US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

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"How European views on China are hardening in the wake of Covid-19"

In Europa habe sich die Meinung zu China im Verlauf der Coronakrise spürbar verschlechtert, schreibt Ido Vock mit Verweis auf eine Studie des European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). "In France, 62 per cent say their opinion worsened this year, while just 6 per cent say it improved. In Germany, 48 per cent say their view has deteriorated – the same percentage as in Europe as a whole. Janka Oertel, director of the Asia programme at the ECFR, says that the defining characteristic of this shift has been its speed. 'In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, China was Europe’s saviour. It was an excellent partner for our economic relationship and an important friend for Europe. In many capitals, this sentiment is still there – but now Europeans publics are waking up to the fact that China is becoming a very different actor.'"

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"Why we must remember the reality of Hiroshima"

Der britisch-japanische Künstler Yo Zushi empfiehlt, Atomwaffen nicht als "abstrakte" Bedrohung zu betrachten und in der Folge weitgehend zu ignorieren. Die Corona-Pandemie habe gezeigt, wie schnell verheerende Szenarien Realität werden können. "Few would contest the sentiment inscribed on Hiroshima’s memorial cenotaph: 'Rest in peace. The error shall not be repeated.' Yet the abstraction of nuclear warfare makes the notion of it palatable for too many. The US – a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty – currently plans to spend more than a trillion dollars on updating its arsenal over the coming decades. The RAF pilot Air Commodore, Alastair Mackie, once described the UK’s Trident programme as a 'stick-on hairy chest virility symbol'. That’s all nuclear weapons have ever been – in our case, cosplay machismo bought at the cost of £205bn. Think of that figure and what it means for successive UK governments to have prioritised advanced weapons programmes over, say, pandemic readiness, when pandemics have long been placed on a higher tier of security risk than nuclear warfare. And picture that stick-on hairy chest whenever a willingness to 'push the nuclear button' is presented as a mark of seriousness for political leaders. What the cloud on that stamp truly represents isn’t progress or power, but a tragic and horrifying mistake."

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"Why the anti-Putin protests in Russia’s eastern city are something new"

Die andauernden Proteste in Chabarowsk an der russisch-chinesischen Grenze belegen nach Ansicht von Ido Vock, wie begrenzt die Macht Moskau in den entlegenen Regionen des Landes tatsächlich sei. "A well orchestrated constitutional referendum wrapped up this month was intended to cement Putin’s hold on power indefinitely. Yet the anger in Khabarovsk, while focused on fairly localised grievances, illustrates the limits of Putin’s so-called 'managed democracy' – autocracy dressed up with the trappings of democracy – and the bumbling, overly centralised Russian state."

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"How coronavirus has revealed the unexpected strengths of Germany’s model of government"

Die Coronakrise habe sich als von vielen englischsprachigen Beobachtern unerwartete Bestätigung der Stärke des deutschen Regierungsmodells herausgestellt, schreibt Jeremy Cliffe. "Germany moved faster to roll out testing. Its decentralised health system was more responsive than Britain’s top-down one and its federal state none-theless got more and faster support to businesses and workers during its (relatively mild) lockdown. Its leaders issued clearer messages about social distancing. As a result, Germany’s population of 83 million has suffered 9,000 deaths, while in Britain, with its population of 67 million, there have been at least 43,000. (…) Three key factors played out differently from what I expected. The first is the role of decentralisation. Far from slowing down policies to confront the virus, Germany’s federal structure helped them to flow. (…) There were conflicts, of course, with some federal states going their own way. But here the second German strength played a role: the emphasis on consensus. (…) The third factor is Germany’s attitude to science and technology, where its emphasis on applied research (rather than the sort of world-changing discoveries that mark out Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial) and its nuanced approach to digital technology have been beneficial. (…) The bugs in the German system turn out to be features."

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"The rise of the Indo-Pacific"

Die Coronakrise beschleunige die Formierung des indopazifischen Raums als neue geopolitische Einheit, schreibt Jeremy Cliffe. Der australische Sicherheitsexperte Rory Medcalf habe das Konzept des Indopazifik in seinem Buch "Indo-Pacific Empire" bereits vor der Coronakrise weitsichtig analysiert. "In it Rory Medcalf, Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, highlights an emerging formation on the geopolitical map: the Indo-Pacific, a growing web of alliances centred on the 'Quad' of India, Japan, Australia and the US, but also taking in a crescent of maritime states in eastern, south-eastern and southern Asia. Looser and more multipolar than other such formations, it is unified by the quest to balance, dilute and absorb Chinese power. 'The Indo-Pacific is both a region and an idea: a metaphor for collective action, self-help combined with mutual help,' writes Medcalf. Two months on from its publication, virtually all of the trends that his book draws together have advanced. (…) It is too early to make firm predictions about the geopolitical fallout of the pandemic. But it is clear that Medcalf is on to something."

