Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Day I Thought Would Never Come

In July, 1963, with the proceeds of my first book, “The Two Hundred Days of ‘8 /2’”, I used my French passport to travel to Cuba, which was already off-limits to Americans.  Having recently become part of the fourth estate, via the French News Agency’s Rome bureau, I wanted to find out whether the corporation I had joined met my standards for truth-telling.  Everything I had read in the international press, whether American, French or Italian, had been negative, but French free-lancers with whom I’d worked on stories in Rome were telling a very different story.  I had to find out who to trust.
The story of what turned into an almost two year stay on the Island of the Red Devils, complete with conversations with all the members of the 1964 government, (several each with Fidel, Raul, Che and a valued friendship with Celia Sanchez), is told in “Cuba, 1964: When the Revolution was Young”, and I’m probably the only writer to have received her first classes in Marxism from that indomitable quartet.  It had taken me three weeks to reach Fidel and before deciding whether to grant my request to do a (non-political) portrait of him for the French weekly Paris-Match he wanted to know how I lived, in particular what things I owned.  When I told him that my sole possessions of any value were a Fiat 600 and a typewriter, he rightly figured that I would be sympathetic to the Revolution (always spelled with a capital R in Cuba).
In Cuba, my passion for the cinema took a back seat to what  became a total immersion in the East/West conflict which, as I have written in many blogs, continues to this day.  After leaving the island in 1965 for Poland, then Hungary, I did not return until 2011, when the Italian version of my book was presented at the 20th International Havana Book Fair, whose theme that year was Latin America  The two week-long event coincided with the revolt in Tahrir Square, which I watched from time to time on television in my bed-breakfast in Old Havana.  While Hosni Mubarak was being ousted after a  U.S. backed thirty year rule that had no pretense of being democratic, Fidel Castro met with about twenty Latin American writers in a live six-hour televised conversation.
Washington’s refusal to entertain normal relations with the Cuban government would have gone on indefinitely if American power had an indefinite lease on life.  What is striking is that America’s fifty-year long Cuba policy coincided with its period of world supremacy. The fact that President Obama chose this moment to end the ridiculous standoff is probably not due to a need to rescue his disastrous reputation as perhaps the worst President in American history.  Nor is it a gesture toward the Latino community that will be crucial to Hillary’s campaign.  I believe it is a way too late attempt to regain the South American hemisphere as a consolation prize, as the BRICS join China’s new silk roads and even Europe, our sixty-five year old junior partner begins to question American hegemony.  The ill-fated Ukraine adventure makes clear that Washington never gave up on the goal of dismembering Russia, putting Europe once again on the front line. 
Nor is it any coincidence that Obama’s declaration coincides with the European Parliament’s recognition of a future Palestinian state. Obama will not win over Netanyahu any more than he won over Fidel and Raul Castro.  And although the day I thought would never come for Cuba has arrived, it is a bittersweet end to 2014, as the world Uncle Sam built heads for even greater trouble than it did in 1914, before America became too big for its boots.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Two Ways to Own the World

