Encore of Revival: America, April 10, 2017

Senate Democrats are now making noises about 60-vote cloture being removed for legislation. The cloture rule was removed 55-45 for Supreme Court nominees. Why Democrats have brought up the discussion for removing the cloture rule altogether remains a mystery, unless they expect to use fear as a preventative tactic in 2018. However, once an idea is introduced, even if by fear, the idea is up for valid discussion. Had Democrats hoped to retain cloture for legislation, they should have allowed Republicans to bring it up first. Now, elimination of the cloture rule altogether is inevitable.

The White House is in somewhat of a shakeup. Chief “Strategerist” Steve Bannon is getting shuffled, but no reasons seem to be valid. We may not find out the real reasons for at least two years, once the presses cool off, the stakes aren’t as high, and people aren’t so tight-lipped about inside baseball.

Trump ordered a 59-Tomahawk cruise missile strike on Syria after 80 were killed with nerve gas. The missiles targeted what was thought to be the base for the gas attack. Russia is also on the scene. The nerve gas was banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Putin responded with his usual worldview of nationalist, socialist victimhood. Whatever he and his crew resort to is necessary because of what the West took from them in the zero sum game. Putin is a true Hitler—gentle and endearing as a teddy bear who never raises his voice before his audience, compassionate, polite, never rude, never tough to critique directly, only strong to march behind, and everything he does is excused by what “they did to us”.

Syria’s use of banned chemical weapons could have been a ploy all along, by the Russians and their allies, to draw Trump’s action to justify escalation. Though it may have been bait from the Russian’s view, it might have been brilliant for Trump to tell the world that the US isn’t pantie-whipped anymore and to draw Russia’s attention to the Middle East while the USS Carl Vinson carrier group goes to North Korea.

Nearly 100k jobs were created in March alone, over 200k in February. An accurate presidential poll—Investor’s Business Daily—ranked Trump at 34% approval. Since Trump took office, Americans have only seen two results: a boom in jobs and an onslaught from the news industry. The people haven’t heard much from Trump directly because he is too busy keeping promises, no matter how politically controversial those promises are.

With good and bad news, people’s political opinions haven’t changed; they have only strengthened. And, that strengthening is just now getting started.

Read More

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 23, 2017

No one supports the Trump protests as strongly and loudly as China. They object, threaten, parade, demonstrate, opine, taunt, drill, march, and they do so despite response from America’s “riot police”, in the case of the Pacific, the US Navy. China is also getting closer to Hollywood, to the tune of $1B USD in a Paramount deal. China is reportedly dumping money into its stock market. China has a lot in common with just under half of America. Taiwan, siding with just over half, officially congratulated Trump. As of Friday, Trump had 56% popularity when he took oath, not counting China or Taiwan.

Taiwan is making upgrades. Just after Trump was inaugurated, and about the same time Taiwan officially congratulated him and Pence, Taiwan finalized the purchase of a high-tech military communication system that would, among many things, allow Taiwan’s Navy to communicate directly with the US Navy 7th Fleet’s command center.

Taiwan is also making a deal with Uber, to allow Uber-summoned taxis, just after Taiwan hiked it’s “unlicensed” driver fine to almost $800K USD. Taiwan has fined Uber over $2.3M USD and its drivers over $700K USD. With Taiwan’s new “unlicensed” taxi fine, Taiwan could earn all it has earned on Uber drivers in the past with just a single Uber driver offense. Yes, while Uber gave up on butting-heads with China and China doesn’t give up butting heads with Trump, Taiwan is one of those head-butting Uber. All four of them are still butting heads. It’s definitely been a week of the butt-head convention in “the Chinas”. Read More

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 31, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, October 31, 2016

Chinese President Xi has been hailed with a personality cult akin to support for Chairman Mao, at least in some circles. As if the Xi personality cult wasn’t enough, China also saw a bloodless victory in the Philippines. In an effort to seek their own so-called “independence”, Philippinos’ new choice of a president has thrown-off many ties with the US in exchange for more dependency on China. China still patrols disputed Philippine islands, but fishing boats don’t get harassed any more. It probably makes sense in the Philippines every bit as much as it made sense to France and Italy 80 years ago.

The Pacific resembles pre-WWII Europe with more and more likenesses every week. NPR reported that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will stop swearing as much. That headline probably made sense to NPR, given the situation. As for swearing and the Pacific, Hong Kong, with no military, is putting up the greatest fight against China. Lawmakers “swore” during their swearing-in, contrary to some stipulations that no Hong Kong lawmaker can object to Chinese rule.

The Philippino “switch” was always going to happen. Their desire for “independence from other countries” will eventually drive them to fly China’s flag above their own, just how China’s desire for respect provoked Beijing to provoke the West, just how “America and her interests” drove the US to fly its flag at military posts in countries across the globe thereby frustrating Beijing and Milan.

