Trump, Baseball and the Washington Metro: Governmental Arrogance is Not Going Away and Neither is the Revolt

It seems to be a mystery to analysts, journalists and politicians alike why the Donald Trump phenomenon exists. It is not that difficult to grasp if one looks at endless wars decided by “experts” and politicians and health care crammed down your throats with no logic and using the hated IRS to enforce the health care law.

The question ought to be: is Trump simply the beginning?

A recent event involving the Washington Nationals provides insight into why the arrogance of public officials is simply spawning the continuing revolt.

Imagine that you are a city that receives millions of dollars of revenue each year from a baseball team and that baseball team is about the play the most significant game in its life.


Not really, because the game is going to go on longer than the Washington Metro officials will allow because THAT is their policy.

The Washington star pitcher who pitched a great game in the most important game in Nats history simply articulated prior the game what any sensible citizen might ask:

“God, I would hope to believe that playoff games here in D.C. would mean more than shutting down the lines for a couple hours,” Scherzer told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on 106.7 The Fan. “I mean, isn’t it a supply-and-demand issue? We have a supply of people that demand to use the line to go to the park. Why wouldn’t you want to meet that?”

Let me explain Max.

The answer is no because that is not our policy and our policy is OUR policy and the public can go to hell because we can send them to hell because we are in CHARGE.

Metro GM Paul Wiedefeld has opposed any exceptions for special events during SafeTrack maintenance, and has already declined to make exceptions for the Redskins and Marine Corps Marathon.

Wiedefeld argues that extending the hours for one special event, such as a Nationals playoff game, would create a slippery slope.

On Wednesday morning, Wiedefeld said Metro wouldn’t extend operating hours for Thursday’s Game 5.

When this same putz was asked if that would apply to a possible World Series he said it would because it would.

No exceptions because that is OUR policy; it is not about Max’s incorrect calculation that it was about responding to the requirements of the citizens.

I was at the game and when the announcer indicated that Metro was soon closing and it was only the 7th inning in what was to be an historic game, the entire stadium rocked with boos and verbal abuse of the Metro leadership.

DC had come together in opposition to the arrogance of the Metro officials and they blindness to common sense.

And when we reached the streets after the game, chaos was evident but some reason at two in the morning metro police were standing by their vehicles watching people mill around but it was not clear even why they were there other than collecting a paycheck to not meet the needs of citizens.

That explains Donald Trump more than anything.



Will the Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC) Become Obsolete by 2018?

North Korea’s latest nuclear test (Sept. 9, 2016) and their growing thermonuclear and ICBM capable of reaching North America as early as 2020 materially altered many assumptions behind Canadian defense policy.

Emerging threats like ICBMs and strategic cruise missiles tipped with credible thermonuclear warheads will become major threats to Canada by the time Canadian Surface Combatants (CSCs) enter service.    Canada will need ballistic and cruise missile defenses to deter states like North Korea.   Shore based ABM systems will not be sufficient if the threat will evolve into submarine launched missiles.

Likewise, at the low end, anti-access and area denial threats that are cheap and proliferating raise questions as to the cost to defeat them.   Low end threats require renewed attention to low cost, deep magazine counters like lasers that are presently being tested and will probably be required for the CSC fleet as it evolves with new technologies onboard the ships.

The government announced in June, 2016 that their current approach is to buy an “off-the-shelf” design for the Canadian Surface Combatant Program and modify it to save time and money.

Will the existing designs under consideration be capable and upgradeable to deal with threats and mission profiles expected in their lifetime both at the high and low end?

Will these ships be built in such a way that they can accommodate new, lower cost operational concepts which will evolve over the lifetime of the surface combatants?

Critical to an anti-ballistic missile role by 2025 will be tight integration with NORAD systems and sensors applying a combat cloud concept.   This enables many platforms to cue missiles on the CSC with Cooperative Engagement Capability.

On board the CSC, having the space and capability to fit radars optimized for air and missile defense like AN/SPY-6 tightly integrated with Aegis BMD Systems will be necessary.   Similarly, adequate future electrical supply and storage for direct energy weapons and electronic or tron warfare will be a consideration.

Rogue states like North Korea will foreseeably develop the capability simultaneously to fire volleys of missiles, some with dummy warheads and penetration aids to increase the likelihood of their warheads reaching target.   This places a premium on vessels with large Vertical Launch magazines that are compatible with expected upgrades in missiles.

Inventories of missiles are expensive to maintain in peacetime, and subject to wear and aging at sea leading to many vessels sailing with partially filled magazines.   Moreover, inventories of missiles obsolete rapidly and require frequent updates as the threats are better understood.   Hardware updates are difficult to do with deployed missiles.

A critical issue for the CSC candidates will be whether the platform ties Canada to a particular VLS missile supplier and the versatility of the VLS launchers.   The capability of the supplier to supply missiles from inventory as needed, continuously update and upgrade them to deal with the latest threats are a concern. VLS missiles are typically too heavy to be air freighted and need to be transported by sea.   This is a major consideration for wartime resupply.

Replenishment of stores and fuel at sea is a well-practiced routine in NATO navies.   Replenishment or resupply of VLS underway replenishment, on the other hand, is not well developed.   Reloading VLS cells presently require heavy equipment, specialized crews and munition facilities at industrially robust ports.

Underway replenishment of VLS cells is probably not doable in the foreseeable future, but forward VLS reloading with a specialized vessel is practical with existing technologies.   Teamed with the capability for at-sea hardware upgrades of missiles, it is a force multiplier for the CSC fleet.

Will at-sea VLS re-arming figure prominently in the requirements?

Given Canada’s vast territory with few major ports, and extremes of climate, this can potentially become a capability where Canada can excel in.     Canada does not have a program for a specialized vessel with this capability.   Such a vessel, if developed, will likely find a ready market abroad providing that the CSC VLS system is not a niche product.

Finally, there is the question of how Canada would field an anti-ballistic missile deterrent by 2020 and the time when the CSCs are scheduled to come into service.  An interim capability may be required that cannot be met via upgrading the existing Canadian fleet.   Acquiring an interim capability that plug the gap and give more time for technologies to mature and craft a clean-sheet design based on 2018 requirements may be a lower lifecycle cost alternative to the modified “off-the-shelf” option.

Canadians are complacent about threats to the homeland because we have been safely sheltered under the US nuclear umbrella for a half century.

That is no longer the case in the second nuclear age with many new and emerging nuclear weapons powers like North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, etc. that challenge the status quo.

Canadians have to do their part in anti-ballistic missile defense and deterrence and buying the right kind of surface ship can provide a foundation to do so.

That may not be possible in the penny-pinching style dating from the end of the cold war.

It is not about buying an “off-the shelf” ship; it is building a surface combatant that is upgradeable through out its life to contribute to deterrence and defense of Canada.

Danny Lam is an independent analyst based in Calgary.

Rebuilding the Inner Cities: The Case for Charter Schools as the Engine for the Transformation of Philadelphia.

The 2016 Presidential Campaign provides a pair of diametrically opposed choices for American voters regarding the future of their deteriorating cities.