In a recent interview on RT’s ‘Breaking the Set’ Chris Hedges excoriated mainstream journalism while lamenting that jour-nalists can’t make a living from alternative media. The real problem is that many people don’t know the alternative exists, or don’t know the names of the serious journals, or don’t have access to a computer or a sophisticated phone. An Opednews writer recently suggested that we need to change the way journalism is taught in order to change the MSM, but that’s like trying to change the way newspapers are owned, or a constitution that allows money in elections.
 Perhaps we should consider instead the two ways of ‘owning’ the world. Governments seek to ‘own’ the world by taking over companies and countries. In order to be able to counter the actions of governments beyond their borders, citizens have to own not just their neighborhood or the town they live in, but the rest of the world, insofar as possible. I’m talking about becoming familiar with the domestic face of other countries, insofar as possible. When our government seeks to 'possess' the world, we must identify with it, becoming familiar with the domestic face of other countries, so that they become as real to us as our own.
My first media boss, the head of Agence France Presse’s Rome bureau, taught me a fundamental rule of journalism that translates as ‘death/miles’: the relative importance of a news item is largely determined by the number of deaths involved and how far away it is from the location of its readership. Very soon, however, I realized that there is a better way to judge journalism: how well does it take its readers inside foreign lands, as opposed to reporting on government policies vis a vis toward them (which we could call reverse death/miles)?
As someone who has done ‘immersion’ in half a dozen countries, I got an early start on being able to identify with other zeitgeists, thus when living in the U.S., as I’ve been doing for the last fifteen years, I see the world through a series of foreign eyes. And it’s precisely because everyone can’t do immersion that the media has to do a better job of taking people into foreign lands. France 24 and RT do just that.  From France’s ‘Reporters’, where stories are sent in by people on the ground in other countries, to its focus on Africa, it’s obvious that the government-supported outreach channel that broadcasts in several languages is world oriented. (Today you can catch a round table in which Mediterranean Arab artists and intellectuals discuss whether they are freer following the Arab Spring and what the Mediterranean means to them. Russia’s so-called ‘bullhorn’, RT, airs documentaries and news stories both Russian and foreign, while interviewers like razor-sharp Oxana Boyko fearlessly joust with international figures. Meanwhile the US media exclusively serves up sound bites with beltway insiders Washington’s about worlds which never actually revealed
Because the media fails to bring the world to life, Americans cannot imagine what their government’s actions mean to those on the receiving end, believing Bush Jr.’s ‘They hate us because we’re free’.  
Not only is Americans’ knowledge of other countries limited to the geography they notice when they travel, or the food, they haven’t a clue about the history of each country as it is transmitted from generation to generation. When it was announced this week that France’s most unpopular president ever had stopped off in Moscow from what was referred to as ‘a visit to Kazakhstan’, I wondered what on earth Francois Hollande could have been doing in that Central Asian country. Googling the news item, I discovered that he had not just ‘happened’ to go there after attending the conference of Francophone nations in Africa, but that he is the third French President to do so, France being Kazakstan’s fifth largest trading partner. And that’s because half of France’s electricity comes from nuclear power and Kazakstan is the world’s largest uranium exporter. According to Fox News Latino (sic) Hollande was accompanied by more than 50 corporate executives..…
Now back to the significance of his ‘improvised’ meeting with Putin at the Moscow airport. The first thing that came to mind on the basis of my long years of living in France was that maybe, just maybe, this could mark the start of Europe’s emancipation from the United States. (I tweeted ‘Hollande use of diplomacy in Ukraine crisis may be sign Europe ready to cut US umbilical cord’, and ‘Hoping de-escalation of Ukraine crisis could pave the way for delivery of warships’.) I might not have seen things that way had I not known that Hollande’s historically low approval rating was due to his handling of domestic policy, as Europe struggles to contain the fallout from the 2008 Wall St instigated financial crisis that has forced country after European country (including Merkel’s Germany), to adopt austerity measures (austerity in the welfare state!). And also, that until his election to the highest office, Hollande had been a socialist party ‘apparatchik’ (as he would be described by the US media were he not the president of a ‘friendly’ country). And finally, however much Hollande may have betrayed socialist egalitarian principles, he is likely to cling to the socialist principal that problems should be solved through negotiations, not war. And finally, that however much they currently hate Hollande, in the decade or so following the end of World War II, the US was seen very negatively by a large swathe of the French population that is still alive today.
As the cherry on the cake, I would not have seen Hollande’s initiative in quite the same way had I not been aware of France’s pride in its diplomatic tradition, and to a lesser but nonetheless real extent, its renewed conviction, dating from the De Gaulle era, of its enduring importance on the world scene.
Francois Hollande appears to be shooting for a two-fer: rescuing his disastrous standing in the polls by a) saving the jobs of shipbuilding workers (the second Mistral ship still to be built), and b) participating - and even appearing to lead! - what may be an initial attempt by European leaders to cut the umbilical leash that has made them the US’s poodle for decades.
During the Cold War, Germany, which had maintained close ties with the satellite nations of Eastern Europe, ultimately refused US demands to station Pershing missiles aimed at the Soviet Union on its territory.  Today, ‘Ossie’ (the familiar term for residents of the former East Germany) Angela Merkel has to work her way through the series of knots that tied Germany to the United States first through occupation, then through the continued existence of American bases, in order to disassociate her country from the neo-conservative plan to ‘finish the job’ of dismantling Russia that was interrupted with the fight against Nazi Germany.
Perhaps one reason why Hollande’s stopover in Moscow’s airport was given so little attention by the Western media is the fact that Kazakstan, whence he came, is a member of the Russian led customs union that the US doesn’t want Ukraine to join, reason for which it ousted its democratically elected President during the Maidan campaign energized by neo-Nazi battalions whose leaders are now part of the US-engineered Kiev government. For Americans, fascism is just a word, but it is a dirty word among most - if not all - Europeans, because their parents or grandparents lived under it. Beyond that, the struggle over Ukraine may just possibly be the watershed that cures Europe of its Atlantic tendencies. Just as Ukrainians (and Russians) are not really Europeans, Europeans are not Americans; both are Eurasians. And while Washington alternately derides and condemns Vladimir Putin’s claim that Eurasia is a really existing entity that represents the future, Europeans are increasingly attracted to his project, which is not about consumption but about values.

