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Germany’s dismal election

Complacent elite rejects all change even as Germany’s problems mount

Alexander Mercouris

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On Sunday Germany votes in an election from which Chancellor Merkel’s CDU party is universally expected to remain the largest but which none of the underlying problems which affect Germany have been addressed.

One of the problems involved in discussing Germany is that the image of the country as a runaway economic success story is so powerful that it makes objective analysis of its problems difficult.

The reality is that Germany is indeed a very rich and economically successful country.  However there are growing problems that put its long term prospects in doubt, and these are being ignored rather than addressed.

Briefly, the German system as it evolved after the Second World War involved a political and financial system heavily geared towards high business investment.

The secret of German economic success was the close collaboration of decentralised regional governments and banks with a partially cartelised business community, with the whole system underpinned by high savings and a well trained and well organised workforce.

Key to the success of the system was a monetary policy geared towards creating low inflation and high savings, and a fiscal policy that avoided deficit.

The result was indeed high business investment drawing on high savings in conditions of extreme price stability within a strictly controlled competitive environment, enabling German business to remain continuously competitive even as German wages and living standards steadily rose.

Over the last decades this system has slowly unravelled as German banks have become less focused on Germany’s domestic economy and more involved in the international financial system, and as Germany has integrated itself ever more deeply into the EU’s institutions and has replaced the Deutschmark with the euro.

The result is that savings and investment in the German economy have fallen from their historic post war highs, so that the total rate of investment in the German economy has fallen from around 30% of GDP in the early 1980s to around 19% now, with the two biggest falls taking place in 1990 (at the time of unification) and in 2000 (at the time of the introduction of the euro), with the rate of investment unchanged since then.

Moreover recently pressure on savings has been increasing further because of the zero interest rate/quantitative easing policy of the European Central Bank, whose lax monetary policy is also causing Germany to experience for the first time in its post Second World War history on a sustained basis a property price boom, something which the Bundesbank, Germany’s own central bank, always anxious to direct investment towards businesses rather than fixed assets, had previously always acted to choke off.

The Germans have responded to the fall in investment in their classic way, striving to keep their economy internationally competitive by compensating for the fall in investment with downward pressure on wages.

In addition Germany has sought to continue to run a budget surplus – operating its economy ‘within its means’ as it is called – a policy whose intended and actual effect is to choke off imports.

Taken together with the relative weakness of the euro (as compared to the strength of any currency Germany might have had if it still had the Deutschmark) these policies have kept the German economy internationally competitive, causing it to run a massive surplus.

However the continued downward pressure on wages, the action taken to make the German workforce more ‘flexible’ (the so-called Hartz IV reforms), the refusal to run a budget deficit (causing public investment to collapse), and the property price boom, are making German society more unequal, and are increasing pressure on living standards.

Needless to say that feeds resentment and It is anyway debatable how sustainable a system, which compensates lower wages for lower investment, in the end is.

At this point it is important to make some qualifiers.  The German economy remains exceptionally strong and the standard of living in Germany remains by international standards extremely high.  The problems, though real, are still in their infancy, and there is time and space to turn things round.

Germany’s real problem is not that its problems are intractable.  It is that under Angela Merkel, who became the CDU’s leader in 2000 – just as the second big fall in the economy’s rate of investment took place – and who has been Germany’s Chancellor since 2005, no serious attempt to address these problems has been taking place.

At a time when Germany needs purposeful policies to turn things round, Merkel’s complacent “keep calm and carry on” approach is leaving them as they are.

The result is that behind the facade of contentment there is growing unease.  Some of the consequences have been well described in a recent article by Andrew Spannaus

A …. major factor is the system of labor market and welfare reforms introduced in Germany in the 2000s. The most famous is the “Hartz IV” law, which provides unemployment subsidies of just 280 euros ($330) a month, and forces people to accept whatever jobs they are offered, even at only 1-2 euros an hour.

German companies have done very well with this system, that allows them to exploit extremely cheap and flexible labor. Critics points to this as one – although certainly not the only – factor contributing to the great success of German industry in Europe.

For the six million citizens trapped in the system though, things aren’t so great. There are entire areas called “Hartz IV neighborhoods,” indicating widespread socio-economic difficulties among the local population. If we add the high level of “working poor,” a category that has reached 9 percent of the population in Germany, it becomes clear where the populist movements can look for votes on economic issues.

