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

28 May 2017

*** Manchester, Political Upheaval, and the Desertion of the Global Left

By Peter Zeihan

A terror attack in the United Kingdom May 23 killed at least 22, and injured dozens more. As the attack targeted a youth pop concert, a high proportion of the deaths were among children and teenagers. United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May immediately cancelled all her ruling Tory Party’s campaign events — national elections are June 8 — so her government could focus on the crisis. The country’s other parties quickly followed suit.

As of yesterday, the Tories had this election locked up to the degree that a generational shift in UK politics was in the offing. If the polls are accurate, the Tories would have eaten deeply into the holdings of other parties not just in England, but in Wales and Scotland as well. Ongoing Brexit talks have justified and energized the Brits separate-and-superior mindset, and Theresa May has been using that energy to reshape the UK political space. That means, among other things, the British Labour party moving into the political wilderness, the de facto absorption of the anti-EU UK Independence party into the Tories, the Liberal Democrats’ return to the fringes of British power, and the evisceration of the Scottish National Party’s stronghold on Scottish politics and an end (for now) of talk of Scottish independence.

27 May 2017

** Why The Decline Of Europe's Center-Left Matters

by Adriano Bosoni

The leaders of the European Union are breathing sighs of relief. Elections in France and the Netherlands resulted in the defeat of candidates who threatened to upset European integration. In Germany, where general elections are upcoming, the far-right is internally divided and weak, and while nationalist and Euroskeptic forces in Italy and Austria are polling well, centrists still have a chance to retain power.

The resilience of moderate forces has been a cause for celebration in Brussels and other European capitals. However, their successes cannot hide a significant fact: The European center-left is in crisis. Some of the Continent’s largest social democratic parties, which were instrumental in the establishment of stable political systems and prosperous economies over the past seven decades, are struggling to remain relevant today. Their weakness could create fertile ground for virulent social and political crises in the future.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

by Jonathan Masters
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a cornerstone of transatlantic security during the Cold War, has significantly recast its role in the past twenty years. Founded in 1949 as a bulwark against Soviet aggression, NATO has evolved to confront threats ranging from piracy off the Horn of Africa to maritime security in the Mediterranean. But Russian actions in recent years, particularly its 2014 intervention in Ukraine, have refocused the alliance's attention on the continent. Recent developments have also exposed unresolved tensions over NATO's expansion into the former Soviet sphere.

A Post–Cold War Pivot

After the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, Western leaders intensely debated the future direction of the transatlantic alliance. President Bill Clinton's administration favored expanding NATO to both extend its security umbrella to the east and consolidate democratic gains in the former Soviet bloc. On the other hand, some U.S. officials wished to peel back the Pentagon's commitments in Europe with the fading of the Soviet threat.

Hey, NATO, Let’s Move Those 50 US Thermonuclear Weapons Out of Turkey


Why risk it? Even if NATO wants the nukes in Europe, Erdogan’s unstable regime is 68 miles from Syria, the hottest conflict zone on earth. 

When President Donald Trump and other heads of state meet at this week’s NATO Summit it might be a good time to discuss the wisdom of keeping 50 U.S. thermonuclear weapons in Turkey, just 70 miles from Syria, the most intense combat zone on the planet.

Each of the B61 gravity bombs stored at Incirlik Air Base, 68 miles from the Syrian border have a maximum yield of 170 kilotons, or 10 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. But these bombs also have a “dial-a-yield” capability that allows them to be set to explode at various levels, down to less than one kiloton of force. They are the vestige of the thousands of battlefield weapons once deployed by the United States and the Soviet Union to wage nuclear war in Europe. Almost all have been withdrawn from deployment except these at Incirlik and approximately 100 other B-61’s stored at NATO bases in Belgium, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands.

26 May 2017

After the Manchester Terror Attack: What Comes Next?

