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Donald Trump’s and Angela Merkel’s unhappy summit

A summit meeting intended to create bridges between the leaders of the US and Germany merely highlighted their differences.

Alexander Mercouris

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As she gears up to meet Vladimir Putin in Moscow in May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel – the self-styled “Queen of Europe’ – has concluded a trip to Washington where she had her first meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Merkel previously had a very close relationship with Donald Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, and was widely seen as Obama’s most important foreign policy ally. Given the critical importance of relations with the US for Germany, there is no doubt this close relationship with Obama gave Merkel considerable political standing in Germany and played a key role in securing her position.  The political and perhaps psychological importance of this relationship for Merkel is shown by the way Merkel repeatedly sacrificed other relationships and policy positions in order to preserve it.

Thus in 2014 Merkel reversed the longstanding German policy of maintaining close political and commercial relations with Russia by imposing sanctions on Russia during the Ukrainian crisis that year, and in 2015 she backed away from a plan proposed by her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble to eject Greece from the eurozone to which she had previously appeared to lend support.  On both occasions she did this in order to fall into line with Obama’s wishes.

Angela Merkel undoubtedly anticipated that she would be able to forge a similarly strong relationship with Hillary Clinton – a personal friend – once Hillary Clinton had been elected US President.

The election as US President of Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton therefore came as a shock, and Merkel has struggled to come up with a coherent response.

In doing so she has not been helped by absurd suggestions from Donald Trump’s opponents in the US and Europe that following Donald Trump’s election victory she is now the “leader of the free world”, or by the equally misconceived attempt by Barack Obama following the election to enlist her as the guardian of his legacy.  As Merkel undoubtedly knows, she lacks the power to do either of these things, and the attempts of others to position her into doing them risk making her relationship with Trump even more fraught than it already is.

Her meeting with Trump in Washington was therefore an attempt to build bridges to the new US President and to try to forge a working relationship with him, even if Merkel undoubtedly knows that this can never be as close as the one she had with Obama.

In the event the meeting can hardly have satisfied her.  Instead of building bridges what it showed was the colossal gulf between her and Donald Trump.

Many have spoken of the uneasy body-language and mood of the summit, and much has been made (far too much in my opinion) of Donald Trump’s failure to shake hands with her (for the record I get the impression that Trump is one of those people who simply doesn’t like shaking hands, and nothing should therefore be read into this).

A more useful insight into the lack of mutual understanding between Trump and Merkel is what the two had to say at their joint news conference, of which the official text can be found here

Firstly, it is impossible to avoid noticing the sharp contrast in styles.

As is his way Trump was spontaneous and exuberant, ranging widely over many topics in his usual uninhibited way.  Merkel, who like Obama always picks her words carefully and gives away as little as she can whilst peppering her comments with clichés, was clearly uncomfortable with this.

Beyond that however were the clear disagreements on issues of substance.  These were so great that at one point Merkel was even forced to admit them and say that she was in Washington to defend German interests and to look for compromises

Well, I’m here as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. I represent German interests.  I speak with the President of the United States, who stands up for, as is right, American interests.  That is our task, respectively.  And I must say that I was very gratified to know the very warm and gracious hospitality with which I have been received here.

We held a conversation where we were trying to address also those areas where we disagree, but to try to bring people together, try to show what is our vantage point, what is the American vantage point, and then try to find a compromise which is good for both sides.  Because we need to be fair with each other.  Each and every one is expecting for his or her leader that something good comes out of it for their own people.

For Germany, I can say, well, people are different.  People have different abilities, have different traits of character, have different origins, have found their way into politics along different pathways.  All that is diversity, which is good.  Sometimes it’s difficult to find compromises, but that’s what we’ve been elected for.  If everything just went like that and without problem, we wouldn’t need politicians to do these jobs.

This is very far from the sort of things that Merkel and Obama would say following Merkel’s meetings with Obama, when she and Obama liked to stress the US and Germany’s commonality of views and interests, not their differences and disagreements with each other.