But since the US media is not about to start reporting on these and other on-going trends, I’m suggesting that readers of Opednews, whose offerings are renewed every twenty-four hours, post copies in supermarkets and on telephone poles, so that more people will know what their government is really doing abroad and how its actions are being perceived.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Of Kids and Drones and Culture Wars

The other day I viewed a French film with Catherine Deneuve that featured an impossible pre-teen boy, and I vaguely remembered having remarked on similar behavior in other recent French films. Having lived in France when kids and teens behaved very differently, I was saddened, once again. 
This morning RT ran a short feature on the upsurge of drones, including soon to be under-the-tree toy drones. Imagine a near future when kids will add a deadly panoply to their propensity to act out. The RT series is part of a broader take that includes battlefield weapons scheduled to soon make their own decisions about killing.

I know I’ll invite criticism for saying this, but I think we need to consider a heretofore taboo idea: could Putin possilby be right to oppose Western culture?

We’re headed for a time when the fight between different parts of the world will increasingly be about ‘morals’ - and that includes attitudes toward war, and violence in general. In the West, morality is almost a dirty word, while for most of humanity, it’s something people still care about. Even if the Western press doesn’t acknowledge it, Putin is far from alone. His determination to steer Russia back to traditional values is applauded by a growing cohort of right-wing Western leaders, but also, and increasingly, by anti-globalization movements that tend to be left-leaning. Most importantly, it puts him squarely on the side of Islamic polities, which account for a quarter of humanity. 

The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928, represents a sort of middle way between those anxious to create libeal consumer societies and Islamists who want to return to the Middle Ages. It was briefly in power in Egypt after the fall of Mubarak, but Tunisia’s Ennhada Party appears to have been the most adept at straddling this divide. Reading Eric Walberg’s “From Post-modernism to Post secuarlism: Re-Emerging Islamic Civilization”,  I learned that Ghannouchi is not only a politician but the movement’s intellectual leader. According to Walberg, for Ghannouchi, “The Islamic contribution is primarily a form of ethics, a transcendent morality that seems to have no place in today’s democrtic practice.” He criticizes the “total stripping of the state from religion, which turns the state into a mafia, the world economic system into an exercise in plundering, and politics into deception and hyocrisy.” In 2012, Ghannouchi, Ennhada’s leader since 1991, was named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World and was also among Foreign Policy’s top global thinkers. (Apparently he did not take Washington’s bate, because in this year’s parliamentary election, Ennahda was defeated by a liberal rival.)

Reading about Tunisia, I was reminded of Samuel Huntingdon’s famous 1994 essay ‘The Clash of Civilizations’, that has recently been evoked - and dismissed - by political thinkers of right and left, both at home and abroad. It turned out I stiill had among my books a French translation, published by the magazine Commentaire together with rebuttals from various English and French language authors. I myself had dismissed the essay at the time, but now, rereading it, I recognize that although Huntingdon inevitably got some details wrong, its main thrust, that of a clash between liberalism and Islam, aptly describes what has been happening for the last decade. (Huntington sets the beginning of the clash in the nineites, with the Kosovo war.)

In other, not unrelated news, today the Russian currency, the rouble, took a significant tumble following on OPEC’s decision not to slow oil production in order to let its price closer to $100 a barrel. I strongly suspect that the preponderant Gulf producers were doing Washington’ bidding as part of a campaign to weaken Putin when they held firm on their decision. But in yet another demostration of the chessman’s talents, while that vote was taking place, Putin was in Turkey, making a deal with President Erdogan to route Russian oil through that country to Europe, instead of via the South Stream pipeline that was to have transited via Bulgaria: Brussels had leaned on Bulgaria to put the project on hold, and tonight both Bulgaria and Hungary are hoping Putin will reconsider, according to 

The Russia/Turkey deal can be seen as merely an oppor-tunistic commercial alliance, but according to Walberg, Turkey wants to recreate an Ottoman Empire-type Califate, and that dovetails with Putin’s Eurasia project. A lot of ink is being spilled in the West about that project, with most analysts claiming that Putin wants to recreate the Soviet Union. They utterly fail to see an Orthodox Christian nation teaming up with neighboring Muslim nations in anything other than power relations. 

