“Pass Me By” – TTG


I've got me ten fine toes to wiggle in the sand.

Lots of idle fingers snap to my command.

A lively pair of heels that kick to beat the band.

Contemplatin' nature can be fascinatin'.

Add to these a nose that I can thumb,

And a mouth by gum have I,

To tell the whole darn world if you don't happen to like it deal me out,

Thank you kindly Pass Me By

       From "Pass Me By," the opening song from "Father Goose"


“Everywhere we go today across Eurasia, from the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea to Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and on to China, there is a process underway for the first time since the original Silk Road era of more than two thousand years ago, of building up an entire new economic space, the Eurasian Heartland. Were the Turkish government to join the OBOR [One Belt, One Road] project wholeheartedly, the potentials for a Eurasian transformation would become enormous. It remains to be seen what a USA with a Trump presidency will do or not do to try to destroy this beautiful Eurasian build up. If he is as wise as his sound bites make him sound, he will recognize that this kind of development is the only true future for his United States other than bankruptcy, economic depression and wars of destruction. If not, more and more much of the rest of the world seems determined to go it without the “Sole Superpower.” “


This is the last paragraph of an essay by F. William Engdahl entitled “The Iran-Russia-China Strategic Triangle” in the “New Eastern Outlook” electronic journal. In the author’s bio, he doesn’t say what the F. means. I bet a lot of Neocons say it stands for a synonym for copulating. Old F. William lays how these three countries are steadily moving towards an integrated Eurasian market, not an EU-like single market, but something beneficial to the economies of all sovereign members. The entire essay is worth a read.

Beyond the “One Belt, One Road” that China envisions for the Eurasian land mass, China is pushing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as an alternative to the withering and near dead Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

On the military side, there is the growing relationship between Russia and Iran. Both countries are joined by the R+6 fight against the IS and their assorted jihadi allies. Both countries face the persistent threat of the Wanhabi inspired jihadists. In addition to the S-300PMU-2 air defense systems, Russia is negotiating with Iran to build T-90S tanks and SU-30SM fighters in Iran. Such a deal would draw these two countries very close together indeed.

How will the new Trump administration react to all this? Perhaps he will negotiate bilateral trade agreements so the U.S. will not be shut out of a future RCEP free trade bloc. That might not be a bad approach. The sooner we realize we are not the center of the universe or the indispensable nation, the better. As far as I’m concerned, we would be better off with the attitude expressed in “Pass Me By” from the Cary Grant movie “Father Goose” than than any further pursuit of the Neocon dream. Even Cary Grant rose to the occasion when required.

But I am most concerned about what Trump will do about an Iran that is increasingly integrated into the Eurasian and Asian spheres. Trump and the Republicans are death on the JCPOA deal with Iran. Trump probably because he believes he can do better. The Republicans because the JCPOA is part of the Obama legacy. Flynn, Mattis and many others consider Iran to be the font of all evil in the world and seek to vanquish this dire threat to all things good and American. How does all this square with Trump’s desire to seek rapprochement with Russia? Will he let the events in the far corners of the world pass him by? Tis a puzzlement.


The Iran-Russia-China Strategic Triangle

APEC Leaders May Be Looking to China After Donald Trump's Win

Beijing's New Silk Road to Europe

US Congress losing mind over Russian Arms Sales to Iran

Will Iran Buy Russian Fighter Jets?

Father Goose

This entry was posted in Borg Wars, China, Iran, Russia, TTG. Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to “Pass Me By” – TTG

  1. kooshy says:

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

  2. J says:

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

  3. 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.

  4. Babak Makkinejad says:

    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.

  5. elaine says:

    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.

  6. ked says:

    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.

  7. Tom says:

    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.

  8. turcopolier says:

    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

  9. LeaNder says:

    … 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.

  10. turcopolier says:

    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

  11. shepherd says:

    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.

  12. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    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.

  13. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    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. ”

  14. turcopolier says:

    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

  15. Phodges says:

    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.

  16. 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?

  17. Cee says:

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

  18. shepherd says:

    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.

  19. Fred says:

    “…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.

  20. Origin says:

    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.
    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.

  21. ked says:

    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.

