Tag Archives: Mike Pompeo

US AND UK OUT OF COMMISSION

“In the United States and the United Kingdom – two of the world’s oldest democracies – national governments are at a standstill.   This, for better or worse, could be the future of politics.   It will be a system in which things have to get worse before they can get … worse.    Perpetual political gridlock: it won’t be pretty, and for many it may be painful.

“Both the US government’s shutdown and the UK’s Brexit have become problems with no exit.   Every strategy offered fails for lack of legislative support or national leadership.   The American and British political classes look intellectually exhausted and clueless about a path forward.”  (Gridlock is the new normal,” by Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, 1/17/19)

The above about sums it up.   The two nations that have dominated the world for as long as anybody can remember are essentially out of commission.

What will this mean?

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AMERICAN WITHDRAWAL FROM MIDDLE EAST

Middle East Chaos Will Escalate Following the Departure of the Americans:   If America departs the Middle East, then the region will become a free-for-all for others.    

The National Interest * January 17, 2019, by Tanya Goudsouzian: a Canadian journalist who has covered Iraq and Afghanistan for over fifteen years.  She is former Opinion editor of Al Jazeera English Online.

The inexorable direction of the U.S. administration is towards less intervention, less engagement, and fewer “dumb wars in the Middle East.”   Although Pompeo may trumpet steadfastness, the U.S. president can pivot on a dime.

The smart money is on disengagement from the region and anyone who thinks subsequent administrations will rush back in will probably be disappointed.

In filling that vacuum in Syria, expect the Russians, the Iranians and the Turks to rush in or stay in.  They have kept their eyes on the prize; to them, it’s not just about Syria but the whole region.

. . . Europe must also understand the consequences of yielding significant Western influence in the region.

. . . More Russian territorial influence means less European territorial influence.   More Chinese trade crowds out European trade.   Iranian ideological expansion displaces Arab cultural norms. All mean “less Europe,” and certainly more instability.

. . . America’s departure will not be leaving the region to itself, but to a free-for-all for others.   And to put it bluntly, the others may not (and probably do not) share the vision or values of the European experiment.    If Europe is unwilling to “up its game” when the Americans withdraw, then it may find the only thing worse than U.S. hegemony is everything else

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TRUMP THREAT TO ISRAEL

“The strategic reality facing the new chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, will depend largely on one factor – the political situation in the United States.   More precisely, it will depend on the vagaries of U.S. President Donald Trump.    At the outset of 2019, the Trump administration continues to convey uncertainty and instability.   The amount of news generated by the president in one week, like this past one, is equivalent to several months’ worth with previous presidents.

“Trump hunkered down in the White House, telling interviewers that he hadn’t emerged in months, forgetting for a moment his frequent trips.   He’s up to his neck in the crisis resulting from the government shutdown, continuing with his promises to build his wall on the Mexican border.   But the latest crisis is only a symptom.   The deluge of headlines in recent days included the following.

“The FBI investigation into Trump began right after he was sworn in two years ago, on suspicions he was a spy or acting on Russia’s behalf.   There was a report he was considering an American withdrawal from NATO, an idea whose very mention sends shivers down the spines of strategic experts, Democrats and Republicans alike.   There was also news of a secret plan initiated by the national security adviser, John Bolton, for attacking targets in Iran.”  (“A wild card thousands of miles away,” by Amos Harel, Haaretz, January 18)

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US-EUROPEAN TRADE WAR

“Transatlantic trump trading” was the title of today’s Brussels Briefing, by Jim Brunsden.

“Ideally trade negotiations between countries should begin on a note of hope:   the desire to deepen economic ties, nurturing prosperity and friendship among their peoples.

But optimism and positivity are not the words that first come to mind when thinking about the talks about to start between the EU and US.

Brussels is expected today to publish its plans for negotiations with Washington that were conceived last year as a way to divert Donald Trump from initiating a full blown transatlantic trade war.”

Things aren’t looking good.   Expect a full-blown trade war between the two trading superpowers.

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BREXIT

The PM has pulled out of a scheduled appearance at Davos next weekend to handle her crisis at home.   (Politico)

Mrs. May has ruled out any further delays on Brexit.   Speaking with Holland’s PM, Mark Rutte, she convinced the PM that there would be no attempt to prolong Brexit beyond March 29th.

The Labour Party’s leader, Jeremy Corbin, gave a strong anti-EU speech, finally making it clear where he stands on the issue.

Leo Varadkar, Irish Prime Minister, is a major obstacle to Brexit.   Brexiteer Lord Lamont says that his refusal to amend the “Irish backstop” makes it impossible to reach agreement on other issues.

From Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, 1/19/19:

“Current events in Britain’s Parliament are making politics in both Israel and America look positively sane and tranquil by comparison.

Around the world, jaws are dropping at the UK’s convulsions over leaving the European Union.   This resembles not so much a divorce as an amputation without anesthetic using blunt knives and a broken saw, with the surgeons throwing punches across the operating table.

“This week, the deal struck between Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU over the Brexit terms was thrown out by an enormous majority in the House of Commons.

