Thursday, December 21, 2017

Collapsing levels

The confusing of or rather collapse between levels of politics is another sign of the decline. Rulers which themselves lack these skills and at the same time try to maneuver without experienced people having them, make serious misjudgements. Politics in the media is one thing, diplomacy is another. What governments say in public and what they in fact do are different things.

The US economic threats against countries voting for the UN resolution criticizing the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel is an example of the lack of distinguishing between such levels. It feels like banalities to say this: Obviously Middle Eastern governments must publicly condemn the US decision on Jerusalem and support the UN resolution without this meaning bigger changes in de facto politics.

If a US president and his people can not tell the difference between media statements, diplomacy and real politics, then the daily tweets get even more threatening.

The American threats are also signs of the new arrogant rude way of seeing even allied countries. They are treated as subordinate.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Extreme Decisions

One of the consequences of the emerging populism in ruling politics and the shallowing of the nations is taking extreme decisions. Of course this concerns both small and big countries. But such decisions are mostly interesting in bigger powers. In this case the consequences of the decisions are global.

The world has now three times followed live transmissions of major announcements by President Trump, the leaving of the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal and now the disastrous decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel. On issues where he cannot alone make policy changes, the president has had a less smooth start. But now the tax reform seem to succeed in collaboration with the Republicans. The other three mentioned decisions also have wide Republican support. Thus Trump succeeds when he is in agreement with his party. And in such cases the decisions are ominous. 

These 4 decisions are examples of what I call extreme decisions. They go beyond what was typical before the present political decline. Moderation from politicians, diplomats and experts hampered irresponsible decisions from presidents, PMs and parliaments like Congress.  Decisions were generally not too far away from the average of politics and societal practises. Perhaps the policies of Thatcher and Reagan were the first sign of more extreme departures. But they could still be accommodated. Generally mature modernity was characterized by not too big deviations from the point of political equilibrium. Decisions were moderate. Of course radical new thinking was possible, but it was often based on considerable insight, and above all, it reduced problems and tensions.

The buffering effect is now reduced. Decisions become extreme. They do not solve problems, but instead disturb the equilibrium and harmony in side nations and if made by greater powers they disturb int'l equilibrium, co-existence and peace. Decisions are based on rigid ideological unmoderated attitudes, not on societal needs, or they are simply a wish to destroy the work of the predecessor from the other political side.

I will not comment all the 4 US decisions. Millions have done this already. I will limit myself to a few general points. The tax reform with its colossal budget deficit will necessitate major cuts. With the present majority and the current president, these cuts will no doubt hit the poor. The removed funding for Obama-care already shows the way. Such extreme decisions without recent precedence will lead to the opposite measures when majorities and presidents shift . And such counter-measures risks being equally extreme and unprecedented. A pendulum with extreme amplitude is set in motion.   Social and political tension and unrest will rise. Not least the socially challenged will react when pressed by extreme decisions from the right wing of politics. Policies seen in greater perspective will be inconsistent and will weaken the United States globally.

Concerning the decision on Jerusalem, this has already been commented in brilliant analyses. I will just once more point to the striking parallels between on the one hand the Middle East today with the hatred against the Western civilization in general and the United States in particular and on the other hand the hatred against Rome two thousand years ago in the same region. The same violence from states and terrorists against the overwhelming cultural and military dominance of another foreign civilization and its strongest power. Paradoxically it was the Jews who then were the "terrorists" fighting Roman soldiers and civilians in Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean. Tens of thousands of Roman civilians are said to have been killed. On the state level Mithridates of Pontos in 88 BC killed 80.000 Romans. Today we see comparable levels of hatred against the Americans in the Middle East. The US decision on Jerusalem will certainly not reduce this. Rather, if it is not accompanied by a massive and effective pressure on Israel to reduce the existing settlements in the West Bank and agree on a two states solution, it will as pointed out by many, lead to more terrorism. Al Qaeda and ISIS could be strengthened. New groups dedicated to revenge Al Quds may emerge.
Whole modernity is filled with internal and int'l conflicts and tensions. An important role for interior politics has always been to navigate carefully in this, calm tensions and solve conflicts. If not for other purposes, then in order to strengyhen the power of ones country.

