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Donald Trump’s conservative anti-war pedigree

Donald Trump’s anti-war position is part of a long conservative anti-war tradition in the US extending back through Ron Paul to Robert Taft in the 1950s and beyond.

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Recently, I saw a lovely work by one of my favourite artists, Alexander Calder, called ‘McGovern for President’.

The art was created in support of George McGovern’s 1972 US Presidential bid, one which ultimately failed against the political machine of Richard Nixon, a highly intelligent yet ethically flawed man.

It is important because there are some strange similarities to the 2016 campaign. 

By 1972, the American protest movement had much of the wind knocked out of its sails. The Vietnam war continued to rage and the question became not ‘would America win’ but ‘how badly would America lose’.

McGovern was a long time anti-war campaigner and his anti-war presidential bid split his party. A group called ‘Democrats for Nixon’ formed who were distressed by their candidate’s anti-establishment message. The 1972 election was the last time a genuinely anti-war candidate got past the primary phase – that is until the election of 2016.

I have grown rather exacerbated by those on both the anti-war left and the right who acknowledge that Hillary Clinton would be the worst President in American history, but say of Trump ‘he’s the lesser of two evils’.

The situation is far more subtle and interesting than that, and a quick look at modern US Presidential elections makes this abundantly clear.

In an age when the military-industrial complex has become the tail wagging the eager political dogs, the fact that even a remotely anti-war candidate could slip past the primary phase of an election is remarkable in and of itself.

During the previous election Ron Paul also attempted to stand as an anti-war Republican, but was successfully sabotaged from the start by a war hungry Republican Party.  Yet Donald Trump has been able to exercise political independence due to his high public profile and his personal wealth. He has thus far outlived the political lives of his critics, and may very well win the election.

Just as McGovern split his party in 1972 over his anti-war stance, so too has Trump. But if one wants to find a closer anti-war analogue to Trump, one has to go back slightly further, to the election of 1952.

The 1952 election was the last one of the three formal attempts made by Senator Robert Taft to secure the presidential nomination of the Republican party. Each time he lost to a pro-war candidate.

Taft had a solid and consistent anti-war record. He opposed US involvement in every war America fought during his time in office.

Crucially Taft became a prominent voice opposing the creation and later existence NATO, the Korean War, and the anti-Soviet provocations in Europe.

Taft saw military might as a means to defend one’s own country against an aggressor, not as a means of empire building or as a way of spreading an ideology.

His views had a great popularity in parts of the country, but ultimately he made enemies of the mainstream politicians in both parties and in the media.

Retrospectively, many amongst the US intellectual elite praise Adlai Stevenson, General Eisenhower’s Democratic challenger in both of his elections, as being the ‘voice of reason’ in the first full decade of the Cold War.

But Stevenson was simply arguing for a ‘kinder gentler’ cold war. Taft said that there should be no Cold War at all, and he opposed all of the instruments and institutions of Cold War set up by both the Democrat Truman and the Republican Eisenhower.

Many also look back with undue fondness on Eisenhower, who after overseeing the establishment of the military-industrial complex proceeded to warn Americans against it upon his leaving office.

Taft opposed the creation of the military complex from day one. The credit ought to be his. 

Where in 1972 McGovern was the ideologically anti-war candidate of the left, Taft opposed war and military expansion from a deeply conservative perspective. In this he is very much like Trump.

A true definition of conservatism means supporting stability and tradition at home, non-intervention abroad, and a robust defence in the event of a threat of military aggression from a foreign power.

In this sense Trump and Taft are part of a US conservative tradition that has been relentlessly attacked over 60 years of interventionism and hawkishness.

Like Trump Taft was often able to silence his enemies due to his political pedigree. He was the son of William Howard Taft, a former US President and Supreme Court Chief Justice. Had Taft not been born of such a pedigree he might well have been shut up and shut out.

Trump has been able to stand his ground because his personality has been well known for decades before his challenge for political office. His wealth has assured him financial independence from the so-called special interests who  control Hillary Clinton’s campaign more securely than a puppeteer controls a Punch and Judy show.

America has changed a lot since Taft’s last attempt to secure his party’s nomination in 1952. It has also changed a great deal since 1972. In 1972, singer Barbara Streisand actively campaigned for McGovern’s anti-war campaign. In 2016 she is campaigning for the biggest war hawk in US presidential election history, Hillary Clinton. In 1972, fine artists like Calder contributed to McGovern’s anti-war effort. Where are such people when it comes to supporting Trump?

Donald Trump is the candidate of peace through strength whilst Hillary Clinton is the candidate of war through chaos and lies.

It is not a matter of the lesser of two evils. The choice is clear.

