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Four Reasons You Probably Haven’t Thought of to be Horrified by Trump’s Presidency

Democratic Twitter is very worried about a Trump presidency. This is not surprising.

I’m also not surprised by what they are worried about: Obamacare being gutted, Medicare being privatized, media being intimidated, hate crimes proliferating, and anti-semitism as a matter of course in the West Wing. Perhaps some people’s marriages will be voided once more. Some democrats are even concerned about civil liberties again.

I am far more worried about a Trump presidency than these people.

I don’t think people can appreciate the scale at which someone can screw things up. Many Democrats see the Iraq War as the upper bound of badness. It isn’t even close.

 

Number One: Nuclear Proliferation

The probability of a surface nuclear weapon detonating somewhere on the earth has gone up. Trump has suggested that relatively unstable countries in unstable regions ought to have their own nuclear weapons. This might be. He says a lot of contradictory things, and he luckily seems to be less fickle with his actions than his speech. But that is an awful low bar.

Trump’s speech itself is sufficient to trigger nuclear proliferation, and perhaps already has. He has said that he doesn’t want to defend close allies on which we have military bases without payment. If such countries haven’t already examined how they might defend themselves without America’s cooperation, they are guilty of gross negligence. Some of their paths to self-defense likely ought to consider the development and deployment of nuclear weapons.

 

Number Two: Aggression Against American Allies

I’m worried our allies will be attacked. For better or worse, America’s military might is a factor in their not being war in some important places. If Trump continues to advertise his unwillingness to defend its allies, we could see the rest of the Ukraine stalled up by Russia. Trump, during the campaign, seemed bizarrely unaware that Russia had already done so. We could see South Korea attacked. Bloodiest and saddest of all, we might see Taiwan attacked. This might still not be likely, but “expected value” in terms of lives lost due to any increase in the probability of such a confrontation would be a tragedy, at least on paper.

 

Number Three: Global Wealth Contraction

Trump seeks to reverse globalization. This is against America’s interests, but I suspect we will weather the blow better than some others.

World PovertyThat is a biography of globalization. You can see the tremendous improvements in reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty since the 70s despite rapid population growth.

But don’t think extreme poverty is no longer a problem. That tiny bar of red on the right represents 705 million people still living on less than a couple bucks per day. It’s a huge, continuing tragedy, and even a small reduction in the rate of the improvement will kill an untold number of people.

 

Number Four: The World Rejects The Dollar

The dollar might not stay the world’s reserve currency. Without prompting, Trump threatened default as a presidential candidate and stated his willingness to try to get debtors to accept partial payment on the national debt.

Trump doesn’t have to do anything from this point. He’s already justified the doubt by fielding the possibility. It is, frankly, irresponsible for anyone to hold all their assets in solely dollar-denominated investments even if we never hear another word about this ever again.

mushroom cloud photo

Image by thw05

Additionally, the US dollar’s status as the world’s currency of choice does not solely stem from our willingness to pay our debts—though that is indeed a necessary condition. It depends on someone someday wanting to buy US goods, eventually. Dollars may transfer hands for a decade on the international markets, but eventually you’re going to want to spend them or trade them to someone else who will want to spend them on US goods produced by US companies. I know it’s hard to believe, but internationally people still want to buy stuff that is made in the USA.

To the extent Trump is successful in implementing his agenda, our goods will become less attractive. To the extent we disentangle ourselves from the global supply chain, our goods will become less attractive. This might never be a problem for Apple, but it certainly will be for unbranded products. As countries enact retaliatory trade barriers including tariffs, US goods will hold still less appeal, and accordingly US dollars.

It’s not even clear that Trump thinks the dollar losing its status as the world’s reserve currency would be a bad thing. It’s entirely possible he thinks it’s bad that China holds so much of the US’s debt and would prefer the dollar to be much weaker and internationally unimportant.

 

Game Over

It’d be really bad if 20,000,000 Americans lost their health coverage. It’d be bad if happily married people weren’t anymore even as their feelings for each other remain unchanged. I’d suggest, however, that if these are your greatest fears, you aren’t being imaginative enough.


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Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1. ...more →

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153 thoughts on “Four Reasons You Probably Haven’t Thought of to be Horrified by Trump’s Presidency

  1. I’m planning to worry about the ways Trumpy will be a disaster on the foreign policy front on Monday and Wednesday. Domestic Policy disasters are Tuesday and Thursday. I’ll leave Friday for the various bigotries and horrendous things he will say.

    But really the biggest hope we have is that the people he hires won’t do all the stupid stuff he said that he doesn’t even remember saying nor did he care about it in the first place. Doesn’t mean what they will do will be great but maybe just enough to avoid the dumbest things Trumpy said.

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  2. i share many of these concerns. Anti-globalization specifically can be absolutely catastrophic to hundreds of millions of people. The flip side of short term uncertainty and “creative destruction” is stagnation and long term immiseration.

