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Theodore Dalrymple
The European Crack-Up « Back to Story
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@Montrealman (a.k.a. Robert Abitbol)

Robert, your half-hearted denial of your identity is not convincing.

Anyone who wants to know who you are can Google your name. They may also examine the posts of "Montrealman" at "The Coast" (Halifax, Nova Scotia).

If the moderators of City Journal are willing to tolerate your activities here, that is up to them. Readers will already have noticed that you do not bring anything to the debate, and that it is pointless trying to reason with you. They might not be aware that you have enjoyed disrupting one Web community after another, over a period of several years.

My correspondence with you is now closed.

James (Jan. 31, 10:53AM)

Well, thank you James although I'm not sure about the veracity of your numbers. But I think you might have a point. Not many on the Internet have my light, dancing style combined with deep and wide erudition but, given sufficient exposure, one or two might rise up out of the linguistic slag-heap.

But you have me on Robert Abitbol, James. There is absolutely no cerebral, to say nothing of cognitive resonance. If you like you can tell me who he might be but - I don't want to disappoint you here James - I really don't have the slightest interest.

A pleasure as always.


Five hundred million English-speaking people use the Internet. Only one writes like you.

You are Robert Abitbol, aren't you?

: James (Jan. 30, 10:15PM)

Well, it seems it's time for a little house-cleaning.

First, James accuses me of "sterotyping" and then goes on to stereotype me as one who gets a lot of pleasure from, wait for it, stereotyping people. Good going, James!

Second, I never called "all" of you "wing-nuts." I only called some of you "wing-nuts," those of you who were, wait for it again James, actually wing-nuts.

Third, the saying, "The wogs begin at the Channel" is not mine nor do I agree with it. However, I have some familiarity with the locutions of the English lower classes - of which I am not one, I hasten to add - and it is there that the expression flourishes. Your claim that I used it in "nearly every one of my posts" is just factually false, James. Where I did use it, it was to draw attention to an ethnocentric mind-set of a certain "tranche" (that means "slice," James) of English public opinion in respect to which our friend Theodore does not seem to be exempt.

Fourth, I am not unaware of Thedore's writings, James, and to suggest that I am is, um, a gratuitous insult.

Fifth, I never evaluate ideas by their nationality, only by their content and I must say James, that yours seem to be seriously impoverished in that regard.

Sixth, I don't suppose you would have the slightest evidence that I am "60 years out of date." While I suppose you are referring to WWII, why don't you go instead to an east-end London pub and ask the "lads" their opinion of the Germans? While you're at it, why not ask about their opinion of the Frogs and Dagos?

Seventh, you appear to have serious cognitive challenges, James. My posts have always been in favour of viewing the French and Germans as "our friends and allies." Unfortunately, this is not the case with Theodore who has a decidedly ethnocentric view of things. Read my post of Jan. 24, 1:53PM over again and silently to yourself. (Try not to move your lips.)

A pleasure as always.

> A pleasure as always.

Well, Montrealman, I have read a number of your posts, and it certainly does seem that you get a lot of pleasure from your stereotyping of people you have never met, and your ad-hominem attacks. Starting with calling us all "wing-nuts". Continuing by attributing to the British the belief that "wogs begin at the Channel". In fact you like this sentence so much that you have used it in nearly every one of your posts.

By attributing this opinion to Theodore Dalrymple, you are not merely resorting to a gratuitous insult, you are displaying your ignorance of his writing.

You would do well to examine your own attitude that der Spiegel is a "German forcing house of democratic principles". One day you will learn to evaluate ideas by their content, not by their nationality, and if you had bothered to read the three articles from der Spiegel you would have found them to be balanced and factual.

Montrealman, you are at least 60 years out of date in your opinions of the British. The French and Germans are our friends and allies, even if we all sometimes find it exasperating having to compromise with each other in EU politics. Vive la difference!

Economics often does trump politics. Usually when one's line of credit runs out.

: James (Jan. 29, 10:15PM)

"These three articles describe in painful detail how the dream of politicians trumped economics at every turn."

The three articles, or at least two of them, are from "Der Spiegel," that German forcing house of democratic principles.

Of course, James is totally wrong as I have been at pains to previously point out in my refernce to "The wogs begin at the Channel." It's no "dream," James. Politics have always trumped economics at every turn, and you should know this but apparently you don't.

