The Iranian Fars News Agency aired a short video on January 10, 2020, titled “Severe Revenge,” dramatizing an Iranian assassination of U.S. President Donald Trump. In the video, Iranian officials are seen planning their revenge for the killing of Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani. They study a board with a diagram of possible targets, U.S. President Trump is at the head and Israeli PM Netanyahu, Secretary of State Pompeo, Saudi Crown Prince Bin , and Masoud Rajavi, former leader of Mujahedeen-e-Khalq are at the bottom. The Iranian officials say they are “going for the big fish,” and one of them says: “We should target their head.” In the video, the U.S. Capitol Building is blown up and then the Iranian forces storm the White House, shooting anyone in their sight. President Trump, Secretary of State Pompeo and PM Netanyahu, (among others) lie dead on the White House floor. The voice of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is heard in the background, saying: “Severe revenge awaits the criminals whose dirty hands are soiled with his blood.” (MEMRI 1/14)
EUROPEANS STILL HOPE FOR IRAN DEAL
The decision by France, Germany and the UK to trigger the dispute resolution mechanism in the landmark Iran nuclear deal is a high-risk move driven by a lack of better options. It underscores the tough spot the Europeans are in as they vie to save an accord that has been under siege ever since the US pulled out of it 20 months ago and slapped harsh sanctions on Tehran.
The launch of the dispute procedure yesterday crystallises the threat of the nuclear agreement’s demise and the reimposition of UN sanctions on Iran, but the so-called “E3” European powers want neither. Instead, they hope to force Iran to back down from an escalating series of breaches of the accord launched to retaliate against the US “maximum pressure” economic squeeze. (Michael Peel, Brussels Briefing, Financial Times, 1/15/2020)
PLANS FOR ISLAMIC SUPERPOWER
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief advisor, retired Turkish general Adnan Tanrıverdi, has been articulating a vision of a unified Islamic superpower through conferences and documents published by his organizations. This vision is reflected in President Erdoğan’s foreign policy.
The Justice Defenders Strategic Studies Center (ASSAM), of which Tanrıverdi is chairman of the board, has scheduled seven annual “congresses,” of which three have taken place, to work through the technical problems in the formation and governance of an “Islamic union.” At a recent ASSAM Congress, Tanrıverdi called for the coordination of the joint manufacturing of weapons and military equipment among Islamic countries, saying: “States cannot stand tall against the countries whose weapons they use.” ASSAM has also published a 69-page draft of a constitution for a planned shari’a-based confederation of 61 Islamic countries. This constitution declares that “sovereignty belongs to shariah,” that Istanbul is to be the capital of the confederation, that the Arabic language would be taught in all of its schools, and that its name will be “Asrica,” which is formed from a combination of Asia and Africa. (MEMRI, 1/14)
Dutch and German Shipyards to Build Warships for Germany Worth 6 Billion by Reuters, 14 Jan 2020, © New York Times Company
BERLIN — Germany has awarded Dutch shipyard Damen a contract to construct at least four new multi-role warships worth nearly 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in an alliance with its Bremen-based partner Luerssen, the armed forces and budget lawmakers said on Tuesday. The ship tender is one of Germany’s biggest arms projects, along with a contract for the MEADS missile defense system and the new Franco-German fighter jet (FCAS), underlining Berlin’s efforts to increase its military capabilities. The first warship is expected to be delivered in 2027, the Bundeswehr armed forces said in a statement, confirming a Reuters report from Monday. The contract includes an option to build two additional MKS 180 warships. Lawmakers told Reuters that about two-thirds of the production will take place at Luerssen’s shipyards and other sites in northern Germany. “The decision for the MKS 180 to be mainly built by the Luerssen Group and thus in Germany is a good decision which strengthens Germany as a marine and shipyard location,” said Eckhardt Rehberg, chief budget lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives. Germany’s new warships will be able to attack targets on land and under water, and provide air cover for other vessels. Other companies interested in the MKS 180 warship tender were ThyssenKrupp and German Naval Yards. Damen said in a statement that its alliance also included Hamburg-based Blohm+Voss shipyard and France’s Thales. It estimated that about 80% of the tender’s net investment would remain in Germany.
Germany to invest €62 billion to modernize rail network . The German government on Tuesday agreed to pump €62 billion into biggest modernization ever in Germany,” said Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer.
The German government on Tuesday agreed to pump €62 billion into modernizing its rail network system, as part of a wider plan to incite commuters to opt for greener public transport options. “We’ve just signed the most important programme of modernization ever in Germany,” said Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, adding that “this is the decade for railway.” Besides the massive sum stumped up by the state German rail operator Deutsche Bahn will also plow an additional €24 billion into the renewal programme. The investments will go towards “replacing obsolete installations,” improving access to disabled passengers as well as renovating rail bridges, said Scheuer. (The Local Germany )(https://www.thelocal.de/20200114/germany-to-invest-62-bn-euros-by-2030-to-modernise-rail-network)
Germany posts record-breaking budget surplus
Germany ended 2019 with a budget surplus of €13.5 billion. The government wants to spend on infrastructure and other projects, but critics say the money isn’t getting where it needs to go. (Deutsche Welle, 13 Jan 2020) (https://www.dw.com/en/germany-posts-record-breaking-budget-surplus/a-51991140)
AN AMERICAN VIEW OF BRITISH ROYALS
Long ago the British royals ceded all direct power to Parliament. Precisely in being freed from politics — in leaving its dirty work to politicians — the Queen now serves as a brake on democratic excess, just as democracy acts as a brake on the crown. In a 2010 article for First Things, David Bentley Hart noted the delicate balance:
“The ideal king,” he wrote, “would be rather like the king in chess: the most useless piece on the board, which occupies its square simply to prevent any other piece from doing so, but which is somehow still the whole game.”
