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If Trump’s presidency will succede in the economic field, the merit will be of Obama

BreakingNews @en di

One of the highlights of the Trump campaign was to discredit the work done by President Obama in the economic field in the last 8 years. The Trump strategy worked because the American middle class feels poorer than 8 years ago. If Trump’s presidency will get success in the economic field the merit, in part will be Obama. The current President has been the victim of “populist revolt” of the middle class but the numbers bear him out, Obama has faced and defeated the financial crisis, has led unemployment to 4.6%, has given health insurance to more than 20 million Americans, and has invested in renewable energies. Trump has already decided his line, low taxes, investment in infrastructure to lower unemployment and stop to climate agreements to make American industry more competitive. All this will be possible thanks to the work of his predecessors.

Why will Shinzo Abe pay tribute to victims of Pearl Harbour

Americas/Asia @en di

The alliance between the US and Japan looks set to strengthen further in the near future. The first sign was the meeting “frank and friendly” between the president-elect Trump and the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe last November 17, the first informal meeting for the incoming administration with a foreign head of government. The second step, which is more symbolically and politically significant, is the announcement of Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbour, in concomitance with the celebrations in memory of Japanese air attack on US port of Hawaii, which claimed 2,400 victims and pushed the USA to enter the war 75 years ago, on December 7, 1941.

The visit, planned for the end of December, promises to be an act of historic significance that aims to strengthen ties between the two countries and to inaugurate a new phase in bilateral relations between the shores of the Pacific. The more concrete aspects concern the Japanese need to reduce the uncertainties regarding the future US policy toward the Rising Sun, fueled by the unregulated Trump presidential campaign that, among other things, urged Tokyo to contribute more to the costs for the US military bases on Japanese soil.

The visit will culminate with a summit between Japanese Prime Minister and the outgoing president Obama, the next 26 and 27 December, delivering a clear message to the new administration: the alliance works as it is and should not be questioned. Obama and Abe have decisively contributed, on several occasions, to cement strategic cooperation between their countries. In 2015 the common defense guidelines were updated and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces were authorized to intervene in the US Army side in a limited number of scenarios.

Trump, however, has not been kind to Japan during the recent presidential campaign. After asking for more money to continue to ensure the presence of American military bases in the Archipelago, the candidate Trump criticized Obama for having visited Hiroshima, in the role of first US president to pay homage to the victims of the nuclear bombing that ended the World War II in the Pacific. According to Trump, Obama would have also remembered the victims of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour where “thousands of American lives have been lost.”

The next visit of Abe, therefore, serve to compensate for the gesture of Obama’s opening and to give the new administration the image of a Japan willing to look at the past with different eyes. According to the analyst Kent Calder, from Johns Hopkins University, the Abe’s visit will make the alliance with Japan more acceptable for Trump supporters, facilitating future relations.

On the Japanese front, Abe has always seemed willing to question that page of national history, at least in part by recognizing the responsibilities of his country. During a joint session of Congress, last year, the Prime Minister of Sol Levante made express reference, for the first time, to the Pearl Harbour attack, without offering an official apology. Also in anticipation of the visit of late December, the issue of apologies will remain suspended. Abe intends to bring “comfort” to the Japanese victims of the attack of 75 years ago and pay tribute to their memory, but can not be expected to use a straightforward language that can be read at home as the formulation of a public apology in favor of the former enemy.

On the American front, Abe’s visit could hurt the feelings of the survivors victims relatives, a concern which the incoming administration is certainly very sensitive to. Josh Earnest, the current Press Secretary of the White House, does not rule out that the Japanese visit will embitter the victims of the attack, even after so much time. Earnest, however, said he is confident that many will put aside their dose of bitterness, recognizing the historic significance of the event.

The visit promises, then, to be a success for Obama, who seeks to consolidate its legacy with a symbolic and diplomatic victory at a time when its main achievements on the international front, the agreement on the Iranian nuclear and the reconciliation between Washington and Havana , risk to be overwhelmed by the wave of the new Trump administration.

Shinzo Abe will be the one ,however, to reap the best fruits. The visit will serve to the prime minister to shake off the label of the historical revisionist, who accompanies him since his election, and that tarnishes his image at home and especially abroad. Fumiaky Kubo, a historian interviewed by the Japan Times, argues that Abe, despite the bad reputation, has made ” has made more progress in wartime reconciliation than any other prime minister. This
could be a model case for a reconciliation and set an example that both sides have to make efforts”

At a time when the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) seems doomed to failure, and the territorial dispute over the islands between Kamchatka and Hokkaido that opposes Japan to Russia is stopped into a siding, a strengthening of the partnership with the US could be the succes Abe needs to boost his government’s action on the international stage. Even at the risk of watering down the verve of nationalism that has always characterized is administration.

