The Struggle for Europe

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Sertorio
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Re: The Struggle for Europe

Post by Sertorio » Sat Aug 08, 2020 10:02 am

Bundestag MP Likens US’s Threats Against Berlin Over Nord Stream 2 to ‘Declaration of Economic War’

Last week, German media obtained a letter from a group of senior US senators addressed to the management of the German port of Mukran, threatening them with “financial destruction” if they did not immediately stop providing logistical support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

Veteran Bundestag lawmaker and Alliance 90/The Greens coalition leader Jurgen Trittin has likened the recent threats by US senators against the port of Mukran in Sassnitz, northeast Germany to “a declaration of economic war,” and has urged Berlin to take countermeasures.

“The nasty habit of threatening American letters to German companies is growing,” Trittin said in an interview with the German Press Agency (dpa) on Friday.

“This interference into the sovereign affairs of Germany and the European Union has reached an unprecedented level of aggressiveness which must not go unanswered,” the lawmaker added. “The companies involved in this project need protection from Washington’s Wild West methods.”
“Germany and the EU must find a robust response to this US behaviour. This can include the threat of sanctions of [our] own, such as on the import of fracking[-derived LNG] from the USA,” Trittin suggested.

Trittin also took a jab at Chancellor Merkel over her alleged inaction on the matter, pointing out that the port town of Sassnitz, caught in the crosshairs of US senators, is situated in her own constituency. “It’s hard to understand how to explain this continued inaction to the workers of the port,” he said.

The lawmaker’s remarks come in the wake of a letter written by US Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Ron Johnson threatening Sassnitz GmbH, operator of Mukran Port, with “financial destruction” if it continued to take part in providing services for the Nord Stream gas pipeline project.

German Business Asks Berlin for Protection

In response to these threats, the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations demanded that Berlin and the European Commission react and protect German and European companies from such “attacks by third countries”, and provide them with financial and legal support from extraterritorial sanctions.

Manuela Schweisig, minister president of the northeastern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, called the US lawmakers’ threats “absolutely unacceptable”, and added that it was up to Germany, not the US, to decide “where and how to get its energy”.

Neils Annen, minister of state at the Federal Foreign Office, characterised “the US policy of extraterritorial sanctions against close partners and allies” as “a serious attack on our national sovereignty”, and called the tone and content of threatening US letters against German companies “inappropriate”.

Last week, US President Donald Trump again stepped up his attack on Berlin over its NATO defence obligations and support for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. “It’s very interesting. We’re supposed to protect Germany from Russia. That’s fine. But Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for energy. So we’re protecting Germany from Russia. Germany is paying Russia. What’s that all about?” he remarked.

Denmark’s energy agency allowed for the resumption of construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline by anchored pipelaying ships in combination with dynamic positioning vessels in early August.

US Senators Reportedly Threaten German Port Operator With 'Financial Destruction' Over Nord Stream 2
Construction of the €9.5 billion, 1,230 km-long pipeline was halted in December 2019, with just 160 km left to build, after Washington threatened to slap “fatal” sanctions on AllSeas, a Switzerland-based contractor working on the joint Russian-Western European energy project in the 2020 National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA).

Earlier this year, US lawmakers introduced an amendment to the 2021 NDAA to slap new sanctions on the project, with both the House and Senate already greenlighting the initiative.

Nord stream-2

Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture between Russia’s Gazprom and a collection of Western European energy companies including Uniper, Wintershall, Engie, OMV and Royal Dutch Shell. When completed, the pipeline will double the existing Nord Stream capacity to 110 billion cubic meters of gas capacity per year. In late July, German media said there was an added potential benefit from the infrastructure project – the delivery of hydrogen from Russia to Germany to meet growing European demand for the clean fuel.

https://sputniknews.com/business/202008 ... nomic-war/
Slowly Germans are starting to understand what it means being an "ally" of the US. Hopefully they will kick Americans out of Germany in the near future.

