Posted by DanielS on Sunday, 12 February 2017 08:49.
TomDispatch: “Is President Trump Headed for a War with China?” All Options Are “On The Table” - Rajan Menon, 12 Feb 2017:
Forget those “bad hombres down there” in Mexico that U.S. troops might take out. Ignore the way National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice” and the new president insisted, that, when it comes to that country, “nothing is off the table.” Instead, focus for a moment on something truly scary: the possibility that Donald Trump’s Washington might slide into an actual war with the planet’s rising superpower, China. No kidding. It could really happen.
Let’s start with silver-maned, stately Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state. Who could deny that the former ExxonMobil CEO has a foreign minister’s bearing? Trump reportedly chose him over neocon firebrand John Bolton partly for that reason. (Among other things, Bolton was mustachioed, something the new president apparently doesn’t care for.) But an august persona can only do so much; it can’t offset a lack of professional diplomatic experience.
That became all-too-apparent during Tillerson’s January 11th confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was asked for his view on the military infrastructure China has been creating on various islands in the South China Sea, the ownership of which other Asian countries, including Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei claim as well . China’s actions, he replied, were “extremely worrisome,” likening them to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, an infraction for which Russia was slapped with economic sanctions.
The then-secretary-of-state-designate — he’s since been confirmed, despite many negative votes — didn’t, however, stop there. Evidently, he wanted to communicate to the Chinese leadership in Beijing that the new administration was already irked beyond measure with them. So he added, “We’re going to have to send China’s leaders a clear signal: that, first, the island building stops and, second, your access to those islands is not going to be allowed.” Functionally, that fell little short of being an announcement of a future act of war, since not allowing “access” to those islands would clearly involve military moves. In what amounted to a there’s-a-new-sheriff-in-town warning, he then doubled down yet again, insisting, slightly incoherently (in the tradition of his new boss) that “the failure of a response has allowed them to just keep pushing the envelope on this.”
All right, so maybe a novice had a bad day. Maybe the secretary-of-state-to-be simply ad-libbed and misspoke… whatever. If so, you might have expected a later clarification from him or from someone on the Trump national security team anyway.
That didn’t happen; instead, that team stuck to its guns. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made no effort to add nuance to, let alone walk back, Tillerson’s remarks. During his first official press briefing on January 23rd, Spicer declared that the United States “is going to make sure we defend our interests there” — in the South China Sea, that is — and that “if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yes, we are going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”
And what of Trump’s own views on the island controversy? Never one to pass up an opportunity for hyperbole, during the presidential campaign he swore that, on those tiny islands, China was building “a military fortress the likes of which the world has not seen.” As it happened, he wasn’t speaking about, say, the forces that Hitler massed for the ill-fated Operation Barbarossa, launched in June 1941 with the aim of crushing the Red Army and the Soviet Union, or those deployed for the June 1944 Normandy landing, which sealed Nazi Germany’s fate. When applied to what China has been up to in the South China Sea, his statement fell instantly into the not-yet-named category of “alternative facts.”
Candidate Trump also let it be known that he wouldn’t allow Beijing to get away with such cheekiness on his watch. Why had the Chinese engaged in military construction on the islands? Trump had a simple answer (as he invariably does): China “has no respect for our president and no respect for our country.” The implication was evident. Things would be different once he settled into the White House and made America great again. Then — it was easy enough to conclude — China had better watch out.
Standard campaign bombast? Well, Trump hasn’t changed his tune a bit since being elected. On December 4th, using (of course!) his Twitter account, he blasted Beijing for having built “a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea.” And it’s safe to assume that he signed off on Spicer’s combative comments as well.
In short, his administration has already drawn a red line — but in the way a petulant child might with a crayon. During and after the campaign he made much of his determination to regain the respect he claims the U.S. has lost in the world, notably from adversaries like China. The danger here is that, in dealing with that country, Trump could, as is typical, make it all about himself, all about “winning,” one of his most beloved words, and disaster might follow.
A military clash between Trump-led America and a China led by President Xi Jinping? Understanding how it might happen requires a brief detour to the place where it’s most likely to occur: the South China Sea. Our first task: to understand China’s position on that body of water and the islands it contains, as well as the nature of Beijing’s military projects there. So brace yourself for some necessary detail.
