Tag Archives: European Union

Mark Collins – Dragon Devouring Eurotech, German Section–Obama Steps In

Further to this post, the outgoing US president gets tough (our PM noticing?):

Obama Moves to Block Chinese Acquisition of a German Chip Maker

The intervention in a Chinese company’s bid to buy a German semiconductor company, Aixtron [website here], comes after Chinese companies have spent billions to acquire technology in Europe and the United States. American officials have increasingly moved to stop such deals, but Chinese companies have shown growing adeptness in getting around those restrictions to strike up relationships that could someday lead to greater access to technology.

A statement from the Treasury Department said the administration blocked the purchase of the American portion of Aixtron’s business because it posed a national security risk relating to “the military applications of the overall technical body of knowledge and experience of Aixtron.”

It wasn’t clear whether other parts of the deal could be salvaged. Officials at the German chip company and its would-be Chinese buyer, the Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund [website here], did not immediately comment.

By rejecting the deal, the Obama administration showed how far it would go to keep China from using its wallet to acquire sensitive technology from the West. It blocked previous Chinese technology purchases only indirectly, using an advisory panel of government and intelligence officials who can discourage — but not directly kill — foreign deals. That same panel earlier expressed skepticism over the Aixtron deal.

Last year the United States accounted for more than one-fifth of Aixtron’s sales. And nearly one-fifth of its more than 700 employees are based in the United States.

That indirect strategy kept Mr. Obama from looking like a free-trade opponent, especially when the company in question was not American, and softened any potential response from Beijing. But Aixtron and its Chinese suitor tested that strategy by plowing ahead despite the panel’s concerns, forcing Mr. Obama to act…

Related:

Chicom State-Owned Firms’ Investment in US: a Good Thing?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – The Jews, the Holocaust and Poland, Then and Now (and much more)

First a tweet,

plus a post last year:

Jedwabne: A Murderous July 1941 Polish Pogrom–and God?

Then an article at the NY Times Magazine on Poland today more broadly:

The Party That Wants to Make Poland Great Again
In just a year, Law and Justice has shown how a far-right nationalist government in Europe really governs — and how far it can push the limits of democracy.

What liberal “end of history“? And very relevant to the holocaust:

Endlösung

Jews, Twentieth Century Pius Popes and Mussolini

What’s an Intellectual Romanian Jew to do Before WW II?

Boden wenn nicht Blut: Horrible Heidegger, Nazism and Now

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Boden wenn nicht Blut: Horrible Heidegger, Nazism and Now

Martin Heidegger (more here) truly was a nasty piece of work–with nasty foretastes for today? At the London Review of Books:

Great Again
Malcolm Bull

Ponderings II-VI: Black Notebooks, 1931-38 by Martin Heidegger, translated by Richard Rojcewicz
Indiana, 388 pp, £50.00, June, ISBN 978 0 253 02067 3 [see here]

…the truly shocking question posed by the Black Notebooks is not: was Heidegger a Nazi? Or: was Heidegger an anti-Semite? But: would Germany’s greatest 20th-century philosopher have endorsed Donald Trump?

The first two questions have, after all, already been answered satisfactorily. Heidegger joined the Nazi Party in 1933, at a time when few other German philosophers had done so, and as rector of the University of Freiburg in 1933-34 actively sought to align the institution with the goals of the new National Socialist government. His initial enthusiasm waned, but he remained a party member until 1945 and after the Second World War was judged to be a Nazi sympathiser and banned from teaching. Although he was partially rehabilitated in 1951, subsequent scholarship has uncovered nothing that puts the basic facts in a more favourable light, and has served chiefly to highlight the evasiveness of Heidegger and his apologists.

As for anti-Semitism, in 1933 Heidegger wrote to Hannah Arendt that he was ‘as much an anti-Semite today as … ten years ago’; nothing personal of course, but given that, as he told Karl Jaspers, there really was ‘a dangerous international band of Jews’, it was obviously necessary to protect the integrity of German universities. Already worried about ‘Jewification’, he implemented Nazi racial policies in the university, and never expressed any concern about the treatment of the country’s Jewish population. After 1945, he barely referred to the Holocaust at all, save to note that the mechanisation of its production methods set a poor example for postwar German agriculture…

By the end of February 1934, Hitler has been chancellor for a year, and Heidegger is beginning to take stock. There is no self-doubt here: ‘For years I have known myself to be on the right path.’ But there is a nagging sense that the Nazis may not have fully appreciated the importance of his thinking…Nazism can be the vehicle of the coming transformation, but only if it accepts that it ‘can never be the principle of a philosophy but must always be placed under philosophy as the principle’. National Socialism is not a philosophy, it is ‘a barbaric principle. That is its essential character and its possible greatness.’..