In this sense Elizabeth has been the perfect constitutional monarch. She keeps above the political fray. She puts on a good British face to the world, even to foreign representatives she might despise, because that is what her nation needs. She happily attends local events in the smallest part of her realm.
A woke queen could not do this. Elizabeth may at times be mocked for her restraint and dowdiness, but those qualities are both reassuring and dignified. Indeed, even though the British elect their politicians, almost always they seem to feel more affection for their monarch than for their prime minister. And Elizabeth has done it without interruption since 1952, notwithstanding the private heartache and public embarrassment she has had to endure, including Charles’s disastrous first marriage and Prince Andrew’s association with Jeffrey Epstein.
The Queen’s service might also inform today’s debate about liberal democracy. Plainly monarchy is not suited for the US, given our history. But liberalism is not one-size-fits-all. And against those who argue that modernity has overtaken the monarchy, in Britain the crown is one of those enduring institutions — along with church and family — to which liberalism must look for the social cohesion and cultural capital it needs to thrive but cannot itself create.
As British society fragments and Merry Old England gives way to a far more religiously and racially diverse United Kingdom, the Crown offers something to unify people. Some defenders of the Duchess of Sussex now suggest that it was British racism that did her in. The truth is that the diversity Meghan Markle brought the royal family by marrying into it was cheered and celebrated. (William McGurn, The Australian, 1/14, reproduced from the WSJ)
A LEFT-WING NATIONALIST PARTY
Swedish Communists Wake Up — Just days ago, Sputnik reported on the fact that almost half of the members of the Communist Party in Malmö, Sweden, are resigning. They plan to establish a new workers’ party that no longer features multiculturalism, LGBT interests, and climate change as key policy goals. Nils Littorin, one of the defectors, told a local newspaper that today’s Left has become part of the elite and has come to “dismiss the views of the working class as alien and problematic.” Littorin suggested that the Left “is going through a prolonged identity crisis” and that his group, instead, intends to stick to the original values, such as class politics. Littorin adds: “[The Left] don’t understand why so many workers don’t think that multiculturalism, the LGBT movement and Greta Thunberg are something fantastic, but instead believe we are in the 1930s’ Germany and that workers who vote [right-wing] Sweden Democrats have been infected by some Nazi sickness.” In a piece of simple insight previously rare on the Left, he argues that the rise in right-wing votes for people like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are in fact due to “widespread dissatisfaction with liberal economic migration that leads to low-wage competition and the ghetto-isation of communities, a development that only benefits major companies.” Rather than being beneficial to working class Whites, Littorin condemns a “chaotic” immigration policy that has led to “cultural clashes, segregation and exclusion due to an uncontrolled influx from parts of the world characterised by honour culture and clan mentalities.”
Littorin continues to talk sense when it comes to the LGBT agenda. He explains that LGBT issues and the climate movement are merely “state ideologies” that are “rammed down people’s throats.” Littorin adds that phenomena like these happen at the expense of real issues, such as poverty, homelessness, and income equality: “Pride, for instance, has been reduced to dealing with sexual orientation. We believe that human dignity is primarily about having a job and having pension insurance that means that you are not forced to live on crumbs when you are old.”
On immigration, Galloway argues that there is “nothing left-wing about unlimited mass immigration. It decapitates the countries from which the immigrants leave, and drives down wages in those where they arrive. The wealthy benefit from it, as they can afford cheap labor for their companies, or cheap au-pairs, cheap baristas, cheap plumbers. But the working class suffers.” (Andrew Joyce, 12/29/19)
TO THE POINT
- WORLD’S OLDEST CONTINENT – With its low birth rate and fast-ageing population, Europe is facing a demographic crisis, one that economists fear could hit growth and public finances. While the global population overall is getting older, Europe is an extreme example of this trend, particularly in the continent’s south and east, which have been hit by record-low fertility rates and emigration. An analysis of the main demographic trends highlights the challenge faced by policymakers. Europe has had higher longevity and lower fertility rates than the rest of the world over the past few decades. It is now the region with the world’s oldest population. The median age in Europe is 43, 12 years older than the rest of the world. (Valentina Romel, Financial Times, 1/14/2020)
- ECONOMIST COMMENT ON TRUMP AND IRAN – He may have deterred conventional attacks, but goaded Iran to build a bomb faster. (Leaders, Jan 9th 2020 edition, Economist)
- TWO POPES DISAGREE – There’s a dispute between Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict, on, of all issues, celibacy. There’s no biblical basis for celibacy, but conservatives in the church say that priests cannot serve the church properly if their loyalties are divided. Pope Francis is more liberal on the issue, wanting to resolve the shortage of priests, particularly in South America. Pope Benedict takes a conservative view that priests should not be allowed to marry.
- AMERICAN REVOLUTION — “The conflict that rent the United States in 1861-65 was not America’s first civil war — the American Revolution was. The fight for independence pitted neighbor against neighbor and family member against family member, exemplified by the split between Founding Father Benjamin Franklin and Tory son William, the final royal governor of New Jersey. Violence arising from these and countless other pesonal breaks rendered expanses of the former colonies ‘danger land.’ as one historian has called the impact of the internecine warfare that raged between loyalists and patriots. ” (“That Time General Washington Proposed to Execute An Innocent Man,” by Peter R. Henriques, American History, February 2020)