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Quotes from the author

About today's geopolitics:

  • America has an empire that it wants to keep, Russia lost an empire and wants to recover it, China does not have an empire and wants one.

  • Empires have been a feature of human history from as far as we can go.

  • Security is not an issue until it becomes one, and when it becomes an issue it becomes the paramount issue.

  •  We are entering a dangerous, unstable new world that may cause us to look at the past 70 years, including the Cold War, with some nostalgia.

  • To Americans geopolitics happen at a safe distance from home. To many others, geopolitics happens right on their doorstep and vital interests can rapidly be affected.

  • The only merit of this geopolitical crisis is that it has brought clarity  and reminded us that geopolitics and imperial conflict are back - in case we naively thought they had left us.   

  • The conflict in Ukraine was not a game changer in the sense of representing something new in the history of the world, something that takes us in directions we’ve never seen before. To the contrary it very much represents a continuation of the tradition of imperial conflict which has been a feature of the world for as far as history can record.

  • It is difficult to argue today that a Sino-American conflict is unlikely.

  • A weak China is not necessarily better for the world than a strong China.

  • You can trust man to always find one more reason for conflict and one less for cooperation.


About Europe and European politics:

  • There is no such thing as a European politician or a European leader

  • Project Europe is a child born of catastrophe, exhaustion, necessity and vision from the ashes of war

  • Are there any Europeans in Europe?

  • For two thousand years Europeans have been fighting each other, it is only since the end of WWII, with Project Europe, that the continent has known peace and prosperity

  • The alternative to striving for excellence is the tolerance of mediocrity.

  • The real disease of Europe is that it has learned to content itself with mediocrity

  • Europe got busy building the welfare state while America got busy building the national security state

  • Europe’s natural default setting is a bunch of competing countries

  • The only way to turn the EU into an entity that speaks with one voice would be to achieve total political integration in Europe – today as much in the realm of the possible as achieving teleportation

  • The left does not concern itself with mundane issues such as the creation of wealth. For the left, wealth is there already, it is something you merely redistribute, and not something you need to worry about producing

About the Civilization of Entitlements and the failings of the European model:

  • The quality of life our children will know will be inferior to the quality of life we have enjoyed in the past century. Europeans have mortgaged their children and grand children’s future for the sake of enjoying their high-quality lifestyle and privileges today

  • The subsidies and protectionist tariffs of the Common Agricultural Policy have been acting as an impediment to world trade, especially for developing economies

  • European labour mobility is still, by and large, a pipe dream

  • Europe wants to make its cows happy (and its farmers too), so 40 percent of EU funds are allocated to a sector (agriculture) that represents only about 6 percent of the EU’s workforce and less than 2 percent of its economy

  • More often than not, in Europe the lowest common denominator sets the benchmark

  • The new European philosophy is ‘I am therefore I am entitled to’ (the Civilization of Entitlements)

  • The ideological abdication of the right in checking the excesses of the welfare state has made it easier for the Civilization of Entitlements to thrive and prosper throughout the continent

  • The complex equation that relates the high cost of welfare ad pensions, labour market rigidity, the dis-incentivization of businesses, and other perverse specifics of the European ecosystem has only one solution: decline and gradual impoverishment

  • In Europe, the total amount of pensions paid is more than the total cost of wages paid. A time-bomb home-made by developed economies, that will explode in slow motion

  • The unraveling of the European model, the Civilization of Entitlements, with its unsustainable costs, is inevitable. The sustainability of this model is coming to an end. The tragedy is that Old Europe does not have a Plan B

  • The European system suffers from the inability to create the wealth that would be necessary to sustain it

  • There are two things you can count on this system to deliver without failure: unemployment and slow growth.

  • In Asia people talk about forwards or backwards, either you work hard and move forwards or you fall back. In Europe they talk about left or right, political discourse.

