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Germany will ‘fight’ for its interests in face of Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, says Economic Minister

America’s foreign policy is enacting an approach that sees the world as a global chess game

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It’s no secret that Germany has many deep ties with America that seem to be completely unbreachable. But in the face of Trump’s ‘America first’ policy, those ties are feeling some strain. America first, by definition, means that America’s interests, across all sectors, get the top priority above those of all others, and even in spite of them, with heavy emphasis on the ‘spite’ part.

The manner in which Trump’s foreign policy has progressed during his tenure so far indubitably shows forth his loyalty to this program, which perceives that whatever America wants, it will get, regardless of how it impacts others, and everybody else is expected to just grin and bear it.

But that’s not how you treat your friends, and not how a partnership really works. America has a strong social and cultural policy with equality at its base in just about every human perspective and interaction, at least, insofar as the words go, but in action, it’s an ideal that is quickly losing ground on the value of actions, even at a time when equality is taking on a new emphasis in America’s cultural capital of Hollywood.

America’s foreign policy is enacting an approach that sees the world as a global chess game, and every other player is viewed as an opponent to be bested, a game where America wins at the loss of everyone else, the ‘better end of the deal’. It’s completely different from the party line that Washington has put forward for decades, where fairness, equality, and respect were put forward as motivating factors for international activities and agreements, even if, oftentimes, America still acted like it was purely out to advance its own interests. America still put on a nice face with nice words as a costume for their self interested global influence.

Today, American actions haven’t really changed all that much, in a way, but what has changed is the philosophy that it overtly advances. Now, under President Donald Trump, it brazenly tells the world that America will do and get what it wants, and everyone else must be good little boys and girls and play along, even if it means that they will lose. In Trump’s mind, it’s called ‘winning’, and in order to win, someone must lose.

Even America’s strongest allies have been reluctant to acknowledge America’s self interested global policies, because as long as they got something for it, they were okay with it. But lately, they’re not getting as much for it, if anything at all.

French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May were happy to go along with Trump’s strikes against Syria last month, as well as America’s sanctions regimen against Russia, even concocting their own reasons for taking a ‘defensive’ posture against Russia, all under the conduct of their friend and partner on the western side of the Atlantic.

Then the Iran nuclear deal came up to the chopping block. America has publicly declared that the Iran nuclear deal is not in their interests, and for that reason they will not participate, they won’t play, because it means that they won’t win, because in this deal, there are no losers.

This time, by following America’s lead, scrapping the Iran deal would not be in America’s European allies’s interests, its a game where the Europeans would be the ones on the losing end.

For that reason, Emmanuel Macron, British FM Boris Johnson, and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, crossed the pond to plead their case and protect their interests, in hopes that Trump would respond amicably and respect them.

But once their cozy meetings were through, and they had returned home, Trump set out once again to win the game. He went full speed ahead and quit the Iran nuclear deal, regardless of, and in spite of, his European ‘partners’s interests and pleas to do otherwise.

Now, the interests of America’s European allies had not only gone up to the guillotine, without trial, but underwent the blade of ‘America first’. Now, playing the game with America, on the American side, can openly result in a European loss, and the Americans don’t care.

America here demonstrates to its allies and ‘partners’ that it has no intention of being a partner, or even a friend. There are only strategic interests, and America is behind Europe only when it suits those American strategic interests. America will be first. America will win, even if that means Europe must lose.

Europe, then, is coming to realise this new fact that the global order and global relationships are no longer based on multilateral cooperation to achieve a common goal, because between America and Europe, the goal is no longer a mutual one.

For America, the goal is America’s global hegemony at all costs. For Europe, it’s quite different. Whatever the talk about ‘shared values’ that might be coming out of lips of European leaders as they address America’s foreign posture, they are now coming to realise that the values of America and Europe are no longer congruent.

The American withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, a multilateral agreement enjoying the commitment of each member of the United Nations Security Council, including Germany and the EU, isn’t the only divergence of perspective. America has been on a roll as of late doing things that America says are for its own interests, but which stand diametrically opposed to those of America’s European allies.

