Middle East

Why?

What often surprises CM is the need to openly show one’s abhorrence to the now 50 people senselessly murdered in Christchurch. On the contrary, if one didn’t find the events appalling that would say something in itself. There is nothing ‘woke’ about publicly showing one is against what happened. Of course the overwhelming majority of us are. Yet moral preening does nothing to help stem the flow of such terror. Neither does capitalizing on tragedies such as this to pit division via unhinged political activism.

Social media has been whipped into a frenzy since the cold blooded crime. Ad hominem attacks against the usual culprits for being complicit does little to help the grieving process. There must be no words to understand their pain. So why resort to cheap shots and big noting on Twitter? Survivors and families of the dead will hardly find solace by reading the bile of ignorant apparatchiks making a bad situation palpably worse.

CM has often questioned the purpose of lighting up monuments and splashing avatars with national flags of where those atrocities occurred. Does anyone in their right mind think that would-be-perpetrators pay the slightest mind to such appeals? Might as well keep the lights on. Because unless proper action is taken, nothing will change. Instead of stifling debate, we need to engage in it. Tackle the issues burning the fabric of our society.  Social and mainstream media continue to push false narratives, making people even more afraid to speak their minds. Some countries like Canada have laws that jail those that dare to.

If we accept the vast majority of people in the world are decent no matter what their background, why is it activists expect certain groups to self-flagellate when such events occur? The background of the victims or the villains should be irrelevant. It is despicable beyond belief to murder innocent unarmed people whatever their race, skin colour, religious beliefs or sexual proclivity. No one should question this. Yet tougher and tougher legislation restricting freedoms ends up being the by-product. Unfortunately newly introduced laws end up causing the opposite of intended effect. It only emboldens these extremists to go deeper underground. It exacerbates resentment.

We have to ask ourselves why? It seems most of the political class is asleep at the wheel given the trend of rising nationalism, especially throughout Europe. Instead of having deep transparent discussion addressing the problems and issues driving these movements, our leaders think it prudent to bury their heads in the sand. Hiding behind the spineless guise of political correctness, they legislate against certain groups with ever harsher penalties in ways which seem only to underpin the popularity of those that seek to defend them. If the political elite think believe they understand the will of the people they are woefully out of their depth at selling messages of unity. For if they understood the layman, populist parties would remain on the outer.

Think about it. Alternative for Deutschland, Sweden Democrats, The Dutch Freedom Party, Lega in Italy, the Freedom Party in Austria, Vlaams-Belang in Belgium, Order & Justice in Lithuania, Law & Justice Party in Poland, Fidesz in Hungary, True Finns, Front National in France…the list goes on. From fringe parties (or not even in existence) a decade ago to Top 3 in many cases. Have more Europeans become racist bigots in the last decade by chance or do they feel their lot changing for the worse?

Take a look at the poverty statistics across Europe. There were 78mn living below the poverty line in 2007. At last count, Eurostat noted that number was 118mn  (23.5% of the European population). In the Europe 2020 strategy, the plan is to reduce that by 20 million. Fat chance.  37.5mn (7.5%) are living in severe material deprivation (SMD) , up from 32mn in 2007. 40 million extra Europeans are suffering in poverty in a little over a decade. No wonder these nationalist parties have gained traction. It is easy to whip up a disaffected mob by claiming their futures are being undercut by mass migration. Whether the arguments are sound or not is frankly irrelevant. People want their lives back. Seeing the inaction among incumbent parties, many are willing to chance those that supposedly feel their pain. Macron still faces yellow vest protests for four consecutive months. Is it any wonder nationalist Marine Le Pen polls higher than the young President?

Perhaps we should question the authorities in playing their part in firing up the discontented. After reading 200+ pages of the Rotherham Inquiry into grooming gangs, it was revealed that the police and local council turned a blind eye to the systematic rape of 1,000 minors over two decades because they feared being thought of as racist were they to target the perpetrators based on their ethnicity. It was political correctness gone mad. Now the scandal has broken out across the country, the courts are finally throwing the book at these criminals. Read the above link at your peril. It is utterly distressing. 1,000s of lives senselessly ruined because leaders were too gutless to stand up for principle. One does not have to be an extremist to be outraged at such cruelty going unpunished for so long.

Politically correct law makers or activist judges do not justify murdering 50 innocent men, women and children. Let us be perfectly clear on this point. However it is not hard to see how those on the fringes use such incidents to fuel their resentment.  Social media allows for such obscene behaviour to be normalised because of the echo chamber dynamic.

What do the statistics of extremism say?

