4 November 2018   Leave a comment

The South China Morning Post posted an article on the confrontation between a Chinese and US warship last September.  We knew that the Chinese warship Luyang came within 45 yards of the USS Decatur in the South China Sea.  Transcripts of the conversations between the two vessels, however, show that each side was absolutely committed to its course of action.  The SCMP quotes Bill Hayton, an associate fellow with the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House in London, on the gravity of the incident:  “’To my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve had a direct threat to an American warship with that kind of language,’ he said, suggesting China’s response was also intended as a message to US allies with a presence in the waters such as Britain and Australia.”  Another article in the SCMP then goes on to point out how other issues, such as the status of Taiwan, are deeply aggravating the US-China relationship.  War is becoming more, not less, likely.


Daniel Boffey has written a very detailed article for The Guardian which summarizes all the challenges currently facing the European Union.  The list is long:  Brexit and the inability of Great Britain to resolve its internal debate over its exit from the Union; the growth of illiberal regimes in Hungary and Poland and their challenges to the values ofthe Union; the confrontation with Italy over its recent populist budget and its incompatibility with Union rules; the ongoing refugee influx and the strains on the economics and politics of the Union; and the recent political weakness of perhaps the most important member of the Union, Germany, and the planned departure of Chancellor Merkel.  All these problems will weigh heavily on the scheduled elections next year for the European Parliament.  On top of all these issues, Europe also has to contend with US President Trump’s willingness to question traditional rules concerning trade and his antipathy toward NATO, the pre-eminent security alliance for Europe.


The political crisis in Sri Lanka continues.  The “former” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was fired by President Maithripala Sirisena, has refused to leave the Prime Minister’s residence, claiming that his sacking was illegal.  Mr. Wickremesinghe has demanded that Parliament be reconvened to decide the matter, but that demand has been rebuffed.  According to the BBC:

“But Mr Sirisena has not yet allowed this to happen – and analysts say that’s because he knows no majority yet exists that would endorse Mr Rajapaksa as PM. The Sirisena-Rajapaksa alliance is however trying to turn Wickremesinghe loyalists over to their side with ministries and other concessions. Some in the ousted PM’s party allege bribes have been offered, though MPs from Mr Rajapaksa’s party deny this.

“However the wheels of government have not stopped turning amid this crisis – Mr Rajapaksa has begun work and sworn in a cabinet. He, not Mr Wickremesinghe, is listed as prime minister on the official government website.

Not surprisingly, the Tamil-based parties in Sri Lanka have indicated that they will oppose Mr. Rajapaksa because of his role in opposing the Tamil separatist movement in the country several years ago.  Similarly, many countries oppose Rajapaksa for exactly the same reasons–the repression against the Tamils was brutal.

Posted November 4, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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