A republic no more
Gone are the statesmen and women with backbone and a firm belief in liberty and freedom. We are sadly left with self-aggrandizing, affirmative action, socialist buffoons to guide us through the approaching storms.
Chased off by dragon
More and more Filipino fishermen are complaining to their government that Chinese coast guard ships are chasing them away from their traditional fishing areas off the Filipino coast, and it is particularly bad at Scarborough Shoal. This is in violation of a deal made last June with the Chinese.
Russian authorities admitted that recent negotiations with Iran to persuade the Iranians to halt their nuclear weapons program failed.
If there were another war in Korea, the mutual defense treaty with the U.S. would allow America to use Filipino bases to support American forces in Korea or U.S. troops headed there. The Philippines want more commitment from the U.S. for support against growing Chinese aggression and the Chinese know that as long as they do not commit an obvious act of war, they can push the Filipinos around without the risk of American military intervention.
Aiding their brethren
Al Qaeda in Iraq has merged with several of the largest Islamic terror groups fighting in Syria. The Iraqi terrorists admit that they played a role in forming Syrian Sunni Arab terror groups with a grand plan of having Syrian Sunni Arabs take control of Syria — which most Syrian Sunnis oppose — and then aid their Iraqi brethren to restore Sunni Arab power to Iraq. That effort could get very messy.
Islamic terror groups in the Caucasus announced that they had nothing to do with the two Chechens who carried out the Boston Marathon terror attack in April. Islamic terrorists in the Caucasus concentrate on attacking Russia, although individual terrorists from the Caucasus have shown up in many other areas, Pakistan and Syria in particular.
The U.S. Navy believes that China has already begun deploying the DF-21D ballistic missile, which was designed for use against the U.S. Navy, particularly aircraft carriers. In response, the Americans are developing defenses and countermeasures against it; details of this effort are, for obvious reasons, kept secret.
The U.S. is providing more aid for refugees and, less openly, increasing training and intelligence support for rebels it considers “safe,” meaning those who are not Islamic terrorists. The U.S. recognizes that the rebels are simultaneously fighting to overthrow the Assad government while also preparing for the civil war that will take place when the rebellion is over. Western nations don’t want Islamic terror groups to gain control over any part of Syria, allowing it to remain another terrorist sanctuary. Syria has always been an Islamic terrorist sanctuary, as was Iraq before Saddam Hussein was overthrown.
If it looks like a duck
“From the attack at Fort Hood to the tragedy at Benghazi, the Boston bombings are our most recent reminder that we must call terrorism really for what it is in order to confront it. You cannot defeat an enemy you refuse to acknowledge.” — Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman, House Homeland Security Committee, 9 May 2013
The Egyptian government has many problems, like a growing economic recession triggered by the revolution two years ago, plus the increased violence between Islamic conservatives and Egyptian Christians. Oh, and then there’s Egypt’s support of Hamas in Gaza, which then turned to anger when Gaza-based Islamic terrorists made attacks against Egyptians. Needless to say, things are tense between Egypt and Hamas.
Payback for humiliation
China has turned the “Century of Humiliation” — the period in which China was humiliated by Western powers and Japan — into a powerful weapon. Since 1949, any Chinese politician could gain instant popularity by delivering a little payback for their humiliation. Given that the corrupt communist government of China is quite unpopular, senior officials know they can do something about that, at least until the next corruption scandal featuring one of their peers, by scoring some points against any of the humiliation heavies. Actually, any Western nation will do, but the U.S. is the best target. America is the sole world superpower at the moment, so it has to be portrayed as enemy No. 1 for China.
Russia is given a pass because it is still in China’s interest for Russia to be seen as an ally, not a long-time oppressor. The most prominent local bad guy is Japan, which humiliated China for over half a century, but all of China’s neighbors are guilty of at least some disrespect during the “Century of Humiliation” and must be punished. At least that’s a widespread attitude in China and always good for a rousing media event on a slow news day.
Paranoid police state
Russia reinstated the Soviet-era “Hero of Labor” award. Russia has also implemented new restrictions on the Internet and is continuing to arrest and intimidate those who demonstrate against the return of police-state methods.
