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Europe and the United
States took a moralistic stand on Syria’s civil war, demanding that Bashar
al-Assad must go. This created an opening for Russia: because of its military
intervention, the dictator remains firmly in place, the humanitarian tragedy is
deepening and chances for a negotiated settlement seem largely lost.
Maghreb & the Middle East
Prince Michael of Liechtenstein
Democratic Republic of the Congo is mired in conflict that is causing death and
starvation on a huge scale. Violence among tribes or between regions and the
central government has been a near-constant feature of the country since its
independence from Belgium in 1960. This is because of its abrupt transition to
independence and international insistence that it remain a single unitary state
– despite it comprising a myriad of ethnicities and groups with distinct
identities. Until the international community realizes its mistake, the tragedy
Eastern & Southern Africa
was never much sense in Germany’s coalition talks between the CDU/CSU, FDP and
the Greens, but Angela Merkel saw it as her best chance to remain chancellor.
Now, FDP leader Christian Lindner has pulled his party out of the negotiations,
showing an adherence to principles rarely found in European politics these
days. The best scenario for Germany now would be for Ms. Merkel to step down.
true story of the Paradise Papers is less about shady business deals than about
the byzantine regulatory and tax structures of developed countries. It is a
lesson that politicians like French President Emmanuel Macron are studiously
trying to ignore.
President Donald Trump will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC
summit this weekend. Although allegations of his campaign’s collaboration with
Russia during last year’s election has made it hard for Mr. Trump to negotiate
with the Kremlin, Mr. Putin’s assistance on the North Korea crisis could prove
very useful. It would also be in Russia’s interest. The price the U.S. might
have to pay in concessions could be high, but a solution where Washington and
Russia cooperate to defuse the North Korea crisis is likely.
Russia & Central Asia
Parties unfairly labeled “euroskeptic” and “populist” have won elections in Austria and the Czech Republic. But they only want to preserve sovereignty and regional diversity. Western Europe likes to look down on Central Europe as nationalist and backward, but the real political problems in Europe stem from established parties’ headlong push toward harmonization and their refusal to accept new ideas.
The EU needs to maintain a healthy dose of tax competition among member
states. Replacing it with a uniform “European taxation system” would encourage
excessive public spending.
Union labor ministers have just agreed to a proposal that could see more
protectionist measures implemented across the bloc. The new rules would limit
employers’ flexibility how much they pay “posted” workers – employees from a
different EU member state. Until now, posting workers added needed competition
to the labor market. Eliminating that option just protects high-cost cartels
created by EU states with excessive cost structures.
Two things are taken for granted in German politics. First, that there is no realistic alternative to Chancellor Angela Merkel, and second, that the only possible government after the Social Democrats went over to the opposition is a black-yellow-green (Jamaican) coalition of the CDU/CSU, Free Democrats and Greens. But what if neither of these propositions is true?
These days, it is easy to forget that European integration is a huge success. The founders were right
that the free movement of goods and people would bind the continent together and
promote peace. But national governments and centralizing democrats have spoiled
a good idea through their own timidity and ambition. If the European Union is
to play a global role, it must return to its roots.