The Story of Voisey’s Bay

The Story of Voisey’s Bay: The Discovery

voiseys-bay-infographic-1

PREFACE

The legendary story of one of Canada’s most significant base metal discoveries happened just before the dawn of the internet era. While some investors recall the sequence of events and the value that was created by Diamond Fields, there are many investors today, both new and old, who are not familiar with the story of Voisey’s Bay.

For this infographic, we have turned to Jacquie McNish’s fabulous book The Big Score, which documents the history of the discovery, biographical elements of Robert Friedland’s life, and the ensuing bidding war between Inco and Falconbridge that led to one of the most spectacular takeovers in mining history. If you like these infographics, then look into buying Jacquie’s book. It was gripping and full of information.

THE ORIGINS

By its very definition, a discovery is the breakthrough action of finding something of value that no one knew existed. Discoveries come in all shapes and sizes – but it turns out many of the very best discoveries happen in the most unsuspecting of conditions.

Labrador is located on the Northeast tip of Quebec in Canada, and it’s in this remote area that the Voisey’s Bay discovery takes place. Labrador is bigger than Great Britain and has over 8,000km of coastline, yet only a population of just 26,700. For context, caribou outnumber people in Labrador by a ratio of 13:1.

In 1985, geologists of the Newfoundland Department of Mines and Energy conducted a survey of one of the most remote parts of Labrador. Voisey’s Bay is 35km from Nain, a small town of 1,000 people.

The team, in a helicopter-supported survey, tested samples in the area, but were not encouraged by the low metal content of the weathered rocks exposed at surface. They left and didn’t look back.

In early 1993, Michael McMurrough of a fledgling company called Diamond Fields Resources was looking for untapped diamond properties to add to the company’s property portfolio. He had heard that a place called “Labrador” had ancient Archean rock formations – one of the earth’s oldest rock groups – where diamonds can form in kimberlite pipes. While Labrador’s wealth in iron ore is well-documented, no diamonds have ever been discovered in the region.

Diamond Fields’ geologist, Rod Baker, was sent to Newfoundland in April 1993 but found that the best diamond prospects had just been staked by two Newfoundlanders. Al Chislett and Chris Verbiski, and their prospecting outfit named Archean Resources, eventually convinced Diamond Fields to pay $372,000 in annual instalments over four years to acquire their claims. Diamond Fields also agreed to pay $500,000 to start an exploration program.

The two prospectors sampled throughout the summer of 1993 without much luck, but they did chip some samples of chalcopyrite, a copper-bearing mineral, from an outcrop. The samples came back with 2% copper, and they pushed for Diamond Fields to put more money into the exploration program.

DIAMOND FIELDS

At this time, Diamond Fields was a fledgling company. Running under Robert Friedland’s umbrella of Ivanhoe Capital, the company had its share of issues. Legal problems were mounting, and the company had finally just raised cash in a desperation move: the company impressed investors with its idea of “vacuuming” diamonds off the seafloor near Namibia.

It was company geologist Richard Garnett that convinced the board of Diamond Fields to pursue the Labrador findings, which he had been tracking. The company eventually was able to allocate $220,000 to Labrador – or 40% of what Chislett and Verbiski recommended for follow-up spending.

THE DISCOVERY

In August 1994, the prospectors received more detailed assays from the samples they collected – assays that confirmed a multi-element deposit with cobaltite, copper, magnetite, and exceptionally high amounts of nickel. In fall, the team tried to beat winter by executing the next phase of exploration.

On drill hole number two: they hit. The drill core was yellow – not from gold, but from high-grade massive sulphides. The hole was 33 metres long, and signified that Diamond Fields was finally onto something.

At this point, Robert Friedland reigned in control of the company with one mission: to auction off the discovery for the highest price.

Part 2 covers the high-profile bidding war that ensued between rival companies such as Teck, Inco, and Falconbridge to buy Voisey’s Bay.The Story of Voisey’s Bay: The Auction

voiseys-bay-infographic-2

PREFACE
The hit at diamond drill hole #2 of 33m of massive sulphides turned Voisey’s Bay from caribou pasture to one of the most exciting stories in the mining world. For a full recap of the events leading to this point, check outPart 1 of the Voisey’s Bay story.

In Part 2 of this series, we look at the ensuing bidding war that occurred once it was clear that Voisey’s Bay had all of the action. Again, we have turned to Jacquie McNish’s fabulous book The Big Score, which documents the history of the discovery, biographical elements of Robert Friedland’s life, and the ensuing bidding war between Inco and Falconbridge that led to one of the most spectacular takeovers in mining history. If you like these infographics, then look into buying Jacquie’s book. It was gripping and full of information.

Finally, it is worth noting that Part 3 of this series will be released within a week or two.

SETTING THE STAGE
The discovery of massive sulphides with Hole #2 brought increased attention to the former diamond play. However, the stock price didn’t really explode until the assays came in: 2.23% nickel, 1.47% copper, and 0.123% cobalt. Diamond Fields now traded in December 1994 at $13.50 per share, up from $4.65 just a month prior.

The company doubled down on drilling, and up until January 1995 they had hit nothing after Hole #2. The price dribbled down to $11.00.

However, it was in February 1995 that the results for Holes #7 and #8 were released, and they were some of the most significant holes for the entire project. The holes were in the Ovoid, which would soon be a famed and ultra-high rich section of the Voisey’s Bay discovery.

Hole #7 was 104m long and had 3.9% nickel, 2.8% copper, and 0.14% cobalt. Hole #8 was 111m long and had 3.7% nickel, 2.78% copper, and 0.13% cobalt. This propelled the stock price to $20.00 in February 1995.

Continued exploration of the Ovoid revealed a bowl-shaped orebody lying just below surface. This deposit had surface dimensions of some 800m by 350m, and extended to depths of about 125m. More nickel from Ovoid came in every month, and the stock price continued to rise.

At this point, Diamond Fields could no longer fly under the radar. Major mining couldn’t stand to watch as one of the world’s greatest base metal deposits blossomed outside of their influence.

THE SUITORS
Three major mining companies vied to get in on the action. Here’s some history on each of them:

Teck

At this time, the Canadian diversified mining company Teck had nine mines in operation and had a reputation as a swift deal maker.

In 1947, Teck’s founder Norman Keevil Sr. was one of the first to use magnetic survey technology that was first employed by the US Military to find submarines. With this technology, he found one of the richest copper deposits in Canada.
He once impressed a plane load of investors by flying them over a 150-foot copper vein that was exposed to the air. It shone like a newly minted penny as they passed over, stunning even the most skeptical investors. (He had previously parachuted a crew in to polish the ore in the bush.)
Inco

The International Nickel Company was founded in 1902 and for most of the 20th century it remained the dominant player in nickel exploration, production, and marketing.

The company virtually invented the nickel market:

In 1890, global output of nickel was 3,000 tonnes
Nickel was mainly used for military purposes but sales dried up at the end of WWI
The company discovered nickel alloys that were marketed for use in automobiles, pipes, industry, coins, and even kitchen sinks
By 1951, the world consumed 130,000 tonnes of nickel a year with 90% of it supplied by Inco
By 1995, Inco was still the market leader in nickel, producing 26% of the world’s nickel with $2.3 billion in sales each year.

Falconbridge

In 1901, American inventor Thomas Edison found a nickel-copper ore body in the area northeast of Sudbury, Ontario.

However, it wasn’t until 1928 that Thayer Lindsley, the founder of Falconbridge, bought these claims and began to turn it into its first mine.

At the time, Inco had the only technology in North America to refine nickel, so Falconbridge sent its production to Norway where it purchased an operating refinery.

The company was smaller than Inco, but seen as more aggressive and nimble. The company produced 11% of the world’s nickel in 1995.

THE BIDDING BEGINS
While Inco, Falconbridge and up to a dozen other global miners spent resources on calculating the value of Voisey’s Bay, Teck was the first to approach with a different strategy.

In less than a day, and despite seeing any core, Teck was able to do a simple deal less than four pages long: $108 million for 10% of the company, or the equivalent of $36 per share. Teck also surrendered their voting rights to Friedland to prevent future hostile takeovers.

That got the market talking. Days later, the stock would trade at over $40 per share with a market capitalization of more than $1 billion.

In May 1995, after much posturing between Inco and Diamond Fields executives, another deal was struck. This time, Inco bought a 25% stake of Voisey’s Bay for US$386.7 million in preferred shares and cash, as well as 8% of Diamond Fields from company co-founder Jean-Raymond Boulle and early investor Robertson Stephens.

By the time the deal closed in June 1995, Diamond Fields’ stock price doubled again to $80.00.

After months of drilling misses outside of the Ovoid, finally in August there were signs of light: 1m of massive sulphides were hit on Hole #166.

In November, drill hole #202 retrieved 40m of massive sulfides, the largest section of sulfides found outside the Ovoid. It was now clear that there was a series of deposits at Voisey’s Bay. The hole assayed 3.36% nickel and became a part of what is known as the Eastern Deeps.

THE SHOWDOWN
In December, Inco and Falconbridge both began to aggressively pursue Diamond Fields.

First, Inco presented a deal in principle for $3.5 billion, or $31 per share. Then, Falconbridge intercepted with an official offer for $4.0 billion, or $36 per share. This was a risky move for the smaller company, but it limited its downside by adding in $100 million in fees to the agreement in the case the deal were to not be finalized.

Next, the two competitors (Inco and Falconbridge) teamed together through a mutual connection to present an offer in tandem.

It was instantly shot down by Friedland.

Finally on March 26th 1996, Inco announced a takeover bid of its own for $4.5 billion of Diamond Fields – the equivalent of $43.50 per share or $174 pre-split. Inco’s stock price dropped but it held on, making the total value of the deal closer to $4.3 billion. On April 3, the deal was officially signed by all parties.

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on The Story of Voisey’s Bay

Trans-Atlantic Alliance Group

For centuries, the two strongest continents that supported democracy, free trade, similar languages, culture, religions, rule of law and customs were Europe and North America. One supplied most of the other’s immigration. The latter defended twice against invasions that overthrew the previously’held democratic governments in the former.

A new initiative is being undertaken by businessmen, citizens and interested people who wish to revive the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, the friendship and mutual support of these two continents.

Over the summer of 2017, Robert S. Stewart will commence a plan to build a lobby of Europeans and North American nationals living in Europe, to strengthen this relationship. It will focus as always on mutual security, increased trade, investment and technological co-operation.

In its deepest dimension, the transatlantic relationship has suffered tremendous erosion. The displacement of foreign policy strategies, growing apathy, generation change and dissolving personal networks, a focus on domestic affairs, less stable definitionsof position, unexpected changes in political standpoint; in short:
Europe and America are experiencing the end of a nearly 50-year transatlantic relationship that was taken for granted. Relations across the Atlantic have entered the vortex of changing global political constellations, under the threat of terrorism, and must provide new answers for new challenges.
In assessing these future challenges for the transatlantic community, the radically changed international political conditions must be taken into consideration. Many formerly decisive figures and models of international politics have lost relevance in recent years and no longer stand ready to guide future strategies or to train new transatlantic leadership. Two changes in international politics seem particularly relevant in light of this situation:
First of all, international terrorism has replaced the East-West conflict and the dominant classical security concerns as the strategic, main determinant of international politics. At the same time,the number of actors in the international political scene is growing, together with the potential for cooperation and conflict.
A consequence of this development is the relativization of former power structures. In addition, the advancement of international law and the globalization of media, with worldwide on-the-spot coverage, contribute to this phenomenon.

EU leaders approved a document in June 2016 that laid out the principles, objectives and instruments of the bloc’s foreign and security policy. In the first attempt for 13 years to codify a global strategy for the EU, the leaders placed special emphasis on US-European military, political and economic relations. “We will keep deepening the transatlantic bond and our partnership with Nato,” the document stated.

Seven months later, these fine sentiments risk appearing beside the point as the Trump administration, like a wrecking ball swinging its way across the Atlantic, pounds into Europe’s strategic assumptions. Donald Trump’s “America first” instincts, his seemingly lukewarm commitment to Nato and his low opinion of the EU indicate that the president is challenging cardinal tenets of US foreign policy in ways that would have horrified all his predecessors since Harry Truman.

It follows that Europe’s leaders must not flinch from asking themselves the most searching questions about how best to protect peace, prosperity and political pluralism on their continent. Encouragingly, they started this process soon after Britain’s vote in June to leave the EU, an unwelcome blow in itself to European unity. They intensified it after Mr Trump’s election in November and they will develop it further at a summit on Friday in Malta.

There is no time to waste. A good starting point for the hard-headed rethink that is required is the letter which Donald Tusk, the EU council president, sent on Tuesday to his fellow leaders. He observed that, for the first time in the bloc’s 60-year history, the major world powers — China, Russia and now, in an extraordinary turn of events, the new administration in Washington — are either openly anti-European or, at best, Eurosceptic. But he also contended rightly that Europe must not “surrender to those who want to weaken or invalidate the transatlantic bond, without which global order and peace cannot survive”.

