Ukraine’s fall will only encourage Putin to continue down this path. And the consequences will be unpredictable. (article published 16 June 2022 – Observador)
1. The NATO-Russia Council was just over two years old when Boris Yeltsin nominated Vladimir Putin as Prime Minister. After that, gradually, what used to be a forum for consultation, consensus, cooperation, decision-making and joint action for security issues within the Euro-Atlantic region began to fade away. The reasons for detachment were not only due to old Russian suspicions about NATO enlargements. The installation of the NATO missile defense system in Europe also raised significant questions.
In 2007, Putin began to ask for a revision of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) seeking security enhancement. General Yuri Baluyevsky, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, acknowledged that Russia was considering unilaterally withdrawing from the INF Treaty, in response to the deployment of the NATO missile defense system in Europe and because other countries, like China, were not bound by the Treaty. In the same year, Russia suspended and later withdraw from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. Shortly thereafter, the Kremlin announced an 8-year investment of US$100 billion in modernizing its military capabilities and developing completely new nuclear missile systems. Today we know that Putin’s motivations were different. Russian actions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (2008), as well as Crimea (2014) and the present ignoble interference in Ukraine illustrate this statement.
2. There is, since 1725, in Russia, a document that, apocryphal or not, seems to have influenced its behavior as a State. Not even the 1917 Revolution and the consequent regime change altered the execution of the ideas contained therein: territory and influence. Just remember how the Bolsheviks reacted to the territorial loss imposed by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. I refer the Testament of Peter the Great.
In 2007, I authored an article – Crossroads – where I discussed Russia’s shift to a capitalist system and the resulting growth potential, saying that I would not be surprised if the germ of expansion reappeared. I said that the “heirs” of Peter the Great appeared to be revitalized. At least, as far as his current successor [Putin] was concerned in Russia’s resurgence on the world stage.
However, I missed one point in my analysis. I considered that Putin used the control system characteristic of the political apparatus of the former Soviet Union, but that he abandoned the communist system, merging these factors into the equation of democracy, when what Vladimir Putin was creating was an autocratic corporatist political structure, like the Chinese, under democracy’s guise.
Georgia, Crimea, and the invasion of Ukraine serve to prove Putin’s pattern of behavior. But something earlier happened that cannot be forgotten – Chechnya.
I have already written about Putin’s strange rise to power. As prime minister, and even as interim president, polls showed Putin had low levels of approval. Everything changed with the war in Chechnya. Do you remember what triggered this war? It was the explosion of bombs in apartment blocks in Moscow, attributed to Chechen terrorists. The Russian retaliation, which flattened Grozny (identical to what is happening in several Ukrainian cities) made Putin a popular hero.
Vladimir Putin has just compared himself to Peter the Great. Putin also hinted that without the 21-year war it would not have been possible for the Russian Tsar to found Russia’s new capital, St. Petersburg. built on land that no European country recognized as Russian. After hearing this, I wonder where Putin intends to establish the new Russian capital?
3. Why should we continue to support Ukraine? Because the fall of Ukraine will only serve to keep Putin on this path. He did not stop at Crimea; he will not stop at Donbass. European leaders must avoid pressure on Zelensky that imply territorial concession. As well as providing an incentive for Putin, it could also mean the end of Ukrainian unity around its President. What happens next? What effects will have the fall of Ukraine on the countries of the European Union and on NATO? Who can tell us that the war will not reach the borders of Poland and Germany? Especially if we show weakness. Make no mistake. It is in Ukraine that democracy, freedom, and respect for international law are being fought for.
How can we show more firmness? I know how the dynamics between the European institutions work, namely between the Commission and the European Council. I believe that Ursula Von der Leyen and that Charles Michel tend towards the integration of Ukraine in the EU. I support this measure, but I am concerned about the time such recognition involves.
Exceptional times require extraordinary responses. Therefore, I suggest an Ad Hoc procedure to speed up the process. I am aware of all the implications inherent in this suggestion. I am also aware that all candidate countries for accession must comply with the Acquis Communautaire and that there are other countries with previous requests. However, none of these countries have been invaded, nor are they at war. Furthermore, in the same Ad Hoc procedure, the subsequent conditions for Ukraine to become a fully-fledged Member State would also be expressed.
