we are living in rather turbulent times and sometimes it isn't easy to decide on what subject to write and publish first. Although currently the German version of events concerning the current and future European security situation in the wake of a much more aggressive Russia is 'under construction', one has to recognize that blog entries published in English attract far more potential readers, and what's even more important: readers from different European countries, not just those who speak/understand German.
As always the publication starts with a a certain time period which is spent on collecting sufficient data regarding one specific subject and in the end not only most pressing events dictate the date of publication, but also if the question: "Where's the beef" is sufficiently answered. Although it is always the aim to be as factual as possible this author can't deny that he wrote on behalf of European stability, freedom and prosperity for all citizens of Europe. Not for those of former 'old' Europe (i.E. Western Europe) and not for those of 'new' Europe (i.E. Eastern Europe), but for Europe as a whole.
Much too late at least some members of the "free press" are starting to dig up the dirt, which might have helped to fulfill the Kremlin's wettest dreams. After the USA belatedly started to dig deep by letting special counsel Mueller find out what really happened what was obvious to the open minded observer, now some people in the UK start to ask overdue questions. Although at this point in time there isn't any hard evidence that the vote telly was rigged, it's fair to assume that the voters' minds have been influenced to some degree by a sophisticated campaign hammered out long before by Kremlin kingpins.
Before there will be some elaboration on this subject please do also read those pieces:
Egomanen als Waffe, halbherzige Regierungen als Zuträger [EZRopinion, Mar 19 2017] engl.:egomaniacs as a weapon, half-hearted politicians as supporters
In short a description of utterly naive politicians getting played by the Kremlin, while institutions with a high degree of expertise watching helplessly how their ship(country) sinks....
How Putin could yet save Britain from Brexit [Nov 2 2017, The Guardian]
We must get to the truth about Russia and Brexit [Nov 3 2017,The Times ($)]
Active measures: Russia’s Brexit Subversion [The American Interest, Nov 9 2017 (h/t:@20committee)]
The main points regarding the Brexit referendum in the UK which were made in German language in the EZR blog post published in March of this year will be repeated in this blog post. (this time in English)
Basically the points EZR made in late 2011 concerning the inability of national EU politicians to see the 'big picture' which almost led to the destruction of the Euro area are still valid 6 years on. In 2011 it was said that Europe need politicians to rescue the monetary union which are more like Superman than just Clark Kent. (The Canadian prime minister Trudeau showed last Halloween that he at least wears his Superman uniform underneath his more formal outfit)
Six years ago there was a prediction that a bunch of Clark Kents wouldn't be able to defend Europe against an offensive from Russia, which at the time was used just to show that politicians stopped making careful moves since the Cold War ended. Politics has changed into a profession without the necessity to think twice what steps to make, what directions to go or what policies to pursuit. It was written that many politicians got either lazy and careless or they are too young to remember the restraints which had be observed during the confrontation between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
Six years on we now have not just Beppe Grillo in Italy, but light spirited people, some say clowns, like Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson which seems to be fixated on their own ego and how to be as popular as possible by their preference of 'publicity stunts' over solid policies. Although the European degree of stupidity isn't as high as the current American one it's sufficient to endanger the fate of whole countries like the UK.
A reminder from the airline industry to listen to expertise
In today's aviation business one system developed to prevent mid-air collisions called TCAS guarantees that planes don't collide because of the human error factor. Before the system was globally introduced pilots and air traffic controllers sometimes made mistakes regarding the flight level and direction which led to often fatal accidents, because very often because of the weather or darkness they couldn't see the other planes heading in their direction. Pilots steer not only their aircraft but also the fate of their passengers and so do heads of governments as 'pilots' of their countries.
