Changing Geopolitics

The Russian Army has lost substantial amounts of irreplaceable (on any short term) equipment and a large number of irreplaceable professional soldiers during Putin’s adventure in Ukraine. As the war continues, the Russians will have to move more of their remaining cadre of professionals from around the country to the active war zone, and that will require staffing other garrisons with inexperienced, poorly trained conscripts.

If I were a senior commander in the Peoples’ Liberation Army, the view to the North across the Amur River might become more tempting than the view to the East across the Taiwan Strait.

Chipping Away at the Supply Chain

Milton Friedman once remarked that if the government were put in charge of the Sahara Desert, we would quickly have a shortage of sand. The looming supply problem for the electronics industry isn’t a sand shortage but one of silicon metal used to make semiconductors. SMM News is reporting that government imposed power restriction in China are adversely affecting silicon production.

The insufficient power supply will inevitably lead to a decline in the output in Q4. The impact of the dual control of energy consumption is more significant on the supply of silicon. The major silicon metal producing regions including Yunnan, Xinjiang, Sichuan will have to cut the production, where the silicon plants cannot maintain the normal production from September to November. The power shortage also restricts the production.

BTW, silicon isn’t rare; it’s the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. Oh, and a vast array of products uses semiconductors. Even the toaster I bought last year uses an integrated circuit as the basis of its timer.

Magnesium and Wheels

I’m so old I remember when the only significant quantity of magnesium in an automobile might have been a set of aftermarket wheels. That’s not the case now. More and more parts on cars and trucks, including large body parts, are aluminum, and many aluminum alloys contain magnesium. There’s a lot of magnesium in a modern vehicle.

China produces over 80 % of the world’s magnesium. Recent power shortages have severely affected the region where most of China’s production is based, so a magnesium shortage is expected to hit vehicle manufacturers before the end of 2021.

Moving Back to the Third World?

The New York Times reports that China’s electrical supply does not have the capacity to sustain existing demand. Businesses are having to curtail operation, and other public services are affected.

The outages have rippled across most of eastern China, where the bulk of the population lives and works. Some building managers have turned off elevators. Some municipal pumping stations have shut down, prompting one town to urge residents to store extra water for the next several months, though it later withdrew the advice.

Meanwhile, the CCP is shaking down companies to fund projects where the state can’t afford, and a real estate bubble is about burst.

If something can’t go on forever, it will stop.

— Herbert Stein

One wonders how this might affect the ten percent held for the Big Guy.

Your Miley May Vary

I have no idea whether the story being pushed by Bob Woodward about Mark Miley’a phone calls to his Chinese counterpart are true. Or whether the story about an allied signal intelligence operation intercepting at least one of the calls is true. I am troubled by the the stories being believable.

If Miley is the Woodward’s source, one wonders why he thought it would be a good idea to let the tale out into the wild. Who did he think would approve?

I really does look as if when 2020 turned 21, it started drinking openly.

Fasten your seat belts—there’s turbulence ahead.

Afghanistan’s Future

I’m seeing posts around the Interwebz saying the Taliban will drag Afghanistan back to the 15th century. I believe that it’s more likely the country will wind up stuck in one of the uglier corners of the 21st.

Badakhshan Province sits along the ancient Silk Road and shares a border with China. I expect that China will begin an economic invasion within a few weeks or months. So far, the Chinese have modeled their economic imperialism less on the Europeans and more on the Ferengi, but I expect that Afghans’ unwillingness to be dominated by outsiders will cause the Chinese to be sucked into the same black hole that devoured British, Russian, and American resources over the past couple of centuries. (Note: The last successful conqueror of Afghanistan was Genghis Khan.)

Stay tuned.

Sanctioning America’s Allies

Last week, the Xiden Administration threatened to impose sanctions against Germany and India. Germany has been a key NATO ally for decades, and India is a member of the Quad (with America, Australia, and Japan) seeking to constraint Chinese aggressiveness in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.


It seems that the Germans are on the verge of completing a natural gas pipeline from Russia that will provide 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year, mostly at the expense of the 87 billion cubic meters now flowing through a Ukrainian pipeline.

