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World Association of International Studies

PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post EU Deal with UK
Created by John Eipper on 02/21/16 9:00 AM

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EU Deal with UK (Bienvenido Macario, USA, 02/21/16 9:00 am)

I am in favor of the UK staying in a reformed European Union. My argument is basically the same as to why Scotland should stay in the United Kingdom: Geography is a very convincing argument when it comes to trade, commerce and real estate (location. location. location). The EU was supposed to be the upgraded version of the Common Market, not a European superstate.

In his campaign speech in Boston on Oct. 30, 1940, FDR promised: "Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." Later, on Dec. 17, 1940 to justify the Lend-Lease deal with the UK, FDR cited the example if your neighbor's house catches fire and you own a hose, you don't or shouldn't haggle about the price of hose. It could be said, FDR would rather help the UK than send Americans to fight in Europe, where WWII had already started and the UK stood alone.

For the UK to remain in a reformed EU is not only about the Common Market and geography. It is about being a good neighbor. Wouldn't it be more preferable that other EU member states are prosperous, where citizens are not ejected from their homeland by poverty, a poor economy or the absence of law and order? Likewise, in case of an emergency, one tends to seek the help of one's nearest, ablest neighbor.

What seems to be happening in the EU today is like having a lion, eagle and a rooster thrown in a meeting with herds of meat-eating dinosaurs and deciding what's for dinner (bailout). The Scandinavian countries have already proven that socialism works best in a constitutional monarchy. While capitalism tends to glorify greed, socialism tends to breed laziness. I believe that monarchy, being above politics, provides the checks and balances between the two socioeconomic and political ideologies.

Here is a summary of the main points of Prime Minister David Cameron's speech after the Brussels meeting with the European Council:

--The UK will have no more political union with a EU superstate. The UK is out of the Euro but in with the single-market free trade with Europe. A single market means less red tape.

--No more bailouts of Eurozone using UK taxpayer money.

--EU migrants' access to UK Welfare system shall have new restrictions. No more something for nothing. No more open borders with Europe. Migration shall be very tough on criminals and would-be criminals going to or already in the UK.

--Competitiveness shall be the reformed EU's main objective, something even German Chancellor Angela Merkel has observed when Hollande's party suffered a big loss in the May 2014 general elections.

JE comments: The UK was always "out" of the Euro. The big changes from last week's Brussels meeting are the assurance that the UK won't have to bankroll any more bailouts (say, of Greece), and increased restrictions on travel to the UK and access to welfare benefits. What about the EU citizens already in Britain?

What is the reaction in Germany? The Germans probably feel that Britain is getting all the benefits of EU membership and none of the (financial) responsibilities. I hope Pat Mears will comment.

Bienvenido Macario offers a novel hypothesis, that socialism works best in a constitutional monarchy. Does correlation prove causality? In any case, this rule might apply to Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, but what about Finland?


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  • EU Deal with UK (Angel Vinas, Belgium 02/22/16 1:58 PM)
    John Eipper has asked me for my views on the result of EU-UK negotiations. I´ll try to summarize some of the immediate reactions outside the UK with two exceptions only. A cursory analysis will follow. Don´t expect startling revelations. I'm not a member of the group who is in the know. Neither are other WAISers.

    A cacophony of voices


    The EU and the UK reached an agreement last Friday night on a series of exceptions for the latter on issues of financial regulation, economic governance and migration. The Continental media have widely reported on the outcome. Many of them feature comments and editorials. More will come, and the four-month campaign before the referendum guarantees such a coverage that British voters and European onlookers are likely to become exhausted before the decision is made for the UK to remain or not to remain in the EU. A Hamletian dilemma.


    Under the agreement, the UK will be able to restrict access to social benefits for EU migrant workers for up to 7 years; child care benefits for EU workers will be reduced; Britain will be exempt from the requirement of seeking ever-closer union; and British companies cannot be discriminated against for being outside the eurozone. It is unnecessary at this stage to go into the nitty-gritty. Undoubtedly news people and commentators will do so.


    In an interview with BBC1 (Andrew Marr show) yesterday (Sunday), Prime Minister Cameron stressed that he had protected the UK from ever closer union, and that the country will now enjoy a "special status" within the bloc. His EU reform deal represents an effort to reclaim the country's sovereignty, Mr Cameron asserted. The agreement emphasises British singularity and "exceptionalism" (which has functioned, one should add, on certain segments for a lot of time).


    It was not emphasized that the agreement does not radically change the current situation: the UK already has a special status within the EU. However, it manages to define this status more clearly.


    The general agreement signed with Great Britain allows us to enact something that already existed in reality, French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault admitted in an interview with France 3, a "differentiated Europe" with two conceptions of the integration process. However, the EU as such now clearly admits that Britain does not want to be in the eurozone or the Schengen area and does not want more integration. Therefore, the agreement will allow those who have a different objective in mind to advance, he noted.


    Others commentators have written that when individual EU member states start introducing conditions that go against the basic idea of EU integration, the Union is shaken to its foundations. What European officials claimed to be a fair agreement for both parties--with President Juncker being quoted, for instance, as deeming the agreement to be fair for all sides--could create the foundation for a precedent.


    The French business newspaper, Les Echos, said that "Europeans give in to London at the risk of triggering a domino effect," and "an unravelling of common rules." Chancellor Angela Merkel has already indicated that Germany would probably limit social benefits to European migrants as well; Belgium and Denmark are reportedly considering using this new mechanism; conversely, Ireland has warned that it would not apply to its nationals living in the UK. In the long run, a widely heard commentary in Brussels is there is "a risk that other countries demand a referendum similar to the British one in order to obtain their own concessions."


    The situation would be "less of a concern" if the euro area, at the core of the European construction, had a "mobilising project" that could build momentum; but that is not the case, Les Echos concludes. Considering that the deal with the UK will be the end of the European social union, Berliner Zeitung anticipates an even stronger focus on national interests within the EU and predicts that more member states will start to demand special treatment. In the Spanish business paper Cinco Días, it is said the EU-UK deal is "a small step forward for David Cameron but a big step backwards for the European Union." "Nobody knows whether last Friday's agreement clarifies the UK-EU relationship in a sustainable manner or whether it marks the end of a fair cooperation, founded on mutual rights and obligations," I won´t mention El País, to which WAISers can easily refer. Alde MEP Sylvie Goulard writes in an opinion piece in Les Echos entitled "The Brexit agreement, a denial of democracy." In the Financial Times Wolfgang Münchau wrote that "One of the few certain statements one can make about Friday's agreement between European leaders and David Cameron is that it will have little impact on the June 23 referendum on British membership of the EU. It is far too technical to sway many voters," This is also the view of the BBC political correspondent.



