Vous savez qu’est-ce que ça veut dire, la supranationalité ? La domination des Américains. L’Europe supranationale, c’est l’Europe sous le commandement américain.
Yesterday (Washington time), on March 8th, a stunned world learned that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has agreed to stop any further missile and nuclear tests, to denuclearize his regime in the long term, and that he’ll meet US President Donald Trump to discuss this. As luck would have it, this happened on the 35th anniversary of President Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech.
Of course, the North Koreans have already made promises of denuclearization several times before, notably in the early 1990s and in the late 2000s, and never kept them. And, when Kim’s father Kim Jong-il promised, in 2000, to stop his missile tests and Russian President Vladimir Putin relayed that to the G8 group, the now-deceased Kim Jong-il said he was only kidding. So guarded optimism is in order. There is no guarantee that North Korea will live up to its promise this time.
Nonetheless, there is a small chance that this objective will be achieved. The fact that Kim has agreed to denuclearize and to meet Trump is already a moderate success.
This being the case, it is necessary to underline how it was achieved.
The pacifist Left will, without doubt, claim that this was due to patient diplomacy and to appeasement policies on the part of South Korean President Kim Jong-un.
Others, especially members of President Trump’s Republican Party, claim this was due to the new, tough sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by Trump.
Both of these camps are wrong, however. While diplomacy and sanctions did contribute, in a minor way, to this success, it is due primarily to President Trump’s unrelenting military pressure on North Korea.
Since coming into office, despite facing provocations (including repeat nuclear and missile tests) by North Korea, President Trump has applied unrelenting military (as well as economic and diplomatic) pressure on Pyongyang, notably by :
- Accelerating the (previously slow) modernization of the US nuclear deterrent ;
- Openly declaring that this deterrent must be “in tip-top shape” and the biggest and most modern nuclear arsenal in the world ;
- Openly threating to wipe North Korea off the map if it attacked anyone ;
- Openly declaring to the world, including to the UN, that the US will respond with full military force to any North Korean provocation or aggression.
- Sending three carrier battle groups (CBGs) towards the Korean Peninsula, including the appropriately named USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).
- Holding new military exercises with South Korea.
- And last, but not least, increasing the number and the reliability of the missile defense interceptors protecting the US, especially Hawaii and Alaska, from North Korean missiles.
This enormous and unrelenting military pressure gave North Korea no choice but to stop its nuclear and missile tests and to agree to long-term denuclearization.
This is in stark contrast to the Obama Administration’s utterly failed “strategic patience” policy, which was essentially about ignoring and downplaying the North Korean threat – pretending that it didn’t exist or that it was greatly exaggerated by the Republican Party.
And what were the results ? Accelerated North Korean development of nuclear weapons and ICBMs capable of reaching as far as Chicago. This was the state of affairs Obama bequeathed to Trump in 2017.
The lesson the whole world – especially the Western world – must learn from this is that appeasement and unilateral disarmament ALWAYS result in utter failure. The only way to deal with potential aggressors is by amassing superior military strength and demonstrating clear willingness to use it if and when necessary.
This is the right lesson to learn from this episode – a lesson the West should’ve already learned in March 1983, when President Reagan delivered his landmark “Evil Empire” and “Peace Through Strength” speeches.
Since the beginning of this month, we’ve been observing a worrisome episode (now toned down) of reciprocal military threats and fiery rhetoric on the part of the President of the United States and of the leader of North Korea. Some had even been worrying that such an exchange of bellicose rhetoric might lead to a full-blown conflict, even to nuclear war.
This being the case, it is time to lay down the cold, objective facts, separated from any partial or emotional stance, and then to recommend a solution to this conundrum. We will do so first by analyzing the North Korean military threat itself, then the behavior of the main actors, and then, finally, the potential solutions ahead.
- How grave is the North Korean nuclear threat ?
Long dismissed as merely hypothetical or long-term, it is actually very real right now, and has been for several years now.
