Geography and the coming Sino-American war at sea

A member of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force takes part in an amphibious drill on May 13 during joint military exercises on Guam involving Japan, the U.S., France and Britain that were intended to show support for the free passage of vessels in international waters amid concerns China may restrict access to the South China Sea. | AP

 

Geography is determinate in military plans, a fact that planners understand at all levels, from tactical to strategic. While tailored combat elements may traverse difficult environments on land and at sea, heavily laden logistics craft that follow and enable them can rarely do the same. This is what pushes armies and fleets toward certain immutable routes, resulting in battles occurring at the same locations, over and over, throughout recorded history. Much as the ridge at Megiddo, better known as “Armageddon,” played witness to strife no less than 13 times since the 15th century B.C. because it stood astride the route from Mesopotamia to Egypt, key maritime straits such as the waters of the South China Sea and the Sunda and Malaccan Straits will provide the backdrop for future naval battles. Geography and geopolitics are intermeshed and unavoidable. Unfortunately for China, they sit upon the wrong side of the former and are rather poor at the latter. Western advantages in both must not be squandered. Continue reading

World Leaders Gather in Beijing While the US Sinks into Irrelevancy

The United States is fractured and permanently scarred with very little diplomatic room to maneuver, and as the article states, doesn’t even know it. We’re looking at a new world shaping up within the next 10 years… a new world without the United States having a voice in its affairs. This is an unprecedented new chapter in world history that the old order doesn’t recover from. If you’re an American, get used to second or third-rate living standards and all the problems that come with it.

To add clarification: President Trump has a great chance in saving America from ruin, and let’s hope he will. Where he has almost zero chance is in saving it’s standing in the world. An alternative world structure has already been built and members are being filtered in. The ‘on button’ is waiting to be pushed. All that needs to happen is an event, such as global economic collapse, that sets America back and simultaneously provides the new world structure a window of opportunity to spring into first place.

 

World Leaders Gather in Beijing While the US Sinks into Irrelevancy

 

While vaudevillian comedy-like shouting matches broke out in the West Wing of the White House between President Donald Trump and his senior advisers and between the White House press secretary and various presidential aides, world leaders gathered in Beijing to discuss the creation of modern-day land and maritime «silk roads» to improve the economic conditions of nations around the world. Nothing more could have illustrated the massive divide between the concerns of many of the nations of the world and those of the United States, which is rapidly descending into second-rate power status, along with its NATO allies Britain, France, and Germany. Continue reading

Pacific Command chief exhorts Russia and China to bring Kim Jong Un ‘to his senses’

U.S. Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris answers questions during a speech at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Tokyo on Wednesday. | AP

 

The head of the U.S. military’s Pacific Command on Wednesday urged Russia and China to step up efforts in reining in North Korea and persuade the reclusive state to halt its nuclear weapons program and related provocations.

“The dangerous behavior by North Korea is not just a threat to the Korean Peninsula,” Adm. Harry Harris said at an event in Tokyo, referring to Pyongyang’s latest test launch of a new ballistic missile on Sunday. Continue reading

Xi wants Japan in AIIB as Beijing and Tokyo mend fences

Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a meeting in Beijing on May 16. © Kyodo

 

Abe government may reconsider membership in China-led investment bank

TOKYO — Japan could reopen talks on whether to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a senior lawmaker signaled Tuesday after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss improving bilateral ties.

Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, did not discuss the matter with Xi directly during the pair’s 17-minute talk in Beijing on Tuesday, which was concerned mainly with the possibility of Chinese leaders including Xi visiting Japan and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visiting China. But Nikai told a news conference afterward that he would discuss the matter thoroughly with Abe when he returns home. Continue reading

Trump’s stealth North Korea move sidelines China, could be game-changer

President Donald Trump and China’s Xi JInping in Florida.

