China-Taiwan: Notes on a war game

NBC’s Meet the Press Reports published a new online episode this past week in which the network sponsored a war game for a China-Taiwan scenario developing in 2027.  The episode, entitled “War Games: Battle for Taiwan,” and hosted by Chuck Todd, can be accessed here.

These are just a few notes on a topic that needs a much more in-depth treatment.  But it’s worth registering some top-level comments as this subject garners more and more attention in the coming days.

I would say at the outset that criticism here isn’t intended in any way to mock the effort made to hold the war game and put it together for presentation.  It’s a tough proposition for anyone, and summarizing the results is invariably a matter of choosing and framing priorities, regardless of who’s doing it. Continue reading “China-Taiwan: Notes on a war game”

TOC Ready Room 28 April 2022: How do you solve a problem like the Navy? (and other naval musings)

What’s wrong and right, afloat.

Modern naval problems, it turns out, look pretty much like naval problems from any time.  The parameters are resources, logistics, geography, and technology.

This will be a tweet-enriched lightning round.  The big punch comes at the end.  It’s a doozy (and yes, I know:  if I were tediously pedantic I’d spell it Duesy.  Life is short).

A number of negative things are happening in a concentrated burst.  One is that the Navy brass – “Big Navy” – has just proposed to whack out a big chunk of the fleet for the foreseeable future.  With a target over the last half-decade of 355 ships, the Navy would decline from its current 296 ships to 280 in Fiscal Year 2027 (FY27).  In the best case among three options proposed by the Navy, the fleet would recover to 299 by FY32, 10 years from now. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 28 April 2022: How do you solve a problem like the Navy? (and other naval musings)”

The unclubbable Mr. Trump: China, Ukraine, and a surprise banking oversight action

A world, disrupted.

On 20 March, we checked in with a story from the period 2014-2016, when the French bank BNP Paribas was, initially, greenlighted by the Obama administration to do business with Iran, as sanctions were relaxed, and then months later was hit by U.S. government authorities with the biggest settlement forfeiture in banking history for a prior record of sanctions violations (including sanctions on Iran).

In the interim between the first development (January 2014) and the second (June 2014), BNP Paribas flagged – to UK officials – a suspicious transaction by the owner of Burisma, Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky.  The date of the notification, March 2014, fell in the period when Vice President Joe Biden was holding frequent phone conversations with top Ukrainian officials as the “Maidan Revolution” crisis expanded.  About a month after BNP Paribas alerted the UK to Zlochevsky – who had fled Ukraine in February 2014 – Hunter Biden and Devon Archer joined Burisma’s board, and payments from the company began flowing to them. Continue reading “The unclubbable Mr. Trump: China, Ukraine, and a surprise banking oversight action”

Kazakhstan, we’ve gotten to know ye a little better

Say, whose cover-up is this, anyway?

Technically, what we’ve gotten to know better is the interaction of outside players with systemic Kazakh corruption, especially as it relates to Spygate in the U.S.  But work with me, people.

Most recently, the January 2022 flare-up in Kazakhstan brought to the fore a piece of information reported by the Daily Mail and NY Post in October 2020:  that Hunter Biden had business dealings with Kazakh oligarchs while his father was vice president, and the Big Guy was photographed being in on it. Continue reading “Kazakhstan, we’ve gotten to know ye a little better”

Danger closer: A game change that needs to reset U.S. national defense alertment

Even more interesting times.

Probably the strangest consequence from two recent North Korean missile tests, on 5 and 11 January 2022, was a pair of reported U.S. events that appear to have been in reaction to them.

One U.S. event got much more coverage than the other.  It was on the afternoon of 10 January on the U.S. West coast, minutes after the missile launch from North Korea at 7:27 AM in the Korean time zone on 11 January. 

At “around 2:30 PM PST” on 10 January, the FAA issued a ground stop for air traffic throughout sectors on the West coast.  The North Korean missile launch occurred three minutes before the ground stop order, whose reality and authenticity The Drive’s “War Zone” blog has since verified through contact with persons involved at the receiving end of the order.  Sources confirmed they believed the stop order to be related to national security. Continue reading “Danger closer: A game change that needs to reset U.S. national defense alertment”