War zones

This is the minor story of the moment at Drudge.

White House reviews military plans against Iran...
'Deploy 120,000 troops'...
SAUDI: OIL PIPELINE ATTACKED BY DRONES...
Mystery shrouds 'sabotage' of tankers...

This is the major story.

CHINA STRIKES BACK
DUMP TREASURIES?
FARMERS FEEL PAIN 
APPLE IN CROSSHAIRS

With the media, it’s hard to tell if it’s World War III, or a day in which there was nothing else about Mueller to beat up. But for me, if a tariff war with China is more newsworthy than a potential hot war in the Middle East, there really isn’t much going on.

China, China, China

David Archibald has been pointing towards a coming confrontation with China for quite a long time, and it seems that his concerns are reflected at the very top in the United States. Never mind what I or David say, this is what the new Acting American Secretary of Defence says.

Now that he is acting secretary of defense, the civilian Shanahan now has only one layer of command to defer to and can be his own man, it seems. For the first words from his mouth on taking command were “China, China, China” — no agonising over terrorists whose faith will not be named, no handwringing over global warming, no apologia for allies who shirk paying for their defense, and no histrionics on the subject of the impoverished kleptocracy that is Russia.  The Mattis era is over.

And if you go to the link in the para above, this is what you come to:
‘China, China, China’: Trump’s new Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan sets US defence priorities
. The article begins:

Patrick Shanahan, the acting US defence secretary, singled out China as a key priority in a “great power competition” on his first full day in his new role at the Pentagon on Wednesday, continuing a course set by his predecessor.

“While we are focused on ongoing operations, Acting Secretary Shanahan told the team to remember China, China, China,” an anonymous defence official was quoted as saying….

Shanahan provided his view of long-term competition with China and Russia while speaking at an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association event last February.

“We all hear about how our competitiveness has eroded,” Shanahan said. “Our strategy is about how to sharpen and strengthen our competitiveness.”

He told the audience that “there are no such things as fair competitions – there’s just competition”.

If this really is the real thing, worrying about deployment of a couple thousand in Syria is an absolute nothing.

Meanwhile, China is becoming more centre stage. These are minor items at Drudge today, but the issues are becoming more visible.

Xi Orders Military to ‘Enhance Combat Readiness’…
Tests its own ‘Mother of All Bombs’…
Chinese agents knock on doors, demand users delete tweets…

We certainly do live in interesting times.

The single most terrifying story you will ever see

If you think my title is over the top, watch the video. From the ABC of all things! The portrayal here is truly terrifying and should be circulated as widely as possible.

Last night, in a cab home from a late night venue, our driver was Chinese so I asked him about his background and how he was able to migrate to Australia. Turns out he is unemployable inside his own profession but with a degree in science. So I asked him about “social credit” and he went on about Mao and communism to the point where he reached my own levels of antipathy and disgust. All of which he had learned from his parents who, he said, he trusted since they were the ones who brought him his food, while he completely distrusted the lies he was fed in School and by the government of China. We sat in front of the house for ten minutes talking after we got home, and with the meter off. Actually tipped him and from my own money as well. Really, if this doesn’t scare people into some kind of sober reality, I don’t know what would.

China is marrying Big Brother to Big Data. Every citizen will be watched and their behaviour scored in the most ambitious and sophisticated system of social control in history. Matthew Carney reports.

And if you are not terrified by this you have no idea when to be frightened. Orwell was fiction. What they are doing in China is an actual present-day reality that any country can adopt since the technology and the methodology both already exist and will only keep getting better as time goes by.

And there’s more here: China has started ranking citizens with a creepy ‘social credit’ system — here’s what you can do wrong, and the embarrassing, demeaning ways they can punish you.

Not to mention this:

USA’s ‘first biometric terminal’ ready to go…

Is North Korea defying China?

The premise is that China is the road to influencing the North Koreans. But the way this is unfolding, it may well be that the North Koreans want to be friends not just with the rest of their nation to the south, but with the entire West itself.

First look at the picture above and then read this article for yourself and think about what the North Koreans, and even Kim, really want: U.S. team in North Korea for talks on summit, Trump says.

Now we have to find our what the Palestinians really want and who knows what is possible?

They have Trump surrounded the poor bastards

Read it all, of course, but this is one of the nicer parts. From Secretary Wilbur Ross Heading To China June 2nd through 4th – Likely Authorized To Strip Bamboo Forest…

This helps to understand how significant the economic aspects of the Trump Doctrine are to the geopolitical engagements with North Korea.

