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Western Foreign Policy Dissent and NATO's Role in the World

Jeremy Corbyn recently won his re-election to lead Britain’s opposition party, the Labour Party. An ardent socialist and sceptic of interventionism, he has advocated leaving NATO before being leader. Now as leader, he has consistently criticised it for destabilising eastern Europe due to its Eastward expansion in the 1990s, antagonising Russia and being involved outside NATO’s traditional sphere, for example in Afghanistan. Corbyn has publically argued at Labour Party, Stop the War Coalition and Momentum rallies (extra-parliamentary organisations closely allied to Corbyn) that NATO should be ‘closed down’ to bring a halt to potential war in Eastern Europe. With his position secure in Parliament, his argument, and the movements that agree will not disappear.    

Corbyn’s foreign policy argument is that NATO is a hegemonic instrument for the West, particularly America and oil companies. Recent history has shown that the United States has declared war on more states, like Iraq and Panama and non-state actors like Al-Qaeda or Somali rebels than Russia has. NATO has been used in interventions, like Libya, that in Corbyn’s eyes bring together NATO’s imperialism and oil security. Further evidence cited by Corbyn is that NATO is by far the strongest military alliance in the world– with a combined budget of $900 billion, with the United States contributing two thirds; it dwarfs Russia’s $50 billion. This hard military power can only ever be malign, military force that size cannot be benign according to Corbyn.    

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Colombians Reject Peace Deal. Now Back to War?

Colombians have just rejected a historic peace agreement with the FARC. 65.000 votes out of 13 million ballots made the difference. A geographic breakdown of the results will show that acceptance was highest in those areas that have suffered the most from the war, while refusal was mostly an urban middle class phenomenon.

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Remember the Wall, Forget "Bridge of Spies"

BRIDGE OF SPIES simply gets 1950s East Berlin wrong. It was not as desolate and ruined as depicted here. Unter den Linden in the historic city center had been quickly reconstructed, opera houses and state university included. A shiny new city center around Alexanderplatz and the new Stalinallee had also been created by 1957/1961 (the time BRIDGE is set in). For many, East Berlin was indeed a fragile, but hopeful place.

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The Age of Fear Continues

David Rothkopf is worried that the "Age of Fear" is not over yet. The Bush and Obama presidencies both made the international war on terror a central tenet of US foreign policy. It became the central national issue. Rothkopf had hoped that the 2016 election would mark a return to a broader foreign policy agenda, one that focused more on the larger trends going on in the world (from rising powers to the challenges of global governance).

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Clinton gives Atlanticist speech at the Pacific

Hillary Clinton is much more supportive of NATO and Europe than all the other presidential candidates. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton gave an impressive speech describing NATO as "one of the best investments America has ever made". She stressed the need for US leadership and collaboration with allies in the struggle against ISIS. Bernie Sanders has yet to give a major speech on NATO. Donald Trump's opinion on NATO reflects widely held sentiments in the US.

Hillary Clinton's speech was impressive because she spoke at Stanford on the Pacific coast, and not on the Atlantic. She spoke to students, not the old Cold War generation with a stronger attachment to Europe. Often accused of pandering to the desires and needs of her given audience, Hillary Clinton here did not talk about opportunities in Asia-Pacific region, but about the threats in Europe and the Middle East and the need for strong US engagement in these regions. Moreover, the speech comes shortly after recent statements by Donald Trump and President Obama who criticized Europeans as mainly free-riders on defense in interviews with Washington Post and The Atlantic respectively.

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If the US Presidential Candidates Would Run for Office in Europe

Wouldn't it be best for the United States if Hillary Clinton would be the Republican nominee and Bernie Sanders the Democratic nominee?
Certainly the US would then be more like Germany and other European countries for better or worse...

Bernie Sanders would make a great Social Democrat in Europe, one with a business friendly attitude towards small and medium seized entreprises.  Hillary Clinton could be center-left Conservative, more business-friendly than Angela Merkel.

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Does US Punditry about Europe Have a Future?

I think it's great that Political Science professors testify in Congress from time to time. This happens far to rarely in Germany! The quality of Stephen Walt's testimony on the future of the EU, however, is underwhelming.

He describes at length five well-known EU problems/facts and then presents three scenarios. His most likely scenario for the EU is to muddle through as in the past. How brilliant or surprising is that? He also warns of the scenario that the EU might gradually unravel. He describes an optimistic scenario for a reinvigorated EU, that he considers unlikely.

Foreign Policy magazine apparently feels the need to maximize profit with clickbait, so they use the headline "Does Europe Have a Future?" for Walt's article based on his testimony. Professor Walt seems to distance himself from this sensationalism by tweeting a clarification: "To be clear: Europe does have a future. But as I told Congress, just not a very bright one."

Five quick comments and questions:

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Fulbrighters Reflect on their Exchange Year

In this video produced by the German Fulbright Alumni Association in 2014 former German and US grantees talk about the relevance of their exchange experience and their reasons to get involved with the Alumni Association. 

The video captures the importance of the Fulbright program quite well. Authentic, personal, no exaggerations. After watching it, you will probably want to get in touch with the German Fulbright Alumni Association or learn how to get a Fulbright grant: For Germans going to US, for Americans going to Germany, for all other nationalities and destinations

The last link takes you to the State Department and promotes the Fulbright Program as "the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. (...) Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide." Most programs with rich countries are financed jointly. The German-American Fulbright program has received 2.6 Mio EUR from the State Department and US Host Institutions, but the much larger amount of 5.6 Mio EUR from Germany's federal and regional governments in 2013/2014. 332 Americans and 408 Germans received grants in that academic year.

The American Fulbright Alumni Association has just released this promotional video:

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