TBR News January 5, 2018

Jan 05 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 5, 2018:”No doubt Trump is furious about the Wolff book but by making an enormous, public, eruption about it will only guarantee enormous sales. Trump threatened to shut NBC news down because he objected to their attitude towards him. This would be impossible. He demanded, via his lawyers, that the book be withdrawn. Again, this is impossible. Trump seems to delight in picking fights with anyone who disagrees with him and also to maliciously stir up controversies best left along. His objections to legalized marijuana is one example. Over 20 states have legalized this, to one degree or another, and the fact that a born-again Christian is Attorney General and thinks marijuana is evil merely shows that the Attorney General is a fool. Sessions comes from a state that produced the lunatic fanatic, Judge Moore and the people of Arkansis voted against him in the recent Senate election. The day of the religious fanatic is over and now we have to cope with an increasingly erratic President.Trump, acting on impulse, launched a military missile attack on Syrna because some idiot claimed that country was using nerve gas. It was not and as Syria is a sovereign country, attacking it is an act of war. The fear in upper military, and political, services is that Trump might try to launch an atomic attack on some irritant of the moment.”


Table of Contents

  • ‘Fire and Fury’ book on Trump White House goes on sale
  • Michael Wolff: Who is the ‘Fire and Fury’ author?
  • Reviewing Trump’s 2017 Foreign Policy Record
  • Trump’s mental health and why people are discussing it
  • ‘Trump has declared war on California’: state defiant as White House take aim
  • The American Void: Time for Germany to Learn to Lead
  • Murder from the air
  • Ankara tries to bury the hatchet with Berlin as Turkish-US ties disintegrate


‘Fire and Fury’ book on Trump White House goes on sale

Journalist and author Michael Wolff gained access to the Trump White House as a proverbial fly-on-the wall. He conducted scores of interviews, recording many, and watching the daily routine inside the White House.

January 5, 2018


President Donald Trump’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to author Michael Wolff and his publisher Henry Holt & Co., demanding they hold publication of the book.

Holt responded by accelerating the publication date to today, as opposed to next week.

Trump slammed the book, tweeting Thursday night that it’s full of “lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders slammed Wolff and said he never even interviewed the president. The claim was denied by Wolff who said “absolutely” he had spoken with Trump. His comments came during a Friday morning TV interview.

Ironically, Trump was one of his sources. Whether Trump “realized it was an interview or not, I don’t know, but it was certainly not off the record,” Wolff said of conversations he had with Trump before and after the inauguration in January 2017.Both sides have been defending their respective positions in dueling TV interviews Friday. During an itnerview on Fox News Sanders reiterated that Wolff never met the president.

Wolff never interviewed the president, she said, explaining that he “repeatedly begged to see the president” but was denied. Sanders also called Wolf “a guy who made up a lot of stories to try and sell books.”

More to come…


Michael Wolff: Who is the ‘Fire and Fury’ author?

Wolff’s expose on the Donald Trump presidency “Fire and Fury” shot to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list even before it was released. So who is the man behind the most-talked about book of the year?

January 5, 2018

by Bruce Konviser


After more than 40 years in journalism, Michael Wolff has become an overnight sensation with the publication of an expose of the Trump presidency.

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, paints a picture of a bumbling and dysfunctional White House under US President Donald Trump. Such is the interest the book has aroused, publication has been brought forward to Friday.

Just days ago, 64-year-old Wolff was little known outside of America’s media ecosystem, but his new book, dismissed by the White House as nothing more than “trashy tabloid fiction,” has already shot to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.

What’s his background?

Wolff was born in New Jersey; attended Columbia University in New York City and began his career working as a copy boy for the New York Times.

Nowadays, he is a contributor to USA Today, Vanity Fair and New York magazines, but has also written for GQ and the Hollywood Reporter among other publications.

Writing for the Hollywood Reporter, Wolff scored an interview with candidate Trump in June 2016. The cover featured a stern-looking Trump wearing mirrored sunglasses, and Trump apparently liked it. “Great cover!” Trump’s press assistant Hope Hicks emailed the author afterward, as Wolffe recalls in an extended article published Thursday in the Hollywood Reporter.

After Trump won the election that November, Wolff wrote to the White House and proposed writing an inside story, for future publication, ie, a book, using a proverbial fly-on-the-wall approach.

Has he written a book before?

Wolff has written at least half-a-dozen books. His first one was White Kids, published in 1979. But he’s probably best known, until now, for his 2008 profile of Rupert Murdoch, entitled: The Man Who Owns the News.

The media mogul was largely displeased with Wolff’s book, making it all the more puzzling why Trump granted him such wide latitude to roam the White House — watching the comings and goings, but also talking to people. He reportedly conducted some 200 interviews for the book, including with Trump, and recorded many of them.

How credible is Wolff? 

While Trump likes to label any news story he doesn’t like as “fake news,” Wolff has come under fire in the past from fellow journalists who have questioned his fidelity to the truth.

One of the more noted articles about Wolff is a 2004 profile by Michelle Cottle for The New Republic magazine, in which she writes:

“Even Wolff acknowledges that conventional reporting isn’t his bag. Rather, he absorbs the atmosphere and gossip swirling around him at cocktail parties, on the street, and especially during those long lunches.”

Still he has twice won the National Magazine award, including one for a series he wrote on the Iraq War in 2003.

What does Trump think about the book?

Not surprisingly, he is less than enamored. It is chock-a-block with startling assertions. And some of the most remarkable comments came from former White House Chief Strategist Steve  Bannon , who was dismissed over the summer amid ongoing internecine battles within the White House.

Trump reacted on Twitter, saying the book was fiction and reliant on fake sources.

I authorized Zero [sic] access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book,” Trump said. “Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and what happens to him and Sloppy Steve [referring to Bannon].”

Can Trump block publication?

Almost certainly not. His lawyer sent cease and desist letters to Wolff  and the publisher Henry Holt and Co. threatening legal action if the book was published. Rather than consider stopping publication, Holt decided to accelerate it, citing the book’s valuable contribution to public discourse.


Reviewing Trump’s 2017 Foreign Policy Record

Here’s a hint: It’s pretty abysmal.

