Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

20 April 2017

Lessons from Hitler’s Rise

By Volker Ullrich, translated from the German by Jefferson Chase 

Supporters greeting Adolf Hitler as he arrived at the Berghof, his retreat at Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps, circa 1935

When the original German edition of Volker Ullrich’s new biography, Hitler: Ascent 1889–1939, was published in 2013, the current political situation in the United States was not remotely conceivable. The reception of a book often transcends the author’s intentions and the circumstances in which it was written, of course, but rarely so dramatically as in this case. In early 2017 it is impossible for an American to read the newly published English translation of this book outside the shadow cast by our new president. 

To begin I would stipulate emphatically that Trump is not Hitler and the American Republic in the early twenty-first century is not Weimar. There are many stark differences between both the men and the historical conditions in which they ascended to power. Nonetheless there are sufficient areas of similarity in some regards to make the book chilling and insightful reading about not just the past but also the present. 

19 April 2017

** Journey's End: Warsaw and Budapest A shift is emerging in Eastern Europe.

By George Friedman 

As I have mentioned previously, I spent the past couple of weeks in Europe. I completed my trip last week with a visit to Warsaw and Budapest. Both places are concerned with economic issues, resistance to the European Union’s claims on their sovereignty and, most importantly, their long-term national security. What was interesting in my meetings was the subtle shift in how Warsaw and Budapest now view their main threats.

For the Poles, the Russians have long been the major issue. They see the potential for a Russian move against the Baltic states and are deeply concerned about NATO’s military weakness. In their view, should the Russians decide to move decisively, only the Americans would be in a position to bring significant force to bear, and that force would take months to arrive. It is not that they are expecting an attack. But if an attack happens, it will most likely take place in the Baltics, and the Poles will bear the major burden of resistance. The Poles have made substantial efforts in building a military, but they will be unable to hold back the Russians alone. Given the Europeans’ weakness and United States’ distance from the region, they feel isolated.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán give a joint press conference at the parliament building in Budapest on Feb. 2, 2017. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

Targeted Killing: A New Departure for British Defence and Security Policy?

By Abigail Watson

The precipitating event is pretty clear: On 21 August 2015, Reyaad Khan – a UK citizen fighting for ISIS – was killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a British drone. The strike, which occurred months before the UK parliament formally OK’d the use of military force in Syria, subsequently led to prolonged debates about the legal basis for targeting one’s own citizens outside of a warzone, parliamentary oversight and government transparency. As Abigail Watson describes here, these debates haven’t been resolved.

This article was originally published by the Oxford Research Group’s Remote Control Project on 28 March 2017.

Summary

On 21st August 2015, Reyaad Khan – a UK citizen fighting for ISIS – was killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a UK drone1 in an operation possibly supported by UK Special Forces.2 This strike occured months before parliamentary approval of the use of military force in Syria, which was not given until December that year, and seemed to mark the first time the UK had undertaken a lethal strike that was outside of a war the UK was militarily involved in.

The then-Prime Minister David Cameron announced the strike as a “new departure”3 for British defence and security policy to a surprised Parliament, who were keen to understand both how the strike had occurred when they had voted against UK military engagement in Syria in August 2013 (and once again in September 2014 when they approved the use of force in Iraq but explicitly refused to extend operations to Syria)4, and on what basis the government had approved the use of lethal force against one of its own citizens abroad.

Unfortunately, the statements that followed from Cameron, the Permanent Representative to the UN (Matthew Rycroft) and the Secretary of State for Defence (Michael Fallon) were both “confused and confusing”5, making it hard to assess how “new” or how controversial this strike was. For example, Cameron claimed that the strike was the first time that “a British asset has been used to conduct a strike in a country where we are not involved in a war,”6 and was taken in self-defence.7 This would be hugely significant, as it would mean that the UK has joined the US in conducting targeted strikes against terrorist threats in areas where it is not at war – raising important questions about where you draw the line on when states can and cannot use lethal force. However, Rycroft’s, statement to the UN also justified the strike on the basis of the collective defence of Iraq.8

16 April 2017

EU, NATO opens center to combat info warfare

By Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell

HELSINKI (Reuters) — Several European Union and NATO member nations on Tuesday signed up to establish a center in Helsinki to research how to tackle tactics such as cyberattacks, propaganda and disinformation.

The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania signed the memorandum of understanding for the membership, and more countries are due to come on board in July.

