Category Archives: U.S.

‘YouTube effect’ has left police officers under siege, law enforcement leaders say – The Washington Post

Chiefs of some of the nation’s biggest police departments say officers in American cities have pulled back and have stopped policing as aggressively as they used to, fearing that they could be the next person in a uniform featured on a career-ending viral video.

That was the unifying — and controversial — theory reached Wednesday at a private meeting of more than 100 of the nation’s top law enforcement officers and politicians.

With homicide rates soaring inexplicably this year in dozens of U.S. cities, the group convened by new U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch concluded with a brief news conference promising a robust response to the reversal of decades of falling violent crime rates.

‘YouTube effect’ has left police officers under siege, law enforcement leaders say – The Washington Post

Face-off with China could trigger escalation towards military conflicts | TODAYonline

On Oct 27, USS Lassen, a guided missile destroyer, entered the 12-nautical mile zone of one of the Chinese-controlled features of the Spratly Islands, which are currently going through massive land reclamation. China immediately issued strong protests against the move by the United States. However, the Pentagon and the US Navy have stated that the so-called “freedom of navigation patrols” will become routine in the future.

Although China did not take concrete action this time to confront the US warship, future such operations could gravely destabilise the South China Sea situation and even the peace and stability of the whole region. They could touch off an unintended escalation and push the two countries towards military conflict. The logic is quite obvious.

Various Chinese rhetoric and measures suggest that China could resort to more concrete and forceful measures to confront the US navy. If so, a face-off between the two navies becomes inevitable. Even worse, the face-off may trigger an escalation towards military conflicts.

However, the US military appears oblivious to this scenario. A logical answer lies in the current conventional military imbalance between the two countries. The vast US conventional military superiority in theory discourages China from responding forcefully to the projected scenario. It is highly likely that US decision-makers assume China would adopt a policy of inaction when facing intruding American naval vessels.

Face-off with China could trigger escalation towards military conflicts | TODAYonline

US May Be on Verge of Another Housing Crisis

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-backed housing corporations bailed out seven years ago by federal taxpayers, reportedly may be headed for trouble again.

“Despite post-financial crisis pressure to reform, neither Fannie nor Freddie has done much to mitigate the risk to the American taxpayer inherent in government backing for these institutions,” CNS News reported, citing The Heritage Foundation.

Nobel laureate economist Robert Shiller of Yale University warns that the global economy continues to seek solid footing, and economic signs don’t look promising.

“We’re in a puzzling economy,” Shiller told Bloomberg TV. “This weak economy, it’s worldwide, and it might be a long-term malaise.”

CNS News: US May Be on Verge of Another Housing Crisis

China’s naval chief warns U.S. ‘minor incident’ may spark war in S. China Sea | The Japan Times

China’s naval commander told his U.S. counterpart that a minor incident could spark war in the South China Sea if the United States did not stop its “provocative acts” in the disputed waterway, the Chinese navy said on Friday.

Adm. Wu Shengli made the comments to the U.S. chief of naval operations, Adm. John Richardson, during a video teleconference on Thursday, according to a Chinese naval statement.

“If the United States continues with these kinds of dangerous, provocative acts, there could well be a seriously pressing situation between frontline forces from both sides on the sea and in the air, or even a minor incident that sparks war,” the statement paraphrased Wu as saying.

China’s naval chief warns U.S. ‘minor incident’ may spark war in S. China Sea | The Japan Times

This is another example of how America and China have reached a tipping point: Something small leads to something very big.

Just a reminder that according to my snow avalanche model, once you reach a tipping point it is harder to prevent the avalanche than it is to have an avalanche. In the case of America and China, preventing war will be harder than having one. After all, it will only take something minor to spark a war. Sooner or later something is going to happen that escalates and quickly becomes unstoppable.

Needed: ‘Honest Broker’ To Stop U.S., China From Clashing In Disputed South China Sea – Forbes

The U.S. challenge to China in the South China Sea means “an honest broker” is needed to sort out the problems and stop the confrontation from spiraling out of control. That’s the view of a former South Korean foreign minister, Song Min-Soon, as he considers “dangerous developments” in the wake of the foray by the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen within the 12-mile limit set by China around the Spratly Islands.

