Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Consequences of a Long War Between Russia and Ukraine - The Impact on Washington's Agenda

While the Western media and politicians would have us believe that Russia is losing the conflict in Ukraine and that Russia is suffering under the sanctions regime that has been imposed on them, an interesting recent perspective by RAND would suggest that perhaps that is not the entire truth.


RAND Corporation is a highly influential United States Department of Defense and government-linked think tank and, as such, its opinions carry a lot of weight in the hallowed halls of Washington.  In its recent  "Avoiding a Long War - U.S. Policy and the Trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict" perspective, the authors, Samuel Charap and Miranda Priebe ask the question "How does this end?", noting that the conflict is the most significant interstate conflict in decades and that its evolution will have profound consequences on the United States, its foreign policies and its global interests.  They also note that, while it is possible that a defeated and chastened Russia could be chased from the battlefield, studies of previous conflicts would suggest that this scenario is improbable.  


The perspective goes on to outline the dimensions that could affect the possible trajectories that the conflict could take.  These include:


1.) possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia - Western leaders were convinced that Russia would use nonstrategic nuclear weapons as its forces lost ground in what Russia believes is an existential war.  There are reasons why Russia would not choose the nuclear option - there is a lack of high-value military targets, the risk that these weapons could harm Russia troops and the domestic and international political backlash for the use of the nuclear option.


2.) possible escalation to a conflict between NATO and Russia - currently, NATO's main involvement in the conflict has been the supplying of tens of billions of dollars worth of aid (military and other), tactical and intelligence support and the imposition of anti-Russian sanctions.  Russia could preemptively attack NATO member states if it felt that direct NATO intervention in Ukraine was imminent.  


3.) control of territory - while Russia occupies only roughly 20 percent of Ukraine, these areas contain important economic assets including the Zaparoizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The extent of Ukraine control over these regions could have an impact on the long-term viability of the nation.  Greater Ukrainian control over its territory is important to the United States for humanitarian reasons, to reinforce international norms and to promote future Ukrainian economic growth.


4.) duration - while a longer war may enable Ukraine's military to retake more territory, it may also benefit the United States as it will preoccupy Russian forces, not allowing them to "have the bandwidth to menace others".  As well, it will further degrade Russia's military and weaken its economy.  A long war will also force the Europeans to reduce their dependence on Russian energy and spend more on their own defense.  On the downside, a protracted war will increase the economic costs to the United States and open the possibility that Russia could further expand its battlefield gains.


5.) some form of war termination - either absolute victory or a negotiated settlement between Russia and Ukraine (and its NATO partners) which include an armistice agreement (i.e. freeze the front lines) or a political settlement (i.e. peace treaty).


The authors' analysis suggests that "duration" is the most important of the dimensions for the United States.  Let's look at the potential costs of a long war:


1.) There would be a prolonged elevated risk of Russian nuclear use and the outbreaking of a hot NATO-Russia war.


2.) Ukraine would have a greater need for external economic and military support during and after the war since more damage to their infrastructure would be likely.


3.) More Ukrainian civilians would die, be displaced, or endure hardships stemming from the war.


4.) There would be continued upward pressure on energy and food prices, causing loss of life (an estimated 150,000 excess deaths) and suffering globally which would primarily affect Europe.


5.) Global economic growth would slow, particularly in Europe.


6.) The United States would be less able to focus on other global priorities particularly China and the prospects for negotiating a follow-on to the New START arms control treaty


7.) An ongoing freeze in U.S.-Russia relations would pose challenges to other U.S. priorities.


8.) There is a possibility of increased Russian territorial gains in Ukraine.


9.) The relationship between Russia and China could deepen.


Now, let's look at some of the key observations contained in the report:


1.) A long war could entail major costs for the United States (page 8).


