Iran’s Next President Will Be a Hard-liner

Iran’s Next President Will Be a Hard-liner

Mohd Samsul Mohd Said/Getty Images

How elections and escalating tensions with Donald Trump will make it difficult for Hassan Rouhani to win a second term

Under United States President Barack Obama, Iran benefited enormously by pretending to be moderate. It was the “moderate” nature of Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, that Mr. Obama said provided pretext for the nuclear deal that he implemented with Iran on Jan. 16, 2016. That deal ended powerful economic sanctions and gave Iran billions of dollars in cash.

However, that moderate pretense may not be Iran’s most expedient policy anymore, now that America has a new president. What worked for President Obama is unlikely to work for President Trump. Going up against Mr. Trump will probably force Iran to drop its cloak of modesty and become more overtly confrontational.

Popularity Problems

From a foreign-policy point of view, the nuclear deal has been a huge success for Rouhani, who is up for reelection in May. Domestically though, not so much.

In November, the National Interest wrote that Rouhani sold the deal to voters saying that it would “alleviate the threat of war against the world’s greatest military power, and second, [it] would inject foreign capital into the Iranian economy and reconnect it to the global marketplace.”

However, one year on from the implementation of the deal, everyday Iranians are yet to feel any economic relief. Instead, most of the economic gains from the deal have gone directly to Iran’s government and military. Added to that, over the past couple of weeks the threat of military action between Iran and the United States has increased. Neither of Rouhani’s selling points for the deal have materialized. And with the elections coming in a few months, hard-liners are looking to capitalize on this.

Politically, Rouhani needs the nuclear deal to hold up for another three months as proof that his diplomatic policy works. But he also needs it to show some economic benefit. Trump isn’t going to make that easy.

The Trump administration has already introduced new sanctions in response to Iran’s latest ballistic missile test. And as Mr. Trump indicated, there could be revisions made to the nuclear deal—certainly not revisions to ease Iran’s economic burdens.

Iran’s moderates have also lost their greatest supporter, former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who died in January. Rouhani is now their most visible spokesman in Iran—and his leadership is in question. Add to that Trump’s new, bold approach toward Iran. This means Rouhani, along with the moderate Iranian camp, is facing an uphill battle.

Trump’s Presence Could Hasten an Anti-Trump

Iran’s hard-liners are already saying that Rouhani is too hesitant to condemn or stand up to Mr. Trump.

They want a counterbalancing president—one who talks as tough as Trump, not a “moderate.” This means the current president needs to stand up to Trump, or he risks looking emasculated.

As Time magazine noted:

Now, he’s trapped between a rock and a hard place. His foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has promised reciprocal measures, but should Rouhani do so too harshly, he runs the risk of Trump moving to nullify his most significant achievement in office.

Hard-liners are already saying that Mr. Rouhani was “the right answer in the Obama era but the wrong one now,” as the New York Times put it. “Many expect the next president to be a far more combative figure, in the mold of the former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

The hard-liners make a good point. During the Obama presidency a “moderate” Rouhani was ideal. His approach duped the West and allowed Iran to grow to unseen power. (Read our article “Iran Is More Powerful Than Ever” for more on Iran’s development.) Now that Iran is strong and invested across the region, a non-”moderate” leader is needed to hold those gains in the face of pressure from the White House.

Enough pressure from America could break the Iranian regime. But it’s already clear that although Mr. Trump will be stronger than his predecessor, he won’t be strong enough.

The U.S. administration has been quick to point out the costly nature of war in the Middle East and how Trump plans to focus more on America and the strengthening of America’s economy. War with the Iranians—the only thing that will really stop them—is not on the cards. In fact, if Mr. Trump wants to withdraw from the Middle East, he may end up relying on Iranian proxies and allies to keep the—very temporary—peace.

Iran WILL Go Nuclear

The National Interest continues to describe Rouhani’s predicament this way:

The ultimate victim of Iran’s missed economic opportunity isn’t the investors who had hoped for a bonanza, and might not even be Rouhani if he survives reelection, but the idea that Iran can solve its disagreements with the U.S. by compromise instead of confrontation.”

