Compromise Found: Korea Walks Back from the Brink of Disaster

The Buzz

Senior representatives of the two Koreas completed three days of marathon negotiations to avert further escalation of military tensions on August 25 at 12:55 a.m. local time. Despite hours spent at the negotiating table, the agreement itself is relatively short and straightforward. However, the fact that it took so long to reach the agreement underscores the difficulty both sides had in allowing each other to save face despite high tensions.

The main trade-off in the agreement involves North Korea’s expression of regret regarding South Korean soldiers injured in an August 4 land mine explosion at a South Korean guard post adjacent to the DMZ. The statement constitutes an indirect admission of responsibility for the incident, which North Korea had denied prior to talks. In return, South Korea agreed to cut off propaganda loudspeakers from noon on Tuesday absent any surprises at which time North Korea demobilizes its troops from the current war footing.

Longer-term, the two sides agreed to hold Red Cross meetings in early September to plan for family reunions later that month during fall harvest holidays, and both sides agreed to promote civilian-level exchanges. In addition, both sides pledge to continue high-level talks in Pyongyang or Seoul.

The implementation of these steps should shift the focal point of the relationship from military tensions to exchanges and cooperation. However, inter-Korean pledges to engage in exchanges or to hold family reunions are historically breached as often as they are honored.

The main lesson learned from the rising tensions and negotiations is that both sides are vulnerable to each other. (South Korea refuses to bear the costs of North Korean provocations and its economy is vulnerable to spikes in military tensions while North Korea fears its polity is increasingly vulnerable to South Korean propaganda dissemination.) But admission of vulnerability may lead either to closer inter-Korean relations or to the possibility of exploitation of the weakness of one side by the other.

With this modest agreement, both sides have also shown that they have the wherewithal to negotiate their way out of a crisis. For this reason, the test of whether this agreement marks a real turning point in inter-Korean relations will lie in the ability of both sides to keep their agreements and to institutionalize future dialogue and cooperation in such a way as to minimize their respective points of vulnerability.

This piece comes courtesy of CFR and Forbes. 

TopicsSecurity RegionsAsia

Coming Soon to the Australian Navy: Japanese Submarines?

The Buzz

If Australia is to choose the Japanese contender for their future submarine then it should be because it’s the best fit for our ongoing strategic requirements, fully meets project criteria, and is the most economically viable from now until the end of the 2060’s. This decision shouldn’t be a ‘captain’s pick.’

The Soryu-class (‘Blue Dragon’) submarine provides the capability the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s needs. But the current Soryu-class won’t meet Australia’s requirements. We will need Soryu Mark Two (Goryu? ‘Australian Dragon’) as a completely new design, which will have cost, performance and schedule risks. It won’t be a Military off-the-Shelf (MOTS) acquisition, as some seem to think. Similarly, the hull can’t be built in Japan and fully fitted out in Australia.

The Soryu fleet includes six commissioned vessels, which have a surface displacement of 3,480 tons (compared with the Collins-class 3,100 tons) and are 84 meters long. A further five are in various stages of construction.  There’s a continuous build program, with both Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) involved and alternating the start of each new vessel.

There are a number of major changes required for Mark Two in evolving a design to meet RAN’s requirements. This is no simple matter and presumably the CEP will establish how this could be accomplished.

The Soryu-class are currently operated and maintained for a service life of 20 years. Australia will want 30 years. Welding techniques, the steel used, corrosion control and number of compression/decompression cycles from deep dives all affect service life. So too do the maintenance and upgrade arrangements—Japan will need to create a new upkeep plan for Mark Two.

Australia needs a greater range than the current Soryu. The Collins-class has a range of 11,500 nautical miles at 10 knots surfaced and 9,000 nautical miles snorkeling just sub-surface at the same speed. Fully submerged it has a range of 480 nautical miles at 4 knots, when running on lead-acid batteries.  Soryu has a surface range of 6,100 nautical miles at 6.5 knots, faster underwater. This will need to be increased in Mark Two by more fuel-efficient engines and extra bulk fuel storage—perhaps by filling some water ballast space with fuel, to get longer range.

