Thursday, June 7, 2018
The World Has Changed Since 1945, but Western Values Remain and President Trump Is Determined to Protect Them
IS THE WORLD ORDER STILL THAT OF 1945? A brilliant analysis of this question was published on May 29 by National Review. The title is "The Post-War Order Is Over." The author is Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of the recent book, "The Second World Wars : How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won." • Hanson's thesis is that "the 75-year-old post-war order crafted by the United States after World War II is falling apart. Almost every major foreign-policy initiative of the last 16 years seems to have gone haywire." We whould not be surprised that Hanson sees Donald Trump's presidency not as the creator of the collapse but as a reflection of it -- after all, it was the National Review that printed his article. • But, that aside, Hanson's points are fundamentally right : "Donald Trump’s presidency was a reflection, not a catalyst, of the demise of the foreign-policy status quo. Much of the world now already operates on premises that have little to do with official post-war institutions, customs, and traditions, which, however once successful, belong now to a bygone age." Hanson ticks them off one by one. §§ "The idea of a Western Turkey, “linchpin of NATO southeastern flank” -- an idea about as enduring as the 'indomitable' French Army of 1939. For over a decade Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insidiously destroyed Turkey’s once pro-Western and largely secular traditions; he could not have done so without at least majority popular support....neo-Ottoman Turkey is a NATO ally in name only. By any standard of behavior...Turkey is a de facto enemy of the United States. It supports radical Islamic movements, is increasingly hostile to US allies such as Greece, the Kurds, and Israel, and opposes almost every foreign-policy initiative that Washington has adopted over the last decade. At some point, some child is going to scream that the emperor has no clothes....Turkey is analogous to Pakistan, a country whose occasional usefulness to the US does not suggest that it is either an ally or even usually friendly." §§ "There is nothing much left of the old canard that only by appeasing China’s mercantilism can there be a new affluent Chinese middle class that will then inevitably adopt democracy and then will partner with the West and become a model global nation. China is by design a chronic international trade cheater. Trade violations have been its road to affluence. And it seeks to use its cash as leverage to re-create something like the old imperial Japanese Greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere. US trade appeasement of Beijing over the last decades no more brought stability to Asia than did nodding to Tokyo in the 1930s." §§ "There is also nothing sacred about the European Union. It certainly is not the blueprint for any continental-wide democratic civilization....The often-crude imposition of a democratic socialism, pacifism, and multiculturalism, under the auspices of anti-democratic elites, from the Atlantic to the Russian border, is spreading, not curbing, chaos. The EU utopian mindset has altered European demography, immigration policy, energy production, and defense. The result is that there are already four sorts of antithetical EUs: a renegade and departing United Kingdom, an estranged Eastern European bloc worried over open borders, an insolvent South bitter over front-line illegal immigration and fiscal austerity, and the old core of Western Europe (a euphemism now for German hegemony)." §§ "Germany...is no longer the “new” model West Germany of the post-war order, but a familiar old Germany that now pushes around its neighbors on matters of illegal immigration, financial bailouts, Brexit, Russian energy, and NATO contributions, much as it used to seek to expand Prussia and the Sudetenland. German unification now channels more the spirit of 1871 than of 1989. Call the new German attitude 'Prussian postmodernism' -- a sort of green and politically correct intimidation. Likewise, in terms of the treatment of German Jews, Germany seems more back in the pre-war than in the post-war world." §§ "Germany has redefined its post-war relationship with the America on something like the following three assumptions : 1) Germany’ right to renege on its promise to spend 2% of its GDP on defense in order to meet its NATO promises is not negotiable; 2) its annual $65 billion surplus with the U.S. is not negotiable; 3) its world-record-busting account surplus of $280 billion is not negotiable. Corollaries to the above assumptions are Germany’s insistence that NATO in its traditional form is immutable and that the present 'free' trade system is inviolable.” §§ "The post-war energy norm ended about ten years ago. The US by next year will be the world’s largest producer of natural gas, oil, and coal -- at a time of real progress in all types of hybrid engines. Israel does not need the Middle East’s -- or anyone else’s -- oil or natural gas. The Persian Gulf is now mostly a strategic concern of Iran and its archrival Gulf monarchies selling their oil to China and Europe, neither of which so far has the naval power to protect the precarious fonts of its energy interests." §§ "The Palestinian issue of the last 75 years is ossified. If the millions of persons displaced in Europe and the Middle East between 1946 and 1950 -- at about the same time as Palestinians left present-day Israel -- were not considered 'refugees' for decades, then Palestinians can hardly be singular sufferers. Perpetual victimhood is not a basis for a national agenda, much less a blank check for endless, virtue-signaling Western aid. Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem was simply an iconic recognition of what has been true for nearly a decade." §§ "The West Bank’s rich Arab patrons now fear Iran more than they do Israel. The next Middle East war will be between Israel and Iran...and the Sunni Arab world will be rooting for Israel to defeat Islamic Iran." §§ "Even nuclear proliferation no longer quite follows the post-war boilerplate of the anxious West clamoring for non-proliferation, rogue regimes getting nukes with a wink and nod of either the Chinese or Russians, and then the world assuming 'once a nuclear nation, always a nuclear nation.' Instead, if there is a next round of proliferation, it will likely be among democratic nations -- Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia -- to counter the failure of Western nations, the UN, and international associations to stop proliferation by the unhinged. They will seek deterrence against regimes that were nuclearized and supported by Russia and China in the past. Likewise, it is not written in stone that North Korea or Iran will always have nuclear weapons, given their isolated economies’ vulnerability to sanctions and blockades, their international unpopularity, and the costs that will be imposed upon their stealthy patrons." • Hanson concludes with the rather ominous warning that "we’re seeing the end of the old truism that the US was either psychologically or economically so strong that it could easily take on the burdens of global leadership -- taking trade hits for newly ascendant capitalist nations that ignored trade rules, subsidizing the Continental defense of an affluent Europe, rubber-stamping international institutions on the premise that they adhered to Western liberalism and tolerance, and opening its borders either to assuage guilt or to recalibrate a supposedly culpable demography." No, says Hanson : "About the only metaphor that works is that Trump threw a pebble at a global glass house. But that is not a morality tale about the power of pebbles, but rather about the easy shattering of cracked glass." • • • BRILLIANT BECAUSE OBVIOUS. But, isn't it true that the obvious is always left in the shadows, much like Chruchill's observation that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. • Is Hanson correct in his conclusion that : "Historic forces have made post-war thinking obsolete and thereby left many reactionary 'experts' wedded to the past and in denial about the often-dangerous reality before their eyes. Worse is the autopilot railing for the nth time that Donald Trump threatens the post-war order, undermines NATO, is clueless about the EU, or ignores the sophisticated institutions that hold the world together." • What Hanson does not offer is any possible replacement for the post-WWII world order. That may be understandable, because when an overriding order weakens or falls, it often requires severe dislocations and years of economic and territorial sabre rattling and even wars to find a new world order. What is absolutely true is that if the post-WWII world order is in disarray, and something will stabilize or replace it. • • • EUROPE AND POST-WWII WORLD ORDER. American Thinker's Alex Alexiev wrote a piece on Tuesday about "Italy and the End of the Euro" that strikes a chord Hanson would agree with. Alexiev says : "At the time Italy joined the European Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999 on its way to full-fledged membership in the eurozone in January 2002, economists debated whether this never-tried-before experiment will succeed or not. One of the most compelling debates at the time was between two giants of monetary thought, Robert Mundell and Milton Friedman. Mundell, who is occasionally referred to as the ‘father of the Euro,’ for having laid out the theoretical foundations of a common currency, was optimistic, Friedman, the opposite. Friedman is now dead while Mundell is 85, but the events in Italy may be bringing us closer to a resolution of the argument. So it is worth remembering the key points made by the two luminaries. Mundell, of course, pointed out the numerous and rather obvious benefits of a common currency, such as the dollar in the United States, Friedman believed that the “political consequences of a monetary area that is not coterminous with a political entity” would result in instability. He also believed that Europe had too many rules and regulations and lacked sufficient economic freedom to make the experiment successful. More fundamentally, though, he argued that the Euro was an effort to achieve political objectives by economic means and that, more than anything else, doomed it to failure." • Today, says Alexiev, "with a Euro-sceptical government in power in Italy, the first such government in a EU founding member, we may be close to finding out who