Wednesday Night #1620 with Jim Mylonas of BCA

Written by  //  March 20, 2013  //  Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

To describe the discussion as ‘lively’ would be an injustice to the informative, often passionate, debate over the Middle East and Israel, arising initially from the topic of Cyprus, leading to its proximity to the underwater gas fields currently the subject of rival claims by Lebanon and Israel.

In a swift rejoinder to Wednesday’s discussion came Thursday morning’s speech by President Obama in Jerusalem [Obama tells Israelis that settlement activity hurts peace]

Kyle Matthews announced that June 11-12 the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) is hosting a two-day, non-credit, professional training program focused on the prevention of genocide and mass atrocity crimes.

Nowruz image Happy Norooz!!
(you may also see this spelled Nowruz) Norooz means “new day” and is the Persian New Year. It is a non-denominational celebration of the coming of spring at the moment of the Vernal Equinox (7:02 am this morn).
Thank you, Alan Hustak, source of so much eclectic information.
Highlighting the celebration of Nowruz, we were happy to welcome Somayeh Kaviani and her husband Hosein Maleki
The P R O L O G U E

We like that BCA abbreviates its Geopolitical Strategy to GPS, giving us the comforting feeling that BCA offers a reliable analysis of where we are and maybe even a navigation tool to tell us where we are heading. This is abetted by the excellent charts that accompany BCA’s Reports.
Among the guideposts that are offered for March:
Global overview – Beware of the Ides of March?  [In] our view policy will provide a tailwind to the markets in 2013, one of our central themes for the year.
Europe: Investors Salute End Of Austerity … The ‘end of austerity’ theme is finally resonating in the markets  (Kimon, take note!)
Middle East: Watch Benjamin Netanyahu, focusing on Israel-Iran relations  … The upcoming Obama trip to Israel will be important to watch as it gives PM Netanyahu an opportunity to make a prominent statement on the Iranian nuclear program. (For another view of President Obama’s first visit to Israel see the section on Settlement Expansion in Israelis Distrust Obama’s Resolve on Iranian Nukes, Syrian Weapons (Israeli settlement expansion lies at the heart of much of the rancour between Netanyahu and Obama)
East Asia: How Serious Is The North Korean Rhetoric?  GPS offers this reassuring thought The recent Google delegation to North Korea seemed to suggest that Kim was dabbling with the idea of allowing some interaction with the outside world. The nuclear test and current tensions could therefore be an attempt to build credibility with  the hawks before he attempts to open up North Korea incrementally over the next decade. We note there is no reference to the visit of distinguished American diplomat, Dennis Rodman, but that’s probably because he had already set his eyes on acquiring a new BFF at the Vatican.
In Focus –
— Immigration Wars: the Coming Battle For Skilled Migrants … Change in U.S. immigration policy is the first shot of the coming ‘immigration war.’ This war will not be fought by opponents and proponents of immigration, but rather by developed economies (DM) looking to ‘import’ high-skilled migrants. … The losers will be emerging economies (EM), who will see their best and brightest siphoned away in greater numbers. We disagree with the OECD’s assessment that high-skilled migrants from Asia and other EM countries will choose their own high-growth economies over the option to migrate.
This section of the GPS is particularly pertinent for Canada which is also struggling with the development of a cogent policy – see Robert Sibley’s piece in the Ottawa Citizen The immigration questions we dare not ask
The Report analyses the investment implications of sequestration (no influence on the bull market) and provides a useful U.S. Political Calendar (see p.28)
In “Break Glass in Case of X”, it adds two warnings:
(1) Republicans Can’t Be The Only Ones Making Concessions –
GPS’ baseline view is that President Obama will offer sufficient entitlement reform to get enough Republicans on board for a broader budget deal. However, carrots must be offered sooner rather than later or the president runs the chance that GOP leaders will refuse to pass any measures that are not heavily weighted toward spending cuts. More important, a stalemate over future budget negotiations in 2013 would result in the sequestration cuts being implemented in full and for an extended period. Since this would mean that government spending is reduced and that deficit reduction would be heavily weighted toward spending cuts, the GOP might view this as the best way to earn a legislative victory.
(2) Obama Changes His Strategy, Again
In the weeks leading up to the March 1 sequestration implementation deadline, President Obama sidestepped Republican leaders in Congress in an attempt to garner public support for his “balanced approach” strategy. The result was an unexpected (at least by the Obama administration) fall in the president’s approval rating, and a rapid change in strategy as Obama reached out to senior Republican members in the Senate. The public rejected Obama’s blame-game strategy.
Obama could again switch gears if the economy suffers from the sequestration cuts, giving him ammunition for his blame-the-GOP approach. … If he begins lobbying for concessions on entitlement cuts, that it is a good sign for our view that bi-partisanship is possible.
A good bellwether on Obama’s willingness to go against his party is the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline is vociferously opposed by the environmental activists who represent an important grassroots movement for the Democratic Party. If Obama is willing to go against his party base on Keystone, then it may be a signal that he is willing to move toward the center on other matters in his second term.

