France’s anger at the US-UK-Australia (AUKUS) deal to build nuclear submarines in Australia is palpable but understandable, since Australia has reneged on a multi-billion-euro contract signed with France to supply twelve submarines to Australia. In an unprecedented outburst, Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Foreign Minister, has accused Australia and the U.S. of ‘duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt’, recalling French ambassadors for consultations. Dismissing Britain as a ‘third wheel’ indulging in ‘constant opportunism’, he said that there was no need to recall his ambassador to London. Here, the implication is that the post-Brexit UK is not even worth the candle. We shall explore in this article whether France is just huffing and puffing in a face-saving gesture or whether her apparent stance could have major implications for NATO and European defense. But first, a spot of history.
From Gaullism to Inconsistency
In 1966, France left NATO’s integrated military structure and expelled NATO headquarters, which moved up the road to Brussels. De Gaulle had proposed the creation of a tripartite NATO, whereby France, the United Kingdom and the United States would be put on an equal footing for the purposes of discussing nuclear strategy. The U.S. and UK refused, leading to France’s withdrawal. By 1999, however, France was in full fling, joining NATO’s illegal attack on Serbia, though swinging back later, along with Germany, in condemning the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. Then, under the Blair-friendly President Sarkozy, France rejoined the integrated military structure of NATO in 2009, playing a major role in destroying Libya two years later. To add to France’s post-Gaullist tendency to vacillate, the nation came to renege on the deal, just before its delivery, to provide Russia with two Mistral helicopter carriers, while having to repay Moscow. The Anglo-Saxon pressure on France in the wake of the Crimea’s return to Russia proved too strong for an allegedly independent France. It can be seen here that France did to Russia what AUKUS is now doing to France, thus suggesting an element of hypocrisy. To add to this French bipolar disorder in her foreign/military policy, President Macron described NATO as ‘brain dead’ only two years ago.
The big question now is whether France is serious about returning to an independent foreign and military policy. If she sticks to her guns, à la de Gaulle, we could then be witnessing an important shift in the distribution of power in the world and, perhaps paradoxically, an improvement of relations between the EU on the one hand, and Russia and China on the other, notwithstanding NATO cheerleaders like Poland and the Baltic statelets. In (neo-)Gaullist terms, this would imply a supranational and independent EU defense force, with France playing a central role nevertheless, albeit with German consent. To understand this, we need to turn to some more history.
The Cold War and an EU Army
The U.S., initially under British pressure on President Truman, decided that it must control what it could of post-war Europe, although in a more overtly benign non-Stalinist, yet CIA-instigated, fashion. Hence the Marshall Plan, the Brussels Treaty Organization (BTO), the (abortive) European Defense Community (EDC) and the subsequent Western European Union, which served as a politically acceptable bridge to accept West Germany to NATO as a full-fledged member. Moscow was again put on the defensive, as in 1812 and 1941.
A genuinely independent European army would have been unacceptable to the U.S.: even the EDC would have depended on NATO, as Article 6 of the treaty made it clear. NATO was shaken by de Gaulle’s withdrawing France in 1966 from its integrated military structure—but not really stirred—although the Gaullist France continued to annoy the Anglo-Saxons with its balancing policy and thus a friendlier attitude towards Moscow than most dared to entertain.
NATO—but essentially the U.S. and the UK—became increasingly worried at any tendency of the EU going it alone in its defense policies, not only during the Gaullist era but later as well, because of French and German opposition to the invasion of Iraq, which remains a badly damaged country. But Merkel and Sarkozy then went on to betray Chirac and Schröder.
The transmogrification of French and German policies was truly remarkable. Sarkozy, in particular, overturned the traditional Gaullist policy of independence, bringing France back into the integrated military structure of NATO. Since then, the EU has essentially been a strategic Cold War tool of the U.S., supported in particular by Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania as well as by France and Germany, however, in a more lukewarm fashion.
