Monthly Archives: September 2013

CRISIS IN OUR SCHOOLS

A generation of American students is being indoctrinated instead of educated. The results for the future of the United States are extremely worrisome.

The indications are clear and overwhelming that far too many pupils in the United States are being deprived of basic academic instruction in the key elements of American history and civics. The problem extends from grammar school straight through college. The evidence can be discerned in statistical studies, curriculum review, the actions of university administrators, and even anecdotal reports through visits to local schools.

Consider the following:

According to the 2010 National Assessment of Education Progress, only 35% of 4thgraders know the purpose of the Declaration of Independence. Overall, only 20% of 4thgraders, 17% of 8th graders, and 12% of 12th graders were proficient in history.

A Brennan/Princeton survey of New Yorkers revealed that “New Yorkers, like most Americans, know very little about their Constitution and government.” The study indicated that only 42% of New Yorkers know basic information about the three branches of government.

According to the U.S. Education Department, “a staggering number of Americans do not know much of the basic history and traditions of our nation.… Nearly two-thirds of Americans cannot name all three branches of government. …Less than half of the public can name a single Supreme Court justice. And more than a quarter do not know who America fought in the Revolutionary War.”

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s (ISI) American Civil Literacy Project has conducted a survey revealing that a stunning 71.4% of those polled lack an adequate knowledge of American history and basic civics.

The problem is not limited to those without college degrees. According to the ISI, “Many Americans with bachelor’s degrees cannot answer the most basic questions about our nation’s history and founding documents. Many cannot name all three branches of government or major guarantees of the bill of rights…Students did poorly even at the most elite schools. Harvard seniors, who did best, earned an average score of only 69.56 [on basic US History and civics questions]…in 2008, in a random study of American adults, the average score was 49%; even those with college degrees scored only 57%.” Shockingly, the ISI study found that elected officials typically have less civic knowledge than the general public, scoring lower by about 5 points.”

It’s not what isn’t being taught that’s troublesome. It’s also what is being given in place of standard instruction. “The People’s History of the United States,” a Marxist view of the US, has been used as a text in Washington, D.C. schools. In Tucson, Arizona, “Occupied America,” written by the radical Rodolfo Acuna, is among the prescribed texts. The book recommends the conversion of the Southwestern US into a “Chicano Nation” and advocates the killing of whites “if necessary.”

Last year, the National Association of Scholars prepared a report for the Regents of the University of California. It’s comments were scathing. They found that “coursework in American history and institutions have been dropped, that writing courses often stress writing far less than tendentious political topics; that prescribed books are frequently no more than journalistic presentations of a simple political message instead of the more complex writings appropriate to an academic context; and that faculty teach what to think rather how to think; that is, they demand correct attitudes and beliefs of students more than they require independent reading and thought.”

Campus activities which once would have been considered “As American as apple pie” are actively discouraged. Earlier this month, a college student, Robert Van Tuinen, passing out pamphlets containing the text of the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day at Modesto College, was informed by campus authorities that he could only do so in a tiny restricted spot known as a “free speech zone.”

It’s not only what isn’t being taught, it’s what is being forced on youth by politically biased educators. In 2009. There were cringe-inducing reports of grammar school children being instructed to sing creepy songs in praise of President Obama, in scenes that seem wholly copied from North Korea, where youth are forced to praise their dictator with religious fervor. A New Jersey school had children singing a song worshiping Obama. It was adapted from a religious hymn called “Jesus Loves The Little Children.”

“The People’s History of the United States,” a Marxist view of the US, has been used as a text in Washington, D.C. schools. In Tucson, Arizona, “Occupied America,” written by the radical Rodolfo Acuna, is among the prescribed texts. The book recommends the conversion of the Southwestern US into a “Chicano Nation” and advocates the killing of whites “if necessary.”

The end result of all of this is the production of a generation of Americans that is alienated from and hostile to the founding principles of their own nation. They have been indoctrinated to believe that the very concepts of individual freedom, unalienable rights, and the guarantee of those virtues through a constitution is irrelevant or worse.

Americans should be deeply concerned.

America’s Changing Energy Environment

Assumptions about America’s energy policy are rapidly being called into question, due to four recent or ongoing events, including:

• The potential serious disruption of oil supplies from the increasingly tumultuous middle east. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz to dissuade the west from taking firm action against that nation’s nuclear weapons development, as well as engaging in activities meant to interfere with Iranian allies such as Syria.
• The tepid state of the American economy, made worse by increasing energy prices. Exceptionally high unemployment is one of the prime examples of this, as is the trade deficit of $39,147 Million (as of July 2013.) The United States Balance of Trade averaged $-32,055.49 Million from 1992 until 2013.
• Recent revised climatological information (including that contained in a leaked preview of an upcoming United Nations report about global warming) which indicates that for the past two decades the problem has been overestimated; and
• A dramatic increase in discovered domestic energy resources.
These events render it necessary to take a renewed look at U.S. energy policy. Partisan views, from industry and consumers on one hand, and environmentalists on the other, make it difficult to have an objective discussion on the topic.

