Sunday, February 08, 2015

I (Think I) Got Three more Calls Right and One Call Wrong

If my memory serves me correctly, I got or am getting three more calls right, and one wrong.

First, I said that the TPP would move after and only after the U.S. midterm elections and that a positive outcome in the Japan-U.S. bilateral negotiation would be dictated by the Japan-Australia FTA deal. It’s certainly looking that way, and the naysayers are saying that the odds have improved. No they haven’t. They haven’t changed one bit. Those people think (or say) that they have, because they’d listened to one too many informed sources who in effect provided the illusion of action while the two sides jogged in place, ate up too much Japanese media coverage by reporters canvassing for headlines, or just hated Prime Minister Abe too much. I’m not saying that it’s a done deal; I know too little of the political dynamics in the United States to be certain of TPA and (more crucially) bicameral consent. I’ll leave those calls to experts like Paul Sracic.

I’ve been trying to remember what the second one was—it’s been on my mind for several days now, and now that I’m armed with my Jack Daniels typing this, it completely escapes my mind—so let’s go straight to the third one, which is..,

I tweeted that I would be surprised if public opinion in Jordan hadn’t turned against ISIL already as the result of the murder of the pilot although a good number of pundits thought that the monarchy would catch the brunt of the criticism. For now, things appear to be going in my direction. My call was based on my observation of human nature’s desire for revenge, augmented by a piece of conventional wisdom that was implanted in me in my preteens about an Arab predilection for eye-for-eye justice.

I got the DPJ leadership election doubly wrong, of course, when I called a Hosono win over Nagatsuma in a runoff. It was a gain for me, though, since I probably would not have noticed how poorly Natgatsuma did in the party dues-paying rank-and-file vote. The labor and teachers’ unions, who were supposed to be well-represented there, turned out to be much smaller or more pragmatic than I’d expected. The DPJ will be more right-center, at least on foreign policy, than I thought, which, according to Lully Miura’s analysis, will be a good thing for a true two-party system, if not for the diehard liberal-left.

Finally (for now), I did say that the ISIL murders of the two Japanese hostages would do little to move the needle policy-wise, and I think that Mr. Abe’s denial that he wants to send troops to the Middle East for logistic support bears this out in part, but I don’t think that it was the second call that I had in mind. 

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