Diane Francis

Germany said to plan big military buildup to counter Russian aggression

Diane Francis, a Canadian journalist, a member of the Hudson Institute and a former speaker at the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations, reports that Germany plans a huge increase in its military strength to be able to confront an expansionist Russia and terrorists.

She writes that Germany's  new "civil defense'' initiative would:

·      Give the government the right “to reintroduce military conscription (stopped in 2011) in case of a ‘national emergency,’  but with a major difference. Its armed forces (currently 178,000) could swell by another 600,000, and be deployed internally to help police for the first time since the Second World War, and, significantly, to guard NATO’s borders which extend to Turkey.

·      "{E}ncourage the public to stockpile 10 days’ supply of food and five days’ of water in case of national emergencies or “existential” (i.e. terrorist) attacks.

"This represents a potentially dramatic extension of German military presence with a mandate to be deployed as domestic police as well as beyond its borders.

"The initiative is due to three unstated reasons: Russia’s occupation of part of Ukraine and  {threats to} other countries on its eastern flank; America’s growing weariness of military costs; and terrorist threats to its other European and NATO members.’’

To read her essay, please hit this link.

PCFR speakers from far and wide

  Speakers at the 2014-15 season of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org) were:

Anders Corr, a geopolitical analyst and former Defense Department official in Afghanistan, on Chinese expansionism.

Richard George, former high National Security Agency official, on international cyber-security.

Prof. Evodio Kalteneker, on the Brazilian economy and politics.

Professor and journalist Janet Steele on democratic Indonesia.

Jennifer Yanco, a public-health expert and a director of the West Africa Research Association, on the Ebola crisis.

Australian Consul Gen. Nick Minchin, on his nation’s relations with Asia and the U.S.

Delphine Halgand, a high official of the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, on threats to free speech and journalism. (She spoke a few days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.)

Amir Afkhami, M.D., a psychiatrist, on dealing with mental illness in war zones, particularly the Mideast.

Military historian and retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich on why America should stop fighting wars in the Mideast.

Famed Canadian journalist Diane Francis on why the U.S. and Canada should consider merging.

International landscape architect Thomas Paine on making cities more humane, especially in China.

Admiral Robert Girrier, deputy chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, on countering Chinese expansion in the South China Sea.

Gary Hicks, deputy chief of mission in Libya at the time of the Benghazi attack and now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on lessons for the U.S. in Libya and the future of international trade.

The new season looks exciting too. (And maybe even useful for investing decisions.)

We’re still penciling in speakers and dates, but we can say that Cuban-American businessman and civic leader Eduardo Mestre will speak on Sept. 30 about the reopening of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the land of his birth.

Mr. Mestre is a member of the boards of the International Rescue Committee and the Cuba Study Group.

He’s also a senior adviser at Evercore and was previously vice chairman of Citigroup Global Markets and chairman of its Investment Banking Division. Before then, he headed investment banking at Salomon Smith Barney and its predecessor firms from 1995-2001 and was co-head of Salomon Brothers' mergers and acquisitions department in 1989-1995.

Skedded for Oct. 22 is Scott Shane, the New York Times reporter who wrote the new book Objective Troy, about  Anwar al-Awlaki, “the once-celebrated American imam who called for moderation after 9/11, but a man who ultimately directed his outsized talents to the mass murder of his fellow citizens’’ and was eventually killed by an American drone. Among other things, he’ll discuss the moral issues raised by the increasing use of drones.

Some of the people we have on the drafting board for the rest of the season:

A U.N. expert on international refugee crises; a journalist or diplomat who will discuss the Greek crisis; a member of the Federal Reserve Board who will discuss international financial-system challenges; a Japanese journalist to talk about that nation’s increasingly muscular regional posture; an expert on international shipping in light of the widening of the Panama Canal; a status report on Mexico; a Chinese philanthropist; a member of the Ukrainian Congress Committee; (we have been trying for some time to get a Russian official or journalist to give Moscow’s side of the war in eastern Ukraine), and the director of the Aga Khan University Media School to talk about training journalists in the Developing World

All subject to change. We frequently repeat Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s purported response when he was asked what he most feared:

“Events, my dear boy, events.’’

Members should feel free to chime in with suggestions.

Also, we’ll strive to frequently update the PCFR Website with supplemental news and commentary on international matters that may be of interest.

Please consult www.thepcfr.org or message pcfremail@gmail.com for questions about the PCFR.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Robert Whitcomb, chairman



'Merger of the Century'

Diane Francis, a famed Canadian editor, writer and book author, will talk tonight at a Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org) dinner about her book "Merger of the Century,'' which says that the U.S. and Canada should merge. Who would get the better of that deal?

She wants to merge Canada and the U.S.

This should be interesting! Diane Francis is a celebrated Canadian journalist,  including as former editor of the Financial Post, in Toronto, currently editor-at-large and columnist for the National Post, and author of 10 books on Canada.

She has recently published a book called Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country.

She'll talk about it on Tuesday April 7, at the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations's (thepcfr.org) monthly dinner.

Needless to say the book has gotten a lot of attention in both nations.