January 3, 2018

by Daniel Larison

The American Conservative

The first year of the Trump administration saw much more than the continuity in U.S. foreign policy that many of us expected. Trump’s candidacy and then his election were greeted with alarm by almost everyone in the foreign policy establishment, with an overwhelming consensus that he stood for a so-called “isolationist” withdrawal from international affairs. This interpretation was a serious misreading of Trump’s rhetoric and led to the usual knee-jerk reflex to define anything that differed from post-Cold War foreign policy as an outright rejection of all international engagement. As Trump’s policies have shown, he is open to a kind of international engagement, but it is one that is heavily militarized and defined by zero-sum contests with adversaries and allies alike.

Trump is not interested in disentangling the United States from foreign conflicts. Instead, he continues and expands them, as well as stoking new crises that could erupt into conflict. Trump is easily persuaded to accept conventional foreign policy positions so long as they are the more aggressive alternatives available. When he does break from consensus views, he does so in a unilateral and nationalist fashion that repudiates diplomatic compromises, rejects the legacy of his predecessor, and panders to some of his core constituencies at home.

As 2018 begins, America is now even more deeply involved in the multiple wars that Trump inherited from Obama. There are a growing number of U.S. forces in Syria, more American soldiers have been sent to Afghanistan to continue our longest war, and U.S. backing for the Saudi-led war on Yemen has ratcheted up as well. In each case, Trump has signed off on increased U.S. involvement. There is evidence that the number of Americans fighting in Afghanistan will increase in the coming year, and U.S. forces operating in Syria are set to remain there indefinitely. U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition is even greater than it was under Obama, and there is no sign that it will be reduced anytime soon. Unfortunately, the one thing Trump refuses to abandon are the wars that Obama bequeathed to him.

Tensions with Iran and North Korea have both increased over the last year, and in both cases the Trump administration is to blame. Between the travel ban, the decertification of the nuclear deal, bombing Syrian government forces in the spring, belligerent speeches at the U.N. and elsewhere, and an overall regional policy defined by unremitting hostility towards Iran, Trump has mishandled relations with Tehran about as badly as a new president can. If he next reneges on U.S. commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Trump will risk creating a new crisis over Iran’s nuclear program. If the nuclear deal does fall apart, the risk of war with Iran would significantly increase.

Considering how poorly Trump has managed issues related to Iran, it is remarkable that his handling of a much more sensitive and potentially explosive situation in the Korean Peninsula has been even worse. For most of the last year, Trump has answered North Korean provocations with bellicose rhetoric and reckless threats, and repeatedly dismissed the possibility of entering into talks with Pyongyang to reduce tensions. He and his national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, have been talking down the possibility of deterring North Korea and instead insisting on an impossible goal of denuclearization. Senior members of the Trump administration bizarrely seem to believe they can take military action against North Korea without it escalating into a major war. On this issue, the one where Trump most needs to be reined in by his advisors, it appears he’s instead being egged on by them. There is a much greater chance of war with North Korea today than there has been in decades. The current administration has helped bring this about, and alarmingly it doesn’t seem to have sunk in with members of Congress or the public.

As we look ahead to 2018, the picture is not at all encouraging for those interested in peace and restraint. The danger that the U.S. may foolishly plunge into at least one new avoidable war is greater than it has been perhaps since the period leading up to the Iraq invasion in 2002. It will be up to members of Congress and the public to keep the administration from committing such a monumental blunder.


Trump’s mental health and why people are discussing it

January 5, 2018


The release of a new book about the Trump presidency has reignited debate about whether or not the US president is mentally ill.

A debate that has existed since before he took office, it has now reached fever pitch, moving from allegations of clinical narcissism to speculation that his brainpower may be decreasing with age or dementia.

What are people saying?

In his book, Fire and Fury, journalist Michael Wolff writes that President Donald Trump is showing worsening signs of mental decline.

“Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions,” he writes in Hollywood Reporter.

“It used to be inside of 30 minutes he’d repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories – now it was within 10 minutes.”

Mr Trump has blasted the book, calling it “full of lies”.

Mr Wolff adds his voice to those of various psychologists who have spoken out publicly about the symptoms they purport to see in Mr Trump.

Several books came out on the topic within months of the Trump inauguration: The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump by Bandy X Lee; Twilight of American Sanity by Allen Frances and Fantasyland by Kurt Andersen.

Dr Lee, who is a psychiatry professor at Yale, told a group of mostly-Democrat senators last month that Mr Trump was “going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs”.

Why would it matter?

In theory it could cost Mr Trump his job.

Under the 25th amendment to the US Constitution, if the president is deemed to be “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”, the vice-president takes over. His cabinet and the vice-president together would need to kick-start the process, so it’s unlikely to happen, but increasing numbers of voices seem to be clamouring for it.

Has anything like this happened before?

Yes – presidents have suffered from mental ill health going right back to Abraham Lincoln, whose clinical depression prompted several breakdowns.

More recently Ronald Reagan, who was president from 1981 to 1989, suffered confusion and seemed unsure of where he was at times – he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years after he left office.

The 25th amendment has never been used to depose a sitting president.

Is this debate fair?

Well, there’s the question. When the debate reared its head before, Dr Frances said it was unfair to people suffering from mental illnesses.

“Bad behaviour is rarely a sign of mental illness, and the mentally ill behave badly only rarely,” he said.

“It is a stigmatising insult to the mentally ill (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Mr Trump (who is neither).”

Others have echoed this, with one columnist saying the debate would “make people with mental-health needs more likely to stay closeted”.

But professionals who have given their opinion on Mr Trump’s psychological state say they have done so in order to warn the nation.

In speaking out they have in fact broken their industry’s own ethics – the decades-old Goldwater Rule prohibits psychiatrists from giving diagnosis about someone they have not personally evaluated.

Given the rule against diagnosing from afar, some argue that there should be a system in place for diagnosing Mr Trump up close.

“A president could be actively hallucinating,” writes the Atlantic, “threatening to launch a nuclear attack based on intelligence he had just obtained from David Bowie, and the medical community could be relegated to speculation from afar.”

In fact there is a law in the works for a committee to be required to assess the president’s health – the Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity (OCPC) Act.

