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 14th through 18th 2017

Friends of FOD

If you recall an event you believe the group might be interested in, drop me a comment and I’ll research it and add it to the blog.

I accomplished some good work on the ’31 Chevy last week: picked up the newly powder coated frame (it’s a grey color), installed 4 bar rear suspension, resealed differential, serviced it with gear oil, installed front and rear shocks, removed transmission from engine, serviced and installed torque converter, installed flywheel, reinstalled transmission and engine and installed on frame, installed gas tank, installed all fuel lines and brake lines, bled brake system, installed drive shaft, began installation of engine electrical harness, filled transmission with fluid, filled engine with oil, installed alternator and air conditioner compression belts, visited the body at the body guy’s shop (it’s coming along), sent the new hood out for primer coating and of course spent a bunch of money on other parts I’ll need in the near future.  It’s beginning to look like a car, well at least a completed chassis.

 

 

 

 

Russia Launches Operation Zapad in Belarus On Anniversary of Soviet Invasion of Poland

Russia and Belarus launched Operation Zapad, an ongoing joint strategic military exercise of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and Belarus (the Union State) that began on 14 September 2017, conducted in Belarus as well as in Russia‘s Kaliningrad Oblast and Russia′s other north-western areas. According to the information made public by the Defense Ministry of Belarus prior to the exercise, fewer than 13,000 personnel of the Union State are to take part in the military maneuvers, a number that does not trigger mandatory formal notification and invitation of observers under the OSCE‘s Vienna Document.  Western analysts, however, believed in July 2017 that the total number of Russian troops, security personnel and civilian officials to be involved in the broader war-games will range from 60,000 to 100,000, which would make them Russia’s largest since the Cold War.  Since 2016, concerns have been voiced in a number of NATO countries over Russia’s suspected ulterior motives and objectives in connection with the exercise.  And on 17 September 2017, the mobilization for combat portion of the exercise will begin and will for the first time include participation by units of the Baltic Fleet.  Generally speaking it will be an opportunity for Russia and Belarus to practice a major exercise in rapidly mobilizing and deploying a combined force close to its Western frontier.  And this sword rattling will have the US and our allies in the region watching closely how and in what strengths Russia is able to move its troops.  Poland, who shares a border with Belarus, is particularly concerned with observing what the Russians will do in particular.  They have reason to be concerned as September 17, 1939 marks the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland.  You’ll recall the German invasion of Poland began on September 1, 1939.  On September 3, 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany, but failed to provide any meaningful support for Polish army outnumbered, and vastly inferior to the German invading forces.  German began to pressure the Soviets to invade Poland from the east, but Stalin waited several days.  Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German ambassador to Moscow Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg exchanged a series of diplomatic messages on the matter but the Soviets nevertheless delayed their invasion of eastern Poland. The Soviets were distracted by crucial events relating to their ongoing border disputes with Japan.

They needed time to mobilize the Red Army and they saw a diplomatic advantage in waiting until Poland had disintegrated before making their move.  The undeclared war between the Soviet Union and the Empire of Japan at the Battles of Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhan) in the Far East ended with the MolotovTojo agreement between the USSR and Japan which was signed on 15 September 1939, with a ceasefire taking effect on 16 September 1939.  (Why yes that’s the same Molotov as the Molotov cocktail).  On 17 September 1939, Molotov delivered the following declaration of war to Wacław Grzybowski, the Polish Ambassador in Moscow: On that morning, 16 days after Germany invaded Poland from the west, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east. The Red Army entered the eastern regions of Poland with seven field armies, containing between 450,000 and 1,000,000 troops.  The invasion and the battle lasted for the following 20 days and ended on 6 October 1939 with the two-way division and annexation of the entire territory of the Second Polish Republic by both Germany and the Soviet Union.  The photo above shows the German and Russian commanders shaking hands after the defeat of Poland.  The joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland was secretly agreed to in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed on 23 August 1939.  The Red Army, which vastly outnumbered the Polish defenders, achieved its targets by using strategic and tactical deception. Some 230,000 Polish prisoners of war were captured.  The campaign of mass persecution in the newly acquired areas began immediately. In November 1939 the Soviet government ostensibly annexed the entire Polish territory under its control. Some 13.5 million Polish citizens who fell under the military occupation were made into new Soviet subjects following mock elections conducted by the NKVD secret police in the atmosphere of terror, the results of which were used to legitimize the use of force. The Soviet campaign of ethnic cleansing began with the wave of arrests and summary executions of officers, policemen and priests.  Over the next year and a half, the Soviet NKVD sent hundreds of thousands of people from eastern Poland to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union in four major waves of deportation between 1939 and 1941.  Soviet forces occupied eastern Poland until the summer of 1941, when they were driven out by the invading German army in the course of Operation Barbarossa. The timing I don’t believe is coincidence.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 14th through 18th 2017”