According to the Australian Crime Institute, “understanding the precise nature and scale of the far-right in Australia is made difficult by a lack of empirical information and research. Gaining reliable data on the far-right is firstly complicated by debate over exactly what constitutes violence motivated by far-right ideology…Moreover, Australia does not have any formal monitoring systems for this form of violence, such as that of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s ‘Hate Crime Statistics’ (something CM did earlier this month)

In America, Anti-Semitic hate crimes are around 5x the level of Anti-Islamic hate crimes which are around 1.5x Anti-Christian hate crimes. Overall hate crime is lower than two decades ago.

Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Interior (BfV) updated its fact book on the size of left and right wing groups and the rise of Salafists at home. To summarize:

In 2017, the BKA (Federal Criminal Police Office) registered 39,505 offences in the category of politically motivated crime, an increase of 20.4% over the 2014 figure, but 4.9% down on the 2016 number.

Right wing extremist party membership has risen from 22,600 in 2015 to 24,000 in 2017.

There were 1,054 (2016: 1,600) registered cases of violent criminal offences with a right-wing extremist background, a fall of 34.1%. The number of violent crimes directed at foreigners came in at 774 (2016: 1,190, the highest level since the current definition of politically motivated crime was introduced in 2001) down 34.9%. The number of violent crimes against actual or supposed left-wing extremists dropped by half 98 (2016: 250) remained about the same. Attempted homicides fell from 18 in 2016 to only four in 2017.

Left wing extremist party membership has risen from 26,700 in 2015 to 29,500 in 2017, +10.5%.

In 2017,  6,393 criminal offences were classified as left-wing politically motivated crimes with an extremist background (2016: 5,230), +22.2%, of which 1,648 were violent crimes (2016: 1,201), +37%. The number of violent criminal offences with a left-wing extremist background that were directed against the police and security authorities significantly increased 65.2% to 1,135 (2016: 687) exceeding even the level of 2015. The number of violent criminal offences against actual or supposed right-wing extremists halved to 264 (2016: 542).

Islamic Extremists

Salafist movements in Germany have risen from 8,350 in 2015 to 10,800 in 2017 with the BfV noting on the whole, that all Islamist following in 2017 amounted to approximately 25,810 individuals, up 1,400 on 2016. BfV did note

The threat situation has not at all eased. On the contrary: the shift towards a violence-oriented/terrorist spectrum has revealed a new dimension of the Islamist scene, which was also illustrated by the attacks carried out in Germany in 2016However, Salafism in Germany enjoys undiminished popularity. Its continuous attractiveness shows the importance of Salafism being subject to a debate in society as a whole and of intelligence collection carried out by the community of the German domestic intelligence services. This is even more significant as adherents of the jihadist tendency of Salafism not only reject the West – symbolised by the free democratic basic order – but also actively fight against it: either by travelling to so-called jihad areas or by mounting attacks in the West.”

In the area of politically motivated crime by foreigners, 1,617 offences with an extremist background were registered in 2017 (2015: 1,524), including 233 violent offences (2015: 235).  In 2016, there were two homicides and 13 attempted homicides by foreigners with an extremist background (2015: three).

A fall of 4.9% in total politically motivated crime is hardly something to celebrate when the number is 40,000 on an annualised. There are 6x as many politically motivated crimes in Germany than America with only 1/5th the population.

———-

If we take a step back, were suspect Tarrant’s atrocities any more reprehensible than Anders Breivik in Norway gunning down 69 unarmed teenagers on Uttoya island? Stephen Paddock murdering 58 concert goers in Las Vegas? Adam Lanza slaying dozens of small kids at Sandy Hook elementary? The gunmen inside the offices of Charlie Hebdo or the barbaric eviscerations inside the Bataclan? The truck drivers in Berlin, Nice, Stockholm or Barcelona mowing down 100s of innocent pedestrians? Where was the outrage in 2018 when a church was bombed by extremists in Indonesia killing 13 people? What about the Jonestown massacre in 1978 which claimed 908 souls? All of them are deeply sickening not only in total loss of life but the grotesque manner in which these heinous acts were carried out. 

No-one with a pulse can look at recent events without utter disbelief. When the suspect tells us the motivations behind the attack, we will see social media get uglier still. If we truly want to put an end to this type of disaster, we must open ourselves up to debate. Going on recent trends, we will continue to light up statues and point fingers instead of actively seeking to find solutions through reasoned discussion. When will we wake up from this nightmare of our own making and communicate?

In the meantime spare a thought for the victims and their families and allow them to grieve their losses in peace.

Do arms suppliers have a moral compass?

5586044B-AEA3-4E1F-9A1F-01784601BD0C.jpeg

40 murdered children in Yemen.  The Saudi logic behind the attack was that the Houthi rebels were training these kids as soldiers. A far-fetched claim. Yet where has the condemnation of Saudi’s role on the UN Human Rights Council been? Countless civilian deaths in Yemen at the hands of the Saudi military are nothing new. Where was the outrage then? The decades long proxy war has only accelerated since the assassination of former Yemeni dictator President Ali Abdullah Saleh in December 2017.