On the one hand is Hillary Clinton, using the tried and true historically discredited Democrat model dating back to her formative years. With much media hype for decades a policy of good intentions with cascading promises, with the total disregard of basic economics while believing in the transforming power of wishful thinking has been a Media/Democrat partnership.

As Donald Trump has astutely pointed out, “words just words” has been the cover story for an economic  model of epic failure for most of America’s inner cities. —Hillary Clinton has learned to execute the ultimate political conjuring trick from her warm embrace of the extreme left, words over actions –a perennial political gift that keeps on giving.

It is the old made new: the LBJ Vietnam escalation policy applied to the domestic scene in the declining hope of finally creating LBJ’s vision of a shining Great Society: More federal welfare money, more crime prevention money, more failing schools money, more failed housing money, more gun confiscation money, more federal money thrown everywhere to finally redeem the failed promises of Hillary Clinton’s youth.

On the other hand the voter has been given an unlikely vision for the renaissance of American cities from an unlikely but real agent of change:

Donald J. Trump, a hugely successful urban developer with no seeming political experience proposing a totally new deal for our inner cities combining private and public monies to redeem and reform those cities, and he mentions using  charter schools as the jump starter for his multifaceted vision of that transformation.

Philadelphia is the ideal model for Trump’s vision, and already has the ideal charter school to start that transformation.

A critical choice revolves around whether or not inner cities can be rebuilt.  So innovation and creativity is a necessity for action not words. With the US debt load hanging over the budget and constraining government action, there is little doubt that mobilizing private capital is a critical necessity.

The Trump campaign has focused on the need to do so, but the viability of mobilizing private capital for the task of rebuilding the inner cities is not just a pipe dream. In Philadelphia building real hope from a great tragedy there is already a success evidenced by such an approach.

Charter schools in Philadelphia have provided a paradigm shift in which the private sector not only delivers a competing and often better quality product to the citizen but does so by providing a completive measure of success for government provided services.

Charter Schools are win win for everyone, notably the students and parents of inner city Philadelphia.

Recently, we discussed this subject with John A. “Jack” Shaw, a very senior federal government official supporting Donald Trump with experience in four White Houses. Shaw, however, brings a unique heritage to not just his National Security professional career in supporting Donald Trump, we asked him why Philadelphia and Charter Schools?

His grandfather was the political boss of Philadelphia for two or three decades in the first half of the twentieth century when it was run by a Republican machine. Since Democrats Joseph Clark and Richardson Dilworth brought reform and transformation to the city in 1950 a decade of reform sadly gave way to over a half century of one party Democrat machine rule which remains in place today.

Shaw’s forty years in politics took place in Maryland where he was a major player in GOP circles, and state campaign chairman in 1979, and in Washington but he never lost sight of his Philadelphia city roots.

Question: The innovations that are happening today in Philadelphia are really a case study of a broader opportunity of shifting from the older government-directed Washington model of putting money up against problems versus a private investment approach that’s generating real money to go after the challenges.

There are promises that are often made by candidates that they will invest money when there is no money versus a more innovative approach, which can generate new ways of thinking about how to generate private capital to address the kind of public problems that we have.

The inner city schools in Philadelphia are certainly a case in point, the charter schools being examples. Talk a little bit about the general problem and how charter schools are really a kind of example of an innovative approach of taking private capital and generating new opportunities for the citizens of Philadelphia.

Jack Shaw: In Philadelphia we have probably the best example in the country of the way in which the problems of the inner city created the opportunity for a charter school to transform the culture in ways that went well beyond education.

My friend Russell Byers was a Kennedy-esque prince of a guy who had become a fixture in Philadelphia reform going across party lines, and might have even become Mayor if he had not been murdered in front of his wife picking up ice cream at a 7/11 after dinner in 1991.

I first met Russell Byers in 1973 in Philadelphia when he was the young staff professional running the Greater Philadelphia Movement, a group of business leaders, mainly Republican, looking for ways to transform the city.

When Jerry Ford became president we both were assistants to senior people at the White House, and plotted to get great things done to bring sweeping change to the newly formed presidency and administration. We even shared a Georgetown house together at one point. He wanted to go back to Philadelphia where his wife Laurada still lived and had begun a career in developing major projects for the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel and generally playing an alter ego to Russell in his Philadelphia promotional inspirations.

Washington he said was a place where “he” could do interesting things, but Philadelphia was where “they could do great things together”. And so it turned when the President made him Director of the HUD (Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) Region III office, which included Philadelphia and most of Pennsylvania   and New Jersey. Russell spent a very productive year and a half not only promoting administration goals and also getting his close friend from Pittsburgh days, John Heinz, elected to the US Senate.

When the Ford Administration ended, over the next fifteen years Russell and Laurada Byers became a thoughtful and innovative team pursuing interesting Philadelphia oriented business and cultural development projects.

Russell was very smart and morphed into a crusading journalist for the Philadelphia Daily News. As a journalist Russell Byers worked to create a bipartisan way to real change for the good in Philadelphia.

Setting aside his reporting he ran Sam Katz’s campaign against the Democrat candidate for mayor. When the GOP candidate lost, Russell wrote to his opponent and asked how they could work together.

Laurada Byers has proven by her actions to develop a network of imaginatively innovative private efforts which helped promote the Russell Byers Charter School’s mission in transformation of the Philadelphia scene. It is tailor made for the Trump inspiration.

Laurada and many more like her around America in our inner cities have nurtured the private/public partnership that Donald Trump is proposing to create in the inner cities.

She and Russell’s children contributed the Mellon money from Pittsburgh that floated the school which was inherited from the children’s late mother.

You need to have somebody who has a history of making this happen independently of federal monies to generate real change. She has done this now on a smaller scale for so long that I literally can’t remember when it started. The Russell Byers School has been so imaginative and so effective that she has become the natural leader for Philadelphia in this remarkably successful education effort.

Donald Trump and his family have focused on the need to generate and amplify the availability of private monies to rebuild the inner cities with real and improved education and everything else that goes along with it. In fact his entrepreneurial daughter Ivanka helped forge the childcare element of his platform.

The Russell Byers Charter School is making Philadelphia into a poster child for such an effort; and building upon its remarkable success in Philadelphia could be the trigger for citywide change.

For the first time in many Presidential Campaign Donald Trump has offered a genuine choice for either more of the same or “what do you have to lose—Laurada Byers has proven she is a bi-partisan consensus builder engaging the political establishment of the city of Philadelphia.

There is really no alternative which will work.

The alternative is simply to continue the classic government “investment” approach and with a debt ridden government structure the money is not there.

And more to the point, the private investments and engagement is a key driver for the kind of innovation necessary to rebuild inner cities and bring education levels up and with it jobs and enhanced security.

It is not about abstractly debating about one’s values; it is getting on with real results for the new generation, and to give them a stake in society and becoming more productive citizens.

It is imperative to shape an approach where private sector capital can be mobilized, and that will not happen without the prospect for real results and creating a secure climate within which investment can attracted and secured.

It is not simply about giving up on the inner cities like Philadelphia and Detroit; it is about bringing results, education and jobs where real people live.  It is not about idle promises of government investments that are neither there nor directed at solving problems with the direct engagement of the citizens.

