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As president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi played a crucial role in the creation of a shared European currency and in the 2004 eastern enlargement of the European Union (EU). Twice prime minister of Italy, he set his country on the path toward adopting the euro. On February 15, 2011, he sat down with the Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs to explain why it is so difficult to lead Italy, why Europe lacks strong EU-level leaders and a “single voice,” and why Europe’s time as a global leader is not yet over.

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In the 1970s, three southern European countries—Greece, Spain, and Portugal— democratized successfully. In light of the transitions underway in the Middle East, understanding the reasons behind their success has taken on new urgency. The paths of all three were fragile and uncertain. Yet, when examining their similarities, we find that their success was due in great part to their charismatic and visionary leaders, including Constantine Karamanlis in Greece, king Juan Carlos and Adolfo Suarez in Spain, and Melo Antunes and Antonio Eanes in Portugal, who not only built consensus towards democracy but also skillfully and courageously stood up against threats to the new regimes.

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Most United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions during the last two decades were perceived by the general public to have failed. This article draws upon lessons learned from the 1990 UN mission in Namibia and identifies necessary geopolitical and institutional conditions to ensure a sustainable and successful peacebuilding process for the conflicts of today. Domestic political capacity and support from key international stakeholders are shown to be necessary for a peaceful democratic transition. However, smart timing during the preparation and implementation phases, as well as the structural design of a mission, are crucial prerequisites for support of any political effort for peace.

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the Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs had an opportunity to interview Mr. Divjak in his office in Sarajevo, and subsequently over the telephone from Italy. Translation provided by Jadranka Poljak (SAIS BC, 2011).

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The leadership styles of and relationships between the authoritarian regimes and militaries in North Africa are important factors in understanding the dynamics of the current upheaval in the region. Inhabitants of the region, affected by blogs, social networks, and liberal European and American culture, demanded either a more rational, value-driven, and open leadership responsible to the people, or a constitutional system. Further, the United States and its allies should maintain political and military distance from the movements sweeping the region as not to discredit them, while training the local population in polling, election monitoring, and the like, to create a basis of democratic action that would ensure the success of the transition process.

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Europe urgently needs effective economic leadership to address its trade imbalances, shaky Eurobond markets, and diminishing trust in European integration. The European Union (EU)’s fiscal rules are neither strict enough nor comprehensive enough to hold the currency union together. The status quo is not sustainable. Already wobbly economies in Europe’s periphery face punishing, unaffordable interest rates as private creditors back away from their debt, and the European partners kick away successive chances to devise a comprehensive and feasible debt workout plan. Unfortunately, none of its present political leaders seems capable of meeting the challenge, in particular, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leader of the EU’s biggest economy, biggest exporter and biggest paymaster. Leaders overly focused on narrow perceptions of national advantage endanger the future of European economic integration and the benefits it has brought all member states.

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This paper analyses to what extent the Green party challenged traditional political practices that have driven Colombian politics for more than a century. It argues that the Green Party’s presidential campaign for the elections held in 2010 constitutes a significant advance towards the strengthening of Colombian democracy. The Green Party focused on fighting clientelism and involving the citizens as agents of its campaign. However, the weak presence of the Green Party in the rural areas as well as its lack of experience in dealing with the press led to its defeat.

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Iran remains the one significant unsolved problem for the United States in the Persian Gulf. Over the course of the past decade, US policy has inadvertently allowed Iran to become the dominant power in the region. The best US policy might be to avoid seeking to control events in Iran, instead, leaving the various factions in Iran to fight amongst themselves. (From a lecture delivered at the Bologna Center, November 11, 2010, adapted by Shirin Mohammadi and William J. Burke)

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As a result of different experiences of the processes of political liberalization and market-oriented reforms over the past few decades, there is a clear divide in styles of political leadership in Latin America today. Consolidated democratic regimes have been generally successful, addressing social concerns while maintaining responsible fiscal policies. on the other hand, economic and political instability have plagued those countries where populist regimes have mobilized marginal groups through the use of anti-elitist rhetoric. for these populist states, the example of their successful Latin American neighbors may offer guidance for a future transition to a different style of political leadership based on responsible fiscal management and social progress.

