Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 16, 2017

It’s not quite there yet. Korea’s conflict escalates, but there’s still more mount to climb. Trump is increasing weapons sales to South Korea and Japan, based on a September 5 Tweet; North Korea called him a “strangler of peace” and a “war merchant”. Mattis told the Army to “Stand ready”. Hawaii is rehearsing for attacks.

Most of the talk is to get everyone psyched-up plenty of time in advance—soldiers, nations, and peoples. The timing, however, will come at a convergence of defenses being in place and opportunity being open. Then, the US will either strike with “just cause” or “strik-taliate” as it did with Pearl Harbor and the Lusitania.

In the meanwhile, expect the escalation to continue. Expect more Navy strike groups to be directed. Expect the USS Ford to replace the decommissioned USS Enterprise and the USS Reagan to replace the USS Vinson, somewhere in East Asia. Three aircraft carriers, two on their way in and one their way out is certainly a military peak. But, also keep an eye out for a shift in types of Korea-related headlines followed by a quiet from central command. Once the press release statements resemble a ship casting off, that’s what you call a clue. And, we haven’t been clued in quite yet.

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Encore of Revival: America, October 16, 2017

The NFL was a distraction. Some might say it still is. Trump is dismantling the Obama administration’s work piece by piece, but most of the Anti-Trump TV time is focused on the NFL. Many Americans who never cared about politics before spent their Sunday afternoons and Monday nights absorbed in the NFL. It was a “bread and circuses” entertainment model that centered around shoving its head in the sand where politics were concerned. When the NFL allowed their rules and their players to get political, the business violated its DNA and it was only ever going downhill from there.

Since, Americans have gotten more involved. Some have gone more Left, some more Right, but more good people are getting involved. The problem now is anger.

The nation is run by demagoguery and populist fads. Few understand critical thinking. Every idea is presumed to be part of an agenda, even at the coffee shop. Anti-Trumpists are feeling what Trumpists have felt for a long time: They aren’t getting what they want. After a few years, they might realize how much they have in common with the “other guy”. Many do already.

In the short run, America will see more and more hissy fits. But, eventually, they will talk to each other, see the results of policy and the consequences of election, and get their facts sorted out.

Strange as it sounds, American politics owe a great deal of gratitude to the NFL after all.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 9, 2017

Taiwan publicized reports that China was pushing for its dream of reunification through many venues and in many nations. The fact that China works so diligently through aggressive diplomacy further indicates that the “military option” being less than preferable with North Korea carries some continuity with China’s policy concerning Taiwan. That’s not to say it is beyond Beijing to decide to strike Taiwan, only that it would demonstrate that China had exhausted other methods it preferred in its determination.

Military deescalation is not out of character with China. Chinese troops were friendly with the defense minister from India in her recent visit to the disputed area. Late August, China halted building the road that India objected to in a way that saved face for China, but also appeased India for the time. This doesn’t indicate any change of heart nor indicate that China is not relentless, but the Asian culture of “preferring smoothness” in disputes seems to be holding true with non-volatile land on which China hopes to fly its flag.

Trump’s resolve and openness, however, are a contrast to China’s. In his “only one thing will work” comment this week, the US president is not afraid to use a military option to bring peace to a region if that region is arming up and dangerous. If the US wins in a conflict with North Korea, the US flag would not fly as the authority on that soil.

China is preparing for a routine leadership review. Much of the top brass under Xi Jinping will rotate out, but he himself is not set to retire anytime soon. While there may be some changes in temperature, there will be no change in the speed or direction China has been taking.

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Encore of Revival: America, October 9, 2017

One way to reconcile Americans to agree on taxes could be in the so-called “fourth tier”. States, counties, and cities could be allowed to set that rate themselves, keeping half of their rate, but it still be taxed as a federal tax. That could also solve “no deduction for state and local taxes paid”. We’ll see.

Trump has new immigration proposals that could be enough to solve problems for the “Dreamers”. But, Washington likes its gridlock. It just wouldn’t be the same without telling we the people that we have to hate each other because of who is in office.

