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Tag Archives: Europe
Makes perfectly good sense to me.
Europeans (particularly women and cops) are stocking up on guns for personal protection in the wake of the New Year’s Eve refugee sex attacks.
The New York Post reports that the number of gun permits issued has recently quadrupled in Germany and Austria after the attacks in Cologne and Salzburg, according to the weapons industry. “Women customers include waitresses that need to get home in the evening, and women that walk dogs regularly in the evenings. We are also seeing some coming in to buy them for their daughters,” Gerhard Fuchs, a gunsmith in Innsbruck, Austria, told Central European News.
And why did Vienna allows these people to arrive in the first place? They knew of the criminal statistics: One in three criminals in Austria are foreigners, according to 2014 figures by the Interior Ministry. In Vienna, it was almost every other criminal. Vienna has had 200,000 asylum-seekers entered the country in recent months. Now the Vienna Mayor Michael Haupl has promised to deploy 1,000 additional cops to patrol the streets.
In August, fewer than 10 people obtained a license to keep a handgun at home for self-defense, while the number soared into the hundreds in October. Sixty percent of respondents in a poll commissioned by Viennese newspaper Heute said the influx of refugees is a cause for fear and unease.
Franz Dorfner, who owns a gun store in Vienna, said he has been unable to keep up with demand. “I have completely sold out of pepper spray and have to wait at least a month before they can provide me with any more,” he told Central European News.
In Salzburg, where several sex attacks were reported, store owner Constanze Dorn said she too had run out of pepper spray. “I have never experienced anything like it,” she said. “I have ordered several hundred more. I don’t know how long they will last.”
The demand for private bodyguard services also has skyrocketed. In Vienna, the White Wings Association is offering free professional protection after the city’s top cop warned women not to go out alone at night. “Women should in general not go out on the streets at night alone, they should avoid suspicious-looking areas and also when in pubs and clubs should only accept drinks from people they know,” Police Chief Garhard Purstl said in controversial statements to the Krone newspaper.
The public’s worries about the surge of immigrants were already heightened before the recent sex attacks. Lisa Herdina, 28, who lives near Austria’s largest refugee camp at Traiskirchen, about 12 miles south of Vienna, told the mirror.co.uk in early December that she got a rifle. “I keep my gun in my house because it gives me a feeling of safety, especially when I’m alone,” Herdina said. “My dog is great protection because he warns me every time anybody is anywhere near our house.”
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After provoking a new Cold War with Moscow — imposing economic sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, specifically Crimea — the U.S. is retreating from Europe with the closure of 15 military bases.
At a minimum, Obama’s foreign policy is a mess of confusion and mixed messages. At a maximum, he’s doing this by design.
Remember his whispered words to then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Seoul, South Korea, March 26, 2012? Not realizing his words would be picked up by live microphones, Obama signaled to Medvedev that — wink, wink, nudge, nudge — he’ll be much freer to act as he pleases after he’s won reelection: “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility” to deal with missile defense by tearing down America’s missile shield. Then he asked for Russia’s patience — for more “space” and “time.”
See also “U.S. physicist Tom Fife: Obama was groomed to be President by Soviet Communists“
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Here’s the full text of Obama’s speech to the UN on Wednesday, or does anyone care? LOL
I’m reblogging this only because Roger Cohen (who he?) of the New York Times quoted from the speech and lauded Obama on his “new resolve.” Gag….
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- The fissures — if not outright failure — in the Euro Zone become realized. I fully expect one or more nations to leave the Euro and there is a non-zero chance of an outright collapse. Timing is the problem — I’ll go ahead and stick this in 2012 but may be early a year. We’ll see. Incidentally because of how I worded this Greece leaving is a “score” but I’m not thinking Greece here — try Spain or Italy on for size.