This is why the Trump campaign is a movement, not a classic political contest. If anybody argues to me that Donald Trump can not generate X millions of dollars of private money to improve the inner cities, I would simply look at his business record.

Nobody has ever offered Philadelphia this sort of thing before.

The end result is that we could have a situation where there is a real opportunity for Philadelphia to take what has been done to date and build on it. This will begin with private money. Ultimately public money at could conjoin with it when the direction and effects are clear.

It is not just about dumping money at a problem; it is identifying clear successes and building upon them. And that can only happen with the direct participation of the local citizens.

The only possibility of Philadelphia becoming a launching pad for something in the inner cities is Donald Trump. His promises about charter schools and the transformation of the inner cities are the best hope for Philadelphia—and the county.

About the Russell Byers Charter School:

The Russell Byers Charter School is a public elementary school located in Center City, Philadelphia, with over 485 students from 43 neighborhoods. We offer 4K (Kindergarten for 4-year-olds) through 6th Grade, a student/teacher ratio of 13:1, and an innovative hands-on academic program, Expeditionary Learning.

 Located in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia in our spacious building at 1911 Arch Street, the school reflects Russell Byers‘ values of academic excellence, civic responsibility and community service. The Russell Byers Charter School is a learning community, built on the structures and principles of its educational model: Expeditionary Learning. In the Russell Byers community, students learn by doing. Academic goals are linked to adventure, service work, teamwork, and character development. And education becomes a partnership between student and teacher, as supported by enlightened school leadership and committed parents.

This partnership is key to the school’s overarching goal: empowering students to take responsibility for their own education. At RBCS, students are on a journey of self-discovery and knowledge acquisition, and teachers provide guidance for this journey, drawing on experience, compassion, and respect for diverse learning styles, backgrounds, and needs.

Used in more than 160 schools nationwide, EL is both rigorous and fun! Our students learn by doing, spending up to 12 weeks studying a single topic both inside and outside the classroom where their natural curiosity can flourish. The students pursue their studies at many of the city’s nearby cultural treasures, including the Franklin Institute, the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Free Library—all within walking distance of the school.

Using the EL model, students are supported in developing new skills and achieving mastery of them. As their confidence grows, so does their natural curiosity—and their desire to try more complex assignments. This active engagement holds students’ interest in the classroom and over time, enables an even more important development: it changes their way of being in the world. It turns them into lifelong learners, ever-capable of taking on a challenge.


Trump, Climate Change: Shaping a Way Ahead

Climate change is one of the most contentious issues that divide Secretary Clinton and Donald J. Trump.

Secretary Clinton supports “clean” and “renewable” energy to cut GHGs by 30% from 2005 levels by 2025.   Specifically, she called for “half a billion solar panels installed” by 2020, conservation and reduction of oil consumption.

Mr Trump’s platform does not list Environment as a separate issue, but place it under Energy. His statements on the issue varied considerably.

It is fair to say that the choice is between “more of the same” from Secretary Clinton vs. Mr Trump’s wild card.  

A lot will depend on what Mr Trump decides to do after he is briefed.

What do the past track records of newly elected US Presidents tell us?

Every President since the Kyoto Protocol has signed onto the Climate Change agenda regardless of what was said during the campaign. Opposition to climate change in Congress was bypassed under successive Administrations Democrat or Republican.

Executive fiat in 2009 by the Obama Administration designated Greenhouse Gases like CO2 as a pollutant to enable it to be regulated under the 1970s era Clean Air Act.

In order for Mr Trump to do something different, he would have to break from US policy since the 1970s that are strongly supported by the public.

Few Americans support a return to the smoggy past of before EPA that would turn the US into Chinese cities today.     Since that time, the evidence that climate change is likely to cause substantial impacts including sea level rises that directly impact the US and bases abroad, national security challenges like an ice free Arctic, have accumulated.

Despite sustained opposition in Congress, DoD have documented national security challenges from climate change.

This suggest that Mr Trump will, reluctantly, fall in line with Administration policy.

Suppose that happens.

During the first Presidential debate, Mr Trump expressed dismay at past “clean” energy efforts have resulted in investments in solar panel manufacturers that failed and cost the US money.

Climate change got a passing mention during the second debate, and only from Hillary Clinton.

Mr Trump is on record as being concerned with the cost of “renewable” and “clean” energy.   If Mr Trump is going to act on reducing GHGs, he will be asking questions expected from a prudent businessman:  How much will each option cost? What are cost / benefits? Returns on investment? Metrics to measure performance?

Mr Trump, as with Secretary Clinton, will turn to NREL for advice.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the world’s leader in conceptualizing and understanding the parameters and limitations of renewable energy.

NREL crafted a framework where renewable resources like wind, solar, are converted to technical potential, and then further reduced by economic and market constraints.

NREL’s estimates suggest that the economic potential of “renewables” range from 1/3 of current electricity demand of ~4100TWh (2013) to 10 times that number, with a primary (2020) case estimate of 1,500-2000 TWh of demand that can be met by renewables.

Economic potential, however is not market potential.

Market potential need to consider competition with other sources of energy, transitional costs, policy and regulatory impacts and investor calculations.

Mr Trump will add to these perspective considerations for American jobs; and, ask tough questions of whether there is a business case for “renewables”.

NREL pioneered the idea of harmonization of lifecycle assessments of energy technologies so as to gain a perspective on their environmental impacts tracking “all material, energy, and pollutant flows of a system—from raw material extraction, manufacturing, transport, and construction to operation and end-of-life disposal.”

This is critical for assessment of technologies like solar panels that Secretary Clinton so confidently advocate as the vast majority of solar panels are manufactured in China with coal fired electricity that result in substantial “up front” emissions of GHGs.

Mr Trump will likely pick up on the shortcomings of the NREL approach, which says little about the transitional costs to move from one existing infrastructure built on traditional primary fuels like natural gas, coal, hydro, etc. to “renewables” like solar and wind that presently have little infrastructure, and have to be mated to an electric grid that is not designed around intermittent, low gradient power. Trump will find it difficult to stomach the incremental costs involved in solar and wind.

Particularly, he will be aghast at the so called “grid parity” claim that greatly understate both the cost of providing solar and wind power by not (or under) counting the cost of energy storage, throttable power provided by traditional sources like hydro, natural gas, or diesel generators that is necessary to compensate for their intermittency.

Mr Trump will likely be a tough sell for the Clinton style commitment to renewable energy at substantial costs to consumers or taxpayers.   While it is more likely than not that Mr Trump will sign onto the climate change agenda, and at least in the short run, continue with existing Administration policies aimed at incremental cuts in GHGs.

Mr. Trump will not be satisfied with the performance of existing GHG mitigation strategies and he will be on the lookout for unconventional, innovative, and game changing ways to simultaneously slash GHGs and yet reduce costs.

Some of these approaches will be outlined in future articles.

Danny Lam is an independent analyst based in Calgary.


President Hilary Rodham (Clinton): How Much Continuity with Bill Clinton’s Style and Substance?

I was a political appointee in President Bill Clinton’s first term. I worked on national security issues involving nuclear weapons. My own professional approach towards arms control is that it is NEVER an end in of itself; but inextricably intertwined with defense planning and modernization. Arms control is useful when is supports defense credibility; it is not a substitute.