What’s happening there is “very dangerous for all Asia,” Song told a conflab of policy-makers and think-tankers gathered in Seoul to consider “new horizons for multilateral cooperation in Northeast Asia.”

Song, who has served as his country’s national security adviser and is a member of the National Assembly, clearly sees the standoff in the South China Sea as rippling around the periphery of Asia to the Korean peninsula and Japan.

Needed: ‘Honest Broker’ To Stop U.S., China From Clashing In Disputed South China Sea – Forbes

China Warns US To Think Again And Not Stir Trouble As US Navy Sails Close To Disputed Islands In South China Sea

Willy Lam, a specialist on Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told International Business Times that the situation could “turn sour.”

“The generals close to Xi Jinping are pushing him to continue flexing China’s muscles,” he said, “and if the Chinese are seen as backing down at the last minute Xi will lose face. [So] the South China Sea is potentially a very dangerous flash point.”

Reader comments on Chinese news websites that reported the U.S. naval operation were a reminder that the government — which recently demonstrated its military capacity at a large parade in Beijing to mark the anniversary of the end of World War II — could face public pressure to make a tough response. Of some 200 comments on Shanghai news website The Paper by mid-morning Tuesday, the majority angrily condemned the action of the U.S. ship.

China Warns US To Think Again And Not Stir Trouble As US Navy Sails Close To Disputed Islands In South China Sea

The new nuclear war threat in US-China ties – The Straits Times

“As America’s ability to score a swift and decisive victory over China with conventional forces alone dwindles, the probability grows that any conflict between them would escalate in time, space and intensity. And as that happens, the risk that it would cross the nuclear threshold rises too.”

Could a confrontation between America and China ever escalate into a nuclear war? At first glance, the idea seems absurd – surely no one has worried about that kind of thing since the Cold War ended 25 years ago?

But what if Chinese leaders see things differently? Viewed from Beijing, the nuclear balance might look much less unfavourable to China. Indeed, the Chinese might even see the nuclear calculus coming out in their favour. That’s because they think that America’s advantage in weapons is counterbalanced by their advantage in resolve.

To see how they might think this, consider how, in a crisis over Taiwan, Beijing could try to deter Washington from helping Taiwan resist a Chinese attack by threatening a nuclear attack on Guam. That threat would be credible only if the threat of US retaliation against China for an attack on Guam was deterred by the threat of Chinese counter-retaliation against the US.

But that might easily happen. …

The new nuclear war threat in US-China ties – The Straits Times

The Tipping Point: Has the U.S.-China Relationship Passed the Point of No Return? | The National Interest

Other reports from this newspaper, a state-sponsored Chinese media outlet, have made it clear that if the bottom line for the United States is that China must end all of its land reclamation activities in the South China Sea, then war is inevitable, which suggests that this issue may be the tipping point for the Sino-American relationship. How the United States and China choose to move forward on this issue will permanently redefine the relationship between these two great powers.

… As there is currently no clear solution to this problem that would allow both countries to walk out of this situation with their heads held high, these two states are pondering the unthinkable. Depending on each country’s level of commitment and resolve, this situation may have already passed the tipping point.

The Tipping Point: Has the U.S.-China Relationship Passed the Point of No Return? | The National Interest

Based on my definition of tipping point, we are clearly at a tipping point: Small Input => Huge Output

That does not mean we are at the point of no return. It means we are very near the point of no return. For example, if there were a revolution in China today, then war could possibly be avoided.

In my opinion America and China have been on a path toward war since Deng Xiaoping’s “24-Character Strategy” in 1990. Now we have finally reached a tipping point.

Deng Xiaoping’s “24-Character Strategy”

Deng Xiaoping’s “24-Character Strategy” first emerged in 1990 in response both to the global backlash from the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and to the CCP’s sense of alarm following the collapse of the communist states of Eastern Europe.49 The strategy provided basic principles on how China should protect its national interests while increasing its interactions with the world. The “24-Character Strategy’’ has been roughly translated as:

“Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.”

