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Showing posts with label Huawei. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Huawei. Show all posts

Thursday 6 January 2022

What Have We Learned from the Meng Extradition "Catastrofarce"?

The "Catastrofarce"

In his review of Mike Blanchfield and Fen Osler Hampson's book, The Two Michaels, David Moscrop characterizes the #Meng extradition case as a mix of catastrophe and buffoonery.  To describe the three-year-long "farce," Moscrop suggests the neologism "catastrofarce."  "When all was said and done," Moscrop points out, "nothing was achieved and everyone involved came out poorer than when they had started." True enough, but now we can reflect on all that we have learned from the affair, right?  No?


Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover

Moscrop assesses The Two Michaels as "a missed opportunity" as it failed to probe the context of a "Cold War between the United States and China."  The Two Michaels left much unsaid.  Obviously, a close focus on "The Two Michaels" as "Innocent Canadian Captives" was bound to exclude details of the broader issues.  Blanchfield and Osler Hampson's review of the Michaels' harsh conditions in contrast to the luxury of Meng's Vancouver mansions seemed the same insistence on the marginally relevant reiterated by Canada's legacy media for three years, the same pandering to imagined Canadian sensibilities--"pandas really aren't nice like beavers"--which I attempted to mock in The Panda and the Beaver.

What The Two Michaels leaves unsaid

Despite the subtitle, The Two Michaels has relatively little to say about "the US-China Cyber War."  In the dozen or so times "cyber war" is mentioned, the book's most interesting observation is left largely undeveloped:

Whatever the differences in their circumstances, Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor, and Meng Wanzhou were now bound by one shared reality. All three were pawns in a full-blown technology war for control over global communications [. . . .]

 I noted the authors' excluding relevant  detail in the early going of The Two Michaels when I read this sentence:  "The US and Iran have been enemies since 1979, when a group of radical students in Tehran stormed the American embassy and took hostages in a siege that lasted 444 days."  Dating the beginning of US-Iranian enmity to 1979 and attributing the Iranian revolution to "a group of radical students" leaves unsaid that the USA arranged the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically-elected leader of Iran, then installed and maintained an "oppressive, brutal, corrupt," 26-year-long dictatorship under the playboy Shah Reza Pahlavi in order to protect Anglo-American oil interests.

What about Richard Donoghue?

Donoghue's name, of course, gets mentioned in the Blanchfield & Osler Hampson monograph, as he issued the warrant, conducted the grand jury trial, and argued that Meng Wanzhou should be kept behind bars while awaiting extradition.  The rapid rise and fall of Donoghue's career was directly aligned with the pursuit, arrest and attempted extradition of Meng Wanzhou.  Donoghue's position as a litigator for CA Technologies to becoming US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in 2018 to being named Assistant Attorney General to his disappearance from the spotlight paralleled Meng's indictment, arrest and eventual release.  Blanchfield and Osler Hampson have virtually nothing to say about him, never question his background or motives, barely even mention his central role in the "catastrofarce."

And Jody Wilson-Raybould?

Jody Wilson-Raybould was the Minister of Justice responsible for Meng Wanzhou's arrest and the early stages of issuing an Order to Proceed with her extradition.  Wilson-Raybould had the ministerial authority, by law, to dismiss the American request and release Meng "at any time" and put an end to the "catastrofarce" which led to Michael Korvig and Michael Spavor's imprisonment.  Nonetheless, her name appears exactly once in The Two Michaels, in the context of her having been pressured by PM Trudeau and his minions to stop the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.  As I have written in previous posts, it mattered that the SNC-Lavalin scandal, the Meng extradition case and JWR's demotion out of justice were all happening at the same time.  (See "Comparing 'Remediation Agreements' and the Canadian Extradition Act, or Did the Liberal Obsession with SNC-Lavalin Prevent Jody Wilson-Raybould from Dealing with the Meng Extradition?")

In The Two Michaels, former Minister of Justice Allan Rock reaffirmed my speculations that fall-out from the SNC-Lavalin scandal made the government reluctant to act on the Meng extradition.  Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour also confirmed that the government was getting the laws governing Remediation Agreements and those governing extradition upside down.  As I pointed out in "A Comparison of Scandals: SNC-Lavalin Versus the Extradition of the Huawei CFO," the government tried to interfere when the law clearly proscribes interference and refused to act when "the law clearly spells out that political (Minister of Justice) action is not just accepted but expected and required."

Oddly (or does this have something to do with ministerial privilege and secrecy?), in JWR's recent memoir, Indian in the Cabinet, there is not a single mention of the Meng extradition case.  Does Jody Wilson-Raybould recognize that her most consequential act over the course of her tenure as Minister of Justice/Attorney General was to authorize the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, or does her preoccupation with the SNC-Lavalin scandal and her demotion out of justice continue to cloud her judgment of the case and her role in it?

Canada Was being played

Was Canda being played?  For an answer look no further than Adrienne Arsenault's interview with John Bolton on CBC.  Arsenault pointed out (Blanchfield & Osler Hampson also note) that after the warrant for her arrest had been issued (22 August 2019),  Meng traveled to the UK and France.  Both countries have extradition treaties with the USA.  Why wait until she was traveling through Canada?  Was it because the Americans judged that only Canada would be "compliant" (and dumb?) enough to follow through on the extradition request?  In response to Arsenault's question, Bolton smiled and giggled slightly, then recovered himself enough to say "it was a matter of logistics" and Canada's being played was "a conspiracy theory."  As I have suggested elsewhere, just because it's a conspiracy theory doesn't mean it isn't true. (See "The Chaos Theory of International Trade, or How Canada Arrested a Chinese Executive on a US Warrant in Order to Protect Israel from Iran.")

The USMCA trade agreement and the "China clause"

Of course, Canada was being played, and the con job is still unfolding.  The same year we were asked to arrest Meng, Canada was negotiating the USMCA trade agreement (the replacement for NAFTA).  The Americans asked for and the Canadian negotiators agreed to the “China clause” requiring three months notice before Canada could sign a trade agreement with  “non-market countries.”  (The list of “non-market countries” includes China, Vietnam, North Korea and 11 others.)  What sovereign nation would give up its right to unfettered trade negotiations?

