France Eyes Non-EU Military Force, Trump Governs by Bluffing

Defense cooperation outside the EU would allow the United Kingdom to participate.

Reuters reports that France is looking to create a European military crisis force outside the EU, so the United Kingdom can participate.

The idea aims to bring together European countries with a military capacity and political desire to collaborate on planning, carry out joint analyses of emerging crises and to react to them quickly.

Almost all EU countries have committed to deepening military integration inside the union as well under the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).

All of this, of course, is happening against the backdrop of America’s withdrawal from Europe under Donald Trump.

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Salvini scolds Berlusconi

Italian far-right leader Matteo Salvini has scolded his ally, Silvio Berlusconi, for recommending a deal with the center-left rather than the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

“What can I say? Silvio Berlusconi this morning went against the agreement and shifted toward the Democratic Party,” he told reporters.

President Sergio Mattarella is leading consultations for the formation of a new government. Salvini’s (Northern) League has a majority with the Five Stars. To form a coalition with the Democrats, he would need to include Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

The two right-wing leaders promised voters to stick together.

Five Stars shift positions

Leonardo Carella points out that the Five Stars have shifted many of their positions since the previous election in 2013.

Then, they wanted out of the euro, out of the EU, out of NATO, were for marriage equality, for birthright citizenship and against pacts with other parties.

Now they want to stay in the euro, stay in the EU, stay in NATO, oppose marriage equality, oppose birthright citizenship and are open to joining both a left- and a right-wing coalition.

Puigdemont released on bail

German authorities have released Carles Puigdemont, the deposed Catalan independence leader, on bail. He was arrested in Schleswig-Holstein two weeks ago on his way back to Belgium from a conference in Finland.

The Germans also rejected Spain’s request to extradite Puigdemont on charges of rebellion, which, under German law, must include inciting violence. However, Puigdemont can still be extradited to face trial for misuse of public funds.

Meanwhile, Puigdemont’s party and its ally, the Republican Left, have confirmed the candidacy of jailed activist Jordi Sànchez to succeed him as regional president. Spain’s ruling People’s Party rejects Sànchez’ candidacy, given that he is awaiting trial for his role in last year’s independence referendum.

Sànchez is unlikely to be sworn in anyway. The far-left Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), whose four votes the two larger independence parties need for their majority, maintains that Puigdemont is the only legitimate candidate.

Trump governs by bluffing

Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan write for Axios that President Trump’s governing style is one of bluff:

This is how he has lived his whole life: promising big things and creating on-the-edge, Apprentice-style drama — then changing his mind.

It hasn’t been a total disaster. Trump did manage to get some trade concessions out of South Korea, for example. But it’s not worth it. At home and abroad, Trump’s style sows chaos. Neither allies nor enemies nor the markets know what to expect. This is making the world less safe and less prosperous.