Tagged: principal-agent problem

Law 36: The just war, or Free trade and therapeutic chewing gum

EN-FR March 2023


The just war

Both China and Russia agree that an act of “aggression” is not causeless, that an aggression may be provoked, that an attack may be defensive and may even be, in Napoleon’s words, the best defense, that, therefore, an attack is not by itself a breach of international law, and that American precedents buttress this view. Even if American aggressions had all been supported in the past by UN’s endorsement (which is clearly not the case: see Bay of Pigs, etc.), as in Libya, no one is obliged to see this as more binding than the US herself finds the numerous UN’s rebukes of international law violations by the United States’ protégé Israel binding.

The US administration shall be exposed as a duplicitous and irresponsible entity. When Russia strikes, it is an aggression, all of a sudden, after decades of claiming her protégé Israel’s strikes and territorial expansion have a just cause, namely, are defensive. An irresponsible fool cannot be world leader.

Free trade and therapeutic chewing gum

Commercium liberum means that if China doesn’t buy British opium from British India, the English will attack China and with their military power open Chinese harbors to opium imports. This is called Opium War and it’s real. Free trade is a völkerrechtlich (international-law) justa causa of aggression. Recently, Singapore wanted to ban chewing gum from its territory; the US objected, therefore Singapore keeps importing “therapeutical” chewing gum, and this is how everything can be therapeutic if need be. As the states are on a cannabis legalizing spree, prepare for the Cannabis Wars of tomorrow.

Cannabis Wars will be American aggressions against countries that oppose flooding by medical and/or recreational cannabis, this opposition being an impediment to free trade. Hong Kong’s colonial status was a result of the Opium Wars, so it cannot be said that these “free trade” wars are not for territorial gains. They are 1/ aggression wars, 2/ possibly ending in territorial changes, and above all they are 3/ just wars, having justa causa.

It’s in the books. As Iran is currently sailing two ships toward the Panama Canal, the US, according to Hindustan Times, expressed worry that “Iran’s presence may damage trade and the global economy market,” that is, the US is telling us they have a just cause for sinking these ships, as per the Opium Wars and other precedents.

Note. Above, I don’t mention that the two Iranian ships are warships, and one may question this. Here is my answer. It is “Iran’s presence” that is said by the US to be likely to “damage trade.” As I assume the presence of warships from some, probably most other countries does not elicit the same kind of response, the US statement was not elicited by the ships’ being warships but by their being Iranian. Had I included their quality of warships, people may have construed the affair as being elicited by the ships’ being warships, whereas, had the vessels been commercial ships, the US would have made no comment, which is wishful thinking.


Saudi’s “Won’t Sell Oil” warning to US if Biden imposes Russia-like price cap. (Hindustan Times)

Saudis should impose a price cap on American chewing gum.


China tells PLA [People’s Liberation Army] to get combat ready amid Russia’s war (Hindustan Times)

China might also benefit from inviting Taliban advisors. – Talibans’ strategy and tactics expertise is asked all over the world. Großmächte like Russia and China need Taliban advisers to improve the asymmetric warfare component of their military.


“US intelligence warned of NATO-Russia clash.” Allo? The US got intelligence about themselves from their own services? US intelligence warned the US administration that the US planned to support Ukraine “as long as it takes.” Good work!


The thin line between nothing and a promise

Finland backtracks after pledge [to send fighter jets] to Ukraine. (HT)

Apparently, Finland’s prime minister talked without the least clue about the situation, promising things Finland can’t give.

If you actually read what she said, she did not promise anything. Doesn’t matter for smooth-brained Russian lovers.

Of course, these people never promise anything, especially to their constituents. I don’t know why people keep thinking these people’s words have any meaning at all.

But who can tell this interlocutor is not splitting hairs, “technically speaking, this was not a promise in the sense of an oath on the Holy Book,” when there was in the air an expectation of Finnish jets but the Finnish army eventually said “we need our jets, sorry”? What is the point of saying the latter if there was no expectation, and what brought about an expectation if not some statement about Finland’s will to send jets? I don’t care about hair-splitting, that’s what they’re always doing when they let people down.

Besides, before calling people “Russian lovers” (with savage expletives), one should consider who is distraught by the news: Russians or Ukrainians? Who is angry? Who is cursing the Finns in their heart? (In general, the disappointed curse.) Who will say this is an about-face if asked? – Am I a Russian lover for scolding the Finnish authorities to let Ukrainians down? Whose brain needs more training?

This lady, Finland’s prime minister, went to Kiyv in quality of head of government and said, in that official position, she’s “open to providing jets.” Was this saying something or saying nothing? Or does it mean, “I’m open to providing jets but it doesn’t depend upon me.” Was the news that some nobody in the remotest parts of the country said he’s open to providing jets to Ukraine but who cares, he’s a nobody? Now a Finnish general says the jets can’t be sent in Ukraine because they are needed at home. If he is correct, then this lady couldn’t materially be “open to providing jets,” because there was no material basis for such a declaration, which would have required available jets in surplus of needed jets, essential at home, and she should have been briefed about this before going to Kyiv, knowing Ukrainians would ask for support and formulate requests. The general is telling her, in her face, something very unpleasant, and he makes it known to the world. He might be a rebel, refusing to obey the government, as he’s not the person to tell the latter how the existing jets are to be used, whether kept at home or sent to Ukrainians. Given the solemnity of a declaration made within an official delegation in a foreign country, I assume the general will be sacked and the jets sent. Otherwise, the government must fall. I retract the term “promise,” however, having learnt from my interlocutor that governments around the world shouldn’t take the words of Finland’s authorities seriously; when this government says they’re “open,” one must add in petto “but that doesn’t depend upon them,” this is no commitment, only meaningless blah blah.