Internationally seen today the world is too full of intertwined complicated conflicts, and modern warfare is so dangerous that stirring up tensions and war is stupid. One should only do such things if one has insight into the consequences and the power to control them completely. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ethnic cleansing in Yemen

But perhaps that is what he wants. You begin to have a suspicion that the new leader in Riyadh wants to carry out an ethnic cleansing of the southern neighbor. I have earlier written how the Oriental nations as part of the cultural westernization are under transformation from their old patchwork pattern to coherent western type territorial nations (see my post "Ethnic Cleansing in the Arab World").  This process entails ethnic cleansings, which began with the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. We may be seeing a new example of this in Yemen.  The Saudi treatment of the Yemenis is beginning to look like the Turkish treatment of the Armenians 100 years ago: putting them in a condition where they are not only killed, but also starved.

The continued blockade of the harbor of Hodeidah under control of the Shia rebels shows  a hatred against the parts of the population in areas under rebel dominance. After the warnings by the UN, the Red Cross etc. nobody in Saudi Arabia can be in doubt about the consequences of the war, the bombings and the new blockade: the population will be decimated. If the measures continue, it follows that these consequences are wanted. Therefore we will have not only an ethnic cleansing, but an ethnic cleansing in its worst version: Genocide. And this even an indiscriminate one as not only Houthis, but also many Sunnis will die.

Kill them all. For the Lord knows those that are His own

Friday, November 10, 2017

Royal Decline

More and more countries are affected by the political decline. Fortunately this has limited direct global impact as long as the countries are small. Hungary, Austria, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden etc. are gradually degrading into banana republics. The decline of such small countries is only indirectly a global problem because it affects the functioning of the EU. Decline in single countries is a direct problem if the countries are big and important. Good examples are of course the United States, the UK and Turkey.

But the political decline does not only affect democracies. The Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman has won praise for letting women drive a car and promising reforms. But he is also behind the isolation of Qatar and the suppression of Al Jazeera known for its freer flow of information. He is also behind a harder line against Iran. And what is worst, he is behind the brutal campaign in Yemen.

Clearly also the Houthi rebels and Iran contribute to the suffering in Yemen. But it is Saudi Arabia which bombs civilians, hospitals and schools. Actions which if carried out by the Syrian government are widely condemned by the west.

Already before the last weak the consequences for the population of Yemen were disastrous. Now with the blockade after the Houthi missile attack large parts of the population are threatened with starvation.

Especially the Western powers with their huge deliveries of weapons to the Saudis have a big responsibility for stopping the war against the Yemeni population.

Also Saudi accusations against Iran are a dangerous escalation. The risk of major regional conflict are increased this way. An experienced diplomat like old Sheik Yamani would hardly have behaved this way. The Crown Prince is also campaigning against corruption - or is it against opponents? Today even corrupt but responsible leaders are better than an irresponsible one.

As ever more leaders of this type, democratic or royal, dominate important countries, the more dangerous a place the world will be.

This is worsened by the general tendency for leaders to ignore and overrule experience, experts and diplomats. Exchanging the members of the diplomacy and employees of the foreign ministry or hiring businessmen and military officers for important posts are all examples of how the buffers between sentiment and dangerous actions are removed. Deep states are becoming shallow states. A shallow mini-state is mainly a problem for its own inhabitants who are fooled to vote for it. A shallow powerful state is a global problem. Several shallow powers is a global disaster.  Very small perceived or real provocations can trigger conflicts, and these can easily trigger wars in cyberspace or on the battlefield.

Prince bin Salman risks to be known in the future as the butcher of Yemen. Neither Islamic historians, nor God the Merciful will look benevolently at a man who shows no mercy.

Friday, October 6, 2017

War Is Merely the Continuation of Policy by Other Means

War Is Merely the Continuation of Policy by Other Means - it’s not the other way round

This quote by the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz is a statement valid for all history. War is used when the political means are judged insufficient. But the quote assumes an especially ominous meaning in the end of modernities. As often said, politics tend to decline in these phases. Skills, intuition and  instincts are lost. Experience is despised. And this is true for both internal and external politics. Diplomatic experience and skill are also lost. 

Because of this erosion of political abilities, politics quickly come to a failure. Also, because of the reduced political judgement, this situation is perceived as being the case, before it needs to be. Thus Clausewitz’ continuation with the help of war is reached more quickly. The threshold is lower. Therefore, in the late declining modernities politics and diplomacy is more and more often replaced by war. This is added to the already frequent wars in most modernities. Examples are many. Just look at the first Mesopotamian modernity ending with the victory of Hammurabi. Or the civil wars in the late Roman Republic or those in Bagdad 1000 years ago. 