That list includes the tariffs on Chinese aluminum and steel exports, the embassy move to Jerusalem which lethally stoked the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, extraterritorial sanctions on any company doing business with Iran, which stands to adversely impact the European economy, opposition to oil and gas cooperation between some European countries and Russia, verbally slamming Germany for its participation in the NATO defense budget balance, potentially opening up a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, among others.

Those shared values, that Europe and America are supposed to uphold together, along with economic and security cooperation, are what cement the friendship and partnership between Europe and America.

America, however, is disrupting each of these with its latest actions, between a shared vision of multilateralism, perceiving political, rather than military, means of resolving conflict and establishing cooperation and prosperity, to ensuring security against potential threats, to economic cooperation. America, not Syria, Iran, Russia, or Islamic extremists, right now is making itself the single biggest threat to each of these

Following his trip to Russia to secure economic cooperation and that of the shared value of economic access to the Iranian market, the Germany Economy Minister, Peter Altmaier, declares that Germany will respond to America’s narcissistic foreign policy by defending its own interests.

The statements do three things: they demonstrate that the shared value system between America and Europe’s economic powerhouse, Germany, are quickly eroding; they demonstrate that Germany is finding some shared interests with the Russians; and they demonstrate that Germany will stand up for its own strategic interests against the overt inimical effects of America’s foreign policy.

Deutsche Welle reports:

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Europe will defend its interests if the US prioritizes its own over others. He also accused Washington of wanting to block a Russia-Germany pipeline to boost its own exports.

Europe will respond firmly if the US places its own economic interests above those of others, Germany Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Friday.

“The US are our friends and partners, and we want to defend our common values,” Altmaier told ARD public service television.

“But if it’s America first, and they put their economic interest before others, then they have to expect Europe to define their own interests and fight for them,” he added.

Amid growing fears of a trade war, the USA under the Trump administration imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum in March, but gave temporary tariff waivers to the EU and several other countries. The exemptions are due to expire June 1.

Shale gas

Earlier in the interview, Altmaier also defended the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which Washington, along with many eastern European countries, would like to block. They say that by sidelining Ukraine, it gives Russia too much leverage over countries reliant on its energy sources.

Altmaier, however, attributed US opposition to its desire to increase its own shale gas exports.

“They are looking for markets, which we can understand, and they can land it here easily,” Altmaier said. “But it is much more expensive than pipeline gas, so blocking Nord Stream 2 on its own won’t guarantee exports.”

Altmaier’s comments come as German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to hold talks with her Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that are expected to cover not only the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the war in Syria, but also energy issues and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Shared interests and values between America and Europe are quickly diverging. America is finding that it can and will achieve its goals and strategic interests with or without its European friends, as it demonstrated last week, and even into this one.

The end goals to be accomplished, as envisioned by the Europeans and the Americans are increasingly digressing, and even opposing, whereas the number of shared interests between the Europeans and the Russians, on the other hand, are increasingly converging, whether it is a peaceful, political resolution to the conflicts going on in Syria or the Ukraine, to energy cooperation, to security interests meaning keeping a lid on nuclear proliferation and shared market accesses, to commonly battling the economic barriers that America is erecting. While Europe is discovering that it need to find its own path in the world, that path is leading farther away from America, and lining up a little closer with those on the other side of the Baltic.

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Social media purge continues, as platforms operate as publishers (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 80.

Alex Christoforou

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Following the suspension of Alex Jones, Twitter has also moved to restrict Jones’ Infowars account.

BuzzFeed News is reporting that the Infowars account will be restricted from tweeting, but will still be able to browse Twitter and send direct messages to other users, while users will still be able to view the account.

The move, which essentially puts the account in read-only mode, comes less than a day after Twitter temporarily limited Infowars proprietor Alex Jones for a week after he tweeted a link to a video in which he called on his supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready. That video, which was shared on Twitter-owned live streaming service Periscope, was also shared by Infowars earlier on Wednesday.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that Infowars’ account, which has more than 430,000 followers, will be prevented from tweeting, retweeting, liking or following other users during a seven-day window. The account will stay online, allowing users to view it during that period.

