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  • World War 2.5

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 26th January 2014 (All posts by )

    UPDATE: I don’t seem to be the only one worried about a 1914 situation.

    China’s current coercion of Japan over the islands is but a symptom of a larger illness in the international system. China has been leveraging its naval modernization to increase its movements through the seas and choke points surrounding Japan to break out into the Pacific. Last November, for example, flotillas of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy destroyers and submarines backed by air power encircled Japan for the first time, as PLA officers bragged about splitting and demolishing the first island chain. China is changing the regional balance with little resistance from the United States. Counter to Chinese public claims of surprise at a U.S. “overreaction,” recent discussions with Chinese officials over Beijing’s December air defense identification zone announcement suggests that the United States’ response was much weaker than the response the Chinese leadership had expected.

    This is worrisome.

    Last month I posted an observation that another world war may be coming. I noted that this summer is the 100th anniversary of the First World War and that the present situation is similar to that which preceded the 1914 war. I may not be the only one.

    I concluded last month’s post as follows: The “two Ps” are Pakistan and the Palestinians. We live in an incredibly dangerous era and we are seeing an American president who does not understand geopolitics. God help us.

    screen shot 2014-01-22 at 9.29.47 am

    A recent column provided from someone attending the Davos Economic Forum discusses yet another potential fuse that is sputtering.

    During the dinner, the hosts passed a microphone around the table and asked guests to speak briefly about something that they thought would interest the group.

    One of the guests, an influential Chinese professional, talked about the simmering conflict between China and Japan over a group of tiny islands in the Pacific.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in China, Europe, History, Middle East, Obama | 20 Comments »

    The Next World War

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 31st December 2013 (All posts by )

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    This next summer will be 100 years since the fatal August of 1914. We live in a similar era of “history is over and everybody is happy.” See above. In August 1914, Germany’s major trading partners were Britain and France, as well as the US. There were people who believed that democracies that did business with each other never went to war. Sound familiar ?

    UPDATE: I am not the only one thinking about this, of course. Here is another version. I worry less about China as a geopolitical rival to the US but a China Japan conflict would not be impossible.

    The Telegraph has an excellent piece on the present world situation.

    As we look forward to the First World War commemorations, three stark conclusions are hard to refute. First, that in the course of this century we will need a great deal of luck to avoid a nuclear catastrophe. Second, that the Enlightenment has failed. Third, that this can all be traced back to the Great War.

    As a result of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, it seemed that mankind might make a decisive break with the scarcity and oppression that had characterised previous eras. There was, admittedly, one early warning. The French Revolution proved that a radical reconstruction of society on abstract principles was likely to end in tyranny and bloodshed. But after 1815, the 19th century developed into one of the most successful epochs in history. Living standards, life expectancy, productivity, medicine, the rule of law, constitutional government, versions of democracy – there was dramatic progress on all fronts, and in the spread of civilisation across the globe.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, Europe, France, Germany, History, International Affairs, Iran, Leftism, Military Affairs, National Security | 27 Comments »

    The depressing divide in US understanding of reality.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 14th September 2013 (All posts by )

    I read left wing blogs most days to see what the other side thinks. I used to comment but the comments were usually deleted, often without notice, so the nasty responses to my comments would be there the next day but the offending comments would not appear.

    The Huffington Post has become a very successful left wing site that advertises itself as moderate. I skim it most days and occasionally comment although my comments are all moderated and I can’t tell if they are deleted or not. I have a few followers so some must appear. Today I went there to see what the left thinks of the Syrian fiasco. The headline was not reassuring. That may change soon but it says “We Have a Deal !” The story follows with a rather naive heading.

    The story has over 14 thousand comments, double the number when I read the story earlier this morning. The story is bad enough.

    A diplomatic breakthrough Saturday on securing and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile averted the threat of U.S. military action for the moment and could swing momentum toward ending a horrific civil war.

    Marathon negotiations between U.S. and Russian diplomats at a Geneva hotel produced a sweeping agreement that will require one of the most ambitious arms-control efforts in history.

    The deal involves making an inventory and seizing all components of Syria’s chemical weapons program and imposing penalties if President Bashar Assad’s government fails to comply will the terms.

    After days of intense day-and-night negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and their teams, the two powers announced they had a framework for ridding the world of Syria’s chemicals weapons.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Blogging, Conservatism, Current Events, History, International Affairs, Leftism, Middle East, Obama, Russia, Terrorism | 33 Comments »

    What is a conservative ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 30th June 2013 (All posts by )

    Right now we have the immigration bill that has been passed by the Senate after being written by the “Gang of 8.” This bill, like so many major pieces of legislation lately, was written in secrecy and has not been through the usual committee process. “We have to pass it to see what is in it.”