I wrote a back with Dale Herspring, then of the Department of State which argued in detail how strategic arms control with the Soviets made sense as long as it helped ensure the credibility of deterrence; it was never a separate priesthood, which arms control has now become.

The Iran “deal” is the culmination of the arms control priesthood focusing on negotiation to meet their objectives; not viable defense.

In fact, in my view the Iran “deal” is more a negotiate and surrender strategy than it is about pressuring Iran and reinforcing ours and our allied defense.

There has never been a deal more likely to drive allies towards the possession of nuclear weapons than this one.

Where are the US nuclear weapons USEABLE against Iran that allies can count on?

Yet this is what Hillary Rodham (Clinton) cites as the way ahead for US national security policy.

Let us go back to Bill Clinton and his initial reaction. Bill Clinton was part of the Democratic Leadership Council, a political effort which was a key contributor to his possibility of even being the President.

The DLC was a group of prominent CONSERVATIVE Democrats who focused on national defense and law and order.

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) was a non-profit 501(c)(4) corporation[1] founded in 1985 that, upon its formation, argued the United States Democratic Party should shift away from the leftward turn it took in the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The DLC hailed President Bill Clinton as proof of the viability of Third Way politicians and as a DLC success story.

Hillary Rodham (Clinton) shows little of the DLC thinking and in fact the migration of the DLC to “Rodhamism” demonstrates the shift from a conservative security agenda to what liberals call a “progressive” policy agenda.

As for decision-making style, there could not be a sharper break from Bill Clinton to Hillary Rodham (Clinton). Whatever Bill Clinton’s problems, he always reached out to the broader body politic.

He was a master of the policy seminar and a man who clearly could listen.

When then “First Lady” Clinton entered the policy arenas she took on health care reform and worked the policy in an authoritarian manner hardly reminiscent of the President.


Jan. 22, 1993: President Clinton chooses wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to lead health reform effort.

Even before President Clinton selected his wife to head up the health reform effort, there was overwhelming public skepticism of her role in the administration. Soon after her selection, an ABC News poll found that 44% of respondents thought that there were more qualified candidates to head up the effort. An editorial in the Boston Globe captured the sentiment of the times: “Here we go! Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ira Magaziner have elbowed aside some of the most experienced health care economists in the world to form a little task force at the pinnacle of the administration to fix the American health care system themselves.”

April 5, 1993: ‘Sketch’y reform plans

In a speech at a Families USA forum, White House adviser Ira Magaziner “sketch[ed] an early blueprint of the overall plan” the White House health reform health task force was developing. Magaziner “[told the group] that the … plan probably will mandate a minimum benefits package and care guidelines for all Americans, but will leave it to the states to decide how to meet those national standards.” The speech was indicative of the secrecy in which the elements of the overhaul plan came together. 

May 3, 1993: Telling it to Republicans
Hillary Clinton hosts a two-and-a-half-hour meeting with about 52 senators from both parties, hoping to convey that the administration was willing to consult with Republicans on a reform plan. However, during the meeting, Clinton and White House advisers Magaziner and Judy Feder again “sketched out” the administration’s proposals, compromising both transparency and their efforts to include the GOP. Almost a month after Magaziner offered few details on the administration’s plan, Clinton and Magaziner could offer no more details. 

June 11, 1993: A spoonful of sugar

Hillary Clinton attends the centennial celebration of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, during which she discusses the administration’s health reform plans with nearly 600 doctors. Many observers say that the speech was a smart move by President Clinton, in that the situation needed a softer hand. 

Sept. 21, 1993: Prof. Hillary Teaches at Health Care U.

Hillary Clinton holds an “unusual” bipartisan briefing to discuss reform, inviting more than 300 lawmakers from both chambers. It is an early misstep for Hillary Clinton — who was seen by many as having little to no experience with health policy — because in attendance are many lawmakers who have spent their entire careers attempting to reform the health care system. 

Oct. 14, 1993: ‘Harry & Louise’ versus Hillary

The now famous television advertisements featuring a man and a woman discussing the Clintons’ health reform plan are widely credited with doing major damage to the administration’s health reform efforts. 

Sept. 27, 1994: Failure to coalesce

Many observers noted that instead of coming together around the plan developed by Hillary Clinton and White House staffers, Democrats instead offered up a number of alternative proposals. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine) declared the last of such plans dead — and along with it, the Clintons’ reform efforts — in September 1994.

One can expect more from President Hillary (Rodham) Clinton across the board.

Get ready for the Professor.

Then there is the question of whether he demonstrated day-to-day approach to policy will in any way deal with the significant strategic discontinuities facing the US in the world today.

One of the most famous lines of Gone With the Wind spoken by Scarlett O’Hara is a good statement of what President Hillary (Rodham) Clinton is likely to do with regard to strategic planning:

“I can’t think about that right now.

If I do, I’ll go crazy.

I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

Her tenure at the Department of State showed that approach in spades. Take the Libyan adventure and her leading the President into a situation which he later referred to as a “turd sandwich.” There is a direct line from the incomplete and incompetent Libyan intervention to Bengahazi (which happens to be in Libya) to the emplacement by terrorists of bases in Libya.

Yet intervening to create a power vacuum and then go on to more important and pressing global events is hardly the hallmark of Bill Clinton, who clearly led a concerted effort to deal with the Bosnian War and the serbs.

Just let me be clear: If you vote for Hillary (Rodham) Clinton, she is NOT Bill Clinton and this will be strikingly clear when she acts as Commander in Chief.

There certainly are the hangers on from the political class who will serve in both Administrations, but it is about the strategic direction of the Administration I am focused upon.

Aides always delude themselves with how important they are; but no aide, no consultant is the real decision maker.





How Many Chinese Nuclear Warheads Dance on the Head of a Pin?

Intelligence assessments have a long history of being wrong.

The CIA estimated that the Soviet Economy was 60% the size of the US economy in 1988, with military expenditures 12% of GDP.

Andrew Marshall, working out of his cave like office in the Pentagon, assessed the Soviet economy as 1/3 to 1/4 the size of the US, and defense expenditures at 30-35%GDP.

Analysts at the CIA and other government agencies, armed with the best classified information, high tech intelligence collection data, somehow, failed to catch their own error until it became obvious.

As a result, a generation of American policy makers towards the Soviets was misled.

Few intelligence estimates are as controversial as estimates of the size and nature of Chinese nuclear forces.  

China is estimated to have about 240-260 nuclear warheads.   This strikingly low number was challenged by Dr Phillip Karber in 2011, who working with students at George Washington University using open sources, showed evidence of a much larger arsenal.

The priesthood of Chinese nuclear experts descended on Dr Karber with ferocity normally associated with critics of Donald J. Trump during this election cycle.

Revisiting the issue in 2016 with the benefit of hindsight, independent western estimates of China’s nuclear arsenal changed very slowly.

Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, the reigning high priests of counting nuclear arsenals at the Federation of American Scientists, presented figures in 2015 that showed China with an arsenal of 240 warheads as of 2010. Their detailed data showed that China had 205 warheads as of 1980, and incredibly, only increased from 240 to 260 between 2009 and July 1, 2016.

