One Lousy Ship?

On Tuesday, President Obama sent the USS Lassen to the South China Sea where it sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s artificial islands. Publicly, the Chinese are outraged, but behind the scenes they are probably snickering considering what happened the last time the U.S. Navy sent China a message.

Back in 1996, when the Chinese were harassing Taiwan, President Clinton sent two carrier groups to the area. And one of them led by the USS Nimitz sailed right through the Taiwan Strait. Now that sends a message. Why? Because the ships sailed very close to China, and the closer you get, the more enemy territory comes under your guns. The Nimitz could have inflicted some serious mayhem on a wide swath of China that day (click the map to enlarge):

Taiwan_Strait

The Chinese had their Silkworm cruise missiles back then, but perhaps the Navy was confident in their countermeasures. Of course, during the intervening 20 years we have transferred a tremendous amount of technology to the Chinese, so their anti-ship weapons are far more sophisticated now. Sending a carrier that close to China today might not be feasible. And I would be surprised to see it considering how the USS Theodore Roosevelt pulled out of the Middle East two days after the Russians started launching cruise missiles at ISIS on October 7th.

Perhaps there will be more “Freedom of Navigation” operations, but if it ends after this puny show of force, the Chinese will likely be emboldened rather than deterred – just like the Russians are now in the Middle East.

I’m for scaling back our imperial footprint, but it has to be done in such a way that our military rivals don’t sense weakness.

Putin’s Cuban Carrier Not Sunk After All

In “Sinking Putin’s Cuban Carrier” back in February, I speculated that Obama’s policy of trying to normalize relations with Cuba was a geopolitical strategy aimed at depriving Russia of an ally in a cold war that was heating up.

Well, it looks like it didn’t take. DEBKAfile is reporting that Putin has air-lifted 2,000 Cuban troops into Syria who will soon be driving tanks over the CIA’s jihadis.

Is Putin mopping the floor with Obama, or what? You have to wonder if this will effect the presidential election. If the Democrats are perceived as grossly incompetent at foreign policy, that might be the issue that will allow Trump to catch up to Hillary. All the head-to-head polls I’ve seen show Hills defeating Trump by a wide margin. But can that last, when the USA is in a military retreat?

Recently, there has been talk of a US Navy “drive by” in the South China Sea to show China who’s boss. That may partly be designed to divert attention away from the Middle East as we quietly fold our tent in Syria. If the Navy were to sink one of China’s artificial islands, then that would provide a long-lasting media circus that would dwarf events in the Middle East…

…Unless Putin keeps marching. Putin’s on a roll, and Obama’s a sissy, so why wouldn’t Putin keep right on going? In 1974, Russia deployed Cuban tank and helicopter crews to the Syrian border with Israel where they fought the IDF. Does Vladamir Putin see this as an opportunity to take out a US ally? Probably not, but I think this is the most danger Israel has been in in a long time.

Big Oil’s Revenge on Baghdad

The fate of the Shiite regime that we installed in Baghdad was probably sealed back in 2009 during a televised oil auction at the Al-Rashid Hotel. The Iraqis took bids to see which oil companies would get contracts to pump Iraqi oil.

ExxonMobil shocked the audience with an astoundingly low bid. The giant company was willing to accept a mere $4.80 per barrel. But the audience was stunned again when the Ministry of Oil announced that the maximum they would pay was $2.

Can you imagine the audacity? Here we had just kindly destroyed their country, and now they were sticking it to us on oil profits. The bastards!

Which is, I’m sure, how the discussions went in the boardrooms of Big Oil. A couple of years later, ExxonMobil struck back. As I wrote in my book:

“In early 2012, ExxonMobil confirmed that they had signed an exploration and production deal with Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government. The Kurds are in defiance of Baghdad, and the deal has infuriated the Iraqi government. ExxonMobil has sided with the Kurds because they are easier to do business with, and if Baghdad doesn’t change its tune they just might get invaded again!”

