Opinion | Greece Is the Good News Story in Europe – By Roger Cohen – The New York Times

Greek resilience through crisis demonstrates that reports of democracy’s demise are exaggerated.

Roger Cohen

By Roger Cohen

Opinion Columnist

Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a rally in Athens on Thursday.CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times

“ATHENS — If you’re looking for an optimistic story in Europe, try Greece. Yes, you read that right. Having lost a quarter of its economy in a devastating recession, Greece has turned the corner, its democracy intact, its extremist temptations defeated and its anti-Americanism defunct.

The landslide election on Sunday of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the dynamic leader of the center-right New Democracy party, marked the end of a chapter. Greece rejected Alexis Tsipras, the leftist leader who took the country to the brink of ruin in 2015 before discovering a pragmatic streak. It also voted the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn out of Parliament. At the height of the crisis, Golden Dawn had become the country’s third-largest party.

First into populism, Greece is now first out. For a country in free fall, the anchors of the European Union and NATO are not so negligible after all. Europe is not simply a story of growing nationalism and xenophobia. It’s a continent in violent flux, torn between liberal democratic and nativist currents.

Despite unemployment that reached almost 30 percent, a chaotic near-exit from the euro, huge bailouts to save it from bankruptcy, mandated austerity programs and a wave of desperate refugees from Syria, Greece stabilized itself. It’s a reminder that reports of democracy’s demise are exaggerated.”

Opinion | Hong Kong Has Nothing Left to Lose – The New York Times

By Louisa Lim

Ms. Lim, the author of “The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited,” is writing a book about Hong Kong.

A protester in the Hong Kong legislative chamber on Monday.CreditAnthony Kwan/Getty Images
ImageA protester in the Hong Kong legislative chamber on Monday.
CreditCreditAnthony Kwan/Getty Images

HONG KONG — After breaking into Hong Kong’s legislature, protesters left a message for Carrie Lam, the city’s top government official, spray-painted on a pillar: “It was you who taught me that peaceful protests are futile.”

To the young activists, the storming of the Legislative Council was an act of desperation. Three times in the past month, tremendous numbers of Hong Kongers — at one point estimated to be more than two million — marched peacefully to protest against a controversial extradition bill with China, which they fear would undermine Hong Kong’s judiciary and its freedom. The government suspended but did not withdraw the law. It did not even meet representatives of those who marched.

I was among the journalists covering the break-in of the building, and I watched as protesters ripped metal bars from the side of the building to smash their way through the windows. Their actions seemed like a breathtaking act of defilement of one of Hong Kong’s institutions.

Opinion | Why China No Longer Needs Hong Kong – By Eswar S. Prasad – The New York Times

By Eswar S. Prasad

Mr. Prasad is a professor at Cornell University and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The national flag of China, left, and the Hong Kong flag this week. The size of China’s financial markets now dwarfs that of Hong Kong’s.CreditVivek Prakash/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“For many years after regaining control of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997, China mostly respected the territory’s institutions. That is no longer the case, as Beijing’s heavy hand during the recent protests in the city has made obvious.

So what changed? In 1997, China needed Hong Kong. China had not yet been allowed to join the World Trade Organization, so Chinese exporters had limited access to the global market. Hong Kong was the solution: It served as a channel for entrepôt trade — goods from China could enter the territory’s ports and then be sent as exports from Hong Kong to the rest of the world, thus evading the trade restrictions imposed by member nations on nations outside the organization.

When China became part of the trade organization in 2001, entrepôt trade through Hong Kong lost its importance. By some estimates, nearly half of China’s trade went through Hong Kong in 1997, today that figure is less than 12 percent.

In terms of total size and wealth, Hong Kong has also shrunk relative to China, which has experienced more than three decades of astoundingly high economic growth. In 1997, Hong Kong’s economy was one-fifth the size of China’s, and its per capita income was 35 times higher. By 2018, Hong Kong’s economy was barely one-thirtieth the size of China’s. Hong Kong is still richer, but the gap is narrowing, with its per capita income now five times higher than China’s.”

Opinion | Trump Takes On China and Persia at Once. What’s to Worry About? – The New York Times

 

Thomas L. Friedman

By Thomas L. Friedman

Opinion Columnist

“If you’re keeping score at home on the Trump foreign policy, let me try to put it in a nutshell: The president has engaged America in a grand struggle to reshape the modern behavior of two of the world’s oldest civilizations — Persia and China — at the same time.

