How a New Power Plant Could Enhance U.S.-Kosovo Relations 

The Republic of Kosovo and New York-based power generator ContourGlobal signed a deal Wednesday for the U.S. company to build a 500-megawatt, coal-fired power plant, the first major energy project in the Balkan country in more than two decades.

Under the $1.5 billion contract, the power plant would replace the “Kosovo A” plant, built in 1962 under the communist Yugoslavian regime. The old, government-owned plant has been distinguished by the World Bank as one of the worst sources of pollution in Europe.

Indeed, Kosovo’s power plant modernization in partnership with the American company is an important step forward,  not only in securing much-needed energy supplies for Kosovars, but in advancing the U.S.-Kosovo relationship.

Since declaring its independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo has made notable progress toward stability and development. The once conflict-torn nation has been transitioning, albeit gradually, to a country that stands firmly for “stronger democracy, greater freedom, and growing economic potential.”

According to The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, Kosovo’s progress toward an open, market-based economy continues, although lingering institutional shortcomings related to the rule of law put downward pressure on its competitiveness.

In a challenging regional economic environment, however, the landlocked economy has outperformed its neighbors.

Read more about Kosovo Economy.
See more from the 2017 Index.

Despite progress, Kosovo’s overall economic development has been notably disadvantaged by lack of a reliable, affordable, and modern supply of energy. Reforming and modernizing the energy sector is a top priority for Kosovo, whose economic growth has been hamstrung by frequent power cuts and an exceptionally high number of energy shortages.

Entrepreneurs and potential investors identify the unreliable energy supply and poor access to electricity as major obstacles to their day-to-day operations and a severe constraint to business expansion. Indeed, more than anything else, the high frequency of power outages and the poor condition of existing power plants have hurt the livelihood of the people of Kosovo.

Building a modern, efficient power plant in Kosovo also offers a unique opportunity to reinforce the young democracy’s evolving bilateral relationship with the U.S. It is further strengthened by the recent signing of a $49 million economic development program with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a federal agency.

Kosovo has been invited to develop project proposals for U.S. grant agreements that must present a strong case for entrepreneurial growth led by the private sector.

The U.S. was one of the first countries to recognize Kosovo’s independence. Since then, the U.S. has urged other countries to extend diplomatic recognition.

During a meeting with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci at the White House in late September, Vice President Mike Pence unambiguously reconfirmed U.S. support “for a sovereign, democratic, and prosperous Kosovo.”

For all the challenges behind and ahead, Kosovo has been moving forward. Ensuring affordable and widely available energy is an essential building block of facilitating that ongoing progress of economic growth and development.

Securing efficient, reliable energy supplies will be a big step, to which Kosovo’s new deal with ContourGlobal makes an important contribution.

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French Kids May Soon Be Able to Have Sex 3 Years Before They Can Join Facebook

France is considering a new law that would require all children under the age of 16 to get parental approval to open a social media account.

The legislation was introduced Wednesday as part of wider push to adapt data privacy regulations.

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“Joining Facebook will involve parental authorization for minors aged under 16,” said Nicole Belloubet, the French justice minister, according to Reuters.

People would have to tick a box to confirm that parental approval has been obtained. The box-tick would be a declaration governed by law, but it’s unclear how enforceable the new legislation would be.

Cellphones will also be banned at French school from the start of the next school year. Children are already banned from using phones in class but the new law would cover recess and lunch breaks.

The country is simultaneously considering a new age of consent for having sex that will likely be lower than the minimum age for signing up for a social media account. The government wants the legal minimum age of consent to be 13, while other French leaders have called for an age limit at 15.

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US Arms Sale to Georgia a Long-Overdue Show of Support for Eurasian Ally

The U.S.- Georgian relationship was taken to a new level on Nov. 20, when President Donald Trump approved something that never occurred during President Barack Obama’s eight years in office. That would be an estimated $75 million deal to sell Javelin anti-tank missiles to the Eastern European republic of Georgia.

After 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations, Tbilisi is more deserving than ever to receive this kind of support.

