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On Nuclear Weapons, Obama's Policy Shift Aims Mainly at Proliferation Risk

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In nuclear-weapons policy, President Barack Obama has redefined the purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Since the birth of the atomic bomb and the onset of the cold war, these weapons have been justified as a deterrent against attack by a rival superpower. That fear no longer exists, and the Obama administration has responded to strategists’ conclusion that the real current danger has changed. Now it has become the threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons and the concurrent rising risk that nuclear weapons may fall into terrorists’ hands. As a result, the Obama administration wants to assign the U.S. nuclear arsenal and nuclear doctrine a new main purpose: increasing global political pressure against nuclear proliferation.

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Does Berlin's Economic Dogmatism Risk Turning the EU into “A Big Germany”?

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The debate over the crisis in the euro and the eurozone has thrown up a counter-argument to the theme of blaming the crisis on lax fiscal management by Athens. True, the Greek authorities mislead other governments about their real debt problem. But a deeper explanation for the crisis may lie in a recent economic pattern in which Germany has managed to stifle its own domestic demand and thus keep down inflation at home while thriving on its exports to less productive countries – such as Greece. This argument leads a worrying conclusion about the future: there can be no effective long-run way of “reforming” the eurozone, with tighter enforcement on deficit ceilings, unless the German authorities agree to stimulate more domestic consumption to replace part of its export-led growth. The alternative? If Germany succeeds in simply pushing the weaker, southern European countries into smaller fiscal deficits, the result will be a eurozone with chronically weak internal demand and growth.

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Can the Pope Save it? The Catholic Church -- Pillar of European Establishment – Threatened with Collapse of Credibility

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As revelations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests continue engulfing Western Europe, the Pope – who publicly pledged to revive Christianity in the Continent – finds the church, his papacy and even himself desperately on the defensive. The scandal stems not only from child molestation by priests but also from the church’s apparent decades-long cover-up of the practice and its practitioners in the clergy.

In its broadest context, the Catholic church’s scandal seems likely to reinforce other trends in European society that have weakened trust in official institutions of both church and state. In that sense, the fate of the papacy has geo-political implications – which start with the credibility of the pope himself.

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Does Berlin's Economic Dogmatism Risk Turning the EU into “A Big Germany”?

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The debate over the crisis in the euro and the eurozone has thrown up a counter-argument to the theme of blaming the crisis on lax fiscal management by Athens. True, the Greek authorities mislead other governments about their real debt problem. But a deeper explanation for the crisis may lie in a recent economic pattern in which Germany has managed to stifle its own domestic demand and thus keep down inflation at home while thriving on its exports to less productive countries – such as Greece. This argument leads a worrying conclusion about the future: there can be no effective long-run way of “reforming” the eurozone, with tighter enforcement on deficit ceilings, unless the German authorities agree to stimulate more domestic consumption to replace part of its export-led growth. The alternative? If Germany succeeds in simply pushing the weaker, southern European countries into smaller fiscal deficits, the result will be a eurozone with chronically weak internal demand and growth.

The result? According to the Financial Times’ respected Martin Wolf would be bleak. “Germany and other similar economies might find a way out through increased exports to emerging countries. [But] for its structurally weaker partners – especially those burdened by uncompetitive costs [like Greece and the other PIIGS] – the result would be years of stagnation, at best. Is this to be the vaunted ‘stability’?”

Put bluntly by an American commentator, “Germany’s idea of fiscal discipline is a deflationary vacuum that is desirable only for an export powerhouse with low consumption – in other words, Germany.” He cites Wolf’s conclusion that the result of German ambitions are “putting the eurozone, the world’s second largest economy, on its way to being a big Germany.”

It is now a widely debated question: Is Germany is revealing a paradigm shift away from its traditional reflex of putting European integration at the top of its political priorities? Is a new Germany suddenly ready to re-nationalize and even expand its Germanic vision for Europe? How far will Chancellor Angela Merkel go in clinging and seeking to impose German economic dogma? Spiegel notes that German chancellors’ approach in the past was to quietly and steadfastly pursue her interests in Brussels with the help of key partners or the European Commission. The ultimate goal was not to isolate Germany within Europe. ”Merkel is now the first chancellor to have abandoned this principle on an important issue. She has made it clear that there are German interests and European interests, and that they are not necessarily the same.”

 

 

 
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Obama and Europe: Some Difficulties Raised by Mis-Matched Personalities and Lack of Compelling Agenda

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This well-reported narrative of Obama's experience with European leaders appeared this month in the National Journal, a respected, high-priced weekly in Washington. The article explains why the U.S. and Europe, as far as their leaders are concerned, often seem these days to be trains passing in the night. The tenor of Will Eugland's nicely-nuanced account --
Obama's Lukewarm Start with Europe -- is confirmed, in private, by officials on both sides of the Atlantic. The text was released to European Affairs, exceptionally, from the National Journal's subscriber-only content file thanks to the help of Tim Clark. A member of European Affairs' editorial advisory board, he works for the National Journal’s parent company, Atlantic Media Co.

