Previous posts in this discussion:
PostBrexit, Britain's "Hard Divorce"; What Would a Corbyn-Trump Relationship Look Like? (Timothy Ashby, South Africa, 10/12/17 4:12 am)
Considering that most Tories of my acquaintance (including government ministers) revile Donald Trump, I can only speculate that any Trump-Corbyn "relationship" would be abysmal. Although both men are radical populists, they are so far apart ideologically that it is doubtful that common ground could be found on any issue.
Trump is scheduled to visit the UK next year to inaugurate the new US embassy in Vauxhall (which has the MI-6 HQ as its neighbour). His visit has been downgraded from a state visit to a "working trip" due to the certainty of mass protests. More than 1.8 million people signed a petition against the state visit and House of Commons Speaker John Bercow (a former Tory MP) told MPs that Trump should not be allowed to address Parliament. London Mayor Sadiq Khan also opposed the visit, saying he was "not sure it is appropriate for our Government to roll out the red carpet" for Mr Trump.
If, as seems likely, Corbyn and the Labour Party form the next government, their policies will expedite the decline of the UK. For example, the Labour Party manifesto contains plans to abolish Council Taxes (which every householder must pay) and replace them with "garden taxes" which, bizarrely, would hurt people with gardens as well as agricultural properties. Tax on the average family home would go up from £1,185 to £3,837 per year, an increase of £2,651 or 224 per cent.
This policy would have an insidious purpose--the majority of Labour supporters live in rental apartments, and would end up paying little or no property tax. A majority of Conservative supporters are middle class people who own houses with small gardens. The policy would punish Tory voters and reward Labour supporters. The people who would suffer the most are old-age pensioners who may have paid £20,000 for their semi-detached houses decades ago which are now worth over £1 million (this is the case with Rosemary's little "2-up, 2-down" cottage in Barnes, SW London, and with our neighbours, many of whom are young couples or families who have scrimped and saved to get on the "property ladder"). Because virulent class envy is alive and well in today's Labour Party, this tax is also designed to hurt owners of country estates (many of which are now held in trust). However, this would also harm farmers, forcing up food prices or the abandonment of farms.
The Labour Party also plans controls to prevent capital flight (which is already happening), and to abolish schemes such as the Seed Enterprise Investments Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) which were legislated to attract investment in early stage technology companies. Without such tax incentives, the UK's thriving technology sector will implode. I know of three early-stage tech companies which are in the process of moving to Berlin, which is fast becoming a major European tech hub.
Now, in response to John Heelan (11 October). I am indeed familiar with EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). To answer John Eipper's question: the EHIC is nominally separate from any EU connections. But of the major factors in deciding whether the EHIC will still be available for UK citizens post-Brexit is whether the UK also leaves the European Economic Area (EEA), which is not part of the EU. As John Heelan correctly notes, the future status of the EHIC is an open question. However, it should be noted that one of the Leave campaign's primary planks was curtailing immigration from EU members. I understand that membership in the EEA stipulates the free movement of people within the EU, so it is possible that Britons will lose their access to health care in other European EEA members.
JE comments: Impose a "garden tax," and people will pave or build over their gardens (yards). These kinds of taxes are akin to window taxes of yore. Suddenly everyone bricked them up. Didn't the UK learn its lesson in the 18th century?
Tim Ashby's posts on UK politics are fast becoming some of my favorite WAIS content. (I said some of: almost all WAIS content is really, really interesting.) Despite--because of?--his Yank status, Tim has done a splendid job of gaining an insider's perspective in London.
Jolly good show, Tim!
Eccleston Street, Victoria, London (Alamy stock photo)
Capital Flight and a Possible Corbyn Government
(Istvan Simon, USA
10/12/17 3:48 PM)
I hope that if Jeremy Corbyn's government materializes and if Tim Ashby's predictions of what they will do also happen, that his government will collapse quickly before it does irreparable damage to the UK economy.
Trying to control capital flight is like trying to control flowing flood waters with a handful of sand in your hands. The sand will be soon gone, but the water will continue to flow. Even China is unable to control capital flight, and there is hardly any more authoritarian government than China's, whose leaders basically can do whatever they want with impunity--witness the unbelievable stupidity of Mao Zedong's murderous misgovernment until he was, fortunately for China and the world, claimed by the grim reaper.
I want to take the opportunity to also answer Nigel Jones''s comments on my views on Britain's defense. For a historian specializing in World War II, Nigel's comments sound really strange to my ears. He says that Britain is part of NATO and that will remain, regardless of Brexit. That is true. But the implication that therefore there is nothing to worry about Britain's defense is false. If Britain is not part of the EU, its NATO situation will also change, because the EU's member states' views on defense will have more weight in NATO than the UK by itself. I believe that it is false to say that this will have no effect on the defense of the UK.
Once again, I refer to WW II, and the comparatively less powerful British navy of today compared to the British navy in WW II. (JE misunderstood my reference to the Battle of the Atlantic, which he seems to have confused with the Battle of Britain. I said nothing in my post about the Battle of Britain, won by the RAF. I was referring to Germany's clever plan to choke the life out of Britain by sinking merchant ships. This is what the Battle of the Atlantic was all about.) And it has implications about the defense of today's Britain.
Nigel also did not understand my analysis. He asks defense against whom? I say, against any conceivable enemy. Not Europe certainly, I do not foresee any military challenges within NATO. But the future may bring challenges to Britain not seen in the past. And if and when that happens, Britain still will need to defend its supply lines, because still today Britain is an island, and cannot feed itself, nor has natural resources for its industries and economy. Its economy heavily depends on imports and exports, and hence it must be able to defend the sea lanes where most of those imports and exports travel. That is why the relative decline of the British navy is a threat to Britain's defense, particularly if it goes on its own separately from the EU. Like it or not, Nigel Jones and Britain will learn that others will decide about Britain's fate, including the EU countries that Nigel now disdains.
Here is some reading for interested WAISers on what I am talking about. There are also many other references about the decline of the British Navy.
JE comments: I stand corrected on the Battles of Britain and the Atlantic. Let me come to Nigel Jones's defense on one point, however: Nigel's disdain is for the EU itself, not for the EU countries. Nigel is quite the Francophile, and he has lived in Spain and Austria. When he last wrote a few days ago, it was from Ypres in Belgium, where his uncle is buried.
EUphobia vs Europhilia
(Nigel Jones, UK
10/13/17 3:39 AM)
I am grateful to our esteemed editor (October 12th) for pointing out that my opposition to the EU does not make me a xenophobe, little Englander, or any of the other epithets we anti-EUites are often tarred with.
In fact not only am I "something of a Francophile" as John Eipper mentioned, I married one, and have a half-French daughter. I also have a half-Austrian son who marries a Russian woman in Vienna next month, have lived and worked for years in Germany and Austria, speak German, and my mother lived, died, and is buried in Spain. So no more aspersions on my European credentials please!
What Istvan Simon fails to grasp is that it is precisely because I love Europe's ancient nations that I--and many millions of other Europeans--do not want to see our countries subsumed in some faceless bureaucratic morass like the EU. How Istvan, with his bitter experience of Communist eastern Europe, cannot see the close resemblance between the Soviet empire and the EU is frankly baffling. Mikhail Gorbachev certainly does.
Let me ask Istvan to imagine that a conglomerate of states neighbouring the US--the OAS and Canada say--come together in "ever closer union " and persuade the US to join them. Over the course of the next forty years this union overrides the US constitution, forces Congress to pass into law its decrees, buys its politicians and makes them well paid and pensioned but unelected officials called " commissioners," replaces the Stars and Stripes and the US national anthem with its own flag and song, tries to abolish the dollar in favour of its own currency, and transforms the US from a proud and independent nation into a powerless province of its empire. Finally, a majority of Americans wake up to what has happened and vote to leave the empire, cost what it may.
That is Britain's history over the past half century, and I hope that on reflection Istvan will come to understand why, were he a Briton, he would probably have voted Leave too!
JE comments: Nigel Jones's love for Europeans but disdain for the EU begs for new language. "Europhobia" is ambiguous, as it connotes both a suspicion of the EU and a dislike for Europe in general. I offer "EUphobia." Problem is, "euphobia" already exists, as the (decidedly strange) fear of hearing good news. Is this because only bad news can ensue, or that good news is terrifying in its own right?
Congratulate your son on behalf of all WAISworld, Nigel. It is uncanny how many in the WAIS family have spouses/partners from different countries and cultures. Most of us?