Just in case forewarning would not be enough to block Canada's trade with China, the USA requested and Canada acquiesced in arresting Meng thereby guaranteeing, entirely for US benefit, a breakdown in the collaboration between Canada and China which had been developing for 50 years under both Conservative and Liberal governments. We, Canadians, might imagine that the self-sacrificing gesture of arresting Meng at the US request would win some future gratitude and consideration from our American neighbours.  Exactly the opposite has been playing out.  With trade between Canada and China stymied, Canada had even less leverage than usual with the USA.  This period of animosity between China and Canada was/is exactly the right moment for the USA to put the squeeze on Canada--and that is what has been happening:

  • PEI potatoes: banned from export to the USA. In 2020, the USA signed a deal to export Idaho and Washington potatoes to China.
  • Softwood lumber: Canada's trade dispute with the USA has been going on since 1982. The WTO (World Trade Organization) has ruled several times that the US tariffs are unreasonable. In 2021, the USA doubled the duty on Canadian softwood lumber to 17.9%. China is the world's second-largest importer of softwood lumber
  • Trump's "Trade truce": As reported in The Two Michaels, "Trump’s subsequent 'trade truce' with China, signed on January 16, 2020, left Canada dangling in the wind. [. . . .] [It] committed China to buy an additional US$200 billion in American goods over the next two years, including US$40 billion to US$50 billion in agricultural products such as soybeans, canola, fresh and frozen pork, beef, wheat, corn, barley, and a range of machinery, all on preferential terms unavailable to Canadian producers."
  • Electric vehicles made in the USA: Canada's second-largest export to the USA (after oil and petroleum products) is vehicles. President Biden's new legislation requiring that electric vehicles be produced in the USA would effectively shut Canada out of the American market. 

Ironically, Canada is currently trying to negotiate a free-trade deal with ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) which includes Vietnam (a non-market country).  Presumably, according to the "China clause," Canada will have to officially inform the USA in advance of signing a deal.  For what purpose?  Why would the US negotiators demand advanced notice, if not to consider how the deal accommodates American interests and to scuttle it if it doesn't.  Since China is the ASEAN's largest trading partner and is planning to upgrade its relationship, Canada will have to kowtow to both China and the USA--neither of whom have reason to support Canada's free-trade aspirations--in order to sign an agreement.

What I Gleaned from The Two Michaels

In November 2019, a Canadian delegation led by Alan Rock met with Chinese officials in China to discuss the Meng arrest and the incarceration of the two Michaels.  The leader of the Chinese delegation, Wang Chow, insisted that there was no connection between the two cases--a claim we can now easily categorize as a lie.  But, at the same time, Wang quoted Section 23 of the Canadian Extradition Act,  demonstrating that Canadian claims that politicians could not get involved in an extradition case were patently false.  Canadians may not know the Canadian Extradition Act, but the Chinese delegation certainly did. 

Blanchfield & Osler Hampson describe the Chinese delegate's quoting of Section 23 of the Canadian Extradition as exploiting "an inherent loophole in the government’s argument." "Loophole" here appears a euphemism for a "lie."  Rock attempted to argue that Section 23 was "was not necessarily intended for this kind of case" and that it was "extremely rare" for the Minister to halt extradition proceedings.  Rock was quick to admit that it was a feeble argument and "a non-satisfactory response."  Ironically, returning to Canada, Rock, backed by extradition expert Brian Greenspan's investigation and report, presented the same Section 23 argument to Justin Trudeau that, by law, according to the Canadian Extradition Act, the Minister of Justice could release Meng at any time.

Who Is Greta Bossenmaier?

"Greta Bossenmaier" is a name I had never heard before.  Blanchfield and Osler Hampson identify her as Justin Trudeau's "national security advisor" and quote her briefing notes to the PM stating: “The minister has broad discretion to decide, but [. . . ] there are no examples of the Minister discharging a case for political or diplomatic reasons.”

While giving the impression that Bossenmaier was a key player in the decision to hold Meng, Blanchfield and Osler Hampson give no further information about her.  According to my internet search, Bossenmair began her career as a DND scientist, worked for several departments in the public service and was named head of CSIS (Canadian Security and Intelligence Service) on May 23, 2018--six months before Meng was arrested.  Bossenmaier was appointed to the position when her predecessor, Daniel Jean, retired, and retired herself in December 2019.

Bossenmaier's claim that "there are no examples of the Minister discharging a case [. . . .]" was clearly beside the point.  There are no equivalent cases, no precedents for Canada's arresting a Chinese executive on a questionable extradition request from the USA.  The Canadian Extradition Act wasn't the problem; it was the solution.  It laid out step by step exactly what should be done, what must be done, how and why.  It was "paint by numbers," if Canadian politicians could be convinced to follow the instructions.   The Minister of Justice could and should refuse the extradition request because [46 (1) (c)]  it was for "an offence of a political character."  The Minister could and should refuse:

 [ . . .] if the request for extradition is made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing the person by reason of their race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, language, colour, political opinion, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability or status or that the person’s position may be prejudiced for any of those reasons

The US DoJ (Department of Justice) had cornered HSBC (Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation) into providing evidence that they had been fooled by Meng Wanzhou into moving money in Iran.  HSBC had to go along with the claim that  Meng committed "bank fraud" or, for the second time, pay heavy fines in the USA for financial transactions in Iran.  Could there be any doubt that Meng was being pursued because she is Chinese, because China is a communist country in a Cold War with the USA?  Could there be any doubt that her position in the USA would be prejudiced for reasons of nationality and politics? Could there be any doubt that had she been German, British, French or Swiss and using Deutsche Bank, Standard Charter Bank, Societe Generale, or Credit Swiss (all of whom have been caught and paid fines for transactions in Iran) the USA would never have even considered a criminal proceeding against her for "bank fraud"?  The Canadian Ministers of Justice had only to judge the obvious and yet it appears that neither Jody Wilson-Raybould nor David Lametti ever did.

The Mystery of RCMP Staff-Sergeant Ben Chang

Not surprisingly, given how soon after the Meng and "two Michaels" saga the book was published, there are gaps in the narrative of Meng's arrest.  Blanchfield & Osler Hampson begin the story in medias res when RCMP "Const. Winston Yep’s cellphone rang."  Yep's supervisor was calling with instructions to arrange a warrant for Meng's arrest.  "Yep was successful in persuading British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Margot Fleming to issue a warrant."   But who was Yep's supervisor on the other end of the phone call? Who was giving orders to Yep's supervisor? When Yep finally informed Meng that she was under arrest, he said: "[. . . ] this is a warrant for provisional arrest under Section 13 of the Extradition Act.”  

Section 13 specifies: 

13 (1) A judge may, on ex parte application of the Attorney General, issue a warrant for the provisional arrest of a person, if satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that

(a) it is necessary in the public interest to arrest the person [ . . .]

The authorization was supposed to come from the Attorney General of Canada (Jody Wilson-Raybould), but the narrative suggests orders and instructions were coming from the FBI.

