Reason for a New Age

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    What you will expect to see here are discussions of politics and tangentially economics. This blog will do its best to present a rational look at the world of today, how the modern world came into place, and the issues that are currently being discussed in the public realm.
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Trump is Toast – Hello Mr. Calk

Posted by publius2point0 on 2018/07/07


If Matt Drudge didn’t mention Stephen Calk in November of last year, then I think it’s safe to say that he’s not ahead of the news cycle.

I’m betting on “flip”.

Elliott Broidy, on the other hand, is probably still a few months off from criminal indictment.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/trump-donor-ukraine-criminal-probe-180307124432781.html

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/mueller-probe-expands-hollywood-as-trump-arrives-la-fundraiser-1093125

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/elliott-broidy-history-bribery-pro-israel-advocacy-180404120351079.html

Quite the winner.

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Peace in the Middle East

Posted by publius2point0 on 2018/06/15


Just a short note, but it’s possible that peace might have been achieved in the Middle East, today. No one seems to have noticed, but that’s not my fault.

Basically, with the fall of ISIS, Turkey and Iran formed a deal to work in Syria to their own advantage. Turkey wanted to take over a chunk of it and/or beat up the Kurds in Northern Syria, and Iran wanted to set up bases through Syria in order to prop up Assad and ensure that they had the country as a vassal state.

Israel did not love this, nor did Saudi Arabia.

Seeing that the Trump administration was favorable to both the Saudis and Israel through business and personal connections, these two formed a deal to wine and dine the Trump administration into giving them free reign. Trump left this to Kushner, and Kushner decided to go along with Netanyahu and┬áMohammad bin Salman’s (MBS’s) plan.

That plan was, in essence, for the US to back off and let Israel and Saudi Arabia to cow the rest of the region – particular Iran – into compliance through financial and military might. Traditionally, the US has tried to keep the peace in the area. Now, we would look the other way should anyone misbehave.

Saudi Arabia proceeded to kidnap a number of important people from around the region and embargoed Qatar. Israel started to kick Iran around in Syria.

And, overall, the question was: Would Iran fight back or give in, in the face of superior arms and financial might?

Iran had two big opportunities.

1) They could expand their arrangement with Turkey. The Turks, as part of NATO, have a fairly large and modern military – supplied largely by the US – compared to most of the region (barring Israel).

2) And they could get Russia to back them. If the US was sitting it out, then Russia can largely decide who to proclaim the victor. Unlike the US, they have no problem backing a side and fighting alongside it.

Now, so far, it’s been many months since this all began and the Turks have yet to do anything but what they initially set out to do. They’ve kicked around the Kurds and swamped bits of Northern Syria. There’s currently no indication that they’ve done anything with Iran except, maybe, helped to transport some troops through to Syria.

Overall, not looking too good.

And now, today, Vladimir Putin did these two things:

https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/putin-to-meet-saudi-crown-prince-in-moscow-amid-soaring-oil-prices-1.6175868

https://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Putin-and-Netanyahu-agree-to-improve-coordination-on-Syria-560074

In short, Putin seems to have decided to also back Israel and Saudi Arabia.

This leaves Iran on its own and still without nukes.

We will have to see, but I think it’s fair to say that Iran cannot win. They will probably be gifted their bases in Syria, but neither Israel, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the US, Egypt, Jordan, nor anyone else in the Middle East is going to let them get away with all of the games they have been playing over the last several decades, spurring on rebel and terrorist groups through the region (and into Africa). There is no more playing one off against the other since Turkey doesn’t seem interested, Syria is a wasteland, and everyone else is unified against Iran.

So, in the interests of giving praise where praise is due, I will have to commend the Trump Administration for bringing Peace to the Middle East. After 1.5 years in power, the Executive branch has, of its own, done something successful and reasonably bright.

Though so as to not give praise that isn’t due, it has to be noted that Trump himself wasn’t helpful at all in this and almost torpedoed it by announcing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And this does all seem to have been a plan set up and lead by Netanyahu and MBS. Jared Kushner bought in to the plan and backed it with American intel, but he does not appear to be the originator.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/06/18/donald-trumps-new-world-order

We’ll see if it lasts.

I’m not sure I trust Netanyahu to not go adventuring.

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Brief thoughts on North Korea

Posted by publius2point0 on 2018/04/30


I will, hopefully, say more on this in a future post, but a key thing to note about North Korea is that it is fundamentally a criminal state. The country is a factory for illegal drugs, counterfeit money, and weapons. That is the business of North Korea.

When Kim Jong-un took over the country, he seemed to be interested in developing other aspects of the economy. He started to build ski resorts and other vacation spots, advertising the country as a place to go enjoy oneself to those in nearby China.

That did not last long. Quickly, these efforts were stopped, Kim killed various relatives inside the country and his brother outside of the country, and switched to focusing on developing nuclear weapons.

The best guess for this change is that there is some form of “old guard” who feared the change in direction – maybe fearing a USSR style collapse – and a relative was trying to take advantage of the rift to take over. Kim Jong-un, to stay alive, had to agree to continue on the same path as his predecessors, at which point the old guard sided with him, and those who had been trying to counter Kim’s rule were killed, along with any other known threats.

