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Posts Tagged ‘geopolitics’

Book Review: The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 16, 2020

The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st CenturyThe Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century by Parag Khanna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This isn’t a bad book. In fact, it’s pretty good. But I’m torn on what to rate it. On one hand, it could potentially deserve 5 stars for accuracy, a good overview, it being topical. On the other hand, I feel inclined to give it only 3 stars because it’s really rather late to the party, so to speak. It’s not like there’s much that’s new here, and tons of things have been written and published on this very topic for over the past decade. Indeed, some may argue it’s SO late to the party, the author may have missed some important signs. The CFR’s noted Director of Asia Studies, Liz Economy (whose own potentially more topical book, “The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State,” was released last year) has been writing and publishing articles in most of the major foreign policy journals that China is actually on its way down — and fast! I don’t know that I agree with her, but others do and it’s no secret that China’s economy is in the midst of a serious slowdown — there was no feasible way China could sustain that GDP growth. Indeed, it appears India is poised to leap into that position as China fights a huge aging population crisis combined with the additional population crisis prompted by its one child rule, so its workforce will be radically impacted over the next 20+ years. Thus, those who adhere to Economy’s viewpoint — and there are quite a few — might give this book only 2 stars. I’m giving it 4 because I think it’s still currently relevant and probably will be for the next decade to come with much up in the air over that time as India strives to attain regional hegemony status, and while people are making noise over Indonesia’s possibilities in the region — Australian leaders are already discussing forming defense treaties with that country should the PLAN push further into international waters to its south… The ECS problem could turn into a nightmare should the CCP decide to do more than test Japan over the The Senkaku Islands dispute while South Korea is busy trying to match the PLAN with carrier strength buildouts while continuing to watch its northern neighbors. So, yes, the future IS Asian, but it’s faulty to assume it’s solely Chinese or will remain so because yes, it’s no longer a unipolar world, but then when people refer to a multipolar world, they’re no longer necessarily referring to the US, China and Russia. In addition to India, Brazil is trying to ambitiously strive for southern hemisphere regional hegemony status, and Britain has just sent a new carrier to the SCS while committing to invest more in such ships. The CFR’s Sheila Smith published a book last year on Japan mobilizing militarily for potential offensive purposes for the first time since WWII, largely contrary to the constitution we wrote for them since our current US administration is apparently leaving its longtime allies in the East to fend for themselves. Can we say powder keg? I think we can. Geopolitical observation and analysis have become all the more “fun” again, just as it’s becoming all the more frightening. This book is good but I doubt it stands out from a crowded field very much, but for those watching the eastward shift, it’s another good resource to invest in and thus, recommended.

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Welcome to the Space Force LinkedIn Outer Space Warfare Discussion Group

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 31, 2020

I received a very interesting and unique email last week regarding a LinkedIn group of which I’m a member. There are several things that make it fairly unique. For one thing, while this is not necessarily the first time, it still is very rare to receive a message of this nature via email sent specifically to me at one of my email addresses that is not in use or listed in or on my LinkedIn account/profile. Indeed, if any such message were to be sent out to an entire group or even, as in this case, just to “select” members of a group, it would almost always be done via LinkedIn’s messaging system. The fact that this was sent to me at a personal address not listed on my LinkedIn profile indicates it would likely be or in fact is a more pointed, personal and selective message to be sent only to certain “qualifying” entities and thus not to the entire group or even necessarily many in the LinkedIn group’s listed membership figures and members, as the group on LinkedIn doesn’t list a membership size anywhere close to the size mentioned in this email, nor does studying the listing of the members in the group on its LI page give an indication that many would be likely to receive a message of this nature. So, that’s fairly odd.