Greece, for those who aren’t paying attention, has apparently elected enough Neo Nazis to get them into Parliament — comfortably so with somewhere around double the minimum representation required (3% is required.) The bailout-friendly parties got shredded and no longer have a majority. The next thing that will come is a “middle finger” to the Troika, which is going to prove quite interesting.
France has apparently tossed Sarcozy in favor of socialist Hollande. This is possibly far more important, as it means the German-French “line” on holding the Euro zone together with bailouts was just flushed down the toilet. Merkel has no prayer in heck of being able to do this alone.
The odds are now very high that we get a Greek Euro exit (on their terms, not on anyone elses) and a massive dislocation in the Euro zone banks. Germany cannot hold this together on their own — it’s impossible.
As for France it will be quite interesting to see exactly what “socialism” means in their context. One thing it doesn’t mean is being friendly to how the Euro “core” has basically bludgeoned people up until now.
The simple fact of the matter is that we had better get our act together here in the United States, and fast. The idea that we’re going to be able to play “QE to the moon Alice” is an utter load of crap. We both can’t and won’t, and what’s worse is that we’re about to see the worst of the European economic dislocation come at us fast, hard, and now.
The market will start pricing this in tonight. It already has begun, as the /ES futures are down 1.3% and the DOW futures are trading under 13,000, down 161.
Those who believed that “they” would hold everything together through the election while willfully ignoring 2008, when the precise same projections were made and turned out to be crap, might want to re-think their expectations just a wee bit.
As I schedule this post on Sunday evening, I am afraid to see what the markets will be like on Monday morning. My prediction – it’s not going to be pretty.
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UPDATE (July 26):
- Death toll revised to 76.
- Breivik’s attorney says the killer used some kind of drugs before the massacre — drugs that were designed to keep him strong and awake.
- Attorney also says Breivik “hates democracy and all who believe in it.”
While the MSM are yakking on and on about Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik being a “right-wing Christian fundamentalist,” World Net Daily (WND) has done the homework by reading Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto, which he had helpfully posted online for anyone to read.
Breivik is the 32-year-old psychopath who, last Friday, July 22, killed more than 87 people in Norway — 7 in a bombing in Oslo; more than 80 at a Labor Party youth retreat on the island of Utoya.
Based on WND’s research and other analyses, here are the reasons why Breivik is NOT a Christian, even less a Christian fundamentalist:
1. He’s a Darwinist: “As for the Church and science, it is essential that science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings.” Answering a question he himself asks, “What should be our civilisational [sic] objectives, how do you envision a perfect Europe?”, Breivik’s answer is hardly that of a Christian: “rationalist thought (a certain degree of national Darwinism) should be the fundament [sic] of our societies.”
2. He says he’s not religious: “Regarding my personal relationship with God, I guess I’m not an excessively religious man.” Over and over again, Breivik goes out of his way to make clear to readers of his manifesto that he is not motivated by Christian faith: “I’m not going to pretend I’m a very religious person, as that would be a lie. I’ve always been very pragmatic and influenced by my secular surroundings and environment…. Religion is a crutch for many weak people…I have not yet felt the need to ask God for strength, yet.”
3. He doubts the existence of God [some Christian he is!]: “I went from moderately agnostic to moderately religious.”
4. He does not pray: In discussing his preparation for the mass murder, he writes: “I have been working on this book [the manifesto] now for almost two years. It’s essential that you reward yourself and enjoy life in this period…. I have been practising [sic] certain rituals and meditation to strengthen my beliefs and convictions. For me, the most common ritual is taking a long walk listening to my favourite [sic] music on my iPod.”
5. He wants Europe to remain Christian because of cultural, not religious, reasons. Breivik objects to Islam because he sees Europe as being taken over by Muslims, and Europeans as losing their identity. Breivik’s solution is that Norway and Europe return and preserve their historical culture, which is Christian. As Breivik explains:
“As this is a cultural war, our definition of being a Christian does not necessarily constitute that you are required to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus…. The European cultural heritage, our norms (moral codes and social structures included), our traditions and our modern political systems are based on Christianity…. It is not required that you have a personal relationship with God or Jesus in order to fight for our Christian cultural heritage and the European way…. So no, you don’t need to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus to fight for our Christian cultural heritage. It is enough that you are a Christian-agnostic or a Christian atheist (an atheist who wants to preserve at least the basics of the European Christian cultural legacy (Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter)).”