THE PRESIDENT’S VIEWS

The President has taken positions which have been mostly praised by environmentalists, but soundly criticized by those favoring lower prices and American energy independence. In an often quoted 2008 newspaper interview, then-candidateObama stated: “Under my plan, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

When George W. Bush left office, gasoline cost consumers $1.78 per gallon. The current average price is $3.89, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Since 2008, the average price for electricity for individuals, commercial enterprises, and industrial users have all risen, despite a weak economy and the discovery of vast new energy resources.

The White House has been criticized for failing to open federally owned lands for energy exploitation. The U.S. government owns and manages 650 million acres of land.The White House response has been that “Domestic oil and natural gas production has increased every year President Obama has been in office. In 2012, domestic oil production climbed to the highest level in 15 years and natural gas production reached an all-time high.”

Critics respond that the increases have all come from private land outside of the federal government’s control. According to the Heritage Foundation, The President has impeded access to a treasure trove of supply on federal lands. Heritage notes: “America is one of the few nations to put known domestic supplies of oil and gas off-limits to exploration. Harsh restrictions aimed ostensibly at protecting the environment place oil, coal, and natural gas out of favor…Moreover, because of a broken regulatory process and no legitimate solution to spent fuel management, we are not building nuclear plants at the rate we could be…”

The Administration has clearly stated its opposition to the use of coal. According to an article by Nicolas Loris in the Yale Environment 360 publication,
“Phasing out coal, electricity prices would increase 20 percent and cause a family of four to lose more than $1,000 in annual income…significantly reducing coal as a source of energy would destroy more than 500,000 jobs by 2030. All of this economic pain would come with no real impact on the climate.”

Mr. Obama has come under pressure from many of his own supporters to ban hydrofracking, based on scientifically incorrect rumors of problems, mostly disproved by science (but endorsed by Hollywood.)

POLICY CHOICES BASED
ON INCORRECT ASSUMPTIONS

The President predicated his 2008 desire for fuel cost increases based on supply and environmental assumptions that have turned out to be incorrect. Dramatic increases in supply, not even counting known but untapped resources such as those in Alaska or offshore, have been discovered. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the US has three times the amount of natural gas, and twice the amount of oil, as previously thought.

According to the International Energy Agency, America has the potential become the kingpin of energy supplies, producing more than either Russia or Saudi Arabia within the next 15 years. By 2030, the United States could be exporting energy. The net boon to the economy in employment and particularly eliminating the approximately $450 billion spent on imported oil, would be vast.

However, the combined net effect of keeping resources on federal lands untapped, “waging war” on coal, implanting strict (critics say unnecessary) regulations in energy production, and limiting hydrofracking could produce a far different result.

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THE KEYSTONE PIPELINE
In July, the President minimized the employment benefits of Keystone. His comments drew outrage from pipeline advocates, who noted that studies from his own State Department directly contradicted his comments. It is believed that the White House has decided to strategically hold the project “hostage” as a means of forcing Congress to agree to other energy-related matters.

The sweeping proposals are the result of the President’s June 25 Memorandum to EPA on “Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards,” part of the White House’s overall enivronmental proposals. Similar to other instances which the Administration feared Congresssional dissent, Mr. Obama maintains the plans do not require Congressional approval. The President stated that he “didn’t have time for a meeting of the flat earth society.”

The President’s position has been endorsed by organizations such as the National Resources Defense Council, which maintains that “The EPA has both the authority and responsibility to reduce pollution from these plants under the Clean Air Act.”

According to the Environmental Defense Funds’ Gneral Counsel, Vickie Patton,
“The sooner we get these protections in place, the clearer the signal [will be] that new power plants must do their fair share in addressing the heavy burden of carbon pollution on human health and the environment.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) condemned President Obama’s proposals, which he believes impose unreasonable restrictions that will have disastrous consequences for not only the coal industry, but also American jobs and the economy.

According to Sen. Manchin, “The regulations the President wants to force on coal are not feasible. And if it’s not feasible, it’s not reasonable. It’s clear now that the President has declared a war on coal. It’s simply unacceptable that one of the key elements of his climate change proposal places regulations on coal that are completely impossible to meet with existing technology.

“The fact is clear: our own Energy Department reports that our country will get 37 percent of our energy from coal until 2040. Removing coal from our energy mix will have disastrous consequences for our recovering economy. These policies
punish American businesses by putting them at a competitive disadvantage with our global competitors. And those competitors burn seven-eighths of the world’s coal, and they’re not going to stop using coal any time soon.