There was also no word at any point in the news conference of any actual agreement being concluded between the two leaders.  Whilst this is not unprecedented, it is usually the case following a meeting between two leaders who are close partners and friends that they announce some agreement or at least some joint initiative, however minimal, in order to conclude the meeting with something positive.  Not only did that not happen on this occasion, but there is no evidence in anything Donald Trump said that he was interested in any such thing or was looking for it.

In fact Trump repeatedly said things during the press conference that would have been guaranteed to make Merkel worried and uncomfortable.

Firstly, as is his way, Trump qualified his (very cursory) support for NATO by presenting Merkel again with a demand for money

I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO, as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense.  Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years, and it is very unfair to the United States.  These nations must pay what they owe.

In order to leave no room for ambiguity that one of the “nations” Trump was referring to is Germany, after the summit Trump followed up this comment with a tweet (see here and here)

Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!

This repeated demand for money, which has become the common refrain coming from all the officials of the Trump administration including Vice-President Pence, Defense Secretary Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson, and not just Donald Trump himself, is making NATO appear less and less like an alliance based on common values and interests, and more and more like a protection racket.

Perhaps that in truth is what NATO has been all along.  The Germans and the US’s other NATO allies do not however like to have it spelled out quite so frankly.  Merkel is known to be personally offended by it.

Whilst Trump spoke about NATO in this frankly rather threatening – even Godfatherish – way, he had absolutely nothing to say about the EU.  He has previously made no secret of his disdain for the EU.  Whilst hosting the ‘Queen of Europe’ he backed off from none of it.  Instead of uttering some word of support for the EU, however qualified, he never once mentioned it.  Merkel will have noticed, and in light of the Brexit crisis and the challenges she is now facing all across Europe, she now knows she no longer has the US President’s support, and it will cause her concern.

On relations with Russia, where some claim to see signs that Donald Trump is backing off from his desire for detente with Russia (for the record, I don’t), and on the related question of Ukraine, Trump spoke not a word of condemnation for Russia’s actions or of support for Ukraine.  His words could scarcely have been more terse or less interested, and again make a startling contrast to what Obama in an identical situation would have said

I also appreciate Chancellor Merkel’s leadership, along with the French President, to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, where we ideally seek a peaceful solution.

On this issue Merkel clearly took the hint, which Trump may have spelled out to her more clearly when they met in private, that Trump wants detente with Russia and does not want the conflict in Ukraine to stand in the way of this, though her choice of words in response were carefully ambiguous and were clearly intended to give her political space

I am very gratified to know that the American administration and also the President, personally, commits himself to the Minsk process.  We need to come to a solution of this problem.  There has to be a safe and secure solution for Ukraine, but the relationship with Russia has to be improved, as well, once the situation there on the ground is clarified.

Minsk is a good basis, but, unfortunately, we haven’t made yet the headway that we want to.  But we are going to work together with our experts in the next few months to come on this issue.

(bold italics added)

This comment is simultaneously a concession to Donald Trump’s desire for detente with Russia – making it seem that Merkel agrees with Trump that an improvement of relations with Russia is a “necessity” – whilst actually imposing a condition that this depends on “clarification” of “the situation on the ground” in Ukraine.  What Merkel is saying is that the “necessary” improvement in relations with Russia depends on “a safe and secure solution for Ukraine” to be achieved through implementation of the Minsk Agreement as she interprets it.

Essentially this is a form of words Merkel has hit on in order to justify keeping the sanctions in place.

The trouble with using this sort of coded language is that whilst someone like Obama or indeed Putin would have no difficulty understanding it, it is highly doubtful that Donald Trump – a man not known for doing subtlety – either does or can be bothered to.  The result is that by continuing to use such coded language in Trump’s presence Merkel – instead of buying herself political space as she intends – is simply highlighting the difference between herself and Trump.

In truth what this exchange actually does is show how the coming of Donald Trump has made Merkel, with her use of coded language, her intricate policies, and her indirect approach to problems, look out of date and out of touch.

By contrast with his cursory words about Ukraine Donald Trump made unambiguously clear that his foreign policy priority is defeating Jihadi terrorism and ISIS.  Thus directly after his almost off the cuff comment on Ukraine Trump said this

Most importantly, our two countries must continue to work together to protect our people from radical Islamic terrorism and to defeat ISIS.  I applaud Chancellor Merkel for Germany’s contributions, both civilian and military, as a counter-ISIS coalition member.