Nut why is this so? James, you must read a bit of history. Then you'll find out.

A pleasure as always.


@Pieter Stek
The integrationists are certainly not stupid. They were fully aware of the problems inherent in the Euro, and they went ahead anyway, perhaps in the belief that when the inevitable crisis came, the only way to resolve it would be further integration. However the integrationists forgot that each country of the EU is a democracy. It will be extremely hard to find a solution that satisfies both German voters and Greek voters.

One aspect of Belgianization is the use of public money to bribe people and groups into supporting the multinational state to which they would otherwise have no loyalty. This is covered (with comparisons between Belgium and the EU) in this review by John O'Sullivan of the book "A Throne in Brussels: Britain, the Saxe-Coburgs and the Belgianization of Europe" by Paul Belien:

Der Spiegel has given us a complete and honest account of the history of the Euro: this is the first article of three:,1518,790568,00.html

The three articles describe in painful detail how the dreams of politicians trumped economics at every turn. The third article concludes that the Eurozone must either eject some members, or become a "transfer union", with Germany subsidising the other countries.

In contrast, the recent EU summit was not brave enough to propose either of these solutions.

The depth of our leaders' denial is breathtaking, and is a natural continuation of the sorry history that der Spiegel's journalists have carefully chronicled in those three articles. More than anything, this denial should warn us all to prepare for a total financial collapse.
: Kathryn Hennessy (Jan, 29, 3:01PM)

Well, thank you Kathryn. I always try to do my best and was pleased to learn that you felt that you had "got it" when you had finished. The fact that you are an English teacher certainly adds weight to your remarks although it's not clear just what that might have to do with "the European Crack-Up." In any case I will continue to "foment about anything and everything."
Thanks once again for your encouragement.

A pleasure as always.

The European project is like a container of spoiled milk with its last use date smudged and illegible.
I love to read your articles. You write so well, and I always feel that "I get it" when I have finished. Perhaps because I am an English teacher I am more critical than most, but please do continue to foment about anything and everything.
Well written, fun to read! The author may prove to be right. However, he underestimates the integrationists. They are not fools as he suggests and the interests involved in preserving the Euro and deepening integration are huge. Certainly the governments in the Euro zone have their work cut out for themselves and certainly they cannot continue to ignore popular feeling about the European project, where this is negative. Perhaps Belgium will show the way!
AdeOlula (Jan. 25, 12:23PM)

My reference to Theodore's "little Englander" mentality was in the context of his article, "The European Crack-Up." The fact that he has criticized his own country, or more properly, the lower classes of his on country, is not inconsistent with his "little Englander" mentality. In fact, if you ask me, it rather complements it.

I don't have an obsession with your name, AdeOluOla. I was just being friendly. You can call me "MM" if you like. Be my guest.
A typical person with a "little Englander" mentality would go to any length to conceal his countrymen's pathologies while highlighting those of foreigners. Have you read "Life at the Bottom" by any chance? Or "Our Culture and what's left of it"? Mr Dalrymple highlights humanity's follies whereever he witnesses them.

And what's this obsession with my name? I have not given you permission to call me by my first name, so don't!

P.S. AdeOluOla, you've got to stay on the playing field. Read the title of Darymple's piece again. Do you see it? It reads, "The European Crack-UP."

That's right, AdeOluOla, "European." The last time I looked, when you cross the English Channel, you don't bump into Africa. Do you get it? Africa is off the screen, AdeOluOla.

As far as Darymple's home in France goes - who knows, who cares? If he wants to swan around in France, that's his business but, of course, that has nothing to do with the "European Crack-Up."

As I say, AdeOluOla, you've got to stay on the playing field.
AdeOluOla (Jan. 25, 8:38AM)

I was referring to Theodore's "little England" mentality, not where he has a home (where you think (?) he lives for part of the year. Could you be specific? Maybe working and travelling by bus in Africa simply confirmed those views. And who says he likes the (lower class) English any better?

