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Perspectives 2010-1


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Perspectives 2010-1

  1. 1. OCT ’10 NO.8Peace talks or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the Israeli state {Burc Kostem, Friends of Palestine} freeze the new settlements being built, it or guns being fired from either side, or at would probably be dressed up as such least no killings that have been declared “The connection between the Jewish gracious self-sacrifice on his part that no- worthy of media attention? It is verypeople and Jerusalem cannot be denied. one would bother to query the fate of the useful to engage in this activity and toT h e J ewi sh pe o pl e we re bui l di n g 500,000 Israelis already living in illegal pay attention to this background noise,Jerusalem 3000 years ago and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in East putting the peace talks into context andpeople are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem. re-evaluating what we mean by “peace”.Jerusalem is not a settlement. It’s our We are back to level zero once From what anyone can understand,capital.” Youd think Netanyahu could not more, for now. Abbas is barely resisting firstly they are obviously awfully busyhave put his position more clearly in the mounting Palestinian calls to end the building settlements. (cont. p. 2)March this year when he spoke for the peace talks altogether because of theAmerican Israeli Public Affairs Committee settlement issue, and the Arab league(AIPAC), but somehow the international have supported Abbas decision to at Inside this issue:community and the Palestine Liberation least freeze them for now. Obama will tryOrganization took the benefit of the and pull some strings but with his A day in the Commons Library! 2doubt when they hoped anything new approval levels he wouldnt want to The Pope’s visit: media reaction" 3would come out of the peace talks. No, annoy AIPAC, one of the most powerfulNetanyahu doesnt care if the AV: a culture of ignorance?! 4 lobby groups in the United States. SoInternational Court of Justice think the what happens in the occupied territories Do we need to buy a house?! 5settlements are illegal, and thats that! and indeed in Gaza when nothing is What happened to ‘Hope’?" 6Even if he did end up changing his mind happening at the negotiation table? Whatand somehow decided to temporarily Strange brew of the Tea Party! 7 is Israel doing when there are no rockets Response to the Long Game! 8 Editor: Jonny Goggs Welcome to the first issue of Perspectives for 2010/11. We are a bi-termly independent political magazine produced by the Politics Society, and published with the support of Deputy Editor: Peter Gambrill the Warwick PAIS department. If you would like to contribute to our next issue later this term, please email your submissions to the editor at To the 2010 writers, thank you for your articles, and to the readers, hope you enjoy this issue. ! ! ! ! ! ! {The Editing Team}
  2. 2. and confident oral and written communication are all essential qualities that successful candidates must invariably possess. " Governments rise and fall. Cabinets are reshuffled. Ministers are briefed, and often debriefed almost as swiftly. Such is the transient nature of British parliamentary democracy, and the work of the Library does not hinge on such comparatively ephemeral political transitions. However, akin to most institutions operating out of Westminster, it has been profoundly shaken in the last of couple of years by two major developments: the global financial crisis, and the furore over MP’s expenses. The ‘swinging cuts’ undertaken to repair the damage done by the former, and the general mood of mistrust in the public sector fostered by the latter, have created a perfect storm that prompts a uncommon sense of insecurity in the Westminster bubble. " In Portcullis House, over a state-subsidized Americano, I asked Louise how the future paucity of state funding might affect the ability of the Library to carry out its work: “Like all parts of A day in the Commons Library the public sector, the Commons Library is looking at how we can continue our high level or service to members on a reduced! {Jonny Goggs} budgets. This may mean...thinking innovately about change, and working in a different way with other parts of the House service.”" “Contributing to a well-informed democracy.” If there exists Despite speaking highly of the Library’s “collegiate atmosphere”,an organisation with a grander or worthier mission statement she was also keen to state that the institution isn’t reserved solelythan this, I am not aware of it. Yet despite their prominent for the Bullingdon set. “We’re a mixed bag here...