Fires!

Closing Thought–16Apr19

The world has heard of the catastrophic fire in the cathedral of Notre Dame…..and this is what we know so far….

At 6:20 p.m on Monday, the first call to emergency services came in, but no fire was visible at that time, Paris prosecutor Rémy Heitz said. The first call mentioned a fire in the attic, according to the fire brigade.20 minutes later, a second alert was called in, and the fire was visible at that point, the prosecutor said.Around 400 firefighters were deployed to the scene but were delayed slightly by rush hour traffic.

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/16/europe/notre-dame-explainer-scli-intl/index.html?no-st=1555429417

The media was fixated on Notre Dame…the third holiness sites of Islam was also aflame……

A fire broke out at the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem just as flames ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Footage showing smoke and fire emerging from the roof of a structure known as the Marwani Prayer Room, or Solomon’s Stables, could be seen on social media. The Palestine News Agency, the official outlet of the Palestinian National Authority, cited a guard as saying Monday that “the fire broke out in the guard’s room outside the roof of the Marwani Prayer Room, and the fire brigade of the Islamic Waqf handled the matter successfully.”

No injuries or damage was reported during the short blaze.

https://www.newsweek.com/notre-dame-fire-aqsa-mosque-1397259

All in all a bad day for holy sites……

 

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That “Marshall Plan”

As usual the old professor is about to drop some history on you….was that an eye roll?

Whenever some economic plan comes about it is compared to the Marshall Plan of the 1940s….but since the nation is so damn young now how many actually knows what the Plan was about?

Well I can help with that lack of knowledge……

The Marshall Plan, also known as the European Recovery Program, was a U.S. program providing aid to Western Europe following the devastation of World War II. It was enacted in 1948 and provided more than $15 billion to help finance rebuilding efforts on the continent. The brainchild of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, for whom it was named, it was crafted as a four-year plan to reconstruct cities, industries and infrastructure heavily damaged during the war and to remove trade barriers between European neighbors – as well as foster commerce between those countries and the United States.

In addition to economic redevelopment, one of the stated goals of the Marshall Plan was to halt the spread communism on the European continent.

Implementation of the Marshall Plan has been cited as the beginning of the Cold War between the United States and its European allies and the Soviet Union, which had effectively taken control of much of central and eastern Europe and established its satellite republics as communist nations.

The Marshall Plan is also considered a key catalyst for the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance between North American and European countries established in 1949.

https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/marshall-plan-1

But with this gesture of goodwill was not without a bunch of myths…..was not all rainbows and unicorns……

Perhaps the most persistent and enduring myth in modern British history is that the country did badly, in comparison with its European neighbours, out of the Marshall Plan, the scheme of American largesse that funded the reconstruction of war-ravaged western Europe. But it is simply not true.

West Germany received $1.7 billion of postwar aid from the United States, which it invested primarily in capital and infrastructure, paving the way for the Wirtschaftswunder, the postwar economic miracle that turned the country into a manufacturing powerhouse, which, even after the considerable cost of reunification in 1990, it remains.

Britain, as victor, had an understandable sense of entitlement – and let us not forget the nature of the regime that it and its Empire had helped defeat – but, as an indication of the sacrifice it had made, it ended the conflict with an economy more like that of a defeated or occupied nation.

https://www.historytoday.com/archive/editor/marshall-myths

You now know more than you did before reading…..

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

An European Army?

Closing Thought–12Nov18

WTF?

I shared this info with a loyal reader of IST from the UK, https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/ , I try to get first hand info on stories I read….Pete has a great mind and lets me know what’s what in the UK and EU…..his takes are much appreciated.

The French dude has called for a standing “European Army” to protect the continent from Russia and the US…..really from the US?

Emmanuel Macron is calling for the formation of a “real European army,” and while two of that potential force’s foes, per the French president, are usual suspects, it’s the third that’s raising eyebrows. During a tour of WWI memorials in Verdun on Tuesday, Macron encouraged countries in Europe to establish a unified military effort to shield the continent “with respect to China, Russia, and even the United States of America,” reports AFP, via Time. “When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty, who is the main victim? Europe and its security,” Macron noted, apparently referencing Trump’s pulling out of a nuclear weapons pact with Russia last month.

