Home' Greymouth Star : September 20th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, September 20, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1440 - Eton public school is founded by King
1519 - Portuguese navigator Ferdinand
Magellan sets sail from Spain on a global voyage
to find western passage to the Indies but is killed
en route. The expedition flagship commanded by
Juan Sebastian del Cano circles the world.
1530 - Martin Luther advises German
Protestant princes to prepare for war rather
than accept compromise with the Holy Roman
Empire over publication of his new form of
1854 - In the Crimean War, a combined
British-French force of 26,000 under Lord
Raglan defeat the Russian force of 40,000
under Prince Menshikov at the Battle of Alma.
1912 - Approval given to form a military
flying school — the Australian Flying Corps,
the forerunner of the Royal Australian Air
1962 - Southern Rhodesia declares
Zimbabwe African People’s Union an unlawful
1963 - United States President
John F Kennedy goes before United
Nations General Assembly and
proposes joint US-Soviet expedition
to the moon.
1975 - Thirteen die in coalmine
gas explosion at Kianga,
as president of South Africa.
2000 - Britain’s MI6 spy headquarters is hit
by a small missile fired from a rocket launcher
in a high-profile strike at the intelligence
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
James Dewar, Scottish physicist who invented
the vacuum flask (1842-1923); Chulalongkorn,
reformist king of Siam (1853-1910); Jelly
Roll Morton (Ferdinand Joseph la Menthe
Morton), US jazz pianist, composer
and singer (1885-1941); Sophia
Loren, Italian film actress (1934-);
Taro Aso, former Japanese prime
minister and current deputy prime
minister (1940-); Tim Rogers,
Australian rock musician (1969-);
Juan Pablo Montoya, Colombian
Formula One driver (1975-).
“ Men hate those to whom they have to lie.”
— Victor Hugo, French author (1802-1885).
“ When the disciples heard this, they were
greatly astonished and asked, ‘ Who then can
be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘ With
man this is impossible, but with God all things
are possible’.” — Matthew 19:25-26
Trying to start up a
public relations office
is a project which
pays no dividends.
Greymouth and Whangarei Jaycees are willing
to testify to that.
This week, the Whangarei chapter decided
to drop its efforts for such an office to ser ve
Northland. “ To our disgust, not one of the local
bodies concerned is prepared to contribute
to the scheme,” said the president Mr Ralph
Moore in giving the reason.
Much the same thing has happened here,
although the project has not been completely
abandoned locally. As one Greymouth Jaycee
puts it, the idea has just “lapsed”.
Fractures to both arms were sustained by
Christopher Sinnott, aged about 10, of 12
O’Grady Street, when he fell heavily from a
tree. After x-ray examination and having his
arms set in plaster the boy was discharged from
In another mishap, Robert Henry Donaldson,
of 18 Masters Street, was driving in a southerly
direction in Tainui Street yesterday afternoon
when he collided with an unoccupied light van,
the property of Arthur William Russ, Reid
Both vehicles sustained minor damage.
One hundred years ago, the Paroa ferry began
to ply its way across Saltwater Creek. Fifty
years later a 100ft dray bridge spanned almost
the same spot. Today, a modern two-car bridge
is planned for the Saltwater.
The creek has had a varied history in its
course and flow. It has been forded (with loss
of life), ferried and bridged at least three times.
Some old residents say the ferry — Paroa or
Saltwater — never was.
uFood for thought
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There are passages in the Bible that speak to the finishing
of things — of lives coming to an end; of jobs completed;
of ways of living. In Hokitika this week, John Drylie is
completing some 30 years of ordained ministry to the
people of St Andrew’s Union Church. Before going
into the ministry John was a lawyer in Blenheim. He
came to Hokitika in 1984 when the St Andrew’s parish
incorporated worship places at Fox Glacier, Franz Josef,
Whataroa, Hari Hari, Ross, Kowhitirangi and Hokitika
including the Seaview Chapel.
John has served his lifetime of ordained ministry in
Hokitika with faithfulness and skill. His ability to speak
to matters without notes is impressive. His ability to teach
and explain; his depth and extent of knowledge. John is
someone who can give voice to difference with a pastoral
With Jan and his three children, John served and
continues to serve the parish; continues to be actively
involved with Hokitika Boys’ Brigade and the Upper
South Island Presbyterian Support; continues to be very
much a part of the Hokitika community.