[with a]position deep within the nerve-centre of our society, so few are plethora of backgrounds - public and private sector, some straightaware of the Commons Library, and the tremendously important out of university, others who’ve had careers in other areas.” Soand far-reaching work it undertakes in pursuit of its noble cause. much for ‘jobs for the boys’, and indeed an injection of private! In July of this year, thanks to the generosity of Louise sector experience certainly helps the Library in streamlining itsButcher, a Commons Library transport specialist and Warwick service as well as providing a valuable check against publicalumnus, I had the opportunity to see first-hand how the Library sector complacency.operates day-to-day. Although the work is superficially office- ! Hurtling back through subterranean tunnels to Marylebonebased, and rarely glamourous, the monotone drudgery of a 9- Station, the question posed by the day was this: why, after all theto-5 job was scarcely apparent. On the contrary, each day evidence of public sector profligacy, would one choose to workseemingly presents new and varied challenges: whether they be at the House of Commons Library. The answer is, unavoidably, anbriefing a minister for an interview, working on a research paper, old cliche; you make a difference. You help better inform thoseor even answering bizarre requests from the general public. who serve us and thus elevate and enhance the level of debate. ItGetting work at this library requires more than horn-rimmed specs is indeed a noble cause, and one which I would recommend anyand a sensitive ear for idle chatter; objectivity, clarity of thought Warwick graduate to pursue in the future. Palestinian people in the Occupied subsequent harassment by the Occupying Peace talks cont. Territories. Take the textbook case of the Forces. You simply cant justify any of (from p. 1) According to liberal Nasser family living in East Jerusalem these measures by any rational securityIsraeli newspaper Haaretz, the who, despite having ownership concerns.settlements plan costs Israel $17 billion to documents of their house dating back to So what does all of this have to domaintain - a crippling number for Israel. 1924, are faced with destruction orders with the current peace talks? It poses theThe state had been building settlements simple question, should we still anxiouslybefore the Six-Day War, throughout the focus our attention on the peace talksOslo accords and they are continuing to waiting for Mr Netanyahu to change hisbuild them today. Id be surprised if we mind, whilst “nothing is going” over atcan find any Palestinians left in the West Bank? Should the international“Palestine” in 50 years with the rate of community silently sit by waiting for thesettlement building Israel has shown up peace talks to bring a final solution tountil now. everything, while the situation in the So we all knew that but what else is West Bank and in Gaza worsenshappening? Every passing day, every everyday? The fight for the liberation ofpassing hour, in every corner of the Palestinian people is not only fought onOccupied Territories, thousands of from the Israeli forces and refused access negotiation tables but on the streets ofPalestinians are being subjected to an to electricity, water and roads. Ramallah, Hebron, al Bireh, Eastever more increasing number of rules Everything the Palestinian people do Jerusalem and indeed throughout all theand regulations that are designed to turn from the water they drink, to how much Occupied Territories. Perhaps it’s timetheir life into a living hell. A ground they can dig for farming, to we also listened to what these people“Bureaucracy of Evil”, as Ilan Pappe simply crossing a check point brings have to say.calls it, is feeding on the miseries of the constant authorisation, regulation and
  3. 3. Don’t forget... The Politics Society needs you to get involved this year! 1. Join us, and keep updated. Find ‘Warwick Politics Society’ on Facebook, follow @warwickpolsoc on Twitter, and give our website a browse - www. Oh yeah, and remember to join us on the SU website. Sweet... 2. Perspectives - what’s yours? We’ve got 4 more issues to fill, so get writing, and get published! that deals with internal disciplinary matters) was bizarrely Pope Benedict: media darling? ignored. {Samuel Lom-Bor} So why was the media so superficial in their obsession with personality and unwilling to ask the real questions that needed From the moment of his landing in Edinburgh Airport, the to be asked? Not even the BBC was there to provide some realmedia simply couldn’t contain their excitement at the pomp and analysis – let alone balance – as the 15,000 strong anti-Pontiffgrace surrounding Pope Benedict, with most of the main march in London was hardly even touched upon. The way thatnewspapers dedicating their front pages to the image of his the media praised the Pope yet at the same time were reticentcape being blown about in the Scottish winds. The media in their reporting of opposition to his visit was fairly disturbing.whirlwind continued in ‘The Pope’s Visit 2010’, a BBCprogramme hosted by Huw Edwards, whereby four guests – “It doesn’t take an economist toincluding Archbishop Nichols and Lord Patten – were invited togive their thoughts on the visit. The vulgarity at which the panel decipher that the Catholic Church arelauded over the Pope and his visiting team of Church members the last people we should be listeningwas sickening; even Diarmaid MacCulloch, a professor ofChurch History at Oxford University, was quick to silence the to about shrewd spending andcynics whilst stating that the trip had ‘way exceeded my sensible economics.”expectation’ and praised Benedict’s admirable ‘charm.’ But can we really describe this Pope as a man who Not only was the issue of the opposition to the visitwaltzed into Britain and charmed us all? Alarmingly obtuse in distorted, but the debate over the cost of the visit washis opposition to atheism, he proceeded to openly insult and completely disregarded after the event as well. Why, in ablame the British government for the supposed ‘marginalisation period of economic turmoil, was the UK taxpayer compelled toof Christianity in some quarters of British society’ and for the fork out an estimated £12 million for a trip by a religious figure,ever-decreasing numbers of church-going British Catholics (a whose church’s responsibility it was to pay the visiting costsfigure estimated to be around 800,000). On top of this, the during the last papal visit to the UK in 1982? Was there a needspeech was delivered in front of an esteemed gathering of for the stages, the gold or the squadron of parading cars thatformer and current British statesmen at Westminster Cathedral – followed wherever the Pope travelled? When some people areso surely this can only be regarded as a baseless attack on the finding it difficult to budget, the luxuries of the Catholic ChurchBritish political system - not what is expected of a visiting head (let alone the Pope’s attire) must be considered an insult to theof state. average man and woman. And to top it all off the Pope, What’s more, he attempted to sweep recent damaging sex speaking in Westminster, even blamed the banking crisis onallegations against the Church under the carpet by expressing Britain’s faithless society with its ‘lack of a solid ethicalhis ‘deep sorrow’ for the crimes. But how can the victims of foundation’. It doesn’t take an economist to decipher that theheinous monstrosities such as sexual abuse be expected to Catholic Church are the last people we should be listening toaccept a mere apology from this man? After all, he had been about shrewd spending and sensible economics.responsible for surveying and preventing sexual abuses in the The two-faced attitude of the media, let alone politicians,Church for many years during Pope John Paul II’s tenure. The distorted what should have been a well-thought out debate inmedia consensus was that the Pope had shown great humility in the public domain over the visit. Maybe if we had had thatapologizing to the victims, but his role in the Congregation for debate, the Pope would not have even been invited for a statethe Doctrine of the Faith (the congregation within the Church visit in the first place.
  4. 4. and should expect news presenters to find out how these things work, so that they can enlighten their public. This does not always seem to be the journalists’ view of their role. For instance, having asked a middle-aged lady in the middle of her shopping what she makes of AV, and having been given a reply along the lines of, “I don’t really know how it works. I think it’s probably just the politicians trying to trick us as usual,” do you suppose the interviewer took the opportunity at least to try to explain how AV works to that one uninformed individual? I doubt it. It would be inconsistent with the spirit in which the rest of the news programme was produced: given the choice of either informing or obscuring, the producers would rather leave millions of viewers totally in the dark. This contributes to the atmosphere of confusion and obscurity which fuels the growing culture of ignorance. “Given the choice of either informing or obscuring...producers AV and a culture of ignorance would rather leave millions of viewers {Richard Metcalf} totally in the dark.” I’m totally in favour of voting reform, and my reform ofchoice would be the introduction of the Alternative Vote (AV), an To return to Joe Bloggs, we might forgive him for not doingelectoral system whereby every voter counts, not just those who his democratic duty and informing himself (perhaps onswing between Labour and the Conservatives. A system whereby Wikipedia) of the pros and cons of the various electoral systemsthe all-powerful elector can express his support for the party or available to our democracy, since he can always assert thatindividual he agrees with the most, without fear of being what has eluded even the mighty brains of TV land must be fardrowned out and made irrelevant. A system in which every too academic for a simple fellow such as he. We might,single victorious MP can invoke the authority bestowed on her generously, forgive him, but we won’t be able to suppress ourby a real majority back in her constituency, not merely the anger when he goes on to whinge that the politicians havelargest minority. But the media doesn’t seem convinced. Of deceived him, when we know that his taking even the slightestcourse, it’s not up to the media to be convinced by anything. interest in the world around him would have allowed him to seeThat’s not the media’s job. It’s not even the media’s