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TBR News November 27, 2019

Nov 27 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. November 26, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for November 27: “Washington is alarmed at the growing rumors that Germany, and probably Turkey, are planning to leave NATO. This is primarily because of the boorish and erratic behavior of Donald Trump but also because of the cleve diplomacy of Vladimir Putin. This is more weight on the scales that might indicate that indeed, the Russians wanted Trump in the White House.”

The Table of Contents
• Net support for impeachment grew steadily during U.S. congressional hearings, poll shows
• U.S. Justice Department asks court to block ex-White House lawyer ruling
• Trump impeachment: two White House budget officials quit over Ukraine aid concerns, says witness
• The Real Reason the Navy Stood Up to Trump
• Germans are deeply worried about U.S. alliance, but Americans like it
• Optimistic US, pessimistic Germany differ on relationship status: survey
• U.S. Military bases in Germany- 2019
• Is Macron Right? Is NATO, 70, Brain Dead?
• Who would you side with in a conflict between the US and Russia? Neither, say most Europeans
• The Watchbird is Watching You!
• The Season of Evil

Net support for impeachment grew steadily during U.S. congressional hearings, poll shows
November 26, 2019
by Chris Kahn
Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Public support for impeaching President Donald Trump has tracked steadily higher over the past few weeks while a U.S. House of Representatives committee held a series of televised impeachment hearings, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday.
The latest poll, conducted on Monday and Tuesday, found that 47% of adults in the United States felt Trump “should be impeached,” while 40% said he should not.
The result, combined with Reuters/Ipsos polling over the past several weeks, showed that the number of Americans who want to impeach the president increasingly outnumbers those who do not.
Just before the hearings started on Nov. 13, the Reuters/Ipsos poll found that “net support” for impeachment, which is the difference between the number who support impeachment and the number who oppose, was 3 percentage points.
That increased to 4 points after the first week of hearings, and then to 5 points as the second week of hearings started. The latest poll shows that net support for impeachment is now at 7 points.
The inquiry centers on a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden as well as a discredited conspiracy theory promoted by Trump that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Hunter Biden had worked for a Ukrainian energy company.
Democrats have accused Trump of abusing his power by withholding $391 million in security aid to put pressure on a vulnerable U.S. ally to interfere in an American election by digging up dirt on his domestic political opponents.
If articles of impeachment are approved by the Democratic-controlled House, the Senate, controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, would hold a trial on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office. Republicans have shown little inclination toward removing Trump, who is seeking re-election in 2020.
Trump denies wrongdoing and has dismissed the inquiry as a hoax or effort by Democrats to overturn the result of the 2016 election.
PARTY LINES
Public opinion about impeachment remains split along party lines, with about eight in 10 Democrats supportive of impeaching Trump, and eight in 10 Republicans opposed.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that seven in 10 Republicans believed the House inquiry had not been conducted fairly, and most Republicans opposed impeachment for anything short of outright lawbreaking by the president.
Four in 10 Republicans agreed that a president who uses his powers for financial gain should face an impeachment inquiry, while three in 10 said it would be justified for a president who obstructs justice or harms U.S. interests abroad.
Only two in 10 said an inquiry would be justified for a president who uses his powers for unfair political advantage over an opponent, as Trump is accused of doing.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,118 adults, including 528 Democrats, 394 Republicans and 111 independents. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 3 percentage points.
Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Peter Cooney

U.S. Justice Department asks court to block ex-White House lawyer ruling
November 27, 2019
by Lawrence Hurley
Rreuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday asked an appeals court to put on hold a ruling requiring former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify to lawmakers as part of the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
The filing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit came after U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson did not act on a similar request to prevent her ruling on Monday from going into effect.
In that ruling, she rejected the Trump administration’s claim of broad immunity protecting current and former senior White House officials from being compelled to testify before Congress, saying no one is above the law.
Justice Department lawyers wrote in the filing that the appeals court should block the ruling before Trump is “irreparably injured by the compelled congressional testimony of a former close advisor.”
The administration wants the ruling to be put on hold while the Trump administration appeals it, which means McGahn would not have to testify in the meantime. The White House has directed current and former officials not to testify or provide documents sought in the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry.
House Democratic leaders have focused their impeachment inquiry on Trump’s actions concerning Ukraine, but have discussed pursuing a broader count of obstruction of Congress among any articles of impeachment – formal charges – brought against him. McGahn’s testimony could bolster that part of their inquiry.
McGahn, who left his post in October 2018, last May defied a House Judiciary Committee subpoena to testify about Trump’s efforts to impede former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama editing by Jonathan Oatis

