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Georgia’s Bid: Western Values for Western Security

Georgia’s president published a plea for continued western support in the Washington Post titled, “Answering Russian Aggression”.   In it, President Mikheil Saakashvili promises an increase in Georgian transparency in exchange for continued support from and integration into the West.

Perhaps most significant to the West will be Saakashvili’s promise to increase transparency and openness of the Georgian state itself, to include reforms aimed at strengthening the opposition and liberalizing the media. Of course all good things come with a price, and for Georgia to continue its Western embrace, Saakashvili is asking for some help in return:
But the West also must respond to Russia with conviction. We cannot allow Russia's annexation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to stand. Nor can Moscow be permitted to continuously flout the cease-fire to which it has repeatedly agreed.

My government welcomed the European Union's decision to accelerate Georgia's integration into European institutions. Last week, we were heartened by the first official visit to Georgia by the North Atlantic Council, and we hope that NATO will move forward with our membership application.

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Financial Crisis: "Trans-Atlantic Sniping"

President Bush cited an influx of foreign money into the United States as one of the root causes of the tight credit market and urged European and Asian policy makers to follow the US plan of large-scale bailouts of the financial system. This call was generally rebuffed. German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück described the financial market crisis as "above all an American problem."

Steinbrück predicted that "the US will lose its status as the superpower of the world financial system." Instead European banks and sovereign wealth funds will have an increased role in a multipolar financial world.

The New York Times concludes from these transatlantic disagreements that "Trans-Atlantic sniping over the global financial crisis intensified." Wow, that's harsh words. Real snipers kill. If someone just disagrees with you, he does not kill you. You just gets a slight dent in your bloated ego. Apparently some people can't stand having folks on the other side of the Atlantic disagree with them. Pride goes before a fall (Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall) and sometimes even after the fall. Well, perhaps the NYT is just trying to sell more copies and more ads...

The article is discussed on my other site "Atlantic Community." We also present several expert opinions on the bailout plan and reform of the financial system and ask our members and all of you: How to Respond to the Financial Crisis?

Authoritarianisms

In immediate response to the Russia-Georgia war, it has been popular to say that we are witnessing the 'return' of history. This was the title of a post by Stanley Crossick, crossposted on the Atlantic Review. There have been many who have heralded the return of history, some even more or less directly after Francis Fukuyama wrote his seminal essay 'The End of History?'. Most recently, Bob Kagan has written a book called 'The Return of History and the End of Dreams', which stems from the essay 'End of Dreams, Return of History'.

Francis Fukuyama answers some of the critics in his Washington Post column 'They Can Only Go So Far'. One interesting point Fukuyama makes is that we can't paint all forms of autocracy with one brush, that there are important differences between various forms of authoritarianism. He also argues that none of the current forms have an idea:

The facile historical analogies to earlier eras have two problems: They presuppose a cartoonish view of international politics during these previous periods, and they imply that "authoritarian government" constitutes a clearly defined type of regime -- one that's aggressive abroad, abusive at home and inevitably dangerous to world order. In fact, today's authoritarian governments have little in common, save their lack of democratic institutions.

The thing to say about 'The End of History' is that people generally misunderstand it. Fukuyama himself says so, and Blake Hounshell nods in agreement on Foreig Policy's Passport blog. It's unclear to me whether the idea is misunderstood by the many who have debated it in writing. Bob Kagan certainly gets the point.

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Financial Turmoil: Merkel Blames the United States and Britain

DW World:

Chancellor Angela Merkel has revived Germany's campaign of a year ago for global regulation of financial markets to prevent another crash like the past week's. [She] criticized the US and British governments for obstructing Germany's efforts in the first half of 2007 to bring greater transparency to the markets.

Yep, it is "We told you so"-time again.

• Germany's state-owned KfW lender is called the 'dumbest' bank for transferring 300 million euro to Lehman Brothers on the same day it declared insolvency, reports the IHT.

• SuperFrenchie concludes from the US response to the market turmoil: The United Socialist States of America (USSA)

Social Welfare in Europe and North America

This is a guest post from Andrew Zvirzdin.  Originally from upstate New York, Andrew is currently pursuing a Master's degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy. He previously studied at Université Libre Bruxelles, University of Rome Tor Vergata, and Brigham Young University. He has worked on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and as an Assistant Editor for Scandinavian Studies. Andrew specializes in political economy, international finance, and EU–US relations.

Andrew ZvirzdinFreedom Fries are out of style, but Europe is still taking a beating this campaign season. Republicans are gleefully using Barack Obama's recent visit to Europe as evidence that he wishes to import European-style welfare states back to the United States “to grab even more of our liberty and destroy our hard-earned livelihood,” as Mike Huckabee recently put it.

Just how evil are European welfare states compared to the United States?

OECD data indicates that the differences may not be as large as we may think. Consider two key indicators:
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The Best Way to Energize the Republican Base

If Americans will not elect Obama, then the "the world's verdict will be harsh," opines Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian: "An America that disdains Obama for his global support risks turning current anti-Bush feeling into something far worse.

EURSOC argues that this statement could be used by the McCain campaign and promises to offer "offer a prize to any reader who can think of a better way to energise the Republican base."

Well, the website Europeans for Obama might motivate some conservatives to go to the polls in November.

"Lipstick on a Pig": The 'Silly Season' Commences

Soeren Kern quotes some of the European commentary on Sarah Palin and concludes in the American Thinker that it ranges "from ridicule, to ridicule, to more ridicule, to reluctant acknowledgment that Barack Obama may have met his match." (HT: Marie Claude)


Donald Stadler comments on recent developments in the US presidential campaign in this guest blog post for Atlantic Review:

Every four years the people of the US descend into a period of raving lunacy rivaled only by such spectacles as Carneval in Venice, Oktoberfest in München and any presidential visit by GW Bush to Germany. Usually this commences about the beginning of October and continues until the presidential election early in November: in 2000 the period was prolonged and the lunacy deepened due to post-election events I shall not further describe. This year it would seem the season has come early. I was first alerted to this by a comment written on a blog entry on Andrew Hammel's excellent (and usually light-hearted) German Joys blog.

Continue reading ""Lipstick on a Pig": The 'Silly Season' Commences"