FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 1st through 7th 2018

Saying of the Day

I thought growing old would take longer

Friends of FOD

Running a bit late with this edition.  Actually I tried to publish last night, but the internet connection in my hotel was too slow to make it work, so I went to bed. Working on the ’31 Chevy is …. It’s almost like a job, but costs me instead of pays me.

 

How China Could Takeover Taiwan Without A Shot Fired

I’ve mentioned here in FOD how freedom of the seas and in particular the South China Sea is important not only to the Asian nations in the region, but for all nations who depend upon the free exchange of goods and services through those contested waters.  China’s ability to restrict trade to selective nations of their choice is a weapon as old as the sea.  Taiwan has long been a thorn in the side of China since the communist government has been in place.  And while Taiwan has military ties with Japan and the US there are likely limits established as to what we might do if China were to act militarily.  A few days ago Asian Times reported rumors have swirled on both sides of the Taiwan Strait since the beginning of last year that Chinese President Xi Jinping was mulling taking back the wayward, self-ruling island of Taiwan in one fell swoop amid growing militancy among the Chinese masses.  Some have gone so far as to suggest that by the early 2020s the two sides would be in a state of belligerence as Xi, unlike his predecessors, has no scruples against waging a full-blown war to recapture what Beijing considers a renegade province.  They say that the year 2022, the end of Xi’s second tenure as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, would be the deadline for him to exert his unrestrained powers to redeem the glory of the Middle Kingdom, after Xi has made “China dream” and “great revitalization” the tag lines of his rule.  “Xi’s grand visions will become empty platitudes if he fails to take back Taiwan before his second term ends, and in that case his ‘China dream’ will become a pipe dream, and he is fully aware of that,” said one analyst.  No one will doubt that China’s Central Military Commission and the People’s Liberation Army have in place a host of all-encompassing combat plans of tactics and deployment to suit all war scenarios, as well as stratagems to deter or fend off intervention by the US or Japan.  The Chinese military must have been updating these plans from time to time to reflect changes in geopolitics and Taiwan’s own defenses, for Xi to choose from should he feel that the time is ripe for a once-and-for-all, momentous action to tame and reclaim the island.  Meanwhile, Beijing has also been on a spree of building or inaugurating aircraft carriers, missiles, corvettes, destroyers, amphibious battleships and stealth fighters, fueling further speculation over whether Taiwan stands a chance when Xi, armed with the will of the rank and file, is girding for a new Chinese civil war.  While many observers believe Xi is readying the military and the nation for a showdown, a bid that will decide how he will go down in history, veteran military commentator Andrei Chang noted in the Kanwa Defense Review that the PLA’s big guns and ships may be for show to make Washington and Tokyo think twice before stepping in, and a trigger doesn’t have to be pulled now that Xi has a slew of non-military options at his disposal.  The Hong Kong-based current-affairs monthly SuperMedia also reported that among the many diplomatic and economic means to subjugate the island is issuing Taiwan Special Administrative Region passports and granting hukou (Chinese household registration) and permanent residency to the 2 million Taiwanese already residing in mainland China.  Previous reports also suggest that the PLA’s first overseas base, which sits right on the Horn of Africa in Djibouti (and discussed here in FOD previously), is aimed at Taiwan, since the resource-scarce island relies substantially on the narrow waterway linking the Suez Canal and the Arabian Sea for oil imports from the Middle East as well as trade with Europe. From the Djibouti base PLA troops could intercept tankers ferrying oil to Taiwan and seal off the island’s trade artery in no time.  Beijing’s frenzied investment and acquisitions targeting stakes in mines, oilfields and energy firms in the Belt and Road countries could also jeopardize Taiwan’s economic security should Beijing decree an embargo of crude oil and other natural resources, according to Chang.  Something they have been unwilling to do when it comes to dealing with North Korea.  The raft of economic, trade, financial and logistical measures short of a shooting war to contain Taiwan won’t provide an opening for Washington to weight in, yet given time, they could work to coerce Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen into coming to terms with Xi and accepting whatever he has in store for a treaty to create a future Taiwan Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 1st through 7th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 23 through 26, 2017

Friends of FOD

A lot of FOD to pick up.  Comments welcomed of course.

 

Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts

We’re just beginning to grasp the scope of the devastation to Puerto Rico.  This American territory has been holding on by a thread for years and has been on the verge of bankruptcy several times.  Its infrastructure was already substandard and in need of major overhaul prior to Maria.  Military Times is reporting, two U.S. Navy ships, National Guard, Air National Guard, Reserve troops and Army helicopters are providing aid to Puerto Rico. But questions are mounting over whether the U.S. is doing enough for its territory and people, who are American citizens.  To date, the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge and dock landing ship Oak Hill have “conducted eight medical evacuations, 148 airlifts and delivered 44,177 [pounds] of relief supplies and cargo to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” U.S. Northern Command said in a statement.  U.S. forces have also restored a mobile communications tower at St. Thomas International Airport to enable the airport to receive additional aircraft to evacuate residents.  The amphibious assault ship Wasp has been conducting similar rescues in Dominica, but that ship will be departing the region to head to the Pacific, where it will eventually relieve the Bonhomme Richard, a Navy official said.  Approximately 2,600 U.S. military personnel and National Guard members are currently involved in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, the Pentagon said.  Currently, more than 700 Air National Guard airmen are deployed to Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to support relief efforts.  Most of Puerto Rico has no electricity or cell phone capabilities because of Hurricane Maria’s damage to the electrical grid and cell towers. There are long lines for food and water.  Likely we’ll need to do more and the more is likely to continue for years.