“It is only common sense to use all our domestic resources, and that includes our coal. Let’s make sure that government works as our partner, not our adversary, to create a secure and affordable energy future, and let’s invest in technology which will have the ability to burn coal with almost zero emissions.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) also responded quickly.

“EPA is doubling down on its economically destructive plan to essentially end the construction of new coal-fired power plants in America. The proposed standards would require the use of expensive new technologies that are not commercially viable. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal, but this impractical rule restricts access to one of our most abundant, affordable, and dependable energy sources. The consequences will be more job losses and a weaker economy. These stringent standards will actually discourage investment and the development of innovative new technologies that can help us meet the world’s future energy and environmental challenges. The right policies should embrace our energy abundance as part of the solution. The committee will soon hold a hearing on this latest regulatory grab as part of our ongoing effort to protect Americans and jobs from unnecessary and costly red tape,” said Upton.

“President Obama and his EPA have once again moved forward with an extreme regulation that makes it illegal to build a coal-fired electricity plant in America. This move is another attempt to bankrupt the coal industry to fulfill a campaign promise to radical environmentalists. For example, the cleanest coal-fired electricity technology available is known as ultra-supercritical. EPA’s extreme regulation sets an emission limit that not even an ultra-supercritical plant can meet,” said Whitfield. “Sadly, electricity consumers will pay the price, making our economy less competitive in the global market place. Even though the president is taking these extreme steps, they do nothing to curb global greenhouse gas emissions, which even his own EPA administrator acknowledged in my hearing earlier this week. As Chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, I intend to hold hearings to examine every aspect of this regulation. If it is as bad as we think it’s going to be, I, along with other Republicans and Democrats in the United States Congress, wilin the United States Congress, will take every step possible to prevent this regulation from taking effect. We simply cannot afford to place America at an economic disadvantage, particularly when CO2 energy-related emissions are at their lowest levels in 20 years.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McCOnnell (R-Ky) described the White House action as a “just the latest Administration salvo in its never ending War on Coal…The EPA has already stifled the permitting process for new coal mines; the agency has done this so dramatically that they have effectively shut down many coal mines through illegitimate, dilatory tactics…In the year President Obama took office there were over 18,600 employed in the coal industry in my state. But as of September 2013, the number of persons employed at Kentucky coal mines is only 13,000… And the picture is getting worse instead of better. This week, a major employer announced 525 layoffs in its eastern Kentucky mines.

In addition to displaced workers, coal industry companies, and state governments concerned over the loss of jobs and revenue, those advocating U.S. energy independence and lower energy costs are expected to vigorously oppose the EPA proposal.
The timing is somewhat ironic, as new reports indicate that global cooling may have more of a scientific basis than global warming. In response, advocates of stricter controls on energy production have amended the phrase “global warming” to read “climate change” instead, but have not yet responded to how this significant change affects plans to cut greenhouse gases.

In what some media outlets are describing as “climategate 2,” (The original climategate involved approximately 1,000 emails from the University of East Anglia indicating that climate scientists manipulated data to boost global warming claims) United Nations scientist are attempting to explain why global warming has slowed down over the past fifteen years at the same time that greenhouse gases have been increasing.

PRIMARY ENERGY SOURCES

Far too frequently, the debate over U.S. energy policy has been one in which facts have played a second hand role. Examining how America uses each primary source of energy provides a clear picture of the challenges and opportunities that face the nation’s future.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration petroleum use accounts for 36% of total use; natural gas, 27%; coal, 18%; renewable energy (primarily hydropower) 9%; nuclear, 8%.

The use to which each source of primary energy is put varies widely. For example, 71% of petroleum is used for transportation purposes. 91% of coal is used to generate electricity. Along with nuclear power, which supplies 21% of all electrical power, coal and nuclear account for the lion’s share of electrical power used throughout America.

FUTURE PROSPECTS

OIL

The United States has increased oil production from 5.0 million barrels per day in 2008 to 6.5 billion barrels in 2012. This is the result of technological advances, particularly in extracting shale and other “tight” oil formations, as well as the incentive of high prices. Prices could rise even higher as world-wide events, including the possibility of a military clash in the Middle East or Chinese disruption of sea lanes in the Pacific, make an impact.

This is a significant production increase considering a number of governmental handicaps imposed. Most federal lands (Washington owns 650 million acres of land) continue to be kept off-limits for exploitation, and regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency continue to tighten.

If American oil producers are allowed to make appropriate use of domestic resources, there is a continued possibility that the United States could become a net exporter of liquid fuels.

NATURAL GAS

The United States could become a net exporter of natural gas within three years.

