Archive for the ‘Vietnam war’ category

China Is Ticking All the Boxes on Its Path to War

June 16, 2017

China Is Ticking All the Boxes on Its Path to War, American ThinkerDavid Archibald, June 16, 2017

(China has provided significant but inadequate help with the North Korea problem. If the war upon which China appears to be intent comes, will China consider continued cooperation as to North Korean nukes and missiles in her interest? — DM)

After trending down for two years, the rate of incursions [by China in the South China Sea] is now trending up. The Chinese government pays their fishing fleet to do this. Now, would any civilized country expecting to live in everlasting peace with its neighbors do this? None would, and so the Chinese are telling us that war is coming. Prepare accordingly

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There are currently three communiques that have guided U.S.-China relations for the last 45 years. These joint statements by the U.S. and Chinese governments were signed in 1972, 1979, and 1982. Among other things, the second communique states that, “Neither should seek hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region or in any other region of the world”.

China has recently been attempting to have the U.S. sign onto a Fourth Communique under which the U.S. would no longer consider Taiwan as an ally or deal with it in any military or diplomatic terms. In effect, the U.S. would peacefully decline and leave the Western Pacific to China. The White House rejected it prior to the meeting of the U.S. and Chinese presidents on April 6-7 at Mar-a-Lago. It was raised again by Henry Kissinger, now in the pay of the Chinese government, at his meeting with President Trump on May 10.

It has been said that President Xi wants the Fourth Communique to crown his consolidation of power at the national congress of Communist Party of China in autumn this year. But he is likely indifferent. If the U.S. could be talked into abandoning the Western Pacific and all its allies in Asia, that would be a bonus. It is more likely that he is making a casus belli for the war that he wants and thus head off intra-party criticism for military adventurism with its attendant horrors. China expects to win a short, sharp, glorious war.

China, the U.S., Japan and Vietnam are all expecting war. China may have claimed all of the South China Sea but Vietnam still has 17 island bases there. These are a major long-term embarrassment to China. Vietnam will not give them up voluntarily so China will attempt to remove them by force – thus the current buildup of China’s amphibious warfare capability. China would also attack Vietnam along their land border to put maximum pressure on Hanoi.

Satellite imagery suggests preparations are being made to that end. For example at 22° 24’ N, 106° 42’ E, there are 12 large warehouses across the road from an army base that is six miles from the border with Vietnam. We can tell it’s an army base because it has a running track. China’s three major bases in the South China Sea and all have running tracks and 24 hardened shelters for fighter aircraft. The warehouses have red roofs when almost all the industrial buildings in the region have blue roofs, suggesting a central directive for their construction. The purpose of the warehouses would be to hide an armored force buildup prior to the invasion of Vietnam.

Warehouses at 22° 24’ N, 106° 42’ E, image date 8/25/2016

Along parts of the China-Vietnam border, there are areas with an abundance of roads leading up to the border and ending in pads suitable for artillery. These likely preparations give us an indication of what China’s war plans for Vietnam might include, just as the ten-pad, expeditionary helicopter base in the Nanji Islands at 27° 27’ N, 121° 4’ E provides China with an option to attack Japan in the Senkaku Islands.

Just because China hasn’t been involved in many wars in the last 60 years doesn’t mean that it is not belligerent. A case in point is the attacks China mounted on Vietnam from 1980 to 1990 seemingly just for the sake of it, after the 1979 China-Vietnam war. China’s then-leader, Deng Xiaoping, rotated army units through the front to give them combat experience. It didn’t matter that they were killing Vietnamese to do so. During the five-year period from 1984 to 1989, the Chinese fired over two million artillery rounds into Ha Giang Province, mainly into an eight-square-mile area. Chinese antipathy for its neighbors is essentially racist – if everyone else is a barbarian, their deaths will be of little consequence.

The Chinese dream of hegemony in Asia has been a long time coming. The map following is from a Nationalist primary school textbook from 1938:

A bit like Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, it has China extending as far south as Singapore. China’s ambitions now include incorporation of the Philippines.

China is now back to seeking hegemony of the Asia-Pacific region and so that voids the Second Communique. Fortunately President Trump’s advisers, recognizing the reality of the situation, have suggested that all three communiques be scrapped.

