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09 May 2015

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William R. Cumming

The Chief Astronomer of the UK says already too late to deal with Greenhouse and Co2 warming.

William R. Cumming

There are estimates that 25M American citizens and Green Card holders live West of the Urals! Have nay info on this factoid?

Ulenspiegel

" My own reading of Merkel's policy had been that she got herself into a muddle which she did not really anticipate, and out of which she does not really know how to find an exit."

Yes. But let us be fair, Merkel either could have chosen to act like Schröder in 2003, i.e. confront the US government and clearly define and defend German interests, or to play the reliable ally. Both approaches come with a price tag. IMHO to early to judge her actions.

Ulenspiegel

"There is this relentless German drive to mould Europe to fit its vision. That could be due just to economic imperatives, but it could also be part of a larger design."

Sorry, larger design does not make sense for me as German. We had the old Europe/ new Europe in 2003/4, then the German economic turn-around after 2005, the cisis of 2008 and the Euro crisis after 2010.

Most of these events could not have been forseen and BTW Merkel is not the really good strategist, "only" a very talented tactician.

In 2003/4 there was the strong UK support for an eastward expansion of the EU against the French position, Germany was undecided. What were the British motives? :-)

After the failure of "New Europe" there was an obvious and in case of Poland a quite schizophrenic re-alignment.

The current situation is a result of economic realities on the ground and IMHO partially the result of the fact that UK (or France) do not offer a real alternative.

FB Ali

I observe all this from a distance; that is why I would defer to observers closer to the 'action' and more involved.

My statement that you highlight alluded to the German insistence on 'austerity' as the way out of the current economic problems. A policy that suits Germany but is deadly for many other countries, especially for the bulk of their populations.

Ulenspiegel

The irony is, that the eastward expansion of the EU was NOT a German project. To complain that this project backfires because its founders could not deliver is cheap IMHO.

FB Ali

Thank you for this summary of Todd's interview (I have yet to read the full transcript). It is obvious that he is not pushing some pet thesis, but rather giving the broad conclusions arising from his study.


His views on the "nature" of a national society as a driving force is certainly worth factoring in along with things like geographic imperatives in divining the future course of events. They certainly play a weightier role in determining that future than the expedient actions of national leaders.

Ulenspiegel

"What is there not to like?" Your scientific illiteracy.

"That is an alarmist opinion spread by the eco-NAZIs, no doubt." Your half-cooked nonsense is no substitute for a little bit understanding of science and BTW your statement is an insult for people who have actually worked for their scientific opinion. BTW: How many peer re-viewed scientific articles have you published?

LeaNder

I am not quite sure if I am up to the mixed metaphors of Pepe Escobar, who I respect basically. Interesting voice.

"Amidst the current EU intellectual quagmire where, to quote Yeats, “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity” – think puny neoliberal ideologues scurrying under their sinecures in that Kafkaesque temple of mediocrity, Brussels - a modern Diogenes would be hard pressed to find an informed observer capable of seizing up Germany’s game."

Brussel a modern Diogenes? Am I correct that we should locate mythical Diogenes in Greece at this point in time, after all that's where he belongs, while a reincarnation of the new murderers of Diogenes/Greece can be located in Berlin at this point in time? But would that make Brussels a modern Diogenes?

Let's wait and see if Todd not only correctly predicted the fall of the Soviet system but also the fall of the US empire. ... No doubt the fall of empires has quite a bit of historical data although not much on recent examples like the US.

I may be completely misguided, but France was much more hesitant about US/American anglophile dominance then, e.g. Germany. Culture, language, movies, the threat of Hollywood's power after a run in the US?

On the other hand Germans no doubt have to be aware that before the cold war and ending the Nazi reign the US and Russia joined hands in defeating the Nazis. And that the Russians collectively suffered a lot more then America. And with the exception as my mother calls them: "the eternally stuck in the past" there is a memory of that in Germany. Never mind the Russian versus American atrocity tale here in Germany that recently got quite some prominence.

turcopolier

LeAnder

"the Russian versus American atrocity tale here in Germany that recently got quite some prominence." What is that? pl

LeaNder

David, I am honored by the fact that you consider my opinion important. I am afraid it is not.

Concerning Merkel, as far as my private reminisces are concerned I am afraid they started early long before her rise to power. When I first read this I pondered about how to put it shortly and failed.

There is a huge disparity between what Merkel says and what she does, from my perspective. What she says is very, very much aligned with the US or NATO position, while what she does like the France/Germany activities and now her one-day-off-visit may well serve to satisfy the not so deaf and dumb among us Germans: acknowledging German guilt towards the Russians.

As someone basically a-political (compared to suspicious of power) before 911, I am not a good representative for my country, maybe????

confusedponderer

"Colorado" for the Colorado potato beetle, striped red and black like the pro-Russian ribbons. Those outside chanted ''burn Colorado, burn,'' witnesses said.'"

Yes, I recall that also. Little heard of in the Western media.

The insult "Colorado" becomes all the more ominous since the Colorado beetle is a pest which destroyed harvests and caused hunger, and concerted campaigns were waged to eradicated it. Russians a pest eating at the wealth of Ukraine? Speak about dehumanisation.

It parallells in symbolism the portait of Jews as rats scavenging on food supplies in the execrable nazi propaganda movie "The eternal Jew" - as a pest that must be eradicated.

The episode aptly illustrates the ugliness of Ukrainian nationalism.

Babak Makkinejad

The answer to your last question - 2.

Not at all, I suggest you read the book by Dr. Mueller - "Ice Ages and Astronomical Causes" instead of listening to stupid people whose sole commitment is not to Truth but to the advancement of their own personal or tribal agenda.

Babak Makkinejad

Look, if you take Dr. Mueller's argument seriously, as I do, there is not a damn thing that any one can do in regards to global warming but to adjust.

Carbon Dioxide, methane, water vapor, and clouds work together in a system in dynamic equilibrium to adjust the mean temperature of the planet as it gradually warms up due to the alteration of Earth's orbit around the Sun.

No big deal; ice ages are the ultimate human catastrophe and not the warming of Earth.

LeaNder

Pat, mainly rape. German women raped by Russian soldiers. There seems to be no accompanying "collective evidence" concerning American troops. Otherwise it no doubt would have surfaced.

On the other hand the US and Russian experience cannot be compared in that context: Trying to be neutral. I suppose the stories surfaced due to the pressure of evidence. I am not suggesting they were launched. ...

I may have paid attention on the theme since rape caught my attention in Shakespeare's earliest play and I am famous for wandering off topic on single themes surfacing in whatever context I had to write a paper on: "You aren't supposed to write a thesis on that." My friends usually were puzzled that my curiosity didn't stop with the "schein" (the credits) I had already received. In any case in these studies rape surfaced dominantly in wars.

So yes, there was some context to why it may have caught my attention later.

Full discovery: I worked for a short time for Medica Mondiale, and rape was an issue again in the Balkan wars, a context in which Monika Hauser founded it. ...

Patrick Bahzad

All,

Sorry I missed out on some exchanges regarding not so much the initial thread but Germany's position and perspectives in Europe, or Emmanuel Todd's views about these issues and others.

To those who haven't read Todd or heard anything about him, i would say you're missing out on one of the few European thinkers who have a genuine strategic and long term view on where we might be going. That's not to say he's right or wrong, but he has developed an independent and global analysis based on a certain set of criteria that allows him to make certain assessments and forecast developments.
Todd by the way is French-American and was educated in Cambridge. Any attempt at disqualifying him as yet another of those French "intellectuals" would be seriously misguided.
He wrote a truly visionary first book in 1976 about the coming fall of the Soviet Union and has published lots of very interesting works since. However, you can't take what he says as a comment on immediate or near future developments. He analyses things in a long term strategic perspective. Some might think he is wrong, just because his assessment hasn't materialized YET.
As for his "End of the American Empire", I remember reading it in 2004 when I was in a very unpleasant place and it did strike me back then as one of the most important books written by anybody since Huntington's "Clash of civilizations". I think Todd is right in his analysis, even though end of the US empire has nothing to do with the "Fall of Rome". That's not how it is playing.

As for Germany, again, people with no background in anthropology will tend to see his description of Germans as based mostly on political science and traditional history. It isn't. Actually, Todd's most central book "L'origine des systèmes familiaux", published a few years ago, is what he bases most his assumptions about a people's cultural core and characteristics. It would be too long to get into it, but the core thesis is that the "dominant political culture" of a country is the reflection of family systems and structures that have prevailed there for centuries.
It looks at countries and their reactions to outside events from a totally different angle, but it doesn't mean it's inaccurate. The question that needs to be asked however, is whether family systems that have now changed a lot in the past 40 years still continue to influence cultures and national qualities/characteristics. Todd thinks so, very much like the human brain has been shaped by necessities dating back thousands of years ago, but still reacts to certain stimuli in the same way it deed back then.

Finally, Todd only states German domination of Europe is one of several possible scenarios. Keep in mind, he says this also as an adversary of the current form of the EU and European politics ... I can't go too much into detail about this aspect, but my take is on the contrary that Germany had a chance to become the leading power in Europe for years to come, maybe decades, but they blew it when they refused to bail out and show solidarity with countries that were really in distress (Greece, Spain, Portugal) or countries asking for a change in macro-economic policies in Europe (Italy, France, Belgium for example).
what could have been a German "Marshall Plan" for those European countries was turned down by the German government for fear of voters' opposing it. In that sense, Germany and its leaders showed a total lack of strategic vision and thinking. The only way Germany directs European politics now is with a financial stick ... No carrot, no empathy, no solidarity with people and nations that suffer. this is going to have long term effects in countries with an old history and a strong national feeling. Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, even Belgium (that non-country) are never going to let a German economic hegemon stay in charge of Europe's destiny for longer than the German financial stick/sword hangs over their heads.

The US after WW II had a policy of carrot and stick, backed up by military might that Germany is never going to have, coupled with internal demographics that are catastrophic even in the medium run.
Germany could have built an empire of "goodwill" and "benevolence", but like any country whose population medium age is 45 years (meaning there are lots of old people and very few young), it prefers keeping its savings in a bank account and not invest into a brighter future.
There might be a German hegemon for a period, maybe 10 more years, but it is going to decline quickly after that and traditional European powers like France and the UK (and even Italy) are going to catch up with it, both demographically and economically. At that point, Germany will have no more aces up its sleeves and will need to either come to another form of cooperation or agreement with its reinvigorated neighbors, turn inwards and chose the path of a supersize Switzerland, or renew its strategic dependence agreement with the US.
All three options are possible ... Just my view, based on not (too) much thinking :-)

LeaNder

"German insistence on 'austerity' as the way out of the current economic problems."

It's puzzling to me, considering that I so far had the impression that Germany's austerity policy pre-WWII made things worse. Notice this is precisely the argument by the present Greek government: At least we prevented the rise of the right, the Golden Dawn.

On the other hand Europe has a couple of basic economic rules. One of them is a country's budget should be balanced and a country debts should be within certain limits, I understand. Germany failed this rule herself occasionally. I forget the precise percentage of allowed debts.

Of course these rules were written without 2008 in mind. And obviously 2008 had a different impact on the diverse European state economies.

I am no economist, but Krugman is. Have you ever looked at his discussion of austerity politics and it's (neo?)-academic supporters? E.g. his take of excel sheet expertise?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/opinion/krugman-the-excel-depression.html

The problem may well be the consent of economists concerning the Great Depression that WWII and the accompanying increased production for the war ultimately turned matters around.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression#World_War_II_and_recovery

"The common view among economic historians is that the Great Depression ended with the advent of World War II. Many economists believe that government spending on the war caused or at least accelerated recovery from the Great Depression, though some consider that it did not play a very large role in the recovery. It did help in reducing unemployment.[11][88][89]

The rearmament policies leading up to World War II helped stimulate the economies of Europe in 1937–39. By 1937, unemployment in Britain had fallen to 1.5 million. The mobilization of manpower following the outbreak of war in 1939 ended unemployment.[90]

The US' entry into the war in 1941 finally eliminated the last effects from the Great Depression and brought the U.S. unemployment rate down below 10%.[91] In the U.S., massive war spending doubled economic growth rates, either masking the effects of the Depression or essentially ending the Depression. Businessmen ignored the mounting national debt and heavy new taxes, redoubling their efforts for greater output to take advantage of generous government contracts."

But what do I know? ...

FB Ali

PB,

Thank you for your views on Todd; it's nice to get different perspectives on an undoubtedly controversial thinker, but one whose views appear worth understanding.

I was also very interested in your views re Germany and the rest of Europe; they confirm the impressions that I had formed.

Patrick Bahzad

FB Ali,

With regard to Todd his book about family structures is definitely worth reading. I'm not sure it's been translated in English yet though. Todd's latest book is about the Paris attacks in January and made the headlines last week as he's arguing quite rightly in my opinion that French society is much more divided about its support for the newspaper "Charlie hebdo" than was shown by the huge marches that took place in Paris and most french cities. He's using demographic and statistical analysis to make his case, showing that a large fraction of french citizens (not just those of muslim faith) showed no interest at all in supporting the magazine or were actually hostile to its using blasphemy as a means to promote secularism and religious tolerance.
As for Germany and Europe, glad to hear we are on the same page ! I think there's a difference between short term/tactical gains and long term/ strategic victory ... Germany missed a chance to achieve a victory they never managed to reach through war. They going to fail again this time and Europe will never be German in the way it's been American for several decades.

LeaNder

"internal demographics that are catastrophic "

Well don't these internal demographics tell you a majority of Germans--e.g. me and my siblings--have chosen to not be the leading power we are constantly feared we "again" want to be by opting against procreation?

No more crosses of honor for the German mothers creating soldiers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_of_Honour_of_the_German_Mother

But joking aside:
some type of "Marshall plan" for Greece was demanded over here. Simply erasing their debts. which no doubt swallow up much of funds via interest rates. But no one had a really good answer to the question to what extend this could be considered as a future rule for others to follow.

Besides do you have the mythical or the real Marshall plan in mind? The UK, France received Marshall Plan funds, grants and loans too. Apparently they payed back about the same percentages as the Germans did.

"my take is on the contrary that Germany had a chance to become the leading power in Europe for years to come, maybe decades, but they blew it when they refused to bail out and show solidarity with countries that were really in distress (Greece, Spain, Portugal) or countries asking for a change in macro-economic policies in Europe (Italy, France, Belgium for example).
what could have been a German "Marshall Plan" for those European countries was turned down by the German government for fear of voters' opposing it. In that sense, Germany and its leaders showed a total lack of strategic vision and thinking. "

What type of "bail out" and/or Marshall Plan are you envisioning? The current Greek minister of finances claimed quite a few years ago that further credits (bail out, loans) to the Greek government meant pouring more money into a black hole. Are you suggesting that Germany alone should pour money into it so all the other European nations can lean back and watch what happens inside the black hole?

"Germany could have built an empire of "goodwill" and "benevolence", but like any country whose population medium age is 45 years (meaning there are lots of old people and very few young), it prefers keeping its savings in a bank account and not invest into a brighter future. "


Whoever had opted for your envisioned German-empire-of-goodwill and-benevolence over here would have needed to explain to the average citizen, why he needs to work 45 years to earn a full public pension while his Greek co-Europeans only needs to work 35 years among other

" Europe will never be German in the way it's been American for several decades."

Why do you think we should want Europe to be German? We are already quite fluent in danglish (German English). And many of us enjoy Italian in Italy, Spanish in Spain, Greek in Greece and French in France. At least I do. And yes, there is always English just in case. ;)

Would you want Europe to be French? (Napoleon ante portas?)

Similarly not based on much thinking more or less a Pavlovian response. ;)

Patrick Bahzad

I think you just made my case ... Germany is a country of pensioneers worrying more about the returns of their pension schemes than the future of their - not so many - kids ... An old country with old peoples worries and answers. Fine by me, on the contrary ! Glad your leaders are being that stupid to be honest.
As for the rest, I don't really care what your government does or doesn't do, now that I know they have no plan no vision and ultimately no future. I was just describing a situation from a certain angle and perspective. Your opinion is yours to have but there's a twisted logic to it that I won't comment on. Be a lage size Switzerland if you like, that's not how I see the future of my country though.

LeaNder

I wanted to make your case, Patrick, didn't you realize? I picked it up between your lines. Thus Pavlovian response.

I have to disappoint I do not worry about my pension, there is a reason for that, but I also seriously doubt this scenario:

L’Allemagne tient le continent européen, par Emmanuel Todd (3)

http://www.les-crises.fr/todd-3-l-allemagne-tient-le-continent-europeen/

Do I have to feel sorry for you the French "servant volontaire" to German power?

Are we really in the process of destroying the French industry? Seriously?

http://blogs.mediapart.fr/blog/frederick-stambach/160513/emmanuel-todd-et-lallemagne-une-analyse-problematique

And do I get matters correctly that the US empire will not only fall but should also watch out for the German threat in the process?

https://www.les-crises.fr/todd-2-les-acteurs-sont-incompetents/

Please, seriously?

Babak Makkinejad

Switzerland has the very great merit of not having been involved in a war for 400 years.

While other European and non-European states chased chimera of glory or responded to their own fear, the Swiss lived in peace and tranquility while the world has gone mad around them since the Helvetica Convention was signed.

I think many common people would have liked to live in analogous situation all over the world.

Babak Makkinejad

Rape has always been part of war - excepting a few instances.

Babak Makkinejad

You are saying this because of World War II.

Before World War I an then the NAZIs, Germany was that magical country which favorably impressed many who had visited her.

Her Slavic and non-Slavic neighbors all copied her in many respects; one wonders if Bohemia would not have become German in Culture and Civilization - if not in language - had Word War I not intervened.

For many Jews in the Osterreich as well as in Germany the gymnasium education delivered in German was the road to freedom and prosperity.

Now, of course, like the American South and Slavery, Germany is always smeared with what transpired during World War II.

It will take centuries before the whole thing is finally put to rest; in my opinion.

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