We must learn from the lessons of life and of history. Both the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have shown us that some decisions need to be reconsidered. We cannot remain dependent on just one country (either as a supplier or as a partner) and that, for example, we urgently need to formulate policies to encourage nearshore and onshore production in a myriad of areas. But what is at stake now is saving lives. It is not about deciding policies. We must reaffirm the Values we uphold. That is why we are deeply touched by the Ukrainians attitude. They are showing us that Democracy and Freedom comes at a cost.
It is undeniable that under Ursula Von der Leyen leadership, European sanctions have reached an unprecedented level. But it is necessary to go further. Vladimir Putin is not to be trusted. Hence, it is necessary to give an unequivocal sign of firmness.
To describe both Europe’s current circumstances and the measure of our resolve, Churchill’s sentence is the most fitting. Against those who uphold totalitarian ideas there is only one position: an unequivocally reaffirmation of democratic principles! One cannot just say. One must also act accordingly. And yes. Democracy and Freedom have costs!
Furthermore, by evoking Churchill and the context in which such words where expressed, we are remembered to what today is at stake. At the time, the choice was between defend or compromise our values and principles. At the time, despite all the warnings, Nazi threats were ignored.
Chamberlain was not willing to let go his appeasement policy. He was so keen to the idea that even after the Anschluss, Chamberlain went to the point of sanction Hitler’s desire on the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia (1938). Only after intense diplomatic pressure of the British (and the French) Government, did the Czechoslovakian President Edvard Beneš agreed with the demands for Sudeten autonomy. Later that year, the Munich Conference, classified by Chamberlain as the moment of “peace for our time”, handed over the Sudetenland districts to Germany. This signified the first sign of real concession, and we already know what happened next.
Hitler tactics were simple. Through local supporters, preferably with ethnic ties and endowed with political organization, subversive acts would be carried out to provide a pretext for German military action. Who was Hitler’s trusted man in the Sudetenland region? Konrad Henlein.
History is our greatest Teacher. We must learn its lessons. As such, it is primordial to bear in mind that even after all these events, among the British corridors of power there were those who argued for a peace treaty with Hitler. Imagine how history would have been if such moment had happened?
To have a better understanding of the subject under consideration, we also cannot disregard the consequences of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and its Secret Protocol, which defined the borders of Soviet and German spheres of influence across Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland.
Neither Stalin nor the Bolsheviks ever got over the territory loss caused by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918). The signing of the Treaty was all but peaceful. During the discussion within the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, when Lenin told the delegates that saving the world revolution required validate such shameful peace and if they did not sign, he would resign, he was called a traitor. So, Stalin saw in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact the opportunity to recover Lenin’s lost empire. As we know, in Yalta he went further, and soviet influence reached another level.
The aftermath of the Second World War represented the beginning of a new international framework. Faced with the failure of the League of Nations, the leaders of the Allied countries began a new process of international negotiation that culminated in the creation of a new intergovernmental organization, the United Nations (UN) and with it a new regulation for international law. Key examples are the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, varying from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations. One of the objectives expressed in its preamble is “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained” and all UN members are bond to it. Putin’s Russia is no exception.
Danielle Young says that “since its inception, whatever post-war international order that exists has been under siege.” Yes, as we live in a world of nations, we can accept that view. Within the realm of international relations, realism and the importance of power and the balance of power as guarantees of security reigns supreme. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that the current international environment is different from the one that prevailed before the Second World War.
Hans Morgenthau in its 1948 book – Politics among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace – enumerated the six principles of realism. Although he had stressed the significance of foreign policy ethic dimension, policy makers paid little attention to it. Today, unfortunately, two of Morgenthau’s tenets – that realism is a perspective aware of the moral significance of political action; and the moral aspirations of a single community or a state may not be universally valid or shared – are almost forgotten.
Throughout history how many times was language, and ethnic population, and “protection” evoked as an argument to disrespect international law? Putin and his supporters have been mimicking Hitler’s tactics.
Relations between Russia and Georgia began to worsen after the 2003 Georgian Rose Revolution, which caused the downfall of Eduard Shevardnadze and signal a pro-Western foreign policy aiming a European and Euro-Atlantic integration. By April 2008, relations between both countries reached a full diplomatic crisis, and in August Russia invaded Georgia. How did Medvedev justify this decision? Russia wanted to shield and help the two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Concerning the latter Putin also argued that the military intervention was to protect Osseitians from Georgian “genocide.” Who were the Kremlin friends in Abkhazia and South Ossetia? Sergei Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoyty.