And whoops! Baghdad is now under siege by Sunnis. Note to Maliki: payback’s a bitch.

(Am I a prophet or what? Obviously, you should buy my book immediately.)

Further evidence that we have turned our back on the Shiites is that we are doing virtually nothing to help them fight ISIS while Vladimir Putin has sent five Sukhoi fighter jets to Baghdad.

And you don’t have to take my word for it. Back in January, the Telegraph reported that the USA had given its seal of approval to ISIS.

Obama is telling Maliki: “We can do this the easy way or the hard way. You can step down and make way for a more pliable puppet, or Baghdad can burn.”

So far, Maliki is choosing the hard way.

Putin Will March on East Ukraine

Vladamir Putin called President Obama last night, and the White House spun it as Putin grovelling for a diplomatic solution in Ukraine. However, the White House statement left out the fact that Putin complained about the “extremists” that we probably employ there, and the region of Transnistria that Putin appears to covet.

What I think Putin will do is make a statement about how he begged Obama to call of his mercenaries in Ukraine, but Obama refused, so now it us up to Russia to restore order in the Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine.

Do we really have 300 Backwater mercenaries in Ukraine? Or is it just Kremlin propaganda? I don’t know, but it doesn’t actually matter because Putin seems to be intending to use it as his reason for an invasion.

So, don’t be surprised if the tanks roll soon. Also, did you know that the Russian Army fought in the War of Transnistria in 1992?

Russian Military Superiority

In many areas, the Russians have military superiority over the USA. For example, if a Russian sub wanted to sail up to our coast and launch a nuclear cruise missile, we would never see it coming. Your first hint would be when the temperature in your living room spiked up to one million degrees. Even if you had a Patriot battery deployed on your lawn, you would be as helpless as a kitten with polio.

As I wrote in my book, the Pentagon cannot detect Russia’s Akula attack sub, and it can’t shoot down the Iskander missile. If the truth were known, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Iskander was the reason why we declined battle in Georgia in 2008, in Syria in 2013, and surely will decline again in Ukraine in 2014.

You see, while we were pursuing disastrous imperial wars, the Russians were pursuing actual effective weapons. While the USA dramatically outspends the rest of the world on “defense,” there is little doubt that we also dramatically out-waste the rest of the world too. We make airplanes and tanks that roll off the assembly line, and then roll right into the boneyard.

We suffer from a plague of military entitlements, where defense contractors feel entitled to build weapons that the Pentagon doesn’t want. They get away with it by simply purchasing the required Congressmen. Calling Russia corrupt and backward is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

We also suffer from hubris thanks to the corporate media bombarding us with an endless barrage of military hype as the New World Order rolls on with its program of never-ending war. But defeating small, hapless nations doesn’t prove anything when it comes time to fight a large, competent nation. This isn’t a terribly impressive resume:

Grenada (Ronald Reagan, 1983)
Panama (George H.W. Bush, 1988)
Serbia (Bill Clinton, 1995)
Afghanistan (George W. Bush, 2001)
Iraq (George W. Bush, 2003)
Libya (Barrack Obama, 2011)

We Americans have a feeling of military and technological superiority. Maybe we are right; maybe we could drive the Russians out of Ukraine. But such an adventure would surely be far more bloody and costly than our last six “glorious victories” combined.

Don’t forget, even the Serbs figured out how to shoot down an F-117 Nighthawk stealth bomber. In fact, the wreckage is on display in Belgrade:

Stealth Bomber Wreckage

Stealth Bomber Wreckage

If a tiny nation like Serbia could neutralize our most-advanced technology, just imagine what the Russians could do.

Now, if the Russians were invading Canada, then we would certainly want to push them out regardless of the danger. But they are not doing that. Rather, we are trying to abscond with Russia’s Canada – Ukraine. Fomenting rebellion in Ukraine was a profoundly aggressive move toward Russia. I expect they will fight for Ukraine just as fiercely was we would fight them over Canada.