And despite the amount of space given to the topic of the president’s mental health, many commentators recoil from it. Carlos Lozada writes in the Washington Post: “There is something too simple about dismissing his misdeeds as signs of mental illness; it almost exonerates him, and us.”

“If we don’t like someone’s politics we rail against him, we campaign against him, we don’t use the psychiatric system against him,” writes former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, saying that is “just dangerous”.

He said that people who thought the 25th Amendment would end the Trump presidency were putting “hope over reality”.Only a “major psychotic break” would result in that, he said.

So what’s the evidence with Mr Trump?

In the past, some suggested that Mr Trump had Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

People with this condition often show some of the following characteristics, according to Psychology Today:

  • Grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people and a need for admiration
  • They believe they are superior or may deserve special treatment
  • They seek excessive admiration and attention, and struggle with criticism or defeat

But the man who wrote the diagnostic criteria for NPD, Allen Frances, said a lack of obvious distress stopped him from saying Mr Trump had the condition.

“Mr Trump causes severe distress rather than experiencing it and has been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy,” he wrote.

  • Experts debate Trump’s mental health

Now, though, people have moved on to discussing whether Mr Trump might be suffering from cognitive decline.

They point to his repetition of stories, as mentioned in Mr Wolff’s new book, and to the way he speaks.

When neurological experts compared clips of Mr Trump in the past with more recent footage, they found his manner of speaking had totally changed. In the past he spoke in long and complicated sentences, following thoughts through and using long adjectives while in more recent clips, he used fewer and shorter words, missed words out, rambled, and was more likely to use superlatives like “the best”.

This could be due to a neurological condition like Alzheimer’s, the experts said, or it could be a symptom of nothing more sinister than age.

Those who say the president is concealing cognitive decline point to a few other incidences where he seemed not to have full control over his own movements. There was one instance in December where he was giving a speech and lifted a glass, awkwardly, with both hands.

During another speech, he slurred through some of his words, which the White House blamed on a dry throat but some said could be a sign of something more serious.

Motor function is driven by the brain’s frontal lobe, which loses volume with age but also gets affected by a specific, relatively rare, type of dementia.

According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, frontotemporal dementia has symptoms including “acting inappropriately or impulsively”, “appearing selfish or unsympathetic”, “overeating”, “getting distracted easily” and “struggling to make the right sounds when saying a word”.

Next week the president will undergo his first medical examination – a physical – since taking office.

How are Republicans responding to the debate?

“It’s disgraceful and laughable,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press spokeswoman.

“If he was unfit, he probably wouldn’t be sitting there, wouldn’t have defeated the most qualified group of candidates the Republican Party has ever seen.”

But others have been more forthright. Following in the footsteps of Jeb Bush’s assertion during the race for the presidency that “the guy needs therapy”, Tennessee senator Bob Corker said in August that Mr Trump had not demonstrated the “stability” he needed for the role.

There was only one Republican lawmaker at the Bandy X Lee talk earlier this month – he or she has not yet been identified.


‘Trump has declared war on California’: state defiant as White House take aim

Battle lines between liberal politicians and the president intensified this week as Trump’s administration targeted cannabis, immigrants and the environment

Jeff Sessions to crack down on legalized marijuana

Januafy 5, 2018

by Sam Levin in San Francisco

The Guardian

In the first hours of 2018, Californians toasted with “Happy New Year blunts” and marijuana gummies, celebrating the launch of the largest legal pot market in the world.

Three days later, Donald Trump’s administration announced a policy that could allow US prosecutors to target legal marijuana operations and undermine California’s massive cannabis movement.

“There should be no doubt that President Trump has officially declared war on California,” state senate leader Kevin de León told the Guardian on Thursday after the US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, rescinded an Obama-era policy that opened the door for states to legalize marijuana.

The federal government’s war on the Golden State – which overwhelmingly rejected the president in 2016 and has become a liberal leader in the anti-Trump resistance – has intensified in recent days with the administration threatening California’s immigrants, world-famous coastal shores, taxpayers and weed smokers.

The political warfare by Trump, who reportedly holds deep grudges and is said to be obsessed with his electoral wins and losses, has the potential to cause havoc and destroy livelihoods in the state of California, the world’s sixth largest economy.

“These are bullying tactics of the Trump administration,” said Barbara Lee, a congresswoman in northern California who has protested against the president since his inauguration. “We are not going to tolerate it. We are going to fight back.”

To some progressive leaders, the most terrifying threat this week came on Tuesday when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) promised to “significantly increase” the number of deportation officers in the state in direct response to California’s new “sanctuary state” law, which is meant to limit local police cooperation with Ice and protect immigrants.

“California better hold on tight,” acting director Thomas Homan told Fox News, later suggesting that sanctuary jurisdictions are breaking federal laws. Some interpreted his comments as an outrageous threat to arrest and prosecute Democratic politicians.

Saira Hussain, an attorney with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, which recently challenged Ice over its ongoing raids against Cambodian Americans in California, said: “It’s really alarming to see such an authoritarian streak coming from this administration.”

Of the potential prosecution of officials, she added, “It’s just such a gross violation of the constitution.”

In September, the Trump administration boasted about targeted raids in sanctuary cities, drawing widespread criticisms that Ice was ripping apart families with a retaliatory program. A larger-scale enforcement effort could be devastating in California, which is home to more than two million undocumented people

Ice declined to comment on whether it plans to prosecute politicians, but an official said in an email, “Ice and DoJ [the Department of Justice] are working collaboratively to explore any and all potential options for holding sanctuary jurisdictions accountable for their dangerous practices.”

The threat alone spreads the false narrative that undocumented people are dangerous, Hussain added: “When there is talk about deporting whole swaths of our communities, it does create massive amounts of fears.”

Sessions’ threat of a cannabis crackdown dampened the festive mood in California, where the new law allows for retail shops and makes it legal for adults to possess and grow pot. The policy shift by Sessions – who once said he admired the KKK until he found out they smoked marijuana – would give US attorneys, who are appointed by the president, discretion to enforce federal marijuana prohibition laws.

“They don’t have the ability to stop legalization, but they do have the ability to hurt a lot of people in the process,” said Tamar Todd, legal affairs director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which helped pass California’s law.