Reading through the details of Meng's arrest brought back memories of my visit to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg where a copy of the Magna Carta was on display.  
On instructions from the FBI passed on to the RCMP and from the RCMP to the CBSA (Canadian Border Security Agency), Meng was "arbitrarily detained" for three hours. The "Canadian Charter" is explicit: 
10 Everyone has the right on arrest or detention

(a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;
Only after three hours of detention, interrogation, and being required to give up the passwords for her cellphone and computer (which were passed on to the FBI) was Meng informed that she was being arrested for "bank fraud."  Canadian officials blithely overstepped the Canadian Charter (and the 800-year-old Magna Carta for god's sake), and the media response was to massage the Canadian national ego with reports that we were all "law-abiding" citizens in a "rule-of-law" country.

As reported in The Two Michaels, Canadian Border Security Agent Scott Kirkland immediately intuited that Meng's detention would be a contravention of the Canadian Charter, but still "had a job to do." The great mystery of the imbroglio remains Staff Sergeant Ben Chang, described in The Two Michaels as "a senior RCMP officer [ . . .] who had dealings with an FBI counterpart, John Sgroi, in the days following Meng’s arrest."

Chang retired from the RCMP and moved to China (!?), "where he now works in security at a casino" in Macau. Chang left behind an affidavit swearing that he did not share information with the FBI but refused to testify at the extradition hearing. 


"The Gang of 19"

In 2020, Allan Rock, former Liberal Minister of Justice, and Louise Arbour, former Supreme Court Justice and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights sent a letter to Justin Trudeau pointing out the justice of releasing Meng.  There was no response, not even an acknowledgment of receipt.  Blanchfield and Osler Hampson opine:  "The Trudeau government chose not to offer a basic courtesy to two Canadians who had served their country with great distinction."

As Blanchfield and Osler Hampson report, on June 23, 2020, 

a group of former government officials, senior diplomats (including two former Canadian ambassadors to Washington), and academics sent a confidential letter to the prime minister suggesting that it was time to release Meng in exchange for the Two Michaels.

Was there a conspiracy afoot?  Within twenty-four hours the letter

was leaked by an unknown source to a variety of Canadian news outlets. Both the letter and photos of the Gang of 19, as they were now called, were plastered on television screens across the nation in what looked like a police lineup. Rock and his co-signatories knew immediately that their enterprise was doomed.

Was there a campaign across Canadian media to discredit Rock and Arbour and seventeen other distinguished Canadians?  What editor or producer would willingly agree to describe this group of renowned Canadians as "a gang"?  Still worse, "Gang of 19" was an allusion to the "Gang of Four," a brutal, repressive, and regressive cadre prominent in the final years of Mao's "Cultural Revolution."

Justin Trudeau's Stubborn resistance

Twenty-four hours after receiving Rock and Arbour et al's appeal to release Meng and save the two Michaels, Justin Trudeau gave a press conference and, with uncharacteristic firmness, announced that the government would not engage in hostage diplomacy.  I had speculated that after having panicked when presented with the original extradition request, Trudeau had no choice but to continue promoting the falsehood that extradition was an independent judicial process. 

As I learned from The Two Michaels, Trudeau's decision was likely predetermined by his refusal, in 2015, to negotiate with Abu Sayyaf, a militant Islamist group in the Philipines, who were holding two Canadians, Robert Hall and John Ridsdel, and a Norweigan, for ransom.  The Norweigan, Kjartan Sekkingstan, was released after a ransom of $638,000 was paid (according to a spokesman for Abu Sayyaf).  The two Canadians were beheaded.

Robert Fowler, a former UN ambassador, who had himself been held hostage by Al-Qaeda, was adamant that the Trudeau government's refusal to negotiate the two Michaels' release was predetermined by Trudeau's refusal to negotiate for Hall and Ridsdel's release, and was "naive, simplistic, and in this case potentially murderous”  (qt in The Two Michaels).

Hostage Diplomacy

As I pointed out in December 2018, the Chinese arrest of the two Michaels made the optics of releasing Meng more difficult.  The Two Michaels offers extensive discussion of "hostage swap" situations.  The general pattern seems to be that, although official government policy is, typically, to refuse to negotiate for the return of hostages, Western democracies and the USA, in particular, frequently find a way around their own public policies. However, discussions of Meng's release in terms of "hostage diplomacy" or "prisoner swap" or "hostage exchange" consistently obscured the fact that in releasing Meng, Canada would be following the law, not breaking it.

Blanchfield & Osler Hampson claim that Canadians, according to an Angus Reid poll, massively supported Trudeau's decision not to release Meng.  The problem with the Angus Reid poll was that their question offered only two possible answers, and both answers were wrong:

Respondents to the survey had to choose between:  đŸŸ„ break the law (intervene) or 🟩follow the law (continue).  Of course, Canadians responded that we should follow the law.  If Canadians had been told and the question framed accordingly that to "intervene" would be following the law as specified in the Extradition Act and to "continue" was to ignore the law, I imagine Canadians would have responded in exactly the reverse of the numbers provided in the graph above.


What Did Meng confess to?


The two Michaels are home.  Meng returned to China to a hero's welcome.  Dare we consider a cost-benefit analysis?  Canada paid a heavy price for arresting Meng:   over 1000 days in prison for the two Michaels, blocked Canadian imports of beef, pork, and canola, the collapse of a plan for Covid vaccines to be produced in Canada.  The future costs of the breakdown of our trade and diplomatic relations with China are yet to be calculated.  

What did we gain?  Canada showed that we would not be bullied, that we were an independent nation of law-abiding citizens and politicians who followed the rule of law.  Except we weren't following the law and, therefore, we were not being law abiding and, by all appearance, we were being bullied by a cadre of anti-China super-hawks who had deliberately kept the American President out of the loop, and Canada succumbed to the bullying of a warrant without even questioning its provenance.

According to John Bolton, Meng was "a spy and a fraudster" (qt in The Two Michaels).  Meng accepted a deferred prosecution agreement.  There was no question of prison time.  She didn't even pay a fine.  What greater evidence could there be that we never should have arrested her in the first place? Now that the "Deferred Prosecution Agreement" and "The Statement of Facts" are available online we can finally know what crimes she committed and confessed to and for which Canada and Canadians were required to pay such a heavy price.

According to the "Statement of Facts," each of these quotations above was a half-truth, evasion, trick, or outright lie.  Did these eight quoted sentence fragments fool HSBC, which had already been informed via Reuters that Huawei through Skycom was doing business in Iran?  How did these eight sentence fragments constitute a crime which justice-seeking Canada would sacrifice its interests and citizens to see prosecuted?  To understand Meng's "crime," it is necessary to understand the USA's "weaponizing of the dollar."