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  3. Meh.

    1) Already happening and has been a concern since the end of the Cold War.

    2) MSN ran a bizarre article two days before the election praising Hillary’s willingness to bring back the Cold War by getting into a pissing contest with Russia. Nobody ever explains how this benefits us.

    Also, during the Bill Clinton presidency, China threatened Taiwan and we left them hanging. As for South Korea, the reason our troops are stationed where they are is because, not only would North Korea have to kill 40,000 American soldiers but the troop locations would ensure horrific civilian casualties which would bring in the rest of the world. Finally, China isn’t going to let North Korea overturn the current balance and North Korea knows it.

    3) Whether it is against our interests is debatable. Regardless, it isn’t hard to look at at a map and figure that this is already happening.

    4) It’s already happening. If you didn’t know that, you haven’t been paying attention to Economic news.

    Overall, this just tells me that you haven’t been paying attention.

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    • When China threatened Taiwan, Bill sent two CVBG‘s and pretty much the rest of the firepower of the 7th Fleet.

      And for those paying attention, we’re down to about 28K personnel in South Korea (which is still to much for what we or they need). We sent about 10k people from there to Iraq during the middle of Dubya’s reign and never sent them back.

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      • Fair enough but this still seems like another “This would have happened whether we elected Trump/Clinton/Sanders/Johnson but, since we elected Trump, it’s time to ramp up the fear-mongering.” article that Democrat sites (such as the League) specialize in every time the DNC doesn’t get it’s way.

        This is not a good way to win the center. (Frankly, what I said about taking a “wait and see” approach with Brexit applies here as well.)

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  4. They were discussing foreign policy today on Morning Joe and several people noted that world leaders are actually excited about the prospect of an American president that picks up the phone and will talk to them for an hour. Apparently the stories of Obama having little respect for most world leaders and being unavailable are actually pretty accurate.

    So maybe having all those people in his ear are a good thing. Maybe Trump is actually a good CEO and likes to hear from his peers.

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    • Of course some world leaders will like Trump. T. is likely to go hard line on Iran which will please Saudi Arabia and Israel. Whether that is a good idea is another thing. Apparently Rudy G is the leading candidate for SOS. Rudy loves belligerent threats. Lets see how well people like that.

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      • Giuliani as Secretary of State scare me a lot less than Giuliani as Attorney-General or John Bolton as Secretary of State. Its still going to be very incompetent but Giuliani can do a lot more damage as Attorney-General.

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        • I was not happy with the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. I thought she didn’t have the temperament to be a diplomat. She proved me wrong.

          Rudy! as Secretary of State bothers me about as much and for similar reasons. I can only hope, in the utter absence of any evidence suggesting the hope is reasonable, that he grows into the role.

          But mainly, I’m hoping the career diplomats working at the middle levels of our foreign service are able to keep thing smoothed over as much as possible.

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          • Does he have any relevant experience?

            As for his temperament, I’m disinclined to trust that after some of his choices near the end of his Mayoral term.

            Perhaps it’s just sheer partisanship that gives the impression, but I worry he lacks the ability to handle both nuance and to put himself in his opposite’s shoes to be able to handle diplomacy at the highest level.

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    • Mike,
      They liked Bill Clinton well enough — he’d start going on about domestic policy.

      I’m certain everyone’s saying something polite right now (but seriously, Trump’s not Mr. Robot Romney, or Mr. Explodes A Lot McCain)

      Trump is a horrible businessman but an excellent conman. (and this is an evaluation I got from both an excellent businessman and a damn fine conman).

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    • They were discussing foreign policy today on Morning Joe and several people noted that world leaders are actually excited about the prospect of an American president that picks up the phone and will talk to them for an hour

      Funny, I’m hearing people say that part of Obama’s tour is to answer hard questions on the lines of “Who has your country just saddled us with”.

      I suspect confirmation bias might be at play.

      (of course I also heard people talking about the Iran deal, and comparing it with North Korean in 2000 — and exactly how well Bush had managed that, with some of the same folks on board)

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    • To paraphrase our own @jaybird:

      1. I can’t believe it’s not butter.
      2. I’m very sad it’s not butter.
      3. Is there anything I can do to make it butter?
      4. I’m so mad this isn’t butter!
      5. Oh well. I guess it really isn’t butter.

      This sounds like number three.

      There is no reason at all to believe Trump is a good CEO who listens to others.

      There is every reason to believe that as a business leader, Trump changes the rules, principally through litigation, when they become inconvenient for him, to make sure he’s going to get what he wants out of the deal.

      And as we’ve seen on the campaign trail, his competitive instincts are driven by the core belief that everything he considers to be of worth in the world — power, economics, popularity — is a zero-sum game.

