north korea aims for guam, what will team trump do & WHY IS JAPAN NOT READY FOR NORTH KOREAN MISSILES?
Tokyo's unready missile defense. @wjmurphy2 @gordongchang
BALANCE OF POWER PLAYS IN LEVANT EMERGING BETWEEN TURKEY, RUSSIA, IRAN & U.S; WHAT ROLE DOES ISRAEL HAVE
Why Didn't the US Shoot Down That North Korean Missile? // Patrick TuckerThe military's record of hitting intermediate-range missiles is less than perfect. That makes the decision to attempt an intercept much harder.
Lower-Yield Weapons Will Raise, Not Lower, the Threshold for Nuclear Use // Derek Williams and Adam B. LowtherGiving the U.S. president more flexible options will improve deterrence.
The North Korean Threat Beyond ICBMs // Graham AllisonEven without them, the Kim regime can menace its immediate neighborhood—or sell nuclear material to rogue states.
What Does It Mean for North Korea to Fly a Missile Over Japan? // Kathy Gilsinan and Yasmeen SerhanThis latest strike may be Pyongyang's most provocative test this year.
Top piracy hotspot: The Sibutu Passage between Malaysia and the Philippines, used by more than 13,000 ships a year, has emerged as Asia’s most dangerous waterway in the past six months as Islamic terror groups target seaborne trade, Alan Boyd writes. Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have started joint patrols against pirates terrorizing shipping in the deepwater passage, but limited resources and legal obstacles are already rocking the boat. Bounties offered for cargo and crew abductions by splinter groups of the Philippine terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf, based on the southern Jolo and Basilan islands, have made armed gangs more brazen. READ THE STORY HERE
Saudis, Russia push for oil-cut extension
Saudi Arabia and Russia are seeking to extend a deal to cut crude oil production between members and non-members of the OPEC oil cartel for another three months, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The proposal was reportedly discussed during a meeting of Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih and his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak at a July meeting in St. Petersburg amid concerns that global prices remain too low because of an increase in US shale oil production. Such an extension would leave the current agreement in place through the end of June.
Doklam border standoff: The summer-long Himalayan impasse between China and India has quietly ended without any loss of face, Kenny Hodgart writes. The tensions began on June 16 when Chinese soldiers, convinced they were on Chinese territory, found their attempts to extend a road at Doklam, near the tri-junction between India, Bhutan and China, thwarted by Indian soldiers. How exactly Beijing and New Delhi came to an “understanding” remains unclear. India said on Monday that an agreement had been reached with China, following talks, and that both sides were pulling back their border forces from the Doklam plateau. For its part, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced only that China was “pleased” India had “withdrawn,” adding that it would “continue to exercise its sovereign rights” over the plateau. READ THE STORY HERE
Countering Chinese Coercion: The Case of Doklam
By Oriana Skylar Mastro & Arzan Tarapore: “The immediate crisis seems to be over, but it offers tantalizing insights into Chinese coercive strategies and how they may be thwarted. This has implications not only for India in its own land border disputes, but also for several Southeast Asian nations and the United States, as they all confront China’s attempts to expand its control and influence.”
Korean Peninsula crisis: Pyongyang sharply escalated tensions early on Tuesday by firing a missile that flew over Japan and landed in waters off the northern island of Hokkaido, Asia Times and agencies report. The test, which experts said appeared to be an intermediate-range Hwasong 12 missile, came as US and South Korean forces conduct annual military drills on the peninsula, which North Korea considers provocative. In response to the launch, a squadron of four South Korean F-15K fighter jets staged a live-bombing drill against a simulated target representing North Korea’s leadership facilities. North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under young leader Kim Jong-Un, the most recent on Saturday, but firing projectiles over mainland Japan is rare. “North Korea’s reckless action is an unprecedented, serious and grave threat to our nation,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters. READ THE STORY HERE
Fire and fury. North Korea continued its months-long barrage of missile tests on Tuesday when it launched a ballistic missile directly over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, causing Tokyo to warn residents in its path to take cover. Luckily, the missile splashed down harmlessly in the sea, after a flight of nearly 1,700 miles.
South Korea goes big. In response, South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered the military “to display its capabilities that can overwhelm North Korea,” according to Yonhap, the government-affiliated news organization. “The show of overwhelming force involved the dropping of eight Mark 84 or MK84 multipurpose bombs by four F15K fighter jets at a shooting range near the inter-Korean border in Taebaek.”
Japan reacts. Hours after the North Korean launch, Japanese officials took reporters on a tour of some of Japan’s Patriot missile batteries. Tokyo is practicing deploying the system quickly to various U.S. bases in preparation for more serious challenges from Pyongyang in the future.
