Two Thoughts for Tuesday

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Thoughts on NATO
Mr. Stoltenberg
Jens Stoltenberg is Secretary General of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and an old friend of our fellow blogger, and my colleague from Norway, who comments under the name, “Valuesim”. I’ve been following Sec. Gen. Stoltenberg’s reaction to President Trump’s and Vice President Pence’s comments about NATO, and the need to modernize, to fight Islamic terrorism (which the Pope doesn’t believe in – but the Pope may also believe that the Earth is flat the way Popes did 1000 years ago).
On the issue of terrorism, Stoltenberg noted that NATO is helping train security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and is contributing surveillance planes to the fight against the Islamic State. Then he added what VP Pence wanted to hear: “But we agree that the alliance can, and should do more, in the fight against terrorism.”

During the election cycle there was near-hysteria among NATO membership when candidate Trump announced that NATO was obsolete and that member states were not paying their fair share. That hysteria turned to panic when he won the election. But the fact is, burden sharing is an old idea, and a non-controversial one. Modernizing NATO’s approach in the age of the Islamic State is also eminently reasonable. And now NATO, facing the reality of a Trump presidency, has little choice but to go along.
Donald Trump moved the NATO debate. After much fretting, and complaining, and denouncing, NATO did the simplest thing: It went along.
China, North Korea and President Trump
China’s Commerce Ministry announced on 18 February that it will suspend all imports of coal from North Korea.

“In order to implement the NSC Resolution No. 2321, according to the Foreign Trade Law of the PRC, MOFCOM Announcement No. 81 of 2016, China suspends coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year (including shipments that have been reported to customs yet granted permission for release). This announcement shall be implemented from Feb 19, 2017, to December 31, 2017.”

China is North Korea’s largest export market, accounting for over 85% of its total exports in 2015, according to the UN. More than half of the exports, or $1.1 billion, was comprised of coal. Coal is North Korea’s primary export commodity. 
A survey of commentaries on this Chinese action revealed three theories about why the Chinese acted now. The progressive, elite, smug mainstream media judged that this action was in response to the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in Malaysia. The Chinese are angry because Kim Jong Nam was under their protection, living in Macao, and North Korea’s leaders knew it.
Academics judged that it was an administrative action taken in response to changes in domestic demand for coal. The timing was arranged to reinforce the perception that China is cracking down harder on North Korea.
The third view – that the corrupt, elite, progressive, smug mainstream media rejects, but is likely closer to the truth is that the coal crackdown is a gambit in Chinese dealings with the new US administration. This judgment is that China has shifted to the US the burden of making progress in relations.The message is that China has responded to a key policy concern of the US – that China can and must exert more pressure on North Korea. It is now incumbent on the US to reciprocate on a key Chinese policy concern, such as the installation of advanced missile defenses in South Korea.
Any action involving China, coal and North Korea is complex because the Chinese cannot be trusted to enforce a suspension, in this instance, as strictly as it was announced. There always are loopholes.
China Understand the Norks
China sends blunt messages to North Korea because they don’t understand anything else. We note that the first Chinese statement of opposition to North Korea’s 12 February missile test was followed by a public announcement of tightened sanctions. The suspension of coal imports was announced within a week of the assassination of Kim Jong Nam on the 13th. Correlation is not causation, but close timing often is evidence of causation. The Chinese are displeased with Kim Jong Un, but they also want some form of reciprocation from the US. 

16 thoughts on “Two Thoughts for Tuesday

  1. And VINSON and WEM are doing a FON down the Parcels and Spratlys… C7F is back in action and doing what Trump said he was going to do. And VADM Aucoin is VERY familiar with the OPAREA. 🙂

  2. It's about time that those NATO members that are shirking their fair share of the costs stepped it up.

    Free loading on the US is not something The Donald tolerates, not for long.

  3. We can stay in NATO, but kick them out of NY. Let Canada or some other country put up with their bullshit for awhile.

  4. We haven't had a president for a very long time. The world took it for granted that we were simply their punching bag. That concept is no longer valid – but it was for 8 miserable years.

  5. How much of the high end desirable consumer goods and quality foodstuff the Nork elites enjoy while the commoners starve comes from or through China? Would cutting that flow get their attention better than coal revenue?

  6. The elite Norks have high end goods smuggled in. A lot of it comes in via Indonesia, but they have other ships make port calls and bring in luxury items. I'm sure that some comes from China but the few elites (by ratio, few) always have a way to get what they want.

  7. I agree with Fredd. Why should the US defend Germany, France, Holland, the UK etc? Against who? The Russians? So what if Russia takes over and rescues Europe from communism and Islam.

  8. Thank you, as always, for keeping us aware of important goings on that the MSM does not deign to share with us. Much appreciated.

  9. Trump seem to have managed something previous Presidents not ever came close to after the Soviet union closed the doors. Even Putin's effort to expand his territory was not a wake up call. The main reason for that was the confidence European NATO members had in the US. Then came Trump and suddenly the lazy politicians that took money away from defense to spend on immigration, social welfare and other stuff kind of understood they are responsible for something but not yet still aware of the consequences. The NATO meeting in Wales made them almost fall asleep since they had until 2022 to increase the defense budget. "We are guided by the following considerations: Allies currently meeting the NATO guideline to spend a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence will aim to continue to do so.

    But then came Mike Pence to Munich and said you must pay before Christmas this year.

    So now they have a problem to start finding the money and actually to something now. I think that was a useful message that might make the NATO members fulfill their obligations.

    The benefit for the US can be many. Equipment must be purchased, some will be bought from the US and create jobs in the US. The capacity to take part and offer substantial strength to the battle against terror will increase reducing the US burden. And if everything goes wrong in the Pacific the European NATO members will be better to covers the US back.

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