Host Finland — a militarily nonaligned EU member — has an 800-mile border with Russia, which has been accused of mounting so-called hybrid campaigns in the Ukraine conflict as well as of interfering in the U.S. presidential election.

Russia has denied interfering in the vote.

The center will be based in Helsinki and will form a network of experts for the participating countries. A steering group is due to hold its first meeting Wednesday. It is expected to have a team of 10 people working there by later this year.

Putin And Erdogan: Addicted To Power


Absolute power is both reviled and revered. Most in the West will look aghast at blatant power grabs, smirk at narcissistic acts of self-promotion and regularly admonish leaders engaging in tyrannical behavior. But many others will just as easily look in awe at a leader who embodies sheer power.

When a country's politics have been more volatile than just, people will more naturally crave a leader who oozes confidence and manifests strength. They will more willfully submit to propaganda, wanting to neither see nor hear stories of evil that can tarnish the image they hold of their protector.

Graphic Above: Not only do the pasts and motivations of the Russian and Turkish leaders have a great deal in common, but their geopolitical destinies are also deeply intertwined. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

This dichotomy defines two highly consequential leaders of our time: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, two men who not only have pasts and motivations with a great deal in common, but whose geopolitical destinies are also deeply intertwined.

Born With a Vengeance

Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance, but if you injure them greatly they are unable to retaliate, so that the injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared. 

EU, NATO countries kick off center to counter 'hybrid' threats



Several EU and NATO countries on Tuesday signed up to establish a center in Helsinki to research how to tackle tactics such as cyber attacks, propaganda and disinformation. 

The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania signed the Memorandum of Understanding for the membership, and more countries are due to come on board in July. 

Host Finland - a militarily non-aligned EU member - has a 1,300-km (800-mile) border with Russia, which has been accused of mounting so-called hybrid campaigns in the Ukraine conflict as well as of interfering in the U.S. presidential election. 

Russia has denied interfering in the vote. 

The center will be based in Helsinki and will form a network of experts for the participating countries. A steering group is due to hold its first meeting on Wednesday. It is expected to have a team of 10 people working there by later this year. 

"The center is a real boost for the cooperation between the EU and NATO ... Hybrid activities have become a permanent part of the European security environment," Finland's Foreign Minister Timo Soini told a news conference. 

Finland last year voiced concern about what it sees as an intensifying propaganda attack against it by the Kremlin. Germany has also reported a rise in Russian disinformation campaigns and targeted cyber attacks. 

15 April 2017

*** Putin and Erdogan: Addicted to Power

By Reva Goujon

Absolute power is both reviled and revered. Most in the West will look aghast at blatant power grabs, smirk at narcissistic acts of self-promotion and regularly admonish leaders engaging in tyrannical behavior. But many others will just as easily look in awe at a leader who embodies sheer power. When a country's politics have been more volatile than just, people will more naturally crave a leader who oozes confidence and manifests strength. 

They will more willfully submit to propaganda, wanting to neither see nor hear stories of evil that can tarnish the image they hold of their protector.

This dichotomy defines two highly consequential leaders of our time: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, two men who not only have pasts and motivations with a great deal in common, but whose geopolitical destinies are also deeply intertwined.

Born With a Vengeance

"Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance, but if you injure them greatly they are unable to retaliate, so that the injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared."

— Niccolo Machiavelli

Putin and Erdogan were born — and rule — with a vengeance rooted in their personal and national upbringings.

14 April 2017

** Europe and U.S. Move to Fight Russian Hybrid Warfare

BY REID STANDISH, EMILY TAMKIN

On Tuesday, Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, a sign of just how seriously world leaders are taking Moscow’s attempts at destabilizing Europe.

Since the annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of war in eastern Ukraine in 2014, things have gotten tense between Moscow and the West: Russian jets have probed Finnish and Swedish airspace; a barrage of Russian disinformation has targeted Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; and France, Germany, and the United States have all accused the Kremlin of interfering in their domestic politics. It’s part of Russia’s embrace of so-called “hybrid war,” or the use of politics, diplomacy, the media, and cyberspace to destabilize opponents without necessarily having to resort to tanks and artillery.

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The combination of military posturing and disinformation has become the backbone of Moscow’s modern day military doctrine as it tries to reassert itself along its borders and beyond. Violations and provocations near borders are meant to test a neighbor’s resolve, while information attacks are meant to inflame internal problems and sow discord. Other operations, such as Russia’s cybermeddling in the U.S. election, were meant to boost Donald Trump, who as a candidate denigrated NATO, the European Union, and the liberal international order.