Trump impeachment: two White House budget officials quit over Ukraine aid concerns, says witness
Mark Sandy said unnamed individuals from budget office resigned in part over Trump’s aid freeze, according to closed-door deposition
November 27, 2019
by David Smith in Washington
The Guardian
A lawyer for the White House’s budget office resigned partly because of concerns over Donald Trump’s freeze on military aid to Ukraine, a longtime career official from the office has testified to Congress behind closed doors.
Mark Sandy of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) told the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry that an individual in the office’s legal division quit in part over issues with the suspension of security assistance to Ukraine, according to a transcript of his deposition released on Tuesday.
Sandy also testified that another unnamed official at the OMB also resigned. “Yes, this individual did express frustrations,” he said. “He expressed some frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold.”
In a further sign of pushback, the Pentagon also raised concerns, Sandy added.
Trump is facing impeachment for allegedly using nearly $400m in military aid to bribe Ukraine to launch two investigations for his political benefit. This month’s dramatic public hearings by the House intelligence committee will be followed by one at the House judiciary committee next week.
“Are you aware of any individual in the legal division resigning or leaving OMB … at least in part because of Ukraine security assistance,” Sandy was asked.
“Oh. Yes, I am,” he replied. “This person expressed concerns to me about actions vis-a-vis the Impoundment Control Act” – a reference to 1974 legislation that forbids the withholding of congressionally-approved aid.
A committee member followed up: “In the context of Ukraine security assistance and the hold.”
“Yes,” answered Sandy, adding that although he did not wish to attribute this as the sole reason for the person’s actions, he was “aware of their frustrations in that area”.
The exchange was revealed as the House committees leading the fast-paced inquiry released the remaining transcripts from the closed-door depositions that took place earlier this month, which Republicans have sought to condemn as a “show trial”, even though they were participants in the closed-door hearings.
Sandy also recalled that he was told on 19 June the US president had raised questions about the military aid to Ukraine after reading a media report. He was then informed in an email on 12 July that Trump himself “is directing a hold on military support funding for Ukraine” but given no explanation or justification.
When Sandy raised concerns that the aid suspension may be illegal, his authority was revoked and given to a political appointee, he continued. The OMB began the official process of suspending assistance to Ukraine on 25 July – the day of Trump’s now infamous phone call with Ukraine’s, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which discussed investigations of the 2016 election and former vice-president Joe Biden.
Only when the security assistance was unfrozen in September was Sandy given a reason: that Trump had concerns other countries were not paying their fair share in aid compared to America. Democrats argue this was a rationalisation conjured up after the fact in order to conceal the true political motivation.
Meanwhile Philip Reeker, the diplomat in charge of US policy for Europe, told the inquiry that there was an an “understanding” that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, was feeding the president a lot of “negative information” about Ukraine. Giuliani has been widely condemned for running an irregular diplomatic channel that undermined the work of state department veterans.
Reeker said Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine, had been ousted following “outrageous smears” but the state department declined to issue a statement of support. Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, has recently dodged questions on the topic.
Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee, and the other committee chairs involved in the initial inquiry stage, Eliot Engel and Carolyn B Maloney, said in a joint statement: “The testimonies from Ambassador Reeker and Mr Sandy continue to paint a portrait of handpicked political appointees corrupting the official levers of US government power, including by withholding taxpayer funded military assistance to Ukraine, to further the president’s own personal political agenda.”