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Sertorio
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Re: The Struggle for Europe

Post by Sertorio » Sun Aug 09, 2020 8:30 am

I am posting this highly critical article on the recent EU recovery plan mainly because I feel that what the author thinks is objectionable and a weakness is, in fact, the very strength of that recovery plan. I will explain why I think so.
The Covid Crisis Has Helped Make the Blueprint for a European Superstate
by Claudio Grass
https://mises.org/wire/covid-crisis-has ... superstate

After intense negotiations, long days and nights of clashes, and a distinctly sour note underlying the entire summit, European Union leaders finally agreed on an unprecedented €1.82 trillion ($2.1 trillion) budget and covid recovery package. This agreement provides €750 billion in funding meant to counter the impact of the pandemic and also includes €390 billion in nonrepayable grants to the hardest-hit EU members, with Italy and Spain being the main recipients.

The harsh negotiations brought to the surface once again the deep economic, structural, and cultural divide between north and south. This divide has been at the core of every serious political and economic crisis in the bloc so far, and its reemergence served as yet another reminder of how unnatural, forced, and unsustainable the integration vision of the Europhiles really is. Their wider strategic aims, much like this covid relief package itself, are nothing more than a massive redistribution of wealth and a vain effort to impose uniformity on a radically diverse group of national identities, economic profiles, and local political realities.

As we have seen so many times in past crises, the main sticking point in these most recent “rescue” talks were the legitimate grievances and concerns of the richer countries in the north, including the Netherlands and Austria, about having to foot the bill yet again and bail out their cash-strapped southern neighbors. In this case, the disagreement centered on the question of loans vs. grants, as the richer members initially insisted that the immense sums of money they were forced to give away should at least be repaid at some point in future. And so, in the name of “solidarity,” the nations that put up some opposition, the “frugal four”—Sweden, Denmark, Austria, and the Netherlands—were named and shamed in the media, portrayed as heartless, Dickensian misers. Naturally, the fact that the chief beneficiaries of all that free money were in deep, chronic financial trouble long before the coronavirus even emerged was conveniently left out of the debate. Instead, the “frugal” were put under immense pressure to “do the right thing,” namely to agree that the majority of the support funding would be in the form of pure cash gifts. Apparently, these “persuasion” tactics also included histrionic outbursts: according to the BBC, “at one point French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly banged his fists on the table, as he told the 'frugal four' they were putting the European project in danger.”

The main problem with this record-breaking stimulus package is essentially the same one of all its predecessors over the last decade. Not only does the EU like to redistribute wealth from the north to the south with clockwork regularity, but all these plans also fail to incorporate any kind of serious checks and balances about where and how the money is spent. As a result, we keep seeing massive waste and levels of corruption that are normally associated with developing economies. The scale of this most recent package alone brings this issue into sharper focus, especially as it is underlaid by a joint borrowing scheme that enables poorer EU countries to take out cheap loans using the creditworthiness of their richer neighbors, which act as guarantors.

This brings us to the very practical shortcomings of the mechanics of this relief plan. All these loans and handouts will be financed through an unprecedented amount of debt, which is unsustainable and myopic in and of itself. The fact that this debt is shared, however, makes this “historic deal” all the more insidious, intensely political, and dooms it to failure. This deal signaled the official adoption of the idea of debt mutualization as a funding tool, which clearly paves the way for far deeper EU centralization, even greater powers of taxation and, Brussels's much more direct political power over national governments. This is already evident in the early drafts of the terms and conditions of the loans and grants in the package. There no real strings attached when it comes to transparency and the all practical aspects of how the funds will be used, but there are heavily political requirements. For example, 30 percent of the aid must be spent on a “green” agenda and on combating climate change. There’s also clear language in the agreements that ties the distribution of the aid to compliance with “the rule of law.” That’s a thinly veiled threat against conservative member states like Poland and Hungary, where the democratically elected national governments are known to pass laws that the EU frowns upon. There is, therefore, clear and purely political conditionality attached to that great “unifying” plan.