Via Zerohedge

On Tuesday, Twitter suspended the conspiracy theorist and blogger for violating the social media company’s policies, in a stark reversal for Jack Dorsey who previously bucked the trend by other tech giants to muzzle the Infowars creator.

As CNET first reported, Jones’ account was put in “read only” mode and will be blocked from posting on Twitter for seven days because of an offending tweet, the company said. While Twitter declined to comment on the content that violated its policies, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN the content which prompted the suspension was a video published Tuesday in which he said, “now is time to act on the enemy before they do a false flag.”

A Twitter spokesperson wouldn’t say what would get Jones or Infowars permanently suspended, however they noted “We look at [the] volume and nature of violations before suspending an account,” according to Buzzfeed.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the latest twists and turns in the vicious social media purge of conservative right and libertarian accounts. Platforms are acting like publishers and this may mean the end of monopoly social media services.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Meanwhile, in a censorship move against Libertarian commentary, Ron Paul Institute director Daniel McAdams and Antiwar editor Scott Horton were suspended by Twitter for simply retweeting. Justin Raimondo informs…

Target Liberty reports

Update from Justin:

Neither @scotthortonshow nor @DanielLMcAdams have been reinstated. You can see their tweets: they can’t tweet.

RW

Daniel McAdams explain what happened…

Robert I can give you an update from my perspective regarding what happened:

Yesterday on Twitter, former US diplomat Peter Van Buren (@WeMeantWell) took members of the mainstream media to task for swallowing and printing government lies without even bothering to check them out. He said as a former US government official (turned whistleblower) he also lied to the press on behalf of the government and was astonished that the press swallowed each one, hook, line and sinker.

Several corporate media hacks and in particular one employee of an NGO funded by George Soros — a fellow called Jonathan Katz — piled on Peter, accusing him of all manner of treachery. When Peter ended one response with a sarcastic reference to zombie attacks – “I hope a MAGA guy eats your face” — which is obviously a joke, Katz replied that he is reporting Peter for promoting violence.

So he and his buddies ganged up on Peter and got him banned. Scott Horton and I were incensed over the ban, which seemed to us totally arbitrary. There was no threat of violence and it was no different than millions of Tweets all the time. So Scott and I both joined in and criticized Katz for running off to the authorities in attempt to get someone banned rather than just walk away from the debate.

Katz then did his usual routine and ran to the authorities and had Scott and me banned. Mine was for, as Twitter informed me, because “you may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.” There is no way at all that my Tweet violated the above rule. In no way did I harass or threaten based on those criteria. I merely strongly criticized Katz for running to the authorities to get Peter banned.

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“I’m Not A Racist, But I’m A Nationalist”: Why Sweden Faces A Historic Election Upset

Sweden is set to have a political earthquake in September.

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Via Zerohedge


“Trains and hospitals don’t work, but immigration continues,” Roger Mathson, a retired vegetable oil factory worker in Sweden, told Bloomberg on the same day as the violent, coordinated rampage by masked gangs of youths across five Swedish cities.

We noted earlier that Swedish politicians were quick to react with anti-immigrant party ‘Sweden Democrats’ seeing a surge in the polls ahead of the September 9th election.

“I’m not a racist, but I’m a nationalist,” Mathson said. “I don’t like seeing the town square full of Niqab-clad ladies and people fighting with each other.”

Is Sweden set to have its own political earthquake in September, where general elections could end a century of Social Democratic dominance and bring to power a little known (on the world stage), but the now hugely popular nationalist party often dubbed far-right and right-wing populist, called Sweden Democrats?

Sweden, a historically largely homogeneous population of 10 million, took in an astounding 600,000 refugees over the past five years, and after Swedes across various cities looked out their windows Tuesday to see cars exploding, smoke filling the skies, and possibly armed masked men hurling explosives around busy parking lots, it appears they’ve had enough.

Over the past years of their rise as a political force in Swedish politics, the country’s media have routinely labelled the Sweden Democrats as “racists” and “Nazis” due to their seemingly single issue focus of anti-immigration and strong Euroscepticism.