EUphobia: My Perspective
(Boris Volodarsky, Austria
10/15/17 4:56 AM)
A very nice post from Nigel Jones (13 October) about the EU.
To my mind, the EU is an absolutely disgusting creature. Among one of my acquaintances, but not friends, is an MEP representing the UKIP in the European parliament. We first met exactly ten years ago and I see he is still there, a prominent member of their 20-member delegation. Once at lunch I asked him about his work. He said, "You know what, I wake up in the morning, take a Eurostar business class, go to Brussels, listen to what they have to say, have a beer and come back to London. To be honest, I cannot do anything else and I do not want to." And I guess his salary is very fat and his pension is going to be extremely satisfactory.
During those ten years I have asked him two or three times to do this or that, like, for example, to help arrange a viewing of the Andrei Nekrasov's documentary about Bill Browder and the Magnitsky case (scheduled to be shown to the MEPs but then suddenly forbidden) and he always answered, "Look, none of us can do anything at all. We are here to be present, to show that we are here and that is all." Finally, I gave up.
About the family business. I come from Russia, was born on the Volga, a very Russian river where they used to have Beluga, Ossetra, Sturgeon and Sterlet caviar and fish (not anymore). My father was Russian and my mother ethnic German. I am married to a Polish lady and have lived for 20 years in Vienna and ten in London. My son is Austrian and is trilingual while I guess many of us WAISers, are multilingual. So, like Nigel, I love Europe but absolutely dislike that "faceless bureaucratic morass, the EU."
Nigel, your son's wedding in Vienna to a Russian woman sounds good, congratulations, but if I were you I would check her out--maybe her real name is Anna Chapman or similar. Vienna is a very special city. Anyway, if you are going to attend the event, just let me know and I shall be happy to invite you for a Wiener Melange at the Landtmann. At the same time, Tim Ashby has already invited me to the London's famous Carlton Club in St James's so in case it all works there will be some photos that our esteemed editor wants to see.
JE comments: Will the British MEPs still be getting their pensions post-Brexit? I suspect they somehow will. I'm never one to sing the praises of bureaucrats, but isn't a UKIP MEP something of a kosher pork chop? He would say he can't do anything in Brussels and doesn't want to, wouldn't he?
I checked out the Landtmann menu last night. Scrumpdillyicious. Boris, do they send carry-out across the Pond?
Brexit: Ideological Passions and Economic Realities
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
10/16/17 3:41 AM)
I have been following from a distance the WAIS discussion on Brexit, which it is beginning to remind me of some sort of Greek tragedy. It is a very complex situation and it seems ridiculous when some unprofessional (uninformed, irresponsible, superficial, etc.) commentator blurts out sharp personal opinion without backup evidence to support it.
One thing is for sure, if I were a Brit (and unfortunately I cannot be that too), I would be greatly worried about what Timothy Ashby said: "Close to 80 percent of British food imports (worth around £20 billion per annum) come from EU member states, and if no trade agreement is reached Britain and the EU would have to treat each other as World Trade Organization members following WTO rules, which would mean average tariffs of 22 percent, with some as high as 46 percent for Italian mozzarella cheese, and 40 percent for Irish beef."
I would be less worried about smoke-blowing ideologues and personal opinions on politics and politicians.
We all seem to be cursed by irresponsible and corrupt leaders. It is a horrible thing that we seem to tolerate because we don't have what it takes to fix our political leader election process. But a 20-40 percent increase in food prices will sting much of the population, and will significantly reduce the standard of living. What are the social political implications? What will Britain do in return?
JE comments: A 20%, or even 40% tariff on imported foods will no doubt change consumption habits. Won't UK food producers see this as a windfall? Less wine, more beer?
On post-Brexit air travel between the UK and the Continent, see Ángel Viñas (next).
Food Tariffs Post-Brexit?
(Cameron Sawyer, Russia
10/16/17 2:32 PM)
Tor Guimaraes quoted Ángel Viñas on October 16th:
"Close to 80 percent of British food imports (worth around £20 billion per annum) come from EU member states, and if no trade agreement is reached Britain and the EU would have to treat each other as World Trade Organization members following WTO rules, which would mean average tariffs of 22 percent, with some as high as 46 percent for Italian mozzarella cheese, and 40 percent for Irish beef."
WTO rules do not require tariffs--on the contrary, they limit them. Why in the world would the UK impose tariffs on imported food? I think someone has the wrong end of the stick here.
JE comments: Can't we be fairly certain that a wrathful EU will slap a tariff on British foodstuffs, which can only result in retaliation? Granted, the proof will be in the (hasty) pudding.
What the heck is hasty pudding anyway?
Will There be a Food Tariff War Post-Brexit?
(Cameron Sawyer, Russia
10/17/17 7:52 AM)
When responding to my post of October 16th, JE wrote: "Can't we be fairly certain that a wrathful EU will slap a tariff on British foodstuffs, which can only result in retaliation? Granted, the proof will be in the (hasty) pudding."
No, I don't think we can be certain of this, not at all.
On the contrary, I think we can be fairly certain that there will be no broad-based trade war between the UK and EU in the food sector. The UK's not being "self-sufficient" in food means that the UK is a net importer of food. That means that a trade war would hurt EU producers more than UK producers. Add to that the precarious financial position of the EU Common Agricultural Policy, and throw in the fact that French farmers are one of the most powerful political forces in the EU, and you can see that a trade war in food with the UK would be suicidal for the EU.
The EU may or may not be as evil as our friends Nigel Jones and others believe, but it is certainly not so stupid as this. If the EU does attempt to squash French farmers, or German machine-tool builders, the way it did British fishermen once upon a time, it will simply cease to exist. One should not underestimate the existential risk to the EU of getting Brexit wrong--the EU actually has more to lose than the UK does, because the EU can be dissolved tomorrow, if the broad mass of Europeans see it as hurting their jobs and pocketbooks, but the UK government cannot.
Trade in agricultural products is actually the UK's ace in the hole, in its trade negotiations with the EU. The EU needs uninhibited trade in agricultural products with the UK far more than the UK does, for political (French farmers; viability of the EU Common Agricultural Policy) as well as economic reasons.
In general, broad-based trade wars no longer occur between civilized countries, because they cause so much harm to both sides of them, including political harm. There are few countries on the earth, in this age of globalism, even with non-democratic forms of government, which are able to bear the political consequences from imposing broad-based suffering on their populations and large-scale economic harm, by engaging in broad-based trade wars--Putin's Russia after the 2014 sanctions being a practically unique exception. Trade wars, when they occur between civilized countries, occur over narrowly targeted, symbolic sectors.
So I would advise taking the bluster and posturing presently going on in the Brexit negotiations with a big grain, nay a box of salt. The UK and EU are highly interdependent and neither side can afford a big trade war, least of all, the EU, which cannot survive without the support of the myriad industries, and their employees, which depend on exports to the UK.
JE comments: Cameron Sawyer makes a strong case, but aren't we underestimating the spite factor? France's farmers notwithstanding, Brussels will want to put some hurt on the British, even if it ends up costing them more in strictly economic terms. Must make other potentially straying members think twice.
- Questions for the EUrophobe (Istvan Simon, USA 10/16/17 12:26 PM)
I am always fascinated by Boris Volodarsky's informative posts and his perspective is always insightful. Once again, I'd like to say that I do not have a horse in the EU debate either. I have a favorable opinion about the EU, but if member countries do not think so, I am equally happy with a non-united Europe. That is, I am pretty dispassionate and flexible about the organization of Europe's structure.
The EU may be unredeemable as Nigel Jones and Boris Volodarsky say. I may not be sufficiently well informed about its supposedly unredeemable features. Still I think it would be useful to discuss this in more dispassionate terms than what Nigel's hatred of the EU has revealed. So I ask Nigel to put his passions in the back burner for the moment and let us talk as civilized people respecting the views of the opposition.
I have something to ask Boris about his story about the British UKIP MEP. With all due respect I think his friend was profoundly dishonest in being an MEP for UKIP. And with all due respect, to be part of an organization to undermine it is in my view morally despicable. So his views may have been colored by this desire to undermine the European Parliament. From this point of view I am more interested in what Ángel Viñas has to say about the EU, because at least he is a believer in its usefulness and worked for what he believed in. One cannot say the same about the British UKIP MEP. I ask Boris if he agrees with what I said in this last paragraph, and in either case, whether he agrees or not, why.
Further, I would like to ask both Nigel and Boris the following questions. Before I ask the questions I would like to set the framework with my view of the EU.
