Archive for the ‘Topics’ Category

28
Jan

A New Franco-German Foreign Policy?

Written on January 28, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, Foreign Policy, Op Ed

Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, may have had some diplomatic successes recently. But the implementation of the EU’s new foreign policy structure can hardly be called a triumph. The main culprits are the big member states, which are too hesitant to use the new service and breathe life into it. When it comes to major issues, France, Germany, and the UK still prefer to act on their own instead of working with their peers and the EU institutions to develop a joint approach.

That’s why a recent initiative by the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to work more closely with France on foreign policy is most welcome. It has the potential to raiseEurope’s foreign policy game.

In a joint declaration on January 21, Steinmeier and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, agreed to consult each other before EU summits, to travel together to “regions of particular interest to both countries and the EU,” and to cooperate on early crisis identification and prevention.

For their first joint trip, Steinmeier and Fabius intend to visit Moldova and Georgia, the two countries of the EU’s Eastern Partnership that are most interested in strengthening ties with the EU. A trip to West Africa is planned as well.

Good intentions are welcome but not enough; the Steinmeier-Fabius initiative needs to be backed up by substantial political will. There are incentives for closer Franco-German cooperation on foreign policy.

France feels overburdened with its military engagements in Africa, and Paris is eager to play a bigger role in the Arab world. That is becoming more urgent in an era in which the United States is trying to retreat from its regional leadership role. To sustain its engagement in sub-Saharan Africa and fill some of the vacuum that a disengaging United States leaves in North Africa and the Middle East, France needs the support of its European partners. Berlin is central for that support, because of Germany’s own resources and because it holds the key to turning French foreign policy ambition into a common European policy.

However, the challenge for France is to overcome its traditional unilateralism in foreign policy making and to Europeanize its approach. That means including European partners and the EU institutions at an early stage of policy planning and developing joint policies instead of going it alone first and pushing for support later. Read more…

Posted by: ULRICH SPECK FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 2014 in http://www.carnegieeurope.eu

27
Jan

Rusia ha derrotado a la UE en Ucrania. Mientras nos lamemos las heridas, recordemos. Empecemos con un poco de historia. Volvamos a la Crónica General del Rus (a.D. 860). “A estos vikingos se les conocía como rusos, lo mismo que a otros vikingos se les llama suecos, normandos, anglos o godos (…) Rurik llegó a ser el Señor de todos ellos (…) Dos de los hombres de Rurik, Askold y Rir, navegaron Dniéper abajo y, en el curso de su viaje, vieron una pequeña ciudad sobre una colina (…) Askold y Rir se asentaron en esta ciudad y, después de reunir a muchos vikingos, reinaron sobre el país de los polacos (Polianis). Rurik reinó en Nóvgorod”.

Así pues, vemos que Kiev y Nóvgorod son los dos puntos políticos originales de Rusia. Nóvgorod subsistió como república propia, sobre el modelo hanseático, hasta los días de Iván el Terrible. Kiev cayó antes. Ante la imposibilidad de defender la ciudad de las invasiones mongolas (a.D. 1.280), los rusos abandonaron la urbe y se protegieron de la Horda Dorada parapetándose tras los bosques de Moscú. Ucrania se recuperó para Rusia a finales del s. XVIII con Catalina la Grande. Desde entonces, y hasta la caída de la URSS, formará parte de la polis rusas.

Estrategia. Dejando aparte los Caballeros Teutónicos, el corredor ucraniano ha sido el lugar privilegiado de todas las invasiones que Rusia ha conocido. Lo que se le opuso a Rusia en este frente fueron enemigos epónimos, todos ellos parte nuclear del relato nacional. Los polacos de Tarás Bulba; los jesuitas italianos de Boris Godunov; los suecos que retrató Von Heidenstam, y a los que mandaba un rey temerario como Carlos XII; los turcos a los que derrotó Potemkin mientras leía, moribundo, las cartas de amor de Catalina la Grande; los revolucionarios franceses de Guerra y Paz de Tolstói y la Obertura 1.812 de Tchaikovsky; y, finalmente, los nazis de Vasili Grossman o los nacionalistas ucranianos de la “Guardia Blanca” de Bulgakov. Recomiendo al lector el testimonio de Chaves Nogales para la I Guerra Mundial (El maestro Juan Martínez que estaba allí) y, para la II Guerra Mundial, a Jonathan Littell (Las benévolas). Leer mas…

 

Escrito por el Ambajador José A. Zorrilla el 25 de enero en El Confidencial http://blogs.elconfidencial.com/espana/

22
Jan

Three Myths About Global Poverty

Written on January 22, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in International Development, News, Op Ed

By Bill & Melinda Gates

By almost any measure the world is better off now than ever before, in part thanks to foreign aid. By 2035, they predict there will be almost no poor countries.So why do so many people seem to think things are getting worse?Much of the reason is that all too many people are in the grip of three deeply damaging myths about global poverty and development. Don’t get taken in by them.

MYTH ONE: Poor countries are doomed to stay poor.

They’re really not. Incomes and other measures of human welfare are rising almost everywhere – including Africa.Take Mexico City, for instance. In 1987, when we first visited, most homes lacked running water, and we often saw people trekking on foot to fill up water jugs. It reminded us of rural Africa. The guy who ran Microsoft’s Mexico City office would send his kids back to the US for check-ups to make sure the smog wasn’t making them sick.Today, Mexico City is mind-blowingly different, boasting high-rise buildings, cleaner air, new roads and modern bridges. You still find pockets of poverty, but when we visit now, we think, “Wow – most people here are middle-class. What a miracle”. You can see a similar transformation in Nairobi, New Delhi, Shanghai and many more cities around the world.

