A Return to Cam Ranh Bay?

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A satellite image of the Cam Ranh Bay Naval Base in 2013. Credit DigitalGlobe, via Getty Images

Last week, Jane Perlez had an article in The New York Times speculating about the return of US Forces to Cam Ranh Bay, in Vietnam. It’s an interesting thought, and not nearly far-fetched as it sounds to ears that remember the sixties.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that nations usually don’t have friends, they have interests. But in the same way, that Great Britain is the United States’ friend, China is Vietnam’s enemy. It’s something that goes back a thousand years, and as always: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. In addition, we should remember that likely in the late forties, in a misguided intention to support imperial France, we threw away a potential ally in Ho Chi Minh, who had been known to quote the Declaration of Independence fervently. It wasn’t Truman’s finest hour.

And so led the way to a war, which we fought badly, and lost. Although I would say we lost in Washington, not on the field. But we lost. And so our relations have been rather sour for a long while. From the article.

Vietnam’s needs dovetail with those of the United States, which has been encouraging maritime states in Southeast Asia to better defend themselves, an effort partly aimed at keeping the United States from being dragged into a direct naval conflict with China.

The prospect of access to Cam Ranh Bay, where the Vietnamese have built a new international port, provides another enticement for lifting the ban.

An American presence there would allow United States forces to use the port on the western edge of the South China Sea, complementing American facilities in the Philippines on the sea’s eastern edge.

“If the United States can get regular access to Cam Ranh Bay, it would be very advantageous to maintaining the balance of power with China,” said Alexander L. Vuving, a Vietnam specialist at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu. “If something happens in the South China Sea, it takes a while for the U.S. to get there. China can get there more quickly.”

The Vietnamese, who shun alliances and forbid foreign bases, have made clear they would not entertain exclusive use of the facilities by the United States but would allow it to share the base with others. Singaporean and Japanese vessels this year were the first to use the facility.

via Why Might Vietnam Let U.S. Military Return? China. – The New York Times

That all makes sense to me, we’ve talked many times here about how important the area is. It sits on one of the major shipping lanes in the world, see also what we said here. Understand this, the US (and Royal) Navy’s ability to contest this area is exactly what led the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor, and Singapore. The same can happen with China.

Along the same lines, China is increasingly finding that its moves are being resisted, peacefully so far, but things are stirring, and alliances are shaking, another case in point: India. From Kevin Knodell.

1-3ti_mjeJQQO1j9TIsWsgSAWashington and New Delhi are getting a lot more serious about military-to-military ties. As the United States and India become more wary of an increasingly assertive China, the two countries are gradually edging closer together.

On May 16, American and Indian met for a “maritime security dialogue” in New Delhi. “The dialogue covered issues of mutual interest, including exchange of perspectives on maritime security development in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region as well as prospects for further strengthening cooperation between India and the United States in this regard,” stated an Indian Ministry of External Affairs press release.

Washington and New Delhi are also close to formalizing a historic military cooperation agreement hazily called the “Logistics Support Agreement” — or LSA. The agreement would allow the two militaries to use each other’s land, air and naval bases for resupplies, repairs and conducting operations.

American and Indian officials agreed to hold the summit during an April visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Despite regular meetings and joint military training, the United States and India are not allies in any formal sense. India was officially unaligned in the Cold War but kept close relations with the Soviet Union — and the United States backed arch-rival Pakistan.

But there is a slow yet historic realignment underway. First of all, the United States and India are both growing warier of China’s rise as a major regional military power. Second, the U.S.-Pakistani relationship has deteriorated during the course of America’s decade-and-a-half-long war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan is the world’s top recipient of Chinese weapons.

via: Watch Out, China

So for all the silliness in Washington, we appear to be in some respects still acting properly as the world’s premier maritime power, ensuring the freedom of the seas for all, hopefully, some gestures will be enough, and likely they will if it’s obvious that gestures are not the only thing in the cupboard.

There’s a word for that. It’s called deterrence.