We had a chance to make friends with Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed. But instead, the psychotic, rapacious, and incompetent oligarchy that runs this country acted like a pack of hyenas trying to bite off chunks of former-Soviet turf.

And that behavior will continue until David Rockefeller’s ExxonMobil gets it’s hands on Russia’s oil reserves. The only question is: can they pull it off without triggering a nuclear war? Don’t forget, psychopaths are “fearless” – or more precisely, their brain damage makes them reckless in the face of danger. So, nuclear war is a lot more likely than we might think.

And this is not Obama’s doing. The NATO-Ukraine alliance began in 1995, and Ukrainian soldiers have served with us in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our Ukrainian policy is made above the presidential level.

America’s Top Military Ally: Vladimir Putin

General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said:

“You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.”

If you surveyed American soldiers serving in Afghanistan about who was the USA’s most-important ally, there’s a good chance that they would choose Vladimir Putin. Why would they do that? Because our supply lines run through Russia – on the ground and in the air. Below we see an Antonov 225, the world’s largest aircraft, which flies a lot of supplies to our troops:

AN-225

Without Russia’s help, things would be considerably less comfortable for our troops. Read more about Afghan war logistics here. And here is an article about all the fuel we buy from Russia.

And when it comes time to pull out of Afghanistan, cooperation from the Russians will be critical. So, the next time that you are confronted with a neocon fulminating about Putin, you know how to disarm him.

The Antonov 225 videos below were shot by U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan:



Will Obama Get the Tillman Treatment?

Looking at the circumstances surrounding Pat Tillman‘s death in Afghanistan, it’s hard to conclude that he was not assassinated. Tillman was America’s most-famous soldier when he began to voice opposition to the invasion of Iraq. A short time later, he got three to head, applied with expert precision from close range. Not so friendly fire in my opinion. And during the cover-up, somebody burned the journal he had been keeping.

The moral of the story is that it is hazardous to your health to stand in the way of the military industrial complex when it is on the warpath. They will kill you.

What if Congress votes down a strike on Syria? What if Obama follows in David Cameron’s footsteps and does not order the strike anyway? Will he get the Tillman Treatment? I wouldn’t bet against it. Chances are that Obama would be neutralized in some way, and the war would go forward.

I came to this realization after I saw Larry Kudlow go berserk on CNBC Friday. At the 3:11 mark of the video below, Kudlow says about Obama: “He’s just gonna to be a dead duck.” A pretty clear threat. Then at 5:40, Kudlow is enraged that Obama has refused to take orders from John “Bonesman” Kerry. It’s an amazing thing to see as Kudlow inadvertently exposes the true power relationships in the White House.

Watch your back, Mr. President. It’s starting to get ugly.

Tinker Tailor Soldier, My Eye!

If you are having trouble sleeping, tune in to HBO and watch the 2011 film, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and let a British psy-op knock you out. The film is excruciatingly dull. I’m not the type to fall asleep during movies, but watching Tinker made me feel like I had swallowed a handful of sleeping pills – just like it did 39 years ago when I tried to read John Le Carré’s equally dull novel.

In fact, I tried to read Tinker more than once. Each time, I got exasperated and threw the book down in disgust. I defy you to read it. And I love spy novels. I’ve read all of Tom Clancy’s books, for example. In general, I read books cover-to-cover. Even bad books because I keep thinking: “the good part that brought it to my attention must coming up any minute now.”

So, I’ve been perplexed by Tinker for my whole life. But I think I have finally solved the mystery: Tinker is dull because it was designed to be dull. It was written by a British intelligence agent to literally put Americans to sleep. It is a psy-op aimed at us as a deterrent to keep us from looking further into the machinations of Perfidious Albion.

How was it possible for such a horrible book to make it onto the New York Times Best-Seller list? I’ll bet that if the truth were known, British intelligence agents were sent out to bookstores to buy-up copies and goose the sales numbers. Just like L. Ron Hubbard used to send out his thralls to buy copies of Dianetics.

