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  • Author: Anna Bocharnikova
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article investigates the dynamics of individual economic well‐​being in Estonia and Finland over three periods: (1) 1923–1938, when both countries were similarly situated; (2) 1960–1988, during which Estonia was under Soviet control; and (3) 1992–2018, after Estonian independence. Economic well‐​being is calculated using the purchasing power of wages in terms of the affordability of a minimal food basket. The results show that, in 1938, the purchasing power of wages in Estonia was 4 percent lower than in Finland; in 1988, it was 42 percent lower; and, by 2018, the gap had fallen to 17 percent. Consequently, as measured by the purchasing power of wages, well‐​being in Estonia and Finland was similar before the Soviet occupation, widely diverged during Soviet rule, and converged after Estonian independence, with the transition from plan to market.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Politics, History, Culture
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Estonia
  • Author: George S. Tavlas
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: During the fall of 2009, George Papandreou headed the ticket of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, known by its acronym PASOK, against the then‐​governing conservative party, New Democracy, in the Greek national elections. Papandreou ran on a platform that featured highly expansive fiscal spending. During a press conference on September 13, 2009, he was asked where he would find the money to fund his party’s spending proposals. His answer was that given in the above quotation, by which he meant that Greece had abundant fiscal space to increase government spending; he believed that tax revenues could be sharply raised through stricter enforcement of laws against tax evasion. On October 4, PASOK won a landslide electoral victory, garnering 43.9 percent of the popular vote, compared with 33.5 percent for the second‐​place, incumbent New Democracy party, with the result that Papandreou became Greece’s prime minister. In the following months, a sovereign‐​debt crisis erupted in Greece that, within a year, engulfed much of the euro area through contagion. In November 2011, Papandreou resigned the premiership, becoming the first Greek prime minister in almost 50 years to be forced out of office by his own cabinet. An article in the Financial Times, reporting on his ouster, stated: “George Papandreou will be remembered by Greeks with more than a trace of bitterness as the man who smilingly declared ‘the money’s there’ ” (Hope 2011). In the next Greek elections, held in June 2012, PASOK won only 12.3 percent of the vote.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy, Conservatism, Political Parties, Socialism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Author: Jesús Fernández‐​Villaverde
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The monetary arrangements of societies are the result of the interplay of technology and ideas. Technology determines, for example, which coins can be minted and at what cost. For centuries, minting small‐​denomination coinage was too costly to induce Western European governments to supply enough small change (Sargent and Velde 2002). Only the arrival of steam‐​driven presses fixed this problem (Doty 1998). Simultaneously, ideas about private property and the scope of government determined whether private entrepreneurs were allowed to compete with governments in the supply of small change (Selgin 2008). Technology and ideas about money engage dialectically. Technological advances shape our ideas about money by making new monetary arrangements feasible. Ideas about desirable outcomes direct innovators to develop new technologies.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Monetary Policy, Cryptocurrencies
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Matthew Page
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Political, business, and cultural elites from around the world have a strong affinity for the United Kingdom (UK) education system. Nowhere is this truer than in West Africa, where some families in Nigeria and Ghana have a long tradition of sending their children to private boarding schools and universities in the UK. These institutions are especially popular destinations for the offspring of prominent politically exposed persons (PEPs) from the region. Immigration officials, admissions staff, and UK law enforcement are not likely to scrutinize the conditions under which the children of PEPs enroll in British schools, even though the PEPs themselves may have modest legitimate earnings and opaque asset profiles that in other circumstances would raise serious financial concerns. This relative lack of review has allowed some West African PEPs to channel unexplained wealth into the UK education sector. It is not easy to estimate the overall value of this flow, yet it likely exceeds £30 million annually.1 Most of these funds emanate from Nigeria and, to a lesser extent, Ghana; compared with these two countries, only a handful of students from elsewhere in West Africa seek an education in British schools. Tackling this small but significant illicit financial flow should be a priority for UK policymakers. In doing so, they would be helping to realize the UK’s global anticorruption objectives, advance its International Education Strategy, and close a troublesome anti–money laundering (AML) loophole. Failing to do so would exacerbate existing corruption challenges both at home and abroad and increase the UK education sector’s reputational liabilities.