A Sunday in May

Wasn’t Jess description of Ruth Davidson sound just wonderful? I hear that Jess has met her, and found her just as described, my comment was, “would she like to be President?” Because she’s head and shoulders above anybody still running here, which since she’s 5’3″ they say, must mean that our idiots aren’t even kneeling up straight anymore, just crawling around. Well, maybe we’ll figure it out, back a few years ago, the Tory party in Scotland was declared dead, and then came Ruth. Hah! I like that song.

Anyway, there’s a new Bill Whittle out, and he has about as many kind things to say about Obama as I do. You can’t count them without negative numbers sadly. My problem is that I don’t see anybody on the horizon that one can even fool oneself into thinking is the cavalry or even a dust storm. Here’s Bill:

Christ is offensive and outrageous

maxresdefaultIt doesn’t get much better than this. One of my favorite writers, Laura Perrins,  Co-Editor of The Conservative Woman, interviewing one of my favorite writers, Tim Stanley, a historian, leader writer for The Daily Telegraph, and contributing editor for the Catholic Herald.

Yes, most Americans have little interest in Brexit, after all, we have no vote, but like the British interest in our presidential election, it matters. It will affect us.

But keep going they discuss several issues that have direct applicability to us as well.

It’s an outstanding interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Laura Perrins: Why should Britain leave the EU?

Tim Stanley: There are logical reasons and then there are emotional reasons. Logically, the EU is turning into something that we don’t belong in. The only way to make the single market work is to integrate politically. Not only do we not want to do that but we’ve also made it clear – by staying out of Schengen and the Eurozone – that we’re not going to change. Hence, the British future within the EU is actually a future on the fringes of the EU. We’d have to suffer all the consequences of European decisions without full democratic control over the decision making. We’ve reached a point where the UK and the EU have to part company.

But I also have “sentimental” reasons for favouring Brexit. Culturally, legally, economically – we’re a very different place to the rest of Europe. Our future lies within the Anglosphere, trading globally. I’m tired of our Parliament being undermined. I don’t like pooling sovereignty, especially when the benefits are unclear.

LP: You support Brexit but many in the Catholic Church and hierarchy believe the EU is a force for good. Arguably the Union has stabilised the Continent twice ravaged by war in the last century. It has also brought huge economic benefits to the people of Europe. The idea of solidarity is essentially a secularist version of Christian charity. Surely, it is unchristian to want to leave?

TS: Yes, we Christians are universalists – and that should logically make us favour of political unions. But if they lead, as the EU has led, to economic chaos in constituent countries then the case for them collapses.

The Union has done nothing to defend the Continent or bring peace. If it had, that would imply that it has a political or military dimension to it – something Cameron denies and wouldn’t be desirable anyway (another natural conclusion to integration is a single army, and few actually want that). The Cold War only brought a veneer of stability to Europe: nuclear deadlock prevented war but not terrorism or post-colonial conflict overseas. After 1989, the Continent suffered genocide in the Balkans and now chaos in Ukraine. The EU isn’t a guarantor of democracy either. It has cut a new integration deal with Turkey, despite its government’s war on the press.

And, yes, solidarity is a secularist version of Christian charity and, therefore, inadequate. To stand with someone is not the same as to suffer with them – a literal translation of compassion. Christian action is best expressed through charity, aid, giving. Not regulations about the correct shape of bananas.

LP: In a recent piece in the Catholic Herald you discuss the dilemma facing American Catholics who might have to choose between Trump or Hilary Clinton for President.

via The Laura Perrins Interview: Christians have to fight back, says the Telegraph’s Tim Stanley – The Conservative Woman

Provide for the Common Defense

CT57UEaXIAEpS78I want to pick up on some of Jess’ points which she made so well, yesterday. She’s right, very few of the refugees had much of anything to do with causing the problems in Middle East. But there is also this, the highest duty of our secular governments, is to ‘provide for the common defense’.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t have a duty to help them, but it does mean we have the right to control who we allow into our countries, and we should not allow those who seek to destroy them. That is plain common sense. it is also one of the reasons, we set up governments, in the first place.

She’s also right, that America, not least because of the calumny directed at her for the last few decades (and other reasons) does appear to be returning to our historical outlook. We are remembering John Quincy Adams words:

Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will [America’s] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.

