War

Comey testimony proves media can’t stop playing the man rather than the ball

IMG_0114

Comey admitted in his testimony that he was never pressured by Trump to end any investigations. Damn and blast. The media has done another collective Rachel Maddow “we’ve got his tax returns” backfire. So insistent on trying to seek revenge they forgot the old Chinese proverb, “before setting out on revenge, first dig two graves.” So eager are they to play the man they overlook basic check sheets to find balance. Trump may well be a loose cannon at times but the media is the pot still calling the kettle black.

While I long argued Trump would win the election I’ve been an advocate of trying to seek balance to the one sided argument against him. It doesn’t mean I think he is ideal.  I disagree with many (not all) things he has done and petty things (like his attitude to Merkel) are certainly not fitting the most powerful office in the world. Trump derangement syndrome is none-the-less real. The media attack dogs never seek to do moral equivalence with their beloved Obama over the same supposed crimes of leaking sensitive info or whatever. I do think Trump is Turnbull-esque in lacking judgement as well as constant cabinet reshuffles but the most twisted irony is that financial markets would seem to want him there using any wobble on the back of an impeachment scenario as an excuse rather than admit the hyper asset bubble blown for 8 years.

The mainstream media now preys on clickbait. Thinking the number of clicks, likes and shares are endorsements and can replace quality content (as much as they self appraise it’s high value added factual). In fact the revenue numbers of media outlets who continually rant  is telling. Fairfax in Australia has had two rounds of layoffs in the space of 12 months and The Guardian is openly begging for donations.

The media is surely going to keep launching salvo after salvo to try get him out of office. As stupid as they keep suggesting the ‘orange baffoon” is he keeps getting their measure. I issue a caution though. The deplorables that voted him in want him to get on with the job. With all these distractions the quest that they hope will get them under the “have not” hole is pushed further into the future. Getting an impeachment to stick and force a resignation is not high on a have not’s priority list. They need help as I argued at the time of the election. Whether Trump can provide it is a moot point but they voted for change and the “haves” ought to be careful how they indirectly impact the “have nots”

The screaming, carrying on and promoting blood sport may end up creating proper civil unrest. It’s simmering but the media as usual is oblivious to it all. In any event the last thing the world needs is instability in the world’s largest economy at this point in a peaking cycle.

Follow the market on North Korea

IMG_0509

Follow the market. Financial markets are the ultimate arbiter of risk. What we have here is the 5yr Republic of Korea CDS which gives a rough guideline of how risk is being priced over time. Clearly unchartered waters at the time of GFC saw Korean risk leap to 700bps. The death of Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il saw around 240bps on the clock and Kim Jong-Un’s first nuclear weapons test saw a slight nudge over 100bps before sliding back to a standard 50bps range. Since Trump sent a carrier battle group and China issued an ultimatum (the ‘bottom line’) the rate has popped to 58.7 from 50-odd earlier in the week. It will be no surprise to see the fear factor rise in coming days but the odds are now on for China to take charge and work to install a pro-Beijing puppet which can be sold as a way to dismantle the nuclear threat and remain China’s protectorate. Kim Jong-Un may be offered a Rimowa of cash and an Idi Amin style exile in Saudi Arabia as a way to saving his hide because he has no alternatives and backing down in the face of the current situation will bring his power into question. China wants North Korea to survive for its political aims. For now markets are not panicking. Gold drifting higher and Korean won softening but it is hardly showing fear at this stage.

China send ultimatum to Kim Jong-Un

IMG_0508

As written yesterday in North Korean Roulette, “China has no choice but to step up to prevent the US giving it a bigger headache than it already has. Trump has clearly shown he is willing to pull the trigger when nations get out of line…Somehow China will be summoning Sun Tzu before it escalates out of its control.” So it appears China have overnight sent a ‘bottom line‘ threat to North Korea saying it’ll bomb their nuclear sites if crossed. According to the military-focused Global Times (owned and operated by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper), said that if the North impacts China with its illicit nuclear tests through either “nuclear leakage or pollution”, then China will strike hard. Taking out North Korea’s nuke arsenal would also win China credibility in neutralizing a global threat. Without nukes North Korea is a toothless tiger and Trump could end up with the result he needs by forcing Xi to act. That may well be to remove Kim and install a puppet. Korean CDS have edged slightly higher to 57.8bps but hardly showing fear. China is Kim Jong-Un’s biggest client. Best heed the warning.

