Sunday, December 16, 2012


Lower House Election in Japan.

After all the troubles, and the additional disappointment of November in the USA, finally there is a clear victory for those of us with at least some amount of sense.

A big win, too:

The Liberal Democratic Party took 294 seats of the 480 out there.

Their "allies" New Komeito took another 31.

Two minor parties that might actually be allies of the LDP, Your Party and Japan Restoration Party, took 18 and 54 seats respectively.

Oh, and the Democrats? The ones that had 230 seats (+ a handful of useful idiots minor party supporters)? They got 57 seats... fifty seven.

Now if we can overturn that damnable Consumption Tax Increase, get some real tax reform here, and get back to spending government money primarily on the things government is supposed to do...

So yeah, we've got a chance here. Sorry Yanks, you had yours... but we'll see about trying to help once we've got our problems under control here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembrance Day, 2012

Remembrance Day.

Armistice Day... and Veteran's Day in the U.S.A.

The list of friends to visit got rather longer this year, but that's how I spent my day.

I still think it is quite the pity that my adopted country (Japan) pays no national recognition to the day, but the bad memories of WW II apparently still outweigh the credit due to the glorious dead of Meiji and Taisho times (1860's~1920's). About the only event I know of is at the "Foreign" Cemetery in Yokohama, which always has a Remembrance Day that notes the Japanese role in WW I and The Siberian Intervention in addition to the recognition of Commonwealth graves at that site... but it's been years since I was down that way.

Ich hatt' einen Kameraden...


On a more upbeat note, my best Veteran's Day wishes to:

My BBBAM (Big Brother, by another Mother) who reportedly remains hale and hearty in his retirement. E-8 on his way out the door (a couple of years ago now), but still properly addressed as "Agent", and...

The ol' Misawa hand (another BBAM, but younger) who managed to fit in a whole bunch of non-military fun in between episodes of showing that a few Zoomies sometimes have to get out in the dirt and do a real job.

Both you guys be well and safe... and I'll see you 'Stateside maybe this Spring.


Quick reminder before anyone lumps me in again with the heroes that this day honors: I am not formally considered prior-service. The US Army did see to my first years of training (and a couple trots around the block) and the USMC did kindly provide for an Honorable Discharge when it was time to get out of uniformed service. The rest of the party after that doesn't officially count either.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Some thoughts...

Some thoughts...

and an outburst

...about losing four Americans including Chris Stevens (U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens; Libya) in the Benghazi Consulate Attack, and the current protest / assault against American interests sweeping across various countries-in-turmoil.

Yes. I did wait for a couple of days to get as many different reports in as I could before commenting.

First the outburst:

DAMN IT! Avoidable; it seems as of information coming out today, predictable; and absolutely unforgivable that an Ambassador was in a low-security Consulate in a risk-area at ten o'clock at night with only his traveling (and likely doing more than one job) Diplomatic Security close-team at the location.

Now the thoughts:

There should currently be a search for at least two replacement Ambassadors going on in Foggy Bottom. The public conduct of the US EMB CAIRO has been shameful and I don't care if the Ambassador was out and he left Public Affairs in the hands of underlings. Command Responsibility and all that.

While we're at it, this sort of multi-level screw up should fall on the Administration, especially the SecState. Given the crew currently running the regime in D.C., that's not going to happen voluntarily, but it should.

There can't be, for many reasons, any public recognition of some of the people who kept the 37 Americans that survived the Benghazi Consulate Attacks (multiple wave complex assault; it was not just a riot, folks), it is probably ok in the near future to hang some public "thank-you" on the small detachment ...reportedly U.S. Marines, reportedly only eight men... that were rushed in from the Embassy in Tripoli and were essential in holding things together until a proper rescue / evacuation could be done. Same goes for the loyal-to-the-Libyan-government troops that did help... yes, there were some.

The apology from the Libyan government and their promise to bring the attackers to justice is one that should be accepted. It also should be waved in the face of any local official that interferes with the effort to bag the attackers... oh and while one is at it, do find out why the local Libyan "guards" helped the attackers continue their assault... and bag them all too.

Egypt, specifically "President" Mursi, on the other hand... need to pretty quick be doing the old Chinese Kowtow crawl to the steps of the White House for their role in actively promoting the fraud that led to the Cairo Riot and Perimeter Breach... or a reply somewhat similar to that made to the Boxer Rebellion is entirely in order.

Karzai in Afghanistan, jumping on the "Outrageous Outrage" bandwagon, needs to remember his place in the order of things... or else.

In fact, the entire "Outrageous Outrage" as a political mechanism by the leadership of an chronically insecure social theocracy needs a little rough treatment by the civilized world right now. Yes, I know it is "your custom" to be so outraged (presuming one is a hardened Islamist; no such claim applies against Sufi or other Muslims that are also victimized by the fanatics)... might I remind one and all of the British Colonial-era reply as to the Hindu practice of Sati (suttee), paraphrased as: "You may burn her, as is your custom, but then we will hang you for murder, as is our custom."

The timing of all these events ~ Tunisia; Libya; Egypt; Yemen; the provocations in Afghanistan and other places ~ is not coincidental. A concerted effort was made to get the "insult to the Prophet" translated into Arabic and publicized juuuuuust in time for the eleventh day of September, and then it was pushed out in the various local media anywhere someone could be found to take offense.

There is a real possibility that the original "movie" that is the supposed excuse for all the "Outrageous Outrage" justification mentioned above is not legit. Several serious questions about the main person behind making the film are being raised... like a history of criminal fraud and false identities... and the claims of Jewish or Coptic interests being behind the film production are looking pretty fake too (at least as of today). In the old school, we used to call these sort of inside-the-opponent-country propaganda jobs "Active Measures"... and I'd say this case is similar enough to bear a whole lot of investigation.


It is helmets and shovels time for any American, (or European, or Japanese) diplomatic presence anywhere within reach of the fanatics. Shutter the Consulates and Offices and get everyone back inside the Embassy. Dig in deep, fellows, and aim true when they come over the wall. Because Friday is the day of prayer... and the frothing fanatics will be doing everything they can in their sermons to stir the masses into doing something very very stupid.


I am reminded (thank you, Glenn Reynolds!) that the paraphrase above re: Sati is more correctly rendered as The Napier Response:
"Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs."

  Welcome Legal Insurrection readers! Thank you, Professor; It's great to be the Post of the Day.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

College Insurrection

Longtime readers here know that CompHyp has a good friend in Professor William A. Jacobson, a Clinical Law Professor at Cornell (and in his younger years, quite the Russia expert). We 'blogged together during the Honduras Autogolpe Crisis. Well, his efforts at his shop, Legal Insurrection, have been going swimmingly... Law and Politics, mostly American issues, but all very good work... and now he's expanding the franchise:

Here's his latest effort: College Insurrection. Done in the same flavor as his original work, but focused on presenting issues as seen by conservative and libertarian student writers.

It is another great blow struck against the Established Academic Bias, and I hope it is very successful.

Sinai issues

In the wake of the insurgent terrorist attack that killed more than a dozen Egyptian Army soldiers at a camp on the Sinai-Israel border, the Egyptian Army was compelled to act... and did so by remilitarizing a significant part of the Sinai and then whacking a fair number of the resident and transient terrs. So far, so good. I have it on good authority that some number of (older) M-60 MBTs were part of the Egyptian Army force sent in, and that there was open communication with Israel to forstall any concerns with that being a violation of the terms of the Camp David Peace Accords.

Well, some time has passed, and as I've mentioned (see previous thread post) there are signs that the Egyptian 'government' and military aren't on the same page any longer... and now there are some concerns.

...entirely warranted concerns, in my opinion.

Not a good time to be stuck out on dust, checkpoints and rowboat duty. Might be time for Task Force Sinai to be... shall we say "re-enforced". Either that or get the hell ready to bug out...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Freedom for Egypt: Not happening.

It's not happening.

Here's Barry Rubin's take on the naked power-grab by al-Ikhwan (The Muslim Brotherhood) as of early yesterday: Egypt: There goes....

He's got it right.
This is a coup. Mursi is bound by no constitution. He can do as he pleases unless someone is going to stop him. And the only candidate–the military–is fading fast, far faster than even we pessimists would have predicted.
If President Mursi gets away with these moves, say goodbye to the last hope of Egypt being anything but a conquest for al-Ikhwan.

Told you so (diplomatic appointments edition)

Long time readers of CompHyp may vaguely recall that this author was to-say-the-least unimpressed with the appointment of J. Scott Gration as the American (Obama Administration) Special Envoy to Sudan.

Here's a little reminder from back in 2009 as to how deserved that lack of regard was: Gration gets the proper treatment.

Well, low and behold, the years go by... Gration got a 'promotion' to a regular ambassadorship (to Kenya)... and...

