Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trump Went to the United Nations with Tough Talk and Only Managed to Embarrass the United States

Every blowhard bully runs the risk of some thing, some event that can gore his credibility.  That something for Donald Trump in his bombastic threats against North Korea is China.

Trump rode to power on brash pronouncements of how he was going to put ChYna in its place. America wouldn't be putting up with any more games from Beijing. No sirree. Trump's supporters, the Gullibillies, lapped it up. They couldn't get enough of it.

Talk is cheap. Donald Trump talk is cheaper still. It's not president Xi Jinping who is kowtowing these days. That era is over.

Not since the British garrison at Singapore surrendered to Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita in 1942 has Western opinion of an Asian power changed so fast. When China’s 2015 stock market bubble popped, prevailing Western opinion held that China’s economic boom would flame out in a debt crisis comparable to America’s subprime disaster of 2008 or the near collapse of Europe’s southern tier in 2013.

Now that China’s tradeable stock market has risen by 43% during 2017 in US dollar terms (with the MSCI-based ETF as a benchmark), Western opinion is melting up.

The same applies to Western evaluation of China’s standing as a world power. Graham Allison’s 'The Thucydides Trap,' a plea not to oppose China’s strategic challenge to the United States, now sits on the desk of every senior staffer at the National Security Council courtesy of President Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMasters.

It will shock Americans who have been told for years that China merely copies Western technology by stealing trade secrets, and for that reason alone Prof. Allison’s book fairly might be called the most influential book of the year.

Allison warns:

In the three and a half decades since Ronald Reagan became president, by the best measurement of economic performance, China has soared from 10 percent the size of the US to 60 percent in 2007, 100 percent in 2014, and 115 percent today. If the current trend continues, China’s economy will be a full 50 percent larger than that of the US by 2023. By 2040 it could be nearly three times as large. That would mean a China with triple America’s resources to use in influencing outcomes in international relations. Such gross economic, political, and military advantages would create a globe beyond anything American policymakers can now imagine.

American influence in Western Asia is eroding quickly. Turkey is now a NATO member in name only; it has bought Russia’s S-400 air defense system over NATO protests, and it has allied with Iran to suppress Kurdish forces in Syria whose success threatens to strengthen Kurdish independence movements in Iran as well as Turkey.

Suddenly, from the South China Sea to the Bosporus, the United States cannot move without brushing up against Chinese influence, if not outright Chinese power. It’s not quite the same as Yamashita’s march across the Malaysian jungle. But if anything, the fecklessness, complacency and incompetence of America’s leaders exceeds the fabled stupidity of the British at Singapore.

Trump waved the threat of unilateral action against North Korea at the UN this morning but everyone, save for the Gullibillies, knew he was just blowing smoke. China will not tolerate that sort of conflict chaos on their border. They certainly will not tolerate the use of even tactical nuclear weapons on their doorstep.

The sun is setting on American hegemony in Asia. Even Trump may realize it eventually.


Anonymous said...

In his speech, Trump's lists American accomplishments that are firmly in the past. The best one was this:

"It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. Those three beautiful pillars — they’re pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity."

There in one glorious sentence we get post-war American leadership contrasted with the current American leader's math skills. The sun has indeed set on the American era.


Trailblazer said...

The sun has indeed set on the American era.

I think that there is a danger that the realisation by Americans of their demise will be met with disbelief , denial and destruction of those thought to have ruined their day!

Meanwhile there are many articles and books relating to the 'quiet' takeover by the Chinese of the worlds economy.


Toby said...

What Americans, those in power and those who want power, do not seem to understand is that their threats generate reactions from the likes of Korea, Iran, Venezuela, etc. Essentially, Trump's bravado (or GW Bush) inspires Kim & crew to build their own nuke and Iran to buy or trade for one. There are rumours that NK is getting help from somewhere. Has Iran loaned NK some nuclear scientists in return for a cut price nuke? As to Venezuela, Trump has probably built political support for the Maduro government.

Is all this intended? Are the threats needed to scare the gullibilies into a bigger arms race?

