President Donald Trump is, IMNSHO, misunderstanding the role of diplomacy in a shooting conflict. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said,

He’s (Trump) not seeking to go to war.  He has made it clear to me to continue my diplomatic efforts…until the first bomb drops.

Of course, war should be a last resort, not a never resort, and Trump understands that.  But to say that diplomacy ends when the shooting starts, is mistaken.  Diplomacy doesn’t only shape the coming battlefield during a prior period of peace and during the runup to the fight.  It also shapes the battlefield during the fight: both directly with its (however minimal) impact on the enemy belligerents, but also on the periphery and the far field surrounding the battlefield through its impact on our allies, our enemy’s allies, and on neutrals.

The PRC and Northern Korea

The People’s Republic of China says it has ordered businesses doing business with northern Korean entities or individuals must shut down within 120 days.

This would be cool, if it happens.  The PRC has said it would enforce other sanctions, also, and then only paid lip service to enforcement while engaging in business largely as usual with the north.

Believe it when you see it actually happen.  If it does happen, believe the durability of PRC enforcement when it actually lasts.

A Clear Statement of Intent

Ri Yong Ho, northern Korea’s Foreign Minister and spokesman for Baby Kim, appears to have let the cat out of the bag.  Responding to President Donald Trump’s series of remarks about northern Korea and Baby Kim during the week, Ri said

He [Trump] committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets’ visit to the entire US mainland inevitable all the more[.]

Notice that.  Ri isn’t only responding to Trump’s current position.  All the more is the key phrase here.  Northern Korea’s intent all along, its motivation for developing nuclear weapons and delivery systems, has been to attack us; otherwise, there is nothing than which to be all the more.


Germany has been struck by a wave of hackers from the People’s Republic of China as the PRC moves to steal from cutting-edge manufacturers.

The German government

is now moving to shield companies from state-backed hackers and criminal gangs, offering to pay to harden the defenses of Germany’s most vulnerable firms.

This is a start, but it’s insufficient.

Hacks like this, originating as they do from a fundamentally autocratic nation, can only be taken as state-sanctioned, if not outright -directed, as such they are overt acts of aggression, and so they require commensurately serious responses.

Loss of Power

And of communications, air conditioning in hot and humid environs (and of heating in cold environs), food and water distribution, fuel supplies, and so on.

Block by block and city by city, utilities face one of the largest power restoration challenges in US history as they bring back electricity to more than 15 million people affected by Hurricane Irma.

Almost 60,000 utility workers from the US and Canada are descending on Florida and other states hard hit by the storm, with more line crews and contractors expected soon….

Willful Ignorance

Senator Diane Feinstein (D, CA) wrote a letter to the editor of USA Today that’s breathtaking in the sweep of its ignorance.

Should the United States adopt a policy of no first use, making clear to the world that our country will never launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike? The answer is yes.

The answer is, of course, No.  She began that question with a false premise.  No first use is not limited to a preemptive nuclear strike.  It simply means no first use.  We engaged in first use when we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki (apart from the narrow tautology that we were the only nation with nuclear weapons), and contra Feinstein’s disparagement of the use and its casualties, that use ended the war, saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of American, Allied, and Japanese soldiers and the lives of millions of Japanese civilians.

Not Current

It turns out that most of the 7th Fleet ships were not—are not—current on their training.  In my old USAF parlance, that would render them non-OR—not operationally ready, not capable of doing their wartime mission.

As of late June, eight of the 11 cruisers and destroyers in the Seventh Fleet, and their crew members, weren’t certified by the US Navy to conduct “mobility seamanship,” or basic steering of the ship….

“And their crewmembers.”  That means, to me, that not only were the crewmen individually not positionally qualified, they weren’t qualified as the ship’s unified crew—the ships were not qualified.  Not operationally capable.

Chips and the PRC

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US seems to be preparing to block the purchase of Lattice Semiconductor Corp, a maker of chips for civilian electronics, by Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, a company backed and funded by the government of the People’s Republic of China.  This is upsetting the deal’s backers.

Lattice management and other deal backers think we should all be “satisfied with their efforts to address national security concerns,” and they’re preparing to appeal to President Donald Trump to overrule the expected CFIUS decision.  This is nonsense.  Canyon Bridge is an arm of the PRC government; it isn’t possible to address successfully national security concerns when the government of an enemy is involved in buying one of our technology companies.

Iran and the Nuclear Deal

Somalia has written our State Department asking for help since al Shabaab, in concert with al Qaeda, has seized and is operating some of Somalia’s surface uranium mines, with a view to sending the output to Iran.

This issue can be summed up in a single word: uranium.  Al-Shabaab forces have captured critical surface exposed uranium deposits in the Galmudug region and are strip mining triuranium octoxide for transport to Iran.

That customer is somewhat speculative on Somalia’s part, but neither terrorist organization has much use for yellowcake except as a money-raising item for sale.  Beyond that, there aren’t many customers in the pool, either, and only Iran and northern Korea have much interest in illicitly obtaining the ore.

Sale of a Stock Exchange

Good idea?

The Chicago Stock Exchange wants to sell itself to Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group, a Chinese conglomerate whose parent is CHX Holdings Inc.  Never mind that this would be a camel’s nose of the People’s Republic of China into our financial system and expose it to PRC hacking, disruption, theft, etc, etc, etc.

Fortunately, a collection of Congressmen persuaded the SEC to indefinitely delay the sale and purchase.  Unfortunately, the deal hasn’t been killed altogether.

Casin…says it is independent of the Chinese government.

Of course it is. In a nation that is increasing its autocratic control over its economy and the businesses in it.  Sure.