Sunday, February 26, 2017

US Navy's Own Report Indicates Washington is Looking for a Pacific Fight

February 27, 2017 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - The Pacific Ocean is large. Since World War II, weapon systems operating in this theater have required special provisions regarding extensive range, long duration performance and relative self-sufficiency during operations.

From America's Gato-class submarines and PBY Catalina flying boats used to fight the Japanese and reassert American hegemony across Asia-Pacific during WWII, to America's continued presence in Japan, South Korea and islands throughout the region, it is clear the lengths the US has gone through then and now to remain "engaged" in the Pacific.

More recently, a report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), commissioned by the US Navy titled, "Restoring American Seapower: A New Fleet Architecture for the United States Navy," obsesses over not how to defend American shores, but how to remain involved in Asia-Pacific despite the immense distances between there, and America.

The report's introduction includes:
Great power competitors such as China and Russia increased their military capabilities over the last two decades and now appear willing to challenge the international order. 
However, the report never addresses Chinese or Russian forces landing on American shores, or even threatening to do so. Rather, the report revolves around maintaining hegemony within spheres of influence much more appropriately (and likely inevitably) Chinese or Russian.

The report coins a term, "deny-and-punish" to describe the use of US power abroad to "stop aggression," not in defense of America itself, but in "adjacent theaters." Ironically, the report cites Iraq as an example, a nation the US, not China nor Russia, invaded, occupied and destroyed with considerable, unchallenged "aggression."

A more specific point in the 162-page report picked out by The National Interest in an article titled, "How to Guarantee America's Aircraft Carriers Can Fight China in a War," involves long-range air sorties of up to 2,000 miles.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Showdown Over Krabi Coal Power Plant

Protests without solutions only add to the problem. Solutions without the voice and support of media and activists, toil in obscurity. 

February 20, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) - The people of Thailand's southern province of Krabi attempting to prevent the construction of a coal power plant, have been let down by both the government and the professional protesters that have attached themselves to their cause.

Image: Coal is not the answer, but what is the answer? Greenpeace's campaigns fall short of answering that question. While they have done much to raise awareness, their organization's influence and resources would be better utilized in creating solutions, rather than endlessly enumerating problems. 
For the government's part, they have inherited a system racked by years of turmoil, inefficiency, corruption, and lack of vision. They've been left few choices for expanding much needed power production for Thailand's southern provinces beyond coal, oil, and gas.

The Ministry of Energy could have and should have done more to promote the expansion of alternative energy, the decentralization of energy production, and invested in education and development programs to expand the pool of human resources required for an alternative energy revolution in Thailand.

Amid the few programs the Ministry of Energy is assisting in, the impact has been very positive.

At the very least, the government could have and should have eliminated regulatory obstacles standing in the way of individuals and communities seeking to decentralize power production and switch over to alternative energy themselves. They can now, and should.

For the professional protesters who have attached themselves to the people of Krabi and their opposition to the new coal power plant, they have failed utterly to communicate the larger context the Krabi protest fits into, or present solutions and alternatives to both the public and policymakers.

The protests have dragged on for years and consumed massive amounts of energy and resources - years, energy, and resources that could have been used by these professional protesters to promote solutions and alternatives, to create models and demonstrations of these alternatives, and to build up pragmatic networks of alternative energy activists across the provinces the Krabi coal plant is meant to eventually power.

Ultimately, the expansion of power production must move forward. Power production is the key to economic development, something the people of Thailand's southern provinces need much more urgently than a single tourist attraction in Krabi.

A Lost Battle Does Not Necessarily Mean Losing the War 

In wars, the wise strategist knows when to cut their losses, retreat, and retrench. Investing everything into a single lost battle, or a Pyrrhic victory, only ensures that the war itself is ultimately lost.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

North Korean Paranoia is Well-Founded

February 15, 2017 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - North Korea is depicted across US and European media as a backward nation run by a despotic, delusional leader encircled by advisers suffering from irrational, militant paranoia. The nation is also depicted as a prominent security threat in Asia-Pacific despite North Korea waging no wars in the region since an armistice in 1953 effectively ended the Korean War.

A despotic, delusional leadership, however, most likely would not possess nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and a large conventional army and yet restrain its use regardless of decades of provocations engineered along its borders by the United States and its allies within the South Korean government. Likewise, a nation governed by the entirely irrational would be incapable of maintaining, even expanding ties with neighboring states like China.

Yet in reality, North Korea has done all of this.

Much of the US and Europe's accusations are predicated on the continued development of North Korea's defense programs including advances in nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles. Strategically omitted from US and European rhetoric are the provocations the West itself is guilty of, spurring along North Korea's expanding militarization.

What if, then, North Korea's allegedly irrational paranoia was well-founded?

As former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's health deteriorated, the United States and its regional allies began planning quite openly for an opportunity to overturn the North Korean state.  US-based think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), would publish a 2009, 60-page report titled, "Preparing for Sudden Change in North Korea," in which scenarios for the full-scale invasion, occupation and subjugation of North Korea were laid out.

The report included recommendations for an invasion and occupation force it called a "stabilization force," of up to 460,000 US and allied troops.

Considering that, by 2009, the United States had already successfully invaded, occupied and destroyed the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan, it would not be "irrational" at all for North Korean paranoia to reach new heights.

The missing ingredients Iraq and Afghanistan had in facing US invasion were substantial defense programs that could deter US aggression. North Korea's possession of increasingly sophisticated nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles means that the price, each year, rises for any attempted implementation of the plans included in the CFR's 2009 report.