2.) The consequences of a long war far outweigh the possible benefits related to elevated escalation risks and economic damage. (page 11)


3.) America's ability to focus on other global geopolitical priorities, particularly its competition with China, will be constrained while the war is consuming policymakers' time and United States military resources. (page 11)


4.) When the war ends it is likely that Russia will be more dependent on China (although it is my belief that they are mutually dependent on each other), Washington wants to ensure that Russia does not become completely subordinated to China.  The prospect of a longer war could provide Beijing with advantages in its competition with Washington. (page 11)


So, in closing, to avoid this nightmarish scenario, what do the authors recommend?  Here is a quote:


"A dramatic, overnight shift in U.S. policy is politically impossible—both domestically and with allies—and would be unwise in any case. But developing these instruments now and socializing them with Ukraine and with U.S. allies might help catalyze the eventual start of a process that could bring this war to a negotiated end in a time frame that would serve U.S. interests. The alternative is a long war that poses major challenges for the United States, Ukraine, and the rest of the world."


Of course, the war has always been about protecting America's global hegemony.  What a surprise.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

How Americans Feel About a Central Bank Digital Currency

With the Federal Reserve announcing its FedNow instant payments service which is essentially the "plumbing" for a central bank digital currency ecosystem which will launch in July 2023 and that expansion of the service is planned for the future:


...a recent survey by the Cato Institute is particularly timely.


While some people feel that we are already living in a digital dollar reality brought to us by our use of credit and debit cards and other digital payment platforms like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Play, Zelle etcetera, in fact, there is a big difference between the current platforms and what is being proposed by the Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world.  The digital dollars of today are a liability of the private commercial bank sector.  In contrast, a central bank digital currency is a liability of a central bank, meaning that there is a direct connection between a nation's central bank and the citizens of a nation.   Rather than a government having to request payment information from a commercial bank through various legal procedures, the government could technically get your personal spending information directly from a central bank without requiring legal permission from a court.


In its 2023 CBDC National Survey, the Cato Institute examines how Americans feel about the implementation of a central bank digital currency by the Federal Reserve.  Let's go through some of the questions and responses.


Here is the first question.  There are proposals for the Federal Reserve to begin offering a government-issued digital currency, called a “central bank digital currency” (CBDC). Would you support or oppose the proposal?


While only 16 percent of Americans support a CBDC as shown here:

...the support varies significantly by party affiliation with 22 percent of Democrats supporting the idea compared to only 11 percent of Republicans and 14 percent of independents.  A very substantial portion of Americans are not particularly familiar with the concept of a central bank digital currency which is extremely concerning given that the implementation of a CBDC will be a financial game-changer with far-reaching consequences for all of us.  Only 36 percent of Republicans are neutral on or not familiar with CBDCs compared to 56 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Independents.


Here is a graphic breaking down support for a Federal Reserve CBDC by various demographics:


In general Americans who are Black (32 percent), Males (22 percent), Americans under the age of 29 (32 percent), high income (21 percent) and highly educated (25 percent) are supportive of CBDCs.


When asked about their concerns about CBDCs, a key concern is the potential lack of privacy or an increase in government control.  This is particularly key given the concept that CBDCs could be programmable.  Let's break this down further:


1.) 74 percent would oppose CBDCs if it meant that governments could control how people spend their money.


2.) 68 percent would oppose CBDCs if it meant that government could monitor their spending.


3.) 68 percent would oppose CBDCs if it meant that all U.S. cash would be abolished.


4.) 65 percent would oppose CBDCs if it meant that they attracted cyberattacks by accumulating personal financial data into a single large database.


5.) 64 percent would oppose CBDCs if it meant that the government could charge a tax on those who don't spend money during recessions.


6.) 59 percent would oppose CBDCs if it meant that the government could freeze the digital bank accounts of political protestors.


The last issue is one that should be of concern to all of us given the actions of the Canadian government during the Truckers' Protest in February 2022 when the Trudeau government froze the bank accounts of Canadians who donated to the protest as well as those who participated.


