Thursday, May 30, 2019

Is America's Manifest Destiny The Phone War???

The United States has launched an attack on the future of 1.4 billion Chinese people, a war that must be known as The Phone War.1


The Manifest Destiny History and
National Security Lies Behind...
The Phone War (Part 1)

During the first two years of Trump's Presidency, the Administration's foreign policy seemed fuzzy, difficult to pin down. This has been due to the differing views of cabinet members and advisors.

But one thing has been made clear by Trump - he does not want to get the U.S. bogged down in any foreign military adventure stating in his 2019 State of the Union Address: " Great nations do not fight endless wars."

Within that same speech, President Trump expressed the underpinnings of his political views and, if you can, as you read these words imagine them coming from a great speaker such as Jack Kennedy:2

    What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered?
    I ask the men and women of this Congress: Look at the opportunities before us! Our most thrilling achievements are still ahead. Our most exciting journeys still await. Our biggest victories are still to come. We have not yet begun to dream.
    We must choose whether we are defined by our differences -- or whether we dare to transcend them.
    We must choose whether we will squander our inheritance -- or whether we will proudly declare that we are Americans. We do the incredible. We defy the impossible. We conquer the unknown.
    This is the time to re-ignite the American imagination. This is the time to search for the tallest summit, and set our sights on the brightest star. This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots.
    This is our future -- our fate -- and our choice to make. I am asking you to choose greatness.
    No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together.
    We must keep America first in our hearts. We must keep freedom alive in our souls. And we must always keep faith in America's destiny -- that one Nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise and the light and the glory among all the nations of the world!

Americans need to be aware of the Trump Administration's emerging approach to international relations created deliberately (or accidentally, if you just can't bring yourself to give him any credit). While within his Administration Trump has chosen to play key advisors off against each other and to use a bombastic style in communicating to the world, he has a policy intent expressed in the quote above.

In this context, Trump operates as an idiosyncratic individual outsider within a foreign policy group framework design which, historically for success, was dependent upon teamwork, tolerance, and mutual respect. But if you think it is accidental that Trump has cultivated relationships with the leader of Russia and the leader of North Korea, you don't understand his goal vis-à-vis disrupting China's potential relationships.

Within the last paragraph in the quote above from the State of Union are two phrases - "America first" and "America's destiny" - that are buried deeply in the American psyche. As explained in the previous post The very-American delusion behind Trump's foreign policy: The Bold 19th Century and 21st Century Women Architect-Advocates of America's Manifest Destiny, there is a theme to Trump's expressed foreign policy view laden with the mythical legacy of Manifest Destiny. It is also burdened by the impassioned fantasy of American Exceptionalism (a term coined by Joseph Stalin in 1929), and the emotional appeal of America First (used by Woodrow Wilson in his 1916 reelection campaign), all of which is based on Thomas Jefferson's Empire of Liberty idea first expressed during the Revolutionary War and which led to The Cold War. Let's consider these phrases.

Many on the political left fail to remember the American nationalism that began before there was a United States of America which we can trace as follows:
  • Empire of Liberty which as used by Jefferson in 1780 (during the Revolutionary War) to identify the responsibility of the United States to spread liberty across the world with a secondary goal to stop the growth of the British Empire;
  • Manifest Destiny used by Jane Cazneau in an editorial in 1845 to counter a European effort that had an "avowed object of thwarting our policy and hampering our power, limiting our greatness and checking the fulfillment of our manifest destiny";
  • America First used by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 to remind voters that his isolationist stance had kept U.S. troops out of the burgeoning conflict of WWI in Europe but with the U.S. entry into the War became the title of a foreign policy that emphasizes American nationalism and unilateralism.(a popular song called “America First!” was dedicated to Wilson and published in 1917);
  • American Exceptionalism coined by Joseph Stalin in 1929 as "the heresy of American exceptionalism" in denying that the United States is inherently different from other nations which he recognized as an American expressed sense that its mythical history and mission to transform the world gives it a superiority over other nations.
  • Cold War described in 1945 by George Orwell as "the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a state which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of 'cold war'" with other states first used with regard to the post-WWII geopolitical confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States in a speech by financier, stock investor, philanthropist, statesman, and adviser to U.S. Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt which led to the American policy of political containment of a perceived political threat .
It is true that each of these terms has been used and misused over the years. It is also true that when Trump used "America First" in his inaugural address many writers in the mainstream media brought up a thorough review of the historical  misappropriation of the term built off an attack campaign against Wilson and no discussion of its first use by Wilson or what it might mean to American foreign policy.3

The mistake of getting all hot and bothered about Trump's inaugural address use of "America First" was the press effectively buried what he had said nearly a year earlier: “I’m not isolationist, but I am ‘America First' so I like the expression. I’m ‘America First.’”

This background brings us back to the clash with the Chinese that must be known as The Phone War.  The Administration's aggressive policy on 5G cellular technology has been effectively buried in the same loud "national security" ideological milieu surrounding everything from international trade to the constant conflict in the British-created "Middle East."

It seems that members of the American government security apparatus (during both the Obama Administration and the Trump Administration and including both Republicans and Democrats in Congress) have some problems with Huawei, China's preeminent cellular phone company.

Based on current news coverage, you would not know that the "problems" actually date back over a decade. Congress got involved in 2012 which generated this headline in Computerworld Politics, not security, behind Huawei, ZTE allegations, say analysts.

In 2013 Reuters published an article Former CIA boss says aware of evidence Huawei spying for China which implies credibility until you read:

    Hayden is a director of Motorola Solutions, which provides radios, smart tags, barcode scanners and safety products. Huawei and Motorola Solutions Inc had previously been engaged in intellectual property disputes for a number of years.
    Huawei Global Cyber Security Officer John Suffolk described the comments made by Hayden as “tired, unsubstantiated defamatory remarks” and challenged him and other critics to present any evidence publicly.
    “Huawei meets the communication needs of more than a third of the planet and our customers have the right to know what these unsubstantiated concerns are,” Suffolk said in a statement emailed to Reuters. “It’s time to put up or shut up.”

Of course, U.S. officials have neither put up nor shut up. Not that they are totally wrong about unscrupulous members of a government security apparatus. Let's review what we know about the U.S. government security apparatus ...