If you salivate at the thought of war, Hillary Clinton is a highly capable candidate.

If you yearn for real peace and a genuine anti-war candidate, Donald Trump is the best thing America has produced since at least 1972. 

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EU and Japan ink free trade deal representing over 30% of global GDP

The free trade agreement represents a victory for free trade in the face of growing protectionism

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In a bid to preserve free trade and strengthen their trade partnership, the European Union and Japan have finished a free trade zone agreement that has been sitting in the pipeline for years.

The present global economic outlook provided the needed spur to action to get the ball rolling again and now it has finally reached the end zone and scored another point for free and open trade against the growing influence of protectionism, which has been creeping up with alarming rapidity and far reaching consequences in recent months.

Under the deal, Japan will scrap tariffs on some 94% of goods imported from Europe and the EU in turn is canning 99% of tariffs on Japanese goods.

Between the European Union and Japan, the trade deal impacts about 37% of the world’s GDP, making it one of the largest and impactful of such agreements.

The Japan Times reports:

Top European Union leaders and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed an economic partnership agreement Tuesday in Tokyo, a pact that will create a massive free trade zone accounting for 37 percent of the world’s trade by value.

European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hastily arranged their visit to Tokyo after Abe was forced to abruptly cancel plans to attend a July 11 signing ceremony in Brussels in the aftermath of flooding and mudslides in western Japan.

Japanese officials said the signing is particularly important to counter intensifying protectionism worldwide triggered by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Negotiations on the pact between Japan and the EU, which started in 2013, had stagnated for a time but regained momentum after Trump took office in January 2017.

“We are sending a clear message that we stand together against protectionism,” Tusk said at a joint news conference with Abe after they signed the agreement.

“The relationship between the EU and Japan has never been stronger. Geographically we are far apart, but politically and economically we could be hardly any closer,” Tusk said. “I’m proud today we are taking our strategic partnership to a new level.”

Tusk stressed that the EU and Japan are partners sharing the same basic values, such as liberal democracy, human rights and rule-based order.

Abe also emphasized the importance of free and fair trade.

“Right now, concerns are rising over protectionism all around the world. We are sending out a message emphasizing the importance of a trade system based on free and fair rules,” he said.

The pact will create a free trade bloc accounting for roughly 30 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. Japan and the EU hope to have the agreement, which still needs to be ratified by both parties, come into force by March.

Under the EPA, tariffs on about 99 percent of Japan’s exported goods to the EU will eventually be eliminated, while duties on 94 percent of EU’s exported items to Japan will be abolished, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The EPA will eliminate duties of 10 percent on Japan’s auto exports to the EU seven years after the pact takes effect. The current 15 percent duties on wine imports from the EU will be eliminated immediately, while those on cheese, pork and beef will be sharply cut.

In total, the EPA will push up domestic GDP by 1 percent, or ¥5 trillion a year, and create 290,000 new jobs nationwide, according to the government.

“The world is now facing raging waves of protectionism. So the signing ceremony at this time is particularly meaningful,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said earlier this month on condition of anonymity.

“The impact for Japan is big,” the official said.

Fukunari Kimura, an economics professor at Keio University, said the EU is now trying to accelerate the ratification process.

“This is a repercussion of President Trump’s policies. They will try to ratify it before Brexit in March of next year,” he said in an interview with The Japan Times last week.

But the deal has raised concerns among some domestic farmers, in particular those from Hokkaido, the country’s major dairy producer.

According to an estimate by the Hokkaido Prefectural Government, the EPA will cut national production in the agriculture, fishery and forestry industries by up to ¥114.3 billion a year, with Hokkaido accounting for 34 percent of the predicted losses.

“The sustainable development of the prefecture’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries is our top priority. We need to make efforts to raise our international competitiveness,” Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi said during a news conference July 10.

Japan and the EU had reached a basic agreement on the EPA in December.

Tokyo also led negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in January 2017.

In March, 11 countries including Japan signed the so-called TPP11, or a revised TPP pact that does not include the U.S.

“The Japan-EU EPA is another important step for Japan to strengthen its trade relationship with key trading partners, and demonstrate that trade liberalization is alive and well, even if the United States is taking a different stance,” wrote Wendy Cutler, a former acting deputy U.S. Trade Representative, in an email sent to The Japan Times last week.

“The EU deal also reduces Japanese dependence on the U.S. market and thus increases its leverage to resist unreasonable trade demands by the United States,” she wrote.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the EU, which accounts for 22 percent of the world’s GDP, was the destination for 11.4 percent of Japanese exports in 2016. In the same year, the figure for the U.S. was 20.2 percent and 17.7 percent for China.

