Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The End of Europe?

 

Some of you told me they other day you’d prefer me to write more about Europe and less about Trump. Since I’ve got thousands of words of notes on my computer about Europe, I’ll try to oblige, although of course it’s impossible to write about the former without noting the latter’s effect upon it.

Our podcast guest the other day was Jamie Kirchick, the author of The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age. As it happens, I’d just published a review of his book in National Review. The subject of his book is very similar to the one I’m writing, so unsurprisingly, I found it thought-provoking; in fact, I found it essay-provoking; I ended up writing a chapter-length response to it. Of course, National Review couldn’t run a 5,000-word review. They ran what they thought were the best 1,800 words. (Mike Potemra, the book section editor, did a great job of choosing them.)

But as a result, some of the points I made in the review had to stand as assertions, rather than full arguments. Since one of our members asked about it, I decided to publish the original review. You can read the whole thing here:

Journalist James Kirchick’s first book is about Europe, not America, but throughout the reader will sense that it rests upon unvoiced axioms about America and its role in the world. These are axioms upon which no argument can rest confidently in the age of Donald Trump. As a consequence, although the book contains no obvious anachronisms, it feels as if it was written in another era, for a reader who no longer exists.

Kirchick was based in Prague and Berlin for much of the past decade, sending dispatches back to America about Europe and the former Soviet Union. During most of those years I did the same thing from Istanbul and Paris. Every writer imagines his readers; Kirchick’s imaginary readers seem to be much like mine. Call them Postwar Americans. Americans who feel it important to take a lively interest in the rest of the world, ones who are familiar, roughly, with the history of the First World War, the Great Depression, and the Second World War, ones who instinctively feel the lessons of these catastrophes. Americans who elected such presidents as Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush; who understood that the relative global order in which Americans flourished for some seventy years did not emerge in sua sponte but was created, deliberately, by great postwar statesmen and maintained by American power, hard and soft.

The United States was at the center of a system designed to promote peaceful trade among reasonably decent and democratic people, and for the most part, it did. Those readers knew this system to be imperfect, but better than the alternatives. And they believed – wrongly, as it happened – that their country was sufficiently exceptional that such things as happened in Europe could not happen to them.

To the extent spectral qualities may be assigned to Donald Trump, there is a specter haunting this book …

I can only sympathize with Kirchick. I assume he wrote much of it well before Trump’s nomination, no less his election. I’m in the same boat. None of my theories about Europe, America, history, politics, or the world quite make sense in light of Trump; it seems I predicated them all on a massive initial error: the idea that America was too exceptional to fall victim to Europe’s pathologies. What does it mean that this is untrue?

I don’t know, and I’m no closer to knowing having read Kirchick’s book. But that’s not a fair criticism of it; it doesn’t purport to answer that question, and it doesn’t obviate his observations about the malignity of these trends in Europe. Still, the suppressed premise of the book is that these are exclusively European pathologies, and that suppressed premise is wrong. I sensed that a frantic, last-minute round of revisions and skillful editing brought the book largely up-to-date, but only superficially. The thing has a what-universe-are-you-living-in-Jamie quality.

Take the chapter about Germany. Much of it is devoted to the fallout of the Snowden revelations and the fit Germans pitched upon learning that Americans spy on them. Kirchick tells them to grow up: Everyone spies. What’s more, Germany needs to be spied upon, he argues, for Russia “continues to penetrate German politics, industry, media, intelligence, and armed forces.” Some German politicians, he notes, are particularly dodgy; Gerhard Schröder, for example, in 2004 declared Vladimir Putin “a flawless democrat,” and backed a loan guarantee for the Kremlin-backed gas pipeline Nord Stream. He subsequently took a post as chairman of the pipeline’s shareholders’ committee. That’s dodgy indeed. The “most concerning” aspect of the Nord Stream affair, Kirchick concludes, is that “Nord Stream puts the perceived national interest of Germany before solidarity with its democratic NATO and EU allies to the east by allowing Russia to restrict gas supplies to Eastern Europe while causing no pain to Western Europe.”