India is planning to purchase a Russian S400 air defense system which would increase its ability to defend against Pakistani or Chinese aircraft.

Now, a reasonable argument can be made for opposing those deals because of their benefits to Russia. OTOH, another common denominator between them is their potential adverse effects on Xiden family allies—Ukraine and China.


Trying to Bully a Bully

In a thoroughly incompetent attempt to look tough, Secretary of State Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan made a point of insulting the Chinese delegation during a joint press conference prior to a high-level meeting in Anchorage this week. They were surprised when the Chinese responded, in kind and more effectively.

The Gentle Reader who has followed this blog for a while will surely remember that I advocate giving bullies a dose of their own medicine. However, if one doesn’t have the means to strike back effectively, a weak response will only encourage the bully’s belief in his own superiority and entitlement. If one cannot strike effectively, one should hold until an effective response is possible. Joe Xiden’s team wound up demonstrating to the Chinese just how weak and incompetent the new U.S. foreign policy team is.

Fred Fleitz has a post reviewing the disaster in Alaska. He notes

[t]he Alaska press event was a debacle that will build a perception that the US is returning to Jimmy Carter-like incompetence in foreign policy. It also confirms claims by Biden critics that his foreign policy team is headed by inept second and third-string Obama retreads.

America’s enemies are watching and planning how to cash in on President Biden’s weak and incompetent foreign policy.

Is it 2025 yet?

UPDATE—I hate autocorrupt. I fixed the first sentence. It now reads “look tough.”

Looking Out For Their Own Interests

When a political party achieves firm control of the levers of power, it’s not surprising that it will begin to take action that promotes the interests of the party’s supporters. For example, Donald Trump and Cocaine Mitch put a significant number of conservative judges on federal courts, including three Associate Justices at the Supreme Court.

Joe Xiden is doing the same for the his supporters. For example, he’s nominated William J. Burns to head the CIA. Currently, Mr Burns is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank that has reportedly accepted funds from sources with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, just a return to the Old Normal.

Hunter, Burisma, and Corruption

I’ve got twenty bucks that says no main stream media reporter will ever ask His Fraudulency about this report.

The records acquired by the Committees show that Hunter Biden and his family were involved in a vast financial network that connected them to foreign nationals and foreign governments across the globe. …

The records acquired by the Committees show consistent, significant and extensive financial connections among and between Hunter Biden, James Biden, Sara Biden, Devon Archer, and Chinese nationals connected to the Communist regime and PLA as well as other foreign nationals with questionable backgrounds. These connections and the vast amount of money transferred among and between them don’t just raise conflicts of interest concerns, they raise criminal financial, counterintelligence and extortion concerns. The Committees will continue to evaluate the evidence in their possession.

And in other news, criminals steal things.

And the Smoke of Their Torment Shall Rise …

The Houston Chronicle reports that police and firefighters responded to the Chinese consulate last night because of reports of smoke. Witnesses in nearby apartment high-rises told police that people were burning paper in what appeared to be trash cans.

The consulate has been ordered closed by Friday afternoon.

A personal note: One of the activities I supervised while in Viet Nam was a classified communications center. This incident reminds me of the care we had to take for certain kinds of documents and the detailed plans we had to destroy the center and its contents if necessary. The fact that a modern state would not have provided one of its consulates with the capability of quickly and reliably destroying key documents would have been puzzling to me if the Chinese had not previously demonstrated their incompetence in keep a bio lab safe and secure.

“Chinese Chernobyl”

The Gentle Reader has no doubt heard of a catastrophic reactor accident that occurred in the Soviet Union in 1985 at a place called Chernobyl (now in Ukraine). The reactor was a typical example of Socialist engineering—the RBMK-type was in common use throughout the USSR—with an inherent design flaw related to the core’s cooling system. The Chernobyl reactor exploded during a reactor test of the core’s cooling system. This risk of a core meltdown was not made evident in the test operating instructions, so the operators proceeded with  testing the reactor in an unstable state. Upon test completion, the operators triggered a reactor shutdown, but a combination of unstable conditions and reactor design flaws caused an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction instead. Poor design, bureaucratic inertia, and operator carelessness created history’s worst peacetime nuclear event.