…Heidegger sees in Nazism the potential to guide Germany ‘to its greatness’, towards the final goal of ‘the historical greatness of the people in the effectuation and configuration of the powers of being’. How can a barbaric principle like Nazism achieve this? Not directly, but the ultimate goal can only be approached by a series of stages. The greatness of the people assumes ‘the coming to themselves of the people … through the state’ [Holy Hegel!]…

Heidegger maintained that Oswald Spengler’s thesis The Decline of the West [see here], was mistaken not because there was any ground for optimism about the future of the West, but because true decline or ‘downgoing’ is the precondition of the other beginning, the experience of the abandonment of being, and the West as a whole lacks the strength for it [my unterganging posts here]. For the Germans, however, it is a possibility: ‘This people, as a historical people, must transpose itself … into the originary realm of the powers of Being,’ because the acceptance of ‘the distant injunction of the beginning awaits them alone.’ The greatness of the other beginning can only be realised by ‘a seizing of, and persevering in, the innermost and outermost mission of what is German’.

Seizing Germanness means becoming indigenous, becoming ‘the one who derives from native soil, is nourished by it, stands on it’…This may sound like the Nazi idyll of blood and soil, but for Heidegger race is a necessary but not a sufficient condition: the Germans may have a historical essence, but they may still ‘abandon it – organise it away’. He is therefore at pains to distance himself from those who preach race and indigenousness, while being themselves conspicuously ill-bred and deracinated. Indigenousness is something that has to be nurtured ‘from its own resources in poetry and thinking’.

Scientific racism proved to be the issue that forced Heidegger to distance himself from the Nazis – not because it was racist, but because it was scientific…he realised that he had misjudged ‘the type and magnitude of the greatness that belonged to it’. Nazism actually represented the culmination of modernity rather than a move beyond it. The technologism of modernity (scientific racism was only one manifestation) which he sometimes referred to as ‘machination’ or ‘gigantism’, was not the way to greatness but rather ‘the genuine antigod of what is great’.

Nazism, with its rigid scientific racism and unbridled appetite for technological development, may have proved a disappointment to Heidegger, but the more modest, ostensibly post-racial nationalisms of the early 21st century would have seemed to him far more promising…

There follows an analysis of Trumpism and globalization and its discontents, then at the end of the article:

…What makes the current moment unique is that the ontological decline of the West has fallen into step with the decline in income differentials, and attachment to place isn’t just a matter of becoming indigenous and making yourself at home in the world, but of stubborn attachment to a particular position in the global economic order. For anyone living in the West who is not in the highest 1 per cent of global income, there is an economic incentive to think in Heideggerian terms; to stand firm on native soil and claim citizenship rent.

When Heidegger realised that the Nazis were going to be less receptive to ‘spiritual National Socialism’ than he had hoped, he gradually retreated from the political fray. But he nevertheless vowed to ‘remain in the invisible front of the secret spiritual Germany’, one of ‘the future ones’ who would stand ‘simply, silently, relentlessly and deeply rooted’, preparing the transition to the other beginning. The future he anticipated is now…

What is to be done? Earlier at the New Yorker:

Is Heidegger Contaminated by Nazism?
By Joshua Rothman, April 28, 2014

…It’s impossible to disavow Heidegger’s thinking: it is too useful, and too influential, to be marginalized. (A few weeks ago, when I pulled “The Essence of Truth” down from my bookshelves, I found it as compelling as I had a decade ago.) But it’s also impossible to set aside Heidegger’s sins—and they cannot help but reduce the ardency with which his readers relate to him. Philosophers like to play it cool, but the truth is that intellectual life depends on passion. You don’t spend years working your way through “Being and Time” because you’re idly interested. You do it because you think that, by reading it, you might learn something precious and indispensable. The black notebooks, however seriously you take them, are a betrayal of that ardency. They make it harder to care about—and, therefore, to really know—Heidegger’s ideas. Even if his philosophy isn’t contaminated by Nazism, our relationship with him is…