"Weaponizing the dollar"

Meng's lawyer attempted to argue that a conversation in 2013 involving a relatively small series of transactions ("US$2 million over thirteen months") between a Chinese business person (Meng) and a banker (from HSBC) which took place in China should not be considered a crime in US jurisdiction.  Blanchfield & Osler Hampson make vague reference to "a practice known as 'dollar clearing'” to explain the debate.

A number of banks, all over the world, are licensed as "clearing houses," which means they can process extremely large transactions between corporations and countries. The issue is perhaps better understood in terms of the recently much-discussed notion of the USA's "weaponizing of the dollar." As Satyajit Das explains in Business Standard:


The USA has been using its incredible privilege of printing/digitalizing the global reserve currency and consequent control over the finances of the global economy to punish Iran.  As we have seen in the Meng case, anyone who asks a bank to transgress a regulation put in place by the USA risks criminal prosecution for bank fraud.  No-one can stop China or Europe from doing business in Iran, but the USA can prosecute the use of a US-licenced financial institution for transgressing US regulations. 

"Weaponizing of the dollar" is a hotly debated topic, and now we Canadians know what it feels like to be enforcers in a system most of us didn't even know existed.

Tuesday 11 May 2021

Analyzing the Discourse on the China-USA Cold War

 Is It a "cold war" or a "Cold War"?

Are we in the middle of a Cold War without anyone telling us?  In Chaos under Heaven, Josh Rogin asks:  "Is the United States in a cold war with China?"  Then responds,  "That’s the wrong question, because it doesn’t provide a useful answer. The historical analogy is too imperfect."

 

In Has China Won?, Kishore Mahbubani avoids the expression "Cold War" in favour of "Sino-American geopolitical contest."  Despite denial and avoidance, both books frame the ongoing conflict between China and the USA as a sequel, however imperfectly analogous, to the Cold War between the USA and the USSR.  The current situation may not be an exact replica of the Cold War, but the sabre-rattling, military build-up,  hardening of alliances and animosities, exchanges of undiplomatic insults and accusations,  tariffs and sanctions, calls for a decoupling of supply chains, as well as business, scientific and academic endeavours, and the escalating propaganda all indicate an ongoing "cold war" (or whatever you might choose to call it).


Then and Now comparisons

A key difference between the old Cold War and the new "cold war," both authors agree,  is that last time the USA had a plan.  Specifically, both books reference George Kennan's "long telegram" and subsequent article in Foreign Affairs detailing a master strategy for the American containment of the USSR.  Both books lay heavy blame for the absence of a coherent American policy toward China on the Trump Whitehouse and more explicitly on the incoherence of President Trump himself.
Additionally, Mahbubani argues that:

In the current geopolitical contest between America and China, America is behaving like the Soviet Union, and China is behaving like America did in the Cold War.  In the Cold War, America was often supple, flexible, and rational in its decision-making while the Soviet Union was rigid, inflexible, and doctrinaire.

Mahbubani dedicates a chapter to demonstrating how the structurally entrenched "rigidity and inflexibility of American decision making" cannot stop itself from constant increases in defense spending and military expansion.  Military contractors, according to Mahbubani, target US politicians with promises to establish or expand manufacturing in their constituencies, ostensibly buying the votes needed to increase defense procurement.  In contrast to America's uncontrollable defense spending, Mahbubani claims

The height of Chinese defense rationality is shown in their decision not to increase their stockpile of nuclear weapons. America has 6,450; China has 280. However, if 280 is enough to deter America (or Russia) from launching a nuclear strike on China, why pay for more?
[However, according to recent reports "China, which has historically relied on a small and constrained nuclear arsenal, is expanding its capabilities and deploying multiple, independently retargetable warheads on some of its ICBMs and will likely add more in the coming year."  See World War III.]

Blindness and Insight

Rogin offers detailed insight into the chaos which reigned in the US response to China over the last four years but concludes that "the one part of the [Cold War] analogy that holds is that the CCP under Xi sees itself as being locked in an existential ideological and political struggle with the West."  There is a blindness in this claim that China is in a cold war but the USA isn't which runs throughout Rogin's monograph, a constant denial that it takes two to tango or to have a cold war.  In chapter after chapter, Rogin displays outrage and alarm at how business, security, and politics are suspected of intertwining in China, only to follow with detailed, well-informed exposition of the innumerable high-profile Americans who move seamlessly across business, academia, national security, the military, politics and government.  To a non-American reader, it is somewhat shocking to read how many American business people and academics end up working for the CIA, the FBI, NSA, and various associated organizations, which Rogin reports without a blink of notice.

What is discourse analysis?

The most common of postmodern, post-structuralist, structuralist and semiotic observations is that we do not have access to reality.  Our physical perceptions are limited, unreliable and tell us little about the world.  What we know (or think we know) about the world comes to us through various cultural representations:  through languages and images.  Grammar is comprised of the rules for how words work inside complete sentences.  (See What is English Grammar?)  The purpose of grammar is to create redundancy.  The purpose of redundancy is to create clarity.  At its simplest, discourse is how sentences are connected together with words like "however," "therefore," "consequently," and so on.  The purpose of discourse analysis is to recognize, establish and understand the meanings of discourses which by definition always extend beyond single sentences.  The analysis of discourse, most obviously, includes a study of word choice, but also repetition and figurative language.  More broadly a discourse is held together by a theme or motif and works with suggestion, allusion and connotation.  Ultimately discourses are coherent with or incoherent in relation to other discourses.  The current broad discourse in the USA is that China poses a threat to America and to the West in general.   Truth (as I've argued in Does Knowledge Require Truth?) is uniquely a feature of those things which have meaning and is determined by how coherent one discourse is in relation to others.  Truth holds until one of the links in the chain of truths is broken.  At the moment, any discourse which presents China as an imminent threat is, consequently, taken as true.  However, the relative truth value of a discourse must be measured against logic (inductive, deductive and abductive reasoning) and how many of the known facts a particular discourse is able to encompass coherently.


Why this digression in the middle of my discourse on the Sino-American cold war?  Because I don't know the reality of what is happening in China.  I don't really know what is going on in the USA.  I'm even confused about what has been happening in Canada.  I do, however, know, to some degree, what is being written and said, and how we are all called upon to judge the relative truth, the coherence of what we are being told.


US "Bingo Club" Journalist versus Singapore Ambassador to the UN

I have already established my disbelief in the postmodern notion of "the Death of the Author."  Knowing who wrote it is always an important element of understanding the meaning of a text.  A hundred pages into Chaos under Heaven, Josh Rogin, a journalist with the Washington Post,  describes himself as a member of the "Bingo Club": "the secret group fighting China's influence operations" named after "a similar group of cops, spies, and experts who convened secretly in San Francisco in the late 1980s to confront the urgent espionage threat China posed at that time."  Rogin's "secret group" [not so secret anymore I guess] is led by Peter Mattis, "a CIA counterintelligence analyst on China before leaving the agency to work in the private sector," who is also the nephew of the Trump-era Defense Secretary, James Mattis.


