Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

23 June 2017

After Terror Attacks, Britain Moves to Police the Web


By MARK SCOTTJUNE

After deadly terrorist attacks and a nationwide election, Britain is once again focusing on a controversial plan: to regulate the internet.

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum are promoting some of the widest-ranging plans anywhere in the western world to rein in the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter, setting up a likely standoff.

On one side are British policy makers and law enforcement officials, who want to crack down on how extremist messaging and communication are spread across the internet. On the other are privacy and freedom of speech groups — alongside the tech giants themselves — who say that the government’s proposals go too far.

Similar debates are popping up around the world.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation took legal action against Apple last year to force the company to decrypt a suspected terrorist’s iPhone. American law enforcement eventually used a third-party service to gain access to the smartphone.

In Germany, lawmakers are pushing ahead with fines of up to 50 million euros, or $56 million, if Silicon Valley companies do not limit how online hate speech circulates on their social networks.

Recent legislation already gives Britain’s law enforcement officials some of the world’s strongest powers to read and monitor online chatter from potential extremists.

Now the country’s politicians want to go further.

In its electoral manifesto and in speeches by senior politicians, the governing Conservative Party outlined proposals to offer security officials more ways to keep tabs on potential extremists. Theresa May, the prime minister, raised the issue at a recent Group of 7 meeting and in talks with President Emmanuel Macron of France.

But if the proposals are pushed through, there will be costs.

The Conservatives now rule with a minority in Parliament, and will most likely have to rely on other parties for support. That may necessitate compromise or horse trading.

And the additional measures could hurt Britain’s effort to court new investment from the global tech sector as it prepares to leave the European Union.
Who Should Have Access to Your Messages?

Mrs. May had a simple message after the recent deadly terrorist attack in London.

“We need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online,” she told the British public, echoing a similar message by her government after a previous attack in Manchester.

Part of that plan is to demand that companies such as Apple and Facebook allow Britain’s national security agencies access to people’s encrypted messages on services like FaceTime and WhatsApp.

These services use so-called end-to-end encryption, meaning that a person’s message is scrambled when it is sent from a device, so that it becomes indecipherable to anyone but its intended recipient.

British officials, like their American counterparts, would like to create a digital backdoor to this technology.

Yet an opening for intelligence agencies, experts warn, would also allow others, including foreign governments and hacking groups, to potentially gain access to people’s digital messages.

It would also most likely induce terrorist groups to move to other forms of encrypted communication, while leaving everyday Britons — and others traveling in the country — susceptible to online hacks.

“If the British government asks for a special key like this, what stops other governments from asking for the same access?” said Nigel Smart, a cryptology professor at the University of Bristol. “You need end-to-end encryption because it stops anyone from listening in.”

British lawmakers say law enforcement and intelligence agencies need such access to foil potential terrorist plots.

You agree to receive occasional updates and special offers for The New York Times's products and services.

But Facebook and others respond that they already provide information on people’s online activities, when required, including the I.P. address — a pseudo fingerprint for digital devices — of machines from where messages are sent.

And in a letter sent to British politicians in late 2015 — just as an earlier debate about tech regulation was bubbling to the surface — Apple made its views clear.

“We believe it would be wrong to weaken security for hundreds of millions of law-abiding customers so that it will also be weaker for the very few who pose a threat,” the company said.
Extremist Messages: What Should Be Controlled?

British politicians have another target in policing the internet: extremist messages that are circulated on Facebook, YouTube and other social media.

While other countries have taken steps to control how such material is shared across the web, tech executives and campaigners say that Britain has gone further than almost any western country, often putting the onus on companies to determine when to take down content that while offensive, does not represent illegal — or violent — messaging.

“I’d like to see the industry go further and faster in not only removing online terrorist content, but stopping it going up in the first place,” Amber Rudd, the country’s home secretary, said before meeting with tech executives this year. At the time, she called on them to take further steps to counter such extremist material.

Mrs. May also had discussions with Mr. Macron, the French president, last week about holding tech companies legally liable if they fail to remove content.

The British government’s stance has put tech companies in the difficult position of having to determine what should, and should not, be allowed online.

Britain’s freedom of expression laws are not as far-reaching as those in the United States, allowing British lawmakers to push for greater control over what is circulated across the web.

