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The Responsibilities of Superpowers.

The critical component to making change is people –  winning hearts and minds to take seemingly complex and threatening steps. Brutality, bullying does not cut it here. There are no quick fixes. Love and trust take time to earn.

I have been musing about our foreign policy and NATO in particular. There is the obvious issue surrounding different member contributions to the budget. But this is off the point, an obsession born of a flawed property developer conditioned by a life time of living on the edge of bankruptcy, and archetypichally lacking in trust or love.

The reality is very much more complex and nuanced. There is litte common ground in Europe; there are profound differences. Threats and confusion abounds. To the East and South relatively new nation states – Hungary, Romania, Poland, as well as the Baltic countries have all too fresh memories of invasion, occupation and death*. They are exchanging Communist rule for that of one party demagogues. They are   finding easy common ground with Russia. Other nations – Italy, Greece – are desperate to find cheap financing to stave off the Damoclean sword of economic collapse. They see both Russia and China as increasingly legitimate partners. The US threats of a trade war and offhand criticism of leaders only adds to the general confusion and mistrust . It can only weaken the leadership of nations such as Germany, and France. It only fuels the frenzy of the Brexit groundhog day in the UK. All three great countries are threatened by recession; their eyes are off the ball, they need sophisticated, sensitive and long term support.

The need in Europe is for a common long term vision of what success will look like, what Europe should be and how best to get there. The US has a major role to play in facilitating this.

The European military and economic defences are in a mess – the NYT on saturday explained how until recently their cyber security defences only operated weekdays from 0900hrs to 1700 hrs – Europe was wide open out of hours and at weekends!

On the economic front all nations are desperate for power supplies, infrastructure investment, and gateways to markets for their often world beating manufactures. All know they are on the edge of an egregious precipice as climate change and social failure in North Africa pushes more refugees to seek the southern shores of the Mediterranean.

Europe is faltering. The only superpower has a priceless role to play to stimulate economic growth,  focus long term attention on the challenges of immigration, and lead the world’s response to climate change. This challenge is large, a responsibility for a superpower. All we need now is for a superpower to step forward.

*The last Soviet troops did not leave Europe until 1992.

Have a good day, James.