EU <3 Russia?

What are the reasons which tie Europe to the USA, rather than Russia?

And: what is left after Trump?

It seems far-fetched. But what do the facts say?

The noble reason, of course, is the sharing of values.

But one thing Trump has never contradicted himself on is his admiration for Putin. It would be ironic to think of his government as better. And indeed: he supports torture, is an enemy to women’s reproductive rights, he despises and threatens the checks and balances of democracy…  staying their allies would require us daily looking the other way.

But, what about the practical side -money?

Here things are even more worrying. The other thing Trump has been adamant on, is that he wants America to have a trade surplus; or at least to cut its deficit. It’s an incredibly stupid idea, we all agree. But he will do it -we’ve already seen he really means what he says.

Europe has a huge,and growing, trade surplus with America. This means, adieu to TTIP; but that is only the beginning. It means, any trade move of the Trump administration will be obstinately aimed to reduce our exports.

Instead of being able to hope to boost our economy with ever closer ties, we have to brace ourselves for a merciless trade war which could be devastating -at a time where many states are still exceedingly fragile.

After all, Trump doesn’t even like the European Union. Possibly the only man on earth to fear it, he described it as “an attempt to beat us”. Hell, his perspective ambassador to the EU explicitly likened it to the Soviet Union. Relying America in any way from now on would be suicide. They’ll purposefully try to undermine us at every turn.

So we’re between a rock and a hard place. America is an enemy to us just as much as Russia is. Or is it?

What divides us from Russia?

Mainly… being on America’s side. NATO wants to demolish any alternative sphere of influence; and therefore the wars in Georgia, Ukraine, Syria… we stuck with America because it was the most convenient choice at the time, although it dragged us in a lowkey war with Russia.

But now that war doesn’t exist anymore. Trump has no interest in maintaining a global empire. He explicitly stressed out he won’t antagonize Russia in any way.

So Crimea is Russia now. Kiev won’t like it, but that’s what it is.

Will Europe persist in sanctions against Russia when it also hurts relations with the USA; which will be deteriorating already on their own? Not with this economy, we won’t.

And when you look into it, it’s not that bad. Putin keeps Ukraine in a state of civil war because that gives it a bargaining chip to stop it from joining NATO. With that out of the picture, things might change.

Once we can blame the loss of Crimea on the about-face of America; if Putin started working towards a peaceful agreement in the east, it wouldn’t even look like a defeat if we dropped the sanctions.

Why should Putin want this? Well, because the Pentagon has experts enough. We would have won the war, eventually. Having an enemy is good for the image; but entering the third year straight of economic contraction, or at least far weaker growth than it would be possible -is definitely not. With stagnating economy and ever increased military expenses, Russia would have collapsed given enough time. There is a reason, after all, why they invested heavily in changing things in unconventional ways -say, helping Trump.

At this point, Putin has milked the opposition to America for all it’s worth. Now if Trump offers him recognition as equal superpower again on the world’s stage, recognition of some token victories on the ground (Crimea, Assad in Syria), and it comes with a strong rebound of the economy thanks to the lifting of sanctions… it would be just stupid to refuse, and Putin isn’t stupid. The Russian people would see that their sacrifices actually paid off in full! His support would only stop by hitting its head at the 100% limit.

Sure, in a few years he’ll need another enemy; but maybe in the meantime we’ll have survived Trump. And, that enemy might not even be us. Cannot count on it, but it’s a possibility.  Maybe we can just keep Russians happy with fighting “terrorism”, now that they are ‘a global superpower’? If Americans at the height of their dominance could be kept afraid of Iraq and North Korea -that might definitely be an option.

And in the meantime; the end of the “pro-western” and “pro-russian” nonsense in our backyard would stop useless divisions, and free the region’s potential for commerce. We need it -remember the main crisis: Trump will close his border to our exports. Reopening Putin’s (which also means the land link to China) might just help soften the blow.

And migration. Restoring Assad in Syria cannot possibly be worse than continuing the war -and it will lessen the flow of refugees many of our fellow Europeans are so concerned over. Another crisis we could definitely do without, at least until the union is stronger.