      He’s a teller, not a listener. That’s the kind of man he is.

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      • But do we know that he ignores his employees? I don’t know the answer, but the best bosses I’ve had listened to the people under them. Maybe he actually does the same behind the scenes (or at least we can pray he does).

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        • Nobody knows nothing. For sure, anyway. So, maybe he’s a really good boss who really does listen to his employees and take their advice into account when making his own decisions.

          All we have are hints.

          How many bosses did you work for that made you sign perpetual non-disparagement agreements as a condition of employment? And then actually enforced them in court after the employment relationship ended? Just the good ones? Trump’s practice of doing this obscures what people who work for and with him really think.

          Based on the leaked tax records, does the Trump Organization consistently make profits? If not, are there uncontrollable external factors (like inflation, interest rates, recessions) that seem to affect whether there is profit in a given year or not?

          What’s turnover like at the Trump Organization? High turnover suggests people don’t like working there or management wants to churn employees. Low turnover suggests that people there both want to stay and are wanted.

          Do people who have done business with Trump before come back to do business with him again? If so, that suggests that they made enough money or otherwise had a good enough experience that they think he’s a good business and negotiating partner. It seems eminently reasonable to assume that most capitalists aren’t going to let something petty like personal like or dislike of him get in the way of making money.

          Litigation is also a darkened lens with which to perceive truth: how often he’s sued (and what for) and how often he sues people (and what for) may not be the most reliable guide of what’s really going on with his business dealings. It may well be true that a certain amount of litigation is simply part of what it is to do business at any significant scale. With that said, best business practices would seem to counsel staying out of court if only to avoid bad publicity and unnecessary transaction costs, and a pattern of frequent litigation suggests that there is some sort of ethic in play that lends itself to legal disputes.

          So, no, we can’t know for sure. Such hints as I see do not give me optimism for his leadership style.

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          • The fact that he appears to have run out of American banks to borrow from and is currently handling a large debt load to the Germans, at the very least, is also worrisome.

            Thankfully, as he will neither hand his assets off to a blind trust nor disclose them, we’ll never actually know how bad it is.

            I’m sure it’s fine. I mean, what are the odds that the only candidate in 40 years to refuse to disclose his tax returns or place his assets in a blind trust is going to have some sort of conflict of interest or worrisome debt?

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  5. Number One: Nuclear Proliferation: Past administrations have done such a great job limited NP haven’t they? N. Korea, India, Pakistan, Israel. Yeah. Great job. I’m more worried about some crazies buying nukes from some poor “stan” than this.

    Number Two: Aggression Against American Allies:
    “we could see the rest of the Ukraine stalled up by Russia”–so what? We going to intervene militarily?
    “We could see South Korea attacked. Bloodiest and saddest of all, we might see Taiwan attacked” So? Are defending these countries militarily is our interest? No, they are “expendable”.

    Number Three: Global Wealth Contraction: As long as the wealth contraction doesn’t effect the US, why should we care that much? Oh, sure, folks may be starving “over there” but unless it impacts our trade revenue, how is this a major US concern?

    Number Four: The World Rejects The Dollar: Dude, anytime some upstart wants to start selling his oil in gold or euros or such, he’s removed. Think we’d tolerate that shit now any more than in the past? Nope. (Besides, it’ll happen naturally as China ascends and we decline)

    *some of this commentary was written “tongue in cheek”.

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    • I wonder if the Bush Administration withdrawing from the Agreed Framework or the Republican Congress reneging on agreed upon sanctions relief had anything to do with that?

      Oh and don’t we have a nuclear non-proliferation treaty that the new administration is contemplating tearing up on January 21? I don’t see how setting the precedent that our word is only as good as one administration reduces proliferation.

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        • I would say the fact that there are only four nuclear countries outside of the original group (India, Pakistan, NK and Israel) indicates a pretty good record rather than a poor one. Nuclear physics is hard, but it’s not that hard. If Japan really wanted a nuke, they could have one before the Raiders play the Texans.

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          • I’m not sure how much “effort” was really focused on india and pakistan, but NK was fer sure a problem, and look how well that came out.

            And Iran. They can build them if they like.

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              • Oh? We cant prevent NK from doing it but can with Iran, who our intelligence has said for years that they are close, close, so close, imminent to building one?

                Please provide definitive proof I lie.

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                • Heavy monitoring through a treaty they appear to be following. They are farther away from being able to build one than a year ago. They shipped out the fuel they had.

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                  • No fair covering for Never….

                    And I said they can build them if they like….ie they have the technical knowledge, or close to it. I didn’t say they could build one in 3 months. And I support the Iran deal. I think it’s time we stopped pissing around in the ME.

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                • Iran cannot build nuclear weapons because they are being constantly monitored to prevent that from happening.