In 2014, after the Kremlin loss of political influence due to Maidan Revolution and the consequent ousting of Viktor Yanukovych and his government, Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. Once again, Putin employed Nazi tactics. Pro-Russian demonstrations were held in Sevastopol, masked Russian troops without insignia took over the Supreme Council of Crimea and Sergey Aksyonov, a declared Kremlin supporter, with the presence of the gunmen armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and rocket launchers, was “elected” Prime Minister of Crimea.
What triggered Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine and annex Crimea? His concerns about the people of Crimea ability to freely express their will. That is why Russian troops occupied Crimea. To ensure freedom of speech and of choice. Curiously, while Yanukovych was in power and Russia maintained influence over the political decisions made in Kyiv, Putin saw no problem with the Crimeans freedom of expression.
Finally, what was the reason given by Putin to justify the invasion of Ukraine? “Denazification.” Intriguingly, the Kremlin gave no justification about the war crimes committed by the Russian troops, the attacks to civilians, and, among other things, the looting and theft of Ukrainian cereals.
Once again, the choice is between defend or compromise our values and principles. Once again, all warnings were ignored. All those, including Henry Kissinger, who say that we must find a way to save Putin’s face are wrong.
We keep neglecting Karaganov’s Doctrine. We keep disregarding Dugin’s concepts. We keep forgetting that Empire is the most enduring idea within all Russians elites, regardless of the epoch. We keep ignoring that Putin’s regime is nothing but a corporativist system. Let me ask you this. Concerning Crimea’s annexation what is more plausible? An act of Russian nationalism or an act of Russian imperialism?
Putin evaluated us in Georgia. Almost nothing was done. Putin annexed Crimea. Again, almost nothing was done. Putin invaded Ukraine. Finally, we are really reacting. But if our position weakens, Putin will do whatever and wherever he wants. Concerning Europe, this is what Putin and his staff desire: Russians want to be in, throw the Americans out and keep the Germans down. Which they will only accomplish with NATO disbanding.
The last thing we should do is save Putin’s face. Neither Putin nor his entourage can be trusted. Obviously, I am not advocating an invasion of Russia to overthrow Putin. That task falls entirely to the Russian people. What is essential to do is to unmask Putin’s lies, to show that he is an autocratic despot and to encourage those who have the courage to stand up to him through democratic procedures.
The latest form of Russian blackmail is the threat of nuclear war. Either they give me what I want, or else. We simply cannot give in. Nothing guarantees us that Putin will stop. In fact, his behavior indicates that what will surely happen are more abuses and demands. If Putin starts a nuclear war, it will not just be our children who will die. Losses will be global.
Circumstances may reveal people’s abilities, but it is choices that bring out character. Both Putin and Zelensky are revealing who they are. So must we. As such, we must be worthy of those who gave their last measure of devotion for us. We must show the same unwavering resolution and do what is right.
That is the only way we will properly honor those who allowed us to be what we are – Churchill, de Gaulle, Roosevelt, Pierlot, Dupong, Adenauer, Monnet, Schuman, Spaak, among many others.
Brevemente, num Observador perto de si!
The President of a country, whatever it may be, must, first and foremost, always keep in mind the fundamental text that regulates the society to which it belongs. If this condition already is essential for a citizen, as holder of a public office the observance of constitutional precepts acquires an increased responsibility. Furthermore, the Constitution must not only be known but must also be respected regarding political action and the conduct of the executive branch.
Secondly, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Americans chose as President a citizen who is unaware of the Constitution’s contente.
Donald Trump not only disrespects the US Constitution, but also attacks the values that have always characterized the United States.
One must ask: Is this the new America?
Freedom requires plurality and divergence of opinion.
Decidedly, Trump has a distorted notion of what freedom is and what should be the behavior of a President
And, unfortunately, in the United States, the spirit of democracy is getting darker and darker.
Trump campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again”. His inauguration speech was all about “America first, America first”. Evidently, these are catchy words that echo in peoples minds. And there’s nothing that prohibits Trump of expressing such kind of ideas. But, how exactly does Trump plan to do it? How will America be great again? And what are the costs inherent to such endevour? The future!
