We aren’t quite returning to normal levels of activity here, but we’re getting close. Things have been busy, what with teaching and casewriting and book-finishing. I still need to complete a book manuscript before the blog fully revives, but I do now have some time to breathe.
And so, I present you with four unrelated links. First, listen to Finland’s foreign minister talk a remarkable amount of sense regarding European defense. Time for Europe to “grow up,” says Alexander Stubb. “I don’t believe the US presence in Europe is permanent. The U.S. is starting to flirt with other partners than the Europeans. The E.U. is not as sexy as it once was. We are like a grumpy old couple. We’ve been together for 60 years. We nag at each other. We might have the same values but America is starting to look elsewhere. If the Americans are looking elsewhere then we have to start up coming up with European solutions, we can’t operate in the security field as 27 different entities.”
Well said. Budget-cutting is turning several Europeans forces into almost ceremonial remnants. He didn’t quite come out and call for a single European army, but that’s the implication. In a world of declining defense budgets, Europe has to decide whether to become a giant Costa Rica (with two nuclear-armed provinces) or try to get more bang for the euro by merging their militaries. The U.K. and France have already begun the process. The more direct politicians are about the choices, the better. (And no, I don’t think that the previous statement is always true.)
Second, Doug Muir is in Zambia! As always, he writes good stuff. The World of Warcraft reference goes over my head, which actually makes it funnier. He discusses Zambian English (which seems to be just another accent), trade with the DRC (which seems to suffer from a severe lack of transport infrastructure, if I’m reading it right), and the European presence. (I met several white Zambians in Mexico a few years back; they seemed healthily attached to the new country, although their accents seemed vaguely British.) He also tells us that Zambia tried to acquire nuclear weapons. That last is not something that I ever woulda guessed. Doug still refuses to carry a camera, though, for his own strange reasons and which I am sure he will regret in 20 years. Anyway, read the posts, and encourage him to keep it coming.
Third, we have Jussi Jalonen on the significance of Kaarlo Kurlo, a Finnish soldier who volunteered to fight in the Polish-Soviet war of 1919-21. It is fascinating stuff, which in a time gone by would have appeared on this blog here. (Yes, that makes me sad. But ni modo, progress is progress.)
Finally, baseball! Word, baseball. You might think that the sport expanded from the United States at the point of a bayonet, since the map of serious baseball countries looks a lot like a map of the unofficial American Empire circa 1940. But you would be wrong. Still no explanation of why the sport faded out in the Philippines.