Seventy-five years ago, the world blew up in just six months.
World War II ostensibly started two years earlier, when Germany invaded Poland. In truth, after the rapid German defeat of Poland in September 1939, the conflict was mostly confined to Western Europe for nearly the next two years. By the summer of 1940, only Britain had survived Hitler’s European victories.
The dormant European war only went global on June 22, 1941, when Germany suddenly surprise-attacked the Soviet Union, its former partner.
America and Asia were still not directly involved in the 1941 expansion of the war until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and British Malaya on Dec.… Seguir leyendo »
April marked the 65th birthday of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, formed at the height of the Cold War to stop the huge postwar Red Army from overrunning Western Europe.
NATO in 1949 had only 12 members, comprising Western Europe, Canada and the United States. Its original mission was simple. According to the alliance’s first secretary general, Lord Hastings Ismay, NATO was formed “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
Western Europeans were terrified of the Soviet Union, which had just gobbled up all of Eastern Europe. They feared that the American Army would go home after World War II, just as it had after World War I, consistent with its isolationist past.… Seguir leyendo »
In the 1920s, Japan began to translate its growing economic might — after a prior 50-year crash course in Western capitalism and industrialization — into formidable military power.
At first, few of its possible rivals seemed to care. America and condescending European colonials did not quite believe that any Asian power could ever dare to threaten their own Pacific interests.
Japan had been a British ally and a partner of the democracies in World War I. Most of its engineering talent was trained in Britain and France. The West even declared Japan to be one of the “Big Five” world economic powers that shared common interests in peace, prosperity and global security.… Seguir leyendo »
The hermit state of North Korea became a nuclear power in 2006-07, despite lots of foreign aid aimed at precluding just such proliferation — help usually not otherwise accorded to such an isolated dictatorship. Apparently, the civilized world rightly suspected that if it went nuclear, Pyongyang would either export nuclear material and expertise to other unstable countries or bully its successful but non-nuclear neighbors — or both.
The United States has given billions of dollars in foreign aid to Pakistan, whose Islamist gangs have spearheaded radical anti-American terrorism. Since a corrupt Pakistan went nuclear in 1998, it has been able to extort such foreign payouts — on fears that one of its nukes might end up in the hands of terrorists
By any measure of economic success or political stability, Pakistan would not warrant either the cash or the attention it wins without nuclear weapons.… Seguir leyendo »
So far, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani’s peace ruse is still bearing some fruit. President Obama was eager to talk with him at the United Nations — only to be reportedly rebuffed, until Mr. Obama managed to phone him for the first conservation between heads of state of the two countries since the Iranian storming of the U.S. Embassy in 1979.
Mr. Rouhani has certainly wowed Western elites with his mellifluous voice, quiet demeanor and denials of wanting a bomb. The media, who ignore the circumstances of Mr. Rouhani’s three-decade trajectory to power, gush that he is suddenly a “moderate” and “Western-educated.”… Seguir leyendo »
Israel could be forgiven for having a siege mentality — given that at any moment, old front-line enemies Syria and Egypt might spill their violence over common borders.
The Arab Spring has turned Israel’s once-predictable adversaries into the chaotic state of a Sudan or Somalia. The old understandings between Jerusalem and the Assad and Mubarak kleptocracies seem in limbo.
Yet these tragic Arab revolutions swirling around Israel are paradoxically aiding it, both strategically and politically — well beyond the erosion of conventional Arab military strength.
In terms of realpolitik, anti-Israeli authoritarians are fighting to the death against anti-Israeli insurgents and terrorists.… Seguir leyendo »
There are many strange elements in the current debate over illegal immigration, but none stranger than the mostly ignored role of Mexico.
Are millions of Mexican citizens still trying to cross the U.S. border illegally because there is dismal economic growth and a shortage of jobs in Mexico?
Not anymore. In terms of the economy, Mexico has rarely done better, and the United State rarely worse.
The Mexican unemployment rate is currently below 5 percent. North of the border it remains stuck at above 7 percent for the 53rd consecutive month of the Obama presidency. The American gross domestic product has been growing at a rate of less than 2 percent annually.… Seguir leyendo »
From the heights of Gibraltar, you can see Africa about nine miles away to the south — and gaze eastward on the seemingly endless Mediterranean, which stretches 1,500 miles to Asia beyond. Mare Nostrum, “our sea,” the Romans called the deep blue waters that allowed Rome to unite Asia, Africa and Europe for half a millennium under a single prosperous, globalized civilization.
Yet the Mediterranean has not always proved history’s incubator of great civilizations — Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Florentine and Venetian. Sometimes, the ancient “Pillars of Hercules” at the narrow mouth of the Mediterranean here at Gibraltar marked not so much a gateway to progress and prosperity as a cultural and commercial cul-de-sac.… Seguir leyendo »
Remember when President Obama used to warn Syria’s Bashar Assad to stop his mass killing and step down?
Moammar Gadhafi’s Libyan dictatorship had then just collapsed under Western bombing. The killing of Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and the subsequent postwar tribal mess in Libya were still in the future. In those heady days of 2011, the rage was “lead from behind,” the blooming Arab Spring and social media types calling for democracy in the streets of Cairo.
