Posts Tagged ‘Steve Bannon’

Farage: Bannon plan could help populists to EU election victory

July 29, 2018

Ex-Ukip leader predicts sweeping advances for anti-EU parties in March 2019

 Former White House strategist Steve Bannon. Photograph: Moritz Hager/Reuters

The intervention of former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon in European politics could help rightwing parties become the biggest bloc in the European parliament next year, according to Nigel Farage.

The former Ukip leader predicted sweeping advances for anti-EU parties during next May’s European elections, aided by the new project announced by Bannon . Bannon, one of the architects of Donald Trump’s US election triumph in 2016 and the former head of the rightwing Breitbart News, aims to establish a pan-European populist foundation .

Farage told the Observer that, Eurosceptics could become the largest political grouping on the continent and predicted that anti-EU MEPs could secure between 176 and 235 seats in the European parliament elections next May. “My view is that somewhere between a quarter and a third of seats in the European parliament are going to be Eurosceptic and Euro-critical,” he said.

“You could – and it might not happen for all sorts of cultural and left/right political reasons – have a Euro-critical group that is the second biggest in parliament. With a bit of luck and a following wind it could even be the biggest,” Farage added.

Bannon’s foundation, called The Movement, will be based in Brussels and dedicated to campaigning aggressively for a large, anti-EU faction in the European elections next spring. Bannon said last week he had already started raising funds amid speculation that former English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, currently in jail, might be offered a leading role in its UK wing.

Robinson, whose imprisonment has made him a cause célèbre among the international far-right, could be released this week following his appeal against a 13-month sentence for contempt of court in May.

Farage also revealed that Bannon wanted to offer a rightwing antidote to the centre-right European People’s party (EPP), currently the largest party in the European parliament, and the European Socialists (PES), a social-democratic political grouping that includes the British Labour party, the Italian Democratic party and French Socialist party.

“You’ve got two groups across Europe who are very highly co-ordinated at what they do at elections. This is an attempt to get Eurosceptics to do the same thing,” said Farage.

He added: “The mood for change is very strong. Even though Britain is floundering with Brexit, across the rest of Europe, the Eurosceptics are on the march. Euro-critical and Eurosceptic movements are advancing at a very rapid pace everywhere.”

It has since been claimed that Bannon is also forging links with leading Brexiters, including Boris Johnson, who resigned as foreign secretary this month, environment secretary Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the European Research Group, the hard Brexit wing of the Conservative party. All three are potential rivals to the prime minister and Bannon believes all of them could help deliver his ambition to undermine and eventually paralyse the EU.

However Robert Ford, professor of political science at the University of Manchester and co-author of Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain, was unconvinced that Bannon could dramatically shape Europe’s political landscape.

“I think shares in Bannon are overvalued. This idea that he’s going to become this pan-national Dr Evil figure producing this big radical right alignment … there are some big barriers to entry. Influence in the US doesn’t really translate to influence in Europe.”

A survey of national opinion polls released by Reuters found that Eurosceptic parties could expand their strength in the European parliament by more than 60% at next May’s elections. It predicted that numbers of Eurosceptic MEPs after next May’s elections would rise to 122 of the 705 available seats.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/29/farage-bannon-populists-eu-election?CMP=share_btn_fb

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2018 midterm elections set to be most expensive in history

July 29, 2018

The upcoming midterm elections will be the most expensive in U.S. history, with $1 billion in TV ads already booked or aired.

With the Republicans holding narrow majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the parties are locked in close combat, three months ahead of Election Day.

“This is President Donald Trump’s first re-elect,” former White House strategist Steve Bannon told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Friday. “This is gonna be an up or down vote. It’s a referendum on the Trump presidency.”

At least $170 million has been spent on television spots for Senate primaries, The Hill reported Saturday. Democrats and the GOP have reserved $230 million worth of ads in states like Nevada, where GOP Sen. Dean Heller could lose his seat to a Democratic challenger, and Missouri, where Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, is trying to hold on to constituents who voted for President Trump by a 19-point margin.

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With a solid chance of winning back the House in November, Democrats have committed $135 million in ads for the party’s candidates, while the defending Republicans plan to spend at least $146 million.

Heated primary fights in states like California drove up spending on gubernatorial races, with $250 million already spent on media buys. At least $90 million worth of ads have been booked for governors’ races in the coming weeks.

All told, that’s a staggering $1.02 billion on TV advertising alone. Add in costs for staff, polling, field offices and fund-raising, says the Center for Responsive Politics, and the total spent on the major races this cycle balloons to $1.6 billion.

Currently, the GOP has a large funding advantage over the Democratic Party.

And President Trump says he will fork over plenty of political capital to help Republicans hold on to Congress.

“I am going to work very hard, I will go six or seven days a week when we’re 60 days out,” he said Friday.

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https://nypost.com/2018/07/28/2018-midterm-elections-set-to-be-most-expensive-in-history/

Hungarian PM welcomes Bannon’s anti-EU project as ‘diversity’ in thinking — “It isn’t EU elite thinking”

July 27, 2018

Hungary’s right-wing prime minister Viktor Orban on Friday welcomed the idea of Steve Bannon’s new anti-European Union group, The Movement, saying it was time that someone from the United States came to Europe to spread conservative thinking instead of liberal values.

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FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

The Brussels-based group, which Bannon – U.S. President Donald Trump’s former strategist – has chosen as a platform, aims to help like-minded nationalist, anti-immigration groups across Europe. Bannon told Reuters the objective was to boost the anti-EU presence in the European Parliament at May elections next year.

The founder of the group told Reuters he could also see six or seven leaders, notably from Italy and central Europe, joining forces to sway the European Council of national governments.

Orban did not openly say he would team up with Bannon’s group or back his platform, but that he “wished a lot of success” to Bannon’s project.

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Steve Bannon, who left the White House last year

“America is made up of not only liberals,” Orban told state radio.

“We are here, as well, an American has said, those who are conservative … and even Christian democrats … why couldn’t we have our voice heard in Europe as well? And a man who thinks this way came over here, who was a special advisor to the U.S. president.”

Orban said Bannon, who was sacked by Trump last year, realized that there was room to spread conservative values in Europe, and this was a positive thing as it has brought “diversity” allowing Europeans to see a conservative face of America. Orban did not go into further details.