President Obama criticized Iran and Russia’s roles in Syria’s civil war

Obama, during a wide-ranging press conference in Peru on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, criticized Iran and Russia’s role in Syria’s brutal civil war. He also said he was “not optimistic” about the immediate future of Syria, where government forces backed by Russian warplanes have been bombarding rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo. The president said once Russia and Iran backed the Syrian government, it was “very hard to see a way in which even a trained and committed moderate opposition could hold its ground.”

New plan to build 1,400 new buildings

BreakingNews @en di

The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee is scheduled to discuss on Sunday a new plan to build 1,400 new housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood. The units will be built on 70 dunams of land. Last week, the Committee’s chair announced his intention of bringing building plants “out of the freezer” but the current plan is actually an expansion of a previous plan to build in Ramat Shlomo, which officials say “was not discussed prior to today, because of the Obama administrations opposition” to it.

America’s new direction under President Trump

Americas di

On the 8th of November the American people elected the republican Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. However, the election results took almost everyone by surprise. In fact, the victory of Donald Trump was absolutely unexpected, mainly because of the polls that had predicted the success of Hillary Clinton. In any case, the election results show a deeply divided country between two completely different visions of America and opposite ideas of the US role on the international stage. In order to understand why Americans elected Donald Trump in spite of predictions, it will be useful to examine his domestic policy proposals as well as his foreign policy goals.

Donald Trump’s domestic policy can be summarized by the slogan “Make America great again”. He ran his campaign focusing on the American working class and emphasizing the idea that America has a great potential that has not been put into practice so far. The reasons, according to Trump, can be found in an excessive privilege of the financial economy at the expense of real economy. Real economy boosts the economic growth and makes it possible to achieve prosperity, while financial economy is considered responsible for the housing bubble, burst in 2007. Trump referred to his sustainers as a great movement willing to change America. His rhetoric has been considered as populism by a large part of the country, but the majority of the population saw in it a way to feel they had the power to change the direction of America. According to some experts the voters took a stand against the establishment. The refusal of the traditional political class is not something isolated in the international stage as we could see in June the Brexit referendum, as well as the recent electoral results in many European countries. The main tools to make America great again, in Trump’s opinion, are a tax cut for companies, more restrictive rules on migration and inflexible laws for criminals and terrorists. The tax cut is thought to sustain the economic growth by helping companies to remain in the US instead of delocalizing their production abroad. Trump’s position on migration has been largely criticized, because he proposed to build up a wall at the Mexican border and to expel all irregular foreigners living in the US. Finally, his position about criminals and terrorists has been considered racist by a large part of the US citizens. In particular, he proposed to introduce strict laws to solve the racial issue in the US, but this kind of measure alarmed the Afro-American population that has been protagonist of many protests during the last year, because they feel discriminated by the police. The rigidity of Donald Trump about the race issue is going to cause even more friction between the government and the Afro-American communities in the country.

Let’s now focus on Donald Trump’s foreign policy. His project can be identified by the word “isolationism”. As regards the economic relations with other countries he would like to introduce protectionist measures, because he thinks that the economic problems of the US are mainly due to the globalization process. This is not an isolated position if we look at the United Kingdom which will probably get out of the EU single market. The idea of focusing on America’s problems rather than carrying out military interventions worldwide is the argument that convinced voters. Americans do not understand the reasons of the great involvement of the US in the Middle East as well as in other parts of the world, as they are not achieving any advantage from that interventions. Trump argued, during his campaign, that the US should spend less money on NATO and interventions abroad, giving more military independence to their allies and using all the money to improve Americans’ standard of life. This isolationism in foreign policy leads to some important consequences. Firstly, the relations with the EU is going to change, in the military field as well as in the economic sector. In fact, Trump expressed his opposition to the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which should be signed by the US and the EU. Nevertheless, the most important change in international relations would be a change of attitude towards Russia. For his part, President Putin expressed his willing to restore peaceful relations with the US. The main consequence of a reconciliation between the US and Russia would possibly be an agreement on the Syrian and Ukrainian crises. The stabilization of the Middle East as well as the solution of the Ukrainian crisis would remove the threat of a direct confrontation between Russia and the US. On the other hand, the future relations with China are uncertain. Trump made some declarations against China’s economic strategy and he expressed the will to be economically more independent from China. However, we should bear in mind that China possesses the major part of US external debt. Another aspect of Trump’s foreign policy, which would affect the entire world, is whether he will decide to respect or not the agreement on climate change negotiated in Paris the last year and entered into force few days ago. Finally, it is not clear if Trump will continue the reconciliation with Iran, and if he would respect the nuclear deal with that country.