Both Kristensen and Norris parrot the People’s Daily line that “there is no sign that the Chinese government has officially diverted from its no-first-use nuclear policy”.

At one time, circa, 2000, China had a very conservative nuclear strategy of minimal deterrent where relatively few silo based, liquid fueled ballistic missiles kept at low levels of readiness, with warheads stored separately from the launchers: posture for a retaliatory force. But the question is what happened since:   particularly post Sichuan earthquake in 2008?

The epicenter of the quake was at the heart of China’s nuclear weapons installations, and there are hints that a significant amount of the silo based nuclear deterrent was at least, temporarily knocked out by the quake, as well as large numbers of hidden underground nuclear facilities sustained serious damage.

What is not in dispute is that many of the “science project” alternatives to the silo based nuclear deterrents like the Jin class submarines, road and rail mobile missiles, MIRVs, hypersonic glide vehicles, nuclear capable bombers and cruise missiles, etc. development and deployment accelerated after Sichuan.

Previously, the Type 092 (Xia class) SSBN that entered active service in 1987 after languishing for nearly a decade in construction and testing hardly ever sailed was very much a science project.

Contrast that with the production ramp of Type 094 (Jin class) submarines.   There were only 2 in 2007, rising to 3 in 2013, and now 4 with additional ones under construction.

It is reasonable to presume that they have improved from the first crude designs and the PLAN is not building a fleet of 8 or more SSBNs as a full employment project. Or that they have no intention of fitting out the subs with live missiles.

Complementing the land based missile deterrent with a sea based deterrent is the rapid pace of growth in mobile missiles, MIRV of existing launcher platforms, and the extensive investment in space capabilities that can readily be turned into a space based nuclear weapons capability.

Despite the substantial increase in the numbers of platforms and launchers, there has been no material increase in the estimate of the size of the Chinese arsenal except in speculative estimates that marginally raise the count to 500 warheads.   A raw estimate based on launcher unit growth, MIRVing, and the need for warheads held in reserve for maintenance, servicing, etc. would suggest a count much higher than 260 and well beyond 500.

The Pentagon, wisely, ceased to issue estimates.

Assessments of the Chinese nuclear deterrent can no longer rely on the silvery tongue of their diplomats speaking of “no first use” policies, or the previous policy of storing warheads separately from launchers which cannot possibly be the case for their sea based SSBNs or mobile ICMBs.

As a nuclear weapons power, China today must be treated as at least as dangerous as the Soviets in the late 1970s, or more so because of the strength of the Chinese economy.

Indeed, given the rapid build up of Chinese nuclear weapons, is it even appropriate to call it a deterrent?

Russian and Chinese calculations of the size of the US nuclear deterrent need to consider the arsenals held by NATO and other allies like Israel.

In terms of understanding the size of the Chinese deterrent, shouldn’t the nuclear arsenals of their buffer states like North Korean and Pakistan, both of whom became nuclear armed with substantial Chinese support, be counted?

Indeed, shouldn’t these Chinese allies explicit first use threats be taken seriously?

With allies making these threats, do China really need a first use or hair trigger policy when they can count on their more belligerent allies to act first?

The Chinese nuclear arsenal was ignored or dismissed since the 1960s as irrelevant except in defense and as a minimal deterrent.   That is no longer the case.

Chinese nuclear and conventional weapons capabilities can no longer remain a mystery without the US and Russia embarking on the preparation for “worst case” scenarios that include highly destabilizing options.

The Priesthood of Arms Control has willfully turned a blind eye to the growing threat from China’s burgeoning arsenal and rapidly ramping capabilities, or to their history of systematic encouragement and aid to belligerent allies acquiring and opening threatening others with nuclear weapons.

Moreover, there is little or no concern or discussion about the lack of interest by China to participate in Arms Control Regimes.

In the process, the Priesthood has made the world a more dangerous place with their underestimates no different from when the CIA overestimated the Soviets.

The Chinese and their allies like North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran have grown from being a limited threat to a bona fide major threat that other powers must respond to.

The next Administration needs to consider the consequences of not bringing China and their de facto subsidiaries into Arms Control Regimes that have some credible means of verification.

It may be the last chance before military options are seriously considered.

Nuclear war is too dangerous to risk.

Professor Bracken slyly observed, “We got lucky” last time.  

We may not be so lucky this time around.

Danny Lam is an independent analyst based in Calgary.

The Next Administration and the China Foreign Policy Conundrum

Ever since Marco Polo, China experts command a field of expertise that required extensive study of a tonal language and memorization of a complex set of characters.   These are sizable barriers that for centuries, fostered the establishment of and then institutionalization of a priesthood of experts that were able to act as the “link” between the Chinese civilization and the west.

Jesuits under Father Matteo Ricci made breakthroughs including learning the language, publishing the first Portuguese-Chinese dictionary, and ultimately, became the first foreigner to attend the Ming Court.

The skill that Father Ricci demonstrated in mathematics, astronomy, and language that earned him a place in the Ming Court also was instrumental in his efforts to Sinify Christianity that facilitated its adoption by Chinese.

It also made Father Ricci enemies of Dominicans and Franciscans that felt he went too far.

The basic outline of this story was more or less repeated right up to the present day by “China experts”.

US Foreign policy in general, and foreign relations with China, is tightly controlled by a small cadre of experts who largely share a common perspective, outlook, and assumptions.   While most China (or area experts) has linguistic skills, experts like Dr Henry Kissinger that was instrumental in the “re-opening” of China have earned themselves a place with the modern equivalent of the Imperial Court.

When Newt Gringrich stepped out of line upon becoming Speaker of the House in 1995, no less than Dr Henry Kissinger, who was in Beijing at the time, telephoned Mr Gringrich to lecture him on China policy.   Newt backed down very quickly.

The power of the priesthood and their grip on US Foreign policy was revealed.

Priesthoods have power because they are recognized experts that have been proven over time.   It is instructive to look at the core assumptions of the priesthood in eras past, and how their consensus have led them astray, and how might similar assumptions may be leading the present “China experts” astray.

A core premise and assumption of the “China Experts” is that government in China is very much like the Western model.   A central authority that exercise power no differently in Washington and Beijing.   Regimes may come and go, it may divide (via secession in the Western model), or unite (e.g. Federate like the US or via expansion of Empire), and continuity of government or institutions is a strongly held value.

Derived from these core assumptions are the importance of dealing with the Emperor of China, which in the modern era, translated into the leaders of the Chinese Republics.   The edicts of the Emperor or Head of Government in China are presumed to have the same full faith and credit as that of a US Federal Law enacted by Congress and signed by the President.

Few China experts challenged this basic consensus except for the late MIT Professor Lucian W. Pye.

Professor Lucian W. Pye in Asian Power and Politics observed that power in the western sense is but one manifestation of power.   He argued that there are actually a variety of expressions of power in Asia.

The Chinese, according to Professor Pye, conceive power comes from above from the persona of the top leader.   Contrast this with western notions that legitimacy flow from below (the people) to the sovereign.

All other powers outside of the Chinese state official hierarchy is in a state of semi-illegitimacy except for loyalty to family and clan. The Emperor is a benevolent Chinese father who have to care for all their children (provinces) treating each child equally with none favored. No challenge to the central authority is tolerated.

