Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 18, 2017

China’s situation is growing more and more similar to North Korea’s. They seek to “match” the US in military strength, but aim to do so without US economics. Without the economics it will be hard to match anything. Slowly, but surely, the US is chipping away at money going into China.

Stocks were up in China, especially recently. Shenzhen is fairing quite well. But, Trump managed to block a Chinese company from buying a US chip maker, Lattice. This is just the beginning, not only for blocked deals both in the US and elsewhere, but also in bad international press against China.

Taiwan isn’t helping. 500 Taiwanese in New York protested the island not being a UN member, claiming that Palestine is not a state, but has a membership. If Taiwan were to join the UN, it would be in the top 25% largest populations. But, pushing these matters will likely have no impact, other than bad press against China.

This week, North Korea launched again, scaring Japanese even more, making it even harder to defend the Kim Dynasty. China doesn’t want to lose a “buffer” that would put a stronger US ally on its border, nor deal with an influx of refugees. But, China may have more than the situation with the US and North Korea to worry about. The dormant volcano on North Korea’s side of the China border has been rumbling.

There’s nothing like a small “act of God” to settle all disputes.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 11, 2017

The North Korean situation makes much more sense when seen from the perspective of a film director performing a social experiment. Film makers, directors, actors, screen writers—they love to do good “real life” research. If one was making a movie simulating culture in a story such as Orwell’s 1984, North Korea would be a perfect laboratory.

Looking at North Korea through this lens, some predictions could be made. What outside forces and events would be necessary to watch a “hermit kingdom” implode?

Another perspective could be from, say, China’s view. China rightly fears that it is surrounded by US allies—Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan… India is a “frenemy” of the US, but more of an “enemi-friend” from China’s view. Then, there is Korea. If the North were provoked to invade the South, that would be “plus one” ally for China and “minus one” ally for the United States, at least on China’s border. “Gain more land to win the war” is an old school strategy from Westpoint, a strategy that Grant had to put aside at Gettysburg.

So, the jockeying in the West Pacific could be more predictable by thinking of international policy for North Korea as Film Maker vs Westpoint China. One set of policies wants the North to be easily provoked into decimating the South to win a land war in Asia. The other set of policies initiates “outside force” to carefully study an implosion of the North—and that includes allowing the North to be provoked, but on a controlled terms.

This week, North Korea made even more threats. So, the theorem of Film Maker vs Westpoint China can be put to the test in weeks to come, watching international policies provoke the North to attack and pressure the North to implode. While that transpires, international support from common folk to see North Korea’s dynasty come to an end only grows, and the international press certainly doesn’t do anything to shift sentiment the other direction.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 4, 2017

Korea’s situation is amplifying. We know this. North Korea is making more threats than ever with it’s “boy king” on the iron clad throne. We know that military options are 1. relevant and 2. undesirable. The Pentagon consistently barks about “military options”, while “economic options” stay on the table—don’t overlook how talk of military bolsters economic action. Rather than reviewing the obvious, consider North Korea through the eyes of the White House—viewing both economics and security—and from the rest of the world.

As the Pentagon, economists, and surrounding nations sees things, not China, but specifically the Communist Party seated in Beijing, is viewed as the “menace of Asia”, venturing into increased trouble with Vietnam, India, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Africa, Europe, and others. North Korea has six months of oil remaining, and China does 90% of North Korea’s trade. No Beijing Communist Party feeding the Kim Dynasty equals no Kim Dynasty nukes. That’s how the Pentagon, the US Treasury, and many surrounding nations view China and North Korea.

It will never be said, just as much as it will always be considered: North Korea is a stepping stone to facing the Beijing Communist Party. For the Pentagon, it’s practice and demonstration. For economics, North Korea is an excuse to cut off trade with China who manufactures technology, but does not develop their own, and uses copied technology with trade money to make it more difficult for their neighbors to sleep at night. Right or wrong, justified or not, that’s how others view China these days.

