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

23 July 2017

The View From Olympus: Britons Strike Home?

“Britons Strike Home” is an 18th century naval song, a product of an age when Britain knew how to avenge insults to her soil and her people. She has now suffered three such insults in the last three months, and it is clear Britain’s ruling class hasn’t the ghost of an idea of what to do about it.

Of course, they have their rituals. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth, candles and flowers and balloons, benefit concerts and twaddle from politicians about “getting tough”. Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gave a perfect example of the usual crap. According to the June 5 New York Times, he said in response to the London attacks,

We are all shocked and horrified by the brutal attacks in London. My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have died and the many who have been injured. Today, we will all grieve for their loss.

Weakness drips from every line.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who is to Maggie Thatcher as Napoleon III was to Napoleon I, was no better. Saying “things need to change” and “Enough is enough,” she offered no action, just words. It seems that instead of “Britons strike home,” all the British elite of today can offer is “Britons strike your flag.”

16 July 2017

Europe: Modi Has Done His Bit, The Ball Is In Their Court Now

Harsh V Pant

Modi has injected much needed pragmatism in a relationship which was adrift for quite some time. Now the ball is in Europe’s court.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Europe last month to galvanise India’s ties with key European powers as well as to keep the momentum of his past visit to Europe going. In what has now become his signature style, he touched upon key aspects of Indian foreign policy interests pertaining to each of the four nations—Germany, Russia, Spain and France—and tried to raise India’s profile in a part of the world which is getting consumed by its internal turmoil with each passing day. Despite Europe’s inward-looking foreign policy orientation at the moment, several aspects of Modi’s visit stand out which will help India over the long term.

The focus of Modi’s visit was clearly on boosting trade and economic ties with Europe. His unabashed selling of India as an investment destination is the most striking aspect of his outreach to the West. Unlike his predecessors, India now has a Prime Minister who is more in tune with global diplomacy than most of the foreign policy bureaucracy and commentariat in Delhi. One of the most important roles that leaders of major economies are expected to play in today’s day and age is that of a salesman. From Emmanuel Macron to Xi Jinping, from Theresa May to Angela Merkel, the first order of business for most governments today is to sell their countries as welcoming places for doing business. And Modi is a salesman par excellence.

10 July 2017

*** From the Intermarium to the Three Seas

By George Friedman

The Intermarium is a concept – really, an eventuality – that I have spoken about for nearly a decade. I predicted it would rise after Russia inevitably re-emerged as a major regional power. Which makes sense, considering it would comprise the former Soviet satellites of Eastern Europe: the Baltic states, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and possibly Bulgaria. Its purpose would be to contain any potential Russian move to the west. The United States would support it. The rest of Europe would agonize over it. What was once inevitable may soon be here.

Challenges, Intentional or Otherwise

The two foundations of the Intermarium (now frequently referred to as such in the region) are Poland and Romania, which have developed close military ties. The Baltics are already involved. The major holdout, unsurprisingly, has been Hungary, which has had to court Russia and the United States at the same time. But there are strong signals that Hungary is prepared to join. The government recently announced that it would join a Black Sea military exercise with Romania and Bulgaria – an annual exercise in which Hungary has never before participated. If this happens, then an eastern flank of the European Peninsula will have a cohesive group, backed by the global power, forming a line of demarcation between Russia and the rest of Europe.

Yanis Varoufakis: A New Deal for the 21st Century


ATHENS — The recent elections in France and Britain have confirmed the political establishment’s simultaneous vulnerability and vigor in the face of a nationalist insurgency. This contradiction is the motif of the moment — personified by the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, whose résumé made him a darling of the elites but who rode a wave of anti-establishment enthusiasm to power.

A similar paradox is visible in Britain in the surprising electoral success of the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in depriving Theresa May’s Conservatives of an outright governing majority — not least because the resulting hung Parliament seemingly gives the establishment some hope of a change in approach from Mrs. May’s initial recalcitrant stance toward the European Union on the Brexit negotiations that have just begun.

Outsiders are having a field day almost everywhere in the West — not necessarily in a manner that weakens the insiders, but neither also in a way that helps consolidate the insiders’ position. The result is a situation in which the political establishment’s once unassailable authority has died, but before any credible replacement has been born. The cloud of uncertainty and volatility that envelops us today is the product of this gap.

