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The US EU relationship is not working

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 09:39:51 AM EST

The Times has published an article by my old friend Charles Bremner, James Harding, his Editor, and David Charter, Times Brussels correspondent including an interview the latter two conducted with with José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission. It is available behind a paywall at the Times but also freely available all over the right wing blogosphere in the US which has latched onto it as an example that Europe, too, is losing faith in Obama. Not surprisingly, it is also available in part on Fox News - without attribution. Why would they after all? Murdoch owns both Fox News and The Times.

The irony is that much of the European unhappiness comes from what would be seen (in the US) as the left, whereas the US Right rather gleefully assumes that Europeans are coming to agree with them.  This is obviously not the case on issues such as Climate Change. However the article presents most of European unhappiness with Obama as confirming the US Right's opposition to Obama.

front-paged by afew


Europe warns Obama: this relationship is not working

It has been a fractious few months for EU-US relations, culminating in a fundamental clash of ideas at the G20 summit between Europe's austerity strategy for ending the economic crisis and Mr Obama's call to maintain fiscal stimulus.

Speaking days before David Cameron visits the White House, Mr Barroso said: "The transatlantic relationship is not living up to its potential. I think we should do much more together. We have conditions like we have never had before and it would be a pity if we missed the opportunity."

Who would have thought it would be Europe calling for fiscal retrenchment and Obama calling for continued stimulus?  The Germans, too, are apparently unhappy with Obama style socialism...

Europe warns Obama: this relationship is not working

A German government official said: "If our austerity cuts lead to street demos, the protesters will be shouting out phrases they heard from Obama. How do you think that makes us feel?"

The article also includes all the usual US clichés about the EU:

Europe warns Obama: this relationship is not working

The US defended itself forcefully against claims that it had neglected Europe. "Expectations were probably so high that they could not have been met when you looked at the European response to the election," a senior official in the Administration told The Times.

The view from Washington is that communication with Europe on a range of crucial issues is difficult because the EU still lacks "a clear foreign policy apparatus".

Richard Haass, head of the Council on Foreign Relations, an influential think-tank in Washington, criticised Brussels for the appointments of Herman Van Rompuy as President of the European Council and Baroness Ashton of Upholland as High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

"Europe created these posts to speak for the collective as a whole. But from the perspective of many Americans, rather than building up someone of the stature of [the former Nato Secretary-General] Javier Solana, it looks as though Europe has retreated," he said.

----snip

Analysts said that the EU was naive to expect a sea change in US foreign policy just because George Bush had been replaced in the White House.

Hugo Brady, of the Centre for European Reform, said: "Obama was always overblown as a symbol because US foreign policy interests tend not to change. The US does not understand the need for everyone to be around the table at the EU, which they find as frustrating as a mini-UN where people want to talk about the good things they have done."

The view from the EU side seems to be more philosophical:

Europe warns Obama: this relationship is not working

A senior aide to President Sarkozy of France said: "Obama does not come from the same tradition as his predecessors. He is interested in Asia and Russia, not Europe. There is no sense of a privileged relationship. They seem to take us for granted sometimes."

----snip

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Foreign Secretary, tried to put the cooling of ties into an historical perspective. "We won the Cold War, so of course the problems of Europe cannot be as high a priority as in the past. But that's a consequence of success, not failure," he said.

Asked how he planned to reach out to Mr Obama -- who visited Europe six times in his first year in office but was said by US analysts to have nothing to show for it -- Mr Barroso said: "Of course it is a question of how the Americans are going to reach to us as well because the relationship should be perceived as mutual."

But is Barroso's apparent nebulous response part of the problem as far as the USA is concerned?  They apparently find it hard to figure out what the EU wants. Obama was previously reported to have been aghast at the number of people in the room at his various meetings in Europe -  all saying different things and with no one appearing to have a clear view of how to bring things to an actionable consensus any time soon.  Is this all about the stroking of egos, or are there substantive issues Barroso wants progress on?  A treaty on Climate Change? A global Tobin Tax? Global financial regulation? A clear plan to avoid a double dip recession? A clear timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan? A plan to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict?

If there are, The Times doesn't tell us. Instead the article is a celebration of all the usual clichés about European decision making, portrays Europe as feeling unloved but having no concrete proposals to improve cooperation, feeds the US Right's feeding frenzy for anything that sounds like a setback for Obama, and makes absolutely no contribution to helping the reader understand the substantial areas in which US EU cooperation might be improved. So what's new? Europe bought the Obama change mantra, but US foreign policy stays the same in substance, if not in style. Bush is gone. Long live Bush! The Europeans are reassuringly dithering as usual. Viva Fox News and its British subsidiary, The Times...

Display:
Europe thought Bush was the cause of transatlantic tensions and hoped Obama would be easier to work with. Bush was a symptom, not the disease and, while Obama is not destructive like Bush was, Europe still finds itself unable to collaborate with the US.

It will still take at least until the current crop of European leaders are replaced by younger ones before Europe can progress beyond Atlanticism, and that might be optimistic.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 15th, 2010 at 12:53:58 PM EST
The recent change in the UK is not reassuring in this regard.  Obama was reported as finding it difficult to take Cameron seriously when they first met.

It seems ironic that the quality of EU leadership appears to be going down just as the Lisbon Treaty was passed.  Merkel does a solo run on Financial regulation just as the US is debating an extensive bill on the subject and where a joint approach might have strengthened both Merkel's and Obama's hands.  Sarkozy appears to be imploding.  Berlusconi was always a joke.  Zapatero is destroying his own base.  Eastern/central Europe has yet to produce a leader of substance.  Europe moves right as the US moves left and both pass each other out without so much as a wave by way of constructive engagement on global financial recovery, regulation, stimulus, or mid-east peace.

Were Blair/Brown, Chirac, Schroder, Aznar et al any better?

We've had it easy laughing at the US during the Bush years.  Now perhaps we have to start crying about ourselves?  What evidence is there that there is a more capable or less antlanticist wave of European leaders on the way up? (Ireland used to pride itself as punching above its weigh in world/EU affairs.  Now we can't even punch at our much diminished weight).

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 15th, 2010 at 01:21:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama was reported as finding it difficult to take Cameron seriously when they first met.

Even facebook's face Zuckerberg didn't take Cameron seriously, calling the british government "you guys" how many times?

On another note, simply for comparisons sake, could someone please provide a list of US "relationships" which are working? Not counting the "relationship" with too big to fail.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jul 15th, 2010 at 05:22:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well apparently he just met Bibi and didn't walk out on him this time.  They even had a photo op.  Last time he left the meeting and left Bibi sitting on his won for two hours to think things over.  Is that progress in the Israeli "special relationship"?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 15th, 2010 at 06:12:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On another note, simply for comparisons sake, could someone please provide a list of US "relationships" which are working?

good diary Frank! and good point, CH.

it was squirm-inducing watching brown and berlu sucking up to obama, i am not surprised he's not very interested in europe right now. bigger fish to fry.

like many here i am so ready to de-atlanticise europe's priorities, unless and until the u.s. military industrial complex stops hegemonising the planet.

who knows how things will shake out for all the west? we should stop carrying america's water, and support the ideals obama paid such excellent lip service to while campaigning. what the us admin is most obnoxiously codependent about with europe is fobbing off GM and military adventurism in return for our fawning adulation and soldiers' lives.

enabling the empire may seem a short term winning strategy, but i think we'll rue it ere too long. many of us already do...

obama has his hands full without worrying about us, we are the least of his problems. what i hope won't stand any longer is our subservience to the bushist, new world american century mindset that has caused so much pain and destruction.

equally we should focus on smartening up here for all of our sakes, instead of always reaching out for approval from the likes of obama, who janus-like, embodies simultaneously the best and the worst of america.

and as long the us admin admires barroso over rompuy or ashton, we know we have a problem, though the latter two haven't made any serious positive waves as far as i can see yet.

if the usa can dump bolton, surely we can dump barroso to return the favour...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jul 15th, 2010 at 06:18:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe he's not interested because Europe is firmly under Uncle Sam's boot? Just start talking about a Euro-Russia partnership & watch how quickly US geo-strategic priorities will change.
by Lynch on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 01:40:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
come on, europe has stopped licking quite so enthusiastically since obama came online.

as for a russian partnership, it'd be a gaz, gaz, gaz...

hey, i know, we'll trade our deathware/gizmo/technotope/ideology for their commie markets!

now we just need to source another 7 planet earths to resource despoil...

maybe the whole rest of the planet can just say no, if they get fed up enough of being unca-sammed into oblivion.

or we're all haitians, down the road.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 05:49:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In practice there is a Euro-Russian partnership over gas and, increasingly, over a wide range of other goods and services as well.  It's just the Baltic and some other East European EU member states who are still, understandably paranoid over big brother Vladimir. Germany and Russia get on just fine.  Ask Schröder.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 05:55:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In practice there is a Euro-Russian partnership over gas and, increasingly, over a wide range of other goods and services as well.

But do the Americans realise this? They didn't realise the development of the EU from a "free-trade" zone to a confederal entity until it was too late to block it, after all. And most of the positive EU-Russia relations take the form of commercial deals (which American agit-prop may have indoctrinated them to view as 'apolitical') and takes place in funny languages like German and Russian. Meanwhile, the 51st State of the Union (complete with its state press) is busy telling everybody how Euro-Russian relations are going to Hell in a handbasket.

It wouldn't be the first time the Americans drank their own koolaid.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 06:21:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The U.S. doesn't have to keep Europe firmly under her boot, because Europe a.) supports most of the ideas that America tries to export, and b.) voluntarily crawls under the boot anyway.

E.g., Nicolas Sarkozy, Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi, etc. E.g., U.S. troops in Germany, 65 years after the war.

by asdf on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 06:53:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
addendum: i saw today that ashton went to gaza, a rare event for europols. nice...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 01:41:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 02:29:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US-China relatinoship seems to be working fine (for now). China keeps pumping billions into T bills, and US consumers keep pumping them back in exchange for "stuff" made in China. Most "disagreements" are for red-neck consumption.
by Lynch on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 01:38:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, there is this: Chinese Treasury Dump Brings Its Total Holdings To One Year Low, As "UK" Continues Exponential Accumulation Of US Bonds  Zero Hedge

Possibilities discussed include:

  1. Brits are buying USTs because they fear the pound going into the toilet.

  2. The Fed is using U.K. proxies to purchase USTs so that there will not be an embarrassing failed auction.

What I don't understand is why China is going almost exclusively for US long bonds while Japan is shifting to short bonds. Perhaps this makes sense to those who follow Forex swings.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 04:14:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because China has more of a vested interest in keeping its export markets on life support.
by Lynch on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 04:13:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously. But the question is why they are buying long-term bonds almost exclusively, rather than short-term bonds or a mix of short and long term bonds?

Of course it could be simply that the Fed can set prices for T-bills and not for T-bonds...

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 06:41:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a suggestion:

The US grows more food than is consumed domestically and China has a lot of people to feed and their per capita food production is heading south.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 12:48:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only while oil is cheap.
by njh on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 09:10:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forecasting future US agricultural production under falling oil production and Global Climate Change is impossible, too many factors and feedback loops.  If I had to guess -- and it is a guess -- I'd say after the transition period we're looking at 60-75% of current.  Domestically that implies US citizens will be eating much less meat as coarse grain production is diverted from feeding animals to feeding humans but we won't have to experience widespread food shortage.

The EU is the same.  If anything the EU is slightly ahead of the US in that the techniques and practice of horticulture are still twitching, barely.

In China, they're screwed.  They can't feed themselves now, there's no hope of increasing food production domestically, and they will go through the transition period with falling per capita food consumption.  

I expect minimal deaths from starvation in the US and EU.  I expect mega-death in China from starvation and external and internal conflict (war) stemming from food scarcity.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 11:22:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ive talked about this before - Modern agriculture is not tied to oil. It is tied to nitrogen fertilizer, which requires hydrogen and electricity to make, and since hydrogen can be produced with electricity, that means it needs electricity, full stop. And it does not even have to be american electricity, as fertilizer is traded via bulk shipping in any case.
There is no possible future where electricity becomes in short supply everywhere, so even in the most pessimistic of all possible futures, the world simply ends up buying fertilizer from places like Iceland and New Zeeland.
by Thomas on Wed Jul 21st, 2010 at 03:00:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you call "modern agriculture"?

Notrogen fertiliser is only a part of the array of products used in the "modern agriculture" I see all around me, and they are mostly composed of oil-derived fuels and petrochemical substances (pesticides). And, until the industry has been totally revamped, ammonium nitrate etc are petroleum products.

Thomas:

even in the most pessimistic of all possible futures, the world simply ends up buying fertilizer from places like Iceland and New Zeeland.

Because in your oh-so-evident future, it is sustainable to go on running agriculture the way it is (but with a differently-powered support industry)?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 21st, 2010 at 04:33:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
.. yes? modern agriculture is much less destructive of soil, and uses vastly less land per calorie yielded than any alternative, both of which is getting more true over time, not less. No-till, genetically engineered crops, soil databases linked to computerized and GPS/gallieo enabled farm machinery - all of this increases yield, reduces pesticide and nitrogen runoff (by making dosage tailored to each individual square meter of field) and it all relies on knowhow, data and electronics, not oil.  Desertification is a symptom of low tech farming, not first world practice. The green revolution was a good thing for both mankind and the planet, and it is nowhere near done.
I am not saying economic dislocations will not happen, they will, especially as the third world gets its shit together and adopts best practice and schemes like the solarpowered seawater distilling greenhouses currently being built in north africa and australia.

.. and as for the actual machinery.. even if it proves impossible to build a battery sufficiently powerful to power a tractor - well, post peak oil does not mean no oil, and what is available or synthesized is going to get allocated to critical applications like heavy machinery first, and the car loving public can putter around in electric minis and like it.

by Thomas on Wed Jul 21st, 2010 at 05:05:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:
No-till, genetically engineered crops, soil databases linked to computerized and GPS/gallieo enabled farm machinery - all of this increases yield

"No-till"

Fine, but in what way does this necessarily link with

"genetically engineered crops"?

Which currently produce lower yields than non-GM cultivars...

"computerized and GPS/gallieo enabled farm machinery"

Why do we bother with this if we're doing no-till? Just to get rid of a harvester driver or two? Just so everything sounds hi-tech like the world you imagine?

If you have the right to produce this catalogue of wonders of an imaginary future, organic, peasant-farmer agriculture has every right to present a view of the future that some qualify as "unrealistic".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 21st, 2010 at 05:19:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the "organic farming" future is deeply  horrifying and exceedingly unlikely both?
 Read back up a few posts - the context for this was the (probably correct) assertion that one of the main reasons china is focused on maintaining a strong industrial export sector is that they have to import vast amounts of food to feed the immense population Mao left china with, and they need to produce goods to have something to trade for that food. In that context, the collapse of industrialized agriculture in the west would have the direct consequence of hundreds of millions of people starving to death. I am simply saying that this is extremely unlikely to actually happen. Partially because mindboggeringly huge resources will be mobilized to prevent it at the least sign of it actually happening.  
by Thomas on Wed Jul 21st, 2010 at 08:50:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What does that have to do with GM crops, that actually reduce yields for pretty much any input variable you might care to name, and teleoperated harvesting equipment which does not increase yield for any input variable other than man-hours?

More specifically, what makes you labour under the delusion that organic farming cannot be industrial farming with comparable yields per land area to what you can get with conventional farming?

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jul 22nd, 2010 at 07:22:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A major destructive force hitting sub-Saharan African agriculture has been the dumping of subsidized grains from the US and EU. However, rising agrarian terms of trade can undo the damage, and China has clearly been hedging its bets in investing directly in Africa, using its ability to financing acquisition of Chinese product like buses for overstretched urban transport systems as its calling card.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jul 24th, 2010 at 02:31:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would the UK buy Treasuries to keep the pound from going down?  That would have the opposite effect.

I think the likelihood of a failed auction is pretty low, and even if it weren't, it isn't the huge embarrassment people think it is.  We've seen failed auctions in Britain, Germany, and many others over the past two years.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 06:29:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the idea is that the British government is supposedly filling up its war chest to defend the £ against attacks and/or managing the rate of depreciation on the theory that a controlled devaluation is preferable to a pell-mell depreciation caused by a speculative attack.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 06:35:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That has often been proffered as a major reason China became willing to hold large quantities of US paper after the Asian debt crisis. Even if, during a panic, a flight to the US$ is a flight to junk, US$ denominated assets are useful in such a situation.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 11:03:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's a question: Suppose the U.S. economy goes (further) into the dumper. But the dollar is "the" international currency. I wonder if the big holders of dollars and the big sellers of dollar-denominated goods (oil, for instance), could force a separation of the externally held dollars from the U.S. held dollars.

So maybe China uses U.S. paper to buy oil from Saudi Arabia, which uses it to buy wheat from Ukraine, say, while the greenbacks used in daily U.S. transactions are devalued in accordance with the economy... I have no idea how you would make the division, though...

by asdf on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 06:58:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barring outright hyperinflation, devaluation of the dollar shouldn't be a problem for those who use it as a unit to denominate cash flows, although some people might get squeezed if their contracts with their customers are of longer duration than their contracts with their suppliers. The people who will lose money in a devaluation are those who hold balances. Which means central banks, basically.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 10:31:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or the Saudis could directly trade oil for wheat.  

Currencies make it a damn sight easier to trade but they aren't necessary for trade.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 11:25:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But almost all of the relationships that compose the institutional framework necessary for transcontinental trade involve large numbers of relationships that make reference to currency. Re-casting those relationships in terms that obviate the need for currencies will often involve renegotiating the entire relationship. Do this to a large enough fraction (in a short enough span of time) of the relationships that make up the institutional framework necessary for trade and that entire institutional framework risks going belly-up.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 09:34:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
Even if, during a panic, a flight to the US$ is a flight to junk, US$ denominated assets are useful in such a situation.

i'd love to understand why, if you don't mind taking some time to explain...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 01:46:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... longer than you can remain solvent." - Keynes

Less flippantly, if most major market actors "know" that the US$ is "safe" then that is what they will buy during a panic.

Moreover, if everybody knows that everybody else "knows" that the US$ is "safe" then the US$ really will be safe during a panic, at least compared to everything else. That's an unstable sort of "safe," though, because any time a sufficiently serious actor decides to call the emperor on his nakedness, it stops being safe.

Oh, and then you have the fact that most transcontinental trade is denominated in US$, and it takes time to change denomination on all your trade contracts, so you want to have a war chest in order to avoid being squeezed between short-term contracts with your suppliers and long-term contracts with your customers, if the reference currency goes down (or vice versa if the reference currency goes up, but for the US$ that does not seem a serious prospect...).

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 04:30:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With Oil being denominated in $, everyone who needs oil will hedge against Oil price volatility in $ by buying ahead in $ and buying $ to do so.  - e.g. Ryanair usually hedges up to 75% of requirements at least 12-18 months in advance and thus there is a huge incentive to keep buying $ no matter what..

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 04:36:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks, it's very clear now, especially what leverage the $ being denominated as oil value metric gives.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 05:39:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks, Jake, very helpful.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 05:43:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Short answer: this will remain true so long as lots of debt is US dollar denominated. This is a legacy effect to some degree. But lots of toxic assets were created in the USA and thus the need for lots of US dollars. An alternative would be to repudiate that debt as fraudulent or require that it be demonstrated that the debt is not fraudulent before paying it.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 09:46:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
actually had a recent write-up wistfully recalling the days of Jacques Delors? I welcome that, but I don't remember them having kind words for him back in 1999.

Speaking of Delors, I noticed recently that Martine Aubry is now roughly tied with Sarkozy in at least one poll, however I haven't seen any commentary on this here at ET.

How about it? Is there a real chance that in the near future the Socialist Party will make a comeback with Aubry?

by glacierpeaks (glacierpeaks@comcast.net) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 07:00:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
longing for the efficiency (which they cannot acknowledge) of the French bureaucratic apparatus to implement neolib policies...

Which brings us back to a longstanding debate on ET about the EU institutions and their treaty-imposed increased powers: are they a bad thing because they impose by fiat nd without democratic control neolib policies from the top, or are they a good thing because they  create the capacity for EU-wide policies, which could be something else than neolib if we did not have a majority of rightwing or neolib-captured governments pushing for such policies?

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 01:00:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it expected in Europe that Obama should meet individually with each country's leader? That would be around two dozen meetings. Are European leaders planning to visit the governors of the biggest two dozen U.S. states?

Maybe a formula could be worked up to figure out how much time to spend with each given leader. Something like

[face time] = [size of latest crisis] * [population of country] * [economic rating of country]

Pakistan would probably come in pretty high on such a list, and maybe Norway, say, comes in pretty low. But maybe India also comes in low, too...

by asdf on Thu Jul 15th, 2010 at 08:36:43 PM EST
There is no such expectation.  The larger member states - UK, France, Germany have traditionally had their own bilateral relations with Washington and have never ceded their foreign policy to the EU.  The US President meets those Presidents on their merits - i.e. if the issue is big enough and they have the clout to influence outcomes - e.g. by contributing troops to the US war effort.

Other EU states also have strong bilateral ties with the US because they have strong ethnic ties to significant sections of the US electorate - e.g. Italy, Spain, Greece, Ireland etc. - but that has almost as much to do with the President's domestic US agenda rather than foreign policy per se.

The competence of the EU as a strong foreign policy actor in its own right is only emerging - witness strong divergences over Iraq etc. as recently as 5 years ago - and the Lisbon Treaty has only marginally increased EU competence and institutional focus on this.

There really is no equivalence - for the foreseeable future - between the EU and the US as a military or foreign policy actor even if there is gradually a more cohesive economic, fiscal and monetary policy determination at EU level.

US foreign policy analysts who bemoan the fact that Kissenger didn't know who to call when he wanted to talk to Europe are simply demonstrating their ignorance and arrogant distain of what Europe is about.  When Kissenger or his successors called, it was usually to demand more troops to support US imperial adventures and I'm quite glad they often didn't know how to achieve instant fealty and compliance from Europe.

Americans make great play of the checks and balances within their own Constitution and expect everyone else to accept the "reality" that the President doesn't have 60 senate votes for Climate change etc. Fair enough.  But then don't expect the EU to ride roughshod over the separation of powers between the EU Council, Parliament, and Commission and come up with instant responses to US imperatives.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 15th, 2010 at 09:21:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A senior aide to President Sarkozy of France said: "Obama does not come from the same tradition as his predecessors. He is interested in Asia and Russia, not Europe. There is no sense of a privileged relationship. They seem to take us for granted sometimes."

And yet, Obama has been to Europe 6 times in a year. (First trip: London, Strasbourg, Prague, Istanbul, Moscow, and Baghdad: Five European cities in one trip.) He hasn't been to Russia 6 times, or Asia, or South America.

by asdf on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 10:13:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy is a very needy person...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 10:22:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So are all of them...

European Tribune: Reasons for despair: this is a victory?

Gordon Brown scored a significant, morale-boosting diplomatic victory over French president Nicolas Sarkozy last night when Downing Street announced that he will be the first EU leader to meet President Barack Obama at the White House.


By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 10:26:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fairness, I think that was more about desperation for good photo ops for Brown than neediness.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 06:31:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Political rather than emotional neediness? Doe a phot-op with Obama really lead to a significant boost in the polls?  Possibly, during Obama's honeymoon "can do no wrong" phase.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 11:33:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you Frank...
Interesting.... Small correction. I didn't take part in the interview. It was done in Brussels by James Harding, our Editor, and David Charter, Brussels correspondent. I contributed a bit of French thinking....
all the best
Charles
 - I have amended the diary accordingly

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 05:38:38 AM EST
What is the gods names are ya'all moaning about.

Obama and crew will be over here a few months before the invasion of Iran, working the room, letting everyone know what will happen (unilaterally) as soon as everyone agrees (or doesn't. It doesn't matter.)

How soon until before the big election does this need to happen? I suppose there are other things that could push it forward, but not by too far. Don't want the Mission Accomplished luster to fall off. I'd say it is an April thing, or May...yeah, May of 2012.

So, expect them over here late in 2011. Is that good enough for ya?

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 06:46:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But he promised...he promised... he wouldn't be like Bush!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 06:54:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, sure, he will be sincere and have a front man or two, just like Bush, but otherwise he won't have any of the attendant props.

The lefty liberals will jump back into support for him, but he'll never get the conservatives to raise his approval rating to the mid-80's like WarBush got. The hate crowd will support our fighting men overseas, but they won't give him the Bushlovian support.

So, fear not. Even when things are going their SmartBombingBestTM®©, one mistake and he'll be hounded like a Carter with lust in his heart.

Welcome back, the abdicated governor from the state of Alaska.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 02:18:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
siegestate:
Oh, sure, he will be sincere and have a front man or two, just like Bush, but otherwise he won't have any of the attendant props.

yup, he won't destroy her madge's flowerbeds.

he won't need godwinian levels of thugsecurity like dimson did. (but he might anyway cuz those guys are hard to fire, and ratchets work that way).

hey i bet he goes pubcrawling like ole bill did.

as for brains, he leaves carter in the proverbial dust, so i doubt he will make those mistakes.

i think iran is in store for when iraq and afghanistan downsize. he doesn't need several hundred thousand ptsd cases hitting america's streets in the biggest flameout since 1929.

see ratchet comment...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 06:00:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 04:05:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is not intelligence but information ... for instance, if you get economic information from Geithner and Summers, some of the most effective available policies will not be on the table.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 06:44:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If Obama allows himself to be insulated from the opinions of the critics of Geithner and Summers, the rationale they present and the interests they serve, cannot consider that they might be compromised and wrong, cannot summon the effort to personally consider alternatives, why should he be deserving of anything but harsh judgment now and in the future? Why cannot he at least spend a few hours in deep discussion with Simon Johnson, Senior Research Staff for The Peterson Institute? I do not take comfort from the reports that Obama sleeps well at night.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 01:32:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why cannot he at least spend a few hours in deep discussion with Simon Johnson, Senior Research Staff for The Peterson Institute?

because things aren't bad enough yet? (shudder).

what i don't get is why elisabeth warren? i love the woman, she could unmask all the geithner/paulson canoodling in a few pithy paragraphs, in words the average person can understand.

in the swamp of alligators that is wall street, he sticks her alone and undefended.

not that she needs it, lol. is she the 'enemy' being clutched closer with intent to disarm? a token? or a mole that with the power of truth can rip open the shady veil. i am so rooting for her, and i think she will be the one to funnel more disparate and visionary economists into the vacuum created by the present crisis.

shock doctrine in reverse! she seems pretty unswiftboatable too...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 05:31:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking of her while composing the above comment. For all I know he has been talking to her, but to no avail. In any case he certainly has every opportunity to do so and would have to be willfully obtuse not to know what she thinks of much of what is happening.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 09:38:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can get advice from a "wide range of economists" without ever once hearing from someone who believed there was a bubble in 2006.

And indeed, being a Hedge Fund Democrat, Geithner and Summers are the policy advice from within the world view of his wing of the party.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 09:48:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So why does Obama "stay the course" even now? Guess it would not do to look at the work of those who did see a bubble in 2006 and tried to warn of it. Better to keep taking the advice of those who got us here.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 10:29:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's doing the same on Afghanistan.  I suspect he thinks he can't oppose Wall Street or the MIC directly, but has to try and transform them from with by co-opting some of their most prominent exponents.

The reality may be that the Presidency simply doesn't have the power to oppose Wall Street or the MIC, and the best he can do - he thinks - is the reform from within and play the long game.  Both wall street and the MIC can be very short term in their objectives, whereas I suspect Obama works to a longer strategic agenda.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 10:35:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He had a golden opportunity in early '09. He could have appointed someone like Simon Johnson as Sec. Treasury and Wm. K. Black as Chairman of the SEC. He could have simply blocked any additional spending of TARP money until he got major reform of the financial system. Roosevelt closed the banks until he got what he wanted. Obama didn't have to go nearly so far and could have had bi-partisan support, including Ron Paul, for such action. But, best as I can tell, that was unthinkable for Obama. That is the problem. Doing something now is much more difficult.

Had he taken steps that set the TBTFs on a path to being divided up into smaller companies and reformed the markets, he could have had the wind at his back for everything else. That is the problem with Obama: uncritical support for the existing order. He is more of an enabler than a reformer.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 12:02:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing Obama is not is a revolutionary.  He always starts with the prevailing consensus as articulated by the powers that be and seeks to reform things from there.  That may be fine in "normal" times.  But in an era of strong tectonic shifts, where existing orthodoxies have fallen over a cliff, such gradualism can actually prologue the ancien regime.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 12:56:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And what makes you think that he doesn't want to prolong the ancien regime?

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 02:11:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If by ancien regime you mean - as I do-= the post Reagon neo-con financial and chickenhawk elite - then he doesn't want to prolong it because he doesn't owe them anything - emotionally, intellectually, politically - and he tried hard to avoid being too financially dependent on them too by organising his own campaign financing org.

Now that the finance reg act has been passed, donations from that quarter have dried up anyway.  If he wants to fund his re-election, he has to look elsewhere.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 02:26:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
he tried hard to avoid the appearance of being too financially dependent on them too by organising his own campaign financing org.

His hedge fund backers were crucial early and he went to great lengths to advertise his small donor fundraising to divert attention from the continuing, larger contributions from Wall Street. I think you are buying into his PR to an extent.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 09:55:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair comment - I was aware of his larger fundraiser base as well - though not its exact sources - apart from Goldmann Sachs.  It would be interesting to know why hedge funds were early backers when Hillary was still regarded as strong favourite - perhaps she wasn't representing New York as they would have wanted.

Nevertheless Politicians stop doing the bidding of early backers all the time - perhaps as an incumbent, Obama now feels he is not as dependent on them.  He certainly won't get their support next time around - so Geithner should be worried as well.  Interesting to see whether Elizabeth Warren gets the big job

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 19th, 2010 at 04:59:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps, but we still lack any real evidence that he wants to stop doing the bidding of his backers. If regulation isn't comprehensive it won't harm the vampire squids. So why wouldn't they support him the next time?

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Mon Jul 19th, 2010 at 04:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tackling the Military Industrial Complex is something that takes substantial jujitsu ... but wouldn't Obama "tackling" Wall Street be like Heskey tackling Rooney in WC qualifying ... its generally considered poor form to tackle members of your own team.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 19th, 2010 at 12:49:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Heskey doesn't tackle
  2. He didn't have to - Rooney was ineffective anyway


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 19th, 2010 at 04:52:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just two names I saw in retirement news - one who has, and one who should on his display against real competition as opposed to lower level Euro easy beats.

It would still be considered poor form to tackle someone playing on your team. Reason (1), though, also has a strong echo with the actual case at hand. Even with Big Oil, which is all-in behind the Republican party and who profits the most heavily from the conditions that seriously hurt the Dow, he backs away and gives them space to play.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 19th, 2010 at 11:05:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
melo
as for brains, he leaves carter in the proverbial dust

Carter's problem was not lack of brains. It was rather an inconvenient personal integrity with which Obama is not afflicted. Obama sees ugly realities as force majeure which must be accommodated, as with Wall Street. Carter saw it as something which must be confronted regardless of cost, as with the infamous "sweater speech".

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 11:18:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you're right, carter had a good brain, his big flaw was his naivete, (and the fact that his message was ahead of its time).

obama's smarter...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 11:33:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"obama's smarter..."

For all the good it is doing him.


As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 11:37:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
he's fine, the nation, not so much. he's making some progress, but it's like emptying out the ocean with a thimble, cleaning out the results of decades of entrenched corruption.

as symbol of change, he's got it wired, and that's the job he's paid to do. actual change is coming, but more because of popular outrage and despite politics. it's too bad he doesn't use the executive order, before killing it, along with the filibuster.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 01:07:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have always been more optimistic than I about Obama.
I hope you turn out to be right, if it makes a difference.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 01:18:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have always been more optimistic than I about Obama.

weeell, i oscillate, that's why the Janus references.

absolute pragmatism is not pretty, it walks and quacks a lot like expediency...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 04:35:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see him as more of a mechanic - who doesn't have a particularly well equipped workshop and quite raise the capital he needs to get all the tools he needs.  He may have squandered some capital in the past - but who hasn't - and has had to learn on the job pretty fast relying on a lot of the same tools most of the time - some of which have a habit of not being quite fit for purpose.

His objective is to fix the car - or get it running some way or other - but it has been stuck in reverse for quite a while and the gearbox is shot. When you're up to your neck in engine oil is easy to forget that the original objective was to change the engine...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 04:57:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see him as having had a vision of being the best mediator ever. Unfortunately, the situation does not seem amenable to mediation and I don't see him as having any other tricks or the vision, courage and self knowledge to steer a totally new course that requires taking significant risks and sacrificing the interests of those who would then become former backers. I doubt that he can even see that these "former backers", these "sharp guys", are richly deserving of being given their just deserts.  

I don't know that he comprehends the enormity of what has been done, that the existing system cannot and will not survive as constituted or just how destructive what is to come next will be. If he did I believe he would, at minimum, be concerned for the lives his daughters will lead, even as part of the elite of the society they will inhabit. For all of his intelligence and the diversity of his background he seems amazingly culture bound and the culture to which he is bound is that of the existing financial elites. How can continuing to serve them help anything, even them? They need to be saved from their folly, which is leading us all to ruin, and he looks to them for direction?!

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 01:17:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Community organising involves a lot of mediation and I can see where you are coming from on this.  However his problem is that GOPers, wingnuts, tea partiers, (and militarists generally )see mediation as being for wimps - as a sign of weakness rather than of the moral strength it actually represents.  These guys have to be DEFEATED before they will even agree to talk in a language that meets others half way.  The question is whether Obama has the wit, will, and strenght of character to really take the battle to the enemy when the chips are down and there is no other way.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for mediation and have spent a lot of my life doing it in various ways - but there are times when mediation doesn't work: when the other guys don't want to settle because they think they can have it all their own way and see no reason to settle for the half way solutions mediation often results in.

For mediation to work, the protagonists actually have to recognise each other as having a legitimate case to argue - even if, and indeed especially if, they disagree strongly with each other.  The problem Obama faces is that the wingnuts don't realise they are really the mirror image of the commies, terrorists, gays, atheists and liberals they so fear and despise.  Their goal is to conquer, not compromise; and in that context mediation simply isn't possible.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 09:52:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At one point, I was asked about my political heroes, and one of my answers was "Neville Chamberlain."

It was partly a provocation, of course. But I did have a more substantial reason: Chamberlain actually tried (more or less) to work within international law. At almost any other point in history, he would have been a superior statesman to any of his contemporary European peers. The fact that he lived at a point in history where he really didn't have any good options should not be held unduly against him.

For all my irritation that Obama isn't handing out torches and pitchforks to the "burn Wall Street and soak the rich" crowd, I have to note that in almost any other political environment, he would have been a very good president. He's reasonably careful, he has a reasonably diverse cabinet, even if it is slanted towards "centrists," he hasn't presided over the start of any new wars, which for an American president is a major accomplishment in and of itself, his administration does a lot of good things on civil liberties, he did get a stimulus and a health care bill passed and he has even shown a little actual spine vis-a-vis Israel.

He's no FDR, of course, but I'm not sure it's reasonable to hold this against him - it's not really his fault that he lives at a time where you have to not only be as good as FDR but actually quite a bit better to accomplish something worthwhile. (FDR came to power after the stock market crash and Hoover's disastrous policies had already accomplished a levelling of the national wealth comparable to that achieved by Lenin in Russia - even if Obama had the inclination to be the next FDR, the Masters of the Universe have not been so conveniently weakened this time.)

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 10:00:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At one point, I was asked about my political heroes, and one of my answers was "Neville Chamberlain."

Heh! Back in '65, after reading E.H. Carr's The 20 Year Crisis, which analyzed events from 1919-1939 in terms of the real, (realpolitik),the ideal, (international law), and the tension between them, I wrote a very ill received paper for a course in inter-war history for which a very aged Sir John Wheeler-Bennett was the guest lecturer, in which I defended Chamberlain's attempts to deal with Hitler as being a genuine attempt to address legitimate concerns on the part of another country and of giving Hitler the benefit of the doubt. But the point of the course, which I failed to take, was to establish an equivalence between the "appeasement" of the '30s and the anti-war movement of the '60s. One of the points that came up was the famous English mid '30s resolution not to fight for King and Country, and how most who took the oath ended up fighting.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 10:46:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Commie Vietnam=Nazi Germany=Evil therefore not to fight it is weakness and moral cowardice.

Now Commie Vietnam is a tourist Mecca for young USians - and remarkably, the Vietnamese don't seem to hold agent orange and cluster bombing against visiting Americans.  How disorientating is that?

The entire Teabag movement should be offered a free holiday in Vietnam and asked to explain.  Their explanation would probably be on the lines of "the commies realised that we were right all along".

So why did you kill them by the million?

"to teach them a lesson - it shows that bombing works as an education tool".

So is that why you learnt nothing and went and repeated the mistake in Iraq/Afghanistan?

"the Iraqi's/Afghanis will learn that we were right all along as well"

So if someone wants to teach you a lesson, the only way is to bomb you?

"we have nothing to learn from these terrorists and will just use bigger bombs if we have to"

The vacuous, self inoculating logic of those who believe they have a right to use violence to  achieve their objectives...and that their greater access to weapons of mass destruction proves that they are right.

"God is might and might is right and we have might so we must be right"

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 12:37:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An interesting point I came across in A failure of a mission by Sir Nevile Henderson - ambassador to Berlin in 1937-1939 was that as the Nazi regime was an effect of conditions imposed on Germany in the Versailles treaty (which appears to be more or less generally accepted), so would the Nazi era end if Germany in a peaceful way got the borders that should have been set in Versailles, ie the language borders. This should strengthen the none-militaristic wing of the Nazi party, remove the prime motivation for war and eventually lead Germany back to a normal condition (that did not have to be democratic).

That fact that the theory failed does not show it was a bad one to try, other then from an omniscient point-of-view.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 12:54:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if the Nazi Party largely came to power because of the impact of the Versailles Treaty, that does not mean that the Nazi Party would have fallen from power if those "injustices" had been reversed.  Indeed the Nazi Party would have claimed credit for any reversal and concluded that hanging tough with the allies is the way to achieve results.  Sometimes history simply isn't reversible even when previous mistakes have been recognised and corrected.

Indeed you could even make the converse case: that the Nazi party rose to power because Versailles wasn't sufficiently draconian or enforced to keep people like the Nazis down.

I don't subscribe to either theory. WWI was an abomination against all peoples, and virtually all national elites were almost equally to blame.  Putting the blame almost entirely on the losers certainly saved the ruling elites of the victors asses and set the scene for a rematch.

But Germany could also have responded positively to that defeat in WW1 - as it did after WW2 - admittedly largely because of a much more positive US input.  And then saving the winning ruling elites asses didn't do the UK any favours whatsoever.

But the greater problem is class war and the industrialisation process which created such savage tensions.  It seems that now - after 40 years of heeding those lessons we are back on the same old road of increased inequality and class war - leading almost inevitably the wars - now almost global in scope.

Why is it that the lessons of even a world war only seem to last for a generation  or two?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 01:11:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the Nazi regime can be blamed on Versailles.

The initial nationalist impulse may have been triggered by Versailles, but without economic chaos - and class war, and funding by both German and US industrialists - the Nazis would have remained in the crank corner.

If anything, the Nazis were a creature of the Depression. If the US Depression hadn't kicked the legs out from under the German economy, it's unlikely they'd have been more significant than the Tea Baggers have been so far - if that.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 01:29:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clemenceau had to have his pound of flesh. No one can say "Who could have known?" Keynes laid out the consequences over the next 15 years almost as if he were writing history in The Economic Consequences of the Peace. But how things played out in actuality is very complicated and, I strongly suspect, the records of some of the most important elements, including the financial aspects, were destroyed or have yet to emerge. But the hyperinflation in the early '20s that destroyed most of the German middle class economically was clearly the result of Versailles and the subsequent French occupation of the Rhur, which paralyzed the ability of German industry to manufacture goods which could have given use and meaning to the Papiermark.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 04:10:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ever since I read his two books I've been struck by the very point you make here.
His description of his life in Indonesia is striking.  His utter lack of any apparent interest in, or realization of the deeper questions implied by his father's role in the Indonesian government at the time.

I don't think he is able to think outside the parameters of the "existing system", and I suspect that's why he was the favored candidate of the financial elite.

Those who claim he is a son of Alinsky deeply misunderstand both.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed Jul 21st, 2010 at 03:12:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
I see him as more of a mechanic - who doesn't have a particularly well equipped workshop and can't quite raise the capital he needs to get all the tools he needs.

no net like metaphor to try and capture the elusive butterfly...

if internet is the web into which will fly the enlightenment of humanity, weave on! (nice and sticky, please.)

back to biz... did i insert the apparently missing 'can't' correctly?

aren't the tools to 're-mantle' capitalism baked into all these discussions about smith, vebner and keynes, the history of mercantalism, the honeypots and cash cows of compound interest, the morality of banking, and the work of bloggers to decode, sterling newberry, numerian, jerome, migeru, yves, steve, paul, you and all?

what seems missing is the political will to be daniel in the den.

put another way, this david is up against a slew of goliaths with a sling full of feathers. his best bet may be to let them all continue to be (all too) slowly revealed, until the naked truth is obvious to a tipping point number of voters.

taking on the mob too directly was JFK's fatal mistake.

he's sure up to his ears in BP oil, and yes the gearbox is shot and stuck in reverse, and to get it going again on the wrong fuel would be just deja vu.

i think he has to turn the whole chassis around, and the economy will have to go really slow for that!

meanwhile the stock market needles way jammed into red, ungoverned race to meltdown. how to pour cold water on it without making it seize?

maybe like addled adolf did with the beetle, he needs to put a little tesla in every garage!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 07:10:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a weird article.  Of all the many reasons to suggest that the relationship sucks right now, this is what they choose?  If the reasons for why the relationship is not working are that (1) Obama won't buy into the suicide pact and (2) Obama isn't spending his every waking moment listening to -- apparently very whiny and needy -- European leaders, I'm really left thinking this is stupid.

And I'm guessing this isn't entirely a creation of The Times, because we've heard this kind of attitude -- mostly from the Brits, if I remember correctly -- in other, more liberal papers.

A senior aide to President Sarkozy of France said: "Obama does not come from the same tradition as his predecessors. He is interested in Asia and Russia, not Europe. There is no sense of a privileged relationship. They seem to take us for granted sometimes."

He's not your boyfriend.  And he could use a lot more focus on domestic issues.

A German government official said: "If our austerity cuts lead to street demos, the protesters will be shouting out phrases they heard from Obama. How do you think that makes us feel?"

WTF?  How is that our fault?  It isn't like Obama's actively trying to encourage protesters over there using those phrases or something.  He's not under an obligation to support Germany's policies, and, if anything, he's the one in the right here.

And who gives a flying shit about how some little pencil-necked pol feels?  If this idiot spent a little more time reading and a little less time eating up bond vigilante propaganda, there might not be the potential for street demonstrations, because he wouldn't be doing the stupid shit that'll result in protests in the first place.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 07:09:05 AM EST
I have to agree with you, and the reason I posted this diary was because it seemed so weird.  The Brits delight in portraying "Europeans" as ineffectual, needy, whiny, obsessed with taking for its own sake, having a sense of entitlment etc. - which is rich coming from the Brits!

They could have written a serious article critiquing the apparent about face of European Governments from being much more Keynesian that the US - to now being much less so. (But that wouldn't have suited the neo-con agenda).

Instead we get the hack tittle tattle I have read a hundred times before and which didn't require any new research or even interviews to compile.

Like you, I'm on Obama's side on this one.  At least he's trying to get stuff done on the domestic side.  Hopefully he will see the light on Afghanistan soon - hell - even the tea partiers are starting to get that one.

And as for Israel-Palestine, what the hell have the Clintons been doing - trying to make trouble for Obama domestically while doing nothing to rein in Likud?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 07:37:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was a little surprised by it, because my impression had been that, while they hadn't gotten much done, the Continental Europeans and Obama had got along fairly well.

The Brits have been throwing a temper tantrum ever since Obama got in office, because apparently Obama doesn't like them due to them torturing his grandfather during the Mau Mau rebellion.  I don't know what the real story is on that, but if true I'd probably hate them, too.

I wish I could share your optimistic take on his domestic efforts.  On issues where he's inclined to do the right thing, I think Obama squanders much of his opportunity focusing on the policy-making process rather than building an early lead and holding it in the political argument (think public option in health care and how the Teabaggers were allowed to launch their insane townhalls as the White House ignored the problem).

It'd be great if we had a system with grown-ups who wanted to talk policy and solve problems.  But, as we all know, we don't.

So he putzes around for months talking with senators, who inevitably write a weaker bill than he campaigned on, and then gets his ass kicked politically for another couple months, at which point he finally realizes that he's going to lose if he doesn't go out and campaign.  He does so, and he winds up with what in the end is a half-assed effort (stimulus, health care, finance reform, etc).  He almost always wins the vote in the end (I think only Johnson has a higher winning percentage in the modern era). But it's a lot like his election strategy, where he kept quiet and focused on the ground game and went quiet for months instead of doing that while also pounding on McCain, and you can't run with that strategy in actual governance.

And that's when he's on the right side.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 08:12:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed - he is a very inexperienced pol and administrator and has taken a lot of hits because of the nature of the process.  Presumably that was what Rahm was supposed to manage - but he doesn't seem to have done much of a job.

Nevertheless his stimulus, health care, and finance reform wins probably represent the single most successful first 18 months in power of any President since Johnson - which may not be saying much.  IF, and it is a big IF, he can add Climate Change and Immigration to the list prior to November he can claim to be the most successful President in his first 2 years - perhaps ever.

What does it take to get the Dem base motivated to the same extent as the GOP?  What does success look like for Dems generally?

OK its the economy, stupid, but he still has a few months for that to improve, and he can make the case that policy initiatives take years to take effect and we are still living with the aftermath of the Bush Depression.

I suspect Obama will seriously get his political ass in gear from now on - and as we have seen - he is a formidable campaigner when he gets going.

I remain a (relative) optimist.  The tea partiers have peaked too soon and have saddled the GOP with some bad candidates, sound-bites, and policies. When the campaign gets serious in October I suspect the momentum will have reversed, and while the Dems will still lose seats, I suspect the losses will not be as great as previous mid-terms after the first 2 years of a presidency.

Its no harm to alarm the Dem base as Gibbs has done.  There may have been too much self-satisfied complacency.  Are Hispanics really going to give the GOP a free ride?  Are African Americans?  Are those dependent on health care and unemployment benefit?

Employment and household debt are the two main headwinds Obama faces.  However I think he can still make the case he is working on it and needs more time.  If the BP spill has also been fixed, he can also claim a slightly better track record than Bush on Katrina.

Obama still has 50% favourability on Pollster.com.  The trend had actually turned upward after health care passed until the deepwater horizon oil spill came along.  I would expect the numbers to start going up again if the spill is fixed, the pollution is being actively cleaned up, financial regulation is passed, and Obama can avoid further hits on Immigration and climate change.

Those last two I would see as the real risks to Obama.  They may be two bridges too far in the current climate for his blue dogs and moderates in particular.  Whatever he does, he needs to do it before the summer recess. September/October is no time for difficult legislative initiatives.  After the elections, he can always amend the filibuster rule...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 08:45:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re Obama's potential re-election, remember how Nixon got re-elected. All he has to do is hang in there until next summer, by which time--if things continue as they have been--the situation in Afghanistan will be such a mess that even the Republicans want out (as has already started to be voiced). Then he starts pulling out the troops, keeping enough in there to hold off internal collapse until the 2012 election, and presto-changeo, he "got us out of Afghanistan."
by asdf on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 07:03:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not too worried about Obama's re-election prospects - at this stage.  I'm more worried about whether he will be able to do anything while in office if the GOP take back Congress this fall.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 07:46:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At this point I don't see the GOP taking control of the House.  They'd have to pick-up 40 seats and that's ridiculous.  10 seats are needed for them to gain control of the Senate and that's almost as absurd - and they've blown Florida already - which they had in the bag - and Kentucky is hanging on the ropes.

To be in power a party has to be able to cobble a coalition together.  The GOP is in the middle of a faction fight and the Tea Baggers and Conservatives are winning.  The can't ride to power based solely on that political block; they need moderates.  We're starting to see alarm in the GOP camp as evidenced by a Dana Milbank article The tea party makes trouble with a capital T.

If the GOP heads into the election running Tea Bagger candidates, using Tea Bagger rhetoric, they aren't going anywhere.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 08:28:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Assuming a steady supply of electricity, this post should remain in the archives for exhumation and comment come November.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 04:17:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Political winds can be very intermittent, and the difference with political power is that it doesn't flow regardless of wind direction.  The current direction may well presage huge GOP gains, but both ATinNM and I seem to be of the opinion that:

  1. The wind is not strong enough to achieve a GOP majority, and

  2. It may well yet change direction before November - or at least calm to the point of generating very little alternate political power...


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 04:38:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
40 seats in Congress is possible in a strong wave election.  10 in the Senate would need a Tsunami.  I see the greater likelihood of an ebbing pro Obama tide exposing Dems in vulnerable seats - mitigated (in part) by long term demographic trends...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 04:45:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Presumably that was what Rahm was supposed to manage...

I suspect that the major function of Rahm has been to make all the Likudniks feel warm and fuzzy.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 10:00:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They used to say that the Church of England was the Tory party at prayer.  Perhaps the Dems are the Likud party on vacation?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 19th, 2010 at 05:01:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sound check.

Check... 11 July 2008

BROWN: Joe, Joe Madison, do you think it's arrogant for him to do this?
JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: First of all, he's not worried about people like Joe. Secondly...
PAGLIARULO: Oh, yes, he is. I'm an American. And I have a vote. Oh, yes, he is. Oh, yes, he is.
BROWN: Go ahead, Joe.
MADISON: I didn't interrupt you.
Secondly, he was invited by the mayor of Berlin. He didn't beg or ask to come. He was invited. Thirdly, I would agree with Joe that if the German people don't want him, the German government doesn't want him to speak there, he shouldn't.

But, you know, I think Barack Obama is far more clever than you even give him for, because had this controversy never arrived, I think he would have flown to Germany, gave a speech, maybe a one-day hit on the news. Now we're going to be talking about it before he goes, while he's there, and when he comes back.

And let me add one more thing. A German newspaper had a front- page photograph of the White House with Obama's name on it, and referred to it as "Uncle Tom's Cabin." That should be insulting to all of us. But I'm saying, if in fact he goes, then he should do what German officials allow him to do, because he will be a guest.

Read more...

Check... 23 July 2008

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century - in this city of all cities - we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.

This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.

Read more...

Check. 27 July 2008

MR. BROKAW:  ...so everyone will know what you've been doing.  A week ago on Saturday you were in Kuwait visiting troops.  On Sunday you moved to Afghanistan, where you visited troops and met with President Karzai.  Monday, the epicenter of the trip, Baghdad, meeting with Prime Minister Maliki and American commanders.  Tuesday you were in Amman, Jordan, with the king of that country, King Abdullah.  And Wednesday meeting a variety of Israeli leaders and a prominent Palestinian.  Thursday you were in Berlin meeting with the German Chancellor Merkel, and you gave a speech to a huge throng at Brandenburg Gate.  Friday, in Paris, meeting with President Sarkozy of France. Saturday, in London, meeting with Tony Blair, the former prime minister, then with Gordon Brown, the current prime minister, and with David Cameron as well, who is the opposition leader in this country where there's a fair amount of political turmoil here as well.

SEN. OBAMA:  It makes me, makes me tired just listening to you read it.

MR. BROKAW:  When you get home and Michelle says to you, "Barack, what did you learn that surprised you?  And did you change your mind about anything based on this entire trip?"
SEN. OBAMA:  Well, I, I, I didn't see a huge shift in the strategic policies that I've laid out throughout this campaign.  It was clear to me that Afghanistan is the central front on terror, that the Taliban and al-Qaeda have reconstituted themselves.  They are--they have safe havens along the Afghan-Pakistan border.  Our troops are doing an outstanding job, and many coalition troops are doing an outstanding job.  But frankly, we need a, a, a more serious effort on the part of the Afghan government and President Karzai to get out of Kabul, to start the development process.  We're going to need two additional brigades in Afghanistan and we've got to work with Pakistan to get serious about these terrorist safe havens.  So that's got to be a priority.  I was pleased to see the reductions in violence in Iraq.  And there's no doubt that we have seen violence lessen, our troops are performing in an extraordinary fashion.  The Sunni awakening has helped to eliminate, if not eliminate, then greatly lessen the possibilities of al-Qaeda reconstituting itself as a big and effective force.  And the fact that Prime Minister Maliki is ready to take on more responsibility for the security of their country, I think is a positive development.

Read more...

Check. 5 April 2009

None of these challenges can be solved quickly or easily. But all of them demand that we listen to one another and work together; that we focus on our common interests, not our occasional differences; and that we reaffirm our shared values, which are stronger than any force that could drive us apart. That is the work that we must carry on. That is the work that I have come to Europe to begin.

To renew our prosperity, we need action coordinated across borders. That means investments to create new jobs. That means resisting the walls of protectionism that stand in the way of growth. That means a change in our financial system, with new rules to prevent abuse and future crisis. And we have an obligation to our common prosperity and our common humanity to extend a hand to those emerging markets and impoverished people who are suffering the most, which is why we set aside over a trillion dollars for the International Monetary Fund earlier this week.

Read more...

Check. 6 June 2009

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America's goals, and our need to work together.  Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support.  We did not go by choice; we went because of necessity. I'm aware that there's still some who would question or even justify the events of 9/11.  But let us be clear:  Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day.  The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody.  And yet al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale.  They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach.  These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Now, make no mistake:  We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan.  We see no military -- we seek no military bases there.  It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women.  It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict.  We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can.  But that is not yet the case.

And that's why we're partnering with a coalition of 46 countries.  And despite the costs involved, America's commitment will not weaken.  Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists.  They have killed in many countries.  They have killed people of different faiths -- but more than any other, they have killed Muslims.  Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam.  The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as -- it is as if he has killed all mankind.  (Applause.)  And the Holy Koran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.  (Applause.)  The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism -- it is an important part of promoting peace.

Read more...

Check. 11 July 2009

Some you know my grandfather was a cook for the British in Kenya, and though he was a respected elder in his village, his employers called him "boy" for much of his life. He was on the periphery of Kenya's liberation struggles, but he was still imprisoned briefly during repressive times. In his life, colonialism wasn't simply the creation of unnatural borders or unfair terms of trade -- it was something experienced personally, day after day, year after year.

My father grew up herding goats in a tiny village, an impossible distance away from the American universities where he would come to get an education. He came of age at a moment of extraordinary promise for Africa. The struggles of his own father's generation were giving birth to new nations, beginning right here in Ghana. (Applause.) Africans were educating and asserting themselves in new ways, and history was on the move.

But despite the progress that has been made -- and there has been considerable progress in many parts of Africa -- we also know that much of that promise has yet to be fulfilled. Countries like Kenya had a per capita economy larger than South Korea's when I was born. They have badly been outpaced. Disease and conflict have ravaged parts of the African continent.

In many places, the hope of my father's generation gave way to cynicism, even despair. Now, it's easy to point fingers and to pin the blame of these problems on others. Yes, a colonial map that made little sense helped to breed conflict. The West has often approached Africa as a patron or a source of resources rather than a partner.

Read more...

und so weiter


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 09:14:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good speeches, good engagement.  Little to show for it in the mideast, Africa or Europe.  Israel has become more racist than ever, Europe (particularly Germany) has turned in on itself and more or less told the rest of the world to get lost, and Afghanistan is shaping up as a major disaster. Obama's priorities are understandably domestic as the electoral season swings into gear.

The Times article trivialises US EU relations, highlights the whinges of bystanders, and highlights a comment by Barroso which may or may not have substance but gives no prominence to anything else he might have said on concrete proposals for enhanced US EU cooperation.

I suspect this is for the same reason the Times didn't critique "Europe's" move away from Keynesian economic policies:    It supports neo-lib economic policies and it wants to trivialise the EU as much as possible because of its Eurosceptic policies.

What Obama has or has not done is irrelevant: any chance to depict the Europeans as ineffectual or Obama as unsuccessful is a chance too good to be missed...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 09:44:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK. There's that. What I was hoping you'd notice --although I didn't consistently capture each instance because, well, I digress-- was how often he uses the words partner and partnership in terrorism and free trade.

Perhaps it is these phrases MEPs prefer not repeated.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 11:15:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Partners in Terror?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 07:54:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A swedish kind of death:
Partners in Terror?

Coalition of the Spilling?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 09:28:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.

Partners
My comment responds with --shall we say factual premises-- to another comment attempting to explain a "relationship" between members of two --EP and US-- institutional bodies and their wide-ranging policy objectives. Let us note here that "relationship" is ambiguous diction and commentary here and there scarcely bothers to interrogate the apprehension (dread; arrest; understanding) of intent and result, commercial or diplomatic, disguised by its usage; whereas "partner," being a specific type of relationship, which by definition forecloses contemplation in the reader of uncoordinated (but not incompetent) and mutually exclusive organizational goals.

Obviously I do not think the distinction is trivial, when commentators assume a duty to evaluate the extent of "European" political independence as compared to US political independence (vaunted hegemony), according to inferences drawn from statistical measures of popular opinion or idiosyncratic speeches. A rigorous examination of events would illustrate the type of "relationship" in force demonstrates simply by example: To what extent does EP legislation cooperate with US legislation and to what extent does such cooperation curtail or subordinate the agency of each state's constituents  and sovereignty of legislatures to a patent political economy of domination?

Such an enquiry is impossible if an analyst is incapable of asking the questions which might upset the apple cart of "good speeches" and rotten conspiracy theories.

Data privacy, NSA detention, and GMO trade; finance "reform" and fiscal rationalization; immigrant sanctions and surveillance; war production; and sexual discrimination: These issues represent a few, recent legislative acts that pass muster of "partnership" with the US government in marketing --distributing, advertising-- terror and free trade.

A subtext to the abundance of animated PR produced by state celebrities --notably Mr Obama's singular representations and symbolic feelings about US "interests" (legal usage) by contrast to the multilateral messaging system employed by Council members-- is the press analyst's confidence as to whether actualized policies are mutually beneficial or exclusive to either the "interests" of government agents or expressed "interests" of the general populaces for whom these agents purportedly act. The analyst's ambivalence about claiming "the right side" of The Agency Problem for the current US president is abject.

Terror and free trade
Following is the sort of remark that illustrates the disingenuous discourse one might have come to expect from Sarkozy's appointees, in particular, and MEP jingoists, generally. It is incredible. It is incredible in light of historical events. It is incredible in light of eight, long, and defensive years of surrender monkey and poodle "meme" flinging. I cannot recall an instance in US history, when a president's or Congressional majority's "interest" in local or international European affairs was not wholly motivated by financial opportunism. Not one -- Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, Truman, Ike, Nixon [WTF], Clinton. The diplomatic strategy, if it may be so-called, advanced by Mr Obama's administration to collect state "partners" hither and yon has not deviated one iota from this American "tradition."

"A senior aide to President Sarkozy of France said: 'Obama does not come from the same tradition as his predecessors. He is interested in Asia and Russia, not Europe.

Furthermore, both US and European states' "interest" in Asia --including Pacific Rim-- and eventually insurgent Russia is more than 100-years-old and reeks of the most foul odour of racism and genocide in practice. The anonymous bureaucrat continues.

There is no sense of a privileged relationship. They seem to take us for granted sometimes.

Such is the principle of opportunism: The surfeit of forethought, planning or ethics, that predicates a beneficial result of action; charitably characterized as the ability of an individual or an organization to respond, or adapt its behavior, to unexpected stressors. The EP presents no stress to US "interests" which are diverse. Whence emerges a highly sexualized, approving characterization --dare I say homophobia?-- of the "relationship" of the representatives of European peoples to the promiscuous Mandigo Swedish-like persona of the US shuttling about the free world murmuring, "Baby, you so fine."

He's not your boyfriend.  And he could use a lot more focus on domestic issues.

I will resist the temptation to analyze the paradox implied by "partner" in this context.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 03:01:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that Europe is divided into so many countries, cultures, languages, ethnic groups and even nationalisms works against engagement with a President like Obama. The USA is seen as monolithic precisely because in Europe, your leaders are representative of you the people in a much closer fashion than the American President relates to Americans.

So, when someone holds the President accountable for a host of American objectives and forces which are beyond his office, the conflation into America the monolithic is complete. But I see things such as the Big Oil, Big Pharma, the Military Industrial Complex, Big Money, as being transnational in scope. The Presidency of the USA is rather diminished given that globalist outlook. One can be a cheerleader (Bush) for these entities or one can resist them (Obama) but in the end, they still hold sway. So when the USA is written off because so many of these transnational structures dominate the world from a USA base, the attitude invariably only strengthens these entities by installing cheerleaders.

Robert Gates, by all means part of that complex, is at work hacking away at the big military industrial projects that were set in motion by Bush. Defense shields, advanced fighter planes, missile systems, etc. This constitutes resistance. Having tea with Russia and making agreements also constitutes such resistance.

In the end, the question is, how important is this resistance to the military industrial complex?

I would say it's very important.

And this is why Europeans would be better off looking at what they have in common with the interests of average Americans--as represented by leaders like Obama--than with dismissing America totally so that the elite transnational entities can fill that vacuum.

by Upstate NY on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 01:00:01 PM EST
Once Europeans find out that what they have in common with the interests of average Americans is accelerating the development of a more ecologically sustainable economy and opting out of the US-hq'd Western Military Industrial Complex ... its not like Europeans need to collaborate with average Americans to accomplish that.

Since the biggest obstacle to progress on those fronts is the rampant deficit errorism in Europe.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 01:14:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BruceMcF:
Since the biggest obstacle to progress on those fronts is the rampant deficit errorism in Europe.

The bigger issue is the shift to the Right in Europe which facilitates neo-classical economics, militarism, and a lack of social/environmental investment.  Unfortunately the greater the economic crisis - even when caused by the Right - often leads to a flight to the Right in the belief that adopting corporate friendly policies supports jobs and recovery.

We don't have quite the ideological opposition to state investment in the economy as in the US, but sadly a shift in that direction corresponds with an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen state and global institutions and regulation in cooperation with Obama.  The Times cheer leads the deterioration of US EU cooperation precisely to head off such "socialist" cooperative policies.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 01:39:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A hurdle that is well anchored is a far more substantial challenge than one that is not ... that is the base upon which deficit errorism is raised as an obstacle to a progress that will inevitably erode the standing of many vested interests.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 10:33:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is finally a post that led me ask a question: how much do current US-EU relations have to do with the spread of Reagan-Thatcher-Bush economics over the past 30 years in EU countries, and the tendency to down play social democracy or the welfare state (FDR-Johnson style liberal-socialism in the US)?

I don't think that's where Obama is coming from, even though he has reportedly done some weird things to brace old ideas about free capitalism since in office.


by shergald on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 11:34:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"how much do current US-EU relations have to do with the spread of Reagan-Thatcher-Bush economics over the past 30 years in EU countries"  (and the US)?

That is another ugly reality which Obama appears unwilling to confront.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 11:40:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From what we can tell so far over here in the US, unregulated free market Reagan-Friedman capitalism has taken us to where we are today: recession. Clinton was able to bypass this period through reasonable taxes on capital gains/dividends and was able to build a surplus, even though it never began to chip away at the national debt.

But then Bush-Cheney came on the scene with tax relief for the wealthy, a lowering of the capital gains/dividend tax to 15%, on the belief that the deficits which it caused, doesn't matter. Wealth and income inequality of course increased even more. In 2000, an NYU study showed that the top 10% of families in the US owned 85% of the stock market and 90% of all business assets. As a right wing pro-wealth free-market Republican, Bush knew what he was doing.

by shergald on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 11:59:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Chipping away at the national debt" is only appropriate during boom times. During downturns the government must spend as the private sector is usually not spending. But the real problem we need to confront is wealth disparity and underinvestment in public infrastructure. Letting the Bush tax cuts expire will, at a minimum, help to reduce rate at which disparity is increasing, if it occurs.

At present most of the money being spent by the US Government is either going to the military or to the financial sectors, both of which are black holes for wealth. Staving off financial collapse via current means only increased wealth disparity. In response to crisis the US is squandering its resources by incurring ever increasing debt for socially harmful purposes.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 01:14:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking back to FDR, who faced the same condition of high unemployment for years, it did occur to some that a CCC type program might tick a point off the current unemployment rate. At a minimum, the unemployment benefit must be extended.

by shergald on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 02:00:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clinton was able to bypass this period through reasonable taxes on capital gains/dividends and was able to build a surplus, even though it never began to chip away at the national debt.

The thousand pound gorilla in that room is the current accounts deficit, though. Because it means that the sovereign surplus during the Clinton years was essentially made up of fake money - Clinton restored the sovereign cash flow to surplus, but he did nothing to confront the structural trade deficit, which meant that the sovereign surplus could only continue as long as the private sector ran a net deficit. That is, as long as asset prices increased fast enough to cover the increased borrowing to finance the private sector's deficit spending. Which, translated from econospeak to English, means only as long as the bubble was still inflating.

Now, don't get me wrong - the phony wealth was generated in the private sector, and it was entirely appropriate of Clinton to make sure that as much of that phony wealth as possible went towards reducing the sovereign's obligations to bondholders. But to look only at the Clinton-era sovereign surpluses is to miss the real story of the US economy in the '90s. And on the underlying issue of structural import dependency and de-industrialisation, Clinton barely even slowed the trend.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 03:03:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's good jujitsu to remind people that the Democrats are both good for the stock market and for reigning in deficits, while the voodoo economists cause huge deficits and sink the stock market.
by Upstate NY on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 11:05:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a good talking point, and good talking points are important. But the real story over the last 20-30 years is the de-industrialisation and the structural current accounts deficit, and there they aren't too impressive. Better than the repubs, but that's a really low bar to clear - they could be Vlad Tepes of Wallachia and they'd still beat the repubs.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 11:35:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great comment...

it reinforces my belief that europe's lack of enthusiasm for american wars, and its slowness to respond to america's taunts that it can't defend itself are positive traits the usa is behind on, and the latter is bait to be not bit into.

let them taunt, it just makes them look like overadrenalised bullies.


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 06:14:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It all depends on how much influence the USA still has or hasn't on world affairs. If it's still really influential, then European leaders should do everything in their power to follow Obama's lead. If it has lost its force, then by all means ignore Obama.

From this side of the ocean, we're already wondering what would happen if the Republicans win the next presidential election. The current cast of GOP characters makes George W. Bush look like a good ole boy, rather than the malevolent creep he really was.

by Upstate NY on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 08:58:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarko Sez:

Obama does not come from the same tradition as his predecessors. He is interested in Asia and Russia, not Europe. There is no sense of a privileged relationship. They seem to take us for granted sometimes.

And perish the thought that Europe is being taken for granted because it is run by docile wimps and loyal Quislings who are happy to betray European interests for a photo-op at the White House.

Why pay for what you can get for free?

The fact that Barosso is an incompetent moron and that Bliar's ego tripping character assassination of the new Council chairman and the foreign affairs commissioner still lingers in the English-speaking press probably doesn't help either.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 16th, 2010 at 06:14:33 PM EST
This connects with my thinking when Brown was tripping over himself to get photos with Obama back in early-2009.  So we have a bunch of leaders actually competing with each other for this guy's attention in hopes of looking cool to their own voters, and now they're angry because he doesn't take them seriously?

It looks pathetic from afar.  Imagine what it looks like to the actual guy.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 06:44:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Drew J Jones:
It looks pathetic from afar.  Imagine what it looks like to the actual guy.

yup. buncha little kids, clamoring for charisma....

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 01:58:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU's relationship with US not living up to potential - Barroso - The Irish Times - Fri, Jul 16, 2010
While Mr Barroso called for deeper economic ties with the US, his remarks were interpreted as a reflection of EU frustration at perceived US ambivalence towards Europe.

Mr Obama delivered an apparent snub in February when he unilaterally cancelled a summit that had been tentatively scheduled to take place in Madrid in May. Although EU leaders downplayed their disappointment at the cancellation and the White House denied any snub, the move was seen in Brussels as a sign of US displeasure with the union's policies on the environment and other issues.

At the time, high-level European officials linked Mr Obama's decision to US frustration with Europe on questions as disparate as Afghanistan, other security matters and trade. They suggested the White House was unhappy that EU leaders pushed hard for a deeper climate deal at Copenhagen in December than Mr Obama would be able to concede in light of US political pressures. In the event, no Europeans were present when the US, China, Brazil, India and South America reached a modest accord.

Efforts are now under way to fix a date for an alternative summit, possibly in Washington some time in the autumn, but no definitive arrangement has been made.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 11:50:47 AM EST
The right against the left, the centre against the far right, Europe and the USA not getting on...It's all the same game run by the same people...Whichever way it seems, the truth is, it's against us, humanity, mankind,with so much lies, deceit and contradiction, eventually we will become so worn down that we will accept that white is black and that bad is good for us.
Oh it's Bush, or Obama, or Blair, look behind the smokescreen. Remember we are being programmed to believe our thoughts are our own, however if you look at the many secret Government Black Ops you'll realise it's not all as it seems.
by comporta on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 04:28:06 AM EST
i wouldn't exactly call it an example of a good working relationship, but...

The US decided to give the Haudenausaunee lacrosse players trying to travel on the nation's passports a one-time pass. UK, which previously had said they were worried about the team getting back into the US, refused to accept the US one-time waiver.

Despite the fact that the 'skins have never mandated Burkas for their players.

Elsewhere, the US-Honduras Junta relationship continues to be a paragon of virtue, and shows that both Europe and the 'Stans still have a chance to play the game right, if they get their sucking noises right.

Just not Lacrosse.  Jeez, we sided with the Brits against the colonists in that little dust-up some while ago, and what do we get in return? Not counting that the forced relocation to Canada didn't have some positive effects.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 04:28:07 AM EST
European Tribune - US Foreign policy: Coke-Republicans vs Pepsi-Democrats?
While I reasonably (optimistically?) trust the Democrats for restoring democracy and civil liberties, implementing (slightly) more responsible socio-economic policies and promoting environmental awareness within the United States, I still wonder if they will bring any change to the United States foreign policy doctrine. So far, I have little hope.


"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Mon Jul 19th, 2010 at 11:54:49 AM EST
I wasn't here three years ago!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 19th, 2010 at 12:05:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not an excuse... ;-)

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Tue Jul 20th, 2010 at 07:04:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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