The G7 Meeting in Biarritz

The G7 meeting in Biarritz, France, chaired by Pres. Macron of France, was an unexpected success. Dire warnings of schisms, especially between the Europeans and Pres. Trump were issued before the Summit, but they proved unfounded. Trump was on his best behavior, his tweets were hardly mentioned.

There were two notable differences at this Summit compared to others, first there was no attempt by Pres. Macron, the host, to issue a joint communique after the event. He decided that such a statement could not be made to represent the wide-ranging and often contentious issues being considered. Second, it was the first meeting at which British PM Boris Johnson was attending, and although there was no official discussion of Brexit, it was one of the subjects discussed behind closed doors. Trump indicated that he was willing to make a good business deal with Boris. He also announced a business deal with PM Abe of Japan.

Another unusual subject discussed was the terrible extensive fires currently engulfing the Amazon rain-forest. Although Brazilian Pres, Jair Bolsonaro declared them to be an internal matter, the G7 did not agree, and they passed a resolution giving 20 million euros to Brazil to help in putting out the fires. Also, the pressure forced Bolsonaro to take action and he called out the army to help put out the fires. These actions made it clear that the Amazon forests are considered an issue of significant importance for the international environment.

Perhaps most important for the US and the international situation was the tentative agreement by Pres. Trump, at the suggestion of Pres. Macron, to signal his willingness to bring the trade war with China, and the potential conflict with Iran, to an end, by agreeing to meet with Pres. Xi of China and Pres. Rouhani of Iran. The Chinese issued a statement saying that they wanted the trade war to end in a calm atmosphere, and then Trump in his press conference pointed out that they have had numerous phone conversations with Chinese leaders and they hoped to meet soon, and this brought some calm to the international financial markets. Secondly, the FM of Iran Javad Zarif flew into Biarritz to meet with French officials in order to apparently give a message to Trump that Iran is in a dire economic strait and Rouhani is prepared to meet with Trump. Trump responded positively to this suggestion, although he will not rescind the economic sanctions before such a meeting.

So at the end things were looking up. The US is the host for the next G7 Summit and Trump indicated that he intends to invite Russia’s Putin to rejoin the group.


PS. Friends I need another 30 followers to reach 500, who can find them for me?

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Papua

Among the many places in the world where major demonstrations are continuing – Hong Kong, Sudan, Brazil – is Papua.  Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea that is part of Indonesia.   The independent state of Papua-New Guinea comprises the eastern half of the island, that was formerly a protectorate of Australia.

After the Dutch withdrew in 1963 Indonesia declared its independence and the province of Irian Jaya as it was then known was taken over and essentially coerced into joining Indonesia in 1969.  However, the people of Papua are very different from those of the majority of Indonesia, first of all they are mainly Christian while Indonesians are overwhelmingly Muslim, second they are Melanesian while the Indonesians are Asian, and thirdly they speak English and other local languages and not Indonesian as their usual languages.   As a result of these differences Papua was given special autonomous status

There has been a local independence movement for many years, but the Indonesian army has cracked down and there are reports of massacres and ethnic cleansing.  But, it is difficult to obtain information from this relatively remote and difficult to traverse mountainous region.  The central Indonesian government has tried to exert direct control over Papua but it was rejected by the Supreme Court because it contravened the autonomous status of Papua.  At present there are attempts to have local elections, and this has led to demonstrations and police and army crackdowns.  This is another region where the past has prevented peoples having self-determination.

Greenland

Of all the obscure places in the world, Greenland, the largest island in the world, is suddenly in the news.  It came up because Pres. Trump suddenly tweeted that he wanted to buy it for the USA.  Its not so absurd as it sounds and as the Danish PM said it is, after all it has the lowest population density of any country in the world with barely 60,000 people, mostly in the capital of Nuuk, that is closest to Canada.   It has incredible resources of hydroelectric power and mineral resources, much of it hard to extract because of the cold.

It was discovered by the Norwegian Vikings in the 10th century and in the Saga it was called “Green” in order to attract settlers.  Leif Erickson sailed from Greenland to Canada 500 years before Columbus “discovered” America.  Most of the population are Inuit (known to us as eskimos) and Danish settlers.  It became a Danish colony in 1814 and became autonomous (self-governing) in 2008, although it is not considered a sovereign country and is still a province of Denmark. Pres. Truman soon after WWII and amidst the Cold War was the first President to consider buying Greenland, but a large US base was established at Thule in southern Greenland and has been there ever since.