6. Breivik claims membership in the Freemasons (Manifesto, p. 1369), which many Christians (especially the Catholic Church) consider to be a cultic organization.
7. Breivik supports abortion in cases of rape and “if the baby has mental or physical disabilities.” (Manifesto, pg 1179)
To conclude, it’s an insult to Christianity to call Anders Breivik a right-wing Christian fundamentalist. When Breivik identifies himself as “100-percent Christian,” he is referring to himself as being part of the historical European Christian CULTURE. He is not Christian in the religious sense of the word. He doesn’t even believe that there is a God, even less that Jesus Christ is God.
Catholic commentator and media personality Michael Coren observes:
“No intelligent person, and certainly no informed Christian, would regard this as the statement of a follower of Christ, let alone a fundamentalist follower. So why the hysterical boasts that he was a Christian? Obvious. It inflates the bubble of propaganda and lies. So different to when yet another Islamist attack occurs – four over the weekend by the way – and media does everything it can to distance the killers from Islam.”
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A classic strategy of unpopular governments is to distract and dissipate its populace’s discontent and unrest by focusing on an external enemy. Syria’s government, under siege by domestic uprising since January, is doing exactly that.
Spurred by anti-government protests in Arabic Middle East which began first in Egypt, Syrians too started protesting on 26 January and have continued to protest since. In Daraa in March, demonstrators exceeded 20,000; troops were brought in and reportedly more than a hundred were killed.
Although Syria’s president tried to appease the demonstrators by asking the entire cabinet to resign and naming a new prime minister, protests have continued. Entire cities (Deraa, Baniyas, Homs) are under siege by the Syrian army. Tanks are brought in to shell residential areas; hundreds are believed to have been killed; deaths and mass imprisonment of local youths have been reported.
And so Damascus is diverting its populace’s hostilities outward.
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu of Israel National News reports on May 15, 2011 that last Sunday, nearly 1,000 Syrian Arabs who called themselves “Palestinians” invaded Israel’s Golan Heights when Syrian troops at the border chose not to prevent the infiltration.
At least one person, an Israeli, was killed and dozens were wounded as Israel’s IDF soldiers tried to beat back the invading horde with tear gas and live fire.
At the same time of the massive infiltration into the Golan Heights, hundreds of Syrian Arabs have crossed into Lebanon to flee the violence from Assad’s security forces who already have killed nearly 800 demonstrators.
Analysts had predicted precisely what happened last Sunday — that the Syrian government would “allow” the border crossings to draw the populace’s attention and participation away from the ongoing rebellion in the country and the regime’s harsh crackdown on civilian protestors.
For a dramatic video of Syrians swarming across Lebanon’s (and Israel’s?) borders like locusts, GO HERE and scroll down the page to the video at bottom of page.
Meanwhile, Guy Milliére, reporting for Hudson New York on May 16, 2011, is sounding the alarm of the full-blown return of anti-Semitism in Europe:
During the last decade, synagogues were vandalized or set on fire in Poland, Sweden, Hungary, France. Anti-Semitic inscriptions are being drawn on building walls in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Berlin and Rome. Jewish cemeteries are being ransacked. Jews are being attacked on the streets of most major cities on the continent. In the Netherlands, the police use « decoy Jews » in order to try arrest the perpetrators red-handed.
Jewish schools are being placed under police protection everywhere, and are usually equipped with security gates. Jewish children in public high schools are bullied; when parents complain, they are encouraged to choose another place of learning for their children.