Both guns and gun laws can become a false sense of security. The big “takeaway” from the Las Vegas Rampage is how Americans are not only irritated with the news media, but are losing respect for celebrities “shooting” their mouths off only because they have an audience. Sometimes, “it” happens. It’s easy to exploit any tragedy to justify one’s own ideals. Las Vegas victims deserve better than to become politicized squabble fodder. Respect demands that those discussions offer freak disasters a moment of silence before resuming.

The NFL is getting back to its own rulebook. That may solve the controversy. Pence didn’t walk out without prior warning or plans. If players kneel to the flag that defines them as “not British”, they can’t object to their Vice President leaving their game.

The genuineness and individual integrity of the players should not be questioned. They just don’t know that disrespect of the flag isn’t activism; it’s a request that a different government to take over. But, when government-funded schools don’t teach that, players can’t be expected to know. Perhaps they could hold a fist over their heart to indicate they are “heartbroken” over the country they love.

There is also the issue of “raising awareness”. Martin Luther King, Jr. brought much progress by “making waves” when the Evangelical community objected to just that. Perhaps this is the only way players feel they have at their disposal to raise awareness about ongoing grievances. That  is understandable. Awareness has, indeed, been raised. Now, NFL rules—that players stand, hold their helmet in their left hands, and refrain from talking—will be enforced even among dissenters. The country can get back to important discussions and the NFL can start playing football, hopefully.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 2, 2017

Things are stepping-up in Korea. The US is gearing up for a “military option”. The question is how China will respond. China’s approach with Taiwan is a contrast of priorities or a strong indication about China’s approach with North Korea. If China won’t take harsh action to stop a nuclear North Korea, then logically China should not be painted as a “hostile villain” over TAO (Taiwan Affairs Office) statements concerning Taiwan.

China has a reputation to defend, which includes normal political posturing. If China were to ignore a nuclear North Korea, but attack Taiwan during a time of no military conflict, that would seem to the world as “inconsistent”. The Taiwan situation hit many headlines this week.

Taiwan’s new Premier William Lai commented this week about “status quo”. He shared his personal opinion at an early stage in his tenure, more or less observing that China and Taiwan behave as if they are already sovereign and that the main two political parties in Taiwan hold a policy that Taiwan has a government with a constitution that considers itself sovereign. Lai’s comments focused on observing “status quo”, added that, personally, he is “pro-independence”, and that he will remain in-step with Taiwan’s President Tsai, regardless of his own career and personal views.

Lai admitted that he should have kept his personal views to himself, but indicated that such transparency of his personal view is part of an ingenuous disclosure when legislators are inquiring about him as recently approved for his public office. Needless to say, China was not pleased. Beijing responded with some simple public statements.

How serious is China about any intent to start a war to reclaim Taiwan? The first sober question would be about preparatory military exit strategy. Arguably, the US has more at stake in Taiwan than in North Korea.

Taiwan has more than a few F-16s, Apache helicopters, and other military and naval assets—all supplied by the US. If China’s government were to exert power over Taiwan, that would change status quo—something Premier William Lai says would require a vote in Taiwan. But, the question few people ask is what to do with all those F-16s, helicopters, and naval assets.

If China truly intended to “go to the mattresses” to change status quo with Taiwan, at the very top of its statement would be a plan to first send all of that military equipment back to the United States, to gut technology from all military installations in Taiwan, and to provide to move nearly all adult men in Taiwan to any country other than China. Adult men in Taiwan serve “compulsory” military time in a military that used US military tech. That means nearly half of Taiwan’s entire adult population would be a security threat if governed by a regime seated in Beijing. They, and their families would need to be relocated. China would be taking control of an empty island with massive infrastructure.

Beijing has presented no such “exit strategy” for US military assets in Taiwan. That does not mean Beijing is not deserving of “respect”—the foremost question on many minds in Beijing. It simply raises questions about how much the “Taiwan question” has been thought through.

Even with all that is happening in North Korea, more security eyes should be turned to how China will deal with Taiwan once North Korea stops making headlines—or more importantly, when North Korea makes far more headlines than it already does.

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