Squabbling Over the Scraps

The Chicago City Council has appropriate $51 million to pay for feeding and housing the migrants who arrive in Chicago on a daily basis. At ABC 7 Chicago Diane Pathieu, Sarah Schulte, and Eric Horng report:

CHICAGO (WLS) — As debates rage over how to care for migrants arriving in Chicago from Texas, the City Council met Wednesday to consider how to pay for it.

Not everyone is on board with $51 million in financial aid for migrants in Chicago, which is meant to help provide housing.

Many residents voiced their concerns before and during Wednesday’s council meeting.

However, the funding initiative passed with a 34-13 vote.

Before that, CPD had to escort people out of the meeting several times, as Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson asked for a two-minute breather.

“I want to make sure we are conducting the business of the people,” Johnson said.

More than 10,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Chicago since last August. Hundreds are still sleeping on floors in various police departments.

This proposed funding is only expected to last through June.

Aldermen were split on which way to vote, with some saying that money should go to underfunded neighborhoods and others saying this is a sanctuary city that must help those seeking asylum.

$51 million is more than the State of Illinois has appropriated for migrants. It is remarkable that the City of Chicago should be expected to pay the full tab for all of those migrants and $51 million will only pay for a couple of months.

Sad as it is to say neither the city nor the state have any responsibility to house or feed these migrants. The federal government, however, does (at least according to the UNHCR).



Andriy Zagorodnyuk, formerly Ukrainian Minister of Defense, in a piece at Foreign Affairs wants Ukraine to be admitted to NATO immediately:

Contrary to a popular misconception, NATO’s treaty does not require that members send troops to defend a NATO state that has been attacked. And the idea that Putin would meaningfully escalate because Ukraine joined the alliance reflects a misunderstanding of recent history. European states spent years ignoring Ukraine’s NATO application precisely to avoid antagonizing Moscow—and to precisely zero effect.

It is time, then, to let Ukraine join—not sooner or later, but now. By entering the alliance, the country will secure its future as part of the West, and it can be sure the United States and Europe will continue to help it fight against Moscow. Europe, too, will reap security benefits by allowing Ukraine to join the alliance. It is now apparent that the continent is not ready to defend itself and that its politicians have largely overestimated its security. Indeed, Europe will never be secure from Russia until it can militarily stop Moscow’s attacks. And no state is more qualified to do so than Ukraine.

With its massive support for Ukraine during the past 15 months, the alliance has in essence already paid all the costs of admitting Ukraine. By allowing the country to join now, NATO could begin reaping the benefits. Ukraine is the continent’s best hope for reestablishing peace and the rule of law across NATO’s eastern flanks. It should be welcomed and embraced.

while at 19FortyFive Daniel Davis advises that armed neutrality for Ukraine is a better solution:

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been fraught with historic antagonisms which have been on display since 1991. The reason the country exploded into a civil war in 2014 was because of antagonisms between the eastern and western citizens of the country, many of which had been boiling in the background for centuries.

Eight years of war between 2014 and 2022 did not solve the problems, and events since will ensure the hatred between the two will endure for a generation or more into the future. It would be the height of folly to extend a security guarantee to a country that will continue to have an antagonistic relationship with its nuclear-armed neighbor for the foreseeable future. Rather than tie the future security of the entire NATO alliance to hoping a volatile relationship between two bitter rivals doesn’t again break into open conflict, the U.S. should pursue viable options that have a chance of preserving European and American national security long term.

Frankly stated, there is no guarantee that once this conflict has ended, by whatever means, war between Russia and Ukraine will not again break out. Given that this will remain an ever-present potential, it is crucial that the United States and Europe ensure that our territory remains free of war and Russia remains deterred from putting our security at risk. The first path to giving Kyiv its best chance to avoid future war is to support armed neutrality.

I think that NATO membership for Ukraine only makes sense if you believe that Russia can be deterred from pursuing its own national interest or that Ukraine can be so deterred.

Since I don’t think that either of those is true, I think that Mr. Davis’s is the better advice. Furthermore, it has long been NATO’s policy to avoid admitting new members with ongoing internal ethnic conflicts or disputed borders. Admitting Ukraine would mean discarding both of those factors.