Pres. Trump was due to begin a State visit to Denmark in two weeks, but after the Danish response to his suggestion to buy Greenland, he took offense and has cancelled the visit.  This is unfortunate since Denmark has been a good ally of the US for a long time.  These imaginative ideas that Trump gets and publicizes are not so stupid, since buying Alaska from Russia turned out be a bright idea after all, not to mention the Louisiana purchase from France.  I bet they’d like to have them back.

Kashmir

I have always maintained  that the Kashmir problem is far more serious than the Palestine problem.  Kashmir is much greater in size and population and the claimants to Kashmir, India and Pakistan, both have large armies and nuclear weapons.  The current crisis was triggered when India put Kashmir under martial law and then yesterday  rescinded article 370 of the agreement between India and Kashmir that gave it special autonomous status.  This means that the limited protections Kashmir had have been cancelled and India has now taken direct control of Kashmir.  Actually India occupies about 2/3 of Kashmir, while Pakistan illegally controls about 1/3 which its army occupied in 1948 immediately following independence.   

For those not familiar with the issue, Kashmir has a largely Muslim population, but had a Hindu ruler.  Upon Indian independence in 1948 he chose to join India rather than Pakistan, as was his right, but he asked for assurances from India that Kashmiri’s rights would be protected by a special status.  That is the article 370 that has now been unilaterally rescinded by the Indian Government.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars at various times since 1948, and there have been many clashes and Islamic terrorism in Kashmir.  When the BNP Party was re-elected to rule India under PM Modi with a big majority, such a move could have been expected in Kashmir, although it took most observers by surprise.  His party has intended to make such a move for a long time, but now the time has arrived, while the US and others are distracted by the trade war with China and the problems with Iran. 

There is no doubt that in India Kashmir is seen as a legitimate part of India and they intend to make it that way.  What Pakistan will do now is unknown.  They might annex their portion of Kashmir, they might foment unrest among the Muslim population of Kashmir and they might even attack and start another war over Kashmir.  If they do there is little doubt on which side the USA and \Israel will be.  Currently Israel is selling arms to India and training its military. India is a pro-Western democracy and it will find support in the West as long as it does not itself start hostilities.   

Xinjiang, a Human Rights Travesty

Xinjiang (or Sinjiang) is a huge so-called autonomous province in the far north-west of China.  It is the province of the Uighur (or Uyghur) peoples and other minority groups.  What distinguishes this region is that the Uighurs are Muslims, consisting of about 60% of the population of 25 million or ca. 15 million people.  This religious affiliation makes it a unique region of China.  The obvious connection of this region to the silk road linking China with the Middle East and the adjoining Muslim countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kazakhstan, are elements in its Muslim identity.

Most people have never heard of Xinjiang and certainly it is an obscure and remote region.  But, what distinguishes it is not only the Muslim religion of its majority population, but the fact that the Chinese Government are currently suppressing that religious affiliation.  The BBC and a German human rights organization have done studies and have shown that after some unrest and an uprising in Xinjiang, that was characterized by bombings in its major city of Kashgar, followed by a predictable crack-down of the Chinese military, it was estimated that some 120,000 Uighurs were arrested and some were massacred.

More recently, in 2018, the Chinese authorities have embarked on an enormous and unprecedented crack-down on Muslims.  Many villages have been completely wiped out, hundreds of Mosques have been demolished and hundreds of large re-education centers have been either build or re-purposed.  The Chinese Government admits that there are many such re-education centers and states that they are voluntary, where Muslims can go to be taught the evils of Islam and the benefits of communism.  Videos have been secretly taken of the compulsory indoctrination classes that are conducted in these facilities.  It is estimated that ca. 1 million people are housed in this way.  No one knows how many have been killed.

It is interesting that China is solving its Muslim problem in this way without a peep from the Western human rights activists.  Is that because they don’t care about Muslims if they are being persecuted by the Chinese Communists (only if they are supposedly being mistreated by Israeli Jews)?  Or, is it because they really don’t care about all human rights, only certain selected and favorite groups (such as the Palestinians).   What is happening in Xinjiang is one of the largest and most outrageous cases of human rights abuses on the planet.  I have no particular concern for Uighur Muslims, but you would think that the Muslim-leftist alliance might at least show they care a little bit.

