Fall 2008

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Letter from the Editor

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Jacqueline Grapin

A Call To Be Listened To

We recently lost one of the most respected figures in Europe, just at a time when he would have been most needed. Bronislaw Geremek, who died in a car accident in Brussels in July, was a former Polish foreign minister and then a distinguished member of the European Parliament. Historically, he was a pivotal figure in the fight of the Solidarity movement to end Communist rule in Poland and one of the leading statesmen of the democratic era that followed. A professor of history who had become Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland before being elected to the European Parliament, at 76, Geremek was in full stride as a man who had distilled personal and political wisdom from his involvement in history both as an historian and as an actor in European developments. He was a friend of the United States and one of the most ardent supporters of the European Union, who was Chairman of the Jean Monnet Foundation in Lausanne.

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The End of Happy Endings in the Post-Cold War

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Russia’s mauling of Georgia was a game-changing geopolitical development for Western democracies – above all, for Europe. For Russia, it is a conquest, and a diminished Georgia will need determined Western help to retain a fig leaf of viability. It is time to re-examine the assumption – left unexamined for too long – that time was working to bring about a happy ending to the cold war, with Russia moving along the lines that the West has been following since NATO enlargement a decade ago. Instead, Moscow has changed a national boundary by force of arms and will probably incorporate South Ossetia and Abkhazia into Russia. Some have described this action as a response to the West’s recognition of Kosovo. European Affairs published articles at the time warning that the Kremlin would someday claim Kosovo as a precedent. But the two situations are profoundly different. In Georgia, the Kremlin has thrown down the gauntlet about breaking what was still formally accepted as a joint approach to European security shared by Moscow and Western capitals.
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Russia and the EU: The Difficult Path to a New Partnership

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Deiter DettkeThe transition of leadership in Russia could have paved the way for a new chapter in Russian history and Russia’s role in the world. Russia, which has always identified herself as an offspring of European civilization, seemed on its way to bolstering ties with the West. An era of consolidation during the Putin years – as Henry Kissinger pointed out recently – appeared to be over, and a new era of modernization seemed set to emerge. This trend is now in doubt after the trauma of events in Georgia. With its excessive use of military force and now its political escalation in extending unilateral diplomatic recognition to South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, Russia is challenging the foundations of European security after the cold war.

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Georgia: Breakdown of Vision The West Had for a New Europe

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Robert E. HunterSince the Russian Federation sent tanks, troops, and planes slicing into Georgia, commentators have reached for a variety of historic parallels. 1968 and the Soviet Union snuffs out Prague Spring. 1939 and the Nazis thrust into Poland. 1938 and the Czechoslovaks are sacrificed to the unwillingness of democracies to confront evil. None of these supposed parallels catches the current situation. A better – but still imperfect – parallel is 1914, when an assassination in a remote corner of the world set larger and destructive events in motion. The trigger-event with outsize results this time was Georgia’s attempt with military force to reoccupy South Ossetia.

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The End of History? - Certainly Not Through Asia’s Eyes

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The rise of Asia is a zero-sum game, which necessarily means the relative decline of the West. This outcome has gained an extra edge because the West has not wanted to understand the trend and has been unwilling to accept it. This view has gradually spread among a few policy-makers in western capitals, but its larger implications – and some positive overtones – are less well-known. Nowhere are these points collected in a sharper fashion than in an important and provocative new book, The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East, written by Kishore Mahbubani. As Dean of the Lee Quan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, Mahbubani has earned a well-deserved reputation as a critic of the wholesale application of Western values to Asia. His provocations, the origins of which are collected in an earlier book, Can Asians Think?, have led some critics to dismiss him as a nattering scold.

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