Beyond the Cusp

September 5, 2021

No Patience for Nation Building

Filed under: Israel — qwertster @ 1:26 AM
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We are old enough to remember the days when Washington DC and the Federal Government talked about how much success the reforming of the Korean Peninsula, at least the parts of Korea south of the 38th-parallel-north-of-the-Equator, into a stable democratic nation standing freely on their own. A small hint about the most difficult part of nation building, American and Allied troops remain today assisting South Korea in defending their border with North Korea. We remember the initial injection of under five-hundred Special Forces advisors and trainers by President Dwight Eisenhower who would train and assist the South Vietnamese to resist a Communist takeover from North Viet Nam. This was also sold as nation building in a situation which should have led to a motivated indigenous military. Within twenty-years the American public fell to Communist propaganda and believed that America had just lost big during the Tet Offensive. The reality was that the initial nationwide attack did surprise the allies but by the end of the day, the North Vietnamese Army was devastated and would have been unable to mount any further assaults. The only hope the Communists had was for the American public to force an American defeat. The faith the Communists placed in the fickle, uneducated public unable to peer behind the Media-Communist confederation allied to bring down efforts to Democratize South Viet Nam was repaid in means far beyond their expectations as they were handed all of Viet Nam immediately behind the retreating American Military. Afghanistan was a simple application of the ‘Viet Nam Scenario’ for outwaiting the support of the American Public for continued efforts of nation building in Afghanistan. Media assistance and other means of influence echoed by the majority of the loudest mouths from Congress quickly led the public to desire addressing the growing problems perceived to be out of control and lacking equity which requires ending all support for Afghanistan. Reacting to the opinions massaged by the political-media campaign, President Biden made and stood steadfast behind the decision to remove all military forces without warning America’s allies, American and allied citizens as well as Afghan allies; the United States military pulled back to Kabul International Airport under the darkness and stillness of night leaving all equipment and friends hung-out-to-dry wherever they found themselves when the sun rose over a soon to be abandoned Afghanistan. The Taliban was being handed the victory of which they had never lost sight.

America Weeping
America Weeping

America Weeping

The Spanish knew how to nation build and did such in much of Central and Southern America. They managed their objectives through destroying or repurposing every part of the conquered people’s society, religion, governance, major buildings and destroying (or confiscating to be hidden in the Vatican’s vaults) all recorded religious, governmental and scientific knowledge replacing all sectors of the old society, especially governance and law enforcement, with those of their conquerors. The result of the Spanish and Portuguese used similar methods to pacify the conquered peoples by first drastically reducing the numbers of the native peoples and then intermarrying native women to their soldiers and other citizens from their home country in Europe. A very similar method for suppressing a conquered peoples is utilized by the Taliban; murdering great numbers of the native peoples to be pacified specifically males of fighting age and deposed politicians, forced marriages of conquered young women and even girls to their fighters, replacement of all levers of power and, finally, restricting religious and public life to the Taliban’s specific interpretation of Shariah. Their efforts will prove effective in short order as initially anyone deviating from accepted Taliban norms will be publicly shamed and potentially executed scaring a nervous passivity into the Afghan population.