And that is much of what we are seeing happen, and we don’t like it. And so if Europe is to be defended, it will likely be up to Europe to do so. Mostly we have decided that three times in the last century is enough. And it is, it has dislocated our economy and our theory of government, but those ogres were so big, that we knew Europe would succumb.

It it succumbs to radical Islam though, it will be from essentially suicide. Andrew Bolt wrote recently in the Melbourne Herald Sun:

Why Brussels? Why have Muslim terrorists in Brussels this week slaughtered 34 civilians in the city’s airport and underground?

Why did Muslim terrorists from Brussels earlier join the Islamic State attack in Paris that killed 130 people?

Why did a Muslim terrorist in Brussels kill four people at the city’s Jewish museum? Why did Muslim terrorists from Brussels have a deadly shootout with police last year and again last week? Why have an astonishing 450 Belgian Muslims–the vast majority from Brussels–served with Islamic State?

The answer? There are now 300,000 Muslims in Brussels. That’s why.

Brussels is Europe’s biggest Muslim city, home to a virtual colony large enough to sustain its own culture and hide entire networks of terrorists from the police. What’s more, the huge Muslim enclave is in a European country already torn between its Flemish and Walloon halves, making newcomers in this militantly multicultural land more likely to take refuge in their own ethnic identity, too.

But maybe it’s already too late.

The vast demographic experiment of the West–importing largely unskilled immigrants from an essentially hostile culture–has failed and cannot be undone.

Europe is now paying the deadly price. There have been mass murders by Muslim extremists in Madrid, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Brussels and Toulouse.

There have been attacks on cartoonists in Denmark, riots against Jews in Paris, a rape epidemic in Scandinavia, pack attacks on women in Cologne and the assassination in Amsterdam of a film director who mocked Islam.

And more every week.

Leslie Loftus wrote in The Federalist after the attacks on France last fall:

The hashtags might fly. The city skylines will glow in thick stripes of red, white, and blue. The politicians and so many others will publicly claim a prayer to a God that many of them don’t believe in. We will put on a good show of caring, but the harsh truth is, we aren’t coming.

We remain at heart as our sixth president had described. Unless we elect one of the Cuban senators, Americans will not come to Europe’s aid until they are in chains or on their knees and we feel the threat on our own shores. Perhaps that will happen faster than in the past, but students of history know that is how this story goes.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has been already in the ages before us” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).

And that is, as always, true.

Obama’s wrong. Americans should back Brexit – and so should you

1776Because Americans love Britain, and because we are a presumptuous lot, we often advise the United Kingdom on its foreign policy. And not only the UK, but Europe. Successive US administrations have urged European nations to form a United States of Europe as an answer to the question attributed to Henry Kissinger: ‘Who do I call if I want to call Europe?’

The latest such unrequested advice was offered to your Prime Minister by no less a foreign-policy maven — see his successes in Libya, Middle East, China, Crimea — than Barack Obama. The outgoing president informed David Cameron that his administration wants to see ‘a strong United Kingdom in a strong European Union’. He seemed to assume that, in the words of the Sinatra ballad, you can’t have one without the other.

But many of us here in the US are rooting for Brexit, and not just because we want what is best for Britain. We think Brexit would be in America’s interests.

Britain has long been America’s most valuable ally.

via Obama’s wrong. Americans should back Brexit – and so should you » The Spectator.

Yup, a full hundred years now, and our history of cooperation goes back even further, to almost immediately after the War of 1812. We’re proud of that, but there’s more. In many ways we are you. We, like you, look back at the long sweep of history and we see our political ancestors, fighting for liberty, against the Stuarts, the Plantagenet’s, and the Normans, all the way to Alfred the Great and perhaps further to Aethelbert of Kent, who wrote the first written law code in any Germanic language. Here, with the codification of Aethelberts’ Law is the origin of The Common Law, our joint heritage, and the one thing above all others that has made Britain and the America the only modern superpowers.

And mind you, the common law is the basis of the entire modern age, without its protection of lives and property from random seizure by an autocratic king, the world we jointly have made, would not exist. It would likely still be Hobbes’s vision, “Nasty, brutish, and short.” Look around, at the world, and where our influence is strongest, the people, not just the rulers prosper, where it wanes, the people suffer.

Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb made a video a few years ago that is on point, I think

I think she correct, and you know, if the Tudors made you what you are, you, at the height of your freedom, made us, it is above all the common heritage of the Anglosphere, and one that the whole world envies. If you would know why Britain and America are hated, look no further, it’s all based in envy of the people, and fear on the part of their rulers. Because we, and pretty much only we, have done all the things required to make it work. The rest, including most of Europe, give our principles only lip service, if that, and that is why thrice in the twentieth century, we, led by Britain and America, have had to rescue them from tyranny. Thrice, no less!

What I see in the European Union is still another attempt to bring Britain back under the control of Europe. One of the best analyses on this I’ve read is from Think Defence, an excellent British defense blog. He ends this way:

From a short to medium term operational defence and security perspective, I actually think the impact of BREXIT would be minimal either way. The advantages and disadvantages of EU membership, at least from this writers view of the defence and security landscape, seem to be hugely exaggerated by both sides of the debate.

NATO would remain, bilateral cooperation would continue and develop in other ways, defence spending will go up and down depending on threats and mechanisms for intelligence sharing explored, developed and implemented.

There are risks and opportunities on either side, but short term doom and gloom or the wide open uplands, in defence and security, you are looking in the wrong place.

At moment, more EU defence generally means more HQ’s, marching bands and flags, but after a remain vote and a period for dealing with the migrant crisis, calls for actual, real and tangible integration will get louder and louder.

For me at least, this is the question we should be dealing with, do we want a single EU state with a single EU Navy, Army and Air Force?

Everything else is a minor detail.

As an American, I can’t help but believe that the day the White Ensign is furled for the last time, succeeded by that obvious rip-off of the canton of the American flag, the chance of real freedom in the world, for all of us, will be reduced immeasurably. The Tudors made you (and us), it would be a shame to let Europe undo six hundred years of improving the human condition.

Lacking conviction?

code pink on Iran

Neo and I have sometimes quoted Yeats’ lines from The Second Coming:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.
This is because they seem as relevant to our times as they did to the 1930s. T.S. Eliot expressed it less pithily but with more exposition in his Idea of a Christian Society which was written around the time of the Munich Crisis of 1938. He, like many, was shaken by what had happened, and penitent and critical. But as he explained:

It was not…a criticism of the government, but a doubt of the validity of a civilization. We could not match conviction with conviction, we had no ideas with which we could either meet or oppose the ideas opposed to us. Was our society, which had always been so assured of its superiority and rectitude, so confident of its unexamined premises, assembled round anything more permanent than a congeries of banks, insurance companies and industries, and had it any beliefs more essential than a belief in compound interest and the maintenance of dividends?

Those words are I think even more relevant now than they were then. Back in the 1930s our civilization retained many of its Christian characteristics, and its morality and standards were those of our Judeo-Christian heritage – we did, in short, as we found in 1940, have some ideas to pitch against those of the Nazis, as we would, for the long Cold War, against the Communists. But what have we now?

I’m struck and penitential about the way in which so many feminists are quiet about what has happened in Cologne and elsewhere – it is clear that for them fear of being called ‘racist’ outweighs the principles they claim to stand for. Their ideas are not held with as much conviction as those of ISIS sympathisers. But they are hardly alone. Our governments do, indeed, seem to care only for banks and profit and not for anything higher. It leaves us, literally, vulnerable against those who hate our civilization and all it stands, or stood for. The reason I singled out feminists a moment ago was that they at least know, passionately I thought, what they stand for, but it is easy to be passionate when faced with an ‘enemy’ which isn’t really that. Western men can be misogynistic, but that fades when compared to the attitude of many Muslims – but best not cross them because unlike Western men, they will turn round and harm you. Is it cowardice? Or is it just that they are not that passionate?

It sometimes seems as though the effort of staying alert for so long against the enemy of Communism has sapped us of our energy. Was it too much for too long? No doubt it would be nice if the world was a better place where we did not face real enemies, but those liberal pieties are not true, they are a delusion. Perhaps Eliot was right, and we do not have values which will stand when the wind blows? But so it seemed in the 30s – and when the moment came, so too did the man – Churchill. We shall have to hope there’s one in the wings.

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