Japan’s ‘peace constitution’ on the brink as NE Asia braces for war

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo, on Oct. 22. Isse Kato / Reuters

 

TOKYO ― The overwhelming success of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the latest elections for members of the Japanese “Diet” ― the peculiar word for Japan’s parliament or national assembly ― portends hardening of tensions and priorities in Northeast Asia.

Yes, Abe would dearly like to revise Japan’s post-war “peace constitution” whose Article 9 declares “land, sea and air force will never be maintained” and “belligerency of the state will not be recognized” (hence the term “self-defense forces” for Japan’s military establishment). In fact, one reason Abe called the snap election was to shore up his popularity, to show he was in charge after his ratings fell to 30 percent a few months ago. Continue reading

Asia emerges as an economic zone

Source: Bloomberg

Source: Bloomberg

 

Asian currencies (Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, India, Indonesia, Taiwan and China) are now trading in lockstep with the Japanese yen. In large part this is managed: so many Asian countries compete in the same export markets that their central banks try to keep their currencies aligned with each other. Continue reading

China intensifying THAAD retaliation

China may continue to ratchet up its retaliation against South Korea over Seoul’s decision to allow the deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery here, analysts said Monday.

In what was likely a retaliatory maneuver last week, Beijing abruptly banned South Korean airlines from operating chartered flights between the two countries beginning this month. Chinese airlines also withdrew their plan to run chartered flights to Korea. Continue reading

Russia’s stake in Korea: How U.S.-backed unification could work for Moscow

We hear so much about China and Japan competing on and for the Korean peninsula, now and historically, that we overlook one other great Northeast Asian power.

That would be Russia, which has a 17-kilometer border with North Korea as the Tumen River flows into the sea. Continue reading

Army Warns that Future War with Russia or China Would Be ‘Extremely Lethal and Fast’

Leaders say warfare in the coming decades will be fundamentally different from the past 25 years.

To envision the wars of the future, first remember those of the distant past, with their soul-numbing artillery barrages and unstinting waves of conventional enemy forces. Then speed up that mental newsreel and imagine a ground war accelerated by artificial intelligence and precision munitions, nested in a larger strategic sphere where everything is moving at Internet velocity.

That’s the picture that Army leaders are working from as they try to prepare their force to deter and defeat America’s enemies over the next few decades.

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Preparing for Korean Unification?

https://i2.wp.com/38north.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/iStock_25713452_XXXLARGE-990x1485.jpg

 

A growing number of policymakers and experts in South Korea, the United States and other countries now presume that the best solution in principle for the North Korean nuclear problem and the larger “Korean issue” is unification, implying a peaceful takeover of the North by the South. This has been especially true in the latter half of Park Geun-hye’s presidency; where since her Dresden speech, this issue has been at the forefront of government and public discussion. Some commentators in Seoul have concluded that unification is not only desirable but also quickly achievable, as evidenced by indications that the North Korean regime is about to collapse. Though I see no signs of brewing instability as I write this in Pyongyang, South Korea’s only reasonable course of action is to prepare for the possibility that international pressure will someday bring the North to its knees, as analysts assess the plausibility and desirability of such a scenario. Continue reading

The Rise and Fall of a Superpower

An article from 2000 with lessons for today:

 

 

Building the Panama Canal was one of the greatest chapters in American history. It helps to reveal how America became a superpower, if we understand the complete history. Today we see an almost totally different spirit in our leaders. The meaning behind that change contains the strongest warning ever for America!

How much do Americans understand their own history? We are called the world’s greatest superpower ever! But how did we rise to such heights? Most Americans are ignorant of how it all happened. And that ignorance places us in grave danger!

Our building and now surrendering of the Panama Canal reveals a large part of the story. It gives a powerful insight into the rise and fall of the world’s greatest superpower.

President Theodore Roosevelt led our people to build the Panama Canal. He had a spirit and courage that I don’t see in our leaders today.

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U.S. Deploys Three B-2 Bombers to Guam Amid Korea Tensions

The Pentagon is deploying three B-2 nuclear-capable bombers to the Pacific island of Guam amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said on Monday.

“We are in the process right now of deploying three B-2s on a scheduled rotation,” Welsh in response to a reporter’s questions about the U.S. response to increased tensions in Korea. Continue reading

And When We Are Faced with a Nuclear Iran?

Iran’s Foreign Minister and chief nuclear negotiator, Javad Zarif (left), is very, very pleased with the recent nuclear deal. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (right), is not unclenching Iran’s fist in its relations with the West.