The EU was formed after the Common Market was a huge success for the original 6 countries. It was born of the idea that Europe could be more important on the world stage if it was a united conglomerate of states bound by certain common values together. Even though culturally very different, as Nigel correctly says of the member states, still it is a fact I think that there are certain important common values as well. These values are:
1 A belief in democratically elected governments.
2. A belief in free markets, including a common labor market.
3. A belief in competition (by the way, this is a profoundly non-Marxist view, Nigel).
4. A belief that the defense of Europe can be more effective in a union than separately. NATO is more effective if a member country is also a member of the EU than would be otherwise. The United States government under president Obama agreed with this last point, and this is the reason why President Obama stated clearly that we were opposed to Brexit.
So preliminarily, I want to ask Nigel and Boris if they agree with the above 4 points in the abstract--that is disregarding for the moment whatever failures the EU has in its actual current implementation. So I propose that we discuss these four points in the abstract first. Do Boris and Nigel agree with my 4 points in the abstract? If they don't, why not?
After we discuss these ideas in the abstract we can turn the discussion to the failures of the EU in its actual implementation, and why a better implementation is possible or not.
I would like to add a few comments about the current flawed implementation of the EU and yet defend its usefulness. I also ask Nigel and Boris to comment on my ideas, and explain why they disagree or agree with what I say in my comments below.
Let's look at the EU from the perspective of Google or Microsoft. Both of these American companies have had problems with the EU, in that the EU sued and fined both of them for what they considered anti-competitive practices. Still, I would like to propose the idea that even though, if I am Google or Microsoft I'd rather be dealing with the troublesome EU authorities than if they did not exist. Why? Because if the EU did not exist, I would have to deal with 28 different bureaucracies. This way, at least I only have to satisfy one bureaucracy, and once they are satisfied I can do business in all 28 member countries unmolested. The value of this for Google or Microsoft, Boeing, Lockheed, Apple, Motorola, Linux, etc. is obvious.
JE comments: I can confidently anticipate Nigel Jones's responses to 1 and 4: First, #1: if the individual EU member states believe in democracy, why then should they tolerate the non-democratic superstructure that is the EU? And #4: NATO has the military muscle, not the EU. (These are Nigel's views, not mine.)
Still, I hope Nigel and Boris will give their responses to Istvan's thoughtful questions.
Why I am a EUrophobe: Response to Istvan Simon
(Nigel Jones, UK
10/17/17 4:44 AM)
I would like to thank Istvan Simon (16 October) for his questions on the European Union, and will do my best to answer them, in the hope that it will disabuse him--and maybe other interested WAISers--of the vague view (so common among Americans) that the EU is a benign, progressive, peace-loving, economically efficient organisation when in fact it is the opposite of all these things.
Let us begin with the so-called European Parliament. This is not a Parliament in any meaningful sense of the word since it cannot initiate, pass, or reject laws, but is merely there to rubber stamp the decrees of the unelected European Commission (the EU's real rulers), and to give a democratic fig leaf to the profoundly undemocratic EU. It is akin to the old Supreme Soviet. It is, moreover, outrageously expensive, as the whole show moves periodically between Brussels and Strasbourg merely to satisfy the amour propre of France, one of the original six founding members, which insists that it must meet in a French city. If you imagine Congress moving every few months between Washington and, say, Milwaukee, you will get the general idea about this absurd institution.
Istvan and John Eipper have both expressed surprise that members of an anti-EU party like UKIP should stand for and be elected to the European Parliament, but this is easily explained. If you wish to expose a fraud, where better to do so than from the inside?
Think of UKIP and other anti-EU parties as the Trojan Horse inside the EU's corrupt citadel. Or, as one UKIP MEP put it to me: "Taking Satan's money to do God's work."
Now to answer Istvan's specific numbered points:
1. Istvan says the EU is based on a "belief in democratically elected governments." This is completely untrue and Istvan is utterly mistaken or misinformed in this belief. The whole ethos of the EU is anti-democratic, being based on the idea that democracy is dangerous as occasionally the "wrong" parties get elected by stupid voters. Instead the EU is run by a self-perpetuating oligarchy: a bureaucratic elite similar to the old apparatchiks who ran the Soviet empire (which Istvan is all too familiar with). To take a couple of examples of the EU's anti democratic ethos in practice:
A) The EU regularly ignores or overrides democratic referendums that run counter to its aims. This has happened in Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Greece and an effort is currently underway to reverse Britain's Brexit decision.
B) The EU has actually displaced democratically elected Governments in Greece and Italy and replaced them with its own puppet placemen.
So much for Istvan's illusions about the EU's democracy.
2. Far from believing in "free markets" as Istvan claims, the EU is a protectionist bloc which erects tariff barriers against world trade.
3. Likewise, the EU does not believe in competition or capitalism. As one would expect of an organisation run by Marxists like Barroso, or Socialists like Schulz, it believes in just the opposite: statism.
4. Again, Istvan's belief that the EU helps defend Europe is entirely erroneous. As John Eipper has rightly stated, Europe's defence is in the hands of NATO, an organisation that the EU is doing its best to undermine with its plans for a European army. One of the persistent myths perpetrated by the EU is that it has helped maintain peace in Europe, whereas (again) the exact opposite is the case.
Here are some examples of the EU's contribution to social instability and conflict in Europe.
--Germany's recognition of Croatian independence caused the breakup of Yugoslavia and a bitter civil war costing many thousands of lives.
--The EU's encouragement of Ukrainian hostility towards Russia directly contributed to the still unresolved conflict there.
--The fraudulent cooking of the books to allow Greece to enter the Eurozone caused that country's catastrophic bankruptcy, only postponed by unrepayable bailouts.
--The introduction of the Euro has impoverished southern Europe, depriving the young in Italy, Spain, and Portugal of any chance of a decent job in their own country.
--The abolition of internal EU borders has facilitated mass migration from the Middle East, helped acts of mass murdering terrorism in Europe and planted a demographic time bomb in Europe and consequently caused inevitable future civil strife.
--A new central European bloc of Poland, Hungary, and (since the weekend's elections) Austria has emerged of conservative-ruled countries determined to resist the EU's suicidal policy of encouraging more mass Islamic immigration.
Need I really go on?
In short, whatever the idealistic intentions of the EU's founders, the European project, like all empires, has morphed into a monster which is increasingly meeting resistance from its subjects. I hope what I have written is enough to convince Istvan to have second thoughts about his support for it.
JE comments: It's hard for an outsider to accept that the EU hasn't maintained peace in Europe, especially between ancient enemies France and Germany. Correlation of course does not prove causality, but prior to the Common Market (and the Coal and Steel Community before that), France and Germany had to fight it out every generation or so. Not only has there been no war since 1945, but a Franco-Prussian rematch is no longer imaginable.
"Taking Satan's money to do God's work"--I'll remember that one!
EUphobia, EUphilia, EUphoria; from Ric Mauricio
(John Eipper, USA
10/18/17 5:09 AM)
Ric Mauricio writes:
EUrophobia or EUrophoria, that is the question. I have to admit that when I first read a WAIS post that included the word EUrophobia, in my forever optimistic mind, I saw EUrophoria.
Many of the WAIS posts are slanted towards a negative point of view of the EU, emphasizing especially the anti-democratic governing of its members. But one only need only look at the economic prosperity enjoyed by many of its members. Yes, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and others do enjoy a greater freedom of trade amongst its members and thus the EU is the second-largest economy in the world, second only to the AU (the American Union, aka USA).
Aha, but what about Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain, (PIGS)?
Now let's look at the EU not as a community of countries, but rather as a family. Those of us who have families know that we do not practice democracy within the family. There is the mother and father, and the children. Now some spouses exhibit varying amounts of strengths, discipline, financial abilities, taking care of the home and cars, etc. Some may even exhibit a strong domineering spouse and a docile spouse and not a partnership. Within the EU, you have the two strongest spouses, Germany and France. Obviously very different in personalities, but thank goodness, they do somehow balance each other out. Now the children may also have their own very distinct personalities. Some are hard workers. Others are lazy. Some are respectful. Others are rebellious. Some are savers. Others are spenders (Greece?). And the leaders in the family need to govern the household and many times, it requires a strong hand. But as parents can sometimes be, they will reluctantly continue to give money to the free spender. This is what you have in Greece, where money flows from the coffers freely every so many years, with nary the expectation that the money will ever be paid back.