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Bannon was in Hungary at the end of May, speaking at a conference in Budapest, and he also met Orban.

Orban has been a strong opponent of the EU’s migration policies, and built a fence on Hungary’s southern borders in 2015 to keep out migrants, saying protecting the EU’s external borders was the only way to preserve Christian values.

Orban was reelected for a third consecutive term in April on a strong anti-immigration platform, and his Fidesz party firmly leads opinion polls ahead of May’s European parliamentary elections.

Fidesz has also demonized Hungarian-born U.S. billionaire George Soros and the liberal NGOs he backs, and has passed laws to narrow the scope of activity of civil groups that are accused of helping illegal migration.

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George Soros

Orban accuses Soros of encouraging mass immigration to undermine Europe, a charge he denies.

Orban has led eastern European opposition to EU quotas that aim to distribute asylum seekers around the bloc, criticizing the open-door policy that German Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed at the height of the European migrant crisis in 2015.

Reuters

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Andrew Bolton

Steve Bannon’s influence endures in the Trump White House — Man Behind Trump’s “New World Order”?

July 25, 2018

Do not mistake the administration’s organisational chaos for ideological incoherence

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Steve Bannon, who left the White House last year, could have scripted Donald Trump’s bellicose tweet about Iran © Reuters

By Janan Ganesh

There are limits to Steve Bannon’s suspicion of trade. He does not oppose the export of his own talent. The former adviser to President Donald Trump is founding a Brussels-based group called The Movement to nurture European populists. Liberals hope it is a futile stab at relevance by a man who has fallen out with the White House and the Breitbart News Network.

The trouble is, after the first of those ruptures almost a year ago, they entertained a similar hope. With the Trump whisperer out of the way, moderates would steer the administration. Economic policy would revert to Chamber of Commerce orthodoxies. Generals would run a respectable foreign policy. The president would call off the culture war. The defeat of a Bannon-backed Senate candidate in Alabama seemed to mark the passing of his influence.

Still his rumpled silhouette stalks American politics. In its substance, this is a Bannonite government. More Bannonite, in fact, than when he was a part of it. He could have scripted Mr Trump’s bellicose tweet about Iran or designed his subsidies for American farmers, to take this week’s events alone. It is hard to think of a presidential act in recent months that would not have had his old adviser cooing from a distance.

Why the residual influence? In any contest to sway Mr Trump, the ultimate advantage is clarity. He wants a programme for government and Mr Bannon’s remains the clearest at hand. By their nature, moderates tend not to go in for panoramic manifestos. For a president so impatient with nuance and half-measures, the size of their ideas, not just the content of them, was never going to be satisfying.

Do not mistake the government’s organisational chaos for ideological incoherence. At this stage of a normal administration, newspaper columns of the “What does it all mean?” sort start to proliferate. Some presidents, such as Bill Clinton, retire with observers still trying to divine a theme to eight years of policies. With Mr Trump, there is no doubt about the theme — nationalism— and there should be no doubt about its ultimate author. While Mr Bannon was in the White House, the drama that surrounded him got in the way of his ideas. They now stand on their own terms. Against wiser but less emphatic alternatives, they prevail.

His presence also gave the administration’s moderates a figure on whom to focus their dissent, while remaining loyal to the president. Without him, they can only advance their cause by confronting Mr Trump. Few have the stomach for it. By absenting himself, Mr Bannon has perversely strengthened his cause within the government.

Consciously or not, the president may also equate Bannonism with success. Two years ago, Brexit and Mr Trump were losing propositions until late on. The Brexit campaign suddenly majored on immigration, and won. Mr Trump’s deliverance was different. As well as the intervention of the FBI, which reopened its inquiry into his rival’s emails, there was Mr Bannon, who focused an inchoate campaign on economic nationalism. The difference is that Eurosceptics hide from the nature of their victory. They pretend that Britain is full of Walter Raleighs eager to explore the world and its commercial opportunities. Mr Trump remembers very well how he won. This is why a president who could ride the purring economy to the midterm elections and beyond chooses to distract from it with cultural and geopolitical provocations. Having won as a nationalist, he hopes to do so again.

Of course, it is possible that Mr Trump would have governed just the same had he never met Mr Bannon. His life-long idée fixe — that every exchange creates a winner and a loser — is the germ of economic nationalism. But you have to squint very hard to see much coherence in his previous life as a semi-political celebrity. It was with Mr Bannon that he sculpted his various impulses into a platform of devastating clarity.

Europeans should beware, then, as Mr Bannon sets up shop in their capital. Yes, he is prone to the Anglo-American right’s signature error: the underestimation of support for the EU on the continent, where even nationalists tend to prize membership. He has said that Europe is a year or so ahead of the US in its populist momentum, which reveals an ideologue’s view of history as uni-directional. Reality is messier than that.

But this is not a last shot at relevance. It is the expansion of his all too considerable relevance. Upon Mr Bannon’s exit from the White House, the government should have reverted to common-or-garden Republicanism or outright incoherence. Instead, it wears his stamp now more than ever.

janan.ganesh@ft.com

https://www.ft.com/content/f8521b14-8f66-11e8-bb8f-a6a2f7bca546

Related:

Henry Kissinger on Donald Trump:

‘I think Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretenses.’

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https://johnib.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/trump-rips-canada-and-nato-in-tweets-from-singapore-fair-trade-is-now-to-be-called-fool-trade-if-it-is-not-reciprocal-new-world-order/
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 (Trump made a deal on ZTE at the personal request of Xi Jinping)

Peace and Freedom Note: Donald Trump wants a “New World Order” which includes a totally new way of looking at China, free and fair trade without tariffs (“tariff-free trade”) or government support to businesses, strong rights of nations to decide for themselves without joining international bodies like the EU, and a new balance between liberal ideology and free and fair media reporting and government. He wants to end the very expensive post-World War II “norm” of a stand-off in Europe between Russia and the West. He wants a future of jobs and manufacturing in the U.S.

Donald Trump believes the United States is a friend of Israel and Saudi Arabia.

That puts Iran on the other side.

Trump doesn’t want the U.S. to be the world’s piggy bank. He in not likely to roll over and play dead.