But why? What were the British trying to hypnotize us into forgetting? Well, as World War II wound down, President Roosevelt refused to help Churchill maintain the British Empire, which infuriated Churchill and he turned against us. Churchill sought to weaken the USA by instigating the Cold War, and having us turn against our Russian allies. Stalin even believed that Churchill had FDR assassinated (see story here).

Don’t you think that it’s odd that the US military did so well in World War II, but all of sudden, couldn’t fight its way out of a paper bag in Korea and Vietnam? Genghis Khan had no trouble conquering Korea, so why couldn’t we do it? Well, General MacArthur suspected that the North Koreans and Chinese were being tipped off to his plans. Back then, we foolishly trusted the Brits with too much of our intelligence.

In Vietnam, it was a Brit who talked us into the disastrous Strategic Hamlet program where our side “helped” villagers by burning their houses down and marching them into concentration camps. Not the best way to win hearts and minds.

Ostensibly, the Russians had infiltrated British intelligence, and spies like Kim Philby sent intel to the Kremlin during the Cold War. But Stalin himself didn’t trust Philby and thought that he was a triple agent still loyal to the British.

Ultimately, the Tinker psy-op has succeeded. The vast majority of Americans think that the Brits have been nothing but staunch allies since World War I, when in reality the picture isn’t quite so clear.

It’s Time to Work on a Special Relationship with China

After the British adopted “free trade” and de-industrialized, they eventually lost their empire. However, they were able to maintain a geopolitical status a bit higher than it otherwise would have been because they developed a “special relationship” with the new superpower – the USA.

Now that we have decided to follow the same path of de-industrialization and imperial decline, it seems logical that we should get busy on our own special relationship with China. Hopefully, they will take us under their wing and shore us up over the next 100 years.

Of course, some people would say that the special relationship with the Brits has been the work of MI6 and Perfidious Albion. And if that’s the case, then the CIA had better get busy on Operation Perfidious America.

To kick things off, we might do a deal were Beijing tears up their $1 trillion worth of Treasury bonds in exchange for Pacific Command not answering the phone when Taiwan calls in a panic over a “surprise” Chinese invasion. Or maybe we can send troops to help them pacify Tibet, or prison-advisers to help suppress the Falun Gong. We’re really good at prisons.

It’s not going to be pretty, but those are the consequences of de-industrialization.

Putin vs. Dell – Round 2

Remember when Vladamir Putin rudely slapped-down Michael Dell’s offer for technological help at Davos in 2009? If not, near the beginning of the video below, you can see Putin reply: “We don’t need help. We are not invalids. We don’t have limited mental capacity.”

Well, we may find out who “needs help” soon. When Turkey requested Patriot missiles from NATO to bolster its defenses against Syria, Russia responded by sending their Iskander missiles to Bashar Assad. So, the scene is set for a USA-Russia missile duel in Syria.

Will we win? Maybe not. From what I have read, these Iskanders are formidable. They can fly at 1.3 miles per second, perform evasive maneuvers, and release decoys. And they are battle-tested. Russia used Iskanders in their 2008 invasion of Georgia. The Russians claim that one Iskander destroyed 28 tanks at a Georgian base.

There is also a rumor that the Russians challenged us to an Iskander vs. Patriot duel at an air show, but we declined.

I find this all fascinating because we Americans are rather arrogant. After all, what does Dell know about technology? Don’t they just assemble parts from Taiwan? Was Putin right? At some point, our hollowed-out industrial base is going to catch up with our military swagger.

Perhaps Vladimir Putin thinks that time has come.

Is Israel Still a US Ally?

Last week, Chinese warships paid a visit to Israel for the first time in history (DEBKAfile.com story here). And that brings to mind when the Australians announced naval exercises with the Chinese navy two years ago. The Pentagon responded by deploying troops to Australia. (See my “Will Australia Stay Conquered?” post).

Also, we can’t help but notice that the Israelis are sticking it to President Obama by jawboning an attack on Iran and jacking up oil prices. High gasoline prices will only benefit Romney on Election Day.