Although this was the largest prime ministerial defeat in British history, Mrs. May survived a motion of no-confidence the following evening.”

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LA PUBLIC SCHOOLS STRIKE

LA teachers are on strike, demanding more pay and smaller classes. Sometimes, there are up to 35 pupils per class.

That’s definitely too many.   By comparison, there are 26 in one of my grandchildren’s schools.   The others are in the mid-twenties.  Private schools keep theirs down to 20, which is why their children receive more attention.

One reason for the mess in Los Angeles is that the schools are overwhelmed by immigrants.   One school reported on this week is 70% Hispanic, only 10% white.

It’s impossible for schools to keep up with the demand on their services.

Immigration is a major focus of Brexit – most people voted for Brexit because they wanted less European immigrants in the country.   It’s the same thing here in the US – most people want to keep the country as it is, and not allow other cultures to dominate.   Those at the bottom have to compete with new immigrants who are willing to work for less.

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And finally . . .

 

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TRADE WAR WITH ALLIES BEGINS

TRADE WAR WITH ALLIES BEGINS

At midnight Thursday night the US imposed tariffs on goods from Europe, Canada and Mexico.   The countries of the EU and Canada have been allies of the United States since World War II.

Verbal reaction was swift, with condemnation from Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and threats of retaliation from EU leaders.  The President of France declared them “illegal”.  The European response is:  Retaliate, don’t escalate!

It’s not just bad feeling that will result from the decision by President Trump to impose the tariffs.   The tariffs will lead to higher prices on imported goods, both in the US and the EU; unemployment will also increase, over all, though there may be short-term gains in this area.

Although nobody is left alive from the last trade war that afflicted the western world, many leaders are aware that trade conflicts were a contributory factor to World War II.

The trade war is also coming at a bad time, fresh on the heels of the US tearing up the nuclear deal with Iran.   The Europeans did not agree with the US and are continuing to honor the agreement.

There’s bad feeling all round.

After seventy years of the NATO alliance, member nations outside of the US increasingly feel they are not in an alliance with Washington; rather, they are being dictated to as America changes direction on a number of levels.

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Newsletter – Dispute Among Friends

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas ended his first official visit to Washington yesterday, without reaching a compromise in the transatlantic dispute over policy on Iran.   “We’re pursuing two completely different paths,” Maas declared following his talks with his counterpart Mike Pompeo and the National Security Advisor John Bolton.  The EU remains unified in their policy approach, which is diametrically opposed to that of the Trump administration. Berlin’s attempts to achieve an independent German-EU policy on Iran opposing Washington’s is particularly applauded by Germany’s strategists in the establishment’s foreign policy sectors. Recommendations of submission to the Trump administration’s threats to use force against Teheran, so as not to jeopardize German companies’ highly profitable business relations with the US, are coming from business circles.   Meanwhile, foreign policy experts recommend developing the euro into an alternative global reserve currency.   This could reduce the USA’s potential to apply pressure on Germany’s economy.   (German Foreign Policy, 5/24)

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BELGIUM ATTACKED AGAIN

On Tuesday, a terrorist attacked and killed two policewomen in the Belgian city of Liege.  One of the policewomen was a single mother with twin daughters, aged 13.   A passerby was also killed.   The attacker shouted “Alahu Akhbar” as he stabbed the women repeatedly, then seized one of their guns before shooting at others.

The incident itself was horrific.   But the reaction of the authorities and the media showed how little understanding there is in official circles of the reality of Islamic terrorism.   There was a great deal of speculation as to what “radicalized” the perpetrator of the crime. Was he “radicalized” in prison or on the internet, or what?

After centuries of Islamic conquest and ongoing conflict between Islam and the West, today’s western leaders remain out of touch with reality.   They believe that Islam is a peaceful religion and that only a very small minority of Muslims turn to violence.

What if they are wrong?

Before political correctness, Winston Churchill once said that: ”Islam is more dangerous in a man than rabies in a dog.”

He also observed that:  “A nation that forgets its past has no future.”

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IS IRELAND SET TO ABORT ITSELF?

Last week, Irish voters decided to legalize abortion, bringing Ireland into line with every other EU country except Poland and Malta, two very Catholic countries.

In the last few years, Ireland, also a Catholic country, has also embraced divorce and gay rights.  Its current prime minister is gay and of Indian descent, two radical departures for the Irish.

But, with a small population, Is it really in the country’s interest to make abortion readily available?

Ireland is simply following other European countries, nations with low birth rates due to abortion and other forms of birth control.

To fill the gap left by those missing babies, the nations of western Europe are importing people from other parts of the world, resulting in serious social problems and terror attacks.

Wouldn’t it be better to simply keep the ban on abortion?

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DEATH OF DEMOCRACY

What’s happening in Italy is yet further proof that the EU has a democracy problem.   An entire nation has gone to the polls, yet the vote has been overridden because it delivered the ‘wrong’ result. Europe’s leaders insist they know they must listen to voters, but don’t seem very keen to hear what is being said.  (Freddy Gray, The Spectator, 5/31)