It is generally agreed by now by the US intelligence community, US Combatant Command leaders, the Joint Chiefs, and even some private analysts, that North Korea has, by now, mastered the art of miniaturizing its nuclear warheads, a condition necessary to be able to deliver them by missiles. It is also by now generally agreed – as opposed to five years ago – that North Korea’s KN-08, KN-14, and Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are hardly mock-ups, but real missiles.
Few people know, however, that some US intelligence agencies, most notably the DIA, had assessed (with “moderate confidence”) as early as 2013 that already by that time the North Koreans had mastered the art of miniaturization. US military leaders have made similar comments on multiple occassions since then.
However, those warnings had been dismissed at that time as mere hyperbole and scaremongering promoted by the so-called “military-industrial complex”. The weak-kneed Obama Administration – keen not to give nuclear deterrence and missile defense advocates any ammunition – immediately walked back the DIA’s finding and declared it “inaccurate”, as did its Director of National Intelligence. Some media, as well as pacifist-oriented activists in the West, still refuse – to this day – to acknowledge this North Korean capability.
Furthermore, as the Heritage Foundation rightly points out, learning how to miniaturize nuclear warheads is not difficult because of :
(1) the vast improvement in computers and in high explosive technology over the last five decades; (2) the public availability of a vast amount of scientific data on both fission and fusion; (3) the U.S. declassification of a great deal of information on nuclear weapons technology; (4) the leak of vastly more classified information on nuclear weapons design; and (5) the proliferation of nuclear weapons designs by China and Dr. A. Q. Khan, the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb.
As for North Korea’s ICBMs, they are in theory capable of reaching targets as far ahead as Chicago and New York City if Pyongyang were to launch them on the right trajectory, taking advantage of the Earth’s rotation. However, the reentry vehicles North Korea now has, and the payloads of the missiles themselves, would currently allow them “only” to target the US West Coast, and even that only with a single 500 kg warhead per missile. Furthermore, no North Korean ground-launched ballistic missile has, to this day, flown more than about 1 000 kilometers.
2. How grave is the current crisis/stand-off? Is there is a real risk of nuclear war?
By now, both North Korea and the US have delivery systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons to each other’s homeland. Before, the US had a unilateral advantage over Pyongyang in that regard, and even now, it has an overwhelming advantage in terms of total nuclear firepower. However, the American people – and American politicians – value human life far more than North Korean leaders, so even the destruction of a single major US city (say, Seattle or LA) by a North Korean nuclear (or chemical) warhead would’ve been a disaster for the US (though not a fatal blow, of course).
But paradoxically, as dangerous as this situation may seem, it is actually beneficial for both sides and for world peace and security.
Yes, you’ve read that right : this nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang is good for world peace and security!
The reason is that there now is a “mutually assured destruction” logic between the two capitals, so neither of them can attack the other without incurring a devastating nuclear retaliation in return. The same kind of logic which, since 1949, has assured peace and stability in Russo-American, and since 1964, in Sino-American relations.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, like his father and grandfather, is extremely cruel, ruthless, and prone to grandiose power demonstrations, but not suicidal. His foremost concern – like that of his predecessors, and like that of all governments around the world – is the survival of his regime.
Which is why both leaders, Kim and Trump, have recently walked back their bellicose rhetoric.
Moreover, if there had ever been any risk of a real war reoccurring again in East Asia, someone forgot to tell the US military, which has remained at normal readiness levels throughout the crisis so far, with the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan still docked at is naval base in Yokosuka, Japan.
3. So how to finally resolve this problem?
The problem is two-fold : short- and long-term.
The current crisis – which now seems to be abating – is of a short-term nature, and the solution, naturally, would be a cessation (or at least a moderation) of the rhetoric and the actions on the part of both sides. Therefore, as Russia has proposed, Pyongyang should refrain from further missile or nuclear tests, and the US should cancel its planned military exercises in South Korea. This would be a reasonable give-and-take compromise.
The trickier issue is addressing the North Korean threat in the long term.
