How common swifts migrate, new research

This May 2020 video is called COMMON SWIFT – Apus apus – Foraging.

From Lund University in Sweden:

Rare pattern observed in migrating common swifts

September 15, 2020

Summary: Compared with other migratory birds, the common swift follows a very unusual pattern when it migrates from the breeding areas in Europe to its wintering locations south of the Sahara. This is what researchers have observed in a major eleven-year international study of the birds.

“Our study is very significant for understanding how organisms, in this case the common swift, can migrate from one part of the world to another, where access to food is much better at a given time,” says Susanne Åkesson, professor at Lund University and principal investigator of the study.

Common swifts that nest in Sweden and northern Europe arrive in sub-Saharan Africa four to six weeks later than the swifts that nest in southern Europe. By that time, the southern European swifts have already migrated even further south on the African continent. Hence the term chain migration, as opposed to the much more common pattern known as leap-frog migration, in which the populations that arrive first in a location claim the territory and occupy it, forcing populations that arrive later to leap-frog over the occupied area and fly further.

The common swift is the most mobile terrestrial bird in the world. When it is not breeding, it spends 24 hours a day airborne, for a total of ten months a year. According to the researchers, this has contributed to the species developing its unique migration pattern. Life in the air means that the swifts need a steady supply of energy and therefore food in the form of insects. This explains why the southern European populations migrate even further south in Africa when food availability increases there in the second half of the wintering period. It also explains why they are larger than their relatives from northern Europe. Quite simply, they make sure always to be in the region with the greatest availability of insects.

The researchers identified another factor determining the development of the common swift’s chain migration: they cannot claim a territory in the same way as birds that spend more time on the ground.

“The core reason why the common swift engages in chain migration, whereas almost all other birds such as songbirds, ducks, geese and waders have leap-frog migration patterns, can probably be found in the amount of time they spend airborne. The common swift is unique in spending ten months in the air,” says Susanne Åkesson.

“I think it is amazing that they know where food is to be found and when they should head for that specific location. They migrate over continents in such a way as to ensure continuous access to food and thereby to survive — they have a lifespan of over 20 years,” she continues.

The researchers tracked 102 common swifts (Apus apus) from eleven different populations that nest in Europe, from Swedish Lapland in the north to Spain in the south. Using micro data-loggers attached to the birds, which record data including time of sunrise and daylight duration, they were able to calculate longitude and latitude and thus to determine the location of the 102 individuals at various times during the year. The study involved researchers from 14 universities and bird conservation organisations.

Chain migration has previously only been observed in two species: the sharp-shinned hawk and the northern gannet.

European Baltic coast wildlife, documentary

This 12 June 2020 video says about itself:

The Baltic Coast: Wild Animal Paradise | Free Documentary Nature

This documentary presents the natural beauty of the shifting sand dunes of the Curonian Spit, the romantic beaches of the Latvian Baltic Sea and the island worlds of Estonia. Time and again, this deserted and almost untouched nature fascinates.

In the winter, ringed seals give birth to their young on the pack ice. In the spring, Konik wild horse stallions fight fierce battles amongst themselves, while colourful European rollers fly through the dune forests. Lynxes wander through the coastal forests and in the orchid meadows wrynecks and hoopoes find more than enough food. On the islands around Saaremaa in Estonia, grey seals hunt for fish. They share the archipelago with Europe’s largest tern, the Caspian tern.

Black Lives Matter, Italy, Austria, Finland

This June 2017 rap music video from Italy is called Karima 2G – POLICE.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Wave of protest in European cities: ‘Killing of George Floyd an important moment for awareness’

In more and more European cities, people demonstrate against racist violence and discrimination. The death of black arrestee George Floyd and the ongoing wave of demonstrations against it in the United States are causing many people to take to the streets.

Racism has already been massively demonstrated against in France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in the past. Now this also happens in countries where anger about racial discrimination has never or rarely caused large numbers of people to protest.

“The situation in Italy is sometimes similar to that in America,” said Anna Maria Gehnyei. “Here too many black people are killed. But no one talks about it. And the violence comes not only from the police but from everywhere.”

Better known as the rapper Karima 2G, Gehnyei hosted the stage of a major anti-racism demonstration in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo on Sunday.

Thousands of people showed up, “far more Italians than ever before have made a stand together against racism,” said Gehnyei. During the demonstration, the crowd held an eight-minute silence, about as long as Minneapolis policemen held George Floyd on the ground.

This Bloomberg news agency video says about itself:

Several hundred people protested peacefully in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo to denounce the killing of George Floyd and show solidarity with anti-racism protests in the U.S. and elsewhere.

In English and Italian, protesters chanted “I can’t breathe!” and kneeled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time George Floyd was pinned under a white police officer’s knee before he died.

