Archive for October, 2019

CELEBRATING THE WORLD HISTORIC IMPORTANCE OF OCEANS IN GEOPOLITICS

October 25, 2019

National Interest on October 20, 2019, published a highly interesting review of a new important book of the importance of oceans in the geopolitical sense. Excerpts below:

David Abulafia, The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), 912 pp., $39.95.

Of all the fields of human progress, none owes more to unintended consequences than global exploration. The great American naval historian and Columbus biographer, Samuel Eliot Morison, summed it up admirably when he wrote—half in earnest, half in jest—that:

America was discovered accidentally by a great seaman who was looking for something else; when discovered, it was not wanted; and most of the exploration for the next fifty years was done in the hope of getting through or around it. America was named after a man who discovered no part of the New World. History is like that, very chancy.

In The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans, Cambridge historian David Abulafia offers a majestic narrative of mankind’s incredible, sea-born drive toward global discovery and interconnection, a voyage beginning in prehistoric times and lasting all the way up to the twenty-first century. From the beginning, the very seas that separate us have also served as a liquid bridge, first between neighboring islands but ultimately between continents and hemispheres, as mankind mastered navigation and gradually discovered the Earth’s true size and shape.

…in the age of jet transport and space exploration, the seas are still the broadest thoroughfare for global commerce, and naval strength still plays a critical part in the international balance of power. In a globalized age, mastery of the seas is, if anything, more important than ever. America’s place as a superpower is more reliant than ever on its ability to keep seaways open and to use its naval power to deploy air and land forces wherever and whenever needed.

Alfred Thayer Mahan’s description of the role of the Royal Navy in stopping Napoleon from dominating the rest of Europe could be updated to describe the role of American naval power in helping to topple Hitler and then containing Soviet influence on the European continent and around the globe: “The world has never seen a more impressive demonstration of the influence of sea power upon its history. Those far distant, storm-beaten ships, upon which [Napoleon’s] Grand Army never looked, stood between it and the dominion of the world.”

As so often in the past, what happens at sea will determine what happens ashore. This is one of the underlying lessons that runs through Abulafia’s exhaustive survey. “In the making of connections between human societies, the role of the sea is particularly fascinating,” he writes in his preface.

Here Abulafia draws an important distinction between contacts made overland and those made by sea. “…[O]verland they were mediated by the cultures that lay along the routes being followed, whereas links across the sea could tie together very different worlds, as far apart as Portugal and Japan or Sweden and China.” In his justly acclaimed 2011 work, The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean, Abulafia concentrated on the rich history of a relatively small body of seawater and the regions it influenced during the rise and interaction of ancient civilizations and the emergence of Western civilization. For this reason, the Mediterranean is treated marginally in The Boundless Sea since the latter work is intended to serve as a companion volume, but with this important distinction:

Whereas the Mediterranean accounts for 0.8 per cent of the maritime surface of the globe, seas as a whole account for about 70 per cent of the world’s surface, and most of this watery space consists of the vast open areas we call oceans. From outer space, the Earth is mainly blue. The oceans have distinct but gigantic wind systems, generated by the movement of air over vast masses of both warm and cold water: one has only to think of the seasonal monsoons in the Indian Ocean. The Roaring Forties that would helpfully sweep sailing vessels from the Atlantic into the Indian Ocean were the same winds that made entry into the Pacific from the southern Atlantic, around Cape Horn, so frightening. Currents such as the Gulf Stream, which keeps the British Isles relatively warm, or the not dissimilar Kuroshio or Japan current, stretch across thousands of miles.

DONALD TRUMP JR ON HOW THE LEFT THRIVES ON HATE IN A NEW BOOK

October 24, 2019

Washington Examiner on July 22, 2019, reported on a forthcoming book by Donald Trump Jr that will expose tricks by the left to smear political opponents. Excerpts below:

The president’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr. is releasing a book in November that denounces political correctness.

“Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us” is set to be released November 5, a year before Election Day.

The book, published by Center Street, will range over reminiscences from childhood summers in Communist Czechoslovakia that began his political thought process, to working on construction sites with his father, to the major achievements of President Trump’s administration.

Comment: Trump Jr will promote the new book at a first stop in the state of Alabama Books-A-Million on November 7, 2019 at 7:00 PM local time.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NEWT GINGRICH: REVIVE THE EXIM BANK

October 23, 2019

Fox News on October 22, 2019 reported that House Speaker Newt Gingrich in his new book on China vs Trump recommends strengthening the EXIM Bank. Excerpts below:

In the age of Huawei, the Belt and Road Initiative, and China’s state-sponsored companies, we need the United States Export-Import Bank more than ever.

