We say we’re helping our allies, but in reality they’re part of our empire, an empire that has an exorbitant price. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
U.S. foreign policy is dominated by a constant search for allies. Big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak. It doesn’t matter. The more the merrier, rather like acquiring more Facebook Friends than anyone else, thereby winning bragging rights.
This incessant search for new allies turned into farce with NATO’s celebration when Montenegro and North Macedonia were admitted. Members of the transatlantic pact exulted, apparently believing that they finally could rest easy, sure that Vladimir Putin’s Slavic hordes would be kept at bay by the vast new armies added to NATO’s ranks.
The US once sought alliances to achieve a common purpose and enhance its security – in theory, at least. Having decided to intervene in Europe in World Wars I and II and the Cold War, it good policy to cooperate with allied powers. (Not that joining the conflicts themselves necessarily made any sense. For instance, the New World had no security stake in the Great War, the imperial murderfest that brought mankind communism, fascism, Nazism, the Second World War, and endless Middle Eastern conflicts in succeeding years.)
Today, however, alliances have gone from means to ends for Washington policymakers. Of course, Europe should be defended, but not by America: the Europeans collectively outclass Russia on most every important measure of national power, and nothing suggests that Vladimir Putin hopes to achieve conquests that Joseph Stalin eschewed. Since NATO serves no necessary military purpose, it has become something very different, a welfare organization by which Americans subsidize the defense of European states which neither feel threatened nor see any reason to invest in their militaries since America has promised to do the job. Indeed, Washington’s defense guarantee almost makes it stupid for Europeans to even field militaries, other than for ceremonial purposes.
If Trump is intentionally trying to piss the Europeans off, he’s doing a good job of it. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
The one thing I never thought I’d say is that Donald Trump is consistent, and yet on the subject of the Nordstream 2 pipeline he has been.
No single project has caused more wailing and gnashing of teeth than Nordstream 2. And since Nordstream 2 is simply the substitute for South Stream, which was supposed to come across the Black Sea into Bulgaria and then feed eastern Europe, this U.S. opposition to another Russian pipeline spans multiple administrations.
So, this is policy that goes far beyond simple 2020 electoral politics, Trump trying to look tough on the Russians, or his misguided Energy Dominance policy.
But here’s the thing, I think Trump is doing this for updated reasons that fit a different agenda than why the U.S. opposed Nordstream 2 previously, because he knows he can’t stop the pipeline now. All he can do is further alienate Germany, who he has targeted as the main problem in Europe.
Before I go any further, though, I think a little history lesson is in order.
U.S. opposition to Nordstream 2 is deeply ingrained on all sides of the political aisle in D.C. From Republicans still fighting the cold war to Democrats having deep ties to Ukrainian gas transit there are a multitude of reasons why Nordstream 2 is verboten in D.C.
On the other hand, Europe’s relationship with Nordstream 2 is, in a word, complicated.
My, what a strange thing it would be if the authorities had plans for vaccination “papers” before anyone had ever heard of Covid-19. I would almost be as if this whole totalitarian rigamarole was pre-planned. From Daniele Pozzati at strategic-culture.org:
Surprise, surprise, the European Commission (EC) had a “Roadmap on Vaccination” ready months before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.
The Roadmap should lead to a “commission proposal for a common vaccination card / passport for EU citizens by 2022”.
Last updated during the third quarter of 2019, the 10-page document was followed, on September 12th, by a “global vaccination summit” jointly hosted by the EC and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Under the header “Ten Actions Towards Vaccination for All – Everyone should be able to benefit from the power of vaccination”, the summit manifesto laments that:
“Despite the availability of safe and effective vaccines, lack of access, vaccine shortages, misinformation, complacency towards disease risks, diminishing public confidence in the value of vaccines and disinvestments are harming vaccination rates worldwide.”
And with them, arguably, the pharmaceutical companies’ profits.