job to be the right through their inept deception.convincer, to convince ordinary people that voting reform is a In the current circumstances it is therefore probably toogreat idea. It’s certainly not the media’s job to nurture a culture much to ask that the campaign leading up to the referendum onof ignorance in the public; but that’s what it seems intent on voting reform will be conducted in a spirit of enlighteneddoing. discussion, since those in favour of reform will be battling not primarily the few valid arguments in favour of keeping First-Past- The-Post, but the culture of ignorance itself which threatens to “I get the impression, that the engulf national politics. broadcasters themselves have no idea how AV works.” I get the impression, watching TV news in particular, that thebroadcasters themselves have no idea how AV works. You mightthink that’s because it’s difficult to understand, but that isabsolutely not the case. It’s very simple. The fact is that TV newsbroadcasters do not do their research, because they have foundan easier way of filling their airtime. In the place of researchinga story properly, they prefer to interview the Man In The Street,or encourage the General Public to phone in and express an ill-informed opinion, which will immediately be broadcast as‘news’. In the case of voting reform, it is perhaps understandablethat the general public hasn’t fully understood the conceptsinvolved. I mean, you can’t expect Joe Bloggs to find out aboutthese things for himself now, can you? Well, that’s debatable,perhaps, but what seems as clear as crystal to me is that we can
  5. 5. very little that is as comforting as the certainty of a roof over one’s head.” Uniquely, a house is an asset which one can live in, and there is very little that is as comforting as the certainty of a roof over ones head. Yet, as house prices and mortgage payments have soared, we are only as secure as our ability to pay our mortgage, and, as poor lending rates show, there are few left willing to bank on that. Furthermore, a house bought in middle age may not yield the security of home ownership until an age when one’s lifestyle may have greatly altered and the worries of mortgage payments may put off or threaten a happy retirement. Furthermore, the inability to move house quickly and easily may be damaging for the home-owner and prospective occupants: for example, the selling of council houses to former tenants has seen a contraction in supply, an inability to move to find work, Do we need to buy a house? and greater delay in freeing up large family houses for those who need them most. {Parama Chakravorty} ! “Perhaps we simply should not buy We live in a property-owning society, and most of us aretaught to aspire to be a part of it. Yet house prices are now over into the vision of a home-owningfifteen times what they were 30 years ago. The average age of democracy. After all, the standard ofa first-time buyer has risen to 37 for those who eschew parentalassistance, and the National Housing Federation predicts that it home-buying seems to be modelledis set to rise to 43 years by 2013. This is a worrying trend for after different circumstances to ourmost people; and for us students the issue is compounded by anuncertain graduate job market and a mountain of debt: the up own.”and coming educated youth will be hard pushed to buy a housewithout the help of parents who have had to oblige them Perhaps we simply should not buy into the vision of a home-through university. The additional burden of mortgage owning democracy. After all, the standard of home-buyingassistance may be more than many parents can stomach, and seems to be modelled after different circumstances to our own.many children can bear to ask for. It is probably time for those Where people married early and separated less less; wherewith yearnings for their own place to acclimatise themselves to houses were affordable on a standard wage; where work wasthe idea that they may well be renting for the very far future. more long-term, and geographical flexibility inessential. Investment in houses assumes a certain economic stability that this generation cannot be sure of. Of course, this is not the loss “A practical defence of home of a golden past, merely a particularly fortuitous period of timeownership largely rests upon its and place. House-buying in this country was not so predominant before the 1970s. In Germany only 43% of citizens own theirworth as an asset. Yet, recent events house. House buying is, to a great extent, an emotional andhave conspired to prove just how very cultural aspiration: a sense of pride; the opportunity toshaky an asset it can be.” personalise one’s living spaces; a rite of passage; memories of the spaces in which we lived. It is all of these things, but it is not an essential part of success, the logical choice, or the default However, while it may threaten the home-owning culture of option for everyone.Britain, these are not entirely woeful circumstances. Maybeowning your own home really isn’t all its cut out to be. Apractical defence of home ownership largely rests upon itsworth as an asset. Yet, recent events have conspired to provejust how shaky an asset it can be. Those who had boughthomes, and saw the value of their housing stock rocket, nowhave to deal with a market with very poor liquidity and theinability to move house, or climb the housing ladder until thehousing market bubble bursts. This burst could amount,according to Jeremy Grantham, veteran fund manager ofGMO, to a drop in value of about 25%. That is an awful lot foran apparently stable asset. “Uniquely, a house is an assetwhich one can live in, and there is