Toby said...

As a side, Mound, if you have an hour to spare watch this lecture by Eben Moglen.


"Eben Moglen talks about freedom of thought, data mining, facebook, google, Steve Jobs' death, and what we can do about it."

The issue is that the Internet is ant-privacy, anti freedom by design. It wasn't meant to be this way but the designers did not see the threat. This is about poor design contributing to our freedom being taken away.

We can think of it this way. If the Internet protocols had been designed with privacy the Russians would not have been able to use Facebook and/or Twitter to influence the last American election.

Anonymous said...

It was China, through economic means, which directly enabled North Korean regime the access to A-bomb. So Chinese will have to put up with a possible mess of cleaning the mess. I say possible, but not very probable.

Much, much more ominous, is Trump's attack on Iran's nuclear deal. This might lead to a real war, as Bibi is in 7-th heaven.

Toby said...

Anonymous said, It was China, through economic means, which directly enabled North Korean regime the access to A-bomb."

How do you know that? I can't imagine the Chinese wanting a nuclear bomb near their border any more than the Americans do.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's long been understood that Korea swapped its missile technology to Pakistan for "civilian" nuclear technology. A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, the vaunted "Islamic Bomb," shopped his knowledge around to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

You're right, Toby. That's the last thing China wanted on its own doorstep.

Anonymous said...

How do I know that?
Because for decades(!) China was a sole supplier of a vital economic materiel needed to keep NK regime afloat. In the past, a sealed China - NK border would have caused an immediate collapse of NK. But this would mean unification of Korea under Seul's flag. Not that good, for China.
I can easily imagine that Chinese gambled that the decades long distraction offered by NK regime outweighed possible risks.

Toby said...

"Because for decades(!) China was a sole supplier of a vital economic materiel needed to keep NK regime afloat"

Have you looked at a map? NK shares a border with Russia. The Soviets heavily supported NK until the Wall came down and Russia tossed the Soviet system. Then NK ran into serious economic trouble. Yes, China has helped NK. It serves China's interest to have a buffer between it and Sk and its American military bases.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon, what you're saying is that you don't "know" anything. You're speculating, surmising, extrapolating supposed facts from what you suspect. In the process you're substituting your suspicions for what is already known and well confirmed.

Anonymous said...

Mound, in your posts you appear as all-knowing deity or, at least, as a dude who has direct line to CIA, KGB, Mossad and even Pope.
Your very statement: "China will not tolerate that sort of conflict chaos on their border. They certainly will not tolerate the use of even tactical nuclear weapons on their doorstep." is a PURE speculation.
The FACT that China was a lifeline and sponsor of NK regime for decades is indisputable, though. The fact that China had means and ability to topple NK regime at will, is also indisputable. Chinese might not be too happy with the final result of their sponsorship, but on the other hand, US focus on NK allow them some limelight to quietly continue to build their empire in Asia.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon, it's not that I am omniprescient. It's just that you display a weak foundational knowledge of the postwar history of that region. China would not tolerate what Trump has threatened, the annihilation of North Korea. It's well known that any attack against North Korea would have to be a decapitating first strike. That would require not just eliminating Kim and his regime but also neutralizing his nuclear and chemical arsenals before NK could launch a devastating missile attack against Japan and South Korea. That would require a strike with tactical nuclear weapons. Much of NK's medium-range ballistic arsenal is mobile. Imagine a nuclear power making a credible threat to use such weapons against targets in northern Mexico. Do you think the US would tolerate that? Since you're interested in this you might find it helpful to brush up on the still accepted theories of nuclear escalation.

The Mound of Sound said...

To perhaps save you a bit of time, Anon, you might focus on Herman Khan and Bernard Brodie.

Funny you should mention the CIA et al. In the first few years after I started this blog I had a stat counter that logged visits according to location and sometimes organizations. I began to find certain repeat visitors. Lockheed was a regular as I questioned aspects of the F-35. Two other regulars were US Naval Intelligence and US Army Intelligence. Yes, the CIA has visited as has the FBI, even the Speaker of the US Senate. I found that a lot of them used an obscure web browser called Rippers.0 which sent me on a futile hunt to find out what in hell that was. I gave up, took down the stat counter and haven't worried about it for years.

