16 December 2016   Leave a comment

China seized a US underwater research drone in international waters about 50 miles off the coast of the Philippines.    The drone had been launched by the USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic research vessel.  When the Chinese took the drone, they were challenged by the Bowditch but the Chinese vessel did not respond to demands that the drone be returned.  The US has filed a formal protest, but the incident seems like another chapter in the continuing showdown between the Chinese and the Americans on the status if the South China Sea.

USNS Bowditch

Image result for usns bowditch

President-elect Trump has indicated that he intends to appoint David Friedman as the next US Ambassador to Israel.  Mr. Friedman is a bankruptcy lawyer who has worked with Mr. Trump in his legal affairs in Atlantic City but he has no diplomatic experience.  Mr. Friedman is on record as supporting the total Israeli annexation of the West Bank and to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Both positions conflict with US policy since 1967 and the appointment is additional evidence that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is no longer a viable option.

Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan are calling for negotiations on the future of Syria without the participation of either the US or the United Nations.  The two countries are an odd couple:  Russia favors Syrian President Assad and Turkey wishes Assad to be removed.  But the gambit reflects the growing confidence of both parties to fill perceived vacuums created by American disengagement from the conflict.  Whether the two countries can come up with a plan is doubtful.  But at this point, anything that could stop the slaughter in Syria would be welcome.

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Posted December 16, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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