Tag Archives: Europe

Brexit Commentary from Brown University Experts

Insights on Brexit from J. Brian Atwood, Keith Brown, Jeff Colgan, Sue Eckert, Timothy Edgar, Alexander Gourevitch, Michael Kennedy, Stephen Kinder, Patsy Lewis, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, Jazira F-Y Zamindar, and J. Nicholas Zeigler.

A Fatal Blow

Brexit promises to shatter the post-war order in Europe, to remove the British as intermediaries between the United States and “the Continent,” and to deal a potentially fatal blow to Britain’s special relationships with both.  All this as ill-considered proposals to renegotiate U.S. trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific alliances, the global trade regime, and US-Russia and US-China relations ring out on the campaign trail in the United States.  —(Ambassador Chas Freeman’s full speech)

Source: 2016 – Explore – Brexit Faculty Commentary | Watson Institute

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Not So Special Anymore?

One big change that comes from Brexit? The US/UK “special relationship” will change:

“I worry that we will have less clout on our own: In the future we won’t have as much influence on Europe’s response to Putin’s transgressions, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, or the E.U.’s foreign and security policy,” said Peter Westmacott, one of Britain’s most experienced diplomats and, until January, ambassador to the United States. “And we will be less able to ensure it is U.S.-friendly.”

He added that without Britain’s direct involvement, Europe was likely to be less enthusiastic about free trade.

Still, Mr. Westmacott noted that “we should be able to cooperate much as in the past on counterterrorism, on intelligence, on cyber and on military issues,” assuming that “our economy does not shrink too much as markets, investors and the Scots take stock of Thursday’s outcome.”

All of which raises the question: If Britain can no longer play that indispensable role for Washington, surely there is another country that can? Perhaps, but it is hard to think of who.

Source: With ‘Brexit,’ Washington’s Direct Line to the Continent Suddenly Frays – The New York Times

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Must See: OSLO on secret negotiations

This new play at Lincoln Center Theater by J.T. Rogers explores the nexus of back channel diplomacy with “impeccable sources for his imagined history

He explains how the play emerged through a meeting with the then UN special envoy for Lebanon and his wife, Terje Rod-Larsen and the deputy permanent representative and Ambassador for Norway to the UN, Mona Juul.

In that bar, Mr. Larsen explained that he and his wife were intimately involved with the making of the Oslo Accords. I knew of the first-ever peace deal between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. I’ll never forget watching the signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on television, Sept. 13, 1993 — seeing President Clinton preside over that historic handshake between the bitterest of enemies, Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister of Israel, and Yasir Arafat, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. I already knew the joy and the rage that handshake caused around the world.

Then he told me something I did not know: that there was a clandestine diplomatic back channel that had made the accords possible. That without a handful of men and women — Israeli, Palestinian and Norwegian — working in secret to try to alter the political reality of two peoples, those accords never would have happened.

Source: ‘Oslo’ and the Drama in Diplomacy – The New York Times

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Machiavelli, reconsidered.

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“Redemption, rebirth, must take the form of going back to the founding principles” says an expert on the Florentine diplomat.  A lifetime of study helps Professor Maurizio Viroli of Princeton and UT Austin rebrand Machiavelli as a sage observer of political culture and a helpful resource for today. (Also, in his earlier works Viroli worked to redeem Machiavelli from being seen merely as sinister.)

His book, How to Chose a Leader: Machiavelli’s Advice to Citizens, offers solutions to contemporary political predicaments, say, the fallen Berlusconi or the rising Trump, for example. In the LA Review of Books Robert Zaretsky writes:

We are as weak now as we were then. We still want to believe, and not the small stuff. We want, instead, to believe the big stuff. The bigger the lie, the greater our satisfaction; the greater our satisfaction, the deeper our credulity. Yet Machiavelli, contrary to popular belief, does not applaud this sort of dissimulation. Instead, he agonizes over it. Time and again, he urges citizens to exercise their reason, to beware of leaders who appeal to their passions. In troubled times, he warns, citizens turn against minorities within their countries by turning them into scapegoats. This reflex, in turn, lifts to power those who promise to protect the people against their imagined enemies. The enemy of my enemy is not just my friend; he is my leader.