In our case the terror balance has prevented major wars since WW 2. We could hope that this could also help us now, where politics is failing and the continuation with war is more likely. But 1) The big war and Hiroshima is far behind and with the dwindling interest in history and old experience, the deterrence from the horrendous memories is reduced. And 2) Anti missile defense systems are deployed giving the dangerously false impression, that a nuclear attack can be effectively shielded against. Finally 3) The fact that smaller countries are possessing nuclear weapons systems of naturally smaller size, makes the danger of all destroying retaliations seem limited. These considerations are valid for both the use of nuclear weapons and for the use of conventional warfare against countries possessing nuclear warheads.

War is the continuation of diplomacy with other means. Even more if diplomacy fails easier today, it should at least be tried. Stepping up the conflict with a North Korean dictator with nuclear weapons and at the same time ending negotiations declaring them a waste of time is incredibly stupid. And nullifying the result of years of hard diplomatic negotiations ending Iran’s nuclear ambitions is almost even worse. 

In these cases war seems not to be the continuation of diplomacy. It could seem to be the first choice instead of diplomacy. What do you want? Increase tension with Pyongyang till a war is started, risking the loss of Seoul’s inhabitants and with the prospect of the involvement of China?! Let Iran resume its nuclear program and then bomb it?!

Modern warfare is too dangerous to not be avoided. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Separatism and Decline

We have in the last weeks seen examples of countries where parts try to break away. Those Catalans able or willing to vote, voted overwhelmingly for independence, and a formal declaration of independence may follow. Only the clumsiness and lack of political skill of the leaderships in Barcelona and not least Madrid has let it come this far. The whole process is just one more sign of the declining levels of politics in the developed world.

Scotland and the UK have both handled a similar process admirably well. But the development in the political level in London after the Ridiculous Brexit vote and the recent general elections are not promising. Theresa May is an amateur. A Boris Johnson as prime minister would be really bad. President Trump will not save the UK from a hard Brexit any more than he helped Puerto Rico.

In Europe the Schengen passport union is crumbling under the pressure not from refugees which are not arriving any longer, but from the pressure from irrational fears of the foreigners, fueled by populist politicians. Moslems and East-europeans are pictured as the root of all evil. Denmark is stationing troops at its border to Germany, where almost no refugees arrive. Social Democracies are dying around Europe. Their only hope for survival seems to be to adopt racist terminology.

The EU is more necessary than ever in a time where politics are degrading into particularism and short sighted decisions. Under such circumstances big powers keeping united and maintaining stability easily gain the upper hand. So Macron is right in wanting a strengthened EU. But such a strengthening must be carried out under guidance of reality and realism. Economic differences and populations which don’t like Brussels are major obstacles which must be carefully handled. But clearly an effort should be made. Historically seen in the end phase of modernities like the present, it is typical that the homogenous powers win over countries split within and between themselves. In the first Chinese modernity, the Warring States period, the state of Qin (in the west) won because the Chinese versions of the EU, the so-called Vertical Alliances (North-South Alliances) did not manage to keep united. In the Arab modernity the Seljuks won over the Abbasids and the local dynasties because of chaotic fights between the political parties in Bagdad and because the different countries were split. Etc. etc. But  there is little hope that countries in the EU which are closing their borders between them, being torn by separatism or being divided politically between North and South and East and West, can offer much resistance to economic, cultural and cyber-pressure.

Germany just celebrated its day of unity. In the recent elections the far right populists in the AFD scored a certain success winning 12 % of the votes. I have earlier praised Germany as a last major bastion of stability in the developed world. Has this ended? No not yet. Many of the votes for this new party came from the former East Germany. With the AFD West Germany is paying the price for a unification which without a gradual transition simply closed or sold the East German industry and resulted in this part of the country staying underdeveloped and losing people to the West and the big cities. In this respect the AFD can be seen as an East German separatism. The AFD also got votes in South Germany, but this region, not least Bavaria has never reached the North European degree of political maturity.

Therefore if we look at Western Germany, the mature political system is still continuing. The population has been struck by a certain fear of the refugees, which may be no wonder after the influx of one million. There can be little doubt that such large influxes of people can increase resentments and turn more people towards populism. Because of this real political consideration and not as in Denmark because of racism, an influx of refugees per time can not be limitless. But still, in Germany people have been mature enough to vote for the mature parties in the recent elections.