Meet NATO’s new existential enemy: China. Only a spoilsport would point out that China is nowhere near the North Atlantic. NATO needs enemies and China will just have to do. From Brian Cloughley at strategic-culture.org:
On June 8 Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of the U.S.-NATO military alliance, gave a speech at NATO’s new billion dollar headquarters in Brussels. It was followed by a selection of patsy questions, but in spite of the trite predictability of Stoltenberg’s statements and the eager friendliness of the questioners, enough was said to indicate that NATO is still on the lookout for enemies to attempt to justify its continuing shaky existence.
New on the Stoltenberg list is China, which is a long way from the North Atlantic. He was reported as declaring that “the rise of China is fundamentally shifting the global balance of power, heating up the race for economic and technological supremacy, multiplying the threats to open societies and individual freedoms and increasing the competition over our values and our way of life.” He wants NATO to become involved with the U.S. in confronting China which has a population of 1.4 billion, the longest land border in the world (22,117 km) and a coastline of 14,500 km (the U.S. coastline is 19,924 km), which enormous numbers are ample justification for maintenance of a large defence force.
But he complained that China “already has the second largest defence budget. They are investing heavily in modern military capabilities, including missiles that can reach all NATO Allied countries. They’re coming closer to us in cyberspace. We see them in the Arctic, in Africa. We see them investing in our critical infrastructure. And they are working more and more together with Russia. All of this has a security consequence for NATO Allies. And therefore, we need to be able to respond to that, to address that.”
Is there a square inch on the planet’s surface where the US government does not proclaim an interest requiring its intervention? From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
The U.S. is a wreck. Streets are filled with protesters. Neighborhoods are looted and burned. Extremists seized city hall and the surrounding neighborhood in the progressive city of Seattle. American politics is hyper-partisan, divided and hostile, even hateful.
The economic decline remains at depression levels, with major cities only now loosening shutdowns. Many small businesses have closed for good and the survival of even some large firms is in doubt. Washington will be borrowing more than $4 trillion this year and $2 trillion next year – and those numbers likely will increase after another bailout bill expected next month.
But what has official Washington most upset is the president’s plan to bring 9,500 US troops home from Germany by September.
The foreign policy establishment has gone, excuse the phrase, bat-shit crazy. You would think a Satanist cult had taken over the National Cathedral. Or the Prohibitionist Party had won the presidency. Or members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had declared they were joining a pacifist cult and dissolving the US military.
In a brilliant example of projection, Jim Townsend, one of the former somebodies who fills Washington, declared: “The Administration has just lost its mind.” Actually, it is members of the foreign policy establishment, known as the Blob, who agree on intervention everywhere all the time, with disagreement confined to trivialities, who have collectively lost both their professional composure and mental stability. Veritable hysteria has overwhelmed the gaggle of usually staid and composed lawmakers, think tankers, staffers, security consultants, and pundits.
The US government has done its best to stymie pipelines it didn’t like from Russia to Europe, but the Russians and Europeans have managed to sidestep the obstacles the US has thrown in their way. From Pepe Escobar at asiatimes.com:
Ukraine was supposed to prevent Russia from deepening energy ties with Germany; it didn’t work out that way
In sharp contrast, whenever China entered the picture, successful completion prevailed. Beijing financed a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Xinjiang, finished in 2009, and will profit from two spectacular Power of Siberia deals with Russia.
And then there’s Ukraine. Maidan was a project of the Barack Obama administration, featuring a sterling cast led by POTUS, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John McCain and last but not least, prime Kiev cookie distributor Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland.
Ukraine was also supposed to prevent Russia from deepening energy ties with Germany, as well as other European destinations.
Well, it did not exactly play like that. Nord Stream was already operational. South Stream was Gazprom’s project to southeast Europe. Relentless pressure by the Obama administration derailed it. Yet that only worked to enable a resurrection: the already completed TurkStream, with gas starting to flow in January 2020.
NATO has become a vestige of America’s empire. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to remove 9,500 U.S troops from Germany by September. He also set a firm cap of 25,000, instead of allowing the number to swell to 52,000 as units rotate through or deploy for training.
It is a good start. But why did it take him more than three years to act on his criticism of allied cheap-riding on America? And what about the other 25,000 American military personnel in Germany?