The synergy would be positive in other fields too. Take, privacy: we don’t have a vote in USA, but part of us is there -most of our digital lives. Maybe 90% of our data is under Trump’s jurisdiction, and he made it clear he won’t respect it. Russia has instead developed its own networks, like VKontakte. While it would be just as crazy to switch to Putin’s tools -a technology transfer agreement could help finally jumpstart a proper European digital industry, of which he have a tragic lack as of today.

Of course there is the issue of human rights. But if America has decided not to be better, it’s quite moot. To save our values, the priority is surviving. And I’m pretty sure we could start being OK with them tomorrow -just as we keep being good friends with China, Turkey or Saudi Arabia. Don’t talk about it on the newspapers, it’s as good as not there.

This is what I’ve thought today -Putin, being a smart guy with a passion for audacious plots, has probably seen it from November 9.

The shift could be well underway.

Don’t believe me? Go look at the positions of the candidates to the next big event of European politics -the elections in France, a few months from now. We all know Le Pen is Putin’s lapdog. But what about the pro-EU candidates? Fillon, the “classic right” candidate and current favorite:

European Union sanctions on Russia are pointless, the frontrunner in France’s presidential election Francois Fillon said on Monday in Berlin, warning Russia and the United States under Donald Trump could forge links that exclude the EU.

Oh. What about Macron, the center candidate and rising star of the election?

France must reopen talks with Russia, centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron told journalists on Wednesday. He said Russia must play a decisive role in ending the conflict in Syria, and that the removal of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad cannot be a prior condition to end the war. The former economy minister also favours renewed peace talks on Ukraine in order to gradually diminish sanctions against Russia

This IS huge. Whoever wins -France will be in favor of mending ties with Russia.

And in September, we’ll have the German elections. Would you be so surprised if say a convergence between CSU, AfD and others doing surprisingly well unhorsed Merkel (maybe after some scandal, email reveal, Wikileaks dossier…) -and shifted the tide in favor of Russia in Germany too?

Then the EU would just follow suit.

If my theory is correct, Le Pen will do poorly in the coming months …because her funds and army of virtual influencers will have shifted to the pro-EU candidates.

Enemy cities are to be destroyed if holding them is too difficult. If the enemy is just packing and going away …well, they’re your cities now. America was strong yesterday: but if Trump is either corrupt or blind enough, Putin can just keep Europe together -and playing the right cards, swallow it whole.

Time will tell.

eurussia

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Belief in Belief

Dopo quelle imposte dallo stato (o forse prima), probabilmente la tappa di crescita più inevitabile per tutti i bambini occidentali è la rivelazione che Babbo Natale non esiste.

Nella maggior parte delle famiglie, si esaurisce in una mesta ammissione, tra l’imbarazzato e, forse, il divertito. In poco più di metà dei casi, seguito da una richiesta-intimazione di “non rovinare tutto (cosa?) per tuo fratello minore”. Negli altri casi, in genere seguito da nulla affatto. Del resto con ogni probabilità i doni appariranno sotto l’albero esattamente uguale, il Natale successivo. Magari, si dirà perfino ancora che è stato Babbo Natale.

Non così in casa mia, se mai avrò figli.

Oh, dirò ai miei figli che i regali sotto l’albero vengono da Babbo Natale.

In effetti, professerò di credere fermamente in Babbo Natale. E la Notte di Natale, andrò, con chi abbia trovato di simile a me, ad una cerimonia in onore di Babbo Natale.

E tornerò con regali… molto più belli di quelli dei miei figli. Dopo un po’, noteranno il pattern.

E gli dirò che non possono venire, finché non saranno adulti nella Fede di Babbo Natale. E no, non possiamo chiedere regali a Babbo Natale per conto loro, ognuno deve meritarselo per sé.

E no, non posso dirgli in cosa consiste essere “adulto nella Fede”. È un mistero che va oltre le parole. Ma quando sarà pronto, quando Crederà davvero nel modo giusto, sarà come una luce che tutti riconosceranno.

