Our Next Six Months

Saturday update for 15 August 2020.

Cannon Hinnant

A five-year-old boy, riding his bike in front of his house is the definition of innocence. Throughout history, almost all cultures have recognized this. The media may portray this jut as a boy fatally shot.

Cannon

But it is much more than that. We could talk about how different the outcry and reaction would be if this were a black child, shot at close range in the head by a white neighbor. That would be playing into the same racialist narrative that infects so much of the dialogue today.

Cannon was an innocent, in the eyes of God his life mattered and he was innocent of all sin. We do not know what he would have grown up to be. He may have become a drug-addicted, lifetime criminal, a man that abused women, abandoned his children, and might someday die on a street after committing more crimes and struggling with police.

He may have become a saint, or he may have just become an ordinary imperfect man like the rest of us. But he was innocent and his life mattered.

Some will argue that perhaps Darius Sessoms, the man that shot Cannon in the head from close range, was an anomaly, that this is not indicative of the world. That we cannot place blame on an entire class of people because of his actions. I agree with that. We cannot condemn all 25-year-old black men as child murderers. It would be insane to classify an entire class of people as evil!

Some of the same people that would make that argument support groups that want to vilify and attack the police, all of them, as one large homogenous group of evil-doers. Some still would tell us that all white people enjoy white privilege and play a part in 'systemic racism'.  Because they have read, sat in a lecture, or saw some videos on the subject, they might even place me in a category of deniers because I do not even recognize my own 'white fragility'.

There is some hard truth that we need to come to terms with.

All of this hatred and racism that has spread like a real pandemic since George Floyd died on a street (before then really, perhaps back to Michael Brown robbing a store and wrestling for a police officers gun) played a significant role in the death of Cannon Hinnant. I can hear all of the counter-arguments, but on a basic, foundational level, that is absolutely true.

We can say that we 'love' people and want to see justice. But a parent that loves their child does not allow them to do absurd or dangerous things just because the child is upset. A friend does not stand idly by and supports a friend doing immoral things just because their friend feels wronged. Real love comes with other attributes. Real love looks at the total cost and the total benefit of a thing and measures it all against a backdrop of other principles. Real love is not blind support of anything that makes someone appear to feel better.

From the first day that churches, pastors and people that believe they operate from a position of goodwill began posting memes, making arguments, endeavoring to convince others and signaling their support for BLM and the protests (often ignoring the hateful words and violence) I have repeated over and over - this is all wrong.

Black Lives Matter as a concept is correct because all lives matter and we should seek justice. BLM as an organization is horrible. It is impossible to separate the broad concept from the organization and the hate and violence it engenders. People of goodwill and moral principles should have avoided this from the beginning.

There have been more murders beyond Cannon; many more. Some media outlets claim that 'crime has not increased', in an effort to gaslight those that see all of this in its true nature. Many are deceived by such claims, no matter how easily debunked they are.

BLM and the protests, burning, violence, riots, and mayhem have unleashed a general spirit of violence and lawlessness. This has manifested most in the cities and communities with a predominately black population. Those that support BLM had in effect subjected to many black Americans to more poverty, violence, and suffering.

This all has been and is immoral. It is wrong. Those that supported it from a position of  "goodwill" of a concept of Biblical Love that excluded all the other principles in the Bible have been and are wrong.

If this applies to you, you need to repent of your sin and search your soul to figure out what in your life made you so susceptible to a lie of the world.

Here is some truth for you.


 

I responded to a local news article the other day that claimed a minor public figure was among other things a racist. I commented that it was a terrible article and poor journalism because they made no effort to actually support the claim that the person in question was a racist, it was just stated as fact, they had said racist things.

One of the young reporters replied to me with an article from Politico. Politico stated they had 'hundreds of hours' of video with the individual making racist statements and provided a video as an example. In the provided video there were heterodox statements, things contrary to the established narrative but nothing racist.

I replied that the delivery was 'plain', but the points were no different that things Dr. Thomas Sowell has said for years. With that, the conversation turned. I too must be a racist, or a troll, or a parody account.