In conclusion, it is too soon to make predictions about how America and its relations with the rest of the world will change. It mainly depends on whether Trump will respect his electoral program or not. According to his first public declarations he is probably going to moderate some points of his electoral program (in particular his positions about race, gays, Muslims etc. ). Trump announced his will to cooperate with Obama’s administration in order to preserve the most important achievements that have been reached over the last 8 years. Obama, for his part, expressed his support to the new President in order to allow him to succeed in his mandate.

 

 

Dispute between the US and China for control of the South China Sea goes on

Asia @en di

During the Asia-Pacific Cooperation Summit in Manila, which ended last week, President Barack Obama reiterated the US position, calling on China to stop the construction of artificial islands and new infrastructure in the area of ​​sea dispute. The answer wasn’t long in coming. At the summit of the ASEAN countries, held in Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, through the Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, accused Washington of wanting an escalation and defended the construction activities at sea, launched in 2013 and still in progress today.

First Obama, at the opening of the APEC summit in Manila, last Wednesday, pushed the issue of the South China Sea on the political agenda of the 21 leaders. After meeting with the President of the Philippines, Benigno S. Aquino III, Obama spoke to the press urging Beijing to cease all military activity in that part of the sea and to accept international arbitration to reconcile differences with its neighbors in South-East Asia.

“We agree on the need for bold steps to lower tensions – Mr. Obama said – including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea,”

Without taking a position on the front of the territorial claims made by the involved countries, the United States consider free navigation on the waters of the contended area as a vital point. For this reason, they confirmed their commitment to the side of the South Asian governments who oppose Chinese expansionism, and ensured the Allies a contribution of $ 250 million for military spending.

Beijing’s response came on November 22, during the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur. Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin asserted the legitimacy and legality of Chinese government initiatives, reiterating that China has no intention to terminate the building of new facilities off its southern coast. Zhenmin then replied to the American accusations, denying that Beijing is proceeding to a progressive militarization of the area. From Chinese prospective, Washington should instead halt its provocations after that, last month, an American navy ship crossed a maritime area that Beijing regards as part of its territorial waters.

“Building and maintaining necessary military facilities, this is what is required for China’s national defence and for the protection of those islands and reefs,” Deputy Foreign Minister said, adding that Beijing intends to “expand and upgrade” civil infrastructure ” to better serve commercial ships, fishermen, to help distressed vessels and provide more public services.”

The two main contenders positions are, therefore, very far and nothing portends, at this time, a change of course by the Chinese battleship.

France bombs IS. G-20: US-Russia deal?

Europe/Middle East - Africa di

France drops bombs on Raqqa after Paris attacks. During the G20, Obama and Putin talk about a common strategy in Syria.

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France have reacted to act of war of the Islamic State, as defined by French President Francoise Hollande. Not only within national borders. French aviation have intensified, durinf the night of November 15, the bombings on strategic locations in Syria. Ministry of Defence said that 12 aircrafts have been employed to attack Raqqa, the capital of Islamic State, and targeted a command center and a training camp.

So, Paris attacks led to an immediate reaction from the Elysee. And, above all, the government is not scared by the fact that just recent raids in Syria have caused bloody reaction on November 13. This military action is in cooperation with the US, already operating in Syria and Iraq, which have provided logistical and intelligence supports.

During the G20 in Turkey yesterday, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin agreed on the need for “a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition”, as reported by the White House. Even if the Cremlin “don’t think that West had a unique point of view” and “differences on tactics still remain,” this meeting has been positive to partially reconnect two United States and Russia on Daesh front.7

Despite Ukrainian crisis and NATO expansion, Paris attacks could bring the Us and Russia to military cooperate in Syria, in order to find a”peaceful conflict resolution,” G20 statement reported. Isis strategy could bring to adverse effect, uniting West and Russia against Caliphate.

The strategy of terror of the Islamic State could have an adverse effect and reassemble the West and Russia in the name of fighting Caliphate.
Giacomo Pratali

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Boko Haram: 29 Christians killed

Middle East - Africa di

Islamists raid two villages in North-Eastern Nigeria. In recent weeks, several attack also on Cameroon and Chad. Finally, Obama rejected military support to Nigerian President Buhari.

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29 Christians have been killed in two villages of the Borno State on Tuesday 28th July. The attack, carried out by Boko Haram, has left few survivors. The news comes a few hours after the Nigerian army rescue of 30 people abducted in Dikwa by the Islamist cell.

