A specter haunts Europe. No, it's not communism; it's US rating agencies. Greece is bankrupt; the eurozone is about to crack; JP Morgan makes billion-dollar "mistakes"; there's no (jobs) future for the new generations. And yet the weaponized arm of the Western 0.1% elites occupies Chicago -- turned into an Orwellian police city-state -- to discuss "smart defense."
In Afghanistan, the "smart" North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is in fact bound for a humiliating escape. "Smart defense" is code for "there's no money." Only five among 28 NATO member states spend 2% of their gross domestic product on the military -- as NATO would have it. One of them was -- surprise! -- Greece. Here's yet another crash course on weaponized neo-liberalism. First Greece was more or less forced to buy expensive submarines from the French and the Germans; then it was forced to make budget cuts. Call it the "food for subs" NATO relief plan.
The US pays for no less than 75% of NATO's bills -- yet another graphic demonstration of NATO as the European arm of the Pentagon. Still, in 2011 European Union (EU) members spent no less that $180 billion on defense. Not anymore. There's no money. So it will be up to the Pentagon to keep it going.
This means in practice
an American warship armed with interceptors
stationed in the Mediterranean, and a NATO,
Turkey-based radar system controlled out of the
headquarters in Ramstein, in Germany. The
sprawling Ramstein base is led by an American
general. Now, according to the Turkish newspaper
Zaman, a Turkish general will be his
second-in-command. This is the kind of carrot
Turkey gets for campaigning for regime change in
Those who believe NATO's spin -- this shield is not aimed at Russia, but as a defense against "evil" Iranian missiles -- may join Alice in Wonderland. For all practical purposes, Russian military chief General Nikolai Makarov has already said Russia is bound to respond by stationing short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, near the Polish border. You can take NATO out of the Cold War but you can't take the Cold War out of NATO.
Medium rare, no ketchup
So what's left to save Western civilization? Cheeseburgers. With French -- not "freedom" -- fries.
This new cheeseburger diplomacy, sealed at the Oval Office by Obama and new French President Francois Hollande, is supposed to save Greece, revamp the eurozone and reignite the US economy, just in time for the November US presidential election. How come the redoubtable US burger chain Five Guys never thought about that before?
Here's the Obama calculation. If his Republican challenger Mitt Romney gets elected in November, we are even more screwed than we are now. I need jobs. I need a recovering economy. I need those damned Europeans to put their house in order. I can't sit down here waiting for them to solve the Greek problem; I've got an election to win.
Here's the Hollande calculation. I won my election. I promised to deliver jobs and growth. Now I need my coalition of the willing -- for growth; otherwise we will be run over by the extreme right, everywhere. Mon Dieu, how come "Onshela" -- aka German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- can't understand that?
For the Franco-American duo, it's a win-win situation. Hollande's economic policy is in fact Team Obama's economic policy. They may have laid down the (new) law to "Onshela" at the placid Camp David Group of Eight retreat -- protected from the real world by an army that could effect regime change anywhere in five minutes.
Obama is in a hurry. Current Italian Supreme Interventor Mario Monti -- former Goldman Sachs -- may have the market credibility to convince Berlin and the troika (European Central Bank, European Commission, International Monetary Fund) that either Europe grows or there's no money to anybody. But Obama also needs a strategic political ally. That's certainly not austerity dominatrix "Onshela."
I'd rather have a steak