    Obviously it will be British voters and not Juncker or Tusk who will ultimately decide on Britain's exit from the EU. This is also a widely shared reaction. The agreement does not necessarily mean that the UK will remain in the EU; it only shows that Prime Minister Cameron committed himself to the EU. Mr Cameron's victories in the reform negotiations with the EU are in part only of a "symbolic nature," asserts the German business newspaper Handelsblatt, stressing that the Prime Minister will have to emphasize more the benefits of the EU in order to convince the Eurosceptics. In an interview with France 5 yesterday, Commissioner Pierre Moscovici stated that the European Commission does not have a plan B in case the British people vote in favour of an exit, underlining that the EC will not be involved in the referendum campaign. More citations could be quoted. They are all variations of the themes mentioned before.



    A cursory analysis



    My personal view is of no importance. I won't vote in the referendum. I will try to write simply as an analyst.



    1. Mr Cameron has achieved a potentially great victory. It wasn´t so clear several months ago. It´s paradoxical that his main opponents were the same former Communist countries the UK strove so much to extend EU membership to.



    2. In the last few months British diplomacy has been at its tactical best. Obviously there was no other option, but the quality of its performance has been remarkable. It was helped by the unanimous idea that a Brexit is bad for the EU (and for the UK) and that the EU must overcome this hurdle sooner rather than later so as to address other permanent and, unfortunately, more intractable problems.



    3. The agreement is the fruit of a compromise. It has achieved what could be achievable. It must be emphasized that it was adopted by unanimity.



    4. Mr Cameron must be helped to win the referendum. This involves official silence during his campaign so as not to antagonize British voters. One can expect some exaggeration but partisans for the exit will also exaggerate. Probably more so.



    5. On 23 June the British will speak. If the vote is no, the nasty business will then start. This divorce would be a first in EU history. How many divorces among countries end amicably? Do not refer please to the Czechoslovak or the Norwegian cases. Were I to be asked I would reply that chances are not very good. The UK would inflict serious damage to the EU. It is the EU duty to its citizens to minimize it. Once the Brexit decided, the main cards would be in EU hands. How it would handle them is anybody´s guess.



    6. However, as Scottish First Minister Nicola Surgeon said yesterday, a campaign based on fear would be a mistake. This applies both both for the UK and the EU.



    I understand that many WAISers may have more questions. I am willing to answer them, but for the time being I am busy trying to discover some of Franco´s dirty secrets. There are several which merit the historian´s attention and I´m going on Thursday to hospital. Sorry.



    JE comments:  Ángel:  all WAISdom will have you in their thoughts later this week.  Stay well!  And thank you for this excellent analysis of the UK-EU accord.  As I see it, there is a common theme:  the wealthier nations are tired of bankrolling the poorer ones. 


    But what happens when Germany decides to insist on a special deal?


    For a contrasting view on a potential Brexit, stay tuned for Nigel Jones (next).


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    • EU Deal with UK: Questions and Suspicions (John Heelan, UK 02/23/16 4:14 AM)
      I echo JE's thanks to Angel Viñas for his informed analysis (22 February), and wish him well for his medical treatment.

      Perhaps Ángel could help me understand the stumbling blocks I have referred to previously. Prime Minister Cameron's claims for "reform" can reach fruition only with the agreement of the EU, in most cases via the European Parliament or longer term by a redrafting of EU treaties (Paris, Rome, Schengen, Maastricht, Amsterdam and Lisbon), followed by their subsequent ratification by all Member States. This path is likely to be lengthy and tortuous to negotiate. I am suspicious of the EU Commission, the non-UK Member States and even of Cameron himself, because he won't be in power to answer in five years' time and may leave a poison chalice for his successor. My preference would be to stay in a "reformed" EU for longer-term defence purposes, but I am not confident that those reforms will be implemented within the next decade or so.


      Am I being overly suspicious of potential EU bureaucratic judo moves?


      JE comments:  Wouldn't the Euroskeptics argue that there already exists a parallel structure to the EU for defense purposes--NATO?


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      • Technicalities of EU-UK Deal; on a Possible Brexit (Angel Vinas, Belgium 02/23/16 3:02 PM)
        I thank John Heelan for his questions of 23 February. Please forgive me if I answer them rather quickly. I´m rounding up a lot of loose ends before going to hospital.

        The EU-UK agreement involves the need to redraft some regulations and, in fine, the Treaty. This is something that the EU would have to do anyway, Brexit or no Brexit. In the former case the amount of legal work to achieve would be staggering, particularly in the UK but the Treaty itself would have to be minimally changed. I cannot imagine that this would not happen. Whatever its deficiencies, the EU is in the end what is generally referred to as a "Communauté de Droit." The only Treaty affected is, however, the current Lisbon Treaty and not the previous ones.


        In case of non-Brexit, the EU would have to change the Treaty in other respects, but this can be done via a protocol, with the same legal force as the Treaty itself. There are precedents: the opt-out negotiated with DK and the UK in previous treaties.


        John possibly refers to changes in regulations. For this to happen the community method would have to be followed. Proposal by the Commission, discussion in the Council of Ministers, transmission to the EP, vote in the EP, return to the Council of Ministers, etc. I cannot imagine that in a case such as this where a political agreement has been reached at the level of the European Council, which would have been endorsed by the Commission and the Council of Ministers, the EP would dare to challenge it. If so, the constitutional crisis within the EU would be immense. It is too early to anticipate what the response from the remaining Institutions would be (the European Council is also an Institution).


        Let me add for good measure that the path would be infinitely more tortuous in the case of Brexit, and that the UK would have to surmount, to the limited extent possible, the posture adopted by the rest of the EU, according to the community and the intergovernmental methods. I wouldn´t recommend it to my worst enemy.


        This is why, once we have arrived at this point, Mr Cameron´s posture is, in my view, the most sensible one. However, I´m not surprised in the least by some strident tones and statements by the proponents of Brexit. They are, in my view again, leading the UK citizens down the garden path. This said, as can be imagined, with all due respect.


        JE comments: Once again, I send the very best wishes to Ángel Viñas as he enters the hospital.


        Human nature being what it is (well, let's call it institutional nature), couldn't we expect some vengeful responses from the EU if the UK leaves the club?  This is the "garden path" Ángel refers to, above.

