Belmont Club

Every Man for Himself

‘Massive Jailbreak: More Than 1,000 Inmates Escape From Prison Near Benghazi’ writes the Blaze and ‘Iraq jailbreak [500 escaped] highlights al-Qaeda affiliate’s ascendancy,says the Washington Post.

Coincidence? Or this? “CIA closing bases in Afghanistan as it shifts focus amid military drawdown” — Washington Post.

The CIA faces an array of new challenges beyond al-Qaeda, such as monitoring developments in the Middle East and delivering weapons to rebels in Syria. John O. Brennan, the recently installed CIA director, has also signaled a desire to restore the agency’s focus on traditional espionage.

“When we look at post-2014, how does the threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan measure against the threat in North Africa and Yemen?” said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss government deliberations. “Shouldn’t our resources reflect that?”

It’s back to Syria and the Arabian Peninsula; it’s a return to the Middle East and Africa for the Obama administration which campaigned on the idea that the region was the wrong place to be. And now, without anything much to show for its investment in Southwest Asia it is deja vu all over again. Except this time it is going back to a house on fire. Egypt, once an ally, is in upheaval; Iraq once an American client, is now dangerously close to becoming an Iranian client and Syria and Lebanon are blowing apart.  And in case anyone has forgotten, Yemen is right next to Saudi Arabia.

Detroit dead. Al-Qaeda alive.

When Obama left the Middle East to engage in his “war of necessity” — remember that? — he forgot to turn off the oven, left the flatiron running on a shirt and put a can of charcoal lighter on a smoldering barbecue.

The mainstream media is one of the biggest liabiities of the administration. It allows it to lie to itself; to continue believing that everything is alright long after the last person will have moved out of its decaying cities. The media lets Washington bury its mistakes in print. But as we well know in this Age of Zombies, anything buried that ain’t dead will walk the earth again.

But not everyone reads the Journolist talking points. Two years into the Obama administration, a Japanese Prime Minister made a little noticed statement. “I do not believe that it is a good idea for Japan to depend on the United States for her security over the next 50 or 100 years.” Toward that end the Japanese have redesigned their forces to be deterrents in themselves, capable of pro-active and offensive operations. Tokyo sees China’s challenge over its sovereignty to the outlying islands as one of the most immediate challenges.

“China is definitely planning a strategy to conquer the Senkaku Islands,” claimed senior researcher of Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Richard Fisher. The chance of a Senkaku Battle is not “zero” — the question is: “Is Japan ready to respond?”

The U.S. has made it clear that the Japan-U.S. Bilateral Security Treaty is applicable to the Senkaku Islands. However, former JMSDF member, Hideki Nakamura shared, “In reality, I doubt the U.S. would actually fight. I believe their realm of support will be to provide information and logistical support only.”

What are the odds of JSDF winning?

Fisher shared his views, “If the battle is focused around the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands, I believe JSDF will have the advantage. The JSDF members are far more professional, and their level of readiness is superior to that of Chinese military members. The key in this battle will be the Japanese submarines. Japan has the best conventional submarines in the world, and will be able wipe out the Chinese submarines at a stroke.”

“In reality, I doubt the U.S. would actually fight. ”  This represents the collapse of deterrence. It means that in order to convince enemies of American seriousness going forward Washington has to actually fight, which is a whole lot more expensive than simply maintaining a reputation.

When the public thinks of a non-US navy it usually thinks of Britain’s or France’s. But Japan has more submarines as France and more surface combatants than the Royal Navy. And  what its navy actually buys and builds is the best true indicator of what Tokyo actually thinks of Washington.

From its preparations it appears Japan to be preparing to look after itself. Japan, ever mindful of its experience against the USN during World War 2, is well aware of their strategic shallowness. It has no confidence in winning a protracted fight with China. It prefers to deter a fight and if forced into conflict, to win it by aggressive tactics. Japan is to China what Israel is to its Arab neighbors, a sprinter as opposed to a distance runner. This means Japan will either seek to acquire nuclear weapons for deterrence or transform its navy into an Israeli-like offensive sword.

The Royal Australian Navy has long wanted to consider japan’s AIP Soryu-class submarines as a source of technology or outright replacement for its Collins class submarines. The conservative shadow minister for defense wrote:

this year alone we will spend close to $1 billion on maintenance and sustainment of the Collins Class with sometimes two, sometimes one, and occasionally none out of six submarines operationally ready at any one time. So depressingly bad are the figures for Unit Ready Days for the Collins Class that Defence no longer publish them – citing security concerns even though they were regularly published up until 2009.

What they may want are the Soryus — a kind of super U-214 — which combines quiet propulsion with the kind of range that the German boat cannot attain. “Japan is an exception as it has a robust, long-term, continuous, indigenous submarine design and construction program with the latest excellent Soryu class SSK with Kockums AIP. Noteworthy is that Japan has recently announced its intention to increase in its submarine fleet size from 16 boats to 22 by building at a rate of one each year and extending the life of its existing fleet. But Japan is not in the military equipment export game – or at least not yet.”

It may be now, following Japanese announcements that it is revising its laws to permit the exports of certain weapons. What it most notable in all of this is the core assumption:  nations which formersly sheltered under the Pax Americana must increasingly look to themselves.  The tradition the Obama administration represents may not finish up being rejected or overthrown. It may simply be ignored. Every day it seems to proclaim itself in charge of more and more, yet matter less and less.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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