Back in 2013 Edward Snowden released a bunch of information about what the NSA was doing. As noted in an extensive article in The Guardian (if you haven't read it you should):

    ...His disclosures about the NSA resonated with Americans from day one. But they also exploded round the world.
    The debate has raged across time zones: from the US and Latin America to Europe and to Asia. Barack Obama cancelled a trip to Moscow in protest at Russian president Vladimir Putin's protection of Snowden. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff cancelled a state visit to Washington in protest at the US spying on her....
    In Germany, a "livid" Angela Merkel accused the US of spying on her, igniting a furore that has seen the White House concede that new constraints on the NSA's activities may be necessary. Meanwhile, in Britain, prime minister David Cameron accused the Guardian of damaging national security by publishing the revelations, warning that if it did not "demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act".
    US internet companies, their co-operation with the NSA exposed by Snowden's documents, fear a worldwide consumer backlash, and claim they were forced into co-operation by the law.
    Cell phones, laptops, Facebook, Skype, chat-rooms: all allow the NSA to build what it calls ‘a pattern of life’, a detailed profile of a target and anyone associated with them.
    And the number of people caught up in this dragnet can be huge.
    You don't need to be talking to a terror suspect to have your communications data analysed by the NSA. The agency is allowed to travel "three hops" from its targets — who could be people who talk to people who talk to people who talk to you. Facebook, where the typical user has 190 friends, shows how three degrees of separation gets you to a network bigger than the population of Colorado. How many people are three "hops" from you?

Now if you still don't get it, simply the United States government is the largest single organization on Earth invading the privacy of individual human beings, individual businesses, and foreign governments, both within an international scope and within the United States.4

What might startle some people is in that same year, 2013, the current Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs John Bolton set up the John Bolton Super PAC which raised $11.3 million for Republican candidates in the 2014 and 2016 elections and in 2016 paid Cambridge Analytica at least $650,000 for voter data analysis and digital video. You might remember the name Cambridge Analytica in relationship to both privacy invasion and Russian interference issues related to the election of Donald Trump.

Anyway, most Americans have forgotten the 2013 and 2016 news. But Bolton hasn't nor have other Administration Officials. And so we learn in May that the NSA-created malware used to by digital criminals in cyberattacks against U.S. cities, a tool picked up by hackers in North Korea, Russia and China leaving a path of destruction around the world, a fact which was never reported to Microsoft by the NSA. In fact officials say the agency shouldn't be blamed for not informing the tech giant that it had uncovered vulnerability, keeping the secret for over five years.

While American government privacy invasion goes on and on, while similar private sector activity goes on and on even while receiving scrutiny and financial penalties but little regulation, Bolton et al. are having us worry about China and, therefore, Huawei.

Now let's consider a phrase in a sentence in The Guardian article quoted above (emphasis added): "US internet companies, their co-operation with the NSA exposed by Snowden's documents, fear a worldwide consumer backlash, and claim they were forced into co-operation by the law."

Apparently the U.S. technology community believes they should obey the law particularly when it involves spying around the world.  Bolton et al.agree. But when the U.S. technology community believes they should obey the law in other countries (i.e. Google in China), the American security apparatus doesn't agree. And, of course, it is simply unacceptable that foreign companies such as China's Huawei might be coerced by Chinese law.

Curiously, regarding Hauwei violating anyone's privacy or national security, not one piece of evidence of any kind has been offered. This is curious because on March 22, 2014, articles in the New York Times and the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel explained in detail that the NSA had hacked Huawei. As explained in the NY Times:

    One of the goals of the operation, code-named “Shotgiant,” was to find any links between Huawei and the People’s Liberation Army, one 2010 document made clear. But the plans went further: to exploit Huawei’s technology so that when the company sold equipment to other countries — including both allies and nations that avoid buying American products — the N.S.A. could roam through their computer and telephone networks to conduct surveillance and, if ordered by the president, offensive cyberoperations.
    “Many of our targets communicate over Huawei-produced products,” the N.S.A. document said. “We want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products,” it added, to “gain access to networks of interest” around the world.
    The documents offer no answer to a central question: Is Huawei an independent company, as its leaders contend, or a front for the People’s Liberation Army, as American officials suggest but have never publicly proved?
    Two years after Shotgiant became a major program, the House Intelligence Committee delivered an unclassified report on Huawei and another Chinese company, ZTE, that cited no evidence confirming the suspicions about Chinese government ties.

As noted at the time by Jack Goldsmith former United States Assistant Attorney General during the George W. Bush Administration:

    The Huawei revelations are devastating rebuttals to hypocritical U.S. complaints about Chinese penetration of U.S. networks, and also make USG protestations about not stealing intellectual property to help U.S. firms' competitiveness seem like the self-serving hairsplitting that it is.
    “The irony is that exactly what they are doing to us is what they have always charged that the Chinese are doing through us,” says a Huawei Executive.

The fact is Huawei isn't a national security threat as that has been traditionally defined. Rather Huawei is a private sector threat to the American private sector dominance role as the world's 21st Century technology leader. And the threat is in 5G technology.

In addition to a commercial market, 5G represents a revolution in military technology - the future landscape of warfare and cybersecurity could be fundamentally changed by 5G. It is being identified by many military experts as the cornerstone of future military technology. (Right now, at least, is is more susceptible to hacking, but that probably can be addressed in the future.)

There's just one problem about 5G as explained in The Washington Post:

    As U.S. officials have pressured allies not to use networking gear from Chinese technology giant Huawei over spying concerns, President Trump has urged American companies to “step up” and compete to provide the next generation of high-speed, low-lag wireless service known as 5G.
    There’s just one problem: Barely any U.S. companies manufacture the technology’s most critical components.
    The absence of a major U.S. alternative to foreign suppliers of 5G networking equipment underscores the growing dominance of Huawei, which has evolved into the world’s biggest supplier of telecom equipment, sparking fears within the Trump administration that a 5G network powered by Huawei’s wireless parts could endanger national security. And it throws into sharp relief the years-long retreat by U.S. firms from that market.

Four companies supply gear for 5G networks: China’s Huawei and ZTE, plus Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia.

Simply, while individual Americans spend very large sums to buy Apple phones, while the American investment community marvels and compliments Apple for the profits it made last week, while members of Congress assure that our military is stuck buying tanks and aircraft they don't need, and while the American military leaders fume about all this stupidity, China's Huawei in particular was looking towards the future of its business with the blessing of the Chinese government.

