April 21, 2014
April 18, 2014
Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology
The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious
: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain
April 14, 2014
Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time
: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic
: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships
: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin
: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate
: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
April 11, 2014
Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden
: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does
: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer
: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You
April 9, 2014
Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?
Samuel G. Freedman
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
April 8, 2014
Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease
Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear
April 4, 2014
A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children
Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet
Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds
Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves
April 2, 2014
Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?
Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities
It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene
Jewish World Review
January 14, 2009
/ 17 Teves 5769
Europe's New Cold War
Like every continent, Europe has its rituals. In the spring, the storks return to the Low Countries from their winter nests in Africa. In the autumn, the French return to Paris from their beaches in the south. And in the winter, the Russians threaten to cut off the natural gas supplies to Ukraine.
OK, they don't do it every winter. But they did it in the winter of 2005-06, they did it in 2006-07, and when they once again switched off the taps this New Year's Day, it was impossible not to feel a wearisome sense of déjà vu. This year, as in previous years, the negotiations are almost too complicated to explain, involving not only Gazprom, the Russian gas behemoth, but also various shady intermediaries, dubious deals, and differing price mechanisms. This year, as in previous years, the Russians are claiming that the conflict is purely commercial, not political; that Ukraine is stealing Europe's gas; that Ukraine is not paying a fair price. But this year, unlike in some previous years, those claims are looking exceptionally hollow.
For one, it was Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who openly made the decision to switch off the gas, not the Gazprom CEO. More important, the Ukrainians, who have engaged in plenty of pipeline hanky-panky in the past, have this time around readily agreed to let Europeans and Russians monitor their transit pipelines. They have also paid their (very large) Gazprom debt and have asked at last for a more transparent system of price-setting, one similar to those used in Western Europe (an algorithm that relates the price of gas to the price of oil). Over the weekend, they even negotiated a deal with Russia, belatedly brokered by EU negotiators. The Russians then refused to sign it for two more days before agreeing at least in principle to turn on the taps late Monday night though as of the time I am writing, they aren't on yet.
But why the delay? And why the cut off the gas for so long in the first place? This being Putin's Russia, theories abound. Perhaps the Russians thought the Ukrainians, in the throes of an economic and financial meltdown, weren't going to be able to pay that very large Gazprom debt. Perhaps they hoped to discredit the Ukrainian leadership in the eyes of the European Union. Perhaps they wanted the lights to start going out in Bratislava or Brindisi, just to give everyone a scare. Or perhaps, as some believe, Putin was trying to distract Russians from their own pending economic and financial meltdown.
For once, it almost doesn't matter. In fact, the most important story here is not the one about Russia and Ukraine but the one about the European Union. Europe, a Hungarian friend said to me last week, "occupies itself with unnecessary things and ignores everything that is important." There is something to this. There are EU sausage-making regulations, EU intercultural dialogues, even EU attempts to broker peace in Gaza. But although most of Europe from Italy and France to Bulgaria and Slovakia gets at least some of its gas from Russia, there still isn't a true, unified EU energy policy; and there isn't a true, unified EU Russia policy, either.
Instead, Gazprom no longer pretending to be anything but a tool of Russian foreign policy still does deals with European gas concerns one country at time, picking them off one by one.
Putin still deploys "divide and rule" tactics to deal with Europe, making special arrangements for Italy, buying politicians in Germany, and cutting off the gas to Ukraine. And it works: In 2006, when Western Europeans suddenly felt the pressure drop in their pipelines, they protested, loudly. This year, as kindergartens in Bulgaria briefly went dark, no one in Brussels seemed especially bothered. Knowing that the Russians are unreliable, everyone now builds up their reserves, turns to other sources (the Norwegians have been pumping gas like mad), and keeps their fingers crossed, hoping that the Russians and Ukrainians will come to their senses in time.
Instead of sending their best and brightest to create a genuinely secure system through expanded use of liquefied natural gas, more nuclear plants, clean coal most European countries have settled for makeshift arrangements. Instead of using their collective bargaining power, they act as if they are dependent on Gazprom, when the reverse is equally true: After all, the Russians need the money they get from European sales almost as much as the Europeans need their gas. Instead of sending in crisis negotiators every Jan. 1, Europe's leaders could focus on this problem and solve it. I would love to describe this week's events as a "wake-up call," but there have been so many "wake-up calls" already. When will Europe heed them?
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Gulag: A History
Nearly 30 million prisoners passed through the Soviet Union's labor camps in their more than 60 years of operation. This remarkable volume, the first fully documented history of the gulag, describes how, largely under Stalin's watch, a regulated, centralized system of prison labor-unprecedented in scope-gradually arose out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Fueled by waves of capricious arrests, this prison labor came to underpin the Soviet economy. JWR's Applebaum, a former Warsaw correspondent for the Economist and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, draws on newly accessible Soviet archives as well as scores of camp memoirs and interviews with survivors to trace the gulag's origins and expansion Sales help fund JWR.
Comment on JWR contributor Anne Applebaum's column by clicking here.
01/07/09: Pointless Peace Proposals
12/30/08: The magnificent rhetorical legacy of the Founding Fathers
12/23/08: Do riots in Athens portend demonstrations in Paris and Cincinnati?
12/16/08: Breach of Trust: Bernard Madoff's massive fraud will cripple American capitalism
12/09/08: In praise of charismatic politicians
12/03/08: Moscow's Empire of Dust
11/20/08: Getting Past Mythmaking In Georgia
11/12/08: In Praise of Political Rock Stars
10/03/08: Election Day myths you must resist
09/30/08: Not just a metaphor: Lehman Brothers was economic's 9/11
09/04/08: Class of '64
08/28/08: Did Hillary really help the Barack cause?
08/27/08: Show of Power, Indeed
08/19/08: What Is Russia Afraid Of?
08/13/08: When China Starved
08/11/08: Two of the world's rising powers are strutting their stuff
08/05/08: How Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago changed the world
07/29/08:The Hour of Europe Tolls Again … But are European politicians up to the task?
07/15/08: Why Does Obama Want To Campaign in Berlin?
07/01/08: Citizen Athletes: How did a guy who can't speak Polish end up scoring Poland's only goal of Euro 2008?
06/24/08: Why do we expect presidential candidates to be kind?
06/17/08: Pity the Poor Eurocrats
06/12/08: Is the World Ready for a Black American President?
05/28/08: The Busiest Generation: America seems to value its children's status and achievements over their happiness
05/20/08: Leave Hitler Out of It: The craze for injecting the Nazis into political debate must end
05/13/08: A Drastic Remedy: The case for intervention in Burma
05/07/08: A Warning Shot From Moscow?
04/23/08: Radio to stay tuned to
04/17/08: China learns the price of a few weeks of global attention
04/01/08: Head scarves are potent political symbols
03/26/08: The Olympics are the perfect place for a protest
03/19/08: Could Tibet bring down modern China?
03/12/08: Have political autobiographies made us more susceptible to fake memoirs?
03/05/08: Why does Russia bother to hold elections?
02/20/08: Kosovo is a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences
02/06/08: A Craven Canterbury Tale
02/06/08: French prez' whirlwind romance reminds voters of his political recklessness
© 2008, Anne Applebaum