The central authority acquires their legitimacy in the past from access to the supernatural (because the Emperor is responsible for the “rites”), and in modern times, by access to the ideological orthodoxy of Marxism-Leninism-Mao TseTung-Deng XiaoPing thought and promoting economic growth post-Deng.

Professor Pye’s work based on a lifetime of fieldwork in Asia was so jarring and unsettling to the China Experts that his works were largely ignored.

The convergence of Chinese authority’s preference for being seen as the omni competent, omnipotent authority with western “China experts” produced an interesting monoculture that fed on itself.

Historically, the small handful of “China experts” are easily taken captive, first by the Imperial Chinese Court, and now the modern Chinese Republics with privileges, be it access to top leaders, money, prestige, liquor, women, research for academics, etc.

Conversely, the western “China experts” find it easy to lose their sense of objectivity and increasingly blur the line between objective analysis or scholarly research and propagandizing for their Chinese friends in high places.

“China experts” that stepped out of line of their handlers from China find their access and privileges cut, and a lifetime investment in understanding China destroyed.

Just how far can the perspective of “China Experts” diverge from reality?

Few today remember how enthralled Americans were with the Christian Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Sek, who was a weak leader that struggled to establish authority for his “Republic of China” (ROC) that was repeatedly defeated by the Japanese, and then, in turn, defeated by the “bandits”.

The “China Experts” of that era systematically failed to recognize, accurately report and anticipate the consequences of the US supporting a nearly failed state (ROC) and its lack of legitimacy even as it’s crumbling edifice collapsed.

Nor recognized and attempting to head off the strategic consequences of the communist victory – the consequences of which we are dealing with today.

Had the failure by “China Experts” with the ROC been a one off event, it would teach no lessons.

But virtually the identical story was played out in the 19th Century when the Ching Dynasty established by the ethnic Manchu faced a major rebellion from southern China: The Taiping Rebellion was the largest and most dangerous of a series of rebellions that shook the foundations of the Manchu Empire that cost a half million combatant casualties and perhaps 20 million or more civilian deaths.

A conflict comparable in scale to World War I in Europe.

The impact of Western Intervention in the Taiping Rebellion in favor of the Manchu Empire can be debated, but it is established fact that Western Powers did intervene in favor of the Ching Empire, when western interests would have been better served by sitting it out, or, perhaps, intervening in favor of the insurgency.

In the 21st Century, the grip of the “China Experts” have been substantially loosened by the large numbers of non-Chinese that have become proficient in at least one of the Chinese languages.

In parallel with large scale migration of Chinese abroad, there are now large Chinese linguistic communities abroad that in the age of the internet, enable the monopoly power of “China Experts” to be diluted.

“China Experts” are no longer the sole access to expert knowledge via their contacts in Beijing.

The explosion of development of the coastal Chinese economies and their engagement and integration into the global economy that turned a formerly insular regime for much of the 20th Century into a cosmopolitan, wealthy, and diverse community.

With this explosion of wealth and personal freedom, inevitable differences in language, culture, caused by “A civilization trying to fit within the confines of a nation-state” (Pye) becomes amplified and brought to the fore.

China of the 21st Century is recovering its diversity reminiscent of the 17th Century before the Chings crumbled.

Despite the growing importance of local authorities in China, “China experts” have been slow to catch on.

Conflicts with China are still primarily seen as issues to be dealt with between Washington and Beijing, with little consideration of the dynamics and local politics in the local areas concerned.

Few “China Experts” are conversant in anything else but the “official language” of puotunghua, depriving them of the ability to claim privileged access at the local level where the so called puotunghua is not the lingua fraca.

US policy makers have little visibility as to the thought process, opportunities and constraints faced by local authorities in Southern China, or South East China, or Western China and how these might factor into Official Beijing’s decision making process.

Few “China Experts” or policy makers ask the question as to just how much usable power do Beijing have over, e.g. Guangdong Region on the South China Sea issue?

Or how much clout does Beijing has over Liaoning Province on the North Korean problem.

Yet, these are the questions that must be asked by the incoming Administration in order to formulate a new foreign policy toward this vast civilization that slowly, but surely, are facing centripetal forces.

Donald J. Trump, as an experienced businessman who had done deals with Chinese, intuitively cued into the importance of asking the question as to the power and credibility of the counterparties.

Will Secretary Clinton do likewise?

Or rely on the judgment of the cherished “China Experts” in the Government and Think Tanks?

Danny Lam is an independent analyst based in Calgary.


Reducing the Risk of Lethal Police Confrontations

There are few issues as emotionally charged as police killings of black males during this election year.   Both Presidential candidates have staked out their ground.   Secretary Hillary Clinton termed it an issue with police training, techniques, and unnecessary use of force in the context of implicit bias or racism and gun control. Donald J. Trump, on the other hand, see it as an issue of law and order.

Lost in this discussion is the fact that Mr Trump is a major real estate and property manager with decades of hands on experience in major urban centers.

The Trump property empire includes many operations like casinos that by necessity require the tightest, state-of-the-art of security.   Trump’s properties directly or indirectly, employ many security professions including armed guards.   Yet, killings by security staff at Trump’s properties are virtually unheard of.

Legitimate questions can be raised as to whether Mr Trump’s private sector experience is applicable to the day to day problems faced by police forces.

But one clear difference is a private security firm is much freer to train, equip, and organize security deployments compared to their government counterparts.

How might this help a Trump Administration address this very contentious issue?

A modern day casino or major building in an urban center is a marvel of technology where armed security and surveillance is extensively deployed to prevent and deter crime — the first step in reducing the chance for dangerous encounters.

Private security is aimed at deterring and preventing problems, and when confrontations do arise, to de-escalate and then hand the problem to police officers.

Police officers, on the other hand, are by law given extensive latitude to use deadly force and awarded the benefit of doubt.

There has been little change in the basic equipment of police officers in nearly a century with the exception of the addition of radios and slowly, body cameras.    

Secretary Clinton is correct that training of police can always be improved, and no matter how much training and vetting is done, there will always be rouge police officers, or an officer that have a bad day.

But what about Mr Trump’s view of law and order?   Is that in and of itself enough?

Or are there lessons that can be taken from his career managing properties?

Civilian police departments are not at the leading edge of technology.

This is particularly acute at the level of the individual officer level.   A police officer that responds to an incident typically have the choice of non-lethal weapons like the baton, pepper spray, taser on their belt.

Then it is the service weapon, typically a 9mm semi-automatic pistol.   Police officers have to make a split second decision to choose a lethal or non-lethal weapon knowing that if the wrong choice is made (i.e. draw the taser vs. gun for an encounter with an armed suspect), there is an additional split second delay before the lethal weapon can be drawn.

Is it a surprise that under these circumstances, most officers tend to reach for the lethal weapon first?

Once the decision is made to reach for the lethal weapon, only the most disciplined and well trained can resist the urge to fire in the face of a threat.

The surprise is not that there are police killings, but how rare and few police killings there are under the circumstances.   Protesters against police violence do not enumerate the number of times the use of deadly force is averted by police even though such data is available.

There has been little modernization of the basic equipment of force police in a century.  