 
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Financial Regulatory Reform Makes Sudden Headway in U.S. -- But Trans-Atlantic Coordination Exposed to Eurozone Woes

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By J. Paul Horne

 

President Obama’s dramatic victory on healthcare reform may have had a collateral impact in kick-starting financial regulatory reform. The conventional wisdom in Washington has been that the high political expenditure on the health bill precluded any other major legislative initiative until after the mid-term elections in November. But the passage of the health bill may have triggered a new political dynamic. Over the weekend, as the bill was passing, Republican Senators, apparently worried by their weakened overall position, withdrew hundreds of amendments to a proposed bill reforming financial regulation. The text, drafted by Senator Chris Dodd, the Democrat who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, was voted out of the committee and onto the Senate floor for debate this week.
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IMF Involvement in the Greek Crisis Should be Welcomed -- As a “Face-Savior” for Germany

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It is welcome news that Germany seems to be swinging in favor of a role for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in helping Greece salvage its financial credibility and reform its basic economic structures.

After weeks of pledges of political and financial support, Angela Merkel appears ready to send Greece crawling to the IMF. Germany cites legal reasons for its position. In past rulings, its constitutional court has interpreted the stability clauses in European law in the strictest possible sense. "It is hard to say whether this argument is for real or is just an excuse not to sanction a bail-out that would be politically unpopular. It is probably a combination of the two," according to Wolfgang Munchau in the Financial Times on March 21st.

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Slow Start for Europe's "Diplomatic Service" Signals Birth Pangs -- or Worse Problems

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Europe’s “diplomatic service” is getting off to a slow start, with some initial deadlines already bound to be overrun. The practical difficulties of setting up the “External Action Service” (EAS) are turning out to be more considerable than planners apparently imagined, and many officials are now saying, as suggested here in European Affairs late last year, it may take the lifetime of a European Commission or even two for the new arm of EU collective diplomacy to show its muscle.

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EU Bail-Out For Greece? Time Has Come, Reportedly, To Do It -- With Conditions

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Greek Signal by Germany (and France) will help Eurozone, not just Athens

The major nations of the eurozone have agreed on a $25 billion bail-out plan for Greece, a crucial first step in practical help and solidarity from the EU to help one of its weakest member-states survive its debt crisis.

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U.S. Aerial Tanker Contract Decried As Symptom of Protectionism

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Transatlantic Press Review: Pentagon Slammed for Poor Management

The collapse of the joint tanker bid by Northrop Grumman and EADS triggered extensive and strongly worded media criticism on both sides of the Atlantic of the Obama administration’s handling of the bidding process by the Pentagon. These commentaries are echoed in private by many U.S. and European officials, who say that it further dims hopes for reversing a declining trend in transatlantic defense relations, starting with defense-industrial cooperation.

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In Practice, Leaders’ Refusal to Grapple with Immigration Breeds “Dark Tribalism”

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In Practice, Leaders’ Refusal to Grapple with Immigration Breeds “Dark Tribalism”

Almost in a fit of absent-mindedness, major European countries have become magnets for immigration. Between 1990 and 2009, 26 million migrants arrived in Europe -- compared to 20 million to America – a country that (unlike Europe) naturally thinks of itself as a land of immigrants.
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Claims for Internet as “Right” for Citizens are Spreading Worldwide

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Global Poll Offers New Proof of Web’s Widening, Deepening Societal Role

Nearly 80 percent of people around the world think that access to the internet should be a “fundamental right,” according to a global poll conducted by the BBC World Service.  Covering 26 countries, it surveyed 27,000 adults, including both internet users and people not using the web. The survey showed that str(79 percent) answered “yes” to a question on people’s entitlement to internet access  – a view implying both a demand for the expansion of high-speed broadband telecommunications infrastructure and also opposition to unreasonable charges or censorship on users.

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Legislating “Genocide” in Armenia — What Can Congress Possibly Be Thinking?

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Once again the US Congress is mystifying the world and seriously muddying US-Turkey relations by trying to pass a resolution declaring that it was “genocide” when over a million Armenians were massacred in 1915 by Ottoman Turks. The proposed U.S. measure was passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in early March.

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Immigration in Europe Now at Crisis Point -- More New Blood, Not Less, May be Answer

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In Practice, Leaders’ Refusal to Grapple with Immigration Breeds “Dark Tribalism”

Almost in a fit of absent-mindedness, major European countries have become magnets for immigration. Between 1990 and 2009, 26 million migrants arrived in Europe -- compared to 20 million to America – a country that (unlike Europe) naturally thinks of itself as a land of immigrants.

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