President Donald Trump has stood by claims he was wiretapped under Barack Obama, telling visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "At least we have something in common, perhaps."
US intelligence agencies under Mr Obama reportedly monitored Mrs Merkel's phone, sparking an angry response.
But both Republican and Democratic congressional leaders have said they do not believe Mr Trump was wiretapped.
Mr Trump and Mrs Merkel have discussed key issues including Nato and trade.
Her visit had been scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed due to a snowstorm.
Mr Trump made his wire-tapping jibe in a joint press conference with Mrs Merkel. She gave a quizzical look.
He was also asked about a comment by White House press secretary Sean Spicer that the UK's GCHQ spy agency had carried out wiretapping on Mr Trump during the US election campaign.
Mr Trump said Mr Spicer had been quoting a comment on Fox TV. The president said he had not offered an opinion on it, adding: "You shouldn't be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox."
Fox later read out a statement on air, saying: "Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president of the United States was surveilled at any time in any way, full stop."
GCHQ rejected the allegations against it as "nonsense" and Downing Street says it has been assured the US will not repeat the claims.
The US president was also asked if he regretted any of his regular tweets. He said "very seldom", adding that it was a way to "get round the media when it doesn't tell the truth".
The body language was at times awkward. In an earlier photo opportunity in the White House, Mrs Merkel asked him quietly: "Do you want a handshake?" He looked forwards with his hands clasped and did not reply.
Analysis: BBC North American reporter Anthony Zurcher
The US president and the German chancellor were standing on the same stage, but it often seemed they inhabited different political universes.
Donald Trump, once again, focused on the issues that he campaigned on - issues, he is quick to remind reporters, that won him the presidency. He was quick to talk about "fair" trade, immigration control, military strength and manufacturing jobs.
Angela Merkel, on the other hand, focused on the benefits of globalism, openness to refugees and the need to negotiate a "safe and secure solution for Ukraine".
Leaders find their way into politics "on different pathways", as Mrs Merkel pointed out, and that was clearly the case at the White House on Friday afternoon.
The fast-talking Mrs Merkel, steeped in policy details, stood in stark contrast to the staccato Mr Trump, who once again railed against unfair treatment at the hands of foreign trade negotiators and the domestic media.
Somehow these two very different individuals will have to find a way to work together on issues of global importance. This face-to-face meeting - complete with non-handshake and awkward body language - will likely prove to be only a tentative first step.
Nato and trade were key points of discussion for the two leaders.
Mr Trump reiterated his strong support for the alliance, but also "the need for our Nato allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defence".
Germany is among many Nato members that do not meet the benchmark 2% of GDP to be spent on defence.
Mrs Merkel said Germany was committed to increasing its defence spending.
On trade, Mr Trump bristled at a suggestion that he believed in "isolationist" policies. He told the reporter asking the question: "I don't know what newspaper you're reading, but I guess that would be an example of fake news."
He added: "I believe a policy of trade should be a fair trade. And the United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years and that's going to stop."
Mrs Merkel, who was travelling with top executives from German companies Siemens, Schaeffler and BMW, said she hoped the US and the EU could resume talks on removing barriers to bilateral trade.
Immigration was clearly one of the issues on which the leaders had, as Mrs Merkel put it, "an exchange of views".
He said immigration was "a privilege not a right" and that "safety of our citizens must come first", whereas she said: "Refugees have to be given the opportunity to shape their own lives."
Their first meeting came as she prepares for an election battle later in the year, seeking a fourth term as chancellor.
'Awkward few moments' - Body language expert Professor Geoffrey Beattie of Edge Hill University
This is an awkward few moments in front of the cameras. The most significant aspect of this particular 'interaction' is the actual lack of any interaction between the two. President Trump uses a 'steeple' gesture - fingertips together, but pointing forward. Steeple gestures are usually associated with extreme confidence. This one suggests the cameras (to which he is pointing) are the most important thing in the room, indeed more important than Mrs Merkel.
As is often the case with Donald Trump, it is nonverbal communication primarily about power and status. Mrs Merkel's body language reinforces rather than contradicts this message. She leans towards him, attentive to his every signal, but he pays her no visual attention.