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"Germany may pretend otherwise but it has reasons to fear a Europe without Britain"

In Deutschland werde der Brexit bisher relativ gelassen erwartet, stellt Thomas Meaney fest. Beobachter wie der Politikwissenschaftler Herfried Münkler gingen davon aus, dass Berlin vom EU-Austritt Großbritanniens sogar profitieren könnte. Meaney hält Analysen wie die des Ökonomen Hans-Werner Sinn dagegen für überzeugender. "Sinn’s fear is that there may be a ganging-up against Germany by southern, potentially anti-austerity states, such as Spain and Italy, and genuinely socialist states such as Portugal. Politicians of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland, while cheering on the spirit of Brexit, are acutely worried about southern domination of the EU, and at least some of them already mourn the departure of the British Tories and their votes against the Latin leeches. (...) In a topsy-turvy Europe in which French socialism is improbably extinct, and British socialism is improbably alive, cool German heads are making their calculations. How long can they keep Europe as it was, and make the British departure appear as a mere bump on the road back to the status quo ante?"

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"How deep is the decline of the West?"

John Gray meint in seiner Rezension des Buches "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam" von Douglas Murray, dass die größte Gefahr für die europäische Zivilisation heute nicht wie von Murray behauptet von islamischen Einwanderern, sondern von der Globalisierung und der eigenen Hybris ausgehe. "Writing in this magazine two years ago ('The age of hyper-terrorism'), I suggested that European institutions faced a trilemma they could not resolve: 'Open borders, liberal democracy and highly developed welfare states are not simultaneously sustainable… A continent-wide process of Orbánisation is under way.' (...) There is nothing accidental in the demise of social democracy. It was always at odds with continent-wide labour mobility – a neoliberal project that presupposes the rollback of national welfare states and downward flexibility in wages. What is unexpected – at least for unthinking liberals – is that the far right has benefited most from social democracy’s demise. (...) So globalisation starts to fragment, as leaders who have risen to power on the back of popular anger and despair start trade wars they are unable to control. While this disaster unfolds, liberals insist that all will be well if only the world returns to the conditions that produced the current breakdown. Sensational stories of Europe committing suicide only add to the febrile climate of the time."

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"The new Illiberal International"

John Lloyd schreibt, dass der "Traum" von einem vereinten Europa unter dem Druck der Massenmigration und des Aufstiegs einer "globalen populistischen Bewegung" zu scheitern drohe. "The two dominant revolutionary movements of the 20th century both had 'internationals': organisations that brought together national revolutionary parties, sought to co-ordinate their policies and activities and provided an ideological compass. We are now seeing the creation of a third international in the 21st century, the so-called illiberal, or populist, international, and it is still unclear if it will be revolutionary. (...) Three figures stand out in this emerging international: Kurz of Austria; Viktor Orbán, prime minister of Hungary; and Matteo Salvini, the Italian interior minister and leader of the Lega (formerly the Northern League), which on 1 June this year formed a coalition government with the Five Star Movement. (...) As greater European integration flounders, as immigration fears rise even as immigration falls, as populism becomes a badge of honour and a pole of attraction, and as serious people such as former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright warn of a new authoritarian era, so the Illiberal International picks up speed: a war wagon, its hour come at last, hurtling towards Brussels."

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"How we entered the age of the strongman"

John Gray wirft westlichen Liberalen und deren "Selbstgerechtigkeit" vor, die nun drohende neue "autoritäre Ära" herbeigeführt zu haben. "Talking almost exclusively with one another, none of them has explained why the type of politics they represent – in which the chief function of government is adapting to the imperatives of globalisation – has been rejected by so many in democratic countries. If all of humankind yearns for the post-Cold War regime that existed in Western countries, why have voters in these countries turned to extreme parties? Invoking Russian meddling and the machinations of big data companies denies the origins of this shift in the world to which these liberals long to return. (...) Liberals need to shake off their sickly nostalgia for an irrecoverable past, whose flaws and contradictions created the world in which we find ourselves. Instead the intellectual remnants of the post-Cold-War era fall back on a narcissistic fantasy in which all will be well once the vanishing regime they embody is back in place. When liberals see the current condition of politics as an interregnum, they demonstrate their failure to recognise the new authoritarian hegemony that they helped to establish."