  22. turcopolier says:

    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

  23. Dr. Puck says:

    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.)

  24. Kooshy says:

    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.

  25. VietnamVet says:

    Of the Western political leaders, all will be gone by the beginning of next year except perhaps for Angela Merkle:
    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.

  26. Macgupta123 says:

    An argument about the importance of the intelligence briefings:
    “The risks of neglecting the intelligence aspect of preparation for the presidency are grave. History shows numerous examples of failed crisis management during presidential transitions.”

  27. BraveNewWorld says:

    “that cannot compete against US high-tech agriculture.”
    What they can’t compete against is the absolutely massive subsidies paid to American farmers by the govt. When the US balances it’s budget a discussion about how competitive the US really is can finally happen.

  28. robt willmann says:

    J, TTG, pl,
    For Gen. James Mattis (ret.) to be confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of Defense, it looks as if a new law will have to be passed by Congress from scratch. Title 10, United States Code, sections 113(a) and (b) say–
    “Section 113. Secretary of Defense
    (a) There is a Secretary of Defense, who is the head of the Department of Defense, appointed from civilian life by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. A person may not be appointed as Secretary of Defense within seven years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force.
    (b) The Secretary is the principal assistant to the President in all matters relating to the Department of Defense. Subject to the direction of the President and to this title and section 2 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3002) he has authority, direction, and control over the Department of Defense.”
    The change from a 10 year gap to 7 was made during the George W. Bush (jr) administration, in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, in section 903 of Public Law 110-181, signed on January 28, 2008–
    “Sec. 903. Change in Eligibility Requirements for Appointment to Department of Defense Leadership Positions.
    (a) Secretary of Defense.—Section 113(a) of title 10, United States Code, is amended by striking ’10’ and inserting ‘seven’. (b) Deputy Secretary of Defense.—Section 132(a) of such title is amended by striking ‘ten’ and inserting ‘seven’. (c) Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.—Section 134(a) of such title is amended by striking ’10’ and inserting ‘seven’.”
    Since a new law will have to be passed and it will not be a vote on the nomination itself, the change in the Senate filibuster rule that allows a simple majority vote to confirm presidential appointees except for the U.S. Supreme Court will not apply. That should mean that to pass a law creating an exception for Mattis, the Senate vote on the “waiver” might have to beat a filibuster, which in turn could require 60 votes to block a filibuster through a vote on “cloture” and get the nomination brought up for a vote on the confirmation–
    Here is a 15-page article from the Congressional Research Service entitled “Senate Consideration of Presidential Nominations: Committee and Floor Procedure”. Pdf pages 12-13 get down to brass tacks about getting the nomination placed for an actual up or down vote–
    The following useful article, by the same author, is “Majority Cloture for Nominations: Implications and the ‘Nuclear’ Proceedings”, written after the change in the filibuster procedure in the Senate–
    With these two articles cited above, you can get an understanding of the tricky process in the Senate involved in getting a presidential nomination confirmed or a law passed.

  29. BraveNewWorld says:

    As soon as you start slapping on protective tariffs the trade war is on. Maybe the US can win that, however you want to define winning, but it is one hell of a gamble. Your first problem is that American companies are going to fight it tooth and nail and the business side of the Republican party is going to do what business tells them to do. So your not going to start with a united front.
    In a massive trade war the multinationals will be the ones to get hurt the worst, those would be mostly American companies. Add to that, there is only one country that wants the US to win a trade war.
    But if that is what Americans want I encourage them to do it.

  30. APOL says:

    After Renzi’s defeat last night this article on conflictsforum seems to sum it up the Western mood perfectly.
    ( He comes to the defence of old whites as well!)

  31. robt willmann says:

    A clarification. I kind of lumped together the probable need to beat a filibuster to get a new law passed to allow Mattis to be eligible to be Secretary of Defense, and the confirmation vote itself. It looks to me at this time that the law to create a waiver will have to overcome the possibility of a filibuster in order to get passed in the Senate. With a Republican majority in the House and no filibuster rule there, it would easily pass the House. Trump would sign the special waiver bill into law. Then, the regular confirmation process in the Senate would proceed to try to confirm Mattis. As the articles indicate, there can still be ways for the nomination to be stalled or stopped in the Senate.
    Trump obviously is trying to grease the skids to get his appointments and proposals through the Senate by having appointed Elaine Chao to be the Secretary of Transportation. She is the wife of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell (Repub. Kentucky), who is majority leader because the Republicans have a majority in the Senate. Elaine Chao was the Secretary of Labor when Bush jr was president.