The West’s obssession with the broad arc of bedroom politics prevents it from seeing that tradition and morality are every bit as significant as power, and more significantly that morality is not only about sex. It warns of a mindless tomorrow in which some killing machines become independent of humans, and others become toys.

P.S. Today, (December 3), Steven Hawking predicted in an interview with the BBC that the development of artificial intelligence (of which he is the beneficiary) would lead to the demise of hte human race.....

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Netanyahu Has Lost It!

(Published on OpedNews on November 23)

Or else, he is cooly, calmly and deliberately seeking war.

Is this the result of a traumatic family history (his brother Yonatan was killed during the hostage rescue mission in Entebbe in 1976) following upon the traumatic Holocaust that killed six million Jews across Europe? Or does it perhaps have a more mundane explanation, inspired by Netanyahu's business training in the United States and long-term Neo-con allegeance?

One could surmise that in anticipation of a P plus 5 deal with Iran that would make it virtually impossible for Israel to take out that country's nuclear facilities, the Israeli Prime Minister has decided to 'take on the House' with his last remaining chips: As the international community, weighted toward a developing world pro-Palestinian majority, turns toward recognizing the occupied territories as a state (Palestinians have the distinct honor to be the longest-occupied people ever), Netanyahu wants a world of assorted 'goyim' to know who God's chosen people are, once and for all.

Today he annouced a new law that proclaims Israel as the National Homeland of the Jewish People. It reocgnizes Israel's Jewish character, institutionalizes Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation, and delists Arabic as an official language. The law states that 'only jewish people have national rights', though all citizens will still have equal legal rights and protections.

No one can say that Bibi's announcement is an olive branch.

More likely, it is slap in the face to Obama (and by extension Kerry), and a warning of things to come, in this period of flux between Thanksgiving, Christmas and the seating of the new, ever more pro-Israeli Congress Congress in January.

rom Barcelona to Berlin to Donetsk to Damascus

Note:  this blog was published on OpedNews on November 9th, and for some reason was not posted here at the time:

As the Catalans defy the central Spanish government to vote on a non-binding resolution to become an independent country, Germany continues to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall that enabled the two Germanies to be reunited, while shelling continues against the largely Russian-speaking population of Eastern Ukraine that recently voted itself independent from Kiev, and Syria and Iraq lose large swathes of terriroty to Islamist militants. 

At the same time as these violent events, twenty-five years after German reunification, there is a growing call among political activists for smaller political entities where it is hoped democracy can be more participatory.But you’d never know that from watching Fareed Zakaria’s GPS.

Today’s guests, Brent Snowcroft and the British Charles Powell, an advisor to Prime Minister Thatcher at the time, gave an extraordinary accounting of the most earth-shattering event of the last century, which they claim took Washington and London completely by surprise, to which they responded  by “trading carefully carefully in order not to destroy the hopeful signs it represented”.  These two high ranking officials are still pretending that Gorbachev didn’t give the OK to the East German govenment to dismantle the wall, essentially withdrawing its decades-long support for the most draconian of all the Eastern European regimes - or that the opening of the Hungarian border with Austria over the summer, through which thousands of vacationing East Germans fled to the West, did not portend the end of the Eastern European regimes! The British guest even pretended that it took Chancellor Kohl unawares (but if Kohl did say that, it could only have been in order to prevent the West from trying to interfere….).

In his last segment, Zakaria invited Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and a recognized authority on Syria, to present his Syrian ‘solution’ complete with a multi-colored map of Syria and Iraq.  According to Landis, neither ISIS nor Al Qaeda can be defeated, so the best solution is to leave Assad in power in the southern part of the country, which he controls, and which includes 65% of the population, (the Northeastern part of the country, together with Northwestern Iraq that ISIS conquered, being mainly desert).  Landis suggests that ISIS be left in control of this Sunni territory, which it calls the Islamic State of Al-Shams, the goal of the West being over time to put in a better leadership.

Here is the way OEN’s contact in Syria - a Sunni, by the way, characterizes the Assad regime:

“What about the notion of getting along in a secular society, with equality under the law, and freedom of religion? Syria was the only secular nation in the Middle East. The Ba’ath party created the secular Syrian state from 1970’s onwards.

