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04 December 2016

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kooshy

TTG, interestingly "OBOR" عبور in arabic/persian means transit/ passage

J

Appears Mattis has a conflict of interest with the OSD position, he is a member of the Board of Directors for General Dynamics.

The Twisted Genius

J,

That can be fixed in five minutes with a letter of resignation. The bigger hurdle is that he was only put on the retired list three and a half years ago. Unless there is a ground swell of disapproval, a waiver for that will be granted by Congress.

Babak Makkinejad

TTG:

JCOPA is a multi-lateral cease-fire deal.

Trump cannot successfully renegotiate it, he can unilaterally and successfully wreck it, however.

But that would then consume his bandwidth and that of his administration so much so that he will not be able to make any thing great again.

In regards to trade deals: WTO is still there, but it is now moribund; partly due to India and like-minded countries that cannot compete against US high-tech agriculture. I think it is better to work through WTO than outside of it, personally. He could do something there.

elaine

TTG, I'm also puzzled about the contradictions not only on foreign policy but
on domestic as well, i.e. Trump claimed he wanted to keep Medicare, Medicaid, etc
so he appoints Dr. Tom Price to run HHS; Price has long advocated for a total
privatization of these programs imo. It looks like Price just wants to give out tax credits to lots of old folks many of whom don't have much tax liability.

I wonder if Mike Pence is out-playing the Trumpster. It's starting to look that way
to me.

ked

The POTUS will unleash a twitter storm. He will blow hard on phone calls. The appointed Consuls (Cabinet) will jockey for attention through the ProConsuls (WH Staff) close to him. All will conspire to gain power (wealth, both personal & bureaucratic) and influence policy with ideology-rich narratives that guide him from reality - and reality from him. So far, no damage done. However, there's a high degree of unpredictability built into this style of governance in the event reality cannot be so easily gamed.
As for RCEP, I expect we will see Trump Towers at the many service islands along this new silk road. Small price to pay for global stability.

Tom

One has to take Engdahls writings with a grain of salt. I see the following problems that might come to the fore to stamie the whole project:
!. There is tremendous distrust between China and Russia. Europe is much the preferred partner for Russia. The only reason why the two giants are so close now is because of the sanctions over Ukraine. As soon as the tension there eases there will be renewed great power competition
2. Central Asia. All the Stans are unstable and badly governed. The Chinese are propping up local elites and these in turn open up their countries to Chinese immigration and investment. The population hates the Chinese in all of Central Asia and this is bound to get worse. When (and not if) the present regimes get overthrown there will be a tremendous backlash.
3. Connected to that is the fact that Chinese investment in Central Asia is huge. Pieplines, railways, motorways. Especially the gas pipelines have become critically important for China. If there is a loss of governmental control one can fully expect to see attacks on these pipelines. Then China will have no choice but to move in militarilly.
One has to have been in the Stans to understand the extent of Chinese insensitivity.
I for one don´t believe in Engdahls vision of the future.

turcopolier

TTG & J

Yes, they do that kind of waiver a lot. Hell, they waived the law for me to retire into my civilian job the day I retired from the army. pl

LeaNder

... cannot compete against US high-tech agriculture

I am no doubt repeating myself here. But what you may have in mind is German "high-tech agriculture" by now.

I was paying attention since among the chemists at Bayer in Leverkusen, there was on Phd I deeply detested. I had to share a room with him. Partly but not only, since he considered Monsanto's approach as "cash cow" somewhat irresistible. ... As I suggested before he was one of the lower layers of his rank at the time we met. But, he may have made it to the top. If there is nothing more hidden behind the take-over, I suppose hyper financed by banks.

turcopolier

All

IMO Trump is altogether a deal making pragmatist and like every entrepreneurial businessman is risk averse. IMO he will see no advantage in alienating countries or blocs of countries from a sense of wounded hubristic self-love. His style in approaching a negotiation is to attempt to put the adversary "on the back foot" as the Brits say. Having done that over; Taiwan, the sand bar islands in the South China Sea, Duterte as a possibly valued potential ally of China he will be satisfied as negotiations begin. Having shaken up the opponent he will then get down to face to face bargaining and seduction. In general IMO you will find that what he was talking about before the negotiation begins is not what he really seeks to gain. pl

shepherd

Col. Lang,

Coming from the business side, I agree with you.

I just wonder if the business approach is the best one in this case. I know nothing of diplomacy, but in business negotiation, if someone behaves as Trump does, with wild demands, the proper counter is to say, “no,” and not offer an alternative. It’s psychologically and sometimes financially tough to do, but it reverses the situation. Trump obviously knows this, but he’s trying to shake the tree a little. It seems like the Mexicans may have taken the bait, the Iranians not so much. With the latter, it’s next move, Trump.