  32. LeaNder says:

    global hegemony=realistic
    multi-polar global power structure=utopian

  33. Pundita says:

    As to what I think Trump should do about Russia’s budding relationships with China and Iran — look busy.
    From my readings during the past 2+ years on water scarcity and related issues, I’d say that China and Iran are dying.
    Half of Iran is now desert. And just last month Iran’s government publicly conceded what was already known to water scientists, which is that more than 90 percent of the country’s water reserves have been depleted. (1)
    China has 20 percent of the world’s population but only 7 percent of the fresh water. China’s officials will admit to 400 cities that now face a water shortage and 110 that have a severe water shortage. So the true numbers are probably much higher. Recently a city of 200,000 in Gansu Province ran completely out of water.(2)
    And desertification is on the march in China, which is now 20 percent desert. The huge urbanization schemes emptied the countrysides of people, leaving the land to the desert. Too late Beijing realized what was happening and then transferred many city dwellers back to the country to battle the desert.(3)
    Bottom line: There aren’t enough people in China to both support its export-centered industrial base and fight the onslaught of desertification. But even if the government could return enough people from the cities to the rural areas the returnees would quickly drain the dwindling water resources.
    IMO the worst of the catastrophe is that it’s the cities themselves that have been killing China. It’s the vast infrastructures; building and maintaining them gulps many times the water than the city inhabitants require.
    As to solutions — for various reasons no amount of dams and water reclamation, transfers, diversions and conservation, or desalination schemes, can work for any more than a few small regions, or the solutions create new sets of problems.
    It’s too late to save those countries. So what’s going to happen to them? What’s already been happening. In one word, “dispersal.” The governments have been quietly dispersing large numbers of their populations to other countries. In the case of Iran, the dispersals are to Iraq, and now Syria. They’ve also been dispersed in smaller numbers to other parts of the Middle East, including Lebanon.
    In the case of China, OBOR and thousands of Chinese development projects around the world transfer large numbers of Chinese to live and work in other countries. And Beijing sends large numbers of Chinese abroad to study.
    Internally, many Chinese have been dispersed to more remote regions of the Mainland, such as Tibet. They’ve also been smuggling Han Chinese who pose as Tibetan Buddhists into Ladakh, India. The situation got so out of control that finally the Indian Army stationed tanks along the border in Ladakh in the effort to keep the incursions down to a dull roar.
    The Chinese have been doing the same in Nepal and paying the basket-case government to look the other way. And Beijing has had its eyes on Siberia. (Moscow is aware of this.)
    All the above barely sketches the reasons that water-related catastrophes are overtaking China and Iran.
    But I’m less concerned about China and Iran and an emerging strategic triangle between those countries and Russia than I am that to my knowledge not a single person with a public platform anywhere in the world has asked, “Where is Trump getting the water to build a wall along the US-Mexico border?” (4, 5)
    Despite all the publicity given during the past two years to drought and water crises, the world’s water calendar still reads 1955. “World” to include US military.
    (1) http://ncr-iran.org/en/news/economy/21450-half-of-iran-has-turned-info-desert-official-acknowledges
    (2) http://www.marketplace.org/2016/04/21/world/warning-parched-china-city-runs-out-water
    (3) http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/chinas-deserts-taking-over-as-they-expand-into-vast-sea-of-sand/
    (4) http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/colorado-river-mexico-water-sharing-trump-231811
    (5) https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/industrial-expansion-will-strain-mexicos-water-resources

  34. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is what I keep on asking myself; why does US wish to contain China or Iran; both countries are going to so conveniently die out.

