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Posts Tagged ‘ Russia ’

The Goggle Box – House Of Cards Splits The Deck

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House Of Cards Season 3 has been and gone and opinions are divided at best. Was the third season of a binge watch TV series ever going to go down a treat? Probably not. Are we all fools to have plowed through all 13 episodes in no time at all? Probably, yes. But the burning question, was it any good? Yes; and here’s why.

Lads, seriously, full spoilers for House Of Cards follow.

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Realpolitik: Big Boy Games, Big Boy Rules

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Today we learned of a fracture in the western alliance system as French and German leaders head off to Russia for peace talks on the Ukrainian crisis. This is a desperate and misguided attempt to reach a resolution, which in all likelihood is going to fail. The inescapable fact is that Russia is an aggressive state with a belligerent leader, who has thus far only played the realpolitik game. Already torn up is the German-brokered ceasefire from late 2014, not to mention treaties from the nineties which guaranteed Ukrainian border integrity. Without anyone effectively challenging Putin, there is no reason to believe that he will sit down and settle a political solution. The famed strongman of world politics will only back down and make terms when the alternative for him, continued belligerence, is the worse option.

One can only wonder where Angela Merkel’s reputation as the Iron Lady of Europe came from. So far she has only continually reiterated her country’s unwillingness to fight or supply arms to the Ukrainians as well as opposing proposals for new stationing of NATO troops in Eastern European countries. This stance is undoubtedly popular in a Germany which is still dealing with war guilt towards Russia and is more sceptical of its relationship with the United States. Merkel has also previously been praised for her understanding of Russia, having grown up in East Germany and for her fluent Russian. However her understanding had an obvious blind spot in the Crimea crisis. German-backed energy deals with Russia were no hindrance to the illegal annexation of Crimea and invasion of East Ukraine. Europe has effectively been caught with its pants down. Continue reading

Crisis Year: International Relations 2014

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In a morose way, 2014 has been a fascinating year for those with an interest in International Relations. Resurgent Russia and Islamic State have presented two prominent challenges to western liberal world order. The optimistic ‘end of history’ liberalism of the 1990’s now feels like a golden bygone era of stability and prosperity. In its place is a world where the hegemonic power of the United States is limited by insurgencies and despotic powers. In the field of international relations, realist scholars have had a long awaited ‘we told you so moment’. John Mearsheimer has ruffled many feathers with his article in Foreign Affairs ‘Why the Crisis in Ukraine is the West’s Fault’. Regardless of how palatable it is, Mearsheimer’s argument is frustratingly robust, and he presents credible counters to his critics. EU and NATO expansion has encroached into a region that Russia considers critical to its own security, and the latter has firmly drawn a line in the sand, violating international treaties and norms in a display of pure power politics. Although Russia is paying a price, it has asserted itself outside of its own borders in a way that the west cannot prevent. It seems that at long last, balancing is occurring, and the ‘rest’ are pushing back against the ‘west’ after a decade of diminishing US legitimacy and soft power. Continue reading

Autarky In Weaponry- Russia’s Not So New Option

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Russia’s resurgence is reminiscent of the Cold War in numerous ways, and already, some of the same mistakes are being made. In particular, Russia’s latest move towards self-sufficiency in weapons production is doing it no favours.

Over the last few months Russia has announced moves towards domestic procurement of weaponry to offset reliance on imports. Famously we have the French built-aircraft carrier now floating idly in port after France was pressured into halting the transaction.  Vladimir Putin announced moves to invest in domestic high-tech industries. This is the kind of rhetoric that politicians wheel out to appeal to patriotic sentiment, but in the reality is simply untenable and hinders a country militarily. Full-spectrum and autonomous weapons production was once a necessity to be a great power but in the globalised age is untenable. Continue reading

Neither – Kate Nolan’s Beautiful New Photo-book

1Neither_Nolan-572x720Neither, a self-published photo-book by Dublin based artist Kate Nolan, is an exploration of the story of Kaliningrad. Told from the female perspective, Neither is unique in that it isn’t about the past or the future, nor about the present, but it is a closely woven tale somewhere between fact and fiction, documentation and dream. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: The Story So Far

worldcup (easports)

With the World Cup group stages now having come to an end, we’re here to provide a full review of the action over the last week, as people get geared up for the knockout rounds. There have been plenty of twists and turns in this World Cup so far, and you can find out how all the groups ended right here.

Group A:

Brazil were in a strong position at the end of the first week, having beaten Croatia and earned a draw against Mexico. With their final group game this week, they put a tepid Cameroon side to the sword, winning 4-1. Neymar notched another two goals, adding to his claim to be the tournament’s star performer. Even more encouraging for the host side, the under-fire striker Fred notched his first goal of the tournament, easing the pressure a little. But Brazil will need big improvements, with the knockout rounds up next. Continue reading

News In Brief: Varadkar Says Cups Are Ok As Dempsey Springs To The Rescue

Don't be a mug while your driving! (image: urbanoutfitters.com)

Don’t be a mug while your driving! (image: urbanoutfitters.com)

Musician Damien Dempsey has cemented his place in Wexford’s own Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of fame after rescuing two ailing swimmers in the River Slaney, before drying himself off and carrying on to his scheduled gig. What a man. He didn’t even mention it afterwards. According to reports he swam him, towed the swimmers back to safety, got out, picked up his shoes and walked off into the sunset. Honest to God. Dempsey for president!

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