Here are some additional so-called benefits regarding CBDCs and how Americans feel about them:


Not surprisingly, a majority of Republicans did not support any of these "benefits", however 37 percent were supportive of government being able to ensure that welfare payments were spent on their intended purpose whereas 55 percent of Democrats were supportive of CBDCs allowing unbanked Americans to have access to a "banking system".  Here is a graphic showing the divide along party lines for compelling reasons to oppose and support a CBDC:


To summarize, 76 percent of Americans are more concerned about the potential risks of a CBDC than the potential benefits that they supposedly could offer.  Only 24 percent state that "government should issue a central bank digital currency because it would reduce financial crime and other illegal activity and would increase access to the financial system.”  By party alignment, 85 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats believe that government should not allow the issuance of a CDBC.


Since it appears that, in general, Americans are overwhelmingly against the implementation of a Federal Reserve CBDC and since the Federal Reserve is already taking the first steps toward a CBDC ecosystem, one has to wonder how the Fed and the political class in Washington will force feed this to the useless eaters.  Will there be a significant fiscal or financial event that will be sold to the peasants as an existential crisis similar to the narrative used to get Americans to line up for vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Thursday, June 15, 2023

The Reciprocity Principle - Is Canada Ready for Russia's Revenge?

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, the barely competent Justin Trudeau acolyte Melanie Joly, who  made this announcement on June 10, 2023 while her boss (Chrystia Freeland?_ was in Kiev, promising another $500 million of Canadians' taxpayers dollars to Ukraine:


Here are quotes about the seizure from Ms. Joly and another of her inept Ministerial peers:


Today, Canada is sending a clear message to the Russian regime that there will be nowhere left to hide for those who support and profit from the Kremlin’s war of aggression. Canada has been there to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom since day one and we will continue to be there through their victory to aid in their reconstruction efforts.


- Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs 

Our Government is unwavering in our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and against Russia’s illegal invasion. From the beginning we have stood on the side of the Ukrainian people, and implemented a NOTAM against all Russian-owned and operated flights into Canada. Today, we are demonstrating that Russia’s actions continue to have consequences. We stand with Ukraine and will take any and all necessary actions, including this seizure, to put pressure on President Putin” 


- Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport  


Note the following quote from the news release:


"Should the asset ultimately be forfeited to the Crown, Canada will work with the Government of Ukraine on options to redistribute this asset to compensate victims of human rights abuses, restore international peace and security, or rebuild Ukraine."

Restoring peace by stealing aircraft.  That's going to happen.


Here is the original story about the plane from March 2022:



"An Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft carrying Covid-19 test kits ordered by the Government of Canada has been grounded at Toronto’s Pearson Airport as part of the international sanctions imposed on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.


Like most of the European countries, Canada and the United States have issued executive orders closing their airspace to planes owned or operated by Russian companies...


The Volga-Dnepr Antonov that landed in Toronto on Saturday 27 February at 07:00 was carrying rapid antigen tests ordered from China by the Canadian government. The aircraft, registered RA-82078, departed from an undisclosed airport in China on flight VI5854, stopping at Khabarovsk in Russia’s far east and in Anchorage before arriving in Toronto.


An exemption will be required for it to take to the skies again."


Here's more coverage on the grounding of the massive Antonov 124-100 Russian-registered cargo plane owned by Volga-Dnepr Airline which operates 11 Antonov-124 aircraft:


As one would expect, Russia has weighed in on the seizure and threatened sale of a Russian-registered aircraft:



Here are some quotes from Maria Zhakarova, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russia Federation with my bolds:


"During his trip to Kiev, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau announced the decision to launch the procedure for confiscating an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft owned by the Russian company Volga-Dnepr, citing Canadian sanctions legislation. The aircraft has been illegally detained at the Toronto airport since February 2022. We perceive this act as cynical and shameless theft.


The administration of Justin Trudeau continues the tradition of its predecessors who granted political asylum to Nazi accomplices from among diehard pro-Bandera supporters. Acting on US orders, it motivates Ukrainian authorities to wage a war against Russia until the last Ukrainian. They pledge military and financial assistance, which, in reality, has not been all that generous, and promise to reward the Ukrainians for their zeal with stolen Russian property.