The American methods for nation-building are far softer and less caustic to the native life. Yes, the United States national political structure installed governance under American influence, if not outright control. America, herself being founded on religious independence and freedom, do nothing to directly alter the religious practices in conquered peoples. This follows the British model of influencing conquered peoples and pacifying such lands. The British had an advantage apparently not available in our modern society, time, lots of time. The British established their empire back before anybody would have thought of making a trip around the world in eighty days while today such a trip can be accomplished in eighty-hours and everything has sped up as well including expectations of results. Unfortunately, the one item which still requires the amount of investment and time currently, as it did in the Eighteenth Century, is nation building. The British nation-building efforts in North America, Australia, New Zealand, India and beyond were performed during a near-three-century period of mainly European colonization around the world. The United States efforts at nation-building are failing largely because the United States refuses to use the brutality or suppression necessary for success. In order to succeed in nation-building, the occupying power(s) will be required to invest a concentrated century-long effort so as to have educated and normalized vast percentages of the population and the remainder accepting the new situation. Modern societies are not as patient as when the great period of nation-building, colonization, and would need to make a solemn multigenerational commitment as anything less is not only unfair and disastrous for the nation being built, but apparently can only result in a disastrous defeat and botched pullout of citizens and allied foreign nationals. This difficulty is still glaringly obvious in the debacle still unfolding. What is so totally frightening about the situation in Afghanistan is the vacuum left by the United States withdrawal. One can easily observe through minimal observation the steadfast devotion to their religious rule which leaves little if any doubt that they will accept any challenge to expand the regions ruled over by the Taliban. They have an endgame to their expansionist plans, Taliban Shariah imposed on every person on our planet as they intend to conquer and rule the entirety of the planet. We have some bad news for the Taliban; Mainland China also has designs to conquer and rule the planet and they are only supporting Taliban Afghanistan to be able to study the surrendered American equipment for reverse engineering and finding vulnerabilities. It is so sad that twenty years of freedom for Afghanistan only needed to last five times as long, a century, in order to have had even the slightest chance for permanence and success. Time speeds by too fast and the world is shrinking, approaching the point we will all have to find the means of mutual respect and support or a society ending in conflagration chancing the complete destruction of our modern society and returning the world to the Tenth Century. If this sounds too extreme to be true, trust the Chinese who have stated they have no qualms over first use of nuclear weapons and Iran plus Taliban claims that Nagasaki and Hiroshima were destroyed by nuclear weapons and also plan on using their nukes as an initial strike. Reality is often as messy as it is ugly, and currently it is becoming so disordered, chaotic and grotesquely distorted that many will refuse to look at the coming Taliban terror and expansive Chinese efforts in the Pacific Theater. Hopefully it is not too late to preserve liberty, freedom and unalienable rights.

Beyond the Cusp

June 2, 2017

Where Will the Spiraling End?

 

The United States new President, Donald Trump, apparently is not reacting to the threats from North Korea in the routine and usual manner, giving in and sending money, food and meet whatever demands are made by the current psychotic leader of that Communist death trap claims must be met or else he will destroy the world starting with South Korea and moving on to Japan and finally the United States. The past administrations have all responded with the goods every time the North Korean leader has rattle sabers making foul sounding threats if his little realm had used all the treasure from the previous confrontation has reached its end. This was the routine which wound itself repeatedly over time. Apparently, this time may end differently. First, China has called an end to their calling their attack-dog to heel and desist or even make an effort which also was a change in the normal routine. Everything appears as if the forces who might make a difference and avoid the most horrific of results has decided that they prefer to stand aside and see what the mettle of the new President is made of. The Chinese are preparing to sit this little game out and watch from the sidelines after making the feeblest of attempts to calm their friend to their south and instead allowed him to continue bellowing his threats. It appears that China is not receiving the reaction they expected as it was likely their impression that President Trump was not versed in the game of brinkmanship and would simply fold and give in to the threats from Kim Jong-un and provide North Korea with a renewed treasury, feed their starving masses and walk away simply licking his wounds and broken ego, tarnished reputation.

 

Apparently President Trump does not respond well to threats from a proven madman, a leader who has murdered a general for contradicting him, executed his uncle simply because he thought him a threat to his leadership and ordered the assassination of his half-brother in a foreign country so there could be no successor to his leadership other than whomever he should designate. President Trump initially sent the aircraft carrier fleet with the USS Carl Vinson and Kim Jong-un simply continued his ranting and threats. Then President Trump sent the aircraft carrier fleet with the USS Ronald Reagan and Kim Jong-un simply continued his ranting and threats. Now President Trump has further upped the anti and sent the aircraft carrier fleet with the USS Nimitz. We are willing to bet that Kim Jong-un could not care less and might even react unkindly or he might respond with more missile tests and possibly even a full-blown nuclear test. This situation, to put it mildly, is rapidly spiraling and where it might end is simply terrifying to imagine.

 

Kin Jong-un (김정은) is the grandson of Kim Il-Sung (김일성), the founder of North Korea; the son of Kim Jong-il (김정일), the second leader of North Korea, and is the current leader of North Korea, obviously. His threats are not to be taken so lightly as to make it appear that he is being taken lightly, something this ever-escalating response could impart. Seoul, South Korea, the national capital city is the first place threatened to be destroyed by Kim Jong-un, a threat he could carry out in under fifteen minutes from making the decision. North Korea has approximately 13,000 artillery pieces positioned along the border which could be fired striking Seoul leveling most of the capital city. Making matters even more troubling is the report by the Federation of American Scientists telling of the North Korean known quantities of anthrax, mustard gas, sarin, botulism and phosgene. Such weapons placed in artillery shells designed to release poison gas would not only permit Kim Jong-un to all but flatten Seoul, but to guarantee his artillery fire murdered most of the over ten-million people living within the city. That would be the opening scenario of Kin Jong-un deciding to raise President Trump’s move of positioning three aircraft carrier groups within striking distance of North Korea.

