largely unopposed for several years, building and enlarging islands to build forward military bases, all while testing its carrier flight capability.
This week President Trump will meet China's President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The stakes of this meeting are grave already given the increasing ballistic missile capacity of North Korea which has driven Japan, a nation that willingly forsook war following defeat in WW2, to contemplate remilitarization. That willingness was signified in the 2016 launch of the JNS Izumo, a full aircraft carrier in all but name.
On the other side of the world
Yesterday brought a horrific chemical attack that has claimed at least 70 lives injuring some 400 to Syria, a nation still torn by a seven-year civil war. In Syria, the government of President Bashar Al-Assad stands accused by the US, UK, Turkey and France of using devastating and cruel chemical agents on civilians for a FOURTH time.
However, as Assad is allied with Russia, Syria's long-time patron state since the cold war, and the Shiite theocracy Iran, seeking a regional advantage in yet another de-stabilized Sunni Islamic nation, the UN is paralyzed.
Statements from the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and President Trump seem to indicate that absent swift UN action another international coalition: likely composed of a NATO/EU combination may engage in the conflict directly:
"When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action," Haley said. "For the sake of the victims, I hope the rest of the council is finally willing to do the same."
I've written before and spoken on the HollowNet Podcast about the return of the old empires, Russian, Ottoman, Persian and Chinese. The board is set, the pieces are moving and President Trump flanked by Prime Minister May and President Hollande sits opposite Presidents Jinping, Putin, Erdogan, Rouhani, and Al-Assad, holding the dice. Your move Mr. Trump.