The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Air Date: 
July 11, 2018

Map:  Natural gas pipeline going from Russia (upper right) directly and only to Germany (lower left). It was this NorthStream 2 (Nord Stream 2) of which Pres Trump spoke this morning in Brussels at a meeting with Jens Stoltenberg and other NATO members.   Edifying, brief video:   "Mrs Merkel has made a sweetheart deal with Russia to bring a pipeline of Russian natgas directly into Germany at the same time that the US, paying [far and away the lion's share of NATO's costs,] being 4-plus per cent of the US budget, while all but four NATO nations are not paying even the agreed-upon 2 per cent —the US is paying to protect Europe from Russia . . .  I ask you: is that fair?"
Another map:
Pres Trump's summary: "Trade is wonderful; energy is a whole different story."

Co-hosts: Gordon Chang, The Daily Beast
Hour One
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 1, Block A:  Lee Sung Yoon, Fletcher School of Tufts University, in re: the latest on North Korean negotiations. The Kim regime will never, ever relinquish nukes by negotiations; only by extreme economic pressure over years. . . .  I do not think Pompeo is being candid with the American people.  . . .
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 1, Block B:  James Holmes, J. C. Wylie Professor of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College, in re:  the Taiwan Strait passage by two U.S. Navy destroyers.   The US and China are having a conversation, trying to convince various audiences what would happen if it actually came to bows. Obvious: freedom of the seas. Also, the US is still committed to Taiwan’s defense.  The US surface fleet – we had a terrible 2017 – is now in good shape.  Ought we doing more?  Hmm. Opening a new bldg in Taiwan as a de facto US embassy.  
Taiwan Strait is a classic [defense] waterway. Same operation in the South China Sea, next to the militarized islands.  China remembers what happened when Truman put the Seventh Fleet in the strait to prevent Chinese passage.  After the transit of the [US] destroyers, China wasn't very happy, In the coming days and months, what’ll China do?  Can't do a whole lot since it clearly is an international water under intl law. Could have fishing craft obstruct US ships . . . If China fails to respond clearly, will it be losing momentum?  . . . China has a good opportunity to de-escalate now, even though it's been ramping up over years.  [We can wait] for the next escalation, although it doesn't look as though China feels ready to take on the entire US military right now. These are intelligent people who can calculate to balance of force.
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 1, Block C:  Bill Gertz, senior editor of the Washington Free Beacon, in re:  His trip to China with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.  “Be polite, be professional, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”  Deeply schooled in history, esp military history, going back millennia. Secy Mattis went to China to take the measure of [the situation/the people]. Most important  issue: the impasse over the South China Sea — China is in the midst of a covert takeover of this strategic waterway.  Mattis, meeting with Gen Shu [?], second-most powerful person in China, explained: “You have your position on this body of water and we have ours, which is that it’s an international body of water.  If we don’t come to an understanding on this, we could find ourselves at July 1914.
Chinese are very upset with being disinvited to the naval exercises, esp since it was linked to the Chinese mil build-up in the Sout China Sea. Have deployed very sophisticated missiles on at least three of the Spratley Islands. Concern that some regional Chinese commander could take an action that could escalate.
Xi olds that by 2030, China will have a world-class navy to compete with the US.  China is dvpg [aggressive capacities]: ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles, cyber attack, and space warfare. In each of these, China is on a par or else ahead of the US.   US is still dominant in undersea.
China is dvpg several generations of quiet subs.  Also: autonomous underwater vehicles — drones — targeting US technology
Lethality and agility are Mattis's two most important buzzwords. The key Navy weapon currently in development: autonomous underwater drones. 
Upon Mattis's departure from China, the top general tried to schmooze him by saying, “I hope we can be friends”; Mattis was not interested in friendship with China, he’s interested in protecting is country.
In Mar-a-Lago, the then-defense Minister asked Mattis: What kind of military would you like to fight?  "One that trains a lot but has no combat experience."  !!
We flew to China in an E4B.  Mattes apparently would like to get some kind of military exchange program going if it’s genuinely reciprocal.
The Chhinese defense Minister will visit the US before the end of 2018.
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 1, Block D: Veronique de Rugy, Mercatus Center, @veroderugy , in re: US applies $200 bil more of tariffs in trade war vs China, incl dog collars.   . .  “The best way to deal with China is in conjunction with our allies; unfortunately, Pres Trump is also alienating our allies.   . . .  US tactics are problematic in that so far the Chinese haven't budged an inch.