Some view California legalization as the point of no return for national reform, which may be motivating Sessions, Todd said.

De León, who is running for US Senate, said the move seemed political: “This is Jeff Sessions trying to impose his 1950s worldview on the people of California.”

Lee, noting that marijuana laws disproportionately targeted black Americans and fueled mass incarceration, added: “Jeff Sessions really is a poster boy for institutional racism.”

On Thursday, the Trump administration also announced a plan that would open almost all US offshore territory to oil and gas drilling, including the coastal waters of California, sparking further backlash from leaders on the west coast.

Trump’s tax bill is also on track to hurt California residents due to a change in property tax law that is detrimental to states with high taxes and costs of living.

Keith Kolb, a 57-year-old San Francisco resident, said a Trump war on California weed would further unite angry voters.

“It has brought a lot of people together to fight against this administration,” said Kolb, adding that other states will support legalization once they see the tax revenues. “The rest of the country will follow and say we want some of that.”


The American Void: Time for Germany to Learn to Lead

Washington’s move to abandon its global leadership role marks the end of Germany’s foreign policy innocence. Berlin will soon be faced with difficult choices that could dent its moral standing.

January 5, 2018

by Christiane Hoffmann


It is often a single sentence that goes down in history, one that epitomizes an idea, a movement, an era or a personality. Two sentences from Angela Merkel come to mind. One, focused on domestic politics, was an entreaty: “We can do it.” It was a pledge and a plea to all Germans in the face of the huge influx of Syrian refugees who entered Germany in 2015.

The other, focused on foreign policy, was earthshaking. “The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over,” Merkel said on May 28 during an appearance in Munich. She did everything she could to make the sentence seem as offhand and trivial as possible. She wasn’t speaking in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin — she was at a festival in Munich, the smell of beer hanging in the air. She hemmed and hawed, she relativized, toned down her language and spoke of “others,” even though it was clear that she was referring to the United States.

Still, the sheer impact of her words was undeniable. The German chancellor had essentially announced the end of an alliance that had guaranteed Germany’s security for half a century and shaped its politics and values. When she made the statement in May, Germany was in the middle of an election campaign, which informed the manner in which it was interpreted and discounted. Even today, its radicality has been largely ignored — perhaps because to do otherwise would be too painful or unsettling. Germans prefer to avoid such introspection. The U.S. remains our most important partner, government officials are fond of saying, and the NATO alliance is still intact. That may be true. But for how much longer?

International Newsletter

Germany has been busy with its own affairs since May, when its election campaign started in earnest ahead of a September vote that has yet to produce a new government. But once Berlin again has a governing coalition capable of conducting international affairs, it will face circumstances that have changed dramatically. The liberal world order that the United States spent seven decades building is disintegrating. The U.S., meanwhile, is withdrawing from the global stage on three different fronts: militarily, morally and a key leader of the international community. It is withdrawing from its role as a reliable guarantor of European security, as a shaper of global policy and as the leading power of the free West. What does a future hold without the U.S. at the helm? What does a future hold when the most important constant of German foreign policy is no longer there? What will a future look like if all countries seek to emulate “America First?”

For Germany, it means the end of what has essentially been a sheltered foreign policy, one in which others have often made the most difficult decisions for us. In recent years, Germany has shown a greater willingness to take on the responsibility commensurate with a country that is the most economically powerful and populous in Europe. Thus far, however, Germany has preferred reaction over (pro)action, as seen in Ukraine and the euro crisis.

For years, Germany was able to get away with a foreign policy that didn’t call for it to assume much responsibility. West German sovereignty was limited and German reserve was understandable for historical reasons. The divided country was also too small to play a role in international politics. Looking ahead, though, Germany will have to lead. But where to? The most radical consequence of the new state of global affairs is that Germans now have to become clear about what it is that they want. That may sound banal, but it isn’t.

Germany’s global abstinence has permitted it to have the luxury of basing its foreign policy largely on values, while others took care of the realpolitik dirty work. Merkel’s refugee policies, which placed humanitarian principles over the cohesion of the European Union, is only the most radical example of this German tradition. The new global situation will also mean a departure from the good Germany. When principles collide with pragmatism, when values clash with interests, Berlin will be forced to make difficult decisions. But how far should we go? What means are we prepared to employ in order to defend Europe, to bring the Middle East closer to peace or to stabilize Africa?


German foreign policy experts are still debating how radically the estrangement between the U.S. and Europe has become. Atlanticists are calling for optimism, even though Trump, so far, has served to affirm the worries of the pessimists. They continue to cling to the illusion that, Trump aside, trans-Atlantic relations are actually still entirely intact. They see the U.S. president as a painful, but temporary illness. They believe that once America returns to health, the status quo will return to trans-Atlantic relations.

The problem with that view, however, is that America’s retreat from its role as a shaper of global politics began before Trump — and it won’t end with his departure, either. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel went even further in reiterating Merkel’s beer-tent sentiments in an important foreign policy speech a few weeks ago in which he stated that Germany might also have to get by without America if need be.


What does it mean when the U.S. abandons its global leadership role? The idea that Germany might assume that role was nonsense from the beginning. The notion that the German chancellor would step in as the leader of the free world and that Germany, as actor and philanthropist Richard Gere put it, would be the “wise, stable, forward-thinking moral country on the planet” was the desperate hope of a handful of American romantics. They flattered Germany and fueled the naïve illusion that values can be upheld without having to defend them.

Germany may view itself as a major moral power, but politically and economically, we’re not nearly strong enough — and militarily, we possess only moderately equipped armed forces without any nuclear deterrent.

Furthermore, Germany’s inability to form a governing coalition this fall and winter has shown that Berlin is not immune to the crisis of liberal democracy. Germany cannot rescue the West but, together with France, it could do a lot more in Europe and its backyard than it has previously done. Four years ago, Joachim Gauck and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s president and foreign minister at the time, both called for such a focus four years ago, saying that Germany must act “earlier, more decisively and more substantially.”


In his works, the German historian Heinrich August Winkler has described the triumph of the West, its values and its ideas. But even he has been at a loss since America ceased upholding these values. His most recent book, “Is the West Crumbling?” can’t even answer the question it asks. Winkler has become a chronicler of an historical even that he is no longer able to interpret.