As Marina Tsirbas, a former diplomat now at the Australian National University’s National Security College, explains, Beijing’s written and verbal statements on the South China Sea lend themselves to two different interpretations. The Chinese government’s position boils down to something like this: “We own everything — the waters, islands and reefs, marine resources, and energy and mineral deposits — within the Nine-Dash Line.” That demarcation line, which incidentally has had ten dashes, and sometimes eleven, originally appeared in 1947 maps of the Republic of China, the Nationalist government that would soon flee to the island of Taiwan leaving the Chinese Communists in charge of the mainland. When Mao Ze Dong and his associates established the People’s Republic, they retained that Nationalist map and the demarcation line that went with it, which just happened to enclose virtually all of the South China Sea, claiming sovereign rights.
This stance — think of it as Beijing’s hard line on the subject — raises instant questions about other countries’ navigation and overflight rights through that much-used region. In essence, do they have any and, if so, will Beijing alone be the one to define what those are? And will those definitions start to change as China becomes ever more powerful? These are hardly trivial concerns, given that about $5 trillion worth of goods pass through the South China Sea annually.
Then there’s what might be called Beijing’s softer line, based on rights accorded by the legal concepts of the territorial sea and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which took effect in 1994 and has been signed by 167 states (including China but not the United States), a country has sovereign control within 12 nautical miles of its coast as well as of land formations in that perimeter visible at high tide. But other countries have the right of “innocent passage.” The EEZ goes further. It provides a rightful claimant control over access to fishing, as well as seabed and subsoil natural resources , within “an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea” extending 200 nautical miles, while ensuring other states’ freedom of passage by air and sea. UNCLOS also gives a state with an EEZ control over “the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures” within that zone — an important provision at our present moment.
What makes all of this so much more complicated is that many of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea that provide the basis for defining China’s EEZ are also claimed by other countries under the terms of UNCLOS. That, of course, immediately raises questions about the legality of Beijing’s military construction projects in that watery expanse on islands, atolls, and strips of land it’s dredging into existence, as well as its claims to seabed energy resources, fishing rights, and land reclamation rights there — to say nothing about its willingness to seize some of them by force, rival claims be damned.
Subi Reef, being built into an artificial island-landing strip in 2015
Moreover, figuring out which of these two positions — hard or soft — China embraces at any moment is tricky indeed. Beijing, for instance, insists that it upholds freedom of navigation and overflight rights in the Sea, but it has also said that these rights don’t apply to warships and military aircraft. In recent years its warplanes have intercepted, and at close quarters, American military aircraft flying outside Chinese territorial waters in the same region. Similarly, in 2015, Chinese aircraft and ships followed and issued warnings to an American warship off Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands, which both China and Vietnam claim in their entirety. This past December, its Navy seized, but later returned, an underwater drone the American naval ship Bowditch had been operating near the coast of the Philippines.
There were similar incidents in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2013, and 2014. In the second of these episodes, a Chinese fighter jet collided with a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane, which had a crew of 24 on board, less than 70 miles off Hainan island, forcing it to make an emergency landing in China and creating a tense standoff between Beijing and Washington. The Chinese detained the crew for 11 days. They disassembled the EP-3, returning it three months later in pieces.
Such muscle flexing in the South China Sea isn’t new. China has long been tough on its weaker neighbors in those waters. Back in 1974, for instance, its forces ejected South Vietnamese troops from parts of the Paracel/Xisha islands that Beijing claimed but did not yet control. China has also backed up its claim to the Spratly/Nansha islands (which Taiwan, Vietnam, and other regional countries reject) with air and naval patrols, tough talk, and more. In 1988, it forcibly occupied the Vietnamese-controlled Johnson Reef, securing control over the first of what would eventually become seven possessions in the Spratlys.
Vietnam has not been the only Southeast Asian country to receive such rough treatment. China and the Philippines both claim ownership of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal/Huangyang Island, located 124 nautical miles off Luzon Island in the Philippines. In 2012, Beijing simply seized it, having already ejected Manila from Panganiban Reef (aka Mischief Reef), about 129 nautical miles from the Philippines’ Palawan Island, in 1995. In 2016, when an international arbitration tribunal upheld Manila’s position on Mischief Reef and Scarborough Shoal, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sniffed that “the decision is invalid and has no binding force.” Chinese president Xi Jinping added for good measure that China’s claims to the South China Sea stretched back to “ancient times.”