China wants to dominate global trade, manufacturing and technology; according to Made in China 2025. What China cannot create in technology it has no qualms about stealing.

Donald Trump believes China’s behavior needs to change.

Related:

Trump Winnows Down Supreme Court Picks, Focusing on Three

July 5, 2018

Front-runners are appeals court judges Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan and Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana

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President Donald Trump’s search for a Supreme Court justice to succeed Anthony Kennedy is focusing on a trio of federal judges, with a decision expected this week in anticipation of an announcement on Monday, people familiar with the search said.

Following a brisk round of interviews Monday and Tuesday, the three front-runners at this late stage in the president’s search are all U.S. appeals court judges: Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland, of the D.C. Circuit; Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, of the Sixth Circuit; and Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, of the Seventh Circuit.

Mr. Trump, who spent part of the Fourth of July holiday at his golf club in northern Virginia, has been taking advice from lawmakers and trusted confidants as he settles on a nominee who could set a new direction for a high court split between conservative and liberal factions that have dueled for years.

Since Justice Kennedy was often a swing vote, Mr. Trump’s selection could tip the balance when it comes to some of the most divisive issues the court faces: abortion rights, health care and the limits of executive power, among them.

Advisers in recent days have called Mr. Trump to talk up the merits of different candidates.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), one of Mr. Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, spoke to the president earlier in the week and gave a frank assessment of the strengths and drawbacks of different candidates, said an aide to the senator, who added that Mr. Cotton wasn’t promoting any one person.

Others have called the Republican president to promote federal appeals court judge Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, reminding Mr. Trump that he has a compelling life story as a onetime taxi driver.

In conversations, Mr. Trump has been asking advisers to rate the merits of different candidates and to explain how outside constituency groups might line up in the confirmation fight.

A central tension is whether to base the selection primarily on a dispassionate review of judicial records and written rulings, or on a candidate’s biography and the personal chemistry Mr. Trump feels during the interviews, people close to the White House said.

Some want to see the president follow the model used in picking Neil Gorsuch for the court in 2017, a process that leaned heavily on judicial writings in the belief that is the best way to predict a judge’s behavior on the bench.

“I think President Trump is conducting a search built on the principles he established during his first Supreme Court selection—written opinions and the thinking behind them matter most. Past Republican presidents focused on biography and interviews,” said Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist.

The search process is being run by White House counsel Don McGahn, who has been advising the president on the candidates’ judicial record and vetting their qualifications. Mr. Trump likes sparkling resumes, but also values candidates who project self-confidence and don’t appear “weak,” as one person close to the selection process said.

Mr. Trump spoke by phone Tuesday to at least two potential nominees, a person familiar with the matter said: Judge Hardiman and Judge Joan Larsen of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

That follows a round of interviews on Monday with federal judges Barrett, Kavanaugh and Kethledge and Judge Amul Thapar of the Sixth Circuit, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump is believed to have enjoyed his meeting with Judge Kavanaugh, a former clerk of Justice Kennedy. Another fan of Judge Kavanaugh is Mr. McGahn, a person close to the White House said.

Mr. McGahn has made the argument that Judge Kavanaugh’s long record of judicial rulings makes him a known quantity, this person said. Other people close to the White House have said that the president and Mr. McGahn worry that a nominee who lacks such a record may turn out to be more malleable once he or she reaches the court.

But Judge Kavanaugh’s candidacy has drawbacks. One of his allies is Karl Rove, who served as an adviser to former President George W. Bush and during the 2016 campaign called Mr. Trump “a complete idiot.”

Mr. Trump also enjoyed his interview with Judge Kethledge and felt the two “hit it off,” a person close to the White House said.

Judge Barrett, a former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia who spent most of her career as an academic at Notre Dame Law School, is seen by some allies of the president as looking the part of a modern Supreme Court justice. She is a mother of seven who juggled her family and career and was the focus of scrutiny for her Catholic faith during her confirmation hearing last year for the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit.

Mr. Trump also spoke on Monday to Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican on the White House’s long list of 25 candidates for the post who has expressed enthusiasm for the job. People close to the search believe Mr. Lee’s chances are slim.

With the president planning to announce his choice with celebratory fanfare Monday, it is unlikely there will be follow-up interviews with the contenders, said one person close to the process. Mr. Trump instead is expected to replay the advantages of each candidate with Mr. McGahn and other advisers before throwing his lot with one, this person said.

One consideration: The president considers it important to stoke excitement among conservatives. “He’s going to make sure there’s a ‘wow’ factor right out of the gate, and he’s going to make sure that the movement is going to rally around whoever it is—or at least not shoot at whoever it is,” this person said.

The vacancy created by Justice Kennedy’s retirement is a chance for Mr. Trump to put a lasting imprint on the high court. But first he will need to steer the nominee to confirmation in a Senate where Republicans hold 51 of 100 seats; also, one Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, is frequently absent because of illness.

Several GOP senators have bucked their party in the past, including Susan Collins of Maine, who on Tuesday became the focus of an advertising campaign by Naral Pro-Choice America, trying to persuade her to reject any candidate who doesn’t share her belief that the court should maintain broad support for abortion rights.

Mr. Trump has been courting a trio of Democratic senators in states he won in 2016— Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Democrats, meanwhile, are hoping to peel off Ms. Collins in particular, as well as Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another centrist Republican who supports abortion rights.

Write to Peter Nicholas at peter.nicholas@wsj.com and Louise Radnofsky at louise.radnofsky@wsj.com

Appeared in the July 5, 2018, print edition as ‘Trump Winnows Down Justice Picks.’

Donald Trump and the 1930s playbook: liberal democracy comes unstuck

June 23, 2018

Trade wars and the targeting of minority groups in the US and some EU countries have strong historical echoes

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Edward Luce in Washington 

“I really don’t care. Do u?” said graffiti on the back of Melania Trump’s coat as she boarded the plane for Texas to visit encaged child migrants. No one, except Donald Trump, who tweeted that her garb was meant as a criticism of the “fake news” media, could be sure whom the First Lady was targeting. Some thought she was channelling her husband’s views. Others believed she was telling the world what she thought of her marriage. Either way, it captured the nihilism of a week in which the west’s liberal democratic glue appeared to be coming unstuck. It was hard to miss the echoes of the 1930s.