 

The Kim Family

 

The problem in this situation is that President Trump may have stated that all options are on the table, but this does not mean, as some in the media have claimed, that he is out looking for a fight, that he wants a war to prove something. The hope has to be on settling this problem, this saber rattling, with the least amount of violence and a lowering of the threat options. Unfortunately, this is apparently not going to be an option which either side is wishing to utilize, opting instead to raise the stakes, or at least the consequences, should the other side opt to initiate violence first. This is the idea behind placing so much power within the theater surrounding North Korea. This hopefully is the idea behind President Trump placing sufficient firepower within range of North Korea thus making any threats for use of force by Kim Jong-un suicidal at best and foolhardy at the least. The problem is that Kim Jong-un has all the classical signs of numerous psychological disorders one of which is obviously paranoia. A preliminary analysis of Kim Jong-un’s personality by Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics reveals him to apparently be agreeable, acquiescent, charming, placing a high premium on external approval, sympathetic to others’ needs and socially gregarious on the plus side along with a few other lesser traits resulting in an assessment that he is relinquishing too much authority, failing to assert himself sufficiently, delegating too much responsibility, as well as showing hesitation in taking the initiative when circumstances demand boldness or daring. As they say next, just who is really in charge and pulling the strings presumably controlling Kim Jong-un from the background.

 

North Korean Artillery Display

North Korean Artillery Display

 

Should this personality inventory be accurate, then there is an even greater danger in the threats emanating from North Korea, the person making them is hiding behind a figurehead which they are taking the precaution of making appear pompous and unpredictable. Hiding behind this figurehead making threats may make such a figure so assured of their safety from acting in the shadows that they might take chances believing that boldness would force President Trump to weaken and possibly fold or meet their demands with a simple promise from China that they have received assurances that if a basic set of demands were met by the west that North Korea would end their missile tests and enter negotiations over their nuclear program. Then it would be up to President Trump to react to such an offer. The main risk is that should they send a warning shot such as trading artillery fire as happened and reported in the New York Times on August 20, 2015 when the two nations still technically at war exchanged rocket and artillery fire in the first major armed clash across their border in five years. This was an exchange which reportedly resulted in no casualties and was a show of intent and test of wills and response. North Korea has taken an offensive stance with threatening with missile tests into the Pacific Ocean when testing potential ICBMs, shorter-range ballistic missiles towards the Sea of Japan to threaten Japan and claiming to be ready to test a new and more powerful nuclear weapon. The threat to Japan has been sufficient that the parliament has been deliberating to revise the Japanese stance since the end of World War II and enlarge their navy and other military strength beyond simple island protection in response to threats perceived from both North Korea and China.

 

China is another reason that President Trump may be placing so much naval and air power into the west Pacific Ocean near both China and North Korea. China has been extending claims challenging Islands claimed by Japan, Viet Nam, Taiwan and the Philippines. These challenges are in addition to their building islands in the South China Sea moving towards the East China Sea and militarizing many of these islands even to the point of placing airstrips on the larger of these water-bound embankments. This challenges one of the most heavily traversed sea-lanes in the world which handles close to one third of the sea trade making it as important as the Suez Canal, Strait of Hormuz which controls the world’s oil flow from the Middle East, and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait which controls the southern exit from the Red Sea into the Arabian Sea. Both the Strait of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait (see map below), through their control of Yemen using the Houthis Rebels, are currently under threat of control from Iran, an ally of North Korea, allowing the two to exchange information and technology regarding missiles and nuclear weapons as they share a common enemy, the United States and the Western world. Iran is also allied with Russia as well as China which makes for a real threat in response to the presumed former sole super-power, the United States. The power of the United States is formidable but would face a serious challenge from the combined strength and nuclear power of the combined forces of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. The real question could at some point become are Iran and/or North Korea really worth facing down the United States for either China or Russia, especially with a presumed unknown in President Trump whose most powerful weapon might be his reputation of being a bit of a hot-head.