According to the industry publication “Energybiz,” “The revolution in drilling technology that has made fracking a household word has changed the American energy policy discussion. Just a few years ago the focus was on dwindling fossil fuels reserves. Now the U.S is debating what to do with all this extra natural gas we have laying around. According to the Associated Press, up to 40% of the U.S. production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) could be exported if all of the current energy company export requests are approved by the government.”

COAL

As the NEW YORK ANALYSIS previously described in depth, the Obama Administration continues to engage in efforts that will have the effect of sharply increasing the cost of coal use. Since the use of coal continues to be an important factor in U.S. energy production, particularly in electrical generation, costs benefits from increases in other energy sources could be offset if those policies continue, to the detriment of power consumers.

NUCLEAR

According to a 2011 assessment by the World Nuclear Association, “The USA is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity. The country’s 104 nuclear reactors produced 821 billion kWh in 2011, over 19% of total electrical output. There are now 100 units operable and three under construction. Following a 30-year period in which few new reactors were built, it is expected that 4-6 new units may come on line by 2020, the first of those resulting from 16 license applications made since mid-2007 to build 24 new nuclear reactors.”

However, in the intervening period, much has changed. During 2013, five nuclear plants have been closed, and expansion efforts at a number of others were halted. Further, 38 older reactors may be shut down early, according to the Vermont Law School Institute for energy & the Environment. A decrease in the availability of nuclear power could have a significant effect on already high power prices, particularly for electricity. Nuclear power provides some of the least expensive energy in the U.S. Proponents note that it is environmentally friendly, providing few emissions. They also note that an ideal safety record in terms of injuries or deaths resulting from its use.

The Manhattan Institute performed a case study on the potential impact of closing the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which is located 40 miles north of New York City. In its study,The Manhattan Institute concluded that:

“… closing IPEC would increase average annual electric expenditures in New York State by $1.5 billion-$2.2 billion over the 15-year period 2016-30. For a typical residential customer, this would mean an increase in the household electric bill of $76-$112 each year. The average increase for a commercial customer would be $772-$1,132 per year. The average increase in industrial customers’ electric bills would be $16,716-$24,517. The largest increase would be for transportation customers, such as the subway system, which would see increases of $1.26-$1.85 million per year. The effects of these higher electricity costs absorbed by customers would ripple through the New York economy, leading to estimated reductions in output of $1.8 billion-$2.7 billion per year over the 15-year period 2016-30. The resulting loss of jobs in the state could range from 26,000 to 40,000 per year, depending on the alternative chosen to replace IPEC.”

Difficult federal roadblocks to the disposal of waste products continue to hamper future prospects.

RENEWABLES

To many, including President Obama, renewable energy-wind, solar, hydropower, biofuels– is the holy grail of energy production. But how much of America’s energy supply can renewables actually provide, and at what cost?

One source of renewable energy that has long been in use is hydroelectric power. According to the Institute for Energy Research,”In 2012, hydropower represented 2.8 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States-much lower than the level it reached in 2011. Hydroelectricity is dependent on amount of participation and will vary somewhat over time…In 2012, renewable energy accounted for 12 percent of the total net electricity generated in the United States Hydropower accounted for 56 percent of that total.”

It is projected that the share of American electrical production will grow, but only from the current 12% to 6% in 2040. Even that modest increase will require a significant increase in the power grid infrastructure, according to the energy collective.com site.

As Congress and the President engage in the annual battle over the federal budget, the massive subsidies given to renewable energy must again be examined. According to theHeritage Foundation “solar and wind receive subsidies of over $23 per megawatt hour compared to $1.59 for nuclear, $0.44 for conventional coal, and $0.25 for natural gas.

CONCLUSION

The United States has abundant sources of energy, sufficient to make it a net exporter within the forseeable future. However, federal regulations and environmental concerns could prevent that from ocurring, as well as keeping prices comparatively high for consumers.

Asian Apocalypse

“In regard to the issues of conflicting interest with its surrounding countries, including Japan, China has attempted to change the status quo by force based on its own assertion which is incompatible with the existing order of international law. The attempts have been criticized as assertive and include risky behavior that could cause contingencies. Thus, there is concern over its future direction”.
–Defense of Japan 2013

The planet’s second and third most powerful economies, China and Japan, may be on a path to conflict. The international economy could be devastated as a result.

The South China Sea is the passageway through which over 50% of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage passes. Fully one third of all seagoing traffic sails through it. In excess of six times the amount of oil that is transported through the Suez Canal and seventeen times that which goes through the Panama Canal traverses this vital body of water. It is also the potential battleground for a Sino-Japanese war.

The specific flashpoints include a variety of territorial disputes, some of which are merely points of sovereignty but in several cases also include claims to area which may have a wealth of natural resources vital to the economies of both nations.