The NOS article continues:

If you’re black, then you can’t avoid racism in Italy, Gehnyei says. “My father is from Liberia. In the 1990s, he worked for an embassy. He was regularly stopped by police officers. They assumed he stole the embassy car.”

According to Gehnyei, many male migrants are victims of violence. And many black women are mistaken for prostitutes on the street. “It’s actually a constant stream of verbal and physical abuse, and no one is protecting you,” said Gehnyei. “You are not safe anywhere.”

When asked whether Italy also has a certain fatal incident of great symbolic value, such as Floyd’s, Gehnyei says no. “Not one. We have a long list. Many migrants are killed by [neo-fascist] extremists.” But she acknowledges that the death of American George Floyd is an important moment of awareness, including in Italy.

This 4 June 2020 video is called Austria: Thousands flood Vienna streets in “Black Lives Matter” protest

“It was so beautiful to see Muslims, Jews, asylum seekers, Roma, white and black mobilize,” said Austrian MP Faika el-Nagashi about the demonstration last Thursday in Vienna. It was the largest demonstration in that country in decades, several Austrian media report.

El-Nagashi, the spokesman for diversity and integration of government coalition party The Greens, is enthusiastic about the massive turnout of an estimated 50,000 demonstrators. But she didn’t want to be directly involved in organizing it. “I stayed in the background because I wanted to keep politics out of it.”

“Eruption of unity”

The demonstration took place in a central square with a memorial to commemorate Marcus Omofuma, a Nigerian asylum seeker who died in 1999 during his deportation flight from Vienna. He was tied up by Austrian police officers and had duct tape taped to his mouth. On landing it turned out that he had been suffocated. The officers received a light sentence. It has become a symbol of the anti-racist movement in the country.

“A few weeks ago, a right-wing party called for that statue to be removed to make the park greener and more child-friendly,” said El-Nagashi. People would like to erase history under the guise of quality of life. “Omofuma is still a loaded name.”

Since the beginning of this year, her party, The Greens, has been in government. “But for months now, our major coalition partner, the conservative ‘Christian democrats’, has been blocking all of our human rights proposals. For example, to help asylum seekers trapped in Greek camps. And now, after three months of coronavirus lockdown, the time had come to say: enough. It was an outburst of unity, led by the black community.”

This 3r June 2020 video from Helsinki, Finland is called (translated) Left Youth Chair Liban Sheikh and Suldaan Said Ahmed in Black Lives Matter Protest.

“I’m 18 years old and just finished my commercial education. I’m a fashion model and I love to travel.” That’s how Sara Balhas introduces herself. She co-hosted one of the most surprising demonstrations in Helsinki last week.

“I was following what was going on in America, and I told my girlfriend that I felt powerless because I didn’t do anything about it. So the girlfriend sent me a text saying ‘hey, we should protest too.'”

Balhas agreed. “I went to find out how to get a permit. And I made some posters and flyers. We’re just two girls, but we did it. We thought we should do this.”

500 people were expected. It became 3,000. People from all backgrounds. At the start of the demonstration, all attendees knelt, following the example of many anti-racism protests in the US. “Our protest was not directed at the police. We were concerned with racism in general.”

And that is also in Finland, says Balhas. “My mother was a black Moroccan, my father Lebanese. People used to look at my mother disapprovingly when there were not many black people in this country.”

The discrimination against black people is sometimes subtle, says Balhas. “When you walk on the bus, they hold their breath. Or they say things like go back to your own country. They laugh at you at school and if your last name is not Finnish, you won’t get a job. You leave a shop, they’ll check if you’ve stolen something. I go through it all myself.”

30 European bird species and their songs

This 3 May 24020 video from the Netherlands is about 30 European bird species and their songs.

It says about itself:

Learn more about all those beautiful birds and their sounds.

1. GOLDFINCH (Carduelis carduelis)
2. NUTHATCH (Sitta europaea)
3. CHAFFINCH (Fringilla coelebs)
4. BLUE TIT (Cyanistes caeruleus)
5. BLACKBIRD (Turdus merula)
6. GREAT TIT (Parus major)
7. ROBIN (Erithacus rubecula)
8. SONG THRUSH (Turdus philomelos)
9. CHIFFCHAFF (Phylloscopus collybita)
10. WILLOW WARBLER (Phylloscopus trochilus)
11. EURASIAN JAY (Garrulus glandarius)
12. STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris)
13. MAGPIE (Pica pica) ..
14. GREEN WOODPECKER (Picus viridis)
15. WREN (Troglodytes troglodytes)
16. NIGHTINGALE (Luscinia megarhynchos)
17. TAWNY OWL (Strix aluco)
18. LONG-TAILED TIT (Aegithalos caudatus)
19. GOLDEN ORIOLE (Oriolus oriolus)
20. [SHORT-TOED] TREECREEPER (Certhia brachydactyla)
21. HAWFINCH (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
22. GREENFINCH (Chloris chloris)
23. GOLDCREST (Regulus regulus)
24. ICTERINE WARBLER (Hippolais icterina)
25. FIRECREST (Regulus ignicapilla)
26. COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)
27. COMMON LINNET (Linaria cannabina)
28. DUNNOCK (Prunella modularis)
29. WOOD PIGEON (Columba palumbus)
30. CARRION CROW (Corvus corone)

