From Volume 5, Issue Number 42 of EIR Online, Published Oct. 17, 2006

Western European News Digest

EU Crisis Scenarios Anticipate Financial Collapse

A major piece in the German edition of the Financial Times Oct. 10 reports on how the European Union is studying ways to deal with the economic-financial collapse. An accompanying picture caption says: "A fire extinguisher will not be enough for supervisory authorities and finance ministers to prevent the spread of a brush fire, in the event of an EU banking or financial crisis."

The article reports that the Finns, who now hold the rotating EU presidency, planned to propose to the EU finance ministers' meeting in Luxembourg Oct. 10 setting up a high-level task force to make proposals on how national supervisory agencies can best work together in the event of a European banking collapse. It should also study burden sharing.

This, the FT wrote, comes in response to the results of an April simulation of a European financial crisis by the European Central Bank. The results questioned whether national supervisory agencies could in any way control a cross-border financial crisis, and concluded that they are not prepared for such a "crash."

The paper also cites a confidential September report of the EU's Economic and Financial Committee, which said that risks have increased as a result of the "consolidation and integration of European financial branches. European financial diplomats say they are particularly concerned about crises in which cross-border institutions, like the Italian Unicredit, or the Nordea Bank, were to go into a downslide." Therefore, the finance ministers want to commission the EU Economic and Finance Committee to "further develop procedures and, if necessary, general principles for the solution of cross-border financial crises in the EU."

The Finns are planning, according to an internal memo, to set up an Ad Hoc Working Group, "made up of a dozen high-level officials of the finance ministries, national Central Banks, the ECB and the Commission. The working group is supposed to work out proposals for a 'tool box' with which the national supervisory agencies can quickly and efficiently stem the effects of a cross-border collapse. The group should also study the financial burden sharing involved in a European financial crisis, and whether money should be made available through public funds."

The working group is supposed to present its first report in March 2007, and another in the second half of the year.

Poland a Pawn in Geopolitical Brinkmanship

Events in Poland this past week underscore its strategic significance to international relations. The current instability in the governing coalition was heightened as protests spread to the streets Oct. 7-8, with thousands demonstrating in Warsaw. In this climate, the Polish leadership held bilateral talks with Russian diplomats, notably including Defense Minister Sergei Lavrov. These talks are complicated both by Poland's past relations with Russia, and by current efforts by some in the U.S., to use Poland for geostrategic advantage.

Lavrov told the press afterward that the talks proceeded "constructively, and in a business-like manner." Topics discussed included the need to arrive at large-scale economic projects; inter-regional cooperation, with special attention given to the Kaliningrad region; and cooperation in the cultural and humanitarian spheres.

Most sensitive were those concerning plans by the U.S. to deploy an anti-ballistic missile defense network on Polish territory. Lavrov was clear in his statement that he sees this as part of "a reconfiguration of the military presence in Europe as a whole," including the expansion of NATO. He made it clear that the Russians understand that any such system could easily be used against them.

Italians Intend To Prosecute in Rendition Case

Prosecutors in Rome have completed their investigation into the alleged CIA kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in Italy, and were preparing to ask that more than two dozen Americans and several Italian intelligence officials be ordered to stand trial, lawyers said Oct. 7, according to Associated Press.

It has been discovered that one private security firm involved in the scandal was based in Montecarlo, located in the Principality of Monaco, at the private address of the daughter-in-law of the old spymaster Licio Gelli. It was Gelli who, in 1976, moved the core of his P-2 Lodge to Montecarlo, founding the "Freemasonic Executive Committee," also known as the "Montecarlo Lodge." According to some experts, the Montecarlo Lodge has never ceased to be active, continuing to cooperate with neocon circles.

Airbus Whiz-Kid Sacked, Replaced with Aerospace Veteran

Airbus "Whiz-Kid" Christian Streiff stepped down as head of Airbus on Oct. 9 after less than 100 days on the job, and was replaced by aerospace veteran and EADS CEO Louis Gallois, who had run the French state-owned National Railway Company (SNCF) for a decade, and later the state-owned Aerospatiale, SA. Wire reports commented that this was a "battle between the public and private sectors."

