Tag Archives: Europe

Changing European Demographics in 4 CityLab Maps





















Europe’s population is shifting to the Northwest. The GDP in its more easterly nations seems to be booming, while the countryside and many smaller cities continue to empty at the expense of the great conurbations. And while Europe’s southern nations continue to suffer under austerity, cities around the Mediterranean are nonetheless among the fastest growing in terms of population. These are just some of the key demographic shifts outlined in a recent report [PDF] from Bloomberg Philanthropies and LSE Cities. While the report focuses overall on the 155 submissions made to last year’s first ever Europe-based Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, its data provides a fascinating snapshot of a continent on the move.

via 4 Maps Crucial to Understanding Europe’s Population Shift – CityLab.

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Book Portrays Eichmann as Evil, but Not Banal – NYTimes.com

A recent film about Hannah Arendt, the political philosopher, illustrated into her views on evil and Adolf Eichmann, a leader in the Third Reich in what a reviewer called “the glorification of thinking.”  Now, Arendt’s original thesis has been challenged–this time in a new book by Bettina Stangneth, the author of Eichmann Before Jerusalem.

Listening to Eichmann in Jerusalem, Arendt saw an “inability to think.” Listening to Eichmann before Jerusalem, Ms. Stangneth sees a master manipulator skilled at turning reason, that weapon of the enemy, against itself.

“As a philosopher, you want to protect thinking as something beautiful,” she said. “You don’t want to think that someone who is able to think does not also love it.”

via Book Portrays Eichmann as Evil, but Not Banal – NYTimes.com.

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Are the French feeling decapitated?

How can we make sense of France’s place in the new European (and world) order?  Roger Cohen says it has to do with technology and the discombobulation of time and space that occurs as a result of this “modernity”:

France is a modern country as well as a beautiful one. Its attributes, from its health system to its rail system (when not on strike), are well known. But the French dislike modernity. They mistrust modernity. That is the nub of the problem. They dislike and mistrust it for two reasons. Modernity has redefined space and relegated the state. This is intolerable.

The redefinition of space has involved the technology-driven elimination of distance. As Michel Serres, a prominent French philosopher, put it in a lecture last year at the Sorbonne on the digital world, “Boeing shortens distances; new technologies annul them.”

via France Decapitated – NYTimes.com.


Meet Bradford Smith, the “Tech World’s Envoy”

A lawyer that you can like–and other compliments abound for this corporate leader who combines policy knowledge with negotiation skills.  Bradford Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, plays a key role on both coasts and around the glob–much like a diplomat-in-chief for tech interests.

Coalition building isn’t just for diplomats:

And in the fall of 2013, Mr. Smith and Erika Rottenberg, the general counsel of LinkedIn, the social media company, organized a meeting of general counsels from a half dozen or so major technology companies to talk about further unifying their efforts to press for government change. The meeting, in a private dining room of a restaurant in Palo Alto, Calif., eventually led to the formation of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, which counts Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft and LinkedIn as members.

“He’s good glue for those kinds of groups because of his policy skills and general intelligence,” Bruce Sewell, the general counsel of Apple, said of Mr. Smith.

via Microsoft’s Top Lawyer Is the Tech World’s Envoy – NYTimes.com.

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Why World War I Resonates – NYTimes.com

No society today would accept such a horrendous casualty count. At the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, on July 1, 1916, the British Army suffered 60,000 dead and wounded — in one day. It was arguably the worst butcher’s bill in military history, of army versus army. There is a very real sense in which the modern world — our world — was born between 1914 and 1918. Something changed in human sensibility. Soldiers wouldn’t be willing to engage in such slaughter. Toward the end of the First World War, even, tolerance for past norms had begun to end. In 1917, much of the French Army mutinied and refused to attack. They would defend but not attack. The days of cannon fodder were over forever as a result of that war, which is a further reason artists try to re-imagine it constantly.

via Why World War I Resonates – NYTimes.com.