Some half-hearted attempts were made to give the EU a more independent military identity, hence the European Security and Defense Initiative/Policy/Personality (ESDI/P). This was still to be subject to NATO, since it would only operate in areas where NATO was not engaged. In other words, with NATO agreement. The manic NATO-sponsored EU-enlargement of 2004, virtually synonymous with NATO enlargement, turned the embryonic and battered European defense identity into a damp squib: first, the West European Armaments Group (set up in 1976) died in 2005. Then, the West European Armaments Organization, set up in 1996, died in 2006, probably to be followed by the still existing European Defense Agency. Then, in 2009, the ESDP was subsumed into the Common Foreign and Defense Policy. All these acronymic gyrations were, of course, meant to give expression to the Treaty of Maastricht’s (1992) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
If anyone is feeling slightly confused by now, then you have understood: it is indeed a confusing story, characterized by disorganization and a lack of leadership, which naturally suits the U.S. military-congressional-industrial complex, whose main aim, some would think, is to demonize Russia and China as well as create a war on terror—if selective—in order to emphasize NATO’s primacy over the EU. To add to the lack of leadership, it is important to remember that there is little agreement among the countries that belong to both the EU and NATO, with Greece, Cyprus and Turkey being prime examples. To complicate matters further, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden are members of the EU but not of NATO, although the U.S. would dearly love to welcome them in. Then we have the NATO-member Norway, which is not in the EU, and, of course, Cyprus, which is in the EU but not in NATO, although it has to be said that because of the British-occupied parts of Cyprus, the latter’s territory is de facto in NATO.
It is time to make a perhaps obvious point: as the Ukraine experience has shown, and is showing, the U.S. is paranoid about a Russia-friendly EU, since that might lead not only to the end of NATO as we know it, but even to a genuinely European supranational force in a few years’ time, which is friendly towards Russia and which will promote European defense industries to the obvious detriment of U.S. shareholders in arms companies. The U.S. is nevertheless quite happy to encourage and sponsor EU defense initiatives, only as long as they are directed against Russia and controlled by Washington in one form or another, as history demonstrates.
The possibility of the twenty-eight EU members actually agreeing to a supranational army is a pipe dream, since Poland and the Baltic statelets, at the very least, would never agree to sever military links with the U.S. Britain, which would never contemplate severing its military links with the U.S., can be guaranteed to fight tooth and nail, together with its strategic master, against a supranational European army.
This may result, however, in the interesting possibility of a two-tier Europe, at least in defense, led by the Franco-Germans: an inner core with its own defense and spending, probably friendly towards Moscow, with its own European standardized weapons, to the chagrin of U.S. shareholders; and an outer core of U.S.-friendly and Russophobe states. We should be reminded here that the first thing that Poland did on entering the EU was purchase 4 billion dollars’ worth of U.S. military aircraft, infuriating European manufacturers. With a strong Russia and an EU army independent of NATO, however, it would only be a matter of time before Poland and the Baltic states accepted the reality to join the EU army or declare themselves neutral.
The alternative to the EU military independence is an EU that continues to obey U.S. diktats, with the concomitant threat to world stability, through a profit-mad arms race. Here, we can recall how France succumbed to U.S. pressure, breaking its contract with Russia to deliver two helicopter carriers, when they had been built and were about to be delivered. This obviously connects to U.S. pressure on Germany to destroy the North Stream II gas pipeline, even though it now only needs the final German go-ahead.
Recent developments suggest that France and Germany are both worried about U.S./NATO muscle-flexing: they were recently reported by Bloomberg to have dismissed as ‘provocative’ Washington’s pressure on them to perform naval drills near the Kerch Strait. Perhaps, we are seeing a slow return to some sort of sanity. The expediently independent attitude of the Italian government is also one encouraging sign. They are, for example ignoring Washington’s threats and are pushing to join China’s Silk Road. All roads lead to Rome, as they say.
At any event, only history exists: it was William Pitt the Younger who, arguably, began the Cold War by criticizing Russia in 1791 for wishing to dismember the Ottoman Empire. The hysterical anti-Russian mentality is still with us today. It was always more anti-Russian than anti-Communist, the latter being an excuse to feed to the masses, in order to disguise hard-nosed business interests.