This situation explains the strong reaction of many Germans when Merkel, without much consultation, suddenly threw open Germany’s and Europe’s doors to the mass refugee flow in 2015.  Inevitably many poorer working class Germans, who have been under growing economic pressure for some time, resented the fact that Merkel and the political establishment appeared to care more about the refugees than it cared about them.  In my opinion this was a far more important factor in the widespread protests in Germany against Merkel’s policy in 2015 than the supposed xenophobic or racist attitudes of lower class German voters, whose grandparents had accepted mass immigration from Turkey and southern Europe in the boom times of the 1950s and 1960s without protest.

Unfortunately the problem is not just Merkel.  The entire German political establishment is locked into the same complacency, so that she has fought the election without coming under any serious challenge.

That a thirst for such a challenge is there is shown by the brief surge of support for Martin Schultz after the SPD nominated as its Chancellor designate at the start of the year.  In the event – as I and many others predicted – Schulz has however proved to have been a truly dreadful choice, with offering no credible alternative to Merkel, so that after his brief surge the SPD’s polling figures have spiralled down.

The result is a dismal election, with a sense of Germany treading water.  Even neoliberal admirers of Merkel such as the Guardian’s Natalie Nougayrède are dismayed

Having spent this week in Germany, I am struck by another inward-looking syndrome. The German campaign has paid very little attention to Europe, not to mention the world beyond it. It has practically dispensed with the question of how the country should relate to realities beyond its borders: the global shifts at work, how to define its role in a changing environment, how to strategically prepare for the future, and the external impacts that may lie in store…..

The Germans simply don’t want to hear much about the troubles of our times and how to face them: they just want to hunker down and keep on living the good life – which is one of Merkel’s CDU party slogans…..

…..I’ve just spent days in Berlin, Leipzig and Munich, meeting officials, members of the Bundestag, municipal and regional elected representatives, and civil society activists, on a study tour of the German elections with the Robert Bosch Academy. Here are some of the comments I heard. On Germany’s potential leadership role in the Trump era: “The expectations other countries have towards Germany are sometimes exaggerated. We are self-confident, but we don’t have any missionary zeal. We are intensely aware of our history”; “Trump is disturbing, but to take up a leadership role is just too much for us.”

On Europe: “It’s not a topic in this campaign because all the parties, apart from the AfD [the far-right Alternative for Germany], are convinced by the European project. Germans need Europe to forget they are Germans. It’s how we break away from our national historical burden.” On eurozone reform (said with a touch of irony): “Macron wants progress, but it might be expensive for us.” And on Brexit (when asked about it): “It’s like a satire show.”

One of the most fascinating developments in Germany is that, contrary to many predictions, the 2015 refugee crisis has not upended the nation’s politics entirely. How come? In Britain, it contributed to producing Brexit. In France, it helped Le Pen collect 10m votes. In 2015 the world’s huddled, desperate masses came to Germany – and yet, two years on, the country hardly seems to worry about the state of the world, or wants to even discuss it. “We are proud of what we did, the welcome culture, but it mustn’t happen again,” is the main answer you get when raising the question.

Into the gap opened up by the German elite’s complacency has moved the AfD, the new political movement originally created by a group of professors to challenge the twin orthodoxies of Germany’s Atlanticist foreign policy and the euro, but which has gained popular traction as it has redefined itself as an anti-immigrant party and has veered towards the right.

How well the AfD will do in Sunday’s election remains to be seen.  Here however I will restate a view which I previously made in connection with the role in French politics of Marine Le Pen.  Since in Germany as in France there will alway be a majority against a challenge to the status quo from the right, the eventual effect in Germany of the AfD, as of Marine Le Pen in France, will be to reinforce the status quo, not to change it.

On the subject of Angela Merkel herself, though she retains many of her political skills and a large reservoir of support amongst Germany’s large centre right Christian electorate, she has increasingly come across in this election (at least to me) as tired and stale, something which incidentally was never true of her CDU predecessor Helmut Kohl.

