The Future of Serbian Civil Society

The Serbian elections in May 2012 shocked many liberals in the country. They assumed that the electoral coalition that coalesced around former President Boris Tadic – the Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Christian Democratic Party, the Green Party, the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina – would handily win the election. Instead, Tomislav Nikolic, a former...
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The Pinnacle of Pessimism

Bulgarians are proud to be pessimistic. Many of the people that I recently interviewed in the country spoke with pride of the various polls that bore out this depressing conclusion. So, for instance, in a 2009 Gallup poll, Bulgaria ranked at the very bottom of the world in their view of what life would be like for them five years hence. Incredibly, Bulgarian pessimism outperformed that of Iraqis...
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The Persistence of Discrimination

Much has changed in Eastern Europe over 22 years. But one group that has seen relatively little improvement in its fortunes over this period has been the Roma. Unemployment levels among Roma remain high. Access to decent education, health care, and other social services is limited. Representation in politics and business is minimal. And discrimination remains pervasive. In interviews and casual...
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Afghanistan: Avoiding Default

Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 in part because of his pledge to end the war in Iraq and shift the Pentagon’s attention to Afghanistan. He has won a second term in part by promising to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan – as quickly and as securely as possible. There have been no “mission accomplished” moments with Afghanistan. An economic crisis at home, a failure to...
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North Korea’s Nuclear Theater

The most important rule in the world of theater is to keep the attention of your audience. If they become distracted or bored, if they start to fidget in their seats, the illusion of the spectacle is at risk. Once word gets out that you can’t deliver as a playwright or a director, the audiences dwindle. And fewer people are interested in your next offering. North Korean leaders have always...
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