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Trump's (and Putin's) Plan to Dissolve the EU and NATO. - TPM - Josh Marshall
Most people in this country, certainly most members of the political class and especially its expression in Washington, don't realize what Donald Trump is trying to do in Europe and Russia. Back in December I explained that Trump has a plan to break up the European Union. Trump and his key advisor Steve Bannon (former Breitbart chief) believe they can promise an advantageous trade agreement with the United Kingdom, thus strengthening the UK's position in its negotiations over exiting the EU. With such a deal in place with the UK, they believe they can slice apart the EU by offering the same model deal to individual EU states.
Trump and Bannon are extremely hostile to Merkel and eager to see her lose. But what is increasingly clear is that Trump will make the break up of the EU a central administration policy and appears to want the same for NATO.

My own view is that Trump and Bannon greatly overestimate America's relative economic power in the world. Their view appears to be that no European country will feel it is able to be locked out of trade with a US-UK trade pact. An America eager to break up the EU seems more likely to inject new life into the union. However that may be, Trump and Bannon clearly want to create a nativist world order based on the US, Russia and states that want to align with them. The EU and NATO are only obstacles to that goal.

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Jan 16th, 2017 at 08:51:57 PM EST
The US could certainly offer the UK a sweet deal, but didn't he campaign against free trade deals? Anything of use to the UK will go down like cold sick in the rust belt.

All foreign policy is disguised domestic policy, or at least it used to be. Is Trump really going to sacrifice  his re-election in 2020 to boost Putin? I mean, maybe Trump doesn't care for 2020 that much, after all, it could be a case of "President? Bin there, done that?". But Trump is too much of a narcissist to give it up that readily.

But then again, Trump just talks shit all the time anyway, it's not like it's a real policy commitment

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 16th, 2017 at 09:10:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trump (and Bannon) seem to be following a classic divide and conquer policy: seeing Germany and the EU as their major rival - and ideological antagonist given its (relatively) socialistic social market tendencies - they make common cause with the EU's primary enemies, Farage, May and Putin, and seek to divide it by offering sweet deals to EU member states looking to find its weakest link.  

If Ireland is big enough to be on their map, it would be an obvious target, given its close cultural links to the US, and dependency on US FDI. Farage has openly touted Irexit as next on the list, in a couple of years, when Ireland sees the success the UK is going to make out of Brexit. Perhaps a United Ireland can be offered as a sweetener...

And it' not as if there aren't voices in Ireland eager to take the bait, thinking we can play off the EU against the US.  But this stuff is way above our league.  We have an unprecedentedly weak minority government which could be blown away by the slightest storm and N. Ireland is already showing renewed signs of instability with the collapse of the devolved government in the province.

The big issue here is whether Merkel's Germany is strong enough to provide sufficient leadership to ensure the stability of the EU.  Fighting Trump and Putin, even if for only 4 years, is not going to be easy, and fixing the Euro and the EU is not going to come cheap.  But first she must deal with her own far right in the German elections and then see off the multiple threats posed by Brexit. Merkel is being forced to become a major world leader late in her career and possibly against her will.  This could become an epic fail, or it could be a major triumph.  The stakes are the survival of the EU.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 17th, 2017 at 01:10:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or perhaps they think that no sweeteners would be needed, because after hard Brexit and a hard border Ireland will have to regain tariff-free access to the UK market by leaving the EU as well and joining the UK in the North Atlantic Farage Trump Agreement...
by Gag Halfrunt on Tue Jan 17th, 2017 at 10:45:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit speech: Portillo says hard Border with North unlikely
As Theresa May prepares to outline Britain's plan for exiting the EU, former MP and deputy leader of the Conservative Party Michael Portillo says he does not anticipate a restoration of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

He told Newstalk Breakfast he believes the border will be outside Northern Ireland. People and goods will continue to move freely between North and South and Great Britain will impose controls between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, he said.

"It is essential that there will be no border of the old sort. We have to ensure that the benefits from the Good Friday Agreement and the new political reality survive."


