Uncommon Decency podcast

29. Europe's Pirate State, with Hanna Liubakova & Vladislav Davidzon

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On May 23rd, a Ryanair plane flying from Athens to Vilnius is instructed by a military jet to land in Minsk as it enters Belarusian airspace, on account that Hamas has a bomb planted on board. One passenger in particular couldn’t be fooled. Blogger Roman Protasevich, now jailed in his home country, is one of many political opponents to have fled Lukashenko’s brutal repression. The strongman’s authoritarian grip on the country has steadily risen since taking office in 1994, but the presidential race that rigged 80.1% of the vote in his favour last August has proved an inflection point. This latest feat of transnational airborne piracy on Europe’s doorstep is again testing the EU’s appetite for sanctions—and the Belarusian opposition's willingness to keep up the fight. Journalist Hanna Liubakova and Atlantic Council Fellow Vladislav Davidzon join us to unpack.

As always, rate and review Uncommon Decency on Apple Podcasts, and send us your comments or questions at @UnDecencyPod or uncommondecencypod@gmail.com.

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    35. Scottish Independence, Revisited, with Alex Massie & Ben Jackson

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    Football’s oldest international fixture, Scotland-England games have routinely showcased a fever pitch of politically-infused rivalry, and this year’s Euro 2021 proved no exception. Not only were the Scots ecstatic to draw against their English “Auld Enemy” at Wembley in their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup—many of them even cheered Italy’s narrow win in the final. At odds with its laureate reputation for orderly behavior, the so-called Tartan Army of Scottish fans can still at times be heard jeering at “God Save the Queen”—an unmistakable testament to the pervasive influence of politics on football. Back in 2014, 55.3% of Scottish voters rejected independence from the United Kingdom in a referendum, but the Union has since undergone a political revolution of its own, leaving the European Union at the dismay of the stringently pro-European Scots. Seven years and two prime ministers later, Nicola Sturgeon's ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) is pressing for a second referendum. Whether or not "IndyRef2" sees the day, will the tides of History inevitably lead to a divorce? Exploring the odds and merits of such an outcome, we host Alex Massie of The Spectator and Ben Jackson of Oxford, two Scotsmen steeped in the complex history of the Anglo-Scottish Union and in the latest maneuvering in both Westminster and Holyrood. As always, rate and review Uncommon Decency on Apple Podcasts, and send us your comments or questions at @UnDecencyPod or uncommondecencypod@gmail.com.
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    32. Germany—Green Is the New Black? with Reinhard Bütikofer MEP & Sudha David-Wilp

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    Across most of Europe, Green parties are middling political forces, periodic junior partners in coalitions or the occasion to cast a protest vote for disgruntled left-wingers. And yet in prosperous Germany, Annalena Baerbock could well be Angela Merkel’s successor at the chancellorship. Formed at the dawn of the environmental and anti-nuclear geist of the 70s, the party was in principle opposed to capitalism, NATO and the very idea of having armed forces (Bundeswehr). Fast forward to today and the the Greens have become mainstream and established. In ten of the sixteen länders, they are junior coalition partners with the far-left, the S&D, the liberals or the Christian democrats. They even lead the regional government of the traditionally right-wing state of Baden-Württemberg, a proof that the once fringe party has the chops to seduce conservative voters. With the upcoming federal race in September, a return to the federal executive seems likely, perhaps even as a senior coalition partner. What’s behind the Greens’ surge, and what could it mean for the broader European landscape? Back with us to answer is Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer and Sudha David-Wilp, deputy director of the German Marshall Fund’s Berlin Office. As always, rate and review Uncommon Decency on Apple Podcasts, and send us your comments or questions at @UnDecencyPod or uncommondecencypod@gmail.com.
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    Listeners may recall Peter Mandelson, the veteran UK Cabinet Secretary appointed EU Commissioner for Trade in the late 2000s upon helping orchestrate Labour’s social-liberal pivot as one of Tony Blair’s “spin doctors”. Mandelson’s incarnation of the party’s notorious “Third Way” didn’t just owe to his Europhile credentials and support for Blairite programs. By racking up a string of landslide victories in the northeastern constituency of Hartlepool, his career showcased Labour’s potential to press ahead with market-based and socially progressive reforms whilst retaining its historic foothold in working-class communities. Fast forward to May 6th this year, and the party’s gradual loss of its core electorate in the intervening decade was nowhere in better display than in the by-election that saw the Tories flip the Hartlepool seat with a voting share 23 points larger. The political realignment underway in British politics is often chalked up to Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn’s radical neo-socialism. Yet its contours are in fact proving deeper and more lasting, as voters get to weigh Boris Johnson’s promises to level up the North-South divide against Keir Starmer’s declared reversion to centrist politics. Beyond local variations, the trajectory for the working-class vote is one of unprecedented disaffection with Labour. This week's episode gauges the causes, extent and nuances of this trend with Paul Embery and Nick Timothy. As always, rate and review Uncommon Decency on Apple Podcasts, and send us your comments or questions at @UnDecencyPod or uncommondecencypod@gmail.com.
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    30. France's Forever Wars in the Sahel, with Gérard Araud & Michael Shurkin