The Real Reason the Navy Stood Up to Trump
Officials say their secretary was fired while attempting to address a real crisis in the special operations community.
November 26, 2019
by Mark Perry
The American Conservative
An ugly 10-day dispute between Donald Trump and the U.S. Navy escalated sharply on Sunday, when Secretary of Defense Mark Esper fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, who had publicly defied the president in the case of demoted Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher.
Gallagher had been acquitted by a military court of fatally stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter, but convicted of posing for a picture with the murdered fighter’s body. Gallagher’s demotion and the Navy’s subsequent decision to begin stripping him of his highly prized Trident pin, the emblem of the Navy Seals, enraged Trump—who directed in a tweet that Gallagher be returned to his original rank and that he retain his pin. When Spencer demanded that the president put his directive in writing, Esper fired him.
Spencer’s feud with Trump and Esper’s decision dismissing him have roiled the Pentagon. Esper defended his decision by saying the Navy secretary was fired for hiding private conversations he’s had with the White House on the Gallagher issue, while Spencer claimed he resigned because Trump’s directive undermined the Navy’s need for “good order and discipline.” The charges and counter charges (what a senior Pentagon official described as “a classic ‘you can’t fire me, I resign’ tiff”) has sparked the first civil-military confrontation of the Trump era—and the most serious break between the uniformed services and a president since Vietnam.
“It’s a bad, bad look,” a senior Pentagon civilian told TAC, “and it’s especially bad for Mark Esper. He looks like Trump’s hatchet man.”
But behind the now very public confrontation is a much larger matter. “The real issue here is whether the Navy will be successful in reining in its out-of-control and ill-disciplined special forces units,” the senior Pentagon official added. (The Pentagon was asked to comment on this article, but as of press time TAC had not received a reply.)
Spencer’s dismissal came 10 days after the president announced that he would grant clemency in three cases involving members of the military, two of whom were a part of its elite special operations forces. On November 15, Trump ordered full pardons for Army 1st Lieutenant Clint Lorance and Green Beret Major Mathew Golsteyn, and restored the rank of Gallagher. Lorance was convicted on two counts of second degree murder and Golsteyn was facing charges of murdering an Afghan civilian, while Gallagher was reduced in rank (from Chief Petty Officer to Petty Officer First Class), for posing with the corpse of the young ISIS fighter he was acquitted of killing.
While Trump’s actions in each of the three cases angered senior officers in each of the uniformed services (“this is a dumb and toxic intervention,” Professor Richard Kohn, a respected expert on civil-military relations at the University of North Carolina, told TAC), its most pernicious impact was felt by the Navy. Senior Navy officers were “stunned” by Trump’s decision on Gallagher, a career Pentagon official said, particularly since they believed that Defense Secretary Mark Esper had convinced the president during a White House meeting not to intervene in any of the cases.
“It’s been a bad couple of years for the Navy,” this official adds, “and the leadership is trying to tighten things up, especially when it comes to the elite units, like the Navy SEALS. Trump’s decision sends exactly the wrong message.”
Marine Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Milburn, who has been outspoken on the need for more discipline in the military’s special warfare units, agrees: “The question is not whether the president has the right to do what he did,” Milburn told me, “the question is whether it’s the right thing to do. It’s not. We fight with the values we represent; we don’t adopt those of our enemy.”
Even so, Trump’s actions, and his insistence that his directives be carried out, should have ended the controversy (“we have implemented the president’s order,” a Navy official said), but within hours of the November 15 announcement, the situation escalated.
Following Trump’s decision to restore Gallagher to his original rank, Rear Admiral Collin P. Green, the head of the Naval Special Warfare Command, announced that the Navy would review whether Gallagher and three Navy officers who supervised him should be stripped of their Navy Trident. Green’s announcement was seen by many inside the Pentagon (and in the mainstream media), as an attempt to reassert the longstanding prerogative that the uniformed services be allowed to police themselves.
More simply, Green’s decision to convene a board to determine whether Gallagher should be stripped of his Trident was widely seen as a defiant slap at Trump’s reversal of Gallagher’s demotion. Trump quickly slapped back: “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” he tweeted this last Thursday. “This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”
As it had done previously, the Navy responded with a bland official acceptance of Trump’s decision (“The Navy follows the lawful orders of the President,” an official release noted), but behind the scenes senior Navy officers were furious—and wondering whether they were required to obey a presidential directive in the form of a tweet.
“The Navy’s senior leaders are damned near in open revolt,” the civilian Pentagon official with whom TAC spoke said within hours of Trump’s tweet. “This is going to be a donnybrook.” The official was prescient. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer responded to the president’s tweet by telling the Navy’s uniformed leadership that he would only follow Trump’s directive if he was given it in writing—and until then the review of whether Gallagher should be stripped of his pin would go forward.
In fact, Spencer was so angered at Trump’s Trident decision that Navy officials told reporters that he was considering resigning. “My understanding is that Spencer’s message asking for clarification on the Trident issue went straight to the White House,” a senior civilian defense official said, “and was also communicated with [Defense Secretary Mark] Esper. And Esper was told that Spencer was considering resigning if the president put his decision in writing.”
Spencer’s anger about the Gallagher decision was communicated to Trump on Thursday night aboard Air Force One, when J.C.S. Chairman Mark Milley, Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, Army Chief James McConville, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, and Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston urged Trump to allow the military legal process to move forward without his interference. The discussion wasn’t planned, but those in attendance took advantage of their proximity to Trump, who was traveling to Dover Air Force Base to honor the return of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
The military officers present during the discussion argued that Trump’s intervention could adversely affect troop morale. “The difficulty here is that Trump thinks he’s defending the military, when he’s not,” the senior civilian defense official with whom I spoke argued. “He’s actually undermining what they’re trying to do. He’s weakening them.”
Following his Thursday night discussion aboard Air Force One, Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper weighed in with Trump at the White House. Pompeo and Esper reinforced what Trump had heard on Air Force One, and attempted to convince the president that, in the future, he should allow the military justice process to move forward without interference. The senior Pentagon official with whom TAC spoke says that Esper focused on how Trump’s intervention could undermine senior officers in the eyes of their subordinates and warned that in reversing the directives the president could be accused of signaling those in uniform that he will intervene when they break the law. There is little doubt that the vast majority of senior military officers agree.
“This is about good order and discipline. That’s an important phrase. It’s in the uniform code of military justice. Senior commanders know it by heart—it’s article 34 of the UCMJ. Maintaining good order and discipline, and enforcing it, is at the heart of what the Navy is trying to do,” retired Army Colonel Kevin Benson adds. “I admire Admiral Green. He has a problem on his hands and he’s moving to bring it under control. That’s the sign of a good officer. You want to get back to business? Well, that’s getting back to business.”
The “getting back to business” includes reining in the military’s special warfare units. In August of this year, Green (a 1986 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a 1988 graduate of SEAL Class 149) issued a guidancefor Naval Special Warfare commanders. “Our Force has drifted from our Navy core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment and the tenets of our Naval Special Warfare Ethos due to a lack of action at all levels of Leadership,” Green wrote.
Green, senior military officers told TAC at the time, was acting after a series of incidents involving members of special warfare units that included allegations of alcohol abuse, sexual assault, cocaine use, the mutilation of corpses, the increased use of pain medication, and a general breakdown in discipline among SEAL Team units.
While special forces units from each of the uniformed services have suffered from similar problems, the Navy’s problems are deeply rooted, as one Pentagon civilian and Navy veteran told me. “This guy [Green] isn’t having any of it,” this officials says. “I mean, this guidance was a megaton blast. It was literally a ‘clean up your act or we’ll clean it up for you,’ message. It hit home.”
For a large number of senior retired military officers, the problems plaguing the special warfare community are viewed as a result of the overuse of the elite units in the years following 9/11—and the dilution of talent in the units as the force has grown.
“You have to make a distinction between tier one and tier two forces,” a senior U.S. Army officer argues. “These guys in SEAL Team 7, these guys in Army Special Forces and these guys you see on television with their beards and tomahawks and their tattoos…they’re what we call ‘white SOF’—white Special Operations Forces. They’re not ‘black SOF.’ There are three units that matter; there’s the Army’s DELTA Force, there’s DEVGRU [SEAL Team 6, which killed Osama bin Laden], and there’s the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron. That’s it. They’re the elite of the elite.”
It is not simply that the Navy’s leaders want to exercise their traditional prerogatives; it is that they are in the midst of a campaign to rid the Navy’s special warfare community of the types of warriors embodied by Eddie Gallagher and his Seal Team unit. It is why Richard Spencer has been so adamant in standing up to Donald Trump, and it’s why he was willing to be fired for his views.
“Good order and discipline” was the phrase Spencer used in the letter he wrote to Trump acknowledging that he was leaving his office. “The rule of law is what sets us apart from our adversaries,” Spencer wrote. “Good order and discipline is what has enabled our victory against foreign tyranny time and time again.”
Army Col. Keven Benson suggests Trump may have overplayed his hand, considering all the wreckage he wrought playing to his base at the possible cost of his legitimacy among those in uniform. Benson charges, too, that the president’s decision to reverse the directives of senior Navy officers in disciplining one of their own might lose him support not only among senior officers, but among the rank and file—a constituency that voted overwhelmingly to put him in the White House. “You know, these guys, these three knuckleheads —Lorance, Golsteyn and Gallagher —might be welcome on Fox News,” Benson says, “but they wouldn’t be welcome in my platoon.”

