Tag Archives: NATO

GLOBAL OUTLOOK BLEAK FOR 2019

There have been an increasing number of articles warning about the global economy.   The latest predicts a depression worse than the Great Depression.   None are specific, in terms of “when” but all say the signs are there.

The most common problem cited is debt.   Governmental debt is already over $22 trillion in the US.   This is the highest amount any country in history has ever owed, so it’s difficult to predict what will happen.   In addition, there’s also corporate and private debt.   The figures given do not include mortgage debt, which is also extremely high.   Nor do they include the annual commitments for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other government programs, the so-called entitlements.

The 2008 financial crash started as a mortgage failure.   So did the 1873 crash.   It began in Austria-Hungary and spread around the world.   This particular crash was known as The Great Depression, more than fifty years before the depression of the thirties.   It would be a mistake to think it cannot happen again.

In fact, depressions have been a regular feature in America’s history.   There have been as many as 47 recessions and depressions since independence.   After the end of the Revolutionary War, there was a depression, in which the economy slumped by 50%.   The depression of 1873 lasted 25 years, on and off.   Unemployment was at 50% in the 1896 election, resulting in the highest turnout ever – a full 80% of voters participated that year.

Not every year saw the economy in deep depression.   It came in three waves.   It finally ended with the Spanish-American War, which got the economy moving again.

PANIC OF 1873

The 1873 depression in the US started with the collapse of Jay Cooke & Co., then a major component of the American banking establishment.   Contributory failures were the post-Civil War inflation, rampant speculative investment and losses in the Chicago and Boston fires (1871 & 1872).   Bank reserves plummeted in the first two months from $50 million to $17 million.

“The failure of the Jay Cooke bank, followed quickly by that of Henry Clews, set off a chain reaction of bank failures and temporarily closed the New York stock market.   Factories began to lay off workers as the United States slipped into depression.   The effects of the panic were quickly felt in New York, and more slowly in Chicago, Virginia City, Nevada (where silver mining was active), and San Francisco.

“The New York Stock Exchange closed for ten days starting 20 September.    By November 1873 some 55 of the nation’s railroads had failed, and another 60 went bankrupt by the first anniversary of the crisis.    Construction of new rail lines, formerly one of the backbones of the economy, plummeted from 7,500 miles (12,070 km) of track in 1872 to just 1,600 miles (2,575 km) in 1875.    18,000 businesses failed between 1873 and 1875.    Unemployment peaked in 1878 at 8.25%.    Building construction was halted, wages were cut, real estate values fell and corporate profits vanished. ”  (Panic of 1873, Wikipedia)

GRUNDERKRACH

I single out the 1873 depression because of the similarities in the global situation today.   The depression in German speaking countries is known as the Grunderkrach, or Founders Crash.   When Germany was united following the Franco-Prussian war, a lot of money flowed into the country, mostly from French war reparations. Loans were then made, mostly for mortgages.   When people couldn’t pay them, the banking system collapsed.   This spread to the US and Britain.   It was the beginning of the end of Britain’s global supremacy.

The Great Recession of 2008 began as a housing crisis.   It actually began two years earlier when housing prices started falling.   For years previously house prices had been rising fast.   Millions of people bought homes, homes they could not afford.   The banks loaned to people who should not have had loans.   It was a recipe for disaster.

The same thing is happening again.   Bad loans and speculative investments are pervasive.   Student loans are so high they could be the cause of a collapse by themselves.   Government debt is at an all-time high as are corporate debt and consumer, non-mortgage debt (credit cards).

I am reminded of what the late President of France, Charles de Gaulle, said over 50 years ago.   He did not want Britain to join the EU (he had incredible foresight!).   He dismissed the US and the UK as “the Anglo Saxon debtor nations.”   The British-American economic systems have been built on massive debt.   It works well . . . for a while!   Eventually, there comes the day of reckoning.

That may be this year.

We should never have borrowed so much money, especially after the Crash of 2008.   Often it’s been encouraged by government, when it makes little sense.   Social engineering has boosted the value of homes and increased the number of loans (more profits).   A government decree made under the last administration was that all neighborhoods should be 25% minority; the only way to achieve that was to give 100% loans to people who had never owned a house. Additionally, 100% loans have been made to immigrants, who have had little time to learn how the economy works in the US.

Remember, at stake here is America’s global leadership role.   A serious set-back for the economy would weaken the US.

It’s interesting here to note that the euro is set up very differently, with government borrowing limited to 3%.   The euro has its own problems, but could emerge as the greater currency in the event of a global depression.  It’s already used by more people than the US dollar.

Debt can mean the borrower ends up in servitude to the lender. Note the following warning from scripture:   Proverbs 22:7 7  “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.”

This is a far cry from the promised blessings for obedience:

Deuteronomy 15:6 says:  “For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.”

A second cause of financial concern is impending TRADE WARS.   These will slow down the global economy.   Once again, uncertainty is an issue here.

A third reason the global economy is at risk is BREXIT, now less than two months away.   This could seriously affect inter-European trade.