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        • Get Well, Angel Viñas (Robert Whealey, USA 02/28/16 11:13 AM)
          I have known Ángel Viñas for many years, since the 1960s and 1970s when I went to Spain. I do not know how serious his hospital visit is going to be, but I hope JE will send a Get Well card to him for me.

          Lois and I have sent Ángel annual Christmas cards for many years. This December Lois and I went to New York City for my kidney check-up. So far I am still walking and talking about US politics. But I only vaguely know what has been happening in Spain since the three bubbles of 2004-2008.


          Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen seems to be on a three-month leash.


          JE comments: Does the Fed Chair have any sort of leash? She or he is possibly the most powerful person in the country...world?


          I'll second Robert Whealey's best wishes to Ángel Viñas. Get well and drop us a line soon, Ángel!

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          • Is Janet Yellen the Most Powerful Person in the Country? From Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 02/29/16 3:52 PM)
            Ric Mauricio writes:

            John, I'd like to put forth the premise that Janet Yellen is not the most powerful person in the country or the world, as you speculated on February 28th.


            She is not on a leash per se, as Robert Whealey wrote, but rather, if you look closely, she, like her predecessors, has strings attached to her. These strings are orchestrated (especially the ones attached to her mouth) by the shareholders of the Federal Reserve. Take a look at what Greenspan said during his reign and what he says now that he no longer has strings attached (although he is very careful not to bite the hand that fed him during his reign).


            What, is not the Chairman of the Federal Reserve a servant of the citizens of the United States? Is not the Federal Reserve an extension of the US government? Ah, not to be. The Federal Reserve is a privately held organization answerable to no one, not even the US government. And who are the shareholders of the Federal Reserve? Brokerage firms like Goldman Sachs and US banks, many of whom are owned by foreign interests, and yes, the same foreign interests that control the Bank of England and the European Central Bank.


            Other Central Banks, like the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, are also controlled by private shareholders. The ECB has the very powerful Deutsche Bank leading the way. By the way, look at the major shareholder of Deutsche Bank ... it is a private equity firm ... and not a European private equity firm ... out of the Cayman Islands .... and drum roll ... who owns and controls that private equity firm? As a forensic accountant, I am trained to follow the money. OK, ok, I will not keep you in suspense any longer. The money and power for that private equity firm flows from the Middle East.


            In The Sixth Sense, the little boy sees dead people. I see puppets, Janet and the Europeans and Asians. All puppets. The tentacles of Central Banking are spread wide and deep.


            On a different note, I wish all the best to Ángel Viñas.


            JE comments:  Ric Mauricio follows the money trail better than anyone I know!  His posts have given me a lot of insight on who really runs the world.  I've also picked up an investment tip or two.


            You're a good man, Ric.  Still waiting for that photo of your 'Stang, though.


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            • Who Owns the Fed? (Bienvenido Macario, USA 03/01/16 9:25 AM)
              I do not agree with Ric Mauricio (29 February) that the present Federal Reserve Bank is a privately held organization. Since 1913 when Carter Glass and Robert Owen introduced the Federal Reserve Act, a Federal Reserve System has been operating under supervision from Washington DC.

              The first US Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton was also the first to suggest the creation of a privately owned national bank to act as central bank, and in 1791 George Washington created and signed the charter of the First National Bank of the US. Twenty years later, the bank's charter expired, and the US was without a central bank for four years until the Second National Bank of the US was created under Pres. James Madison in 1816.


              Pres. Andrew Jackson withdrew the government's fund when the charter of the privately owned Second National Bank of the US expired in 1833. The US did not have a central bank privately held or government owned until Rep. Glass and Sen. Owen introduced the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Later Sen. Carter Glass would introduce the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932.


              Here's my proof that the Federal Reserve Bank is a government entity:


              Just follow the link: http://www.federalreserve.gov/


              As you can see, the Fed's web link extension is ".gov". It would be a serious crime to usurp or claim to be a government authority when you are not. Besides, why does the US Senate need to confirm Janet Yellen as the Federal Reserve Chairwoman if the Federal Reserve Bank is not a government institution?


              JE comments:  So who "owns" the Fed?  I still cannot say with authority.  This piece from Business Insider describes it as a public-private hybrid.  Rather like the US Postal Service?


              http://www.businessinsider.com/who-actually-owns-the-federal-reserve-2013-10



              One factoid from the above:  Almost all of the Fed's profits are channeled into the US Treasury.  I didn't know the Fed even made money.

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              • Central Banking and International Finance (David A. Westbrook, USA 03/01/16 2:35 PM)
                If you're really interested in how central banking in the US and the international financial system works, I'd try the authoritative Rosa Lastra, International Financial and Monetary Law (Oxford:  2d Edition, 2015). I have a review forthcoming in International Finance (the Council on Foreign Relations journal), and will try to remember to post on WAIS.

                In general, the public/private distinction so common in public discourse doesn't work well when discussing the creation of money or macroeconomics generally. (I don't think it works that well, period, but let's bracket that.) The creation of money--the extension of credit--presumes both "private" action and social authority, authority which is variously articulated through the state, the public entity nonpareil. Nonpareil at least if we think in terms of the nation-state, a modality of thought which I've made a career arguing--most recently at the Golden Jubilee--can only be done, post WWII/Bretton Woods (back to banking!)/Globalization under certain highly self-conscious restraints. As centering politics on the idea of the nation is the hallmark of modern (as opposed to medieval or classical) political philosophy, this is one of the reasons we are no longer truly modern. But I digress.


                WAISers might also be interested in Doug Holmes, Economy of Words (Chicago). A brilliant economist looks at communication and central banking. More accessible than Lastra, if more focused on contemporary central banking.


                Finally, once we understand that banking cannot be understood as either essentially "public" or "private," i.e., recourse must be had to the social--and here Marx was entirely correct--much of the discussion around the financial crisis dissolves. I tried to wrestle with what might take its place in Out of Crisis: Rethinking Our Financial Markets.


                JE comments:  Ric Mauricio's "Who Owns the Fed" post (and Bienvenido Macario's reply) has inspired a number of comments.  Next up:  Randy Black.


                I still had understood the Fed as working within the (US) nation-state, and motivated by what it sees as the best interests of the US economy--namely, low inflation and low unemployment.  Am I mired in a modern worldview?


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              • Who Owns the Fed? (Randy Black, USA 03/01/16 3:04 PM)
                Regarding the disagreement as to "ownership or independent status" of The Federal Reserve Bank (see Bienvenido Macario and Ric Mauricio (2/29-3/1), here are the facts from The Fed, the same source Bienvenido supplied:

                Who owns the Federal Reserve?