In some cities such as Malmö, Sweden, or Roubaix, France, the persecution suffered by the Jewish community has reached such a degree that people are selling their homes at any price and leaving. Those who stay have the constant feeling that they are risking their lives: they must be extremely streetwise and carry no sign showing who they are. In 1990, approximately 2000 Jewish people lived in Malmö; now there are fewer than 700, and the number is decreasing every year.
Jews now, in fact, have to be streetwise in all European countries: men wearing a skullcap usually hide it under a hat or a cap. Owners of kosher restaurants located on avenues where protests are organized close their facilities before the arrival of the participants — even if the protest is about wages or retirement age. They know too well that among the demonstrators, there will always be some who will express their rage at the sight of a Jewish name or a star of David on a store front. In Paris, on Labor Day, May 1st, in front of a Jewish café on Avenue of the Republic, several hundred demonstrators stopped and began to boo « Jews » and « Zionists ». A man coming out of the café was assaulted until police officers arrived on the scene.
In the context of all these events, it is interesting that yesterday, Glenn Beck announced he will be holding a major rally in Israel this summer.
“I believe I’ve been asked to stand — in Jerusalem,” Beck told his audience recounting a list of times in history when people and nations failed to stand with the Jewish people. “Things in Israel are going to get bad…it’s only a matter of time. They are going to attack the center of our faith, our common faith, and that is Jerusalem. And it won’t be with bullets or bombs. It will be with a two-state solution that cuts off Jerusalem, the old city, to the rest of the world. It is time to return inside the walls that surround Jerusalem and stand with people of all faiths all around the world.”
Events in Israel and the entire Middle East seem to be quickening, toward…what? It is unsettling, to say the least.
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Gee, look how well Multiculturalism has worked in Europe:
“Multiculturalism has encouraged Muslim radicalism and Sharia law. It’s leading to a new tribalism — groups organizing along religious and ethnic lines. In cities across Europe, only the police stand in the way of open street warfare between groups…. France has some 750 no-go zones. The French government labels them “sensitive urban zones.” But what they are is dangerous to whites and non-Muslims who enter.”
Pay attention to the last guy in this video on his projection for future.
~Eowyn & Steve
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Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
-W. B. Yeats, The Second Coming
The great Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) wrote this poem in 1919, mere months after World War I ended and 18 years before the even more ruinous World War II began.
For me, the poem’s opening passage perfectly captures the disquiet and unease we are all feeling about our times. As humanity lurched toward WWII, there were identifiable monsters — Hitler, Hirohito, and their respective stormtroopers — who instigated the aggressions that would soon engulf the world in Inferno. Today, there are no monsters of Hitler’s dimensions to blame. The looming disaster is self-wrought….
Things Fall Apart
By Walter Russell Mead – The American Interest – November 27, 2010
As World War Two broke out in Poland, WH Auden wrote about the despair of watching “the clever hopes expire/of a low, dishonest decade.” We are not yet at that pass, but Auden’s poem bears re-reading by anybody trying to read the signs of our increasingly dark and troubled times.
There are times when the ideas of the world’s rulers and the institutions through which they govern are adequate to the needs of the era, and there are times–like the present–when they are not. It is not just the Obama administration that seems mentally and even culturally unprepared to understand much less to guide the events now sweeping through the world. In Brussels, Beijing, Moscow, Tokyo and Delhi — to say nothing of Washington – leaders seem equally clueless, equally committed to outmoded, inaccurate approaches to the issues of our time.
From my earliest posts on this blog, a major theme has been the approach of a dramatic time in human affairs when old certainties, old institutions and old habits of thought will no longer serve. Unfortunately the world’s leaders seem to cling ever more tightly to comfortable old certainties the less sense they make. The collective failure of leadership is most painfully on display at events like the G-20 and NATO summits when world leaders cluster nervously together to have their pictures taken and to issue vapid communiques. As the year of grace 2010 moves towards its end, the leaders of all the world’s major power centers have lost their way. This makes it unlikely that 2011 will be a quiet year; the human race is headed into what looks more and more like a great storm with captains manifestly not up to the task.