Almost everyone expects this to be Merkel’s last election, and I have no doubt this is right.  Not only is Merkel’s time as Chancellor drawing to a close, but I doubt she will be around for much longer, and I think it is unlikely she will see out her full term.  Had the SPD picked a more charismatic and popular candidate than Martin Schulz, I have no doubt she would have been in serious trouble during the election, though the nature of the German political and electoral system always gives the incumbent Chancellor a big advantage.

Germany’s and Europe’s problem – and potentially their crisis – is that in the desert which is what Germany’s current politics have become, it is difficult to see any change coming after Merkel is finally gone.

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Tom Luongo
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Tom Luongo

I think Schultz was picked BECAUSE he was a dismal candidate. And his collapse would ensure Merkel would have no credible opposition and possibly win outright. It was done to stave off AfD. It would allow her and her foreign minister Gabriel to make noises about normalizing relations with Russia while remaining strong against Brexit and the Visigrad 4 who refuse to make the same ‘sacrifice’ the Germans made by admitting all these refugees.

BobValdez
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BobValdez

Absolutely!

Le Ruse
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Le Ruse

What about that one ??comment image

RaisingMac
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RaisingMac

You are right about Martin Schulz. I still can’t get over the fact that the SPD actually managed to find a candidate even more pointless than Sigmar Gabriel. In all likelihood, the SPD will lose yet more seats this time around. Pathetic.

Le Ruse
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Le Ruse

This Martin ??comment image?w=620

RaisingMac
Guest
RaisingMac

Yup. That’s him.

DenLilleAbe
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DenLilleAbe

The usual tribe: The EU will fail, the euro will fail, Germany will fail, neo liberalism, fascism ect, ect.
Living in northern Europe I consider my self blessed, especially compared to the mess that is the US, we might not make it to millionaire in dollars, but we have a good life.
Germany will prevail as ever, and the European project moves forward, the EU is already the largest economy in the world, capable of bringing the multinationals to their knees, not even the US can do that…

XRGRSF
Guest
XRGRSF

Is this anything like the Thousand Year Reich ?

Tim Webb
Guest
Tim Webb

“Etc, Etc” I think is what you meant to write.
From the Latin “et cetera”, ie “and the rest”.

observerBG
Guest
observerBG

Germans do not have children, they will be replaced and will not exist in the future. Native german (non-immigrant) birth rate is 1,4, way below 2,1 – the replacement rate. So there will be no blond or white people in Germany, there will be mostly low IQ brown and muslim people. You will be replaced. Second – even with immigration, the german population is old and declinig, so it will dissappear at some point in the future. Third – Germany is a declining country – it will matter less and less in the future. China gdp growth rate – 7… Read more »

margarida
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margarida

HOW MANY MORE RAPES AND UNEMPLOYMENT DOES GERMANY NEED TO WAKE THE GERMANS UP?

JNDillard
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JNDillard

As usual, excellent analysis by Mr Mercouris. Some seventy years ago Germany hitched its wagon to the Atlanticist wagon. Until recently, that has proven an exceptionally wise choice. Now it is proving to be a disastrous one, but like an addict comfortable in their addiction, Germany will go down with the Atlanticists. There is a dim possibility that the economic opportunities being offered by the Russian and Chinese markets will allow it to transition, but at this point Germany is a strong supporter of Atlanticist polices that can only be called disastrous.

samo war
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samo war

merkell want worldd satan mafia matrix ???

tjoes
Guest
tjoes

Merkel looks like an old Notzie that has been used hard and put away wet. But she is good for the deep state so they will prop her up. And nuttyahoo likes her, since she puts Israel interests ahead of Germany.

Dow Jones
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Dow Jones

Like all occupied nations, Japan, Germany, Palestine etc. the toll of mental and spiritual subjugation to an alien and brutal culture has destroyed the will to procreate and continue living. The Japanese aristocracy can control their livestock with techie BS while the Germans are simply dying off and being replaced on the sheep farm with imported tribes from USSA’S ongoing and unending judaic wars. The Merkel slash “Soros” conspiracy to destroy the last sovereign states of Europe as they continue erecting the hated globalist EUSSR project in Natostan capital, Brussels. “In his book «Praktischer Idealismus», (1920) Austrian Count Richard Von… Read more »