Even after the US economy shut down and federal finances cratered, Washington’s foreign policy elite were seeking to add new international duties for Uncle Sam. America and China are teetering on a new cold war, which could turn hot in the Taiwan Strait or elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific. Thus, it is said, Washington must bolster its military alliances, security guarantees, and naval deployments.
Members of the Blob, as Washington’s foreign policy establishment has been called, continue to ferociously oppose the slightest withdrawal from the Middle East. America must fix Syria by confronting the Assad government, ISIS, other Islamist radicals, Turkey, Russia, and Iran. The US certainly cannot leave Iraq, irrespective of the wish of Iraqis. And America’s 18-year war in Afghanistan, in the heart of Central Asia surrounded by Iran, India, Pakistan, Russia, and China, should be accepted as the start of a beautiful permanent commitment. As the Eagles declared in their famous song Hotel California, Washington can never leave-from anywhere.
There are going to be an awful lot of totalitarians out there if we don’t get that second Covid-19 wave. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
Ahead of the fall academic year, American parents are asking one question: If schools reopen, will my child be safe from COVID-19?
Well, there’s some good news from Europe in the last several weeks. The Wall Street Journal has compiled a list of officials from countries who have overwhelmingly reported, that after a month or so of having education systems open, there are limited to no outbreaks of the virus.
Schools in Denmark, Austria, Norway, Finland, and Germany, have been operating for 1-2 months with no issue whatsoever about the virus. This is excellent news for American parents but also for stubborn US education officials who continue to shutter many school systems across the country for the upcoming academic year.
Some of us voted for Trump because we thought he’d pull us out of our stupid wars. Trump hasn’t done so, but he hasn’t started any new wars either. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
Things continue to spiral out of control in the U.S. as the myth of policing fails and anti-civilizational forces move into the power vacuum.
And while I’m still completely committed to the end of the U.S. empire and its imperial edicts, It’s also not lost on me what’s happening, who’s making it happen and how they are taking advantage of this.
I warned you President Trump’s near atavistic pursuit of U.S. ‘enemies’ in places like Syria, Iraq, Iran and Venezuela would turn the world against us. Look at the protests for George Floyd across Europe and tell me things haven’t changed.
Are we going to dismantle the empire in an orderly fashion or a chaotic one? The animals on the streets have cast their vote. What’s yours?
And while Trump has made a hash of foreign policy in so many ways, I also told you that he was smart enough to only play the crazy Ivan role up the to point of actually starting a shooting war.
This is his greatest accomplishment as President. Sadly, it shouldn’t be that great an accomplishment.
And all detractors need to remember this, including me. He hasn’t ended existing wars, but he hasn’t started any new ones. And the U.S. political apparatchiks in D.C. have been braying for wars for nearly four years.
All for one and one for all has fallen apart in Europe since the coronavirus outbreak began. From Soeren Kern at gatestoneinstitute.org:
In Spain, which recently overtook Italy as the epicenter of the coronavirus in Europe, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez committed €200 billion — 20% of the country’s GDP — to alleviate the economic and social consequences of the pandemic. When asked how he would pay for that amount of spending, Sánchez replied that he was counting on financial help from “Europe.”
“The worst growth figure in France since 1945 was in 2009, after the great financial crisis of 2008: -2.2%. We will probably be far beyond -2.2% this year,” Le Maire told the Senate Economic Affairs Committee. “This shows the extent of the economic shock we are facing.” — French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, April 6, 2020.
“Today, not a single European country is doing well, which means there is limited willingness for European countries to come to each other’s aid. They are busy dealing with their own crises. Just witness how Italy has been left alone with its crisis by Europe and now rather gets its medical support from China….” — Oliver Hartwich, Executive Director, The New Zealand Initiative, March 23, 2020.
“An almighty economic earthquake is in the making. In a few weeks or months, several large European economies will require bailout and assistance packages. These will be several times larger than anything Europe has seen. Yet no country, central bank or institution will be eager or even able to provide them. Even the gargantuan sums on the table now will not be enough.” — Oliver Hartwich, Executive Director of The New Zealand Initiative, March 23, 2020
(Image source: iStock)
As the coronavirus unleashes economic shockwaves across Europe, the European single currency, the most visible symbol of European unification, is facing collapse.
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