Saturday, November 9, 2013


Super Typhoon Haiyan Could Be One Of The Strongest Storms In World History

Photo: Public Domain : Source NASA

The Death count from the passage of the storm was officially 151 with more expected by virtually all authorities when we wrote this Saturday evening. One mayor has estimated that his city may have as many as 10,000 dead. Lets hope not. Right after Katrina the Mayor of New Orleans made a similar estimate "in excess of 10,000". In the end the final official death toll at New Orleans was  about 1,826. One person lost in one of these storms is too many but lets hope that 10,000 estimate is at least as far off as the shoot from hip estimate of the Mayor of New Orleans in 2005. BY all accounts the Philippines were hit hard by what may well be the storm of the century in terms of size, wind speeds, tidal surges, and rain fall. In terms of slowing or reducing the effect of the storm it looks like the Philippines were little more than a speed bump on the way to Vietnam.

 According to a story in the Huffington Post : "As of Thursday afternoon Eastern time, Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Super Typhoon Yolanda, had estimated maximum sustained winds of 195 mph with gusts above 220 mph, which puts the storm in extraordinarily rare territory. Since 1969,only three storms have had sustained winds close to this magnitude — Hurricane Camille in 1969, Super Typhoon Tip in 1979, and Hurricane Allen in 1980. No storm in the Atlantic has ever been stronger than Haiyan, according to The Weather Channel." Click here for the full story on the comparative size of the storm:

Click here for the full story from the Huffington Post on the aftermath now that the storm has passed through the Philippines, and the details on that 10,000 fatality estimate by one official. 

Lets pray that the good mayor is simply stunned by the sights he is seeing as was the Mayor of New Orleans and the fatalities are far less. One thing however has not changed from our first reports of the storm. such a storm was not weathered out by the Chinese maritime forces attempting to wrest the Spratly Islands from the Philippines. A storm like this changes the balance of power when a distant nation attempts to take over the offshore territory of a truly adjacent coastal state. How long that balance of power will remain changed and if the Philippines will be able to take advantage of it remains to be seen. The lesson to Chinese should be clear. Proximity gives the Philippines mother nature as an ally. Legitimacy gives the Philippines world opinion as an ally. A formal treaty, a lot of mutual history, and no small amount of blood ties give the Philippines the United States as an ally. No matter how both sides underplay the issue, and no matter how many times the Dragon takes a shoal or islet, in the end the cost to China of this bald faced theft is going to be too high. Some of the Spratly Islands are in International waters beyond the EEZ of the Philippines and some are in the kind of proximity to Vietnam and other neighbors that strict adherence to the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOSE) requires a negotiated or arbitrated settlement of EEZ boundaries. However the bottom line is that by international law and the law of nature as well as history most of the Spratly Islands belong to the Philippines.  While some nations may have an arguable claim on some of the islands, China has no legitimate claim in the area what so ever. More over every typhoon demonstrates that China has serious practical problems in maintaining even a bogus claim, presence at sea is not easy without proximity. The Philippines doesn't have to match China's full naval strength to successfully deny them an area to which the Philippines has easy access due to proximity and in which small combatant vessels from the main islands can be easily supported. China has the stretched out logistic lines. The Dragon may have bitten off more than he can chew.

 Lets pray for a rapid recovery among our friends in the Philippines.

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