Pressing both to change is not crazy. What’s crazy is the decision to undertake such a huge endeavor without tightly defined goals, without allies to achieve those goals, without a strong and coherent national security team and without a plan on how to sync up all of President Trump’s competing foreign policy objectives.

After all, Trump is unilaterally breaking the 2015 denuclearization deal with Iran’s dictator while trying to entice North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, into a denuclearization deal that he’s supposed to trust the U.S. president will honor. Trump is sanctioning China on trade while trying to enlist its help to denuclearize North Korea. Trump is imposing steel and aluminum tariffs on America’s European allies while needing their help to confront China on trade and Iran on nukes.

And last week Trump came within 10 minutes of bombing Iran — but wisely pulled back — in retaliation for its shooting down of a U.S. drone, at a time when we cannot stabilize Iraq, or get out of Afghanistan without leaving chaos behind, absent the cooperation of Iran.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment.
Thank you Thomas Friedman, great essay, and great points. I don’t have the space and time here to repeat all those points, but it is interesting how the commentors criticize and attack you for thinking that Trump can listen to or take good advice. I’m not a fan of Drumpf, but he is brilliant as a con artist and crook, who has shown that he can dominate the press like few ever have. Furthermore, he has a brand to protect. I agree with your main point, that we can settle with Iran and should, extending the nuclear treaty by more years, for lifting the sanctions and maintaining a long, awkward peace. Your points about China are equally cogent. China poses a serious threat to the United States and the world, as well as a fine opportunity. I share in your unspoken grief. We had the beginning of a plan of action, with the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership, and we will have to return to such a proactive and intelligent diplomacy, even it it is to be called, at least temporarily, the Trump Pacific Partnership.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.net. He performs a folk concert of songs and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Opinion | The World Grows More Dangerous by the Day – By François Delattre – The New York Times

By François Delattre

Mr. Delattre is France’s ambassador to the United Nations.

François Delattre speaking at an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria at the U.N. headquarters in New York, last year.CreditEduardo Munoz/Reuters

“My experience at the United Nations Security Council over the last five years has led me to see a harsh truth: The world is growing more dangerous and less predictable by the day. While the tectonic plates of power are shifting under our feet, driven in no small part by the combined effects of a technology revolution and the rise of China, we are also witnessing the return of heightened competition among the major powers.

We are now in a new world disorder. The three main safety mechanisms are no longer functioning: no more American power willing to be the last-resort enforcer of international order; no solid system of international governance; and, most troubling, no real concert of nations able to re-establish common ground.

As I prepare to return to Paris after almost 20 years as a diplomat in North America, nearly half of them serving consecutively as France’s ambassador to the United States and to the United Nations, I feel the need to share these personal conclusions. The situation today is objectively dangerous. Each serious international crisis has the potential to spin out of control. That is what we saw happen in Syria and what we need to prevent with Iran and North Korea, and in the South China Sea.

In the absence of a functioning multilateral system, the world tends to devolve into spheres of influence; that leads of confrontation, as European history has shown too many times. The risk is even greater when geopolitical divides are superimposed on the technological battle between American- and Chinese-led digital worlds.”

David Lindsay: Thank you Fracois Delattre.

How long until Trump leaves

Time until trump leaves office. 590. days. : 02. hours. : 59. minutes. : 54. seconds. 

How long has Trumpbeen President? 870. days.

Opinion | Hong Kong and the Future of Freedom – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

Protesters faced off against the police in Hong Kong on Wednesday.CreditDale De La Rey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Imagine if in 2018 the Trump administration had proposed legislation that would allow the government, on nearly any pretext, to detain, try and imprison Americans accused of wrongdoing at secretive black sites scattered across the country.

Imagine, further, that 43 million Americans had risen in protest, only to be met by tear gas and rubber bullets while Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan rushed the bill through a pliant Congress. Finally, imagine that there was no effective judiciary ready to stop the bill and uphold the Constitution.

That, approximately, is what’s happening this week in Hong Kong.

An estimated one million people — nearly one in seven city residents — have taken to the streets to protest legislation that would allow local officials to arrest and extradite to the mainland any person accused of one of 37 types of crime. Political offenses are, in theory, excluded from the list, but nobody is fooled: Contriving criminal charges against political opponents is child’s play for Beijing, which can then make its victims disappear indefinitely until they are brought to heel.

