European Council on Foreign Relations

Madrid view: After the battle

The re-election of Barack Obama is one more battle in the long war that the left and the right have been waging for three decades, over the role of the state. In duration and geography, and intensity, it calls to mind the Thirty Years’War, which lasted from 1618 to 1648. Then the conflict was about territory, religion and dynastic succession. Nowadays the battle is about rather more post-modern issues: the limits of the state and the market, the tension between freedom and equality, and the setting of frontiers not between territories, but between social classes.

This 30-year pseudo-war, in the analogy drawn by Bill Clinton to dramatize the virulence it is attaining in the US, began with the victories of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in 1979 and 1980, a turning point in the view of the state. While, until then, both American conservatives and European social democrats not too

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ECFR this week: November 9th 2012

In a week that saw the re-election of President Obama and the selection of a new generation of Chinese leaders, ECFR published a major report into how China was approaching the massive economic, political and foreign policy challenges that the new leadership faces.

Mark Leonard, who edited ‘China 3.0’, makes the case that the country is entering its third major phase since the revolution (after Mao’s ‘1.0’ and Deng Xiaoping’s ‘2.0’). Mark argues that the Chinese response to the challenges that come with this phase won’t just affect China, but Europe and the rest of the world too.

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The Obamians


This is a book review of The Obamians: the Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power by James Mann. It first appeared in The New Statesman

Shortly after his inauguration as president, Barack Obama was given a briefing by the CIA about the danger of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. “That’s scary,” said Obama, “but in the meeting I had before this one, the Treasury told me that every bank could fail before the end of the month. Now that’s really scary.” This anecdote shows the central point of James Mann’s book, which tries to paint a portrait of the 44th president’s foreign policy through the prism of his relationships with his closest advisers.

For Obama and the youthful “Obamians”, the world began in 2001 with 9/11, which was followed by the Iraq war and the financial crisis. For them, the events that traumatised most foreign

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Obama, Al Jazeera and Mark Leonard

Here's a chunky half hour of Mark Leonard as a panelist talking about the implications of President Obama's re-election, from Al Jazeera's 'Inside Story'

Moving towards arming the Syrian rebels?

As the Syrian conflict has descended into ever greater brutality the West has continued to reject arming the rebels, fearful that weapons might end up in the hands of radicals and only serve to fan the flames of destructive conflict. However the tide may slowly be turning given the regime’s enduring resilience and fears that the longer the conflict goes on the more radical and destructive the end result will be.

Given the constraints imposed by a US election the Obama administration has long been fearful of the political consequences of embroiling the country in another Middle Eastern conflict. That restraint has now been lifted and some US officials have reportedly told elements of the opposition that, if better organised and able to exert some political control over armed groupings, they could receive weapons. This is a view that the French President is reported to share. It is

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