I'm not saying he's "exenophobic," just your typical "little Englander."
Whisper it gently....Theodore Dalrymple has a home in France and I think lives there for part of the year! He also lived and worked in Africa for a long spell and I believe travelled the length of the continent by public transport! Not something many Africans would ever consider doing. Writing on what has witness hardly translates to xenophobia. Besides, has written extensively about the pathologies that afflict his own countrymen as well. "The wogs begin at the Channel" is not rational in this case and certainly does not apply.
"It does not occur to the unionists that different countries really ARE different: not a little bit, but radically, in culture, language, history, traditions, and economies. The term 'European' is not meaningless, but whatever content the term may have, it is not sufficient for the formation of a viable polity."

Translation: "The wogs begin at the Channel."
As we Irish are no more or less virtuous than anyone else, we have cause to worry when others call us either sinners or saints; so why is Mr Dalrymple praising us?
My husband and I lived in France from 2000-2007 December. We talked among our French friends about the up coming Euro community, no borders, and the new currency. They, as well as the other countries (citizens), were very upset about this, because the decision was not given to the voters of each country. This thuggery take over of peoples lives affected them greatly without their voice and fears allowed to be heard at the voting polls. The two previous leaders of Germany and France just wanted a feather in their cap before retiring. The citizens knew that this European community would destroy their countries, culture, languages, economy, and borders. Two years ago, England and France completed a study about how this effected their countries and the results were eye opening. Each countries' language and culture were being destroyed and the economy is tanking for all countries. Assistance (European Well fair)has grow to the point of placing a tax burden yolk on the working class. Border security has been burdened to the point, that the authorities can't do their job. The mooching Muslims have caused the most burden on all the countries. The results of these studies came to a startling conclusion that the European Community Project has turned Europe into alphabet soup and has destroy the wonderful unique cultures, religions, languages, and customs (differences) between the countries. You ask the average European and they will tell you they never did want it. On the news media, my husband and I watched many riots in the streets in each country, because they (leaders) would not allow their countrymen to vote on this issue before 2001. The European Community Project was begun in 1950, it took them from 1950-2001 to draw up a Euro Constitution, this should tell you something? A complete failure.
“The Irish understood, as no other people seems to have understood, that they were complicit in the crisis. They had enjoyed the party while it lasted; they had elected and retained in power the politicians who brought them unrestricted cheap credit; they had crowed over their rapidly accumulating wealth as house prices rose giddily; they had derided warning voices as unpatriotic; they had borrowed money as if it grew on trees; and even taxi drivers and supermarket workers had spoken gleefully of their Spanish holiday homes.”

“But in recognizing the painful fact that the guilt of others does not constitute one’s own innocence, the Irish set the world an example.”

If I had the means, I would project these two statements to the skies so that they could be read by all humanity. Africans and peoples of African descent should find these statements especially useful.
I am certain the difference between Irish and Greek reactions to the debt crisis is largely down to huge residual influence of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, both from a personal morality/responsibility viewpoint and an educational one.
The influence of the Catholic church which until relatively recently (perhaps the diminution of that influence is why so many did not notice they were building their foundations on sand) did so much to help the Irish shake off their pathologies by replacing impulsiveness and disorder with disciple and order, allied with helping the individual take responsibility for his/her actions.
Recently though, the Irish appear to have decided to throw the baby out with the bath water, concentrating only on the faults of the Catholic Church while neglecting the massive good the Church managed to achieve in Ireland. The number of Irish youngsters I have come across in London in the last few years who have nothing good whatsoever to say about the contribution of the Catholic Church to the development of Ireland is as mind boggling as it is astonishing. These youngsters concentrate only on the child sexual abuse and the perceived sadistic oppression meted out by some priests and nuns while neglecting the inculcation of moral virtues and the tough-minded education that Catholic doctrine and schools provided. Catholic doctrine of course also places the onus of responsibility for one’s actions on the individual, hence the main reason why many Irish (unlike their Greeks counterparts) must have understood and recognised their own culpability in the sorry mess of the financial crisis.
Here is what the bible says about the matter which is what the Catholic Church has distilled and tries to inculcate via its doctrine and schools: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”
Sebastian (Jan. 23, 4:47AM)

"However, I must add that conflict of interest does not automatically make a bed for bellicosity."

Right on, Sebastian! Now, I wonder if Theodore is listening. Probably not. He's a "little Englander" you know, and, as I previously wrote, believes that "The wogs begin at the Channel."