 

Just how the shape of the new global strategic architecture will settle out as the framework for the 21st Century is still open to challenge, but the key dynamic — the initial door to that new world — is now being opened by a deliberately-orchestrated U.S.-North Korea confrontation.

What is emerging beyond this door is an overarching strategic alternative to the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) démarche of “One Belt, One Road” dominance of the Eurasian and Indo-Pacific geopolitical space, and an alternative, or balance, to the PRC’s reach into Africa and the Americas.

The confrontation between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean (DPRK) leader Kim Jong-Un is very much just between those two leaders, with the People’s Republic of China somewhat marginalized. Beijing is now fighting to find a path into this equation. Continue reading

The Coming China-Germany Trade Juggernaut

 

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In a post-American trade war, this emerging bloc will wield devastating power.

Stories of international angst over United States President Donald Trump’s protectionist approach are becoming more commonplace. Mr. Trump’s “buy American, hire American” catchphrase sounds good for many at home, but abroad, it is prompting a weighty reorganization of international trade relationships. And long term, the result will be a trade war that will prove ruinous to the U.S.

World trade has changed a great deal over the last several decades. The international community at large no longer depends on America’s giant import expenditures and exports. Parag Khanna of Politico wrote:

As Americans, it’s easy to assume that global trade still depends on America as the consumer of last resort. But that’s no longer true. In fact, the majority of trade in emerging-market nations is with each other, not with the U.S. In 1990, emerging economies sent 65 percent of their exports to developed nations like the U.S. and Europe, and only 35 percent to other developing countries. Today, that figure is nearly reversed. Continue reading

Everyone on Earth has been irradiated by Fukushima — “Shocking new study reveals true extent of global impact” — “Scientists are only just now confirming far-reaching effects” of nuclear disaster

 

New Scientist, May 5, 2017 (emphasis added): Fukushima accident gave everyone an X-ray’s worth of radiation — “We don’t need to worry,” says Nikolaos Evangeliou at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, whose team has conducted the first global survey of radiation exposure caused by the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant… Evangeliou’s team has calculated the approximate exposure of everyone on Earth to two radioactive isotopes of caesium… He has estimated the dose that most individuals received to be 0.1 millisievert. “What I found was that we got one extra X-ray each,” says Evangeliou… But Evangeliou says that the effects on wildlife around the plant might be more severe. Already, he says, increased levels of radiation around Fukushima have been linked to declines in bird populations there between 2011 and 2014. “There have also been reports of declines in other species such as insects and some mammals,” he says… Continue reading

China Heads New Alliance of Asian Universities

China has organized an alliance of Asian universities to compete with western educational institutions. The alliance will share resources and increase exchanges of students and teachers.

The new organization is called the Asian University Alliance (AUA). It was launched in late April at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The Chinese university was elected as chair of the group that includes a total of 15 universities from 14 countries and areas. Continue reading

Russian mystery plane at SFO

 

Departing SFO last week, I peered out my window at a rare site: a gigantic Russian Antonov An-124 cargo jet parked across the runways from airport terminals. I thought it was a one-time event, but I began hearing more about it from TravelSkills readers who have seen one or two of the behemoths over the last two weeks at SFO.

I reached out to airport officials at SFO to inquire about the planes, but only received vague replies: “Yes, we’ve had these Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft making semi-regular appearances over the past week, at times having two here simultaneously. None are here now, but the next one comes in tonight.”

