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September 26, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-074

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-074

Posted by b at 13:33 UTC | Comments (43)

September 25, 2021

The Release Of Meng Wanzhou's Is A Small But Decisive Victory For China

The U.S. has given in to the Chinese demand to end its hostage holding of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou:

A plane believed to be carrying Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou took off from the Vancouver airport on Friday, marking a new stage in a legal saga that ensnared Canada — and two of its citizens — in a dispute between the U.S. and Chinese governments.

A B.C. court decided on Friday that the extradition case against Meng would be dropped after the Huawei chief financial officer reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government.

Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the two Canadian citizens who were detained in China just days after Meng's arrest in Vancouver, are now on their way back Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Friday evening.

The U.S. had accused Meng Wanzhou of misleading the opium dealer bank HSBC about Huawei's relation with a local entity in Iran. This, the U.S. claimed, had led to breach by HSBC of its unilateral sanctions against Iran.

This was a constructed crime with the only evidence being some wording on one page of a longer power point slideshow which Meng Wanzhou surely had not edited herself.

The deferred prosecution agreement seems to admit that:

As part of her arrangement with U.S. prosecutors, Meng pleaded not guilty in a court Friday to multiple fraud charges.

The Huawei chief financial officer entered the plea during a virtual appearance in a New York courtroom. She was charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud more than two and a half years ago.
...
The agreed statement of facts from Friday's U.S. court appearance said that Meng told a global financial institution that a company operating in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions was a "local partner" of Huawei when in fact it was a subsidiary of Huawei.

The deferred prosecution agreement does not included any admission of wrongdoing, just an agreement on the facts.

The whole case was constructed and the arrest arranged by John Bolton when he was National Security Advisor under then President Donald Trump:

Cont. reading: The Release Of Meng Wanzhou's Is A Small But Decisive Victory For China

Posted by b at 17:04 UTC | Comments (114)

September 24, 2021

NY Times Acknowledges U.S. Failure In Russia - Adds More To What Caused It

The U.S. finally acknowledges the utter defeat of its major manipulation strategy in Russia.

The news comes in form of a New York Times analysis of Russia's recent Duma election.

The core sentence:

Dismal results for the opposition in an election last weekend that was not free or fair only drove home a mood of defeat. The election underscored the grim reality that Russia’s pro-Western and pro-democratic opposition, a focus of American and other Western countries’ policy toward Russia for years now, has no visible strategy to regain relevance.

All the millions of dollars invested and thousands of CIA framed 'news' reports about Russia's opposition launched in 'western' outlets like the NY Times have been in vain.

One would think that the above insight would lead to some reflection about how or why the strategy has failed.

  • Was it probably wrong to support 'liberal' clowns like Navalny who are actually too fascist to be acceptable to more than 2% of the Russian electorate?
  • Was there a way to achieve a different outcome by looking at the real problems Russians have with Putin's neo-liberal economic policies?
  • Was is false to pay no attention to the real opposition in Russia, the one that gets real votes?

Unfortunately the rest of the piece shows that the NY Times author is unable to discuss or to even ask such questions. He instead continues with false claims about Russia's democratic system:

The Central Election Commission reported — as usual after Russian elections — a landslide for parties and politicians loyal to President Vladimir V. Putin. The vote in parliamentary elections cleared a seemingly easy path for Mr. Putin to seek a fifth term as president in 2024.

There was no such landslide for parties and politicians loyal to Putin.

Cont. reading: NY Times Acknowledges U.S. Failure In Russia - Adds More To What Caused It

Posted by b at 18:04 UTC | Comments (155)

September 23, 2021

Heads Roll As Biden Policies Move To The Right

The Washington Post has a piece on the current deportation of Haitian migrants from the U.S. and how it is charged with racism.

Charges of racism swirl as Haitian Americans, allies unite to protest Biden’s border crisis

One sentence in the piece reveals the supremacist thinking of its authors:

Many in the Haitian American community also blame U.S. foreign policy for spurring Haiti’s humanitarian crisis, saying successive administrations have failed to nurture stable Haitian governments willing to embrace human rights and fight corruption, poverty and criminal gangs.

No one is quoted in support of that delirious claim.

It is not the task of U.S. administrations to "nurture stable Haitian governments" nor has it ever been its aim. The U.S. has in fact done the opposite for more than 100 years and everyone in the Haitian community knows that.

Today its envoy to Haiti resigned over exactly that:

A top U.S. envoy to Haiti tendered his resignation on Wednesday, citing the Biden administration's "inhumane" effort to expel hundreds of Haitian migrants to their home country, which is recovering from a deadly earthquake and plagued by political instability, widespread insecurity and crippling poverty.

