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There's a big to-do about an investigative thing by Australia's Four Corners/Fairfax Media concerning Chinese influence in Australia. ASIO investigation targets Communist Party links to Australian political system ASIO is the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, which curated the dossiers that Four Corners/Fairfax assiduously summarized and spun. I think the series is highly significant, perhaps not... Read More
The best works of art strike you the wrong way…and maybe not in the way that the artist intended. I had that feeling reading Douglas Preston’s Lost City of the Monkey God(hereinafter LCMG). LCMG is a purpose-built celebration of archaeology, technology, and adventure in the detection and partial exploration of some ruins in the jungle... Read More
Readers of China Matters may have noticed there hasn’t been too much to read lately. That’s because since the beginning of the year I’ve been doing a weekly video reports for Newsbud, an online indy media outfit run by Sibel Edmonds. It started with China Watch, a weekly newsprogram that covers key China-related international affairs.... Read More
How do you sell elite rule to a 99% electorate? Well, don’t run somebody like Hillary Clinton, a lackluster campaigner with more 1% baggage than the Louis Vuitton stock room. There aren’t many politicians who can look you in the eye and say “I work for the bankers…but I care about you” and get away... Read More
I expect the PRC government has a team of spooks and doctors whose main job is to monitor the Dalai Lama’s public appearances for indications concerning his health. The Dalai Lama’s April 8 visit to Tawang probably gave them something to chew on, because he didn’t look that good to me. He was mentally acute... Read More
I try to keep a certain distance from the anti-Trump circus. But I do want to put some thoughts on record, given the obsession with Trump’s Russia connection and what I see is a determined effort to minimize the British/NATO angle in the attack on Trump. My personal feeling is that there are significant swaths... Read More
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Here are embeds to my two most recent videos for Newsbud. They pair together nicely as they track the evolving stories on Pakistan/Afghanistan and North Korea. Trump may be sucking all the oxygen out of the mediasphere, but the usual suspects are still out there conducting the usual business of murder and mayhem. The most... Read More
My latest Newsbud video looks at signals from Secretary of Defense Mattis' trip to Asia and what it means for the South China Sea, East China Sea, and North Korea flashpoints. For now, Trump Asia policy looks pretty mainstream.One point I make in the piece is that Trump isn't necessarily eschewing bloody American military mischief;... Read More
Afghanistan, as a crossroads of empire and a key stage in the Silk Road, is dotted with important archaeological sites that go back 5000 years and can provide insights into the evolution of civilizations across Asia and, in fact, civilization itself. Most of these sites are beyond the reach of the Afghan government’s woefully underfunded... Read More
Over the last month, I’ve been busy making videos for Newsbud, the indie news outfit run by Sibel Edmonds. Don’t be a free media leech! Go to newsbud.com, view my stuff, retweet it, and pay a few bucks and become a member! My most recent Newsbud video keyed off the CCTV New Year’s Gala to... Read More
I’m doing some video and text work for Sibel Edmond’s Newsbud. Visit the site and support them. Please! And read my article about the TPP and NAFTA! The TPP Is Now Deader Than Ever Thanks to Trump. Double please! Recommend it to your friends! We’re now in the “Murrow moment” phase of liberal journalism i.e.... Read More
If by fascist, you mean “adherent of a movement determined to seize state power with the help of violence committed by a disciplined and armed auxiliary, if necessary, to reorder society to achieve extra-constitutional, self-defined racial or ethnic objectives embodied by a charismatic leader”, that is. Narendra Modi and his BJP party, in my reading,... Read More
