The Sun reports that, as a freshman parliamentarian, Jeremy Corbyn was targeted for recruitment by the Czech secret police in 1986 and met at least three times with an intelligence officer posing as a diplomat.
Corbyn says he never knowingly consorted with an East Bloc agent, but John Schindler, an intelligence expert, points out that only one year before the Labour politician was approached, Britain had expelled 25 Soviet “diplomats” who were really KGB officers “and the high-profile case got nonstop coverage in the British media.”
For Corbyn not to have considered the possibility he might be meeting with a spy would have been incredibly naive.
Moreover, Czech human rights abuses under communism were well-known even at the time. What was Corbyn thinking?
Corbyn, I’m sure, will argue it’s important to hear both sides. That’s what he said when he was asked to defend inviting Hamas and Hezbollah representatives to London in 2009. Except he never invited or met with Israeli representatives, just as he didn’t seek meetings with American officials during the Cold War.
Corbyn has a long history of instinctively siding with enemies of his country and the West, from Irish republican terrorists to Fidel Castro to Hugo Chávez to Muammar Gaddafi. Michael J. Totten wrote a good overview in The Atlantic last year. That’s what makes the Czech spy story, despite coming from the notoriously sensationalist The Sun, so believable. Read more
American president Donald Trump and his allies have come up with various defenses in the Russia scandal: There was no collusion; Collusion isn’t a crime anyway; The FBI is biased; Trump had every right to fire James Comey; And what about Hillary Clinton?
EU Defense Union Worries Americans, Social Democrats Rally the Troops
Americans continue to worry that closer defense cooperation in Europe might compromise NATO.
Echoing Madeleine Albright’s “three Ds” — no duplication, no decoupling, no discrimination against non-EU NATO states — Kay Bailey Hutchison, the United States ambassador to NATO, warned on Wednesday that European efforts shouldn’t be “protectionist, duplicative of NATO work or distracting from their alliance responsibilities.”
“In Texas we say, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,'” the former senator added.
But transatlantic solidarity goes two ways. On the same day Hutchison cautioned European allies against weakening NATO, Defense Secretary James Mattis hectored them for failing to meet their defense spending targets.
Their boss, Donald Trump, has in the past declared NATO “obsolete”. Little wonder Europe is making its own plans.
Many of which complement NATO, from improving mobility by creating a “military Schengen” to developing a European infantry fighting vehicle.
Also read Tobias Buck in the Financial Times, who reports that Germany still has a long way to go before it can lead a European army. Read more
Ruud Lubbers Played Small Role in East-West Nuclear Diplomacy
Former Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers died on Wednesday at the age of 78. A Christian Democrat, he was the country’s longest-serving prime minister, leading three coalition governments between 1982 and 1994.
I had a chance to interview Lubbers when I interned for the Dutch weekly Elsevier in 2012. We were working on an India edition and Lubbers was known to have a relationship with the Gandhis.
In his flat in Rotterdam, Lubbers told me about his first meeting with Rajiv Gandhi, the Indian prime minister, in 1985. Read more
Catalan Liberals Start Language War to Woo Conservatives
Spain’s liberal Citizens party has proposed eliminating the Catalan language requirement for civil servants in the region.
Catalan would be plus, but no longer a prerequisite for most jobs in the public sector.
The idea is unlikely to go anywhere. Although the Citizens made their proposal in the Spanish Congress, which could attempt to overrule the separatist majority in the Catalan parliament, national parties would be foolish to aggravate relations with the province.
So why bother? Because it’s another way for the Citizens to prove to voters in other parts of Spain that they are a national party now. Read more
Introducing Transatlantic News and Opinion Roundups
I’ve been experimenting with a new format to share news and links: daily roundups of the most important stories from Europe and North America, usually with links to analysis and opinion elsewhere. Follow the News tag to find the latest installments. Read more