Tag Archives: EU

FEAR AND LOATHING IN NEW JERSEY The 2016 US Election

This not-so-courageous blogger has ventured into the lion’s den to visit her sister as the US presidential election approaches its climax.on decision day: November 8th. To date, I have not broadcast my views on this platform, not for lack of strident opinions, but for more prosaic reasons. I have kept my political expression limited to outbursts on my private Facebook page where I have shared articles and news flashes about this brawl, also know as the Clinton – Trump presidential race.

Every election cycle brings with it far too little concentration on policies and problem solving and far too much mudslinging and defamation of the opponent. However, this time the vitriol is beyond vicious, the stakes are infinitely higher.

The US is poised on the brink of a precipice. If it now takes a wrong step, all the principles this country was built on will be shattered as they plummet into an abyss deeper than the Grand Canyon.

When in the past has the GOP succeeded in nominating a candidate it cannot support, where  elder Republican statesmen have declared they are voting for the Democratic opposition? This is unprecedented (No pun intended?).

No need for me to regurgitate all my reasons for opposing Trump and supporting Clinton. Thinking voters across the country – across the world! – have known for months exactly what these candidates represent. But with a choice between a seasoned, hard-working if flawed professional and a ranting, racist populist, well, there is just no contest.

I consider myself a student of history and have spent my entire adult life in Europe, where plenty of it happened in the 20th century. After World War II, the Americans were at the fore of rebuilding Germany into an exemplary democracy. The US, allied with Europe in NATO, stood as the guarantor of freedom in the face of the Soviet threat in the Cold War. Now, the great European democracies look west with horror in their eyes at the prospects of a Trump presidency, while Putin is rubbing his hands in glee.

My American friends and I in Germany have felt it necessary to apologize to the Germans and Brits we know for what has been going on in the US. It is as if their greatest mentor, their role model is outing itself as a charlatan.

Please, thinking fellow-Americans, get out there and vote for the only candidate who will  keep America great – Hillary Rodham Clinton!

 

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Filed under Europe, US Election 2016, World Wars

100 Years Later – And Still No Wiser?

The past few months have been full of reminders of the events in the summer of 1914 that drove Europe to the most destructive war ever seen by man to that date. Echoing the title of Christopher Clark’s monumental work on the beginnings of the Great War, the empires involved – Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France and Britain – sleep-walked into a conflagration that would change the continent physically, socially and politically forever. Seventeen million dead human individuals (9 m soldiers, 8 m civilians) from eight countries, that was the horrendous price paid for the hubris of emperors and politicians.

And yet that First global war has been eclipsed by the Second (with a total death toll approximated between 60 and 85 million!) in such a way as to have allowed the First to retreat into the dark black hole of memory we reserve for much of our history. This  centenary is the perfect opportunity to raise our collective – and personal – awareness of mankind’s inhumanity to its own species. Television is awash with programs to do just this and I can only recommend watching them.

And what is the point of digging up what is for some a period of history better forgotten? Besides remembering those who sacrificed their lives – on all sides and fronts – I still believe – if we really work at it – we are capable of learning from our past mistakes. Without the First World War and its ignominious Versailles Treaty (see photo below), there would have been no Second World War. Do any of us really want to experience a Third World War – with today’s nuclear potential?

Which brings me, the American ex-pat and German-by-choice, back to one of my favorite themes: The European Union…

The European Union may have many weaknesses and, Lord knows, we love to complain about its regulatory derailments and bureaucratic bloat, but it  is the child of a post-war France and a post-war Germany who were determined to end death and destruction on European ground. As a political body reacting to conflicts within as well as beyond its borders, Europe has a reputation for slow reactions. Think the Yugoslavian disintegration into war in the 90s, the recent Euro crisis and now the ever deepening Ukrainian crisis with its threat to the balance of power between the east and west. In these instances, however, I’d like to believe the slowness is deliberate. Rather than sliding –  sleep-walking – into escalating conflicts, today’s leaders must calculate their justifiable national interests and the consequences of pursuing them.

Personally, I am prepared to suffer a lot of somewhat inane and seemingly sclerotic bureauocracy from an as-yet-imperfect European political system if it prevents blood-letting on world war scales.

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Filed under Fiction and Other Truths, German History, Politics, Remembering, World Wars