                  The deal is not based on trust; it’s based on verification. The IAEA will have 24/7 access to Iran’s known nuclear facilities and will be closely monitoring Iran’s supply chain of nuclear materials, centrifuge production lines, and any purchases that might be used for a nuclear program. The deal also provides timely inspections to any undeclared facilities where suspected nuclear activity may be occurring. If Iran does cheat, they will be caught and sanctions will be re-imposed.

                  There are also aspects of the deal that Iran can’t easily undo. Iran must dismantle two-thirds of its installed centrifuges, remove 98% of its uranium stockpile, and permanently alter the Arak Plutonium reactor before it receives any relief from economic sanctions. These actions will be verified by the IAEA and will greatly increase the time it would take Iran to obtain weapons-grade nuclear material.

                  The deal goes to great lengths to buttress major points of the agreement. For example, the deal does not just put limitations on centrifuge production, it also puts limitations on rotor production, and on the machines that make the rotors. The subsidiary commitments that Iran has made for the agreement are truly impressive.

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                  • I think you’re misunderstanding me.

                    They CAN build them. Those choose not and have an agreement not to, and have agreed to certain monitoring. That’s doesn’t mean that they are unable to build one should they withdraw from the agreement or that they lack the technical know how.

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                    • Yes, I was. That point I agree with, which is why I’d propose Iran as the biggest risk to be next in a Trump administration (if he actually goes through with cancelling the deal preventing Iran from following through).

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                    • or that they lack the technical know how.

                      Everybody has the technical know how to build a relatively small bomb. It’s not a secret. Its not been a secret for decades.

                      The Iran deal cuts Iran’s access to the machinery and the fuel to build one, AND to the machinery to build the required machinery and enrich the fuel themselves. As such, that’s actually a big deal.

                      On the other hand, I’m not that concerned about the Iran deal. Even if the USA walks away, the chances that the EU, Russia, and China will restart sanctions as long as Iran is complying are almost nil. Our unilateral withdrawal from the Iran deal would result in putting the USA in an ineffectual position, while giving Iran and its ally Russia (with the very likely agreement of China, and the very likely no objection of the EU, a chance to weaken some of the agreement provisions that were incorporated as a sop for the USA hardliners.

                      The problem of people like Bolton, is that they seem to believe that other people lack agency, and have no independent interests. The USA walking out of the Iran deal would make a lot of people happy.

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            • Yes, NK is a problem. And we tried to make an agreement with them. However, the Republican Congress did not lift sanctions as promised by WJC and when the Bush administration came in, they tore up the Agreed Framework. It was after this that NK pulled out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and then built nukes. It’s a bit rich to complain that we can’t restrain NK with a NP treaty when they got nukes years after an administration came in and tore up a NP treaty.

              If the Trump administration tears up the Iran deal, throws up unilateral sanctions and then Iran gets nukes, is it because NP treaties don’t work or because a new administration got rid of the carrot and enforcement mechanism?

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    • *some of this commentary was written “tongue in cheek”.

      Given your boosterism, it’s hard to tell which parts. And nothing’s funnier than nuclear proliferation jokes!

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  6. 1 and 2 are reasons why I can’t take people who believe that Trump was the peace candidate seriously. American isolationism from international affairs does not equal peace. Letting unstable regimes and non-state actors get their hands on nuclear weapons does not equal peace. Allowing Putin to have free reign in the Ukraine, Syria, and elsewhere is not peace. Peace is more than just not fighting.

    3 also happens to be correct but as Saul notes, the free traders might be right but they are having a very difficult time convincing the voters to go along with them. This is true for technocratic liberal free traders and libertarian free traders. Nation-states and governments still matter for these things.

    4 is a very valid concern.

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    • “Peace is more than just not fighting.”

      If WE ain’t fighting someone, we’re at peace. Other people/countries butchering one another still means we are at peace. And frankly, what the rest of the world does means a lot less than how many amercians are getting blown up in another country.

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  7. 1. Nuclear Proliferation – this is a board game, based on Nuclear War from 1965. Which tells me that it has been a fear a least as long. I know that I remember it from the Reagan era.

    2. American Allies – considering the complete and total cluster fish that has been the Obama foreign policy, any attacks that come will be resulting from that most likely. “‘The 1980s Are Calling, They Want Their Foreign Policy Back” indeed.

    3. Global Wealth Contraction – I thought the Brexit was going to do this? Or maybe not? Or, maybe we aren’t sure and can’t pin it down?

    4. Reject the Dollar – OK, this is interesting. And could be a real problem. But who is looking to pull out at this time? And what would they go to? Need a bit more here to decide if it is a problem.

    While I am glad to see some real thought go into problems that could be faced by the country in the next few years, without greater amounts of analysis I am not really seeing a problem.

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    • Yes, nuclear proliferation has been a problem since nuclear weapons were envisioned. Why this would mean we shouldn’t be concerned about changes in the dynamics of proliferation escapes me.

