Japan vs China
Growing concern over China's expanding maritime presence has led Japan to announce that it will deploy sophisticated fighter aircraft to the southernmost island chain of Okinawa. According to Defense News, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force will shift twenty F-15s from their current station in Tokyo to Okinawa's Naha base by March of 2009, replace a similar number of aging F-4 aircraft already stationed there. "The Japanese government cannot say that China is a threat, but we are showing concern," Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura has told reporters. The announcement comes as Japan, the U.S. and Australia hold their first ever joint military drill in the East China Sea.
According to defense officials, those maneuvers are aimed at "improving techniques in fields such as communications and search-and-rescue operations, as well as helping build mutual confidence."
More on Putin
Opposition leader Garry Kasparov has warned that President Vladimir Putin’s plan to run for parliament could destabilize Russia, Reuters reports. “Putin must be the boss, he wants to be the boss, he wants to remain the boss - do you doubt it?” the former chess champion told reporters. “It is very dangerous. The consequences could be a collapse of power, February 1917. Power must be legitimate.” Kasparov also said Putin fears leaving office. “He has created a system where there is no guarantee but having power himself, so he will try to preserve it,” the one-time chess champion said. “But he will do it subtly - he doesn’t want to be Mugabe.”
Kasparov added that he doubted Putin – who, he said, has sent many deliberately misleading signals - will become prime minister. “You should forget about that - all his life he has been leading people along,” he said, citing previous speculation that Putin could endorse Sergei Ivanov or Dmitry Medvedev, both first deputy prime ministers, as successors. “Half a year ago everyone was talking about Ivanov and Medvedev and now where are they?” Reuters quoted Kasparov as saying. “They are nowhere."
Some observers believe recent arrests in Moscow are evidence of a ongoing (and increasing) power struggle inside Russia’s security and law-enforcement establishment.
Philippines: The Terrorist Bomb That Wasn't
MILF and government negotiators have overcome some basic disagreements and resumed peace talks. The hang up was over how much southern territory, which now contains a lot of Christian inhabitants, would be considered part of the new "Moslem territory" for the three million Moslems in the south. Christians have been migrating to the Moslem south for decades, and have changed the ethnic and religious make up of once purely Moslem districts. But there's another factor that is slowing down a peace deal with the Islamic separatists; clan feuds. The clans have long provided more government than the government. The clans back up their authority with armed militias. These gunmen have also provided recruits for separatist movements like the MILF, and terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf. It's estimated that, in the last 80 years, there have been over 1,200 clan feuds. Most have been more smoke than
fire, with only about 5,000 people killed in all that time. But the violence shuts down traffic and commerce, and off causes hundreds, or thousands, of people to flee their homes. Disarming the clans is going to be more difficult than negotiating peace deals with outfits like the MILF.
Korea: Cell Phone Police Strike Back
North Korean police have increased the use of German cell phone signal detectors, to find and arrest those illegally using cell phones near the Chinese border. It is possible to get a signal there, and the government sees this as a major security leak. People can say whatever they want using Chinese cell phone service, and the government is determined to stop this phone traffic. There are believed to be dozens of the German detectors in use, with teams (consisting of several dozen secret police agents) moving through neighborhoods and hauling away those found with cell phones. The detectors are small enough to fit in a pocket, so the secret police teams are fairly inconspicuous. The cell phone users are usually engaged in commercial activities, or simply communicating with friends and family. Some North Koreans have established a lucrative business by selling North Koreans access to relatives in China, South Korea or elsewhere, via calls on these phones. The government wants to stop all of this.
Where Diplomats Fear To Tread
While our Marines are restoring order to Iraq, U.S. diplomats are refusing to take their posts in Baghdad. The U.S. embassy desperately needs to fill nearly 50 vacancies, but it is finding few volunteers and may have to “draft” foreign service officers. During a “town hall meeting” this week at the State Department, we witnessed a sorry example of what is happening to the spirit of sacrifice from a State Department bureaucrat. Referring to the possibility of being sent to Iraq, a career foreign service officer said, “I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?” (To date three foreign service personnel have been killed in Iraq.) All of these guys are supposed to be public servants, and even the folks at Foggy Bottom understand the world is a dangerous place. The 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania killed dozens of U.S. personnel. If they want a “safe” job, they should take their pinstripes and wingtips to Sears!
This is just one more example of why it is so dangerous to rely on diplomats and bureaucrats to preserve our security. When the first terrorist bombs went off in Iraq, the U.N. was the first to abandon the country. And when the bullets start flying, the bureaucrats start hiding. What if on 9/11, New York police officers and firefighters had looked up at those burning towers and said, “I’m not going in, that’s a potential death sentence”? What if the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 had stayed in their seats, because fighting back, after all, was “a potential death sentence”? What if all our men and women in uniform said, “I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?”
US Media (speaks for itself)