                The Federal Reserve System fulfills its public mission as an independent entity within government. It is not "owned" by anyone and is not a private, profit-making institution.


                As the nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve derives its authority from the Congress of the United States. It is considered an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by the Congress, and the terms of the members of the Board of Governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms.


                However, the Federal Reserve is subject to oversight by the Congress, which often reviews the Federal Reserve's activities and can alter its responsibilities by statute. Therefore, the Federal Reserve can be more accurately described as "independent within the government" rather than "independent of government."


                Thus, I hazard a guess that both WAISers are to some degree, correct.


                JE comments: Nobody owns the Fed? Could we therefore call it the fourth branch of government?


                The plot thickens. Next up: Ric Mauricio with a followup.


                Randy:  Have you returned from Spain?  Please send a report!


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              • Who Owns the Fed? From Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 03/01/16 3:52 PM)
                Ric Mauricio responds to Bienvenido Macario (1 March):

                With regards to the Federal Reserve, I am referring to ownership and control, none of which can be attributed to the US Government. Bienvenido, I checked the website and it doesn't even go into the issue of ownership. Sure, with its dot-gov website and its nominations and approvals of the Board of Governors and the Fed Chairman, it alludes that the Federal Reserve is a government entity. The nominations and approvals of the Fed Chair, the Treasury Secretary, and the Board of Governors are "suggested" by the "owners" of the Federal Reserve. Congress has never audited the Federal Reserve.


                The Federal Reserve is a weird entity when it comes to "ownership." It exists due to an act of Congress. But it is also considered an independent entity because it is not part of the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches of government. The Fed exists because Congress created it, but it doesn't enact policy measures with any Congressional or Presidential approval. Politically, this makes it a very independent entity. One thing that muddies this discussion on "ownership" is the issuance of stock by the regional Fed banks to the member banks and brokerage firms. This stock pays a fixed 6% dividend and gives the banks a claim on the Fed's annual profits. Of the Fed's earnings, about 3% was paid out in dividends to the banks. The remaining 97% is remitted back to the US Treasury. While the US Treasury doesn't technically own shares in the Federal Reserve, the Fed is required to remit its profits at the end of the year back to the Federal Government.


                "Owners" of the Federal Reserve include:


                Rothschild Bank of London

                Warburg Bank of Hamburg

                Rothschild Bank of Berlin

                Lehman Brothers of New York

                Lazard Brothers of Paris

                Kuhn Loeb Bank of New York

                Moses Seif Banks of Italy

                Goldman, Sachs of New York

                Warburg Bank of Amsterdam

                Chase Manhattan Bank of New York


                (En Route to Global Occupation by Gary H. Kah, p. 13).


                The banks listed below have significant control over the New York Federal Reserve District, which controls the other 11 Federal Reserve Districts. (The Secrets of the Federal Reserve by Mullins).


                First National Bank of New York

                James Stillman National City Bank, New York

                National Bank of Commerce, New York

                Hanover National Bank, New York

                Chase National Bank, New York

                (The Secrets of the Federal Reserve has details, pp. 92, 93, 96, 179).


                How did it happen? After previous attempts to push the Federal Reserve Act through Congress, a group of bankers funded and staffed Woodrow Wilson's campaign for President. He had committed to sign this act. In 1913, a Senator, Nelson Aldrich, maternal grandfather to the Rockefellers, pushed the Federal Reserve Act through Congress just before Christmas when much of Congress was on vacation. When elected, Wilson passed the law that created the Federal Reserve. Later, Wilson remorsefully replied (referring to the Federal Reserve), "I have unwittingly ruined my country."


                JE comments:  If the Fed is required to remit its profits to the US Treasury, it seems to me that there would be an incentive to earn a lot less (profit).

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                • A Central Bank Question: from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 03/02/16 4:07 AM)

                  Gary Moore responds to Ric Mauricio:



                  If Woodrow Wilson hadn't "ruined [his] country" by signing the Federal Reserve Act during Christmas vacation in 1913, how does Ric think the US
                  culture and economy might be different today?


                  JE comments:  I don't believe Ric Mauricio was endorsing Wilson's opinion.  Given the unprecedented levels of executive power Wilson obtained during WWI, I doubt Wilson endorsed what he said, either.


                  Fear and loathing of a US Central Bank is most commonly associated with Andrew Jackson, who decried it as an unelected, tyrannical tool of the wealthy.  Jackson was also the last (and only) US president to pay off the national debt.  Granted, this was achieved by selling vast quantities of land the federal government owned in the West.  And Jackson's "tight money" policies also caused the Depression of 1837.


                  Ric:  Care to take a shot at Gary's question?


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                  • A No-Fed Hypothetical; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 03/02/16 4:05 PM)
                    Ric Mauricio responds to Gary Moore (2 March):

                    Seems that I have opened a Pandora's box in responding that Janet Yellen is a mere puppet (OK, OK, I will be more diplomatic ... a mouthpiece).


                    Woodrow Wilson's opinion of "ruining the country" is, of course, based on perspective. I believe Wilson was alluding to the ceding of much power over the economics of our country to a group that wields great influence over our nation's political system. Randy Black (1 March) stated that the Fed is "not a private, profit-making institution," which does not explain why the banks get 4% of the "profits" of the Central Bank.


                    By the way, John, you asked the question that if the bankers only got 4% of the profits, what would be the incentive to increase profits? In accounting, there are many ways to skin a cat. Profits do not have to show up as profits. I know, I've seen much financial shenanigans in my work. Randy also states that "the Federal Reserve is subject to oversight by the Congress, which often reviews the Federal Reserve's activities and can alter its responsibilities by statute." Interesting, because the Federal Reserve has never been audited by Congress. John may have hit the nail on the head when he suggested that the Federal Reserve may be a 4th branch of the U.S. Government. Sarbanes-Oxley rules do not apply to the Federal Reserve.


                    But in response to Gary's question, I learned early in my financial career that there are financial winners and losers throughout history, and I certainly did not want to be one of the losers. So I studied financial history, yes, even ancient financial history. Estimates are that since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, that the US Dollar has depreciated 96% to 98%, based on inflation. OK, like empires and dynasties before it, the fiat currency depreciates. Some may say that this is not good. And you would be correct in that opinion if you were a holder of dollars. Aha, light bulb time! Do not hold dollars.