Then there’s China’s military construction work in the area, which includes the building of full-scale artificial islands, as well as harbors, military airfields, storage facilities, and hangars reinforced to protect military aircraft. In addition, the Chinese have installed radar systems, anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-missile defense systems on some of these islands.
These , then, are the projects that the Trump administration says it will stop. But China’s conduct in the South China Sea leaves little doubt about its determination to hold onto what it has and continue its activities. The Chinese leadership has made this clear since Donald Trump’s election, and the state-run press has struck a similarly defiant note, drawing crude red lines of its own. For example, the Global Times, a nationalist newspaper, mocked Trump’s pretensions and issued a doomsday warning: “The U.S. has no absolute power to dominate the South China Sea. Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories.”
Were the administration to follow its threatening talk with military action, the Global Times added ominously, “The two sides had better prepare for a military clash.” Although the Chinese leadership hasn’t been anywhere near as bombastic, top officials have made it clear that they won’t yield an inch on the South China Sea, that disputes over territories are matters for China and its neighbors to settle, and that Washington had best butt out.
Posted by DanielS on Saturday, 04 February 2017 08:29.
This is the kind of reach a European-Asian Alliance is capable of, even while heavily burdened: imagine what we could accomplish if we were not saddled by the YKW, their Abrahamism (Judaism, Islam and Christianity), complicit right-wing arrogation and liberal irresponsibly - pinning us down with the irresponsible among us, their consequences; as well as in obsequiousness toward, and over-burdened necessity to defend against, African aggression and bio-power, Muslim colonization (“Hijra”) and terror.
Posted by DanielS on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 03:44.
“Don’t be surprised if the money he used to buy-up American real estate came from U.S. foreign aid” - TT. Pictured, Trump signalng 181 dimensional chess with Pakistani-American real estate tycoon, Sajid Tarahas, founder of ‘Muslims for Trump.’
BBC, “Trump’s Hindu, Sikh and Muslim power brokers”, 24 Jan 2017:
When Indian-American industrialist Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar donated close to a million dollars to the Trump campaign, many in the community dismissed it as a poor investment.
But today, Mr Kumar is the go-to guy not just for Indian-Americans chasing opportunities in the new administration but apparently for the Indian officials seeking contacts with Trump aides.
A leading Indian TV channel NDTV introduced him as “the man with a direct line to Trump” on their show. Another top-ranking Diaspora website, The American Bazar, has called him “the most influential Indian-American power broker” in DC.
And Kumar isn’t complaining about this new celebrity status. “I would like to be the bridge between the two sides,” he told the BBC. “I have arranged two big meetings between Indian officials and leading figures in the Trump team.”
A majority in the Indian immigrant community have traditionally supported Democrats and Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric seemed to have further alienated many.
Kumar says he and his Republican Hindu Coalition mobilised Hindu Indian-Americans votes in swing states like Florida.
Their message? Trump was the anti-terrorism candidate, and would help India and US see greater collaboration in defence, energy and manufacturing.
Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric did appeal to some Hindus, but whether that actually swayed the community at large is unclear.
Kumar is not the only one whose stock has soared with a Trump victory.
Pakistani-American Sajid Tarar, who is a Muslim, and Sikh-American Jesse Singh, sided with Mr Trump at the peak of his anti-Muslim barbs. They were pilloried by their own communities for doing so. One exit poll suggested more than three-quarters of Muslims voted for Clinton.
Mr Tarar’s Facebook inbox used to be swamped with negative messages, calling him a “disgrace to Pakistan and Islam”.
But on the morning of 9 November, his phone wouldn’t stop ringing. Mr Tarar had more than 80 messages congratulating him on Mr Trump’s victory and how he had made Pakistan proud.
He says the Pakistan embassy reached out to him to facilitate a call between Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the President-elect.
“I sent out a few emails and the call happened,” says Mr Tarar, a real estate businessman.
Posted by DanielS on Saturday, 21 January 2017 12:56.
Heavy, “Donald Trump Cabinet Picks List: All of the President-Elect’s Appointments” *18 Nov 2016:
The following is a list of everyone who has been appointed to work with Trump in the White House thus far, including members of the cabinet and advisers to the president.
The list of nominees is in accordance with Politico and The New York Times. Some candidates are awaiting confirmation. Triple parentheses ((())) indicate Jewish ancestry but not the only ones likely to be serving Jewish and complicit interests thereof.