Another somewhat unique thing about this is during my 14 years on LinkedIn, I have been a member or am currently a member of a hell of a lot of groups — in a very diverse number of fields. Many of these have been at the invitation of members or group owners, while I also actually have not become a member of many groups I have been invited to join for one reason or another, often because I don’t feel it’s either a group I’m particularly interested in or perhaps necessarily qualified for. That being said, I have spent my entire life getting education, reading, studying, researching, discussing, engaging, writing about a TON of different things such that one might be inclined to say it’s simply nuts. Moreover, over the course of my lifetime, I have been or am currently a member of dozens of professional organizations, again with a wide disparity of professional specialties. If interested, I have listed on a Page tabbed at the top of this blog a fairly accurate list of Professional Organizations to which I belong. You can find it here. I don’t want to get too bogged down in this area because it isn’t the focus of this blog post, but you have to possess some measure of qualification to belong to most of them. Usually that entails one, two or more degrees in certain academic fields applicable to that organization as well as often 5-10 or even more years of experience in the field. And while some are fairly generous in defining their accepted qualifications, many of them are actually quite difficult to get into and some are what one might consider even “elite” and hence virtually impossible to get into for the majority of people, while many of them also are very narrowly focused and so the requirements are very narrowly defined, such as an organization for military special forces or electronic warfare experts or Foreign Service professionals (State Department), or physicists, etc. Some will basically take your word for it in listing specific degrees in specific subjects at specific named universities as well as specific job titles in specific companies or divisions of companies or federal agencies, etc. Many are tougher and will require evidence in the form of transcripts, proof of expertise or seniority within the industry they represent, and some require sponsorship from members or even actually multiple senior members. As such, one must go through a vetting process for many of these organizations, some of which are so thorough as to simulate or even be like a variation of a security clearance vetting, taking anywhere from 1-2 days to two weeks to 1-2 months, etc. Like I said, some are extremely selective. And like the LinkedIn groups, I didn’t necessarily request or apply to join and become a member of them all — I was invited. However, I often HAVE applied for membership with many, and to be perfectly candid, I have applied to quite a few where one might assume I wouldn’t meet the criteria at all and would thus be rejected. That makes sense. Common sense. After all, I’ve never officially been a Foreign Service Officer or worked for the State Department nor have I been a certified counselor and I’ve never been a professional scientist or physicist, or Air Force general, etc. Yet at the same time, I’ve never applied to an organization I felt I couldn’t prove I wasn’t practically or pragmatically qualified for. Just because I don’t officially have an Electrical Engineering degree doesn’t mean I didn’t spend four years at UCLA studying the material and pursuing a diploma only to not be able to finish and get the diploma because of unfortunately timed necessary geographical relocation, as well as having spent years working in that field. See? Qualified. Nor have I ever had a job where I had the official title of “Systems Engineer,” yet I’ve served in that function and filled that role one way or another in so many of my jobs at so many companies that I am actually a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE)! And therefore to my shock at times, I’ve never been rejected when applying to any professional organization for which I felt I was qualified, despite a lack of a formal degree in the field or specific job title, etc., because my combination of education, work experience, research, publishing, knowledge, expertise in a large number of areas has apparently made up for the “deficiencies” one might presume regarding the more formal requirements. Still, I’ve been shocked plenty of times when admitted to organizations such as American Physical Society (APS Physics), Espionage Research Institute International (ERII) and the American Counseling Association (ACA) among others.

The purpose of the overly long preceding paragraph is meant to provide some context for the email message (or part of it) that I recently received from the group owner of one of the aforementioned LinkedIn groups of which I am currently a member. (At last glance, I’m currently a member in 96 LI groups, but have been leaving some because that’s just too many, so I’ve left probably 20+ more over the past year alone.) And so finally, one of the LI groups of which I’m a member is the Military Space Warfare Discussion Group (because, yes, that’s been one of my research and engagement areas for some time). The group, as listed on LI, doesn’t consist of too many members, so when I received the following email, I found it surprising, not only for what I’ve already shared, but because it literally gives a demographic/statistical breakdown of the 13,952 “hand-picked” members “with experience in Space Control and Space Domain Awareness (SDA).” I’ve literally never seen such a thing before, for any of these groups. Sure, you could stroll through the various member listings to see what, if listed, they do and in what capacity and for which entity (rarely listed in many of these groups), but who has the time for that? But as a person who has always loved stats, demographics, stuff like that, I got a real kick out of the data enclosed in the email. After the main body in the email there follows listings of various space warfare documents, files, doctrine, escalation ladders, etc., with links to numerous repositories of such. I won’t include that part of the email since it’s not intended for public viewing, but I’ll now post what seems like one of the more unique group/org emails I’ve ever received…

 

 

– Welcome to the Space Force LinkedIn Outer Space Warfare Discussion Group
1 message
Space Strategies Center <Paul.Szymanski@satellitewar.com> Sat, Jan 18, 2020 at 2:02 PM
Reply-To: Space Strategies Center <Paul.Szymanski@satellitewar.com>

To: scottholstad@gmail.com

 

LinkedIn Space Warfare Discussion Group:

Welcome to the newly re-launched Outer Space Warfare Discussion Group on LinkedIn! You are a member of this Group by your own request, or because you linked up with me due to my extensive space warfare experience over the past 46 years. This Group is for people who have an interest in warfare in the space environment, and I welcome experts and non-experts alike. I am particularly interested in people with military backgrounds, even if not space related, because I believe military principles honed over many years of history are also applicable to future space combat.

With the establishment of the United States Space Force, it is now critical to better understand outer space warfare theory, principles, policy, doctrine, strategies and tactics, along with the political implications of space attacks, and how these attacks may challenge allied relationships. Setting the correct foundational principles can launch the Space Force on the right path to fight and win the next space wars. All topics for discussion are for general doctrine concepts only, which is always considered unclassified and not sensitive since these foundational concepts must be employed in educating all personnel of the new Space Force.

The Space Warfare Discussion Group on LinkedIn is probably the most extensive collection of senior decision-makers in the United States, if not the World, who have an interest in space warfare. The general membership statistics of this Group are given below. In addition, links to documents used in previous Group discussions are listed towards the end of this email.

As a first topic of discussion for the new year I give a link below for a briefing by one of our long-term Group members, Dr. Mir Sadat (LinkedIn profile), who is a director at the White House National Security Council for space policy.