In other words, we're losing the technology competition. And first the Obama Administration and now the Trump Administration is just not having any of that.

The Obama Administration pursued the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement which subtly would have reduced China's impact on world trade with Obama arguing "if we don't pass this agreement—if America doesn't write those rules—then countries like China will".

However, because it was a long document dealing with complex details which many in leadership positions lack the skills to read or breadth of knowledge to place in a big picture context, criticism came from all sides - corporate interests, plus opposition from the left ranging from Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to Noam Chomsky and Robert Reich.

So Congress rejected it and Americans replaced Barack Obama with Donald Trump as President. America moved away from trade agreements, which gave the appearance of capitalistic competition through regulated private sector exclusivity, towards direct governmental intervention in the private sector economy effectively declaring The Phone War.

But no part of our government has encouraged an open policy debate discussing the why's, how's, and goals of  The Phone War. Instead we've been offered propaganda that simply isn't true. Of course, one must acknowledge that discussion of facts apparently ceased to be accepted as a methodology for developing policy generally in the American public arena around the beginning of the 21st Century.


We're Launching a 21st Century Asia-Pacific Cold War to
Undermine Chinese Technology and Trade Successes
The Phone War (Part 2)

It has been said that President Donald Trump has respect for Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Nonetheless, the Trump Administration (as did the Obama Administration) considers the competitive situation between the U.S. and China as very intense and threatening. The basic attitude is that it is imperative that the U.S move to check:
  1. China's rapid technological rise which in the critical 5G technology has surpassed the rest of the world and 
  2. Xi's Belt and Road Initiative which has made some expansion and leadership inroads into the globalized economy including Europe (see the post here War with China? Hardly! Instead, you need to know about the Belt and Road Initiative gains in Europe). 
As noted in previous posts, these policy choices, which have bipartisan support, derived from 19th and 20th Century worldviews, a 21st Century worldview clearly expressed by the Director of Policy Planning at the United States Department of State Kiron Skinner at a security forum March 29:

    So in China we have an economic competitor, we have an ideological competitor, one that really does seek a kind of global reach that many of us didn't expect a couple of decades ago, and I think it's also striking that it's the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian.

All of this sounds like a realistic view despite its racist component. But no one places it in the context of a lesser-quoted statement made by then Vice-President Xi to a group of overseas Chinese while visiting Mexico on February 11, 2009, regarding the 2008 financial crisis affecting the Atlantic oriented world filled with complaints about Chinese foreign trade:

    There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us. First, China doesn't export revolution; second, China doesn't export hunger and poverty; third, China doesn't come and cause you headaches. What more is there to be said?

It might be tempting to dismiss that statement except at the same visit Xi said "it was the greatest contribution towards the whole of the human race made by China to prevent its 1.3 billion people from hunger."

These public pronouncements were shocking to the Communist Party establishment at the time and reporting on them in the state-run news media was delayed.  They didn't reflect the official Party story.

Like Donald Trump, Xi is a product of his culture and his life which was explored in the post The story of China's new leadership generation as evinced by the life and words of its President.

One of the more absurd elements of American propaganda about China can be found in an article ‘Not on my watch’: China won’t be number one in the world, says Donald Trump which offers this:

    China’s economy was “not great” at the moment, Trump said. “Our economy has been fantastic. Because they were catching us, they were going to be bigger than us. If Hillary Clinton became president, China would have been a much bigger economy than us by the end of her term. And now it’s not even going to be close.”
    The president also said he believed China wanted to replace America as the world’s leading superpower, and it was “not going to happen with me”.
    “I think that’s their intention,” he said. “Why wouldn’t it be? I mean they’re very ambitious people, they’re very smart.”
    Economists at HSBC Holdings in 2018 projected China was on course to be the world’s biggest economy by 2030. The nation’s gross domestic product will stand at US$26 trillion in 2030, while US GDP will rise to US$25.2 trillion, according to the HSBC projection.

The flaw in the discussion in the article is that it ignores population size. If the U.S. and China's national GDP's were exactly the same, that in no way implies that the economies would be the same. Unless you think an economy exists to light up a scoreboard, you have to measure it in terms of the impact on the people.

From a numbers standpoint, if the two national GDP were equal, the per capita wealth of China would be 24% of that of the United States. In other words, assuming the money is a measurement of how well the people live in the economy, China's 1.4 billion people individually have far less than the 0.33 billion people in the United States.

Right now according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook Database, April 2018, the Gross Domestic Product using the purchasing-power-parity (PPP) valuation on a per person basis, the Chinese economy is about $16,536 per person while the U.S. is $57,029 per person. In terms of meaning to the average citizen, the U.S. economy is 3.45 times larger than China's.

There is absolutely no chance China's per capita wealth will equal the U.S. in the foreseeable future. Remember that back in 2008 Xi said "it was the greatest contribution towards the whole of the human race made by China to prevent its 1.3 billion people from hunger."

In terms of the total economy, China's competition represents no threat to the average American which would rise to the level of "war" - maybe to shareholders of some tech company, but not to the average American.

And as noted here in the post War with China? Hardly! Instead, you need to know about the Belt and Road Initiative gains in Europe a nuclear war between China and the U.S. would have two losing populations even if only the U.S. launched nuclear weapons. The post also asks the question "does anyone seriously think we could win a non-nuclear "land war" against 1.4 billion people who live in a country that at it's closest is about 6,000 miles away across an ocean?" And it also points out "the U.S. may be the largest naval power, but in contrast to China we need it just to get raw materials and other imports from, and goods exported to, Africa, Asia and Europe. China has road access to Africa, Asia and Europe."

In other words, rather than the rejected Obama Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Trump Administration has chosen to initiate an unsubtle Asia-Pacific Cold War requiring no Congressional vote. But make no mistake about it, this did not begin with Trump's election. As explained in the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific's 2013 annual publication Regional Security Outlook chapter titled THE U.S. ‘PIVOT’: A Preamble to the Asia Pacific’s Cold War?:

    Politically, militarily and economically, America is back (in Asia)! Yet rather than a fervor for Asia, it seems preoccupied to be back with a political ‘vengeance’ to not be outdone by the world’s most populous nation (China) which has now overtaken the U.S. as the world’s largest manufacturer and replaced Russia as Washington’s peer power.
    It began in Australia in November 2011, when U.S. President Barack Obama announced the stationing of Marines in Darwin by saying that “as we (the U.S.) plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region”. He added, “we will preserve our unique ability to project power and deter threats to peace”....