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

The One Belt One Road project is a natural for Eurasia. American policy dorks who see everything that doesn't have its origins in DC think-tanks as a threat and try to reflexively monkeywrench it. There's no reason why the US cannot benefit from the situation. Maybe if we made things people want to buy instead of ripoff 'financial products', we'd be invited to take a leading spot at the table.

I think Trump put the wind up the Chinese by talking to the Taiwanese mainly to serve notice that he knows how to push their buttons. They're nothing if not predictable.

ex-PFC Chuck

Paul Craig Roberts, in a post on his blog three days ago, suggests it's premature to be attacking Trump on the basis of the past performances and affiliations of his appointees. He writes from his experience as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during the Reagan Administration.
In making his case he offers some thought-provoking comments, for example this: "Not every billionaire is an oligarch. Trump’s relation to the financial sector is one as a debtor. No doubt Trump and the banks have had unsatisfactory relationships. And Trump says he is a person who enjoys revenge."
And this: "Keep in mind also that there are two kinds of insiders. Some represent the agendas of special interests; others go with the flow because they enjoy participating in the affairs of the nation. Those who don’t go with the flow are eliminated from participating."
And this: "The problem with beating up on an administration before it exists and has a record is that the result can be that the administration becomes deaf to all criticism. It is much better to give the new president a chance and to hold his feet to the fire on the main issues. "
http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/12/02/trumps-appointments-paul-craig-roberts/


turcopolier

shepherd

I have been a diplomat involved in negotiations and I have been a deal maker in international business and IMO the difference between the two processes exists in the collective mind of the Borg who are terrified of having it demonstrated that there is nothing special about what they do. pl

Phodges

Engdahl is cogent commentator on Geopolitics. He is looking at the long game ala Mackinder/Mahan/Haushafer/Brzinski.

The Empire through it's aggression has pushed Russia and China together. The Oligarchs also realise that they can beat neither power in direct fight right now...hell they have are afraid to attack Iran.

I think Trump will take a step back. He will try to pull Russia and China apart while taking some time to catch up militarily amd economically. Then it will game on for global hegemony again.

The alternative utopian view is that we will once again have some sort of multi-polar global power structure.

David Habakkuk

Tom,

You write:

‘There is tremendous distrust between China and Russia. Europe is much the preferred partner for Russia. The only reason why the two giants are so close now is because of the sanctions over Ukraine. As soon as the tension there eases there will be renewed great power competition.’

I think you are living in the past. (Like Neville Chamberlain, in his day!)

A figure of some moment in Russian debates on foreign and security policy is Sergei Karaganov, who actually takes great pride in being a principal intellectual architect of the ‘Eastern pivot’ in Russian policy – I presume you know his work, but if you do not, a quick Google search should fill you in on his ‘CV’.

Conveniently, a large body of Karaganov’s writing is available in English translation on his website.

Of interest is a recent article, entitled ‘From East to West, or Greater Eurasia’. The reference to victory having ‘a thousand fathers’, but defeat being ‘an orphan’ is worth thinking about. Behind it is the fact that Karaganov was one of the ‘new thinkers’ who embraced a romanticised idea of ‘the West’ – and got, richly and royally, ‘kicked in the teeth’.

Such people were indeed ‘daydreaming’that ‘the West would come and rescue us’.

The quotation needs to be read in context:

‘Distinguished officials attending the Eastern Economic Forum recently held in Vladivostok argued at one of its sessions about who was actually the author of the idea of Russia’s pivot to the East. I am glad they did, because I have long been advocating Russia’s economic push towards the growing Asian markets. The discussion became yet another proof that the pivot not only took place but was actually gaining momentum; at least in the minds of the Russian elite. Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan. It will take some time before similar changes take place in the minds of other Russians whose mentality got stuck somewhere in Soviet times, when Asia was generally perceived as something dirty and backward and China was viewed as nothing short of a real threat, or maybe in the 1990s, when we were daydreaming about that the West would come and rescue us and not only nearly ruined our own country but also missed the rise of the East.

(See http://karaganov.ru/en/publications/414 .)

As to attitudes towards Europe – and the West in general – if Karaganov is not totally delusional, the disillusion is far more pervasive, and has far deeper roots, than you are suggesting.

Of interest here is an article Karaganov published last April, entitled ‘New Ideological Struggle?’ This is essentially an account of the immense moral ascendancy the ‘Pax Americana’ enjoyed among very many educated Russians – Karaganov himself quite clearly being a case in point – at the end of the Cold War, and how it was squandered.