St Andrew’s, Hokitika, boasts an active congregation of
diverse age, gender and abilities. People able to talk about
their faith in various ways and demonstrate it in their lives
and living. Much of this strength is due to the work of
John Drylie in this place — his commitment; his gifting
and training of others; his teaching and preaching.
So why am I telling you this? Because I think it is an
important part of being a community that the good
work of others is acknowledged. Because too often the
only tributes we hear are to people who have died. And
because people’s stories and inspiration are worth sharing.
Sometimes we just need to let people know that the work
they have done has been of great worth, just as we need to
wish them well into the next phase of their living. John, I
would like to do this for you.
Greymouth Uniting Church
A job well done
Coalition of the Unwilling
“ If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least
a favourable reference to the Devil in the House
of Commons,” Winston Churchill said in 1941,
defending his decision to regard Stalin as an ally
after Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
If the brutal fanatics of ISIS and their new
“ Islamic State” in parts of Iraq and Syria were
really an existential threat to the United States,
then President Barack Obama, using the same
logic, would now be treating the governments of
Syria and Iran as allies. But he is not.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has just
ended a recruiting tour of the Middle East,
signing up Arab States and Turkey for a new
coalition that will allegedly “degrade and
ultimately destroy (ISIS).” Moreover, it must
do so without ever requiring US “boots on the
ground”: the American public would not stand
for any more of that.
The US will happily provide air strikes if others
will do the dying on the ground, of course, and
the Iraqi government will go along with that
deal since it has just lost a third of its national
territory to ISIS. But it will take a long time to
rebuild the Iraqi army after its recent collapse —
and the only other US allies who are willing to
die to stop ISIS are the Kurds.
Jordan will supply intelligence ser vices. Turkey
will make it harder for would-be jihadis to
cross its borders with Syria and Iraq (the route
by which most of ISIS’s foreign recruits have
travelled), but it will not let the US use Turkish
air bases for military operations. Egypt murmurs
words of encouragement but makes no specific
Almost all the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia and
Kuwait included, have promised to stop the
large flow of donations from wealthy individuals
to the various jihadi outfits in Syria (including,
at least until recently, ISIS). The United Arab
Emirates reportedly even offered to carry out
air strikes against ISIS. But it is hardly a mass
mobilisation, and it does not involve any “boots
on the ground”.
There are plenty of boots available if
Washington wants them, but they are on the
wrong feet. The Syrian Army has been fighting
the jihadis for almost three years now, and after
its initial losses it has managed to hold its own
against them everywhere except in eastern Syria.
Elsewhere, it has actually been gaining back
ground for more than a year now.
Then there is Iran, a big, industrialised country
whose armed forces do know how to fight. Iran
provided the key support for the local Shi’ite
militias that stopped ISIS from sweeping into
Baghdad last summer, and it has been providing
indispensable support to the Syrian government
Finally, there are the “wrong” Kurds. The Kurds
of Iraq can be part of the coalition, because they
have their own self-governing region and are
legitimate recipients of American military aid.
But the Kurdish nationalist forces of north-
eastern Syria and south-eastern Turkey, who
have lots of combat experience and have been
holding their own against ISIS, are classed as
“terrorists” by Washington and so cannot be part
of the gang.
But Washington has not asked these major
players to join its new coalition. Indeed, it has
invited everybody in the Middle East to join
except those who are actually willing to fight
ISIS on the ground. How peculiar.
There are reasons for this odd behaviour, of
course. The obsessive American mistrust of Iran
goes back to the hostage crisis of the late 1970s,
and is reinforced by Israel’s paranoia about Iran.
Turkey would go ballistic if the United
States started arming the Kurdish rebels of the
PKK, who have fought a long and brutal war
(currently in remission) against the Turkish
State. And it is just too abrupt a u-turn for
Obama to start doing business with Syria’s
President Bashar al-Assad, whom he was getting
ready to bomb just one year ago.
Maybe a rebuilt Iraqi army can drive ISIS out
of Iraq eventually, although ISIS has lots of local
support in the Sunni Arab parts of Iraq. But
where does Obama think the troops will come
from to drive ISIS back in its Syrian heartland?