(bold italics added)

The problem for Merkel is that for all the brave talk of German help in the anti-ISIS coalition and in Afghanistan, on this key issue which Donald Trump considers his overriding foreign policy priority, Germany compared to Russia has little to offer and little that it can do.

That this is so is shown by how Merkel struggled to say anything about it

And we said that, obviously, defense and security has a lot of different assets and facets to it.  One the one hand, it’s supporting missions in Africa, for example.  It’s also promoting development assistance, but it’s also helping mission in Africa, for example, in trying to stand up for their own safety and security.

We continue to be in conversation.  What was important for us today was that we were able to talk about Afghanistan, talk about, as the President quite rightly said, the continuing mission of Germany in Afghanistan.  I am very glad that the United States are intending to continue to commit to the Afghan mission as well.

Together, we fight against Islamist terrorism.  Germany is going to step up its work and is going to continue its work in Afghanistan and also in Syria.  We’re going to monitor the situation there very closely.  We’re going to work on political solutions in Syria, but also in Libya — what we talked about.

These comments are both nervous and empty.  They give the impression of Merkel struggling to come up with something meaningful to say.  That is one reason why they range so freely and so aimlessly from Africa to Afghanistan to Syria and to Libya in a few short platitudinous sentences.  They contain no definite commitments because Germany is in no position to make any.

As if this was not all already difficult enough for Merkel, she also had to listen to a fusillade from Trump trashing her positions on immigration and trade policy.

On immigration Trump made crystal clear his complete rejection of Merkel’s stance on the refugee question, once again emphasising how unlike her he views this issue purely through the prism of anti-terrorism, national security policy and national self-interest

We also recognize that immigration security is national security.  We must protect our citizens from those who seek to spread terrorism, extremism and violence inside our borders.  Immigration is a privilege, not a right, and the safety of our citizens must always come first, without question.

On trade policy Trump made no secret of his belief that Germany has taken the US for a ride, and that he sees himself first and foremost as the CEO of United States Inc. and not as the leader of the “Free World”, and that he intends to put the US’s trade and business interests first, whilst putting the US’s trading and business rivals (including Germany) in their place.

In an extraordinary but highly revealing slip Trump even at one point referred to the US by mistake as a “very powerful company” before correcting himself and saying “country”.

First of all, I don’t believe in an isolationist policy, but I also believe a policy of trade should be a fair policy.  And the United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years.  And that’s going to stop.

But I’m not an isolationist.  I’m a free trader, but I’m also a fair trader.  And free trade has led to a lot of bad things happening — you look at the deficits that we have and you look at all of the accumulation of debt.  We’re a very powerful company — country.  We’re a very strong, very strong country.  We’ll soon be at a level that we perhaps have never been before. Our military is going to be strengthened — it’s been depleted.

But I am a trader.  I am a fair trader.  I am a trader that wants to see good for everybody, worldwide.  But I am not an isolationist by any stretch of the imagination.  So I don’t know what newspaper you’re reading, but I guess that would be another example of, as you say, fake news…..

On trade with Germany, I think we’re going to do fantastically well.  Right now, I would say that the negotiators for Germany have done a far better job than the negotiators for the United States.  But hopefully we can even it out.  We don’t want victory, we want fairness.  All I want is fairness.

Germany has done very well in its trade deals with the United States, and I give them credit for it, but — and I can speak to many other countries.  I mean, you look at China, you look at virtually any country that we do business with.  It’s not exactly what you call good for our workers.

(bold italics added)

This is language the like of which Merkel has never heard before and which neither of the two previous US Presidents she has previously dealt with – George W. Bush and Barack Obama – would ever have used.

Merkel, whose entire career has been in politics and who has no business background, is peculiarly ill-equipped to deal with this sort of essentially mercantilist thinking, something which incidentally is also true of the rest of her cabinet.

Something else which will have added to Merkel’s concerns will be the gross insensitivity and lack of deference Trump showed to her.

