Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 21, 2018

Talk only went so far this week. I looks as if North Korea might not be dismantling its nukes, but hiding them, then threatening to close talks when exposed for this, then threatening to cancel the summit for some other list of excuses.

The big question on Kim Jong-Un backing out on the talks relates to his recent visits to China. Not that China has made any wild promises, but he feels somewhat confident in getting lippy with the US.

The big lesson was about Moon’s emphasis on diplomacy vs Trump’s emphasis on teeth. Diplomacy made progress in terms of leading to more diplomacy. But, actual action is a measurement of its own. So far, Trump’s action has led to China losing interest in any kind of trade war and Moon’s favored diplomacy seems to be leading to an undiplomatic end to diplomacy.

Things aren’t over nor have we seen the last surprise. The big news of the week is that China’s on the bench. Moon and Trump will meet to discuss Kim having a discussion with them in Singapore. Where’s China?—announcing its surrender on trade, reflecting on past meetings with Kim, another player that doesn’t really matter.

If Kim doesn’t show up, Moon’s populist diplomacy will prove to have failed and Trump will have the “political currency” for action against North Korea. Maybe that’s what China hopes for in allowing Kim to gain false hopes in something or other—to rationalize a little retaliatory action of its own. But, if military action was China’s first preference, Beijing would have already taken it.

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Encore of Revival: America, May 21, 2018

Call it a Shame of Thrones or a Game of Showns, but Mueller has shown his game to his own shame. By waiting as long as he has, Trump possesses the “political currency” to order the DOJ to investigate the Obama FBI. He couldn’t have done that a year ago. But, by letting Mueller “mull” on, as it were, the Russianewsgategate “thing” has irritated everyone, even the Anti-Trumpists, for its lack of results, yet continued pursuit in what looks more and more like a ghost chase every day—now every hour.

Roger Stone says Trump might not run in the next term—if he gets his [twelve years worth of] work done in only four. With Democrats requiring 84 days to approve each of 300 Trump appointees, it’s unlikely Trump will finish in four years, as Stone’s hypothetical went. Michael Jordan said the same thing about himself year after year, that he might not play the following season—encouraging his opponents to get lazy. It’s a ruse Trump opponents would be foolish to buy into. If the Democrats really wanted Trump to not run again, they would approve all his Senate appointees and build his wall in one vote. Then, it would be difficult for Trump to argue any need to stay, even with such “huge” results.

The Senate’s vote on net neutrality is a necessary step. Internet needs some kind of regulation, even if to say that it needs no regulation, even if to protect it from anti-Capitalist corptocrats who donate to “Blue Dog Republicans”. If Facebook and Google want to provide faster Internet then they can become their own Internet service providers. If Verizon wants to say which big, fat companies can “pay for lane” in the website rat race, then Verizon should provide that Internet service free of charge. But, as long as customers pay, those customers should get to decide the lanes. This is not to be decided by Verizon, AT&T, Facebook, Google, Apple, and other big, fat companies that have more money than many governments of the world. Capitalism does not infer that private companies should overrule human rights.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 14, 2018

Disassembling nuke sites prior to meeting Trump may seem like a “save of face” for Kim Jong-Un, but it’s actually a statement of Trump’s influence. If Trump wasn’t an influence, then Kim wouldn’t be doing what Trump has been demanding for a long time. No doubt, North Korea and its pro-Communist supporters in the Liberal media will twist this into “Trump not making a difference” from Trump getting what he wanted even before a meeting.

The comparison from history would be a feudal lord quickly accomplishing everything his king asked before his next royal visit. To say the king didn’t make a difference would be just plain ignorant. We should expect as much.

But, Trump wants it that way. The more Trump has his name on the Korean reunification, the more China’s desperate thirst for “respect” will sting. China wants everything to look like everything everywhere was China’s idea, or else throw a temper tantrum. Trump’s low-key silence will deny the “fight fix” and the semi-centennial tantrum will have to wait a little longer.

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Encore of Revival: America, May 14, 2018

Trump rescinding the so-called “Iran deal” will improve his position with other nations, North Korea only being one of them. Actually, it wasn’t a “deal” because Iran never signed anything.

Any “reputation” lost would be on Iran’s side for entering into a “deal” that even they didn’t commit to. Now the non-committal “deal” is off. Iran shouldn’t have expected anything. Now, at the bargaining table, Trump will be in a better position because nations know that he will actually follow through and only make deals that are real and binding.

