Archive for Writers of Opinion and News Journalists

Opinion | Trump Was Outfoxed in Singapore – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

It sure looks as if President Trump was hoodwinked in Singapore.

Trump made a huge concession — the suspension of military exercises with South Korea. That’s on top of the broader concession of the summit meeting itself, security guarantees he gave North Korea and the legitimacy that the summit provides his counterpart, Kim Jong-un.

Within North Korea, the “very special bond” that Trump claimed to have formed with Kim will be portrayed this way: Kim forced the American president, through his nuclear and missile tests, to accept North Korea as a nuclear equal, to provide security guarantees to North Korea, and to cancel war games with South Korea that the North has protested for decades.

In exchange for these concessions, Trump seems to have won astonishingly little. In a joint statement, Kim merely “reaffirmed” the same commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that North Korea has repeatedly made since 1992.

“They were willing to de-nuke,” Trump crowed at his news conference after his meetings with Kim. Trump seemed to believe he had achieved some remarkable agreement, but the concessions were all his own.

Source: Opinion | Trump Was Outfoxed in Singapore – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

This writer loves Nicholas Kristof, and this is another thoughtful piece by him. However, I have more to add to it. I agree with the NYT commenter, that it was nothing to Trump to give up the war games with South Korea, this was one of his promises to his base. I’m not sure he lost anything he cares about, since what he actually won, was the taking over and dominating of the American and world press. He successfully made himself the center of attention. That he shredded our relations with our NATO allies, and praised won of the most brutal dictators in the world, is a small price to pay for so much attention.

I do like another comment, that this is just a tempest in a teapot.  We are not out of danger, if Trump gets wind that he has been perceived as the weaker negotiator, in front of the whole world, he might get belligerent. Kudos to the president of South Korea for bringing this thawing about.

An expert on NPR made the astute comment, that North Korea is subtly re-balancing their position in East Asia, moving slightly towards the west, and making themselves less reliant on China, the hungry elephant in the room. Or is China a Chimera:  “(in Greek mythology) a fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail.”

It is also important that Kim Jung-un has declared, his nuclear deterrent is in place, and he promises to his people he will improve the North Korean economy. So as long as we are patient, there is opportunity for peaceful improvement.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Posted in: David Lindsay, Korea - North and South Korea, Nicholas Kristof

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Opinion | Democrats Childishly Resist Trump’s North Korea Efforts – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Shock! Horror! President Trump is actually doing something right.

Sadly, Democrats in Congress are responding in a quite Trumpian way: They seem more concerned with undermining him than supporting a peace process with North Korea. They are on the same side as National Security Adviser John Bolton, quietly subverting attempts to pursue peace.

While international security is complicated, here’s a rule of thumb: When you find yourself on the same side as Bolton, go back and re-examine your position.

Sure, we all wish that Trump treated Justin Trudeau or Angela Merkel with the respect that he now shows Kim Jong-un. Yes, it seems that Trump has been played by Kim. Yet another way of putting it is that Trump is finally investing in the kind of diplomatic engagement that he used to denounce, and that we should all applaud.

Trump’s newfound pragmatism is infinitely preferable to the threat of nuclear war that used to hang over all of us, so it’s mystifying to see Democrats carping about any possible North Korea deal.”

“. . . . .  Now a similar partisan petulance seems to be turning some Democrats into spoilers. Trump’s engagement with North Korea has been chaotic and should have begun with working-level talks, but it’s still better for leaders to exchange handshakes than missiles.

Granted, there’s plenty of reason to be nervous about Trump’s deal making with North Korea, and plans can still collapse. How will Trump manage Kim when he can’t even manage a summit with the Philadelphia Eagles?

Still, even if North Korea won’t hand over nuclear weapons in the next few years, I can imagine it committing in coming months to a sustained moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile tests, on production of plutonium and uranium fuel, on transfer of nuclear technology to other countries, such as Syria. North Korea might also destroy an ICBM or two and accept inspectors at its nuclear sites in Yongbyon. Trump and Kim might agree to exchange liaison offices and to declare peace on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea might well cheat, and these are half-steps, not rapid denuclearization. But half-steps toward peace are better than full strides toward war.”

Source: Opinion | Democrats Childishly Resist Trump’s North Korea Efforts – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

Great writing, thank you Nicholas Kristof.  The comments are mostly so negative. As my father liked to say, Don’t let the bastards get you down.