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    January 2013. Making its way through the dunes of the Sahel desert, a column of pick-up trucks is spotted approaching Mali’s capital city of Bamako. The jihadists at the wheel, some of the region’s most dangerous, have sensed an opportunity amidst the country’s civil war. At the demand of its government, France launches Operation Serval and swiftly annihilates the coup plotters. This spectacular success of a counterinsurgency later gave way to Operation Barkhane, a longer-term effort to stabilize the larger Sahel, a region as vast as Europe itself, and prevent it from becoming a terrorist safe haven on the continent's doorstep. In spite of the bravery of the 5.000 French servicemen posted on the ground since, recent years have seen a return to instability. 160 people were murdered last week by jihadists in Northern Burkina Faso, whilst Mali is rocked by the second military coup in less than a year. Just as the US moves ahead with its scheduled withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, France seems embroiled in its own Sahelian version of “endless wars”. French Ambassador Gérard Araud and leading West Africa expert Michael Shurkin help us parse where we go from here. As always, rate and review Uncommon Decency on Apple Podcasts, and send us your comments or questions at @UnDecencyPod or uncommondecencypod@gmail.com.
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    29. Europe's Pirate State, with Hanna Liubakova & Vladislav Davidzon

    51:52

    On May 23rd, a Ryanair plane flying from Athens to Vilnius is instructed by a military jet to land in Minsk as it enters Belarusian airspace, on account that Hamas has a bomb planted on board. One passenger in particular couldn’t be fooled. Blogger Roman Protasevich, now jailed in his home country, is one of many political opponents to have fled Lukashenko’s brutal repression. The strongman’s authoritarian grip on the country has steadily risen since taking office in 1994, but the presidential race that rigged 80.1% of the vote in his favour last August has proved an inflection point. This latest feat of transnational airborne piracy on Europe’s doorstep is again testing the EU’s appetite for sanctions—and the Belarusian opposition's willingness to keep up the fight. Journalist Hanna Liubakova and Atlantic Council Fellow Vladislav Davidzon join us to unpack. As always, rate and review Uncommon Decency on Apple Podcasts, and send us your comments or questions at @UnDecencyPod or uncommondecencypod@gmail.com.
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    28. Europe's Supranational Ideology, with Anna Wellisz & John O'Sullivan CBE

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    As a generation, the under-30s in Europe have been fed by the textbook a worldview that sees the European Union (EU) as the sole conduit for enlightened, pacified and efficient relations among the nations of the continent. “Ideals” or “values” is the preferred term for those at the helm of the institutions sprung from these beliefs and a worrying lot of the public they’ve conscripted into them. That may be a distinction in kind with the deathlier forms of zealotry that the EU has replaced, but not in the degree to which said ideology is embraced. One belief system or another will necessarily come to govern the way power is apportioned and decisions are made in such an unwieldy locus of power as Brussels, and the one dominant at present demands a growing degree of signle-mindedness from its adherents. A few months upon the arduous conclusion of Brexit from which lessons seem yet to be learnt, the supranationalists closed ranks around the European Commission (EC)’s evidently disastrous vaccine procurement strategy, typecasting any critique as contrary to enlightened technocracy. Drawing on the best of the Uncommonly Decent contrarian spirit, we host two noted critics of European supranationalism to take stock of the past year—Anna Wellisz of the Edmund Burke Foundation and John O’Sullivan of the Danube Institute. Enjoy! Rate and review Uncommon Decency on Apple Podcasts, and send us your comments or questions at @UnDecencyPod or uncommondecencypod@gmail.com.

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