The question from here is the timing of China’s war. China’s bases in the Spratly Islands are now essentially complete. All they have to do from here is fly in the fighter aircraft. It is thought that China’s strategic petroleum reserve is near full after its stockpiling rate fell from the peak in March 2017 at 1.6 million barrels per day. Another sign that war is approaching and not receding is that the rate of Chinese incursions into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands:

The big increase in mid-2012 was due to the ascension of President Xi.  After trending down for two years, the rate of incursions is now trending up. The Chinese government pays their fishing fleet to do this. Now, would any civilized country expecting to live in everlasting peace with its neighbors do this? None would, and so the Chinese are telling us that war is coming. Prepare accordingly.

John Kerry’s practiced betrayal of friends

December 30, 2016

John Kerry’s practiced betrayal of friends, Washington Times

hanoijohnSecretary of State John Kerry (Associated Press)

John Kerry, as diplomats before him have said of nations, has no permanent friends, only his own permanent interests. He is diplomat enough to hide some of them until a convenient time arrives, and a convenient time arrived with President Obama’s betrayal of Israel at the United Nations, when at the president’s bidding the United States declined to veto a malignantly one-sided resolution condemning the Jewish state for its policy of using settlements on the West Bank as bargaining chips if the Palestinians should give up their dream of evicting Israel from the globe and seek a lasting peace.

Mr. Kerry, like the president, seems to have been waiting for this moment in time, to stick it to the pesky and resolute Jews who have no taste for the second Holocaust when, as promised by the Iranians, Israel is “wiped off the map.”

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John Kerry doesn’t come late to the betrayal of friends. He has had considerable practice.

In 1971, when he was a young lieutenant just back from Vietnam, where he was a decorated skipper of a Swift Boat patrolling the Mekong River, he appeared before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to pay his “respects” to the American soldiers, sailors and Marines he fought a war with.

Representing all those veterans, he told the senators, he wanted to talk about war crimes he said “were committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.”

Mr. Kerry proceeded to slander and defame hundreds of thousands of young Americans who were serving at their country’s call in a distant place where none wanted to be, doing their best at achieving the impossible.

Most of us who were there as observers and witnesses — I spent the better part of three years in Vietnam and Southeast Asia as a newspaper correspondent — saw ugly anger at work, the brutal way of war since Cain picked up a stone to slay his brother Abel. Occasional violence verged on atrocity, but we saw kindness and mercy in the midst of the noisy clangor of killing.

Mr. Kerry testified that he saw his country only at the work of atrocity, young men, many of them highly decorated, merciless in pursuit of barbarism. He told of swapping war stories with men who “personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”

Old soldiers who served with him on the Mekong were astonished at his fanciful recital of comic-book war story, and gave their eloquent version three decades later when Mr. Kerry was the Democratic candidate for president. They said he was full of it, “it” being neither heroism nor witness to truth. He was a phony, Purple Hearts and Bronze and Silver stars or not.

Men return from wars with different recollections, of course, usually told in good faith, but rarely has a returning soldier so slandered and demeaned so many good men. His descriptions of savagery — beheadings, cutting off ears and limbs and indiscriminate razing of villages — with the full knowledge of all senior officers defied belief. He seemed to be telling stories from pique and spite, pandering to the hysteria of the times.

“We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them,” he said. “We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum.”

Most American soldiers were guilty, in fact, of kindnesses to Vietnamese children, even handing out chocolate bars and chewing gum, just as American soldiers had done in previous American wars. But there was no “very cool” acceptance of the savage massacre at a Vietnamese village called My Lai, but instead a criminal investigation, with conviction of the guilty in the midst of a war where there was cruelty at every hand. No country but the United States of America had ever done that.

But John Kerry, as diplomats before him have said of nations, has no permanent friends, only his own permanent interests. He is diplomat enough to hide some of them until a convenient time arrives, and a convenient time arrived with President Obama’s betrayal of Israel at the United Nations, when at the president’s bidding the United States declined to veto a malignantly one-sided resolution condemning the Jewish state for its policy of using settlements on the West Bank as bargaining chips if the Palestinians should give up their dream of evicting Israel from the globe and seek a lasting peace.

Mr. Kerry, like the president, seems to have been waiting for this moment in time, to stick it to the pesky and resolute Jews who have no taste for the second Holocaust when, as promised by the Iranians, Israel is “wiped off the map.”

Barack Obama entertains himself by fussing over his legacy, eager to be remembered as an American icon, perhaps to replace George Washington. John Kerry was eager to assist him with the betrayal of Israel. Both president and secretary of State were doing what comes naturally.

