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October 18, 2021

The New Chinese Wonder Weapon Which Likely Isn't One

On Saturday the Financial Times published a sensational piece on alleged Chinese testing of a new weapon system:

China tests new space capability with hypersonic missile
Launch in August of nuclear-capable rocket that circled the globe took US intelligence by surprise

China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise.

Five people familiar with the test said the Chinese military launched a rocket that carried a hypersonic glide vehicle which flew through low-orbit space before cruising down towards its target.

The missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles, according to three people briefed on the intelligence. But two said the test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised.

The test has raised new questions about why the US often underestimated China’s military modernisation.

“We have no idea how they did this,” said a fourth person.

That fourth person must be part of the U.S. 'intelligence' community which is know for its lack thereof. Or some know nothing political editor:

Cont. reading: The New Chinese Wonder Weapon Which Likely Isn't One

Posted by b at 15:41 UTC | Comments (36)

October 17, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-080

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-080

Posted by b at 14:34 UTC | Comments (142)

October 15, 2021

EU Faces Migrant Backlash After Sanctioning Belarus

In June 2020 Moon of Alabama reported of a planned color revolution in Belarus. During the election in August 2020 the predicted color revolution attempt indeed happened and we predicted that it would fail. By August 15 it was clear that Belarus had found an agreement with Russia that would destroy the color revolution attempt and remove any danger from the country. Ten days later the NATO lobby Atlantic Council acknowledged that the color revolution attempt had failed and bemoaned that it had been too peaceful.

The 'west' was outraged about its failure to bring President Lukashenko down. It sanctioned the country but soon things settled down. The exiled opposition tried to keep unrest in Belarus going but had no success. No new sanctions would be imposed if nothing else happened.

In May 2021 a mysterious bomb threat against a Ryanair plane flying over Belarus necessitated the emergency landing of the plane in Minsk. When the passengers left the plane and passed through passport control two of them were found to have arrest warrants open against them. They were both lower level actors within the exile opposition.

The exiled opposition and 'western' media falsely claimed that Belarus had hijacked the plane. That was certainly not the case. Belarus handled the bomb threat against the plane by the book and it was the Ryanair pilot who had decided to land in Minsk after he had talked with his airline.

The 'west' ignored that reality and went with the fake 'state sponsored hijacking' story the exiled opposition tried to sell. It raised further sanction against Belarus. It told its airlines to stop flying over Belarus and it prohibited Belavia, the state owned airline of Belarus, from landing in 'western' cities even though Belavia was in no way involved in the Ryanair case.

That was bad news for Belavia and for the many people working for it:

Cont. reading: EU Faces Migrant Backlash After Sanctioning Belarus

Posted by b at 18:21 UTC | Comments (75)

October 14, 2021

Thoughts On Three Issues - Putin On Europe's Gas Crisis, Iran Talks, Lebanon Shooting

Natural gas prices in Europe exploded last week after reports of too low inventory of natural gas for the upcoming winter. Claims were made that Russia had caused the price increase. But even the BBC finds that this is not the case:

Russia's own gas storage is also down.

Adeline Van Houtte, a Europe analyst at the Economist's Intelligence Unit, says: "Currently, the Russian domestic gas market remains tight, with output already near its peak and winter is looming... limiting gas export capacity."

There are several other factors affecting the situation in Europe, such as:

  • cold weather at the start of 2021 depleting stocks
  • rising prices in spring and summer put traders off buying to sell later in the year
  • limited supply from Norway because of maintenance issues
  • reduction in other energy sources such as wind power
  • growing demand for gas elsewhere in the world

The 'liberalization' of European gas markets by the EU has also led to more speculation. It was one of the many mistakes made in European energy policy.

Yesterday Russia's president Vladimir Putin held a remarkable speech about energy supply to Europe and pointed out some of its weaknesses:

Over the past 10 years, the share of renewable energy sources in the European energy balance has skyrocketed, which, on the face of it, appears to be a good thing – and they are now playing a significant and noticeable part. What can you say? It is a good thing any way you look at it.