was right." Alexiev says the data shows that the Italians had a very distinguished economic record until they joined the Euro : "Beginning in 1951 and for more than 30 years, Italy grew economically at over 5% per annum and passed the United Kingdom in 1987 as the third largest economy in Europe. Then it joined the Euro and stopped growing. According to the latest figures available, between 1999 and 2016, the country has had zero growth and its income per capita, which equalled the German one in 1999, is now at $34,200, while the latter stands at $45,500." Alexiev says this change in fortunes for Italians is what has made them Eurosceptics. • American Thinker's Peter Skurkiss wrote on May 30 that : "The Germans -- and not just their elite, but much of the general public as well -- are sold on the idea of a Europe free of nationalism. Such an attitude is no doubt highly influenced to the unhappy ending to their WWII experience. According to Wolfgang Streeck of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, the concept of 'Europe' has a sacred aura to it in Germany where it connotes 'all that is virtuous and pleasant -- from peace, human rights, tolerance, and an openness to international labor markets and convenient travel across borders.' German pro-European sentiment is the vehicle whereby Germany intends to lose its national sovereignty by blending into a Greater Europe and becoming respectable. At some subconscious level, this is an escape mechanism from the country's Nazi past. Such a mood has so affected German thinking that they view anyone who is less than enthusiastic about a deeper integration of the EU as proof positive of a moral defect. Psychologically speaking, the Germans are projecting their feelings onto others who do not necessarily share their views. That can be dangerous. France's view of Europe is diametrically different. The French are always hyper-sensitive to any encroachment on their national sovereignty. Since the end of WWII, their prime objective has been to bind Germany's economic power to French interests. The united Europe that the French espouse is actually an extension of the French national state, just as the Brussels Commission was conceived as a sub-department of French technocracy." Streeck sums up the French-German differences about the EU : "From a French perspective, there is no conflict between a 'sovereign France' and a 'sovereign Europe,' as long as Europe is properly constituted on universal, i.e., French principles and governed out of Paris, as an extension of French sovereignty. While in Germany a sovereign Europe is the desirable termination of national, including German, sovereignty, in France it is a condition, or a contemporary vision, of a sovereign France." The fundamental problem with this, for Streeck, is that : "other countries in the EU do not have a desire to submerge their national identities and sovereignty into a unified Europe, as does Germany, and none wants to be subjugated to French 'universal' values. This is especially true for the countries in eastern Europe which have only recently escaped domination under the communist USSR." • Hanson is right that there is "nothing sacred about the European Union," which has rejected Europe-wide democracy for the "often-crude imposition of a democratic socialism, pacifism, and multiculturalism, under the auspices of anti-democratic elites," and this is "spreading, not curbing, chaos." It ahs led to the EU utopian mindset that has "altered European demography, immigration policy, energy production, and defense." This has led to Brexit, an unruly Eastern European group that rejects open border mass migration, and an "insolvent South bitter over front-line illegal immigration and fiscal austerity." Who is to blame? The old core of Western Europe (a euphemism now for German hegemony), says Alexiev : "Take a look at the program of the new [Eurosceptic] coalition and you’ll see that, apart from asking for debt forgiveness, it wants to lower taxes and do away with open borders -- both key imperatives to a promising European future. Milton Friedman may yet turn out to be right." • And, when he voiced his January 2003 opinion about there being an "old Europe" and a "new Europe," then US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was also right. He touched a nerve in Europe, and the reaction from France and Germany was swift and harsh. But Rumsfeld's underlying point cannot be denied. Although he was talking about Iraq, divisions in Europe appear to run deep, with the main fault line falling between NATO's "older" European members and its new ones. Rumsfeld pointed it out to his critics : "You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's 'old Europe.' If you look at the entire NATO Europe today, the center of gravity is shifting to the East. And there are a lot of new members. And if you just take the list of all the members of NATO and all of those who have been invited in recently -- what is it, 26, something like that? [But] you're right. Germany has been a problem, and France has been a problem. You look at vast numbers of other countries in Europe. They're not with France and Germany, they're with the United States." Abrasive as he often was, Donald Rumsfeld was seldom wrong. • • • DONALD TRUMP AND THE