Kishore Mahbubani, who served for ten years as Singapore's ambassador to the UN, describes himself as having "cultural connections with diverse societies in Asia, where half of humanity lives, all the way from Tehran to Tokyo."  The theme of his book is that American policy and attitudes are out of sync with the majority of the world's UN members.  The USA has walked away or threatened to walk away from numerous global organizations and agreements, whereas most countries of the world and China, in particular, have been moving in the other direction.  Mahbubani argues that most Americans are simply unaware of China's history, culture, and Asian geopolitical situation, and are apt to misinterpret its political ambitions.

Vocabulary and word choice

Rogin's choice of adjectives leaves little room for doubt about his attitudes and intentions toward China.  He, thankfully, avoids the use of "evil," but China (the country, the CCP, companies and individuals) are copiously described as "malign," "bad-actor," "threatening," "aggressive," and "repressive."  Here is a typical paragraph:

I got a call from an Asia expert friend who previously worked in the military but now consulted for the private sector. He was holding his own secret meeting to bring together like-minded Washington folks to think through a separate probtem [sic] emanating from China—the giant national champion technology firm Huawei. In less than a decade, this company had lied, cheated, and stolen its way to threatening domination over mobile networks around the world. This group wanted to strategize a way to stop it.  [my bold emphasis]

Rogin's most frequently repeated and quoted claim is along the lines of "the dire threat China under CCP leadership posed to the United States." Despite his conclusion to the contrary, in order to specify the "threat," Rogin cites comparisons to the Cold War:

China's ambitions were in fact worldwide—that the CCP was trying to reshape the global order to fit its interests and that this posed an unacceptable threat to the security, prosperity, and health of free and open societies—then the comparison to the Cold War was useful, insofar as it helped one grasp the scope and scale and stakes of the challenge.

How does China pose a "dire threat" to the USA . . . and the world?

To illustrate the threat posed by Confucius Institutes, Rogin cites examples of Chinese authorities' insistence that Taiwan should not be identified as an officially independent country on websites and in documentation. 

After claiming that the Huawei company has "lied, cheated, and stolen," Rogin offers no evidence to support this vocabulary.  Rogin's "most famous example" of the Chinese threat was "in 2019 when China punished the NBA for one manager's tweet."   

When Darryl Morey, manager of the NBA's Houston Rockets tweeted in support of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, there was a Chinese backlash.  I found it interesting to learn that Morey was "a trained researcher and technology expert who worked for years in Washington’s national security community before joining the NBA." The NBA eventually apologized to China for the tweet and was consequently criticized by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. 

Rogin reports that Joseph Tsai, a "Taiwanese-born naturalized Canadian billionaire" who owns the Brooklyn Nets, posted on Facebook that "hundreds of millions of Chinese" were insulted by Morey's tweet. Rogin claims that Tsai's "ties to Beijing run very deep, and his politics are completely in support of the CCP’s aims."

Still on the theme of the "dire threat" and the NBA, in October 2019, 15 young American-resident "Uyghur activists" chanted, carried posters and wore t-shirts protesting against Chinese repression in Hong Kong, in XUOR and against Lebron James who disagreed with the Morey tweet.  The protestors were not allowed to carry their signs into the stadium.  They were verbally attacked in Mandarin by a spectator after the game.  

The individuals Rogin mentions are prominent activists.  Bahram Sintash works for the US-funded  Radio Free Asia and Ferkat Jawdat, whose protests of his mother's detainment in China have been widely publicized in the USA,  was granted a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The problem with Rogin's claims of China's being a dire threat to the USA and the world is that the concrete examples, like the NBA kerfuffle, never come close to supporting the level of his vocabulary. 

American claimants of Chinese malfeasance like Sintash and Jawdat seem to receive significant US access and support.  In Rogin's monograph, "Elaine Chao, Trump’s transportation secretary and the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell" is presented as an object of suspicion because of her family ties to China.    Steven Mnuchin, Trump's Secretary of the Treasury, who, according to Rogin, "fought [ . . ] tooth and nail" against sanctions and a trade war with China, is presented, at turns, as a  dupe and a sell-out to the Chinese masterplan of world domination.

 A Different choice of words

The most repeated adjectives in Has China Won? would include: "rational," "reasonable," "logical," "balanced," and "pragmatic."  Hence, a typical paragraph from the Mahbubani monograph would be:

Common sense would dictate that both countries should cooperate in infrastructure. Yet, given the poisonous political attitudes toward each other, common sense cannot operate. This is why a major strategic reboot is needed in the relationship between the two powers. If the two powers first tried to define what their core national interests were—especially their core interests in improving the livelihoods of their people—they would come to the logical conclusion that there is fundamentally a noncontradiction between their national interests.

The Question of spin

Mahbubani and Rogin seem to deal with a similar handful of facts but each gives these facts a very different spin.  For example, the fact that American companies are extensively invested and profiting in China, while China is extensively invested in the financial markets in the USA, at face value, might seem a good thing, a "win, win" as the Chinese love to say, and a guarantee of peace and prosperity for all.  Similarly, the fact that China contributes billions to American universities, funding various scientific and academic collaborations, as well as Confucious Institutes to educate Westerners on the Chinese language and culture, at first glance, seems laudable. 

Rogin is adamant that these entanglements are a threat to all that Americans hold dear. Mahbubani is full of praise for American universities, but Rogin details how Chinese funding of university programs has become an intense focus of US national security and secret services. Rogin himself signed up for a course at an American Confucius Institute and discovered nothing more perfidious than an effort to teach him Mandarin but assures the reader that these centers are designed for greater ulterior motives.

Rogin details how Americans end up investing in Chinese companies through index funds on the US stock markets.  To exemplify the risks of investing in China,  Rogin cites the China Hustle, a Netflix documentary, about the use of "reverse mergers" in which Chinese companies merge with a dormant company on the US market thereby allowing the Chinese company to be publically traded in the US.  As the documentary shows, American speculators were eager to invest in Chinese companies.  The con in this process is the misrepresented value of the underlying Chinese companies.  [Very similar to what went on in the dot.com meltdown.] The problem with Rogin's argument is that, based on my viewing of the documentary, it isn't clear that this is uniquely and exclusively a Chinese hustle, and could equally well be described as an American hustle with Chinese participation.  In fact, Chinese media revealed the scam years before American investors began to take notice.

