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Thursday, August 04, 2022

4: Taiwan

4: Paul Massaro



Actually, the Russian Economy Is Imploding Nine myths about the effects of sanctions and business retreats, debunked. ........

4: Bangalore



Pelosi arrives in Taiwan, voicing U.S. 'solidarity' as China fumes "Our congressional delegation's visit to Taiwan honors America's unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan's vibrant democracy," Pelosi said in a statement shortly after landing. "America's solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy." ....... Chinese warplanes buzzed the line dividing the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday before her arrival, and Chinese state media said People's Liberation Army would hold exercises near Taiwan from Thursday through Sunday. ........ Several Chinese warships have also sailed near the unofficial dividing line since Monday and remained there ........ Taiwan rejects China's sovereignty claims and says only its people can decide the island's future. ....... During a phone call last Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Biden that Washington should abide by the one-China principle and "those who play with fire will perish by it". Biden told Xi that U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. ........ Bonnie Glaser, a Taiwan expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, told reporters in a call that the damage to American-Chinese relations done by the Pelosi visit would be hard to repair. "We all know how bad this relationship has been in the past year. And I just think that this visit by Nancy Pelosi is just going to take it to a new low," Glaser said. "And I think that it's going to be very difficult to recover from that."

The rouble is soaring and Putin is stronger than ever - our sanctions have backfired Western sanctions against Russia are the most ill-conceived and counterproductive policy in recent international history. Military aid to Ukraine is justified, but the economic war is ineffective against the regime in Moscow, and devastating for its unintended targets. World energy prices are rocketing, inflation is soaring, supply chains are chaotic and millions are being starved of gas, grain and fertiliser. Yet

Vladimir Putin’s barbarity only escalates – as does his hold over his own people.

................ To criticise western sanctions is close to anathema. Defence analysts are dumb on the subject. Strategy thinktanks are silent. Britain’s putative leaders, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, compete in belligerent rhetoric, promising ever tougher sanctions without a word of purpose. Yet, hint at scepticism on the subject and you will be excoriated as “pro-Putin” and anti-Ukraine. Sanctions are the war cry of the west’s crusade. ............. The reality of sanctions on Russia is that they invite retaliation. Putin is free to freeze Europe this winter. He has slashed supply from major pipelines such as Nord Stream 1 by up to 80%. World oil prices have surged and eastern Europe’s flow of wheat and other foodstuffs to Africa and Asia has been all but suspended. .......... Britain’s domestic gas bills face tripling inside a year. The chief beneficiary is none other than Russia, whose energy exports to Asia have soared, driving its balance of payments into unprecedented surplus. The rouble is one of the world’s strongest currencies this year, having strengthened since January by nearly 50%. Moscow’s overseas assets have been frozen and its oligarchs have relocated their yachts, but

there is no sign that Putin cares. He has no electorate to worry him.

.............. They want to bomb Russia’s economy “back to the stone age”. ......... The assumption seems to be that if trade embargos hurt they are working. As they do not directly kill people, they are somehow an acceptable form of aggression. They are based on a neo-imperial assumption that western countries are entitled to order the world as they wish. They are enforced, if not through gunboats, then through capitalist muscle in a globalised economy. Since they are mostly imposed on small, weak states soon out of the headlines, their purpose has largely been of “feelgood” symbolism. ........... more than 30 sanctions “wars” in the past 50 years have had minimal if not counterproductive impact. They are meant to “intimidate peoples into restraining their princes”. If anything they have had the opposite effect. From Cuba to Korea, Myanmar to Iran, Venezuela to Russia, autocratic regimes have been entrenched, elites strengthened and freedoms crushed. Sanctions seem to instil stability and self-reliance on even their weakest victim. Almost all the world’s oldest dictatorships have benefited from western sanctions. .............. Putin’s response to the sanctions imposed on him since his 2014 seizure of Crimea and Donbas. Their objective was to change Russia’s course in those regions and deter further aggression. Their failure could hardly be more glaring. .......... the toughest ever imposed on a major world power, may not be working yet, but will apparently work in time. They are said to be starving Russia of microchips and drone spares. They will soon have Putin begging for peace. ............ Russia is “slowly adjusting to its new circumstances”. Sanctions have promoted trade with China, Iran and India. They have benefited “insiders connected to Putin and the ruling entourage, making huge profits from import substitution”. McDonald’s locations across the country have been replaced by a Russian-owned chain called Vkusno & tochka (“Tasty and that’s it”). Of course the economy is weaker, but Putin is, if anything, stronger while sanctions are cohering a new economic realm across Asia, embracing an ever enhanced role for China. ............ Meanwhile, the west and its peoples have been plunged into recession. Leadership has been shaken and insecurity spread in Britain, France, Italy and the US. Gas-starved Germany and Hungary are close to dancing to Putin’s tune. Living costs are escalating everywhere. Yet still no one dares question sanctions. It is sacrilege to admit their failure or conceive retreat. The west has been enticed into the timeless irony of aggression. Eventually its most conspicuous victim is the aggressor. Perhaps, after all, we should stick to war.


Republicans’ agenda for a second Trump term is far more radical than the first Rather than sideline federal agencies, Republicans want to seize control of them, purge civil servants and replace them with America First footsoldiers .......... the intention to strip away employment protections from thousands of senior civil servants, eliminating at a stroke a large chunk of the civil service’s expertise and institutional memory. ......... Often, it seemed like Trump considered his own government to be more useful to him as a political foil than as a tool in his hands. Trump appeared to have decided there was little point to trying to actually control the “deep state” when he could instead portray himself as its victim. ........ The people at the heart of the movement today are more likely to idolize the Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orbán than they are Ronald Reagan. .......... the recent overturning of Roe v Wade provides a blueprint for how a compliant conservative judiciary can enable government officials to take away even the most fundamental of human rights. ......... With the Department of Justice finally under control, the next Republican president would be free to launch criminal inquiries into political opponents. The brutality of immigration enforcement would be sharply increased while environmental regulations would languish unenforced. Rightwing extremists would go unmolested while American Muslims had their rights abused. Corruption and venality would become rampant across the government as checks and balances were removed and inexperienced hacks had their first taste of power. .......... today’s conservatives act more like revolutionaries. And like all revolutionaries, they want to seize control of the state and launch an offensive on as many fronts as possible.

Sunak closing gap on Truss in Tory leadership contest, poll shows Foreign secretary’s lead down to five points in latest poll of party members, after 24-point lead a fortnight ago ........... Truss on 31%, Sunak 29%, and more than 30% saying they did not know.