Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Something to Know - 16 May

Having stirred up responses from readers who have never commented before on the previous posting from the ONION magazine, I am aware that many still read this "thing".   Although the intent and sentiment was from another source, I cannot feign innocence in passing it on.   Why should I?   Wicked satire, even darkly wicked, is intended to provoke and shock.   The piece from the Onion was harsher than what you would normally find in a political cartoon.   Myself, I don't think it showed any more disrespect to the current president, than what he has shown to me or the rest of the world.   Here is something more palatable?

An Indecent Disrespect

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

CreditThe Heads of State

President Trump's rejection of the Iran nuclear deal has unleashed a rare fury in Europe. Following his withdrawal from the Paris climate accords, his tariffs on imported steel, the move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, the rewriting of international trade agreements and all the other signs of disdain for the priorities of America's traditional allies, many Europeans are furiously proclaiming the trans-Atlantic relationship dead. However palpable the frustration, the question once again is whether Europeans are prepared to, or even able to, stand up to the bully across the sea.

Certainly this is what many Europeans would dearly love to do. Europe must not accept being the "vassals" of the United States, declared the French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, whose boss, President Emmanuel Macron, so recently kissed and hugged Mr. Trump in a futile effort to influence him. "We have to stop being wimps," said Nathalie Tocci, a senior adviser to the European Union.

The cover of the German weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel reflected a common sentiment in its depiction of Mr. Trump as a middle finger proclaiming, "Goodbye, Europe!" The fiery editorial inside called for "resistance against America."

"The West as we once knew it no longer exists," Der Spiegel's editors wrote. "Our relationship to the United States cannot currently be called a friendship and can hardly be referred to as a partnership. President Trump has adopted a tone that ignores 70 years of trust."

Then there are the hard facts. Europe's trade with the United States is incomparably larger than its trade with Iran, and even if Britain, France and Germany — co-signers of the Iran accord, along with China, the European Union, Russia and the United States — try to maintain the Iran deal and support their companies against so-called secondary sanctions by Washington, many European banks and industries would be wary of defying America's enormous economic clout, and especially the reach of its banking system.

Mr. Trump, who has long complained about Germany's trade surplus and Europe's low military spending, is not overly sympathetic to Europe's economic or security concerns, and even less so with the ├╝berhawkish John Bolton now as his national security adviser. In a phone call to British, French and German officials last Wednesday, Mr. Bolton said there would be no sanctions exemptions for European companies.

The anger in Europe, however, is not so much about the cost of renewed sanctions as about the total, humiliating disdain for the Europeans' arguments, and, by extension, for the trans-Atlantic alliance and all it has stood for since World War II. If Europeans allowed other powers, including allies, to make security decisions for them, "then we are no more sovereign and we cannot be more credible to public opinion," Mr. Macron said in a statement that echoed the sentiments of many of his European neighbors.

There have been bitter differences before, notably over the war in Iraq, but to Europeans, Mr. Trump's contempt is of a higher order, an arrogant mind-set that even on matters of paramount global importance, America will do what it wants without giving a damn for the interests of its closest allies.

That was made stunningly clear by a tweet from the new ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, shortly after he presented his credentials last Tuesday, declaring that German companies doing business in Iran "should wind down operations immediately." To the Germans, that was an unacceptable order to fall in line, and Mr. Grenell's subsequent assurances that there would be no trade war did little to temper the outrage.

Roiled by its own internal crises and divisions, Europe lacks the big stick that would compel Mr. Trump to listen to reason. The sweet talk attempted by Mr. Macron has proved equally futile. But that does not excuse Europe, and especially Germany, Britain and France, from standing firm against Washington's bullying and making every effort to keep the Iran deal — and all the other aspects of the international order Mr. Trump has tried to destroy — from collapse.


Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.
- Adlai Stevenson

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