21 October 2007

Recent events in Europe

Robert Gates, the US Secretary of Defense, is visiting Europe. Interestingly enough, he's spending his first two days in Ukraine.

Mikhail Gorbachev has launched a new political movement in Russia. The group's statement warns that "the potential for free democratic choice and political competition is being limited... This is why social-democrats are uniting to fight for the values of freedom and fairness." Let's hope that this represents, at long last, a counterforce against the Putin regime's drift toward fascism.

Meanwhile, western Europe took a big step away from democracy as the leaders of the 27 EU member states approved a new treaty essentially identical to the EU Constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in referenda in 2005. The treaty transfers substantial powers from the elected national governments to the central insti-tutions of the EU, which lack democratic accountability. There is still some hope that the treaty can be stopped, since it will need to be ratified in each country. Reports (from a British viewpoint) here and here.

Amsterdam has suffered several days of violent Muslim rioting, apparently triggered by the shooting of a Muslim who had entered a police station and started stabbing police officers. Reports here, here, here, and here. Update: Here's more.

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