The crisis of the West is particularly painful for Germany. The country’s long journey to the West described by Winkler ended as the West’s decline began, like some train that has arrived at a station that has just been decommissioned.

As the West’s position of power eroded, it’s claims of moral leadership only grew louder. This divergence was particularly apparent to those watching from outside of Europe. There, the West had long since been viewed as presumptuous and arrogant. It was a tone they didn’t care for, and they reacted with rejection and defiance.

Authoritarian systems have now entered into open rivalry with the West, pitting their models against ours. The narrative — disseminated by China, above all — is one of efficient, benevolent half-dictators who promise prosperity and progress in contrast to cumbersome, inefficient and crisis-plagued democracies.


Europe must stand up for its values. To that end, it would be helpful if it changed its attitude and tone and shed its arrogance, shifting away from gestures of finger-pointing and rebuke. Europe must allow its virtues to speak for themselves. It has to stand its ground in the competition with other societal models. With Emmanuel Macron at the helm of France, we now have an opportunity to make Europe attractive again.

One of the favorite bits of wisdom adhered to by Merkelism is that politics begins with observing reality. But that’s not so easy these days. Germany’s foreign policy lacks a strategic approach that describes, analyzes and shows possibilities. So long as the most critical coordinates had already been set, Germany didn’t have to think so critically. Others used to do this for us, but those times have passed. A few years back, the Foreign Ministry set in motion a review process and the Defense Ministry also began working on a new policy “white book.” That’s all fine and good, but it doesn’t go far enough. Germany needs more foreign policy minds who in turn have greater influence. The smartest thinkers in politics should not be entering the corporate sector as many have done. They should instead be going to foundations and think tanks.

It’s also no longer sufficient for each nation to plan and think for itself. If Berlin and Paris want to lead together, then they will also need to think together. The German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Germany’s most important foreign policy think tank, recently proposed the creation of a joint German-French “white book.” That, at least, would be a start.


Values and interests aren’t mutually exclusive by default. It’s in Germany’s interest to promote rule of law, human rights, multilateralism and the adherence to global agreements. Even so, it can still be necessary to accept limitations to achieve foreign policy goals. German foreign policy must weigh morals and interests against each other. For example: The EU Association Agreement with Ukraine represented a sovereign decision by Kiev to link itself more closely with the European Union. But was it in the European interest given the ultimate cost — a war in Ukraine and a row with Russia? In the end, the unwillingness to budge served neither Ukraine nor the EU.

Another example: Was it right to insist to Britain that the principle of freedom of movement was non-negotiable, thus paving the way for the Brexiteers? Surely the free movement of labor forces is a central principle of the single market. But out of fear that the principle would be abandoned, there was never even a discussion over whether a compromise could be made.

Yet another example: In the conflict over Catalonia’s quest for independence, Germany and the EU have held strictly to the principle of not intervening in a member state’s domestic politics. But it would indeed be in Europe’s interest if Berlin or Brussels — or whoever — could find a way to serve as an intermediary between Madrid and Barcelona.

Part of our consideration has to be accepting things that we do not have the power to change. Germany must prepare for the fact that democratic developments are unlikely in Russia in the foreseeable future. And yet we still need policies that bind Russia and Turkey to Europe. In the Middle East, we need to come to an understanding with a Russia that has filled the void left by the U.S. And when it comes to China, we need a European policy that limit’s Beijing’s influence.

And, finally, there’s Poland. The question could soon rise there about what’s more important? That Poland remains in the European Union or that it complies completely with the principles of rule of law. It may be unrealistic to expect both. In such a situation, it might be in Germany’s interest to ensure that the Eastern Europeans remain in the EU, even if they do not conform to its standards on every value.

Germany will have to endure these conflicts in the future while at the same time making decisions that could be decisive. It’s a mistake that there is little in terms of honest discussion about them. We should have much sharper debates — and they should be as pointed as they are public. Instead, however, German politics is still focused on the illusion of being a moral power. If Germany wants to lead, then it also needs to have a realistic view of the world. The era of foreign policy innocence has passed.


Murder from the air

January 5, 2018

by Christian Jürs

In World War II approximately 593,000  German civilians were killed by Allied air raids. From July 1944 to January 1945, an average of 13,536 people were killed every month. In Hamburg alone about 50,000 civilians were killed by Allied bombing, and in Berlin about 50,000. During a single attack carried out at night from February 1st to 14th 1945, more than 200,000 civilians were killed in Dresden

When people think of the Allied bombing of Germany, “Dresden” automatically springs to mind, surely not Wesel, Nürnberg or Würzburg or the hundreds of other obliterated German towns and cities.

While British and American post war claims about the actual total of civilian dead in the Dresden terror raid (pious Allied claims are “at least 20,000 dead” while the actual total was 220,000 dead) attention is deliberately diverted from the 50,000 civilians murdered in the bombing of Hamburg, the 10,000 people intentionally burned alive in Kassel, the fact that 20% of Nordhausen’s civilian population was killed in a mere fifteen minute attack or that one out of three Pforzheimers was murdered and thousands more hideously injured from an unnecessary bombing based on nothing more that a rumor.

Since the end of the secnd world war, the public has been led to believe that the Allied bombings delivered on Germany were a legitimate response to an equal number of bombings Germany was delivering on Britain, and the only images of wartime bombings we were (and are) exposed to were those carried out by Germany, mainly of the Blitz.

Upon its declaration of war against Germany, Britain immediately launched an offensive bombing campaign: on the Kiel Canal, Sept. 3, 1939; On Wilhelmshaven, Sept. 4, 1939; on Helgoland, Dec. 3, 1939; On Mönchengladbach, May 19-11, 1940, all without provocation.

In short, the bombing of civilians, prohibited by the Geneva Convention, was begun by the British and intensified under Churchill.

In reality, Germany bombed Britain with a mere five percent of the tonnage that Britain dropped on Germany, and more British bombs fell upon the city of Berlin alone than German bombs fell on the whole of Britain during the entire war.

