Western European News Digest
UK May Replace Obsolete Trident ICBM System with Tactical Nukes
There is a real danger that tactical nuclear weapons, the types of which could be used in "pre-emptive" strikes, may replace Britain's current strategic missile stockpile. So wrote Andrew Gilligan, the former BBC journalist who first exposed the fraud of the Blair government's fraudulent Iraq dossier, in the current Spectator magazine. Britain is about to begin discussion of renewing its Cold War-style Trident system, and Prime Minister Tony Blair is insisting Britain must "retain our nuclear deterrent." This deterrent is totally under U.S. control.
Opponents of this policy in the Labour Party are joined by former Tory Defense Secretary Michael Portillo, who stated: "The case for Britain having an independent nuclear deterrent depended on the existence of the Soviet Union. But the Soviet Union collapsed long ago. There is no threat from China. The nuclear weapons states, from India to Israel, do not have the capability to hit us. Relations between Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac may be strained, but as yet we have no reason to fear a nuclear strike from the French force de frappe," referring to France's independent nuclear deterrent.
But Blair's policy may be to follow the "far more dangerous" U.S. "joint nuclear operations" doctrine which foresees small "preventative" (pre-emptive) nuclear strikes, Gillagan warned. For Britain, "the real question in the months ahead is not whether ministers wish to maintain an 'independent deterrent.' It is whether they agreeor even half-agreewith the developing American doctrine of usable, pre-emptive nukes."
The Gilligan article did not take note of the shift signalled by the recent U.S. Congressional vote denying funding for Cheney's pet project of nuclear "bunker buster" bombs.
Bertelsmann Researcher Sees European Paralysis Lasting Until 2007
A source at the Bertelsmann Foundation, a key venue for synarchist "reform" scenarios, was asked by EIR for his view on the most recent political shakeups in Germany; he said that he saw these as positive, because a new generation of politicians was now stepping onto the scene. The old generation that has failed, is out; some of them are still there, but they will be out soon. The same process is going on in France, Italy, and other European countries.
The new generation of politicians will be unprejudiced (as far as budget-cutting reforms were concerned), they want to overcome the immobility of the old social security systems, they want a new Europe, which is more focussed on the reform and its effects on the situation of the population. In Germany, some of the new politicians, like Siegmar Gabriel, will be in the Grand Coalition government, and in the party leaderships, like Andrea Nahles. But this is a process that has only just begun. Changes can be expected also in Italy, with the elections there next year, and in France. By 2007, after the French Presidential elections, the new generation of politicians will take first shape. Germany's Angela Merkel-led Grand Coalition is only a transition; it will prepare the rejuvenation of politics. What is going on in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) now, will be repeated also in the other parties, soon.
Whereas the last EU summit in London showed that the old establishment has failed, and cannot give new impulses anymore, the future lies with the young politicians with their new ideas. Asked whether he saw Chancellor Schroeder's support in London for a strong social security state as a thing of the past, the source said, yes, things have to change, but they will not change with the old generation of politicians.
Left Party Chief LaFontaine Sees SPD Headed for Profound Crisis
Lifting the veil from some of the synarchist scenarios for the destabilization of Germany, Oskar Lafontaine, chairman of the Linkspartei (Left Party) and a left synarchist himself, said in an interview with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung Nov. 2, that the recent move of challenger Andrea Nahles against Social Democratic Party (SPD) chairman Heinz Muentefering, which led to his resignation from the party leadership post, means that "the era of false loyalties" to the party hierarchy is over in the SPD. "The struggle over the course of the party will now break fully out into the open."
Granted, Nahles also backed the Agenda 2010 and Hartz IV, but she did so without really backing Schroeder or Muentefering. That is over now, anyway, Lafontaine said, adding that, for the time being, a Grand Coalition will govern Germany, although, as things stand, it will not be on a sound political basis. For the SPD, the coalition will be a burden, preventing the necessary programmatic debate (in the direction of the Linkspartei views, that is), Lafontaine said.