                    But now let's look at it from another perspective. The US Treasury, with blessings from the Federal Reserve (and the bankers who control it; yes Goldman Sachs is a very large market maker in Treasuries), issues bonds and dollars. So the investor now trades his depreciating dollars for treasury bonds. Good? Oh, wait, if I hold that treasury to maturity, I will get paid in a dollar that has depreciated during my holding period. From the investor's point of view, not good. From the Federal Reserve/banker/broker/US Treasury point of view ... absolutely brilliant!  Now the government takes this rapidly migrating movement of money to power the economy and grow it. Brilliant! Lend money to the companies who buy inventory and turn it over as fast as they can. Lend money to homeowners, thus creating a market for homebuilders and materials providers.


                    My perspective is that I do not say who is right or wrong; I just recognize what is. There are pros and cons to everything, yes, even the Federal Reserve. Recognize that you are holding a fiat currency that can be depreciating or a bond that is depreciating because of the fiat currency that is behind it. Therefore I transfer that depreciating asset to the other side of the coin ... appreciating assets (businesses, companies [stocks], real estate, and sometimes, precious metals or commodities).


                    Many, including Wilson, will often express an opinion that proves to be exaggeration of the issue at hand ... for example, after Super Tuesday, the search engines spiked for searches on moving to Canada after Trump's and Clinton's success on Super Tuesday. OMG, the sky is falling!


                    JE comments:  This may be WAISdom's first-ever use of OMG!  Mon Dieu!


                    Who will be first with a post-mortem analysis of Super Tuesday?  My first thought:  Donald Trump may be unstoppable for the Republican nomination.  And Hillary finally seems to have shaken off the Bernie-induced doldrums.  At this juncture, I'll call the November election for...Hillary.


                    Other perspectives?


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                • Who Owns the Fed...and More Ezra Pound (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 03/02/16 1:37 PM)
                  Congratulations to Ric Mauricio for his two excellent posts on the US Federal Bank.  However, it seems to me that he is still missing the point.

                  The big business of the private banks that run the Federal Reserve is to print paper money, to them a 50-dollar note may cost 5 cents or less, but for the rest of the world it is $50.


                  That was one of the main points of Ezra Pound.


                  JE comments: Ah, yes. Wouldn't it be loverly to do your own Quantitative Easing?


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                  • Ezra Pound, Quantitative Easing, and Leverage; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 03/03/16 6:04 AM)
                    Ric Mauricio responds to Eugenio Battaglia (2 March):

                    I believe we are actually in agreement here.


                    However, some technical points: The US Treasury prints the money. By the way, there is less printed money out there than actual dollars in circulation through the system. Most of it is digital, which of course, costs zero to print. So the Fed lends the digital dollars to the banks who in turn lend the digital funds to borrowers. Also in the mix are treasury bonds, created again by the US Treasury, and again much in digital form. Goldman Sachs (the biggest market maker in treasuries and yes, they earn a fee for every Treasury they sell) and its brethren sells the Treasuries to investors.


                    How about some song lyrics? "Money makes the world go round, world go round." --Cabaret


                    "Wouldn't it be loverly?"--My Fair Lady:  John, you can do a sort of Quantitative Easing. It is called leverage. Mind you, one must make the numbers work. If you can borrow and invest into an appreciating hard asset, then you are using leverage. But care must be taken not to over leverage.


                    JE comments:  The trick, at least in Michigan, is finding a hard asset that appreciates.  Leverage is a very risky practice.  A house of cards.  Building one's house upon the sand.  (Insert your favorite metaphor here.)


                    Did I ever tell WAISworld about the pinnacle of my theater career?  I played Henry Higgins in a high school production of My Fair Lady.  I was 16.  Still remember most of the songs.

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                    • Quantitative Easing and Leveraging: Germany in the 1930s (Robert Whealey, USA 03/04/16 7:59 AM)
                      Ric Mauricio (3 March) is correct about fiat money. John E's vote in November will be irrelevant.

                      No German could vote the German Mark into solvency in 1923. Germany was rescued by an American banker in 1924 (Charles Gates Dawes) with a 4-year loan. The failure of Hjalmar Schacht to get another American loan from General Electric's Owen D. Young led to the collapse of the Rentenmark in 1929 and to major depression in January 1933, when Hitler and Schacht created more uncollectible paper bonds. In January 1939, Schacht resigned as Reichbank President and watched the Third Reich destroy itself.


                      JE comments: My vote is irrelevant? That's not a solid Civics lesson, Prof. Whealey! Granted, it (my vote) probably is (irrelevant), but a good citizen has to subscribe to the suspension of democratic disbelief.


                      Bolivia has mandatory voting, and attained 96% participation in the referendum of a fortnight ago.  Why doesn't the US follow the Bolivian model?



                      Should I vote this Tuesday in the Michigan Primary? How about I let WAISers decide?


                      To vote or not to vote? Send your thoughts now.

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                      • To Vote or Not to Vote? (Robert Gibbs, USA 03/05/16 4:30 AM)
                        John E asked for WAISer input on whether or not to vote in the March 8th Michigan primary.

                        Follow your conscience, John. I say vote and it really does matter, but you decide, old friend. Only you can answer to you in this.


                        Besides, what is just one vote in millions is really that important one vote among a million other important votes. Be glad for the real opportunity and freedom.


                        JE comments:  Bob Gibbs' wisdom is comforting.  That makes two votes to vote, and nobody so far in contra. To be sure, those who see little value in voting may be reluctant to voice their opinion here.  Should I not vote?  Please vote now.



                        Robert Whealey himself, after labeling my vote "irrelevant," has recanted and now urges me to the polls. Robert's comment is next.

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                        • To Vote or Not to Vote? (John Heelan, UK 03/06/16 5:08 AM)
                          Vote! It is the duty of a citizen who enjoys the rights of belonging to a democracy.

                          I believe that voting should be compulsory, as voter apathy plays into the hands of political parties. The low turnout--35%--in the 2015 UK General Election means that the Cameron government was actually elected by 24% of the registered electorate (or one in four UK citizens).


                          JE comments: If you don't vote, you have no right to complain. Or at least that's what they say.  Why do they say that?  In Russian, the verb "to vote" is golosovat', based on golos/voice.  To voice your opinion.  "Vote" in English is etymologically related to "vow."


                          Isn't complaining, therefore, a form of voting?  How about "I hereby vow I'll never vote."


                          No worry:  I will vote in Tuesday's Michigan primary, after unanimous encouragement from WAISers far and wide.  Next up:  Francisco Wong-Díaz.


