Saturday, May 30, 2015

War With China

Why China Dangerously Underestimates America's Interest in the South China Sea
by Kyle Mizokami
May 29, 2015

Last week one of the U.S. Navy's newest patrol aircraft, a P-8A Poseidon, took off from an air base in the Philippines and flew due west.

Over the shimmering blue green waters of the South China Sea, the plane was hailed by a voice warning the crew they were nearing Chinese territory and should immediately leave.

The incident didn't occur near what most people consider China — mainland China was hundreds of miles away. It occurred near three tiny islets in the South China Sea: Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, and Mischief Reef. These tiny, seemingly inconsequential bits of land are the front lines in a dispute involving China, her neighbors, and now the United States.

The islets could also be stepping stones in the path to war, as China and the United States become increasingly embroiled in a territorial dispute that neither side has any intention of backing down from.

The South China Sea is one of the most valuable patches of ocean in the world. A third of the world's merchant traffic passes through the area. It's also resource rich, home to rich fishing grounds and large reserves of oil and natural gas. The South China Sea functions as a sea border for a number of countries, including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

In recent years, China has laid claim to roughly 90 percent of the South China Sea. This runs roughshod over territorial claims by China's neighbors. Furthermore, over the last several months, China has transformed Subi, Fiery Cross, and Mischief Reefs into outposts of the People's Republic, using dredgers to create land for building port facilities, radar stations, and airports.

China has agreed to abide by international regulations regarding the oceans. That sounds reassuring, but apparently the fine print is that it doesn't apply to Chinese territory. As far as China is concerned, international law applies to the South China Sea no more than it does to San Francisco Bay or Lake Michigan.

The U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon was flying what the U.S. military calls a "Freedom of Navigation" mission, demonstrating that the United States does not recognize China's claims and that anyone — including the U.S. military — can transit through the area unmolested.

This week a Chinese military spokesman accused the United States of preparing to confront China over the issues of ownership of the South China Sea. The spokesperson, Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, claimed that the U.S. was "smearing the Chinese Navy," presumably for no other reason than it is jealous of China's rise.

Senior Colonel Yang is right but for the wrong reasons. The United States is preparing to confront China. The purpose isn't to smear the Chinese Navy, but rather to uphold a key strategic principle.

As a direct interest, the South China Sea isn't of huge importance to America. The principle of freedom of navigation, on the other hand is very much an interest of America's. As a maritime power surrounded by two oceans and reliant on ocean-going trade, the United States must on principle resist all such claims — even those by countries as small as the Maldives.

The United States is the only country capable of countering China's claim to the South China Sea. Despite the extraordinary growth and progress of the Chinese military over the past two decades, the U.S. military is still more powerful by a wide margin.

China is currently operating from a position of weakness. That's precisely why it must be countered now, before it grows more powerful. It's important to confront China over this issue now and — to borrow a term Chinese officials often use — "teach it a lesson."

Left unchecked, we don't know where China's ultimate ambitions might lie. It's best we don't find out.

In international relations, little is cut and dried. Complexity rules. The various, competing claims to the South China Sea make for a complicated situation, each country alternately proposing and disposing differing territorial boundaries.

One thing is cut and dried: China — or any other country — cannot be allowed to take the South China Sea unilaterally. Doing so would let might make right, and embolden the country to make more claims in the future. This will make for some tense moments above, on, and below the South China Sea, and could even conceivably start a war.

But simply letting China do whatever it wants is not an option. The risks are much smaller now, while China is weak, and infinitely better than the alternative of confronting a stronger, more powerful China down the road. The sooner China learns to play by the rules, the better.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Collapse of Balitmore City

Newt Gingrich
Today at 5:56 PM

Fact: the last Republican city council member in Baltimore City left office in 1942.

That is 73 years of solid Democrat city councils.

Fact: the last Republican mayor of Baltimore City left office in 1967.

That is 48 years of unbroken control of the mayor's office.

Fact: the Maryland Senate is currently 33 Democrats to 14 Republicans.

Fact: the Maryland House is currently 90 Democrats to 50 Republicans.

Fact: the last time Republicans held both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates was 1897.

Fact: the last time Republicans held even one chamber of the Maryland General Assembly--the House--was 1917.

That is unbroken Democrat control of the Maryland legislature since 1918--or nearly a century of Democrat control.

Fact: 7 out of 8 members of the Maryland delegation in the U.S. House are Democrats.