“Make no mistake, there is a concerted attack on the constitutional liberal order,” says Constanze Stelzenmüller, a German scholar at the Brookings Institution. “And it is being spearheaded by the president of the United States.”

Mr Trump started the week by trying to undermine a key American ally. He attacked Angela Merkel’s “tenuous” coalition government in Germany for “allowing in millions of people who have so strongly and violently changed their culture”. It followed a summit between the premiers of Austria and Bavaria in which they called for an “axis of the willing from Berlin to Vienna to Rome” to stop migration. Italy’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, called for a “census” of Roma citizens evoking Italy’s fascist-era registry of Jews. “Unfortunately, we have to keep” those with valid resident permits, he said.

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First Lady Melania Trump helped reverse the president’s child-separation migrant policy © AP


Back in Washington, public outrage forced Mr Trump to pause his policy of corralling “tender age” migrants into separate child detention centres. He nevertheless ordered the Pentagon to prepare camps to house up to 20,000 children. Last weekend Mr Trump called Hungary’s proudly “illiberal” Viktor Orban to issue a joint call for “strong national borders”.

The differences with the 1930s are obvious. No one expects war to break out today. There is no Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany nor fascist Italy egging each other on to plunder the old order. Nor is the US standing aloof. But the parallels are too troubling to ignore. In Europe, the forces of disintegration are on the march. The status quo is struggling to come up with a defence.

Only in France, where Emmanuel Macron is firmly in charge, does populism seem contained. But France’s president and Germany’s embattled chancellor may not be enough to shore up an order that America’s president is actively trying to undermine. This week, a frustrated Mr Macron channelled his inner Melania Trump with the statement: “They [the populists] are saying the most provocative things and no one, no one, is outraged,” he said. “We are getting used to all kinds of extremism from countries that a few years ago were just as pro-European as we are.”

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Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban was described by Steve Bannon as ‘the original Trump’ © AFP


The coming days could prove equally vertiginous. Next week Ms Merkel will attempt to keep her coalition together by asking her counterparts to agree to a common EU quota allocation system for migrants. Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s prime minister, has already dismissed her initial proposals. Horst Seehofer, the interior minister and former Bavarian premier whose Christian Social Union party is in coalition with Ms Merkel, wants to turn migrants back at the German border — just as Austria and Hungary have been doing for years.

Should she fail, Mr Seehofer, whose party faces a regional election in October in which the far-right Alternative for Germany threatens to make inroads, might pull the plug on her coalition. Germany might have to hold fresh elections. Europe’s Schengen system of free movement could unravel. The fact that America’s president is doing his best to help that along is a shock to Berlin.

“We have never seen a US president egg on the undemocratic forces among our closest allies,” says Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA. “Trump sees that Merkel is down. And he is trying to finish her off.”

A few days after next week’s EU summit, Mr Trump arrives in Europe for the annual summit of Nato — a body that he famously disdains. This week the White House confirmed that Mr Trump was planning a separate meeting with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president and Nato’s consistent ill-wisher, either before or after the Nato meeting. One option, which has been put forward by Austria’s far-right chancellor Sebastian Kurz, would be to host it in Vienna before Nato meets. Another is to schedule it in Helsinki after the Nato summit.

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Immigrant children are housed in a tent encampment under President Donald Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy © Reuters


The first would be particularly provocative to America’s allies. “It is bad enough that the Putin-Trump meeting is happening at all — but it must not take place in Vienna,” says Ms Stelzenmüller. “The echoes are too ominous.”

At the same time, Mr Trump looks poised to escalate what looks like his best imitation of inter-war trade policy. In 1930, the US Congress passed the famous Smoot-Hawley act which imposed steep tariffs on America’s trading partners. It opened the way for trade wars that fuelled the rise of European fascism. Mr Trump is also slapping tariffs on America’s allies, from Canada to Japan. He reserves a particular animus for Germany, which holds the second largest trade surplus with the US after China. At the G7 summit in Canada earlier this month, Mr Trump insisted on removing the phrase “rules-based international order” from the communiqué. He then withdrew America’s signature after his trade actions were criticised by Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau. With the exception of Italy, which is moving rapidly into Mr Trump’s orbit, the other G7 partners have vowed to take retaliatory actions. Many fear the situation could spiral out of control.

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Italy’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, has called for a ‘census’ of Roma citizens. The move evokes Italy’s fascist-era registry of Jews © Alamy


Whether it is liberal democracy, the world trading system or the western alliance itself, no one can say with confidence the global order will stay intact. “The 1930s will not happen again in the same way — we are not at that point yet,” says Robert Kagan, a conservative Washington commentator, whose next book has the title The Jungle Grows Back. “But people forget that the post-second world war order has been an aberration. It relied on America to keep it together. Under Trump, we are returning to a world of multipolar competition. That is a very different and more dangerous world to the one we grew up in.”

The 1930s keep pressing their relevance. Mr Trump’s efforts — and those of European populists — to defeat integration borrow many of the tactics of that notorious decade. The 1930s playbook involved scapegoating minorities for crimes they did not commit. Mr Trump says the same of Hispanics. On Tuesday, he said the Democrats would allow illegal immigrants to “infest our country”. By Thursday, he was accusing them of creating “a massive child smuggling network” and of sponsoring an “extreme open border” policy. Data show that areas of concentrated immigration in the US have lower crime rates than the average.

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Alliance: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, right, and Bavarian premier Markus Söder


Mr Trump’s attacks on the “lying media” for pointing this out have strong echoes of Adolf Hitler’s demonisation of the “lugenpresse” — the lying press. The same applies to Mr Trump’s claim that “crime in Germany is way up”. In fact it has fallen to historic lows. Ms Merkel’s government waited a day before quietly correcting him. But Mr Trump seems determined to stick to his narrative.

Last month, Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, said his job was to “empower” populists across Europe. Steve Bannon, Mr Trump’s former chief strategist, who remains in regular contact with the president, recently met leaders of Germany’s AfD. He was in Rome earlier this year to celebrate the victory of populist forces in its election. Mr Bannon is a particular fan of Mr Salvini, whom he sees as one of Mr Trump’s closest allies in Europe. He describes Hungary’s Mr Orban as the “original Trump”.