Not only did Trump repeatedly cut in and answer questions before her, but he even made a joke targeting her former friend Obama at her expense when he drew a parallel between the NSA’s surveillance of her mobile phone with his claim that the Obama administration was listening in to his phone conversations

As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps.  (Laughter.)

Merkel’s irritation and embarrassment at this quip was all too obvious to those attending the news conference.  A more sensitive person than Donald Trump would have anticipated it.  He either didn’t do so, or he did but didn’t care.  In either case he showed no interest in accommodating the feelings of his guest.

Overall the general impression left from Merkel’s visit is of a strained and unhappy relationship.

On issue after issue – NATO, the EU, immigration, trade, relations with Russia – Trump conceded nothing, and the gulf between Trump and Merkel was all too clear.

On the one foreign policy issue that Trump genuinely cares about – crushing Jihadi terrorism and defeating ISIS – Merkel had nothing to offer and appeared at a loss, with nothing useful to say.

Beyond that was the complete absence of any successful personal chemistry between the two leaders.

Whilst it is going too far to say that they actively dislike each other, their personalities and philosophies are so different that it is impossible to see how they can ever be friends, or even partners.  Quite simply Merkel lacks the uninhibitedness and quickness of mind and spirit needed to keep up with Trump – whose ideas she anyway barely understands – or to forge a good relationship with him, whilst Trump for his part is all too obviously concerned not to be taken for her patsy, and finds her ideological way of speaking all but incomprehensible.

Normally when two leaders disagree about so much and have so little in common, the result – usually after various unsuccessful attempts to patch things up – is a total breakdown in their relationship.

The nature of the relationship between the US and Germany however makes that impossible.  Unless Merkel ceases to be Chancellor soon or Trump is somehow removed from the White House, then for the next four years they will be stuck with each other in what will almost certainly become an increasingly unhappy and strained relationship.  Though almost certainly it is still too early for them to dislike each other, before long they probably will.

The alternative is for one of them to go soon.  Since it is becoming increasingly unlikely that Trump is going to be removed from the White House as a result of the ‘Russiagate’ scandal, that puts the question mark on Merkel’s future.

The German elite has had to endure for three years a Chancellor who has done serious damage to Germany’s critical relationship with Russia, and who has brought Germany’s relations with many of its EU partners to the point of crisis.  As elections in Germany loom, will they stick with their current Chancellor as Germany’s relations with Washington also now start to become more difficult, or will they finally start to look for someone new?

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May Forces Brexit Betrayal to its Crisis Point

We’re 29 months later and the U.K. is no closer to being out of the EU than the day of the vote. 

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


The only words that were left out of Theresa May’s announcement of achieving Cabinet approval over her Brexit deal were Mission Accomplished.

Theresa May was put in charge of the U.K. to betray Brexit from the beginning.  She always represented the interests of the European Union and those in British Parliament that backed remaining in the EU.

No one in British ‘high society’ wanted Brexit to pass.   No. One.

No one in Europe’s power elite wanted Brexit to pass.  No. One.

No one in the U.S.’s power elite wanted Brexit to pass.  No. One.

When it did pass The Davos Crowd began the process of sabotaging it.  The fear mongering has done nothing but intensify.  And May has done nothing but waffle back and forth, walking the political tight rope to remain in power while trying to sell EU slavery to the both sides in British Parliament.

We’re 29 months later and the U.K. is no closer to being out of the EU than the day of the vote.  Why?

Because Theresa May’s 585 page ‘deal’ is the worst of all possible outcomes.  If it passes it will leave the EU with near full control over British trade and tax policy while the British people and government have no say or vote in the matter.

It’s punishment for the people getting uppity about their future and wanting something different than what had been planned for them.

Mr. Juncker and his replacement will never have to suffer another one of Nigel Farage’s vicious farragoes detailing their venality ever again.  YouTube will get a whole lot less interesting.

It’s almost like this whole charade was designed this way.

Because it was.

May has tried to run out the clock and scare everyone into accepting a deal that is worse than the situation pre-Brexit because somehow a terrible deal is better than no deal.  But, that’s the opposite of the truth.

And she knows it.  She’s always known it but she’s gone into these negotiations like the fragile wisp of a thing she truly is.

