Category Archives: Geopolitics

Italy and Salvini Face Real Crisis Now, by Tom Luongo

Italian politics would be a tempest in a teapot except Italy is a significant part of the EU, it has a lot of debt, and its banking system is a mess. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

With the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte the future of Italy is now up in the air. There are many things that come into play with Conte resigning before the No-Confidence vote tabled by Lega Leader Matteo Salvini could take place.

The euro popped 40 pips, back above support at $1.11 on the news. The forex markets realize this was a Brussels-friendly move.

Conte didn’t want to chance getting voted out of office. That makes it difficult for President Sergei Mattarella to call for a new government without snap elections. The Italian Senate would have formally rebuked Mattarella’s compromise pick for Prime Minister, Conte.

Conte was there to effectively keep the children in line – Euroskeptics Lega and Five Star Movement (M5S). So, Conte used his time to take the bully pulpit and excoriate Salvini for twenty minutes. This gives the U.S. and European media plenty of chum to make their case against Salvini.

You will hear a lot about how non-partisan Conte did this for the sake of Italy to stop the mad, selfish and unprofessional Salvini from taking power.

It’s good political theater but it’s as disingenuous as the day is long and very much the truth. No one in power in Brussels wants what Salvini is selling. Not many in Rome do either.

Because had he not resigned Mattarella could have faced impeachment for not going to elections. He only relented to let M5S and Lega take power under that threat last year.

So Conte has set the stage for Mattarella to take charge again. They will put the veneer of legitimacy on this process to protect Italy from Salvini. In reality, the only people they are protecting are in Brussels.

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The Deeper Meaning in a Lost War, by Alastair Crooke

Saudi Arabia’s inability to defeat tiny, poor Yemen blows a gaping hole in President Trump and Netanyahu’s Middle East strategy. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

It’s pretty clear. Saudi Arabia has lost, and, notes Bruce Riedel, “the Houthis and Iran are the strategic winners”. Saudi proxies in Aden – the seat of Riyadh’s Yemeni proto-‘government’ – have been turfed out by secular, former Marxist, southern secessionists. What can Saudi Arabia do? It cannot go forward. Even tougher would be retreat. Saudi will have to contend with an Houthi war being waged inside the kingdom’s south; and a second – quite different – war in Yemen’s south. MbS is stuck. The Houthi military leadership are on a roll, and disinterested – for now – in a political settlement. They wish to accumulate more ‘cards’. The UAE, which armed and trained the southern secessionists has opted out. MbS is alone, ‘carrying the can’. It will be messy.

So, what is the meaning in this? It is that MbS cannot ‘deliver’ what Trump and Kushner needed, and demanded from him: He cannot any more deliver the Gulf ‘world’ for their grand projects – let alone garner together the collective Sunni ‘world’ to enlist in a confrontation with Iran, or for hustling the Palestinians into abject subordination, posing as ‘solution’.

What happened? It seems that MbZ must have bought into the Mossad ‘line’ that Iran was a ‘doddle’. Under pressure of global sanctions, Iran would quickly crumble, and would beg for negotiations with Trump. And that the resultant, punishing treaty would see the dismantling of all of Iran’s troublesome allies around the region. The Gulf thus would be free to continue shaping a Middle East free from democracy, reformers and (those detested) Islamists.

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When, If Ever, Can We Lay This Burden Down? by Patrick J. Buchanan

The US should quit playing global cop, not just for the sake of the globe, but for its own survival. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

Friday, President Donald Trump met in New Jersey with his national security advisers and envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is negotiating with the Taliban to bring about peace, and a U.S. withdrawal from America’s longest war.

U.S. troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, in a war that has cost 2,400 American lives.

Following the meeting, Trump tweeted, “Many on the opposite sides of this 19 year war, and us, are looking to make a deal — if possible!”

Some, however, want no deal; they are fighting for absolute power.

Saturday, a wedding in Kabul with a thousand guests was hit by a suicide bomber who, igniting his vest, massacred 63 people and wounded 200 in one of the greatest atrocities of the war. ISIS claimed responsibility.

Monday, 10 bombs exploded in restaurants and public squares in the eastern city of Jalalabad, wounding 66.

Trump is pressing Khalilzad to negotiate drawdowns of U.S. troop levels from the present 14,000, and to bring about a near-term end to U.S. involvement in a war that began after we overthrew the old Taliban regime for giving sanctuary to Osama bin Laden.

Is it too soon to ask: What have we gained from our longest war? Was all the blood and treasure invested worth it? And what does the future hold?

If the Taliban could not be defeated by an Afghan army, built up by the U.S. for a decade and backed by 100,000 U.S. troops in 2010-2011, then are the Taliban likely to give up the struggle when the U.S. is drawing down the last 14,000 troops and heading home?

The Taliban control more of the country than they have at any time since being overthrown in 2001. And time now seems to be on their side.

Why have they persevered, and prevailed in parts of the country?

