In 1973 or ’74, I was living in England where I was the Student Editor of The Portfolio, a Student newspaper. I remember then writing an editorial on Watergate and how the continual, never-ending saga of America’s domestic issues, was damaging America’s international relations. The article was censored and was not published.
In ’73-’74 America suffered a number of international set-backs. The biggest challenge was the October War, when three Arab nations tried to destroy Israel. At the same time, the oil producing nations of OPEC raised the price of oil by 400%, causing a major international recession.
I now have a sense of Déjà vu, all over again!
New Year’s saw crowds try to seize control of the US Embassy in Iraq. A country Americans like to think they helped restore democracy has now turned against us. In Afghanistan, where the US desperately wants peace as a prelude to withdrawal, the Taliban has made it clear that all American troops must leave before they will sit down and talk.
Iraq and Afghanistan – two recent wars that we have lost!
In addition, North Korea is making strong and possibly serious threats of action against the US.
German leaders will no doubt now go ahead with a deal with Russia, making the country more dependent on Russia for energy and giving Russia a major financial boost for further defense spending.
The rest of the world does not understand impeachment (do Americans?). Their sense is that the US president is greatly weakened and will soon be out of office. This will not end until the election, ten months away. By that time, the world could very well be a very different place!
Germany could make big EU impact in 2020
So far, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has not been particularly ambitious with regard to EU affairs. But next year provides ample opportunity to make real progress.
2020 will be a big year for Germany when it comes to European affairs. Berlin will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in July, but even before then German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has come out to push for a “strong and sovereign Europe.”
To make Europe a bigger player on the world stage, Maas called for a European Security Council to tackle foreign affairs and security issues — such a council could even include the post-Brexit United Kingdom.
*During Germany’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, it will host an EU-Africa summit. It will be about bringing both continents closer together. According to Krichbaum, the bloc for many decades woefully neglected its ties with Africa.
Germany ponders bigger troop mandate in Africa’s Sahel
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said she supports sending more troops to Africa’s Sahel. Although France already has a strong deployment, they’ve asked for support and Germany cannot “duck away” from the region, she said.
The Sahel spans numerous countries, including parts of Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Mauritania. Kramp-Karrenbauer noted that the Sahel region has become a “major hub for terrorism, organized crime, migration and human trafficking.”
Germany cannot allow itself to “duck away” from responsibility in the region”, she said. “In the end, we would have to put up walls and barbed wire all around Europe.”
Merkel’s ‘grand coalition’ faces array of new challenges A poll has found that one-third of Germans want new elections. Right-wing populists are most eager to clear the decks, and the new SPD leadership has fueled concern about the stability of Germany’s grand coalition.
Divisive issue of speed: The topic of speed limits is to Germans what gun rights are to many in the US. Overall, the poll found that 34% of voters want to be rid of the current coalition government, as opposed to 39% who say it should continue to serve until regular elections are held in the fall of 2021.
Germans think Trump is more dangerous than Kim Jong Un and Putin
When asked who posed the greatest threat to world peace, Germans in a recent poll overwhelmingly pointed to one person — Donald Trump.
The US president beat out the leaders of North Korea, Russia, China and Iran (Deutsche Welle * 26 Dec, 2019)
Although Washington is one of Germany’s closest allies, public trust in the US has significantly eroded under President Donald Trump, a new YouGov survey showed. Germans were asked who was more dangerous: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Russian President Vladimir Putin or US President Donald Trump. Some 41% of Germans said they thought Trump was the most dangerous out of the five world leaders. In second place was Kim with 17%, followed by Putin and Khamenei with 8%. Coming in last was China’s Xi Jinping with 7%. Over 2,000 people in Germany took part in the survey, which was commissioned by news agency dpa. A similar YouGov poll was carried out in July last year, in which 48% of Germans surveyed said Trump was more dangerous than Kim and Putin. That poll, however, did not include the leaders of Iran or China.
GERMANS UNWILLING TO DEFEND US Germans are more unwilling than willing to defend NATO ally the United States should she be attacked by Russia, according to a YouGov survey.
The poll was conducted amongst key members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the defence bloc which was formed during the Cold War to protect allies from Soviet aggression.
Out of the U.S. France, the UK, and Germany, Americans showed the most willingness to “use military force if Russia attacks” NATO allies and partner countries.
Britons were almost equal in the urge to protect as Americans, but opinion was an “even split” on whether to defend Turkey, while the French were more willing to defend the U.S. and others apart from the Ukraine, Turkey, and Romania.
…. “It is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes and pays out billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia. We’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries,” President Trump said.
Currently, only the United States, Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Romania, Poland, and Latvia are meeting their NATO spending obligations, which require members to spend at least two per cent of GDP on defense spending.
Germany is only spending 1.36 per cent of its GDP on defense, well below its NATO obligations, despite having the largest economy in Europe.
Germany was the only country out of these major powers to say they were more unwilling than willing to defend the U.S., 43 per cent to 32 per cent; by contrast, 54 per cent of Americans think they should defend Germany should she find herself attacked by Russia (Breitbart, 12/29/19)
Expect a tumultuous 2020 in the Middle East by Marc Lynch, The Washington Post, Wednesday, January 1, 2020
It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that the Middle East’s 2020 will be tumultuous. Libya’s civil war has taken a dangerous turn, with Russian mercenaries and Turkish forces joining the fray as Gen. Khalifa Hifter’s forces push into the capital. Yemen’s still ravaged by economic blockade and war, despite recent efforts on all sides to de-escalate the conflict. Syria’s civil war continues to metastasize, with a massive new wave of refugees fleeing violence in Idlib. Large-scale popular protests are challenging Iraq’s government, which is bracing for fallout from the growing confrontation between the United States and Iran. Israel and the Palestinian territories could dramatically change their relationship, as the prospects of a two-state solution dissolve. And protest movements throughout the region could shake up half a dozen regimes.