And the Israelis have cause to look for a new big-power partner. The Pentagon has criticized Israeli treatment of the Palestinians as an obstacle to their pacification of Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe the Chinese see an opening to get involved in the Middle East?

Originally, the Pentagon needed Israel as a base in the Middle East. But now, of course, we have bases in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, etc., and maybe the Pentagon now considers Israel to be strategically expendable.

Say what you want about Mubarak and Assad, but they kept the peace with Israel for a long time. Now, there are Egyptian tanks in Sinai, and Russian war ships in Syria. By supporting the Arab Spring, we have dramatically degraded Israel’s security.

I wrote about this back in February 2011 during the Arab Spring in “Did the USA Foment the Egyptian Revolt?

So, while we have heard sabre rattling over Iran seemingly forever, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to discount it this time. After all, what if the Israelis are starting to think that they need to strike Iran now while they still can – before the USA begins to “contain” them from harming its new-found Arab allies?

If the Israelis feel left out in the cold, they will act. That’s what they did in 1967 when they attacked the USS Liberty during the Six Day War. An Israeli friend told me that the ship was gathering signal intelligence that could be used to help the Arabs. We were neutral during that war, and maybe we didn’t help the Arabs, but there was a possibility that we could have informed the Arabs about Israeli troop movements, so the Israelis felt the need for a preemptive strike.

The Israelis don’t have a very wide margin of error when it comes to survival. So, if we are once again neutral, or have permanently switched to favoring the Arabs, we shouldn’t be surprised at anything Israel does.

And maybe President Obama is getting a taste of that now.

Putin Targets Israel

Why are the Russians in Syria? The Russians have always desired warm-water ports for their navy. Syria is a big arms customer. And the Russians like to stir the pot in the Middle East to give the USA busywork and divert it from fomenting “color” revolutions in places like the Ukraine.

But now there is another reason.

Israel.

After being a dry hole, in a regain awash with oil & gas, for all of its history, Israel is poised to turn the tables with its recently-discovered, massive Leviathan gas field, which might also contain quite a lot of oil.

How does that impact Russia? Well, the Russians have a lot of influence over Western Europe because the Europeans are dependent upon Russian natural gas for energy. And what if the Israelis decide to build a pipeline to Greece or Italy and export some of their gas?

Answer: Vladimir Putin loses clout.

And Putin’s clout has been considerable. He has successfully wielded power in Europe to undermine support for American wars and the expansion of NATO – not to mention being able to get away with his invasion of Georgia.

Now there are prospects for that power being transferred from Russia to Israel.

So, Putin has incentive to throw a monkey wrench into the works. And how hard could that be? After all, a lot of capital will be required to build out Leviathan’s infrastructure, and with chaos in nearby Syria, such investments might not be too difficult to delay.

On top of all that, part of Leviathan might be in Lebanese waters, and Syrian troops were in Lebanon as recently as 2006. In fact, Syria considers Lebanon to be a lost province; part of “Greater Syria”. What if Assad survives with Russian help? And then re-invades Lebanon (perhaps to pursue fleeing rebels), and claims a chunk of Leviathan for himself?

Oddly enough, the USA also has incentive to thwart Leviathan exports to Europe. We don’t actually need Middle Eastern oil & gas, especially now with the fracking revolution. But military control of the Persian Gulf gives us influence over both Europe and China (not to mention a nuclear-free Japan). And Big Oil has historically slow-walked exploration in Israel to curry favor with the Arabs. So, there are quite a lot of forces arrayed against Leviathan.

And so, the Cold War is back on in Syria. Can Putin stop the USA for “doing a Libya” on Syria? Perhaps a deal can be made. Maybe Putin can let the USA topple Assad in exchange for an agreement that Israel not invade his European gas turf. With Japan shutting down its nukes, a long-term export deal between Israel and Japan fits in nice here, no?

Crisis solved. Take that United Nations!