In 2015, mainland authorities abducted five Hong Kong booksellersknown for selling politically sensitive titles and held them in solitary confinement for months until they pleaded guilty to various offenses. In 2017 Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua was abducted by Chinese authorities from the Four Seasons in Hong Kong. He hasn’t been seen publicly since, while his company is being stripped of its holdings.”

How ISIS Is Rising in the Philippines as It Dwindles in the Middle East – The New York Times

“BASILAN, the Philippines — Across the islands of the southern Philippines, the black flag of the Islamic State is flying over what the group considers its East Asia province.

Men in the jungle, two oceans away from the arid birthplace of the Islamic State, are taking the terrorist brand name into new battles.

As worshipers gathered in January for Sunday Mass at a Catholic cathedral, two bombs ripped through the church compound, killing 23 people. The Islamic State claimed a pair of its suicide bombers had caused the carnage.

An illustration circulated days later on Islamic State chat groups, showing President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines kneeling on a pile of skulls and a militant standing over him with a dagger. The caption on the picture sounded a warning: “The fighting has just begun.” “

DL: I heard a report on NPR today, 6/13/19, on the devastation of Marawi, which is mentioned further in this news story.

Marawi, after ISIS take over, and then battle to drive them out.

Opinion |  – By Roger Cohen – The New York Times

Roger Cohen

By Roger Cohen

Opinion Columnist

President Trump and other world leaders looking on as Queen Elizabeth II arrived for a D-Day commemorative event in Portsmouth, England, on Wednesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“PARIS — How small he is! Small in spirit, in valor, in dignity, in statecraft, this American president who knows nothing of history and cares still less and now bestrides Europe with his family in tow like some tin-pot dictator with a terrified entourage.

To have Donald Trump — the bone-spur evader of the Vietnam draft, the coddler of autocrats, the would-be destroyer of the European Union, the pay-up-now denigrator of NATO, the apologist for the white supremacists of Charlottesville — commemorate the boys from Kansas City and St. Paul who gave their lives for freedom is to understand the word impostor. You can’t make a sculpture from rotten wood.

It’s worth saying again. If Europe is whole and free and at peace, it’s because of NATO and the European Union; it’s because the United States became a European power after World War II; it’s because America’s word was a solemn pledge; it’s because that word cemented alliances that were not zero-sum games but the foundation for stability and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.

Of this, Trump understands nothing. Therefore he cannot comprehend the sacrifice at Omaha Beach 75 years ago. He cannot see that the postwar trans-Atlantic achievement — undergirded by the institutions and alliances he tramples upon with such crass truculence — was in fact the vindication of those young men who gave everything.”

Opinion | What I Learned Leading the Tiananmen Protests – by Wang Dan – The New York Times

 

“On June 3, after my proposal to retreat from the square had been overruled by other student leaders, I went back to my university dorm to rest. Friends phoned me late that night with the news that soldiers had opened fire on protesters, and I fell into a state of shock. We never believed that the leadership would use force, because we had been pushing for the Communist Party to improve itself, not to surrender power.

During my weeks in hiding, I watched on television as my fellow activists were captured one by one. I decided to go back to Beijing, knowing that I, too, would be caught. The police found me on July 2, and arrested me after a car chase. “Little Wang has been caught!” one officer phoned his boss in excitement.

I spent three years and seven months in prison. My heart was often laden with guilt and sorrow. A large number of students and Beijing residents had died during the bloody crackdown. I felt partly responsible.

Opinion | What if We’re All Coming Back? – The New York Times

Introducing the newest op-ed writer for the New York Times, Michelle Alexander, who writes:
“I can’t say that I believe in reincarnation, but I understand why some people do. In fact, I had a bizarre experience as a teenager that made me wonder if I had known someone in a past life.”
“, , , , This month, the world’s leading climate scientists released a report warning of catastrophic consequences as soon as 2040 if global warming increases at its current rate. Democratic politicians expressed alarm, yet many continue to accept campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry that is responsible for such a large percentage of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s nearly impossible to imagine that our elected officials would be so indifferent if they knew climate scientists were foretelling a future that they would have to live without any of the privileges they now enjoy.”