Hour Two
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 2, Block A: Robert Collins, 37-year veteran advisor to the Department of Defense and author of Pyongyang Republic: North Korea’s Capital of Human Rights Denial; in re: . .  , Field exercises are done by both South Korea and the US. Command post exercises.    There’s no way to replicate the detailed aspects of the command-post exercises – comms and coordination and specificity of current plans, all cannot be replicated. Significant loss of the ability of the two leaderships to work together. Tactical at the lower level;  operational at the four-star level; strategic at the presidential level. All this is irrelevant in nuclear war.  . . . Not only is Pres Moon being nicer; there was a certain suppression of thought against conservatives in South Korea. Has an effect on the perspective of all concerned.  At the working level, doesn't impact the [two top South Korean and US fellows].  There are 28,500 US service members based in South Korea.
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 2, Block B:  Alan Tonelson, independent consultant who blogs at RealityChek, in re:  The just-announced $200 billion of tariffs on China.  Chinese pirates.  Tariffs on dog-collars.  How long can Guangdong endure a factory build-up of dog collars?  Not too long.  Some of the factories have already closed; we’ll buy our  dog-collars from Bangladesh.   It’s no secret that the cabal of farm lobby, Wall Street bankers and multinational manufacturers (“the offshoring lobby”) have run US trade policy for the last thirty years. Farmers are up in arms because they’ve overplanted under Federal subsidies. 
China boasted that it’d target red/Trump states.  Cf. bombing civilians in wartime merely makes the population angry and stronger.  Hasn’t China learned this? No; China hasn't won a war in about a thousand years.  . . .  The president has 180 days in which he can determine if talks w China are going so well that he decides to [cancel] the sanctions. 
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 2, Block C:   Lara M Brown, George Washington University,  & Salena Zito, CNN and author, The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics; in re:  Bucks County; the House;
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 2, Block D:   Zachary Keck, Wohlstetter Public Affairs Fellow at the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, in re:  Militarization of space.
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Space Is Truly the Final Frontier (For the Next Great War)   The weaponization of space is inevitable, but there’s still time to make it as peaceful as possible.   by Zachary Keck
The weaponization of space is inevitable, but there’s still time to make it as peaceful as possible. 
Those are the major conclusions that can be taken from a new study by Brian Chow published in  Strategic Studies Quarterly , the strategic journal of the United States Air Force. Chow is formerly a senior physical scientist for twenty-five years at the RAND Corporation and described the inevitability of space weaponization in his article “ Space Arms Control: A Hybrid Approach ." He argues that this will be the result of spacecraft that can remove debris and service existing satellites. These dual-use spacecraft are necessary for peaceful space activities. However, they can be quickly refashioned for military purposes—with devastating consequences. 
The first type of dual-use spacecraft—called active debris removal (ADR)—are designed to deal with the rapidly growing problem of space debris. One preliminary ADR example came from China in June 2016 when it launched the "Aolong-1" spacecraft, which was a demonstrator device. These ADR spacecraft—which are also being developed by the United States, European Union, and Russia— can retrieve debris floating in space. Then, the ADR spacecraft bring the debris down to re-enter the atmosphere, destroying it by the intense frictional heat. Alternatively, they can also instead place the debris in graveyard orbits to reduce the probability of colliding with operational satellites. 
ADR spacecraft are unavoidable given the growing nature of the space debris problem. Previous estimates have suggested that starting in 2020 the world would need to remove an average of five massive objects (such as decommissioned satellites and derelict rockets) from low earth orbit (LEO) each year to deal with the problem. Others have estimated that the number is closer to ten that will need removal. However, as Chow points out, these estimates fail to consider the massive expansion in the number of LEO satellites entering space. As of August 31, 2017, only 1,071 LEO satellites were orbiting the earth. Over the next decade, however, between 14,000 and 16,000 additional LEOs are expected to be launched. This makes the space debris problem more difficult, and debris removal spacecraft that much more important. 
The problem is that the same spacecraft that can remove debris can also be used as “space stalkers.” Space stalkers, as Chow previously described them , "could be placed on orbit in peacetime and maneuvered to tailgate U.S. satellites during a crisis. At a moment's notice, they could simultaneously attack multiple critical satellites from such close proximity that the United States would not have time to prevent damage." Since ADR spacecraft are designed to get close to and remove debris, they necessarily have the capability to get close to and snatch essential satellites that U.S. military relies on. 
Additionally, ADR spacecraft are not the only dual-use problem. Many of the same countries developing ADR capabilities are also building maintenance spacecraft. These spacecraft—called on-orbit servicing (OOS)—also maneuver themselves to be in physical contact with satellites to perform any number of maintenance tasks. These tasks include, "high-resolution inspection; correction of some types of mechanical anomalies, such as solar array and antenna deployment malfunctions; relocation and other orbital maneuvers; installation of attachable payloads to enable upgrades or new capabilities; and refueling to extend the service life of satellites." 