Great Things are Happening

I lose my concentration on the news for a few moments and look at the great things I miss:

  1. The G20 Summit: The G20 meeting took place in Osaka, Japan, and as usual concentrated on economic matters.  Particularly the US-China tariff stand-off took center stage.  After a meeting between Pres. Trump and Pres Xi of China, it was announced that further talks would go ahead and Trump agreed to hold off major decisions affecting Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant.
  2. Meeting with Chairman Kim: After the G20 meeting Trump flew to S, Korea for a meeting with Pres. Moon, but a tweet saying that he would be prepared to meet with N. Korean Pres. Kim resulted in a positive response from Pyongyang and lo and behold they met over the demarcation line.  It was a historic meeting with Trump being the first US president to set foot in N. Korea.  Further meetings were agreed.
  3. The Democratic Debates:  I (fortunately) missed most of the Democratic debates, each with 10 candidates.  I felt sorry for Biden , who was put on the defensive by Kemala Harris for simply saying that he had worked with two former southern segregationists.  He was only trying to show that he is able to bridge divides, but he got caught in the holier-than-thou politically correct trap used by liberal-leftists.
  4. The Ascension of Boris Johnson: It appears that Boris Johnson will be elected leader  of the Conservative Party and hence PM of the UK, replacing Theresa May.  This will be the subject of future blog posts.
  5. Hong Kong Demonstrations:  The attempt by Carrie Lam the PM of Hong Kong, to introduce legislation to transfer prisoners to mainland China for trial sparked the outbreak of another round of demonstrations in Hong Kong, that last night led to violence.  The demonstrators took over the legislative building and trashed it.  What will China do about this?

As for me I attended my great-grandson Ro’i’s third birthday party. and today I am going to pick up my new car.   Very nice.

Chaos Looms?

In the US, the prospect of chaos looms as a result of three foreign policy decisions.  First Pres. Trump quite rightly challenged China over its unfair economic practices, using tariffs to protect its industries while expecting the US and other countries to drop all tariffs under international agreements.  At first China seemed amenable, but now as it becomes more specific and US tariffs on many goods have shot up from 10% to 25% and Trump has targeted Huawei, the Chinese computer/telecommunications giant, over its sharing information with the Chinese Government, things have hotted up.  No one wants an economic war between the two largest economic powers in the world, but that is the way things are sliding.  This could mean ruin for many American and Chinese companies.  The Chinese are retaliating, but in this tariff war they are likely to lose.

In Venezuela, the US has put its support behind pseudo-President Guaido and has challenged the socialist Pres. Maduro, who has essentially ruined the whole country.  Venezuela went from being a prosperous country to being a desperately poor one, lacking food, water, medicines, electricity and all normal supplies.  Perhaps 8 million people have left the country, leaving neighboring Colombia with a serious refugee problem. But, with the support of most of the Army, Maduro was able to put down what he called “an attempted coup” and currently is in the process of arresting all opponents he can get his hands on.  The US has threatened to do something (even militarily), but what?

At the same time, the situation with Iran is hotting up, given that on the one year anniversary of the US leaving the Iran deal (JCPOA) Ayatollah Khamenei announced that unless the EU countries did something within 30 days, Iran will restart its nuclear weapons program, enriching uranium. Pres. Trump sent a large strike force to the Persian Gulf region.  As the sanctions bite on Iran it faces a hard choice, strike back or bite the bullet and retreat.   Neither seems likely.

Meanwhile in Britain, May’s time is over.  It was announced that after the next vote in the Commons on her proposal (that has essentially been defeated twice), she will resign.  She wanted to take Britain thru Brexit, but that now seems unlikely. She will stand down to allow another Conservative Party leader to emerge.  But, the Conservative Party is still as split over Brexit and it seems no one could lead it.  Further, Labor, which is just as split, will unfortunately reap the benefit of this Conservative mess.  The prospect of a hard-left Corbyn-led Labour Govt, in Britain hardly bears thinking about.  Chaos indeed!