    As if Obamacare were not enough, here we have another opaque and mysterious bit of legislation that is thousands of pages of incomprehensible legalese.

    Jennifer Rubin weighs in with a rather beltway-oriented view. Fair enough as she writes in the Washington Post.

    The immigration battle, the debate over U.S. involvement in Syria and the flap over NSA surveillance have suggested two starkly different visions of the GOP as well as two potential paths for the GOP.

    The question remains whether the GOP will become the party of: Sen. Rand Paul, Ky., or Sen. Kelly Ayotte, N.H., on national security; The Gang of Eight or the Gang of Three (Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions) on immigration; Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio, or Rick Santorum on gay marriage; Broad-based appeal (e.g. Govs. Chris Christie, Gov. Scott Walker) or losing ideologues (Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Michele Bachmann). I don’t know that Angle and O’Donnell were “ideologues.” Angle, at least was an amateur, somewhat like other candidates supported by the Tea Party.

    I’m not sure I agree with her choices but let’s think about it.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Economics & Finance, Elections, Immigration, Islam, Obama, Politics, Tea Party | 6 Comments »

    Conspiracy Theories

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Last week was a week for the conspiracy theories. First, we had Benghazi and the hearings which interviewed career State Department officers, most of whom probably vote for Democrats. The fact that they were ordered not to talk to Congressmen and denied any attempt at help when under attack, even from as close as Tripoli, invites speculation about motive. Peggy Noonan, a little unusually, hits this one out of the park.

    Since it is behind a pay wall, I’ll quote a few bits.

    What happened in Benghazi last Sept. 11 and 12 was terrible in every way. The genesis of the scandal? It looks to me like this:

    The Obama White House sees every event as a political event. Really, every event, even an attack on a consulate and the killing of an ambassador.

    Because of that, it could not tolerate the idea that the armed assault on the Benghazi consulate was a premeditated act of Islamist terrorism. That would carry a whole world of unhappy political implications, and demand certain actions. And the American presidential election was only eight weeks away. They wanted this problem to go away, or at least to bleed the meaning from it.

    That sounds about right to me.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections, Health Care, Islam, Medicine, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, Tea Party, Terrorism | 12 Comments »

    Iran May Have the Bomb

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 5th March 2013 (All posts by )

    A report suggests that the most recent North Korea nuclear test, which used Uranium, not Plutonium as in their others, may have been the Iranian bomb.

    the RAND Corporation reports that the third North Korean nuclear test appears to many experts to be fundamentally different from its previous two efforts. North Korea’s first tests used plutonium to trigger the nuclear explosion. This one, according to some atmospheric tests, likely used highly enriched uranium, exactly the form of nuclear weapon pursued by Iran.

    The report is not that positive about the weapon type.

    Key aspects of North Korea’s third nuclear weapon test, carried out on Tuesday, remain unknown. We do not know whether it was a test of a plutonium or highly enriched uranium weapon, though many experts suspect the latter.

    The report is hardly definitive but it would not be a surprise if Iran has pushed through to a success in its program, unencumbered by any serious US opposition. Still, there is some serious concern.

    The question is whether the weapon North Korea tested this month was its own, Iran’s or a joint project. A senior U.S. official told The New York Times, “It’s very possible that the North Koreans are testing for two countries.” It would be foolish for Iran to test a nuclear weapon on its own soil. Nuclear weapons cannot be detonated in secret; they leave unique seismic markers that can be traced back to their source. An in-country test would simply confirm the existence of a program that for years Iran has denied.

    If that were not enough:

    Ralph Peters has some serious concerns about where the Obama administration is going.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Elections, International Affairs, Iran, Islam, Korea, Middle East, Military Affairs, Politics | 22 Comments »

    The future of Islam or its absence.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th February 2013 (All posts by )

    Spengler has a new column that points out the coming collapse of Islam as a demographic entity. I have thought for years that Iran, if the population ever succeeds in overthrowing the regime, will abandon Islam as its first priority. Spengler points to a column by David Ignatius that belatedly recognizes a phenomenon that has been noted by others for years.

    Something startling is happening in the Muslim world — and no, I don’t mean the Arab Spring or the growth of Islamic fundamentalism. According to a leading demographer, a “sea change” is producing a sharp decline in Muslim fertility rates and a “flight from marriage” among Arab women.

    Nicholas Eberstadt, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, documented these findings in two recent papers. They tell a story that contradicts the usual picture of a continuing population explosion in Muslim lands. Population is indeed rising, but if current trends continue, the bulge won’t last long.

    The second class status of women in the Muslim world has led to important changes in their beliefs, especially about the religion that oppresses them.

