Posts Tagged Europe
Last night, as I was turning-off my computer, I noticed that one of my visitors had read the following post, from the eve of the 70th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. That Landing turned the tide in World War II. Afterward, the Allies, on both sides of the Atlantic, worked so hard to create an everlasting Alliance, which has promoted Peace through Economic Cooperation ever since.
I wish that Donald Trump, and like-minded demagogues, across the Atlantic, would visit Normandy, sit on that bench (mentioned in the poetic Reuters article) and reflect on what might have been–if the Allies had lost that War!
Many of the Western Leaders will gather at Normandy, France this Friday to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Landings, by American, British and Canadian Forces, on June 6, 1944. Those Landings–at a considerable loss of Young Lives–turned the tide in World War II. The Survivors from that Fateful Day–at least those who can still travel–will be there, as well. Since they are now in their 90s, however, this will probably be their last chance to commemorate that Day–and honor their fallen comrades.
The linked article, by Alexandria Sage, from Reuters, provides a touching description of what goes on at the several Cemeteries (American, British and Canadian), day-in, and day-out. Although this article is specific to the American Cemetery, the same care and devotion is given the burial places of the other Allied Heroes, as well. Be sure to read this most touching, poetic story: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/30/us-d-day-cemetery-idUSKBN0EA1CH20140530,
As I read Ms. Sage’s article, it makes me think of those splendid words from President Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg, Pa., some eighty years before, when he said: “…The World will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but can never forget what they did here…” The story of the successive generations of French who have cared for the Gravesides is quite enthralling, and reflects the love and devotion which they provide.
Donald: Do you remember when, following the horrendous attacks in Paris, fourteen months ago, President Francois Holland advised the French to go about their normal business? And, even during the Darkest Hours of World War II, before America joined in, Prime Minister Winston Churchill similarly warned the British People: “(to) Never give in. Never, ever give in…”
Over the past several years, there have been a number of terrorist attacks, literally, in every corner of the world. Afterward, in every single instance, the People have refused to cower in fear, and they have chosen to live their lives—as free, and caring, people do. Think, Donald, aren’t we supposed to be the “Land of the Free…?”
Antoine Leiris, perhaps responded best, in Le Monde, in an open Letter to the Terrorists. He addressed them directly, and told them about the loss of his wife, “The Love of my Life”.
Madam Muyal-Leiris was one of 129 people, who were needlessly murdered, at The Bataclan Nightclub, on November 13, 2015. Mon. Leiris goes on to advise them that he will not teach his 17 month-old son, Melvil, to hate them. That Letter is quoted from Le Monde, as follows:
“On Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won’t have my hatred.
I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know – you are dead souls. If this God for which you kill indiscriminately made us in his own image, every bullet in the body of my wife will have been a wound in his heart.
So no, I don’t give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.
You want me to be afraid, to view my fellow countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You have lost.
I saw her this morning. Finally, after many nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago.
Of course I’m devastated with grief, I admit this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will accompany us every day and that we will find ourselves in this paradise of free souls to which you’ll never have access.
We are two, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.
I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free.”
Donald, how can you possibly “Make America Great Again”, by pulling-in the Welcome Mat over which, both your forebears and mine stepped? When you close the borders, even for one moment, you are giving-in to hatred, intolerance and cruelty. And furthermore, that Ban will merely act as a recruiting tool for the terrorists, and just “Make America their Number One Target!”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel appears resigned to the fact that the sole Leadership of Europe is being thrust upon her. In more normal times, the German Chancellor would share that role with the President of France, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of the United States. So much has changed, however, during the past six months.
Following the British Brexit vote in late June, Prime Minister Theresa May has taken the reins of Great Britain, as it prepares to exit the European Union. It will, however, continue on as the most important European military force in NATO. In Paris, it seems obvious that Francois Hollande will soon be ousted as the President of France. And of course, the Election Victory of Donald Trump, in the United States—with his uncertain commitment to the Atlantic Alliance, and his growing fondness for Russian President Vladimir Putin—have left Merkel as the only experienced Head of State, in both the E. U. and NATO!
With eleven years of leading Europe’s largest nation, as well as the dominant economy, Mrs. Merkel is generally unflappable, decisive and able to quickly grasp complex issues. But, her aides now believe that she has recently been showing signs of stress and anxiety, ever since the American Election on November 8. An interesting article, from popular German periodical “Spiegel”, is linked as follows: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/donald-trump-angela-merkel-anticipates-frosty-relations-with-u-s-a-1128442.html. Be sure to click on the second part, at the bottom!
