FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 4th and 5th, 2017

Friends of FOD

I hope all my readers had an enjoyable long weekend and that you all had the opportunity to take in a local fireworks display.  Nothing says the Fourth of July like a good fireworks display.  A rather shortened edition today, as I’m departing on a driving trip to CA to work on that ’31 Chevy Five Window Coupe.  Maybe I’ll be inspired by some on the road stories along the way.

 

North Korea Successfully Tests First ICBM

According to the South China Morning Post, North Korea on Tuesday said it had successfully tested its first ­intercontinental ballistic missile, catching military experts ­off-guard and ratcheting up ­pressure on its Asian neighbors to take a harder line against the hermit nation.  China, Pyongyang’s main ally, issued a joint statement with Russia that calls for a halt to missile tests in exchange for the US and South Korea suspending their large-scale military exercises.  While that’s not likely to happen, it does show China is committed to continuing support of North Korea and at the present time is unwilling to use the one negotiating point available to China – control of the oil supply flowing into North Korea from China.  And in fact the US Army and the South Korean military held their own missile exercise in territorial waters adjacent to South Korea.  The US Pacific Command said in a statement, “The launches were in direct response to North Korea’s destabilizing and unlawful actions.”  Based on the missile’s similarity to China’s own ICBMs with a range of more than 6,000km, he estimated it could strike Alaska, but the lower 48 states as well as Hawaii would be out of range.  China’s foreign ministry said it opposed the test and called for restraint by Pyongyang, as well as calm from all sides. “China urges the DPRK to refrain from acts that violate UN Security Council resolutions so as to create necessary conditions for resuming dialogue and negotiation,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, using the North Korea’s official name.  One Chinese foreign affairs ­expert said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might have intended the test as a reminder to China and the US of Pyongyang’s presence ahead of Xi and Trump’s meeting in Hamburg.  Kim might also be trying to sow tension between Beijing and Washington over how to contain the North’s weapons programme, according to Sun Xingjie, a professor at Jilin University. Disagreement between the two sides could see the US move closer to Japan and South Korea, which in turn would push China towards North Korea, he said.  Trump has grown increasingly impatient over the deadlock in resolving the nuclear crisis, and blamed China. He discussed the issue with Xi by phone on Monday, but both sides failed to ­announce any progress beyond reiterating their commitment to a denuclearized Korean peninsula.  Trump took to Twitter after the launch, writing: “Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”  Twitter is not a substitute for diplomatic negotiation however.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 10th through 12th 2017

The China – North Korea Picture is Changing – Fireball Opinion

Let’s face it, one of the world’s most dire potential future events facing the US and other world nations involves a war with North Korea and its possible runaway consequences.  Seoul being 35 miles from the border between the two Koreas (technically still at war from the 1950’s) make it extremely vulnerable as a North Korean first strike target.  Envision even attempting to evacuate millions of Koreans from Seoul and its suburbs under fire.  This event truly boggles the imagination.  US officials have for decades attempted diplomatic and economic pressures in an effort to dissuade North Korea from building nuclear weapons.  North Korea has been isolated, but not as yet persuaded to abandon its nuclear weapons program.  But while the world’s nations point to the instability of Kim and his Stalinist feudal monarchy supported by wide spread criminality around the world, the reason he is still in power is China.  I would submit Chinese leaders have their own nightmare scenario where were the Kim regime to fall, millions of refugees would flood northeastern China as a race would begin to control North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.  China cannot imagine nor does it want to tolerate a unified, pro-Western Korea on its immediate border with US troops and our spy apparatus on the banks of the Yalu River.  For decades China has kept and supported North Korea regimes as a method of holding Western influences and her borders buffered by North Korea.  The idea that China has limited influence over the Kim regime is sophistry at best.  Let’s just call it the bull shit it is.  China has thus far been willing to support all sorts of sanctions except those that would work – its energy supplies to North Korea.  I think now however the picture is changing.  North Korea’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could hit America cities and/or their repeated testing and expressed development objectives has put the US on a collision course with North Korea in the near term.  If the US were to act as we have indicated we would, China must then envision a horror greater than a nuclear North Korea: instability on the Korean peninsula.  SECDEF James Mattis addressing Asian government leaders in Singapore last week called North Korea’s weapons programs a “clear and present danger” to America.  I believe Asian governments want reassurance President Trump will be more concerned with values than interests and how he might try to do a deal with China, specifically trading help with North Korea for an increased Chinese sphere of influence.  They want assurances the US will not look the other way as China builds airstrips and military bases on disputed reefs of the South China Sea.  Mattis went on to say America will not accept unilateral, coercive moves to change the facts on the ground and accused China of showing “contempt” for its neighbors.  I believe such a binary trade-off would not be a good deal.  China must deal with the issues of its expansion within the rules-based order established by the totality of the world’s nations.  China has made noise in regard to deployment of THAAAD missiles in South Korea as it underlines China’s ability to deal with external threats – the US and its allies.  Again I must raise the bull shit flag.  If you want to see THAAD gone – deal with the North Korean nukes.  China must be convinced its self interests lie in disarming North Korea.  The US has broader issues that could be part our discussions with the Chinese government, specifically, Uighur militants at work in western China have ties to Muslim extremist networks in Afghanistan and North Korean cyber attackers have used China as a base for their operations without Chinese government approval or knowledge.  We might be able to help on both those fronts.  While all-out war on the Korean peninsula may be unimaginable, if North Korea continues to develop ICBMs, America’s acceptance of greater risk will increase and military options will gain favor.  China has for too long allowed North Korean provocations in exchange for stability on the Korean peninsula.  Time to make a choice.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 10th through 12th 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 27th and 28th, 2017

President Trump Pledges ‘Unwavering Support’ For Our Troops

President Trump praised US troops as part of his European visit last day’s agenda during a visit to Naval Air Station Sigonella in eastern Sicily.  Trump praised the troops for their continued efforts to fight terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa, and said the attacks that include a suicide bombing in Manchester, England, earlier this week and against Coptic Christians in Egypt underscore the need for a strong military.  “The single greatest strength to our armed forces is you, you, all of you,” Trump said to the troops. “You have poured out your hearts, your souls and even your blood for this nation, and we will pour out our gratitude for you, in return.”  However he didn’t mention they might not receive a cost of living pay adjustment commensurate with their civilian counterparts mentioned in the last edition of FOD.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 22 through 24, 2017

March for Science

Lovers of science braved the rain on Saturday, the 22nd  to march in Washington DC.  There were obvious political overtones, but generally, Science Lovers Hit Streets to Demand Respect and Funding I was impressed by the signs:  “I just came for the pi,” Without science, it’s just fiction,” and the best one, “No Science, No Beer.”  Organizers are concerned about the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to health and science.  If we want to lead the world, we must lead with scientific knowledge.  Coincidentally the National Endowment for the Arts is again under attack.  Not so much for what they have been doing as much as a desire to cut their funding in total.  In March of 2017, a proposal to eliminate all federal funding for the program was put forward by the Trump administration.  I can’t believe we can’t find $150M to fund this important endeavor.  Let’s cut out a couple trips to Mar-a Lago.  Science helps us to live, but the arts are what make us human.

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