A fourth factor, increasingly seen, is the economic Rule of Inequality. This is an economic law that predicts the likelihood of revolution based on the gap between the rich and the poor in any country. China is very concerned about this.   There is only one country with a greater gap and that’s the US.   Trump’s election was our “revolution” – if he is not able to deliver, there will be trouble ahead.

There are many countries around the world with a similar gap. France is going through weekly demonstrations about the rising gap between rich and poor; Venezuela and Zimbabwe are on the brink of revolution.

Other factors to watch are China’s slowdown and even the weather. Both can impact economies.

The above are all the predictables.   There may be other factors, unpredicatables, such as war, that can add to economic woes.

It remains to be seen.   But the warnings are there.   The only question is “When?”

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RUSSIA & CHINA POSE BIGGEST THREATS TO US

“Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski warned in 1997 that the greatest long-term threat to US interests would be a “grand coalition” of China and Russia, ‘”united not by ideology but by complementary grievances.”   This coalition “would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower.”

Nobody listened back then, but now it’s becoming clear that the two countries are cooperating to deal with what each perceives as the American threat.   The latest development is in Venezuela, where they are supporting President Maduro and condemning the US for backing the “usurper,” Juan Guaido.

In the past, the US has thought a Sino-Russian entente outlandish. Only now it’s happening.   As Mr. Brzezinski warned, it’s not that they have a lot in common, but rather they share a common enemy.

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UK TO CRASH OUT OF THE EU

Now, nothing can stop Brexit from happening.   Even many supporters of remaining in the EU see that.   The way Europe has treated the UK will make it impossible to avoid a hard Brexit.   (This assumes no change of heart in the EU.)

The facts are that British incompetence has led to Europe just wanting to get it over with.   Looking back on almost 50 years of membership there is a realization that Britain has never been a good fit, either, so why try to keep the British in?

A third reason is NATO.   Most of the other European countries sense that the US is pulling out of NATO, that it doesn’t want the responsibility or cost of defending the other members.   This is why Europe is trying to put together its own military force.   Britain, more pro-American, would only get in the way of this.

So, expect a full Brexit on March 29th.

This will not prevent Mrs. May running around Europe like a chicken with its head cut-off!

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BOOK QUOTE

“From July 1780 until the end of the year, the Catawba River Valley and the adjacent northern districts were the scenes of some of the most brutal warfare ever fought in what is now the United States.   It was a civil war, with all its horrors, as neighbors and families turned on one another with a vengeance.”   (page 140, Partisans and Redcoats, by Walter Edgar, 2001)

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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 . . .

 

MAY SURVIVES NO CONFIDENCE VOTE

Bible prophecy shows that Europe and the Middle East are to be the main focus of end-time events.   Recent and future developments show continuing upheaval in both regions.

In a parliamentary system, there is provision for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.   Mrs. Theresa May survived a vote this week.   200 MPs supported her, with 117 voting against.

The fact that she has survived to see Brexit through to completion, however, is not necessarily a good thing.   Mrs. May has been racking up the frequent flyer miles flying around to European capitals in pursuit of a “deal,” a deal that will keep the UK close to Europe after the people voted to leave it!

The Europeans have said that they will not offer anything better than the deal they offered a few weeks ago, a deal that will, effectively, make the United Kingdom a vassal state of the European Union.   Some deal!

Why is the British prime minister so intent on a “deal” that will enslave the country for decades to come?   Why can’t England walk away from the EU, which is what the voters voted for in the referendum of 2016?   Doesn’t anybody have any recollection of how the United Kingdom was a successful trading nation prior to the EU?   Clearly not – as they don’t think that Britain is up to it any more!

As the game picture at the top of this article shows, there is a great deal of negativity in the UK right now.   Positive voices are few and far between.   (The game resembles the London Underground map.)

The only hope left is if the country ends up with “no deal” on March 29th.   Then, she will be free to pursue other trade deals with nations around the globe.

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GERMANY MOVING IN A NEW DIRECTION

Britain isn’t the only country finding it hard to break away from a super-power.

Germany, too, is feeling “impotent rage at not being able to declare independence from America.”   These words are the opinion of Andreas Kluth, editor-in-chief of Handelsblatt Global.   His article on the subject appears in the Economist special edition, predicting trends for 2019.   The title of the article is “The epiphany of German weakness.”

“In 2019 Germany will face a crisis:  not an economic or political one, but an intellectual and psychological crisis that could be just as wrenching.   For the first time, the German public at large will fully absorb what Berlin elites have known for years:   Germany has no viable foreign or security policy to survive the passing of Pax Americana.”

Since World War II, Germany has submitted herself to the leadership of two other western powers.   First, the United States.   Through membership of NATO and other international institutions, Germany has played a vital but secondary role in international affairs.   Secondly, to France, through the European Union.

Mrs. Merkel is leaving office at a time when these two pillars are crumbling.   The United States, under Donald Trump, has “nullified every assumption that Germany … made since 1945.”   Germany, now under great pressure from the US to contribute more to western defense, can actually now break free from US dominance and go her own way.   But in which direction should she go?   Mrs. Merkel’s successor will have to pave a new path for the country.