The Muslim Brotherhood was proclaimed to be largely “secular.” Echoing the pseudo-disavowals of Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini years earlier, the American-educated Mohammed Morsi insisted that his Islamist movement was not interested in running Egypt.… Seguir leyendo »
Since antiquity, the Middle East has been the trading nexus of three continents — Asia, Europe and Africa — and the vibrant birthplace to three of the world’s great religions.
Middle Eastern influence rose again in the 19th century, when the Suez Canal turned the once dead-end eastern Mediterranean Sea into a watery highway from Europe to Asia.
With the 20th-century development of large gas and oil supplies in the Persian Gulf and North Africa, an Arab-led OPEC more or less dictated the foreign policy of thirsty oil importers such as United States and Europe. No wonder U.S. Central Command has remained America’s military command hot spot.… Seguir leyendo »
Almost everything we have been told about Libya over the last two years is untrue.
A free Libya was supposed to be proof of President Barack Obama's enlightened reset Middle East policy. When insurgency broke out there, the United States joined France and Great Britain in bombing Moammar Gadhafi out of power — and supposedly empowering a democratic Arab Spring. Not a single American life was lost.
Libyans, like most in the Arab World, were supposed to appreciate the new enlightened American foreign policy. Obama's June 2009 Cairo speech praised Islam and apologized for the West. A new "lead from behind" multilateralism was said to have superseded George W.… Seguir leyendo »
The newly elected French Socialist president, Francois Hollande, is warning Germany that Mediterranean ideas of "growth," not Germanic "austerity," should be the new European creed. No surprise there - reckless debtors often blame their own past imprudence on greedy creditors, especially if the latter are supposed to be guilt-ridden over causing two world wars.
All over Europe, the gospel is that tight-fisted Germans are at the root of the European Union meltdown: They worked too hard, saved too much, bought too little and borrowed not at all. All that may be true, in theory. But, in fact, faulting thrift and industry is a prescription for incurring anger and guaranteeing backlash - especially in the case of the Germans, who are now asked to provide even more capital to help other European economies to recover.… Seguir leyendo »
On the campaign trail, presidential candidate Barack Obama once called for a "reset" policy with Iran. Supposedly, the unpopularity of Texan provocateur George W. Bush and his administration's inability to finesse "soft power" had needlessly alienated the Iranian theocracy.
After all, the widely quoted but highly politicized 2007 National Intelligence Estimate had claimed that Iran had ceased work on a bomb in 2003 and would not have a weapon for the foreseeable future. That flawed analysis fueled another popular talking point: The Bush-Cheney warmongers were look-ing for more phantom weapons of mass de-struction in Iran of the sort that had led them into Iraq.… Seguir leyendo »
Nearly 10 years ago, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld provoked outrage by referring to “old Europe.” How dare he, snapped the French and Germans, call us “old” when the utopian European Union was all the rage, the new euro was soaring in value, and the United States was increasingly isolated under the George W. Bush administration!
Yet the more things change in Europe, the more they stay the same.
The island of Britain usually is, and is not, a part of Europe - carefully pulling out when things heat up, terrified that it will be pulled back in when things boil over.… Seguir leyendo »
The rise of a German Europe began in 1914, failed twice and has ended in the victory of German power almost a century later. The Europe that Kaiser Wilhelm lost in 1918 and Adolf Hitler destroyed in 1945 has at last been won by German Chancellor Angela Merkel without a shot fired.
Or so it seems from European newspapers, which refer bitterly to a "Fourth Reich" and arrogant new Nazi "Gauleiters" who dictate terms to their European subordinates. Popular cartoons depict Germans with stiff-arm salutes and swastikas, establishing new rules of behavior for supposedly inferior peoples.
Millions of terrified Italians, Spaniards, Greeks, Portuguese and other Europeans are pouring their savings into German banks at the rate of $15 billion a month.… Seguir leyendo »
Will Israel survive? That question hasn’t really been asked since 1967. Then, a far weaker Israel was surrounded by Arab dictatorships that were equipped with sophisticated weapons from their nuclear patron, the Soviet Union. But now, things are far worse for the Jewish state.
Egyptian mobs just tried to storm the Israeli embassy in Cairo and kill any Israelis they could get their hands on. Whatever Egyptian government emerges, it will be more Islamist than before - and may renounce the peace accords with Israel.
One thing unites Syrian and Libyan dissidents: They seem to hate Israel as much as the murderous dictators whom they have been trying to throw out.… Seguir leyendo »
Almost daily over the past four months we were told that Col. Moammar Gadhafi was about ready to throw in the towel and give up.
Libya, after all, is not a distant Afghanistan or Iraq with a population of about 30 million. Yet this tiny police state of fewer than 7 million people, conveniently located on the Mediterranean Sea opposite nearby Europe, continues to thwart the three great powers of the NATO alliance and thousands of "Arab Spring" rebels.
In March, President Obama ordered the use of American bombers and cruise missiles to join with the French and British to finish off the tottering Gadhafi regime.… Seguir leyendo »
The latest round of global agricultural trade negotiations that began seven years ago in Doha, Qatar, collapsed in acrimony this week in Geneva. While India and China are getting the blame for refusing to reduce import tariffs and farm subsidies, you can assume that trade officials in Europe and the United States are breathing a sigh of relief that they aren’t going to have to limit their own protectionism.
Nothing new here. Nor is it a staggering blow to world trade: the aggregate loss caused by the trade barriers in question is probably no more than $70 billion in a global imported food market of more than a trillion dollars.… Seguir leyendo »