On Thursday, Mr Salvini threatened to remove police protection for Roberto Saviano, the anti-mafia author of the Gomorrah series, after Mr Saviano criticised Mr Salvini’s stance on immigration. It was taken as a sign that Mr Salvini is prepared to target opponents. “We are really living through an attack on representative democracy, the liberal order, and the constitution,” says Emma Bonino, a senator and veteran civil rights campaigner. “It’s all about the dictatorship of the majority.”

Is the west’s disintegration now likelier than not? That is hard to say. But the dynamics are going in the wrong direction. The late economist Rudi Dornbusch once said: “In economics, things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.”

In liberal democracy, we may now be entering the second half of Dornbusch’s dictum. Events are moving fast. But history rarely repeats itself. Public disgust forced Mr Trump to modify an inhumane child detention policy. Unlike in the 1930s, there is still a global order to defend. “One of the reasons I keep blowing the whistle so loudly is that I don’t think Americans — or others — realise how deeply our way of life is under threat,” says Mr Hayden. “If we wake up to what is happening, we are still capable of mounting a successful defence.”

Additional reporting by James Politi in Rome

https://www.ft.com/content/75319cee-761d-11e8-b326-75a27d27ea5f

Inside The Trump-Backed Campaign To Push Angela Merkel Out Of Power

June 22, 2018
The president, his allies and U.S. government officials are offering public and private support to anti-immigrant politicians hoping to topple Merkel by July 1.

President Donald Trump’s attacks on Twitter against German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week provided the clearest evidence yet of a sprawling American campaign to undermine her. While Trump’s disdain for Merkel has been evident since the early days of his presidential run, he and his ideological allies have ramped up their efforts dramatically just as the German leader faces what experts call one of her most serious challenges yet: developing a Europe-wide policy on asylum seekers by July 1 to appease a crucial right-wing partner in her coalition government.

Merkel now has to contend with not only local opponents but also a network of influential anti-immigrant Americans and other international activists inspired by Trump and similar illiberal leaders, like Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

They’re determined to punish the chancellor for welcoming more than a million desperate refugees seeking shelter in Europe since 2015 ― and ultimately want to prove that compassion toward immigrants is now political suicide in the West.

“The leaders of the two biggest nations in Europe are increasingly besieged,” said Gerald Knaus of the European Stability Initiative, referring to Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. “And both of the big outside powers, the U.S. and Russia, are on the side of those who besiege them.”

The key players are hard to identify, but their number includes the president himself, national security adviser John Bolton, former White House aide and ongoing Trump defender Steve Bannon and powerful Trump whisperer Stephen Miller, who attacked Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign by calling her “America’s Merkel.”

Proof of their work trickles out in bits and pieces. A month before the president’s Monday tweet suggesting Germans are fed up with Merkel’s “already tenuous” coalition, his ambassador in Berlin, Republican operative Richard Grenell, had dinner with a hard-line and rebellious member of Merkel’s party, health minister Jens Spahn. Spahn wants Merkel’s job, and after his husband posted the image on Twitter, it drew attention and “as much astonishment as derision” in pro-Merkel Facebook groups, King’s College London lecturer Alexander Clarkson told HuffPost.

German distrust of Grenell grew just weeks later when he told Breitbart he wanted to “empower” hard-right activists around Europe who were dissatisfied with their countries’ political leaders. “Many in Germany and across Europe understandably perceived his comments as interfering in domestic politics,” nine U.S. senators argued in a June 12 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Grenell next announced plans to host the stridently anti-immigrant Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz for lunch on June 13. He had described the leader to Breitbart as a “rock star.” The U.S. embassy ultimately said the meal was canceled for scheduling reasons ― but Grenell’s endorsement was common knowledge once Kurz was in town. The Austrian used his time in Berlin to hold a joint press conference with German interior minister Horst Seehofer, where he called for European leaders to unite against immigrants. Hours later, Seehofer told Merkel he would not budge on plans to enforce a hard border around Germany ― violating a fundamental principle of the European Union ― by turning away asylum seekers registered in other European countries. His stubbornness escalated a dayslong dispute and magnified the risk that Merkel’s government would collapse.

Seehofer’s party, the conservative Christian Social Union, has spent decades aligned with Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union. His move threatened to tear the two apart or leave Merkel looking like a lame duck for the sake of boosting the CSU’s support among anti-immigrant voters ahead of October regional elections. It took days of negotiations and Merkel supporters rallying for Seehofer to agree to hold off and let Merkel try to address concerns about Germany taking more than its fair share of refugees.

The chancellor says she acknowledges the problem but wants an EU response, not an individual German one. She now needs to use a June 28-29 summit to convince 27 fellow European leaders to adopt a new joint policy on legally admitted asylum seekers who are registered in one country (usually those in the south and east, like Italy) and attempting to move to others.

But Merkel is working amid an international barrage of criticism and wildly exaggerated claims about the way her leadership has allowed refugees and migrants to threaten Europeans.

Popular conservative websites, from Breitbart to The Daily Signal, frequently run dramatic headlines about “open borders” supposedly causing murders and rampages. They know what they’re doing, playing up offenses against natives even though many asylum-seeker crimes are against other vulnerable migrants, and avoiding similar coverage of crime by native Germans or context about the falling number of crimes ― including violent offenses ― overall. In March, Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart, met with the race-baiting Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which won over 10 percent of the vote for the first time last year and wants to rally the public against immigration, often by peddling lies. The party wanted Bannon to help with its plan to establish its own 24-hour newsroom to have more sway on television and social media ― an attempt to mirror Bannon’s own U.S. success in making long-sidelined views seem more mainstream.

The AfD is not directly involved in the current crisis because it is not a member of Merkel’s coalition. But its determination to call the chancellor insufficiently tough on foreigners, and its potential electoral success in her coalition partner’s heartland, drove the split within the government. Polling suggests AfD views have gained traction since the fight broke out.

Supporters of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party stage a protest in Berlin with signs reading "Merkel Must Go," May 9, 2

FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS
Supporters of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party stage a protest in Berlin with signs reading “Merkel Must Go,” May 9, 2018.