President Trump advocates that only a wall will enable American grandeur. And in order to finance the wall construction, Trump is cutting nearly $18B in medical research, infrastructure and community development grants. If this is his understanding on how to make America great again, I pity the american people. They got more than they bargained for and their future looks sad.
Even after discovering that unlike Trump’s campaign promise, Mexicans aren’t going to pay the wall I’m sure that americans prefer pay the building of a border wall instead of benefit from medical advances or scientific discoveries that will improve its lives. Why shouldn’t they?
But, hey, like Trump’s usually says “I’m the President and you’re are not!”. This phrase alone is enough to silence anyone and to solve any discussion or question. It’s magic! It’s “yugly” magic. All that Trump has to do is say it and immediately all problems will vanish. Just like that!
The main problem is that Trump deeply believes that this is true. Pure and simply, he isn’t aware of his own ignorance. As such, President Trump acts as if he knew everything and could do everything. The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the courts, the law, the american people happiness and future are nothing but obstacles that he must remove from his path. Why? Because America has to be great again. And an America with medical and scientific progress, with several infrastructures rather than solely a border wall, with community development grants, and with social development can’t be great.
Finally, America will once again be first, mainly because it will lose its natural environment. Forests, flowers, bears and wolves, who needs that? Climate change is just a hoax! Just ask President Trump. He will tell you!
There have not been a series of attacks on America and Europe by Vladimir Putin. There has been one single operation; it is the same operation.
Read here: Dear Mr. Putin, Let’s Play Chess
One must also consider field operations such as Russia’s annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Georgia, 2008) and of Crimea (Ukraine, 2014). It’s not a espionage move, but it’s also a chess move on a board of another level within the same operation.
If it is proven that the US presidential election were rigged by the Russians, can Mike Pence take office as President?
After all, he also was elected with such sabotage.
I know what are alternate realities or parallel universes. But, “alternative facts”? What the hell are “alternative facts” supposed to be?
Should we prepare ourselves for a new order? “The” Real New Order! Where reality is fiction and “alternative facts” constitute the only valid way to understand the world or to be part of it?
Or are we just reliving the past? Does anyone remember the Second Red Scare, the troubled period better known as McCarthyism, that plagued the United States of America from 1950 to 1957? McCarthyism, defined as “the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism”, and which still represents today an undeniable regression in terms of civil liberties and individual rights, began to wither away due to the courage and posture of several persons, including journalist Edward R. Murrow, who, at the time, stated: “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.”
Trump is in open war with the press. But not only. Trump confronts and discards all those who disagree with him. Trump is not available to the plurality of opinions. Hence, he prefers twitter, where there is no dialogue, but rather a monologue. Although this behavior is not new to Trump, the truth is that it became more pronounced since the announcement of his candidacy for the presidency of the United States and that, after his election, it seems that it will be established as a norm of conduct.
Will Trumpism have the same consequences of McCarthyism? The question is pertinent. Unquestionably, both practices of unfounded accusations and demagogic offenses against the character of opponents, whether political or not, are visible. In addition, we have to remember that times are different and that the breadth of individual freedoms and of the civic rights was considerably limited with the Patriot Act. Finally, as we are not seeing the execution of a planned strategy but rather the application of a distorted way of understanding democracy, and considering the fractured posture of “either with me or against me” or “leave, or you will be expelled”, trumpism, and its rules, does not augur a good future to the American democracy.
Negative circumstances which represented significant social setbacks and that were overcome in the past now seem to be rising from the grave. Compared with the populism that is now being asserted, the communism of the 1950s appears as a lesser threat. Finally, as if populism were no longer dangerous, elite populism, practiced and endorsed by Trump, contains in itself the seeds of even more harmful political and societal effects.
There is indeed a tendency for the repetition of certain historical cycles. I hope that advocates of plurality and difference of opinion will not fade away, that the press can persist, and that the truth will not vanish.
Only in this way can the definitive establishment of the corpocracy be averted. Not the one considered by Derber, Sachs, or Winters, among others, but rather a distorted oligarchy who would be nothing more than the capitalist version of Trotsky’s vision.
One thing is for sure. Trumpism is not an “alternative fact.” It’s both real and dangerous.
