Tag Archives: Europe

Short Armenia vs Azerbaijan war update, by the Saker

The situation is getting both worse and more complicated. From the Saker at thesaker.is:

As was predicted by many, in spite of the agreement signed in Moscow, thing on the ground in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan  have escalated: the Armenians have claimed that Azeri drones have attacked Armenian tactical ballistic missiles on Armenian soil and the Azeris have confirmed this, saying that this was both a warning and a preemptive attack to protect Azeri civilians.

Bottom line is this: Azerbaijan has now officially attacked Armenian soil (as opposed to Karabakh soil) and Armenia now has the right to appeal to the CSTO.  So far, the Armenians have not done so, but now they can and, I believe, probably will do so.

Another interesting development is that the USA has accused Turkey of being involved in this war.  This means that by now all three countries Russia, France and the USA are now declaring that the Turks (and or their “good terrorist” proxies from Syria) are involved.  Aliev is outraged and accused everybody of lying.

Finally, Azeri and Turkish outlets have claimed the Kurds are now fighting on the Armenian side.  However, there have been no verifiable sources for this probably false rumor.

As for the Armenian leader Pashinian, he has accused Aliev of being “Hitler”.

What does all this mean?

Well, for one thing, it was inevitable that the very first ceasefire agreement would be broken.  In such situations, they typically are.

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No. More Debt Is Not The Answer, by Daniel Lacalle

No nation ever borrowed its way to prosperity. From Daniel Lacalle at dlacalle.com:

In an article published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Isabel Schnabel, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB states that governments taking more debt now should not be a concern, and would strengthen the central bank independence in the future.

She claims that “the decisive fiscal policy intervention in the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis strengthens the effectiveness of monetary policy and mitigates the long-term costs of the pandemic. With targeted, forward-looking investment, not least under the umbrella of the EU Recovery Fund, governments can foster sustainable growth, increase long-term competitiveness and facilitate the necessary reduction of the debt ratio once the crisis has been overcome”.

The problem of Ms Schnabel’s article is that it ignores the facts and bets the future of the central bank independence on a rigorous, profitable and successful level of government investment that has never happened and is even more less likely to occur now.

Ms Schnabel should be, in fact, warning about the enormous risk of malinvestment and excessive debt that may arise from the European Recovery Fund implementation and the massive deficit spending arising throughout the Eurozone. Why? Because she has the empirical evidence of the failure to achieve the virtuous growth and debt reduction she expects with the examples of the Growth and Jobs Plan of 2009, the Juncker plan and the enormous rise in deficit spending between 2009 and 2011 among many European nations. Once growth recovered, three things were evident:

  1. Most Eurozone countries maintained a level of deficit spending that elevated the debt to GDP in growth and recession periods because governments get used to spending more in boom times and even more in recession times.  Ms Schnabel expects of the Eurozone governments a level of discipline and fiscal prudence that only Germany and Holland implemented.  With the budgets of Spain and Italy soaring without control, the idea that governments will spend money wisely and productively is not just wishful thinking, it is negated by the evidence of the past.

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American Foreign Policy: The Problem of Applying the Monroe Doctrine Everywhere, by Doug Bandow

Empires are hard to maintain, probably impossible. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

When the new American nation was created, it was a lightweight in an international political game dominated by heavyweights. The U.S. was forced to develop a serious, measured, and realistic foreign policy.

The colonists outlasted the British during the Revolution in part because the New World revolt triggered an Old World war, in which the United Kingdom also had to fight France and Spain, which allied with the colonies. London’s North American battle became secondary. Yet French and Spanish assistance for the colonists remained limited, intended only to weaken the UK. The absolute monarchies did not desire a strong, independent republic on a continent where Paris and Madrid still possessed colonies.

It was a dangerous world for the weak, young nation. Nevertheless, the purchase of Louisiana from France in 1803 removed one threat from the continent. America survived – barely – another military round with Britain in 1812. A decade later colonial revolts against Spain seemed to dispatch the last serious regional rival.

President James Monroe then announced in 1823 that European efforts to recapture old or conquer new colonies would be seen as exhibiting “the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.” At the same time, he publicly eschewed intervention in European affairs.

This was pure chutzpah, given America’s evident lack of a military capable of enforcing such sentiments. Nevertheless, the proclamation was a fine effort to bolster US security. Europe, the fount of war for centuries, should stay out of Washington’s neighborhood. And the US would not get entangled in the Old World’s endlessly disastrous conflicts.

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The US’ Hybrid War On Russian Energy Targets Germany, Belarus, And Bulgaria, by Andrew Koryobko

The US is waging a war on Russian energy supplies to Europe, and it may not be as futile as many people believe. From Andrew Koryobko at oneworld.press:

The US is ruthlessly waging an intense Hybrid War on Russian energy interests in Europe by targeting the Eurasian Great Power’s relevant projects in Germany, Belarus, and Bulgaria, banking on the fact that even the partial success of this strategy would greatly advance the scenario of an externally provoked “decoupling” between Moscow and Washington’s transatlantic allies.

