The following column is adapted from a speech delivered by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at the National Defense University on December 14, 2016.
I want to start by thanking the National Defense University. This is an extraordinarily important institution. You’ll see why as I go through this. The greatest challenge we face is not money. The greatest challenge we face is thinking. This is one of the places assigned the responsibility for thinking. It was no accident that Admiral Nimitz said after World War II, there was no major problem in the Pacific, that they had not war-gamed at the Naval War College. It’s no accident that Eisenhower graduated first in his class at Leavenworth, and ended up as a senior planner, and then as the Commander of all allied forces in Europe.
These were people who understood that thinking things through really mattered. Curtis Lemay told me the greatest contribution that he made to World War II, was that he had gone to the new Air Corps Command and Staff College in Montgomery, and had learned how to write a five paragraph field order. He got these huge complicated messages from 8th Air Force when he arrived as a Commander of a Wing in England, and he would rewrite them into the appropriate form, send it back and say, is this what you meant to send me? After about six weeks, 8th Air Force began issuing the new model. These things, they seem trivial, but the most successful security systems have constant processes of evolution, which require thought. The hardest is to evolve without defeat.
Trump sees it as his mission to repair the social contract with the American public. He is focused domestically but events will nonetheless require Trump to look beyond the borders of the US. He is establishing a ‘professional’ Cabinet to facilitate that global engagement. Trump prizes business acumen, professionalism and a “killer” instinct in managing affairs.
The US Establishment has been quick to dismiss President Elect Donald Trump’s emerging Foreign Policy. The dearth of policy wonks, establishment bureaucrats, think tanks and foreign affairs pundits, reflects an emerging Trump Doctrine that is at variance with the norm. It is unsettling the establishment, and in particular the neo-con rump that has for two decades dominated the post Soviet foreign policy agenda of both the Democrat and Republican parties. Gone will be the overly academic U.S. foreign policy guidelines that have become too predictable and overwrought with diplomatic formality. If you wish to lift the edge of Trump’s developing Foreign Policy doctrine to peek beneath, then look no further than his key Cabinet choices and especially the musings of Trump’s key advisor Steve Bannon. Highbrow intellectualism can often be a handicap in this exercise. Trump is hiring pragmatic ‘doers’ not ‘dreamers & talkers’. With a Trump Cabinet, boasting people like Flynn and Mathis, the days of Obama’s ‘red lines’ and hollow threats will be a thing of the past.
The Washington establishment have been quick to dismiss President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign policy, with predictable knee-jerk increduality. The emerging Trump Doctrine however merits deeper exploration than knee-jerk displays of stricken disbelief. Contrary to popular consensus one of Trump’s greatest virtues is his unpredictability. He is fortunate that the United States’ strong geopolitical foundation gives it a wealth of Foreign Policy options.
Occasionally in Foreign Affairs we stumble upon a truly Machiavellian moment. I believe that we may be about to experience one such moment in 2017. Aloofness in international affairs is a geopolitical luxury, but the US has options not available to other Nation States. Trump does not fear nationalism but holds Progressive globalism as an anathema. Trump’s ‘real politik’ is steeped in nationalism.
Italy’s third largest bank, Monte dei Paschi, one of the oldest banks in the world, is on the brink of needing a State bail out yet again, after efforts failed to convince private investors to provide fresh capital. A last ditch attempt to persuade Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund to invest in the bank failed spectacularly, and the hope for other efforts to raise money to prop up the bank have been dashed.
Failing a last ditch surprise capital bail out, Monte dei Paschi will miss the European Central Bank’s Dec. 31 deadline to raise 5 billion euros ($5.2 billion). The Italian parliament has had to authorised 20 billion euros in new public debt on the December 21 to inject into Monte dei Paschi and other smaller banks in case the required private capital funding doesn’t eventuate. Italian media have claimed that the government’s bail out plan for Monte dei Paschi could take up to three months to facilitate. Starting with a State guarantee of the bank’s borrowing to ensure that Monte dei Paschi doesn’t run out of liquidity initiating a ‘run on the bank’. Currently the Bank claims to only have available liquidity to take it to the end of March 2017.
Much has been made recently in regarding the demographics of the contested 2016 US Presidential Election. Many studies have thrown up graphics that claimed that the Great Democrat ‘Blue Wall’ had been breached by the successful Republican candidate Donald Trump’s candidature. Swathes of Statewide Blue voting patterns were regularly used by both sides to reflect either the electoral ‘security’ of the Democratic North East and the West Coast Democrat heartlands or the task ahead for the Republicans. The Republican candidate claimed a landslide win within the electoral college, whereas the Democrat contender claims the raw demographic majority by some 2 million votes. Both a correct to some degree in their claims but the most electorally significant position has to be measured at the County sized electoral map. The ‘local ‘ county political landscape tells a very sober tale for the Democrat Party.
The Electoral College was a mechanism that prevented high density urban areas exercising overarching political control, over the more sparsely populated areas of the US, thus ensuring national geographic unity. Looking at the electoral map through the lens of all of the counties within the US, a very interesting picture emerges. Though the Democrats claim the raw numbers by a margin of 2 million votes, the US counties map shows that Democrat support is extremely patchy and restricted to about half a dozen or so small, highly urbanised, geographic regions across the nation.
Hydraulic fracturing generated $3.5 trillion in new wealth between 2012 and 2014 in spite of falling oil prices, according to a new study, but today’s rising prices could be even better for the U.S. economy.
From 2012 to 2014, the shale oil industry generated 4.6 million new jobs due to an energy boom and the resulting low gas prices, according to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) <http://marcelluscoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/NBER-paper.pdf> . Expensive energy could be a huge net positive for the U.S. fracking economy because rising oil prices mean more drilling.
Oil prices fell to a record low of $30 a barrel <http://www.macrotrends.net/1369/crude-oil-price-history-chart> during the previous year, sharply reducing the industry’s profit margins, which are now rising again and have seemed to have stabilised at around the $50 a barrel ‘sweet spot'<http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/15/oil-prices-edge-up-as-kuwait-cuts-supplies-by-more-than-expected.html> . Researchers estimate that new economic activity from fracking technology created around 4.6 million net new jobs, but only about 1.6 million of these new jobs were directly linked to the oil industry, while many of the rest were due to lower gas prices and the positive effect that had on the US economy.