I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. Kirchick wrote that chapter for the reading audience I always thought I knew, people who didn’t need to be told why it’s a problem, big league, if Germany sells out its neighbors to the Russians, Rapallo-style. He continues in that vein: “When it comes to presenting a united front against Russian aggression and subversion, Germany’s Social Democrats are one of Europe’s weakest links.” He earnestly catalogues their flaws: “Signing a deal with an extortionist Russian energy concern and then taking a job on its board, lauding Vladimir Putin as a ‘flawless democrat,’ garlanding those who facilitate the exposure of America’s national security secrets, attacking NATO as a bunch of ‘warmongers’—such is the recent foreign policy record of German Social Democracy.” He assumes his readers won’t need to be told why this record is disturbing. But as we know now, they will. Germans, he continues, have taken to the streets to protest TTIP, their minds addled by hysteria, economic illiteracy, and recrudescent nationalism, so the NSA, he concludes, would be remiss not to spy on them. (We can expect to hear variants on this argument again and again in the coming days, thanks to the latest Putinleaks.)

I do understand: the book was due, the advance was paid, and you can’t call your publisher to say, “It seems we put Donald Trump in the Oval Office, and nothing I ever thought about anything makes any sense anymore. Let’s just throw this whole book out.” I admire Kirchick’s professionalism in plowing on as if the whole thing never happened. The show must go on.

And on it goes. He offers an entirely accurate account of the mendacity and bad faith of the charlatans who broke the United Kingdom, particularly Nigel Farage. “Farage’s sympathy for the Kremlin view of the world is long-standing,” he notes, “and comes naturally to a ‘Little Englander’ who seeks a diminished place for his country in global affairs.” (Again, the suppressed argument seems to be that Americans would never make the mistake of seeking a diminished place for their country in global affairs.) “It is incredible to behold Great Britain, which once occupied more than 20 percent of the earth’s landmass, moving ever closer to the brink of its own disintegration.” And if you thought that was incredible, reader, just you wait. …

I’d argue that Kirchick’s treatment of the EU is relatively weaker because he too has succumbed to exaggeration about the effects of the refugee crisis. Not everything you hear about the ill-effects of this influx is Russian propaganda, to be sure; it is a crisis. But a lot of what you hear is, in fact, for real, Russian propaganda. Look at the photo: This isn’t reds-under-the-beds paranoia, that is the Russian propaganda channel; and unsurprisingly, neither the photo nor the caption has anything to do with what the article purports. This is one reason I feel entitled to be as strident as I am about Trump even though I live in Europe: I can see for myself, right in front of my eyes, when Trump lies about Europe, or gets his information straight from Putinist outlets, and I can see the effect it has on our allies, on common decency, when he says these things. I too see the effects of Trump firsthand — just like you do, in other words — and they aren’t good. During the Cold War, the United States countered Soviet propaganda in Europe through such outlets as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – Kirchick’s former employer. Breitbart now plans to expand into France and Germany with new bureaus to cultivate and promote Europe’s populist-nationalist, pro-Putin parties. Steve Bannon is now on the National Security Council; his name is almost synonymous with Breitbart, a news organization that plans actively to work against American interests in Europe. It is almost too strange to believe that the United States now seeks to amplify Russian propaganda rather than counter it.

One imagines that Kirchick wrote his denunciation of Europe’s short-sighted and protectionist trade policies, too, in that universe where American trade policy was far-sighted. “EU trade policies,” he writes, “protecting heavily subsidized domestic agricultural interests at the expense of third-world farmers hoping to export their goods to the common market—similarly increase migratory waves to Europe by pricing out producers from underdeveloped economies, thereby exacerbating poverty and economic torpor.” Quite! How could these foolish Europeans indulge this self-defeating impulse to protectionism? How fortunate are we Americans that we were born and weaned on The Weath of Nations and see right through these species of folly. 

Except: We don’t.