For an idea of how remarkable the flight was, consider that this was only the third North Korean missile flight over Japan in the past two decades the NYT reports. The Tokyo government spoke of the missile in unusually dire terms. “North Korea’s reckless action of launching a missile that passed over Japan is an unprecedented, serious and grave threat,” said Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
What’s flying. The test appears to have been a new intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missile, which flew as U.S. and South Korean forces conduct annual military drills on the peninsula which the North considers a threat. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has ordered the launch of 18 missiles this year alone, compared with the 16 missiles his father, Kim Jong Il, fired during 17 years in power.
BRET STEPHENS: AFGHAN COMMITMENT, THERE'S NO WAY OUT & WHERE U.S. TROOPS ARE STATIONED AROUND THE WORLD
NYT: BRET STEPHENS
Is Tokyo’s Abe more hawkish than Washington’s Trump? @joshrogin @washingtonpost
For Kono, getting China right is crucial to solving the North Korea crisis, and vice versa. His idea is that the stronger the alliances in Asia, the more successful pressure on China will be.
“If Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea properly put in place a defense framework and strengthen that, and that becomes clear to China, then China will take actions on North Korea, and they will understand it is in their interest to do so,” he said.
Caught between his father’s legacy and his boss’s shadow, Kono is trying to stake out his own public identity while helping his country navigate the most dangerous period in its post-WWII history. Part of that effort includes standing up to China’s military expansion and aggression in the South China Sea and East China Sea, while also pushing China to do more to rein in Pyongyang.
“It’s about time China realizes that when they do something, the impact is felt of that power, so they need to curb the use of that power,” Kono said. “Countries that yield great power must realize that with that power is an accompanying responsibility that they must assume.”
‘Peaceful pressure campaign’: North Korea’s firing of three ballistic missiles last week was a provocative act, the US Secretary of State said on Sunday, but he assured that the United States will continue to seek a peaceful resolution, Reutersreports. “We do view it as a provocative act against the United States and our allies,” Rex Tillerson said in an interview on Fox News Sunday. “We’re going to continue our peaceful pressure campaign as I have described it, working with allies, working with China as well to see if we can bring the regime in Pyongyang to the negotiating table.” READ THE STORY HERE
Insurgency gains momentum: In an exclusive interview with Asia Times, Myanmar’s Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) said its August 25 surprise attacks on police and army posts were staged in “self-defense” and would continue until the rights of the Rohingya Muslim minority group are restored, Mike Winchester writes. A militant official who identified himself simply as “Abdullah” said the campaign of Myanmar military suppression and the rebel counter-punch has now pushed the majority Muslim northern region of Rakhine state into a state of “open war.” Involving what one Myanmar military count estimated at around 1,000 insurgents, the coordinated wave of attacks marked a dramatic improvement in ARSA’s tactical capabilities when compared with its first attacks on October 9 last year. READ THE STORY HERE
How China Plans to Win a War in the South China Sea
By James Holmes, The National Interest: “Last year China’s defense minister, General Chang Wanquan, implored the nation to ready itself for a “people’s war at sea.” The purpose of such a campaign? To “safeguard sovereignty” after an adverse ruling from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The tribunal upheld the plain meaning of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ruling that Beijing’s claims to “indisputable sovereignty” spanning some 80-90 percent of the South China Sea are bunk.”
Neither India nor China can back down along the frontier. @gordongchang.
U.S. Navy Fleet Has Been on Collision Course for Years
By David B. Larter, Defense News: ““GAO … found that the high pace of operations the Navy uses for overseas-homeported ships limits dedicated training and maintenance periods, which has resulted in difficulty keeping crews fully trained and ships maintained,” the report read.”
Collisions: Part III—Maintenance
By Kevin Eyer, Proceedings Magazine: “While everyone suddenly seems familiar with these issues – at least enough to vault over process directly to the firing of a vice admiral – the element that has so far eluded discussion is the material condition of these ships. To understand the inexplicable fact that, every day, ships are operating in the most extraordinarily suboptimized ways, several factors need to be understood.”
John S. McCain tragedy lacks solid explanations. Tyler Rogoway @thewarzone
While theories as to what caused the collision are hurdled around the internet, multiple reports, including from CNN, state that the ship inadvertently lost steering control before the crash. Here is what the CNN report said:
"The McCain suffered a steering failure as the warship was beginning its approach into the Strait of Malacca, causing it to collide with a commercial tanker, a Navy official told CNN.The official said it was unclear why the crew couldn't use the ship's backup steering systems to maintain control. Earlier, another US Navy official told CNN there were indications the destroyer experienced a loss of steering right before the collision, but steering had been regained afterward."
