Threat or Warning?

The People’s Republic of China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, has…said:

The United States and South Korea and North Korea are engaging in tit for tat, with swords drawn and bows bent, and there have been storm clouds gathering.

If they let war break out on the peninsula, they must shoulder that historical culpability and pay the corresponding price for this[.]

Pay the corresponding price: is the PRC warning northern Korea and us, or is it threatening us in favor of its client—losing face as the PRC will do in the event of an attack by its client and the response that must come?

A Misunderstanding

…between the roles of State and Defense and how those roles should be carried out.  The misunderstanding is illustrated in (though it’s not the primary subject of) a Friday Wall Street Journal piece by Dion Nissenbaum and Maria Abi-Habib.

President Donald Trump is (very properly) backing away from a Lyndon Johnson- or Barack Obama-esque micromanagement of what the military is permitted to do, including target selection, timing of engagement, and weapons permitted to be used on those targets.  Instead, he’s encouraging DoD to have its commanders on-scene to exercise more initiative, with less mother-may-I delay waiting for permission from the White House (and notice that use of the chain of command from the top down, too).   From that, as illustrated by General John Nicholson’s decision to drop a MOAB on his own initiative on a Daesh network of tunnels and caves in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border, we’re seeing a more aggressive military with more timely activities.

Potemkin Missiles?

The Yonhap News/Zuma Press image, below, appears to be a new ICBM, and apparently a transportable one, shown in a military parade in Pyongyang, northern Korea, last Saturday.

Also paraded were missile launchers with “never-before-seen missile canisters” (imagery not provided in the Wall Street Journal article at the link).

“Never before seen” and “new.”  Are these truly so, or are they only new to the NLMSM and haven’t actually been successfully concealed from the world’s intelligence services?

Or: are these real weapons, or are they just shams, empty containers?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Hot Air and a Strong United States

Recall the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was going to heavily reinforce “all ocean features controlled by Manila” and plant the Philippine flag on them.

Now, it turns out that the People’s Republic of China has instructed its newest client state not to do so, and Duterte has obeyed.  He’s withdrawn his “threat”

because he values Chinese friendship.

PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang:

Beijing is “happy to see the Philippine side working more closely with the Chinese side.”

Duterte’s strong words having been exposed as so much hot air clearly demonstrates the need for a revitalized and strong American presence everywhere in the South—and East—China Seas.

False Premise

University of Alberta Political Science Professor Wenran Jiang had a piece in The Globe and Mail claiming that the road to peace on the Korean peninsula lay exclusively through diplomacy.  In attempting to downplay the degree of influence the People’s Republic of China has over northern Korea and the boss of its gang, Baby Kim, Professor Jiang made this claim:

Beijing has to walk a fine line between persuading the North not to pursue nuclear weapons and not being seen as colluding with the United States and Japan to undermine its security.

Syrian Refugees

One Syrian, Kassem Eid an erstwhile media activist in Syria, and a victim of the gas attack that was Bashar al-Assad’s calling of then-President Barack Obama’s (D) bluff of a “red” line and that exposed Obama has being too timid to back his words, had a thought about aid and support to Syria’s refugees in a recent Wall Street JournalHere’s the money quote.

America, if you really care about refugees, then take to the streets, call your representatives, and ask for even further action against the murderer who displaced us. President Trump could order strikes to fully ground Assad’s air force, whose bombing forces civilians to flee. The Assad regime still has more than a dozen operational military airports from which to continue its attacks. Help civilians by creating safe zones and no-fly zones.

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.

Reluctance

Ahead of the G-7 meeting, one aspect of which is shaping up to be sideline meetings among the Seven and a number of Arab nations who were invited to discuss Syria, the question of additional sanctions against Syria (and Russia) has come up.  However,

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said that G-7 foreign ministers haven’t agreed to fresh sanctions on Syria following a suspected chemical attack.

The group reached “no consensus on new sanctions to attain the goal we are aiming for[.]”

Indeed, in the realization of the event,

The Syria Strike

One point regarding President Donald Trump’s missile strike against Syria’s Shayrat airbase, from which the barbarian chieftain Bashar al-Assad launched his gas attacks against his own citizenry—including children and babies—is often missed, but Richard Fernandez did not.

[T]he Navy’s missiles very carefully avoided the tanks of sarin gas to avoid collateral damage. This could only be possible if the US knew the location of all the poison the previous administration had already destroyed.

While a single incident doesn’t create a trend (as a stat professor I once had put it, “If your hypothesis calls for a linear trend, collect two data points”), the absence of an administration willing to do more against barbarism than tut-tutting and finger-shaking seems to be getting filled in.

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.