Friday, September 29, 2017

Geopolitical Futures

(Editor's Note: I just updated this post with  a link to their latest information about Spain, but the one thing that keeps coming through every article posted about Europe - the EU is doomed. RK)

A Fight Spain Can’t Win

By Jacob L. Shapiro

The autonomous Spanish community of Catalonia plans to hold an independence referendum on Oct. 1. The Spanish government intends to prevent that referendum from taking place ­– by any means necessary. Ironically, Spain’s crackdown, while predictable, exacerbates the very threat Spain is trying to subdue. Whether or not Madrid’s heavy-handed approach prevents a declaration of independence, in the long term it will only push more Catalans toward the conclusion that their future lies not with Spain but with themselves.  Spain, the European Union’s fourth-largest economy, sits on the verge of a major political crisis that it has no way of solving.

Nations Within Nations

This standoff is only the latest expression of an issue between Madrid and Barcelona that is almost a millennium old: the Catalan people’s desire to rule themselves. Present-day Catalonia has a culture, language and history that is unique and all its own. It has preserved this identity despite losing multiple wars for self-rule, and despite periods of intense suppression. Catalonia’s desire for independence played a major role in the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, another conflict in which Catalonia ended up on the losing side. Francisco Franco’s rule and repression of Catalonia after the war did nothing to dim Catalonia’s identity, or for that matter any of the identities of the various nations that today make up the Kingdom of Spain. ........ If Catalonia were to leave Spain, not only would roughly 20 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product disappear overnight, but it would also raise the possibility that other autonomous regions might be interested in national self-determination too...............To read more the post A Fight Spain Can’t Win appeared first on Geopolitical Futures.

Poland Challenges the European Identity

By George Friedman

I am writing this from a hotel room in Warsaw, surrounded by memorials to Frederic Chopin, the great Polish composer and champion of self-determination for the Polish people. This is a particularly appropriate time to be here, since Poland is locked in a battle with the European Union over the question of Polish national self-determination – more than two centuries after Chopin was born.
The issue comes down to this: Poland elected a government that pledged to change the direction in which the country was moving. The new government was of the right. It opposed the policies and institutional stance of the previous, left-of-center government. The previous government had embedded its followers in various institutions, such as the courts and national radio, as governments tend to do. The new government saw itself as facing a hostile judiciary and state-owned media. And so it sought to change the management of the state-owned media and “reform” (in its terms) the judiciary............

What makes the Polish situation different is the threatened intervention by the European Union bureaucracy and the vocal hostility of Germany to the new government’s policies. This includes threats to suspend Poland from participation in some EU functions and various hostile claims about the Polish government.......The Polish government’s misfeasance is not really about courts or broadcasting. Rather, it is about Poland deviating from the EU’s ideology...... has opposed unlimited immigration into Poland by Muslims, arguing that it would change the country’s national character. In other words, Poland has elevated national distinctions to a level unacceptable to the European Union. It insists that there is a Polish nation and that others with differing values cannot become part of it...........To Read more, the post Poland Challenges the European Identity appeared first on Geopolitical Futures.

An End in Sight for Ukraine … Maybe

By Jacob L. Shapiro

The conflict in Ukraine has developed an interminable quality. We are now over three years into the war in Donbass, and every day brings new updates on cease-fire violations or steps forward and backward on implementing the Minsk accord. This can make it hard to determine when conditions have actually changed. There have been a few key developments lately, however, that suggest real change is in the offing. The likeliest shape of this change is an acceptance of the stalemate and formalization of the status quo so that the fighting can finally stop. It’s a little too soon to say that this is what’s happening, but the early indicators are there. ............

Consider also that Russia is spending a lot of money to keep those separatist areas, Donetsk and Luhansk, afloat. The exact amount is impossible to know. A study by the German newspaper BILD concluded that Russia was spending 1 billion euros ($1.17 billion) a year on public service salaries and pensions alone in separatist Ukraine.......The Russian economy is not in a state that it can afford to throw money at a problem with no end in sight..........To read more the post An End in Sight for Ukraine … Maybe appeared first on Geopolitical Futures.

Eastern Europe’s Competitive Edge


Eastern Europe is the most dynamic part of the European continent. So great is its potential that it is among the subjects at our annual conference in October.  But before we can explain why this is, we must first define what we mean by Eastern Europe. For the purposes of this Deep Dive, Eastern Europe includes nine countries: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

We are, however, leaving out some countries that are widely considered Eastern European. We’ve excluded the Balkans, for example, because the geopolitics of that region is fundamentally different from the geopolitics of the countries we are including in our analysis. Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Russia are similarly often lumped into Eastern Europe, but they have different economic and political structures, so they should be dealt with separately. We are, however, including the Baltic states. They see themselves as part of Northern Europe rather than Eastern Europe but mostly out of a desire not to be called “eastern.” ............ To read more the post Eastern Europe’s Competitive Edge appeared first on Geopolitical Futures.


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