A Change in Tone?

Recall the start of President Donald Trump’s response to the People’s Republic of China’s economic conflict with us, when he began imposing tariffs on PRC goods over their continued theft of American companies’ intellectual property.

Vice President Wang warned US business chieftains there would be corporate casualties. President Xi told others that Beijing would “punch back” at the US.

Now we’re getting sweet words.

Liu He, President Xi Jinping’s economic-policy chief, told visiting American business representatives that US companies’ China operations won’t be targeted in Beijing’s trade-brawl counterattacks. “We won’t allow retribution against foreign companies,” Mr Liu said[.]

Little Nations

…and big nations.  There’s a meeting of 18 nations of the Pacific, the Pacific Islands Forum, occurring in the nation of Nauru, an island nation in the Pacific.  Nauru is 2500 miles north of New Zealand, and it would fit inside Providence, RI (in fact, it would fit inside my home town of Kankakee, IL).

The People’s Republic of China is present at the meeting as an observer; it’s not a member of the PIF.  You already know where and how big the PRC is.

Democracy

The Progressive-Democratic Party and the Left in general no longer believe in democracy, whether republican or popular.  Here’s Robert Reich, Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration:

The title of his piece is the gist of the position: Don’t Impeach Trump, Annul His Presidency.  Read past the irrational hysteria in his first several paragraphs, hysteria like this:

Even if he loses in 2020, we’ll be fortunate if he concedes without being literally carried out of the Oval Office amid the stirrings of civil insurgency.
Oh, and let me remind you that even if he’s impeached, we’d still have his loathsome administration—Pence on down.

Security and Hacking

The USAF and software company Merlin Cryption have developed a “cybersecurity technology”—and encryption technique—that has yet to be hacked, having been tried by the likes of Louisiana-based Cyber Innovation Center and the University of Louisiana in extensive testing.

The problem I have, based on published reporting and my status as a non-expert in the security field, is this from Brandon Brown, Merlin Cyrption’s CEO.

It uses a random data generator that never repeats a pattern. This puts it in a good position to overcome AI and Quantum computing….

Surprised

Writing on the topic of our applying economic pressure on Turkey as a means of getting an American hostage (among others) freed, Greg Ip expressed surprise and worry about the weaponization of trade in his Wednesday Wall Street Journal article.

Trade wars may be morphing into something more dangerous: financial wars.

This, though, merely exposes his misunderstanding of international trade.  Such trade is far more about national policy applied internationally than it is about economics, and international finance is just a tool of that trade venue.  Trade has always been “weaponized;” it has always been about achieving national political goals, of which economics is merely one.

Turkey and Natural Gas Pipelines

War on the Rocks has an interesting piece on Turkey’s desire to become a natural gas transshipment hub feeding Europe and perhaps Russia.  I think, though, that WOTR underplays the purpose of Turkey’s transshipment goal.

Recall the existing conflict between Turkey and Europe over immigration, economics, rule of law EU-style rather than as Recep Erdoğan does it, and a host of other excuses for Turkey to claim to be put upon.

There’s Help, and There’s Help

Recall that Alphabet Inc, through its Google arm, has refused to help the US defend itself by refusing to work with DoD on the application of artificial intelligence to military projects.  After the resignations described at the link, Alphabet pulled its Google arm out of the project altogether, with effect in 2019 when its current contract expires.

On the other hand, Alphabet is enthusiastic about its Google working within the People’s Republic of China.  Mobvoi Inc, headquartered outside Beijing, makes smart watches and smart speakers for sale within—and outside—the surveillance state.

Its engineers build apps using TensorFlow, Google’s free set of development tools for artificial intelligence.

Some Thoughts on NATO

Stephen Walt, writing in Foreign Policy, had some, and as a result, so do I.

Walt’s first thought concerns the actual content of NATO’s Article V: it’s not a tripwire for war.  On this, he quoted the salient part of that Article [emphasis his]:

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence … will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area….

Are Syrian Refugees Human?

Syrian MFWIC Bashar al-Assad wants Syrian refugees to come home.  The civil war is winding down, after all, and soon everything will be jake.

But obstacles the regime is throwing up to their return show that President Bashar al-Assad—mindful of the strain refugees are putting on neighboring countries—is willing to use the exiles as bargaining chips to secure foreign aid and sanctions relief, Western diplomats and analysts in Beirut say.

Al Assad still doesn’t see his own people (I’m using “his own” loosely) as human beings. To him, they’re not human at all, just chits to be cashed in for dollars and euros.

Progress?

Is northern Korea starting to fulfill the commitment Baby Kim supposedly made to begin denuclearizing?

An American research group [38 North website] on Monday claimed that North Korea has begun dismantling its main missile-engine test site [Sohae Satellite Launching Station], a possible sign that Pyongyang is fulfilling the promises North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made to President Trump at the summit in Singapore last month.

Or is it simply taking the site apart and moving it somewhere else?  A lot of engine tests, after all, can be done underground.  Only time will tell.