You may view Dr. Sadat’s talk at the below link:

Space Cooperation in an Age of Great Power Competition

 

Thank-you for your time,

Paul Szymanski

President

Space Strategies Center

National@Policy.Space

 

LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/PaulSzymanski

Professional Websites: http://Policy.Space  or  http://Wars.Space

 

Space Warfare Group Membership Statistics: The Space Warfare discussion group on LinkedIn that I developed is probably the most senior discussion group in the country with an interest in space control critical topics. It consists of 13,952 hand-picked members on LinkedIn with experience in Space Control and Space Domain Awareness (SDA), or at least have expressed an interest in these topics, and includes: 367 members from military colleges (including the former Superintendent of the Air Force Academy), 825 from private and Government think tanks, 293 from public universities, 103 from government intelligence agencies (including the NASIC Chief Scientist and the former NRO Chief Scientist), 184 from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 283 from NATO, 96 from NORAD-USSTRATCOM, 1,262 General officers, Admirals or equivalents (one to four stars, including former: Secretary of the Army, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army (3), Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, NATO Assistant Secretary General, Commander of US Army in Europe, Commander of U.S. Air Force in Europe, Commander & Deputy Commander of Special Operations Command in Europe, Commander of US Army Forces Africa, Commander of US Army Pacific, Commanders (2) of U.S. Forces in Japan, Commander of US Central Command, Commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command, Commanders of Air Combat Command (2), NATO Commanders (2), Commander of NORAD-USNORTHCOM, Commanding Generals of the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division (2), 1st US Army, US Army South (2), US Army Special Operations Command, Director of the National Security Space Office, Commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Commander of Navy Installations Command; Commander of Naval Air Systems Command, also current: Commanders of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (3), Commander of AFMC, Director of DISA, Superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Marine Corps Commandant and now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also one former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), 293 from the Secretary of Defense office (including one former Secretary of Defense and 56 current and former Under/Assistant Secretaries of Defense), 2 former Secretaries of the Air Force, 14 Under/Assistant Secretaries of the Air Force, 1 former Secretary of the Army, 13 Under/Assistant Secretaries of the Army, 2 Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, 6 Assistant Secretaries of the Navy, past and current Commanders of the 3rd, 4th, 5th (2 commanders), 6th (2 commanders), Pacific (2 commanders) and Korea Naval fleets, and 7th and 8th Air Forces, 2 Assistant Secretaries of DOE, 2 Assistant Secretaries of the Treasury, 2 Under Secretary of Commerce, 2 from the National Military Command Center, 421 Congressional House & Senate staffers, 1,132 from specific military space agencies, 716 from various other military services, 126 diplomats & ambassadors, 92 from the State Department (including 9 Assistant Secretaries of State), 3,558 from various space-related defense contractors, 205 from the White House and National Security Council staffs, 103 from NASA (including their Chief Scientist), 27 astronauts, and 27 from The Vatican, among others.

 

Wow! Wild, huh? And here’s something else that’s crazy: I actually have quite a few of the listed individuals as personal connections, in some cases for many years. And by a few, I mean a lot, from the bottom ranks to the very top (not only Joint Staff, but Joint Chiefs), Commander of US Army in Europe, Commander of US Army Pacific, Commander of NORAD, various Assistant Secretaries of Defense, many Assistant Secretaries of States and so on. Life is just surreal sometimes. I really have little more to say except that I think I’ll actually post a list of the LI groups to which I currently belong, in arbitrary order, just to show you how diverse and frankly wacky my professional interests are…

 

The LinkedIn Groups I’m A Member Of And The Number of Members They Have At The Time I Am Admitted To The Group The Present (1/20/2020):

 