In the immediate term, France could offer to sell China some nuclear submarines, delivering a major slap in the face to the Anglo-Saxons. China represents France’s largest bilateral trade deficit (€29.2 billion in 2018). A major military sale to China would offset the trade imbalance. This putative sale is, however, unlikely, as France is apparently concerned at China’s stance regarding the South China Sea. Yet, only ten years ago, the Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Ma Xiaotian, remarked that the two countries enjoy a high degree of mutual political trust, and the bilateral economic and trade co-operation between them is rapidly expanding. He further said that the Chinese side was willing to work together with France to develop the Sino-French comprehensive strategic partnership.
For now, however, direct French military assistance to China is unlikely, if anything because France still has Pacific interests that are incompatible with China’s. Thus, in the wake of the AUKUS deal, France is more likely to further enhance its military co-operation with India. India and France had already decided to intensify defense co-operation early this year, with Paris offering to shift production of Panther medium-utility helicopters as well as 70 per cent of the assembly line for Rafale fighters under the ‘Make in India’ rubric, accompanied by a full transfer of technology. It is eminently possible that France’s military co-operation with India annoyed the U.S. military-industrial-congressional complex, and it may well have justified the AUKUS deal in Washington’s and London’s minds.
Prediction is a risky game, especially given the vagaries of individual and corporate human behavior. We may, however, be witnessing a French-led latter-day Gaullist attempt to clip the wings of Anglo-Saxon and NATO attempts to continue/restart (depending on your view) the Cold War. The aim would be to establish a multipolar world, with enough checks and balances to prevent illegal attacks on sovereign states, à la Belgrade, Libya and Iraq.
From our partner RIAC
Iceland’s Historic(al) Elections
The morning of September, 26 was a good one for Lenya Run Karim of the Pirate Party. Once the preliminary results were announced, things were clear: the 21-year-old law student of the University of Iceland, originating from a Kurdish immigrant family, had become the youngest MP in the country’s history.
In historical significance, however, this event was second to another. Iceland, the world champion in terms of gender equality, became the first country in Europe to have more women MPs than men, 33 versus 30. The news immediately made world headlines: only five countries in the world have achieved such impressive results. Remarkably, all are non-European: Rwanda, Nicaragua and Cuba have a majority of women in parliament, while Mexico and the UAE have an equal number of male and female MPs.
Nine hours later, news agencies around the world had to edit their headlines. The recount in the Northwest constituency affected the outcome across the country to delay the ‘triumph for women’ for another four years.
Small numbers, big changes
The Icelandic electoral system is designed so that 54 out of the 63 seats in the Althingi, the national parliament, are primary or constituency seats, while another nine are equalization seats. Only parties passing the 5 per cent threshold are allowed to distribute equalisation seats that go to the candidates who failed to win constituency mandates and received the most votes in their constituency. However, the number of equalisation mandates in each of the 6 constituencies is legislated. In theory, this could lead to a situation in which the leading party candidate in one constituency may simply lack an equalisation mandate, so the leading candidate of the same party—but in another constituency—receives it.
This is what happened this year. Because of a difference of only ten votes between the Reform Party and the Pirate Party, both vying for the only equalisation mandate in the Northwest, the constituency’s electoral commission announced a recount on its own initiative. There were also questions concerning the counting procedure as such: the ballots were not sealed but simply locked in a Borgarnes hotel room. The updated results hardly affected the distribution of seats between the parties, bringing in five new MPs, none of whom were women, with the 21-year-old Lenya Run Karim replaced by her 52-year-old party colleague.
In the afternoon of September, 27, at the request of the Left-Green Movement, supported by the Independence Party, the Pirates and the Reform Party, the commission in the South announced a recount of their own—the difference between the Left-Greens and the Centrists was only seven votes. There was no ‘domino effect’, as in the case of the Northwest, as the five-hour recount showed the same result. Recounts in other districts are unlikely, nor is it likely that Althingi—vested with the power to declare the elections valid—would invalidate the results in the Northwest. Nevertheless, the ‘replaced’ candidates have already announced their intention to appeal against the results, citing violations of ballot storage procedures. Under the Icelandic law, this is quite enough to invalidate the results and call a re-election in the Northwest, as the Supreme Court of Iceland invalidated the Constitutional Council elections due to a breach of procedure 10 years ago. Be that as it may, the current score remains 33:30, in favor of men.
