Submitted by Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Management
"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God,” pledged the 2.7mm young, courageous American soldiers that our Commanders-in-Chief sent to Iraq and Afghanistan Since 2001. Over 6,900 of them died there. Over 52,000 have been wounded. Bush, Obama and Trump spent over $6 trillion. 480,000 Iraqis, Afghanis and Pakistanis died, half civilians. Millions were displaced. Who is accountable? What are the consequences?
“This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” wrote one of Boeing’s employees, referring to their 737 Max. “I don't know how to fix these things... it’s systemic. It’s culture. It’s the fact we have a senior leadership team that understands very little about the business and yet are driving us to certain objectives,” wrote another. “I still haven't been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year. Can’t do it one more time, the pearly gates will be closed,” wrote another. Boeing is our mightiest manufacturing exporter. A symbol of American greatness. Boeing’s board held the CEO accountable, fired him. The consequence for the catastrophe of his leadership? He walked away with $61mm in compensation.
Carlos Ghosn held an absurd press conference to clear his name, having fled Japan in box barely big enough to contain his greed and shamelessness. Set against Adam Neumann’s $1.7bln golden parachute, Ghosn perhaps believes Japanese consequences are overly harsh.
You see, accountability and consequences are both relative things. The less we hold ourselves accountable, the less accountable we become. And the lower the consequences we face, the more outraged we come to be when faced with the slightest consequence.
Not a single person was held accountable for the 2008 debacle. Nor for Iraq/Afghanistan. Earth’s sixth mass extinction is underway, Australia is burning, no global leader wants to seriously be held accountable, or suffer consequences. America least so. And the Fed led global central banks to accommodate all the above with easy money. Their policies turbocharged the inequality that poisons politics in ways more powerful than any elected official could have ever done. Are they ever held to account?
This all matters because we head into America’s election. It is sure to be the most vitriolic in generations. Who will we hold accountable? What will be the market consequences?
America can assassinate anyone, anywhere, at almost any time with limited collateral damage. Few of our adversaries can. With today’s technology, we surely would’ve killed Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora in 2001 along with the senior Taliban leaders harboring him. We might’ve saved $6trln and 500k lives. Given that the US has this capability, might we rewrite the rules and adopt an assassination policy? Holding our adversaries to account, imposing a capital consequence when their leaders cross our Red Lines? Soleimani apparently thought the answer was no. How will our adversaries act in the future if they know they’re thus accountable?