 

 

 

USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain Take Another Top Officer

The Commander of the  U.S. Pacific Fleet is retiring after learning there’s no possibility of him being promoted out of his current job, he said in a statement to NBC News on Monday. Admiral Scott H. Swift was in charge of the Pacific Fleet during the period this summer when two different ships, USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) sustained collisions at sea that left 17 sailors dead.  Swift said the Chief of Naval Operations  Admiral John M. Richardson told him that he would not be nominated for the United States Pacific Command post, which is senior to Pacific Fleet.  In a statement, he said he was retiring “with great appreciation and gratitude for the honor of having served so many Sailors and their families for what will be 40 years in January.”

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 23 through 26, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 28 through 31, 2017

 

Marines and Navy Heading to Gulf Coast For Possible Disaster Relief

In the wake of the ever increasing destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Marine Times is reporting, nearly 700 Marines will head toward the Gulf Coast Thursday aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge in case they are tasked with helping rescue Texas residents who have been slammed by historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.  The Kearsarge and the dock landing ship Oak Hill are both scheduled to get underway from ports in Virginia, Fleet Forces Command announced on Wednesday.  “These ships are capable of providing medical support, maritime civil affairs, maritime security, expeditionary logistic support, medium and heavy lift air support, and bring a diverse capability including assessment and security,” a news release from the command says. The Marines will also be able to purify water, distribute relief supplies, conduct aerial reconnaissance and provide engineering capabilities, a II MEF news release says.  “Marines conduct regular training and have gained real-world experience with Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief from relief efforts across the globe,” the news release says.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 28 through 31, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 28th through 31st 2017

Some Baseball Congrats

Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre became the 31st member of the 3,000 hit club on Sunday while facing the Orioles. With his team trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, he hit a 3-0 fastball off of Wade Miley for a double, putting runners on second and third with one out. He’s the first Dominican-born player to reach 3,000 career hits.  And then a rookie who just came up to the LA Dodgers, Klye Farmer, in his very first at bat against the San Francisco Giants Sunday night hit the walk-off hit in the bottom of the eleventh inning to beat the Giants 3-2.  Kyle will never forget that first hit and only has 2999 hits to go before he can join the likes of future Hall of Famer Beltre.

 

 

Russian President Putin Orders US Diplomatic Staff Reduction

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that he was ordering the United States to reduce its diplomatic staff in the country by 755.  In an interview with the state-owned broadcaster Russia 24, Putin said the move was in response to “illegal restrictions” imposed by the United States. Putin (left) claimed that more than a “thousand” U.S. diplomatic employees are in Russia, but “755 will have to cease their activities in the Russian Federation.”  Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, said he didn’t believe Putin’s order targeted only U.S. diplomats. “When I was U.S. ambassador, we didn’t have that many Americans in Russia,” he said.  But McFaul called the move a “major escalation” far out of proportion with the Obama administration’s decision to expel 35 suspected Russian spies in December.  The Russian order came days after Congress passed a new round of sanctions aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the United States’ presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.  The bill, which also included sanctions against Iran and North Korea, passed overwhelmingly in the House and the Senate, with only five dissenting votes between them.  A provision in the veto-proof legislation would limit President Donald Trump’s ability to unilaterally lift the sanctions. On Friday, the White House said that Trump intended to sign the legislation into law.

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 28th through 31st 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 6th through 9th 2017

It’s Take Your Daughter to Work Day at the G-20 Summit

The Washington Post and other news outlets are reporting Ivanka Trump was deputized to fill in for her father at a table of world leaders at the Group of 20 summit on Saturday, reigniting questions about the un­or­tho­dox mixing of family and government in President Trump’s White House.  The moment, captured in a pixelated photo by a member of Russia’s delegation, seemed to perfectly capture the scope of the first daughter’s expansive influence in Trump’s administration. But it drew sharp criticism by some who say that the move demonstrates Trump’s flouting of democratic norms against such familial arrangements as well as established diplomatic protocols.  Some critics compared Ivanka Trump’s presence at the table to a “banana republic” and argued that she is both “unelected” and “unqualified” to step into a role usually filled by officials with policy expertise and those authorized and/or approved by Congress to engage in and/or make policy decisions for the United States.

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 6th through 9th 2017”