Now, Xi Jinping addresses an assembly over the BRICS bank group, while still not having dealt with the menace in its own back yard. Without a word being mentioned, Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa—and the nations who trade with them—will view China as being the “maker of promises that won’t be kept”.

China had so much going for it, as did the Communist Party in Beijing. They had trade, they had marked-off territory that no one encroached. But, it wasn’t “what they deserved by rite”, thereby provoking them into too much venture and not enough housecleaning. Make no mistake, North Korea is only the tip of the iceberg marking regional vendettas that loom beneath the surface, both militarily and economically. The US is not as friendly as it seems, “considering either” economics “or” military; it has already been implementing both as part of a greater regional ambition.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 28, 2017

China should be upset over North Korea for deeper reasons than on the surface. Trump’s “fire and fury” comment a few weeks ago was the clear explanation.

Donald Trump was not in favor of the W. Bush invasion of Iraq. Trump does not like large footprints of war. If this administration authorizes action in North Korea, it would not be anything like Iraq. It would be surgical and instant. There might not be time to react.

With the threat growing from China’s venture missions—flying its flag on man-made islands since it can’t find other ways to fly its flag on more soil—the Pentagon would be foolish not to seek an opportunity for a small demonstration. By not bringing North Korean threats to an absolute halt, China may be giving the US just that opportunity.

China and Russia neither want North Korea to be volatile nor shut down. Perhaps they don’t understand North Korea’s political DNA. It seems they all want to have their cake and eat it too and blame the world if they can’t, a mindset common in Communist regimes.

So, Communism itself is on trial, for its ability to deliver on its goals. But, so on trial also is Democracy’s ability to respond if Communism fails to deliver.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 21, 2017

After President Trump warned that North Korea must never make any more threats, North Korea is making more threats than ever. Trump mentioned Hawaii and Guam in his warning, North Korea mentioned Hawaii and Guam in this week’s threats. Again, another US ship in the 7th Fleet crashed into a merchant ship, the USS John S. McCain, right in China’s back yard near Singapore. And, the Navy was sure to announce it to the world through Twitter—another blatant attempt to look incompetent if there ever was one. North Korea and possibly China may even believe it.

China is running into PR problems with the West. Of course, the Communist Party has their reasons, but the press wall between China and non-China makes it difficult to get the story straight.

Hong Kong Umbrella movement leader Joshua Wong was imprisoned this week, along with other leaders. China is not hiding the changes they are making in Hong Kong, even though the agreement between Britain and China was that no such changes would be made for 50 years as a condition of the handover. China has its reasons, but Britain would have no trouble convincing the public that the agreement that Hong Kong belongs to China has been invalidated.

India paid China money to collect annual rainfall data to prepare for seasonal floods. China has not fulfilled it’s contract to deliver the data India already paid for. The data relates to water flowing from China into India. Central territory of interest is Tibet. India provides such downstream data to two of its neighbors at no cost. This week, Chinese troops reportedly walked into India for a few hours, resulting in a few stones being thrown. China has its reasons, but India would have no trouble convincing the public that the agreement of data exchange between China and India to avoid dangerous flash-food incidents has been invalidated.

China has its reasons, but the West also has its reasons and China faces enemies on many sides. Vietnam is getting cozy with the US. India is getting irritated. And, North Korea’s status quo is past being defensible. If China were to find itself in a war, it would already be surrounded. But, rather than bolstering the home front, China is engaging in “venture wars”, seeking to have its flag flown over more territory. Such was the choice of King Richard in his Crusades, which arguably cost him France. Of course, it was his by rite, just as it is China’s by rite.

As things look, the Pacific conflict will likely draw China in on many sides. If China doesn’t win, those many sides will be fighting over many pieces; India may claim Tibet, Britain may reclaim Hong Kong, and Taiwan may sue for normalization with China.

It would be great if it didn’t come to that. But, then so would be a lot of things.

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