CNN looked to put the blame of this latest tragedy at the feet of US defence companies. Surely the Europeans are just as blameworthy for selling the Tornado or Eurofighter aircraft that likely dropped the American ordinance on these kids? Mattis has openly criticized the Saudi attack in this instance.

Arms deals are a dirty business. Let’s not pretend otherwise. Unfortunately these dangerous toys rarely come with a “please use responsibly” section inside the box of instructions. Some might argue that in certain cases users are not of the appropriate age bracket to play with them. Bribery scandals (aka incentives) are often more notable than the weapons deals themselves. Yet have there been incidences of arms suppliers turning down multi-billion dollar contracts?

If we go back in history, the Americans refused to release the source codes to the Saudis in a potential multi-billion dollar US jet fighter sale that would have allowed certain weapons (the US weren’t prepared to supply) to be fired. Even if the Saudis bought the US jets and sourced the banned weapons on the black market they wouldn’t be able to be fired.  Instead the Saudi’s bought the Panavia Tornado because the Europeans were happy to sell a similarly capable platform that the US refused to sell. UK defence contractor BAE Systems won a long term maintenance contract known as Al-Yamamah as a result of this Tornado deal. Why not bash the Brits for taking advantage of the US putting regional security ahead of arms sales in Saudi Arabia?

Perhaps we could question the moral fibre of the US refusing to sell the F-22 Raptor attack fighter to the Japanese. The Japanese top brass pleaded for the plane but US Congress refused to approve it claiming the billions required to redo all of the computer systems and source codes to ensure it had a lower capability than the USAF plane. The reality was more likely to prevent a leakage of its capability (something that had occurred when the Japanese ordered Aegis destroyers). The result was Japan didn’t get them even given its peaceful history post WW2.

Should we bash the Russians for supplying military hardware has been behind the deaths of over 100,000 Syrians? Or Ford for making the car that ran down people in Westminster?Or should we question the operators of these tools?

If we really want to get petty the Paveway Mk-82 bombs responsible for killing these kids were sold to the Saudi’s in a deal made in 2013 under the Obama administration. Was it Obama’s fault in allowing the sale? CM doesn’t believe he is but interesting that CNN left the period of sale out. Easier to attack the $110bn arms sales going forwards.

40 dead children is a tragedy. Arms deals are far from if ever holy. The instruments of death are sadly not always deploy in manners which are either moral or ethical. The Iranian backed Houthi almost sunk a French made Saudi frigate in the Red Sea at the beginning of last year. Several Emirati patrol boats have been severely damaged by the Houthi in the same area, the most recent incident occurring  last month. There are countless skirmishes along the Yemeni/Saudi border.

Unfortunately the Saudis and several other gulf states are key allies of the US in the proxy war against Iran/Russia. Do not expect a wholesale change in US arms deals with Saudi Arabia for the foreseeable future.

In closing perhaps people might question China’s new interest in the Middle East? Many may have missed it has deployed 5,000 troops (including special forces) in Syria since 2017. Geopolitics seldom look to protect the rights of anyone other than the home side. Don’t pretend it does otherwise.

Checking privilege or checking presumptions?

CM has lost count of the times the white privilege moniker has been thrown about as a way to shut down debate. There is an almost uncanny wish for liberal whites to white-shame other whites these days. It seems that 99.9% of those who throw the white privilege word are white themselves. The tacit argument is that they feel they gain acceptance with non-whites by denying their own identity. Have non-whites come out en-masse demanding this? Virtually none that CM has met.

The left is obsessed with this idea that all minorities are distinct groups who share identical thoughts and beliefs. Take the radically leftist inspired C-16 compelled speech laws in Canada where the trans community took what was supposed to be a compassionate piece of legislation as one where they felt betrayed by the lack of consultation and presumption of shared voice. There is a fantastic scene from Freedom Writers to this very point. Do these supposedly justice for all human rights crusading cultural Marxists assume all minorities are facsimilies within their clusters? Why do these activists become self appointed spokespeople for these groups? It is exactly this type of condescending action which creates the very division they are trying to stop. Diversity of thought among individuals, anyone?

Take these posters from the University of San Francisco (uSF). Karl Marx may have recently turned 200 but his legacy lives and breathes in California. So much for universities being the cradle of free and open thinking. The University of Texas has the MasculinUT program which is equally obtuse. Men must not feel obliged to express unrestricted masculinity. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 – why not castrate male UT students or force inject female hormones instead? Let’s not start with the mind-bending educational programs forced on pre-schoolers across the world. The designers don’t even hide the agenda. Not to mention Bill 89 in Ontario which allows the state to remove children from parents who don’t accept their gender identity in time. Or a Massachusetts kindergarten that has banned the use of the word ‘best friend’ for the sake of inclusivity. We’re even being told to ask for an infant’s consent to change their diaper. It is a slippery slope that the left wants considered mainstream when it is patently empirically extreme.