However, this sector is notorious for erratic power generation. It requires large reserve capacities. In the event of major generation failures, primarily due to bad weather, this reserve is simply not large enough to cover the demand.

This is exactly what happened this year, when, due to a decrease in wind farm generation, there was a shortage of electricity on the European market. Prices soared, which triggered a spike in natural gas prices on the spot market.

Importantly, gas consumption is seasonal. Its reserves are traditionally replenished in the summer to meet the winter demand. However, this year, even after a cold winter in Europe, many countries chose not to do so, relying on spot gas supplies and the “invisible hand” of the market, but a spike in demand has sent prices even higher.

To reiterate, the rise in natural gas prices in Europe stemmed from shortages of electricity, not the other way around. There is no need to lay the blame on other people, which is what some of our partners are trying to do. Occasionally, you get stunned by what is being said on this account, as if these people do not know the numbers – I will say more about this later – as if they do not see the reality and are just covering up their own mistakes. Systemic flaws have been gradually introduced in European energy over the past decade, which led to a major market crisis in Europe.

As a reminder, when nuclear and natural gas-based generation were the leading energy sources, there were no such crises, and there were no grounds for them.

Europe, especially as it wants to change its road traffic from hydrocarbon to electric driven, will need more basic electric generation capacity. The only 'green' way to achieve that in sufficient size is by nuclear energy.

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The Biden administrations finally recognizes that its 'Iran policy is failing.

Blinken says US is prepared to turn to 'other options' if nuclear diplomacy with Iran fails

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that if diplomatic talks with Iran fail, the United States "is prepared to turn to other options" to prevent the country from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Iran does not want to obtain nuclear weapons.

The diplomatic talks with Iran will fail only if the Biden administration fails to return to the nuclear deal and does not lift the sanctions imposed on Iran by the Trump administration. The sole problem is that Biden wants more concessions from Iran than it had given under the JCPOA agreement.

It is funny then to hear Blinken talk of 'other options' when everyone knows that the U.S. does not have any. Any U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear installations will invite a strong military response. A war with Iran would destroy Israel and whatever is left of the U.S. position in the Middle East. Obama had recognized that. Trump had recognized that. It is high time for Biden to recognize that too and to act accordingly.

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This morning followers of Hizbullah and Amal in Lebanon protested against a judge who is tasked with investigating last years enormous explosion in Beirut's harbor. The judge seems to steer the investigation against Hizbullah even as other groups were responsible for the ammonium nitrate storage that has caused the disaster.

During this mornings demonstration snipers from the fascist Lebanese Forces militia opened fire on the protesters. Six were killed and several were wounded. All of them were Shia followers of Amal and Hizbullah. But reading 'western' media, here the Guardian, you would not learn that this was a very one-sided affair:

Five people have died in armed clashes that broke out in Beirut during a protest demanding an end to a judicial investigation into last year’s massive blast in the city’s port.

The Lebanese interior ministry confirmed the deaths, and gunfire reportedly wounded more than a dozen other people. The deployment of soldiers failed to stem the violence, which took on a sectarian tone. The fighting happened near a civil war-era frontline in which militias from Maronite Christian and Shia Muslim blocs have previously clashed.

The assault on the protesters happen just as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland is visiting Lebanon. Given her direct involvement in the 2014 Maidan coup which also saw sniper fire against protesters it seems unlikely that this is just a coincidence.

Posted by b at 16:10 UTC | Comments (169)

October 13, 2021

Open Thread 2021-79

News & views ...

Posted by b at 16:00 UTC | Comments (158)

October 11, 2021

Why Do Editors Seek 'Dark Sides' Of China?

There seems to be an inflationary fascination with supposedly 'dark sides' of China:

The 'dark sides' of China meme did not only start after China had send the goddess Chang'e and Yutu the jade rabbit to the far side of the moon to look for the elixir of life.

There are quite a number of previous occurrences.

Cont. reading: Why Do Editors Seek 'Dark Sides' Of China?

