THE RECENT OPINION OF FOREIGN LEADERS AND MEDIA ON TRUMP: THE IMPACT OF CORROSIVE POLITICS ABROAD

By  Harry C. Blaney III

There are many ways of examining the impact Trump has already made on our allies and our adversaries and rogue leaders abroad. The question Americans must ask is what does this attitude mean for American respect and leadership abroad in a Donald Trump presidency? An insight can be gained by reading the following quotes from foreign media and  leaders.

To start here at home, I think that Colin Powell,  who served as Secretary of State under Republican President George W. Bush, has said it all about Donald Trump in his recent endorsement of Secretary Hillary Clinton:

“He insults us every day,”…“He has insulted America in one way almost every day,” .. “He has insulted Latino Americans. He has insulted African-Americans. He has insulted women. He has insulted his own party. He has insulted our allies around the world one by one by one. He has insulted veterans.” – Independent

This is from a Republican with the widest experience in national security and diplomacy.

But the impact abroad, as we have seen in earlier posts and in our own media, has been considerable and to the harm of American influence and respect around the world. As we reach the final stage of our presidential campaign, it is worth a new close look at what others, who in their own countries or organizations have responsibility for leading their societies and not least working with America to solve common challenges and risks, think of our candidates.

The most key region that we have worked with and depend on most for our common defense and economic cooperation has been Europe. It is also the place where the idiocy of Trump has been most recognized and displayed, covered in the media and reflected in leaders statements and in polls.

Here are some excerpts from recent foreign Media :

THE FINANCIAL TIMES (UK) ENDORSED HILLARY CLINTON:

“This is a moment for the renewal of American leadership. One candidate has the credentials. Mrs Clinton has served as first lady, senator for New York and US secretary of state. Mr Trump deals in denigration not diplomacy. He has abused allies, threatening to remove east Asia’s nuclear umbrella, sideline Nato and unleash trade wars. Mr Trump casts himself in the role of a western strongman to stand alongside the likes of Mr Putin… Mr Trump has a thin skin and a questionable temperament. For all his many years as a reality TV host, he is simply not ready for prime time. Yet Mrs Clinton has much to prove. To many American voters, Mrs Clinton’s decades of public service mean little. She epitomises a remote, self-serving establishment. Her campaign has lacked inspiration… But she is manifestly more competent than Mr Trump whose braggadocio, divisiveness and meanness are on daily display. Despite her faults, Mrs Clinton is eminently qualified to be the first woman elected to the White House. She has the Financial Times’ endorsement.” Financial Times

THE ECONOMIST (UK) – America’s best hope; Why we would cast our hypothetical vote for Hillary Clinton:

“A QUARTER of Americans born since 1980 believe that democracy is a bad form of government, many more than did so 20 years ago. If the two main parties had set about designing a contest to feed the doubts of young voters, they could not have done better than this year’s presidential campaign. The vote, on November 8th, is now in sight, yet many Americans would willingly undergo the exercise all over again—with two new candidates. Of course that is not on offer: the next president will be either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

The choice is not hard. The campaign has provided daily evidence that Mr Trump would be a terrible president. He has exploited America’s simmering racial tensions. His experience, temperament and character make him horribly unsuited to being the head of state of the nation that the rest of the democratic world looks to for leadership, the commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful armed forces and the person who controls America’s nuclear deterrent.

That alone would stop us from casting a vote, if we had one, for Mr Trump. As it happens, he has a set of policies to go with his personality. A Trump government would cut taxes for the richest while imposing trade protection that would raise prices for the poorest. We disagree with him on the environment, immigration, America’s role in the world and other things besides. His ideas on revenue and spending are an affront to statistics. We would sooner have endorsed Richard Nixon—even had we known how he would later come to grief.

Our vote, then, goes to Hillary Clinton. Those who reject her simply because she is a Clinton, and because they detest the Clinton machine, are not paying attention to the turpitude of the alternative. Although, by itself, that is not much of an endorsement, we go further. Mrs Clinton is a better candidate than she seems and better suited to cope with the awful, broken state of Washington politics than her critics will admit. She also deserves to prevail on her own merits.

Like Mr Trump, Mrs Clinton has ideas we disagree with. Her tax plan is fiddly. Her opposition to the trade deal with Asia that she once championed is disheartening. The scale of these defects, though, is measured in tiny increments compared with what Mr Trump proposes. On plenty of other questions her policies are those of the pragmatic centre of the Democratic Party. She wants to lock up fewer non-violent offenders, expand the provision of early education and introduce paid parental leave. She wants to continue Barack Obama’s efforts to slow global warming. In Britain her ideological home would be the mainstream of the Conservative Party; in Germany she would be a Christian Democrat.

In one sense Mrs Clinton is revolutionary. She would be America’s first female president in the 240 years since independence. This is not a clinching reason to vote for her. But it would be a genuine achievement. In every other sense, however, Mrs Clinton is a self-confessed incrementalist. She believes in the power of small changes compounded over time to bring about larger ones. An inability to sound as if she is offering an overnight transformation is one of the things that makes her a bad campaigner. Presidential nominees are now expected to inspire. Mrs Clinton would have been better-suited to the first half-century of presidential campaigns, when the candidates did not even give public speeches.

However, a prosaic style combined with gradualism and hard work could make for a more successful presidency than her critics allow. In foreign policy, where the president’s power is greatest, Mrs Clinton would look out from the Resolute desk at a world that has inherited some of the risks of the cold war but not its stability. China’s rise and Russia’s decline call for both flexibility and toughness. International institutions, such as the UN, are weak; terrorism is transnational.