The An-124 aircraft, which delivered Covid-19 medications to Toronto under a humanitarian project at the request of the Canadian government, was prevented from leaving the airport and was essentially taken hostage. It now turns out that Canadian authorities had a far-reaching aim in mind: to steal this unique aircraft and to hand it over to their clients in Kiev.


The Russian side warns that the practical implementation of this decision will entail the most serious repercussions for Russian-Canadian relations, which are already on the verge of being severed through the fault of the official Ottawa. Any attempts to cover up this illegal and shameful act by judicial procedures will not impart even a semblance of legitimacy to it. We reserve the right to retaliate in line with the reciprocity principle."


The reciprocity principle - we pay back what we received.


The other shoe will most certainly drop.  Russia does not bluff, it acts.  Will Canada and the Trudeau government be ready for the fall-out, particularly given the growing strength of the BRICS alliance?  I rather doubt it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Erasing Women - The Johns Hopkins Non-Man Debacle

The increase in media coverage of gender issues seems to have exploded in recent months with many organizations weighing in on the issues.  One organization would appear to have taken things a bit too far as you will see in this posting.


According to the Gender and Sexuality Resources website of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Johns Hopkins University we find these definitions on an archived copy of its LGBTQ Glossary webpage with my bolds:


"Gay Man: A man who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, or relationally attracted to other men, or who identifies as a member of the gay community. At times, “gay” is used to refer to all people, regardless of gender, who have their primary sexual and or romantic attractions to people of the same gender. “Gay” is an adjective (not a noun) as in “He is a gay man.”"


"Lesbian [sexual orientation]: A non-man attracted to non-men. While past definitions refer to ‘lesbian’ as a woman who is emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually attracted to other women, this updated definition includes non-binary people who may also identify with the label."


Here are screen captures of both definitions for the record.


So, in the interest of political correctness and all-encompassing inclusion, no longer are lesbians two women who are attracted to each other, they are two "non-men" who are attracted to each other.  In other words, women have been erased yet again and become "non-men".  In contrast, in the case of gay men, you'll notice that there was no such gender-inclusive phrasing.


This change in definition did not go unnoticed by the world which reacted negatively to the erasure of women who are now being referred to by such terms as "chest feeders" and "people who bleed".  In fact, the negative reaction was so strong that Johns Hopkins has totally removed the LGBTQ Glossary from its website, replacing it with this:


And here I thought that we had reached peak stupid three years ago.  Women have spent decades fighting for equality in their personal lives and careers and now they are slowly but surely being erased in the interest of political correctness and making sure that everyone is included..that is except for people who have the misfortune of being born with two XX chromosomes.

France and BRICS - A Trojan Horse or Growing Independence from Washington?

Not surprisingly, at least to this point in time, this story has received almost no coverage in the Western mainstream media:


If Macron's request were fulfilled and he was allowed to attend the BRICS summit in August 2023, he would be the first leader of an advanced economy nation to do so.


Here is more coverage of the story from China's Global Times:


Here's what Russia's TASS News Agency had to say about Macron's request:


Lastly, here's what Sputnik had to say about the potential attendance of France at an assembly of the world's leading developing economies along with a quote from Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova:


"It would be nice if they [Macron's office] told why they want [to attend the summit]. Do they want to once again make some contact to show Paris' activity or is it a 'Trojan horse of some sort — so let them explain...


After all, we are talking about the organization to which they are in no way a member and toward which they have never even shown any politeness, let alone showing any good intentions or feelings."


Let's go back to the Global Times editorial which reflects the views of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and look at some excerpt with my bolds:


"Considering this idea as bold or even "crazy" was the initial reaction for many people when they heard the news. Exploring why this is the case is worth delving into at a deeper level. It indicates that people have subconsciously taken the division between North and South, and the split between East and West, as a normal state, to the extent that even a thought that may break these norms and mental patterns appears quite striking.


However, on the other hand, this idea seems reasonable. France is a major European country that realized early the historic changes occurring on the global landscape. Macron himself has made surprising statements on multiple occasions, demonstrating a certain level of autonomy separate from Washington. These factors make it feel like it wouldn't be particularly strange if Macron were to attend the BRICS Summit. The fact that such news are emerging in France and not in other countries itself speaks volumes...