As Mr Tusk implies, it is far too soon to perform the funeral rites of the US-European relationship and, in particular, of Nato. The EU must deploy all its influence in Washington to persuade internationalists in the Trump administration, Congress and opinion-making circles that the western military alliance benefits both sides of the Atlantic. The argument is anything but lost, as is shown by the arrival in the Baltic states this week of US troops and armour under an initiative to strengthen Nato’s eastern flank.

Nonetheless, it is high time for Europe to take more responsibility for its security. Europe has relied on US protection so heavily since the Cold War’s earliest days that it lacks a culture of independent strategic thinking. US impatience with low European defence spending is entirely justified. Although European defence budgets are going up, the rise is modest. Total expenditure in 2015 was 85.5 per cent of the pre-financial crisis levels of 2007.

Governments must eliminate the inefficiencies caused by duplication of capabilities, technological gaps and a lack of interoperable defence systems. About 80 per cent of EU defence procurement is run on a national basis. Fewer collaborative European defence programmes exist today than 20 years ago. The EU has 154 types of weapons systems; the US has 27. All this must change if sceptics in Washington are to treat Europe more seriously as a defence partner. The UK should support European efforts in this direction.

Europe must also make more purposeful efforts at stabilising its immediate neighbourhood, especially the western Balkans, the post-Soviet states of eastern Europe and north Africa. Without a more coherent refugee and migrant policy, aimed at tightening control of its external borders but providing channels for legal immigration, the EU will remain mired in disputes that sap its strength and morale. On the diplomatic front, the EU should balance its relations with Washington by working more closely with friends and partners in Australia, Canada, India, Japan and Latin America.

In navigating the choppy waters of a disturbed world order, European leaders must take care not to crash on the rocks of foolhardy ambition or become becalmed in foggy visions of integration for its own sake. Europe is still far away from being able to provide fully for its own security. But it can, and should, stand on its own feet more firmly with the aim of preserving the transatlantic bond.

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on Trans-Atlantic Alliance Group

The astonishing reinvention of Donald Trump

US president has quickly adopted the stance of the Washington insider

by: Edward Luce 14 April 2017

Barely 4 per cent of Washington’s residents voted for Donald Trump last November — the lowest share in the country. If the election were held in the US capital again today, it is a fair bet Mr Trump would clear double digits.

Washingtonians are still puzzling at the speed with which the man who promised to “drain the swamp” is now basking in its approval. In the past 10 days, Mr Trump has belied many of the city’s worst fears. Having promised to launch a trade war with China, Mr Trump is rapidly abandoning his protectionist rhetoric. Likewise, having vowed to avoid foreign wars, he has acquired a sudden taste for Levantine missile launches. And having dismissed Nato as obsolete, Mr Trump is now singing the alliance’s praises.

He has even spoken harshly about Vladimir Putin, his erstwhile role model. In a city famous for its pragmatism, Mr Trump is breaking all records for breaking campaign promises — and all within his first hundred days. It is tempting to conclude Mr Trump is pulling off the biggest bait and switch in electoral history.
He’s a divorced adulterer who ran a gambling empire, so how did America’s Moral Majority get so evangelical about Donald Trump?

He came to office as an outsider. But he has quickly adopted the stance of the Washington insider. This reading is unlikely to hold for long. As Mr Trump’s stock has risen in Washington, his poll numbers continue to plummet in the rest of America. At 36 per cent, his Gallup approval rating is dramatically lower than any US president in history at this stage of his administration.

In a special election in Kansas earlier this week, the Republican candidate just clung on to a district that Mr Trump had won by 27 percentage points last November. Another election in Georgia next week could provide further signs of a sagging Republican brand.

The further Mr Trump’s numbers fall outside of Washington’s beltway, the more difficult he will find it to achieve anything inside it. Mr Trump has been unable to push any legislation through a Republican controlled Congress. No president in US history has had such a poor opening period. Another missile strike may boost Mr Trump’s ranking with television pundits. But it is unlikely to improve his leverage with anxious Republicans.

Mr Trump will be looking for ways to restore his poll numbers. It is possible he could fire Stephen Bannon, his chief strategist and a co-author of his “America First” campaign. Rarely has a political star faded as fast as Mr Bannon’s. But Mr Bannon has strong defenders both inside and outside the White House. Among them is Jeff Sessions, the hardline attorney-general, who is quietly implementing many of Mr Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign promises. In an interview this week, Mr Sessions came strongly to Mr Bannon’s defence.

Another is Robert Mercer, the hedge fund tycoon, who bankrolled much of Mr Trump’s campaign. Mr Mercer, and his daughter, Rebekah, own a stake in Breitbart News, the hard right website that played a role in Mr Trump’s victory — and which used to be run by Mr Bannon. If Breitbart turned on Mr Trump, and resumed its negative coverage of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, he could lose a large chunk of his core supporters. It is hard to believe Mr Trump would go to war with his own base.

Then there is Mr Trump’s capricious nature. Friends of the president say he is heavily influenced by the last person to whom he has spoken. In recent days that has included Xi Jinping, China’s president. It has also included a number of Middle Eastern leaders. Each of them is happy with Mr Trump’s abrupt recent policy changes.

But Mr Trump’s U-turns offer little guarantee for the future. As Mr Bannon is discovering, Mr Trump has no fixed loyalties. There is less to America’s president than meets the eye.

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on The astonishing reinvention of Donald Trump

The Folly of Global Warming

President Trump’s unfortunate and misguided rollback of environmental protections has led to a depressing and widespread belief that the United States can no longer meet its commitment under the Paris climate change agreement. But here’s the good news: It’s wrong.

No matter what roadblocks the White House and Congress throw up, the United States can — and I’m confident, will — meet the commitment it made in Paris in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet. Let me explain why, and why correcting the false perception is so important.

Those who believe that the Trump administration will end American leadership on climate change are making the same mistake as those who believe that it will put coal miners back to work: overestimating Washington’s ability to influence energy markets, and underestimating the role that cities, states, businesses and consumers are playing in driving down emissions on their own.

Though few people realize it, more than 250 coal plants — almost half of the total number in this country — have announced in recent years that they will close or switch to cleaner fuels. Washington isn’t putting these plants out of business; the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan hasn’t even gone into effect yet.

They are closing because consumers are demanding energy from sources that don’t poison their air and water, and because energy companies are providing cleaner and cheaper alternatives. When two coal plant closings were announced last week, in southern Ohio, the company explained that they were no longer “economically viable.” That’s increasingly true for the whole industry.

A week before President Trump signed the executive order to begin rolling back the Clean Power Plan, Moody’s Investor Service released a report concluding that wind power could displace up to two-thirds of coal-fired power production in 15 Midwestern states. The reason? The average cost of wind power has dropped to $20 per megawatt, compared with the more than $30 cost per megawatt for electricity from many coal plants in the region. Why would consumers pay more for a power source that may kill them?

In 2010, airborne coal pollution was killing 13,000 Americans a year, according to the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit environmental group. Today, that number is about 7,500. When politicians talk about the “war on coal,” they never mention the lives being saved.

There is virtually nothing the Trump administration can do to stop advanced technology and consumer preferences from driving down coal’s market share still further. (A decade ago, coal was the source of half of American electricity production; today it’s down to one-third.) In fact, even if the Clean Power Plan disappears entirely, we would still be in a position to meet our Paris commitment, which is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Consider the data. When we made the commitment in Paris, we were already about a third of the way there, thanks mostly to the closing of so many coal plants. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which works to replace coal with cleaner forms of energy (and which my foundation supports), projects that more plant closings will get us to nearly two-thirds of our goal.

In combination with existing federal policies that can’t be undone, like vehicle fuel efficiency standards through model year 2021, the last third can be achieved by cities and businesses that are taking action to cut pollution and improve their energy efficiency. This week, many of the 81 major corporations (including Apple and Wal-Mart) that signed a pledge in 2015 to reduce their emissions reaffirmed their commitments, and Anheuser-Busch InBev announced that it aims to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. (My company is pursuing the same goal.)

No mandate from Washington is forcing these companies to act — just their own self-interest.

Cities, too, are acting out of self-interest. By improving their air quality and becoming greener, cities turn into more attractive places to live and work. And where people want to live and work, businesses want to invest. That’s Economics 101, and mayors understand it even when Washington doesn’t.

In both red and blue states, cities — which account for about two-thirds of the country’s emissions — are taking the lead in the fight against climate change. More than 130 American cities have joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and all are determined to see that we meet our Paris goal. Their local policies — expanding mass transit, increasing the energy efficiency of their buildings, installing electric vehicle charging stations, creating bike share programs, planting trees, to name just a few — will help ensure we do.

There is a real danger in failing to recognize the tremendous progress we’re making. Claims that the United States will no longer be able to meet its Paris obligations give other countries an excuse to walk away from theirs. How terrible it would be if a misunderstanding of American climate leadership — which is not based in Washington and never has been — led to an unraveling of the Paris agreement.

I wish President Trump and his administration would recognize the health, economic and environmental benefits of tackling climate change. But their failure to do so is no reason to be despondent. Thanks to forces beyond the Washington Beltway that have reached a critical mass, we should be more optimistic than ever about our ability to lead — and win — the fight against climate change.

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on The Folly of Global Warming

The Rise and Fall of President Trump

The New York Times can often be credited with having some of the best journalism in America. Here is one of those rare examples. The article describes the rise of the non-politician, deal-making businessman who won an abnormal Presidency. As he attempted to control the political process with his prowess, he stumbled into the morass he tried to clean up.  The following story best describes the process Trump has waded through as the country’s new leader gropes through Congress to find his feet and make America Great again. Understanding how Trump will adjust to his new surroundings and what his chances will be for eventual success are greatly furthered by reading this article.

After the president suffered his first defeat on Capitol Hill, can the White House still make good on its legislative promises?

By ROBERT DRAPER MARCH 26, 2017

On Monday, Jan. 9, less than two weeks before President Trump’s inauguration, the House speaker, Paul Ryan, hosted a dinner at his office in the Capitol with members of Trump’s inner circle. The guests included the president-elect’s chief White House strategist, Stephen K. Bannon; his son-in-law and family consigliere, Jared Kushner; his chief of staff, Reince Priebus; his economic adviser, Gary Cohn; his nominee for Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin; his incoming deputy chief of staff, Rick Dearborn; and his legislative-affairs director, Marc Short. The ostensible purpose of the dinner was to discuss the details of Trump’s legislative agenda — in particular, the prospects for a sweeping tax-reform measure that Republicans, and especially Ryan, have been coveting for the past decade.

It was hoped that the dinner could also establish some sort of common ground between Ryan and Bannon, the two figures who would arguably wield the greatest influence over how Trump’s campaign promises became law — or didn’t. Ryan was a fixture among establishment Republicans even before joining Mitt Romney’s presidential ticket in 2012, his previous labors on the House Budget Committee cementing his reputation as the charts-and-graphs wizard of fiscal conservatism. Bannon, by contrast, was a renegade autodidact who read Plato and had seemingly materialized from nowhere to become the intellectual architect of Trump’s campaign and, later, administration.

Up to this point, Ryan had epitomized to Bannon everything that was wrong with the Republican Party. Discussing the two parties’ shortcomings, Bannon later told me, “What’s that Dostoyevsky line: Happy families are all the same, but unhappy families are unhappy in their own unique ways?” (He meant Tolstoy.) “I think the Democrats are fundamentally afflicted with the inability to discuss and have an adult conversation about economics and jobs, because they’re too consumed by identity politics. And then the Republicans, it’s all this theoretical Cato Institute, Austrian economics, limited government — which just doesn’t have any depth to it. They’re not living in the real world.”

Breitbart News, the far-right media outlet Bannon ran before becoming the chief executive of the Trump campaign in August, had described Ryan, referring to his position on immigration, as “arguably the most pro-amnesty G.O.P. lawmaker in Congress” — an apostasy of nearly impeachable proportions from Bannon’s perspective. Worst of all, Ryan all but abandoned Trump during the 2016 campaign. After the leak in October of the damaging “Access Hollywood” tape, Ryan told fellow Republican House members on a conference call, “I am not going to defend Donald Trump — not now, not in the future.” A Republican lawmaker on the call told Trump what Ryan had said, yet another reason for Bannon to regard himself as Ryan’s worst enemy.

But as the dinner progressed, it became clear that Bannon and Ryan actually had some ideas in common. Over memorably bad chicken Parmesan, Ryan described his vision for a “border-adjustment tax,” which would levy taxes on imports while offering exemptions for exports. His tax package would include “immediate expensing,” he explained, in which capital expenditures would be written off against profits in the first year rather than over time. It also would abolish the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax.

These were ideas Ryan had been pushing since 2008. Now they had Bannon’s attention. Taken together with a drastic reduction in corporate taxes, Bannon believed, Ryan’s scheme would spur a renaissance of a manufacturing-based export economy, producing high-income labor in keeping with Trump’s populism. “I would actually say,” Bannon remembers observing admiringly, “that this tax reform comes as close to a first step of economic nationalism as there is.”