So judgment and experience are essential and, despite Republican attempts to tarnish her over an attack in Benghazi in 2012, Mrs Clinton possesses both. As a senator she did solid work on the armed-services committee; as secretary of state she pursued the president’s policies abroad ably. Her view of America has much in common with Mr Obama’s. She rightly argued for involvement early on in Syria. She has a more straightforward view of America’s capacity to do good; her former boss is more alert to the dangers of good intentions. The difference is of degree, though. Mrs Clinton helped lay the foundations for ending the embargo on Cuba, striking a nuclear deal with Iran and reaching agreement with China on global warming. A Clinton presidency would build on this.”The Economist

DER SPIEGEL – Germany’s most read conservative weekly magazine:

“An American reporter explains that the Trump campaign is built on a foundation of religious and racial lenses, rather than on the Constitution. His support from the alt-right, overt racial and religious undertones, and reluctance to conceded if he loses all go against the fabric of American society.”  – Der Spiegel

“[Trump adviser Sam Clovis] shares Trump’s view that American foreign policy needs to strictly prioritize national interests, not the handed-down alliances of the postwar period: ‘We’re not about to spill one drop of blood or spend one more dollar unless we know exactly what the outcome is going to be or at least have some notion of what the predictability is,’ Clovis has told a group of European diplomats and experts…

Jürgen Hardt, the trans-Atlantic coordinator for the German government, believes that ‘even a President Trump would not carelessly jeopardize solid relationships if he is elected.’ Berlin officials believe that Trump would back away from some of his most outrageous demands if he were elected. But they do think that he would focus on the question as to who should carry the future costs of the trans-Atlantic alliance. A Republican victory in the election could be expensive for Germany…”Der Spiegel

LE MONDE – An influential conservative French newspaper:

“There may soon come a time when US world cities have expanded still further and immigration has transformed the US into a country where ‘minorities’ are in the majority. Then the Democrats may be able to do without the working-class Midwest, as they have previously done without poor Southern whites. But that time is not now. This year it’s still too risky for the Clintons’ party to scold all those who react badly to the problems the Democrats created, and to suggest that they seek training or a new career, or relocate. Because, with Trump in the ring, the Democrats can no longer be certain that they are the sole electoral refuge for what remains of a working-class base. Clinton, the personification of a political elite which for over a quarter of a century has led the working-class world towards catastrophe, must therefore take account of people whose economic fate is threatened and who are terrified by the loss of social status. Her CV is unmatched, but in 2016 many Americans seem to want to ditch the whole system and use a stick of dynamite called Donald Trump to do it.”Le Monde

THE GUARDIAN – A British left leaning quality daily newspaper:

“A Trump defeat will be richly deserved. As we have noted previously, he is not a fit and proper person to serve in the White House. His behaviour during a long, raucous and often embarrassingly vulgar campaign made that abundantly plain.  Yet consigning “the Donald” to the rubbish bin of electoral history is easier than getting rid of Trumpism. This is likely to take a lot longer. Trump’s platform was based not on thought-through policies and careful analysis but on prejudice, grievance, ignorance and fear, spiced with opportunism.

Oblivious to paradox, irony, history or facts, Trumpism projects a distorted vision of American greatness… As general concepts, Trumpism makes an enemy of the “other”, equates nationality with homogeneity, calls honest critics liars and seeks to threaten, jail or harm opponents… Trumpism admires the domestic authoritarianism and international bullying of dictatorships in Russia and China… Trumpism appeals to the worst in people, cynically exploiting and fanning the anger, grievances and prejudices of the economically disadvantaged, the embittered, uneducated and plain ignorant… Fear is the common enemy, but fear is Trumpism’s friend. This phenomenon is not confined to America.

For good or bad, this clock cannot be turned back. Closed borders and closed minds, crude nationalism, trade barriers, xenophobia, religious, racial and sexual discrimination – these are old mistakes and old hatreds that, while still in evidence everywhere, belong to times past. The world is moving forward, not back. In the end, Trumpism and all its ghastly incarnations, dwelling in fear and darkness, will, like Trump himself, be exorcised.”The Guardian

“Some have argued that Trump’s presidential campaign is damaging his brand. But that’s only true if his goal was to return to being a real estate developer/reality TV host after the election.

Imagine a Trump Party that first makes significant inroads in 2018 in congress, and then runs a presidential candidate in 2020 – could this third party candidate restrict Hillary Clinton to just one term? Both Rutherford Hayes and Lyndon Johnson declined to seek renomination. Could a Trump Party make it so difficult for her to govern that she simply throws in the towel?” The Guardian

THE TELEGRAPH – A far right British newspaperpaper:

“The Democrats could have learned from the UK. Crowning any leader without opposition is never a wise thing to do, as Labour found out in 2010. Having been denied the crown once before – in 1994, when Labour leader John Smith died, only to be replaced by Tony Blair – Gordon Brown wasn’t going to allow the same thing to happen again…

Far too late in the day, Labour learned its lesson. Never again will it allow a leadership contest to take place with a solitary candidate (although that is a moot point for the foreseeable future, given its deteriorating poll ratings under Jeremy Corbyn, a deterioration the party may very well find it cannot reverse once he has retired to his Islington allotment).


I
f Clinton wins – and I very much hope she does – I fear she will become the first one-term president since her husband defeated George H.W. Bush in 1992. By 2020, of course, the Republicans will, we hope, have recovered from its temporary summer insanity and will nominate someone who is actually capable of entering the Oval Office without offending half the nation and all of the world. The Telegraph


VIEWS OF LEADERS ABROAD:

FIRST THE OUTLIERS FAVORING TRUMP:

Yes, there are leaders who favor Trump and they probably include Vladimir Putin, as reflected in the statements of his followers and the reported US intelligence indicating Russian hacking is directed at the Democrats as is much of the government controlled media with a bias towards Trump and putting down Clinton:

Vladimir Putin – “’Trump’s a colorful person. And well, isn’t he colorful? Colorful. I didn’t make any other kind of characterization about him. But here’s where I will pay close attention, and where I exactly welcome and where on the contrary I don’t see anything bad: Mr Trump has declared that he’s ready for the full restoration of Russian-American relations. Is there anything bad there? We all welcome this, don’t you?’” – The Guardian

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Russian politician loyal to Putin – “Americans voting for a president on Nov. 8 must realize that they are voting for peace on Planet Earth if they vote for Trump. But if they vote for Hillary it’s war. It will be a short movie. There will be Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere.”