Kompromat--the term for the acquistion and exploitation of compromising material, often of an embarrassing sexual nature--is very much in the news today, thanks to the allegation that Russian security services have dirt on Donald Trump and are blackmailing him to follow Kremlin policies. On Martin Luther King Day, we can remember a great American--and one... Read More
It's now publicly accepted that the CIA, factions in the CIA, whatever, object to Trump and are making life difficult for him. The interesting question is, is President Obama just a passenger on the runaway Deep State train, thoughtlessly rattling through his hollow valedictories, or is he the conductor? or the engineer? I was struck... Read More
Thanks to all who contributed, retweeted, shared, and cared during the crowdfunded campaign to pay up HSBC whistleblower Nicholas Wilson's arrears and fees on his home mortgage.The campaign was a rousing success and provides Mr. Wilson some peace of mind and a few months' respite.Thank you again and best wishes to readers of China Matters... Read More
In the course of researching an article on five HSBC whistleblowers for CounterPunch magazine, I got to know one of them, Nicholas Wilson from the UK. Wilson, a lawyer, exposed a sleazy bit of business in which HSBC’s personal finance unit loaded its debt recovery with millions in improper fees. He lost his job while... Read More
Donald Trump has made China hot takes a busy and profitable enterprise. Thanks to his tweetings on Taiwan and other matters, I've put up a clutch of essays on Asia Times: November 23, 2016: Atlas Stumbled explores implications of a transactional Trump diplomacy for the tottering US pivot and its promise that China would fall... Read More
A lot of government/media misdirection going on concerning Afghanistan. I read the tea leaves over at Asia Times in a piece on Ashraf Ghani’s public lovefest with Nadendra Modi at the “Heart of Asia” conference. Pakistan and China were there, but got precious little “heart”. The piece is titled “The hole at the Heart of... Read More
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In my opinion, all political campaigns are identity based. Shaking the money tree to the tune of $1 billion + it now takes to run a national campaign demands access to big money, deference to capital, and a willingness to promote political loyalties on the basis of identity, not class. George Soros is not going... Read More
I have a piece up at Asia Times on Donald Trump’s North Korea options: waste it, sanction it (and China), or have a burger with Kim Jong Un: Trump, North Korea, bombs, and burgers. “Kinda crippling sanctions” got another workout at the UN on November 30, highlighting a point I made in the piece that... Read More
I don’t share the US FP handwringing over Trump’s retreat from overarching multilateral initiatives in favor of bilateral engagements in Asia. The point of the complex multi-lateral arrangements—the pivot, rebalance, whatever you want to call it, and TPP—were intended to position the United States as the “indispensable nation” in Asia, the glue that was needed... Read More
At a concert in California, Kanye West told the crowd that "he hadn't voted...but if he had he would have voted for Trump." West is a media provocateur and his utterances are primarily a useful indicator of what is most likely to push people's buttons. But he's not the only outlier. The anti-Trump forces have... Read More
In my opinion, the most revealing American political event in the last decade was the Democratic Party’s embrace of Hamilton, Not Just The Musical, and in the process doing a 180 away from Jeffersonian populism. Hamilton: An American Musical 's identity as a liberal touchstone in these troubled times was affirmed when the audience boo’d... Read More
Understandably, a lot of the coverage analyzing the impact of Trump on Japan has emphasized the negative: Trump is a trade-war guy, he wants Japan to pay more for bases, he’d be happy to stand aside as Japan slugged it out in some military encounter with North Korea, he’s pulled the plug on TPP… Quite... Read More
I have not one but two! posts up at Asia Times on the Trump shock. Hillary is Gone; Will the Pivot Live On? The US Pivot to Asia: Death by Trump In my opinion, the pivot was always an auto-da-fé, an act of faith: a cumbersome, expensive, difficult, and onerous strategy that ran counter to... Read More
Is Japan the America’s Pit Bull or Lap Dog… …or Dog in the Manger?