Fact: Last Republican U.S. Senator from Maryland was elected in 1980.

Fact: it was Baltimore’s Democrat mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who said:
“I’ve made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech. It's a very delicate balancing act. Because while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate."

This ”space to destroy” policy led to riots which resulted in:

    130 police officers injured
    More than 350 businesses damaged (increasing inner-city unemployment)
    15 pharmacies damaged (limiting inner-city residents’ access to medicine)
    Korean American businesses targeted while gangs protected businesses owned by African Americans
    144 vehicle fires
    Firehoses cut as firemen fought fires

The collapse of order has a continuing effect. There has been a drastic increase in shootings and homicides in Baltimore since April 27. More than 50 people have been shot. At least 10 have been shot and four killed since Saturday May 9. Nonfatal shootings are up nearly 50 percent.

All of this happened under the leadership of a Democrat mayor who was worried more about the rioters’ free speech than about the safety, protection, and livelihoods of innocent Baltimoreans.

The first duty of government is to protect the innocent and the weak from predators and violence.

Once again a Democrat favored the violent over the victims.

The protesters charge that the police are racist.

Fact: More than half of the Baltimore City police force is minority.

Fact: four of the six top commanders are African American or Hispanic.

Fact: half of the police officers being prosecuted are African American.

The protesters point to poverty--and they’re right. Poverty has devastated minority communities. But it is left-wing policies implemented by Democrats that have created destructive incentives and denied opportunity to generations of young people.

Fact: Baltimore City spends $17,329 per student, and its unionized, bureaucratic schools fail.

As Terence Jeffrey of CNS News quotes a lawyer for Freddie Gray’s family as saying, "The education system has failed them." The lawyer is right. "These kids have had bad experiences in school," he said.

Jeffrey outlines the absolute failure of the unionized bureaucratic Baltimore City school system: 84% of eighth graders score below grade level in reading. 87% scored below grade level in math.

For $17,000 a year, Baltimore City students could get much better educations at Catholic schools, private schools or even with an organized home schooling program (8 students could pool $120,000 a year to hire a personal tutor as was done when Thomas Jefferson was young).

Amazingly, as Archbishop of Baltimore William Lori points out, the Catholic schools cost $6,000 a year and have a 99 percent graduation rate. Yet the Democrats are committed to locking poor children out of those schools if it takes a dime away from funds for failing, unionized public schools.

With school choice policies, we could save children's lives while saving money. Instead the left wing unions and bureaucracies ruthlessly exploit children, ruining their lives while the Democratic leadership in the Maryland House blocks school choice bills that would give children a chance to attend better schools and would force schools to compete for students by actually being good schools.

There is no greater example of the relentless dishonesty of modern Democrats than their willingness to destroy children's lives while blaming others. President Obama could quit blaming Fox News and simply demand school choice (which of course he opposes) and he would radically improve the lives of millions of trapped poor children.

Of course, it is Democrats who control the teachers union that traps Baltimore City's children in schools that fail and ruin their lives. They do so on behalf of the unionized bureaucratic political machine that controls the city.

Poverty in general has been institutionalized by the destructive ideological biases of Democrat President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. On May 22,1964 President Johnson said, "Our society will never be great until our cities are great. Today the frontier of imagination and innovation is inside those cities and not beyond their borders."

Tragically, his policies trapped people in dependency, killed small businesses in favor of bureaucracy, and favored unionized workers over children. The result has been a 50-year disaster which no liberal Democrat is prepared to analyze honestly.

Charles Murray's classic study of destructive welfare policies, Losing Ground, and Marvin Olasky's decisive repudiation of the idealistic premises of big government liberalism’s approach to poverty, The Tragedy of American Compassion, explain decisively the failure of the Baltimore City Democrats. Their values, principles and organizations doom their efforts to failure.

A sound program has to start with safety and work.

That policy has to begin with favoring public safety and small business.

All Americans should care enough about their fellow citizens trapped with bad leadership, bad government, selfish bureaucrats, and misleading news media. All of us should care about creating a much better future for poor Americans.

That future has to start with a fact-based analysis of how we got here and who has been responsible.

In Baltimore City, the answer is Democrat officials who for a half-century have crippled and weakened what was once a great and vibrant city.

In future weeks, I will outline a strategy for a renaissance in Baltimore City.

Your Friend,