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Author Topic: European matters  (Read 30934 times)
Power User
Posts: 36862

« Reply #150 on: September 22, 2015, 11:57:25 AM »

E.U. approves migrant plan, overruling four nations

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 12:02 PM EDT

European Union ministers on Tuesday approved a plan for individual countries in the bloc to accept a share of the hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking asylum on the continent — but only after overruling four former Soviet bloc countries.  The home affairs and interior ministers, meeting in an emergency session here, voted on a plan to apportion 120,000 refugees — still only a small fraction of those flowing into Europe — among members of the European Union.

The dissenters were the ministers representing the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Under European law, three of the countries — the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia — would be required to accept migrants against their will, said one European Union diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity shortly after the vote.

The idea behind the plan is to relieve the pressure on front-line nations like Italy and Greece, which migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan and African have been flooding.

France and Germany back a compulsory approach to resettling refugees. But a call for the members to share the burden of absorbing the migrants according to the wealth and population of the member countries met with fierce resistance. The squabbling has highlighted the lack of a united European response to one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades.
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Posts: 5464

« Reply #151 on: October 22, 2015, 08:48:10 AM »

Breaking News

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Oh I get it.  The new leftist line is we need the workers to feed the social security ponzy scheme.  The SS system was broken by the drunk spending politicians instead of being in a trust fund like it should have been.  Who are the people of what we keep hearing, "Brussels" who seem to be the masters of Europe and now are being followed by Obama and his gang?   Who are these people that are the new form of tyranny who are ruling over us behind the scenes?

Here is one theory about Merkel.   Someone yesterday called in to Michael Savage.  She was from Southern Germany and unfortunately I didn't get to here the whole conservation but she said she wonders if Merkel who is from the former East Germany has lived and raised from the Communist mindset has something to do with it.  She was suspicious that she is part of something behind the scenes.  I suspect it is just part of this whole progressive movement.

One article suggests Merkel is being practical.  To get more workers in to Germany to support the generous welfare retirement state:

****Immigrants: Why Merkel Opened Up The Flood Gates

By Mauldin Economics • on September 20, 2015 • in Politics

 impose quotas under pain of sanctions, Brussels has unwisely brought home the reality that states have given up sovereignty over their borders, police and judicial systems, just as they gave up economic sovereignty by joining the euro.

This comes as a rude shock, creating a new East-West rift within European affairs to match the North-South battles over EMU. With certain nuances, the peoples of Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and the Baltic states do not accept the legitimacy of the demands being made upon them.

But it is the countries of Eastern Europe that are bearing the brunt of the immigration crisis. This map from the  New York Times depicts the general flow of immigrants from Turkey into Germany. It was not all that long ago that one could pass freely from one country in the EU to another, but now border walls and controls are being erected.

And while Merkel says Germany can take 800,000 immigrants, notice that they are instituting border controls to stem the flow. It’s is all well and good to say you can absorb nearly a million immigrants, but where you going to put them? How will you feed them or school them? That effort takes planning and time, planning and time that have not been much in evidence the past few years in Europe.

Just as the Grexit crisis showed us the underbelly of European monetary integration, the refugee crisis highlights the huge difficulty of political integration. Hungarians, Slovaks, and Czechs do not want Brussels telling them how many Syrians they must admit and support. I don’t blame them.

Ambrose astutely points out that Europe must now deal with an east-west split on immigration along with the still-unbridged north-south economic chasm. Yet EU leaders push blithely on, thinking they can roll right over their opposition. To them each crisis presents another opportunity to impose structure and an artificial unity from the top down.

This is maddening, and it leaves an interesting question unanswered. Why is Germany so willing to accept so many migrants, while other countries are not? Aside from the 800,000 it will take this year, officials have said Germany can handle 500,000 more per year, indefinitely.

That starts to add up in a few years, even in a country of 80+ million. This is more than a gesture. What is Merkel thinking?

The answer is that Merkel is thinking ahead. Germany’s economy is going to need those people. Germany currently has a population of 82 million, but that number is expected to fall by 12 million over the next 40 years. Further, as the population ages, the number of potential workers who are not retired will be reduced by many more millions. The percentage of people in Germany of working age (between 20 and 65) was projected by a recent study to drop from 61% to 54% by 2030. Germany recorded the lowest birth rate in the world from 2008 to 2013. Hold that thought. (Mitchell)

Merkel’s immigration plan presents huge problems, given Germany’s generous retirement benefits and social programs. For every baby boomer that stops working, the country needs at least one person to start working. The US is in better shape only because we have enough legal immigrants to keep the demographic pipeline flowing. Even so, we will hit the wall at some point unless more and more potential retirees keep working.

Germany is in much deeper trouble on this point, and Merkel knows it. I suspect she wants to bring in quite a few million immigrants, somehow make good Germans out of them, and keep the economy humming.

