sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, July 18, 2016

South China Sea Update

While the RNC is struggling with parliamentary issues raised by the "never Trump" contingent, China is playing its own games. Never fear, the parties in Cleveland will rage on into the night as hookers and hoteliers rake in the cash.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the two airstrips in the Spratly Islands that were calibrated for civilian passenger aircraft were Subi Reef and Mischief Reef. An Airbus 319 and a Boeing 737 landed and took off from the airstrips before returning to Hainan. The aircraft were chartered by South China Airlines.

The Xinhua report confirmed that China now has three operational airstrips. The first to become active is the airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef, which was tested for operability in January. Xinhua also reported the flight from Hainan Island to Mischief reef one-way took two hours.

Mischief Reef was central to the Philippine case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration which ruled that the Chinese presence is in violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Chinese continue to stress the usefulness of their improvements for civilian purposes. The business plan for the Spratlys would be interesting to read. Perhaps the Chinese would allow Philippine civilian aircraft to land at Mischief Reef to boost revenue.
When you consider that the Chinese stripped the reefs of fish though the use of demolitions and dredging, there is very little tourist value there. Imagine that?

Aborted Coup-de-Etat (analysis)

The Turkish armed forces released a statement that the attempted coup d’etat officially ended at 16:30 local time on the 17th. However, the government deployed 1,800 special police forces to Istanbul to protect government buildings and critical installations.
President Erdogan was quoted as describing the coup attempt as “a gift from god to cleanse the army.”
Some in the US are concerned that their own government gave the green light to the dissenters within the Turkish Army, all the while knowing that the coup was a sham and a trap. I think that those concerns are justified. The European intelligence agencies would agree with you if that's what you think.
News agencies have reported the public details of the coup and counter-coup. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said authorities have detained 6,000 people. Reportedly another 3,000 are wanted. The BBC reported those under arrest include 29 generals and 20 colonels. Some 2,700 judges have been removed from office. The judges are employees of the Justice Ministry. As a profession, since at least 2010, their rulings in a variety of cases have blocked some of Erdogan’s initiatives that departed from or contravened Turkey’s secular constitution.
Several pointed out the irony that Erdogan has tried to suppress social media, but had to rely on an iPhone to rally support for a countercoup. 

The mosques received and responded to Erdogan’s iPhone message. Their broadcast summoned the devout into the streets at 01:30 in response to Erdogan’s appeal to the population to resist the coup. Without the broadcasts from the mosques, the coup might have succeeded. Little basis remains for arguing that the majority of Turks are committed to the secular ideals of Ataturk.

Late information indicates that a coup team attempted to capture Erdogan on the night of the 15th, but he narrowly escaped. Another report is that his executive jet and its F-16 escorts were intercepted by pro-coup pilots, also flying F-16s, who did not shoot them down. A successful decapitation operation might have altered the outcome of the coup attempt.

Erdogan’s gloat over the army is a portent of a devastating purge. The Turkish armed forces will be of little value to NATO until the so-called cleansing is complete. The security forces will be distracted from counter-terrorism work by the need to watch the army.
Concerning Erdogan’s program to pass an Islamist constitution and institutionalize other Islamist practices, the countercoup provided a stronger mandate to Islamize the Turkish constitution than Erdogan could have expected in a national referendum. Erdogan’s government will become more authoritarian. 
If Erdogan accelerates Turkey’s conversion to an Islamist state, he might rethink last week’s hints of normalized ties with Syria and Iraq. Thousands of Muslim men saved Erdogan’s government. He might interpret that as divine guidance.
One of the generals under arrest is the former commander of Incirlik Air Base. That is the Turkish air base that the US uses for air operations over Syria. One or two Turkish officials implied that the US was sympathetic to the plotters or had knowledge of the coup attempt and did not warn Turkey.

Turkish relations with Russia are likely to improve. On Russia's initiative, Russian President Putin had a telephone conversation with the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to Russian official media. 
“In connection with the attempt in the early hours on 16 July to overthrow Turkey's democratically elected authorities with the use of force, Vladimir Putin stressed Russia's position of principle that anti-constitutional actions and violence are categorically unacceptable in the life of a state.”
Several commentators over the weekend discerned similarities between the governments of Putin and Erdogan as sham democracies that thinly cover authoritarian governments. The similarities are a matter of style, not substance. Erdogan is motivated by Islamic devotion in his practice of power politics. Turkey has supported Islamic terrorism in Syria, which puts him on the opposite side of Putin and Russia. He might interpret the survival of his regime as a sign that he should continue that support.

Putin’s ideal is a modern version of czarist Russia. He recognizes when a beleaguered neighbor and former enemy would be grateful for an outreach, especially when it would annoy NATO.


One side benefit of having traveled widely is that I get reports from people I know who are on the ground - just about everywhere. Bartholomew, Patriarch of Constantinople, the first among equals and head of the Eastern Orthodox Church, left Turkey about an hour before the coup. He's in a safe refuge in Slovenia now.

Orthodox friends of mine from Greece and elsewhere have been discussing how they anticipate persecution from the Turks now that Erdogan will be establishing a caliphate in Turkey. The Turks have a tradition of persecuting and killing Christians (recall the Christian Armenians who were slaughtered in vast numbers by the Turks in that genocide.) I don't know if will happen on that scale again. 1.5 million dead Christians is a lot of bodies to cover up in this day and age, but with European governments willing to look the other way, a sharia compliant UK and the Obama Administration willing to look the other way, who knows?


Gavin Long called himself "Cosmo Setepenra"
Gavin Eugene Long, alias Cosmo Setepenra (right) was killed in Baton Rouge, LA after he ambushed and killed three police officers and injured three more.

We know that Long was a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and that he advocated violence against white police officers. It's ironic that one of the police officers that he murdered was also black.

I find it odd that the media didn't broadcast a photo of him. It doesn't take long for them to put pictures of white police officers allegedly doing something wrong on the screen (far before any investigation is complete.) I wonder why that is?

Long is dead and some clever Baton Rouge police officer saved the taxpayers a lengthy trial (during which there is no doubt that Black Lives Matter would have protested the prosecution).

Barack helped whip up hatred and now he's trying half heartedly to walk it back. It plays well to Trump/Pence and their law and order platform.

The sniper/assassins torpedo their movement by de-legitimizing something that wasn't all that legitimate in the first place. Now if you march for blacklivesmatters, you label yourself as a bloodthirsty Afro-American who wants to kill the police who are protecting you. Meanwhile, there are the conventions, coming up.