Thursday, 12 July 2018

Donald Trump in Brussels

Trump's False Arguments Will Not Sell Well In Europe

11 July, 2017

Donald Trump, the 'America First' salesman, came to Brussels today to demand more tribute to the empire. He wants Europe to buy more U.S. made weapons and to use U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG). But his arguments are all wrong. The people in Europe are not impressed by them and they will reject his appeals.

His first talk in Brussels was a profoundly wrong bashing of Germany to push it into buying very expensive LNG from U.S. fracking producers. Trump, Putin's puppet according to the 'resistance', used the Russian bogeyman to set the scene:
Well, I have to say, I think it’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where you’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.  
So we’re protect you against Russia, but they’re paying billions of dollars to Russia, and I think that’s very inappropriate. And the former Chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that’s supplying the gas. Ultimately, Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas.
So you tell me, is that appropriate? I mean, I’ve been complaining about this from the time I got in. It should have never been allowed to have happened. But Germany is totally controlled by Russia, because they will be getting from 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline. 

Now, if you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia because they supply. They got rid of their coal plants. They got rid of their nuclear. They’re getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia.

I think trade is wonderful. I think energy is a whole different story. I think energy is a much different story than normal trade. And you have a country like Poland that won’t accept the gas. You take a look at some of the countries — they won’t accept it, because they don’t want to be captive to Russia. But Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia, because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia. So we’re supposed to protect Germany, but they’re getting their energy from Russia. Explain that. And it can’t be explained — you know that.

Trump was talking about the Nordstream II pipeline which will supply Germany and other European countries with natural gas from Russia.

Nord Stream I has been operating for a while. Nord Stream II is currently build by private Austrian and German companies.
The big advantage for Germany is that these pipelines do not run through any other country. Other pipelines from Russia, built in the 1970s,  run through the Ukraine and Poland to Germany. They are used by all three countries to receive gas from Russia.

Whenever the Ukraine has no money to pay Russia for gas and does not pay its dues, Russia will send less gas through the pipeline. The gas for Germany and Poland is supposed to continue to flow without the Ukraine taking any of it. But the Ukrainians cheat. They steal the gas that is supposed to pass through without paying for it. In the end Germany has to give money to the Ukraine so that the Ukraine can pay Russia. This happened in 2006, in 2008 and again in 2014.
Enough is enough. Nord Stream prevents such blackmail of Germany by the Ukraine. That is the main reason why the Ukraine lobbies against it.
Poland is not rejecting gas from Russia even as it claims to do so. It has a long term contract with Russia and will receive plenty of gas through the Ukraine pipeline up to at least 2022. Since 2014 it also imports gas from Germany through the new bi-directional pipeline pumping station at Mallnow. 

Germany receives the gas its exports to Poland through the Nord Stream system from Russia and pumps it through the Opal pipeline and Mallnow to Poland. It is extremely hypocritical for Poland to lobby against Nord Stream when it significantly contributes to Poland's energy security.
Trump claims that Germany "will be getting from 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline". Of the primary energy Germany uses only some 20% come from natural gas. Less than 40% of the natural gas Germany uses comes from Russia. Thus Russia delivers 7-8% of the primary energy Germany uses. If need be Germany can do without this. It is not a strategic issue.

Trump also claims of Germany: "They got rid of their coal plants. They got rid of their nuclear." Germany did not get rid of its coal plants. It builds new ones with higher efficiencies. Germany is phasing out nuclear energy. It will not build new nuclear plants. But there are currently still nine nuclear plants running. Their planned shutdown date is 2022 but this will likely be extended. Without nuclear power it will be extremely difficult to reach the set greenhouse gas limit.

Trump has the facts, as usual, all wrong. But the U.S. is producing more natural gas than it needs and wants to export it. Compressing the U.S. natural gas into liquefied form for sea transport takes so much energy that the price is inevitably much higher than Russian gas delivered through pipelines. In Germany it will never be competitive to Russian gas. It is understandable that Trump wants Germany to buy U.S. produced liquefied gas. But without competitive pricing and a more plausible sales argument he will have no luck.
Trump took an even bigger shot at all European NATO countries when he demanded that they commit to spending 4% of their GDP on defense. He hopes that they will buy more U.S. produced military systems. The demand is ludicrous. Parliaments decide how much a country spends on defense. 

Parliamentarians want to get reelected. Only 15% of Germans agree with increasing the defense budget to 2% of the German GPD. For most of them even 1.5% is already too much. A plurality wants U.S. troops to leave. There is no way that NATO countries can or will agree to 4%.
That said I am all for spending 4% on defense - but under one condition. Health is a security issue. Healthcare is the defense from death. We need to nationalize our healthcare systems and let the defense departments run them.
The U.S. military is the biggest socialist organization of the world. It is egalitarian and its citizens, i.e. the soldiers, are extremely well cared for. It runs its own healthcare system through the Veterans Health Administration.
NATO countries could adopt the VHA system and extend it to their populations. Under that condition 4% of GDP for 'defense' will indeed be a good deal.

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