If it isn’t a promise when the government says to be open to something, then the government actually says to be “open but…” So what is the “but” here? Is it a vote from Parliament? Not at all. Is it a national referendum? Not at all. Is it a veto from allies? Not at all. A Finnish general is correcting the Finnish prime minister. The “but” was “I’m open to providing jets but it depends on a general who turns out to be, as a civil servant, under the hierarchical power of the government, that is, he does what I’m telling him.” The government can’t claim it renounces sending jets because its generals are opposed to the government’s idea, because it would be treason for the army to oppose the government. Therefore, no excuse. You send the jets or you never were open to sending them; you were just, for reasons I honestly fail to understand, deceptive with people you call friends.

She was asked by a journalist in a press conference about the jets and she said it could be discussed if other countries think about sending them. She didn’t promise anything.

I left the last word to this other interlocutor. First, I had already taken back the word “promise.” Then, the answer to my question about this lady’s words, namely, “was this saying something or saying nothing?” has its answer: it was saying nothing. Poland is willing to send fighter jets to Ukraine and hasn’t waited for a common position of NATO countries. But again, the material basis for such a declaration by Finland’s head of government was lacking, because, as the general said in the meantime, Finland can’t afford to send jets abroad, no matter what a common position of NATO countries would turn out to be; the army’s position is not dependent on whether other countries can send their own jets.


Arms supply as principal-agent problem

US and UK officials are reportedly worried that Ukraine is firing thousands of artillery shells daily to hold on to Bakhmut. According to New York Times, there are concerns in the West that the pace at which Ukraine is burning through ammunition, is unsustainable (HT)

The arms suppliers worry about how the supplied army is using the material. However, the suppliers didn’t “supply” tactical command. It goes without saying that when you supply weapons you may do something very useless unless you can be sure the weapons will be used efficiently. Imagine the military operations were directed from or by the supplier countries instead to make sure the material is used efficiently: would these countries still be nonbelligerent? In other words, either NATO has no control over the efficiency of its doing as a non-belligerent party or it becomes belligerent.

There is a principal-agent problem (google these words) in the supply of weapons which remains undiscussed. In this kind of problems, suppliers could keep supplying for decades with guns a child who shoots at trees, thinking this is a soldier shooting at enemies. NATO can’t make sure its weapons are used efficiently, that is, make sure its doing is worth it, without taking control, and that means to become a belligerent party.


Video from the US-Mexico border shows chaotic scenes as hundreds of people attempted to force their way into the US, after problems with a new app aimed at processing their asylum claims. (Al Jazeera English)

To condition state decisions upon smartphone usage is unlawful subsidizing of a private sector. I think this administration is corrupt. – What is a public administration that conditions a public benefit upon the purchase of smartphones made by private manufacturers, if not a corrupt agency in the hands of private interests?

One may ask: Is it subsidizing the paper industry, to condition a public benefit on a written letter to the administration? Arguably, yes. However, the difference between the expense for one sheet of paper and a pen or pencil on the one hand and for a smartphone on the other hand, is not insubstantial, so if the administration so far requested a written letter, it doesn’t mean it is not more corrupt by asking to download an app on a phone now.



Les bras d’honneur d’un ministre au Parlement

Il n’y a pas si longtemps, un journaliste eut droit à un procès pour un doigt d’honneur. L’immunité parlementaire pour les propos tenus dans l’hémicycle protège, que je sache, les parlementaires et non les autres personnes présentes, par exemple un ministre. Et je ne crois pas non plus qu’un ministre ait une immunité générale vis-à-vis du code pénal, par exemple vis-à-vis de l’article relatif à l’injure, laquelle serait en l’occurrence facile à caractériser pour ces bras d’honneur dans l’hémicycle puisque le ministre a lui-même reconnu les faits (deux bras d’honneur), une admission sur le ton plaisant et cynique qui a choqué la présidente de séance. Des rappels au règlement, moi je veux bien, mais pourquoi un journaliste passe au tribunal, lui ?

Dans le cas du journaliste, comme son doigt d’honneur était adressé à des CRS, c’était un outrage. Or un député est également une personne dépositaire de l’autorité publique, selon le code : un bras d’honneur à un député est donc tout autant un outrage, c’est-à-dire une injure aggravée. Mais un journaliste passe en jugement et écope d’une amende pénale, tandis qu’un ministre peut se vanter de son délit. Surtout ne changez rien.

Note. S’agissant de l’affirmation selon laquelle « l’immunité parlementaire pour les propos tenus dans l’hémicycle protège, que je sache, les parlementaires et non les autres personnes présentes, par exemple un ministre », on pourrait sans doute répliquer que, si un ministre ne bénéficie pas de la même immunité que les parlementaires au sein de l’hémicycle de l’une ou l’autre chambre, il est désavantagé dans la discussion politique, étant contraint dans ses prises de parole quand les parlementaires ne le sont pas. Or l’immunité parlementaire n’empêche pas le bureau de l’Assemblée de prononcer des sanctions, telles que des suspensions, à l’encontre d’un parlementaire en raison de ses propos, tandis que le bureau d’une chambre n’a évidemment aucun pouvoir de sanction à l’encontre d’un membre du gouvernement. De sorte que si l’immunité s’étendait aux ministres, ce sont ces derniers qui seraient avantagés dans la discussion politique au sein du Parlement puisqu’il n’existerait aucune instance de sanction, judiciaire ou législative, à leur encontre tandis que les parlementaires seraient toujours passibles de sanctions prises par leur chambre. Dans ces conditions, l’immunité parlementaire servirait aux membres du gouvernement et non aux parlementaires, et même aux membres du gouvernement contre les parlementaires, ce qu’il est impossible de supposer pour un dispositif protecteur de la fonction parlementaire.