With Taiwanese public continuing strong objection to Chinese patrol expansionism (75:18%), with Hong Kong (under China) wanting out from China, with the Philippines shifting sides, and with Cambodia cozying up to Beijing, we could see more jersey swapping in the coming months. Japan and South Korea are standing against North Korea on nukes—by cooperating with the US. That coalition could very easily extend to Taiwan, as far as N Korea nukes are concerned. The islanders of Taiwan oppose nuclear “anything”, just like post-Fukushima Japan.

Taiwan also has a close cooperation with the US military, the kind of cooperation the Philippines just renounced. The Pentagon has yet to give an elaborate position on the Philippines’ wave-making. In war, if the Philippines violates any alliance agreements, the Pentagon could declare the Philippines as “rogue” and get the excuse they need to use force. Who knows what would happen then.

China’s “no-objection” policy for HK lawmakers has given Great Britain whatever excuse the Crown needs to anchor the Royal Navy in Hong Kong, much like Queen Victoria did against China via Taiwan. When Southeast Asian Islands start spitting at each other, Hong Kong could could get snatched-up in a Pacific-West coalition. Having no military could be the only reason Hong Kong can court sympathy from the West. Guarded by mountains between the New Territories and Shenzen, Hong Kong would be strategic. The West would then see Hong Kong as the “trump card” while China would come back with the Philippines as the “wild joker”.

The Philippines and Hong Kong don’t seem to have figured out that every island is just another pawn. The Pacific Daily Times Symphony Editorials take no sides, except the side of foresight: It was all predictable.

Read More

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 15, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 15, 2016

While Taiwan accepts yet another slow-delivery weapons deal, one of the slowest to date, China continues to build on the ocean to face off against the United States. It’s pure war strategy, East to West.

The argument goes that China carefully times its strategic “stepping on toes”. The next purported toe will be the site of the next man-made islet, deep within Philippine water and economic defense zone. China, according to reports of anonymous sources, plans that these toe steps occur after G20 and before the US election. This is where Beijing’s miscalculation shows.

Supposedly, during the US election season, Americans will be distracted with Trump v Clinton headlines and won’t have the time to worry about what China does in the Philippine’s back yard pool. However, this overlooks the topics surrounding Trump and Clinton, specifically the long history that both have with China and that opinion about either candidate is largely shaped by China’s actions.

If and when China steps in it in the Philippines, that “when” would serve China’s shrewdness better if postponed until after the election, lest China give American’s the excuse they need to elect the candidate most outspoken against China. Beijing’s timing would be more respected from one adversary to another if the Philippine islet reclaiming began after the US election and before the inauguration—after it’s too late for the American people to change their minds. But, once again, Beijing is likely to demonstrate that, while it has the courage to stand up to the US, it doesn’t have the listening ability to know the very enemies it chooses.

Beijing wants a deal with the Philippines. They know how to make a deal when they want to. What transpires over the coming months will be as foreseeable as it is by choice for all involved.

In times when China wants to dominate the water, Michael Phelps proved otherwise, for the third time in a row.

Read More

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 4, 2016

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, July 4, 2016

We see the psychology of Chinese cultural leadership on full display. China stopped communicating with Taiwan. An accidental firing of a live missile, killing one and injuring two, on a parked Taiwanese naval corvette was judged to indicate a “loose screw” in Taiwan’s military leadership.

The KMT-Nationalists from Mainland China have been managing Taiwan’s military for the last several years. The sailor responsible for the accidental firing was fatigued on the day of an inspection. They didn’t use a two-person firing system; it only took one sailor to fire. The Taiwan incident indicates “Mainlander” leadership, not the leadership of the opposition party that only took power within the last few months. We still don’t know how that new leadership will turn out. But, refusing to capitulate to China’s unilateral definitions is a good indication that Taiwan has strong leadership.

As for the force controlling China’s Mainland, the Communists, they are on trial over their activity in the South Sea. What is their solution? They hold more Naval exercises in the very waters they are being pressed over. Usually when a man is on trial, it is best if he pretends to be weak. While Beijing loudly denies it, actions indicate thoughts that a “show of force” will soften the decision of the international courts—because that works with Chinese courts, just as it works when the KMT did it with courts in Taiwan. However, the West will see China’s navel drill as further inditing evidence—of either excessive force or lack of discretion.

China is making it difficult for even Russia to come to their defense. Taiwan is making it difficult for America to want to give them missiles, unless meaningful changes happen soon, but that’s too soon. Taiwan claims to see the need for changes, but we’ll see. Beijing apparently thinks the opposite and then says opposite of that. The wise should be concerned over any force that doesn’t know his own situation.

By demonstrating the same worldview in both militaries, we can suspect that similar antics and accidentals are already happening in both. But there is another factor: Communication.

By cutting the “communication mechanism” with Taiwan over a unilaterally defined “one China”, China thinks it is making a power move, when actually, it has sabotaged its own intel gathering. More importantly, in the eyes of the watchful West, China proves that it doesn’t mean what it says. By not communicating with Taiwan over the “one China” concept—according to its own “one China” claim—China is not communicating with itself. That means that China never really believed its own “one China” idea in the first place.

Read More