There’s a reason I call her “The Gypsum Lady.” She’s simply the opposite of Margaret Thatcher who always knew what the EU was about and fought to her last political breath to avoid the trap the U.K. is now caught in.

The U.K. has had all of the leverage in Brexit talks but May has gone out of her way to not use any of it while the feckless and evil vampires in Europe purposefully complicate issues which are the height of irrelevancy.

She has caved on every issue to the point of further eroding what’s left of British sovereignty.  This deal leaves the U.K. at the mercy of Latvia or Greece in negotiating any trade agreement with Canada.  Because for a deal between member states to be approved, all members have to approve of it.

So, yeah, great job Mrs. May.  Mission Accomplished.  They are popping champagne corks in Brussels now.

But, this is a Brexit people can be proud of.

Orwell would be proud of Theresa May for this one.

You people are leaving.  Let the EU worry about controlling their borders.  And if Ireland doesn’t like the diktats coming from Brussels than they can decide for themselves if staying in the EU is worth the trouble.

The entire Irish border issue is simply not May’s problem to solve.  Neither is the customs union or any of the other stuff.  These are the EU’s problems.   They are the ones who don’t want the Brits to leave.

Let them figure out how they are going to trade with the U.K.  It is so obvious that this entire Brexit ‘negotiation’ is about protecting the European project as a proxy for the right of German automakers to export their cars at advantageous exchange rates to the U.K. at everyone’s expense.

Same as it was in the days of The Iron Lady.

If all of this wasn’t so predictable it would be comical.

Because the only people more useless than Theresa May are the Tories who care only about keeping their current level of the perks of office.

The biggest takeaway from this Brexit fiasco is that even more people will check out of the political system. They will see it even more clearly for what it is, an irredeemable miasma of pelf and privilege that has zero interest in protecting the rights of its citizens or the value of their labor.

It doesn’t matter if it’s voter fraud in the U.S. or a drawn out betrayal of a binding referendum. There comes a point where those not at the political fringes look behind the veil and realize changing the nameplate above the door doesn’t change the policy.

And once they realize that confidence fails and systems collapse.

Brexit was the last gasp of a dying empire to assert its national relevancy.  Even if this deal is rejected by parliament the process has sown deep divisions which will lead to the next trap and the next and the next and the next.

By then Theresa May will be a distant memory, being properly rewarded by her masters for a job very well done.


Please support the production of independent and alternative political and financial commentary by joining my Patreon and subscribing to the Gold Goats ‘n Guns Investment Newsletter for just $12/month.

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The DOJ Is Preparing To Indict Julian Assange

Ecuador’s relationship with Assange has deteriorated considerably with the election of President Lenin Moreno.

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Via Zerohedge…


The US Justice Department is preparing to indict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange which, after sensitive international negotiations, would likely trigger his extradition to the United States to stand trial, according to the Wall Street Journalciting people in Washington familiar with the matter.

Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against Mr. Assange, the people said. Mr. Assange has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since receiving political asylum from the South American country in 2012.

The people familiar with the case wouldn’t describe whether discussions were under way with the U.K. or Ecuador about Mr. Assange, but said they were encouraged by recent developments.

The exact charges Justice Department might pursue remain unclear, but they may involve the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the disclosure of national defense-related information. –WSJ

In short, the DOJ doesn’t appear to have a clear charge against Assange yet. Then there’s the optics of dragging Assange out of Ecuador’s London Embassy and into the United States, then prosecuting him, and if successful – jailing him.

Prosecuting someone for publishing truthful information would set a terrible and dangerous precedent,” said Assange lawyer Barry Pollack – who says he hasn’t heard anything about a US prosecution.

“We have heard nothing from authorities suggesting that a criminal case against Mr. Assange is imminent,” he added.

Moreover, assuming that even if the DOJ could mount a case, they would be required to prove that Russia was the source of a trove of emails damaging to Hillary Clinton that WikiLeaks released in the last few months of the 2016 election.

An indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller that portrayed WikiLeaks as a tool of Russian intelligence for releasing thousands of hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign has made it more difficult for Mr. Assange to mount a defense as a journalist. Public opinion of Mr. Assange in the U.S. has dropped since the campaign.