Freddy Gray

President Donald Trump has emerged as an unlikely source of comfort for many Brits today. America’s commander in chief is widely regarded here, as everywhere else, as a dangerous fool—yet his response to last night’s terrorist attack at a pop concert in Manchester, in the north of England, has been well received by shocked and saddened Britons. “We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom,” he said. “So many young beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers, because that’s what they are. They are losers. And we will have more of them. But they are losers, just remember that.”

25 May 2017

Britain says it’s ‘likely’ attacker had accomplices as focus turns to his Libya visits

Griff Witte, Karla Adam and Souad Mekhennet
May 24, 2017
MANCHESTER, England — Britain’s top domestic security official said Wednesday it was “likely” that the bomber who killed 22 people at a concert on Monday night was not acting alone, a day after the nation’s threat level was raised and the military deployed to guard public events.
In an interview with the BBC, Home Secretary Amber Rudd did not provide details of who suspect Salman Abedi may have been working with when he detonated explosives in an attack that targeted teenage concertgoers, but she said security services — which had been aware of Abedi “up to a point” before the bombing — are focusing on his visits to Libya, at least one of which was very recent.

Her French counterpart, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, told broadcaster BFMTV that Abedi may have also gone to Syria, and had “proven” links with Islamic State.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tuesday night announcement, which takes Britain’s alert level from “severe” to its highest rating, “critical,” clears the way for thousands of British troops to take to the streets and replace police officers in guarding key sites.
May announced the move after chairing an emergency meeting of her security cabinet and concluding that Abedi may have been part of a wider network that is poised to strike again. The decision, she said, was “a proportionate and sensible response to the threat that our security experts judge we face.”

On Wednesday, British Parliament announced that “due to the raised national security threat” all public tours would be stopped, with immediate effect. The Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace — a popular tourist attraction — was also cancelled.
The worst terrorist attack on British soil in over a decade was carried out by a British-born son of Libyan immigrants who was born and raised a short drive from the concert hall that he transformed from a scene of youthful celebration into a tableau of horror.

20 May 2017

The Ten Main Defense Challenges Facing Macron´s France

by the War on the Rocks,

OK, so what are going to be President Macron’s primary security challenges? According to Jean-Baptiste Vilmer, they include 1) funding France’s growing defense needs; 2) adapting or replacing Operation Sentinelle, the domestic protection program put in place after the 2015 terrorist attacks; 3) renewing two component’s of France’s nuclear forces; 4) confronting Russia’s “strategies of influence”; 5) preserving Euro-Atlantic unity, and much more. 

Emmanuel Macron will be the next president of France. For the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic (since 1958), both final candidates were outside the bipolar, mainstream left-right party system. The winner, France’s youngest-ever president, has never held elected office before, and is not a member of any political party. That is indeed a political “revolution” — the title of his campaign book.

Now is the time to consider the main defense challenges France will face with Macron at the helm. Although the unexpected twists and turns of recent history demand a certain humility when making forecasts, one can still wager that geopolitics will remain eventful over the next five years. Below are the ten main defense challenges, in no particular order, that await the presidency of Macron.



Varoufakis is the former Greek finance minister (January to August 2015) who became infamous for his unconventional style when he led his country’s debt negotiations with the European establishment. He is, it is fair to say, a very polarizing figure: Like Russell Brand, he is loquacious and loves peacocking. Like Donald Trump, he is arrogant and narcissistic. But he is also a well-regarded economics professor and self-confessed Marxist.

Hence, we are obliged to pay attention and Adults in the Room does not disappoint. It is a fascinating insight on a host of levels: From an international politics point of view, it really challenges those old political debates of who is in charge of a country. And what are the real intentions during political decision-making?

Varoufakis begins his story in a Washington meeting with Larry Summers, the former secretary of the treasury. Summers asks him point blank: Do you want to be on the inside or the outside? “Outsiders prioritise their freedom to speak their version of the truth,” Summers explained, “The price is that they are ignored by the insiders, who make the important decisions.”

