Author: Maitra (Page 1 of 13)

Will Trump and Merkel clash in G20?

Radio Sputnik, Scotland, interviewed me.

Most of you know that I am not very optimistic about a German-led EU in the long run.

That said, it’s more complicated than a simple yes or no answer.

Here are my thoughts, have a listen.

 

Will the real conservative please stand up?

Who is a conservative? Burke or Buckley? Is Bill Kristol a conservative or Victor Davis Hanson? David Cameron or Peter Hitchens? Or are they all conservatives? Will Narendra Modi of India be considered a conservative? Is Vladimir Putin’s vision of a society conservative, or Rodrigo Duterte’s forceful authoritarian law and order imposition against deviant drug addicts a conservative approach? In that case what is conservative? How can it be defined and charted for this new young century?

For those of you paying attention, two of my colleagues recently started this topical and timely debate. Ben Sixsmith, critiquing Noah Rothman’s Commentary piece, stated that #NeverTrumpers are pseudo-conservatives. Mitch Blatt countered that they are indeed conservatives, because there isn’t any fixed definition of conservatism.

For a non-European/non-American reader of politics, the arguments of both sides might seem odd. Both are correct, both are circular and axiomatic. Both, in some ways, logically contradictory. And both, never tries to define what it tries to critique. Without summarising the aforementioned pieces, (readers can read them, in their due time) let me highlight the contradictions.

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Modi’s newfound pragmatism towards China

A month back, Indian hyper sensationalized news media was jingoistically pointing out how much Indian government is correct in not taking part in the OBOR initiative, while every serious political commentator with half a brain was saying, how terrible a mistake that was. From boycotting a summit on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in May, to being hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) summit it looks like a total 180 turn for Indian foreign policy.

This is not baffling. Here’s what is happening.

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Climate leadership passes to China?

Questions about the rift between liberal institutionalism and sovereignty became deeper with US President Donald Trump unilaterally announcing withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Climate agreement. Trump’s argument is that the deal wasn’t fair, and disadvantages US businesses and workers. Trump also mentioned that this deal throws a spanner in American oil and coal industries, even when the world is cutting down on coal. The opposition to this move has been global so far. The Paris agreement commits US and other countries to keep global temperature rising to pre industrial level. While there are valid questions about the implementation of the deal, it is widely accepted as a necessity for the planet by every country and every major powers of the globe. US now stands essentially against the entire world when it comes to climate change.

Trump stated that his goal was to renegotiate the treaty. It is understood that’s an impossible task, to have 193 different bilateral treaties and then ass them with Senate. Already, Italy, Germany, and France, the big three have jointly stated that this decision was regrettable. “We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies,” Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s Paolo Gentiloni stated in a joint statement. Japan hasn’t signed the statement, but has echoed similar sentiment, while May of UK said that while it is regrettable it’s a decision by Washington and not London. Canada’s Trudeau has also regretted the decision. “The US decision can’t and won’t stop all those of us who feel obliged to protect the planet” the chancellor added. Her counterpart, Macron of France, went on even further, stating there’s no Plan B, as there’s no Planet B. And invited US businesses to France, potentially starting a small scale trade war initiation.

According to Daily Mail reports, a planned U.S. pullout from the Paris climate deal would be a further 0.3-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures by 2100. However, Deon Terblanche maintained that due to other factors, that might not happen. However, hidden in all the outrage, a simple thing is lost. This is not about climate. Trump’s withdrawal was purely geopolitics. 

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Where (rarely) even Jeremy Corbyn is right…

With British politics reaching its crescendo and the Labour party narrowing Tory lead to five points, it is time for some home truth. Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech where he alleged to have claimed that terrorism in Britain is a direct response to British foreign policy. The result was as you expect from liberal media. From false accusations to blatant lying, to character assassination, Corbyn was portrayed as a combination of Gandhi and Laden. As pacifist and apologist as Gandhi, as vicious and Islamist as Laden. He was portrayed as being incompetent and conniving and dangerous at the same time.

 

Except, none of that is even remotely true. I am no great fan of either Corbyn or May, and I find both of them disingenuous, but for the sake of balance, Corbyn deserves credit where he is right. His claim that his words were twisted and misrepresented makes sense. And frankly, I have never seen two points, which in recent days, I have found myself quietly agreeing with the Labour party and Corbyn himself. For all his faults, let’s hear him out and let’s have the truth out in public. 

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What’s more important to you? Your country or your ideology?

With the entire EU/Germany versus Trump thing happening, which was sort of predicted by Peter Hitchens, focus is on what historical patterns might emerge in the West.

As Financial Times, the most Pro-EU broadsheet pointed out, the patterns are not comforting.

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With Germany quietly re-arming herself, Conservative Poland railing against Liberal Germany created Atlantic rift, and France openly balancing against Russia, European Great power peace is looking precarious.

