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Post A Tale of Two Cities: London, Paris, and Europe's Defense
Created by John Eipper on 10/01/16 5:58 AM

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A Tale of Two Cities: London, Paris, and Europe's Defense (Anthony J Candil, USA, 10/01/16 5:58 am)

I wanted to share a quote:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

(Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)

A long time ago, I reviewed a paper written in England, commenting on the future of the European Union, the Single Act and the forthcoming supposed benefits of such a development. I was then very skeptical. I still am, and maybe Brexit is proving me right.

London and Paris, Paris and London. It is always a tale of two cities.

Ms Theresa May has been already the Prime Minister of the UK and hasn't done much about leading her country out of the European Union as she is already promised. Her first 100 days are about to end, and it's about time she started doing something. Maybe she is not in a hurry, but many are starting to become very nervous, especially the French, but the Germans too.

The first proof of this uneasiness has been the latest meeting of European leaders, without the UK, in Bratislava, where again there have been talks about the "urgent" need for Europeans to reinforce their collective security. Without Britain, and, certainly, without the United States.

It was already a long time ago when we started to hear narratives about European collective defense, common defense and security policy, and many things of that nature. Still the Europeans haven't managed to achieve anything serious.

On the contrary, they have managed to lessen the contribution of the United States to European defense and to weaken NATO. How could the Europeans be so blind? Don't they realize that without the American contribution they will be practically defenseless?

France, under President Sarkozy, returned to NATO, but in practical terms this move hasn't done anything to strengthen the organization, and its nuclear capability is not under NATO authority. Germany has reduced its conventional capabilities to unbelievably low levels. The other countries are almost irrelevant.

The nuclear umbrella of NATO today consists of the United States and British contributions. Still the Europeans--mainly France--want an independent European collective defense. What for? What about NATO then?

At home, both candidates for the Presidency want the Europeans to take their own security more seriously. And nothing will make us Americans happier than to be relieved of an important burden on our security budget, as it will be to have nothing to do with the security of our "ungrateful" allies. But is this a real issue to consider?

Europeans don't want to buy American weapons, not aircraft or armored vehicles. Fine. However, when in need of eyes in the sky, they hope that American drones will be flying around.

But when things turn ugly they always look back across the pond, and start complaining that Uncle Sam does nothing. Now everybody, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France--they all want the United States to take ISIS out of the picture. And what do they do?

They meet and talk about an urgent need for a collective European security. And the first thing they come up with is the establishment of a new headquarters where to make decisions and lead their collective joint forces. However, no one talks about spending more on defense.

And, I ask Europe: what do you want to do with the wonderful installations and infrastructure of the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe (aka SHAPE) still standing at Mons, in Belgium? Maybe we can change these facilities into a nice university or something else. This infrastructure is supposed to be precisely that, a joint allied command post and headquarters from where to conduct joint and collective operations.

But it looks like this is not enough. Now that Britain will be leaving the European Union, the French and Germans think it is the time to go out on their own. European defense without the British, and the Americans, can be only one thing: a French and German joint defense. The other nations do not factor in.

It took one week for Germany in 1940 to occupy Denmark and Norway. And even less, to conquer Belgium and the Netherlands. The whole of France took a month. Italy was irrelevant. Austria and Czechoslovakia were taken without a shot. It will be the same again if the Russian forces come.

The only thing stopping the Soviet Union from getting into Western Europe for more than 40 years was the combined power and decision of the United States and Britain, and their nuclear capabilities. They have already forgotten this.

It is a good thing though, that Europeans have given a thought to their collective security. But they should start talking about how much it is going to cost and how much each country is ready to contribute. Not a single European country, except for France, spends a significant amount on their security. Whatever they may say, everything will vanish into thin air as soon they start talking about money.

Then, what? For how long they think the United States will continue investing and spending in their defense?

JE comments:  Lots to chew on here.  My first question would be--what does "defending" Europe mean in today's era of asymmetrical warfare with non-state enemies?  Does anyone really believe Putin's tanks will roll into Poland and Germany?  (Ukraine, well, maybe.)

Or am I delusional, and are the Western democracies as militarily unprepared now as they were in the late 1930s?

I hope WAISers will join this discussion.