  35. Pundita says:

    Yes. But I suspect that the military has the year 2025 circled on the calendar as to when they’ll have to deal with the fallout from water crises. From a video I saw recently, the military is preparing for an apocalyptic world — sort of the Mad Max scenario, with complete lawlessness, as billions of desperate Climate Change refugees descend on cities that have water supplies left.
    As to why 2025, I think that was the year Global Warmists said the Apocalypse would descend if humanity didn’t get carbon emissions under control. Something like that.
    But it’s not happening the way anyone imagined. The most immediate threat crept up on humanity’s blind side. People were looking at the atmosphere, not at the groundwater beneath their feet because they couldn’t see it.
    Then one day about two years ago some scientists read the data from the amazing GRACE satellite system, which peers deep into the earth, and said (paraphrasing), ‘Oh. My. God.’
    Then they had to break the news to governments the world over that everyone had wildly overestimated the amount of groundwater left.
    Nobody’s really ready yet to face all the implications.

  36. CK says:

    “He will try to pull Russia and China apart…”
    He will try to find a way to work with both
    to the greater prosperity of all three.
    It will not be difficult to do.
    Why do the “realist” commentators here keep trying to pigeon-hole
    Trump into yesterday’s paradigms?

  37. Fred says:

    The foreign policy establishment is “the borg” not our host. Perhaps that is not clear in the academic version of English you are accustomed to using.

  38. Pundita says:

    I agree with you about a turn toward basic principles and spiritual theory. I also agree with the old Protestant saying, “Pray, but row away from the rocks.”
    Re the situation for the USA — due to the California drought, which woke up many Americans about water issues, the USA has a fighting chance to avoid China’s fate, if only because the USA is such a vast country with many climates.
    However, most Americans (I’d guess with the exception of Californians) are still a long way from developing what I’d call water consciousness or awareness; i.e., learning to ask “How much water does it cost?” in the way we ask how much money something costs.
    My immediate concern is that I’ve seen no evidence that the incoming Trump administration has this water awareness; I find that troubling because they are planning to bring a great deal of manufacturing back to the USA and launch huge development projects all over the United States.
    They don’t seem to be taking into account that during America’s manufacturing heyday in the 1950s the US human/livestock populations were much smaller, and most cities were a fraction of the size they are today.
    In short, water awareness is still not manifesting very much at the institutional levels. And yet the California drought taught that development must now be assessed first and foremost against water capacity. Not at the federal or for the most part state levels are these assessments being done in any more than a cursory manner — and sometimes not at all. Some US states still have no water management policies — none.
    So one can go down the list of countries with zero to awful water management and find parallels in the USA (and Europe).
    And many development plans in the US represent ‘pork’ projects — members of Congress lobbying for their state or district to receive business, but with no thought to how the increased water demands affect nearby regions. The rampant growth of Atlanta, Georgia is a textbook example.
    The good news is that scientists and engineers across many different disciplines are now making tremendous strides toward learning what good water management really entails. However, no amount of such management can alone save a country, even the USA, in an era when megacities are being built to house megapopulations. We have to start confronting the fact that urbanization needs to be reversed in many places.
    The only person in a national leadership position who clearly understood this decades ago was Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej. But nobody outside Thailand wanted to listen to him because everybody knew the future was big cities, not villages.
    I think many development specialists are now seeing that he was right, although it’s a little late in the day.
    But there’s a photograph of King Bhumibol I often recall. It was taken during the days when he was personally inspecting every village in Thailand, even the remotest. The task before him, to find a way to save his country from a communist insurgency, seemed impossible at the time.
    He’s walking through open countryside, his camera slung on a strap around his neck, a map clutched in his hand. He’s completely focused on the task of walking, carefully putting one foot in front of the other as he strides along.
    If you want to know exactly how he did the impossible, here is a present for you.
    He had only one eye — lost the other in a car accident. So talk about a metaphor. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man was indeed a king.

  39. Pundita,
    Appreciate your comments on the state of fresh water usage by modern societies and the links to the King Bhumibol documentary. That was fascinating. When our DOD talks about climate change being a major threat, I think they are including the shrinking of fresh water reserves as a major part of that threat. Clearly this goes beyond climate change. As you point out, our wanton misuse of our fresh water reserves could very well lead to our doom long before any other effects of climate change.

  40. Pundita says:

    I’m glad you found it interesting and were able to watch the documentary. And yes, this goes beyond climate change.

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