7 July 2017

** We Didn’t Kick Britain’s Ass to Be This Kind of Country


On July 4, 1776, church bells rang out across Philadelphia. The Continental Congress had approved a Declaration of Independence to inform the world that the goal of the colonial revolt, which had begun more than a year earlier, was not mere autonomy within the British Empire. Rather, the rebels were seeking the creation of an independent republic the likes of which the world had never seen. Their demands were couched in the then-novel language of natural rights; “all men are created equal,” they wrote, and “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The authors of this revolutionary text warned all governments to respect these rights or else face the consequences: “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.”

This was a radical stance to take in a world still dominated by kings who claimed to rule by divine will, and it would have profound implications for the new republic’s foreign policy. Unlike their cynical, Old World counterparts, American statesmen could never be content with a realpolitik foreign policy based on Thucydides’s admonition that “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” The Founding Fathers, writes Robert Kagan in his history of American foreign policy, Dangerous Nation, had “unwittingly invented a new foreign policy founded upon the universalist ideology that the Revolution spawned.” As Thomas Jefferson said, “We are pointing out the way to struggling nations who wish, like us, to emerge from their tyrannies.”

6 July 2017

A European Union Army: Objective or Chimera?

The proposal for a pan-European defence force has been in the public domain for quite some time. As early as 1950, Winston Churchill, the then British Prime Minister, had for the first time proposed a ‘European Army subject to proper European democratic control’. This did not fructify owing to opposition from France. Recently, in March 2017, the European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker spoke favourably about a European Union Army (EUA), inter alia, recommending the need for support structures, in the context of obtaining greater integration within the European Union (EU) on defence and security matters. However, Juncker has also struck an ambivalent note by mentioning that ‘a EUA is not a project [to be immediately pursued] for the future`.

Neither the objectives for setting up a EUA nor the framework within which it will operate are clear. There has been strong resentment on this issue from Britain — now on the way towards exiting the EU. There have also been contrasting views from some EU members, with opposition from East European countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia being particularly significant. France and Germany are, however, in support of the initiative. French president Emanuel Macron has optimistically observed that a EUA will provide strategic autonomy to the EU bloc.

4 July 2017

** Bending but Not Breaking the European Central Bank

By Xander Snyder

The Italian government has bailed out its banks again, and in doing so it has unwittingly shown just how ineffective the European Central Bank may be. On June 26, Rome finalized a deal, agreed to in principle earlier in the month, to save Monte dei Paschi di Siena, one of the country’s largest and most important commercial banks. In another deal made June 25, Intesa Sanpaolo, a much more stable bank, will bail out Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza. Both agreements involve Italian government funds and prevent senior creditors from incurring losses, a politically contentious issue for a country in which many retail investors hold bank debt. Both deals also skirt the European Union’s strictest banking regulations, which allow Brussels to impose losses on senior bondholders.

But the ECB hasn’t actually had to enforce these measures yet. In fact, it didn’t even enforce them on Italy – there’s a chance the measures would have failed, and their failure would only have validated concerns of the ECB’s fecklessness.

Three Processes

There are three ways a bank can be bailed out under ECB guidelines. The first is a resolution process managed by the Single Resolution Board, an organization established by the European Union to prevent taxpayers from bearing the financial burden of bailouts as they did after the 2008-09 financial crisis. When the ECB determines that a bank has failed or is about to fail, it refers the case to the SRB, which, according to the EU banking framework, can but is not required to impose losses on shareholders, junior bondholders, senior bondholders and unsecured depositors – in that order. When 8 percent of the bank’s liabilities are accounted for in this “bail-in,” capital from the Single Resolution Mechanism fund can then be accessed, and the member state’s national government can also provide funding.

3 July 2017

Pride of Britain? No, HMS Queen Elizabeth is a £6bn blunder that should be scuttled, writes MAX HASTINGS

By Vidya Sagar

India is taking dedicated steps to acquire space assets that can safeguard its national security and enable it safeguard global commons as a responsible leading power. Even as the existing capabilities were able to deliver during critical times, there are certain urgent requirements to be fulfilled. A dedicated roadmap could be developed for this purpose in addition to signalling to the adversaries that India is prepared to protect its space assets.