It would be all the proof Iran’s leadership would need to argue that force must be met with force. That means ditching the “moderate” façade that has been upheld throughout Rouhani’s first term.

The New York Times suggested, hard-liners, and perhaps Khamenei, will look instead for a more “combative figure.” Perhaps Rouhani will show his true colors and fulfill that role, perhaps not. One thing is certain though: A soft, diplomatic Iran is not coming anytime soon.

Over 2,500 years ago, God inspired the Prophet Daniel to write: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over” (Daniel 11:40).

You can prove from your Bible that “the king of the south” is modern-day radical Islam led by Iran. If you haven’t already, request our free, recently updated booklet, The King of the South. It will explain how Iran will fulfill this prophecy.

Note that the U.S. isn’t even mentioned in this prophecy. As the Trumpet has forecast, America will be too preoccupied or too weak to even factor into the equation when Iran clashes with a northern superpower.

In his booklet, Mr. Flurry points to several scriptures identifying Iran as this king of the south. He also shows how events in our day today point to Iran being on the cusp of acquiring nuclear weapons.

While prophecy does not tell us precisely who will rule Iran during this time, we do know the mindset its leaders will have. It will not be one—as many hope for—of moderation. Whether Rouhani goes more hard-line, or whether he loses in the upcoming election to a stronger figure, one thing is certain: Iran is going to become even more radical and more pushy in its foreign policy.

To learn more about America’s demise and the rise of radical Islam, as well as the hope beyond, request your free copy of The King of the South.

Russia’s Putin Provoking West, Testing Mr. Trump

Russia’s Putin Provoking West, Testing Mr. Trump

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

How will the previously pro-Russian president respond?

President Vladimir Putin’s Russia had a busy week of provocations against the West, buzzing an American vessel, violating a key nuclear arms treaty, sending a spy ship near a United States military base, and doubling down on its claims to Crimea.

Taken together, these moves show an emboldened Russia that is increasingly provocative. The behavior presents a test and a challenge to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Provoking Porter

On Tuesday, the U.S. military’s European Command confirmed that four Russian fighter jets had buzzed the Navy destroyer ussPorter in the Black Sea on February 10. Officials said the guided missile destroyer experienced three “unsafe and unprofessional” encounters with the Russian jets.

The aircraft’s transponders were switched off, and pilots did not respond when the Porter’s crew hailed them via radio. “These incidents are always concerning, because they could result in miscalculation or accident,” said Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez.

One of them flew within 200 yards of the U.S. destroyer, marking the first such Russian military provocation since Mr. Trump became president.

Treaty Be Hanged

Also, it was reported on Tuesday that Russia has deployed two battalions of its new ssc-8 ground-launched cruise missile. The deployment of the nuclear-tipped missile marked a stark violation of a milestone Cold War-era treaty that forbids the U.S. and Russia from fielding land-based, intermediate-range nuclear missile systems.

Before President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (inf) Treaty, such weapons as the Soviet ss-20 and the American Pershing ii cast a dark shadow over Europe. These systems were mobile, highly accurate, and capable of being hidden and quickly redeployed. Some had the ability to fly nap-of-the-earth, keeping beneath enemy radar coverage, and to fire multiple independently targetable nuclear warheads on cities—all within just a few minutes.

In a deterrence environment, such systems are inherently destabilizing. So Reagan and Gorbachev agreed to dismantle them and ban future development of such systems.

But Putin does not agree with Gorbachev’s decision to sign the inf any more than he agreed with the decision of his other predecessor, Nikita Khrushchev, to give the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine. So, as with the Crimean decision, Putin reversed it.

Back in 2014, when Russia first tested the ssc-8, the Obama administration decried the development. “The Obama administration had sought to persuade the Russians to correct the violation while the missile was still in the test phase,” the New York Times wrote on Tuesday.