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"Could Brexit lead to a united Ireland?"

Stephen Bush hält es nicht für ausgeschlossen, dass ein "harter" Brexit zu einer Trennung Nordirlands von Großbritannien und einem vereinten Irland führen könnte. "(...) a poll for Northern Irish pollster LucidTalk showing support for the union collapsing in the event of a hard Brexit. On the Conservative benches, the usual arguments against May’s unease are being assembled: polls are polls, etc. Or, as Rees-Mogg put it, the Union won in Scotland so it can win in Northern Ireland. (...) I feel I shouldn't have to say this, but here goes: Scotland is not Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland is not Scotland. An Irish border poll, regardless of the outcome, would be considerably more destabilising, more politically disruptive and with a potential for violence well beyond the Scottish referendum."

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"What Britain needs to understand about the profound and ancient divisions in Germany"

In der aktuellen Titelgeschichte des britischen Magazins New Statesman widmet sich James Hawes dem "deutschen Problem". Dabei bezeichnet er die bis 1990 bestehende BRD als das aus britischer Sicht "wahre Deutschland", das sich durch die Wiedervereinigung mit den schon immer "andersartigen" Gebieten östlich der Elbe spürbar verändert habe. Die anhaltenden Unterschiede zwischen West- und Ostdeutschland werden sich in den kommenden Jahren stärker auf die Europapolitik auswirken, so die Prognose von Hawes. "Germany’s resources are not infinite. Nor is the patience of the 40 per cent of Germans who 'have net worths of essentially zero', as Die Welt reported last year – largely because German home ownership rates are the lowest in the EU. They are disproportionately concentrated in the old east, the region that never had supranational, western European connections. From them come ever-louder voices saying that Germany’s EU contribution is too high. And with Britain out, the maths will look even worse to such voters. If south-western Germany’s taxes have to keep bailing out the country’s east, while also helping out the old and new EU lands, what is left for, say, the post-industrial Ruhr, which has financial and social problems of its own? There are tough choices ahead, and it’s not hard to imagine a day when Germany decides to aim its subsidies and investments where they seem most welcome."

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"Is Germany a normal country? Its citizens are finding that a painful question"

Der in Berlin lebende Economist-Korrespondent Jeremy Cliffe setzt sich in Bezug auf das zuletzt kontrovers diskutierte Sachbuch "Finis Germania" des Historikers Rolf Peter Sieferle mit der Frage auseinander, ob man Deutschland heute tatsächlich als "normales" Land bezeichnen könne. "One thing unites Sieferle and his critics: all perceive a tension between the abnormal Germany of Stolpersteine and the normal Germany lived out on the streets they bespangle. Yet few pause to question this divide. Might the country’s over-idealistic past not make it more pragmatic? Might its guilt not make it more assertive in defence of its own authenticity? Might its unique historical burden not undergird economic and defence policies combining German self-interest with that of Europe as a whole? Finis Germania is the work of a bitter, disillusioned 68-er who lost faith in his country. Germany helped to destroy Europe. But today Berlin can contribute to the continent’s re-emergence as a united, confident force by seeking a balance: neither forgetting its past, nor succumbing to it."

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"Between twin barbarisms"

Die Einnahme Aleppos durch syrische Regierungstruppen habe nicht das Ende des Krieges in Syrien eingeleitet, sondern lediglich sichergestellt, dass die Rebellen künftig noch stärker von Al-Qaida-Extremisten dominiert werden, meint Shiraz Maher. "It is sometimes easiest to think of the various moving parts of the Syrian conflict as the air inside a balloon: squeeze one part, and you merely move the air elsewhere. Although Russian and Syrian forces were successful in retaking the historic city of Palmyra last year, once they turned their attention towards Aleppo IS returned. (...) These are ominous lessons for military planners in Damascus, suggesting that the residual influence of groups such as Islamic State and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham will continue to resonate for years to come. The fall of Aleppo may well have marked a turning point in the Syrian conflict – but only towards a more draconian and jihadi-led armed opposition."

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