sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

International View

Since the corrupt, elite, lying, sly, mainstream media is so focused on spurious allegations of possible misconduct while at a drinking party during Judge Brett Kavanaugh's years, and nothing else, I thought that a brief update might be in order today.

Token Measures

The activities between South and North Korea are tokens, but set in a larger context, they are moves in what COULD be a positive direction. There are still very different agendas of who will run a unified Korea...but that's off in the future.

On 24 September, South Korea's National Defense Minister, Jeong Kyeong-doo, said South Korea will discuss with North Korea and the UN Command the removal of arms from the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom. Last week, South and North Korea agreed to begin to remove landmines near the Joint Security Area from 1 to 20 October as the first step in removing arms from the Area.

Ceasing military training near the Military Demarcation Line and with drawing some guard posts. The leaders of South and North Korea agreed to halt military drills near the Military Demarcation Line and withdraw some border guard posts as part of efforts to reduce military tensions, prevent accidental clashes and build trust. 

Minister Jeong visited another front-line unit where he instructed troops to come up with thorough measures to keep readiness even if some border guard posts are withdrawn.

Most of the measures are symbolic. For example, the Demilitarized Zone often has been described as the most heavily mined real estate in the world. And yet the mine fields have not deterred North Korean defectors from crossing into South Korea on occasion. Apparently maps of safe zones are available on the North Korean side of the DMZ, which means the South Koreans also have them.

The South Korea is pushing ahead with swift implementation of these low-cost gestures. That should enable negotiators to move past the trust-building phase and start determining whether a substantive tension reduction phase even exists. 

US-China Relations

China announced on 25 September it cancelled a planned visit to Hong Kong by the USS Wasp next month.

"The Chinese Government did not approve a request for a US port visit to Hong Kong by the USS Wasp,” according to a Pentagon spokesman. The USS Wasp is a large amphibious assault ship, capable of carrying 2,000 Marines and dozens of helicopters. It is based in Japan. It looks like a straight-deck aircraft carrier.

China also cancelled a scheduled visit to the US by its top naval officer. Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong was due to meet with Chief of National Operations Admiral John Richardson on the sidelines of a symposium at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

The US has given China multiple reasons for lashing out. They include the US initiative to establish a fairer trade regime; The trade tariffs and the new and more intense prohibitions on any tech transfer to China along with President Trump's resolve against China in his address to the UN General Assembly; the imposition of sanctions for buying Russian arms in violation of US sanctions on Russia; and the announcement of a $330 million military parts sale to Taiwan.
Spokesman Geng Shuang said, “On 22 September, deputy director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of China's Central Military Commission summoned the acting defense attaché of the US Embassy in China and lodged solemn representations and protests against the US side's announcement of sanctions on the Equipment Development Department of the Central Military Commission and its person in charge.” 
“During representations, the relevant person in charge of the military stated the Chinese side's solemn position and explicitly announced that the Chinese side would immediately call back Navy Commander Shen Jinlong, who is attending the 23rd International Seapower Symposium and planning to visit the United States. This has been made very clearly in a relevant news release.” 
“As to the issue of US warship calling in Hong Kong you mentioned, the Chinese side reviews and approves such request in accordance with the principle of sovereignty and specific situation on a case-by-case basis.”
The last time the Chinese denied a port call by a US aircraft carrier was in 2016. After the US protested Chinese claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea, Chinese authorities denied a port call by the USS John C. Stennis task group.

Canceling a port call by an aircraft carrier task group is a minor economic crisis for Hong Kong because US sailors spend more than a $1 million a day in the local economy. The main victim of Admiral Shen’s recall is Admiral Shen. The Chinese seem to be conveying their displeasure by punishing themselves. These are face-saving gestures. The real message is that Chinese leaders want to avoid expanding the trade dispute into other areas of contact or cooperation but might have no choice.

Russia-Syria

In his 24 September statement, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia will provide an S-300 air defense system to the Syrian military within the next two weeks. 

He also said the Russians will equip all headquarters of the Syrian Air Defense Forces (SADF) with automated process-control systems. According to Shoigu, Russia’s intention is to provide the SADF with better intelligence and targeting information and integrating it with the Russian military group based at Hmeimim, south of Latakia.

He also indicated that the Russian EW system will suppress communications, radars and satellite navigation of combat aircraft involved in any attacks on Syria from the eastern Mediterranean.

According to the pro-Assad web site South Front, local sources and international observers already noted an increase in the activity of transport aviation at Russia’s Hmeimim Air Base. Other reports stated that at least 8 Su-30SM and Su-35 fighter jets had been deployed for combat missions in Syrian airspace. 

The Russians are undertaking a major upgrade of their air defense system in Syria. They also appear to be rebuilding or updating the existing Syrian system and linking it to theirs. The reference to the eastern Mediterranean Sea signifies that the upgrades are aimed at aircraft of the US-led coalition as well as the Israelis.

It is surprising to me that the Russians had not established a more robust air defense umbrella when they arrived in September 2015 and especially after the Turks downed a Russian Su-24 in November 2015. Now the issue will be how well the Israelis can suppress their upgraded air defenses to attack Iranian targets in Syria.