Sweden’s Wisdom on Terrorism

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven of Sweden paying his respects to those killed in the terrorist attack in Stockholm last week. CreditOdd Andersen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Each terrorist attack tests anew the values of openness and tolerance essential to free societies. Stockholm became the scene of another such attack on Friday when a barreling truck was turned, yet again, into a deadly weapon. This time four were killed and 15 were injured.

Though details are still being investigated, the attacker was apparently an Uzbek man who had been denied asylum and ordered to leave Sweden. This will no doubt add grist to the arguments of those — the autocrat Viktor Orban, the French right-wing presidential candidate Marine Le Pen — who conflate terrorists with immigrants in search of a better life and refugees fleeing deadly conflict.

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13 April 2017

Game Theory Strategy For UK Winning The BrExit War

By Nadeem Walayat

BrExit is the latest big story for the people of Britain to believe in, a story that has split the population in half between the Remainer's and the Leavers. The BrExit vote was a reaction to the slow dissolution of what was once the world’s most powerful nation into just another bolt on to the European Union Superstate.

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For Leavers BrExit is seen as a last ditched effort for Britain to resurrect its golden age. So whilst you read part 2 of my comprehensive BrExit analysis, remember that BrExit is just the latest story built on past stories of glory and it won't be too long before we all move onto the next big story, as that is what humans do best, tell stories and believe them to be true, be they religious, political, social, personal, ethnic or economic stories. But today's story is BrExit.

Also remember to read part 1 which covers the BrExit game that the European Union is likely to play, one of attempting to use the Scottish Nationalists as pawns in a proxy war to undermine Britain's bargaining position during BrExit.

Sounds very romantic like sailing off into the sunset, with the likes of China and India expected to give Britain favourable trade deals. Though I suspect are planning their own Trojan horses to take advantage of a weak and desperate Britain.

12 April 2017

*** Brexit's Potential to Fracture the U.K.


The independence movement in Scotland stands to gain momentum from the Brexit. (JEFF J. MITCHELL/Getty Images)
Analysis

Splitting from the European Union will inevitably strain the United Kingdom's territorial integrity. Those pushing for Scotland and Northern Ireland to secede from the United Kingdom are using Brexit to justify their agendas. Brexit will also open a debate between the central government in London and the country's devolved governments about who will control the powers that will be repatriated from Brussels. With authority over policy areas such as agriculture, fisheries, industry and the environment returning to the United Kingdom after Brexit, the administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will push London to transfer many of those attributions to them.

The United Kingdom has a devolution system, according to which different policy powers from the United Kingdom's Parliament have been transferred to assemblies in Cardiff and Belfast, and to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. The system was created to acknowledge the United Kingdom's distinctive cultures and identities. So in addition to the negotiations it faces to determine its status after it departs the European Union, the central government must also prepare for the issues that will arise among the United Kingdom's constituent countries.

11 April 2017

*** A shift is emerging in Eastern Europe.

By George Friedman

As I have mentioned previously, I spent the past couple of weeks in Europe. I completed my trip last week with a visit to Warsaw and Budapest. Both places are concerned with economic issues, resistance to the European Union’s claims on their sovereignty and, most importantly, their long-term national security. What was interesting in my meetings was the subtle shift in how Warsaw and Budapest now view their main threats.

For the Poles, the Russians have long been the major issue. They see the potential for a Russian move against the Baltic states and are deeply concerned about NATO’s military weakness. In their view, should the Russians decide to move decisively, only the Americans would be in a position to bring significant force to bear, and that force would take months to arrive. It is not that they are expecting an attack. But if an attack happens, it will most likely take place in the Baltics, and the Poles will bear the major burden of resistance. The Poles have made substantial efforts in building a military, but they will be unable to hold back the Russians alone. Given the Europeans’ weakness and United States’ distance from the region, they feel isolated.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán give a joint press conference at the parliament building in Budapest on Feb. 2, 2017. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

The Hungarians have taken a different view of the situation. They too distrust the Russians, having also lived through occupation. But they know that the Europeans are weak and the Americans are far away. Therefore, the Hungarian solution is to try to reach an understanding with the Russians. Hungary tries to reassure the Russians that its poses no threat by using the distance that former President Barack Obama’s administration created with Hungary as a guarantee to Russia. The United States under Obama was hostile to the Hungarian government for what it saw as human rights violations and what the Hungarian government saw as national self-determination. In either event, the result was that Hungary, alienated from the U.S. and distrustful of Russia, could show the Russians that Budapest should not be on Moscow’s radar.