Chairman Xi has made a strategic decision in his adversarial approach toward President Trump.  Again, listen to the briefing by Secretary Pompeo – Panda China is telling him they too want to see peace, Korean stability and denuclearization.  However, Dragon China is using the panda mask, and simultaneously leveraging Chairman Kim to aid their trade objectives.

Beijing has made a fatal mistake; they have exposed too much dragon face and did not expect President Trump to call them out on it publicly.

Secretary Ross now heads to China with •Steel and Aluminum tariffs; •auto-sector 232 evaluations; •intellectual property penalties; •over $150 billion in additional trade sanctions/tariffs pending; •and financial sanctions against Chinese banks as economic arrows in his dragon slaying quiver.

Don’t doubt for a minute that based on Chairman Xi’s maneuver with Chairman Kim, Wolverine Ross is not about to fire one -or several- of those arrows directly into the heart of Beijing.

Chairman Xi made a strategic mistake.  Xi genuinely has no idea the level of hurt President Trump is looking for an excuse to deliver.  Things are fixing to get ‘Old-School’.

Hope so. Our way of life is better than anyone’s with the economic benefits only the start of it.

The object of power is power

“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

                       George Orwell: Nineteen-Eighty Four

Two items have just shown up in my inbox, reminding me that the love of political power is the strongest force in human life whose effects drive agendas we normals can never understand. First Mark Steyn on Tinker, Tailor, Clapper, Carter, Downer, Halper, Spy which translated comes down to this:

Brennan and Clapper and Comey and McCabe. They took tools designed to combat America’s foreign enemies and used them against their own citizens and their political opposition. It was an intentional subversion of the electoral process conducted at the highest level by agencies with almost unlimited power. And, if they get away with it, they will do it again, and again and again. That’s what Brennan’s telling us on Twitter and Clapper on “The View”:

Yeah? So what? Whatcha gonna do about it?

Good question.

And then there’s this: T Minus Two Years for a War with China. And its conclusion:

After the war with China has started, whether in 2020 or a bit delayed, we are likely to say to ourselves that if we had known that was coming, we would have done things differently over the last two years. One important thing we should be doing right now is to have as little as possible to do with China, neither importing what they make nor letting them into the country. One of the first things the Trump administration did was to ban entry by people from countries that were sources of Muslim terrorists. China is setting out to kill a lot more Americans than the Muslims ever will. Proceed accordingly.

Things are never as clear looking ahead as looking back, and they’re not all that clear looking back either.

“It would be a great thing to have a good relationship with Russia, Trump said”

PDT is afraid of nothing. Here they are, out to railroad his presidency because of some alleged form of pre-election collaboration with Putin and Russia, and here he is, just yesterday, collaborating with Putin and the Russians: Putin and Trump talk Syria, election meddling at brief meeting. The US and Russia working together against a common enemy works for me, and apparently for them as well.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed a statement on Syria during a brief meeting at a summit in Vietnam on Saturday and Putin again dismissed allegations of meddling in last year’s U.S. election.

And walking into the media-Democrat Lion’s den, this is how the article ends.

“It would be a great thing to have a good relationship with Russia,” Trump said.

It would indeed. It would be great if the relationship between Russia and the United States could somehow be reset. It would be a true benefit if the President could have more flexibility now that the election is over, if you know what I mean, which no Democrat following the party line would ever do.

And then there’s this, in late-breaking news: South Korea, China agree to manage North Korea issue peacefully, in stable manner. It would be great to have a good relationship with China too.

Some positive news about the Chinese economy

Here’s the story: China likely to drag the world into global recession, Citigroup says. Here’s how it begins:

China is sliding into recession and the leadership will not respond quickly enough with large-scale fiscal policies that could avoid a major slowdown and stimulate demand, Citigroup’s top economist Willem Buiter said.

The only thing to stop a Chinese recession, which the former external member of the Bank of England defines as 4 per cent growth on “the mendacious official data” for a year, is a consumption-oriented fiscal stimulus program funded by central government and monetised by the People’s Bank of China, Buiter said.

“Despite the economy crying out for it, the Chinese leadership is not ready for this,” said Buiter, the man who coined the term “Grexit” during the Greek debt crisis.