“He (Trump) won’t care about Syria, Libya and Iraq and why an earth should America interfere in these countries? And Ukraine. Who needs Ukraine?…Trump will have a brilliant chance to make relations more peaceful … He’s the only one who can do this,”- Vladimir Zhirinovsky 10/12/2016 – Reuters

“Trump’s statements have been widely reported in the Russian media, which has portrayed Trump as a lonely fighter against a corrupt establishment. (The Russian newscaster Dmitry Kiselev went so far as to argue that Trump should fear assassination at the hands of this establishment.) If, as expected, Trump loses the election, it will simply reinforce the Kremlin’s message that elites, not the electorate, decide who wins the U.S. presidency.

Beyond his domestic audience, Putin is engaged in a battle for the hearts and minds of foreign citizens, some of whom turn to the Kremlin-backed RT (formerly Russia Today) as an alternative to CNN or BBC. Allegations of electoral malfeasance in the United States undermine confidence in the Western model of governance. Add to that Trump’s portrait of an unsafe country in an even more unsafe world, and you have a message in perfect conformity with an authoritarian worldview.

We do not fully understand the rationale for Donald Trump’s overt statements of support forPutin. But it is his highly inaccurate portrayal of U.S. politics that has most played into the Kremlin’s designs. Regardless of the election outcome, Putin is one of the big winners of this presidential election.” – Washington Post

“The head of the Carnegie Moscow Center, Dmitri Trenin, believes that for the Kremlin, Trump could be a more comfortable dialogue partner than Clinton because he is at least potentially disposed to exchange opinions on issues that are important to Moscow. However, the expert notes that Clinton’s victory does not imply any catastrophe for the Kremlin: the Russian leaders know her well and have an idea of what her team and style of work are going to be.” – Russia Direct

“Russian President Vladimir Putin – unsmiling, forbidding – had the last, long word. He ridiculed journalists who suggest Russia is a threat and has sought to influence the US elections. “It’s nonsense that Donald Trump is the Russian favourite,” although he did add that he thought Mr Trump represents that part of US society that has tired of the elite that has been in power for decades.” – Financial Times, November 2, 2016

NIGEL FARAGE, Former UKIP Leader: “I cannot possibly tell you how you should vote in this election. But you know I get it, I get it. I’m hearing you. But I will say this, if I was an American citizen I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if you paid me. In fact, I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if she paid me,” – Huffington Post

CZECH PRESIDENT MILOS ZEMAN:
“I will not interfere with U.S. internal affairs, I am just saying that if I were an American citizen, I would vote for Donald Trump.”
Bloomberg

HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER VIKTOR ORBAN: – “I am not a Donald Trump campaigner. I never thought I would ever entertain the thought that, of the open options, he (Trump) would be better for Europe and for Hungary.  But I listened to the candidate and I must tell you he made three proposals to combat terrorism. And as a European I could have hardly articulated better what Europe needs.”: He supports  Trump’s proposals to create “the best intelligence-gathering organisation in the world.  The second thing, said this valiant American presidential candidate, is to abandon the policy of exporting democracy. I could not have said it more precisely.  If we keep prioritising democracy over stability in regions where we are unlikely to succeed with that, we will create instability, not democracy.”
Reuters

EGYPT’S ABDEL FATAH AL-SISSI: “There was, however, a notable difference in the way that Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton handled the strongman — one that reveals a substantive and important divide on foreign policy. Mr. Trump’s post-meeting statement heaped uncritical praise on Mr. Sissi, thanking him ‘and the Egyptian people for what they have done in defense of their country’ and promising to invite the coup-maker for an official visit to Washington.

In contrast, Ms. Clinton, while paying tribute to U.S.-Egyptian cooperation on counterterrorism, “emphasized the importance of respect for rule of law and human rights to Egypt’s future progress,” according to her statement. She also “raised concerns about prosecution of Egyptian human rights organizations and activists.” In other words, while Mr. Trump handed a pass to this deeply problematic U.S. ally, Ms. Clinton put him on notice that his abuses will not be ignored if she becomes president.”Washington Post

NETHERLAND’S GEERT WILDERS, head of an extreme right-wing racist Dutch Party:
“I hope [Donald Trump] will be the next US President. Good for America, good for Europe. We need brave leaders” Breibart

NORTH KOREAN STATE MEDIA : “Praising the likely Republican nominee as a ‘wise politician’ and ‘far-sighted presidential candidate .’: ‘In my personal opinion, there are many positive aspects to the Trump’s ‘inflammatory policies’, wrote Han Yong Mook, who introduced himself as a Chinese North Korean scholar.  “Trump said ‘he will not get involved in the war between the South and the North,’ isn’t this fortunate from North Koreans’ perspective?  Yes do it, now … Who knew that the slogan ‘Yankee Go Home’ would come true like this? The day when the ‘Yankee Go Home’ slogan becomes real would be the day of Korean Unification.”NK News

ZIMBABWE’S PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE:
“US lawmakers Chris Coons and Adam Schiff were visiting the southern African country to discuss wildlife trafficking when a request for a meeting with the interior minister turned into a sit down with the president.  According to Coons and Schiff, the discussion turned tense when Mugabe asked why the US insists on sanctioning Zimbabwe. The senators and their delegation listed reasons why the sanctions have remained in place—the US has sanctioned the country since 2002 after reports of election abuse and human rights violations.  After an awkward silence, Mugabe said, ‘Once [Trump] is your president, you’ll wish you’d been friendlier to me,'”  – QZ

FRANCE’S MARINE LE PEN : Ms. Le Pen, who heads up  France’s far right and fascist National Front, called Trump “a free man” and said if she could, she would vote for “anyone but Hillary Clinton,”.Politico

FRAUKE PETRY, German anti-immigration and facist Alternative for Germany party’s leader: [Petry] suggests that a Trump presidency would be an opportunity for lower US-Russian tensions. Petry also believes Germany should have a more “balanced approach” towards Russia. – Washington Post

CHINESE SUPPORT: Trump has many supporters in China. “There are also some Chinese people who want him to win because of the American hype surrounding him. They think Trump is “unreliable,” but that he is more likely to be unreliable to America and the West, and, even if this is inconvenient for China, China will not be the first to be inconvenienced.” – Huanqiu


COMMENTS ON TRUMP AND CLINTON FROM LEADERS ABROAD: Looking at individual leaders abroad, there are clear cries of alarm over the possibility that Trump might become president.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY:

Asked if she would repeat criticism of Mr Trump’s policies on muslims, voiced when she was Home Secretary, Mrs May said: ‘I take a simple view about the way in which I like to see campaigns being conducted; I like them to be conducted in a calm and measured way with proper consideration of the issues.”