If you think that the EU can exist democratically, then unfortunately you may be smoking whatever is left of California cannabis crops. The EU cannot exist as a democratic state. On the other side of the world, China can never exist as a democratic state. There may be some day where democratic elections can happen on the local level and the people may enjoy some freedom of expression, but the Chinese do not like chaos, so they will continue to prefer their fascist state. Mind you, this is not in defense of fascism, indeed, fascism to the extreme leads to the likes of Mao, Hitler and Stalin. No, you do not want that at all. That would like a mother or father abusing their kids. Although it may seem that the EU oligarchy may be taking to the "switch discipline" every now and then, per Nigel.
How about those who take God's Money to do Satan's Work?
JE comments: Family analogies are handy for explaining larger societal issues, but are they accurate? The paternalism argument was used in its day to justify slavery and colonialism. And EU nations on the "periphery" probably don't appreciate being likened to profligate teenagers. Still, doesn't everyone from time to time need a taste of Mother Merkel's harsh but loving rod?
EU and the Family Analogy
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
10/19/17 6:20 PM)
I enjoyed immensely reading Ric Mauricio's last post (18 October). Ric's family analogy was entertaining and constructive, a breath of fresh air from WAIS posts that see the EU as some sort of evil empire by corrupt bureaucrat with no redeeming value. Just like most big nations (let alone conglomeration of historically different nations cobbled together) today, the political leaders are all stinkers one way or another.
I do have one question about the analogy: If Germany and France are the parents, what role did Britain play? or will play if they in the end decide against Brexit?
Since my Zodiac sign is Libra, I am very pleased that Ric balanced the innuendos by asking about the other side "How about those who take God's Money to do Satan's Work?"--thus referring to the fact that some commentators can only see one side.
JE comments: Germany and Frau Merkel have to be the mom, so France is Dad? Perhaps Britain is the distant stepfather, denied visitation but forced to pay child support? I guess these analogies only go so far.
Tor, Libras are celebrating their birthdays this month. Congratulations to you, and many returns!
Fun with Analogies: What if US Functioned Like EU?
(John Heelan, UK
10/21/17 12:43 PM)
As Tor Guimaraes (19 October) has taken the discussion into the murk of deductive reasoning via analogy, how acceptable would it be for US WAISers if EU principles were applied to "America First"? Anything could happen with Trump.
1. US states suffering unemployment and economic woes (see bottom 27 on Wiki) have to be funded by the top five.
2. For four days every month, the denizens of Capitol Hill have to move to Canada for their parliamentary meeting.
3. The Trump Administration creates rules, policies and procedures to hamper the Senate and Congress exercising their democratic duties.
4. The Washington "gravy train for officials" emulates the EU one in Brussels and Strasbourg.
5. States wishing to secede from the US are castigated with as many legal and other obstacles placed in their way by the Administration as possible.
6. Legal decisions (other than SCOTUS) override local State legislation.
People will say (rightly) that the saving grace for the US is the Constitution. National referendums in Ireland and others on the euro and the EU "constitution" (aka the Lisbon Treaty that altered the voting weight of Member States) and changed the Voting principle to a "qualified majority voting" system were dismissed by the EU Commission, which told recalcitrant Member States to go back and do it again until it got the answer the EU Commission wanted.
The saving grace for the US is its 200-year-old Constitution that underlines its democracy. The 10-year-old EU constitution does not.
JE comments: Several of the above, especially 3 and 4, are already applicable. Right?
- Fascism is Historically and Culturally Specific (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/20/17 1:13 PM)
A few comments in response to Ric Mauricio (18 October):
The characterization of various dictatorships as "fascist" is a derogatory political catchword devoid of scientific precision. It tends to be used among so-called democrats to refer to any system which displaces popular representation.
It is only when viewed as peculiarly Italian phenomenon that the essence of Fascism become clear. The ideology of Fascism viewed historically is a peculiar fusion of syndicalist theory and Italian nationalism.
The nation becomes transfigured into a "corpus mysticum," an unbroken chain of generations, armed with a mission which is fulfilled through the course of the historical process. The duty of the individual is to elevate himself or herself to the heights of the national consciousness, and individual rights shall not conflict with the needs of the sovereign state--meaning, the nation.
The historical beginnings of the Fascist movement are comprehensible only in the light of the severe political and economic crisis which Italy faced after WWI.
The corporate state, later completed or "corrected" by the Socializzazione, joins state administration and private enterprise while preserving the capitalist order. The former (state administration) is understood to be the most practicable and feasible means of serving national interests, the latter (capitalism) the best adapted method of production. In a striking contrast to the laissez-faire doctrine of economic liberalism, Fascism set forth the right of the state to intervene in the process of production whenever private initiative was not up to the task at hand. The emphasis on the supremacy of the state was an effort to transcend the disastrous economic and political effects of class conflicts by focusing on the solidarity of capital and labor in the production process.
Corporations were entrusted with the important functions of drawing up a list of candidates for the second chamber of Parliament, which would be submitted to a vote of the entire population. And since the majority of deputies came from the vocational associations, the body of popular representatives was capable of providing expert support to the work of economic legislation.
The cultural reforms of Giovanni Gentile with his philosophy of actualism strove for the development of youth personality according to Socratic precepts, which at the same time emphasized tradition as one of the great cultural forces. Fascist educational legislation made religious education obligatory in the schools. International relations were guided by geographical location and historical traditions. Diplomacy revealed few changes from previous governments and remained empirical and realistic; what changed was the vigor with which Fascist Italy made her diplomatic claims into action.
Fascist Italy attempted to continue and deepen the traditional friendship with England and also with France. However, the attempt to denationalize the 100,000 Italian settlers in Tunisia proved to be a serious problem complicated by sanctions from the great colonial empires against a relatively minor colonial Italian action.
The above is a free elaboration from an article in the pre-WWII American Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences.
JE comments: Whenever a WAISer blurts out the "fascist" label for an unpleasant or authoritarian regime, we get chastised by Eugenio Battaglia, who reminds us of the historical and cultural specificity of Italian Fascism. I hope Eugenio doesn't mind my quoting one of his off-Forum comments: "I write so that WAISers will understand Fascism better and stop calling 'fascist' any damned fool from Mao to Stalin, from Pinochet to Idi Amin Dada...and why not Donald Trump?"
Many (not Eugenio!) would include Mussolini on the "damned fool" list, but Eugenio's point is well taken. Why has "fascist" become a catch-all epithet? Think of the "Antifa" movement rising at present in the US.
If we read Eugenio's description literally, couldn't we call a state like South Korea "fascist"--corporatist, strongly nationalist, with a strong alignment of government, labor, and capital?
Be warned, WAISers: Misuse the fascist label, and Eugenio will hold you accountable.
- How Should a New European Union be Constructed? (Istvan Simon, USA 10/19/17 7:57 AM)
I thank Nigel Jones for his interesting post of October 17th, which explains the many flaws of the EU as currently implemented. But one thing he did not do is to respond to any of my questions, because I explicitly asked him to discuss my points in the abstract, without referring to the current implementation. Yet every one of his answers is about the current implementation.
So, once again I ask him to please respond to my questions without ever mentioning the EU as it is today. Because for the purposes of my questions it is completely irrelevant how terribly flawed the EU is. If he wants to respond to my questions, he must do so without ever mentioning today's EU or its flaws. Frustrating as this may be for Nigel, because of his profound hatred of the EU, it is the only way that he can actually respond to the questions I posed.
So, please Nigel, imagine that you have the job of envisioning a New European Union, which hopefully will not have any of the defects of the current one, which would be a conglomerate of countries with common values as I stated in my 4 points. The NEU will be democratic, and will be for competition, and will have whatever democratic structure and powers it should have in the design of Nigel Jones, and will be helpful for the common defense of Europe.
Its advantage will be that Europe can speak with a more unified voice in the world stage rather than as 28 separate independent countries. The 28 countries will not be completely independent, but rather dependent on each other in a limited way. Beyond their commitment to the limited ways that they'd agree to be dependent on each other, they would be completely independent otherwise.
I hope I made myself clear in what I am asking. I certainly tried my best to make it clear.
JE comments: I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but I can see Nigel advocating a return to the old Common Market as a trade agreement. Low or no tariffs and nothing more.
Istvan Simon's exercise could get WAISers talking for a long time. What should a New European Union ("NEU," I like the ring of it) look like?
What the EU Could Be vs What It Is
(Nigel Jones, UK
10/21/17 4:23 AM)
Istvan Simon (October 19th) wants me to discuss the EU in the abstract--i.e., how it could be rather than how it actually is.