Further reading:

  1. The Houston company that discovered Leviathan.
  2. The Syrian occupation of Lebanon.
  3. The Russian naval base at Tartus, Syria.
  4. STRATFOR on Putin’s European Strategy.
  5. Leviathan Maps

Will Australia Stay Conquered?

When the news that US Marines would be deployed to Australia hit the media recently, there was quite a lot of criticism. After all, Australia is not exactly one of the global hotspots of conflict requiring pacification. And seeing as how we’re trillions of dollars in debt, you would think that such military adventures might be deemed extravagant.

But Australia is indeed a hotspot – a geopolitical hotspot.

In September 2010, I was jarred when I came across this story of the first-ever joint Chinese/Australian naval exercises. Australia has been one of the USA’s closest military allies for quite a while, and has troops fighting and dying in Afghanistan.

So, what were the Australians doing exercising with the Chinese all of a sudden? Now, keep in mind that while our multinational corporations consider China to be a close ally, even a new homeland, the Pentagon has quite a different view. It considers China to be a rival power in need of containment.

And so the Pentagon responded to the Australians cozying up to the Chinese by deploying troops. I’m sure the Australians gave their permission and all, but you have to wonder if they really had a choice. Australia’s geopolitical situation doesn’t allow it to defy the USA.

The Chinese are apoplectic over this conquest of Australia (see the story here) and they are pressuring the Australians to choose sides.

To assuage the Chinese, the Australian frigate HMAS Ballarat just visited Shanghai. Here’s the welcoming ceremony:

Apparently, there were no live-fire drills this time; just search-and-rescue practice.

This is all happening as we are trying to figure out how to high-tail it out of Afghanistan after getting whooped by the Pashtuns. And there are consequences for loosing a war. When the Arabs saw us bleeding-out in Vietnam, they were emboldened to nationalize our oil properties. When the Soviet Union’s satellites saw the Red Army defeated in Afghanistan in 1989 (by those same Pashtuns!) they got ideas of their own. Two years later, poof!, no more Soviet Union.

Our allies in the western Pacific can see the handwriting on the wall. Economically, they know that they have to switch sides and join the Chinese. But containing China is matter of sea power, which we are very good at, as opposed to fighting shepherds in their mountains – never a good idea for any army.

So, will Australia stay conquered? Maybe in the short-term, but probably not in the long run. Perhaps they will just wait us out. Now that the multinationals have moved all the jobs to Asia, the unemployed American taxpayer can no longer keep the Pentagon in the style to which it has been accustomed. How much longer can it be before the tide of American military power must recede here at the end of this age of imperial overreach?

Note: George Friedman explains Australia’s geopolitical situation here.

They Don’t Call it “Weed” for Nothing

“Heroin, cocaine, and marijuana…originate as extremely low-cost agricultural products – weeds, essentially, that require almost no cultivation.”

That’s one of the interesting things in George Friedman’s book “The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World”. It’s of geopolitical significance to the USA because of the instability on our southern border being caused by Mexican drug gangs.

Here’s another interesting thing from the book: Everybody knows that the Russians stole nuclear technology from the USA 60 years ago. But to this day, nobody has been able to make nukes from scratch:

“Only one country ever produced a nuclear weapon from scratch, and that was the United States. The British got their nukes in compensation for their contribution to the American research effort. The French also acquired the technology from the Americans, which they then regifted to Israel. The Russians stole the knowledge from the Americans, then transferred it to both the Chinese and the Indians. The Chinese gave the technology to the Pakistanis.”

Chances are that we don’t really need to worry about the Iranians and North Koreans developing their own nukes. Unless they get help, of course. And nuclear proliferation should be pretty easy to contain – as long as nuclear countries just stop sharing.

And we might be able to get rid of nukes altogether. The science and technology is so hard that we could easily forget how to do it. When the Department of Energy decided to refurbish some warheads in 1996, it took 10 years to reverse engineer the super-secret FOGBANK material.

And now that there is no testing, you have to wonder how well these decaying systems will work. Ask any engineer if he could build a complicated device and expect it to work, and continue working for decades, without any real-world testing, and he will just laugh at you.

