Saturday, 27 November 2010

Margaret Wente on Climate Change Madness

Margaret Wente´s column in The Globe and Mail should be compulsory reading for all those are planning to attend the Cancun climate change jamboree:

Just a year ago, 15,000 of the world’s leaders, diplomats, and UN officials were gearing up to descend on Copenhagen to forge a global treaty that would save the planet. The world’s media delivered massive coverage. Important newspapers printed urgent front-page calls for action, and a popular new U.S. President waded in to put his reputation on the line. The climate talks opened with a video showing a little girl’s nightmare encounter with drought, storms, eruptions, floods and other man-made climate disasters. “Please help the world,” she pleads.
After two weeks of chaos, the talks collapsed in a smouldering heap of wreckage. The only surprise was that this outcome should have come as a surprise to so many intelligent people. These people actually seemed to believe that experts and politicians have supernatural powers to predict the future and control the climate. They believed that experts know how fast temperatures will rise by when, and what the consequences will be, and that we know what to do about it. They believed that despite the recent abject failure of Kyoto (to say nothing of other well-intentioned international treaties), the nations of the world would willingly join hands and sacrifice their sovereignty in order to sign on to a vast scheme of unimaginable scope, untold cost and certain damage to their own interests.
Copenhagen was not a political breakdown. It was an intellectual breakdown so astonishing that future generations will marvel at our blind credulity. Copenhagen was a classic case of the emperor with no clothes.
Mercifully, nobody will pay attention to the climate conference at Cancun next week, where a much-reduced group of delegates will go through the motions. The delusional dream of global action to combat climate change is dead. Barack Obama’s cap-and-trade scheme is dead. Chicago’s carbon-trading market is dead. The European Union’s supposed reduction in carbon emissions has been exposed as a giant fraud. (The EU is actually responsible for 40 per cent more CO2 today than it was in 1990, if you count the goods and services it consumed as opposed to the ones that it produced.) Public interest in climate change has plunged, and the media have radically reduced their climate coverage.
The biggest loser is the environmental movement. For years, its activists neglected almost everything but climate change. They behaved as if they’d cornered the market on wisdom, truth and certainty, and they demonized anyone who dared to disagree. They got a fabulous free ride from politicians and the media, who parroted their claims like Sunday-school children reciting Scripture. No interest group in modern times has been so free from skepticism, scrutiny or simple accountability as the environmental establishment.

Read the whole piece here.

Putin is still the Czar

Christian Caryl has a good piece in Foreign Policy about the "power struggle" between Medvedev and Putin:

Politicians and pundits won't stop telling us that Medvedev and Putin are at odds. Keep dreaming.

Joe Biden has got it all figured out. In a round-table discussion last week with a handful of reporters and columnists, the U.S. vice president suggested that the Obama administration's nuclear arms reduction treaty, New START, and its broader aim of "resetting" relations with Russia could be a means of strengthening Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the expense of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. "The centerpiece of where Medvedev is, is this reset," Biden said. "And [START] is the crown jewel inside that reset because it wasn't Putin pushing this -- it was Medvedev."

Well, good luck with that. Two big problems with this approach present themselves. First, if the past 20 years has shown us anything, it's that issuing Washington brownie points to a Russian politician is a great way of ensuring that person's ultimate marginalization and irrelevance. If you're Medvedev, getting yourself publicly identified as the man pushing a pro-Western agenda is going to be a huge hindrance, not a help. Does Biden think that Russians don't read the papers?

Second, Biden's remarks assume that Medvedev and Putin are participants in a power struggle, each maneuvering at the expense of the other. I can see why the vice president might think that Russia's leaders are engaged in full-fledged rivalry; so many people seem to be taking that as a given these days. But I just don't think it's true.