At one point, Mrs Merkel makes an involuntary movement as if psychologically prepared to shake his hand, but Mr Trump makes no such movement. He is in control of this interaction and he knows it. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39310801
Donald Trump does not like or respect women, especially women who are not gorgeous--going so far to make adhominem attack on a former female associate saying "she had a face like a dog." Yet, he does not trust men. This became obvious with all the male campaign managers he hired in 2016, whom he refused to listen to or take their advice, thereby his campaign falter until he hired Kellyanne Conroy then it rocketed. Moreover, Trump does not even trust his own sons. This is evident by the fact that he will not turn the Trump Brand over them as owners so that he can Emolument embroilment. Men for Trump is a testosterone challenge. He needs in his psychology to be top-dog in all social and private encounters. However Angela Merkle is a psychological challenge to Trump, his manhood, and his intellect.
Germany rejects Trump's claim it owes NATO and U.S. 'vast sums' for defense
German Defense minister Ursula von der Leyen listens to media in Amari air base, Estonia, March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's claim that Germany owes NATO and the United States "vast sums" of money for defense.
"There is no debt account at NATO," von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance's target for members to spend 2 percent of their economic output on defense by 2024 solely to NATO.
"Defense spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism," von der Leyen said.
She said everyone wanted the burden to be shared fairly and for that to happen it was necessary to have a "modern security concept" that included a modern NATO but also a European defense union and investment in the United Nations.
Trump said on Twitter on Saturday - a day after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington - that Germany "owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!"
Trump has urged Germany and other NATO members to accelerate efforts to meet NATO's defense spending target.
German defense spending is set to rise by 1.4 billion euros to 38.5 billion euros in 2018 - a figure that is projected to represent 1.26 percent of economic output, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said.
In 2016, Germany's defense spending ratio stood at 1.18 percent.
During her trip to Washington, Merkel reiterated Germany's commitment to the 2 percent military spending goal.
Trump's main fault as a "world leader" is his lack of historical knowledge. The European leaders understand that two world wars were fought on the land and that peace in Europe, and the UK, is relatively new in historical terms, 70 year.
Follow The Money: Banking Questions For The Trump Administration48:15
March 20, 2017
Foreign banks and the Trump administration. From Cyprus to Germany to Russia, we’ll follow the money trail.
Commerce Secretary-designate Wilbur Ross, center, listens to President Donald Trump during a meeting with House and Senate legislators in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Russia hearings, kicking off today on Capitol Hill, looking at Russian interference in the US presidential election season and the Trump campaign. It’s hot, and we’ll bring you insights gleaned as they come. But there’s another story out there that resonates to the hearings. It’s about what Donald Trump owns and who he owes. The president’s large debt, who holds it, and what influence that may or may not create over his policies. This hour, On Point: Donald Trump’s debt and debtors. — Tom Ashbrook
New Yorker: Donald Trump's Worst Deal — "The Trump Tower Baku originally had a construction budget of a hundred and ninety-five million dollars, but it went through multiple revisions, and the cost ended up being much higher. The tower was designed by a local architect, and in its original incarnation it had an ungainly roof that suggested the spikes of a crown. A London-based architecture firm, Mixity, redesigned the building, softening its edges and eliminating the ornamental roof. By the time the Trump team officially joined the project, in May, 2012, many condominium residences had already been completed; at the insistence of Trump Organization staffers, most of the building’s interior was gutted and rebuilt, and several elevators were added."
DC Report: Wilbur Ross Comes to D.C. With an Unexamined History of Russian C... — "In Ross, we see an indirect beneficiary of the 1990s Russian debacle. More suspicious money inundated Cyprus, and especially the Bank of Cyprus, than could possibly be put to work in that island nation. Ultimately this created a lucrative opportunity for Ross, his investment group, and the wealthy Russian investors in the Bank. The Bank of Cyprus is certainly no ordinary bank. At the time it nearly failed in March 2013, it was the largest financial institution in Cyprus, a tiny island country that is strategically located in the eastern Mediterranean and is one of the EU’s newest members." http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2017/03/20/trump-money-russia-banking
This program aired on March 20, 2017.