18 May 2017

BrexitUnited Kingdom Theresa May's Gamble

By Andrew Gawthorpe

Since her sudden and unexpected call last month for a general election in June, British Prime Minister Theresa May has managed to shed the reputation for indecisiveness that has dogged her since she took power from David Cameron last fall. Also contributing to public perceptions of her strength, she has gone on the attack against the European Union, handily manufacturing a spat by accusing Brussels of seeking to tip the election against her by leaking details of a tense conversation she had recently had with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at a private dinner. As can be expected, the admixture of nationalist posturing to political combat has proven intoxicating. The woman once nicknamed “Theresa Maybe” has now been recast by the press as the reincarnation of Boudicca, a warrior queen who led ancient Britons in a revolt against Roman occupation.

All signs point to a dramatic victory for May’s Conservative Party in the upcoming election, scheduled to take place on June 8. Many observers hope that an increased parliamentary majority will free May from the right wing of her own party, which is pushing for the United Kingdom to drive what many consider an unrealistically hard bargain in its negotiations with Brussels. With such voices sidelined, she would be able to make compromises with the EU that will mitigate the damage of its departure. Apparently anticipating just such a result, money markets have grown more optimistic about the United Kingdom since the election was announced.

15 May 2017

Europe’s Migration Dilemmas

By Michael S. Teitelbaum

Over the 60 years since the creation of what is now the European Union, the aspirations of its founders have mostly been achieved. No disasters akin to the catastrophic violence and political collapses of the first half of the twentieth century have occurred within the EU, which has instead enjoyed decades of stability and prosperity.

Since around the turn of the century, however, the union’s problems have been growing: sluggish overall economic growth accompanied by deep recessions and high unemployment in some member states; instabilities in the euro; and growing criticism of the alleged democratic deficits of EU institutions. These and other challenges have given rise to anti-EU forces across the continent, exposing the conflict between many Europeans’ hopes for deeper integration and many others’ aspirations toward national identity, sovereignty, and independence.

In early 2015, as the European migrant crisis emerged, most EU leaders failed to understand how their responses to it would add to the bloc’s existing problems. Few anticipated that razor-wire fences would reappear along Europe’s internal borders; that the Islamic State (ISIS) would take advantage of chaotic refugee flows to send some of its militants into Europe; that polarizing cultural clashes would follow from such episodes as the mass sexual assaults in German cities committed in December 2015; or that a leading cause of the 2016 British vote to exit the EU would prove to be the union’s immigration entitlements for non-British nationals. Migration and the policies used to address it have widened the fissures afflicting the European project.

Three 'Black Holes' Facing NATO: Strategy, Russia, Weapons

by Harlan Ullman, United Press International

Black holes are not merely matters of physics. Strategic black holes may be even more confounding than those found in deep space. NATO, thus far history's most successful military alliance, currently must deal with three of them. The likelihood that this venerable alliance will do so is far from certain.

The first black hole regards strategy. Russian intervention into Ukraine and seizure of Crimea were chastening and frightening. So too, Russian "active measures" are roiling politics on both sides of the Atlantic. Russian engagement in Syria has sustained the diabolical regime of Bashar al-Assad. And Russia has become far more visible in Libya and the Persian Gulf.

While NATO has created new strategic concepts to deal with the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union, its last real strategic revision was the Harmel Report of 1967. Led by Belgian Foreign Minister Pierre Harmel, his commission was charged with confronting the threat of Soviet increases in both nuclear and conventional weaponry and Charles De Gaulle's decision to eject NATO from Paris, leaving the military side of the alliance. The result was a shift from reliance solely on nuclear deterrence to a strategy of flexible response to deny Moscow advantages at all levels of the conflict spectrum…

14 May 2017

Europe´s Digital Power: From Geo-Economics to Cybersecurity

Stefan Soesanto 

This report explores the concept of European digital power. More specifically, it looks at 1) the status of the continent’s digital economy; 2) new digital innovations and cyber threats; and 3) evolving, digitally-fed perceptions of power. The text’s author ultimately concludes that Europe’s faltering progress towards a digital single market and its sluggish response to cyber threats are symptomatic of “a residual reluctance towards the digital medium.”