“I would call it ‘responsible nationalism,’ ” Ryan said, according to Bannon. Bannon laughed. “You’re going to have a lot of folks in the Senate say this is breathtakingly radical.”

He meant it as a compliment. To Bannon, the entire world order — from the two political parties to the Wall Street reliance on leveraging to multiculturalism — was undergoing an extraordinary realignment, one made manifest in the 2016 election. According to Bannon’s vision, economic nationalism would reorient priorities to the working class’s benefit. Trade deals, jobs programs, tax incentives, immigration restrictions, environmental deregulation and even foreign policy would ultimately serve to restore the primacy of those Trump called “the forgotten Americans.”

In March, when I spoke to Trump by phone, I asked him what the term “economic nationalism” meant to him. Compared with Bannon’s revolutionary fervor, his reply was surprisingly cautious. “Well, ‘nationalism’ — I define it as people who love the country and want it to do good,” he said. “I don’t see ‘nationalism’ as a bad word. I see it as a very positive word. It doesn’t mean we won’t trade with other countries.”

Trump’s tone was genial but also a touch defensive. His postelection honeymoon had been short, if it existed at all. There were the administrative intrigues and self-inflicted Twitter drama, along with the questions about his campaign’s contacts with Russia, which had already forced the resignation of his national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Still, Trump’s legislative liaisons and their counterparts on Capitol Hill were doggedly negotiating a rollout of the Trump Era, one that would fulfill his most significant campaign promises — those that could not be done with just a stroke of Trump’s own pen but required acts of Congress.

First, Obamacare would be repealed and replaced. Next, an austere budget would be passed, with emergency funds allotted for the construction of a wall along the Southern border. Then would come a tax-reform plan, presumably of the type Ryan and Bannon discussed. And finally, a bipartisan coalition would deliver a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan to Trump’s desk. If all this came to pass by the end of 2017, it would lend some credence to Trump’s pledge that this would be “the busiest Congress we’ve had in decades.” But by March, this timetable was looking like a formidable “if.”

Trump himself seemed prone to distraction as he spoke to me from the Oval Office. Though I was asking about his policy aims, his musings swerved off to other vexations. More than once he denounced as “fake news” reports about his administration’s supposed disharmony. He brought up his speech before the joint session of Congress in February, “which I hope you liked, but I certainly have gotten great reviews — even the people who hate me gave me the highest review.” During the call, I could hear Priebus nearby, occasionally murmuring encouragement.

Trump sounded more clipped and less jaunty on the call than he did during the discursive chats I had with him last year on the campaign trail. The business of governing had little to do with any trade he had previously practiced. In Congress, he was grappling with an arcane and famously inefficient ecosystem over which he had little if any control — and people he incessantly derided on the campaign trail as being “all talk and no action.” I asked him if he still felt that way. “It’s like any other industry,” he replied, somewhat morosely. “I’ve met some great politicians and some, to be honest, who aren’t so hot.”

Trump wanted to make sure that he was given adequate credit for his achievements, even in his administration’s infancy. “We’ve only been here for a tiny speck of time,” he said, “and what I’ve done with regulations, moving jobs back into the country, what I’ve done with airplane pricing and buying is amazing. We’ve done a lot. I think we’ve done more than anybody for this short period of time.” Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson would take exception to this claim. And Trump’s significant actions to date have consisted entirely of executive orders. What he has not yet demonstrated is his ability to actually shepherd a bill into law.

The only major legislation that congressional committees have even seen thus far is a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, which met with a stunning rebuke from Trump’s own party, forcing Ryan to withdraw the measure on the afternoon of March 24. At this stage of his presidency, Barack Obama had already signed into law his $787 billion economic-stimulus package and had moved on to holding White House meetings on health care. It’s conceivable that Trump could hit Day 100 with only minor symbolic legislative achievements to his name. For him to avoid this ignominy, the 45th president will have to develop a rapport with Washington’s 535 federal deal makers, including the ones who “aren’t so hot.”

Whether Trump’s agenda succeeds will also depend in no small measure on the ability of Bannon to expand his game beyond 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. At 63, and with a fortune reported to be in the tens of millions of dollars — partly through his investment in the company that owns the syndication rights to “Seinfeld” — Bannon is regarded by Trump as a peer in the way that, say, the 45-year-old lifelong politico Priebus is not. He is also approvingly seen as a fellow workaholic by the president (whose only known hobbies are golf and hate-watching CNN). And he is a deft operator who has learned from the successes and failures of other Trump advisers.

He has carefully not claimed credit that the president would wish for himself and avoids giving expansive interviews on his own controversial views that might detract from his boss’s celebrity. Like the former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Bannon understands that power in Trump World derives mainly from close and sustained physical proximity to the boss. Unlike Lewandowski, Bannon immediately grasped the importance of maintaining close relations with Jared Kushner, who factored heavily in Lewandowski’s dismissal from the Trump campaign last summer.

But like Kushner, Bannon has never worked in government or at a policy-making institute and has no meaningful experience when it comes to getting legislation passed. On the Hill, he has a few random associations — Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Representative John Culberson of Texas among them. Otherwise, he remains a looming but indistinct presence to the lawmakers who will be needed to pass most of Trump’s agenda.

Bannon’s interest in this agenda predated his association with Trump. One evening in January 2013, two guests showed up for dinner at the Capitol Hill townhouse that Bannon liked to call the Breitbart Embassy. One was the man Bannon would later describe to me as his “mentor”: Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. The other was Sessions’s top aide and protégé, a jittery 27-year-old named Stephen Miller.

Two months earlier, Obama decisively defeated Mitt Romney in the presidential election, prompting Priebus, then the chairman of the Republican National Committee, to commission an analysis of the state of the party and its future, known colloquially in Washington as the “autopsy,” which would be delivered that spring. The only certainty was that the report would urge Republicans to court the growing Latino electorate — which had voted for Obama by a 44-point margin that November — by championing comprehensive immigration reform. The three men at the dinner table that night were among the few Republicans in town who thoroughly rejected that conclusion.

Bannon wanted to talk to Sessions and Miller about a different report: an article written by Sean Trende, the senior elections analyst for the website RealClearPolitics, titled “The Case of the Missing White Voters.” Trende observed that Obama’s victory was less a function of increased minority turnout than of the fact that 6.6 million white voters who participated in the 2008 election stayed home in 2012. The reason for this drop, Trende argued, was that white working-class voters who did not approve of Obama but were alienated by Romney’s perceived elitism had not voted.

These votes were gettable, Bannon believed. As he would later tell me: “The working class, and in particular the lower middle class, understands something that’s so obvious — which is that they’ve basically underwritten the rise of China. Their jobs, their raises, their retirement accounts have all fueled the private equity and venture capital that built China. Because China’s really built on investments and exports, right? People are smart enough to know that they’re getting played by both political parties. The two may be different on social issues, but when it comes to fundamental economics, they’re both the same. That’s why the American working class is interested in trade. It’s linked to their lives.”

Sessions shared Bannon’s belief that the Republican Party needed to emphasize immigration reduction, border security and the preservation of working-class jobs through trade policy rather than courting Latino voters with a bill he regarded as “amnesty.” As Sessions would write in a memorandum to his Republican colleagues six months later, “This humble and honest populism — in contrast to the administration’s cheap demagoguery — would open the ears of millions who have turned away from our party.”

At some point during the five-hour dinner, Bannon recalls blurting out to Sessions, “We have to run you for president.” Just two years earlier, in 2011, he made a similar pitch to Sarah Palin, after completing a documentary about her called “The Undefeated.” Palin demurred. She was enjoying her life of celebrity and wealth, she had done little to immerse herself in policy minutiae and she was no doubt unsettled by Bannon’s warning that she stood little chance of defeating Obama.

Now he delivered a similar message to Sessions. “Look, you’re not going to win,” he recalls saying. “But you can get the Republican nomination. And once you control the apparatus, you can make fundamental changes. Trade is No.100 on the party’s list. You can make it No.1. Immigration is No.10. We can make it No.2.” Acknowledging that the drawling Alabama senator lacked Palin’s charisma, Bannon said, “You’ll be the anti-candidate.” But Sessions told Bannon he did not see himself running for president. “It was pretty obvious by the end of the night,” Bannon recalled, “that another candidate would have to do it.”

Two months later, on March 15, 2013, Bannon happened to be attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington when Trump took the stage. Trump had been a marginal figure at most in politics up to that point, entertaining a Reform Party run in the 2000 election — when he speculated that he would probably take more votes from the Democratic candidate than the Republican one — and leading a conspiratorial crusade in 2011 to force Obama to release his birth certificate. The possibility that he might be a suitable host body for Bannon’s worldview had not occurred to Bannon before Trump spoke.

But Trump’s grousing references to China’s economic superiority, to 11 million “illegals” and to the erosion of America’s manufacturing sector were right out of Bannon’s playbook. From his desk in the Russell Senate Office Building, Stephen Miller, too, watched Trump’s speech. By 2014, Miller was sending emails to friends expressing the hope that Trump would run for president. By the time Trump announced his candidacy, in June 2015, Sessions was officially uncommitted but privately of the view that Trump was best suited to tap into the movement that he, Miller and Bannon discussed over dinner more than two years earlier.

Bannon’s early support for Trump was manifest in Breitbart’s breathless coverage of his candidacy. In an email he sent on Aug. 30, 2015, to his former filmmaking partner Julia Jones, Bannon explained that while Republican candidates like Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina were “all great,” Trump represented a superior choice, because he “is a nationalist who embraces Senator Sessions’s plan” on immigration. Still, recalls Sam Nunberg, Trump’s first campaign strategist, “Steve kept all of his cards.” He added: “He was respectful to some of the other ones who were running, like Walker and Cruz and Carson. He didn’t want to be seen as Trump-bart.” When Trump publicly disparaged John McCain’s war-hero credentials, Bannon — himself a Navy veteran — called Nunberg and demanded that Trump issue an apology. (Trump did not.)

Bannon was well positioned as a supportive but not sycophantic observer by Aug. 13, 2016, when the Trump donor Rebekah Mercer read with alarm a New York Times account of the Trump campaign’s inability to handle its mercurial candidate. At Mercer’s behest, Bannon (whose website Mercer’s family helped underwrite) and Kellyanne Conway (who at that point was receiving money from both a Mercer family political action committee and the Trump campaign) flew out that day to East Hampton, N.Y., where Trump was attending a dinner fund-raiser at the home of the New York Jets’ owner, Woody Johnson. After the dinner, Bannon and Conway huddled with the candidate. Bannon remembers telling Trump, who at the time was trailing Hillary Clinton by double digits in the polls, “As long as you stick to the message” — by which he meant economic nationalism — “you have a 100 percent probability of winning.”

A week after the election, in an interview with the journalist Michael Wolff, Bannon offered a bold, sweeping sketch of what the vision might mean in policy terms: “Like [Andrew] Jackson’s populism, we’re going to build an entirely new political movement. It’s everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy.” Of course, some of the conservatives Bannon intended to drive crazy possessed the congressional votes Bannon and Trump would need to advance this agenda. Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a leading conservative in the House, told me in March, “I would argue that populism, as long as it’s rooted in conservative principle, is a darn good thing.” Jordan was smiling as he said it, but the note of warning was hard to mistake.

The last time the Republican Party controlled all branches of government in Washington was from 2003 to 2007. During that period, the United States military toppled Saddam Hussein, Congress delivered tax cuts for the wealthy and President George W. Bush appointed the reliably conservative jurist Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court.

But in the collective view of conservatives, these years of the Bush presidency were mostly characterized by betrayal and disappointment. Goaded by Bush, congressional Republicans passed into law a new federal entitlement (prescription drugs for senior citizens, also known as Medicare Part D), ran up the deficit, promoted democratic ideals overseas in the feckless manner of Woodrow Wilson, considered a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and confirmed a Supreme Court chief justice, John G. Roberts Jr., whose swing vote would later save Obamacare from judicial evisceration. “My go-to line when I first ran in 2008 was, ‘Republicans had the House, the Senate and the White House — and they blew it,’ ” Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told me. “Now we’ve got all three again, and I’m the guy who’s in Congress, not running for it. I don’t want to be in a position where we’re going to blow it one more time.”

Chaffetz and other House conservatives freely acknowledge that Trump is not cut from their cloth, but they say they could not care less as long as he gives them what they want. Selecting Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat once held by Justice Antonin Scalia was “the best thing the president did in his first 50 days,” Chaffetz told me. He and his conservative colleagues have been cheered by Trump’s recruitment of former House colleagues and conservative stalwarts like Vice President Mike Pence; Tom Price, the health and human services secretary; and Mick Mulvaney, the Office of Management and Budget director.