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      • Nothing in what Vik has written has shown me that anything is really changing, simply that he feels it is changing. Absent some signs that things really are changing I am not going to change my opinions. I wasn’t afraid of NW in the ’80’s under president Raygun, as most of my family told me I should be, as I felt at that time it was fear mongering. Not seeing much of a difference here and now.

        The biggest change in the world has been increased tensions between the US an Russia under the Obama admin. Has this changed the dynamics of proliferation? Is there a reason we haven’t talked about proliferation in that light?

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        • Five people having nuclear weapons is different from twenty-five people having nuclear weapons. Countries that are looking to maintain stuff quo having nuclear weapons is different from countries looking to overturn the world order having nuclear weapons. Countries who are our allies having nuclear weapons is different from countries that are our enemies having nuclear weapons.

          I’m not sure why this needs a lot of analysis or why being worried about the possible outcomes of these changes is just being a busybody.

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          • Your answer pretty much convinces me I am correct in this. As you aren’t presenting any more facts at this time, simply saying that you think that Vik is correct because… ?

            In the last 70 years, more countries have gotten the bomb, some allies, some enemies, with no explosions. One country even gave up the bomb, with no explosions. Many of the countries that have gotten the bomb, have gotten it through A Q khan and Pakistan. During a period of nuclear draw down between the US and Russia.

            This fear has been presented as a constant during any and all conservative US admins, even though the closest we have come to a Nuclear War was under Kennedy.

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            • Yes, but part of the reason that things didn’t go to pot was that we had a policy to make sure that it didn’t. And not just liberal administrations, but conservative as well. No one took a new nation stockpiling nuclear weapons as a lulz. It was treated with both great alarm and great caution, to the point that any time anyone did, treaties with other countries were made to communicate to that new holder of arms that there would be a very terrible price to pay if they used those weapons for any other reason than defense against the same.

              You may be right, that if 50 years ago we’d told every other nation it was fine to use nuclear weapons on anyone but us they wanted, that we’d certainly frown but we’d let them do it, that everything would have ended up just fine, and no one would have ever used them, or that even if they had, they would have been used against people who were — as you say — “expendable.”

              But that seems a big risk to casually throw out on the table without more thought that I’ve seen Trump make (at least in public, he may have put in quite a bit behind the scenes) or you making here.

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              • But that isn’t what has been thrown on the table in Viks article. “Trump’s speech itself is sufficient to trigger nuclear proliferation, and perhaps already has.” How, and by whom? Is it Brazil that is looking for a weapon right now? ISIS? Canada? Where are these groups looking? North Korea? Or as Damon hinted, one of the ‘Stans? These questions are very important, as the help inform us of whether this risk is something to go to war over. Weapons of Mass Destruction anyone? Rethinking NATO bases isn’t my idea of cool, but how is that going to lead to nuclear proliferation? Japan and the Philippines closing bases?

                Without more info I cannot truly assess the risk here. And so, it seems much like the general info that has passed as “Conventional Wisdom” low these 70 years.

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                • South Korea is the most immediate candidate; they have an aggressive northern neighbor (already nuclear armed), had a weapons program in the 70s, and have specifically been called out by the President-elect as a country that might not be able to rely on US conventional and nuclear support to the degree they have in the past.

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                  • I would say Iran is up there too. If Trump tears up the treaty, the world won’t reimpose sanctions (because Iran was holding up its end of the bargain). Then you have an unsanctioned country with a desire for nukes, the expertise for nukes, and no safeguards to prevent them from getting nukes.

                    Which, of course, those currently pretending not to care about nuclear proliferation will suddenly, and not at all for partisan reasons, decide is a major catastrophe and 100% Obama’s fault. But let’s make sure we hear them out when that totally unpredictable event transpires.

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            • Iran (which is a country I assume you don’t support), doesn’t have nuclear weapons now. Trump wants to back out of the treaty preventing them from getting nuclear weapons.

              Trump also wants current allies to have weapons, which is bad.

              These aren’t inchoate fears, these are his effing policy proposals.

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        • Has it? Obama negotiated a new START treaty with Russia, and, of course, got the Russians on board with the Iran deal.

          I think the fear is that acceptance, if not encouragement, for other states to acquire nuclear weapons leads, in the long run, to a greater probability of their being used, sold, or stolen, by a non-state actor.

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        • Picking just some highlights from the Obama era discussions of nukes and Russia, there was the New START treaty in 2010, as well as continued discussions of missile defenses in Eastern Europe and, most recently, Russian movement of missiles into the Kalinigrad enclave. This stuff was in the papers; if you haven’t heard about it, that sounds like a personal problem.