When I asked why they are here, what they are transporting and where they are going, the airport said, “They’re coming from various locations, all for the same Bay Area company. I don’t have details on who…” Continue reading

Peak of Fukushima radiation now moving to West Coast — Levels much higher than predicted — Huge red blob of nuclear waste near shore — San Francisco area being hit hardest — Concern over Iodine-129 with 15 million year half-life (MAPS)

 

Feiro Marine Life Center, Apr 18, 2017 (emphasis added): Speaker Series: Studying Fukushima Radiation off the Coast of North America — The Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring (InFORM) project is a partnership between academic, government, non-governmental organizations, and citizen scientists to monitor the arrival of Fukushima-derived contamination, cesium-134 (t1/2 = ~2 years), cesium-137 (t1/2 = ~30 years), and iodine-129 (t1/2 = 15.7 million years) in the open Pacific and Arctic Oceans and North American coastal waters. In response to public demand, monitoring began in the fall of 2014, when models predicted the arrival of radionuclide contamination from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident. Monitoring efforts will capture the peak of the radionuclide contamination, predicted to occur in our waters… Contamination levels continue to be below levels that are known to represent a significant threat to human or ecosystem health. Continue reading

Abe declares 2020 as goal for new Constitution

Due in part to America’s decline over the last eight years under the Obama administration, like a lot of the major powers in the world, Japan is beginning to realize it cannot 100% depend on the U.S. as a reliable partner. Policy changes with almost every new president make it difficult to find stability. It has now decided to scrap its current constitution and do away with the pacifism that keeps it from efficiently defending itself.

This is also the beginning of an Asian hegemonic bloc. Japan will eventually gravitate and align towards China, as the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia are currently doing.

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addresses the annual rally on revising the Constitution organized by conservative lawmakers in Tokyo on Monday. | AP

 

In an unprecedented declaration, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday he hopes to see a revised Constitution take effect in 2020, when the nation will host the Tokyo Olympics.

Continue reading

Russia’s New Global Aims

The Cold War is back, but it is a different Cold War because it is a different Russia. It is important to know who the Russians are and what has shaped their worldview, including their sometimes justified suspicion and hostility toward the US.

Some features of Russian government go back to their beginnings as a country in the 10th century. Their geography places them very far north, which means that food, particularly grain harvests, are uncertain. The country has experienced more famine than feast. This is one reason for aggressively moving in on neighbors with better geography and better harvests (Ukraine and Belarus). Continue reading

Experts: Japan “wants to just drop tanks” of Fukushima nuclear waste into ocean — Americans worried over plumes hitting West Coast — “Reactors are now leaking really high levels of radiation into sea… The world does need to help” — Official says Japan lying about catastrophe (VIDEO)

 

TRT World transcript excerpts (government-funded public broadcaster of Turkey), Apr 14, 2017:

2:30 in – Dana Lewis, senior correspondent (emphasis added): As far away as the American Pacific coast there have been radiation levels found in fish, and radiation plumes have been tracked from Japan that have been detected on the shores of Oregon and in tuna caught nearbyJapan’s former prime minister has accused current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of lying about the situation being under control… Continue reading

US THAADs to South Korea. China launches carrier

Please see the source for the video.

 

The US early Wednesday, April 26, began moving the THAAD missile defense system to central South Korea opposite the border with the North – months ahead of schedule. A South Korean military official said two road-mobile launchers had arrived at the Osan Air Base. One THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) unit includes six launchers.

Later Wednesday, all 100 US senators are scheduled to gather at the White House for a briefing by US security and military chiefs on the North Korean crisis, as the buildup to meet North Korean belligerence continues apace.

Continue reading

Reports of North Korea artillery drill as US submarine docks in South Korea

The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan arrives for a regularly scheduled port visit while conducting routine patrols throughout the Western Pacific in Busan, South Korea, April 24, 2017. Jermaine Ralliford/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

 

North Korea conducted a big live-fire exercise on Tuesday to mark the foundation of its military as a U.S. submarine docked in South Korea in a show of force amid growing concern over the North’s nuclear and missile programmes.

SEOUL:North Korea conducted a big live-fire exercise on Tuesday to mark the foundation of its military as a U.S. submarine docked in South Korea in a show of force amid growing concern over the North’s nuclear and missile programmes.

The port call by the USS Michigan came as a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group steamed towards Korean waters and as top envoys for North Korea policy from South Korea, Japan and the United States met in Tokyo. Continue reading