But rather than heed these calls from Washington, the Russians denied that they were violating the inf Treaty and forged ahead with the nuclear missile system.

Now the ssc-8 is not just fully operational, it has been deployed.

Jeffrey Lewis, a director at the Middlebury Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies summed up the development, saying, “Old Soviet patterns are reemerging.”

Skimming the Edge of U.S. Waters

The next morning, the Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov was spotted 30 miles off the coast near Groton, Connecticut, where Naval Submarine Base New London hosts the United States Navy’s attack submarine fleet.

Though the missile-armed vessel remained in international waters, it was the closest it has ever traveled along the United States’ eastern seaboard, and the furthest north.

Cry-Me-a River

Also on Wednesday, Russia defiantly affirmed that it will never return Crimea to Ukraine or discuss the issue with foreign powers. The statement came after the White House unexpectedly said President Trump expects Moscow to hand the annexed territory back over to Ukraine.

This was a position Mr. Trump had not previously taken, and the Russians responded to the statement with the scorn that Kremlin-watchers expected. “We don’t give back our own territory,” said a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry. “Crimea is territory belonging to the Russian Federation.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “The theme of returning Crimea will not be discussed. … Russia does not discuss its territorial integrity with foreign partners.”

Timing and Testing

This uptick in Russian provocations comes as President Trump’s top security adviser, Michael Flynn, left his post on Monday. His ouster came after U.S. intelligence operatives internally leaked an edited version of a telephone conversation Flynn had in December 2016 with a Russian diplomat. The leak was a felony violation of federal law, and though Flynn denies any wrongdoing during the call, it resulted in him resigning after less than four weeks on the job. Flynn’s failure to accurately disclose details of the call to the Trump administration likely also contributed to his ouster.

Though some of Russia’s provocations came before the Flynn ouster, they intensified considerably after it. This intensification was likely intentional. Flynn was far and away the most pro-Russian member of Trump’s advisers. Some view his ouster as a worrying indication of the anti-Russian U.S. intelligence community’s political power.

Robert Parry of wrote:

Flynn’s real “offense” appears to be that he favors détente with Russia rather than escalation of a new and dangerous Cold War. Trump’s idea of a rapprochement with Moscow—and a search for areas of cooperation and compromise—has been driving Official Washington’s foreign policy establishment crazy for months and the neocons, in particular, have been determined to block it. …
Flynn’s resignation and its acceptance by Trump also prove that these tactics work and that “tough-guy” Trump is not immune to them. …The so-called permanent government of Washington and its complicit mainstream media—what some call the Deep State—have taught Trump a lesson and have learned a lesson, too.

Writing for Bloomberg View, Eli Lake noted:

Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the fbi [Federal Bureau of Investigation] or nsa [National Security Agency] gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do. …In the end, it was Trump’s decision to cut Flynn loose. In doing this, he caved in to his political and bureaucratic opposition.

It is possible that after Flynn’s departure, Moscow determined that, despite what Mr. Trump’s personal views toward Russia may be, his administration is not capable of overpowering the anti-Russian Deep State in order to broker a détente with Moscow. So the Flynn ouster may have prompted the Russians to essentially give up on the prospect of improving their ties with America.

Charles Maynes, an independent journalist in Moscow, told the Takeaway on Thursday that the Russian media is reporting on the ouster of Flynn as a loss for Moscow. “Generally speaking, there’s a sense that General Flynn was an ally,” Maynes said. “He was someone within the Trump camp that was pushing for better relations with Russia …. So I think there’s a sense that they lost one of their own.”

Whether or not that belief was part of Russia’s calculus, the increasingly provocative behavior presents a formidable test to Mr. Trump. Will he let these provocations go unchecked as the Obama administration generally did? Or will he scrap his previously stated hopes of a U.S.-Russian détente and take some measure of action against them? If so, what might that action be?

In any case, the future for U.S.-Russia relations looks uncertain, and the provocative behavior from Russia appears ready to further increase.