Worrying signs exist though. In German  elections we see large shifts in votes between parties. People are often more interested in personalities than policies. Young people are often led mostly by short superficial messages on the Web and from YouTube stars praising products and transient sentiments. Only an effort to educate the population can ensure long term stability. The problem is that not only economics have become globalized. Via the Internet the control of peoples minds has also slipped out of the hands of the old medias and the old political parties.

This development worsens the fragmentation of Europe’s Vertical Alliance. But is also worsens the Roman Republic-like political fragmentation of the United States.

The Kurdish separatism is an entirely different story. In this case we are seeing once more an example of the transformation of the micro-segregated Oriental states into Western type territorial states, see my post Ethnic Cleansing in the Arab World.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever

Both erratic and rigid ritual policies are parts of the decline.

Perhaps the American Constitution should be added a new amendment saying that any Russian leadership which does not appease completely, must be mistrusted, opposed and fought. No President shall ever change this.

Monday, June 26, 2017

China vs populism

I have earlier described how civilizations have individual traits. The present Western civilization like the two Chinese civilizations and old Egypt were characterized by dynasticism, a historic sense, an ability to long term planning ahead, organization and care for ones whole nation and the future. We see a splendid example of this last phenomenon in the Bible where Joseph after interpreting the dream of Pharaoh ordered the long term storage of food.

I have also described how for some civilizations some traits change to the opposite in their modernity, especially in its late phase. This way old China, Meso-America and now the West lost the historic sense and veneration of the past.

The Greco-Roman world had other characteristics such as short time thinking, lack of historic sense and anti-dynasticism. This is why the old Greeks had a chaotic democracy in the classical phase where we in our case had absolute monarchy.

In our modernity dynasticism was replaced by democracy. In the mature modernity in the 20th century this was tempered to a certain degree by the still persisting long term planning and organization. But now in late or declining modernity we are approaching the old Greek chaotic democracy.

This is partly a result of the changing or inversion of certain traits to the opposite in late modernity. On the other hand, most civilizations grow disorganized in their late modernity. The Greco-Roman civilization turned utterly chaotic in its later modernity. Therefore in our case the development is both the typical dissolution and the inversion to the opposite of the classical traits. We can only hope that this double causation will not make the dissolution even worse.

But will the process affect all parts of the world equally? Here it is important that not all of what is now part of the Western world has always been parts of our civilization. Rather, they have their old heritage, as they are in the areas of old civilizations. And these old traits still characterize the new Westernized nations.

These old traits mean that the Western nations are different depending on whether they have foreign earlier civilizations as heritages or not. We have examples of this in the Greek and Roman modernity. The Ptolemaian Egypt was the Hellenized version of old Egypt. It showed more continuity than other post-Alexander the Great states. Probably as a heritage from the old Egyptians with their well organized thinking and planning. Perhaps also the surprising strength of Carthago against Rome could be a heritage from the second Mesopotamian civilization, where the Assyrians demonstrated long term planning indeed in their large scale deportations of peoples in order to change demographics. Both Hellenized Egypt and Hellenized Carthago deem to have better resisted the chaos in the modernity in the Greco-Roman world.

Now in our case we see that China with its heritage of planning and organization show the same resistance against the increasing disorganization in other Western nations.

That we are sliding into new more chaotic times is clear from numerous examples. The recent elections in France was one of the few good developments. But it does not in itself guarantee stability or signify a persisting mature modernity. Very few voted. The new parliamentarians are inexperienced and could in an anarchistic nation like the French soon split into fractions. Reforms can only be sustained if they are followed by immediate results.

In a disorganizing Western modernity a big power which because of its heritage keeps stable has an immense advantage. Only China seems able to make, implement  and sustain long term plans. Both for itself and globally. And as opposed to Cartage it also has  resources matching those of its politically dissolving competetor.