In our lifetime, the global picture of poverty has been completely redrawn. Per-person incomes inTurkey and Chile are where the US was in 1960. Malaysia is nearly there. So is Gabon. Since 1960,China‘s real income per person has gone up eightfold. India‘s has quadrupled, Brazil‘s has almost quintupled, and tiny Botswana, with shrewd management of its mineral resources, has seen a 30-fold increase. A new class of middle-income nations that barely existed 50 years ago now includes more than half the world’s population. Read more…

This is an edited text from the forthcoming annual letter of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of which the authors are co-chairs. Mr. Gates is the chairman of Microsoft. To receive the annual letter go to gatesfoundation.org. http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2014/01/21/three_myths_about_global_poverty.html

 

21
Jan

Jose-Antonio-Zorrilla (2)In his very interesting lecture on January 20, Ambassador Jose A. Zorrilla addressed the highly relevant theme of self-determination, one of the cardinal principles in modern international relations. It states that nations have the right to freely choose their soverignty  with no external interference. Retracing history, Ambassador explored the struggle for self-determination throughout the ages and focused more specifically on the dissolution of the Ottoman, Russian and Austrian/Habsburg empires. He also discussed the blocs of influence that were created during the Cold War and the USSR’s very special status and circumvention of the self-determination principle as defined in 1941 in the Atlantic Charter signed by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Paradoxically, the Atlantic Charter was a direct attack on the British Empire and foresaw the end of colonialism by the European Powers. While central in international relations, the right to self-determination contains an inherent contradiction that challenges the principle of sovereignty.  It implies that a people should be free to choose their own state and its territorial boundaries. However, there are far more self-identified nations than there are existing states and there is no legal process to redraw state boundaries according to the will of these peoples. Hence the ongoing struggle for self-determination in many parts of the world such as Africa, Kurdistan, Chechnya, Cyprus and even Spain.

The Master in International Relations students had many questions for Ambassador Zorrilla, including whether or not regional integration in Asia in a model similar to the European Union would ever be possible. The ambassador responded that it was quite unlikely that China, Japan and Vietnam (to name a few examples) would ever integrate. One of the reasons is that, unlike Western Europe, they had never been part of a single empire (the Roman empire). This lack of unifying polity made possible integration today unlikely. Another student asked about the situation in Afghanistan. On a pessimistic note, Ambassador concluded that he believed the problem in Afghanistan to be unsolvable precisely because of the number of very distinct peoples and tribes in an arbitrarily drawn country.

Ambassador Zorrilla is a career diplomat with postings in Milan (1989) , Toronto (1993), Shanghai (2001), Moscow (2004), Georgia and the Caucasus (2009). He has published a book on the rise of China “China la primavera que llega” and shot two documentary films  (“Los Justos” and “El desierto y las olas”) and one full length film “El Arreglo” that won the Opera Prima Prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 1983.  He has just published a novel “El espía en Saratov” (De Librum Tremens) and is a frequent contributor to El Confidencial. His articles focus mostly on current affairs.

 

17
Jan

By Dominique Moisi

This analysis first appeared in Les Echos

Bashar al-Assad is still in power in Damascus and al-Qaeda’s black flag was recently waving above Fallujah and Ramadi in Iraq. Not only has the process of fragmentation in Syria now spilled over to Iraq, but these two realities also share a common cause that could be summarized into a simple phrase: the failure of the West.

The capture, even though temporary, of the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi by Sunni militias claiming links to al-Qaeda, is a strong and even humiliating symbol of the failure of the policies the United States carried out in Iraq. A little more than a decade after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime – and after hundreds of thousands of deaths on the Iraqi side and more than 5,000 on the American side – we can only lament a sad conclusion: All that for this!

In Syria, the same admission of failure is emerging. Assad and his loyal allies - Russia and Iran - have actually emerged stronger from their confrontation with the West. Civilian massacres, including with chemical weapons, did not change anything. The regime is holding tight, despite losing control of important parts of its territory, thanks to its allies’ support and, most importantly, the weakness of its opponents and those who support them.

In reality, from the Middle East to Africa, the entire idea of outside intervention is being challenged in a widely post-American region. How and when can one intervene appropriately? At which point does not intervening become, to quote the French diplomat Talleyrand following the assassination of the Duke of Enghien in 1804, “worse than a crime, a mistake?”

When is intervention necessary? “Humanitarian emergency” is a very elastic concept. Is the fate of Syrian civilians less tragic than that of Libyans? Why intervene in Somalia in 1992 and not inSudan? The decision to intervene reveals, in part, selective emotions that can also correspond to certain sensitivities or, in a more mundane way, to certain best interests of the moment.

Intervention becomes more probable when it follows the success of some other action; or, on the contrary, a decision to abstain that led to massacre and remorse. The tragedy of the African Great Lakes in 1994 – not to mention the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia in 1995 – certainly contributed to the West’s decision to intervene in Kosovo in 1999. In reality, the intervention of a given country at a given time is typically driven by multiple factors: the existence of an interventionist culture, a sense of urgency, a minimum of empathy towards the country or the cause justifying the intervention, and, of course, the existence of resources that are considered, rightly or wrongly, sufficient and well-adapted. Read more…

 

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