Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
A poster at the entrance to the World War One exhibition at London’s Imperial War Museum depicts the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, minutes before they were shot dead as they toured the streets of Sarajevo in an open topped car. The two bullets triggered World War One. Alliances quickly came into play and an argument between Austria and Serbia drew in Russia, Germany, France, Belgium and Britain.
Europe was at war.
On August 8 this year Russia sent its forces into Georgia to repel Tbilisi’s attempt to wrest control of the pro-Russian, breakaway region South Ossetia. Georgia, like Ukraine, has been pressing to join NATO but has only been promised membership of the alliance at an unspecified future date. What would have happened if Georgia had already secured NATO membership, as it wished, at the alliance’s meeting in Bucharest back in April?
Would the conflict have dragged in fellow NATO members including the United States, Britain and Germany? By invoking NATO’s Article V mutual defence clause, the Georgians could have required other nations to come to their assistance.
Could this have led to another European war at a time when the West’s guard was down and the Cold War years seemed consigned to history?
The Caucasus tinderbox is alight again. How far will the flames spread this time and what can the outside world – the United States, the European Union, NATO – do to extinguish them?
The strategic significance of this mountainous region stretches back through history.
The answer lies largely in the enduring power of historic symbols in Poland nearly 20 years after the independent Solidarity trade union led by shipyard electrician Lech Walesa helped topple the communist regime and usher in democracy.
What makes Russian President Dmitry Medvedev tick? How independent is he of his predecessor, Vladimir Putin?
Medvedev gave Reuters a chance to find out more about his plans, and get some clues about the questions being asked by Russia watchers, analysts and diplomats, by granting us an interview in the Kremlin.
During a 90-minute question-and-answer session he played down differences with Putin, his long-time ally who is now prime minister, and portrayed himself as a continuity figure but the contrast in style and tone between the two men was striking.
Medvedev made none of the harsh attacks on the West that became Putin’s trademark and used considered, lawyerly phrases that sounded quite unlike Putin’s more direct and earthy language.
Medvedev said Russia’s foreign policy would not be swayed by criticism from abroad, but added that complaints about its policy were normal. He avoided echoing Putin by making charges of Western hypocrisy and double standards.
But he did sound more like Putin when discussing Russia’s media, saying television channels, newspapers and websites were “absolutely free” and dismissing any possibility of special controls on the media in Russia.
Some analysts think Medvedev is a deliberately more liberal choice than Putin who can usher in an era of greater freedom, private property and foreign investment. Others view him with suspicion as little more than a Putin puppet.
What do you think?
It should all be music to the ears of top military brass in Brussels, Washington and at the United Nations, who have long been struggling to fill gaps in under-resourced peacekeeping missions from Africa to Afghanistan.
Although the total number of mission-fit French forces will fall to 30,000 from 50,000 under the plans, the idea is that they will be better equipped, more mobile and better able to respond to everything from terrorism to cyber-attacks.