Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Emperor Xi and his troubles

While it is important to keep a close eye as China grows stronger and flexes her insecure muscles, one should also recognize that there are significant structural issues that will not be easy to overcome, if ever;
Having concentrated power, Xi is responsible for all policy setbacks and policy failures,” said Joseph Cheng, a retired City University of Hong Kong professor and long-time observer of Chinese politics.

Notably, Xi used to dominate state-run newspapers’ front pages and the state broadcaster CCTV’s news bulletins on a daily basis but has in recent weeks made fewer public appearances. “He can’t shift the blame, so he’s responding by taking a lower profile,” Cheng said.
Both the stock market and the currency have weakened in response and the Communist Party itself conceded at a meeting last month that external factors were weighing heavily on economic growth.

At the same time, a scandal over vaccines has reignited long-held fears over the integrity of the health care industry and the government’s ability to police the sprawling firms that dominate the economy.

“Trust is the most important thing and a loss of public confidence in the government could be devastating,” said Zhang Ming, a retired professor of political science in Beijing.

And last week, the authorities mobilized a massive security effort to squelch a planned protest in Beijing over the sudden collapse of hundreds of peer-to-peer borrowing schemes that underscore the government’s inability to reform the finance system to cater to small investors.
Meanwhile, Xi’s signature project, the trillion-dollar “Belt and Road” initiative to build investment and infrastructure links with 65 nations, is running into headwinds over sticker shock among the countries involved. Some Chinese have also questioned the wisdom of sending vast sums abroad at a time when millions of Chinese remain mired in poverty.
Resentment lingers also over Xi’s moves to consolidate power, including pushing through the removal of presidential term limits in March and establishing a burgeoning cult of personality.
Much of the discontent with Xi can be traced to his administration’s perceived ineffectiveness, said Zhang, the retired academic.

“If you want to be emperor, you must have great achievements,” Zhang said. “He hasn’t had any, so it’s hard to convince the people.”
The readers of CDRSalamander know their history well. So Front Porch, autocratic leaders throughout history have usually looked to what as a quick way to achieve something considered a boost to national greatness?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Why Ghazni Matters

I know it is hard to keep lock on what is happening in AFG, but I need you to track with me on this.
Afghan security forces backed by U.S. advisers and air strikes fought on Monday to drive Taliban fighters out of the embattled city of Ghazni, where hundreds of people have been killed or wounded during four days of fighting.
The insurgents seized control of the districts of Khawaja Omari north of the city and Ajrestan in the west, with officials saying dozens of Afghan security forces were killed or missing.

However Interior Minister Wais Barmak said the situation had improved by Monday afternoon, with reinforcements pressing the city's last pocket of Taliban resistance.

"Afghan forces are in complete control of the city," he told a news conference in Kabul.

Diplomats in Kabul said the government had admitted being taken by surprise by the attack and after days with minimal public comment from the presidential palace, Ghani announced on Twitter that reinforcements would be sent urgently.
This isn't just any town in AFG. It's OK if you don't know your history, I'll give you a pass. As with many things in this business, when something happens, get a map.
The Taliban attack on Ghazni, a strategic center on the main highway linking the capital Kabul with southern Afghanistan, is a blow to President Ashraf Ghani weeks before parliamentary elections are due and dampens hopes of a start to peace talks.
Bold move for August. All reports are that things are secure, more or less - and on AFG terms.

There are some who want to pull up and go - and I've shared my frustration and desire to to the same during the Obama era calendar based OPLAN, but if we have a window to get all parties to the table eventually so there can be some peace on AFG terms that mitigates future threats to our national interests, then I would encourage strategic patience.

Oh, and keep a better eye on major cities along major GLOCs.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Ethics, Professionalism, Education & the Military Professional with Nate Finley and Ty Mayfield, on Midrats

A military is not an amorphous mass, but a collection of individuals each who can make decisions in their professional role that can have great impact, both positive and negative, well beyond their immediate and personal concerns.

Decisions, policies, and behavior derive from the training, traditions, and fundamental culture of the people who make them. What is the role of ethics, training and other culture forming activities in defining the military professional and how he executes his responsibilities?

Our guests this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to dive in to these and related issues will be Nathan Finney and Tyrell Mayfield. As a base for our discussions, we will touch on subject areas they raised in the upcoming book they are co-editors of “Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics” published by the U.S. Naval Institute Press.

Nathan Finney is an officer in the U.S. Army, a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations; a Non-Resident Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute; and a former Non-Resident Fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point and has helped found multiple organizations, including The Strategy Bridge; the Military Writers Guild; and the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum.

Tyrell O. Mayfield is an officer in the US Air Force and a co-founder and board member of the non-profit The Strategy Bridge. Ty has published photography and written work in a number of online forums, magazines, newspapers, and peer-reviewed journals. Ty is a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School and the US Army War College and holds masters degrees in International Relations, National Security Studies and Strategic Art. Ty is currently writing a memoir about his time in Kabul.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio or Stitcher

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Fullbore Friday

"Hey, we have this bizarre operation that has a shoestring budget, is in the middle of nowhere, and is asking for something to be done that has never been done before. Most likely, if the people sent are ever seen again, it will end in abject failure and humiliation for the officer leading it. Who should we send?"