To understand why such behavior from Vladimir Putin’s Russia is profoundly significant and to see where it will lead in the months and years ahead, watch Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s recent Key of David episode “The Prophesied Prince of Russia.”

Iran Names Alleged War Criminal as New Ambassador to Iraq

Iran Names Alleged War Criminal as New Ambassador to Iraq

Creative Commons/Reza Dehshiri

Iraj Masjedi is the latest indication of how Iran is dominating Iraq.

Iran officially named Brig. Gen. Iraj Masjedi as its new ambassador to Iraq, Al Monitor reported on February 13. The choice of Masjedi to the post is raising concerns inside Iraq that Iran plans to strengthen its grip over the nation after the Islamic State is defeated.

Masjedi is an adviser to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (irgc) Quds Force Cmdr. Qassem Soleimani, a man who reports directly to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Since Saddam Hussein’s regime ended with the United States invasion of Iraq, Iran’s three ambassadors to Iraq have all come from the ranks of the irgc. Some observers say Mesejedi is the most hard-line of them all and quite possibly a war criminal. Soon after his appointment was announced a member of Iraq’s parliament reluctantly called the foreign ministry to discover the truth to the claim.

More important than whether Mesjedi has committed war crimes, however, is what his placement reveals about Iran’s future plans for Iraq.

According to Amir Toumaj from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:

Masjedi’s military background provides insight into Iran’s designs for Iraq. During the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88), he established his credentials at the Ramezan Base, where he coordinated special operations behind enemy lines and worked with Iraqi insurgents. A number of these Iraqi insurgents have risen to key positions in the post-Saddam era. During the U.S. occupation, Masjedi was involved in directing Quds Force operations against U.S. and coalition forces—operations that killed at least 500 U.S. troops. Masjedi vowed last year that Iran would fight in Iraq and Syria until the last “takfiri” fighters are killed, and last month praised the pmf [Popular Mobilization Forces] as the “irgc’s next step.”

The former governor of Iraq’s Nineveh province, Atheel al-Nujaifi, analyzed Iran’s decision this way:

There is no doubt that appointing Masjedi, who is a top adviser to commander Qassem Soleimani, as an ambassador to Iraq has implications that go beyond the diplomatic scope of work.Masjedi’s military experience and ties with the armed factions in Iraq and Syria will affect the type of relations he holds in Iraq as well as the relations between the two countries, at a time the region is getting ready to start a new chapter in the post-Islamic State period.

That new chapter, as described often by the Trumpet, is the gradual transformation of Iraq from an autonomous and independent state into a virtual proxy of Iran. This process has been achieved through the Iraqi governments reliance on Shiite militias in the fight against the Islamic State. A Toumaj wrote:

After the Iraqi army disintegrated in the wake of the Islamic State’s conquests, the Quds Force and irgc-backed militias stepped in to fill the void. The latter joined the Popular Mobilization Forces (pmf), the umbrella organization of Iraqi militias formed following the 2014 fatwa of the Iraqi-Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to drive the Islamic State from the country. irgc-backed militias now dominate the pmf. In November 2016, the Iraqi parliament officially incorporated the pmf into the Iraqi state, making it a legal military force separate from the national armed forces.

With close to 100,000 fighters, the pmf is the largest amalgamation of the numerous Shiite militias used in the fight against the Islamic State. While it is mainly comprised of Iraqi nationals, the pmf leadership takes orders from Iran. It follows that since the pmf is now officially part of the Iraqi security establishment, Iran has virtual control one of the largest ground forces inside Iraq.

By making Masjedi its ambassador to Iraq, Iran is looking to further solidify its control over the pmf once the Islamic State is fully defeated. Toumaj concluded:

Masjedi will work to ensure that the irgc-backed network of politicians and entities emerges victorious in post-Islamic State Iraq. The incoming U.S. administration should prioritize supporting Iraqis who seek a brighter future over those aligned with the dictatorship next door.