As stated in a 2010 essay posted on an official CCP website, “Hide our capabilities and bide our time, make some contributions” and related thoughts were put forward by Deng Xiaoping for the ‘special period’ of the late 1980s and early 1990s, in the midst of sudden changes in Eastern Europe and the collapse of the socialist camp. . . . Currently, there are people in other countries who have produced misunderstandings and distortions of ‘hide our capabilities and bide our time.’ These people believe that China’s foreign policy strategy has a long-term, undeclared content and purpose:

This is that China believes that its current strength is insufficient, and the time has not yet come to announce and implement this great strategy, and consequently must ‘Hide our capabilities and bide our time,’ concealing the true situation and waiting for the right time of opportunity. . . . However, this is . . . a serious misunderstanding and distortion of the ‘hide our capabilities and bide our time’ idea stated by Comrade Deng Xiaoping . . . the original idea of using the expression ‘hide our capabilities and bide our time’ was the strategy of ‘developing ourselves,’ and not at all to ‘seek revenge on others’ after we have developed.”

Deng Xiaoping’s “24-Character Strategy”

‘the original idea of using the expression ‘hide our capabilities and bide our time’ was the strategy of ‘developing ourselves,’ and not at all to ‘seek revenge on others’ after we have developed.”‘

Of course Deng Xiaoping’s “24-Character Strategy” was implemented to hide China’s capabilities and true intent until it was strong enough to ‘seek revenge on others.’ We can clearly see that China’s peaceful rise has been thrown aside now that China is strong enough. Now we can glimpse the true China. And it’s not a pretty sight.

We know China seeks revenge because of the following story that every child in China is taught:

Why You Should Care About the Chinese War Between Wu and Yue | 1913 Intel

The story of the king [Goujian] who slept on sticks and tasted gall is as known to the Chinese as George Washington and the cherry tree are to Americans. He has become a symbol of resistance against the treaty ports, foreign concessions and the years of colonial humiliation.

King Goujian was defeated by King Fuchai and taken prisoner. He worked in the royal stables and gradually won the respect of Fuchai. Later he was allow to govern his old kingdom under Fuchai. Goujian quietly bided his time over eight years until he was strong enough to finally attack and defeat Fuchai.

Taken like that, the parable of Goujian sums up what some people find alarming about China’s rise as a superpower today. Ever since Deng Xiaoping set about reforming the economy in 1978, China has talked peace. Still militarily and economically too weak to challenge America, it has concentrated on getting richer. Even as China has grown in power and rebuilt its armed forces, the West and Japan have run up debts and sold it their technology. China has been patient, but the day when it can once again start to impose its will is drawing near.

Why You Should Care About the Chinese War Between Wu and Yue | 1913 Intel

This is about humiliation by the West and revenge.

If America will not back down over the South China Sea, there will be war. If America and Japan will not back down over the Senkaku Islands, there will be war. China cannot back down and must push forward because of historical humiliation and desire for revenge.

The Pentagon: Push out talented leaders and retain/promote the weak ones

I’ve posted excerpts from three different articles: One focuses on weak or poor military leaders, the next focuses on how talented leaders are pushed out, and finally the last provides a glimpse of how US military leaders are doing against Russia. If you let this process play out over a long period of time, then you end up with a system that is completely controlled by weak military leaders.

Generally, the Pentagon can get away with this kind of process for a very long time. Then a really big crisis is going to come along. When that happens things will fall apart.

Pentagon investigations point to military system that promotes abusive leaders – The Washington Post

Most military commanders are upstanding and well-respected by their troops. Many are hailed as heroes, particularly after more than a dozen years of war. But in recent months, the armed forces have been shaken by an embarrassing number of generals and admirals who have gotten into trouble for gambling, drinking and sleeping around, among other ethical lapses.

Some current and former officers say those cases are symptomatic of a more damaging problem: a system that promotes and tolerates too many lousy leaders.