  6. 6. Midterm forecast: Democrats lose House, but hold Senate 1. Republicans foreclose on the House The GOP are currently heavy favorites to gain control of the Lower House, and on current polling have an advantage of around 20 seats. 2. Senate squeeze - but Dems hold on...just It’s gonna be tight, but if Majority Leader Harry Reid can win a tight race in Nevada, his party should still have a slim plurality. Polls provided by FiveThirtyEight Forecasts gaining cover and many more receiving far better medical What happened to ‘Hope’? cover than before. It will really make a difference to a society {Rory Kinane} long blighted by inadequate healthcare for the less advantaged. If you have been paying any attention to the news from Then comes Wall Street reform, which is similarly seen asAmerica you would be forgiven for thinking that President not going far enough by many on the left. Again there is a levelObama is midway through an impeachment trial for crimes of truth in this, but given the political climate and the power ofagainst humanity. Admittedly, the picture is looking bleak for finance it is altogether more beneficial to have achievedthe Democrats in November, as we are told constantly by the something rather than nothing at all.major news networks. Obama is under fire from both his left Many commentators will say that political leaders, fromflank, accused of being too timid in both reform and fighting the Barack Obama to Tony Blair, have become too obsessed withRepublicans; and his right, from a newly revitalised Republican the power of the banks and that they are simply being cowardlyparty with its new “grassroots” Tea Party wing. The polls look in not standing up to an industry which needs government assour and the House of Representatives is likely to go Republican much as government needs them. But even a cursory look atin the new year. The signs point to a President that has failed where the upcoming midterm campaigns are being financedand becoming, as one Tea Party candidate has put it, the worst from portrays an entirely different US history. Finance and health insurance are paying out big time. Its all nonsense, of course. Republicans are out-fundraising Democrats in some races by The story underlying the first two years of Obama’s between 6 and 10 times according to some reports. Currently,presidency is far more interesting than a false narrative of a estimates are suggesting that these elections will be the mostfailing young president would have you believe. From the costly in history, with an eye-watering sum of $5 billon spent.outset, Obama’s healthcare reform has been seen by many on That’s enough to buy Luxembourg (I may have made that up,the left as weak, watered down and far from anything part of a but you get the point).European social model. To this end, they are correct. But whenAttlee embarked on introducing the NHS in post-war Britain, “Obama is learning the hard wayeven with a huge public deficit, he did not have to contend withthe entrenched interests of monolithic health Insurance industry that "change” in America comes at awho immediately saw the debate as an immediate threat to price...”their survival. Moreover, the combined power of health insurance So the story behind the headlines this Autumn is a Presidentcompanies in America donated $400 million towards a media who managed to reform America’s healthcare system andcampaign to oppose Obama in the first six months of his banking industry in a way which, although stunted, willcampaign for reform. That’s almost as much as the Democrats ultimately make America a better place. But the cost of thisspent on the Presidential election in 2008. This is the real reason success has been the wrath of very well-funded industries thatwhy people believed in threat of “death panels” and why the now want to crush Obama. To those that say the President haslikes of the unhinged Tory MEP, Daniel Hannan, were not done enough, I point them in the direction of the stilltransported around the US to decry the mythical failings of popular Bill Clinton who, in similar fashion to Obama,Britains NHS. attempted healthcare reform in his first two years and lost In light of this, and a hardening of tolerant resolve in control of Congress. The difference is simple; Clinton neverCongress, Obama was only able to pass limited reform. This made it. Obama is learning the hard way that "change” inwas still enough to anger the right, but not enough to fully America comes at a price and that the optimism of the left canplacate the left. This reform will see millions of Americans quickly turn to cynicism.