13 May 2017

Hackers Came, but the French Were Prepared


President-elect Emmanuel Macron at a rally at the Louvre on Sunday evening. His digital team began to notice “high quality” phishing mails in December. CreditPool photo by Philippe Lopez

PARIS — Everyone saw the hackers coming.

The National Security Agency in Washington picked up the signs. So did Emmanuel Macron’s bare-bones technology team. And mindful of what happened in the American presidential campaign, the team created dozens of false email accounts, complete with phony documents, to confuse the attackers.

The Russians, for their part, were rushed and a bit sloppy, leaving a trail of evidence that was not enough to prove for certain they were working for the government of President Vladimir V. Putin but which strongly suggested they were part of his broader “information warfare” campaign.

Europe´s Digital Power: From Geo-Economics to Cybersecurity

Stefan Soesanto 

This report explores the concept of European digital power. More specifically, it looks at 1) the status of the continent’s digital economy; 2) new digital innovations and cyber threats; and 3) evolving, digitally-fed perceptions of power. The text’s author ultimately concludes that Europe’s faltering progress towards a digital single market and its sluggish response to cyber threats are symptomatic of “a residual reluctance towards the digital medium.”





© 2017 European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) 

12 May 2017

Emmanuel Macron Wins In France. So What Next?

It’s the first time a candidate, not representing the mainstream parties, has been voted to the office of the French President.

Opinion is divided on whether Macron will be the right man to fix the ailing French economy.

Emmanuel Macron will be the next President of France. All of 39, Macron is certainly the youngest President since the Gaullian republic was proclaimed. The landslide victory of Macron was the culmination of a dream run that began 13 months back when he floated his 'neither left or right' bipartisan political movement, En Marche (On the Move).

A Europhile 'centrist' and an ex-Rothschild banker, Macron's landslide victory is unprecedented – it's the first time an independent candidate, not representing the mainstream parties, has been voted to the office of the French President.

Even the huge email leaks from Macron’s campaign team, which were allegedly a treasure trove of incriminating information establishing his close connection with global big finance and predictably described by his supporters as politically motivated hacking engineered by Russians, did little to mar his electoral prospects.

Lock Them Up: Zero-Deployed Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons in Europe

How can non-strategic nuclear weapons holders, particularly Russia and the US, ensure these arms are not used in a conflict in Europe? This text advocates 1) transferring these warheads to a small number of storage facilities, and 2) developing verification procedures that would confirm the absence of deployed warheads at nearby, nuclear-capable bases. The virtue of this approach is that the parties involved wouldn’t have to disclose the number of warheads they possess, which has been a serious stumbling block in previous deterrence efforts.

10 May 2017

*** The Necessary Empire


LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany this year have brought much drama to the old Carolingian core, where Charlemagne founded his empire in the ninth century. This has always been the richest and most strongly institutionalized part of Europe. But should the European Union continue to weaken, the most profound repercussions will be felt farther east and south.

There, along the fault line of the Austrian Hapsburg and Ottoman Turkish empires, former Communist countries lack the sturdy middle-class base of core Europe, and in many cases are still distracted by ethnic and territorial disputes 25 years after the siege of Sarajevo. They depend on pro-European Union governments as never before.

Here in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, a country squeezed between Central Europe and the Balkans, officials and experts talk about a so-called phantom frontier that still exercises people’s imagination. This is the “Antemurale Christianitatis,” the “Bulwark of Christianity,” proclaimed in 1519 by Pope Leo X, in a reference to the Roman Catholic Slavs considered the front line against the Ottoman Empire. Croatia was the first line of defense against the Muslim Sultanate, and Slovenia the second. “When Yugoslavia collapsed, it was assumed that none of this earlier history was important,” one official said to me recently. “But a quarter-century after the disintegration of Tito’s Yugoslavia, we find that we are back to late-medieval and early-modern history.”