Remaining silently at depth for periods of up to 35 days, while travelling slowly for approximately 4,000 nautical miles in the patrol area, will be important for Australia’s next submarines. Although not specified explicitly in the CEP criteria, Australia needs an excellent Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system and specialist batteries to give the required endurance.

The Japanese have obviously made significant progress with Lithium ion batteries (LiBs) to the point where they are proposing that the final two Soryus being constructed in Japan about 2020 abandon their Stirling AIP engines and have only LiBs. LiBs are much more energy dense, providing up to four times as much power in the same space as occupied by classic lead accumulators. If this happens, this is a major technology advance as currently no commissioned diesel-electric submarine in the world has gone to sea with LiBs.

Diesel engine-driven battery charging technology needs to adapt to the new requirements—the need for much more electrical power for faster charging possible with LiBs. Currently, Soryus have two chargers, while Collins-class have three. This has significant implications for detectable snorkel depth battery charging time, which means that Soryus currently may have the higher indiscretion ratio. Mark Two must do much better.

Soryu Mark Two will be offered with a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, with the advantage that brings of high torque at low revolutions, keeping propeller noise to a minimum and avoiding the need for a gearbox.

The Soryu-class have a Hitachi command and control system, while Australia wants the U.S. AN-BYG-1 installed, a first for Japan. In terms of weaponry, the Soryus can launch Type 89 torpedoes, Harpoon missiles, and mines. Australia wants Mark 48 Mod 7 CBASS torpedoes, mines and probably the same UGM-84C Sub-Harpoon missiles as fitted in Collins Class. There will also be issues over which type of sonars should be fitted.

Cultural differences between the Japanese and Australian defense industries will be challenging. If they’re lining up an Australian-based partner to help them deal with the serious issues ahead, there’s been no public disclosure as yet.

The best chance for a successful Mark Two design and construction program with MHI and KHI, as Australia’s international partners, appears to be a hybrid build. The first one or two submarines would be built completely in Kobe, with heavy involvement by Australian designers and shipyard workers there, before construction shifts to Adelaide for the remaining vessels in the project.

In the political arena, given that China is Australia’s number one trading partner, what would be the impact of teaming with Japan and the U.S. in what will be seen by China as a strategic coalition to contain their naval expansion? Neither French nor German CEP contenders have this problem.

This piece first appeared in ASPI’s The Strategist here

TopicsSecurity RegionsAsia

Taking on the Dragon: U.S. Presidential Hopefuls Breathe Fire on China

The Buzz

China bashing in the 2016 presidential election has begun in earnest. In past campaigns, many of the attacks on China were forgotten as candidates dropped out of the race or were defeated. In 2012, for example, Mitt Romney pledged to declare China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. He never got the chance, of course, and Obama's policies were unaffected by Romney's campaign rhetoric.

Sometimes, promises to 'get tough' with China during the campaign simply became irrelevant as presidents, once in power, confront the demands of real-world policy challenges. When George W Bush ran for president in 2000, he criticized his predecessor Bill Clinton for calling China a strategic partner, and instead said China should be viewed as a 'strategic competitor.' After becoming president, however, Bush dropped that label. When a Chinese jet collided with a U.S. surveillance plane over the South China Sea, Bush worked hard to avert a U.S.-China political crisis, and after the September 11 attacks, he welcomed Beijing's proposal to fight together against terrorism.

This time may be different, however.

China's repressive policies at home, combined with its transgressions in the South China Sea and massive cyber attacks on U.S. companies and the Federal Government, make it an easy target. Moreover, criticism of China likely resonates with most Americans. Republican candidates will accuse Obama of being too soft on China and vow that if elected, they will stand up for American interests. Democrats, including Obama's former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, are more likely to find fault with than defend the current Administration's approach to managing U.S.-China relations. Regardless of who is elected president in November 2016, he or she is likely to adopt a firmer approach to China on a litany of issues.

So what are the candidates saying about China so far?

