A Summit and a Communique

So we have a joint communique. It reads well, it says things that need to happen, and probably its covered in fine leather, the best. What does it mean?

Everything or maybe nothing at all. It’s much too early to tell. On July 5, 1776, Tom Jefferson’s Declaration was mostly a list of people George III thought should be hanged. Its high flown and moving words meant very little until made good in Patriot (and British) blood.

It’s a good start, and you can’t reach the finish if you don’t start. It starts from the fact that last year, the whole nuclear thing became real for Kim, and he got scared right out of his mind when he saw a glimpse of the real power of the United States, sword unsheathed, coming at him, with a president who really would let slip the dogs of war. And to fight through to victory, not some measly little-limited war.

Call it a near-death experience, cause that is pretty much what it was, those change people. Maybe it has here too, he’s a young man, long time left to enjoy life.

Melanie Phillips has as good a write up as I’ve seen.

As Trump himself has said, however, this is merely the start of a process. It has been suggested that his strategy is to reel Kim in over time like a big fish on a line, with every step towards denuclearisation being rewarded by another step in relieving sanctions. And that may be so.

Certainly, Trump’s over-the-top gushing over Kim should not be taken at face value. This was just part of the choreography for his grand theatre of negotiation. Nor do I think it credible that either he or his hawkish Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or even more hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton could have failed to factor in the need for robust verification of the de-nuclearisation process and the difficulties in achieving that.

I was most interested by the body language between the two men, and also by something Kim said. Trump’s bombastic bonhomie seemed to me to signify the biggest beast in the jungle beating his chest to demonstrate his dominance; the more effusive the compliments, the louder the message that Trump could afford to be generous because the other guy had lost. It was not designed to make Kim look his equal. It was designed to humiliate.

That’s true, and I doubt it has much to do with Trump’s feelings (or lack thereof) for Kim. It’s a warning, to the Ayatollahs, to China, to the G7, to Putin, to all and sundry that the sheriff is watching them, and limited nonsense will be tolerated.

The only thing that has reduced American dominance in my lifetime is American non-leadership. America is still the worlds most powerful economy coupled with the worlds most powerful military just as it was in 1944. One is well advised to pay attention when such a one speaks.

And Trump is also right on Europe, there is very little support in America for continuing to support Europe, either militarily or economically. The Europeans have grown too arrogant, too sure of their entitlement, too lazy to defend themselves, and the people of America have noticed. Uncle Sugar is retiring. We’ll defend our friends, mostly the ones we restored from communism, and don’t want to go back, but that is close to the limit, and it just might be as anti-German as anti-Russian.

Melanie ends with this, and I think it a fair assessment.

The American strategy towards North Korea cannot be viewed in isolation from its strategy of isolating, weakening and ultimately destroying the Iranian regime. Tehran will be sweating that the outsourcing to Pyongyang of its nuclear weapons programme is not disrupted by the Trump/Kim negotiating process.

It cannot be sure. Trump’s policy of isolating Iran is already working. From being the unrivalled grandmasters of geopolitical chess, the Iranian regime now finds that the board and its pieces have been thrown up into the air by a vandal against the international order whose behaviour it cannot predict. And both China and Russia have already moved as a result to accommodate him.

Who knows where this will end? We cannot at present tell whether Trump will succeed or fail. But one thing seems indisputable: the assistance previously given by the US to the forces of utmost evil in the world has been stopped in its tracks. And only the most unhinged haters of this most extraordinary US President can deny that achievement.

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A Big Week

So the G7 today in Canada, then on to Singapore for the Nork summit, and then the IG report drops. Quite the week coming up. We’ll talk about the G7 today, although I find Europe increasingly irrelevant.

Benny Avni has a pretty good piece up at the New York Post so we’ll base off that.

Well before his threatened steel and aluminum restrictions on European countries (as well as on Canada and Mexico), Trump slaughtered some of Europe’s most sacred cows.

He withdrew from the Paris accord on greenhouse-gas emissions and broke away from the Iran deal. Europeans strongly believe the former will save the planet. (It won’t.) They also hope the latter will tame the Islamic Republic. (Again, nope.) As important, they want their continent’s economies to have access to Iranian markets.