Don’t threaten us
After a year of haggling over terms, Russia has agreed to remain in the Soviet-era Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Russia threatened to cut launches at Baikonur from 75% to 10% by the end of the decade because Kazakhstan demanded more money and threatened to shut down Baikonur if the Russians did not pay. Russia currently pays $115 million a year to Kazakhstan for the use the cosmodrome — a facility that costs $50 million a year to maintain. Many Kazakhs saw Baikonur as an ATM, and they could make a withdrawal and the Russians would be forced to pay. The Russians convinced the Kazakhs that their plans to leave were real, having already moved military launches to the smaller Plesetsk Cosmodrome.
A show of force
The Russian Navy held several days of training exercises in the Caspian Sea involving some 20 patrol boats, larger warships and support vessels. This was not only to improve skills, but also to send Iran a message that Russia was still the primary naval power in the Caspian. This message was also to calm Russian ally Azerbaijan, which Iranian officials recently announced ought to be annexed by Iran.
The U.S. lifted some sanctions on Myanmar (Burma) because the government replaced some hard line generals with lesser ones. The problem is that all these senior army officers stick together and the new democracy initiative is seen by many as an army scheme to get out from under all the sanctions and revive the economy while, at the same time, not threaten the wealth and power the army leaders have built up over the last half century.
Japanese law amended
Japan will now allow its merchant ships to carry armed guards. Noting that nearly 40% of ships passing through Somali waters now carry armed guards and that this has helped halt pirates from seizing ships, Japan amended its laws to allow the armed security personnel on Japanese-flagged ships which account for about 9% of those off the Somalia coast.
You’re not welcome
Despite growing international pressure, the Russian government is not backing off on enforcing its new laws meant to shut down or curb the activities of foreign NGOs. The government has carried out raids, referred to as inspections, on hundreds of the 2,000 NGOs in Russia checking their financial records and reminding them that they are not welcome. The government is angry that the NGOs and Russian pro-reform groups publicize corruption among pro-government politicians and senior officials, and so last year enacted new laws that declared foreigners NGO workers as “foreign agents” who must register with the government and be subject to taxation and constant supervision.
The biggest culprit
A worldwide survey of Internet-based hacking attacks discovered that about a fifth of them are directed at stealing data. That’s espionage and over 90% of these attacks are from China. Most of the criminal Internet activity is still all about making money via spam or outright theft.
South Korea and China have established a hotline to handle any crisis in North Korea that would require action by the two countries. Despite the huge cost of unification to South Koreans, the idea of uniting the two Koreas is still popular in South Korea. China has reservations about this and the South Koreans have been trying to work out an understanding to get China to approve unification.
The killing continues…
Terrorism related deaths in Iraq jumped to a record 450 in March, a big jump from February, when 136 died, and January with 177 deaths. The spike was the terrorist’s way of reminding everyone that it has been 10 years since an American-led coalition invaded and removed Saddam Hussein and his Sunni dictatorship from power, ending centuries of Sunni dominance. It also put a lot of Sunnis out of work and into poverty, but, at the time, Sunnis comprised 20% of the population and grabbed most of the oil income. The Sunnis haven’t accepted this change and, over the last decade, have been responsible for over 100,000, mostly Shia, Iraqi deaths.
Bowing to pressure
Bowing to foreign pressure, Iraq has agreed to make more inspections of Iranian aircraft and trucks crossing Iraq to reach Syria. This is not expected to halt Iranian weapons shipments to Syria, but Iraq does acknowledge where its loyalties should lie.
New trade agreement
In the wake of a new trade agreement, the Canadian government has agreed to sell military equipment to Colombia. In the past Canada has refused to sell military equipment because much of the violence in Colombia was politically unacceptable in Canada.
North Korea is buzzing with talk of the 14 April collapse of a large mosaic wall honoring Kim Il Sung in Musan. The mosaic came down because some of the construction materials were sold off, compromising the wall’s strength; when a strong enough wind came along, the wall came down. There are 35,000 sacred statues of and monuments to the Great Leader and the Dear Leader. This is the first time a monument was subject to obvious corruption and it is a big deal that corrupt officials now consider these monuments fair game. For true believers in the North Korean leadership, this is a shocking event; for most North Koreans, however, it is kind of expected.
Diplomatic relations restored
Egypt has restored diplomatic and economic relations with Iran after 30 years, something that alarms other Arab states, as well as many Egyptians. Many Islamic conservatives who currently dominate the government see Iran as a bunch of anti-Arab heretics because most Iranians are Shia Muslims and either Indo-Europeans or Turks.