Germans are deeply worried about U.S. alliance, but Americans like it
November 25, 2019
by Adam Taylor
The Washington Post
The alliance between the United States and Germany is one of Washington’s most historically important and stable, with Europe’s largest economy not only proving an important political and trade partner but also hosting roughly 38,000 U.S. troops across a number of military bases.
But with just weeks to go before a potentially contentious meeting of NATO leaders in London, a new poll suggests that the two largest nations in the alliance (in terms of economy and population) have very different views of their relationship – and, in particular, that Americans are overlooking considerable doubts among Germans.
The poll, jointly conducted by the Pew Research Center and the German firm Körber-Stiftung in September, found that while three-quarters of Americans see relations with Germany as good, almost two-thirds of Germans say the relationship is bad.
The responses also suggested that the two nations placed different levels of importance on the alliance. The poll found that Americans are more likely to prioritize greater cooperation with Germany, with 69% in favor, compared with 50% of Germans who say the same of increased cooperation with the United States.
U.S. military bases in Germany, a legacy of American occupation after World War II and subsequent cooperation through NATO, drew similar divisions – 85% of Americans said they were important for U.S. national security, while 52% of Germans said the same of German security.
Pew has partnered with Körber-Stiftung in the past three years to conduct comparative polling, and the results have been consistent: Germans have negative perceptions of the alliance, peaking with almost three-quarters expressing negative feelings in 2018, while American views of Germany are gradually becoming more positive.
These tensions may come to a head when German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Donald Trump meet in London for NATO’s 70th anniversary on Dec. 4. Both world leaders will bring their own sets of political circumstances: Merkel recently announced that she would stand down as leader before 2021, while Trump is campaigning for the 2020 presidential election.
Sudha David-Wilp, a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin, said German pessimism about the relationship with the United States was in no small part due to the behavior of an American leader who has demanded that Germans spend more on the military and threatened auto tariffs on German companies.
“President Trump is an existential threat to Germany,” David-Wilp said, noting that previous Pew polls had shown confidence in the U.S. president dropping to 10% last year, down from a high of 93% at the start of the Obama administration.
But David-Wilp noted that Trump was only the latest rocky patch in recent years, following disputes over the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the revelations 10 years later that the United States spied on Merkel. The differing views of the alliance may be due in part to an information gap between Germans and Americans, she said.
“Germans are definitely well-informed when it comes to current affairs,” she said, as their nation is central to European policy and has an export-driven economy. Americans, on the other hand, tend to think of themselves as the “middle of the world, the center of the universe.”
Despite Trump’s frequent criticisms of Germany and cold personal relationship with Merkel, the survey data shows that the majority of Americans disagree with him. Almost 70% of Americans want closer cooperation with their European allies, and half say Europe should keep its defense spending at roughly the same level – an increase from 37% in 2017
The U.S. president has at points criticized the presence of U.S. bases in Germany, and his administration has taken steps to consider whether troops could be withdrawn from the country. But Pew’s polling data showed that 5% of Americans thought the bases weren’t important at all, compared with 56% who thought they were very important.
Fifteen percent of Germans said the bases were very important to German security; the same number said the bases were not important at all.
If Trump’s negative reputation among Germans makes them skeptical of the alliance, Merkel’s positive reputation may boost it among Americans: 55% of Americans felt positive about the German leader in the most recent Pew polling from last year, a considerably higher proportion than for most countries surveyed.
But with Merkel due to step down, that may change. This month, one possible successor – Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer – announced that Germany would increase its defense budget by tens of billions of dollars in the coming years. The announcement came the same week as remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron that NATO had suffered “brain death.”
An increase in spending was “not because the American president – and not just the current one – demands that, but because it is in our own security interest,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said at an event in early November.
Körber-Stiftung’s recent polling suggested that Germans were divided about defense spending, with 40% in favor of an increase. However, this was a rise from 2017, when 32% favored increasing defense spending.

