Soldiers at the Wailing Wall, courtesy of Mor /flickr
LONDON – America’s gradual withdrawal from the Middle East puts increasing pressure on Europe to help foster peace in the region. With complex and heated wars threatening to bring about the collapse of states like Syria and Iraq, and the long-simmering conflict between Israel and Palestine seemingly as far from resolution as ever, it is almost easier to ask what Europe should avoid than what it should do.
The starting point must be a simple, fundamental principle: Europe should not take sides. Allowing preconceptions or emotional reactions to overshadow facts could make the situation much more dangerous. » More
A man in Jakarta shows his inked finger at a polling station to proof he voted in the 2009 presidential election, the second since the fall of the Suharto regime. Photo: Isabel Esterman.
Once widely considered a desirable endpoint for all nations, democracy’s seeming benefits are now openly questioned by many. The poor results of democratization in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with the rise of economically successful non-democracies such as China, have caused democracy promotion to lose some of its luster. So, given these recent trends, what are democracy’s prospects for the future?
This question was the primary focus of a recent panel discussion hosted by the Forum Aussenpolitik (foraus) and NCCR Democracy at the University of Zurich. Entitled “Democracy Promotion: Lessons from Different Regions of the World,” the discussion featured three experts who analyzed the ways and means of democracy promotion; its feasibility; how and whether it should be encouraged, and its successes and failures.
Trafalgar Class submarine SSN (Ship Submersible Nuclear) HMS Triumph. Photo: Ben Sutton/UK Ministry of Defence
Amidst the financial crisis, European nations have attempted to consolidate resources to tailor their defense capabilities to more efficiently meet the emerging security challenges. Cooperation has become the buzz-word in Europe, with the EU’s Pooling and Sharing Initiative and NATO’s Smart Defense both emphasizing the notion of “doing more with less.” In his opening remarks at the NATO Defense Minister’s meetings in October, Secretary General Rasmussen outlined more multinational teamwork as the solution to spending scarce resources more effectively. On NATO’s Industry Day, he called for industry to propose multinational solutions, instead of individual ones. Yet despite the high level guidance, effective cooperation on long-term capabilities remains elusive.
Albeit long-term capabilities pose significant challenges, cooperation on them is not implausible. The British ballistic nuclear submarine fleet is in need of replacement, and France’s fleet will soon follow course. In today’s resource-scarce and cooperation-prone environment, their futures could converge into a single co-produced platform. This “Eurosubmarine” might initially be designed to fully replace each nations fleet in an economical way, but if the political climate changes, it could emerge as a shared platform, housing two sovereign sets of nuclear missiles, or even as a joint European nuclear deterrent. » More