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International Events IX: I feel like a mushroom


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The Barbados Rebellion is caused from being broke and in the cross hairs of climate catastrophe. This is a long report (with photos). Much of the world is in the same cross hairs as is Barbados -- which, btw, was the first European New World colony to deliberately choose for profit an enslaved African labor force.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/07/27/magazine/barbados-climate-debt-mia-mottley.html?

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Late on May 31, 2018, five days after she was sworn in as prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley and her top advisers gathered in the windowless anteroom of her administrative office in Bridgetown, the capital, for a call that could determine the fate of her island nation. The group settled into uncomfortable straight-backed chairs around a small mahogany table, staring at framed posters of Barbados’s windmills and sugar cane fields. Mottley, who was then 52, can appear mischievous in the moments before her bluntest declarations, but on this evening her steely side showed. She placed her personal cellphone on speaker and dialed a number in Washington for the International Monetary Fund. As arranged, Christine Lagarde, the managing director, answered.

Mottley got to the point: Barbados was out of money. It was so broke that it was taking out new loans just to pay the interest on the old ones, even as its infrastructure was coming undone. Soon the nation would have no choice but to declare itself insolvent, instigating a battle with the dozens of banks and creditors that held its $8 billion in debt and triggering austerity measures that would spiral the island into further poverty. There was another way, Mottley said, but she needed Lagarde’s help.

Mottley, the first woman to lead Barbados, had been working toward this conversation for nearly two years, consulting expert financial and legal advisers to develop a plan that would restructure the country’s soaring debts in a way that would free up money to invest in Barbados’s economy. Then, nine months before voting day, that plan took on new urgency as two powerful hurricanes ripped through the Caribbean 12 days apart; they missed Barbados, but one of them obliterated nearby Dominica.

In Mottley’s view, that obliteration was “like a nuclear event.” It was increasingly clear that climate change would make all the projects that Barbados already could not afford more necessary — and more expensive. The storms revealed that even the most heroic economic planning could be laid to waste in a moment. It was already obvious that every climate crisis was an economic crisis; but going forward, she realized, every economic crisis would effectively be a climate crisis. For Mottley, this meant the money she needed the I.M.F. to help her recoup wasn’t just for her people’s prosperity but for their survival.

Mottley’s insistence on speaking directly with Lagarde — she had been pushing for the meeting for nearly a week while Lagarde’s office demurred — was an unorthodox way to approach the leader of one of the world’s dominant economic institutions.  ....

.... “My friends,” she began, with a nod across the floor to Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, “the global order is not working.” It does not deliver on peace or on prosperity or on stability, she said. The words of global partnerships were hollow, the partnerships themselves glib, corrupted by greed and selfishness — and they remained fundamentally imbalanced. Debt is written off in Ukraine, as it was for Germany after World War II. Other countries, though, the ones subjugated throughout history, have seen their humanitarian crises ignored. The world, she said, “is segregated regrettably between those who came first and in whose image the global order is now set” and a global order that is itself “simply the embalming of the old colonial order that existed at the time of the establishment of these institutions.”

Gone was the patient case-building, the appeals to logic and empathy, that characterized so many of her recent speeches. Her hair, always in a neat Afro, was grayer and frazzled; her fatigue seeped through her expression. “We have therefore to ask ourselves whether we can live in this global order.”

It was time to reset. The war in Ukraine was forcing that reset anyway. She could work with the global economic system to raise capital. She could probably find a strategy to bolster her island’s standing in the face of cataclysmic climate change, at least for a while. But combining both? It had proved impossible. It was time to use the I.M.F.’s drawing rights, the hurricane clauses, all of it. And then Mottley laid out Persaud’s plan to establish a new climate trust based on the I.M.F.’s reserves, her big ask.

But to make these changes, she warned, the world had to get to a new place in spirit. It had to fill some gaping moral cavity. “That we are more concerned with generating profits than saving people,” she said, “is perhaps the greatest condemnation that can be made of our generation.”

 

 

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2 hours ago, Heartofice said:

Dunno if it's international news. It is news.

I did laugh out loud when I read that Vardy couldn't produce evidence from her phone because it had fallen into the North Sea. Amazing.