The European Union is perhaps the most feckless of the world’s power centers. Its currency is built on a foundation of hopeful assumptions that haven’t panned out: for example that countries as disparate in culture and situation as Greece, Germany, Finland, Ireland and Italy can all live happily under a common currency. There has been no shortage of warning signs for the last decade: there was no secret about the housing bubbles in Ireland and Spain. The falsity of Greek statistics was well known, as were the imprudent habits of its governments and the dysfunctional nature of its economic culture.
Yet the Eurocrats in Brussels and their colleagues in the Union’s national capitals took no thought for the morrow: recklessly making no contingency plans for a day of reckoning. The chronic failures in planning and communication that have marked Europe’s deeply flawed response to the developing crisis for the last two years has deeply unsettled markets. Bank stress tests give banks a clean bill of health months before massive meltdowns; national leaders and banking officials make serial errors. In handling financial crises, unity of purpose and speed of action are the basic and irreplaceable elements of any workable strategy. Europe has neither and, I am sorry to observe, the uncoordinated and sloppy behavior of the Union’s various leaders (with a handful of honorable exceptions like Olli Rehn) has not improved as the crisis unfolds. The European political class is clearly not up to its job, and the accelerating decline of Europe’s world role is the natural and inevitable result of their failures to date.
Worse is clearly to come. The rickety Rube Goldberg contraption called the European Union simply cannot handle the stresses that threaten to shake it today. Europe will be very lucky to come out of the present storm without much deeper damage than it has so far sustained.
The key as always is Germany; and while there is no European country better fitted to take on the responsibility, it is far from clear that Germany will rise to the occasion. Germany is economically rich and the stolid determination of German political culture is admirable; the present German government for all its faults is much more competent and farseeing than its predecessor. Germany and its leadership have not, however, yet risen to the measure of Europe’s crisis. Rigidly self-righteous attitudes combined with political inflexibility will not allow Germany to lead Europe out of its current troubles.
Meanwhile, Europe continues its relentless failure to manage urgent challenges at home and abroad. The Europeans are unwilling (and in some cases, unable) to make the investments that would keep NATO strong; the continuing refusal to take Turkey’s application for EU membership seriously further and decisively marginalizes Europe in the Middle East. Wishful thinking cannot substitute for policy when it comes to the question of immigration, and Europe’s deepening demographic crisis ensures not only a future of population decline but of economic decline and welfare state bankruptcy as well.
This is a global tragedy and not merely a regional one; Europe has so much to offer the world, yet every day it is becoming less able to contribute to the common good, less able to play the role that only Europe can play in the construction of a more peaceful, more democratic and more prosperous human order.
Europe is not the only place where leaders don’t measure up to the problems. Although China is not as democratically governed as Europe, on the whole the technocrats of Beijing have handled the last twenty years better than the bureaucrats of the EU. Nevertheless Beijing is confronting a confluence of economic, environmental and social challenges that pose problems which even China’s leadership is unlikely to overcome. Arguments about China’s currency undervaluation, while real, miss the main point: Whether China revalues the renminbi or not, its model of rapid growth based on manufactured exports is reaching fundamental limits. China’s customers cannot absorb new products as fast as the Chinese want to make them; we Americans continue to struggle to Costco to do what we can, but our credit cards are maxed out and our home equity lines of credit don’t work that well anymore. We can’t increase our purchases of Chinese goods by ten percent a year — and neither can consumers in the EU. Rising raw material prices combined with consumer fatigue in the malls is squeezing the profitability of Chinese industry just as workers are demanding higher wages. Meanwhile, food price inflation in China is triggering mass anxiety and the financial system appears vulnerable to the kind of bubbles that have wreaked such havoc in the West.