    Eberstadt’s first paper was expressively titled “Fertility Decline in the Muslim World: A Veritable Sea-Change, Still Curiously Unnoticed.” Using data for 49 Muslim-majority countries and territories, he found that fertility rates declined an average of 41 percent between 1975-80 and 2005-10, a deeper drop than the 33 percent decline for the world as a whole.

    Twenty-two Muslim countries and territories had fertility declines of 50 percent or more. The sharpest drops were in Iran, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Libya, Albania, Qatar and Kuwait, which all recorded declines of 60 percent or more over three decades.

    The present fertility rate in Iran is about equal to that of irreligious Europe.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Christianity, Europe, History, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Islam, Japan, Middle East, Religion, Terrorism | 23 Comments »

    A Multipolar World

    Posted by onparkstreet on 22nd February 2012 (All posts by )

    CommodityOnline:

    India’s crude oil imports from Iran is facing a risk of potential disruption as increasing US and EU sanctions make it impossible for Indian ships to obtain insurance.

    Greg Scoblete, The Compass Blog (Real Clear World):

    I imagine if I were an Indian official, I’d be a bit peeved to learn that acting “responsibly” means privileging the interests of the United States over my own country. Nevertheless, Burns has a point. After all, India may rely on Iran for 12 percent of its oil imports, but look at what the United States has been willing to do for India:
     

    Presidents Obama and Bush have met India more than halfway in offering concrete and highly visible commitments on issues India cares about. On his state visit to India in November 2010, for example, President Obama committed the U.S. for the very first time to support India’s candidacy for permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council.

     
    I don’t know about you, but if the U.S. was asked to forgo 12 percent of its oil imports in exchange for another country’s endorsement for a seat on a multilateral forum, I’d make the trade. I mean, c’mon, 12 percent? The U.S. gets about that much from the Persian Gulf – and we barely pay that area any attention at all…

    Europa:

    “The EU-India free trade agreement will be the single biggest trade agreement in the world, benefiting 1.7 billion people,” said president Barroso. “It would mean new opportunities for both Indian and European companies. It would mean a key driver for sustainable growth, job creation and innovation in India and Europe.”
     
    The EU is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for about €86bn of trade in goods and services in 2010. Bilateral trade in goods rose by 20% between 2010 and 2011.”

    Asia Times Online:

    Last year Israel supplied India with $1.6 billion worth of military equipment and is India’s second-largest defense supplier after Russia. Sales are only going to rise. Indian defense procurements from Israel in the period 2002-07 have touched the $5 billion mark.

    And this doesn’t even get into the China-EU-US-Israel-Saudi Arabia wheels-within-wheels complications when it comes to arms deals, hoped for arms deals, trade deals, hoped for trade deals, energy politics, and the rest of it….

    It’s not 1985, now is it? The past is a different country, a Russian (Soviet)-oriented Cold War country used to thinking in terms of “Kissengerian” alliances and blocs. An intellectual adjustment may be needed. It’s like 3-D chess out there….

    Speaking of energy:

    “Was Saudi Arabia involved?” (Asia Times Online.) If it makes you feel better, let me point out that Saudi petrodollars continue to fund all sorts of interesting educational activities on the subcontinent, in Africa, and elsewhere, along with Iranian monies. So that’s nice.

    Posted in Business, China, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, India, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Markets and Trading, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, North America | 2 Comments »

    “Americans, who are you?”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 28th August 2011 (All posts by )

    I left the following comment at zenpundit :

    Kabir says,

    “I don’t touch ink or paper
    This hand never grasped a pen
    The greatness of four ages
    Kabir tells with his mouth alone”

    Tom Tom Club (Wordy Rappinghood) says,

    “Words in paper, words in books
    Words on TV, words for crooks
    Words of comfort, words of peace
    Words to make the fighting cease”

    And Asia Times writes,

    The channel broadcasts in Pashto language from 12 pm to 3 pm in the afternoon and 6 pm to 8 pm in the evening. The programs include jihadi taranay (jihadi motivational songs….

    And drones the size of bees, some day

    And mobiles crossing the Kush; they play

    Tribal songs for jihadi alms, a call-to-arms

    On 11/11 our cell phones say:

    And Americans can talk endlessly about the importance of democracy, but they never thought to explain to the chiefs why they came back to Afghanistan. They arrived with suitcases full of cash to buy help – but they never told the chiefs that they were there because the way al Qaeda attacked the US on 9/11 meant that many Americans couldn’t find so much as a fingernail of their massacred relatives to bury because the bodies were ground to dust.
    .
    Not to be able to bury one’s dead or even a piece of one’s dead — knowing THAT would have meant a great deal to the chiefs and those in their tribes. But the Americans never explained, never even cried, never showed emotion. THEY NEVER ACTED HUMAN; they never interacted with the Afghans in ways that are the same for all — not only all humans but all mammalian creatures. In other words, they displayed not a whit of common sense.
    .
    What do you talk about when you first sit down with a man whose life has been circumscribed by war and who knows nothing about you and your tribe? The answer is you tell me of your battles, I’ll tell you of mine and in this way we establish a commonality of experience.
    .
    You transform the rug or patch of sand you’re sitting on into the terrain of the battle, and you use sticks and stones or teacups as place markers for the troops to show how the battle was fought. In this way, you demonstrate that the battle is truly in your heart, that it means enough to you that you can bring it alive for another.
    .
    If you don’t show what’s in your heart, then you haven’t established a basis for developing a mutual understanding, so then there is no way to move off the dime. Only when you’ve demonstrated by your stories of war that your tribe also shed much blood for independence, can you move on to explaining stuff about government. You can explain that you were losing too many of your sons in battle so you devised a type of government that would help defend your freedoms and with less bloodshed. And so on.

    Pundita, “Americans, who are you?

    Contra Pundita, I bet this has been done sporadically between some who are working together as NATO attempts to build an Afghan Army – one able to protect its borders and serve as an irritant to transnational groups in the region. Many stories have yet to be told….

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Americas, Anglosphere, Blogging, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Poetry, USA | 6 Comments »

    Nothing Is Inevitable

    Posted by onparkstreet on 27th February 2011 (All posts by )

    Neither rise nor decline. Pay attention, American-declinist intelligentsia of various stripes:

    Is 2011 the year that the India story—carefully buffed for the better part of a decade by boosters and dispassionate observers alike—begins to lose its sheen? If foreign investors are a bellwether, then the answer may well be yes.
     
    In January, foreign institutional investors, driven in part by high inflation and the sluggish pace of economic reforms, pulled $900 million out of India’s stock markets. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, foreign direct investment in India plunged 32% last year to $24 billion, making it Asia’s only large economy to suffer a decline in that period. (China attracted more than four times as much FDI as India in 2010.) A recent survey of 89 fund managers by Morgan Stanley showed that only a quarter of buy-side investors believe that India will beat other emerging markets this year, the glummest outlook in two years.

    Sadanand Dhume, WSJ-Asia (via the AEI Enterprise blog.)

    America wastes no talent
     
    Conventional wisdom holds that America’s global competitiveness is driven by geniuses flocking to its shores and producing breathtaking inventions. But America’s real genius lies not in tapping just genius — but every scrap of talent up and down the scale.

    Shikha Dalmia, the Daily (via HotAir.)

     
    My father likes to make the same point (“America finds a way to use everybody.”) Some immigrants pay attention, you know. Sometimes better than certain intelligentsia.

    Some time back Lexington Green asked, musingly, what exactly drew us all to this corner of the blogosphere known as ChicagoBoyz?

    One underlying theme, in my opinion, is how hard it is to create and sustain a prosperous, safe society. Rule of law, a sound moral grounding, a good quality educational system, scientific study, a well-trained and funded military, proper planning and understanding of various logistics, a keen sense of what is possible and what is not, and so on. Wealth, beauty, comfort, kindness, and, well, “goodnesses” of all sorts don’t just happen. It takes effort. It takes thought. It takes understanding.

    It takes a lot of hard work. Nothing is inevitable. Neither rise nor decline. We Americans have many advantages. We should cultivate them.

    Posted in Americas, Anglosphere, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Human Behavior | 5 Comments »

    Epic Cookbooks of American Foreign Policy and Other Stuff

    Posted by onparkstreet on 10th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Or something like that.

    1. Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States: A Dinner Party Approach to International Relations – by Chris Fair (via Abu Muqawama’s Twitter feed leading to C. Fair’s Twitter feed and so on and so forth….)

    2. Pioneer Farm Cooking (Exploring History Through Simple Recipes); Cooking on the Lewis and Clark Expedition (Exploring History Through Simple Recipes)

    3. The I Love Lucy Cookbook (Hollywood Hotplates); The Hemingway Cookbook

    4. The First American Cookbook: A Facsimile of “American Cookery,” 1796

    5.

    Chris Kimball had a few friends over for dinner in Boston. The menu included oysters, mock turtle soup, rissoles (fried puff pastry with various sweet and savory fillings), Lobster à l’Américaine, saddle of venison, wood-grilled salmon, fried artichokes, roast stuffed goose and a variety of homemade jellies made using a calf’s foot gelatin. This sounds like pure decadence. But Mr. Kimball, the founder of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and host of “America’s Test Kitchen” on PBS, was trying to re-create a traditional 12-course meal from the famed 1896 edition of Fannie Farmer’s “Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.”

    Victorino Matus in the WSJ (via The Weekly Standard)

    Posted in Americas, Book Notes, Diversions, Education, History, Humor, Recipes | 5 Comments »