Edge of Change (Issue 014)

| | 10-07-2018, 16:35

Macron Has Changed France’s Political DNA (by James Traub)

5 June 2018

James Traub, contemplating about the major outcomes of the first year of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency in France, claims that he has managed to bring a substantially new approach to the country’ politics. Being rightly seen as technocratic and a supporter of top-down governance, Macron, in order to overcome the perennial ills of overregulated French economy, has tried to bring revolutionary changes to the country’s labour legislation. The author argues that rather low rating of Macron does not attest to his lack of success: the French are known for being skeptical towards politicians, and his seemingly unpopular reforms are in fact endorsed by a clear majority of the citizens. However, the President has made a lot of promises when he came to power, and the failure to deliver on at least some of them may significantly backfire.


This Isn’t Your Father’s OPEC Anymore (by Jason Bordoff)

26 June 2018

Jason Bordoff gives a deep insight of new reincarnated version of OPEC, wherein Saudi Arabia’s role has become crucial. OPEC’s price-capping decision taken in Vienna during last week’s meeting was effectively taken by Saudi Arabia rather than OPEC. Considering the Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak’s statement about Moscow’s alignment with Riyadh, it is obvious that OPEC’s second most important player now is Russia, despite not being member of the organisation. Russia’s new role in managing global oil prices marks a new point of influence for Moscow in its strained relationship with Washington. This brings us to the third major message from last week’s OPEC meeting, namely that America’s shale energy boom hasn’t increased U.S. influence over global oil markets.


China will not tolerate US military muscle-flexing off our shores (by Liu Xiaoming)

27 June 2018

Edge of Change (Issue 014)The U.S. is sending its naval vessels and aircraft carriers to the South China Sea under pretext of safeguarding “freedom of navigation” in the region. Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, argues that in order to understand the real situation four main questions require a clear answer: What freedom of navigation is? Is there any problem with freedom of navigation in the South China Sea? The third question concerns militarisation of the South China Sea, whilethe last one regards conditions upon which peace and stability can be guaranteed in the South China Sea. China respects and supports freedom of navigation, according to international law- but freedom of navigation is not a freedom to run amok. If the countries flexing their muscles in the South China Seareally care about freedom of navigation, they should respect the efforts of China and ASEAN countries to safeguard peace and stability, stop showing off naval ships and aircraft to “militarise” the region, and let the South China Sea be a sea of peace.


England Rising (by Jason Cowley)

4 July 2018

In his voluminous essay, The New Statesman’s editor tries to figure it what English identity is and in what ways it influences British politics. Citing the unexpected success of the England football team at the World Cup, he claims that it is one of few positive expressions of English identity in a country ravaged by decades-long contradictions and cleavages. Brexit has just revealed and exacerbated these tensions that have been long eating into the civic fabric, while the political class seems to be unable to offer a proper solution on them. So, Mr. Cowley concludes, the fact that the approach of the football team coach suddenly seems the most reasonable one, is a bad sign for the current state of the British politics. 


Strongmen Die, but Authoritarianism Is Forever (by Steven A. Cook)

5 July 2018

The article argues that the authoritarian leaders’ ability to shape political institutions is often overlooked. The author, bringing the examples of Turkey, Poland and Hungary, shows that democracy is well reversible and that these countries’ current leaders have strengthened their power via shaping the intricacies of political institutions, both formal and informal, to their favour. As the history shows, these changes can outlast those who made them and determine political landscape in a country for decades afterwards. 


A dark time for democracy in Turkey (by Gunnar Köhne)

9 July 2018

A personally customized constitution allows the Turkish president to govern the country by decree, with nearly unlimited power. The parliament will play almost no role as a result of the extensive disempowerment, which will place the country in the same category as Egypt or Russia. However, unlike Egypt and Russia, the political opposition in Turkey is backed by nearly half of the population and Erdogan is taking a big risk if he thinks that he and his supporters can preside over the rest of the country. Although a dark period is beginning for the supporters of democracy in Turkey, Germany and Europe should not leave the opposition alone in the future. The EU should guarantee safety to dissidents forced to flee Turkey and increase the pressure on Ankara.


Liberal Europe isn’t dead yet. But its defenders face a long, hard struggle (by Timothy Garton Ash)

9 July 2018

This piece tries to explain the key reasons of rise of populist parties in Europe and tasks to be fulfilled by liberals to fightback. Liberals’ failure to address new issues such as migration, fear and insecurity in the workplace as a result of the digital revolution played into the hands of Orbvini camp (the Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán and the Italian populist deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini). In order to recover radical policies such as a universal basic income or a basic job guarantee will be required. Liberal Europe has to find ways of addressing deep emotional needs for community and identity that populists exploit. To complement Europeanism and internationalism, a positive, civic patriotism is needed.


NATO in the Age of Trump (by Julianne Smith, Jim Townsend)

9 July 2018

The authors of this Foreign Affairs piece analyze the state of the NATO in the wake of the 2018 Summit to take place in Brussels. Despite the unprecedentedly cold attitude of the current U.S. President Trump to the Alliance, they do not hold an alarmist view regarding its future, and emphasize that there has been significant progress in some areas since the Russian annexation of Crimea that was a complete shock for NATO: more states now fulfill the requirement of spending at least 2% of their GDP on defense, cyberspace has been finally designated as a potential theatre of war with due strategic adjustments being made, and the Eastern flank of NATO in Poland and Baltics was significantly strengthened. However, for the ability to retain its global grip, the Alliance still depends on a handful of its most powerful members, primarily U.S., and Trump’s policies remain a significant obstacle for its development.