In recent months, companies like Facebook and Twitter say that they have taken additional steps to remove illegal extremist material from their social networks, and are giving users ways to flag potentially offensive content.

That includes Facebook announcing on Thursday that it would use artificial intelligence technology to flag, and remove, inappropriate content. Google has also provided financing to nonprofit organizations aimed at countering such hate speech online.

Some other European lawmakers have warned that too-strict limits on what can be shared across the web may hamper freedom of speech, a touchy subject for many people who grew up behind the Soviet-era iron curtain.

“For me, freedom of expression is a basic fundamental right,” Andrus Ansip, the digital chief at the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said in an interview this year. “Nobody wants to see a Ministry of Truth.”

22 June 2017

China, Europe, and the US: Are Changes Coming to the World Order?

By Roie Yellinek

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The German Chancellor’s daily routine has been attracting wide attention of late. Angela Merkel met recently with US President Donald Trump, followed by meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. Merkel expressed some of her colleagues’ thoughts after meeting Trump by saying, “Europe can no longer completely rely on its longstanding US alliance”. The timing of the Chinese visit, shortly after Trump’s visit, was not coincidental. China has a vision of joining forces with Europe to counterbalance the US, and President Trump’s reception in Europe made this vision more plausible.

US President Donald Trump’s visit to EU headquarters in Brussels on May 24-25, 2017 caused major discomfort among members of the Union. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the strongest leader in the EU, spoke for several of her colleagues when she said, “Europe can no longer completely rely on its longstanding US alliance.”

Merkel’s words caused a firestorm. Until recently, the strength of the transatlantic alliance had been largely taken for granted. Trump’s declaration that the US will not endorse the Paris climate treaty, signed in 2015, unless changes are made further destabilized US relations with Europe.

The View From Olympus: Britons Strike Home?



“Britons Strike Home” is an 18th century naval song, a product of an age when Britain knew how to avenge insults to her soil and her people. She has now suffered three such insults in the last three months, and it is clear Britain’s ruling class hasn’t the ghost of an idea of what to do about it.

Of course, they have their rituals. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth, candles and flowers and balloons, benefit concerts and twaddle from politicians about “getting tough”. Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gave a perfect example of the usual crap. According to the June 5 New York Times, he said in response to the London attacks,

We are all shocked and horrified by the brutal attacks in London. My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have died and the many who have been injured. Today, we will all grieve for their loss.

Weakness drips from every line.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who is to Maggie Thatcher as Napoleon III was to Napoleon I, was no better. Saying “things need to change” and “Enough is enough,” she offered no action, just words. It seems that instead of “Britons strike home,” all the British elite of today can offer is “Britons strike your flag.”

What could be done? The British government surely knows which mosques preach Islamic puritanism. Shut them down and expel their entire memberships and their families. Similarly, when an Islamic terrorist is caught, expel his entire family, down to and including his most distant cousins.

Such measures and other like them would hold Britain’s Islamic communities responsible for policing their own. If they fail to, then they would pay a price. That price could and should be ratcheted upward for as long as Moslem terrorists who live in Britain carry out attacks there. Could it reach the point of expelling whole communities? If those communities cannot or (more likely) will not police themselves, then that action might be necessary.

21 June 2017

** How Muslim Extremists Exploit European Liberalism

Robert G. Rabil

Coming on the heels of the Manchester terror attack targeting British youth, the recent terrorist act in London is the last in a series of attacks across Europe that displayed the eerie savagery of violence carried out in the name of Islam. The Islamic State claimed credit and proclaimed that a detachment of its fighters carried out the terror attack. British prime minister Theresa May condemned the attack and assertively declared that “enough is enough.” She vowed to undertake a sweeping review of Great Britain’s counterterrorism strategy, even though the British security apparatus has formidable surveillance and security laws. This provoked a national debate about balancing civil liberties and security.

The problem, however, goes beyond fending off terror acts or revising counterterrorism strategies. The problem is about how to reverse decades-long policies of promoting unbridled multiculturalism that allowed the ideologies of Islamism and Salafism to permeate an inchoate European Muslim society, thereby militating against the creation of an European Islam free from the ideological baggage exported by conservative and Islamist individuals, groups and governments. The extent to which this problem has been difficult to gauge lies squarely in the haughty—yet self-loathing—contemporary thought of the West, which has prevented a civilized and honest critique of Islam’s inability to reform its perversions.