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                        • To Vote or Not to Vote? (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 03/06/16 5:23 AM)
                          I made a risky journey in my teens in search for the freedoms that John E is now refusing to exercise. Many have died seeking what you now hesitate to enjoy and do in your adulthood. Let your voice be heard!

                          Speaking of the upcoming Michigan primary (March 8th), I watched Kasich campaigning Marquette, the main city in the UP (Upper Peninsula) of the state. As a former resident of that city, where the main employer is the institution formerly known as Northern Michigan University, I found it interesting. Not too many national candidates would bother with the UP but Kasich by going there might help himself in the primary.


                          My recollection is that when I was in Marquette the demographics of voters were conservative, semi-rural, of Nordic background (Finns). Can John update us?


                          JE comments:  It's still called Northern Michigan University, and "Yoopers" (people from the UP--"Yoop") are still conservative, rural and Finnish.  Some are of Welsh background, as Welsh miners were ideally suited for the UP's copper and iron mines.  The Welsh gave the UP its national dish--the "pasty" or meat pie.


                          Governor Kasich is probably staking his foundering campaign on a strong finish (not Finnish) in Michigan.  Will Michigan voters be motivated to support their Ohio neighbor?  Probably not:  Michiganders consider themselves superior to Ohioans, just as Ohoians look down, figuratively and literally, on Kentuckians.  The projected winners on Tuesday are Trump and Clinton.

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                          • Pasties, Faggots, and Yoopers (John Heelan, UK 03/08/16 6:18 AM)
                            JE wrote on 6 March: "The Welsh gave the [Yoopers--people from Michigan's Upper Peninsula] their national dish--the 'pasty' or meat pie."

                            Perhaps it was ex tin-miners from Cornwall, as pasties are associated more with that county than Wales, whose delicacies are lava bread, cheese on toast (Welsh Rarebit or rabbit), faggots (meat balls) and so on.


                            "With the Civil War, many Welshmen began moving west (from New York), especially to Michigan and Wisconsin" (Wikipedia).


                            See also http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Sr-Z/Welsh-Americans.html


                            JE comments:  File this in the "separated by a common language" drawer.  Ask for a plate of faggots in the US, and you'll be sent to the HR Department for re-education (or dismissal).

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                            • Pasties, Grass Valley, St Piran (Orlo Steele, USA 03/10/16 4:30 AM)
                              John Heelan (8 March) is quite right about pasties.

                              My home is in Grass Valley, California. From 1853 to 1956 the Grass Valley Gold Mining District was the richest gold producer in California. Cornish miners started arriving in the late 1850s and by 1890, at least 60 percent of the underground work force consisted of miners of Cornish descent.


                              Cornish traditions are still observed here, and our three Pasty shops do a brisk business. This coming Saturday our town will celebrate Saint Piran day, which is 5 March. St. Piran is generally regarded as the patron saint of Cornwall and miners.


                              JE comments: A pleasure to hear from Gen. Orlo Steele, for his first posting in a long time. (Orlo never forgets to join the WAIS Honor Roll, though--Semper fi!)


                              Not too many WAISers outside of Cornwall or Grass Valley, I would venture, can identify St Piran (died 480).  I've just read up on him, and see that he is not only venerated by tin miners, but also by Cornwall in general.  It's fun to learn about obscure saints.  Last Sunday the Adrian College women's hockey team (ranked second in the nation, Division III) defeated the Green Knights of St Norbert College (Wisconsin).  Among his other roles, St Norbert is invoked to ensure safe childbirth.


                              Remember the Yoopers?  Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP--Yoop) got this discussion going.  Yesterday I snapped a photo of a Yooper bumper sticker in the Adrian College parking lot.  Did I know it would come in handy someday?  You betcha.

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                      • To Vote or Not to Vote? (Robert Whealey, USA 03/05/16 5:48 AM)
                        In my post of 4 March, I was too curt in saying that the November vote would be "irrelevant." I will also cast an "irrelevant" vote in November for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. We both believe in the survival of the democratic Constitution, and neither John nor I are cynics.

                        Debate is the oxygen of democracy. I voted and campaigned for Eugene McCarthy in 1968, George McGovern in 1972, Mike Dukakis in 1988 and lost each time in the November elections.

                        What I should have said is that a vote for Sanders or Hillary will not solve the Federal Reserve Bank's problems.

                        The only way to solve the debt crises is to raise taxes. Bernie is asking that taxes be raised on Wall Street corporations.The majority of voters still want to spend money on the Middle East military dreams.


                        Like votes a generation ago for Jesse Jackson, Democrats "must keep hope alive." The democratic Left lost the Presidency many times, but peace activists pressured Senators and helped open the door for a future continuation of democratic and Democratic Party comebacks. JFK, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan, under pressure, despite their false ideology, gradually negotiated in a series of nuclear disarmament agreements over 40 years to end the bilateral nuclear arms race with the USSR.


                        George F. Kennan's containment diplomacy of 1946 worked by 1991. Today's growing world war debts, like the war debts of 1919 to 1940, cannot be solved by a mere shift in interest rates. The anemic recovery since of 2009 and the growing deficits, US trade debt, and national debts are still not understood by today's conservatives.  The voters of 2016 are not going the bring back the great growing expectations and balanced prosperity of 1945-1965.


                        JE comments: I've argued before on WAIS that in the November presidential contest, Florida and Ohio (Robert Whealey's state) double-handedly decide the winner.  Your vote does matter, Robert!


                        So it's unanimous:  get out and vote.  And I've just learned that I won't be the first Michigan WAISer to go to the polls--Pat Mears in Heidelberg (next) has beaten me to it.


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                        • To Vote or Not to Vote? Robert Whealey for President (Tor Guimaraes, USA 03/06/16 4:31 AM)
                          I would vote for Robert Whealey for President (5 March). I believe he is honest, intelligent, and has good judgment. Just like Bernie Sanders.

                          I confess cringing the first time I heard Bernie calling himself a Democratic Socialist. He has explained what he means by the term, but many in the Republican Party try to interpret the label as totalitarian, free welfare for lazy bums, taking the hard-earned money from those who have and giving it to the bums, etc.


                          In reality Bernie Sanders should have called himself what he really is: a Democratic Capitalist. For most people , capital makes the world go around. The Communists (USSR) tried keeping all the capital for the government, that did not work.


                          In most capitalist countries like the US, the capital is increasingly concentrated in the hands of the controlling oligarchy; and that is steadily turning into a huge unmitigated disaster from which we don't know how to recover.