  • Growth has been eradicated from European culture

  • The jobless are held hostage by those who enjoy the privilege of a full benefits job

  • Old Europe has devised a system that is a perfect recipe to dis-incentivize the creation of new enterprises, employers, minimize employment, and export jobs and businesses

  • China has been exporting goods, we have been exporting jobs and industries

  • The Golden Age of Europe is over

  • Particularly in Southern Europe, countries are likely to undergo a swift decline and may become, by mid-century mere shadows of what we know them to be today

About Nato, security and international relations:

  • Libya turned out to be a rare case of Europeans being from Mars and the Americans from Venus

  • Libya will be remembered as the graveyard of the idea of a common European foreign, defence and security policy

  • The US interest is in a Europe that possesses enough strength and cohesiveness to be a useful geopolitical partner, but not too much to become an independent one

  • The US will not easily tolerate a change in the balance of power in the Far East and will inevitably shift more and more military resources there to contain China.

  • Europe will increasingly become a sideshow for the Americans

  • Europe turns out to be less than the sum of its parts and will keep punching below its weight in the international arena

About the euro:

  • The euro was the child of traditional European balance-of-power political considerations and was essentially a French project to contain a re-unified Germany

  • The currency and debt crisis maybe the headline grabbing topic, but it is only the tip of an “iceberg of challenges” that Europe faces today

  • A banker should be redefined as someone who wears a pin-stripe suit  and can lose a billion dollars in one day

  • Eurozone crisis: only when standing on the edge of the abyss did the Europeans take action

  • Instead of the euro promoting convergence as had originally been hoped, it turns out to have cemented and even exacerbated differences

About France, Italy, Germany:

  • The message from the French is: we hate the status-quo, except for the alternative

  • French youth demonstrated in 1968 because they wanted to shape the future. French youth demonstrated in 2010 because they were afraid of the future

  • Italy’s social contract has been based for a half century on the government stealing from the people and the people stealing from the government, but now the social contract is broken because the government says ‘I can keep stealing from you but you can’t steal from me anymore’

  • If China has become the factory of the world, Germany has become the factory of the factory of the world

  • A continuation of Germany’s success story in the medium to long term is by no means a given

  • Italy has taken a leave of absence from the serious world

  • In every group of rowdy friends there is one who has to stay sober to drive the car after the party. In Europe this role belongs to Germany

  • An unraveling of the Franco-German axis would be far more worrying than its resurgence

  • A world without a strong, cohesive and stable Europe would undoubtedly be worse off

About immigration:

  • Contrary to America’s melting pot philosophy which acted as a motor for integration, immigration into Europe created from the outset two separate classes of people

  • Is the traditional nation-state model based on a relatively homogeneous nation still valid or should it give way to something else?

  • Euro-Muslims: some 20 million Muslims are said to live in Europe on aggregate, equivalent to the population of a mid-size country, a “Muslim archipelago” within Europe

  • Jihadists have had no better ally in Europe than political correctness. The tolerant societies of Europe have been perfect incubators for Euro-jihadists

  • Europe may be turning its back to half a century of liberal and tolerant politics

  • The “nation state” becomes the “nation’s state”

  • As the general situation worsens, European politics are likely to become increasingly nationalist, populist, xenophobic

  • One can expect the liberalization achievements of Schengen to come up under increasing pressure across the continent

About Europe and Turkey:

  • The EU indirectly played an important role in the de-Kemalisation and re-Islamization of Turkey

  • The Kurds in Iraq amount to a nation without a country in a country without a nation

  • Turkey could calculate that it can return to its historical role at the helm of Islamic nations (at least in the region), a role in which leaving NATO and defining itself in opposition to Europe are essential

Other quotes from the author:

  • The dividing line between political correctness and cowardice is thin as a hair and has been crossed too many times

  • Conventional wisdom is too often more conventional than wise

  • If you hug a tree, make sure it’s not an acacia

  • There never was a box to start with

  • The future always starts now, tomorrow is too late to be the future

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