Nuclear weapons will likely prove to be a “use it or lose it” technology. If nuclear war erupted today, there would probably quite a lot of fizzling going on from all sides.

If our nukes do decay into duds, I think the USA would be the geopolitical lottery winner because of our geographical isolation from other world powers. It’s one thing for Beijing or Moscow to press a button and launch missiles at us, but it’s quite another for them land troops on our beaches and actually invade. The naval power required to do that would take generations to develop – even for a mighty industrial power like China.

All Quiet on the North Korean Front

When Kim Jong-il died in December, the media was filled with stories of the mayhem that might ensue. But I knew it wouldn’t happen because the US/South Korea trade treaty had become law a month before.

What does our treaty with South Korea have to do with North Korea, a completely different country?

I’ll give you one guess.

Here’s a hint: What is the heart-and-soul of globalization?

If you answered “sweatshops”, you get a gold star. Tell your mom that I said it was OK.

The Kaesong Industrial Region in North Korea

But now you’re thinking: “South Korea is a modern country free of sweatshops. So, how could this be?” Here’s how:

The purple area on the map is North Korea’s Kaesong Industrial Region, which is right on the border with South Korea. Kaesong was built by Hyundai, and is the Korean version of Foxconn.

While Foxconn has huge operations in China, it is a Taiwanese company. See the parallel? Capitalist Chinese from Taiwan operate the sweatshops in communist China. And now capitalist Koreans from the South are operating the sweatshops in the communist North. It’s the same setup except that the Korean version is more brutal. Workers are paid much less, and are marched in to work every morning by government goon squads shouting slogans at them.

We have had trade restrictions on North Korea for a long time; just as we do with Iran. And Kaesong was one of the primary reasons why the South Korea–USA Free Trade Agreement (KORUS-FTA) was held up for so many years.

But guess what? The word “Kaesong” doesn’t even appear in the final text of the treaty. You might expect it to be discussed in the “Rules of Origin” section, but it is not.

One would think that trade with an “Axis of Evil” country would get more play in the treaty. Shouldn’t there be very strict rules about what North Korean products can come into the USA via Kaesong and South Korea?

The treaty glosses over the issue by discussing “outward processing zones” under which Kaesong would be covered. However, the treaty does not forbid products from Kaesong. Annex 22-B provides for a committee to review such issues, but get this: the committee won’t even meet until March 15, 2013!

So, it looks like the fix is in.

And Kaesong is staffing up. This article from the Daily NK says Kaesong has absorbed all the workers in the region and more are going to be bused in.

The US industry hit hardest by globalization has been the textile industry, which has lost 62.5% of its jobs between 2001 and 2009. See the chart on page 16 of this report from the Brookings Institution. And it looks like textiles will get hit again. South Korean textiles will enter the USA duty-free immediately while our exports to them will suffer a 10% VAT.

And I can’t help but wonder if products made elsewhere in North Korea might be funneled to the South via Kaesong, and then exported to the USA. Is your next pair of sneakers being made right now at Camp 22? Nobody knows what goes on there, but it can’t be anything good. What if they work prisoners to death, and then bury them in mass graves?

OK, that’s speculation, but there is good evidence that products made by cheap labor have been smuggled out of the North to the USA. Maybe even your children’s favorite Disney movies. See this article about North Korea’s animation industry.

Newsweek has reported that Kaesong sweatshop workers were paid $57 per month. And considering the long hours in Asian sweatshops, that might come to 25¢ per hour.

Yesterday, North Korea announced that it is suspending nuclear development. Coincidence? Maybe not. What is North Korea’s end-game? Will they be conquered by the South and the USA like Libya? Will they suffer an economic collapse and be annexed by China?

Perhaps there is a third scenario: they will sell their people down the river, forcing them to work for peanuts in hellish sweatshops that have duty-free access to the USA’s vast consumer market.