 

Strait of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait

Strait of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait

 

Still, one can be assured that President Trump would be best served and likely prefer some assistance from China defusing the current situation with North Korea. What is troubling is if the situation is as the personality profile of Kin Jong-un is accurate and he really is just a puppet being worked by a rogue general or party official working from the presumed safety of anonymity, then President Trump and his advisers plus those in the Pentagon all actually are operating blind as they do not know who they are working against. It is difficult to find a solution if you have no real clue who is the operator on the other side. Kim Jong-un either completely baffled those trying to inventory his personality or is just as unstable as he appears or somebody finds it advantageous to make the ruler of North Korea appear unstable. All of this leads one to really feel that North Korea is, and will continue for the time being, one threat which is front and center. But if that does not frighten you, then keep in mind that standing right alongside them is Iran that has spread terror armies throughout the world and thought to have more operatives living under cover inside the United States simply waiting for the code for them to strike a predetermined target or even instructions of where to strike. They have a training center in South America in an area known as the Tri-Border Area which sits at the borders of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. And you thought that you could sleep comfortably tonight. Well, probably for tonight, but for how many more nights is the big question.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

August 8, 2016

China and Words Whispered on the Winds

 

For as long as there have been predictive winds of the economic variety, the prediction has been whispered from quiet corners to shouted from the rooftops claiming this would be the time that China was finally going to pay for their economic shenanigans and face economic collapse. We have been extremely quiet about these predictions of doom on the horizon as the one thing the Chinese had been very adept at was finding some manner of continuing to meet predicted gains month after month, year after year. Their predictive gains have become somewhat more reasonable from the early 1990s where the reported gains stood around 11% to this past year where they reported merely 6% and are continuing to predict this can be continued. The problem the Chinese leadership is facing is they have pretty much run out of rabbits to pull from their hat and it is time to accept that even in China there can be a recession. But perhaps a little look back might help to explain.

 

China had some really rough years where Chairman (and virtual god) Mao Zedong was the absolute ruler and was executing the usual five year plans which are so precious to so many dictators. Equally precious to such five year plans is that they completely and utterly destroy the national economy and tens of millions die of starvation and other privations. The Chinese have literally tried everything in order to assure that whomever was at the top made a relatively high prediction of economic growth even to have gone to a fairly complete privatization resorting to a market based free enterprise system which had kept growth at around six to as high as nine percent for the past decade plus. To continue reaching such unrealistic goals the Chinese government has gone so far as to build entire cities where nobody was going to live just to add to profits. This also assisted the areas of the Chinese economy which is dependent on the price of copper. Building cities, even those nobody is going to inhabit, still required a fair amount of copper to install all the wiring necessary for a modern environment and using so much copper supports a higher price aiding the Chinese economic indicators.

 

Can the Chinese leadership find some miracle to pull off continued reported gains? Of course they can. After all, lying is always an option and that will work until the people rise up and overthrow the government demanding real and honest leadership. The Chinese watched the breakup of the Soviet Union and know that a contributing factor was pretending they could manipulate and lie their way to prosperity and the people would not be bothered by their lies. Apparently they were misled and paid the consequences. The problem in Russia was despite the change in governance there was little change in who governed and who owned all the wealth. China has wisely decentralized their economy and relied on free market principles throughout almost all sectors of their economy.

 

The Chinese leaders have found the one main problem with a free market economy, eventually even these engines need to cool off for a while and that causes an unavoidable recession. This creates one big headache for the leadership in China; they are expected to show profits and economic growth of at least five to six percent every year, period. That will be a real stretch in the next couple of years as their free market sector has reached the apex as things stand and now need to cool the system and take a few quarters, possibly a year or even two of reset and a settling of the economy before the next drive and prosperity again making all happy. The problem is the Chinese Communist Party insists in progress and growth every year or else heads will roll. In China, that is meant quite literally, thus the excessive need to find some way or reporting progress and gains in the economy. This would have been less of a problem had the economy not been buoyed with false growth figures in construction of uninhabited cities and the enforcement of a one child policy cause a drastic set of circumstances. Now China is facing a recession with a glut of male children entering adult life with poor prospects for matrimony coupled with an economic downturn thus even their rescinding the one child policy, it came far too late for these men in a society bereft of women. This adds another component which historically has almost always been solved in the same manner, finding a means of sacrificing a significant number of male citizens between the ages of twelve to twenty-something. That method has always been war.