TCAS is some kind of 'automatic negotiator' based on the aircraft's own technical systems which can predict that the plane is on a collision course with another aircraft. When it detects such an event one plane's pilot is literally told to climb to a higher flight level, while the other plane's pilot is told to descent. So far it's not an automatic system which takes over control of the aircraft and changes flight levels on their own, but it sends out strong acoustic warning to the pilot. If the pilot ignores those warnings and doesn't follow TCAS's instructions he, as well as other crew members and all passengers, is most likely doomed. A pilot can consider him/herself as 'strong leader' in the short period of time from ignoring the first unambiguous instructions to the final impact, while the rest of the crew may have started to pray for God's mercy and the passengers aren't aware of the imminent life threatening danger. The rest of the crew might not only have discovered their religious feelings, but also think in their last minutes of their lives of how to reverse the stubborn or mad (or both) captain's fatal decision to ignore the flawless TCAS system.
Being exploited vs seeking collusion
In general there is a difference of politicians of just being ignorant of the dangers of being exploited by not so friendly other governments which might follow an agenda of bringing down or at lest significantly harm a country or a group of countries it considers as danger to their government's policies.
Just as there's a difference between a stubborn pilot who chooses to ignore TCAS warnings and a pilot who disables the TCAS system before the plane's take off in order to ram it into another aircraft. The efforts of an 'unfriendly government' to undermine sane decisions could be compared to a zealous activist of 'an anti-aviation campaign', a sworn enemy of all air travel who really likes it when airliners collide with each other and passengers decide out of fear to use trains instead of airliners. Such a saboteur just as the suicidal captain, could either try to sabotage the TCAS system of one plane, or he could see to it that pilots' training and regulations encourages air crews to ignore TCAS warnings as it tragically happened with the passenger aircraft which collided with a freight aircraft near the West-German town of Überlingen.
Here's an example of active collusion, not just being a 'useful idiot':
Mr Salmond appeared on RT before when he was interviewed by RT hosts using a live link to Scotland, where he described his vision for Scotland, which might be categorized as 'useful idiot', but hosting a TV show of his own on Russia's state broadcaster is a step further than that. One might also ask if there aren't any free media in Scotland and if Mr Salmond's SNP party is a small party which might have been neglected by local media. Of course it's not , since the SNP is in the driver's seat for some years now, they enjoy a majority in Scotland's parliament, and Ms Sturgeon is Scotland's first minister. So it can be assumed that ego of such politicians takes over and let them 'forget' that they collude with sworn enemies of the countries they enjoy to live in or they even govern ! They also don't seem to care about the fact that many, if not most, people in their constituencies might have never heard about RT before or even watched that channel.Salmond’s a useful idiot: The very fact that he has a show on RT is aiding Kremlin propaganda. https://t.co/RWv1QHgUwe— Euan MacDonald (@Euan_MacDonald) November 10, 2017
If leading policians who feel the 'urgent need' to boost their ego and seeking publicity on hostile foreign TV channels one could also ask why national security services are not abandoned when politicians who run democratic countries like the UK or Scotland are being as much harmful to their countries future as possible while supporting the policies of the opposing countries? Don't those politicians realize what they are doing, or are they fully aware of what they are doing and they just don't care ?
Some obviously also don't care about deceiving the public with unrealistic or even made up promises or claims such as the 350 million pounds per week for the NHS. Those who seek to get elected into public office should show some responsibility and shouldn't make empty promises when they contradict the facts. Regarding any second referendum on Scotland's independence the economic consequences should be emphasized also by those seeking support for their 'Scoxit referendum'. Economic data such as oil and gas revenues and also demographic facts like:
Number of Scots OAPs to rise by quarter over 25 years [STV, Oct 2017]
shouldn't get polished, hidden or manipulated in any way in order to uphold one's own political narrative.
Mr Salmond's collusion is perhaps not endorsed by his SNP colleagues and it certainly is 'just' the fallout of the Brexit referendum debacle of Mr Cameron, who thought that he can use last year's referendum to silence the eurosceptics in his party and of course could counter the perceived threat of UKIP and its leader - Mr Farage. Concerning UKIP it wasn't necessary since the party was on the decline anyway and just held one seat in the house of commons while their leader was more present on the nation's TV screens than in its democratic institutions. Concerning the Eurosceptics he lost the gamble along with George Osborne, who is blamed in one the those articles recommended above for tolerating Russian aggressive behavior in exchange of the continuation of the influx of large amounts of Russian money into especially London's real estate sector and the UK economy as a whole. So in hindsight the failure of winning last summer's referendum was helped perhaps significantly by those forces who enjoyed all those privileges over the years. The establishment lost not only by a 52 to 48 percent outcome, but the UK was also divided in the aftermath of this referendum. A majority of the Scottish people voted for staying in the European Union as did the inhabitants of Northern Ireland, while the English and the Welsh voted to opt out the perceived 'strangling regulations of the EU'.