North Korea stated that it won’t even start negotiations to defuse tensions until the world lifted all sanctions imposed on them. The rest of the world told North Korea that sanctions won’t be lifted until they stop its nuclear weapons development program.
Palestinians are encouraged by a report that anti-Semitic violence increased 30% in 2012, compared to declines in previous years. The Palestinian effort to demonize Israel and convince many nations that Palestinians are victims of Israeli oppression is meant to eventually result in economic and other sanctions against Israel by Western nations. Anti-Semitic activity in the West is an indicator that there is growing hostility toward Jews and Israel. One problem with this Palestinian tactic is that more Western politicians and donors are becoming aware of the decades-old internal propaganda campaign that calls for the destruction of Israel, not a peace deal. Palestinian leaders are having a hard time explaining this double-dealing.
Aid distribution halted
The UN halted distribution of food and other aid in Gaza after one of its compounds was raided by dozens of Gazans who were angry that their aid had been cut. The UN is having more difficultly finding donors in the face of Hamas’ unwillingness to make peace and their continued attacks on Israel from Gaza.
Shift in power
North Korean troops have been seen building fortifications near border crossings. This is unusual because for decades it was assumed any war between North and South would begin with a North Korean invasion of the South. The new fortifications indicate that the North is recognizing the power balance shift and that it is more likely South Korean troops will be moving North if it comes to war.
Obstinate to the end
The U.S. has told North Korea that it will only resume food aid if they will allow American officials to monitor the distribution. Food aid was halted in 2009 when North Korea expelled these observers. North Korea had been selling food aid to raise cash for imports and they cannot do this if observers are present; the U.S. refuses to back off on this policy.
Iran, North Korea and Syria were the only UN nations to vote against a new treaty to make it illegal to sell weapons to nations or groups the UN had declared as someone weapons should not be sold to. Blocking the treaty is mostly a feel-good effort because many nations have to get their legislatures or courts to approve of the treaty and, even if the treaty goes into force, the fine print provides many opportunities to get around it. Iran, North Korea and Syria oppose it because they see stuff like this as part of an international plot against them.
The noose tightens
Iran’s state-controlled media has played down the recession caused by another round of new sanctions. However, oil income has been cut in half and efforts to deal with that have only been partially successful. The cost of living has gone up, often way up, for most Iranians, something the government tries to overlook. Inflation is over 30% and unemployment is over 20%, with both numbers rising. The government is desperately seeking ways to prevent this from turning into disorder.
North Korea demanded official recognition as a country equipped with nuclear weapons. The U.S., and most of the rest of the world, dismissed that claim out of hand. As far as anyone can tell, North Korean nuclear weapons are crude and, for all practical purposes, have not completed development into real weapons. At the same time, North Korea has denounced a treaty it signed in 2005 where it agreed to halt nuclear weapons development in return for economic aid. The North Koreans apparently never intended to abide by that deal and now say they won’t ever give up their nukes.
North Korea threatened to retaliate militarily against South Korea if the South Korean government did not ban anti-North Korean demonstrations. This threat led to more anti-North Korea demonstrations and no reaction from South Korean officials.
Opposes NK support
Deng Yuwen, an editor for a prominent Chinese Communist Party publication, revealed that he had been suspended for publicly criticizing continued Chinese support for North Korea in a February article for a British publication. This sort of thing is allowed when the government wants divisive issues to get some exposure and debate, but, in this case, the Foreign Ministry and their allies got very angry and Deng got slapped, though not completely silenced. This indicates that the opposition to continued support for North Korea is still growing within the Chinese government.
Yeah, so what?
Despite a 2004 promise not to sell any more nuclear reactors to Pakistan, China admitted that it had made a secret deal to sell Pakistan another reactor. The U.S. found out and accused China of violating an international anti-nuclear proliferation ban and reneging on its 2004 promise. The deal was made in February.
India, China and Russia have agreed to work together to track and deal with Islamic terrorism. Recent meetings have concentrated on the Taliban and possible Taliban expansion after nearly all NATO forces leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. While China is an ally and main arms supplier for Pakistan, it is recognized that the Pakistani military still supports many Islamic terror groups.
The U.S. reminded everyone, especially North Korea, that its support for South Korea includes the use, if necessary, of nuclear weapons.