At the same time as relations with Washington are changing, so are relations with neighboring France.   Mr. Macron, the French president, began his presidency 18 months ago with a bold new vision for Europe.   This vision is now in ruins as the people revolt against his leadership and the economy is seriously threatened by continued riots.   At the very least, Mr. Macron will have to focus his attention more on France itself; there will be little or no time for Europe.

This coincides with Brexit, which will see the United Kingdom leaving Europe.

So, out of the Big 3, only one is left able to lead the European project. And that country is Germany.

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US PULLING OUT OF MIDEAST?

A second article in The Economist’s “The World in 2019,” predicts “The end of American hegemony” in the Middle East.   This process began a few years ago.

“In 1972 Anwar Sadat expelled Soviet military advisers from Egypt, setting the state for decades of American dominance, and much violent disappointment, in the Middle East.   In 2013 President Barack Obama surrendered America’s hegemony when he refused to take military action against Syria’s use of poison gas, and later sought a nuclear accommodation with Iran.   Donald Trump, by contrast, has lobbed missiles at Syria and menaced Iran.   But as he swings between threatening to crush foes, and getting out entirely, the latter instinct will dominate.   Sometimes events, his advisers or domestic politics may compel him to take action.   But Mr. Trump will mostly prove even more detached than Mr. Obama.”   (Article by Anton LaGuardia, deputy foreign editor, The Economist.)

American detachment from the Middle East will likely result in continuing conflicts in Yemen, Libya, Syria; it could also mean no deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians; and we will likely see Iran strengthened both domestically and regionally, with Hezbollah posing a greater threat to Israel.

American detachment will also see Russia filling the gap, with European nations desperate to halt Russian encroachment into the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUICIDES UP IN US, DOWN GLOBALLY

“The suicide rate in America is up by 18% since 2000.  This is not merely a tragedy; it matters politically, too.   The rise is largely among white, middle-aged, poorly educated men in areas that were left behind by booms and crushed by busts.   Their deaths are a symptom of troubles to which some see President Trump as the answer. Those troubles should not be ignored.”   (“Staying alive,” The Economist,11/24)

Suicide is declining pretty much all over the world, thanks to greater freedom and some helpful policies.” (“Defeating despair,” The Economist, 11/24).

“Globally, the rate has fallen by 38% from its peak in 1994.”

LIFE EXPECTANCY DOWN IN US

“Suicide and drug overdose rates continued to rise in 2017, helping drive the number of U.S. deaths to the highest level in more than 100 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a series of reports on mortality released Thursday.

“Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.  “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”

“Life expectancy in 2017 fell to an average of 78.6 years for the total population, down from 78.7 years in 2016.

“Overall, more than 2.8 million Americans died in 2017, about 70,000 more than in 2016.”

(“Suicides, overdoses rise in US,” John Bacon, USA Today, 11/30)

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CONTINUING BREXIT CRISIS

“The only rule of British politics for the coming weeks is that nobody knows anything.   The prime minister doesn’t know who will resign next.   The factions don’t know their relative strengths.   Nobody knows what is bluff and what is in deadly earnest.

“But one thing that is increasingly clear in the fog of Brexit is that this is the most serious domestic crisis Britain has faced in the modern democratic era.   In the statement that accompanied his resignation as transport minister earlier this month, Jo Johnson accused his own government of “a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis.”   Others have compared the current debacle to the IMF’s bail-out of Britain in 1976 or the gold-standard crisis of 1931.   In fact it is worse than anything else Britain has endured in peacetime. The political system is all but paralysed, the country is divided into warring ideological tribes, the civil service in overwhelmed and, in the event of no deal, Britain would be staring into the abyss.” (“Crisis? What crisis?”  Bagehot, The Economist, 11/24).

The Economist has a new layout, that prompted an anti-Brexit  reader to suggest they move the British news section to the end of the magazine, after the Obituary column!   

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IS THE GLOBAL ECONOMY TAKING A DOWNTURN?

The stock market has been rather jumpy lately.   At the same time, gas has been going down (except in France, where an increase in fuel taxes has resulted in three consecutive weekends of riots); of course, a fall in gas prices may not be such a good thing, as it’s often the harbinger of a slowing economy.

Here’s some other indicators the economy may be headed south:

  • The Federal Reserve has been ratcheting up interest rates.
  • Corporations have loaded up on debt.
  • Unemployment is so low that employers are finally raising wages.
  • The housing market shows signs of softening.

. . . But there are plenty of upbeat signs today, too.

Auto sales are still running strong, if not quite at the peak levels of a couple of years ago.   Then, too, the labor markets still have some slack . . .”    (“Warning signs of recession abound,” John Gallagher, Lansing State Journal, 11/26).

“NEW YORK 30% OFF”

“Some homeowners are selling at bargain-basement prices from what they paid, as the city faces an end to a decade-long boom. Oversupply, rising interest rates and tax-code changes are only partly to blame.” (WSJ, Mansion, 11/30).

“Real estate, oil and employment figures are sending similar messages, and that is that economic activity is starting to slow significantly, just like in 2007 before the Great Recession wiped out trillions of dollars from the markets.