While watching a video of Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania, as part of his “Victory Tour”, she was flabbergasted that he: claimed a landslide victory, when there was none; blasted the Press for reporting the Truth, as it should; and the audacity to suggest that he had matured as a statesman, even when he hasn’t. Chancellor Merkel recommended that the entire National Executive Committee of the Christian Democratic Union, her party, watch the entire hour-long video of that address.
Mrs. Merkel quoted one particular remark in her recommendation, something that truly caught her attention. She cited it verbatim: “There is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, a global flag. We salute one flag, and that is the American flag.” Germany has been trying to make amends for what another demagogue, Adolf Hitler, did in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Never again!
Part of Angela Merkel’s anxiety is that most people, perhaps even his closest associates, don’t have any idea of what Trump’s intentions are, or what he might actually do. When various representatives of the German Foreign Ministry have contacted Trump confidantes, such as Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, or Secretary Henry Kissinger, they just couldn’t fill-in the blanks either!
The only positive note in Germany’s confusion is the high praise that every General who knows Retired General John Mathis, from Afghanistan or NATO Headquarters, in Brussels, has for Donald trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense. They described General Mathis as a man who is not easily intimidated, and who is a champion of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance. They also believe that he will make that clear to Trump.
When it comes to Mr. Trump’s appointee for National Security Advisor, Retired General Michael Flynn, however, the German Officers unanimously hold him in contempt. One even suggested that Flynn seemed to have given very little thought to killing Afghan civilians, in Kabul, as so-called “collateral damage”. The Germans are quite concerned about Flynn coordinating National Security Policy for the President, which they believe will not be overly friendly toward the trans-Atlantic alliance.
There might be one other serious problem, just waiting to happen—a potential nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Consider the facts:
1. Donald Trump has vowed to repudiate the Nuclear Agreement with Iran. Approximately three years ago, in an address to the U. N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Iran was just two-or-three months away from building a nuclear bomb. Once formal negotiations, over the Nuclear Arms Agreement, began in June of 2014, however, Iran closed its labs and sent almost all of the centrifuges and plutonium out of the country. So, here we are today, and without a Nuclear-Armed Iran!
2. Early in 2016, Donald Trump suggested that he would help Japan and Saudi Arabia build a nuclear bomb. Does that really mean “build”, or perhaps just sell or give one to the Saudis?
3. Israel has already had a nuclear arsenal—not just one bomb, or two—for several decades!
Consider that, if the United States pulls back—away from Europe, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and let’s not forget Latin America—wouldn’t that leave us embracing the same Protectionist-Isolationist Policies, which led to the great Depression and World War II? No one really knows what “Make America Great Again” is really supposed to mean. Perhaps, not even Donald Trump!
This is why Germany is concerned. Just think back to Trump’s remark, in Pennsylvania: “There is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, a global flag. We salute one flag, and that is the American flag.” Like Germany, the whole world should definitely be concerned. Scared even!
THERE SHOULD BE A TRANS-PACIFIC SECURITY AND DEFENSE ORGANIZATION, PATTERNED ON NATO, BUT MODIFIED FOR THE REGION!
During World War II, the Axis Powers—Japan and Nazi Germany—rolled-over their neighbors in Asia and Europe, respectively. At first, America did not join the War, due to its Isolationist Policies. Afterward, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed—including Europe and North America—with a stated goal to: “…safeguard the freedom and security of the member nations, through political and military means.”
China and Russia—the two current powers in their respective regions—have each stepped-up their aggressive behavior against their neighbors. The Asia-Pacific Region does not have an equivalent security treaty, similar to NATO. At the same time, with the splintering of the European Union, and the uncertainty over what a Trump Presidency might bring, the Atlantic Alliance needs to be re-invigorated, as it is showing signs of diminishing strength.
Neither of the two Socialist Leaders—Xi Jinping, of China, or Vladimir Putin, of Russia—are particularly friendly toward one another. But given their common political philosophy, each seems to believer in the old military strategy: Divide and Conquer! That’s why both nations are either befriending or intimidating their neighbors, one-by-one, as each pursues it particular agenda.
Let’s look at NATO first. Once the United Kingdom signaled its intention to leave the European Union last June, heads began to turn, questioning which nation(s) would be next? And although the E. U. is primarily a trade union, its potentially diminishing membership might cause some–including Russia–to question Europe’s cohesiveness.
The Southeast Asian Treaty Organization was formed in the mid-1950s; however, it lacked wide regional participation, and it accomplished very little. And so, SEATO was disbanded in 1976. There still needs to be some form of security organization, however, in the Pacific Region. And similar to NATO, Canada and the U. S. should be included.
It’s still too early to consider how a Donald Trump Administration might change the U. S. participation in the various international organizations—UN, WHO, IMF, World Bank, NATO, etc. Hopefully, America will continue to participate, and to contribute according to our level of ability. Since the Republican Party seems to favor International Trade, such as the TPP: hopefully, they will convince Donald Trump to remain in NATO, and to help establish a counterpart organization in the Pacific.
NOTE: The linked article, from “Foreign Policy”, by James Stavridis, is provided because it makes a good case for our continued support for NATO. Admiral Stavridis is the Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and had served as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander. The article is linked as follows: http://fletcher.tufts.edu/News-and-Media/2016/11/10/Dean-Stavridis-Foreign-Policy-Audit-NATO.
THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE EUROPEAN UNION APPEAR TO BE LETTING THEIR EGOS INTERFERE WITH EACH OF THEIR GOALS, AND SOLVING THE COMMON PROBLEM!
The UK’s Brexit has often been described as a divorce, and it surely has gotten to that point. The differences, between the UK and EU, still appear reconcilable, if only they would speak homestly to each other. Great Britain voted to leave the Union of some 28 member nations, with which it does 50% of its foreign trade. And the EU appears miffed that any member, especially one of its most important ones, would have the audacity to leave. But, UK is not the only nation considering a Brexit–however, there would be different letters in front of the various Exit signs, depending upon spelling of each name (i.e. FR or IT).
Unfortunately, the EU operates somewhat like a country club where members go to socialize, rather than to discuss their common problems. And, the European Commission, which represents the Leadership, doesn’t seem interested in assessing the growing problems within the overall EU membership. Have they tried to determine whether there might be similarities, between why the UK voted to leave and the nationalistic anti-Europe movements in other member nations?
Since the Brexit, the British Pound Sterling has dropped in value by 11% against the Euro, and 15% against the US Dollar. Apparently, the ForEx market seems less confident in an independent United Kingdom. And even though UK won’t finalize the divorce for a couple of years, the price of imported food in the supermarkets, in Pounds, has already surged. Do the other nations wish to attempt such a costly exit from the Union?
Over the years, the EU has become much more than just a trade union; but, that’s where the entanglements might make separation with other countries—especially those who share the common currency—even more foreboding. Joint currency agreements could become a nightmare to unwind, especially if more than one Euro participant leaves. And over time, as more and more EU and Eurozone members depart, the loss of critical mass would reduce the reason for membership altogether.
At this point, all concerned parties need to set real time aside, roll-up their proverbial sleeves and re-organize the Union, Currently, it seems like the large cargo truck, which has grown and been modified over the years; but, it still rests on the chassis of a VW bug. Originally, the EU took just a handshake to form, among a few close friends; but, in its current status, as the priorities of the growing membership have changed, it has become a nightmare to exit—and unwise to do so!
Much of the political rhetoric spewed against Islamic State currently seems mostly based on the racist anti-Muslim agenda of certain politicians. The strategic planners in our Defense Department place ISIS toward the bottom of our potential National Security risks. Russia and China, by far, are at the very top of the Pentagon’s List of Risks.
Surely, terrorism will always be a risk in any peaceful country. It always has been, and always will! An advantage that we, in America, have is that our anti-terrorism activities are coordinated through one governmental entity, the FBI, as compared to 30 national defense entities across Europe. Also, the Muslim Community here is somewhat better assimilated. Again, terrorist attacks, by groups such as ISIS, are at the bottom of our Defense Department list of priorities.
The planning for Future Wars is coordinated by Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bob Work. The so-called “Third Offset Strategy”, is fully-integrated with the knowledge and cooperation of our allies. The First Offset (or Advantage) Strategy was initiated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in the 1950s, and it used nuclear power to compensate for the Soviet Union’s manpower advantage. At the height of the Cold War (1970s and 80s), the Second Offset Strategy emphasized: long-range, precision-guided weapons: stealth aircraft; and new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
Currently, as our list of potential adversaries has increased, the Third Offset Strategy has classified our anticipated sources of danger as follows: Russia and China are the very highest priority; then Iran (an exporter of terrorism) and North Korea (only because Kim Jong-Un is unstable and has primitive nuclear weapons); and various rogue states and non-government organizations, such as ISIS, are at the bottom. Although they all pose dangers to America and our allies, it always are makes sense to prioritize risks.
Over the past fifteen years, as the U. S. military was distracted, fighting two wars, and depleting its Defense Budget, Russia and China were able to narrow the gap with our technological superiority. Both have grown their budgets substantially, increased their technology development programs, and they were able to observe both what our military did well, and notice its weaknesses. Also, their cyber-intel warriors were able to hack into our computers, and steal technology—saving themselves time and money.
The T-O Strategy will include more coordination with our NATO Allies, as well as encourage them to increase their own defense budgets to the agreed-upon two percent of their respective GDPs. In the future, research will be mostly carried-out in a combination of academic and commercial labs, rather than in government facilities. Future weapon development will be developed and funded similar to how Boeing and SpaceX have taken on the mission of re-supplying the International Space Station with the rocket systems, which they funded and developed.
Besides traditional battlefields, look for: greater use of miniature air, land and sea-based drones; continued stealth technology; ships with lower manpower requirements; advanced manufacturing, to include robotics and 3-D systems; and guided bomb and missile systems. Future wars will also make greater use of cyber-technology, not only in hacking to gain intelligence, but in jamming, providing false intelligence or even, planting viruses to incapacitate enemy systems. As in our daily lives, the advantages of digital technology can harm us when they become inoperable or malfunction.
Traditionally, the U. S. has had the unquestioned quickest and most comprehensive system of technology management, from development to useful application. That requires: a combination of government-funding, as necessary; a rational regulatory environment; and the coordination of academia and corporate management. It seems like Academia and Industry will be ready to go; but, the question is: Will Congress?
It has been 50 years since that first episode of the original Star Trek, “The Man Trap”, was first aired on NBC-TV, in September of 1966. The show was subsequently cancelled in 1969; however, it’s popularity only grew in syndication. Over the years, its loyal fan-base—Trekkies—never waned. And, the original cheesy version eventually gave way to several, more modern TV spin-offs, movies, board and video games, books, etc.
My young son, Andrew, told me as we watched it together, many, many, MANY times, in the 1980s, that the secret attraction was that it was based on actual science. Real science fiction! Sure, it used poetic license to enable the crew to walk on planets without helmets and restrictive suits. But, without that accommodation, the storyline would surely not have been effective.
Besides science, Star Trek addressed a myriad of other topics, which caused its viewers—the many loyal “Trekkies”—to actually think. Consider: Captain Kirk dealing with a veritable ”United Planets” of a crew, which included non-human members from other planets; the Save-the-Whales theme in one of the full-length movies; saving the life of a maniacal killer; and political/philosophical considerations regarding travel between time periods, such as the episode when Kirk and Spock visited a Nazi-controlled like planet, similar to America in the late 1940s.
The partnership between the Star Trek franchise and NASA (our Space Agency) is legendary among fans and agency employees alike. In fact, many of the scientists, and perhaps some astronauts, have said that the show was responsible for developing their interest in science, at an early age. Maybe they watch it today on the International Space Station!
There are a number of devices today, versions of which the average person first saw on Star Trek. For instance: the “Communicator”, that each of the crew wore, is a version of a smart phone; Captain Jean Luc Picard had a device similar to a computer pad in his ready room; the medical crew carried Tri-corders, a version of which is used today by some physicians, providing a patients’ vital signs; and 3-D printers which have been used like Replicators. Some other items are, no doubt. still in the works.
The show opens with a voice-over, spoken by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner): “Space, the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no (wo)man has gone before.” To me, this establishes a real curiosity for the viewers’ own adventure, which surely will follow.
Now, my dilemma begins. I know how important Star Trek had been in awakening our son Andrew’s academic interests, not only in science, but in other subjects, as well. It also established a curiosity, his willingness to question what this all meant. Not just the What, but the How, Why and potential Final Outcome! How do I fight the urge to encourage my three and a half-year old grandson, Henry, to eventually become a Trekkie?
LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!