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Belmont Club

The Wild, Wild East

January 30th, 2014 - 1:38 pm

Everyone knows the scene from innumerable Western movies: it begins in a town where everyone is packing heat. To settle things down the town fathers hire a sheriff who makes everyone to check in their shootin’ irons upon arrival. Then the credits roll. What the movie does not show is the sheriff’s retirement. He hangs up his guns and the town fathers buy him an expensive watch. After the credits everyone goes back to strolling around with a six-shooter.

When president Obama announced his intention to create a world without nuclear weapons, beginning with America, the real signal to the world was that the sheriff was retiring. Hanging up his Colts. And that meant not a “world without nuclear weapons”, but a world in which every man Jack had nuclear weapons. The National Interest examines how America’s Pacific allies are planning to arm up. The article begins with the slow dawning in Asian capitals that the administration has gone fishing.

Publicly and in private discussions, Japanese and South Korean officials insist that they trust US defense commitments. But they ask revealing questions about the conditions under which the United States would act, and how it would do so. They wonder about their roles and responsibilities, as Washington presses them to assume more of the defense and deterrence burden. And they worry about the reduction of roles and numbers of nuclear weapons in US strategy and, despite Washington’s rebalance to Asia, the ability of the United States to defend them well in a fiscally constrained environment. Plainly, US disengagement is a concern.

Well at first they thought it wasn’t true but later saw it was. The article goes on to describe the possible nuclear plans of allies and examines the question of whether America ought to stop the allies from strapping on their own six-guns.

Could these concerns drive Japan and South Korea to resort to self-help and develop nuclear weapons? Both are technologically capable of going nuclear quickly, and this would be the cheapest way of increasing their indigenous military capabilities. But the real question is whether they would be willing to do so. While Japan remains allergic to the idea of crossing the nuclear threshold, there is growing public support, backed by influential elites, for manufacture of nuclear weapons in South Korea. …

What reaction, then, should they expect from Washington? There are two alternatives. One is that while unhappy, the United States would keep its alliances to maintain a favorable balance of power in East Asia….

The second alternative is that the United States would terminate its alliances. Washington would conclude that permitting a nuclear-armed Japan and South Korea to remain as allies would drive others to follow suit. It would assess that the odds of this happening in Asia are high given growing nuclear latency, complex regional dynamics, and the absence of an organization like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to hold US allies and partners together. Washington would also fear that this cascade could spill over into other regions, threatening the entire nonproliferation regime, creating instability, increasing war prospects, and ultimately eclipsing the US role as a responsible stakeholder for international order. Here, nonproliferation considerations would drive the US reaction.

Would America stop its friends from defending itself. Maybe. Past events suggest the administration is only willing to bully its friends. It’s enemies get a free pass on everything. No maybe about that. The US State Department says Russia is repeatedly violating arms control agreements which were key to ending the Cold War.

U.S. State Department officials say Russia has repeatedly violated the terms of a treaty forged by former President Ronald Reagan and then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev by conducting numerous flight tests of a cruise missile — but the White House is so far reluctant to take up the charges and address them with President Vladimir Putin directly.

U.S. military officials warned NATO allies in recent weeks that Russia has been testing its latest ground-launched missile, in apparent violation of the 1987 arms control agreement, The New York Times reported. The treaty has long been seen as the main reason the two nations dropped a Cold War mentality.

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, but the administration has no energy for vigilance. It is almost congenitally indisposed to work or competence. But it does do speeches which only require a teleprompter and a nice suit. But speeches only work sometimes. The the president might rail Japan getting nukes because they listen, but according to sources quoted by Politico, Iran has already been given a free pass since they don’t. If you want president Obama to be powerless over you, buy a set of earplugs.

Thus Josh Gerstein at Politico quotes a US intelligence assessment saying that Iran is held back from a nuclear weapon only by its sacred word. That’s as far as they’ll agree to.

Iran’s ability to make missiles loaded with nuclear warheads now rests primarily on the “political will” of its leaders, rather than any technical constraints, according to an annual U.S. intelligence assessment presented on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

“Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas — including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles — from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in written testimony submitted as he appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee. “These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.”

Translation: the Iranian prisoner is now securely held in an unlocked jail cell from which he surely cannot escape having given his word not to do so. That’s the administration’s containment policy. A speech and a press release.

The phrase “political will” is interesting in this context. In an interview with CNN, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Jim Sciutto that president Obama’s tough talk on Iran was for “domestic consumption”. That is to say the SOTU happy talk about Iran was meant for the low information voters who believe all that stuff about “a world without nuclear weapons”.