Here are three trends to watch in the Middle East over the coming year. Expect these three trends to bring numerous crises during this U.S. election year, shaping the challenges that will await the next administration.
- Every government is on edge about the U.S. 2020 election: Usually, when the U.S. government changes hands, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East remains steady and consistent. No more.
- Conflicts in the gulf region are getting harder to control: The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran has inflicted economic pain while accomplishing few or none of its strategic objectives.
- Protests and more protests. 2019’s wave of protests across the Middle East rivaled those of the Arab Spring in 2011 – and in some ways were more impressive. Protests challenged regimes in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon; forced political change in Algeria; and overthrew the Sudanese regime. More will come.
(Marc Lynch is a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, where he is the director of the Project on Middle East Political Science. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Program and the co-director of the Blogs and Bullets project at the United States Institute of Peace. Lynch is the editor of “The Arab Uprisings Explained: New Contentious Politics in the Middle East” and the author of “The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East.
UK SEX GROOMING GANGS VICTIMIZE 19,000 CHILDREN IN 2019
Despite the publicity given to UK’s Pakistani sex grooming gangs since 2012, close to 19,000 children have been victimized by UK sex grooming gangs in 2019. The number represents a 3,300 increase from five years ago.
In a report by the Independent, activists say the true number is much higher, as many of these crimes go unreported. After underage girls are groomed using drugs and alcohol, many are reluctant to go to the authorities as their groomers convince them that due to the illegality of the substances, the victims themselves will be punished.
The exploitation has been widely known to local government officials, social workers and law enforcement officials for over a decade. However, for fear of being called racists, authorities took no steps to prevent the horrific abuse of young, white British girls.
Sarah Champion is a Labor MP from Rotherham where the story broke in 2012 and a tireless campaigner for the victims of these gangs. In 2017, Champion was forced to resign from her position as shadow (opposition) secretary for women and equalities after writing an article in The Sun telling the facts about the sex grooming gangs:
Frustrated that years after recommendations were made to endless government commissions with no measures taken to support victims and prevent such abuse in the future, Champion wrote, “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls … There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?”
Champion continued: “The irony of all of this is that, by not dealing with the ethnicity of the abusers as a fact, political correctness has actually made the situation about race.”
“The perpetrators are criminals and we need to deal with them as such, not shy away from doing the right thing by fearing being called a racist.”
In a scathing talk in which he excoriated authorities for not protecting Britain’s young girls, Muslim activist Majid Nawaz said, “They were men like me from my community and in all but three, the victims were white teenage girls. That is the truth, and what I’m saying is so uncomfortable that we’ve been ignoring it for years. As a result of ignoring it, this problem has been growing and growing to a point where it now has led to racial tensions.” (Clarion Project, 12/31/2019)
TO THE POINT
- French president Emmanuel Macron awarded Britain the Legion of Honor, in recognition of the fact that Britain gave Charles de Gaulle and the “Free French” army refuge during World War II. Many Frenchmen were opposed, claiming that Britain is France’s traditional enemy.
- EUROPE: ANTI-CHRISTIAN ATTACKS REACH ALL TIME HIGH. The issue of anti-Christian vandalism was rarely reported by the European media until February 2019, when vandals attacked nine churches within the space of two weeks. The issue made headlines again in April 2019, when a suspicious fire gutted the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Since then, however, the European media are once again shrouding facts in silence. (Soeren Kern, Gatestone, 1/1/2020)
- “Statistics on homelessness are patchy, but dispiriting. In 2010-18 the French government doubled the spaces in emergency accommodation to 146,000, yet cannot meet demand. In Spain the number in shelters rose by 2-.5% between 2014 and 2016. In the Netherlands homelessness has doubled in the past decade. In Ireland, the number in shelters has tripled. The German government estimates homelessness rose by 4% in 2018, to a record 678,000, most of them migrants. All this has thrown a spanner into government’s plans. For years, they have been trying to shift from providing beds for the night to housing first strategies like Finland’s. Instead they are struggling to keep people off the streets.” (“Oh give me a home, Europe,” The Economist, 12/21/2019).
- Political instability in Germany, coupled with ongoing economic uncertainty, could mean that the disruption seen in the U.K. during its Brexit crisis could shift across the continent to Europe’s largest economy, according to economists and market watchers. (CNBC 12/30/2019)
- On December 24, Vladimir Putin took part in the Defense Ministry Board meeting held at the National Defense Control Centre. During the Defense Ministry Board meeting, Putin discussed the role of European countries in contributing to the outbreak of WWII. Commenting on Poland, Putin used strong words to criticize the Polish ambassador to Nazi Germany, Josef Lipski, who backed Hitler in 1938. “That bastard! That antisemitic pig – I have no other words,” Putin said referring to Lipski. This video aired on Rossiya-24 TV (Russia) and was translated into English by Vesti. (MEMRI 12/30)
- Biblical Archaeology Report listed a finding at the biblical site of Shiloh as the second-most important biblical archeological discovery during 2019 out of a total of ten discoveries.
What was the number one find in biblical archaeology? A bulla (clay stamp) found in the ancient City of David, with the inscription “[belonging] to nathan-melech, servant of the king,” not far from the Jewish Temple. First-century artifacts and a Byzantine church in Bethsaida, evidence of Jerusalem’s destruction in the Babylonian period and a monumental staircase at Hazor, also made the cut.
- Please remember to pray for Australia, which is experiencing the most horrendous fires in its history. Watching them and the skies over New Zealand made me think of the prophecy in Deut. 28:23: “And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron.”