Despite the emergence of a potential deal between Greece and its creditors, the nation is still in precarious shape: another large payment is due to the European Central Bank on July 20. Surveys reveal that experts across fields have revised their opinions of whether Greece will stay in the Euro: Bloomberg polls of financial experts, a Reuters poll of economists, and a poll of international relations (IR) scholars by the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) project at the College of William and Mary all show declining optimism over the country’s chances to stay in the single currency.
Johanna Nyman’s first political memory is joining her grandmother in the voting booth during the Finnish referendum in 1995. She was five years old and, as she recalls, quite nationalistic.
Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister, once commented, “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” From the Tsarist to the Communist and post-Communist eras, understanding the riddle of Russian social, economic, and political history is a multifaceted, complex endeavor. Adding a new perspective to the discussion on the history of Russian statecraft, Mark Lawrence Schrad, in his book Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State, addresses a prominent stereotype associated with Russian society: vodka induced inebriety. “Does that mean vodka is everything in Russia?” Schrad writes. “Certainly not…but it is a lot of things.” Far from offering a monocausal explanation of Russian history, Schrad presents “vodka politics as an alternative lens through which we can view and understand Russia’s complex political development.”
It may be difficult for an American to admit, but the confrontation between Russia and the West will not be solved by the power and influence of the U.S. The contestant on behalf of the West is Europe, led by a Germany that steadily sees itself as the guardian of European values. Much depends on Berlin in how this confrontation plays out, because it has become the unifying factor in Europe’s stand against Russian actions in Ukraine. Europe’s success is far from certain, because Russia has a clear vision for how the use of force can achieve its desired political ends. Russia has the means and the political will to execute it. Germany, however, has not presented a vision for how Europe’s use of economic and diplomatic power will result in a resolution to the conflict in Ukraine or in the broader confrontation with Russia. Almost a year into the crisis, this is a problem.
The European Parliament elections in May brought worldwide attention to trends that had been taking root across the continent since the financial collapse: the rise of Euroscepticism, extremism on both the right and left, and an ongoing frustration with how the crisis has been managed. For Europe’s youth, however, the institutions of the European Union offer jobs, freedom of movement, and possibilities, even in the face of difficulties and bureaucracy.
Europe and Asia have never had the easiest of partnerships, but recently the European Union has been trying to enhance its ties with the continent via its own “Pivot to Asia.” Though distractions have somewhat diminished Europe’s high-profile engagement with Asia, the EU is making progress with its less visible diplomatic endeavors. They are not making headlines, but these efforts can only be beneficial for EU-Asia relations.
Although the Arctic remains an unfamiliar area—almost a terra incognita to many southerners—it is on track to come to the forefront of world politics. In this context, it seems that, while everyone in Brussels is perfused with news streams from the Middle East, Africa, or Ukraine, the EU is starting to lag behind other non-Arctic competitors such as China, South Korea, or Japan, in the race for Arctic influence; the one geographical area that may truly rule Northern hemisphere geostrategic dynamics in the 21st century.
Since its first elections in 1979, the European Parliament has seen a gradual decrease in voter turnout. The results of polls from May 22 to 25 showed the second lowest civic engagement of its history, only 43.09 percent. This is a serious issue, taking into account the competencies of the Parliament such as electing the President of the EU Commission, approving laws, budgets, and treaties. In addition, many right wing parties were elected for the Parliament. For instance, in France, the National Front (FN), led by Marine Le Pen, received 24.8 percent of the vote to become the country’s largest party in the European Parliament (24 out of 75 French members of the European Parliament). Her party is known for its willingness to reduce the powers of EU. Thus, the labeled “Europtimists” will have to work together to balance the new “Eurosceptics”.
In Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Strategic Vision, he describes the nature of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy: “a backward-looking combination of assertive nationalism, thinly veiled hostility toward America for its victory in the Cold War, and nostalgia for both modernity and superpower status.”
Spain, in the first decade of the new millennium, was the land of opportunity for many Latin Americans. At one point during the early 2000s, Spain was considered one of the top ten largest economies of the world, thus it became a logical and hopeful alternative for Spanish-speaking workers throughout the Americas. Droves of people immigrated from Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. For many, the dream did become a reality, and Spain was basking in its novel place of economic stability and might. But the construction boom in Spain popped in 2008 to 2009, bringing Spanish banks to their knees and spurring a deep recession that is to this date still dragging the Spanish economy to subzero growth.
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