Over on the Global Guerillas blog, John Robb suggests that the countries currently feeling threatened by Russia should change their strategies:
This shift towards economics and networks also means that small states on Russia's periphery now have a defensive trump card. They can inflict damage on Russia that far exceeds the potential economic benefits Russia receives. Any one of these nations could easily inflict tens of billions in damage to Russia's energy industry (which pays for much of the Russian government). IF these nations came together in a defensive alliance, its possible that Russian energy production could be halved and inflict damage that's counted in the trillions.
Left to the side of this is that Russia is often a big trading partner of these countries, and that any damage done to the Russian economy - and gas pipes in particular - would damage these countries as much, or more. In some ways, this is a MAD strategy.
Moreover, Russia's current actions in Georgia don't appear to have their basis in economic interests, after all, they did not take the pipelines out. And the Russian stock market did not exactly benefit. This is not to say that Russia can't be deterred by further economic disincentives. But plans to damage critical infrastructure could be learned of by the Russians. They have spies. And it could lead to a broad array of Russian counteraction, the least of which would be the expulsion of many nationals, something Russia had already done with the Georgians.
The German Marshall Fund released its 2008 transatlantic trends poll yesterday, which shows a thaw in transatlantic relations. From the press release:
“Based on common values and shared interests, the survey shows that Americans and Europeans want closer relations,” said Craig Kennedy, president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “Whether it’s the result of world events, a new U.S. administration on the horizon, or insecurity on several fronts, a new American president will have the opportunity to not only improve the United States’ standing in the world, but perhaps also to ask more of European leaders.”
However, despite perceived common values and a general interest in the same topics, Europeans generally feel that Europe should act more independently, although the number of Europeans who want closer relations with the US is increasing. Interestingly, though, few Europeans think that Europe should take a 'go it alone' course, with the majority favouring partnership with the US in addressing threats. This could be taken to mean that Europeans want Europe to be more assertive in such a partnership, or simply that the general population hasn't thought this through and exhibits a well-known but surprisingly extreme differential response to differently phrased questions (31% want closer relations, 67% want to address international threats in partnership).
Continue reading "Support for the Transatlantic Partnership on the Rise"
The Financial Times reports:
Germany's troubled Social Democratic party on Sunday fired the starting shot in a year-long election race by ousting Kurt Beck, its hapless left-leaning chairman, and nominating the centrist Frank-Walter Steinmeier to run for chancellor in September 2009.
Yes, the party leaders decided. Just like that. No primiaries and caucasus. No TV debates and no confetti. How boring. What a difference to the US system!
Dr. Jackson Janes and Dr. Tim Stuchtey with the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) in Washington DC examine the differences between the German and American party systems and how the role of the party in each country shapes the way elections unfold. You can read their Op-Ed in English and in German.
Endnote: AICGS and the University of Birmingham organized a conference on "German Vulnerabilities in a Globalizing World" in March 2008 and now present the essays: German Vulnerabilities of its Energy Security by Frank Umbach, German Welfare Capitalism: Crisis and Transition by Roland Czada, Germany's Foreign Policy under Angela Merkel by Christian Hacke, and The Left Party and Germany's Coalition Conundrums by Dan Hough. Does anybody want to write a guest blog post summarizing and commenting on any of these essays?
Mike Huckabee, who finished second in the Republican presidential primaries, said at the Republican National Convention:
John McCain offers specific ideas to respond to a need for change. But let me say there are some things we don't want to change: freedom, security, and the opportunity to prosper. Barack Obama's excellent adventure to Europe... (LAUGHTER) ... took his campaign for change to hundreds of thousands of people who don't even vote or pay taxes here. But let me hasten to say that it's not what he took there that concerns me. It's what he brought back: European ideas that give the government the chance to grab even more of our liberty and destroy our hard-earned livelihood.
He's right. Americans should never travel to Europe. The danger of brainwashing is too severe. Europeans are so sinister: They attract American teenager with their small freedoms. And once these Americans return to the US, they reduce freedom and liberty in the heartland. They will join Obama's communist party and take away your guns, domesticate you by providing free health care and make you addicted to Dutch weed, Belgian chocolate, German sauerkraut, Italian cappuccino, and French surrender-monkey cheese so that Europe gets richer and America poorer.
Two years ago, I wrote the post "Using the United States to Scare Germans." Perhaps I should write one about "Using Europe to Scare Americans."
Related posts in the Atlantic Review:
Huckabee: United States Does Integration Better than Europe
The Euro-American Religious Divide
Europe-bashing has Diminishing Returns
Europhobic Wash Times Editorial about the "EUSSR"