EU Parliament, EU Vote

Last week there were a bunch of posts at various blogs about the nature of EU Parliament elections. The EU Parliament, everyone remarked, has gained power within the EU institutional structure, and MEPs have even begun behaving increasingly as transnational voting blocs, but voters have continued treating the election campaigns as referenda on national politics, if they cared at all. In other words, European voters are apathetic about Europe at a time when the European project is maturing but could use a gentle nudge. Truth be told, I found this a compelling narrative last week, myself. But there are a […]

French Name NATO Command Post

The chief of staff of the French Air Force, Gen. Stéfane Abrial, has just been nominated to the commanding officer position for NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (via Jean-Dominique Merchet). The command is one of two that France secured in return for fully reintegrating NATO’s military command. Three quick thoughts. First, according to his official bio (.pdf), Abrial spent a year as a student officer back in ’73 at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and another at the Air War College at Maxwell AFB in ’91. He’s also spent some time at NATO headquarters in Brussels. So part of this assignment […]

Much remains uncertain regarding the nuclear arms control treaty currently being negotiated by the Russian and American governments. But the parties have evidently decided not to try to address “non-strategic” nuclear weapons in the agreement. When asked about the issue at an April 6 conference on nonproliferation, two U.S. and Russian officials intimately involved in the negotiations said they favored excluding the issue from the immediate START follow-on talks. The latest Russian-American negotiating session that occurred last week in Geneva appears to confirm this decision. Rose Gottemoeller, the new assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance and the chief […]

On June 3, 2009, leaders of Cyprus’ two communities, the Greek Cypriot south and the Turkish Cypriot north, met for the 31st time in less than nine months in the latest attempt to unlock one of the most intractable of the world’s “frozen conflicts.” Days before, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mehmet Ali Talat had boldly predicted that the latest round of U.N.-sponsored negotiations could result in a reunification agreement by the end of 2009. But history has taught veteran Cyprus-watchers to regard any expressions of optimism with at least a degree of skepticism. Indeed, so many false […]

Brown Takes Welcome Limelight at D-Day Commemoration

Had Queen Elizabeth II been present at Saturday’s 65th anniversary D-Day ceremonies, she would, as the United Kingdom’s head of state, have delivered the British address. But the queen had not been invited to the ceremony. Instead, Prime Minister Gordon Brown shared the honors — and the limelight — with President Barack Obama and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy. The original slight or oversight in not issuing an invitation to the queen in the first place was French. Sarkozy later argued that the Normandy invasion was primarily a U.S. and French operation — a clear distortion of the historical facts. In […]

As the World Health Organization agonizes over whether or not to declare the H1N1 flu virus an official pandemic, I can’t help but think of the American national security establishment’s continuing struggle over the definition of threat in a post-9/11 world. In both instances, we see institutions with worldwide responsibilities coming to grips with an increasingly interconnected global landscape. And although that global landscape, according to all the available data, suffers less catastrophe, it nonetheless appears to present far greater potential for such catastrophes to unfold with seemingly uncontrollable consequences. By “less catastrophe,” I mean that in a world of […]

NATO in the Post-Afghanistan Era

I’m not the only one who sees a short expiration date on our NATO allies’ commitment to Afghanistan now that the war has been “Americanized.” Here’s Jari Lindholm: I’m no apologist for ISAF ineptitude, but let’s be honest: for eightyears, Europeans have been covering America’s ass in the north. Whathappens when they pull out is anybody’s guess. Make no mistake, though:now that they’ve been handed an excuse on a silver platter, they will leave. Lindholm leaves some room open for the French to stay, and I’d go as far as to say it’s unlikely they’ll leave. There hasn’t really been […]

GRAZ, Austria — Austria’s far right, riding high on its recent national election success, is conducting one of the most hate-filled election campaigns in recent memory in a bid for EU Parliament seats. Jews, Muslims and non-European foreigners have all been maligned, while far-right supporters have expressed their loyalty to the cause by using the outlawed Nazi salute. The Freedom Party (FP) and the splinter Alliance for the Future (AF) party unexpectedly won almost a third of votes in last September’s national election. Two weeks later, the outpouring of sympathy that followed the death of Jorg Haider — the leader […]

Turkey’s Eastward Shift

This James Joyner post has a couple links that offer some good context for Turkey’s shift in recent years from sometimes problematic Western ally to more assertive regional player: his own interview with Swedish diplomat Henrik Liljegren (scroll down to question 5) and this Der Spiegel article. Both highlight the ways in which Turkey has essentially concluded that it has more to offer the West in general and the EU in particular than the reverse. This tracks with what Gareth Jenkins wrote in his Strategic Posture Review for the March/April issue (sub. req.) of WPR’s digital journal. (The SPRs are […]

Berlusconi Denies ‘Latin Lover’ Reports

In Italy, it’s open season on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s alleged weakness for young models and starlets now that his wife has publicly said, “Basta!” and is seeking a divorce. According to one widely reported story, the prime minister was guest of honor at the18th birthday party of an aspiring model who has said she calls him “papi,” the equivalent of “daddy.” Last week, Berlusconi was also trying to block publication of photographs taken at a party at his home in Sardinia for the Czech prime minister at which several young girls were also present. Berlusconi’s wife, Veronica Lario, revealed […]

Russia, Iran and Transparency

Most of the commentary I’ve seen about the Russian role in the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program has to do with Russia’s refusal to support strengthened UNSC sanctions to punish Tehran for not being more transparent with the IAEA. But an alternative formulation of that reflection would be Russia’s refusal to pressure Tehran to be more transparent with the IAEA to begin with, thereby avoiding the need for sanctions altogether. So when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says, after meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, “We have confirmed the need to assure theinternational community of the exclusively peaceful nature […]

Sarkozy’s Pre-Obama Iran Outreach

I’ve mentioned before that of the European partners, France might be the most resistant to the Obama administration’s policy of engagement with Iran. The concern, as far as I can tell, is in part ideological, because I really do believe that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is sincerely convinced of the need to keep Iran from even approaching a nuclear weapons capacity. But more than anything, the concern is one of harmonization. The French have been spearheading the European effort to hold the line since the December 2007 NIE, and if the U.S. entrance into the negotiations were somehow parallel to […]

Economic Crisis a Human Rights Crisis

In its annual State of the World’s Human Rights report released May 28, Amnesty International emphasized the relationship between economic injustice and human rights, and argued that the decreasing focus on rights, both in principle and in practice, highlights the need for a new approach to the issues. In order to truly — and finally — end the cycle of global rights abuse, AI argues, the world must adopt an approach based on multilateral, multi-stakeholder collaborations that end impunity and the enrichment of the few at the expense of many. AI’s Secretary General Irene Khan sought to rouse action in […]

The EU-speranto Parliament

Although televised political advertisements are not allowed in France, each city hall is required to provide space — usually consisting of self-supporting, interlocking metal panels — for parties to present their campaign posters. And last week, the metal panels went up all around town with the latest offerings for the EU Parliament elections coming up on June 7. Outside of the poster for the Parti Anti Sioniste — which looks like a concert poster for an X Clan-Matisyahu-Black Flag triple bill — I hadn’t really paid much attention to them. But passing by the row of them on the way […]

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