POST-WWII WORLD. Trump’s election, according to Hanson, "was a hopeful sign, but a reflection rather than a catalyst of the demise of the status quo." • • EUROPE. What Hanson, and most, fail to see is that President Turmp's outspoken tweet-bites are not just meant for his Deplorable followers in the US, they are also directed to Europe and the world. His accusations about Germany crushing the economies of the other EU nations by hording a €700 surplus account and living off its export of sophisticated products and technology at the expense of the rest of the EU is not aimed at the US. It is aimed directly at the heart of the EU's problem -- he may express it in easy-to-grasp factual terms instead of using incomprehensible economic terms, but rest assured Trump could use the language of economists if he chose to. Trump's point is this -- by pursuing domination of the EU and thereby dictating to the US and its allies what is acceptable behavior, Germany, as Trump points out, has made all of Europe a victim of its economic manipulation. Hanson and Alexiev largely agree with that. The US covering much of the defense bill for Europe and allowing unfair trade practices to exist between America and the EU has allowed Europe to attain a level of wealth and prosperity that it never could have obtained otherwise. EU leaders believed that Trump would continue to tolerate in Bush-Clinton-Obama-like fashion the intolerable status quo between the US and Europe in terms of defense and trade. But, Donald Trump popped that bubble. • • MISSILE DEFENSE FOR THE US. Another area of Trump's non-traditional political leadership has been his massive support for the US military. He has many military advisors, and even the unusual choice of a military commander, General James Mattis, as his Defense Secretary. He has told Europe to pay up on its commitment to devote 2% of its GDP to defense through NATO, or shut up and bear the consequences of a US indifference to Europe's security. Trump knows the US will not abandon Europe -- it is too much a key to holding the Middle East in check for that to be a reasonable decision -- but President Trump is not going to pussyfoot around the undeniable fact that Europe is so sure of the US commitment to its defense that it feels free to do little to help itself remain secure. The Gatestone Institute's Peter Huessy discussed "America's Missile Defense Programs" in a Sunday analysis you can read at < https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/12424/american-missile-defense >. Dr. Huessy -- President of GeoStrategic Analysis, a defense consulting firm he founded in 1981, as well as Director of Strategic Deterrent Studies at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies -- says : "The 2018 new national strategy of the United States requires the development of an effective, robust layered missile defense, including an architecture for a hypersonic missile defense capability. The United States strategy also includes a plan for developing a space-based missile defense intercept capability, which is indeed revolutionary. Huessy quotes former Missile Defense Agency Director Lieutenant General Trey Obering : "The United States needs to develop the capability and the capacity to deal with everything that could be thrown at us by an Iran or North Korea and to blunt any initial missile salvo from China and Russia. I don't compare the cost of an interceptor to the cost of an inbound missile. I compare the cost of the interceptor to the value of an American city... The current missile defense budget is $12 billion a year. If you look at it in that regard, it's a very, very affordable program." What we are talking about here is a missile defense system for the US that would operate much like the Iron Dome system now in place in Israel. Its anti-American critics say a missile shield allows the US to be a "bully, to effectively use the offensive sword and do so with impunity by hiding behind a defensive shield." That is nonsense says General Obering. The United States and its allies cannot just sit back and take hit after hit. And, President Trump and his administration are in the final leg of a missile defense review which will be soon be forthcoming. In anticipation of that report, General Trey Obering outlines the coming "revolution in missile defense" that will replace its current legal parameter of being limited and designed to stop only rogue state missile threats, because the Missile Defense Act was amended in 2017 to eliminate the term "limited." This will now allow the United States to build stronger defenses that are needed, rather than those arbitrarily circumscribed by critics of missile defense, who were insistent when the bill passed the US Congress in 1999 that any defenses be strictly "limited." The House Armed Services Committee approved a defense bill May 10 by a vote of 60-1 that funds some of the required new missile defense technology to give the United States enhanced regional and homeland defenses, especially with the ground-based interceptors now in silos in Alaska and California, and find further ways to protect the America from an ICBM or long-range missile. Better sensors would bolster effectiveness, in addition to US and allied defenses such as THAAD, Aegis, and PAC-3, especially in the