Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Update on the Vote by the United Kingdom to Leave the European Union

           Despite last week’s vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union and popular demands for similar referenda for other E.U. members, there are calls from the E.U. and its supporters for ever-closer union.  Indeed, the E.U. is continuing plans for an army and a coast guard, among other things.  Within the European Monetary Union, which uses the common currency (the euro), there are calls for a banking union, among other measures. 

            The pro-Europe side has apparently not learned the lesson from the British referendum that people prefer the sovereignty and independence of their nation-states over political union with others, especially in a union that is more bureaucratic than democratic, despite the economic benefits of free trade and passport-free travel.  As I noted in one of my posts earlier this month, those who favor the E.U. seek more European economic and political integration as the solution for every problem instead of abandoning altogether the European project or at scaling it back or drastically reforming the E.U. 

            Furthermore, the E.U. continues to try to tell the U.K. what to do.  The E.U. is demanding the British soon begin to negotiate the U.K.’s departure from the E.U., but the U.K. will begin only once a new government is formed after the Conservatives have a leadership election in late summer to replace the outgoing Prime Minister. 

            Already the markets are recovering from their shock, as it becomes clearer that the U.K. will continue to be prosperous, that the U.K.’s bilateral treaties with individual E.U. members will remain intact and that the E.U. is likely to reach a mutually beneficial exit agreement with the British, which is required by 2018 under the rules of the exit from the union.

            Meanwhile, British supporters of remaining in the E.U. continue to try to pursue various methods of avoiding the U.K.’s exit from the union.  These are not likely to succeed, although the U.K. has reached terra incognita.  

           A likely political result of the breakup of the United Kingdom itself, if Scotland and Northern Ireland secede, is that the Conservatives would be more politically dominant in what is left of the U.K. (England and Wales, or at least England), as they also would be in England if there were an English Parliament within the U.K., as there is in each of the Celtic areas.  A more likely scenario is that the U.K. will remain intact as the E.U. soon breaks up.

Conservatives Win the Spanish Parliamentary Elections

           The ruling center-right party won the Spanish parliamentary elections Sunday, gaining several seats more than it currently has, but, as in December, again not enough for a majority to form a government on its own. 

The conservatives had won the most votes and seats in Parliament six months ago, but fell short of a majority.  No party was able to form a government, which led King Felipe VI to call this election.  The conservatives have continued to hold office as caretakers in the meantime. 

            Unlike other European States, Spain has never had a coalition government, as its politics are usually dominated by the two main conservative and liberal parties, but, as in December, two other parties also won a large enough number of seats to deny either of the two largest a majority, thereby potentially ending Spain’s two-party system.  In addition, smaller regional parties, such as in the Basque Country and Catalonia, hold a significant number of seats, as usual. 

By contrast, coalition governments are common in Europe, especially in some States.  Italy, for example, always has one.  In recent years, even various left-right coalitions have formed governments, such as in Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Greece.   

Unless Spain’s conservatives can somehow form such a grand coalition with the second-place liberals, and if no other party can form a government, either a third election would be necessary or Felipe VI could ask the current, caretaker conservative Prime Minister to form a minority government, whom the King would ask first because the premier’s party won the most seats.  No other likely combination of the four parties would ad up to a majority of parliamentary seats to break the deadlock, at least without support from the regional parties.  Even if the conservatives formed a coalition with the fourth-place business-friendly party, such a coalition would still fall a few seats short of a majority and it would be unlikely to gain support from the other parties. 

A minority government would require the confidence of a majority in Parliament and always be subject to being ousted by a loss of Parliament’s confidence.  

Despite Spain’s continued economic difficulties, the win by the conservatives was a reward by Spanish voters for the fiscal and economic progress of the ruling center-right party and demonstrated that there has been sufficient public support for the fiscal austerity that has reduced Spain’s public debt.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The British Vote to Leave the European Union

           Voters in the United Kingdom elected in a referendum Thursday to leave the European Union.  There will now be two years of negotiations between the British and the E.U. on separation.

            Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has announced his resignation by October, in order to allow someone else to lead those negotiations.  As I explained in my last post, he had negotiated concessions from the E.U. if the U.K. had remained in the union, as the referendum on E.U. membership was the fulfillment of his campaign promise, but he had urged the British to remain in the union.  He had raised the possibility of further concessions if the U.K. remained, but the E.U., fearful of losing more power or members, made it clear none would be granted.  There will be parliamentary elections, which will lead to a replacement of Cameron.

            There was a high turnout in the referendum.  England and Wales voted to leave the E.U., while Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain.  The strong opposition by Scots to leaving may lead to another referendum on independence, as part of the reason they had rejected independence in 2014 was that Scotland would have been left out of the E.U.  The E.U. would now more likely accept a membership bid by an independent Scotland to join the union.  There will also likely be increased pressure for Northern Ireland to separate from the U.K. and unite with the Irish Republic, which is in the E.U. 

            The leadership of all the main political parties favored remaining in the E.U., but there were splits in the two main parties.  Many English working class voters in Labour (the main liberal party) strongholds voted to leave, while most Conservative Members of Parliament favored leaving and many Tories voted to leave the E.U.  The United Kingdom Independence Party fulfilled its purpose of a British exit from the E.U.

            The campaign to leave succeeded in overcoming “Project Fear,” the name given for the scare tactics by the pro-remain side I referred to in my last post that predicted doom and gloom if the U.K. leaves the E.U.  Although there were many xenophobic nationalists who favored leaving, the pro-remain side erred in dismissing the concerns of principled critics of the E.U. as bigoted or intolerant or anti-European.  As I noted in my last post, these critics were concerned about the significant loss of sovereignty to a growing, unelected E.U. bureaucracy that does not necessarily share British values and that promulgates ever more regulations to which the European Parliament is unwilling or unable to object, the loss of British representation on international bodies and the cost of E.U. membership that outweighed the benefits of free trade and passport-free travel throughout the union.  Immigration was thus a major concern, because of the free movement of people permitted by the E.U., especially after Germany allowed in a million refugees and migrants from Muslim States, which then allowed them to spread to the other Members of the E.U., including the U.K.

Instead, the British felt confident they could make their own decisions in their best interests and prosper even more outside of the E.U.  The U.K. will now seek a new relationship with the E.U., which needs to trade with the British, and establish new trade agreements with others, especially the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  With a new American President, the British could negotiate a free trade agreement with the U.S.  The likelihood of a new E.U. free trade agreement with the United States, however, is now diminished.

            There have since been increased calls by politicians in several European States for referenda to leave the E.U.  The E.U. may have to reform or grant more concessions to its members to avoid a complete breakup.  

           I congratulate the British for asserting their independence to exercise their sovereignty through representative government.  I wish them success in their separation negotiations with the European Union and look forward to their new relationship with the U.S.  I urge the E.U. to reform and other Europeans peacefully to regain their sovereignty.  

Monday, June 20, 2016

Thoughts on the British Referendum on Remaining in or Leaving the European Union

           Voters in the United Kingdom will decide in a referendum on Thursday whether the U.K. ought to remain a member of the European Union or leave by 2018.

            The referendum is the result of a campaign promise made by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron in his last election, as demanded by many Tory and other voters.  He was able to negotiate some concessions from the E.U. to claw back some British powers if the U.K. would remain in the “Common Market,” but these were not sufficient to mollify those who wish to restore British sovereignty more fully—sovereignty that has increasingly eroded as the E.U. has expanded itself beyond its original intent of unity through economic cooperation into a European superstate, with not only all the domestic powers of a state, but even its own foreign policy and plans for its own military.    