How would a businessman like Mr Trump look at the problem?

Killings are bad for business.

Restoration of law and order is all for the good, but what opportunities are Mr Trump not seeing?

Technologically, the spectrum of use of force from non-lethal to lethal has expanded greatly in the past decade.

Militaries have developed “flash bang” grenades that dazzle (mission kill) rather than kill.

Lasers and microwave weapons can disrupt.

Taser cartridges can in theory be built into a gun.

Sensors can identify and gauge threats and in real time, recommend an appropriate level of force by estimating the degree of danger.

In other words, it is technically possible for a “smart” weapon to be developed that combine in one hand held device a range of force (from non-lethal to lethal), and equipped with sensors that help a police officer gauge the situation and make the right choice. e.g. if the sensor detect a young child with what looks like a gun, warn the officer of the possibility that it is a toy because of the non-metallic barrel detected.  

Police officers equipped with such a weapon will no longer have regrets about reaching for the wrong one — as it is all in one device.

Who can drive this kind of innovation?

DARPA as an agency have a history of leading path breaking innovations that are dual use in nature.

Many of their innovations like the Internet, and Self-Driving Cars, began as projects and competitions that spurred American ingenuity and innovation.

Isn’t it about time American ingenuity be turned loose on this problem?

It sure beats protesting on the street.

Rather than repeat the language of 1968, would it not make sense for these 68 generation candidates to focus on new technologies which can provide both a key capability to enforce law and order and reduce the level of violence as well.

It is time to provide a new tool kit for the beleaguered police forces.

Danny Lam is an independent analyst based in Calgary.


Why an Ostrich Policy Won’t Work: It is More Than Just Trump

Lieutenant-General Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941), the founder of the “Boys Scouts” movement, was a British army officer who had served in India and was a veteran of the second Boar War, one of the less glorious, though ultimately successful, imperial interventions by the British in South Africa.

The young Winston Churchill enhanced his reputation as a result of his imprisonment and escape and miscellaneous adventures during that colonial conflict. Robert Baden-Powell become famous for his defence of Mafeking during a 217 day siege.

He had employed subterfuge he had learnt in India and in Africa against an enemy where the British were outnumbered by seven to one. He became a British national hero as a result.

In 1910 he retired from the army and formed the Boy Scouts association.

He adopted for the boy scouts the motto: “Be Prepared.” 

I was a “cub” scout  many years ago. I learnt all sorts of (fairly useless) skills, like the ability to tie various types of knots, how to go “tracking” in the “outback” (there was in fact no “outback” where I grew up), and how to go about pitching tents (which I did when I saved up my pocket money and bought a very small tent for myself which l pitched during the summer months on the front lawn of my parents house.)

But it was all great fun. I enjoyed it all immensely.

Baden-Powell ‘s motto “be prepared” stuck with me. 

The international foreign policy elites, who have so unanimously and contemptuously dismissed the thought of a Trump presidency, however, should begin thinking seriously about what a Trump presidency might mean.

Since it could well happen after the November presidential election.

Even though they have, almost unanimously, rejected the thought.

The same “experts” of course also rejected the thought of Brexit, before the British voters decided otherwise. American voters may well also vote for Trump, despite (or in many cases because) of the advise of the “experts.” 

In fact, Trump has said he regards the opposition of the foreign policy establishment to him as a “badge of honour.”


In Britain the more the “experts” warned against Brexit (and they included the British Treasury, the Bank of England, the IMF, and the OECD, as well as Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve, as well as President Obama), the stronger the support of Brexit became.

Which may well prove to be true as well in the USA about the dire warnings of assorted “experts” about the consequences of a Trump victory in November.

In fact it is high time Baden-Powell’s scout motto was taken seriously again, and some serious thought was given to the real dilemmas a President Trump would face in 2017 and to recognize that several key questions he has raised are clearly part of the period of historical transition which we face, with or without President Trump.

Shifting Tectonic Plates

Firstly: It is evident that the world is at a moment undergoing a profound shift of the tectonic plates of the past seventy years, not only Post-WW2, but also post-Cold War.

It is not yet at all clear where, or how, the new world order (or disorder) will crystallise.

But what is clear is that profound shifts are underway, and that many of the the old formulae for dealing with these challenges are in urgent need of reevaluation, especially for the USA, as well as for the “west” more generally.

Russia has shown that a combination of the use of raw hard power ( in Syria and in the Crimea), combined with a skilful use of clandestine, unconventional, indirect “soft-power” and cyber-power, can promote Russian national interests.

China has expanded its ambitions in the South China Sea. North Korea continues with its nuclear ambitions regardless of international condemnation.

The US ambitions to “nation build”  in Iraq and in Afghanistan have both produced dubious results and at very great cost.

Not to mention the continuing disastrous situations in Syria where the US faltered in its red line policy and in Libya where the US “led from behind” letting France and the UK take the lead in removing colonel Gaddafi, but then doing virtually nothing to deal with the consequences of producing a failed state, and a open gateway for tens of thousands of migrants to attempt to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.

Financial and Commercial Policy Consensus Collapsing

Secondly: The consensus which has dominated financial and commercial policy is under challenge, particularly over the merits of free trade and protectionism.

The anti-Nafta and pro-Brexit voters, post-industrialised, previously unionised  industrial workers, who have seen their factories closed, and moved from the old rust belt cities of the upper midwest to  Mexico, while they see undocumented immigrants flood in to the country.

And in the UK similar patterns have taken place over the last two decades in the north and northeast of England and in Scotland where many rightly or wrongly blame uncontrolled European immigration for their problems.

The consequences have been the almost total collapse of the Labour Party in Scotland where deindustrialization has devastated old Labour Party bailiwicks, and seen the  rise of the Scottish nationalists (SNP), and in England the rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and of Nigel Farage.

In France similar impacts of globalisation and deindustrialization has seen the rise of support for the National Front, and in Germany of the right wing Alternative for Germany party (AfD) and the deep opposition within the CDU and its sister Bavarian CSU to chancellor Angela Merkel’s open door immigration policy.

Lack of Accountability

Thirdly: The failure of the ruling elites to punish or hold accountable anyone involved in the speculative orgy which led to the financial collapse of 2008/2009 and the sharpest collapse of world trade since the 1930s. The banks were bailed out, but the taxpayers footed the bill, and paid the price with deep austerity measures which continue. A new “Great Depression” was avoided to be sure.

But the costs for the credibility of the world financial and trade system are now becoming evident.

For the first time since the network of international trade tariff agreements were made on 1948, though the treaty of Rome in 1956, through the establishment of the World Trade Organisation in 1984-94, though the North America free trade area agreement of 1994, there is now major opposition to the US-EU trade deal, as well as to the Transpacific partnership been to US, Japan and 10 other pacific nations, which is opposed by both Trump and (now) by Hilary Clinton.

Domestic Threats

Fourth: domestic tranquility is now seen as under threat by substantial segments of the population, and this treat is linked to the question of immigration and to citizenship to disenchanted voters throughout the west.

This has been a concern in the US since 9/11.

But it has been enhanced since the threat Islamic terrorism has been manifested on the streets of Paris, Nice, and in Belgium and in Germany.

