10 Monday AM Reads

My Floridian morning train beach reads: • Can We Be Brutally Honest About Investment Returns? (MoneyBeat) • How Warren Buffett’s billionaire deputy became an “expert-generalist” (Quartz) • Inside Amazon Go, a Store of the Future: The technology inside Amazon’s includes no checkout lines. (New York Times) • Complexity Bias: Why We Prefer Complicated to Simple (Farnam Street) • The Spartans Were Morons (Task and Purpose) Be…

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How does uncertainty affect how UK firms invest? 

How does uncertainty affect how UK firms invest? Marko Melolinna and Srdan Tatomir Bank Underground, JANUARY 05 2018         Uncertainty is in the spotlight again. And the MPC believe it is an important factor influencing the slowdown in domestic demand (August 2017 Inflation Report). Previous work by Haddow et al. (2013) has found a composite aggregate indicator of…

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Cold War Mentality Belies Fear Of Democratic World Order

Via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

This past week saw a spate of international security alarms which underlines the danger of the world stumbling into catastrophic war. Those alarms, which were either false or hyped up, stem from a Cold War mentality.



Such a mentality is not only dangerous, it is also unacceptable in today’s world.

First, we saw the US territory of Hawaii being put on full-scale alert over a supposed incoming ballistic missile. The alarm turned out to be false. There was no such incoming missile, but the entire population on the Pacific island were put through 38 minutes of sheer torment.

A day after that incident, Japan’s air-raid system also put a similar false alert.

In both cases, it was assumed that the non-existent missiles had been fired from North Korea.

Meanwhile in Europe, fighter jets from Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain – all members of the US-led NATO alliance – were scrambled to intercept two Russian warplanes. The Russian Ministry of Defense rejected claims that its aircraft were acting “provocatively”, saying that the pair of Russian Tu-160 bombers had at all times been flying in international airspace on a routine exercise.

The latter type of incident appears to be an increasing occurrence. Over the past two months, British navy frigates have made a point of “escorting” Russian warships navigating “near British territorial waters”. Again, as with the air intercept incident this week, the Russian Ministry said that its warships have at all times adhered to international waters.

It is not Russian aircraft or vessels that are being provocative. It is British and other NATO states who are in effect trying to interdict Russia’s legal right to use international airspace and maritime territory.

Britain in particular seems to be hamming up claims of “defending” its territory from non-existing Russian threat. The irony here is that Russia has had to contend in recent years with an increasing number of NATO aircraft and naval vessels entering the Baltic and Black Sea regions. But the Western news media say little about that, while flagging up headlines about alleged Russian “provocations”.

This alarmist situation whether in regard to Asia-Pacific or Europe is deplorable. The volatile atmosphere leads to fear-mongering and runs the risk of false alarms being raised. That, in turn, runs the risk of misunderstandings and the very grave danger of a military response escalating into conflict, or worse.

It is incumbent on all to heed the concern expressed by former US Defense Secretary William Perry, who served in the President Clinton administration. Perry said recently that the world is now at greater risk of a nuclear catastrophe than at any time during the former Cold War.

This fiendish predicament arises from a Cold War mentality maintained by Washington and its NATO allies. That mentality perceives and portrays the world in ideological terms of “us and them”, “free nations and unfree nations”, “allies and enemies”. This antagonistic worldview is essential for Washington upholding ambitions of a “unipolar world” under its “leadership” or, more bluntly, dominance and hegemony.

Such a worldview is essentially about one power and its NATO acolytes trying to exert geopolitical control over others, rather than embracing the reality and more viable arrangement of multilateralism. For unipolar ambition, it is necessary to present the world as an adversarial scenario. Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and other “non-conforming” nations must be cast as “rivals”, “opponents”, “rogue nations”.

That, in turn, leads to international relations becoming fraught with adversarial agendas and belligerence. The relentless Russophobia in Western official discourse based on groundless claims of Russian interference in Western politics is typical of the inevitable hostility.

In short, the US and its NATO subordinates persist in a Cold War mindset in order to fulfill ambitions of unipolar control.

But as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pointed out this week the notion of a unipolar world is negated by the growing reality of a multipolar international order. The rise of China’s economic power is perhaps the clearest testimony.

As long as Washington pursues this unacceptable ambition of dominance, then the world will continue to be frustrated by antagonistic tensions.

International relations must instead be conducted on the basis of equality under the universal protection of law and sovereign rights. And diplomacy must be the currency of relations.

There can be no place for threats, ultimatums and unilateral use of military power. The US-NATO summit in Vancouver this week where a small group of nations assume the prerogative of issuing ultimatums to North Korea to disarm unilaterally, rather than these nations embracing diplomacy to resolve that crisis is typical of an anachronistic Cold War mentality. It is counterproductive, futile and totally unacceptable.

That mentality is putting the world on a dangerous threshold where tensions and alarms are recklessly risking a catastrophe.

The anachronistic Cold War mindset must be decommissioned for a new political paradigm of democratic internationalism.