This goes back to Obama’s great failure of his own base: He didn’t make laws that would last, he only made policies that depend on him being president in order to last, in this he exploited his voters by giving them high hopes and letting them get angry—the whole time Obama never told his own supporters the truth that everything he accomplished after Obamacare was designed to be blown away with the wind.

Iranians weren’t the only party with “gullible” written their foreheads; Obama voters were too, and Obama conned all of them.

The disturbing thing about the Iran “deal” is the reaction. Russia is very protective of that “deal”. That should be enough to call the “deal” off—and to prove that there was no substance in the Russianewsgategate “collusion” myth. But, where are all the stories in the press about how the “deal” was bad for the US? Having given $1.7B in cash to Iran should at least receive mention from a supposed “non-biased” media.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 7, 2018

This was week of talk. A delegation from Washington went to talk with China. Trump talked about talking nice while talking. Economic talking heads are talking about the talks and everybody’s talking about it. Once the delegation that went to Beijing to talk gets back, they will talk with Trump. Warren Buffet even had some things to talk about.

Trump’s delegation to Beijing was indeed an olive branch. It spelled out “the line” in the sand, toured it, explained, it, discussed it, explored it, and made that line very, very clear. To quote Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox, “Mr. Wayne didn’t want you to think that he was deliberately wasting your time.” But, the line is not the least bit likely to be respected.

China will ignore everything the US delegation explained and forewarned, but they will never be surprised when Trump does exactly what the delegation said he would, though they may act like it. More importantly, the list of expectations shows how well Trump knows China and Chinese methods of doing “business”.

Words like “retaliate” and “oppose” often surface with disfavor, as well as the US clearly being wise to the tactic of unofficially using backdoor channels to unofficially impose other restrictions to get what one wants. And, the US maintains its position on the “301” trade notice that China is non-market economy, specifically that China is to drop the matter completely and withdraw its appeals on the matter with the WTO.

There is no wiggle room in the US demands and those demands strongly demonstrate that Trump knows exactly the kinds of things Chins is likely to do. In essence the list of demands forbids exactly what China is most likely to do in the near future.

By contrast, China’s demands are mainly that the US back off on its recent action; that’s all. Consider the argument going around from pro-China stories about the trade “imbalance”—especially that US’ service and consulting help to narrow the “trade deficit”. The list of Chinese demands don’t account for this or ask that they be calculated in the “trade deficit”.

The mere demands, in themselves, tell us that China does not know what is about to happen in Washington and that Trump knows all to well—probably better than any of his advisers in the White House—what will happen in Beijing. China is in great danger.

Surprises are coming, somewhere. That’s how history always plays out. No war ends without the unexpected and there’s always a joker or two hiding in the deck. The surprises will likely include special and disputed territories, such as Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, as well as international public opinion and some sector of trade or international protocol not yet considered or discussed by anyone—they will surprise everyone. That “surprise sector” could include ocean boundaries or specific products often traded. It could also be an act of God, such as an earthquake, hurricane, or tsunami. But, we have no idea except that any intermediate history student should anticipate at least two surprises before the current cloud passes in the greater storm.

China looks at the US the way the poor working class looked at the aristocracy in Russia. Beijing thinks they are demanding “what is their right”. Remember, this is akin to “Opium War III”, started by a trade imbalance. China demands that the money and “tax payable by way of free technology” continue to flow net into China; the US demands things like “equal” and “fair” in the flow. That is rhetoric from the Opium War prelude. If that war resurfaces, the “English” speaking country won’t be Britain, though Britain still has a dog in the fight: Hong Kong is not to be changed for fifty years, yet this week Hong Kong military youth groups—comparable to Boy Scouts—rejected Chinese requests that they march according to PLA marching steps—meaning that China tried to make a change and Hong Kong could become a target for punitive action from China. Hence, Hong Kong is “fair play” in everyone’s opinion, including public opinion about everyone in the game.

If China had any kind of conflict with the West—whether militarily or over trade—the conclusion could require complete surrender of Hong Kong back to British rule—and Hong Kongers wouldn’t mind.

In the territorial disputes, Taiwan declaring independence would certainly rock the boat. Research says Taiwanese overwhelmingly view China as unfriendly. So, Taiwanese certainly wouldn’t mind making their contribution to making a few waves.

China is already on the bench with the Korean issue. Pyongyang just updated the North clocks to no longer be thirty minutes off, but back in time with the South. Where’s China?—exchanging trade demands with the country whose trade blockade preceded the Korean talks.

In all this, Warren Buffet’s advice is that China is a good place for the West to invest. We’ll see.

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