Archive for the ‘Topics’ Category

1
Jul

Lucas Papademos, Former Prime Minister of Greece and Vice-President of the European Central Bank, is interviewed by Dr. Arantza de Areilza, Dean of IE School of International Relations, on the role of the European Central Bank, the European banking union, and the future of Greece in the Eurozone.

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28
Jun

The protests around the world

The march of protest: A wave of anger is sweeping the cities of the world. Politicians beware.

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A familiar face appeared in many of the protests taking place in scores of cities on three continents this week: a Guy Fawkes mask with a roguish smile and a pencil-thin moustache. The mask belongs to “V”, a character in a graphic novel from the 1980s who became the symbol for a group of computer hackers called Anonymous. His contempt for government resonates with people all over the world.

The protests have many different origins. In Brazil people rose up against bus fares, in Turkey against a building project. Indonesians have rejected higher fuel prices, Bulgarians the government’s cronyism. In the euro zone they march against austerity, and the Arab spring has become a perma-protest against pretty much everything. Each angry demonstration is angry in its own way.

Yet just as in 1848, 1968 and 1989, when people also found a collective voice, the demonstrators have much in common. Over the past few weeks, in one country after another, protesters have risen up with bewildering speed. They have been more active in democracies than dictatorships. They tend to be ordinary, middle-class people, not lobbies with lists of demands. Their mix of revelry and rage condemns the corruption, inefficiency and arrogance of the folk in charge.

Nobody can know how 2013 will change the world—if at all. In 1989 the Soviet empire teetered and fell. But Marx’s belief that 1848 was the first wave of a proletarian revolution was confounded by decades of flourishing capitalism and 1968, which felt so pleasurably radical at the time, did more to change sex than politics. Even now, though, the inchoate significance of 2013 is discernible. And for politicians who want to peddle the same old stuff, the news is not good. Read more…

As published in www.economist.com on June 29, 2013.

27
Jun

The Cold War is Back

Written on June 27, 2013 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Americas, Asia, Foreign Policy, International Conflict, Terrorism & Security

Edward Snowden adds to U.S., Russia chill

By Anne Applebaum

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For those who think that Edward Snowden deserves arrest or worse, cheer yourselves with the thought that Sheremetyevo International Airport might possibly be the most soul-destroying, most angst-inducing transport hub in the world. Low ceilings and dim lighting create a sense of impending doom, while overpriced wristwatches glitter in the murk. Sullen salesgirls peddle stale sandwiches; men in bad suits drink silently at the bars. A vague scent of diesel fuel fills the air, and a thin layer of grime covers the backless benches and sticky floor. It’s not a place you’d want to spend two hours, let alone 48.

Yet there he remains, a guest of the Russian government. Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov both have repeated the fiction that Snowden “did not cross the Russian border” because he remains in the transit zone at Sheremetyevo. But as of Monday evening, Snowden was in violation of Russian law, which requires anyone staying in the airport longer than 24 hours to have a valid transit visa. Whether Russian authorities have given him a visa or are allowing him to break the law, they have made a deliberate decision to let him remain there, assuming they are not holding him against his will.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry has appealed for Snowden’s extradition on grounds of “respect for the rule of law.” Although the United States has no extradition treaty with Russia, Kerry has pointed out that it has transferred seven people to Russia in the past two years to honor Russian requests. For the moment, the Russians seem disinclined to respect the rule of law, which is not surprising as they don’t respect it at home. The last time a prominent former Russian secret service agent escaped to the West, Russian agents poisoned him with polonium 210, leaving a trail of radiation all over London and Hamburg.

Too much remains opaque, and too much reporting seems sensationalized, to draw conclusions of what this affair says about the National Security Agency — except that it is shockingly bad at protecting supposedly secret information. But something interesting has been revealed about the nature of contemporary international relations. In this narrow sense, the Cold War is back: We are once again dealing with a Russian government that sees the world ideologically, in black and white. What’s bad for us is good for them, and vice versa. If Snowden is embarrassing to the United States, he should be protected as long as possible. If we think Bashar al-Assad is cruelly and recklessly destroying Syria, then Russia will lend him support. If we fear Iran’s nuclear program, then Russia will help build it. Read more…

As published in www.washingtonpost.com on June 26, 2013.

24
Jun

Prof. Kevin Morrison on the “natural resource curse” and foreign aid.

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21
Jun

By Nukhet A. Sandal

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As international media cover the demonstrations in Turkey, even the most seasoned in policy circles are shocked to witness the flagrant human rights violations, including demonstrators of all ages who are beaten and gassed by the police on a daily basis. The news agencies and political commentators write passionately about what is going on, usually representing the protests as the result of the tension between religious policies of the AK Party government and the secular Kemalist opposition who are frustrated with the Islamists. Other analyses have included the symbolic importance of the Taksim Square (where the demonstrations started), Erdoğan’s personality, and comparisons with the Occupy Wall Street Movement and the so-called “Arab Spring.”

What we do not see in the western press is a call for introspection and self-criticism. The Gezi Park Protests, as the countrywide demonstrations are called, are not about the tension between the Islamists and the secularists, but between crony capitalism and a segment of population who dare to question the personal profits that were made from their country’s heritage. In other words, the protests represent the tipping point of the frustrations of the informed public with a government that has treated forests and historical buildings as private property, constructing luxury residences and shopping centers through contracts given to family and friends. These authoritarian policies have long been deliberately ignored by business and political circles in the West, in favor of the seemingly positive economic indicators and the increasing attractiveness of the Turkish market. Such tunnel vision has kept the West from wondering how sustainable this growth will be, let alone forecasting that deficiencies in the country’s democracy would inevitably lead to instability. In terms of arrests and imprisonment of journalists, under the AK Party government Turkey long ago surpassed Iran and China (there are almost no reporters or journalists left to cover the protests in the mainstream media, and the Turkish people followed the demonstrations from international outlets). Still, Turkey remained the Muslim-majority political model of choice for many pundits. Read more…

Nukhet A. Sandal, PhD is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

As published in www.huffingtonpost.com on June 19, 2013.

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