Western European News Digest
British Troops Could Be Withdrawn Ahead of U.S. Forces
Major General Douglas Lute, director of operations for the U.S. Central Command, said it is "entirely feasible" that British troops would be withdrawn from southern Iraq before U.S. forces leave. Lute said Aug. 24 in London, that military officials expect troop reductions to occur most rapidly outside the Sunni Triangle.
In addition, Britain will take over control of NATO forces in Afghanistan in April, which will put huge pressure on its Iraq deployment of about 9,000 troops. Eventually, NATO will set up another headquarters to the east Afghanistan, and "then all of Afghanistan will be under the NATO flag," Lute said.
He said Britain has also taken on responsibility to eradicate Afghanistan's opium poppy crop, and U.S. forces would work alongside the British only when they were available. He claimed that there was no hard intelligence linking the narcotics trade with "extremists" but did acknowledge that the Taliban were still recruiting supporters.
Former British Chancellor Declares the Euro a Failure
Former British Chancellor and Tory leader Kenneth Clarke called the euro "a failure" and said that the European Constitution "is effectively dead." Clarke is seeking to become leader of the Conservative (Tory) Party when current leader Michael Howard steps down at the party conference in October. Clarke had previously strongly backed the euro.
Clarke told the journal Central Banking that he had overestimated what the euro would do for the EU economies. He said: "I thought it would lead to increased productivity, efficiency, and living standards and would stimulate policy reforms. On that front, so far it has been a failure."
On the EU Constitution, he said: "There is no way of rescuing the treatyalthough I was in favorand the sooner we can make a reality of economic reforms in terms that are seen by the public as contributing to their economic well-being, the better." Clarke said the euro zone's "one-size fits all" interest rates were causing severe strains in the "southern tier" of the EU. "I am beginning to worry considerably about where Italy is going," he said. "The Italian government is utterly oblivious of the need to retain some reasonable fiscal discipline. It is still running a kind of family capitalism without paying any heed to the level of wages or other costs."
He also said that conditions had never been "ripe" for Britain to join the euro. "I do not think there has ever been a time when the British could have joined with complete security and confidence. I doubt it is possible for ten years or more."
German Neo-Cons Blame Adenauer for Defending the General Welfare
In a 45-minute special on the development of Germany during the 1950s, the national 3Sat television station gave ample room to interviews with leading neocons of the ilk of Hans Tietmeyer, Meinhard Miegel, and Otto Graf Lambsdorff. All three vehemently attacked post-war Germany's first Chancellor Konrad Adenauer for having introduced social security legislation in the late 1950s, which still poses an "obstacle to [monetarist] reforms," to this day.
Especially the refugee compensation law (Lastenausgleich) of 1955, which compensated millions of Germans for lost property in the East, and the social security and pension laws of 1957, were attacked, as rammed through by Adenauer against the explicit "warnings" coming from free-market advocates among government advisers. These laws, Tietmeyer, Miegel, and Lambsdorff claimed, undercut the development of market-based welfare structures and thereby created the "problems" which the social-security system is faced with today.
French Socialist Party on the Brink of Explosion
The French Socialist Party's cadre school, which ended Aug. 23, is likely to turn into a major showdown between the current leadership of François Hollande, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Bernard Kouchner and others, who said "Yes" to the European Constitution, versus those who voted "No," such as Laurent Fabius, Montebourg, Melenchon, and Emmanueli, and others.
On Aug. 21 Arnaud Montebourg, leader of the New Socialist Party faction, and a wild-eyed young lawyer calling for a British-style parliamentary system, demanded the ouster of the present leadership and its replacement by Fabius and Melenchon. The week before, Michel Rocard, former Prime Minister, who is also in the "Yes" camp, stated that should the crypto-Marxists, i.e., the "'No' camp" win, the present leadership should be ready to split the party.
Bernard Kouchner, another of the top leaders, stated that he agreed with Rocard on that point. Between these two factions, however, there is almost nothing but false debates, with more or less rational individuals in both factions.
The LaRouche Youth Movement will intervene inside and outside over the three-day process with both a leaflet and big banners on Cheney's "Guns of August," and LaRouche associate Jacques Cheminade's statement on the polytechnical franc, Bueso President Helga Zepp-LaRouche's campaign for Chancellor of Germany, and world economic reform.
Special Reconnaissance Unit On Site at de Menezes Shooting
Soldiers of Britain's special reconnaissance unit (SRU), were present at the scene of the assassination of Brazilian citizen Jean Charles de Menezes, The Times of London reported Aug. 24. Some six soldiers of the SRU were drafted by the police on July 22, because the police were so overdeployed.
Surveillance officers sitting next to de Menezes reportedly had concluded that he was not a terrorist, but since neither their radios, nor those of the execution squad functioned in the Tube (subway), they could not communicate this to the Scotland Yard CO19 firearms squad who killed de Menezes. In addition, the police and army were using non-compatible radios.
SRU soldiers are reportedly saying the firearms squad panicked, but the police blame the misidentification of de Menezes by a soldier for the killing. The dispute could "jeopardise future joint operations," The Times reported, although security forces are still looking for another terror cell in Britain. Meanwhile, police are claiming that CCTV cameras in the Tube train and on the platform were not working at the time of the shooting, but Tube workers contradict this. The CCTV footage is missing.
An inquest into the killing has been put off for another six months. The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it would complete its investigation by Christmas.
Pope, in Germany, Reaffirms Ecumenical Relations with Jews and Muslims
The Catholic Church's 20th World Youth Day Aug. 15-21, included a visit by Pope Benedict XVI to a Jewish Synagogue in Cologne, a meeting with Muslim leaders, and an ecumenical gathering with German Protestant leaders, carrying the clear message that there can only be peace among religions if it is based on the dignity of man, who was created in the image of God. The World Youth Day, with 450,000 youth from 197 countries, plus another half-million visitors over the Aug. 20-21 weekend, reaffirmed the leitmotiv which had been established for this event by Pope John Paul II, who had called on young people to be "builders of a civilization based on justice and love."
The chairman of the German Jewish Council Paul Spiegel, and chairman of the Cologne Jewish community Abraham Lehrer, praised the first visit of the Pope to the Cologne synagogue, one of the oldest in Europe, as a "unique historical event."
The Pope also met with a group of ten Muslim leaders on Aug. 20, most of whom are from an organization of Turks in Germany. He said the world would be exposed to "the darkness of a new barbarism" unless religions worked together to combat terrorism."
Pope Benedict gave the concluding mass of his trip to Germany before 1 million young people. He said that freedom isn't about enjoying life in total autonomy, but rather about "living by the measure of truth and goodness, so that we ourselves can become true and good."
Blair Presides Over Widest Chasm Between Rich and Poor
A report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), titled "Focus on Social Inequalities," compared average weekly incomes of families in the top 10% of incomes (earning 658 pounds or more a week) with those in the lowest 10% (earning 164 pounds or less a week). Since the mid-1990s, while disposable income for both groups had risen by over 20%, the disparity between the two had widened by 90 pounds (about $170) a week. The richest 10% now have 119 pound more per week, while the poorest only have 28 pounds per week.