Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Who Is Ursula von der Leyen?

In two months German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen will become president of the European Union Commission. In two months, with any luck, Great Britain will definitively leave said European Union. Not a minute too soon.

For the moment we will leave aside the political machinations taking place in Great Britain. As you know, the British people, in a referendum, voted to leave the European Union. Naturally, those who believe that democracy is sacrosanct and that we must always respect the will of the people threw a tantrum-- not quite as big a tantrum as their American counterparts threw after our 2016 presidential election-- and are doing everything in their power to make sure it never happens.

As for Ursula von der Leyen, she has just announced that under her regime, the EU will crack down hard on the titans of high tech. Regulation uber alles will be her slogan. The Wall Street Journal reports this morning:

The leadership of the European Union is changing over the next few months, but the organization’s scrutiny of U.S. tech companies likely isn’t.

The incoming head of the EU executive arm is promising new laws on artificial intelligence and the use of big data within 100 days of taking office on Nov. 1, as the bloc’s antitrust enforcer gathers evidence in its probes into the practices of companies including Facebook Inc. FB 0.05% and Amazon.com Inc.AMZN -0.57%

The EU investigations, started by departing EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, examine how Facebook and Amazon use data gathered on their platforms, and could eventually lead to multimillion-dollar fines. Both companies deny wrongdoing.

In recent years, Alphabet Inc. ’s Google has been fined a total of $9.4 billion in three separate EU probes. A fourth, relating to Google’s job-search service, is currently at a preliminary stage.

As the new commission takes shape, President-elect Ursula von der Leyen and her team are sifting through internal proposals for stricter rules in areas from limiting facial-recognition technology to creating a dedicated multibillion-euro fund to prop up the European technology sector.

What does this rage to regulate really mean? It means that Europe is writing itself out of the high tech game. It means that Europe is choosing regulation over innovation. It means that Europe is hellbent on increasing taxes... to pay for its bloated welfare state. It means, as Kai Fu Lee once opined, that the future of AI will take place in China and the United States.

So, Europe is going to become an open air museum-- as one farsighted commentator once said-- technologically dependent on the new Chinese and American masters of the tech universe.  

To put things in better perspective, we can again examine the fine job that Mrs. von der Leyen has done as German defense minister. Would you be surprised to discover that she has botched the job completely, that Germany has no military force to speak of, that it could not defend itself against anyone, and that it continues to rely on the United States for its defense. 

All of a sudden it does not seem so unreasonable for President Trump to demand that our so-called NATO allies contribute their agreed-upon shares to the NATO budget. As you know, Germany does not do so. Nor does Denmark. Nor do most of the other NATO countries. 

When relations between America and its European allies go south, somehow or other people always find the way to blame America. As we speak, the weak-kneed president of France is doing everything in his power, with the connivance of German Chancellor Merkel, to prop up the terrorist regime in Tehran. 

As I have often noted, Western Europe is led by weak sisters. Can you blame Great Britain for not wanting to go down with the ship.

Ross Clark reports on the state of the German military under von der Leyen and of course the woman who gave her the job, Angela Merkel:

The most recent embarrassment for the Bundeswehr — the grounding of all 53 of its Tiger helicopters this month due to technical faults — is just the latest in a long series of humiliations to have sprung from Ursula von der Leyen’s spell as defence minister. A country once feared for its ruthless military efficiency has become a joke among European powers.

And, also:

Under her watch, German military exercises have been reduced to a laughing stock. In 2014, a battalion on a Nato exercise in Norway was forced to use a painted broomstick to simulate a gun because it didn’t have a real one. Nearly half the soldiers involved in the exercise could not be issued with pistols.

And also:

Things were no better this year when Germany took control of Nato’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, charged with combatting the threat from Russia. Germanypromised to have 44 Leopard 2 tanks and 14 Marder armoured infantry vehicles available for the task, yet in the event could only muster nine and three respectively. A leaked document revealed that the Luftwaffe’s Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets, along with its transport helicopters, are only available for use for an average of four months per year — spending the rest of the time laid up for maintenance and repair.

As for the F-125 Baden-W├╝rttemberg frigates which were supposed to be coming into service two years ago, the navy refused to commission them. They failed their sea trials after problems with radar, the flameproof coating on the fuel tanks and the central computer system. Nor did the frigates have any torpedo tubes or sonar — essential for tackling the threat from submarines.

Last year’s annual report by the Parliamentary Armed Forces Commissioner — the German equivalent of a defence select committee report — confirmed the inability of the military to keep its equipment in use, adding that for a period from October 2017, when a Type 212A submarine damaged its rudder, none of the country’s six submarines were available for use.

So, gross incompetence and utter ineptitude. What do you want to bet that von der Leyen was chosen for the job because she had XX chromosomes. Perhaps the enlightened Europeans were making an ideological point about women in positions of leadership... regardless of the consequences. Merkel did not make the appointment for reasons of competence or experience. Perhaps Merkel is a closet feminist, one who believes in diversity above all else… regardless of the consequences.

As it happens, Germany and other European nations can indulge this folly because America has their back. So, Great Britain is about to jump ship. As I said, not a minute too soon.


4 comments:

UbuMaccabee said...

I bet my immediate neighborhood could field a better infantry brigade than anything Germany could put forward--and we will bring our own weapons and ammo (including a fair number of H&K pistols).

trigger warning said...

Leaping to the defense of Gooble and FB is not on my to-do list. May the Force of Brussels be with them.

However, the decline of Europe in AI is worthy of a moment of silence. History records that one of the most powerful AI languages, Prolog, was developed by the French. In the 70's, of course, while they still had a country. And U Edinburgh was a powerhouse AI research appointment. No more. They've even buried their AI Department in some amorphous "informatics" silo (similar, in principle, to merging Alabama Football into the Track and Field organization), I presume because the actual AI faculty and students were almost all white males and a meaninglessly broad wokeocratic subject matter silo provides more fig leaf square footage for intersectional victimhood admission criteria.

Regarding the F-125 Baden-W├╝rttemberg frigates having no sonar (WTF!!!!??), I can only say, "Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten us into, Ursula." :-D

Maybe the sonar and torpedo tubes were sacrificed for better feng shui.

UbuMaccabee said...

You make me happy, Trigger. All is not yet lost.

I'm with the EU on that one, too. FB and Google are the enemies of liberty and republican government, and anything that harms them is good for America. AI in the hands of those simpering twits? God help us.

Sam L. said...

My suggestion would be for Mr. Trump to tell the Euros that, starting in two-months' time, US military forces will begin returning to the US. They can keep the bases, but our military forces and their families will leave with everything they can carry, until it's all gone. ALL GONE. YOU are ON YOUR OWN. Except maybe for Poland and the Czech Republic. We might could make a deal with them.