Daily Blurb #5

Is China Preparing For War With the United States?

Reports that China has developed the prototype of a stealth bomber is getting people in our Defense establishment hot under the collar – and for good reason.  While China has never approached anything near parity with the U.S. in military capacity, the fact that it is now developing its own military technology, sometimes well in advance of the United States, is certainly cause for concern.  There is of course an argument that the trade ties between the United States and the Republic of China and the mutually assured destruction of both economies should war erupt, would prevent a military confrontation.  But this is  no longer convincing.  One just has to read the the books of Niall Ferguson to understand how nations quickly abandon their own better economic instincts when it comes to wars of aggrandisement.

And China’s ambitions in the Western Pacific are very much about self-aggrandisment.  In August, in its annual report to Congress,  the U.S. Department of Defense claimed that China was ramping up investment in an array of areas including nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, submarines, aircraft carriers and cyber warfare. The military report said China was “already looking at contingencies beyond Taiwan” including through a longstanding project to build a far-reaching missile that could potentially strike US carriers deep in the Pacific.

It should come as little surprise.  The revitalization of the Middle Kingdom of the  Ming and Qing dynasties, wherein China reduced all the nations surrounding it to vassal states, is not merely a part of Chinese folklore, but a central tenet of  political discourse and national business strategy.  Is war likely tomorrow, or next year or even in ten years?  Perhaps not.  But we would be foolish to believe that it could never happen or that expenditures in military technology represent no threat to the global  supremacy of the U.S. military.

Obama’s Day of Reckoning Over Settlements

In a few days the Obama Administration will be tested on exactly how much of an obstacle it believes the 120 settlements in Samaria and Judea represent to the peace process.  This month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is taking his campaign to the UN Security Council, where the Palestinians will introduce a draft resolution that would declare Israeli “settlements” in Jerusalem to be “illegal.” The draft demands a halt to all construction in the eastern half of Israel’s capital city.   The Palestinians understand exactly what this means:   “We drafted it using the same words that Secretary Clinton is using and so we don’t see why the U.S. would veto it,” Abbas said.

The Obama Administration, as of today, stands equivocal on how it intends to address this flagrant attack on the notion of a negotiated settlement. On December 29, Mark C. Toner, the State Department spokesman had this to say on the matter at a press conference in Foggy Bottom:

” QUESTION: Hi, Mark. I’m wondering about this report of the draft resolution that may go before the UN Security Council on – by supporters of Palestinians condemning the Israeli settlements. What would the U.S. response be to that?

MR. TONER: Well, every U.S. Administration has been for decades has been clear on this. We don’t accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity, and in fact, we believe continued expansion is corrosive to peace efforts, as well as to Israel’s future. We believe, fundamentally, that direct negotiations are the only path through which the parties will ultimately reach the framework agreement that is our goal, our mutual goal. And final status issues can only be resolved through negotiations between the parties and not by recourse to the UN Security Council, so we’ve consistently opposed any attempt to take these kinds of issues to the Council, because we believe that these kinds of efforts don’t move us any closer to our goal, which is of two states living side by side in peace and security.

QUESTION: Would the U.S. go so far as to use its veto power?

MR. TONER: Again, it’s a hypothetical at this point, Cami, but I think I made our position pretty clear. Any more questions?

This has never been a “hypothetical” for any other U.S. Administration and the government’s position on the matter is far from clear.   One-sided U.N. resolutions against Israel have ALWAYS been vetoed by the U.S. at the United Nations.   The failure of the Obama Administration to signal its intentions regarding such a draft resolution is truly a first and a worrying development.

Pundits in Washington and New York are now speculating about what any abstention on the part of the United States could mean for  Israel and the Middle East.  Some have suggested that it will confirm what many for some time have considered the truth – that the Obama Administration’s intends to become  the first openly hostile Administration to the Jewish state.  I would go further.  It would open the gates to the next Middle East war, encouraging Israel’s enemies to believe that it has been abandoned by its main diplomatic champion and that open season has been declared.

The Administration’s insistence on settlement freezes as preconditions to negotiations has proven rash as the Palestinians and their Arab allies have used it to craftily drive a wedge between Israel and its American ally.  If Obama wants to prove he cares more about peace in the Middle East than he does about punishing Israel for its settlement policies, then he must immediately signal to the Arab world that his country will not stand idly by while Israel is made the fall guy for his Administration’s own diplomatic failures and mistakes.   That would be the mature and responsible approach.  But I wouldn’t count on it.

Meet Fred Singer

On Wednesday night , January 5 in Bel Air,  AFA presented  Fred Singer, the renown and ebullient climatologist who has spent the past 30 years debunking anthropogenic global warming and transforming skepticism on that subject into a high art.   Singer’s book Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years and the unmatched research from his own organization, the Nongovernmental International  Panel on Climate Change ( NIPCC) which produced the 850 page study  Climate Change Reconsidered, form the basis of  the scientific response to the deeply flawed and highly politicized work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations agency whose four reports over the past 19 years have been used to sound the clarion call for cutting global carbon emissions.

Singer, an avuncular and engaging speaker with a stentorian voice, described how the global warming debate gained world wide traction as environmentalists came to dominate world forums on issues of economic development.   Whereas he believes there is abundant evidence for increases in world temperatures over the past 150 years,  he stated that the evidence that man has substantially contributed to that warming is still very much in contention and should be debated.  The more likely explanation, he said, is that we are now in the midst of a global warming cycle that repeats every 400 or so years and has much more to do with solar activity than with anything humans do or don’t do on Earth.

It was a powerful presentation, delivered  with a wry sense of humor and a warmth that belied  Dr. Singer’s reputation as a curmudgeon.  I highly recommend Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years and hope to bring Dr. Singer back  to Los Angeles in June for our next summer conference Big Footprint: Is Green the New Tyranny?

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