It is very dangerous that ideas are so easily tossed aside and those that question anything of the popular narrative are branded with a label, a scarlet letter, and dismissed.  These are troubling developments. This is not the same a labeling someone a 'radical progressive', 'liberal', 'right-winger', etc.   This is essentially the same as calling someone a pedophile, a social pariah. (It may, in fact, be worse, there are some that now claim out loud that pedophilia is a sexual orientation)

One of the most profound statements from the Granada TV documentary on the Spanish Civil War (I highly recommend it) was, 'when each side could no longer discuss ideas, violence was inevitable'.

If most of the institutions of society (most of the media, many churches, most of the educational establishment), and many of the unthinking masses are willing to carelessly label others with stigmatic labels that equals their voice and ideas unworthy of being heard - how do you believe this all turns out?

We need to return to civil discussion and an honest usage of the English language. Racism and racist language exists on both sides of the conversation today, but on the extremes. We need to apply the term precisely, otherwise real violence awaits us all.


 

  • Trump claims that mail-in voting will be an open opportunity for voter fraud.
  • Much of the media repeatedly conflates 'mail-in' voting (mass mailing out ballots) with absentee voting (registered voters actively requesting a ballot) in an effort to dismiss Trump's claim.
  • Many on the left claim without funding the USPS cannot handle mail-in voting and predict chaos.
  • Several news articles and snippets of remarks by Democratic leaders predict chaos and even hint they believe Trump will not concede.
  • The NYT reported an exercise during the Obama era where a sitting president refused to concede and a constitutional crisis ensued.
  • Marco Rubio tells us to expect election chaos.

It seems both the Democrats and Republicans completely agree. Are they foreshadowing what is to come? Is this all a singular plan, are they really working together, some claim that? Is it perhaps that both sides see the growing divide and understand what this means (I wrote that in 2018)? Are they perhaps just building a narrative for a future claim to legitimacy/illegitimacy? We cannot know. But it seems they agree that real chaos is coming. Nothing good comes from such chaos.

A New Civil War, an aggregator of news and opinion from both sides is a good place to keep up with opinions across the spectrum. When I wrote America’s Great Cultural and Political Divide in 2018 many mainstream articles on the subject at the same time dismissed the idea as preposterous, no longer is that the story.

You would be wise to get yourself and your family ready - and repent of your sins of omission and commission that helped in some way move us to this point.


 

Interference by Russia, China and others is real. Some of it is easy to detect, while other efforts are more subtle and perhaps more effective. Each side has their prefered enemy, may repeat the narratives, carelessly. We should be wise enough to see all of this for what it is, yet most do not.

The leaked release of police bodycam footage was something of a watershed moment for many. We now know why it was not released, or we can reasonably assume. It paints a very different picture than what was available only on the other angles of Floyd's arrest. I noticed thousands of people, folks that had argued passionately one way prior to the release of this evidence change their outlook. Some began to question why any of the subsequent violence occurred. Others pivoted away from ever mentioning Floyd and making all of this about something bigger (that is rather dishonest).

What is clear, is that none of these events, Micheal Brown, Floyd, and many others that have caused so much chaos were ever what they were portrayed as originally, and many people have come to see that as a reality now. The cases remain complex, but they are not clear-cut cases of racist cops gone wild, murdering innocent people. Honest people, folks of goodwill, willing to look at facts now know this.

ANTIFA and BLM have credibility and the narrative problem now. People wonder if burning, beating, violence, and mayhem were justified.

I will be the first 'not shocked' person when we see some major incident, perhaps even a mass killing, all made to look like (or at least reported as ) a white racist attack. The Boogaloo Bois are real, they are ready for the revolution, marching, and supporting ANTIFA and BLM and they already look like "white supremacists" - they are the perfect candidates to conduct such an operation.


 

I am not even convinced at this point the Democrats are running a serious campaign to win. If I were Joe Biden, I would keep my head down and watch those around me. Nothing would spell 'sympathy vote' more than a candidate being killed "by extremest on the other side". History is filled with that sort of stuff, 2020 is that odd.

Or, as some claim - is Trump just part of it all? He is getting things done the Democrats want that they could never do without many on the right taking to the streets. Think about it...I do not know.


