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grantcart's Journal
grantcart's Journal
September 30, 2017

It, almost certainly, is about to get worse.

A week ago I had a business meeting and the fellow started with something that was obviously on his mind, "I don't want to get into a partisan thing, and I don't agree with everything that Trump says BUT I do agree with him about athletes standing for the national anthem and not disrespecting the flag".

We talked for a bit and I gave him an alternative way of looking at it but then remarked, "its about to get much worse, much worse." He was curious and I explained that we weren't getting news from PR but when we did the news was going to be much worse than people thought. I explained that in modern society when you wipe out the electrical grid you have wiped out the foundation of society. Not only refrigerated food and drugs but also fresh drinking water, and much worse, sewage. When I told him that we were facing a real cholera epidemic that could effect tens of thousands, very quickly, I couldn't really follow the football drama or the stupid tweets. Cholera in the US affecting thousands should be everyone's first concern.

As the situation in PR allows for more interaction we will start getting the details and the pictures. When the basics have been established then there will be a house by house search for victims and it will take weeks to find all those that didn't survive the hurricane.

It will be a relentless day by day record of pain and suffering, some of which is not the fault of anybody and a lot of how Trump's cluelessness caused unnecessary death, suffering and loss.

At that point it will, almost certainly, get worse, much worse.

Trump has only one out. Trump isn't just a vacuous narcissistic semi-literate superficial performer, he is a vacuous narcissistic semi-literate superficial ONE TRICK performer. He has only one out - escalate the buffoonery to a new and higher level of confrontation, reframing, alarmist, scape goading.

The only way that he will get to out flank the pincer movement of bad Puerto Rico stories, general mismanagement stories, Bannon taking over the Republican Party stories, and the drip drip drip leaks from the Mueller investigation is to engage in a military confrontation.

China's closing of most of North Korean expat businesses has put China in the driver's seat in dealing with the North Koreans, along with almost everyone, including Russian revulsion at Trumps wild gestures.

That leaves Iran. At a time when Iran has swerved to its most rational course and made every effort to respond positively to the international agreement including large purchases of Boeing civilian aircraft Trump will be able to stir anti Iranian hysteria that too many including Senator Schumer have used for cheap and dishonest appeals to their bases.

A simple confrontation that triggers brief firing confrontations that doesn't lead to an actual open ended conflict (that would disrupt too much of Trump's golf and social schedule) could bring him weeks of headlines, threats, bombastic tweets and vitriolic nonsense wiping all of the other news of the front page.

It would also bring other benefits for Trump. Any military activity in the Straits of Hormuz will invalidate the underwriting of insurance for the shippers and disrupt 40% of the worlds freely traded oil. Oil prices would go up and bring immediate relief to Russia, OPEC (especially Saudi Arabia who is having an inconvenient debt crises) and the petroleum base of the Republican Party.

It is bad now but we should prepare ourselves for the possibility that it is about to get much worse.

September 20, 2017

Heartbreak at the UN

For those of us who have had the privilege to work as international civil servants in the UN/Intergovernmental Committee institutions (most UN work is done by stand alone intergovernmental committees, like UNHCR, UNICEF and so on and don't report to either the UN General Assembly or the UN Security Council) watching the buffoonery by Trump at the UN was an additional heartbreak to what we all have had to bear these last 8 months.

There are many countries that make generous contributions to the UN from Denmark, Norway to Australia, and so on. The US however has been the anchor, its membership on the governing committees is the only one that has the 'heft' to keep these agencies pointed at long term humanitarian goals.

Today we saw the US become untethered from its role as sextant to help a complicated world work together to plan a common objective. With the similarly banal abandonment of the voluntary Paris Accords the US has established a new drum beat that will appeal to the darkest natures of the craven and ambitious in every country: Everyone for themselves.

The churlish and juvenile threat to "wipe North Korea off the map" reveals a casual indifference to the loss of tens of millions of lives, not just in North Korea but also South Korea. It will not be long before not only our traditional allies abandon our common cause but we are met with unified opposition by Russia, China and all nations who see the casual tossing of nuclear weapons to be a precedent in no one's interest.

We need to establish a line, not between the factions of the Democratic Party but between Trump and all rational people, a national coalition of all people who oppose his madness, nothing else is of consequence.

The best case scenario is now a bar so low as to be incomprehensible: The best outcome is that the rest of the world responds in disgust at what is promoting. The worst case scenario is an apocalyptic horror initiated by the richest country in the world with a chip on its shoulder.

Trump's message is "The people that support the higher morality of international cooperation, understanding and mutual development are CHUMPS. It is everyone for the themselves between countries and within countries". There are deplorables in every country who will hear this clarion call for tribalism and rip their countries apart trying to advance their personal fortunes and power.

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