Russia's cozying up to NATO is another good example. Medvedev's rhetoric may be notably calmer than Putin's, but in terms of substance Russia's current president hasn't given away anything that the previous one didn't. Rhetoric counts, for sure. Yet earlier this year Medvedev signed off on Russia's official military doctrine, which declares NATO to be the No. 1 "military danger" to the Russian Federation. Nor have we seen Medvedev back down on Russia's stationing of military forces on Georgian territory. So I'm not sure there's quite as much daylight between the president and prime minister on foreign policy as many people are assuming.,0

Friday, 26 November 2010

Good climate news: "Global Warming Skeptics Ascend in Congress"

The new US Congress will be a blessing for the growing number of people, who are critical to the alarmism of the IPCC and the AGW lobby. All this bodes well for the Cancun meeting; it now - fortunately - looks highly unlikely that the gathering will be able to achieve very much (damage). For reasons of prestige  and face saving something will certainly be agreed, but it will most likely - and fortunately - only be window dressing.

Seriously speaking: Both the self chosen AGW cheerleader EU´s member countries and the US government are up to their ears in debt due to e.g. costly bailouts. Why on earth should they have to transfer billions of tax payers money into the pockets of all kinds of dubious regimes around the world in order to "fight" an imaginary global warming problem?

The end of the global warming folly is now close. That also means the collapse of the EU´s most important global flagship project. Maybe it is only fitting that the EU at this point is led by a "president" from the world´s only "chocolate superpower".

Global Warming Skeptics Ascend in Congress

Cap-and-trade may be just the first casualty of the science-doubters in the House and Senate

"I am vindicated," says Republican Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, who was ridiculed by environmentalists in 2003 when he declared that man-made global warming was the "greatest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people."
He has reason to crow: His party's sweep of the midterm elections will bring into office almost four dozen new lawmakers (11 senators and at least 36 House members) who share his skepticism about climate change, according to ThinkProgress, an arm of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a Washington research group allied with Democrats. They join a smaller group of Republican incumbents, some of whom will assume powerful committee positions in January, who also reject that global warming is an immediate threat.

Medvedev admits that Russia is a one-party state

Russia´s president Dmitry Medvedev seems to distance himself from his mentor Vladimir Putin:

MOSCOW: President Dmitry Medvedev has admitted that Russia is a one-party state with no meaningful opposition in an apparent attempt to distance himself from the Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin.

In a video blog on the Kremlin's website, Mr Medvedev said the country's political system showed dangerous signs of stagnation, a phrase that Russians use to evoke the moribund period when the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was in power in the 1970s.

Mr Medvedev said the ruling United Russia party, led by Mr Putin, should not be packed with ''dummies and performers'' or be a mere appendix to the executive branch of government.

Robert Amsterdam publishes a translation of the paragraph everybody is talking about in Moscow:

What do we want to achieve? We simply want to make our political system more fair, more flexible, more dynamic, and more open to renewal and development. It must enjoy the confidence of our electorate. It is no secret that for some time now signs of stagnation have begun to appear in our political life and stability has threatened to turn into stagnation. And such stagnation is equally damaging for both the ruling party and opposition forces. If the opposition has no chance at all of winning a fair fight it degrades and becomes marginal. If the ruling party never loses a single election, it is just coasting. Ultimately, it too degrades, like any living organism which remains static.For these reasons it has become necessary to raise the degree of political competition.

However, Amsterdam is not too impressed by Medvedevs fair words:

To see Medvedev mention "stagnation" three times in a row, which quickly calls to mind the drifting of the Brezhnev era, might be interpreted as a gentle criticism of Vladimir Putin. But this is hard to swallow, for as many times as we have been asked to believe that there exists a "rift," a "split," a "divide," or that "a wedge" could be driven between them if we could somehow change how we view Russia (i.e., the reset) to elicit this promising behavior.

Instead, there is of course no rift, or at least nothing beyond a useful ruse.  Russian politics increasingly represents a corny good-cop-bad-cop routine, with Putin getting the choice role, able to consistently say what most Russians want to hear - how great the country is, how great the state is, and how boundless the pride.  Medvedev gets to be the bad cop, consigned to dirty work of having saying something depressing but true - that Russia's current political system is rotten to the core, and that the country shouldn't continue to pretend that it is unaware of institutional stagnation.

Neither should European leaders be too impressed by Medvedevs words. Proof of the pudding is in the eating. And Putin - for the time being on a "charm offensive" in Germany - is the one calling the shots in Russia.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Will Germany kill the euro?

There seems to be no end in sight for the euro problems. FT´s chief international correspondent and columnist Gideon Rachman thinks - as things now stand - that it is likely that Germany will put an end to the euro. His blog in the FT is only for subscibers:

Having failed to construct a firebreak in Greece, the Europeans are hoping that they can stop the euro crisis in Ireland. But, even as an Irish rescue package is put together, the bond markets are already looking with unhealthy interest at Portugal. After Portugal, Spain is assumed to be next. And, if a really big economy such as Spain needed to call the financial fire brigade, the whole future of the euro would be in serious peril.

However, the same article is available in German in the Financial Times Deutschland:

So wie die Dinge jetzt stehen, gehe ich davon aus, dass die Währungsunion letzten Endes auseinanderbrechen wird. Und Scharfrichter des Euro wird Deutschland sein, das einflussreichste Land innerhalb der Europäischen Union.

Rachman thinks that the German constitutional court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, may intervene and forbid the German government from participating in further bailouts:

Außerdem wurde den Deutschen versprochen, der Euro werde so stabil wie die D-Mark sein - und dass es eine Klausel geben werde, die verhindert, dass reichere Länder Europas ärmere retten müssen. Die Gefahr ist groß, dass beide Versprechen schon bald gebrochen werden. Dies wiederum lässt die Sorge wachsen, das Bundesverfassungsgericht könnte die Beteiligung der Bundesregierung an europäischen "Rettungsaktionen" für verfassungswidrig erklären.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Euro Crisis: Nervousness about Spain

After Greece and Ireland, Portugal is expected to be next in line to be "saved", maybe already in the next few weeks. Portugal is not considered to be a major problem, even if it would have to be bailed out, but if the crisis spreads to Spain - the EU:s fourth biggest economy - some financial experts think that there would not be enough money for a bailout:

Trotz der Rettungsaktion für das hoch verschuldete Irland spitzt sich die Lage an den Finanzmärkten zu. Es herrschen Misstrauen, Unsicherheit und Spekulationsfieber. In EU-Kreisen wächst die Sorge, dass Spanien – als viertgrößte Volkswirtschaft der Euro-Zone fast doppelt so groß wie Griechenland, Portugal und Irland zusammen – ebenfalls Hilfen aus dem 750 Milliarden Euro schweren Rettungsfonds von EU und Internationalem Währungsfonds (IWF) benötigen könnte. „Unsere eigentliche Angst gilt nicht Irland und Portugal, sondern Spanien“, sagt ein hoher EU-Diplomat. In Brüssel hieß es, das Land würde im Ernstfall „mindestens 400 Milliarden Euro“ benötigen. Thomas Straubhaar, Direktor des Hamburgischen Weltwirtschaftsinstituts, geht noch einen Schritt weiter: „Spanien würde wohl nicht mehr unter den Rettungsschirm passen“, sagte er „Welt Online“.

When news is no news

One does not have to agree with every word that the American Military Historian and columnist Victor Davis Hanson writes in his new column, but at least to NNoN much of it rings true, like e.g.:

 Chinese Roguery. China’s Communist Party predicates foreign policy on mercantilism — period. Note that Chinese foreign relations favor thugs, especially those with oil or the propensity to do others harm. Most of the world’s bad actors — Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Zimbabwe — are Chinese partners. Yes, almost anywhere there is a crisis, a Chinese diplomat is somewhere in the vicinity. In all the praise of the Chinese miracle and envy of its industry, gleaming airports, and solar panels, few note that to the degree that a nation’s people is unfree and without a say in its governance, that it has natural resources to exploit, and that its government is an enemy of Western-style freedom, so too China will be there in the background. Few care. Maybe it’s all the cash; maybe those old stale Mao suits still win a pass from the liberal media.