It might be wrapped in idealistic and melodramatic language, e.g., “rescuing our shared European future,” but what this deal is really about is a blatant power grab. The self-inflicted damage caused by the shutdowns and the lockdowns has been effectively misattributed to the coronavirus itself, which has allowed politicians and Eurocrats to present this recession, that was already evident since the end of last year, as a natural disaster and therefore nobody’s fault. In turn, the resulting economic fallout and the deep financial crisis affecting countless households has been used as an excuse to usher in policies geared towards more centralization. Thus, the answer to all our current problems is “a stronger EU,” even though it was that exact mindset that caused them in the first place.

In this light, the “cure” that is forced upon all Europeans now is not just worse than the disease; it is the disease.
The first comment I want to make is that the success of the richer countries in Europe is not because they are in any way more capable than the poorer states, but because they are in fact exploiting the EU free trade rules to their benefit. Poorer countries in Europe are at a disadvantage not because they are incompetent or corrupt, but because in a pure free trade environment, countries which have a longer experience of investment are necessarily more competitive than countries which started later their development process. No matter how hard people in a less developed country work, they will never be able to compete with the more developed countries. Their production costs will be higher, the prices of their products will be higher, and their trade balances will be negative. The imposition of a radical free trade system prevents the less developed countries having enough time to bring their productive activities to the necessary level of competitiveness. Eventually they will get there, but it may take decades, and the more developed countries will not stand still, waiting for them, so that there will always be a productivity gap. Only a deliberate effort to speed up the development process of the poorer countries may solve this problem. And that means the richer countries helping the less rich. Which so far they haven't wanted to do. The so-called "frugals" just want to preserve their competitive edge as long as possible, making it harder for the poorer countries to invest.

Only some form of political union, with European taxes and a proper European budget, will make it possible for the poorer countries getting the support they need to catch up with their richer partners. The present EU plan, with the planned €300 billion in non-repayable grants can help solving this problem. Of course I agree that strict supervision of those funds will be necessary, in order to make sure they are properly used. Which should be done by the European Commission. But the plan is good and the path towards political union must be followed. Fortunately the UK is no longer a EU member, and therefore it will not be able to sabotage the plan.

And if the Netherlands and the Scandinavians do not want to join this union, they can leave and create a free trade zone with the UK. They will not be missed.

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Sertorio
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Re: The Struggle for Europe

Post by Sertorio » Fri Oct 02, 2020 10:58 am

Macron is right, Europe must come out of America's shadow and reject the bipolar, Cold War era world view pedalled by Washington
By Rachel Marsden

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/502366-macron-nato-europe-us/

The French president is showing signs that he’s willing to follow the path first forged by General De Gaulle, who kicked US forces out of France and pulled the country out of NATO to preserve sovereignty and independence.

It was a remarkable statement from a modern European leader. During a visit to Lithuania this week, French President Emmanuel Macron said, “We, some countries more than others, gave up on our strategic independence by depending too much on American weapons systems. We cannot accept to live in a bipolar world made up of the US and China.”

Macron has shown repeated signs of wanting to lead an effort to reject global models that are now as outdated as the Berlin Wall. And that includes Europe’s role in the world as a third major pole in this multipolar world now divided primarily into East and West. But it has been an uphill battle. Old institutions that depend on outdated paradigms have shown that they’re willing to sacrifice peace, prosperity, and progress, rather than be forced to take a hard look in the mirror.

NATO, which exists to make US foreign policy seem like a multilateral coalition effort in the same way that a gang leader who wants to beat someone up always asks his posse to accompany him, is one such institution. And it hasn’t escaped Macron’s attention.

“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” Macron told the Economist in an interview last year.

Macron was referencing American unilateralism under President Donald Trump. But when has cooperation with other countries ever mattered beyond the US paying lip-service to the idea? When have other NATO nations not been strong-armed into backing an intervention or initiative that the US had already decided that it wanted?

The French president has said that NATO – created for the sole purpose of opposing the old Soviet Union – should modernize its raison d’être in light of new threats. “Is our enemy today, as I hear sometimes, Russia? Is it China? Is it the Atlantic alliance’s purpose to designate them as enemies? I don’t think so,” Macron has said, suggesting that terrorism could be the new boogeyman instead.