Close Obama ally rated worst ambassador in the State Department.

Read the whole thing, please.

Then for those reading who have any say in such matters... let's not be doing this again, shall we?


...I am.

Yeah, usual story. Yeah, better now. Yeah, no clue what tomorrow holds.

Thanks for looking in here while postings were so light... again.

Now for some of that thread-posting.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Another good place to read

The Diplomad is back (and has been for a little while).

Here's a recent example of the fine work there.

Written by a been-there-done-that Foreign Service hand.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

All you need to know about the earthquake recovery in Haiti

"Meanwhile, 390,000 people are still homeless. The U.S. promised to rebuild or replace thousands of destroyed homes, but so far has not built even one new permanent house. Auditors say land disputes, lack of USAID oversight and no clear plan have hampered the housing effort. USAID contested that critique."

The AP writing of: US pledge to rebuild Haiti not being met.

h/t Glenn Reynolds for the full version of the story. If you don't read Instapundit, you should.

That was unplanned...

... that being a two week and more absence from this 'blog.

Anyway, I'm around again now.

This is your Sunday Open Push as well. Open thread.

The usual rules apply, foremost of which being: Play Nice.

As always, thank you All for coming here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

U.S. Independence Day

I've always considered that one of the best things anyone can do in a civic-minded way each year on Independence Day is to re-read the Declaration of Independence... specifically the enumerated offenses by the Crown against the Colonies. That still holds true, but here's a little special something to think about for the 4th of July this year:

Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, 1787 ~ "A Republic, if you can keep it."

There's some keeping to be doing, fellows. Best get to it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ozawa splits the DPJ

The split is on. I. Ozawa leads 50 lawmakers to quit the Democrats.

He got 38 in the Lower House and 12 in the Upper to go with him. Says he's "considering" forming a new party. un huh. considering. sure thing.

He still needs 16 more defectors from the DPJ in the Lower House to bring down the government, but the jobs of obstructing the Consumption Tax hike in the Upper House and then preventing a supermajority in the Lower House to override the Upper just got a whole lot easier. Maybe even possible.

Politics. It's a nasty business at the best of times. That understood... let's go make some sausage.

We've got an economy to save.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Morning Push

And then... and then I was busy. The wrong kind of busy. Not sure it is going to be better tomorrow, either. Stay tuned.

What got missed last week:

. Martin got the handshake. Elizabeth II was in Northern Ireland for part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. That's got to be an Only-Nixon-could-go-to-China moment for the Provos... Hope his own partisans don't hold it against him.

.. John Roberts engaged in one of the great judicial manuevers in the history of the SCOTUS. He was right about one thing, at least: It is not the court's job to save the electorate from bad laws passed by their representatives.

... Syria, Yemen, and Mali are all still hot zones in the Arab Spring (a year later and looking nothing like it did) and the GWOT. No coincidence, that.

.... Egypt elected Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood (yeah, he had a different party name; same difference) as President. SCAF (the Army government) tried to set the table by dissolving Parliament and taking over the new Constitution-writing, but even if that man is just a figurehead... ho boy... he's going to be trouble.

..... and lots more.

OK, your turn. This is an Open topic thread.

The usual rules all apply; most importantly: Play Nice.

As always, thank you All for coming here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

About that Consumption Tax thing...

I've written here previously (various comments as well) about the Noda naikaku (cabinet; administration)'s remarkably ill-considered plans to raise the Consumption Tax (a.k.a. Sales Tax) from 5% to 10% over three years...

***Caution: baseball reference follows***

Well, here's the wind-up... (Mainichi News) (BBC)

...and the pitch.

It's a long fly ball... it's well hit... it looks like it is going... going...

But, before anyone signals a 'home run', I've got a couple of things to point out:

Yes, 363-96 in the Lower House is a crushing success for the ruling party. But they only got there by getting what's left of the Liberal Democratic Party (Jiyuu-minshutou; LDP) to join in support... so much for being the Opposition... and the minor LDP-allied welfare-loving New Komeito (Shin Koumeitou; NKP; the name is no longer related to its literal meaning) as well.

Voting against *their own party* was the Ozawa Faction (roughly 50 strong) of the Democrats (Minshutou; DPJ), where the always opportunist Ozawa Ichirou (I. Ozawa) saw a chance to get on the populist side of the vote. OK, he's still not one of the good guys... but he's on the side of right for his own reasons this time.

However... There are still three ways (at least) that this bill can die.

Big #1: Ozawa leads his faction out of the DPJ and forms a new party in Opposition. This, if 54 Representatives leave the DPJ, would put the Noda administration in a minority in the Lower House. That is an opportunity that not even the recently-pathetic LDP could resist. No-Confidence; Down comes the government; New elections called. Any bill pending dies with the session end.

#2: The vote was yesterday, local time. If this morning the sun comes up and every LDP Representative finds his e-mail and voice-mail queue filled with outraged calls from constituents, it would be shall-we-say more difficult for LDP Party HQ to order strict party compliance with the support agreement. Without that order, when the bill comes up in the Upper House (where the Democrats lack a majority) it might get sent back. Or the debates might be long, nasty and inconclusive. Sent back means the Lower House has to marshal a supermajority (2/3) to bulldoze the bill through. That, without a party order binding LDP Lower House Representatives (who face the next election fairly soon, snap or scheduled), is unlikely to get the same votes the bill did this time. No supermajority, the bill dies.

#3: Even if LDP Party HQ orders a line vote in favor... there just aren't that many LDP Reps left with totally secure seats. While #2 above is based on purely public outcry (also, read the big papers in the morning and see if the major media joins the outcry), the real support base for the remaining LDP strongholds is in the power of local supporting associations. Interest Groups. Business and Agriculture Interest Groups. How many of them are feeling "understanding" about this whole matter? How many of the leaders of such groups are thinking of making a few calls around in the morning... maybe to a Small-Government Low-Tax Party like "Your" Party (Minna no tou; Everyone's Party; once a LDP renegade effort, now a rising party in its own right)? Just one or two major supporting associations in a given electoral district signalling such displeasure would put the Fear of God, er fear of unemployment in the local Representative. Suicidal loyalty to one's party being quite the past thing here in Japan, some large number of Reps under such pressure can be expected to either miss the vote or go against the LDP leadership... losing one's party affiliation isn't career ending (cf. Suzuki Muneo, darn him)... losing one's supporting associations is.

So, yeah, it's bad. If I were to pick the one thing that would further depress consumption in the Japanese economy and feed the deflationary spiral, it would be just such a Consumption Tax increase as is moving through the Kokkai (Parliament) right now.

Whether that "long fly ball" is a home run for the Noda administration, or a long out caught at the wall, remains to be seen.

But the outfielder is going to have to climb the wall to bring this one back, I think.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fausta on Lugo

H/T to CompHyp friend Fausta Wertz.

Lugo will be spending more time with his families.


For those not following this, the administration of ex-President Lugo of Paraguay was one of the more distant of the ALBA-linked regimes in Latin America. Clipping his wings is another step in the roll-back of Chavista-inspired misgovernment across the continent.

I hope the people of Paraguay get a fairer hearing than Honduras got when M. Zelaya was taken down.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Syriaous Trouble

Readers here might well remember a discussion of Japan's need to replace its long-serving F-4EJ kai  Phantom II jet fighters, and how in comments it was pointed out that they lacked survivability against any reasonably modern surface-to-air-missile defenses...

Well, the Turks just got a lesson about just such a problem. Crew still unaccounted for. Ouch.

This is also further evidence, unfortunately, that the regime in Syria thinks they are going to get away with whatever they do in the course of prosecuting their little Civil War, er, irregular revolutionary uprising.

Somehow, I suspect the Turks will have something to say about that...


Important note for those concerned about how this fits in with the obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) to support member-state Turkey. The short form is: the Middle East south of Turkey is out-of-region, so any Article 5 claim by Turkey would be based on Syrian attacks into Turkey... which haven't clearly happened yet. But, if I recall correctly, Article 4 calls for mutual assistance and that may well be coming Turkey's way upon request, and lots of it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Update: And then the Title can be entered.

OK, the compose window works now...

...but you may notice a lack of a Title...

...because that still doesn't work. I can click on the "Post title" entry, but I can't enter anything.

Let's see if it will post.



It does! That means: ((quick edit later)) AH HAH! I can edit the title in an existing posting. We have a work-around until Blogger gets a clue.

Update 2: as of Sunday, 24.June, things are working as designed again. Hurrah!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


A dear friend, speaking to me a little over a year ago about the matter that has caused my many recent distractions, reminded me of the surgeon's wisecrack about bad things:
"All bleeding eventually stops."
Well, I'm not sure the problem this time has stopped, but it is out of my face for a while. Let's see if I can't do some good here while I've the chance.

