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Security

The OSCE and Conventional Arms Control in Europe: Towards a Double Relaunch

OSCE Ministerial Council meeting opening in Vilnius, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much has been written about the OSCE’s crisis. Much of it is true. Still, the future of this organization may be less grim than many predict. Current developments in Europe suggest that the role and relevance of the OSCE may actually grow in the years ahead.

For one thing, following the ambivalent outcome of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a conspicuous intervention fatigue among European publics. The ‘crisis’ of military crisis management is bound to exacerbate as the European debt crisis translates into shrinking defense budgets. There will likely be a shift towards more subtle, civilian, long-term approaches to conflict resolution and peacebuilding – the type of measures the OSCE has focused on.

Looking at the EU and NATO, there is also growing enlargement fatigue. This points to obvious limits to how far stability in Europe can be accomplished by expanding the Euro-Atlantic security community. By implication, the pan-European OSCE, with twice as many member states as the EU and NATO, is bound to gain traction again.

Categories
International Relations Security Foreign policy Conflict Global Voices

Russia’s War Games Make Georgia Nervous

Russian Military Exercise 2010. Photo by George Malets. Copyright Demotix (08/26/2010)
Russian Military Exercise 2010. Photo by George Malets. Copyright Demotix (08/26/2010)

In June and July Russia held several military exercises with its regional partners. There are more to come in August and September. Of course, none of the planned events are quite as extensive as the one that an Iranian news agency falsely reported on June 19th, in a bit of wishful thinking. There won’t be joint war games involving 90,000 troops held in Syria by Russia, China and Iran.

Even then, the exercises are numerous and heavily concentrated in Central Asia. In June there was Peaceful Mission-2012 [ru], held by five Shanghai Group countries (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan) in Tajikistan. There were 2000 troops involved in the antiterrorist themed war game, of which Russia contributed 350.

Categories
Foreign policy Global Voices

‘Small’ Georgia Takes on ‘Big’ Russia with New Media

Image uploaded by Flicker user Summersso CC BY-ND 2.0

Image uploaded by Flicker user Summersso CC BY-ND 2.0

Georgia is your typical small state: it has a tiny population, a developing economy, and territorial disputes with its largest neighbor Russia. In August 2008 when, Russia briefly invaded the tiny country, no one was particularly surprised that Georgia was unable to counter this show of force.

A small state by definition cannot project sufficient military or economic power to meet a security threat. Since such “hard power” options are unavailable to them, small states are often left with “soft power” as an only means of influencing their adversaries. Soft power comes in many flavors, including public diplomacy and propaganda, traditionally costly endeavors. Fortunately for Georgia, soft power is easier to exercise in an age of global communications.

Categories
Culture

Eurovision Song Contest: Kitsch and Politics

Serbia Eurovision Song Contest 2011, courtesy of flickr
Serious business. Photo: mjohn2101/flickr

It is a tacky show, and one well worth watching. This year’s Eurovision Song Contest features another round of spacy outfits and cheesy tunes with charming titles, ranging from Norway’s ‘Haba Haba’ to Armenia’s ‘Boom Boom’ and Finland’s ‘Da Da Dam’.

The first Eurovision contest took place in Switzerland in 1956, and only seven countries participated. Britain, Austria and Denmark were not present because they failed to apply on time. While most of Western Europe still doesn’t take the contest too seriously, it’s a different story in the East.

Looking at winning countries over the last two decades, there has been a marked move eastwards, as more countries from the former Communist block have joined the contest and award points to each other. The causes of bloc voting are debatable; some say it’s political, others argue that it is cultural.

Categories
Culture

Ready for My Close Up Mr Saakashvili

If you squint really, really hard...
If you squint really, really hard...

In what should be a record for the quickest turnaround from real life to “reel” life, the events of the 2008 South Ossetia War may be on their way to a screen near you.

According to Reuters, Finnish director Renny Harlin is currently shooting the as-of-yet untitled project in Georgia. Andy Garcia will play Tie-Taster-in-Chief Mikhail Saakashvili.

Who’s backing the project? The article says Papuna Davitaia, “a parliament deputy from Saakashvili’s ruling United National Movement” is a producer (meaning, he’s one of the money men). IMDB says “Mizra Davitaia.” I’m going to assume Papuna and Mizra are one in the same.

Now remember, the EU found that both sides bore equal responsibility (or at least shifting), for the conflict. But with Georgia money shoring up the production, should we guess who’ll wear the white hat?

But there are more important questions to ask, like who will play Putin.

I vote for Bruce Willis.

Medvedev?

Tom Cruise. They’re about the same height.

Want to know more about South Ossetia without the lights, cameras and action? Here you go.

Images: Garcia by Mireille Ampilhac/flickr, Saakashvili by Vladimer Shioshvili/flickr