A poll at the start of this week indicated the Sweden Democrats slid back to third place after topping three previous polls as the September election nears; however, Tuesday’s national crisis and what could legitimately be dubbed a serious domestic terror threat is likely to boost their popularity.

Bloomberg’s profile of their leader, Jimmie Akesson, echoes the tone of establishment Swedish media in the way they commonly cast the movement, beginning as follows:

Viking rock music and whole pigs roasting on spits drew thousands of Swedes to a festival hosted by nationalists poised to deliver their country’s biggest political upheaval in a century.

The Sweden Democrats have been led since 2005 by a clean-cut and bespectacled man, Jimmie Akesson. He’s gentrified a party that traces its roots back to the country’s neo-Nazi, white supremacist fringe. Some polls now show the group may become the biggest in Sweden’s parliament after general elections on Sept. 9. Such an outcome would end 100 years of Social Democratic dominance.

The group’s popularity began surging after the 2015 immigration crisis began, which first hit Europe’s southern Mediterranean shores and quickly moved northward as shocking wave after wave of migrants came.

Jimmie Akesson (right). Image source: Getty via Daily Express

Akesson emphasizes something akin to a “Sweden-first” platform which European media often compares to Trump’s “America First”; and the party has long been accused of preaching forced assimilation into Swedish culture to be become a citizen.

Bloomberg’s report surveys opinions at a large political rally held in Akkeson’s hometown of Solvesborg, and some of the statements are sure to be increasingly common sentiment after this week’s coordinated multi-city attack:

At his party’s festival, Akesson revved up the crowd by slamming the establishment’s failures, calling the last two governments the worst in Swedish history. T-shirts calling for a Swexit, or an exit from the EU, were exchanged as bands played nationalist tunes.

Ted Lorentsson, a retiree from the island of Tjorn, said he’s an enthusiastic backer of the Sweden Democrats. “I think they want to improve elderly care, health care, child care,” he said. “Bring back the old Sweden.” But he also acknowledges his view has led to disagreement within his family as his daughter recoils at what she feels is the “Hitler”-like rhetoric.

No doubt, the media and Eurocrats in Brussels will take simple, innocent statements from elderly retirees like “bring back the old Sweden” as nothing short of declaration of a race war, but such views will only solidify after this week.

Another Sweden Democrat supporter, a 60-year old woman who works at a distillery, told Bloomberg, “I think you need to start seeing the whole picture in Sweden and save the original Swedish population,” she said. “I’m not racist, because I’m a realist.”

Sweden’s two biggest parties, the Social Democrats and Moderates, are now feeling the pressure as Swedes increasingly worry about key issues preached by Akesson like immigration, law and order, and health care – seen as under threat by a mass influx of immigrants that the system can’t handle.

Bloomberg explains further:

But even young voters are turning their backs on the establishment. One potential SD supporter is law student Oscar Persson. Though he hasn’t yet decided how he’ll vote, he says it’s time for the mainstream parties to stop treating the Sweden Democrats like a pariah. “This game they are playing now, where the other parties don’t want to talk to them but still want their support, is something I don’t really understand,” he said.

Akesson has managed to entice voters from both sides of the political spectrum with a message of more welfare, lower taxes and savings based on immigration cuts.

With many Swedes now saying immigration has “gone too far” and as this week’s events have once again thrust the issue before both a national and global audience, the next round of polling will mostly like put Sweden’s conservative-right movements on top

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The Turkish Emerging Market Timebomb

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him.

The Duran

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Authored by Jim O’Neill, originally on Project Syndicate:


As the Turkish lira continues to depreciate against the dollar, fears of a classic emerging-market crisis have come to the fore. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him, and sooner or later, he will have to make nice with his country’s traditional Western allies.

Turkey’s falling currency and deteriorating financial conditions lend credence, at least for some people, to the notion that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” I suspect that many Western policymakers, in particular, are not entirely unhappy about Turkey’s plight.