Raid are more and more habitual. Often characters are children and teenagers. As thef 9 year old blown up at a nightclub in Maroua (Cameroon). Or the girl exploded in the market in Damaturo (Nigeria). Actions that led fifty dead and several wounded

The war against Boko Haram concerns more territories.The Cameroon government, in fact, ordered the temporary closure of mosques and Islamic schools in the villages on the border with Nigeria. In Chad, where terrorists attacked on N’Djamena, army killed about 20 militants last week. While most of the inhabitants of Lake Chad islands, targeted in recent weeks, have evacuated their homes.

These actions demonstrate even more a strategy already evident. First, Boko Haram wants to disclose its radicalization in Nigeria. In addition, in response to the alliance of Lagos with Cameroon and Chad, the organization has definitively crossed the borders of Borno State.

Meanwhile, International Community remains at the window. The Us Presidente Obama’s support in the words to his Nigerian counterpart Buhari, supplied in the meeting in Washington on July 21, appears weak. In practice, the request for military support, is rejected by the chief of the White House because a rule does not allow to help a state which does not respect the human rights. Conversely, Buhari answered talking about “support for the work of Boko Haram” by the US. The risk is that, like in Syria and Libya, even Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon fell in a permanently geopolitcal chaos.
Giacomo Pratali

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Greece, Spannaus: “Why does the EU insist on a policy that doesn’t work?”

Europe/Miscellaneous di

Greece’s debt crisis is one of the hottest geopolitical issues at the moment. Germany imposed a rescue package last week. The United States played a role of political deterrence towards the EU, to avoid the possibility that Athens could go into Moscow’s sphere of influence. To talk about these issues, European Affairs interviewed Andrew Spannaus, journalist and Director of Transatlantico.info.

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With Tsipras’s full-scale surrender, has Greece essentially become a protectorate of Brussels, or better, of Berlin?

“Europe wasted a great opportunity. After talking about the need to shift from austerity to growth, in essence nothing has changed. The European establishment – led by Germany, but don’t let the others off the hook – doubled down, using every weapon possible rather than admit to the failure of its economic policy over the last twenty years.
This is a defeat not only for Greece, but for Europe itself, which has shown 1. that it is unwilling to recognize its own mistakes, and refuses to question the fanatical adherence to budget parameters; and 2. that in this form Europe is not compatible with democracy.
The biggest question is: who’s giving the orders in Brussels and Berlin? Why does the EU insist on a policy that doesn’t work? It’s one thing to have to clean up problems and inefficiencies from the past, but the decision to make the situation worse through a policy of budget cuts and new taxes shows that something else is afoot. Europe has abandoned the best parts of its own history and now answers to other interests.”

 

“Despite the mistakes made in the past five months, I am proud that I have defended our people.” This is what Tsipras said to the Greek Parliament, at the time of the vote on the measures imposed by Europe. In your view, Did Syriza betray its electoral mandate and the result of the referendum?

“Over the past few months the Greek government alternated between a hardline position and a softer one. The goal was always to influence the negotiations and obtain some concessions. At a certain point it looked like Tsipras had decided to get serious: first with the opening towards Russia, and then the referendum. In the end though, he gave in to the blackmail and demonstrated that he wasn’t willing to risk the consequences of a full break-up.
The Greek people clearly rejected austerity; the problem is that in theory they wanted to remain in Europe as well. So while Tsipras certainly deserves some criticism, the fact remains that the two goals were incompatible: Europe = austerity, so there was no solution.
It’s not over yet. If the plan that Greece has accepted is actually implemented then the situation will get even worse; things could flair up again soon. Moreover, the political debate has changed: it’s impossible now to hide the contradictions and weaknesses of the current economic policy. Sooner or later there will be political leaders, and maybe entire countries, who will refuse to continue in this direction.”

 

The International Monetary Fund has said that Greece’s debt is unsustainable. Will the EU plan go forward anyway?

“The plan will go forward, but it won’t work. The first “rescue” packages for Greece – in which public money was used to save the private banks, in particular those in Germany and France – were supposed to create the conditions for economic recovery. The same was said for Italy. In reality the result was a drop in GDP, at catastrophic levels in Greece (-30%).
The notion that this type of debt can be repaid through spending cuts is simply absurd. The solution is to restructure and cancel part of the debt, and above all to implement a policy of investment to spur growth. This means ignoring certain dogmas, for example by increasing productive public spending. The part of the debt which is real, and not just due to speculative maneuvers, can be repaid only if the economy is actually growing; the current policy prohibits this, and thus can only fail.”