Middle East and Northwest Asia. General Obering emphasizes that with the limiting language of the 1999 missile defense law no longer prescribing what the US can build, the country can now adequately defend itself : "The US has the best technology. I would never bet against US technology, US engineering and US manufacturing, ever. When we put our mind to it we can do it, and it's time that we do that. Just think of the advances that have occurred in sensing, processing, artificial intelligence, propulsion, material science, and manufacturing." Obering observes that the missile defenses the US built in 2003-2018 against the emerging North Korean and Iranian threats "had no effective operational capability against Russia or China. And the Russians and Chinese knew that." If you do not have missile defenses, Obering warned, you either have to attack a potential aggressor pre-emptively or retaliate after an attack -- possibly leaving hundreds of thousands of Americans or its allies dead. Would not it be better to have missile defense as "a very humane option"? It is what President Ronald Reagan argued for: "Wouldn't it be better to save lives than to avenge them?" But if you do not have missile defenses, you do not have that option. • We are talking here about a Trump decision to free the US from NATO's increasingly diluted effectiveness often directed at the Middle East and Russia. Trump understands that the US needs to be secure, alone without dependence on weak allies, in an age when security is in the first instance technological and missile-based. Ground troops are vital, but they can be saved for their role as deployed deterrents internationally if the US can step up to a missile-based shield that protects it domestically. That is a very post-WWII world order thought at work. • • • WHAT HAS DESTROYED THE POST-WWII CONSENSUS? It is easy to say that the election of Donald Trump was the catalyst. That may be true, but the seeds of the collapse of the post-WWII world order reach back to WWII itself. If one element has dominated post-WWII world politics, it is the Holocaust. Allied leaders knew about the ongoing slaughter of Jews in extermination camps by Nazi Germany long before the allied armies marched into Berlin. Not everyone wanted to believe they could exist, seeing Germany as one of the most cultured modern countries in the world. Whether ordinary Germans supported the extermination of Jews is not the question -- read the American Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's "Hitler's Willing Executioners," a groundbreaking international bestseller laden with official and local government documents that put to rest many myths about Germans being ignorant of the Holocaust. But, Himmler had Germany by the throat. Trying to stop the killers would only have resulted in they themselves, and probably their families, being killed. That recognizes the reality of the Holocaust without excusing it. • But, the Holocaust was a key silent reason for the European Union. Regulating coal and steel commerce was a good business idea, but underlying it was undoubtedly the fear that without European regulation, Germany would again ascend to an industrial hegemony over the rest of the continent, with its bullying and perhaps deadly consequences. It became an article of European faith that anti-Semitism would be wiped out and its future perpetrators punished. • But, then, Germany began importing Turkish workers in the 1960s and the entire anti-Semitism goal was subsumed into Germany's desire to accommodate the Moslem Turks in Germany. Family reunification rights were introduced in 1974, allowing Turkish workers to bring their families to Germany. Why? Turkish workers helped fuel Germany's recovery, called the German miracle, after WWII. Germany's need for open borders predated the current immigration crisis by 50 years. The Turks were needed because Germany had lost over a quarter of its population, 2,290,000 people, during WWII, representing a generation, perhaps two generations, of males bcause of the war fought by Hitler and his anti-Semite henchmen insistent on eradicating Jews, who according to the German census of June 16, 1933, made up approximately 505,000 people out of a total population of 67 million, or less than 0.75%. By comparison, France lost approximately 550,000 military and civilian citizens in WWII, well below Germany's losses, because France was captured by Germany early in the war and did not participate in the grinding battlefield losses. But, France had been overrun by Germany three times since 1870 and it had learned its lesson. Keeping Germany under control became one of its basic political goals. Thus, the normal national political and societal agendas of post-WWII Europe were given short shrift in the drive to prevent another German catastrophe, one that even Germany feared. And, that drive was made by a continent that had experienced socialist government ever since the Prussian-German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck began his social welfare program regime in the 1889. Germany became the first nation in the world to adopt an old-age social insurance program in 1889. Most of Europe followed his idea. It led to most European governments, and public sentiment, leaning left, a key consideration