E andrà avanti, sempre più mano a mano che diventano più grandi. La nostra casa avrà Babbi Natale ovunque, in posizioni di grande onore, ed addobbati con sfarzo ed altettanto cattivo gusto.  I pranzi di Natale saranno pieni di discorsi su quali drammi abbia scatenato per il mondo l’abbandono del vero Spirito del Natale. Oh, e preghiere. E inni. Magari daremo l'”occasione” ai ragazzi di manifestare la loro devozione scrivedo poesie. E recitandole di fronte al pubblico più ampio possibile.

Finché un giorno, qualcuno di loro non reggerà più la discrasia col resto del mondo.  Cederà… compirà apostasia. Mi dirà in faccia …che Babbo Natale non esiste.

Io lo guarderò severamente.

Voglio che tremi. Che pensi che lo butteremo fuori di casa. Che non lo vorremo più vedere (hey, è quello che succede a tanti gay).

E tuttavia, spero che in quell’istante si renda conto che se ha detto quello che ha detto, è perché la verità vale di più.

E poi gli sorriderò. Gli tenderò la mano.

E gli dirò che finalmente ha passato i test. Che l’unica Fede adulta è non averne affatto -e chiamare il bianco bianco se e solo se lo si vede bianco; qualche che sia il colore che tutti attorno a lui, anche i più cari, pretendono sia.

Da quel momento ammetteremo i bambini alle nostre cerimonie noturne; dove, si scoprirà, parleremo di razionalità, brinderemo al futuro -e ci scambieremo i più bei regali che riusciamo ad immaginare.

Un’ultima cosa: anche i bambini dovranno fare regali a noi, a quel punto. Compatibilmente con la loro paghetta, è chiaro. Ma anche in questo aspetto, dovrà essere chiaro che ci si aspetta che tendano ad essere… i nostri uguali, semplicemente: quindi, diritti e doveri. Credo ci sia una lezione anche qui: le cose vere, a differenza della fantasia, non sono gratis, ci si aspetta che diamo qualcosa.

Ma, se i miei sforzi avranno successo, il messaggio principale sarà un altro: che la realtà è meglio della fantasia. E ne vale sempre la pena, anche quando la società cerca di intrappolarci altrimenti.

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Resolutions #2

Did I succeed?

About a month ago, I wrote a post titled “trying not to fool myself“, with the draft of a process to make new year’s resolutions …actually work.

Well, I can say: I did not fool myself. Success! Of all the things I thought of, only one (Duolingo) stuck to a satisfying degree. All the rest kind of fizzled.

So it works, partially: I got at least one thing done. It feels definitely better than feeling lost at sea!

However, another thing is clear: as a human alive today, I have far too few years left, to allow myself the luxury to wait until 2018 to try again.

clessidra-tempo

So, I have decided to set up a system of trimesters. Every month will have its role:

1) Consolidation: absolute focus on making sure I keep doing mi existing resolutions. Noncommittal experimentation is welcome, but secondary.

2) Planning: what do I want to do? Narrow down until it’s manageable. If there are prerequisites, take care of them. Start doing, but with no pressure.

3) Implementation: rien ne va plus; start trying to put into practice the resolutions consistently. If there is a failure, try again. Giving up is not allowed until the end of the month.

Then at the end of the cycle, I get to include as ‘resolutions’ only what I actually started. Then keep focusing on consolidating them for another month; the first of another cycle.

Of course, for those of you from a software development background, the core idea will be a dejà vu.

rapid-release-cycle

The point is, to actually apply a serious system to getting tings done in my life.

So, January will be a consolidation month. At the same time, I’ll start thinking to what I want going forward. The next ‘release’ date, where I’ll have to declare which changes I managed to make to my life, is April 1st; followed by July, October, and January again.

Of course, too short intervals don’t allow planning far ahead: you cannot change the world in three months. But, if I let this stop me in adopting the system, it would be an excuse.

Instead I say to myself this: I’ll practice, by taking care of the myriad of small things for which three months is more than enough. When I’m confident my structure works, I’ll start adding longer goals in parallel. For instance for one, three, and nine years ahead. And 2018 seems a good year to start!
But here too: first experiment, be sure, then commit.

