28 October 2018   Leave a comment

The US endured three acts of domestic terrorism last week.  First, a white man killed two African-Americans in a grocery store in Kentucky.  He had first tried to enter the predominantly African-American First Baptist church but it was locked.  When confronted by bystanders after he had killed the two African-Americans, the killer was reported to have said: “Whites don’t kill whites.”  Then as many as thirteen home-made bombs were sent to various critics of the Trump Administration, including former Presidents Obama and Clinton.  The person arrested for these crimes drove a van embellished with a variety of stickers suggesting a stark view of good and evil in the American political system.  Finally, there was a mass shooting in a synagogue in Pittsburgh in which 11 Jews were killed by a perpetrator who allegedly said “All Jews must die.”

It is impossible not to conclude that American society is in deep distress.  I believe firmly that the majority of Americans are committed to the finest aspiration of the Declaration of Independence that “All men are created equal”.  But the frequency of hate crimes in the US indicates that there is also a willingness to ignore those who refuse to believe in the fundamental equality of all.  As I have read and listened to accounts of these acts in the media, I have been struck by the speciousness of the debate on who is responsible for irresponsible political rhetoric.  Anyone who considers their political opponents to be evil or not deserving of respect fails to meet the most basic requirements of what it means to be an American.   I fear for the future of the Republic.



German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition suffered election losses in Hesse, an important regional state.  Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) each lost about 10% of their votes in previous elections.  The results in Hesse were similar to the recent elections in Bavaria where the left-wing Greens and the right wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) both increased their representation.  The center in Europe continues to lose ground.  The election suggests that Merkel will not be able to hold her position much longer, with significant implications for both Germany and the European Union.  Reuters frames the European issue in this way:  “Merkel’s weakness at home may limit her capacity to lead in the European Union at a time when the bloc is dealing with Brexit, a budget crisis in Italy and the prospect of populist parties making gains at European parliament elections next May.”

Vote Count

2018 Result 2013 Result Change
CDU 27.9% 38.3% -10.4%
SPD 19.9% 30.7% -10.8%
Greens 19.5% 11.1% +8.4%
AfD 12.1% 4.1% +8.0%
FDP 7.5% 5.0% +2.5%
Left 6.6% 5.2% +1.4%


Hilary Hurd and Elena Chachko have written a very informative article for Lawfare on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the significance of a possible US withdrawal from the treaty.  The Treaty prohibits “the United States and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers and their launchers.”  Earlier US President Trump had indicated that he wanted to withdraw from the Treaty because he believes that Russia has violated it and also because it does not include China.   The INF was signed in 1987 and stopped a dangerous arms race in Europe.  Moreover, the INF called for the elimination of a whole class of nuclear weapons: “the Soviet Union destroyed 1,846 missiles and the United States destroyed 846 missiles by May 28, 1991″  The article assesses the consequences of a US withdrawal:

“On the one hand, continued U.S. compliance in the face of Russian non-compliance undercuts the U.S. strategic position, especially considering the INF-class missile systems that other actors have acquired. Furthermore, NATO appears to support a tougher stance against Russia on INF compliance. Nevertheless, a U.S. withdrawal from the INF would constitute yet another retreat from international instruments and institutions. When coupled with the Trump administration’s intent to replenish the U.S. nuclear arsenal, withdrawal might undermine other longstanding international arms control regimes, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and encourage other actors to opt out and fend for themselves.”

My own view is that it makes little sense to withdraw from an arms control treaty without proposing a viable alternative as well.  Otherwise, one simply opens the flood gates for another arms race by creating a nasty Security Dilemma.




Posted October 28, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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