11 February 2016   Leave a comment

Turkish President Erdogan has decided to use the Syrian refugees as a weapon in his pursuit of Turkish interests in Syria.  Essentially, he has put pressure on Europe to put pressure on Russia to stop supporting Syrian President Assad and to foreclose European and US support for the Kurds.   In a speech in Ankara, Erdogan is quoted as saying:

“We do not have the word ‘idiot’ written on our foreheads. We will be patient, but we will do what we have to. Don’t think that the planes and the buses are there for nothing….In the past we have stopped people at the gates to Europe, in Edirne we stopped their buses. This happens once or twice and then we’ll open the gates and wish them a safe journey, that’s what I said.”

Turkey is currently hosting about 3 million refugees and the threat of kicking them out of Turkey into Europe would likely have catastrophic effects on Europe.

The S&P stocks (considered to be a benchmark for the health of the US economy as a whole) has lost about $2 trillion in value since 1 January, and there seems to be a high degree of uncertainty in the bond markets as well.  There are a variety of reasons why this decline is occurring, but the consequence of the declines is that all sorts of questions are being raised about the creditworthiness of many sovereign states who have a significant amount of debt.  The fears are beginning to rattle the European markets and other countries like Venezuela and Nigeria.  For the first time since 2012, some are beginning to talk about sovereign defaults.

Unfortunately, empires never completely die.  Vestiges of imperial actions persist through time:  Roman law still exists, many people speak English throughout the world, and Spain has some of the finest Islamic architecture ever made.  But memories of empire also persist, and those memories often prove to be pernicious.  A recent example is a comment made by venture capitalist Marc Andreeson tweet deploring an Indian decision to block certain policies of Facebook.  He tweeted that “Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?”   I sincerely doubt that many Indians regret kicking the British Empire out.

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Posted February 12, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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