Tensions between Buddhist-dominated Burma and Muslim-dominated Malaysia are rising once again after five Burmese workers were hacked to death with swords by a Malaysian mob in an ongoing dispute over religion and immigration between the two countries.
The government of Burma—properly named Myanmar—announced this week that it had sent out “safety instructions” to its nationals working in Malaysia after the sword attack—one of the latest in many such incidents in which hundreds have been killed.
The Burma government officially banned its nationals from seeking work in Malaysia a few weeks ago, precisely because of security fears following the ongoing clashes.
In the latest incident, four masked men wielding swords attacked Burmese workers after they had left a factory in the Serdang district on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Five were killed and two wounded.
Malaysian police said seven Burmese men had been detained shortly after the attack.
The origin of the violence is the current status of Burma’s Rohingya Muslims—a Muslim group some 1.5 million strong. The Rohingyas have been involved in separatist activities—often linked to Islamism—for decades, and violent clashes between Buddhists and Muslims are common in that country.
Burma stopped its workers going to Malaysia in December, after Najib Razak, prime minister of the predominantly Muslim country, described Burma’s treatment of the Rohingyas as “genocide” and called for foreign intervention.
There are however, at least 147,000 Burmese workers in Malaysia.
Both India and China are countries that have had the sort of moderate contact with the rest of Eurasia that their position at two extremities of Asia would lead one to expect. Both India and China have had their own sophisticated civilizations for at least two thousand years. The Chinese invented such things as gunpowder and printing. The Indians invented the so-called “Arabic” numerals that we use to this day and one of their religions (Buddhism) has been enormously influential outside their own borders. Both Indians and Chinese do extremely well economically outside their home countries. To me this is a picture of two generally intelligent populations. Yet the average IQ score for the two differs markedly. Chinese score somewhat above the Western norm and Indians score markedly below it. How come?
The comments have not been displaying after number 1000 - Sunny Mittal on Sat, 31 Aug 2013 14:41 | #, 1000 - therefore, I will include below the subsequent comments that were attempted since; and those who wish to comment on this thread may continue to do so here.
anonymous 2014-08-24 11:09 AM said:
You should continue this subject in another page from the 1001st post
Ok, as we said, there were a few dozen comments which didn’t register after number 1000. The ones that did not appear span from 31 Aug 2013 to 27 Dec 2016 and are being displayed here, under the fold; the thread is continued anew and comments may resume.
Posted by DanielS on Saturday, 24 December 2016 08:52.
TNO, “Is Trump “Draining the Swamp?”, 23 Dec 2016:
At least four senior executives with international bankers Goldman Sachs will get critical posts in the Donald Trump administration—even though he campaigned fiercely against that institution, with his closing campaign ad using an image of that company’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein to condemn the “global power structure” for robbing America’s working class and enriching the elite.
The Goldman Sachs appointments are not the first indication that Trump has no intention of “draining the swamp” in Washington D.C. either.
Former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin served as Trump’s national finance chairman and is now Trump’s nominee for U.S. Treasury secretary.
Trump has also nominated Goldman Sachs President (and the bank’s de facto number two) Gary Cohn as his top economic adviser in the White House.
Other Goldman alums in Trump’s inner circle include Anthony Scaramucci, a former Goldman banker and a member of the Trump transition team’s executive committee, as well as Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign manager.
Trump’s campaign ad described Goldman Sachs as part of “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.”
“Not only has Trump’s election stoked hopes for looser regulatory policies that will make it easier for banks to take bigger risks and book fatter profits, but Goldman also appears to have regained its place at the nexus between Wall Street and Washington,” Bloomberg wrote.
CBS, “Donald Trump’s Cabinet richest in U.S. history, historians say”, 20 Dec 2016:
As he traveled the country on his thank you tour, President-elect Donald Trump touted his choices for his Cabinet and inner circle, a group historians say is the richest in U.S. history.
“And one newspaper criticized me, ‘Why can’t they have people of modest means?’” Trump said at a Des Moines, Iowa rally. “Because I want people that made a fortune. Because now they’re negotiating with you, okay?”
How rich? CBS News estimates seven of Trump’s picks are worth a combined $11 billion.
“I guess they have a few poor millionaires on it, but mostly it’s billionaires,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Critics like Sanders say Trump’s choices fly in the face of his populist campaign message. “You don’t appoint a Cabinet of billionaires to be taking on the establishment,” he said on Sunday’s “Face The Nation.”
Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s Treasury pick has been estimated to be worth as much as $655 million. He and commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, worth $2.5 billion, recently said they were attuned to the plight of working Americans.
“It’s also not true all jobs are created equal. A guy that used to work in the steel mill, now flipping hamburgers, he knows it’s not the same,” Ross said in an appearance on CNBC.
Having millionaire and billionaire cabinet secretaries is not unprecedented. They tend to attract slots at Treasury and Commerce. But neither President Obama nor President George W. Bush had a single billionaire in their first Cabinets.
Pardon for quoting Bernie and other brackets but these are merely verifiable facts being cited here.
Quartz, “Trump’s 17 cabinet-level picks have more money than a third of American households combined”, 15 Dec 2016:
The 17 people who US president-elect Donald Trump has selected for his cabinet or for posts with cabinet rank have well over $9.5 billion in combined wealth, with several positions still unfilled. This collection of wealth is greater than that of the 43 million least wealthy American households combined—over one third of the 126 million households total in the US.
Affluence of this magnitude in a US presidential cabinet is unprecedented.
It is a game that Republicans have been playing for years, a few dog whistles in exchange for implicit White support of deracinating elite White Republicans in tandem with Jewish interests ....what is a bit new is that they are throwing a few milk bones to placate the explicit Whiteness in the Alt-Right so that they can co-opt White identity, not only into the Republican party but into their global geo-political agenda - on the side of fellow bracketed proposition empires, The U.S., Russia and Israel against Asia. This is a backwards and utterly dangerous friend/enemy arrangement and ultimately eschews Whites to a war footing in the interest of Jews against the ethnonationalism of others and ultimately, irrespective of White ethno-nationalism.
Posted by DanielS on Monday, 12 December 2016 11:23.
Update: New York Times, “Trump Picks Rex Tillerson, Exxon C.E.O., as Secretary of State”, 12 Dec 2016:
WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump on Monday settled on Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, to be his secretary of state, dismissing bipartisan concerns that the globe-trotting leader of the energy giant had forged a too-cozy relationship with Vladimir V. Putin, the president of Russia, transition officials said.
Mr. Trump planned to announce the selection on Tuesday morning, finally bringing to an end his public and chaotic deliberations over choosing the nation’s top diplomat — a process that at times veered from rewarding Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of his most loyal supporters, to musing about whether Mitt Romney, one of his most vicious critics, might be forgiven.
Russia’s Prime Minister Putin speaks with Tillerson in Sochi in 2011
President-Elect Trump ‘will name Exxon CEO with close links to Putin as his secretary of state’, snubbing Mitt Romney.”
Trump is expected to name Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.
Exxon Mobil chief emerged on Friday as the leading candidate.
Favored status was revealed as Giuliani withdrew.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name the chief executive of Exxon Mobil as the country’s top diplomat, NBC News reported Saturday.
Exxon chief Rex Tillerson emerged on Friday as Trump’s leading candidate for U.S. secretary of state and is expected to meet with him later on Saturday, a transition official told Reuters.
NBC News cited two sources close to the transition team in reporting that Tillerson will be named as secretary of state.
The president-elect had interviewed 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney twice – taking him to a three-Michelin starred dinner on one of those occasions.
Should Tillerson be nominated, his business ties, too, will come under scrutiny. Exxon Mobil has operations in more than 50 countries and boasts that it explores for oil and natural gas on six continents.
In 2011, Exxon Mobil signed a deal with Rosneft, Russia’s largest state-owned oil company, for joint oil exploration and production. Since then, the companies have formed 10 joint ventures for projects in Russia.
In 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Tillerson his nation’s Order of Friendship.
‘He has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger,’ John Hamre, a deputy defense secretary to Bill Clinton told the Wall Street Journal.
But U.S. sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Crimea cost Exxon Mobil dearly, forcing it to scrap some projects and costing it at least $1 billion in losses. Tillerson has been a vocal critic of the sanctions.
Trump has spoken of wanting warmer relations with Moscow, which has sparked concerns in Congress that he could lift or loosen some of the sanctions on Russia.
Tillerson has been chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil since 2006. He is expected to retire from the company next year.
Should Tillerson be nominated, climate change could be another divisive issue. The company is under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office for allegedly misleading investors, regulators and the public on what it knew about global warming.