Apart from the deeply condescending nature of the uSF posters, are Christians the only religion that should feel privilege? Why not Buddhists, Jews, Hindus or Muslims? Do those groups not observe religious holidays? Do the majority of Muslims protest Christians celebrating Christmas? No. Do Christians take to the streets when Muslims celebrate Ramadan? No. When you’re busting to go to the bathroom do you consciously check cisgender privilege? Most likely not. It is surprising more cisgender women don’t cross the border to use male bathrooms when their line in long. Probably because of a group assumption that men are less hygienic and might leave the toilet seat up.

Let’s look at some of the leftist thinking about ranking ‘privilege’.

F38D1570-0A3B-4AFF-AE6E-B7E046CFCEEB

Take the quick test above. According to this table you will need to become an other, intersex, gay, trans, Middle Eastern, homeless, blind, disfigured, short, Muslim scientist (presumably climate professors get extra negative scores) to maximize all potential disadvantages. There is no worse combination for future victimhood in the liberal identikit than a tall, white, straight, cis male who works in finance. Although thankfully Australians are regarded at the lowest spectrum of whites. Still, how unfair to the Japanese who have gone through two decades of virtually no economic growth and untold natural disasters to be compared to Aussies that have had 25 years of unfettered economic expansion and face some dangerous snakes and spiders. Or is that a function of the Japanese being required to check their colonial past throughout Asia in the early 20th Century?

White privilege is just another tenet of group categorization. Should whites pay a tax to offset their level of privilege, presumably relative to their position on the chart above?

Going back to the white privilege shamers, many of those CM knows have backgrounds in finance. In an industry that is often tagged for having a penchant for deregulation, free spirits and mugging Main St. is anything but, when so many scream to the world at their virtuous moral code. How many of them support so many ideologies around equality of outcome despite most of these ‘white’ investment bankers being the first in line to cry foul if their ‘supposedly’ superior skill sets have not been rewarded accordingly. So while on the outside they protest so much injustice and inequality, they scream like libertarians internally. They can’t have it both ways. CM has always been a libertarian and believes in equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome.

CM appreciates there are injustices throughout the world but the worst way to achieve it is by compelling it, even under the veil of affirmative action. The case studies of doing so are overwhelmingly conclusive of producing the opposite outcomes. If everyone is assured the same result, why bother studying or striving for the extra mile? It is counter intuitive. It is also downright demeaning to assume that ALL ambitious minorities are crying to be given a leg up.

The most recentwhite privilege jab was over a discussion of the freedom of speech of NFL kneelers. Because many of the players happen to be black, CM needed to check white privilege. The only argument CM made was that these NFL players were employees who have a boss. How dare CM silence these people fighting for a cause! CM argued that no one is claiming they do not have a right to protest but if their bosses are witnessing customers (aka fans) deserting the games, hence impacting revenues which ultimately impedes the ability to throw multi millions to the same players something has to give. Put simply they have a business call to make. Make it all about police brutality but when harsh economics ends up seeing players sacked, don’t cry to CM. Is your boss unfair to sack or demote you if you are not prepared to please customers in order for the business to stay afloat? Just take a knee and see how far you get. CM bets none of you will. You know full well the boss is entitled to expect a return on the money he or she pays you. The boss isn’t doing it solely out of generous spirit. The NFL bosses aren’t questioning free speech but forecasting the net present value of the franchise.

The irony is that most of the kneelers (although CM read that Colin Kaepernick does invest into some of the causes he is protesting) do not invest their own spare time to fight those injustices. Many are trying to stay out of the courts given their all too frequent misdemeanors off the field – rape, DUI, resisting arrest, dog-fighting etc. Yet the white privilege shamers come forward with the argument that fans should put up with it. The liberal creed is that ‘social justice’ must be beaten into viewers. Do these SJWs get that the more they hammer these messages home the further they drive the people they’re trying to convince away? If we can white shame these spectators enough they’ll cave, right? Wrong. Little do they realize that these same fans might have financial, marital or employment stresses that the game is supposed to take them from? Is it just white fans seeking remediation? Most certainly not.

White privilege was hurled at the US education system for unconscious racial bias. What The NY Times article failed to document was that 99.6% of ALL kids stay out of big trouble which would result in serious disciplinary action, including arrest. All too easy to dumb it down to colour alone, yet when looking at liberal (Brookings Institute) or libertarian (Heritage Foundation) think tanks, both point to broken homes as a major cause of problems in graduation rates and disciplinary action. This has been documented over decades. Yet the liberal view is that all this division can only be attributed to white privilege. Torn asunder if black libertarians like Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder or Candice Owens don’t tow the line.

