Posts Tagged ‘Timothy Garton Ash’

A Witness Who Thinks

Monday, January 4th, 2010

George Brock, writing about Timothy Garton Ash (the noted journalist of the people power movements that ended the Cold War) for the British Times Literary Supplement, uses a profound phrase to describe what Ash does – creating the “first rough drafts of history” (borrowing a phrase) “written by a witness who thinks.” [My emphasis.]

I suppose I like the phrase because it is what I seek to be – a witness to history who thinks.

With that, welcome to 2010, and happy new year.

Over the long weekend, I’ve decided on 2 changes to the blog:

First, and a long time coming, I’ve decided to focus more on research and reporting – and to make that a regular feature. Given my time constraints, I’m expecting to have about 1 story a month with a significant amount of original reporting and research – with some more in-depth research and reporting complementing other opinion pieces. I have also decided to attempt to get responses from every subject of a piece who I criticize before publishing it – which I have tried to do sometimes but not always managed to do.

Second, rather than the 1 or 2 long posts a day, I’ve decided to sprinkle in another 4 or so shorter posts passing along links or making minor points.

[Image by me].

Europe’s Impotence

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Timothy Garton Ash writes in the Guardian with frustration at Europe’s seeming impotence, so much at odds with it’s theoretical power:

At a moment when the United States is suspended between an outgoing president who won’t do anything to stop the slaughter and an incoming president who feels he can’t yet, Europe has a chance to show what it can do. So here it is: weak, divided, and still as infuriatingly pompous and vacuously self-aggrandising as it was in the early 1990s, when the foreign minister of Luxembourg descended on disintegrating Yugoslavia and cried “the hour of Europe has come”. Like the Bourbons, the EU seems to have forgotten nothing and learned nothing…

Why can’t we Europeans get our act together when it comes to dealing with the rest of the world? On our own continent we have done great things: we have almost completed the most ambitious enlargement in the history of the union; we have just marked the 10th anniversary of the euro. In external policy we are little further on than we were a decade ago. And time is not on our side. As powers such as China and India rise, the relative power of Europe inevitably decreases – so pooling our resources is to some extent simply running to keep up. Global warming and nuclear proliferation will not wait on our endless internal debates.

Given the power of so many European countries in the recent past – and today – it is astounding that collectively they seem to have less diplomatic and political pull than they do individually. Sarkozy demonstrated to some degree how the EU presidency could be used more strongly, but with only six months in office, he was not able to make a significant difference. Couple this with the demographic crisis in Europe – as it’s population ages and perhaps decreases – and with the rapid growth of China, India, and Brazil – and as Ash points out, with America at a low ebb in our power – it’s hard to see a better time for Europe to have taken the lead in world affairs than in the past two years.

Yet they didn’t – or couldn’t.