Another paragraph I find interesting:

‘The continued drift from Christianity and Christian values in Europe accelerated markedly over the past twenty-five years and was codified when the European Union did not mention its Christian roots in the draft EU Constitution that was never adopted and in the Lisbon Treaty, which replaced it. It only left pragmatism, consumerism, democracy, human rights, and law. Essentially, these values are quite attractive but may provoke a degradation of both humans and their values if detached from man’s customary service to some higher purpose. When the Soviet Union was criticized for godless and amoral communism, it was offending but essentially true, and many people in the country knew it. The communist practice rejected traditional moral values. Now ironically it is the other way round: Can one trust those who espouse godless democratism and liberalism? Dostoevsky’s best-known question put in the assertion of Ivan Karamazov, “If there is no God, everything is permitted” still sounds relevant.’

(See http://karaganov.ru/en/publications/395 .)

It is also, I think, of interest to look at how thinking has been evolving among key military figures. A good place to start would seem to be the Chief of the Russian General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov.

His ideas are discussed in an interesting analysis entitled ‘Getting Gerasimov Right’ by Charles K. Bartles of the – invaluable – Foreign Military Studies Office, which appeared in the January-February issue of ‘Military Review’. In February 2013, Gerasimov published an article under the title “The Value of Science Is in the Foresight: New Challenges Demand Rethinking the Forms and Methods of Carrying out Combat Operations”. Discussing it, Bartles wrote:

‘His article and Russia’s 2014 Military Doctrine make apparent that he perceives the primary threats to Russian sovereignty as stemming from U.S.-funded social and political movements such as color revolutions, the Arab Spring, and the Maidan movement. He also sees threats in the U.S. development of hypersonic weapons and the anti-ballistic missile and Prompt Global Strike programs, which he believes could degrade Russian strategic deterrence capabilities and disturb the current strategic balance.’

Also of interest is a piece which Anthony H. Cordesman posted, after he had attended the Russian Ministry of Defense’s third Moscow Conference on International Security on May 23, 2014. It was entitled ‘Russia and the “Color Revolution”: A Russian Military View of a World Destabilized by the US and the West.’ Among the presentations discussed – and Cordesman featured slides in English from it – was one by Gerasimov.

(See https://www.csis.org/analysis/russia-and-%E2%80%9Ccolor-revolution%E2%80%9D .)

An extract from Cordesman’s summary:

‘Russian military officers now tied the term “Color Revolution” to the crisis in Ukraine and to what they saw as a new US and European approach to warfare that focuses on creating destabilizing revolutions in other states as a means of serving their security interests at low cost and with minimal casualties. It was seen as posing a potential threat to Russian in the near abroad, to China and Asia states not aligned with the US, and as a means of destabilizing states in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, and South Asia.’

So, in essence, the United States is portrayed as a quasi-Bolshevik force for anarchic destabilisation, with the Western Europeans fully complicit, and China as much under threat as Russia.

In my view, this is patently not propaganda. It is what not simply people like Gerasimov, but also people like Karaganov and also Lavrov – who also gave a presentation at the conference Cordesman attended – think. And I strongly suspect it is what a great many in the Chinese leadership think.

Moreover, if one listens to what Russian security intellectuals are saying – rather than retreating into a kind of autism – it also becomes possible to understand the very palpable element of ‘culture shock’ one finds in Karaganov and people like him.

To make any sense of the retreat and collapse of Soviet power, one has to understand the immense disillusion with ‘revolutionary’ thinking among, as it were, the grandchildren of the revolutionaries (Putin being a rather obvious case in point.)

The spectacle of an apparently different, but in fundamental ways very similar, kind of revolutionary thinking taking over in the United States and Western Europe has, quite clearly, been immensely confusing and disorientating to many of these people.

It seems to me likely that this was one of the reasons why slides, in English, were presented for Cordesman to photograph.

The hidden message was: Bolshevism failed. Don’t you get it?

Cee

TGG,

Supporters of ISIS want Trump to stay on a war footing so that nothing changes for the better.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/739508/ISIS-declare-Bloody-Friday-war-on-Trump-inauguration-day

shepherd

Col Lang,

If it's all the same, then the Chinese and the Iranians are playing well. Trump has created a high ceiling, and called a lot of BS, which is useful, though carries its own risks. His next move will be interesting.

The Carrier deal is instructive here. That's definitely a glass half full deal. He went in demanding to save all the jobs, and in the end, he got half. If that's what he's looking to accomplish, he may well accomplish a lot.

Fred

Col.,

"...the difference between the two processes exists in the collective mind of the Borg who are terrified of having it demonstrated that there is nothing special about what they do."

The irreplaceable are about to discover they can be replaced.