The Newest Front In The New Cold War

The New Cold War is heating up in Europe after the US intensified its Hybrid War on Russian interests there over the past two months. This proxy conflict is being simultaneously waged in Germany, Belarus, and Bulgaria, all three of which are key transit states for Russian energy exports to the continent, which enable it to maintain at least some influence there even during the worst of times. The US, however, wants to greatly advance the scenario of an externally provoked “decoupling” between Moscow and Washington’s transatlantic allies which would allow America to reassert its unipolar hegemony there even if this campaign is only partially successful. This article aims to explore the broad contours of the US’ contemporary Hybrid War strategy on Russian energy in Europe, pointing out how recent events in those three previously mentioned transit states are all part of this larger plan.

Germany

From north to south, the first and largest of these targets is Germany, which is nowadays treating Russian anti-corruption blogger Navalny. The author accurately predicted in late August that “intense pressure might be put upon the authorities by domestic politicians and their American patrons to politicize the final leg of Nord Stream II’s construction by potentially delaying it as ‘punishment to Putin’”, which is exactly what’s happening after Berlin signaled that it might rethink its commitment to this energy project. America isn’t all to blame, however, since Germany ultimately takes responsibility for its provocative statements to this effect. Dmitri Trenin, Director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, published a thought-provoking piece titled “Russian-German Relations: Back To The Future” about how bilateral relations will drastically change in the aftermath of this incident. It’s concise and well worth the read for those who are interested in this topic.

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The World Has Gone Absolutely Insane! by the Saker

There may be some residual sanity out there, but you have to look pretty hard for it. From the Saker at unz.com:

We all know that we are living in crazy, and dangerous, times, yet I can’t help being awed at what the imperial propaganda machine (aka the legacy ziomedia) is trying to make us all swallow. The list of truly batshit crazy stuff we are being told to believe is now very long, and today I just want to pick on a few of my “favorites” (so to speak).

First, of course, comes the “Novichok Reloaded” scandal around the alleged poisoning of the so-called “dissident” Alexei Navalnyi. I already mentioned this absolutely ridiculous story once, so I won’t repeat it all here. I just want to mention a few very basic facts:

  • Navalnyi is pretty much a discredited non-entity in Russia. “Putin” (because this is how the imperial propaganda machine always personalizes the evils of Russia: “Putin” did this or that, as if Putin was personally in every alleged Russian evil deed) had absolutely and exactly zero reasons to harm Navalnyi in any way. I would even add that IF Navalnyi was poisoned in Russia (which I do not believe) then the FSB screwed up by not offering him 24/7 protection, especially in the current political climate (i.e. struggle for the completion of North Stream 2).
  • The Empire always likes to produce a “sacrificial lamb” to symbolize the putative evil of the nation which dares to resist. In Iran it was Neda, in Kuwait the infamous “incubator babies”, in Syria anonymous kids killed by Russian gas, and in Russia it was Nemtsov (did not really work) and now Navalnyi (I wonder who the sacrificial lamb will be in Belarus (Tikhanovskaia?). The FSB should have seen this coming, especially after Nemtsov.

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The EU’s Drive toward Political Centralization Will Doom Its Economy, by Antonis Giannakopoulos

Political centralization in the grubby mitts of politicians and governments always dooms economies. From Antonis Giannakopoulos at mises.org:

In the wake of the economically disastrous covid-19 shutdowns, the political class has desperately tried to save the failing euro system. On July 21 European leaders agreed on what they called a “historic” deal. It was nothing more than a multitrillion euro stimulus package. However, it is more probable that the “recovery fund” will delay any chance of a much-needed economic restructuring taking place. What it will do is waste scarce resources and capital while setting Europe up for another financial and debt crisis. Another even more important issue is the dangerous path toward political centralization the EU is heading down as a result of the crisis. The European Parliament is very much dominated by procentralization forces and contains few individuals who defend the principles of decentralization and economic freedom while seeing with great concern the ever growing power of Brussels.

Has the social democratic project for the EU prevailed?

The Classical Liberal View: Economic Union, Political Decentralization

Even before the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, which created the core institution that later became the EU, there have been tensions between the two paths that a European union should take. The tension is between the classical liberal vision and the social democratic vision. The liberal vision puts its primary focus on defending individual freedom and respecting property rights while promoting a European free trade zone with a robust free market. The treaty of Rome was a major victory for the liberals, as it was built on two basic principles: freedom of movement and the free circulation of goods, services, and financial capital. In short, the treaty aimed at the restoration of rights and values that had been lost during the early twentieth century as nationalism and socialism prevailed in the European Continent.