A hard N.Ireland Republic border simply ain't going to happen - not that Portillo is a major player any more - but he still articulates mainstream Tory thinking.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 17th, 2017 at 11:59:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And how does an effective UK/NI border go down with the DUP?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Jan 17th, 2017 at 07:10:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
probably not well, but they are an irrelevancy in terms of the larger picture.  Plus there are precedents with customs checks at sea and airports from/to N. Ireland/Britain up to the 1950's, and currently with US immigration staffing pre-clearance sections at Irish airports. Common Travel area
The CTA [Common Travel Area] was suspended on the outbreak of war in 1939, and travel restrictions were introduced between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland.[11] This meant that travel restrictions even applied to people travelling within the UK if they were travelling from Northern Ireland to elsewhere in the UK.
1952 agreement

After the war, the Irish re-instated their previous provisions allowing free movement[12] but the British declined to do so pending the agreement of a "similar immigration policy"[13] in both countries. Consequently, the British maintained immigration controls between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain until 1952, to the consternation of Northern Ireland's Unionist population.[14]

I'm not sure how customs controls would be applied in the same way as I'm sure the EU would want some involvement to ensure correct tariffs were applied and the UK might object to them operating on UK soil. (They could always staff the customs posts with extra-terrestrials...)

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 17th, 2017 at 08:23:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's some suggestion that any customs would inevitably be on the UK Northern Ireland Border rather than between the two Ireland states.

internal passports for the UK shouldn't be introduced just to pander to the bigots in UKIP and the tabloid press

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jan 18th, 2017 at 04:13:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People seem to confuse the Free Travel Area and the Customs Union. May made lots of reference to avoid a hard border within Ireland but that seems to refer mainly to people travelling freely on the Island.  How will EU/UK customs duties be administered - on the Border or at air/sea ports?  I've seen no discussion of that.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 18th, 2017 at 11:56:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not seeing the gross problem here at all. As I recall, in the olden days it worked like this:

  • Non-commercial vehicles could cross the border at lots of places subject to security checks. No customs check normally. I'd hope the security checks won't become necessary, though there are no guarantees.

  • Commercial vehicles crossed at approved crossing with customs posts. I assume that this could be reinstated together with electronic pre-filing stuff to minimise the hassle.

I'm assuming visa free travel between EU and UK, with bilateral right-to-work between UK and IE. The right to work in UK for EU citizens is something they'll have to deal with internally.

The border problem then comes down to difficult details: what happens to EU citizens who have been banned from the UK for immigration law breaches, for instance?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 18th, 2017 at 12:27:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm guessing something similar: passport checks at air/sea ports to weed out illegal immigrants and customs checks at air/sea ports with electronic documentation (goods passports) and perhaps random checks of commercial vehicles at or near border. Cue lots of smuggling by private cars and trailers but perhaps not on a sufficient scale to worry the EU in the grand scheme of things pending "a more permanent arrangement..."

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 18th, 2017 at 12:37:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
https://twitter.com/APHClarkson/status/821822086226333699

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 12:13:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 12:45:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
https://twitter.com/APHClarkson/status/821822086226333699 This time with less laziness on my part

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 09:54:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Our User Guide provides some handy instructions to embed a tweet. Works well for me.
by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 07:51:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit speech: May commits to `practical solution' for Irish border
UK prime minister Theresa May has committed to maintaining the common travel area with the Republic. Speaking on Tuesday about the objectives of the Brexit programme, Ms May said the UK government would "make it a priority to deliver a practical solution" as quickly as possible to the question of the land border with the Irish State.

"Nobody wants to return to the borders of the past," said the prime minister. "The family ties and bonds of affection that unite our two countries mean that there will always be a special relationship between us," she said, adding that maintaining the common travel area with Ireland would be "an important part of the talks".



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 17th, 2017 at 12:25:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eh, Merkel has been a major world leader for more than a decade. That is one of the main reasons the EU is now dying. The xenophobe nationalists that now serve the role of antagonist in official accounts grew on the anti Greek hate campaign run by the conservative establishment to prop up her policies.
And I'd say the Trump people view the EU as an irrelevancy more than an opponent. If they really go ahead with their attack on the current world trade system then the obvious opponent is China. And Germany to a lesser extent. If you go with non crazy.
by generic on Tue Jan 17th, 2017 at 11:06:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would argue the reverse: that Merkel hasn't been a major global leader up until now precisely because she hasn't taken up the burdens of responsibility to lead the EU and Eurozone which have fallen on her unwilling shoulders.  Her one major outlier decision - to take in a million refugees - threatens to backfire politically - while the rest of her reign has been to follow the path of least resistance all the while eliminating potential rivals within her own party.  Now the challenges are of an altogether greater scale - Trump threats to NATO and German exports, Brexit threat to EU, Le Pen and other eurosceptics threat to the internal stability of the EU.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 17th, 2017 at 12:05:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Talking about responsibility that falls on leaders is well and good as rhetoric to maybe once get them to do the right thing. It is also important for apportioning blame. But I don't think it is very useful if you want to describe actual behavior. Did Angela Merkel and her government exercise the power that dysfunctional institutions and the collapse of old certainties afforded them? I'd argue that they did. They enforced an ideological vision that is indistinguishable from a smash and grab operation. Everywhere they went for narrow short term benefits in term of politics, economics and petty moralizing. Which admittedly is no strong difference to other major world leaders.
On reflexion I'm not sure how helpful this contribution is but everything that smacks like "If the czar only knew ..." sentiment is a bit of a red flag for me.
by generic on Wed Jan 18th, 2017 at 12:26:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would read Merkel's actions as those of a German real politician who challenged German orthodoxies only when she had to.  Even her decision to allow in a million refugees could be read in the context of a declining German population and work force.  Greece was dispensable (and an opportunity for moralising) and Brexit is an opportunity to make the EU more cohesive under German domination if not total control.  

The problem arises if Le Pen or ongoing Italian crises threaten the future of the Eurozone/EU - both institutions which have benefited Germany more than anyone. She could (somewhat uncharacteristically) take the initiative and campaign on the basis of a strong Germany/EU post Brexit with enhanced security cooperation, economic integration and social cohesion taking advantage of an improving economic situation and anti-Trump/Brexit sentiment especially if Macron wins or Le Pen doesn't.

I'm not close enough to German politics to assess the likely strategies and outcomes.  Anyone up for a diary on the German elections?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 18th, 2017 at 12:52:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fiscal integration ain't coming even if the arms were to fall off due to rotting. There is no political mandate anywhere for it. Money talks louder than words, the crises will be bandaged over but not solved. The best we can hope for is a true banking union. Merkel is a minimal movement politician, certainly not one to take preemptive action. Her modus is to let things stand until they're well cooked (or decomposed) and then jump in.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 07:22:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Trump people view the EU as an irrelevancy a prey more than an opponent.
FIFY

I'm not buying the "isolationist" shtick, not when Breitbart is setting shop in Germany and in France, not when Trump plans fast track trade deals to splinter European countries.

Predators don't attack "irrelevancies", the do attack preys.

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Jan 17th, 2017 at 07:37:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All the signs are there. Storm is brewing, and the EU is looking manifestly underprepared.
by Bjinse on Tue Jan 17th, 2017 at 08:31:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With right and Left Wing Populism on the rise in the US I suspect any fast-track trade deals are DOA in Congress.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed Jan 18th, 2017 at 07:02:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Congress will do what its Ueberklass lords and masters tell it to do, the Ueberklass is gradually roping right wing populism back into its "proper" role of being useful idiots promoting an agenda that is against their own interests, and the left will continue to be ignored.
by rifek on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 05:44:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel's problem may turn out to be that she cannot wait until her internal right wing problem is resolved to deal with the whole issue of making the EMU functional and defending the EU. In that case would she even make much of an effort?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jan 18th, 2017 at 04:51:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel's problems will probably be resolved one way or the other by the German National elections in September. If she wins and heads up a new grand coalition with the socialists she will be able to take the initiative and take whatever line she wants with Brexit and Trump and perhaps introduce some reforms in the Eurozone (although I'm not aware of much appetite for that in Germany).

She could even become a visionary leader and propose a new EU Treaty encompassing greater military/security cooperation, greater fiscal integration, and some social market reforms post Brexit provided Le Pen does not win the General election in France in May and particularly if former Minister for the Economy Emmanuel Macron wins.

If she loses or if the AfD do spectacularly well she is probably history. I'd love if someone here who is closer to French and German politics than I did a diary on how those elections are shaping up.  How will Brexit and Trump influence the outcome?  Will they energise the hard right or serve as a warning as to what can happen if the hard right wins?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 18th, 2017 at 11:31:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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