Georgia is a beacon of hope for the Eurasia region and is a valued partner for the U.S. on a global scale. Since regaining its independence in 1991, Georgia has worked hard to reform its economy and governance—and with much success.

The country has had successive peaceful elections and is deeply committed to integrating into the West. According to The Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, Georgia is ranked 13th in the world for economic freedom, scoring even higher than the United States itself.

Georgia also has geostrategic importance for Europe’s energy security, since it’s a key transit country for oil and gas pipelines to Europe.

From 1991 to the present, Georgia’s democracy has been threatened by Russia in numerous ways—from hybrid warfare to invasion. Because of this, Georgia deserves the chance to defend its borders and its democracy against further Russian aggression. Thankfully, with the sale of these advanced anti-tank missiles, it can.

The weapons sale is important for two main reasons: symbolism and practicality. The sale is symbolic, because it demonstrates the U.S.’ support for Georgia and our alliance, while also being practical, because Georgia can use the weapons for deterrence.

In the next few weeks, the same decision should be made for Ukraine—to arm it with Javelin missiles to deter Russian aggression.

Perhaps the most important reason why Georgia deserves these weapons, however, is because it has proven itself to be a dependable and responsible ally of the United States.

An example of that stems from the war in Afghanistan. Georgia’s contribution has been the largest of any non-NATO member, with a total of 2,000 troops serving at the height of the war.

Today, Georgia still maintains more than 850 troops in Afghanistan. Georgian troops have experienced the highest per-capita death rates in Afghanistan, demonstrating their dedication to helping the U.S. in the war against terrorism.

It is important to note that Georgia is unlikely to utilize the weapons to try to take back its South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions, which Russia illegally has been occupying since 2008.

Since then, Russia has been involved in what is called a “creeping occupation,” in which Russia takes just a bit of Georgian land at a time, drawing very little attention to itself.

Each one of these acts is a blatant violation of international law, and the occupation now has become so domineering that approximately 20 percent of Georgian territory lies under Russian control.

Nevertheless, Georgia actually declared a “non-use of force” pledge, meaning that it only sees a diplomatic outcome in regaining control of the two territories. Russia has failed to reciprocate this pledge.

The bottom line is that the decision to sell these weapons is great news for Georgia, and the U.S. should continue to arm and enhance those capabilities. We should do so not only for Georgia, but for all of our allies—for the sake of America’s national security and prosperity.

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British Media Losing It Over Gavin Williamson’s Comments. They May Not Mock Him for Long.

What a toxic mix of historical amnesia and political opportunism is being heaped upon Gavin Williamson.

The defense secretary noted that, in the war with Iraq and Syria, the British military may end up killing the enemy—including British ISIS fighters. Apparently, we are to consider that commonsense observation to be outrageous.

“Call for troops to kill U.K. ISIS fighters is illegal and immoral, say critics.” That headline in The Guardian topped a story filled with quotes from human rights lawyers, NGOs, and opposition members of Parliament.

Lord Ken MacDonald called Williamson “juvenile,” and even one of Williamson’s government colleagues just told The Times that the Defense Secretary’s approach was “childish.”

Never mind that International Development Minister Rory Stewart said virtually the same thing in October. Never mind that the British government killed two of its own citizens who were fighting alongside ISIS just two years ago, when Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin were targeted in a drone strike in Raqqa.

Let us instead focus on the quality of our other main options for ISIS’ British fighters.

Many still seem not to understand that the United Kingdom’s [U.K.] ability to arrest ISIS fighters abroad is close to zero. The London Metropolitan Police are not going to nip into ISIS-held territory in Syria with a search warrant, handcuffs, and a truncheon and then inform hundreds of terrorist-trained ISIS Brits of their right to remain silent.

Still, any public misunderstanding on this is understandable, as it remains out of the grasp of the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition.

If the request is that we commit British Army forces into Syria in order to capture these fighters and then house them abroad—possibly in a warzone—until the end of hostilities, that is a reasonable position.

Yet politicians and human rights groups should be explicit that this is their preference and argue that we should be back in the business of wartime detention of the enemy (as we were in Iraq).