Skin colour seems to be a single-variable regression to white shamers. Does CM tell his half-Japanese kids to moan and complain that they are mixed race? Or does he try to impart to them the value of hard work, diligence and making their way through application and effort? They hopefully get the message that their father has tried to impart to them many times that the ‘taste of victory’ is umpteenths times greater the harder the challenge. Did Oprah become the world’s highest paid entertainer for hard work or just because she is black? Should we gut the NFL and put in less competent white players to ensure that ethnic balance is restored along the lines of population weights? Would fans want to pay a premium to see inferior performance? White shamers would suggest they would. Common sense would say not.

Yet, white privilege is the problem that if fixed will supposedly solve everything. Australian nurses and midwives are being told in the latest code of conduct to check white privilege and admit their colonial past to expectant mothers of other backgrounds. No seriously, instead of focusing on ensuring safe deliveries they are being asked to bow down to this ridiculous indoctrination. Will mothers giving birth feel empowered that the midwife grovels or marvel in the miracle of bringing life into the world?

Little by little, freedoms are being forcibly removed from society under the guise of political correctness. Reasoned debate is ignored. Outcomes are engineered in a way that ensures the data fits the legislation. Canada is one of the worst examples of this in action and the latest polls against PM Justin Trudeau reflect the backlash. Instead of debating sensibly through democratic means, the left wants to channel their doctrine through education and compelled speech. The left shouldn’t be surprised when a growing list of countries throughout Europe are becoming fed up with centralized control and voting at a sovereign level to disassociate themselves. Even if Brussels still tries to influence those constituents as to how they democratically choose to sustain their cultures, as evidenced this week in Italy.

Take the UK stance over Islam. British authorities seem so afraid of their own shadow that they have introduced a two-tiered approach to the control of citizens that would even make Lenin blush. Not initially by design but by avoidable mistakes. The dithering non-confrontational nature of the Brits means that they muddle through issues which end up making them more uncomfortable and put the population in a worse position, period. There are undoubtedly swathes of Muslims who detest the way they are tarred with the same brush as the more radical among them that are behind terrorist activity or grooming under-age girls for rape and sex trafficking. Rightly so. Any group of Christians would feel equally appalled to have their faith associated with sexually deviant priests molesting young boys. Therein lies the danger of generalizing groups rather than correctly targeting individual perpetrators, regardless of whether religion has been taken out of context to commit crimes.

Radio presenter and founder of Quilliam, Maajid Nawaz, has openly critized the UK authorities for pandering to political correctness.

For too long in this country, we have ignored the issue of grooming gangs. Of young vulnerable teenage girls who have been victimised, drugged, raped and abused…Whether it’s the Rotherham case or all the other cases that were replicated across the country, it is both the conclusion of the prosecutor in the Rotherham case…or indeed the official inquiry into why it took so long for these young vulnerable under-age girls to get justice – both of those concluded that fears of racism prevented us from coming to the defence of vulnerable under-age girls…Fears of racism meaning that the state was scared that it would be accused of being racist if it rightly arrested and prosecuted largely British Pakistani Muslim men in their abuse of under-age white teenage girls…If we hadn’t all been silent, if we had all addressed this issue head on when it needed to be addressed, when it was time to address it, then the void would not have emerged for the populist agitators to fill that gap…

Nawaz holds no punches. The British government has presumed the majority of Muslims may get offended so 1,000s of innocent under-age (white) girls became sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. One Labor politician claimed that these rape victims should shut up for the sake of diversity. Should that be categorized as a white privilege offset? Presumption is a dangerous game. Are people surprised when the cover up is finally exposed that Britons become enraged? It is hardly a win-win for the Muslim community at large to have this fester beyond the squalid state it already has become.

Yet examining the state of UK prisons, inmates identifying as Muslims number 15% of the population despite being 7% of the UK population. Is that a sign the judiciary is being biased against the Tommy Robinsons of the world? No. While the drive-thru jailing of him last week apears overly biased, the explosive growth in the Muslim prison population would not exist were the courts targeting non-Muslims. If only the courts were able to expedite justice for these poor girls as quickly as Mr Yaxley-Lennon.

Examining the huge surge of violence (against fellow inmates and guards), an 800% leap in unexplained deaths (aka murder) and the 6 fold jump in call outs of the tactical riot squad within UK prisons over the last decade coincide with the doubling of jailed radicals. It must worry the law makers no end to how they solve for this disturbing rise in crime and stick to politically correct narratives.

The simple solution is to engage a broader section of all communities beyond those that have clearly produced no tangible results. When will they realize it is not working and DO something about it, rather than presuming the several speak for the whole?

If liberals desperately covet diversity and identity politics for the good of peoplekind, they are going the wrong way about it. Shaming others has proven to be a recruiter for the right. To put this in chess parlance –

The best chess move is the one which your opponent least wants you to make

Instead of ostracism and presumption, try engaging individuals rather than expect them to accept accusations of association to groups that they may abhor.

