Sunday, March 29, 2015

5 + 1


For John, BLUFIt is better to be talking than to be fighting, as Winston Churchill pointed out.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Remember the Fabled 47 Senators and their "Open Letter" to the Iranian Leadership?  The ones who brought down some much hate and discontent on their heads?  Logan Act and all that?  Turns out they are not President Obama's biggest problem in cutting some sort of a nuclear deal with Iran.  No, that would be French President Hollande.

From The Daly Mail (London) the other day we have "France tells UN 'insufficient' progress in Iran nuclear talks".  Wait—This isn't just between the US Administration and the Iranians?  Apparently not in the mind of Reporter Michelle Nichols.  The lede:

France warned on Tuesday that "insufficient" progress has been made toward a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers with specific disparities over research and development and the issue of sanctions.

"Iran must now make difficult choices if it truly wishes to regain the trust of the international community," French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre told a United Nations Security Council meeting on U.N. sanctions on Iran.

Apparently it isn't all about SecState John Forbes Kerry and President Obama.

And, there is the issue of how this and other such Executive Agreements are changing the nature of our Constitution.  I put a lot of this on Congress.

The idea that the Administration will launder this Agreement through the United Nations to avoid Senate approval and perhaps Congressional oversight strikes me as wrong.  It is transforming how we do foreign policy, and maybe domestic policy, without the consent of Congress.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The ones who I said the whiners should DEMAND indictments under the Logan Act?

A critique of the WH Handling of the Bergdahl Case


For John, BLUFA question one might ask is if this White House lives in the moment, without consideration for long term consequences?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



An OpEd for The LA Times, by a Mr John R Schindler, is headlined "How the White House bungled the Bowe Bergdahl case".

Here is the nub of the story, and a position I hold.

It is admirable to bring POWs home, no matter how they wound up in enemy hands, and charlatans deserve to come home as much as heroes do.  Taliban captivity is a terrible experience.  Yet it is not admirable to turn a possible deserter into some sort of public hero.
Here is the OpEd final paragraph.  Yes, he lets the White House slide, by passing judgement off to future historians, but he does suggest it will not be treated kindly in this matter, if it comes up.
Why this White House chose to handle the Bergdahl case in such an inept manner, despite ample information indicating its official narrative was, at the least, highly selective, is a matter for future historians to ponder.
Regards  —  Cliff

Eurozone Problems


For John, BLUFIt is Sunday and time to think big thoughts.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Telegraph, out of London, where national elections in early May make Europe a hot topic, we have "Eurozone can't survive in current form, says PIMCO".  (PIMCO is Pacific Investment Management Company)  The reporter is Szu Ping Chan.  The subheadline is:
Single currency area must become a "United States of Europe" in order to secure its future, says manager of world's largest bond fund
Here is the front end of the article.
The eurozone is "untenable" in its current form and cannot survive unless countries are prepared to cede sovereignty and become a "United States of Europe", the manager of the world's biggest bond fund has warned.

The Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO) said that while the bloc was likely to stay together in the medium term, with Greece remaining in the eurozone, the single currency could not survive if countries did not move closer together.

Persistently weak growth in the eurozone had led to voter unrest and the rise of populist parties such as Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, and Front National in France, said PIMCO managing directors Andrew Bosomworth and Mike Amey.

"The lesson from history is that the status quo we have now is not a tenable structure," said Mr Bosomworth. "There's no historical precedent that this sort of structure, which is centralised monetary policy, decentralised fiscal policy, can last over multiple decades."

Mr Bosomworth notes that when the Scandinavian nations tried this in the 19th Century it only made it for 50 years.
Mario Monti, the former prime minister of Italy, said last week that France was Europe's "big problem" because anti-EU sentiment there threatened to destroy the bloc's Franco-German axis.

PIMCO said France's inflexible labour market meant it was "lagging behind" other countries such as Spain and Ireland, which had implemented structural reforms.

Mr Bosomworth, who is head of portfolio management in Germany, said there was too much at stake for the eurozone to force Greece out. "It's a bit like nuclear warfare. Actually doing it is so disastrous that you don't," he said.

And, there were local elections last weekend in France and the Party of Ms Marine le Pen did well, as explained by Ms Stephanie Pezard (Rand Corp) in this War on the Rocks article—The Front National and the Future of French Foreign Policy.  To capture the Flavor of the French Front National, think of the Republican Party, as described by the Progressive wing of the US Democrat Party.  Or the Southern Wing of the Democrat Party up through 1972.
Sunday’s elections gave the French extreme-right party Front National the highest percentage of votes it ever achieved in a local election.  With 26 percent of the votes, the Front National confirms that it is in the ascendant and its leader, Marine le Pen, stands well-positioned as a strong contender in France’s presidential elections in 2017.  Should this be of concern mostly to the French, or do the Front National’s current and, possibly, future successes have implications for France’s partners and allies in Europe and beyond?