 

How big a role did the United States play in facilitating the negotiations between the EU and Greece? Was there, and is there, a real possibility that Athens could get closer to Moscow?

“A myth exists in Europe, about how the United States is against the Euro and afraid of the European Union. However, even if we were to grant the premise that the U.S. sees Europe only as a competitor, there is nothing to be afraid of as long as the current economic policy remains in place.
In the name of political union the strength and cohesion of the nations of Europe is being destroyed. The foundation of the EU was quite different, but starting in the 1990s a shift was made to the so-called “free market” policy that allowed large financial interests to dominate the economy. This is good for a few, not for the many.
Secondly, this myth has been debunked by the American position in this crisis: the U.S. didn’t want to see Europe break up, precisely due to the risk of a geopolitical shock. Tsipras showed that he understood the stakes when in St. Petersburg he said that a “new economic world is being formed,” while “the center of gravity of economic development is shifting.”
The West decided to close ranks, to avoid giving an opening to our “enemy” Putin. However the reality is that Europe’s policy of continuous austerity risks making the alternative of the BRICS even more attractive: numerous countries are already breaking away from the Western financial institutions precisely in order to avoid being controlled by a system dominated by large financial interests.”
Giacomo Pratali

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Iran nuclear deal: pros and cons

After 16 days of negotiations, yesterday the US, EU, Russia, Great Britain and China, and Iran reached historical deal on the nuclear program in Vienna. A pact that works for reduction of he production of uranium in Teheran for the next 10 years. And, at the same time, it stops sanctions and trade sanctions.

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Although this is the formal end to decades of conflict with the West, especially during the Presidency of George W. Bush, the Israel’s contrary reaction and the contemporart and inconsistent alliance between Washington and Sunni’s countries, like Saudi Arabia, could be a warning for the International Community.

Inspired by the cartel the previous April 3, the agreement includes four key points. The cut of 98% of the stocks of enriched uranium. The use of centrifuges reduced to two-thirds. The possibility, not automatic,of Alea inspections on Iran’s nuclear facilities, after approval of the court arbitrary composed by the same countries that have signed the agreement. The gradual reduction of the arms embargo within the next five years. The UN resolution is expected next week, when it meets the Security Council.

The heart of the matter between the US and Iran is mainly the use of enriched uranium for civilian and not military. But also there’s the will to create a diplomat axiswith the biggest Shiite state in the Middle East, able to support the Assad regime in Syria or Hezbollah in Lebanon and decisive in the reconquest of the north-western territories in Iraq, now under the Caliphate.

Additionally, beyond this agreement, there’s the oil question. Iran is the fourth largest producer in the world and, with the end of the embargo, will increase its production. The effect could be the oil drum’s fall in price on the International Markets. Moreover, until the seventies, Europe was the first foreign market for Teheran.

US President Obama said: “No deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East. America negotiated from a position of strength and principle and stopped the spread of nuclear weapons. The comprehensive, long-term deal, demonstrated that American diplomacy can bring meaningful change”. And warned Congress he would veto any legislation that prevented its successful implementation.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani talks about “historic deal which opened a new chapter in Iran’s relations with the world”. Eu High Representative Mogherini thinks that the deal is ‘a sign of hope for the entire world’. While is a “sigh of relief for the entire world” in Russian President Putin’s opinion.
The chorus, however, was not unanimous at all the International Community. Predictably, Israel’s response was not long in coming: “The agreement is a historical mistake. “The world is a much more dangerous place today than it was yesterday. The leading international powers have bet our collective future on a deal with the foremost sponsor of international terrorism. “In the coming decade, the deal will reward Iran, the terrorist regime in Tehran, with hundreds of billions of dollars. This cash bonanza will fuel Iran’s terrorism worldwide, its aggression in the region and its efforts to destroy Israel, which are ongoing”. Whereas an official of the government of Saudi Arabia denounced the possibility that Iran could “devastate the Middle East”.

The contradictions within the deal, as the contemporary US alliance with Saudi coalition in Yemen against Houtii (Shiite’s faction supported by Tehran), could bring a long-term strategy. The chance given by the United States and its allies to Iran is directed to the Iranian civil society. The opening to the outside could bring the Shiites and the Sunnis to talks again. This could be an effective weapon against the expansionism of the Islamic State.

Not only abroad. Much of the criticism have come from the United States’s press. Bret Stephen (Wall Street Journal) said that “the agreement will be disastrous” and “unlikely Iran’s foreign policy will change”. Indeed, the deal could backfire on Washington.

 

Giacomo Pratali

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