It is ethnocentric to expect North Korea to denuclearize now, but not naive, to think that peace would serve both Koreas and the world. Trump really needs to be contained, since he is so untrustworthy. The real work of peace will be by North and South Korea and their real neighbors.

Here is a comment that I found pleasantly optimistic and could recommend:

Hamid Varzi
Tehran
Times Pick

Donald Trump is irrelevant to the peace process, because he is unpredictable and untrustworthy. If peace occurs it will be in spite of Trump, as no traditional U.S. ‘enemy’ would eschew its only deterrent against a U.S. military attack.

The Koreas will make peace, the North will maintain its nuclear warheads at current levels of readiness, and Trump will claim ‘victory’ in the same way that a rooster claims credit for the sunrise.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Korea - North and South Korea, Nicholas Kristof

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Opinion | The U.S. and China Are Finally Having It Out – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

“The assumption was that as China grew, and the W.T.O. moved to a new regime, China would quickly cut its tariffs — like its 25 percent tax on car imports, compared with the 2.5 percent tariff imposed by the U.S. But the W.T.O. still has not completed a new trade round and China has refused to voluntarily lower its tariffs.

Moreover, China developed an industrial policy that often bent W.T.O. rules. The government gave away cheap land, and state-guided banks granted cheap loans for new industries, but foreign companies that wanted access to China’s market were forced to pay to play — to have a Chinese partner and be willing to transfer their advanced technology to them.

As a result, over time, Beijing was able to force multinationals to shift more and more of their supply chains to China, and grow Chinese competitors to Western companies in its protected market, and then, once they were big enough, unleash them on the world as giants.

Even when the U.S. protested to the W.T.O. — as in the case of how China unfairly kept U.S. credit card companies out, then lost the arbitration case at the W.T.O. — China still dragged its feet before following through on promises made 17 years earlier to open up. By then, Chinese companies, like UnionPay, so dominated China’s credit card market that U.S. companies, like Visa, were left with the crumbs.

Meanwhile, Chinese government-guided companies and investment funds went abroad and began to buy up strategic industries to bring their technology back to China — like Germany’s biggest and best robotics company, Kuka.”

Source: Opinion | The U.S. and China Are Finally Having It Out – The New York Times

Thank you Thomas Friedman. Yes. And here are some of the top comments at the NYT I recommended.

allan slipher
port townsend washington
Times Pick

“..there is a trade imbalance today because we’ve been investing in our future and you Americans have been eating yours.”

Spot on. Wake up call, America.

Our choice is self indulgent consumerism, cheap political theatrics, empty celebrity worship, and self absorbed rants, or redirecting ourselves and doubling down on basic research, education, infrastructure, well paid work, investment in the well being of our children and grandchildren and upholding the rule of law.

Bruce Rozenblit commented May 1

Bruce Rozenblit
Kansas City, MO
Times Pick

China employs state run capitalism. The US employs market capitalism. China views government as an asset. The US views government as an enemy. China pays to have its brightest students educated in the worlds greatest universities. In the US, we question why we even have universities, let alone want to pay for them. China follows decade long economic plans. The US is ruled by quarterly profits. China cheats. We don’t tax the billionaire class. In China, civil rights are forfeit. In the US, money has more rights than people. China is destroying the environment for quick growth. In the US, we want to destroy the environment for feeble growth. China pursues multi-national trade and investment policies. In the US, we used to and now want to pursue only unilateral policies.

So who wins? China will win. Trump did have the right idea about China getting away with murder. Many of our largest corporations made a fortune off of cheap Chinese goods, so we went along with it for years.

Until and unless we straighten out our twisted and self defeating ways, we cannot out compete China. The first step is to stop demonizing the government and allow government to participate in business. The ExIm bank is a good example. Big business in the rest of the industrialized world has government involvement. It’s about time we joined the club. We call it redistribution. They call it public investment.

Cap’n Dan Mathews commented May 1

Cap’n Dan Mathews
Northern California

So everything you wrote is pertinent, Friedman. What you fail to mention is that China did not engage in expeditions in search of missions, including the Iraq war which you enthusiastically supported, thus saving untold trillions of yuan which they used to do much of what you mention regarding enhancing their position.