Prosecutors have considered publicly indicting Mr. Assange to try to trigger his removal from the embassy, the people said, because a detailed explanation of the evidence against Mr. Assange could give Ecuadorean authorities a reason to turn him over. –WSJ

It’s no secret that Assange and Hillary Clinton aren’t exactly exchanging Christmas cards, however would WikiLeaks’ release of damaging information that was hacked (or copied locally on a thumb drive by a well-meaning American), be illegal for Assange as a publisher?

Despite scant clues as to how the DOJ will prosecute Assange aside from rumors that it has to do with the Espionage Act, the US Government is cooking on something. John Demers – head of the DOJ’s national security division, said last week regarding an Assange case: “On that, I’ll just say, we’ll see.”

The U.S. hasn’t publicly commented on whether it has made, or plans to make, any extradition request. Any extradition request from the U.S. would likely go to British authorities, who have an outstanding arrest warrant for Mr. Assange related to a Swedish sexual assault case. Sweden has since dropped the probe, but the arrest warrant stands.

Any extradition and prosecution would involve multiple sensitive negotiations within the U.S. government and with other countries. –WSJ

Beginning in 2010, the Department of Justice beginning under the Obama administration has drawn a distinction between WikiLeaks and other news organizations – with former Attorney General Eric Holder insisting that Assange’s organization does not deserve the same first amendment protections during the Chelsea Manning case in which the former Army intelligence analyst was found guilty at a court-martial of leaking thousands of classified Afghan War Reports.

US officials have given mixed messages over Assange, with President Trump having said during the 2016 election “I love WikiLeaks,” only to have his former CIA Director, Mike Pompeo label WikiLeaks akin to a foreign “hostile intelligence service” and a US adversary. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that Assange’s arrest is a “priority.”

Ecuador’s relationship with Assange, meanwhile, has deteriorated considerably with the election of President Lenin Moreno – who called the WikiLeaks founder a “stone in our shoe,” adding that Assange’s stay at the London embassy is unsustainable.

Ecuador has been looking to improve relations with the U.S., hosting Vice President Mike Pence in 2018 amid interest in increasing trade.

Ecuador’s Foreign Relations Ministry declined to comment. This month, Foreign Relations Minister José Valencia told a radio station the government hadn’t received an extradition request for Mr. Assange.

Mr. Assange has clashed with his Ecuadorean hosts in over internet access, visitors, his cat and other issues. Last month, he sued Ecuador over the conditions of his confinement. At a hearing last month, at which a judge rejected Mr. Assange’s claims, Mr. Assange said he expected to be forced out of the embassy soon.  –WSJ

Assange and Ecuador seem to have worked things out for the time being; with his months-long communication blackout mostly lifted (with strict rules against Assange participating in political activities that would affect Ecuador’s international relations). Assange is now allowed Wi-Fi, but has to foot the bill for his own phone calls and other communication.

In October, a judge threw out a lawsuit Assange filed against Ecuador from implementing the stricter rules,.

“Ecuador hasn’t violated the rights of anyone,” Attorney General Íñigo Salvador said after the court ruling. “It has provided asylum to Mr. Assange, and he should comply with the rules to live harmoniously inside Ecuador’s public installations in London.”Assange’s attorneys say he will appeal the ruling – however it may be a moot point if he’s dragged into a US courtroom sooner than later.

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Trump Understands The Important Difference Between Nationalism And Globalism

President Trump’s nationalism heralds a return to the old U.S. doctrine of non-intervention.

The Duran

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Authored by Raheem Kassam, op-ed via The Daily Caller:


President Macron’s protests against nationalism this weekend stand in stark contrast with the words of France’s WWII resistance leader and the man who would then become president: General Charles de Gaulle.

Speaking to his men in 1913, de Gaulle reminded them:

“He who does not love his mother more than other mothers, and his fatherland more than other fatherlands, loves neither his mother nor his fatherland.”

This unquestionable invocation of nationalism reveals how far France has come in its pursuit of globalist goals, which de Gaulle described later in that same speech as the “appetite of vice.”

While this weekend the media have been sharpening their knives on Macron’s words, for use against President Trump, very few have taken the time to understand what really created the conditions for the wars of the 20th century. It was globalism’s grandfather: imperialism, not nationalism.