9 May 2017

Europe’s China Pivot

By Robert Manning

“The future has already arrived,” sci-fi writer William Gibson famously quipped, “it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” Few in the United States noticed when a freight train arrived in London in January 2017, completing a 7,500 mile journey from China, yet this train, its route an echo of the ancient Silk Road, just may have offered a glimpse of the future.

China is already the world’s largest trading nation, with some $3.9 trillion in two-way trade in 2016. The European Union, with its $17 trillion economy, roughly the size of that of the United States, looms large in China’s ambitious but still inchoate vision of connecting both ends of the Eurasian landmass with a 21st century version of the old Silk Road. And to the degree the United States retreats from the post-World War II multilateral system it created, the China-EU relationship could influence the balance of the emerging polycentric order.

Donald Trump’s “America First” posture, his cheerleading of Brexit, and his swift rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership spurred Europe and Asia to rapidly scramble in pursuit of multilateral deals to offset the U.S. retreat. In a letter to leaders of the 27 EU member states earlier this year, European Council President Donald Tusk described Trump, along with an assertive China and an aggressive Russia, as one of three external threats to Europe’s future. Tusk argued that “[w]e should use the change in the trade strategy of the U.S. to the EU's advantage by intensifying our talks with interested partners, while defending our interests at the same time.”

3 May 2017

*** The Man Who Saved Europe the Last Time

By Henry A. Kissinger

Konrad Adenauer (second from left), Sept. 21, 1949, with the high commissioners of the occupation (left to right), America’s John J. McCloy, Britain’s Sir Brian Robertson and France’s André François-Poncet. PHOTO: BETTMANN ARCHIVE

The attribute of greatness is reserved for leaders from whose time onward history can be told only in terms of their achievements. I observed essential elements of Germany’s history—as a native son, as a refugee from its upheavals, as a soldier in the American army of occupation, and as a witness to its astonishing renewal.

Only a few who experienced this evolution remain. For many contemporary Germans, the Adenauer period seems like a tale from an era long transcended. To the contrary, they live in a dynamic established by Konrad Adenauer, a man whose lifespan, from 1876 to 1967, covered all but five years of the unified German national state first proclaimed in 1871.

Devastated, impoverished, partitioned, the Federal Republic came about after World War II by the merger of the American, British and French zones of occupation, containing just two-thirds of Germany’s prewar population. Five million refugees from Germany’s prewar territories needed integration; they agitated for the recovery of lost territories. The Soviet occupation zone, containing 18 million people, was turned into a communist political entity.

The Federal Republic’s advent capped a century of discontinuity. The Empire after Bismarck had felt beleaguered by the alliances surrounding it; the Weimar Republic after World War I had felt abused by an imposed peace settlement; Hitler had sought an atavistic world dominion; the Federal Republic arose amid a legacy of global resentment.

The Fight in Hungary Is Over George Soros's Legacy

By Leonid Bershidsky

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has long avoided effective censure by the European Union, even though he has long since stopped adhering to the bloc's common values, denouncing liberalism and adopting an authoritarian style of government. But his attempt to close down the Central European University in Budapest, funded by George Soros, seems to be the last straw; the EU intends to sue Hungary over it, and sanctions may follow unless Orban leaves the CEU alone.

It's remarkable that the controversy over the Soros project is what has brought European unhappiness with Orban to a boil. But then, the stakes are especially high for the octogenarian philanthropist: This may be his final stand in a region where he has accomplished so much -- and yet seen at least as much failure.

In the final paragraph of her 2015 book, "Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy," Anna Porter wrote:

It would be ironic if the Soros legacy -- as viewed through the lens of the next century -- is the Central European University in Budapest. Ironic, because the one thing that Soros never wanted was an edifice, a building to house his ideas. But it is also fitting because CEU may yet turn out to be the incubator of future leaders and, with a bit of luck, they will lead to a better world.