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On April 10, 2010 Lech Kaczynski, the President of Poland, his wife and dozens of top government officials were killed in a plane crash near Smolensk, Russia. Poland's army chiefs of staff, deputy Foreign Minister and central bank governor were among the 96 passengers on board. The delegation had been flying to Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, in which an estimated 22,000 Polish POWs were executed by the People's Ministry of Internal Affairs (NKVD ). Ironically, some on board the plane were relatives of the officers slain in the Katyn massacre. Bologna Center's Monika Noniewicz interviewed Agnieszka Lada, the Head of the European Program at the Institute of Public Affairs in Warsaw, Poland, about the implications of the crash.

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The heart of Brazil’s recent rise in international relations lies in its growing influence in the global economic arena. This article evaluates one aspect of economic activity – the emergence of Brazilian transnational corporations. The article argues that an important legacy of decades of state intervention in the market fostered the successful internationalisation of big business in Brazil, impacting on Brazil’s international profile. However, this legacy also hampered its systemic competitiveness as evidenced by various international competitiveness rankings. The article concludes with some remarks on the long-run sustainability of Brazil’s current economic performance.

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In 1959, one of the largest natural gas fields in the world was discovered in the Netherlands. This article describes the impact these reserves have had on the political economy of the Netherlands, and some of the challenges associated with managing the “wealth effect.” Integrating the revenues accrued into the national budget has proven troublesome because of the highly volatile nature of commodity prices. Moreover, the management of the wealth accrued from the reserves has been subject to rent-seeking behaviour, imposing substantial losses on Dutch society. The case of the Netherlands serves as a reminder that rich resource-rich countries stand to lose if the wealth of a natural resource is not treated with the appropriate prudence.

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This paper argues that the advancement of Chinese capabilities in the areas of information warfare, anti-access measures, and strategic nuclear forces has substantially altered the balance of forces between China and the US, particularly regarding potential conflicts in China’s littoral waters, including over Taiwan. This challenge to US “command of the commons” may undermine America’s regional dominance in East Asia. More specifically, the article argues that the nature of any conflict between the two powers has been fundamentally changed by China’s development and implementation of technologies aimed at: degrading US communication and intelligence gathering capabilities; limiting the ability of the US to deploy air and sea assets in the Chinese theater of operations; and denying the US the ultimate trump card of an assured nuclear first strike capability.

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Contrary to what was widely expected when the Soviet Union imploded, the collapse of the old bipolar system has led not to a closely integrated “unipolar” global system but to a more plural world of distinctive and independent-minded states and regions. The old assumptions that lay behind America’s unipolar role and identity – that it possesses infinitely attractive soft power, incomparably superior hard power, limitless economic means, and intrinsic legitimacy – no longer hold true. Instead, the coming world of regional blocs raises questions as to how the West can accommodate the new Asia and avoid a dismal degradation of the Earth’s environment.

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The financial crisis and the approach of Britain’s general elections have given a new twist and urgency to the long-running British debate on national identity. The British governing class and Gordon Brown in particular, have responded to the consequent political and economic challenges in three ways. They have intensified the debate on identity and citizenship. Brown himself has inspired a major new reflection on Being British: the Search for the Values that Bind the Nation. Secondly, they have carried forward long-developing and quite radical plans for constitutional reform. Finally they have continued to draw on the United States for models, examples and precedents with which to pursue the ‘modernisation’ of Britain. These trends all point to a decisive shift in the nation’s political development: towards the production of a written constitution. The evidence suggests that London will look first to American experience and expertise when this historic moment arrives.