“This is a larger issue of not only officer misconduct involving ethical issues, but let’s call these guys for what they are: toxic leaders,” said Christopher Walach, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and battalion commander who served two combat tours in Iraq.

[Files detail misconduct dogging armed forces]

Walach said he left the Army in 2008 largely because of what he described as a destructive command climate. “It destroys the message that draws many into the ranks of the military in the first place,” he said.

Published on January 28, 2014

Pentagon investigations point to military system that promotes abusive leaders – The Washington Post

An Air Force officer: The military doesn’t want to retain talent (or at least that’s the perception) | Foreign Policy

I asked readers to email me with their comments. Here’s one, from a disillusioned young Air Force officer:

Let’s go ahead and admit it. The military stifles talent — in fact, it seems almost designed to drive out talent. No rational actor would choose to play this game. Before you label me as bitter or disloyal, consider the following flaws endemic to our system. What I offer are the perceptions that junior officers have of the bureaucracy they’re trying to navigate. Put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself what your chances of staying in would be, once your four-to-five-year commitment was up. Caveat emptor: These are the observations of a top performing mid-career Air Force officer across four bases, five skill communities, and ten years, based on the beliefs observed among the company grade officers around him.

– The promotion system offers no opportunity to excel or advance. As an officer, the first truly competitive promotion (where you can get promoted ahead of your peer group) is at your 15th year. Fifteen years. Before that you can only disqualify yourself; you can miss a critical gate and fall behind the rest of your peer group.

– The retirement system discourages risk taking. It’s an all-or-nothing, up-or-out system. If you fall behind your peer group, you will get passed over for promotion. Getting passed over makes it nearly impossible to remain in the force long enough to draw retirement. Retirement is only paid upon reaching 20 years; if you serve fewer than 20, you get nothing. Risks can only hurt you.

– The assignment system directs assignments based on the need for an officer of a particular career code (i.e., “Security Forces”) and rank (i.e., “Major”) in a location. It makes no attempt to catalog their skills, intentionally develop them, or track officers towards experiences they will need for higher command. Most officers don’t even talk to their assignment team before being handed an assignment. Refusing any assignment means you must resign within seven days.

– Deployments, remote tours, hardship tours, and thankless staff jobs are frequently cited as ways to “pull ahead” of the pack. Successful senior leaders emphasize their divorces and flaunt how many years they’ve been away from their families. Rewards appear to be aligned with willingness to sacrifice work/life balance; no rational organization defines success by how much they can give up.

– Officer performance management offers no transparency; officers are not given real, honest, or timely feedback. Only the top 25% are ever quantified and stratified (“My #1 of 25 Captains!”) in performance reports. The rest are left to assume they’re doing ok; that they’re somewhere just below that top 25%. Lacking stratification, reports are written as if each officer is fantastic. Grade inflation leads to ego inflation which encourages both complacency and mediocrity.

– Officer performance reports offer no objective measures of success or mission accomplishment. Absent objective measures, officers are left with subjective measures — specifically, how much their bosses like them compared to their peers. When promotion and stratification depend on your boss’ regard for you, a system creates perverse incentives toward politicking, backstabbing, and whitewashing your record. This system should naturally select towards the selfish and power-hungry.

– Promotion boards appear arbitrary and capricious. The Air Force freely admits that each officer’s paper records get fewer than 30 seconds of review when being scored for promotion. Given the lack of stratification on most officers’ records and the grade inflation for lack of objective criteria, most officers can only guess at what might be missing. The board presents no feedback to the officers being considered for promotion.

– The career field structure creates sub-competitions which do not select the best available talent for senior leadership. Some career fields top out at Major, meaning those career fields are effectively ineligible for senior leadership. Others are disproportionately selected because of cultural bias (e.g., fighter pilots) despite being relatively less equipped to manage large organizations. Note that your career field is selected for you, after you’ve agreed to commission, and is exceptionally difficult to change.

– Promotion is a one-way street — officers cannot be demoted and then promoted again — so one mistake (sometimes one bad performance report) can be a career killer. Negative feedback will only occur when someone is already on the way out — this pattern encourages passive aggressive leadership. Officers will not be afforded a chance to learn from their mistakes or grow.