Trump’s first strike – what it means

IMG_9634.PNG

The world has awaited Trump’s first strategic strike of any relevant size. Lobbing missiles at a Syrian airbase is a tactical inconvenience for Syrian forces which supposedly used it to launch gas attacks on civilians. Before we see the mainstream media go off on a tangent of “there we told you so” headlines trying to justify the President as unhinged (Obama would have been showered with praise as a humanitarian for exactly the same mind you) understand the geopolitical jigsaw that is Syria.

Syria is important to Russia as its largest arms customer. It is also vital to Putin because it gives him an excuse to sail his navy into The Mediterranean because of the Syrian port of Tartus. In short Putin hates having his clients removed by the Americans.

Scroll back when Putin first stepped up his campaign in Syria. Putin gave America two hours of warning to get any troops and special forces out of harms way. Before he started his attacks. 2 hours! If it had been Luxembourg being told to ship out in that time I’d understand but it highlighted the complete lack of respect Putin had for Obama’s impotence on foreign policy. Trump in part is redressing the balance.

Assad is Putin’s customer. When that customer gasses his own civilians he gets admonished by the world and for Putin to say nothing only lowers his stock. So Watch Putin and Trump team up on a managed solution to sideline Assad, whack ISIS and allow Putin to keep some other tinpot surrogate that allows Putin to hold onto the strategic asset.

It it also sends a message to two others. One is Kim Jong-Un. The other China’s President Xi who is in residence in Florida.

For North Korea, Syria is a shot across the bows  don’t try anything stupid. For China it is a case of an unpredictable US President which makes their responses harder. No more building man made islands in the South China Sea without protest.

Global politics for the last decade has been typified by appeasement, apologists and half measures which have festered to today. Trump is setting his mark on the global geopolitical stage. Like it or not Trump will not hesitate in being a global cop if people/regimes cross a line. We should be thankful that finally we have a politician that is prepared to move away from the kryptonite that has weakened the US on the global stage. Sadly tough measures have to be taken and soft virtue signaling via twitter hashtags don’t prevent criminal behavior. Action speaks louder than words.

Japanese school kids take up nuclear attack drills for the first time since the Cold War

IMG_9537

For the first time since the Cold War, Japanese school kids are practicing evacuation drills in the event of a nuke attack by North Korea. When five of the top 10 selling books in Japan were related to nationalism several years ago be sure that the feeling of protecting sovereignty is by no means taken lightly. Five years ago, at my previous company I wrote a four part series on the coming military tensions that are expected to occur in Asia. This is further proof things are going to continue to escalate. The Japanese Defense White Paper 2016 articulates why Tokyo is lifting military spending and changing from mere defence to attack capabilities. They’ve recognized the game has changed.

An excerpt from this 2016 White Paper reads,

“We are seeing an increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan, as well as shifts in the global balance of power including in the Asia-Paci c region. Since the beginning of this year, North Korea has repeatedly conducted military provocations, such as a nuclear test and ballistic missile launches. Such military actions by North Korea constitute a serious and imminent threat to security not only of Japan but also of the region and the international community. At the same time, Chinese and Russian military forces have intensifed their activities in sea areas and airspace surrounding Japan. In the East China Sea, Chinese government vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters and have been engaged in activities that are seen as promoting the Chinese government’s own assertions regarding the Senkaku Islands. In the South China Sea, China has continued large-scale and rapid land reclamations, established outposts, and utilized them for military purposes. By unilaterally altering the status quo and attempting to turn it into a fait accompli, these actions heighten tension in the region…

…Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) / the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) has a responsibility to assume any situations and take seamless responses in order to resolutely secure the lives, property, and freedom of the people as well as Japan’s territorial land, water, and airspace. The legislation for peace and security was passed in the Diet last year and entered into force this March. This legislation enables Japan to strengthen its ability to prevent wars from occurring, i.e. its deterrence, and implement seamless responses. To ensure that our deterrence functions adequately, it is essential that Japan continues to build a more effective Dynamic Joint Defense Force that is ready to respond to various situations appropriately.”

