Blog, Eastern Europe, Europe

Belgrade: Gritty City

Sometimes that person you immediate dislike becomes, over time, a close friend. In fact, the very things you disliked about that person can end up becoming his or her chief virtues in your eyes. That’s been my experience with Serbia.  The first encounter was certainly not auspicious. I first visited Belgrade in 1989, on my… Continue reading Belgrade: Gritty City

Blog, Eastern Europe, Europe

Blog: Return to Adversity

In the 1970s and 1980s, the nascent civil society movements in East-Central Europe leveraged their marginal position in society into a form of social power. Because they were largely disconnected from an unjust power structure – and suffered considerably from the repression of that power structure – they commanded what Vaclav Havel famously called “the… Continue reading Blog: Return to Adversity


The 250

In March 1990, I entered East Germany for the start of nearly seven months of travel throughout Eastern Europe. In my backpack, I carried an early version of a laptop and a cutting-edge portable printer. I had a simple agenda: talk to people, write reports, and send them back to my employers by snail mail.… Continue reading The 250

Europe, US Foreign Policy

NATO’s Twin Crises

It’s not an easy time for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The ongoing economic crisis is putting pressure on military budgets on both sides of the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the Libya conflict revealed the stark limitations of the United States’ military partners in Europe, virtually all the allies are heading for the exit in Afghanistan,… Continue reading NATO’s Twin Crises


Waiting for Copernicus

It’s happening in Buenos Aires. It’s happening in Paris and in Athens. It’s even happening at the World Bank headquarters. The global economy is finally shifting away from the model that prevailed for the last three decades. Europeans are rejecting austerity. Latin Americans are nationalizing enterprises. The next head of the World Bank has actually… Continue reading Waiting for Copernicus


Is Europe Over?

Europe has always been a rather tenuous concept. A rump continent, Europe represented the barbarous hinterlands for the Greeks and Romans. The first use of the term “European” occurred in a chronicle describing the forces of Charles the Hammer that turned back the northward advance of Islam at the battle of Tours in 732. Long… Continue reading Is Europe Over?


Europe’s Wild East

The traffic circles in Tirana, the capital of Albania, are a free-for-all. There are no lanes. There are no signs. There are no rules. On a visit to Tirana several days ago, I drove into the swirling chaos with all my senses alert, relieved that the rental car came with insurance. If driving was a… Continue reading Europe’s Wild East


Postcard from Tirana

No, it’s not a joke. Albanians think highly enough of George W. Bush to name a café after him. There’s even a George W. Bush Street in the capital of Tirana, albeit a rather short, crooked one. Bush received a warm welcome when he became the first U.S. president to visit the country in 2007.… Continue reading Postcard from Tirana


Europe 3.0

At the edge of Europe, in Ireland’s Shannon Airport, they conduct surveillance on the U.S. empire. ShannonWatch, a group of a dozen or so peace activists led by a former Irish commandant and peacekeeper, scrutinizes the commercial and military planes that pass through Ireland to bring troops and hardware to Afghanistan. Such transports take place… Continue reading Europe 3.0

China, Europe

Twenty Years Later

On June 4, 1989, history forked. In Poland, voters went to the polls to give the anti-communist opposition a sweeping victory in the country’s first, partially free elections in ages. It was the first sign of the revolutionary changes that would sweep through Eastern Europe that year, knocking down the Berlin Wall and changing the… Continue reading Twenty Years Later

Europe, Russia and Eastern Europe

Why Yugoslavia Still Matters

Yugoslavia, though you cannot find it any longer on maps, is still very much with us. The wars and political turmoil that convulsed this multiethnic country in the 1990s continue to reverberate today. These aftershocks can be felt in the standoff around Kosovo’s independence, the political fragmentation in Bosnia, the conflict between Macedonia and Greece,… Continue reading Why Yugoslavia Still Matters


Turning European

With the United States on the verge of another Great Depression, the Know-Nothing opposition to the Obama administration should be worried that we are about to slip into the Third World. Instead, it’s fretting about the United States becoming an annex of Western Europe. TV pundit Sean Hannity has called the stimulus package the “European… Continue reading Turning European

Art, Europe

Postcard from Banja Luka

Mladen Miljanovic, who won the prestigious Bell Award in 2007 as the best young visual artist in Bosnia Herzegovina, grew up during the wars that split apart Yugoslavia. He lived in the area of Bosnia that became Republika Srpska. His home was near one military base, his school near a second. More than once he… Continue reading Postcard from Banja Luka


Poor, Deluded Europeans

Stefan Theil thinks that his fellow Europeans are brainwashed. He’s done a trans-Atlantic study of textbooks and discovered that schools teach little French and Germans all the wrong things about economics. “Free markets offer chaos while government regulation brings order,” Theil describes the messages transmitted to European students in “Europe’s Philosophy of Failure” in the… Continue reading Poor, Deluded Europeans


The Taiwan of Europe

Kosovo almost got its own flag. According to the compromise proposal of UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, the international community was to grant “supervised independence” to Kosovo, the largely Albanian enclave in southern Serbia. This compromise plan provided Kosovo with its own constitution, its own national anthem, and perhaps most symbolically, its own flag. And… Continue reading The Taiwan of Europe


A New and Improved Europe

On May 1, the European Union nearly doubled its membership and barely anyone seemed to notice. Although ten countries joined the EU, adding 34 percent more territory and 28 percent more people to the now 25-state structure, news coverage was relatively scant. The world’s attention has been focused on Iraq and the run-up to the… Continue reading A New and Improved Europe

Europe, Food

Grapes, Not Golf

Grapes, not Golf   Boris Fras is the Jose Bove of Slovenia. He hasn’t attacked any McDonalds with sledgehammers. Nor has he made it into the headlines for destroying genetically modified crops. But in his vineyards and among his olive trees along the Adriatic Coast, Boris Fras is waging the same battle as his farming… Continue reading Grapes, Not Golf