Utah radio interviewer Doug Fabrizio explores the book with Viroli on KUER’s Radio West. It is well worth a listen for a few fresh insights into

 

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After 100 Years, the Meaning of Verdun

Some facts about Verdun may surprise you: Verdun was symbolically important for both sides, had been intended by Germany to be a battle of attrition and caught the French by surprise. It resulted in roughly equal and staggering casualties: 800k dead, wounded or missing with approximately 150 dead–and many unrecoverable remains.

Did the horror and utter failure for both sides create a new era of Franco-German cooperation?

What was the meaning of this now-defining battle of World War I? Paul Jankowski writes:

To a historian 100 years later, Verdun does yield a meaning, in a way a darkly ironic one. Neither Erich von Falkenhayn, the chief of the German General Staff, nor his French counterpart, Joseph Joffre, had ever envisaged a climactic, decisive battle at Verdun. They had attacked and defended with their eyes elsewhere on the front, and had thought of the fight initially as secondary, as ancillary to their wider strategic goals. And then it became a primary affair, self-sustaining and endless. They had aspired to control it. Instead it had controlled them. In that sense Verdun truly was iconic, the symbolic battle of the Great War of 1914-18.

Source: World War I’s Iconic, Ironic Battle – The New York Times

Also, don’t miss this incredible interactive then/new photography on the war and Verdun by Guardian UK to see the destructiuon from another perspective.

 

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Looking at the COP21 Negotiations

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, President-designate of COP21, and Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate change Christiana Figueres (L) attend the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France

Some key takeaways from the negotiations that concluded yesterday in Paris, called “the world’s greatest diplomatic success” by the Guardian, “a big, big deal” by This Week, and “the treaty that dare not speak its  name” by National Review.

The Document

  • The final agreement includes at least seven key elements, as parsed by NYT reporters, namely temperature increase, forests, financing, transparency, fossil-fuel reserves, loss/damage, and 5 year contributions. (Analysts are still breaking down the full implications post hoc, but this brief by Michael Levi of CFR is helpful.)
  • In true diplomatic form, one word (“shall” instead of “should”) nearly derailed the entire process.
  • If you haven’t explored how these negotiations work before, you need to know that brackets “[” and “]” are an essential tool in the negotiations, and part of the game. For the full post-game analysis, including samples of the language as it evolved through the past weeks–see Deconstructing Paris–an essential blog.

 

The Players

  • President Obama has demonstrated that his critics may be correct–he does have a master plan and can achieve it–and demonstrated his global diplomacy mastery in Paris.
  • And a key negotiator-in-chief behind Paris, Christiana Figueres, is a Colombian who heads the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat; her strategy is explored in the New Yorker profile last August.
  • Bill Gates stepped up to marshall a new coalition from Silicon Valley–but also reaching out to India–and led to a $2B investment in R&D for clean energy.

 

The Process

  • Indaba, a negotiation strategy of the Zulu and Xhosa peoples of southern Africa may have played a role in fostering large-group consensus. It involves gathering red lines from all interested parties–thus speeding up the process to agreement.
  • An article published in Nature used game theory to explore a possible negotiated outcome. Were they right?
  • The agreement is not binding. Does that matter?
  • Jargon, vocabulary, or technical know-how. Whatever you call it, here are the terms to know.
  • Sometimes skilled negotiations don’t work–because negotiators are influenced by their psychology and can prioritize fairness over a rational offer–and ultimately walk away from a deal. (David Victor, Lab of Law and International Regulation, UCSD)

 

Civil Society

  • Two New Zealanders created  #COP21Tracker, the worlds largest Google Doc (?) to follow the diplomatic negotiation process
  • @ParisAgreement also provided helpful analysis, in 140 characters or less, of course
  • Follow a rag tag group of students on the Duke to Paris Facebook page as they try to make sense of the process
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Booklist | Ian Kershaw’s ‘To Hell and Back: Europe, 1914-1949’ 

Vytautas The Great War Museum Kaunas, Lithuania

Could the Great War have been avoided? Ian Kershaw’s new book offers an explanation:

Kershaw argues that World War I could have been forestalled if Vienna had acted with speed to punish Serbia for its complicity in the murder of the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; it had the Kaiser’s reckless blank check for punishment, but as Kershaw puts it, the Austrian Empire “knew only two speeds, slow and dead stop.” By the time Vienna sent its ultimatum to Belgrade, three weeks after the assassination, Russia, with France in tow, had encouraged the Serbs to be more bloody-minded. More bloody-minded, in my own judgment, than justified.

