The Colonial Pipeline: Prepare for the Unexpected

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Hello everyone! I would like to share this new commentary of mine that was recently published in The Hill and MSN among others. I hope everyone has enjoyed a safe Memorial Day weekend.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Michael R. Czinkota

     Music aficionados connect the month of May with Mozart’s minuet written as a five year old” komm lieber Mai und mache…,” but for many Americans this year the link came from a curtailment of gas It was reported that almost 80 percent of fuel depots in Virginia and North Carolina were running on empty. Lines of cars seeking gas quickly brought back eerie memories of the 1970s.

    That shortfall is said to stem from private sector adversaries who had successfully shut down the flow of liquid energy. The result was a major decline in distribution capacity, particularly of Colonial Pipeline. Evildoers apparently had employed software manipulations to severely disrupt fuel flow. They informed their targets that this ransomware disruption would prevent the flow of gas until a large payoff had been made. The amount ranged between 5 to 20 million dollars. Colonial could not reverse the impact. Payment was allegedly made, and the energy flow was slowly restored.

    A lack of gas sounds bad enough, but it may be only one of simultaneously appearing evils. If the action was meant to distract, what was the issue to be covered up? What nation gets the next turn? If this was just a preparation for future malfeasance, what obligations will arise and how costly will they be? When taking off shoes as a security precaution at an airport, it is not just the action that matters but rather the rationale and background that makes such actions necessary.  Research at Georgetown has clearly indicated that the long-term indirect effects of terrorism far outweigh the short-term direct ones. When combining all these cost factors one can conclude that somewhere someone is cooking our goose and we struggle to protect limited targets and save up the ransom money.

    We need to find and combat the culprits of such threats, and often it is us. With all our elegant computerization and artificial intelligence, we have largely lost control of management capabilities both at work and at home. At the same time, we are increasingly exposed to sudden shifts in our lives. We often work without backup with rising risk. Only five years ago, who would have prepared for a large and convenient “home office”? Many of us encounter a lack of clarity in communication that weakens our capabilities The Covid-based loss of one whole school year will offer serious repercussions for years to come.

    Here is a collateral damage example. My family went to dinner leading up to an outdoor performance. We had explained our plans well in advance, including the dinner timeline so that we would be punctual. The time came and went, but no hosts were in sight. We knocked on the kitchen door where we found waiters in distress. As they told us, the computer did not perform and they did not know how to directly deal with pricing, adding, and allocating meal expenses to guests. What a pity!

    We need an annual event devoted to catching up. That time would help us to see and test the shortfalls in our understanding of processes. Flipping a switch or pushing a button should alert the system that attention is needed. Those on the controls need to know why they have just undertaken a measure and what it does. We need to remember what we may have forgotten. We must recall with a personal, replicable event the rationale, causality, and linkages of our actions. Doing so will greatly strengthen our capabilities to plan, understand, and reduce risk exposure.

Socialism slows progress – by Michael Czinkota

My annual assessment of the intellectual and economic proximity between both the United States and Europe indicates ongoing disenchantment and a growing psychic distance from each other. Conditions have changed not all for the better, perhaps because of the thriving growth of socialist thinking. The public preference given to the group over the individual is dangerous to the quality of life in both regions.


England used to stand out for the views and perspectives by its educated experts on money and markets. Now they don’t know and don’t care. New announcements and shifts are just shrugged off or, worse yet, ignored. Refusing to think or getting involved is the equivalent of Sokrates’ poisoned hemlock cup – because conditions will not improve by themselves.


British institutions which label themselves as European need to re-think their position as to its meaning in times of Brexit.  Prime Minister Johnson may not defuse conflicts and polarization. How to help ship captains make a choice between the drowning migrants and personal jail time for their rescue? Are we all in the same boat? Even in theatre performances the audience and troupe performances have lost their traditional bite. 


Germany has a whole set of growing problems. I am not referring to the physical tremors of Chancellor Merkel. When standing is a problem she can sit. In the U.S., President Roosevelt served the country despite difficult illnesses, for more than three terms.

But I am concerned about the diminution of German ability to rely on its traditional strengths. When German intellectuals talk about U.S. policies there is very little well-formed reasoning, or even desire for input and learning. Rather, flash judgements and condemnations are made, remindful of the checking of boxes.

When the official airplanes of both the chancellor and the president repeatedly either can’t fly or must return to land right after takeoff, then the motto of “advancement through technology “does not fare very well. Misleading public information on air contamination by car diesel engines is a shameful event.  Failed technology to measure societal impact of government action is wasteful and inefficient. Expropriation of rental property owners will do little to increase the housing stock.


Increasingly, a sense of proportion and morality is missing. Take the case of Gustl Mollath who, was wrongfully placed in a psychiatric ward for more than seven years after complaining about banking irregularities.  Now,  government offers him a paltry compensation of less than $ 200,000. At the same time, the Deutsche Bank, provides publicly more than $ 10 million for ineffective managers to depart, and we don’t yet know about any additional hidden support. 


The Nordic countries have lots of goods available but few of them are thrilling. The food offered, for example, was surely healthy, but not appetizing. Drinks were hard to get, even at events where conviviality was the objective, not a byproduct. Big praise to the person who found and handed in my disappeared wallet. Thank you, Gary, from the West Coast!

European country governments regulate many things, issues and interactions, a form of localized socialism I suppose. But it means fewer and quite expensive taxis, no Ubers, little adjustment to changing conditions. New government thinking stresses more taxes. France, for example, tries to impose a new 3% tax on large digital companies.

Italy still has very good wines and beautiful bridges from Roman days, but roads are decaying, and modern bridges are crumbling. Speed and parsimony cannot be the only criterion for quality public projects. Modes of transport appear to be routinely under strike during times of heavy use. Austrian government leaders are caught on tape offering the wholesale transfer of government contracts.

People seem content but not driven or forward oriented. Many tasks are either left unfulfilled or waiting for foreign hands, which the both the public and the private sector appear to encourage.

Overarching governing by the European Union seems to be often haphazard, contradicting the desires of the citizens affected. Leadership selection often brings on candidates which govern in spite, not because of themselves. Will the new team of Ursula von der Leyen make its mark with a reduction of regulation? All in all, it’s great to be exposed to history, and remember the British Pound as world currency, Greek and Roma palazzo’s, Marie Antoinette’s cakes, and the Viking battles.. But for now, innovation, change and a forward-looking perspective give good future odds to America.

Prof. Czinkota (czinkotm@georgetown.edu) teaches International Business at Georgetown University and the University of Kent. His latest book is ‘In Search For The Soul Of International Business’, 2019, New York, Business Expert Press

Getting Closer with the U.S. on Trade Matter

Annäherung im Handelsstreit mit den USA

Der Handelskrieg zwischen den USA und der EU ist abgesagt. Ganz im Gegenteil wird über ein breites Handelsabkommen verhandelt. Das ist das überraschende Ergebnis des Besuchs von EU-Kommissionspräsident Jean-Claude Juncker bei US-Präsident Donald Trump. Beide Seiten haben etwas bekommen und auch schon einen gemeinsamen Gegner ausgemacht. Eine Einschätzung zu der plötzlichen Lösung gibt Michael Czinkota, Professor für internationale Handelsbeziehungen an der Georgetown University in Washington, im Journal-Interview.

Gestaltung: Robert Uitz-Dallinger, Andrea Maiwald

http://oe1.orf.at/player/20180726/520648/070820

Shopping is an important tourism and service activity in London. Of particular interest are the stores of Jermyn Street with their bespoke shops and their tailors.

Chatham House sets the rules for chats while accommodating many prime ministers