India had successfully launched another satellite in the Cartosat-2 series recently. This adds to the existing series of earth observation satellites providing operational pictures in different ranges that can be used for national security purposes. India placed in orbit dedicated communications and remote sensing satellites for defending its borders and maritime areas from impending threats. However, it is yet to secure certain space capabilities for ensuing foolproof national security.

HACK PAYBACK Britain may go to war with foreign states attempting cyber attack on UK, Defence Secretary warns

By Harry Cole

FOREIGN state hackers could face a declaration of war from Britain if they are found to have targeted us again, the Defence Secretary warned tonight.

Sir Michael Fallon said the price of a crippling cyber attack on Britain could come “from any domain – air, land, sea or cyber.”

The chilling threat came as the Tory hawk revealed foreign enemy states are launching two “high level cyber attacks” on Britain every single day.

In a major speech be blasted “aggressor states like Russia, working overtime to disrupt and discolour our democracy” who launch around 60 attacks on Britain’s government IT, infrastructure and businesses every month.

Speaking to the respected Chatham House think-tank, the Defence Secretary said: “We now have the skills to expose cyber criminals, to hunt them down and to prosecute them.”

2 July 2017

How Muslim Extremists Exploit European Liberalism

Robert G. Rabil

Islamism and Salafism have become part of Europe’s Muslim landscape, affecting its hues and shape.

Coming on the heels of the Manchester terror attack targeting British youth, the recent terrorist act in London is the last in a series of attacks across Europe that displayed the eerie savagery of violence carried out in the name of Islam. The Islamic State claimed credit and proclaimed that a detachment of its fighters carried out the terror attack. British prime minister Theresa May condemned the attack and assertively declared that “enough is enough.” She vowed to undertake a sweeping review of Great Britain’s counterterrorism strategy, even though the British security apparatus has formidable surveillance and security laws. This provoked a national debate about balancing civil liberties and security.

The problem, however, goes beyond fending off terror acts or revising counterterrorism strategies. The problem is about how to reverse decades-long policies of promoting unbridled multiculturalism that allowed the ideologies of Islamism and Salafism to permeate an inchoate European Muslim society, thereby militating against the creation of an European Islam free from the ideological baggage exported by conservative and Islamist individuals, groups and governments. The extent to which this problem has been difficult to gauge lies squarely in the haughty—yet self-loathing—contemporary thought of the West, which has prevented a civilized and honest critique of Islam’s inability to reform its perversions.

30 June 2017

** Kissinger, Thatcher and the death of Westphalia

By Robert Colvile

The world order that has lasted for decades is breaking down Nato has become a shield to hide behind, not an active strategic organisation 

Kissinger echoed and amplified Thatcher's warnings about the threats facing us 

Henry Kissinger’s speech today at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Security was framed as a tribute to Thatcher. In fact, it was a conversation with her.

Speaking to the conference – organised by the Centre for Policy Studies, CapX’s parent body – Kissinger shared a few memories of the former Prime Minister. Her lecturing him about how politics was about moving the centre, not moving towards it – while still a little-known education minister. Her splenetic response when he asked her which of the compromises suggested by the Foreign Office over the Falklands she favoured.



If you’re a Europe-based think tanker, policy wonk, or commentator, Donald Trump and Brexit are great for business. Just about every Brussels pundit is leading off his musings about Europe’s future with some sort of Trump or Brexithook. If you haven’t heard by now that either Trump, Brexit, or — ideally — both offer historical windows of opportunity for European defense cooperation, you’re way outside of the Brussels bubble.

Those invested in the notion that the European Union can become strategically autonomous interpret pretty much whatever happens out there as a catalyst for greater European defense cooperation. Every time there is some sort of global crisis or “external shock,” catalyst-related narratives pop up — there are just too many politicians, officials, and pundits in Europe who lust after such narratives.

29 June 2017

Should the US pull its nuclear weapons out of Turkey?

“Welcome to Incirlik AB, Turkey,” reads the big gold letters over one of the entrances to a key staging base for the fight against the Islamic State, strategically located in southern Turkey, just 70 miles from the Syrian border.

But this month, Germany learned that the friendly greeting is not written in stone, and that the NATO ally can pull in its welcome mat with little notice or explanation.

After the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to guarantee that members of the German parliament could visit German troops at Incirlik, Berlin announced it was moving its forces and planes to Jordan.