The EXIM Bank, an independent agency, provides government-backed financing for those looking to export goods and services from the United States. Since the 1930s, it has helped grow the U.S. economy and foil unfairly aggressive foreign competitors. However, due mostly to recent politics, it hasn’t been fully functioning since 2014. This needs to change — for many reasons.

First, according to Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, the country’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is absolutely a part of its military plans. This comes after years of the Chinese Communist Party insisting the worldwide infrastructure scheme is only focused on economics and international cooperation. Wei plainly said future Chinese military cooperation would fit “within the framework of BRI.”

This is a big deal. According to Ex-Im Bank reports, the BRI system includes about 30 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and impacts more than 66 percent of the world’s population. China’s Export-Import Bank alone has participated in more than 1,800 projects with a loan value in excess of $149 billion. If China links the economic might of the BRI with its military (the Communist Party-controlled People’s Liberation Army boasts 2 million troops) U.S. national security would be seriously threatened.

As I discuss in my upcoming book, “Trump vs China: Facing America’s Greatest Threat,” one way that the Chinese Communist Party imposes its will through the BRI is through so-called “debt-trap diplomacy.” It is a clear strategy to gain leverage and influence over countries that owe China for massive infrastructure loans.

This is how it works: China offers large loans to smaller, poorer countries in exchange for the country’s bolstering of Beijing’s strategic interests. Then, China takes control of the assets built with the money — ports, airfields, etc. — when the smaller countries can’t cover the debt.

…China uses its export credit agencies (ECAs) as a strategic arm for its “debt-trap diplomacy” — and the U.S. is not maintaining pace to counter the Chinese Communist Party’s influence. In 2018, China’s official ECAs outpaced the Ex-Im Bank by more than 100 fold (in terms of the amount of medium- to long-term credit it extended).

President Trump’s National Security Strategy rightly identifies economic security as national security. Clearly, the Chinese Communist Party is eroding U.S. economic influence abroad. The Ex-Im is one of our best tools to prevent this and keep America strong.

Congress should reauthorize the Ex-Im bank, so we can compete against the Chinese Communist Party’s economic strategy of world domination.

Without EXIM, there is no practical, clear way to compete against the ever-expanding Chinese economic-military machine. If we do nothing, the Chinese Communist Party’s power will grow, our economic and national security interests will diminish, and our very way of life could be consumed by a totalitarian system.

This is not an acceptable outcome if the U.S. wish to remain the strongest, freest, most prosperous country on the planet.

FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH’S NEW BOOK ”TRUMP VS. CHINA: FACING AMERICA’S GREATEST THREAT”

October 22, 2019

Fox News on October 21, 2019, published an article by Speaker Newt Gingrich on his new book ”Trump vs. China” (available in Sweden from Bokus at 229 SEK). Excerpts below:

For many decades, Americans thought communist-ruled China would evolve into a free and open system similar to our own. We were completely wrong.

In truth, Xi Jinping became the general secretary of the People’s Republic of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission in November 2012. He became the president of the People’s Republic of China in March 2013.

During Xi’s tenure, there has been a significant increase in censorship and mass surveillance, a significant deterioration in human rights, and the removal of term limits for the Chinese presidency.

The massive prison camps for Uighur Muslims and other non-Han Chinese minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang were also instituted under Xi…more than 1 million people have been detained in these state-created “re-education camps” in China – yet the world still regards Xi as a legitimate world leader.

China under Xi is also developing an ultra-high-tech police state, wherein powerful cameras and facial recognition artificial intelligence [is used]…

If the United States does not wake up and realize that communist-ruled China is not a friendly neighbor – it may be too late to stop the most powerful totalitarian regime of our time.

Comment: The process of decoupling American and Chinese economies has already started. One can only hope that a trading organization like the European Union will discover the risks of trading with China.

FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: STOP CHINA GLOBAL DIGITAL HEGEMONY

October 21, 2019

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is warning about the extraordinarily high stakes associated with the 5G competition. Below excerpts from a report he sent to Members of Congress on May 6, 2019:

5G: AMERICA AT THE TIPPING POINT A REPORT TO HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS

From Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich May 6, 2019.

OVERVIEW

The selection and allocation of specific bands of spectrum is the key to American victory in the race to 5G wireless capability. The United States is losing the 5G competition to China because we are allocating the wrong spectrum and using the wrong model.