And, according to a blog on The Economic Collapse, those in charge don’t want to admit the reality of what is happening, just like in 2008.” (“Money and markets,” JT Crowe, 11/30)

GM ANNOUNCES 15,000 JOB CUTS   (Monday)

‘In the wake of massive layoffs announced by U.S. carmaker General Motors, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lashed out at President Donald Trump’s recent steel and aluminum tariffs.

At Friday’s ceremony to sign a new version of NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, Trudeau urged Trump to reassess levies imposed on Canadian imports in June.

“Donald, it’s all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries,” Trudeau said Friday, The Hill reported.   According to a tweet from Toronto Star journalist Daniel Dale, the prime minister was referring to the GM cuts, which Trudeau called a “heavy blow.”

(Justin Trudeau blasts Donald Trump’s trade tariffs to his face after General Motors announced huge lay-offs,” Katherine Hignett, Newsweek, 11/30)

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AN ARMY OF THE EUROPEANS

Military Union in the Making

“At this year’s Berlin Security Conference, which ended yesterday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen promoted new steps toward creating an “army of the Europeans.”  According to von der Leyen, “the question is no longer if, but how to reach strategic autonomy” of the EU with its own armed forces. “The European defense union is in the making. “[1] Delicate questions will be raised in the near future, such as that of establishing “independent command capabilities,” alongside those of NATO, for future EU missions and streamlining decision-making structures. German parliamentary reservations should not be abolished, but rather reframed.   Brussels could establish a “committee of legislators from national parliaments specializing in defense,” which could rapidly prepare decisions – in questions of war and peace.   In addition, compulsory EU consensus in foreign policy should be abandoned. “European foreign policy decisions on the basis of large majority support must be made possible.”   This would mean that individual member countries could be compelled to support a foreign policy against  their interests.

Strategic Autonomy

The German foreign policy establishment is already discussing the outline for the further development of the “army of the Europeans.” To actually achieve “strategic autonomy, Europe, more than ever must provide for its own security – perhaps even completely,” according to Jan Techau, Director of the European Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States  .[2] This would mean that, not only conventional, but “nuclear deterrence,” as well, must be “independently organized in Europe.”   [3] This, in turn, must be accompanied “by a significantly enhanced independent intelligence competence and activity.”   Furthermore, with the “shift of acts of aggression to the sector of information technology (IT), and the hybrid warfare in the sectors of media and public opinion influence,” the guarantee of European security will be extended to fields, where Europe … is not among the world leaders,” concluded Techau.   In the future, “the Europeans, and above all, Germany, must accomplish in these fields things that, by far, surpass what the United States has been able to achieve until now.”   The “scope of the task” also demands that in the future “strategy be taught at German universities . . . and strategic education be required as a career-obligation for all civil servants from the B-6 salary level upwards.” And ultimately, “a federal security council” should “be the hub connecting the various strands of ministerial activities on all central questions” so that “the chancellor may have access to thorough strategic advice.” “German foreign policy, 11/29

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‘THE DAY OF THE DICTATOR IS OVER!”

Those were the words of President George H.W. Bush, who has now died, aged 94.   They were spoken at a time of great optimism, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the US intervention against President Noriega of Panama.   Almost thirty years later, democracy isn’t doing so good.  A report last week showed that, in Africa, nations are becoming more dictatorial as leaders refuse to hold elections, amending their constitutions to enable them to stay in power indefinitely.

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TWO CHUMMY MURDERERS

Without any sense of shame or embarrassment, President Vladimir Putin and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, greeted each other warmly at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   Both men think nothing of ordering the murders of people who disagree with them.   Unfortunately, western nations still have to do business with them!

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HERALDING THE SOCIALIST PARADISE

“Senator Bernie Sanders knows what he wants.  In a Washington Post op-ed last week, the democratic socialist from Vermont laid out a legislative agenda for the 116th Congress’s first 100 days.  Among the dizzying array of proposals Mr. Sanders pushed were his “Medicare for All” bill, tuition-free college, student-debt relief, tax increases requiring “wealthy people and large corporations to begin paying their fair share” and a $15 minimum wage indexed to “median wage growth,” not inflation.

“Others in the Democratic Party’s increasingly influential democratic-socialist wing are pressing for their own major legislation to pass the House, even if it will get nowhere in the Republican Senate.   Rep.-elect Alexandria Occasion-Cortez, for example, wants a “Green New Deal.”   Sounding too much like a Maoist functionary, she describes it as a “national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” to make America carbon neutral.”   (“Stopping the Socialist Resurgence,” Karl Rove, WSJ, November 29th)

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“Then Moses went up into the mountain and a cloud covered
 the mountain. — and the cloud covered it six days.
And on the seventh day He (the LORD) called to Moses out of
the midst of the cloud.”  (Ex 24: 15-16)

RETIRE AND ENJOY THE GRANDKIDS

The picture above was taken last Sunday in Indianapolis.  It was the first time all ten of our grandchildren were together.  The picture was posted to FaceBook before I had an opportunity to see it.  I was asked a couple of days later why I wasn’t smiling.  The simple truth is that, moments before, I had been trying to get the boys (aged 2 through 6) to sit still, look at the camera and smile.  I was exhausted and remember collapsing on to the couch!

It’s great being a grandfather.   And Diane loves being a grandmother.