Friday Dinner

That’s a picture of our dinner last night.

Broiled salmon
Farro and cannellini beans
Green salad

The salmon isn’t quite picture perfect. I cut a single filet in half after broiling, splitting it between us. It didn’t cut very neatly.


New Developments for Me

A little less than two months ago I received notification from my now prior employer that they would no longer be needing my services. They took care to reassure me that it had nothing to do with my performance. It was mostly a cost-saving measure. They had lost some major customers lately and needed to trim back so I was on the chopping block. My last day was April 6.

Nonetheless it was quite a shock for me. I’ve been working fulltime for more than a half century. I’ve left previous employers but I’d never been asked to leave. It came as quite a shock. At my age seeking a new job is a daunting prospect.

I began searching immediately and finally found an offer I liked at a slight increment. I began my new job on Tuesday.


Why Should the U. S. Pay More Attention to Africa?

I can see many reasons why European countries should focus more attention on Africa. I can’t see many why the U. S. should, as Philippe Benoit urges at The Hill:

As I wrote in an opinion piece for The Hill immediately following the U.S.-Africa December Summit: “To achieve [a] strong partnership, the U.S. will need to demonstrate that it is interested in Africa because the continent itself matters, not merely to address other U.S. international objectives.”

The recent events in Sudan, however, serve as a reminder that it is also important for Washington to vigorously engage Africa precisely to support American geopolitical interests globally.

Over the last several months, the fighting by Russia to take Bakhmut in Ukraine has been spearheaded by the Wagner Group, a paramilitary Russian group of mercenaries. The battle for Bakhmut has become a strategic focus of the war as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine extends into a second year.

While fighting raged in Bakhmut, several thousand miles to the south in Khartoum, Sudan, fighting broke out between two rival generals for control of the city and, by extension, the country. Once again, the Wagner Group is present. As reported by NBC, “The Russian mercenary outfit Wagner Group is sending surface-to-air missiles to one of the sides in Sudan’s war, fueling the conflict and destabilizing the region, the Treasury Department said this week.” Wagner’s strategy in Africa is closely linked to the war in Ukraine as it is “profiting off African countries’ mining wealth, with the proceeds helping to fund Russia’s war in Ukraine.”

Yet, as U.S. geopolitical competitors in Moscow and Beijing have already recognized, Africa matters for its own sake, independent of the Ukraine situation. Wagner, for example, has worked to establish itself across the continent in a campaign that predates Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by many years. From the Central African Republic to Mali to Sudan and more, Wagner has implanted itself, gaining influence and generating massive revenues by exploiting Africa’s rich mineral resources. Notably, from a geopolitical perspective, experts interviewed by NBC said: “Wagner’s role in Sudan is part of a growing presence in Africa aimed at undercutting U.S. and French influence,” and its “aim has been to bolster Moscow’s influence in Africa.”

My own view is that the U. S. should focus significantly more attention on Central and South America while the Europeans devote more attention to Africa. Nearly every argument Mr. Benoit makes about Africa is also true of Latin America. For example, the Wagner Group has a toehold in Venezuela, too.


Nuking Ukraine

At UnHerd Kevin Ryan argues that Russian President Vladimir Putin will use nuclear weapons in Ukraine sooner rather than later:

For much of the last 80 years, Russia’s security has rested on two pillars whose relative strength has waxed and waned — its conventional ground forces and its nuclear weapons. The conventional forces have been used to influence, bully and force Russia’s neighbours and adversaries to bend to its will. The nuclear forces were intended to deter the United States and the West from interfering militarily in Russia and its perceived zone of influence. Since the end of the Cold War, however, Russia’s conventional forces have at times struggled with their share of the task. To compensate, Russian leaders have had to rely on their nuclear forces to do both: strategic nuclear weapons to deter the West and tactical nuclear weapons to threaten neighbours.

Today, a single nuclear strike in Ukraine could thwart a Ukrainian counterattack with little loss of Russian lives.


None of this is to say that we in the West should pressure Ukraine to forgo its goal to liberate all seized territory. But it does mean that we should anticipate a nuclear attack and develop possible responses. As soon as Russia uses a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, the fallout will start to spread. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians will be dead, suffering or dealing with the effects of the explosion. Hundreds of millions of Europeans will be bracing for war. But 7 billion others around the globe will go about their business, alarmed but physically unaffected.