The Implosion of the Green Movement. Two years ago Al Gore was considered a Nostradamus. This was to be our moment when the seas were to recede. But today? The Volt may well become a boondoggle. Cap and trade is doomed. Al Gore is discredited. Few trust academics to conduct honest climate research. The U.S. is finding huge deposits of natural gas in a way that seemed unimaginable a few years ago. Even Obama wants to build nuclear power plants, or so he says. Yet we read almost nothing about the crackup of Green evangelicalism.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The New START Treaty

Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, is not quite as convinced that the new START treaty is of such great importance as the Obama administration maintains:

It's undoubtedly a time of nuclear angst, but Moscow doesn't have much
to do with it. Pyongyang just revealed a vast new uranium-enrichment
plant. North Korea's nuclear program is truly a problem from hell.
It's much easier to execute a pantomime of high-stakes Cold War
diplomacy with the Russians and claim to have saved the world.
The case for New START is so weak that we'd better hope the fate of
the planet doesn't hinge on it. It places a limit on strategic
warheads of 1,550, and a limit on deployed delivery vehicles -
missiles, bombers, submarines - at 700. Even in theory, this isn't
much of a cut in warheads. Under the 2002 Treaty of Moscow, Russia and
the United States had already agreed to arsenals of 2,200 to 1,700

Here's the catch: The Russians are already beneath 700 launchers. The
aging of their arsenal, coupled with economic constraints, means that
they aren't going higher regardless. Effectively, New START only
mandates cuts on us, and we make concessions to the Russians for the
privilege. This is classic Obama chump diplomacy.
In the final analysis, the administration wants the treaty because it
thinks it makes the Russians feel good and fosters a "reset." The
benefits of reset are overrated, though. Yes, the Russians voted for
the fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran, but only after
watering them down along with the Chinese. They have made it clear
they won't support more stringent sanctions outside the U.N.

If Obama wants to butter up Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and his
countrymen, surely there are easier ways than with a flawed
arms-control treaty. Maybe a bow is in order?

Monday, 22 November 2010

The Lisbon NATO summit

The Lisbon NATO summit has been hailed a success by many, particularly in Europe. But some problems remain, as General Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush points out:

But as General Scowcroft suggests, perhaps the biggest threat to
NATO’s survival as a meaningful collective-defense organization is to
be found within NATO’s own borders in the falling defense budgets in
many European countries and a growing public indifference towards the
military and relevance in the 21st century.

“The key test for NATO now, for … the nations and NATO’s military
leaders, is whether they will provide the resources, forces,
equipment, and training the concept makes clear are required to carry
out the three tasks” the Alliance adopted, says General Scowcroft, who
is also chairman of the international advisory board of the Atlantic
Council, a Washington think tank focused on North Atlantic affairs

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The euro zone´s "black hole of debt"

Ireland has finally agreed to a massive bail-out in order to save the euro. But all people are not convinced that we have seen the end of the euro crisis:

George Papaconstantinou, the Greek finance minister (who should be an "expert" with regard to this kind of problems, NNoN), warned that the Irish bailout would not be enough to plug the euro zone’s black hole of debt.
”Even if Ireland is helped, it cannot prevent the debt crisis from continuing,” he said “[It] will focus on other countries: Spain, Portugal.”

The Lisbon NATO summit overshadowed by economic turmoil

The leaders of the NATO countries may very well have adopted important new strategic decisions in Lisbon, but the gathering of this (at least formerly) great alliance seems to have been overshadowed by the current economic turmoil:

As Obama and other leaders spoke of “revitalizing” NATO, there were reports that the Portuguese military may struggle to make its payroll next month.
As the heads of state lay out a new “strategic concept” for the military alliance, an urgent bailout for Ireland’s banking system has dominated European newspaper headlines and TV news reports — with dire warnings that the financial crisis could sweep to Portugal and beyond. The government here recently imposed painful austerity measures including spending and salary cuts, as well as a hike in the Value Added Tax, raising it to 23 percent. But many analysts think these moves are too little, too late, and won’t insulate the coastal nation from the fallout.

“Most Europeans will be entirely indifferent to what NATO says or does in Lisbon,” said Richard Gowan of the European Council on Foreign Relations and New York University. “If they are waiting from news from Portugal, it's about the spreading Euro crisis — widely expected to hit Lisbon next — not military issues.”