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  • NATO Defense Spending by Nation (Harry Papasotiriou, Greece 10/01/16 11:42 AM)
    This is in response to Anthony Candil's comments (1 October) on the defense spending of European NATO member states:

    According to NATO, the following five members spent more than 2% of GDP on defense in 2015:

    USA - 3.62%

    Greece - 2.45%

    Poland - 2.18%

    UK - 2.07%

    Estonia - 2.04%

    Thus Greece is doing its share despite its economic crisis. Compare this to those with less than 1%:

    Luxembourg - 0.47%

    Hungary - 0.85%

    Spain - 0.89%

    Belgium - 0.90%

    Italy - 0.95%

    Slovenia - 0.95%

    Czech Republic - 0.97%

    A very uneven picture.

    Source: http://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/pdf_2016_01/20160129_160128-pr-2016-11-eng.pdf#page=6

    JE comments:  France is at 1.8%, smack in the middle.  Compare this with the 1936-'38 figures, according to A. J. P. Taylor:  France and Britain at 7%, and Nazi Germany at 16.5%.

    North Korea at present spends 23.8% of its GDP on the military.  No other country comes remotely close.

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  • Thoughts on Europe's Defense; Mussolini's Brain (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/01/16 1:48 PM)
    I read Anthony Candil's October 1st post with great interest, and was touched by his concern for the security of Europe.

    Anthony is absolutely correct that Europe in spite of 60 years of talking, has never managed to achieve anything serious about collective security.

    But, let's be brutal, any independent European security has been impossible for a simple reason: the Empire wants colonies in which maintain its military bases (going on for 71 years in Western Europe) and does not want a strong independent ally. Furthermore, Anthony rhetorically asks, what about NATO? Abolish it. This should have been done 25 years ago. An alliance among independent states is good while the status of colonies is self-defeating.

    What about Anthony's claim that without the American contribution Europe is practically defenseless? But who really wants to invade/attack Europe? For sure not North Korea or Iran, nor Russia; they want to be left alone. China is too strong economically, even with its problems. It does not need to send its armies to conquer Rome. There are some disputes in the South China Sea, but this is another story.

    The problems of Europe are mostly due to uncontrolled immigration. If the Empire had not disastrously meddled in the Middle East and North Africa since 1979 (or even before), we would not have such problems.

    By the way, Italy was not so irrelevant during WWII. Consider that for about 2 years it could stand up against the power of almost the entire British Empire. The famous Deutsches Afrikacorps after all comprised only three divisions, of which two were armored.

    During WWI, on 10 August 1918, the US troops arrived in Italy and had one casualty in the fighting. But then the US government gave itself the right/power to change Italy's boundaries!

    Another topic we've discussed lately is the "psychotic" Hitler. Frankly I am not sure that psychologists may clarify the historical/political phenomenon of Hitler.

    In Italy at the end of WWII the US General Director of Health Calvin S. Drayer requested (and obtained) a piece of Benito Mussolini's brain to be studied at the St Elizabeths Hospital of Washington. Ridiculous.

    The piece of brain, however, following a request of Donna Rachele, Mussolini's wife, was returned on 8 April 1966. The corpse of Mussolini had already been returned to the family on 30 August 1957.

    JE comments:  Several thoughts come to mind.  I understood that NATO was the collective security of Europe--although Eugenio Battaglia and others (such as John Heelan) have argued that the US has viewed the alliance as a means to keep the "killing fields" in Europe and away from North America.

    North Korea wants to be left alone?  The Japanese and the South Koreans would not agree.  Russia?  The Ukrainians would not agree.

    Further, is the "Empire" (the US) so hell-bent on maintaining its presence in Europe?  When France asked the US to leave in 1966, it did.

    Finally, I have to ask:  did they discover anything in Mussolini's brain?

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    • Hitler's Brain (Leo Goldberger, USA 10/02/16 11:42 AM)
      A question for Eugenio Battaglia: In you view, is the Hitler phenomenon beyond explanation--by anyone? Forget about psychologists--but what about historians, political scientists or other wise folks?

      I am puzzled by your seemingly blanket dismissal of an explanation of Hitler's reign of terror.

      JE comments: Conversely, we might say there is too much information on Hitler, which leads to a "paradox of choice" à la Barry Schwartz:  The more we explain Hitler, the less we understand him.

      To my mind, the fundamental question is unanswerable:  Did Hitler cause WWII, or did the historical factors cause Hitler?  My tentative answer would be yes.  Imagine if Hitler had perished in the Great War trenches.  Then what?

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      • Hitler, the Nazis, and Methamphetamine (David A. Westbrook, USA 10/02/16 7:17 PM)

        I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this. The Guardian certainly believes that Norman Ohler has provided something new in our understanding of Hitler, and indeed of the Nazi machine. See Blitzed:


        I have to say I like Ohler's story--writer and Berlin club habitue rethinks Hitler in terms of, well, clubbing. Too perfect.