Ian Morris in Why The West Rules--Rules For Now: The patterns Of History And What They Reveal About The Future (2010) gives a glimpse of the past that threatens to overtake the United States in the 21st century. Morris posits that nineteen forty-five simultaneously ended Japan's attempt to win the war of the East and expel the Western imperialists, and Germany's to create a sub continental empire in Europe, but it also ended the western European oceanic empires. Too drained by total war to resist nationalist revolts any longer, these melted away within a generation. Europe was shattered. Its "economic, social and political collapse," one American officer mused in 1945, seemed "unparalleled in history unless one goes back to the collapse of the Roman Empire."
Western social development did not collapse in 1945, though, because the core was by now so big that not even the greatest war ever fought cold wreck all of it. The Soviets had rebuilt their industries beyond German's reach, and bombs had barely touched the United States (other than the attack on Pearl Harbor, the only destruction on American soil came from a single Japanese plane, launched from a submarine, that bombed Brookings, Oregon, in 1942). By contrast, the devastation visited by Japan on China and by the United States on Japan had gutted the Eastern core, with the consequence that the Second World War--like the First--made Western rule still stronger. There seemed little doubt that Western dominance was here to stay; the question was whether its leadership would be Soviet or American.
These two empires divided the old European core between them, splitting Germany down the middle. American money-men then hashed out a new international financial system for capitalism and crafted the Marshall Plan, perhaps the most enlightened piece of self-interest on record. If Europeans had money in their pockets, Americans reasoned, they could buy American food, import American machinery to rebuild their own industry, and--most important of all--restrain themselves from voting Communist; so America simply gave them $13.5 billion, one-twentieth of its entire 1948 production.
Western Europeans mostly grabbed American's money, accepted its military leadership, and joined or drafted toward a democratic, pro-trade European union. This began with the Organization for European economic cooperation, founded in 1948, and the 1952 European Coal and Steel Community. These were refounded in 1958 as the European Economic Community and transformed into the European Union by the 1993 Maastricht Treaty. (The irony of the United States nudging Europeans toward a pale version of a land empire under West German industrial domination was lost on no one.)
Eastern Europeans accepted Soviet military leadership and Communist, inward-turned Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. Instead of pumping resources into Eastern Europe and promoting democracy, the Soviets pumped resources out and jailed or shot their opponents, but even so, eastern European output regained prewar levels by 1949. In the American sphere things went better still, and with remarkably few jailings or shootings, output double between 1948 and 1964.
By 1969 Japan's economy overtook West Germany's, and through the 1970s it steadily gained on the United States. By then the United States was feeling the strain of the multi-front Cold War. Despite dropping more bombs on Vietnam than it had on Germany, America suffered a humiliating defeat, dividing opinion at home and wounding its influence abroad. Soviet proxies started winning wars in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and even America's successes turned to ashes. Eastern clients that the United States had so assiduously built up were now doing so well that they were invading American markets, while the European allies it defended at such expense now talked of disarmament and going nonaligned. By making Israel a client, Washington rove Arab governments toward the Soviets; and when Israel repulsed Arab invasions in 1973, Arab oil embargoes and price hikes set loose the new monster of stagflation--simultaneous stagnation and inflation.
Morris admits that when he was a teenager in 1970s Britain, his friend and himself talked casually of the coming American collapse as we sat around wearing American jeans, watching American films, and playing American guitars. So far as I remember, none of us ever saw a contradiction in this, and he is pretty certain that it never cross their minds that far from witnessing the end of the American empire, we were actually doing our but to win the War of the West for Washington. The decisive front, it would soon emerge, was not the Vietnam or Angola. It was in the shopping malls.
EAST WIND, WEST WIND
Morris posits that when dynastic empires proved unable to cope with total war, almost vanishing from the earth between 1917 and 1922, the United states had shown itself a very reluctant leviathan, but when communism proved equally inadequate between 1989 and 1991, Americans were ready to fill the void. Every two year, the Department of Defense reviews its grand strategy in a report called the Defense Planning Guidance. The first draft of the report due in March 1992, just three months after the fall of the Soviet Union, laid out a bold new vision:
Our first objective is to prevent the reemergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia.