The best example of Westernized China's organized long term policies is the modernization and opening started by Deng Xiaoping and his colleagues. This program has been continued ever since with formidable results. Another great example is the present plan to revive and extend the Silk Road. On the practical level the continuity manifests itself in structural terms and the one -party rule. The confluence of party, business people and intellectuals gives a coherent elite. This is in many ways comparable to and a replacement of the old Confucian elite who secured stability for centuries. But it is a capitalist version. In the old Confucian system capabilities in the form of literacy and administrative abilities gave merit. In the new elite these are supplemented by economic success. Perhaps the most important element in the long term stability and long term policies are the mechanisms and and traditions by which the top of the CCP supplements itself and chooses capable administrators and leaders. This kind of stable meritocracy gives clear advantages, not least compared to democracies decaying into populism. China has become the carrier of some the important traits of the Western civilization, organization, continuity and care for the future. The oppression may be excessive or not, but as opposed to personal dictatorships, it is for a cause: avoiding chaos and securing the future.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The World as scene for personal conflicts

The eroded valleys (see the post) are becoming threatening clear these weeks. A US president under internal pressure over possible links with Putin has no hesitations approaching a direct military conflict between the USA and Russia in Syria. Only to counteract the internal suspicions. The two big powers killing each others soldiers would be a revolutionary development creating a disastrous presedence. The valleys would be further eroded. The road to minor and major military global conflicts would shorten.

An erratic and/or intellectually narrow-minded US foreign policy also undermines world stability by supporting or accepting irresponsible acts and by seeming to run parallel contradictory policies. Does Washington support or condemn Qatar? A greater Israel or peace? As a prelude to new peace-talks Netanyahu, the Israeli Trump, starts a new settlement in the West Bank - for settlers having stolen Palestinian land. Will Saudi Arabia step up measures in Yemen or against Qatar, Iran or Shiites in general? More  than one side can find support in Washington from a presidential statement or a US minister or other member of the administration or the Trump family.

The destabilizing can also concern countries internally. Some fractions can feel supported. Other groups like the Iranian Revolutionary Guards can increase their power because of policies opposing moderate leaders.

Of course all this is not because of the new US president. Rather, he is just one more symptom of a global development. The problem is that under responsible presidents like Obama the USA and the other big powers were stabilizing factors in the world. Of course except for localized and controlled proxy conflicts. When the one superpower become destabilized and also the relations with Russia become unstable, both will act in unpredictable ways. Yet more barriers for acts from leaders of smaller powers are diminished.

With such eroded thresholds for conflict stupid acts like the present from the North Korean regime or fractions therein can also more easily provoke countermeasures with horrible consequences. The first use of a nuclear warhead since Nagasaki would be another horrendous presedence.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

ISIS, Iran and Qatar

ISIS has attacked Iran. If prove was needed, this shows that the terrorists have a clearer view of the Middle East than the new US administration. Iran is closer to the West in life form and democracy than Saudi Arabia and other Arab Golf States. The Iranian people have just reelected the moderate president Rohani.

To adopt the view that Iran is the root of terrorism in the Middle East out of old resentments, Israeli attitudes  and bribe in the form of tremendous orders of military and other equipment, is shortsighted. To drop the nuclear deal with Iran would be stupid.

In a world where the valleys are eroded (see the earlier post), int'l politics must be a careful maneuvering based on full knowledge. Alternative truths may be used to win internal elections. But to reuse an old phrase, the world and in particular the Middle East is certainly not a playground. Alliances can not be based on moods or coincidences. Iran is in many ways a natural ally, not least in the fight against ISIS. Or rather, a balance between relations with the two sides of the Golf may be  a better way to reduce tensions than supporting one side, encouraging irresponsible acts from here. Also, increasing the tensions between Sunnis and Shiites is certainly not helpful. Unless the goal is chaos in this the most complicated region in the world. A region spanning from true barbarians over fighters for the Oriental civilization and peaceful traditionalists to Westernized forces.

Qatar has shown the way, trying to balance between the Arab Peninsula and Iran. Now it pays the price. Of course people in Qatar support terrorists. But this is also the case for other Golf states. The reasons for the isolation of Qatar are the relations with Teheran and of course the pluralism furthered by Al Jazeera.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A historical announcement

The US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is bad enough. But what makes the announcement by Mr. Trump extraordinary, is the content and tone used against foreign leaders, not least close allies, being accused of using climate protection only as a pretext for stealing money and jobs from the United States . A such level of disrespect is really remarkable.

It brings reminiscences of the Roman treatment of foreign countries in the time ending with the Roman swallowing of more and more states.

That Trump for the time being is under pressure, also from his own party, gives little comfort. The Republican party is full of the same resentments against the world and even the EU allies. The president has now given precedence for such outbursts. It is as if the rest of the world is seen as irritating appendices. This may seem unwarranted taken into consideration the size of other powers . But with the total dominance of the United States in IT and its rising military force, a political leadership in Washington full of despise against the world can still be unpleasant.