When Chaffetz and I spoke in March, he had met with the president twice so far — access he considered “such a huge sea change” from the stony silence Republicans say they encountered from the Obama White House. Most important, the Trump agenda’s first three projected legislative moves — the Obamacare repeal and replacement, an austere budget and tax reform — were intended to keep conservatives happily in Trump’s camp. In turn, when the agenda moved on to less conservative items like infrastructure and trade agreements, Trump and Bannon would fully expect Republicans, including Ryan, to remember whose message resonated most with working-class voters last year.

Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, is Trump’s chief point of contact on the Hill. When McCarthy was a college student and budding entrepreneur in Bakersfield, Calif., in the late 1980s, his girlfriend at the time, now his wife, Judy, gave him an autographed copy of Trump’s “The Art of the Deal.” “I thought it was great,” he told me. In McCarthy’s view, Trump is a master of today’s media, much as Lincoln and Kennedy were in their own times. “He’s mastered instantaneous Twitter,” he said. “It’s like owning newspapers.”

Trump has found a kindred spirit in McCarthy, a coastal extrovert of ambiguous ideological portfolio who (unlike Ryan) would far rather talk about personalities than the tax code. And as the former minority leader in the California Legislature during the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger, McCarthy is experienced in the care and feeding of celebrity egos. Since Trump’s nomination, the two have spoken frequently by phone — to date, Trump has never been known to directly email or text anyone — about the cast of 535 characters with whom the president must now deal.

But in the end, what Trump needs from the majority leader is not gossip but votes — 216 of them, to be exact, in the House. And McCarthy’s recent track record in obtaining majorities has not been the greatest. In his previous capacity as House whip, he was thwarted by members of his own party when it came to subjects as diverse as reauthorizing a Patriot Act they deemed too intrusive, a farm bill they considered too expensive and a border-security bill they regarded as too lenient. His most reliable obstacles have been the three dozen or so House conservatives known as the Freedom Caucus, a two-year-old group of fiscal hard-liners. Early this year, McCarthy predicted to me that the new president would quickly subjugate the Freedom Caucus. “Trump is strong in their districts,” McCarthy told me. “There’s not a place for them to survive in this world.”

When we spoke on the morning of March 7, Trump assured me that he would not bully the Obamacare-replacement bill’s loudest Republican critics, like the Freedom Caucus chairman, Representative Mark Meadows, on Twitter: “No, I don’t think I’ll have to,” he said. “Mark Meadows is a great guy and a friend of mine. I don’t think he’d ever disappoint me, or the party. I think he’s great. No, I would never call him out on Twitter. Some of the others, too. I don’t think we’ll need to. Now, they’re fighting for their turf, but I don’t think they’re going to be obstructionists. I spoke to Mark. He’s got some ideas. I think they’re very positive.”

But on March 21, in a meeting with the Freedom Caucus about the bill, Trump called out Meadows by name, saying, “I’m going to come after you, but I know I won’t have to, because I know you’ll vote ‘yes.’ ” Meadows remained a “no” on the bill, and among conservatives, he was far from alone. One of the Freedom Caucus’s most outspoken members, Representative Raúl Labrador of Idaho, believes that the Trump White House was led astray by Ryan’s confidence that he knew what conservatives wanted when drafting the bill. “The legislation has to go through the body, not the top,” Labrador told me. “And if our leadership thinks now that we’re a unified body, that they can do things while ignoring us, that’s not going to happen.”

Labrador is an affable but decidedly stubborn 49-year-old Mormon and former immigration lawyer who moved as a child with his single mother from Puerto Rico to Las Vegas. He was interviewed by the president-elect for the post of interior secretary at Trump Tower last December — though Trump selected Labrador’s House colleague Ryan Zinke for the post a few days later.

For now, Labrador and other Freedom Caucus members have been willing to blame House leaders like Ryan and McCarthy for drafting a health care bill that was not to conservatives’ liking. They aspire to remain philosophical whenever Trump’s daughter Ivanka persuades her father to propose initiatives like paid family leave, as he did during his joint-session speech. “I didn’t stand up when he said that,” Labrador said. “That’s the only part of the speech where I thought, That’s not even close to what my party stands for.”

To House conservatives like Labrador, the Republican Party stands for limited government. To Trump and Bannon, big-ticket items like a border wall and infrastructure take priority over shrinking America’s debt. As Chaffetz admitted to me, “On the spending front, things could slip away really quickly.”

Trump’s budget blueprint is regarded by deficit hawks as fundamentally unserious, because it does not touch entitlements. Instead, it ravages perennial (and already pint-size) conservative piñatas like foreign aid, public broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts, in addition to downsizing the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department — cuts that focus on the 27 percent of the federal budget that is not mandatory spending or devoted to defense. And for all the Republicans’ chesty rhetoric on cuts like these over the years, as a top House Republican staff member told me, “even the cabinet secretaries at the E.P.A. and Interior are saying these cuts aren’t going to happen. They’re going to protect their grant programs, their payments to states, their Superfunds. So how do you cut 31 percent of the E.P.A. out of the 5 percent that isn’t protected? And a bill that cuts all money for the N.E.A. will not pass. For Republicans in the West” — states whose vast rural areas benefit disproportionately from N.E.A. grants — “that’s a re-election killer. The campaign commercials write themselves.”

Labrador says he would defend Trump’s cuts but doubts that many of his colleagues would. “What he’s going to learn is that members of Congress are unwilling to take the tough votes,” he told me. “When he learns that, what’s going to be the next step?” In Labrador’s view, Trump’s only sane recourse will be to accept the need for entitlement reform. “At some point, the reality of the budget is going to have to hit him,” he said. “You can have this economic nationalism — Bannon is very smart, he clearly helped him with his messaging, it was so successful — but at some point, that theory is going to hit reality.”

When I spoke with Trump, I ventured that, based on available evidence, it seemed as though conservatives probably shouldn’t hold their breath for the next four years expecting entitlement reform. Trump’s reply was immediate. “I think you’re right,” he said. In fact, Trump seemed much less animated by the subject of budget cuts than the subject of spending increases. “We’re also going to prime the pump,” he said. “You know what I mean by ‘prime the pump’? In order to get this” — the economy — “going, and going big league, and having the jobs coming in and the taxes that will be cut very substantially and the regulations that’ll be going, we’re going to have to prime the pump to some extent. In other words: Spend money to make a lot more money in the future. And that’ll happen.” A clearer elucidation of Keynesian liberalism could not have been delivered by Obama.

The one clear point of agreement between the Trump economic nationalists and the House conservatives is the one Ryan and Bannon identified over dinner in January: tax reform. But in so doing, they will be picking a fight that may prove perilous to Republicans. The border-adjustment-tax proposal that Ryan floated to Bannon has never been able to get past K Street lobbyists and wealthy Republican donors like the Koch brothers.

When I asked Trump if he was a fan of the border-adjustment tax, he replied: “I am. I’m the king of that.” Almost no other country grafts an import tax onto a corporate tax, and it’s possible that enacting a border-adjustment tax might well be in violation of the World Trade Organization’s agreements. Of course, Bannon has openly advocated abandoning the W.T.O. anyway, because of China’s membership in it. Still, the specter of new taxes on American corporations, higher prices for consumers and a jump in the dollar’s value may compel an unusual confederacy against the tax-reform plan.

Labrador predicts that the border-adjustment tax “will have very little political legs” in the conservative House, while Senator Lindsey Graham said in February that even in the Republican-controlled Senate, Ryan’s tax plan “won’t get 10 votes.” Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat who has been outspoken in her willingness to work with Trump in spite of the broader stance of her party, says, “Let me tell you, I represent farmers, and anyone who tells me that farm country benefits from a high dollar needs to have a discussion with me.”

Perhaps the Republican faction most alarmed by Bannon’s economic nationalism is Washington’s military hawks. John McCain is among those not mollified by Trump’s pledge of enacting “one of the largest increases in national-defense spending in American history.” McCain scoffed when I brought this up to him. “Of course that’s simply not true,” he said. “When you look at 1981 and Reagan’s commitment to rebuilding the military, there’s no comparison to this 3 percent increase. It’s a shell game, my friend.”

Despite his obvious differences with Trump, McCain was willing to work with him — but Bannon’s presence seemed to confound such prospects. “It’s kind of interesting,” McCain said, “because I have decades of experience with Kelly, with Mattis, with Dan Coats, McMaster,” referring to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly; Defense Secretary James Mattis; Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence; and H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser. “We discuss issues all the time. I think this is probably the finest national-security team that I’ve ever observed. It’s almost schizophrenic, in that I obviously don’t have conversations with Steve Bannon, but I do with Reince Priebus — he was my Republican chair in Wisconsin in my 2008 presidential campaign. So it’s almost a schizophrenic — that’s not the right word. A very divided kind of relationship. Paradoxical.”

McCain acknowledged to me that economic nationalism was a global movement and therefore not entirely “the making of some members of the Trump entourage.” He then said: “But it is an articulation that I believe is strongly reminiscent of the 1930s. It certainly has unsettled our allies and friends around the world, there’s no doubt about that.” Already, the senator asserted, the new administration’s bellicosity toward Mexico has increased the likelihood that its citizens will elect “a very left-wing, anti-American president.” As for an import tax of the sort favored by Bannon and Ryan, “talk about harkening back to the 1930s,” he said. “It’s unbelievable to me that they somehow think if we start taxing goods coming across the border, that that’s somehow not going to be responded to by the Mexicans. Please. History shows this sort of action gets you into a trade war.”

Listening to McCain’s tirade, I found it evident that the Bannon Effect might well cost the Trump White House at least one Republican Senate vote on a number of central issues — this at a time when Republicans are clinging to a slender majority in the upper chamber. In such cases, Trump could find himself asking for something Obama was never able to count on: votes from the opposition.

Early in the afternoon of Feb. 9, several Democratic senators met with Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House to discuss the Gorsuch nomination and other matters. Among them were Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana. All four are moderates who are up for re-election in 2018 in states Trump carried in 2016 by titanic margins — the least of which, in Donnelly’s state, was nearly 20 points. If Democrats are to nurture any hopes of retaking the Senate majority, they will need to hold these four seats.

But if Donnelly, Heitkamp, Manchin and Tester need to be seen back home as willing to work with Trump, the president needs them as well. Republicans enjoy a precarious 52-to-48 advantage in the Senate. On matters like the Supreme Court, Trump can count on all 52. On votes requiring a simple majority, any two of those Republicans could fall away, and Pence could preserve the win with a tiebreaking vote. But a trio of fiscal hard-liners (like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Lee), military hawks (John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio) or social moderates (Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Shelley Moore Capito) could deny Trump a majority, unless he could swing at least one Democrat to his side.

That February afternoon in the Roosevelt Room, Donnelly thanked Trump for negotiating with Carrier, the manufacturing company based in Indiana that had threatened to move jobs to Mexico before Trump arm-twisted it into keeping many of them in Indiana. But Donnelly urged him not to view that episode as a “one-off.” He requested the president’s support for his End Outsourcing Act, which would give preferential treatment in awarding federal contracts to businesses that kept jobs in America.

The words were scarcely out of Donnelly’s mouth before Trump said, “I’m 100 percent for that, and I’ll do everything I can to help get it passed.” He then asked Pence, who was in the room, “What do you think, Mike?” Trump was apparently unaware that Pence, as the governor of Donnelly’s state, had refused to back the senator’s initiative, claiming instead that burdensome federal regulations were to blame for outsourcing. According to Donnelly, Pence gamely replied, “If it’s like what Joe describes, I’ll do everything I can to help.”

Donnelly, a thick-handed Irish Catholic with a barroom guffaw, had met Trump once before. In January 2011, he was among the so-called Blue Dog Coalition, composed of conservative House Democrats — what remained of them, anyway, after the previous November’s disastrous midterms — who traveled to New York for their annual retreat. At a hotel conference room in Midtown Manhattan, the 20 or so Blue Dogs received a procession of guests, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former President Bill Clinton. Only one of their scheduled appointments required that they go to their guest — and so they did, by bus, to Trump Tower.

Trump greeted them in his boardroom, with its commanding view of Central Park. He was charming but also brash. “Remember, at that point he wasn’t really talking about running for office,” recalls one attendee, former Representative Dan Boren of Oklahoma. “But what strikes me was how he talked about the same issues — the wall, China — that became his stump speech years later.”

It was evident to the Blue Dogs that Trump was no Clinton or Bloomberg when it came to the issues. Says former Representative Ben Chandler of Kentucky, who was also in attendance: “The difference in terms of detailed knowledge of policy was stark. Trump just made bald assertions, really.” Particularly memorable to Chandler was Trump’s insistence “that one of the best things the country could do was slap a massive tariff on the Chinese.” Chandler continued: “He seemed not to understand that this would probably cause the entire world economy to melt down by causing a huge trade war. What I remember more than anything else was our general reaction afterward. And it was one of disbelief.”