 

  • Are we actually being told, then, that the only way to prevent Iran from having nuclear bombs is to let it have them? If not now, in 10-15 years? And with intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the U.S.?
  • Even supporters of the deal say that yes, at the ten year mark, Iran will be able to breakout and build a weapon’s worth of nuclear fuel in a year or less — in other words, have nuclear bombs.
  • Iran has never come clean with the IAEA — or anyone else — about its nuclear activities. These were discovered not by IAEA inspectors but by the U.S. and allied law enforcement and intelligence services, as well as by dissident groups within Iran. Are we actually assuming that Iran, under this new deal, will now come clean?
  • Thus under the July deal the U.S. may not (technically) know if Iran, after a breakout, has a nuclear weapon arsenal until Iran either tests a nuclear warhead or explodes it in an American or Israeli city. Then, of course, the discovery will be “too late” to do anything about, especially if the U.S. is helping Iran with technology assistance designed to prevent attacks on Iran’s nuclear sites.
  • Having made so many concessions to a non-nuclear Iran, how tough in the future will we be, faced with a nuclear Iran?

Iran says its nuclear technology program is totally peaceful. In 31 other countries with peaceful nuclear programs, there are 438 nuclear power plants in operation, and in another 16 countries, 67 plants under construction.

Under the terms of the 1969 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, any nation adopting nuclear energy has to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rules. Every one of these nearly 50 countries does. Iran does not. Continue reading

Panic as China suffers ANOTHER stock market crash with largest shares fall in EIGHT years

INVESTORS in Britain and around the world have been sent into panic today after China’s stocks plummeted by 8.5 per cent – the largest one-day fall in almost eight years.

The FTSE 100 was in the red this morning after share indices in the world’s second-largest economy suffered their worst drop since 2007.

The fall in China is part of a wider slump in the country’s stocks that first began in mid-June, amid fears the China’s finance bubble had burst.

Previously China’s indices had almost doubled in the space of just a year.

The country’s Government had managed to briefly calm nerves with a raft of support measures, but today investors appeared to have lost all faith in official efforts to prop up values. Continue reading

AIIB to shift of power from West to East: Dutch expert

The popularity of China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has signaled that Asia in general and China in particular are leading the world into another and relevant direction, a Dutch expert has said.

Rien T Segers, a Dutch expert on the political economy of East Asia, believes the world is undergoing a transition from “the financial, economic and political dominance of the United States towards the dominance of a number of Asian countries, led by China.”

“The rich and old economies have no other choices but going for a development which is a reflection of cooperative influence of Asian countries in the West and vice versa”, he added.

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As China circles, US-Thai military friendship stumbles

Perturbed by Thailand’s coup, the United States has scaled back a showpiece joint military exercise with its Southeast Asian ally, but analysts say that with China circling for influence, Washington will not push the kingdom’s generals too far.

Famed for its jungle bonding sessions where US and Thai soldiers down snake blood, the annual “Cobra Gold” event is the crown jewel of Thailand’s decades-long strategic alliance with the US.

But this year’s edition, which started on Monday, has been slimmed down, as Washington recalibrates the level of military support it is willing to show for a country under junta rule — and martial law — since last May. Continue reading

Bank of America sees $50 oil as Opec dies

“Our biggest worry is the end of the liquidity cycle. The Fed is done. The reach for yield that we have seen since 2009 is going into reverse”, said Bank of America.

The Opec oil cartel no longer exists in any meaningful sense and crude prices will slump to $50 a barrel over coming months as market forces shake out the weakest producers, Bank of America has warned.

Revolutionary changes sweeping the world’s energy industry will drive down the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG), creating a “multi-year” glut and a mucher cheaper source of gas for Europe.

Francisco Blanch, the bank’s commodity chief, said Opec is “effectively dissolved” after it failed to stabilize prices at its last meeting. “The consequences are profound and long-lasting,“ he said.

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By removing Assad, Obama may be declaring war on China

President Obama is not the only actor with a red line on Syria. China, Russia and Iran also have their own red line on Damascus.

CNN on 12 November reported Obama administration is suddenly focused on removing Assad as the core of its anti-ISIS strategy, once again submitting to Turkey and Arab Gulf states that enabled ISIS to begin with, and are actually contributing very little to the anti-ISIS efforts to be dictating such orders to Washington.

Moreover, these demands are harmful to US security interests—redefining US anti-ISIS mission to one of anti-Assad mission—and thereby potentially drawing in Eurasian powers of China, Russia and Iran into open military conflict against the US. Continue reading

Russia Test Fires Six New Air-Launched Cruise Missiles

Russian strategic air forces fired six new, precision-strike cruise missiles in test launches Friday amid new tensions between Moscow and the West over the crisis in Ukraine.

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Friday that the missile firings took place during exercises involving eight Tu-95 Bear bombers—the same type of strategic bomber recently intercepted 50 miles off the California coast by U.S. jets.

Russian bombers, meanwhile, continued saber-rattling air defense zone incursions against Canada’s arctic and in Europe over the Baltic Sea.

On Monday, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu announced that Russian military forces had launched a large-scale “surprise” readiness exercise that was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Continue reading