11 Comments

Your articles are an antidote to the media who try to pull you in one way or another. Please keep up the good work.

In the short term support for Ukraine is vital if we are not to repeat the late 1930’s again. For Hitler read Putin. In the longer term all countries must reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. Both big challenges indeed ......

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Dec 17, 2023·edited Dec 17, 2023

Is it not possible that the EU won't be either of these things you discuss but remain conflicted, moving in different directions, then back again, as we see now? I guess I am simply wary of assuming anything will ever be black and white. That said, thank you for these newsletters and your long perspective on events and their context.

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More on economics, since that’s in the end where much will be decided.

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Right balance to me - any hope though of original articles as I have usually read those in newspapers already. Happy Christmas and New Year!

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If you are seeking feedback I am happy to provide. Your commentary is reasonable and accurate but it stops at precisely the same point other people's commentary does. You recognise the threat of the populist right, but you stop short of examining precisely why there is so much public discontent for them to exploit - without this discontent they would have marginal support.

The easiest issue to point out is external immigration which the mainstream political oligarchy quietly accept which enrages the public. The same exact scenario exists in enforcement of neo-liberal economics. There are good reasons why people are angry but when they use the only weapon they have - voting for someone else - they are scandalised as "deplorables". Brexit would not have happened if the political elites looked after mainstream people. Modern Europe is the product of social democracy which was built upon advancing working class people's welfare - modern technocratic govt and globalism centre on destroying it.

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A new perspective, for me. Good.

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It's terrible to see war in Europe, with the Russians invading Ukraine. But Professor John Mearsheimer has blamed NATO expansion for this bad outcome. Any thoughts? https://youtu.be/JrMiSQAGOS4?feature=shared

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There is a school of thought which basically looks to blame "The West" for everything. For Ukraine war, Middle-East terrorism, lack of democracy in the 3rd world etc, etc. Meersheimer's critique re Russia may have been valid except that Russia is no longer a rational state such as the Soviet Union was, but it is effectively a gangster/securocrat oligarchy whore leaders run it for their personal benefit and not the national interest. Just look how they throw their soldiers' lives away. He has completely disregarded the ultranationalism building there since 1990s.

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Thanks for your end of year comments on the situation in Europe. For 2024, shaping up to be a difficult year indeed, I would appreciate more of your cameos of the European countries you visit, like the one above from Slovakia, a country that we would do well to know better. And fewer recycled articles from “The Guardian” which I personally find a little over dramatic and lacking in nuance. For example, the new EU fiscal rules will not by themselves determine the future growth prospects of the EU - individual member states, whether we like it or not, will continue to set the basic conditions for economic activity in their respective countries and will continue to flout the EU fiscal rules when it suits them - and with more or less impunity! The Brexiters did indeed “loathe Europe” as you write, but their real damage was to persuade a small majority of their fellow countrymen to leave the EU, a vote that very many of them now bitterly regret. And let’s not forget that for all his dire faults, Orban does live in a democratic country and will one day be ousted by Hungarian voters, although the prospect of Hungary taking on the six month presidency of the EU Council of Ministers in the second half of 2024 is not a reassuring prospect!

As for Putin, you write as if he will always be in power and continue ad nauseam to attack his neighbours and terrorise their populations. I was struck by a comment of your colleague Professor Timothy Snyder on “The Today programme” last week. His message, backed by historical evidence, is that wars end when the political system of one of the protagonists runs out of road! I hope I am not being over optimistic in thinking that, faced with the undimmed determination of the Ukrainian people, Putin’s Russia is closer to collapse than we think and that 2024 or 2025 may bring some encouraging surprises on that score. A new Russia could emerge from the ashes of the old, that the free and democratic West will need to welcome and accommodate. Going back to your 45, 89 and 22, why not look all the way back to 19, when the victorious allies made the tragic mistake of treating Germany as a pariah state ? A mistake that a handful of visionary politicians were careful not to repeat in 1945. And the rest is history !

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours !

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You have many great comments, Philip. I have a couple to add to the mix.

I see Hungary as democratic as Russia and Iran are democratic. The problem with fascist rulers is that they ensure their own positions with new laws and people to enforce them. For this reason, I do not see Orban as being voted out of office - ever. I wonder if the EU has rules for democracy in their charter and can threaten fascist systems in any way, such as shunning or removal from the Union.

(Since Citizens United, I also do not see the US as particularly democratic; its government (that is: *our* government) works against the will of its people and for the wealthy.)

I have been watching Russia and Putin suffer in ignominy while Ukraine cleans it clock regularly. But very recently, with the help of our republican traitors, Putin seems almost giddy with his pronouncements. Unless Ukraine gets the help it needs and in a timely fashion (which almost never happens for them in this war), I am much less optimistic than you about Russia's collapse. I sure hope you are correct!

When the Soviet Union dissolved, many in the West sent the best and brightest to teach them to "do" capitalism. I don't know what these people taught them, but I think it was our system of oligarchy, which might be the one thing Russia did not need help with. And we had people like Manafort to help in Ukraine, too.

I will enjoy my Christmas more if I know that the US back actively helping Ukraine to prevent Russia from being our nemesis for another 75 years.

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Trotz Allem: Fröhliche Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch in das beängstigende Jahr 2024!

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