Speaking during her trip to India the Prime Minister added: “As to the result of the election, that’s up to the American people and we’ll know that very soon.” – Telegraph

LABOUR PARTY LEADER JEREMY CORBYN: 

Jeremy Corbyn invites Donald Trump for tea and a chat in his local mosque. The Labour leader said he’d like to “help” a hypothetical President Donald, and would invite him to discuss “culture and diversity” in Finsbury Park if he was Prime.

Jeremy Corbyn extended an invitation to Donald Trump tonight, saying if he won the US election, he’d invite him to discuss “culture and diversity” in his local mosque. Mr Corbyn was asked what he’d do if the Donald won the US election and he was elected Prime Minister, during a Labour party leadership debate in Birmingham.

Asked if he would be friendly to President Trump, he raised laughter from the audience, saying: “What I would do is try and help him.” He went on: “I would invite him to come to Finsbury Park, in my constituency, and we could go to a lovely building just around the corner, and we can talk about culture, diversity and history over a cup of tea in the Mosque.”Mirror

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT PARTY LEADER TIM FARRON:

Mr Farron said: “Donald Trump is not just mad and bad but he’s also dangerous. Why would you wish him luck? … I have never seen anyone so unworthy of the office of the presidency in history…He is a nasty misogynist and woefully under prepared for the immense responsibility that comes with sitting in the Oval Office…I am worried that millions of people will vote for him this week. The party of Abraham Lincoln is now the party of Donald Trump.” – Daily Mail

SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER NICOLA STURGEON: 

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has thrown political tradition aside to make her support for Hillary Clinton clear for all to see.

The popular leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party says in a Sunday Mail column that she “fervently hopes” Clinton will best Republican rival Donald Trump in Tuesday’s U.S. presidential vote.

Sturgeon says Clinton would be “a great president” and that the election of a woman leader in the U.S. would “also mark the shattering of the glass ceiling in terms of equality for women.”

Sturgeon also says Clinton, although not perfect, would be a great role model for women throughout the world. Global News


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL:
One of the most searing statement comes from the NATO Secretary general who make a  rebuttal against Trump. Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, said the alliance will defend all allies, a response to Mr. Trump’s earlier suggests that the U.S. would examine how much allies spend on defense before coming to their aid.

Stoltenberg said: “We don’t say: If you don’t pay, we won’t protect you,”….“After years of decline in defense spending there is now an increase in defense spending among European allies,” “But this is not something that was caused by the U.S. election campaign.” – Wall Street Journal

GERMAN OFFICIALS IN THE PAST MONTH OR SO:

GERMANY’S  FOREIGN MINISTER FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER:
An early criticism, from the German Foreign Minister Steinmeier criticizes nationalist leaders, as “they make politics with fear.” Steinmeier added the same applies to Germany’s own nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, supporters of Britain’s exit from the EU and to “the hate preachers, like Donald Trump at the moment in the USA,”  calling Trump a hate preacher.  – DW

An internal analysis by the Finance Ministry in Berlin reportedly argues that a Trump victory would mean “a shrinking gross domestic product, fewer jobs and higher unemployment” — developments which would negatively impact German exporters. Trump’s economic ideas, furthermore, “aren’t feasible,” violate international or US law and could not “provide the foundation for a realistic economic policy.”

The US German Embassy reports also address Trump’s personal attacks on Merkel.  Trump called his opponent “America’s Angela Merkel,” as if a comparison with the German Chancellor qualified as an insult.”Der Spiegel

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AN ISOLATED BRITAIN AND A SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BRITAIN

By Harry C. Blaney III  

Photo Credit via Independent


The latest pronouncement of Prime Minister Theresa May at the Tory Party Conference in October provided an especially harsh and rigid statement of future relations with the EU that amounts to a declaration of self-destruction for an open, influential, and prosperous United Kingdom. It was a red-meat speech for her Tory Euroskeptic xenophobic co-conspirators which likely leads to a weakened Britain and into a very dark space that makes Britain and Europe less secure. It brings delight to Putin, undermines greatly the “Special Relationship” with America, and not least emboldens the worst elements in our societies to rise into power.

I have been watching the process of European integration since 1964 and served at the US missions to both the EU and NATO, as well as living for a while in Britain studying European-US relations. But I could not imagine any sane leader after 40 years of building close cooperation and many gains from unity, would bring about such a break in the linchpin of Europe unity and security. I was in Britain for the last phase of the Brexit debate and vote and saw the sad aftermath which had much of the quality I am seeing today with Trump.

Reading Prime Minister Theresa May’s October Tory Conference speech, I was horrified at the false promises made, the emphases on “controlling” immigration, and thinking she can get a good deal that is NOT on offer and that giving the slogan “Global Britain” she can wash away the ugly reality of a small, divided, and weakened and yes, more isolated Britain.  Prime Minister May talks as if she was living again in the 19th Century, focusing on sovereignty and making our own laws, etc.

Americans will always see Britain as our friend an ally but the first call in a crisis will likely not be to London but to Berlin and Paris. Also to say there is no turning back is to say that the old British tradition of realism and pragmatism to redress an unimaginable error is like heading towards the cliff knowing the results. To not permit a vote on the issue when new valid information on costs and dangers emerges is the height of irresponsibility.

