Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Western World’s Leading Edge

Where the United States once led, where American policies – one way or another – set the global agenda, America is slowly yielding its primacy to other countries around the world. As we killed off our participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, China leaped into fray and is now designing/negotiating a substitute trade agreement all across the nations touching the Pacific – creating clear trading benefits within the group – with the rather obvious exclusion of the United States (which will not enjoy any of those trading benefits).
As the United States has made official that it will no longer acknowledge any policies or treaties concerning climate change, as the U.S. is removing pollution reduction regulations and focusing on how to bring coal production/power generation back (it won’t actually come back no matter what), polluted China has stepped up to become the global leader in countering greenhouse gasses. They have upped their manufacturing output of alternative power generation in wind turbine and solar to the point where the United States is neither competitive nor really a global force in these job-creating arenas.
Experts suggest that as the United States cuts back its support for the United Nations (Trump’s budget is targeting a 40% reduction of America’s contribution), threatening desperately-needed humanitarian aid, China will step up and fill the void… resulting in a massive reduction of American global influence.
As American policy now embraces a decidedly anti-Muslim travel ban and backs Israel as it restarts its program of building West Back settlement and no longer is committed to a two-state solution, as we refuse to open direct dialogue with regional powerhouse Iran, Russia is more than happy to step in and become the dominant major power in the Middle East.
Everywhere the United States seems to withdraw from the global economy or global issues, someone seems ready to step in and replace us immediately. Our government’s rejection of economic reality and hard scientific facts has generally resulted in other countries simply ignoring our policy goals. We have generated a deeply negative global image in a very short time.
Our immigration policies are based on the assumption that people really want to move to America in the first place. However, among deep vetting and border controls, a pretty obvious and growing negative view of foreigners (particularly non-whites and non-Christians) as well as other countries’ fighting to keep or lure the best and the brightest to advance their technology and research sectors, the United States is rapidly falling off the map as a destination for anyone with smarts and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills or ambitions. Or anyone, even tourists. Almost by definition, smart immigrées are too smart to want to travel to the United States anymore. That negative image might do a whole lot more than a wall to keep foreigners from entering the U.S., for any reason.
So, as the United States rapidly abdicates its global role, is there any country out there that has stepped into a leadership position for Western values? With the U.K. pulling out of the European Union, it sure isn’t Britain. Russia is celebrating how the U.K.’s EU departure and America’s retreat from globalization are weakening the West’s ability to oppose her policies. And when it comes to future-looking technology and social structures, it sure isn’t going to be France.
How about a country with a universal healthcare system that actually works exceptionally well? Or a country that has managed to generate solid, high-skill-level, employment and accelerate economic growth while robots replace under-skilled Americans in fading industries with old work training? A nation whose high-tech products are legendary for excellence and quality? A nation that cherishes democracies and, despite some of their own populist anti-immigrant pressures, has taken in hordes of asylum seekers. One that is watching with fear and trepidation America’s cozying up to one of Europe’s greatest traditional threats – Russia – while strengthening her resolve against Russian bullying, Russia’s using her energy sources to browbeat European nations into accepting her aggression, and clearly fighting Russia’s use hacking to influence a spate of upcoming elections?
It’s pretty well accepted around the world that new spokes-country for Western democracy and global values has moved from the United States to Germany, a pretty astounding development for a nation that accepted Hitler and Nazism three quarters of a century ago. German Chancellor Angela Merkel rises in stature as quickly as Donald Trump is laughed into global irrelevance, portrayed viciously in major global media as American’s clown prince, a caricature of himself.
Want a hard example? As our executive and legislative branches try to push the United States back to an earlier era, resurrect obsolete industries and withdraw from a global economy, as our President pretty much fights the notion of Russia as using its cyber-hacking and false-information-distributing capacity to determine and/or undermine American political realities, Germany is moving in precisely the opposite direction. And nothing screams how Germany is able to adapt to a modern reality way beyond where we seem to be willing to go than its rather dramatic reorganization of its military, the Bundeswehr (the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities). As Donald Trump seems to question and marginalize U.S. involvement in NATO, Germany is stepping up her leadership role in that defensive alliance.
Recognizing that wars, national security and disruptive attacks are no longer relegated to the battlefield, and accelerating into a space where the United States was once the undisputed leader, Germany is in the process of creating an entirely new branch within their military: the Cyber and Information Space Command. The April 1st SecurityAffiars.co explains: “According to the new commander, Lieutenant General Ludwig Leinhos, Germany is taking a leading role among the members of the NATO alliance.
Leinhos said the main tasks would be to operate and protect the military’s own IT infrastructure and computer-assisted weapons systems, as well as surveillance of online threats.’ reported the Reuters agency… The German Government intends to protect its critical infrastructure and its assets from cyberattacks. The German military fears cyber espionage and sabotage.
“The Bundeswehr’s new Cyber and Information Space (CIR) Command, will be composed of 260 IT specialists, but the Government plans to increase its staff up to 13,500 military and civilian personnel by July… General Ludwig Leinhos confirmed that the centre will be tasked to develop offensive cyber capabilities.
“‘ ‘He said the centre would also develop and war-game offensive capabilities because “in order to be able to defend yourself, you have to know the options for attack’.’ continues the Reuters… The operations conducted by the Cyber and Information Space (CIR) Command would have to be approved by the German Parliament, this means that cyber operations are considered equal to conventional military missions… The creation of the centre is the response to the numerous attacks suffered by the German Goverment, last year the Bundestag [Germany’s legislature] was hit by numerous attacks.”
With much justification, Germany – along with most of the Western world – no longer seems to be content waiting for the United States to do what needs to be done to preserve and protect Western values. They just don’t trust us anymore. Do you blame them? Guten tag!
I’m Peter Dekom, and I am not feeling good about a rather clear set of new American policy directives, implemented by the least trained cabinet officers in modern history, that is moving the United States into a subordinate role as a “formerly-great” world power.

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