1) Coordinating and implementing an aggressive 5G strategy capable of overmatching the Chinese-Huawei effort will require a strong, clear Presidential Executive Order to bring all of government into one operational plan.

2) The specific bands of spectrum being allocated in the United States are critical to American success in the 5G competition. The U.S. Government’s decision of which bands to allocate will determine whether America can produce alternatives to Chinese equipment to sell around the world and whether the networks that U.S. carriers are building domestically have any long-term value.

3) The spectrum currently being made available in the United States is not the same as the spectrum that other countries are making available. This will leave the United States technologically isolated. Since American networks will be built with different equipment than the rest of the world will use and need to buy, other countries may be forced to install Chinese equipment by default as a result of the economies of scale.

4) The spectrum being made available in the United States (millimeter wavelength) covers only short distances, and thus is poorly suited to cover rural America. This means huge swaths of the country will never get 5G coverage and will lose major opportunities as a consequence of the government’s poor choice of spectrum allocation.

5) The spectrum that other countries are making available, sub-6 GHz, is owned in the United States by the Department of Defense (DoD). If made available, this spectrum will cover large distances and will result in the production 2 of equipment capable of competing with Chinese alternatives. The DoD could easily make this spectrum available and solve all of the above problems.

6) The proposed policy is for the DoD to make this spectrum available to the private sector – not for the government – to build a network or spend money on implementation. There are two primary bands in question that are controlled by the DoD – the 3.1-3.55 GHz band and the 4.4-4.9 GHz band. The Department of Commerce is investigating what the 3.1-3.55 band is being used for but has only studied a minimal amount of the band. The 3.1-3.55 band in particular is a good candidate for being made available for commercial use.

7) The first key step is for an immediate request for information (RFI) from interested parties so the available range of options and participants can be brought to light and evaluated. This should be followed rapidly by a request for proposals (RFP) once the information and options have been assessed.

On Friday, May 3, the National Spectrum Consortium issued a “Call for Technical Concepts” relating to, among other things, “Dynamic Spectrum Sharing” in the 5G context. This could prove to be an extremely important development.

The Consortium was originally established by the DoD to “incubate new technologies to revolutionize the way in which spectrum is utilized,” so this CTC, which is equivalent to an RFI, is very timely. If the Consortium receives suitable responses and moves quickly toward a procurement following the CTC, it could provide the vehicle the Executive Branch needs to share the DoD’s sub-6GHz spectrum with a private 5G rollout nationally in the short term.

POLAND WILL PAY FOR DEPLOYMENT OF MORE U.S. MILITARY PERSONNEL

October 20, 2019

Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty on September 23, 2019 reported that the United States will deploy more troops to Poland. Excerpts below:

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a cooperation agreement with his Polish counterpart that foresees an expansion of the United States’ military presence in Poland.

The Joint Declaration on Advancing Defense Cooperation was signed by Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 23.

The present U.S. military capabilities in Poland, currently at some 4,500 rotational military personnel, “is expected to grow by approximately 1,000 additional United States military personnel in the near term,” the document says.

Trump said the extra U.S. military personnel would “most likely” be transferred from other European bases, and that Poland will bear “the entire expense” of new facilities for the troops.

Comment: Georgette Mosbacher, US ambassador to Poland, has commented on Germany’s unwillingness to commit more to German defense:

“Poland meets its 2% of GDP spending obligation toward NATO. Germany does not. We would welcome American troops in Germany to come to Poland,” she has written .

Germany should reconsider its policy of military unpreparedness. It is a wealthy, industrial country and can easily provide the means to raise the lever of defense expenditure to 2 % of GDP.

WHEN SUPPORTING HONGKONG PROTESTERS, ON NOVEMBER 9, 2019 REMEMBER THE LESSONS OF BERLIN 30 YEARS AGO

October 19, 2019

The Washington Times on October 17, 2019, published an article on the the lessons of Berlin being remembered when supporting Hongkong in 2019. Excerpts below:

Construction of the Berlin Wall began at the height of the Cold War in 1961. The wall was a physical and ideological divide between East and West,…

During his 1987 speech at the Brandenburg Gate, President Reagan eloquently issued a clarion call for freedom, declaring that “the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.”