Reality is quite different from talk. Newsweek describes the weasel way in which the administration is secretly letting everyone do what they want so long as they maintain the appearance of control.

as the West and Iran have moved closer to a nuclear accommodation, signs are emerging that the monarchy is ready to give the world a peek at a new missile strike force of its own – which has been upgraded with Washington’s careful connivance.

According to a well-placed intelligence source, Saudi Arabia bought ballistic missiles from China in 2007 in a hitherto unreported deal that won Washington’s quiet approval on the condition that CIA technical experts could verify they were not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

Translation: you Sauids can buy sa revolver if you don’t buy the ammunition at the same time to guard against the possible escape of the prisoner languishing in the unlocked jail cell who’s given his word not to escape.  Just don’t tell the LIVs, we don’t want them to know.

Alan Dershowitz bawls out that he’s been had. What a shock it must be to discover that you’re a LIV after all.

Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz said Sunday that the Obama administration was naive and had possibly made a “cataclysmic error of gigantic proportions” in its deal to ease sanctions on Iran in exchange for an opening up of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

“I think it could turn out to be a cataclysmic error of gigantic proportions,” Dershowitz said of the deal, which he described as “naive.”

Naive? Who’s Dershowitz calling naive? He was the one which supported an administration that double crossed him; he was the guy that trusted the man who stabbed him in the back. And now he complains he’s been shafted.

What was “naive” was to imagine that power did not abhor a vacuum; that one could safely dismantle the Pax Americana and expect things to go on as before. That you could retire the sheriff and the Clanton Brothers would remain as meek as before. What was naive was to think that by playing nice that ruthless men would go away. Everybody sing now, “I’d like to build the world a home and furnish it with love …”

That kind of mindset was hard to understand, it seemed so counterintuitive. But recently I got a clue. A friend in the Philippines reported that the home of a wealthy doctor who lived next door had been invaded by armed men. However the robbers found no money in the house nor anyone of consequence to kidnap, for the inmates were all out to dinner.

But the doctor on returning, brooded over the incident, because he knew they might return; he knew from other incidents that armed robbers were often driven into a frenzy of anger if they found no money the premises and would often take mindless revenge on the cashless victims.

Considering the problem he decided to withdraw a large sum from the bank the next day and stash it in the house against eventualities. “That way,” he told his wife, “if we are robbed again then the robbers will have something to steal.”

Perhaps that is the way the administration has been thinking. It’s perverse thinking but not original to history. It’s called the Danegeld. Give the Dane the gold and the Dane will go away. And that sounds good until you realize it may not work.  There is in this a remarkable reversal of roles with the administration watching too many BBC history specials and while America’s allies have been watching too many Westerns.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres

Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.

Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific

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Top Rated Comments   
"Just as they are apparently free to enforce such laws as they deem appropriate, we should only obey the laws we recognize as such....Develop an online community of like minded people-barter products and services, strategize and do whatever it takes to "starve the beast."" - dlsada

I understand the sentiment. However, the progressive left controls American now, lock, stock, and gun barrel. I read that China in effect shutdown Weibo, the twitter like open discussion forum that was liberalizing young attitudes. There was no historic, well publicized Tiananmen revolt to crush. A few hundred were arrested and one well known entrepreneur was made an example of.

The same kind of thing is happening in the U.S. now. Obama's IRS and Justice Department are going after individuals, making an example of them, like Dinesh D'Souza, Sarah Palin's father, and so forth.

How long do you think this "free" internet, BLOG groups like this would continue the moment Obama's leftist feels they can silence them. Not very long. One day we'll be all a rebellin' here on the web, the next day some of us no longer BLOG, because we can't access a computer from our new "homes". The next day, there is no BLOG because PJM is shutdown or neutered via regulation.

And America will do nothing. The "loyal opposition" might have a few politicians get out of line and complain about it on the Senate or House floors, but they won't get far before they are disciplined by their party hack leaders.

We're at the point of a "post Democratic" America. Politics and "starving the beast" won't solve the fundamental problem of a lawless government. The only thing that the left will respect, as I've posted before, is buildings pancaking and IED's killing soft targets. Then we'll be what, freedom fighters? We'll be what the Democrat left has called us all along, because they knew what we'd do when they ran their extra-constitutional coup.