It’s being suggested that the Wuhan virus pandemic is China’s Chernobyl. If the virus got into the wild because of improper procedures in a Chinese laboratory, it would be a striking parallel example of Socialist bureaucratic incompetence acting with disregard for public safety. However, even if the actual source is something else, a wet market or whatever, the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts to strong-arm reality so as to avoid blame for the meltdown resulting from their carelessness and mendacity is a nearly perfect example of why socialist systems all fail. Wishing won’t make it so. Facts are stubborn things.

The Laws of Thermodynamics, when compounded with Murphy’s Law, assure us that bad stuff will happen on a random basis. It’s wise to take steps to protect ourselves from such events. “The battle is not always to the strong, or the race to the swift, but it’s the way to bet.” History tells us that competition in free markets has the best track record for generating the resources needed for healthy living.

The Chinese people will have to sort out their own political destiny. It may be that they will grow tired of their current masters and that the CCP virus pandemic will inch them along a path to something new.

Meanwhile, the Wuhan virus pandemic has given many Americans a 30-day free trial of nanny state control.

Interesting Times in Hong Kong

Pro-freedom demonstrations have been going on for the past few months in Hong Kong. The National Interest has a thought-provoking post about the demonstrators and their goals.

In Hong Kong, revolution is in the air. What started out as an unexpectedly large demonstration in late April against a piece of legislation—an extradition bill—has become a call for democracy in the territory as well as independence from China and the end of communism on Chinese soil.

Almost nobody thinks any of these things can happen, but they forget that Chinese rebellions and revolutions often start at the periphery and then work their way to the center. The Qing dynasty of the Manchus, the last imperial reign, unraveled from the edges, as did others.

Some of the demonstrators have been carrying signs reading, “We need the Second Amendment.” Well, yes. As the saying goes, ” You can vote your way into socialism, but you’ll have to shoot your way out.”

Don’t Be Weasels

The Daily Caller is reporting another protest by Google employees. About 1,400 of them signed a letter about the Dragonfly project being worked on for China so that they could take “ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment.” According to the article, that’s only about half the number of Google employees who signed on to a letter opposing Google’s work on a DoD image recognition contract.

Google complied with the employee request concerning its AI development work with the DoD and failed to renew the contract. Will Google now back away from developing a censored search engine for China?

Stay tuned.

Follow The Money

It seems that the administration wants to lend $2,000,000,000 to Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, so that it can develop an off-shore field, the oil from said field to go principally to China.

Let’s think this through.

The budget isn’t in surplus, let alone balance, so the Treasury will have to borrow the money we lend to Petrobras. Most likely, the money will be borrowed from China, so we are going to borrow money from China for Brazil’s benefit to develop an off-shore oil field to supply China after shutting down most of our own off-shore oil development.

Uh, huh.

A Promise Kept

It’s rare when a politician keeps a promise, but President Obama has. During the 2008 campaign, he promised on numerous occasions to raise energy prices. He has certainly kept that promise. Gas was around a-buck-eighty in January, 2008. During my round trip from Maryland to Texas earlier this month, I paid an average of $3.28.

It certainly seems that he is working to make sure that promise stays kept. For example, consider the administration’s delays in approvals for the Keystone XL pipeline which would bring Canadian oil to U. S. refineries, providing us with an on-shore source of energy that we could purchase from a country that doesn’t fund terrorists.

The Canadians are going to develop their oil shale deposits, and they will have no trouble selling the oil on the world market. Indeed, if we don’t move soon, construction will begin on a pipeline to the Pacific coast in British Columbia where Chinese tankers can call. Building that pipeline will be a significant engineering challenge, but it will happen if that’s how the oil can move to the world market. It’s less likely to happen if the more cost-effective Keystone XL line is built.

Regime change in 2013 may come soon enough to save Keystone XL. We can hope for a change.