European Union

The Puzzle of the 2012 Greek Elections

May 8, 2012 by

With the Greek Parliamentary election behind us—likely the first of at least two such contests in this political season—we need to take stock of the situation and separate myth from fact. My objective is to make sense of the electoral results by describing and analyzing the Greek political system in both its historic and nascent forms. The particulars of the bailout have been widely discussed elsewhere in the press and policy circles, and I will refer to them only in the ways in which they inform the topic.

European’s Have Rejected Austerity Madness: Will the U.S. Get the Message?

May 7, 2012 by

So the voters of Europe have spoken, and surprise, surprise: they are not too keen on fiscal austerity. France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, became the first incumbent to lose since 1981. In Greece, the mainstream parties that have been happily participating in the country’s national suicide were soundly rejected by the electorate.

A New ‘Rough Patch’ in US-South Africa Relations

May 4, 2012 by

The US-South Africa bilateral relationship over the past eighteen months has been a diplomatic minefield. Issues include everything from military equipment and nuclear energy/weapons to oil, communication companies and the global north versus the global south. The most recent, and the most serious issue regarding US-SA relations is Iran.

Iran: Why This Time Is Different

May 3, 2012 by

The latest P5+1 talks in Istanbul rejuvenated the diplomatic track between Iran and the West, paving the way for a new chapter in Iranian nuclear negotiations. Yet if the recently concluded talks were a test of intentions, the upcoming negotiations in Baghdad are going to be a real test of wills. Both sides will have to overcome huge obstacles if they want to establish a “sustained process of serious dialogue” to resolve the Iranian nuclear impasse.

Illegal Settlements Bonanza: Israel Plots an Endgame

May 2, 2012 by

Israel’s colonization policies are entering an alarming new phase, comparable in historic magnitude to the original plans to colonize Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem following the war of 1967. On April 24, an Israeli ministerial committee approved three settlement outposts - Bruchin and Rechelim in the northern part of the West Bank, and Sansana in the south. Although all settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal by international law, Israeli law differentiates between sanctioned settlements and ‘illegal’ ones. This distinction has actually proved to be no more than a disingenuous attempt at conflating international law, which is applicable to occupied lands, and Israeli law, which is in no way relevant.

Latin America Delivers A Swift Kick

April 30, 2012 by

On one level, April’s hemispheric summit meeting was an old fashioned butt kicking for Washington’s policies in the region. The White House found itself virtually alone—Dudley Do Right Canada its sole ally—on everything from Cuba to the war on drugs. But the differences go deeper than the exclusion of Havana and the growing body count in Washington’s failed anti-narcotics strategy. They reflect profound disagreements on how to build economies, confront inequity, and reflect a new balance of power in world affairs.

ILO Urges Worker-Friendly Recovery Policies

April 30, 2012 by

Although economic growth has resumed in much of the world since the 2008 financial crisis, the global unemployment situation remains alarming and could worsen, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). European governments, in particular, should adopt more worker- friendly approaches in dealing with fiscal austerity, according to the agency’s “World of Work Report 2012″ that was released here and at its headquarters in Geneva Sunday.

Spain is the New Greece

April 29, 2012 by

Nearly one Spaniard in four is unemployed, according to data released on Friday, as the country’s economic and financial predicament prompted a government minister to talk of a “crisis of enormous proportions”. The data from the National Statistics Institute showed 367,000 people lost their jobs in the first three months of the year. At this pace, Spanish job losses are equivalent to 1 million per month in the United States.

Income Inequality and the Rise of European Separatist Movements

April 19, 2012 by

Separatist movements typically flourish during times of economic or political distress. While in the recent past separatism has been associated most with emerging or failed states and linked with armed conflict and insurgencies, the west’s economic dislocation and the ‘rise of the rest’ has coincided with a surge in political movements and a desire for autonomy and independence – not only among violence-prone regions of the world, but among the strongest of emerging states, and the EU.

Profiting from Patience: Why Israel Should Not Act Unilaterally Against Iran

April 16, 2012 by

Even before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the stage at the 2012 AIPAC conference, the crowd of more than 13,000 participants knew what the topic of his speech would be: Iran. Speaking with passion unmatched by any of the other notable speakers, including US President Barack Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres, PM Netanyahu used biblical quotes, touching personal stories, and unbridled rhetoric to ensure that those in attendance understood that Israel would no longer stand by as Iran developed a nuclear weapons program.

What’s Left?

April 15, 2012 by

The public suicide of 77-year-old pharmacist Demitris Christoulas a short distance from the parliament building in Athens and the outpouring of grief and anger reveal the trauma and desperation in Greek society in the midst of an economic crisis. In a handwritten note before he shot himself in the head, Christoulas complained that the government had made it impossible for him to survive on the pension he had paid into for 35 years.

Hungary’s Sovereignty Struggle

April 6, 2012 by

When the Hungarian Communist regime fell in 1989, the transition occurred rather smoothly. The transition to democracy had been encouraged by political parties such as the Christian Nationalist Party and the Hungarian Democratic Forum. Hungary did not witness the same amount of violence that has followed dramatic shifts in governance like in Romania at the time, or Iraq in the early part of the last decade or in Libya this decade. A gradual transformation to full democracy was planned and executed.

Why Europe is not yet ‘A Culture of Peace’

April 5, 2012 by

It is undoubtedly true that the greatest unacknowledged achievement of the European Union (EU) is to establish ‘a culture of peace’ within its regional enclosure for the 68 years since 1944. This has meant not only the absence of war in Europe, but also the absence of ‘war talk,’ threats, crises, and sanctions, with the single important exception of the NATO War of 1999 that was part of the fallout from the breakup of former Yugoslavia.

Post-Geneva Delusions: The Next Steps in Sri Lanka

March 31, 2012 by

Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs, G.L. Peiris, has recently given one additional reason for the passage of a resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva: “collective commitments.” Evidently, Mr. Peiris had been informed by one of his European counterparts that certain members of the European Union (EU) were unsupportive of the resolution, but were compelled to vote in favor of it, since a group decision had been taken by the EU.

Iceland’s Loonie Idea: Will Ditching the Krona Solve its Currency Quagmire?

March 27, 2012 by

After having gone through a dramatic financial meltdown and two years of recession in 2009 and 2010, Iceland started to recover in 2011 and IMF estimates now indicate that economic growth should average between 2.5% and 3% over the short-medium term. Yet the country is in a post-crisis transition and a number of systemic and structural issues still need to be addressed by the authorities in order to secure economic stability for the future.

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