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          • I would generally think that that any work Obama did with Russia on START has been balanced out by Russia’s expansionist policies in the Ukraine, Crimea and indeed increased armaments in Kalinigrad. None of this makes me feel any better regarding the Obama foreign policy.

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                • Would anybody have done anything? If so, what? Totally honest question. Other than the sanctions regime I don’t know what else a US politician would or could do, but this isn’t an area I know a lot about.

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                • Crimea happened because Crimea was too important to Russia not to invade. It was baked into the cake of Maidan. If you want to blame Crimea on Obama its giving support to anti-Russian Ukrainians in the first place, not an unrelated event in the Middle-East.

                  The Syria red line is a thing people in Washington use to bash other people in Washington.

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            • I never took a position on the merits of those policies and developments; I pointed out that your claim that they weren’t discussed was bullshit. So why should we not discuss Trump’s policies, again?

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              • I think we maybe using proliferation in different ways. I am using it as, not one country that already has Nuke’s getting more belligerent, but rather the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries that do not have Nukes.

                My point re: Obama and Russia was that the here was an area where international tension has dramatically increased, and how that could lead to other countries getting the bomb, as Russian might want to disperse them and/or sell them.

                Sorry for any confusion.

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                • Russia has never liked other countries having nuclear devices, which is why they historically partner with the US to uphold NPT. Which is why they were willing to get together on the Iran sanctions. Russia will quite happily sell Iranians surface to air missiles for both profit and to contain the US Air Force, they don’t have the same view of nuclear weapons.

                  Russia leans on being one of two countries with a first rate nuclear arsenal to maintain their status and don’t care to reduce the marginal value of that by more countries getting them.

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    • Aaron David:
      3. Global Wealth Contraction – I thought the Brexit was going to do this? Or maybe not? Or, maybe we aren’t sure and can’t pin it down?

      Is this skepticism based upon a belief that Trump won’t do what he promises, or do you think that a trade war with China won’t hurt the economy?

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      • It’s scepticism based upon the information presented in this article. Could a trade war with China hurt? Yes. Could Trump renege on his promises? Yes. Could SMOD hit and destroy the economy? Sure. A million other things could happen, and, like the Brexit, it will effect different people in different ways. There have been more than a few comments suggesting that money isn’t everything around the OT over the last few years, and a good discussion about who is benefiting from globalization, who has been left behind due to its effects, what could happen to other countries at that point, are regional changes in the US economy part of the calculus, could some of the other cultural friction points be mitigated by a leveling of economic conditions across the country, etc.

        Too many questions arising at this point to be afeared.

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        • This seems like putting your head in the sand. Our President elect called for a 45% tariff on goods from China. I don’t see how it’s fear mongering to look at whether it is possible he could take that action, and if so, what the consequences could/would be. That those consequences are something to fear only legitimates that they are worth looking at.

          The fact that the future is unknowable is neither here nor there. Said another way. Would it be worth detailing the the myriad problems with, and likely negative outcomes of, President Sanders price controls proposal.

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          • You’re supposed to know when he’s making a promise he’ll actually keep and when he’s just blustering to try to get votes.

            Same is true with our trading partners and military antagonists. He may say he’s about to launch the nukes, but believing him is just being alarmist. Everybody chill and project your hopes onto him rather than your fears or the things he actually said he’d do.

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  8. Meh, I’m fine getting out of the Neo imperialism game. It’s why I’m rooting for Rand Paul to jam up the notion of a Bolton led state department.

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      • It seems like it does have a bias for stuff in English, yes.

        The biggest problem in spycraft is that Americans don’t bother to learn other languages making Russian documents only barely babelfishable and Chinese documents positively opaque.

        But if the American party in power does something, whammo.

        Though I also think that this Americanized bias also has something to do with the fact that it was Chelsea Manning that put Wikileaks on the map and that embarrassed the party that happened to be in power at the time which turned the release of the information from “transparency in the government” into “anti-Obama propaganda”.

        Really, only the people who opposed Obama or opposed Afghanistan/Iraq benefited.

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        • IIRC, Wikileaks once promised some Russia data dumps (it’s not like that particular oligarchy doesn’t have a million skeletons in the closet, quite a few of them actual skeletons) and then abruptly dropped it.

          Entirely.

          And then not too long after, Wikileaks started getting info that both private and public agencies claim has Russian fingerprints all over it.

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          • morat20,
            hmm. Wikileaks might be protecting their American source.

            http://townhall.com/tipsheet/mattvespa/2016/08/11/wikileaks-founder-yeah-it-was-pretty-much-a-hit-on-that-dnc-staffer-who-have-been-my-source-for-dnc-emails-n2203815

            This actually made the news. Fuck on a pogostick.

            I do trust wikileaks more than I trust people who had to be told repeatedly that they couldn’t deny the damn e-mails.

