The Phileas Club 79 – What a Year…


On this episode we talk about:

  • 2017 budget deficit in Saudi Arabia
  • Election primaries and Front National in France
  • Taiwan / China / US relations
  • Our thoughts on 2016

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  1. Dmitry Cherednichenko says:

    Hello again from St.Petersburg Russia.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this and the previous episode, big thanks to Patrick for the show. You’ve managed to bring together people who give interesting insight into the world affairs. Special thanks to Eric for his deep and thoughtful analysis of the situation in Asia, it was illuminating for me personally.

    Now, to comment on a few particular points.

    I agree with Eric, Russia is not on par with either China or US as an economic power. We are, at least right now, a natural resource producing economy with its inherent weaknesses. Now, what I disagree with is Patricks’s assumption that Russia (and Russians) wants to be a world superpower. I really don’t think it’s true. What Russian ruling class wants is to have its own sphere of influence. It’s limited to former Soviet Union territory, except maybe Baltic states. There’s also a popular nationalistic idea of protecting ethnic Russians abroad, again limited to the former USSR territory. “Leave us alone in our own backyard and don’t lecture us on what’s right or wrong, because who are you to judge?” This is the message from Russian ruling elite towards the Western world. Which is shared by the majority of Russians. Russian involvement in Syria, as I see it, has many reasons — saving military bases, protecting oil transportaion interests, containing jihadist threat (Russia has huge Muslim population), and finally, saying “f.. you” to the US for meddling in Russia’s own backyard.

    More on Syria. I understand Turki’s emotional words, but let’s try to look at it a bit more objectively? Saudis are Sunni muslims, of course they sympathize with fellow Sunnis in Syria. But what about Shia muslims? They support Assad. What about Christians and other minorities? They felt relatively safe under Assad regime, and not so much with the rebels, especially the Jihadists. Western liberals are so much into protecting the minorities, maybe it’s time to look at Syria? I follow Western media on the subject, the hypocrisy and double standards are astonishing. They accuse Assad and Russians of civilian suffering in Aleppo. What about war in Yemen? What about civilians in Mosul? Civilian casualties, deeply regrettable as they are, happen with any massive military operation. But somehow, only Syrian government and Russia are being vilified.

    As always, I’m trying to offer a different point of view here. Looking forward to more episodes in 2017. Happy new year, all.

    • Hey Dmitry, I’ll reply on Syria: I understand what you’re saying, but if we take a step back you have admit that Assad is a dictator or at the very least the autocratic leader of an authoritative regime. I get your point that “people feels safe”, but it’s the equivalent of saying “at least under Mussolini the trains were on time”. Sure, things “worked”, but it doesn’t mean everything was peachy. It kind of falls under the same category as what Eric was saying: “people don’t want democracy, they want a job”. Yes, sure, I understand the sentiment, but one isn’t the same as the other.
      In the case of Syria, the difficulty is that the realistic choice right now is Assad or IE. None are good, although one be less bad than the other. But again, “less bad” doesn’t mean it’s good. There are still terrible things that happen under regimes such as Assad’s. And here too, saying “war is bad everywhere” doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t excuse everything. Of course war is bad. And democracies aren’t perfect. But that doesn’t mean we should be happy that autocratic regimes are doing what they do…

      That could be an interesting conversation to have on the show as well. 🙂

      Happy new year to you and all too!

  2. The podcast is good, but very nintendo+sony heavy. As someone who plays often on an xbox this podcast would be way more interesting to listen to if it was more balanced at least.

    • Thanks for the comment! Although I think you might have posted it on the wrong show’s article. 🙂
      That being said, it was Nintendo and Sony heavy cause there was Nintendo and Sony news… Not so much XBox news these past few weeks. Unless I missed something you want to remind me of?

      • Hi Patrick, been a fan for a long time. No it’s not a specific news article that I’m thinking about in particular. Just more of a general sense. But I understand that you play more on those platforms and therefore your topic focus. I’m just not a Nintendo guy myself so sometimes I fast forward hoping to hear about other stuff like Dishonored 2 or Gears 4, etc… Anyway keep up the great work man.