Parties represent long term policies and stability
Recent turmoil in the USA mainly caused by just one individual and his wake many other similar characters which didn't represent the values and traditions of a very old party and American institution - The GOP - made it clear that a nations' established and perhaps ancient old party can be destroyed or at least be harmed significantly by a 'hostile take over'. Just as an enterprise which isn't aware of a hostile take over effort it can be taken over when its internal checks and balances don't work properly anymore and instead of following perhaps a very slow evolutionary change of policies it's becoming more likely to radically change or even U-turn a party's former convictions. By neglecting a thorough vetting procedure when choosing candidates who seek election into public office, a party enables Trojan horses using an established 'trade mark' to pursuit their own agenda instead of the well known and established party's agenda or policy. If political parties abandon their moral and also long term political compass in order to just appear 'popular' by serving the rage of the masses who might feel neglected or who have a longing for keeping their society they way the imagine it to be 'perfect', a certain kind of nostalgia. The English may want to remain forever like a large scale 'Midsomer', but then without the crime and the necessity of having a detective Barnaby. No or at least not many immigrants, building codes that allow only for styles like in the 19th Century or before that and not too many foreign or modern influences on their society, which can be titled 'Good old England'. A nostalgia not countered by politicians seeking election into office by reminding people that history usually doesn't freeze the developments of societies, except in certain dictatorships where society can both stay poor and 'pure' at once. (e.g. North Korea)
Regarding 'stability' the current British government isn't really helping the Tories, since the current turmoil after the resignation of ministers Hammond and Patel and the upcoming battle for the Tory leadership the party itself will come into difficulties once the British economy tanks after a 'hard Brexit' as many have already predicted. It's also an irony that the Conservatives might be responsible for the breakup of the UK when the Scottish independence isn't regarded as impossible as before and Northern Island could be either lost to a united Ireland or the territory could plummet again into chaos, which rocked not only Northern Ireland, but also the British mainland in the 1970s and 1980s. The question an outsider inevitably asks: is all this worth gaining just another victory in a general election and an extension of being in charge of of the country for another few years or just months ? Don't those parties look any further nowadays than the next battle at the ballot boxes ? Aren't the foreign relations of nation or its trade links established in decades not worth preserving ? Speaking of preserving: Isn't it an irony the Conservatives dared to risk all that worth preserving for a new, almost unknown future ? If they cherish the glorious moments of British history, which epoch do they want to preserve then ? I guess nobody knows exactly what they want, as long as they are able to 'take back control' ? Do they really control or aren't they controlled not by the 'almighty EU', but by much darker forces with far less trade links. During the Cold War it wasn't necessary to remind political parties of their responsibility in selecting the right staff to govern a country. Cowboys, daredevils, but also day dreamers weren't considered to be the 'right stuff' to steer their country's fate in the wake of an aggressive opponent called the Warsaw Pact. In the face of nuclear annihilation there wasn't much room for error and for short lived experiments. That seems to be forgotten these days as it was already 2011 when EZR asked the rhetorical question if today's politicians could withstand a Soviet(Russian) attack. These post Cold War times reveal that although our NATO forces could match the capabilities of the Russian military, the attack on our minds and especially those of politicians with more or less well hidden influence campaigns can be successful. Highest time for political parties to finally wake up to the latest implementation of a new kind of warfare which attacks the brains not only of ordinary citizens, but even more effectively those of some politicians.
Significant policy changes should be achieved after thorough and proper discussions and votes of members, not by smuggling in popular people known perhaps from their omnipresent TV appearances.
A sudden shift or even a 180 degree U-turn after such a 'coup' on traditional policies which have been a party's trademark for decades could also backfire just a few months later, when people start to wake up:
Spent the day with a group of serious, operational politics Rs. Many were Trump voters. Mood: grim. Path forward: uncertain. Hatred of Bannon: stratospheric. Weariness with Trump: extreme.— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) November 10, 2017
Certainly this observation by Mr Wilson was not just about the abandonment of the traditional free trade policies of the GOP. It's just not enough to watch how key policies are suddenly going down the drains, but the very least parties could do is to demand to uphold the proper procedures. The more they stick to them the less they have to regret when the damage is being done.
Coming back to British politics again it's certainly worth mentioning also a positive example where a British mainstream party narrowly avoided a significant policy shift by one of their members. In fact a leading figure of the Labour party who tried and failed to succeed a Tory prime minister:
Labour repeats backing for Trident after Jeremy Corbyn casts doubt on it [The Guardian, Apr 23 2017]
One aspect of the 'Brexit referendum' is often overlooked. It represents the will of the British voters just at the time when it was held. Many voters considered it a 'warning shot' in the direction of the government and never took it seriously in the first place, because they thought the 'Leave campaign' would never win anyway.
Those people regretted their decision right away, other voters regretted it more recently since they realized the implications of a 'hard Brexit' while being promised a 'soft Brexit'.
New poll finds the British public have turned against a ‘Hard Brexit’ [Business Insider, Jun 23 2017]
The last couple of months there's isn't any visible progress on that matter and people did cast their vote at the time while being convinced by cunning and convincing showmen that they could take back control from Brussels and save the money they are transferring to Brussels in order to redirect the financial resources toward British institutions like the NHS. Instead of re-branding a 'hard Brexit' as a viable option, they better admit total failure of the initial 'vote leave campaign', otherwise politicians and their parties risk to sink their own country.
For the adversary it's not a 'bug' but a 'feature'
In EZR blog entry in German it was described that it seems that Western 'institutional blindness' is nowadays met with the ability of hostile foreign powers and their policy analysts to get a better of our politics and our society than our politicians and institutions. Even when some experts see and describe the upcoming dangers they are often neglected, or even worse: ridiculed. The domino effect of a British 'leave' was obvious to all people with some brains and not enough ignorance before it actually happened. The Russians, or better the current Russian government located in the Kremlin, must have been very happy when the first result went public following referendum day. They already figured out what that could imply economically and militarily and how they could benefit from the upcoming turn in world history. They anticipated that the UK or United Kingdom could be on its path to self destruction, thus losing the 'U' for 'United', since it was known before how the Scottish people feel about Europe. There is a dark and obviously fatal tendency in our Western societies to look just for the facts, even if that means that it questions some people's judgement or their ability to lead. It also perceived as weakness when individuals or groups took a wrong decision in the past and they are more likely to defend their (in hindsight) wrong decision even if that results in convincing ordinary citizens of a 'second reality'. Instead of admitting and correcting a mistake a tendency to create a parallel universe, a perceived need for painting those sticking to reality as 'spreaders of fake news'. Coincidentally or not this kind of informational warfare against the truth or facts was also the basis for the survival of the Soviet regime. On the other hand both the critics of prime minister May and her 'cabinet of future decline' and the Kremlin don't have much to lose when they see the dangers or advantages of such a self-destructive path. For those who seek to weaken our defenses it's also much cheaper to engage in an informational warfare, because the amount of money spent on flipping ancient old policies have already proven more effective than perhaps previously deemed possible. Although there won't most likely ever be a 'Thank you !' post card sent from the Kremlin to the American GOP or the British Conservatives they might as well think so without expressing it.
Coming back to the failing vetting procedures in political party a often overlooked fact is that with upcoming presidential candidate Trump the policy of GOP regarding Ukraine was changed in favor of Trump loyalists and which was certainly favorable to the Kremlin:Trump+Tillerson’s campaign to gut the Foreign Service a historic mistake. Will harm US diplomacy for a generation. https://t.co/yMDCzttFIV— Nicholas Burns (@RNicholasBurns) November 11, 2017
>>The original amendment, which proposed that the GOP commit to sending “lethal weapons” to the Ukrainian army to fend off Russian aggression, was ultimately softened.