Then Trump offended the Euros’ collective sense of decorum by moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

But on that, as on other issues, Europeans are far from united.

And strangely, America pretty much is, at least the part of America that hasn’t run screaming in terror to their safe spaces. We seem to have become far more level-headed with Trump in the White House, which I think goes with having a President that at least appears to listen to us, and take us seriously.

What I see in Trump is a man who uses all applicable tools, trade, aid, defense policy, the military itself, tariffs, even Twitter to help the US win. It’s a worldbeater, especially in a world of globalist technocrats who focus on process, not results. What we are doing now is the American way, best described by Great Satan’s Girlfriend, in my article Hyper Puissance, The American Way, and Donald Trump

Which may funnily enough hinge on a factor that is flat out tough to factor in:

Unbridled free inquiry.

“Courtney, free societies have, in general, a decided advantage when it comes to creativity and innovation, including in the military realm. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that”

All the cool kids know how Great Satan’s indispensable ally just to the east of Durand line sold access to that ditched sexed up chopper of Abottabad/Abottagood infamy. Theft of high tech and reverse engineering are the fortunes of unfree regimes and will directly impact the Diffusion of Military of Power.

Stuff that makes the West the Best — Wonderbra, BvB, individualism, scientific inquiry, rational critical thinking, democracy with it’s inherent capitalism, political freedom, dissidence and open free wheeling debate functions as kryptonite in Smallville in regards to autocrazies, despotries — and by extension — to their acquisition, development and deployment of military power.

And central to that common sense, what stops a criminal regime, like Iran, is military force, and plenty of it. Why did you think we are having a summit in Singapore next week with Whoa Fat because Trump has great hair? It’s B2s and CBGs, and Infantry in the south, and above all a President not afraid to use them. It’ll work on Iran too, or they’ll die, which is another way of saying they’ll work, just messier.

In addition, Europe is far from united, Britain would be leaving, if it had any leadership at all, Italy is tending that way, the Visegrad countries are cleaving closer and closer to the US, not the Brussels-Berlin Axis, and the Balts care more about defense than anything, and that is done by Americans and Brits.

Meanwhile German Chancellor Angela Merkel, long presiding over Europe’s largest economy, recently said the continent can no longer rely on America and should instead defend itself.

Well, good luck with that.

Germany is currently one of NATO’s worst deadbeat members, investing a mere 1.22 percent of its GDP in the military. That’s well below the alliance’s agreed-on 2 percent. America spends more than 3.5 percent of GDP on the military. The US is by far the most muscular NATO member, as it has been since the alliance’s inception.

Germans have grown fat under America’s military umbrella. They and other Europeans developed a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil attitude, which is increasingly untenable in a growingly hostile world.

Demanding more European funding for defense was one of Trump’s early mantras. Yet this year Germany is, at best, expected to up its military budget to 1.5 percent of its GDP. The only Europeans that contribute their required share are Greece, Estonia, Britain and Poland. The rest slouch toward Germany.

How will Europe, then, “defend itself” — let alone contribute to global security?

Will its carriers sail the Pacific, where Europeans hope to surpass America in exports to Asia, but where China threatens to dominate and limit freedom of navigation? And what if, God forbid, a future nuclear-armed Iran turns its ire on one of the continent’s capitals?

We’ve written about how important the control of the sea is, the main one here. What has always been true is what Sir Walter Raleigh said back in the early 17th century and remains true:

Whoever commands the sea, commands the trade;

whosoever commands the trade of the world

commands the riches of the world,

and consequently the world itself.

There’s only one answer there, and it is the United States, before that it was Great Britain, since at least the Armada. That’s why the world is as it is, and why Europe is making itself increasingly irrelevant.

Hey Sam Don’t Bee Rosie; the Picture Edition

mm

Heh!

Winning!

Kaitlin Bennett one more time!

Mostly PowerLine and Patriot Humor – No Difference this week.

The Round up

Lots going on, let’s just look around today.

Bruce Bawer has written an excellent column on the Tommy Robinson fiasco for Gatestone.

  • The swiftness with which injustice was meted out to Tommy Robinson is stunning. No, more than that: it is terrifying.

