Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

16 September 2019

As China Surges, Europe Is on the Menu


China’s naval expansion and commercial push into Europe are aimed at redefining the global trade and security system to the detriment of the democratic West. Europe and the U.S. need to wake up to the challenge.

Geopolitics is back, in no small part because of the growing realization in Washington that the China strategy the United States has pursued since the end of the Cold War has failed. China’s challenge to the United States, and the West in general, is systemic, and intent on redefining the existing global trading regime, the structure of our alliances, and, last but not least, the existing framework of norms and values that has historically favored the democratic West. After four decades of misplaced expectations that the PRC’s export-driven modernization would bring about democratization, and that Beijing would opt for merging its trajectory with that of the larger global trade and security system, the United States is now confronted with a near-peer competitor intent on assembling a constellation of states to challenge America and its allies. For three post-Cold war decades, encomia for the internationalization of manufacturing and the inevitable triumph of our normative institutions served to push the cause of China’s ever-deeper integration with the West. So it is perhaps ironic that Sino-American competition is now gearing up to spread beyond the Indo-Pacific, deep into the European part of the Eurasian Rimland.

15 September 2019

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue: Towards an Indo-Pacific Order

David Envall writes that the revised “Quad”—the 2017 update of the informal quadrilateral security dialogue originally formed by the US, Japan, India and Australia in 2007—represents a renewed attempt to shore up a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific. However, Envall also contends the Quad’s viability faces major challenges. These include the potential for the geopolitical situation to overwhelm cooperation opportunities, as happened with the original Quad. Further, as the Quad again aims to support the “Indo-Pacific” order, it is constrained by the vagueness of the Indo-Pacific concept and Indonesia’s absence.

14 September 2019

How Brexit Is Undoing Britain’s Political System

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Brexit could wreck Britain’s centuries-old character of alternating rule by large, ideologically capacious parties. If so, the irony is that British politics will end up resembling politics in much of the rest of Europe.

In the parable of the boy who cried wolf, we should remember that the wolf did exist. The danger was real. The boy wasn’t wrong, merely premature.

It could be the same with the realignment of British politics: frequently predicted, it has yet to happen.

Kellner is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, where his research focuses on Brexit, populism, and electoral democracy.

Now, at last, it could be taking place before our eyes. If so, it will cause great turbulence and affect not just Britain’s relations with Europe but the long-term future of the party system at Westminster.

The New US Strategy to Remove Maduro in Venezuela

By Allison Fedirka
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After months of little progress, it seems the United States may be getting closer to removing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from office. Until relatively recently, Washington had been pushing to unseat Maduro by throwing its support behind opposition leader Juan Guaido, hoping that he could inspire an uprising that could overthrow the president. So far, that strategy hasn’t worked. So Washington has come up with a new plan: negotiate a transition directly with the Maduro government. It’s been able to do this only because the sanctions imposed on Venezuela have weakened the government enough to force it to the negotiating table. Maduro’s departure now seems to be a question of when, not if.

How We Got Here

11 September 2019

Visualizing Brexit: A Flowchart

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will ask the House of Commons on Sept. 9 to authorize an early general election. Two-thirds of the members of the Commons must agree with Johnson to hold a snap election, which means that his Conservative Party needs to persuade members of the main opposition party, Labour, to back the proposal.

Labour is internally divided on whether, and when, to hold the vote. Some Labour members believe that an election should take place before a European Council summit on Oct. 17 so that a new government can be appointed and negotiate a deal with the European Union. But others fear that an election before the summit could result in a hard-line government that refuses to ask the European Union for a Brexit delay if there is not a deal, precipitating a hard Brexit. The latter group believes that by delaying an early election it can pressure Johnson to ask the European Union for a Brexit extension, under the threat of holding a no-confidence motion and appointing a new prime minister if he doesn't.

Europe Marvels as Britain Convulses Over Brexit


What on Earth happened to you, Britain? That is, in effect, the question being posed in many different languages as the Continent observes the goings-on in London with perplexity and growing distress. What is Boris Johnson doing? What is the state of play of Brexit? And really: Why, Britain, why?

