Asia is Now the Global Geopolitical Center, It’s Time For an Indo-Pacific Charter (Japan Forward)

Two months after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, on August 14, 1941, the heads of government of the United States and the United Kingdom issued the Atlantic Charter, a set of principles that were intended to define the world order after the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.

The principles enshrined in the Atlantic Charter inspired a set of organizations and structures that are still in existence today. On January 1, 1942, the nations fighting the 1939-1945 war together gave a call for what was to become, on October 24, 1945, the United Nations Organization. 

Four years later, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed to deter the Soviet Union from invading and occupying countries in Europe outside the Iron Curtain that laid across the dividing line between Soviet satellite states in Europe and other countries in a continent that had dominated world history for close to six centuries.

Although Winston Churchill, the then-prime minister of the U.K., did not favor giving the freedoms enunciated in the Atlantic Charter to European colonies in Asia and Africa, such a narrow view of human freedom was opposed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt throughout the war years. The torch of liberty that was lit in the minds and hearts of millions in Asia through the Atlantic Charter and the UNO ensured that European colonization was rolled back across the world’s largest continent, ending with the handover of Macau to China by the Portuguese on December 20, 1999.

By then, the balance of geopolitics was shifting from the West to the East, but the organizations and structures weren’t adapting. That same year, India’s first professor of geopolitics enunciated the concept of an “Asian NATO,” a security alliance of countries in Asia determined to resist outside efforts at dominating them. This Asian version of NATO did not find favor with European powers, who were insistent that their own military alliance was sufficient to tilt the balance of forces in Asia, the way they used to during the period of European colonization.

Well after it was clear that Asia was outpacing Europe in the economic and later the technological spheres, they continued to insist on the primacy of the Atlanticist world view, which holds that the Atlantic is still the geopolitical global center of gravity. In fact, by 1999 that honor had returned to Asia.

In the U.S., the powerful Atlanticist lobby sabotaged efforts by a section of the Pentagon to shift Washington’s focus from Europe to Asia. It is an effort that has continued into the Trump administration, where a substantial section of policy makers and the media have teamed up to insist that the Atlantic remain the center of gravity of U.S. foreign and security policy, making it remain Moscow-centric at a time when Beijing has far outstripped that capital in terms of growth and potential for power projection
 Enshrining Freedom and Democracy in Asia
 Rather than assume that Asians are incapable of looking after their own security without European assistance, what is needed is for Asian countries to come together with North America ― a continent that has never sought colonies ― to form an Indo-Pacific Charter on the lines of the Atlantic Charter.

Japan and India are required to lead such an effort, together with the U.S. The Indo-Pacific Charter would call for the protection of existing boundaries across Asia, opposing efforts at changing such a status quo by force. It would call for the elimination of hegemony and dominance of smaller and weaker countries in Asia by more powerful entities. And it would set up a security and defense mechanism for that purpose which would include Japan, India, the U.S., Australia, and Canada besides other like-minded countries.

This organization would jointly defend any member or allied power in Asia against an effort to change the status quo by the use of force. The Indo-Pacific Charter would enshrine the importance of freedom and democracy, and call for all states to ensure that such universal values are protected within their boundaries and not trampled upon.

Such a charter would recognize that the torch has passed from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific, and that for the U.S. in particular, the most significant allies of the future are no longer France and Germany, but Japan and India.

The countries subscribing to the Indo-Pacific Charter would come to the defense of any other country facing a threat to its sovereignty by force of arms. It would also safeguard crucial sea and air lanes as global commons across the continent so as to ensure free communication and commerce, unhampered by any hostile force.
 Keeping the Peace
 Such a coming together of great democracies would ensure that a superpower war does not break out in the continent.

Just as war between the U.S. and the USSR was avoided throughout the Cold War, war between China and the U.S. needs to be avoided. This can only happen if a deterrent force is created that will oppose efforts at changing the status quo by force. Peace has been kept in Europe for decades, barring a few smaller and largely internecine conflicts, since 1945.

The task before humanity is to similarly keep the peace in Asia. The time for an Indo-Pacific Charter is now.
 Below are the potential points of an Indo-Pacific Charter update of the Atlantic Charter: 
  1. No territorial gains to be sought by any major power.
  2. No creation of artificial territories in the open seas.
  3. No acquisitions by force or lease of new territories within sovereign nations.
  4. Re-formation of the U.N. Security Council or formation of a new Indo-Pacific Security Council.
  5. Participants will work towards freedom and sovereignty of data.
  6. Participants will work towards a unified approach to using Artificial Intelligence for the good of humanity.
  7. Formation of a Space Security Council.
  8. Participants work together to promote democracy and participatory government.
  9. Nations that are democracies stay as democracies.
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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.