Previous Articles

  • Worth Reading June 14, 2022 June 13, 2022 by W. David Montgomery - Climate and Energy Policy WDM is convinced that world oil prices would still be down around $75 per barrel if Biden had not stifled US production and transportation of oil and gas in an excess of zeal about climate change. Rather than repeating that analysis, he recommends some good reading about climate policy that has appeared recently. A senior banking executive has put his career on the line by revealing that the only "climate risks" that investors need worry about are badly designed government policies and regulations. He is reported as stating "To put it bluntly, absent making guesses about some unexpectedly dramatic new move by government regulators or their proxies, there is, within the typical investment horizon, little or nothing to price in." For this observation, he was suspended by his employer HSBC. WDM thinks that Ted Nordhaus is only about 80% correct in his assessment of how Russia's war against Ukraine will affect climate policy, but his is nonetheless a very sane perspective. Biden's invocation of the Defense Production Act strikes terror into WDM, it is the basic fascist way of running an economy. First causing a shortage of infant formula then using government powers to order fixes…
  • Worth Reading May 30, 2022 May 30, 2022 by webadminpcw - MPD recommends an article by Eliot Cohen in Foreign Affairs, “The Return of Statecraft.” Cohen advises that the US should be less focused on grand strategy, the topic of many "learned" articles, and pay more attention to statecraft, i.e., to effectiveness and agility in pursuing our interests.  Cohen is not a committed “realist” in that he recognizes both national and moral interests: his lament is how bad a job the foreign policy establishment is doing at pursuing either. In the May 11 edition of Foreign Affairs, MPD recommends Bilahari Kausikan's article entitled "Threading the Needle in Southeast Asia" which is a fine guide for the  Biden Administration. Two quotes: "Aggressive Chinese behavior in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific has underscored the reality that the United States is an irreplaceable element of any strategic balance in the wider region.  The United States' indispensablity renders concerns about its reliability moot." "Early actions (by the US) in the face of...Chinese maritime claims and attempts at intimidation, provided reassurance that the Biden Administration would not repeat Obama's fundamental mistake of believing that eloquent speeches could substitute for the exercise of military muscle."   He also finds that Mike Ickel’s analysis…
  • Every Day In Every Way — Things Are Getting Worse May 30, 2022 by W. David Montgomery - W. David Montgomery It seems that every week we can expect news of an event worse than in the week before, and this has been going on for months.  Just starting a list with the invasion of Ukraine and the revelations of Russian atrocities, we have been subjected to a cascade of bad policy decisions, undermining of essential institutions, lies upon lies from politicians, and more atrocities. Every time I have started on an article an other disaster has displaced the topic from my mind, so to get going again I simply record my thoughts about all of them. The War in Ukraine: None of us at the Chesapeake Observer has felt ready to write more about the war in Ukraine.  We have expressed ourselves on Biden’s failure of deterrence that let Russia think it could get away with the invasion, and the U.S. continuing failure to provide sufficient military support to defeat Russia without fighting to the last Ukrainian.  Since so much has been written by others we have little to add — though we do recommend some articles appearing in places that others might not follow as we do. The Roe v. Wade Draft Decision Leak: Much the same could be…
  • Worth Reading April 12, 2022 April 12, 2022 by webadminpcw - Matt Taibbi strongly disagrees with MPD this long article.  WDM agrees with MPD and almost all the opinions that Taibbi savages.  He recommends the article because it states the contrary view well, and is ironically useful because it provides a comprehensive list of arguments in favor of military intervention to support Ukraine. The son of a friend and Talbot County resident is in Ukraine and writes with authority about the war.  He earlier made the same suggestion as MPD, that like the Flying Tigers American volunteer pilots could provide the air superiority that Ukraine needs.  Ackerman appears regularly in Time magazine online. MPD observes that David Asher makes some excellent points on financial sanctions that he has not seen elsewhere. JDQB recommends this editorial in which Ross Douthat asks Can Liberalism Thrive Without a Wolf at the Door?  Douthat argues that as long as the American form of liberalism is resolutely secular, it will never establish solidarity and purpose. WDM thinks that JDQB has a rival here for invective. It is a comprehensive jeremiad on the Biden year. He also thinks that this tribute to Bruce Willis describes the motivation for entering political life that is needed at every level of government.
