12 December 2016, Washington D.C., US – The New York Times – President-elect Trump finally chose his Secretary of State – former Exxon/Mobile CEO, Rex Tillerson. The question now is whether Congress will confirm the appointment with all the anti-Russian rhetoric being bandied about, fuelled by Obama’s promise to dump on Trump proof that Russian hackers were behind Trump’s ascension. Tillerson, as Exxon/Mobile chief executive, is known for the ease of his relations with the Russians. Pulling the pin on Trump’s ‘legitimacy’ is a dangerous precedent which may well set the scene for America’s political destabilization for years to come.
14 December 2016, Damascus, Syria – The Jerusalem Post – Syrian government forces claimed victory over the besieged rebel enclave within the city of Aleppo. This victory will have great propaganda value for Syrian government supporters, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah – showing to the world what their individual and combined determination, aided by Russian weaponry, can do in a global environment where no Western state or group of states has managed to muster the determination necessary to face up to Russian strategic prowess.
15 December 2016, Manila, Philippines – Independent – in another discourtesy to international civility and the office of Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte claimed to have personally killed drug dealers while mayor of Davao City. No doubt playing to his domestic audience, Duterte’s latest controversy may well see the Philippine leader called to account by his political enemies. Some have even suggested Duterte’s latest comments could be grounds for the president’s impeachment.
16 December 2016, Beijing, PRC – Yahoo News – sensing weakness in the US resolve over its role as the world’s ‘hyper power’, in a provocative act, China captured a maritime drone operated by US Survey ship USNS Bowditch, stationed in the contested waters of the South China Sea. This incident is likely to be one of many as China and the US trade barbs over China’s right to contest US maritime power in the Western Pacific.