But what isn't being said (and wasn't said by Obama) is that the Cold War of the second half of the 20st Century began because the Soviet Union used troops to occupy parts of Europe and threatened further expansionist military activity which ended with its loss of the Soviet–Afghan War.

Since 1951, while occasionally flexing its muscles when threatened, The People's Republic of China has shown no territorial expansion intentions beyond territory like Taiwan, originally annexed in 1683 by the Qing dynasty of China, that has been contested since it claimed independence of the Chinese Mainland after the losing army of the Chinese Civil War fled there to occupy it.

Already offered in this blog are over 50 posts here that extensively discuss issues related to China. Five posts here explore the reality that is 21st Century China which all Americans should understand and should serve as the underlying information for a debate about starting a new cold war, this time against China.

Of course there is another block of information Americans should understand and should serve as the underlying information for a debate about starting a new cold war. Consider...

Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China. These words on the back of iPhones described the technology world order for decades - American engineering of devices manufactured in China to give the world affordable quality technology.

Do we now want The Phone War, an Asia-Pacific Cold War???  Apparently.

In October 2018 before US midterm elections, US Vice-President Mike Pence accused Beijing of using every tool at its disposal to undermine the US political system and warned American companies, including tech giant Alphabet, which owns Google, to disengage from China until the country stops actions aimed at undermining the US’ “most cherished ideals”.

But we need to understand that China has 1.4 billion people, nearly double the population of the United States and the European Union combined.

At the beginning of the Millennium the Chinese government for political reasons erected a "Great Firewall" blocking US online services from Facebook to Google. It had the effect of boosting the domestic internet industry massively and creating a separate Chinese ecosystem with its own innovations.

But with China pursuing its own tech ambitions, the Trump Administration has acted to cut 1.4 million Chinese and their tech firms off from American scientific know-how thereby pushing the world into a hard tech divide. Are we ready for this? Is it really a good idea?

What "most cherished ideals" of ours is China undermining?

Let's cut to the what is Mike Pence's bottom line for everything - the Christian fundamentalist right. The Chinese government inhibits, even arrests, Christian fundamentalists as they do all religious activists including those among their 22+ million Muslims, at least 10% of whom a fundamentalist and potential terrorists. Regarding Pence's view of China, as noted here in the post The U.S. "China threat" disinformation industry. It's ramping up agitation for a war with China in East Asia which America cannot possibly win!:

Today nuclear war is an abstract for most Americans. But not all Americans. As explained in the October 16, 2018 post "We’re modernizing our nuclear arsenal" to save the word of Jesus, Pence warns China and the world at the Koch funded Dr. Strangelove institute:

    Last month, Beijing shut down one of China’s largest underground churches. Across the country, authorities are tearing down crosses, burning bibles, and imprisoning believers. And Beijing has now reached a deal with the Vatican that gives the avowedly atheist Communist Party a direct role in appointing Catholic bishops. For China’s Christians, these are desperate times.
    We’re modernizing our nuclear arsenal. We’re fielding and developing new cutting-edge fighters and bombers....

It may be hard to understand for rabid right-wing Americans, but China's government has to govern 1.4 billion people. Given the chaos going on in the U.S. and Britain, do we expect those 1.4 billion people to enthusiastically embrace our form of government?

In fact, they have had 4,000+ years of government experience which tells them that having a kind of "emperor" works ok. The last time their governing system collapsed was when the West imposed its type of government and religion on them.

Let's become indignant about China's anti-religion government after Mike Pence has Trump open the United States to 14.5  million Muslims from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to be relocated as indicated in the map (which is about the same size and contains the same number of non-Muslim people as Xinjiang). They would become instant citizens who have an official language other than English while Pence tries to figure out what to do with 1.45 million potential Muslim fundamentalists who want to impose Islam beliefs on Christian fundamentalists through law, much like Pence's Pro-Life Christians are doing in many states.

But maybe the "most cherished ideals" threatened by China is our mythic free enterprise system in our great capitalist United States?

In the Part 1 we noted that in 2013 when Snowden released NSA documents it was reported: "US internet companies, their co-operation with the NSA exposed by Snowden's documents, fear a worldwide consumer backlash, and claim they were forced into co-operation by the law." So no, even though China is called "communist" in fact the U.S. government meddles in corporate business affairs all the time, particularly when it comes to tech.

Still, the Chinese mythic economic system is "communist." Except Huawei, which the Trump Administration is attacking, is a privately owned corporation as is the multinational technology company Lenovo (which in 2014 bought Motorola Mobility) and almost all the other Chinese tech companies.

Hence, one might see a story like the one to the left. Yes, the conference was hosted by Quingdoa Communist Party officials. And Chinese venture capitalists know that as their wealth grows their behavior will be carefully scrutinized. Success in China isn't measured in the wealth of the 1%. As President Xi said "it was the greatest contribution towards the whole of the human race made by China to prevent its 1.3 billion people from hunger."

But still, using direct governmental intervention in the private sector economy under a Republican President and Congress, the U.S. government has launched The Phone War, an Asia-Pacific Cold War.

It appears we are about to get what we, or at least our Christian right and Neocons like Mike Pence and John Bolton, want. On Wednesday, May 29, 2019, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the People's Daily offered some advice to Americans in an editorial titled “United States, don’t underestimate China’s ability to strike back”:

    We advise the U.S. side not to underestimate the Chinese side’s ability to safeguard its development rights and interests. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

This puts us in very special company. The phrase “Don’t say we didn’t warn you” was only used two other times in history by the People’s Daily — in 1962 before the China-India border war and ahead of the 1979 China-Vietnam War.

And so many supposedly well-informed Americans started learning something, among the hundreds of important things Americans don't know about China. In 2017, China produced 81% of the world's rare-earth supply, mostly in Inner Mongolia, although it had only 36.7% of reserves. Australia was the second and only other major producer with 15% of world production.

Despite the fact that you are among the 20-25% of American high school graduates that took biology, chemistry, physics, and pre-calculous, you may not remember what rare earth is.