When "an official who believes this post-cold-war strategy debate should be carried out in the public domain" (as The New York Times put it) leaked this draft, the government quickly softened its tone, but something very like the original vision of a world with the United States as its sole superpower came to pass all the same.
The March 1992 Defense Planning Guidance was later adopted as the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) grand strategy in its Statement of Purpose written and signed by the very neoconservative advisers that surrounded the Bush-Cheney and advised for the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
TRUMP'S DESIRE FOR ALL-OUT WAR IN ASIA
Tillerson Talks Tough On North Korea During Asia Trip
Morris seem to be cautioning President Trump's bellicosity manner toward China as well as North Korea when he declares that an all-out East-West war would be catastrophic. For China it would be suicidal: the United States outnumbers it twenty to one in nuclear warheads and perhaps a hundred to one in warheads that can be relied on to reach enemy territory. China tested an antimissile missile in January 2010, but lags far behind American capabilities. The United States has eleven aircraft carrier battle groups to china's zero (although China began building its first carrier in 2009) and an insurmountable lead in military technology. The United States could not, and would not want to, conquer and occupy China, but almost any imaginable war would end with humiliating defeat for china, the fall of the communist Party, and perhaps the country's breakup.
That said, winning a war might be almost as bad for the United States as losing it would be for china. Even a low-intensity conflict would have horrendous costs. If Chimerica splits abruptly and vindictively it will mean financial disaster for both partners. A nuclear exchange would be worse still, turning the west coast of North America and much of China into radioactive ruins, killing hundreds of millions, and throwing the world economy into a tailspin. Worst of all, a Sino-American war could easily drag in Russia, which still hast the world's biggest nuclear arsenal. Assuming, that is, that Russia's missiles still work. The commander of its strategic nuclear-missile force was sacked in 2009 after a series of missiles failed to take off.
Morris believes that any way we look at it, all-out war is madness. Fortunately, a huge body of expert literature reassures us that in a globalized world such madness is impossible. "No physical force can set at naught the force of credit," says one authority. According to another, the "international movement of capital is the biggest guarantor of world peace." A third adds that fighting "must involve the expenditure of so vast a sum of money and such an interference with trade, that a war would be accompanied or followed by a complete collapse of credit and industry"; it would mean "total exhaustion and impoverishment, industry and trade would be ruined, and the power of capital destroyed."
Morris posits that this is comforting--except for the fact that these experts were not talking about the risk of Sino-American conflict in the 2010s [before Donald Trump became president of the United States]. All the experts were writing between 1910 and 1914, insisting the modern world's complicated web of trade and finance ruled out any chance of a great-power war in Europe. We all know how that turned out.
THE GREAT RACE
Morris states that talking to the Ghost of Christmas Past leads to an alarming conclusion: the twenty-first century is going to be a race. In one lane is some sort of Singularity; in the other, Nightfall. One will win and one will lose. There will be no silver medal. Either we will soon (perhaps before 2050) begin a transformation even more profound than the industrial revolution, which may make most of our current problems irrelevant, or we will stagger into a collapse like no other. It is hard to see how any intermediate out come--a compromise, say, in which everyone gets a bit richer, China gradually overtakes the West, and things otherwise go on much as before--can work.
This means that the next forty years will be the most important in history.
Morris final words in Why The West Rules--For Now offers hope that the Presidency of Donald Trump does not portent: On the last page of his book Collapse, the biologist and geographer Jered Diamond suggested that there are two forces that might save the world from disaster: archaeologist (who uncover the details of earlier societies' mistakes) and television (which broadcasts their findings). As an archaeologist who watches a lot of television, I certainly agree, but I also want to add a third savior, history. Only historians can draw together the grand narrative of social development; only historians can explain the differences that divide humanity and how we can prevent them from destroying us.
Notice that all the training in Germany is Unions sponsored, not the government. Neoliberalism policies of Ronald Reagan, as well as Bill Clinton, destroyed the Unions. The Tea Party-Republican Congress blocked all efforts of President Obama to offer the training of laid-off workers, and the formation of Unions. And furthermore, what is Ivanka Trump, who has no security clearance, doing at the Roundtable. More later.