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Tag: Trump

Charles Krauthammer, RIP

Friday, 22 June, 2018

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer, died yesterday. He was 68. The cause was cancer of the small intestine. On 8 June, explaining what he called his 10-month “uncharacteristic silence,” Krauthammer revealed in The Post that despite surgery for the tumour last August, cancer had recurred and that he had only weeks to live.

“This is the final verdict,” he wrote. “My fight is over.”

Charles Krauthammer, a former psychiatrist and self-described Great Society Democrat metamorphosed into one of America’s most persuasive conservative voices. He originated the phrase “the Reagan Doctrine” for the president’s strategy of going beyond the policy of containment to actively encourage anti-communist insurgencies. He coined the term “unipolarity” to describe the era of American power after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, and he diagnosed as “Bush Derangement Syndrome” the response many people had to the presidency and even the very existence of George W. Bush.

This is from Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics:

“For the Europeans there really is a peace dividend, because we provide the peace. They can afford social democracy without the capacity to defend themselves because they can always depend on the United States.

So why not us as well? Because what for Europe is decadence — decline, in both comfort and relative safety — is for us mere denial. Europe can eat, drink and be merry for America protects her. But for America it’s different. If we choose the life of ease, who stands guard for us?”


A German writes about Germany and Trump

Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

Jochen Bittner, a political editor with the German weekly Die Zeit, addresses the enormous hypocrisy of Europe and, especially Germany, in a New York Times op-ed titled What Trump Gets Right About Europe. Snippet:

“Mr. Trump’s anger at America’s allies embodies, however unpleasantly, a not unreasonable point of view, and one that the rest of the world ignores at its peril: The global world order is unbalanced and inequitable. And unless something is done to correct it soon, it will collapse, with or without the president’s tweets.

While the West happily built the liberal order over the past 70 years, with Europe at its center, the Americans had the continent’s back. In turn, as it unravels, America feels this loss of balance the hardest — it has always spent the most money and manpower to keep the system working.

The Europeans have basically been free riders on the voyage, spending almost nothing on defense, and instead building vast social welfare systems at home and robust, well-protected export industries abroad. Rather than lash back at Mr. Trump, they would do better to ask how we got to this place, and how to get out.

The European Union, as an institution, is one of the prime drivers of this inequity. At the Group of 7, for example, the constituent countries are described as all equals. But in reality, the union puts a thumb on the scales in its members’ favor: It is a highly integrated, well-protected free-trade area that gives a huge leg up to, say, German car manufacturers while essentially punishing American companies who want to trade in the region.

The eurozone offers a similar unfair advantage. If it were not for the euro, Germany would long ago have had to appreciate its currency in line with its enormous export surplus.”

What sort of lives do people/nations, who pose as being moral, lead? Jochen Bittner has posed the question and answered it, too.

Language note: The word “hypocrite” came to English from the Greek hypokrites, which means “actor” or “stage player.” Hypokrites is made up of two words that translate as “an interpreter from underneath,” and that makes sense when you know that actors in ancient Greece wore masks to represent the characters they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.

Hypokrites took on an expanded meaning to refer to anyone wearing a figurative mask and pretending to be someone they were not, and this meaning was imported into medieval French and then into English, where it appeared with the spelling, ypocrite, in 13th-century religious texts to refer to those who pretend to be pious to deceive others. By the 16th century, hypocrite had gained its initial h-.


History: The Singapore Summit

Tuesday, 12 June, 2018

The foreign policy elites have hated Donald Trump ever since he announced his candidacy for the White House. And that simmering hatred reached boiling point at the weekend when the US President slapped down the Canadian boy-band frontman Justin Trudeau at the G7 Summit in Quebec. But as Michael Mandelbaum documented in Mission Failure, the same elites that adore Trudeau and despise Trump have failed totally since the end of the Cold War in their efforts to prevent North Korea and Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Irony of history: What neither Clinton, nor Bush nor Obama could do, Trump can do and that’s why the potential success of the Singapore Summit is especially feared by those who should welcome it. Their Juju is in danger of being exposed for what it is.

The Singapore Summit


Peace: Stone meeting Water in Korea

Friday, 27 April, 2018 0 Comments

Kim Jong-un today became the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea by crossing the military line that has divided the peninsula since the end of the Korean War in 1953. In a moment rich with symbolism, the South Korean president Moon Jae-in and Kim shook hands at the border. Just months ago North Korean rhetoric was warlike, but now the talk is of peace and the ending of Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

Who deserves the credit for this? In the Sydney Morning Herald, Daniel McCarthy argues that “Donald Trump deserves the Nobel Peace.” Snippet:

“The Nobel Committee and the community of opinion that looks on the Peace Prize as an affirmation of liberal pieties may find Trump distasteful. Nevertheless, he is set to be the man most deserving of the honour. If that seems shocking, it is a shock that ought to prompt a rethink of how international relations really work. Decades of conventional diplomacy with North Korea only led to the Kim dynasty acquiring nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them between continents. To make peace demands a new approach, and President Trump has found one.”