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The Future of the OSCE

What is the OSCE–and why is it having a moment of truth in Ukraine?  Called the “least bad option” by Richard Gowan of NYU, it was common to debate the role of this until-recently-more-obscure, European regional security organization, until Russia chose to takeover Crimea.

More than ever before, the situation in Ukraine — and within the OSCE during this crisis — prove that we must finally adjust the consensus-based decision-making which prevents collective action against blatant violations of OSCE commitments.

The OSCE as an organization must resolve that it will not be taken hostage by any one state to remain silent and helpless while human suffering and brutal aggression continue.

The OSCE as an organization must resolve that it will not be taken hostage by any one state to remain silent and helpless while human suffering and brutal aggression continue. OSCE parliamentarians have long called on the governmental side to consider new rules — perhaps consensus minus one or two, or two-thirds-majority or some procedure that prevents a single country veto by a transgressor. Achieving this change will no doubt be a diplomatic battle royale, but this current episode has demonstrated just how much we need to take it on

via Can Europe’s Security Watchdog Survive the Crisis in Ukraine?.

Gowan explains on CFR.org the past view of OSCE:

The OSCE is the perennial also-ran among Europe’s security institutions. It lacks NATO’s military clout and the European Union’s economic resources. Its main strength is that it includes all the countries of Europe and the former Soviet Union, as well as the United States and Canada, but it is often hard to forge consensus among such diverse and sometimes antagonistic members.

The organization was prominent in the 1990s, when it offered a framework for Western and Eastern states to manage the crises that flared up in Europe after the Cold War: it sent peacemaking missions to the former Yugoslavia, Georgia, Moldova, and other trouble spots. It also handled questions such as the status of ethnic Russians in the Baltic states, which had the potential to spark conflict with Moscow. The OSCE had officials in Crimea in the mid-1990s trying to ease tensions between ethnic Russians and Tatars.

Although the OSCE developed expertise on issues such as minority rights and good governance, it began to lose momentum in the early 2000s. In recent years, it has ended up tending to long-standing conflicts, like the one between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, rather than taking on new challenges. It still has officials dealing with complex, if low-priority, problems like the future of the Serb minority in Kosovo, but the OSCE as a whole has been weakened by the mounting tensions between Russia and the West.

So the OSCE tends to be an afterthought until one of the half-resolved problems left over from the 1990s, like the status of the Crimea, explodes again and makes it relevant.

via CFR Interview, March 2014

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Germany [Hearts] Russia

Do we really know who Germany is, after all?  What’s with all the Russian love?  is this, as Der Spiegel writes, “a sympathy problem”?

You thought that Germans were the champions of international law and a rules-based world order? Think again.

There is a blatant hypocrisy here. At times the same people who had relied on international law to attack the American invasion of Iraq are now, as newborn realists, excusing Russia’s need to infringe on the sovereignty of other nations.

In point of fact, despite its trumped-up charges against Iraq, the Bush administration had at least 16 United Nations Security Council resolutions to support its case. Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s president, had zero. The only common denominator of both positions seems to be an underlying anti-Americanism.

Some of this pro-Moscow sentiment is the work of Russia-sponsored propaganda: A recent investigative report by the newspaper Welt am Sonntag revealed how a shady network of Russia supporters has shaped public discourse in Germany. Even dialogue forums with Russia, co-sponsored by the German government, are full of friends of Mr. Putin, even on the German side.

But there is also a disturbing undercurrent among ordinary Germans that harks back to old and unfortunate German traditions. We have come to think of Germany as a Western European country, but that is largely a product of Cold War alliances. Before then it occupied a precarious middle between east and west.

via Why Germans Love Russia – NYTimes.com.

And taking this a bit further, Joshua Keating wonders out loud “is this what the New Cold War looks like?”  At a minimum, Ukraine posses a new challenge for the US-German alliance.