Less than two weeks after the deadly attacks in Paris against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, Marine le Pen, the leader of the Front National, enumerated in an op-ed in The New York Times a few of her party’s pet peeves:  the Schengen Agreement that opened up borders within the European Union, French immigration policies, and her country’s “serious geopolitical incoherence” due to misguided foreign interventions and the influence of foreign countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia on French policy.

It is no coincidence that her condemnation of French foreign policy comes last, and focuses on a hotchpotch of elements almost as incoherent as the French policy it denounces.  The Front National has built its constituency around domestic issues – security and immigration policy – first and foremost . Le Pen’s platform for the 2012 presidential election barely touches upon foreign policy issues, except in relation to the EU and to advocate for France pulling out of NATO’s integrated command. Front National voters were unlikely to be bothered by this oversight.  A March 2014 poll showed that, compared with others, respondents who voted for Le Pen in 2012 were less prone to having conversations with relatives or colleagues on the foreign policy issues of the moment than domestic ones.

So a rabid French Nationalist comes to The New York Times to publish her issue positions.  That might mean that she needs to assault the French media from the outside in order to penetrate the more establishment outlook within the French media.  Clever idea.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Schengen Agreement is about border controls, which, within the area, are relaxed to a considerable extent, thus creating in essence a single nation for travel and transportation of goods.  It is all of the European Union, less the UK and Ireland, plus a number of other Western European nations.  So, a refugee from North Africa, having landed in Italy, can travel freely almost anywhere in Continental Western Europe.

Lactose Priviledge


For John, BLUFThe "payoff" is in the very short article.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Forget "White Priviledge", the key factor may be "Lactose Priviledge".  Well, if you believe Justin Cook of the University of California, Merced. "No use crying:  The ability to digest milk may explain how Europe got rich".  From The Economist.  Here is the lede.
HUMANS can digest lactose, the main carbohydrate in milk, only with the help of an enzyme called lactase.  But two-thirds of people stop producing it after they have been weaned.  The lucky third—those with “lactase persistence”—continue to produce it into adulthood.  A recent paper* argues that this genetic quirk helps explain why some countries are rich and others poor.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

* “The role of lactase persistence in pre-colonial development”, by C. Justin Cook, Journal of Economic Growth, December 2014.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Out to the Hustings


For John, BLUFI'm for Cameron, but then I am a real Liberal.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The International New York Times we have "Britain:  Labour Leader Starts Bid for Prime Minister".  The election, Thursday, 7 May, is not that far away.  Oh, The Old Grey Lady blames Reuters for this story.
Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party, began his campaign on Friday to become Britain’s next prime minister with a plan to protect the treasured but expensive National Health Service and a swipe at private businesses that profit from the state-funded system. Polls have Labour tied with Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party six weeks ahead of the May 7 vote. It is set to be the tightest election in decades, and the outcome could influence whether Britain leaves the European Union or Scotland begins a fresh bid for independence. Voters rank the National Health Service as a crucial election issue, polls show, and Mr. Miliband kicked off his campaign with a tub-thumping speech.
Ed Miliband.  Not his brother David.  The incumbent Prime Minister is David Cameron.

There could be consequences from this election, as the article notes.

If you want to follow the lower side of the election, go to Order-Order and see what Guido Fawkes has to say.  If you win the Caption Contest you would win a copy of God and Mrs Thatcher

Regards  —  Cliff

The Iran Negotiations Outcome


For John, BLUFI am hoping JFK can pull a rabbit out of the hat.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I was looking for my bookmark for Order, Order when I saw Great Satan's Girlfriend and decided to have a peak.  Here was the top item:
To Stop Iran…

May have to gird our loins and commence bombing!

This is the short version, with better graphics, of the John Bolton OpEd in The New York Times, "To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran". I don't agree on bombing Iran, but I do agree that we could be facing nuclear proliferation.  Just ask Great Satan's Girlfriend.  Or Ambassador John Bolton.

On the other hand, with a secure retaliation capability, deterrence should work, assuming no bombs slip into the hands of terrorists.  This is where proliferation of US technology could help.

Regards  —  Cliff

Our Allies Outside NATO


For John, BLUF"Friends" and "Allies" are not different words for the same relationship.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The below piece of legalese surfaced [elsewhere] when a question was asked as to if the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was a US ally:
§ 120.32 Major non-NATO ally.
Major non-NATO ally, as defined in section 644(q) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2403(q)), means a country that is designated in accordance with section 517 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2321(k)) as a major non-NATO ally for purposes of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq. and 22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.).  The following countries are designated as major non-NATO allies:  Afghanistan (see§ 126.1(g) of this subchapter), Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Republic of Korea.  Taiwan shall be treated as though it were designated a major non-NATO ally.
[77 FR 76865, Dec. 31, 2012]
As can be seen, there answer is no.  Remember, this is about the Foreign Assistance Act.  There are anomalies, such as Argentina, the only Latin American nation on the list.  And, both Egypt and Israel are on the list.  Jordan and Kuwait, but not Saudi Arabia.  Pakistan is there, but not India.  (That is an issue that we should be working.)  And, of course, Taiwan is a special case.

More than you wanted to know.

Regards  —  Cliff