        JE comments:  Much food (and drugs) for thought.  The Wehrmacht's reliance on the methamphetamine Pervitin has always been known, but society in a sense has "caught up.":  With the current meth epidemic and shows like Breaking Bad, we now have a basis of comparison by which we can better understand what the Germans were up to in WWII.

        I Googled "High Hitler" and got 211,000 hits.

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        • Hitler and Amphetamines: Norman Ohler's "Blitzed" (Leo Goldberger, USA 10/06/16 11:20 AM)
          In my view the only new information in Norman Ohler's Blitzed is his revelation of the widespread use of methamphetamine throughout the Nazi regime--especially its administration to the troops as the war looked bleaker and bleaker near the end.

          As for Hitler himself, the book by Leonard D. Heston, MD and Renata Heston, RN, entitled The Medical Casebook of Adolf Hitler, ought to be mentioned. It was published as far back as 1980--with a foreword by Albert Speer no less! (A revised version came out in 1999 as Adolf Hitler: A Medical Decent That Changed History--His Drug Abuse, Doctors, Illness.) Admittedly. their book is a rather dry, poorly written account--a far cry from the sort of spellbinding "docudrama" writing and frequent "it may have been" speculation to be found in Ohler's current bestseller in Germany! Nevertheless, as Ian Kershaw rightly states in his blurb, Blitzed is definitely a "very interesting book."

          Thanks to David Westbrook for bringing it to our attention.

          JE comments:  Might we have found the definitive new take on Hitler and the Nazis?  It's a story of many things, but it's also a story of addiction.

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      • Hitler's Brain...and Mussolini's Penis (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/03/16 4:02 AM)
        In response to Leo Goldberger (2 October), some episodes of history can only be related as fairly as possible and by mentioning all real facts. But discussing on how many testicles Hitler had...

        This reminds me of the director Sandro Boerio of the Italian magazine Focus Storia, who wrote that Mussolini had a cold penis. In fact, he supposedly used a rabbit skin around it.

        History quite often is a tragedy. BS is another matter altogether.

        JE comments: We're usually a family-friendly website, but I must ask: how does the rabbit skin thing work? With or without fur? I suppose it would bring good luck, although not so much for the rabbit.

        In reply to Eugenio, I don't see why discussing the sexual antics and hang-ups of historical figures is "BS." Such inquiries are not voyeurism, as they can lead to deep insight about psychology and behaviors. There are real-world implications here.

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        • Reflections on Hitler's Anatomy; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 10/06/16 3:58 AM)

          Gary Moore writes:

          Regarding Eugenio Battaglia's riposte (3 October) to Leo Goldberger on Hitler and the quantity and quality of
          what might be called totalitarian procreational ordnance, there is an arcane test of World War II-era
          street knowledge, resting on the movie Bridge over the River Kwai.

          Of course, everyone knows the
          tune whistled by the movie's stalwart British prisoners as they silently defy their Japanese captors.
          But in the movie the tune is only whistled, never sung--so we never hear its words--which could
          add a rich extra layer to the scene. Hence the test: What are the unsung words to the whistle-song
          of Bridge Over the River Kwai?

          For those left outside the barracks loop (get that whistling in your mind), it goes like this:

          Hitler--he had just one big ball.
          Goering--had two, but they were small.
          Himmler--well, he was simlar.
          But poor old Go-balls had no balls at all.

          JE comments:  Every British schoolboy knows that one--but there are variations.  "The other is in the Albert Hall" is one explanation for Hitler's lack of, ahem, symmetry.

          The original tune is the "Colonel Bogey March," which is of Great War vintage (1914).

          And don't forget "Comet," which makes your teeth turn green:


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          • Another Version of "Colonel Bogey" (Henry Levin, USA 10/07/16 1:21 AM)
            As a child during the war, we sang these words:

            Hitler has only got one ball,

            Goebbels has two, but very small.

            Himmler, has something simlar,

            But Mussolini has no balls at all.

            Perhaps the last line was because of the Italian reputation for retreat.

            JE comments: The tune has been in my head for the last 24 hours!  Nor have I been unable to shake the image of how Goebbels murdered all six of his children.

            Next up with a thought on Hitler's anatomy, Leo Goldberger.

