How a World Order Ends

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And What Comes in Its Wake

A stable world order is a rare thing. When one does arise, it tends to come after a great convulsion that creates both the conditions and the desire for something new. It requires a stable distribution of power and broad acceptance of the rules that govern the conduct of international relations. It also needs skillful statecraft, since an order is made, not born. And no matter how ripe the starting conditions or strong the initial desire, maintaining it demands creative diplomacy, functioning institutions, and effective action to adjust it when circumstances change and buttress it when challenges come. Continue reading

All or Nothing

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BERLIN/LONDON/PARIS/ROME (Own report) – London’s government crisis escalated yesterday under the pressure of Berlin and the EU’s unaccomplishable Brexit requirements. Prime Minster Theresa May has barely survived a vote of confidence, which was ultimately triggered by the so-called backstop. Brussels insists on a regulation, which could indefinitely subjugate Great Britain to a customs union, without an option for a unilateral withdrawal and erect a trade border between two areas of the United Kingdom. These provisions are in Germany’s interests, but they will plunge Great Britain into chaos. The current government crisis in France is largely due to the austerity programs imposed by Berlin on Paris – while refusing to make any concessions at the EU level. In France and Great Britain, the extreme right is profiting, like in Italy, where Berlin’s drastic austerity dictates, have already crushed the traditional political establishment.

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Populism and paralysis in the West

By spring 2019, ‘our politics will be even more poisonous than now’

Is it coincidence or contagion, this malady that seems to have suddenly induced paralysis in the leading nations of the West?

With lawyer-fixer Michael Cohen’s confession that he colluded with Donald Trump in making hush money payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, America’s stage is set for a play that will run two years. Continue reading

Italy: A Brewing Storm Within the EU

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Over the last couple of years, the main challenge to EU cohesion has been Brexit, with the media sharply focused on the negotiations and all relevant developments. Since the release of the draft withdrawal agreement, largely perceived as a victory for the EU, those who support the European project and believe in a strong leadership from Brussels have projected confidence and optimism for the future. According to these voices, the divisions caused by the rise of nationalism and populism in the past years are healing, the relationship between member states is normalizing, while a future of stability and harmony awaits.

However, such a vision might prove naive, as it discounts a much greater risk to the EU than Brexit ever was: the political and economic powder keg that is Italy. Continue reading

The Battle over Huawei

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BERLIN/WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Own report) – With the USA escalating its measures against Huawei Technologies, Berlin is faced with deciding whether to continue its cooperation with that Chinese telecommunications company. Until now, the competent German administrations have been considering cooperating with Huawei for the development of the important 5G mobile communications standards. With its experience, the Chinese company could reliably set up the German network rather quickly and at favorable costs. For German business, it is of utmost importance not to fall behind even further in the development of future state-of-the art technologies. Washington, however, is pushing for the Chinese company to be excluded. The Trump administration – without any evidence, according to experts – is accusing it of having close ties to the Chinese government and intelligence agencies. Washington is indeed seeking to damage Huawei seriously – the world’s largest network provider and second largest smartphone producer – to halt China’s ascendance. Berlin must decide whether it wants to join that battle against Huawei in the economic war against Beijing.

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Infectious diseases are coming back: Half a century of vaccinations gone wasted

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Wikimedia

 

In terms of the number of people vaccinated against measles, Europeans are already below the safety limit.

WHO requires the vaccination of at least 95 per cent of the young children population for community resistance to be preserved, offering protection also to people without resistance to a given disease. These are primarily people who have not been vaccinated because of medical contraindications. Only in five countries of the European Union is over 95 per cent of the population vaccinated with two doses. Thus, in Poland for example, where vaccination against measles is mandatory, there were 34,000 refusals to vaccinate in the first half of this year, that is more than in the whole of the previous year. There have been almost 140,000 instances where Polish parents refused to vaccinate their child over the past eight years. Continue reading

The Eurozone Banks’ Trillion-Euro Timebomb

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(Source: Bloomberg, Bologna, Miglietta, Segura)

 

Eurozone banks have fallen dramatically in the stock market despite the results of the stress tests carried out by the ECB, and the EU Banks Index is down 25% on the year despite year-long bullish recommendations from almost every broker. This should not surprise anyone because we have seen in the past that these tests are only a theoretical exercise. Moreover, stress tests’ results are widely challenged, and rightly so, because the exercise starts with the most ridiculous premise in economics: Ceteris Paribus, or “all else remaining equal”, which never happens. Every asset manager knows that risk builds slowly and happens fast. Continue reading

The German-American Relationship Illusion

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Demonstrators march through Berlin to protest U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2017. (Omer Messinger/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

 

Germans see relations as negative; Americans see them as positive. What is going wrong?