The E.U. was developed gradually after the Second World War as a way to unify Europe, especially Western Europe, by integrating Germany economically with the other European States and to encourage peace and prosperity within the union.  Since the end of the Cold War, the E.U. has expanded into Eastern Europe as many of the States there have liberalized.  The E.U. was conceived as an economic union of States that shared similar values, such as liberty and representative government.  The political ideology that has encouraged more European economic and even political integration through the E.U. holds that these are particularly European values.  However, these ideas developed only in Western Europe, and only on a foundation of Christianity, which had provided unity to Europe in the past; the E.U. is now continental and increasingly secularized.  Furthermore, it is exclusive even of non-European States founded by Western Europeans that share the same Western values (i.e. the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), as the E.U. appears to have been established as a rival to the U.S.  In short, there does not appear to be any more of the claimed “Europeaness” evident across Europe—and only Europe—to justify the integration of all of Europe into a “United States of Europe.”   

The U.K. joined the E.U. in 1973.  The British had been concerned when they joined the Common Market about the organization’s potential development from an economic to a political union and even to a superstate.  The U.K. opted to retain its own currency instead of adopting in 1999 the E.U.’s common currency, the euro.  At the time, the Conservatives argued successfully against surrendering too much sovereignty—a decision validated by the recent debt crisis that threatened the euro project because of the fiscal and economic imbalances among eurozone States and the loss of national monetary policy.  The predictions that the U.K. would suffer economically from its isolation from the eurozone proved untrue. 

            The E.U. member States enjoy free trade among each other and, in a separate agreement among many of the E.U. members and other European States, their citizens may travel anywhere in the E.U. without a passport.  Because of the large number of relatively small States in Europe, these benefits make sense.  But as the British had feared, the E.U. has developed a complex, bureaucratic structure that, among other things, has seized ever more powers of commercial regulation from its members.  The citizens of the E.U. member States elect a European Parliament, based proportionately on population, but, given the E.U.’s size and bureaucracy, the citizens of even a state as large as the U.K. do not feel they are adequately represented or that the benefits of membership are worth the price of billions of dollars in the E.U.’s membership dues and its burdensome regulations.  A particular source of dissatisfaction with membership in the E.U. is the loss of individual member sovereignty in regard to immigration.  The E.U. is also increasingly supplanting its member States in international organizations.  Thus, the U.K., like other E.U. members, no longer has a seat at the table in a growing number of international bodies.  Membership in the E.U. prohibits member States from negotiating bilateral trade agreements.  It is difficult to reform the E.U., as evidenced by the relatively minor concessions the U.K. won from the E.U., as major decisions require the consensus of all the members.   
The E.U. has been perpetually in crisis since 2010, first with the ongoing sovereign debt crisis and currently with the migration crisis, yet those who dream of greater European integration always insist that even more integration is the solution to every problem.  They never acknowledge that the integration among diverse States itself causes problems.  Moreover, European political integration has led to more of what it was intended to reduce, namely nationalism, as a popular reaction against the loss of national sovereignty.  Furthermore, it has exposed cultural differences between Northern and Southern Europe and created resentments because of them.

Those urging the U.K. to remain in the E.U. have offered a host of scare tactics if the British voted to leave.  If the British vote to remain in the E.U., they would be rewarded with the minor concessions the Government negotiated, which might encourage other member States to seek similar arrangements, contrary to the Europeanizing trend. 

If the British voted to leave the E.U., the U.K. might not easily, at least for a while, be able to establish a new relationship with the E.U. from the negotiations that would occur during the lengthy departure period, as the E.U. would not wish to reward the U.K. for leaving.  The U.K. might also find it difficult in the meantime to obtain bilateral relations with E.U. member States, including even those with which it shares a border, Ireland and France.  Like other European States outside the Common Market, the U.K. might have to accept E.U. rules to retain some of the desirable benefits of membership, without any voice in drafting those rules.  There might be an increase in the current trend toward independence among the Celtic parts of the U.K., as they prefer to remain in the E.U.