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          • Ullrich's Biography of Hitler; Hitler's Sexuality (Leo Goldberger, USA 10/07/16 1:32 AM)
            Bringing to bear the factual history of Hitler's complex personality is actually the strength of the Ullrich biography. The prurient interest in Hitler's testicles (which the biopsy determined were in fact normal, according to Ulrich's evidential sources) is obviously as silly as the focus on the size of Trump's hands!

            In Ullrich's chapter 10 (pp. 267-280) you might find an impressive account of Hitler's manifold relationships with women, both sexual and non-sexual, that does cast an illuminating light on his being--beside simply calling him "psychotic," whatever that rather broad diagnostic term may mean to you.

            JE comments:  Perhaps these matters shed valuable light, perhaps not--but I recall it once being a commonly accepted historical fact that Hitler died a virgin.  This could be interpreted in two diametrically opposed ways:  either that he was completely dysfunctional in the sexual sense, which would explain his diabolical actions, or else he was so dedicated to the German nation that he had no use for distractions or pleasures of the flesh.

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  • Is Theresa May Delaying Brexit? On Europe's Defense (Nigel Jones, -UK 10/01/16 2:39 PM)
    Anthony Candil (1 October) spoke too soon! I, like him, had noted Theresa May's apparent lack of progress on activating Brexit in her first 100 days in office, and was about to write an article comparing this unfavourably with FDR's whirlwind first 100 days in the White House, when many of the building blocks of the New Deal were rushed through a shell-shocked Congress. (Though to be fair to May, the UK Parliament has been on its disgracefully long summer recess during much of the time.)

    However, today's Telegraph newspaper announces that May is to signal her intention to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act when she addresses her Conservative party conference in Birmingham tomorrow. This Act put EU law above UK law and its destruction is an essential first step in extracting Britain from the poisonous EU project, and reasserting our right to make our own laws.

    As for the body of Anthony's post: How can the EU defend itself without the protection of US and UK military muscle (even though that of the UK is much diminished thanks to the Cameron government's cuts)?  There is a simple answer: it can't. It takes decades to build a significant armed force in the modern world, and apart from France, EU countries have let their military establishment wither on the vine. Germany especially has lost her former taste for militarism and is militantly pacifist.

    Tentative moves to create an EU army come too little, too late when the trend is for the nations of the EU to reverse federalism and follow Britain in asserting their independence.

    JE comments:  We've pointed out before that France is the only nuclear nation left in the EU.  One wonders:  will the post-Brexit EU be forced to ramp up its military might, or (as Nigel Jones suggests), will the whole enterprise collapse?  In particular, what does AfD have to say about Germany's military strength?

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  • Thoughts on European Defense (John Heelan, -UK 10/02/16 5:52 AM)
    Anthony J. Candil (1 October) makes some important points, although in my view the establishment of an EU military force is a non-starter, simply because the EU could not afford the expense, especially as the Eurozone moves closer and closer to collapsing (a situation now recognised by the IMF and OECD), and the political structure moves closer to disintegration.

    However, there is a more worrying factor. A polarity of left and right ideologies is starting to emerge. Many of the Visegrad group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia) appear to be swinging towards far right-wing organisations heavily opposed to immigration.  (Yet they still demand emigration to the UK via the Schengen Agreement!)  WAIS has already discussed a similar swing in Germany, France and the Netherlands. On the other hand, other countries are seeing a swing to the left, not least the UK, while Spain's squabbling left wing continues to be in disarray with today's El País looking for a redefinition and agreement on "Socialism."

    Historians might well detect an ideological divide happening today similar to that of the early 20th century, which would provide fertile ground for national and international strife. Then the US would need to decide, as it had to in 1945-48, whether to deploy US and NATO forces to the European mainland to prevent it being overrun by the USSR and thus ensure that the killing fields do not spread to the US mainland.

    JE comments:  What I see in Europe is a shift to the extreme right, with the exception at present of Greece.  One likes to assume that Europe learned its lessons from the 20th century and won't engage in fratricidal conflicts, EU or no EU, but can we be so sure?  At least the likelihood of France and Germany going to war again are more or less zero.

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    • Europe's Shift to the Right (Nigel Jones, -UK 10/03/16 3:18 AM)
      I am probably one of the few WAISers who positively welcomes the swing to the Right in Europe and the US.

      In my view it represents a healthy and wholly inevitable reaction to the Cultural Marxism that has increasingly dominated academia and the mainstream media over the past half century, but it has suddenly caught fire among the wider population, thanks to a combo of global corporatism, and the associated tsunami of mass migration.

