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Category Archives: Europe

How Trump walked into Putin’s web

Moscow, summer 1991. Mikhail Gorbachev is in power. Official relations with the west have softened, but the KGB still assumes all western embassy workers are spooks. The KGB agents assigned to them are easy to spot. They have a method. Sometimes they pursue targets on foot, sometimes in cars. The officers charged with keeping tabs on western diplomats are never subtle.

One of their specialities is breaking into Moscow apartments. The owners are always away, of course. The KGB leave a series of clues – stolen shoes, women’s tights knotted together, cigarette butts stomped out and left demonstratively on the floor. Or a surprise turd in the toilet, waiting in grim ambush. The message, crudely put, is this: we are the masters here! We can do what the fuck we please!

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/15/how-trump-walked-into-putins-web-luke

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Posted by on December 6, 2017 in Europe, North America

 

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What the Russian Revolution can teach us about the Middle East today

These days, uprisings should be studied with a cold eye and there’s a fine little exhibition on in Paris about the 1917 Russian revolution which casts a dark reflection on the Arab “awakening” we’ve all been observing in the Middle East. It’s an extraordinary display from the “revolution which changed the world”, including posters, photographs and – amazingly – some documents which show just how much the Mencheviks (and the Russian Provisional Government) and then the Bolsheviks tried to enlist the Muslim world – and the Armenians – in their destruction of the Romanov dynasty.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/russian-revolution-syria-egypt-what-it-can-a8090406.html

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2017 in Europe, Middle East

 

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How Britain did Gaddafi’s dirty work

Five days after 9/11, early on a Sunday evening, a small group of senior CIA officers drove from their headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to the British embassy at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue NW in Washington DC, in order to brief MI6 on the agency’s planned response to the attacks.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/09/how-britain-did-gaddafis-dirty-work-libya

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2017 in Africa, Europe

 

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From the Caucasus to the Balkans, China’s Silk Roads are Rising

The 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress made it clear that the New Silk Roads – aka, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – launched by President Xi Jinping just four years ago, provides the concept around which all Chinese foreign policy is to revolve for the foreseeable future. Up until the symbolic 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, in 2049, in fact.

Virtually every nook and cranny of the Chinese administration is invested in making the BRI Grand Strategy a success: economic actors, financial players, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), the private sector, the diplomatic machine, think tanks, and – of course – the media, are all on board.

It’s under this long-term framework that sundry BRI projects should be examined. And their reach, let’s be clear, involves most of Eurasia – including everything from the Central Asian steppes to the Caucasus and the Western Balkans.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/01/from-the-caucasus-to-the-balkans-chinas-silk-roads-are-rising/

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Asia, Economy, Europe

 

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Dirty air is killing our children. Why does the government let this happen?

Deregulation, the government and many newspapers assure us, saves money and time and reduces frustration. That’s the theory. But, as I see every day, it doesn’t quite work like this.

My youngest daughter’s school has been trying to protect its children from the toxic cloud in which they work and play. The teachers know how much damage traffic pollution does to their lungs, hearts and brains. They know that it reduces their cognitive development, their ability to concentrate and their capacity for exercise. They know it’s a minor miracle that no one has yet been crushed by the cars jostling to get as close as possible to the school gates. But thanks to the government’s refusal to legislate, there is little they can do. Far from freeing us from effort, the absence of regulation wastes everybody’s time.

At my suggestion, the school invited the charity Living Streets to come in and enthuse the children about walking or cycling to school. I attended the first assembly, at which one of their organisers spoke. She was lively, funny and captivating. With the help of a giant puppet, and the promise of badges if they joined in, the children went wild for her and for the cause. The school, led by its committed headteacher, has done everything it can to support the scheme.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/29/dirty-air-killing-children-government-politicians-teachers-public-health-crisis

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2017 in Europe

 

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Flawed Justice for the Butcher of Bosnia

I met Ratko Mladic only once. He was the general commanding the war machine destroying Bosnia and overseeing the medieval siege of Sarajevo, the capital, where I was living and reporting. I spent my days going to the morgue to count the dead and to sit in hospitals with children who had been blinded by shrapnel.

On a freezing cold day in 1993, as Sarajevo was getting pummeled with shells, I had driven to Mount Igman, a strategic mountain to the southeast, through Bosnian Serb front lines. In a pine forest, on a mud road, I found General Mladic sitting placidly in his jeep. Tentatively, I approached his window to ask him a question about the humanitarian operation in Sarajevo. Food had not been delivered in some time, I said, and people were starving to death. Would he let the trucks carrying food pass?

The Butcher of Bosnia, a nickname I thought let him off lightly, stared at me coldly and muttered something to his aide-de-camp. The aide told me, “The general says, ‘Tell the girl journalist if she comes any closer, I’ll run her down.’ ” Then he added, in English, “And he will do it.”

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2017 in Europe

 

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I love my country so I need to say: Britain, you’re being an idiot over Brexit

What does it mean to love your country? Is it the sort of love that means you never have to say you’re sorry? The late, great critic AA Gill once observed that just as the Inuit people are rumoured to have dozens of words for snow, none of which actually mean “snow”, the British have “many, many” uses of the word “sorry”, but are somehow unable to apologise when it actually matters. It matters now. It matters because we have made a terrible mistake, and as the flaming omni­shambles of the Brexit negotiations roars on, the one option that almost nobody seems to want to discuss is the one that would cause the most embarrassment in the short term and the least pain in the long run: cancelling the whole thing and moving on.

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/brexit/2017/11/i-love-my-country-so-i-need-say-britain-you-re-being-idiot-over-brexit

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2017 in Europe

 

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Having lived in Belfast at the height of the Troubles, I see how Brexit could push us toward war in Ireland again

Warnings about the damaging impact on the Northern Ireland peace process of the return to a physical border between the north and the south post-Brexit understate the danger. Those issuing these warnings point to the problems posed by a hard border to relations between nationalist and unionist communities, to power sharing between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and to commerce within Ireland and between Britain and Ireland.

But the opposite of a peace process is a war process and this is not so far away as it might seem. Peace in Northern Ireland depends ultimately not so much on power sharing but on a complicated but stable balance of power between communities and it is this which is now being eroded by a Brexit-obsessed British Government.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-ireland-border-good-friday-agreement-war-again-patrick-cockburn-a8074456.html

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Europe, European Union

 

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Il fantasma di Ratko Mladić nell’Europa di oggi

Aprile 1992. Colline intorno a Sarajevo, Bosnia Erzegovina. Registrazione radio-telefono:

“Qui generale Mladić”.
“Sissignore”.
“Non avere paura. Come ti chiami?”.
“Vukasinović”.
“Vukasinović, ascoltami. Bombarda la presidenza e il parlamento. Spara a intervalli lenti fino a che non ti dirò di smettere”.
“Bene”.
“Colpisci i quartieri musulmani, lì non vivono molti serbi”.
“Va bene”.
“Non devono dormire. Bombardali fino a farli impazzire”.

Sono i primi giorni della guerra in Bosnia e Ratko Mladić, comandante militare dei serbo-bosniaci, ordina al colonnello Vukasinović di sparare a tappeto su una capitale europea, Sarajevo. È l’inizio dell’assedio più lungo nella storia contemporanea: finirà solo nel febbraio del 1996, dopo 44 mesi. Almeno undicimila persone moriranno, più della metà civili. I feriti saranno più di cinquantamila.

Il 22 novembre 2017 il Tribunale penale internazionale per la ex Jugoslavia ha condannato il generale Ratko Mladić, all’ergastolo. Dopo un processo durato cinque anni, lo ha riconosciuto colpevole di dieci capi di imputazione su undici, tra cui di crimini di guerra, crimini contro l’umanità e genocidio. Per capire l’importanza di questa sentenza bisogna ricostruire il progetto nazionalista ideato dal presidente serbo Slobodan Milošević e trasformato in una guerra di sterminio nel cuore dell’Europa dal serbo-bosniaco Mladić.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/22/black-friday-consumption-killing-planet-growth

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Europe

 

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Ratko Mladić will die in jail. But go to Bosnia: you’ll see that he won

General Ratko Mladić, the most bloodthirsty warlord to strut European soil since the Third Reich, will die in jail. Any other outcome after today’s verdict in The Hague would have been preposterous.

The mothers of the more than 8,000 men and boys mass-murdered in Srebrenica, over five days in the summer of 1995, have every reason to welcome the sentence of life imprisonment, and Mladić’s conviction for genocide: the only judicial standard by which that crime can be rightly measured.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/22/ratko-mladic-bosnia-camps-mass-murder-torture-rape-serbian

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Europe, European Union

 

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