GOP candidate Donald Trump condemned China's recent currency devaluation as “the greatest theft in the history of the United States.” If elected president, Trump said,
“Oh would China be in trouble!” Carly Fiorina, another GOP contender, criticized China's cyber hacks on federal databases as an “act of aggression” against America. She also warned against allowing the Chinese to control trade routes in the South China Sea and pledged she would be “more aggressive in helping our allies...push back against new Chinese aggression.” In a lengthy critique of Obama Administration policies published in Foreign Affairs, GOP candidate Marco Rubio lambasted Obama's “willingness to ignore human rights violations in the hope of appeasing the Chinese leadership.” He also accused China of pursuing “increasingly aggressive regional expansionism.”

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has joined the fray in an effort to shield herself from the accusation that she was complicit in the implementation of a policy that accommodated China and failed to sufficiently stand up for American interests. Clinton acknowledges that as secretary of state she worked hard to build a better relationship with China and says she would continue to do so as president. But she also warns about the dangers posed by China's militarization of the South China Sea and condemns China's “stealing commercial secrets, blueprints from defense contractors” and “huge amounts of government information” in its quest for an advantage over other nations.

The presidential campaign is just starting to heat up. The torrent of China-bashing in the remaining 15 months before the general election is likely to have a profoundly negative effect on China's image in the U.S., which is already unfavorable. In a 2014 poll by the Pew Research Center, only 35% of Americans had a positive view of China, while 55% had a negative one. China's image in the U.S. has tilted in a more negative direction in recent years – as recently as 2011 half of Americans gave China a positive rating.

The negative public mood will likely align with harsher attitudes in Congress, reinforcing the proclivities of the next U.S. president to adopt a tougher stance against Chinese trade policies, human rights violations, cyber intrusions, and assertiveness in the South China Sea. Despite a sincere desire for a positive bilateral relationship with the US, Xi Jinping is likely to prioritize the preservation of domestic stability, defense of sovereignty, and pursuit of the Chinese Dream.

Fasten your seat belts and get ready for a rough ride in US-China relations beginning in 2017.

This piece first appeared in the Lowy Interpreter here

Image: Flickr/Creative Commons. 

TopicsSecurity RegionsChina

On Display: China's Master Plan to Sink the U.S. Navy

The Buzz

Look out, China military watchers. Beijing seems to have displayed some of its most impressive missile technology—technology that would be used to keep the U.S. Navy at bay in the event of a military conflict. And if all works out, we might just get an up-close look in the days to come.

According to a report in China’s Global Times, Beijing displayed some of its most deadly military hardware during a warm-up for its September 3rd World War II commemorations and parade.

Get your cameras and cell phones ready. Logic would suggest such weapons will be displayed in the actual celebrations.

According to various accounts, several types of missiles were paraded, among them some of the most lethal in China’s arsenal.

“The latest weaponry-the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile that could reach a major U.S. base in Guam in the western Pacific, and the most potent missile, the DF-5 intercontinental ballistic missile, were seen in the rehearsal,” explained Shao Yongling, a senior colonel from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Second Artillery Command College.

Of special note is the possible show in the days to come of China’s much-discussed “carrier-killer” missile, the DF-21D, a weapon at the heart of China’s anti-access/area-denial strategy.

“DF-21D anti-aircraft carrier ballistic missile that the U.S. believes is targeting it, also was seen for the first time, without concealing its model number.” Shao explained to the Global Times.

Getting an up-close and personal view of this important weapons system, described by many as being on the verge of a game changer, could tell us a little bit more about the system’s capabilities.

How the “Carrier-Killer” Works

How the DF-21D would work on the battlefield is key to understanding its possible potential.

The weapon is mobile, making its detection difficult—even under the best of circumstances. When fired, the missile is guided using advanced radar, satellites and possibly even an unmanned aerial vehicle. Various reports indicate it has a maneuverable warhead potentially capable of defeating missile-defense systems. It slams down on its target—an oceangoing vessel like an aircraft carrier—at speeds of Mach 10 to Mach 12. Most sources suggest the missile holds the ability to attack naval vessels up to approximately 1,000 miles away, outranging by many times the strike range of all U.S. aircraft aboard existing carriers.

Can America Defend Against It?

While there are many doubts as to whether the system is fully operational—the DF-21D has never been tested against a noncooperative sea-going target—it presents a tremendous challenge to U.S. maritime might in Asia once it becomes fully ready for military operations.