Germany’s decision to decamp to more friendly territory starkly illustrates the growing tensions between Turkey and some of its NATO allies, including the United States.

“When our major European ally pulls its forces out of Incirlik because it couldn’t be guaranteed access, it should warn you what happened to Germany could happen to us,” said Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a Washington think tank focused on nuclear weapons policy.

“I don’t think many people would count Erdogan as one of our more reliable allies. His agenda has shifted so dramatically over the last few years, you have to be concerned where it’s going,” Cirincione said.

28 June 2017

The Great Unravelling: Four Doomsday Scenarios for Europe´s Russia Policy

Europe has managed to remain united against Russia since the latter invaded Ukraine in 2014. However, Gustav Gressel and Fredrik Wesslau worry that this resolve could unravel if 1) the EU decides to enforce the Russian interpretation of the Minsk agreements on Ukraine; 2) Brussels succumbs to ‘Ukraine fatigue’ and accepts the status quo; 3) the US disengages from Ukraiine and ends its sanctions on Russia; and 4) a Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin reach a “grand bargain” that shatters EU unity and allows Russia to bring Ukraine back into its sphere of influence. Here are the details

Despite all odds, Europe has managed to remain united and firm on its policy towards Russia since its invasion of Ukraine in 2014. But what are the forces that could undermine this policy and what would be the consequences of such an unravelling? This paper presents four doomsday scenarios for how Europe’s policy towards Russia could collapse. 
The scenarios outlined in this paper are: (1) the EU decides to enforce the Russian interpretation of the Minsk agreements on Ukraine; (2) the EU succumbs to Ukraine fatigue and accepts the status quo, including another frozen conflict in the neighbourhood; (3) the US disengages from Ukraine and ends sanctions on Russia, throwing European policy into disarray; and (4) a “grand power bargain” between Trump and Putin shatters EU unity and allows Russia to bring Ukraine into its sphere of influence

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump head for clash at G20 summit

A clash between Angela Merkel and Donald Trump appears unavoidable after Germany signalled that it will make climate change, free trade and the management of forced mass global migration the key themes of the G20 summit in Hamburg next week.

The G20 summit brings together the world’s biggest economies, representing 85% of global gross domestic product (GDP), and Merkel’s chosen agenda looks likely to maximise American isolation while attempting to minimise disunity amongst others.

The meeting, which is set to be the scene of large-scale street protests, will also mark the first meeting between Trump and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, as world leaders.

Trump has already rowed with Europe once over climate change and refugees at the G7 summit in Italy, and now looks set to repeat the experience in Hamburg but on a bigger stage, as India and China join in the criticism of Washington.

27 June 2017

* Martin van Creveld: Britain’s smartest leader warned about open borders in 1968. It blew their minds.

Summary: Europe’s leaders have opened their borders to immigrants with radically different cultures. It’s one of history’s largest public policy experiments, made with little or no planning or research about its consequences. In 1968 Enoch Powell, a genius British politician, foresaw this — and warned about its effects on Britain. The generation now growing up will see the conclusion to this story.The Vlora unloads Albanian refugees to the Italian port of Bari on 8 August 1991.

The name Enoch Powell {Wikipedia} is unlikely to strike a chord with most of those who are under 60 years old. Yet at the time I took my PhD in London (1969-71) he was all over, frequently appearing on TV (“the telly,” as people used to call it), radio, and the papers. Today it pleases me to write a few lines about him. My reasons for doing so will become clear by and by.

25 June 2017

Why has Italy been spared mass terror attacks in recent years?

Each time Youssef Zaghba landed in Bologna, there was someone waiting for him as he got off the plane. It was no secret in Italy that the 22-year-old Moroccan-born Italian, identified as one of three terrorists behind the London Bridge attack, was under close surveillance.

“They would talk to him at the airport. Then, during his stay, police officers would come a couple of times a day to check on him,” his mother, Valeria Collina, said in an interview with the Guardian. “They were friendly to Youssef. They would say: ‘Hey son, tell me what you have been doing. What are you doing? How are you?’”

In the weeks since the attack, Zaghba’s role has shone a light on the differences between how terror suspects are handled in Italy and the UK. Upon his arrival in London, Zaghba’s mother said, he was never once stopped at the airport or interrogated, even though Italian officials had warned British counterparts that he was a threat.

