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Tag: Trump

Closed Society Foundation

  • July 2018
  • Admin

Closed Society Foundation

Bannon to open far-right think tank

The two presidents gave a speech after their negotiation in front of the White House. Even if they were working hard to sell as a victory the pure fact that after many hours of negotiation they agreed to continue the negotiations, the two guys couldn’t have been more different. US leader Donald Trump used an overly-simplified langue: limited vocabulary, short sentences and strong accent on some of the very basic words in order to make the message pass through.

But even if European Commission President Jean-Clause Juncker spoke with a light French accent revealing he’s not a native speaker, he looked far more eloquent and intelligent with well-composed sentences and finely chosen expressions. One could really see the difference between a real politician and an outsider, who made his success by telling again the real politicians.

As Trump proves it over and again, one can easily win elections by shouting oversimplified lies against certain groups of the society, but when it comes to actual governance and diplomacy, the emotional rhetoric is simply not sufficient anymore. Even if he arrived in a hostile environment, the political veteran and wise Juncker easily achieved what he wanted. Trump might try to sell the “deal of the no-deal” as his victory, but in fact it is Juncker who won. Not only this battle, but precious time for the EU to work out its trade policy and not to be suffocated by retaliatory taxes and customs.

But we just can’t lie back cheering over the triumph of classical European politics. Trump’s media strategist and ally-enemy-ally Steve Bannon announced to open a far-right think tank in Brussels in order to prepare for the 2019 European Parliament elections. In an interview to the Daily Beast, he blatantly explained that the aims to promote an alternative for American financier-philanthrope and the populist’s favourite scapegoat George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, which promotes the values of liberal democracy. Bannon is willing to give election advice to Eurosceptic and far-right parties.

God save us from Bannon’s strategical media advice because he is hilarious. He has already proved itself to get elected the most incompetent and less trustworthy president of American history. In my nightmares, I see Marine Le Pen, the Spitzenkandidat of a new far-right political group to taking Juncker’s chair over. Referring to his German family ties, she would hire Nigel Farage as her chief of cabinet, who would soon kick out Martin Selmayr from his highly disputed position of secretary general. The delegation from the AfD would change offices with the remaining CDU MEPs, given the German far-right significantly outnumber the Christian Democrats. Hungarian government party Fidesz and their Polish friend Law and Justice would join the new far-right EP political group, just like the Italian MEPs representing the Lega or 5 Stelle and the Dutch populists spreading the words of Geert Wilders. At the first plenary, they propose full membership to Turkey, hoping that with the new MEPs from Erdogan’s AKP they would get the two-thirds majority in the Parliament, just copying the well-working Hungarian recipe.

But it’s time to stop here because I have good news. Far-right and/or populist parties can achieve impressive results if backed by witty and immoral media caesars like Bannon. But their success story stops at the night when the election victory is announced. They build their promises on selfishness and hatred, which is of course very appealing for the human nature. But this mentality prevents them from cooperation and compromise, which is the basis of well-functioning politics. No matter how genius he is, Bannon’s “Closed Society Foundation” won’t be able to reconcile the populists and promoters of illiberal democracy and make them work together in peace. Therefore they won’t ever be able to govern Europe. Just like Trump is unable to lead the US.

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Trump meets Putin

  • July 2018
  • Andrea Lotesoriere

Trump meets Putin

What does that have to do with Europe?

 

Source of the photo: Reuters

 

Right after the NATO summit, President Donald Trump scheduled a very important meeting with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin. This comes in the midst of the so-called Russiagate, dealing with the alleged meddling of the Kremlin in the 2016 US general elections. They chose an EU country to meet, but a historically neutral one—Finland.

 

But what could they have discussed in the long two-hour meeting and what does it mean for Europe? First of all, the very fact that they met is already a good deal for Putin. For Trump, these bi-lateral meetings that he likes compared to the big G-7 or G-20 ones, where the US political and economic weight gets diluted, are intrinsically giving his interlocutor the status of equal and raising him to the level of the “Leader of the free world”. Of course, he’s not the first nor the last American president that will meet with another leader, but it highlights the fact that Putin’s geopolitical strategy is working and that Russia still plays a major role in the political world.