  • Topic: Corruption, Education, Law Enforcement, Higher Education, Elites
  • Political Geography: Africa, United Kingdom, Europe, West Africa
  • Author: Peter Liberman
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: By showing that mass vengefulness helps democratic leaders bring their nations to war, this wonderful book significantly advances our understanding of how cultural values affect international politics. Its most important contribution is demonstrating that democracies that retain death penalty laws were significant more likely to initiate the use of force than non-death-penalty democracies in the 1945–2001 period. The finding is robust to a variety of control variables and specifications, although skeptics may wonder whether it might be inflated by ethnocentrism, beliefs about the utility of violence, or other unmeasured potential covariates. Rachel Stein attributes the belligerence of death penalty states to cross-national differences in vengeful cultures, on the grounds that citizens’ vengefulness predicts both cross-sectional support for the death penalty and cross-national differences in the penalty’s retention. Her rigorous analysis greatly strengthens the case that the unusual bellicosity of retributivists, observed by Stein and other researchers, affects actual interstate conflict.
  • Topic: War, Prisons/Penal Systems, Leadership, Book Review, Elites, Capital Punishment
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Zach Weinberg
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Public and International Affairs (JPIA)
  • Institution: School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: Certain features of U.S. export controls fail to reflect the immediate threat from East Asia and the emerging threat from Europe as it relates to the theft of American defense and dual-use technologies. While both the Obama and Trump administrations made a concerted effort to better regulate the commercial sale and shipment of technologies deemed sensitive for reasons of national security, one critical component of the export controls regime—the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC) country-specific export control licensing requirements—has yet to be revised to account for European and East Asian industrial espionage. Imposing the most export licensing requirements on average to countries in Europe and East Asia would accurately account for the persistent attempts to illicitly acquire U.S. defense technologies. Instead, countries in the Near East and South and Central Asia are, on average, assigned the most reasons for control listed on the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Commerce Country Chart (CCC)—likely a carry-on objective from the U.S. Global War on Terror (GWOT) when military operations were heavily focused on these regions. Furthermore, BIS imposes a blanket set of export controls on countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, failing to recognize the varying risk profiles posed by different African states. These misallocated export controls demonstrate how specific trade barriers fail to move beyond an outdated GWOT mentality and result in over-regulating the Near East, South and Central Asia, and Africa. The following paper proposes the need for a thorough review of the CCC to ensure that it accurately reflects a country’s current risk profile and takes into consideration the consistent industrial espionage threat from East Asia and the emerging threat from Europe. As a result of this type of export control reform, there would be a relaxation of licensing requirements levied on regions that show little interest in illicitly procuring American defense technologies.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Exports, Hybrid Threats
  • Political Geography: Europe, East Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Thomas G. Mahnken, Grace B. Kim
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: On NATO’s entire Eastern and South-Eastern flank, the Allies face a major, pressing and subtle challenge. Using sub-conventional grey zone tactics, Moscow has repeatedly tried, and at times succeeded, in expanding its influence, eroding international norms, undermining the rules-based in- ternational order, and shifting the balance of power in its favour. Preventing Russia from launching such op- portunistic acts of aggression is particularly import- ant because its armed forces are developing the ability to attack quickly – under the cover of increasingly capable defences – countries on their periphery in a clear effort to impose a fait accompli.1 NATO countries are at a particular disadvantage in this type of compe- tition. Their force structures consist of expensive and technologically complex information-gathering platforms, such as satellites and manned aircraft, which due to their high costs are also scarce and employed with reluctance by states who generally hesitate to put them in harm’s way. Additionally, the prohibitively high cost of these platforms deters some countries from investing in these types of capabilities. As debates within NATO about cash, capabilities and contributions continue to hold the stage, highlighting Allies’ needs for different types of capabilities – less expensive, more resilient, and relatively more disposable – is important.2 Equal- ly critical is the need for Allies to develop new concepts of operations as well as new organi-zations to employ them effectively. The solution may not involve fielding exotic new capabilities so much as employing existing ones in innovative ways. It will also benefit greatly from approaches that allow Allies and partners to participate fully. If we do not adapt, we risk being surprised by potentially catastrophic events in a future conflict.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, Eastern Europe, North America, Southern Europe
  • Author: Olivier Rittimann
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: What is commonly known as the “Ber- lin Plus” arrangements, signed in March 2003, provides for the European Union (EU) to draw upon NATO’s assets and capabilities for operations in which the Alliance would not be militarily involved. Following lengthy delays incurred by the Cyprus question, it was only as of 2003 that the agreement was successfully implemented with the transfer of operations from NATO to the EU in both the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2003) and then in Bosnia-Herzegovina (2004). The Berlin Plus agreement guarantees EU access to NATO planning capabilities, which contribute to EU- led military operations through the identification of command options, procedures for release and recall of NATO assets and capabilities, and the exchange of classified intelligence under reciprocal security protection rules. At the end of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia (1999), the EU had no defence staff fit to plan nor conduct an operation, and it is only fifteen years ago that member states established national Operation Headquarters (OHQ), which nations make available for EU operations, as was done in 2006 in the Demo- cratic Republic of Congo and in 2007 in Chad. At the end of the 1990s, the Berlin Plus proposal made em- inent sense: it prevented any duplication (by the EU) of assets and fostered the emergence of a European operational culture. But is the Arrangement still fit for purpose almost 20 years later?