You know what that makes you in his eyes, Sebastian, don't you?
Reading this article as a french speaking belgian.
It's a balanced euroskeptical view of the situation. And as it's balanced it's worth the reading.
However, I must add that conflict of interest does not automatically make a bed for bellicosity.
A french author that could be appreciated in UK and who made an analysis of european anthropological diversity is Emmanuel Todd, whose 'Invention de l'Europe' explains the deep differences that make European Project so difficult, though not presuming of its value.
Concerning German situation, I think their surplus is based on :
- their profound understanding of the need for keeping basic industrial capability even with "high added value-based" economy (good point)
- their understanding of the need to integrate the Eastern countries' economies inside the european industry network (another good point), first of all as low cost suppliers;
- their use of the euro as the lock against the old devaluation solution in neighbouring countries (probably not foreseen by Germany at the beginning of common currency, but now seen as the best trade advantage of the euro, though not admitted so)
- their structural deficit of the inside demand (cultural trend) which is a trait not replicable in all other countries (and it's a chance): such deficit of the demand, for sure not remedied by the 2003 German work market reform, makes stem countries (like Japan) succesfull only with the deficit of the others, though they blame such deficits as being incompatible to their ethics.
Would we all be german-like consumers with german-like lower wages, the whole industry would be in massive over-capacity crisis, even in Germany.
We all know what Theodore thinks: "The wogs begin at the Channel."
If "nationalism is dangerous", then certainly, supernationalism is super-dangerous. (Analogous to power corrupting.)

One might say that Belgium is suffering its just deserts from what King Leopold II did in the Congo.

Perhaps, like the District of Columbia, they can become a separate entity (neither a state nor a country), but a lofty pinnacle from which they can rule over Europe.
I quote the paragraph to examine: "Greece was another matter. The government, also relying on euro-based good credit, borrowed simply to bolster its public sector. When this differently constructed pyramid collapsed, the population’s chief object became warding off change—ensuring, that is, that it continued to receive more than it earned and consume more than it produced. Yes, the government was corrupt; yes, foreign bankers lent irresponsibly. But did Greeks really not know that tax evasion was standard practice in their country, and by no means only among the elite; that much of the employment in the public sector was bogus make-work; that retirement conditions superior to those in Germany were unearned and unsustainable; and that their political and administrative class was composed of liars and cheats? Blaming the Germans—the Nazi stereotype emerged quickly, once European subsidies were reduced—became a convenient way to avoid self-examination."
That is the most stereotyped file I have ever encountered. To start with, OECD data suggest another story when German and Greek pensions are compared. Are Greeks corrupt in a different way than Germans or Americans? Ok, then Siemens and Man and The Submarines are Greek scandals only. Tax evasion? Ask Mitt Romney how to do it. Or perhaps that guy in Nasdaq. And finally, yes The Nazi stereotype exists. Please visit the city of Kalavryta or choose from 100 and more other sites from Macedonia, to Epirus and Crete to examine what kind of stereotype this is.
But Greece is not insolvent theoretically, is it? Greece is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. It could pay back the debt by some kind of one-off property tax for instance.
You got it in a nut shell ol son.
Some here have objected to my call for a stupidity censor on this list. I had a nearly 40 years long career censoring both ignorance and stupidity - I was a teacher, and that's what teachers do. As far as I am concerned, the stupid and the ignorant have no intellectual rights that the educated and intelligent are in duty bound to respect.As for the request for examples of jejune comments, if the person who requested them does not know enough to identify them himself, let him stew. I am retired and intend to stay that way.
Dalrymple's insightful analysis should inform us about the future of the United States. From the beginning of European settlement, the North American continent was contested by English/German/Dutch peoples, on one side, and French/Spanish/Indian peoples, on the other. The triumph of the former led to a nation guided by Anglo-Saxon impulses, the same impulses that have made Germany quasi-master of today's Europe in spite of crushing defeats in two world wars. But, profligate immigration of peoples with different impulses and world views, i.e., from almost anywhere except northern Europe, have injected formerly alien impulses into the North American continent, and the fecundity of those immigrant populations guarantees the swamping of the culture of the original northern European population and, with it, their culture, the culture that produced the most productive economy and the highest per capita income in the world. And I have not even spoken of the consequences of the early introduction of African slaves with yet other cultural impulses, because I do not want to suggest that the problem has anything to do with race, because it does not. It has to do with culture. The outcome of all this "multiculturalism," I fear, will be, in some perhaps not too distant future, the political breakup of the United States into something resembling, in the small, the states of the former Yugoslavia, and in the large, today's Europe.
I'd guess that the responsible attitude of the Irish is related to their strong religious character, which they lost not long enough ago to have destroyed the morality that so many of them were brought up with. If this happens in 50 years, it might be a different story.
Thank you Dr. Dalrymple for your well explicated overview. There is also, in the paradigm of the dangers of the EU/federalization, a lesson for all of us daily alarmed at the excess of big government here in the US. This president Of whom we must be rid, has single handedly created a new sub/super bureaucracy by executive appointment. A whole new EU bureaucracy has proved to be the enemy of democracy and so it is everywhere. Bureaucracy is the enemy of democracy.
Brilliant, quite brilliant, and to use Belgium as the perfect encapsulation of all that proves the project wrong is a masterstroke
Without doubt this the finest articles written about as he himself puts it "The European Crack-Up".what frightens me is how much more damage will these disgraceful and inadequate politicians be allowed to get away with it and how long will it be before there is real social unrest....
" The question implied that the choice before Europe was between the European Union and fascism: that all that stood between us and the ascension to power of new Mussolinis, Francos, and Hitlers were the free lunches of senior Eurocrats."

Heh! Actually the EU is fascism.
The sheeple of Europe got shorn. They sold out the future, and now they must live in it.
`all too frequently jejune comments are embarrassing`
DDT sounds like a typical European Bureaucrat who'd like to censor what others think and write. How dare the hoi polloi have jejune comments...let's appoint a stupidity CENSOR! This is precisely what TD has been alerting us to all these years!
I would often like to forward some of CJ's articles to others who might profit from reading them, but the all too frequently jejune comments are embarrassing. CJ needs to find itself a better class of readers, or at least appoint a stupidity censor.
This was definitely a dystopian critique of the EU. A good dose of "realism."
It would be inspiring to investigate how some of the peoples of Europe are working on creating a sustainable future, such as the Danes en masse, as well as groups in every country pushing up through the cracks of the old economies.
I'm astonished that the socialists of Fantasyland Europe managed to parasitize European and American taxpayers this long.
Sic transit gloria mundi.
Beancounter's Daughter January 18, 2012 at 8:19 PM
Mr. Dalrymple's wry British succinctness lays it out for us ordinary folks. Europe's elites (Eurokrats, are the visionaries who set up an unsustainable monetary system. Unfortunately they will likely use any chaos due to their bad ideas to get a bigger grip on power over the men and women in Europe whose jobs fund the system.

My father, a WWII vet and retired CPA, used to say that nearly all of the villainy in life could be traced by "following the money". Like Ike, he said to pay particular attention to public money spent for the so called benefit of all. Good luck Europe, but good luck USA when our debt problems tip into crisis. I doubt if we'll handle it like Ireland. I rather expect it will look like the 1960s riots on steroids.
"many a revolutionary being a frustrated bureaucrat"

In the present American administration it seems that many a bureaucrat is a frustrated revolutionary.

"...which awarded whole populations unearned benefits at the expense of generations to come..."

That, in a nutshell, is Europe's problem, America's problem, Japan's problem, etc. Everyone has spent this week's paycheck a long time ago. There are no more advances to be had from the boss, there are just loan sharks and cutbacks.
Thank you for one of your most incisive - even pungent - diagnoses.

Since the disastrous events of 2008 I have often wondered why national governments find it necessary to borrow money at all. After all, don't the politicians who compose those governments frequently lecture private citizens on the need to live within their means, save, and provide for their own future?

Just think how much trouble could have been avoided if governments lived within their means. And the only sacrifice would be that politicians would not be able to pretend that they are doing more for voters than is really sustainably possible. We might call the policy "honest budgeting"...
The author of this piece is a genius. I've read hundreds of analyses, and this is the one that "cuts to the chase" to coin a phrase.
A reduced standard of living for everyone is the only way out of this mess. The welfare state is unsustainable, obviously.