So what is positive about that, you might ask. If it is a deliberate decision not to reflate but to go through the adjustment that is obviously required, there will be about a year of mess, possibly not even that, and growth will resume on a stronger basis. It will also be a sign that the Chinese leadership understand how useless Keynesian economic theory is and are now biting the bullet and will endure the pain of the next twelve months. This is all speculation from both Mr Buiter and myself, but it will be interesting to see how things do unfold. If there really is a recession and no stimulus and the Chinese economy comes out of it in 2016-17 stronger than ever, we will be re-writing our textbooks without any doubt.

Is there a coming war with China?

David Archibald has been saying this for as long as I can remember. This is from a year ago, from a year ago:

China has built an offshore oil drilling rig, numbered HD-981, specifically for the purpose invalidating other nations’ claims to seabed they thought was theirs. There is no doubt about the purpose of the rig given that a Chinese state oil company official once called it “our mobile national territory.” Its primary purpose isn’t commercial. If China can drill an oil well on some other country’s seabed, they can then claim that it was China’s territory all along. The rig is having its first outing to that purpose off the coast of Vietnam, accompanied by 86 Chinese vessels including a submarine. Vietnam responded by sending 30 coastguard vessels to interfere with the Chinese drilling rig. Ramming of Vietnamese vessels by the Chinese ones has been reported.

Miscalculation might not lead to war because there is nothing miscalculated about what China is doing. China intends to start a war.

As far as Archibald was concerned, this war was inevitable. Then yesterday, we had this at Drudge from The Telegraph in London, US-China war ‘inevitable’ unless Washington drops demands over South China Sea. This is how the story starts:

China has vowed to step up its presence in the South China Sea in a provocative new military white paper, amid warnings that a US-China war is “inevitable” unless Washington drops its objections to Beijing’s activities.

And we are right in the thick of it. From The AFR again yesterday, China using Brazil resources as lever against Australia:

China will use its growing relationship with Brazil to pressure Australia into running a more independent foreign policy, according to analysts and academics, as Beijing seeks to use its economic muscle for strategic influence.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang signed $US50 billion ($63.5 billion) worth of deals during a state visit to Brazil last week, including a loan facility to help iron ore miner Vale increase production.

In a sign that Beijing is increasingly looking towards Brazil for food and mineral commodities, China also pledged to lift a ban on Brazilian beef.

“If Australia gets closer to the United States we will see China increase its purchases from Brazil, while reducing its trade with Australia,” said Wu Xinbo, Dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University.

“The alliance between Australia and the US is a major constraint on the relationship between China and Australia.”

And now today, picked up at Drudge: Japan to join U.S., Australia war games amid growing China tensions.

Japan will join a major U.S.-Australian military exercise for the first time in a sign of growing security links between the three countries as tensions fester over China’s island building in the South China Sea.

While only 40 Japanese officers and soldiers will take part in drills involving 30,000 U.S. and Australian troops in early July, experts said the move showed how Washington wanted to foster cooperation among its security allies in Asia.

It’s a very messy world out there. I hope someone is paying attention.

Without God, people can do as they please

china christianity

One of the most enlightening books I have ever come across was The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark. And at the very end of this book there is a quote from a Chinese scholar who had been part of an investigation into the causes of Western economic success. This is a direct quote of what this Chinese scholar had said:

One of the things we were asked to look at was the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West, all over the world. We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years we have realised that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West is so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.

I was reminded of this by an article in London’s The Telegraph with the self-explanatory heading, China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years. And while you may be sure the Chinese government has been keeping a watchful eye on where this might go, they have also not been attempting to stamp it out. And there are reasons for this, in keeping with that earlier study:

Some officials argue that religious groups can provide social services the government cannot, while simultaneously helping reverse a growing moral crisis in a land where cash, not Communism, has now become king.

They appear to agree with David Cameron, the British prime minister, who said last week that Christianity could help boost Britain’s “spiritual, physical and moral” state.

Ms Shi, Liushi’s preacher, who is careful to describe her church as “patriotic”, said: “We have two motivations: one is our gospel mission and the other is serving society. Christianity can also play a role in maintaining peace and stability in society. Without God, people can do as they please.”

In place of a moral order we now have political correctness and the pagan religion of Gaia and the environment. China, meanwhile, may become a Christian nation as we in the West depart from what may be the single most important part of the inheritance we have.