“Peace in Europe is precarious,” he added, with the Guardian noting Macron also warned of rising populism and nationalism there. Macron will be hosting a global “peace conference” in Paris on Sunday that will include Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, among other top leaders, and he’s expected to keep cautioning against what he calls the “leprosy” of nationalism—especially when compared to the past. “I am struck by similarities between the times we live in and those between the two world wars,” he told local media. The BBC, meanwhile, doesn’t know if this idea will ever fly, noting that “there is no evidence that any group of European countries has the political will or economic muscle to spend sufficiently on defense to make up for the United States’ raw power.”

Most of Europe is in the clutches of austerity programs so I do not think the cash is there for another standing army…..and then there is the “will”…don’t think there is much of that either.

Closing Thought–16Jul18

Our Dear Leader’s trip to Europe this past week and into this week has been a wealth of stories for the MSM……and one of the biggest that few have let go by without comment is the fact that he, Trump, thinks that Europe is the US chief foe in the world……

President Trump has raised eyebrows ahead of his meeting with Vladimir Putin regarding who he feels are the enemies of the United States. In an interview from Scotland with CBS News, the president told anchor Jeff Glor that the EU with its 28 members, many of which are longstanding US allies, qualifies. “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade,” he said. “Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.” While the interview made headlines mostly for this line on Sunday, just a day before Trump is slated to meet face-to-face with Putin, Trump also said he believes the same about Russia and others. “Russia is foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly they are a foe. But that doesn’t mean they are bad. It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they are competitive,” Trump said.

Trump also sat with former CNN news show host Piers Morgan for the Daily Mail. As USA Today notes, the interview touched on some of today’s most hot-button issues, including the US Supreme Court’s potential to revisit Roe vs. Wade, Trump’s meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, and child separation at the southern border. The interview took place aboard Air Force One, where Trump told Morgan he believes there’s a “very good chance” the high court won’t address the landmark 1973 decision to legalize abortion. Trump also told Morgan he “had a great feeling” during his meeting with the queen and discussed with her the complexities of the Brexit issue. He added that Putin was “probably” ruthless, “but I could name others also.”

I am sorry if this statement insults any of my more Right leaning visitors…..but Our Dear Leader is an idiot…I do not care how many times one tells me that he is a genius and attended  Wharton…..then maybe he should have stayed awake during class…..his words are mindless crap to generate and get headlines and to focus all attention on him……a mental midget that will use his mouth to destroy this nation’s reputation in the world.

Just a thought here……If there is one thing the president and his aides should be working on between rounds of golf at his club in Scotland, it is exactly how the president will look and what he will say on the first handshake with Putin in Helsinki. This is not a reunion of frat buddies or old friends. This is a meeting of two powerful, competitive leaders at a time of great tension in the relationship between their nations, caused by one seeking to undermine the very foundation of the other’s form of government. (FoxNews.com)(Boy did Trump piss that meeting up)

Trying to make sense of the mindless words of Our Dear Leader is so exhausting….but someone needs to let the people know what he is doing to this country.

“I really think the world wants to see us get along,” Trump told reporters….

What world would that be?  The real world or the slimy world in Dear Leader’s mind?

NATO–The Week That Was

And a helluva week it has been!  (This is a lot to take in but it is all very informative)

Our dear leader has pissed off NATO and then went on to the UK and in his wake are so many questions about NATO and for NATO……

At least the US Congress is trying to save the organization as best they can…….

Lawmakers in Washington worked quickly Tuesday to set legislative guardrails in support of NATO as President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly bashed the alliance, arrived in Europe for a NATO summit and meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin later in the week.