Usual thread posting resumes Monday, 18.June.

Thanks for waiting, All.


Update Monday: Due to some mysterious new bug in Blogger, I can't create any new Topic Tread postings.

Update 2 Tuesday: Problem persists. Damn it.

Update 3 Wednesday: Problem persists. It isn't anything here (no changes to my set-up since posting this thread successfully on the 17th). Feedback to Google Blogger sent. Sending again.

Update 4 Thursday: Problem persists. No feedback from Blogger yet. ***See the comments on this thread for ongoing discussions, please.***

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Open Push

Same Story, Different Day. Just Worse.

Hope you All are well out there.

Here's an Open thread just to keep things available here. yadayada Rules; yadayada Play Nice.

Be back when I can be.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day, 2012

Decoration Day.

This one is for the Yanks... the 'mates get their day in November.

h/t to Glenn Reynolds for the following Patton quote:

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived."
As usual, I spent as much of the day as I could with some old friends.


Ich hatt' einen Kameraden...

Memorial Day, 2012.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

still an Open thread

Still same situation here.

Open Thread; so Play Nice.

Stop cheering for the alligators, you guys.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Open Push

Just like it was Sunday, only later...

Here's an Open Thread for you.
The usual rules and all: Play Nice.


All the wrong kinds of busy right now.

(Hint: the right kind of busy usually gains one something; the wrong kind usually prevents a loss. I'm 'baling water out with my hat' on a matter here. Or, say, observing something about swamps and alligators.)

Be back on the 'morrow.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chen gets out

The New York Times has a reporter on the flight with Chen Guangcheng and his family to the U.S.A.


For now, this thread is a placeholder as I'm working up some things on the infighting amongst the Bolivarian Socialists... jockeying for position in the soon-to-be Post-Hugo political universe in Venezuela.

Thing is, right now, the rumors that can be discounted as noise vastly outnumber the few insights that can be gleaned.

But let's just say that it is past time to be watching for troop recall-to-barracks orders and any sudden movements by factions loyal to one or another of the players...

...and no bets at all on the upcoming election for the presidency actually coming to pass.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mladic trial opens

That would be one Ratko Mladic, General of the VRS (Army of the Republika Srpska; Bosnian Serb Army), and the trial would be his at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on eleven counts of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity.

The BBC has the opening day report.

This case, and the simultanious parallel trial of Bosnia Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, may finally conclude the effort made during the 2006 trial of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic; To once and for all mark the horrors of the Serbian war against Bosnia as State Policy:
The war the prosecution described was not one of ancient ethnic hatreds. It was a carefully planned criminal enterprise that was well orchestrated, centrally directed and state-sponsored.
Not only at Srebrenica.

The whole 1992-1995 war against Bosnia-Hercegovina was like that.

Here is a summary of the charges, as filed in the 2011 indictment. (Source document available as a .pdf file linked in that article.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Weekly Item for 15.May 2012: Such a deal

So, a few years ago...

Japan's Air Self-Defense Force had this plan to replace its then-aging F-4EJ (Phantom II) kai (modified) squadrons with new fighters. Since the mainstay F-15J interceptor force was substantial enough, and there remained the anti-shipping / anti-invasion-force requirement that the purely air combat F-15J's were unsuited for, the decision was made to (1) procure a new generation-four-plus aircraft with both air combat and strike capabilities, and (2) to mostly produce it here, albeit as a co-production agreement. Those choices resulted in the F-2 aircraft, which is a very fine improvement on the American F-16 Fighting Falcon design.

It also resulted in what was, then, the most expensive fighter aircraft in the world.

Production was capped at less than 100 aircraft. The production run is over; no more ever to be built. There simply wasn't enough money with the artificial limit on defense spending here (~1% GDP), all the other things that the Ground and Naval forces needed (and in many cases still need!) and the very expensive costs of manpower in our careerist all-volunteer Defense Force.

Set aside 18 of those shiny new F-2's in a training squadron and what was left barely re-equipped three squadrons. Not exactly fulfilling the "replace the F-4's" goal, that.

Oh, and fast forwarding to last year, so much for that training squadron; in the 2011 earthquake / tsunami, the airbase at Matsushima (the F-2 training base) got wiped. Every single aircraft there wrecked; at least a dozen total writeoffs.

In those intervening years, fighter/attack aircraft technology took another leap forward. Generation five fighters are a vast capacity leap upward. The only such in service now is the American F-22 Raptor, which is a marvelous interceptor, but is expensive to build, difficult and expensive to operate, has had some serious teething problems, isn't intended for most strike missions and... absolutely positively not now not ever for export to allied nations (why being a whole 'nother discussion). The alternative, and the one Japan (and the U.K. and several other U.S. allies) signed up for, is the just-entering-production F-35. It is generation five, with some advantages over the F-22 (electronics improvements) and some serious disadvantages (less... well, a lot of less) and because of its huge planned production run, less expensive.

"Ha ha", said the Princess, and she went to wash her socks.

So much for that less expensive part.

There's a new winner in the "most expensive" class.

We're stuck for 800 billion en (JPY; call that US$10 billion) for a planned total 42 aircraft buy.

That's all.

Two squadrons and a couple spares.

Delivery schedule, repeatedly delayed, starts with a 4 plane purchase currently budgeted...

...yes, I said four...

...slated for a test program.

Not counting the recee birds (RF-4EJ's; being replaced with some retasked F-15J's with synthetic aperture radar pods), there are ~90 F-4EJ kai's in service.

We're going to be flying the F-4EJ kai's until the damn wings fall off.


caveat: Wikipedia links, above, are for reference only. See citations there for sourcing.

site admin note: Yes, I know The Weekly Item is usually Monday; I needed to wait a day this time. Frankly, I'm just glad to be doing a few of these again.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Open Push

Time once again for an Open Thread.

Your turn, folks. The usual rules apply, specifically Play Nice.

As always, thank you All for coming here.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


While there was no hope of keeping al-Qaeda from knowing exactly who doubled them...

...there was a modest hope of keeping some doubt in their (collective) mind for a while if the man they trusted to carry out their latest bomb plot had simply disappeared. Announcing, even a couple of weeks later, that Western Intelligence Services had the bomb in their possession pretty much scotched that...

...but just to be sure, certain political interests left no doubt in the matter.

The upshot:
Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, said: "As for British Intelligence, I suppose, but do not know, that they must be very unhappy. They are often exasperated, quite reasonably, with their American friends, who are far more leak-prone than they.

"In their place, I would think two and three times before sharing with the Americans, and then only do it if I had to. The problem with that dynamic is that you don't know what you don't know, and what opportunities you might be missing when you decide not to share. The Americans are doing a very good job of undermining trust, and the problem starts at the top."
No kidding. We've seen this before. Same Story, Different Day.

Can't *anyone* keep a secret anymore?


Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club on this same topic. Also, note carefully comment #12 ('wretchard' is Fernandez' handle). I'm pleased to say, I agree.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Scarborough Shoal (2)

It isn't over.

It isn't even close to over.

It might get worse.

Grammaticas on China 'Banging the War Drum'.

Key Point:
The odd thing here is that the Philippine navy consists of just one proper ship and that is an ancient US Coast Guard cutter which is hardly a match for China's navy, as this online commentary by "The Comparativist" makes clear.

The Comparativist writes: "I think this is happening because the Philippines is so weak. The Chinese government can beat the war drums all they want, and as loud as they want, and no war is going to happen. It's akin to bullying someone in a wheelchair that you know can't punch back."


But there are dangers here too. The president of the Philippines has tweeted this statement this week, making clear that the Philippines believes America will help protect it from any Chinese aggression. So a dispute could lead to a very tense situation.
(original contains several source links)

There is one, and only one, brake on PRChina's ambition in this case, and that is predicated upon something not mentioned above:

It does not matter if the Government of the Philippines believes the U.S.A. will help protect it.

It matters if the Government of the People's Republic of China believes the U.S.A. will help protect the Philippines.

Do they?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

TEPCO nationalized in bailout

Touden (Toukyou Electric Power Co.; TEPCO) has given up controlling interest to the government in a huge, although not unexpected, bailout over losses since the 2011 disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns and the mass shortfall of electric power generation.

The taxpayer fronts the whole rescue.

Anyone notice a writedown of existing shareholder valuations (more than just the market punishment, I mean)? Nope, me neither.

Moreover, residential power consumers are about to get hit with a 10%+ rate increase (or more, if no TEPCO nuclear generators are allowed back on line).

Anyone see a massive rush of orders for Natural Gas-fired generating facilities yet? Nope, me neither.

Somebody needs to go through Nagata-chou (the seat of the Japanese government bureaucracy) with a 2x4 in hand something motivational to get them to wake up and pay attention.