19 June 2017

The UK Can Leave Europe but Not EU Regulations

By Antonia Colibasanu

One of the major concerns following Brexit was that Britain’s departure from the European Union would be detrimental for the financial sector in the U.K. and the EU, since London is a financial hub. Those who hold this view would see the European Commission’s new plans announced on June 13 to regulate a very lucrative industry in London’s financial sector as a case in point. But this fails to recognize that both the U.K. and the EU will be able to adjust to the new circumstances and do not want to see a massive shake-up in the sector.

The proposed plan would allow the EU to regulate clearinghouses that settle certain types of euro-denominated contracts and which are located outside the EU. Clearinghouses act as a middleman between buyers and sellers of derivatives; they ensure that transactions are completed smoothly and bear the cost if one of the parties doesn’t hold up its end of the deal. They therefore help ensure that the effects of a default don’t spread to the rest of the financial system.

The London Clearing House, which is partly owned by the London Stock Exchange, is the global leader for the euro clearing business. It clears roughly three-quarters of all euro-denominated interest rate derivatives transactions. Since this is a substantial portion of the global business, what happens in London could have a significant impact on the stability of the eurozone, even though the U.K. doesn’t use the single currency. For this reason, the European Central Bank insisted in 2011 that euro-denominated derivatives trading should take place only in the eurozone. Eurozone countries had argued that the LCH made the debt crisis even worse by raising its margin requirements (the amount that buyers and sellers are required to hold in an account as collateral against derivative contracts) on debt for Spain and Ireland. The U.K. challenged the ECB in court and won.

18 June 2017

Credible EU Defense Means Rethinking Sovereignty

CLAUDIA MAJOR

A wave of defense euphoria is sweeping Europe. It started about a year ago after the UK’s vote to leave the EU and the publication of the EU global strategy, and increased with the elections of U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron. The European project could be relaunched via reinforced defense integration, the idea goes. Migration and economic questions are too controversial to broach, but defense matters to all Europeans, especially since Russia and the self-proclaimed Islamic State reminded them that Europe cannot take security and defense for granted.

Over the last year, political rhetoric and ideas on how to improve the EU’s defense setup have flourished. As a result, new acronyms appeared: a military planning and conduct capability (MPCC), a sort of European headquarters; a coordinated annual review of defense (CARD); a European defense fund (EDF) to finance developments of prototype military kits; and permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), which allows groups of willing EU members to advance more quickly in defense cooperation.

What is more, the European Commission, traditionally not involved in this field, is tipping its toes into defense, bringing its financial tools to the table and broadening the narrow focus from the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) to a broader idea of EU defense.

Britain’s electionTheresa May’s failed gamble


HER political career has been defined by caution. So it is cruel for Theresa May, and delicious for her enemies, that it may have been ended by one big, disastrous gamble. Eight weeks ago she called a snap election, risking her government for the chance to bank a bigger majority against an apparently shambolic Labour opposition. With the Conservatives 20 points ahead in the opinion polls, it looked like a one-way bet to a landslide and a renewed five-year term for her party. But there followed one of the most dramatic collapses in British political history. As we went to press in the early hours of June 9th, the Tories were on course to lose seats, and perhaps their majority.

Keine Atombombe, Bitte Why Germany Should Not Go Nuclear

By Ulrich Kuhn, Tristan Volpe

The election of U.S. President Donald Trump last November confounded Berlin. What, German politicians, policymakers, and journalists wondered, should they make of Trump’s vague or even hostile stances toward the EU and NATO or his apparent embrace of Russia? Some hoped that Trump meant to push NATO members to spend more on defense but would, in the end, leave the long-standing U.S. guarantee of European security intact. Others, less optimistic, argued that the days when Germany could rely on the United States for its defense were over—and that the country must start looking out for itself. 

Those fears have given new life to an old idea: a European nuclear deterrent. Just days after Trump’s election, Roderich Kiesewetter, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said that if the United States no longer wanted to provide a nuclear shield, France and the United Kingdom should combine their nuclear arsenals into an EU deterrent, financed through a joint EU military budget. Then, in February, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, spoke out in favor of the idea of the EU as a “nuclear superpower,” as long as any EU deterrent matched Russian capabilities.