Your analysis is correct, but Sarkozy has already mentioned that a euro collapse could lead to war. An interbellum of almost 70 years is long enough to ignore history's lessons. The level of stupidity rampant among politicians never ceases to amaze me.
Your comments are right on. My only beef is with the Ireland-Greece comparison. They are equally guilty whether one inflated the private sector and the other the public. It just seems you wax a bit heroic when referring to the Irish as accepting their collective "guilt" by refraining from social and political revolt. This is probably due more to the fact that they are not as syndicalized as Greece and that Greece's public (i.e. "protest" sector) is much larger, not to anything intrinsic or racial.
Dalrymple nails it again. There will be some hangover coming from this experiment.
The EU is not too unlike the union you get by tying two cats together by the tail and tossing them over a hi wire.
I thoroughly enjoyed this article. Just one caveat, however. "The Royal Bank of Scotland lent $50 billion—about $12,000 per person in Ireland. British, German, and Belgian banks together lent about $100,000 per head, which would work out to about $300 trillion had they lent in America in the same fashion." It would work out to about $30 trillion had they lent in America in the same fashion.
Yes a very good analysis but what is left to be said is what the windup looks like. We already see Greek children abandoned by their parents and Portugese professionals emigrating to Brazil . The prescribed austerity only leads to a death spiral, but further lending to the bankrupts is silly . With all deference to my friend south of the Rio , it's a true Mexican standoff
Excellent analysis. The birds have come home to roost.
Sheryl Meek;

The rich do indeed pay taxes.The US has the most progressive tax system in the world, meaning it relies on the wealthiest Americans to pay most of the country's taxes - and they do. The top 25% of earners pay 85%

Quote: “a new study on inequality by researchers at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris reveals that when it comes to household taxes (income taxes and employee social security contributions) the U.S. "has the most progressive tax system and collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10% of the population." As Column 1 in the table below shows, the U.S. tax system is far more progressive—meaning pro-poor—than similar systems in countries most Americans identify with high taxes, such as France and Sweden.”
Excellent analysis.
How can one man--"Dalrymple"--so often get it right when so many other men mostly get it wrong? Congratulations CITY JOURNAL for being one of his too few outlets.
And next in line for a nation that is being encouraged by the current political leadership to turn om itself, a la Greece . . . I give you Obamaland.

I think that every Country should stop getting their money from each other and to start learning to live with what they have.. no credit .. that includes the USA. we also need to learn to pay the taxes and even the rich should pay taxes and not find ways out of paying them. We all need to learn to live with what we have and to save for what we want. It's sad to think that the word "credit" has the world in trouble. It's going to be hard for us all. but it's going to happen. so if you have land you will be better off then the ones in the big cities because you will be able to grow food. so get out your sewing machine to make you clothes because the 40's and 50's are coming back. The days of over spending is over for all of us.
While European insolvency is a threat to world economies America's national debt is the greatest danger ever witnessed in the modern era. America owes 15 trillion dollars through poor leadership and Obama's incompetence. Once the dollar falls there will be an International Depression in which China will emerge as the preeminent military power in the world, and wars will follow shortly thereafter.
One fundamental process in Europe is often completely neglected, when these economic affairs are discussed: the enforced Islamisation of the continent (by immigration, not convertion). One main motivation for enforcing Islamisation on a European scale might be the empire building desire of our leaders (not shared by the people). In only a few generations, Europes unmanageable diversity will be replaced by a new homogenity in race, language and believes. The empire builders will like the fact, that the new pan-european religion will allow them to easily manipulate and control their new citizens, much easier than the native Europeans. Too bad, that Europe won't be Europe anymore, then.
"It happens that the central offices of the E.U. are located in Brussels. Yet the political difficulties of Belgium do not give the European unionists pause for thought—or, if they do pause, they reach a peculiar conclusion: that what has not worked in two centuries in a small area with only two populations will work in a few years in a much larger area with a multitude of populations."


(Unfortunately, it's probably too late for the Croatians to realize this, as they prepare to merrily board the organizational equivalent of the Costa Concordia.)
"It is symptomatic of Europe’s sickness that refraining from government seizure of money is now deemed by its political class to be predation."
That's it - Europe's socialist sickness in one succinct statement. But the war is almost over as the socialists have run out of OPM (other people's money).