Many political analysts say Syria was attacked and destroyed for the following reasons:

1. It was the only secular nation in Middle East.

2. It had a national policy of RESISTANCE to the occupation of Palestine, and is the only country other than Palestine to demand the end of the Israeli occupation (all other Arab countries deal with Israel openly and have no demands on the end of occupation).

3. Syria was discovered to have the largest natural gas field on earth, offshore, in June 2010. By March 2011 the attack and destroy plan began.

The goal of the Syrian Opposition: (Syrian National Coalition and Free Syrian Army) is:

1. To remove the current government of Syria.

2. To create a SUNNI only form of goverment under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, who are the founders and supporters of the SNC and FSA. (The same ideology in control of Turkey).

3. To create a Sunni only enclave in Syria, which will drop all claims to the occupied lands, as well as the state of war with Israel, and begin a full relationship with Israel, never demanding the rights of Palestinians.

When you travel to most Arab countries, you never hear or perceive Anti-Israeli sentiments. The population has been taught to love Israel in order to get along, the Palestinians are a sad story, but not ‘our’ story, so they are left to hang-out-to-dry. I have never found any Arab country that puts the plight of Palestine before everything. You would think that Jordan should, since they are 98% Palestinian in ethnicity. But Jordan never takes a firm stand on Palestinian rights. Maybe they think it’s a hopeless fight. I can understand that feeling of defeat, but it is immoral, unethical and goes against all humanity to allow the only occupation on earth of over 5 million souls, and never raise the issue.

I am very proud of Syria’s commitment to RESISTANCE. Medea Benjamin’s Code Pink 4 Peace motto: “Occupation is Indefensible”, says it all.”

Just as the Sunni/Shi’a divide is never referred to as being as much ideological as religious, with the historically down-trodden Shi’a representing the left (think Iranian revolution), Syria under the Shi’a Alawite sect and the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party, is never acknowledged in the West as the only secular, left-oriented Arab state. 

Fareed’s third guest was the author of a book on the public’s lack of political knowledg in various countries, with the US coming in second only to Italy in terms of ignorance, but he referred to that ignorance only in terms of national policies.  If knowledge of foreign countries was not even part of such a survey, it’s no wonder Western talking heads are so far off the mark.

Mubarak/Wilson, Catalonia/Edinborough/Ukraine, Same Combat

The acquittal of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak who ruled with an iron fist for thirty years and was accused of ordering the shooting deaths of hundreds of protesters during the events that removed him from power reflects the same determination as the acquittal of a white police officer via a lesser judicial process than a trial in the uncontested shooting death of a black, unarmed teenager in Furguson Missouri. Corresponding to the growing worldwide revolt against the pax americana is an increase in the militarization of police forces, backed by justice systems that can be relied on to exonerate rulers while eliminating an increasingly redundant majority.

Judicial aberrations are only one of the ways in which the 1% protects itself. Grass roots initiatives such as the secessionist referenda in Catalonia, Scotland and Eastern Ukraine are defeated by hook or by crook. David Cameron’s last minute promises of greater autonomy swung just enough Scottish voters away from a yes vote for independence, but today when he delivered on that promise they realized they had been duped, while Calatonia’s non-binding 80% vote for independence resulted in a hardening of Madrid’s position. As for the referenda in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, they have been condemned by the West as part of a campaign against Russia, the so-called international community refusing to recognize only those referenda that interfere with its agenda.

Referenda are an example of participatory democracy, and nothing shows up liberal democracy’s fakery like a secessionist referendum. Confronted with the will of a significant number of citizens, the rules of liberal democracy allow governments to say: ‘Once you elect us, you must abide by our rules, one of which is that you cannot evade our rules by holding a referendum to sucede and form a different state with different rules.’ 

Secessionist movements will not be saved by a miraculous transformation of liberal democratic politics, but by a growing movement in favor of small political entities, in which direct democracy can effectively be practised. Grown too large and complicated to be effectively governed, the modern nation-state born with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 will eventually disintegrate under combined pressure from Occupy-type activists and minorities determined to secure their own space.  Meanwhile, the 1% will go to any lengths to remain in charge, even if it sometimes looks ridiculous: 

Less than a month after the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, taking its cue from Israel, Ukraine is building a wall on its border with Russia…..And in another copycat decision, its president Petro Poroshenko has invited American and German citizens to apply for top jobs in his cabinet. There was a time after World War II when Americans were forbidden to hold dual citiznships, but now Ukrainian-American candidates from among the tentacular Banderite diaspora will vie for seats in Kiev’s halls of power, whence to cover the atrocities committed by their brethren in its Neo-Nazi batallions (see George Eliason’s reports for details about them).