I remember writing this kind of guide to the Old World, in the voice of an American who could observe Europe’s suicidal impulses with rueful detachment, grateful her country was not similarly afflicted, secure in the belief it never would be. “As was once said about the conquest of its erstwhile empire,” Kirchick writes of Europe, “Britain may bring about the collapse of Europe in a fit of absence of mind.” Though he does not say it, I immediately thought, “And America might bring about the collapse of the postwar order in a like moment of absent-mindedness.”

Anyway. Despite my reservations about some of his arguments, I do recommend the book, though I also recommend carefully checking the references, particularly in the chapter on France. I especially recommend his chapter on Hungary. Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, he writes, has presided over a campaign to obscure “both the specifically anti-Jewish nature of the Holocaust and the Hungarian state’s active collaboration in mass murder,” one that features “government-sponsored historical institutes, publicly funded documentaries, revisions to school curricula, bestowal of state honors to extreme right-wing figures, and erections of public monuments and museum exhibitions,” all functioning to obscure Jewish victimhood. Jews do tend to be the canary in the coalmine. Yesterday, Orban said that “ethnic homogeneity” was key in fostering economic success, and “too much mixing causes trouble.” You cannot both admire these sentiments and complain that the left calls you a racist. (Or you can, but it makes no sense.)

As the historian Lewis Namier observed, there is a morphology of politics; certain forms occur and re-occur. Historical revisionism appears to be intrinsic to the form that Kirchick terms Orbánism. But you could also call it Putinism or Erdoğanism. Contemporary political scientists describe it as illiberal democracy, partial democracy, low intensity democracy, empty democracy, and hybrid democracy. Namier called it plebiscitary Caesarism,

with its direct appeal to the masses: demagogical slogans ; disregard of legality in spite of a professed guardianship of law and order; contempt of political parties and the parliamentary system, of the educated classes and their values; blandishments and vague, contradictory promises for all and sundry; militarism; gigantic, blatant displays and shady corruption. Panem et circenses once more and at the end of the road, disaster.

The cultivation of nostalgia for an authoritarian past, Kirchick writes, and he is right to do so, tends to presage an authoritarian future: Orbán’s government “has rewritten the constitution, centralized power in the executive, weakened checks and balances, empowered an oligarchic class, dispensed state awards and ceded cultural policy to extreme right-wing figures, rendered parliament a rubber stamp, overhauled public media institutions into partisan outlets, harassed civil society, and reoriented Hungary’s traditionally Atlanticist and pro-European foreign policy toward Russia and other authoritarian regimes.”

It’s easier to do this in countries with a shorter (or no) tradition of liberal democracy, to be sure; it isn’t so easy to do in America. But it is the goal of such personalities to do it. I leave it to you to read the book and decide whether it’s too familiar for comfort. I think it is.

 

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  1. ctlaw Coolidge

    Claire,

    There is the old saying that, militarily, NATO was intended to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.

    The economic (and ultimately political) analogue to this is that the EU was intended to keep the Americans out and the British down. The EU diminished the UK by restricting British commerce with the Anglosphere.

    It is absurd to assert that people like Farage intend to diminish the UK.

    • #1
    • March 8, 2017, at 4:23 AM PST
    • 22 likes
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Anyway. Despite my reservations about some of his arguments,

    I have reservations too after listening to the review on BookMonger. I think we are on the verge of a reordering of things, as we did after WWI and WWII. I hope we don’t have a war to get there, but the post WWII order is spinning apart.

    Good post, and classic Claire!

    • #2
    • March 8, 2017, at 5:09 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thanks, Claire. Plenty of stuff to read.

    I dropped Gatestone Institute over that photograph. It was, as you noted, a complete non-sequitur. I have enough to read without parsing photographs.

    My problem with the EU is and has been their feckless treatment of their own defense. Now they’re out of money and out of time. Maybe Uncle Sugar leads the cavalry over the hill in the final reel. Maybe he doesn’t. That would be unwise for us to do. That unfortunately doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

    EDIT: Too many ‘their’s there.

    • #3
    • March 8, 2017, at 5:13 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. Crazy Horse Inactive

    Sorry, Claire. This is required.

    • #4
    • March 8, 2017, at 5:14 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  5. Zafar Member

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    It is absurd to assert that people like Farage intend to diminish the UK.