Tim Webb
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Tim Webb

“Who is this elite however?”
The answer is obvious; mankind’s intractable and incorrigible eternal enemy, the chosen people of satan, THE JEW.
Look at the loathesome Schultz’s comment if you don’t believe this.

pogohere
Guest

European Prize for the Chancellor 1-13-11 The European Society Coudenhove-Kalerg has awarded Chancellor Angela Merkel the European Prize 2010. The prize is awarded every two years for exceptional contributions to the European unification process. . . . Angela Merkel is the second German head of government (after Helmut Kohl who received the prize in 1990) to be awarded this prize. The last time the European Prize was awarded in 2008, it went to the former Polish Foreign Minister and current Secretary of State in the Polish Government, Władysław Bartoszewski. The European Prize is based on the vision of the diplomat,… Read more »

Dow Jones
Guest
Dow Jones

Link below to the daily toll of Merkill’s invading hordes as they rape, pillage and plunder their way across a subdued and resentful population that may very well surprise the presstitutes and politburo in Brussels on Sunday 23rd.

Rape, pillage and plunder; Merkill’s generous gift to the German populace.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1_rNT3k2ZXB-f9z-2nSFMIBQKXCs&ll=50.18890452243554%2C10.293085891308692&z=8

disqus_1Op5S8jvui
Guest
disqus_1Op5S8jvui

Yes, the Germans have worked hard and efficiently to create the well being of their country. However, Ms Merkel has committed an unforgivable, political and historic crime by throwing open the borders of the EU nations thus destroying the national borders and quality of life of qualified nations for Germany’s and its corporations own benefit. The damage to Europe is huge. She and Germany will understand in time that they cannot own Europe or the world. There has always been a mentality and arrogance gap there. Minding that Deutsche Bank has been in default for long or that Greece is… Read more »

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Ukraine Wants Nuclear Weapons: Will the West Bow to the Regime in Kiev?

Efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation are one of the few issues on which the great powers agree, intending to continue to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and to prevent new entrants into the exclusive nuclear club.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The former Ukrainian envoy to NATO, Major General Petro Garashchuk, recently stated in an interview with Obozrevatel TV:

“I’ll say it once more. We have the ability to develop and produce our own nuclear weapons, currently available in the world, such as the one that was built in the former USSR and which is now in independent Ukraine, located in the city of Dnipro (former Dnipropetrovsk) that can produce these kinds of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Neither the United States, nor Russia, nor China have produced a missile named Satan … At the same time, Ukraine does not have to worry about international sanctions when creating these nuclear weapons.”

The issue of nuclear weapons has always united the great powers, especially following the signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The decision to reduce the number of nuclear weapons towards the end of the Cold War went hand in hand with the need to prevent the spread of such weapons of mass destruction to other countries in the best interests of humanity. During the final stages of the Cold War, the scientific community expended great effort on impressing upon the American and Soviet leadership how a limited nuclear exchange would wipe out humanity. Moscow and Washington thus began START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) negotiations to reduce the risk of a nuclear winter. Following the dissolution of the USSR, the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances persuaded Ukraine to relinquish its nuclear weapons and accede to the NPT in exchange for security assurances from its signatories.

Ukraine has in recent years begun entertaining the possibility of returning to the nuclear fold, especially in light of North Korea’s recent actions. Kim Jong-un’s lesson seems to be that a nuclear deterrent remains the only way of guaranteeing complete protection against a regional hegemon. The situation in Ukraine, however, differs from that of North Korea, including in terms of alliances and power relations. Kiev’s government came into power as a result of a coup d’etat carried out by extremist nationalist elements who seek their inspiration from Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. The long arm of NATO has always been deeply involved in the dark machinations that led to Poroshenko’s ascendency to the Ukrainian presidency. From a geopolitical point of view, NATO’s operation in Ukraine (instigating a civil war in the wake of a coup) follows in the footsteps of what happened in Georgia. NATO tends to organize countries with existing anti-Russia sentiments to channel their Russophobia into concrete actions that aim to undermine Moscow. The war in the Donbass is a prime example.

However, Ukraine has been unable to subdue the rebels in the Donbass region, the conflict freezing into a stalemate and the popularity of the Kiev government falling as the population’s quality of life experiences a precipitous decline. The United States and the European Union have not kept their promises, leaving Poroshenko desperate and tempted to resort to provocations like the recent Kerch strait incident or such as those that are apparently already in the works, as recently reported by the DPR authorities.

