johnbarrySo Chuck Hagel is leaving the Defense Department. That’s a wise decision on his and President Obama’s part. Hagel was chosen as Secretary of Defense when the task ahead was to shrink the Pentagon’s budget and withdraw American forces from conflicts bequeathed to Obama in Iraq and Afghanistan. A leader, in other words, for a period of American withdrawal from the world in response to twenty weary years of war since 9/11. But the world has proved it won’t wait. The United States confronts new challenges; and the mid-term election results suggest, like the opinion polls, that voters realize, however incoherently, that America has little choice but to meet them. Relish it or not, the United States remains “the indispensable power” --- a phrase given currency by Madeleine Albright, President Carter’s Secretary of State, but echoing the view of her predecessors back to Dean Acheson after World War Two.

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ryan barnes photo 2Voters have spoken, but has anything changed? The November 9th “consultation” on Catalonia’s relationship with Spain went ahead, much to the dismay of the Spanish Government and Constitutional Court. Over eighty-percent voiced support for secession from Spain, yet the turnout was a mere thirty-five percent.

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geoffpaulphoto"It is quite true that the so-called races of Britain feel themselves to be very different from one another. A Scotsman, for instance, does not thank you if you call him an Englishman. You can see the hesitation we feel on this point by the fact that we call our islands by no less than six different names, England, Britain, Great Britain, the British Isles, the United Kingdom and, in very exalted moments, Albion. Even the differences between north and south England loom large in our own eyes. But somehow these differences fade away the moment that any two Britons are confronted by a European.”
From an essay by George Orwell 1941

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michaelmosettigIn forums across Germany and Europe and in Washington, along with a new batch of books, former officials, analysts and authors are taking stock 25 years later of the most important and dramatic event of the late 20th century --- the end of the Berlin Wall. 

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johnbarryINTRODUCTION:
Vladimir Putin’s supposed orchestration of events in Ukraine has been taken by many as ominous evidence of his power and cunning.  In actuality, however,  his handling of Ukraine is a disaster for Russia’s interests.

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