    Unintended consequences are still consequences.

    • #5
    • March 8, 2017, at 5:19 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  6. Guruforhire Member

    Europe isn’t ending, they are reclaiming their humanity and are no longer accepting the role of an undifferentiated labor mass with only negative human characteristics.

    They are peoples with an identity, pride, and an inalienable right to self-determination as a people.

    • #6
    • March 8, 2017, at 5:36 AM PST
    • 14 likes
  7. Columbo Inactive

    Zafar (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    It is absurd to assert that people like Farage intend to diminish the UK.

    Unintended consequences are still consequences.

    Nigel Farage Loves Britain …

    • #7
    • March 8, 2017, at 5:50 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Old Bathos Moderator

    People who opine about the Age of Trump as if there were some fixed ideology about to become manifest need to adjust.

    1. Trump’s ascendancy is because the existing order (the “Pre-Trump Era”?) failed to adapt, renew and respond to economic and social realities and operated largely for the benefit of its managerial class.
    2. Unlike Obama, Trump apparently has no fixed ideology so it is likely that policies will evolve based on more tangible standards of success unlike the Obama idée fixe composed of vaguely Anti-American sentiments coupled with a love of the administrative state. It is more likely that policies will now reflect American interests in practical ways.
    3. I agree that Kirchick seems weirdly anachronistic, a 1980s policy guru passing judgment on 21st century Europe as if the same circumstances prevailed. However his belief that European attitudes and policies are inapt and self-defeating seems accurate though perhaps not just for the reasons he offers.
    4. The arrogant, brain-dead ruling coalitions in the West made Farage and Trump possible. Farage is akin to an inflammation produced by antibodies in response to infective rot. Blame the infection not the body’s response. The lack of self-awareness on the part of the most vocal critics of Trump, Farage et al is of epic proportions.
    5. Putin, ISIS, the shocks of globalization and the ineffectual response so far to those challenges will force us all to ask who we are, what matters and what works. That’s good.
    • #8
    • March 8, 2017, at 5:52 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  9. ctlaw Coolidge

    Zafar (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    It is absurd to assert that people like Farage intend to diminish the UK.

    Unintended consequences are still consequences.

    But the whole point is it is not a consequence. The UK has a lot to gain from improved trade with the anglosphere and rest of the non-EU world.

    • #9
    • March 8, 2017, at 6:00 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  10. Zafar Member

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    It is absurd to assert that people like Farage intend to diminish the UK.

    Unintended consequences are still consequences.

    Nigel Farage Loves Britain …

    If his actions diminish Britain, so [CoC] what?

    • #10
    • March 8, 2017, at 6:02 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Zafar Member

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    It is absurd to assert that people like Farage intend to diminish the UK.

    Unintended consequences are still consequences.

    But the whole point is it is not a consequence. The UK has a lot to gain from improved trade with the anglosphere and rest of the non-EU world.

    Handsome is as handsome does.

    Will Britain do better out of the EU than inside?

    Time will tell – but the measures of success or failure are hard numbers.

    • #11
    • March 8, 2017, at 6:06 AM PST
    • 1 like
  12. John H. Member
    John H.Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Next time I’m in Portugal, I will say in Portuguese, “You people are doing it all wrong! Don’t you see? The Russians are coming!” I might say the same thing in Slovene, the next time I’m in Slovenia, although I’ll need to rehearse it first.

    Of course I will do no such thing. Portugal and Slovenia, which are in Europe, oh yes they are, and are also members of the VDC (the Vacationland Defense Council – some people call this “NATO”) do not care about Russia. Their reasons may not be sound but to an American they should be cautionary: if Europe “ends”, Europeans themselves will not be much troubled, and so we shouldn’t be either, not enough to get ourselves killed over it, or in it.

    Nor should we worry about becoming it, Europe I mean. I live in the U.S.A. and that is, still, far from Europe. And about the only things that come from Europe are fads and fashions – perishable, instantly replaceable things.

    • #12
    • March 8, 2017, at 6:26 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  13. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    To be clear, are y’all asserting that UKIP “diminishes” Britain or that Brexit does? I can’t make heads or tails of either claim.