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Anatol Lieven on the Solution for Peace in Ukraine

What needs to happen:

What is truly strange and terrible about this looming disaster is that all the leading players already know and agree about what the only solution can be, even if they disagree on the details and the timing: a federal Ukraine with elected regional governments and robust protection for regional interests. This, not further separation, is what Moscow is proposing; and this is what the Ukrainian interim president, Olexander Turchynov, has publicly hinted at for the Donbas. Although the rebels in Donetsk and other eastern cities have declared the Donetsk Republic and are now planning an independence referendum on May 11, many easterners, too, have indicated that they want some kind of federalization and not independence or annexation to Russia. As interviews published in Sunday’s New York Times make clear, even some rebel commanders themselves hope to keep Ukraine united.

via Ukraine: The Only Way to Peace by Anatol Lieven | NYRblog The New York Review of Books.

Lieven has been a voice of analysis (and reason) before, as he wrote in March why Ukraine should be a “bridge” rather than a “battlefield”:

The problem for the west is that while many of the pro-western Ukrainian forces are genuinely committed to western-style reforms, others are traditional nationalists who look to Nato and the EU for protection against Russia, without sharing mainstream liberal values. This may either make Ukraine’s integration into the west impossible or (as has already occurred in the case of Hungary) import into the EU forces which will ally with western European neo-fascist parties.

The problem for Russia in eastern and southern Ukraine is that a desire to keep the Russian language and close ties with Russia can co-exist with a desire for closer ties with the EU (though not with Nato). It is not at all the same thing as a desire simply to become part of Russia or even a subordinate member of a Russian alliance.

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Polish FM Radek Sikorski and the Modern European Project

This Polish foreign minister may be be the European leader to convince British euroskeptics (for more Europe) and German intransigence (for more leadership) at the same time.  A profile in FP.com shows the key role that he is playing in the Ukraine/Russia crisis–but his role in persuading Europe inter-alia is perhaps the most impressive part.

Yet it isn’t only Russian hard power that has Poland’s top diplomat concerned. In 2012, he delivered a speech near his alma mater of Oxford in which he essentially begged Britain to abandon its Euroskeptic attitudes and not even think about withdrawing from the European Union. “Do not underestimate our determination not to return to the politics of the 20th century,” he told his audience on that occasion. “You were not occupied. Most of us on the continent were. We will do almost anything to prevent that from happening again.” He also said that Poland did not want to be considered a “buffer” between the democratic West and the authoritarian East, but regarded as a full-fledged political and economic partner with Germany and France.

via Can Radek Sikorski Save Europe?.

So if Sikorski is finding friends inside the Eurozone, does Putin have allies in Europe on the other side?  The article explains that Putin has native allies among some of the extreme groups, including the UK Independence Party, Scotland’s National Party, Hungary’s Jobbik, France’s National Front and Austria’s Freedom Party?

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For Obama, Ukraine and Syria Trump Asia

What ails US foreign policy?  Some of it may come from the historical circumstances and  cards that have been dealt.  (Disasters in South Korea, the Philippines, and Japan and Malaysia also play a role.) But Obama’s Asia trip seems to not draw attention to the “pivot,” as Will Inboden points out:

Across the board America’s bilateral relations with the great powers are at their lowest points since Obama took office in 2009. Our European allies find us unpersuasive, our Asian allies find us unreliable, and Russia and China find us irresolute and inconsistent.

Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine has also thrown into sharp relief America’s diminished standing in the eyes of our European allies. Not only has Germany resisted our pleas for more effective sanctions, it turns out German firms may have played an instrumental role in training and equipping the Russian special forces now infiltrating Ukraine. France, suffering from a depressed economy and weak leader in President François Hollande, brazenly moves forward with plans to sell two helicopter carriers to Russia. The U.S.-British relationship is moribund, as the United Kingdom focuses on internal complications such as Scottish secessionism while finding the Obama administration an uncertain partner in addressing European challenges.

via When Asian Leaders Look at Obama, They See Ukraine and Syria.

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