My good friend Dennis Gartman wrote about this in his September 15 daily report:

But there is a very real demographic reason why Germany is so willing to take a surfeit of these refugees: German’s demographics demand it. Simply put, Germany’s population… and especially its indigenous… population is imploding swiftly and certainly.
Already there are very real shortages of young, skilled workers, and many German companies openly and regularly complain that they cannot hire enough workers to fill job vacancies because there are not enough workers available for those jobs.

Further, Germany needs younger workers to fill those jobs because it needs their salaries for the social welfare programs that Germany is so renowned for. Simply put, there are not enough workers paying into the social programs to pay for them at present, and this problem shall become worse, not better, unless Germany’s population swells measurably in the coming years and decades.

So, Ms. Merkel has a clear ulterior motive for her seeming generosity: she wants the present welfare system in Germany that benefits now and will even more greatly benefit more in the future her normal constituency. If Germans are going to retire they shall need either newly born Germans to take their place and pay into the social security systems or Germany shall need to “import” foreign workers. For now, it is the latter that Ms. Merkel is embracing.

Immigrants – Newfound Sympathy

Before going any further, let’s define some terms. Refugees are persons driven from their homes by war, natural disasters, or other circumstances beyond their control. They have little or no choice but to seek refuge elsewhere.

Migrants, in contrast, are people who have homes but choose to move elsewhere, typically for economic reasons. They think they can increase their income or improve their lives in a new country.

This distinction is important in international law. Various treaties and agreements obligate governments to give refugees at least temporary shelter. Migrants, because they have a home to which they could return, receive lower priority.

One of the problems is that Europe’s incoming masses include both refugees and migrants. Sorting them out is not always easy. Many lack passports and other identifying documents. I saw a small note in the Wall Street Journal this week saying that Sweden is paying a language-analysis firm to verify refugee candidates’ origins by their accents. As good a method as any, I suppose.

I think everyone agrees that sheltering genuine refugees is simply the right thing to do. We all know that in other circumstances we could be the homeless ones. Some older Europeans saw World War II uproot millions. Their children and grandchildren have heard the stories, and that awareness probably drives some of the sympathy we see now.

While the goals are laudable, there are limits. Even a continent as large as Europe needs to manage population inflows and screen out undesirables. The sheer scale of the challenge is mindboggling. More than four million people have left Syria alone. Tens of thousands more are leaving each week. Most are still in the bordering states of Turkey and Jordan, which have their own challenges and can’t offer permanent resettlement.

This graphic from Stratfor shows where people are leaving and where they want to go.
Merkel immigrantsimmigrants
You can see that part of the problem is intra-European. People from Kosovo, Montenegro, and Albania want to leave their countries. While some of them might be able to legitimately claim refugee status, I think most can be properly labeled as economic immigrants.

It’s also interesting which countries have received the most asylum applicants
Power User
Posts: 13614

« Reply #152 on: October 22, 2015, 08:54:29 AM »

Military Science Fiction by the Author of A Desert Called Peace and A State of Disobedience.  A Frighteningly Possible Novel of the Next Century, Where Europe is an Islamic Stronghold and the Staging Ground for the Final Jihad Against the Great Satan: America.  First Time in Paperback.

“Slavery is a part of Islam . . . Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam.” —Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan, author of the religious textbook At-Tawhid (“Monotheism”) and senior Saudi cleric.
            Demography is destiny. In the 22nd century European deathbed demographics have turned the continent over to the more fertile Moslems. Atheism in Europe has been exterminated. Homosexuals are hanged, stoned or crucified. Such Christians as remain are relegated to dhimmitude, a form of second class citizenship. They are denied arms, denied civil rights, denied a voice, and specially taxed via the Koranic yizya. Their sons are taken as conscripted soldiers while their daughters are subject to the depredations of the continent’s new masters.
            In that world, Petra, a German girl sold into prostitution as a slave at the age of nine to pay her family’s yizya, dreams of escape. Unlike most girls of the day, Petra can read. And in her only real possession, her grandmother’s diary, a diary detailing the fall of European civilization, Petra has learned of a magic place across the sea: America. But it will take more than magic to free Petra and Europe from their bonds; it will take guns, superior technology, and a reborn spirit of freedom.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2015, 12:43:50 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 13614

« Reply #153 on: October 23, 2015, 06:53:10 PM »

« Last Edit: October 23, 2015, 08:37:48 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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Posts: 36862

« Reply #154 on: November 16, 2015, 09:40:05 PM »

 The Paris Attacks Will Have Far-Reaching Effects
Geopolitical Diary
November 17, 2015 | 02:06 GMT Text Size

With the French and many others around the world still in shock after the terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, French President Francois Hollande said Monday in a speech before the two chambers of Parliament that France is at war and announced a series of policies to fight terrorism. The attacks revealed the extent to which the situation in Syria, the immigration crisis in Europe and international terrorism are interconnected. The repercussions of the attacks will be similarly far-reaching.

