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Tuesday, 05 June 2012 09:04

Good Reads 05/06/12

Each week, two E&M editors share their favourite European reads. From blog posts to essays, it can be anything that amused them, worried them or got them thinking about Europe.

matt

Matt, Sixth Sense Editor

Günter Grass on Israel and Europe

Famed German author Günter Grass was banned from Israel a few months ago for writing a poem which attacked both Israel's policy towards Iran and Germany's plan to sell submarines to them. 'What must be said' remains an interesting case for what "can" and "can't" but should be said about Israel, Palestine, and Iran.

You may have missed a more recent publication by Grass called "Europe's shame" in the Suddeutsche Zeitung this month. Less opaque than "What must be said", I'll leave the interpretation of the poem in your hands. Here's a short description if you don't trust google translate. Let us hope his final line does not come to pass - "You will waste away spiritlessly without the country whose spirit, Europe, conceived you."

Grexodus

Grass brings me to the Grexodus (or more commonly termed the ‘Grexit’), and the words of the Ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus have increasingly resonated in my thoughts. One quote from Agamemnon in particular seems to offer some insight into the current dilemma. Between sacrificing his daughter or failing in his deep (but also beneficial) commitments, Agammemnon, the ancient king of Mycenae, faces an impossible decision, "Pain both ways and what is worse? Desert the fleets, fail the alliance?" Anyway, the play is well worth a read. Equally, Germany's early speculative alternative to the austerity package and Grexit deserves a read.

Don't know your fiscal pact from your 'big bazooka'? Read this excellent and clear article from the European Council of Foreign Relations. Then tackle 'Europe after the Crisis' (Sorry, it's behind a paywall). Any student of Europe will know the name Moravcsik. I've never been a huge fan of his, but this article is one of the best I've read on the overarching problem inherent in the Eurozone. And this approach, a restatement of causes seems to me somewhat unhelpful when trying to figure out how to save (or otherwise dismantle) the Eurozone. Surely, we're past all of that pointing of fingers? At least in approach, this article seems to get it right, and by framing the problem as Saving the Euro without losing the Europeans is much more constructive.

Published in Good Reads

Whilst you read this, there will be British and French planes flying over and bombing Libya. Last night alone 112 Tomahawk missiles were fired into Tripoli and surrounding targets. The UN has endorsed "all necessary measures short of an occupation force" to prevent Gaddafi's forces attacking civilian and rebel groups and this was officially supported by the EU's foreign affairs representative. Germany's abstention in the UN security council therefore represents a division in Europe's response and raises serious questions about how each of the three main states understand the Libyan case and what underlying domestic interests they have brought to their respective decisions.

The tyranny of definition

There is a small but significant distinction between Germany's understanding of Libya at the moment and that of France and Britain. The German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, said in a telephone interview with a radio station on Thursday, "I do not want Germany to be part of a war in Libya, a permanent civil war in Libya." This civil war is a very different image to the one invoked by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who has described the conflict in terms of "the people" versus the regime and argued that the "people's will" resides in the rebels and by implication that there is no "legitimate" Gaddafi supporter, aside from regime "apparatchiks." This can be seen in Britain and France's highly symbolic and questionable recognition of the Libyan national council (the major opposition) as legitimate leaders in Libya.

Published in The Transnationalist
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