I have no idea whether his reasoning is sound or not. I suspect he’s overestimating how many of its military resources Russia has already deployed against Ukraine. For example, I don’t believe that Russia has deployed any of the 300,000 troops it called up several months ago against Ukraine.

Said another way the issue may be whether we’re talking about a first resort or a last resort.


The Misconception

I think that Fareed Zakharia is operating under a misconception in his latest Washington Post column:

As I was following Turkey’s recent general election, I was stunned to hear one of the country’s top officials, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, speaking to a crowd from a balcony. Jubilant, he promised that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would “wipe away whoever causes trouble” for Turkey “and that includes the American military.” Earlier, Soylu declared that those who “pursue a pro-American approach will be considered traitors.” Keep in mind that Turkey has been a member of NATO (with U.S. bases in the country) for about 70 years.

Erdogan often uses stridently anti-Western rhetoric himself. About a week before the election’s first round, he tweeted that his opponent “won’t say what he promised to the baby-killing terrorists or to the Western countries.”

Erdogan might be one of the most extreme representatives of this attitude, but he is not alone. As many commentators have noted, most of the world’s population is not aligned with the West in its struggle against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. And the war itself has only highlighted a broader phenomenon: Many of the largest and most powerful countries in the developing world are growing increasingly anti-Western and anti-American.


What is going on? Why is the United States having so much trouble with so many of the world’s largest developing nations? These attitudes are rooted in a phenomenon that I described in 2008 as the “rise of the rest.” Over the past two decades, a huge shift in the international system has taken place. Countries that were once populous but poor have moved from the margins to center stage. Once representing a negligible share of the global economy, the “emerging markets” now make up fully half of it. It would be fair to say they have emerged.

As these countries have become economically strong, politically stable and culturally proud, they have also become more nationalist, and their nationalism is often defined in opposition to the countries that dominate the international system — meaning the West. Many of these nations were once colonized by Western nations, and so they retain an instinctive aversion to Western efforts to corral them into an alliance or grouping.

Actually, I suspect it’s more than one misconception.

The first misconception is that present day Turkey is an ally of the United States in anything but a technical sense on paper. It hasn’t been for the last thirty years.

The second is that the views of the “non-aligned countries”, e.g. Brazil or India, have changed. They haven’t. They go back more than two millennia, cf. Thucydides famous maxim: “The strong do what they can; the weak suffer what they must”. Turkey and Brazil will always distrust the United States; Poland and Czechia will always distrust Russia.

The third is that there’s something we can do about it. If there ever was it’s too late now. Weaker countries will never trust strong countries with histories of interventionism, e.g. the United States and Russia. China benefits by its long adherence to a policy of noninterventionism. As that erodes not the least under the influence of “wolf warrior diplomacy”, China will lose whatever trust it had.

The only thing we can actually do is remain strong.


The Semiconductor Supply Chain

I want to commend to your attention what I think is a very good article by Akhil Thadani and Gregory C. Allen at the Center for Strategic and International Studies which they describe as a “map” of the semiconductor supply chain. Here’s their conclusion:

As it stands, technological and economic limitations have evolved a semiconductor supply chain that is incredibly complex and specialized. Despite consistent efforts, no government has been able to achieve true self-sufficiency in semiconductor manufacturing to date. To successfully fortify the United States’ position along the supply chain and mitigate risk, U.S. policy should aim to grow a healthy and resilient semiconductor ecosystem in which allies and partners continue to play a key role. The Department of Commerce has already stated that this is a key prong of the CHIPS Act implementation strategy. Carried out by the CHIPS office in the Department of Commerce, coordinating investment and incentive programs, promoting knowledge exchanges and collaboration, and facilitating cross-border commerce are all high-priority objectives for CHIPS Act implementation.[44] Continued dialogue with key allies, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, is important to minimize duplicative investments, grow the comparative strengths of each country’s domestic industry, and de-risk key dependencies.

In my view it would be prudent for the U. S. to rely a lot more on Canada and Mexico and a lot less on Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.