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This paper charts the failure of the post-war British governments to adequately acknowledge and adapt to the changing world order, in which the United States (U.S.) was in ascendancy and Britain, with its Empire, was in decline. Characterized by the deliberate preservation of sterling’s prestige on the international stage, fueled by a lingering nostalgia for the halcyon days of international British supremacy, the argument put forward describes the punishing and painful damage inflicted upon the domestic British economy in an effort to achieve successive governments’ international agenda. The conclusion is, therefore, that a strong element of dynamic self-awareness should be promoted when an international power is faced with decline, in order to better facilitate a controlled and measured descent, rather than an abrupt and precipitous deterioration.

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This paper analyzes the factors that aided and hampered the growth and popularity of political Islam in Somalia by tracing the history of al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya. After examining the emergence of political Islam in Somalia and the creation of al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya, this paper traces the growth of the group, its association with the Sharia courts in Mogadishu, and finally its subsequent downfall. There are many factors that allowed al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya to become a significant political force in Somalia. These include Somalia’s status as a collapsed state and outside intervention in the country.

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The world is still far from reaching a meaningful agreement on climate change. Neither the US nor China are willing to play the role required of them to ensure the international climate change negotiations are successful. Europe is to some degree willing to lead but lacks leverage. Using a game-theory approach this paper will show the difficulties with the way the climate change negotiations are currently conducted. If leaders are to find a consensus solution to the global warming problem, they will need to consider changing the negotiation rules.

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Often, an unrestrained capitalism in association with globalization is blamed for causing the actual financial crisis. In this article, after a historical overview on the emergence and development of the term “Laissez-faire Capitalism,” the question of the truthfulness of the above assertion is examined. Although laissez-faire capitalism does not oppose globalization, it does not endorse the process of the last two decades. While laissez-faire capitalism champions economic freedoms and deregulated markets, it also stresses the aspect of accountability: the possibility of failure itself is essential for assessing risks. Globalization on the other hand made not only markets and players global, but also regulations and regulators, and thus constrained economic freedom. In particular, globalization played a significant role in diminishing accountability for the decisions of actors in the market.

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The global financial crisis has a significant impact on euro adoption strategies in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, as national governments use the crisis strategically in national debates about economic policies and future choices. The turmoil in Hungary was a wake-up call exposing the vulnerabilities of emerging economies as Central Europe did not prove resistant to liquidity deterioration, exchange rate volatility and direct and indirect effects of the crisis. The policy implications of the crisis on the euro adoption strategies reveal that these developments only intensified the already existing position on the euro rather than dramatically changed the attitude of the governments currently in power. Analyzing the effects of the financial crisis on Central Europe, exemplified in the issue of euro adoption, helps us to understand policy choices that politicians make and the extent to which these are being influenced by international organizations. The global financial crisis has a significant impact on euro adoption strategies in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, as national governments use the crisis strategically in national debates about economic policies and future choices. The turmoil in Hungary was a wake-up call exposing the vulnerabilities of emerging economies as Central Europe did not prove resistant to liquidity deterioration, exchange rate volatility and direct and indirect effects of the crisis. The policy implications of the crisis on the euro adoption strategies reveal that these developments only intensified the already existing position on the euro rather than dramatically changed the attitude of the governments currently in power. Analyzing the effects of the financial crisis on Central Europe, exemplified in the issue of euro adoption, helps us to understand policy choices that politicians make and the extent to which these are being influenced by international organizations.

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Both realists and institutionalists agree that more empirical research is needed to determine the explanatory value of institutions. This paper looks at the EU’s reaction to the 2007–2008 financial crisis for evidence that the EU mattered in shaping the behavior of its member states. Three responses at the EU level—attempts to reform EU banking supervision, the creation of European Economic Recovery Plan, and the push for the November 2008 G20 summit—are examined for evidence of the EU altering member states’ interests, calculations of interests, power, and resources. It concludes that the EU mattered only when member states were not motivated by relative-gains concerns to restrain collective action.