Golflaw commented May 2

Golflaw
Columbus, Ohio
Times Pick

Tom, nothing new here regardless of your 3 part play. Some of us dumb intellectual property lawyers wondered 30 years ago why our US Fortune 100 clients had us draft joint venture agreements with Chinese companies that licensed US high end intellectual property to those ventures. We were told it was worth it to have access to a market of more than a billion people. Never happened but the Chinese got US technology and
US companies got rid of US factories and employees for higher profits of Chinese “stuff” exported to the US and sold at WalMart.

Christy commented May 2

Christy
Times Pick

If this is a battle for the future we are not only late getting out of the starting block but racing to the past. While China invests in infrastructure and education we have allowed our infrastructure to crumble and stifled education spending. As a result, we have fallen far behind the rest of the world in STEM graduates. While Xi focuses on next-generation industries like artificial intelligence, renewable energy, biotech and aerospace, Trump wants to reopen coal mines, keep us dependent on fossil fuels and restore a nostalgic but hopelessly out of date manufacturing base. While the rest of the world embraces science and accepts the challenge of climate change, we have a political party in charge of government that denies science and dismantles the environmental protections enacted by prior administrations. And we have a president intent on tearing up all the treaties and alliances that help preserve our national security.

Posted in: China, Thomas Friedman

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Opinion | The U.S. and China: More Alike Than We’d Like? – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

“It is impossible to visit China these days and not compare and contrast the drama playing out in Beijing politics with the drama playing out in Washington politics. While the differences are many, I am sorry to report that some of the parallels are getting too close for comfort.

Let’s start with the fact that the anti-corruption crackdown by President Xi Jinping has created a climate of fear in China these days — whether about interacting with foreigners or saying the wrong thing or behaving too extravagantly so as to attract the state “anti-corruption” detectives.

But because “corruption” has not been clearly defined — and can be used to get rid of anyone for any reason — people don’t know where the line is, so they’re extra cautious. That’s why during a week in Beijing the most frequent expression I heard was, “You’re not quoting me on this, right?”

But if the Chinese are afraid to talk to one another, in America we’ve forgotten how to talk to one another.”

Source: Opinion | The U.S. and China: More Alike Than We’d Like? – The New York Times

 

Thank you Thomas Friedman, for another good op-ed.

I found very intersting the following. All in the first paragraph was news to me.

“On this I often pushed back on my Chinese interlocutors to be humbler and warier of what the future may hold. Their one-party, one-man decision-making system can make big decisions fast. But it can also make big wrong decisions fast. For instance, Bloomberg News reported in February: “In 2008, China’s total debt was about 141 percent of its gross domestic product. By mid-2017 that number had risen to 256 percent. Countries that take on such a large amount of debt in such a short period typically face a hard landing.”

But Xi and the Chinese Communist Party at least stimulated their economy in order to avoid a real economic crisis — for themselves and the world. Trump and his Republican Party just added $1.5 trillion to America’s debt to pay for tax cuts for businesses and individuals at a time when our economy was already on the rise. Trump did so knowing that he would be here to take credit for any boom — and be long gone when we have to do the belt-tightening necessary so that interest on the debt doesn’t devour all nondefense spending and lead to a bust.”

Here are some of the comments I particularly liked:

Brian Bailey
Vancouver, Canada

OK – where to begin. I’m a Canadian who lives and works in China. I teach a high school prep program for students who want to study in North America. These are bright students and some of them will be future leaders in China. Last week one did an excellent presentation on why gay marriage should be legalized in China. Another student did one on the big problem of air pollution in China and he pulled no punches. Like I said, these students are bright and opinionated and aren’t afraid to express themselves. There is an adoration for foreign products here. Half the cars on the street are foreign imports with many Buicks as they have a factory in my Chinese province.People here are getting rich and they can literally see improvement from year to year. This is a GREAT thing for the world, not a bad thing. When people have more money they can start to think about other things, like cleaning up the environment or improving human rights – just like my students sentiments in their presentations.There is no sense amongst many Chinese that the US is their enemy, unlike in the US where many Americans think exactly that. Here, education is highly valued and teachers are respected. Sorry America, you are behind the 8 ball on that one. China will kick you in the rear if you don’t start spending more on public education. The China that I experience and live in bears little resemblance to what gets portrayed in western media. I’d be much more worried about Putin’s Russia.

John Brews ..✅✅ commented May 9

John Brews ..✅✅
Reno NV
Times Pick

Some parallels between China and Trump’s USA have been mentioned. But there is one big difference: China has a long-term plan for advancing its influence and is pursuing it. Trump has no ability to plan and wouldn’t know if it was being followed if there were one.

