Moving Beyond the US

The United States is typically a very self-absorbed nation. As the largest economy in the world, and separated by two oceans, US based news and the opinions it shapes have always been centered on domestic concerns projected out into the world. This has only been exacerbated by the a pathologically self-absorbed president.

Because of this problem, the simple fact that the world is fleeing away has escaped many Americans. What has been a growing practical reality as the US share of the world economy slips is becoming a necessity thanks to severe foreign policy mistakes, all of which cater to a domestic audience. “All politics is local” remains true, even though it clearly should not be.

The two biggest foreign policy areas, a trade war with China and sanctions against Iran, appear to be two different situations with the US at the center of both. They are not, and increasingly will become less and less about the US. This simple fact is going right past us, too – making our policies even more ridiculous and harmful to our own interests.

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Brexit Blowup

The vote went for Brexit. The hounds of chaos have been unleashed. Is this a harbinger of a Trump victory in November? Political trends in the US have first shown in the UK before, with Margaret Thatcher predating Ronald Reagan and Tony Blair arriving before Bill Clinton. More importantly, the polls were as wrong on Brexit as they were on Cameron’s big win in the last Parliamentary elections. Is this a sign?

The short answer is “Yes”, but the long answer is “No”. This has a long way to play out before the US votes, and we don’t yet know what will happen. There will be a lot more anarchy in the UK and the final lesson is far from written.

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The Euro Forced Marriage

The time was a year before the Euro launched, the place was the tiny town of Burghausen, Germany.  Busloads of people from their sister city in France were welcomed with fluttering tricolors silently proclaiming liberty, equality, and brotherhood. It was declared “French Week” through the town as menus in German gave way to French and the whole town celebrated unity.

I asked Herr Mitterer, the owner of the Hotel Post, if this grand “Eurozone” idea was going to work.  “It has to,” he replied, “We’ve seen the alternative.”

Underneath the giddy celebrations at the end of a long period of expansion, the Euro was launched in 1999.  It was always a forced marriage, a necessity blessed like any marriage with talk of happiness and great times ahead.  But at the first sign of trouble the cracks are showing.  Fourteen years on it is at a turning point – move closer or forget the whole thing?

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While Europe Burns

It’s been a long time since I wrote about Europe.  How many ways can a humble blogger say, “Nothing has really changed”?  Nothing has.  Currency union has turned into a straightjacket of austerity and the European Union is plunging into a deep recession.  The only true news has been a day of protest across Europe, fueled in part by the now 25% unemployment rate in Spain and other nations.  It has become a full meltdown.

But so far, no banks have failed.  Isn’t that wonderful?

There are several potential problems for the US as this continues, but the most important is its effect on our trade.  Yet, for all the trouble in Europe, it may not affect us at all.  Can Europe burn while the US stands by?  The short answer is sure, why not.  Here’s why:

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