Morning Report: April 15, 2005

Bolton vote next Tuesday. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to vote next Tuesday on whether to confirm John Bolton as US Ambassador to the United Nations. Fox News reports: 'Committee chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., has put Democrats on notice in a letter to ranking member Joe Biden, D-Del., on Thursday that the panel has, or is about to get, everything it needs to make a decision, and he expects a vote on April 19. The committee is seeking to declassify and post online more raw documents from its investigation, as Bolton has requested.' Democrats continue their effort to prove that Bolton is a bad, mean person, researching allegations of verbal abuse on the part of Bolton - 'a major effort that will amount to nothing if it does not change the mind of Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, whose swing vote could block the nomination from a floor vote', according to Fox. (Fox)

Debka: Israel apprehends Syrian infiltrator. According to the latest bulletin from Debka: 'Armed infiltrator from Syria to Golan Heights admitted he was member of Syrian-based Fatah and had planned to abduct an Israeli soldier and take him back to Syria. He was captured shooting inside an Israeli military position. No one hurt. Israeli spokesman said incident grave breach of post-1973 truce. Damascus must stop sheltering terrorist bases.' Debka also notes: 'Islamic website issues travel warning to Syrian fighters crossing into Iraq to fight with insurgents. Syrian regime said “up to its ears in work” for Americans, has set up checkpoints at Qameshli and Deir ez-Zor border zones and arrests all outsiders. Fighters advised not to display beards, long robes or pray at mosques.' (Debka)

Dire straits. Continuing his series on Chinese naval strategy and Taiwan, Wretchard argues that Beijing's primary concern is not Taiwan but the security of its access to petroleum imports: 'The real strategic center of Chinese interests is the South China sea through which the commercial and petroleum lifeblood of China flows.' Regarding Taiwan itself, 'Taiwanese diesel electrics could respond to mainland saber rattling by taking station to the Bonins northeast of Taiwan and would be far better suited to littoral warfare than the nuclear attack boats Beijing is building. Moreover, any combat between Taiwan and China in this area would be exceedingly dangerous, because it would occur virtually within Japanese territorial waters. China would have to be very careful in naval operations or risk attacking Japanese fleet units by accident.' Part 2 examines the potential roles of the Pacific islands, and how Japan factors into the equation: ' ... as China is seen as representing a threat to Japan, any attempts to reach out to "the first island chain" (which includes the Aleutians) and the "second island chain" (which includes the Bonins, which is Japanese territory) will bring a reaction from Nippon.' (Belmont Club)