Meanwhile, institutions in Washington that are closely involved with Trump’s domestic crackdown on immigration continue to disparage Merkel. The Center for Immigration Studies, for instance, recently published an article advising European officials to reject Merkel’s attempt to develop a better shared policy on asylum seekers. “Merkel is the very last person in Europe that leaders of those countries should trust to see to their interests in any fundamentally competent way,” wrote Dan Cadman, a former official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The American attention adds to pressure on Merkel from within the EU. Inspired by hard-line anti-immigrant leaders like Orban in Hungary, who explicitly stokes fears of an “Islamization” of the continent and who spoke with Trump just before his jabs at Merkel this week, right-wing movements are telling Europeans that Merkel is the embodiment of elite failure. They say she has fundamentally betrayed her people and her culture ― though, of course, they reject comparisons to the nativist “clash of civilizations”-style thinking that has fueled violence in Europe for centuries.

That framing makes the battle over Merkel’s political future far more dramatic for them than most people in Germany or the world might think, inspiring her opponents to try ever-greater hyperbole and action to bring her down. Presenting the German parliament as the battlefield on which the future of Europe ― and, really, of a white-dominated Europe ― will be decided, activists around the world are lobbing social media attacks, and their friends in power are crafting backroom deals with all the sway of the U.S. and several European governments on their side.

“One of the most important things… is the myth that it was Angela Merkel who opened the borders in September 2015,” said Knaus, the German analyst, noting that the chancellor did so after tens of thousands of asylum seekers were already in need and within European borders, receiving little support and sometimes being directly pushed toward Germany. “Anybody who doesn’t like Merkel rallies around this idea that it was simply her idea.”

Knaus believes Merkel and her defenders can point to the Germans’ pride in managing the influx of vulnerable people, as well as Merkel’s consistency on the importance of being humane and her success in crafting a deal with Turkey that sharply reduced migrant flows into Europe.

And Germans’ serious dislike for Trump could mean his meddling actually helps Merkel, who has smartly avoided the kind of war of words that might turn off voters, Knaus said.

Still, what the president and his supporters do matters ― at the very least in establishing a remarkable, and for many Europeans disturbing, precedent.

“Is Putin interfering trying [to] destabilize the politics of the EU? Yes. But Trump is at the moment far worse,” former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter earlier this week. “This is unheard of.”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/angela-merkel-donald-trump-immigration_us_5b2bbc25e4b00295f15a1d5d

Trump’s lack of strategic wisdom may spark an all-out economic war

June 21, 2018
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The urgent question for investors and diplomats alike is whether Donald Trump wants a trade deal with China, or whether his undeclared objective is geostrategic victory.

The dark view is that Trump is trying to provoke Beijing into tit-for-tat escalation in order to justify a pre-emptive assault on the Chinese technology-military complex before it is too late.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

The struggle is over control of artificial intelligence and the cutting-edge industries of the 21st century. As Trumpian ideologue Steve Bannon put it last year: “We’re at economic war with China. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years.”

Image result for donald Trump, Xi Jinping, photos
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An editorial in China Daily – the voice of the Communist Party – responds in kind. It accuses Trump of aiming to “suck the lifeblood from the Chinese economy” after he threatened to impose a trade embargo on China – and there is no other way to describe his talk of tariffs on the gamut of Chinese exports.

“Faced with this heightened intimidation, China has no choice but to fight back. Everyone is joined in opposition against the common enemy. Everyone is clear: China has been forced into battle,” it said.

The US has already issued a declaration of cold war. This year’s national security strategy report names China for the first time as a strategic rival that seeks to “challenge American power, influence and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity”.

Trump has purged the foreign policy “doves” in his circle and surrounded himself with ideologues bent on the containment. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week accused China of “predatory economics 101” and “unprecedented larceny”.

Pompeo is supposed to be the restraining influence over the fire-breathing duet: national security adviser John Bolton, who wants to send aircraft carriers to the Taiwan strait, and trade guru Peter Navarro, author of Death By China.

“There is a widespread feeling in Washington that China has gamed the system and if it is not brought to heel in short order, it will be too late,” said Scott Kennedy from the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

“They will discover that the Chinese are not going to come crawling on their knees. There is a very serious risk that this could halt $US1 trillion of economic activity,” he said.

‘The central villain’


There has been much talk of the “Thucydides trap”, derived from a line in the History of the Peloponnesian War suggesting that Sparta had to fight because it could not abide the rise of rival Athens. Ergo, the US might succumb to the same reflex and lash out at China. It is a confused theory. But it does focus thought on what can happen when a muscular arriviste disturbs a status quo equilibrium.

The great and the good of the Asia Society – no Trumpians they – issued a blistering report last year on China’s behaviour. They said the problem is not the rise of China “per se” but its behaviour since the ascendancy of Xi Jinping at the head of a military-mercantilist state with nationalist objectives.

Lorand Laskai from the US Council on Foreign Relations said Xi has pursued a policy of “civil military fusion” that subsumes private commerce. Beijing is not striving for a “win-win” in global trade but rather to displace rivals altogether. “In the saga of the US-China economic rivalry, Made in China 2025 is shaping up to be the central villain, the real existential threat to US technological leadership,” he said.

Wisdom has run short at the White House. Trump seems to want an economic war. He may get one.

This grand plan lists 10 strategic sectors from aerospace and robotics to electric vehicles, biopharma, new materials, G5 networks and IT, and ocean engineering. It aims to shut foreigners out of the Chinese market with “self-sufficiency” quotas of 70 per cent by 2025 (80 per cent for robots), in violation of world trade rules.

The plan was singled out for attack in the US trade office’s 200-page report on abuses by the Chinese state. It covers “cyber theft”, forced transfers of intellectual property by US firms in China, and the foreign buying spree to capture advanced technology.

Most countries have technology plans. Germany has its Industry 4.0 strategy and the US has its strategic plan for advanced manufacturing.

The difference is that Communist Party officials are lodged inside Chinese companies and the sums of money are huge. The drive is backed by a nexus of opaque subsidies and cheap credit from state banks.

Trump’s true intentions


The US trade report says China 2025 “calls on all facets of society to mobilise behind the plan”. It has a wartime structure.