Ambassador Daniel Foote, who was chosen to be the U.S. special envoy to Haiti in July, called the Biden administration's policy in Haiti "deeply flawed," saying his recommendations were brushed aside.

"I will not be associated with the United States['] inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life," Foote wrote in his resignation letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, which was obtained by CBS News.

Foote's resignation letter (also here) includes some words the State Department establishment does not like to hear:

Cont. reading: Heads Roll As Biden Policies Move To The Right

Posted by b at 17:40 UTC | Comments (91)

September 22, 2021

Open Thread 2021-73

News & views ...

Posted by b at 17:27 UTC | Comments (283)

September 21, 2021

"What Happens When China Becomes Number One?"

Kishore Mahbubani is an experienced Singaporean civil servant. He later became Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

In 2015 he gave a talk at the Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics under the title "What Happens When China Becomes Number One?"

The video of the talk was uploaded earlier this year. The interesting part starts at 28:00 min where he begins to show a proverbial mirror to the audience.

He ends his talk with this:

Would the United States be comfortable living in a world where China behaves just like America did when it was the sole superpower?

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Unfortunately U.S. President Joe Biden did not reflect on that question. In his speech today, before the United Nations General Assembly, he again displayed an unnecessary aggressive posture towards China:

Mr. Biden said the world faced a choice between the democratic values espoused by the West and the disregard for them by China and other authoritarian governments.

“The future belongs to those who give their people the ability to breathe free, not those who seek to suffocate their people with an iron hand authoritarianism,” he said. “The authoritarians of the world, they seek to proclaim the end of the age of democracy, but they’re wrong.”

But the president vowed not to pursue a new era of sustained conflict with countries like China, saying that the United States would “compete vigorously and lead with our values and our strength to stand up for our allies and our friends.”

“We’re not seeking — say it again, we are not seeking — a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocks,” he said.

To which Blake Hounshell correctly replies:

Blake News @blakehounshell - 14:55 UTC · Sep 21, 2021

Nobody ever says,
“I am seeking a new Cold War.”

I would also add that 650,000 people in the U.S. have lost their "ability to breathe free" over the last eighteen months while China has successfully suppressed the pandemic. Are 'democratic' or 'authoritarian' the right criteria for judging that difference?

In an answer to a question after his talk Mahbubani, who believes that China will soon be number one, he explains (58:00 min):

Unlike the United States of America the Chinese do not believe in proselytizing their beliefs. ... So in a sense we will have a very different world when the world's number one power is no longer a missionary power.

I for one hope for that.

h/t agitpapa

Posted by b at 17:11 UTC | Comments (166)

September 20, 2021

The Fallout From The AUKUS Deal

The AUKUS deal allowed Australia to cancel an order for diesel driven submarines from France by taking up a U.S. and British offer to eventually acquire nuclear driven submarines.

It is not clear at all that Australia will find the money to actually pay for nuclear submarines. These are 50-100% more expensive that conventional ones. Australia also wants to make sure that at least 60% of the price flows back to Australian manufacturing. But there are no companies in Australia who have experience with work on nuclear technology. It is also unlikely that the U.S. or UK would let Australia gain such capacity.

There is also little chance that any of the envisioned new boats will be ready before 2040. By then Taiwan will likely be under Beijing's control and the naval primacy of China in the South China Sea will only have grown. The so far declared time frame and purpose of those boats is thereby questionable.

That may well be because the real plan is a different one:

The short-term leasing of nuclear-powered submarines from the UK or the US is being considered by the Morrison government but the Coalition insists nuclear weapons won’t be based in Australia.

The finance minister, Simon Birmingham, and the defence minister, Peter Dutton, confirmed in seperate interviews on Sunday that leasing submarines from the Aukus allies could be a stop-gap solution until Australia takes delivery of its own – potentially in the 2040s.

“The short answer is yes,” Dutton said when asked on Sky News about leasing vessels.

Birmingham said leasing arrangements would not necessarily “increase the number of submarines and the capability across all of the partner nations” but would help with training and information sharing.

“Doing so may provide opportunities for us to train our sailors, provide the skills and knowledge in terms of how we operate,” he told the ABC.

[It would help] provide the platforms for us to upgrade the infrastructure in Perth, that will be necessary for the operation of these submarines. I expect we will see … lease arrangements or greater joint operations between our navies in the future that sees our sailors working more closely and indeed, potentially on UK and US vessels to get that skills and training and knowledge.”

