Belmont Club

Links From All Over

Entire British Army battalions and regiments are to be disbanded on their return from Afghanistan, a memo sent to officers discloses.

The Greek bailout has not stopped the Euro crisis. The WSJ writes “as the days have passed, investors have taken an increasingly jaundiced view of the agreement, so much so that the Spanish government is once again paying more than 6% to borrow for 10 years, or just below the level at which the governments of Greece, Ireland and Portugal were forced to seek help. … Europe’s leaders will have to interrupt their August vacations and come up with a proper plan.”

Plus, below the Read More: ‘we can’t show you the President’s debt plan so he can successfully compromise with Republicans on it’.

Paul Ryan and Fred Thompson support the Boehner plan with some reluctance, as Harry Reid calls it Dead on Arrival. This, as IMF Chief Legarde exhorts US politicians to show the same courage as their European counterparts.

Mexican cartels got guns from operation Fast and Furious, according to the Christian Science Monitor, and Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R) of House Oversight Committee’s report says that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer was clearly aware of its existence.

NSA Lawyer Questioned Over Cellphone Location Tracking of Americans, says the WSJ. “There are certain circumstances where that authority may exist,” Matthew Olsen, who is currently at the NSA and has been nominated to lead the National Counterterrorism Center, said.

Although Olsen acknowledged the possibility, he also said “it is a very complicated question” and that the intelligence community is working on a memo that will provide a better answer for the committee.

And in other news, Syria dispatched battlions of troops to suppress opposition in two Damascus suburbs. A humanitarian crisis is growing in Libya, according to the UN. Yemen’s Islamists have formally pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. A roadside bomb has wounded 5 French peacekeepers in Lebanon. Islamists are widely expected to show strongly in the coming Egyptian elections.

Plus, who’s on the ropes in Libya? The Washington Post says that NATO is showing increasing willingness to let Khadaffy stay in the country. Who’s on First? Or does it matter anymore?

Western powers are signaling an increased willingness to allow Moammar Gaddafi to remain in Libya if he agrees to step down after nearly 42 years as the country’s autocratic ruler, diplomats said Tuesday.

Britain this week became the third NATO member to say that Gaddafi might be permitted to stay if Libyan rebels were willing to accept his presence in the country under a deal. Some officials of the rebels’ Transitional National Council have suggested that they could accept having Gaddafi remain in Libya if he relinquished all political power.

Another take on the Norway killings: Are “Gun-Free Zones” Really “Target-Rich Environments”? So if the entire civilian population is disarmed that makes them a target-rich environment for whom?

A STRATFOR link that commenter Marie Claude introduces says that the sovereign debt crisis has simultaneously shattered Germany’s European cage and while absolving the wastrels from consequences of their actions.

Every state will react to this new world differently. The French are both thrilled and terrified — thrilled that the Germans have finally agreed to commit the resources required to make the European Union work and terrified that Berlin has found a way to do it that preserves German control of those resources. The French realize that they are losing control of Europe, and fast. France designed the European Union to explicitly contain German power so it could never be harmed again while harnessing that power to fuel a French rise to greatness. The French nightmare scenario of an unrestrained Germany is now possible.

The British are feeling extremely thoughtful. They have always been the outsiders in the European Union, joining primarily so that they can put up obstacles from time to time. With the Germans now asserting financial control outside of EU structures, the all-important U.K. veto is now largely useless. Just as the Germans are in need of a national debate about their role in the world, the British are in need of a national debate about their role in Europe. The Europe that was a cage for Germany is no more, which means that the United Kingdom is now a member of different sort of organization that may or may not serve its purposes.

The Russians are feeling opportunistic. They have always been distrustful of the European Union, since it — like NATO — is an organization formed in part to keep them out. In recent years the union has farmed out its foreign policy to whatever state was most impacted by the issue in question, and in many cases these states has been former Soviet satellites in Central Europe, all of which have an axe to grind. With Germany rising to leadership, the Russians have just one decision-maker to deal with. Between Germany’s need for natural gas and Russia’s ample export capacity, a German-Russian partnership is blooming. It is not that the Russians are unconcerned about the possibilities of strong German power — the memories of the Great Patriotic War burn far too hot and bright for that — but now there is a belt of 12 countries between the two powers. The Russian-German bilateral relationship will not be perfect, but there is another chapter of history to be written before the Germans and Russians need to worry seriously about each other.

Is the world just its usual broken self or is there something in the general cadence and quality of news events that suggests a discontinuity? And if so the powers that be already positioning themselves for what comes afterward? It has been said that “there’s a lot of ruin in a country” and although people have been predicting the end of the world for a long time, it keeps spinning.

Although its only anecdotal evidence, on my recent trip to Cebu, nobody found the assertion of a coming discontinuity in the slightest degree controversial. Some people asked me, “what’s happening to America?” Where is everything going? The overseas workers which have kept that country afloat have been coming home, unable to find contract extensions. Like storm petrels heralding bad weather, they bring with them the rumor of rain.

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