Germans and Americans have very different ideas of the relationship between their two countries, according to a survey published by the Körber Foundation and the American Pew Research Center last month.

While 73 percent of Germans surveyed described relations with the United States of America as “somewhat bad” or “very bad,” 70 percent of Americans said that relations with the German Federal Republic were “somewhat good” or “very good.” Continue reading

Merkel Protégé Suggests Naval Blockade of Russian Vessels

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(Photo Credit: Sandro Halank via Creative Commons 3.0)

 

G7 foreign ministers release their own statement of condemnation against the Kremlin.

In an interview with Reuters today, German politician Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the Christian Democratic Union leadership front-runner and protege of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the European Union and U.S. should consider a full blockade of all Russian vessels at their ports in response to the Kerch Strait incident. Continue reading

An Army of the Europeans

BERLIN (Own report) – The program of the Berlin Security Conference, which ended yesterday, included discussions on new steps toward creating an “army of the Europeans,” concerns over the possible erosion of the West’s “margin in defense capabilities” vis à vis Russia and China, as well as the role of artificial intelligence in future wars. Unlike the Munich Security Conference, this conference is not oriented on foreign policy but specifically on military policy and the arms industry, with more than a thousand military and business representatives, state officials, and politicians participating. Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen used the platform to launch a debate on steps toward limiting parliamentary reservations concerning an “army of the Europeans.” In the future, “Europe may have to provide for its own security, perhaps even completely independently” from US support, according to experts. This calls for rapidly enhancement of the use of artificial intelligence in warfare and a “European narrative” to legitimize EU wars.

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Europe’s Next Generation Combat System

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Former competitors are now collaborating against their new archenemy: the U.S.A. Should you be concerned?

Europe’s call for a European army raises various questions: How powerful would such an army be? What weaponry would it use? Would it be in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization? Or work against it? And finally, which nation would spearhead the endeavor: France or Germany?

The answer to these questions can already be seen in Europe’s arms industry.

The European Union’s joint military budget is already three times higher than Russia’s budget and approximately half of the United States’. And at this critical moment in history, Russia and the U.S. are being forced to make dramatic military cuts while Europe is boosting its spending. Continue reading

Russian South Stream 2.0 Comes Out of the Shadows

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Source: Kommersant

 

Russia and Turkey have announced that the two countries have reached significant progress in reviving the November 2014-shut down South Stream gas pipeline intended to land Russian gas across the Black Sea. The project is the part of the already secured open tender contracts for purchases of gas signed between Gazprom, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria.

The new Black Sea gas pipeline Turkish Stream will run under sea from Krasnodar to a landing hubv just west of Istanbul. On November 19, presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Istanbul to announce the completion of pipeline’s off-shore section. Continue reading

A ‘Big Step Forward’ for Europe’s Vision of a Combined Military

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A Bundeswehr soldier stands next to his machine gun at the airport near the Gao base in northern Mali. (Getty Images)

 

A ‘Big Step Forward’ for Europe’s Vision of a Combined Military

Defense ministers and foreign ministers from 25 European Union member nations took a “big step forward” on November 19 in the direction of a European military, initiating 17 new European defense projects, including a shared school for spies.

The projects on the official list are from the latest November 19 agreement and the previous March 6 agreement, all facilitated under Europe’s Permanent Structured Cooperation pact, which is a framework for increased military cooperation and development among EU member states. Continue reading

“There is a new fear of Germany”

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Europe today fears Germany’s economic strength rather than its military might, historian Andeas Rödder tells DW. At the same time, Germany is meant to lead the EU: a dilemma for all sides.

“I’m not so much afraid of German power; its German inactivity I’m starting to fear,” said Radoslaw Sikorski, then Poland’s foreign minister, while speaking in Berlin in 2011. You would never have heard a sentence like that before 1990, says German historian Andreas Rödder — certainly not coming from Poland. Continue reading

Secession From The European Union

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British Prime Minister Theresa May looks to passing by heads of government after the family photo at the informal EU summit in Salzburg, Austria, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.

 

The member states of the European Union seem unaware of the clouds that are gathering above their heads. They have identified the most serious problems of the EU, but are treating them with nonchalance, and fail to understand what the British secession (Brexit) implies. They are slowly sinking into a crisis which may only be resolved by violence.

The origin of the problem

During the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the members of the European Community accepted to bow to the decisions of the United States and to integrate the states of Central Europe, even though these states did not correspond in any way to the logical criteria of adhesion. With this momentum, they adopted the Maastricht Treaty, which transformed the European project of economic coordination between European States into that of a supra-national State. The idea was to create a vast political bloc which, under the military protection of the United States, was intended to engage with the USA on the road to prosperity. Continue reading