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Hungary, Bavaria, Turkey, Russia, America, South Africa and now Germany…. AGAIN!

July 2018

This is written with deep concern introspection and sadness over the state of our world and as well a fear for our civilization. I am setting aside the corrupt and inhumane as well as lunatic U.S. President Donald R. Trump who that is very difficult to take who cannot be taken seriously anymore. He has distributed and displayed his disgusting hate messages globally and thanks to fake news, the corruption of the creepy digital landscape, and intolerance of other people’s values and beliefs. This has resulted in the global acceptance of lunacy, deception, and injustice and made it acceptable globally.

His bigotry sets an unjustified stage does do not justify for the evolution of inhumane totalitarian regimes in once respectable nations such as Hungary, Poland or Turkey. It is incomprehensible that Trump encourages the murderous “elite” in China. Trump has emboldened Russian (shall I say Soviet?) President Vladimir Putin to drop any pretense that there is a democracy… and the radical right media organizations have no mercy in drenching their audience with a curated and misconstrued message that justifies this behavior and portrays his actions as heroic and necessary. Putin just murders opponents (as do the Chinese). Mr. Trump has not progressed that far… yet!

But now we must look, sadly, at Germany. The Trump idiocy should not be used as an excuse for the rapid growing extreme right to say that the Nazi era is “just a speck of bird shit in more than 1,000 years of successful German history.”         This disgusting comment came just a few days ago from Alexander Gauland, the head of Germany’s far-right, nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Other AfD politicians – now with over 12 percent in the German Parliament – are now poised to gain a major victory over the conservative Christian Socialist Union in the Bavarian election this coming October. Recall here that Hitler’s first major successes where in Bavaria.

Prussia – so maligned – never voted for Hitler and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a moral leader fully supportive of the racial, political and cultural tolerance’ that was a Prussian hallmark for hundreds of years. Tolerance is where we can gain hope for a better tomorrow. “In my state, every man can be saved after his own fashion,” said Prussia’s great ruler, King Frederick II. He – in stark contrast to today’s sentiments – also said:” If Turks and heathens were to come to populate the land, we shall build mosques and churches.'”

The vicious hate for migrants (shared by a large percentage of Trump Americans, Hungarians, Bavarians, Austrians and others globally) is raw racism. The states of the German federation welcomed – and yes invited – immigrants for hundreds of years. It also makes economic sense: struggling with a rapidly graying population such as the federation on German tribes, need young people.   This is one key argument for hope.

Bavaria is where the hate for Jews, liberals, gays, Gypsies, or Muslims is barely covered up under a veneer of shiny lederhosen and pretended joviality.

Beatrix von Storch is a senior leader of the AfD who showed her true “brown’ colors in hateful messages. She tweeted that Muslim men are “gang-raping’ and “barbaric.” Alice Weidel, the party’s joint leader in the Bundestag, stated: “Our authorities submit to imported, marauding, groping, beating, knife-stabbing migrant mobs.”   These are unfair broad accusations on entire groups of people.

Storch serves as Deputy Leader of the Alternative for Germany. This woman was born as Beatrix Amelie Ehrengard Eilika, Duchess of Oldenburg. Her grandfather, Johann Ludwig Count Schwerin von Krosigk, was. convicted, as a war criminal in Nuremberg and was the last chancellor of Nazi Germany. Note that at least one Count Schwerin died trying to kill Hitler. Ulrich-Wilhelm Count von Schwerin von Schwanenfeld was hung for his role in the failed plot on September 8, 1944 – next to my own grandfather (I guess – to quote a U.S. Secret Service officer, Prussian nobles are not that good at coups.)

Not only Muslims are targeted by the AfD – so is the LGBTQIA community, the Jews and the other cohort in the gas chambers the “unassimilable” Gypsies.

The Storch grand-grandfather

This woman – among men and women in that party – of most questionable ethics is believed to try to rehabilitate many Nazis. AfD supporters have gone so far to question whether Germany was even guilty for World War II and claim that the Holocaust of the Jews, gays, and Gypsies was caused by the victims themselves.

Germany’s honor – so hard fought for over the past 70 years – is at risk. Now we must fight back. The AfD must be demolished fast and a return to basic human values is imperative to build a future. All should support such a goal of tolerance.

My next report will list companies (such a Dr. Wick Chemie, Wahl-Bau GmbH, senior BMW executives as well as major Bavarian beer producers to name a few) that finance this right-wing extremist group. Ethical global consumers the world over should boycott their products.

It is time to take a stand and lead by example. Let us fight now. Please! There is hope.

 

Agostino von Hassell

Recall this:

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

 

First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

 

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

 

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

 

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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Food, Human Rights and a New Consciousness in the U.S.