However, the U.K. would not only regain greater sovereignty over its domestic affairs, but, as a major economic power, be freer to establish bilateral relations with States outside of the E.U., such as the U.S., with which it may seek a free trade agreement.  It would also not have to bear the burden of E.U. membership dues.  The U.K. would regain its international stature as a Great Power.  Even if the United Kingdom would disintegrate, a still-strong England would regain internal sovereignty that has been lost to the Celtic parts, which are likely to obtain independence eventually, regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s referendum, although after an initial period of coolness, the E.U. would before long become more disposed to negotiate a more mutually-beneficial relationship with the U.K. because of its might and borders with the E.U., as the E.U. would be incomplete without the U.K.

Once the United Kingdom left, other European members might also become emboldened either to seek more concessions or to leave the E.U., which might be the best outcome for the world.  Then, the all the States of Europe could renegotiate more favorable terms to maintain the current desirable benefits of the Common Market, such as free trade and passport-free travel, without all the costs, bureaucracy and loss of sovereignty that is based on a false ideology of Europeaness. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Center-Right Wins the Peruvian Presidential Elections

           In another blow to the left and to the revolution inspired by Venezuela’s Socialist dictatorship, a center-right candidate was elected President of Peru earlier this month, ousting the leftist ruling party, whose candidate did not even make it to the run-off election, as the second-round was a contest between two conservative candidates.

            The leftists had earlier also lost their majority in the Peruvian congressional elections, with the main conservative party winning a majority and the center-right party of the incoming President tying for the second most seats in Peru’s Congress.

            As I have posted, the leftists lost the Argentine presidential election last year, Bolivians rejected a referendum for a constitutional amendment to end term limits to allow their leftist President to continue to serve and the democratic center-right opposition won a supermajority in the Venezuelan congressional elections.  These results, together with those in Peru, clearly demonstrate a reversal of the prior trend towards the Left, socialism, authoritarianism and opposition to the United States of America.  

           I congratulate the Peruvians.  May the new Peruvian President succeed in defending liberty and in increasing prosperity while establishing good relations with the U.S.      

Sunday, June 12, 2016

There are No “Lone-Wolf” or “Domestic” Islamist Terrorists

The terms “lone-wolf” terrorists and “domestic” or “home-grown” terrorists/terrorism are usually being applied misleadingly as irrelevant or unnecessary qualifiers of terrorist and terrorism, particularly in regard to militant Islamists (those who commit violent acts of Islamic holy war).

“Lone-wolf” terrorists are those who commit acts of terrorism alone, as opposed to those who either act in conspiracy with other terrorists or after having been inspired by others to commit terrorism.  A terrorist may act on his own, as terrorism need not be a conspiracy.  For example, the Unabomber acted alone.  A terrorist may act on his own, but be inspired by others.  However, terrorism may not necessarily even inspired by any other individuals. Islamism and Communism are examples of ideologies that justify violence.  They are also inherently conspiratorial.  Therefore, although a terrorist may act alone and not even be associated with any other terrorists or those who advocate for terrorism, he is not a “lone wolf” if he commits terrorist acts to advance such an ideology, for if he does, he is necessarily a participant in a larger armed conflict and thus part of a conspiracy. 

            “Domestic” or “home-grown” terrorists are those who are either not acting in conspiracy with or through inspiration from foreign terrorists.  These terms are not relevant if the ideology that motivates the terrorist is itself of foreign origin, such as Islamism and Communism.  All Islamist terrorism is thus necessarily foreign, not “domestic” terrorism.  

           There are no such things as “lone-wolf,” “domestic” or “homegrown” Islamist terrorists.  The lack of precision that occurs when using these terms when they are not applicable is obscuring the ideological motivations of terrorists.  As I have noted repeatedly on this blog, it is essential to identify the ideological beliefs of the enemy in order to defeat it.