Friday, April 7, 2017

Observations From the Back Row: My Take on Asia

By Rich Kozlovich

North Korea fired a medium range ballistic missile which landed in the East China Sea this week, but there are those who claim it was a failure, flying only 40 miles.  Not very far since it's supposed to have over a 600 mile range.  But no matter - it was good theater.  However, I wonder just what's going on in that Mini-Mao's mind. 

More importantly - what's going on in the minds of his military.  None of the news networks are talking and for good reason - they don't have a clue any better then do I.   Stratfor is under the impression all this posturing by will force a showdown between the U.S. and N. Korea, and it's up to China to do something about Kim Jong-un.  Okay......what exactly can, or I should say......what "will" China do? 

North Korea has stated no sanctions will prevent their actions, and if any are imposed it will merely speed up their activity.  That's a logical fallacy if I ever heard one.  They're going to do what they want to do no matter what the world says or wants and for good reason.  The only ones hurt are the peasants - they end up starving to death to pay for all this technology.  Since Kim Jong-un and his cut throats never have to suffer for their actions they don't care.

While it's true sanctions haven't stopped their nuclear adventurism we should remember - it was the Clintons who made this possible, and it was the foundation for the Iranian deal.  Does that give anyone pause? 

China's leading thug - they call him President Xi Jinping - is meeting with President Trump this week to deal with trade issues, and the fact of the matter is - he's in trouble economically and needs the U.S.  Will that have an impact?  With Obama it wouldn't mean a thing because he and his corrupt and incompetent cabal wouldn't dream of offending their commie ally.  But there's a lot of twists and turns here and Xi is not totally at a loss to make a deal he doesn't like

Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State is meeting with the U.N. about N. Korean nuclear proliferation in three weeks, and Nikki Haley stated  "The United States has seen China for 25-plus years say that they are concerned about North Korea, but we haven't seen them act like they're concerned about North Korea. This administration wants to see them act."

As for China, "North Korea is both an irritant and a benefit".   China likes the idea of that little pain in the butt disrupting any potential for a unified Korea or some sort of solid arrangement with the rest of the South China Sea community. 

But for some reason Washington is expecting China to work at making changes in N. Korea and even backing away from supporting N. Korea economically and possibly even Kim himself.  What does that mean?  Who knows since no one knows what's really going on in the political Byzantium of N. Korea.  And something we all need to remember about dealing with the Chinese.  Nothing is ever as it seems. 

So will the U.S. use the military?  If they do - It won't be in the way we've done in the past.  The U.S. is going to stop the big military campaigns and rely more on special operation missions, and the military budget is reflecting that.  They will - it seems to me - deploy anti-missile systems in Japan and Taiwan and even the Lockeed Martin advanced F-35 aircraft - whether China objects or not.

Back to sanctions.  What if China refuses to help.  There are layers of sanctions and economic sanctions especially.  First China's financial institutions could be targeted forcing them to shut down accounts with N. Korea in order to avoid being frozen out of the U.S. financial market. 

All that clabber we're hearing about China and Russia forgoing the dollar and creating their own financial foundation is baloney.  No one will accept that, and they know it.  It's just economic sabre rattling.  But there's one thing everyone has to agree on - N. Korea working toward a deliverable nuclear weapon is unacceptable, and this is what all U.S. and China relations will center around for some time, which is to China's benefit, since we have come to expect inexpensive products from China. 

Worrying about losing China's inexpensive cheaply made products is not such a grand way of doing things in my opinion.  Let them collapse on their own economic incompetence - it's going to happen anyway, let it happen now.  We can build anything they build in China and do it better. Even if it's more expensive we will create jobs here and that will generate capital and competition. 

However, all the members of the South China Sea community are also having issues with China.

Years ago China claimed it practically owned all of the South China Sea but was challenged by the Philippines and the UN backed the Philippines.  That hasn't dampened China's appetite for stealing what's not theirs.  "Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have also sparred with Beijing over territory in the disputed waterway."  The U.S. is firm on defending international waters there, but what will the give and take be after this week.  No one knows, but we will see Trump's ability to deal with these complicated issues. 

Finally, and it has nothing to do with China, Korea or any of the South China Sea community and in fact I'm posting this because I just love this guys name.  It would appear King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (Okay, say that five times fast. Okay, one time fast.  How about one time very, very slowly?) is bringing his nation under the rule of a new constitution and will hold elections in 2018. 

Best wishes to them.

One more thing.  All that's happening now will start to take a back seat to future economic problems, which I will address soon. 


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