For more than three years, Britain has been engaged in internecine political battles over its withdrawal from the European Union. Throughout that time, onlookers in Paris, Rome, Berlin, and elsewhere across Europe have marveled at how a country that once seemed from across the channel to be the pinnacle of competence, understatement, and musn’t-grumble consensus had become deadlocked over the best way to sever itself from Europe.

“Maybe it’s already a done deal. No doubt it’s pretty late to tell you this, but because I simply don’t want to believe it, it’s with crazy hope that I just want to say: Don’t leave us! Don’t do it!” Bernard Guetta, a newly elected member of the European Parliament, wrote in a cri de coeur in Le Monde. He continued: “In war and peace, we have shared a destiny for two thousand years, and today you want to cut your roots, to amputate us from you and you from your Europeanness at the very moment when our unity and our common institutions have finally allowed all of us Europeans—you and us—to live without killing each other.”

The German Economy Is Running Out of Options

By Ryan Bridges
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It’s crunch time for Germany and the European Central Bank. For close to a decade, the ECB has been cutting interest rates while urging member states that have funds for fiscal stimulus (read: Germany) to use them. The ECB grew increasingly desperate to stimulate the eurozone economy and raise inflation, and in 2015, it finally introduced its asset purchases program. It continued to urge the German government to act in order to support growth throughout the bloc, and Germany continued to refuse. From Berlin, things didn’t look so bad. The ECB’s easy money kept the value of the euro down, which gave a boost to German exports and the German budget, practically without Berlin having to lift a finger. Until the second half of 2018, the German economy was riding high, even as German politicians and bankers lamented the effect that the ECB’s low interest rates were having on German savers and bank profits.

European Strategic Autonomy and the US

Jack Thompson
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Jack Thompson writes that, historically, the United States has been wary of initiatives designed to bolster Europe’s strategic autonomy. Further, even now, the Trump administration is working to undermine it. Yet in the long run, European strategic autonomy could form an indispensable component of a constructive transatlantic relationship.

10 September 2019

Boris Johnson’s Make-Believe Brexit Negotiations

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LONDON—Boris Johnson’s brief premiership—and his vows to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union by Oct. 31 “do or die”—both suffered a near-fatal hammering Wednesday after the House of Commons approved a bill forcing the U.K. government to seek a delay in Brexit if no new deal was struck with Brussels before the Halloween deadline.

Even more perilous for Johnson, he doesn’t seem to be putting forth any new negotiating position on how to get to Brexit, even if he could get Parliament to agree.

Johnson has long promised that a more vigorous negotiating position than that of his predecessor, Theresa May, would push the EU into offering last-minute concessions on the terms of Britain’s scheduled exit from the union. But according to a senior official source in the U.K. Foreign Office, under Johnson’s administration the U.K.’s Brexit negotiating team has in reality been “completely hollowed out” with “key people reassigned.” Despite Johnson’s promises of new proposals to solve the nearly intractable problem of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, in the run-up to a crunch EU summit on Oct. 17, the Johnson team has “nothing remotely new on the table,” the official told Foreign Policy.

Brexit endgame: Boris Johnson loses control

Amanda Sloat

During another dramatic week in British politics, Parliament—facing an imminent five-week suspension as the clock ticks towards the October 31 Brexit deadline—seized control of the agenda, introduced legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit, and blocked early elections. It was a stunning series of defeats for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who lost his one-seat parliamentary majority when a member of parliament (MP) defected, then expelled 21 MPs from his party for voting against him, and finally saw his own brother quit as Tory MP and minister. September 9 is the next date to watch, when parliament is expected to finalize the bill blocking no-deal and reconsider fall elections.


Not exactly. But it is trying to pass legislation that would prevent the government from pursuing this outcome.

In a short statement outside Downing Street on September 2, Johnson threw down the gauntlet: He pledged not to request a Brexit extension from the EU “under any circumstances” and implicitly threatened elections if rebels forced his hand. Parliament responded when it returned from its summer recess on September 3, with a cross-party group of MPs introducing an emergency debate motion—which Speaker John Bercow allowed in an unprecedented decision—to seize control of the agenda and fast-track a private member’s bill blocking a no-deal Brexit. It passed in a 328-301 vote.

9 September 2019

Time for the EU to Refocus on Kosovo and the Region


Kosovar demand for the famous ladyfingers, made in Serbia, did not disappear in the dark years of Slobodan Milošević’s reign, in the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, or even during the spat over Kosovo’s independence.

