Winds of War(s)

When you read a vaguely positive editorial/op-ed on Trump in the New York Times you know that he must be doing something right…

Earlier this year, the NYT had to grudgingly admit that Trump’s position on the China trade issue is correct, needed, and if anything late in implementing from the US’s point of view. Everyone knows that China got away very easy by playing the underdog two decades after it became a top industrial power. Someone had to say stop, and Trump was the only US president that lived up to the obligation to do so.

The other issue is Iran. Though the NYT and most of the liberal press still regret Trump’s abrogation of the “Iran cash for nuclear delay plan,” there is a clear indication that his policy of exerting maximum economic pressure whilst taking a prudent military stance, is a very clever strategy. Perhaps if his predecessors had imposed real biting sanctions like Trump is doing now, Iran would have caved in much earlier…perhaps. In any case, as the ayatollahs are now saying, Trump has boxed them in by a war with economic weapons. Starting a real war is now going to be a choice that Iran will have to make and take the responsibility to start. To paraphrase another NYT op-ed, the US has a great hand and is playing it well!

Europe’s new dawn

Last week’s European elections drew one of the largest turnouts in recent memory. Even in the UK the turnout was higher than at the last elections, in this case probably to mark the protest vote. In mainland Europe however, two distinct results are discernible. Firstly, there still seems to be a small plurality in favour of Europe. Mainstream parties have held their own enough to keep a social democrat majority in Brussels. However, the second takeaway is the continued march of the populists in many European countries such as for example, Italy, France, and of course the UK.

Old institutions are hard to break, and it is still far from certain that the European commission, the only European organ that really counts, will change enough to reflect the new trends in the electorate. Key issues to disentangle include: the fiscal compact that the med nations are looking for and that Germany abhors; a common immigration policy with teeth and resources, the rolling back of some of the more ambitious European dreams of full integration, that fly in the face of the significant rise of local nationalisms.