This Week’s Top 5 Picks in International History and Diplomacy

Image result for foreignaffairs Why Europe Is Getting Tough on China

Why Europe Is Getting Tough on China

Andrew Small

Foreign Affairs

Over the past two years, Washington has come to embrace a policy of strategic competition with China. The Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy and National Security Strategy make clear that the United States sees China as a great power rival not only militarily but also in a contest for economic and technological supremacy.

As a result, an effective coalition to manage China’s rise can no longer center on Asian security partnerships alone but must now include the world’s principal concentrations of economic power, technological progress, and liberal democratic values. Among these are many of the United States’ partners in the Indo-Pacific, such as Australia, India, and Japan. But the European Union and its major member states are also becoming increasingly critical U.S. counterparts in dealing with China. (Read more)

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Not Blair’s War, but Britain’s

Patrick Porter

History Today

In 2003 Britain joined a US-led coalition to invade Iraq. In folk memory, it has become ‘Blair’s War’, driven by his delusions, his bad faith and his close alignment with a US president. But it was not just Blair’s War. It was Britain’s. The will to war was wider than many like to recall. As long as Blair is the scapegoat, Britons will fail to confront questions of security and power. It could all happen again.

‘Operation Telic’ was a defeat: Britain’s first since the withdrawal from Aden in 1967, its largest-scale combat since Korea, biggest disappointment since Suez and most polarising since the Boer War. It was meant to be a lightning strike on the regime of Saddam Hussein, which would give rise to a constitutional government and create a benign domino effect in the Middle East. It cost the UK £9 billion, degenerating into an attritional counterinsurgency campaign, with troops outnumbered and at times outgunned. Hundreds more troops died and thousands more were wounded than envisaged. (Read more)

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The only way to halt climate change is to challenge the logic of capitalism

Grace Blakeley

New Statesman

Last Saturday, as Brexit continued to dominate the headlines, Momentum activists sought to draw the nation’s attention to a slightly more pressing issue. The group staged protests outside bank branches across the UK to put pressure on financial institutions such as Barclays to stop “financing climate chaos” after a report revealed that the bank is the largest single lender to fossil fuel companies.

And chaos is exactly what we are facing. On current trends, the planet is set to warm by at least three degrees by 2030. At such temperatures the environmental systems that sustain human life would start to collapse. Harvests would fail, water cycles would be disrupted, and extreme weather events would become the norm. Huge swathes of the planet would become uninhabitable, killing millions of people and displacing many more. (Read more)

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Free Trade Brexit: Think Tanks And Pressure Groups In Modern British Politics

Aaron Ackerley

History Matters

The role of opaquely-funded, right-wing think tanks, pressure groups, and lobby groups in the Brexit saga has been foregrounded recently. This is partially due to the surprisingly central role the Jacob Rees-Mogg-fronted European Research Group (ERG) has come to attain in the lead up to the original date for Britain leaving the EU and calls to revoke Article 50. The longer history of such groups in British politics is underappreciated, however.

Think tanks and pressure groups played a role in the Leave campaign, though their influence is impossible to evaluate. Their efforts were only one part of the much wider array of forces presenting the Leave case and attempting to convince the electorate. Aside from politicians and political parties – such as anti-EU Tory backbenchers, UKIP, and a smattering of Labour Lexit campaigners – sections of the British media, especially the tabloid press, also played a central role. (Read more)

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Petition! Petition!! Petition!!!: Mass petitions in historical context

Henry Miller and Richard Huzzey

History Workshop

Petitions are an ancient type of interaction between people and authority that continue to be central to British political culture in the twenty-first century.  At the time of writing over 6 million names have been attached to an e-petition to Parliament to revoke article 50 to enable the UK to remain in the EU.  Petitions and petitioning – the practices of writing, signing and presenting petitions – have taken diverse forms throughout human history in different periods, places and political systems.  In this article, we’ll be looking at how the modern form of mass petitions emerged in the nineteenth century to compare them with contemporary e-petitions.

Petitions are formalised requests to authority signed by one or more people. Although in the Middle Ages petitions were often oral supplications rather than written documents, by the early modern period, England was a ‘petitioning society’ and petitions were also well-established in Scotland.  The first explosion of mass political petitioning occurred in the seventeenth century during the English Civil Wars of the 1640s and in the political crises that preceded the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688.  It is clear from the historical record that petitions have historically always been an instrument of rule as well as an instrument of protest. But the double-edged nature of petitions means that they always retain a potential to be subversive as well as submissive. As a survey of early modern Europe has recently suggested, petitions were often as much as a powder keg likely to blow up in rulers faces as a safety valve. (Read more)

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