On this visit, however, I noticed a subtle shift. The Hungarians, who had feigned their lack of concern about the Russians, were much less concerned. More surprisingly, so were the Poles. The primary reason is Russia’s long-term economic reality. With oil at $50 a barrel and no end in sight to Moscow’s economic problems, Russia’s ability to modernize its military is limited. Under any circumstances, the Russians will need more than two years to retrieve their military from its decline. The threat from the east is not gone, but it is diminished enough to look to other concerns and ways to protect this region from external threats.

One idea that was raised infrequently but authoritatively was replacing the Intermarium strategy with the Three Seas strategy, which includes the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas. I have often written about the Intermarium. It begins with the assumption that Europe will not protect its eastern borders against a Russian threat. Therefore, Eastern European countries are left to their own capabilities and a distant United States. If they act separately, the Russians will pick them off. Therefore, an alliance must be formed from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, consisting of the Baltic countries, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. In its most logical form, it would include Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. That would contain most of European Russia.

I also predicted that Turkey would emerge as a major regional power. Given Turkey’s instability since the attempted coup, many would argue that this is no longer possible. In my view, the consequences of the coup attempt open the door to a more powerful Turkey. The country has had to address the reconciliation of its secular and Muslim population. This will not be a pleasant reconciliation, but the intent is to create a Turkey in which the huge secular and Muslim populations can forge a country together. Since that will not happen easily, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is now in a position to try to compel it.

Regardless of my view, I got the sense, particularly in Hungary and in Romania during past trips, that they see a significant increase in Turkish power, which they perceive as a threat to the region. This leads to the idea of a Three Seas alliance. This initiative would expand the Intermarium concept by focusing on Turkey in addition to Russia. In some scenarios, the alliance would be extended westward to include the Czech Republic and even Austria. More importantly, this alliance would stretch southward into the Balkans.

The immediate motivation seems to be to create a force that could block the movement of Syrian refugees through the Balkans and into the rest of Europe. But the concept goes somewhat further. It seems Turkey is acquiring a desire to spread its power in several directions: south into the Arab world, west into the Mediterranean and northwest into the Balkans. This mirrors the Ottoman Empire, which did not extend into these regions by accident. When Turkey is a great power, geography causes it to expand this way.

Another concern underlying this alliance is that Turkey might use its commercial relations with Balkan countries that have large Muslim populations – particularly Albania and Bosnia – to create a political base in the region. If this were to happen, the Turks would have many potential options. For Hungary, which spent a century under Turkish domination and has a sense of history where centuries are mere days, this is a real threat. But the Poles also seem to share in this fear.

In the Three Seas strategy, Eastern European countries would shift from a passive stance waiting for Russian moves, to an active one of trying to integrate the Balkans into their alliance. This would draw in the Russians – allies of the Serbs – just as the Turks press their incursion. Russians, Turks and a region that roughly resembles the Habsburg Empire mixing it up in the Balkans is an old story with consistently bad endings.

The entire discussion in the region is theoretical. And since the core Intermarium hasn’t taken shape yet, with Hungary being particularly wary of it as an anti-Russian grouping, we can for the moment class this as geopolitical speculation. The view I took before is the one I take now: Such a group will emerge, but we are still at least a decade from it and, for that matter, from a Turkey ready to become a regional power. It has to settle many things internally before then.

However, there is a ferment in the region, and it is driven by the European Union’s weakening and Russia’s perceived decline. Eastern Europe countries have lost confidence that the Europeans will take risks on their behalf. They worry about Russia, but not quite as much as before. And they note how far the Turks, sitting at the table with Russia and the United States, have already come.

The major question is the American position. At the moment, the U.S. is hanging back from increasing foreign involvements and supporting this emerging concept is not on the table. Nor is it on the table for countries in the region. But the discussion’s evolution and what it tells us about Eastern Europe’s view of the world are noteworthy. The region is in many ways a hyper-sensitive seismograph of geopolitical shifts.

*** Journey's End: Warsaw and Budapest

Friedman's Weekly
By George Friedman

A shift is emerging in Eastern Europe.

As I have mentioned previously, I spent the past couple of weeks in Europe. I completed my trip last week with a visit to Warsaw and Budapest. Both places are concerned with economic issues, resistance to the European Union’s claims on their sovereignty and, most importantly, their long-term national security. What was interesting in my meetings was the subtle shift in how Warsaw and Budapest now view their main threats.