  • Without having access to his own lawyer, Robinson was summarily tried and sentenced to 13 months behind bars. He was then transported to Hull Prison.
  • Meanwhile, the judge who sentenced Robinson also ordered British media not to report on his case. Newspapers that had already posted reports of his arrest quickly took them down. All this happened on the same day.
  • In Britain, rapists enjoy the right to a full and fair trial, the right to the legal representation of their choice, the right to have sufficient time to prepare their cases, and the right to go home on bail between sessions of their trial. No such rights were offered, however, to Tommy Robinson.

The ban on talking about Tommy’s case has been lifted, which is too little too late. The damage has been done to Britain’s reputation as a member of the free world. #FreeTommy.

Warsclerotic has a pretty good write up (I think) on the somewhat clarifying mess in Syria. Well worth reading.

Russia, too, is dealing with a public relations problem. It is trying to link a withdrawal of Iranian forces from the Syrian border with a withdrawal of US forces around al-Tanf–this was the location where Russian mercenaries got the snot beat out of them by US forces back in February. Without some sort of face-saving deal, Russian prestige will suffer and the Iranians will start thinking the Russians are looking for an exit. And they are.

What had started out as a venture to procure a Mediterranean port and supporting logistics facilities and airbases to project Russian naval power into the Eastern Med has become an oozing ulcer, costing Russia cash and lives.

None of this just happened. Leon Hadar has an interesting article in The National Interest called Trump’s Strategy for the Middle East Is Working. In it he juxtaposes the way Middle East crises used to work and the deft change of calculus made by Trump (I’m using Trump as a metaphor for his administration because guys like Mattis and Bolton and Pompeo have watched the Middle East for a while).

Ireland voted last week to allow pretty much-unrestricted abortions in the first trimester. As we know, from both the US and the UK, intentionally violating the right to life echoes around a countries morality and damages it in manifold ways. Too bad that Ireland decided to join the cesspit of Europe on this one.

In the US (which never voted for abortion), on the other hand, for the first time, it looks like there may be a real chance to overturn Roe v. Wade, the monstrosity that made abortion legal nationwide. That’s still a long shot, but more and more states are restricting abortion, often to where the heartbeat is detectable, my understanding is that is about 6 weeks. Not enough, but trending the right way. More here.

And we’re number 1 again. So says Bloomberg and the Switzerland-based IMD World Competitiveness Center. The Runners-up are Hong Kong, Singapore, Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Also: The US economy will remain strong for the next three years, 71% of global CFOs believe.

And: The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is forecasting economic growth will exceed 4% for the current 2nd quarter of 2018.

A NorK terrorist general is in New York talking to the State Department about the upcoming (maybe) summit.

So, overall, the British Isles are sinking into the quagmire, but the eagle continues to climb.

Yeah, OK, #MAGA

Picture This Week

So, another week in the books.

YANNY, LAUREL, OR….

Muppet Outtakes!!!

Once upon a time, P.J O’Rourke gave a most cogent explanation of why America doesn’t get invaded. You might remember it. In any case, here is the visual aid.

Mom taught us to share, right?

Congratulations to  Kaitlyn Marie, a graduate of Kent State University, class of 2018. Now she can protect herself on campus.

As usual, mostly from PowerLine and Bookworm, and diverse other places. Enjoy!

ps.

And just a royal wedding quibble or two. A couple of my Anglican friends, @DrJulesGomes and Gavin Ashenden had reservations on the Bishop’s message at the royal wedding yesterday. I don’t disagree with them, and the bishop will likely never have a more bully pulpit, But I have my doubts that anybody was really paying all that much attention, it was after all a show wedding, and I don’t know about you, but at my wedding, I had a few other things on my mind beyond what the preacher was preaching at me.

It also struck me that if this was my daughter marrying into the British Royal Family, I’d want her to have the best and that Rolls Royce she went to church in, while a pretty decent car, and rare too, wasn’t considered the best when it was built. This was:

That is a 1936 Packard All Weather Cabriolet V12, which quite a few reviewers at the time thought was a better car than the Rolls Royce. This particular one would have been highly appropriate having both show business and British connections. How does that work, you ask? Well, its original owner was a chap by the name of Charlie Chaplin.

Ask the man who owns one.