      This has hit the settled indigenous working populations hardest, especially because the Centre-Left parties that used to represent them (the Democrats in the US and Labour in the UK) have been taken over by said Cultural Marxists, who moreover have destabilised the Middle East with their wars fought for Saudi oil.

      The first victim of this counter revolution (unless we count the already forgotten David Cameron) is the EU, which is now crumbling before our very eyes. Let it come down, and let democracy and freedom thrive. Better Donald Trump than George Soros. Better Assad than Isis. Better Viktor Orban than Jean-Claude Juncker. Better KGB thug Vladimir Putin than lying, corrupt warmonger Hellery Clinton.

      One brief remark in John Heelan's post puzzled me mightily, coming from such a seasoned and usually shrewd political observer. John claimed that the UK was moving to the Left. This must have been a slip of his keyboard, since the exact opposite is the case. Current opinion polls place Labour at its lowest ever position since 1983, when it lost a General Election to Margaret Thatcher in a massive landslide. Political pundits are unanimous that if an election were held now, Labour, dominated by an openly Marxist clique, would fare even worse and would be reduced to a Parliamentary rump.

      No John. Britain, like most of Europe, is swinging strongly to the Right, and the snobbish, bien pensant elite who are wringing their hands have no-one to blame but themselves. Tough. Suck it up.

      JE comments: I already asked Nigel Jones off-Forum how he could pick Putin over Hillary. Should we do a WAISer poll? I'm quite sure Eugenio Battaglia would Vote Vladimir as well. Anybody else?

      (Nigel's "Hellery," by the way, is a "sic." David Pike wrote yesterday to say that his "Nigel Farrago" instead of Farage was not intentional but a mental lapse. Nigel Jones's reply to David will appear later today.)

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      • Europe's Shift to the Right (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/04/16 2:59 AM)
        I have to agree with Nigel Jones (3 October) that all implementations of Marxism to date have not worked. On the other hand, many social programs (Socialism) like Social Security, FDIC insurance, etc. have worked quite well in my judgment. Furthermore, on the direction of judging the results from the Right-wing swings that Nigel Jones welcomes, I ask: Where is the evidence?

        Every major "swing to the Right" has either not worked in social politic economic terms or ended in major disasters like in Nazi Germany, Pinochet's Chile, or the Bush-Cheney administration. Thus were Nigel gets his Right-wing inspiration is beyond my imagination. What would he do with all the human garbage piling up amidst our population? What would he do to maintain a healthy democracy? For any intelligent progress to be made we must reduce the political rhetoric and discuss specific issues and solutions.

        JE comments: Nigel Jones might cite Mrs Thatcher, who some would say restored the UK's role as a financial and military powerhouse. But all political shifts to the Right end up returning to the Left, and vice versa.

        Nigel has send a reply to David Pike, which will appear later this morning.  And Tor:  what--who--do you mean by "human garbage"?

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      • Europe's Shift to the Right (John Heelan, -UK 10/04/16 3:07 AM)
        Nigel Jones (3 October) is correct to pick me up on my poor phrasing when I wrote that "the UK was moving to the Left."  I meant to say that the politics of the main Opposition party are moving to the Left, as Nigel confirms with his "Labour in the UK has been taken over by said Cultural Marxists."

        However the gist of my comment in reply to Anthony J Candil (1 Oct) was that "there is a polarising of left and right ideologies is starting to emerge in Europe. Many of the Visegrad group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) appear to be swinging towards far right wing organisations heavily opposed to immigration (yet still demanding emigration to the UK via the Schengen Agreement!). WAIS has already discussed similar swings in Germany, France and the Netherlands."

        It is not surprising that Nigel favours a swing to the Right, especially as the Leader of his party said on TV recently, "I think if you feel since June 23 you've seen political change in this country, if they betray those people then you ain't seen nothing yet."

        Given Farage's charisma and populism, that might well be a warning of future problems between the UK's right-wing parties themselves once they have sorted out the "Nights of the Long Knives" both are experiencing. The Labour Party has also had its knives drawn over the past few months, and Momentum activists are taking on the Blairite factions. The outlook for UK (and perhaps US, German, French and Spanish) politics is bleak.

        As a professional historian steeped in the politics of the 1930s, Nigel might see some similarities to those times.

        JE comments: "Mal, Polonia, recibes a un extranjero," we learn from Pedro Calderón de la Barca's 1635 La vida es sueño. [Poland, you give a poor welcome to the foreigner.]  I'll test Calderón's thesis tomorrow, upon our arrival in Warsaw.  (We're on the overnight flight.) This is my first visit since that country's shift to the Right.

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