Optimistic US, pessimistic Germany differ on relationship status: survey
A new survey has found that Americans and Germans have notably different perspectives on their partnership. Germans feel less enthusiastic about the US — and crave more independence from Washington.
November 26, 2019
by Melissa Van Brunnersum
DW
There is a disconnect between citizens of Germany and the United States when it comes to their perceptions of the relationship between the countries, according to a survey released Tuesday.
The survey, carried out by the Pew Research Center in Washington and the Hamburg-based nonprofit Körber Foundation, reveals that Americans view their country’s relationship with Germany far more positively than Germans view their country’s with the United States. Three-quarters of Americans saw the relationship as good, while nearly two-thirds of Germans (64%) saw the relationship as bad.
Despite the gap in opinion, the latest data indicates that views in Germany have become more positive over the past year, with the share of Germans who say the relationship is good increasing from 24% in 2018 to 34% in 2019. Germans’ outlook, however, remains more negative than it was in 2017.
For the American respondents, a positive evaluation of the bilateral relationship was at its highest in three years.
When it comes to foreign policy, those surveyed said a partnership between the two NATO allies is important — but gave priority to others. Germans said France is the most or second-most important partner for Germany’s foreign policy (60%), followed by the US. Americans, on the other hand, looked toward the United Kingdom (36%) and then China, ranking Germany fifth.
When it comes to cooperation, however, 35% of Germans prefer less cooperation between Berlin and Washington. Only 19% of Americans preferred less cooperation with Germany.
Defense spending and climate change
An additional poll by the Körber Foundation found that 49% of Germans felt their country should exercise restraint when facing international crises.
While 23% of Germans saw US relations as the greatest challenge facing Germany’s foreign policy, it was not ranked first.
Thirty-one percent said the top challenge — over conflicts in the Middle East and Brexit — was the climate and environment.
Washington has voiced frustration when it comes to Germany’s contributions to NATO spending.
“It is probably good for the US to keep pressuring Germany … without pressure, Berlin will simply sit there and enjoy the benefits of what others are doing,” said Walter Russell Mead, a fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, in a Körber Foundation report.
Concerns about Trump
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told the Körber Foundation: “There is an increasing number of voices suggesting Germany’s momentum is waning or may have vanished entirely — while our challenges are increasing.”
The defense minister stood by the country’s aim to reach its 2% spending commitment for NATO.
“We must seriously move toward a defense budget of this scale in the interest of our security, but also because Germany has every reason to be proud that it shoulders its fair share of the burden in international institutions,” she said.
Kramp-Karrenbauer also acknowledged that many Germans “feel the US is no longer as reliable as it once was.”
A narrow majority of German respondents (52%) supported Berlin becoming more independent from the US in defense matters, even if this required Germany to more than double its defense budget, currently at €43 billion ($47 billion).
When it comes to nuclear protection, only 22% of Germans supported the reliance on America’s nuclear umbrella. Two out of five Germans would rather see Germany obtaining nuclear protection from France and the UK.
German-Russian relations lauded at bilateral Petersburg Dialogue The Körber study also revealed that Germans had particular concerns about the Trump administration. A whopping 87% percent said re-election of President Trump would harm US-German relations.
Relations with China and Russia
The Pew and Körber polls showed Americans and Germans prioritized their bilateral relationship over Russia, but Germans were more likely to see value in having relations with both Russia and the US.
Nearly 40% percent of Germans felt it was more important to have a close relationship with the US than with Russia, while about 60% of Americans said it was more important for the US to have a close relationship with Germany.
When it came to China, Americans felt divided over whether it was more important to have a close relationship with Germany or China, but Germans preferred their country’s relationship with the US over China.
Both Germans and Americans, however, considered China a threat.
Washington’s view of Germany
“The Trump administration has been sincere in its criticism,” said Mead, adding that there is a sense that Germany is “not doing enough about its own defense,” expecting the US to pay for much of Europe’s defense bill.
“Both Republicans and Democrats feel that the euro has been a terrible disaster for Europe,” Mead said. “Germany has looked after its own interests at the expense of undermining the Western alliance and weakening Europe.”
Thomas Wright, director of the Washington-based Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, told the Körber Foundation: “There is almost no one left in the administration who understands Europe.”
He explained that the US government felt somewhat skeptical of “what precisely Germany means,” highlighting the contrast between Germany’s focus on multilateralism and the White House’s preference for bilateralism.