There was one chilling incident I recall. I had this blog set up as two web pages through Go Daddy. Then the blog disappeared. Go Daddy said those web sites had been transferred to some guy named Ruiz from Kansas City, Missouri, a place I've never been anywhere near. Nor do I know anyone named Ruiz. I disputed it but Go Daddy said Ruiz had the authentication code required for the transfer something that, apparently, would have required hacking into my sites to steal. The thing is, Ruiz, if that was his name, did nothing with them. The entire effort was just to shut them down. That too is history and I'll probably never know what was behind it.

Anonymous said...

"still accepted theories of nuclear escalation" What? WTF? Was ist das for God's sake? Who accepted them? In writing or what?
Those are "theories" are not worth paying attention to. Any recent FACTUAL examples of nuclear escalation(s)? No one knows for sure what might happen.
To quote you "You're speculating, surmising, extrapolating supposed facts from what you suspect."

The Mound of Sound said...

I don't know what to say, Anon. You seem intent on remaining as ignorant as possible. I have suggested you do some reading on this subject. It has been intensely studied by military and political institutions, Soviet and Western, for decades and it informs Russian and American military planning today. These theories are at the heart of nuclear weapon and missile design and deployment and, should it come to it, their use. You can be dismissive of what you do not wish to understand but that only makes you a moron. Now, be off with you. You're not only childish, you're boring.

Anonymous said...

A nail in the coffin of your argument Mound:

Among the earliest computer models conceived in the Pentagon and related offices are those for blowing up the world by means of thermonuclear war. Many minds, some of them brilliant, not to mention decades of computer time, have been devoted to charting the course of nuclear conflict, complete with intricate calculations of first strikes, second strikes, limited strikes, and so forth. Yet almost all of this constitutes what Spinney’s former Pentagon colleague Pierre Sprey dubbed “data-free analysis.” There are precisely two data points for the real-world effects of nuclear weapons: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And as it so happens, they gave rather different results (the Nagasaki bomb killed far fewer people than its creators anticipated). The nuclear war models that dictate war plans (and weapons budgets) calculate target effects based on the theoretically projected explosive “yield” of various weapons, but I am reliably informed that actual bomb tests regularly produce totally unanticipated yields. Similarly, models assume a theoretical pinpoint accuracy for intercontinental ballistic missiles that has not been replicated in the limited number of actual tests of such missiles (real-world missile tests are expensive, after all, and they tend to generate unwelcome results).

In short, the models are worthless, and no one really has the faintest idea of what would happen in a nuclear war!

The Mound of Sound said...

An article from an Irish journo in TruthDig, really? He obviously has little understanding of how those theories of escalation served an invaluable purpose these past many decades by restraining the use of nuclear weapons when there were senior individuals seriously contemplating their use.

Believe what you like. As far as I'm concerned you're unconvincing. You could try reading something a bit more informative. How about books, the real deal? There's a good place to start and, no, not Dr. Strangelove either.

Anonymous said...

Are you ever wrong, Mound?

The quotes are from EXPERTS such as former Pentagon analyst Chuck Spinney (with a 30-year career) and Spinney’s former Pentagon colleague Pierre Sprey.
What military analyst's expertise do you have, eh?
Just books with TWO data points?

The Mound of Sound said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry, Anon. We're done with this discussion. You're wasting my time. I have great respect for both Spinney, a critic of Pentagon bloated spending, and Sprey, a member of Boyd's Fighter Mafia and an ardent critic of the F-15 and F-35, but their expertise is not in nuclear technology or escalation.

I claim no expertise in nuclear matters but I have done what you plainly haven't. I have identified the experts, Bernard Brodie, Albert Wohlstetter, Thomas Schelling and Herman Kahn among others, and read some of their reports. Look them up on Wiki.

I'll repeat - our conversation is futile and it's over.