To veteran economic observers, Turkey’s troubles are almost a textbook case of an emerging-market flop. It is August, after all, and back in the 1990s, one could barely go a single year without some kind of financial crisis striking in the dog days of summer.

But more to the point, Turkey has a large, persistent current-account deficit, and a belligerent leader who does not realize – or refuses to acknowledge – that his populist economic policies are unsustainable. Moreover, Turkey has become increasingly dependent on overseas investors (and probably some wealthy domestic investors, too).

Given these slowly gestating factors, markets have long assumed that Turkey was headed for a currency crisis. In fact, such worries were widespread as far back as the fall of 2013, when I was in Istanbul interviewing business and financial leaders for a BBC Radio series on emerging economies. At that time, markets were beginning to fear that monetary-policy normalization and an end to quantitative easing in the United States would have dire consequences globally. The Turkish lira has been flirting with disaster ever since.

Now that the crisis has finally come to pass, it is Turkey’s population that will bear the brunt of it. The country must drastically tighten its domestic monetary policy, curtail foreign borrowing, and prepare for the likelihood of a full-blown economic recession, during which time domestic saving will slowly have to be rebuilt.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership will both complicate matters and give Turkey some leverage. Erdoğan has  constitutional powers, reducing those of the parliament, and undercutting the independence of monetary and fiscal policymaking. And to top it off, he seems to be reveling in an escalating feud with US President Donald Trump’s administration over Turkey’s imprisonment of an American pastor and purchase of a Russian S-400 missile-defense system.

This is a dangerous brew for the leader of an emerging economy to imbibe, particularly when the United States itself has embarked on a Ronald Reagan-style fiscal expansion that has pushed the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster than it would have otherwise. Given the unlikelihood of some external source of funding emerging, Erdoğan will eventually have to back down on some of his unorthodox policies. My guess is that we’ll see a return to a more conventional monetary policy, and possibly a new fiscal-policy framework.

As for Turkey’s leverage in the current crisis, it is worth remembering that the country has a large and youthful population, and thus the potential to grow into a much larger economy in the future. It also enjoys a privileged geographic position at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, which means that many major players have a stake in ensuring its stability. Indeed, many Europeans still hold out hope that Turkey will embrace Western-style capitalism, despite the damage that Erdoğan has done to the country’s European Union accession bid.

Among the regional powers, Russia is sometimes mentioned as a potential savior for Turkey. There is no doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin would love to use Turkey’s crisis to pull it even further away from its NATO allies. But Erdoğan and his advisers would be deeply mistaken to think that Russia can fill Turkey’s financial void. A Kremlin intervention would do little for Turkey, and would likely exacerbate Russia’s own .

The other two potential patrons are Qatar and, of course, China. But while Qatar, one of Turkey’s closest Gulf allies, could provide financial aid, it does not ultimately have the wherewithal to pull Turkey out of its crisis singlehandedly.

As for China, though it will not want to waste the opportunity to increase its influence vis-à-vis Turkey, it is not the country’s style to step into such a volatile situation, much less assume responsibility for solving the problem. The more likely outcome – as we are seeing in Greece – is that China will unleash its companies to pursue investment opportunities after the dust settles.

That means that Turkey’s economic salvation lies with its conventional Western allies: the US and the EU (particularly France and Germany). On August 13, a White House spokesperson confirmed that the Trump administration is watching the financial-market response to Turkey’s crisis “very closely.” The last thing that Trump wants is a crumbling world economy and a massive dollar rally, which could derail his domestic economic ambitions. So a classic Trump “trade” is probably there for Erdoğan, if he is willing to come to the negotiating table.

Likewise, some of Europe’s biggest and most fragile banks have significant exposure to Turkey. Combine that with the ongoing political crisis over migration, and you have a recipe for deeper destabilization within the EU. I, for one, cannot imagine that European leaders will sit by and do nothing while Turkey implodes on their border.

Despite his escalating rhetoric, Erdoğan may soon find that he has little choice but to abandon his isolationist and antagonistic policies of the last few years. If he does, many investors may look back next year and wish that they had snapped up a few lira when they had the chance.

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