U.S. Military bases in Germany- 2019
Artillery Kaserne, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Barton Barracks, Ansbach (scheduled to close)
Bismarck Kaserne, Ansbach
Bleidorn Housing Area, Ansbach
Dagger Complex, Darmstadt Training Center Griesheim (scheduled to close after the new one in Wiesbaden is built)
Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Lucius D. Clay Kaserne (formerly Wiesbaden Army Airfield), Wiesbaden-Erbenheim
Germersheim Army Depot, Germersheim
[[Grafenwohr|Grafenwohr Training Area]], [[Grafenwohr]]/Vilseck
Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels (Upper Palatinate)[2]
Husterhoeh Kaserne, Pirmasens
Kaiserslautern Military Community
Katterbach Kaserne, Ansbach
Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart
Kleber Kaserne, Kaiserslautern Military Community
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl
McCully Barracks, Wackernheim
Miesau Army Depot, [[Bruchmuhlbach-Miesau|Miesau]]
Oberdachstetten Storage Area, Ansbach
Panzer Kaserne, Stuttgart
Patch Barracks, Stuttgart
Pulaski Barracks, Kaiserslautern
Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Kaiserslautern
Robinson Barracks, Stuttgart
Rose Barracks, Vilseck
Sembach Kaserne, Kaiserslautern
Sheridan Barracks, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Shipton Kaserne, Ansbach
Smith Barracks, Baumholder
Storck Barracks, Illesheim
Stuttgart Army Airfield, Filderstadt
Mainz-Kastel Storage Station (scheduled to close in 2022)
USAG Wiesbaden Military Training Area, Mainz, Gonsenheim/Mombach
USAG Wiesbaden Training Area, Mainz Finthen Airport
USAG Wiesbaden Radar Station, Mainz Finthen Airport
Urlas Housing and Shopping Complex, Ansbach (converted from Urlas Training Area in 2010-2011

Is Macron Right? Is NATO, 70, Brain Dead?
November 26, 2019
by Patrick J. Buchanan
A week from now, the 29 member states of “the most successful alliancein history” will meet to celebrate its 70th anniversary. Yet all is notwell within NATO.
Instead of a “summit,” the gathering, on the outskirts of London, has been cut to two days. Why the shortened agenda?
Among the reasons, apprehension that President Donald Trump might use the occasionto disrupt alliance comity by again berating the Europeans for freeloading on the U.S. defense budget.
French President Emanuel Macron, on the 100th anniversary of the World WarI Armistice, described NATO as having suffered “brain death.” Macron now openly questions the US commitment to fight for Europe and is talking about a “true European Army” with France’s nuclear deterrent able to “defendEurope alone.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose nation spends 1.4% of GDP on defenseand has relied on the US and NATO to keep Russia at bay since the Cold War began, is said to be enraged at the “disruptive politics” of the French president.
Also, early in December, Britain holds national elections. While the Labour Party remains committed to NATO, its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is no Clement Attlee, who took Britain into NATO at its birth in 1949.
Corbyn has questioned NATO’s continued relevance in the post-Cold War era. A potential backer of a new Labour government, Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party, is demanding the closing of Britain’s Trident submarine base in Scotland as a precondition of her party’s support for Labour in Parliament.
Also present in London will be NATO ally Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan.
Following the 2016 coup attempt, Erdogan has purged scores of thousands fromhis army and regime, jailed more journalists than any other authoritarian, purchased Vladimir Putin’s S-400 missile system as Turkey’s air defense, and ordered the US forces out of his way as he invaded northern Syria, killing Kurdish fighters who did the bleeding and dying in the U.S.-led campaign to crush the ISIS caliphate.
During the Cold War, NATO enjoyed the widespread support of Americans and Europeans, and understandably so. The USSR had 20 divisions in Germany, surrounded West Berlin, and occupied the east bank of the Elbe, within striking distance ofthe Rhine.
But that Cold War is long over. Berlin is the united free capital of Germany.The Warsaw Pact has been dissolved. Its member states have all joined NATO.The Soviet Union split apart into 15 nations. Communist Yugoslavia splinteredinto seven nations.
As a fighting faith, communism is dead in Europe. Why then are we Americans still over there?
Since the Cold War, we have doubled the size of NATO. We have brought in the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania but not Finland or Sweden.We have committed ourselves to fight for Slovenia, Croatia, Albania and Montenegro but not Serbia, Bosnia or North Macedonia.
Romania and Bulgaria are NATO allies but not Moldova or Belarus.
George W. Bush kept us out of the 2008 Russia-Georgia clash over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. And Barack Obama refused to send lethal aid to help Ukraine retrieve Crimea, Luhansk, or Donetsk, though Sen. John McCain wanted the United States to jump into both fights.
In the House Intel Committee’s impeachment hearings, foreign service officers spoke of “Russian aggression” against our Ukrainian “ally”and our “national security” being in peril in this fight.
But when did Ukraine become an ally of the United States whose territorial wars we must sustain with military aid if not military intervention?
When did Kyiv’s control of Crimea and the Donbass become critical to the national security of the United States, when Russia has controlled Ukraine almost without interruption from Catherine the Great in the 18th century to Mikhail Gorbachevin the late 20th century?
Among the reasons Trump is president is that he raised provocative questions about NATO and Russia left unaddressed for three decades, as US policy has been on cruise control since the Cold War.
And these unanswered questions are deadly serious ones.
Do we truly believe that if Russia marched into Estonia, the US would start attacking the ships, planes and troops of a nation armed with thousands of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons?
Would NATO allies Spain, Portugal and Italy declare war on Russia?
In 1914 and 1939, in solidarity with the mother country, Britain, Canada declared war on Germany. Would Justin Trudeau’s Canada invoke NATO and declare war on Putin’s Russia – for Estonia or Latvia?
Under NATO, we are now committed to go to war for 28 nations. And the interventionists who took us into Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen want US war guarantees extended to other nations even closer to Russia.
One day, one of these war guarantees is going to be called upon, and we may find that the American people were unaware of that commitment, and are unwilling to honor it, especially if the consequence is a major war with a nuclear power.

