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[ 12 ] December 22, 2016 |


Earlier this month did some work on economic espionage at the Diplomat:

The 2016 Annual Report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (established by act of the U.S. Congress) includes an unsurprising series of allegations about the course of Chinese military and economic espionage against the United States. Among other items, the report suggested that China had appropriated elements of the F-35 design and incorporated them in the J-20. The United States was not the only target. Individuals and firms in Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, France, Italy, and Norway also came under Chinese scrutiny.


LGM DC Meetup: Tomorrow!

[ 10 ] December 18, 2016 |

Reminder: Tomorrow at 5:30pm, we’ll be doing an LGM Meetup in Washington DC.  Details here; we’re meeting at Fado Irish Pub on 7th St. NW.  We should be there until at least 8:30pm.  RSVPs (through Facebook)are great, but not strictly necessary.  Look for the group of people you’d normally imagine to be LGM regulars…_44106971_hogarth203pa


[ 16 ] December 16, 2016 |

Black & white image illustrating 17 American football players in their uniforms with both a single "A" and "UA" visible.

Last chance to sign up for the LGM Bowl Challenge Group!

Group: Lawyers, Guns and Money

Password: zevon

FBI Comes Around

[ 94 ] December 16, 2016 |

Fbi headquarters.jpg

FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have backed a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the presidency, according to U.S. officials.

Comey’s support for the CIA’s conclusion suggests that the leaders of the three agencies are in agreement on Russian intentions, contrary to suggestions by some lawmakers that the FBI disagreed with the CIA.

“Earlier this week, I met separately with (Director) FBI James Comey and DNI Jim Clapper, and there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election,” CIA Director John O. Brennan said in a message to the agency’s workforce, according to U.S. officials who have seen the message.

I think it’s obvious that no one at this blog holds a high view of the integrity and capabilities of James Comey. At the same time, it’s important to note that whatever discord apparently existed in the IC over the motivations for Russian hacking efforts have now disappeared.


[ 39 ] December 16, 2016 |
USNS Bowditch at sea

USNS Bowditch. By, Public Domain, Link


So this is happening:

While we don’t know much yet, I would be hesitant to ascribe this to a bureaucratic foul up. The PLAN has been relatively careful about these kinds of things over the past few years, and the timing (in the wake of Trump’s Taiwan call) suggests a escalatory intention.


LGM DC Meetup: Putting the Functional Back in Functional Alcoholism

[ 12 ] December 10, 2016 |

20140920_bkp511On Monday the 19th at 5:30pm, at least two contributors will be present and in-the-flesh for an LGM Meetup in Washington DC.  Details are here; we’ll be meeting at Fado Irish Pub on 7th St. NW.  We should be there until at least 8:30pm.  RSVPs (through Facebook)are great, but not strictly necessary.  Topics of discussion will be closely monitored by the Trump administration.

The Cold War Reimagined

[ 96 ] December 9, 2016 |
Dwight Eisenhower Nikita Khrushchev and their wives at state dinner 1959.png

1959 State Dinner with Khrushchevs and Eisenhowers.

Thought experiment: What would have had to change to enable the USSR to “win” the Cold War?

Could the Soviets have won the Cold War? In retrospect, Soviet defeat seems overdetermined.  The USSR suffered from a backwards economy, an unappealing political system, and unfortunate geography. But even into the 1980s, many Cold Warriors in the West worried that Red Victory was imminent.

We can think of Red Victory in two ways; first, if the fundamental rules of the competition between the United States and the USSR had operated differently, and second if Moscow and Washington had made different strategic decisions along the way.

Naval Cooperation

[ 6 ] December 8, 2016 |
USS Boxer LHD-4 +helicopter.jpg

USS Boxer (LHD-4), CTF-151 Flagship

Some thoughts on some recent work on naval cooperation in the Indian Ocean:

What can the success of counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean tell us about military cooperation more generally? Counter-piracy was the quintessential example of what cooperative sea power could accomplish, and the success of operations off Somalia helped drive the thinking of many American sea power theorists. The “Thousand Ship Navy” concept developed just as the U.S. Navy and other forces were beginning to step up counter-piracy operations off Somalia, and hoped to lay the foundation for the creation of similar operations around the world.