Progressives’ progress and threshold for socialists
On the whole, there were no surprises: the provisional allocation of mandates resembles, if with minor changes, the opinion polls on the eve of the election.
The ruling three-party coalition has rejuvenated its position, winning 37 out of the 63 Althingi seats. The centrist Progressive Party saw a real electoral triumph, improving its 2017 result by five seats. Prime-minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s Left-Green Movement, albeit with a slight loss, won eight seats, surpassing all pre-election expectations. Although the centre-right Independence Party outperformed everyone again to win almost a quarter of all votes, 16 seats are one of the worst results of the Icelandic ‘Grand Old Party’ ever.
The results of the Social-Democrats, almost 10% versus 12.1% in 2017, and of the Pirates, 8.6% versus 9.2%, have deteriorated. Support for the Centre Party of Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, former prime-minister and victim of the Panama Papers, has halved from 10.9% to 5.4%. The centrists have seen a steady decline in recent years, largely due to a sexist scandal involving party MPs. The populist People’s Party and the pro-European Reform Party have seen gains of 8.8% and 8.3%, as compared to 6.9% and 6.7% in the previous elections.
Of the leading Icelandic parties, only the Socialist Party failed to pass the 5 per cent threshold: despite a rating above 7% in August, the Socialists received only 4.1% of the vote.
Coronavirus, climate & economy
Healthcare and the fight against COVID-19 was, expectedly, on top of the agenda of the elections: 72% of voters ranked it as the defining issue, according to a Fréttablaðið poll. Thanks to swift and stringent measures, the Icelandic government brought the coronavirus under control from day one, and the country has enjoyed one of the lowest infection rates in the world for most of the time. At the same time, the pandemic exposed a number of problems in the national healthcare system: staff shortages, low salaries and long waiting lists for emergency surgery.
Climate change, which Icelanders are already experiencing, was an equally important topic. This summer, the temperature has not dropped below 20°C for 59 days, an anomaly for a North-Atlantic island. However, Icelanders’ concerns never converted into increased support for the four left-leaning parties advocating greater reductions in CO2 emission than the country has committed to under the Paris Agreement: their combined result fell by 0.5%.
The economy and employment were also among the main issues in this election. The pandemic has severely damaged the island nation’s economy, which is heavily tourism-reliant—perhaps, unsurprisingly, many Icelanders are in favor of reviving the tourism sector as well as diversifying the economy further.
The EU membership, by far a ‘traditional’ issue in Icelandic politics, is unlikely to be featured on the agenda of the newly-elected parliament as the combined result of the Eurosceptics, despite a loss of 4%, still exceeds half of the overall votes. The new Althingi will probably face the issue of constitutional reform once again, which is only becoming more topical in the light of the pandemic and the equalization mandates story.
New (old) government?
The parties are to negotiate coalition formation. The most likely scenario now is that the ruling coalition of the Independence Party, the Left-Greens and the Progressives continues. It has been the most ideologically diverse and the first three-party coalition in Iceland’s history to last a full term. A successful fight against the pandemic has only strengthened its positions and helped it secure additional votes. Independence Party leader and finance minister Bjarni Benediktsson has earlier said he would be prepared to keep the ruling coalition if it holds the majority. President Guðni Jóhannesson announced immediately after the elections that he would confirm the mandate of the ruling coalition to form a new government if the three parties could strike a deal.
Other developments are possible but unlikely. Should the Left-Greens decide to leave the coalition, they could be replaced by the Reform Party or the People’s Party, while any coalition without the Independence Party can only be a four-party or larger coalition.
Who will become the new prime-minister still remains to be seen—but if the ruling coalition remains in place, the current prime-minister and leader of the Left-Greens, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, stands a good chance of keeping her post: she is still the most popular politician in Iceland with a 40 per cent approval rate.
The 2021 Althingi election, with one of the lowest turnouts in history at 80.1%, has not produced a clear winner. The election results reflect a Europe-wide trend in which traditional “major” parties are losing support. The electorate is fragmenting and their votes are pulled by smaller new parties. The coronavirus pandemic has only reinforced this trend.
The 2021 campaign did not foreshadow a sensation. Although Iceland has not become the first European country with a women’s majority in parliament, these elections will certainly go down in history as a test of Icelanders’ trust to their own democracy.