    Britain isn’t withdrawing from the world. It’s proposing to interact with the world independently, rather than as an unrepresented vassal of the EU. You would have them reject Putin but welcome a Soviet-style management economy via unelected bureaucrats in Brussels?

    Farage, Le Pen, and others did not arise because Trump did. You seem to be mistaking a backlash to suicidal, delusional statism throughout the West as an isolated consequence of American politics. Trump, Farage… they’re all symptoms, not causes. They all represent blunt reassertions of principles of economics and immigration considered common sense until only a few decades ago. They might be poor expressions of those principles, but at least citizens haven’t abandoned themselves to international governance and demographic suicide.

    President Trump doesn’t have a foreign policy yet. Stop hyperventilating over unproven assumptions.

    • #13
    • March 8, 2017, at 6:38 AM PST
    • 29 likes
  14. Front Seat Cat Member

    Your second to last paragraph, if inserting Obama instead of Orban, and “ceded cultural policy to “extreme-left wing”, and you describe in that paragraph our last 8 years. The world was on its ear before Trump. Obama helped Putin as he marched his warships past England and onto the Middle East, rolled into Ukraine. Obama drew red lines and then stepped over them himself. The Muslim refugee crisis in Europe may be reported differently here – I don’t know, but it ain’t good…..Again happening on Obama’s (with Hillary and Kerry in charge of reporting back world affairs) watch. For 70 years, America has been the rudder for Europe, while Europe says mind your own business America. So what is the answer?

    You still don’t address the Trump concerns specifically. They’re there – we know, but say them. With the recent Vault 7 dump from WikiLeaks, do you see what we are facing as a country? This is far more serious than a Trump, and it may be Trump who exposes the darkness that we’ve fallen in to. Europe has not solved its economic, social, trade and security problems, but keeps pushing them aside, hoping for different results tomorrow. Am I wrong?

    Russia has always behaved like Russia. Unfortunately, it seems to be the fall guy for many problems that should be faced individually. Was the EU a failed idea? It had a purpose, but can’t find it’s own rudder.

    • #14
    • March 8, 2017, at 6:45 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  15. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    With the recent Vault 7 dump from WikiLeaks, do you see what we are facing as a country?

    Yes, we’re facing a determined Russian espionage campaign. I mean, do you have any doubt about Russia’s role in that?

    • #15
    • March 8, 2017, at 7:08 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  16. Unsk Member

    Claire,

    Trump’s influence in the world may hinge on one domestic policy:

    RINOCARE!

    The Republican Party will be at full blown all out war with itself if anything similar to the turd Ryan dropped yesterday is passed. The Trump Presidency will be greatly diminished and the next four years will be a disaster if that piece of big Nanny Police State crap becomes law.

    Trump gave a pretty good speech last week and many Republicans were coming around to his ideas. But if RINOCARE passes- forgetaboutit. Trump will again be treated like a clown and his foreign policy ideas of ‘muscular isolation” will go down the tubes.

    • #16
    • March 8, 2017, at 7:18 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  17. Crazy Horse Inactive

    • #17
    • March 8, 2017, at 7:36 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. genferei Member
    genfereiJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I read the long version of the review. I can see how it would be interpreted as critical. (I think there is a typo “Radio Free Liberty/Radio Europe”.)

    It is entirely consistent with the OP’s well-known worldview. Each migrantrefugee from the middle east is a precious soul to whom the West owes an inextinguishable debt, whether as a result of their humanity or the fact that their (civil) wars were not stopped by the intervention of the West’s leaders. The inhabitants of Europe are an indistinguishable mass who have nothing really to complain of, since hardly any of them are being raped and murdered, statistically speaking. While NATO and the EU aren’t actually dealing with current crises, any criticism of them marks one out as a Putin stooge. Putin, on the other hand, is an all-powerful manipulator of public opinion in the entire West. The proof is that you don’t agree with the OP.