Although this seems to me to be a rather pointless exercise, I am happy to do so as it does show that Istvan has shifted his position from support for the EU as it is to a theoretical discussion of what it might have been. I hope he has done so after hearing the arguments of WAISers like myself, John Heelan and Boris Volodarsky who actually live in the belly of the beast.
As John Eipper anticipates, I am not in principle opposed to a Common Market in Europe, to co-operation in trade, defence, security and other matters of common interest. This is exactly what Winston Churchill recommended after WWII to prevent a recurrence of the two world wars.
(Churchill did, however, explicitly caution that Britain, with its exceptional maritime position, Parliamentary history, Anglo-Saxon laws and insular detachment, did not belong in such a union, which is why we have never fitted in the EU and our membership has been an irritant since the day we belatedly joined.)
So much for the theory. Now for the reality.
The EU--as has become ever more obvious--is not the benign democratic body that Istvan imagines that it could be. Nor is it the purely economic and trade union that was lyingly sold to British voters by politicians when they joined in the 1970s. Its founders, Monnet and Schumann, specifically stated that it should be non-democratic. They distrusted democracy because they thought that fascist dictators like Hitler and Mussolini had come to power democratically. Instead they advocated that an unelected elite should secretly, without the peoples of Europe noticing, build a federal European state step by step that would do away with Europe's ancient nations.
This script has been followed faithfully by the EU ever since. But because--like all top-down theories cooked up by intellectual elites (Marxism for instance)--it flies in the face of human nature, history, and common sense, it has recently run into increasing trouble. If we look around Europe today we see nothing but crisis, conflict and dissent. Brexit, Catalonia, Greece, Islamic immigration, terrorism, the rise of populism, are all symptoms of this rising resentment against EU diktats. The EU is crumbling because its heart is rotten.
Now that I have answered Istvan's hypothetical question--hopefully to his satisfaction--I hope he will answer mine. (I note that he did not answer it the first time I posed it so I will repeat it.) If the US were to join an amalgam of the OAS and Canada ostensibly to facilitate trade, let us call it the "American Union" or AU, and over the next forty years the AU replaced Congress, bypassed the Presidency, overruled the Supreme Court, overrode elections, deposed governments, bought politicians, tried to abolish the dollar, and announced the beginning of a ' post-democratic era, would Istvan support replacing the USA with the AU?
If in all honesty he would not, he really should not expect the people of Britain and Europe to support the EU and the extinction of democracy and their nations.
JE comments: Istvan might counter that the US track record with democracy hasn't been so stellar (or even democratic) in recent years.
Let's discuss Nigel Jones's remark on populism (above). Nigel, do you see populism as a reaction to the EU's heavy hand? Meaning, that populism wouldn't be so, well, popular if the EU were more benign or didn't exist at all? If so, how does one explain Trumpism in the US?
How is the EU Antidemocratic?
(José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela
10/22/17 4:33 AM)
Nigel Jones wrote on October 21st: "I am not in principle opposed to a Common Market in Europe, to co-operation in trade, defense, security and other matters of common interest. This is exactly what Winston Churchill recommended after WWII to prevent a recurrence of the two world wars."
Regarding the same subject, in 2014 I wrote pretty much the same thing: "The European Union itself, which at the beginning was only intended to be a free trade agreement... proved to be good contingency measures to reduce international conflicts." And "We should remember that at the very beginning, the EU's purpose was only economic, the so-called European Common Market."
I recall that Nigel at that time mentioned that what prevented war in Europe was NATO alone; apparently he did not give credit to the EU for this result. I am glad he somehow changed his mind.
I also wrote that "I do not recall that...the EU... was ever intended to be a consolidated supranational state, a nation with its own national identity. To transform a set of different countries, with so many cultural differences and languages into such an entity, would be a miracle and, if ever possible, it would have taken a long time." To this I added, "In a continent with a long history of conflicts, wars and social, political and economic disputes, to practically get rid of frontiers is a success to me, not a failure. I am sure that if Russia or Ukraine had been members of the union, the current conflict would not have taken place."
The political or economic success of the EU is maybe still to be seen, despite its current problems. Nevertheless it is evident that even in the so-called poorest (PIGS?) member countries the level of life has improved markedly, and every member of the EU has benefited since its creation, even the British, the Germans and the French. To achieve a common identity is another matter, because the diversity of cultures is hard to integrate.
Now, regarding Nigel's question to Istvan Simon about the US hypothetically joining an amalgam of the OAS and Canada ostensibly to facilitate trade, I feel he is completely distorting the issue with this analogy. Maybe he could explain how the British parliament or any other European country has been replaced, what president has been bypassed, what Supreme court has been overruled, or what elections has been overridden, etc.
If I understand correctly, the EU´s three main institutions are:
1. The European Council, whose function is to set the general political directions and priorities of the Union, gathering together its member states' heads of state and governments (elected chief executives). The results of its summits (quarterly) are adopted democratically by consensus.
2. The European Parliament: 751 members, all directly elected. This is the EU's lower house of its bicameral legislature. It shares with the EU Council equal legislative powers to amend, approve or reject Commission proposals for most EU laws, rules and legislation. Its powers are strictly limited in areas where member states' sovereignty is their primary concern (i.e. defense). It democratically elects the Commission's President, it must approve the College of Commissioners, and may democratically vote to remove them collectively from office.
3. The European Commission, the "Guardian of the Treaties," consists of an executive cabinet of public officials, led by an indirectly elected President (elected by the Parliament). This College of Commissioners manages and directs the Commission's permanent civil service. It turns the consensus objectives of the European Council into legislative proposals.
Besides some other institutions, there is the Court of Justice, the European Central Bank, and the European Court of Auditors.
I believe it is very clear that the EU's institutional structure does not seems to be antidemocratic, nor even autocratic or authoritarian, as Nigel seems to claim or as he seems to depict with his unfortunate analogy.
JE comments: Nigel's biggest complaint (shared with many Euroskeptics) is with the Commission. I should brush up on my EU Civics, but are all the Commissioners chosen by the Parliament, or only the President?
A big thanks to José Ignacio Soler for walking us through the EU governance system. Most of us have strongly formed opinions about the Union, but few really know how it works--or is supposed to work.
A parallel question: Do European schools include EU "Civics" in the curriculum?
- Populism and the Rise of Right-Wing Parties in Austria, Czech Republic (Nigel Jones, UK 10/22/17 7:22 AM)
Our esteemed editor John Eipper (October 21) solicited my views of populism, asking whether it is a reaction to the undemocratic, dictatorial EU, and if so, how that explains Trump's triumph in the US.
My own view is that since roughly 1990, government, civil service, the media and academia in both Europe and the US have been increasingly controlled by those who in shorthand, can be characterised as a PC elite.
Socially liberal, militarily inexperienced, inclined to scorn their own countries and cut slack to their enemies, non-ideological and financially greedy, the electoral success of their centre-left parties have made them both arrogant and out of touch with the concerns of their electorates--particularly among the working class.
This has led, on both sides of the Atlantic, to the remorseless rise of populist parties and politicians, of which Donald Trump is the prime exemplar--or perhaps the reductio ad absurdum!
Until the so-called mainstream starts addressing these concerns and actually does something about them, I see no prospect of such populism losing...well, popularity!
[JE: Nigel Jones further wrote in a separate e-mail]:
A few weeks ago we were being told on WAIS that Marine Le Pen's failure to win the French Presidency meant that the populist wave in Europe had peaked.
Since then the disastrous decision of the frumpy Empress of the EU, Frau Merkel, to open the doors to a million unchecked migrants from the Middle East, has come back to bite her backside in the form of the populist anti-Islam AfD party winning seats in the Bundestag in Germany's elections and leaving her fatally weakened.
Then last weekend Austrian elections returned the reinvigorated Conservative OVP party to power. They are pledged to resist further Islamic immigration imposed by the EU. The OVP were compelled to adopt this policy by pressure from the populist right-wing Freedom Party, runner-up in the elections and their likely future coalition partners.
Now this weekend, in a similar pattern, elections in the Czech republic have returned the ANO party as the strongest force, with yet another right-wing populist party, the SDP, breathing down their necks. ANO ("Yes") is similar to Italy's Forza Italia, the creation of Silvio Berlusconi, in that it is the vehicle of a media and business tycoon, Andrej Babis, Czechia's second-richest man. He has also pledged to resist EU pressure to admit more Muslim migrants, remarking "Brussels may soon have a Muslim majority but it won't happen here."