 

Having said that, we know for sure that Putin’s experience in politics runs much deeper than Trump and that he has absolute control over the decision-making process, or at least the geopolitical one. Trump, on the other hand, even without being overly enthusiastic in preparing for these meetings, can count on the absolute dominance of the US in economic, military and geopolitical terms but has to deal with the fact that he cannot promise too much, since Congress is effectively the true holder of power in the US.  Nevertheless, we can imagine two crucial requests from the US president: first, to limit Iran’s presence in Syria. At the moment the US are very much focused on limiting Persian influence in the Middle East, which is something Russia is very keen on doing already but it’s complicated by the fact that they know very well they couldn’t have achieved (or maintained) much in Syria without Iran’s support. Second, and this is of more direct interest to us Europeans, Trump asked Putin to cool off the already pretty cold relationship with Germany. The two nations do not like each other and that’s no news, but regardless, their relationship is co-dependent as evidenced by the fact that they are willing to strain the relationship with Eastern Europe in order to complete the Nord-Stream 2 pipeline, bypassing the east and linking the German market directly with Russia. This relationship, or better the potential of it, is what has worried the United States since the end of World War 2. At the moment, the White House is at odds with the EU that, for an American “pet project,” they now feel has become too functional for Germany and this could greatly affect the balance that the US has kept in the Continent for 70 years. For this reason, Trump has chosen Germany in particular as his target, as he feels it is the one he could have the greatest effect on, since the export-lead economy of Berlin (we are talking about over 40% of the GDP in export) could suffer greatly by the proposed tariffs while the US economy exports only account to around 11%. This means that it’s Germany that needs the current world order more and that the retaliations could only partially affect the US. The disproportion between the two is what the US are exploiting at the moment and, it seems, successfully so.

 

This is, from what I can tell at least, the scenario in which European/NATO countries have to play in. While Jean-Claude Juncker and many other have promised “tit for tat” retaliatory tariffs on the US, it is clear that the whole EU as it stands still greatly relies on the goodwill of the other global actors and, of course, lamed by its own internal instability, imbalances and power dynamics. Having realized they cannot count on the US anymore, it’s a given—but the situation is more grave than that: the US is not going to merely be less supportive of the EU, they could (and do) very much make the integration process more difficult on top of all the other destabilizing factors and players already. So if the ally overseas is not much of an ally anymore, that doesn’t mean we should jump straight to enemy. The US is still the most powerful country on the planet by a long shot and it can do much to damage an already fragile equilibrium. Of course it’s also in their interest to maintain stability in the continent, but a small rocking of the boat is already enough to make people jump ships. Keep steady, acknowledge the situation, and act accordingly.

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The Unstable Stability

  • July 2018
  • Edo Katanic

The Unstable Stability

On the NATO Summit

 

Source: Reuters

 

What to say after an intense week of politics and football? While the English team failed to achieve their 52-year old dream of winning the World Cup, some dreamers of other sorts took the stages to discuss international politics and security. The arrival of US President Donald Trump, a highly controversial figure per se, guaranteed that things on the annual summit of NATO allies will be very interesting. President Trump announced that he will be demanding that every NATO member starts spending 2 % of their GDP on defence, whether they like it or not, and that the other allies owe money to the US for many years of spending on their protection.

 

As everyone would have probably expected, things in the NATO discussions did not go very smoothly from the start. European Council President Donald Tusk made it clear on the favourite social media tool of US President, that the EU is a reliable partner, which is spending on defence much more than Russia and as much as China. In his press statement, Tusk went even further by elaborating that US President Trump is not appreciating his allies. It was a clear fight to set to tone and the agenda of the NATO summit, and it was first class media material.

 

 

Source: BBC

 

It is known so far that most of the NATO members are still not very close to the 2 percent GDP defence expenditures, but obviously it is not the same case with a small member state and an economic giant. Speaking of economic giants, Germany was on the frontline of attacks by President Trump, who said that basically Germany is controlled by Russia. Trump was referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline deal between Germany and Russia, which is also not seen favourably among some circles in the EU as well.

 

Germany depends on Russian gas and the Nord Stream 2 would increase the Russian influence in Europe. President Trump did not rant against Germany as a country, but as a symbol of the European Union as a certain set of norms and political values, which is why he has a visible distaste for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The German Government is not used to this type of behaviour, so it is still looking for ways how to address this issue.

