Stan R. Mitchell: The view from the front podcast for 7-26-22.
Sorry for the interruption!
Just wanted to let you know that yesterday’s podcast has been unlocked, and below is the entire edition. (The email you received — unless you are a paid subscriber — had a paywall about halfway through it, and the audio wasn’t included.)
This, however, is the entire episode, including audio.
Thanks in advance for your continued support!
Much love from Knoxville,
P.S. And I think next week, I figured out a way to avoid having to email you twice about the Tuesday post. (Big-time learning curve happening over here. lol)
Happy Tuesday! Hope everyone had a great weekend!
I wanted to start this edition with a bit of an update on China, which is something we’ve discussed in the past, but also often gets pushed to the background because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
There are a couple of things that really bring China back into focus for this edition. (Okay, technically, I wanted to cover this in Friday’s edition, but that ended up getting rushed and cut short because I had to go catch a flight.)
Nonetheless, the first item that brings China back into the news was the item below.
NBC News reported that FBI Director Christopher Wray, standing alongside the director of Britain’s MI5, the U.K.’s domestic intelligence agency, argued that China was taking steps to protect its economy following an attack or invasion.
“In our world, we call that kind of behavior a clue,” Wray said, adding that were an invasion to happen, “it would represent one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen.”
So, the first point is you’ve got the FBI Director saying he’s seeing intelligence that China is making some moves to protect its economy. And oh, by the way, he makes this comment on foreign soil next to one of America’s staunchest allies.
To me, that’s no accident.
At the same time, we need to re-visit the news that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be visiting Taiwan.
I originally shared this in the July 19th edition. And as a reminder, Pelosi will be the first House speaker to visit Taiwan since Speaker Newt Gingrich did back in 1997.
But in the week that has passed since the news broke, there’s been a lot of increasing pressure for Pelosi NOT to visit.
This includes pressure from President Joe Biden and members of America’s highest military staff, which The Washington Post reported. (Hat tip to Derek Grossman for sharing it.)
From The Post story:
President Biden himself on Wednesday told reporters that “the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now” that Pelosi travels to Taiwan. Distrust between Washington and Beijing is at a heightened level, as China has acted with increased aggressiveness in recent encounters with the United States and allied military forces in the region.
And then on the flip side, you can already see that Biden and Pelosi are already being boxed in from folks saying they shouldn’t back down from China. Such as the tweet below:
And even this interview from the former Secretary of Defense under former President Donald Trump. Mark Esper, the Secretary of Defense under Trump, said in an interview on CNN that China should not have any say over where American officials travel. (See video below.)
And this minor debate over the Pelosi visit (or non-visit) brings up the bigger question.
Will China eventually invade, as the FBI Director warns they’re potentially preparing to do? And if so, when?
And on that impossible set of questions, I thought I’d shared a couple of things.
The first being an excellent column by Derek Grossman, who I mentioned earlier.
Grossman, who served over a decade in the Intelligence Community, and who is now a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation focused on national security and Indo-Pacific security issues, wrote a column in a Japanese newspaper that says Taiwan should be safe until 2027, unless one specific thing happens.
The full column is free to read, and if you really dig China issues (and want to get in the weeds on this), you should totally go check it out.
Grossman digs into the history of the issue by saying that Taiwan should have six years before it's invaded, if you believe the outgoing commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip Davidson.
Davidson stated in March during open Congressional testimony that China might invade 2027, since that is apparently the 100th anniversary of the founding of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA).
But Grossman points out that despite the unprecedented number of warplanes flying near Taiwan, China has actually been less aggressive than it was in the 90s. He said as just one example that during the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait Crisis, China launched ballistic missiles near Taiwan; something that China hasn’t repeated since then.
Grossman also goes into detail about how Taiwan isn’t being mentioned in enough speeches and propaganda, something he thinks would ramp up significantly to rally the country before a war would be launched.