China’s problems go beyond economics. Chinese public opinion, smarting from what it sees as two centuries of humiliation, and now elated by (overblown) press reports of China’s rise, wants its government to follow a more assertive and even aggressive foreign policy. Disputes with Japan, Korea and Vietnam over offshore islands stir deep currents of emotion, and public opinion judges the Chinese government by its ability to prevail in these disputes.
In fact, as I’ve pointed out in earlier posts, China has less room for maneuver in Asia than it appears. From India right through Southeast Asia and around to Korea, Russia and Japan, China’s neighbors worry about its rising power. Any signs of China becoming assertive encourage the neighbors to build up their armed forces and close ranks with Washington. India, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan all now look to the US to organize a regional response to perceived Chinese pressure.
Few governments have been as competent (yes, and sometimes as ruthless and harsh) as China when it comes to managing the challenges of the last twenty years; the problems now rising on the horizon, however, are so far challenging even China’s ability to cope. The rising expectations of its people, the rampant corruption and self-dealing of local officials, the clash between China’s internal reality and its constrained international position, and the growing complexity of an economy and society undergoing the most rapid and unpredictable series of transformations in the history of the world are combining to take the Chinese government well out of its comfort zone.
Looming environmental disasters threaten China’s future, with issues of water, air quality and the usual environmental devastation that accompanies communist governance on a massive scale already taking a toll. The consequences of the one-child policy threaten a demographic disaster as an aging Chinese population will place a growing burden on a society not yet affluent enough to support it.
I have never been one of those who heap criticism on China’s government without acknowledging the genuine difficulties it faces. China has the world’s largest population; between foreign invasion and domestic revolution it has been scarred by two centuries of upheaval and mayhem; the industrial revolution now convulsing the country is more rapid and far-reaching than the industrial revolutions that helped plunge Europe into a century of fratricidal war.
Perhaps China’s leaders look small only because the challenges they face are so large; but at the moment China appears to be groping for a way forward without a lot of success. The problems are mounting; the time available to solve them is not.
If Europe offers the most shocking example of incompetence, and China faces the greatest possibility of explosion and crisis, Russia’s current suicidal course may be the most tragic example of poor policy intersecting with cultural failure to drive a great people down.
Emerging from the sordid shadows of the Soviet Union, Russia faced four great challenges. It needed to come to terms with the horrors and failures of the past, recognizing the enormous evil that Russia both suffered and inflicted during the Soviet period. Just as Germany had to come to terms with the Nazi past to build a better future after 1945, Russia had to face the ghosts of Bolshevism and Stalin head on. It has failed, and Russian life and culture remain poisoned by the residue of unrepented horrors and uncomprehended crimes.
Second, Russia needed to build a modern and competent state that in turn could provide the framework for a new economy and a new society. Without a full reckoning with the Soviet past — and a full encounter in particular with the evils perpetrated by its security forces — this was not possible. Nevertheless Russia has fallen well short of what it might have accomplished. I remain glad that Vladimir Putin halted the disintegration of the Russian state that was visibly under way during the Yeltsin era, but with every passing year the critical failure of the Putin presidency to build the stable institutions and solidify the rule of law that a genuinely strong Russian state would require becomes more clear — and more costly.
The third task, of building the kind of capitalist economy that could provide its citizens with dignity and affluence, has also been left undone. There is no one who thinks that the rule of law is secure in Russia, or that investors (foreign or domestic) have any real security for their investments. Accumulating failures of governance ensure that Russia cannot enjoy the full benefits of its natural resources and this unhappy society remains a source of concern and confusion for itself and its neighbors.
The fourth task, of finding a suitable world role for a new Russia, has also been decisively botched. Russia has no real friends anywhere in the world; there are those it can bully and those (a much greater number) that it can’t. The United States, Germany and China all seek good relations with Moscow; no one trusts or respects it. Prime Minister Putin’s recent visit to Germany, a country that quite recently hoped that stronger economic relations with Russia would be a cornerstone of its national strategy, was an embarrassing flop. Putin’s call for a free trade zone including Russia and the EU was dismissed by Chancellor Angela Merkel; the Russian leader reportedly spent more time with the discredited former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (who now works for Gazprom) than in substantive talks with German officials.
