China and Russia are meeting in Beijing to discuss a huge energy deal whose purpose is to replace sanction-driven reductions in demands from Europe with sales to China. But the Chinese are reportedly driving a hard bargain on price, citing cheaper gas from the United States. It is ironic that the most effective American leverage over Russia comes from instruments the Obama administration did not want.
China and Russia’s Gazprom are making a final push to clinch a long-delayed natural gas deal but have yet to iron out price differences, a Beijing official said on Wednesday, ahead of next week’s state visit by Russian president Vladimir Putin….
Putin could yet clinch the gas deal next week and reinforce his repeated assertions that Russia wants to divert some oil and gas flows from European markets towards growing Asian nations …
Sources in Beijing have told Reuters that China remains under no pressure to sign the deal as the prospects of cheaper imports have risen on the back of growing North American gas exports and rising supplies from Turkmenistan.
But influence based on petroleum remains evil, as the David Unger’s article in the Christian Science Monitor reminds us. “A Turkey coal mine explosion Tuesday lies at the intersection of the country’s soaring energy demand and lax mining safety rules. Coal mine safety has improved dramatically in the US and parts of Europe, but it remains a very risky enterprise in economies eager for the cheap form of fuel.”
The Left has demonized coal, gas, oil and nuclear power. Now that they need it, these are very inconvenient to invoke. But with the worrying turn of events in Ukraine as “Pro-Russian separatists ambushed a convoy of Ukrainian troops Tuesday”, according to the Washington Post, they just might have choke down their sobs and say, “drrrilll, b..bbabby … drrilll”.
About 30 militants armed with automatic weapons and grenade launchers struck a convoy carrying paratroopers as it was approaching a bridge near the village of Oktyabrsk, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on its Web site.
A grenade struck one armored personnel carrier’s engine, the ministry said, and rebels opened fire as Ukrainian troops tried to move the crippled vehicle out of the way. Six soldiers were killed in the ambush, and one later died of his injuries, local media reported.
It underscores the growing danger and the current lack of effective options to stop the bad guys of the world. This deficiency was evident in an article by Andrew Langer in the National Review suggesting the deployment of American troops in Ukraine
He notes that sanctions have failed to dampen the fires and so suggests an American troop deployment almost as an act of desperation. “Korea offers a useful lesson: Following the cessation of active hostilities there, U.S. forces remained on the ground in Korea. Today, they still remain, as a bulwark against North Korean aggression. …Placing a strong U.S. presence in Ukraine now would be a show of force that Vladimir Putin could understand.”
But Korea offers up another lesson. The danger of deploying from a position of weakness; of a token force sent far forward without the muscle to back it up; of the perils of upping the ante without a dime in your pocket. For the Obama administration is most definitely bust, and has rightly come under criticism for making “bang” sounds with their mouths as as a substitute for real action.
Langer will remember that other lesson of Korea; the sad fate of Task Force Smith. This ill-starred unit of 400 US Army troops, culled from occupation troops in Japan, were sent to stem the North Korean juggernaut in the first days of the Korean War, though it hadn’t the slightest military hope in hell of resisting the masses of tank-equipped armies rolling down the peninsula.
The first units of the 24th Infantry Division left Itazuke Air Base in Japan on June 30. Task Force Smith, named for its commander, consisted of 406 men of the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, as well as 134 men of A Battery, 52nd Field Artillery Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Miller O. Perry. The forces were both poorly equipped and understrength: 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry had only two companies of infantry (B and C Company), as opposed to the regulation three for a U.S. Army battalion. The battalion had half of the required number of troops in its Headquarters Company, half of a communications platoon, and half of a heavy weapons platoon, which was armed with six obsolescent M9A1 Bazooka rocket launchers, two 75mm recoilless rifles, two 4.2 inch mortars, and four 60mm mortars. Much of this equipment was drawn from the rest of the under-strength 21st….
Most of the soldiers of the Task Force were teenagers with no combat experience and only eight weeks of basic training. Only one third of the officers in the Task Force had combat experience from World War II, and only one in six enlisted soldiers had combat experience. Many of them nevertheless volunteered to join the task force. The soldiers were each equipped with only 120 rounds of ammunition and two days of C-rations.
What was Washington thinking? Whatever they were thinking, reality didn’t care. The results were predictable. The Nokors steamrollered Task Force Smith, which demonstrated the real cost of lowering your guard with a lion still roaming the vicinity. Washington wanted a peace dividend after World War 2. What they got was the Korean War, still technically in progress to this day.
Whatever message deploying a token force to Ukraine might send is being walked back by the weakness the administration is projecting everywhere else. The Navy has announced plans to lay up 11 cruisers and 3 amphibians as part of their cost-cutting efforts. Who thinks Putin is too stupid to know what that means?
Everywhere one looks, Obama’s triumphs are turning out to be the Potemkin villages they always were. UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has given up trying to mediate in Syria, citing his powerlessness and fear that chemical weapons (remember the ones whose destruction Obama claimed to have negotiated) are back. Now the UN has announced that it cannot verify whether Iran has been cheating on its nuclear program. “A once-promising U.N. attempt to probe suspicions that Tehran worked on atomic arms is faltering — and with it, hopes that Iran and six world powers can meet their July target date for an overarching nuclear deal.”
The danger of Iranian cheating won’t stop the administration. They need the deal too much. “Iranian Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently said the talks are progressing at an ‘unexpectedly fast pace.’” The administration needs the piece of paper, it craves the fake triumph on Twitter. Without that what else have they got?
Task Force Smith was the 1950s version of hashtag diplomacy, the Sad Face Washington showed to Kim Il Sung, Mao and Stalin. But Sad Faces don’t always deter the bad guys. Even al-Qaeda, which President Obama declared dead, seems to be walking abroad openly. They don’t even care what people think if they kidnap 300 girls and force them to convert to Islam, prior to selling them on the slave market. The Left will — and has — blamed it on global warming.
The official truth is that al-Qaeda has been defeated. Reality is rather different. History shows the truth wins at last.
Only after the soldiers of Task Force Smith were buried did the real task of defending the Korean peninsula begin. Truman, shocked by the inability of the B-36 to prevent invasion and watching the rabble of a dying South Korea driven into the Pusan peninsula, turned to the admirals whose navy he had been progressively shrinking and said the words he never thought to say: “where are the carriers?”
Where is our strength?
And maybe it won’t be carriers that are wanted today, but the structure of the situation will be the same. After the hashtags and the spin and fake agreements fail, after all the B.S. has come and gone, there will still be the Real Problem waiting for the Real Solution. One needs more than the skill at campaigning to be president; Obama also needs to do the job.
Mark Murray of MSNBC makes the case that current setbacks are the strongest argument for electing Hillary Clinton in 2016. They need more time, and Hillary effectively provides a third Obama term. “If you are President Barack Obama and you want to be a transformational president, getting to that transformational stage sometimes requires you get a third term,” NBC News Senior Politics Editor Mark Murray said.
“People in the White House, and President Obama, I am sure they would love to have a third or fourth term,” Murray continued. “That is some of the reasons why some of the people in the Obama orbit are happy about a potential Hillary candidacy, because it does provide a best opportunity for the third Barack Obama term or third Bill Clinton term however you want to put it.”
That way the Team will have the room to put everything to rights, because the only problem with the progress currently in place is it hasn’t been tried hard enough.
Recent purchases by Belmont readers based on Amazon click-throughs.
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