Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Blogging Gap: Grants, Conferences, Taxes and Exhaustion

I haven't blogged in a week!  No, I am not dead. But it has been a long time that I have gone that long without a desire to semi some spew.  Part of this is that I was crunching on the latest iteration of a Canadian Defence and Security Network grant application.  I thought I was done with that for a while after submitting the latest SSHRC Partnership Grant application, and then the Department of National Defence issued a call for a proto-network.  The good news is that I could use the structure and partners of the SSHRC grant for this application; the bad news is that I had a month to re-direct it towards DND's priorities and for much less money and time ($100k for one year as opposed to $2.5m over 7).  The bet is that if we get this money and do it well, then we can compete for the big enchilada down the road.  We shall see--I am definitely hoping that my +5 Hammer of Diligence means that we get a decent enough result on the 20 sided die to get the proto-money. 

The ISA is next week, so I have been revising a paper, preparing for a roundtable and trying to open up sometime to read the papers that I will be discussing.  Look for a post in the next day or two about ISA prep.  

I have also been working on several sets of taxes--US, Canada, NY (my daughter), etc.  And I got a fun gift from the IRS yesterday: a letter saying we owed heaps from last year's taxes.  So, had to clean that mess (resolved quickly and with much good customer service) just in time to fix my tax return for this year.  Good times. 

So, no blogging.... because there has also been no news, right?  What has happened in the past week?  Here's some quick hits on the news de la semaine (du jour x 7):
  • Go Team NATO! I was very surprised that Trump's US managed to coordinate with many (not all) friends to react to the Russian use of chemical weapons on a British village. Sure, the Russians have retaliated, but the reaction was proportionate and justified and surprisingly well-coordinated.  There must be someone still manning the European and Canadian desks at State?  Of course, this speaks to the tyranny of low expectations: this is something that should not be that unexpected.  Still, some credit to folks within the Trump administration for making this work.
  • Um, Bolton?  Aw, FFS.  There might be a worse person to become Trump's National Security Adviser, but it is hard to imagine.  As my US Foreign Policy class studied this spring, the person in this role can vary from coordinator (Scowcroft) to advocate (Kissinger) to out of the loop (Condi Rice)* and Bolton is very much an advocate.  He shades intel to support his arguments, he kicks down and kisses up, and is unlikely to present Trump with a complete picture.  Oh, and he is a first class warmonger.  So, whatever the odds were for a Second Korean War, they shifted at least five percent in the more likely direction.  NOT GOOD.  Bolton may very well be the last person to talk to Trump before he makes a decision, and that is NOT GOOD.
  • Xi and Kim Jung Un?  I have no idea as I am not an East Asia security expert yet (once I come back from a two week trip to Seoul in May, then I can be an exert).  But I don't think this is KJU being vulnerable nor do I think it means that China is constraining him.  I think they were probably trying to figure out how best to play Trump.  After all, it was Xi who had a Mar-lago dinner conversation with Trump that changed how the latter viewed Korean history.  So, hmmm is all I can say.
So, if you have any suggestions for topics for new Semi-Spews, you know where to find me.

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