Hooray For Nation States
January 27, 2011
How many times have we heard that the nation state is passé? That borders have disappeared, that distance is dead, that the Earth is flat, that our identities have become global, that politics transcends national boundaries, that the decisions shaping our economic lives are now made by multinational corporations and faceless international bureaucrats? And yet look at the way events have unfolded as the global financial crisis engulfed the world. Who bailed out the global banks to prevent the crisis from becoming even more cataclysmic?
Europe is Not Entitled to Hector Any Country
January 13, 2011
In the circles in which I move there are many people who are quite snarky about Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman. I've never really understood why. Maybe it’s just because he wants higher taxes than they do. But as an explicator of economic realities he as good as they come. And in a New York Times Magazine essay about the grim financial status of contemporary Europe he has made it all crystal clear. Most of the members of the European Union have made a tremendous mess of their fiscal situation, and many are in desperate trouble or near- desperate trouble looking into the future.
Let's Not Save the Euro or, For That Matter, The European Union
December 22, 2010
I am no fan of the European Union. It is an artificial contraption, run by the corporate and bureaucratic elites of the continent, without democratic sanction because the various peoples subsumed under its rule themselves see that it is without democratic values or ambitions. Had it at least energized the economies of Europe there might be some raison d'être for its intrusive rules which wreak havoc with every member nation's culture and identity. The fact is, however, that the prosperous countries are still more or less prosperous, some paradigmatically so.
December 17, 2010
On December 19, citizens in the former Soviet republic of Belarus will head to polls to vote in the country’s presidential election, the fourth since 1994. But Belarusians don’t have any real hope of unseating incumbent Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country with an iron fist since winning the presidency 16 years ago. Widely known as “Europe’s Last Dictator,” Lukashenko has cracked down on independent media, routinely broken up public protests, and “disappeared” prominent opposition leaders.
December 03, 2010
A verdict in the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky—formerly Russia’s richest man and the founder of what was once the country’s largest private company, Yukos—is due to be read on December 15. Yet long before November 2, when Judge Viktor Danilkin of the Moscow Khamovnichesky District Court heard the final statements of prosecution and defense, adjourned the trial, and withdrew to his chambers to deliberate, the Moscow rumor mill had churned out a spate of likely sentences. They range from acquittal to the 14 years that the prosecutors asked for.
Ireland Then and Now
November 22, 2010
It was not long ago that Ireland was every American conservative's beau ideal of a European state. Low taxes, low regulation, it was the operfect case study in the success of free market policies. Former AEI fellow, and head of Bush's Domestic Policy Council, Karl Zinsmeister, October 5, 2000: One exception to Europe's tepid economic performance has been the Irish. Ireland -- which I visit regularly, including this summer -- is an economy on fire. As recently as the late 1970s, when I attended college in Dublin, the country was still a kind of developing nation.
September 21, 2010
“Come stai…? Tutto bene…?” This had been U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's opening line since the early days of our professional relationship. I'd heard him use the greeting many times as he rose through the ranks, resorting to it whenever he met an Italian colleague (like me). Still, those words never failed to warm my heart. Walking around his desk Kofi smiled, hand stretched out towards the black leather sofa. It was early September 2006. Both Annan and I were about to leave the United Nations for good. He was leaving after two terms in office.
The Velvet Surrender
September 17, 2010
Václav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, is legendary for his lack of manners. When his country assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union in 2009, Klaus—a stocky and vigorous man with close-cropped white hair and a fastidiously trimmed moustache—got into a scrap with a group of European politicians because he had refused to fly the EU flag above his office in Prague Castle. Nicolas Sarkozy pronounced the snub “hurtful,” yet Klaus was anything but contrite. Instead, he used his first address to the European Parliament to compare the EU to the Soviet Union.
Everything You Wanted to Know About National Infrastructure Banks But Were Afraid to Ask
September 09, 2010
President Obama’s new plan to create an infrastructure bank didn’t get a lot of attention this week. And a lot of the attention it did get was from Republicans dismissing it as wasteful spending. That’s too bad. The Europeans already have a similar institution, called the European Investment Bank (EIB), and it’s been highly successful. Instead of ignoring or dismissing the concept, it might be worth examining how and why that bank works—and whether Obama’s version would work the same way. Founded in 1958, the EIB is owned by the 27 member states of the EU.
What Can France Teach Us About Botched Immigration Policies?
September 03, 2010
On both sides of the Atlantic, it has been an uncomfortable summer for immigrant groups. Here in the United States there have been the quarrels over the "Ground Zero Mosque," “anchor babies,” and Arizona’s new illegal immigrant bill (not to mention yet more calls for the deportation of our “Muslim” president to his “native” Kenya by the surprisingly large proportion of the Republican Party that seems to have taken up permanent residence on Planet Zorg).