Maintaining the status quo on the Peninsula – that is, tolerating the regime’s continued existence and standing by as it develops better and longer-ranged missiles, and nuclear warheads of ever-greater explosive power – is unacceptable, no matter what Henry Kissinger, the arch-defender of status quo in global politics, might say.
Attempting regime change by military invasion is also not an option, as North Korea could pulverize the South’s capital, Seoul, in a matter of minutes with its long-range artillery armed with chemical munitions. That is, of course, to say nothing of its ICBMs.
Trying to negotiate the North’s arsenal away is also not an option, for two simple reasons. Firstly, North Korea has already said – as bluntly and explicitly as one can – that it will never, under any circumstances, give up its nuclear weapons (not surprising, given that they need them to ensure regime survival). Secondly, this strategy has already been tried multiple times by successive US Administrations, only to fail miserably each time : the North had promised to denuclearize, or at least freeze its nuclear program, and then it reneged on its commitments every single time.
So diplomacy and “strategic patience” (i.e. ignoring the North Korean threat) have abysmally failed with North Korea, and it would be insane to try them again and expect different results. A military invasion aimed at regime change is also not a plausible option, for obvious reasons.
So what can be done ?
As recommended by the Cato Institute many years ago, the US should try negotiating a secret “quid pro quo” deal with China whereby Beijing would cut off any trade with, and supplies to, North Korea, leading to the regime’s collapse and unification with the South, and the US would terminate its alliance with Seoul and withdraw all of its troops from the Korean Peninsula. To further sweeten the deal with Beijing, Washington could also consent to a reunification (by force, if necessary) of Taiwan with the People’s Republic.
One of China’s greatest nightmares is seeing American troops again on the Yalu river, right on the Sino-Korean border, or even worse, seeing them there on a border between China and a reunified, pro-American Republic of Korea. To reassure China against such a threat, the US should firmly commit to withdrawing all US troops from the Peninsula as soon as the regime in Pyongyang collapses.
China, and China alone, now holds the key to resolving the North Korean problem in both short and the long term. It is absolutely crucial for Washington to engage Beijing on this issue.
Throughout the last year, I’ve read and listened to a lot of educational material on how to manage time better. I’ve read and heard many pieces of advice from several knowledgeable sources : websites, life coaches, businessmen, and others.
And most importantly, I now apply them on a daily basis, with the result that my daily productivity has increased significantly.
But at the same time, I believe many of those valuable pieces of advice, coming from various sources, are scattered around the Net, so I’ve decided to write this article to list them together and also organize them better. Some of those time management tactics are mine, but most others come from other authors. Anyway, here’s what I’d advise anyone to do :
Before You Start : Prepare Your Day
Before you can spend your day in a productive manner, you need to prepare for it. Good preparation is the key to having a wonderful day of fruitful work – and it starts the day before. So remember to :
- Go to sleep early enough so that you get enough sleep (and therefore, enough rest for your mind and body) the next day. Don’t stay up until midnight or 1 AM. Unless you’re one of those few people who work best at night (the so-called night-owls), go to bed as early as possible, preferrably at 10 PM. Some people think they can hack away a few extra hours by going late to bed, but in fact, they’re just cheating themselves. If you don’t give yourself enough sleep, you will feel dizzy, tired, and have big trouble concentrating the next day from the very start. So always give yourself at least seven, and ideally eight, hours of sleep – at the time when you feel the most tired.
- But before you go to bed, remember to plan your next day. Think of everything you’ll have to do tomorrow and write it down on a piece of paper, in a planner or in an app on your smartphone or tablet (I personally prefer the TickTick app). That way, you won’t forget anything, and you’ll also sleep easy at night, knowing you’ve already planned everything for tomorrow.
And Now the Big Day Has Come !
