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Super Tuesday victories make Clinton, Trump favorites for nomination

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Super Tuesday was the biggest single day of state-by-state contests on March 01 to select party nominees for the Nov. 8 election to succeed outgoing President Democrat Barack Obama. Voting stretched from eastern states to Texas and Minnesota.

Now with the ‘Super Tuesday’ primary voting in 12 states being over, the chance indicators are almost clear about possible front runners for 2016 US presidency. Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican billionaire Donald Trump emerged as favourites after grabbing a series of victories 7 each on ‘Super Tuesday’ in the race for the US presidential nominations.

Hilary Clinton won Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Arkansas. Her challenger Bernie Sanders won in Vermont, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Colorado. For the Republican race, Donald Trump won seven states including Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia. Clinton had a strong night, winning seven states and showing her strength with minorities in the South. Trump swamped his rivals by piling up seven wins across the nation, demonstrating broad appeal for his anti-establishment movement.

Former US foreign minister Hillary Clinton emerged as a clear victor over his immediate but popularly powerful rival Sanders and took a large step toward her party’s nomination. Clinton’s rival Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist US senator from Vermont, also won his home state along with Oklahoma and vowed to continue his battle for the nomination to the 35 states that have yet to vote. He gave little sign that he will drop out any soon.

And though Sanders failed to broaden his appeal in less liberal battlegrounds, he will now look to states in the industrial Midwest such as Michigan to inflict new blows on the former secretary of state. But Sanders has yet to find an answer for a central question of the race: How can he win the nomination of the diverse Democratic Party without demonstrating an ability to challenge Clinton’s dominance of minority voters?

The Democratic race is guaranteed to go on for months, however, because the party’s system of proportionally awarding delegates means no candidate is yet close to reaching the magic number of 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton carved out dominant positions in their party nominating races on Super Tuesday, marching ever closer to a scorched-earth general election clash. With victories by wide margins in Southern states, Clinton won at least 467 of the 865 delegates, while Sanders picked up at least 286 delegates. Overall, Clinton now has at least 969 delegates. Sanders has at least 319. Trump and Clinton turned their sights on each other after their Super Tuesday wins, with Trump promising to “go after” Clinton and the former secretary of state decrying what she called Trump’s divisive rhetoric.

Sanders is vowing to stay in the campaign — and with his lucrative army of small donors and grass-roots appeal, he has no reason to leave. As it stands, Clinton is likely to take the White House after the poll later this year. It appears a clash between Clinton and Trump is being decided planned by the powerful power brokers in Washington.

New York real estate tycoon Trump continued to alarm the Republican establishment by cruising to key victories by being ultra fanatic in all but two states. On Tuesday Trump won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. In moderate New England and Virginia, Trump’s victories illustrated the broad outreach of his rhetoric that transcended ideological boundaries. His closest rival, Texas Governor Ted Cruz, won sweeping victories in his home state and neighboring Oklahoma, bolstering his argument he had the best chance to stop the controversial Trump. Both Ben Carson and John Kasish performed poorly during Super Tuesday and have been described by some Republicans as “spoilers” to candidates trying to topple Donald Trump. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the establishment’s favorite, won only in Minnesota and lost to Trump by a narrow margin in Virginia.

Before Super Tuesday Republican fundraisers and leading figures have launched a campaign to fund an anti-Trump front, calling on rival candidates to unify their efforts and rally behind a single candidate. Both Rubio and Cruz believe they are the only candidate who can genuinely challenge Trump. Trump won at least 192 delegates in Tuesday’s contests. Cruz collected at least 132 delegates and Rubio picked up at least 66. Overall, Trump leads with 274 delegates. Cruz 149, Rubio 82, John Kasich 25 and Ben Carson got only eight.

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president. Cruz’s third win bolstered his argument that others should drop out of the race and endorse him. He described Trump’s possible nomination as a “total disaster” for the party and the nation and asked other candidates to leave the field to him. “I ask you to prayerfully consider our coming together, united,” Cruz said. With at least 35 states still remaining to vote in the coming months, commentators believe Cruz is unlikely to capture the approval of moderate voters in other states.

In a response to critics, Trump said in a victory speech that he is a “unifier.” “Once we get all this finished, I’m going after one person — Hillary Clinton.” He called Rubio a “lightweight” who has recently changed tactics to personally attack Trump, as a way to appeal to angry voters.

Trump and Clinton turned their sights on each other after their Super Tuesday wins, with Trump promising to “go after” Clinton and the former secretary of state decrying what she called Trump’s divisive rhetoric. Clinton won seven states, building up a delegate cushion over her insurgent rival Bernie Sanders. She rode her support among African-American voters on a Southern sweep through Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, and added Massachusetts, a state Sanders had hoped to win.

Trump’s victories suggested that he did not pay a significant price for a controversy that flared in recent days over his initial failure to disavow David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, during a CNN interview, and disputes over his business record and positions on immigration. And time is running out for the panicking Republican establishment to deny the billionaire the nomination, amid fears his brand of volatile anti-immigrant rhetoric could cost the party not just the White House, but the Senate.

And Rubio, after finally securing his first win of the campaign in Minnesota, argued that Trump could not amass the 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination once winner-take-all contests begin to crop up on the calendar later this month –including his own, must-win state of Florida. But his claim that he can unite the Republican Party against Trump looks increasingly questionable, given his losses to the former reality television star in other target states such as Virginia.

In some states, it was clear that Rubio and Cruz were dividing the opposition to Trump, who is still benefiting from the split field against him. But there seems little incentive for either candidate to get out. Rubio has sufficient support and financial resources to continue and could benefit from an emerging effort by anti-Trump forces to target the billionaire with a super PAC. The same is true of Cruz, and he and Rubio, youthful first term senators, are locked in a battle for the future leadership of the party, and don’t seem likely to join together to present an anti-Trump front.

America is the ancestral home of snake oil salesmen. Trump invokes a mythical past and promises to “Make America Great Again.” Trump peddles his economic and political wares to the desperate and discouraged. Even many Republicans were shocked by the rapid ascendance of Trump, whose views about women, immigrants and Muslims have horrified a wide spectrum of Democrats and Republicans alike. On the other hand, Rubio’s strong showing in many states kept alive his momentum to halt Trump’s rise.

While the outcome remains uncertain, the front-runner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination is a candidate whose persona and appeal are of a distinctly fascistic character. Some of Trump’s critics acknowledge that he was a “Frankenstein’s monster” created by the party’s decades-long cultivation of racist elements. The racist political culture of the Republican Party has provided an ideal environment for the development of Trump’s career and his present-day baiting of Muslims and immigrants of Hispanic origin.

The story of Trump’s bankruptcies and subsequent resurrections offer a strange sort of hope to those who know what it means to lose everything they have. Since the leftists led by Obama type leaders represent the interests of affluent sections of the middle class, persons like Trump takes the hero’s seat. They have no interest in any substantial change in the existing economic structure of society, beyond achieving a more agreeable distribution of wealth among the richest 10 percent of the population. The essential characteristics of this political milieu are complacency, self-absorption and, above all, contempt for the common masses. The underprivileged are not allowed to become conscious of their common class identity and the underlying economic source of their oppression.

The American political system is rotten to the core. The Trump phenomenon is a serious political warning. More than any other Republican candidate, Trump has pitched his message to the intense anger and frustration of tens of millions of Americans who feel—quite justifiably—neglected and scorned by a political system that is indifferent to the problems with which they are confronted every day of their lives. Quite simply, Trump proclaims that “America is failing.” That assessment of the state of the country sounds a good deal closer to the truth than the usual declaration.

The campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, broadly identified as a socialist, has gained widespread support and demonstrated the existence of a desire within large sections of the working class for an alternative to capitalism. The explosive character of international politics, the extreme economic instability and the growing social tensions within the USA impart to the 2016 election a high degree of uncertainty.

Having got no new ideas, Hillary Clinton is going to pursue the same policies at home abroad that have promoted capitalism and funded imperialist wars, if she gets the Democratic nomination and wins the presidency ultimately. She is incapable of changing the US policy for Israel and Mideast. Though Trump hints at becoming “normal” if elected, he can’t be in principle different from all US presidents- both Republicans and Democrats.

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Future of BRICS: BRAXIT or ‘Power Next’?

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The club of emerging political and economic powers of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa in response to new global challenges is famously known as BRICS. Since its inception in 2006, it has been a platform to highlight the prominence of multi-polar world order challenging the collision of G-7 members. These five countries account for 20 percent of world GDP and 40% of the world population. Further, they hold 40 percent of gold and hard currency reserves. Being collectively the largest market, their cumulative GDP has tripled in the last ten years.

With the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro on 28th October 2018, many are skeptical about the future of the BRICS as he comes from the far-rightwing camp which seems to be antagonistic to the BRICS. Brazil is the most populous nation in South America with the world’s eighth-largest economy of the world. Bolsonaro wants Brazil to be great as Trump wants America to be great. Even during Bolsonaro’s campaign period, he has reiterated that his foreign policy would be changed from his precursor. Further, he is a follower of conservative Christianity who profoundly believes in restoring Judeo-Christian tradition against communism.

With this scenario, the future of BRICS has been subjected to controversial as to Jair Bolsonaro would lead Brazil to exit the BRICS moving towards the pro-western camp. Another argues that this collision would last long due to their close trade relations. 

The Origin of BRICS

In 2001 the term BRIC was firstly coined by Jim O’Neill, a British economist in a paper written for ‘Global Economic Paper’ of Goldman Sachs using the acronym stands for Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The first summit was held in 2009 at Yekaterinburg, Russia emphasizing the need of reformations to be made to the international financial institutions. In 2011, South Africa became a member of this group at the third Summit held at Sanaya, China making BRIC into BRICS. The primary purpose of BRICS is to broaden the cooperation among members and enhances the support for multipolar world order. It is mainly an indication of the movement of world power from the west to the South.  Since the inception BRICS conducts its annual summit of heads of the states to youth forums though the members don’t have their own permanent executive body or a secretariat.

Functions of BRICS

Two main functions of the BRICS are, to 1) liaise with meetings and international organizations such as IMF and G-20 Grouping and to 2) design a framework for BRICS members for multi-sectoral cooperation. Today it covers more than 30 sectors including agriculture, science and technology, culture, outer space, think tanks, Internet governance and security, social welfare, intellectual property, health, and tourism.  The forum called BRICS Business Council promotes and strengthens business, trade and investment ties amongst the business communities of the members. Think Tank Council formulates long term economic strategies of the members.

Further initiatives have been made for establishing New Development Bank (NDB) to finance the infrastructure projects in emerging economies and developing countries and also for entering into Contingent Reserves Arrangement (CRA) to promote mutual support among the members in situations of instability in the balance of payments. Demands have also been made to reformulate the IMF but, they were not yet successive because of the resistance caused by the Western power. Moreover, the BRICS are open to cooperation and constructive engagement with other countries, as well as open with international and regional organizations in dealing with current global issues.

Despite this, one of the vital political demands that the BRICS has made to the United Nations Organization is to expand the number of members of the Security Council covering the BRICS members and making decisions of the UNO more democratic and accountable. This shows the importance of BRICS to balance the prevailing world order and also to voice for the global south in international relations.

Challenges Ahead

However, as it is mentioned the foreign policy of Bolsonaro is opposite to the leftist approach which was a blessing to accelerate the activities of BRICS. It is more similar to the protectionist approach followed by the US President, Trump. Once, Bolsonaro said at a press conference as “It is about aiming for a great Brazil like that – the way Trump wants America to be great”. This approach is contrary to the joint statement made at the 2nd summit of the heads of the states held at Brazil where the members pledged to resist all forms of protectionism and fight disguised restrictions on trade. Further, criticisms made concerning multilateralism and pulling out Brazil from Global Compact for Migration also support Bolsonaro’s protectionist approach. With respect to the crisis in Venezuela, Bolsonaro supporting the USA rejects Nicolas Maduro as the duly elected President, while all other BRICS members accept Maduro as democratically elected president.
Moreover, distant relations between China and Brazil also a reason to make BRICS in a more controversial position.  With the Xi Jinping’s rise in China from 2013, China took the leadership of the BRICS group and proposals were made at the Fortaleza Summit in 2014 to establish NDB to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies, as well as in developing countries. However, Bolsonaro’s far right and anti-communist ideology is contrary to fundamental policies of China. His early visit to Taiwan and South Korea and China’s reaction on his visit has greatly influenced on assuming Bolsonaro would choose between BRICS and OECD members.

 Nonetheless, since 2009 China is the top trading partner of Brazil and on the other hand export of soy to China from Brazil is as crucial as the arrival of Chinese investment into Brazil. According to a recent study carried by the Started Charted Bank, China will become the largest economy of the world in 2020. Hence, though there is much ideological dissimilarity, both the countries are dependent on each other concerning their trade relations.

Conclusion

If Bolsonaro is more driven by his far-right ideology than by pragmatism, he will not deal closely with the BRICS members. However, it is difficult to assume that he will abandon this BRICS group as Brazil is highly dependent on Chinese imports. It would be challenging for him to dramatically shift in his trade relations having with China and also with Russia. More importantly, in the middle of this year, it is Brazil’s turn to host the BRICS summit of 2019. Though there are no valid reasons for BRAXIT, i.e. for Brazil to exit from BRICS, Brazil would not be an active player in BRICS making BRICS into the most powerful allies of the South as it happened during LuizInácio Lula da Silva’s tenure. Skepticism arose even when Narendra Modi appointed as Prime-Minister in India coming from the far right wing that how BRICS is going to maintain cooperation among members with the rivalry between India and Russia. Further, Brazil was not prominent in BRICS during his predecessors Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer’s period. Conversely, it’s not only stance of Brazil has been changed even China doesn’t seem to be willing to invest much on the BRICS as in the past. As Lord Palmerston once stated, “in international relations, there is no eternal allies and no perpetual enemies. Only the interests are eternal and perpetual”. Hence, BRAXIT seems to be far away than we assume.

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Sanders will criticize Trump

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Of course, during the upcoming presidential elections in the United States, there will be a lot of criticism from the White House and the U.S. president. This is a matter of great concern to Donald Trump. On the other hand, Democratic Party elections will begin shortly. The common point of all candidates for this election is criticism of Trump’s policies.

Bernie Sanders, the old American senator, and one of Democratic nominees for the 2020 presidential election, continues to oppose U.S. President Donald Trump. This confrontation started at the time Trump entered the White House (by early 2017). Sanders called for an end to Washington’s support for Riyadh in the Yemeni war. Sanders also condemned Trump’s stance on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. At any rate, Sanders’s recent position against Trump has led to the U.S. President’s concerns.

Sen. Bernie Sanders says it would be an “impeachable offense” if President Trump were to fire Robert Mueller the special counsel leading the federal probe into ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

“I’ve been very reluctant to talk about impeachment until we have all the information coming in from the investigation. But that would be a major, major, major obstruction of justice. That would be an impeachable offense in my view,” Sanders said in an interview for The Intercept’s newly launched podcast “Deconstructed” released Friday.

In his tweet, Sanders was referring Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Justice Minister, and his forced resignation. Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, replacing him with a loyalist who has echoed the president’s complaints about the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference and will now take charge of the inquiry.

Among all Democrat candidates, Sanders has a lot of motivation to challenge the trump!The fact is, according to polls conducted in 2016, Sanders had a much greater chance of winning the U.S. presidential elections. Many Democratic voters believed that Sanders could have an important role in regulating power in America as a symbol of change in the United States. Although such an idea was wrong due to the political structure in the U.S., it was, however, strongly accepted by some Democrat supporters.

 On the other hand, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate who was supported by her husband, Bill Clinton, and many influential figures in the party, managed to defeat Sanders with her secret lobbies, and went to fight Trump as Democrats’ final candidate. Anyhow, if Sanders were to reach the final round of the 2016 presidential competitions, he could have defeated Trump and enter the White House. Sanders, however, was the victim of Democrat leaders and Hillary Clinton’s secret lobbies. It was not without a reason that many Sanders advocates voted for Hillary Clinton’s rival, Donald Trump!

Ultimately, the tensions between Trump and Sanders in the U.S. presidential election of 2020 will be of great interest to many Americans. If the Sanders win in the Democratic Party, this conflict will become more intense and more serious. A topic that the president of the United States and his entourage are scared of.

First published in our partner Tehran Times

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The collapse of American empire is a warning to Europe

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The wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and threats and violence against Latin America, and imposition of sanctions on various nations, all can deface the United States and its unpopular policy in the international community, set to protect U.S. financial institutions.

Although the U.S. empire has already begun to crumble, U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy has sped the process. The wrong policy of the U.S. administrations has brought the nations to stand against the U.S. led-world order.

The U.S. has turned into the biggest threat to world peace with its duel policies, violence in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, and support for Saudi Arabia and Israel. Obviously, the “regime change” in Venezuela, on the pretext of democracy, is nothing but a cover-up in the U.S. policy to seize Venezuela’s oil reserves.

 American democracy means supporting U.S. foreign policy, privatization of public infrastructure, non-compliance with domestic laws and compliance with U.S.-dominated global institutions. Decades of war and U.S. military intervention, have brought nothing but violence, killing, and destruction on planet earth.  

To the U.S., a country is considered democratic that follows its leadership such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, otherwise, that country is non-democratic and a foe. This policy is challenged by states like Iran, Russia, China, Venezuela and others which don’t bow down to Washington’s policy and seek to defend their own national interest.

Any international control system requires the rule of law to mediate in the world challenges.  However, U.S. diplomacy contradicts international law. The American diplomats claim their better judgment on the world allows other nations to adopt a more prosperous lifestyle, and they don’t allow the intervention of international laws in the U.S. policy and diplomatic system. 

The U.S. has the “power of veto” in the United Nations that enables Washington to prevent the adoption of any “substantive” resolution. In the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), they can easily veto any policy or loan. Without such powers, no international organization will join the United States.

Without having the power of veto, the U.S. doesn’t recognize the verdict of and authorities in the international court of Justice. If sentences issued by The Hague Court oppose the U.S. policy, they will be considered inadmissible to the U.S. For example, the verdicts issued on U.S. war crimes in Iran and Afghanistan, human rights abuse, and illegal sanctions are not recognized by Washington. 

In September of last year, Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton, a hawkish politician, strongly criticized the International Criminal Court and said, “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.”

Senior judge Christoph Flugge from Germany resigned from one of the UN’s international courts in The Hague in objection to the U.S. that had threatened judges after moves were made to examine the conduct of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. 

Bolton vowed that the United States would retaliate by banning ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the U.S., imposing sanctions on any funds they had in the States and prosecuting them in the American court system. “If the court comes after us, Israel, or other U.S. allies we will not sit quietly,” he said, also threatening to impose the same sanctions on any country that aided the investigation. Bolton held a speech last September in which he wished death on the international criminal court. “We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead.”

The central banks of states have long maintained their gold and other monetary reserves in the U.S. and UK. Perhaps the approach seemed logical in 1945; however, the U.S. and UK orchestrated 1953 coup d’état against Mohammad Mosaddegh, Iran’s prime minister, who nationalized Iran’s oil, and the Iranian revolution of 1979 which led to overthrow of the Shah, the American courts blocked Iran’s assets in the U.S. The movements showed that the IMF is an arm of the U.S. Department of State and the Pentagon. In today’s global politics, international finance and foreign investment have become leverage against nations who won’t bow down to U..S policies.

Lately, foreign countries are apprehensive about their gold holdings in the U.S. They know full well that their assets can be blocked unilaterally by the U.S. if Washington’s interests are threatened. That is why in 2017, Germany decided to repatriate half of its gold reserves from the U.S. The U.S. authorities have considered the act an insult to their own civilized state. 

Now, it’s Venezuela’s turn. The country called on the Bank of England to return $1.2 billion of its reserved gold to repair the economy, which has been hurting by the American sanctions.

The Bank of England, however, froze Venezuelan gold asset following Mike Pompeo United States Secretary of State and Bolton’s instruction. Bloomberg wrote that the U.S. handed control of Venezuela’s bank accounts in the U.S. to the opposition leader Juan Guaido to have a better chance to control the self-claimed government. 

In late January, a rumor broke out that a Russian Boeing 777 that had landed in Caracas to spirit away 20 tons of gold from the vaults of the country’s central bank, amounting to $840 million in return for food and medicine. Although Moscow rejected the report, the Nicolás Maduro government has the right to purchase food for the Venezuelans who are under brutal U.S. sanctions by the country’s gold reserve. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio called the act “stealing money” as if Maduro is a criminal for trying to reduce the pressure of U.S. unfair sanctions against his people.  

The European countries, too, have to abide by the U.S. policy, otherwise, they will be threatened to sanctions. For instance, if the European Union wishes to remain committed to the Iran deal, it will have to surrender to the U.S. pressure and sanctions. European states have realized that Bolton and Pompeo’s threats can lead to confiscation of their assets by the U.S.  

The U.S. threats are not merely military but a cyber-attack is a way of confronting an enemy and crashing its economy. The main cyber money transfer is led by Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) which is based in Belgium. Some countries are developing an alternative money transfer system to protect themselves against U.S. threats.
 
In late January, Germany, France, and England launched INSTEX, a trade tool to counter U.S. sanctions in support of trade with Iran and other countries. Although for Iran, INSTEX is nothing but a similar U.S. humanitarian aid to Venezuela, for Europe it may be a way out of U.S. opposition to transporting Russian gas from Nord Stream to the European continent.

The U.S. energy official warned European official of the risk posed by relying too heavily on Russia’s cheap gas and offered plans to sell America’s liquid natural gas (LNG) at a higher price to Europe through ports, which don’t exist for high volume yet. Trump stresses The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members spend two percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on weapons, preferably from the U.S. and not German or French.
 
It seems the IMF is administered from the Pentagon in Washington. Undoubtedly, Europe is aware of losing its international financial ties.
At the funeral of George H. W. Bush, EU diplomats were at the bottom of the list of candidates to sit in their seats; the United States no longer considers the European Union as a credible entity.
 In December, Mike Pompeo delivered a speech on Europe in Brussels, in which he admired the virtues of nationalism, criticized multilateralism and the European Union, and said that “international institutions” that dominated national sovereignty “must be corrected or deleted. 

On Twitter, Pompeo says with a mockery: “Europe was an enemy of Europe. But it was Germany in World Wars 1 and 2. How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”
The idea of creating a European army has been discussed in the European Union. The initial offer was from Germany, and then Macron in the commemoration of the centennial of the end of the First World War in France.

Sigmar Gabriel, former foreign minister of Germany, said in February 2018 at the Foreign Policy Forum in Berlin “that it’s time for Germany and Europe to put their agenda on the agenda because the United States no longer sees the world as a global community or shared interests.

French President Charles de Gaulle long ago believed that no nation could be considered an independent state and ordered the withdrawal of France from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1996.

Europe is at risk and knows it too, but it doesn’t have many options ahead. It has to choose either to use the historic opportunity to gain political, and economic independence, or give in to U.S. policy while it awaits the fall of U.S. which will jeopardize its economic and political future. 

First published in our partner Tehran Times

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