Such an outcome would be disastrous for American workers, but it might be considered a geo-political back-up plan. If relations with China turn sour, American companies could transfer production to Korean sweatshops.

President Obama, who campaigned against NAFTA in 2008, has rubber-stamped another Republican cheap-labor deal. And the fall-out could effect the elections in November. The festivities begin on March 15th when the treaty goes into effect.

Note: See Public Citizen’s fact sheet here.
Note: See the Heritage Foundation’s pro-treaty argument here.

Here is a video from one of the authors of the Brookings paper that I linked to above:

Read it Here First: Steve Forbes’ Tanker War Story

On February 2, 2012 I posted “Iran Cannot Close the Straight of Hormuz, Unless…” where I talked about the Tanker War of the 1980s. At that time, nobody in the media was talking about that forgotten conflict. (See the screenshot below of a Google News search showing no results found.)

Three weeks later, Steve Forbes wrote “War With Iran Is Coming!” which contains a summary of what I wrote. However, as you can see by the exclamation point in Forbes’ title, he is a raging warmonger. So, of course, he had to conclude:

“Nevertheless, you may see a repeat of the Tanker War. In the heat of battle the ayatollahs may not be able to contain themselves.”

Forbes is implying that Iran would take action only after the war started, giving us a little glimpse of the matrix. An attack on Iran is clearly being planned right now.

But what “heat of battle” is Forbes talking about? Iran’s military is pathetic. Read journalist Eric Margolis’ report here. Excerpt:

“Iran has been unable to modernize most of its 1960’s/1970’s vintage military arsenal, much of which was supplied by the US and Britain to the Shah.”

I’m no fan of the Ayatollahs, but I can’t help but notice that the federal treasury is empty. And I can’t help but notice that warmongers like Steve Forbes are largely responsible.

Here is the Google News search that I mentioned above:

Note: I shouldn’t have described the “Tanker War” was “forgotten”. Of course, the mainstream media knows about it, but their job is to sell the war on Iran. So, of course, they have to harp on how dangerous Iran is – not on how we gave them a serious beating when they tried to close the Strait of Hormuz 25 years ago.

Note: I would have linked to Eric Margolis’ website directly, but it was off line when I was writing this. In any case, it is well worth adding to your reading list as you will learn things that are concealed by the mainstream media.

Iran Cannot Close the Straight of Hormuz, Unless…

To hear CNBC talk, you would think that Iran could close the Straight of Hormuz with the flip of a switch. Once again, we see appalling journalism on this poor excuse for a news network. CNBC is likely just doing its part to agitate for another war on behalf of the military-industrial complex.

USS Samuel B. Roberts being towed away after hitting an Iranian mine.

If you go to CNBC.com and enter “tanker wars” into the search box, it will return no results. But that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.

You see, the Iranians already tried to close the Straight of Hormuz during their war with Iraq back in the 1980s. And the US Army, Navy, Marines, and SEALS gave them a serious beating. In fact, it is considered one of the most important naval engagements in US military history because it established US control of the Persian Gulf.

There was plenty of fighting and casualties during the Tanker Wars, but the Iranians were no match for the USA. Operation Prime Chance and Operation Praying Mantis taught the ayatollahs a lesson that they surely remember to this day. And Iran’s navy is actually weaker now than it was back then. The idea that they could shut off tanker traffic is laughable.

Unless…

…Iran gets some help. During the Tanker Wars, the Iranians fired Chinese Silkworm missiles at tankers and oil terminals. And now, DEBKAfile is saying that a Chinese hacker team is responsible for downing our RQ-170 stealth drone over Iran.

If that’s true, and the Chinese know how to neutralize our highest of high-tech secret weapons, then the Iranians might have a better chance at closing the Straight of Hormuz this time around.

How much do the Chinese know? We have been transferring quite a lot of technology to them in the name of globalization, so it could be considerable. We won’t know the full extent unless we actually fight them.

Or one of their proxies, such as Iran.


Note: According to this page, the price of oil actually feel during the Tanker War years of 1984-1988.