So now we have a large bloc of Central/Eastern Europe--Poland, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic--all ruled by conservative parties adamantly opposed to the suicidal EU policy of encouraging Islamic immigration. This is scarcely surprising as these are the very countries with their own experience of Ottoman invasion who know that Islam and any semblance of Western civilisation are incompatible. Western Europe is now learning that lesson the hard way.
Yet another crack opens in the EU's edifice, and I am very surprised there has been no discussion of this on WAIS. Could it be that some WAISers are wedded to, if not employed by, the manifestly collapsing EU?
JE comments: Central Europe is turning to the right, and hard. One irony here: with the possible exception of Austria, the European nations most resistant to Muslim immigration are the ones to which Muslims by and large aren't emigrating anyway. How do we explain this? Nigel Jones cites the Ottoman example--Turks at the gates of Vienna. But that was 350-500 years ago. What other factors come into play?
- NATO is as American as the National Guard (John Heelan, UK 10/17/17 7:28 AM)
JE commented on October 16th: "NATO has the military muscle, not the EU."
True! However that "muscle" is built on the steroids provided by the US military-industrial complex that could be withdrawn should the US retreat (again) into Trumpish isolationist and "America First" policies.
As I commented before, the UK's shiny new aircraft carrier has no aircraft to carry, as it is still waiting for the Lightning V-35s to be supplied by Lockheed Martin. And don't even mention the tariff the US wants to put on Bombardier production in Northern Ireland.
I have also argued that NATO is as much a part of the US military conglomerate as the National Guard.
JE comments: I was paraphrasing Nigel Jones's position with my NATO comment.
The US service personnel I've spoken with say that NATO missions are anything but extensions of US foreign policy. They have multinational commands and serve the interests of a variety of NATO states, often to the frustration of the troops on the ground. This is the impression I always got from my conversations with the late Bob Gibbs, who served in the Balkans in the 1990s. Bob would be able to state this much more colorfully than I can. I miss him terribly.
How NATO Commands Worked in the Balkans
(Brian Blodgett, USA
10/19/17 4:42 AM)
I served as a member of two NATO missions in the 1990s, one in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the other in Kosovo. In both I was with the NATO command headquarters and both were led by US and British officers, Admiral Leighton Smith in Bosnia and Lieutenant General Sir Michael Jackson in Kosovo. The staffs were also predominately US and British, mainly because the troops component that other NATO countries assigned to these units (Allied Forces South [AFSOUTH] and the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps [ARRC]) in peacetime were likewise heavily from these two countries.
In reference that NATO was an extension of US foreign policy, I recall one incident in Kosovo which defined the mission and likely changed the entire 21st century. That was when Sir Jackson received an order from General Wesley Clark, NATO's commander at the time (remember that the commander of NATO has always been an American) to immediately send NATO forces to the Pristina airport in a race against Russian forces for control of the airport. Sir Jackson refused to follow Clark's order. Speaking for myself and many others who were in the unit, we were both surprised at an officer flatly refusing an order but also impressed. Jackson's reasoning was that not only would the NATO force not make it to the airport first, but that it had the potential for starting a war with the Russians. Jackson then worked with the Russian general and his detachment who occupied the airport and actually provided a small contingent of British troops to protect the Russians. The British troops' commander was Jackson's son.
Another sign of displeasure with the mission and how the US was not running it with the rest of NATO tagging along was when President Clinton visited Zagreb where the AFSOUTH HQ forces were staging while awaiting orders to enter Bosnia. When asked to attend a speech that Clinton was going to give that evening, most of the Americans that I knew did not want to attend, and did not.
Throughout my nearly six years with NATO, roughly three with both AFSOUTH and the ARRC, the US and the UK played the largest role in both peacetime planning and actual missions. While the US did have the military muscle, it by no means had the total control of the military. In our various plans, we incorporated all forces equally based on their capabilities and the terrain that they would occupy. In actual deployments, the two missions' only difference was the general composition of the HQ, with Bosnia being more of a US-led mission due to AFSOUTH being largely US, and Kosovo being more British due to the composition of the ARRC. The troops themselves in country were a mixture but once again, largely US and British, as well as the other major European nations making up the bulk of the forces.
I also recall that in the case of the deployment to Bosnia, that AFSOUTH was woefully unprepared for any type of deployment and we lacked many of the simple office supplies needed on a mission. My British Colonel asked me to round up supplies that our intelligence section would need in order to operate and I wondered around our base for two days, "picking" up supplies as I found them, from seeing a footlocker sitting unattended full of office equipment and procuring it as well as talking to individuals and leaving them short a stapler or something when I walked away--that is how bad it was. Regarding plans, I am not going to discuss those but I am sure you can imagine a unit not expecting to deploy suddenly finding itself tasked to rapidly deploy and its own readiness.
In regards to Bosnia, I recall one incident that I found amusing, our gate guards were just soldiers with rifles and when Smith inquired if we could have a stronger guard, the answer was swift. Our Turkish Brigadier General who led our intelligence section made a quick call to a nearby Turkish unit and within hours we had two Turkish armored vehicles parked outside of the gates. This was much to the chagrin of the French, who were actually in control of the sector where our HQ was located. When ordered to move, the commander of the Turkish unit refused, after all, his general ordered his troops there and unless told to move by the same general, he was not about to relocate.
JE comments: Well done. Brian Blodgett reminds us that wars are won with logistics. (He also reminds us to watch your stapler if he drops by the office to say hello.) Given its complexities of command and the crazy-quilt of nationalities, it's quite amazing that NATO works as well as it does. Would you agree, Brian?
A further question: is the stereotype true that the Turks are some of the most zealous and effective soldiers you'll find anywhere? This is an especially relevant matter at present, as Trump and Erdogan are doing their best to nurture a clash of egos.
UN Missions in the Balkans; from Gary Moore
(John Eipper, USA
10/20/17 3:55 AM)
Gary Moore writes:
My thanks for Brian Blodgett's inside look (19 October) at NATO operations in the
time of the Balkans conflicts--and his memory of astute scrounging
(he seized the moment to "procure" an unguarded footlocker of office
I can add from the UN side in Kosovo the sense of free-fall on
arrival to find empty offices in the ruins--as we foraged into an abandoned
basement for old plywood as desktops. A cadre of fastidious Croatian
translators turned up their noses and said they weren't going to work
amid plywood splinters.
But my question for Brian is more serious, dealing with his vignette of a key
moment in the Kosovo war that he feels helped set a course for a new century:
the refusal by a British commander to follow NATO commander Wesley Clark's
order to try to race to the Prishtina airport so as to beat the Russians, a refusal,
Brian said, that was reasonable and judicious, helping not to impose undue
tensions, as I gathered it.
So: does this imply flawed or myopic judgement
on Clark's part? The question resounds because Clark was later an American
presidential candidate, and in general his view seemed to represent the outlook
of the Clinton administration that brought us into the war in the first place.
Could Brian tell us more about his inside view of that picture?
JE comments: I'll append my own question: was Sir Michael Jackson, the general who disobeyed the order, ever disciplined or subjected to a "full and impartial" inquiry? (Strains of "Thriller" are running through my brain.)
Pristina Airport: Did General Jackson Prevent a War with Russia?
(Brian Blodgett, USA
10/21/17 4:47 AM)
In answer to Gary Moore's question of October 20th, the inside view of everyone that I knew at that time in theater with the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) HQ was that Jackson was correct in his decision. This would include our American senior officer (Deputy Chief of Staff - Operations), who shortly after became a Major General before retiring and served as the Deputy Commanding General in several theaters of operation. I cannot think of anyone who did not cheer at Lieutenant General Jackson's decision, since it was viewed as a wise and practical decision and not one based on political motivations simply to hold ground instead of the Russians holding it.
Also from my readings, both Jackson and Clark sought political backing for their decision, but only Jackson received the backing, indication that Clark's orders were effectively overruled by the US. Clark was later rebuked by our nation for his aggressive military stance and ordered to relinquish command of NATO two months earlier than scheduled, which may not seem like much, but it was. Clark, after being told of Jackson's refusal, "asked" Admiral Ellis, his commander of Allied Forces South (my old unit from three years earlier), to have helicopters land on the runway to stop the Russian transport plane from being able to land but Ellis refused, stating that Jackson would not like it.