Macron emphasized that Europe should pursue "strategic autonomy," and France also has a tradition of independent diplomacy. If France can truly act as a bridge between different camps in the world's divisions and splits, it will undoubtedly make its international status stand out and create historic achievements. Macron clearly has such ambitions and is making such attempts and efforts. We appreciate and respect this, and are willing to understand with goodwill France's release of information about Macron's desire to participate in the BRICS Summit...


One thing is certain: This matter has demonstrated the enormous influence of the BRICS cooperation mechanism. "BRICS+" adheres to the principle of multilateralism, attracting dozens of emerging economies and developing countries to participate in the cooperation process, which coincides with the new multilateralism supported by France and Europe. Can "BRICS+" open up to developed countries like France based on its huge influence in developing countries? This is an interesting question, and the BRICS organization might as well seriously consider it in light of this news."


All of that said, we must keep this in mind when it comes to Emmanuel Macron: well as this:



Is this just another means for Klaus Schwab to ensure that his dystopic vision for the world comes to fruition?  Is Macron  taking his marching orders from the World Economic Forum whose mandate is to control the globe or does he truly believe that he needs to be on the right side of history when it comes to a multipolar world?

Monday, June 12, 2023

The American Surveillance State - A Government Camera in Every Home

The Cato Institute recently released the results of its 2023 Central Bank Digital Currency National Survey.  While the CBDC part of the study is interesting and will be the subject of a future posting, what I found interesting was the question in the study that examined Americans views on the surveillance state.  The survey was collected from 2000 respondents between February 27 and March 8, 2023 with the sampling frame based on a "modelled frame" of American adults based on the American Community Survey, voter records, the 2020 Current Population Survey Voting and Registration supplements, the 2020 National Election Pool exit polls and the 2020 Cooperative Election Study surveys.


Let's look at the question and responses regarding government surveillance of its citizens:


Would you favour or oppose the government installing surveillance cameras in every household to reduce domestic violence, abuse, and other illegal activity?




Strongly favour - 6% 


Somewhat favour 8% 


Neutral - 10% 


Somewhat oppose - 7% 


Strongly oppose - 68%


Isn't it interesting to see that a total of 14 percent of Americans favour the installation of government surveillance cameras in every household with an additional 10 percent neither supporting nor opposing the issue, totalling nearly one in every four Americans.


Let's break down the demographics of those who favour the installation of government surveillance cameras in every home:


1.) Democrat/Lean Democrat - 17 percent with 21 percent of strong Democrats approving


2.) Republican/Lean Republican - 11 percent


3.) Independent - 14 percent


4.) Race - 9 percent White, 33 percent Black, 25 percent Latino, 11 percent Asian


5.) Age - 29 percent 18 to 29, 20 percent 30 to 44, 6 percent 45 to 54, 6 percent 55 to 64, 5 percent 65 plus 


6.) Education - 18 percent high school or less, 11 percent some college, 10 percent college degree, 16 percent post-graduate degree


7.) Household Income -16 percent less than $50,000, 15 percent $50,000 to $100,000, 12 percent $100,000 plus


Let's break down the demographics of those who oppose the installation of government surveillance cameras in every home:


1.) Democrat/Lean Democrat - 72 percent with 85 percent of strong Republicans opposing


2.) Republican/Lean Republican - 83 percent


3.) Independent - 67 percent


4.) Race - 84 percent White, 51 percent Black, 58 percent Latino, 66 percent Asian


5.) Age - 53 percent 18 to 29, 68 percent 30 to 44, 84 percent 45 to 54, 88 percent 55 to 64, 89 percent 65 plus


6.) Education - 68 percent high school or less, 80 percent some college, 81 percent college degree, 78 percent post-graduate degree


7.) Household Income -70 percent less than $50,000, 79 percent $50,000 to $100,000, 82 percent $100,000 plus


To summarize, younger, non-white, strongly leaning Democratic Americans with either high school or less or post-graduate degrees and incomes under $100,000 per year tend to support government in-home surveillance.