And the IT guy who set up the whatsapp account or whatever “forgot” the password

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4 hours ago, Zorral said:

 Much of the world is in the same cross hairs as is Barbados

Interesting read.  There has been an increasing amount of attention in recent months on economically devastated countries like Sri Lanka and Lebanon.  Barbados is a different take on a similar story.

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On 7/30/2022 at 4:41 AM, Zorral said:

The Barbados Rebellion is caused from being broke and in the cross hairs of climate catastrophe. This is a long report (with photos). Much of the world is in the same cross hairs as is Barbados -- which, btw, was the first European New World colony to deliberately choose for profit an enslaved African labor force.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/07/27/magazine/barbados-climate-debt-mia-mottley.html?

 

Complete bollocks. A country that has its own currency can never run out of money, they can devalue their currency through the floor, but they can never run out, except by choice. Unless they are stupid enough to still be on a gold standard, that is.

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This is just a deplorable story.

Sudan's Junta led govt., that overthrew the civilian govt., has set up a gold plundering operation with the Russians, to steal the people's resources.

Thousands in Sudan call for end to military rule, protest exploitation of gold resources after CNN investigation

https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/31/africa/sudan-protests-military-rule-intl-hnk/index.html

 

Sudan's military rulers would rather see Russians enriched than its own citizens. Smdh:thumbsdown:

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2 hours ago, The Anti-Targ said:

Complete bollocks. A country that has its own currency can never run out of money, they can devalue their currency through the floor, but they can never run out, except by choice. Unless they are stupid enough to still be on a gold standard, that is.

I don't know Barbados so well but what can they buy with their own currency? And what do they have to offer that someone wants to buy this currency? I assume tourism but can't say if that's enough.

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One problem is Barbados has apparently fixed its exchange rate to the US dollar, the other problem is a lot of tourist spending is directly in USD, which means tourists don't buy as much BBD as they would if all payments had to be made in BBD.

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6 hours ago, The Anti-Targ said:

Complete bollocks. A country that has its own currency can never run out of money, they can devalue their currency through the floor, but they can never run out, except by choice. Unless they are stupid enough to still be on a gold standard, that is.

Ok.

That is barely related to what the article is about but sure...be insulting.

Edited by Padraig
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On 8/1/2022 at 10:36 PM, Padraig said:

Ok.

That is barely related to what the article is about but sure...be insulting.

I can see how my post can be read that way. I was frustrated at the punditry and politicians maintaining this notion of govts "running out of money" and phrased things in a way that is not ideal for constructive discourse.

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Dunno where Nathan Ruser sits in terms of foreign policy awareness, but this is utterly predictable as a response to Pelosi's visit. The US is waving it's dick in China's face, given the childish petulance of both parties a response of some sort was absolutely necessary for China to keep face and maintain its one China assertion. The geopolitical version of Newton's third law. The US decided to escalate when Pelosi decided to visit. The issue for me isn't China's reaction (I thought they might fly some heavy bombers just inside Tawain airspace as a "training exercise"), but what is the US's goal in goading China with this visit. If the calculus is that Pelosi visiting will cause China to bluster but also get the message that Taiwan is off limits, and more importantly heed that message, then if it works that's good.

The military exercise is China's predictable bluster reaction not an escalation. What comes after in terms of  further China action, or US further goading will tell us whether there really is an escalation.

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Pelosi's husband's big investment in that semiconductor company, Invidia,one of the many that are in Taiwan, where almost all semiconductors are manufactured?  But then, since he dumpedthe Invidia stock a week ago -- I dunno.  It's all just murky as hell, and thus we're all suspicious as hell, right? :leaving:

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10 hours ago, The Anti-Targ said:

Dunno where Nathan Ruser sits in terms of foreign policy awareness, but this is utterly predictable as a response to Pelosi's visit. The US is waving it's dick in China's face, given the childish petulance of both parties a response of some sort was absolutely necessary for China to keep face and maintain its one China assertion. The geopolitical version of Newton's third law. The US decided to escalate when Pelosi decided to visit. The issue for me isn't China's reaction (I thought they might fly some heavy bombers just inside Tawain airspace as a "training exercise"), but what is the US's goal in goading China with this visit. If the calculus is that Pelosi visiting will cause China to bluster but also get the message that Taiwan is off limits, and more importantly heed that message, then if it works that's good.

The military exercise is China's predictable bluster reaction not an escalation. What comes after in terms of  further China action, or US further goading will tell us whether there really is an escalation.

Nixon should have gotten Taiwan independence on the table in the 1970s (although that has always been a red line for China), really. The USA and UN's failure to sort out Taiwan's status has created this ambiguity in which China feels it has much more room to act.

The question is how likely China feels it is that the United States will militarily intervene if it decides to invade Taiwan. If they feel it 100% will intervene, they may hold off for a few more years until its military might is considerably greater, especially on a more local level. If they feel it won't, or will be unable to if China creates a blockade around the island, then they may feel motivated to move more quickly, calculating Biden's statements about not wanting to risk WWIII and feeling that a Republican President may be far more bellicose. 

Edited by Werthead
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Trump certainly made loud noises about binning the One China policy, but it is another thing entirely for a US president of any colour to actually get into a shooting war with China. The one thing that might make the US more likely to get directly involved, unlike Ukraine, is China might be less insane than Putin and would not start lobbing nukes. Putin might have thought once the US is involved he would have nothing to lose by using nukes. China mostly has nothing to gain by using nukes unless its mainland territorial integrity is threatened. Also, China can't win a straight up hardware fight, but it can win a protracted body count fight, so China has more incentive to keep it conventional and grind it out with the USA, just like Viet Nam did. One thing going in the US and Taiwan's favour is there is now a big, affluent middle class (unlike Viet Nam in the 50s and 60s), and if their style gets cramped from a long war then that's a big chunk of the population that could rebel back on the mainland causing China to have to divide its attention... so maybe on second thought China isn't well placed to drag on a grind-fest.

It's all sounding rather messy and complicated and a bit tricky as to who has the best chance of securing Taiwan. The advantage is usually with the defender who is surrounded by water. But they are a long way from any meaningful assistance.

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A full on war with China would basically wreck the entire global economy in a way that makes the current supply issues seem like peanuts. It wouldn't be good for anyone and even if China had ambitions to expand it's influence in the direction of the South China sea, surely doing it militarily would be a very unwise step. China is also not Russia and is going to be less prone to impulsive poorly thought out plans.

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China will act if it thinks it can win and win relatively quickly. The problem is that it might be wrong on that score, leading to a protracted fight that turns into an existential regime threat at home.

The problem that China has, which Russia also saw with Ukraine, is that whilst waiting a few years might make them stronger, it might also make the opposition far stronger as well (Taiwan has started upgrading its military which was slipping behind China in technology, and is already far behind in numbers, obviously), which may encourage them to act precipitously. However, the likelihood of China increasing its military capability versus Taiwan is greater than Russia's versus Ukraine, which may encourage more caution.

We had that leak from the Russian FSB source that China had settled on invading Taiwan in late 2022 after Xi is likely elected for the third time, but that has been delayed. By how long is unknown (US intelligence sources believe 2027 is the most likely year, but that feels optimistic), but next year might be more tempting.

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39 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

A full on war with China would basically wreck the entire global economy in a way that makes the current supply issues seem like peanuts. It wouldn't be good for anyone and even if China had ambitions to expand it's influence in the direction of the South China sea, surely doing it militarily would be a very unwise step. China is also not Russia and is going to be less prone to impulsive poorly thought out plans.

If China invades Taiwan and the West responds and China digs in, that will be the end of the current Chinese government. The entire economy of China will collapse in short order and the internal upheaval will be unlike anything we've ever seen. 

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Well the question is whether China's aims extend to Taiwan or basically creating it's own area of influence further out. I suspect the later. It will never be able to do that while China is essentially acting like the factory of the world, because now it seems like the West has less appetite for just rolling over and letting countries do what they want to keep the trade flowing. 

It is going to be interesting to see what happens as countries slowly try (and maybe fail) to disentangle their supply chains from being so reliant on cheap Chinese labour, and how China is going to adapt to that. 

Edited by Heartofice
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