Reagan then famously declared: “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

The Brandenburg Gate was opened just 21/2 years after Reagan’s powerful speech. The Wall, once almost 90 miles long, was fully demolished by 1992.
The West did not bring down the Berlin Wall kinetically. The ideas of liberty, freedom, and democracy exposed the hypocrisy of the corrupt Soviet regime and its satellites, which trampled on human rights at home and abroad. Soft power, not hard steel, tore down the wall.

Almost 30 years later, people from Beijing to Moscow, from Tehran to Pyongyang, are still denied basic human rights. The Berlin Wall has been gone longer than it stood. But is it really gone?

KGB operative-in-the-Kremlin Vladimir Putin once called the collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century. Mr. Putin once served in East Germany and understands that democracy is an existential threat to dictatorships

China is trying to create a Soviet Big Brother-style “Great Firewall” to deny its own citizens freedom of expression and access to the truth.

Democracy protests in Hong Kong have been ongoing since March. On August 23, over 200,000 city residents formed a human chain over 30 miles long to demand their rights.

Hong Kongers chose that date with a keen sense of history. August 23 is the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the infamous 1939 neutrality treaty which secretly divided Poland, the Baltic nations and Romania between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

In 1983, President Reagan famously called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” News of his speech spread behind the Iron Curtain and demonstrated U.S. resolve to Soviet citizens who derived inspiration from the U.S. as a beacon of democracy.

As we remember the legacy of the Berlin Wall, we should renew our commitment to standing in solidarity with those who are denied the freedoms we enjoy.

CHINA FACES ECONOMIC COLLAPSE AND DECOUPLING

October 18, 2019

Epoch Times on August 29, 2019, reported on the Trump administration’s tariffs on 550 billion dollar worth of Chinese goods. Excerpts below:

China expert Frank Xie believes that when the trade war has escalated to that level, it will bring devastating consequences to China’s economy, while not having a major impact on the United States.

In an interview…Xie, an associate professor at the University of South Carolina’s School of Business Administration, said that when this latest tariff increase is imposed, the United States and China will become completely decoupled economically.

“The Chinese communist regime has been trying to drag [the trade talks] out to give itself more time, and the Trump administration is fully aware of that. In addition, Beijing has broken its promises several times.

The European Union is expected to demand the same terms from China as the United States has obtained through the trade talks, Xie said.

Based on Xie’s analysis, Japan and the UK will certainly take the same stance as the United States.

“In the European Union, the next battleground of the U.S.–China trade war, the battle has just begun. I think the European Union will eventually stand by the side of the United States,” he said.

He pointed out that if the CCP loses the U.S., European, and Japanese markets, essentially the whole world is shutting the door to China,…

“From the upper to the middle level of the CCP, they all know that no matter how they try to procrastinate, there isn’t much time left before the Chinese regime is hit hard by the trade war,” Xie said. “What we’ll see next is capital flight, and many CCP officials will accelerate their plans to leave China.”

According to Xie, the trade war will have little effect on the U.S. economy.

“That’s because China’s retaliatory tariff increases are mostly imposed on automobiles, auto parts, petroleum, and agricultural products. Actually, China won’t be able to restrict the imports of these products because it has a high reliance and demand for them,” he said.

However, the United States can easily replace Chinese imports with products from other countries.

”The key issue is whether there are options,” Xie said. “China cannot produce most of the imports from the United States.

More importantly, the restructuring of the global supply chain, with companies moving manufacturing out of China, is devastating to China’s economy.

Xie pointed out that it’s become clear the trade war will be a prolonged confrontation between the two countries, and the supply chain will continue to shift to other countries from China. Most notably, Taiwan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, South Korea, and India are replacing China’s role as the biggest global manufacturing hub. As a result, in the near future, tens of millions of Chinese workers will be out of a job.

In addition, the decline in China’s exports to the United States will drastically reduce China’s trade surplus, which, in turn, will exhaust China’s foreign exchange reserves. The Chinese regime’s ability to intervene in the yuan exchange rate will also decrease as a result. That will then trigger a new round of bubbles bursting, such as a housing market crash, banks going bankrupt, and a credit crisis.

“China’s economy will decline.

“The United States, from the government to the common people, has come to realize that the CCP is an evil regime. It doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice the interests of the Chinese people for the sake of its own survival.”