Thugs Gonna Thug

President Trump early Thursday welcomed three Americans who had been held captive by North Korea.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Heh! Well, we all know David Brooks from way back, don’t we? He’s what passes for a conservative at the New York Times, which usually makes him a fellow traveler with the progressive left. But he has his moments. He had one recently in his column titled: Donald Trump’s Lizard Wisdom. Via PowerLine.

He starts by describing the amazingly corrupt, mob and union infested construction scene in New York and New Jersey, which makes North Korea seem benign sometimes.

And yet I can’t help but wonder if that kind of background has provided a decent education for dealing with the sort of hopped-up mobsters running parts of the world today. There is growing reason to believe that Donald Trump understands the thug mind a whole lot better than the people who attended our prestigious Foreign Service academies.

The first piece of evidence is North Korea. When Trump was trading crude, back-alley swipes with “Little Rocket Man,” Kim Jong-un, about whose nuclear button was bigger, it sounded as if we were heading for a nuclear holocaust led by a pair of overgrown prepubescents.

In fact, Trump’s bellicosity seems to have worked. It’s impossible to know how things will pan out, but the situation with North Korea today is a lot better than it was six months ago. Hostages are being released, talks are being held. There seems to be a chance for progress unfelt in years.

Maybe Trump intuited something about the sorts of people who run the North Korean regime that others missed.

The second piece of evidence is our trade talks with China. Over the past few decades, the Western diplomatic community made a big bet: If we all behaved decently toward Chinese leaders, then they’d naturally come to embrace liberal economic and cultural values and we could all eventually share a pinot at the University Club.

The bet went wrong. . .  The president has pushed back harder on the Chinese and has netted some results. After some Trump swagger, Xi Jinping promised to “significantly lower” Chinese tariffs on imported vehicles.

And then there is Iran.

Maybe Trump is right to intuit that the only right response to a monster is to enclose it. Maybe he’s right that when you sense economic weakness in a potential threat, you hit it again.

Please don’t take this as an endorsement of the Trump foreign policy. I’d feel a lot better if Trump showed some awareness of the complexity of the systems he’s disrupting, and the possibly cataclysmic unintended consequences. But there is some lizard wisdom here. The world is a lot more like the Atlantic City real estate market than the G.R.E.s.

I think that disclaimer at the end reduces the power of his logic quite a lot. But in the main, he’s right. Those of us that grew up in the real world, rather than the posh precincts, know perfectly well that the way you fix bullying (and that’s what a lot of the NorKs, the Chinese, the Iranians do) is to punch them in the nose, hard and repeatedly until they learn the lesson, at least as it applies to you, and those you care about. That this is done with armies, navies, and air forces, instead of bare knuckles only changes the scale. Teddy Roosevelt (who did quite well in foreign policy) referred to it as “Walk softly and carry a big stick”. You may have noticed that TR never had to use that stick.

Brooks is not a leftist, he lives in what could well be called the squishy middle, never quite joining one side or the other, rather like walking straddling a jagged ridgeline with slippery slopes on either side. Better him than me, but it pays better than writing this blog, so you pays your money and takes your choice.

On the other hand, Willie Brown, a very intelligent politician and a legendary former Speaker of the California Assembly, is a decided leftist. He recently wrote this:

It’s time for the Democrats to stop bashing President Trump.

It’s not going to be easy, given his policies and personality. It might even mean checking into a 12-step program. But setting a winning agenda is like maneuvering an aircraft carrier. It takes time to change course. And if they want to be on target for the November midterm elections, the Democrats need to start changing course now.

Like it or not, a significant number of Americans are actually happy these days. They are making money. They feel safe, and they agree with with the president’s protectionist trade policies, his call for more American jobs, even his immigration stance.

The jobs growth reports, the North Korea summit and the steady economy are beating out the Stormy Daniels scandal and the Robert Mueller investigation in Middle America, hands down.

So you are not going to win back the House by making it all about him.

Quoting from Steven in the above-linked PowerLine article.

He’s pretty much right, from where I sit. Things are hardly perfect, but there is a sense of optimism in the air, and Stormy and Mueller, whose principles rather resemble each other, are seen as merely an attempt to distract from what is increasingly good news.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

 

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