Therefore the announcement by Mr. Trump is historical.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Eroded valleys

The American bombing of a Syrian military base is a good example of the new way of foreign policies. Personal moods or personal needs for a certain image can cause sudden changes of policy. And the potentially farreaching consequences show the unstable or meta-stable condition we are in now.

Earlier in the more stable era, int'l policies and acts moved in what can be seen as a potential valley. With time the world was moving along the direction of this valley. The bottom was the average condition of relations between powers. Deviations were possible, but as they were movements up the slopes of the valley, they were counteracted. Therefore their effects were limited in time and magnitude. And conditions were normalized sooner or later.

If situations became sufficiently loaded with conflict, there could be major changes. This typically could happen after a build up of tensions over a longer time. The limitations of the slopes of the valley were no longer sufficient to inhibit game-changing acts and their consequences. A good example of this was the beginning of the First World War. Here a terrorist act succeeded in starting a big war which resulted in a new stable condition, but with a radically changed world. A new valley had been formed.

What constitutes the slopes of a such valley, are things like traditions, historical ancoring, cultural resources, written and unwritten mutual understandings, rules of conduct and not least diplomatic experience. Our modernity has till now been followed by these characteristics. Therefore we have moved along stable valleys only occasionally interrupted by major upheavals.

But now the characteristics are being eroded. The slopes become less steep. The inhibitions from tradition, knowledge and rules are disappearing. The predictability of the direction is lost. A change of mood can quickly lead us out of the now flat valleys into unknown territories.

This is he era we are moving into now. The Trumps, Erdogans and Le Pens can change the world over night after or without provocations. Soon anything can happen. Smaller and bigger wars on the ground and in cyberspace can suddenly start this way. The Roman world in the last century of the Republic functioned the same unstable way. Only, here the conflicts were between leaders from this one power. In our case they will be between leaders from different powers. Our triumvirates will be between such leaders.

As said, the direction of politics can change anytime into new directions, but as politics as such in the form of ideologies lose importance, the real changes will only concern who rules.

For politicians who still have a cool mind, it will take lots of patience and ingenuity to contain the consequences of the acts and changes made by erratic leaders. That even Germany supports the bombings, shows the level of appeasement judged necessary faced with an easily provoked world leader.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Après nous le déluge

In Europe too, we see strange times. In the presidential elections in France the choice is between a xenophobic anti-EU candidate, a centrist populist and a man who attacks the judicial system and accuses it of being part of a political conspiracy against him. Of course the family Le Pen is not new. New is that most major parts of the political spectrum in France have decayed.

In the Netherlands the political party with the second-biggest popular support wants to ban the Quran, and most parties use opposition against the authoritarian Turkish president or de facto dictator as a disguise for racism. The same tendency is clear in Austria, where half the population earlier voted for a right wing populist as president. Of course Erdogan answers with grotesque nazi-accusations.

Here in Denmark all the major political parties are competing openly in proposing racist measures against traumatized refugees. The minister for (dis)integration accuses them of abusing the welfare system and boasts of (almost) violating human rights conventions. Sweden has ended the more than half a century old passport-free travel between the Nordic countries and thereby divided the greater metropolitan area Copenhagen-Malmö, only to satisfy xenophobic voters. Poland continues to subdue the judges and the press.

Truly, Germany is being surrounded by politically declined neighbors. Together perhaps with Spain it may be the only mature political system left in Europe! The talk about a EU with two speeds is becoming increasingly naive. In most of the union both the population and the politicians are moving away from  the European idea. The remaining old style politicians seem to close their eyes and with few exceptions continue business as usual while the water keeps on rising.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

War of Gangs

These are strange days. The destiny of the world is being determined in gang wars in the entourage around Mr. Trump. Will the United States end the cold war with Russia? Will Washington embark on a disastrous anti-Palestinian policy?

Maybe the US president and his nearest followers have acted so clumsy that he is compromised to such an extent that in reality he will be a lame duck in the time to come. Building a real power base takes more than an election victory and a few decrees. Time will show if Trump can manage this after all.

In the meanwhile he may be reduced to a powerless front figure for the Republican party. After having returned them to power he is still allowed to shout and tweet insults. It may help to satisfy the desperado voters. But that may be all he can do.