Also, Clark was replaced by an Air Force General, only the second one in the history of NATO up to that time--also an important note is that prior to Clark, the command had been a series of Army Generals with the exception of USAF General from 1956 to '63. After Clark, the position of Supreme Allied Command - Europe changed from the generally consistent Army commander to include 4-star officers of all the US military branches.
Regarding John E's question, Jackson did offer his resignation to the UK during the dispute when Clark actually flew down to Pristina to confront him, but the British were not about to lose him over the political dispute and Jackson remained the commander of the mission. After his command of the ARRC, he was promoted to General and Commander-in-Chief, Land Command, the second most senior position in the British Army. Thee years later he became the Chief of the General Staff, the head of the British Army until his retirement in 2006 after serving 45 years in the British Army.
JE comments: Jackson reportedly told Clark, "I'm not going to start the Third World War for you." See below. Note the casualty figures for the 1999 "Incident at Pristina Airport": none. If only we could resolve all conflicts this way.
Wesley Clark and Pristina Incident; from Gary Moore
(John Eipper, USA
10/22/17 11:16 AM)
Gary Moore writes:
Thanks to Brian Blodgett (21 October) for further elucidating the Pristina airport incident in Kosovo.
Could this background shed light on Wesley Clark's later sudden withdrawal from the US
And is it coincidental that this seemingly avoidable or ill-informed
confrontationism sounds a bit like a related figure: Hillary Clinton on Libya and the Middle East?
JE comments: Who can refresh our memory on the '04 Democratic primaries? My recollection is that Clark withdrew the old-fashioned way: because of a lack of votes.
- Why I am Anti-EU: Response to Istvan Simon (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 10/18/17 11:57 AM)
Answering Istvan Simon's queries of 16 October, I first of all want to thank him for his kind words. Regarding Ángel Viñas's views, we should not forget that Ángel is not only an eminent historian of the Spanish Civil War but also an EU professional, and if one may say so, an insider, and his informed opinion must of course be considered and respected as that of an expert.
Regarding my acquaintance, a UKIP MEP, I have to say that it was just a talk during a pleasant lunch in London and I didn't even know he was a MEP. We had first met at the Sasha Litvinenko funeral in December 2006 and Oleg Gordievsky introduced him to me as a UKIP politician. This man's views were certainly not intended to undermine the European Parliament. He was simply saying what he thought about his work. And what he said was "We come there only to vote. This is my job." Naturally that was rather cynical and immoral but he simply felt like that. I am sure he is not an exception and many like him are still thinking that their well-paid job is to come to Brussels and vote. That's it. I know some Austrian politicians like, for example, Werner Faymann, a former Chancellor. After he had to resign from both posts (as Chancellor and the Socialist party leader) after losing confidence from a large number of party officials, he was struggling for quite a while to get a commissioner job at the EU. He ended up as the United Nations' Special Envoy on Youth Unemployment, whatever that may mean, an even more lucrative job than the EU commissioner. It carries a salary like a private banker, diplomatic passport, first-class travels and everything tax-free in addition to a very high pension as a former Chancellor. (Yesterday, I was in the UNO shop in Vienna--a one litre bottle of best vodka is 3 euro, but who can get there?)
Regarding the four points, "important common values," as Istvan has put it, I like the beginning of each of them --a "belief." For the rest, I'd be happy to hear an expert. With that, I am very skeptical regarding point 4 because the notion "defence of Europe" needs an explanation. Is somebody going to attack Europe? Maybe Moldavia or Belarus or Lichtenstein?
A question whether "a better implementation" is possible or not is in itself very debatable. The EU has degraded from its former self or, rather, from the Common Market of the original six members, into a bureaucratic system, which, on the one hand, became so highly ineffective that even such a great European power as Britain now wants to leave it. On the other, as I have illustrated with examples, since it became a multi-European conglomerate it attracts incompetent former politicians of its member states who want only benefits for themselves and do not care about Europe.
Finally, Istvan's example with Microsoft, Apple or whatever is again not so good, in my view, because apart from the 28 European states they anyway have to deal separately with 100 or more other states. So why should we think of what is a little bit more convenient for them in this case? Who actually cares when we talk about one trillion in turnover! Twenty-eight more or 28 less does not matter. And, of course, it is not our problem to contemplate what is better for them. It's the multinationals' problem. I do not think they will ask us to give them advice, and we won't be able to, anyway.
I hope I have satisfied Istvan's curiosity at this stage. And, of course, JE's comment to Istvan's post is, as usual, very wise.
And, finally, I fully agree with Nigel Jones's response to Istvan and in particular with Nigel's "In short, whatever the idealistic intentions of the EU's founders, the European project, like all empires, has morphed into a monster which is increasingly meeting resistance from its subjects."
JE comments: This is not the point of Boris's post, but what about the UN shops? Do they have closed shopping havens like the Soviet Beryozka or Polish Pewex shops of yore? What is their purpose and why on earth do UN officials need yet another perk? (Perhaps I've misunderstood, but good vodka for €3 is hard to ignore.)
UN Shops: A (Closed) Shopper's Paradise
(Boris Volodarsky, Austria
10/20/17 3:07 AM)
Our esteemed editor understood it correctly. At least in Vienna (but I am sure in Paris and in New York, too--Ángel please tell us about NY) there is a very special closed shopping haven inside the well-guarded UN headquarters that sells goods at prices about 10 times cheaper than in the city. Primarily, this concerns liquors and cigarettes, which reminds me of the old duty-free shops that do not exist anymore.
But this is not like the Soviet valyutnaya Beriozka. John and others may not know that in the Soviet Union there were three types of Beriozkas: valyutnaya for foreign tourists, diplomaticheskaya for diplomats and chekovaya for Soviet citizens who had worked abroad earning hard currency that they had to exchange for artificial money called cheki (cheques).
Unlike the Pewex shops in Warsaw, which traded in US dollars, or Intershops in East Berlin selling goods for West German marks, or even valyutnaya Beriozkas that accepted all hard currencies as payment for the local souvenirs and some Western products like drinks, cigarettes and garments popular with the Russian hookers, chekovaya Beriozkas sold good Western clothes, household appliances and even cars against the valuta cheques. That is, if one had been working in Nigeria or Cuba as a Soviet advisor earning, say, 2,000 US dollars a month, he paid 50% to the state and back in the Soviet Union received 50% of his former salary in cheques for which he could buy Western goods or sell them at whatever rate he could. That is, for 100 cheques one could get from 100 to 500 Soviet roubles.
Thus, our UN guys decided to follow the Soviet example and established a kind of a Beriozka shop for a limited number of the UN officials where they can buy a Mercedes for 3,000 instead of 30,000, a bottle of Remy Martin XO for 10 instead of 100, and Smirnoff Red Label 1 Litre bottle for 3.00. For what they do (or do not do) every day this is probably the only consolation. And, of course, brothels. But that costs...
JE comments: Jeez, who knew about these places? How on earth are they justified, given the healthy compensation UN officials already receive?
Does the UN need to be bankrolling diplomatic booze and smokes? I guess the answer is yes.
Oh Lord, won't you subsidize me a Mursaydeez-Benz?
- A Yank? Moi? On Corbyn's "Garden Tax" (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 10/13/17 4:37 AM)
I was amused by John Eipper's reference to my "Yank status." My Confederate antecedents would have politely taken him aside and corrected such an erroneous identification with: "Suh, I am a Virginian, never a Yank!"
Returning to the subject of Comrade Corbyn's Manifesto: paving over gardens would not make a difference to those who would be hit by the proposed Labour "garden tax." In practice this would be an annual tax calculated using the market rental value of land, whether vacant or built on, so those with gardens would be especially vulnerable. The tax would probably be charged at 3 per cent. Average homes in the South East of England--traditionally "Blue" territory--would pay £5,539, nearly four times the current £1,466 average cost of council tax in the region, or £4,073 more. Homeowners on fixed incomes would be devastated financially.
The Labour Party also plans a "wealth tax" on those earning more than £80,000 ($105,000) per year. Of course, this won't affect billionaires like "Sir" Philip Green, a tax exile in Monaco, who received his Knighthood at the recommendation of former Labour PM Tony Blair. Green spends much of the summer cruising on his £100 million, 300-foot Benetti yacht Lionheart and has a £20 million Gulfstream G550 private jet. For his birthday, his wife bought him a solid gold Monopoly set, featuring his own acquisitions. Lovely fellow. He and his family collected £586 million during their 15-year ownership of British Homes Stores (BHS) before it closed last year, heavily in debt, costing 11,000 people their jobs.