One of the highlights of our trip to Korea was the time spent on Jeju Island in the Korea Strait, which connects the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan. Its fascinating Stone Park is devoted to “the history of stone culture” and the park’s combination of stone and water suggests that opposing elements can be united.

Jeju Stone Park

Jeju Stone Park


Trump migrates to Davos

Tuesday, 23 January, 2018 0 Comments

The World Economic Forum has opened in Davos and the theme is “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.” You can follow the action here. Lots of noble sentiment will be spouted by many worthy people in the coming days in Switzerland but their strivings are already overshadowed by the impending arrival of the planet’s only political superstar: US President Donald Trump, who is scheduled to speak on Friday.

In the run up to Davos, the scholar and writer, Walter Russell Mead, has written a piece for the Wall Street Journal titled “Immigration Is Still Radioactive” in which he makes the point that immigration “powered Donald Trump’s triumph over the Republican and Democratic establishments while tipping the U.K. referendum toward Brexit.” He also notes that “In Germany, Angela Merkel, once the unchallenged master of European politics, is still struggling to form a coalition.” This is mainly due to her disastrous open-borders policy which, back to Davos, has fractured German and European politics. And, immigration remains the “third rail” in global politics, says Mead, who warns: “Anyone who hoped voters would get it out of their systems must be sorely disappointed.”

Mead spoke recently to Susan Glasser, host of The Global POLITICO podcast. She asked: “As we’re here at the end of year one of this most unusual and remarkable presidency, do you think Donald Trump is a believer in Trumpism, or is it silly of us in our sort of academic mode to try to impose ideologies and isms on a guy like Donald Trump?” To which Mead replied:

“I try not to read other people’s minds. I’ve found I’m not very good at it. I think if you look at the pattern, at the record of things that President Trump has said over many decades, things like dislike of democracy promotion as a foreign policy, of limited wars, of trade, free trade, there are definite patterns. And it seems to me that we’re not going too far when we say, ‘Yes, the man does seem to have some core beliefs that persist.’ But, you know, how he fits those in with what he is learning every day as president of the United States, you know, whether it’s from the briefings he gets from various advisers or whether it’s you try something and the whole country screams that they hate it and your poll numbers go down, well, that’s an education too. So every president changes in office. I don’t think Donald Trump will be an exception to that.”

Davos Man, and Woman, should ponder that.


Taking Trump seriously, if not literally

Thursday, 28 December, 2017 0 Comments

“2016 turned out to be a year in which it was wise to take Donald Trump as a political candidate seriously but not literally, in the inspired phrase of the Washington Examiner‘s Pittsburgh-based columnist Salena Zito. As 2017 is on the point of vanishing, it’s worth asking whether it’s time to take Trump seriously, if not literally, as a public policy maker.”

So writes Michael Barone and he cites Tyler Cowen, a Trump skeptic, who also happens to be a a George Mason University economist and Marginal Revolution blogger, in making his case. Cowen, according to Barone, sees a pattern where others see only chaos and its name is “investment”. Trump’s goal, says Cowen is to make “the U.S. a new and dominant focus of investment, including at the expense of other nations.” Why is this a winner for the Republicans?

“Their deep reduction in the corporate tax rate, from the highest in the developed world to below average, obviously incentivized both U.S. — and foreign-based firms to invest here. Trump’s rejection of the Trans Pacific Partnership and renegotiation of NAFTA, in Cowen’s view, will make lesser-developed Asian nations and Mexico less attractive alternatives to the U.S. for investors.

Trump critics are right to say that this upends—the regnant cliché — the thrust of American policy since the years just after World War II. Then there was bipartisan agreement on encouraging free trade and foreign investment, as economist Douglas Irwin writes in Clashing Over Commerce. Europe was in ruins and voters thought its revival was in our interest.

But that was 70 years ago, and economic situations seldom remain static so long. A revived Europe has turned sluggish, while low-wage nations in Asia, Latin America, and even Africa are open for investment. First Japan, then China, now others will be moving up as competitors.