Today Donnelly remains offended by what he calls Trump’s “crazy stuff,” as well as the alternative to Obamacare that Trump supported. But he does not begrudge Trump his showmanship. “He came to the Carrier plant,” Donnelly said. “I’ve been working on that issue since Day 1. I was begging people in the Obama administration to come out and talk to our workers. Donald Trump came out there. And Donald Trump talked to our workers. You can tell people you care. But it matters if you show up.”

The Senate Democrat who, to outward appearances, seems closest to Trump is Joe Manchin, who met face to face with the president-elect in Trump Tower in December. Before the meeting, Bannon took the West Virginia senator aside. “The thing you need to know about Trump,” Bannon said, “is he doesn’t care about the Republican Party and he doesn’t care about the Democratic Party. He just wants to put some wins on the board for the country.” In the meeting, Trump asked Manchin what could be done for coal miners. Manchin replied that he should support his Miners Protection Act, which would secure health benefits and pension funds for retired miners. According to Manchin, Trump replied that he would thoroughly support such a measure.

Later that month, Manchin went on “Morning Joe” — the one show on MSNBC that Trump has been known to watch — to discuss, on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the Newtown school massacre, the need to expand background checks on gun purchases. Within an hour after Manchin was offscreen, his cellphone rang. It was Trump. Manchin was not completely forthcoming about the conversation, but he did tell me that he envisioned “a complete opportunity” for new gun-safety legislation. Unlike with Obama, he said, “no one thinks President Trump would do anything that would take away your gun rights.”

In his conversations with Manchin and Donnelly, Trump was essentially throwing his support behind a Democratic initiative without first checking with the Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to ask what he thought of those proposals. Had he done so, the answer in each case would have been: not much. (Though on the coal miners’ legislation, Manchin said: “We’re seeing Mitch McConnell go from a ‘No, no and hell no’ to now dropping his own bill. Which is fine, so long as we get it.”) Still, Trump may have little choice but to indulge Democrats on some of their pet issues, given that he will need their votes on two of the most critical pieces of his agenda: infrastructure and trade deals.

Until now, Trump has divulged few details about this trillion-dollar infrastructure venture. On the campaign trail, he frequently cited America’s crumbling roads and bridges. He bemoaned the potholes defiling the runways at La Guardia Airport, where he parked his two planes. During Donnelly’s visit with Trump in the Roosevelt Room, the president “talked about the Queens-Midtown Tunnel with the tiles falling off, which he would see on his way to La Guardia,” Donnelly recalled. (The Metropolitan Transportation Authority denies that tiles are falling off the tunnel.)

When I asked Trump for more specifics, he gingerly offered a few morsels: “This is something that’s going to be a real infrastructure bill, where real work is going to be done on bridges and roads and airports and things that we’re supposed to be doing. So it’s not just a political piece of paper. We’re going to do infrastructure, and it’s going to be a very big thing.”

Trump’s description struck me as uncharacteristically modest. Bannon had evoked a more gleaming vision when he told me: “Look, economic nationalism is predicated on a state-of-the-art infrastructure for the country, right? Broadband as good as Korea. Airports as good as China. Roads as good as Germany. A rail system as good as France. If you’re going to be a world-class power, you’ve got to have a world-class infrastructure.”

When I asked the president if his initiative might include such features, he replied: “Yes. It could, it could. You look at Japan and China, where they have the fast trains, and we don’t have any. You look at other countries where we used to be the leader, and now we’re the laggard. It’s not going to happen anymore.”

What also may not happen is House Republicans’ supporting a trillion-dollar bill that is at least somewhat reminiscent of the stimulus bill they unanimously opposed eight years ago. It’s also possible that even moderate Democrats in swing states may face pressure not to come to Trump’s rescue. After all, the president remains intensely unpopular among Democrats, who continue to nurture hopes that Trump is one Russia connection away from impeachment. As a senior White House official told me of Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court: “The comment we often get from Democrats is, ‘That’s a great nominee.’ Oh, so you’re voting for him? ‘I can’t.’ Why not? ‘My base would go crazy, and I’d be primaried.’ That environment has to change before we can have any of these conversations.”

On the morning of Feb. 2, two Democratic leaders on trade issues, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts — the ranking members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees — met with Trump, along with a few of his advisers and Republican lawmakers. Trump had already greeted the day by threatening to yank federal funding from the University of California at Berkeley after acts of violence had forced the cancellation of the Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos’s speech on campus, and by taunting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s poor ratings on “The Apprentice” during the National Prayer Breakfast. Disquiet lingered from Trump’s travel ban on refugees and his surly phone conversation with the Australian prime minister the previous week. Amid this chaos — entirely to Bannon’s liking and grating to nearly everyone else in Washington — actual legislative activity was slowly unfolding.

Trump began the meeting by condemning the trade deals negotiated by his predecessors. The press pool was then ushered out before the Democrats could say anything in front of the cameras. When Neal was given a chance to speak, he informed Trump, Pence, Bannon, Kushner and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that America had in fact prospered as a result of past trade deals. Neal emphasized the crucial role that the Panama Canal played in the economic vitality of the Eastern Seaboard. Other than Ross, no one on Trump’s team seemed aware of this. “They were a bit surprised,” Neal later told me. He was also struck by the White House’s abhorrence of multilateral pacts, which seemed to him to be naïve. “The idea that you’re going to negotiate 148 bilateral agreements with W.T.O. members does not seem realistic,” Neal said. “The idea that we’re all of a sudden going to have a free-trade agreement with Great Britain, that’s going to take years to do.” Later, Neal said, Ross privately assured him that the Trump administration “would not give up on multilateral deals.”

Neal’s lecture signified the start of what is likely to be a long and at times contentious reckoning on the part of Trump and Bannon with the limits of their nationalist rhetoric. Of all the legislative lifts, none will be heavier than renegotiating trade agreements, which require fully two-thirds of the Senate. Scrounging up 15 Democratic senators who are willing to vote along with 52 Republicans would be a formidable enough task on any issue. But just as Democrats like Neal in the Northeast would fight for a trade deal that benefits their region, so will Republican lawmakers along the Southern border rebel at an effort to repeal Nafta. As McCain told me, “If you negated Nafta, it would send my state into a severe recession.” He assured me that Trump’s nationalist posture would not provoke only regional opposition. He conjured up another Republican era — not Reagan’s, not Bush’s, but instead that of Herbert Hoover, when two Republican lawmakers joined with a Republican president to design a protectionist initiative that ultimately caused American exports to plummet during the Great Depression. “Somewhere,” McCain said with a dark chuckle, “Mr. Smoot and Mr. Hawley are smiling.”

On Thursday, March 23, Trump hosted a morning meeting of Freedom Caucus holdouts in the Cabinet Room. Jeff Duncan, a congressman from South Carolina who was present, told me that Trump told them: “I need you guys. We need to put up a win. It’s not just about needing to repeal Obamacare — though we do. It’s also that a win here sets up a win for tax reform and gives us momentum going into infrastructure. And if the bill fails, it could derail all of that.”

With customary bravado, Trump told the conservative members that he didn’t want to squeak by with just a one-vote victory. “I want all 237 of you,” he said, according to Duncan, referring to the entire House Republican conference. That included the more moderate members, who had told Trump they felt that the White House wasn’t paying sufficient attention to their concerns. Later in the day, Trump hosted another meeting with the moderates, where Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania informed Trump that he remained a “no.” According to an attendee, Trump angrily informed Dent that he was “destroying the Republican Party” and “was going to take down tax reform — and I’m going to blame you.”

Until that day, Duncan had been an unyielding “no” on the bill. The previous week, he delivered an impassioned speech to the vice president and other Republicans, insisting that this vote constituted “our generation’s rendezvous with destiny — a real chance to roll back the size and scope of the federal government, returning some liberty back to the people through our actions to repeal Obamacare.” In a text to me, Duncan pointed to history: “39 men in a hot room in 1787 had the courage to break from the norm and empower a nation.”

But now the four-term congressman was, for the first time in his life, sitting across the table from a president who was personally appealing for his support. The White House was offering concessions and agreeing to them in writing. Duncan left the meeting and spent a few hours pondering, as he would later put it, “the greater opportunity we as Republicans have.” By that evening, Trump had won Jeff Duncan’s vote.

It wasn’t enough. The next afternoon, Ryan pulled the House health care bill, conceding that neither he nor the White House could muster enough votes.

“You get about nine months to do the big things,” Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, told me at the beginning of the year. Nine months seemed like a long time then, the calendar spacious and the legislative deal-making possibilities plentiful. But more than two of those months are gone already — and the path to future wins, as Trump foresaw in his meeting with the Freedom Caucus, is now more complicated. When he took office, Trump relished the prospect of becoming a new kind of deal maker in the White House. By the time I spoke with him in early March, however, he already seemed to be taking stock of the limits to his powers. He still saw himself as the closer in chief — but then that was “typical, I would think, of a president,” he mused. “Some more than others.”

Robert Draper is a writer at large for the magazine. He last wrote about the almost seven year battle by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on The Rise and Fall of President Trump

The Role of Ivanka Trump in the New US Presidential Administration

22 March 2017 London

FBI and NSA chiefs give Trump his worst day yet Premium Clash with intelligence community heads for point of no return.

Virtually every day since Donald Trump took office has yielded a “could not make this up” moment. But Monday’s Congressional hearings — and Mr Trump’s live tweeting on the proceedings — may have killed fiction stone dead. The heads of the FBI and the NSA all but testified that the US commander-in-chief has been plucking conspiracy theories from thin air. As James Comey and Mike Rogers were speaking, Mr Trump was busy discovering things they did not say.

“The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence the electoral process,” Mr Trump tweeted. This came out moments after Mr Comey confirmed that the FBI was investigating collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. By any measure — and it is a steep yardstick — it was the worst day so far for Mr Trump.

In a juxtaposition without precedent in American history, two of the administration’s most senior officials directly contradicted the sitting US president over an inquiry that could lead to criminal indictments of his campaign team. Even if the FBI investigation came to naught, their testimony has fatally undermined Mr Trump’s authority. When asked whether he agreed with the British government’s dismissal of Mr Trump’s allegation that it had spied on him as “nonsense” and “ridiculous”, Admiral Rogers unhesitatingly agreed.

To underline: the head of America’s largest intelligence agency backed a foreign power’s scathing characterisation of his own president’s words. Not even Richard Nixon suffered such a direct contradiction. Where does this leave Mr Trump? First of all it guarantees that the Russia cloud will hang over the Trump administration at least until the various investigations are over — and only then, if they decline to prosecute.

They could take months and possibly years to wrap up. All the while, speculation is likely to be fuelled by more leaks, and more embarrassing testimonies. That is without Mr Trump adding new conspiracy theories into the mix. Second, Mr Trump is now fully committed to a false version of events that has been rebutted by the US intelligence agencies, the Republican heads of the congressional intelligence committees and virtually everyone else in a position to know.

Mr Trump has had multiple chances to walk away from his outlandish tweets claiming Barack Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower. Instead, he has embroiled the governments of two of America’s closest allies, the UK and Germany, in a fabulous tale rather than admit he made a mistake.

The big puzzle is why Mr Trump would wreak such large collateral damage on US alliances and on his administration’s standing over a few casual tweets he could have disowned. The definitive answer may take a long time to emerge. It might be because Mr Trump is trying to divert attention from the fact that his campaign did actively collude with the Kremlin to influence the US election.

Such a discovery would be bigger than Watergate and could result in his impeachment and removal from office. Equally, it could be because Mr Trump is psychologically unable to admit making an error even to the extent of sacrificing his administration’s credibility. The latter would be trivial by comparison. It is also consistent with what we already know.

After Monday, we also know this: two months after taking office, Mr Trump has implicitly been branded a fantasist by the heads of America’s largest law enforcement agency and its largest intelligence agency. Yet he shows no signs of changing his tactics. It is surely a matter of time before relations between Mr Trump’s White House and the intelligence community pass the point of no return.

COMMENTS by Robert S. Stewart rss1@interopag.com

Ivanka is being groomed to be the first woman President. It’s the next step of the Trump dynasty. She’s being set up to be the fall of Don. She is his exit strategy.Obama’s failure was that he had no back-up strategy, succession or dynasty in place. The only person he could find was his worst previous enemy while vying for the Democratic nomination. Trump is feathering the nest with many family members both inside and outside the White House.  She has every right to stand for president. All she has to do get some sort of legal degree or other qualification showing the ability to add two and two, find a party who will support her, get elected to some state positions, maybe work her way up to running for governor, serve some time to see how the apparatus of government actually works, serve a term or two, and then go through the selection procedure, into the primaries, and off.

If you only knew how much Daddy loves Ivanka, you’d understand that she is the only person who can give him unbriddled criticism if she screws up. Therefore, even more than her husband, she gets unrivalled access to the Oval Office, her own office, staff, and effectively beomes the First Lady. She is a very tough, strong-willed and opinionated lady whom he trained better than himself for the position. She can run a small clothing line, smile into the cameras and take heavy questioning. Much more than her father, she is cool-witted, not hot-tempered.