 

China has checked off every action I predicted on 7 June, (those and more; I was probably wrong on the election but spot-on in terms of China and Belarus)

In the midst of election chaos, between November and January (probably late December, early January) I think it is highly likely that China will move decisively and quickly to take control of Taiwan. There is a scenario, that smart strategic planners have worked out, whereby China can accomplish just that in less than a week. It only requires a delayed and confused response from the US.

Such a move, successfully executed with minimal fighting and Taiwain capitulating early because of a delayed US response would fundamentally alter the East Asian balance of power.

Millions more will soon be subjected to the boot-heel of a genocidal regime because we in the US are too busy being absurd.


 

Finally - the entire alignment of many ancillary nations hangs in the balance right now. The proxy war Greece and Turkey have fought in Libya is more than two sides trying to fix something the US and NATO foolishly broke. The peace arrangement between Israel and the UAE has a significant meaning.

Will the Eastern Med/Middle-east, Caucus now realign based upon a new and more natural coalition or will unrelated wars prevail. Will all of this result in a comprehensive peace arrangement? (of later chapter Biblical proportions...)

All are possible. If the peace, initiative expands to the Balkans (Kosovo and Serbia) then Greece, Turkey, and resolves Syria and the Caucus (all interconnected) I will really be convinced we are in the end-times! If is is a geopolitical realignment, I will not b shocked.

I am inclined to think that spheres will simply realign. Russia has a common interest with many that we have a common interest with. We may come to view them differently in a new arrangement. Turkey and Pakistan and Qatar may be out, India in. Israel might be welcomed openly into a coalition with Saudia Arabia, UAE, and Syria. We may come to see Syria as a front in the battle against not ISIS but Iranian/Turkish and Chinese interest. The world could realign over this into the US versus China spheres based upon natural and historical affinities/animosities and the prevailing strategic goals of the primaries.

VP Pence China Speech

Hours after VP Pence spoke today about China, Foreign Policy published a piece that laying out five takeaways.[1]

“Linking Hong Kong and trade talks”

“Hong Kong is a living example of what can happen when China embraces liberty,” Pence said, before offering an unusual note of support for an official in an administration that has often been reluctant to embrace protest movements. “We are inspired by you,” he added. “Know that you have the prayers and the admiration of millions of Americans.”

Pence

“China is becoming a great cudgel in the culture wars”

“Some of the NBA’s biggest players and owners, who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country, lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of the people of China,” Pence said on Thursday. “In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime.”

Pence

“Settling the great ‘decoupling’ debate”

“People sometimes ask whether the Trump administration seeks to ‘decouple’ from China,” Pence said on Thursday. “The answer is a resounding ‘no.’”Rather than isolate Beijing, Pence said the United States seeks “engagement with China and China’s engagement with the wider world but engagement in a manner consistent with fairness, mutual respect, and the international rules of commerce.”

Pence

“Emphasizing the intellectual property theft debate”

“American enterprises continue to lose hundreds of billions of dollars each year in intellectual property theft.”

Pence

“The political meddling bugaboo”

“Beijing’s economic and strategic actions, its attempts to shape American public opinion, prove out what I said a year ago, and it’s just as true today: China wants a different American president.”

Pence

Obviously none of this is real news, it is really more of a slow reveal. The 2017 National Security Strategy mentioned China 33 times by name, twice as much as Obamas’s last version. [2] Trump’s NSS specifically called out China and identified mounting threats where Obama’s focused on engagement. Trump’s document, in short, called on all the domains of US power to compete and combat China in every area of importance. This was a nuanced but direct shift in US policy. VP Pence’s words today are merely part of a progressively elaborating articulation of this strategy.

Trump’s next NSS document is due out in 2020 and I suspect it will be less nuanced and more direct in relation to China.

If you are like me years ago you may not grasp the importance of the NSS document. I took public policy classes in college where it was discussed but I garnered it was merely another piece of government paperwork, perhaps more political than anything. It was really not until Command and General Staff College that I realized how important the document is. The moment it is released all the machinery of government stops, reads it, and shifts gears to operationalize the strategy. Every word, every sentence, the choice of words, all are important, nuanced and have great meaning. All the nations of the world read it too and plan and react accordingly. There is perhaps no piece of paper of greater importance released by a US president in the modern era. Before the 2017 document hit the streets parties internal and external to the government began lobbying for their version fo what the 2020 document should say.