Of course, there is no political appetite for taking that course of action.

Still, the reality is that many British citizens fighting for ISIS will make their way back to the U.K. from the battlefields of the Middle East. Unless they are dual nationals, it would be illegal to strip them of their citizenship and make them stateless.

This leaves prosecution as the preferred option—and that presents a very significant challenge.

No Brit who fought alongside Islamists in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Somalia, or Yemen was ever prosecuted in a U.K. court. Even now, actual examples from Iraq or Syria are very thin.

We may think the stories of men like Shabazz Suleman—who says he often spent his time with ISIS “playing PlayStation or going around on bike rides”—are ludicrous. But if Suleman returns to the U.K., it would be very difficult to prove that he committed an act of terrorism that would lead to him being locked him up for any serious length of time.

Other countries face the same problem. A returnee called Harry Sarfo was seemingly filmed gunning people down on the streets of Palmyra and still managed to avoid prosecution back in Germany.

The reality is that many ISIS returnees will go onto the pile with the 23,000 other terror suspects already residing in the U.K. We just hope that MI5 are tracking the most dangerous ones.

If ever a year demonstrated that they cannot get it right the whole time, it would be this one.

Yet, for the time being, many of the U.K.’s opinion leaders seem to have adopted the unusual position that letting ISIS’ army into the U.K. and hoping for the best is the intellectually acceptable option and killing our enemy the juvenile one.

Perhaps this view will last. Perhaps not. After all, if the French or Belgian governments had displayed some of Williamson’s “childish” preferences to their citizens who had traveled to Syria, Abdelhamid Abaaoud might well be dead and 130 people unfortunate enough to be in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015 might be alive.

Still, I hope a sneer and a couple of days’ worth of headlines was worth it for Williamson’s critics. Because the next time body parts are scattered over the tube or concert venues, and families are trying to rebuild their shattered lives after the loss of loved ones, the headlines may not be quite as favorable.

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The French Ambassador Insulted US on Pearl Harbor Day. Here’s Why He Shouldn’t Be Talking.

When it comes to who did the most to stop the Nazis in World War II, it would generally be best for France to remain quiet.

Yet, in the tradition of infamous French Ambassador to the United States Citizen Genet—who had to be recalled under George Washington’s administration for meddling in American politics and generally instigating the American people—France’s modern ambassador decided to stir up a hornets nest on Pearl Harbor Day.

Ambassador Gerard Araud said in a tweet that was quickly deleted, “In this Pearl Harbor day, we should remember that the US refused to side with France and UK to confront fascist powers in 1930s.”

The comment sparked immediate and understandable backlash.

The French ambassador tried to make up for his faux pas with qualifications, but the damage was already done.

Plenty have already commented on Araud’s statement and blasted it, but this must be said: Pearl Harbor, one of the darkest days in American history, meant salvation from tyranny for his country and for billions yet unborn.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote of his feeling after he was notified of the Pearl Harbor attack, “Being saturated and satiated with emotion and sensation, I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.”

It would be appropriate for an ambassador to show a little more respect rather than, well, rudeness.

The French ambassador’s statement might have rung more true, even if inappropriate, if it came from the Poles who were crushed by the vast might of Soviet and German armies, yet fought ferociously anyway with little help.

But it was particularly galling coming from France.

While Americans sometimes have a little too low an opinion of France’s historic military capabilities, France’s collapse early in World War II led to the Nazi domination of Europe and the deadliest war in human history.

The French, who had fought so bravely in World War I, put on a miserable showing in World War II, and so cemented a stereotype of haplessness that has pervaded the American mind ever since.

And it didn’t have to happen. Militarily, the French were not nearly as inferior to the German military as is sometimes thought. In some ways, French technology was superior to the vaunted German Wehrmacht.

The French ambassador’s statement on Pearl Harbor Day was galling, inane, pig headed, and wrong. Yet, it is worth reflecting on the stage that Pearl Harbor set for a war we would never want to repeat.

Certainly, the Allied powers made some mistakes in the lead-up to World War II that had horrible consequences and lessons for today.

“Deterrence is not predicated on material capability alone.”