For the Poles, the Russians have long been the major issue. They see the potential for a Russian move against the Baltic states and are deeply concerned about NATO’s military weakness. In their view, should the Russians decide to move decisively, only the Americans would be in a position to bring significant force to bear, and that force would take months to arrive. It is not that they are expecting an attack. But if an attack happens, it will most likely take place in the Baltics, and the Poles will bear the major burden of resistance. The Poles have made substantial efforts in building a military, but they will be unable to hold back the Russians alone. Given the Europeans’ weakness and United States’ distance from the region, they feel isolated.

10 April 2017

* How Norway is Transforming its Armed Forces

SIGURD NEUBAUER

At a time of increasing global uncertainty, the Norwegian government is in the process of upgrading its Armed Forces – across the various services – as outlined in a Ministry of Defense white paper, The Long Term Plan, or LTP, which was released in June 2016.

The LTP builds on the recognition that NATO and the transatlantic security community remain the cornerstone of Norwegian security and defense policy. As part of that effort, Norway is in the process of making significant military upgrades. By purchasing mostly U.S. state-of-the-art military technologies for its across-the-board defense upgrades, Oslo intends to use its enhanced capacities to remain relevant for NATO, as it seeks to provide cutting edge intelligence and situational awareness of the North Atlantic region.

The white paper also serves as a necessary correction that reverses decades of underfunding of the Armed Forces. It represents a historic increase in defense spending. In total, the government recommended increased funding over the course of the coming 20 years of $18.7 billion.

While the government implemented the LTP, it reached an historic agreement in October 2016 with Washington to host 330 U.S. Marines at the Værnes Air Station in central Norway. Under the agreement, the Marines arrived in January 2017 as part of the Marine Rotational Force-Europe, a program that temporarily bases U.S. troops with NATO partners in order to improve joint interoperability and boost the alliance’s ability to respond quickly to crises. Their arrival is not linked to the LTP, but the Marines will inevitably provide symbolic protection against any security gaps that may arise while Norway carries out the ambitious transformation of its Armed Forces.

9 April 2017

* Hungary’s Challenge to Trump

ROBERT D. KAPLAN

The Administration should fight to preserve Central European University. It’s a rare case where ethics and geopolitics are on the same side.

Ashoe has dropped in Europe. A small shoe, but one with a loud bang on a marble floor. The government of pro-Russian populist Viktor Orban in Hungary has introduced legislation that threatens to end the academic freedom of Central European University in Budapest, a private American-Hungarian graduate institution founded in 1991 by the Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros. The University’s president, Michael Ignatieff, and his network of allies at Oxford and elsewhere in the liberal humanist elite world, will present this potentially tragic affair as a threat to the Western ideal itself. And they are not exaggerating. I would go further, though. Orban’s attempt to place his neo-authoritarian paws on the school is, in a larger sense, a geopolitical event.

Yes, Orban has been expanding government control for years already in many directions: in the media, in the courts, and so forth. But there is a new geopolitical context afoot. The United States has elected a President, Donald Trump, with an avowed transactional approach to Russian relations, shorn of the historical and moral obligations that America has traditionally felt towards Europe since World War II. Trump’s right-hand man in the White House, Steve Bannon, has even championed the cause of anti-European populists in Western Europe of the Orban-Putin mold. Elements of the new Administration are assumed to have had untoward and perhaps compromising ties with the Kremlin. Moreover, Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has no experience in public policy whatsoever and his only moral obligations in the past have been to shareholders at Exxon. Orban knows all this. He knows, too, that Soros, a philanthropist to Democratic Party causes with few equals, is no friend of Trump, to put it mildly. In sum, this is a power grab that Orban must think he can easily get away with.

8 April 2017

** Brexit's Potential to Fracture the U.K.


Analysis

Splitting from the European Union will inevitably strain the United Kingdom's territorial integrity. Those pushing for Scotland and Northern Ireland to secede from the United Kingdom are using Brexit to justify their agendas. Brexit will also open a debate between the central government in London and the country's devolved governments about who will control the powers that will be repatriated from Brussels. With authority over policy areas such as agriculture, fisheries, industry and the environment returning to the United Kingdom after Brexit, the administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will push London to transfer many of those attributions to them.

The United Kingdom has a devolution system, according to which different policy powers from the United Kingdom's Parliament have been transferred to assemblies in Cardiff and Belfast, and to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. The system was created to acknowledge the United Kingdom's distinctive cultures and identities. So in addition to the negotiations it faces to determine its status after it departs the European Union, the central government must also prepare for the issues that will arise among the United Kingdom's constituent countries.