For decades, U.S. policy was rooted in the belief that support for China’s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China. Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others. China gathers and exploits data on an unrivaled scale and spreads features of its authoritarian system, including corruption and the use of surveillance. It is building the most capable and well-funded military in the world, after our own. Its nuclear arsenal is growing and diversi ing. Part of China’s military modernization and economic expansion is due to its access to the U.S. innovation economy, including America’s world-class universities.

2017 US NSS

In early 2018 the DoD released its National Defense Strategy one of the dozens of such documents that follow the release of the NSS and implement the strategy within various domains.

In June 2019, the DoD established a separate office to focus exclusively on China.

“The inward part [is] to help us drive alignment on China across the department as we carry out our National Defense Strategy and its implementation. … A lot of that is to help us internally, with the Joint Staff and the services, to make their respective decisions”

Randall Schriver, the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs [3]

This is the only such office at the DoD level focused exclusively on one country. Trump absolutely meant what he said in his NSS that China is his focus.

Trump’s 2020 budget reflects his focus on China.

To a remarkable degree, the 2020 Pentagon budget proposal is shaped by national security threats that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has summarized in three words: “China, China, China.”

AP [4]

The South China Morning Post reports that the US conducted four separate training operations in August and September focused on China. [5]

  • A sealift exercise designed to move heavy Army divisions
  • Joint land-to-ship missle exercises with Japan
  • US-Asean naval exercise with 10 pacific nations, Four of which – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam – have territorial disputes with Beijing over the South China Sea.
  • Finally, US Marines conducted airfield- and island-seizure drills in the East and South China seas, near the Philippines and around the Japanese island of Okinawa

I have personally argued for years that we were spending blood and treasure in the wrong places and focusing on the wrong goals strategically. If I were to be a hawk, I am not, I would have been hawkish on China for years. Whether this course is right or wrong, and I believe it is certainly part of what we should refocus on, only time will tell.

_________________

  1. Foreign Policy, BY ELIAS GROLL | OCTOBER 24, 2019, 5:15 PM https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/10/24/mike-pence-hawkish-china-speech-hong-kong/
  2. US National Security Strategy, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf
  3. Defense News 1 OCT 2019, https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2019/10/01/the-pentagon-has-created-a-new-office-solely-focused-on-china-is-that-a-good-idea/
  4. PBS NewsHour Weekend, Nation Mar 16, 2019 1:19 PM EDT https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/new-us-military-budget-focused-on-china-despite-border-talk
  5. South China Morning Post, Published: 6:00pm, 21 Sep, 2019 https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3029774/growing-rivalry-between-china-and-us-plays-out-military-war

China: The Rising Dragon

Herein I will argue points that many know as facts but seldom are the implications of these facts, taken together holistically, discussed for their wider meaning. China is a great power, historically and currently, and it is increasing in economic, diplomatic and military strength at a rapid pace. China benefits from a centralized system of governance that seems to be exercising realpolitik on the global stage in a masterful way. The country benefits from a homogeneous population, and in the case where homogeneity does not exists, such as the Uyghurs, China is currently undertaking drastic and brutal steps to stamp out nonconformity. Furthermore, China leads the world in the application of the use of technology to suppress dissent and disagreement, both within its borders and abroad.

These facts combine to make China a deadly enemy to the West, western culture and the idea of liberal democracy. The threat does not manifest directly through military action, the application of economic and soft-power is proving perfectly suited to the expansionary goals at the moment. If and when direct military conflict becomes a reality with the West it will simply be too late for western democracies to oppose it.

Let me state upfront I am certainly not an advocate of the methods and style of China. I state that their advantage of a centralized government and extensive social controls is such only because the West has failed to actually adhere to the principles of good governance and culture that would otherwise decide this growing conflict long before it began. The West lost its way long ago. We have toyed with progressivism and socialism but have not perfected it the way China has, thus we have a defective hybrid system – not quite the City on the Hill and not quite a socialist dystopia. We have dismissed the homogeneity of culture enforced by the Chinese in favor of a sort of diversity that creates pockets of dissent and disagreement at all levels – we simply cannot agree enough to compete with a monolith. In essence, all of the great ideas of Western Civilization regarding good governance based upon first principles have been abandoned for an ineffective hybrid system.