However, according to biblical prophecy, the United States government will not be able to reverse Iraq’s fall to Iran. In 1994, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry asked “Is Iraq About to Fall to Iran?” He made this forecast based on Bible prophecy during the years where Saddam Hussein, the leader of Iraq, was the most powerful man in the region. Since that time, Iraq has seen an invasion by almost half a million American troops, the fall of Hussein, the evacuation of the Americans, and the scourge of the Islamic State. And through it all, the Trumpet continued to boldly claim that Iraq would indeed fall to Iran. Now that America has largely left Iraq, and the Islamic State is almost defeated, we are very close to complete fulfillment of that prophecy. How soon will it be before we can write the headline “Iraq Has Fallen to Iran”?

America’s Ultimatum to NATO and the Coming Eurozone Crisis

America’s Ultimatum to NATO and the Coming Eurozone Crisis

Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Listen to the Trumpet Daily radio program that aired on Feb. 16, 2017.

In a closed-door meeting with nato allies yesterday in Brussels, American Defense Secretary James Mattis said that American taxpayers would no longer “carry a disproportionate share of the defense of Western values.” Germany’s defense minister agreed with America’s demand that other nations share the burden and is promising to increase military spending. These shifts mark the dramatic reversal of 70 years of United States policy toward Germany. America has gone from foreign policy aimed at keeping Germany down militarily to now encouraging it to remilitarize! Stephen Flurry discusses the latest on this topic, along with other stories on today’s Trumpet Daily Radio Show.

Listen to or download Trumpet Daily Radio Show on:

America Is Pushing Germany to Become ‘the Leading Military Power in Europe’

America Is Pushing Germany to Become ‘the Leading Military Power in Europe’

Brigitte N. Brantley/Flickr

Europe doing more means Germany doing more.

United States Defense Secretary James Mattis gave European nations a blunt ultimatum at a meeting of nato defense ministers on Wednesday: Spend more, or lose U.S. support.

“No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of Western values,” he said. “Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do.”

“America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense,” he warned.

His statements echo warnings that U.S. President Donald Trump made throughout his campaign. But for European capitals, hearing these warnings from Mattis is significant. They had hoped that Mr. Mattis—a strong supporter of nato—would change Mr. Trump’s mind.

Mattis said that ministers need to set firm dates for European nations to meet the nato target level of defense spending—2 percent of economic output. Thus far, this target has been a vague commitment that almost all European nato members have failed to meet.

These calls for nato to do more, however, boil down to one thing: Germany stepping up. Fabrice Pothier explained this in an article published by Politico on Wednesday titled “nato Survival Will Depend on Germany.”

With Europe’s largest gdp [gross domestic product] and by far its strongest economy, Germany is the swing state in European defense. If Berlin commits to spending the recommended 2 percent of gdp on defense, it would add $30 billion of defense spending in Europe—a large share of the $100 billion surplus that would be generated if all European members and Canada met their targets. The move would significantly boost European defense.

Pothier explains that other nations will find it very hard to step up:

Other important European players—such as Italy, Spain and the Netherlands—are either too small or too economically weak to have much of an effect on the European defense balance. In this scenario, Germany’s $30 billion could make all the difference between a stronger Europe or a weaker one.

Thus, it all comes down to Germany—the only nato power in Europe that could turn the Continent’s military power around. However, this raises an important problem.

The question, however, is whether Germany can—or indeed should—become the leading military power in Europe,” writes Pothier (emphasis added throughout).

That is right: Germany becoming the leading military power in Europe is the automatic and inevitable consequence of a boost to European military spending.

But this means big changes for Germany. As Pothier points out, “The German defense ministry has secured some hard-won increases” to its budget, and both the chancellor and finance minister have agreed to the increases. But it still falls far short of what Mr. Trump wants.

Beyond simply the money, Mr. Trump is pushing Germany to transform quite radically. As Pothier writes:

Getting Germany to punch closer to its weight will not be easy. Berlin’s next coalition in the Bundestag will have to break with two powerful dogmas of post-World War ii Germany: a balanced budget and a pacifist mindset.Both ideas are deeply entrenched in Germany’s political culture and institutions.

But change is not impossible:

But should [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel be reelected and commit to greater military spending, it would not be the first time the pragmatic chancellor instigated a radical shift with incremental steps. Just look at her refugee policy or her firm stance against Russia, which clashes with major German industrial interests and coalition partners.Germany’s postwar doctrines are not as intractable as they seem. One of Merkel’s own predecessors, Konrad Adenauer, already partly broke with one when he decided to rearm Western Germany against the advice of many in his own party in the early 1950s.

Mattis comments come as defense leaders and experts around the world gather for the Munich Security Conference, which begins Friday. The paper released ahead of the Munich Security Conference shows European leaders are keen to do more on their defense:

Europe is faced with a wide array of threats, which most experts say can best be tackled through joint European responses. Challenges not only include the ongoing crisis with Russia in the East, protracted wars to the South, or Islamist terrorist attacks in the heart of European cities, but also the uncertainty about the transatlantic security partnership and about the United States’ commitment to European security.Over the past months, this has brought more and more Europeans to recognize the need for a strong European Union. Particularly when it comes to the EU’s role in the world, a clear majority of EU citizens is now calling for greater engagement. If the EU wants to prove to itself and to its skeptics in and outside Europe that it is capable of being a “superpower that believes in multilateralism and in cooperation,” as [EU Foreign Policy Chief] Federica Mogherini recently put it, a common foreign policy strategy backed with sufficient military power is widely seen as a strategic necessity. In many European capitals, this has already triggered a trend reversal in defense expenditures.”

nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that this year will be “the third consecutive year of increased defense spending in Europe.” However, their report focuses more on EU efforts to work together, writing:

In order to improve joint foreign and security policy making, the EU not only presented a new Global Strategy but has also taken a bundle of concrete measures to boost European cooperation in security and defense as part of the EU Security and Defense Package. Other ideas include a European semester on defense, a “Schengen of Defense,” as well as the highly controversial notion of a European Army.”Whether the new momentum will translate into a truly new level of EU cooperation will primarily depend on the member states themselves. … But when, if not now, should Brussels’ clout in the world ever be on top of the menu?

In the short term, working together is probably a lot easier, politically, than spending more. But America will clearly keep pushing for Europe to have a bigger military budget.

American officials seem well aware that pushing Europe to do more means making Germany “the leading military power in Europe.”

“Don’t hide behind your history,” former President Barack Obama has exhorted Germany.

“The world today does not fear a strong Germany,” Der Tagesspiegel recorded Mr. Obama as saying. “It is, rather, disappointed when Germany is too reserved.”

America, said Herbert W. Armstrong, “can only see one enemy at a time, and I want to tell you that the United States has more than one enemy.” It worries about radical Islam and Russia but is blind to the danger of encouraging a strong, united, German-led military power in Europe.

It is not just Herbert W. Armstrong who warned against a militarily powerful united Europe. Renowned geopolitical thinker Nicholas Spykman wrote that “[a] federal Europe would constitute an agglomeration of force that would completely alter our significance as an Atlantic power and greatly weaken our position in the Western Hemisphere.” America’s own foreign-policy experts of previous generations saw the folly in what America is doing. But both the Trump and Obama administrations have been encouraging Germany to do more and spend more.

The Trumpet and the Plain Truth before us have consistently warned about America’s friendship with Germany. For a summary of these warnings, and how they are already coming to pass, read our article “How America’s Friendship With Germany Will End.”

Nuclear Submarines and Hypersonic Missiles: China Is Making Game-Changing Weapons Advances

Nuclear Submarines and Hypersonic Missiles: China Is Making Game-Changing Weapons Advances

STR/AFP/Getty Images

The United States military could be in “serious trouble” in a face-off against Chinese forces in the South China Sea, according to analyses published this week. China’s People’s Liberation Army (pla) is making massive gains in its development of two key areas of advanced weaponry: Nuclear submarines and hypersonic missiles.

Alongside these advances, the pla is demonstrating ever more willingness and resolve to use its military might. Analysts believe these factors could eventually tip the scales of a regional conflict in Beijing’s favor.

The Interest discussed the pla’s nuclear submarines on February 13, writing:

Is China’s new Type 093B nuclear-powered attack submarine on par with the U.S. Navy’s Improved Los Angeles-class boats? At least some U.S. naval analysts believe so and contend that the introduction of the new People’s Liberation Army Navy (plan) submarines is an indication of just how quickly Beijing is catching up to the West.

Former U.S. Navy Captain Jerry Hendrix, now a director at the Center for a New American Security, is among such analysts. “The 93B is analogous to our LA improved in quietness and their appearance demonstrates that China is learning quickly about how to build a modern fast attack boat,” he said.

The U.S. Navy has attack submarines such as the Virginia and Seawolf-class vessels that are more advanced than the Los-Angeles class. But budget constraints mean the LA will remain the mainstay of America’s submarine fleet for several more years.

Quantity is also relevant, as China’s submarine technology advances come at a time when the U.S. Navy has 52 attack submarines, with plans to reduce the number to 41 over the next decade. Meanwhile, China has at least 70 attack submarines, with programs in place to steadily expand the fleet. It is at the confluence of these factors that the possibility of Chinese parity enters the equation.

The National Interest wrote:

If the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s newest boats are able to match the capabilities of the U.S. Navy’s shrinking undersea fleet, Washington could be in serious trouble.[I]f Hendrix’s assessment is correct and future Chinese submarines are only slightly less capable than the Virginia or Seawolf-class vessels, the Navy could be in trouble. The technological edge the U.S. Navy—which is already woefully short on attack boats—is counting on might not be sufficient to counter Chinese numerical superiority.

Also on February 13, the Scout Warrior military analysis firm asked if China is already “in front of the U.S. in developing hypersonic weapons.” The article discusses China’s recent claims of having successfully tested a hypersonic weapon, saying the development “caused concern among Pentagon leaders and threat analysts.”

The U.S. Air Force expects to have usable hypersonic weapons by “sometime in the 2020s,” the Warrior noted. If China’s claims of having already conducted a successful test are true, this could represent a considerable lag in U.S. progress relative to China’s, and in a vital military realm.

The Scout Warrior explained the specific reasons why this apparent lag is such a cause of concern:

[S]hould China possess long-range, high-speed hypersonic weapons, it could dramatically impact circumstances known in Pentagon circles and anti-access/area denial. This phenomenon, referred to at A2/AD, involves instances wherein potential adversaries use long-range sensors and precision weaponry to deny the U.S. any ability to operate in the vicinity of some strategically significant areas such as closer to an enemy coastline. Hypersonic weapons could hold slower-moving Navy aircraft carriers at much greater risk, for example.

Meanwhile, the International Institute for Strategic Studies report released on February 14 said experts have recorded “real and important” increases in the pla’s activity at sea, and in air and missile forces. Chinese weapons technology is at “near-parity” with Western powers, the London-based think tank said. Given the advances of the pla, Western dominance “can no longer be taken for granted,” said John Chipman, director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

In July 2016, before China’s recent advances in nuclear submarines, hypersonic missile and other avenues were nearly as apparent, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said China’s increasingly militaristic direction, especially in the South China Sea, is “steering the world toward war,” writing:

Now that U.S. military presence in the area has been drastically reduced, China is claiming the entire South China Sea as its own!America’s enemies are securing shipping lanes and creating economic alliances that will very soon enable them to choke off America’s supply lines. … Everything is headed in the direction of war.

China’s military advancements are of great geostrategic significance, with implications for people of all nations. To understand why these developments mean “everything is headed in the direction of war,” read Mr. Flurry’s article “China Is Steering the World Toward War.”