An Independence Push in Scotland

7 April 2017

Royal Navy 'far weaker' than it was during Falklands War


Laura Hughes

Britain's Royal Navy is substantially weaker than it was during the Falklands War but could still "cripple" Spain, military experts have said.

Rear-Adml Chris Parry, a former director of operational capability at the Ministry of Defence, has called on the Government to "appropriately" invest in Britain's military capacity if it wants to "talk big" over Gibraltar. 

It came as a former Tory leader suggested that Theresa May would go to war with Spain to defend the sovereignty of the peninsular just as Margaret Thatcher did with the Falklands.

Lord Howard said the Prime Minister will stand by Gibraltar during Brexit talks amid claims of an EU “land grab” for the territory. 

As the Government moved to retake the Falkland Islands from Argentina in 1982, the Royal Navy had no fewer than 127 ships — including 60 destroyers and frigates and a dozen nuclear attack submarines - as well as two major amphibious ships and three aircraft carriers.

5 April 2017

The Case for a European Nuke

By Doug Bandow

Europe is feeling a bit abandoned these days. Used to regular reassurances from Washington on its commitment to transatlantic security, European leaders are now shifting their defense strategies in response to mixed signals from President Donald Trump on the United States’ role in NATO. Even Secretary of Defense James Mattis has come down hard on the alliance, demanding that Europe “show its support for our common defense” or else Washington would alter the nature of their partnership. Worried Europeans, however, may be slightly comforted by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s decision to attend a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting on March 31, after originally planning to miss the gathering.

Fear that the United States might not live up to its promises, especially to the alliance’s eastern members, has led to a modest uptick in European conventional military outlays, which rose 0.5 percent in 2015 and 3.8 percent in 2016 year in real terms. This is not enough to transform the balance of power, but it is a notable shift. Growing alarm that Europe might end up on its own against Russia has also led to the previously unmentionable idea of developing Europe-wide nuclear deterrence.

Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its support for separatists in the Donbass have reminded NATO’s old Europe members that the organization is a military alliance, not an international social club. When NATO extended membership to the Baltic states, few policymakers believed the alliance’s Article 5 promise of mutual security would one day be invoked. Today, they are wondering how they would defend the vulnerable countries without the United States.

4 April 2017

** The Brexit Has Begun: Now What?


Until now, the Brexit had mostly been a succession of public statements, declarations of intent, veiled threats and wishful thinking. But today, the British government made the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union manifest by officially invoking Article 50 of the EU treaty and delivering formal notification of its departure from the Continental bloc, the first member ever to do so. This started the clock on negotiations over the terms of the divorce and their future relationship, which will leave both the United Kingdom and the European Union considerably changed.

After months of buildup, the early weeks of the Brexit process will be rather unremarkable. Before conversations between the two sides can start, the European Union will have to define its own negotiation strategy. The bloc's remaining 27 members will spend the coming weeks discussing their priorities for the negotiations before holding a summit on April 29 and giving the European Commission a mandate to negotiate with London on their behalf. The first topics of the Brexit negotiations will probably include Britain's financial obligations to the European Union (the "EU bill," which by some estimates could total up to 60 billion euros, or $65 billion), as well as the rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom and of British citizens living on the Continent.

31 March 2017

Islam and the Jihad in London

by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY

It’s not non-Western. It’s anti-Western. 

It was a careful choice of words, Bernard Lewis being nothing if not careful. In 2004, the West audibly gasped when its preeminent scholar of Islam famously told the German newspaper Die Welt,“Europe will be Islamic by the end of the century,” if not sooner. 

Listen carefully. He did not say that Muslims will be the majority population in what is still recognizably Europe. No, Professor Lewis said “Europe will be Islamic.” 

We are not talking about Muslims here. We are talking about Islam. Lots of individual Muslims desire peaceful coexistence, even assimilation. But Islam’s aim is to prevail. So, yet again this week, Lewis’s foreboding has been brought to the fore by a jihadist mass-murder attack, this time in London. 

As we go to press, five innocent people are dead after Khalid Masood, a terrorist acting on unambiguous scriptural commands to war against non-Muslims, rammed his rental Hyundai SUV into dozens of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, many of them tourists taking in the iconic views of Parliament. About 50 people suffered injuries, some of them grave, so the death toll may yet rise.