A rare-earth element is one of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table including  cerium (Ce), dysprosium (Dy), erbium (Er), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), holmium (Ho), lanthanum (La), lutetium (Lu), neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr), promethium (Pm), samarium (Sm), scandium (Sc), terbium (Tb), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb), and yttrium (Y).

And being one of those high school science nerds, you probably remember we are significantly dependent upon a supply of rare-earth elements (though the popular-press-for-shallow-thinkers has focused mostly on things like smart phones and electric cars). Per Wikipedia:

    ...Some important uses of rare-earth elements are applicable to the production of high-performance magnets, catalysts, alloys, glasses, and electronics....  Rare-earth elements in this category are used in the electric motors of hybrid vehicles, wind turbines, hard disc drives, portable electronics, microphones, speakers. Ce and La are important as catalysts, and are used for petroleum refining and as diesel additives. Ce, La and Nd are important in alloy making, and in the production of fuel cells and Nickel-metal hydride batteries. Ce, Ga and Nd are important in electronics and are used in the production of LCD and plasma screens, fiber optics, lasers, as well as in medical imaging. Additional uses for earth elements are as tracers in medical applications, fertilizers, and in water treatment.
    REEs have been used in agriculture to increase plant growth, productivity, and stress resistance seemingly without negative effects for human and animal consumption. REEs are used in agriculture through REE-enriched fertilizers.... In addition, REEs are feed additives for livestock which has resulted in increased production such as larger animals and a higher production of eggs and dairy products. However, this practice has resulted in REE bio-accumulation....

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a high-profile visit last week to one of the country’s major rare earth mining and processing facilities in Ganzhou, Jiangxi province (quick, find Ganzhou, Jiangxi province on a map without using your rare earth dependent device).

The ultimate reality of The Phone War is already appearing. As noted in Everyone’s winning the US-China trade war except the US and China:

    he tariffs imposed on goods traded between the United States and China are re-shaping the global economy, but not the way the chief antagonist in that battle, US president Donald Trump, has predicted.
    While trade with China has fallen slightly, the statistics also show that imports to the United States from other developing economies are fast increasing. In other words, the White House’s nationalist trade policy is changing where the United States sources its imports, not growing production at home.
    The overall trade deficit hasn’t gone away, with US government data from 2018 showing a record high US trade deficit of $891 billion. The reason is simple—US businesses looking to import cheap goods abroad are simply turning to different markets. One obvious choice is Mexico, where the United States had a record high trade deficit in March 2019, and from other advanced economies—imports from Germany and Japan hit record-high levels in March as well.
    As the Council on Foreign Relations’ Brad Setser pointed out, one of the biggest winners is Vietnam, which has seen its trade with the United States increase dramatically. While some at the US Treasury are examining the situation for signs that Vietnam is artificially devaluing its currency to be more competitive in global markets, Setser concluded that “the recent jump in its surplus (and the surplus of many other East Asian economies) is almost certainly the consequence of Trump’s tariffs on China.”
    Which makes sense, considering the country’s recent development trajectory as a kind of China in waiting, making everything from furniture to consumer electronics. Some Chinese companies have simply moved their factories into Vietnam in response to the new tariffs, while its participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global free trade deal, has integrated it more deeply into existing supply chains. It’s a similar story with Malaysia, also a TPP member.

The rare earth threat cannot be ignored, but in 2018 U.S. imports accounted for just 4% of China’s rare earth shipments. Other sources such as Australia and Malaysia could replace the Chinese supply but costs would increase. As with everything else used as a weapon in this game, there would be two losers, the U.S. and China.

Much of the Huawei situation is like this. Yes, the imposition of embargoes by the Trump Administration preventing the export to China of chips from Intel and advanced Android functions  from Google will create problems for Huawei. It had become the world's second largest smart phone company, second to Samsung as seen in the chart below:
There is no question Huawei will be hurt in terms of worldwide sales. But Huawei will in all likelihood have its own operating system to replace Android in a relatively short time and will replace any chips not available in the U.S. And OPPO and Vivo are both Chinese companies.

This brings us to another fact about launching The Phone War -  As indicated in the chart below, China represents 20%+ of the smartphone market, the U.S. 4.5%.

Only an idiot would think the Chinese firms won't end up with nearly exclusive access to the Chinese market and, oh, they don't need English language apps from Google.

Of course, phones really aren't the hot issue in technology - it is the 5G implementation which for almost all of the United States hasn't even begun. Yet we've started an Asia-Pacific Cold War ostensibly over possibilities related to 5G.

With regard to all of this in the context of international relations and the Climate Change crisis,it is discouraging to consider together these statements:
    So in China we have an economic competitor, we have an ideological competitor, one that really does seek a kind of global reach that many of us didn't expect a couple of decades ago, and I think it's also striking that it's the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian. - Kiron Skinner, Director of Policy Planning, United States Department of State

    Beijing is pursuing a comprehensive and coordinated campaign to undermine support for the President, our agenda, and our nation’s most cherished ideals. - Mike Pence, Vice-President of the United States

    There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us. First, China doesn't export revolution; second, China doesn't export hunger and poverty; third, China doesn't come and cause you headaches. What more is there to be said? - Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China

    What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered? - Donald Trump, President of the United States

Let us hope that we will not be remembered as the nation that started The Phone War!5

  1. This is not to be confused with The Phoney War, a relatively quiet eight-month period at the start of World War II in Europe - that's not the subject of this post.
  2. There is a term that defines Trump's failure to effectively present these thoughts: 
  3. The irony of trying to use the pre-WWII America First Committee's antisemitism against Trump apparently is lost on many who should be more worried about investments in Kushner Companies from Isreali interests and Kushner family's investment in West Bank settlement projects and donations to a Jerusalem hospital prior to the decision to move the American Embassy there which signal Jared Kushner's pro-Israel stance.
  4. Politico's May 30, 2019 Morning Cybersecurity briefing explained: "A coalition of human rights groups, tech companies and security researchers today signaled opposition to a proposal from U.K. Government Communications Headquarters officials to give law enforcement the ability to to view encrypted messages. “The ‘ghost key’ proposal put forward by GCHQ would enable a third party to see the plain text of an encrypted conversation without notifying the participants,” wrote the coalition, which includes Apple, Google and Microsoft as well as organizations like New America’s Open Technology Institute, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology. The idea “poses serious threats to cybersecurity and fundamental human rights including privacy and free expression,” according to the coalition."
  5. Then again, I'm an old guy who started coding software in 1970 and am truly disappointed that the proliferation of smartphones is the predominant outcome of many thousands of manhours of labor. Maybe our civilization should fail if this is the best we can do with our Western technology.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The very-American delusion behind Trump's foreign policy
The Bold 19th Century and 21st Century Women Architect-Advocates of America's Manifest Destiny

Jane Cazneau - The 19th Century Mistress of Manifest Destiny

The first female war correspondent in American history, Jane Cazneau, is credited with coining the term "Manifest Destiny" in 1845.