Shame we have no magazines in Canada like those.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Der Untergang des Abendlandes, Putin and “transgender bathroom rights” Section

At the end of an opinion piece at the Wall St. Journal:

The Vladimir Putin Test
The strongman’s appeal reveals a lot about today’s liberal democracies…

Under President Obama, Angela Merkel, François Hollande and the like, the liberal vision really has been reduced to fighting for transgender bathroom rights as the world burns. For Mr. Obama, liberal order really does mean endless multilateralism and diplomatic procedure for their own sake. The European equivalent, pressed by the likes of Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Hollande, is the idea of “more Europe,” more European Union “norms” and bureaucracy, as the solution to every crisis.

Liberal leaders couldn’t afford to look so feeble for so long without making the liberal-democratic model look feeble—and the Putinist alternative decisive and strong [via  @FredLitwin]

Though I think the French are perhaps the least feeble, e.g. here and here. They still believe in raison d’etat, don’t you know. More unterganging.

Now consider the WEIRD perspective.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Peak Growth: Great Economic Upsides in US and Western Europe–Once(ish) and Done?

The precursor to the considerations below was the original British Industrial Revolution. Two pieces on unique historical times of Peak Growth; how might that ever return?

1) Why Growth Will Fall

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The US Standard of Living Since the Civil War

Robert Gordon has written a magnificent book on the economic history of the United States over the last one and a half centuries. His study focuses on what he calls the “special century” from 1870 to 1970—in which living standards increased more rapidly than at any time before or after. The book is without peer in providing a statistical analysis of the uneven pace of growth and technological change, in describing the technologies that led to the remarkable progress during the special century, and in concluding with a provocative hypothesis that the future is unlikely to bring anything approaching the economic gains of the earlier period.

The message of Rise and Fall is this. For most of human history, economic progress moved at a crawl…

I have read the book; certainly one of those most worth the read over the last decade.

2) Why the Economy Doesn’t Roar Anymore: The long boom after World War II left Americans with unrealistic expectations, but there’s no going back to that unusual Golden Age


Historically, boom times are the exception, not the norm. That isn’t true just in America. Over the past two centuries, per capita incomes in all advanced economies, from Sweden to Japan, have grown at compound rates of around 1.5% to 2% a year. Some memorable years were much better, of course…

…Americans expect the economy to be buoyant, not boring. Yet this expectation is shaped not by prosaic economic realities but by a most unusual period in history: the quarter-century that began in the ashes of World War II [and before the Great Depression, see 1) above], when the world economy performed better than at any time before or since…

growth.jpg


The quarter-century from 1948 to 1973 was the most striking stretch of economic advance in human history. In the span of a single generation, hundreds of millions [?] of people were lifted from penury to unimagined riches [in Western Europe not exactly penury, the war aside, but still a huge advance for the, er, masses: for West Germany see here and here (article at 2) via @FredLitwin)]…

Sunny ways ahead for the West, including Japan? And China? Still, if we–humanity–do not destroy and regress, are we not so much better placed than ever before? On verra.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Fall 2016 Issue of CGAI’s “The Dispatch”

The table of contents:

Message from the Editor
by DAVID BERCUSON

Brexit, the Anglosphere and Canada 
by JULIAN LINDLEY-FRENCH

The Obama Moment—Defence Spending Does Matter, eh!
by ALAN STEPHENSON

Are Canada’s Digital Security Policies Being Decided in Washington?
by NEIL DESAI

Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy: Time for a Reset! 
by JOHN ADAMS

Time for Canada to Shine in Space Diplomacy
by CHARITY WEEDEN

For Today’s Peacekeeping, Prepare for War
by ELINOR SLOAN

NATO and Canada’s National Interests
by MIKE DAY

Reviewing the Summer of the Defence Review
by STEPHEN SAIDEMAN

The Inevitable End of the Turkish-Western Alliance
by KYLE MATTHEWS

New Canadian Government Talking the Talk on Climate Change
by DAVID MCLAUGHLIN

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Forget Brexit, Western Economic Growth Sucks

Dismal, dismal, dismal (Neil Young in mind)–assuming the Rising Sun is Western–a tweet:

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Dragon Devouring Eurotech, German Section

Chinese  business and government combine to take down and take over a firm–at the NY Times:

Rush of Chinese Investment in Europe’s High-Tech Firms Is Raising Eyebrows

After a customer canceled a large order at the last minute, shares in Aixtron, a German high-tech company [website here], sank fast. Months later, with the stock still reeling, a Chinese investor agreed to buy the company.

