Get out your atlas. You will likely need it when you read farther here about the intriguing but little known story in a lesser known part of Alpine Europe: Italy’s northern territory of Alto Adige, better known as South Tyrol. I used an atlas for geographical details about the borderlands with which this article deals and where I have spent long periods. For it’s the details—often geographical—that will confound you every time. Such details make you aware that military planners of national strategy never spend enough time with their atlases. Over much of my lifetime I have passed through these border territories countless times, from north to south, south to north and yet I still discover new things about them.
The “Christmas Truce of 1914” was a short-lived, unofficial lull in combat between two antagonistic rival forces, determined to exercise military, political and economic supremacy over each other in Europe and in the colonized world, to which these imperial powers lay arrogant false claim. One of the bloodiest episodes in human history, World War I was largely played out on the battle-scarred lands of France and Belgium, starting in August of 1914.
World leaders gathered in Paris on Sunday under the Arc de Triomphe to mark the centennial anniversary ending World War I. In an absurd way, the Napoleon-era arc was a fitting venue – because the ceremony and the rhetoric from President Emmanuel Macron was a “triumph” of lies and platitudes.
One trait of imperial decadence is untrammeled hubris. Given the increasingly arrant arrogance on display by United States’ officials, public figures and news media we can safely conclude that this empire is accelerating into decadence.
You can’t really blame Trump for treating European leaders with contempt. Frankly, it’s because they deserve it, and Trump knows it.
This week, the American president joins European allies at the NATO summit in Brussels, and the gathering is expected to be a bruising one. The Europeans are fearing a drubbing from Trump over financial commitments.
The US-led NATO military alliance earlier this month committed to a major escalation in force buildup on Russia’s western flank. The development underscores Russia’s long-held concern that the 29-member alliance is inevitably moving dangerously on a war footing.
This week sees a flurry of diplomatic efforts by Iran, China, Russia and the European Union to salvage the international nuclear accord following US President Trump’s violation of the UN-backed treaty.
This time of year Mediterranean beaches are the destinations of choice for many European holidaymakers; it’s also the beginning of the busiest time of year for the people smugglers based in Libya and elsewhere along the North African coast. July to October is their peak season — during this time in 2016 around 103,000 refugees were crammed into unsafe boats, often in the dead of night, and cast off into the Mediterranean Sea.
When US President Donald Trump addressed the opening of the NATO summit last week, it was an embarrassing display of American bullying. As Trump lectured the other leaders of the military alliance about laggardly financial commitments, there was much shuffling of feet and grimacing of faces. There were also contemptuous smirks as the president spoke.
War has indeed become perpetual and peace no longer even a fleeting wish nor a distant memory. We have become habituated to the rumblings of war and the steady drum beat of propaganda about war’s necessity and the noble motives that inspire it. We will close hospitals. We will close schools. We will close libraries and museums. We will sell off our parklands and water supply. People will sleep on the streets and go hungry. The war machine will go on.
This being the age of public relations, the genteel term “public-private partnership” is used instead of corporate plunder. A “partnership” such deals may be, but it isn’t the public who gets the benefits.
with Chris Hedges
RT America on Dec 11, 2016
On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges discusses the damage done to Europe by neoliberal policies with Philipp Ther, author of “Europe Since 1989: A History”. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil looks at the current rise of the far right in Europe spawned by neoliberalism.