Chinese history begins perhaps around 2070 BC. This is an important fact from an analysis of current geopolitics because that long history informs and shapes the narrative of the Chinese people, as crafted by the Chinese government. It provides context, lessons, pride and patience. Throughout the history of China there have been ebbs and flows in terms of power, in the last century great embarrassment; in prior centuries moments of great invention in the arts and sciences. This feeds a narrative that builds a sense of expectation. The Chinese know they are a great people with great potential and the government makes full use of this.

Lessons from the Ming Dynasty and the Treasure Fleet

Between 1405 and 1433 China dispatched seven great treasure fleets to ports throughout the Indian Ocean. This merchant navy was unrivaled in the world, no other nation could conceive of building ships of the size and complexity contained within these seven fleets. The largest of these ships had a displacement of about 1/2 of a modern US aircraft carrier. The mission of these fleets was essentially shock and awe, they did not need to go get trade, anyone and everyone came to China to trade. This was a statement of great power. In 1433 the Ming Dynasty suddenly stopped sending the fleets and either burned the ships or allowed them to rot in harbor.

China then vastly expanded the Great Wall, passed laws to forbid further foreign trade via the sea and entered an internal period for almost 500 years. During this period China culturally became the China we recognize, Han, and it was still powerful. However, relative to the West, that power, in terms of technology wained. By the late 1800’s European powers were threatening China on the mainland. By the 1900’s the Chinese were being humiliated at home.

Two lessons derive from this.

First, from a Chinese perspective, the notion that soft-power must be pushed forward, throughout the world is important. No matter how many internal resources, no matter what program of internal improvements China must control or influence centers of power else it will be dominated again.

Perhaps a lesson Americans should take from this is similar. Building walls and disengaging will have long term consequences. Perhaps America needs a long period like the Chinese Qing Dynasty to get culture right. These are questions for another discussion. However, Chinese retraction in 1433 certainly had long-term, positive and negative consequences for the Chinese. (Building walls may be important to maintain order and respect the rule of law, the lesson to be taken is perhaps not against physical walls but rather against isolationism.)

The Way Ahead

I do not intend to overburden my arguments with the inclusion of multiple data points related to the Chinese economy. I would refer you to this Congressional Research Service report from Morch 2019. I would note that the numbers are grim but the assessment less grim, although not bright. The report writers see challenges for China in terms of local debt, I predict the centralized system and expanding economy will easily overcome these.

Areas of Chinese Advantage

The Road and Belt Initiative will continue to give China inroads and access to trade and resources throughout central Asia.

BRICs, the accumulation of physical gold and US dollars will threaten the current economic system and set the stage for a new one.

Industrial espionage, state-sponsored, will close the remaining technological gaps.

Parity and potential advantages in the Cyber domain will threaten to destabilize economies and societies.

Growing Chinese power and influence will – without a doubt – alter the nature of free speech, rights and the flow of information. This is already occurring and will only increase. China will rule, by default, areas of our life without ever firing a shot.

Lastly, the Chinese seem to have mastered two concepts that bode poorly for the ordinary man; state-supported capitalism and a strong central government. They have taken what was good of the Soviet Union and dispensed with the bad and taken from the West the engine that makes an economy grow while avoiding any of the political philosophies that might protect the citizen. If their model works, if their system wins, 1984 is conceivably within the future of mankind.

Addendum (other points to consider):

Some experts assess current Chinese cyber capabilities as lagging compared to the West and the US, I suspect this is true only by a slight margin. (read “What Are China’s Cyber Capabilities and Intentions?” for an overview of the standard assessment.)

Two considerations are particularly worrying.

First, China’s stated strategic goals coupled with a marshaling of state resources to achieve that goal will close the current gap quickly.

Second, and more worrying. China will likely develop quantum computing first. Quantum computing will change everything. The playing field that exists prior to the first quantum computer going online will simply not matter. The first nation to develop this technology wins. Developing one second or third may actually not matter so much – as soon as a quantum computer comes online all secrets, industrial, military and others are vulnerable.