For the night of 26 April 2012
China-Taiwan: Comment: Sixteen years ago, Pingtan Island, just north west of Taiwan, was the center of Chinese military energies to intimidate Taiwanese voters against electing a pro-independence president. Major amphibious operations were staged, some with catastrophic loss of life by military personnel because of bad weather. This also was the first time China attempted to maintain continuous air operations over the Taiwan Strait. That also proved beyond Chinese capabilities.
These complemented the dramatic and sensational Chinese short range ballistic missile shots into Taiwan's two main ports. The missile launches might be compared to the US launching missiles into Pearl Harbor to prevent Hawaii from seceding from the US.
A key difference was that the Chinese missiles were so inaccurate, that no one knew whether they would launch much less whether they would stay on target. The danger was that a ballistic missile might veer off course and strike Taiwan, rather than the ocean. The missiles were so unreliable that the risk of a stray missile was very real. With only luck, they did not hit land or ships in the harbor which would have sparked general war in 1996.
The US sent two aircraft carrier task groups to defend Taiwan in 1996, forcing the Chinese to back down and inflicting a humiliating political defeat on the communist mandarins in Beijing. At one point, during turnover, three carriers were present to defend Taiwan. The Chinese intimidation effort failed on every level. Even the weather was hostile to the Chinese.
This week China published details of its plans for the Pingtan Comprehensive Economic Zone (CEZ) through the approval and promulgation of the General Development Plan for the Pingtan CEZ. Mainland China officials have emphasized the "importance" of the plan and the CEZ.
The Chinese military fiasco during the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis ensured that the communist party leaders would never again allow the People's Liberation Army leaders to have their way in solving any national security problems.
The conversion of Pingtan Island into a tourist attraction is the ultimate sign that the military will not get their way again, as long as the Party officials are in charge.
Egypt: The election commission released on Thursday a final list of 13 candidates eligible to run in next month's presidential elections. The list includes Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who was disqualified and then reinstated over a 24-hour period this week.
Comment: The obvious choice of the army generals is Ahmed Shafiq., whom the generals reinstated a day ago. The data from the parliamentary elections shows that the electorate strongly favors Islamist parties. Over 66% of the voters in all three electoral phases voted for the parliamentary candidates from Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafists/ fundamentalists.
Islamist candidates won at least 66% of the vote in every region. If the election results from November to January 2012 are valid, only an Islamist -- not a moderate Islamist -- can credibly win the presidential election next month. Any other outcome must be considered rigged.
Sudan: For the record. Government agencies in Sudan have been ordered to slash their use of petrol and civil servants to donate two days of their salaries to support the army in the fight against South Sudan. Following weeks of border clashes, Finance Minister Ali Mahmud al-Rasul has instructed state institutions and companies to set aside a portion of their budgets for the war effort, the official news agency SUNA reported late Wednesday.
Comment and note for analysts: Nation-states live in a condition of dynamic tension with their environment, particularly their neighbors. They tend to go to war to gain control of land, resources, people and to increase their prestige or power.
States that are healthy and strong but have require more land, resources and people to continue growing plus have ambitious leaders who crave prestige, if not more power, wage war with their neighbors. This is not Sudan.
States that are desperate to obtain more land, resources, and people also start wars to try to fix the consequence of leadership ineptitude. To generate national combat power, they must concentrate and surge internal resources and energy by drawing down civilian normality in order to increase military capability. The measures listed in the opening paragraph are the certain signs that this is Sudan.
Such states are incapable of sustaining war and gamble on a quick win. It is a gamble that Sudan by itself cannot win, especially if Uganda is supporting South Sudan.
European Union: For the record. The collapse of the European Union is a realistic scenario because member states are reclaiming power and xenophobia and calls to reintroduce border controls are on the rise, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said on 26 April.
Comment: International media, especially those in the US, tend to suppress the backlash trends that Schulz mentioned. They are strong in south Europe, including France, along with a rise in the importance of the grey economies in Mediterranean Europe.
End of NightWatch for 26 April.
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