  7. 7. and, thus, the Republican Party’s nomination for the upcoming Senate election. Ms O’Donnell’s defeated opponent, the much less radical Mike Castle, had been polling favourably against the Democrat Chris Coons – hence the GOP leadership’s preference for Mr Castle. Now though, what looked a likely win for the Republicans has been thrown into doubt. Ms O’Donnell, though proving herself able to win a primary, looks much less likely to be successful again when the whole nation goes to the ballot box; now it is Mr Coons who is in the ascendancy, according to pollsters. In Nevada, the Tea-Partiers endorsed Sharron Angle prior to this autumn’s Senate election. Though not her first attempt at running for political office, Angle was widely expected to be a non-entity in this year’s primary; as recently as February, she Strange brew of the Tea Party was polling as low as 8%, whilst front runner Sue Lowden was at 47%. And yet, following the endorsement, Angle’s numbers rocketed, and she now finds herself up against Senate Majority {Christopher Weatherspoon} Leader Harry Reid,#in little over a month’s time. In 2008, a mere two years ago, Democrats were ridingthe crest of a wave. Barack Obama’s meteoric rise through the “Tea-Partiers across the nationAmerican political ranks culminated in his Presidential victoryover John McCain, whilst his party further solidified their power are riding a wave of popular anger,in Congress, building upon their successes in the elections of but their radicalism may prove to be2006. their undoing.” How things have changed. Now, prior to November’s mid-term contests,# the Democratic Party finds itself desperately It is such surprising victories that are causing much concernfighting to hold onto the US House of Representatives, whilst amongst senior Republicans. Tea-Partiers across the nation aresuccessfully retaining their control of the Senate is only slightly riding a wave of popular anger, but their radicalism may proveless in doubt. to be their undoing. Michael Gerson, of#The Washington Post, The reasons for their fall from grace are varied and recently opined that “the Senate is likely to have a seriouslynumerous, but perhaps have been nowhere greater proclaimed strengthened Tea Party wing”, something which would makethan by the radical Tea Party Movement that sprang up in the the Republican leadership’s lives miserable – even if theyearly stages of last year. Forming as a reaction to what it saw become the majority party in unacceptable bailout bills and equally dismaying healthcare The problem, to put it as its simplest, is that whilst the Teareform proposals, the Movement, buoyed by the vociferous Party Movement is an effective device for stirring up emotionsupport of one Sarah Palin, has quickly evolved into a hugely and bringing issues to the political foreground, it is simply tooinfluential force. far-out for most Americans to buy into. For proof, one need only point to Scott Brown’s shocking To name but one example, there is the group’s worship ofvictory in Massachusetts in January. The Senate seat up for the US Constitution. Termed by some as “constitutionalgrabs, held by Democrats since 1953, became vacant following idolatry”, such devotion may well resonate with some, butthe passing of Ted Kennedy, and was widely expected to many more recognise that it is slightly naive to rely upon a 200remain blue. However, with the help of the Tea-Partiers, the year-old document to settle every problem that arises today.Republicans were able to turn the contest into what was Tea-Partiers and their candidates are currently atop of theeffectively a referendum on the Obama Presidency. Mr Brown US political mountain. Where they will be come late Novemberbenefited from this greatly, winning the seat and ending the is anyone’s guess.Democrats’ supermajority in the Senate. From there, the TeaParty bandwagon has gathered a startling pace. Across thecountry, candidates backed by the Movement have garneredmultiple victories in almost every election-type imaginable. Good news for Republicans then, one might think. But, aswith many things in politics, the overall picture is not so simple.Many of those Tea Party victories have come at the expense ofmuch more moderate Republicans; that could have a crucialbearing on November’s outcome. Recently, in Delaware, theTea Party backed a candidate, Christine O’Donnell, who thestate’s own Republican Party chairman had denounced as “nota viable candidate for any office”. However, aided by theaforementioned Palin’s endorsement, the plucky Ms O’Donnellflew in the face of adversity and secured a primary victory
  8. 8. from office, because he pursued pro-Western policies. Russia demands to hold talks with the EU and NATO on an equal basis, though both are economically and militarily superior. The Russian Army, together with its colleagues from Belarus, organise annual military training which aim to prepare for an invasion of Estonia. Russia calls its neighbours ‘the near abroad’, a term having a clear implication that those countries have limited rights to sovereignty, and only a country that sees itself as a superpower can demand a separate zone of interest. Such actions can hardly be called defensive. Who does Russia need to defend against? How can the fact that Estonia belongs in the Russian sphere of influence, increase Russian security? The Kremlin wants to secure its interests and regime, but Russia and its people need prosperous, safe neighbours and only a more active Western engagement in the region may secure that. If Russia really cared about its self-defence it would start solving its demographic crisis, improve the living standards of its citizens, reform and diversify its economy, resolve local conflicts peacefully and use its security services to fight crime,Russia’s long game: a response not profit from it. Thirdly, Gareth talked about oligarchs and Britain’s refusal {Marijus Antonovic} to hand some of them over to Russia. Yes, oligarchs have especially murky origins and alleged ties to mafia and criminal Last year, in the 6th issue of Perspectives, Gareth Williams elements. But so does the current Russian state elite, notablydiscussed Western relations with Russia in his article “Playing Putin’s own Siloviki clan. The hunt for oligarchs in Russia beganthe Long Game”. He stated that Russia is no longer an enemy not for their criminal activities, but for their potential to poseto the West and that ‘its authoritarian tendencies are essentially competition to Kremlin’s power. A recent example is thedefensive’. I have to disagree, and I shall briefly explain why dismissal of the ex-mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, from hishis arguments were wrong. post after more than a decade of service, though his dirty " Firstly, Gareth states, that Russia does not sources of wealth were common knowledge. If Russia reallyespouse an ideological war with the West. There is no big cared about the oligarchs’ criminal record, there would hardlyideological clash as existed during the Cold War, but Russia be any oligarchs left. Britain should not give oligarchs, notablycertainly possess an ideological threat. This threat lies in Boris Berezovsky, to Russia, because it would assist the Kremlinallowing Russia to use Western language for its political to fortify his power and engage in a struggle for more.regime. We let the Kremlin call its authoritarian police state a‘sovereign democracy’, which implies that in essence Westernand Russian political systems are not very different. In Europe “Russia is not the power as it oncefor some people ‘sovereign democracy’ is becoming a feasible was. The problem is that Russia stillalternative to current political systems. If it is a democracy,which we value, why not turn then from parliamentary to the believes it is, and forms its foreignsupposedly more efficient sovereign? Many European leaders policy accordingly.”have already expressed their admiration for the Russian model;Silvio Berlusconi, who calls himself the advocate of Putin in the Finally, Gareth expressed his disapproval of depictingEU, has recently stated that courts have too much power in Putin’s regime as worse to Yeltsin’s. Surely, Yeltsin was not aItaly. saint, but during his days Russia was still a parliamentary democracy that respected freedom of speech with other fundamental human rights and no journalist had to fear that after criticising government he could get shot the next week. During Yeltsin’s time Russia aspired to be a democracy, held free elections and allowed for some forms of civil society to begin. Nowadays, all the media is state controlled, elections produce the results that are required for the government, civil Secondly, in Gareth’s opinion Russia’s international actions society is created by state institutions and citizens have noare defensive, as is its will to ‘exert influence over its ability to have an impact on their government - not evenneighbours’. In fact, Russia’s actions are dictated by clear theoretical opportunities exist.ideological reasons. Russia sees itself as an international " Russia is not the power as it once was. Thesuperpower. This can be noticed in Russia’s foreign policy and problem is that Russia still believes it is, and forms its foreigndocuments released by the Kremlin. It advocates multipolarity, policy accordingly. Europe needs to form a more coherentin which it sees itself being one of the poles. In the war on foreign policy with an independent energy market to counterArctic resources, Russia also expressed its claims. Russia energy blackmail, resist the influence of Russian capital andsponsors corrupt regimes in South Ossetia, Transdniestria and contain any Russian action that undermines the sovereignty andAbkhazia, which make a living of selling guns and drugs and political independence of any state. Europe must show thatprovoked conflict with Georgia, to remove Mikhail Saakashvili Russia’s attempts to restore its imperial past have no future.