      • And you’re correct, I meant to post under the latest Pixles. Sorry! 😉

  3. On the topic about FN, i think the way you think is one of reasons why this political party grow up since long time:
    You explain to us that you trust french peoples, you think that lot of people dislike this party so it has no chance to win the second round.
    But this kind of argument is one of reason why this party grow up: we think they can’t win (famous “plafond de verre”) so all party are discussing/fighting against other political party program
    They forgive to read the new program, new proposals they are building…
    The second reason is based on first: because they don’t read/interest this opponent they only say about them “this racist political party” to avoid debates
    The third reason is using same ideas/same words than them (cf links in bottom of this comment)

    FN has lot of bad points, but forgiving to interest them is the best way to let them win elections..
    You have to listen to F Philippot and other guy like him: when they discuss on other topics than immigration, their arguments are rights and they win some point in debate.

    I think you followed the “primaires” you should have listen this points:
    During the first round:
    journalists ask some Sarkozy’s fan “if your man is not elected who can you vote for ?” and they answer for most of them “FN” because Sarkozy uses sames arguments
    and in the second round:
    A Juppe electors won’t vote to F Fillon they answer they dislike this kind of “droite”, they assimilate sarkozy/hortefeu/vauquiez and FN is the same basket.

    The problem i see is the number of candidates for this election

    On the left:
    – JL Melanchon
    – E Macron
    – winner of left primaires (7 men)

    On the right:
    – N Dupont-Aignan
    – H Guaino
    – R Yade
    – F Fillon (winner of the right primaires)

    On the “strong right” (only one)

    Depending what man will arrive in front of FN, i’m not optimist on results…

    To me only a “fresh” mind like JL Melanchon or E Macron should win this election in front of FN
    Because if this party is in the second round, this only means that peoples vote for an real change (as it happens for Brexit and Trump results).
    So i don’t think F Fillon with his “strong Tatcher-like” program should win: he scares lot of people..

    Sources/articles to explain my mind: CQFD

    • I think you’re mistaking my argument for that of more hysterical anti-FN people. I’m not an alarmist, and I didn’t call them racist (although, like Trump, they certainly have racist tendencies): I called them Nationalist, which is a fair description, especially considering it’s in their name. 🙂
      And what I’m saying is, we are more politically engaged, and maybe even reasonable, than people in the US. We have high voter turnout in every (presidential) election, and the victory of Fillon proves (IMO) that we can go for the “proper” candidate rather than the “dirty” one, which is a plus, considering the other two were playing more to impulsive voters, again IMO.
      Again, we’ll see what happens; if we see a PS vs FN in the second round, I’m not certain PS would win. I think they would, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I think it’s much more likely we’ll see a LR vs FN though, and in that case I don’t see the FN winning. Also, I think PS vs LR is still more likely than both of those.
      I guess we’ll see…

  4. I just got round to listening to this episode today. If I’m honest, I sometimes find the Phileas Club a little long-winded and occasionally delete it from my feed when an episode has been there for a month or more. Because of that I’ve hesitated supporting you on Patreon.

    However this episode tipped me over the edge – in a good way! In particular I found Eric’s comments on Taiwan and China really eye-opening. It’s easy when you’re so remote from such situations to jump to a conclusion without seeing the nuances of the situation – this really helped.

    I also heard (through his breaking up Internet connection), Eric’s points about France (I’m British so obviously I’m on his side about the French system being broken 😉 ) and slacktivism. I know it’s a small thing, but part of my response to the slacktivism thing was to become a Phileas Club Patron as well as raising my support for other things – I might not be changing the world in significant ways, but at least I’m contributing in material ways to things I think are positive influences on the world.

    Thanks and here’s to a less perplexing 2017!
    Alex – your newest Patron 🙂

    • Thank you so much for the patronage! And I’m really glad you enjoyed this episode. To be honest, the nature of the show makes it somewhat random in interest for different people. There are so many different topics and people and approaches, it can be a bit hit or miss sometimes, I fully admit that (and I need to work on it as well). But hopefully the good ones are good enough that it has enough overall value for listeners. I’ll do my best not to disappoint you! 🙂

  5. Eric Ramey says:

    I really enjoy the Phileas club, and want to thank you for spending the time to do this show. This is the first show I have listened to where I have a significant issue with the discussion.

    My biggest issue with the entire discussion of this “travel ban” is that I don’t think anyone has taken the 10 minutes to read the executive order (it is posted on along with all the other executive orders). I belive that if you take a couple of minutes to separate the implementation from the order itself, you might have a different perspective. I agree that the actions taken after the order was signed were way overboard, however I actually agree with much of what is in the executive order itself.