Now, I say all of this because it bears remembering that North Korea is not a land of Communist idealists. They’re a mafia with a functioning business that they protect by holding South Korea hostage. Adding nukes to that equation just helps to protect the business, but isn’t strictly necessary. The several tens of thousands of traditional missiles pointed at Seoul have demonstrated themselves as being completely sufficient to keep the Western world out for over half a century, so it’s not like there’s much question of whether they really need to up the ante. It may well be that nuclear technology is more useful to them as a product than as a military capability.

The general rule of the United States government is to not negotiate with hostage takers, until you’ve got them over a barrel. Seoul is, effectively, the hostage of North Korea. Our condition for negotiating with them, to date, has been to starve them into submission.

Trump volunteered to negotiate with them prior to achieving that. Given that the administration was doing a fairly good job of tightening the noose on the country, that is rather strange. The genial interpretation would be that he lost in the game of chicken, and decided to give in and negotiate with them before getting them over a barrel.

But so that leaves the President negotiating with a country that isn’t over a barrel and which, really, already has everything it wants.

Iran, for example, wants to spread Shia Islam through the Middle East and gain a larger footprint in the region.

The leadership of North Korea, so far as anyone can tell, just wants to keep selling illegal goods and using their slave populace for their own amusement and enrichment.

Despite all arguments that the deal with Iran was “bad”, fundamentally any deal that allows you to drive around the country with a geiger counter is better than not having that deal. While, yes, they might cheat, the alternative is that they don’t need to cheat. It’s harder for them to operate in a way where they have to act in secret while your people are driving around the countryside, and if you catch them, then they look bad and you’ve got more ammo to use against them in terms of gaining support from other nations in enacting sanctions and you have more of a bargaining chip the next time you negotiate with them.

Any deal with North Korea that allows foreign inspectors to come in is better than not having that deal.

But why would North Korea agree to that deal, right now?

It makes sense that they would agree to meet with Trump. As a ruse, they’ve been stating that they were open to negotiations with the President for decades now, so they are somewhat obligated to go with it. And, more importantly, Kim Jong-un certainly understands that the President is stupid and easy to play. There’s the potential of getting Trump to do something really stupid, like okaying unfettered drug sales from North Korea to the US, without having to go through all of the layers of middle men that are currently necessary, for example.

But opening the country to American spies and investigators does not seem like the sort of thing that the old guard would like any more than they would like for the country to modernize its economy. Most likely, they would be even less keen on it than to having Chinese tourists running around. With direct access to people in the country, any president after Trump would start being able to plan ways to intercept and change out messages, arrange assassinations, etc. The ability for their organization to run continuously and smoothly will be at a major risk.

Overall:

  1. If Trump accepts a deal where the North Koreans do not have to accept inspections, then we can confidently say that the man simply accepted whatever the North Koreans asked of him, is a coward, and that there is almost certainly something he has agreed to – like allowing drug sales directly to the US – that is horrible for our country. (Note: I wouldn’t expect Congress to allow him to make this deal, despite how much he might try to argue that it’s worth it and that he has a person connection to Kim Jong-un and that there’s really no need to worry that they’ll cheat.)
  2. If North Korea accepts a deal where they do accept inspections, then more is going on than we are aware of. They weren’t cowed by Trump into negotiations. He relented and asked them to negotiate. I would suspect that China or Russia was pulling levers here and/or in North Korea to make this happen, for their own reasons. One can expect the deal to get cast out the instant Trump is no longer President.

While I think that the Trump campaign was too clearly full of idiots for Russia to try and collude with them on the election (why bother when the media will collude with you for free?), there are a few things that make me worry that they do have something on him.

  1. Starting the process to drop the sanctions on Russia just after announcing the travel ban.
  2. Denouncing the US as a country of killers just 48 after vowing to back the Ukraine against Russia
  3. Announcing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel just as Kushner’s plan to create an alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel was about to finalize.

If North Korea accepts inspections, while I’ll be happy that we do have inspectors (and spies) running around North Korea, I would throw it on the pile of reasons to doubt that the President is working for our country. Solving the North Korea issue would be one of the few things that could possibly see Trump be re-analyzed by the American public, and subsequently re-elected in 2020.

Kushner is a smart man. While the plan to handle the Middle East that he has been operating is amazingly ruthless and risky, I at least respect the strategy.

Trump is not a smart man. If it looks like he’s done something successfully, then it wasn’t him. And that’s a bigger worry. Regrettably, it might be worth it.

There’s a book I read once where the God of War had been so successful at fighting off evil in the world that the Devil works diligently to bring total peace to Earth for one day, causing the God of War to dissipate and be reborn, now as a novice at his job. Huzzah! The Devil now has free reign to spread his evil everywhere, playing the baby God of War for a fool at every step.

In the novel, however, the new God of War quickly learns and becomes just as effective as the old one at fighting Evil. The ruse, though initially successful, has no real lasting effect and Good wins.

Personally, I’m less optimistic about how a similar scenario would play out in the real world. Happy endings are mandated in fiction, but not in reality. Still, solving North Korea for at least a few years is better than not.

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