17 June 2017

Uneasy Times In Europe As Continent Mulls Next Fighter

By DOUGLAS BARRIE

Today, Europe is faced with both: a Russia that is a strategic rival, and an American President for whom an ‘America First’ approach echoes the isolationism of the 1930s. The British vote to leave the grand endeavor of the European Union raises fundamental questions about Europe’s future. Add nationalist populism across Europe and the United States and the trans-Atlantic security environment is arguably at its lowest ebb since the early 1980s.

President Trump had the opportunity during his May visit to NATO to dispel concern amongst Alliance partners regarding Article 5, but he did not address it directly. He did finally affirm Article 5 during a press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, but to most Europeans and Canadians this was this remained grudging acknowlegment.

Trump did use his visit to upbraid member states over the failure of many to hit the 2 percent of GDP target for defense spending. It was a missed opportunity on two counts: spending more effectively rather than merely spending more is a point that needs making. As important, but left unsaid, is the plan to spend 20 percent of defense budgets on military equipment and research and development. Too many NATO member states continue to spend too much on personnel costs.

Europe Is Developing Offensive Cyber Capabilities. The United States Should Pay Attention.



It is no surprise that the United States and its European allies are looking to integrate offensive cyber capabilities as part of their military operations. Last year, the Pentagon boasted about dropping “cyber bombs” on the self-declared Islamic State group. France and the United Kingdom have built similar capabilities, as have smaller European states, such as Denmark, Sweden, Greece and the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, as NATO members rush to build their capabilities, they will quickly have to confront challenging trade-offs. Cyberweapons—or specifically the vulnerabilities they exploit—tend to be single use weapons: once a defender or vendor identifies a vulnerability being exploited, they can patch it, rendering the attacker’s capability useless as well as the capability of any other potential attacker who built a weapon around the same vulnerability. In other words, one state’s exploitation of a vulnerability will affect its allies’ ability to do the same.

16 June 2017

European cybersecurity policy - Trends and prospects

Iva Tasheva

This paper looks at the priorities for EU action on cybersecurity, including efforts to improve information and systems’ security, tackle cybercrime, counter cyber warfare, and improve the security of citizens online. As more and more aspects of our lives are connected to the Internet, we are also becoming more vulnerable to malicious attacks. A demonstration of this was given in May 2017, when a ransomware attack affected 200,000 computers, disrupting the work of hospitals, public transport, banks, service providers, delivery services, and businesses across the globe. This and other, similar occurrences, underline the urgent need to come up with a coordinated crisis response and a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy at EU level. In this Policy Brief, Iva Tasheva explores the different tools the Union has at its disposal, and argues that it should pursue a more balanced course between security and freedom, putting EU values at the core of its approach. She also calls for cybersecurity to be included in all relevant areas of policymaking, such as the (Digital) Single Market (e.g. online platforms, the data, collaborative, and app economy), education (knowledge, skills, and life-long learning), industry, innovation, investment, and defence cooperation.

14 June 2017

Deterrence through Resilience: NATO, the Nations and the Challenges of Being Prepared

By Guillaume Lasconjarias

Here’s what Guillaume Lasconjarias thinks – If NATO hopes to fulfill its Article V obligations, particularly against non-linear, hybrid threats that target whole societies, then it must focus on “a new kid in town” – resiliency. In other words, if Alliance members wholeheartedly invest in their collective ability to recover from systemic shocks and adapt to future risks and threats, they will create a broader foundation for collective deterrence and defense, and help fulfill NATO’s core tasks.

This article was originally published by the NATO Defense College (NDC)in May 2017

“In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.”1

Reading the founding document of NATO, i.e. the Washington Treaty, it becomes apparent that the founder members had already thought about the principle of resilience. By committing themselves to be prepared and able to sustain any shock they might suffer (at that time, clearly in the form of an armed attack), the Allies knew that being strong at home would be a source of strength for the Alliance as a whole. And because nations would not only be prepared individually but also benefit from the added protection of the collective defence principle, this would make deterrence a reality.

Deterrence through Resilience: NATO, the Nations and the Challenges of Being Prepared

By Guillaume Lasconjarias

Here’s what Guillaume Lasconjarias thinks – If NATO hopes to fulfill its Article V obligations, particularly against non-linear, hybrid threats that target whole societies, then it must focus on “a new kid in town” – resiliency. In other words, if Alliance members wholeheartedly invest in their collective ability to recover from systemic shocks and adapt to future risks and threats, they will create a broader foundation for collective deterrence and defense, and help fulfill NATO’s core tasks.

“In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.”1

Reading the founding document of NATO, i.e. the Washington Treaty, it becomes apparent that the founder members had already thought about the principle of resilience. By committing themselves to be prepared and able to sustain any shock they might suffer (at that time, clearly in the form of an armed attack), the Allies knew that being strong at home would be a source of strength for the Alliance as a whole. And because nations would not only be prepared individually but also benefit from the added protection of the collective defence principle, this would make deterrence a reality.

How to detect a potential terrorist? Heed warnings from people who know them

Jason Burke

In the last three months, the UK has suffered the most intense surge of terrorist activity for more than a decade. But who has attacked us?

The obvious answer is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis). The group has launched a global offensive during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. As a consequence, there has has been a surge of violence from Nigeria to the Philippines.

In recent weeks, there have also been other attacks elsewhere in the west, though thankfully without serious harm. In Paris, a policeman was bludgeoned with a hammer, and in Melbourne, Australia, a woman was held hostage and killed.

We do not know yet how closely the seven men responsible for these acts of violence were connected to Isis – even though the group has claimed responsibility for all of them.

Salman Abedi, the 23-year-old student who attacked in Manchester, might have been in touch with Isis when in Libya only 10 days before striking. Khaled Massood, who drove a vehicle into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and then stabbed a policeman to death outside parliament, appears to have been only inspired by the group. The shooting in Melbourne may not have been terrorism at all.

The attacks in the UK involved only five men, as far as we know. With those in Paris and Melbourne, that makes seven. Do they share any characteristics that might help our security services to identify future attackers and avert future tragedy?

12 June 2017

British Intelligence Fails Again

By Jytte Klausen

Following the third terror attack in the United Kingdom in two-and-a-half months, on Sunday British Prime Minister Theresa May went before the cameras to declare that “enough is enough” and outline a new round of anti-terrorism legislation. She pinned the blame for Britain’s vulnerability to terrorism on excessive toleration of extremist ideology—citing the “safe spaces” that exist online, and in British society generally, protecting the open expression of Islamist extremism. Addressing the problem, she said, will require “difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations.” 

The string of recent violence began on March 22 with an attack in Westminster, near the British Parliament. A 52-year-old convert to Islam, Khaled Masood, used a white van to strike pedestrians on a bridge. He then ran on foot into Parliament’s New Palace Yard, where he killed a guard before he was shot. On May 22 came the suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester, which was attended mainly by young girls and women. Salman Abedi, the bomber, was a local man who had traveled to Libya with his family some months earlier. He had returned to Manchester just four days prior to the attack.

10 June 2017

** Can Britain Stop Terrorists While Defending Civil Liberties?

Bruce Hoffman

“Here are the black days we have promised you,” ISIS boasted in the aftermath of Saturday’s brutal attacks in London. “What is coming will be more bitter and severe, insha’Allah,” the group also promised.

The bombing of a concert venue in Manchester two weeks ago, coupled with this latest tragedy, have shattered any illusions that last summer’s spate of bloody ISIS-directed and -inspired attacks during Ramadan was an aberration. British prime minister Theresa May’s defiant proclamation that “enough is enough” will counterintuitively have greatly pleased the perpetrators’ masters in besieged Mosul and beleaguered Raqqa. Despite its battlefield setbacks, ISIS has demonstrated that it is still capable of inspiring new outrages and striking at the heart of its enemies’ largest cities. The group’s continued ability to generate worldwide fear and alarm ensures that ISIS, alas, is here to stay—at least for the foreseeable future.

Sixteen years ago, Ayman al-Zawahiri’s exhortation that “With the available means, small groups could prove to be a frightening horror for the Americans and the Jews” completely fell on deaf ears. Lacking the power of social media and the specifically targeted “narrowcasting” capability of encrypted apps like Viber, Telegram and WhatsApp, al-Zawahiri could not hope to reach the vast audience or securely communicate with his would-be and actual followers that ISIS has achieved. In 2010, Osama bin Laden had also called on his followers to attack across Europe, relying on identically antiquated Internet communications. His summons accordingly gained little traction, much less the widespread attention that ISIS’s effective exploitation of cutting-edge social media has achieved.

Pressure in UK Building for Crackdown on Suspected ISIS Sympathizers

Source Link
MICHAEL LEITER

The investigation into London’s Saturday attack is moving quickly with police arresting at least a dozen people in connection to the incident. It came less than two weeks after a suicide bombing in Manchester left 22 people dead. The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani asked Michael Leiter, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, about the steps counter-terror investigators are now likely to take.

The Cipher Brief: What types of steps would UK investigators be taking now? 

Michael Leiter: This part of the playbook is — regrettably — very well developed. It starts with the perpetrators and the crime scenes. Who were they? Who are their contacts? Examining their phones, online history, travel records, family members, and the like. From there, officials will examine increasingly large concentric circles to understand all of the aspects of their contacts. In addition, thanks to London’s extensive CCTV, officials will be able to track their movements with some specificity.

Separately, British Prime Minister Theresa May will almost certainly now push on two fronts: disrupting online extremist activity; but, I believe, also look at how they can better address the overwhelming volume of threats being faced by the security services.

This may well lead to another push to lengthen pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects. Today, the UK has 28 days – with judicial review – to hold suspects pre-charging, but the Home Office (under May) has previously argued for 40 days, and I expect this will return. 

9 June 2017

How the British State Went to War with the Islamic State

Patrick Porter

Two brutal new attacks, a sterile old debate. Islamists slaughter civilians, some of them children, and cue a familiar argument about why. Is it because of who we are, Britain or the West? Or is the root cause rather what we do? It turns out that the two concepts of “being” and “doing” are hard to separate, and this battle of reductionisms won’t help us much. Britain needs to go beyond it. The country and its allies are at war with the Islamic State, objectively if not in full consciousness. Wars normally trigger retaliations. Blowback, like the Manchester attack, is not proof of failure. Reprisal is not defeat. The harder reality is something elected leaders rarely acknowledge: they cannot realistically promise safety. The true bargain on offer, an agonizing one, is that those people are asked to risk increased vulnerability to violence in exchange for a long-term effort to contain and suppress a dangerous movement. The potential for atrocities is not an aberration but built into the war’s logic.

A passage through Europe

Harsh V. Pant

While talking trade and terrorism, the Prime Minister also presented India as a defender of the global order

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Europe last week to galvanise India’s ties with key European powers as well as to keep the momentum of his past visit to Europe going. In what has now become his signature style, he touched upon key aspects of Indian foreign policy interests pertaining to each of the four nations — Germany, Russia, Spain and France. Despite Europe’s inward-looking foreign policy orientation at the moment, several aspects of Mr. Modi’s visit stand out which will help India over the long term.

Trade, ties and terrorism 

6 June 2017

*** Different Visions for Europe

Source Link 
By George Friedman

Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe could no longer rely on others, by which she clearly meant that Europe could no longer rely on the United States. The statement undoubtedly arose in part from her personal friction with Trump. Part of it had to do with politics: Trump is unpopular in Germany, and the German public, particularly the left, has had doubts about the German-American relationship. The country has federal elections in September, and Merkel is under pressure. Her statement generated support from segments of the population that don’t normally support her. But underneath personality and politics, there is a geopolitical reality that has been in place since 1991 and is now emerging fully into view. This reality is that Europe is fractured and, as a whole, its interests have diverged from those of the United States.

Beneath his unusual demeanor during the trip, Trump was representing a view – a rational view – that is increasingly common in the United States. This view holds that NATO was created as a coalition of countries with identical interests: preventing the Soviet Union from invading and occupying Western Europe. NATO was successful because its purpose was clear, there was a deep consensus, and although the U.S. carried much of the burden of defense, other European countries, particularly Germany, carried a share of that burden proportionate to their ability – and would bear the brunt of a Soviet invasion. The alliance made sense.