While visiting French troops this week serving a NATO mission in the Baltics – who are there on the pretext of protecting the region from Russia – Macron also underlined France’s initiative of strategic dialogue with Moscow. Equally absurd is the fact that Macron is constantly having to defend any rapprochement with Russia, as though diplomacy and cooperation should be strictly reserved for nations with which you’re already in total lockstep.

Europe has to forge its own agenda and partnerships, even if NATO decides to stick to shadowboxing with the ghosts of past conflicts. If Europe doesn’t look out for its own interests, no one else will. The US certainly won’t. Whenever American interests come into conflict with Europe’s, it’s always Europe that takes the hit.

For example, Europe was set to be the primary commercial beneficiary of the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran. The American government had long been in unilateral control of who could or couldn’t do business in Iran, granting certain companies waivers and exemptions from sanctions at their sole discretion. Lifting all sanctions in exchange for inspections was set to be a boon for Europe’s economy. But because Trump decided to withdraw from the agreement, Europe’s plans were dashed.

And it was only because the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, set to supply Europe with Russian gas, is at odds with US interests, that European companies and governments have been repeatedly threatened by the US. “We will do everything we can to make sure that that pipeline doesn't threaten Europe,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “We want Europe to have real, secure, stable, safe energy resources that cannot be turned off in the event Russia wants to.” Translation: Washington wants Europe to buy their gas and to be dependent on America. This would also allow the US to threaten to turn off the supply at any time. And to prove just how much Pompeo cares about Europe’s welfare, he’s also wielding sanctions against European companies involved in the project.

These examples show that the existential threat to Europe isn’t Russia. It’s not Russia that’s always trying to drag European countries into questionable foreign interventions. It’s not Moscow that’s harming the continent’s economy by threatening it with sanctions whenever it adopts a position at odds with Russia’s own interests.

Macron has the right idea. And he’ll continue to face enormous pressure, bullying, and manipulation attempts for attempting to foster European independence and prosperity through increased diversification of its interests and a better balance of its partnerships.
I may end up liking Macron... :shock:

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Re: The Struggle for Europe

Post by neverfail » Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:01 pm

I don't mind the idea of Europe becoming "4th force" in world affairs but would France wield sufficient authority to lead it?

If not France then who?

I can just imagine the divisive politics that might erupt in Europe over the issue. While the USA was and remains the undisputed leader of NATO then the politics of who leads were (and are) null and void. But mark my words: with Europe a seperate alliance coalition from the USA/Canada the vexed question of who is going to lead will come to haunt the Europeans.

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Re: The Struggle for Europe

Post by Sertorio » Tue Nov 17, 2020 4:30 am

Europe Can No Longer Rely On The US For Protection Even With Biden In Office, Macron Warns
by Tyler Durden

With France under lockdown from COVID-19 and reeling from a series of gruesome Islamic terror attacks, French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday revived talk of a pan-European army by telling a reporter that Europe must not revert to relying on the US for its security even after President Trump leaves office.

President Trump's early criticisms of NATO, along with America's outsized role in financing the defense of its international allies, led to more European nations increasing their defense spending during Trump's four years in office. With Americans now broadly in favor of Trump's view regarding NATO and the sharing of responsibility for sovereign defense, Macron pointed out in Le Grand Continent, a Paris-based policy journal, that things likely won't ever revert to the way they were.

"The United States will only respect us as allies if we are earnest, and if we are sovereign with respect to our defense," Macron said. "We need to continue to build our independence for ourselves."

Along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Macron is one of Europe's biggest advocates for an EU-wide "army". The sorry state of Germany's army, however, is one major obstacle.

Macron also slammed German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who earlier this month insisted that it's "an illusion” to think the EU can replace America's role in upholding security on the continent. "That it is a historical misinterpretation," he said. "Fortunately, if I understood things correctly, the chancellor does not share this point of view," Macron said, referring to Merkel.