In an interview I conducted with Roger Cliff for The Diplomat back in 2012, China’s anti-ship weapon seemed to pose quite the challenge with no clear indications of what would happen in wartime:

“The thing to keep in mind is that, in order for China to successfully attack a U.S. navy ship with a ballistic missile, it must first detect the ship, identify it as a U.S. warship of a type that it wishes to attack (e.g., an aircraft carrier), acquire a precise enough measurement of its location that a missile can be launched at it (i.e., a one-hour old satellite photograph is probably useless, as the ship could be 25 miles away from where it was when the picture was taken), and then provide mid-course updates to the missile. Finally, the warhead must lock onto and home in on the ship.

This complicated ‘kill chain’ provides a number of opportunities to defeat the attack.  For example, over-the-horizon radars used to detect ships can be jammed, spoofed, or destroyed; smoke and other obscurants can be deployed when an imagery satellite, which follows a predictable orbit, is passing over a formation of ships; the mid-course updates can be jammed; and when the missile locks on to the target its seeker can be jammed or spoofed. Actually intercepting the missile is probably the most difficult thing to do. The SM-3 has an exoatmospheric kill vehicle, meaning that it can only intercept the missile during mid-course, when it’s traveling through space, so an Aegis ship escorting the target would have to fire its SM-3 almost immediately in order to intercept the missile before it reentered the atmosphere, or else there would have to be an Aegis ship positioned right under the flight path of the missile. The DF-21D may be equipped with decoys that are deployed in mid-course, making the SM-3’s job harder. U.S. Aegis ships are also equipped with the SM-2 Block 4 missile, which is capable of intercepting missiles within the atmosphere, but the DF-21D warhead will be performing some high-G maneuvers, which may make it impossible for the SM-2 Block 4 to successfully intercept it.

How all this would work in reality is impossible to know in advance. Even after China has tested its missile against an actual ship, it won’t have tested it against one employing the full range of countermeasures that a U.S. ship would throw at it and, as you say, the U.S. Navy will never have tested its defenses against such an attack. Somebody is likely to be surprised and disappointed, but there is no way of knowing who.”

We can only hope we never have to find out. 

Harry Kazianis is Executive Editor of The National Interest and a Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at The Center for the National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @Grecianformula.

TopicsSecurity RegionsAsia

Madness: The European Refugee Crisis

The Buzz

Europe's refugee crisis has escalated from tragedy to farce. More than 2000 people have died this year trying to enter Europe via the Mediterranean -- on top of unknown numbers who perished in the Sahara Desert on their way to Libya to risk the sea crossing. Thousands more languish in smuggler's dens or Ukrainian prisons.

But for the lucky many who make it to the shores of the European Union (arrivals now exceed 100,000 a month) the journey has just begun. African and Middle Eastern boat migrants do not want to stay in Italy and the Italian government is only too happy to pass them through. Train conductors turn a blind eye to migrants headed north.

Under pressure from the liberal internationalist intelligentsia, buck-passing has become a carnival act farther east in Macedonia. Thousands of refugees had piled up on Macedonia's border as they tried to travel north from Greece toward Germany, Scandinavia, and the United Kingdom. Reporters flocked to Macedonia to expose the Balkan country's harsh border enforcement.

Macedonia, sensitive about its human rights record, did the only logical thing: it opened its border, scheduled extra train and bus services, and herded migrants north to Serbia. Serbia is likely to do the same, passing the burden on to Hungary, which lies on the edge of the European Union's visa-free Schengen area. Hungary is rushing to build a border fence to keep them out.

But these migrants do not desire refuge in Hungary any more than they desire refuge in Italy, Greece, Macedonia, or Serbia. In fact, they refuse to accept refuge in any of these countries. They want to be registered as refugees in northern Europe, where they (probably correctly) believe that they can build better lives than in the austerity-wracked south.

These migrants are willing to make enormous sacrifices so that their children's children can be born in the world's richest countries. They are, in effect, citizenship shopping -- not just for themselves, but for future generations of their families. They certainly have no intention to return to Afghanistan, Eritrea, or Syria if and when peace is restored. They are on a one-way road to a better future.

