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”


Obama on Syria: Low-quality “jaw-jaw”

Talking naval trash.

It being the silly season in Washington, there had to be a rumor of war.  Well, a rumor of a cruise missile strike.  Well, OK, a rumor that U.S. Navy warships were ordered to “close their ranges” with Syria in case Obama gets permission from the UN to mount an attack, if there’s clear evidence that the Syrian regime gassed its people.

That last point is actually an exact characterization of Obama’s posture, which he expressed in the interview with CNN aired on Friday:

“There are rules of international law,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, do we have the coalition to make it work, and, you know, those are considerations that we have to take into account.” Continue reading “Obama on Syria: Low-quality “jaw-jaw””

Peace in our time: Asian Navies converging on the Mediterranean

Interesting times.

While Russia’s “interfleet naval task force” tootles around the Eastern Mediterranean making like it doesn’t know from Syria, China and India have joined the naval game in the Eastern Med.  Both have a regular naval presence off the coast of Somalia, and each has dispatched its most recent antipiracy task group – now relieved on-station – to conduct port visits in the Med.  The Chinese units are visiting ports in the Black Sea as well. Continue reading “Peace in our time: Asian Navies converging on the Mediterranean”

Seas without a sheriff

No sheriff in town.

Now, in 2011, would be the worst of times for the US Senate to ratify the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS; or, “Law of the Sea Treaty”: LOST).

Ratification would presuppose an internationally agreed maritime order into which the US was buying.  The nature of that order is tacitly supposed to be one of agreements, definitions, and legalities; in essence, the form of international order to which the United Nations was intended to give impetus.

Realities of maritime order

But no such order exists, nor has it ever.  There is no overarching order for the US to buy into: Continue reading “Seas without a sheriff”

US responds to Chinese aircraft carrier with pointed question

Ask a silly question…

ABC features the Obama administration response as if – well, as if it deserves featuring: Continue reading “US responds to Chinese aircraft carrier with pointed question”