REPUBLICAN SENATORS MARCO RUBIO (FLORIDA) AND TOM COTTON (ARKANSAS) WITH COLLEAGUES HAVE IN JUNE 2019 INTRODUCED BILL TO BAN CHINESE AND FOREIGN FIRMS THAT FLAUNT U.S. LAWS FROM U.S. EXCHANGES

October 17, 2019

On June 5, 2019, Senator Marco Rubio published a press release on the introduction of the Ensuring Quality Information and Transparency for Abroad-Based Listings on our Exchanges (EQUITABLE) Act, which would increase oversight of Chinese and other foreign companies listed on American exchanges and delist firms that are out of compliance with U.S. regulators for a period of three years. Excerpts below:

The legislation will force the Chinese government, which currently blocks U.S. regulators from viewing the full audit reports of publicly traded companies headquartered in Hong Kong and mainland China, to change behavior. The EQUITABLE Act will better inform investors about their exposure to financial risks, delist non-compliant issuers of securities, and ban Chinese and other foreign firms that flaunt investor protections and regulatory norms from entering U.S. capital markets.

“Beijing should no longer be allowed to shield U.S.-listed Chinese companies from complying with American laws and regulations for financial transparency and accountability,” Rubio said.

“If China-based companies want to list on stock exchanges or access capital markets in the U.S., we should make them comply with American laws. The EQUITABLE Act makes it clear that there is a price for the Chinese government and Communist Party’s disregard for the rules of responsible economic and financial engagement in international capital markets.”

Background:

• In December 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) issued a joint warning to investors about the challenges American regulators face when attempting to conduct oversight of U.S.-listed companies whose operations are based in China and Hong Kong.

• While the PCAOB regularly inspects audits of U.S.-listed firms at home and abroad, Beijing consistently and systemically challenges those efforts. For example, Chinese law requires that records remain in China, and the Communist Party routinely restricts access to typical accounting information on the grounds of national security and state secrecy.

• The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission identified 156 Chinese companies, including 11 state-owned-enterprises, that are listed on America’s three largest exchanges with a combined market capitalization of $1.2 trillion.

. In March 2018, the influential global index provider MSCI announced that it would quadruple its weighting of Chinese company shares in one of its key index products.

Comment: It is of great strategic importance that China is prevented from emerging as a technology superpower. The decoupling of U.S. and China economies has started in 2018 and the Equitable Act would be a contribution to this important trend

WHO LOST NORTH KOREA TO COMMUNISM?

October 17, 2019

So called progressive consensus has deprived America of peace since World War II. There has mostly been only stalemate, defeat, waste, and more war. The so called progressives facilitated Mao’s victory in China 1949. 70 years later (in 2019) the communist regime is challenging the United States as world hegemon and North Korea is developing nuclear weapons.

Stalin and Mao supported North Korea in starting the Korean War in 1950. Most Americans, perhaps all, believed that the United States should win the war by liberating all of Korea not only South Korea.

Politically the Democrats argued that it was in America’s interest to avoid a wider war. That was more important than winning in Korea. The United States had several trump cards during the war. It could threaten that Chinese nationalist forces on Taiwan could start a second front against Mao’s communist forces. It also had atomic weapons, which China did not have. The Democrat so called progressive Secretary of State Dean Acheson and Joint Chief of Staff’s General Omar Bradley persuaded President Harry Truman to stop victory in Korea.

General Douglas MacArthur warned that a no-win strategy in Korea could result in Taiwan being controlled by an unfriendly power. This would also be a threat to American security as an ”unsinkable aircraft carrier and submarine tender.”

Thanks to the Inchon Landing of MacArthur in September 1950 nothing stood in the way of American vivtory in the war. Then came the Chinese invasion after UN forces in October were nearing the Yalu River. Mao intended to win the war in Korea with own troops and those of North Korea. Now Truman introduced no-win war rules for UN troops. He limited the use of overwhelming American air power. If that had not been the case it could have been used to isolate the battlefield, starve, decimate and disarm opponents. Most importantly American pilots were not allowed to bomb bridges over Yalu. The result was that American troops were unable to halt the Chinese invasion.

MacArthur called for orders but none were forthcoming. There was only a directive that the general was to stay in place with his forces and existing restrictions remained. Three fourth of the American killed in Korea died after

Truman stopped trying to win the war.

Truman’s no-win policy in fact told the world that this was American post-World War II strategy. The result was decades of no-win wars like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Democrats lost the November 1950 elections. When a letter by MacArthur to a Republican member of Congress went public he was fired by Truman. The letter contained his views on opening a Chinese nationalist second front against Mao’s China.

General MacArthur can be said to have left two important warnings to America:

1. In war, there is no substitute for victory.

2. History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to
moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.