In 2016, Japan’s exports to the EU totaled ¥8 trillion, while reciprocal trade was ¥8.2 trillion.

The deal provides tariff relief for both parties and can improve the quantity of trade between them, expand the economy and create many jobs. It also helps to further diversify their trade portfolios in order to mitigate the prospect of a single global trade partner wielding too much influence, which in turn provides a certain amount of cover from any adverse actions or demands from a single actor. In this way, current trade dependencies can be reduced and free and diversified trade is further bolstered.

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The man behind Ukraine coup is now turning Greece against Russia (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 57.

Alex Christoforou

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On July 11, Greece said it would expel two Russian diplomats and barred the entry of two others.

The Duran reported that the formal reason is alleged meddling in an attempt to foment opposition to the “historic” name deal between Athens and Skopje paving the way for Macedonia’s NATO membership. Moscow said it would respond in kind.

Nothing like this ever happened before. The relations between the two countries have traditionally been warm. This year Moscow and Athens mark the 190th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 25th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Hellenic Republic. They have signed over 50 treaties and agreements.

Greek news daily, Kathimerini says the relationship started to gradually worsen behind the scenes about a couple of years ago. What happened back then? Geoffrey Pyatt assumed office as US Ambassador to Greece. Before the assignment he had served as ambassador to Ukraine in 2013-2016 at the time of Euromaidan – the events the US took active part in. He almost openly contributed into the Russia-Ukraine rift. Now it’s the turn of Greece. The ambassador has already warned Athens about the “malign influence of Russia”. He remains true to himself.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris connect the dots between the Ukraine coup and Greece’s recent row with Russia, and the man who is in the middle of it all, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.

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Via Sputnik News

Actions similar to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Greece do not remain without consequences, said spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova.

“We have an understanding that the people of Greece should communicate with their Russian partners, and not suffer from dirty provocations, into which, unfortunately, Athens was dragged,” Zakharova said at a briefing.

“Unfortunately, of course, we are talking about politics. Such things do not remain without consequences, do not disappear without a trace. Of course, unfortunately, all this darkens bilateral relations, without introducing any constructive principle,” she added.

On July 11, the Greek Kathimerini newspaper reported that Athens had decided to expel two Russian diplomats and ban two more from entering the country over illegal actions that threatened the country’s national security. The publication claimed that the diplomats attempted to intervene in a domestic issue, namely the changing of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to the Republic of North Macedonia, the agreement for which was brokered by Skopje and Athens last month.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has vowed to give a mirror response to Greece’s move.

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Russia just DUMPED $80 billion in US debt

The US Treasury published a report naming those countries that are the largest holders of US bonds. The list includes 33 countries, and for the first time Russia is no longer in it.

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Russia has stopped “inching towards de-dollarization” as I wrote about on July 3rd, and has now energetically walked out of the list of largest holders of US government bonds, hence this update. For the two months ending in May 2018, Moscow has offloaded more than $80 billion in US Government debt obligations.

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The $30 billion “minimum” listing Rubicon has been crossed by Russia.

As of the end of May, Russia had bonds worth only $ 14.9 billion. For comparison: in April, Russia was on the Treasury list with bonds totaling $48.7 billion. Even then it was offloading US$ debt securities as Russia owned in March over $96 billion. At the end of 2017, Russia had US treasury securities worth $102.2 billion. It is anyones guess what Russia will own when the June and July figures are released in August and September – probably less than today.

This simply serves as a confirmation that Russia is steadfastly following a conservative policy of risk diversification in several areas such as financial, economic, and geopolitical. The US public debt and spend is increasingly viewed as a heightened risk area, deserving sober assessment.

So where have all the dollars gone? The total reserves of the Russian Central Bank have not changed and remain at approximately the equivalent of $ 457 billion, so what we are seeing is a shift of assets to other central banks, other asset classes, just not US$ government bonds.

During the same time (April-May) as this US$ shift happened, the Russian Central Bank bought more than 1 million troy ounces of gold in 60 days, and continues.

For comparison sake, the maximum Russia investment in US public debt was in October 2010 totaling $176.3 billion. Today it is $14.9 billion.

The largest holders of US government bonds as of May are China ($ 1,183.1 billion), Japan ($ 1048.8 billion), Ireland ($ 301 billion), Brazil ($ 299.2 billion), Great Britain ($ 265 billion).

Using the similar conservative metrics that the Russian Central Bank has been rather successfully applying through this geopolitically and economically challenging period with the US and the US Dollar, it may not stretch the imagination too much that other countries such as China may eventually follow suit. Who will finance the debt/spend then?

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