Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

21
Nov

“It looks like it is now just Germany and Canada holding down the Western world,” an elected politician from one of Germany’s prosperous western states told me over dinner this week. I started to laugh, but he put up his hand – he was being serious. He launched into a depressing tour of the countries once known as the Group of Eight, most of them sliding into chaos or extremism or long-term political paralysis.

At the head of the table, the United States is weeks away from falling off the political map, as far as its trade and military partners are concerned: Donald Trump’s administration will be, at best, unstable and untrustworthy; at worst, it will be a voice of toxic extremism to be shunned and avoided. Britain fell off in June, its Brexit referendum and harsh-edged new government limiting its relations with the world to a negotiated retreat, its future too uncertain for anyone to strike up commitments.

France is in deep crisis in advance of an election next year that could have frightening results: a victory by the race-hatred candidate Marine Le Pen or a lunge far rightward by conservatives to stave her off. Italy appears an oasis of sanity under Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, but his reforms are under attack and his government could be on the edge of collapse. Poland and Hungary have extreme, xenophobic governments that are withdrawing from international co-operation. Scandinavian countries are wrestling with coalition governments that include extremists.

And Russia, which has been lost for a long time, seems poised to establish a bloc of states with illiberal, authoritarian governments aimed against the liberal democracies – a bloc that could now come to include the United States. Scanning the horizon from Berlin in search of safe partnerships, there’s Canada. And, as Germans kept telling me this week, not much else. Read more…

Published on Nov. 19, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/, Doug Saunders

4
Nov

‘Brexit is the greatest threat to national wellbeing since the war, and this will test the mettle not just of individual MPs, but of the nature and purpose of a representative democratic system.’

A momentous constitutional decision was taken by the high court of England and Wales this morning. A prime minister’s absolute power to do what they like, when they like, regardless of laws and treaties, was struck down. Theresa May cannot tear up our right to be EU citizens without the authority of parliament. Those rights were bestowed by parliamentary votes in a series of treaties. She can’t high-handedly abandon them and trigger our exit from the EU without parliament’s agreement.

Judges, wisely, do not generally want to usurp the power of elected governments to govern. Laws made by judges are a poor substitute for those made by elected MPs in parliament. But this is a matter of the profoundest constitutional importance, with deep implications, controversial whichever way they had decided. They rightly pronounced that parliament is sovereign – which is what the Brexiters claimed we were voting on, until it no longer suited them. Read more…

https://www.theguardian.com; Polly Toynbee; 3 Nov. 2016

3
Oct

Europe Needs Its Realist Past

Written on October 3, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, Foreign Policy, Security

As Europe’s troubles deepen and pose more of a threat to the vital interests of the U.S., Americans are recycling their tried and tested critiques of the European Union: It is too statist and bureaucratic. Its instincts are too protectionist. Its decision-making bodies are too slow and secretive. EU foreign policy is too naive, too feckless about defense and security. The problem with Europe, in a word, is that it is too European.

But the EU isn’t in trouble today because its leaders are “too European.” The EU is in trouble because its leadership isn’t European enough. It is time for the continent to return to the tradition of realist politics that gave rise to its modern union in the first place.

It is easy today to forget just how hardheaded the original architects of Europe’s postwar drive for integration actually were. Charles de Gaulle of France, Konrad Adenauer of West Germany and Alcide De Gasperi of Italy were conservative nationalists whose vision for Europe reflected the bitter experiences of two world wars and a failed peace.

In its origins, European unity was an unsentimental exercise in geopolitics. Germany and Italy saw it as a way to reintegrate into the world after the disaster of fascism. France saw a coalition with a defeated and partitioned Germany as a way to cement its power in Europe and to strengthen its global reach. All these governments saw European unity as a way to keep the Old World as independent as possible from both Moscow and Washington. “Europe will be your revenge,” Adenauer told de Gaulle after the humiliation of the Suez crisis in 1956, when the U.S. forced France and Britain to back down from a joint campaign with Israel against Egypt.

These leaders did not think that submerging their national histories and identities in a cosmopolitan, post-national Europe was either possible or desirable. They supported Europe because it seemed to be the best way forward for the peoples they led. For its part, the U.S. backed the project because a united Western Europe offered the best hope to stop communism in the short term and to prevent the recurrence of major European wars farther down the road. Read more…

 

 

27
Sep

Trkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s extra-legal roundup of scores of presumed supporters of the failed July 15 coup against his government is quickly taking its place in modern history alongside Stalin’s purges and China’s Cultural Revolution.

This — and Turkey’s demands that the U.S. turn over the cleric-in-exile Fethullah Gülen for trial on charges that include terrorism — further strains U.S.-Turkey relations. U.S. officials publicly stated that the spiral of repression weakens Erdoğan’s long-term security.

The arrest and detention of judges, mayors, teachers, military personnel, civil servants, journalists and political opponents deepens not only Turkey’s societal fault lines, but also global fault lines, separating Turkey from the West and bedeviling Western security policy for years to come. Turkey is one of just two Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East with a semblance of pro-Western democracy, making it pivotal to resolving the general crisis in the Middle East. Read more…

Hilton Root teaches public policy at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, is an affiliated senior scholar at the Mercatus Center, and authored “Dynamics Among Nations: The Evolution of Legitimacy and Development in Modern States” (MIT Press).

Sept. 25, 2016

6
Sep

BACK in June, after Spain’s second indecisive election in six months, the general expectation was that Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, would swiftly form a new government. Although his conservative People’s Party (PP) did not win back the absolute majority it had lost in December, it remained easily the largest party, with 137 of the 350 seats in the Cortes (parliament), and was the only one to increase its share of the vote. But the summer holidays have come and gone and Spain’s political stalemate is no closer to ending. That is cause for growing frustration and concern.

In two parliamentary votes, on August 30th and September 2nd, Mr Rajoy fell tantalisingly short of securing a mandate, with 170 votes in favour but 180 against. These votes started the clock for a third election, once seen as unthinkable. If no one can secure a majority by the end of October, parliament will be dissolved and Spaniards would face a Christmas election.

For this, most commentators put the blame squarely on Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the opposition Socialists. His 85 deputies hold the balance of power. But he refuses to allow enough of them to abstain to give Mr Rajoy his mandate. He accuses Mr Rajoy and the PP of betraying the trust of Spaniards and of burdening the country with austerity and corruption. Read more…

http://www.economist.com/

Sept. 5th, 2016

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