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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 12-Jul-2016
12-Jul-16 World View -- Japan's election opens the way to repeal 'pacifism' constitution clause

Web Log - July, 2016

12-Jul-16 World View -- Japan's election opens the way to repeal 'pacifism' constitution clause

Increasingly angry China rams Vietnamese boat as tribunal ruling expected

This morning's key headlines from

Increasingly angry China rams Vietnamese boat as tribunal ruling expected

Nguyen Thi Nang (L) sits next to a radio operator, waiting for news from her husband, captain Vo Van Luu, after his boat was reportedly sunk by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea
Nguyen Thi Nang (L) sits next to a radio operator, waiting for news from her husband, captain Vo Van Luu, after his boat was reportedly sunk by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea

In what is likely to be increasingly a sign of things to come, Chinese vessels on Saturday rammed a Vietnamese fishing boat and sank it, and then prevented another Vietnamese ship from rescuing the crew members, as they clung to the sinking ship to keep from drowning. The five crew members were in the waters for over six hours before the Chinese ships left, permitting another Vietnamese ship to rescue the crew. The incident took place in waters that have been fished by Vietnam for centuries.

China's rhetoric has become increasingly panicky, even publicly releasing 'evidence' that turns out to be delusional. ( "22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax")

The rhetoric has worsened approaching July 12, when the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague will issue its long-awaited ruling on a case brought by the Philippines against China on the merits of China's claims to the entire South China Sea. The case is brought under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which China claims does not apply to them. ( "7-Jul-16 World View -- South China Sea tension set to escalate after July 12 arbitration ruling")

Here's a typical Chinese media news story:

"On the South China Sea issue, some Western media have spared no efforts to make "news", tapping lies to cover the truth and misguide public opinions thereon, which is considered by experts and scholars to be unfair and misleading. ...

A quick glimpse of the website of the U.S. magazine The National Interest shows that there are quite a number of articles concerning the South China Sea, including ones titled "China's Reckless South China Sea Strategy Won't Work", and "China's Bogus South China Sea Consensus", among others

Almost all of these headlines are biased in opinion and exaggeratedly worded, without uttering the least responsible words as a magazine in a big media country.

Japan's The Diplomat, America's Business Insider and the Washington Post have frequently mentioned in their reports that China intends to turn the South China Sea into its "internal lake" or "a Chinese lake".

In doing so, they just turned a blind eye to the fact that the South China Sea islands have been part of the Chinese territory under international law and since ancient times, and played up sensational concepts in a bid to wrench the facts and misguide their readers.

Some media even simply fabricate stories in order to smear China, attempting to impress their readers that the situation is tense in the disputed waters."

There's a real hysterical quality to this situation. Assuming that the tribunal rules in favor of the Philippines, the tribunal has no way to enforce any decision it issues, so China can just ignore the ruling, which it has already said it would do. But having already rammed Vietnamese boats, manufactured evidence and made fantastical claims, China is in an extremely emotional and dangerous state, and this may have consequences. Sky News (Australia) and Tuoi Tre News (Vietnam) and Xinhua

Japan's election opens the way to repeal 'pacifism' constitution clause

Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won a resounding election victory on Sunday that opens the door for Abe to get Japan's constitution amended to remove the "pacifism" clause, as I wrote three days ago.

The LDP, along with its coalition partner Komeito, now has a two-thirds "supermajority" in both the upper and lower houses of the Diet (parliament). This gives Abe the votes to amend the consitution.

The pacifism clause forbids any military action by the Japanese except in self-defense on Japanese soil. For Abe, amending this clause is personal, in that he's following in the path of his grandfather, Kishi Nobusuke, who served as prime minister of Japan from 1957-60. Kishi disliked the pacifism clause because it made Japan too dependent on the United States, and he wanted Japan to be completely self-reliant in national defense. For Abe, amending this clause would fulfill his grandfather's wish.

However, even with a super-majority in both houses of the Diet, removing the pacifism clause will be very difficult because of widespread opposition to doing so. An exit poll indicates that the country is deeply divided on this issue, with 36% of the voters opposing the change and 29.6% supporting it, with 34.4% undecided.

Those who support the change do so because of growing fears about terrorism, North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons ambitions and China’s military assertiveness, while those who oppose it take pride in the war-renouncing pledge. Japan Today and Japan Times

US will send 560 more troops to Iraq

In yet another flip-flop, the Obama administration announced that it will send another 560 US troops to Iraq, to fight the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter made the announcement on Monday during a surprise visit to Iraq.

This will bring the number of US troops in Iraq to about 6,000, including those on temporary assignment. This is a reversal for President Obama, who promised to withdraw all troops from Iraq, and did so in December 2011. Since then, Iraq's situation has continued to deteriorate, and Obama has been forced to abandon his campaign promises and send troops back to Iraq. One month ago, Obama also further abandoned his campaign promises to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. ( "11-Jun-16 World View -- In a reversal, Obama allows US troops in Afghanistan in combat roles")

The US troops will be part of an effort to recapture Raqqa, ISIS' self-declared capital, and Mosul from ISIS. ISIS has occupied Mosul since June 2014.

According to one analyst, retired Marine general Anthony Zinni,

"Reading between the lines, I suspect that he has some major commitments from the Iraqis, Kurds, and Syrian opposition to go for the gold. ... I also suspect that Carter is convinced that Mosul and Raqqa are isolated. It sounds like he will use this to pressure regional allies to step up their contributions."

Zinni was commander of all US forces in the region as chief of U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000. Washington Post and Time

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jul-16 World View -- Japan's election opens the way to repeal 'pacifism' constitution clause thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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