Trump’s true intentions are anybody’s guess. He is a compulsive improviser. His penchant for brinkmanship is plain to behold. He has a childlike idée fixe on China’s $US375 billion trade surplus with the US. This is easily satisfied – if that is all he cares about. China can give him a “win” before the November mid-term elections.

It has already offered to switch its global purchases of oil, liquefied natural gas and farm goods to US suppliers instead.

“If you watch at the magician’s moving hands, not much is happening. It is mostly talk. I don’t think he is really itching for a full-scale trade war. He is going to come under enormous pressure from his billionaire friends,” said Kennedy from CSIS.

But let us suppose that Trump cleaves to his rhetoric and keeps escalating. China can retaliate by hitting US firms in the country, orchestrating a consumer boycott as it did with Japan over the Senkaku islands.

Deutsche Bank says US firms sell $US448 billion worth of goods and services in China through local subsidiaries, far greater than nominal exports of $US168 billion. On that metric, the trade war would be a draw.

But is that Trump’s metric? A chapter in Navarro’s book is called “Death by Corporate American Turncoat CEOs”. He relishes a conflict where US factories in Guangzhou become untenable. His goal is to force them to repatriate.

Trump is surrounded by advisers who think China is currently more vulnerable than it looks. They calculate that a well-aimed shock might expose the structural cracks in the edifice, and that this may be their last chance to act.

This is needlessly defeatist. China’s underlying growth rate has already dropped to near 4 per cent and may slide to 2 per cent by the early 2020s. The country will not overtake the US this century on such a trajectory. Soon its people will be old.

The wiser statecraft would be to combat China’s prickly behaviour in a surgical fashion and in league with allies. But wisdom has run short at the White House.

Trump seems to want an economic war. He may get one.

The Daily Telegraph, London

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/06/20/china-first-pursuit-hi-tech-hegemony-bound-provoke-america/

John Bolton: The Man We Love to Hate — Try to fathom John Bolton’s fiendish cruelty

April 2, 2018

Al Jazeera

 

Only by restoring to the realms of film, fiction, and myth we can try to fathom John Bolton’s fiendish cruelty.

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John Bolton: The man from the underground

You just have to see the toxic terror in the face, voice, and deranged ideas of this man to believe it, writes Dabashi [AP]
You just have to see the toxic terror in the face, voice, and deranged ideas of this man to believe it, writes Dabashi [AP]

John Bolton is a sick man … He is a spiteful man. He is an unattractive man. I believe John Bolton’s liver is diseased. However, he knows nothing at all about his disease and does not know for certain what ails him.

Yes, you guessed correctly, I am reworking Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s opening lines in his masterpiece, Notes from the Underground (1864). Ever since I heard that John Bolton, yet another warmonger, had been appointed to a position of power in the White House – the most dangerous house on planet Earth – I have been aghast at the thought, and bewildered at how to digest this latest apocalyptic news. The only apt, soothing words I could find are these sentiments from Notes from the Underground. I have no clue if this “Russian Probe” thing extends to Russian literature or not and if we are allowed to rely on such literary gems to try to fathom our predicament.

So, yes, I do believe John Bolton’s liver is bad, and he wishes to let it get even worse! 

It is impossible to understand the venomous bile boiling in the twisted mind and tormented soul of a person like John Bolton, or Steve Bannon, or Sebastian Gorka, without resorting to film, fiction, poetry, metaphysics, myth or particularly cartoon characters. 

The toxic terror of John Bolton

You just have to experience the toxic terror in the face, voice, and deranged ideas of this man to believe it. In any other sane and civilised society, John Bolton would be arrested, tried for crimes against humanity for his role in the Iraq war, placed in a straightjacket and put away in an asylum. But not in the US. In the US, he is appointed to the highest offices of trust, advising the lunatic charlatan that Americans have elected as their president.

This degree of arrogance, combined with incurable ignorance, underlined by a harebrained conviction in one’s take on the world, simply defies reason. One must resort to cartoons or fictional characters to even come close. For nowhere else in the world, nowhere in history, do we come across creatures like John Bolton – so astonishingly ignorant, so oblivious to this ignorance, and yet so bewilderingly assured of their fanatical convictions. He knows nothing about nothing, cares to know nothing about anything, and yet speaks his ignorance with alarming conviction. As such, he is possessed of uniquely American brand of stupidity that requires analogies to works of fiction to fully comprehend.

In the same way that Osama Bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are the cartoonish sketches of Muslim world conquerors, John Bolton, Steve Bannon, and Michael Flynn are the ridiculous gestations of medieval crusaders and subsequent conquistadors.

I know nothing of John Bolton’s childhood or teenage years. But I am absolutely certain Joffrey Baratheon from the popular TV series, Games of Thrones, is a close approximation of the sick disposition of this creature. Do you remember that treacherous charlatan, Walder Frey, at the infamous Red Wedding? That was John Bolton in his dotage. And of course, Bolton has a namesake on the fictional continent of Westeros: that sick bastard, Ramsay Bolton. John Bolton is Ramsey Bolton who has been brought back to life by Melisandre to wreak havoc on the world.

I find myself racing from film to literature to cartoons to try to understand this John Bolton character. The real pathology of John Bolton, I now believe, is actually captured by two cartoon characters. He sees himself as Yosemite Sam, the aggressive gunslinging cowboy with a hair-trigger temper and intense hatred of Iranians and other Muslims. But in reality, he is the clueless Elmer J Fudd, always out to hunt Muslim Bugs but ending up hurting himself and those dumber than he.

We have, ladies and gentlemen, exited the realm of reality and entered an animated simulation of our humanity, led by Donald Trump, who is today the crowning achievement of American (indeed “Western”) liberal democracy.

In search of new metaphors

John (Ramsay) Bolton is usually described as a “hawk”. What a calamitous comparison! That beautiful, gentle, graceful bird minding his own solitary business in the skies, wasted as a metaphor for an ugly ogre!

Bolton and his ilk are neither hawks nor doves. Let those precious birds be and look for alternative metaphors for these noxious gases American democracy keeps emitting into our endangered environment and the very air we breathe.

Let me shift gears and try to think historically. People like John Bolton are neo-Crusaders, militant warriors in the cause of Christian imperialism that they think is their “manifest destiny” to advance. Their love for Israel is straight out of their Christian Zionist hatred of the Jews and Muslims alike – a deeply rooted Christian anti-Semitism that remains entirely medieval in its dark and diabolic zealotry.