The Donald will likely tire of the position over the first four years, but will hold onto power for the sole goal of giving her maximum exposure, access to the critical functioning of the White House and Congress, and learn the ropes better than Hillary. Trump is creating ‘the Brand’. He will quickly reach his “sell-by” date given his horrific lack of experience in governance.

Ivanka understands the game. He will hand more and more decision-making over to her as her confidence rises and she exerts her strong will. Then he’ll go back to business with his sons thinking that he is a ‘statesman’ but realise all too late, that he flubbed that course. He might have better attended Trump University. The sad part in all of this is that America continues to flounder, while the rest of Europe continues to search for some glue and energy to hold itself on a course of growth or development. Asia is not holding back and will quickly ecclipse the sloth and era of ‘entertainment’ which we in the Western world have sadly fallen into. Another Age of Mediocrity is upon us.

Her Manhatten apartment is up for sale and she has bought a mansion in Washington DC, more elegant than the White House, and especially private without the peering media. Her children will be schooled at the best places in the Capitol and she will be ready, steady and set to go in 4 or 8 years. This effectively knocks Chelsea out of the play and there are no further Bushes seeking power. Melania minds the home nest in Trump Tower and stays out of the limelight.

Ivanka Trump will be getting an office in the West Wing, security clearance and official communications devices. She will also continue to advise the president and broaden her portfolio as the everyday need arises. Despite this, the Trump team is insisting that she’ll play no official role and have no official title as anti-nepotism laws prevent the hiring of family members as White House employees. That makes it pretty clear what her role is. Every US President in recent times has had an extremely effective muse (as in his wife) sharing the official duties and participating in official decisions. It is a lonely office in which one never knows who one’s friends and confidantes are.

Thus Ivanka will have unparalleled access to Dad during the day and both will be exceptionally careful not to use any devices capable of being overheard in the evening. Hence, her office in the West Wing, essentially a few feet away from the Oval Office by day and a quick limo trip will connect their homes after hours. No Cabinet Minister, Security Adviser, even the Vice President, comes close to that. And given his wife will spend most of her time in New York overseeing The Baron’s education, expect that Ivanka will become effectively No. 2 in stealth command of America and unofficial ‘batter on deck’ in baseball parlance.

What most of the media missed in the recent US Presidential election was the role of women in electing Donald Trump. Ivanka plays a huge role in helping Dad to win. In the second meeting with a Head of State, Ivanka impressed upon Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, the role of the Presidency in insuring increased respect for and promotion of women in the high ranks of both business and governance. Women in the Western world have been shunning the liberal feminist dogma for decades.

Ivanka represents part of the American revolution which supports its European counterpart in promoting women’s roles in society. A British Prime Minister, several other European Presidents may soon be supported by a French woman President while her German counterpart tries to hold on for dear life. On both sides of the political debate, women are increasing their roles in society for the good. Ivanka wil play out her biggest role in life as a candidtae for the future Presidency of the US. For an indepth article on how this is playing out, read the “Foreign Policy” article below.

The Other Women’s Movement

 

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on The Role of Ivanka Trump in the New US Presidential Administration

The Commonwealth bonds will provide trade progress: Britain needs to strike more bilateral deals with its best prospects

Comment by Robert S. Stewart 10 March 2017

Britain should focus on three trade groupings:

1.) North America (Canada and the USA);

2.) Other important members of the Commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand, India); and

3.) The Middle East.

Let the rest continue as before, but emphasis on these blocs gives the UK enough to swallow for decades to come. Owning the important assets of resources in Canada, Australia and servicing the Middle East will bring home the bacon.

Britain needs to negotiate the best deal it can get with the single market, like the Swiss and other non-EU members. UK goods and services compete mainly with this market so I doubt you are going to lose much here.

Your real market is selling goods and services to America, purchasing raw materials from Canada and the óther Commonwealth providers, and then filling their cups with more of your value-added goods and services. Even if you just stick to the English-speaking world you will be better off than competing with the Continent in the same and similar products.

I somewhat disagree with the following article in that I think the Commonwealth is your preferred trading partner. It doesn’t mean going back to the pith helmet days. It means recognizing that +1 billion people from the Commonwealth are ready to step into a middle class lifestyle and are willing to buy it in a language and from a culture they prefer and understand.

Herein lies your greatest strength. You placed a powerful stamp on the world 200 years ago. Now reel in what benefits still exist in bringing the rest of them up to your standards. They have discovered already that neither China nor other trading partners reflect many of their ingrained values taught to them so assiduously by the British. They haven’t forgotten you.

Rather, it was the other way around when the Winds of Change blew in the wrong direction. Part of your political mission would be to help bring greater democracy, transparency and reduce corruption plaging the worst of those places. If you did away with this latter deadly disease, worse than any virus or pandemic disorder, you would reap multiple benefits for centuries to come. This is the greatest underlying roadblock to progress across most of the world. It would assuredly make Britain Great again as the rest of the world careens wildly in the other direction..

Having negotiated dozens of trade agreements with as many countries worldwide, I continue to believe that if the English-speaking world huddles together (which includes unfettered bilateral access to America), bringing the +1 billion population from the Commonwealth and America into the Middle Class will provide a century of positive trade all round.

One first has to deal with corruption and mismanagement in Africa and others at the bottom of the heap, but if that is helped by Britain, Canada and others, you’ll have enough on your platter for a very long time, and you’ll always come out ahead in the rankings of “The World’s Greatest countries”.

Already, Canada and Britain are 2 of the 3 leading countries of the world. Join hands with the Swiss in dealing with the EU, and you’ve nailed the top three countries. Add Australia and then start adding other Commnwealth partners one-by-one. That would be a legacy and future that few could compare or master better than Britain.

The bonds of history, language and political institutions shared by Commonwealth members offer an opportunity for a post-Brexit UK trade policy. However, in the week that trade ministers from the bloc meet in London, Britain should be wary of putting all its eggs in that basket.

The last time the Commonwealth had a common trade policy was before the establishment of the Bretton Woods institutions, especially the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which came into effect in 1948. At Bretton Woods the US set about destroying Britain’s system of “imperial preference”, which GATT successfully unwound. Imperial preferences were structured to benefit the UK at the expense of both its colonies and non-members. The collapse of the system fuelled the era of open multilateral trade.

In the 44 years since the UK joined the EU, the world and indeed the Commonwealth have changed markedly. Finding areas of common interest in free-trade agreements between highly developed large economies such as the UK, Canada and Australia, densely populated big countries such as India, chronic underperforming economies such as South Africa and Pakistan, and micro states in the Pacific, is an almost insuperable challenge.

Many members of the Commonwealth have demonstrated only weak support for multilateral trade liberalisation in the World Trade Organization and even less appetite for higher levels of liberalisation under bilateral and plurilateral FTAs. Indeed, many members are highly protectionist with respect to trade abroad and interventionist in their own domestic economic affairs.

Across the Commonwealth new patterns of economic integration between Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries have been forged in response to market opportunities reflecting comparative advantage or by various networks of FTAs.

These countries have also integrated their trade via regional value chains, notably in Southeast Asia and Africa. Where this has occurred, members of the Commonwealth would be unwilling to disrupt these by discriminating against non-Commonwealth supply-chain partners.

The UK must set its priorities carefully after Brexit. As Liam Fox, international trade secretary, is about to discover, any trade negotiation is hugely resource-intensive. Not only will the UK for the foreseeable future lack the negotiating resources to do more than a few bilateral trade agreements at any one time, many Commonwealth members would be unable to marshal sufficient capacity to participate in a Commonwealth-wide negotiation.

Pursuit of such a deal would be a distraction from achieving agreements with, for starters, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Canada is a prospective partner too, though it is still in the process of digesting its Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the EU.

But the UK also needs to look outside the Commonwealth to big markets such as Japan, South Korea and even China. Each of these has recently negotiated its own bilateral trade agreements with third parties. A more challenging, but potentially richly rewarding, FTA would, of course, be with the US. Britain should not neglect these non-Commonwealth opportunities.

Back to the future with the Commonwealth is definitely not the way forward. The UK should encourage members to commit more fully to multilateral liberalisation in the WTO. A strong WTO is good not only for the world economy, but also for creating favourable conditions that will work to the UK’s advantage.

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on The Commonwealth bonds will provide trade progress: Britain needs to strike more bilateral deals with its best prospects

The Decline of the West, and How to Stop It

nyt logo

10th October 2016

For most of the last 70 years, the United States, Canada and much of Europe have constituted a vast zone of peace, prosperity and democracy. The trans-Atlantic community has grown to over 900 million inhabitants of more than 30 countries. It has set an example for regional cooperation in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, and served as a mainstay of the liberal world order.

That achievement is in jeopardy. The bonds within Europe have been fraying for some time, but this year has been the worst yet. Last month, Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Union’s highest official, said that the union faced “an existential crisis.”

Meanwhile, America’s two major parties have soured on trade agreements with Europe and Asia. Donald J. Trump has welcomed Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, derided American allies and hailed an authoritarian leader, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who fears and tries to undermine Western solidarity.

Given these pressures, the year ahead may determine whether the West can overcome its current troubles. A vital lesson of the modern era is that internationalism has stabilized the world, while lapses into bellicose nationalism have wreaked havoc.

The aftermath of World War I was a series of follies and failures: the Carthaginian peace of Versailles, the ineptitude of the League of Nations, the Great Depression and the emergence of totalitarianism. Together, they made a second conflagration all but inevitable.

The victors of World War II determined not to repeat the mistakes of their predecessors. They found in the history of Western civilization the precepts for a community of nations buttressed not only by shared values, interests and institutions, but also by the world’s most powerful military alliance.

They had much to draw on: Pericles’ ideal polity (“not the few but the many govern”), the Hanseatic League (a trade and defense pact in the Middle Ages), the Age of Reason, Adam Smith’s advocacy of open markets and the division of labor to enhance the wealth of nations, and Immanuel Kant’s conviction that “perpetual peace” depended on democratic nations’ conducting vigorous commerce.

The first step toward a united Europe was a common market for coal and steel. France and Germany, enemies in both world wars, became partners in peacetime industry and trade. The architects of the European Project, subscribing to a binding ethos of Atlanticism, were inspired by America’s success in molding the newly independent states from the original 13 colonies into “a more perfect union.” Europe’s progress in that direction would never have been possible without the Marshall Plan, which jump-started the Continent’s postwar economic recovery and ensured 42 years of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as a shield against the Soviet Union.

The collapse of that faltering superpower in 1991 spurred the evolution of the European Economic Community into the European Union. NATO’s decision to accept new members that had been Soviet satellites and republics made it possible for the European Union to do the same.

Throughout, the byword was integration: a steady process of harmonizing the policies of individual nation-states into common European ones, making collaboration easier and interdependence beneficial for all.

In the 1970s, before the term became pejorative, “Eurocrats” in Brussels took pride in being at the vanguard of a worldwide trend for which they popularized a little-used word: globalization. By most accounts, the opening of markets significantly narrowed the inequality between rich and poor regions of the world, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, especially in Asia. The downside of globalization in developed regions, especially in North America and Europe — depressed wages and jobs at risk in industries exposed to foreign competition — seemed manageable as long as the world economy was humming.

Through the 1990s, for the most part, economies continued to grow, median incomes climbed, jobs were plentiful and markets signaled a bright future. In 2007, the Dow Jones industrial average soared to a record high. A year later, the euro reached its maximum value against the dollar. But within a few months, America’s banking and housing sectors had crashed, prompting the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. Close to nine million Americans lost their jobs and a similar number of homeowners were forced into foreclosures, surrenders of their homes or distress sales. The decline in national wealth hit the poor and middle class hardest.

The Great Recession was worse for Europe. Trade with the rest of the world slumped and employment shrank, especially along the Mediterranean rim. The economic crisis exposed and exacerbated structural flaws in the European Union itself. Even in the good times, there had been tensions between debtor and creditor member states. The common currency, the euro, imposed a common monetary policy and a fixed exchange rate, but without fiscal integration among countries. That defect has hobbled Europe’s response to the sovereign debt crises and caused precipitous drops in employment.

The last year has seen one catastrophe after another. A rash of terrorist attacks has heightened security concerns; Britain’s decision to leave the union has raised fears of a contagion of other “exits”; and an influx of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and North Africa has placed burdens on labor markets, stressed social services and inflamed public anxieties.

The election campaign in the United States has revealed a similar malaise. Many Americans, especially in rural and blue-collar areas, are pessimistic about the future and nostalgic for a seemingly better past. As in Europe, there is widespread mistrust of elites and experts, and feverish enthusiasm for anti-establishment populists.

With this backlash comes the threat of protectionism in economics, isolationism in foreign policy, and a resurgent nativism and xenophobia in politics — precisely the toxic mix that the North American and European visionaries of Atlanticism sought to prevent when they laid its foundations.

Fortunately, stewards of that legacy remain in power in most Western capitals. And many citizens of European Union countries, especially the younger generations, tend to identify as Europeans, whatever their nationality. Despite Brexit, this is still true of many Britons.