At the end of June 2018, New York hosted one of the largest food events: The Summer Fancy Food Show attracted well over 4,000 exhibitors to the aptly named Jacob Javits Center. Senator Jacob Koppel Javits was a liberal Republican – always ready to stand up for human rights.
His support for President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society would have resulted in endless vicious “tweets” from the current president.
Exhibitors came from all over the United States and the world. In – at times tense – discussions with foreign exhibitors interesting commentary surfaced. Vendors from Turkey reported that U.S. buyers and distributors have turned “very cautious” about buying Turkish products due to the abysmal human rights record of the dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan, just reelected as Turkey’s president in “free” elections. Turkey’s economy is in shambles and resistance from U.S. buyers will not help a recovery.
Exhibitors from Communist China complained about the American consumer’s “obsession” with human rights, China’s rampant use of slave labor, and “unfounded” concerns about poison in foods (think of Mainland China’s milk products deliberately poisoned with melamine.)
One Chinese vendor said that he hopes that “[President] Trump will fix this. He loves our President.” Exhibitors’ from the Republic of China (the free and democratic Taiwan) expressed fears that American’s will confuse the two Chinas and “punish” Taiwan.
Vendors from Austria, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia stated that “Jewish buyers” – who dominate much of food distribution in the North East asked about increasingly anti-Semitic policies in these countries.
The cruelty of the current White House of the treatment of immigrants and the Nazi-like separation of children from their parents has boosted the concern for human rights among U.S. buyers and consumers. My hope is that Americans will vote with their wallets and boycott products from dictatorial regimes.
It is so heartening to see how concerns about human rights are affecting imports. Let us encourage this and ignore the increasingly dysfunctional Trump Administration. What the idiotic tariffs will do is to be seen.
The European Union – this great post-war dream is at the very least fragile – is standing by and doing nothing. Trump’s bitching that Europe is not doing enough for its own defense (just four of Germany’s air force jets reportedly are operational) is correct: why should 330 Million Americans pay for the defense of 480 million Europeans?
What is to be done for the repressive nations? They need to change and engage in a slow and credible marketing efforts to rebuild respect. We do not need criminals like Lt. General Michael T. Flynn (he plead guilty) manipulating the White House to favor Russia or Turkey.
All this is controversial. Unlike vendors at the Fancy Food Show, I have no problem giving my name. I am horrified

Agostino von Hassell

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Dealing with China now

“Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam,” – in English: “Furthermore, I consider that Carthage must be destroyed” reportedly was the concluding line of every speech given in the Roman Senate by Cato the Elder (234-139 B.C.).  Carthage was Rome’s primary enemy and was defeated.  It is this writer’s hope that U.S. Senators and Representative adopt such a line to conclude their speeches.    Even if it is a speech about price support for milk.

The goal now is to see the destruction of China’s regime.

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How Should Business deal With Turkey Now?

I happen to hear from friends from Turkey often these days that the country is not “soup du jour”. It is not “business as usual” anymore.

How should U.S.A. companies and others (from Europe or Asia) deal with Turkey now? Investments there – in our view – are unsafe and that once proud nation will become increasingly unstable.

We strongly advocate that current investors in Turkey consider how to limit their exposure and avoid new investments. The sense is that Turkey is set to devolve into chaos in a prolonged crackdown of established democratic processes labeled as “terrorist-linked” from the existing government. I cannot imagine businesses from civilized nations wanting to support a regime that is adverse to human rights of any kind.

The badly planned coup failed, I regret it. The distant shout, “I would free the state from a tyrant!”, was left unheard and silent in the night.

Friedrich von Schiller in 1797 in his famous poem (hated by the Nazis) wrote:

To Dionysius, the tyrant, would sneak

Damon, concealing a dagger;

He’s slapped by the guards in a fetter.

“What would you do with that dagger, speak!”

Demands the despot, his visage bleak.

“I would free the state from a tyrant!”

“For that, on the cross be repentant.”

 

Now Erdoğan wants to reinstate the death penalty. On July 26, 2016 in an interview Erdoğan pledged to follow up on his promise to reintroduce capital punishment if such a request is submitted by the country’s parliament, saying the government could not ignore the will of the people.  He was quoted:

What do the [Turkish] people say today? They want the death penalty reintroduced. And we as the government must listen to what the people say. We can’t say ‘no, that doesn’t interest us…I am not a king. I am only a country’s president. To be a stronger president does not mean to act in breach of constitution. Only in Europe is there no death penalty. Otherwise, it is almost everywhere.”

The death penalty was abolished by Turkey in 2004 in order to facilitate its acceptance as a European Union member. Since the failed coup well over 13,000 people, largely soldiers, have been detained in the massive purge. The fair trial and fate of these people is more than questionable and this is an issue, which worries me.