If the biscuits are no longer available today, it is a sign of how deep the rift currently is between Pristina and Belgrade.

One year ago, Hashim Thaçi and Aleksandar Vučić, the respective presidents of Kosovo and Serbia, proposed to “correct” their shared border. What it really meant was a land swap. It proved to be surprisingly unpopular, both in Kosovo and in Serbia, albeit for different reasons.

In Kosovo, the plan met the fierce resistance of then prime minister Ramush Haradinaj. In an attempt to torpedo a prospective deal between the presidents, his government introduced a 100 percent import tax on goods originating from Serbia. This prohibitive tax hit Serbia’s exporters to Kosovo hard, as they still had a major market share. It also poisoned the political rhetoric between the two countries.

In return, Serbia stepped up its campaign to block Kosovo’s access to international institutions, lobbying third countries to undo their recognition of Kosovo.

Europe Is Ready for Its Own Army


The phones at the White House switchboard are ringing nonstop. World leaders are jostling to get through to congratulate a newly reelected U.S. President Donald Trump. Trumpism is no longer a blip or a political aberration of the natural order but the new political direction. An emboldened President is determined to continue his policies with renewed vigor and ensure his legacy is entrenched in this new world. A world where the United States no longer wishes to be the “world’s policeman.” A world where an American president declares NATO, the cornerstone of American defense policy since World War II, obsolete. A world where political instability is used as leverage to extract monetary contributions or trade concessions from nominal allies. A world where the political base of the president of the United States regards the Kremlin as a closer ally and friend than any American of a different political party.

Four years ago this would have been a pretty tenuous premise for an alternative-history fiction film. Today, that world is very real. And European leaders are already thinking about how to cope with a scenario where they face a resurgent empire to the east, and a fading—and no longer friendly—superpower in the west. Under these conditions, a real European army could emerge for the first time.

Rare Earth Elements: Australia’s Resource Potential

Australia is pushing to challenge China’s dominance in the supply of materials commonly used in the defense and high-tech industries.

7 September 2019

30 Years After Reunification, Germany Is Still Two Countries

By Anna Sauerbrey

BERLIN — Nov. 9 marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. There will be no lack of commemoration — but there will also be very little celebration. Today the country is once again divided along East-West lines, and growing more so. As it does, the historical narrative of what really happened in the years after 1989 is shifting as well.

Only a few years ago, when my country consecutively celebrated the 25th anniversary of the wall’s demise and of German reunification in 1990, the official mood was one of victory and hope.

President Joachim Gauck, a former East German pastor who had played a role in the Communist regime’s demise, then later oversaw the declassification of the archives of the Stasi secret police, praised the East German masses who, in their “desire for freedom,” stood up to “overwhelm” the “oppressor” — an uprising, he said, in the tradition of the French Revolution. A year later, he spoke optimistically about German reunification, stressing the dwindling differences between eastern and western Germans.

The EU and NATO: The Essential Partners

This book features nine chapters on NATO-EU cooperation, focusing on areas of interaction identified in the two organizations’ Joint Declarations of 2016 and 2018. More specifically, the topics covered include EU-NATO interaction regarding hybrid threats; operational cooperation; cyberspace; defense capability development; defense-industrial cooperation; capacity building of partner countries and organizations; counterterrorism; and the women, peace and security agenda. In assessing theses areas, the text also addresses recent achievements, challenges and ways forward in EU-NATO cooperation.

6 September 2019

Britain is mired in democratic crisis – but it goes much deeper than Brexit

Aditya Chakrabortty
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Growing up, I learned that leaders who threaten democracy normally came decked out in khaki green, in front of troops toting shiny hardware. They commandeered broadcast studios, captured national buildings and imposed curfews on the streets. What is happening in Britain this week looks nothing like those grainy TV pictures, but it nonetheless marks an assault on our democracy.

