Thursday, December 29, 2011

In the Land of the Galactically Stupid

Rick Perry presidential campaign, 2012Image via Wikipedia
This is a foreign policy blog – so I just could not resist:
“Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source”

Rick Perry, POTUS Wanabe in Clarinda, Iowa
Note well:  This got a huge round of applause from the audience.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Germany = EU - EU = Germany

Lest anyone feel uncomfortable with the notion that Germany is the EU and the EU is Germany, they need simply to  look at their Hooveristic economic policy it is imposing on  the EU and their attitude toward Ukraine at the recently conclude EU-Ukraine summit.
In the first case, the German government is simply saying that others – and they are looking at Spain, Italy and Greece in particular – must be like them, or else; hence the proposal to force the 27 members of the EU to amend their national constitutions to require balanced budgets.  To propose this in a recessionary environment sounds rather foolish especially when Germany has not proposed any growth policies, just crippling austerity which, ultimately won’t work to solve the multiple problems.  Coupled with the trade imbalances that exist in the EU – which Germany seems disinclined to address – it is hard to imagine any solution that would satisfy Germany which did not require that its policy choices are mirrored in Brussels.  If that’s the case, then the Eurozone is going to disintegrate and maybe even the EU.
The second German imposed decision arose at the EU-Ukraine summit.  Blithely ignoring the Polish position that inducements work better than sticks, Germany engineered the summit so that the EU did not even initial the Association Agreement with Ukraine killing, for the time being, closer economic cooperation and letting Yanukovich off the hook.  The reason for this rejection of even a small step forward was the German view that the Tymoshenko trial and imprisonment should bring the entire integration process to a grinding halt.  Astoundingly, Germany ignored Tymoshenko’s call to sign the Agreement preferring to appear as a defender of human rights while obscuring the inconvenient fact that 1) it is joined at the hip with Russia for energy and investment; 2) it gets to work on pipeline projects originating with Russia; and 3) it gets preferential pricing by Gazprom.
The result is that the EU, run by Germany, has managed to push an important country like Ukraine closer to the demonstrably undemocratic Russia and has also failed to come to grips with the Eurozone/EU crises.  Not a bad month’s work.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to All

France and Freedom of Speach

I’ve been gone for almost a month since my day job is in an end-year crunch to complete a raft of legislation here in Tajikistan.   As the holiday period approaches though, the rush by the government has abated.

The French lower house of parliament recently voted to make it a crime to deny that the Armenians suffered genocide during 1915 at the hands of the Ottomans.  The French should – but won’t – discuss the 1.7 million Algerians that were killed during their colonial war.  That’s ok as we all know that governments are hypocritical when it comes to their own history but are easily lured by the political advantage of condemning other nations or peoples. 
However, France and some other continental countries go further that simply expressing an opinion. They legislate against any other opinion that challenges their view.  Note to France (and Germany) – this is curbing the freedom of speech which you hold is one of the foundations of liberal democracy.  It is unique to France and such actions would never occur in the US or the UK.
There is no question that Turkey needs to move forward on its own to recognize the tragedy of 1915 – perpetrated by a different government in both form and substance.   It was clearly an attempt at ethnic cleansing – not genocide (as the word did not exist until recently).  The actions of the Ottomans need to be addressed between Armenia and Turkey and I humbly suggest that the comfortable Armenians in the United States and France keep their collective noses out of the issue.  I spent enough time in Armenia to know that many there would be able to resolve their differences in the region if they were permitted by the diaspora to do so.
And perhaps France and Germany should keep in mind that their great EU experiment is heading for catastrophe while Turkey is a rising power that should be courted, not rejected not least because its economy puts every EU member, except for Poland, to shame.