– There are no established success criteria for reaching senior leadership; officers are left to infer the right career path from anecdotes, most of which are not positive. Since generals are most exposed to promising and like-minded colonels within their career field, the flag officer ranks appear to be primarily driven by nepotism and politics.

– The decision structure is exceptionally vertical, resulting in a top-down economy of ideas even though the information resides at the bottom. Important decisions must go through multiple levels of commanders, each time being “fixed” by officers with less knowledge of the problem. Much of an officer’s time (and career) are spent simplifying complex problems to be presented to a flag officer who has very little time to understand them. New ideas and initiatives are generally unwelcome, and especially from the junior ranks.

Why would a bright and enterprising young officer want to compete in this Air Force? Is there a sense of efficacy? Can they expect to manage their growth, develop their skills, or guide their own career? What young strategic thinker would choose this life? What senior leader would design this system?

The key issues in retaining top talent, at least for the Air Force, revolve around transparency, efficacy, and the incentive structure. Most of these rules are self-imposed. This is the culture we’ve ossified into. If we want to keep our top talent as we downsize and pivot to newer and more complex warfighting domains (e.g., drones, cyber) we have to fix this now.

An Air Force officer: The military doesn’t want to retain talent (or at least that’s the perception) | Foreign Policy

If you think the Pentagon is going to make good decisions that will ensure your protection then think again. Look at how the US is being caught flatfooted concerning electronic warfare with Russia:

Russia’s Winning the Electronic War | Foreign Policy [Oct 21, 2015]

In Ukraine and Syria, Russian forces are using high-tech equipment to jam drones and block battlefield communications — and forcing the U.S. to scramble to catch up.

It’s just one part of a sophisticated Russian electronic warfare (EW) effort in Ukraine that has proved a sobering experience for the U.S. Army. Faced with how the newly modernized Russian army is operating in Ukraine and Syria — using equipment like the Krasukha-4, which jams radar and aircraft —American military officials are being forced to admit they’re scrambling to catch up.

Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army units in Europe, has described Russian EW capabilities in Ukraine as “eye-watering.” Ronald Pontius, deputy to Army Cyber Command’s chief, Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, told a conference this month that “you can’t but come to the conclusion that we’re not making progress at the pace the threat demands.”

Russia’s Winning the Electronic War | Foreign Policy

Everybody seems to have been caught off-guard about Russia’s move into Syria. That’s another bad sign.

It seems the Pentagon has been focused on terrorism for so long that it forgot about Russia and China. Not exactly a sign of good military leadership. Ignoring those countries that are perfectly able to terminate your country is a bad idea.

If US relations with China turn sour, there will probably be war | The Guardian

What is the biggest challenge facing the next president of the United States? How to deal with China. The relationship between the emerging and the enduring superpower is the greatest geopolitical question of our time.

If Washington and Beijing do not get it right, there will probably be war somewhere in Asia some time over the next decade. Vladimir Putin’s neo-imperialist Russia and the brutality of Islamic State are medium-sized regional challenges by comparison. Climate change and the world economy cannot be managed without American-Chinese cooperation. All this demands a bipartisan American grand strategy for the next 20 years, but US politics seems incapable of generating anything more than a partisan soundbite for the next 20 minutes.

Here is the tragedy of a policy on which so much depends for us all. The United States has a sophisticated policy community capable of generating the bipartisan and multilateral grand strategy towards China that we need. Unfortunately it has developed a way of doing politics which makes it impossible to sustain such a strategy. To adapt a famous observation by putative special China envoy Bill Clinton: it’s the politics that are stupid.

If US relations with China turn sour, there will probably be war | Timothy Garton Ash | Comment is free | The Guardian

“If Washington and Beijing do not get it right, there will probably be war somewhere in Asia some time over the next decade.”

So we have to depend on Washington and Beijing getting it right. What is the probability of that? Pretty low in my thinking. Aren’t relations between the US and China already tense? How much will it take for things to get worse? How about the US testing freedom of navigation in the South China Sea any day now?