Philippines’ Duterte Says Chinese Leader Raised Threat of War Over South China Sea

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said his Chinese counterpart had threatened him that Beijing would “go to war” if Manila begins drilling for oil in the South China Sea.

.. “We do not want to quarrel with you. We want to maintain a warm relationship but if you force the issue we will go to war.”

.. Mr. Duterte has a record of inaccuracies and exaggeration.

U.S. Plans to Supply Antitank Weapons to Kurdish Fighters in Syria

The U.S. military is preparing to provide Kurdish forces in Syria with antitank weapons in their fight against Islamic State, U.S. officials said Monday, a move that would allow them to target armored Islamic State trucks used in suicide bombings but could also give them the ability to strike Turkish tanks operating in Syria.

.. Mr. Erdogan has said he still hopes to convince Mr. Trump to reverse course and stop plans to arm the YPG. But the U.S. military is already moving to supply the group with more firepower, including machine guns and other weapons, as well as ammunition.

.. To address Turkish objections, it is looking at providing the Kurdish forces with an unguided version of an antitank missile instead of the more sophisticated guided kinds

.. But even that has been the subject of debate. There are some in the administration who are worried about providing the YPG with any kind of antitank weapons

.. Until now, the U.S. has restricted arms supplies to the Kurds as a way to assuage Turkish concerns that the weapons could be smuggled into Turkey and used against its own citizens and soldiers.

.. The YPG is the largest force in the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of about 50,000 Kurdish and Arab fighters who work with U.S. special operations forces.

The North Korea-Trump Nightmare

It would begin because the present approach of leaning on China to pressure North Korea will likely fail. Trump will grow angry at public snickering at the emptiness of his threats.

.. At some point, U.S. intelligence will see a North Korean missile prepared for a test launch — and it may then be very tempting for a deeply frustrated rogue president to show his muscle. Foreign

.. the country might respond by firing artillery at Seoul, a metropolitan area of 25 million people.

.. a new Korean war could cause one million casualties and $1 trillion in damage.

.. “I do not believe there is any plausible military action that does not bring with it a possibility of a catastrophic conflict.”

.. China’s relations with North Korea aren’t nearly as close as Americans think.

.. In the 1990s, North Korea continued with its nuclear program even as a famine claimed the lives of perhaps 10 percent of the population

.. Instead, she urges greater measures to undermine the regime’s legitimacy at home by smuggling in information about it and the world (as some activists are already doing).

.. pushing for a deal in which North Korea would verifiably freeze its nuclear and missile programs without actually giving up its nukes, in exchange for sanctions relief.

Do the Syria Strikes Mean North Korea Is Next?

The Trump administration issued an $89 million warning to other countries. But the message has its limits.

Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has portrayed the cruise-missile blitz as an $89 million warning not just to Syria, but to other rogue nations like North Korea.

.. “The message that any nation can take is if you violate international norms, if you violate international agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken,” Tillerson

.. But is the Trump administration learning the right lessons from the Syria campaign? And is the message they’re sending as powerful as they seem to think it is?

.. The North Korean government, for its part, claims to have drawn the opposite conclusion from Trump’s bombing campaign: that the only way to prevent the United States from attacking it too is to develop a fearsome nuclear deterrent.

.. There could be “millions of casualties if something like this were to happen,” the Korea expert Victor Cha recently told me, and all for a military operation that would only temporarily set back North Korea’s weapons program.

..the first few days of the fight would be critical if we were to have any chance of protecting Seoul. To do so, we would have to get the chemical-delivery systems, the missile sites, and the nuclear sites before the North Koreans had a chance to use them. To accomplish all this we would need to carry out 4,000 air sorties a day in the first days of the conflict. In Iraq, in contrast, we had carried out 800 a day.

.. “My understanding is that we cannot protect Seoul, at least for the first twenty-four hours of a war, and maybe for the first forty-eight.”

.. “In the event of a North Korean attack, U.S. forces, working side by side with the South Korean army and using bases in Japan, would quickly destroy the North Korean army and the North Korean regime. But … [t]he intensity of combat would be greater than any the world has witnessed since the last Korean War.”