Observers from across the globe consider the current tensions between the two nations the worst since World War Two, made even more dangerous by the immediate threat of armed conflict.

A Stratfor Global Intelligence http://www.startfor.com/weekly/understanding-china-Japan-island-conflict examination outlines the internal political dilemmas facing both nations:

“The islands dispute is occurring as China and Japan, the world’s second- and third-largest economies, are both experiencing political crises at home and facing uncertain economic paths forward. But the dispute also reflects the very different positions of the two countries in their developmental history and in East Asia’s balance of power.
“China, the emerging power in Asia, has seen decades of rapid economic growth but is now confronted with a systemic crisis, one already experienced by Japan in the early 1990s and by South Korea and the other Asian tigers later in the decade. China is reaching the limits of the debt-financed, export-driven economic model and must now deal with the economic and social consequences of this change. That this comes amid a once-in-a-decade leadership transition only exacerbates China’s political unease as it debates options for transitioning to a more sustainable economic model. But while China’s economic expansion may have plateaued, its military development is still growing.
“The Chinese military is becoming a more modern fighting force, more active in influencing Chinese foreign policy and more assertive of its role regionally.”
“Japan, by contrast, has seen two decades of economic malaise characterized by a general stagnation in growth, though not necessarily a devolution of overall economic power. Still, it took those two decades for the Chinese economy, growing at double-digit rates, to even catch the Japanese economy. Despite the malaise, there is plenty of latent strength in the Japanese economy. Japan’s main problem is its lack of economic dynamism, a concern that is beginning to be reflected in Japanese politics, where new forces are rising to challenge the political status quo. The long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party lost power to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan in 2009, and both mainstream parties are facing new challenges from independents, non-traditional candidates and the emerging regionalist parties, which espouse nationalism and call for a more aggressive foreign policy.
“Even before the rise of the regionalist parties, Japan had begun moving slowly but inexorably from its post-World War II military constraints. With China’s growing military strength, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and even South Korean military expansion, Japan has cautiously watched as the potential threats to its maritime interests have emerged, and it has begun to take action. The United States, in part because it wants to share the burden of maintaining security with its allies, has encouraged Tokyo’s efforts to take a more active role in regional and international security, commensurate with Japan’s overall economic influence.
“Concurrent with Japan’s economic stagnation, the past two decades have seen the country quietly reform its Self-Defense Forces, expanding the allowable missions as it re-interprets the country’s constitutionally mandated restrictions on offensive activity.
“China is struggling with the new role of the military in its foreign relations, while Japan is seeing a slow re-emergence of the military as a tool of its foreign relations. China’s two-decade-plus surge in economic growth is reaching its logical limit, yet given the sheer size of China’s population and its lack of progress switching to a more consumption-based economy, Beijing still has a long way to go before it achieves any sort of equitable distribution of resources and benefits. This leaves China’s leaders facing rising social tensions with fewer new resources at their disposal. Japan, after two decades of society effectively agreeing to preserve social stability at the cost of economic restructuring and upheaval, is now reaching the limits of its patience with a bureaucratic system that is best known for its inertia.
“Both countries are seeing a rise in the acceptability of nationalism, both are envisioning an increasingly active role for their militaries, and both occupy the same strategic space. With Washington increasing its focus on the Asia-Pacific region, Beijing is worried that a resurgent Japan could assist the United States on constraining China in an echo of the Cold War containment strategy.”

Despite historical animosity between the two great Asian powers, the level of tension now existing was not inevitable. But China’s meteoric development of military strength, fueled by its powerful economy, a newly belligerent attitude in Beijing, a desire to secure advantageous positions in trade and raw materials, and a sharply diminished American naval presence have left Tokyo vulnerable.

It was not that long ago that a far different relationship, at least temporarily, was envisioned by China’s leadership. Henry Kissinger noted in his book, On China, that in 1978, former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping began his series of visits abroad in Japan, ratifying a treaty normalizing relations. According to Kissinger, “Deng’s strategic design required reconciliation, not merely normalization.”

At the time, China feared the Soviet Union, and felt a need for both Japanese technical knowhow and American military backing.

But the Soviet Union fell, China’s economy outperformed Japan, and the U.S. military diminished sharply. Despite a lack of serious threats in the years when Boris Yeltsin reigned in Moscow, Beijing chose to invest heavily in developing a superpower-level military capable not just fully capable of defending the homeland, but of becoming a preeminent power both in Asia and across the globe.

China has been increasingly aggressive in its assertion of territorial claims not recognized by other nations. One year ago, it boldly sailed into and occupied a resource-rich offshore region belonging to America’s longstanding ally, the Philippines. http://www.examiner.com/article/china-philippine-dispute-could-spark-major-conflict The complete lack of an appropriate reaction by White House is reminiscent of Britain and France’s failure to react forcefully to Germany’s aggression in the years leading up to the 1939 start of the European conflict.