  • US War Aims in Ukraine April 12, 2022 by Matthew Daley - By Matthew P. Daley From the outset, there has been considerable ambiguity surrounding the war aims of the Biden Administration.  The US intelligence assessment of the impending decision by Putin to invade Ukraine was spot on, and US intelligence surprised Moscow by revealing ahead of time the various pretexts it would deploy to justify a “special military operation.”   The Administration’s first response to its knowledge of Putin's plans took the form of reassuring Moscow and nervous NATO capitals of what we would NOT do, i.e., involve US forces in a direct confrontation with Russian forces in Ukraine.  This was an ill-judged part of the otherwise useful and laudable goal of “uniting” NATO, albeit at its lowest common denominator. Nonetheless, NATO was sufficiently united to provide basic anti-aircraft and anti-armor systems to Ukraine. Doubtless these systems played an important, perhaps even a critical role, in stymieing the Russian effort to seize Kyiv.   Behind the scenes the US offered Zelensky a flight to freedom which he honorably declined and even after initial Ukrainian successes on the battlefield, the US reportedly pushed concessions upon Ukraine to secure a negotiated outcome which would have diminished its territorial integrity.  The people and military of Ukraine persisted and have succeeded…
  • Thinking About Things: The Tragedy of Ukraine and the Incompetence of American Strategy and Leadership March 14, 2022 by John DeQ. Briggs - By John DeQ Briggs I come at the current horror of the Russian invasion of Ukraine with a previously existing and sharply critical point of view of Mr. Biden and his administration. See my articles in this publication of September 11, 2021 criticizing the President broadly and deeply for every aspect of his actions and inactions on Afghanistan and October 12, 2021 focusing on his similarity to blind Mr. Magoo, but without Mr. Magoo’s charm or amiability. My views on him have not much changed. I would grudgingly give Biden credit for mobilizing the western allies against Russia if I thought he deserved it, but frankly based on what I think I know, I give nearly all of that credit to President Zelenskyy of Ukraine, who has been the closest thing we have seen in this century to a Churchillian figure. A true leader. Listening to him and watching him makes we want to take up arms and go to Ukraine myself, notwithstanding the reality that “the West” bears much blame for its blind sleepwalking into cornering Russia and Putin in a variety of needless ways. A little bit on this nuanced, complex, and hotly debated issue towards the end…
  • The Biden Administration’s Ukraine Policy March 14, 2022 by Matthew Daley - By Matthew P. Daley Much ink has been spilt – deservedly – in reporting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the American response. Herewith are a few analytical and some critical observations. For the most part, the Biden Administration has been doing the right things: continuing to supply Ukraine, rallying international support, especially among the NATO members, conducting an information war which is without precedent and which has been successful in countering Russian misinformation and worse. The sanctions regime crafted by the Administration is also without precedent. The short term impact on Putin may be nil. The sanctions will not dissuade Russia from continuing military operations marked by violations of the laws of war and international humanitarian law. Nonetheless, they will extract a real price from Russia and the Russian people who, for the most part, seem unaware of what is being done by their government and who tend to support this “special military operation.” The conduct of diplomacy in advancing the Administation’s policies has been excellent. Putin has already suffered a major defeat by causing the scales to drop from many European eyes and more than a few American ones. NATO, and particularly Germany, have reassessed and broken…
  • Worth Reading March 15, 2022 March 14, 2022 by webadminpcw - Before we get to more serious links, WDM cannot resist some black humor. While Biden is touting his Green new deal to lower gasoline prices, some realism from California to remind us where electricity comes from. But AOC has a solution for the problem. WDM also cannot resist patriotic music, and Ukraine is winning that war for sure. This is the best subtitled version of a new song dedicated to the Turkish drone named "Bayraktar." A crowd sang this song in Turkey outside the meeting place of Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers. Best watched after seeing the subtitles. Now to the serious business. If you can tolerate the misery depicted on the Twitter account With_Ukraine, it provides a continuous feed of news from the Ukraine Defense Ministry and other trusted sources about events there. JDeQB recommends an article pointing out that "The Western World Is in Denial". He understands why democratic countries are reluctant to fight, but worries they don’t understand what will happen next. MPD observes that it is momentous that the Washington Post carries an OpEd stating "...for the West to become newly united and powerful, there is one essential condition: It must succeed in Ukraine. That is…
  • Sanctions, Oil Prices and Making Russia Pay March 14, 2022 by W. David Montgomery - By W. David Montgomery Although economic warfare has little prospect of saving Ukraine from Putin, it could be an important part of a longer-term strategic response. Unlike China with a diversified economy linked throughout the global economy, Russia has been described as “Upper Volta with a gas station (and nukes).” Energy is the source of 50% of Russia’s export revenues and the source of almost all of Russia’s dollar and Euro earnings. Reducing Russia’s oil and gas exports, or in the alternative driving down the price Russia receives for oil, would deprive Russia of these earnings and limit Putin’s ability to conduct wars of aggression. But nothing is that easy. The West faces several dilemmas in dealing with Russian energy exports: It is impossible to reduce Russian oil exports significantly without an export embargo that would closely resemble a blockade of shipping out of Russia, risking further escalation. A full embargo could raise oil prices above the peak they reached in early March, and those price spikes have already produced political backlash.Europe has let itself become dependent on Russian natural gas, and it will take at least several years before Europe can find alternative sources. Reducing Russian natural gas exports…
  • Invasion Ukraine Reveals Fault Lines in Conservative Foreign Policy February 27, 2022 by W. David Montgomery - W. David Montgomery In a recent issue I wrote about common good conservatism — more precisely, about the postliberal approach to religion and society.  I did that because I agree wholeheartedly with their thoughts on that topic.  The Russian invasion of Ukraine brought home forcefully that I disagree just as wholeheartedly with their views on foreign policy.  This cognitive dissonance reveals a major fault line in present-day conservatism that the irredentism of Russia’s aspiring Tsar, not to mention similar Communist Chinese threats to our friends, makes worth some thought. In an essay on postliberalism, Patrick Deneen described its positioning on the two dimensions of social/identity and economic issues.  He described one group of voters as being consistently liberal on both the social/identity dimension and the economic dimension, and another group being consistently conservative in both dimensions.  A smaller group of libertarians were liberal on the social/identity dimension and conservative on the economic.  Postliberals occupy the remaining position of favoring both government activism in the economy and social conservatism, similar to many Trump voters.  More on that in another article. There is at least one more dimension that matters, foreign policy, that is harder to characterize in such a linear fashion.  We have just among Republicans some remaining neo-cons, Trumpian nationalists like…