But there’s something else at stake. 

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Here’s how feminists stifle everyday debate in Western academia

Imagine a situation, where a female professor writes something or asks something in class, or explains a bizarre chain of causality, and a male student, colleague, or researcher points out how flatly wrong it is. What would be the logical step after that in civilized circles? Debate at best, disagreement and parting ways at worst? Or an appeal to authority, and charge of “mansplaining”? The second one, happened to me, when I pointed out something in public.

The entire, hilariously short conversation is here on record. I have taken screenshots as well.

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Peter Hitchens on EU, geopolitics and terrorism

I had an opportunity to meet Peter Hitchens for a quick chat on a number of issues, including EU, UK, geopolitics, drugs and terrorism.

Here’re some quotes.

On EU:

“The European Union, is a German empire. If you see Poland or other eastern European countries, alongside Germany, [the relationship] is clearly one of patron and recipient. Do you honestly believe that any country in Europe has the economic might of Germany or the capability to resist German diktats?”

On Drugs and Terrorism:

“I’m not defending Islam, but crimes like gun violence in US or Anders Breivik were influenced by drugs. All I am saying is that terrorism is a very small percentage of crimes, and there is a high correlation of any crime with substance abuse. My point is, we are not looking in the right direction. I was a fanatic myself, and it never led me to even think of killing my family members or murdering random people. Fanaticism in itself is not a spark for outrage, there must be something else.”

On online abuse:

“I’d of course like adulation, but I don’t mind arguments.”

Read the whole thing here.

Optimism in Korean peninsula

After months of political drama liberal Moon Jae-in decisively won in South Korea, a victory that ended over a decade-long conservative rule, which was by the end tarnished by extreme corruption and scandal, and ended in the impeachment and arrest of Park Geun-hye which triggered a snap election. The liberal victory was expected, given the current mood of South Korea, and a high turnout almost guaranteed the defeat of the incumbent conservatives. A simple plurality was needed for the liberals to win. Speaking at a makeshift podium, Moon was quoted to say “I will make a just, united country. I will be a president who also serves all the people who did not support me.”

In an interesting development, Moon said that he would be willing to go to North Korea to meet its leader Kim Jong-un, in a notable change of track from the previous conservative governments. Signaling that he is flexible and expressing willingness to negotiate immediately, the left-liberal-leaning Moon said that he is willing to do anything that might help bring peace to the continent. “I am willing to go anywhere for the peace of the Korean peninsula if needed. I will fly immediately to Washington. I will go to Beijing and I will go to Tokyo. If the conditions are right, I will go to Pyongyang,” he was quoted by Guardian.

Perhaps in a further indication that the new administration would be different than the old one, Moon even considers reviewing THAAD system placed in South Korea. The system has been a bone of contention between China and United States and was installed just a week before the elections. China has consistently opposed and urged the new president to scrap the system.

There has been talks reported by Reuters, where US officials have anonymously raised their concerns, about the new volatility in ties between South Korea and US. Moon and US President Trump are very different characters. There are chances of confrontation. Trump recently also demanded payment for THAAD placed in South Korea. That, added to the fact that Trump is positioning himself as a North Korea hawk, means that there are chances of difference of interest.

The US, of course, as per diplomatic rituals congratulated Moon, just as China and Japan did. The White House press secretary spoke of a continuing a strong alliance and enduring partnership.

That said, I would suggest a few cautions for both South Korea, and US. First of all South Korea needs to realise that any diplomatic maneuver, especially in such a volatile situation will inevitably bring up risks of cheesing off partners and adversaries. Any individual single effort to solve the Korean crisis would anger hardliners in both Washington and Tokyo. It is unlikely that Seoul, despite its good intentions is willing or able to take that risk or go that far. The idea in Washington is simple, that America is unwilling to coexist with a nuclear North Korea and that North Korea is a danger to American interests in the Pacific. Given that situation, if any country, especially South Korea intends to bypass American intentions to hand olive branch to the North, they will risk a collision course with Washington.

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Exclusive: The maritime balance of power slowly shifts in the Indian Ocean

Published in CLAWS.

The naval balance of power slowly shifts in the Indo-Pacific region, especially in the Indian ocean, as China launches its first domestically built, and the second aircraft carrier of its navy. The carrier was built in the northeastern port of Dalian, and is expected to join service, in 2020, but the bow and hull is already operational, and the arms and software needs debugging and fitting. The carrier’s development was already underway since 2015, and it shows the remarkable speed and expertise with which the carrier was built. China’s first carrier was the Soviet made Liaoning, which was also refitted in the same shipyard, and was only operational a few years back. The design is Soviet style ski jump, and not American style catapult launch. The carrier is supposed to base Chinese J-15 fighters. [1][2]

 

This is remarkable development and here’s why.

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