Already we see in Britain increases in brutal attacks on those that look different.  After the lies and exaggerations that were told by Nigel Farage and his partner in the vitriolic Leave Campaign Boris Johnson, that Britain would, in effect be great again (familiar words here in the corrosive presidential campaign), outside the EU.  They said all would prosper and those pesky job robbing foreigners would be taken care of and not bother us any more. The big lie of course was to say that Britain would get almost all it wanted from the despised EU even as EU leaders said it would never happen.

Today sadly the EU and more importantly the concept of a peaceful, united, prosperous, and secure Europe seems at risk. The EU unity problem was exacerbated by the “Great Recession” and the failure of the EU to come to the true assistance of the endangered vulnerable states. Many countries including Britain decided to embark on disastrous austerity policies that left far too many people behind, desperate, and feeling hopeless. For this the blame rests unequivocally on the Conservative Party.

Further, the evil stench of Trump is mirrored sadly in today’s UKIP and Right of the Tory Party with its hyper nationalism and bigotry, as well as the French Le Pen National Party and in Germany in the Alternative for Germany with their neo-Nazi bent.  Brexit and May’s harsh speech can only embolden these fanatics.

And now after the Brexit vote. I never have been so concerned not only for Europe, but also for the implications of a deteriorating, divided, selfish and myopic continent for global governance. No wonder that Vladimir Putin is licking his chops over a weakened and divided West.

We are living in a high risk world that calls for greater unity and cooperation, not less. A Continent fighting itself can’t help the rest of the world fight global warming, terrorism, poverty and inequality, and not least deal with the dangers of nuclear weapons nor defend itself against the real dangers of authoritarian aggression near and far.

BELOW ARE SOME EXCERPTS FROM PRIME MINISTER’S SPEECH WHICH ILLUSTRATE THE CONSEQUENCES OF BOTH PANDERING TO THE EXTREME RIGHT AND DISREGARDING THE LONG-TERM NATIONAL INTEREST:

Crediting Brexit as a Conservative Victory
“But come on.  The referendum result was clear.  It was legitimate.  It was the biggest vote for change this country has ever known.  Brexit means Brexit – and we’re going to make a success of it.”

“Now of course, we wouldn’t have had a referendum at all had it not been for the Conservative Party – and had it not been for David Cameron.  And I want to take a moment to pay tribute to David……”

Valuing Total Sovereignty over the Benefits of Cooperation
“But what we are now talking about is very different.  Whether people like it or not, the country voted to leave the EU.  And that means we are going to leave the EU.  We are going to be a fully-independent, sovereign country, a country that is no longer part of a political union with supranational institutions that can override national parliaments and courts.  And that means we are going, once more, to have the freedom to make our own decisions on a whole host of different matters, from how we label our food to the way in which we choose to control immigration.”

Brexit Will Happen
“Having voted to leave, I know that the public will soon expect to see, on the horizon, the point at which Britain does formally leave the European Union.  So let me be absolutely clear.  There will be no unnecessary delays in invoking Article Fifty.  We will invoke it when we are ready.  And we will be ready soon.  We will invoke Article Fifty no later than the end of March next year…..”

Flagrant Denial of Dismal Economic Forecasts
“And it has also meant that we have given some certainty to businesses and investors.  Consumer confidence has remained steady.  Foreign investment in Britain has continued.  Employment is at a record high, and wages are on the up.  There is still some uncertainty, but the sky has not fallen in, as some predicted it would: our economy remains strong.”

“I know some people ask about the “trade-off” between controlling immigration and trading with Europe.  But that is the wrong way of looking at things.  We have voted to leave the European Union and become a fully-independent, sovereign country.  We will do what independent, sovereign countries do.  We will decide for ourselves how we control immigration.  And we will be free to pass our own laws. “

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UK IRAQ INQUIRY REPORT RELEASED, FINDS MAJOR FAILURES IN THE DECISION TO JOIN AND FIGHT THE WAR IN IRAQ

UK IRAQ INQUIRY REPORT RELEASED, FINDS MAJOR FAILURES IN THE DECISION TO JOIN AND FIGHT THE WAR IN IRAQ 

By: Harry C. Blaney III

REPORTING FROM LONDON

bush_and_blair_at_camp_david

On July 6th, against the background of the Brexit referendum, the long-awaited report (click here to read) by Sir John Chilcot on the British participation in Iraq War was released after seven years. The Inquiry had approximately 2.6 million words that condemned the British decision to invade and the subsequent conduct of the Iraq War.

The report contained wide-ranging censure of the UK’s decision to enter the Iraq War and also the implementation of that war. It focused on former Prime Minister Tony Blair and UK intelligence reports that led to decisions on the planning and the strategy in Iraq that were made with insufficient debate in Britain. Chilcot said it was an intervention that “was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments.”

Chilcot and the report concluded that Britain went to war on the basis of unreliable intelligence. He added that planning for war was totally inadequate, concluding that there was insufficient debate on the decision.  Chilcot further said that “in March of 2003, there was no imminent threat from the Saddam Hussein regime.” The implication was that the military action taken was not justified.

There was much criticism of the UK intelligence agencies, and in time more will likely come out on this in the UK and with implications also for the US intelligence agencies. Some have said the intelligence reports were flimsy and that MI6 in particular has been highly criticized.

The report found that diplomatic options had not been fully explored before the decision was made to go to war. This is a lesson today for both the UK and the US.

The families of the troops that were killed have supported the report and have both questioned how and why all went wrong in the buildup to war and argued for Blair to pay in some way for the cost of his actions. There has been talk about a legal action either domestically or in an international court. From a legal perspective, that is highly unlikely, however. But emotions will remain for a long time. The media has been exceptionally critical of Blair to the point of imbalance and unfairness, which indicates that the issue has created massive anger and bitterness in Britain.

FORMER PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR RESPONSE TO INQUIRY 
After the release of the report, former Prime Minister Tony Blair held a two hour press conference (coverage linked above) in which he said he did not regret his decision to invade, which he said was the hardest of his term in office. He said he made the initial decision “in good faith,” adding that he “did not have the option to delay in response to the quick decision.” He also said he had more sorrow and regret over the decision than others will ever believe.