Still on duty
The USAF has increased to 1,018 the number of F-16s it wants to refurbish. In 2012 the plan was to refurbish a few hundred of its 22-ton F-16 fighters because their replacement, the 31-ton F-35 would not arrive in time. So far 11 F-35s have been built, with another 19 to be built this year; however the pace is too slow to deal with number of F-16s that are growing too old to fly. The UASF also is refurbishing 175 F-15C interceptors since it may take a decade or more for F-35 production to get to the point where most F-16s can be replaced. Until then the F-16s must be ready to get the jobs done.
One of the curious after-effects of the Boston Marathon bombings was the number of terrorist organizations that declared they were not responsible. These disclaimers were done out of fear, because the American tactics of using powerful intelligence collecting and analyzing tools with the ability to then attack specific terrorists with a laser-guided missile has made the terrorist leadership very afraid. This is not just paranoia but recognition of the growing list of terrorist leaders who have been killed in this way. All this literally terrorizes those leaders who are still out there.
The U.S. military award for combat wounds, the Purple Heart, is the center of a controversy between politicians trying to play down Islamic radicalism and military leaders who want recognition for American troops killed or wounded by Islamic terrorism. Victims of domestic terrorism can receive the Purple Heart; however, the government refuses to categorize 2009 Ft. Hood attack as a terrorist action. In that incident Major Nidal Hassan, a Moslem U.S. Army officer, shot and killed 13 people all the while yelling “Allahu Akbar.” It turns out Hasan had a long history of Islamic radicalism, which his army superiors ignored. Now, in an apparent effort to not offend Muslims, the U.S. government refuses to designate this as terrorism, thus denying his victims the Purple Heart, instead, they are calling it workplace violence.
Training for war
The Chinese Navy announced that its recent aggressive training operations in the South China Sea were only the beginning of an expanded training program. The Navy plans to carry out more than 40 more large-scale training exercises this year in the South China Sea and beyond. It also appears that China will, after decades of trying to build a reliable SSBN, finally send one of these boats on a patrol.
It’s all down hill
Pakistan is a young country with 46% of the population aged 15-29. Some 30% of voters are in this age group, as well as most Islamic terrorists. An opinion survey of those between 18 and 29 years old found that 94% believed the country was going in the wrong direction, which explains why 69% have a negative view of political parties, 71% take a dim view of the government and 67% of parliament — all these institutions have long been viewed as corrupt and ineffective. Favorable institutions included the military (77%) and religious institutions (74%). Only 28% see democracy as the best form of government for Pakistan, with 32% favoring military rule and 38% a religious dictatorship.
The lunatic regime
More than ever before, the U.S. is working with China to handle any attack by North Korea in an organized fashion. For the first time China is not blindly backing whatever the North Koreans say, though, technically, China is obliged to come the North’s aid if they are attacked by the South or anyone else. The Chinese are unclear of their options, thus the discussions with the U.S., to get clarification of what the U.S. will and will not do. The big issue is who will control North Korea if they start shooting. The South feels they have been backed into a corner and have made it clear that they will shoot back.
Illiteracy is key
There are some common patterns among Islamic terrorists: they tend to be the least educated and often illiterate, least employable and the least intelligent members of their community. While university educated terrorists get a lot of media attention, most ideologically motivated terrorists are poor and illiterate. These deficiencies provide a great motivator to do something desperate in the off chance it might improve ones lot; thus most of the violence in the world occurs in countries with the lowest literacy rates. While the planetary literacy rate is 87%, it’s only 29% in Afghanistan. This is a key factor in keeping radical Islam going in places like Afghanistan, Somalia (24%), Yemen (55%) and Mali (26%). Islamic radicals believe in education, but a special kind of education, which is taught in a madrassa, and stresses memorizing scripture and learning how to hate non-Muslims more effectively.
Tankless in Europe
For the first time in 69 years, there are no American tanks in Europe. On 18 March the U.S. shipped home 22 M-1 tanks, bringing an end to seven decades of American armor in Europe. From 1950-70 NATO tank strength reached its peak, with about 6,000 in service with the U.S. and other NATO units in Europe. Most of those are now gone, either withdrawn or disposed of; today, less than 2,000 remain, none of them American.
Many news items courtesy of strategypage.com & James Dunnigan. All material ©2013, StrategyWorld, Inc.