Unseen WW2 pics thru lens of AIF Lt. Norman Peterson

 

What happens when you poke a Russian bear?

EDE6C915-0C4C-4067-9899-E88968C0D996.jpeg

As written earlier in the week, regardless of one’s views on the righteousness of any attack on Syria, Putin is being faced for the first time in a long time, a leader of a foreign nation (nations as it turns out) prepared to stand up to him. Obama fled the Syria battlefield after being given a two hour window when Russia first went to the aid of Assad. If that wasn’t the ultimate sign of a bully in the Kremlin it is hard to think of what is. While sanctions may have bitten to a degree post Ukraine and the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines flight, Syria is essentially a testing ground for Putin to weigh up Western (specifically Trump’s) resolve. If we look at Russia’s response post the Syrian strike,

The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left unheard…A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences…All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris…Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.

Kind of says it all really – Russia hasn’t been insulted. Putin has. He must have a glass jaw  like Trump! Two bullies flexing muscle. In a show down Should Putin wish to pick a direct conventional fight against 3 nuclear powers (explicitly mentioned), he knows that ‘mutually assured destruction’ is the very last option in the drawer and next to no chance of being selected despite all of the media beat up. On a conventional basis, Putin wins more battles by stirring up the hornet’s nests in other regions. Lending more support to Iran, Lebanon and Yemen. Destabilize Saudi Arabia and antagonize Israel.

CM wrote,

It is worth nothing that Syria is Rosoboronexport’s (Russia’s military export wing) 2nd largest customer after Iran. Putin is sick of having the West try to remove his clients. Assad is key to Russia’s foothold in the Middle East. With an essentially pro-Iran Iraqi government and Syria as well as Hezbollah Putin has a geopolitical doormat from the troubled separatist states to Russia’s south to Lebanon.

Some arguments have been made about the risks of the American, French or UK strikes killing Russian troops or civilians on the ground in Syria handing Russia free will to attack its enemies. Scroll back to November 2015 when the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Su-24 fighter it claimed entered its airspace. Two Russian pilots were killed in the shooting and subsequent rescue. The Russians were incensed but President Erdogan is still in power and Ankara isn’t flailing after seeing its capitol turned into smoldering rubble.

This argument that the Russians weren’t given advance warnings of the attack is ridiculous. Had the Russian defence forces been on proper alert (they most definitely weren’t passed out behind their radar screens after a vodka binge) they would have detected the missile launches. Wind back to the 59 missile launch earlier last year against Syrian chemical facilities. We didn’t hear a peep from Putin. Why now? Of course he is incensed over the booting of diplomats on the nerve agent scandal but this is a showdown of ego.

Think of the long geopolitical chess board here. Should Trump have backed down on Putin’s threats, wouldn’t China’s Xi feel equally empowered to annex Taiwan by telling POTUS that he risks ‘grave reprisals if he meddles with Chinese sovereign territory’?

For all the initial snubbing of Trump by Macron on his historic election win in France, there is no way he would have gone in alone to attack a chemical facility without the guarantee of the military might of America. It is unlikely Theresa May would have done it either. So for all of the ‘unhinged’ lunatic rhetoric bandied about by the media, foreign nations don’t gamble their own sovereignty lightly, especially over something like Syria.

General Mattis has said they plan no further strikes at this stage. Does Putin order his forces to sink a US destroyer in the Mediterranean which launched those missiles? Highly unlikely. He does have the best weapon available to do that (the ‘Sunburn’) but sending US naval vessels to the bottom of the sea on a strategic strike would seem a big response to a targeted hit.

Let there be no mistake. There is a new sheriff in town. Russia has a bloody nose it didn’t think it would find itself. Putin miscalculated that Trump isn’t all Twitter-fueled bluster. Uncertainty in foreign leaders is always a risk for enemies. Trump has shown Putin he won’t be bullied like his predecessor.

Putin doesn’t want a hot war with America. The best way to strike at the US is like the last 6 decades. Undermine her at every opportunity. Supply her enemies. As mentioned before, if the Russians didn’t think it worth hitting back at Turkey for deliberately targeting its fighters, it is unlikely that Putin, no matter how ‘insulted’ he might feel will take a strike not aimed at Russians as a pretext to pick a fight with Trump. Putin has worked out the US president’s measure. He miscalculated. He won’t make that mistake twice.

For the media, running all the scare campaign stories is not only highly irresponsible (as it did over Yemen’s attacks on Saudi Arabia) but proving the lack of depth of analysis. They can beat Trump over the head all they wish but should note the actions of Macron and May following him into the region as a tacit approval of the US leader. Was he the madman they portrayed him as in the first place they would have stayed well out of it.