  1. EarthLink Alumni – 1,989
  2. CSULB Alumni Association – 10,159
  3. U of Tennessee Alumni Group-Official – 14,629
  4. Queens University of Charlotte – 1,273
  5. University of Tennessee, Knoxville – 23,024
  6. Project Manager Network – 854,417
  7. Society for Technical Communication – 11,738
  8. NetworkTN – 9,613
  9. Information Security Community – 398,124
  10. Technical Writing & Content Management – 13,628
  11. Entrepreneur’s Network – 60,675
  12. Consultants Network – 462,708
  13. IT & Software – 1,479
  14. Information Systems Security Association– 55,539
  15. IT Professionals – 224,675
  16. Cyber Security Forum Initiative (CSFI) – 110,311
  17. USENIX Association – 3,145
  18. Association of Old Crows – 10,920
  19. Telecom & Wireless World – 7,643
  20. Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) & Cyber Security – 61,354
  21. COO Executive Group – 5,621
  22. ISACA – 48,492
  23. AFCEA International – 6,663
  24. ASIS International – 100,050
  25. US Nuclear Energy Foundation (USNEF) – 22
  26. Cyber Intelligence Network – 31,403
  27. Military Intelligence Group: China Region – 2,578
  28. International Relations (IR) & Affairs Group – 100,479
  29. China Studies Group – 4,731
  30. The Intelligence Community – 71,801
  31. Cyber Law & Information Security – 13,229
  32. Quantum Computing – 6,838
  33. Chief Executives | CEO, COO, CFO, CTO & CXO – 81,788
  34. Cool Hand Nuke – 17,700
  35. Foreign Policy Discussion Group – 4,282
  36. Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Machine Learning – 280,931
  37. Quantum Mechanics/Physics/Theory/Leap/Computing Information Science! – 2,990
  38. Executive Suite – 342,854
  39. Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Saas & Virtualization – 493,061
  40. IACD – Integrated Adaptive Cyber Defense – 1,040
  41. Nuclear Security – 1,922
  42. ACM Members – 14,763
  43. Information Technology, FinTech, Blockchain and Bitcoin Innovation – 343,064
  44. Chronic Pain Management Support – 10,042
  45. Traumatic Brain Injury Support Group – 720
  46. Nuclear Power – the next generation – 46,719
  47. Asia Pacific Analysts, Consultants & Researchers Association – 2,144
  48. IETF – The Internet Engineering Task Force – 8,630
  49. Pittsburgh Penguins Fans – 2,487
  50. Artificial Intelligence – 53,917
  51. Cloud Security Alliance – 97,829
  52. Strategic Planning Society (SPS) – 55,865
  53. Big Data & Analytics – 378,331
  54. HISTORY – Practical History – 14,000
  55. Future Trends – 558,535
  56. Data Science Central – 303,965
  57. Nuclear Energy – 5,715
  58. Machine Learning & Data Science – 103,342
  59. Cloud Storage – 45,648
  60. EW, Countermeasures – 2,206
  61. European Commission – “External relations and foreign affairs” – 882
  62. Defense & Aerospace – 138,691
  63. The Virtualization & Cloud Computing Group – 97,535
  64. Science, Technology & Innovation Policy – 27,423
  65. Irregular Warfare Center of Excellence – 1,429
  66. Robotics and Machine Intelligence – 6,934
  67. Special Operations Research Association (SORA) – 345
  68. Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) – 6,724
  69. Business Intelligence Professionals (BI, Big Data, Analytics) – 244,491
  70. Private Military & Security Contractors – 11,984
  71. Digital & IT Strategy – 15,259
  72. Business Analysis – 13,773
  73. Neural Networks Club – 638
  74. Global SOF Foundation – 3,800
  75. APS Physics – 1,948
  76. The Business Technology Forum – 44,185
  77. INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY – 42,918
  78. CHINA Debate – 1,233
  79. IOSI: Counter-Terrorism & Geopolitical Security – 19,760
  80. NeuroScience Network – 6,528
  81. Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE) – 78,248
  82. IEEE Systems, Man, & Cybernetics Society (SMCS) – 62
  83. IEEE Robotics & Automation Society (IEEE RAS) – 23,225
  84. Military Space Warfare Discussion Group – 188
  85. Security, Intelligence & Risk Fusion Group – 363
  86. IEEE Computational Intelligence Society CIS – 5,141
  87. Technology & Society: the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) – 4,234
  88. American Association of Political Consultants – 10,610
  89. Creativity: Authors and Books | Artists and Paintings – 142,556
  90. Politics, Diplomacy, Communication & Protocol (Think Tank) – 585
  91. Sports Techie – 4,800
  92. Business Analysis – 13,776
  93. Defence IQ – 13,782
  94. Aerospace & Security & Defence Technology & Business – 45,724
  95. Space Situational Awareness – 730
  96. Military History & Strategy – 10,838

 

 

FORMERLY A MEMBER OF (at least 22 more in the past two years):

 

  • Knoxville Farragut HS Alumni
  • Writing Professionals and Authors
  • Network Chattanooga
  • IT & Startups
  • Online Sellers Community for eBay, Amazon,…
  • Senior Executive Exchange
  • The IT Entrepreneur
  • Global Business Leaders
  • Audiophile Enthusiast
  • LinkEds & Writers
  • Technical Writer Forum 
  • Vinyl Record Collecting Network 
  • Career Thought Leaders Consortium 
  • Film & TV Tech Professionals 
  • Positions for Scientists 
  • Cybercrime Today 
  • Technology Leaders Association 
  • Chief Strategy Officer 
  • Startup vs Corporate Innovation 
  • Data Driven Drilling & Production 
  • Advanced Clean Energy Summit 
  • Technology and Society: the IEEE Society on Social Implication of Technology (SSIT) 

 

 

[If, for some reason, you would like to confirm this information, you can find the people I follow, companies I follow and LI groups of which I’m a member at the bottom of my LI profile, like everyone else’s:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottholstad/.]

 

 

 

 

[The top section of my LinkedIn profile…]

 

 

 

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Book Review: Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 30, 2020

Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military PowerJapan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power by Sheila A. Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before I say anything about this book, I need to confess I know the author (to whatever degree), highly respect her expertise on Japan (she’s the Council on Foreign Relations’ Senior Fellow for Japan), so this commentary and rating possibly may not be as reasonably objective as I try to make most of my ratings/reviews. That said, when she came out with this book recently, I was elated and dived in. It’s taken me a long time to work my way through because I have this horrible habit of reading far too many books simultaneously, which just slows everything down. And I’ve been meaning to contact her and give her some kudos for producing a great work here, but I’ve been too tied up to even keep up with people like I typically have over my life.