because Nazism was of the Left, not the Right. Europe became the Progressive nanny state with its Globalist goal of eradicating national states for a global uber-state ruled by international organizations. Today, we face disguised Hitlerism in George Soros, Barack Oarama, the Clintons, and the EU elites, who strive to trample out any sense of culture and national history. It is ironic that they call conservatives 'Nazis'. The post-WWII European political landscape is full of efforts to restrain Germany and provide a cradle-to-grave social welfare states for all Europeans. That has led to economic disjuncture, democracy setbacks, and the growing sense among southern and eastern EU nations that it is fundamentally unfair that everything that happens in Europe is based on German considerations, especially when the outcomes cut against the norms of western civilization. • Track the effects of the Holocaust from 1945 to 2018. It led to the shame-driven decision of the UN after WWII to give Jews a homeland -- what had been cynically offered and withheld since WWI became reality. But, instead of settling the Palestinian question, the world simply told Jews to go to their newly designated homeland and fight it out with hostile neighbors. Israel won that fight, but when it became clear that the Arabs were no match for the Israelis on any level, the EU elites did the only thing their politics permitted -- they sided with the Palestinians and Islam against Israel. It helped that when Britain was establishing the principle of a Jewish homeland in 1915-1917, France became positioned to maintain its colonial stronghold in Syria and Lebanon, both Moslem countries, so that it had become the home to a large Moslem Middle East and North African Maghrebi population, neither of which easily tolerated Jews. • • • DEAR READERS, those early 20th century decisions, followed by WWII, the Holocaust and its influence on the formation of the EU, have morphed into the intransigent position of the EU elites and the Globalist UN that sees Palestinians as agrieved and Israel as the aggressor. It has divided the Middle East, forced Arab nations to favor officially but not offer support to the Palestinians, and made the US the permanent arbitor between its ally Israel and the rest of the world. If the post-WWII world order has broken down, it has occurred mostly because of Europe's fear of a robust Germany, the difficult to control European pockets anti-Israel anti-Semitism, and the Middle East's religious fight between Judaism and Islam, encouraged by early 20th century decisions made by Europeans. • Europeans worry about their own attitudes about Jews -- on TV, in serious and popular journals, in films and documentaries, and around kitchen tables. Europe's conscience nags it to protect Jews against anti-Semitism while its social exigencies increasingly tell it to side with its growing Moslem population's argument that anti-Semitism does not exist, all the while insisting that it is caused by European Jews themselves. • What do the Holocaust and European anti-Semitism have to do with the premise of a collapsing post-WWII world order. It was the Holocaust, and prior European political decisions, that led to the formation of the EU, to its demographics-caused inevitable support for Islam over Judaism, and thus to its growing position as a leading Globalist entity at odds with the United States and the Western ideal of democratic social and legal equality. Add to that the imposition of a common currency in the form of the Euro that enforces the German model of an industrial, export-oriented economy on southern European countries whose economies cannot survive when forced to use the German model, and trouble brews rapidly. • Meanwhile, President Trump is holding fast to the ideals of the West. He seeks the friendship of all nations that treat their citizens well. He represents the mainstream of America that is, to answer Hanson, psychologically and, under Trump, economically so strong that it can easily take on the burdens of global leadership. Donald Trump does not threatens the post-WWII world order, he protects it. He does not undermine NATO, he only forces Europe to admit that it is necessary for Errope's defense and pony up a bigger portion the cost. Trump is not "clueless" about the UE, he is trying to make it accept to its natural role as the defender of Western democracy in its own sphere of influence. Trump does not ignore the sophisticated institutions that hold the world together, he defends them and the Western civilization that created them -- read his Warsaw speech again if you have forgotten his stirring defense of Western ideals. • If the post-WWII world order is falling apart, Trump is trying to pull it back together, albeit in a new format where collegiality is paramount, where every nation bears its fair share of the burden of defending freedom and personal liberties, and where the United States uses its great reserve of financial and technological resources to keep itself strong so that it can serve as the last defense when needed. The world has changed dramatically in many ways since 1945, but the values of the West remain. Trump's stones are not meant to break the glass house, but rather to build a rock-solid fortress for Western civilization.