Watch for Putin’s response (unlikely but will threaten it will come when the evil Americans least expect) and think deeply about why it is important that the real despots (Putin, Xi, KJ-U, Erdogan) around the world no longer have the ability to exercise free will in knowledge that the worst they face is a slap on the wrist from the UN.

Sounds more like grounds for congratulation than censure. 

2018 – no more space for multiple ‘elephants’ in the room

439AD25A-EFA7-4CAD-9452-848253266BF8.jpeg

The Contrarian Marketplace wishes everyone a Happy New Year and prosperous 2018.

As oft the case people are busy making new year’s resolutions. CM mission doesn’t change. It aims to further energize the spirit of enquiry. To be the maverick voice that will not be silenced. We live in a world where we need to become comfortable being uncomfortable. We can no longer hide behind group think Because we feel it is dangerous to challenge consensus views. CM won’t buckle to identity politics, victimhood or social justice.

However that will never exclude us from criticism and we welcome feedback to improve the offering. We will not take The Guardian approach of refusing to acknowledge the content might be the problem when appealing for readers to ‘donate’. CM is self funded. It will remain so because it never wishes to be beholden to others to peddle tailored messages to keep the lights on.  If CM doesn’t survive on its own merits then it dies through market forces.

In 2017, Brandon Tatum showed what impact a Tucson, Arizona police officer can have on today’s media. His videos have gone viral (50mn+ views) on topics from the NFL, BLM to anti-Trump protests. He is now working for the Conservative Tribune such has been his impact. He speaks in cold hard truths. One doesn’t have to agree with what he says but he makes compelling arguments. No accolades from the journalist associations to self congratulate. As we used to say at high school sports competitions- “look at the scoreboard.”

CM started two years ago to challenge conventional thinking on all manner of topics.  It was born out of a growing realization that the mainstream media on both sides of the fence was too biased. Investigative journalism has all but disappeared, replaced with clickbait headlines and little more than biased piffle for what can only loosely be described as content. It seems that journalists are paid on the number of shares or likes rather than the quality of input.  As Ariana Huffington once said, “I’ve long said that those of us in the media have provided too many autopsies of what went wrong and not enough biopsies.”

2017 has been a continuation of the ridiculous pandering to political correctness and our lawmakers seem even more determined to avoid censure from social media, somehow thinking it speaks for the majority. Gender neutral toilets, removing statues and same-sex marriage take priority to the oncoming fiscal/monetary train wreck and a fracturing geopolitical landscape. It is almost as if our elected leaders have the blinkers on.

2018 is shaping up to be one that our political class is ill prepared for. Out of one’s depth is not a harsh enough criticism. Too many governments (including conservatives) are running up the national credit card trying to bribe bewildered constituents into tolerating more of their nonsense. However at some point, appeasement will not work because government’s can’t economically afford it.

Silent voices are increasingly pushing back. Traditional parties are seeing their constituents abandoning them. Australia’s conservative Liberal Party is Exhibit A. It is no longer a party true to its core. After the Turnbull coup it has taken its constituents for mugs but they have left in droves. While the Libs champion superior leadership, how is it One Nation has taken a huge bite out of it’s support base? It doesn’t add up and its this sense of denial that guarantees they’ll be destroyed at the next election.

Look at the growth in nationalist parties in Austria, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy and even America. While they may not have outright majorities in every case the reality is that all of these parties surged in the most recent elections. Mainstream parties can mark it down as a one-off or ‘they’ll be back’ mentality but this time is different. Take Trump. His GOP hate him almost as much as the Democrats. While the mainstream media ties itself into knots over the relevance of well done steak and tomato ketchup to running a country or the fact he paid millions in tax, his brand of political incorrectness is refreshing.

Sure his words are vulgar at times and Obama knocks the sports off him for eloquence or as a nice guy but we are in a world of ruthless people. The geopolitical landscape is rapidly changing. The last US administration allowed a free-for-all for nations such as China and Russia to roam free on the global landscape. Russia’s actions in the Ukraine, Syria and Iran or China building man made military bases in contested Asia-Pac waters have filled a vacuum vacated by the US. We should be glad that we have a Trump who is putting his foot down that things have changed.

While Trump’s use of ‘Rocketman’ to describe North Korea’s leader may seem juvenile, China hasn’t fully worked him out. They stroked his ego by allowing him to be the first President to dine in the Forbidden City after his rhetoric saying that if they don’t deal with Kim he will. The resumption of Chinese oil trading with North Korea in full defiance of UN sanctions tells two things. China thinks the UN is a waste of space and it is testing Trump’s resolve to carry out his threats to take care of business with minor provocations. China’s military is nowhere a match for the US so this could backfire badly if they miscalculate. This will escalate again in 2018.