JE comments: I had to Google "solid gold Monopoly set" and came up with this $2 million edition. I don't know if Sir Philip's set is the same one:
Irony abounds here. (It often does.) Monopoly came on the scene during the destitute 1930s, as a way to make Americans feel less poor. Perhaps it reinforced capitalism at a time when its future was in doubt?
Sorry about "Yanking" you, Tim! Do you often find yourself correcting folks in London when you're mislabeled?
Brexit and Britain's Food Self-Sufficiency
(John Heelan, UK
10/14/17 3:34 PM)
As Istvan Simon regularly points out, the UK might find it difficult to be self-sufficient in food resources following Brexit.
During WWII and the Battle of the Atlantic that Istvan often cites, householders were encouraged by the "Dig For Victory" campaign to grow as much food in their gardens and community "allotments" as they could. I recall seeing suburban gardens and allotments flourishing with vegetable crops: sometimes householders would keep rabbits to provide a meat ration. Housewives often complained that their husbands were disappearing "down the allotment" on the feeblest excuse, suspecting them of hiding in their sheds and drinking the beer they brewed in them.
What we missed as children were non-indigenous fruits such as oranges and bananas and had to substitute with malt-based and other products. A Labour post-Brexit Land Value Tax would inhibit the UK's repeating its efforts to feed itself as it did sixty years ago.
JE comments: "Down the allotment" and down the hatch! National food self-sufficiency seems like a quaint worry of times long past, but is there anything more fundamental to a nation's survival?
The Reality of a "Bad-Tempered" Brexit
(Angel Vinas, Belgium
10/15/17 5:15 AM)
The Brexit negotiations are not going well. We have arrived at the stage of mutual recriminations. Food self-sufficiency, although very important, is not the only important problem the UK is facing. In particular, if there is no agreement on the conditions under which Brexit will take place.
I refer to the most recent article I know (it has come out today) on this particular subject. It makes for grim reading.
JE comments: Some of the "hard Brexit" scenarios outlined above sound to me like scaremongering--why would flights be grounded? But the prospect of 20-40% tariffs on food between UK and the rest of the EU can lead to only one thing: a proportionate increase in prices.
Tim Ashby has shopped recently in both France and the UK. His comments are next.
EU-UK Air Travel Post-Brexit
(Angel Vinas, Belgium
10/16/17 4:18 AM)
There´s a simple answer to John Eipper´s question. In the EU the Open Skies is the rule nowadays, a sort of extension to flying companies of the rules of the single market. It means there is no discrimination among national airlines. Thus Ryanair (an Irish company) can fly from Spain to Poland as it were a Spanish airline.
Without an agreement on how to implement Brexit, the cliff-edge scenario would apply. The UK would then be cut out of the single market and the Open Skies agreement. UK-based airlines would have to negotiate flying and landing agreements with each of the EU Member States to which they would like to fly. These agreements would have to be made on a purely bilateral basis. EasyJet, for instance, is creating a subsidiary company to be based in Austria to escape that cul-de-sac.
The file is extremely complicated but this is the core of it as far as I understand it. British airlines are keen to have an agreement between the UK and the EU a year or so before March 29, 2019. The UK Government is playing with fire.
JE comments: Many companies must be following the example of EasyJet. Are there any examples of Continental corporations starting subsidiaries in the UK? BMW is already set, with Rolls-Royce and Mini. But are they companies in the legal sense, or merely "brands"?
EU-UK Air Travel Post-Brexit
(Tom Hashimoto, UK
10/17/17 4:13 AM)
A quick question about air travel post-Brexit. Isn't it true, that when the UK leaves the EU, the EU is expected to be more integrated, and perhaps, to the point where London just needs to negotiate with Brussels instead of Member State by Member State?
JE comments: Tom Hashimoto, WAISworld's citizen of the world extraordinaire, divides his time between Poland, Lithuania, UK, and Kyrgyzstan. Is Brexit going to complicate your multinational lifestyle, Tom, or do you anticipate no changes?
- Rolls-Royce: Company or Brand? (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 10/17/17 4:26 AM)
To answer John E's question about "companies" and "brands"--my daughter is a management trainee with Rolls Royce PLC, which primarily makes aircraft engines.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of BMW established in 1998 after BMW was licensed the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo from Rolls-Royce PLC. RR still owns the brand and logo. The cars are still manufactured in England.
JE comments: BMW paid £40 million in 1998 for the R-R name, logo, and "Spirit of Ecstasy" icon. At $250,000 for a "cheapo" Rolls, the investment has been amortized after only 200 cars or so. Given the unparalleled history and cachet of RR, this was quite the bargain.
Good luck to your daughter in her new job, Tim! My newly graduated engineer nephew just started at Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut, so WAISworld has the jet engine business covered.
Wouldn't you WAISers feel really good to have your editor in a Roller? I am receptive to the idea of a company car. The license plate is already picked out.
- Food Shopping in UK Post-Brexit (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 10/15/17 5:32 AM)
According to the British Retail Consortium, which represents major supermarkets and other stores, British consumers could face an average tariff of 22 percent on food from the European Union if Prime Minister Theresa May fails to reach a trade deal with the EU before "B-Day" on Friday, 29 March 2019.
Close to 80 percent of British food imports (worth around £20 billion per annum) come from EU member states, and if no trade agreement is reached Britain and the EU would have to treat each other as World Trade Organization members following WTO rules, which would mean average tariffs of 22 percent, with some as high as 46 percent for Italian mozzarella cheese, and 40 percent for Irish beef and cheddar cheese (thankfully, French wines would only face a 4 percent tariff).
We've already seen slightly higher supermarket costs for imported food and wines due to the lower value of sterling, which fell the day after the referendum and remains around 10 percent lower against the dollar and at an eight-year low (nearly 20%) against the euro. Many economists predict that the pound will soon reach parity with the euro, and already high street and airport currency exchange shops are selling pounds for less than 1:1.
I'm writing this from Villefranche sur Mer, France, where Rosemary and I are enjoying a few precious days of sun and warmth before returning to London. We note that food (and, of course, wine) prices at our local Carrefour and Super U grocery stores are about 15-20 percent less than identical items in the UK. What is baffling, yet welcome, is that prices for single malt whisky such as my favorites Talisker and the Balvenie are also lower than in London and Edinburgh.
JE comments: British WAISers: stock your cellars now! Wouldn't a "hard Brexit" also hit the Irish economy, well, hard? Although conversely, as the only Anglophone EU member remaining, the Republic could find a lot of new opportunities in the finance and service sectors.
- Rolls-Royce: Company or Brand? (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 10/17/17 4:26 AM)
- EU-UK Air Travel Post-Brexit (Tom Hashimoto, UK 10/17/17 4:13 AM)
- EU-UK Air Travel Post-Brexit (Angel Vinas, Belgium 10/16/17 4:18 AM)
- The Reality of a "Bad-Tempered" Brexit (Angel Vinas, Belgium 10/15/17 5:15 AM)
- A Yank? Moi? On Corbyn's "Garden Tax" (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 10/13/17 4:37 AM)
- Why I am Anti-EU: Response to Istvan Simon (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 10/18/17 11:57 AM)
- Wesley Clark and Pristina Incident; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 10/22/17 11:16 AM)
- Pristina Airport: Did General Jackson Prevent a War with Russia? (Brian Blodgett, USA 10/21/17 4:47 AM)
- UN Missions in the Balkans; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 10/20/17 3:55 AM)
- Populism and the Rise of Right-Wing Parties in Austria, Czech Republic (Nigel Jones, UK 10/22/17 7:22 AM)
- How is the EU Antidemocratic? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 10/22/17 4:33 AM)
- Fascism is Historically and Culturally Specific (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/20/17 1:13 PM)
- Fun with Analogies: What if US Functioned Like EU? (John Heelan, UK 10/21/17 12:43 PM)
- EU and the Family Analogy (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/19/17 6:20 PM)
- EUphobia, EUphilia, EUphoria; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 10/18/17 5:09 AM)
- Questions for the EUrophobe (Istvan Simon, USA 10/16/17 12:26 PM)
- Will There be a Food Tariff War Post-Brexit? (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 10/17/17 7:52 AM)
- Food Tariffs Post-Brexit? (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 10/16/17 2:32 PM)
- Brexit: Ideological Passions and Economic Realities (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/16/17 3:41 AM)
- EUphobia: My Perspective (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 10/15/17 4:56 AM)
- EUphobia vs Europhilia (Nigel Jones, UK 10/13/17 3:39 AM)