    To be slightly less snarky, I wonder if there is a failure to distinguish between the original purposes of the institutions of the post-war liberal international order and the institutions themselves. EU – good at preventing war between France and Germany; until it got sidetracked into ever wider and deeper expansion. NATO – good at keeping the Russians down; until ever wider and shallower expansion. Prosperity through trade good – until the goal becomes everyone becoming a WTO member. Peace and prosperity good; institutions that have abandoned their remit bad.

    • #18
    • March 8, 2017, at 7:43 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  19. David March Thatcher

    Well I guess I am going to have to write a long post in answer to this tonight. And here I thought I was going to get another chapter on the Crimean War read…

    • #19
    • March 8, 2017, at 7:45 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  20. Columbo Inactive

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    It is absurd to assert that people like Farage intend to diminish the UK.

    Unintended consequences are still consequences.

    Nigel Farage Loves Britain …

    If his actions diminish Britain, so [CoC] what?

    They don’t. Why do you assert, without support, that they do?

    • #20
    • March 8, 2017, at 7:46 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  21. Columbo Inactive

    JLock (View Comment):
    Wow, Claire! Can you teach me this trick where you get Conservatives to whine like Liberal minions?

    Wine?! Where’s the wine?! I must have missed it!

    • #21
    • March 8, 2017, at 7:53 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  22. ctlaw Coolidge

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    It is absurd to assert that people like Farage intend to diminish the UK.

    Unintended consequences are still consequences.

    Nigel Farage Loves Britain …

    If his actions diminish Britain, so [CoC] what?

    They don’t. Why do you assert, without support, that they do?

    Because the Eurocrats will make it so.

    The UK will seek free trade with the rump EU and the Eurocrats will say “Non!” and impose trade barriers. Somehow, our intellectual and moral superiors will still denounce the UK and not the Eurocrats as anti-trade…

    • #22
    • March 8, 2017, at 7:55 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  23. Trinity Waters Inactive

    JLock (View Comment):
    Wow, Claire! Can you teach me this trick where you get Conservatives to whine like Liberal minions?

    Ah, you don’t need this help from a big gun like Claire to stir up “conservatives” and get them to whine, JLock. A few hazy assumptions, a few non-sequiturs from history, an illogical conclusion or two, along with a pinch of bat wing, and presto! No tricks needed.

    • #23
    • March 8, 2017, at 8:04 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  24. Columbo Inactive

    Trinity Waters (View Comment):

    JLock (View Comment):
    Wow, Claire! Can you teach me this trick where you get Conservatives to whine like Liberal minions?

    Ah, you don’t need this help from a big gun like Claire to stir up “conservatives” and get them to whine, JLock. A few hazy assumptions, a few non-sequiturs from history, an illogical conclusion or two, along with a pinch of bat wing, and presto! No tricks needed.

    Want to “piss off” a conservative? … tell them a lie.

    Want to “piss off” a liberal? … tell them the truth.

    • #24
    • March 8, 2017, at 8:09 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  25. Crazy Horse Inactive

    genferei (View Comment) east is a precious soul to whom the West owes an inextinguishable debt, whether as a result of their humanity or the fact that their (civil) wars were not stopped by the intervention of the West’s leaders. The inhabitants of Europe are an indistinguishable mass who have nothing really to complain of, since hardly any of them are being raped and murdered, statistically speaking. While NATO and the EU aren’t actually dealing with current crises, any criticism of them marks one out as a Putin stooge. Putin, on the other hand, is an all-powerful manipulator of public opinion in the entire West. The proof is that you don’t agree with the OP.

    To be slightly less snarky, I wonder if there is a failure to distinguish between the original purposes of the institutions of the post-war liberal international order and the institutions themselves. EU – good at preventing war between France and Germany; until it got sidetracked into ever wider and deeper expansion. NATO – good at keeping the Russians down; until ever wider and shallower expansion. Prosperity through trade good – until the goal becomes everyone becoming a WTO member. Peace and prosperity good; institutions that have abandoned their remit bad.

    There are also Ricochetti I immediately recognize as people I’d appoint to my benevolent reformation constitutional coup.

    @genferei would be my hatchet man. Czar of parsimony.

