The Belgian Curtain - Europe after Communism
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The Belgian Curtain - Europe after Communism

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Belgian Curtain, by Sam Vaknin (#13 in our series by Sam Vaknin)** This is a COPYRIGHTED Project Gutenberg eBook, Details Below ** ** Please follow the copyright guidelines in thisfile. **(c) 2002 Copyright Lidija Rangelovska.Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Title: The Belgian CurtainAuthor: Sam VakninRelease Date: June, 2005 [EBook #8217] [This file was first posted on July 3, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, THE BELGIAN CURTAIN ***(c) 2002 Copyright Lidija Rangelovska.The Belgian CurtainEurope after Communism1st EDITIONSam Vaknin, Ph.D.Editing and ...

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The BelgianCurtain, by Sam Vaknin (#13 in our series by SamVaknin)** This is a COPYRIGHTED Project GutenbergeBook, Details Below ** ** Please follow thecopyright guidelines in this file. **(c) 2002 Copyright Lidija Rangelovska.Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Besure to check the copyright laws for your countrybefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen whenviewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do notremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and ByComputers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers!*****
Title: The Belgian CurtainAuthor: Sam VakninRelease Date: June, 2005 [EBook #8217] [This filewas first posted on July 3, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK, THE BELGIAN CURTAIN ***(c) 2002 Copyright Lidija Rangelovska.The Belgian CurtainEurope after Communism1st EDITIONSam Vaknin, Ph.D.Editing and Design:Lidija RangelovskaLidija RangelovskaA Narcissus Publications Imprint, Skopje 2003First published by United Press International - UPI
Not for Sale! Non-commercial edition.(c) 2002 Copyright Lidija Rangelovska.All rights reserved. This book, or any part thereof,may not be used or reproduced in any mannerwithout written permission from:Lidija Rangelovska - write to:palma@unet.com.mk or tovaknin@link.com.mkVisit the Author Archive of Dr. Sam Vaknin in"Central Europe Review":http://www.ce-__review.org/authorarchives/vakninarchive/vakninmain.htmlVisit Sam Vaknin's United Press International (UPI)Article Archivehttp://samvak.tripod.com/guide.htmlhttp://samvak.tripod.com/briefs.htmlhttp://ceeandbalkan.tripod.comhttp://samvak.tripod.com/after.htmlCreated by: LIDIJA RANGELOVSKAREPUBLIC OF MACEDONIAC O N T E N T S
I. European Union and NATO - The CompetingAlliancesII. The War in IraqIII. How the West Lost the EastIV. Left and Right in a Divided EuropeV. Forward to the Past - Capitalism in Post-Communist EuropeVI. Transition in ContextVII. Eastern AdvantagesVIII. Europe's Four SpeedsIX. Switching EmpiresX. Europe's Agricultural RevolutionXI. Winning the European CAPXII. History of Previous Currency UnionsXIII. The Concert of Europe, InterruptedXIV. The Eastern Question RevisitedXV. Europe's New JewsXVI. The AuthorXVII. About "After the Rain"EU and NATO - The Competing AlliancesBy: Dr. Sam Vaknin
Also published by United Press International (UPI)Saturday's vote in Ireland was the second time in18 months that its increasingly disillusionedcitizenry had to decide the fate of the EuropeanUnion by endorsing or rejecting the crucial Treatyof Nice. The treaty seeks to revamp the union'sadministration and the hitherto sacred balancebetween small and big states prior to the accessionof 10 central and east European countries.Enlargement has been the centerpiece ofEuropean thinking ever since the meltdown of theeastern bloc.Shifting geopolitical and geo-strategic realities inthe wake of the September 11 atrocities haverendered this project all the more urgent. NATO -an erstwhile anti-Soviet military alliance is search ofpurpose - is gradually acquiring more political hues.Its remit has swelled to take in peacekeeping,regime change, and nation-building.Led by the USA, it has expanded aggressively intocentral and northern Europe. It has institutionalizedits relationships with the countries of the Balkanthrough the "Partnership for Peace" and withRussia through a recently established joint council.The Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary - theeternal EU candidates - have full scale members ofNATO for 3 years now.The EU responded by feebly attempting to counterthis worrisome imbalance of influence with aCommon Foreign and Security Policy and a rapiddeployment force. Still, NATO's chances ofreplacing the EU as the main continental politicalalliance are much higher than the EU's chances of
substituting for NATO as the pre-eminentEuropean military pact. the EU is hobbled byminuscule and decreasing defense spending by itsmostly pacifistic members and by thebackwardness of their armed forces.That NATO, under America's thumb, and thevaguely anti-American EU are at cross-purposesemerged during the recent spat over theInternational Criminal Court. Countries, such asRomania, were asked to choose between NATO'sposition - immunity for American soldiers oninternational peacekeeping missions - and the EU's(no such thing). Finally - and typically - the EUbacked down. But it was a close call and it cast insharp relief the tensions inside the Atlanticpartnership.As far as the sole superpower is concerned, thestrategic importance of western Europe has wanedtogether with the threat posed by a dilapidatedRussia. Both south Europe and its northern regionsare emerging as pivotal. Airbases in Bulgaria aremore useful in the fight against Iraq than airbasesin Germany.The affairs of Bosnia - with its al-Qaida's presence- are more pressing than those of France. Turkeyand its borders with central Asia and the middleeast is of far more concern to the USA thandisintegrating Belgium. Russia, a potentiallynewfound ally, is more mission-critical than grumpyGermany.Thus, enlargement would serve to enhance thedwindling strategic relevance of the EU and healsome of the multiple rifts with the USA - on trade,
international affairs (e.g., Israel), defense policy,and international law. But this is not the onlybenefit the EU would derive from its embrace ofthe former lands of communism.Faced with an inexorably ageing populace and anunsustainable system of social welfare andretirement benefits, the EU is in dire need of youngimmigrants. According to the United NationsPopulation Division, the EU would need to import1.6 million migrant workers annually to maintain itscurrent level of working age population. But itwould need to absorb almost 14 million new,working age, immigrants per year just to preservea stable ratio of workers to pensioners.Eastern Europe - and especially central Europe - isthe EU's natural reservoir of migrant labor. It isironic that xenophobic and anti-immigration partieshold the balance of power in a continent sodependent on immigration for the survival of itsway of life and institutions.The internal, common, market of the EU hasmatured. Its growth rate has leveled off and it hasdeveloped a mild case of deflation. In previouscenturies, Europe exported its excess labor andsurplus capacity to its colonies - an economicsystem known as "mercantilism".The markets of central, southern, and easternEurope - West Europe's hinterland - are repletewith abundant raw materials and dirt-cheap, thoughwell-educated, labor. As indigenous purchasingpower increases, the demand for consumer goodsand services will expand.Thus, the enlargement candidates can act both as
a sink for Europe's production and the root of itscompetitive advantage.Moreover, the sheer weight of their agriculturalsectors and the backwardness of theirinfrastructure can force a reluctant EU to reform itsinanely bloated farm and regional aid subsidies,notably the Common Agricultural Policy. That theEU cannot afford to treat the candidates to dollopsof subventioary largesse as it does the likes ofFrance, Spain, Portugal, and Greece isindisputable. But even a much-debated phase-inperiod of 10 years would burden the EU's budget -and the patience of its member states anddenizens - to an acrimonious breaking point.The countries of central and eastern Europe arenew consumption and investment markets. With atotal of 300 million people (Russia counted), theyequal the EU's population - though not its muchlarger purchasing clout. They are likely to while thenext few decades on a steep growth curve,catching up with the West. Their proximity to theEU makes them ideal customers for its goods andservices. They could provide the impetus for arenewed golden age of European economicexpansion.Central and eastern Europe also provide a naturalland nexus between west Europe and Asia and theMiddle East. As China and India grow in economicand geopolitical importance, an enlarged Europewill find itself in the profitable role of anintermediary between east and west.The wide-ranging benefits to the EU ofenlargement are clear, therefore. What do the
candidate states stand to gain from theiraccession? The answer is: surprisingly little.All of them already enjoy, to varying degrees,unfettered, largely duty-free, access to the EU. Tobelong, a few - like Estonia - would have todismantle a much admired edifice of economicliberalism.Most of them would have to erect barriers to tradeand the free movement of labor and capital wherenone existed. All of them would be forced toencumber their fragile economies with tens ofthousands of pages of prohibitively costly labor,intellectual property rights, financial, andenvironmental regulation. None stands to enjoy thesame benefits as do the more veteran members -notably in agricultural and regional developmentfunds.Joining the EU would deliver rude economic andpolitical shocks to the candidate countries. A brutaland rather sudden introduction of competition inhitherto much-sheltered sectors of the economy,giving up recently hard-won sovereignty,shouldering the debilitating cost of theimplementation of reams of guideline, statutes,laws, decrees, and directives, and being largelypowerless to influence policy outcomes. Faced withsuch a predicament, some countries may evenreconsider.THE WAR IN IRAQThe Euro-Atlantic DivideBy: Dr. Sam Vaknin
Also published by United Press International (UPI)The countries of central and east Europe -especially those slated to join the European Union(EU) in May next year - are between the Americanrock and the European hard place. The Czechrepublic, Hungary and Poland, already NATOmembers, have joined Spain, Britain and other EUveterans in signing the "letter of eight" in support ofUS policy in the Gulf. NATO and EU aspirants -including most of the nations of the Balkans -followed suit in a joint statement of the VilniusGroup.The denizens of the region wonder what is meantby "democracy" when their own governments soblithely ignore public opinion, resolutely set againstthe looming conflict. The heads of these newlyindependent polities counter by saying that leadersare meant to mold common perceptions, notmerely follow them expediently. The mob opposedthe war against Hitler, they remind us, somewhatnon-germanely.But the political elite of Europe is, indeed, divided.France is trying to reassert its waning authorityover an increasingly unruly and unmanageablyexpanding European Union. Yet, the new membersdo not share its distaste for American hegemony.On the contrary, they regard it as a guarantee oftheir own security. They still fear the Russians,France's and Germany's new found allies in the"Axis of Peace" (also known as the Axis ofWeasels).