The government wants to shut down parliamentary democracy, claiming it is acting for the good of parliamentary democracy. From within No 10 Dominic Cummings threatens to end the career of elected MPs. And David Gauke, the Conservative MP who just six weeks ago was secretary of state for justice, wrote to his former government colleagues on Monday to ask them to obey the rule of law

In his own pseudo-bumbling fashion, Johnson is taking a leaf out of the book of Trump, Modi, Bolsonaro

Just because the paradoxes are so glaring makes them no less dangerous. The self-proclaimed party of law and order has this summer dropped the first bit to become merely the party of order. In this battle of Brexit-blocking politicians versus the people, the tribune of us plebs is none other than Jacob Rees-Mogg. His leader is Boris Johnson, perhaps the most slovenly would-be authoritarian in contemporary history.

Bewitched by Brexit: Referendums and modern democracy

Chatham House 

Brexit is putting parliamentary democracy in question

Brexit may well become a textbook example of the damage that a referendum can wreak on parliamentary democracy. To understand what a referendum is, one need only look at Tarrenz, a mountain village in the Austrian state of Tyrol. Its inhabitants also call it Hexendorf (witch village), because visitors are easily bewitched by its breathtaking natural beauty. But, in 1938, villagers in Tarrenz were bewitched by something else: political sentiment. We know how treacherous this sentiment can be because, by accident, this village held two referendums on the same issue in quick succession – two referendums that, just like the one the United Kingdom held on membership of the European Union in June 2016, concerned the future of the country.

The first Tarrenz referendum, held on 13 March 1938, was organised by then Austrian chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg. Schuschnigg was intimidated by Hitler, who increasingly threatened to invade Austria. On 9 March, the chancellor tried to push against the tide by announcing a referendum on the preservation of Austrian independence. But, two days later, he cancelled it under pressure from Hitler, who promised to invade if the vote went ahead. Hitler side-lined Schuschnigg anyway, and replaced him with a loyal Austrian Nazi, Arthur Seyss-Inquart (who later came to control the occupied Netherlands on behalf of Hitler). Then, on 12 March, Hitler’s forces marched into Austria. But Tarrenz had not received the news that Schuschnigg’s referendum had been cancelled. There, the referendum went ahead as planned, with 100 percent of residents voting for Austrian independence – and, therefore, against Nazi domination.

A referendum revolves around the sentiments of the masses

5 September 2019

Plan B in Venezuela

By Michael J. Camilleri 

From its first weeks in office, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has been intent on dislodging Nicolás Maduro from power in Venezuela—resorting to everything from tough talk of “military options” and indictments of senior officials to hard-hitting sanctions and multilateral diplomacy. In January, after two years of effort, Washington seemed to be close to reaching its goal. With an uncharacteristic display of careful diplomatic coordination, the United States, along with several Latin American governments and other U.S. partners, announced that it would recognize Juan Guaidó, the then-35-year-old leader of the National Assembly, as the country’s interim president. And this move, the thinking went, would surely, before long, catalyze a military or popular uprising that would drive the dictatorial Maduro from power. When Guaidó, with the support of some military figures, launched a high-stakes attempt to seize power at the end of April, it seemed that Maduro’s end might finally have arrived.

Erdogan’s Way

By Kaya Genc 

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the most baffling politician to emerge in the 96-year history of Turkey. He is polarizing and popular, autocratic and fatherly, calculating and listless. Erdogan’s ideology shifts every few years, and he appears to make up his road map as he goes along. He is short-tempered: he grabs cigarette packs from citizens to try to force them into quitting, scolds reporters who ask tough questions, and once walked off the stage after an angry exchange with the Israeli president at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But he can also be extremely patient. It has taken him 16 years to forge what he calls “the new Turkey,” an economically self-reliant country with a marginalized opposition and a subservient press.

This mix of anger and calm has made Erdogan increasingly successful at the ballot box. He became prime minister in 2003 after his party won 34 percent of the vote, and by 2011, its share had risen to just shy of 50 percent. In 2014, when he ran for president in order to centralize his authority, more than half of Turks who cast a ballot voted for him. They did so again in 2018, by which time they had also voted to do away with the post of prime minister altogether. 

4 September 2019

A guide to the different sorts of chaos looming over Westminster

Isabel Hardman

What is going to happen next week in parliament? Most anti-no-deal rebels see it as their last opportunity to block Britain leaving the European Union without a deal, but what they haven’t yet agreed on is how best to do it. There are a number of likely scenarios, some of which intertwine with one another, and to show how chaotic the next few days are likely to be, I’ve drawn up a flowchart of how things might pan out (you can click on the image to view a larger version of the chaos):