The Paris attacks will seriously challenge the continuity of the Schengen Agreement, which eliminated border controls in Europe. As of Monday, the Schengen Agreement is effectively suspended in many places. France has re-established border controls, as have Sweden, Germany and Slovenia. Hungary built a fence to protect its border with Serbia, which is not a member of the treaty. So far, these actions are taking place within the framework of Schengen, which allows for the temporary reintroduction of border controls during emergencies.

What is a Geopolitical Diary?

The big question is whether Schengen will be formally abolished, or if countries will begin to opt out from it. The concept of a Europe without borders has become very difficult for governments to defend. As a first reaction, European governments could enact measures to improve intelligence sharing and increase cooperation between security forces in Europe while trying to preserve the agreement. But the future of Schengen is ultimately in the hands of European voters. If the popular sentiment turns against Schengen, moderate governments — or, after the next electoral cycle, nationalist governments — could withdraw from the agreement.

Meanwhile, closing off Europe's external borders without finding a home for the migrants could lead to serious problems in the Balkans, where migrants will be stranded. As several thousand men and women become involuntary immigrants to countries with high unemployment and latent ethnic tensions, the region's already fragile political and social structures will experience significant strain in the next few months.

The Paris attacks could accelerate the rise of nationalist parties across Europe. After the dust settles in France, voters could decide that Hollande's Socialist government has failed to protect them. In the upcoming municipal elections (scheduled for December), the center-right Republicans and the far-right National Front will probably have strong showings, paving the way for a strong performance for both parties in the presidential election of 2017. To different degrees, the two parties criticize Europe's policies on migration and, in the case of the National Front, France's membership in the eurozone.

The rise in Euroskepticism will be felt elsewhere in Europe. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has already changed policy to toughen regulations on asylum. In the coming days she will be under pressure from conservative forces to follow the policy changes with political changes, potentially including an admission of mistakes in the handling of the migration crisis. If anything, the Paris attacks could accelerate Germany's growing Euroskepticism ahead of the general elections of 2017 and especially after the vote.

The Paris attack will also make it hard for the European Commission to defend its plan to relocate refugees across the Continent. The plan was already in serious trouble: Only a few hundred of the 120,000 men and women included in the scheme have actually been relocated. Poland said it will opt out from the plan, and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe will probably follow suit. Brussels will be too weak to introduce sanctions against the countries that choose not to participate in the plan.

Before the Paris attacks, the European Union was already trying to enhance cooperation with Turkey to prevent asylum seekers from entering Europe. The Turkish government basically made three requests: money, visa liberalization for Turkish citizens and a no-fly zone in northern Syria. The European Union has already approved giving Ankara some 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) to deal with the migration crisis. After the Paris attacks, Brussels will probably offer more flexible visa conditions for Turkish citizens.

Now the stage is set for Turkey to solicit firmer support from the Europeans as it tries to push forward its plans to establish a "safe zone" in northern Syria. Turkey and the United States already appear to be in advanced talks over stepping up military operations in northern Syria, and Ankara is looking for diplomatic cover from NATO members to proceed, preferably with the participation of European countries willing to put boots on the ground. There is no guarantee that Turkey will get that much of a commitment from the Europeans, but it can count on broader European involvement overall in the air campaign against the Islamic State. The major question is still whether Turkey and potential coalition partners can reach an understanding with Russia to quell the fighting.

In addition, the Paris attacks could compel more EU members to seek accommodation with Russia on the end of the civil war in Syria. Countries that were originally against keeping Bashar al Assad in power could decide to stick with the devil they know to slow down emigration from Syria. This could open the door for cooperation in other issues — most notably, Ukraine — but that would happen later in the process. The European Union is still likely to extend sanctions against Moscow when they expire in late January 2016, and the United States probably will encourage its European partners to keep pressure on Russia. Moreover, even with Russian cooperation, substantial challenges remain in Syria, given the disputes over which Syrian parties can be negotiated with, the presence of extremist factions in Syria that do not want a cease-fire to be implemented, and the vast number of armed factions in the conflict.

Europe also faces limitations when it comes to a military reaction to the Paris attacks. Airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq will intensify in the coming days, but Europe is unlikely to go beyond that. Germany will oppose any form of military intervention in Syria and will push for a diplomatic solution to the civil war in the country. Countries such as the United Kingdom and Italy could join the airstrikes in Syria, but they are unlikely to send ground troops to the conflict. Even U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that putting boots on the ground would be a mistake.

The Paris attacks will accelerate some processes that were already underway in Europe, such as resistance to migration and criticism of the Schengen Agreement. The attacks will also affect the European Union's already complex relationship with Turkey and Russia, but pre-existing factors — such as political divisions among member states on how to deal with Moscow and Ankara — as well as logistical constraints will continue to shape the European Union's foreign policy, regardless of what has been said publicly the past three days.
Power User
Posts: 36862

« Reply #155 on: November 28, 2015, 09:20:09 AM »

Nov. 26, 2015 5:00 p.m. ET

Europeans will remember 2015 as the year in which national security became an everyday concern, from Russia’s encroachments on NATO’s periphery to the jihadist threat to their urban centers. So kudos to David Cameron’s government for reversing years of cuts to Britain’s military spending with a strategic review that starts to take account of the world as it is.