And while he acknowledges they could be keeping all this quiet as part of some surprise effort, Grossman reminds readers of all the serious challenges of amphibious landings. And also many of the short comings of China’s navy.
But there is one huge caveat to his prediction. Grossman says that if Taiwan elects a seriously anti-China candidate to the presidency, then China might act.
And apparently Taiwan has a current and tremendously popular vice president who could push China toward an attack, if he were to continue his rise to power.
Like I said, this is a great column that I highly recommend if you have a moment.
But there’s something else other than an all-out invasion that could soon happen.
Hal Brands, a professor of global affairs at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, who also serves as a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, writes that a clash or crisis is more than due for the United States and China.
Brands wrote a fantastic Twitter thread on this, and was generous enough to say I could share it in its entirety, which you’ll see below.
FULL THREAD: All the hubbub surrounding Pelosi's potential trip to Taiwan is making one thing very clear: We are, alas, probably overdue for a major political-military crisis in US-China relations.
Not a crisis over trade, or COVID, or someone else's war (as in case of Ukraine), but crisis that brings two sides face to face in an area where both have highly important, perhaps vital, security interests.
And whether that happens over Pelosi's visit or something else, Taiwan is likely focal point, because it is where the two sides' security interests most directly conflict. It is also where Beijing feels that its military leverage is increasing...
But worries that its political leverage is decreasing, due to changes in Taiwanese public opinion and Taipei's tightening relations with Washington and other countries. That is a recipe for assertive behavior. If and when the crisis comes...
It will reveal a lot about the competition: How the two sides perceive their relative strength or weakness, how willing they are to take risks, how capable they are of managing and de-escalating potentially dangerous tensions. Crises tend to be both terrifying and clarifying.
Such a crisis will also reveal whether the US can manage more than one major global security crisis at a given time. In sum: We are entering what is likely to be a very fraught period in the U.S.-China relationship. I doubt, unfortunately, that it will end anytime soon.
Okay, that was a lot on China. Let’s move to Africa. Or, more specifically, Somalia.
Somalia is starting to make the news, such as this “An attack on a military base in Somalia shows al-Shabab’s deadly power.”
From the story:
The May 2 assault claimed more than 50 lives, according to local officials and Western security personnel in Somalia, making it the deadliest strike on the U.S.-backed peacekeeping mission here in six years. Its success underscored the resurgence of al-Shabab and the challenges that African and American troops will face in containing the group.
This is going to be something to watch, as President Biden already approved sending 450 troops to Somalia back in May.
And there’s also this pretty big fact:
All right, enough news. Let’s share some motivation and wisdom.
First, I’m always looking for the positive or good news out there. And with ugly fires, drought, etc, and with all the talk of global warming and how powerless we can often feel against it, I saw two news items that were at least a bit inspiring.
And then also this:
And with that out of the way, here are some other tweets worth sharing.
That’s it for this edition.
As a reminder, please be kind and try your best to love your fellow Americans. We need to pull this country together, and that starts with all of us.
I believe with every fiber of my being that we have to pull this country together. We have to stop hating those on the other side of the aisle and we have to stop rewarding the loudest (and most angry) voices on either side.
I’m not sure how we do this (though I have some ideas), but it certainly starts with each of us being nice to our fellow Americans. And understanding what the great Abraham Lincoln said.
Lincoln, who is one of my absolute favorite people to look up to and study, said that a house divided cannot stand.
It’s also worth remembering that Lincoln had approximately one year of schooling. He was self-educated, learning through books and reading that he did. And yet he proved to be one of the wisest leaders we ever had.
I think his example is one we should all follow. So, please, sign up for free at a minimum. And if you love what you’re reading, throw a couple of bucks in the hat by subscribing below.
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Stan R. Mitchell
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my books. I’ve written a CIA/Marine sniper series, a detective series, a private investigator series, an action-packed Western, a motivational/biography book about President Obama, and two realistic war novels: one about World War II and one about Afghanistan.