24 February 2018   Leave a comment

Reuters is reporting that the US is developing a plan to interdict vessels on the high seas or in the territorial waters of cooperating countries suspected of carrying contraband cargo to and from North Korea.  The US Treasury Department has photos of vessels that violate the UN and US sanctions by altering their identifications in order to avoid detection.  Much of the trade conducted in this way is transferred on the high seas and not in ports which can be more easily monitored.  Interdiction on the high seas comes close to the technical definition of a blockade which is an act of war and the UN Security Council has not authorized the interdiction (and, if proposed in the Security Council, the measure would certainly be vetoed by both China and Russia).   In particular, the Chinese are furious about the most recent sanctions levied by the US on specific Chinese vessels.  There is no question that North Korea would consider the interdiction of any of its vessels as an act of war.  It remains to be seen if US allies will agree to participate in this plan.

Screenshot of intelligence photo of North Korea trading at sea.

 

I have posted many articles on the growing income and wealth inequality in the world, the causes of which are globalization’s ability to facilitate the use of low wage labor any place in the world and the process of automation.  The declining share of labor in the growing world economy is most evident in the US, but it is happening everywhere, even in low wage countries.  It is this latter fact that is most troubling since it implied that there is no reason to believe that simple economic activity will reverse this process.  The process can only be reversed by direct political action to redistribute the benefits of economic growth away from capital and back to labor.

 

The UN Security Council has voted for a 30 day cease-fire in Syria in order to allow the evacuation of civilians and to permit humanitarian supplies to reach the embattled civilians.  Cease-fires have not worked in the past.  The last proposed cease-fire collapsed on the day it was supposed to take effect.  The need for a cease-fire is urgent–more than 500 people have died in the last week alone.  Russia delayed the resolution for three days and the Syrian government indicated that it would continue to press the attack on what it considers to be terrorists and rebels.  There does not appear to be any compelling reason to believe that this cease-fire will be effective, but there are indications that the Russians may be reconsidering its full-throated support of Syrian President Assad.

Posted February 24, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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