Our advice to others in our age group – don’t work until it’s too late to enjoy the grandchildren.   You will find the time you spend with them rewarding – and they will remember you until they are old and have their own grandchildren.

Retire and enjoy the grandkids!

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ARMISTICE DAY – ONE HUNDRED YEARS ON

World War One came to an end exactly 100 years ago, on November 11th, 1918.   The following article shows that many in Germany want to resurrect the German Empire that collapsed at the end of the Great War.   The article is taken from France24, a French television website.

100 years later: Germany’s far right is trying to resurrect the German Empire  

Berlin (AFP) – 26 Oct 2018

Germany’s far right is trying to rehabilitate the German Empire and its role in World War I, resuming a decades-old debate ahead of the centenary of the armistice.

The magazine Compact, which is close to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), is publishing a special November issue dedicated to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles which held the Reich responsible for the Great War and compelled the country to make colossal reparations.  The title recalls the rhetoric used in the 1920s by those nostalgic for Imperial Germany and the Nazis: “The shame of Versailles:   how the victorious powers enslaved Germany.”  Its online story is headlined “Germany in chains.”

The aim is to reevaluate the German Empire (1871-1918) which for decades has been seen in the collective consciousness as the first of the destructive powers of the 20th century.

‘Bid for world power’

Hamburg University historian Fritz Fischer in the early 1960s confronted the German public with the then controversial thesis that Imperial Germany carried the sole responsibility for the war and the horrors of the Somme, Verdun and Gallipoli.   In his work “Griff nach der Weltmacht” (Bid for World Power), Fischer argued that the Germany of William II, dominated by a racist and imperialist elite, had deliberately instigated World War I in a bid to become a world power.  Fischer argued that Berlin used the crisis sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to go to war with France and Russia to create a German-dominated Europe and Africa — and that this unfulfilled ambition paved the way for the Nazi regime to follow.  This overturned the then entrenched national belief that Germany had fought a defensive war.

 

Joern Leonhard of Freiburg University said Fischer’s views — at heart a “virulent criticism of the German Empire, militarism and imperialism” — are “still broadly shared today by the left.”  By contrast, the AfD wants to “glorify the Empire” as a state that “was modern, had strong industrial development and was very conservative,” said historian Klaus-Peter Sick.  Representatives of the extreme right in their speeches praise the former Imperial Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) and the era of “Prussian Palaces.”  Sick said that “the values of the German Reich correspond” to those of the AFD, “discipline and order.”  AfD leader Alexander Gauland went so far as to describe the Hitler regime as a “mere speck of bird [dung]” relative to “1,000 years of glorious German history.”  Sick said that the goal of the far right, at a time when the last eye-witnesses are disappearing, is to ensure “that the Germans are proud of their history and the German nation and stop seeing the spectre of Nazism everywhere.”

Old wounds

Public interest in the origins of the First World War was revived with the 2013 release of the bestseller “The Sleepwalkers:  How Europe went to war in 1914” by Australian historian Christopher Clark of Cambridge University.   Rather than just blame Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire, Clark argues that other European powers shared an imperialist paranoia and, without intending to, sleepwalked into the first industrial-scale war.  The success of the book among German readers “betrayed a deep-rooted need to free themselves from blame and guilt,” said the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  The AfD’s Bavaria chapter has promoted Clark’s tome on its website.

While Germany has gone to great lengths to remember and atone for World War II, Nazi atrocities and the Holocaust, remembrance of the First World War is far more low-key.   Even in this centenary year, commemorations remain minimal.  The foreign ministry hosted a conference entitled “Winning peace” in mid-October, but it was not open to the general public.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel will only participate in one ceremony, alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, on November 10 in Rethondes, the site of the signing of the Armistice.  “German politicians attach great importance to not opening old wounds,” said Leonhard.

https://www.france24.com/en/20181026-100-years-german-far-right-seeks-rehabilitate-empire

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Merkel urged to make ‘Germany a NUCLEAR SUPERPOWER for Europe’ over US-exit fears 

GERMANY should become a nuclear superpower and spearhead European efforts to acquire weapons, according to leading politicians.   Berlin is under pressure to obtain nuclear weapons for the EU over fears the United States will leave NATO.

Head of Poland’s ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczynski told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he would “welcome an EU nuclear superpower” shortly before meeting Angela Merkel in Warsaw.

It is thought he may have pressed the German Chancellor on the issue during the visit.

Angela Merkel has been urged to make Germany a nuclear superpower

(“Merkel urged to make ‘Germany a nuclear super-power for Europe’ over US exit fears,” Daily Express, 10/23)

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MORE EUROPEAN NEWS

*   Poland is going through a major battle between Left and Right, with Jewish issues always in the background.   Is it condemned to carry this baggage or can it focus on the new threat?

*   Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán aspires to push Angela Merkel aside and become the new leader of Europe. Is this crazy or does he have a chance?

