Great Britain became more European on Thursday, August 29th, when the parliament refused to give its Prime Minister the support he wanted (but did not need) for air strikes against Syria. Now David Cameron has been humiliated and a precedent for future war authorizations has been set.
The British public and the members of parliament are haunted by the Iraq war syndrome, tired of a decade of war, and concerned by a) lack of sufficient evidence that Syria’s military was responsible for the chemical attack, b) lack of legality and c) lack of strategy. The “special relationship” with the United States has been damaged heavily, although it must be said that its importance has been exaggerated in the past.
Britain is now more European. This could turn out to be more of a bad than a good thing, but I am optimistic as there could be more unity when strategic cultures are similar. Most other observers see this negatively, even describe Britain as turning into Switzerland or Germany. Yep, that’s supposed to be an insult.
The international news channel France 24 interviewed me after the Obama speech in Berlin and gave me an opportunity to talk about nuclear arms reduction, Obama's message to Europe, German defense spending, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and more. After roasting in the sun for hours waiting for Obama and interviewing Berliners about their expectations, I got to stand under equally strong spotlights for an hour of live television.
The other participants of the debate moderated by François Picard were Tyson Barker of the Bertelsmann Foundation in Washington DC, Professor Anne Deysine of Paris X-Nanterre, Professor Anton Koslov of the American Graduate School of International Diplomacy, and the journalist Martin Untersinger.
In the first video of the show I commented on Obama's statements on nuclear arms reduction and his goal of Global Zero (at 11:47 minutes). I also pointed out what I believe was Obama's most important message to Germans and Europeans in general (at 13:27 min) and called for solidarity and an increase in German defense spending to meet the NATO criteria (14:00 min). I assessed his speech in general (15:36 min) and spoke on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (16:10):
Below, the second video for the other half of the talk show begins with my comments on the high security measures for the speech, then I spoke on PRISM and data protection (12:13 min), and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) again (18:57 and at 23:38):
"Hello Börlin. Thank you, Chancellor Mörkel." Obama charmed the crowd and gave an emotional boost to German-American relations, but I think his political message to Germany was too subtle and has not convinced politicians and citizens.
President Obama said that "freedom won here in Berlin", while he stood behind bullet-proof glass in a sort of aquarium... More than anything he said, it is this level of protection that convinced me that we live in a dangerous world and that we cannot take security for granted and that freedom is precious.
My video is shaky, but I think you will see that the crowd was in a great mood. Yes, it was by invitation only, but still pretty diverse:
The Times They Are a-Changin: The last 22 Abrams tanks of the US Army have left Germany. From Stars & Stripes:
From World War II on through the Cold War, tanker units were a heavy presence in Germany. At its peak, Germany was home to 20 NATO armored divisions, or about 6,000 tanks, according to the 21st TSC. "There is no [U.S.] tank on German soil. It's a historic moment," said Lt. Col. Wayne Marotto, 21st TSC spokesman.
Not just countries, but big companies or even a very rich individual could get a nuclear weapon in the next few years. NATO's Michael Rühle writes in IP Journal about the nuclear smuggling network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb:
To profit, he created a network of commercial relationships - which ultimately included over a thousand companies - as well as his own production facilities in Malaysia, South Africa and Turkey. This privatization of nuclear proliferation has allowed several countries to approach the threshold of nuclear status, a development that has significantly altered the international security landscape. It is now clear that nuclear proliferation can also take place outside of the international state system - the very system on which the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is built. This development is bound to ensure unpleasant surprises in the future. Whether Khan's proliferation network has been completely dismantled is not entirely clear. What is clear, however, is that the commercialization of nuclear proliferation continues.
Scary eh? Yes, the Non-Proliferation Treaty is so 20th century. We probably need a Bond movie or new TV show by the creators of 24/Homeland to raise some awareness and reform intelligence services. Many European countries still don't have intelligence services with operational divisions.
Wow, I did not realize the German and Italian Nazi leaders were so young when they came to power. Should I be worried about the political radicalization of youth in Europe today due to the economic crisis? Will some of them turn into Fascist leaders in five years? Walter Laqueur in The New Republic in July:
If youth is the season of hope, it is also the age of credulity and fanaticism; the radicalism on behalf of which youth has served as a vanguard has not always been so admirable. Consider Italy's fascist movement. Mussolini was not yet 40 at the time of his march on Rome, and those surrounding him were even younger-Achille Starace, the future secretary of the party, was 33; Dino Grandi, the future minister of justice, was 27. Galeazzo Ciano, the future foreign minister, claimed to have participated at the age of 19. (The anthem of the fascists was "Giovinezza primavera di bellezza": "Youth, Spring of Beauty.")
1. Today is Armistice Day. Americans celebrate it as Veterans Day, for the Polish it is Independence Day and quite a few Germans, who want to forget war, celebrate today instead as the beginning of the carnival season. What hedonistic, ignorant society we are.
2. Armistice Day is an appropriate term, as November 11, 1918 did not really bring an end to the "Great War," at least not lasting peace. Neither did the Treaty of Versailles. The world war was only really over on May 8, 1945. Thirty-one damn years.