THE ASIAN TIMES
High-tech maritime threat: Recent collisions between US Navy warships and commercial vessels have led to speculation among military experts that China could be using electronic means to disrupt or fool radar or navigation systems into causing mishaps at sea, raising the specter of exotic weapons being deployed in a future conflict with the US, Bill Gertz writes. China has developed some of the world’s most advanced military electronic warfare weapons, including jammers, disruptors and cyber tools that can cause electronics to malfunction mysteriously, or to operate in ways that can cause them to self-destruct. The US Navy said investigators would determine whether the electronic defenses of the ships involved were disrupted or fooled in an intentional act. READ THE STORY HERE
THE TERROR OF TODAY'S AUTOCRATS, THE CRIMINALIZATION OF POLITICAL DIFFERENCES & 00447 ORDER OF JULY 30TH OPERATIONAL DECREE NKDV MURDER REGIME THAT BECAME GULAG
The New American Civil War: Tiberius vs. Rome, Trump vs. Washington. Michael Vlahos @jhuworldcrisis
All of which means that Republicans in Congress need to think of themselves as governing with an independent President—if they don’t already. This doesn’t mean joining Democrats as “the Resistance.” But it does mean acting on their own to fulfill their legislative promises with or without the support of Mr. Trump. If the President goes his own way, at least Republicans can point to votes for legislation that they put on his desk.
Start with the GOP’s main priorities after Labor Day, which include lifting the debt ceiling, funding the government, and passing a budget outline that sets the stage for tax reform. Congress needs to move on all of them no matter what Mr. Trump tweets from the sidelines.
On the debt ceiling, the smart political play is to pass an increase with GOP votes and move on. Some conservatives want to tie policy reforms to the increase, but Democrats know Republicans will get the blame if there’s a default on U.S. debt. GOP voters won’t care about the debt limit in 2018 if Republicans have enough other policy victories.
On funding the government, Republicans in Congress will get no benefit from a shutdown fight over building a border wall. Two-thirds of the country doesn’t support an expensive and largely symbolic wall, and even most Republicans who do won’t like a shutdown to pass it. The GOP should pass a budget that has as many of its priorities as possible, and more money for border enforcement ought to satisfy the immigration restrictionists. The physical wall is Mr. Trump’s personal preoccupation. He can veto a bill without it, but then he’d be responsible for the shutdown.
On tax reform, the White House and Congress are still working together because Mr. Trump is leaving the details to economic adviser Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Mr. Trump could muck it up at any moment with a call for higher income-tax rates, but Congress will have to ignore it. Mr. Trump will have little choice other than to sign whatever Congress sends him if he wants the political victory, and he needs a win as much as Congress does.
Republicans also can’t count on Mr. Trump to provide them any political air cover for tax reform. Taxes were supposed to be the GOP theme during the August recess, but none of the speeches or TV appearances are breaking through because the President can’t give up the spotlight, even if he is hurting himself. The business community and Republicans in Congress will have to sell reform.
Legislative success—especially on tax reform—is the best way Republicans can protect themselves from any Trump undertow in 2018. They need a record to change the campaign subject from whatever the President is tweeting a year from now when he might be contemplating a political affair with Nancy Pelosi.
Kim regime mocks and provokes Tillerson & Trump. @michaelauslin @hooverinst @gordongchang
One photo of Kim reveals a poster on the wall clearly mentioning a missile called "Pukguksong-3," a potential successor to the previous two versions of the missile which were both solid-fuel, medium-range projectiles.
North Korea's desire to build solid-fuel missiles is driven by their need for projectiles they can launch quickly and subtly, said Michael Duitsman, also a research associate at the James Martin Center.
"Solid fuel missiles are much faster to deploy ... a solid fuel missile is always fueled so all they have to do is drive it to the place they want to launch it," he said.
"It's much easier to put into action, much harder to catch before it launches because they're a lot less in terms of launch preparations that could be done."
All ballistic missiles owned by the United States and Russia are solid-fuel models, according to Duitsman.
In another, the North Korean leader stands next to a large copper-colored container, which experts said could be a wound-filament reinforced plastic rocket casing.
… Speaking at a rally in Arizona Wednesday, Trump claimed Kim was "starting to respect us."
"I respect that fact very much. Respect that fact. And maybe probably not, but maybe, something positive could come about. (The media) won't tell you that. But maybe something positive could come about," he told supporters.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also presented a more conciliatory face to North Korea in recent days, saying the US was open to dialogue with the rogue state.