A U.S. Naval War College study http://www.usnwc.edu/getattachment/bfa92a47-1f5f-4c23-974c-f92e1ed27be4/The-Senkaku-Diaoyu-Island-Controversy–A-Crisis-Po.aspx of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Island dispute between China and Japan controversy by Paul J. Smith illustrates the dangers in Sino-Japanese territorial disputes:

“The chances for unintentional conflict, perhaps ignited by tactical miscalculation or an accident involving patrol ships or surveillance aircraft, continue to grow. In general, because of changes in the geopolitical environment, including the relative power position of Japan vis-à-vis China, opportunities for peaceful resolution seem to be rapidly fading. The implications for the future of peace and stability in East Asia are potentially grave.
[Three factors are in play] first, the power relationship between Japan and the People’s republic of China, which drives the dynamics of this dispute, is shifting. In the 1970s and, especially, the 1980s Japan’s economic power was unrivaled in East Asia, while China was comparatively undeveloped and militarily weak. Today the situation has changed…
The second factor that negatively influences prospects for peaceful resolution of the controversy is the geographic location of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands within the East China Sea. As China’s naval power grows, the East China Sea is emerging as a “contested space” between China and Japan. Many American military observers believe that China’s military modernization efforts are increasingly oriented toward missions other than Taiwan—for example, defense of territorial claims in the east and south China seas. In addition to the Senkakus/Diaoyus, China and Japan have other ongoing East China sea disputes, some related to maritime boundaries and hydrocarbon resources. A 2008 agreement that would have facilitated joint exploration of hydrocarbon resources in the east China sea was essentially scuttled by the September 2010 dispute centering on the islands.

From a military perspective, Japanese defense officials appear to view China’s advances into the East China Sea with growing alarm. Japan’s 2012 defense white paper argued that China’s navy is seeking to protect and consolidate maritime interests in the east China sea: ‘It is believed that its naval vessels operated near the drilling facilities of the Kashi oil and gas fields in September 2005, partly because China tried to demonstrate [its] naval capabilities of acquiring, maintaining, and protecting its maritime rights and interests.’ The same document reported that the Chinese air force has deployed various types of aircraft (including H-6 medium range bombers and y-8 early warning aircraft) around the east China sea close to Japan’s airspace…the most important—the U.S. role in the islands controversy.

“The third underlying factor is arguably signaled to Japan, if in careful or conditional language, the applicability of article 5 of the U.S.-Japan defense treaty in a senkaku Islands military contingency. A briefing paper prepared for Henry Kissinger in 1972, for example, stated that the Mutual Security Treaty ‘could be interpreted’ to apply to the Senkakus. At various times Japanese officials sought to clarify whether the United states considered the islands within the scope of the alliance. For instance, in a March 1974 meeting between American and Japanese officials, defense agency chief Sadanori Yamanaka inquired whether the United States, notwithstanding its “neutral” position, would be willing to defend the islands on behalf of Japan under the security treaty. a U.S. defense office’ that the islands, which were administered by Japan, would indeed fall under the treaty.”

While the U.S. State Department has provided more direct assurances that its treaty obligations with Japan include these island disputes, Washington’s failure to protect the Philippines from Chinese incursions continues to worry Tokyo.

Beijing’s General Luo Yuan, in a statement issued in 2012, declared that China should prepare for “war at all costs” to take control of the strategic waterway. http://www.examiner.com/article/china-philippine-dispute-could-spark-major-conflict If it occurs, it could engulf the entire planet in a conflict on a scale not seen since World War two.

In July, China sent a fleet in the strait between Russia and Japan, a clear threat to the Tokyo government. According to Floating Steel staff writers, “Two missile destroyers, two frigates and a supply ship passed through the Soya Strait from the Sea of Japan to the Sea of Okhotsk…a fleet of 16 Russian naval ships was seen moving through the Soya Straight” as well. http://www.spacewar.com/reports/China_naval_fleet_seen_off_northern_Japan_999.html
Overall, China’s activities include intensely provocative moves, including the violation of internationally recognized air and sea space, as well as overtly hostile acts. In January of this year, one of Beijing’s ships directed its fire-control radar at a Japanese naval vessel.

The hostilities have been directed at several nations, including the United States. Fishing boats of several countries have been shot at. In 2009, Chinese vessels intentionally obstructed an American Navy research ship.