Thus the radicalized, right wing extremist, puritan and populist republican fractions could prevail. Concerning the Middle East the Republican right wing will support Mr. Trump. This is certainly no good news. Concerning Russia the anti-Putin hawks could overrule the opposite policies of the president.

So, for Russia the main advantage of the new presidency may evaporate. But the other advantage may still be real. That is the destabilization of the United States because of the declined political system. Populism, a radicalization of the two parties, mutual obstruction and contradictory incompatible legislations shifting with elections.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Trump’s decrweet on Israel

Trump’s decrweet on Israel

Mr. Trump seems already now to be ruling by tweets commanding both the industry and politicians who obey for fear of shitstorms. We can welcome the intention of the president-elect to improve ties with Russia and thus limit a threatening cold war. But this does certainly not mean that all foreign policy plans from the coming president are wise.

The announced new policies toward Israel will be a disaster. I have a few years ago in the post "The Middle East, Rome and the United States" compared the present day Middle East situation with that 2000 years ago. At that time the Romans were hated in the Eastern Mediterranean, not only because of their oppression, plundering and abuses, but also very much because of the cultural difference and opposition between the old "Western" Greco-Roman civilization and the new upcoming Oriental one. A further factor was the difference in the phase these civilizations were in. Like the present day western world Rome was in its modernity, a phase characterized by cool intellect, lack of religion and rationalism mixed with ridiculing of those not in this stage. The Oriental civilization was in its beginning early medieval period, a phase filled with very strong religious beliefs. This is where we in the Westwere around AD 1000. Both the differences between the cultures as such and the difference between the phases  and the real oppression contributed to the strong resistance of the emerging Oriental world against the Romans. Enormously important was also the fact of the pseudomorphosis. This was the phenomenon that the new civilization had to rise in an area totally culturally dominated by the Greek and Roman western culture. It had to express itself under the mighty pressure or in the forms of the Greco-Roman world. This led to a colossal anger and rage from the dominated civilization and its culture.

Today the situation is quite comparable. The old antique western civilization has vanished and has been replaced by a new, the Western European-American one. This has great cultural similarities with the old Greco-Roman predecessor, and importantly, it is also in its modernity with the same rational and superficial thinking.

Today the Oriental world is still there, but in the passed 2000 years it has passed trough its own rational modernity one thousand years ago and it has since then moved to the typical late stage of old civilizations. A phase where rationality has vaned and religion returned. Despite the difference between an Oriental world then in an early, now in a late phase, the difference between western modernity and Oriental religion is the same. And also the difference between the clashing cultures is the same. Of course now like then many people in the Middle East become westernized, but this just strengthens the resentment of the others.

And also in the total cultural and political dominance history repeats itself. The West lies heavily on all parts of the world. From this complex situation comes the mighty hatred in parts of the Middle East against the West, especially the new Romans from the United States. The Middle East then and now constitutes perhaps the most striking parallel in world history.

In addition to all this come the last barbarians, comparable to the Germanic and North African tribes at the borders of the Roman empire. Groups like ISIS represent forces beyond all civilizations, also the Oriental, but they claim a perverted misunderstood form of Islam as their foundation. Therefore the border between them and the resentment of parts of the Oriental civilization tend to be fuzzy.

Israeli policies endorsed and fueled by the coming US administration, policies directed against the Palestinians, reducing them to second rank people without rights and creating bantustans will bring more hatred, desperation and terrorism, no matter if ISIS is defeated, by the way good luck with that!

A new Intifada may start in the occupied areas. Terrorism against the Jewish state could explode. But not only the occupied areas and Gaza will be filled with desperation and hatred.  Also groups outside, and here not only hardcore terrorists will feel growing anger. Governments, and here not only in countries which are enemies of the USA will show resentment and hostility against the Americans. There will be opposition and resentment in friendly countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan  and Egypt. We could see a generalized anti-American and anti-western  sentiment rising in much of the Middle East. And of course support for barbaric groups like exactly ISIS will rise. Under Trump the Israeli government will feel encouraged to even more actions against the two-state solution and thus aggravate the situation even more.

Stopping the nuclear deal with Iran will certainly not help the situation where so many hate the United States. Wiser would it be to cooperate with Teheran and thus to support a balance of power in the Middle East - divide et impera.

The opposition from the UK government against the Obama administrations criticism of Israel shows that the UK plans to stay an American vassal state, no matter who the president is and no matter what he does.