Don’t rule out India’s growing frustrations with China. China’s built a naval port in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota. Recently the Maldives signed a FTA with China which should be ringing alarm bells in Delhi. For the last decade, China has been strengthening its armed (ground and air) forces to India’s north too, including the funding of the upgrade of the 1300km construction of the Karakoram Highway (aka China-Pakistan Friendship Highway). It is no surprise that Russia has been replaced by the US and UK as preferred arms suppliers to India.

As written several days ago, the Middle East seems to be an unstable powder keg. The way the stars are aligning with respects to the death of the former Yemeni President Saleh, the cleaning of the House of Saud, the repudiation of Qatar by the Gulf states and ructions in Iran point to something larger to kick off. Do not be surprised to see Israel and Hezbollah clash again in 2018. It won’t be an Arab Spring. Afterall this is more a shift toward a more direct clash between Sunni and Shia, not just played through proxy wars in Yemen, Syria or Lebanon. One can’t sink Saudi and Emirati naval vessels off Yemen’s coast with Iranian Revolutionary Guard support indefinitely.

These geopolitical problems will only put pressure on global markets which are already overstretched asset bubbles in almost every form – equities, bonds and housing. The realisation that unfunded pensions are likely to wipe out the retirements plans of millions causing even more pressure on economic growth. There is no escaping the fact that the can has been kicked down the road for too long. Whether 2018 is the precise year it unfolds is still a moot point but we are moving ever closer to the impending financial collapse which will be uglier than 1929.

Central banks have no plausible ammunition left to play with. Bloated balance sheets filled with mislabeled toxic assets (liabilities). Record low interest rates offer next to no policy flexibility and tapped out consumers face oblivion if asset prices keel over. A systemic banking collapse is absolutely plausible. No amount of QE will work this time.

Yes, it would be nice to see 2018 trump 2017 for good news (it wouldn’t be hard) but sadly the punch bowl at the party is empty and the hangover won’t be pleasant. No amount of painkillers will let one avoid a throbbing headache which will last a very long time.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Regime overthrow in Iran? Don’t get too excited (yet)

888AB232-C873-4B54-BF59-1168F021535A.jpeg

The US State Department seems to be openly welcoming the outbreak of spontaneous demonstrations in Iran selling it as the early steps of regime change. In fact it is more likely to help President Rouhani force economic changes he has been prevented from making due to deep seated corruption within the regime itself. Rouhani has tried to make economic changes for years to boost the economy but the regime has kept monopoly power over multiple industries which has impeded his ability to do it.

The Iranian banking system holds 10s of billions of dollars in non-performing loans which is weighing down the economy and undermining the potential for private-sector-led recovery. Given the increasing vulnerability of Iran’s financial system, the government urgently needs to restructure and recapitalize the banks. Iranian banks were weakened by a sluggish economy caused by the sanctions, state interference in lending decisions and lax regulations causing excessive competition with unlicensed financial institutions.

The country’s recovery could well slow since Trump has raised the possibility that sanctions could be reimposed or new sanctions introduced. It should come as no surprise that this has deterred many banks and other foreign companies from operating in Iran.

The Iranian government directly owns and operates hundreds of state-owned enterprises (SoE) and indirectly controls many companies in the private sector. Inflation (9%), price controls (e.g. milk, energy) designed to tame it and rising unemployment (12.4%) are really behind the protests than a direct call to overthrow the Islamic Republic. Still don’t rule out the US State Department rubbing its hands with glee to try to throw a spanner in the works. Easier done by crushing its economy by redeploying sanctions given the financial system is in such a precarious position.

We shouldn’t ignore the timing of the assasination of former Yemeni President Saleh in the last month. His death now gives Saudi Arabia more will to take heavier action against the Iran backed Houthi in Yemen. Now that Saudi Arabia has recently cleaned house with the arrests of royal family members to tighten the inner circle, it almost seems the stars are aligning for the ante to be upped on Iran.

While much has escaped the mainstream media, at the narrow Bab al-Mandeb Strait separating Yemen and Djibouti/Eritrea, multiple US, Saudi and Emirati warships have been attacked by Houthi rebel forces. In January 2017 a Saudi al-Madinah frigate was sunk in the strait. An Emirati HSV-2 swift naval craft was also put out of action in late 2015. Cargo ships (10% of global trade) make their way up the Red Sea via the Bab al-Mandeb Strait to the Suez Canal, could suffer if tensions rise here.

While many are distracted by the decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem as an unnecessary ‘in-the-face’ action, most Gulf States want Israel on their side to help them defend against and ultimately defeat Iran. It is only 7 months ago that the Saudis pushed to expel Qatar from the GCC for keeping cosy relations with Iran and supporting Hamas and the Houthi in Yemen. The South Pars/North Dome Gas Condensate field – the world’s largest natural gas field –  is jointly owned by Iran and Qatar which means divided loyalties between the GCC and Tehran.

Get ready for lots of fake news. Something tells CM that there is something more sinister at play.