Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Policy’

Eurocrat Summarizes Greek Problem

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Sure, Jose Manuel Barroso, the former president of the European Commission, is a self-interested Eurocrat, but here he provides a nicely concise statement of the obvious concerning Greece’s problems

Greece’s problems can be laid at its own door and the country needs to provide a clear commitment to reform to reach an agreement with its creditors, Jose Manuel Barroso, the former president of the European Commission, told investors in Hong Kong.

“The Greek people went through extremely difficult moments, hardship. But these difficulties of Greece were not provoked by Europe,” Barroso said in an address at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong.

“It was provoked by the irresponsible behavior of the Greek government.”

“The situation of Greece is the result of unsustainable debt that was created by the Greek government, mismanagement of their public finances, huge problems with tax evasion and tax fraud [and] problems of the administration,” he said, noting that the country had also misled the European Union by filing false figures on its economy.

A nice statement of the problem. To which I can only add: And Greece continues to compound the problem, because it refuses to reduce government spending to match receipts. And it refuses to do because it’s welfare state is unsustainable.

All this talk of bailouts, relief, reparations, agreements and grexits is just filigree on the essential problem: Greece’s government spends more money than it takes in and refuses to change its ways.

Greece: Turning and Turning in a Narrowing Gyre

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

It appears we may finally be reaching the endgame of the endgame on Greece.

Greece is suffering a bank run and owes just over $2 billion in debt payments due Friday, but shows no signs of having the money or meeting the Troika’s conditions for obtaining more. Quite the opposite. Greece’s left-wing Syriza government is increasingly acting like an erratic heroin addict refusing to check into rehab and howling through the streets at night in search of an angry fix, heedless that there’s an arrest warrant out in his name.

“The International Monetary Fund, one of Greece’s main three creditors, was reported to have called Greece ‘the most unhelpful client’ the Fund has dealt with in their 70-year history.”

“During the teleconference, the Greek representative said his government wasn’t prepared to talk about the country’s finances with technical experts and instead wanted European Union leaders to discuss the issue at a summit in Brussels, one of the European officials said.”

I’m sure telling your bank that you’re “not prepared to discuss my finances” when asking for your fifth bridge loan would go over really well.

Also this: “There was a general feeling that the Greek side is completely out of touch with reality.”

You think? How about the fact that Greek parliament just passed a raft of anti-austerity spending measure, which is rather like a man with stage 4 lung cancer lighting up a couple of stogies in route to the operating room.

Some are wondering if Syriza wants to see Greece kicked out of the Euro.

EU institutions seem far more ready for what lies ahead. “The European Central Bank (ECB) is preparing for a possible Greek exit from the euro zone.” Conversely, EU insiders have also floated the idea of imposing capital controls to prevent Greece from leaving the euro.

And the one person whose opinion matters the most? “German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that Greece has no choice but to carry out economic reforms if it wants to receive more financial aid, dashing any hopes Athens might have had for a softening in Berlin’s stance.”

Carrying out real reforms (like stop spending more money than the government takes in) is what Greece in general, and Syriza in specific, has steadfastly refused to do. And the reason they refused is that the European cradle-to-grave welfare state has become more sacred to voters than the capitalist economics and fiscal discipline necessary to support it.

This is not a recipe for happiness.

There’s a chance that all of this is posturing on both sides, and that a kabuki compromise involving small reforms in exchange for still more loan extensions may yet kick the can a few more feet down the road. But there is every sign that EU institutions have finally tired of Greece’s show, and are willing to see the final curtain drop. And the Greeks are about to learn that the vengeance of the gods of the copybook headings cannot be delayed indefinitely…

Should Jews Leave Europe?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

I was going to put this long Atlantic piece on whether Jews should leave Europe or not into the Friday LinkSwarm, but I think it deserves it’s own post.

A few excerpts:

France’s 475,000 Jews represent less than 1 percent of the country’s population. Yet last year, according to the French Interior Ministry, 51 percent of all racist attacks targeted Jews. The statistics in other countries, including Great Britain, are similarly dismal. In 2014, Jews in Europe were murdered, raped, beaten, stalked, chased, harassed, spat on, and insulted for being Jewish. Sale Juif—“dirty Jew”—rang in the streets, as did “Death to the Jews,” and “Jews to the gas.”

In Greece, a recent survey found that 69 percent of adults hold anti-Semitic views, and the fascists of the country’s Golden Dawn party are open in their Jew-hatred.

Yes, I think we all remember the perfidy when Jews marched on Athens and held guns to the heads of elected officials until they agreed to take loans from Germany.

Anne Frank has become an obsession of modern anti-Semites. Her story—universally known, and deeply affecting—is a threat to the mission of the Holocaust-denial movement, and her youth and innocence challenge those who argue that Jews are innately perfidious. In Rome last summer, the slogan “Anne Frank is a liar” was spray-painted on walls in the former Jewish ghetto.