“We must expect the unexpected,” the Prime Minister warned Parliament on Monday. Britain, he added, “can make sure that we have the versatility and the means to respond to new risks and threats to our security.”

To that end, the government plans to spend £2 billion ($3 billion) on additional weapons for its special forces, hire 1,900 new foreign and domestic intelligence personnel, buy 20 long-range Reaper drones, restore Britain’s maritime patrol capabilities with nine P8 Poseidon aircraft (useful for hunting Russian submarines), and add new squadrons of land-based Typhoon and sea-based F-35 jets. The government will also set aside £41 billion to build Britain’s next generation of nuclear missile submarines.

As important, Mr. Cameron seems belatedly to recognize the need for Britain to maintain robust expeditionary forces. The number of deployable troops will increase to 50,000 from 30,000, including two new strike brigades of 5,000 troops each, capable of moving on short notice. “Not one of these capabilities is an optional extra,” he noted. “These investments are an act of clear-eyed self-interest.”

The Prime Minister is surely right, though even this new spending is not sufficient given the degraded state of Britain’s military. The U.K. spent 5.4% of GDP on defense in 1982, when it was barely able to muster the forces needed to retake the Falkland Islands from Argentina. Defense spending now hovers at 2.2%—large by European standards but barely meeting the NATO minimum of 2%.

Another concern is that many of the new capabilities won’t be operational for several years, while the security threats are increasing now. Mr. Cameron wants to increase Britain’s involvement in attacking Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, but Britain’s involvement is partly limited by not having an aircraft carrier capable of deploying fixed-wing aircraft. The U.K. is building two large carriers to replace the small jump-jet carriers it retired over the last decade, but the new ships aren’t scheduled to come into service until the 2020s. Maybe they’ll be put to use against whatever comes after Islamic State.

All of this is a reminder of the danger of shortchanging the military in a belief that the world will stay peaceful without a robust deterrent. That’s one of President Obama’s signature illusions, with his predictions of a receding tide of war. U.S. defense spending is also too low in an era of multiplying threats. Still, Mr. Cameron has made a useful start, and his NATO allies should follow his lead.
Power User
Posts: 36862

« Reply #156 on: November 28, 2015, 10:44:07 AM »

second post

The Fear of the Other Europe
Geopolitical Weekly
November 24, 2015 | 08:00 GMT Print
Text Size

By Reva Bhalla

Refugees are a natural byproduct of revolution. Stripped of status and security in the throes of political change, the masses will tend to sacrifice a life of familiar faces, customs and places and flock to foreign lands in search of simple things: a place to live, earn and provide for their kin in peace. But in that search for the path of least physical and political resistance, migrants cannot avoid disturbing the peace along the way. Their names, clothes, accents, languages and religions — everything that gives them a sense of place and belonging at home — make them "the other" in the eyes of their new hosts and thus undeserving of the rights and privileges of those with whom they are expected to assimilate. For the many who end up in Europe, assimilation will instead occur in the ghettos, where migrants already pushed to the fringes of society cling to rose-tinted memories of the life they left behind, widening a chasm in which radical ideas can fester for generations.

These are the conditions that threaten to radicalize and mobilize migrant offspring in France, Belgium and elsewhere. These were also the conditions endured by waves of displaced Goths who flooded the Roman Empire to flee their Hun invaders and of the millions of Eastern Europeans whose identity cards could scarcely keep up with the borders changing beneath their feet in the fervor and confusion of the world wars (the great "migration of nations," as Polish-born writer Aleksander Wat named it). In each mass migration, identities were lost, traded or hijacked along the way. As deeper phobias develop and moral restraint wears away, inventive and often dangerous schemes are developed to "solve" the problem of "the other." In 1926, the League of Nations had the idea to relocate former czarist emigres from Russia to the interior of Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru, an offer only briefly taken up by a few hundred Cossacks who warned their countrymen that a persecuted life in Europe, or even suicide, was still preferable to the exotic dangers they encountered in malaria-infested jungles. For the Third Reich, it was the ideological pursuit of lebensraum, or living space, through aggressive territorial expansion and genocide that would be framed in Nazi propaganda as an answer to Germany's post-World War I travails.
Europe Struggles to Find Its Balance

If refugees are a product of revolution, then the product of mass refugee flows is often a blend of economic stress and ethnic nationalism, the foundation of many transformative geopolitical events in our time. It would therefore be prudent to think through the deeper consequences of the large numbers of migrants fleeing lawlessness in the Middle East for a European Union that was sliding into an existential crisis before the most recent wave of migrants even showed up.

