News Archive – February 2016

nafta-flagNAU - Caution SignNORTH AMERICA:
Game Change: Jeff Sessions Endorses Trump from Stage in Alabama; Stunning Event Unites Populist, Nationalist Movement
Breitbart, Feb 28, 2016 – Sessions is known for his tough views on immigration and trade and has repeatedly aimed to push the Republican Party in a more populist, nationalist direction…. Sessions is the most highly sought-after endorsement because of his respect party-wide, and he’s been cited by Cruz especially frequently on the campaign trail.
Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Endorses Donald Trump – Breitbart, Feb 27, 2016 – Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer endorsed GOP frontrunner Donald Trump for president on Saturday. Brewer stated she believes Trump will secure the border:
Arizona’s unsecured border is the gateway of illegal immigration into the United States and the politicians in Washington D.C. have continually failed to secure our border. As I’ve always said: A nation without borders is like a house without walls – it collapses. As Arizona’s Governor, I witnessed too much heartache, loss and suffering caused by illegal immigration. I’ve seen communities destroyed by the drugs, gangs, drop houses and cartels. The cost of health care, education and incarceration for illegal immigrants places a crushing burden on taxpayers. Workers of all backgrounds are deprived of jobs and income from our open, bleeding border.”
For years I pleaded with the federal government to do their job and secure our border. Today, we can elect a President who will do just that – Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump will secure our borders, defend our workers and protect our sovereignty.
Vicente Fox - NAmrcn UnionFormer Mexican President Vicente Fox on Donald Trump: ‘I’m not going to pay for that f—ing wall’ – Los Angeles Times, Feb 25, 2016 – The former president of Mexico Vicente Fox has a blunt rebuttal to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plans to build an enormous wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. “I’m not going to pay for that f—— wall,” Fox said in an interview with Univision’s “Al Punto”….
Trump took notice of the rebuke and gave his own response on Twitter on Thursday afternoon: “FMR PRES of Mexico, Vicente Fox horribly used the F word when discussing the wall. He must apologize! If I did that there would be a uproar!”
Trump went even further when Fox’s remarks came up during Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate. “The wall just got 10 feet taller!” Trump said.

ASEAN FlagASEAN - China - South-China-SeaASEAN:
How China is driving Japan closer to Southeast Asia
Deutsche Welle (Germany), Feb 24, 2016 – Kristen Gunness, an expert on the Chinese military and the CEO of Vantage Point Asia LLC, argues that Beijing’s assertiveness in the region “has definitely played a role in pushing Japan to form closer ties to Southeast Asian nations.” …. As a result, says analyst Gunness, Japan will likely continue to use a combination of military and economic incentives to increase its influence with ASEAN in the near future.

EU-flagEurasec FlagEUROPEAN UNION, EURASIAN UNION and the
‘NEW MERCANTILISM’:
Competitors benefit from the freezing of EU-Russia trade relations
eurasian-european_unionsEverybody understands that Russia will not beg the EU to abandon sanctions, but the longer the sanctions persist, the more Russia will develop its import substitution, writes Vladimir Chizhov.
EurActiv, Feb 21, 2016 – We do not yet have a clear understanding of the EU position regarding the establishment of relations with the Eurasian Economic Union, though relevant proposals have already been made by the Eurasian Economic Commission…. But let us try to imagine if amelioration happens later rather than sooner? Firstly, the longer the present “sanctions” period lasts the more Russia will develop its import substitution (already quite visible, for example, in agriculture). The more it will strengthen relations with other sources of food imports – like Latin America, China and – finally – Iran that happens to be our close geographical neighbour fresh from a sanctions-lifting exercise.
The Ukraine crisis signals the beginning of Henry Kissinger’s “new mercantilism” of “competing regional units.” As was typical of historic mercantilism, media reports within both sides of today’s Ukraine crisis acknowledge that antagonism from the other region is useful in the deeper integration of their own regional bloc. Here are some examples:
WESTERN SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA MAY BOOST EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION – RT (Russia Today), March 20, 2014 – – “What would then happen is that the Eurasian Economic Union would accelerate in scale very rapidly.”
THANK YOU, MR PUTIN – DW (Deutsche Welle, Germany), March 21, 2014 – – “With your annexation of the Crimea you have thrown a much-needed lifeline to…European integration…”
VLADIMIR PUTIN: HERO OF THE EUROPEAN UNION – Breitbart London, March 14, 2014 – “Vladimir Putin’s adventurism in the Ukraine has had a strange side effect: it may well have prolonged the life of his chief rival and antagonist – the European Union…”