    All the confusion about the countries selected can easily be cleared up if someone would read the executive order. It clearly states that the list of countries was generated as a list of governments who do not provide reliable information to allow a sufficient degree of confidence in the background check which is being done. It doesn’t have to do with countries which are a threat, or where terrorists have originated, it has to do with the reliability of background checks from that country. The order also sets up a review of the list based on this criteria and revises it fairly frequently.

    Also, the religious aspect of the order does not exempt anyone. It states that when the ban is lifted those seeking to be refugees based on religious persecution who are in a minority religion in their home country will get priority processing. This is not an exemption it is a sorting of the list to move people to the top of the list who could be defined as being in greater danger.

    I enjoy your discussions a lot and hope you continue with this podcast for a long time in the future. I am definitely a conservative but I also want to hear opinions from all perspectives, and this show is a great tool in helping me to understand some of the other opinions and viewpoints which I am not exposed to on a regular basis.

    • Hey Eric, that’s a good point, and I have to confess that I hadn’t taken the time to read the actual order, thinking we understood it. On the specifics of those two points however, we struggled indeed. I have read the order now though, and I have to say, I might disappoint you, but I don’t think the substance of what we – or maybe I should just speak for myself, and say I – were saying would have changed.

      On the selection of the countries, they keep saying it’s to prevent terrorist attacks, and yet they don’t include any of the countries in which terrorists who attacked the united states were from. That would be somewhat understandable if the rationale was… well, rational, but they also, in the same breath, make a number of references to 9/11. That, to me, doesn’t pass the “hypocrisy” or “making sense” test. I understand the threats might have evolved, and the countries that you want to be wary of have changed, but if you’re that adamant and that forceful, this makes little sense, and the shadow of ulterior motive reasonably rears its head (not to mention the horror of closing the doors to refugees, who are fleeing the terror of war). And honestly, I don’t think “we’ll review it” counts for much in the present state of things. I mean, we have to discuss what we have, not the potential changes that might come in an indeterminate future… Don’t get me wrong, it’s important that it’s there (that list can’t be static, if it is to exist for a long time – which in itself is a chilling process), but I don’t think it’s that relevant to the current conversation.

      As to the religious exceptions, again, I don’t think the substance of what I was saying is changed: you are right that the exception applies after an initial period 120 days. But the exceptions ARE, no matter how anyone spins them, a way to get non-muslims through the net. “minority religion invoking religious persecution” is basically the same as “non-muslims”. It’s a (not so) clever way of saying the same thing, while (poorly) attempting to create plausible deniability. And while you are correct that this doesn’t apply during the initial 90 day ban (apologies for that inaccuracy), it should apply later, which is basically saying “they’re not being discriminatory now, but they’re doing what you were complaining about at a later stage”. I don’t think our discussion on the issue would have been substantially different.

      All that being said, again, I agree that we could have done a better job on the facts. It is difficult when we are not journalists and try to convey the feelings of people on the ground – as I said elsewhere, our job is not to convey the news, but to debate opinions between “normal” people – but it is true that this did a disservice to the show and our conversation.

      Point taken! Oh, and thanks for the support. 🙂

      • Eric Ramey says:

        I hadn’t been really investigating what they were saying about the order, Be just after posting this I talked to some friends and they showed me some of the comments coming out of the White House and I would agree based on how they describe it, you discussion was basically on point. Personally I think this is what disturbs me most about this administration so far, for someone who has been “in the media” Trump and his team really suck at picking the proper words for the situation. When I listened to the initial comment about crowd size it sounded to me like they were saying that when you combined all methods of seeing the inauguration it was the most viewed, but then they came out and persisted that the on site was the largest, if they had just said “sorry you misunderstood the statenent, we ment all viewing methods combined” it would have all ended there. I am getting worried thinking about what might be going on which is being missed because they are keeping everyone distracted arguing over crowd sizes, and temporary travel bans.

      • I think you’re hitting the nail on the head on why many people who were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt (myself included; I was really willing to see if President Trump would be more mature and collected than “crazy tweets” candidate Trump) are feeling burned “already”. Some people say “it’s only been three weeks, you’re being harsh early on”, but what we’ve seen in three weeks only isn’t really inspiring confidence…

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