Once again, the issue is that these OOS spacecraft can be quickly repurposed to take out critical satellites during a crisis or conflict. In fact, these OOS spacecraft are even better space stalkers than ADR ones because they have more advanced rendezvous and robotic capabilities. 
This is not some distant problem. Chow notes that the first ADR and OOS spacecraft are likely to become operational sometime in the early part of the next decade. “In effect,” he writes, “weaponization of space will happen by default in the early 2020s and beyond and will be unavoidable and irreversible.” It will only grow worse with time as more countries launch ADR and OOS spacecraft and their capabilities for rendezvous and proximity operations improve. 
The current space control treaty is unable to deal with this emerging threat. This treaty prohibits parties from placing weapons of mass destruction into orbit, which is important but does not deal with the growing conventional threat. Even the different proposals being floated by countries like China and Russia are unable to deal with the space stalker problem because it comes from dual-use spacecraft. A distinction between ADR and OOS spacecraft on the one hand, and space weapons on the other, cannot be made. Moreover, a ban on ADR and OOS spacecraft is not feasible. 
So how can the world proceed? Chow proposes a hybrid space treaty that takes the best from previous approaches and updates it to deal with the dual-use challenge. To deal with the latter, Chow argues that "space stalkers can be controlled by prohibiting them from being simultaneously placed too close to and threatening another country's satellites." An example would be that countries agree not to place any satellite within a certain distance (0.2 degrees in longitude or inclination, for instance) to another country's geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) satellites. If a country did move too many satellites too close, "the defender would also have the right to exercise self-defense as a last resort even before an actual attack." This would require recognizing the right to preemptive self-defense in space. In a  SpaceNews  commentary , Chow points out that President Trump’s America First National Space Strategy unveiled on March 23 declares a new self-defense doctrine, which is based on “counter threats” and is different from those of the Obama administration and its predecessors. Chow observes that “countering threats means we have the right to exercise self-defense when the threat is imminent but before the attack has occurred.” Most importantly, preemptive self-defense proposed by Chow almost three years ago is consistent with Trump’s new doctrine, emphasizing the timeliness and relevance of considering Chow’s analyses and recommendations.
Finally, the benefits of this hybrid approach are that it allows for verification (simply by verifying where the satellites are positioned) while allowing for ADR and OOS spacecraft to perform their important peacetime missions (although Chow is also in favor of agreeing on limits to the number of ADR and OOS spacecraft in orbit at any given time). Chow also believes, given their current plans for space operations and goals of space arms control, this hybrid approach could get buy-in from China, Russia, and the United States. However, if Moscow and Beijing refused to go along, the United States would have “no choice but to switch to unilateral space arms control measures to ensure space security and stability.”
In sum, Chow should be commended not only for identifying an underappreciated but immensely important challenge. He also takes the much rarer step of proposing a sensible solution. Space planners can use his new study as a point of departure in meeting this urgent challenge of keeping peace in an increasingly weaponized space.
Zachary Keck ( @ZacharyKeck) is the Wohlstetter Public Affairs Fellow at the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.
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Hour Three
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 3, Block A: Monica Crowley, London Center for Policy Research, in re: Roe v Wade and Constitutional interpretations.
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 3, Block B: Monica Crowley, London Center for Policy Research, in re:  Pres Trump  in Brussels speaking to allies – esp our new ally, the Republic  of North Macedonia. His observation on how NATO (largely funded by the US, at 4-plus per cent of US GDP) is to some extent dependent on Russian natgas – and how Mrs Merkel made a “sweetheart deal” with Putin to have a pipeline run specifically from Russia to German.  Why is the US paying to protect NATO from Russia while Germany is cousining up to Russia?  . . . Syria Crimea, North Korea – many important issues on the docket.  Russiagate, mendacity.  Clinton Strzok, Page: “It’s all about delay and especially – by the time this all comes to light, it’ll all have passed the statute of limitations and they can’t be prosecuted.”
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 3, Block C:  Andrew C McCarthy, III,  columnist for National Review; served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; in re:
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 3, Block D: Andrew C McCarthy, III,  columnist for National Review; served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; in re:
Hour Four
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 4, Block A:  Tunku Varadarajan, Hoover, in re:  The World Cup.
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 4, Block B:  Richard Fontaine, president of CNAS, in re: An article in The Atlantic on NATO.
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 4, Block C:  Napoleon, A Life, by Andrew Roberts
Wednesday 11 July 2018/ Hour 4, Block D:  Napoleon, A Life, by Andrew Roberts
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