Free Trade Becomes Less Free

Free trade has been the mantra of all major economies for many years. Of course many economies protect their markets subtly, and free trade does not stop governments from adjusting things like environmental and tax laws in order to favour their own businesses, but nevertheless there is less protection of domestic industries now than there has ever been. Continue reading

The Puzzle of MH17

I have been trying to get my head around what actually happened when flight MH17 was blown down over rebel held areas in the Ukraine. It is hard for me to understand the motivation that any side in the conflict has for bringing down a civilian airliner carrying passengers far above the war zone. such an act would bring worldwide universal condemnation and would bring such reprisals as would make the angels weep. Continue reading

Sly Secret Briefings and Nudges and Winks

It is all rather odd. A few months ago the news media in the United Kingdom was full of stories about Crimea and the Ukraine; no one had actually died there, but we were given the impression that the Western Democracies would intervene with military might to prevent Russia annexing parts of the Ukraine or that at least serious economic sanctions would be imposed on Russia. There then followed Russia taking the Crimea from Ukraine, and major cities in the east of Ukraine being taken over by people who wanted to transfer those cities to Russia, fighting broke out, more than a hundred people died and rebel groups were formed but all the bellicose noise from the Western Democracies stopped.  Continue reading

Sanctions Can Be Tantamount to a Declaration of War

Economic sanctions issued to prevent war or deter what are regarded as bad regimes often lead to war. Leaders of today should learn their history. In August 1941 the United States of America issued sanctions against Japan. Japan had been fighting in China and the Far East and had embargoed war supplies from the US into China. In retaliation the US embargoed all oil exports to Japan (who had at that stage only six months to two years stock left depending on whether you accept conservative or liberal estimates) and blocked all US credit and capital to Japan. A year earlier the US had closed the Panama Canal to Japanese Shipping and embargoed the sale of iron and scrap iron to Japan. Continue reading

Why sanctions against Russia just won’t work

The European Union are thinking of imposing sanctions on the Russian Federation as a response to Russia’s activities in Georgia. It is a curious idea, because it seems to me that the EU has more to lose if there were economic sanctions than does Russia.

There are always two sides to every story, and the Russian activity in Georgia is not a clear cut well defined issue. Even if it were, the purpose of sanctions would be to impose economic hardship on Russia as a means of bring them into line with what the European Union thinks they should do. Continue reading