Army is breaking, let down by Washington

August 3, 2015

Army is breaking, let down by Washington, Stars and Stripes, Robert H. Scales, August 2, 2015

(Last year I also wrote a depressing article on the lamentable combat readiness of our military. It’s here at my blog and here at Warsclerotic. The situation has continued to deteriorate. How could Obama’s America help to protect freedom, particularly against an enemy whose name must not be mentioned, without a combat effective military — even if Obama wanted to do it? — DM)

image militaryU.S. paratroopers with the 173rd Airborne Brigade load a M119A2 howitzer at the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, July 28, 2015.
GERTRUD ZACH/U.S. ARMY

Last month, Gen. Ray Odierno, outgoing Army chief of staff, and Gen. Mark Milley, his successor, testified to the difficulties faced by the Army. I’d like to make the same points by telling a story.

When I was a boy, tonsillitis was a dangerous illness. In 1952, it kept me in Tokyo General Hospital for weeks. I shared a cramped ward with dozens of soldiers horribly maimed in Korea. The hospital had only one movie theater. I remember watching a Western sandwiched between bandage- and plaster-wrapped bodies. I remember the antiseptic smells, the cloud of cigarette smoke and the whispers of young men still traumatized by the horrors of the war they had just left.

My dad came from Korea to visit me, and I recall our conversations vividly. At the time he was operations officer for the 2nd Engineer Battalion. He told me how poorly his men were prepared for war. Many had been killed or captured by the North Koreans. During the retreat from the Yalu River, some of his soldiers were in such bad physical shape that they dropped exhausted along the road to wait to be taken captive.

“We have no sergeants, son,” he told me, shaking his head, “and without them we are no longer an Army.”

In the early ’70s, I was the same age as my Korean-era dad. I had just left Vietnam only to face another broken Army. My barracks were at war. I carried a pistol to protect myself from my own soldiers. Many of the soldiers were on hard drugs. The barracks were racial battlegrounds pitting black against white. Again, the Army had broken because the sergeants were gone. By 1971, most were either dead, wounded or had voted with their feet to get away from such a devastated institution.

I visited Baghdad in 2007 as a guest of Gen. David Petraeus. Before the trip I had written a column forecasting another broken Army, but it was clear from what Petraeus showed me that the Army was holding on and fighting well in the dangerous streets of Baghdad. Such a small and overcommitted force should have broken after so many serial deployments to that hateful place. But Petraeus said that his Army was different. It held together because junior leaders were still dedicated to the fight. To this day, I don’t know how they did it.

Sadly, the Army that stayed cohesive in Iraq and Afghanistan even after losing 5,000 dead is now being broken again by an ungrateful, ahistorical and strategically tone-deaf leadership in Washington.

The Obama administration just announced a 40,000 reduction in the Army’s ranks. But the numbers don’t begin to tell the tale. Soldiers stay in the Army because they love to go into the field and train; Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently said that the Army will not have enough money for most soldiers to train above the squad level this year. Soldiers need to fight with new weapons; in the past four years, the Army has canceled 20 major programs, postponed 125 and restructured 124. The Army will not replace its Reagan-era tanks, infantry carriers, artillery and aircraft for at least a generation. Soldiers stay in the ranks because they serve in a unit ready for combat; fewer than a third of the Army’s combat brigades are combat-ready.

And this initial 40,000-soldier reduction is just a start. Most estimates from Congress anticipate that without lifting the budget sequestration that is driving this across-the-board decline, another 40,000 troops will be gone in about two years.

But it’s soldiers who tell the story. After 13 years of war, young leaders are voting with their feet again. As sergeants and young officers depart, the institution is breaking for a third time in my lifetime. The personal tragedies that attended the collapse of a soldier’s spirit in past wars are with us again. Suicide, family abuse, alcohol and drug abuse are becoming increasingly more common.

To be sure, the nation always reduces its military as wars wind down. Other services suffer reductions and shortages. But only the Army breaks. Someone please tell those of us who served why the service that does virtually all the dying and killing in war is the one least rewarded.

My grandson is a great kid. He’s about the same age I was when I was recovering at Tokyo General. Both of his parents served as Army officers, so it’s no wonder that in school he draws pictures of tanks and planes while his second-grade classmates draw pictures of flowers and animals. The other day he drew a tank just for me and labeled it proudly “Abrams Tank!”

Well, sadly, if he follows in our footsteps, one day he may be fighting in an Abrams tank. His tank will be 60 years old by then.

At the moment I’d rather he go to law school.

Robert H. Scales, a retired Army major general, is a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College.