If you’ve followed my advice above, you will surely be ready for the next day. Here’s how to effectively manage your valuable time so that it’s not a wasted day :
- Look again at that to-do list. There’s a lot of tasks on it, isn’t there ? Time to organize it by priorities using the ABCDE method (which I’ve learned from Brian Tracy). Here’s how to do it :
- Which of your tasks (in your private life or at work) are so important that failure to complete them would have serious consequences for you ? For example, financial losses, missed business opportunities, reprimands from your manager, or lots of angry customers ? These are A-class tasks; they are of utmost importance. They should be your top priority. If there is more than one of them, decide which is the single most important one, and designate it as A1, and the other top tasks as A2, A3, etc.
- Which other tasks have to be done today, but if not done would only have minor consequences (e.g. one angry customer or some other minor annoyance) ? That is, which ones have to be done but are nowhere nearly as important as A-class ? They are B-class tasks. Do them, but only AFTER you’ve done all those from the A group.
- Activities which are not obligatory, just good to do, are C-class. That is, you can do them and it would be good to do them, but there would be absolutely no consequences to not doing so. Examples include seeing your friends, playing pool, going to a cinema, etc.
- D-class tasks are simple, usually manual or repetitive, activities which you can delegate to others because they’re perfectly capable of doing them.
- E-class activities are time wasters : visiting Twitter and Instagram, reading tabloids and the gossip press, etc. Avoid them like the plague.
- Whatever task you plan, set a deadline for its completion, e.g. Aug. 16th at 3PM. That way, it’ll be harder for you to procrastinate.
- Start your day as early as possible. It’s simple : if you went to bed early enough the night before, you’ll get enough sleep, and then you can get up early in the morning and, after shower and breakfast, start your day early. Especially since most people’s peak performance time is in the morning, right after having several hours of sleep.
- Develop a morning routine of productive behavior. The first 1-2 hours of your day are the “golden hours”. The way you spend them will show how you’ll spend the rest of your day. So when you get up, DON’T start your day by checking email, Facebook, Twitter, or SMS on your phone. Start instead by some physical exercise, by meditating a bit, and by showering and eating a healthy breakfast (no processed junk food!). Then, spend 30-60 minutes by reading (or listening to) something educational or motivational to set you up for success. That way, you’ll have invested the first 1-2 hours of your day in your personal development, health, fitness, and hygiene instead of some garbage like social networks.
- Start doing your tasks one by one, beginning, of course, with the most important ones (A-class). Do only ONE thing at a time ; don’t try to “multitask.” “Multitasking” is a corporate scam which is a supposed ability to do several things at the same time. But in reality, human attention is like laser light : it can only be concentrated on one thing at any given time. A person doing several things simoultaneously will not do any of them well. So do only ONE thing at a time and concentrate 100 % on it, and that way, you’ll complete that task faster than you think. Block any distractions that might disrupt your work : put up a “do not disturb” sign, turn off your phone, turn off email notifications in Outlook, and close all web browser windows not related to this current task. If you work at a corporation and have to use a corporate IM like Lync, switch your status to “do not disturb.”
- Don’t fall for the temptation to start by doing the easiest tasks first (the so-called low-hanging fruit). Many people fall for this, and once they finish those trivial tasks (which usually takes them long), they mentally masturbate by congratulating themselves : “I’ve forwarded this email with attachments from Bob to Sue, yay ! Task completed!” If you want to be really productive, start with the HARDEST tasks (which usually tend to also be the most important, and the most rewarding, tasks) and don’t stop for a moment until you finish them. As Brian Tracy says, “Eat that frog!”. Because when you finally complete them, you will feel a surge of satisfaction (called “flow”) that will help you perform even better during the rest of the day !
- If any tasks are long and complex, requiring more than an hour to complete, break them down into multiple chunks of 1 hour each.
- Every hour, or after completing each of your hardest tasks, take a 5-minute break – just 5 minutes – to rest, drink some water (or coffee), and prepare for the next task. You’ll then find it easier to continue working. Don’t work 8 hours nonstop.