America has proved competitive at the top levels. But a country whose labor force is always going to include many low-skill workers may have some continuing interest in incentivizing low-skill employment. That’s not Cowen’s view or mine, but it’s apparently President Trump’s. Maybe it’s not just dismissible as crazy ranting.

Something similar may be said for the Trump foreign policy, considered as a perhaps unstable amalgam of his sober drafted national security Strategy and his sometimes impulsive tweets. This view explicated by David P. Goldman, writing this month in the Asia Times.

Trump’s view, Goldman argues, is of an America that is more competitive than cooperative, not necessarily hostile to others but not willing to rely on assertions of abstract common interests. ‘Competition does not always mean hostility, nor does it inevitably lead to conflict—although none should doubt our commitment to defend our interests.’

The national security strategy has a tough enough approach to Russia to disabuse all but the most dogmatic believers of the notion that Trump is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Manchurian candidate. It is sharply critical of some actions by President Xi Jinping’s China. It drops former President George W. Bush’s earnest promotion of democracy in the Middle East and former President Barack Obama’s gauzy faith that Iran will abandon its nuclear weapons program and become a normal constructive power in the region.”

That must be the best use of “gauzy” in 2017.


This time, this night last year

Wednesday, 8 November, 2017 0 Comments

Clinton to win


What to wear to the ‘Dump Trump!’ march

Monday, 6 November, 2017 0 Comments

As the world prepares, somewhat reluctantly, for Wednesday’s celebration of Donald Trump’s election as US President, some members of the grieving Left remain unsure of what to wear. Not to worry. Barneys of Fifth Avenue in The Donald’s home town has the comrades covered for just $375 per M-65 Anarchy Cotton-Blend Field Jacket.

Barneys of NYC


The Democrats have issues, as they say

Wednesday, 25 October, 2017 0 Comments

Breaking: Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier. According to The Washington Post: “The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund the research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about Donald Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.”

Meanwhile: Andrew Sullivan is worrying about what he calls “The Issue That Could Lose the Next Election for Democrats:”

“I don’t believe it’s disputable at this point that the most potent issue behind the rise of the far right in America and Europe is mass immigration. It’s a core reason that Trump is now president; it’s why the AfD is now the third-biggest party in the German, yes, German, parliament; it’s why Austria’s new chancellor won by co-opting much of the far right’s agenda on immigration; it’s why Britain is attempting (and currently failing) to leave the EU; it’s why Marine Le Pen won a record number of votes for her party in France this spring. A critical moment, in retrospect, came with Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to import over a million Syrian refugees into the heart of Europe… This is, to be blunt, political suicide. The Democrats’ current position seems to be that the Dreamer parents who broke the law are near heroes, indistinguishable from the children they brought with them; and their rhetoric is very hard to distinguish, certainly for most swing voters, from a belief in open borders. In fact, the Democrats increasingly seem to suggest that any kind of distinction between citizens and noncitizens is somehow racist.”

The bottom line for Sullivan is this: “The most powerful thing Trump said in the campaign, I’d argue, was: ‘If you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country.’ And the Democrats had no answer, something that millions of Americans immediately saw.”


Vive la France!

Friday, 14 July, 2017 0 Comments

It’s the #jourdebastille and there are many reasons to celebrate it. For example, the 13th stage of the Tour de France from Saint-Girons to Foix. It’s being described as “brutal”, which should add to the enjoyment. Then we’ve got the Trump, l’« ami » américain de Macron bonding in Paris, and there’s always that classic scene from Casablanca when Rick Blaine, owner of the Café Américain, asks the house band to play La Marseillaise.


Trump endorses the Three Seas Initiative

Thursday, 6 July, 2017 0 Comments

Readers of today’s earlier post will understand the significance of the Three Seas Initiative to Poland and the other members of this new Eastern/Central European alliance. In short, it’s a project designed to prevent former Warsaw-Pact countries becoming pawns in Russia’s energy game. In his speech earlier today in Warsaw, President Trump addressed the Three Seas Initiative at the outset of his remarks:

“President Duda and I have just come from an incredibly successful meeting with leaders participating in the Three Seas Initiative. To the citizens of this great region, America is eager to expand our partnership with you. We welcome stronger trade and commerce as you grow your economies and we are committed to securing access to alternate sources of energy so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy. Mister President, I congratulate you along with the president of Croatia on your leadership of this historic Three Seas Initiative.”

For Moscow, Berlin and Brussels, the Three Seas Initiative represents a serious challenge to their different plans for a Europe in which energy supply and energy dependence will be critical. Energy will be central to the 21st-century version of the Great Game and Washington is signalling that it’s going to be a player in every theatre.

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