The Chunnel Jungle:

This is nothing new. For years it was stories from Calais about African and Middle Eastern refugees trying to sneak through the Channel Tunnel to England. People died in ones and twos as they were run over by trucks, slipped off the bottom of train cars, or drowned trying to reach ferries making the 20-mile passage to Dover.

The camps in Calais came to be known as "the jungle" and a succession of British prime ministers and French presidents have been excoriated for not offering shelter to the hundreds and then thousands of people stranded in France on their way to pursue their dreams in England.

Now this trickle has turned into a flood and the bizarre standoff at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel has turned into a continent-wide crisis. No one denies that these Africans and Middle Easterners are fleeing terrible conditions in their home countries. No one should deny that they should be offered safe refuge. But equally no one should assert that these or any migrants have a human right to refuge-shop in the country of their choice.

When people fleeing terrible conditions in their home countries refuse refuge in countries like Greece and Italy they cease to be refugees and become irregular economic migrants. This is not to vilify economic migrants. But sovereign states have neither a moral nor a legal obligation to admit economic migrants. Ours is not a world of open borders.

Proponents of open borders often point to the American experience. How can Americans put up fences when our own ancestors were, for the most part, economic migrants who came to America in the simple pursuit of a better life? Shouldn't Europeans embrace the American example and open their borders to people fleeing terrible circumstances in Africa and the Middle East?

From the comfortable distance of the twenty-first century it is easy to forget that the price of America's openness to immigration was the genocide of dozens of Native American nations. Most Americans alive today are the beneficiaries of this genocide. But it is not an attractive model for Europe -- or even for contemporary America.

In Search of Welfare:

Today's economic migrants to Europe and America are not looking for virgin soil to farm on the open range. They are seeking welfare services. Liberal intellectuals cringe at the charge that refugees are welfare migrants, but these liberal intellectuals fail to understand the scope and scale of the modern welfare state and what it means for migrants.

In most countries direct income support ("welfare") payments to migrants are relatively small. Few people would expose their children to the dangers of people smuggling and the challenges of adjusting to life in a foreign land for a mere pittance in government handouts. But welfare means much more than handouts.

Welfare includes free primary and high school education, free or highly subsidized university education, free or highly subsidized healthcare, freedom from severe infectious disease, free roads to drive on, highly subsidized mass transit, and all the other accoutrements of life in the developed world.

Migrants don't somehow manufacture better lives through sheer sweat and toil. The age of the immigrant homesteader is long since gone. Like the rest of us, immigrants rely on state welfare institutions to provide the societal structure that supports modern life.

You can't blame people for wanting to see their children graduate from British universities or their grandchildren born in Swedish hospitals. But it is sheer madness to allow people to use the refugee system for this purpose. It creates massive perverse incentives for migration, not to mention resentment among host populations. Not only is this mad -- it is tragically unsustainable.

The liberal internationalists who advocate extensive refugee search and rescue in the Mediterranean and the free passage of refugees across Europe have in effect created a system that encourages people to threaten that they will commit suicide at sea unless their children and future generations of their families are given European citizenship and the opportunities this provides for upward mobility in the global status hierarchy.

Russian Roulette:

Let us not perpetuate the myth that refugee status is not a pathway to citizenship, since the same liberal internationalists who advocate for the acceptance of migrants also decry the deportation of people who came to the developed world as babies and have no knowledge of their nominal countries of citizenship. Listen to any interview with the people reaching Europe today. They have no intention of going back.

Every successful threat of "admit me or I will drown" encourages thousands of others to play the same dangerous game of chicken. And (thankfully) most of them don't drown. The figures suggest a death rate of less than 0.5 percent. Unfortunately, millions of people are willing to risk a 0.5 percent risk of death to get themselves and their families to ultimate safety and prosperity. The risk of staying in Afghanistan, Eritrea, or Syria may be much higher.

But Mediterranean boat migrants are safe when they land in Italy or Greece. They are not willing to accept safety in Italy or Greece. They demand prosperity in northern Europe. All countries have a responsibility to provide safety. No country has a responsibility to provide prosperity.