Kershaw identifies a second missed opportunity to avert mass slaughter. He writes that even as Russia started to mobilize in the summer of 1914 — much before Germany — “a firm British declaration of neutrality . . . might even at a late hour have prevented general war. But Grey’s disastrous hesitation meant that the room for diplomatic initiatives vanished.” Pretty well every history nods to the poetic prescience of Sir Edward Grey, the British foreign secretary, in the foreboding he expressed on Aug. 3. Standing by his big window overlooking Horse Guards Parade, he watched the gas lights being lit in the street below and said: “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” They were, though Grey lived to see Europe, with the lights on, begin to fumble its irresolute way to World War II.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story

Source: Ian Kershaw’s ‘To Hell and Back: Europe, 1914-1949’ – The New York Times

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Creating a New Europe in Vienna, 1814

Ballhausplatz, the Austrian seat of power and location for 1814’s meetings (as well as some bad boy behavior in the extreme).

History allows us to look back and create convenient categories, rightly or wrongly. One such set of bookends could include the 19th century’s run of peace and cooperation ending with the Great War in July 1914 and starting in Vienna, 1814.

Was this party in Vienna such a game changer? Some sigh with apathy–or debate the notion, but as Stephen Walt writes in ForeignPolicy.com, many rightly see this as a key turning point in global affairs:

After the Napoleonic Wars, diplomats and officials from all over Europe convened in Vienna to negotiate a peace settlement to resolve the various issues that had arisen after over two decades of war. Sure, there was a lot of hard-nosed haggling over borders and other arrangements, but historical accounts of the Congress also make it clear that the participants also engaged in months of energetic revelry, much of it of a decidedly lubricious sort. Historians who regard the Congress as a great success might argue that all this frivolity helped; those who believe the Congress left many critical issues unresolved probably think the assembled plenipotentiaries should have spent less time partying and more time on their work.

via Top 5 parties in world history | Foreign Policy.

Follow this animated map of 19th century Europe through the Congress to WWI to see how events evolved in the aftermath of Napoleon and how power was maintained by the victors, with clear losers being nationalistic aspirations and French revolutionary ideals in Poland, Belgium Norway, Italy, Germany, and among Balkan Christians (Serbs, Christians, Greeks, and Bulgurs).

click for animated explanation of how European powers divided up the Continent post-Napoleon.

click this animated explanation of how European powers divided up the Continent post-Napoleon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No less than Henry Kissinger, the realpolitik living dean of international relations cut his teeth on the Congress of Vienna, writing his dissertation on Metternich the statesman. But an exciting new book on the topic by historian Adam Zamoyski takes on Kissinger’s conclusion directly, as noted in this Guardian book review:

For those who believe that jaw-jaw is more interesting than war-war, this is an exhilarating book. Zamoyski starts with the exhausted emperor hustling back to Paris after the retreat from Moscow to try to keep French domination of Europe alive. He finishes with a demolition job on Henry Kissinger, whose doctoral thesis on the diplomat Metternich praised the Congress of Vienna for giving Europe a century of peace. Zamoyski has no time for Kissinger or his Austrian hero, Metternich.

The system that came to be called the Concert of Europe, Zamoyski writes, “imposed an orthodoxy which not only denied political existence to many nations; it enshrined a particularly stultified form of monarchical government; institutionalised social hierarchies as rigid as any that existed under the ancien régime; by excluding whole classes and nations this system nurtured envy and resentment, which flourished into socialism and aggressive nationalism.”

 

 

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Europe news highlights | Week of 1 June

Don’t miss the following NYT stories from this past week that relate closely to the themes of immigration, the European economic crisis, and current conflicts in Europe’s periphery:

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How the Euro Crisis, Iranian Nuclear Deal and Ukraine are Connected

Good insight from Stratfor on how three seemingly unrelated events intersect:

Germany needs a deal with Russia to be able to manage an existential crisis for the eurozone; Russia needs a deal with the United States to limit U.S. encroachment on its sphere of influence; and the United States needs a deal with Iran to refocus its attention on Russia. No conflict is divorced from the other, though each may be of a different scale. Germany and Russia can find ways to settle their differences, as can Iran and the United States. But a prolonged eurozone crisis cannot be avoided, nor can a deep Russian mistrust of U.S. intentions for its periphery.

Both issues bring the United States back to Eurasia. A distracted Germany will compel the United States to go beyond NATO boundaries to encircle Russia. Rest assured, Russia — even under severe economic stress — will find the means to respond.

via The Intersection of Three Crises | Stratfor.

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