That still leaves Europe’s elected officials with an onerous task. They must convince majorities of their citizens that 27 member states can better protect them within the European Union than without it.

To do so, the union’s institutions need to streamline decision-making while improving cooperation. In particular, they must prove effective in thwarting terrorists, whether they are infiltrators from the Middle East or homegrown. The attacks perpetrated this year by European citizens underscore the need for a long-term strategy to tackle alienation and radicalization within Europe’s Muslim communities.

That talismanic Euro-word, integration, finds new relevance: Instead of segregating migrants and asylum seekers in enclaves like those in inner-city Brussels or among the banlieues of Paris, several European municipalities are exploring ways to accelerate the process of assimilation by providing low-cost housing, education and job training.

Starting and funding such programs would be challenging under normal circumstances, but the difficulties are especially acute now, when virtually all Western European governments are on the defensive and several face daunting electoral challenges from nationalist opponents in the year ahead.

Mr. Putin has all too successfully stoked the sense of peril and fear of failure in the West. The Kremlin is backing insurgent euroskeptic parties, bullying Russia’s neighbors and trying to undo sanctions imposed after its illegal annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine. Against such subversion, the NATO alliance needs beefing up to help prevent Europe’s political disintegration — and this must be a major priority for any incoming United States administration.

The next president will have domestic challenges as well, given the gridlock between the executive and legislative branches, and an inward turn in the public mood. The current polarizing and dispiriting presidential campaign may also cast a pall over the future.

These handicaps make it even more important for Western governments to address their citizens’ legitimate concerns about the impact of globalization. They must work to cement a new political consensus that will restore public support for free and fair international trade.

Persuading the newly industrialized nations with export-based economies to adopt better labor practices and environmental policies, and to respect human rights, is not enough. There will have to be remedial action at home. Vulnerable workers in developed nations deserve better safety nets, as well as ambitious and effective retraining opportunities in growing sectors of economy.

Citizens’ sense that the system is unfair needs addressing, too. Big business is ripe for reform. Newcomers to the marketplace should have a better chance in markets that are now dominated by mega-monopolies. American-based corporations should not be able to exploit tax rules that allow them to shift profits to the lowest tax jurisdictions.

For globalization to be politically sustainable, it must be more economically equitable. Measures like these would begin to persuade a critical mass of people at global, regional and national levels that they, too, can share in a new wave of prosperity.

Restoring social progress on this scale will succeed only if it has buy-in from all segments of society. But the innovation and direction must come from the top. In enlisting their constituents’ support for a renewed commitment to Atlanticism, this generation of Western leaders faces the greatest and most consequential test in 70 years.

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on The Decline of the West, and How to Stop It

The Amsterdam City Swim for ALS Victims 2016 – Fund-Raising in the Muddy Amstel River

September 11th, 2016

acs-als-swim-2016

Amsterdam City Swim raising +$2.2 million to find a cure for ALS

The date sends a chill down global spines. That was the day in 2001 when a group of Saudi and Yemeni young men took the controls of three American commercial airliners filled with innocent passengers and flew two of them into the World Trade Centre in New York City, killing the passengers and thousands of people on the ground in New York and Washington.

I watched the television replays on an overhead television recording by CNN from a dentist’s chair in Switzerland where I was having a tooth crown fitted into my mouth without any anaesthetic. I could feel a lot of pain that day. Having known in advance that something like this had been planned by these terrorists from intelligence gathered on my telephone network in the Balkans War, made me shudder even more.

My company, Franklin Telecom Corporation of Westlake Village California, brought the world’s first VoIP technology into the commercial marketplace by providing the NATO troops with a low-cost, long distance telephone network, allowing the personnel in the armies and air forces of the NATO coalition to communicate with their loved ones back home.

The satellite network we built worldwide used a technology unknown to the rest of the world called “VoIP” or “Voice-Over-the Internet Protocol”. Satellites or Fiber Optic Cable transmitted long distance telephone calls and data over satellites or underground/ underwater cables rather than Scots/Canadian Alexander Graham Bell’s telephonic invention which used old copper wires.

Dutch, Canadian, Irish and a dozen other NATO troops  were testing a system whereby long distance phone calls cost pennies rather than many Euros, dollars or pounds per minute. It was virtually free after the cables and satellites were put up by the US Government.

From the thousands of calls made between these soldiers and their families back home, various intelligence agencies were listening to disturbing calls and hearing other communications between members of a group called El Qaeda and their partners planted around Europe and America, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The calls were carefully monitored and recorded by NATO headquarters in Brussels along with other members states national phone systems and culminated in thousands of pages of transcripts suggesting that a group of fanatics funded by a black sheep Saudi son of a local construction billionaire, Osama bin Laden, was planning to blow up the World Trade Center, the US Congress and the Pentagon.

General Wes Clark, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, a US four-star US Army General, had intercepted thousands of these calls around Europe and presented them to his Commander-in-Chief, US President Bill Clinton. He was thrown out of the Oval Office 13 times. Clinton had Monica Lewinsky on ihs mind (amongst other portions of his anatomy) and considered Clark to be a trouble-maker.

He eventually fired Clark before the end of his job running NATO, where he had successfully prosecuted Clinton’s NATO War against Slobodan Milosevic who had killed millions of ihs own people, Muslims in the former Yugoslav countries.

Clark told me the story in 1999,  two years before the events of September 11, 2001. When the tragedy occured, I got a simple SMS message on my cell phone in Europe:

“You see, I told you so. Wes.”

He ran for President of the USA a few years later, but lost out to the Democratic Party machinery that put other politicians ahead of him.  He had been a four star general, a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and earned a PhD in Physics at Westpoint. He also came from Arkansas (like Clinton), but that accounted for nothing with his President who had a White House  intern grinding his organ music and the US Congress about to impeach him for lying about it.

As I swam along the muddy Amstel River last weekend, my legs started to cramp with the onslaught of what felt like another attack of ALS, not disimilar to one that struck me three years ago, paralyzing me from the waist down. The world was paralyzed from the waist down fifteen years ago on the same day, September 11th. No one listened to General Wes Clark and took advance warning that it would happen, even with ten thousand pages of recorded transcripts outlinging the plot.

No one appears to be focussed on the constant daily explosions rocking the world today that continue to occur as young protestors, terrorists and militants dressed in the Muslim faith pursue their murders against innocent victims around the world. The politicians who are more intent on making their fortunes via the public taxpayers, continue relentlesly pursuing their missions and forgetting that their populations remain unprotected.

The ACS Swim in the Amstel River every year (now five years running) is intended to find a cure for the deadly disease ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). The Swim turned out to be a big party for all 3,000 swimmmers and their fans and friends after the event. I met a dozen ALS victims and asked them what they were doing to cure themselves. They were all waiting for Big Pharma to find a drug solution. I told them all that I had found a natural solution:

  1. In the words of Dr. Stephen Hawking, a very famous Physicist with ALS from Cambridge University who has written extensively on the ‘Origins of the Universe’: “Don’t believe the Doctors”. They tell us there is no known cause of the disease, no cure and we’ll all be dead in a couple of years. He has survived with it for 50 years and still teaches at Cambridge.
  2. Massage your leg muscles (hands or throat – wherever the disease starts) from Day 1 of the start of the condition, even if you can’t feel them. Get extensive physiotherapy to keep your muscles alive even though the Doctors say they are dead.
  3. Learn to walk a different way if you lose touch with your feet. Walk with canes, sticks, swim as often as possible, do anything but keep moving. Try to re-connect your feet with your brain via a different set of nerves. I did. Six months later, I was walking again and I could feel all my muscles below the waist up to my toes.
  4. Have a strong desire to survive, live and find your own cure. My cure won’t work if you have a weak will. If the doctors convince you that you are going to die, then you will.
  5. Keep a strong support group around you: wife, family, friends, children, or fall in love with an old friend or someone new. Hawking lost his wife who ran off with another man, and fell in love with his nurse who kept him alive. His wife eventually came back to him when she saw he wasn’t about to give up and die as the doctors had suggested.
  6. Keep your brain, penis and as much of the rest of your body alive with daily exercise and functional activity.
  7. Never say die. If you believe the doctors, you and your muscles will die in the two years or less that they project for you. They are only interested in finding a purported drug just to keep you alive, but it will probably never cure you. If it cured you, you won’t need to buy any more of their medicine. It’ll keep you on life support and drain your finances, much like HIV/AIDS drugs did (anti-retrovirals) until their cost came down so low that millions could survive on low-cost generic drugs. Now, all 40 million people with HIV/AIDS will live a normal life into their 70’s or 80’s, as long as they might have done so without the disease.

It is suggested that ALS is a motor-neuron disease. But with no proof from any source as to its origins, ohw can anyone find a solution. I refuesed to agree with the medical profession that condemned me to an early death. My 98 year old mother said she didn;t want me to die before her (I was 65 when it struck me) so she said:

“Find a massage therapist. I saved more people as a nurse than all the doctors administering their drugs. They all died”.

I had a 75 year old Swiss milk-maid (my neighbour Ines from Saanen, Switzerland) cut down two sticks from the woods. She pushed me out of bed every morning after I lay there dying for several weeks, thoroughly depressed by what the doctors diagnosed. She said that she had never heard of the disease and refused to believe the quacks. I fell down for the first few days until I gradually built up a 100 metre walk.

Six months later, I fell in love again with a woman I had been in love with 33 years ago. She came to my rescue and tickled my toes back to life again.

pepe-gregoire-tickling-toes-sterke-band-sculpture

A statue in our garden by the famous Dutch sculpture, Pepe Gregoire signifies one cure for this disease. There will be many more discovered by patients, and not Big Pharma. Combining a psychosomatic routine with strong willpower (“never give up”) , with a physiological effort to keep the muscles alive (massage the so-called “dead muscles” you can’t feel – they are not “dead”, just “dormant”), overcame the so-called neurological disorder.

And most importantly: “Believe in your own ability to overcome this disease and find your own cure. Don’t believe the doctors.”

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on The Amsterdam City Swim for ALS Victims 2016 – Fund-Raising in the Muddy Amstel River

Britain’s ‘withered’ forces not fit to repel all-out attack

FT logo

September 16, 2016 9:58 pm

General Sir Richard Barrons, former head of the country’s Joint Forces Command, expressed extreme concern about Britain’s military capabilities

Britain’s armed forces cannot defend the UK against a serious military attack and have lost much of their ability to fight conventional wars, the recently retired head of the country’s Joint Forces Command has warned.

General Sir Richard Barrons, who stepped down in April as one of the country’s four service chiefs, has said a series of “profoundly difficult” strategic challenges are being sidestepped as Whitehall focuses on “skinning” budgets and delivering costly but increasingly redundant big-ticket military projects.

His 10-page, private memorandum to Michael Fallon, defence minister, is the most forthright criticism of defence policy from the UK’s senior military leadership to have emerged publicly in years. It came just months after the last spending review handed the Ministry of Defence a significant funding boost despite widespread cuts to other departments.

The general’s detailed analysis will raise grave concerns in Nato. Britain has long cast itself as a linchpin of the alliance’s European military power base, but the US has voiced doubts about its diminishing capabilities since the troubled campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Capability that is foundational to all major armed forces has been withered by design,” wrote Sir Richard. The MoD, he says, is working to “preserve the shop window” while critical technical and logistical capabilities have been “iteratively stripped out” behind it.

In the correspondence, a copy of which has been obtained by the Financial Times, Sir Richard states:

● There is no military plan to defend the UK in a conventional conflict. “Counter-terrorism is the limit of up-to-date plans and preparations to secure our airspace, waters and territory . . . There is no top-to-bottom command and control mechanism, preparation or training in place for the UK armed forces [to defend home territory] . . . let alone to do so with Nato.”● A Russian air campaign would quickly overwhelm Britain. “UK air defence now consists of the (working) Type 45 [destroyers], enough ground-based air defence to protect roughly Whitehall only, and RAF fast jets. Neither the UK homeland nor a deployed force — let alone both concurrently — could be protected from a concerted Russian air effort.”

● A Russian air campaign would quickly overwhelm Britain. “UK air defence now consists of the (working) Type 45 [destroyers], enough ground-based air defence to protect roughly Whitehall only, and RAF fast jets. Neither the UK homeland nor a deployed force — let alone both concurrently — could be protected from a concerted Russian air effort.”

● Navy ships and RAF planes are often deployed without adequate munitions or protections because they have grown used to depending on US forces to protect and support them. “Key capabilities such as radars, fire control systems and missile stocks are deficient.”

● The army is not equipped to fight a rival professional land force and is significantly outgunned by Russia. “The current army has grown used to operating from safe bases in the middle of its operating area, against opponents who do not manoeuvre at scale, have no protected mobility, no air defence, no substantial artillery, no electronic warfare capability, nor — especially — an air force or recourse to conventional ballistic or cruise missiles.”