According to the authoritative Jamestown Foundation,

“PLA generals have been up front about the possibility of using force to realize China’s oceanic aspirations. As Lieutenant General Wang Sentai, Vice Political Commissar of the PLA Navy, pointed out, ‘History has told us that when our navy is weak, our country is on a downward trend, and when out navy is strong, our country is on the rise,’ he added. Major General Luo Yuan, a hawkish PLA media commentator, reiterated that Beijing might consider the military option against the Philippines. Noting that the Philippine military capacity is among the weakest in Asia, General Luo said that ‘if [Manila] makes an advance of one inch, we will retaliate by making an advance of one foot.’ ‘The South China Sea will become a sea of peace after we have taken back the eight islets that the Philippines have [illegally] occupied,’ he recently noted (China Youth Daily, June 1; China News Service, May 13).” http://www.jamestown.org/programs/chinabrief/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=41056&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=25&cHash=4c0f27c3f989560320958d0c44d7eb88#.UhoVaxttiDe
China has been broadly and rapidly modernizing its military forces, and has been rapidly expanding and intensifying its activities in its surrounding waters and airspace. These moves, together with the lack of transparency in its military affairs and security issues, are a matter of grave concern for the region and the international community, including Japan. It is necessary for Japan to pay utmost attention to them…The Chinese national defense budget continues to increase at a rapid pace. The nominal size of China’s announced national defense budget has approximately quadrupled in size over the past ten years, and has grown more than 33-fold over the past 25 years. –Defense of Japan 2013

China’s official military budget has been rapidly increasing, but even the official figure of a 12% increase may not reflect the vast resources available to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA.) The PLA controls a vast network of “private” enterprises, from which it can draw an almost limited amount of funds. China maintains the world’s largest military in terms of sheer numbers, and has progressed significantly to add top quality to its quantity.

China’s Philippine claims are not recognized by any nation or international body. In several cases, off-shores areas claimed and illegally occupied by Beijing are clearly within Manila’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

China recently launched its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and is expected to develop others in the very near future.

China’s spending has extensively increased both the size and sophistication of its naval forces. Among the most startling developments was the successful deployment of a revolutionary new anti-ship ballistic missile, the DF-21D, http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/china-has-begun-limited-deployment-new-antiship-ballistic-missile-pentagon/ the first of its kind on the planet. This unmatched and exceptionally deadly ship-killing weapon has, according to the United States Naval Institute, quickly forced the United States Navy to change its strategy.

JAPAN

This dramatic turn of events has had a profound impact on the people of Japan, who are now debating a sharp reversal in their largely pacifist foreign policy and constitution. Sharp differences regarding territorial claims exist between China and other regional countries, and Beijing’s heavy emphasis on a show of military strength against its far weaker neighbors such as the Philippines and Japan is indicative of the hostile nature and heavy influence of China’s military.
Masahisa Sato, top defense adviser to Shinzo Abe, recently and passionately stated (as quoted in the Wall Street Journal): “we have people we want to protect. We must have the resolve to hand this nation to the next generation.” Japan has finally (after an eleven year hiatus) has finally increased its defense budget.
Japan’s recently issued defense white paper http://www.mod.go.jp/e/publ/w_paper/2013.html outlines Tokyo’s distress:

“China has attempted to change the status quo by force based on its own assertion which is incompatible with international law…China has been rapidly modernizing its military forces…it is necessary for Japan to pay attention…The nominal size of China’s announced national defense budget has approximately quadrupled in size over the past ten years, and has grown more than 33-fold over the past 25 years.”
According to Gertz, China is building two new classes of missile submarine in addition to the eight nuclear missile submarines and six attack submarines being deployed as part of an arms buildup that analysts say appears to put Beijing on a war footing.” http://freebeacon.com/red-china-power/
These developments have forced Tokyo to strongly reconsider its peace constitution. Beijing’s aggressiveness and lack of interest in negotiated settlements, and the long standing hostility between the two nations (extending as far back as the 13th Century) is seen as an existential threat to the Japanese people, forcing the nation to rearm.

Japan recently commissioned the largest warship it has developed since the end of World War 2, the Izumo, a flat-top helicopter destroyer. A purely visual analysis of the new craft suggests it may be able to support VTOL (vertical take off and landing) fighters, as well. This development “would be a departure for Japan…which has not sought to build aircraft carriers of its own because of Constitutional restrictions that limit its military forces to a defensive role,” as noted by a Sky News report. http://news.sky.com/story/1125173/japan-unveils-largest-warship-since-wwii.

Tokyo is also considering instituting a Marine Corps-like capability, as well as the use of military-class drones, according to a SpaceWar sudy. http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Japan_eyeing_Marines_drones_in_defence_paper_reports_999.html

The recent, unprecedented joint maneuvers between Russia and China in the Sea of Japan sent an unmistakable signal to the United States that a new world order was being born, one which sharply reduces American influence in a portion of the planet that is the fulcrum of international commerce. The increased confidence of Beijing and Moscow, both of which have invested heavily in the development of naval power specifically targeting the supremacy of the diminished U.S. Navy, has dire global implications.

