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GEOPOLITICAL BULLETIN

DECEMBER 2017

POLAND'S FAILING DEMOCRACY;  BRITAIN'S EU EXODUS;
POST-CONFLICT SYRIA

 

BRITAIN'S EU EXODUS: MAYHEM, UNCERTAINTY
& SCANDAL


“When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions!” 
Wm. Shakespeare “Hamlet.” 


In this our final issue of 2017, Peter Crisell continues his series on the Brexit agonies racking the UK, characterised by his headline…and it doesn’t get any better. Negotiations have still not yet commenced on substantive issues, but are still bogged down about primary issues for negotiation! The EU at the outset briskly required that before they would negotiate ‘Future Terms of Trade’ and the basis on which the UK would leave the EU, it would first of all be necessary to agree three primary priority issues: The UK they insist, must specify what it intends to pay on departure, with reference to its membership obligations (Mrs May in a speech at Florence said the UK would meet its financial obligations, without specifying or quantifying what these were). Rumours and guesses are swirling as to new offers, as we publish.

The next primary issue is about the UK proposals, not yet known, on the problem of Northern Ireland, a part of the UK, which finds that after Brexit, it’s border with the Republic of Ireland becomes the only UK land border with the EU. This means big complex trade problems, as yet unresolved. Finally, the Status and Rights of European citizens remaining resident in the UK; and of UK citizens resident in the EU nations. 

After many months of fruitless debate between negotiators, no firm offers have yet been made. So Stasis prevails! Yet ‘the Ireland issue’ is heating up, driven to some extent by the DUP, N.Ireland’s political ally of the Conservative government at Westminster, who agree with the Republican government of the Irish Republic that they do not want to reinstate the ‘hard border’ between the territories, a violent epicentre of “the Troubles” that were so painfully experienced in the recent past. That said, the DUP position is that the UK government had, in declaring their BREXIT objectives, been clear that the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland was to leave the EU and the DUP did not agree with any other treatment of their position’ (although the Referendum vote in the N Ireland territory showed a clear preference to ‘Remain’ in the EU). The Republic to the south is itself embroiled in internal party political difficulties that possibly may only be resolved by an election. The pieces of the negotiating jigsaw are scattering! 

Meanwhile the Opposition and dissident ‘remainer’ MPs in Westminster, are in a major row with the government ‘fobbing them off’ on an instruction passed by the House of Commons, ‘to make available details of reports on the problems arising from Brexit, for over 58 industrial sectors’, (assumed generally to be not good news). The information the government is offering on this, it is claimed, is heavily redacted after pledges not to redact - to tell the truth…the whole truth; etc But Peter Crisell’s article also looks at the deteriorating strength of Mrs May’s government. It is beset by excitable stories of sexual misconduct, of the kind currently featured in the western media. The background is that Mrs May, even with the infamous ‘paid for’ DUP support, is vulnerable. She has on certain issues, only a tiny majority in Parliament.

GO TO: BRITAIN'S EU EXODUS

* * *

Poland's Failing Fledgling Democracy

Within Europe, Poland along with fascist-leaning Hungary, has unquestionably become a problem, an embarrassment, as it chooses to depart even further from the amity of fellow democratic nations it’s colleagues in the EU. Poland is an ancient nation whose chequered history has seen it all too often as a victim, not only occupied by other powers, but even deprived of its existence as a nation, being divided-up between it’s neighbours for more than a century, resuming its statehood only after WW1. After the German military invasion in 1939 and then when the Nazis were defeated, tyranny ruled for 44 more years with the Russian Cold War occupation and forced Poland’s inclusion in the Warsaw Pact. The nation only reconstructed post-WWII achieving independence from 1989, as the 3d Polish Republic, with the help of its European neighbours and the USA, as leader of NATO, to restablish and secure it’s independence; it’s then blighted economy, substantially helped as now, by membership of the European Union 

The Poles are characterised particularly by their Roman Catholic religion which remains more intense than almost any other world province of Rome, having been in the frontline, centuries ago in ‘the wars of religion’. Many of its North European neighbours opted for Protestantism, causing Rome to fight back with its absolutist counter-reformation. Absolutism, along with fidelity to Roman Catholicism, has ever since been interwoven with traditional Polish beliefs. As a kind of adjustment to its frequent foreign domination, the Polish aristocracy remained locally powerful and authoritarian, right up until WWII when both the Nazi’s and Russia’s communists tried mercilessly hard to wipe them out. The point of this being that Poland, unlike most of Europe had no practical experience of democracy before 1989,- so weren’t and as can be seen, aren’t necessarily very good at it! It’s powerful neighbours over the centuries included an expansionist Russia with its Orthodox Christianity, a rival to Rome; and neighbouring northern German and Baltic states, where Lutheranism took hold, were always ‘the other’ to the Poles, feeling ‘squeezed’ between them. This strident attitude has unfortunately extended to the tentative Polish response to democracy, which they had never experienced until after they finally escaped Soviet Communist overlordship, only 28 years ago. 

The European Union can arguably be represented as the most civilised formal collection of nations, anywhere in the world – certainly the most democratic.  World Audit’s democracy tables tell the story (Poland itself, ranked at 33d, stands outside the ‘First Division’ which includes most of the 28 EU nations). The comparison for the EU as a grouping, is with World Audit’s sidebar panels listing other regional collections of nations. The EU 28 member nations are subject to the Rule of Law, and the mutual success and growth of its members. They are in the main informed by concepts of true democracy and the rejection particularly, of racism or religious intolerance. As SARA BIELECKI’s article illustrates, newly democratic Poland is now insisting on its top-down structure of Polish nationalism, in the process sliding away from the EU’s progressive benchmarks, as is shown here, to the dismay of its friends around the world and of it’s neighbours and fellow EU members.

GO TO: POLAND

* * *

Towards Post-Conflict Syria

As we have done since the outset of the Syrian Civil war now that peace of a kind is looming, we continue to pay much attention to Syria as we see that middle eastern violence is far from resolved. We fear that without a satisfactory peace agreement, another war is brewing with possibly a different line-up to that which emerged after the past six years of regional war.  Perhaps directly involving big regional powers, that until now have opposed each other through proxies. ISIS was a big enough threat that both the US and Russia, together with Turkey and Iran, were able to prioritise not only the elimination of ISIS; but also, it seems, the continual presence of Al Qaeda clones, with similar attitudes to raw violence and fundamentalist Islam. Yet they have not disappeared. ISIS personnel just carried out a frightful massacre in and around a Sufi mosque in a small township in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. Why there? It was said that this town had alone in its area, refused to ‘cooperate’ with ISIS. Like al Qaeda earlier, ISIS Islamic terror has spread throughout the Mid-East and well beyond, to Afghanistan and North and equatorial Africa, to some extent also in Central Asia. This includes infiltrating dissidents into ‘Chinese Turkestan,’ China’s western province of Sinkiang. Alessandro Bruno continues the saga. 

GO TO: SYRIA


 
Clive Lindley - Publisher/Editor

 
 
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