The idea of Ukraine resuming its production of nuclear weapons is currently being floated by minor figures, but it could take hold in the coming months, especially if the conflict continues in its frozen state and Kiev becomes frustrated and desperate. The neoconservative wing of the American ruling elite, absolutely committed to the destruction of the Russian Federation, could encourage Kiev along this path, in spite of the incalculable risks involved. The EU, on the other hand, would likely be terrified at the prospect, which would also place it between a rock and a hard place. Kiev, on one side, would be able to extract from the EU much needed economic assistance in exchange for not going nuclear, while on the other side the neocons would be irresponsibly egging the Ukrainians on.

Moscow, if faced with such a possibility, would not just stand there. In spite of Russia having good relations with North Korea, it did not seem too excited at the prospect of having a nuclear-armed neighbor. With Ukraine, the response would be much more severe. A nuclear-armed Ukraine would be a red line for Moscow, just as Crimea and Sevastopol were. It is worth remembering the Russian president’s words when referring to the possibility of a NATO invasion of Crimea during the 2014 coup:

“We were ready to do it [putting Russia’s nuclear arsenal on alert]. Russian people live there, they are in danger, we cannot leave them. It was not us who committed to coup, it was the nationalists and people with extreme beliefs. I do not think this is actually anyone’s wish – to turn it into a global conflict.”

As Kiev stands on the precipice, it will be good for the neocons, the neoliberals and their European lackeys to consider the consequences of advising Kiev to jump or not. Giving the nuclear go-ahead to a Ukrainian leadership so unstable and detached from reality may just be the spark that sets off Armageddon.

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Mike Pompeo lays out his vision for American exceptionalism (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 158.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda take a look at Mike Pompeo’s shocking Brussels speech, where the U.S. Secretary of State took aim at the European Union and United Nations, citing such institutions as outdated and poorly managed, in need of a new dogma that places America at its epicenter.

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Speaking in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unwittingly underscored why nobody takes the United States seriously on the international stage. Via The Council on Foreign Relations


In a disingenuous speech at the German Marshall Fund, Pompeo depicted the transactional and hypernationalist Trump administration as “rallying the noble nations of the world to build a new liberal order.” He did so while launching gratuitous attacks on the European Union, United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund (IMF)—pillars of the existing postwar order the United States did so much to create. He remained silent, naturally, on the body blows that the current administration has delivered to its erstwhile allies and partners, and to the institutions that once upon a time permitted the United States to legitimate rather than squander its international leadership.

In Pompeo’s telling, Donald J. Trump is simply seeking a return to the world that former Secretary of State George Marshall helped to create. In the decades after 1945, the United States “underwrote new institutions” and “entered into treaties to codify Western values of freedom and human rights.” So doing, the United States “won the Cold War” and—thanks to the late President George H. W. Bush, “we won the peace” that followed. “This is the type of leadership that President Trump is boldly reasserting.”

That leadership is needed because the United States “allowed this liberal order to begin to corrode” once the bipolar conflict ended. “Multilateralism has too often become viewed as an end unto itself,” Pompeo explained. “The more treaties we sign, the safer we supposedly are. The more bureaucrats we have, the better the job gets done.” What is needed is a multilateralism that once again places the nation-state front and center.

Leave aside for the moment that nobody actually believes what Pompeo alleges: that multilateralism should be an end in itself; that paper commitments are credible absent implementation, verification, and enforcement; or that the yardstick of success is how many bureaucrats get hired. What sensible people do believe is that multilateral cooperation is often (though not always) the best way for nations to advance their interests in an interconnected world of complicated problems. Working with others is typically superior to unilateralism, since going it alone leaves the United States with the choice of trying to do everything itself (with uncertain results) or doing nothing. Multilateralism also provides far more bang for the buck than President Trump’s favored approach to diplomacy, bilateralism.

Much of Pompeo’s address was a selective and tendentious critique of international institutions that depicts them as invariably antithetical to national sovereignty. Sure, he conceded, the European Union has “delivered a great deal of prosperity to the continent.” But it has since gone badly off track, as the “political wake-up call” of Brexit showed. All this raised a question in his mind: “Is the EU ensuring that the interests of countries and their citizens are placed before those of bureaucrats and Brussels?”