In their Christian zealotry, they are identical or worse than those Islamist cannibals of  ISIL (also known as ISIS). The sick fanaticism that animates John Bolton, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Nikki Haley, etc etc, is not to be confused by Christianity at large. The liberation theology that has emerged from Latin America with such towering theologians and philosophers as Gustavo Gutierrez and Enrique Dussel is the perfect example that exposes the pathological evangelical Zionism rooted in the United States. In this frame, John Bolton and Steve Bannon are modelled on Guy of Lusignan, as cast by Sir Ridley Scott in his film, Kingdom of Heaven (2005).

Cartoonish criminals, East and West

The cartoonish character and criminal lunacy of people like John Bolton are to be understood as a particularly American ailment, which, along with their boss Donald Trump are symptoms of a deadly virus now endangering the planet Earth. This deadly virus is not accidental to liberal democracy. It is definitive and foundational to it.

American democracy began with the slaughter of the Native Americans, continued with the prolonged history of African slavery, was enriched on the broken backs of successive migrant labour and is now exposing all its related pathologies for the whole world to see by electing a racist warmonger who hates just about anything he fails to understand.

What John Bolton represents is a fanatical fusion of militarism and thinly secularised Christianity animating each other. The history of Christianity is, of course, not alien to this dangerous liaison and, both during the crusades and subsequently, in the course of the conquest of “the New World”, the world has seen many John Boltons and Steve Bannons. Islam has of course not been immune to such dangerous delusions. In the same way that Osama Bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are the cartoonish sketches of Muslim world conquerors, John Bolton, Steve Bannon, and Michael Flynn are the ridiculous gestations of medieval crusaders and subsequent conquistadors.

Menacing tinderboxes like John Bolton, Steve Bannon, Osama Bin Laden, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are triumphalist Christian and Muslim lunatics at each other’s throats – with the fate of the entire planet at the mercy of their dangerous delusions. The fact that we must resort to the realms of film, literature and fanatically dark episodes in human history to try to grasp the scope their fiendish cruelty marks the precise twilight zone where “Western democracy” is bidding farewell to an entire history of philosophical fantasies.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/john-bolton-man-underground-180402075258950.html

Facebook has gotten too big for Mark Zuckerberg — “In over his head…”

March 23, 2018

Mark Zuckerberg is not comfortable with the enormous influence he has over the world.

During his apology tour this week for the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Zuckerberg lent support to the idea of regulating Facebook and admitted he’d rather not be the person making content policy decisions for the world.

But he pushed back on one thing: Facebook’s immense power.

Image result for Mark Zuckerberg, photos

When CNN’s Laurie Segall asked if Facebook (FB) had become “too powerful,” Zuckerberg responded: “I don’t think so.”

“The reason why we’ve succeeded as a company is because we serve people and give people power,” Zuckerberg said. “The day that we stop doing that, we’ll stop being a relevant company.”

Zuckerberg argued that history shows any list of “the biggest [companies] in any given industry” will inevitably change “ten years later, or ten years after that.”

And yet, at this moment, Facebook isn’t just on the list, but nearly unrivaled in its dominance. It has billions of users and tremendous influence over the media and advertising industries. It also has no obvious direct competitor who can take it down thanks to years of acquiring and cloning newer social media companies.

“It influences how more than 2 billion around the world people see, think, and feel. I can’t think of an institution that has close to that power, with the possible exception of Google,” says Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies professor at the University of Virginia and author of a forthcoming book on Facebook’s impact on democracy.

“For Mark Zuckerberg to deny that,” he added, “is insulting.”

Related: Zuckerberg opens the door to testifying before Congress

Facebook is widely considered one of the “big four” tech companies, along with Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN) and Google’s parent company, Alphabet (GOOGL). Like others in this group, Facebook has the ability to upend new industries overnight — and perhaps upend society itself.

News broke last weekend that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign, reportedly accessed information from about 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

Facebook has faced other controversies over user data and privacy, but the stakes have grown with the platform’s influence. This time, it wasn’t simply a matter of selling ads, but potentially swaying an election.

Once again, Facebook was forced to account for its role in the 2016 election after what was already a bruising year full of stories about fake newsforeign election meddling and filter bubbles.

“Any company that can influence a US presidential election without being aware that it is doing so is demonstrably too powerful,” Roger McNamee, Zuckerberg’s former mentor and a venture capitalist, told CNN by email.

Brian Wieser, an analyst who tracks Facebook for Pivotal Research Group, says the real issue plaguing the company may not be whether it’s too powerful so much as whether it became powerful too fast.

“It looks like a problem that has emerged is that they may have become big and powerful too quickly, without ensuring their foundations were solid enough to withstand the growth they have had,” Wieser told CNN.

Dex Torricke-Barton, a former speechwriter for Zuckerberg and former executive communications manager for Facebook, disagrees that the company is too powerful. But the idea that it is does create a genuine challenge for Facebook, he said.

“The perception that Facebook is all-powerful places an unfair burden on the company,” he said. “The challenges of misinformation, fake news and bad online actors didn’t begin with Facebook, and can’t be solved by Facebook alone.”

CNN Exclusive: Zuckerberg apologizes
CNN Exclusive: Zuckerberg apologizes

Zuckerberg may play down how powerful Facebook is, but his interviews this week highlight his clear discomfort with the responsibility he now has, not just to make products, but to make policies with global impact.

“I feel fundamentally uncomfortable sitting here in California in an office making content policy decisions for people around the world,” Zuckerberg told Re/code. “[The] thing is like, ‘Where’s the line on hate speech?’ I mean, who chose me to be the person that did that? I guess I have to, because of [where we are] now, but I’d rather not.”

In the CNN interview, Zuckerberg said if anyone had told him when he founded Facebook in 2004 that he’d one day be battling state actors, “I wouldn’t have really believed that that would be something I’d have to work on 14 years later.”

 http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/23/news/companies/facebook-power-data/index.html
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(Ethics should be used to make laws and regulations…. Not the reverse…..)

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How Facebook and Google threaten public health – and democracy

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/11/facebook-google-public-health-democracy