"Hey, who is that weird 40-yr old LCDR down the hall with all the strange tattoos and whose uniform is all out of wack? I have no idea what he does at that desk, I won't miss him."

"Oh, you mean LCDR Geoffrey Basil Spicer-Simson?"

"Yes, that chap. He has an eclectic background fitting his personality. I think he just might be the fit."

And so starts a story that inspired books, radio programs and movies ... all for a wee spat in an important but relatively forgotten backwater.

...and below is Spicer-Simpson, right after he captured the German ship Kingani. Yes, he went to war in a skirt.

If you find the naval campaign in Africa interesting, I did another post a few years ago I'd recommend.

Hat tip Campbell.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Diversity Thursday

Though a spotty record, on the whole the US military has led the nation towards racial and ethnic unity. It only makes sense, as the record from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Rwanda shows that entities that promote ethnic and racial divisions are inefficient, immoral, and end in division and bloodshed.

That is why it is sad to see our Navy continue to bask in the toxic stew of division and sectarianism.

This is one of those DivThu that the rent seeking, grievance mongering, patronizing Diversity Bullies that our Navy spends millions of dollars a year subsidizing are so kind to write for me.

As you read this remember all the things you've read the last week about the racist Sarah Jeong. The attitude she has towards race is fully in line with those you find working in the DOD subsidiary of the Diversity Industry.

Just read their own work.

Do you see any evidence in the below that would have you think that they have any different feeling towards white men than Sarah does? OK, I will grant you a little more diluted than Sarah, but if a bird poops in your soup bowl or in the pot that made it, you still have poop in your soup.

They try to throw chaff to draw you off like,
Our focus has since grown to encompass a much broader definition of diversity beyond the traditional demographic measures of race, gender and ethnicity.
...but do you see in their document anything else but race, gender and ethnicity when breaking down the meat of where the cancer of sectarianism and racial self-identification fraud is injected; accessions, retention, career progression and senior leaders? Of course not. As is the pattern with their ilk, they are lying to you.

Who is the one party that is "the problem" with their metrics? Who is a non-person?

Where is the Sarah tie in? Note that there is only a problem where there are "too many" white people - specifically white men. Areas where there are "too few" white people? No problem. Change the ethincities around and tell me there's no problem here. 

We should be a Navy where no one cares what color, ethnicity or glorious mixture you happen to be. Your DNA does not mean anything. You are a Sailor and a shipmate. All else is meaningless. Can you do the job and do it well? That is the only measure that matters.

The rest of this intentional support of breaking us in to racial and ethnic groups against each other is not just wrong, it is unproductive and counter to building a fair and just society.

It was wrong in the Jim Crow era as it is today. Thing is, this time the Navy has an entire bureaucracy dedicated to one thing, judging Sailors by the color of their skin, not the content of their character.

Read it below and tell me where I'm wrong.

Once you're done, find your favorite couple of Easter Eggs. I'll share mine at the bottom.

Here are my top Easter Eggs;
Multiracial NROTC Navy commissions have gained momentum as well, almost doubling in the past five years alone
Of course. Not only are more people ignoring the Diversity Bullies' AKC like breeding standards, they are rightfully judging their mates by the conduct of character, everyone else is engaging in a bit of fun with their DNA. Like my family, we can pick from three ... or all.

Here is the nasty part going forward;
The next frontier for Navy I&D is mitigating the negative effects of bias through a five-year bias mitigation strategy across four lines of effort for the entire Navy Team: Active, Reserve and Civilian.
First of all, this entire document is full of bias. Second, what is this strategy? Also, if we have bias, why are we sitting on our hands right now?

Give us names and examples of bias. We have the UCMJ for such things. If it is there, let's pull those people out now - root and branch. If you can't then, well, we know what is going on here, don't we?

Hat tip Dan.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Georgia - a member too far

Sorry Georgia. History and Geography just aren't in your favor.

In my heart, I wish the people of the nation of Georgia all the best in life and freedom. I also fully understand the emotion and concern behind another neighbor of the bear but already under NATO's umbrella, Estonia, feelings in this tweet.
I served with Georgians in AFG and they are always a hoot out on the town, but ... I'm sorry, I don't see NATO in the cards for you.

This keeps coming up, and I wish people would ... again ... please consult your nearest Atlas. The one above will do.

As long as you have such standing border issues with Russia, I don't see any way of bringing you inside NATO's lifelines. In a sad twist in line with how history works, both you and Ukraine will have to wait for some future Russian socio-political implosion to change the truth on the ground. Until then, try to stay out of a war you can't win and make friends.

Coming inside a defense alliance with this baggage? No.

pic h/t Cory.