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Editor’s note: The following is an unsolicited response to the World Politics Review Briefing, “An Impeccable U.S.-China Incident at Sea.” As both a newsand analysis journal, WPR recognizes that some articles it publisheswill provoke differences of opinion and disagreements ofinterpretation. Our commitment is to airing all sides of acontested issue, so long as they are respectfully expressed.On March 10, 2009, the U.S. Navy surveillance ship Impeccable intruded into Chinese jurisdictional waters, inducing a confrontation with five Chinese ships. The incident raised tension in the South China Sea, which has been the site of international confrontations recently. According to the Chinese […]

Up to $1.7 billion a year in oil money is set to flow into impoverished Cambodia, where 35 percent of the population lives under $1 a day and where this year’s national budget is only $1.8 billion. Yet in a country ranking a dismal 166 out of 180 on Transparency International’s annual corruption rankings, allegations of nepotism and cronyism are already surfacing around the country’s nascent oil sector, set to start production in 2012. Critics, like London-based watchdog Global Witness, claim the makings of a “resource curse” are in place, wherein a political elite will siphon profits that should be […]

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The ancient strategist Sun Tzu stated that the acme of military skill consists of defeating one’s enemy without actually engaging him in battle. China’s strategy for advancing its domination of the South China Sea resembles a modern-day attempt to put that advice into practice. With a weak but growing blue-water capability, China is carefully and deliberately promoting a vision that de-legitimizes the forward presence of the U.S. Navy in the region. Last week’s bold and dangerous maneuvers by Chinese government vessels to disrupt a military survey mission 120 km from its coastline is the latest example of that effort. The […]

Ever since men first put to sea, conflicts have swirled around narrow maritime passages known as choke points. A subset of the broader category of Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs), maritime choke points act as funnels drawing in shipping from surrounding seas. As critical pressure points in naval struggles for “command of the sea,” every navy seeks to secure them while denying their use to the enemy. Homer’s “Iliad” already detailed the epic struggle between Troy — situated on the Dardanelles, the ancient world’s leading choke point — and a coalition of Greek city states whose armies arrived by sea […]

NASA image by Robert Simmon showing the dropping water level of the Dead Sea. The image was created using Landsat data from the United States Geological Survey.

For millennia, the Dead Sea has been fed by the sweet waters of the Jordan River while losing only pure water to relentless evaporation. The collected salts left behind have resulted in an inhospitably briny lake eight times saltier than the sea, topped by a thin layer of the Jordan’s relatively less-dense fresh water. The differing salinity levels between the river and the lake kept the Dead Sea in a perpetually layered state, even while the lake’s overall water level remained fairly constant, since evaporation from the lake’s surface occurs at roughly the rate of the natural flow of the […]

Over the past two years, the Arctic Circle has been the object of both exciting and alarming speculation. The planting of the Russian flag on the North Pole sea floor led to stories of a race to claim its resources. The opening of the fabled Northwest Passage and Russia’s Northern Sea Route led to reports of shortened trade routes — saving thousands of miles and many days at sea — between Europe and the Far East. Government forecasts of large — if as-yet undiscovered — oil and gas reserves have given rise to concerns over sovereignty, security and sustainability throughout […]