            (The other stuff, about “suspicious deaths”, I don’t buy. If you’re going to go to the effort to “send a message”, it generally only needs to be sent once).

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            • Kim, that entire premise is idiotic, even *pretending* that the DNC is the sort of organization that *murders* people.

              That person didn’t get killed until after Wikileaks released the DNC stuff.

              If someone spies on you, and you *know* it, you might have a reason to kill them *before* they pass along some information.

              But you don’t kill them *after* they passed it on. Why would you do that? You feed them misdirection, or, you know, capture them and try to find out their contacts. (This is, again, pretending that the DNC is a *intelligence organization* or something.)

              If that guy actually *was* the source, and actually *was* killed in a fake mugging because of it, there’s no logical way it was the DNC.

              The people who murder sources *after* an operation is over are the people who *ran* the operation and don’t want loose ends. The people who don’t want anything pointing back at them. Aka, Russia, or even Wikileaks (Hey, if the DNC can be running black-bag intelligence operations, why can’t Wikileaks?)

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                • It only takes one murder to send a firm message to shut the fuck up.

                  And people are a lot less likely to pay attention to “data analyst from the DNC” than Mr. DickPic.

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              • David,
                It wasn’t the DNC, exactly. Hillary? Sure, she ain’t exactly got much left to lose, and has a lot to gain by keeping people in line. I’ve maintained for quite some time that either she won the election, or she was probably going to get jailtime or be murdered (extracrispy bonus points if she gets on the Darwin Awards).

                Have you noticed exactly how fucking paranoid the Clinton team has been about the wikileaks stuff? They’re toeing the line between calling them lies (“Whopper expected before the election” — that’s the sort of thing you put out to inoculate you against some fairly serious shit, not SpiritCooking), and flat out saying that Russia did it.

                “Sending a message” not to mess with you? That’s standard crime boss behavior. Enforces code of silence on EVERYONE who was only on Hillary’s side out of fear. Stops more people from leaking things.

                I’m not going to say the folks running Wikileaks aren’t capable of murder. But you don’t get more people leaking to you if you wind up killing them. And a good leak can give you a lot more than one datadump. It’s implausible for Wikileaks to be going after their own source. (What the hell — is Wikileaks going to be in trouble if the source speaks out??)

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          • So it’s not that wikileaks isn’t saying things that aren’t true, it’s just that they’re saying things that only benefit one particular narrative?

            It’s always difficult to argue against that sort of thing.

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            • What I said, since I was apparently unclear is that once upon a time, before Wikileaks hit it’s current incarnation, they claimed to have a forthcoming document dump of leaks about Russia and the Russian government.

              Which never happened, and Wikileaks never mentioned again, and not long after Assange started indulging in his personal political grudge match and leaking documents that came via state-sponsored Russian hackers.

              *shrug*. Make of it what you will, but their claims to be apolitical are quite laughable — all it takes is a visit to their online store or a perusal of their Twitter feed.

              (And yes, there were some faked docs in their leaks. Either that, or someone using the Cyrllic alphabet works for the DNC and felt like playing with their spreadsheets).

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              • Oh, it’s quite obvious that they’re political.

                The question is whether what they’re saying are “true” or what they’re saying are “true but”.

                And if it’s the latter, whether “true but” is worse than “false”.

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                • They give the info they want to get the results they want. Info that doesn’t support their goals stays hidden. So if it’s “true but” how do you know they aren’t’ hiding all the stuff that really says “false” or that their side is worse. You don’t because of a lack of transparency and their own agenda.

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                • Well, it’s like this — if you don’t trust the motives of the person dispensing the documents, you can’t trust the documents. Not just for alteration, but because you can release true documents selectively to create a false impression.

                  (Consider O’Keefe’s videos as a more blatant example).

                  I can think of a number of people who found out that “true but” is worse than false.

                  As for Wikileaks and this election, you had TWO sets of hands with an agenda. Assange’s and Russia’s. (Well, honestly there’s always the leaker’s hands and the hands of the folks disseminating the leak).

                  I think we’re all pretty clear that Assange had an agenda, and frankly Russia would be real crap at geopolitics if it didn’t.

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                  • O’Keefe’s videos are obviously doctored and edited to create an impression. Propaganda of the highest order.

                    But I think back on, for example, Chelsea’s data dump and Snowden’s data dump and get a somewhat interesting picture even if it is propaganda.

                    In the same way that the Russian Government allowed the citizens to watch movies like “Singin’ in the Rain” to show the seedier side of American life, the Russian people said stuff like “did you see how everyone had new shoes?”

                    It’s still possible to look at propaganda and notice how everyone has new shoes.

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                    • Were there important things the Soviet gov didn’t tell people? Might some of those things been more significant that shoes? Were the shoes an attempt to distract attention from other things? Is this example really proving what you think it does?

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                      • Are there important things the US government isn’t telling people?