● Small numbers of hugely expensive pieces of military equipment make the UK’s capabilities “extremely fragile”. It is unlikely the UK’s two new aircraft carriers, which cost £2bn each, will ever be sent within 300km of the Chinese coast, for example. “We operate platforms that we cannot afford to use fully, damage or lose — industry would take years to repair or produce more.”

● Manpower across all the forces is dangerously squeezed. “It is not necessary to shoot down all the UK’s Joint Strike Fighters, only to know how to murder in their beds the 40 or so people who can fly them.”

Sir Richard warned that the UK’s entire strategic thinking was underpinned by the assumption it could fight wars on a discretionary basis — a supposition he says has been completely upended by the increase in global instability over the past two years.

“There is a sense that modern conflict is ordained to be only as small and as short term as we want to afford — and that is absurd. The failure to come to terms with this will not matter at all if we are lucky in the way the world happens to turn out, but it could matter a very great deal if even a few of the risks now at large conspire against the UK.”

The Ministry of Defence said: “Our defence review last year put in place a plan for more ships, planes and troops at readiness, alongside greater spending on cyber and special forces. That plan was backed by a rising defence budget. And, crucially, it was backed by all of the service chiefs, who were heavily involved in putting it together.”

Across Nato, Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine has thrown defence planning into flux. While the UK’s armed forces are the best resourced in Europe, they are also among those struggling most to adapt themselves to the rapidly changing European security environment.

“We became used to using the military as a foreign policy tool, but in that lost any real sense of it as an insurance policy,” said a senior Whitehall official. “So far there is a lot of talk about deterrence across Nato but what really matters is whether it is credible, certainly as far as Russia is concerned.”

——————–

Shortfall 1: Artillery and tanks

AS-90 moving to it's firing during Exercise Steel Sabre. Exercise Steel Sabre: The aim of this huge Royal Artillery live firing exercise was to bring all the components of an effective Artillery group together to train in its core business: delivering firepower on the battlefield. This included soldiers from different nations and from the Regular and Reserve parts of the British Army employing artillery guns, rockets, mortars, radars and unmanned aerial vehicles on the Otterburn Ranges.

An AS-90 artillery piece during the training exercise Steel Sabre

Britain has cut back its armoured warfare capabilities significantly over the years. A Russian brigade contains two or three artillery battalions. A British brigade contains just one. The focus on fast, lighter vehicles also makes the UK vulnerable

——————–

For the past decade, Britain’s military posture has been conditioned by the Afghan and Iraqi deployments as well as by the reality of a dramatically shrinking budget. The most recent Strategic Defence and Security Review — which coincided with a generous spending commitment from the government and a wide-ranging review of defence priorities — has gone some way to addressing the challenges. But experts say it has not gone far enough.

“There is a capability gap across the services,” said Ben Barry, senior fellow for land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, adding that he strongly agreed with Sir Richard’s assessment. “With regard to Russia, the SDSR is schizophrenic. There is lots of language about being shoulder to shoulder with Nato allies, the value of deterrence and increased expenditure, but the threat analysis in it specifically rules out a direct threat to the UK — and I think that is wrong. It is not clear at all that the UK’s conventional capability is being rebuilt nearly enough.”

The British army, Mr Barry continued, had not practised armoured warfare properly since 2003. It was outgunned in comparison to Russia’s forces, in some areas significantly so. Each Russian brigade had either two or three artillery battalions within it, he noted; the UK’s had one.

——————–

Shortfall 2: Manpower

Personnel from Mercer's Troop, G Battery, 7 Parachute Regiment and the Royal Horse Artillery on Exercise Steel Sabre. Exercise Steel Sabre: The aim of this huge Royal Artillery live firing exercise was to bring all the components of an effective Artillery group together to train in its core business: delivering firepower on the battlefield. This included soldiers from different nations and from the Regular and Reserve parts of the British Army employing artillery guns, rockets, mortars, radars and unmanned aerial vehicles on the Otterburn Ranges.©MoD

Soldiers on patrol during Exercise Steel Sabre, designed to test artillery groups

All four services have seen dramatic reductions in manpower. This has curbed deployability and flexibility. But more critically, there are severe shortages of manpower in critical jobs, such as naval engineering, intelligence and medicine.

——————–

While Britain is committed to a comprehensive upgrade of its Warrior tanks, that programme has a low priority within the existing defence equipment plan. By comparison, Russia’s new Armata tanks outgun anything the UK or Nato can field, and have an active protection system that will reduce the effect of British anti-tank weapons by between 50 per cent and 90 per cent.

The other services are even more pressured.

“[In the air], the forces are being pushed in a way they have not been since the end of the cold war,” noted Justin Bronk, research fellow and combat air power specialist at the Royal United Services Institute. While the F35 Joint Strike Fighter, due to come into service soon for the RAF, was an exceptionally capable weapon, Mr Bronk said, the numbers purchased — at least initially — would limit its utility sharply because of pressures such as training, servicing and maintenance.

——————–

Shortfall 3: F35 fighters

Pictured is the first of the UK’s F-35B Lightning II jets to be flown to the UK. Accompanied by two United States Marine Corps F-35B aircraft from their training base at Beaufort, South Carolina. The F-35B Lightning II will place the UK at the forefront of fighter technology, giving the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy a true multi-role all weather, day and night capability, able to operate from well-established land bases, deployed locations or the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be known in UK service as the Lightning II. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor but the UK is the only Level 1 partner with the US. A number of British companies, including BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce will have significant industrial work-share in construction and development of the aircraft. The Lightning II will provide UK Defence with a 5th Generation (low observable, supersonic, enhanced data fusion), multi-role, all weather, day and night aircraft that will have the ability to operate from land bases as well as the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, the first of which is due to accept Lightning II onto her deck in 2018. This basing flexibility will give UK Defence a truly joint expeditionary Combat Air capability well into the 2030’s. The RAF is the lead service for the operation of Lightning II and, like the Harrier before, the Joint Lightning II Force will be manned by both RAF and RN personnel.©MoD

An F-35B Lightning II jet being flown to the UK

Britain’s new generation of fast jets are the most expensive — and capable — combat aircraft ever built for the UK. But with just 48 of them, the UK will only be able to operate six at a time and payloads are limited

——————–

The UK has committed to buying 48 of the jets, which will be able to launch from the Navy’s two aircraft carriers. “That essentially means that on a long-term sustainable basis you might be able to deploy six of them,” says Mr Bronk. “At a high tempo for a short duration, you might be able to deploy 12.”

The UK’s aerial surveillance assets are the most stretched, however. On any given day, just one or two of the British six-plane AWACS fleet can be used to provide long-range radar and command functions for British forces. The aircraft were so old that their capabilities were “substantially” below their French and US equivalents, said Mr Bronk. “That is certainly not going to give you a 24-hour presence . . . let alone the ability to field more than one at a time in two or more different theatres.”

——————–

Shortfall 4: Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance

A British military AWACS surveillance aircraft lands in at the Akrotiri British RAF airbase near Limassol on March 20, 2011. Britain bombarded Libya with missiles from air and sea as multinational forces launched military action, with Prime Minister David Cameron urging an end to Moamer Kadhafi's "appalling brutality". AFP PHOTO/ANDREAS LAZAROU (Photo credit should read ANDREAS LAZAROU/AFP/Getty Images)©AFP

A British military AWACS surveillance aircraft landing at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus

The UK’s fleet of 6 AWACS planes, which provide long-range radar coverage and act as command hubs for deployed forces, are very out of date. Only one or two can operate at any one time. The UK cannot even sustain 24-hour coverage over a theatre of operation with them.

——————–

The Royal Navy’s spate of new investments — from the Type 45 destroyers to the Queen Elizabeth carriers and the forthcoming Type-26 frigates — also belies significant operational constraints.

“The major capability gap that the Royal Navy faces is one of numbers,” said Lee Willett, editor of IHS Janes Navy International. “It is the simple need to have enough ships in all the places that the government requires them to be.”

While new high-tech ships would deliver a “major capability uplift in the short to medium term”, said Mr Willett, there may not be enough of them to combat or deter adversaries.

——————–

Shortfall 5: Type 45 destroyers

Pictured is Type 45 Destroyer HMS Diamond being loaded with Sea Viper missiles at HMNB Portsmouth. Staff from Defence Munitions Gosport which is part of Defence Equipment and Support are key to the successful loading of ammunition onto all Royal Navy vessels. They operate the cranes and supervise ships staff as well as providing manpower to load the missiles from ammunition barges to the jetty and then onto the receiving ships. Sea Viper is capable of defending the Type 45 and ships in its company against multiple attacks from the most sophisticated enemy aircraft or missiles approaching from any direction and at supersonic speeds. It can even engage more than ten targets simultaneously - a huge leap in capability for the Royal Navy.

HMS Diamond, a Type 45 destroyer. The UK’s six-strong fleet cost £6bn but cannot operate in continuously warm waters

With only six Type 45 destroyers the Royal Navy will struggle to protect UK waters and its carrier fleet. Each carrier needs at least two destroyers to protect it. The ships have also been bedevilled by technical glitches.

——————–

The six Type 45s, for example, must between them cope with aiding the defence of UK airspace and territorial waters, routine deployments to help allies such as escorting US carriers through the Gulf, escort of the UK’s own new carriers, low-tempo operations such as countering piracy, as well as potential high-tempo operations such as combat operations. The ships are already bedevilled by technical glitches that have curbed operations.

Other, less prominent elements of the navy have continued to suffer. Amphibious assault forces, for example, are being cut back. The number of Bay-class logistics ships has fallen from four to three, and there are no costed plans to replace the amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean.

——————–

Shortfall 6: Aircraft carriers

The aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth under construction at Rosyth Dockyard, Scotland with HMS Prince of Wales in the background. The Queen Elizabeth Class will be utilised by all three sectors of the UK Armed Forces and will provide eight acres of sovereign territory which can be deployed around the world. Both ships will be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from supporting war efforts to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.©MoD

The aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth under construction in Rosyth, Scotland

At £2bn each, the two carriers are the most expensive military platforms the UK fields. But there will not be enough F35 jets to fully kit them out for years. The big ships are also vulnerable to a host of emerging military technologies: China’s new hypersonic missiles could easily sink them.

——————–

According to Sir Richard, the challenge is not merely one of resources or money. More fundamentally, he wrote, the issue is one of strategic oversight and planning.

In the MoD and the security organs of Whitehall, he said, there was now “almost no capacity left to think and plan strategically or generate resources for the unforeseen . . . our own bureaucracy struggles to get its head above managing details and events”.

Comment by Robert S. Stewart CEO of AIC Inc., Interop A.G.

This article should have been titled: “The Boys with Noise have run out of Toys”. The military only protects the politicians, entrepreneurs, bureaucrats and monarchy of any country. Look at those protecting Washington, Moscow, Kigali, Bogota or Beijing. No one in those places considers protecting anyone other than themselves in power.

Modern central governments certainly aren’t protecting borders, looking after the hinterland or security for their populations. The 19th Century map of the world has also disappeared. Border guards now look for bribes to stay alive, not check passports if terrorists or refugees are crossing.

The Third World has already moved into your living rooms and next door. Check out the demographics of London, New York, Vancouver and 100 of the world’s largest urban centres.

Most land outside of capital cities, major financial and consumer centres, remote industrial operations, commercial forestry or farmland is empty wasteland. Take a look at Northern Canada, Mid-Western USA, Arctic Russia, the wastelands of China and Mongolia, the Sahara and Central Africa, and along the Andes Mountain chain. 90% of the world remains unpopulated.

Check out the oceans and ask “Whose sovereignty is it?” In reality, there is no “Law of the Sea”, sea-bed or otherwise. It is no-man’s-land. An atoll or an island dotted with sheep does not create a triangulated zone of ownership or responsibility.

While the present world is ruled by semi-alcoholic narcissists who couldn’t tell you how to build a corner grocery store, let alone run a modern mining or petroleum complex, automobile factory, nuclear power station, army or football team, their knowledge of the basic global economy runs out at the end of their paychecks, pensions, perks and palaver.

Former Generals who were once tank commanders turn into MD’s of Canine Societies, braying to the ladies in floppy hats parading around Olympia at Crufts. All that retired Chiefs of British Staff have left to do is notify the public that the former Empire is long over, exhausted and now part of the US NATO command. It is no more than a junior understudy that harbours a few weapons in their global arsenal that defends the capital with their upper-middle classes in case there is anything left to defend.

Inside the Washinton beltway and at various command headquarters in Virginia and around the world, the view is that Britain might come in handy to launch a surprise attack on a foe (as in another D-Day, Libyan attack or bomb the Dickins out of the former Yugoslavia) rather than worry too much about other parts of the depleted Empire where no natural resources continue to exist.

All the good Scots, Irish and Welsh already live in America and have their hands on the real weapons. The rest maintain Dad’s Army with a little theatrical skill in making movies about the good old days.

Whither Britain?

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on Britain’s ‘withered’ forces not fit to repel all-out attack