Posted by b at 15:35 UTC | Comments (183)

October 10, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-078

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

> Placing Deputy CIA Director David Cohen at the head of the U.S. team, which also includes the State Department’s deputy Afghanistan envoy, Tom West, and a representative from the U.S. Agency for International Development, was intended to emphasize that point and to lead to discussions on terrorism. <

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-078

Posted by b at 14:20 UTC | Comments (144)

October 09, 2021

The U.S. Wants Back Into Afghanistan

Just six weeks after leaving Afghanistan the U.S. wants to get back in:

A U.S. delegation will meet with senior Taliban representatives in Doha on Saturday and Sunday in their first face-to-face meeting at a senior level since Washington pulled its troops from Afghanistan and the hardline group took over the country, two senior administration officials told Reuters.

The high-level U.S. delegation will include officials from the State Department, USAID and the U.S. intelligence community, will press the Taliban to ensure continued safe passage for U.S. citizens and others out of Afghanistan and to release kidnapped U.S. citizen Mark Frerichs, the officials said.

That U.S. intelligence officials take part points to an effort to get an agreement on a long term and significantly sized CIA presence in the country. Such a station would target China and to a lesser degree Russia. The Taliban had previously rejected such a request (or at least had put some strong conditions on it which the U.S. did not fulfill.)

For a normal CIA presence in Afghanistan the U.S. could of course simply reopen its embassy as the Taliban had asked it to do. But that is something the Biden administration does not want to do as it would give the Taliban international legitimacy:

“This meeting is not about granting recognition or conferring legitimacy. We remain clear that any legitimacy must be earned through the Taliban’s own actions. They need to establish a sustained track record,” the official said.

The Taliban want the U.S. to release the frozen reserves of the Afghan central bank. They need money to feed their country. There also seem to be some open points with regards to the previous agreement which included secret annexes:

Cont. reading: The U.S. Wants Back Into Afghanistan

Posted by b at 16:18 UTC | Comments (60)

October 07, 2021

How The 'China is a Threat' Fake News Cycle Works

Here is a nice example how the U.S. keeps certain issues in the news and thereby propagandizes its people against its perceived enemies.

On Friday several news agencies and outlets falsely claimed that Chinese airplanes had 'intruded Taiwan's airspace'. In fact the planes had crossed into an imaginative air 'identification zone' hundreds of miles from Taiwan.

As the fake news died down someone in the White House, Pentagon or Congress thought about how to revive the theme to strengthen anti-Chinese sentiment.

"A: Is there something that is not secret and that we can hand to some scribe that allows for another 'China threat' news cycle?"

"B: Hmm. How about our troops in Taiwan?"

"A: Good idea. That will do."

So A, B and maybe also C called up a Wall Street Journal scribe and proceeded. Here is the result:

WSJ News Exclusive - U.S. Troops Have Been Deployed in Taiwan for at Least a Year
Small presence of Americans secretly training local forces marks concern over China’s yearslong military buildup and recent moves

WASHINGTON—A U.S. special-operations unit and a contingent of Marines have been secretly operating in Taiwan to train military forces there, U.S. officials said, part of efforts to shore up the island’s defenses as concern regarding potential Chinese aggression mounts.

About two dozen members of U.S. special-operations and support troops are conducting training for small units of Taiwan’s ground forces, the officials said. The U.S. Marines are working with local maritime forces on small-boat training. The American forces have been operating in Taiwan for at least a year, the officials said.

The U.S. special-operations deployment is a sign of concern within the Pentagon over Taiwan’s tactical capabilities in light of Beijing’s yearslong military buildup and recent threatening moves against the island.

Taiwan and U.S. officials have expressed alarm over nearly 150 flights near Taiwan in the past week by Chinese military aircraft. The Chinese aircraft have included ...

There follow in total 1200 words of general 'China is a threat' sentiment.

There is one problem though. The deployment of some troops, including special forces, in Taiwan is neither a secret nor new nor newsworthy.

Cont. reading: How The 'China is a Threat' Fake News Cycle Works

Posted by b at 16:51 UTC | Comments (191)

October 06, 2021

Open Thread 2021-77

News & views ...

Posted by b at 17:44 UTC | Comments (222)