In a 2002 memo to Bush, Blair said “I will be with you, whatever.” But he added, which the UK media did not fully report, that he also wrote that all of the difficulties must be examined. He said it was a good act to get rid of Saddam Hussein, but added that they underestimated the potential for subsequent upheavals. There was also criticism in the report that the UK military and intelligence leaders were under-resourced, arguing that the troops did not have the tools to do their best and do it safely.

Blair said that he “will take full responsibility for any mistakes that were taken.” However, he “will not apologize for going to war.” Blair also added “the report makes it clear there [were] no lies.”

Some of the commentators have noted Blair’s efforts to moderate US Policies, which in the end were only partly successful. They noted in particular the effort to go to the UN Security Council to get the authority to go to war, which was stopped by a veto by Russia.

Neither the report nor Blair’s statement will put an end to the politics of this emotional issue for many years. It is still unclear if some kind of general agreement on what took place has finally been reached. I doubt that there will be much relief from the bitterness and acrimony that clouds British politics and society.

SOME ADDED THOUGHTS FOR US ALL
The report and the response by Blair will sadly not lay to rest the criticism or the bitter debate in Britain about the Iraq War. It will continue to influence public and governmental attitudes towards going into conflict situations for a very long time.

In America, this report will likely continue the debate (which has never stopped) over the wisdom of the US decision to go to war in Iraq. That was, in my view, an unforgivable act by the George W. Bush administration and one that was based, as we all know now, on lies and false intelligence reports by our own agencies.

Blair’s most relevant statement for the world of 2016 was that “we do not have the right strategy to deal with terrorism.” That is, as they say, a British understatement. On this Blair is quite right. We all need to re-think our global strategy and it will take a united effort and deep assessment to go forward with new military conflicts. I have argued that we need always to seriously assess the costs before going into conflict situations. Decision makers must consider the consequences of our actions. One clear failure was the poor policies and efforts to deal with the post-conflict need to establish security and ensure a stable government in Iraq. Neither America nor Britain took this problem seriously.

Both the US report (which was critical of many decisions by the Bush administration) and the UK report made it clear that both governments did not understand the high potential costs of their actions. As Chilcot said, the consequences of the war were misjudged. I hope that, in time, these reports and a more historic assessment will compel both nations to make future decisions based on a careful debate on a long-term strategic and moral judgment, as well as look at the facts on the ground. War is always costly and sometimes necessary, but the argument must be made with great care. I hope that we will have more clarity rather than hate and divisions. In the end, we need to make careful decisions that will create a safer world for all.

We welcome you comments!

 

A PERSONAL NOTE ON THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME AND BREXIT

A PERSONAL NOTE ON THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME AND BREXIT

By: Harry C. Blaney III
Reporting from London

David Cameron tours the Somme Exhibition in Thiepval, France and meets a group of British School Children.

Via Gov.UK

On July 1, 1916, Britain, France, and their allies fought in the historic and fierce battle of the Somme. It was the most mutually ruinous battle of World War I. Forces on both sides suffered horrible causalities. The first day of fighting was the most deadly day in British history with 57,470 causalities. On the hundredth anniversary, the ceremony was held at the British cemetery in France with a moving and impressive commemoration featuring all nations that participated 100 years ago. Heads of state and other leaders all came to pay their respects on that sad and tragic field.

The ceremony was one of extraordinary meaning and one could not help but be moved watching it. It was but a few years ago that I walked through the American cemetery overlooking the World War II beaches of Normandy, where the allies gained a foothold on the continent at a great cost. It was clear from my visit that America had made a great commitment for the freedom of Europe in order to ensure that another appalling World War would not face future generations.

What was most moving was the image of the line of tombstones with the music of choirs from Britain, France, Wales, and others including Germany in the background. There were moving remarks by the dignitaries that attended, including Prime Minister David Cameron, President of France Francois Holland, and Charles the Prince of Wales.

I could not but think, however, how peculiar these statements of comradeship, shared goals, and common struggle seemed against the background of the British vote to remove themselves from the inner center of Europe. One great irony of the day was that Cameron, who called the referendum but supported Remain, told the story told of how German troops at the Somme held their fire when a British solder moved through the line of battle to take a British wounded solder off a barbed wire fence.

The Brexit vote has already precipitated the rise of just those forces that so many died to abolish forever. The British vote to cut the ties with their common European brethren – their comrades in arms – just before they commemorated the cost of a war that could have been avoided if only the spirit of unity that created the EU could have found in the summer of 1914. Now those same dark forces are rising out of anger, racism, super-nationalism, and denial of our common humanity, both in Britain and on the continent.

My hope today is that in some way the lessons of the Somme might permeate into the consciousness of both Britain and the nations on the continent before it is too late.

More reports to come, focusing on the British referendum aftershocks, the rise of these divisive forces in Europe, and the resulting disarray of both major parties in British politics.

We welcome your comments!

See our Brexit Page for more up dates.

 

FIVE DAYS ON AND “BREXIT” STILL UNRAVELS EUROPE AND BRINGS DISUNITY

FIVE DAYS ON AND “BREXIT” STILL UNRAVELS EUROPE AND BRINGS DISUNITY

By: Harry C. Baney III
REPORTING FROM LONDON

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Despite a bit of stability in the stock and exchange markets, the Brexit vote continues to bring a downward spiral of bitter arguments, disunity between and within political parties, acts of racial hatred in Britain, growing uncertainty about both the strength and even unity of Britain, and questions of Europe’s durability as a democratic and cohesive bloc and as a strong partner in solving global challenges. The impact on the unity of the West is a fundamental turning point or, as one leader said, an “existential moment.”

Wednesday’s House of Commons debate was particularly corrosive, an atmosphere engendered by the narrow vote that split the principle parties themselves. The recriminations have created an atmosphere of bitterness and distress that will be long lasting, unless both parties elect a leader who pushes for unity. In the House, Prime Minister Cameron debate even told Corbyn to “go,” which is not in keeping with the spirit or decorum of this institution. Cameron said – in typical understated British fashion – that there will be “choppy waters” ahead. He made it clear the coming negotiations will not be easy.

