British politics are a terrible mess. But don’t blame populism, however that’s defined. If anything, blame democracy – however that’s organized.
President Donald Trump’s opening speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday is drawing widespread criticism for his aggressive statements about North Korea and Iran, but it is just as significant for what he didn’t mention at all.
Donald Trump mentioned Afghanistan just once in his speech to the United Nations Tuesday. His “new strategy for victory” there, he said, would help “crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.”
Unlike the nerve-jangling elections earlier this year in the Netherlands, France and Britain, Germany’s has been notably dull. The country that invented “Sturm und Drang” is showing a distinct lack of storm and stress as Angela Merkel heads towards a fourth term as chancellor.
Russia’s latest “Zapad” military exercise is underway on NATO’S eastern border. Tens of thousands of soldiers are taking part in the massive four-yearly war games that are both a drill as well as a show of strength for the West. Next time around, in 2021, those troops might be sharing their battle space with a different type of force: self-driving drones, tanks, ships and submersibles.
Protestors against President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed liberalization of French labor laws were on the streets of the country’s cities on Tuesday. The marchers, chanting slogans and brandishing placards, halted traffic as they moved slowly through the streets. A fringe of anarchists broke windows; police responded by firing tear gas. But this was no rerun of the mass marches of past years, let alone the semi-revolutionary eruptions of 1968.
SHANGHAI U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to block a Chinese-backed firm from buying a U.S.-based chipmaker this week is detrimental to America's growth and the global economy, China's state news agency Xinhua said in a commentary on Saturday.
Donald Trump is just the latest U.S. president in a long list of commanders-in-chief who have failed to find a way to deal with North Korea. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the central goal was preventing North Korean founder Kim Il Sung from redeploying his army south of the 38th parallel. For the last 25 years, however, the focus of U.S. policymakers has been something even more difficult: the denuclearization of the Kim dynasty.
Although it has involved disturbing events — ballistic missile launches, nuclear weapons tests, military exercises, inane bombast — the North Korean "crisis" of recent months is largely an invented one.
Shocked by the violence recently perpetrated by racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia and other liberal-leaning towns across the United States, many Americans see the rise of “white nationalism” on the political landscape as a sudden, nasty surprise. In truth, it’s been around a long time, coalescing after the triumph of the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1960s as an alliance of various hate movements that seek, often through violence, to avoid racial mixing, and preserve what they view to be the true culture of the United States: white and European, exclusive of Jews and Muslims.
Germans choose a government on September 24, and that government is likely to be headed, for the twelfth year running, by Angela Merkel. The uncharismatic 63-year-old from East Germany may not have captured her fellow Germans’ hearts, but she has appealed so strongly to their rational selves that polls suggest they find no reason to replace her.
The flood waters have not yet entirely receded from Houston and the Gulf Coast, but Texas Governor Greg Abbott is already talking about damage on the order of $180 billion, which would make Hurricane Harvey the most expensive storm in U.S. history. Meanwhile, Hurricane Irma is rolling into South Florida, threatening massive damage to another heavily populated region.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wants the Trump administration to supply Ukraine with “defensive weapons” to combat the Russian-supported separatists occupying parts of eastern Ukraine's Donbass region. On a recent visit to Kiev, Mattis told a news conference that these weapons “are not provocative unless you are an aggressor, and clearly Ukraine is not an aggressor.”
These are unexpectedly good times for the European Union. More than a year after Britons voted to withdraw from the organization, the euro has hit eight-year highs against the pound, eurozone economies have recorded improved growth and voters have rejected far-right populists in France and the Netherlands.
Watching the slow-motion crash of Britain’s exit negotiations with the European Union is a disconcerting experience. A state that once ran a global empire is looking second-rate as the government’s implausible expectations about what it may be able to achieve in the talks are dashed. The British lack of realism, especially about vital future trading arrangements with the EU, reflects divisions within a government weakened after Prime Minister Theresa May lost her Conservative majority at the general election in June. But it also shows the government’s dismaying lack of historical and strategic understanding about how Britain lost its clout outside the European club more than half a century ago.
To paraphrase a former U.S. secretary of state, Britain has lost a community but not yet found a friend. That the island is adrift became ever clearer last week as British officials made little progress in their third round of talks over the best way to exit the European Union.
Sixty-four years after North Korea and the United States signed an armistice to suspend the Korean War, the U.S. State Department has forbidden American citizens from traveling to the hermit state. The notice was put in the federal register on August 2; it becomes effective on Friday.
Last week, American liquefied natural gas (LNG) made its way to the somewhat unlikely market of Lithuania. The former Soviet republic traditionally bought its gas from Russian state company Gazprom; this was its first shipment from the United States. For President Donald Trump, that must have been a gratifying sign of the success of his administration’s nascent energy diplomacy.
September will be a nervous month in Eastern Europe. On September 14, Russia will unleash what may be its largest military exercise since the Cold War. In Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and elsewhere, officials are openly concerned that the “Zapad (‘West’) 2017” drills near their borders will be used as cover for a military attack.
When Congressional Republicans return from recess next week without anything to show for their party’s unified control of Washington, it will be time for them to attempt something radical: a return to regular order in both houses of Congress.
The views expressed by the authors in the Commentary section are not those of Reuters News.
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