The crisis at EADS had reached the point where major industrial suppliers were beginning to suffer badly. With the schedule for the serial production of the Airbus A-380 super airliner thrown into uncertainty, Britain's Rolls Royce announced Oct. 6 that it will take the Trent-900 engine off production for the time being. The engine has been specifically designed for the A-380.

Other major suppliers for Airbus are also hit, facing losses in expected profits, and having already invested engineering and capital in the production of components that Airbus will not buy in 2007 or in most of 2008. Among suppliers affected are Finmechanicca (Italy), Safran (France), Thales (France), and GKN Smiths Group (Britain).

Sensitive Comment by Putin Censored by German Press

Speaking with the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung about "press freedom" in the West—what the Russian President said about the murder several years ago of John Train's son-in-law Paul Klebnikov simply got cut out (like numerous other passages of the original text) of the interview that Sueddeutsche Zeitung published Oct. 11.

Putin's remark came in the context of discussing the recent assassination of journalist Anna Politovskaya: "You know that several years ago, an American journalist of Russian origin, Paul Klebnikov, was killed in Russia. He also dealt with problems in the Chechen Republic and wrote a book entitled Conversation with a Barbarian. According to the investigation, the protagonists of this book were not happy with how Klebnikov portrayed them, and they destroyed him."

Die Welt Story on Al-Qaeda Threat Is Doubtful

An article by Torsten Krauel of the German newspaper Die Welt Oct. 8 quotes one Jamal Ismail of the al-Quds Media Center (formerly with al-Jazeera), who says he received a call from the former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Massoud Afghani, from inside Afghanistan, warning Muslims to flee the U.S. with haste, because "divine punishment will hit the U.S., sparing no spot," during the month of Ramadan.

The article referenced several historic dates in Islamic history, which Krauel then interpreted as dates that will be "celebrated" with an attack on the United States.

In a memo to EIR the same day, Lyndon LaRouche noted that Krauel's claim of credibility is itself not credible, and the report must be seen in the context of Vice President Dick Cheney's "October Surprise," as supposed justification for an attack on Iran. The appearance of the story itself is adding to the strategic tension, and could be used to further justify the "preventive war" attack on Iran that Cheney is pushing.

Cheney Made David Blunkett Clinically Depressed

Former British Home Secretary David Blunkett, who resigned last year from the Blair government over a sex scandal, has just released his memoirs, which are now being serialized in the London Guardian. In the Oct. 7 edition, Plunkett reveals that the troubles he experienced while serving in the government had made him "clinically depressed." One contributing episode involved Tony Blair's decision to back the Cheney-Rumsfeld's decision to forge ahead with the Iraqi de-Ba'athification campaign: Blunkett claims the British government "battled" with Cheney and Rumsfeld not to press ahead with "dismantling the whole of the security, policing, administrative system on the basis of the de-Ba'athification of Iraq," according to the Guardian. Plunkett complained, "All we could do as a nation of 60 million off the coast of mainland Europe was to seek to influence the most powerful nation in the world."

Kohl, Bush on Hand for Reunification Events in U.S.

Former President George H.W. Bush sounded a high note at events celebrating the reunification of Germany in 1990, praising the peaceful rejoining of East and West Germany—while getting in some digs at former French President François Mitterrand, the Washington Times reported Oct. 6. "We rose above the recriminations of the past and broke a chain of human discontent and resolved our affairs not with rifles, but with reason," Bush, Sr. told the ceremonies at the German Embassy. "For once, mankind did not fall back on a primeval reflex for violence, but instead asserted the 'better angels' of human nature."

Both he and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl reportedly noted the difficulties they faced in persuading then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Mitterrand to accept reunification. Bush recalled that Mitterrand once jokingly said, "I like Germany so much, I think there should be two of them."

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