Chinese warship arrives off Syria

Your father’s international order, nowhere in sight.


Chinese frigate Yancheng, thrilling the ladies in Cyprus. (Reuters photo.)
Chinese frigate Yancheng, thrilling the ladies in Cyprus. (Reuters photo.)

How many warships does it take to remove chemical weapons from Syria?  One more this week than it took last week, apparently.  If you’re a big, important country with a big, important navy, you want to be involved in the good-citizenship exercise in Syria.

A 31 December deadline for getting some of the chemical stockpile to waiting ships in Latakia was missed, as readers will remember.  But it looks like Continue reading “Chinese warship arrives off Syria”


Peace in our time: Belarus, missiles, and the revenge of the “Reset”

When there is no peace.

For whatever reason, peace is not busting out at all over.  After months of coyness and denials from Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, Russia has deployed the first of what will reportedly be a full squadron of fighter jets to a base in Belarus, where they will remain deployed for defensive alerts against – well, NATO.  Hard as that is for members of NATO to believe, given the parlous state of our unity, purpose, and military readiness.

The former Soviet Union used bases in what was then a “federated socialist republic” in Belarus during the Cold War.  But the Russians will be using a different base this time.  Their Su-27 Flanker jets will operate out of Baranovichi, where the Belarusian Air Force has had its main base for the last two decades. Continue reading “Peace in our time: Belarus, missiles, and the revenge of the “Reset””

Bad tidings of sea and air space challenges

Memorial services for the Pax Americana will be held shortly.

“History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.” — Ronald Reagan

It made the most news when China did it a few days ago.  But it’s been building for a while, and it’s not just off China.  As the holidays settle in on us, probes of other nations’ sea and air space are in the air.  Is war coming tomorrow?  No.  But whether it comes after tomorrow will depend on more than gestures from that shapeless blob of geopolitical potential that we may now, in a post-superpower world, call the “status quo powers.”  It will depend on the outcomes the status quo powers can secure.

The China Challenge Continue reading “Bad tidings of sea and air space challenges”

Russian navy: First port visit to Egypt (among others) in 21 years

Rule Rossiya.

Suddenly, even Vladimir Putin looks more attractive.  He looks, at least, like he actually intends to fight radical Islamism – in some of its varieties anyway.  In theory, he has some pull with Iran.  He can exert a certain level of “check” on the Syria crisis.  His relatively well armed nation sits on the other side of Erdogan’s wild-card Turkey, which keeps bouncing from China to Iran to NATO and back again.  He’s not “Europe” – not really – but “Europe” acknowledges that he has to be given a place at the table.

Maybe he doesn’t look attractive, exactly; maybe the word is interesting.  Whatever it is, it’s showing up in real forms now, in regional nations’ decisions in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Last week came the flurry of reports that Continue reading “Russian navy: First port visit to Egypt (among others) in 21 years”

Syria: Now, the run-up to whatever “it” will or won’t be

Fuse, lit?

What the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has voted to authorize is a military operation not to exceed 90 days in duration, and without U.S. troops in a ground role.  The purpose, per the “stronger language” amendment demanded by John McCain (R-AZ), is to “change the momentum on the ground”; i.e., shift it against Assad and in favor of “moderate” opposition forces.

Who knows what might actually be done based on this authorization – if anything.  What would Congressional votes mean, in the end?  Has the McCain amendment made the beefed-up resolution harder to pass in the full Senate?  Is there a realistic chance that the House will pass a resolution authorizing military action at all?  Will Obama refrain from mounting a strike if Congress doesn’t agree?

Does anyone else notice the inanity of Continue reading “Syria: Now, the run-up to whatever “it” will or won’t be”