Over the past century, Europe has swung dramatically between two poles. After taking a destructive leap into ethnic nationalism, years of industrial-scale killings exhausted Europe to the point that states developed the extraordinary will to sacrifice their national sovereignty for the sake of avoiding conflict and pursuing prosperity in a union of European states. Europe's storied past, in a sense, would be overcome only by pushing nationalism under the rug and focusing on making money instead. That worked only until the promise of prosperity was crushed in the financial crisis of the early 21st century.

As economic pain grew from south to north and west to east on the Continent, the Euroskeptics calling for taking care of one's own before bailing out the distant relatives in the union gained popularity and strength at the expense of the Europeanists advocating an ever-closer union. Whether the message came from the right or the left or from the creditors or the debtors of the crisis, the idea was the same: When livelihoods are threatened, a state must look after its own interests before making sacrifices for the other. Even before Syrians, Libyans and Afghans began arriving en masse on European shores, the European Union was struggling with the idea that Germany shared the identity and fate of Greece. The suggestion, then, that a German taxpayer would now have to make sacrifices for a Syrian on the run was simply a bridge too far.

The Paris attacks did not send Europe into an entirely new direction; they catalyzed the long-running and arguably inevitable trend of European fragmentation. The debate over borders — lines that distinguish one's own from the other — is a logical flashpoint. As part of the European Union's efforts to forge a common European identity, the Schengen Agreement was designed to eliminate physical borders, a policy anchored in the bloc's foundational principle of allowing free movement of Europeans across national boundaries. But as more countries from the farther reaches of the Continent joined, fears grew of Balkan peoples straining social welfare systems and bringing crime into the core of Europe. The influx of refugees from the Middle East only deepened European disillusionment with Schengen as Syrians, Libyans and other migrants took advantage of weak border controls in the Balkans to make their way north. In the wake of the Paris attacks, the potential for militants to camouflage themselves in migrant flows only reinforces Europeans' paranoia over the security of their borders.

While lengthy, sophisticated and ultimately ineffectual debates over Schengen were taking place in Brussels, the countries on the front lines of the migrant crisis took matters into their own hands. Hungary and Slovenia built fences, and border controls were reimposed throughout the Schengen zone. No one was about to wait around while Brussels tried to come up with a 28-member consensus on how to deal with the problem. The danger now is that as Greece continues to funnel refugees northward, as Hungary and Slovenia shut off their non-Schengen neighbors to the south with fences, and as the Carpathian Mountains create physical difficulties for rerouting to the east, a bottleneck will develop in the Balkans. Already, some Balkan countries are trying to cherry-pick which refugees they will accept based on nationality and religion. This is a region where numerous unsettled issues from the 1990s can spark ethnic riots that a distracted Europe will have trouble containing.

As the Schengen pillar of the European Union comes crashing down, logically we should give the foundation of the European Union — France and Germany — a closer inspection. The European Union, after all, is a form of grand compromise between Paris and Berlin whereby they put aside their historical competitive impulses along the North European Plain and economically tether themselves to each other as a form of mutual containment. An economically stagnant France is more likely to identify with its southern Mediterranean roots as it grows more alienated from its economically healthier European peers to the north. Both France and Germany will face elections in 2017. In France, the nationalist and Euroskeptic currents underpinning Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front and Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right Republicans are likely to continue strengthening as economic stresses persist and as security concerns overwhelm the state. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's voice is already being drowned out by her more Euroskeptic Cabinet members and coalition partners who are showing less inhibition as they assert German rights in violation of pan-European interests.

Elsewhere in Europe, the United Kingdom is in the process of negotiating additional distance between itself and its European peers, creating political space for Poland to also go down a reverse-integration path. The Dutch have recently put forth an idea to create a mini-Schengen of culturally like-minded states with the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria, a grouping that harkens back to the Holy Roman Empire of the late 18th century. The fact that European elite are comfortable openly discussing a break-up into smaller blocs of culturally and historically harmonious entities and the ejection of more awkward elements such as Greece should not be taken lightly. Indeed, the debate over a "Grexit" is bound to resurface as a politically fragile Athens continues to struggle to implement reform. Germany's irritation will reverberate throughout the eurozone once again as Greece tries to leverage the growing number of refugees bottled up within its borders to negotiate a more lenient bailout timeline with its creditors. Only this time, the term Grexit and proposals to form new blocs is no longer taboo.
A Cycle of Division

A divided Europe will not necessarily replicate the horrors of the early 20th century. History will rhyme, however, at the intersection of several trends running in parallel. The splintering of Europe overlays the erosion of central authority within the Sykes-Picot borders in the Middle East — borders that the Europeans created to divide the region and tighten their colonial grip. With those territories in prolonged conflict, the weakening of those regimes and the radical ideologies borne out of power vacuums will risk drawing a minority of European Muslims into battle while driving migrants into the heart of Europe, accelerating Europe's path toward fragmentation.