                          In the US, Hillary will continue to be part of the problem, just like the Republican and Democratic establishments. The only far-fetched glimmer of hope is Bernie Sanders with his Democratic Capitalism. There, that seems much better than Democratic Socialism but means exactly the same.


                          JE comments:  Among the many surprises of the Sanders candidacy, perhaps the biggest is this:  He disproved the maxim that in the US, you cannot be a socialist and have a viable political career.  Epithets of "S/he's a socialist" hurled from the Right used to put a candidate on the defensive.  Sanders is the first national politician since...Eugene Debs?...to say, "yes, and so what?"


                          Bob Whealey for President?  I'm on board--but Bob (tsk tsk) said my vote is irrelevant.  (Can I be Secretary of State, Bob?  Or at least Auto Czar?)

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                          • Robert Whealey for President? Thanks, but No (Robert Whealey, USA 03/08/16 4:19 AM)
                            Some thoughts in response to Tor Guimaraes (6 March). Bernie Sanders would never call himself a capitalist. He was the son of a lower middle-class paint salesman. He got a BA in Political Science from the University of Chicago with the help of his older brother, who had a law degree. Jews who came to America arrived as working-class or middle-class homeless. Jews were somewhat extraordinary to rise into the professional classes in one generation. Even a few became capitalists because of their superior educational background in Europe. Blacks have been in United States for five or six generations and still have trouble getting out of the working class.

                            As far as Tor's suggestion that I run for president, I did try to run for the House of Representative in 1972 at age 42. The major lesson learned from that experience was that I would not ever run again. Even in 1972, one would have to have $300,000 in the bank and then have to run three times to oust an entrenched incumbent. I was already too old to ever try a second shot at the House. I probably, like Bernie Sanders, took the price for raising my own money. I raised $4,500 and spend $500 from my own pocket. I also lost a year on my academic career and published my first book rather late in 1989.


                            JE comments:  You're at a political advantage in a small state like Vermont, where it's not egregiously expensive to run for the Senate.


                            It's voting day in Michigan.  I'll be hitting the polls in a few hours.


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                        • To Vote or Not to Vote? From Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 03/06/16 6:03 PM)
                          Ric Mauricio responds to Robert Whealey (5 March):

                          Yes, I feel Robert's cynicism, but I am not ready to acquiesce to the Powers that Be. Though it may seem that our one vote is a Quixotic notion, it is still our vote, our Quixotic nod to the world. But logically, if one does not actually vote thinking that their one vote is irrelevant, what one is really doing is voting for whoever wins, since your one non-vote did not go for the losing candidate.


                          But while one vote may seem irrelevant in the bigger scheme of things, collectively, your one vote can mean something. For example, while I absolutely do not agree with the structure of the Affordable Care Act (yes Obamacare), I do believe in the concept. If only they would simplify it with a single-payer system, tiered for income ranges.


                          So John, yes, I urge you to vote. Don Quixote forever!


                          JE comments: Who can turn down Don Quixote?  This Tuesday, you'll definitely see me jousting at the windmills of the voting booth.


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                      • An American Votes Abroad (Patrick Mears, Germany 03/05/16 6:16 AM)
                        Here is vote number 3 [now it's four--JE] in favor of you voting in the Michigan primary. Even though I can no longer vote in that particular primary, I did my "citizen's duty" this morning and voted in the Democratic primary held here in Heidelberg for overseas Democrats. Photos are below.

                        JE comments: This is democracy in global action--thank you, Pat! I did not know until today that there is such as thing as a Global Primary. For Democrats, it's March 1 through 8. From what I've been able to determine (http://www.dw.com/en/americans-abroad-can-vote-in-global-presidential-primary/a-19061221 ), Republicans abroad have no analogous opportunity. Rather, they must cast an absentee ballot in their home states.


                        Pat Mears's final picture shows two posters with Dorothea Lange's iconic "Migrant Mother" Depression-era photograph. What gives? This isn't the kind of image you'd expect to see at a party HQ.  Especially when your side is in the White House.


                         

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                        • Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" Photo (Patrick Mears, Germany 03/08/16 5:07 AM)

                          When commenting on my post of March 5th, John E asked about the "Migrant Mother" photo at the entrance to the Heidelberg polling station. The balloting took place in rented space in the Engelhorn Palais, which is where the American Studies Program of Heidelberg University is located. A Dorothea Lange exhibition will be held there later this month.


                          JE comments:  Wikipedia has an excellent article on the woman depicted in the photo, Florence Owens Thompson.  The photo was retouched to remove her thumb from the lower right.


                          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Owens_Thompson


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              • Who Owns the Fed? Goldman Sachs (John Heelan, UK 03/02/16 4:27 AM)
                The WAIS question of late: Who owns the Fed?

                Huffington Post (11/10/2015) suggests Goldman Sachs does when it opined "The Federal Reserve is in a bit of a rut--it keeps hiring former Goldman Sachs executives. On Tuesday, the Minneapolis Fed named Neel Kashkari as its new president."


                One might notice a similar infiltration of Goldman alumni in European Central Banks and the governments of the UK, Belgium, Germany. Ireland, France, Italy, and Greece. Further "Sky News can exclusively reveal that Goldman has agreed to give what insiders said was a 'substantial six-figure sum' to Britain Stronger in Europe, the group chaired by the former Marks & Spencer boss Lord Rose."


                JE comments:  I'd like to know more about the Britain Stronger in Europe lobbying group.  We might call them the anti-UKIP, although the name itself has a certain nationalist bravado.  Note that it's not called "Britain United with Europe."  I am reminded of the legendary sign--in Dover?--that said "Heavy fog in Channel.  Continent cut off."

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              • Who Owns the Fed? (Robert Whealey, USA 03/02/16 7:25 AM)
                The twelve Fed Reserve Banks are all privately owned. The system was set up to avoid the next stock market crash. The NY Bank, because it is the richest next to Wall Street, has extra powers. NY can raise or lower the interest rates for the whole country. But they can only raise or lower the rate 1/4 or 1/2 percent in consultation with the Secretary of Treasury. The duty of the NY Fed is to lend money to the US government to pay for bills not paid for by tax collections.

                In normal times the Fed could loan the district banks cheap money at 4% when the private bond market would pay 6%, the prime rate. The district bank with 4% rate could lend out more private mortgages to stimulate the housing and automobile markets.


                When FDR came to power he appointed a new chairman who dramatically lowered the interest rate to get private home private mortgages lending again. He by executive order closed all banks for five days in 1933. He appointed an examiner from different states and they reopened honest banks that had real assets. The paper stocks and bonds of bad banks were declared in default.