The term "manifest destiny" appeared in an unsigned editorial entitled "Annexation" in the United States Magazine and Democratic Review which at the time was edited by John L. O'Sullivan who was rescued from obscurity in the twentieth century after the term was traced back to the publication and was assumed to have been written by him (after all, he was a man).

In fact Cazneau regularly wrote for the publication but it wasn't until Linda S. Hudson in her 2001 biography of Cazneau Mistress of Manifest Destiny that Cazneau was credited and then only because Hudson used computer-aided "textual analysis" to support her argument.

In the editorial, Cazneau wrote almost prophetically (emphasis added):

    Why, were other reasoning wanting, in favor of now elevating this question of the reception of Texas into the Union, out of the lower region of our past party dissensions, up to its proper level of a high and broad nationality, it surely is to be found, found abundantly, in the manner in which other nations have undertaken to intrude themselves into it, between us and the proper parties to the case, in a spirit of hostile interference against us, for the avowed object of thwarting our policy and hampering our power, limiting our greatness and checking the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.
    Away, then, with all idle French talk of balances of power on the American Continent. There is no growth in Spanish America! Whatever progress of population there may be in the British Canadas, is only for their own early severance of their present colonial relation to the little island three thousand miles across the Atlantic; soon to be followed by Annexation, and destined to swell the still accumulating momentum of our progress. And whosoever may hold the balance, though they should cast into the opposite scale all the bayonets and cannon, not only of France and England, but of Europe entire, how would it kick the beam against the simple, solid weight of the two hundred and fifty, or three hundred millions–and American millions–destined to gather beneath the flutter of the stripes and stars, in the fast hastening year of the Lord 1945!

This was motivated by economic self-interest. In 1832, Jane's father ventured into land speculation, and was one of the founders of the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company. Jane and her brother Robert traveled to Texas, which was then still part of Mexico, to buy land. The next year, Jane (pictured right), her father, her brother Robert and a company of German settlers set out to take possession of the land, but when the scheme failed she returned home with her father to Brunswick, NY. Her brother Robert remained in Texas and eventually became a wealthy planter. Also at this time, Eliza Jumel named her as co-respondent in her divorce suit with Aaron Burr, alleging an affair in addition to his ruinous attempt at land speculation.

Though a northerner Cazneau embraced the expansion of the South, and of slavery, its 'peculiar institution', into Central America and the Caribbean. President John Polk sent her on a secret peace mission to Mexico in 1845 which evolved into her Mexican-American War coverage, after which she began advocating Cuba's annexation and denouncing its Spanish colonial status. She did not live long enough to see the Spanish-American War. Having married William Cazneau in 1849, they moved  to the Dominican Republic in 1855. She wrote that the Civil War was a serious interruption to further prospects of American expansion in the Caribbean. In 1878, she was drowned when her ship sank in a storm on her way to Santo Domingo.

The term Manifest Destiny was used to justify the war with Mexico. One might speculate that if alive today Cazneau would be a Trump supporter on Fox News because of her political and personal opinions would fit nicely into Trump's view of life. 

As explained in the Wikipedia entry, Manifest Destiny:

    The legacy is a complex one....
    The belief in an American mission to promote and defend democracy throughout the world, as expounded by Thomas Jefferson and his "Empire of Liberty" and Abraham Lincoln, was continued by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Under Harry Truman (and Douglas MacArthur) it was implemented in practice in the American rebuilding of Japan and Germany after World War II. George W. Bush in the 21st century applied it to the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tyner argues that in proclaiming a mission to combat terror, Bush was continuing a long tradition of prophetic presidential action to be the beacon of freedom in the spirit of manifest destiny.
    President Woodrow Wilson continued the policy of interventionism in the Americas, and attempted to redefine both manifest destiny and America's "mission" on a broader, worldwide scale. Wilson led the United States into World War I with the argument that "The world must be made safe for democracy." In his 1920 message to Congress after the war, Wilson stated:

    ... I think we all realize that the day has come when Democracy is being put upon its final test. The Old World is just now suffering from a wanton rejection of the principle of democracy and a substitution of the principle of autocracy as asserted in the name, but without the authority and sanction, of the multitude. This is the time of all others when Democracy should prove its purity and its spiritual power to prevail. It is surely the manifest destiny of the United States to lead in the attempt to make this spirit prevail.
    This was the only time a president had used the phrase "manifest destiny" in his annual address....
    "Manifest destiny" is sometimes used by critics of U.S. foreign policy to characterize interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere. In this usage, "manifest destiny" is interpreted as the underlying cause of what is denounced by some as "American imperialism." A more positive-sounding phrase devised by scholars at the end of the twentieth century is "nation building," and State Department official Karin Von Hippel notes that the U.S. has "been involved in nation-building and promoting democracy since the middle of the nineteenth century and 'Manifest Destiny.'"

Has the reality of the 21st Century been overlain with a veneer of American 19th Century delusion clouding the eyes of many Americans, particularly those in the Trump Administration?

The correct word is "overlain", the past participle of "overlie", as it means to cover, overwhelm, or smother. That is different from "overlaid", the past participle of "overlay" which means adds something such as "he overlaid the railroad routes to the highway map."

The ideological seeds of the Trump Administration as supported by The Deplorables were planted in 19th Century America. We grew a belief in Manifest Destiny the policy effects of which are well expressed by John Gast’s painting “American Progress”.

Its images which in truth were of government subsidized railroads and homesteaders taking advantage of the various Homestead Acts (though the subsidized portion is a commonly shared denial), includes in its darkness slavery, hysterical anti-heretic religious discrimination ranging from the witch trials to anti-Catholic pogroms, the genocidal American Indian Wars, the permanent occupation resulting from the Mexican American War, and the Imperialism of the Spanish American War of 1898 which was reflected in this political cartoon of the time...