Ah, yes, Keystone – the fly in everyone’s ointment on both sides of the border. Especially given the conflicting estimates of job creation, future energy requirements, refining capacities and environmental impact that are being hurled at the unsuspecting public by proponents and opponents. (Thanks to Sam Boshra for forwarding this link to the Keystone XL New York Times ad: ‘The Choice of Reason’ or the height of cynicism? with the comment “It’s sad that I’ve come to expect the Government of Canada to fudge facts. NYT really should have fact-checked the ad before running it”. Meanwhile, as Lawrence Solomon predicts that Obama will block Keystone , Planet Ark (which belongs to Reuters) reports that according to a White House spokesman, Green energy more important for climate than Keystone.
One blog we have found of interest in the never-ending environment debate is Andrew Leach’s Rescuing the Frog – see the post on The ‘economics’ of upgrading.
We are relieved to learn that John Buchanan is preparing a paper on pipelines which, we hope, will clarify matters once and for all so that at least Wednesday Nighters will make their decision based on facts.

The mainstream media’s continuing interest in the election of Pope Francis is fascinating, especially when many of the commentators are not Catholic. It is obvious that much is expected of the new Pope, and not simply in terms of cleaning up the array of problems from the curia and pedophilia to the Vatican Bank. His humility (never an outstanding trait of the Jesuits we have known), evident common touch, and austerity (in the good sense) are widely praised. Moreover, as Buenos Aires archbishop, he has demonstrated “an inclination to expand interfaith outreach to Islam and Judaism, and made efforts to further close the nearly 1,000-year estrangement with the Orthodox churches.”

Unlike the Vatican, it seems that Quebec and Federal Liberal Leaders go into the conclave as popes and emerge in the same role. Thus the election on Sunday of Philippe Couillard – the jury is still out as far as we are concerned, despite his pledge to “unite Quebecers under the Liberal banner, whether they choose federalism ‘out of passion, or out of reason’.” We were pleased that (our preferred candidate) Jean Pierre Moreau did so well, placing second – although far behind the winner. Similarly, we can expect a coronation of the leader of the LPC in less than a month, although the public’s disappointment over Marc Garneau’s withdrawal continues to be vocal, as evidenced by many of the audience of Rex Murphy’s Cross country Checkup. In both cases, despite our lack of a political GPS, we believe there are a number of hurdles to overcome.

Wednesday Nighters continue to churn out interesting articles. This week’s contributors to the virtual library include David Jones, who writes for the MetropolitaIn on Tom Flanagan and Death by Political Correctness and Rodrigue Tremblay who writes: This month marks the 10th anniversary of the decision by the Bush-Cheney administration to invade the country of Iraq and initiate what can be called a war of choice. This is a good time to briefly look back at this unsavory historical episode. The Iraq War Fiasco, Ten Years Later

Good news (at last!) Nigel Penney advises that the highly successful Westmount Science Camp will be up and running again this year and invites all to visit their booth at Westmount’s Earth Day celebration, on Saturday, March 23rd between 6-10pm at Victoria Hall, 4626 Sherbrooke St. W.

Prepare yourselves for the about-to-arrive 20-30 cm of snow (belated Ides of March, but almost always happens around St. Patrick’s)  and for what is sure to be a wide-ranging discussion – like economics, geopolitics can embrace just about any topic you care to address.

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #1620 with Jim Mylonas of BCA"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson March 22, 2013 at 12:12 am · Reply

    The point was raised about intolerance toward Christians in the Middle East, which often happens to divert attention away from Israel. I regret not thinking to mention it last night, but all Egyptians, Christian and Muslim alike, support the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and denounce the Israeli occupation. … the vast majority of Egyptians were disappointed by President Sadat’s signing of a peace treaty with Israel without addressing the occupation. While the Western media hailed it as a great triumph of diplomacy, the Egyptian street was protesting. Both Christian and Muslim leaders took exception to what they felt was Sadat’s betrayal of the Palestinians. Sadat responded by cracking down on his critics and imprisoning civil society leaders who voiced their dissent, which many argue precipitated his assassination. Among those sentenced to arrest was Pope Shenouda III. His Holiness not only voiced his sympathy for the Palestinians’ plight, but called on all Copts to boycott Israel, including Easter pilgrimages, until the occupation ended. He passed away last March. The Iranian government, among others, officially sent condolences on his passing. Ironically, all Christians churches today (save some radical ‘born-again’ sects) oppose the Israeli occupation on principle, which is why I find efforts to paint this issue as a religious one disappointing.

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