P.S. – Make no mistake. Trump is anything but a Republican. Trump is an egocentric narcissist devoid of moral principles.
In the second half of the 20th century, the main threat to democracy came from the men in uniform. Fledgling democracies such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Thailand, and Turkey were set back by dozens of military coups. For emerging democracies hoping to ward off such military interventions into domestic politics, Western European and American institutions, which vested all political authority in the hands of elected civilian governments, were offered as the model to follow. They were the best way to ensure that democracy, as Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan famously put it, became “the only game in town.”
Far from most thinkers’ minds was whether Western institutions might be inviting a different threat to democracy — personal rule, in which civilian state institutions such as the bureaucracy and courts come under the direct control of the executive, and the lines between the state’s interests and those of the ruler begin to blur. Most believed personal rule was something that applied only to the worst of the tin-pot dictatorships, such as that of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire, Daniel arap Moi in Kenya, or Sani Abacha in Nigeria. The checks and balances built in the fabric of Western institutions, the thinking went, would withstand any such usurpation.
Yet today we are coming to discover that contemporary democracy has its own soft underbelly — not so much a weakness against a cabal of colonels conspiring a violent takeover of government, but the gutting of state institutions and the incipient establishment of a variant of personal rule. Examples of personal rule include Venezuela under Hugo Chavez, Russia under Vladimir Putin, and Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan. These differ from the Mobutus, arap Mois and the Abachas of the world, because they are engineered by democratically elected leaders and maintain a much higher degree of legitimacy among some segments of the population But they still showcase how this process can irreparably damage institutions and hollow out democracy. Now, these examples are poised to include America under Donald Trump.
Trump appears to share several political goals and strategies with Chavez, Putin, and Erdogan. Like them, he seems to have little respect for the rule of law or the independence of state institutions, which he has tended to treat as impediments to his ability to exercise power. Like them, he has a blurred vision of national and personal interests. Like them, he has little patience with criticism and a long-established strategy of rewarding loyalty, which can be seen in his high-level appointments to date. This is all topped by an unwavering belief in his abilities.
What makes America vulnerable to being blindsided by such a threat is our unwavering — and outdated — belief in the famed strength of our institutions. Of course, the United States has much better institutional foundations and a unique brand of checks and balances, which were entirely absent in Venezuela, Russia, and Turkey. But many of these still won’t be much help against the present threat. Not only are America’s institutions particularly ill-equipped, in this moment, to stand up against Trump; in some cases they may actually enable him.
The first bulwark against any sort of personalizing threat to U.S. institutions is the country’s vaunted separation of powers. The legislature, elected separately from the executive, is supposed to stop in its tracks any president attempting to exceed his authority; it has indeed acted in this fashion during frequent periods of divided government, and when lawmakers on the Hill could follow their own constituencies’ wishes and their own principles.
Their capacity to do this, however, is much less true today, thanks to a historic rise in polarization between Republicans and Democrats and a pronounced shift toward party discipline. Consequently, as political scientists Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole, and Howard Rosenthal document in their book Polarized America, House members and senators are now very unlikely to deviate from their party line. Such a rise in partisanship comes at the worst possible time, just as these protections are needed most. But given how quickly the Republican Party has regrouped around Trump on most issues, it would be optimistic to imagine a principled resistance to his appointments and most policy initiatives from a Republican-dominated Congress.
And so it follows, in turn, that the check on presidential power from an independent judiciary, the second leg of the separation of powers stool, is also unlikely to hold up. In truth, judicial independence in the United States has always been somewhat precarious, dependent on norms much more than rules. The president not only appoints justices to the Supreme Court and top federal judges (a prerogative Trump appears set to fully utilize), but also controls the Department of Justice through his attorney general. Any institutional resistance to inappropriate nominees would only be offered up by Congress, which, as discussed, seems poised to take Trump’s machinations lying down. And so the judicial institutions, too, are headed toward pliancy.
America’s weakest point when it comes to resisting personal rule may lie in the executive’s unique relationship with the institution that makes up the very heart of government: the bureaucracy itself.
But America’s weakest point when it comes to resisting personal rule may lie in the executive’s unique relationship with the institution that makes up the very heart of government: the bureaucracy itself. In many other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Canada, where most of the bureaucracy and high-level positions in the judiciary are non-partisan civil servants, state institutions can go about the business of governing while remaining mostly immune to executive attempts to establish personal rule. Not so much in the United States, where Trump is appointing his people to oversee 4,000 high-level posts in the civil service and the judiciary, essentially shaping a bureaucracy ready to do his personal bidding. This is the sort of power that the likes Chavez, Putin, and Erdogan had to acquire more slowly. (Erdogan, for example, is still locked in an epic struggle to change the Turkish Constitution to officially assume the powers of an executive presidency, even if he has already acquired many of those powers in practice.)
Why is the United States so defenseless in the face of the Trump threat? Because, to a large extent, the Founding Fathers wanted it this way. As Woody Holton recounts in Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution, despite the emphasis on the separation of power in the Federalist Papers, the main struggle that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and George Washington were engaged in was to build a strong federal government and reduce the excessive powers granted to the states in the Articles of Confederation, which had left the country in close to complete chaos. The separation of powers was meant only as a counterbalance to this strong presidency.
In this, they succeeded, but only partially. The U.S. president is indeed hugely powerful in the extent to which he can shape not only foreign but also domestic policy, especially if he can get Congress behind him. However, his hands are tied when it comes to the states’ rights, a concession that the framers had to give to powerful state representatives to garner enough support for the Constitution. This is the reason why some of the strongest resistance shaping up to Trump’s policies is already coming from states like New York and California, where governors have pledged to stand against his immigration policies.
But over time, the federal government has grown, as it has accrued, by necessity and choice, ever more responsibility in domestic and international politics. States, by contrast, have far less power than they did at the end of the 18th century. Massachusetts and Vermont can resist federal policies, creating, perhaps, little liberal policy bubbles. They can have very little impact, however, on the personalization of the country’s most powerful levers of government, including the federal judiciary, dozens of major agencies, trade and fiscal policy, and foreign affairs. Nor can they do much to influence the perception of the new direction of U.S. politics in the minds of Americans and the world.
This leaves us with the one true defense we have, which Hamilton, Madison, and Washington neither designed nor much approved of: civil society’s vigilance and protest. In fact, this is not unique to the United States. What is written in a constitution can take a nation only so far unless society is willing to act to protect it. Every constitutional design has its loopholes, and every age brings its new challenges, which even farsighted constitutional designers cannot anticipate.
The lack – and in fact active discouragement — of direct social participation in politics is the Achilles’ heel of most nascent democracies. Many leaders of newly emerging nations in the 20th century, who professed as their goal the foundation of a democratic regime, all but prevented the formation of civil society, free media, and bottom-up participation in politics; their only use for it was mobilizing core supporters as a defense against other leaders seeking to usurp or contest power. This strategy effectively condemned their democracies to permanent weakness.
We saw this at work in Venezuela, Russia, and Turkey, where decades, if not centuries, of unfree media and prostrate civil society ensured there was no effective defense against the rise of personal rule. The U.S. tradition of free, rambunctious journalism, exemplified by the muckrakers and vibrant protest movements going back to Populists and Progressives should help us.
Yet there are reasons to be concerned that this last brake on executive power may, too, fail. Trump is in the process of being accepted and legitimized by American elites and the wider public. Just the knowledge that he will be the country’s next president confers upon him a huge amount of authority and respect. We avidly follow his appointments, his interviews, and his stream of consciousness on Twitter. Many pundits and public intellectuals are trying to see the silver lining, hoping against hope that he will govern as a moderate Republican. Many of my fellow economists are eager to give him advice so that he does not follow through on his disastrous pre-election economic plans.
When the previously unthinkable becomes normalized, it is easy for many to lose, or at the very least ignore, their moral compass. How quickly Trump’s brand of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, off-the-cuff foreign policymaking, and systematic mixing of family and state are becoming accepted is more than a cause for passing concern.
We have to keep reminding ourselves that we do not live in normal times, that the future of our much cherished institutions depends not on others but on ourselves, and that we are all individually responsible for our institutions. If we lose them to a would-be strongman, we have only ourselves to blame. We are the last defense.
Trump is not going to govern.
He is going to TWIVERN!
(which is much more yuge!)
Trump’s election, which must be respected as it is a democratic manifestation, does not offer a sense of security.
However, my main worries are related with the day after the day after.
This may just be the beginning of a even more profound change. Much worse will be Trump’s impeachment. And the hypothesis is not implausible.
Mike Pence is a committed creationist and an tea party element. Can you imagine his type of presidency?
Michael Moore predicts Trump’s presidential victory and advances five reasons for that outcome.
Coup d’état? I’m not buying it.
The lack of coordination evidenced yesterday by the military forces who carried out the alleged coup in Turkey is not consistent with the international reputation of the Turkish army. The televisions showed a helicopter firing, trying to hit targets on the ground. But where were the impact of the bullets? Neither human bodies nor the road, signs or anything else were hit.
I cannot shake the feeling that yesterday events in Turkey were orchestrated by Erdogan, aiming increase its power. We are witnessing a purge, designed to eliminate all those who oppose Erdogan. Both within the Turkish army as within his own party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP). This purge aims especially the military and the AKP members that still are Gulenists.
Historically, as it sees itself as the protector of Turkey’s secularism and democracy, the Turkish army has intervened in the political sphere, whenever deemed necessary to preserve democracy. The military has had several tensions with Erdogan’s AKP over its brand of political Islamism. Moreover, Mr. Erdogan’s relationship with justice also is not peaceful, but so far the decisions of the Turkish Constitutional Supreme Court have been in accordance with the rule of law.
Since the 2007 General Staff’s E-memorandum, targeting Erdogan’s non-secular politics, the relation between Erdogan and the military worsened. The 2010 constitutional referendum, which gave Erdogan’s government more control over judicial system, allowed the creation of prosecutors with extraordinary powers to accuse secular high-rank officers in the military, for planning a coup against Erdogan’s government. These prosecutions originated a power shift within the Turkish army and the result was the end of the secular military position.
With this move, Erdogan will be able to full control the military and to remove any opposition. Including the press.
Make no mistake. What is at stake is power. Absolut power. And how that goal will materialize is irrelevant. As such, it does not matter if it will be a Caliphate, an Islamic republic or something else. Whatever it is, it will seriously affect Turkish democracy and the rule of law. Most likely, permanently.
A curfew, martial law and the preparation of a new constitution was announced. What will emerge from a new constitution is not important. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long sought such circumstances. He wants to be Turkey’s ruler until his death. At least! Erdogan wants to be greater than Ataturk and in order to achieve that aura he will erase democracy in Turkey.
P.S. – NATO is the big question. I believe that is prudent to begin considering the possibility of Turkey leave NATO.
Independentemente das dificuldades, devíamos fazer o mesmo.
Having in mind certain circumstances one can and must understand some decisions such us the latest agreement on Greece. However, we should not neglect the pattern of behavior evidenced by the greeks.
I do not share the general view about the Grexit.
When a unit loses one of its parts, after the adaptation of such loss the degree of cohesion is greater than the original.
Furthermore, the Greeks need again to be able to devalue a currency, which it’s impossible while they remain within the euro.
Today, more than ever, Voltaire’s words (Je désapprouve ce que vous dites, mais je me battrai jusqu’à la mort pour que vous ayez le droit de le dire) are an example of difference, clearly reflecting the distinction between civility and barbarity.
This type of extremists, or any other, is not interested in dialogue.
They do not appreciate democracy or have respect for freedom and only show contempt for other cultures, especially to those who welcomed them.
Obviously, not all muslims are extremists. But, if we remember Edmund Burke’s words, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”, where are the voices of the good muslims?
However, actually, these are not enough. More is demanded.
We want Muslim communities also defend our freedom of expression.
We want reciprocity!
Interferências do homem na Ciência e na Religião
(Man interferences in Science and Religion)
My friends wonder why I know a lot about physics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and immunology, mainly when I don’t have any academic degree in these fields and, especially, because I’m a Political Science and International Relations PhD student.
The answer is simple.
I follow and study these fields because, in my opinion, they have the highest potential to change human behaviour.
Concerning Europe, this is what Putin and “entourage” desire:
Russians want to be in,
throw the Americans out
and keep the germans down.
Which they will only accomplish with NATO disbanding.
The work of lifetime is proven.
Estamos prestes a entrar numa nova era.
Oficiosamente já a vivemos, mas quando o primeiro governo cair por causa da crise, entraremos oficialmente no tempo em que a economia subjuga a democracia.