After the bitter experience of World War II, it would be natural to assume that Asian-Pacific nations would be wary of any move by Tokyo towards rearmament. But the threat from China is so significant that the opposite is true.

Defense expert Seth Cropsey, in his recent book, Mayday: The Decline of American Naval Supremacy, notes:

“Alberto del Rosario, the Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Philippines, a nation that imperial Japan ravaged in World War II, said publicly in December 2012 that he ‘would welcome very much’ the rearmament of Japan as a counterpoise to China.’ This startling about-face in a region where memories are long shows how seriously regional powers regard China’s unchecked rising military. American seapwer needs the resources to assure allies, control the seas if necessary, and restrict a potential conflict to the seas t\rather than risk its expansion to the Asian land mass.”

The mainland of the United States, while clear across the vast Pacific Ocean, is not so remote that it beyond the reach of China’s military expansion. According to the Washington Free Beacon, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jun/7/china-encircles-us-arming-western-hemisphere-state/?page=all “China has been quietly taking steps to encircle the United States by arming Western Hemisphere states, seeking closer military, economic, and diplomatic ties to U.S. neighbors, and sailing warships into U.S. maritime zone s.” http://www.examiner.com/article/china-a-major-factor-latin-america

In addition to Chinese investments on either side of the Panama Canal, giving Beijing a strategic point from which to counter the American Navy, Nicaragua, led by the Marxist-Leninist Daniel Ortega, has given China a “100 year concession” to build its own alternative to the Panama Canal, according to a report by The Guardian newspaper http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/o6/nicaragua-china-panama-canal

China’s President Xi visited Latin America in June in an effort to bolster Beijing’s arms sales to the region. Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador are recent regional purchasers of Chinese weapons, according to Bill Gertz writing in the Washington Free Beacon.

The sharply weakened American navy, less than half the size of its 1990 peak and the smallest since the First World War, combined with an unprecedented lack of support for American allies, renders this threat from China on a par equal to that faced by France and Britain during the rise of the Third Reich.

The Syrian Irony

The extraordinary irony surrounding President Obama’s Rose Garden message concerning Syria should not be overlooked by the public.
Mr. Obama vehemently critiqued former President George W. Bush’s 2003 war that resulted in the downfall of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Saddam Hussein used banned weaponry to murder members of his own citizenry, and committed numerous other crimes against humanity. Obama criticized Bush for his efforts that successfully toppled the illegitimate Iraqi regime.

Along with many other Democrats, Obama falsely stated that Bush was, essentially, acting without international approval. Largely ignored was the 49-member “Coalition of the Willing” that joined with the United States in an effort that was a model of international cooperation. In sharp contrast, Mr. Obama has failed to convince even America’s most steadfast ally, the United Kingdom, to provide assistance.

Rewriting history, many in Mr. Obama’s camp alleged that the Bush Administration acted without the support of the rest of the nation. Conveniently forgotten was the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, overwhelmingly supported by Democrats and Republicans. Again in sharp contrast, only after suffering humiliating rejection by both the U.N. and our allies did President Obama mention going to Congress for approval.

Indeed, not only has Mr. Obama failed to win international support, but he faces vehement and potentially armed opposition from Russia, Iran, and possibly China. These powers now act with greater confidence against the West thanks to Obama’s continued defunding of the American military and his pointless concessions to Moscow in the New Start nuclear arms treaty.

Perhaps the most crushing irony of all was the charge that one of the several causes of the Iraqi War of 2003, the necessity of removing banned weapons such as the material used to gas Iraqi civilians, did not exist. Now, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that these forbidden items did exist and were moved to Syria before Coalition forces could intercept them.

Unlike toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime, the rationale for the Iraqi War of 2003, Mr. Obama’s proposed course of action, launching a limited number of cruise missiles at Syria not to depose Bashar al-Assad, and not to totally destroy his military, but to simply express America’s displeasure, seems unfocused.
The Bush toppling of Saddam Hussein opened up a new era both for the Iraqi people and the Middle East as a whole. Scenes of proud citizens holding up “purple fingers” proving they had voted in that nation’s first free election ouster seemed to foretell a potential new breath of freedom for the entire region. But that accomplishment was all but destroyed by Mr. Obama’s premature withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, which, in their absence, has fallen prey to extremists and now sits in Iran’s orbit.

Bashar al-Assad’s use of banned weaponry against his own civilians could not be a more blatant violation of United Nations standards. Yet that organization, which Mr. Obama has often deferred to during his tenure, has completely failed to live up to the tenets of its own charter.