Read the whole thing.

Between this and that long Grahame Wood piece on the Islamic state, it appears as though readers of the Atlantic are finally being brought up to a level of awareness of the rise of Islamic radicalism that readers of The Weekly Standard achieved some 15 years ago. Progress.

Maureen Dowd Smacks Hillary

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Maureen Dowd, a deeply uneven writer, is never more interesting than when she’s taking down hubris-swollen Democrats, especially if their last names happen to be Clinton.

This is manifestly true of her most recent column, an open letter to Hillary.

It has come to our attention while observing your machinations during your attempted restoration that you may not fully understand our constitutional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our democracy: The importance of preserving historical records and the ill-advised gluttony of an American feminist icon wallowing in regressive Middle Eastern states’ payola.

Snip.

Instead of raising us up by behaving like exemplary, sterling people, you bring us down to your own level, a place of blurred lines and fungible ethics and sleazy associates. Your family’s foundation gobbles tens of millions from Saudi Arabia and other repressive regimes, whose unspoken message is: “We’re going to give you money to go improve the world. Now leave us alone to go persecute women.”

Dowd is, as usual, strongest on the foibles and hubris of the Overclass, and weakest on people living outside that bubble and anything to do with policy. But if there’s one thing Dowd knows (and owes her reputation and Pulitzer to), it’s the Clintons.

Read the whole thing.

(Hat tip: Instapundit.)

LinkSwarm for March 13, 2015

Friday, March 13th, 2015

It’s Friday the 13th, spring is in the air, and SXSW crowds are flocking into downtown Austin. Here’s a LinkSwarm:

  • Nothing says “Religion of Peace” quite like threatening to burn children alive. (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • Any deal with Iran is likely to push more Sunnis to support ISIS.
  • Over 100 release Guantanamo Bay detainees have returned to jihad.
  • Another legal challenge to ObamaCare, this one based on the right to privacy.
  • Paul Krugman declares war on pizza.
  • Obama’s illegal alien “dreamers” favored over the legal spouses of American citizens.
  • Is there anything quite so hilarious as a VA manager mocking veteran suicides?
  • The dysfunction in NBC’s news division went far beyond Brian Williams.
  • When Ted Kennedy offered the help the Soviets against Reagan.
  • “The Cinematic Railroading of Jameis Winston”. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • The Victmhood Identity Politics Left: La la la, I have my fingers in my ears and my Twitter on block, so I can’t hear you!
  • You may be cool, but you’ll never be Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark giving a 7-year old his bionic arm cool…
  • Greece Snarls At The Hand That Feeds It

    Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

    Angela Merkel tamped down a party revolt to extend the Greek bailout terms by four months. And her reward for extending that lifeline? Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reviving demands that Germany pay World War II reparations to Greece.

    Before Syriza came to power, the rest of the EU and the Troika seemed content to play along with the Greece farce (extending further loans in exchange for yet more empty promises of reform) at least a little while longer. However, Syriza’s virulently anti-EU and anti-Germany rhetoric seem to have finally exhausted their patience with the show. It seems even Europeans have limits to the abuse they’re willing to take from perpetual welfare recipients. It’s bad enough to underwrite a freeloader, but evidently having to put up with constant insults from them was too much.

    At this point, everyone knows Greece will neither reform nor pay back their debts to the Troika (or anyone else). That’s why Europe has finally started taking a real hard line with them, insisting on inspectors on the ground to see reforms are actually implemented.

    Either Tsipras has severely overplayed his hand (quite possible), or he is deliberately preparing to use Germany as the theoretical scapegoat for exiting the Euro.

    To say that Tsipras and Syriza has no plan B to escape the crisis is misleading, since their cunning “insult our creditors into giving us more money” doesn’t even count as a plan A.

    A bailout from Russia? It’s not like Putin is rolling in dough following a fall in oil prices and his continuing isolation over his invasion of Ukraine. Let Putin subsidize Greece all he wants. (And I doubt a Greek navel base would give him any advantage over what he has in Sevastopol.)

    Greece could have avoided all this many years ago if their government had just stopped spending more money than they took in. Given their addiction to a bloated welfare state, this is the one thing they have proven singularly unwilling to do.

    I doubt Syriza has thought through just how nasty a divorce from the Eurozone might turn out. Never mind asking they repay their debts, I’m thinking a complete halt to all bank transfers between the Eurozone and Greece, and international foreign exchanges refusing to list a newly floated drachma. People hate having their welfare benefits cut, but they really, really hate being unable to buy food…

    Greece has finally reached the stage of socialism where they’re run out of other people’s money, and the results are not going to be pretty.

    Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn from no other…

    Boko Haram Pledges Alliegence to the Islamic State

    Saturday, March 7th, 2015

    So Boko Haram (or Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad, if you prefer the full name) has now pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. It’s like the Voltron of Radical Islamic Lunatics.