                The big investment banks like JP Morgan permanently reopened. But Roosevelt forced Morgan and the other big boys to take less profit in interest to bail out the 11 provincial banks. From 1933, instead of making 6%, they had to take 4%, until 1940 when new war contracts gave the banks new profits.


                During the great boom, the banks could sell stocks and bonds based on speculation on future profits. The unsecured debts kept rising until 2004-2009. Greedy finance companies will never learn from history. The present recovery is anemic at best. After Eisenhower, the Fed Chairmen were all weak appointees of the stock brokers.


                Truman and Eisenhower were the true conservatives who demanded that government spending be paid for with taxes. Only a fool would believe that unlimited wars can be paid for with money borrowed from foreign powers.


                JE comments:  "Greedy finance companies will never learn from history."  Possibly so, but I would say they learn from fear, which is "historically" learned. 


                I invite comments on this claim from historian Robert Whealey.  Maybe Jordi Molins could weigh in with the perspective from Barcelona?

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          • Home from the Hospital (Angel Vinas, Belgium 03/05/16 6:45 AM)
            I would like to inform Bob Whealey and John Eipper that I´ve come back home still in one piece. It was not so bad after all. In hospital I had peace and I could read even outside of my current interests.

            May I point out to a new book which I find fascinating? It was written by an author I didn´t know (sorry about that), Paddy Hayes, from Dublin. It´s a biography of baroness Daphne Park, a former member of MI6/SIS, and the only woman who made it almost to the top. On the other hand, and for those who want to have a good laugh, I'm embarking on a series of posts in my blog on Spanish contemporary history about the "justifications" of the military coup, 80 years ago, which ushered in the Spanish Civil War.


            Thank you to all who wished me a good recovery, in particular to Bob and John.


            JE comments: I'm very happy you're well, Ángel, and glad you're back in the WAIS saddle.  Here is the link to angelvinas.es--for those who read the beautiful language of Cervantes:


            http://www.angelvinas.es


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      • EU and NATO (John Heelan, UK 02/24/16 10:11 AM)
        JE correctly pointed out (23 February): "Wouldn't the Euroskeptics argue that there already exists a parallel structure to the EU for defense purposes--NATO?"

        In fact, David Cameron himself has also used that argument when he said words to the effect that "like NATO one has to be within the EU to have a voice." However, as I have suggested previously, I would be uncomfortable with a reliance on NATO, remembering that it has always been commanded since its inception by a senior US military figure whose primarily allegiance is to his own C-in-C, the US President. Further, not only do I suspect that major NATO decisions are made in Washington, armaments are provided by the US military/industrial complex (aka the Wall St that increasingly owns US politics) but also, as in the Cold War--and my home sat under the threat of a USSR 40-megaton nuclear weapon for more than 20 years to provide a ICBM warning for the US--I fear that should the US homeland be ever threatened by another superpower in the future, US politicians would be willing to sacrifice Europe, Israel, Taiwan and maybe even Japan in fulfilling its primary and understandable responsibility to protect the US population.


        So I would prefer the UK's long-term defence to be linked to a superpower 500 miles away who would also suffer the same fate as the UK in a nuclear interchange rather than with one 3500 miles away who would be safe, initially anyway.


        JE comments: Does John Heelan mean Germany--the superpower 500 miles away?


        This is a grim thought exercise, but does it make sense to ask which of its allies the US would "sacrifice" first?


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        • EU, UK, and Superpowers (Alan Levine, USA 02/25/16 3:18 AM)
          John Heelan wrote on 24 February: "I would prefer the UK's long-term defence to be linked to a superpower 500 miles away who would also suffer the same fate as the UK in a nuclear interchange rather than with one 3500 miles away."

          I can understand that, but when it comes to replacing NATO there is no "superpower" 500 miles away from Britain.


          Perhaps this is sad for John, but if he wants to be allied with a superpower, he really only has one choice. Britain's choice is between being allied with the US superpower or not being aligned with a superpower at all.


          JE comments: John Heelan is next. I misunderstood his reference to a "Superpower 500 miles away." John did not mean Germany.

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          • EU as Superpower (John Heelan, UK 02/29/16 8:19 AM)
            To clarify my statement about preference of "superpower" (see Alan Levine, 25 February), I was referring to the EU that is a potential superpower.

            The EU has the third largest population after China and India, and thus could become a formidable economic bloc. Currently it does not spend as much on armaments as the US and is therefore a customer of the US military/industrial complex, although itself has some 500 nuclear warheads and indigenous expertise in nuclear weapons technology. A nuclear strike on the UK would affect the surrounding EU member states, especially France, with its 300 nuclear warheads.


            JE comments:  The crucial question:  would the EU stick together militarily in case of an attack on one of its Member States?  Given the commitment from NATO, is the question even worth asking?  In John Heelan's view, the US would be satisfied to keep any potential "killing fields" in Europe, therefore making the EU a more meaningful defense bloc from the European perspective.  What do other WAISers think?  Does it make sense to think of the EU as a superpower?

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        • "Superpower 500 Miles Away" (John Heelan, UK 02/25/16 3:31 AM)
          JE commented on 24 February: "Does John Heelan mean Germany--the superpower 500 miles away?"

          Of course not. Germany is not a superpower and the two World Wars between our countries makes such a suggestion laughable. I mean, that is a choice between the EU and the US, I would choose the EU.


          JE comments: Is the EU a "superpower" in the traditional sense?


          John threw me off the scent with the "500 miles." Calais is only 20 miles distant from the UK. And in any case, the UK has the most military strength of the EU nations. WAISers well know I am intrigued by rankings:


          http://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-listing-europe.asp


          The Big Four are UK, France, Germany, and Italy in that order. No surprises there. Number 5 is not what I expected: Poland. Do WAISers agree with this appraisal?

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  • EU Deal with UK (Nigel Jones, UK 02/22/16 2:20 PM)
    Bienvenido Macario (21 February) should not believe that there have been any changes in the EU as a result of David Cameron's futile charade in Brussels.

    The brutal truth is that the EU is an unreformable undemocratic monstrosity. It is dissolving in chaos before our eyes under the tsunami of Muslim migration and the growing support for Brexit in the coming referendum is just one straw in a wind that--as I have predicted on WAIS for years--is now becoming a hurricane that will blow away this corrupt and dictatorial mess.


    JE comments: I hope Nigel Jones will give us an overview of how his party, UKIP, will be campaigning for Brexit in the coming months.  The June 23rd referendum is exactly four months away.

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