As the core powers of Europe become more skeptical of the benefits of the European Union, compromises on issues ranging from migration to bailout policies will become elusive. A resurgent Turkey will leverage its position as the migrant gateway to Europe to exact concessions from the West while reassuming its imperial responsibilities in northern Syria and Iraq. Russia will use European divisions to its advantage as it tries to temper a Western encroachment in its former Soviet space even as it remains just as susceptible as the Europeans to the ethnic frictions and security threats emanating from mass migrant flows.

The global hegemon, by definition, will find itself at the center of this oddly familiar set of challenges afflicting Eurasia. The United States already shoulders most of the burden in extending a security buffer against Russia in Central and Eastern Europe and in trying to put a lid on conflicts in the Middle East. But an even bigger challenge may not have fully registered on Washington's radar: the darker side of a Europe willing to re-embrace nationalism in response to a fear of the other.
Power User
Posts: 36862

« Reply #157 on: January 28, 2016, 09:15:31 AM »

By Ian Morris

The slow-motion crisis of the European Union finally seems to be coming to a head. "Europe could lose its historical footing and the project could die quickly," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned in a speech at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "Things could fall apart within months," which, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble added, "would be a tragedy."

The catalyst for these fears is Britain's upcoming referendum on its EU membership, due by the end of 2017. I am writing this column having just left Congress Hall in Davos after British Prime Minister David Cameron's own speech on "Britain in the World." At least, that was what the speech was supposed to be about; in fact, it might have been better titled "Britain in the European Union (and What I Don't Like About It)." There are, to be sure, bits of Europe that Cameron does like, particularly its potential to create a single market for goods and services, but there is much more of which he disapproves. The core issue, he insisted, is that "if Europe is about ever-deepening political union, with ever-deepening political institutions, then it's not the organization for us."

What is Global Affairs?

Pressed on this point in the Q&A session, Cameron accepted that "you [can] never forget that this is a group of countries that used to fight each other and kill each other, and have actually now come together in a common endeavor"; but that coming together, he suggested, was the result less of the movement toward political union than of "some values that we in Britain are very proud of, in terms of committing to democracy and freedom and rights and all the rest of it."

Much ink has been spilled over whether David Cameron's speeches about the European Union represent his own views, those of his party, or a subtle attempt to manage the British nation's political mood. Yet whatever the prime minister's motives, seeing the 70-year process of European integration as part of a much longer history of state formation casts an interesting new light on the arguments Cameron offered at Davos.
Forging a New Path to Peace?

When I was a teenager growing up in 1970s Britain, no topic seemed quite as dull as the European Community (as it was called until it rebranded itself as the European Union in 1993). Nothing could get me to turn the TV off quite as quickly as yet another announcement from the bureaucrats in Brussels about what I was allowed to eat or drink and what size container it could come in. But I — and the millions of others who shared my lack of interest in all things European — was very wrong to react this way.

For 5,000 years, since the first states were created in what is now southern Iraq, governments have been using violence to create political unity and then using politics (and, when necessary, more violence) to create economic and cultural unity everywhere that their power reached. From 3000 B.C. through the late 1940s, it is hard to find a single example of a state formed in any other way. Since the late 1940s, though, Western Europeans have been turning history's most successful formula on its head.

The European Union has arguably been the most extraordinary experiment in the history of political institutions, but the reason its accomplishments seemed so boring was that dullness was the bloc's whole point. In committee meeting after committee meeting, unsung bureaucratic heroes spun a web of rules and regulations that bound the Continent's formerly sovereign states into an economic and cultural unit and then began using economics and culture to create a political unit. "The final goal," Helmut Schlesinger, the head of the German Bundesbank, explained in 1994, "is a political one … to reach any type of political unification in Europe, a federation of states, an association of states or even a stronger form of union." In this agenda, "the economic union is [merely] an important vehicle to reach this target."

For the first time in history, huge numbers of people — 500 million so far — have come together to form a bigger society without anyone using force to make them to do so. The consequences have been extraordinary: Between 1914 and 1945, Europeans killed more than 60 million people in two world wars, but by 2015 the European Union had become the safest place on Earth. Its citizens murdered each other less often than any other people on earth, its governments had abolished the death penalty, and it had renounced war within its borders (and almost renounced it outside them, too).

In 2003, opinion pollsters found that only 12 percent of French and German people thought that war was ever justified, as opposed to 55 percent of Americans. "On major strategic and international questions today," U.S. strategist Robert Kagan concluded that same year, "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus."

The contrast with the lands beyond the European Union's eastern border, where Russian leaders have not hesitated to assassinate their critics and use force against weaker neighbors, could hardly be starker. Small wonder that the Nobel Committee decided in 2012 to award its Peace Prize to the European Union as a whole.
The Drawbacks of Europe's Experiment

Why, then, Cameron's insistence that "Britain has never been happy with the idea that we are part of an ever-closer political union?" My own (admittedly unsystematic) survey of the discussions makes me think that there are three main arguments. The first is tribal: as Cameron put it in Davos, "We're a proud, independent country, with proud, independent democratic traditions." Britons have not been persuaded that the gains from surrendering their independent traditions and identity outweigh the costs.