Kiron Skinner - The 21st Century Mistress of Manifest Destiny

All of this brings us to the racist history underlying the Trump Administration's approach to China. And to understand that, you need to be aware of another woman,  Kiron Skinner, who on behalf of the Trump Administration appears to have embraced a 21st Century update of Cazneau's worldview.

But first, some history review is required....

On May 6, 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law just 13 years after the Last Spike was driven to connect east and west portions of the Transcontinental Railroad. The Act effectively barred the Chinese from entering the country and prevented them from achieving citizenship. It was an addition to the 1875 Page Act, which banned Chinese women from immigrating to the United States. These were the first laws implemented to prevent all members of a specific racial, ethnic or national group from immigrating and/or obtaining citizenship. Thus began a period of systematic discrimination against the Chinese, hundreds of whom built the west portion of the railroad as part of the achievement of America's Manifest Destiny.

Now you might ask why I would bring up this history today? What could it possibly have to do with current government policy. Well apparently whether white or black, historically in the 19th Century or currently in the 21st Century, American foreign policy officials really do seem to have a problem with Asians, particularly the Chinese as an ethnic group.

Earlier this month, building on a story that appeared in the Washington Examiner, The Washington Post headlined its report Because China isn’t ‘Caucasian,’ the U.S. is planning for a ‘clash of civilizations.’ That could be dangerous. From another source defending the "Caucasian" reference, I learned that the Director of Policy Planning at the United States Department of State Kiron Skinner said at a security forum March 29: "So in China we have an economic competitor, we have an ideological competitor, one that really does seek a kind of global reach that many of us didn't expect a couple of decades ago, and I think it's also striking that it's the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian."

Kiron Kanina Skinner having been raised in California should
  1. be aware of Japan's position in Asia in the first half of the 20th Century - you know, we fought them, used the atomic bomb on them, etc. - and 
  2. understand that the Japanese are not Caucasian. 
She has a superlative education and extensive experience in government and in politics. Oh, and she's black which superficially would seem to caution her about racial references particularly because she was a student of, Condoleezza Rice, the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the ideologically Neoconservative Hoover Institution.

So when I read that Skinner is the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow and a member of the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, it started to dawn on me that her likely ideological orientation is Neoconservative. Like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton she's one of the Neocon's in the Trump foreign policy group.

She worked on the political campaigns of George W. Bush,  Newt Gingrich,  and Mitt Romney and served on Trump's transition team. Her academic life includes extensive published work on Ronald Reagan. She is a Fox News contributor.

And today she works directly for Secretary of State and former Congressman from Kansas Mike Pompeo who in a talk at the right wing, Koch Brothers funded Heritage Foundation on May 21, 2018, said: "First as a private citizen and then as a member of Congress, and even today, the Heritage Foundation has shaped my thinking on matters of the world and public policy issues".

Skinner’s office is composing what it calls “Letter X” — styled after George Kennan’s “X Article” that laid out an argument for containing the Soviet Union during the first years of the Cold War. In other words, the Trump Neocons such as Skinner are set on creating a new Cold War with China's 1.4 billion people.

Unfortunately in the long term that makes no sense in the context of Climate Change which in the late-21st Century will wipe away the veneer of American 19th Century delusion.

And unfortunately, as will be explored in the next post, by embracing in the 21st Century the American 19th Century delusion the implementation of new 5G technology for use by the average American will be significantly delayed.

But when Trump said he wanted to "Make America Great Again" he apparently meant embracing that Manifest Destiny delusion, though perhaps he is unaware that it launched the United States into its first two foreign wars of aggression.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Climate Change Black Death surrounds us
Britain's "civilized debate" via lithium powered "devices" over solutions to the Climate Change crisis is fiddling while Rome (and the World) burns

In a series of posts here grouped under climate change black death surrounds us both news and context regarding Climate Change have been offered. We continue now with new reports.

This past week news stories told us that the United Kingdom Parliament officially declared an environment and climate emergency in response to the month long protests of school climate strikers and the environmental group Extinction Rebellion.

Symbolically, this is seen as hopeful. After all, the Industrial Revolutions (see list to Wikipedia links at right) began in the late 1700s when British inventor James Watt fed blocks of coal into a steam-engine boiler, catapulting Great Britain into a global power and humanity into the carbon spewing species.

Now, of course, we realize that beginning 400 years ago in Britain we set a 500-year course to leave behind to our descendants some 100 years from now what will be, for a large majority of species including humans, an uninhabitable planet.

For over centuries fossil fuels of multiple types were used to make the world an economically better place to live ...well, Western Europe and North America plus on average the rest of the world.

And, of course, the new Parliamentary measure which supposedly demonstrates the will of the British House of Commons to change that course
  1. does not legally compel the government to act,
  2. was approved without a vote, and 
  3. Conservative Party MP's were told to not openly oppose the motion.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn led the motion process. Responding for the Conservative Party government, the environment secretary, Conservative Michael Gove indicated a shared concern about something. According to The Guardian:

    Gove, in response, said he shared the same broad ideas: “Not only do I welcome the opportunity that this debate provides, I also want to make it clear that on this side of the house we recognise that the situation we face is an emergency. It is a crisis, it is a threat, that all of us have to unite to meet.”
    There was, Gove argued, “a green thread of ambition running through Conservative governments”.
    However, when the Green MP Caroline Lucas intervened in the speech to ask how that approach could be reconciled with the government’s decision to back a third runway at Heathrow airport, Gove did not reply, prompting shouts from MPs of “Answer the question.”
    Gove said it was wrong “to say that any one party in this house has a monopoly of virtue.” He said: “Let’s try to ensure that we have a civilised debate that combines a sense of urgency about the challenge in front of us and a determination to take action in the future.”
    Gove promised to challenge Trump and other world leaders on climate inaction, saying he hoped to discuss the issue with the US president during his forthcoming state visit to the UK: “I want to make it clear to him that as the world’s biggest polluter he has to take responsibility.”

In other words, in the face of near rebellion by the generation that will suffer Climate Change impacts the most, Britain's democratic government reacknowledged the existence of the Climate Change problem, an acknowledgement already formalized on April 22, 2016, when it ratified the The Paris Agreement.