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Europeans Discover the Myth About ‘Safety Nets’ the Hard Way, by John Tamny

Cranking out a fiat currency is not a safety net. The only real “safety net” is one based on actual production. From John Tamny at realclearmarkets.com:

Economic discussions would be much better if it were understood that no one receives dollar, euro, yen, pound or yuan “aid.” They receive the goods that those currencies can be exchanged for. Money on its own doesn’t feed, shelter or clothe. It’s only useful insofar as it’s accepted by the producers of actual goods and services.

This simple truth is hopefully useful as a backdrop to what’s happening in Europe right now. As Liz Alderman of the New York Times reported on Tuesday, Europeans are presently suffering rather painful job cuts. In Alderman’s words, “At BP, 10,000 jobs. At Lufthansa, 22,000. At Renault, 14,600.”

To the half awake in our midst, what’s happening is a statement of the obvious. Some of the most stringent lockdowns related to the coronavirus happened in Europe. The shutdowns in France were the strictest, including limits on simply leaving one’s home. The virus spread despite, but so did economic contraction.

That contraction spread was a blinding glimpse of the obvious. Lockdowns by their very name limit activity, including that related to work. With Europeans suddenly experiencing reduced personal and economic mobility, production was naturally going to decline.

All that, plus the only closed economy is the world economy. A not insubstantial portion of Europe’s economic vitality is a consequence of production elsewhere. Translated, tourism looms large on a continent that increasingly limited the inflow of tourists. European goods of the car and clothes variety similarly enchant the world’s citizenry, but with global demand a consequence of supplying first, it’s no insight to say that Europe’s countries suffered economically the lockdowns that took place far from Europe.

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Questions for the European Dependencies, by Fred Reed

Why does Europe continue to be America’s lap dog? From Fred Reed at unz.com:

This admirable column gets a modest trickle of mail from European readers, for some reason chiefly in France and Italy but some from the Nordic realms. While these correspondents are intelligent and thoughtful, and sometimes translate my maunderings into their languages, they do not give a comprehensive view of what Europe thinks of the United States—the populations, I mean, not the politicians, who think what will profit them, but actual people. A question of particular interest to me is why Europe, and Europeans, put up with America.

For example, European countries seem to be almost entirely subservient to the US, vassals, protectorates held in quiet contempt by America. Do not you in Europe obey almost every wish of the Americans? Do you not do everything for their benefit, not your own? How could they not scorn you?

The whole world sees this. England wanted to use Huawei in its Five G installation, but Mommy Washington said no. Boris Johnson wriggled and squirmed like a trained seal hoping to be given a fish…and then obeyed. Europe almost always obeys. Huawei wanted to build a research center in England, but Mr. Trump cracked the whip. England appears poised to obey. As usual.

“Yass, Bwana. Yassuh. What you say, boss.”

This is the England of Nelson and Churchill and the Battle of Britain? “Yass, Bwana”? How do you stand it?

Yes, I know, you Brits hide your subservience by saying that you have a “special relationship” with America, as if you were somehow coequals. In reality, the special relationship is only that of Most Servile Vassal.

But this acceptance of humiliation is not unique to England. You know this. Americans certainly know it.

All of Europe wanted to trade with Iran, as did Russia and China, countries representing far more population and GDP than America does. and you all supported the nuclear deal. But Washington said no. When Mother America gives orders, you all obey like circus dogs—Why do you do this? When did Europe become a gentleman’s club of bootlickers?

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Let’s Talk U.S. Foreign Policy: It Is the Root Cause of Many Evils, by Philip Giraldi

For those who love bipartisanship, US foreign policy has been a bipartisan disaster. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

As the United States sinks deeper into a multi-faceted global crisis that no politician seems able or even willing to address, one hears more and more often demands for radical change in who runs the country and to what end. Of course, Donald J. Trump offered such a dramatic shift in priorities four years ago, but he has been unable to deliver due to his own inability to execute and the ill-conceived machinations of those whom he has chosen as advisers. The Democrats for their part are offering little beyond a repeat of their 2016 pander to grievance groups in an effort to cobble together an unassailable majority based on buying off the party’s various constituencies.

But there is one area where change could come dramatically if either party were actually motivated to do something that would truly benefit the American people, and that is in the area of foreign and national security policy where the president has considerable power to set priorities and redirect both the State and Defense Departments. Unfortunately, foreign and national security policy is almost never discussed during the presidential campaigns and this time would already appear to be no exception. That means that the one thing that is a constant amidst all the smoke and mirrors is the continued bellicosity of both parties on the world stage.

The Republicans are apparently eager to “democratize” Latin America while the Democrats in particular are wedded to the “foreign interference” angle to explain their loss in 2016, with Hillary Clinton predictably advising in her Democratic National Convention speech that the public should “Vote to make sure we — not a foreign adversary — choose our president.” Indeed, the tendency to create and then demonize “foreign conspiracies” is generally supported by the establishment and its parasitical media, since it enables the billionaire oligarchs who really run the country to grow fatter while also avoiding any blame for the declining fortunes of most of the American people.

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Allies Are Supposed to Help the US, but Americans Always Do the Paying, by Doug Bandow

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.

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