*   Austria is the first European country outside the Soviet bloc to have a government coalition of a legacy conservative party and what the media calls a far-right party.   Is this a model or an exception?   (Daniel Pipes, promoting an educational tour of the three countries, all threatened by the growing Islamic threat; 10/26)

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UNITED STATES

“The (US) midterm elections are all about the man who’s not on the ballot.” — referring to President Trump.   (USA Today 10/26)

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ISLAM PERSECUTING CHRISTIANS IN NIGERIA

“Nigerian Christianity is under siege from radical Islam. The country’s importance to Africa, and to Christianity as a whole, makes this siege particularly noteworthy.   With a population of nearly 200 million – about 50% Christian, 40% Muslim and 10% animist (traditional pagan religion) – by 2050 Nigeria will become the third most populous country in the world, the United Nations estimates. No wonder Nigeria has been a strategic target for radical Islamists for several decades.

“Boko Haram, a radical Islamic movement whose name roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden,” has ramped up attacks on Christians this year. Since 2009 when Boko Haram began its rampage, about 20,000 Nigerians have been hacked with machetes or shot.  Two million have been displaced. Pastors and their families have been specifically targeted for death.

“Pastors in northern and central Nigeria face daunting pressures. Some conduct funerals almost every week for victims, often in mass burials.   They struggle to answer their parishioners’ questions about God’s love and justice.   They hear powerful voices dismiss this as an ethnic clash, but they understand it is a strategic scorched earth war, a jihad against Christianity.”   (“Boko Haram put a bounty on my head,” by Hassan John, an Anglican priest and journalist; Wall Street Journal, 10/26).

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CHRISTIANITY vs ISLAM

In Western Germany, 42% of children under the age of six now come from a migrant background, according to Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, as reported by Die Welt.  (Gatestone, 10/26)

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FACEBOOK AND IRAN DISINFORMATION

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook has uncovered a covert Iranian disinformation campaign which attempted to sow political discord in the U.S. over such hot-button issues as race, immigration, police brutality and President Trump ahead of the November midterm elections.

The social media giant said Friday it detected the activity coming from dozens of pages, accounts and groups on Facebook and Instagram late last week.  Facebook removed  82 Facebook pages, groups and accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” that originated in Iran and targeted people in the U.S. and U.K. over the course of the last year, the company said.”  (USA Today, 10/26)

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CHINA vs AMERICA

“East Asian countries increasingly are joining the US in believing that a triumphant China will “treat us like dogs,” as one Asian diplomat remarked to me recently.   (“How to win a Cold War with Beijing,” by Seth Cropsey, WSJ, 10/26)

“For the past quarter century America’s approach to China has been founded on a belief in convergence.   Political and economic integration would not just make China wealthier, they would also make it more liberal, pluralistic and democratic . . .

“Today convergence is dead.   America has come to see China as a strategic rival – a malevolent actor and a rule-breaker.   The Trump administration accuses it of interfering in America’s culture and politics, of stealing intellectual property and trading unfairly, and of seeking not just leadership in Asia, but also global dominance.  It condemns China’s record on human rights at home and an aggressive expansion abroad.   This month, Mike Pence, the vice-president, warned that China was engaged in a “whole of government” offensive.   His speech sounded ominously like an early bugle-call in a new cold war.

“Do not presume that Mr. Pence and his boss, President Donald Trump, are alone.   Democrats and Republicans are vying to outdo each other in bashing China.   Not since the 1940’s has the mood among American businessfolk, diplomats and the armed forces swung so rapidly behind the idea that the United States faces a new ideological and strategic rival.”   (“China v America,” The Economist, 10/20).

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CHINA CATCHING UP

Right now, the US has more billionaires than China, but China is adding two per week.   (Deutsche Welle News, 10/26)

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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Two new churches have recently opened their doors in our neighborhood.

One is called “Impact” and meets in the Lansing Mall at 10.30am every Sunday.   It is hoped that it will save the mall.   Like malls everywhere nowadays, it has a lot of empty stores and a declining number of visitors.

In keeping with the times (and the needs of the mall), the church is encouraging people to come to church, then stay to shop (from 12 noon on).   They can also stay for a movie at the cinema in the mall; or have lunch or a beer at a bar in the facility.

The other church is more interesting.  It’s a one-theme church, focusing on forgiveness.  They have billboards on the way into Lansing encouraging people to be forgiven; and to forgive others.

Most Christians are very aware that they need forgiveness.   Not so many are able to show forgiveness toward others.  Yet, if we can’t show forgiveness, our own eternal life is at stake.

The Lord’s Prayer reminds us of the need for us to receive forgiveness and to show it to others.

“and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,”   (Matthew 6:15)

Jesus Christ also said the following on this subject:   “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (sins)” (Mark 11:26)

These are sobering words, particularly as we get older. We don’t want to miss out on eternal life because we’ve not shown forgiveness to others!

THE ELEPHANT IN THE COMMITTEE ROOM

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

While you were preoccupied with the Senate hearing on Judge Kavanaugh, the following happened:

  1. The President of the United States, Donald Trump, was laughed at while addressing the United Nations. That was on September 26th.
  2. On the previous day, Mrs. Theresa May was scorned at a summit of European Union members. The other 27 leaders turned their backs on her.
  3. The German Defense Minister announced that the new European Defense Force is ready for action, and could replace NATO.

But none of these news items could be fitted into our national news programs – sexual scandals must always come first, especially if they undermine the Republicans.

