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Cheap Continuity

5 Jun

Atari ASBThe United States Navy released its official line on AirSea Battle, which Robert Farley cautions should not be confused with AirLand Battle.

The political situation facing the modern USAF and USN is obviously different, and different enough that the implied connection between the two doctrines may obscure more than it illuminates. The objective of smoothing inter-service cooperation is obviously worthy, and AirLand Battle is worth remembering for the peace it represented between the Army and Air Force. Given the differences between the two concepts (one is a doctrine, one is not; one had an enemy in mind, one does not; one involved a lead and support service, one involves equal cooperation between two services, etc.), the confusion generated by the comparison may outweigh the rhetorical value of the (admittedly nifty) naming strategy.

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Fishing For Divisions Between Beijing and Pyongyang

21 May

Dalian_NE AsiaWhen not proliferating nuclear devices, North Korea also specializes in various other means to get cash, like piracy. That’s why it’s easy to see incidents, such as the May 5 seizure of a private fishing vessel owned by a Chinese citizen, Yu Xuejin, and the resulting kidnapping of its 16 crew members, including its captain, through the perspective of North Korea’s current high-profile status as a problem child. One year ago, three fishing vessels and 29 crew members were involved in a very controversial incident, because the North Koreans stripped the vessels of everything from fuel to pencils. China and North Korea aren’t the only protagonists in these dramas involving fishing vessels. On May 9, a Taiwanese citizen was killed when a Philippine Coast Guard patrol boat peppered a Taiwanese fishing vessel with 59 bullets near the Batanes islands between The Philippines and Taiwan. And, even more sensationally, in December, 2010, Chinese vessels and the South Korean Coast Guard were the protagonists. And, just so you don’t think this is an “Asian thing” or a recent phenomenon, there are the Cod Wars between Britain and Iceland in the 1950s. International law and geography are the main culprit behind these and other incidents, which devolve into nationalistic feeding frenzies. And, like any other controversial story, national television is involved.

At  7 a.m. on May 6, Yu Xuejun received a phone call from the captain of a fishing boat he owns. “I asked him what the problem was,” Yu told state broadcaster China Central Television in an interview broadcast Monday, “and he said one of the ships was missing” from off the coast of Liaoning, a Chinese province that borders North Korea.

Thus began the bizarre, opaque, and as-yet unresolved saga of the North Korean kidnapping of 16 Chinese fishermen.

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When A State Isn’t A State

16 May

taiwan-philippine1Taiwan has slapped The Philippines with sanctions for not apologizing with sufficient respect for the death of a Taiwanese fisherman during a confrontation with the Philippines Coast Guard.

Earlier on Wednesday Taiwan recalled its envoy to the Philippines. The sanctions included the freezing of applications for work permits, and the cessation of economic exchanges and military exercises in waters between the two sides. A spokesman for Philippine president, Benigno Aquino, had said a formal apology was being offered to the appropriate authority in Taiwan over the “unfortunate loss” of the fisherman.

But Taiwan’s premier, Jiang Yi-huah, said the apology was inadequate because it called the fisherman’s death unfortunate and unintentional, according to a statement from the Taiwan government on its website.

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