Hours after Trump landed in Brussels, the Senate passed a non-binding measure, 97-2, that expresses support for NATO, its mutual self-defense clause and calls on the administration to rush its whole-of-government strategy to counter Russia’s meddling in the U.S. and other democracies.

With the established global order on shaky footing, Trump’s weeklong trip to Europe will test already strained bonds with some of America’s closest allies, then put him face to face with the leader of the country whose electoral interference was meant to help put him in office.

https://www.defensenews.com/smr/nato-priorities/2018/07/10/us-senate-votes-to-defend-nato-as-trump-attacks/

The presidential rhetoric has many foreign policy wonks and international relations is holding their breath…….

These days, Europe’s NATO observers are a bit like members of a doomsday cult waiting for the end of times. Many are bracing for this week’s NATO summit with grim determination, all the while counting down to the apocalypse by collecting the insults that President Donald Trump is lobbing at NATO. Within a week, he has proclaimed that the alliance is “as bad as NAFTA” (the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump loves to hate), that “NATO is killing us” and that the European Union is “as bad as China.” And, of course, there was his already infamous statement at a rally in North Dakota late last month: “Sometimes our worst enemies are our so-called friends and allies.”

Only the most devoted NATO fans are likely to know the alliance’s official motto, “animus in consulendo liber” – a phrase so obscure that even NATO admits it doesn’t have a satisfactory translation (what does “man’s mind ranges unrestrained in counsel” even mean?). But almost everyone is familiar with the alliance’s unofficial motto, coined by the first NATO secretary-general, Hastings Ismay: “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Today, however, European attitudes are much more complex than Ismay’s tripartite formulation. In April and May, the European Council on Foreign Relations sought to track the views of political elites in European Union member states through a survey of researchers that incorporated interviews with more than 150 policymakers and analysts, along with extensive research into policy documents, academic discourse, and media analysis. This scorecard suggests that stakeholders in the EU member states, 22 of which are NATO members, – disagree – in some cases with one another, but almost always with Trump – on each vector of this once-unifying narrative: the role of the United States, Russia, and Germany.

https://warontherocks.com/2018/07/watching-for-signs-of-natos-end-of-times/

If NATO is to survive there are those that think there needs to be a reset….

President Donald Trump will undoubtedly criticize allies for not spending enough on defense and for pursuing their own economic wellbeing, in part at the expense of the United States. The president has been lambasted for criticizing U.S. allies and indeed, our alliances are important and represent some of the greatest achievements of U.S. foreign policy. However, Trump’s criticisms are justified. NATO must reform; it is not sustainable in its present form.

The alliance is ill-structured, ill-equipped and ill-financed to deal with the European region’s two major security problems—an aggressive Russia and the spillover of instability and terrorism from the Middle East and North Africa—leaving aside emerging global security challenges. Worse, at times some members can even be said to have enabled the threat. One example being the massive German purchase of Russian gas, which provides Putin with ongoing financing. To deal effectively with these challenges on an equitable and sustained basis among allies, the terms of the partnership must be renegotiated and its common ground redefined. This is in Europe’s best interest too.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/strategic-reset-nato-25396

Will NATO survive?  I think it will but the best question should be will the US remain a member?

NATO is always looking for new members to expand its reach and the newest is a country that has just settled a long running dispute……Macedonia.

NATO leaders agreed on Wednesday to invite Macedonia to begin accession talks to join the Western alliance, extending its reach in the Balkans in defiance of Russia following a landmark accord with Greece over the ex-Yugoslav republic’s name.

Macedonia will become NATO’s 30th member state, though its people must first back the deal with Greece in a referendum. Under the accord, the official name of the country will become ‘Republic of North Macedonia’.

“We have decided to invite the government in Skopje to begin accession talks to join our alliance,” the leaders said in their summit communique.

The invitation to the small Balkan state of two million people comes despite opposition from Russia, which sees its influence in the region diminishing. A small pro-Russian party in Macedonia also opposes NATO membership.

(reuters.com)

And Ukraine waits…..and speaking of Ukraine…….

Hungary’s efforts to block Ukraine from the NATO Summit play into the hands of Russia. Hungary stated that it will block the NATO-Ukraine Commission from meeting at the upcoming NATO Summit on July 11 – 12 due to Hungary’s opposition to a recent language bill that Hungary asserts infringes on the rights of Hungarians in Ukraine. The Kremlin is pursuing a comprehensive campaign to target Ukraine via Hungary as outlined by the Institute for the Study of War in 2017. The Kremlin has attempted to influence a wide range of decision-makers in Hungary and fostered separatist narratives among Hungarians in Western Ukraine in order to destabilize Ukraine and distance it from the EU. The Kremlin is actively pursuing a broader region campaign aimed at driving a wedge between Ukraine and its neighbors such as Poland.

The U.S. and NATO allies should pressure Hungary to support the membership of Ukraine in NATO. Russia will continue to seize similar instances of bilateral friction as opportunities to distance Ukraine from NATO and erode the overall cohesion of NATO. The U.S. and NATO should use the upcoming summit to pressure Hungary to find an alternative venue to resolve its disputes and support Ukraine as a strong signal of united resolve towards Russia.

(ISW blog)

Now we go to Helsinki (a beautiful city) and the big meeting between spy and handler…..Trump and Putin…..and good time will be had by all.

1914–In The Beginning

When I was in college and studying war the First World War was a good study…….we all knew that the knew the origin of the war was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire…..since those dark days of my youth other thoughts about the beginning of the Great War have come to light.

How could the death of one man, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was assassinated on 28 June 1914, lead to the deaths of millions in a war of unprecedented scale and ferocity? This is the question at the heart of the debate on the origins of the First World War. Finding the answer to this question has exercised historians for 100 years.

In July 1914, everyone in Europe was convinced they were fighting a defensive war. Governments had worked hard to ensure that they did not appear to be the aggressor in July and August 1914. This was crucial because the vast armies of soldiers that would be needed could not be summoned for a war of aggression.

Socialists, of whom there were many millions by 1914, would not have supported a belligerent foreign policy and could only be relied upon to fight in a defensive war. French and Belgians, Russians, Serbs and Britons were convinced they were indeed involved in a defensive struggle for just aims. Austrians and Hungarians were fighting to avenge the death of Franz Ferdinand.

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/world-history/the-debate-on-the-origins-the-first-world-war

AS with most wars….the beginnings are in question depending where you stand in the conflict…

A hundred years on and we are still confused about the First World War…there are so many questions that are difficult to answer or not answerable at all.

The war had been raging for 3+ years when the US entered into the conflict in 1917…..once the Americans entered into the fray there were some “firsts” for America……

World War I was a global battle that lasted from July 28, 1914, to November 11, 1918. Tens of millions of servicemen from over 30 countries fought on battlegrounds all over the world. Many methods of combat were pioneered in this bloodbath, which ended up killing 16 million people. Technology-wise, it was the first war to see large scale use of poisonous gas, airplanes, and tanks. Also, artillery technology and targeting was perfected to rain death on thousands of soldiers. America tried to stay out of it for years but was pulled in, declaring war against Germany on April 6, 1917. Here are 10 historic firsts in America’s involvement in World War I…

http://www.toptenz.net/10-firsts-in-americas-involvement-in-world-war-i.php

I may be one of the few Americans that actually studied this war and has an interest to see it not forgotten.

I feel that NO war should ever be forgotten by the citizens of America….our young were sent some died….never forget that fact….it is the young that pay a price for war.

The Art Of The Deal

WE have seen or heard the the president will meet with Kim in Singapore in June to discuss the denuclearzation of the Korean Peninsula….but in light of his, Trump, decision to bow out of the Iran nuke deal what must North Korea be thinking?

Why bow out?  What could the real reason be for the decision……

Donald Trump doesn’t hate the Iran deal because it is a bad deal. He hates it because it is by all accounts a decent deal that has actually been working.

If you doubt this statement, ask yourself: What sensible argument has Trump ever offered to support his opposition to the deal? Sure, he has used his ever-expanding and descriptive vocabulary to call it some grandiose names, but he hasn’t actually explained what is wrong with it.

If the deal is so bad, why would he even want to bother pursuing a deal with North Korea? What deal could he possibly make that wouldn’t involve an arrangement similar to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)? (We will turn to this point in a moment).

http://theantimedia.com/why-trump-abandoned-iran-nuclear-deal/

Sounds logical…..

A thought about the Iran Deal……

So, he did it. Trump announced on 8 May that he would reimpose sanctions against Iran. This is a breach of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed by President Obama with Iran, the UK, Germany, France, Russia, the EU and China in 2015. The other signatories may now scramble to do what they can to salvage the deal, but it is likely that Iran will simply turn its back on it.

https://www.newstatesman.com/world/middle-east/2018/05/donald-trump-ending-iran-nuclear-deal-outbreak-organised-stupidity

That aside what are the chances that the nuke deal can be saved….not by the US but by the European nations.

A couple of thoughts……

Despite months of E3-US negotiations to avert an unnecessary crisis over the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump has declared a hard exit from the nuclear agreement. The decision demonstrates that the US has decided that confrontation with Iran is both necessary and inevitable, regardless of what European allies think. The US administration looks set to increase tensions with Tehran and promote an implosion of Iran’s economy in ways that significantly increase risks of greater military escalation in the Middle East. Moreover, in the coming weeks, United States looks set to lead an economic and political assault on European interests.

The E3 should now acknowledge that its negotiating tactic of accommodation and comprise with Trump has failed. If Europe is to have any influence forthcoming US policy on Iran, European governments should quickly shift tack, unifying behind a more assertive diplomatic strategy aimed at deterring the worst-case scenario of renewed Iranian nuclear program and more instability and violence in a region close to its borders.

http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_after_trump_iran_decision_time_for_europe_to_step_up

A group that I have worked with in the past also has an idea and they think that Europe can fill the void left by the US……

Why does it matter? U.S. withdrawal from the deal might kill it instantly; more uncertainty over the deal’s fate might suffocate it, as opinion in Tehran is turning against it. Iran could cancel the deal; target the U.S. or its Middle East-ern allies; or leave the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – all exacerbating the regional turmoil.

What should be done? Europe should develop a plan B to keep Iran party to the deal regardless of what the U.S. does on 12 May. This plan should include short- and medium-term measures to build trade with Iran, contingent upon verification of continued Iranian compliance with the deal and additional re-forms.

https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iran/185-how-europe-can-save-iran-nuclear-deal

I wish them luck in their endeavor……

But will the talks go forward at all?  Who will be the first to derail these talks?

President Trump is supposed to have a historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month—but now North Korea, angry over joint military exercises between the US and South Korea that started Friday, is threatening to cancel it. The Korean Central News Agency called the Max Thunder drills between the South Korean and US air forces that are taking place in South Korea over a period of two weeks “an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula,” per Yonhap News. The KCNA said high-level talks with South Korea planned for Wednesday were canceled, per the Hill, and that “the United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-US summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities.”

The USA just could not stop the muscle flexing…….

Aerial combat drills involving US and South Korean warplanes are riling North Korea, whose state media referred to the exercises as a “provocative military ruckus.” North Korea has responded by postponing some high-level talks with South Korea set for Wednesday in the DMZ.

North Korea’s statement also admonished the US to “undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-US summit.” North Korea submitted a notice to South Korea on the Wednesday postponement, but the US State Department says they’ve received nothing suggesting a change in summit plans.

The Kim-Trump summit has been confirmed for June 12 in Singapore, and US officials say there is no sign that this sudden increase in tensions is in any way putting that in jeopardy. The talks are expected to focus chiefly on denuclearization.

(antiwar.com)

It would be a great day if this deal can be preserved….any deal that minimizes or eliminates nuclear weapons is a good deal….In my book.