Tag Archives: European politics

Quiet start from EU High Rep Ashton? Good! Go for the long game

Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative, is facing a mountain of a job and a rockfall of criticism across Europe after her first 100 days. But most of the negativity is a matter of Brussels gossip, bruised little egos and out-dated thinking about international politics. Ashton has got things more right than her critics. Rightly, she is focused on the long game rather than short-term headlines (which some journalists find impossible to forgive and others equally impossible to understand).    Continue reading

As Obama opens doors to the Muslim world, will Europe close them?

President Obama’s 4th June speech in Cairo about relations with the Islamic world rightly got huge plaudits, including here. It doesn’t solve all problems but doors are open for new dialogue, policies and approaches. But as Washington wins credit and credibility through expressions of openness and respect and heads towards better links with the Muslim world, is Europe moving the opposite way? Continue reading

Counting the most peaceful countries – and the least

How do you recognise how peaceful countries are and systematically compare them to each other? And how do you work out what makes countries peaceful? And if we all knew the answers to these questions would we be more able to make the world more peaceful? Figuring the answer to the third question is yes, the Global Peace Index tries to answer the first two. It is now published for the third successive year. Continue reading

Britain’s international standing

 Ever since the end of the British empire, some of us British have been pondering and picking over the question of what is our place in the world. For the British, it is so much part of the condition of being British that for the most part we don’t realise we’re doing it and, when it’s pointed out to us, we assume that it’s simply part and parcel of having a national identity. But it’s not. And our obsession with it says something about us. As our Parliament merrily implodes before our eyes, the question is coming back again but in the end the answer may be surprisingly banal. Continue reading

G-20 tension doesn’t mount

Were it not for the death of a demonstrator and injuries to police and public, it would be possible to treat the whole G-20 summit with the humour that its theatricality demands. For putting events on the streets of London to one side, this is indeed an occasion for powerful actors to strut their stuff. Continue reading

G-20 summit: Brown revives Blair’s old Euro-Atlantic dream

So Gordon Brown went to Strasbourg and told the European Parliament that the EU is uniquely placed to provide world leadership in the economic crisis. Is this the Gordon Brown who deliberately avoided EU ministerial meetings and designed impassable tests the UK economy had to pass if he was to let it join the Euro? Why the change? Continue reading

Some perfect storm signs

One of the possible ingredients for mixing up a perfect storm of conflict and crisis is the likelihood of European governments focusing on their own internal affairs under the impact of the economic crisis, especially if the crisis leads to social instability and violent protest. This would necessarily divert political attention and energy away from responding to the initial signs of crisis and conflict escalation on other continents. Continue reading

How a conflict could lead to a perfect storm

The world is in parlous condition. A violent conflict could quickly escalate out of control into a perfect storm, in which a local conflict becomes a major regional explosion. The risk is of low probability but high impact. The likelihood can be made even lower if the international system and its major actors remain watchful and ready to respond quickly. For that readiness to be real, we need to think the risk through. Continue reading