That said, I can hardly think of a more timely book. Particularly as it relates to the topic at hand. Millions (okay, maybe fewer, but still quite a lot) have been “China watchers” for years now and while it’s sensible, advisable, necessary, etc., to keep eyes trained on Beijing, and particularly as variables within the South China Sea become more clusterf*cked, more hostile, as the PLAN continues its progression into the India Sea, now being joined by Russia and Iran in a potential new axis of maritime adversaries, and as China has already tangled with the Philippines and Vietnam, and as India strives to become another possible regional hegemony, I think many of us in the west (understandably, perhaps) tend to lose track of some other states of import, most notably our longtime allies, at least one of whom is now feeling completely abandoned by the current US Administration and any defense agreements we’ve had since WWII (Australia), which I think is a travesty considering what a great and faithful ally Australia has been to the US over that time period, joining the US with only a couple of other states in fighting alongside us in the various “conflicts” we’ve found ourselves — unlike the vast majority of other, more “prominent” allies. Australia is so panicked that debate as been ongoing there on what to do regarding China, the Indo-Pacific region, and defense of their own country as they lack any form of serious navy, having built their defense doctrine on dependence on the USN. Which no longer looks like a sure thing, so major leaders are actually calling for the country to withdraw from the NPT and illegally go nuclear for survival’s sake! Which is a sad commentary.

Meanwhile, South Korea is facing its own challenges due to not only China, but their northern neighbors, whose leader seems cleverly insane. Plays a tough game. But the focus here is obviously the one that seems to get forgotten in all of these geopolitical games — Japan.

It’s great to see this major Asian/East Asian state that has been basically boxed into a corner it’s trying to get out of become the focus of some good new research and analysis produced and published just at the right time. Because for those caught up in the SCS BS going on daily, all too many people seem to neglect the games being placed in the ECS (East China Sea). Between China and Japan. Or more accurately, between the PLAAF/PLAN over the Senkaku Islands, or the Diaoyu Islands as the PRC insists on referring to them as, and the JCG and JASDF. And it couldn’t be any more stupid than this, but it is, and yes, it’s merely symbolic, but the fact that one state feels so aggressive about a group of small uninhabited islands that Japan legally owns, per international law and recognition, that it’s willing to take “testing” the much smaller and spreader thinned out JCG and JASDF by sending hundreds or even thousands of Chinese fishing boats into the contested waters or a larger number of aircraft buzzing the islands constantly, itching for an “opportunity” to do who knows what at the very plausible risk of a regional war that could spread once you bring contesting hegemonies into the equation … well, that’s either a sign of supreme confidence (maybe Pillsbury was right, but was too generous in his predictions of when the CCP would show its hand?), supreme stupidity if it actually is willing to risk a potential world war by hedging its bets the US won’t want to enter such a war merely because of decades-old defense commitments and treaties between the US and Japan (which is actually NOT a bad gamble on their part circa early 2020 as I write this), or typical CCP craftiness in pushing all as far as possible to get as much as possible by whatever means necessary — short of all out war. Which is my take on it at the present, but I’m willing to adjust that analysis as events transpire.

One may be a follower of issues, variables, geopolitical tensions, etc., throughout the greater Asian and East Asian regions, and they may be aware to some degree of what potential threat a burgeoning regional hegemony may present, but they may not possess the context Sheila provides in this book, such as how Japan has historically had its political and hence military hands tied when it came to defense spending, military building, etc., due largely to the constitution the US drew up for the country upon its surrender in 1945, and due to a combination of war guilt, the struggle to rebuild a country and economy, and to yes, abide by the constitution they now were governed by which has limited their ability and indeed desire to “go military.” And with China incessantly goading them eternally for the atrocities committed during the last century, the most famous of which was Nanking, those historically cautioning against appearing antagonistic in building up a (smallish) military for defense are now being countered by those who, like our other traditional allies in that area (such as Australia and South Korea), are getting sick and tired of Xi throwing his weight around yet fear if conflict comes, they’ll be on their own — hence the topic of the book titled “Japan Rearmed.” Frankly, there’s much more than simply what I’ve described or alluded to (and I’ve possibly even gone off track, inadvertently — a bad habit), but if I went into more, I’d be writing a book myself (another major element is merely the concept of an offensive militarized Japan with all of the possible regional implications that might entail…)! This is really one of the best books on the topic I’ve seen come along in a very long time. And again, so relevant and timely. I couldn’t urge people around the globe, let alone in the west and US, to read this more strongly than I am now, because I think it’s essential that we understanding the changing dynamics of a newly multi-polar world that’s been shifting to the east for over two decades. There are more variables than one cares to think about, but think about them one must (or should).

I feel like I didn’t do the book or the author sufficient justice in what I’ve written, but my health has sadly deteriorated to the point where I rarely write long, meaningful or in-depth book reviews like I did for many years, and I just don’t have the time and energy I once did. So my hope is the author will forgive any shortcomings in this review and will appreciate the overall spirit of support and enthusiasm I have for this book because I think it’s the best one I’ve seen published in the last several years amongst the Asian “experts” out there, no others being specifically named or mentioned at this time. Personally, there may be one or two experts out there who have very high profiles, and everyone seems to dote on every word they produce, but for my money Sheila Smith can think, research, analyze and write her way around all of them, and if this book isn’t proof, I’m not sure what would be. Most strongly recommended for those who are into international relations, Asia, East Asia, China, Japan, geopolitics, the growth of regional hegemonies, the global shift to the east, the dynamics being played out daily, etc. Literally one of the best of hundreds of books I’ve read over the past couple of years. Get a copy.

