All posts filed under: Europe

Ratko Mladić’s Conviction and why the Evidence of Mass Graves Still Matters

Ratko Mladić has been convicted of genocide and persecution, extermination, murder and the inhumane act of forcible transfer in the area of Srebrenica in 1995. He was also found guilty of persecution, extermination, murder, deportation and inhumane act of forcible transfer in municipalities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and of murder, terror and unlawful attacks on civilians in Sarajevo. In addition, the former Bosnian Serb army general was convicted for the hostage-taking of UN personnel. But he was acquitted of the charge of genocide in several municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. The events that occurred in and around the Srebrenica enclave between July 10-19 1995, where an estimated 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, mostly men and boys, lost their lives, are well documented. These atrocities, culminating in the “biggest single mass murder in Europe” since World War II, not only resulted in a tremendous loss of life and emotionally scarred survivors, it also left behind a landscape filled with human remains and mass graves. Forensic investigations into the Srebrenica massacre assisted in convicting Mladić, who stood …

The Poverty of Cosmopolitan Historicism

When the Soviet Union fell, Marxist utopianism came to an end. In the decades since, a new breed of utopianism has gripped the collective imagination. Cosmopolitanism dreams of a borderless world united in peace and understanding, and it is underpinned by a powerful narrative of historical progress that has much in common with its Marxist cousin. Its name is cosmopolitan historicism. In The Open Society and its Enemies, Karl Popper wrote that “we may become the makers of our fate when we have ceased to pose as its prophets”. In Popper’s view, historicism was defined by its simplistic understanding of history, viewed as an unfolding of inexorable iron laws. Based on what they saw as their unique insight into these presumed laws, historicists issued wild prophecies about the future of human society. For this they were mercilessly critiqued by Popper. In his eyes, dogmatic attachment to a utopian blueprint provided by what was understood as history’s ultimate destination caused historicist zealots to doggedly push ahead toward the end of history while ignoring signs that their …

Austria’s Snap Election and the End of the Grand Coalition

It’s been a busy year of voting across Europe. Elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany have dictated even the international news. On October 15, Austrians will go to the polls. A prosperous country at the heart of Europe, it has become used to relatively predictable politics. Two parties – the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) – have dominated political life since the end of WW2. Yet Austria is also home to one of Europe’s most successful populist radical-right parties, the Freedom Party (FPÖ). Comparisons between the FPÖ and the French National Front or German Alternative for Germany are unavoidable. Even though these parties share more enemies than policies, talk of a ‘populist international’ movement is now rather crudely used to explain their rise. It’s true that the political, economic, and social shifts present in Austria have been visible across the EU. Parties have converged, markets have opened up, post-materialism is on the rise. But the FPÖ’s success is also a product of Austria’s very specific history and more recent political dynamics. …

Sweden’s Sexual Assault Crisis Presents a Feminist Paradox

Sweden prides itself on being a beacon of feminism. It has the most generous parental leave in the developed world, providing for 18 months off work, 15 of which can be used by fathers as paternity leave. A quarter of the paid parental leave is indeed used by men, and this is too little according to the Swedish government, which has made it a political priority to get fathers to stay at home longer with their children. Sweden has never ranked lower than four in The Global Gender Gap Report, which has measured equality in economics, politics, education, and health for the World Economic Forum since 2006. Of all members of Parliament, 44 percent are women, compared to 19 percent of the United States Congress. Nearly two-thirds of all university degrees are awarded to women. Its government boasts that it is the “first feminist government” in the world, averring that gender equality is central to its priorities in decision-making and resource allocation. But while Swedish women rank among the most equal in the world, they increasingly …

Nationalism, Liberalism and the European Paradox

Imagine for a moment that an ethnic group declared a referendum of independence in an Asian country and the nation state in question promptly sought to take the act of rebellion down. Imagine that in the ensuing chaos over 800 people were injured in a brutal police crackdown. Imagine the international disgust if this had happened in Asia, or the Middle East, or Latin America, or even in parts of Eastern and Central Europe. There would be calls for interventions, the topic would be urgently raised at the Security Council —and there might even be talks of sanctions or the arming of moderate rebels. Of course, nothing of that sort happened as the Spanish state declared the Catalonian independence referendum a farce. Despite threats and coercion, over 2.2 million people voted in the Catalonian referendum—as the Spanish Guardia Civil attempted to crush the protesters—and  clashing with Catalan local police. Of the Catalans who managed to vote, 90% voted for independence. And today, thousands of people took to the streets in nationalist rallies in both Madrid …

The German Election—A Conservative Analysis

The Germans have a word for everything, as they say on this side of the English Channel. The German word, for the leader of opposition is Oppositionsführer, and suddenly in a strange twist of fate seems surprisingly apt. After 60 years of post-Cold war consensus, the far-right is back in German parliament in a poll defying show, scoring 13.5% of the vote. The unlikely Oppositionsführer however, is a lesbian West German single mother, academic and former banker, who is fluent in Mandarin, and whose partner claims Sinhalese heritage. Unusual for a far-right party in Mittel-Europa, whose standard demographic is anti-immigrant, primarily East German males, and who are instinctively opposed to LGBT rights. Germany is a country which takes politics seriously. Chancellor Angela Merkel is an academic herself. So is Alice Weidel, the unlikely star leader of AFD. Yet, for a nation which is so thoroughly qualified and post-modern, and regarded the most stable in Europe, Germany proved once again, that even in 2017, it has not bypassed the golden rule of classical Burkean conservatism. For …

The Islamist Decompression Chamber

The Islamic State (IS) is unique among terrorist groups. Its ability to inspire terrorist acts beyond the scope of its core militants far outscores that of Al-Qaeda and others. Understanding the specific peculiarities of IS will enable us to assess why our regular security procedures have failed to protect us, and what has to change. Looking back at the last 5 years one wonders how this relatively young and loose organization managed to secure such a morbid record compared to that of more mature and structured entities. The answer lies in its capacity to outsource most of its radicalization effort, crucial to the efficiency of its propaganda, to entities that pursue their task legally in the West. It is on our soil, in the blind spots of the law, that these groups proselytize an agenda of religious and cultural hegemony to the Muslim youth. These organisations are not taking orders directly from Raqqa but, willingly or not, they participate of an eco-system which IS exploits in order to further its objectives. Traditional militancy required careful …