Who would you side with in a conflict between the US and Russia? Neither, say most Europeans
September 10, 2019
by Annabelle Timsit
European Union
Donald Trump has damaged America’s standing in the world in his three years as president, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Europe.
A new report (pdf), published by the think tank European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), found that Europeans “no longer believe that the US can serve as the guarantor of their security.” They also overwhelmingly favor neutrality rather than siding with the US on global issues. The survey covered more than 60,000 people across 14 European Union member states, including France, Slovakia, Poland, and Spain.
When asked “whose side should your country take in a conflict between the United States and Russia?” the majority of respondents in all 14 EU countries said “neither.” Poland displayed the most pro-American sentiment, with 33% of respondents opting to side with the US. In Austria, that number was 4%. (That’s despite the fact that Russia is intensely disliked in Europe. According to a December 2018 Pew survey, 66% of Europeans across 10 countries had an unfavorable opinion of Russia.)
The survey also found that anywhere between 54% and 83% of respondents wanted their country to stay neutral in case of a dispute between the US and China. This, of course, is no longer a theoretical matter given the ongoing trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Here again, Poles were the most pro-American of the bunch, with 24% stating they’d like their country to side with the US. Only 4% of Austrians, 6% of Greeks, and 8% of Slovakians said the same.
The report isn’t all bad news for the transatlantic relationship. It also shows that, in all 14 EU member states, “large minorities of people believe that their own country has a special bilateral relationship with the US.”
Still, there has been a clear breakdown in Europeans’ trust in the US, and it’s part of a larger breakdown of faith in the global system. Many of the ways in which the world used to work, says Susi Dennison, a senior fellow at ECFR and the author of the report, have “now fallen away.”
“Europeans rightly feel that they’re operating in a world where the rules aren’t so clear,” she explains. “That is feeding into this idea … of taking its destiny into its own hands, precisely because they want to feel like they’re in safe hands, and they don’t at the moment.”

The Watchbird is Watching You!

The United States has been trying to persuade European Union countries as well to allow it “back-door” access to encryption programs, claiming that this was to serve the needs of law-enforcement agencies. However, a report released by the European Parliament in May 1999 asserted that Washington’s plans for controlling encryption software in Europe had nothing to do with law enforcement and everything to do with US industrial espionage. The NSA has also dispatched FBI agents on break-in missions to snatch code books from foreign facilities in the United States, and CIA officers to recruit foreign communications clerks abroad and buy their code secrets, according to veteran intelligence officials.
For decades, beginning in the 1950s, the Swiss company Crypto AG sold the world’s most sophisticated and secure encryption technology. The firm staked its reputation and the security concerns of its clients on its neutrality in the Cold War or any other war. The purchasing nations, some 120 of them – including prime US intelligence targets such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yugoslavia – confident that their communications were protected, sent messages from their capitals to their embassies, military missions, trade offices, and espionage dens around the world, via telex, radio, and fax. And all the while, because of a secret agreement between the company and NSA, these governments might as well have been hand delivering the messages to Washington, uncoded. For their Crypto AG machines had been rigged before being sold to them, so that when they used them the random encryption key could be automatically and clandestinely transmitted along with the enciphered message. NSA analysts could read the messages as easily as they could the morning newspaper.
In 1986, because of US public statements concerning the La Belle disco bombing in West Berlin, the Libyans began to suspect that something was rotten with Crypto AG’s machines and switched to another Swiss firm, Gretag Data Systems AG. But it appears that NSA had that base covered as well. In 1992, after a series of suspicious circumstances over the previous few years, Iran came to a conclusion similar to Libya’s, and arrested a Crypto AG employee who was in Iran on a business trip. He was eventually ransomed, but the incident became well known and the scam began to unravel in earnest.
In September 1999 it was revealed that NSA had arranged with Microsoft to insert special “keys” into Windows software, in all versions from 95-OSR2 onwards. An American computer scientist, Andrew Fernandez of Cryptonym in North Carolina, had disassembled parts of the Windows instruction code and found the smoking gun – Microsoft’s developers had failed to remove the debugging symbols used to test this software before they released it. Inside the code were the labels for two keys. One was called “KEY”. The other was called “NSAKEY”. Fernandez presented his finding at a conference at which some Windows developers were also in attendance. The developers did not deny that the NSA key was built into their software, but they refused to talk about what the key did, or why it had been put there without users’ knowledge. Fernandez says that NSA’s “back door” in the world’s most commonly used operating system makes it “orders of magnitude easier for the US government to access your computer.”
In February 2000, it was disclosed that the Strategic Affairs Delegation (DAS), the intelligence arm of the French Defense Ministry, had prepared a report in 1999 which also asserted that NSA had helped to install secret programs in Microsoft software. According to the DAS report, “it would seem that the creation of Microsoft was largely supported, not least financially, by the NSA, and that IBM was made to accept the [Microsoft] MS-DOS operating system by the same administration.” The report stated that there had been a “strong suspicion of a lack of security fed by insistent rumors about the existence of spy programs on Microsoft, and by the presence of NSA personnel in Bill Gates’ development teams.” The Pentagon, said the report, was Microsoft’s biggest client in the world.
Recent years have seen disclosures that in the countdown to their invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States had listened in on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, and all the members of the UN Security Council during a period when they were deliberating about what action to take in Iraq.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