View all my reviews

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My Years In Books: 2019

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 24, 2019

Every year, I participate in the Goodreads Annual Reading Challenge. At the beginning of each year, you set a goal for how many books you’ll read that year. Goodreads keeps track of your running total and then lets you know how you’ve done and what percentage of your goal you met. You can also see other participants in the Reading Challenge. Each year, they provide an end of year webpage showing your stats, how you did, etc. For some reason, they recently decided to make them only able to share to a few social network sites where I no longer have accounts. I remain annoyed by this, so I’m doing the next best thing for the second straight year. (And you can see my blog entry for 2018’s results here:  My Year In Books: 2018.) I’ve taken several screenshots showing information like what they describe as your “Year in Books,” parts of the webpage showing how many books, pages, etc, you read that year, the average length of the book, etc., my 2019 Reading Challenge results, my Reading Challenge results since 2013 and something I’ve never done before — an intro to the webpage of My Year in Books because as you’ll see, my numbers are tremendously skewed up this year and are thus somewhat deceptive, so I felt obligated to explain. For what it’s worth, I set my 2019 reading goal at 90 books. Goodreads is reporting I read 443 books, or 492% of my original goal. Like I said, I wrote an explanation because while I exceed my goal every year, it’s never by that much and there are a couple of reasons why this year’s numbers aren’t completely accurate. So I’m going to post these screenshots for you to see. If you want to see the actual books I read this year, you can go to my Goodreads profile here. (I believe you have to be a logged in member to view it, however…)

And now, the promised screenshots. Comments are welcome…

 

2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge

My Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge Results

 

 

 

My Goodreads All-time Annual Reading Challenge Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019”

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019” — Introduction

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019” — End Of Webpage

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

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SpaceX Goes Gonzo On ESA Satellite This Week!

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 5, 2019

Here’s one for all you SpaceX haters out there (and I know there are a lot, because many of them send me messages!). Monday, the ESA (European Space Agency) actually had to remotely maneuver one of its satellites out of the way of an oncoming SpaceX satellite that seemed well on its way to hitting the ESA one!

“A SpaceX spokesperson said a bug in its on-call operating system prevented the team from seeing that the risk of a collision with the ESA craft may have increased. ‘Had the Starlink operator seen the correspondence, we would have coordinated with ESA to determine best approach with their continuing with their manoeuvre or our performing a manoeuvre,’ the spokesperson said.”

I can already hear the Musk haters talking about letting “the professionals” do it. However, to put things in perspective, there are some 20,000 private craft orbiting the earth right now, so it’s probably unfair to place all the blame on SpaceX. Personally, I applaud their efforts in trying to accomplish things many states no longer do or can. Dream big!

Brief article here: “ESA re-routes satellite to avoid SpaceX collision risk.”

 

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Nuclear Proliferation Coming Down The Road…

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 3, 2019

(Non)proliferation. For the past 60+ years, the US has led the world in arguing for nonproliferation and with the NPT some decades ago and a lot of diplomacy to go with it, virtually every country in the world signed it. The few that didn’t were known or thought to have nuclear weapons and these were termed “illegal.” Many people know that. What some might not know is that leading Australian figures (I’ve meant to write about this for months.) are now suggesting the unthinkable: withdraw from the NPT and go nuclear. Bad enough, but now we also have India’s defense minister (who happens to be one of my contacts) publicly stating “that New Delhi might change its ‘no first use’ policy on nuclear weapons.” With the current geopolitical situation, I get it, I do. But in a very short time, we’re going from nine nuclear countries, some NFU, to potentially two more nuclear countries while one existing country debates changing their NFU policy. While not a total surprise, considering the efforts the US has made for over half a century, it’s a little surreal to see such things happening.

Feel free to read the following article: “India hints at changing ‘no first use’ nuclear policy.”

 

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A New Book Review: Has the West Lost It?: A Provocation

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 9, 2019

Hi All. Sorry I haven’t been posting and I don’t have time to explain now, but my schedules and the degree of my responsibilities and overall business have radically changed, my health is rapidly deteriorating, and we’ve been EXTREMELY busy house hunting, which looks like it’s finally going to pay off after over seven long, grueling months of hellish work.

In any event, I wrote a new book review today and published it on Medium, an excellent combo online magazine/writing community/source of extremely diverse information and ideas. I’ve published a couple of things there before. They publish writers from newbies to writers for The Atlantic, NY Times, Washington Post, The New Yorker, etc. In order to read their content, you’re supposed to be a member, which involved a very small fee. However, not everyone wants to be a member, but some people still want to access specific articles. Fortunately, Medium’s cool enough so that they provide a “Friend Link,” so non-members can access a specific article. Thus, I’m going to post that link here and invite anyone to go read it. It’s a little over 800 words, so not too long, and it’s on a very interesting book discussing the deterioration of the West as world power shifts to the East — a subject I’ve read a ton of things on, but nearly all by American/Western writers — and the thing that makes this book very unique is it provides analysis, commentary, critiques, and suggestions regarding the West from a presumably Eastern world citizen who is quite astute and who wants the West to hold strong and make a comeback. I thought it provided an interesting perspective. I hope you are all doing well, and here’s the link. Feel free to comment. Thanks!