- Make sure that the environment you work in is optimal for you. If you’re like me and can’t concentrate in a noisy environment, find a quiet one. If you work at a corporation, ask your manager if you could work from home. If not, and if it’s your colleagues who make noise at the office, ask them to behave more quietly, as this will benefit everyone, not just you.
- Organize all your documents (in both paper and digital version) into folders in locations you can easily find. Every document you have or use needs to have a specific, easy to find thematical folder, which in turn should be in a location easy to remember. Organize such a system both at work and at home – for your paper documents and on your computers. According to Brian Tracy, it’s estimated that the average person wastes 30 % of his or her time daily looking for misplaced items.
- Time spent at airports, onboard planes, trains, urban public transport, and at waiting rooms (e.g. at the DMV or the dentist’s) does not have to be lost time ! Use it to your advantage. You can either work on your laptop (if there’s an electric socket or if your battery has enough juice) OR read something and thus educate yourself (which is why I take several books wherever I go). If you spend lots of time driving, turn off the radio and listen to educational audio programs while you drive.
- Learn to say “no” : many other people will ask you to do something. Indeed, if you rise to any position of power, the demands on your time will be enormous. Refuse to fall into this trap. Learn to delegate tasks and don’t let others distract you with petty issues. If others want something from you, it better be important.
I acknowledge that I’ve not always followed the above advice myself, but when I have, I’ve been far more productive than I’ve been otherwise. These tips can help you become much more efficient at anything you do. You’ll now have enough time for anything you need to do.
La veille de la fête nationale du 14 juillet, le Ministère des Comptes Publics, soutenu la le président de la République, a annoncé un plan de coupes budgétaires dans tous les ministères. Celui des Armées sera le plus fortement touché de tous les ministères, car il devra porter, à lui seul, 20 % du fardeau de tous les économies exigées. En chiffres absolus, le montant du rabot budgétaire qu’il subira sera aussi de très loin le plus douleureux : 850 millions d’euros.
Ces réductions budgétaires sont totalement idiotiques, injustes et mettent en péril la sécurité nationale de la France. Cela étant dit, vu que le président de la République lui-même soutient le rabot que Bercy entend opérer, il faudra trouver ces économies de 850 M d’euros quelque part. Et il faut éviter à tout prix de toucher aux programmes d’équipements, ce que l’on fait d’habitude quand Bercy rogne le budget des Armées. Au lieu de cela, il faut trouver des économies ailleurs.
Je recommande donc au Ministère des Armées de :
- Vendre tous les A319 et la moitié des Falcon de l’Armée de l’Air (AdlA).
- Réduire le coût annuel des vols des avions des VIP de 6.8M EUR a 3.4M EUR.
- Fermer et vendre les bases aériennes de Velizy-Villacoublay (78) et de Dijon (21), rouvrir la base aérienne de Taverny (95) et y faire démenager tous les unités de ces 2 premières bases. La BA de Taverny devrait aussi devenir à nouveau une base des Forces Aériennes Stratégiques.
- Fermer la base aérienne de Cazaux, qui est située trop près de Bordeaux, et faire démenager toutes ses unités au Mont de Marsan, Pau, Perpignan, Bergerac, Nîmes, Avignon, ou Rodez.
- Mettre fin à l’Opération Sentinelle. La sécurité de la métropole devrait être assurée par les seules forces de l’ordre.
- Mettre fin aux OPEX au Mali et en RCA, ainsi que toutes les autres OPEX sauf celles contre l’EI (Daech).
- Réduire nettement le nombre des généraux et admiraux dans l’armée et les grades associées avec des différentes postes dans l’armée. Par exemple, les chefs des quatres services militaires devraient avoir seulement 4 étoiles, pas 5. Le rang du général d’armée, général d’armée aérienne, ou amiral devrait être reservé seulement au CEMA et à certains officiers français servant dans les commandements de l’OTAN. Les rangs de 4 étoiles devraient être reservés seulement aux chefs des quatre services militaires, l’Amiral Commandant de la Force Océanique Stratégique (ALFOST), et le commandant des Forces Aériennes Stratégiques. Il faut aussi réduire le nombre d’autres officiers.