This is one of the key takeaways from Victor Davis Hanson’s excellent new book, “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won,” which instead of simply delivering a timeline history of World War II, explains why the war happened and how it was won and lost.

Hanson, a senior fellow in classics and military history at the Hoover Institution, and author of numerous book on history and war, perfectly captures how the Axis powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy started a global war they couldn’t win and offers a warning for today.

The follies of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s pre-war appeasement of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler are well known.

Less well known is how the Western powers pursued decades of policy and rhetoric to demonstrate to the world that they would avoid war at almost any cost, thereby dooming themselves to be entangled in a global cataclysm.

Hanson writes in the book that “confusion characterized preludes to war during the 1930s.” The democracies “had naively assumed that even non-democratic European nations such as Nazi Germany … [would] have no desire to repeat the appalling bloodletting of the Somme and Verdun in 1916.”

“Such patience and naiveté only eroded classical deterrence and encouraged furthered Nazi aggrandizement,” Hanson writes.

Hanson explained at a Heritage Foundation event in November that little was done to dissuade Nazi Germany from believing its opponents were weak and rotted out.

For instance, Holland “abandoned the word ‘destroyer’” as a term for warships because it sounded too militant, according to Hanson. And France stopped paying tributes to its World War I victory at Verdun.

Hanson said this rhetoric convinced Hitler that the Allies “had no belly” for war.

The result was the worst catastrophe in the history of human civilization.

But it should never have happened. The Axis powers didn’t have the capacity to wage and win the kind of war that the series of conflicts turned into.

While it was the Axis who started the war, and early on appeared to be unstoppable, only the Allies possessed the capacity to not only win wars on their borders, but take the fight to the enemies’ homelands and conquer them.

Before World War II, the United States had the 19th-largest military in the world, had only about 200,000 active-duty soldiers, and was caught in the throes of a depression. This concealed the fact that the U.S. was actually capable of unleashing its war-making capacity far beyond anything Germany, Japan, or Italy could comprehend.

By the end of the war, America had an 8 million-man force deployed across the globe, a navy larger than all other navies combined, and a wartime gross domestic product that surpassed all other belligerents, again, combined.

In other words, the U.S. alone was a ruthlessly strong nation, but when added with its powerful allies, the Soviet Union and Great Britain, the Axis were hopelessly outclassed.

Even Great Britain, the “weakest” of the major Allied powers, matched and sometimes surpassed German productivity in many crucial areas, even after the Nazi regime gained control of almost all of continental Europe.

Unfortunately, weakness projected by the Western powers prior to the war helped give the Axis a false notion that they could essentially conduct a series of smaller wars unimpeded. When this idea was combined with the stunning and almost unimaginable collapse of France early in the war, a regional conflict quickly snowballed into a global one.

The productive capacity of the Allies eventually tipped the war in their favor, but not before the Axis were able to exact a heavy human toll on the Allies.

“In sum,” Hanson wrote, “victory in World War II was a morality tale of production besting killing: Those who made more stuff beat those who killed more people.”

In his talk at Heritage, Hanson explained how we should take some of these lessons to heart today.

Importantly, we should recognize that “human nature is constant throughout time and space.”

Failing to communicate to other regimes, like China or North Korea, that we are a behemoth that shouldn’t be trifled with is a mistake. For instance, Hanson noted, “We can destroy North Korea in minutes,” but they may not understand that we can if provoked.

“I was worried the last eight years because we had conveyed a false impression to the world that even though we have overwhelming strength,” other potentially hostile regimes might be given the impression that isn’t the case.

While the media and political class have reacted negatively to President Donald Trump’s more militant statements, Hanson said that ultimately, “no wars started because of a bellicose statement.”

Instead, they begin because the enemy perceives weakness that can be exploited for easy gain.

This is a timely message for current and future generations who stand more and more removed from the events of World War II, in which only enormous sacrifices and raw power prevented the world from falling into darkness.

The key for us today, for all free people who owe an unpayable debt to the strength of the allied armies who won the war, is in preventing such a calamity from taking place again.

Peace through strength is no mere slogan.

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