European Council on Foreign Relations

WikiLeaks: A Spanish political earthquake

Wikileaks is causing a political earthquake in Spain. In a country where Americans are already not very popular due to continued American support for Franco's dictatorship, seeing now (in writing) how American diplomats push and bully Spanish officials to follow up their “national interests” is raising a lot of eyebrows.

In particular, WikiLeaks's revelations are damaging the Spanish public prosecutor, which seems to have been consistently promising the US government that he would act to help Spanish judges get their hands off various cases which could potentially involve American officials. First, the shooting of a Spanish journalist, José Couso, by American troops in Baghdad during the Iraq war - who Spanish judges then wanted to prosecute. Second, the alleged torturing of a Spanish citizen of Moroccan origin in Guantánamo, which Spanish courts were also interested in. And finally,

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Hyphenated identities and foreign policy

The extraordinary story of Dahir Abdullahi Kadiye, the British-Somali man who helped release two hostages held by Somali pirates, raises some interesting questions about the role of immigrant communities in Europe in foreign policy.

Kadiye, a 56 year-old former taxi driver, divides his time between Leytonstone in east London and his native Somalia – the kind of person that former British Europe minister Denis MacShane calls “semigrants”. After hearing about the kidnapping of British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler by pirates off the coast of Somalia last year, he travelled back to the country and became a freelance hostage negotiator. Earlier this month, after a ransom had been transferred to the Somali pirates and their financial backers, Kadiye – who belongs to the same clan as a the pirates - brought the couple to safety after more than a year in captivity.

A few days ago

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What’s out there? South Sudan

Few news dates have loomed as large on my own calendar - back when working at the BBC World Service as well as during my time at ECFR - as 9th January 2011. That's the date when the people of South Sudan vote on independence from the rest of the Sudan. The referendum was part of the peace settlement that ended the ghastly war (or wars) between the Sudanese government in Khartoum and the south that dragged on for decades, killing at least two million. The referendum is widely expected to result in a vote for independence, and most observers predict a surge in violence as a result. I want to use this short blog post to draw together a bit of material for those interested in a bit of further reading and listening.

Despite our European focus, ECFR has a special interest in issues such as the referendum. Richard Gowan and Daniel Korski's work on the EU's civilian missions put the issues of

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Japan, Carthage and managing decline

On my daily walk along the foggy river Thames this morning I listened to the latest Economist podcast from one of their special surveys - this one was all about Japan. It started with this little teaser from Henry Tricks:

"People seem to be increasingly comfortable with the idea that Japan can go into a sort of genteel decline, which will keep up a reasonably comfortable way of life and will not involve Japan having to engage too much with the outside world."

At our recent ECFR Council Meeting in Brussels I was aware of a greater degree of debate than at the previous Meeting last year. One obvious reason is that there are now so many more vital issues to debate in Europe: the € crisis; Germany; rising powers elsewhere; a loss of global competitiveness; a looming pension crisis; a breakdown of the accepted processes of eastwards expansion; a massive readjustment of budgets across

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The harsh verdict of the internet…

I have just googled “Europe” and “superpower” in Spanish: 178.000 hits. Then “Europe” and “irrelevance”, 1.950.000 hits…… The internet jury's verdict is in!

If anyone else wants to try this in another language I'd be interested in the results...

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