The answer, as one listener shouted out, is “Yes!” The secretary, like many U.S. conservative critics of European integration, is unaware that EU member states continue to hold the lion’s share of power in the bloc, which remains more intergovernmental than supranational. Pompeo seems equally unaware of how disastrously Brexit is playing out. With each passing day, the costs of this catastrophic, self-inflicted wound are clearer. In its quest for complete policy autonomy—on ostensible “sovereignty” grounds—the United Kingdom will likely have to accept, as the price for EU market access, an entire body of law and regulations that it will have no say in shaping. So much for advancing British sovereignty.

Pompeo similarly mischaracterizes the World Bank and IMF as having gone badly off track. “Today, these institutions often counsel countries who have mismanaged their economic affairs to impose austerity measures that inhibit growth and crowd out private sector actors.” This is an odd, hybrid critique. It combines a shopworn, leftist criticism from the 1990s—that the international financial institutions (IFIs) punish poor countries with structural adjustment programs—with the conservative accusation that the IFIs are socialist, big-government behemoths. Both are ridiculous caricatures. They ignore how much soul-searching the IFIs have done since the 1990s, as well as how focused they are on nurturing an enabling institutional environment for the private sector in partner countries.

Pompeo also aims his blunderbuss at the United Nations. He complains that the United Nations’ “peacekeeping missions drag on for decades, no closer to peace,” ignoring the indispensable role that blue helmets play in preventing atrocities, as well as a recent Government Accountability Office report documenting how cost-effective such operations are compared to U.S. troops. Similarly, Pompeo claims, “The UN’s climate-related treaties are viewed by some nations simply as a vehicle to redistribute wealth”—an accusation that is both unsubstantiated and ignores the urgent need to mobilize global climate financing to save the planet.

Bizarrely, Pompeo also turns his sights on the Organization of American States (OAS) and the African Union (AU), for alleged shortcomings. Has the OAS, he asks, done enough “to promote its four pillars of democracy, human rights, security, and economic development?” Um, no. Could that have something to do with the lack of U.S. leadership in the Americas on democracy and human rights? Yes. Might it have helped if the Trump administration had filled the position of assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs before October 15 of this year? Probably.

Equally puzzling is Pompeo’s single line riff on the AU. “In Africa, does the African Union advance the mutual interest of its nation-state members?” Presumably the answer is yes, or its members would be headed for the door. The AU continues to struggle in financing its budget, but it has made great strides since its founding in 2002 to better advance security, stability, and good governance on the continent.

“International bodies must help facilitate cooperation that bolsters the security and values of the free world, or they must be reformed or eliminated,” Pompeo declared. Sounds reasonable. But where is this “free world” of which the secretary speaks, and what standing does the United States today have to defend, much less reform it? In the two years since he took office, Donald Trump has never expressed any interest in defending the international order, much less “returning [the United States] to its traditional, central leadership role in the world,” as Pompeo claims. Indeed, the phrase “U.S. leadership” has rarely escaped Trump’s lips, and he has gone out of his way to alienate longstanding Western allies and partners in venues from NATO to the G7.

When he looks at the world, the president cares only about what’s in it for the United States (and, naturally, for him). That cynicism explains the president’s deafening silence on human rights violations and indeed his readiness to cozy up to strongmen and killers from Vladimir Putin to Rodrigo Duterte to Mohammed bin Salman to too many more to list. Given Trump’s authoritarian sympathies and instincts, Pompeo’s warnings about “Orwellian human rights violations” in China and “suppressed opposition voices” in Russia ring hollow.

“The central question that we face,” Pompeo asked in Brussels, “is the question of whether the system as currently configured, as it exists today—does it work? Does it work for all the people of the world?” The answer, of course, is not as well as it should, and not for nearly enough of them. But if the secretary is seeking to identify impediments to a better functioning multilateral system, he can look to his left in his next Cabinet meeting.

“Principled realism” is the label Pompeo has given Trump’s foreign policy. Alas, it betrays few principles and its connection to reality is tenuous. The president has abandoned any pursuit of universal values, and his single-minded obsession to “reassert our sovereignty” (as Pompeo characterizes it) is actually depriving the United States of joining with others to build the prosperous, secure, and sustainable world that Americans want.