The targeting of residential Hamburg was a calculated, well-planned mass murder of civilians, and British and US bombers killed over a hundred times as many civilians in that one event as Britons died from the German raid on the heavily defended, major industrial center of Coventry, England, which resulted in the loss of around 400 civilian lives.

Initial RAF bombing of military targets was dangerously unsuccessful.

Only one out of five bombs reached within five miles of its intended target and nearly half of British bombers were being shot down. Therefore, Churchill was already ruthlessly studying the idea of terror-bombing city centers instead.

Contrary to prolific post-war denials, in September 1941, deputy chief of the Air Staff Norman Bottomley urged “saturation by incendiaries” to “break the morale of the population.” His superior, Charles Portal, boasted to Winston Churchill in late 1941 that if Bomber Command was provided with a force of 4,000 planes, huge damage could be inflicted on Germany, including the destruction of six million homes and “civilian casualties estimated at 900,000.”

In 1941, Portal wrote: “We have caused death and injury to 93,000 civilians. The result was achieved with a fraction of the bomb-load we hope to employ in 1943.” By early 1942, there were open suggestions that bombing be directed against German working-class houses, leaving factories and military objectives alone. This policy was implemented in full in 1942 when, upon his taking over the entire U.K. Bomber Command, Arthur Harris issued the following directive: “It has been decided that the primary objective of your operations should now be focused on the morale of the enemy civil population and in particular, of industrial workers.” Harris prepared a list of 60 German cities he intended to destroy first:

The aim is the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers and the disruption of civilised community life through-out Germany. It should be emphasised that the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives; the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale; and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy, they are not by-products of attempts to hit factories.”

The first well-known, intentional cultural attack of a historic city was the RAF bombing attack on Lübeck on Palm Sunday, March 28, 1942. This attack by over 200 heavy bombers was ordered by Harris, not to destroy military targets in Germany, but as an experiment to test whether bombing timber-framed buildings could start an inferno large enough to be used as an easy aiming point for later waves of bombers.

In his words: “I wanted my crews to be well-blooded, as they say in fox hunting, to have a taste of success for a change.” It destroyed 80% of the city’s historic timber-framed core.

As early as 1942, 45,732 tons of bombs were dropped on Germany by the RAF, and even at that early stage, only 4% of them were aimed at industrial targets or ports! The rest were squarely aimed at city centers and civilians, not because their weapons were “inaccurate” or “unsophisticated” but because it was planned.

Allied bombing would be killing thousands of German civilians a day by the later stages of the war because of this homicidal, morally corrupt and largely unsuccessful policy.

U.S. commanders were at first opposed to the RAF bombing policy, and when they began bombing runs over Germany in 1943, it was mutually agreed that the U.S.A.A.F would carry out daytime raids on military and industrial targets, and the RAF would conduct the nighttime ‘area’ bombing of civilian population centers.

Nonetheless, the US joined the British and Canadians to bomb Hamburg in  “Operation Gomorrah” and in several later civilian bombings.

The destruction of Hamburg came on the night of July 27, 1943 and followed a smaller bombing three days earlier. In this second attack, a mix of munitions was used which had a higher proportion of incendiaries, including deadly phosphorus. It was here, not Dresden, that term ‘Feuersturm,’ or firestorm, was first used, and at least 220,000 civilians were intentionally murdered in an agonizing manner in a well-crafted firestorm that corralled the population, leaving them no escape.

The heinous ten day long firebombing not only murdered thousands, it left a million people homeless and the historic ancient city wholly obliterated.

An astounding 30,000 of those killed in Hamburg were women and children. 1.2 million refugees fled the city in the immediate aftermath.

The choreographed inferno circled the city and spread inward, creating a swirling column of super-heated air which generated ferocious 150 mile per hour tornado-like winds capable of snatching up small children and plucking babies from their mother’s arms.

People were fried to the melting pavement or slowly choked by poison gases in cellars. At the same time the US military denied to the American public that any terror-bombing was taking place, they were qjuickly supplying the British with the napalm-like phosphorous to burn German civilians alive.

The chemical cannot be extinguished once ablaze, and these bombs sprayed their contents on people in such a way that a horrible death was the inevitable outcome.

With Hamburg, the world media, starting in London, turned the mass murder of German civilian populations into an “acceptable” and “legitimate” method of war, and RAF bombing runs would often be blithely referred to as “Hamburgisations” by their crews from then on.

Aside from the “normal” terror-bombings, cities incinerated by these fiendishly crafted firestorms included Dresden, Wuppertal, Hamburg, Remscheid, Kassel, Braunschweig, Kaiserslautern, Saarbrücken, Darmstadt, Stuttgart, Heilbronn, Ulm, Pforzheim, Mainz, Würzburg and Hildesheim, all suffering immense civilian casualties. 10,000 died in Kassel’s firestorm.

Darmstadt, a harmless classic center of German culture, produced less than two-tenths of one percent of Germany’s total war production, yet, a minimum of ten percent of Darmstadt’s population died as a result of the intentional firestorm vested upon them.

Pforzheim lost one-third of its people.

Wurzberg was 89% destroyed with 90,000 people left homeless and 5,000 civilian deaths with women and children making up 81 percent of that figure.

From July 1944 to January 1945, a low average of 14,000 German civilians, not including countless undocumented refugees, were killed from bombings every month in just the western German areas.

While the US helped destroy some German cities, the RAF Bomber Command killed three German civilians for every one killed by the U.S.

During the first six months of 1944, out of each 1,000 RAF bomber crews who had flown missions during that period, 712 were reported killed or missing and 175 were wounded, an astounding 89 percent casualty rate.

British Chief of the Air Staff Charles Portal was promoted to marshal of the RAF in June of that year by an overjoyed Churchill. Even more zealous than Harris, and although much of Germany was in ruins already, Portal strongly argued for using his hugely increased bomber force to not only continue to carry out its murderous precision bombing, but to even more indiscriminately “area bomb” cities into total and complete oblivion, confident that this would lead to “victory” within six months.

In February, 1945, Portal was present at the Yalta Conference which laid the blueprint for the deaths and relocation of millions of German civilians in the east.

