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30 November 2014

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Norbert M Salamon

CP thank you for the concise exposition of the political economic and military picture of European Union and related countries.
Having one daughter who studied in a German University [free, total cost including return for summer holidays in Canada being less than University in Edmonton] living in Spain with a German driver licence, spending holidays on London - New Years; and Rome -Christmas, I must admit that your analysis is correct as far as my daughter and son in law relate them.

I believe that the EU will find some manner of reconciliation with Russia, for it is extremely clear to the population that following blindly the US/NATO desires is counter productive to social well being.

Moreover, Europe is allergic to major wars within her own territory, and Europeans a well aware that Russia will take any economic hit and suffer the consequences, but will not give up her sovereignty [Mongol, Swede Pole, Turkish Napoleon, Axis] The US can not see this, for they are not interested in foreign history.

Castellio

I don't know your background, CP, but I find your current analysis right on track. One could quibble – was it really as late as Kosovo that diplomacy became 'coercive'– but why do so?

Solid and clear.

elaine

I'd enjoy seeing some real transparent disclosure of
exactly how much FED money is being purposed to bail
out European banks.

kao_hsien_chih

CP,

Thank you for your thoughtful essay. I think you are absolutely right that EU and NATO are fundamentally rival institutions advancing opposing goals.

The fundamental problem of EU, it seems to me, is that it is, by design, a leaderless, rudderless institution. It seeks to preserve sovereignty by insisting on consensus as the basic means of governance. On the one hand, this gives disproportionate power to a small but motivated minority. On the other hand, it prevents painful but necessary interventions from being carried out effectively (like in response to the recent financial meltdown). Between these weaknesses, EU is great when times are peaceful and prosperous, but unable to respond effectively in response to crises. NATO, in contrast, does offer a "leadership" from across the Atlantic, even if it may not fit the European consendus, or rather, because a clear European consensus is difficult to reach on issues of current concern. I was watching Hitchcock's "Lifeboat" the other day and that strikes me as a good analogue to the European challenge, albeit with American and European roles reversed.

I have trouble seeing a "Europe" perservere without fundamentally changing its collective decisionmaking process. Yet, its consensus-based approach to decisionmaking is central to making today's "Europe" what it is. If this Gordian knot cannot be untangled (and not cut, as per the shortcut taken by some too-clever-by-half Greek (alleged) long ago, which did not work...), then the whole European project will have unraveled, I suspect.

Grizziz

CP-
Thank you for the clear explication of the two forces -cultural liberalism and military dominance- which interact in the expansion of Europe.

Babak Makkinejad

I think stating that "that EU and NATO are fundamentally rival institutions.." is akin to saying that IRA and Sinn Fein were also rival organizations.

Babak Makkinejad

CP:

Thank you for this response to the question I posed earlier.

Regrettably, to me at least, this seems an apologia rather than an admission of responsibility.

If Iran can say no to US under duress, so could Germany, France, UK, Sweden and Switzerland - to name a few nominally sovereign European states - to US pressure that you have mentioned.

That they do not is because they fundamentally agree with the thrust of US policy; in my opinion.

confusedponderer

Why not put it another way:

Rasmussen, the craven creature that he is, had Denmark apparently ban a rather un-terrorist Kurdish language TV channel on terrosism-support charges, because otherwise, the Turks would have killed his NATO chairmanship. And when entitlement calls, what is freedom of the press to stand in the way?

There is no price that a country like Denmark pays for being hostile to Iran, which is why they can utter statements of condemnation or sanctions. Their own trade relations with Iran are negligible. Their imports (rugs, pistacio nuts, dates?) either.

So why not? Consider the benefits - a pat on the back and sharing the stage with someone important!

And when the US or the Izzies tell Europe's Rassmussens a tall tale they are usually in no position to confirm any of the allegations because they lack the national means to verify those charges. They have to take them on trust.

Denmark's military has able seamen weathering the north atlantic and arctic oceans - but as far as stratiegic intelligence of Iran is concerned they simply lack means.

Which means that such small countries are easy pickings in diso-info peddling and influence operations. It pays, because at NATO, Denmark has as much weight as Germany - one vote.

And of course, their lack of capability makes such states vulnerable to a being played and their weight well above their punch makes them attractive for influence operations.

People like Rasmussen seem to be especially suited to being wined, dined, charmed and flattered. If their NATO connections pass them 'good intel' they can bask in the sunshine of momentary importance. Then invite them to a prestigious US university or a think thank, have him come to the Whitehouse, give him applause, give him laudatory speeches, have him meet the president, the VP and some senators - the US really are good to make people like him feel important.

That stick worked perfectly on Tony Blair before.

If I was the US and wanted to play the NATO card to influence the EU, I'd also target insecure me-me-me's like Poland, other border states (and stoke their fears of the enemy beyond - like Russia) and wannabes like Rasmussen. They are primary targets.

That said, I love Denmark. I had a fantastic time there - a very charming country with very nice people.

So, Babak, the culprit you seek is not so much nations but "well networked elites".

William R. Cumming

CP and ALL: I very interesting post and thread. And the Post certainly a cogent and coherent analysis.

Unfortunately my take on Europe and NATO quite different. By the year 2045 IMO most people will wonder at the aberrational thinking that led US FP in the first 4 decades of the 21st Century and how skillfully the post 1945 Europe [including Russia?] played the US into a largely marginal role on the western portions [west of Urals?] Eurasian Continent.

If Israel sings "never again' Western Europe sings "never can again" referring to the tilting of balance in two WWs and perhaps Cold War by the USA that let Europe pretend history had ended.

First and most skillfully EU diplomats and military skewer the USA over and over by agreeing to US demands. Why? And how? Most US demands in Europe and NATO are based on mythology and inaccurate history. And the Europeans and Russians [also European now and forever IMO] know it. But letting the US believe it has power when it does not have it is an old European game. Examples: 1. The 2 million Americans sent to Europe after declaration of War were the decisive factor in WWI. 2. That the US employment of forces after D-Day inn WWII "won" WWII. 3. That the US "won" the Cold war.

IMO "wars' are never "won" but they are "lost"! Military histories should focus on those who "lost' as opposed to those that "won" if history is not to tragically repeat itself. P.L.'s Civil War [WBS] Trilogy brilliantly does
that IMO!

Could the EU/NATO w/o US produce 100 Mechanized Divisions if it wanted to do so? Could Russia? Maybe! Could the USA? Absolutely not.

Do Strategic Nuclear Weapons or Theatre Nuclear Weapons count for anything in strategy and planning in NATO or Europe? No! In Russia maybe.

Was a non-nuclear NATO ever have been likely to resist a Western European Russia in conventional war? No/never!

Trend out any form of hard or soft power post 1945 to the present and that is the current reality.

The dreams of a largely unrealistic café society in Europe are likely to end like the Belle Epoque IMO.

And the Battles of Tours, Poitiers, and the Sieges of Vienna might still be revisited.

For non-traditional background reading try John Brockman's 2014 effort WHAT SHOULD WE BE WORRIED ABOUT?

kao_hsien_chih

BM,

That would actually be a rather apt comparison, depending on which IRA (from which period in history) you are talking about.

Fred

CP,

When did the EU become the "United States" of Europe? I do not believe that is the case at all. You state: "Sevently, the appeal of the ‘civilizational’ gravitational pull of the EU is ... reflects the European experience...." While you can travel without across the EU with an ID card and need no green card to obtain employment in Bonn or Paris just what are your children going to learn in either city once one moves there? What language are they going to be taught in, "European"? Will those children grow up German or French or just "European"?

I saw this first hand in Ireland while on holiday with my wife and her family. At the time (2000) the boom was on and there was a massive influx of EU money - and EU passport holders. The former was certainly welcome while the latter were not; mostly as they had neither desire nor intention to be "Irish". The feeling of the Irish I spoke with then is the same amongst a number of Americans right now and can best be expressed by latest internet meme going around in the US: "You came to start a new life in my country, tell me more about how our schools and traditions have to change to fit your needs."

"Fourthly, Europe, by and large, is a resounding success story,..."Europe has a vibrant culture of political liberalism and parliamentarian values, and peaceful cooperation and a remarkable degree of prosperity."

I think this is only partly true. How do the Greeks, Spanish or Irish feel about EU "prosperity" or the latest round of what amounts to bailing out German banks by forbidding the bondholders from defaulting on predatory loans? I hardly think they feel "sovereign and equal" as you say above. Here's another (and different) take on Maastricht:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/11/yanis-varoufakis-maastricht-another-versailles-german-nation-reply-klaus-kastner.html

Tyler

Cp,

Lol. The EU is a cover for unelected technocrats to fleece the Europeans while talking grandoisely at lavish get togethers.

Oh, and calling anyone who opposes unfettered immigration a nazi.

Its going to be SPECTACULAR when this fool's plan falls apart.

confusedponderer

For a technocratic fleecing racket it has been remarkably effective at unifying Europe and unifying European national law and keeping the peace between the Nations.

There is no denying that there is technocratic excess, and overreach, but there is a solid core of achievement. You won't read about it because it works.

Ursa Maior

As a citizen of the allegedly putinist Hungary, please let me ask a simple question.

What do you think what has led the majority of hungarian voters to support a move to tighten ties with Russia? With Russia that we fought four, sorry five times in the last 150 years?! (1848-49 revolution, WWI, Communist Dictatorship 1919, WWII, 1956 revolution).

Let me give you a hint.

The COMPLETE failure of the EU/NATO soft power. We were promised a much better standards of living 25 yrs ago. Instead we got capitalist turned high ranking communists, who were eager to serve another master EU/NATO/US you name it. Some untouchable people made fortunes in clearly illegal actions enjoying high level EU/US support. The gap between our and our closest neighbour's niveau (Austria you know Austro-Hungarian Empire) has only increased in the last 25 yrs. The western powers clearly have supported the liberal turned communists, because they had sold -""privatised""- to their multinational companies whatever they've asked for. At ridiculously low prices. See glass beans to the natives. By 2010 there were virtually NO sector of the hungarian economy with siginficant (above 25%) indigenious market share in it. While the average wage as getting lower and lower some 8-10 billion EURs left the country per annum as open, or hidden profit.

Now this was stopped in 2010. Quite drastically I might say and the process was and is full of errors, yet the intention is widely supported among the hungarian population.

The above causes have lead to a crazy situation where the lead speaker of a major anti-govt rally have wore a CCCP -ie Soviet union) hoodie and was dressed like the inglorious Lenin boys - terror troops of the 1919 Communist takeover.

confusedponderer

"As a citizen of the allegedly putinist Hungary"

I am observing, not judging. And 'Putinist' is quite obviously a slur and intended that way (if not by me).

I can see how Orban sees himself in the tradition of Horthy.

It may well be that Orban tries a very delicate balancing act between the far right and the EU by coopting the right and controlling the center. He is clearly solidifying his and his party's control.

If that is so, the weakness of his approach is that it vests power in him´self and nobody else. Which leaves open the question of what happenes after him.

It seems to me that Orban has come to the view that Hungary's society and its democracy is not stable enough to function properly without firm stewarship and a greater degtree of national independence and freedom of action, that explaining both his lack of ethusiasm for the EU (which limits, by definition his freedom of action) and his accumulation of power at hime to maximise his political freedom of action.

Whatever Orban will do for Hungary, he won't teach the country the art of compromise. That said, just imagine Orban's power, in the hands of Jobbik or the left. There will be a time when Orban will have to pick an heir. Will Hungary hold then?

William R. Cumming

Hey helping banksters fleece the sheeple not just Hungarian official policy IMO!

The standard for exploitation of other nation-states by a single nation-state or any collective of nation-states is a rather simple metric.

Since 1945 the USA has on an annual average utilized 25% or more of the resources of the entire Planet Earth.

And then again what percentage of Earth's resources consumed annually by the DAVOS crowd? Is there a single Hungarian attending DAVOS Conference on World Economic affairs held annually?

confusedponderer

George Soros.

Edit: The sole participant for Hungary in the 2013 WEF was ... *drumroll*

Jeroen van der Veer
the Executive Member of the Governing
Board European Institute of Innovation and Technology, which is located in Hungary.

http://www3.weforum.org/docs/AM13/WEF_AM13_Participants_34ezx6jlxk.pdf

http://eit.europa.eu/

Ursa Maior

„I am observing, not judging. And 'Putinist' is quite obviously a slur and intended that way (if not by me).”

Understood.

„I can see how Orban sees himself in the tradition of Horthy.”

He is rather in the shoes of Prime Minister Kállay, who was forced to take two steps toward the Allies in WWII, and two steps towards the Nazis. It was dubbed the Kállay doble, by the contemporary press. IMHO Orbán tries the same now. OTOH many compare him with Horthy, he still has way less power than the governor.

„It may well be that Orban tries a very delicate balancing act between the far right and the EU by coopting the right and controlling the center. He is clearly solidifying his and his party's control.”

Yes he is. But it would be only antidemocratic, if these steps were made against the will of the majority of the voters. The three clearly won elections this year show that he got support. Yes there were gerrymandering and all sorts of cherrypicked adjustments to the legal system, but most of them were long overdue, the socialliberals can only blame themselves for failing to accomplish them. They brought 4-6% votes max . BTW regardless of the foreign perception far right in not strong here. They have supporters mostly in villages and smaller cities, where there are unintegrated gypsy minorities.

„If that is so, the weakness of his approach is that it vests power in him´self and nobody else. Which leaves open the question of what happenes after him.”

Good question. Nobody knows. Not even in his party are any real heirs to be seen. Those self aspiring resemble the generally despised ex-communist oligarchs (like Gyurcsány – former PM) so much that their ascension is highly unlikely.

„It seems to me that Orban has come to the view that Hungary's society and its democracy is not stable enough to function properly without firm stewarship and a greater degtree of national independence and freedom of action, that explaining both his lack of ethusiasm for the EU (which limits, by definition his freedom of action) and his accumulation of power at hime to maximise his political freedom of action.”

Good analysis. For us the EU proved to be nothing but an oppressive robber baron, which dictates, and takes whatever it needs. Even going to such extremes like turning a blind eye on the police attrocities in 2006.

„Whatever Orban will do for Hungary, he won't teach the country the art of compromise. That said, just imagine Orban's power, in the hands of Jobbik or the left. There will be a time when Orban will have to pick an heir. Will Hungary hold then?”

Dunno. We completely lack a common ground, a so called national minimum. EU/NATO membership was pushed or might even say forced by both sides of the political elite for their own good. See present Serbia. Population does not know, does not care just want to live better finally. I usually say general hungarian history ends in october 1918. After that there is a leftist hungarian history and a rightist one. We have not faced our own deeds neither in the holocaust, nor in the fact that the biggest jewish community in Eastern and/or Middle Europe lives here (cca 100,000 people!)

Dont fear Jobbik! like I said no serious support from intellectuals, no significant support in the cities etc. Of course if the EU pushes harder its neoliberal and criminal friendly attitude it may change.
The left is in shambles. After running the country for 8 yrs they managed to get so corrupted, and to introduce such an aggressive neoliberal attitude, that their incompetence and intolerance became obvious to most of the population except their most ardent supporters. Those people, mostly ex communist party members and entrepeneurs directly attached to the socialist party wont vote others come hell or high warter. For them anything conservative is directly from the devil.

Ursa Maior

Hey we dont play in that league!

Especially after our PM clearly stepped on the toes of the neoliberal, internationalist crowd.

He refused to tax further the population instead "invited" aimed taxes like bank tax, or telecommunication tax. Of course these will get their way down to the public but at least he did something.

OTOH other hand we are still held in a "non suggested for investment" category by all rating houses, even though economy is in a more or less good shape.

Guess why?

IMHO we are the Argentina of the EU in many aspects.

Dubhaltach

Well I'm glad you enjoyed your time in my country and take no issue with what you say all of which is true. I will however add some information of which you may not be aware which is that for his entire working life before he became a full-time politician Fogh Rasmussen worked for the American McKinsey consulting firm. He's made money all his life by advocating the right-wing to extreme right-wing policies of his paymasters.

Dubhaltacj

William Fitzgerald

CP,

First, thank you for the chart. At first glance it resembled a "dogs breakfast" but, actually, it was easily understood and illustrated to me why consensus is the only way for the decision making process to work.

I must say that the bellicose (as well as melancholy) Dane was a surprise. I would have expected a more rational and objective approach vis a vis the Ukraine and Crimea situation.

I'm of the opinion that the very civilizational gravitational pull you mentioned along with prospects for a long term movement by the RF toward the European community are viewed with alarm by American policy makers. That is a key reason for support of the coup in Kiev.

WPFIII

William R. Cumming

Thanks CP! Is Soros a dual citizen?

William R. Cumming

Thanks U.R.!

Dubhaltach

And of course you live over here and have direct personal experience of the benefits the EU has brought yes?

I'm a Dane living in Denmark one of the most anti-Brussels, anti-EU centralisation, anti-EU bureaucrat countries there is. There's a well-grounded and well-funded movement here to leave the EU. And they get lots of public support right up to the point where the electorate realises how dependent their jobs are on the free movement of goods, capital, and labour, throughout the EU.

Every Dane and every non-citizen resident in Denmark gets as a matter of right:

Free health care.

Heavily subsidised medicines for people suffering chronic conditions such as Diabetes (all types), arthritis, heart disease, and so on.

Free education all the way up to PhD level if you're good enough to make it to PhD level.

Heavily subsidised child care for working parents vuggestuer.

We can afford all of these because our exports are booming high value-added products exported primarily to the EU.

Much of Germany's former stellar economic performance was funded precisely the same way by the taxes paid by a highly productive healthy and well-educated workforce. It's been domestic policies in particular those initiated by Kohl that have caused many of Germany's problems not the EU.

When I look at how well Northern Europeans such as myself live and compare it to the increasingly desperate struggles of Americans I'm really quite glad that the EU is such a success.

Dubhaltach

William R. Cumming

The USA was incredibly enriched by Hungarian refugees is 1956. What are the inflow/outflow statistics now for Hungry? If they do vote with their feet what is the nation-state destination of choice for Hungarians?

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