The Brexit vote has split both of Britain’s major political parties. Jeremy Corbyn recently lost a no-confidence vote 172-40. Already several Labour party MP’s have put forth their names to replace Corbyn. While they may share his vision for a more equitable social program, his opponents feel that Corbyn can’t win the next general election for the party. If this conflict drags on, it may destroy the party as an alternative. Even if Corbyn loses the party Parliamentary vote, he has the right to call for a vote by its public paid active members that could deliver a win for the Labour leader. The division threatens to split the party, which could be ruinous for an effective opposition party in the UK.

The Conservative Party (Tory Party) is going through its own destructive process in search of a new party leader and likely Prime Minister after David Cameron announced he would stand down. The vote has placed a major wedge in the Tory party between those that supported the Leave Campaign like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove and those that backed the Remain Campaign. Johnson officially withdrew his name from consideration on Thursday, leaving Gove and Home Secretary Theresa May There (who supported the Remain Campaign) as the most likely successors to Cameron. Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox, and Andrea Lawson will also run for PM. The party got itself in this mess, but does not seem to know how to get out of it.

The Continent also seems to sense uncertainty. Cameron went to the EU meeting Tuesday, but was excluded from a Wednesday meeting. He tried to make the case that Britain would still be a good partner in Europe, but to little effect. Statements by EU leaders after that meeting was clear, the “Four Freedoms” – movement of money, goods, services, and peoples – can’t be compromised in any deal with the UK. This directly counters the likely most important demand by a new UK government to limit the number of people coming to the UK from the EU. A key leader of the EU said: “If you are out you are out.”

But the reality is that Europe is also in perilous situation because of its disarray. The simple fact is that Euro-skeptic, racist, nationalist, and even fascist parties and leaders (such as Marine Le Pen in France) are taking advantage of the Brexit to push their own agendas. Parties in EU nations hope to dissolve the EU and come to power on programs and hatreds that bring back sentiments of the 1930s. This disarray brings glee to just those forces that a democratic Europe was supposed to be a bastion against, such as Putin’s Russia that hopes to weaken the EU and NATO. This is not just a European problem, but also a threat also to the entire Atlantic community and to the common strategic and economic aims of building a strong, democratic, and peaceful Europe.

To give just a few examples of those that wish ill of European unity the following will give a hint of the risks and darkness ahead:

Nigel Farage, a Member of the EU Parliament (believe it or not) who leads the far right anti-immigrant UK Independence Party and supported the Leave Campaign said on Tuesday in that parliament: “You as a political project are in denial. You’re in denial that your currency is failing. Just look at the Mediterranean! As a policy to impose poverty on Greece and the Mediterranean you’ve done very well.  You’re in denial over Mrs. Merkel’s call for as many people as possible to cross the Mediterranean – which has led to massive divisions between within countries and between countries. The biggest problem you’ve got and the main reason the UK voted the way it did is because you have by stealth and deception, and without telling the truth to the rest of the peoples of Europe, you have imposed upon them a political union…What I’d like to see is a grownup and sensible attitude to how we negotiate a different relationship. I know that virtually none of you have never done a proper job in your lives, or worked in business, or worked in trade, or indeed ever created a job. But listen, just listen…Even no deal is better for the United Kingdom is better than the current rotten deal that we’ve got.  But if we were to move to a position where tariffs were reintroduced on products like motorcars then hundreds of thousands of German works would risk losing their jobs. Why don’t we be grown up, pragmatic, sensible, realistic and let’s cut between us a sensible tariff-free deal and thereafter recognize that the United Kingdom will be your friend, that we will trade with you, cooperate with you, we will be your best friends in the world. Do that, do it sensibly, and allow us to go off and pursue our global ambitions and future.”

While Putin has been diplomatic about the subject, only saying that he “would like to stress yet again that the so-called Brexit is the choice of the British people, we did not interfere with this process and are not tampering with it in anyway,” other Russian leaders were quick to express their delight at the result.

The leader of Russia’s nationalist Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky, said “Britain has voted to leave the European Union and I think others will follow suit…NATO, the Schengen Agreement, and the euro will fall apart. So hail the Russian Ruble and the development of relations between Russia and the democratic nations of Europe.”

The Kremlin’s small-business ombudsman Boris Titov said in a Facebook post that “it seems it has happened — UK out!!! In my opinion, the most important long-term consequence of all this is that the exit will take Europe away from the Anglo-Saxons, meaning from the USA. It’s not the independence of Britain from Europe, but the independence of Europe from the USA,” he wrote. And it’s not long until a united Eurasia — about 10 years.”

More words of joy came from the French National Front Party leader Marie Le Pen who is leading in a majority of polls to be the next President, arguing in a New York Times editorial that a “People’s Spring” is imminent and that more countries, including France, should abandon the EU in favor of “freedom.”

The vote was praised by Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, and Vladimir Putin. No wonder the fear, uncertainty, and nervousness characterizes much of the world!

Future posts from London will look at the underlying reasons here for both the UK vote and why there is so much anger and despair in Britain and Europe. The financial recession and government reactions to it have precipitated an increase in poverty, inequality, and therefore a rise of latent xenophobia.

See the Brexit Page for continued coverage.

We welcome your comments. 

 

A BREXIT VOTE OF GLOBAL CONSEQUENCES: ITS MORE CHAOS AND DISUNITY

A BREXIT VOTE OF GLOBAL CONSEQUENCES: ITS MORE CHAOS AND DISUNITY

By: Harry C. Blaney III

Reporting from London

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A BREXIT VOTE OF GLOBAL CONSEQUENCES: ITS MORE CHAOS AND DISUNITY

By: Harry C. Blaney III

The UK vote to leave the European Union by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent to stay has already created great costs to the UK and much of the rest of the world on every level – economic, political and security. The impact has already been sizable and more effects will undoubtedly continue to come as nations and people evaluate the real implications of this historic, massive, unnecessary, and tragic act.