Origin

Phodges wrote, "I think Trump will take a step back. He will try to pull Russia and China apart while taking some time to catch up militarily amd economically. Then it will game on for global hegemony again."

Guessing what Trump will do is merely speculation and conjecture and mostly an unproductive exercise by the person guessing as they hope Trump will make good decisions pleasing to the guesser.

To date, most of what we know about Trump is what he has boasted in his campaign and in his Tweets. Careful examination of those utterances do not give any of us much substantial information about what Trump is going to do except that he promises to be unpredictable.

From the very small amount of information we have so far after the election is that Trump seems to be unable to be able to focus long on much of anything and that Trump or someone posing as Trump is spending time complaining about SNL skits. Otherwise, Trump himself has given us little real information beyond his cabinet nominations of what he plans to do.

http://theweek.com/speedreads/647527/how-long-donald-trumps-attention-span

It seems to me that the declarations of his "surrogates" are mostly useless guesses expressing the hopes held by the surrogates themselves.

Perhaps a proper question is whether Trump's advisors will figure out how to manipulate him for their own purposes and go about their own empire building according to their own desires. Have the advisors now learned that they can act on their own for their own purposes while they send the attention craving Trump on victory tours to curry advantage from his lack of interest in policy.

Or, perhaps, Trump's long line of interviews with some quite interesting persons such as Obama and Gore is the way the possibly ADD Trump learns by listening. My experience with ADD people is that while they may find it hard to read, they can often come to some surprisingly creative solutions by polling around in conversations as their fact gathering style. Trump's business success is some evidence he can sop up good information and make creative decisions. The Colonel's observation that Trump is altogether a deal making pragmatist and like every entrepreneurial businessman is risk averse seems accurate.

Let's just hope he listens and learns from he better angels rather than the evil ones.

We will just have to wait and see.


ked

a) I'm not convinced an ex-Asst Sec of Treasury from the Reagan era is dependable in making that assessment of this POTUS - beyond as a hopeful message to the mainstream GOP to "give the guy a break, he'll learn."
b) We've got a 70 yr old POTUS who has never held public office. Past may not be prologue, but he didn't just land on the planet either. I think revelation has begun during his Pres-elect phase.
c) Trump seems thin-skinned, independent of wealth or debt. He doesn't let go of tiny affronts (like SNL needling him). When he isn't asleep in the early AM, what does his mind turn-to, & what actions does he take. Can anything be inferred from idiosyncratic pattern & content of his musings? Should we ignore how process drives policy with this POTUS?
d) I think there are more kinds of insiders than two, but accepting his model, I view two different; 1) those in close proximity to him (family, loyalists & trusted staff in the WH), & 2) everyone else, (functionaries at best) in the Exec Br. & beyond.

Trump is clearly not deaf to criticism... he dotes on it. He might even over-react to it. It will be a significant job to keep him on whatever roads he takes us on.

turcopolier

shepherd

You don't actually know that he is through with UTC and its Carrier division. There may be more wonderfulness in store for them. Imagine the consternation in Mexico where they just lost 1100 jobs. IMO his trade and re-industrialization program is likely to be 1- jawboning as in Carrier 2 - protective tariffs of some sort 3 - a reduced corporate tax structure. pl

Dr. Puck

Add in some supply-side, some tax credit-based infrastructure corporate welfare, and, repatriation of offshore cash. I suppose WWC in rust belt will still be moaning. I don't think this gets the job done.

(It makes no sense to invest in inventory before demand arrives. While you wait, the casino remains a glittering palace.)

Kooshy

During the first term of B. Clinton, Russia and China really believed in th BS of global village, WTO, free trade and thought if they play ball with west they would get integrated in to west specially on trade and security, it took them a decade to realize that is not so, Russia got it in a hard way since nice she is closer to Europe and borders NATO, they realized the scam right after the Georgia event and didn't make an stratigic change till after Ukraine. All along Russians were hopeful that they become a stratgic alley of NATO and trade with west. That was a fools dream. IMO I don't think after Ukraine, Georgia and Syria Russia will fall on the BS as easy and without tangible security guarantees.

VietnamVet

TTG

Of the Western political leaders, all will be gone by the beginning of next year except perhaps for Angela Merkle:
https://twitter.com/williamjordann/status/805557012272660480?wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

This is the direct response of the West’s failure to jail its criminal financiers, austerity and fighting wars in Ukraine and Syria with neo-Nazi and Islamist proxy forces. The wars forced Iran, China and Russia into an alliance to survive the western onslaught. The outsourcing of jobs and the flood of refugees are forcing citizens to realize that free movement of capital, services, goods and people is very much not in their best interest. But, indeed, the globalists are supremely efficient at gutting the middle class and making the rich obscenely wealthy.

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