Another World

The editors of the Wall Street Journal remark on what transpired here in Chicago over the weekend:

The shootings occurred even as the mayor visited neighborhoods with a plea to keep the city safe. He favors what he calls a “holistic” approach to fighting crime, which means funding community groups. “Poverty didn’t go away over the weekend,” Mr. Johnson said. “Communities have been disinvested in and traumatized” and “you are seeing the manifestation of that trauma.”

Yes, he actually said that, which goes a long way to explaining why gunmen patrol the streets with impunity. Does the mayor have a date when he thinks poverty will vanish, the “trauma” will ease, and the shootings stop? Is the July 4 weekend too soon, or will it be Labor Day?

His comments reflect the other-worldly nature of Chicago progressives, for whom Mr. Johnson is now the chief spokesman. He campaigned on hiring 200 new police detectives, but in the city’s current state he’ll need 2,000 and a revival of tough anti-crime policies to stop the carnage in the streets. Morale at the Chicago Police Department is flagging and there’s no permanent superintendent.

Then again, Chicagoans elected Mr. Johnson in April knowing all this. Crime was the biggest issue, and voters apparently opted for “holistic” crime fighting as opposed to actually fighting crime. How do you like it?

A couple of observations. First, “disinvestment” is a consequence of crime as well as, per the mayor, a cause of it. Contrary to the mayor, I happen to think it is mostly a consequence. I would add that small businesses have been driven from Chicago, presumably with the best of intentions, as Chicago tried to attract major retailers. Every Walmart store displaces scores of small, individually owned and operated stores. Then when Walmart leaves because “shrinkage” (as it’s called in the trade) is eating up any prospective profits, that leaves a desert. Another factor is that by simply crossing the street you can pay less. That’s what happens when you have the highest sales tax in the state. I suspect that the mayor will find attracting new small businesses with ties to the community a greater challenge than dealing with the forces that are pushing them out.

Second, I think he’s trying to shoehorn the emiseration thesis out of the situation on the South and West Sides. Lots of luck with that. The empirical evidence is in the opposite direction.

Third, he might want to consider the possibility that young people on the South and West Sides are killing each other a) because they can and b) because they don’t believe there will be consequences for whatever they do.

Finally, 18% of Chicago’s registered voters voted for Mr. Johnson. Don’t blame the rest of us.

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Thiessen’s “America First” Case

In his Washington Post column Mark Thiessen presents what he refers to as an “America First” case for U. S. support for the Ukraine in its war with Russia. Here are his ten points:

  1. Russian victory would embolden our enemies
  2. A Ukrainian victory will help deter China
  3. Defeating Putin would weaken the Sino-Russian partnership
  4. Support for Ukraine will restore the Reagan Doctrine
  5. Victory will save the U.S. billions
  6. A proving ground for new weapons
  7. Arming Ukraine is revitalizing our defense industrial base
  8. The Russian invasion has strengthened U.S. alliances
  9. Victory helps prevent nuclear proliferation
  10. Victory in Ukraine is achievable

I’m not his target audience—Republicans are. However, to understand my issues with his argument, let’s first define our terms. “Victory for Ukraine”, as defined by the Ukrainian government and augmented by me to add the obvious, means:

  1. Withdrawal of Russia from all Ukrainian territory as defined by its pre-2014 borders.
  2. Cessation of hostilities within those borders including by Russian ethnic separatists and Ukrainian nationalists.
  3. Enough of the Ukrainian population remains within those borders to maintain civil society.

while “victory for Russia”, as defined by the Russian government, means that Russia continues to hold Crimea and the Donbas and Ukraine does not join NATO.

I would submit that victory for Ukraine is not achievable and I don’t honestly know whether victory for Russia is, either. At least 20% and possibly as much as 30% of Ukraine’s population has already left the country. Frankly, I doubt that most will return. The total numbers of those killed are at least .3% of the population and continue to mount. I don’t know what percentage of the population must die before Ukraine loses cohesion.

The question then becomes is preventing Russia from outright victory an objective sufficient for U. S. interests? I don’t think so but I cannot speak for the audience Mr. Thiessen is addressing.

On his other bullet points I think that the likely outcome in which neither Ukraine nor Russia actually prevails in their own terms fails to satisfy any of his points 1-9.

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