Perth will thereby be build up into a base that is compatible with the likely permanent stationing of U.S. nuclear submarines. These carry nuclear weapons.

Cont. reading: The Fallout From The AUKUS Deal

Posted by b at 18:22 UTC | Comments (232)

September 19, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-072

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-072

Posted by b at 14:02 UTC | Comments (275)

September 17, 2021

How Jake Sullivan Screwed Up U.S. Relations With France

After reporters in a news room have written up a story it goes to editors who check it, provide a headline and often also rewrite the opening paragraph(s). The piece then  gets published.

That process at times leads to headlines and/or opening paragraphs which contradict the rest of the story. This can happen because the editor is in a rush and has not had the time to really digest a story. At other times it happens because the editor lets his personal political leaning, or a special preference for an involved person, shine through.

This seems to be the case with a New York Times story about the U.S. induced Australian cancelling of a deal to buy French submarines.

The United States says it gave France only a few hours’ notice of defense deal that Paris called a ‘knife in the back.’
By Michael D. Shear and Roger Cohen

The United States acknowledged on Thursday that it only gave France a few hours’ notice of its deal to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, a move that French officials have denounced as a major betrayal by one of its closest allies.

After the headline and the first paragraph any reader will assume that the U.S. indeed informed France a few hours before the deal became public.

That however is an outright lie as paragraph 11 and 12 of the very same piece provide:

Philippe Étienne, the French ambassador to the United States and the host of the party, said on Thursday that he learned about the deal from news reports, followed by a call from Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser to Mr. Biden.

A senior American official said that the Biden administration had made efforts to inform the French government about the president’s announcement earlier Wednesday morning, but had been unable to schedule the discussions with their French counterparts before the news reports appeared online.

The U.S. did not say "it gave France only a few hours’ notice". The U.S. did not acknowledge "on Thursday that it only gave France a few hours’ notice of its deal".

The U.S. did the opposite of what the headline and opening graph of the NYT story claim.

"A senior American official" acknowledged that the National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan screwed up and informed France only after Politico published the first report on the deal on Wednesday September 15 at 8:55 am.

Sullivan in fact cowardly avoided to tell France about the deal as a separate NYT piece by Roger Cohen provides:

Cont. reading: How Jake Sullivan Screwed Up U.S. Relations With France

Posted by b at 18:04 UTC | Comments (225)

September 16, 2021

To Protect Itself From U.S. Hostility Australia Decides To Buy U.S. Submarines

Yesterday the U.S., the UK and Australia announced that the later one will buy nuclear powered submarines to do the U.S.' bidding against China:

Australia's next submarine fleet will be nuclear-powered under an audacious plan that will see a controversial $90 billion program to build up to 12 French-designed submarines scrapped.

The ABC understands Australia will use American and British technology to configure its next submarine fleet in a bid to replace its existing Collins class subs with a boat more suitable to the deteriorating strategic environment.

This is a huge but short term win for the U.S. with an also-ran booby price for Britain and a strategic loss of sovereignty and budget control for Australia.

It is another U.S. slap into the face of France and the European Union. The deal will piss off New Zealand, Indonesia and of course China. It will upset the international nuclear non proliferation regime and may lead to the further military nuclearization of South Korea and Japan.

Australia currently has 6 Collins class submarines. These are diesel driven boats based on Swedish designs but partially build in Australia. These boats are relatively slow and have a medium range and endurance. They were built between 1990 and 2003 and are mostly for defensive use. There were lots of trouble during the building of the boats as Australia lacks the technical capabilities and industrial depth to make such complicate products. The operational history of boats is also rather mixed with several scandals following each other. The boats are supposed to be upgraded to be in use for another decade.

In the 2010s Australia began to look for a new generation of submarines. After a long discussion it decided to stick to conventionally powered boats. The new subs were again to be build in Australia after a foreign design.

Germany, Japan and France were asked for proposals. The French state owned ship builder Naval Group (DCNS) won the race for 12 new boats and the €50 billion contract. Ironically the French conventionally driven Shortfin Barracuda design France offered is based on its own nuclear driven Barracuda class design. For Australia France had therefore to design a conventional power plant for a submarine that was originally designed, as all French subs are, to run on a nuclear reactor with low enriched uranium (LEU). It was quite obvious that this unusual conversion would run into difficulties and time delays.

Back in June Peter Lee, aka Chinahand, wrote about the delayed program:

Cont. reading: To Protect Itself From U.S. Hostility Australia Decides To Buy U.S. Submarines

Posted by b at 17:27 UTC | Comments (263)