    • #25
    • March 8, 2017, at 8:18 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. Front Seat Cat Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed. (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    With the recent Vault 7 dump from WikiLeaks, do you see what we are facing as a country?

    Yes, we’re facing a determined Russian espionage campaign. I mean, do you have any doubt about Russia’s role in that?

    No doubt at all – it’s as bad as the Cold War, but they have always been like that. Our lack of a cohesive foreign policy the last 8 years, and the EU as well, as given fuel to the Russians. George W faced him head on, and tried to be friendly, even inviting him to Maine for a fishing trip – he called him Vlad! They respected each other and Bush pushed him back when he was making his moves into Eastern Europe back then. W’s style was friendly force. Obama’s was I’ll look the other way. Now here we are. I think Trumps’ style will mimic W’s.

    • #26
    • March 8, 2017, at 8:19 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  27. genferei Member
    genfereiJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Yesterday, Orban said that “ethnic homogeneity” was key in fostering economic success, and “too much mixing causes trouble.” You cannot both admire these sentiments and complain that the left calls you a racist.

    It wasn’t yesterday, and I’m not sure he quite said that. According to his website, he said:

    First of all, I find it very important that we should preserve our ethnic homogeneity. Nowadays one can say such a thing, though a few years ago one would have been executed for such a turn of phrase. But now one can say things like that, because life has confirmed that too much mixing causes trouble. We Hungarians are naturally heterogeneous, in the sense that we are a European nation. If we just started reading the names of those present here today, they would reveal all sorts of nationalities: from Bunjevci to Swabian. But in ethnic terms these fall within certain limits, and so there is still a certain ethnic homogeneity. We are from a single civilisation. Preserving this is a key issue. Naturally, as we know from Saint Stephen of Hungary, we welcome everyone – and that is as it should be. But we must not take the risk of altering the country’s fundamental ethnic character, because rather than enhancing our position, this would degrade Hungary, and would plunge us into chaos. …

    • #27
    • March 8, 2017, at 8:31 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  28. genferei Member
    genfereiJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Orban contd:

    The Government therefore has a definite direction. This not only relates to migration, but it is a general approach on how we should perceive Hungary’s population. We also see cultural homogeneity as important. This should, of course, be seen once again as diversity within certain limits: limits which do not permit the close coexistence of civilisations which are unable to mix in a cultural sense. This is the problem of parallel societies, and we don’t want to expose Hungary to that. I’m convinced that if we maintain ethnic homogeneity, and if we can keep cultural diversity within certain limits of cultural homogeneity, that will enhance the value of Hungary as a place. Hungary will be a place showing the outside world indicators which will be receding day by day in a great many more developed countries. As a result, we will be able to make the country ever more valuable.

    • #28
    • March 8, 2017, at 8:32 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  29. Doug Watt Moderator

    Russia and China’s intentions can be somewhat difficult to gauge. You can determine some of them by what they do not like and their public pronouncement’s of what they don’t like.

    Russia and China do not like the fact that we have decided to arm South Korea with a defensive missile system. They do not like the US encouraging Japan to step up their military capability. They don’t like this because it makes any military threats, or objectives more difficult to achieve.

    Russia would love to see NATO collapse, and they are not very happy with US troops rotating in and out of the Baltic States, Poland, and Romania. That reduces Russian control over these states and takes their military options off the table.

    There is one more canary in the coal mine. Sweden that bastion of neutrality has entered into a military assistance agreement with the US. What do the Swedes know that we do not, other than they think that Putin is a credible threat to them and has designs on military control of the Baltic Sea.

    • #29
    • March 8, 2017, at 8:38 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  30. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    There is one more canary in the coal mine. Sweden that bastion of neutrality has entered into a military assistance agreement with the US. What do the Swedes know that we do not, other than they think that Putin is a credible threat to them and has designs on military control of the Baltic Sea.

    They know they have neither the army nor the navy to hold Gotland. So does Vladimir. So do we. At least I hope we do.

    • #30
    • March 8, 2017, at 8:55 AM PST
    • 3 likes

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