sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, June 14, 2019

Iranian Mischief

Ever since the Gulf of Tonkin Incident (fake news) dragged us into war in Viet Nam, I have looked at these predicates for war with a very jaundiced eye. You see, there is a tendency among Americans to trust their government, their leaders, and to follow somewhat blindly. So I always urge caution.

You've read about it in the news and I don't have much to offer beyond what is circulating. Two tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman by Iran and the crews have been evacuated. .

Imagery showed one ship, the Front Altair, on fire, drifting and in danger of sinking. The other ship is the Kokuka Courageous, which is reported to be drifting.

The US released a video that the US says shows an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) boat alongside the Kokuka Courageous, removing an unexploded limpet mine before the tanker was attacked. 

The US Secretary of State said US intelligence pointed to Iran as being responsible for the attacks. 
"This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication," Pompeo said.
Assuming the identification of the boat in the video is accurate, this attack was the work of an element of the IRGC.

What should the US do?

Is it 'our fight'? No American ships, citizens or territory was involved and the oil was headed for Asia. National Security Advisor John Bolton is pushing for war with Iran. But the aggrieved nations are Norway (who leased the ship to a Taiwan firm) and Japan. Japanese Prime Minister was in Teheran holding talks with the Iranian Supreme Leader. Message sent and received.

If Japan wants oil, let them buy it from the USA. The same for Taiwan. We are now exporting energy, you know, and with Canada have by far the largest proven reserves on the planet.

And that applies to all nations that would rather not have their ships damaged/sunk by Iran. Just boycott Iranian oil. Buy from the USA. That will solve the problem and the US doesn't need to worry about a crazy, costly war.








Modern China

Social Credit Scoring

It's already in place in much of China and based upon discussions that I've had with people in major cities in China, the coercion is in place and it depending on where you stand, it works. The system ranks everyone based on their social credit. If you marry somebody that is not Han Chinese, your ranking drops. If you criticize the local or national government, that all-important ranking drops. And so forth.

As with private credit scores, a person's social score can move up and down depending on their behavior. The exact methodology is a secret. However playing games on the Internet too long, buying luxury items in excess (unless you're elite), a bad driving record, posting on social media, etc. will spike your score. And everyone knows that if you're part of the party elite, the rules do not apply.

Naturally. A bad social credit score can keep you from traveling on a train, restricting your travel outside of China, reducing your internet speed, banning you and your family from attending good schools, 17 people who refused to carry out military service last year were barred from enrolling in higher education, applying for high school, or continuing their studies, Beijing News. You can't register to stay in a nice hotel, can't get better paying jobs, and being black listed publicly/socially shamed. There are also incidents reported where the government will take your dog from you because of your low score. Want a credit card, so sorry. Orwellian tactics are alive and well. Yet, it's the Red China blues for those who are not elite, and are subject to the often subjective social score.

Intentional Ramming

On June 9, a Chinese fishing boat struck and sank a Philippine fishing boat in the Spratly Islands. The Philippine boat sank off Reed Bank in the Spratly Islands, and the Chinese boat left the area without attempting to rescue 22 fishermen in the water. Typical behavior of the Navy of the People's Republic of China (all "civilian" Chinese fishing boats are part of the Chinese Navy).

A Vietnamese ship operating nearby rescued the Philippine crew.

The action most annoying to the Manila government is the Chinese abandonment of the Filipino fisherman in the sea. That establishes a preliminary basis for culpability, if not deliberation.

This year Chinese boats, coast guard ships and navy ships have become more aggressive in the Spratly Islands as US and allied ships have increased their freedom of navigation and other operations.

The Chinese fishing boats backed by coast guard or naval ships have driven Philippine fishing boats from Scarborough Shoal and other fishing grounds. A deliberate ramming is certainly not unprecedented. 

The Philippines are learning the disconnect between Chinese diplomatic entreaties and maritime practices. It's all part of the Long March, to make the world China.

Hong Kong

The Chief Executive closed Hong Kong government offices for the rest of the week. The Legislative Council has not yet announced when it will next attempt to convene a session to debate the extradition amendments.

Some demonstrators said they will return to the streeets to prevent that from taking place. The Civil Human Rights Front, one of the organizers, said it has applied for a demonstration permit for another mass rally on Sunday, the 16th.

China - Helping to Make Japan Great Again

A US and Japanese naval task group is operating in the South China Sea. The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’s (JMSDF’s) aircraft-carrying destroyer, JS Izumo (DH-183), held a joint naval exercise in the South China Sea from 10 to 12 June. 

The USS Ronald Reagan, JS Izumo, JS Akebono (DD-108), and JS Murasame (DD-101) conducted communication checks, tactical maneuvering drills and liaison officer exchanges designed to address common maritime security priorities and enhance interoperability at sea.

An open source naval locator map placed the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group in the South China Sea, south of the Paracels, east of central Vietnam. The Chinese have not yet commented on this show of force.

The JS Izumo, at 27,000 tons, is the largest naval combatant in the JMSDF for now. However, the Japanese government has approved the construction of two full-size aircraft carriers. 

For most of the post-World War II era, no Asians, including the Japanese, sought the reconstitution of Japanese naval power. Chinese leaders were in the forefront in denouncing any Japanese military activity outside Japan, regularly reminding Japanese leaders to review their recent history and its outcome.  But China is working hard now to convince the Japanese that they need to build a navy to halt China's imperialism.

For a time, North Korea seemed like a primary driver in Japanese military development, after it test launched a ballistic missile over Japan in 1998. Despite Kim Jong Un’s aggressive missile test program in 2016 and 2017, the Chinese naval threat emerged to eclipse the North Koreans.

China is a bad neighbor, unless you want to be folded into the worker's paradise and ship your money along the Belt Road to China.