When my grandfather, American author John Dos Passos, visited Spain for the first time in 1916, he fell in love with the country—especially the pueblos tucked in the chaparral, shielded from greater Europe’s corruption by the high wall of the Pyrenees. “The villages are the heart of Spain,” he wrote. Today, the villages still reward the curious, open-hearted stranger.
Tag Archives | Europe-Russia
A high-level EU meeting over Russia is to be held in Brussels. Prior to the meeting, US Secretary of State John Kerry has pressed for Russia to face toughened sanctions, unless it takes concrete steps to stop armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. European leaders, also, are expected to consider imposing more economic sanctions on Russia and to sign a free-trade accord with Ukraine.
Strelkov, the military commander of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic,’ imperial adventurer and historian-with-a-gun, and Stolypin, the reforming reactionary prime minister who, I would suggest, represented tsarist Russia’s last chance for survival: two imperial(ist) figures of the moment, both of whom see the revival of something past or passing in reshaping the future, by violent means if need be. (There’s a reason why the ‘Stolypin necktie’ became a slang term for the hangman’s noose.)
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was created in 1991 as a multilateral development bank (MDB) to help former Soviet states in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) transition to market-based democracies. In roughly two decades of existence, the EBRD has failed to successfully transition the states it works with, and consequently has failed to fulfill its mandate. In order to be a more effective MDB the EBRD needs to invest in more effective aid channels.
The appearance of three mystery tanks in east Ukraine may be a serious escalation of the conflict (as Russia throws extra military hardware into the fray) or another one of those desperate attempts to prove a Russian presence. I honestly don’t know, but until we have more solid data, I hope people will be cautious about accepting the “they must be Russian tanks” line uncritically. I hope, but don;’t expect: even if some caution ends up buried in the text, the headlines are already taking it at face value that Russian tanks have rolled into Ukraine. But:
Why do states quarrel? One answer can be found in the bleak vision of Thomas Hobbes on his rumination of human nature, seen as motivated by competition, diffidence or glory. “The first maketh man invade for Gain, the second for Safety and the third for Reputation.” But fear not, as the solution he sees to taming the pesky impulses of human nature is found in relinquishing one’s sovereignty to the state, the Leviathan. In the same manner, taming states therefore requires striking up political alliances and surrendering one’s sovereignty to an interdependent system of states.
In a recently published piece entitled “The House of Habsburg, Revisited,” the author, Simon Winder, engages in a thoughtful yet hyperbolic polemic ridiculing the recent resurgence of interest in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Central Europe. His argument in a nutshell is that, while the Austrian Empire was backward and oppressive, it nevertheless provided a sense of security and rule of law for the eleven different nationalities inhabiting this vast state in Central Europe.
Europe’s appalling handling of a euro crisis that was always going to happen, given its faulty architectural design, has triggered an electoral result in the recent European Parliament elections that is a clarion warning that Europe is decomposing. And it is decomposing precisely because of the Left’s spectacular failure to intervene both during the construction phase of Europe’s economic and monetary union and, more poignantly, after the latter’s crisis had begun.
Deadly fighting in eastern Ukraine must end “this week,” Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko has pledged. He was speaking at talks involving an envoy from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine. Meanwhile, fighting has continued in and around the rebel-held city of Sloviasnk.
This past month, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study and visit with officials from both the German government and various branches of the European Union in Brussels. None of this would have been possible without the help of a few people. First, Old Dominion University arranged and offered a great deal of support for the trip. Second, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation provided both a theoretical and physical base for the Berlin leg of the trip. Third, John Callahan of the Ambassador Club made a healthy contribution with a visit and tour of the Battlefield at Waterloo. It was a fantastic ten day trip that, for me, was another step in a study of the European Union that I began over a year ago.
Now that the dust has settled from the recent elections for the European Parliament it is time to take a deep breath and see what really happened. No, Britain is not about to toss its immigrant population into the sea. No, France’s Marine Le Pen is not about to march on the Elysee Palace. And, as repulsive as the thugs of Hungary’s Jobbik Party and Greece’s New Dawn are, it was the continent’s left to whom the laurels went in last month’s poll.
While in Paris this week someone asked me when the U.S. will take a leading role in helping to resolve any number of the world’s ongoing crises – from Syria to Ukraine to the Central African Republic. My reply was that this will not happen for several reasons, including a reticence to become more engaged among the American people, limited financial resources, and above all, the debilitating political gridlock in Washington. If the U.S. Congress cannot marshal the political will to extend benefits to the long-term unemployed, how on earth can it be expected to find the common ground necessary to pass resolutions to address such global concerns?
This video is very, very hard to watch. But I think it should be watched, and remembered. It’s the immediate aftermath of the June 2 attack on the regional administrative building in Lugansk, eastern Ukraine, which was serving as the HQ for the anti-Kyiv apparatus in the town.
Despite my instincts that Prime Minister Erdoğan was going to decide that it is better to be a super-empowered prime minister than the Turkish president under the current constitutional configuration, it seems pretty clear at this point that he has his sights trained on the Çankaya Palace. The AKP has officially announced that it is not going to change its internal party regulations to allow MPs who have served three terms to run for a fourth, which means that Erdoğan will be term limited out and will thus seek the presidency. There is no doubt that Erdoğan will win and become the first directly elected Turkish president, and there is also little doubt that he will transform the presidency as he sees fit from a traditionally apolitical office with few real powers into something far different. The more interesting question that remains is who will replace Erdoğan as prime minister, and the answer to that is a lot murkier.
Due to the AKP’s three-terms-and-out rule, 73 AKP parliamentarians are unable to stand for election again and the list is a rundown of nearly all of the party heavyweights. Bülent Arınç, Bekir Bozdağ, Ali Babacan, Ömer Çelik, etc. The A team, that founded the party and shepherded it through three consecutive electoral victories, is out, and that leaves precious few suitable candidates to replace Erdoğan. It will have to be someone who has some modicum of name recognition and influence, but also someone whom Erdoğan can control. To the best of my calculations, there are two people who fit the bill and who are not subject to the term limit conundrum.
British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery had three laws of war. One, never march on Moscow. Two, never get in a land war in Asia. And three, never march on Moscow. So why are the U.S., the European Union (EU), and NATO on the road to the Russian capital? And exactly what are they hoping to accomplish? Like all battlefields on the Eastern front, this one is complicated.
For beginners, there are multiple armies marching eastward, and they are not exactly on the same page. In military parlance that is called divided command, and it generally ends in debacle. In addition, a lot of their weapons are of doubtful quality and might even end up backfiring. And lastly, like all great crisis, there is a sticker price on this one that is liable to give even fire breathers pause.