Mark Armstrong’s Weekly Update and News Review – 31 March 2017

Greetings from Tyler,

Britain is moving ahead with the legal details that will complete its extraction from the European Union within the next year or two.  Prime Minister Theresa May looks to be resolute and prepared to match warnings and threats from EU ministers in real time.  Suggestions that the EU might expel Brits living and working on the continent were met by Mrs. May with an assurance that Europeans living and working in England might be summarily sent home if the EU wants to play hardball.

The world will be watching as the contentious divorce plays out.  But EU officials can hardly contain their fury about the whole situation, particularly as President Trump has expressed support for the British exit, saying that it may serve as a “blueprint” for other nations that want out.  That caused EU President Claude Junker to lash out in an angry speech he delivered this week.  He threatened to back Ohio and Austin, Tx becoming independent from the United States during his rant during a political gathering in Malta, and did so with a straight face.  There is a report of a smattering of chuckles in his audience, but no indication of jest on his part.  Ohio voted for Trump, and Austin is in Texas, for pity’s sake.  No stranger to outbursts of non-sense, Junker also warned that the British exit could spark World War III if it should vote to leave the EU.  That was one year ago.

Obviously, President Trump played no part in the British referendum that put the UK on a path back to national sovereignty, which happened even before the nomination was decided.  But Junker’s embarrassingly stupid remark shows just how ticked off EU officials are about Britain’s  assertion of independence, and the prospect that it may not be the only country to reject EU membership.  The EU is in trouble financially, with insolvent members across southern Europe.  How much immediate political trouble the EU faces may become clearer as national elections play out later this year and next.  Long term, the future of the EU in its present configuration looks mighty bleak.  What emerges from its eventual collapse should be the real concern.

North Korea has emerged as a grave concern, particularly to the economically vibrant South Korea and to Japan, and appears to have the full attention of the Trump administration.  General Mattis is generating headlines around the world declaring, “North Korea must be stopped.”  The new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson also spoke up earlier this month and declared that military options were “on the table.”  It might not be as simple or tidy as bombing missile sites.  The U. S. maintains twenty eight thousand soldiers along the De-militarized Zone separating North and South Korea, and Japan in within range of missiles that Kim Jong-un has tested recently.  Nevertheless, Kim Jong-un openly threatens war on a regular basis, and claims that his nuclear missile program is nearing the point where he could actually hit the American mainland.  It’s beginning to look like those responsible for National Security and that of our allies are starting to lose their sense of humour.

Another, potentially more dangerous situation is developing with the transport of several hundred more troops into Syria.  That situation is so impossibly convoluted as to defy explanation.  The players include ISIS, the government of Assad in Syria, allied with Russia, and Iran.  There is no doubt that the U. S. is now, finally, committed to the destruction of ISIS.  But intervention in the situation complicates an already tense relationship with Russia, not to mention Syria and Iran.

We can see what an incredible mess has been left to the Trump administration, throughout the Middle East, and nearly everywhere on earth.  Meanwhile, the mainstream media is nearly mad with its breathless campaign to bring the Trump presidency to an early demise, and their daily, nightly assertions of an ongoing “cover-up” of “collusion with the Russians” to interfere in the presidential election could hardly be more entertaining.  You’d almost conclude that nothing else of importance was occurring anywhere on earth.  Clearly, that is not the case.  We are watching some of the most significant events in modern history take shape.  The news is likely to get intensely more sober when the subject finally gets changed.

Mark Armstrong

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