- Supprimer la DGRIS, le Bureau des Officiers Généraux, le CAJ, etc.
- Vendre tous les 254 chevaux de l’armée française, chacun pour au moins 500 000 euros, ainsi que les costumes/uniformes de la cavalerie de la Garde Républicaine. La vente des chevaux toute seule produiserait 127 millions d’euros de recettes exceptionnelles.
- Supprimer la cavalerie de la Garde Républicaine et réduire son infanterie à un seul battalion.
- Supprimer le service de patrimoine des armées et céder ses fonctions, biens, et personnel au Ministère de la Culture.
- Joindre tous les programmes des helicoptères des Armées et faire de sorte qu’elles soient toutes sous le contrôle de l’AdlA. Eviter toute duplication de programmes d’équipements.
- Vendre l’Hôtel de Brienne, l’Hôtel de la Marine, les bâtiments des états-majors de l’Armée de Terre et de l’Armée de l’Air, la base aérienne de Velizy, celle de Creil, et le Château de Vincennes. Il ne faut pas utiliser l’Hôtel de la Marine comme un musée; Paris en a déjà assez. (http://www.opex360.com/2014/01/12/nouveau-changement-de-cap-pour-lhotel-de-la-marine/)
- Réduire fortement (de 75%) le nombre et les renumerations des conseillers au Ministère.
- Permettre aux annonceurs (donneurs des publicités) d’afficher leurs réclames aux côtés du Balardgone, dans les ascenseurs des bâtiments du ministère, aux murs autour des bâtiments du ministère (y compris autour des Invalides), à l’arrière des sièges dans les bus et les fourgons du ministère, sur les sites web du ministère et des armées, et aux palissades autour de l’Hôtel de Brienne et de la base militaire de Lyon.
- Faire payer à l’heure la facture pour tous les vols presidentiels et ministeriels par tous les institutions de l’Etat et réduire leur cout de 50%, ce qui permettrait, par exemple, à l’AdlA d’acheter de nouveaux missiles.
- Appliquer la methode Lean Six Sigma dans l’ensemble du ministère.
- Retirer les soldats français des DOM-TOM, sauf la Guyenne.
- Supprimer la 2ème section.
- Réduire le budget de la DGSE et la joindre avec la Direction du Renseignement Militaire.
- Supprimer le poste du major-général des armées; le CEMA devrait diriger personellement l’EMA, et les sous-chefs de l’EMA devraient lui être subordonnés directement.
- Vendre tous les ouvrages d’art exposés dans le Musée de la Marine à Paris et certains exposés à l’Hotel de Brienne et aux Invalides (comme p.e. les portraits des maréchaux de Napoleon).
- Reformer les brigades de l’armée de terre selon le modèle proposé par le colonel américain Douglas MacGregor, ce qui augmenterait nettement leur puissance et économiserait à la fois de l’argent. (http://www.scribd.com/doc/288311708/MacGregor-s-Recon-Strike-Group-Presentation)
- Imprimer seulement ces documents qui doivent absolument être imprimés.
- Completement arrêter toute initiative d’utilisation des “sources renouvelables d’énergie” par le Ministère. (http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2016/01/20/eu-kicks-off-green-energy-drive-militaries/79067290/)
- Supprimer complètement tous les apanages et privilégies des ancients présidents de la République et premiers ministres (y compris les bureaux, les voitures, etc.) et consacrer 100% des économies résultantes aux renovations des casernes de l’armée. Les bureaux des ex-présidents de la République, à eux seuls, coutent les contribuables 6,7 millions d’Euros par an.
- Reduire nettement (d’au moins 50 %) les cabinets du ministre, des chefs d’état-major et des autres dirigeants du ministère.
- Réduire le rang des préfets maritimes de la Manche et de l’Atlantique à 2 étoiles (c’est-a-dire, au rang de contre-amiral).