Last year, Macron angered his fellow EU leaders by arguing that NATO had suffered "brain death" at the hands of Trump, and that the time had finally arrived for the EU to embark on a more "independent" foreign policy.

Seeing as geopolitics is a zero-sum gain, if the EU were to drift from the US, it would inevitably seek to tighten ties with China, all while double-talking about the importance of green energy and lowering greenhouse-gas emissions.

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/ ... cron-warns
It may take time, but Europe will be self-sufficient in defense and will tell the US that its presence is no longer welcome in Europe.

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Re: The Struggle for Europe

Post by Doc » Tue Nov 17, 2020 5:27 am

Sertorio wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 4:30 am
Europe Can No Longer Rely On The US For Protection Even With Biden In Office, Macron Warns
by Tyler Durden

With France under lockdown from COVID-19 and reeling from a series of gruesome Islamic terror attacks, French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday revived talk of a pan-European army by telling a reporter that Europe must not revert to relying on the US for its security even after President Trump leaves office.

President Trump's early criticisms of NATO, along with America's outsized role in financing the defense of its international allies, led to more European nations increasing their defense spending during Trump's four years in office. With Americans now broadly in favor of Trump's view regarding NATO and the sharing of responsibility for sovereign defense, Macron pointed out in Le Grand Continent, a Paris-based policy journal, that things likely won't ever revert to the way they were.

"The United States will only respect us as allies if we are earnest, and if we are sovereign with respect to our defense," Macron said. "We need to continue to build our independence for ourselves."

Along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Macron is one of Europe's biggest advocates for an EU-wide "army". The sorry state of Germany's army, however, is one major obstacle.

Macron also slammed German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who earlier this month insisted that it's "an illusion” to think the EU can replace America's role in upholding security on the continent. "That it is a historical misinterpretation," he said. "Fortunately, if I understood things correctly, the chancellor does not share this point of view," Macron said, referring to Merkel.

Last year, Macron angered his fellow EU leaders by arguing that NATO had suffered "brain death" at the hands of Trump, and that the time had finally arrived for the EU to embark on a more "independent" foreign policy.

Seeing as geopolitics is a zero-sum gain, if the EU were to drift from the US, it would inevitably seek to tighten ties with China, all while double-talking about the importance of green energy and lowering greenhouse-gas emissions.

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/ ... cron-warns
It may take time, but Europe will be self-sufficient in defense and will tell the US that its presence is no longer welcome in Europe.
After 75 years I would certainly hope that Europe has grown up enough to fend for itself.
“"I fancied myself as some kind of god....It is a sort of disease when you consider yourself some kind of god, the creator of everything, but I feel comfortable about it now since I began to live it out.” -- George Soros

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Re: The Struggle for Europe

Post by Jim the Moron » Tue Nov 17, 2020 7:35 am

"After 75 years I would certainly hope that Europe has grown up enough to fend for itself." (Doc)
One would hope so, but I'm not optimistic.

"Last year, Macron angered his fellow EU leaders by arguing that NATO has suffered 'brain death' at the hands of Trump, and that the time has finally arrived for the EU to embark on a more 'independent' foreign policy." (from the linked article)
If true, no mourners please. NATO was a means for Europeans to bleed the US.

"It may take time, but Europe will be self-sufficient in defense and will tell the US that its presence is no longer welcome in Europe." (Sertorio)
Biden argues otherwise. He's all for handing US foreign policy over to our "allies." And most Europeans welcome that, even as the greatest threat to Europe is Islam.

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Re: The Struggle for Europe

Post by Sertorio » Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:15 am

Jim the Moron wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 7:35 am
"After 75 years I would certainly hope that Europe has grown up enough to fend for itself." (Doc)
One would hope so, but I'm not optimistic.

"Last year, Macron angered his fellow EU leaders by arguing that NATO has suffered 'brain death' at the hands of Trump, and that the time has finally arrived for the EU to embark on a more 'independent' foreign policy." (from the linked article)
If true, no mourners please. NATO was a means for Europeans to bleed the US.