 

Has the West Lost It?: A Provocation : A Book Review

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It’s Not Just Huawei and ZTE…

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 4, 2019

I published an article on my LinkedIn page on April 4, 2019. This is the gist.

There are other technology-based companies in China, some much bigger and wealthier than Huawei, that *could* be capable of things some accuse the more famous companies of while hiding beneath the surface. Here is the link to it if you’re interested: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-just-huawei-zte-scott-holstad.

 

Well, what I found after publishing the link on my blog here was that while, if memory serves me correctly, for many years LinkedIn has been an open site, if not for posts, articles, original content, etc., at least for people’s profiles, often viewed as expanded digital resumes. The impetus was simple. Your profile, and hence your digital resume, could be located by anyone, anywhere, most prominently headhunters, recruiters, HR professionals, etc. That was, after all, the original point. But no more! I really don’t know when changes started happening, but I discovered sometime last year that if one searched for me by name and my LinkedIn profile came up in the search results, clicking on it would take you to a black page with a login, and subsequently ever since, everything I’ve posted, shared, written, published, created, and yes, even my ever fluid profile has been completely off limits to anyone who cannot log into LinkedIn, presumably anyone who does not have an account. I’ve said publicly what I think about this new trend, but for this particular purpose, that’s a topic for another post.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In any event, when I posted the original post with the link to my article here, I heard from some of you telling me you couldn’t access the article, was there another way for you to read it? And yes, there is. Forgive me for taking so long to address this, but I’ve been ill, busy and out of town, so I’m only now getting to it, but my solution is to simply reproduce my article in its entirety as it appears on my LinkedIn profile here on my blog, at which point it will be accessible to all. The formatting may not be as perfect, but the content will be the same. So, as requested,

 

It’s Not Just Huawei and ZTE…

 

Yesterday, Foreign Policy magazine published an article titled “The Improbable Rise of Huawei” with the tagline reading “How did a private Chinese firm come to dominate the world’s most important emerging technology?” (https://bit.ly/2HXEcU2) Current trendy topic, legitimate questions. I get it. And I don’t blame the authors or the journal. It’s a good piece, well written in a quality publication, and it’s one that needs addressing, although in my opinion, there’s probably been a little bit of overkill recently.

Huawei Mobile Phone\

[Huawei Mobile Phone]

I’ve been researching this myself. But I’ve been researching some other things, other companies, their owners, and shell games – all Chinese. And I’ve got a LOT of questions, and one thing I’m curious about is why the founder of Huawei, a Communist party member and former PLA soldier, is getting so much notoriety, and everyone knows how fabulously wealthy the company has become, yet no one is talking about another Chinese entrepreneur who started a company of his own, also under mysterious and unusual circumstances, and who has been so very successful, that he is worth about 20 times what Huawei’s Ren Zhengfei is worth and according to this year’s Forbes, is the 22nd richest man in the world (https://bit.ly/2HYsbhq), compared to Ren, whom Forbes lists at #1,425 (https://bit.ly/2G1jnFb)!

Do you know of whom I refer? Does the name “Jack Ma” ring a bell? Does the company, “Alibaba” (or Alibaba Group) ring a bell? (https://www.alibaba.com) Let’s just say that his background is of a person who was largely a massive failure, who found out about the Internet and somehow found 20 grand to start a web design company out of his house with his wife. (I intend to write more about this some other time, so I’m leaving a great deal out…) Around 1999, with his wife and a group of friends, Alibaba had been formed as a B to B technology marketplace start-up. (https://bit.ly/2fcoC5c)