Possibly the Mercers and Kochs and Wilks etc have a plan and are using Trump as their puppet. But whatever they think of the narrow-minded “Christian” Theocracy they favor, it ain’t gonna make America great again.

Posted in: China, Thomas Friedman

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Opinion | #MeToo Goes Global – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

She was an 8-year-old girl with thick brown hair, large brown eyes, a purple dress and a fondness for running through the fields in northern India where she tended horses.

Then a man called her into the nearby forest, grabbed her by the neck and forced her to take sleeping pills, according to police accounts. The man dragged the girl, Asifa Bano, to a Hindu temple, where he and other men raped her repeatedly over three days, before murdering her — after one man insisted on raping her one last time. Asifa’s body was left in the forest.

Murder and rape happen in all societies, but this girl’s body was a battleground: Hindu extremists were trying to terrorize and drive out the Muslim community that Asifa belonged to. The killing triggered a huge controversy in India, with some Hindu lawyers and housewives protesting against prosecution of the murder suspects and Prime Minister Narendra Modi keeping shamefully silent for too long. To their credit, many middle-class Indians, including Hindus, mobilized to demand justice for Asifa.

Source: Opinion | #MeToo Goes Global – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval at the NYT Comments.
So much pain, suffering and humiliation. I applaud Nicholas Kristof. He writes about things that are hard to read and difficult to comprehend. The comments are also excellent. While I will consider supporting organizations that help women and the poor around the world, I will continue to stay focused on driving out of the US Congress men and women who oppose family planning and population control, and attempts to stop the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change, including ocean acidification and global warming with the expected sea level rise. Replacing these anti-science ideologues with representatives that respect science and environmental issues and data-based truth will make a big difference in ameliorating some of the suffering that Kristof describes. And, if we don’t curb out of control population control, while causing sea level rise, the suffering ahead will make the misery index today look look very low.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, David Lindsay, India, Nicholas Kristof

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Some Things Are True Even if Trump Believes Them – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

Thomas Friedman is great in this column. He writes that China is a big problem, but the Trump steel tariff hurts our allies and not China. Then:

“So what would a smart American president do? First, he’d sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord. TPP eliminated as many as 18,000 tariffs on U.S. exports with the most dynamic economies in the Pacific and created a 12-nation trading bloc headed by the U.S. and focused on protecting what we do best — high-value-added manufacturing and intellectual property. Alas, Trump tore it up without reading it — one of the stupidest foreign policy acts ever. We Brexited Asia! China was not in TPP. It was a coalition built, in part, to pressure Beijing into fairer market access, by our rules. Trump just gave it up for free.

Once a smart president restored participation in TPP, he’d start secret trade talks with the Chinese — no need for anyone to lose face — and tell Beijing: “Since you like your trade rules so much, we’re going to copy them for your companies operating in America: 25 percent tariffs on your cars, and your tech companies that open here have to joint venture and share intellectual property with a U.S. partner — and store all their data on U.S. servers.” “

Source: Some Things Are True Even if Trump Believes Them – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Foreign Trade Policy, Thomas Friedman

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ISIS and Vietnam – Tom Friedman, 10/28/14, The New York Times

“In May, I visited Vietnam and met with university students. After a week of being love-bombed by Vietnamese, who told me how much they admire America, want to work or study there and have friends and family living there, I couldn’t help but ask myself: “How did we get this country so wrong? How did we end up in a war with Vietnam that cost so many lives and drove them into the arms of their most hated enemy, China?”

It’s a long, complicated story, I know, but a big part of it was failing to understand that the core political drama of Vietnam was an indigenous nationalist struggle against colonial rule — not the embrace of global communism, the interpretation we imposed on it.The North Vietnamese were both communists and nationalists — and still are. But the key reason we failed in Vietnam was that the communists managed to harness the Vietnamese nationalist narrative much more effectively than our South Vietnamese allies, who were too often seen as corrupt or illegitimate. The North Vietnamese managed to win (with the help of brutal coercion) more Vietnamese support not because most Vietnamese bought into Marx and Lenin, but because Ho Chi Minh and his communist comrades were perceived to be the more authentic nationalists.”

Source: ISIS and Vietnam – The New York Times

Posted in: Thomas Friedman, Vietnam-American War

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