FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 12th through 15th 2018

Saying of the Day

You matter… Unless you multiply yourself by the speed of light … then you’re energy.

 

China Thinks US Is Insecure Regarding China

One of the missions of the US Navy is to keep lines of communication and transportation open throughout the world for all the world’s nations and economies.  It’s much easier to break or interfere with those lines of communication and transportation than it is to maintain them.  I saw this in Asia TimesThe United States has a sense of insecurity that is “beyond comprehension”, according to China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. He made that remark on Wednesday while refuting claims by the US National Intelligence director that the US faces multiple threats from China.  “I don’t know why the United States has such a strong sense of insecurity,” Geng said at a press conference. He said there was “no such thing as absolute security” and one country’s security could not be achieved at the expense of others.  Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday February 13 that the US is confronted with multiple threats by countries like Russia and China – cyber-threats, espionage, and weaponization of outer space.  He said Russia, China, Iran and North Korea posed the greatest global cyber-threats.  “Frankly, the United States is under attack,” said Coats (below left).  Coats noted that US adversaries and “malign actors”, including Russia and China, would use several tactics, including cyber and information warfare to challenge US influence around the world. But Coats devoted most of his remarks at the hearing to Moscow’s meddling in US elections.  The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, in response, urged the US to discard its confrontational, zero-sum-game mindset and make concerted efforts with China, Russia and other members of the international community to “correspond with the trend of the times.”  Global conflict was higher than at any time since the end of the Cold War.  “The US is the No.1 major power in the world with unparalleled military might. If it constantly thinks that it’s threatened hither and thither, what would other countries feel? How could they even survive in that case?” Geng retorted.  Concerns about China in regard to security, however, have gained steam. FBI Director Christopher Wray also told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that Beijing has been aggressively planting spies on US campuses.  And last week, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida wrote to five Florida institutions and asked them to shut down joint programs with China’s Confucius Institute, a Beijing-funded exchange scheme to set up centers overseas to promote Mandarin and Chinese culture. The centers have come into a media glare in recent years amid suspicions of espionage and an erosion of academic freedom in host countries in the West.  So do we need to be concerned regarding threats from China.  You’re damn right we do!

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 19 through 22, 2017

New Sanctions for North Korea

I’ve stated before here in FOD, I don’t believe sanctions against North Korea will have the desired effect of divesting their efforts to develop nuclear weapons.  Kim Jong Un has consistently pursued a path of acquiring nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them in spite of the world’s desires for diminish his resolve to the point of allowing millions of his own people to die of starvation.  Lack of cash however, might have the effect of at least slowing North Korea’s efforts. China’s banks in particular have been willing to launder Kim Jong Un’s money for years.  Only recently, the Department of  the Treasury took actions against the Bank of Dandong over concerns that it was participating in illicit financial activities with North Korea — an early signal to Chinese financial institutions of U.S. willingness to increase pressure on entities that do business with Pyongyang.  On 21 September 2017, President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he had signed an executive order authorizing additional sanctions against North Korea by targeting individuals, companies and financial institutions that do business with what he called “this criminal rogue regime.”  Speaking before a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said his goal is the “complete denuclearization” of North Korea and added that the nation led by Kim Jong Un posed a “grave threat to peace and security in our world.”  Trump noted that he’d signed the executive order just as China’s central bank “has told their other banks … to immediately stop doing business with North Korea.” The president praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for the “very bold move.”  Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (photo right) confirmed that he did call the People’s Bank of China early Thursday morning to alert them to this coming action, but skirted the question when asked if these sanctions were specifically aimed at China.  “This action is directed at everyone,” Mnuchin said, calling the executive order a significant expansion of Treasury’s power to target the Kim regime and those financial entities and individuals who seek to do business with it. The executive order is “forward looking,” meaning Treasury will consider new designations on a “rolling basis” from Thursday on.  So far, the administration has sought to pressure Pyonyang largely through forceful economic steps, including Thursday’s latest action and U.N. Security Council sanctions earlier this month. The President has this right.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 13-15, 2017

North Korea Missile Test Fails

Just one day after the  North held a massive parade to display is military might, including what experts said appeared to be new capabilities for long-range ICBMs, a North Korean missile had a catastrophic failure just after launch. The launch was attempted from Sinpo, a city on North Korea’s east coast, some 400 miles from Japan.  This is the second failure in the last two months where a North Korean missile has exploded just after launch.  Shin In-kyun, President of Korea Defense Network a civic group specializing in military affairs, told NBC News that Sinpo is North Korea’s submarine port and the failed missile was likely a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). “SLBMs are more threatening than any other type of missile of the same range because it can evade radar detection, including the THAAD,” Shin said, referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system provided to South Korea by the U.S. “If North Korea [can] complete building 3,000-ton submarine, they can then attack Guam, Hawaii and even Alaska with an SLBM.”  On the new live version of “Saturday Night Live,” Alec Baldwin, the best Trump impersonator around contemplates his first 100 days in office.   “These 100 days have been such a success, and I’m so sad my presidency is coming to an end,” Trump tells Vice President Mike Pence, played by cast member Colin Jost.  When Pence reminds Trump he has much longer than 100 days in office, Trump replies, “I don’t know, have you seen my tweets about North Korea?”  And then of course there’s a lot of banter about the Bannon and Kushner controversy.  You can’t make this stuff up.  Well, I guess you can.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 11 and 12, 2017

Friends of FOD

I think the comments section is working.  Try it out!  I’ve done an update to this post and you should have receive your email notification of a new post on April 14.

 

FOD Regarding Tillerson’s Mission to Moscow

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s mission to Moscow is not likely to yield substantive changes in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support of Bashar al-Assad and the current Syrian regime.  Despite US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s and Tillerson’s assertions Moscow was complicit in the alleged nerve gas attack, or inept at fulfilling their earlier international promise to remove these chemical weapons from Syrian hands, the balance of power remains about the same.  The Trump administration has accused Moscow of attempting to help cover up Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Assad and his allies continue to gain ground in Idlib province and to make gains in the critical corridor between Damascus and the Mediterranean Sea.  I don’t believe Putin will see any need to change his long term strategies of one; continued and expanded access to a warm water port on the Mediterranean they now have at Russian naval base in Tartus  and two; increasing Russia’s great-power status.  The Fireball opinion is the latter is the more important to Putin.  Additionally Putin shares concerns with Assad in containing Islamic extremism, lest it spread to Russian Muslim regions.  Putin would likely point to the large number of Chechen jihadist fighting in Syria as proof.  His strategy of containment hinges on Assad staying in power.  And likewise sees all of those aligned with Assad’s opposition/removal as obstacles to Putin’s containment strategy, along with the warm water port.  As long as the largely Sunni jihadis are waging war on Assad, the threat to Russian territories is reduced.  Over the years, the US attempts to isolate Iran have allowed ever increasing military and intelligence ties between Russia and Iran.  We have seen over the last few years Iran create formidable forces of Shia militias and fighters spring up across the Arab world, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Pakistan and Afghanistan, all trained by and directed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards with help from Russia.  Our limited strike can be looked at as a limited – one-off event or a fundamental change in US strategy in the Middle East.  Indeed Putin would like to see it as an isolated event.  Any broader American initiative to force regime change in Syria diminishes Russia’s role in the conflict, endangers their warm-water port interests and would be seen as a personal defeat for Putin.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 31 through April 3, 2017

A Lot to cover in this post

Congrats to Friend of FOD Pat on retiring

The reach of FOD is increasing, as demonstrated by a Friend of FOD Kevin running into another a Friend of FOD Pat, drinking wine in Anacortes, WA a couple days ago.  FOD is doing its part to reduce that six degrees of separation concept.  Maybe we can bring back that discussion of “e” from the 07 and 08 Feb edition of FOD,  … or not?  Congrats Pat on your retirement from Boeing and for all you did to keep sanity in Flight Test.  It was always great flying with you.  Semper Fi, my Brother.

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