The additional link between those who approve and those who oppose in-home government surveillance is the link between those who support and those who oppose a Federal Reserve central bank digital currency:


1.) Favour installation of government surveillance cameras in every home:


Strongly support CBDC - 56 percent


Somewhat support CBDC - 51 percent


Neutral - 11 percent


Somewhat oppose CBDC - 3 percent


Strongly oppose CBDC - 2 percent


2.) Oppose installation of government surveillance cameras in every home:


Strongly support CBDC - 35 percent


Somewhat support CBDC - 371 percent


Neutral - 73 percent


Somewhat oppose CBDC - 93 percent


Strongly oppose CBDC - 95 percent


Those who support government installation of surveillance cameras in every home tend to be those who strongly support the issuance of CBDCs and vice versa.


While only one in seven Americans support in-home government camera surveillance, I am still shocked that anyone would trust the American government with all aspects of their most private lives but I suspect that some people take that attitude that "if you aren't doing anything wrong, you have no reason to be concerned about government intrusion".  While it is not terribly surprising that younger Americans have little issue with protecting their personal privacy given that they live significant portions of their lives in the online world where there is no privacy, what is of concern is that within the next decade, many of these younger Americans will be in positions of power where they will have the ability to implement a total surveillance state.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Fattah - Iran's Hypersonic Weapon

Recent news from Iran will prove to be a game changer in the Middle East.  Here is the report from Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA):


Here is a brief video showing the Fattah:


According to IRNA, Iran's hypersonic missile named Fattah has a range of 1400 kilometres, putting them within striking distance of Israel, and can reach speeds of between Mach 13 and Mach 15 (i.e. 13 to 15 times the speed of sound).  Earlier claims by Iran suggest that the missiles could reach Israel within 400 seconds of launch.


In the case of traditional ballistic missiles, launched missiles travel into the atmosphere on an arc-shaped trajectory, returning to earth at potentially hypersonic speeds.  In contrast, hypersonic missiles which travel faster than Mach 5 eliminate the arc-shaped trajectory, remaining much closer to the surface of the earth where they can use aerodynamic design features to maneuvre.  This feature makes them much harder to track and detect and means that they can avoid traditional defensive countermeasures.  Their high speed means that they can reach far distant targets within 15 to 30 minutes of launching, another important feature which makes them difficult to defend against.


There are three main types of hypersonic weapons:


1.) hypersonic cruise missiles - these are similar to existing cruise missiles, using aerodynamic lift to remain in flight and are powered throughout their entire flight.  They are not as fast as a hypersonic glide vehicle but fly at low altitudes and high speeds making it difficult to defend against.


2.) maneuverable reentry vehicles/glide vehicles - these are launched like ballistic missiles but reenter the atmosphere fairly quickly before gliding hundreds or even thousands of miles to their target (i.e. boost-glide vehicles).


3.) aero-ballistic/air-launched missiles - these are launched from aircraft which allows the aircraft to remain at long distances from their target


Here is a video from the Carnegy Endowment outlining the hypersonic missile technology:


Iran has now joined the small group of nations that have developed hypersonic missile technology; Russia which has a very advanced hypersonic missile program that may have been used in Ukraine, China, the United States and North Korea.  Other nations are also developing hypersonic missile technology including Australia, India, France, Germany and Japan with Israel and South Korea having done preliminary research on hypersonic weapons.


The United States is relatively behind in its hypersonic weapons program.  Here is a press release from August 2022 from Raytheon bragging about how its hypersonic cruise missile passed its second consecutive flight test:


According to the Congressional Budget Office, hypersonic missiles cost one-third more to procure and field than ballistic missiles with the same range with maneuverable warheads.

If Iran is not exaggerating the capabilities of its Fattah hypersonic missile, Israel will be forced to respond with either significantly improved defensive capabilities or a hypersonic missile of its own.  At the very least, this development will prove to be a deterrent should Israel choose to attack its existential enemy.