EU-flagEUROPEAN UNION: ORDER out of CHAOS
Fintan O’Toole: EU at its strongest when on brink of abyss
Banner under which the EU has marched forward has two short words inscribed on it: ‘or else’
EU 'Tower of Babel' 330 x 467Irish Times, Feb 21, 2016 – What can be said for the European Union is that it allowed its most powerful member states to imagine for themselves a post-imperial place in the world. With the exception of little Luxembourg, all the founding states of the EU were former colonial powers. They were joined over time by others: Portugal, Spain and, of course, the UK. The EU helped them to move, however incompletely, away from their imperial mindsets and helped Europe to get over its sense of itself as the centre of the universe.
All of these achievements were fuelled, not so much by idealism, as by fear. The banner under which the EU has marched forward has two short words inscribed on it: “or else”. The union’s 28 members must leave an empty seat at the table for a ghostly 29th: the abyss. The knowledge of how close the continent is to savagery and chaos is vital to the very existence of the union…. Maybe the British referendum will be the moment at which the EU begins to reconnect with its roots in the positive side of fear.
Federalists’ solution of fiscal union may be what’s needed to preserve European project long term
Now, more than ever, that ‘closer union’ means decisive steps toward political integration.
CNBC, Feb 22, 2016 – ….First, there is a radical approach advocated by EU “federalists.” That would involve a common fiscal policy managed by the euro area finance ministry – a supranational institution like the European Central Bank (ECB). That, of course, would involve a complete and formal transfer of sovereignty over important state functions because it would also necessitate harmonization of social and labor market legislations.

GCC flaggulf_cooperation_council_v20GCC:

Yemen will not be easily persuaded to join the GCC
The National (Abu Dhabi, UAE), Feb 21, 2016 – Almost forgotten amid the hope of Yemen’s Arab Spring and later collapse into chaos and war was the plan that Yemen should have joined the Gulf Cooperation Council by now…. Yemen’s population of 26 million is more than the population of all the GCC countries combined (excluding expatriates)…. If integration reduced or removed barriers to business, GCC companies could base themselves in Yemen and benefit from much lower manufacturing costs. The real clincher, however, is security.
“The plan” for Yemen integration into the GCC is identical to the so-called “free trade” plan for Mexico, the US and Canada within an open-border NAFTA region.

AU-FlagEAC - MAPAFRICAN UNION – EAC:
Regional presidents to unveil electronic passport for EAC
Meeting to Include Action Plan for EAC Political Federation
The Guardian (IPP Media, Tanzania), Feb 17, 2016 – The East African Community (EAC) heads of state will next week unveil the new International East African e-passport. The long-awaited New Generation e-East African Passport will be a major milestone towards achieving harmonisation in the region…. The meeting will also consider Council reports on the model, structure and action plan of the EAC Political Federation….

ASEAN FlagASEAN map_1ASEAN & REGIONAL ORDER:
Asean a collective security organization?
U.N. Vision: Global System with Regional Defense Organizations:
Manila Times, Feb 19, 2016 – Although its name gives no hint of it, Asean was envisioned to have an exclusively economic orientation. The world however woke up to its immense potentials as a regional body for its work in the political and security area, for the critical role it played in resolving the Kampuchean crisis…. But Asean leaders at their first Summit in Bali in 1976 overruled Asean becoming a collective defense organization…. Actually, the original vision of the United Nations for world peace consists of a global collective defense system supported by regional collective defense organizations.
Obama, ASEAN discuss South China Sea tensions, but no joint mention of China
Reuters, Feb 16, 2016 – U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he and leaders of Southeast Asian countries discussed the need to ease tensions in the South China Sea, and agreed that any territorial disputes there should be resolved peacefully and through legal means. But a joint statement agreed on after a two-day summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at the Sunnylands retreat in California did not include the specific mentions Washington had been seeking regarding China and its assertive pursuit of territory in the South China Sea. Obama told a news conference that leaders at the meeting reaffirmed “our strong commitment to a regional order where international rules and norms and the rights of all nations, large and small, are upheld.” World Regions wGray Map

THE NEW MERCANTILISM: Region-Building & ‘Collective Defense’
Russian premier: ‘We have slid into … a new Cold War’
Los Angeles Times, Feb 13, 2016 – Relations between Russia and the West have been in a downward spiral since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and support of hostilities in eastern Ukraine, which prompted a series of crippling economic sanctions against Russia….
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg …. added that NATO “is undertaking the biggest reinforcement of our collective defense in decades, to send a powerful signal to deter any aggression or intimidation….
The sanctions, along with plummeting oil prices, sent the Russian economy into a recession, exacerbated by corruption and increased military spending. However, a massive anti-Western campaign in the Kremlin-controlled media had kept Putin’s approval ratings well above 80%.
The Ukraine crisis signals the beginning of Henry Kissinger’s “new mercantilism” of “competing regional units.” As was typical of historic mercantilism, media reports within both sides of today’s Ukraine crisis acknowledge that antagonism from the other region is useful in the deeper integration of their own regional bloc. Here are some examples:
WESTERN SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA MAY BOOST EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION – RT (Russia Today), March 20, 2014 – – “What would then happen is that the Eurasian Economic Union would accelerate in scale very rapidly.”
THANK YOU, MR PUTIN – DW (Deutsche Welle, Germany), March 21, 2014 – – “With your annexation of the Crimea you have thrown a much-needed lifeline to…European integration…”
VLADIMIR PUTIN: HERO OF THE EUROPEAN UNION – Breitbart London, March 14, 2014 – “Vladimir Putin’s adventurism in the Ukraine has had a strange side effect: it may well have prolonged the life of his chief rival and antagonist – the European Union…”

EU-flagEU - Schengen AreaEUROPEAN UNION:
European Union says functioning borderless area ‘is at serious risk’
Malta Independent, Feb 12, 2016 – The European Union is acknowledging that the overall functioning of the Schengen area of borderless travel “is at serious risk” and says Greece must make further efforts to deal with the migrant crisis at its source.
The EU nations said in a statement that there are “serious deficiencies” to how Greece is protecting its border, which also is an external border of the whole Schengen zone of passport-free travel….

ASEAN FlagASEAN:
The ASEAN Economic Community: Investment Opportunities and Challenges in the World’s Newest Market
ASEAN map_1Lexology, Feb 11, 2016 – On January 1, 2016, the world’s seventh largest economy, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (“ASEAN”), inaugurated the ASEAN Economic Community (“AEC”). The AEC aims to create a single market and production base for the free flow of goods, services, investment, capital, and skilled labor within ASEAN….
Comparisons between ASEAN and the European Union (“EU”) are frequent but probably, at best, premature. For instance, whereas the EU has focused on fuller integration, with a continent-wide currency and visa-free travel, ASEAN has focused on issues such as regional peace and economic development….
As intra-ASEAN collaboration increases, the AEC will start to realize goals of unifying the region’s production base, particularly with policies such as free movement of goods and services and the elimination of cross-border tariffs. China’s increasing labor costs and economic slowdown may make the AEC region increasingly attractive to potential investors.
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Asean, Obama to ink cooperation pact
Bangkok Post, Feb 10, 2016 – Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and US president Barack Obama will jointly endorse guidelines to enhance cooperation in the first stand-alone US-Asean Summit at California’s Rancho Mirage next week, says government spokesman Werachon Sukhondhapatipak.

EU-flagEU 'Tower of Babel'EUROPEAN UNION:
EU is a complete democracy-free zone: Varoufakis
The Indian Express, Feb 9, 2016 – Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis spoke at a debate panel in Berlin, Monday, on the European Union’s need for reforms, ahead of leaunching his own left-wing, pan-European political movement.
Varoufakis accused the European Union (EU) of being a “complete democracy-free zone” as “there is no sovereignty.” He added that despite the national representatives being elected, “the body that makes the decisions is not answerable to anyone,” adding that “no one can fire it. No one can fire the European Union Council.”

GCC flaggulf_cooperation_council_v20GCC:
Bahrain Inaugurates Joint GCC Naval Center
Kuwait News Agency, Feb 4, 2016 – Bahraini Minister of Defense Major-General Yusuf bin Ahmed bin Hussain Al Jalahma said in a statement at the ceremony that establishment of the naval center in this sensitive region of the world will enable the GCC countries realize further military and defense integration.

ASEAN FlagASEAN:

Is It Time for a Peacekeeping Force for ASEAN?
ASEAN map_1Asia Foundation, Feb 3, 2016 – This decade marks a radical shift in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states’ attitudes toward its role in the region…. Malaysia has u-turned and is currently rallying member states to adopt a regional force. Countries that previously opposed or expressed reservations to such a force are now supporting it. Changing policies to international peacekeeping have been most visible in Vietnam, which amended its constitutional ban in 2014 on deploying armed forces for UN peacekeeping missions.



Eurasec FlagEurasianEconomicUnionEURASIAN UNION:

Central Asia between the US, Russia, China and Iran
Iran Considers Joining Eurasian Economic Union
Vestnik Kavkaza (Russia), Feb 3, 2016 – Tehran is considering an opportunity for joining the Eurasian Economic Union, Ali Najaf Hoshrudi, the Ambassador of Iran to Kyrgyzstan, said. According to the Iranian diplomat, Iran is negotiating on cooperation with the EAEU…. Such developments seem quite realistic, considering views by experts who say that the US is gradually leaving Central Asia.

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