Even in January 1945, when German defeat was clearly imminent, Harris and Portal further advocated even more destruction being visited upon Leipzig, Magdeburg, Chemnitz, Dresden, Breslau, Posen, Halle, Erfurt, Gotha, Weimar, Eisenach, and the rest of Berlin, in other words, all points refugees were flocking to.

Part of the impetus of the British plan named “Operation Thunderclap” was to target the sorry lot of frantic refugees fleeing from the Red Army, millions of terrified people who had already suffered immensely. “Thunderclap,” in the words of a British bombing operations directorate in January 1945, promised to adhere to “the basic principle of true morale bombing,” which was “to provoke a state of terror by air attack.”

Bomber Command was ordered to attack the anticipated destinations in order to, in their own words, “cause confusion in the evacuation from the east,” referring not to retreating troops, but to these civilian refugees (and only secondarily to “hamper the movements of troops from the west”).

When ordering the bombing of Chemnitz following the destruction of Dresden, the Allied commander stated the motive to his pilots: “The reason you are going there tonight is to finish off the refugees who managed to escape Dresden.”

Women, children and the elderly refugees were now to be shot at and incinerated under the approved guidelines which both the British and Americans had set in place and implemented to eliminate the future “refugee problem” for their Soviet allies.

The Associated Press finally admitted that “the Allied air commanders have made the long-awaited decision to adopt deliberate terror-bombing of the great German population centers.” General Carl Spaatz, U.S. Strategic Air Force commander in Europe, concocted Operation “Clarion” in February 1945, targeting smaller towns “to spread the impact on the population,” and although he was urged not to by other figures of the Eighth Air Force in Europe, Spaatz got his way.

By February 3, 1945, Berlin was attacked again in bombing orchestrated by Spaatz, this time killing another 25,000 people, including thousands more undocumented refugees.

City after city was destroyed well after Germany’s doom was obvious, and under “Operation Clarion” smaller towns and cities were incinerated under the flimsiest of pretexts. Nürnberg was attacked because it was an “ideological” center, and likewise, Bayreuth and other small, old and undefended cities.

American President Roosevelt stated “We have got to be tough with Germany and I mean the German people, not just the Nazis. You either have to castrate the German people or you have got to treat them in such a manner so they can’t just go on reproducing people who want to continue the way they have in the past.”

This was Roosevelt’s attitude, and it was echoed by Winston Churchill: “You must understand that this war is not against Hitler or National Socialism, but against the strength of the German people, which is to be smashed once and for all, regardless of whether it is in the hands of Hitler or a Jesuit priest.”

Centuries-old castles, cathedrals and medieval villages were needlessly destroyed at this late stage.

The birth houses of Bach, Durer and Goethe, Martin Luther landmarks, Leipzig’s ancient book district, libraries and universities were all targets. Allied bombing destroyed well over one third of all German books as its universities and libraries and museums were unnecessarily obliterated (not including those in German lands taken away!).

Towns with no military significance and having little or nothing to do with the war effort were simply blown away at this point in devastating attacks on vulnerable civilian populations.

The mounting devastation of European heritage had already been raised in vain in British parliament by the Bishop of Chichester on February 9, 1944. The Bishop begged for a more humane approach: “In the fifth year of the war it must be apparent to any but the most complacent and reckless how far the destruction of European culture has already gone. We ought to think once, twice and three times before destroying the rest.”

His words fell on deaf ears and he was ruthlessly vilified.

There were abysmal British losses from the time Arthur Harris took charge of the expanded bombing operations until the end of war, yet Harris only allowed 26 per cent of Bomber Command’s attacks to be directed against Germany’s remaining oil facilities between January and May of 1945, while he fanatically continued to concentrate his resources on civilian area bombing, a policy which not only murdered thousands more civilians unnecessarily, but killed hundreds of his own men as well.

In March of 1945, after hundreds of German cities and towns lay in groaning, bloodied ruins, Churchill, ever the politician, disingenuously “distanced himself” from the homicidal bombing campaign after the destruction of Dresden at long last generated some unfavorable publicity.

He wrote that “the destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied Bombing.”

Even so, with the German military/industrial complexes already in ruins, the British and Americans compiled new “hit lists” which included wanton civilian attacks on mainly small, rural towns that had not yet been assaulted and whose populations were praying for peace.

In the vicinity of the great castle of Neuschwanstein, lies Ellingen, a small town in Bavaria which had 1,500 inhabitants, most of them farmers. Ellingen had nothing of military value to attack and was totally unprepared on February 23, 1945 when 25 American bombers dumped 285 high explosive bombs on the hamlet in a surprise attack which left 120 bomb craters and killed the town’s farm animals along with 98 villagers.

U.S. General Frederick Anderson, commanding officer of VIII Bomber Command, under General Eaker, explained that these late-stage terror-bombings were NOT carried out to shorten the war but rather to teach the Germans a lesson: “If Germany was struck all over it will be passed on, from father to son, thence to grandson, as a deterrent for the initiation of future wars.”

This sentiment can no longer excuse the fact that at the dismal end of war, countless thousands of innocent civilians were brazenly roasted alive and forced to watch their children die.

Lost were 3.5 million homes, leaving more than 20 million Germans homeless. Bombs destroyed 2,000 medieval houses in Frankfurt, 1,000 in Hildesheim, 1,000 in Nuremburg, 2,000 in Braunschweig and thousands of others elsewhere. Only three medieval German cities, Bamberg, Heidelberg and Göttingen, remained for the most part, intact.

It wiped out such architectural gems as the Baroque center and Archbishop’s Residenz in Wurzburg, the Residenz in Munich, the Hanseatic cities of Lubeck and Bremen, all of Dresden, the Prussian royal palaces at Potsdam and countless others.

Most major German town and cities suffered total destruction to their historic inner city areas of at least 90%: Augsburg, Aachen, Cologne, Leipzig, Dortmund, Stuttgart, Freiburg, Hamburg, Kassel, Magdeburg, Mannheim, Nürnberg, Worms, and many, many more. Again, this does not include the utter and complete devastation which occurred in the lost German lands.

