June 11, 2013

About 124 years ago (give or take a month), the French stormed the Bastille with the cries of liberté, eqalité, fraternité . . .

Today we are left with my version of the world—naïveté, hypocriste, stupidite.

1. Cyber Wars
The president of the sole superpower in the world met with the president of China. He asked him to please, pretty please, stop spying on us. How pathetic.

Espionage is the oldest profession in the world. The Israelites sent twelve spies to the Promised Land before using the service of a prostitute, usually thought of as the oldest profession, to help conquer Jericho.

Even industrial espionage is nothing new. It is very frustrating when industrial espionage is committed by a state, but given that China’s economy is centrally planned and directed by the state, it is nothing to be surprised about.

I also understand that there is no way to retaliate directly on point, as on industrial matters, China has nothing that we would want to spy on or hack into. They do not innovate, they do not show creativity; they only do cheap copies. That is why they need to spy industrially. But to “ask” them to stop spying on us? That is laughable. There are only two things the US can do:

  • Develop better cyber protection. The government, the defense establishment, should lead the way. The government should obligate, by law, critical infrastructure and by contract, any national defense contractors to participate in these centralized enhanced protection systems against cyber-crimes. It should offer it on an elective basis to others. Thus while the U.S. cannot and should not spy on behalf of its industries, it should centralize and coordinate the defense against such spying.
  • Raise the stakes. Create leverage. The only way to get China to cease is to make it NOT worth their while to continue. I would levy 10% duty on 100% of China’s imports to the USA as a means to penalize them for such cyber attacks, and create a mechanism to increase or decrease the levy as the quantity and intensity of their cyber hacking changes up or down. This is not a mercantilist view, which usually I support strongly, but neither is cyber hacking—this is war.

Some will say that this will start a retaliatory war with China who can levy its own tariff on U.S. imports. However this is where the U.S. has the upper hand. We import $300 Billion more from China than they import from us. Thus 10% levy on Chinese imports will generate $40 Billion, while the reverse will cost only $10 Billion. The U.S. can fully compensate its exporters to China and still be left with $30 Billion to finance cyber defenses.

I am pretty sure that the combination of these two steps will cause China to materially reduce and possibly cease cyber attacks very quickly.

In most negotiations and discussions, it is force and leverage that brings results, not good deeds.

Iran
The presidential elections in Iran are taking place this Friday. Yay! I am so excited!

Rubbish. As far as the world is concerned, the results of this election are totally irrelevant. It is possible that for internal Iranian issues such as economy, education, corruption etc., the results may matter. They will not matter a hoot for the defining issue of our times—the nuclear conflict. Reading about and listening to all these pundits, starting from the Economists and concluding with GPS on CNN, one cannot but just raise one’s hands in horror. How naïve can these people be? It must be the triumph of hope versus reality and optimism versus facts. Personally I suspect that the Grand Ayatollah will make sure that whoever is defined by our media as a “hardliner” will be elected, but even if not, it does not matter. Iran is going to have a nuclear weapon unless it will be stopped militarily. There are no two ways about it.

IRS Scandal
So another week of hearings. Not a lot new except for one thing—if, as some Democrats claim, there was no targeting (or if there was, it was not political), where are the liberal groups that were subject to the same treatment as the conservative groups? We have the Inspector General of the IRS say that conservative groups were targeted; he mentioned about one hundred groups. We have twenty-five of these groups suing the IRS, and we have six of those groups appearing before the House. Please, please give me three liberal groups that can substantiate being harassed by the IRS. I will settle for two, and you know what even ONE will throw in some doubt.

But there is none. Zero. Nada. And it isn’t for lack of trying to find one such group by the Democrats or by the entire liberal establishment and progressive circles. This is THE most damning fact in this entire saga.

Turkey
Turkey supposedly is the sole democracy in the Middle Eastern Muslim world. However it seems that the esteemed Prime Minster Erdogan forgets that democracy does not mean ONLY free elections. Democracy has four pillars:

  • Free AND fair elections.
  • Free speech and free media to ensure the FAIRNESS of the elections mentioned above and hold the government’s feet to the fire.
  • Rule of law. If the legal system is stacked with your judges that do what you want blindly, that does not support democracy.
  • The rights of the minorities.

Turkey has free elections. Erdogan made sure over the last few years that they are not fair by hobbling the media. According to Freedom House, Turkey ranks 120 in the world in its press freedom (one is best). It is defined as Partly Free but with a score of 56. Partly free starts at a score of 31 and ends at 60. Turkey is VERY close to crossing the line and becoming “Not Free.” There are more journalist in prison in Turkey than in most other countries in the world, more than Iran . . . mostly for crimes that would not be considered crimes in democratic societies. As to the rights of minorities, we are seeing in front of our eyes how Erdogan treats those.

When will the Western World and the FREE western media open their eyes? When will the world understand that if it talks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is a duck and not a “reformer” or “enlightened” leader that just needs time, or that we need to give him a pass because he has challenges? I always wonder if the do-gooders in this world are naïve or simply stupid.

I guess time will tell.