It will be fine, they said...

Take a few days to deal with other things, they said...


Greece voted. Down came the government, or any hope of a reasonable new one.

France voted. Sarkozy got shown the door. Bets on further German-French cooperation on the Euro crisis just got longer.

Serbia voted. Oh boy; an ex-Greater Serbia Nationalist, supposedly pro-E.U. now.

Markets dive.

Spanish 10 year notes cross to the high side of 6%.

This does not look promising. Hope I'm wrong about that.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Saturday Open Push

Obliged elsewhere.

Consider this an Open Thread.

Usual rules. Importantly, Play Nice.

See you on the 'morrow.

Friday, May 4, 2012

And then there were none.

Saturday is the day.

Japan shuts down its last operating nuclear power station.

No word on whether the two units of Kansai Electric, sitting ready to restart, will be allowed to come back on-line.

For those of you thinking "So? You got through last summer ok...", may I point out that we still had many of our nuclear power stations contributing. No restarts means no contribution this year. The Touhoku (Northeast region) is no longer paralyzed by last spring's disaster; demand is substantially higher now.

Meanwhile, the politicians argue over new rules, new goals, and rechartering a national nuclear regulatory agency...

It's going to be a hot summer, in more ways than one.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Door Number Two

When needing to depart an authoritarian country (or any other country with an even remotely competent border control) without permission, there are some things that are basic to the task that have to happen. Because they are so basic, they are also what the authorities watch for (again, presuming competence) as signs one might be about to skip:

Having a place to go. ~ At least the barest of certainty needs to be known as to whether the place you eventually want to end up will let you in and let you stay. Escaping to Malaysia when you are about to be charged for political/religious crimes in Arabia *is not a win move*.

Having something as a gift to your new hosts. ~ Always nice to bring a present when one is about to impose on an acquaintance. Large troves of narco-terrorist documents make a particularly nice gift to American or EU host countries. Caution: While historically, knowing how to build ballistic missiles or make biological weapons was a sure way to get welcomed, these days that all is now rather less appreciated in the USA and Europe. (Might be just the thing if one wants to defect to Iran... but who the heck would...?)

Do see to your family before making travel plans ~ While condemning one's entire family to punishment and/or murder might be a goal in rare cases, most individuals trying to flee a country they reside in are not particularly interested in leaving family behind. It's hard on the family and, given both the brutality involved in authoritarian police states and the harsh work of most counter-espionage/counter-defection practices, it's hard on the defector. Rather than receiving the usual blackmail or simply living with the knowledge that prisoners in North Korean labor camps are not provided for by the state, it is far better to have made sure anyone whose welfare might influence one's serene mood of departure to have already been bundled over the border, at least out of reach of the country of departure's forces in the short term.

Lastly, do chose a country that might actually help you get out, or at least won't sell you out by agreeing to a deal that no reasonable person would believe the other side will stick to. ~ Since you, the would-be defector, are the key person in any defection attempt... unless you can slip the country on officially allowed business and then ditch your minders... you are probably jumping an Embassy wall somewhere in this process. The Americans and the French were time-tested favorites, but times change. Just any foreign embassy simply will not do. You need one that will (1) arrange something to sneak you in, or at least not shoot you when you cross the line; (2) at least make an effort to not mention you are inside said embassy; (3) have some motivation or sense of decency that encourages them to help you out rather than throw you back; and lastly (4) have some competence at actually getting you out of the country, whether by hook, crook, military escort to a waiting plane, or more diplomatic means. Put Canada at the top of that list generally, Republic of Korea is particularly good in Beijing, but several other nations are more than able and have a history of success... but do check the current administration of said country before throwing in with them. In the old days, nothing ruined your otherwise perfect plan to sleep over in Spaso House than discover Gerald Ford was no longer President of the USA. Same applies more generally in recent times.

So, to all of you out there planning on fleeing tyrany's grasp, here's to your successful defection... but do remember all of the above and if your situation changes while you are working up your get away...

... you'd better pick Door Number Two.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Freedom for Egypt: but first...

Egypt remains in turmoil, and as usual much of that is self-inflicted.

The grand hopes of the last year's uprising; the sudden abandonment of Hosni Mubarak's government, first to 'people power', but then to the political wolves; a central government headed for bankruptcy, under the unsteady leadership of the SCAF military council; the murderous turn by the newly encouraged Islamist movement against the Coptic minority, and November's parliamentary sweep by the terrible twins of Egyptian Islamism... al-Ikhwan (the Muslim Brotherhood) and the Salafi Call movement; Now comes the prize ~ the Presidential election.

But first...

Eleven killed in Egypt clashes.
CAIRO, May 2 (Reuters) - Eleven people were killed and more than 160 wounded near Egypt's Defence Ministry on Wednesday after armed men assaulted protesters demanding an end to army rule, prompting two Islamist candidates to suspend their presidential election campaigns.

Unidentified "thugs" armed with guns or batons attacked demonstrators who included hundreds of ultraconservative Salafi Islamists protesting at the exclusion of their candidate from this month's vote, state news agency MENA reported.

The violence casts a deep shadow over the presidential election due on May 23 and 24, with a run-off in June, and highlights the fragility of Egypt's transition to democracy, which has been punctuated by violence and political bickering.

Security and medical sources gave a toll of 11 dead and over 160 wounded in the clashes outside the Defence Ministry in central Cairo's Abbasiya district. The fighting raged on unabated through the morning, but subsided in the afternoon.
The demonstration was by rabidly anti-military-government groups, on the doorstep of the Defence Ministry, and the Army took six hours to bother to break things up. Not a big surprise, that.

Here's the BBC version of the story. They use the movement names and political party names of the two big factions. Here's a help:
al-Ikhwan(Muslim Brotherhood) = Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) leading the Democratic Alliance bloc.
Al-Da‘wa Al-Salafiyya (Salafi Call) = Hizb al-Nour (Al-Nour Party; Nour) leading a Salafist bloc.
There are other parties... they contribute only puny representation in the Parliament. Anyway, back to the BBC:
Unknown assailants have killed at least 11 people protesting against Egypt's ruling generals near the defence ministry in Cairo, officials say.

The attackers set on them at dawn using rocks, clubs, firebombs and firing shotguns. The protesters retaliated, beating some of the assailants.

Soldiers and police have now stopped the clashes, but the intervention came nearly six hours after they began.

Two leading presidential candidates have suspended campaigning in protest.

Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, an independent Islamist, and Mohammed Mursi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), criticised the authorities' response.

In addition, the FJP and the Salafist Nour party, which together control 70% of the seats in parliament, decided to boycott a meeting with the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (Scaf).
Given the exclusion of Nour's candidate for the Presidential election holds up, here's what remains of the front of the pack:
The generals have promised to hand over power to a civilian administration by the end of June, after a presidential election that they say will be free and fair.

The election's first round is scheduled for 23 and 24 May, with a run-off vote for the top two candidates expected on 16 and 17 June.

The race seems to have narrowed to a contest between Mr Aboul Fotouh, Mr (Mohammed) Mursi (of the FJP), and the former head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa.
Notes in () by this author.

Amr Moussa? oh, him.

This is going to be ugly.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Coup; Counter-coup; Mutiny

Time for your T.I.A. of the day, all from the BBC:


Coup still in slow-motion; detained political leaders released last weekend, and; ECOWAS gets around to imposing sanctions:
West African regional bloc Ecowas has imposed targeted sanctions on Guinea-Bissau's military junta after talks to restore civilian rule broke down.

Coup leader General Antonio Indjai "is not willing to negotiate and clearly prefers to face the consequences," an Ecowas statement said.

The Junta still holds, but have lost the entire north and northeast of the country to the Tuareg insurgency they were supposed to be fighting; former President Toure got away and fled the country; the Junta supposedly yielded power to an interim government on 12.April, but then went on doing Junta-things; ECOWAS did lay sanctions on the Junta and recognized instead the appointment of Dioncounda Traore as an interim President, and; now the Junta is on day two of fighting off a counter-coup:
Shooting has been heard for a second day in Mali's capital, despite the junta saying it had reasserted control after an attempt to overthrow it.

Most of the gunfire came from a military camp housing loyalists of ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure, who tried to stage an uprising.

The Kivu regions in the east, many times a topic here at CompHyp, remain a fertile ground for all the bad things left over from the Congo War(s); In 2009 the national government made terms with one of the worst of the local warlords, Bosco Ntaganda, going so far as to intergrate his forces into the national army and make him a General; Oddly, they overlooked his 2006 indictment by the ICC for war crimes and his role in the 2008 massacre at Kiwanji; He's now led a mutiny of troops and set out as a warlord once again, apparently fairly successfully:
Troops loyal to Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court, have taken two towns in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

A BBC reporter in the area says thousands of people are fleeing the fierce fighting towards nearby Goma.