                        Might some of those things be more important than what the big building in Utah is doing?

                        Was the big building in Utah an attempt to distract attention from other things?

                        Does light word substitution take away from how much of a betrayal of certain values shoes can be?

                        Do you want Donald Trump in charge of telling the guy in charge of that big building in Utah what and who to listen to, Greg?

                        Because the clock is ticking and he will be in charge of picking that guy in a couple of months.

                        And now you get to decide whether you’re glad you know about that big building in Utah or whether you wish you didn’t know about it in the first place.

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                        • As far as WL goes, i only know what serves their interest. Nothing more. If i know a tenth of the story then that is all they want me to know. Transparency means we all get to know and make our decisions. WL doesn’t want us making our own choices, they want to guide us to their preferred choice. They are in control. Nothign you are saying is changing that. You are fine with going where they want you to.

                          BTW what did Bernie think of all this? Was he content with going where WL wanted him to?

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                          • As far as I can tell, Bernie said this:

                            “Trust me, if they went into our emails — I suppose which may happen, who knows — I’m sure there would be statements that would be less than flattering about, you know, the Clinton staff,” Sanders said. “That’s what happens in campaigns.”

                            As far as I can tell, he didn’t actively condemn Wikileaks.

                            But, you know how hesitant socialists are when it comes to criticizing Russia.

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                  • morat20,
                    Israel, Saudi Arabia, The actual leaker, half a dozen other groups.
                    (Granted, Israel only cared about the e-mails because they wanted to know if Hillary was going to betray them, but they had the e-mails a year early).

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  9. If Trump does cause the global rate of extreme poverty elimination to slow, then obviously that’s a blot. But rates change, and if we’re talking about change to the counterfactual not just observed change, it’s going to require some argumentation to say that it was caused by his policies. It seems a bit harsh to just hang the current rate of extreme poverty alleviation on him, and say that if it changes, no matter what else we know or see, the change is on him.

    I make this point largely because the exact same argument would have applied to Sanders, and for that matter Clinton, if she had been moved by the strong currents in her party to do anything at all Sanders-ish on trade, as well.

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  10. While the nuclear stuff is, of course, a huge deal I do not think we should conflate the dollar’s current international status with the other issues on this list.

    At best, that’s a small economic boost we would do just fine without. Which isn’t to say we shouldn’t want that boost, just that it’d have a hard time getting a slot at the Trump Horribles Parade.

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  11. Remember how I said I’d be looking towards resignations and firings? I didn’t think it’d start so soon

    The Donald Trump transition, already off to slow start, bogged down further Tuesday with the abrupt resignation of former Congressman Mike Rogers, who had been coordinating its national security efforts.

    Two sources close to Rogers said he had been the victim of what one called a “Stalinesque purge,” from the transition of people close to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who left Friday. It was unclear which other aides close to Christie had also been forced out.
    […]
    Multiple sources indicated that Christie was demoted because he wasn’t seen as sufficiently loyal to Trump, failing to vocally defend him at key moments on the campaign trail.
    […]
    In a separate development, Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official under George W. Bush who blasted Trump during the campaign, ripped into the president-elect’s transition effort Tuesday.

    Cohen, one of 122 Republican national security figures who signed an open letter last spring opposing Trump’s candidacy, had written an essay last week in which he suggested that military and intelligence officials “continue to do their jobs.”

    But on Tuesday, he tweeted, “After exchange w Trump transition team, changed my recommendation: stay away. They’re angry, arrogant, screaming ‘you LOST!’ Will be ugly.”

    Paul Ryan better watch his back. If Trump’s holding a grudge about his personal butt monkey, he must hate Ryan with the fury of a thousand suns. Ted Cruz probably isn’t off the hook either, even with his groveling return to the fold.

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    • Ryan just got re-upped on his job unanimously. Cohen led one of those nevertrump open letters from the right wing side of the NatSec community, so it’s not really a surprise they’re telling him to pound sand.

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      • Cohen’s issue wasn’t that they told him to pound sand. Per a request from the transition team, he provided a list of recommended NatSec pros to fill posts. He was lambasted for filling it with knowledgable people rather than loyalists.

        Cohen also said after the election that those that opposed Trump should work with the new administration and understand that they will be the horse, not the jockey, so he was coming from a genuine position of trying to help.

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  12. Ugh, Gaffney’s in the mix now? I think I might have known that during the campaign and forgot, but still, Gaffney? Ugh. I would say nice things about Bolton to keep Gaffney away from official channels.

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  13. 5. That his contractionist isolationism inspires expressions of contempt from other authoritarian leaders? Eg, Putin pulling Russia outa the ICC and the current Israeli bill allowing settlements in Palestinian territory, one which Netanyahu is likely to sign. While Trump brags about making great deals in a checkers game savvy foreign leaders are playing chess.

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