Note now that Japan has a first strike capability to ensure its safety. No longer does it have to be punched in the nose if it sees threats are imminent. As peaceful as Japan is today, sadly it bears deep scars not forgotten by its neighbors during the imperial years in the 1930s and 1940s.

Imagine if Roosevelt showed the same conditional love for Churchill

I really question the conditional support of governments today. I guess political posturing goes with the trade of being a politician. While many argue that Trump’s win was down to hidden populism, the posturing of the British Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow to deny the US President a berth to address them smacks of a desperate appeal to virtue signalling. “Racist and sexist” is a personal opinion but then again many labeled 17mn “Leavers” on the Brexit vote similar taunts. I don’t deny Trump’s language sometimes leaves much to be desired but to make grand geopolitical gestures to your most loyal ally is appalling. Had Trump been guilty of mass-murder or heinous war crimes then I might understand but to ban him from speaking biased on his locker room antics is pathetic. The use of such a bullet is irresponsible of the speaker. Imagine if President Roosevelt had said to Winston Churchill in March 1941 that ‘Lend Lease’ was not on. “Sorry you are in a bit of a bind with Hitler. Sadly it is not our war and indeed it was you that declared war on Germany so I guess that might have been a mistake”

I reckon Her Majesty the Queen would have a strong opinion on this. After all she has served as Britain’s monarch from since 1952. She worked in a military vehicle factory during the war. As Queen since 1952 she has met more foreign heads of state than almost anyone on the planet. If she had to tally the best and worst of world leaders I doubt Trump would fall into the bottom quartile reserved for evil despots. On the contrary Her Majesty was in favour of Brexit but we did not see people up in arms over her views. Then again, her husband Prince Philip has been known for his less than savoury comments on people from other ethnic backgrounds yet do we hear the speaker make calls for him to be banned from representing his country?

If indeed the UK is becoming more worried about the antics of Vladimir Putin, in much the same way Thatcher was about Brezhnev wouldn’t you want to bond with Trump rather than spurn him. I get the virtue signaling of Bercow. However the reason for Trump and Brexit is that people are way beyond indentity politics. They want the economic malaise that is damaging their livelihoods to be fixed before worrying about hurting feelings. Besides if Bercow was paying attention to Trump’s election campaign he might have seen the things he is doing are enacting election promises.

Just like the Brits told Obama where to stick his “remain” recommendation, Americans will gladly tell Bercow to stick his nose out of why they voted for him despite of his antics. It is not up to British parliament or the rest of the world to point their democracy out to them.

 

Vulcan 607 – a real tale of being an underdog

「vulcan 607」の画像検索結果

Want a great read? Here it is. Vulcan 607 is the true story of the RAF bombing the Port Stanley airfield in the Falklands War in what was called Operation Black Buck.  If you want to learn about execution of a plan when you don’t have all the tools at your disposal this book shows what can be achieved. It should be compulsory reading for millennials to show them life is not always simple and requires more than an app and WiFi. This was the longest ever bombing raid at the time. It involved using what was left of a knackered air force tired aerial tankers and Vulcan bombers close to be put out to pasture due to their age. No satellite GPS positioning, no fancy digital. All done with slide rules and a calculator the night before the raid.

You had to hand it to the pilots who after the raid (figuring the hard part was done flying thru enemy defences) had to air-air refuel in hurricane winds and an electrical storm. The air tankers had to refuel themselves and refuel the Vulcan bomber. Some of the fuel passed through five aircraft before being burned by the attack aircraft. All this was done in total darkness.  Mid-air refueling was as easy, according to one Vulcan pilot, as “sticking wet spaghetti up a cat’s arse”

Before the raid, budget cuts meant few parts were available. Many missing parts like refueling valves (which had been filled with 20-year-old cement) were scavenged from other Vulcans that had been donated to museums and the bomb racks were reclaimed from scrapyards. A seal for a new radar-jamming device was improvised from corks from a home-brew beer kit and another crucial component was discovered in the engineers’ mess, serving as an ashtray. Having broken a refueling probe during refuelling practice they managed to find the only one left in an old supply depot as the maker had gone  out of business.

So next time your staff complain at what they don’t have, perhaps worth considering what can be done against the odds if one tries.