Wish me luck.

(and if you’re inspired and will try something along the same lines -let me know!)

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Coming to terms with #Brexit

The mood after Brexit in Europe was of incredulity. Why on earth? The United Kingdom was enjoying one of the best economies in the continent. They couldn’t even complain about the Euro. And already enjoyed a privileged treatment, Thachter Rebate and all.
Plus, much more than boring Bruxelles, London was shaping to be the economic and cultural capital of Europe. All major financial transactions transited through its banks. It was ‘the big city’ every youth dreamed of. The media even reported on British royal family gossip almost as if they were our own reigning monarchs.

And yet they left. In the bitterest of terms. Truly, it was a sad affair.

eu-flag-burned-618x376

In many cases, on this side, incredulity turned to anger. How dare they? Do they hate us for no reason? Well f*ck them too, then! No pity in negotiations! Make them suffer!

…but as always, emotion is not a good counselor.

Now; if I was British, I wouldn’t come to terms with it. Losing mi rights of freely moving on a whole continent isn’t something I’d take lightly.

However -I’m not. I still have a whole continent. Minus one rainy island.

Yes, it’s a very prominent island. But, if you look into it, Europe’s strength was never in its unity. Yes, our division was ultimately our downfall in 1914-1945. But the reason we had before conquered the world in the first place, was largely the competition between us. While the Holy German Empire and Byzantium declined, Spain and Venice took over; then as they declined too, France and then England and Prussia were experimenting different models, and took over in turn carrying the European torch. Ultimately, as the world became more connected, the latest winners brought back from poverty their decaying peers too, through example and trade. Just imagine a unified empire -like the Chinese, or the Ottomans. Once that became rotten, there was no end to the decline.

So, on the one hand, too much division makes no sense. After all -at no single point in history have we had this many states. Yes, most modern states can trace their origin to some entity existing at some point in time… but for most of its history, Europe was divided between just a handful of states and empires. Today, Czechs and Slovaks, Slovenians and Croatians want their own State. But a hard boundary between them is an absurdity, as it always was. The European Union is here to stay.

On the other hand, though, we should welcome experimentation. The EU already leaves plenty of freedom. But just on the off chance we should ever be all wrong -welcome, our new guinea pig to experiment an ever more radical alternative path.

It does seem they intend to actually take a different path, after all

brexit-31-650

Switzerland and Norway are already out there; but, a bigger state is definitely more representative. And among us, the UK is arguably the only one which can take such a risk. A strong economy and unique ties with most of the world will help make Brexit less painful than it would be for any of the others.
And on the off chance that it will actually turn out a success one day -we will have learned something.

In the meantime, there is a second point to consider; and it too is in favor. It’s that losing the only big piece where the common tongue is natively spoken, might remove a dangerous unbalance.

Why young people’s first choice is so often London, for instance? Well, mostly because they only know English. And they only know English because having London, you would be excused imagining English is the only language you’ll really ever need.
But that’s not ‘union in diversity’, as Europe should be. Without London, Europeans will have to start dreaming about Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid. And so realize they might have to learn French, Swedish, maybe Czech. Of course with English as basic glue; but still on a more equal footing. Instead of overwhelming one country with immigration, that would create a truly European generation.

So, of course the Brits will not have the cake and eat it -that would be ridiculous in all cases. But we should not be opposed to letting them go off with most of the cake they choose not to eat. We should also be wishing them good luck.

brexit

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Trying not to fool myself (Resolutions #1)

Christmas carols, decorations, Facebook #yearinreview: the new year is coming; and with it, a new beginning. Or is it?

Rarely we follow trough with our promises to ourselves. It feels good to make them, but then… eh.

This year, I’m going to try a different approach. Yes it takes time to see the results -but the hard part is starting; and not for a couple of days while on vacation, but in earnest.

Good news: starting is also the part that can be done right now!

So what I will do, is only include in my 1 January resolutions …to get results on activities I’m already doing. In other words: to get to say that something is actually a goal of mine at the turn of the year, I have to start implementing the steps leading to it right now in the normal, working days of December.

Then I’ll just have to continue doing it.

