Two weeks ago, Britain was a nation lost, permanently ill at ease, with a mutant, hybrid government and an air of meekness and gloom. There wasn’t anything to distract us, to feel particularly ashamed or proud of—everything was just a bit depressing. Nine out of ten news stories were about Kate Middleton’s hats (too Canadian?) or clavicles (too pointy?). In Europe, we would have just looked insensitive if we had complained about our dull, entrenched problems, given the exuberant sleaziness in Italy and chaos in Greece.
This is no time for gloating, neither for Americans nor for Europeans. For both sides are in deep economic trouble, only in different ways. The U.S. runs the worst deficit (as share of GDP) since World War II, and yet Keynesianism to the max won’t budge the unemployment rate—pace Professors Krugman and Stiglitz. What does fall is the dollar and the price of real estate, a double-whammy if ever there was one. The euro, meanwhile, may be rising, at least against the greenback, but the common currency, now ten years old, is about as stable as was Confederate script back in the Civil War.
The ‘Indignants’: Can They Save the European Left?
June 09, 2011
Last week, the main square of Barcelona was the epicenter of a vital insurgency. On the lawns of the Placa Catalunya, thousands of Europeans—most of them young—orated, ate free food, tried on free used clothing, and took advantage of free child care and yoga classes. An excellent jazz quintet played protest songs for activists and onlookers alike.
June 06, 2011
In the aftermath of the arrest of Ratko Mladic, all eyes are now on Serbia’s application for European Union membership (see, for example here, here, and here). After all, the arrest of Mladic, whom Time described as “Europe’s most wanted war-crimes suspect”, was supposed to be the major remaining obstacle to Serbia joining the EU.
February 16, 2011
After the peaceful mass uprising that toppled one of the world’s oldest autocracies, it is now possible to imagine the emergence of a genuine democracy in Egypt—the most important country in the Arab world. The very possibility of it marks an historic turning point for the entire region.
Chalk This One up to Obama's Brilliant Foreign Policy As Well
January 06, 2011
The Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review is Turkey's major English language newspaper. Its web site this morning reported that, according to a survey of 1503 Turks done by MetroPoll, the United States is considered by 43% of the population as the major threat to Turkey. This means that the U.S. heads the list of enemies of the Turkish state. Israel follows but by only slightly more than half of the respondents. As for Turkey's traditional enemies -Iran, Greece, Iraq, Russia, Armenia- very few respondents see them as antagonists at all.
Merry Christmas from Abu Dhabi, $11 Million Dollars Worth
December 22, 2010
We've been reading over the past year that Abu Dhabi and the other emirates are having financial difficulties. But troubles at the bank are always relative. These are not the worries of Spain or Greece and not even the worries of this emirate's poorer cousins, which are far less than that of the now nearly bankrupt European states.
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.
The Charnel Continent
December 02, 2010
Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler And Stalin By Timothy Snyder (Basic Books, 524 pp., $29.95) ‘Now we will live!’... the hungry little boy liked to say ... but the food that he saw was only in his imagination.” So the little boy died, together with three million fellow Ukrainians, in the mass starvation that Stalin created in 1933. “I will meet her ... under the ground,” a young Soviet man said about his wife. Both were shot in the course of Stalin’s Great Terror of 1937 and 1938, which claimed 700,000 victims.
I Like Turkey, but It's Not Going to Join the European Union
August 30, 2010
For a brief season, Henry Hopkinson was a Tory politician of the second rank, who might have risen higher if he hadn’t famously misspoken in 1954. As a junior minister at the Colonial Office, he said in the House of Commons that Cyprus would never be granted independence. This dogged him for the rest of his life.