 

This brings us to another side of China of late, pressing her claims to areas beyond her natural borders and the stationing of troops as a provocation on these fronts. Much of these provocations have been taken in the South China Sea where Chinese activities and demands are threatening long existent and heavily traveled sea trade routes. Add in the Spratly Islands which are claimed somewhat obviously by the Philippines and Viet Nam and add in China and you have instant conflict. This conflict over the Spratly Islands goes far further than the land based claims as should China successfully claim the islands they would also set solid their claim to the South China Sea as their own little private bathtub square in the middle of some of the most heavily travelled sea lanes in the world. This would allow China to control these sea lanes demanding taxes be paid on all cargo, disrupt naval exercises and travel in what are considered as international waters and be a provocation to war all rolled up in one package. The Spratly Islands are likely the end goal of the island building exercises taken by China in the South China Sea and could quickly escalate into an open confrontation should China use their newly built Blue Water Navy to enforce their claims to these waters. Additionally, there are the conflicting claims over the Diaoyu Islands as the Chinese claim and the Senkaku Islands as the Japanese claim (see map below). These two sets of claims are both very sensitive areas but thus far the Chinese appear to be more concerned with their claims for the Spratly Islands as they would cement the South China Sea as strictly Chinese and thus grant China control of the busiest Asian sea lanes and one of the most heavily traveled sea lanes internationally. This might also be the case simply due to the Japanese having a far more developed naval capability compared to Viet Nam and the Philippines and nothing more.

 

Diaoyu Islands as the Chinese Claim Senkaku Islands as the Japanese Claim

Diaoyu Islands as the Chinese Claim
Senkaku Islands as the Japanese Claim

 

The likelihood of an actual war breaking out over the Spratly Islands is considered by many to be a remote possibility. Of course the possibility of China building an island chain to the Spratly Islands and then placing Chinese troops, aircraft and shore batteries and placing naval assets moored to the Spratly Islands is also considered remote. The potential for open conflict with the Philippines calling in their support guaranteed by the United States could be a potential for a quickly escalating situation over the South China Sea, an area the United States desires to be open and free of any interference with trade as much as anybody. Even the Japanese have direct concerns over the Chinese increased territorial claims into the South China Sea. This could easily become a future flashpoint though such is unlikely until some situation would force the United States to emphasize their presence elsewhere pulling assets out of the western Pacific region. One such scenario would be a war in the Middle East threatening the oil shipments from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf oil kingdoms where the United States would also be bound by treaty obligations. With the current United States Navy cut down to well under former levels of actual warships and also less support vessels meaning that the Navy would not be capable of staging on two separate fronts without leaving large segments of the world outside the reach of American naval assets. This is the situation faced currently as the number of front-line aircraft carriers has been reduced such that with one being refurbished then there would not be a full battle group to send into a crisis area forcing the redistribution of assets from areas considered less threatened, though where that might be is a difficult judgement in itself.

 

China is facing economic downturn for the immediate future barring some unforeseen manipulation of forced conflict requiring wartime production which would permit direct government infusions stimulating the economy in an unnatural means which would only make recovery from such a step even more drastic when the correction comes. No nation can continuously show the kinds of gains China has claimed indefinitely and eventually there must be a cooling-off period as the market resets and decides on its next direction for expansion. China did have the advantage of not being a modern, first-world economy after World War II and then struggling through the Mao Zedong five year plan years where things actually managed to worsen thus allowing for a long stretch of recovery, modernization and finally incorporating free market principles and now China is at a top point from which a reset is long, long overdue and pretty much unavoidable short of declaring war. One hopes that even China has progressed beyond using war as an economic stimulus where all markets are crashed to support the war effort allowing for a period of growth and rebuilding when the war is over. One had also best pray that the same is true in the Middle East where the people have reached the end of patience with dictators and are revolting in nation after nation which could threaten to engulf the Middle East, North, the Horn and parts of Central Africa and potentially Europe starting from Turkey and moving westward and northward and even including Russia in a bid to regain some of the lost power of the Soviet Era. Any blow-up in the Middle East and affected areas could be exactly the opening China would need to cement their claims to the waters and international shipping lanes of the western Pacific-Indian Ocean routes and disrupting world trade in hopes of using taxation of trade and other measures to continue to show profits at any cost. As long as tariffs and trade wars are considered a viable economic tool to be found in some national tool kits, then the world is still a dangerous place as long as that remains so.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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