Sunday, December 31, 2017

Where to, ForeignPolicyFocus?

Nine years after I've launched this blog, I had more than one reason to decide closing it. Not that I am no more interested in watching and writing about foreign affairs, but somewhere, in the middle of my personal journey, I've got stuck trying to figure out where my writing plans in the domain of foreign affairs will lead to...
Besides a couple of books about foreign policy and the usual news watching on my computer, I haven't dedicated too much quality time to international affairs. My concerns were rather relevant to the everyday simple citizen than to the scholar with a passion for conflicts, their resolutions and international actors. After being a journalist for over ten years, with an intensive activity in the field of international conflicts and resolutions, EU affairs and democracy progress, it seemed that, at least for a short while, I got more interested in personal growth and development, travel adventures around the Globe and fashion vanities. Nothing wrong with any of them, but not too much time for chewing properly the international news, in order to put together all those valuable information that help you see beyond the daily layers of immediate interaction. 
But I am that kind of person that hardly gives up. As I am litle by little planning to be back to my academic routine, I still hope this blog can be easily the best medium for sharing my impressions and ideas about the latest relevant international facts. I do have lots of books that can't wait to review on the blog soon, a short book project about to be finished in the next two months and many other topics I would love to approach from probably a different angle. I honestly can't wait to, and I am looking forward to celebrate in 12 months a 10 years ForeignPolicyFocus bloganniversary with a dramatic makeshift and many writing pleasant surprises!
Until then, let's cheer up for a 2018 full of personal and professional achievements! And a lot of good news and less dictatorships, corruption and violence in the world!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The History of Cold War in 100 Objects

The Museum of the Allies - Alliirte Museum - in Berlin hosts until the 28th of January 2018 an exhibition aimed at telling the history of the Cold War in the divided city through 100 objects. 
The museum in itself - which can be visited for free - is an interesting testimony of the post-WWII times, with interesting stories and artifacts told through an interactive, well documented exhibition which includes movies and extensive documentation. In the case of this exhibition, the accompanying leaflet was extremely heavy, at least 100 pages - explaining every artifact in English, German and French - the main languages of Western Berlin during the Cold War. 

Only one quarter of the artifacts are part of the permanent exhibition. As a historian of the mentalities, I am always fascinated by the small stories told by every single simple object, even as humble as a road sign. Or the small pocket shaped piece of paper with the credo of the American soldiers in Berlin. Both the West and the East are covered in the exhibition, which make it a full picture of those times, through the small daily things in life.
You can write perfect Cold War novels by only matching some of the objects. The famous tunnel discovered in the 1990s in the Pankow area of Berlin, aimed at being used as a listening station or for sending spies to the East, is part of the permanent exbition at the Museum and it has its well deserved place among the other 100 Objects of the Cold War. 

For me, it was very interesting to notice how each of the three communities stationed in this city - French, British and American - settled, by the re-creation of their home communities. The French, for instance, had Quartier Foch, which I visited a decade ago, after its residents left long ago. It looked like a ghost city, with its supermarket and street names in French abandoned in a rush, but still there to remember of the recent times. West Berlin was a city with many cities inside, and this exhibition outlines some of the physical - not only mental - border of the time. 
A must see for anyone interested in the Cold War history and histories and Berlin in general.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Book Review: Rescue. Refugees and the Political Crisis of Our Time

As Foreign Secretary in Gordon Brown's government, David Miliband was an atypical chief diplomat, especially by introducing social media into the daily life of foreign service, a domain that is usually very reluctant when it comes to transparency and public exposure. 
After finishing his mandate and losing the political battle in his own Labour party against his brother, Ed, he is currently the CEO of the US-based International Rescue Committee (IRC). In this quality, he become acquainted with the refugee crisis in the Middle East and often visited the various conflict areas in Africa. Out of around 25 million official refugees and asylum seekers in the world, only 4 million of them are in camps which creates a need for offering support, especially at the policy level for those seeking a new citizenship status. 
His experiences and warnings in this respect are the subject of a book recently published: Rescue. Refugees and the Political Crisis of Our Time, which outlines pretty accurately the main challenges and reform directions in this field. Easy to read and appealing to a diverse public, the book is especially recommended to anyone interested to get an idea about the problem, but further development and references are more than necessary. It outlines the historical processes and the need to have a coherent response to populism, but equally a bussiness mindset aimed at obtaining adequate funding. 'Support for refugees is not only about high ideals and global leadership. One of the complex challenges for countries in this crisis centers around responsibility'. The more countries, institutions and individuals are involved the better for offering a proper answer to the current crisis and challenges, shaped not only by political circumstances, but equally by social and human responsibility.

Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review