This appears to have been understood at least until the 1980s, though forgotten now. With historical revisionism applied to nationalism and the great wars, it is much harder to understand what President Trump means when he calls himself a “nationalist.” Though the fault is with us, not him.

Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism … By pursuing our own interests first, with no regard to others,’ we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values,” President Macron declared from the pulpit of the Armistice 100 commemorations.

Had this been in reverse, there would no doubt have been shrieks of disgust aimed at Mr. Trump for “politicizing” such a somber occasion. No such shrieks for Mr. Macron, however, who languishes below 20 percent in national approval ratings in France.

With some context applied, it is remarkably easy to see how President Macron was being disingenuous.

Nationalism and patriotism are indeed distinct. But they are not opposites.

Nationalism is a philosophy of governance, or how human beings organize their affairs. Patriotism isn’t a governing philosophy. Sometimes viewed as subsidiary to the philosophy of nationalism, patriotism is better described as a form of devotion.

For all the grandstanding, Mr. Macron may as well have asserted that chicken is the opposite of hot sauce,so meaningless was the comparison.

Imperialism, we so quickly forget, was the order of the day heading into the 20th century. Humanity has known little else but empire since 2400 B.C. The advent of globalism, replete with its foreign power capitals and multi-national institutions is scarcely distinct.

Imperialism — as opposed to nationalism — seeks to impose a nation’s way of life, its currency, its traditions, its flags, its anthems, its demographics, and its rules and laws upon others wherever they may be.

Truly, President Trump’s nationalism heralds a return to the old U.S. doctrine of non-intervention, expounded by President George Washington in his farewell address of 1796:

” … It must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of [Europe’s] politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.”

It should not have to be pointed out that the great wars of the 20th century could not be considered “ordinary vicissitudes”, but rather, that imperialism had begun to run amok on the continent.

It was an imperialism rooted in nihilism, putting the totality of the state at its heart. Often using nationalism as nothing more than a method of appeal, socialism as a doctrine of governance, and Jews as a subject of derision and scapegoating.

Today’s imperialism is known as globalism.

It is what drives nations to project outward their will, usually with force; causes armies to cross borders in the hope of subjugating other human beings or the invaded nation’s natural resources; and defines a world, or region, or continent by its use of central authority and foreign capital control.

Instead of armies of soldiers, imperialists seek to dominate using armies of economists and bureaucrats. Instead of forced payments to a foreign capital, globalism figured out how to create economic reliance: first on sterling, then on the dollar, now for many on the Euro. This will soon be leapfrogged by China’s designs.

And while imperialism has served some good purposes throughout human history, it is only when grounded in something larger than man; whether that be natural law, God, or otherwise. But such things are scarcely long-lived.

While benevolent imperialism can create better conditions over a period of time, humanity’s instincts will always lean towards freedom and self-governance.

It is this fundamental distinction between the United States’ founding and that of the modern Republic of France that defines the two nations.

The people of France are “granted” their freedoms by the government, and the government creates the conditions and dictates the terms upon which those freedoms are exercised.

As Charles Kesler wrote for the Claremont Review of Books in May, “As a result, there are fewer and fewer levers by which the governed can make its consent count”.

France is the archetypal administrative state, while the United States was founded on natural law, a topic that scarcely gets enough attention anymore.

Nationalism – or nationism, if you will – therefore represents a break from the war-hungry norm of human history. Its presence in the 20th century has been rewritten and bastardized.

A nationalist has no intention of invading your country or changing your society. A nationalist cares just as much as anyone else about the plights of others around the world but believes putting one’s own country first is the way to progress. A nationalist would never seek to divide by race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference, or otherwise. This runs contrary to the idea of a united, contiguous nation at ease with itself.

Certainly nationalism’s could-be bastard child of chauvinism can give root to imperialistic tendencies. But if the nation can and indeed does look after its own, and says to the world around it, “these are our affairs, you may learn from them, you may seek advice, we may even assist if you so desperately need it and our affairs are in order,” then nationalism can be a great gift to the 21st century and beyond.

This is what President Trump understands.

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