A common complaint about China's "not following the rules," including in Rogin's book, is "forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft."  As Mahbubani outlines, China has profited and progressed mightily since it joined the WTO (World Trade Organization) as a "developing country" in 2001.  Mahbubani explains that, while some American businesspeople might resent the requirement, "under the WTO’s agreements on intellectual property, developed countries are under ‘the obligation’ to provide incentives to their companies to transfer technology to less developed countries.”  Obviously, American businesses might rankle at Chinese companies' "playing the rulebook," the requirements and additional pressure to transfer data and intellectual property, but have accepted the situation as the price of doing business and making healthy profits.  The current complaints stem from China's having so rapidly progressed from being a "developing country" to a super "developed country."





The USA's not-so-secret weapon

One fact that both Mahbubani and Rogin agree upon is that the USA's ultimate weapon against China is the American dollar, aka the Federal Reserve Note. (See also Petrodollar Warfare.)  The US dollar is the "global reserve currency" meaning most international transactions are made with US currency.  In other words, virtually every country in the world needs US dollars to buy stuff from other countries.  Most of the money in the world's financial system is created by private banks and financial institutions (See The Truth about Money), but the process begins with the US Treasury printing "treasury bills" (basically IOUs from the US government) and selling them to institutions in the US and around the world.  If you have US Treasury bills worth X amount, you are considered to have X amount of US dollars, which you can use to pay for things from other countries which might not be willing to accept your country's currency as payment.  Being the country which supplies the money which other countries have to use works out very favourably for the USA.

As Mahbubani explains:

Domestically, the US government spends more than it collects in income. This creates a fiscal deficit. Internationally, America imports more goods than it exports. This creates a trade deficit. How does America pay for these twin deficits? It borrows money.

Unlike other countries whose currencies would be devalued and economies collapse if they over-extended their borrowing,

America can fund its twin deficits and pay for its excess expenditures by printing Treasury bills. The US Treasury only has to pay for the cost of paper. In return for handing out pieces of paper, the rest of the world sends real money (hard-earned cash) to buy the US Treasury bills. For example, Chinese workers have to work hard to produce low-cost goods to export to the rest of the world. These exports receive hard-earned dollars, which the Chinese government converts to yuan to pay to the workers. What does the Chinese government do with these hard-earned dollars? It uses many of these to buy US Treasury bills. The US Treasury then uses these dollars from China to pay for excess government expenditures. For the record, the largest purchasers of US Treasuries are China ($1.113 trillion), Japan ($1.064 trillion), Brazil ($306.7 billion), the United Kingdom ($300.8 billion), and Ireland ($269.7 billion).

Mahbubani suggests the USA's "weaponizing of the dollar," to punish any company dealing with Iran, for example, is an unnecessary strategy which puts the incredible privilege of the US dollar's being the global reserve currency at risk.  Rogin, on the other hand, quotes "Roger Robinson, the former chairman of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission" and "the son of a senior FBI counterintelligence official."  Robinson, who "started his career as a Wall Street banker, but [ . .] made his name as a cold warrior," argued that the USA needed to further leverage "China’s single greatest weakness and one of America’s greatest strengths—access to money."

Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet

Rogin's book and most Western media reports on China's relations with Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet tend to use a typical array of terms: "genocide," "cultural genocide," "ethnic cleansing," "repression," "invasion," etc.  These discourses are striking for what they leave unsaid--the historical, cultural, political and even geographical context.  For example, most reports on the Uyghur genocide leave out discussion of the East Turkestan separatist movement,   Uyghur terrorist attacks in Xinjiang and throughout the Middle East, or even that the USA has imprisoned Uyghur in Guantanamo.  

Articles on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong rarely include reference to the fact that China was forced to surrender Hong Kong to the British Empire and to accept imports of opium as a consequence of the Opium Wars

As US naval forces are building up in preparation to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion, there is little recognition that since Taiwan already enjoys de facto independence with goods, services and people able to move in both directions from Taiwan to China, Taiwan has little need for "official" independence, and China has little motivation to invade.  

Reports on the Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1949 and ongoing "cultural genocide" rarely include reference to the Seventeen Point Agreement between China and Tibet, which included provisions such as

The central authorities will not alter the existing political system in Tibet. The central authorities also will not alter the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama. Officials of various ranks shall continue to hold office.
The established status, functions and powers of the Panchen Ngoerhtehni shall be maintained. 
By the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama and of the Panchen Ngoerhtehni are meant the status, functions and powers of the thirteenth Dalai Lama and the ninth Panchen Ngoerhtehni when they had friendly and amicable relations with each other.
The policy of freedom of religious belief as laid down in the common program shall be carried out. The religious beliefs, customs and habits of the Tibetan people shall be respected, and lama monasteries shall be protected. The central authorities will not effect a change in the income of the monasteries.

After signing, the Tibetan government in exile facilitated by the CIA repudiated the peace treaty. Would the inclusion or exclusion of these facts from the predominant discourse make any difference? To those who are fully committed to the Manichean vision of a morally superior USA and China as an evil empire (or the exact reverse), the facts won't make much difference. To undecided skeptics, like me, a discourse that attempts to be inclusive, comprehensive, contextualized, balanced and measured is what approaches coherent truth, and offers a rational way forward.

US Objectives in supporting independence movements in China

In a full-page opinion piece in the Globe and Mail, Roger Garside, author of China Coup:  The Great Leap to Freedom, argues that 

[ . . ] the U.S. and its allies must make regime change in China the highest goal of their strategy toward that country. This is not a goal that governments can openly declare, but it is one they must actively pursue.
This well-known secret is the only explanation, in pragmatic terms, for US-backed support for independence movements in regions of China.  As a consequence, logically, it would be impractical, in fact, political suicide, under the present conditions, for the Chinese regime to soften its stance vis-a-vis democracy and independence in these regions.

Differences of culture

Western discourse on China is inevitably couched in terms of "freedom," "democracy," and "human rights," but such claims seem credulous.  The People's Republic of China operates under a communist system.  The presumed ethical underpinning of the system is utilitarianism, the greatest good for the greatest number. Western democracies operating in a capitalist system are based on egoism, whatever is good for the individual is ethical.  The prioritizing of individual human rights over other concerns and values is a mark of Western democracies even while they struggle to act according to their own ethical standards.  Communist China, in contrast, clearly prioritizes what is good for the majority:  security, peace, even solidarity over the rights of the individual.  The constant complaint against communist China failing to operate according to a democratic system of Western values seems willfully naive.

As Mahbubani puts it:

Americans hold sacrosanct the ideals of freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion and also believe that every human being is entitled to the same fundamental human rights. The Chinese believe that social needs and social harmony are more important than individual needs and rights and that the prevention of chaos and turbulence is the main goal of governance. In short, America and China clearly believe in two different sets of political values.