- Mettre en oeuvre toutes les propositions de l’IFRAP devoilées ici et ici. L’IFRAP propose (sauf certaines sur l’europeisation de la défense), inter alia, une réduction des effectifs de soutien et administratifs, une externalisation des fonctions de soutien, la vente de l’immobilier de la défense, la fermeture des bases peu utilisées, et une réduction du nombre d’officiers (qui devrait être importante – le nombre d’officiers de l’armée de terre et de l’armée de l’Air a peu diminu depuis 1996, et le nombre d’officiers de la Marine s’est même augmenté!) (http://www.ifrap.org/Bilan-de-15-ans-de-reduction-des-effectifs-au-sein-de-la-Defense,14674.html)
Today is the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome creating the European Economic Community, the antecendent of today’s European Union. Today, it is more clear than ever that the EU is not working and needs radical change.
It is evidently incapable of resolving its own problems, not to mention helping solve the world’s. And it is increasingly divided and facing rising euroscepticism, most notably in its founding states, especially in France and the Netherlands.
The root causes of the problem
This is hardly surprising to lucid analysts such as this writer. The reason why is because the EU is founded on a completely flawed foundation. It is governed, for the most part, by unelected, unaccountable Commissioners and bureaucrats, and not by its member states’ elected governments. Worse still, its bureaucrats and commissars have the nerve to lecture some of the EU’s member states, most recently the UK and Poland, on democracy and the rule of law.
And whenever European citizens vote against the European project – as French and Dutch voters did in 2005, and as the Irish people did in 2008 – European elites declare those democratic decisions to be utterly null and void.
The European Commission’s current President, Jean-Claude Juncker, personifies this unbrindled arrogance and utter contempt of democracy and of voters. Shortly before the French referendum on the EU’s Constitution in 2005, he arrogantly declared :
If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a ‘No’, we will say, ‘we continue’.
On issue after issue, the EU has made law by decree (‘directive’ in Eurospeak) and has tried to force uniform one-size-fits-all solutions on all of its member states (especially those unfortunate enough to be in the Eurozone). The predictable result, of course, has been that these “solutions” have failed to solve any problem. ‘One size fits all’ has become ‘no size fits any’.
Let us be clear: any structure built on a faulty foundation is doomed to collapse.
The same will happen to the EU – unless it is profoundly reformed.
The right path forward
General de Gaulle at a press conference in the Elysee Palace. Photo credit : l’Union Populaire Republicaine.
And today, more than ever, it is clear that this reform means studying and carefully following General de Gaulle’s wise advice. In other words, the EU needs to be reformed in line with Gaullist principles. To wit:
1) It needs to be democratic and decentralised, that is, it should be governed by the duly elected governments and parliaments of its Member States, not by unelected, unaccountable commissioners and bureaucrats. The vast majority of the EU’s powers must be returned to the member states; the EU’s competences should be restricted to a handful of topics of strategic, pan-European importance : defence, security, foreign trade, pan-European transport and energy networks, space exploration, scientific cooperation, and the Common Agricultural Policy. All other issues should be the exclusive concern of the Member States and their regional and local governments.
2) It needs to be fully independent from the United States and from any other external power in all domains : political, military, economic, monetary, commercial, and technological. It should be an independent bloc in its own right which will counterweight, at the same time, both the US and Russia (as well as China). To that end, its member states should strive to coordinate their foreign policy closely and to speak with one voice to the extent possible, although no uniformity should be imposed.
By rebuilding the EU along these lines, we can ensure its long-term survival, prosperity, and security and finally give it democratic legitimacy.
On the other hand, if European elites try to continue to force European “integration” down the throats of skeptical electorates, at the expense of EU member states’ sovereignty, this will only lead, in the long term, to the EU’s collapse. The peoples of Europe are already fed up with forced “integration” and have already begun to fight back against their elites’ attempt to deprive them of their sovereignty.
European elites would be wise to keep these facts in mind.