If only it were as simple as smart deal-making.

Financial filings and public statements indicate a web of relationships among the customer, the buyer and the Chinese state. The links highlight the blurred lines between increasingly acquisitive Chinese companies and Beijing’s long-term industrial policy.

“The Aixtron case makes it very clear: It is not regular investment that is at work here,” said Sebastian Heilmann, president of the Mercator Institute for China Studies, a think tank based in Berlin. “Instead, we see governmental-program capital working behind the scenes.”

Chinese leaders have made clear their intention of using state funds to acquire technological capabilities overseas and bring them home, and a series of purchases in recent years have highlighted that strategy.

That has led to questions about how to treat bids that cross between private investment and state-orchestrated takeovers. It has also fed into broader suspicions about the fate of the takeover targets, and whether national champions will ultimately be absorbed into the supply chain in China. Aixtron — one of a growing number of European businesses with cutting-edge technologies that have recently been targeted by a surge in Chinese overseas investment — provides a case study…

Chinese companies bearing checkbooks have generally been welcomed in Europe. They have provided a source of fresh capital for ailing European enterprises, like the Swedish carmaker Volvo, the Italian tire maker Pirelli, the French resort operator Club Med, and the port in Piraeus, Greece.

But deals over the past two years — which last year hit a record 20 billion euros, or $22.4 billion, according to a survey by Rhodium Group and the Mercator Institute — have begun targeting leading-edge companies with crucial technologies and iconic brand names.

Anxieties are perhaps most acute in Germany, which has had Aixtron and the well-known robotics company Kuka — whose technology is ubiquitous in German car factories — both go to Chinese bidders this year. Largely because of those two deals, Germany has become the largest recipient of Chinese investment in Europe thus far in 2016, according to the Mercator Institute.

In the United States, a number of Chinese bids for chip companies have been undone by regulatory concerns. Regulators thwarted an overture by San’an for an American semiconductor company, and the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is reviewing the Aixtron bid.

By contrast, European laws give politicians few avenues to block acquisitions, though that has not stopped them from trying…

Now see what happened in 2013:

Canadian Government Came Through on BlackBerry No-Go for Lenovo

But what would the investment landscape here be if the current government negotiates a major trade deal with China? Have a look at this article by a very experienced Canadian businessman:

Comment: Why Canada should avoid free trade with China
Gwyn Morgan [more here]…

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Michael Ignatieff on Liberal (small “l”) Dreams and Central European Realities

Some honest realism from a failed Canadian politician still hard at trying to make a positive difference:

Michael Ignatieff’s journey from politician to academic freedom fighter

Michael Ignatieff [his website is here] the academic is in the middle of unwinding a thought about why the refugee crisis looks different in Central Europe than it does in Canada…

…The new post he begins this fall as president and rector of the famed Central European University in the Hungarian capital of Budapest [website here] is about as politically charged a job there is right now in the world of academia…

The CEU is renowned as one of the most important centres of liberal thought east of the former Iron Curtain. The university was launched in 1991, two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a time when most believed Europe’s fate had been decided, and that liberal democracy had definitively won the argument against more authoritarian forms of government.

Founded and funded by George Soros, the Hungarian-born billionaire philanthropist, the CEU was envisioned as a breeding ground for future generations of leaders, all theoretically sharing Mr. Soros’s vision of an “open society” of free speech and free markets…

Mr. Ignatieff was also drawn to Budapest and the CEU by the fact his wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar, is Hungarian-born. While Mr. Ignatieff says Ms. Zsohar was initially reticent to return to a country she left in 1970, her background and family connections give him a useful window into the culture.

He believes those ties have helped him understand why democracy in Hungary and other parts of Central Europe will necessarily look different than in North America.