From our partner RIAC
EU-Balkan Summit: No Set Timeframe for Western Balkans Accession
On October 6, Slovenia hosted a summit between the EU and the Western Balkans states. The EU-27 met with their counterparts (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo) in the sumptuous Renaissance setting of Brdo Castle, 30 kilometers north of the capital, Ljubljana. Despite calls from a minority of heads of state and government, there were no sign of a breakthrough on the sensitive issue of enlargement. The accession of these countries to the European Union is still not unanimous among the 27 EU member states.
During her final tour of the Balkans three weeks ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the peninsula’s integration was of “geostrategic” importance. On the eve of the summit, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz backed Slovenia’s goal of integrating this zone’s countries into the EU by 2030.
However, the unanimity required to begin the hard negotiations is still a long way off, even for the most advanced countries in the accession process, Albania and North Macedonia. Bulgaria, which is already a member of the EU, is opposing North Macedonia’s admission due to linguistic and cultural differences. Since Yugoslavia’s demise, Sofia has rejected the concept of Macedonian language, insisting that it is a Bulgarian dialect, and has condemned the artificial construction of a distinct national identity.
Other countries’ reluctance to join quickly is of a different nature. France and the Netherlands believe that previous enlargements (Bulgaria and Romania in 2007) have resulted in changes that must first be digested before the next round of enlargement. The EU-27 also demand that all necessary prior guarantees be provided regarding the independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption in these countries. Despite the fact that press freedom is a requirement for membership, the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged the EU to make “support for investigative and professional journalism” a key issue at the summit.”
While the EU-27 have not met since June, the topic of Western Balkans integration is competing with other top priorities in the run-up to France’s presidency of the EU in the first half of 2022. On the eve of the summit, a working dinner will be held, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, called for “a strategic discussion on the role of the Union on the international scene” in his letter of invitation to the EU-Balkans Summit, citing “recent developments in Afghanistan,” the announcement of the AUKUS pact between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, which has enraged Paris.
The Western Balkans remain the focal point of an international game of influence in which the Europeans seek to maintain their dominance. As a result, the importance of reaffirming a “European perspective” at the summit was not an overstatement. Faced with the more frequent incursion of China, Russia, and Turkey in that European region, the EU has pledged a 30 billion euro Economic and Investment Plan for 2021-2027, as well as increased cooperation, particularly to deal with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Opening the borders, however, is out of the question. In the absence of progress on this issue, Albania, North Macedonia, and Serbia have decided to establish their own zone of free movement (The Balkans are Open”) beginning January 1, 2023. “We are starting today to do in the region what we will do tomorrow in the EU,” said Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama when the agreement was signed last July.
This initiative, launched in 2019 under the name “Mini-Schengen” and based on a 1990s idea, does not have the support of the entire peninsular region, which remains deeply divided over this project. While Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro are not refusing to be a part of it and are open to discussions, the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, who took office in 2020, for his part accuses Serbia of relying on this project to recreate “a fourth Yugoslavia”
Tensions between Balkan countries continue to be an impediment to European integration. The issue of movement between Kosovo and Serbia has been a source of concern since the end of September. Two weeks of escalation followed Kosovo’s decision to prohibit cars with Serbian license plates from entering its territory, in response to Serbia’s long-standing prohibition on allowing vehicles to pass in the opposite direction.
In response to the mobilization of Kosovar police to block the road, Serbs in Kosovo blocked roads to their towns and villages, and Serbia deployed tanks and the air force near the border. On Sunday, October 3, the conflict seemed to be over, and the roads were reopened. However, the tone had been set three days before the EU-Balkans summit.
German Election: Ramifications for the US Foreign Policy
In the recent German election, foreign policy was scarcely an issue. But Germany is an important element in the US foreign policy. There is a number of cases where Germany and the US can cooperate, but all of these dynamics are going to change very soon.