I am the greatest; I said that before I even knew I was.
– Muhammad Ali
The year 2016 is drawing to a close. Today, we all think about the year that has gone by and about all that’s happened in our lives and in the world during the last 366 days. But today, on the last day of this year, I’d like to offer a different approach : a look back at the last eight years and how my analyses, factual statements, warnings, and policy blueprints have proven right, time and again.
To cite but a few examples :
- I warned the public many times that the Obama administration’s myopic, singular focus on “counterinsurgency” wars and neglect of preparedness of conventional warfare would significantly weaken the US military and leave it ill-prepared for the threats posed by peer competitors (hostile states), such as Russia and China. These warnings have proven exactly right, as more and more policymakers and US military leaders have admitted, although belatedly. China and Russia have, by now, closed the gap with the US by most measures of US military power and have some weapon types and capabilities that the US simply doesn’t even have. Worse still, they are ahead of America in the development of the next generation of cutting edge military hardware, such as hypersonic arms, microwave and electromagnetic weapons, stealthy AIP submarines, unmanned submarines, and so forth.
- I warned that the New START treaty was essentially about disarming America unilaterally, while Russia would not uphold its part of the deal and would only grow its nuclear arsenal (as Russian officials had overtly pledged at the time of its ratification). Arms control afficionados refused to believe this (and still do – they are still in denial about Russia’s massive nuclear buildup, which they insist is merely a “temporary fluctuation”), and so did the Obama administration. But since 2011, Russia has built its strategic deployed nuclear arsenal up to 1 796 warheads and is still growing it, while the US has unilaterally cut its own to just 1 367 warheads. If Russian leaders mean what they say, the Russian nuclear arsenal will grow considerably further in the years ahead – for example, they say they’ll add 50 Tu-160 strategic bombers to the Russian Air Force’s inventory.
- In general, I warned that unilateral disarmament measures by the West would utterly fail to encourage others, like Russia, China, and North Korea, to follow suit. I was right : Moscow and Beijing have greatly increased their arsenals, while North Korea has mastered the art of warhead miniaturization, constructed a reliable atmospheric reentry vehicle, and built an ICBM which, when tested and perfected, will be able to deliver nuclear warheads to the Continental US.
- I warned that a retreat by the US to ‘noninterventionism’ (which is an euphemism for ‘isolationism’) would only lead to a reduction of US influence in the world in favor of other, hostile state powers. And indeed, America’s reluctance to use force in Syria and its general withdrawal from the Middle East has only paved the way for Russia to step in and become the kingmaker in the region.
- I warned that the UK would be committing economic suicide if it decided to withdraw from the European Union because, among other reasons : a) the EU’s Single Market is still far more important than any other to British exports; b) other trade partners would not make up for its importance until decades from now. And indeed, major non-EU countries are in no hurry to sign any trade agreements with Britain; some of them even outline unrelated-to-trade conditions of such deals (e.g. India wants Britain to accept many more of its students). As for China, the NYT has calculated that Britain’s trade with it would have to grow by at least 10% each year for the next 15 years in order to replace the vast EU export market. Only 3% of Britain’s exports go to China; 44% still go to the EU. China’s top priority right now is opening the EU’s vast SIngle Market to its products wider, by obtaining the status of a market economy from the European Commission; making trade arrangements with a mid-sized country like the UK is a mere afterthought for Beijing. Making matters worse, since the Brexit referendum on June 23rd, the British pound has fallen to its lowest value in 31 years. Everything the Brits import became much more expensive as a result, and they make less for everything they sell. It’s essentially as if every Brit got a pay cut.
I could go on and on, but these examples sufficiently illustrates who, over the last eight years, has demonstrated expertise on defense and geopolitical issues, and who has turned out to be totally unqualified to pontificate about them.
This blog is far and away the best, most reliable non-partisan website about defense issues anywhere on the Net, bar none.
Happy New Year 2017, and let’s hope it will bring about positive changes for world security !