These days, across the political spectrum, understanding the opposition is seen as a sign of weakness.  (See Madness and Terrorism:  Between Sympathy and Understanding.)  But what is the alternative?

Meanwhile in Canada

Roger Garside claims it is an ominous sign for communist China "that public opinion in a country as pacific and measured in its outlook as Canada should have evolved as it has."  Has Canadian public opinion about China "evolved" or was it decided for us? 

Both Rogin and Mahbubani recognize Canada as a trusted ally of the USA.  However, both mention that when Trump imposed tariffs on China, he imposed them on Canada at the same time.



Saturday 29 December 2018

The Chaos Theory of International Trade, or How Canada Arrested a Chinese Executive on a US Warrant in Order to Protect Israel from Iran

I heard it from every economics professor I ever had, at both Oregon and Stanford, and everything I saw and read thereafter backed it up. International trade always, always benefits both trading nations. Another thing I often heard from those same professors was the old maxim: “When goods don’t pass international borders, soldiers will.” Though I’ve been known to call business war without bullets, it’s actually a wonderful bulwark against war. Trade is the path of coexistence, cooperation. Peace feeds on prosperity.

 Phil Knight. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike (p. 374). Scribner. Kindle Edition. 

A Few Facts

Huawei holds 4% of the cellphone market in Israel. In the UK, which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, Huawei has 14% of the market.  Huawei Canada is a major contributor to Canadian business and research.  These facts matter. 

Why Conspiracy Theories Exist

Reading about the arrest of Huawei’s CFO Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the company’s founder, at the Vancouver airport, I had the same question everyone was asking:  why?  Attempts to answer the question have spawned a number of conspiracy theories.  Conspiracy theories flourish when the information available in the public domain never quite makes sense or at least never comes close to explaining who did what, how, with what motives and intended outcomes.  The explanations for why and how never satisfy the parameters of what has happened, and we live in suspense,  forced to speculated about behind-the-scenes, cloak-and-dagger black ops in search of explicable motives for unexplained or inexplicable events.   

Just Because It's a Conspiracy Theory . . .

Once established, conspiracy theories take on a life of their own.  They thrive and spread and become better known than the mundane facts because they tell a better, more dramatic and coherent story.  All this being said, to cannibalize a better-known expression:  just because it’s a conspiracy theory doesn’t mean that it isn't true.

Chaos Theory Is the Opposite of a Conspiracy Theory

The opposite of a conspiracy theory is “chaos theory”—the theory that explains how very small causes can precipitate very large effects.  Science tells us that if we want to know the answers to big questions like  “how did we get here?” or “where did that hurricane come from?”  the answer requires “chaos theory.”  No one caused it; a lot of small things happened and as a result that big thing happened.  The butterfly in Brazil may have intended something but she did not intend to set off a tornado in Texas.  Unlike conspiracy theories, chaos theory is no fun at all. Reviewing the explanations, analysis, speculation and theories emerging from Sabrina Meng Wanzhou’s detainment in Vancouver, chaos may be the only answer.


What We've Been Told

Based on media reports, sometime in 2014 (and/or earlier) Sabrina Meng Wanzhou did a presentation in front of HSBC executives in New York (HSBC is the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) in which she is alleged to have misrepresented the ownership of a company called Skycom which was doing business in Iran in contravention of US and United Nations sanctions.  The physical evidence against her as an individual is, allegedly, a powerpoint presentation and a paper trail showing that Skycom is owned by a Huawei shell company. As a result, a warrant for her arrest was issued (22 August 2018) by the Eastern District Court of New York.  After various people had been informed, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and John Bolton, National Security Advisor to the White House, the RCMP exercised the American warrant and detained Sabrina Meng Wanzhou as she was changing planes at Vancouver airport en route from Hong Kong to Mexico.  She was jailed on December 1 pending a bail hearing.   She was released on bail on December 5.  Friends and family posted the 10-million-dollar bail, and she remains under house arrest in Vancouver, pending an extradition hearing in which American authorities must present evidence that her extradition is justified, meaning that there is compelling evidence that she has committed a crime which would be recognized as a crime according to Canadian as well as American law, and that the motives of her extradition are justified.

Mr. Chaos and the Conspiracy Theories

Not surprisingly, the immediate conspiracy theories make Mr. Chaos himself, President Donald Trump, the central antagonist.  Theory number one is that Meng’s arrest was a Trump gambit to gain leverage in trade talks with China, attempting to bully and cower China by showing how far he is willing to go playing hardball.  Theory number two is the exact opposite.  Meng’s arrest on December 1, the same day Trump was having one-on-one trade talks with China’s President Xi, was a deliberate attempt by an anti-Trump Washington faction to embarrass and undermine the American President. 

The "Let's Put Canada in Its Place" Conspiracy

Conspiracy theory number three is distinctly Canadian.  On June 1, 2018, the USA imposed a 25% tariff on Canadian steel on the grounds that Canadian steel imports were “a threat to US national security.”  Suddenly all the rhetoric about Canada and the USA being the greatest of trading partners, the best of friends and the closest of allies evaporated, and we were just another potential enemy.  Nonetheless the USA still didn’t want us to go around acting like a sovereign nation.  As part of the recent trade deal replacing NAFTA, the US-Canada-Mexico trade agreement, the American’s insisted on what is known as the “China clause” requiring three-months notice before Canada could sign a trade agreement with  “non-market countries.”  (The list of “non-market countries” includes China, Vietnam, North Korea and 11 others.)  In other words, if Canada approaches a trade agreement with China, we will be putting at risk our trade with the USA to whom we export nearly 70% of our goods and services, accounting for 20% of our Gross Domestic Product.  Having Meng arrested in Canada had the effect, which would be desirable from an American perspective, of blocking friendly relations and future trade between China and Canada.  

The Paradox of China's Getting Tough with Canada

Ostensibly as a consequence of the Meng detention, two Canadians—Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor—were arrested in China.  As I try to imagine the strategic value of these arrests from a Chinese perspective, my conclusion is that they must be a gesture for domestic consumption in China.  In other words, Chinese politicians needed to show their Chinese compatriots that they are doing something about Meng’s arrest.  However, I would surmise that these Chinese politicians are more than sophisticated enough to realize that Canada, in contradiction to its own best interests, has been trapped in the middle of this affair by the American warrant.  The Chinese leadership have made Canada the target of their ire rather than focussing on the USA.  The rational conclusion is that Canada just doesn’t matter enough to either China or the USA.  Both countries are at ease making Canada a patsy and the detained Canadians collateral damage, but the real game—where the big money and power are at stake—is China-US trade.  Paradoxically, the more China puts pressure on Canada to release Meng, the more it will be in Canada’s interest to extradite her to the USA, thereby forcing the Chinese to address their true antagonist the USA, leaving Canada out of the US-China trade war. 