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Twenty-Five Years after Fall of Berlin Wall

I wasn’t there, but I foresaw it’s happening in a book entitled ‘Une autre Europe, un autre Monde’, begun in 1983 and rejected by every major publisher in Paris between 1985 and 1989, as I revised it to keep pace with events. In early 1989 a small academic publisher in Lyon run by a professor of cybernetics accepted it because it took a systems approach to what was, at the time, a divided Europe. I was in a taxi from the Gare de Lyon to my home in Montmartre, carrying the first copies of the book fresh off the presses when the driver’s radio announced the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Before climbing the stairs to my fifth floor apartment, I bought a bottle of champagne at the corner bistro and called up to a German-Italian couple from the courtyard to come and celebrate.  As we toasted the news, I declared confidently that Germanay would be reunited within a year. My neighbors thought I was way off the mark, but it happened eleven months later, as Mikhail Gorbatchev reminded us yesterday in a speech during the twenty-fifth anniversar festivities in Berlin.
In that speech - of which I’ve only heard excerpts on RT, the Russia Today English language news channel - he affirmed that the Soviet government - which he led at the time - had been ahead of the East German government led by Erich Honecker.  
Indeed it was: My first inkling that Europe would in fact be reunited came in the spring of 1989 when Gorbatchev was seen giving a most perfunctory fraternal kiss to his East German counterpart. Of course I had no way of knowing that during his visit to East Berlin the Soviet leader had told Honecker, the most rigid of Eastern European leaders, to get with the times and allow the wall to come down.
During that incredible summer of 1989, the Hungarian government, that had always seen itself as a bridge between Western Europe and the Soviet Union, quietly ceased demanding visas from East Germans vacationing on Lake Balaton and began dismantling its border fence with neutral Austria, the real no man’s land between Eastern and Western Europe.  As the news made its way through the grapevine, thousands of East Germans vacationing on Lake Balaton (known as the Hungarian Sea) took their suitcases and fled the coup. From there the reunification of Europe was unstoppable. In August, Poland got a non-Com-munist, Catholic, prime Minister, with Solidarity leader Lech Walesa eventually becoming president and after the Berlin Wall fell, Czechoslovakia saw the start of the Velvet Revolution that culminated in long-time dissident writer Vaclav Havel becoming President. I watched his inauguration at the Charles University in Prague on French television.  During his speech he said, with the usual twinkle in his eye, that his mother was happy that her son the dunce had finally made it.
It’s truly disheartening to contrast the euphoria of that fall with what is happening in Europe today.  One is tempted to see in the European Union’s economic crisis, the rise of Fascist parties and the crude attempts to bring Ukraine into its fold a third repeat of Europe’s modern history, in which it seems unable to resist descending into violence every twenty-five or thirty years or so: 1870, the Franco-Prussian War that resulted in the unification of Germany; 1914-1918: World War I; 1939-1945: World War II.
If you think Europe has enjoyed almost sixty years of peace since then, you’re overlooking NATO’s war against Serbia over Kosovo that took place in the 1990’s. Actually, many political observers refer to that war as a precursor to the pro-European coup in Ukraine that has been followed by fighting in the pro-Russian eastern part of that country.
Try to catch Gorbatchev on RT or, then take the time to listen to a speech made by Vladimir Putin at a European Security Conference in Munich in 2007 by clicking on this link sent by my friend and colleague Jeff J. Brown in Beijing.  You’ll see McCain and Liberman sitting with bored expressions in the front row, while Angela Merkel looks at the Russian President with undisguised admiration. 
I’m not implying that the German Chancellor has a crush on Putin, but rather, that they share a common commitment to peace and solidarity, the foundational principles that set Communism apart from ‘The West’. The Western media thas consistently affirmed that the enunciation of those principles is mere propaganda, that Communist leaders cannot be trusted no matter what they say, and they extend that opprobrium to Putin who is guilty of being a former Communist apparatchik. I’ve often affirmed that Putin did not throw the solidarity baby out with the Communist bathwarer and comments by The Saker ( emphatically confirm that he is a social democrat.)

Never before has a world been so greatly in need of a leader who seeks peace and solidarity rather than full spectrum dominance.  The question is will Obama-as-lame-duck will enable Putin’s worldview to become the driving force behind the international community.