_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Latter Days of a Better Nation, Part VI


A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace.
-- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, “Fear God and Take Your Own Part,” 1916

A century ago, America had an articulate and educated president who understood the strategic necessity of sea power.

But then, that president was a graduate of the great educational institutions of America where he had studied in detail naval strategy and who as a student wrote a paper titled “The Naval War of 1812” that remains a full 100 years later an oft cited standard study of that war. Before he was president, Theodore Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy and his orders to the commander of the US Navy’s Asiatic Squadron, Admiral George Dewey, are credited by Dewey himself with victory at the Battle of Manila Bay. When a peaceful solution to conflict with Spain could not be found, Roosevelt gave up his office to become a cavalry officer of the US Volunteers and leader of the famous Rough Riders where he would win the Medal of Honor for his astounding heroism in battle.

Despite his many faults, and despite valid criticism of his actions and policies, Theodore Roosevelt remains one of America’s truly great leaders, a genuine cowboy, a war hero, a peacemaker, a diplomat, a scholar, a conservationist, a naturalist, a military strategist, a consummate politician, a humanitarian, and a president who truly understood the machinations of politics and the workings of power on a global scale.

More, Roosevelt, despite being born to privilege was always and ever aware of his responsibility as a leader to both the nation and to history.

Today … well, yes, today.



Today, America is being lectured on naval strategy by a guy who doesn’t know the difference between "straights" and "strait."

But then it gets better.

"China gets 91% of its Oil from the Straight [sic], Japan 62%, & many other countries likewise. So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation. All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been a dangerous journey. We don’t even need to be there in that the U.S. has just become (by far) the largest producer of Energy anywhere in the world! The U.S. request for Iran is very simple - No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!"

If you need an example of a non sequitur logical fallacy, this is a pretty good one.

As usual, Trump begins as he always does: power is for profit.

Trump never reminds you that power comes with responsibility, because he doesn’t believe that. No, for Trump power is about one thing: money.

Specifically, Trump implies US sea power is something we do for profit and then, somehow, he ends up at Iranian nuclear ambitions via US domestic energy production.

As I said, a non sequitur logical fallacy in that one most assuredly does not follow the other.

But then, that is the hallmark of this administration.


Everyday with Trump is like that Calvin & Hobbes cartoon where Calvin is completely unprepared for Mrs. Wormwood's question and just starts shouting random answers: The Gettysburg Address! War of 1812! Lewis and Clark! Spaghetti!


Let us begin here then:  US strategic power isn't a business.

We do not profit from our military.

Other nations do not pay us for protection, nor should they.

We don't project sea power for the purpose of making a profit, but rather to secure the sea lanes for our own use and that of our allies.

The Strait of Hormuz is a strategic chokepoint, one of the most critical waterways in the world. Not just because it is the primary passage for Gulf state oil, or because it allows the US military access to our allies (and our enemies) and US commercial interests access to their markets, suppliers, and customers, but because what happens there to both our enemies and our allies affects the entire world.

This is the very purpose of sea power; something previous presidents have understood in detail.

The fact that other nations benefit from our military power is incidental.

Also, it should be noted since Trump himself specifically used the example: Japan does not have a navy.

Japan has a Maritime Self-Defense Force to protect their sovereignty and their interests in their own waters.

But the nation does not have a blue-water navy to protect their commerce on the high seas.

This is by design.

Our design.

Japan does not have a navy because the United States and her allies defeated Imperial Japan at the end of WWII and the agreements which ended that conflict and Japan's formal acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration dissolved Japan's military forces. When a new Japanese government was formed following the war, it specifically declared: "The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes" and they put that in their new constitution verbatim as Article 9 in 1947. And what an example, and an admonishment, to the rest of us.

For the last 70 years, the US has provided protection, at least in part, for Japanese shipping on the high seas – as America does for all of its allies. Not for profit or for prestige or for conquest, but because it is in our best interest to ensure freedom of the seas for all nations, friend and foe alike.

Because when freedom of the sea lanes is not enforced for all, war follows. Always.

This is what Roosevelt meant when he said, A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace.

As to China, do you believe it is in our best interests that the Chinese navy became the peacekeeping force in the Arabian Gulf? Or the Russian navy? Or the Indians? Really?


For some reason, I am suddenly reminded of the decline of the British Empire and how it ceded control of the seas to younger, more vital nations in the interests of saving itself a few pounds.


But I digress.

Trump’s assertion that "we don't need to be there in that the U.S. has just become (by far) the largest producer of Energy [sic] anywhere in the world!" demonstrates a profound ignorance of history, the purpose of US strategic power projection, and global energy production.

War in the Gulf is bad for the entire world, both now and into the future.

It is in our best interests to prevent that conflict and to keep that waterway open and free to passage of all vessels whether we get a single drop of oil from the Arabian Gulf or not.

Moreover, and beyond the geopolitics of the Strait of Hormuz, all energy is not the same.

All energy production is not equal.

And production of energy is not the same as the process of acquisition, refining, and distribution of the materials necessary for the production of that energy.

Nuclear energy, for example, requires materials and technologies far beyond the simple mining of uranium. And it is the same with oil or gas, wind or solar – or oxen pushing a cane-mill around and ‘round for that matter.

Trump's declaration that the US is the largest producer of energy in this context implies not only that all energy production is the same, but all forms of energy are interchangeable at all levels of our civilization and are produced at the same rate, for the same cost, and at same level of technology and purpose.

This is patently ridiculous in all regards.

Trump’s comment is a gross oversimplification of an incredibly complex subject.

For example, not all crude oil is the same.

Did you know that? Trump doesn’t seem to. The majority of our congressmen and Senators don’t seem to know this.

Not all oil is created equal. The oil from Saudi Arabi and the oil squeezed out of Canadian Tar Sands is not even vaguely similar.

Oil is graded by three factors, viscosity, volatility, and toxicity.

More viscous oil is thicker. What does that mean, thicker? Well, what it means in practical terms is that it takes more energy to move that oil, to pump it out of the ground, to transport it, to refine it.

And more energy means more cost.

Which means the final products made from that oil are more expensive.

More volatile oil contains the most desired light compounds, the kind of stuff you make gasoline from for example. But those compounds evaporate quickly, that’s what volatile means. It’s also much more flammable. And so this more volatile oil requires more advanced processing, safety, and transportation technologies to prevent it from evaporating, or exploding, during extraction from the ground, during pumping and transport, during refining. Meaning you can’t use just any tanker or any pipeline or run it through just any refinery.

Toxicity refers to how poisonous the oil is. What percentage of the oil is made up of toxic sulfur compounds for example. Oil heavy with sulfur compounds is very difficult to process, it's extremely expensive to refine it into lighter products -- such as gasoline or jet fuels. And that production produces huge amounts of toxic compounds that have to be disposed of. The majority of oil in the world is highly toxic, including much of the oil produced in North America.

With advances in recovery technology, yes, the US now pumps a huge amount of oil, or gets it from Canadian tar sands. But much of that oil is heavy, thick, toxic low volatility crude that can't be used for our most common energy requirement, i.e. transportation. Because that oil is thick toxic goo, i.e. heavy sour crude, we export it, mostly to Asia where it's used for bunker oils, heavy fuel oil, lubricants, industrial processes, plastics, and etc.

And we still have to import light sweet crude (low viscosity, volatile, low sulfur) oil to refine into gasoline, diesel, kerosene, heating oil, jet fuel, and so on.

So does the rest of the world.


But then there's the dismount.


“The U.S. request for Iran is very simple - No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!”

That’s what Trump said. That’s where he ended up. There.

And yet, literally, the sentence immediately prior to that is, “We don’t even need to be there in that the U.S. has just become (by far) the largest producer of Energy anywhere in the world!”

No nuclear weapons?

No sponsoring of terror?

Why?

Iran is far away. If the US did not maintain a presence in that region, then Iran would have no beef with us. Right? So why would they sponsor terrorism or wage nuclear war against us? Why then would we care what they do? 

What?

What’s that?

Israel, you say? What if Iran attacks Israel?

So?

So what?

According to Trump’s own statement, that’s not our problem.

I mean, we don’t make any profit from defending Israel, do we? We don’t get any energy from Israel. So who cares, right? Why is it our problem? Why don’t they just defend themselves?

You again? What now?

Oh, I see. That’s different.

Except, of course, it’s not. And I am being sarcastic and not actually suggesting we abandon our allies and the nations of that region simply because we might not directly profit from them.

We do need to be there.

Not just because of Israel. Or Saudi Arabia. Or Kuwait. Or our other allies such as the U.A.E and Bahrain. 

We do need to be there.

Not because we do or do not profit from the region but because securing the sea lanes for our own use and for that of both friend and foe alike is in our best interest.

We need to be there in the Middle East, because what happens there affects us all.

We need to be there because, like it or not, the United States cannot stand alone and because being an ally cuts both ways.

We need to be there because if we are not there to secure the sea lanes – and thus access to the Gulf – then someone else will be and that nation will control the global economy.

We need to be there because America is part of that global economy and what affects our allies – and our enemies – impacts us both directly and indirectly. Because our trade and production is global. Because if Japan and China and other nations that are a critical part of our economy are cut off from light sweet crude oil produced in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, it will have a direct and immediate and unpleasant impact on our nation. 

Beyond that, money from oil is what powers the banks of the U.A.E and other Middle Eastern financial centers. Those banks in turn fund a huge amount of the global economy. If Saudi and Kuwaiti oil money stop flowing through those banks – because war closes the Strait of Hormuz for example – then very, very likely the global economy will collapse and fall into chaos the likes of which will make 2007 look like a bad day at the track. All the fracking wells punched into your water table, all the tar sands crude oil, and all the natural gas in the world, will do you not a goddamned bit of good when the critical parts you need to run your economy come from nations cut off from their energy sources and the global economy has imploded into massive recession. And, unless you own a Tesla, you can't run your car on it either, or transport goods over your highways or down your rail lines.

Trump's childish boast of America's energy production in this context is not only a non sequitur, it demonstrates a staggering lack of understanding of global economics.

Trump ranks every relationship by how it might profit him, the manifestation of a life of selfishness.

Donald Trump sees everything in terms of money. For him power is merely a means to profit, and profit means more power. But the world is far, far more complicated than that and Trump can’t even manage to string together two pitiful tweets and maintain a coherent train of thought between them.

Our president, like far too many American leaders, is an ignorant fool. He is the product of privilege without responsibility, of power without education or temper, of might without compassion or empathy.

A century ago, we had a president of vast intellectual curiosity, a scholar and a diplomat and a warrior, a man who won both the Nobel Peace Prize and the Medal of Honor, and a leader who understood in his very bones the complexity of global politics and the absolute responsibility of power and privilege. Statesman. Scholar. Soldier. Intellectual. Humanitarian of compassion, sympathy, and respect for his follows. In this regard, Roosevelt was not at all dissimilar to the men who founded the United States itself.

Over the last century, as the traits we demand of our leaders have diminished, so has our nation.


Force is never more operative than when it is known to exist but is not brandished.
-- Alfred Thayer Mahan, US naval strategist, “Armaments and Arbitration, Or, The Place of Force in the International Relations of States,” 1912

50 comments:

  1. The other thing to remember is that in Trump's worldview every transaction has a winner and a loser - there is no room for a deal from which both sides prosper. So if we're not screwing someone, then by definition we're getting screwed. He looks at the projection of sea power and he doesn't see a mutual benefit for all, he sees that we're not screwing someone with this deal so the world must instead be screwing us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is also the case with his views on trade.

      It's one of the main reasons why he is staggeringly wrong on things like foreign policy or trade. His model for what determines "success" is totally incongruent to how any of these function.

      Delete
  2. Cogent as usual. Donald (Money is King) Trump hasn't got the intellectual wherewithal to rub two sticks together.

    One typo: "We need to be there because, like it or not, the United States cannot not stand alone and because being an ally cuts both ways."

    You've got a double negative in there, Chief.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I do not like to be one of "those" who delight in pointing out your typos and mistakes, but I am truly wondering if this is a typo? If not, what exactly do you mean. Is there a 2nd "not" here, or not?

    "We need to be there because, like it or not, the United States cannot not stand alone and because being an ally cuts both ways."

    That said, another outstanding essay! I worked in the oil transport business for awhile and learned much of what you're saying. It's mind-bogglingly complex. Also, where I learned to remember how many zeros are in a trillion. And, yeah. Trump just doesn't "get" it. All of it. Or none, depending on your point of view.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's just typo, not any great mystery. I'll fix it.

      Delete
  4. For over 250 years, the United States was the heart and soul of the world. That all came to an end in Novenmber, 2018.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I was today years old when I first learned about the inequalities in crude. Thanks for the lesson. I also feel a bit clearer on justifying our presence in the Middle East - at least as it applies to the Strait of Hormuz. Do we dare hope that our present administration will see the value in keeping that zone conflict-free? Isn't it about time for some more White House staff to be terminated? Bolton and Pompeo would be nice. . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bolton and Pompeo, yes. That would be a relief.

      Delete
    2. I only knew about the different types thanks to Tom Clancy novels.

      Delete
  6. Jim, years ago I used to point out errors in your writing, but now I don't because they prove that a human is behind the writing process. Otherwise another well thought out analysis of our 'glorious leader.' I use that phrase because I'm practicing for the day he makes it mandatory after he overthrows our government and sets himself up as a 1 man junta, el presidente for life.

    ReplyDelete
  7. As I'm reading the beginning, I'm thinking to myself, "Hmmm... I wonder if Jim let's his past service in the Navy color his thinking."

    Except that I've read and/or thought most of these things myself, from multiple sources, over 30+ years of first interest in the WWII conflict, and then an increasing interest in global affairs.

    The world IS integrated, no matter how much these isolationists would have us think otherwise.

    There's so much more than profit to this world, but it seems that the leadership right now is completely blind to that. There's so much more than power, as well, but they also seem blind to that.

    I just hope that in the next election cycle, the opposition (basically, Democrats) can get their heads out of their collective asses, and understand that they'll never get things done if they keep up their inner bickering. Stop all the vanity campaigns, rally round just a couple of candidates who've got support, and pick a goddamn winner.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Spot on, as usual, even though you've vastly overrated 45's intelligence. I'm surprised that this waste of cytoplasm can get his pants on in the morning.

    ReplyDelete
  9. .............................

    Thank you again, Mr. Wright.

    ��

    ReplyDelete
  10. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Actions have consequences. We have a creature with the intellectual capacity of a 7 year old at the controls of a multi trillion dollar enterprise. We can only hope that he doesn't run it too war into the ditch...

    ReplyDelete
  11. 2nd try - typo fix:
    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Actions have consequences. We have a creature with the intellectual capacity of a 7 year old at the controls of a multi trillion dollar enterprise. We can only hope that he doesn't run it too far into the ditch...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ethiessen1 - I think you didn't have it too far off, the first time! ;)

      Delete
  12. Every day I think that there is no way that this man could be any less informed.
    Then I open my twitter feed.
    Yesterday, it was foolishness about paying for highways and weapons with tariffs.
    Today it is a complete lack of understanding of the primary mission of the United States Navy.
    I sometimes wonder if he is actually this stupid, or if he is just fucking with us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He really is that stupid.

      Delete
    2. I think he is stupid and evil.
      I don't use the word evil often or lightly.
      The man is evil.

      Delete
  13. Well said, Chief. I couldn’t help but think that when you stated “Trump’s comment was a gross oversimplification...”, that actually Trump is an oversimplification. Period. There’s more complexity in a bottle of Boone’s Farm wine (yeah, they still make that crap) than there is in the moron occupying the Oval Office and infesting the White House.

    What horrors will actually have to befall his supporters before they open their eyes and admit that electing him was a colossal fuck up?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I fully endorse what you've said here. Folks don't seem to get how thin the veneer of the global economy is and how a relatively small drop in worldwide economic output would have such an enormous impact.
    And choosing to highlight and compare the situation with TR is also right on, we need that kind of strong, intellectual personality paired with an understanding of the nature of the problem and an idea of how to address them.
    Of all the candidates who have presented themselves only Elizabeth Warren can be said to have a chance of fitting that description. You are right though, it's going to take someone who can transform things like TR, FDR, and to a lesser extent Reagan, to get us out of this.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The Trump family is a textbook example of the need for inheritance taxes.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Well researched, attributed, and stated. As per the norm. Thank you for putting all of this together in a concise, cogent form for the masses Chief. Carry on.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is a beautiful piece, as always. Thank you for your insight and forethought. I always learn so much from your essays and appreciate the time, research, and knowledge you put into each one.

    There's so much here that I either wasn't aware of, or had a limited understanding. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I applaud your analysis of the tweets and your knowledge of oil and it's different types and uses. Thanks for your exposition of this passage in the Gospel of Trump.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Please run for the Senate. Or whatever. We need you in Government.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I like your analysis of naval figures and influence and US influence generally internationally but I don't agree that what we demand of leaders has changed; rather we have had good and bad.

    A century ago, the President was Woodrow Wilson, possibly the most overrated President in history. He was succeeded by Warren Harding, a Trump-like figure. But there were better ones after. We did well with FDR and his successors until Reagan. Obama was a decent conservative.