The truth is that Britain is a badly split nation and the margin of winning was indeed small, despite the Leave campaign claiming it was large. There are inherent dangers to taking such a dramatic move that did not garner the support of the vast majority of people. There is speculation that many people, including those that did not vote, did not want to leave. A petition for a re-vote already has over 3.6 million signatures. We may see still a major fight yet over the future of Britain in Europe and the world, as well as the future of the UK itself. Leaders in both Scotland and Northern Ireland have implied that referenda on their future as part of the UK could be coming soon. These problems will be complicated by the leadership struggles that currently plague both the Conservative (Tory) Party and the Labour Party.

One of the major lessons for the vote was that, at its heart, it was a protest and demonstrated a sense of disaffection by working class and some older citizens who feel that their well-being has been neglected, and by those who believed the intolerant cries of far right leaders like the UK Independence Party and MP Boris Johnson, the likely Tory candidate for the new Prime Minister.

It is estimated that 62 percent of Labour voters voted to Remain while a third of Labour voters chose Leave, largely because of immigration fears, unhappiness about their declining living standards, and anger at the EU hyped by the partisan media and the Leave Campaign. Voters also understandably blame the UK political establishment for their situation, especially on jobs, education, the decline on health care, and immigration. The Labour Party has already faced a leadership challenge with MPs calling for a confidence motion against Jeremy Corbyn, who said that he was going nowhere at a press conference in London. Corbyn also noted that there is a need for a new look at international relations.

The aim of the Leave campaign was to direct anger against the EU, not against the Tories. However, the EU is not to blame at all for the plight of their voters.  Another issue Leavers hit at was a “loss of control” and “sovereignty” at the hands of Europe.  Interestingly, Leave voters were largely right-wing Euro-skeptic Conservatives and far-right party supporters, although some of the faces of the campaign were the well-educated and wealthy like Boris Johnson and the conservative media.

Sadiq Khan, the new Mayor of London, made the case for keeping close ties to Europe and wanting to find a path forward that does not disadvantage London as Britain’s London-based financial sector. He campaigned in London for staying.

Many Remain voters are very upset over the results, not just those in London, but also voters in Scotland and young voters. The many negative impacts already being felt. The question here in London is what can be done to reverse this decision, as seen by the petition for a re-vote. Few think this is possible, but many want a reversal. I think this tug of war will not go away anytime soon.

Outside Britain, Europeans are very unhappy and troubled over the results. The EU is torn between wanting to protect the UK’s trade position but also does not want other nations that have Euro-skeptic and anti-immigrant movements to take the British example and leave. Marine Le Pen in France has already also for an “out” referendum.  The EU Commission leaders do not want the negotiations to be left in “limbo.” It seems that most of the EU nations wants to start negotiations “immediately.”


While much of Europe wants to move toward negotiations as soon as possible, German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants time to think, consider, and not “be nasty” in the negotiating the implications of Britain’s exit and finding the best path forward. Already EU nations are thinking of how to take economic advantage of the situation for their narrow interests. Some of the European leaders want a quick resolution, as they said it would be in the interest of both sides. Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will stay on until October, when the Tory party will meet to choose a new leader who will lead the nation in negotiations out of the EU over the two years, as stipulated by the EU Treaty Clause 50. So things might get nasty between Britain and Europe and no one will be a winner.

As a dear friend in London wrote to me in summary: “Europe takes this very seriously.  France and Germany, in particular, are aware that the EU is much more than an economic union.  It was designed also to prevent the kind of differences which lead to two disastrous World Wars in the 20th c.  Already, on the morning after the vote, the right wing Dutch party is calling for a referendum there, as is Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far right Front National party in France.  If this move takes down all of Europe, there will be Hell to pay. “

On the strategic side, Vladimir Putin has stated his delight over the British exit and sees it as perhaps his major victory in his path to divide and fundamentally weaken West Europe and the EU, and for that matter undermine NATO.

Global markets have already suffered major damage and predictions show that Britain and other EU nations will see less economic growth than they would otherwise enjoy. Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s downgraded Britain’s credit rating from AAA to AA. The London Stock Exchange dropped an additional 2.55 percent on Monday, doubling down on Friday’s downward spiral.

 

Already there are predictions of major shock waves around the world and a reassessment of British relations toward Britain and the EU. Not least is the American reaction, led by President Obama that although the decision would not change the “special relationship,” Britain would still be in the back of the queue in trade negotiations. Secretary of State John Kerry is currently in London to reassure Britain that relations will continue to be strong between the US and UK, saying “We will continue, the United States, to have a very close and special relationship with Great Britain. We value that relationship. That does not change because of this vote” in Italy on Sunday.  

Frankly, I think there will undoubtedly be major changes in the priority of American focus with a weakened Britain, out of Europe, with Scotland looking for its independence and a restive North Ireland. In Europe, the UK will be considered a lesser part of the core European decision-making system. The Leave campaign saying it would not is just disingenuous.

Finally, the impact has already been a major disaster for Britain. Global stock markets have crashed, as over two trillion dollars have already been lost. The Scottish Prime Minister is already motioning for an independence referendum and is moving to negotiate directly with the EU for a possible special status within the EU.

The nation is divided and at war with itself; financial firms in London are likely to be either greatly diminished and may even move abroad; Britain will have lower influence with the U.S.; and the UK may possibly dissolve. Not a bad day of work for “Little England” Euro-skeptics and the super-nationalists and racist groups that supported this madness.  For the rest of the world, it is an unmitigated disaster in a world that already has high risks.

More on the implications in post over the next week from London.

We welcome your comments, see the box below to have a chance for your say!

Go to our Brexit page for a full page of key sources, facts and developments in this historic act.

 

BREAKING: BRITAIN CHOOSES LEAVE

The United Kingdom voted Thursday to leave the European Union, by a margin of 51.9% to 49.1%.  The vote is sure to have major short- and long-term consequences for both the UK and the European Union.  As seen in the map below, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly for Remain while England (outside of London) and Wales voted to Leave.

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Via the Huffington Post

For up-to-the-minute coverage, please see our Brexit Page.  Harry’s take on the historic vote to come.