His only answer is to build a new “Free
Syrian Army ” composed of “moderates” who
will fight on two fronts, defeating ISIS while
also overthrowing Assad. But that is ridiculous,
since the old FSA has almost all been absorbed
into the various jihadi groups in Syria. There is
nothing left to build on.
For added comic effect, this new Free Syrian
Army will be trained in Saudi Arabia, the
principal supporter and paymaster of those same
jihadi groups until ISIS scared it into hedging
One is tempted to think that Obama is not
really all that worried about ISIS as a strategic
threat. One is further tempted to speculate that
he has learned not to care too much about what
happens in the Middle East any more. But those
are subjects for another day.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist
whose articles are published in 45 countries.
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
PICTURE: Getty Images
A German Milan anti-tank missile ready to be packed in containers with weapons destined for
northern Iraq at a military base in Waren, Germany. The shipment includes 4000 G3 rifles, 4000
P1 pistols, 20 Milan anti-tank launchers, 20 MG3 machine-guns and assorted other weapons.
Although Germany opposes the practice of exporting weapons to war zones, the government has
made an exception to arm the Kurdish forces battling Islamic State militants.
ietnam will soon have a
credible naval deterrent
to China in the South
China Sea in the form
of Kilo-class submarines
from Russia, which
experts say could make
Beijing think twice before pushing
its much smaller neighbour around in
A master of guerrilla warfare, Vietnam
has taken possession of two of the state-
of-the-art submarines and will get a third
in November under a $2.6 billion deal
agreed with Moscow in 2009. A final three
are scheduled to be delivered within two
While communist parties rule both
Vietnam and China and annual trade has
risen to $50b, Hanoi has long been wary
of China, especially over Beijing’s claims
to most of the potentially energy-rich
South China Sea. Beijing’s placement of
an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam
earlier this year infuriated Hanoi but the
coastguard vessels it dispatched to the
platform were always chased off by larger
The Vietnamese are likely to run so-
called area denial operations off its coast
and around its military bases in the Spratly
island chain of the South China Sea
once the submarines are fully operational,
That would complicate Chinese
calculations over any military move against
Vietnamese holdings in the Spratlys
or in the event of an armed clash over
disputed oilfields, even though China has
a much larger navy, including a fleet of 70
submarines, they added.
“Sea denial means creating a
psychological deterrent by making sure
a stronger naval rival never really knows
where your subs might be,” Collin Koh,
of Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of
International Studies, said.
“It is classic asymmetric warfare
utilised by the weak against the strong
and something I think the Vietnamese
understand very well. The question
is whether they can perfect it in the
under water dimension.”
Vietnam is not wasting time getting to
grips with its biggest ever arms purchase,
the centrepiece of a naval expansion
programme that State media has kept
largely under wraps.
From the sheltered harbour of Cam
Ranh Bay — home to a massive United
States military base during the Vietnam
War — the first two submarines
have recently been sighted plying the
Vietnamese coast on training runs,
according to regional diplomats.
A Vietnamese crew is training aboard
its third Kilo in waters off St Petersburg
ahead of its delivery to Cam Ranh Bay in
November, Russia’s Interfax news agency
reported last month.
A fourth vessel is undergoing sea trials
off the Russian city’s Admiralty Shipyard
while the last two are being built.
While regional military attaches and
experts are trying to gauge how quickly
Vietnamese crews are mastering the
advanced submarines, some believe it
will not be too long before Hanoi starts
sending them further offshore into the
South China Sea.
“The Vietnamese have changed the
whole scenario — they already have two
submarines, they have the crews and they
appear to have the weapons and their
capabilities and experience will be growing
from this point,” Siemon Wezeman, an
arms transfer researcher at the Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute
“From the point of view of Chinese
assumptions, the Vietnamese deterrent is
already at a point where it must be very
As well as possessing shorter-range
torpedoes, modern Kilos while submerged
can launch sea-skimming anti-ship
missiles that can travel 300km.
Wezeman said SIPRI estimated that
Vietnam had received at least 10 of the 50
Klub anti-ship missiles this year as part of
the deal with Moscow, but there was no
sign of any purchases of the Klub land-
Zhang Baohui, a Chinese security
specialist at Hong Kong’s Lingnan
University, said he believed Beijing’s
military planners were concerned about
“On a theoretical level, the Vietnamese
are at the point where they could put them
to combat use,” he said.