The Germans’ strategic culture makes it hard to be aligned perfectly with the US and disagreements can easily damage the relations. After the tension between the two countries over the Iraq war, in 2003, Henry Kissinger said that he could not imagine the relations between Germany and the US could be aggravated so quickly, so easily, which might end up being the “permanent temptation of German politics”. For a long time, the US used to provide security for Germany during the Cold War and beyond, so, several generations are used to take peace for granted. But recently, there is a growing demand on them to carry more burden, not just for their own security, but for international peace and stability. This demand was not well-received in Berlin.
Then, the environment around Germany changed and new threats loomed up in front of them. The great powers’ competition became the main theme in international relations. Still, Germany was not and is not ready for shouldering more responsibility. Politicians know this very well. Ursula von der Leyen, who was German defense minister, asked terms like “nuclear weapons” and “deterrence” be removed from her speeches.
Although on paper, all major parties appreciate the importance of Germany’s relations with the US, the Greens and SPD ask for a reset in the relations. The Greens insist on the European way in transatlantic relations and SPD seeks more multilateralism. Therefore, alignment may be harder to maintain in the future. However, If the tensions between the US and China heat up to melting degrees, then external pressure can overrule the internal pressure and Germany may accede to its transatlantic partners, just like when Helmut Schmid let NATO install medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe after the Soviet Union attacked Afghanistan and the Cold War heated up.
According to the election results, now three coalitions are possible: grand coalition with CDU/CSU and SPD, traffic lights coalition with SPD, FDP, and Greens, Jamaica coalition with CDU/CSU, FDP, and Greens. Jamaica coalition will more likely form the most favorable government for the US because it has both CDU and FDP, and traffic lights will be the least favorite as it has SPD. The grand coalition can maintain the status quo at best, because contrary to the current government, SPD will dominate CDU.
To understand nuances, we need to go over security issues to see how these coalitions will react to them. As far as Russia is concerned, none of them will recognize the annexation of Crimea and they all support related sanctions. However, if tensions heat up, any coalition government with SPD will be less likely assertive. On the other hand, as the Greens stress the importance of European values like democracy and human rights, they tend to be more assertive if the US formulates its foreign policy by these common values and describe US-China rivalry as a clash between democracy and authoritarianism. Moreover, the Greens disapprove of the Nordstream project, of course not for its geopolitics. FDP has also sided against it for a different reason. So, the US must follow closely the negotiations which have already started between anti-Russian smaller parties versus major parties.
For relations with China, pro-business FDP is less assertive. They are seeking for developing EU-China relations and deepening economic ties and civil society relations. While CDU/CSU and Greens see China as a competitor, partner, and systemic rival, SPD and FDP have still hopes that they can bring change through the exchange. Thus, the US might have bigger problems with the traffic lights coalition than the Jamaica coalition in this regard.
As for NATO and its 2 percent of GDP, the division is wider. CDU/CSU and FDP are the only parties who support it. So, in the next government, it might be harder to persuade them to pay more. Finally, for nuclear participation, the situation is the same. CDU/CSU is the only party that argues for it. This makes it an alarming situation because the next government has to decide on replacing Germany’s tornados until 2024, otherwise Germany will drop out of the NATO nuclear participation.
The below table gives a brief review of these three coalitions. 1 indicates the lowest level of favoritism and 3 indicates the highest level of favoritism. As it shows, the most anti-Russia coalition is Jamaica, while the most anti-China coalition is Trafic light. Meanwhile, Grand Coalition is the most pro-NATO coalition. If the US adopts a more normative foreign policy against China and Russia, then the Greens and FDP will be more assertive in their anti-Russian and anti-Chinese policies and Germany will align more firmly with the US if traffic light or Jamaica coalition rise to power.
|Issues Coalitions||Trafic Light||Grand Coalition||Jamaica|
1 indicates the lowest level of favoritism. 3 indicates the highest level of favoritism.
In conclusion, this election should not make Americans any happier. The US has already been frustrated with the current government led by Angela Merkel who gave Germany’s trade with China the first priority, and now that the left-wing will have more say in any imaginable coalition in the future, the Americans should become less pleased. But, still, there are hopes that Germany can be a partner for the US in great power competition if the US could articulate its foreign policy with common values, like democracy and human rights. More normative foreign policy can make a reliable partner out of Germany. Foreign policy rarely became a topic in this election, but observers should expect many ramifications for it.
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