Are you ready to do that yet? I don't think anyone on this forum is a murderer or a terrorist, and the Democrat left is relying on that. We are the "good guys", and good guys are not "Weatherman" style leftist bombers.

However, because they think their power is invincible, the Democrat left will overreach. They'll create a catalyst, and then it'll be 1860V2. They'll ask "what happen to unity? what happened to civility? what happened to the common good?", when it was they who ended it all with their Machiavellian power grab. Then the game will truly be on.

This isn't about being "sore losers" at losing elections, or overly-armed and religious "bitter clingers", it's about how America once had a Constitution, a rule of law, and how Obama ended that all.

"For they sow the wind, And they reap the whirlwind. " Hosea 8:7
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We US citizens, who have long realized the incompetency of this administration, should also regard it and declare it as illegitimate-just as our enemies and now our allies have. Just as they are apparently free to enforce such laws as they deem appropriate, we should only obey the laws we recognize as such.
This goes beyond the Irish Democracy" tactic of stubborn refusal-I'm suggesting open defiance by citizens, communities and the states. To hell with the Feds! The Dems and the Repubs share 99% of statist DNA. Boehner, Ryan, Cantor and the GOP leadership are bought and paid for by the US Chamber of Commerce and they pose a greater danger to our republic than even the Obama regime.
This is not a time to be timid. Organize and take control of your future. Develop an online community of like minded people-barter products and services, strategize and do whatever it takes to "starve the beast."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
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It is not only the leftist Obama Administration that wants retirement of the sheriff. A strain of conservatism, exemplified by Buchanan and Ron Paul have long argued for a reduction of "the American empire" and some degree of political, military and economic isolationism.

One can argue that more economic isolation will reduce the impact on Americans of Tokyo or Seoul getting nuked. Sidney is another matter, on an emotional level.

Non-proliferation was bound to fail. It was the best deal when operative.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Don Rumsfeld said weakness is provocative. If so (and I agree), we are currently provoking some bad state actors.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The proponents of the unlocked gate for Iran live in gated communities with armed guards.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The sheriff moseyed up the street
A cap gun on his hip
A cane tapped tapping at his feet
Just so he wouldn’t trip
He’d just awakened from his nap
And heard the dreaded news
The Chinese rearranged the map
While he in office snoozed
His deputies knew they were next
And asked what should they do
The sheriff left them truly vexed
They knew the other shoe
Would shortly fall upon their heads
Would Sheriff Sam respond?
Or should they crawl beneath their beds
Wrapped in a deep despond
The sheriff stopped and made his choice
Took off his gun and badge
And softly said in old man’s voice
I’m gittin’ outta Dadge

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Democratic Party recognized decades ago that it was No Damn Good at foreign policy. Therefore they have adopted the approach of only caring about foreign policy when it does not matter. Important foreign policy issues are defined by being those where they either can't screw up or if they do screw up it won't matter. They only pretend to care, and that only when no one else does.

Bill Clinton was all but contemptuous of G.H.W. Bush's foreign policy triumphs. The domestic agenda was the area he claimed needed focus, "like a laser beam."

But once in office he found an incredible number of foreign policy playgrounds and the US Army ended up being deployed to over 100 countries - more than during the Cold War. Falling flat on his face in Somalia, he pulled out, thus encouraging Al Queda. And while little or nothing he did worked, and even less of it was useful, he knew it did not matter, anyway. The MSM would cover for him and nobody cared about the areas he focused on.

Obama is following in this proud tradition. Even the Libyan Civil War looked like something easy that would not matter anyway. And he would have not done even that much if Hillary had not signed him up for it while he was partying in Rio.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And if you doubt this, consider...

Even as we gather here to discuss penny ante issues like world wide nuclear proliferation and shifting alliances in Asia, the Great Ones are addressing one of the most urgent and defining issues of our time...

Yes! At last! It's true!

The U.N. will take up the grave question of, "Is naming a football team 'Redskins' appropriate?"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
''Danegeld''--wasn't there some quote from Churchill about appeasement, something about hoping the alligator would eat you last?

Also: what's a/an LIV?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile - hoping it will eat him last”
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
LIV = low-information voter
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Russians have been violating the nuclear arms treaties from the days the first ones were signed by the (Former) Soviet Union. But it was uncouth, ne kulturny if you will, in the view of the now ascendent American Left, to take official note of that. To do so might damage the "atmospherics" of the "peace process" and cause the Soviets to .... violate the agreements they were already violating.