Neither China’s Defense Ministry nor its
Foreign Ministry responded to a request
Senior Vietnamese military officials said
they were satisfied with progress, saying
training at sea and integration of the
submarines into its developing naval force
was going smoothly.
They stopped short of confirming
whether the first two were fully
operational but stressed they would be
“They are not our sole weapon,
but part of a number of weapons
we are developing to better protect
our sovereignty. In that regard, the
submarines will be defensive,” one
military official in Hanoi said, declining
to be identified because of the sensitivity
of the matter.
That echoes public comments from
Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi
Vinh who has repeatedly stated, without
mentioning China directly, that Vietnam
would not start a conflict in the South
China Sea but if one began “we would not
just stand back and watch”.
Vietnam — a traditional army power
— has significantly expanded its navy in
recent years, acquiring modern frigates
and cor vettes, mostly from Russia, that
are equipped with anti-ship and anti-
Hanoi has also embarked on a building
programme of ships based on Russian
Vietnam and China have a bloody
history, fighting a brief border war in
1979. They clashed at sea in 1988 when
China occupied its first holdings in the
Spratlys. China also took full control of
another South China Sea island chain, the
Paracels, after a naval showdown with the
then South Vietnam in 1974.
Former western submariners watching
developments said they were impressed
with the apparent progress despite the
enormity of the challenge for Vietnam in
developing a submarine capability from
By comparison, the Philippines, the
other country most at loggerheads with
Beijing in the South China Sea, has no
submarines or modern naval surface ships
or significant naval aircraft.
Even before Vietnam took delivery
of its first Kilo in January, Vietnamese
submariners had been receiving training in
Russia, Hanoi’s Cold War-era patron.
India’s navy is also training Vietnamese
crews at its INS Satavahana submarine
centre in Andhra Pradesh State, an Indian
naval official said. India has operated Kilos
since the mid-1980s.
“ It is not just about learning basic
operational considerations, it is about the
doctrine and tactics of how best to exploit
these vessels — and making sure you’ve
got a long-term programme to build all
this up,” one western submariner said.
The diesel-electric Kilo is considered one
of the quietest submarines and has been
constantly refined since the 1980s.
Vasily Kashin, a Moscow-based strategic
analyst, said he believed Vietnam’s Kilos
were more technologically advanced than
the 12 such vessels operated by China’s
navy, which obtained its last one a decade
Internal sound absorption had been
improved, along with weapon control and
loading systems, he said.
Open source satellite images have
shown Kilos alongside new Russian-built
submarine whar ves at Cam Ranh Bay,
as well as a new dry dock for repairs. A
medical facility for submariners has also
been completed nearby, according to
Russian media reports.
Russian personnel are also stationed at
a new Russian-built training centre in
Cam Ranh, which includes simulators of
control, navigation and weapons systems.
US forces used the bay ’s sheltered
features to build a vast airport and logistics
base at the height of the Vietnam War in
the 1960s, when Cam Ranh was part of
the then South Vietnam.
By late 1978 it was in Soviet hands,
as a victorious Hanoi signed over base
rights to Moscow. In disrepair through
much of the 1990s, the Russians could
not negotiate an extension and departed
Across the harbour from the sensitive
submarine facilities, the Vietnamese are
expanding ship repair yards they hope
will attract a range of foreign navies at
The US Navy has sent several logistics
ships for ser vicing but a more formal
arrangement has yet to be agreed.
Former western submariners say Cam
Ranh’s location is perfect for Vietnam’s
Not only is it the closest large port to
the Spratlys to the south, it is also within
range of the Paracels.
And while much of the South China Sea
is shallow and presents difficult operating
conditions for submarines, Cam Ranh is
c lose to some of the deeper water off the
edge of Vietnam’s continental shelf.
“ No-one should underestimate the
Vietnamese — they have a clear threat
and that gives them an extra incentive,”
Wezeman of SIPRI said. — Reuters
Vietnam taking delivery of Kilo-class submarines from Russia
Sailors look at a model of a Kilo class submarine in Vietnam’s northern port city of Hai Phong.
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