The “trial” of the nominated Supreme Court judge was disturbing, to say the least.   Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?”   If the Guinness Book of World Records had an entry for the most illogical statements made at any one event, the Kavanaugh hearings would have everybody else beat!     His accuser was found credible, but no proof was offered; while others (witnesses) could not remember anything.   This did not stop hundreds of women from insisting he was guilty because they were sexually harassed at some time in their own lives!!!   As in a Kafkaesque nightmarish novel, it was a case of guilty until proven innocent.

When Kavanaugh defended accusations against him, he said he was a virgin until he got married (at least he implied that).   One commentator reacted by saying this was “Weird!”   What sort of a society have we become?

Of course, the real issue, the elephant in the committee room, was not mentioned.   The deep fear of all those accusing Judge Kavanaugh is that another conservative appointed to the bench would give the court a conservative majority, that could reverse the 1973 decision of the Supreme Court,   Roe v Wade – the ruling that made abortion legal and led to the murders of 61 million innocent babies.

“As malignant as were the campaigns against Supreme Court nominees Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, even they didn’t face accusations as vile and unrelenting as the unsubstantiated charges against Brett Kavanaugh.   Adding to the injustice is that the frenzy surrounding his nomination isn’t really about him.

“It’s about Roe v Wade.   The 1973 Supreme Court decision upended the laws of all 50 states on behalf of a constitutional right to abortion the Constitution somehow neglects to mention.   Since then, the advocates of a living Constitution posit that while our Founding document is infinitely malleable, this one ruling is fixed and sacred.”   (“Destroying Brett Kavanaugh,” by William McGurn, WSJ, 10/2).

Not only did the Founding Fathers have no intention of allowing abortion, the idea did not enter our culture until the twentieth century, as a direct consequence of embracing Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, introduced in 1859.   You can read about the slow progression in thinking in the book “From Darwin to Hitler,” by Richard Weikart, 2004.   I doubt that any of America’s founding fathers even thought about abortion, let alone intended for abortion-on-demand to be included in the constitution!

61 MILLION LIVES LOST

I am not endorsing Senator Rand Paul when I quote from a recent letter (September 4th) on the subject of abortion:

“For 45 years, nine unelected men and women on the Supreme Court have played God with innocent human life.  They have invented laws that condemned to painful deaths without trial more than 61 million babies for the crime of being “inconvenient” . . .  Now the time to grovel before the Supreme Court is over.”

At the same time as killing 61 million (mostly white) babies, we have allowed into the country about the same number of people, mostly of different cultures, some even posing a threat to our very existence.   Where’s the sense in this population replacement program?   Before it goes any further, it needs to be stopped.

The figure of 61 million refers solely to America.   There’s also Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and the rest of the West.   All these nations have pursued a policy of national suicide!   The world is becoming more and more dangerous and we seem to be heading for a monumental clash of civilizations, predicted by Samuel Huntington in his book “The Coming Clash of Civilizations,” published in 1992.   As the number of whites is declining, thanks partly to abortion, while other races increase in number, the threat to western civilization increases!  It may be too late to save the West, but we can start by reversing Roe v Wade, and similar decisions made in other western nations.

I’ve heard Christians say that there’s never been a better time to be an American than now.   Can these two be reconciled?   Can we really say it’s a great time to be an American when so many innocents are being killed, in the name of CONVENIENCE?

That decision, together with the 1965 Immigration Act, are responsible for the POPULATION REPLACEMENT policy that has been going on for five decades.   Whereas fifty years ago, whites in America were almost 90% of the population, today they are less than 60% and headed for oblivion.

DOMESTIC TURMOIL

It’s getting personal!

Our grandchildren have a weakness for Cadbury’s chocolate fingers.   Not wanting them to develop any addictions, they have only been an occasional treat.

A few months ago, I bought them for less than $3.   When I looked for them again a few days ago, they had gone up to $6.75.

The only reason I can think of to explain that jump is an increased tariff on imported chocolate (they are produced in the United Kingdom).   The dispute is between the US and the EU, of which the UK remains a member for another seven months. Hopefully, after Brexit the price will come down.

Yesterday, I checked at WalMart, where I got them for less than $3 earlier this year.   They are no longer selling them.   They have also stopped selling Tim Tams from Australia.

Armageddon must be close – that’s all I can say!

Request: if anybody lives in the Cincinnati area, could they please check availability and price next time they visit Jungle Jim’s?

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207 DAYS LEFT UNTIL BREXIT

Talking of Brexit (and food), you would think the British didn’t eat before they joined the European Union.

Those opposed to leaving the 27-nation EU are attempting to scare the general population, saying that there will be food shortages and their prescriptions may no longer be available.

For the record, the United Kingdom was the world’s most successful trading nation in Victorian times.   They continued as a major trader right up until they entered the EU in 1973.

Prior to that ill-informed decision, major trading partners included the Commonwealth (former British territories), the United States and EFTA (European countries that were not a part of the EU).   Food was a lot cheaper than it is now.   The UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa had a preferential trading agreement, which ensured cheap food for the mother country and gave preference for British exports.   Withdrawing from this agreement was one of the biggest mistakes Britain ever made.