... A transcript released by the House Intelligence Committee on Monday of lawmakers’ interview with early Trump adviser Carter Page revealed that Page congratulated members of the Trump campaign’s foreign-policy team on July 14 for their “excellent work” on the “Ukraine amendment.”<<
For those who have forgotten the methods of hostile intelligence services to influence political decisions on the highest, thus also the most (also cost) effective, level:
source: German Politician Rainer Barzel, 82 [Washington Post, Aug 28 2006]>>Mr. Barzel, a strong advocate of German reunification, opposed Brandt's efforts to seek reconciliation with communist East Germany and the Soviet Union.The conservatives narrowly lost the 1972 no-confidence vote. Markus Wolf, the former head of the East German Stasi secret service, said later that his operatives had bribed at least one conservative lawmaker not to vote against Brandt.<<
What has been achieved so far in the 'Brexit' negotiations between the UK and the EU (joke) after round 6:
So it's increasingly likely that the Brexit adventure will end in a 'hard Brexit' without any agreement in place when Britain is forced to deal with the continental EU on a WTO basis. The implications for the territorial unity of the country may also be better scrutinized by some people in the Kremlin than in Westminister dominated by wishful thinking Western politicians. Some British citizens question the rationality of the fleet policy regarding e.g. HMS Queen Elizabeth and whether it will enter service as scheduled with sufficient numbers of F-35 aircraft, while a breakup of the UK could have more severe implications for UK's navy. Fostering the severe and fundamental political divisions could play into our opponent's hands and returning to a more pragmatic course of all mainstream parties (at least) could prevent a further deterioration of the overall security situation not only for the one country, but also for its neighbors and friends.Runde 6 der #Brexit-Verhandlungen geht zuende. Zeit für eine Zwischenbilanz. Hier eine Übersicht des bisher Vereinbarten:— Stefan Leifert (@StefanLeifert) November 10, 2017
Political parties should reflect once in a while when they see that 'their' policies actually match or come very near the goals of the Kremlin and they should ask themselves how they got there or at what point things have changed in that direction. Above all they should also feel obliged to uphold the constitution and the rule of law. Maybe dictatorial tendencies by individuals can get overlooked at first, but only a full commitment to prioritize the survival of constitution and the democratic order which embodies the separation of power over individual's short term goals can prevent lasting damage inflicted on our democracies.
>>New analysis from the British Election Study, polling more than 10,000 voters, has found that Mr Gove was partially right, at least among his supporters. Those who voted to Leave typically preferred the wisdom of ordinary people to that of experts.<<source: The Economist [Oct 12 2016]
Political parties should be aware that they can offer possibly popular minor modifications of their existing policies to their voters, like the guy depicted in this cartoon:
"These smug pilots have lost touch with regular passengers like us. Who thinks I should fly the plane?"— leah mcelrath (@leahmcelrath) January 2, 2017
(h/t @peterdaou) pic.twitter.com/ikOS5WdAxJ
could perhaps demand one or two more drinks on the long distance flight, but demanding to fly the plane would most certainly not end well...
Politicians should have the guts to tell 'democracy loving' voters also inconvenient truths.
What does Brexit mean for Trident, intelligence and national security? [The Independent, Jul 3 2016]Boris Johnson and Michael Gove reportedly penned a secret letter to PM @theresa_may giving her Brexit instructions https://t.co/50PN534gLX pic.twitter.com/0xO8fDHfkO— ITV News (@itvnews) November 11, 2017
Tight budgets and imminent Brexit threaten Britain's armed forces [The Economist, Jul 6 2017]
Bank of England issues fresh warning about Brexit's impact on UK economy [The Independent, Nov 2 2017]
Brexit poses European defense dilemma [Politico, Nov 10 2017]
The Brexit Debate [Royal United Services Institute]
Photo reveals Boris Johnson met Russian academic at centre of FBI probe into US election meddling https://t.co/g5I6iLuZxl pic.twitter.com/94tD93PETT— The Sunday Times (@thesundaytimes) November 12, 2017