It is true that Europe there have long been complaints about the “democratic deficit” of EU institutions.

People were bemoaning the “democratic deficit” as long ago as a meeting I attended on Berlin two months before the Berlin Wall came down, and long before the EU expanded to incorporate what was then communist dominated nations of Eastern Europe.

The concern at the time was to incorporate post dictatorship Spain, Portugal and Greece into the European community.

But the problems have only become worse since.

Never Underestimate Your Political Opponent

Fifth: “Political correctness,” the “under-decided,” and the “disreputables.”

It is never a good idea to underestimate your opponents.

Much less to insult them.

But this is precisely what the Labour Party did in Scotland in the run up to the independence referendum where although the unionists won the day, the voter turn out was one of highest on British electoral history.

And the three leaders of the Westminster political parties who signed a pledge to give Scotland more powers (Cameron, Clegg, Miliband) in the run up to the vote have all been deposed since.

The referendum on Brexit also produced a similar high level of voter participation. And the result also cofounded the experts, even those who had campaigned for exit from the European Union, who had not prepared at all for the success of the exit result.

Even Nigel Farage, who had campaigned for over 20 years for Britain to leave the EU, was surprised by the result.  It was in fact “a very British coup” which brought Theresa May in as prime minister (although she bad been an anti-brexiter), and three leading bexiters (Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davies, but not Michael Gove who had attempted to stab his old friend Boris on the back during his own leadership attempt and had been defenestrated when he failed) into the cabinet charged with making “Brexit” work.

The problem with Brexit was those you led the campaign to exit the European community never planned for what a victory would actually mean.

But what is already abundantly clear is that the “under decided” had decided to vote.

And that these alienated, but now mobilised and galvanised, “disreputables,” made their views very clear indeed on the day.

The old political and economic establishments are at loss to explain the rise of Trump.

They bemoan how he “refuses to be educated.”

But he may well know the key problems to address for the new strategic environment; he may not want to be educated on how to repeat the past. 

In any case, it is hard to be a strategic elite guiding the future of your society with your Ostrich head in the sand.

How would they deal with the widespread discontent and disconnection between the political elites and the population?

Brexit showed this.

The America presidential election may well confirm the trend.

France and Germany may follow.

It is high time, as Baden-Powell advised, to “be prepared.”

Dr. Kenneth Maxwell is a regular contributor to Second Line of Defense and now has returned to live in the United Kingdom after living and working for many years in the United States.

Kenneth Maxwell was the founding Director of the Brazil Studies Program at Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) (2006-2008) and a Visiting Professor in Harvard’s Department of History (2004-2008).

From 1989 to 2004 he was Director of the Latin America Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, and in 1995 became the first holder of the Nelson and David Rockefeller Chair in Inter-American Studies. He served as Vice President and Director of Studies of the Council in 1996. Maxwell previously taught at Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and the University of Kansas.

He founded and was Director of the Camões Center for the Portuguese-speaking World at Columbia and was the Program Director of the Tinker Foundation, Inc. From 1993 to 2004, he was the Western Hemisphere book reviewer for Foreign Affairs. He has been a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and is a weekly columnist since 2007 for Folha de São Paulo.

Maxwell was the Herodotus Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and a Guggenheim Fellow. He served on the Board of Directors of The Tinker Foundation, Inc., and the Consultative Council of the Luso-American Foundation. He is also a member of the Advisory Boards of the Brazil Foundation and Human Rights Watch/Americas. Maxwell received his B.A. and M.A. from St. John’s College, Cambridge University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University.

This is the latests in our series on the Second Line of Defense Forum, which is looking at the coming Administration, its approach and its impact.

The Second Nuclear Age and American Security: Trump Channels His Inner De Gaulle

Notably in the first Presidential debate, Donald Trump directly raised the nuclear threat question and identified it as a much more pressing issue that climate change.

He then highlighted his concerns with Russian nuclear modernization and failure son the US side to modernize effectively.

He then underscored that the Iran-North Korean and Chinese nexus was a critical dynamic in shaping the threat to the United States.

All of these concerns have been highlighted in our treatment of the Second Nuclear Age.

Hillary Clinton represents the current thinking on how to deal with the problem, namely through arms control with such measures as the Iranian agreement.

And she clearly highlighted her continued commitment to the global dispersal of US military forces to deal with global threats.

Very de Gaulle like, Trump focused on the most immediate threat to the United States, namely the nuclear one.

Rather than dispersing resources, perhaps these should be concentrated on shaping real policies and capabilities to ensure deterrence prevails.

Trump also has posed the question of what specialists called extended deterrence.

This is the question of whether Washington would risk Washington DC for the deterrence of a state like Japan?

Without a clear capability where the US with relevant high end conventional and effective nuclear warfighting tools can answer that question by saying: “I can do this without the need to bring Washington DC into the equation” extended deterrence is a concept not a reality.

States will then seek nuclear weapons, which is what Trump has said. The response from Hillary Rodman (Clinton) is very traditionalistic – it is US policy not to see the nuclear proliferation.

But how does this happen if states allied with the United States facing second nuclear age threats do NOT believe that the US has either the will or the capability to respond?

That is the question which (Charles) Donald (De Gaulle) Trump is asking.

The answer can not be simply to provide a mechanical reading of the history of US past policies or asserting that a deeply flawed Iran agreement is reassuring any one who is likely to pursue independent nuclear weapons.

The response to Second Nuclear Age threats is not simply telling us what our ancestors did: It is crafting capabilities and approaches for our own age, one very different from the past twenty years.

When we interviewed the head of NORTHCOM/NORAD, Admiral Gortney, hardly a hot button political animal, it was clear of his growing concern as the central combatant commander.

Both the Chinese and Russians have said in their open military literature, that if conflict comes, they want to escalate conflict in order to de-escalate it.

Now think about that from our side. And so now as crisis escalates, how will Russia or China want to escalate to deescalate?

They’ll definitely come at us through cyber.

And they’ll deliver conventional and potentially put nukes on the table. We have to treat the threat in a global manner and we have to be prepared to be able to deal with these through multiple domains, which include cyber, but that’s not in NORAD or NORTHCOM mission sets.

We clearly need the capacity to have the correct chain of command in order to confront this threat; and if you look at where we are today with NORAD or NORTHCOM, we are only dealing with an air defense threat and managing to that threat.

We are not comprehensive in a manner symmetrical with the evolving threat or challenges facing North American defense.

Admiral Gortney added:

But one has to think through our deterrence strategy as well.

What deters the current leader of North Korea?

What deters non-state actors for getting and using a nuclear weapon?

What will deter Russia from using tactical nuclear weapons in the sequence of how they view dealing with conventional war?

It is not my view that matters; it is their view; how to I get inside the head of the 21st century actors, and not simply stay in yesterday’s set of answers?

Let me put this in stark terms: It is not what the US non-proliferation community believes that is central to deterring nuclear adversaries.

It is about rebuilding US credibility in high end warfare, including nuclear options, which is central to the decade ahead.

At least Trump has raised the core questions rather than citing scripture from the Holy Writ of the High Priests of yesterday’s strategies and realities.

And below are two papers which I wrote whilst at CNA on the French nuclear deterrent: