It was the first time Europe’s leaders had seen each other face-to-face since the pandemic swept across the continent, shredding the European Union and causing untold pain and economic suffering, followed in most quarters by a recovery unlike anything experienced in the United States. With 27 different agendas, it was a model of how to deal with a critical issue of money.
Late on Monday, there was unanimity on the largest financial project ever attempted on the continent — a total recovery package of $858 billion. Many of the rifts, between rich and poor nations, those with true democracies and others verging on autocracies, were papered over.… Seguir leyendo »
Donald Trump managed to avoid touching off a forest fire in the tinder-dry forest around Mount Rushmore with his Independence Day fireworks display, but instead his administration seems to be doing its best to set Asia on fire in the South China Sea.
Two aircraft carrier strike groups headed by the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Nimitz have moved into the South China Sea for the largest military exercises in years just as China has been holding its own drills around the Paracel Islands, which it seized from Vietnam in 1974 in a move the United States has never accepted.… Seguir leyendo »
France’s 42-year-old president, Emmanuel Macron, who has faced many challenges governing his country, is now positioning himself to take over the mantle of global leadership long reserved to the older leaders of China, Russia or especially the United States. And right now, he has no real challengers.
The vehicle of this leadership campaign is Macron’s proposal for a worldwide ceasefire — a truce everywhere from Afghanistan to Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
And he says he’s a good part of the way there. There are five permanent members of the UN Security Council (France, China, Russia, Britain and the US) and four of the five are on board, according to Macron.… Seguir leyendo »
When the principal of my grandson’s private school in Paris learned that a 6-year-old pupil had traveled home from winter break via the Venice airport, she ordered the youngster to stay home for two weeks.
She was acting on the orders of France’s education minister, even though the boy had no symptoms of sickness and had not been vacationing in an area hit by the coronavirus. The outbreak in northern Italy has spooked the entire French government.
Fear of the coronavirus has sent shivers — and worse — across Europe. The vast expanse of Venice’s St. Mark’s Square is all but empty, as are Milan’s subways.… Seguir leyendo »
The one-day general strike that was supposed to shut down France last Thursday is now stretching at least into next week as President Emmanuel Macron perseveres in his efforts to drag his nation into the 21st century.
This time, he’s leaping onto the third rail of French society and politics, the nation’s Byzantine pension system — actually 42 public and private systems that are hell-on-wheels to navigate and give French workers some of the world’s most liberal (and expensive) retirement benefits. Macron has declared an all-out campaign to consolidate them into a single national system managed — naturellement — by the state.… Seguir leyendo »
With a single stroke, President Donald Trump has effectively brought a newly resurgent and potent triad—Syria, Russia and Iran—to the very doorstep of their declared enemy, Israel, and given aid and comfort to Israel’s longtime and persistent foe, Hezbollah, in Lebanon.
The ceasefire and agreement with Turkey that Trump vaunted Thursday as «a great day for civilization,» had already been demonstrated to be a potentially epic challenge to one corner of the world—Israel. It was a reality only highlighted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo breaking off from Vice President Pence’s group in Ankara and taking a plane directly to Jerusalem to reassure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday morning.… Seguir leyendo »
President Donald Trump is about to come face-to-face with his next quarterly brush with Armageddon. Should he, or shouldn’t he, scrap the Iran nuclear accord?
Any decision by him to «decertify» Iran’s compliance, will have only a cataclysmic impact on the key issues he has cited for ending the pact and snapping back a range of tough sanctions that would accompany any such action.
The President would not be helping American or Western security. He certainly would not be helping hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who have taken to the streets across Iran.
What such a decision will do is seriously compromise American relations with all its major European allies, as foreign ministers of most European countries suggested on Thursday morning in a tense Brussels meeting.… Seguir leyendo »
Donald Trump’s travails are apparently sending shivers through Europe’s so-called populist right. This seems particularly true in France.
Marine Le Pen — the leader of France’s National Front party and darling of the French far right — had hoped to ride President Trump’s coattails to power — and in the process, bring down the entire European project.
As France, Italy and the Netherlands gear up for critical elections this spring, many of Trump’s more outrageous pronouncements — not to mention actions — are casting a pall over Europe’s populism.
Trump’s continuing embrace of Vladimir Putin, his support for a Brexit that even many Brits are now viewing with fear, and above all his de-facto Muslim ban all appear to be moving much of the European electorate closer to the center and driving these often-bickering nations closer to each other.… Seguir leyendo »
Israel, and by extension the United States, are poised at the entrance to a dangerous path. The model democracy of the Middle East risks transforming into a global pariah on the scale of South Africa when it was in the depths of its apartheid nightmare.
After decades of Arab-Israeli diplomacy, the idea of a one-state solution looms anew, as conservative elements in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition see the arrival of Donald Trump and his new ambassador to Israel as an opportunity to push their agenda.
If it is realized, it would reduce Israel’s Palestinian population to a permanent underclass and mean, in the not-too-distant future, that a Jewish minority would be ruling a Muslim majority, with the world on the side of the oppressed majority.… Seguir leyendo »
The apparent violent truck assault on Berlin’s crowded Breitscheidplatz Christmas market had all the hallmarks of Islamic State terrorism — the same type of semitruck, the same high speed of 40 miles an hour, the same mass of holiday revelers — as the horrific attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice last summer. In both cases, there were multiple deaths and scores of maimed and injured left in their wake.
But beyond the immediate panic and horror, there also appears to be a potentially more pernicious reward to the forces of the political far right best positioned to capitalize on such a tragedy.… Seguir leyendo »
As Donald Trump nears his choice for secretary of state, one of the first orders of business for the successful candidate will be grappling with instability from the populist revolution emerging across the Atlantic, upheaval similar to that which propelled Trump to power — a sudden and powerful lurch toward the right. This restlessness presents both potential opportunities and peril for the next president of the United States — and those who would carry out his vision.
On Sunday, French Republicans overwhelmingly threw their support behind François Fillon as their party’s candidate for next year’s presidential election. Fillon easily beat conservative rival and Bordeaux Mayor Alain Juppé for the right to face the Socialist Party and far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen in the first round of the presidential contest in April.… Seguir leyendo »
There are few more vulnerable spots along NATO’s entire perimeter than the Suwalki Gap, an about 60-mile stretch of territory and a critical rail line separating Poland from Lithuania, linking Russian Kaliningrad with Putin’s staunch ally Belarus. If Vladimir Putin takes comfort in NATO’s waffling, or doubts US willingness to spring to the defense of the Baltic republics, it’s here any shootout between NATO and Russia could start. Or even World War III.
Vice President Biden paid an urgent trip to neighboring Latvia in August to meet the presidents of all three Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — to assure them that «we have pledged our sacred honor … to the NATO treaty and Article 5,» which says an attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all.… Seguir leyendo »
If there is one immediate lesson to be drawn from the third terrorist attack in France in 18 months, it is that little has changed beyond the techniques used to rain death and destruction on a population only barely healing from the last blow.
Sadly, it’s clear that the forces of law and order have developed little or no understanding of what is happening within the vast community of extremists who now seem capable of holding one of Europe’s leading, yet most vulnerable, nations in their thrall. And worse yet, France continues to lack the coordination so desperately needed if the next attack is to be thwarted before it can be unleashed.… Seguir leyendo »