The Chinese Global Domination Conspiracy

In casual conversation with my fellow Canadians, this is the conspiracy theory that is least understood but is the most readily and stubbornly accepted.  Arresting Meng has nothing to do with protecting Israel.  From this point of view, the claim that she was arrested for contravening trade sanctions with Iran becomes a bogus pretext, smoke and mirrors.  From this point of view even the allegations that Meng committed bank fraud by failing to reveal a Huawei/Skycom/ Iran connection, are a pretext, accusations that are not intended to pursue justice and discourage crime, but simply to undermine a large and successful Chinese technology company.  If this is the case, the crime being perpetrated against Meng seems much more significant than the crime she is being accused of.

What exactly is this conspiracy theory?  Huawei is in the process of developing 5G technology in Canada and around the world which will provide the next generation of wifi and internet applications.    Huawei is believed to have close ties to the Chinese government and the MSS (Ministry of State Security).  Huawei's presence in and even control of cyberspace in other nations will give them the potential to access state secrets and the possibility of disrupting any industry connected to the internet (aka The Internet of Things).

As evidence of this conspiracy my fellow Canadians point out that three--USA, Australia, New Zealand--of the five members of the Five Eyes have "banned" Huawei's 5G technology.  The USA's decision to go with an American company for its 5G technology is hardly surprising.  We might wonder why Australia and New Zealand have decided not to go with Huawei.  The counter to this conspiracy theory is that so far two Five Eyes members--Canada and the UK--have not banned Huawei, but we can imagine that they are both under enormous American pressure to do so. 

The Chinese counter to this conspiracy theory is that if Huawei's 5G technology is a gateway to global domination, then any of its three major competitors in 5G development--Verizon, IBM, AT&T--also threaten global domination.  The USA's use of its secret services and intelligence networks in conjunction with private contractors and businesses to promote American economic interests has a long and publicly acknowledged history.  "What's good for General Bullmoose is good for the USA" may once have been considered somewhat ironic, but history has shown that the slogan can be taken literally as representative of American attitudes and practices.

Once again, the great paradoxical, Chinese miscalculation is that the arrest of two Canadians in retaliation for the Meng arrest is the strongest evidence that the choice of Chinese 5G technology might prove dangerous for foreign nations.

The "Business as Usual" Conspiracy

In 1953 the CIA orchestrated the overthrow of Iran's democratically elected President, Mohammad Mosaddegh, in order to support BP and prevent the nationalization of the Iranian oil fields.  The USA installed and maintained the Shah of Iran as dictator, for the benefit of Anglo-American oil companies, until he was overthrown in 1979.  In 1954, the CIA arranged a coup in Guatemala, overthrowing the democratically elected President, Jacobo Arbenz, thereby preserving the monopoly of the United Fruit Company.  In 1973 a US-backed military coup overthrew the government of Salvador Allende and installed Augusto Pinochet as dictator thereby protecting the assets of the Anaconda Copper Company and Kennecott Utah Copper from Allende's plans to nationalize the copper industry.  These covert operations may strike you as distant in time (which is why we now know about them) but they establish a pattern of collusion between American business and American intelligence and secret services that has grown stronger not weaker over the years.  Of all the things we have heard about Edward Snowden over the years, the one I find most striking that usually goes by without comment was that he was working for a private company, Booz Allen Hamilton, when he copied and leaked classified NSA (National Security Agency) files. Snowden's previous employers were Dell technologies and the CIA. 

The warrant for Meng's extradition issued by the Eastern District Court of New York was a collaboration among the US Attorney, the secret service and American business interests on the grounds of national security.  "National security" in the USA means "for the perseverance and profit of American businesses."  From this perspective Meng's arrest was just "business as usual" as the various American agencies collaborated in undermining a Chinese company.

The Chaos Theory of International Trade

While none of these conspiracy theories tells the whole story, each has some degree of truth, which is why I think that chaos rather than conspiracy offers the better answer to the question "why?".  One particular butterfly has been flapping his wings vociferously enough to cause turbulence in Canada and around the world.  His name is Richard P. Donoghue.  He is a US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.  His name is on the letter released to the public asking that Meng not be given bail, and presumably, he is the attorney who signed the original warrant for her arrest.  Remarkably little attention has been paid to who exactly Richard P. Donoghue is.




Richard Donoghue, until recently (I.e. 4 January 2018), was an employee of CA Technologies.  Does it matter that the man who caused Meng's arrest and detention was, until less than a year ago, the Chief Litigator of CA Technologies, a competitor of Huawei in the Internet of Things?  Logically, this is at least a question that should be asked.  Why isn't the Canadian media asking this question? 



Did someone from CA Technologies suggest, last January, that it would be useful if one of their litigators became a US Attorney?  I'm going to guess that Donoghue took a pay cut to become a US Attorney.  Does he maintain contact with colleagues in CA Technologies?  Have any of his buddies from CA suggested that it would be really helpful if "someone" went after Huawei?  Is Donoghue receiving any kind of compensation from CA?  Did Donoghue receive financial compensation from CA in 2018--after he became US Attorney and before he issued the warrant for Meng's arrest in August?  Does Donoghue have close friends and family employed by or receiving benefit from CA Technologies which would put him in a conflict of interest in demanding the arrest of Huawei's CFO?


Let's be clear:  I have no inside knowledge of Richard Donoghue's motivations, but his situation and the circumstances are obviously something that the Canadian media should be investigating in the first instance and the Canadian judiciary considering Meng's extradition and continued detention must thoroughly consider.  If the request for Meng's extradition is just a ploy to undermine a business competitor, then the detention of Huawei's CFO for years of extradition hearings will accomplish that goal and a travesty will have been perpetrated on and by the Canadian judiciary.


I consider the Donoghue warrant more chaos than conspiracy because I cannot imagine that Richard P. is a singular agent in this case or that he sat down and said to himself, "I think today I will embarrass Canada, cause a trade war between the USA and China, provoke the arrests of innocent bystanders in China, destabilize the global economy, and broach the possibility of a war which could drag every country in the world into the conflict."  Oh, I know this has to sound farfetched, but Meng's arrest and all of its potential ramifications could not have happened or be happening without Donoghue.  These days whenever I think about Richard P. Donoghue and the mess he's unleashed, I can't help thinking, at the same time, about a 19-year-old named Gavrilo Princip.







"Three Days of the Condor" and the Tenth Anniversary of "The Sour Grapevine"

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