The second argument, and the one least spoken about, is geostrategic. Since the 17th century, British grand strategy has consistently revolved around engaging with the wider world while preventing any single power from dominating continental Europe. "We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual friends," Lord Palmerston, the foreign secretary, famously observed in 1848; only "our interests are eternal and perpetual." Between 1689 and 1945, Britain built and broke alliances and paid huge costs in blood and gold to prevent the political unification of Europe; and as I have discussed before, since 1945 it has carried on a delicate diplomatic dance to remain engaged with the Continent while undermining any ever-deepening political union.

Third is what seems to be the most powerful argument of all: that Europe's novel path of coercion-free state formation is just not working. For nearly 15 years after the signing of the crucial treaty at Maastricht in 1992, the opposite had seemed to be the case. From Ireland to Estonia, most Europeans began sharing a single currency and central bank, accepting rulings from a European court and parliament, and crossing borders without passports. Since 2010, however, the tedious path of consensus building has increasingly broken down.

As the countries that had adopted the euro as their currency plunged into a debt crisis (or, more accurately, a balance-of-payments crisis between the highly productive North and the less productive South), they discovered the limits of a rules-based union that lacked the centralized coercive powers of a traditional state. An old-style empire could have used force to solve the problems, as Britain did when it sent gunboats to extract debt payments from Greece in 1850; but in the new Europe, no German tanks would be rolling through the streets of Athens to restore fiscal discipline.

Having chosen a path of state formation that denied it the very possibility of enforcing its rules with violence, the European Union has been teetering on the brink of an abyss for the last five years. By late 2011, the Swiss bank UBS was even worrying that the absence of central coercive power would unleash violence of a different kind: "Almost no modern fiat currency monetary unions," its analysts observed, "have broken up without some form of authoritarian or military government, or civil war." However, as of early 2016, the much-criticized policy of masterly inactivity — doing just enough to keep indebted countries afloat, but no more — does seem to be averting disaster. Despite eye-watering unemployment, occasionally violent street protests and regularly recurring political crises, Greece has hung on within the eurozone; and despite mounting pressure on Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and even France, none has collapsed.

Since 2014, however, a second problem has emerged for the European path toward state formation. Nearly 2 million refugees — less than half of one percent of the European Union's population, but a formidable number nonetheless — have flooded into Europe from the south and east. The borderless Schengen area, which will eventually comprise 26 of the 28 EU countries plus Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, has struggled to cope since it was constructed in 1985. Amid scenes of misery and even violence, internal borders are returning. State formation is going into reverse.
The Problem of Governing Without Power

For more than 60 years after its beginnings in the late 1940s, the European Union's revolutionary path of state formation without centralized coercive power gradually mastered its members' tribalism and local strategic interests. In many ways, this has been an inspirational story, challenging head-on Thomas Hobbes' assertion in Leviathan that the only force strong enough to prevent people from using violence to pursue self-interest is a government that has more violence at its disposal than any of its subjects.

Since 2010, however, evidence has been mounting that the European path toward state formation only really works in the best-case scenario. Confronted by genuinely Hobbesian challenges of greed and desperate refugees, the limitations of Brussels' rules and committees have become clear.

If correct, this seems to leave just two options. The first is that the champions of political union will turn the crisis of state formation into an opportunity, persuading the bloc's members to strengthen central institutions at the expense of local ones and thereby giving Brussels the powers it needs to tackle the forces of dissolution. Right now, however, that does not seem to be the direction Europe is moving in.

The second option is the one that Cameron championed at Davos: rejecting "ever-deepening political union, with ever-deepening political institutions" as Europe's goal. Cameron's claim that the pacification of Europe since 1945 has been a product of the Continent's shared democratic values rather than of political integration sweetens the pill, but rests on an unstated counterfactual assumption — that even if European nations had not surrendered so much of their sovereignty since the late 1940s, pacification would have happened anyway. In favor of Cameron's counterfactual is the point that violence has declined across most of the world in the last 70 years even though the number of independent nation-states has grown; against it, perhaps, the fact that violence has declined more inside the European Union than anywhere else.

No one has a crystal ball, and because Europe's experiment in state formation without violence is unique in the annals of history, we cannot even appeal to arguments from analogy to see where it might lead. One of the clearest trends of the last 10,000 years has been the creation of larger and larger political units, which might mean that Cameron is wrong and that the European Union will somehow muddle through. On the other hand, because these larger units have always been formed by governments monopolizing the use of legitimate violence within their territories and because this is the one strategy that the European Union has always rejected, perhaps we should conclude that Cameron is right, and that ever-deepening political union is a dead letter.

Back in 1651, Hobbes speculated that Leviathan — an awe-inspiring government controlling sufficient force to deter its subjects from using violence in their own interests — could be created in more than one way. The most common route, he surmised, was what he called "commonwealth by acquisition," which depended on threats and coercion, "as when a man maketh his children, to submit themselves, and their children to his government, as being able to destroy them if they refuse; or by war subdueth his enemies to his will, giving them their lives on that condition." However, Hobbes argued, it was also possible for there to be "commonwealth by institution … when men agree amongst themselves, to submit to some man, or assembly of men, voluntarily."

More than three centuries on from Leviathan, the European Union has been giving commonwealth by institution the most serious test it has ever had. It has been a noble and inspiring experiment in solving collective action problems without the threat of coercion. But if Cameron was right in Davos, the experiment is failing.
Power User
Posts: 36862

« Reply #158 on: January 28, 2016, 03:41:32 PM »

second post

Jan. 27, 2016 7:21 p.m. ET

Europe’s system of passport-free travel is on the way to history’s dustbin. The latest sign came Wednesday after the European Union issued a report faulting Greece for its handling of the refugee crisis. Greece now has three months to rectify its migrant-processing shortcomings or face suspension from Schengen, the treaty that facilitates visa-free travel across European frontiers.

The report followed Monday’s warning from EU interior ministers that they could move the EU’s external border up to Central Europe, effectively fencing Greece outside Schengen. Border controls have already been erected by Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden, while Britain and Ireland were never in the Schengen area. Expect other borders to close as the next wave of migrants moves in with warmer weather.

We don’t usually sympathize with Greece’s left-wing government, but it’s hard to see what Brussels expected in the face of the human tide. Most of the million refugees who arrived in Europe last year came by way of Greece’s Aegean islands. The EU has provided Greece a paltry €28 million ($30.4 million) in emergency funding to field five “hotspot” processing centers on the Greek isles, of which only one is in operation. That’s in addition to the €474 million in routine migration-management assistance the EU pledged to Greece from 2014 to 2020. By comparison, the EU donates some €100 million a year to Myanmar.

Europe’s real problem is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refusal to set a ceiling on the number of refugees Germany is willing to accept, combined with Europe’s failure to create safe zones in Syria, Libya and other failed states to stop the refugee flow. Migrants will continue to take desperate risks to get to Europe as long as they are fleeing chaos—and Germany continues to promise shelter, welfare and eventual citizenship.

Mrs. Merkel has sought to get other European countries to take in migrants on a quota system, but Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia have vowed to veto the plan. An effort last fall by Mrs. Merkel to persuade Ankara to do a better job of policing its own borders in exchange for European money and visa-free travel for Turks has yielded no results.

Meantime, the risk that the refugee crisis will become a security one continues to grow, with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve warning Monday that Islamic State has “set up a true industry of fake passports.” A Paris-style attack perpetrated by terrorists masquerading as refugees would be a tragedy and cause a political backlash that could favor Europe’s far-right typified by France’s Marine Le Pen.

A borderless Europe is still an ideal worth fighting for—assuming Europe can police its external borders and intervene abroad to prevent the tragedies of the Middle East from becoming its own. If Europe’s centrist leaders can’t do it, they will pave the way for the rise of their own Donald Trumps.
Power User
Posts: 5464

« Reply #159 on: February 03, 2016, 08:24:51 AM »

Can any one dream of any greater foolishness then this.  Crucifying themselves for the sins of the world .  Go ahead  and be stupid - but leave us out of this madness:
Power User
Posts: 7923

« Reply #160 on: April 03, 2016, 12:22:28 PM »

My guess is that it will be a close vote to stay in since this is almost margin of error close and people are mostly afraid of change.  Similarly, Scotland voted narrowly to stay in the U.K.

Which way would YOU vote?  My instinct would be to vote yes for the economic common market, no for open borders, no for Euro currency and in this case no for E.U. 

Being just one member is too little control of your own country.  The E.U. is not a country.  It is not an e pluribus unum, out of many, one.  Nor are we anymore, but Europe is less so.  Too many screwed up, failing states, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece... and too much going wrong in the so called stronger ones such as a million new refugees in Germany, trouble in France, Brussels, etc.
Power User
Posts: 7923

« Reply #161 on: April 22, 2016, 02:52:07 PM »

I wonder what others here think.  If you were British, how would you vote to exit or remain in the European Union.

(Do we have a separate Great Britain, U.K. thread?)

The E.U. is clearly stronger and better off with the UK in.  But what does the U.K. gain in return?  They don't even want the currency and neither side would gain from a trade war retaliation of their exit.   EU has no defense beyond the larger countries acting on their own.

The future of the EU will be the richer, more productive states bailing out the poorer, less productive ones.  As a richer nation, wouldn't you get out at every opportunity?

But the real, driving force of this is, out of control, open immigration.  Because it is in the EU, the UK  does not have the sovereignty to stop the current invasion.  Wouldn't they want to get the power back?  The UK should make UK immigration decisions.  No?
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