Benn: British Labour Faces 1931-Style Crisis
The British Labour Party today faces the same fate as it did in the crisis of 1931, according to Labour's "grey eminence" Tony Benn, Writing in the Guardian Nov. 2, Benn describes how, in 1931, Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald dissolved Labor into a National Coalition government. Benn wrote that in the four years since he left Parliament, Britain is seeing "nothing less than the erosion of parliamentary democracy and its substitution by a near dictatorship" under Tony Blair. The House of Lords (which serves as a kind of senior political overseer of the Parliament) is being filled by Blair's nominees and contributors. Blair is ignoring his own cabinet on many policies, (as happened in getting Britain into the Iraq war). "It is almost as if democracy has been thrust aside in order to fight the war on terror and preserve our 'values,'" Benn wrote.
Blair's "real legacy could be the destruction of the Labour Party itself, for that could well be how history will see it," Benn wrote. He recalled MacDonald, who dumped the party in economic-crisis-ridden Britain in 1931, to form a "national government." But Labour came back to power in 1945. "If Labour could recover after MacDonald, we can recover from Blair," but Labour MPs must play their part, before the country is pushed into another war.
French Prime Minister Suspends Privatizations
The debate, launched by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin last June, on the need to protect key strategic companies from financial predators, is showing concrete results. At his monthly press conference on Oct. 27, de Villepin declared a "pause" in the privatizing of state assets. After the recent privatization of the French highways, the SNCM shipping firm, and the partial privatization of the public power producer Electricite de France (EDF), de Villepin gave no date for planned privatization of the French airports (ADP). He further declared that the privatization of the postal system and the National Railroad Company (SNCF) were "not on the agenda."
Much more important is the scrapping of the privatization plans for the French nuclear giant Areva, which includes the core of France's nuclear industry: Cogema (nuclear waste recycling); Framatome (nuclear plant construction); and CEA industry (nuclear technology), a decision taken with no consultations with Anne Lauvergeon, the CEO of Areva who had been named to that position, only to carry out the privatization.
According to Le Figaro, de Villepin has thus identified "a red line he refuses to cross," of certain public services "whose activity is mercantile, but whose strategic importance is necessary for national independence." The decision was another slap in the face to Interior Minister, and leading neo-conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, who had announced in 2004, when he was Economics Minister, that 35-40% of Areva's capital would be opened to private financial investors.
Post-Cheney Era Creates Headwind for Tony Blair
"Times are tough," British Prime Minister Tony Blair had to admit Nov. 3, after his woeful last 24 hours: These included the resignation of his former close collaborator David Blunkett, and near-defeat on his terrorism bill. A Downing Street spokesman reported Blair's statement to his cabinet. Blair claimed times are "tough" due to the government trying to "do the right thing," but the growing impact of the post-Cheney era in the U.S. is more likely the underlying cause of Blair's troubles.
Meanwhile, outgoing Tory leader Micheal Howard said that Blair's authority is "vanishing," and likened this to what happened to Tory Prime Minister John Major in the late 1990s. BBC political editor Nick Robinson wrote that right now, it is not "good for your political health to be associated with the Prime Minister."
Draconian British Terrorism Bill Watered Down
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Home Secretary Charles Clarke is backing down on the more drastic aspects of his new terrorism bill: One aspect of the bill, which makes "indirect incitement to terrorism" an offense, squeaked through by just one vote, Nov. 3, although the Labour majority is 66. This was Labour's smallest margin of victory in the Commons since it came to power in 1997. Some 31 Labour MPs voted against Clarke and Blair.
On one key issuewhich would allow authorities to hold terror suspects for 90 days without chargethe goverment may have to back down. "Backbencher" Labour MP David Winnick has proposed an amendment setting a 28-day limit, up from the current 14 days, and this would certainly pass. Clarke stopped a vote so far only by demanding all-party talks to reach "consensus" on the issue over the next week.