Of course, Britain will
  • in the near future add a runway to an airport to encourage further carbon spewing, 
  • assure future "civilised debate" in Parliament over actually doing anything to insure the success of The Paris Agreement, and 
  • tell U.S. President Donald Trump he has to take responsibility.
As noted here previously, the Trump Administration has already acknowledged America's share of the responsibility in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Environmental Impact Statement that states that severe Climate Change is inevitable. And the U.S. military is officially and actively focused on dealing future catastrophic impacts of Climate Change on U.S. military facilities. (We've also noted that China has acknowledge that inevitability.)

The behavior of Trump and most Americans in the face of Climate Change is, of course, all about the continued need for fossil fuels (and steak ) to continue U.S. economic expansion and more iPhone use.

If you have followed the news about the Trump Administration's policy changes regarding oil drilling - permitting it along coastlines which has been sidelined until after the 2020 election, additional drilling in the Arctic offshore areas and Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge, large increases in drilling permits in federal lands, etc. - you might discover that Trump has a fixation on the pivotal role of fossil fuels in the economy.

For instance, of key importance to Trump's reelection is the problem of increasing oil prices. That concern is based on a reality - those GenX and older Americans who commute, those Americans who use devices, and those Millennial and younger Americans who are flocking to cities, all have contributed to huge increases in demand for fossil fuels. Contrary to popular belief, the huge 21st Century expansion in solar and wind energy production in the U.S. has  been offset by a greater increase in energy use.

Ironically, some of the expanded need for fossil fuels has been the result of liberals/progressives increasing their communications with each other about Climate Change. You see, they don't send letters to each other which would have not resulted in an increase in the postal service delivery energy use. They, particularly the young ones and old people like me, use devices and the internet ... and use devices and the internet ... and use devices and the internet ... and....

For an old person, one of the more curious facts explained by David Wallace-Wells in his The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, (the book all Americans who think they care about and are doing something about the environment and/or Climate Change should read) is:

    Five years ago, hardly anyone outside the darkest corners of the internet had even heard of Bitcoin; today mining it consumes more electricity than is generated by all the world’s solar panels combined, which means that in just a few years we’ve assembled, out of distrust of one another and the nations behind “fiat currencies,” a program to wipe out the gains of several long, hard generations of green energy innovation.

Another of the more curious facts he explains is:

    Cities, where the world will overwhelmingly live in the near future, only magnify the problem of high temperature. Asphalt and concrete and everything else that makes a city dense....

Wallace-Wells offers the obvious observation:

    "Market forces have delivered cheaper and more widely available green energy, but the same market forces have absorbed those innovations, which is to say profited from them, while continuing to grow emissions.

And he notes:

    If the average American were confined by the carbon footprint of her European counterpart, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by more than half. If the world’s richest 10 percent were limited to that same footprint, global emissions would fall by a third. And why shouldn’t they be? Almost as a prophylactic against climate guilt, as the news from science has grown bleaker, Western liberals have comforted themselves by contorting their own consumption patterns into performances of moral or environmental purity—less beef, more Teslas, fewer transatlantic flights. But the climate calculus is such that individual lifestyle choices do not add up to much, unless they are scaled by politics.

In other words, Trump's policies are reflective of the energy demands of Americans including those engaging in criticism of Trump's me.

If you use the internet - and since you're reading this you are using the internet - you might want to consider the February update article linked below:

Perhaps that gives just a hint of why keeping fossil fuel prices low is important to you and I, internet users.

We all sort of know this. Nonetheless, a 1,500-page U.N. report approved by representatives from the United States, Britain, and 130 other countries, was released this Monday in Paris telling us (again) that we humans are transforming Earth’s environment so significantly that 1,000,000± plant and animal species are facing extinction. That extinction is a dire threat to ecosystems that people depend on for their survival.

The report was compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies which, if the environment is a concern, you probably already learned about on your lithium-powered device months or even years ago.

Sandra Díaz of Argentina, Professor of Community and Ecosystem Ecology at Córdoba National University a co-chair of the global assessment, noted for the press: "Biodiversity and nature's contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity's most important life-supporting 'safety net.' But our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point."

What safety net? The United States and China have already said we have no safety net because we humans, as noted for the record by the British House of Commons, reserve the right to engage in future "civilised debate" on Climate Change matters settled in the scientific community at least three decades ago, an activity otherwise known as "fiddling while Rome burns."

Which brings us to the ultimate question about what a privileged life accords ordinary Americans and Western Europeans. Consider this story in the Los Angeles Times (click on image below to link to full story):

The story came with a video that offers strong emphasis on a simple fact - in America every issue is separate.

A request to drill for lithium near Death Valley National Park
has alarmed environmentalists, who say mining the metal is
 unacceptable, even if it is an essential ingredient in the pro-
duction of zero-emission electric vehicles.                        

Lithium is just one of the materials in batteries we all depend upon to power our plethora of 21st Century devices folks didn't "need" prior to the last months of the 20th Century.

We intend to expand the use of batteries to combat Climate Change. You see we've decided that a low-carbon economy will require batteries installed in homes and businesses that will account for 57% of the world’s energy storage capacity by 2040, in addition to more and more devices. However we feel about Climate Change we have no intention of being confined to the energy use of even our European counterparts.

Yes, the hugely expanded use of raw materials such as lithium, nickel, manganese, colbalt and graphite already incur enormous human and environmental costs. But we need them to protect humans and the environment by chit-chatting instantly with others.

There are those that say we could significantly eliminate the human and environmental costs by recycling the materials. But heck, we can't even get the Chinese to continue to recycle our plastics for us. So it shouldn't be a surprise that on our own we are unlikely to achieve any significant level of recycling of battery materials.

The truth is, we haven't even begun to compare the very real environmental costs of battery-based alternative energy. We call it solar and wind which are available only when the Sun is out or the wind is blowing. But we need energy 24/7. So we store the energy in batteries. Will stored energy be worse or better for the environment than energy generated by natural gas? Might it not be better if only we would pay say 4 times what we do now for electricity? What do we really know other than we - all Americans regardless of political view - are the most wasteful, destructive organism subset on the planet?

The 21st Century Climate Change Black Death is happening now.
                                                                                                          If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

This post is a part of a series:  climate change black death surrounds us