Dutch by birth, but European by choice. I grew up in the Netherlands on a quite lane in the village of Soestduinen, background in Informatics & Corporate Finance. Now having reached the Winter of my life, which feels more like Spring, with running, books and chess among some of my diversions.
I learned some things along the way as Shams Tabrizi said in his poem “Because life is too short”. The picture by Gregory Colbert, from his amazing exhibition “Ashes and Snow” which for me symbolizes tranquillity and harmony in our ever more unstable and confusing world.
This Blog expresses my personal opinions, and some may call them my “rants” about politics, George W Bush, Donald J Trump, Geert Wilders, US, European Union, Israel, North Korea, Russian sanctions and international relations in general.
This blog goes back to 2003 when I started writing about some topics and started raising my voice against the Iraq war. But it must be said, since my first posting “Pax America” my views on G.W. Bush have softened and today I am having a better understanding of that “man” of which some say, “to know the man is to like the man.”
Today we see a new reality has arrived for Europe in which 70 years of trust are ignored and the world order that we once knew and had become accustomed to no longer exists and the EU must respond. But these Atlantic divisions did not start with Trump, they started in earnest with Bush43 during 2003. A more independent course from the US after the German unification, including our own security and defence union and a European expansion strategy based on a two-speed European Union would have been preferable.
Bush43 said as a candidate “if we are an arrogant nation they will resent us” and he was right, part of the world saw him, not unlike Donald J Trump today, as a danger to world peace, attempting to destroy the institutions of international law that previous US administrations had carefully build. The strategy of Regime change as history shows is a bankrupt strategy.
This sentiments against the Bush administration grew with every assault on the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and every rejection of treaty based responses to climate change (Kyoto), withdrawal from the ABM treaty, the Middle East conflict or his unconditional US support for Israel.
Unconditional support for Israel is definitely too much to ask, although I grew up with great respect and admiration for the country which was rightfully established in 1947 which under Sharon and Netanyahu I do not recognize anymore, a Israel which has corrupted itself morally.
During 2003 Bush43 made us ask the same question which we ask today
“is this the kind of world we wish to live in, a Hobbesian world where might is right. A world which is incapable of meeting the real challenges such as poverty, education, environment, Aids, obstacles to economic development and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Or, do we wish to live in a world based on international law and universal values .
I have strong opinions about Capital punishment which I oppose and am in favour gun control and believe in America today, education, functional illeracy, prison reforms and inquality are some of the problems which need to be addressed with urgency.
The same can be said about my views on our national embarrassment the racists Geert Wilders and Marie Le Pen in France who has the same deplorable extreme right views as her father Jean-Marie Le Pen. Both are stimulating the forces of Nationalism, and we see the parallels between the present and the 1930’s with the same demonization, discrimination and isolation of vulnerable communities. In this regard the strong position of Angela Merkel welcoming refugees should only be applauded not rejected also given the demographic realities since Europe is becoming grey and the economic benefit is substantial.
After WWII we have moved towards a world in which international relationships are based on International Law and for the relationship between EU, Russia and US this was also influenced by the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and the 1990 Charter of Paris for New Europe. Our global, rules-based economic order with its values of free trade, the rule of law have, based on a system of norms, institutions and international partnerships have together with NATO brought security, stability and prosperity to Europe and has limited escalation.
Since the German unification we have moved towards a multi-polar world, a world which has greatly changed since the German unification.
The recent Russian attacks on international law and state’s sovereignty are most disturbing and completely unacceptable. So are the attacks against American and European democracies which are unprecedented and have only one purpose to obscure the truth and to destabilize our Free Liberal Society and the foundations of democracy which confirm Russia as an existential threat to Europe.
But the “economic sanctions” which we see today against Russian interests are unproductive and gave President Obama only the illusion of success. The reality is the sanctions have only caused a rebalancing of the China-Russian relationship, also influenced by present US policies are the absence thereof.
With Donald J Trump our world has changed greatly and Legal-, Moral-, Ethical-Bankruptcy and Nepotism and Self-enrichment have arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue On January 20th, 2017 “Black Friday. ”
What has arrived as David Frum wrote “The worst human being ever to enter the presidency, and I include all the slaveholders.”
Bill Kristol also not really a liberal said about his speech “Terms that don’t appear in Trump’s address: liberty, equality, freedom (though “freedoms” used once), duty, Constitution, self-government.”
Donald Trump is attacking our free Society, stimulating the forces of Nationalism and Racism which have in our common dark history opened to door to fascism. While Donald Trump has been attacking our World order and US institutions, creating chaos and destruction, Theresa May and others have been attacking our European house of which the UK is an essential part, of which advantages Baroness Margaret Thatcher was convinced.