Hungary and its neighbours are not the multicultural societies that Canada and the United States are. Mr. Ignatieff is a huge fan of Syrian refugee resettlement program launched by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his successor as Liberal leader. But, Mr. Ignatieff says, such an effort would be ill-suited for the more ethnically homogenous countries of Central Europe, which were founded as national homelands following the collapse of the multiethnic empires of the 19th Century [yikes! those empires existed before the 19th century and actually collapsed after World War I and 1918–see the end of this post: “Wilson, World War I and Counter-Factuals: No Third Reich, No Soviet Union but…“].

“The starting point for political reflection in this part of the world is, you know, Hungary for Hungarians, Poland for Poles, the Czech Republic for Czechs. These are parts of the world where democracy means national self-determination by big, preponderant majorities.”

“Liberals inside [Central European] societies are increasingly going to be marginalized politically unless they have an answer… [in a] language that says ‘we have a national identity, we are proud of it, you come into this country you have to integrate, you have to learn our language, there is one law for everybody, right, and we will decide how many people come in.’ It’s a tough liberal language,” he said. “It’s a language that liberals have had trouble using [it all depends on what the meaning of “liberal” is, eh?].”..

Gosharootie, not exactly sunny ways, what? Rather relevant:

No “End of History”, “Collapse of the Liberal World Order” Section

Earlier posts here related to Mr Ignatieff. He tweets @M_Ignatieff.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Turkey Update: EU, US, ISIS, Syria (Kurds), Israel

Turkey certainly has an awful lot to cope with these days–both internally and externally–and many feel beleaguered indeed:

1) EU is humiliating Turkey rather than helping: Turkish FM: ‘Despite Turkey’s years of efforts spent for becoming an EU member, Europe only threatens’ says Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the European Union was humiliating Ankara instead of supporting Turkey following the July 15 bloody coup attempt.

In an interview with the German daily, Bild, Çavuşoğlu said the EU only threatens Ankara despite all efforts to become a member of the 28-state bloc and obtain visa free travel. He stated the Turkish nation was “traumatized” by the failed putsch on July 15, but Europe did not stand beside them…

2) Turkey [not government] blames U.S. for coup attempt

ISTANBUL — In the wake of the weekend coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turks increasingly point to a culprit outside their country’s borders: the United States.

“It’s all America’s fault,” said Erkan Gul, 22, a sandwich shop worker. His evidence is the U.S. haven granted to Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan blames for orchestrating the failed military coup…

3) Erdoğan blames Isis for suspected suicide attack at wedding in Gaziantep: Turkish president says bombing that killed more than 50 people and wounded nearly 100 was carried out by child aged 12-14

4) Turkey announces more active role in Syria conflict: Prime minister Binali Yildirim says he wants to prevent the war-torn country being divided along ethnic lines

Turkey will take a more active role in addressing the conflict in Syria in the next six months to prevent the war-torn country being divided along ethnic lines, the prime minister, Binali Yildirim, has said.

Yildirim also said that while the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, could have a role in the interim leadership, he must play no part in its future.

Syria’s five-year conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension, with Kurdish groups carving out their own regions and periodically battling groups from Syria’s Arab majority, whose priority is to overthrow Assad.

Turkey fears the strengthening of Kurdish militant groups in Syria will further embolden its own Kurdish insurgency, which flared anew following the collapse of a ceasefire between militants and the state last year.

“Turkey will be more active in the Syria issue in the coming six months as a regional player. This means to not allow Syria to be divided on any ethnic base; for Turkey this is crucial,” Yildirim said…

5) Turkish parliament approves deal ending rift with Israel [one opportunity knocking for those who feel the need of friends]

Turkey’s parliament approved a reconciliation agreement signed with Israel in June which has brought to an end a six-year rift between the two regional powers, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Saturday [Aug 20]…

Both countries are to appoint ambassadors under an agreement which is partly driven by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals.

The accord, signed on June 28, was a rare rapprochement in the divided Middle East, also driven by mutual fears over growing security risks. Two weeks afterwards more than 240 people were killed in an attempted coup in Turkey…

Earlier:

Turkey Through the Magnificent Mirror of the Sublime Erdogan

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds