Tuesday, August 23, 2016


The  current mood on both sides of the Atlantic is morose.  In the US,  Europe is seen as a failed experiment.  The Nobel Laureate Joseph E Stiglitz has written a highly critical essay about the euro as the mother of most ills.   Added to this, Brexit, terrorism, and debt crises complete a dark picture.  In the US the Republican nominee is a loose canon candidate, unfit to govern, unable to discipline himself, dangerous to come near the nuclear code.  His campaign is now in the hands of an apocalyptic team steered by Ultras Stephen K. Bannon (Breitbart News' Attila) and Roger Ailes (formerly Fox News molester-in-chief ) and the Neanderthal-thinking John Bolton (Dr. Strangelove).  Nothing is off limits in the attack on Secretary Clinton: personal health, the Clinton Foundation, Benghazi, emails. The Democratic nominee has problems coming forward with straight answers, which creates a negative frenzy in the ranks of the ultra-Praetorian squad around Trump.

Both Atlantic partners are undermining their credibility for reasons of populist discontent, which benefits both the irresponsible and the uninformed. America has become a tale of two cities on the east and west coast, with very little in between. The Evangelicals and the unemployed in this center should not feel snubbed by the "elites", nor should they be taken for granted and lied-to by the Right.  The Brexit has left Europe divided. Without the United Kingdom, the EU loses a more emancipated worldview. The German, French and Italian cluster does not compensate for London's unrivalled role and familiarity in and with the larger worldview. It will be interesting to see how the Netherlands will act in the future. This largest of the smaller members has a historic and cultural empathy with the Anglo world and starts to be impatient to consider switching solidarity for management.

Is the Atlantic world a broken one?  In the unlikely hypothesis of a Trump presidency, the Europeans risk becoming distant, afraid of this nuclear warlord without credentials.  On the other hand, the European project is on hold.  It is not a failure (yet). Quoting Voltaire on the Holy Roman Empire:  "It is neither holy, nor Roman nor an empire". The same might apply to the EU.  It needs to rebuild a capital of trust. It needs to show that it is not the monolithic superstate decried by some American media. After all, the member states still need to translate Brussels directives into national law! At the end of the day a Europe of nation-states might be more coherent than a bureaucratic behemoth. The EU could still reinvent itself by actively considering new policies which are too complex to be solely taken over by member states: global warming, terrorism, mass migration, digital revolution, a credible common defense and foreign policy.  Putin seems to like (?) Trump because he might get a freer hand in his near abroad. I doubt that Trump would ever be invited to make a speech in Berlin. Secretary Clinton is obviously the only knowledgeable, prepared candidate, who would be welcomed by Europeans as well as by the more trustworthy world leaders.

Both sides of the Atlantic will need nerves of steel and shouldn't get lost in self-fulfilling wrong prophecies.  A Trump victory is unlikely, but he will be in the daily news for his outlandish, gratuitous one-liners, which have a killing impact. Secretary Clinton needs to consult Descartes and ban her triangulation mode.  The EU cannot let the disparity between northern and southern Europe deepen. The weaker the southern member states become, the more congested and strategically endangered the north and central members become. Putin cannot be allowed to pick what he might be ready to grasp.

America and Europe have yet again to realize their relative interdependence. Churchill and Roosevelt were the best of allies, but they did not refrain from bad-mouthing each other and setting traps, as FDR did in Yalta.  Love is not a pronged honeymoon, it is a long uphill battle.

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