The most intense bombing destruction occurred in the months of February and March 1945, just weeks prior to German surrender when German defenses were minimal or absent and the war was all but over. Over 80 million incendiary sticks were dropped on German cities by war’s end. The human death count may never be known, but to this day continues, inexplicably and unforgivably, to be intentionally lowered to an unbelievable and unrealistic level by whichever current formula is popular among conformist social scientists and easily digested by a public unwilling to give up their heroes.

But not only large cities had fallen victim to the Allies’ strategic bombing.

The medium-sized town of Nordhausen lost about 20% of its population in one night attack in May 1945, Pfortzheim lost 22%. Numerous cities, medium-sized towns and small towns had been the target of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the US-Air Force (USAAF), amongst them Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Essen, Bremen, Wilhelmshaven, Emden, Duisburg, Hamburg, Saarbrucken, Düsseldorf, Osnabrück, Mainz, Lübeck, Münster, Kassel, Cologne, Schweinfurt, Jena, Darmstadt, Krefeld, Leipzig, Dresden, Brunswick, Munich, Magdeburg, Aschersleben, Halberstadt, Chemnitz, Halle, Plauen, Dessau, Potsdam, Erfurt, but also towns like Cailsheim, Freudenstadt and Hildesheim.

Even small villages had no reason to feel safe. They were attacked too, either by accident, as substitutes for another target, or because of local industry, as in the case of the “Deutsche Gasolin AG”, an oil refinery in the village of Dollbergen , situated about 30 kilometers east of Hanover , with only about 1,400 inhabitants.

In Hanover nearly 250,000 people lost their housing in the night-attack from October 8th to 9th 1943. During that time Berlin counted approximately 400,000 homeless, and only a few months later, in March 1944, they counted almost 1.5 million.

Furthermore a large number of people had been indirectly affected by Allied air-assaults. Allied bomber squadrons crossed a number of cities and towns on their way to the target, causing air-alarms and people getting up in the middle of the night, heading to the bunker or cellar. In some cases people could watch the attack of another city or town nearby. Other towns and villages served as lodging for the evacuees. At the end of war, in West Germany alone, about 4 to 5 million people were still living in evacuation lodgings.

One is inclined to think that such a comprehensive bombing campaign was likely to have a most devastating effect on the enemy’s civil population. Eventually a significant effect on industrial production could be achieved, either by destruction of the production plants or by a negative physical and psychological effect on its labour. Civil devastation would result in civil unrest and public uprise against the Nazi regime. At least that was what the Allies were hoping for.

And yet Allied assaults had no significant effect on German production until the last year of the war. German industry, under the direction of Albert Speer,  unexpectedly counterbalanced the destruction of a number of their plants by a further increase in productivity.


Berlin June 1940 – April 1945 50,000 dead. Responsible: Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Eighth Air Force, French Air Force.

Cologne 30–31 May 1942 411 dead. Responsible: Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command Firestorm.

Hamburg 24–30 July 1943 50,000 dead. Responsible: Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Eighth Air Force

Kassel 22–23 October 1943 10,000 dead. Responsible: Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command

Augsburg 25–26 February 1944 730 dead. Responsible: Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command: and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Eighth Air Force

Darmstadt 11–12 September 1944 11,500 dead.  Responsible:  Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command

Duisburg 14–15 October 1944 2,500 dead. Responsible: Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command

Ulm 17 December 1944 707 dead. Responsible: Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command

Dresden 13–15 February 1945 220,000 dead.  Responsible: Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Eighth Air Force

Pforzheim 23 February 1945 17,600 dead. Responsible: Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command

Würzburg 16 March 1945 5,000 dead. Responsible: Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command

München   24-25 April 1945  6,632 dead Responsible:. RAF Bomber Command and the USAAF

Nuremberg On the night of January 2, 1945, 514 British Lancaster bombers and 7 other British planes destroyed or damaged most of the old city, including the medieval walls, the historic castle and two centuries-old Gothic churches. 14,000 dead.

At that point in the war, it was the most devastating air-raid attack on a civilian population and only the Allied bombing of Dresden, six weeks later, caused more damage and civilian deaths in Germany.

On March 15, 1945, American bombs hit a church in the small historic town of Gardelegen and on March 31, 1945, the medieval city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber which had no military importance at all was bombed by American planes.


Ankara tries to bury the hatchet with Berlin as Turkish-US ties disintegrate

January 5, 2018


Ankara wants to reverse the “spiral” of worsening relations between Turkey and Germany, Turkey’s FM has stated. Melvut Cavusoglu’s call for rapprochement with Berlin comes amid rapidly deteriorating relations with Washington.

In an op-ed published ahead of his Saturday meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Cavusoglu wrote that “both sides have an interest in a new beginning” but a fresh start is only possible “if we break the current crisis spiral in our relationship.”

Cavusoglu also called on Berlin to help end the “standstill” in Turkey’s European Union membership negotiations. Ankara and Berlin have long been at odds over Turkey’s EU bid. In December, Gabriel said that he “can’t imagine” Turkey becoming an EU member in “the next few years.”

Writing that “it is not the time for bullhorn diplomacy,” Cavusoglu hinted that Ankara may be willing to review legal proceedings against several Turkish-German nationals, including a journalist, who have been detained on terrorism-related charges.

Ankara has made visible efforts in recent weeks to breathe new life into German-Turkish relations, which have suffered considerably over the last year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in late December that he considers German Chancellor Angela Merkel an “old friend,” despite previously accusing her of employing “Nazi practices” against Turkish citizens and his own government.

Erdogan flung verbal abuse at Germany and the Netherlands last March, after the two countries prevented Turkish officials from holding rallies for expatriate Turks in support of a referendum that granted Erdogan sweeping new presidential powers. In a more recent outburst, Erdogan characterized Merkel’s criticism of Turkey during a September election debate with her political rival, Martin Schulz, as “Nazism.”

Turkish efforts to mend ties with Germany come as bilateral relations between Ankara and Washington continue to worsen. Amid a growing list of political feuds with Washington – ranging from President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to the recent conviction in the US of a Turkish banker tried for allegedly evading sanctions against Iran – Erdogan has even gone so far as to suggest that US-Turkish ties and accords are “losing validity.”

After Germany voted to support a UN General Assembly resolution calling Trump’s Jerusalem decision “null and void,” Erdogan called German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to personally thank him.



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