Then Ma disappears. Nothing on him. I’m sure it’s possible to find stuff, but just take a cursory glance and see if you can find him in, say 2006 or 2010. Yet, in 2015 he surfaces and takes the company public at the NYSE in the biggest IPO in the history of the world! Now how did he get from poor, miserable failure (rejected on 30 out of 30 job applications after barely making it through a minor teacher’s institute with a BA in English, just as one example), start two companies in three years, start making bank and then disappear from view for 15 years, only to emerge in the public’s eye to become, by today, owner of a relatively unknown (in much of the West) Chinese company that is literally worth twice as much as the notorious, world famous Huawei, and whose own net worth as of this year is over $40 BILLION compared to Ren’s $2.2 billion, as of two days ago? Doesn’t that strike anyone besides me as just a little … odd? And while Huawei is everywhere in the world, so is Alibaba. Indeed, I have very senior level contacts at both companies (C-level), both in China and in the US. I’ve interacted with some people at different times. And the Foreign Policy writers, if I recall correctly, noted that Huawei is everywhere now – specifically in 170 countries. Guess how many countries Alibaba operates in? Going on 200. Yep, bigger, richer, more successful, founder possibly more mysterious than Huawei’s, and while the company hasn’t become notorious for making devices like mobile phones, they sell the hell out of them! I know, I bought one. Recently. A high-end Kyocera, unlocked international, for half the retail cost elsewhere. But I didn’t keep it. There were multiple reasons why. I looked at it, tested it carefully, and returned it. The company actually has a program where they award certificates, of a sort, to third party resellers whom they deem sufficiently good enough to represent them. And while the company is not a manufacturer, like Huawei is, it has access to and sells more (I believe) items, generally technology items such as … mobile phones…, than most companies in the world. And while people are up in arms about Huawei’s alleged ties to China’s communist party, certainly in the company’s beginnings, many analysts believe that NO “private” company, especially such huge, successful international behemoths – that are everywhere throughout the western world, for instance – could possibly operate without both the permission AND most likely the backing of the CCP, or at least elements of the CCP. Think about that. And think about the fact that Alibaba sells a virtually unlimited number of Huawei and ZTE products, as well as many other international products (including from other Chinese companies), in more places than Huawei! And how hard is it to modify a mobile phone? If MSS, or one of the newer agencies that have been created over the past few years, were to somehow be involved in some way – and I’m NOT saying they are at all!!! – it wouldn’t be too difficult to replicate or even improve on some of the possibilities that some people are accusing Huawei of. Think about that too. And just in case you’re wondering if the company is just a giant marketplace, understand this – like many other companies, they’re ambitious. And they’ve developed a cloud program so massive, it can be rivaled only by the likes of AWS, Google, IBM and it seems Oracle is also moving up the ranks. Literally, Alibaba has come out of nowhere to become one of the roughly 5-6 biggest cloud providers in the entire world! And yes, I have connections with people at Alibaba Cloud (https://us.alibabacloud.com).

Server Farm - Alibaba Rev

What does one make of this? I guess my primary point is to not discount this company simply because it does not manufacture high tech wireless devices. It’s a technology company, first and foremost, and it’s gone from reseller to a very big player, essentially under most people’s noses. Which begs another question: how big do and will they get? I anticipate acquisitions, partnerships, new divisions in other areas. I would think AI would be very attractive to them at the moment, especially in light of Xi’s announced ONE TRILLION-dollar goal to have the biggest and best quality (by far) AI industry in the world by 2025. And with the R&D available in China, and that kind of financial backing, and – forgive me if it seems like I don’t know what in the world I’m talking about, because I know enough to be dangerous, but I’m not a scientist – with the likely advent of advanced quantum computing, it’s virtually impossible to imagine the possibilities of that bizarre universe as a base for AI. And what could come from that. Need I continue?

But that’s not all. I’ve been delving into other, smaller and lesser known, but increasingly popular, Chinese wireless manufacturers and companies, and have turned up quite a bit of interesting information in the process. I’m not ready to name names, but one company that interested me turned out to be owned by another company – in the same district in the same city – that turned out to be owned by yet another company – same district, same city – all of whom had unlisted, but official representatives who shared the same email domain – that of one of these companies. And their items and inventory are similar, but grow more diverse, and you start hitting walls, have to find ways around them, and continue on, while more and more companies pop up. And they go out of their way to hide their connections with the others, and the next one and next one. Standard shell game. Makes one wonder who the ultimate owner is… Possibly Huawei? Or ZTE? Or MSS itself? Who knows? All I know is there’s a lot more going on in China than many realize, particularly with certain types of technology being sold and provided in the West. And that begs an interesting question – could Huawei simply be a distraction – a large one – thus allowing an untold number of much smaller, relatively unknown companies (or in Alibaba’s case, certainly not smaller, but definitely not a household name) to produce and distribute goods that actually might do what Huawei’s products are often accused of? Let’s not forget, there are a lot of devious people in the world, including in some governments (I think the US learned that in 2016, although preparations for that began many, many years earlier). Face it, many Westerners, and especially Americans, are – or have been for decades – simply naïve because we haven’t bothered to study other peoples and cultures and so on much more the way so many other countries have studied the US. Kissinger himself said that was probably his biggest mistake, circa the ‘70s. Not educating himself properly, not getting to know other peoples, other cultures, others’ goals and ambitions, even among one’s perceived allies. I would like to hope many Americans have come a long way since then, but I fear that most US geopolitical policy efforts since the Cold War have finally brought many to realize we have not, that we sat on our haunches, focused on the wrong agendas while ignoring important issues, and now there could be some major prices to be paid, if not already, then almost certainly in the near future.

I’ll wrap things up now, although I have much more to say. As mentioned, I hope to continue researching and digging and be able later to publish a more detailed piece with more specific information and harder analysis. Besides, I’ve been banging this out for too long now, and I have to move on to other projects. And while everyone is focusing on Huawei, I’d encourage people to take a hard look at some other entities, such as was mentioned here, as well as numerous other examples, and then do some reflecting. Feedback is welcome.

 

Scott C. Holstad

Founder, COO, CTO, Chief Strategy Officer, VP Cybersecurity @ WireMe Designs, LLC – Retired!

WireMe Designs, LLC

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