    I think we fluctuate between choosing Presidents who "represent" us (that is, mirror our desires) and Presidents who, one way or another, attempt greatness. Self-regard rules our politics. And sometimes, usually desperate times, a great leader slips through the haze of self-regard. We get a Washington, a Lincoln, an FDR. But there are no guarantees.

    I hope for the best in the next election!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said! Personally, I don't want a president who is like me, I want a president who is _better_ than me.

      Delete
  21. You have 'Stateman' instead of 'Statesman' in your second-to-last paragraph. Other than that, though: bravo!

    Cheers, Renee.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Price, Price, Price. Without fossil fuels from other countries' production, and isolationism in our own usage, oil and gas companies are free to set a high price on the United States public.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Fascinating informative and excellent essay as always Jim Wright. Thankyou.

    One minor nit for you here - an 'a' needed to end Arabia - unless you were going for the old-fashioned "Araby" to go along with Cipangu (Japan), Siam (Thailand) and Cathy? (China.) ;-) :

    "Not all oil is created equal. The oil from Saudi Arabi and the oil squeezed out of Canadian Tar Sands is not even vaguely similar."

    ReplyDelete
  24. "Our president, like far too many American leaders, is an ignorant fool. He is the product of privilege without responsibility, of power without education or temper, of might without compassion or empathy."
    -- this should be the standard disclaimer for every @RealDonalTrump tweet!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Trumputin's mind is a blank slate when it comes to history and we are all paying for that every day. This is 100% on point, of course; too bad it will not be read by anyone in the administration.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Elegantly, and terrifyingly, written.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Sorry, but Jim lives in redder than red northwest Florida, home of Matt Gaetz. Lest you forget, our chosen Senators are Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, and Ron DeSantis is governor. I don't care how many people try to convince you Florida is a purple state. It's just not.

    ReplyDelete
  28. $45 is a simpleton. He naturally avoids everything with any real complexity: geopolitics, domestic issues, healthy personal relationships. Another example of his undeveloped mind and complete lack of curiosity. That said, I believe that TR campaigned himself for the Medal of Honor and was more than willing to sacrifice his own children to WWI because of his romantic notions of war and what it means to be a real man.

    ReplyDelete
  29. "We don't project sea power for the purpose of making a profit, but rather to secure the sea lanes for our own use and that of our allies." Jim,you know this; I know this; most of your readers know this, but the "Leader of the Free World" does not.

    Please, everybody vote.

    ReplyDelete
  30. All through this Iran crisis, I keep wondering if the naval wargame "Millennium Challenge 2002" still applies. Further, even though Wikipedia claims that only Russia and China have Russian Type 65 torpedoes, how certain are we that neither country has secretly sold Iran any? Those torpedoes, designed by the Soviet Union to sink US carriers, have the range to cross the entire Strait of Horuz. I'd imagine it would be easy to sneak in a few shore batteries of those, much like the shore battery of torpedoes that sank the German heavy cruiser Bl├╝cher in a Norwegian fjord in WWII.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Well-explained, which is not always easy when it comes to the basic simplicity of the complexities of the interaction between nations, resources, ambitions, and actions. It is a sad state of affairs that not only Trump, and a great many of our 'leaders' have neither the depth of education nor the understanding, let alone the wherewithal, to make things 'work' beyond their goals of quick and steady profit.
    It is unfortunate that a great deal of the population does not grasp what is truly at stake promoting Trump's feeble ability to 'lead'...and, even worse, have no motivation to discover anything that would reveal the true magnitude of his weaknesses and faults.
    Good job as always, Jim

    ReplyDelete
  32. Great essay, Jim, just as was your previous essay, “Remember the Maine.” A lot of good historical information in both. But I think you somewhat overstated our benign intentions in the world (though I’ll note, you never used the word “benign”).

    You wrote, “We don't project sea power for the purpose of making a profit, but rather to secure the sea lanes for our own use and that of our allies.”

    Most of our military involvement seems to be concerned with our own economic interests, and certainly those of the U.S. business class. True, in the case of the Strait of Hormuz, our entire global economy could be severely compromised if it were itself to be somehow compromised. Not to wander too far astray, but our dependence on LSC seems to have been our entire purpose for having given a damn since at least the Carter Doctrine after the partitioning of the ME after WWII.

    We’re in a bit too deep with that entire region, especially Israel, in order to withdraw at this point. Too much “investment” in military bases. I’m dismayed by that fact. Our political/business/religious class effect some semblance of regional stability, but jesus, look at the terrible price we and our victims in the region pay. I honestly don’t think our intentions are benign. Those which do appear so are in fact, themselves, incidental to the rest of the world.

