Moscow’s dangerous political games in Europe’s ‘soft underbelly’

By Shuting Xia, on 25 February 2017

Written by Sabin Selimi

Photo credit: voovix.com

Photo credit: voovix.com

One of Putin’s Russian foreign policy objectives is to produce crises in the Western Balkans. The Kremlin’s goal is to sow chaos and has sought to prevent the region from falling under the influence of the Euro-Atlantic alliance. Thus Moscow depends on creating instability in order to derail the region’s path to Euro-Atlantic integration. The attempted coup in Montenegro is one of the political games Moscow played in the region, which would have killed the then pro-West prime minister, Milo Djukanovic, and replaced him with a pro-Russian government in order to prevent the country from joining NATO. We have to understand that these are very dangerous political games. The climate worsens. The tensions build up. And then somebody comes up with populist and nationalist pronouncements. We need to move towards democratisation, cohesive state-building and the path to Euro-Atlantic integration, not this continuous fragmentation.

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IPPR PHOTO SERIES

By Shuting Xia, on 22 February 2017

After announcing a photo competition at the end of 2016, IPPR received many impressive photos from students across UCL. Whilst the winning submissions will be published in our academic journal, the following shots captured our imagination and the essence of this year’s theme – Borders and Boundaries. To reward them, we have decided to include them in a brief photo series – enjoy!

kate regan

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Anatomy of an occupation: West Papua and the need for international solidarity

By Simone R Nielsen, on 17 February 2017

Written by Mali Siloko

Photo credit: West Papua Media

Photo credit: West Papua Media

One might think of Armenia, Namibia or North Korea as some of the forgotten genocides of the 20th and 21st centuries.  It is likely that we have all heard of events that occurred in Rwanda, Bosnia and East Timor. Yet, it is unlikely that people are aware of the ongoing occupation characterised by mass murder, extrajudicial killings, torture, disappearances, policy impunity and resource exploitation in West Papua. It is one of the least covered conflicts in the world. The international community recognised Indonesia’s wrongful occupation of East Timor; also needs to recognise the illegal occupation of West Papua.

On 12 November 2016, I held an ‘Evening for West Papua’ where Benny Wenda, an independence fighter from West Papua living in exile with his family in the UK, testified to the injustices he and his family faced whilst still in West Papua. During the discussion with Wenda and the audience, a woman put her hand up to say that she was Indonesian and that she was willing to be a part of civil resistance Read the rest of this entry »

Caution and scepticism is the best way for the UK to approach its new relationship with the US

By Shuting Xia, on 13 February 2017

Written by Samuel Hall

Photo credit: zwooper.com

Photo credit: zwooper.com

As the Prime Minister jets off to go and make sweet talk with the Republican congress before greeting the new President in whatever obsequious manner she has planned; I find myself increasingly disturbed at the parochial view my government is taking in new its relationship with the United States. Much of the rhetoric around Trump’s Presidency and the future of UK-US relations – which has been present in UK, recently amongst politicians and newspaper commentators – has left me both disconcerted and frustrated. The obsession we are seeing from the government and from many in the media about how important the ‘special relationship’ is, is becoming increasingly painful to observe.

We fawn over every throwaway comment the Donald makes. It is headline news when he makes an off-the-cuff remark about his mother being a fan of the Queen. When he told Michael Gove in an interview for The Times that the UK is ‘doing great’ after Brexit and that leaving the EU will be a ‘great thing’ for Britain, it was splashed across the front pages. This rejoicing by so much of the media was despite the fact that most of us here in the UK have watched Trump tell and repeat bare-faced lies for months. The same papers seem to be outraged when he lies about Obama literally founding ISIS, but become silly with excitement when the same man lies about the virtues of Brexit. I’m not implying that the Brexit vote has resulted in the UK falling into chaos, it hasn’t – but has it really been that great? What has actually happened which would convince Donald so strongly that we are doing so great? The more obvious answer is that he doesn’t know how the UK is doing, nor do I think he particularly cares. Read the rest of this entry »

Are France and Germany moving towards creating a more unified European defence after Brexit and Trump?

By Simone R Nielsen, on 6 February 2017

Written by Sabin Selimi

Photo credit: Gitty images

Photo credit: Gitty images

The United Kingdom is one of the leading military powers in Europe and one of few NATO members that meets the 2% target of defence spending. Soon after the UK voted to exit the European Union last year, the German defence minister said that her country and France would lead talks with other members of the bloc for closer defence and security cooperation in Europe. She said that the UK had ‘paralysed’ progress towards the Union’s military cooperation

Both France and Germany are NATO members. France, a nuclear-armed state with a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, is more willing to act unilaterally, considering their recent interventions in Mali and the Central African Republic. Germany, on the other hand, is not yet ready to initiate any military operation abroad as it is still more reluctant than France to deploy military force, partly because of its cautious public opinion and its civilian power narrative. Germany has mostly worked within the NATO framework where there was real need such as in the case of Kosovo and later in Afghanistan. Germany will also act in coalition with other allies such as in the case of Berlin’s support to the international anti-Daesh coalition following the Paris terrorist attacks two years ago.

Both Paris and Berlin do not necessarily agree on the end goal of the EU’s common defence and security policy due to the differences in their cultures of strategic adjustment. Read the rest of this entry »

The problem of money

By Shuting Xia, on 30 January 2017

Written by Wendy Lovinger

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

It was the summer of 2010, and I was working as an intern for my local congressman. He was up for re-election the following year (as US congressmen almost always are since they serve two-year terms), and we needed at least a couple thousand constituent signatures to get him on the ballot. My district, like many districts, was divided socioeconomically. Even the local geography embodied this divide- the wealthier population living up the hill. I was going door-to-door with another intern and a clipboard on a hot August day and at one door we were greeted by a woman who did not look thrilled to see us. We told her what we were there for and she said, ‘I’m not signing that. He doesn’t care about the people down here’. She slammed the door. She has no idea, but that exchange had a profound affect on my perception of US politics.

At Betsy DeVos’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump, Senator Bernie Sanders said, ‘Mrs DeVos, there is a growing fear, I think, in this country that we are moving toward what some would call an oligarchic form of society, where a small number of very, very wealthy billionaires control, to a significant degree, our economic and political life’. He then proceeded to press her about how much money her family has donated to the Republican Party throughout the years. She admitted it was ‘possible’ the number was around 200M USD. Read the rest of this entry »