Restrain

In a piece about PRC President Xi Jinping telling President Donald Trump that the former wants a peaceful resolution to the problem of northern Korea, The Wall Street Journal‘s Te-Ping Chen quoted John Delury, an Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at Yonsei University in Seoul:

Beijing is in somewhat of a new dilemma here, where they’re trying to restrain both Trump and Kim Jong Un[.]

This is inaccurate on a couple of counts.  On the one hand, Xi is in no position to presume to restrain Trump, what with his own naked aggressions in the East and South China Seas, nor is he in a position to restrain when he has steadfastly refused to take meaningful steps to restrain Baby Kim, and his father Kim the Younger before him.

Chuck Schumer Agrees

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D, NY) has expressed his agreement with and appreciation of the missile strikes against the Syrian air base from which Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad launched his barbaric gas attack against innocent men, women, children, and babies—his own citizens—strikes which were ordered by President Donald Trump.

Making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do.  I salute the professionalism and skill of our Armed Forces who took action today.

Japanese Active Defense

With the growing threat to the Japanese homeland represented by northern Korea’s nuclear weapons development, Japan is considering another major change to its defense posture: acquisition of a “counter-attack” capability to allow Japan to more actively respond to an attack by northern Korea.

There are a couple of misconceptions, though, in the government’s considerations or in The Diplomat‘s presentation of those considerations.

As long as Japan acquires the capabilities recommended by the study group with close consultation with the United States, so that whatever the new capability Japan acquires will benefit overall deterrence of the US-Japan alliance, it will ultimately work to counter urgent security challenges presented by North Korea.

Northern Korea and the People’s Republic of China

On the day before the PRC’s President, Xi Jinping, is to meet with President Donald Trump, northern Korea fired another ballistic missile (this one apparently another test of its solid-fueled model).  Of course, the careful timing of Baby Kim’s missile launch has been denied by the PRC’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.  There is no “direct relation” between the missile launch and the Trump-Xi meeting, she insisted.

The more telling description of events and event relations, though, was provided by Shi Yinhong, Director of the Center on American Studies at Renmin University in Beijing:

China has nearly exhausted its leverage with North Korea.

Public Servants and Respect

A Letter to the Wall Street Journal Editor last week revealed a problem in the Federal bureaucracy, but not the one the writer intended.  The writer wrote in part,

While Peter Hoekstra in his March 16 op-ed Can Americans Trust Their Spies? clearly states the problem of intelligence leaks from spies employed by the US, he stops short of mentioning a broader issue of morale and trust that is at the heart of a national problem and has stalled our government. Public servants, like all of us, want to feel they are respected and supported by those in high office and that their efforts are taken seriously by our government. When this doesn’t occur, information leaks develop. Modern cyberspace warfare requires the trust and support of our spies and an understanding of who our enemy is.

NATO and Mutual Defense Alliances

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Europe at the end of the week, and among other things, he pushed for NATO member states to honor their decades-old commitment to spend 2% of their GDP on defense.

Germany, among other members, insisted that honoring their commitment was “unrealistic.”

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said demands for 2% of GDP spending were “totally unrealistic.” He said that to meet the US target, Germany would have to increase spending by some €35 billion ($37 billion).

After all, Gabriel has argued,

…a strong defense isn’t enough to ensure security.

Distractions

Congressman Adam Schiff (D, CA), Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, wants them.  He’s so anxious to have them that he’s insisting that Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R, CA) to stop being Chairman.

Mr Nunes should step aside from any congressional investigation pertaining to Russia or to the “incidental” collection of intelligence information, like what Mr Nunes said occurred to Mr Trump’s transition team.

Mr Schiff said in a statement it was “not a recommendation I make lightly…. I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman.”

A Plan for Rigorous Enforcement

Mark Dubowitz, Chief Eecutive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies,  writing in The Wall Street Journal, had some thoughts regarding strict enforcement of the Iran nuclear weapons agreement and some thoughts on an alternative path for dealing with Iran and its nuclear weapons.  I’m focusing on the latter.

First, Mr Trump must address the Iranian threat the way Ronald Reagan treated the Soviet one. … The Trump NSC needs a similar plan, one that uses both covert and overt economic, financial, political, diplomatic, cyber, and military power to subvert and roll back the Iranian threat.

Inadvertent Tapping and Leaks

As House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R, CA) revealed the other day enroute to the White House, intelligence community personnel, in the course of surveilling the communications and other activities of foreign nationals (vis., Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak), also surveilled incidentally members of then-President-Elect Donald Trump’s campaign and transition teams, and perhaps Trump himself.  Wire tapping, indeed, if loosely and metaphorically.

Of larger import, though, is this, also from Nunes.

…the intelligence “ended up in reporting channels and was widely disseminated.”

It was previously reported that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was “unmasked” in this way; however, Nunes said “additional names” were unmasked as well.

Well, It’s About Time, Ollie

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has spoken up in a way contrary to his predecessors regarding our policy—our very attitude—toward northern Korea.

Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended[.]

That’s not just on Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, though.  Our various administrations have tried for 20 years, or more, the idea of talking, cajoling, bribing (to the tune of $1.35 billion in “aid”) northern Korea’s various Kim dictators.  Baby Kim, in glad response, has only accelerated his drive for sticking nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles (he already has the warheads and the missiles).