Realism, schmrealism

by Henry on February 16, 2011

Stephen Walt writes a “quite odd post”:http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/15/can_ir_theory_predict_the_future_of_the_euro on realism, liberalism and the future of the euro.

bq. Over the past few months, however, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have been negotiating a joint proposal for deepening economic coordination within the EU (and especially the eurozone) in an attempt to solve some of the problems that produced the crisis in the first place. … Not only does this question have obvious implications for politics and economics in Europe itself, but it also raises some fundamental questions about IR theory and might even be a revealing test of “realist” vs. “liberal” perspectives on international relations more generally. Realists, … have been bearish about the EU and the euro since the financial crisis, arguing that European member states were more likely to pursue their individual national interests and to begin to step back from some of the integrative measures that the EU had adopted in recent years. … By contrast, “institutionalists”:http://www.newsweek.com/2009/07/31/europe-defies-the-skeptics.html, and EU-philes more generally, have suggested that the only way forward was to deepen political integration within Europe. … So what we have here is a nice test of two rival paradigms, and students of international politics should pay close attention to how this all plays out.

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Slow-burning anger in Irish politics

by niamh on February 16, 2011

Some observers have wondered why Ireland’s dramatic economic crash has not produced more visible anger. Where are the street riots, they ask. The Greeks, they say, do this sort of thing better, the Icelanders managed to rise up as one – what is wrong with us? The Irish banks are a vast financial black hole and taxpayers are looking at crushing liabilities stretching into the future. Unemployment is over 13%. For those in work, pay packets have shrunk yet again as new taxes and charges kick in. Many households carry huge debt. Emigration is making a return. The terms of the EU-IMF loan constrain the terms of economic debate: we are not a sovereign economic state. Yet everyday life looks like business as usual.

The election campaign is slightly surreal for this reason. Last night saw a US-style TV discussion involving the five main party leaders, all men and all wearing identikit business suits. The studio audience, picked by a PR company to represent undecided voters, was pained yet polite.

But these are surface impressions. Out there, as the parties well know, all the evidence indicates that the voters are merely biding their time, ‘waiting in the long grass’. This could be a realigning election, a shape-shifter for the Irish political system.

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