5 April 2018   Leave a comment

John Bolton will become the National Security Adviser in a few short days.  He will likely be a dramatic change from H.R. McMaster, although it is always difficult to predict how the office may shape the views of the person who holds it.  But Bolton remains a staunch supporter of the Iraq invasion in 2003, which I regard as the worst foreign policy decision made since the US emerged on the world stage after  1945.  According to the New York Times:

“While Mr. Trump’s criticism of the Iraq war during the campaign raised the possibility that he might take a less aggressive stance on foreign policy, no one was a more vociferous proponent of that disastrous invasion than Mr. Bolton, a position he has not renounced. At the time, Mr. Bolton said Iraqis would welcome American troops. He also said the United States’ military role would be over quickly as Iraqis exercised their new freedom from Saddam Hussein and established a democracy. It was the sort of simplistic and wrongheaded position that he takes on most policies.”

Mr. Bolton has also played fast and loose with evidence to support his positions.  On the issue of the Iranian nuclear program, he argued that Iran was well advanced in its nuclear program in 2004.  Gareth Porter examined the evidence that Bolton used to support his position:

“Bolton’s strategy was based on the claim that Iran was hiding its military nuclear program from the IAEA, and in early 2004, he came up with a dramatic propaganda ploy: he sent a set of satellite images to the IAEA showing sites at the Iranian military reservation at Parchin that he claimed were being used for tests to simulate nuclear weapons. Bolton demanded that the IAEA request access to inspect those sites and leaked his demand to the Associated Press in September 2004. In fact, the satellite images showed nothing more than bunkers and buildings for conventional explosives testing.

“Bolton was apparently hoping the Iranian military would not agree to any IAEA inspections based on such bogus claims, thus playing into his propaganda theme of Iran’s ‘intransigence’ in refusing to answer questions about its nuclear program. But in 2005 Iran allowed the inspectors into those sites and even let them choose several more sites to inspect. The inspectors found no evidence of any nuclear-related activities.”

“But the whole story of the so-called ‘laptop documents’ was a fabrication. In 2013, a former senior German official revealed the true story to this writer: the documents had been given to German intelligence by the Mujahedin E Khalq, the anti-Iran armed group that was well known to have been used by Mossad to ‘launder’ information the Israelis did not want attributed to themselves.”

Bolton has also mapped out a way to force Iran itself to break the nuclear agreement.  He wrote an article for The National Review in August of 2017 outlining a series of steps to take to provoke Iran to end cooperation.  Most of those steps are highly provocative and close to a declaration of war.  The steps include:

‐ End all landing and docking rights for all Iranian aircraft and ships at key allied ports;

‐ End all visas for Iranians, including so called “scholarly,” student, sports, or other exchanges;

‐ Demand payment with a set deadline on outstanding U.S. federal-court judgments against Iran for terrorism, including 9/11;

‐ Announce U.S. support for the democratic Iranian opposition;

‐ Expedite delivery of bunker-buster bombs;

‐ Announce U.S. support for Kurdish national aspirations, including Kurds in Iran, Iraq, and Syria;

‐ Provide assistance to Balochis, Khuzestan Arabs, Kurds, and others — also to internal resistance among labor unions, students, and women’s groups;

‐ Actively organize opposition to Iranian political objectives in the U.N.

There is no question that Bolton will actively seek to end the nuclear agreement despite clear evidence that Iran has upheld the agreement.

John Bolton

 

The Washington Post published a story about the impact of the proposed Chinese tariffs on a variety of US agricultural and industrial sectors and the analysis suggests that the damage to certain sectors of the American economy could be significant.  The Chinese tariffs are incredibly selective, targeting states that supported President Trump in the 2016 election, and the fact that the list was ready after only 12 hours after the US announced its tariffs on Chinese products suggests that the Chinese were anticipating the action.  Global Times, which often acts as a outhpiece for the Chinese government, characterized the trade dispute in uncompromising terms:

“This is Beijing’s clear show of retaliation toward the proposed tariff list on Chinese products from the US. Beijing showed an impressive response time for its retaliation efforts, taking less than 12 hours to announce its trade countermeasures. Chinese officials agree that its country’s countermeasures match those imposed by the US and that they showcase China’s determination to win this trade war.

“It is worth noting that China strikes the US side by targeting its most valuable imports, such as soybeans, automobiles and chemical products. These aspects were targeted because they represent key pillars in the US imports and can create a massive weak spot for the US economy if their profitability is at risk.

“Although China will sustain financial losses thanks to the US’ Section 301 investigation tariffs, they will pale in comparison to the damage done to the US economy via China’s retaliations.

“China’s counter tariffs are a spectacular way of standing up to America’s bullying tactics, not only for itself, but for other countries threatened by the US’s new trade policies.

“Hawkish politicians in Washington have obviously overestimated the capability and endurance of the US economy in a trade war, since they believe they can do whatever they like. China has shown a great deal of restraint for now, but if the US persists in this trade war, China is ready to fight to the end.”

The tariffs are not yet implemented–the proposed US tariffs need to go through a 60-day review and comment period–and there is no question that the US and China will negotiate over the tariffs throughout that entire period.  But, to take one example, soy beans need to be planted now if they are to be exported in the fall.  But the proposed Chinese tariffs on soy beans will force US farmers to make some dicey decisions over how much to plant this spring.  According to The Financial Times:

“Tariffs on soyabeans will be a big concern for US producers. China is by far the largest export market for American soyabean farmers, eight times large than Mexico, the second biggest buyer. Of a total of $22bn in US soyabean exports last year, about 56 per cent went to China. US soyabeans exports to China are worth the same as the next 10 export products on the tariff list combined.”

 

 

India and Pakistan are arming their submarines with nuclear weapons.  India has had nuclear weapons since 1974 and Pakistan since 1998.  They both have developed sophisticated missile capabilities and have generally been in firm control of the command systems of those weapons (there have been guerrilla attacks on Pakistan nuclear bases that have been quite significant).  The nuclear arming of submarines ratchets up the militarization of the Indian Ocean which has been going on for several years.  Indian has been planning to build a naval base on the Seychelles Islands for several years, and is quite worried about the growing Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean. 

Posted April 5, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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