The UK cannot sign any new trading agreements until after leaving the EU. When they do, expect food prices to drop.     It is, of course, possible that the cost of French cheeses and German wines may rise, but, believe it or not, you can live without them! (My grandchildren, deprived of Cadbury’s fingers, are surviving!)

From the WSJ yesterday:

WSJ Brexit Beyond

Britain Ramps Up Preparations for No-Deal Brexit:    The U.K. government on Thursday published advice for British businesses on how to prepare for an abrupt and messy break with the European Union, a move aimed at underscoring to Brussels that it is serious about walking away from talks if it doesn’t get a satisfactory deal.

Of note:   The Wall Street Journal has a regular “Brexit and Beyond” column.  They have now added a sub-title:  “Europe in Flux.”

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POLITICAL TURMOIL AFFLICTS ANGLO COUNTRIES

Thanks to Brexit, there’s a great deal of political instability in the UK right now.   Theresa May seems unlikely to be able to deliver a “deal” with the EU, while satisfying those who want to leave.   Attempting to do so is really a contradiction!

According to one paper earlier this week, over 100 Conservative MPs are ready to rebel over this.   That could mean a coup against Mrs. May, replacing her with somebody more to their liking.   Boris Johnson is still the favorite.   Mr. Johnson is more conservative than Mrs. May and does not want to compromise with the EU.

Don’t assume this won’t happen.   I woke up this morning to find a similar “coup” took place in Australia on Friday (the day is already over in the Antipodes).    Malcolm Turnbull, leader of the governing Liberal Party (the Conservative Party of Australia) has been ousted and replaced with Scott Morrison.   The latter is more conservative than the former.

Canada is also going through some political turmoil, as Maxime Bernier is quitting the Conservative Party and forming his own party dedicated to “more freedom, less government.”   In recent weeks, he has launched Twitter attacks against PM Justin Trudeau’s “extreme multiculturalism” and immigration policy, according to the BBC’s website this morning.

Mr. Trudeau, the country’s prime minister, is a Liberal who has welcomed thousands of Muslim refugees from the Middle East.   The Conservatives remain in opposition, with an election expected late next year.

The UK, Canada and Australia all share a common heritage and remain members of the Commonwealth.   With a very different political system, the United States is also going through a great deal of internal turmoil after two of President Trump’s former political associates were found to be breaking the law.   The implication is that the president did likewise.   Calls for his impeachment are growing. I don’t think this will happen as the Republicans control both houses in Congress and President Trump has a very loyal support base.

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GERMANY’S CONTINUED RISE TO WORLD PROMINENCE

“The Lord says:   I am furious!  And I will use the King of Assyria as a club.”  (Isa. 10:5; Contemporary English Version).

From Time magazine:

Europe should scale up military spending in order to act as a counterpoint to an unpredictable and unreliable United States, the German foreign minister said in an op-ed Wednesday, an unusually forthright criticism of U.S. foreign policy by a senior political figure in Europe.

In the German newspaper Handelsblatt entitled “A New World Order,” Heiko Maas said that Europe and the U.S. have been drifting apart for years.   Instead of waiting for Trump’s presidency to end, he argued, Europe should take an “equal share of responsibility” globally.

Yet Maas joined in agreement with Trump in demanding NATO members increase their defense spending.   “It is in our own interest to strengthen the European part of the North Atlantic Alliance,” he wrote.   However, he continued, this was “not because Donald Trump is always setting new percentage targets, but because we can no longer rely on Washington to the same extent.”   (Germany’s Foreign Minister: when the US ‘crosses the line,” Europe must act,” by Billy Perrigo.)

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From Deutsche Welle:

Germany on track for world’s largest trade surplus for third consecutive year.    Deutsche Welle * 21 Aug 2018

The country’s $299 billion surplus is poised to attract criticism, however, both at home and internationally.

Germany is expected to set a €264 billion ($299 billion) trade surplus this year, far more than its closest export rivals Japan and the Netherlands, according to research published Monday by Munich-based economic research institute Ifo.

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GERMANY BLAMES TRUMP TARIFFS FOR DESTROYING ECONOMY — MINISTER IN FURIOUS RANT                                (headline in Daily Express; article by Paul Withers, 8/20)

“The US President has triggered a bitter trade war with the likes of Europe, China and Canada by imposing huge import tariffs on a number of goods, including steel and aluminum.

Trade war

He has accused them of unfair trade practices and insists the tariffs are aimed at protecting American jobs.

“Speaking to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier took aim at the US President, claiming consumers were taking the brunt of his import tariffs because they are driving up prices.

He said:   “This trade war is slowing down and destroying economic growth – and it creates new uncertainties.”

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A NUCLEAR GERMANY?

German bomb debate goes nuclear

The security community has become unnerved in the face of Donald Trump’s threats, and some are thinking the unthinkable.

“It’s crucial for Germany and Europe that we have a strategic debate”   — Ulrike Franke, analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations

BERLIN — Imagine a nuclear-armed Germany (first line of article – (Matthew Karnitschnig, 8/6, Politico)

Headline in the Singapore Straits Times:  “Can Germany and Japan replace the United States?”