    Significance? Maybe very little, unless every other Sunni Islamist group starts pledging fealty to the Islamic State as well, in which case future historians may pinpoint the declaration as the official start of World War III.

    In either case, it’s yet another foreign policy triumph for the Obama/Clinton/Kerry team. Expect them to issue a denouncement in the form of a strongly worded hashtag any time now..

    LinkSwarm for March 6, 2105

    Friday, March 6th, 2015

    Welcome to Friday! With so much being written about Hillary Clinton’s secret email server (well, secret to mere peasants like you and me, if not foreign governments…) and the King v. Burwell ObamaCare hearings, I didn’t include anything on them in this LinkSwarm. Maybe later…

  • Egyptian-born imam called for Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s death for defaming Islam. Does the Department of Justice: A.) Seek to deport him, B.) Investigate his ties to terrorism, or C.) Hire him to teach Islam in prison? (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • The Syrian rebel group Harakat al-Hazm, the last “moderate” group backed by the White House, disbands and joins the jihadists. Another towering Obama/Clinton/Kerry foreign policy triumph!
  • So the forces trying to retake Tikrit from the Islamic State are Iranian-led Shia militias?
  • Hillary Clinton’s foreign payola wasn’t just illegal, it was unconstitutional:

    The Washington Post reported last week that the tax-exempt foundation run by Bill and Hillary Clinton accepted money from seven foreign governments while Hillary served as U.S. Secretary of State (it’s unclear how much foreign money the organization accepted while Hillary was a U.S. Senator). Super shady, right? It’s worse than that, though, because Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution actually bans foreign payola for U.S. officials.

    The constitutional ban on foreign cash payments to U.S. officials is known as the Emoluments Clause and originated from Article VI of the Articles of Confederation. The purpose of the clause was to prevent foreign governments from buying influence in the U.S. by paying off U.S. government officials. Here’s the text of the clause:

    No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

  • Ted Cruz participated in a discussion with Elie Wiesel on the dangers of letting Iran obtain nuclear weapons. But what would Elie Wiesel know about attempts to exterminate Jews?
  • Obama’s greatest accomplishment is kicking people out of the workforce. Well, at least domestically…
  • The New York Observer has a hotline to the Kremlin
  • Egypt declares Hamas a terrorist organization.
  • Maryland Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski to retire. (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Chicago’s credit rating slashed. That’s what happens when you spend like drunken sailors. Or, worse yet, Californians.
  • Via Borepatch, an entire blog dedicated to improvised arms.
  • The Top 10 GOP Donors in Texas.
  • Science shows that fracking is not responsible for earthquakes in the DFW area.
  • Guy decides to leave civilization behind and start his own Utopia. It turns out exactly as any rational observers would expect.
  • Tweet:

  • The Llamas With Hats saga is now complete.

  • What Did Netanyahu’s Speech Accomplish?

    Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

    Over on Ace of Spades HQ, DrewM is pessimistic that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech accomplished anything. While his central premise is correct (the deal won’t prevent the Obama Administration from making a criminally stupid deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran that will actually make it easier for them to obtain nuclear weapons), the speech actually did accomplish several positive things:

  • The contrasting optics of the thunderous applause given Netanyahu in congress, and the petulant disdain Obama’s Democrats showed him, may very well help boost Likud’s chances in the Israel’s March 17 elections. (The fact that Obama has dispatched Jeremy Bird to help defeat Netanyahu helps reinforce the impression.)
  • It reminded ordinary Israelis that, no matter how much Obama may regard them with contempt, Israel still has strong support in America.
  • It helps further drive a wedge between the Obama Democrats and the small but influential community of wealthy American Jewish donors who are liberal on the vast majority of issues, but also staunchly pro-Israel. (Call them Ed Koch Democrats.) Between Obama’s feckless foreign policy and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s enthusiastic embrace of Al Sharpton, Democrats are doing more than Republicans ever could to make New York’s Jewish community reconsider their political loyalties.
  • As a high-profile speech the media couldn’t avoid covering, it reminded ordinary Americans (who are far more casual observers of politics than the people who read this blog) that Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran not as a mere nuisance, but as an existential threat.
  • Netanyahu’s relentless pandering to a Democratic caucus leadership that obviously despises him provides solid bridge-building to post-Obama Democratic leadership.
  • It reminded many Americans, yet again, how petty and petulant the Obama Democrats are, starting at the very top.
  • Complete Video and Text of Netanyahu’s Address to Congress

    Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

    Here’s the complete video of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking before the United States Congress (minus a handful of petulant Democrats) today:

    Skip to four minutes into the speech to miss the thunderous applause/walking in portion…

    And here’s the complete transcript of that speech.

    “The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.”

    I’m standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.

    Iran’s goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world’s oil supply.

    Snip.

    Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.

    In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.

    Snip.

    The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember — I’ll say it one more time — the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can’t let that happen.

    (APPLAUSE)

    But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.

    Snip.

    Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.

    The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.