As I discuss in my most recent piece for Asia Times, Duterte v. United States: The Empire Slaps Back, I find the US tunnel vision concerning Asian attitudes toward engagement with China puzzling. The big story in Asia IMO is the smaller powers trying to integrate with the PRC economically while keeping it at arms’... Read More
There’s playing with fire and there’s dousing yourself with gasoline and jumping into a flaming pit. I do the latter in a piece for SCMP’s This Week in Asiamagazine, The British Forgery at the Heart of India and China's Tibetan Border Dispute. My proposed title, Uncle Sam Plays the Great Game in Arunachal Pradesh,didn't make... Read More
I’ve written a couple pieces of the smoking hot issue in Pivotland, Philippine president Duterte’s swerve toward a pro-PRC foreign policy, and what the U.S. and pro-American sector of the Manila elite are going to do about it. The first piece, Reports of death of US-Philippine alliance may be exaggerated, addresses the fact that Duterte’s... Read More
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…But It’s Really Racism
I find the spectacle of liberals heroically mounting the barricades against Trump-fascism rather amusing. For one thing, liberals don’t crush fascism. Liberals appease fascism, then they exploit fascism. In between there’s a great big war, where communists crush fascism. That’s pretty much the lesson of WWII. Second thing is, Trump isn’t fascist. In my opinion,... Read More
 Lt Gen Niazi signing the 1971 Instrument of Surrender under the gaze of Lt Gen Aurora. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
My current piece at Asia Times, Balochistan Is Not Bangladesh, looks at the 1971 establishment of Bangladesh in context of Balochi independence advocates’ imploring Modi to do Balochistan a solid like Indira Gandhi did for East Pakistan. Here’s a video of an independence advocate ringing the bell on Indian TV: Long story short, there aren’t... Read More
India-Pakistan relations look to be interesting in the next few years, especially if by “interesting” one means “potential for regional conflagration with toasty global elements”. If the PRC continues its rise at its current trajectory and under its current management, chances are that by 2050 the United States will be facing a China that is... Read More
I consider North Korea to be America’s stalking horse for its China strategy. If I’m right, things aren’t looking too good. I have a piece up at Asia Times, Will We Have to Nuke Asia in Order to Save It? It reviews the recent excitement over the fifth North Korean nuclear test and addresses the... Read More
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Awkwardly, apparently. Awkward facts surrounding Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's awkward estrangement from the United States seem to produce some awkward reporting. I have a piece up at Asia Times about “Sonofawhore-gate” i.e. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s alleged insult delivered to President Obama that got the Duterte-Obama confab in Laos canceled, and was breathlessly reported in... Read More
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Hillary Clinton affirmed “American exceptionalism” in a speech to the American Legion in Cincinnati on August 31. Her speech was another episode in the chronicle of Clintonian triangulation: the continual search for positions that co-opt and neutralize critics of Clinton and Clintonian policies. And by declaring the “indispensable nation” doctrine, Hillary Clinton convincingly shed the... Read More
A while back I wrote a piece, The Most Dangerous Letters in the World Aren’t SCS…They’re CPEC. I made the case that the South China Sea was a case of high-functioning, cautious states not interested in blowing each other up…while in South Asia the core Chinese gambit, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, was at the mercy... Read More
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Fidel Castro's 90th birthday celebrations might have been a bit more extravagant if Cuba had emerged from the 1962 missile crisis as the world's fifth nuclear power. Everybody loves to talk about the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, when America’s Best and Brightest under Jack Kennedy stared down Nikita Khrushchev and his attempt to... Read More
Another day, another piece of US think-tankery poo-pooing the prospects for a nuclear confrontation with the PRC. RAND came up with a new report on the economic costs of war with China,Thinking the Unthinkable. In RAND's view the war won’t escalate beyond a limited conventional war fought in the West Pacific and over Chinese territory,... Read More
