Europe news highlights | Week of 8 June 2015

Greece is Weakened  in its Austerity Challenge 

“There was a window of opportunity to change course,” said Paul De Grauwe, a professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science who is a critic of austerity. “But somehow the northern view — of Germany, Holland and Finland — has prevailed. Why was this? That is where the power is. The power of the purse.”

via Greece’s Alliances Fade in European Debate About Its Debt Crisis –

For Greece to Win is Game Theory the Plan?

It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that Yanis Varoufakis is an expert in game theory and a key negtiator in Greece’s efforts to overcome the financial pressures of austerity.

Virtually everyone agrees that a default by Greece is the least desirable outcome for both Greece and its creditors — among them Germany and France; the European Central Bank; and the I.M.F. Yet one of Dr. Nash’s critical insights is that there may be many possible outcomes — so-called Nash equilibriums — that produce suboptimal results. A Nash equilibrium exists when each side’s strategy is optimal given what they believe to be the others’ strategy.

For example, if Germany and other creditors don’t believe Greece’s threat to default, and underestimate the severity of such an outcome, they might see their optimal strategy as remaining firm in their demands for Greek fiscal austerity and structural reforms. If, on the other hand, Germany believes Mr. Varoufakis to be ideologically motivated to reject further austerity, it might well cave to Greek demands for leniency.

via In Greek Debt Puzzle, Game Theorists Have it

Can a Market Solution Solve the European Refugee Crisis?

A Yale University professor looks at European country incentives, sees a market-of-sorts already in place, and observes that the question is not whether refugees should be allowed to enter–but where.

via Creating a Market for Refugees in Europe –

Ask a Russian Major about Putin

Still can’t figure out what makes Russia’s top leader tick? In an article that is both literary analysis and intelligence brief, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy’s dean lays out the psychology, historical mindset, and cultural underpinnings of Vladimir Putin and the Russian people that he leads.

Forget the NSA intercepts or spy satellite imagery. And drop the jargon-filled scholarly analysis from those political science journals.mInstead, get back to the richest literary gold mine in the Western world: Russian novels and poetry. Read Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, and Bulgakov. That’s where you’ll really find how Russians think. And it’s all unclassified!

via James Stavridis in

Nobody Likes the New U.S. Embassy in London

So the old location in Grosvenor Square was historic, elegantly designed, and yet susceptible to attacks and outdated. The NYT reports on much ado about thew new one–which solves the security problem with a LEED-certified technology-packed building but leaves others wanting more.

via With Move Across London, U.S. Embassy Can’t Please Everyone 

Collier on How Migration Hurts the Homeland

Should borders be open? Essential, irrelevant–or even more so, a “fundamental freedom?” The notable developmental economist Paul Collier makes the case that migration can cause economic harm, contrary to some economic arguments:

Migration is good for poor countries, but not in every form, and not in unlimited amounts. The migration that research shows is unambiguously beneficial is the kind in which young people travel to democracies like America for higher education and then go home. Not only do these young people bring back valuable skills directly learned in the classroom; they bring back political and social attitudes that they have assimilated from their classmates. Their skills raise the productivity of the unskilled majority, and their attitudes accelerate democratization.

via Migration Hurts the Homeland –

Pope Benedict XVI, in Lebanon, Makes Plea for Religious Freedom –

The leader of the Catholic Church (and governmental head of the Holy See, an independent state and member state with observer status at the UN) visits Lebanon, a place where he sees “an example of diversity and mutual coexistence for the Middle East and the world”:

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday implored young Christians not to emigrate from Lebanon, saying they were “meant to be protagonists” as the country moved forward, and urging them to forge closer bonds with Muslim youth.

via Pope Benedict XVI, in Lebanon, Makes Plea for Religious Freedom –

Also interesting is that the Holy Father called sending weapons to Syria “a grave sin.”

Arizona and the World

If you think U.S. state politics are ‘local’ and human rights are ‘international’ and n’ere the two shall meet, think again.  In what looks to be Jan Brewer v. Hillary Clinton in the court of public opinion, the Governor and the Sec State square off over a U.N. report, submitted by the State Department.

This political skirmish will be fun to watch, but it also illustrates a phenonemon discussed by BYU political scientist Earl Fry, namely the increasing role of ‘local’ government in U.S. foreign policy:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer demanded Friday that a reference to the state’s controversial immigration law be removed from a State Department report to the United Nations’ human rights commissioner.

The U.S. included its legal challenge to the law on a list of ways the federal government is protecting human rights.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Brewer says it is “downright offensive” that a state law would be included in the report, which was drafted as part of a UN review of human rights in all member nations every four years.

“The idea of our own American government submitting the duly enacted laws of a state of the United States to ‘review’ by the United Nations is internationalism run amok and unconstitutional,” Brewer wrote.

via Brewer hits U.N. report citing Ariz. law – Washington Times.

Behind the News = migration

What’s the hub for every spoke in the news?  The NYT’s summary connects the dots on migration:

It is a story-behind-the-story, a complicating tide, in issues as diverse as school bond fights and efforts to isolate Iran. (Seeking allies in Latin America this month, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had to emphasize the dangers of a nuclear-armed Tehran while fending off complaints about the Arizona law.)

Even people who study migration for a living struggle to fully grasp its effects. “Politically, socially, economically, culturally — migration bubbles up everywhere,” James F. Hollifield, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, said. “We often don’t recognize it.”

via Global Migration – A World Ever More on the Move –