Resisting dictators is important. Turkey’s current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is one of the most vicious dictators to emerge in past years and he proudly takes the place in a select group of others such as Putin and the leader of China who do not hesitate to violate human rights on a daily basis. Thus the May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey was a joke. It is as if the Nazis had celebrated human rights in a concentration camp.

Turkey has a long history of brutality and repression.  The country has a sad history of persecuting ethnic minorities.

The vicious occupation of Northern Cyprus continues.

Turkey’s argument that it faces terrorism is dangerous: none of the ancient battles against the Kurds (and Armenians) justifies massive repression of human rights, jailing of any and all opponents as well as the continued denial and defense of the Genocide of the Armenians. The major military incursions into Kurdish territory in past weeks were thinly camouflaged efforts at wiping out the Kurds.

The Kurdish people are repressed.  This has been going on for centuries and the brutal persecution of the Kurds is an activity shared by Iraq and Iran. Will they be subject of ethnic cleansing by Turkey’s president? Note that between 1925 and 1939 possibly over 1.5 million Kurds were deported or murdered. Will Erdoğan, the President, force a new ban on speaking Kurdish – akin to the 1924 mandate? In 1930 Turkey’s Minster of Justice reportedly stated:

I won’t hide my feelings. The Turk is the only lord, the only master of this country. Those who are not of pure Turkish origin will have only one right in Turkey: the right to be servants and slaves.

Turan Gunes, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, at a session of the Council of Europe, reportedly said as he responded to the issue of Kurdish independence: “Let me tell you, with the tolerance of just a few countries like West Germany, France and England, we will have no problem liquidating millions of Kurds.”

Note that terrorism can be battled respecting human rights.  Note also that when I met many suffering Kurds in April 1991 during Operation Provide Comfort and Provide Comfort II I realized that Turkey’s approach to the Kurds was just as evil as was the case with Iraq.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established a secular Turkey and in many ways Turkey’s military as well as the TNP have been the protectors of the values established by Atatürk. Turkey’s current president has tried to emasculate the military with the most questionable arrest of senior generals and admirals – instilling a climate of fear in military (Operation Cage Action Plan).

Dictators rarely have a good end to their life. While I am certainly not advocating violence one must hope that brave officers of Turkey’s military and police possibly act again to rescue human right and the values of Atatürk. Turkey has a long history of coups (1960, 1971, 1980, and possibly 1993) and incidents such as the 1997 “military memorandum” or “Operation Sledgehammer” in 2003.

Investments in Turkey are questionable at best. Russia’s Gazprom – probably instructed so by the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin – on September 2, 2016 pledged a $1 billion investment in Turkey. Gazprom, which serves as a political instrument for negotiations with Europe, has today lost $300 billion market capitalization from its 2008 heyday valuation and the company is a financial shadow to what it was. And now Turkey invites Apples to invest in Turley following the ruling on taxes by Brussels.

Some U.S. firms with a modicum of historical memory know how IBM and Ford as General Motor’s Adam Opel unit supported the Nazis and provided some key tools for the murder of millions. It is a lesson, I hope, that has been remembered and learned.

Investing in Turkey now is but a support of a vicious regime. Europe is terrified of offending Turkey – the latter in order to apply pressure has reopened the doors for refugees to flood Europe. Over 300,000 came from Turley since the failed coup. And this can be a powerful tool to negotiate with the others.

What now?

Businesses have many other options. Investments in countries such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania or Israel are probably more attractive and certainly safer and do not carry the odor of complicity with murderers. All these countries are empowered by young, educated and talented people, which is a treasure for any investment.

This company can provide advisory here as well as guide companies on a most treacherous complicated path. A consumer boycott of Turkish goods would also be useful.

Numerous U.S. companies are shying away from Turkey. Note this report:

The same cannot be said of investors from the West, particularly, if ironically, Silicon Valley, where “saving the world” has become a catch phrase. Many have pulled out of upcoming conferences and events to take place in Istanbul this fall.

“We’ve had nearly everyone from Silicon Valley cancel their plans to come to Startup Istanbul this October,” says Burak Büyükdemir, founder of the Istanbul based startup accelerator eTohum. eTohum hosts Startup Istanbul, a global demo day and conference that draws entrepreneurs and investors from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, every October.

Others from Europe and the U.S., Turkish venture capital investor Numan Numan says, are using Turkey’s many crises to “short change” Turkish startups, presenting term sheets and acquisition offers at reduced valuations. Numan is a partner at the Istanbul based firm 212.

 

Agostino von Hassell

The Repton group LLC

www.thereprongroup.com

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