Hundreds of heavily armed soldiers loyal to Gen Ntaganda recently defected from the Congolese army.
Things aren't exactly getting better, are they?

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Weekly Item for 30.April, 2012: Shrinking

This post started life as a response/reinterpretation of R. Douthat's "Incredible Shrinking Country" opinion on the NY Times (28th April) Op/Ed page... and yeah, I wasn't going to be very nice about it. Between the fact that his writing is mostly a reaction to N. Eberstadt's far better "Japan Shrinks" and the otherwise annoying lack of understanding by Douthat of most of the anciliary issues he mentions, I'm not going to bother linking to his Op/Ed piece. However...

...while demographics are related to the on-going economic problems in Japan, they aren't uniquely responsible for how poorly things are trending right now.

I'd also note that I see the demographic future here as an opportunity with challenges, which was Eberstadt's general thrust (setting aside off-topics like some of his "random facts" mentioned), rather than the doomsayer-scenarios that similar discussions of Italy and Russia often turn into.

The real problem, likely dominant politically for the rest of this decade, is that the generation born in or just around 1980 is now ~10 years into what was supposed to be their careers and yet a stunning number have found they are "capped off" from any meaningful career opportunities by the combination of a no-growth economy and a slug-in-the-pipeline effect of a vast number of unpromotable middle-aged desk occupiers just half a generation older than them. If that sounds rather like the situation faced by Americans coming into the workforce just after 1980, well, there are some similarities. What allowed the U.S. workforce to at least in part shake that off was the long, mostly steady, rise in the U.S. economy from ~1984 to the turn of the century (arguably a bit beyond that, even). New enterprises and expansion of existing businesses spread the demand for experienced employees and opened new pathways of advancement. Japan, today, sees little or nothing of that sort of opportunity. But given a chance, it could.

Here's the rub: Japan is faced with a pair of nasty problems that as a set run contrary to the solution of either problem.

Problem One: Any hope of shaking off the shackles of low growth has to come by creating a positive business environment, and we're currently going backwards on that, not forward. Roughly 30% of electric power generation capability is off-line or going to be allowed to restart on a very limited basis... those would be our nuclear power stations. Insufficient or unreliable electric power supply is doom to manufacturing and nearly as damning to any modern urban office activity. Starting up or even expanding an existing company is still a process of red-tape-wrestling frustration for anything more complex than a neighborhood ramen shop. While direct corporate taxation was somewhat reformed during the Koizumi administration, the combination of direct corporate taxation, indirect mandated expenses and a virtual penalty for making any worker a "regular" employee rather than a contract or temp worker remains burdensome. Add to that the fact that no real recovery of the job losses in contract and temp employment in the wake of last year's disaster panic has happened and you are looking at a real unemployment/underemployment for the born-around-1980 generation that remains absurdly higher than the official workforce unemployment rate (By some measures, over 20% vs under 5%). Having the domestic part of the economy rebound would help that a lot, but even with the need to rebuild from last year's disaster we are only seeing GDP growth in the low 2% range (Broken Window Fallacy, but it is a demand). Schemes of the current administration to raise the Consumption (Sales) Tax will prove even more damaging to domestic demand after a brief pre-implementation bubble. Lastly, as Export remains a prime driver in the Japanese economy (roughly 30% of all activity, until recently), there is the possibility of getting growth going by export... except... the en (Yen; JPY) is at an all-time high against pretty much every other currency in the world.

Problem Two: The short-term efforts needed to shore up electric power generation (barely) by massive imports of fossil fuels and the import needs for rebuilding both play hobb with Japan's balance of trade. Without the purchasing power of a super-strong JPY, the cost might likely be unaffordable. But the same super-strong JPY makes imports of a wide array of consumer demands cheaper than domestic-origin goods. In the short run that's a necessary evil; in the long run it may well permanently stunt the already-feeble production of goods for the domestic market. Since full-on Merchantilism and WTO membership are incompatible (for a good reason! cf. PRChina), there's no way to slam that door and little benefit even if there was a way.

Those are the horns we are stuck on: Need a weaker JPY to restore Export and preserve an opportunity for long-term domestic growth; Need a strong JPY to pay for rebuilding after the disaster and to paper over our fears and inablities in providing electric power.

Hypothesis Time:

Lacking any sign of ロナルド・レーガン reborn as a Japanese politician, the odds of having a "Morning in Japan" moment seem pretty long. Bringing down the bunch of DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan) amateurs and Finance Ministry draftees that make up our current government would be a very fine start, however. There are a few folks left in the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party; the old guard now in opposition) that could do some good, and there is hope that the YP (lit. "Everyone's Party" but commonly rendered as Your Party) may someday grow into a proper limited-government party that could take on most of the issues in Problem One, above. Neither are really ready, but either are head-and-shoulders more able than the current crew. For that to happen, it will be necessary to hang on the current administration all the blame they deserve and for the electorate of Japan to realize how horrible the situation actually is. Faced with a sense of "we can't be broke; I still have cheques!" upper middle class, that's going to take some educating... but it is possible. One can undermine all the DPJ ploys of offering grants to families with children by making general prosperity and less burdensome government the promise; financially secure citizens make commitments that the fearful do not.

It is time to show some serious fortitude and either fish or cut bait about the national electricity supply: Either go through an upheaval in the Utility sector that turns the regulators of the nuclear industry into bulldogs (rather than the lap dogs they are currently seen to be) and then go all-in on building *lots* of the newest model and safest nuclear power stations... yes that would be the order required; the Japanese public is prone to panic and nuclear power after Fukushima Daiichi is pretty much top of the panic scale... Or dive in with whole heart into the brave new world of Natural Gas as a generator fuel of choice and spend the money now while the JPY is so strong to lock in opportunities in any of the many places where shale gas production is remaking the world energy market. Don't let various Carbon-reduction schemes further injure the economy, or go spending or encouraging any deeper moves into any of the new "green" tech power generation ideas unless they make stand-alone economic good sense right now. Both of those are luxuries, and until Japan is back on the course of wealth (if then), they need be ignored.

Realize a strong JPY is needed this week or month, but not necessarily much after that. This is a risky one... Devalue. The fact so far is that the BoJ (Nippon Ginkou; Bank of Japan) has been persistently engaged in monetary expansion trying to stem the JPY rise for years as well as bail out the Government's awful budget choices and has done rather little of any use in the process. Changing the course of a currency isn't a nice thing to do (cf. the intentional destruction of the value of the US$) and only the most powerful central banks (cf. US Federal Reserve System) can hope to get away with doing it without severe reprisals. That said, as cited in the article linked above, the current government bond situation in Japan is totally dependent on unsustainably low interest rates (~1% on a 10-year note) and a move by bonds to a historically low twice that much would destroy the government's finances... and analysts are seeing a devaluation risk in order to get out from under that sword. How much? Try a JPY40 devaluation vs. the US$. Wham. Welcome back to the "natural" ~115Y/$ trading range of the last two decades. Fair question, though: Can they get away with it? Triggering a full-on currency war helps no one in the end. If a race for the floor doesn't happen, then there is still the reputation damage with foreigners holding the currency (that would be PRChina, for one). It has to happen all at once, too, or foreign exchage speculation can undermine much of the hoped-for gain. Debasing the currency has lots of other risks internally too. But something needs to happen and "easing" isn't getting the job done.

There is certainly more to each of these items, above, and I encourage discussion in the comments about them.

There are certainly other things that will have to play out as well. Like Europe and the USA, Japan has an absurd Higher Education bubble that while not the burden on taxpayers and loan-demanding students that those cases are, is a spectacular expense that generates remarkably little benefit in applicable workforce skills. The conundrum of rising medical demand and yet not enough students willing to train to be doctors is also in the mix. If you have thoughts on what else is in play, do feel free to discuss that as well.

But, to wrap up the hypothesis, I offer you this: A Japan of declining population is a wonderful opportunity to make a better lifestyle and to remove some of the pressure our overcrowded civilization has placed on our limited land. If that meant a hundred years from now Japan is a rich population of 50 million people with the financial means to restore much of what has been changed to support 120 million, *and* rich enough to engage in the luxury of chosing appropriate technologies rather than only necessary ones, that would be fine... Or we might see a hundred year swing of the demographic pendulum back toward 80~90 million as the population regains confidence that there will be enough wealth and opportunity for generations of people to thrive... But we aren't going to get there if we can't get a handle on economic growth sufficent to generate the wealth that either offering requires.

The problem of the economy and the social conditions it creates is the place our focus need be directed. The rest, as they say, will follow.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Morning Push

So, another Sunday has come...

Time for an Open Thread, as usual.

Also as usual, the rules still apply. In particular, Play Nice.


A couple of site admin matters this week:

I lost a couple of days midweek to computer troubles. All better now, and thank you for looking in while I was letting important topics slip by... well, they won't all get away but I'm not posting on them today.


If you notice any format problems with this or earlier posts, "thank" Blogger. They pulled a massive change to all the features behind the scenes at this 'blog and the new text editor/entry page is just one of the problems they created by this utterly unnecessary set of changes. At least you can change the option of how it interprets line breaks...

Yeah, I've complained. Any bets on if they'll bother change anything?



Thank you All for coming here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guilty, Not Guilty

Two cases, unrelated other than that they have both been discussed here in the past. Guilty: Charles Taylor.
International judges have found former Liberian leader Charles Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes during the Sierra Leone civil war, at his trial in The Hague. Taylor has been on trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone for almost five years. He was accused of backing rebels who killed tens of thousands during Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war. But he was cleared of ordering their crimes.
Not Guilty: Ozawa Ichirou (I. Ozawa)
Influential Japanese politician Ichiro Ozawa has been found not guilty in a funding scandal. Mr Ozawa, dubbed Japan's "shadow shogun" because of the backroom power he wields, had been accused of violating political fundraising laws.
Oh well, burden of proof and all that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

and anyone else (2)

U.S. Embassy in Kenya has notified U.S. nationals of "a possible attack on Nairobi hotels and prominent Kenyan government buildings".

The BBC has the report here with some context, but nothing more than what regular CompHyp readers already know.

Being that (1) the possible target list is of places commonly visited by most any foreigner in the city, (2) the likely attacker would be al-Shabaab, and (3) previous attacks have been by grenade and car bomb, let's expand this to a Travel Advisory for anyone there or going there in the near future.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Not unrelated

From the "must read" files for the day:

O'Grady: The Argentine Way of Business (Mary Anastasia O'Grady), and...

The pain in Spain could hit worldwide economy (Robert J. Samuelson).

The effects of these two things are not unrelated.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Old and New, that is.

As we do mostly World Affairs here, both of these mentioned are related to that.

First, an example of the good a major network can do by sending (or allowing to go on their own) a well-known journalist (or reporter, or presenter) out to cover an out-of-way and frankly difficult story:

Greta Van Sustren in the Nuba Mountains. Lots of related posts up and down her 'blog.

h/t to CompHyp friend Adam Housley (who, like GVS, is at FOXNews)


Then, an absolutely wonderful telling of the good done by New Media assets... individuals or acting in concert... to help a cause succeed. 'Fighting Keyboardists' if you will, but not in model of the old (joking about) 'Chairborne Infantry'. Again, these are people who either got out there or got connected with those out there and provided invaluable information support:

People Power 2.0, How civilians helped win the Libyan information war.

Over the years we've seen some amazing individual efforts by 'bloggers working and communicating with efforts far from home to try and do some good. Jane Novak's awesome efforts about Yemen over the years come to mind (although she's been off-line this last month; hope she is well). The cooperation we got here at CompHyp from other folks during the Honduras autogolpe was another example.

With a bit of luck, we'll be doing more for the good, soon.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Open Push


Open Thread

Play Nice while I'm obliged, please.

Friday, April 20, 2012


In an effort to both get back to talking about things 'Venezuela' here at CompHyp, what with the upcoming Presidential election (at least on paper) an opportunity to bring down the House of Hugo, here's a story worth your attention.

From Daniel at Venezuela News and Views:
Former Justice Aponte Aponte has fled the country after being forced out of office by the Chavistas, is apparently in the care of the US DEA, and is rumored to have started telling tales of the official corruption and narcotrafficking... and supposedly has brought out some evidence.

Daniel has a little more, for readers who understand Spanish. Aponte telling his tale to the media.

Back in February, Roger F. Noriega had this article on a potential narco-coup in Venezuela. Given the faction-splitting that has been going on inside the Chavista leadership, it all brings to mind a possible explanation as to how the heck Aponte could get out of the country, and with any meaningfully damaging documents to prove his claims...

...he got out because someone wanted him to get out.

So here is today's mystery question: Who has the most to gain of the Chavistas-in-waiting (waiting for Hugo to pass on) by Aponte bringing down international damnation upon those who are getting rich skimming (and running) the narcotrafficking through Venezuela?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Now it is official

Earlier in the week here at CompHyp there was a thread titled Declaration in all but name.

Now it is official.

Sudan declares war on South Sudan:
Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, Thursday declared war on South Sudan, vowing to topple its government.
We've seen some similar conflicts recently; Ethiopia-Eritrea have a persistent border conflict, but... that's not being fought over a series of oil fields that are *vital* to the wealth of both parties.

This fight is going to be ugly.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

and anyone else

Reuters Thompson AlertNet has just run up this emergency warning to U.S. citizens in Abuja, Nigeria...

...which is based on this offical message from the Embassy. Key Point:
The U.S. Embassy has received information that Boko Haram may be planning attacks in Abuja, Nigeria, including against hotels frequently visited by Westerners. The U.S. government has no additional information regarding the timing of these possible attacks. The Nigerian government is aware of the threat and is actively implementing security measures.
Considering that the threat is (1) regarding Boko Haram, (2) targeting "Westerners" in public locations, and (3) Boko Haram has proven to be quite indiscriminate in its targeting profile, let's just call this a Travel Advisory to just about anyone planning an optional trip to Abuja.

If you have to go, be smart as you always should... and invest in a little extra smart this time around.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


The title refers to the Argentine Oil business, majority owned by Spain's Repsol...

...until now. (link via PJMedia as FT is partly paywalled)

Classic Peronist thuggery by the Argentine government: A legislative decree nationalizing all the Repsol shares on an uncompensated (at least as presented) basis.

Spain, reacting to this both as proxy for Repsol *and* because of the massive position of Spanish and other EU banks in Repsol is rightfully furious. Here's the BBC version of that story:
Promising a "clear and overwhelming" response, Spain summoned the Argentine ambassador to express its concern.
...and were this "the old days", said ambassador would shortly be headed home with an ultimatum "backed by the sovereign power" of Spain. That's *probably* not the message this time. What is in the package, however, is almost certainly statement of a joint Spanish-EU opposition to the nationalization of YPS shares (and only the foreign-owned shares) by Argentina and the implication of what the EU could do to Argentina's export markets by sanction.

Meanwhile, real harm has already resulted: Repsol-YPS CDS Surge (CDS being Credit Default Swaps).

Argentina is rapidly managing to offend most all of their trading partners and what few friends they have left. The Chavistas are still on their side, but that's like having the Mafia think highly of you... maybe helpful, but rarely a good character reference. Oh, I guess we have to count inept but vaguely supportive guys, too.

The rest of us, however, would like to see Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner take some lumps for this latest outrage.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Declaration in all but name

Declaration of War, that is.

The BBC reports Sudan has declared South Sudan an enemy state.
Sudanese MPs have voted unanimously to brand South Sudan "an enemy".

"The government of South Sudan is an enemy and all Sudanese state agencies have to treat her accordingly," the resolution said.

A Khartoum information ministry official told the BBC the move was linked to South Sudan's seizure last week of the Heglig oil field.

The South had accused Sudan of launching attacks on its territory from the frontier oil field.
UPI has a similar report. Scheduled peace talks as part of the border demarcation requirements and the 2005 agreement that led to South Sudan's independence have been cancelled.

The only question at this point is whether either nation has the means to actually prosecute a war, and over how wide a front.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Open Thread

Time for an Open topic thread to round out the week.

The usual rules apply, foremost amongst them: Play Nice.

If you are of the mind to click on a link, here's one that plays to this author's interest in history: Who do the British consider to have been their greatest foe in history?

I'd call it a fair cop; the famous line about "will kill you in your sleep on Christmas" remains a favorite of mine.


All else seems to be going about as well as can be expected here.

As always, thank you All for coming here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Not getting any better

While the obvious observation as to what would make Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) a better place would be the end of Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF thugocracy, that isn't going to happen easily any time soon. Rumors to the contrary are unfortunately still just rumors.

Meanwhile, things are not getting any better. Please compare and contrast the following:

The Zimbabwe Crisis, as of 2010. Agriculture in ruins; a breadbasket nation dependent on food aid.

The Food Crop Shortfall in Zimbabwe, 2012. Maize (corn; mealie) production down year-on-year again; wheat shortfall near total. Policy continues to compound disaster.

There is no money in the national budget for relief, either. Yet the bank accounts and diamond hoards in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong continue, by all reports, to grow. If the ZANU-PF loses its grip on power, the claw-back of that is going to rival the pursuit of Marcos' millions (Philippines)... but that very reason seems to be why the ZANU-PF will continue to fight to keep power no matter the cost to the people.

May such an opportunity be denied them, and the people dance on *their* graves.

Friday, April 13, 2012

and Guinea-Bissau goes

Coup season is apparently upon us and the In-Box at ECOWAS peace-enforcement must be getting pretty full right now...

Guinea-Bissau, as foreshadowed here at CompHyp in previous analysis, has undergone a military take-over.

Yes, it is the real thing. Troops have seized the interim President and perhaps more importantly the retiring Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, who was forecast to be the most likely winner of the coming Presidential election. Oh, and he was campaigning on a plan to cut the military...

...and that hasn't been well received by the uniformed set, to say the least. In fact, they believed he was about to set "peacekeeping troops" on them:
In a statement read on state radio on Friday morning, the military said it had acted to halt what it called foreign intervention.

It alleged the interim government had done a secret deal to allow Angolan troops to wipe out Guinea-Bissau's army.
As far as rumormongering goes, that's a pretty good motivator for a troop insurrection.

Here's a longer report from Reuters Africa that, while written a bit earlier in the events, has more information on the Narcostate and Narcoterror issues involved in all this.

There are some players that need to be eliminated (politically) from the picture before things start getting better in Guinea-Bissau. This isn't how. This only lets one group of kleptocrats push out the other.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


North Korea earned a host of charges about sanction-busting and violating UNSC resolutions with their "satellite launch" plans...

...and today, they added littering to the charge. The launch failed around first stage separation.

Oh, and the embarrassment is pretty deep.

Scarborough Shoal

There's a problem down south...

...the Philippines Navy caught eight PRChinese fishing vessels looting taking catch along the Scarborough Shoal area of the South China Sea. They made a boarding and examination, finding full holds of illegally (by everyone else's rules other than the PRC) taken catch, but before arrests and confiscations could be made, two PRC "Observation Vessels" intervened. The resulting standoff has gone on...

More, with analysis, at EagleSpeak.

...and today, some changes happened. A Philippines Coast Guard vessel arrived, allowing the warship to back off a bit, and there are reports of "diplomatic" activities. Yeah, I bet; real diplomatic of the PRC about such matters... They have reportedly sent a third vessel and I'll wager it isn't a parley gig.

Do note the maps in both Eagle1's post and the BBC link... the lines labeled "UNCLOS EEZ"... and the other lines marked "Chinese claims".

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


When reports came in of yet another large earthquake of Aceh, Indonesia, it looked like things were going to be pretty bad. 8.6 magnitude and only about 500km southwest, out in the Indian Ocean in a very bad place for generating tsunamis.

Now, a bit after those reports, major wire services are all reporting (for example)
"There have been no immediate reports of damage or casualties."
...even with an aftershock above 8 magnitude, things look to have been mostly survivable. Unconfirmed pictures from Aceh show some damage, though.

There was a tsunami generated by the main 'quake, but it was small (10cm at one location in Thailand).


Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Everything old is new again... in this case being the United Kingdom and Japan are back in the defense cooperation business. Not quite a return to the old alliance, but a very positive step.

Oh, you thought UK PM David Cameron's visit to Japan was some high-level summitry on some matter of International Importance? Well, trade is important, and ~40 members of Cameron's entourage are business representatives... but most of them are looking for Defense deals... and it looks like the deal is done:
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his British counterpart David Cameron agreed Tuesday to pursue joint development of weapons and equipment, marking the first such development for Japan with a country other than its main ally, the United States.
Here's a longer version of the story, although written just before the visit:
"I hope to discuss these issues with Prime Minister (Yoshihiko) Noda so that we can pave the way for our defense ministers to agree more formal cooperation when they next meet," Cameron said.

"I believe stronger cooperation on defense will provide benefits for both countries in terms of jobs and investment as well as reducing the cost of defense equipment upon which we both rely," the prime minister added.

Britain will be only the second country to collaborate with Japan in this sector. Tokyo and Washington had cooperated on several defense projects as exceptions to the ban before it was lifted in December.

According to British media reports, the agreement on joint weapons development between London and Tokyo will initially focus on nonlethal equipment and could lead to Japan investing in several projects including the purchase of combat ships and helicopters.
Combat Ships, you say... hmm. Given the cost of the F-35 program with the U.S.A. and the loss last year (in the earthquake/tsunami) of an entire squadron of Japan's extremely expensive F-2 fighters, you'd at least think that the possibility of reopening discussions on Combat Aircraft would be on the table...

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Pige gets played

Former Japan souridaijin ("Prime Minister") Hatoyama Yukio (Y. Hatoyama), known derisively as "the Pige" here at CompHyp (Pige... pigeon; the family name means 'Pigeon Mountain'), hasn't figured out that the main benefit to his resignation from the premiership was that the world didn't have to listen to his loopy schemes and prevarications any more. Yes, I'm being mean. Sadly, the man deserves it:

He goes and runs off playing self-appointed diplomat, goes to Iran and says some very foolish things even though he was admonished not to go...
Hatoyama, who is visiting the country in a personal capacity to make efforts toward a peaceful resolution of the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program, will meet Sunday morning with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before leaving the country in the evening.

Hatoyama visited Iran despite the Japanese government's concerns that it could result in "dual diplomacy".
Then, for doing so, he got the 'you shouldn't have lecture' from *his own party's officers*...
"The (Japanese) government is taking a consistent position that it would be better if he had not gone (to Iran) at a time like this, even if it is a personal trip," Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters.
And THEN he had the gall to claim that Iranian reports of his meeting were "completely fabricated"...
The (Iranian) presidential office quoted Hatoyama as saying the IAEA's treatment of certain countries including Iran is ''unfair,'' but the former Japanese leader told reporters Monday night upon returning to Tokyo that Tehran ''completely fabricated'' his comments and he finds that ''regrettable.''

''I have made no comments that deviate from the stance of the Japanese government,'' Hatoyama said.
So one of two things just happened:

Either the Pige went and said something he thought the Iranians wouldn't publicize, or; The Pige was just used as a propaganda tool by the Iranians because they know he can't make any counterclaim stick.

The first would be entirely in character, and damn foolish; The second would be (for the Iranian) entirely in character, and (for the Pige) damn foolish.

Note the similarity of the two possibilities in regard to Y. Hatoyama's conduct.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The ol' one-two

Here we go again: NorKs being NorKs.

North Korea has moved its "satellite launcher" ballistic missile test into launch position, on track for a launch between 12 and 16.April.

North Korea is also reported to be likely in the final stages of preparing a third nuclear test explosion at the same site as previous fizzles... er... tests.

OK, to quote another thread, so much for negotiations.

Open question to the UNSC, the United Nations Command in Korea, and to the governments of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States: So what are you going to do about it?

Further open question to Russia and the PRChinese: What are you going to do about it, or will you let this get hung on you for aiding and abetting?

'Close' was deadly enough

For those that have followed CompHyp, and really anyone who has seen international news over the last years, the group Boko Haram is a familiar one. This Islamist insurgency, mostly in Nigeria, was a vastly under-rated threat when they first surfaced and efforts to wipe them out have had decidedly mixed result.

Over the winter, the group launched a Christmas bombing campaign that caused significant death and destruction, and once again they are at it trying their murderous ways on a Christian holiday. The first bomb report came in from the city of Kaduna, where Easter celebrations at a Christian Church were targeted... that car bomb went off at a security checkpoint near the church... at least five dead...

... and now a related second bomb report has come in. There is some disagreement as to the total number of dead and injured, but at least 6 and 18 seems consistent.

No, Boko Haram hasn't (yet) issued any formal claim. Being that they are the only game in town, however, this is not a challenge to attribute the attacks to them.

So much for negotiations.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday Open Push

Yeah, yeah, usually comes on Sunday...

Not happening.

Here's an Open Thread for you All while I have some time with family. As always, the usual rules apply, specifically: Play Nice.

See you on the 'morrow, and thanks for coming here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

and a cautionary note

Since the announcement of the sentencing of Viktor Bout earlier, the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation (MID) has out out a statement to the press about how they do not see the matter resolved. *NOTE: Statement was apparently a press statement and is not as of yet available on the MID site in English.*

Sky News UK, just to pick one of the reports out there, has it like this:
"The Russian foreign ministry views the US court verdict sentencing Viktor Bout to 25 years in prison as baseless and biased," the ministry said in a statement.

"(We will make) all possible efforts to return Viktor Bout to the Motherland, using for this all the existing international legal mechanisms."
Noble of them, standing up for a citizen of their republic; wish more countries had done so when Westerners got left to take the fall in places like Angola and Equatorial Guinea back in the day... but...

...the honest observation is that Viktor Bout was doing what he was doing with the help of a lot of powerful interests. They want him home and back to work, or at least in a place where he isn't pressured to say what he knows.

The most legitimate observation is that the MID will, through legal challenges and diplomatic linkage, try to get Bout sent to "serve his time" back in Russia.

Less sporting of them would be to make certain that one or more Americans working in Russia is "caught doing something bad".

Of course, from the point of view of any post-Soviet 'crime' interests that Bout was hooked up with, he is and has been since his arrest simply a detail that needs to be eliminated, but that is a danger really only to Viktor Bout right now.

Consider the second above a cautionary note, friends who are working in and with Russian interests: That deal that just broke your way that looks too good to be true... probably is. Watch yourselves.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

five and twenty

Note to CompHyp Friend Will... looks like pre-sentencing gamemanship was for 'naught. Viktor Bout gets 25 years.

Congratulations to Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Congrats as well to the DEA-and-friends team that pulled the original sting.

Hell, as long as we are waving around the 'at-a-boy's, congratulations to Journalists and Investigators Douglas Farah and Stephan Braun, whose 2007 work publicized the role of Bout as a modern "Merchant of Death", and who have waited a very long time for this day to come.

Drink up, gents. Now let's go get some more bad guys.

Kim-the-newest base visit foreshadows trouble

Pretty much every time the Kim-in-power in North Korea visits some outlying military base and gives a statement (veiled as a speech) proclaiming doom for the enemies of the DPRK (North Korea), something bad happens. Consider it a "tell" of the crudest kind.

Well, guess what?

Shortly after this report of a visit to a navy base specializing in coastal submarine activities, where Kim-the-newest declared the following...:
SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered his troops to bury enemies at sea if provoked, Pyongyang's state media reported, amid tensions over his country's planned rocket launch.
...other reports came in via the Korea Herald stating that
Several North Korean submarines have disappeared after departing from bases on the eastern coast.

According to reports, three or four North Korean submarines recently departed from bases on the east coast and have since remained outside South Korean surveillance.
Consider this a very strong foreshadow of trouble to come.

Also, consider conducting some really realistic anti-submarine warfare drills (with live weapons and targets of opportunity) along the Sea of Japan coast of South Korea. Now. Not later. NOW.


h/t Galrahn via Twitter for setting me looking into this.

About that $10 million bounty

That being the US$10 million bounty on capture/confirmed demise of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT; 'Army of the Good'; Army of the Righteous; a Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist organization) boss Hafiz Saeed...

...Thomas Joscelyn for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies writing at The Long War Journal has a particularly troubling explanation as to why, why now, and why so much.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another back door

O. Reich and E. Vazquez on How Ecuador's immigration policy helps al Qaeda.

Obviously, not just AQ. What this really is the exit point of the Iran-Venezuela-Ecuador and Dubai-Russia-Cuba-Ecuador pipelines... and the U.S.A. still trivially accessible from Ecuador. Here's the money quote:
While there is no evidence to show that the Correa government established the policy of "open borders" in an effort to attract criminal organizations, that has been the result.
The only thing worse, from a regional security point of view, than having a failed state as a neighbor is having one that is willfully aiding the enemies of civilization. Time to close those tunnels, indeed.


...Malema, not Caesar, although not for want of trying. Oddly enough, it was accusing someone else of wanting to be a dictator that just drew him his fourth suspension from the ANC (The African National Congress as reformed to be a South African political party). Disrespecting the Party and the President, for just a couple of the charges.

Yes, that's how the ANC works; still more in common with its roots in the SACP (South African Communist Party; just as bad as it sounds) than a real democratic political party although in fairness, much has changed for the better. It's that "change for the better" that is actually imperiled by characters like Julius Malema. He's stated previously that his role model is Robert Mugabe... and he means it... and it is his personal goal to live it.

The ANC leadership tried to put on a show of unity but when two of the top six in party may well be in the pocket of Malema's little political-insurgency, that's not going to stand up to much observation.

Watch carefully how President Jacob Zuma handles this from here. He and some of his clique really made Julius Malema a political force, and now they are the ones standing between Malema and what his ego demands. Defusing this is going to be either (1) terribly complex and troubling, or (2) political martyrdom for Malema... and those choices presume it is still possible to defuse...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rain Delay (Updated2)

We are getting slammed with a good old fashioned full gale today here in Japan. Massive winds and rain pulled up from the south bringing the weather systems over the Pacific onshore.

I do mean "slammed". Sheesh. (link to English language source)

Winds 90~100 kph (54~60 mph), briefly sustained, and waves on the coast up to 10 meters (34 feet).

All this because of a severe low pressure area over the western part of the Sea of Japan. Clearly, this is because North Korea sucks er... difficult.

All joking aside, it may mean that we're down here for a while if the already strained electric power grid takes another hit. No real danger as we're safe enough here inland, but it could impair 'blogging.


Update: OK, we're still here and intact. It was pretty spectacular last night, but no obvious signs of anything major damaged around here. A few trees down, advertising signs blown away, that sort of thing. Folks over on the coast had to deal with a lot more (like a fair number of big trucks rolled over by the wind). Still blowing a bit, but life looks headed back to normal.


Update2: The BBC has a wrap-up of counting up the damage today. Could be worse; could be Dallas (my sympathies to our Texas friends).

Monday, April 2, 2012

...and Now.

There is serious evidence that between envy at other's success and their traditional bullheadedness, the Argies (as a Nation-State) haven't learned their lesson.

Besides the fact that the persistence of any Argentine claim to the Falkland Islands is only slightly less defensible or precedent-based than the (*former*) Indonesian claim to Timor Leste (East Timor)...

...I'll defend that in detail, if you'd like. Remember, I'm as revanchist as they come *when there is an actual historical claim to territory*, I'll gladly go chapter-and-verse on why this "claim" is Nationalist claptrap and has been since Argentina managed by some grace of heaven to liberate itself from the Spanish Empire...

...anyway besides that, the fact is they tried aggression and ended up with all the moral justification for their position that Saddam Hussein had when his army was sitting in Kuwait. And then they got what was coming to them, even without an Article 5 NATO intervention or a UNSC authorization of force. Just little 'ol tired Britain (and a tiny handful of help) gave them just what they deserved and frankly they got off lightly with the only reprisal outside the campaign on the islands was the sinking of the General Belgrano... Yes, that's heartless of me to say so. Doesn't change the fact that had the Argentines pulled a stunt like that on a U.S. possession they would have been picking up the pieces of every airplane, rowboat and army barracks from Buenos Aires to Tierra del Fuego. Don't ask what Ivan would have done to them had it been their collection of turf and sheep.

But these days, Argentina (again, the Nation-State, not necessarily the ordinary citizen) seems intent on playing again... at least politically. With a steady growth in GDP for the islands and the recent petroleum exploration success, Falklands is on its way to returning the favor to the homeland for all the lives and all the years defending the place. Argentina, on the other hand, remains mired in one of the longest and ugliest economic collapses of the last century, vastly worse and longer lived than the current unpleasantness in the U.S.A. and Europe. The current Argie management, the regime of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (Yes, she married her way into politics. It's a local tradition after all.) is part patron and part client of Hugo Chavez' schemes of anti-just-about-anyone-halfway-decent Gangster Totalitarianism Bolivarian Socialism, and living up to that means having enough ego and envy to parade around making threats against anyone that one might have a grudge against. Okay, fine. Argies are pretty good at grudge-holding, but that still doesn't make any sense of schemes and plots that require rather more ability (and weapons) than they have. On the other hand, that does fit Hugo's M.O. pretty well... big talk but really not capable of beating up on anyone three weight-classes down.

The U.K. side of things has been steady and measured (and more than Cristina and her political henchlings deserve, frankly). With the construction and constant operation of RAF Mount Pleasant, and a fairly good plan for rapid re-enforcement, there is also the stick available in case calm words and a few carrots don't keep the peace. None the less, it pays to be prepared.

In the words of Sara Jones (widow of Lt Col Herbert 'H' Jones VC OBE, 2PARA ):
"We stood up for what we believed in. We didn’t like to see a small country overrun by somebody who had very little claim to it."

She told The Daily Telegraph: "The islanders have always been fiercely British and want to stay that way. I would like to believe that we would, if we could, do it again."

If you've not heard of 'H' before, this is of marginal value in telling about the man.

caveat: this and the Wikipedia links above are only for general reference. Please check all actual citations.


Thirty years ago today.

Nothing much to celebrate except that the lads and the Kelpers made a good try of an impossible situation.

...but, the famous parting words of "Don't make yourself too comfy mate, we'll be back" eventually proved true enough.

We'll be celebrating on 14.June, though.


Personal note to Mum: I'd wager you remember my catching the fleet reports on BBC shortwave in the days just after this, disturbing the office and all. Then again, I didn't exactly mention why at the time. ((wry grin))