Franco Gabrielli, Italy’s chief of police, has said of Italy’s efforts to alert the UK: “Our conscience is clear.” Scotland Yard, in turn, has said Zaghba “was not a police or MI5 subject of interest”.

Italy has suffered from its share of political violence in recent decades, including the murder of two prominent anti-mafia judges in the 1990s. But unlike almost all of its big European neighbours, it has not witnessed a major terrorist attack since the 1980s.

Is Italy just lucky? Have the country’s counter-terrorism policies – born out of years of anti-mafia policing and intelligence work and a decade of bloody political violence in the 1970s – given Italian officials an edge in the age of Isis? Or are there other factors at play?

“The main difference is Italy doesn’t have a big population of second-generation immigrants that have been radicalised or could potentially be radicalised,” said Francesca Galli, an assistant professor at Maastricht University and an expert in counter-terrorism policies.

24 June 2017

Why Talk About Disinformation Now?

By Alina Polyakova

Cyberattacks played a key, but relatively small part in this operation. Kremlin-backed hackers used targeted phishing e-mails to steal troves of documents and communications between Democratic Party operatives, but the bigger, and more sophisticated, part came later. Rather than using the stolen information for intelligence gathering—a normal and expected technique in the world of spycraft—the data instead appeared on WikiLeaks and other sites beginning in July 2016. It was at this point that an intelligence-gathering operation turned into an influence operation.

Disinformation has become a hot topic since Russia’s interference in the US presidential elections in 2016. As seventeen US intelligence agencies agreed in December of last year: “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.” This influence operation aimed to undermine faith in democracy and the credibility of the Western institutions.

The Kremlin’s well-resourced media networks, including RT and Sputnik, and its social bots and troll armies quickly spun narratives about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Western media, compelled by trending topics and dramatic headlines, followed suit. And “fake news entrepreneurs” looking to turn an easy profit from ad dollars by writing false stories with alarming headlines took advantage of the scandals. As a result, the e-mail hacks, rather than policies, came to dominate our political discourse while polarizing our society. The Kremlin effectively exploited the virtues of free and open societies and the plurality of our media space to undermine our electoral process.

UK Blazes New Path on Information Sharing

The United Kingdom has revamped the way its intelligence agencies collaborate with private industry by establishing a new National Cyber Security Centre that leans towards more open and meaningful exchanges to help secure the country against malicious cyber attacks. The Cipher Brief’s Levi Maxey spoke with Sir David Omand, the former director of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the first UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator, about how this novel model of private-public collaboration is seeking to bridge the gaps between government and private industry when it comes to sharing information on cybersecurity threats.

The Cipher Brief: How has the UK traditionally collaborated with the private sector in areas such as threat intelligence sharing?

David Omand: The starting point for a discussion of these issues has to be the experience, driven sadly by the past terrorist threat from the Provisional IRA, that the UK security authorities have built up while working with the private sector over many years. The owners and operators of the critical national infrastructure in particular are not fazed by working with the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, a part of MI5, the UK’s counterpart to the FBI, giving and receiving sensitive information about vulnerabilities.

Specialist advice on protective security and sharing of intelligence-based threat warnings and assessments became normal business practice and developed mutual confidence based on the shared goal of public protection. Now those relationships of trust between government and industry are being transferred into the cyber domain through the new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) a part of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the UK signals intelligence agency and partner of the U.S. National Security Agency, to face the new threats from criminal and state hackers.  

23 June 2017

After Terror Attacks, Britain Moves to Police the Web


After deadly terrorist attacks and a nationwide election, Britain is once again focusing on a controversial plan: to regulate the internet.

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum are promoting some of the widest-ranging plans anywhere in the western world to rein in the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter, setting up a likely standoff.

On one side are British policy makers and law enforcement officials, who want to crack down on how extremist messaging and communication are spread across the internet. On the other are privacy and freedom of speech groups — alongside the tech giants themselves — who say that the government’s proposals go too far.

Similar debates are popping up around the world.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation took legal action against Apple last year to force the company to decrypt a suspected terrorist’s iPhone. American law enforcement eventually used a third-party service to gain access to the smartphone.

In Germany, lawmakers are pushing ahead with fines of up to 50 million euros, or $56 million, if Silicon Valley companies do not limit how online hate speech circulates on their social networks.