The whole process was intended to disarm the United States and reduce first its primacy in the West, and then to reduce its ability to survive or resist external force. Up until 20-25 years ago, there were powers in the Republican party who noted this, and thought the intended end was not in our interest. Now that the Institutional Republicans are wholly subordinate to [read female Canis lupus familiaris] of the Marxist Democrats; they would not dream of raising an objection. Besides offending their masters, it would require actually taking lead on an issue and worst of all finding themselves acting in agreement with those evil conservatives.

Note that the Chinese strategic missile force has been the beneficiary of American technology, courtesy of contributions to the DNC and its candidates.

As noted by me before, to be an American ally, like being an American citizen, is to be in a constant state of worry as to when the United States government will betray you. South Korea, Japan, and [I firmly believe] Taiwan can rapidly become lower tier nuclear powers capable of regional [and Japan's case world] counter-value deterrence. For a number of reasons, I believe that Taiwan may well already either secretly have such, or their defense purchasing and deployment decisions are less than rational. Japan may be turns of a wrench from such. I have no insight into South Korean internal thought processes on the matter; but I have to note that they are right next door to the crazy Norks, who have nukes of a sort, and I am sure that they are watching the US give up on their allies.

I noted before that the Philippines is not in that position, and I rather doubt that Australia is. But logistical, basing, and other matters might be contributed to a joint defense effort. And I note that India, which has just reached a production decision for its mobile Agni IV IRBM which is designed to deter China, and there are reports that India has just bought 15 Shin Meiwa large maritime patrol aircraft. The PLAN is now the primary maritime threat to India.

The world is, indeed adjusting. The question remains as to what countermeasures the regime has in mind to throw a monkey wrench into those adjustments.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nonproliferation is dead. Instability is now unavoidable. The prospect of war is now certain. And the US role as a responsible stakeholder for international order abandoned.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Figured you guys need a little cheering up, so I'm providing a link to "Meet the gal with the longest legs in New York City":

Nothing like a bit of cheesecake to brighten up the day.

(P.S. This is SAFE for work)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
C'mon, if you need some cheer, it's almost time for spring training and then Opening Day. Equal time, please, for some long-legged beefcake in honor of the American Pastime (link is safe for work except perhaps for some Mets and Braves fans).

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It is safe for work. But is it safe for the older readers whose hearts may race and dentures rattle at the sight of such pulchritude?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
From a leading Australian think tank:

>>I am happy to fess up for making quite a lot of noise about Tony Abbott's depiction of Japan as Australia's 'best friend' in Asia. And I have to admit that there are comments from leading figures in previous governments which are not a million miles far from that lofty mark. For example, during his time as Labor’s foreign minister, Stephen Smith gave a 2010 speech in which he referred to Japan as ‘our closest and most consistent partner in East Asia for many years.’ A less Olympian line perhaps, but not a completely inconsistent tone.

But the new prime minister has undoubtedly taken things to a new level by saying late last week that Australia is a 'strong ally' of Japan. The context for this comment adds to its significance. It was uttered as Mr Abbott was defending Australia's criticism of China's new Air Defence Identification Zone, criticisms which ruffled feathers in Beijing. In the same comments, Mr Abbott also used the same 'strong ally' formulation in reference to the US.

Canberra and Washington have been formal allies since the signing of the 1951 ANZUS Treaty (and of course they worked closely together in the Second World War). By contrast, Australia and Japan are not formal allies. When Abbott’s mentor John Howard traveled to Tokyo to sign the Security Declaration with Japan in 2007, he left open the possibility of a more binding connection. But for the time, he said, 'It's not in the category of ANZUS. It's a declaration about security.'<<
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The pivotal moment in modern Australian diplomatic history occurred in 1942 when John Curtin shifted the primacy of alliance from Britain to the US. The US is still the foundation of Australian foreign policy. But at the rate things are going there must come a point when other options will suggest themselves.

Perhaps the US is irreplaceable. After all, Japan by itself may not be able to contain Chinese ambitions. But as the Curtin episode proved: any port in a storm.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And so the word is out and by slow degrees people are 'adjusting'. Allies and enemies alike. It might not be so bad if the administration came right out and said they were out of the hegemon business. But they're being dishonest about it and acting like they still owned the world stage.

In the end it won't matter. All the players know or will soon know the score. Spin ultimately only works with the LIVs and the administration's hacks. Reality is impervious to B.S.

Nobody ever beat arithmetic. And so the best thing to do is simply go out there and do your best unless otherwise directed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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