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The “Trade War” Is Over, Trump Just Doesn’t Realize It Yet. By Lance Roberts

It’s hard to beat an opponent who’s playing the long game when your time horizon is next year’s election. From Lance Roberts at realinvestmentadvice.com:

On Tuesday, the markets bid higher following a statement from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office that tariffs will commence on September 1st, but that some products will be delayed until December 15th. To wit:

“…some tariffs will take effect on Sept. 1 as planned, ‘certain products are being removed from the tariff list based on health, safety, national security and other factors and will not face additional tariffs of 10 percent. Further, as part of USTR’s public comment and hearing process, it was determined that the tariff should be delayed to December 15 for certain articles.”

The only part the algos heard was “tariffs delayed,” which sent them into stock panic buying mode.

However, stocks crashed again on Wednesday as the yield curve inverted, sending “recession fears”through the markets.

Of course, since President Trump has pegged the success of his Presidency on the rise and fall of the markets, on Wednesday, as “tweets” about a “trade talks continuing” failed to lift the markets, he resorted to more direct measures to manipulate the markets: Via CNBC:

“Trump held the call with J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan and Citigroup’s Michael Corbat, according to people with knowledge of the situation.”

This, of course, was reminiscent of the call made by Steve Mnuchin, U.S. Treasury Secretary, during the market rout last December. But most importantly, this is about the upcoming election:

“Trump has been reaching out to corporate leaders this week amid his concerns that a slowing U.S. economy could impact his reelection chances, according to a Thursday piece from the Washington Post.”

Hopefully, he will listen to them.

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Dirty little wars and the law: Did Osama bin Laden win? By David M. Crane

If Osama bin Laden was trying to cast the US as an illegal, imperialist power, he did a pretty good job. From David M. Crane at thehill.com:

“Common Article 3 [of the Geneva Conventions] … says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It’s very vague. What does that mean, ‘outrages upon human dignity’?” — George W. Bush

The past week marked the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. This laudable treaty, signed by every country, codified centuries of custom, treaties and protocols to protect individuals found on the battlefield. There are four articles to the Geneva Conventions protecting the wounded and sick, prisoners of war and civilians. This is an attempt to bring law and order onto the battlefield. These conventions are part of a larger set of treaties, protocols and rules called international humanitarian law, or the “laws of armed conflict.”

The Geneva Conventions were part of a promising four years after World War II that attempted to prevent the horrors of future conflict. The Nuremberg Principles were adopted, the United Nations Charter was signed, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Convention were created. These became the cornerstones to settle disputes peacefully and use force only as a last resort. The focus was on international peace and security.

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The Geopolitical Consequences of a Coming Recession, by Antonius Aquinas

A recession in the near future would doom Trump’s reelection chances. From Antonius Aquinas at antoniusaquinas.com:

With the recent ominous inversion of the 2-10 year yield curve and its near infallible predictive recessionary power, the consequences for the economy are plain to see, however, what has not been spoken of by pundits will be the effect of a recession on US foreign policy.  If a recession comes about prior to November 2020, or if economic indicators such as GDP plummet even further, the chances of a Trump re-election is extremely problematic even if the Democrats nominate a socialist nut case such as Bernie Sanders or Pocahontas.

Elizabeth Warren has been the most vocal about coming economic troubles:

Warning lights are flashing.  Whether it is this year or next year, odds of another economic downturn are high – and growing. . . .

 

When I look at the economy today, I see a lot to worry about again.  I see a manufacturing sector in recession.  I see a precarious economy built on debt – both household debt and corporate debt and that is vulnerable to shocks.  And I see a number of serious shocks on the horizon that could cause our economy’s shaky foundation to crumble.*

Warren

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Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen, by Moon of Alabama

The Saudi war on Yemen is only over if somebody in the Saudi leadership, notably Mohammad bin Salman, has half a brain. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:

Today Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen. It has no defenses against new weapons the Houthis in Yemen acquired. These weapons threaten the Saudis economic lifelines. This today was the decisive attack:

Drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside Saudi Arabia’s sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a “limited fire” in the second such recent attack on its crucial energy industry.

The Saudi acknowledgement of the attack came hours after Yahia Sarie, a military spokesman for the Houthis, issued a video statement claiming the rebels launched 10 bomb-laden drones targeting the field in their “biggest-ever” operation. He threatened more attacks would be coming.

New drones and missiles displayed in July 2019 by Yemen’s Houthi-allied armed forces
Today’s attack is a check mate move against the Saudis. Shaybah is some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory. There are many more important economic targets within that range:

The field’s distance from rebel-held territory in Yemen demonstrates the range of the Houthis’ drones. U.N. investigators say the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone, found in recent months during the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 1,500 kilometers (930 miles). That puts Saudi oil fields, an under-construction Emirati nuclear power plant and Dubai’s busy international airport within their range.Unlike sophisticated drones that use satellites to allow pilots to remotely fly them, analysts believe Houthi drones are likely programmed to strike a specific latitude and longitude and cannot be controlled once out of radio range. The Houthis have used drones, which can be difficult to track by radar, to attack Saudi Patriot missile batteries, as well as enemy troops.

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