"It may take time, but Europe will be self-sufficient in defense and will tell the US that its presence is no longer welcome in Europe." (Sertorio)
Biden argues otherwise. He's all for handing US foreign policy over to our "allies." And most Europeans welcome that, even as the greatest threat to Europe is Islam.
Foreign affairs and international relations have for many years not been priorities for many Europeans. We seem to think that nothing can touch us, and in the unlikely situation of a threat arising, we expect the US to take care of it. Only very stupid people can think so, and I hope we aren't all that stupid. In fact the world is a dangerous place, and we, Europeans, could contribute to make it safer. But to do so we need to be completely independent. Economically, politically and militarily. We cannot be followers of anybody, whether Americans, Russians or Chinese. We must be able to deal with the US, Russia and China as equals, and that requires strength of will and obeisance to a strong set of values. It's in our hands - and within our reach - to achieve that.

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Re: The Struggle for Europe

Post by Jim the Moron » Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:14 am

Sertorio wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:15 am
Jim the Moron wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 7:35 am
"After 75 years I would certainly hope that Europe has grown up enough to fend for itself." (Doc)
One would hope so, but I'm not optimistic.

"Last year, Macron angered his fellow EU leaders by arguing that NATO has suffered 'brain death' at the hands of Trump, and that the time has finally arrived for the EU to embark on a more 'independent' foreign policy." (from the linked article)
If true, no mourners please. NATO was a means for Europeans to bleed the US.

"It may take time, but Europe will be self-sufficient in defense and will tell the US that its presence is no longer welcome in Europe." (Sertorio)
Biden argues otherwise. He's all for handing US foreign policy over to our "allies." And most Europeans welcome that, even as the greatest threat to Europe is Islam.
Foreign affairs and international relations have for many years not been priorities for many Europeans. We seem to think that nothing can touch us, and in the unlikely situation of a threat arising, we expect the US to take care of it. Only very stupid people can think so, and I hope we aren't all that stupid. In fact the world is a dangerous place, and we, Europeans, could contribute to make it safer. But to do so we need to be completely independent. Economically, politically and militarily. We cannot be followers of anybody, whether Americans, Russians or Chinese. We must be able to deal with the US, Russia and China as equals, and that requires strength of will and obeisance to a strong set of values. It's in our hands - and within our reach - to achieve that.

Superior commentary, Sertorio.

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Sertorio
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Re: The Struggle for Europe

Post by Sertorio » Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:37 am

Jim the Moron wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:14 am
Sertorio wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:15 am
Jim the Moron wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 7:35 am
"After 75 years I would certainly hope that Europe has grown up enough to fend for itself." (Doc)
One would hope so, but I'm not optimistic.

"Last year, Macron angered his fellow EU leaders by arguing that NATO has suffered 'brain death' at the hands of Trump, and that the time has finally arrived for the EU to embark on a more 'independent' foreign policy." (from the linked article)
If true, no mourners please. NATO was a means for Europeans to bleed the US.

"It may take time, but Europe will be self-sufficient in defense and will tell the US that its presence is no longer welcome in Europe." (Sertorio)
Biden argues otherwise. He's all for handing US foreign policy over to our "allies." And most Europeans welcome that, even as the greatest threat to Europe is Islam.
Foreign affairs and international relations have for many years not been priorities for many Europeans. We seem to think that nothing can touch us, and in the unlikely situation of a threat arising, we expect the US to take care of it. Only very stupid people can think so, and I hope we aren't all that stupid. In fact the world is a dangerous place, and we, Europeans, could contribute to make it safer. But to do so we need to be completely independent. Economically, politically and militarily. We cannot be followers of anybody, whether Americans, Russians or Chinese. We must be able to deal with the US, Russia and China as equals, and that requires strength of will and obeisance to a strong set of values. It's in our hands - and within our reach - to achieve that.

Superior commentary, Sertorio.
Thank you, Jim. I don't always succeed in putting my ideas across in an intelligible way... :(

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