LGM Bowl Mania Annus Horribilis

[ 6 ] December 6, 2016 |

546e88c83c7d97b5ee3d8636065a634cThe LGM Bowl Mania league has been reactivated for 2016.  Do your best to close out the most horrific year in recent history by picking as many losing collegiate football teams as possible!

League: Lawyers, Guns and Money

Password: zevon

Prize for the least horrible entry.

Last Tango

[ 137 ] December 3, 2016 |
Bernardo Bertolucci Hollywood Walk of Fame.jpg

By Sarah Ackerman from New York, USA CC BY 2.0, Link

This has been floating around for a bit, but still

It’s known as one of the most infamous rape scenes in Hollywood history—but Last Tango in Paris director Bernardo Bertolucci admitted in a recently surfaced video that star Maria Schneider never consented to it.

Instead, Bertolucci confessed in the 2013 clip that he and Marlon Brando came up with the idea to shoot the assault scene in which Brando’s character uses a stick of butter to rape Schneider on screen. At the time, Brando was 48. Schneider was just 19.

“The sequence of the butter is an idea that I had with Marlon in the morning before shooting,” Bertulocci said in an event held at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris in 2013. He added that he felt horrible “in a way” for his treatment of Schneider but defended himself, explaining that he “wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress.”

“I wanted her to react humiliated,” he said. “I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn’t tell her.” Even so, Bertolucci clarified that he didn’t “regret” how he decided to direct the scene.

“To obtain something I think you have to be completely free,” he said. “I didn’t want Maria to act her humiliation her rage, I wanted her to Maria to feel…the rage and humiliation. Then she hated me for all of her life.”

Some thoughts:

  • If you had asked me yesterday to guess one rape scene in the history of cinema that involved an actual rape, this is the one I would have picked. In some horrible, perverse sense, Bertolucci and Brando got exactly what they wanted.
  • Imagine Bertolucci saying this: “I didn’t want Marlon to act his painful gunshot death, I wanted him to feel…as if he’d been shot. Then he hated me for all of his very short remaining life.”
  • Tragically, I’d bet that some people will view this as a vindication of Roman Polanski: “Everybody was doing it. And sure, maybe he raped a girl, but at least he didn’t film it.”

… good lord, folks; how deeply do we need to quibble about gradations of sexual assault, especially when both the victim and the perpetrator claim it was non-consensual?

Let’s Make Some Foreign Policy!

[ 81 ] December 3, 2016 |
ROCS Kee Lung (DDG-1801).jpg

ROCS Keel Lung (DDG-1801). By Kliu1 – Public Domain.

  1. Oh hey.

  2. Oh hey.

  3. Changing policy towards Taiwan has been a long-term goal of many within the GOP foreign policy community. While the Reagan, Bush, and Bush II administrations all held the line (with some variance along the way) on the policy of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan, there was always internal dissension (especially under Reagan and Bush II) over how hard to push Beijing.  The faction that supports confrontation with Beijing seems to have the upper hand at the moment.
  4. Oh hey.

  5. I expect that the short-term fallout will be reasonably limited.  China is exceptionally displeased, and will make its displeasure known across a range of different venues, but we’re unlikely to see anything really severe in the near future.  Beijing is also looking for clarity on what the Trump and Duterte regimes have planned for the South China Sea; I doubt that they’re going to push very hard when it still looks possible that the Philippines may fall into their lap. At the same time, I wouldn’t want to be planning any major investments in, or research trips to, the PRC in the near future.
  6. If Trump is going to go loose cannon on the sacred jewels of American diplomatic policy, better now than later. Right now, both US and Chinese diplomats can write this off as inexperience, and in any case the outgoing Obama administration has to pay the immediate costs.  A year or two from now, it’ll be much harder to draw a bright line between off-the-cuff statements of the US President and the actual foreign policy of the United States.
  7. I sure am glad that we didn’t elect Hillary the Hawk who would have started a New Cold War with Russia or some such.

No IP in the TPP Anymore

[ 17 ] November 30, 2016 |
Statute of anne.jpg

The Statute of Anne

My latest at the Diplomat takes a look at the state of intellectual property protection in the wake of the death of the TPP:

What does the death of the Trans-Pacific Partnership mean for U.S. intellectual property (IP) rights abroad? The United States pushed heavily, and controversially, for the inclusion of significant IP protections in the TPP. This push is consistent with a broader effort on the part of the U.S. government to include robust IP protection in just about every bilateral or multilateral trade agreement since the turn of the century.


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