Students of geopolitics know that maps are an essential tool for understanding global conflicts. They have also become an equally important tool for educating the public. The idea that war news should be accompanied by maps owed much to the World Wars, and particularly World War II. This represented a form of visual information very different to that of newsreels and the television, but one that helped prepare the way for aspects of the latter.
The Trump administration has launched a no-kidding trade war with China—and no one who knows Donald Trump well is surprised. If this president has one core belief, it is that the U.S. has been the victim of unfair trade practices by other countries aided and abetted by bad trade agreements signed by previous administrations. The most consistent focus of his often expletive-laden critiques has been China, and he has cited the yawning trade deficit the U.S. runs with China as “Exhibit A.”
In mid-July, the heads of state from NATO’s 29 members will meet in the new headquarters building in Brussels for the first full-length summit since 2016. During the Brussels Summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will reportedly aim to address the following goals: to solidify the transatlantic relationship, intensify NATO efforts to combat terrorism, announce several new command and control initiatives, and strengthen defenses against cyberattacks and hybrid threats. President Donald Trump will undoubtedly have his own agenda and priorities, including assessing the Allies’ ongoing progress towards the coalition’s professed defense spending benchmark of 2% of gross domestic product (GDP), which was publically set forth at the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales. Normally, the upcoming summit would be a pretty boring event, with no displays of division among the world’s most successful alliance. Yet, the fallout from last month’s G7 meeting in Ottawa and U.S. threats of a trade war over trade imbalances and tariffs raises the potential for a far more interesting event.
On January 20, 1942, a meeting was held at the Wannsee Villa, outside Berlin. Over the course of a mere 80 minutes, fifteen high officials in the German government dined, drank, smoked, and ratified the plan for the Final Solution, the resolution of the “Jewish Problem,” including how to extend it to the entire European continent and how to coordinate for maximum efficiency.
The Holocaust was the moral death of Europe, one with which it has since struggled to cope. A continent whose leaders saw themselves at the cutting edge of history, destined to rule over much of the world, was horribly compromised by a monumental crime. For it was not only Germany (very much including Austria) that was responsible but also the many that actively cooperated. This row of infamy spanned Europe, from the France to Romania. Just as many brave and worthy individuals risked much trying to thwart the Holocaust, so all too many were culpable, whether directly involved or by not doing what they could and should have done to oppose, limit, or condemn the process. The excuses were to be many, as the Catholic hierarchy exemplified, but in reality, so many passed along on the other side of the road, if not, in some cases, crossing it to cooperate.
Culture wars have been more apparent in the United States than the United Kingdom in recent decades, possibly because the nature of class-based politics is more explicit on the Left with the British Labour Party. Moreover, despite the efforts of Margaret Thatcher (1979-90), the Left has long enjoyed a dominant position in the universities, the BBC, the Church of England, and the other bastions of liberal corporatism
The October Revolution of 1917 unleashed a century of evil, a virus that has claimed an unprecedented human toll. It is hard to comprehend the number of its victims, enslaved, oppressed, and killed in the name of a malignant ideology. Let us tally up the body count: 20 million deaths in the Soviet Union; 65 million in China; 2 million in Cambodia; one million each in Eastern Europe and Vietnam; 2 million each in North Korea and across Africa; 1.5 million in Afghanistan; and 150,000 in Latin America.
Two words capture a broad swathe of U.S. and European political concerns over the past twelve months: elections and Russia. However, in a year when it seemed that every election threatened potentially dire consequences for American interests, the European Union, or the liberal post-war order if Russian interference had its way, the finale has been reassuringly anti-climactic.
In the few days since the elections in Germany, I remain, in the eyes of my friends’ unbelievably, optimistic. My response to the retort of those who are despairing is that a sigh of relief at the German election is not an imposition of my dreams-cum-naivety; rather, seeing Sunday as a short-term tactical and long-term strategic victory for those who side with Human Dignity is based on facts alone. However shrouded and subtle they may be, the littler verities of fact that Hannah Arendt told us about matter much more than any easy, obvious, but ultimately incorrect conclusions.