“Bad actors have exploited our lack of leadership for their own gain,” the secretary of state declared in Belgium. “This is the poisoned fruit of American retreat.” How true. Pompeo’s next sentence—“President Trump is determined to reverse that”—was less persuasive.

 

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Russia calls on US to put a leash on Petro Poroshenko

The West’s pass for Mr. Poroshenko may blow up in NATO’s and the US’s face if the Ukrainian President tries to start a war with Russia.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Russia called on Washington not to ignore the Poroshenko directives creating an active military buildup along the Ukrainian-Donbass frontier, this buildup consisting of Ukrainian forces and right-wing ultranationalists, lest it “trigger the implementation of a bloody scenario”, according to a Dec 11 report from TASS.

The [Russian] Embassy [to the US] urges the US State Department to recognize the presence of US instructors in the zone of combat actions, who are involved in a command and staff and field training of Ukraine’s assault airborne brigades. “We expect that the US will bring to reason its proteges. Their aggressive plans are not only doomed to failure but also run counter to the statements of the administration on its commitment to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine by political and diplomatic means,” the statement said.

This warning came after Eduard Basurin, the deputy defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic noted that the Ukrainian army was massing troops and materiel for a possible large-scale offensive at the Mariupol section of the contact line in Donbass. According to Basurin, this action is expected to take place on 14 December. TASS offered more details:

According to the DPR’s reconnaissance data, Ukrainian troops plan to seize the DPR’s Novoazovsky and Temanovsky districts and take control over the border section with Russia. The main attack force of over 12,000 servicemen has been deployed along the contact line near the settlements of Novotroitskoye, Shirokino, and Rovnopol. Moreover, more than 50 tanks, 40 multiple missile launcher systems, 180 artillery systems and mortars have been reportedly pulled to the area, Basurin added. Besides, 12 BM-30 Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers have been sent near Volodarsky.

The DPR has warned about possible provocations plotted by Ukrainian troops several times. Thus, in early December, the DPR’s defense ministry cited reconnaissance data indicating that the Ukrainian military was planning to stage an offensive and deliver an airstrike. At a Contact Group meeting on December 5, DPR’s Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova raised the issue of Kiev’s possible use of chemical weapons in the conflict area.

This is a continuation of the reported buildup The Duran reported in this article linked here, and it is a continuation of the full-scale drama that started with the Kerch Strait incident, which itself appears to have been staged by Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko. Following that incident, the president was able to get about half of Ukraine placed under a 30-day period of martial law, citing “imminent Russian aggression.”

President Poroshenko is arguably a dangerous man. He appears to be desperate to maintain a hold on power, though his approval numbers and support is abysmally low in Ukraine. While he presents himself as a hero, agitating for armed conflict with Russia and simultaneously interfering in the affairs of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, he is actually one of the most dangerous leaders the world has to contend with, precisely because he is unfit to lead.

Such men and women are dangerous because their desperation makes them short-sighted, only concerned about their power and standing.

An irony about this matter is that President Poroshenko appears to be exactly what the EuroMaidan was “supposed” to free Ukraine of; that is, a stooge puppet leader that marches to orders from a foreign power and does nothing for the improvement of the nation and its citizens.

The ouster of Viktor Yanukovich was seen as the sure ticket to “freedom from Russia” for Ukraine, and it may well have been that Mr. Yanukovich was an incompetent leader. However, his removal resulted in a tryannical regíme coming into power, that resulting in the secession of two Ukrainian regions into independent republics and a third secession of strategically super-important Crimea, who voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia.

While this activity was used by the West to try to bolster its own narrative that Russia remains the evil henchman in Europe, the reality of life in Ukraine doesn’t match this allegation at all. A nation that demonstrates such behavior shows that there are many problems, and the nature of these secessions points at a great deal of fear from Russian-speaking Ukrainian people about the government that is supposed to be their own.

President Poroshenko presents a face to the world that the West is apparently willing to support, but the in-country approval of this man as leader speaks volumes. The West’s blind support of him “against Russia” may be one of the most tragic errors yet in Western foreign policy.

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