Pubblicato in Uncategorized | Contrassegnato | 1 commento

Italiani, guardate che luna

Continuano ad affiorare articoli che riportano come gli editorialisti stranieri, ad esempio del Financial Times, tifino fortemente per il sì, e paventino l’uscita dall’euro dell’Italia se vincerà il NO. 

Ora, capitemi. Qualcuno dirà che dato che loro rappresentano la finanza cattiva, il vostro interesse é fare l’esatto contrario. Questo non ha senso: l’interesse di tutti gli italiani, dal primo all’ultimo, é quantomeno correlato al fatto che la loro nazione non fallisca. 

Andiamo a vedere però che cosa significa ciò che dicono. 

Se si scomodano a lanciare appelli e avvertimenti, vuol dire che ritengono che l’Italia abbia urgente bisogno di riforme che non sono possibili nel corrente assetto istituzionale. 

Detto in altro modo: vi stanno dicendo che tutte le riforme di Monti, Letta e Renzi sono solo l’inizio. Ed in particolare, che le riforme che devono venire saranno tanto traumatiche da aver bisogno di un governo che può ignorare le proteste perché controlla il Parlamento con un singolo partito. 

Io credo si sbaglino, nel senso che immaginano sia possibile eleggere un partito fiscalmente responsabile, come ne esistono in tutta Europa. Ma in Italia no, non esiste, é ormai chiaro che hai solo sfumature diverse di clientelismo. Che il “chi vince prende tutto” dell’Italicum non può che peggiorare. Esattamente come stiamo vedendo in questa campagna, in cui siamo riusciti a vedere il Pd promettere il ponte sullo Stretto.

Ma il punto non è questo. Il punto è che se credete che mentano, ignorateli e votate come volete. 

Ma se credete che le loro preoccupazioni siano genuine, il 4 dicembre avete tutt’altro da fare che votare: 

Avete da spammare il vostro curriculum ad ogni datore di lavoro in Europa

Perché il NO continua il declino a meno di un miracolo di rinascita politica -ma lo scontento da cui il SÌ dovrebbe blindare l’ipotetico “governo delle riforme” (posto che vinca, poi), con ogni probabilità siete _anche voi_.

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Italiani, guardate che luna

Continuano ad affiorare articoli che riportano come gli editorialisti stranieri, ad esempio del Financial Times, tifino fortemente per il sì, e paventino l’uscita dall’euro dell’Italia se vincerà il NO. 

Ora, capitemi. Qualcuno dirà che dato che loro rappresentano la finanza cattiva, il vostro interesse é fare l’esatto contrario. Questo non ha senso: l’interesse di tutti gli italiani, dal primo all’ultimo, é quantomeno correlato al fatto che la loro nazione non fallisca. 

Andiamo a vedere però che cosa significa ciò che dicono. 

Se si scomodano a lanciare appelli e avvertimenti, vuol dire che ritengono che l’Italia abbia urgente bisogno di riforme che non sono possibili nel corrente assetto istituzionale. 

Detto in altro modo: vi stanno dicendo che tutte le riforme di Monti, Letta e Renzi sono solo l’inizio. Ed in particolare, che le riforme che devono venire saranno tanto traumatiche da aver bisogno di un governo che può ignorare le proteste perché controlla il Parlamento con un singolo partito. 

Io credo si sbaglino, nel senso che immaginano sia possibile eleggere un partito fiscalmente responsabile, come ne esistono in tutta Europa. Ma in Italia no, non esiste, é ormai chiaro che hai solo sfumature diverse di clientelismo.

Ma il punto non è questo. Il punto è che se credete che mentano, ignorateli e votate come volete. 

Ma se credete che le loro preoccupazioni siano genuine, il 4 dicembre avete tutt’altro da fare che votare: 

Avete da spammare il vostro curriculum ad ogni datore di lavoro in Europa

Perché il NO continua il declino a meno di un miracolo di rinascita politica -ma lo scontento da cui il SÌ dovrebbe blindare l’ipotetico “governo delle riforme”, con ogni probabilità siete _anche voi_.

Pubblicato in Uncategorized | Lascia un commento