4 September 2014   Leave a comment

I often read essays that are intelligent but whose conclusions are hard to accept.  Such is the case with the essay by Thomas Mahnken in Foreign Policy (for my Mount Holyoke students, you will have to read this on a College computer–the College has a subscription to the Journal).  His use of von Clausewitz in his analysis rings true, but he forgets the most important proposition articulated by the noted military strategist:  was is nothing more than politics carried out by other means.  Thus, when Mahnken argues at the end that the US should “go to war” with the Islamic State, I am uncertain what the political objective would be:  would it be some sort of settlement, or would it be the extermination of all IS adherents?  The former is difficult to conceive; the latter is slaughter, not war.

People in Scotland will be voting on whether Scotland should break away from the United Kingdom and become an independent state on 18 September.  The vote is currently too close too call, and there are reasons to be concerned about the move.  Regardless of the consequences, however, the case study is intriguing.  Secessionist movements are occurring all over the world right now (the Kurds, Russian speaking people in Ukraine, the Uighurs in China).  By and large, these movements have a degree of violence.  The Scottish case is interesting because the possible secession is proceeding in a perfectly peaceful manner. The division between the nation and the state is rarely accomplished in such a leisurely fashion.

The slowing European economy has forced the European Central Bank to take the unprecedented step of purchasing assets with money not necessarily backed up by tax revenues.  The process is called Quantitative Easing and it is the official policy of the US, Japan, and the Bank of England.   It is a risky policy because it contains the seeds of inflation (although under current conditions, those seeds will likely fall on barren soil).  But inthe case of Europe, the policy may in fact break European Union law since it prohibits the European central Bank from lending directly to banks (it is supposed to lend only to sovereign governments).  We’ll see whether Germany, which has a rabid fear of inflation given the history German hyperinflation in 1923, decides to contest the policy.

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Posted September 4, 2014 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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