That doesn't imply that the European Union should just let people die at sea. With great power comes great responsibility, and even if European countries' maritime capabilities leave much to be desired they are certainly up to the challenge of Mediterranean search and rescue. Europe must save lives.

European countries should save lives but they should insist on booking refugee claims immediately, either on ship or shoreside, before discharging asylum seekers into the general population. Asylum seekers who refuse processing should be detained, just as they would be at an airport. Since this would inevitably place an undue burden on Greece and Italy, the EU should take financial responsibility for supporting refugees.

There should be no mobility northward and no civilian resettlement until claims have been processed, and if necessary force should be used to restrict asylum seekers to a limited area while they make their claims. This is not about cruelty. It is about control.

Here Europe should study Australia's experience with boat arrivals. Australian governments have learned to impose control but unfortunately have not learned to do so without cruelty. Australia's abuse of black site offshore detention centers closed to press scrutiny is unworthy of a civilized society. But the underlying determination to "stop the boats" is the right goal.

If Europe wants to learn from Australia's successes while avoiding Australia's shame it should offer irregular migrants arriving by sea the tough love of making sure that their economic aspirations are thwarted. Every human story of the pursuit of a better life pulls at the heart. But the reality of tens of thousands of beggars on the streets of Italy and Greece should harden the mind.

Left, Right, and Common Sense:

In many ways the political right has a troubled history when it comes to immigration. Too often anti-immigration rhetoric has been used as a populist veil for bigotry and racism. Thus it is perhaps best that the case for secure borders be made from the left. The wholesale accommodation of people seeking better lives in Europe will generate more suffering than it alleviates. Europe cannot accommodate its way out of this crisis.

This position will be contradicted by hundreds of news stories highlighting the dramatic improvements in the lives of refugees resettled in Europe. Almost anyone who is resettled from Africa or the Middle East to northern or western Europe will have a better life. If not them, their children and grandchildren will. Sweden will always trump Somalia.

But reporters don't interview the people who die in the Sahara Desert, the people who are imprisoned in transit countries, or the people who are lost at sea. They don't calculate the impact of the migration of middle-class professionals on the availability of education and healthcare services in the sending countries. And they don't acknowledge that ordinary citizens should have the democratic right to decide who will be admitted into co-citizenship with them.

A focus on the migrants who make it puts the call for charity ahead of the call for justice. Some 3 million people in Eritrea are liable for unlimited national service under the rule of a totalitarian one-party state. Another 3 million people have fled Syria for safety in neighboring countries. A billion people might leave China for northern Europe, given the opportunity. Globally 2 billion people live on less than $2 a day.

It strains common sense to argue -- as liberal internationalists implicitly do -- that those among the world's poor who are willing suffer terrible privations and risk their lives at sea to get to Europe should win the lottery of good schools for their children. It encourages others among the world's poor to enter the same lottery. If Europe wants to admit new citizens, it should do so in a fair way, perhaps in a real lottery like the one the United States uses. The drowning lottery is a terribly cruel way to be kind.

The hard Way Out:

European governments should take a tough stand against irregular migration. But they should also contribute massively to the funding of better facilities for refugees in Africa and the Middle East and they should get serious about pushing for the peaceful resolution of conflicts across the region. Most of all, they should act together, if the refugee crisis is not to undo sixty years of progress toward a borderless Europe.

The spectacle of hundreds of thousands of homeless foreigners in desperate need trudging north and west across Europe is the unintended consequence of years of interventionist foreign policies that have destabilized the countries of Africa and the Middle East combined with neoliberal economic policies that have exacerbated global inequalities. As ye sow so shall ye reap.

There is no way out of this crisis except the hard way out -- both for the countries of Europe and for the migrants who are so desperate to live in them. Continuing accommodation will yield an exponential growth in migrant numbers (and deaths), a spiraling crisis that will ultimately break the Schengen agreement. The European Union faces a clear choice: open borders without or open borders within. The old liberal dream of both at once cannot survive the harsh reality of our unequal world.

Image: Creative Commons/Flickr. 

TopicsImmigration RegionsEurope