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To escape the soul-killing political minutiae inhabiting my Twitter timeline, I decided to trawl my own blog archive for diversion…and came across a piece I wrote in September 2013 on Alexander Hamilton! Yes, Alexander Hamilton, current darling of the Washington set and central figure of an ethnically enhanced hip-hop musical that apparently provides the soundtrack... Read More
Things fall apart. Especially with a helping push from the United States. The world’s easier for America to manage if it’s broken into smaller, weaker, and more vulnerable and manageable pieces. That, I think, is one of the lessons of the post Cold War era. The USSR fell apart. Yugoslavia fell apart. So did Sudan.... Read More
I have a new post up at Asia Times that ventures beyond my usual bailiwick. It’s about Cambodia, and it’s keyed on the murder of Dr. Kem Ley, which created an uproar in Cambodian civil society: Cambodian PM Hun Sen Paints a bull’s-eye on his own back. I’m interested in Cambodia because of its role... Read More
Opportunistic foreign intervention into domestic democratic processes: it happens. I’m reading Sterling Seagrave’s epic account of the Philippines under Marcos,The Marcos Dynasty, and just happen to be at the part where Edward Lansdale and the CIA are painstakingly molding Ramon Magsaysay into the magnificent vessel that will contain American aspirations in the Philippines. Lansdale did... Read More
Walter Liggett, Floyd Olson, and Minnesota
Most people die in deserved obscurity. Others have their memory and reputation snatched away by forces eager to diminish and deny their accomplishments. Walter Liggett was such a person. Walter Liggett was a pioneering muckraker, a journalist who lived—and died—pursuing the biggest story of his generation: the collision of money, power, crime, democracy, and freedom... Read More
In case you haven’t seen Baton Rouge shooter Gavin Long’s alleged manifesto, I’ve included it at the end of this post. It's an interesting document. In it Long appears self-aware, stable, emotionally controlled, analytical, and morally and politically engaged. It concludes: A sacrifice for my people, & a sacrifice for the people. His manifesto doesn’t... Read More
Now that the UNCLOS SCS ruling has come down, it’s time to deal with What’s Next? Not good things, in my opinion, as expressed in my latest at Asia Times. It’s called No off ramps, only dead ends in the South China Sea. The diplomatic and strategic wild card, I think, is not the fact... Read More
Micah Johnson, Josh Marshall, and Charles Pierce
I normally keep my head down on the Internet but recently I’ve been a near-troll-y jerk on the subject of what I see as inaccurate/misleading liberal media presentation of Trump statements on anti-Semitism and racism. Long story short, I think Trump has the white racist bloc sewn up and he doesn’t need to dogwhistle it.... Read More
Long Live?
As relatively muted reactions to the Philippines v. China arbitral tribunal award come in from ASEAN and EU, it appears likely that the PRC at the highest level traded an undertaking to finally abandon the nine-dash-line in return for international forbearance on declaration of China as an international outlaw for ignoring the ruling. I suspect... Read More
I have a piece in CounterPunch magazine about the constellation of whistleblowers surrounding HSBC Bank, HSBC and the Five Whistleblowers. Buy it! HSBC has yet to be brought to book in any serious way for a litany of transgressions in multiple jurisdictions. When I say “not in a serious way” while cognizant of the fact... Read More
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
For me the central tragedy of this week is not the massacre in Dallas, horrific as it is. It is the video shot in Falcon Heights of the aftermath of the police shooting of Philandro Castile. Absolutely wrenching to watch. And it should be watched to the very end. It is a heartrending depiction of... Read More
I have a piece up at Asia Times, China has right to declare ADIZ in the South China Sea. A bit more in your face than my proposed title but a) essentially true and b) not a bad idea improving coordination in zones abuzz with contentious military presences and missions and c) decent clickbait. Pre... Read More
I’m ready to call bullsh*t on the notorious “Red Star of David” anti-Trump meme that has swept the Intertubes. Stars of David are not red (blue border on white field); ghetto stars used by the Nazis were yellow; and the red star, among other things, is the shoulder badge of the US Army’s 6th Infantry... Read More
PastClassics
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
Hundreds of POWs may have been left to die in Vietnam, abandoned by their government—and our media.
The evidence is clear — but often ignored
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.