Preface
This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 10

Santa Cruz, California, was a shabby beachside resort town south of San Francisco. It had once suffered a heavy earthquake and a good part of the rundown city had either fallen inward onto the occupants or out into the street and onto various parked cars and pedestrians.
For months after this, Santa Cruz smelt equally of seaweed and corruption.
It had eventually been partially rebuilt but would never rival Newport, Rhode Island, as an elegant seaside resort.
They registered, under Chuck’s dead cousin’s name, in a small but expensive motel on the beach. Just to the south of them was a very long city pier, studded with tourist shops, fast food restaurants and bait stands. Further south was a shallow, curving bay with its beach clotted with a late afternoon assemblage of the sacred bodies of the young and the profane ones of the old. This was backed by a large midway that sported a rickety roller coaster that rumbled periodically, its riders screeching like newly- castrated pigs.
The clothing went into the tiny closet and the heavy containers of stolen jewelry were jammed under one of the twin beds.
Chuck looked at his watch.
“We can walk around for a while, Lars, and see what’s happening here but I am going to have to ask you, very firmly, not to indulge your hobbies while we are here. I do not, repeat, do not, want you to try to lure some little darling up here and into the shower. I really mean that. As long as we’re trying to sell the loot, I want no trouble.
“Once we get the money and you so desire, buy a whole day care center and pig out but not around me. Do you understand me?”
Lars sniffed.
“I understand you. You must think I’m crazy or something. I don’t just go on the beach and grab people, Chuck. I like to take my time on things like that and they have to be willing. You would be surprised what a nice girl will do for a Barbie doll or even a cheap watch. Do you think I bang them on the head and drag them into a doorway somewhere? Anyway, I can’t help myself and so I’m not to blame.”
Chuck opened the room door and the glare from the afternoon sun blinded him.
“All right, prevert, out we go and remember my warnings.”
As they walked down the beach, the roller coaster roared again.
“Oh, Chuck! I want to go on the roller coaster! I love roller coasters!”
Chuck could see no harm in this because it would not only be very improbable that Lars could accost anything at speed and it was far too public for mischief.
“Great. Got change? Here, take five bucks and really live.”
While Chuck walked up and down the boardwalk, looking more at the concessions and less at the display of semi-naked flesh on the beach, Lars rode the plunging cars twice and was greatly exhilarated.
He caught up with Chuck who was leaning against the boardwalk rail, looking intently at a fast food store that was jammed with people.
“Did you have fun, Lars?”
“Oh yes. I remember once in Minneapolis there was a carnival and they had a nice roller coaster but not as nice as this one. Only this one seems a little, well, sort of rickety.”
“It’s been here since Moses was a Corporal, Lars and one day, when it’s full of nuns out for a frolic, it will cave in, right on top of this grease pit. Look at the people in there, grabbing hamburgers made from museum-quality kangaroo meat and French fries cooked in fat that’s so old it probably came over on the Mayflower. Places like this are sponsored by heart surgeons to keep them in new cars.”
The summer sun was setting in red splendor and the denizens of the beach were reluctantly returning to their cars, dragging blankets, boogie boards and squalling children behind them. Chuck watched the sprawling exodus, leaning his arms on the railing of the boardwalk and behind him, the lights came on in the concessions and the roller coaster was outlined in a string of bulbs, only a few of which had burned out leaving dotted lines in the sky.
“This is a dismal place, Lars. I remember it from my youth. You couldn’t pay me to swim in the water and the food is the sort of thing that killed off the dinosaurs.”
The day’s heat was slowly dissipating as they walked back to the motel.
“Tomorrow, Lars, we will go to San Francisco and convert our loot into cash. Doesn’t that excite you?”
Lars grinned in anticipation.
“I do like money, Chuck, but I can’t wait to see the tape stores you told me about. Do they really sell things like that in public?” he said, kicking a dead rat into the remains of a sand castle.
“Not quite in public. I mean in the front of the shop you can find the run-of-the-mill things like Mexican women with donkeys, fat men whipping each other while wearing leather body harnesses and an entire confirmation class being raped by lurid bikers. You know, the normal sex. But in the back, that’s where all of your goodies are kept. You get to go in and spend all kinds of money on uplifting erotica. Of course it’s all illegal. Congress, which is composed of swindlers, liars, drug abusers and men whose sex life would make yours look like a paragon of virtue, Congress passed laws against this so that’s why it’s sold in the back, not on proud display in the shop windows for all to gaze upon and admire. I look at it this way, Lars, it keeps you off the street.”

(Continued)

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