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Chloe Berger, Cynthia Salloum
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Russia’s presence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a significant component of contemporary Russian foreign and security policy. Moscow’s approach to NATO’s South1 has undoubtedly undergone considerable change since the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, it had built a set of alliances with Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Algeria and Libya, among others, which gave Moscow important leverage throughout the region. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan stirred resistance and opposition in the Muslim world, marking a major turning point in its Middle Eastern foreign policy. With the demise of its empire, in addition to its economic and military weaknesses, Russia faced a series of new challenges: a further disintegration of its own south, notably in the South Caucasus, the rise of radical extremism in Chechnya and Dagestan and a NATO programme of partnerships and cooperation that threatened its influence. All of these constrained Moscow’s foreign policy at large, including its Middle Eastern arrangements. In pursuing interests above values, Russia, in the last twenty years, developed channels of dialogue and cooperation with several Sunni Arab states traditionally close to the US, including Saudi Arabia, while deepening diplomatic and military ties with Iran and the Syrian regime. Russia maintained relations with Fatah and recognized Hamas after it won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, while successfully engaging pragmatically with Israel.2 Keeping contacts open with all relevant parties marks continuity between Soviet and Russian foreign policies. Moreover, in the last decade, the increasing instability across the Middle East and North Africa after the Arab Spring, from which Moscow kept its distance, offered new opportunities for influence and power projection, most notably in Syria and Libya. Putin is tracking two main objectives there: one is building status as a regional actor; the other is enhancing his prestige domestically.3 From the Libyan power vacuum to the US retreat from Afghanistan, the Kremlin is making the most of strategic opportunities and may continue to do so. However, it remains to be seen whether its regained confidence will lead to a more permanent Russian presence and influence. In the South, Moscow has today a relative free rein. But an increasingly mature European Union and most importantly a powerful and more strategically oriented US under President Biden may seriously constrain Russia’s room for manoeuvre. Several drivers, ranging from domestic and economic politics to regional and global geopolitics, could explain Russian involvement in the MENA. Firstly, Russia is building a defensive strategy aimed at reinforcing its front line against Western encroachment and Islamist terrorist attacks. Secondly, it is displaying an expansionist drive, aimed at controlling at least parts of the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean by consolidating old alliances and building new coalitions including with business and arms traders. Thirdly, Russia’s presence in the MENA can be seen as a classic zero-sum game of power politics with the US whereby Moscow is trying to fill the void left by Washington. Last, but certainly not least, it is also driven by domestic considerations that strengthen Putin’s grip on power, and Russia’s regional influence and international prestige. While all these factors play a role, this edited volume shows that opportunism and contingency remain key variables to explain Russian behaviour in the MENA. All of these drivers were somehow on display in Syria, which became an ideal case-study to explain Russian policy in the South. Yet, beyond the specific rationale, some questions still remain about Russia’s future role and influence in the region. Is the MENA region significant enough to help Russia recover a status of global power beyond regional leadership? Do status and prestige suffice, and if so, at what cost? What are Russia’s current and future investments in the region and what are their consequences on trade, energy, and its military posture? What would the real benefits of a Russian return to the MENA region be for its economy and power? Most importantly, what would be the consequences of an assertive Russia for NATO and its partners in the South?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Andris Banka
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: In recent years NATO has markedly increased its presence in the Baltic states. Relatively “light”, yet highly diverse multinational forces have been placed across the Alliance’s frontline with an underly- ing objective: to deter Russia. In this effort, the United States has served as a critical ballast. The Pentagon has directed sophisticated military exercises and rotated US service members throughout the region. These mea- sures, however, often did not align with US President Donald Trump’s spoken words nor written tweets. This obvious dichotomy disoriented Allied governments and shook bedrock assumptions about US security commitments. As political power changes hands in Washington, this lends an opportunity for a retooling of the transatlantic partnership. Domestically, incoming US President Joe Biden ran on the platform “Build Back Better”. In the spirit of that slogan, this Policy Brief lays out policy cor- rectives that both sides of the Atlantic could pursue to strengthen the US-Baltic security link.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America