 

In the end, Trump’s press conferences and conversations with journalists are truly becoming something one would like to see live. With the star of the show calling the shots, NATO’s decision to invite FYROM/North Macedonia to become a NATO member ended up being quite marginalised. When pressed with journalist questions, President Trump seems to communicate one thing, and then on Twitter he states something completely different.

 

Dedication of the NATO members to start spending 2 percent of GDP on defence by 2024 leaves a certain satisfaction to President Trump, who is already announcing that the long-term goal should be 4 percent. The Guardian already called the summit “two days of mayhem”, and it remains to be seen will this “mayhem” be continued on. However, there is a very long period before 2024, and by then, someone else could be sitting in The White House. At least that is what many would have liked.

 

 

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A smack in the mouth

  • June 2018
  • Admin

A smack in the mouth

Despite his intention, Trump might save European unity

 

 

Source of the photo: dpa

“He needs a sense of tactical decisions and a plan of how he’ll reach his targets”, said Henry Kissinger right after the election of President Donald Trump in 2016. One of the greatest diplomatic figures, as well as the rest of the world, was shocked that this type of person could have been elected. But there was still some hope that Trump’s 5-year-old-boy-like behaviour would change once entering into power. Well, in light of last weekend’s G7 summit and Trump’s historical meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in Singapore, we don’t have to delude ourselves with these hopes anymore.

 

As boxing champion Mike Tyson said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”. Well, Trump doesn’t have any, and it clearly saves him from any inconveniences in negotiations with his counterparts. When he needed to talk face-to-face with “Angela and Emmanuel”, Donald remained nice and rather silent. To be honest, he has neither the mental capacity, nor the knowledge on the given issues, that he would be able to enter into a real debate or negotiation with the other leaders. But after leaving the room, he says, or even worse, tweets, whatever comes to his mind, blowing up in seconds the outcome of several days of hard work and leaving Angela and Emmanuel speechless. Because, of course, they had a plan.

 

Donald’s real partner is undoubtedly Jong-Un. They simply went into a closed-door meeting, talked about what came to their mind, and communicated whatever they wanted after, with an absence of any records or written notes of their exchange. Trump declared to the Americans that North Korea will engage into nuclear disarmament. Kim announced to North Koreans that the USA will lift the sanctions. Similar to the lack of objective truth in Trump’s elections campaign or the Korean dictators brainwashing propaganda, there isn’t an objective and transparent reality of their way of conducting diplomacy. But these guys, who a year ago entertained themselves by playing the who-has-bigger-nukes game, still have buttons to push if they get pissed off. Which is more than frightening.

 

But hoping that it would never happen, this insanity can also be perceived as an incentive for European unity. First, Europeans voters might realize how dangerous it can be to elect someone who embodies populism and pursues post-truth politics. I don’t want to be naïve, but I still hope that Trump will mean a wake-up call for EU citizens to think twice whose promises they would trust. Secondly, European leaders might also recognize the real meaning behind their responsibilities to seek trustworthy politics.

 

I am very far from supporting any of Trump’s endlessly simplified slogans. But he seems to be right with one thing: the European countries’ defence budget and Europe’s blind trust on the US’s generosity. The same Western European leaders who warn their Eastern counterparts that the days when they could rebuild their economies on EU cohesion funds are over, should remind themselves that the post-WWII era is over. Europe is not in ruins anymore and the US is not obliged to ensure forever the European security.

 

So, it sounds a bit dramatic when German Chancellor Angele Merkel or her Minster of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas talk about a Post-Atlantic Europe and an era when Europe can’t rely anymore on the partnership with the US. “Donald Trump’s egotistical politics of ‘America First’, Russia’s attacks on international law and state sovereignty, the expansion of gigantic China: the world order we were used to – it no longer exists”, said minister Maas. He is completely right. Europe needs to face the truth and find unity.

 

The recently leaked election campaign strategy of the European People’s Party fits well into this narrative. They propose to set up a European army by 2030, build border fences and employ 10,000 European border guards. Albeit this campaign promise targets the voters who are afraid of more migrants coming to Europe, it also shows that the idea of building a stronger EU foreign and defence can be a base for compromise among European countries, and an appealing issue to raise the EU’s legitimacy among voters.

 

So, after all, Trump might do something good for Europe with his smack in the mouth: create a new plan and finally find a compromise.

 

 

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