    But I’ll admit, I’m just a former puddle-jumper, so my understanding of world affairs is probably not the most informed.

    Leroy

    ReplyDelete
  33. To me it is rather simple zero sum choice for president Trump. If we don't need to be 'policing' the world's oceans, then we no longer need a blue water navy that is as large as America's is today.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Trump is the end result of a country that has devalued it education system. Many, if not most, schools don't even teach civics anymore. It's no wonder a startling percentage of the population don't even know there are three branches of government or what they're primary responsibilities are.

    The 4 out of 5 Supreme Court justices who just refrained from weighing in against states' gerrymandering were appointed by Presidents who did not win the popular vote. To today's GOP, democracy is paid lip service but apparently considered a quaint concept in their inner circles. Power and money is now sacrosanct.

    Or as Benjamin Franklin, upon leaving the First Constitutional Convention, once quipped to a passer-by asking what they had created, "A Republic, if you can keep it". We may not have quite lost it yet, but we're trying pretty goddam hard to!

    Love your stuff, keep doing what you're doing.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Wow.
    Your articles are always high quality, but this is top shelf stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  36. As always, you distill it down to an eloquent, cogent argument...that will unfortunately be denied by many because it conflicts with their emotional prejudices.

    Still worth writing, because a LOT of fence-sitters can read it to decide where they want to stand.

    On another note: I have a Stonekettle pen from one of the early batches, that look like *this* ( https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DSUMqvnWAAEOYSl.jpg ), and I've somehow managed to mess it up so the ink cartridge ball-point doesn't stick out proud enough of the pen tip. Is there any way for me to adjust it so it does, please? doughayden AT hotmail DOT com

    TIA, and please keep on writing!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I really appreciated this discussion. Thank you for outlining the differences in oil quality. I had assumed there would be some differentiation, but hadn't realized the differences were so important to consider.
    I also appreciate that you give us just enough information about the complexity of international trade and the global economy to come to our own conclusions without getting bogged down in the details.

    Thank you for, once again, cutting through the BS and educating along the way.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I don't think our current administration admits the existence of any other purpose than profit. Nor is war something it wants to avoid particularly; the idea of a war rather tickles the Donald with the tempting possibilities of PR images of himself with his chin airbrushed into a Stern Visage. Also, since he sees the Presidency in terms of owning the USA (Immigrants off my yard! Build a big wall round My ESTATE!) or at least being its Absolute Dictator (Whatever I want is what The People DEMAND!) the military is now his biggest toy, and he can barely stand the temptation to take it out and see how many other countries he can "beat", and force to pretend to believe his bullshit. Forcing every other person on the planet to stop doubting his bullshit is ultimate endgame, since reality is (for Trump) what he can make other people pretend to believe.

    Of course he wants to use our military to "make money" which will be just as reality-based as the idea he currently has, that he is "using tariffs to make money". He frequently tweets the moronic notion that his tariffs are "costing" China and Mexico and "paying" the USA! He has never run a business successfully, ever, and has only managed to pretend to make himself wealthier by lying, refusing to pay debts, fraud, tax fraud, and theft. Generating debt to write off, and using debt to defraud the government, money laundering for the Russian mafia, selling condos to anonymous criminals for bags of bloody rubles-- these aren't the stuff of workable business models. By the time he was so washed up, financially, that he was forced to go to work for a living, the only thing the media companies could think of to do with him was a reality show with him playing the role of a Big Businessman-- it's his only skill, pretending to be a smart CEO.

    Repeating these basic fundamental tenets- that profit is not the purpose of the government, or even less of our military; that honor is important, and it's not okay to make promises and break them, or contract debts and refuse to acknowledge them-- is the only way I can see to get through this era of politics. Clinging to truths, and refusing to be sidetracked by illusions and bullshit no matter how often bullshit artists try to attack you through your lizard-brain or emotional reflexes.

    I don't think our country is divided between right and left any more so much as between people who believe reality and truth matter, and those who worship only the Narrative and fit facts to whatever Narrative they are serving. Liberty-minded people on both 'right' and 'left' who agree that facts matter and that we should not build policy on lies need desperately to work together-- as Brett Weinstein points out, the authoritarians on Left and Right cannot do the same, for Antifa and the Trump Gestapo wish only to annihilate one another-- not have a reasonable debate about how to live together and best pursue our lives and various values.

    ReplyDelete

Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.