Russia’s failures in this department are not simply its own fault. The United States, NATO and the EU have been horribly shortsighted in their Russia policies. Since 1989 there have been two great western projects in Europe: the expansions of both NATO and the EU. NATO expansion was seen by Russia as a great threat; EU expansion has the effect of marginalizing Russia both economically and politically. While Russia’s own many failures and bad behavior did much to determine the west on this course, paying so little heed to Russian interests and sensibilities was unwise; now both Russia and the west must cope with the unpalatable consequences.
Other Powers, Other Problems
One can continue this depressing tour d’horizon. There is Japan, which has floundered for twenty years and is still no closer to rekindling the economic dynamism that once made it look like a credible rival to the United States. Dithering, incompetence, corruption and group-think have turned Japan into a pale shadow of its former self. Sadly, there is no sign of a change.
India’s growth and cohesion are challenged by a worsening culture of corruption and the country’s continuing inability to manage basic challenges like infrastructure. High profile scandals affecting the Commonwealth Games and the telecommunications industry, the persistence of utter misery and deep oppression in much of the countryside, the increasingly chaotic nature of the Indian political system, and the growing geopolitical strains of its rivalries with China and Pakistan are going to make life ever more complex for Indian policymakers.
Neither Israel nor its neighbors seems to have a clear vision for ending the Middle East conflict — or at least managing it. Turkey’s government seems to be missing the opportunity to become the kind of stabilizing force the region desperately needs. In a region that urgently needs rising standards of living for the majority and more cultural and political openness, there is little sign that anybody knows what to do.
About American shortcomings I have written in the past and will be writing again. Our propensity to elect charismatic but inexperienced leaders repeatedly lands us in trouble. We remain steadfastly blind to the deterioration of our long-term fiscal position as we pile unfunded entitlements on top of each other in a surefire recipe for national disaster. We lurch from one ineffective foreign policy to another, while the public consensus that has underwritten America’s world role since the 1940s continues to decay. Our elite seems at times literally hellbent on throwing away the cultural capital and that has kept this nation great and free for so many generations.
Our failings may not be as all-encompassing as Europe’s, as threatening as China’s or as sad and destructive as poor Russia’s — but America has a harder job than these other powers. It is our job, for better or for worse, to provide the world with some kind of security system that can allow the various peoples of the world to work out their destinies and to safeguard an economic system under which humanity as a whole can struggle forward into affluence and hope.
To do that, we must first of all take care of ourselves — and at that basic task we have signally failed. Beyond that, we must gain a clear sight of our interests abroad, understand how those foreign and in some cases global interests relate to the core foundations of our prosperity and security at home, and then use what leverage we can to work with others to build a world system that works for us and our friends.
Building a better world is the common task of the world’s leading powers, and requires as well the support of the medium and small powers and peoples. At the moment not one power center on earth seems up to the task; it can hardly be surprising under these circumstances that William Butler Yeats’ prophecies about widening gyres and rough slouching beasts seem more compelling than usual.
Auden closed his grim poem with a flickering hope and a challenge. I hope and pray that the generations of today will not know the sick despair of September 1939; if we are to avoid that kind of fate under even uglier circumstances, we need to start demanding more of our leaders — and of ourselves.
The author, Walter Russell Mead, of the above op-ed concluded with these words: “we need to start demanding more of our leaders — and of ourselves.”
How true. I suggest that Mead begin with himself. This is what Wikipedia says about Mead:
Walter Russell Mead (born 12 June 1952, Columbia, South Carolina) is the Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations] and was the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College, and is recognized as one of the country’s leading students of American foreign policy…. Mead currently teaches American foreign policy at Yale University. He is a Democrat, and voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential Election.
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