How young great tits grow up, video

This 10 April 2020 video says about itself:

Nesting To Learning To Fly Of Great Tit Chicks (Breeding Process)

The great tit (Parus major) is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is a widespread and common species throughout Europe, the Middle East, Central and east across the Palearctic to the Amur River, south to parts of North Africa where it is generally resident in any sort of woodland; most great tits do not migrate except in extremely harsh winters.

Until 2005 this species was lumped with numerous other subspecies. DNA studies have shown these other subspecies to be distinctive from the great tit and these have now been separated as two distinct species, the cinereous tit of southern Asia, and the Japanese tit of East Asia. The great tit remains the most widespread species in the genus Parus.

Coronavirus crisis in Europe

This 8 April 2020 video says about itself:

European Union’s most senior scientist resigns over bloc’s handling of Covid-19 crisis

The EU’s most senior scientist has resigned with a passionate denunciation of the bloc’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, claiming he has been blocked from funding treatments and vaccines.

Mauro Ferrari, the president of the European research council, said he had been “deeply disappointed and disturbed” by the EU’s efforts in reaction to what he described as “a tragedy of possibly unprecedented proportions”.

Ferrari resigned by sending an email. He writes: “I have been extremely disappointed by the European response to Covid-19, for what pertains to the complete absence of coordination of health care policies among member states, the recurrent opposition to cohesive financial support initiatives, the pervasive one-sided border closures, and the marginal scale of synergistic scientific initiatives.

“I have lost faith in the system itself. And now the times require decisive, focused, and committed actions – a call to responsibility for all those that have an aspiration to make a difference against this devastating tragedy.”

The European Commission this afternoon confirmed Professor Ferrari had quit. Spokesman Johannes Bahrke gave this statement.

“I have lost faith in the system itself”. Fired researcher Mauro Ferrari denounces EU inaction on COVID-19. By Alex Lantier, 13 April 2020. Distinguished scientist Mauro Ferrari was forced to resign as European Research Council president after calling for a coordinated struggle against the pandemic.

COVID-19 deaths surpass 76,000 in Europe as Spanish government sends millions back to work. By Robert Stevens, 13 April 2020. More than 30 National Health Service workers are reported to have died as the UK’s death toll rises above 10,000.

European Union to spend half a trillion euros on imperialist interests in coronavirus bailout. By Peter Schwarz, 13 April 2020. After two days of bitter disputes, the EU finance ministers agreed on a coronavirus bailout worth €500 billion.

Several cases of COVID-19 were confirmed last week at different Amazon warehouses in Poland, as the total number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 6,674 as of Sunday night. Two hundred and thirty-two people have reportedly died from the virus: here.

“If we stop working, nothing will move here anymore!” German nurses, carers, transport and delivery workers raise their voices. By Ulrich Rippert, 13 April 2020. It is the workers, not the capitalists, who are essential to social life.

Coronavirus update, Europe

This 2 April 2020 video was made by a drone flying over the Netherlands. Empty streets, empty railway stations, no tourists at attractions, because of the coronavirus.

The world has passed several grim milestones overnight in the coronavirus pandemic. The total number of people infected worldwide has hit one million. More than 50,000 people have died, and in the United States, where COVID-19 seems to be spreading most rapidly, there were more than 25,000 new cases and the death toll passed 5,000: here.

European countries, including Spain and the UK, announced record-high daily coronavirus death tolls Thursday. With the 4,199 new deaths yesterday, 37,864 have already perished in Europe. There have been more than 521,000 cases of COVID-19 infections on the continent including 33,661 new cases. In Spain, 950 died—the third consecutive day of a record high: here.

For emergency action against the destruction of jobs! Full financial and social support for all working people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic: here.

WILDCAT strikes by postal workers at three Scottish sorting offices over serious health and safety issues has forced Royal Mail to change its policy on delivering junk mail during the coronavirus crisis. Further walkouts are on the cards as issues surrounding protective equipment have not been resolved: here.

Striking postal workers, CWU members ‘safe distancing’ on the picket line at the Alloa Royal Mail sorting office, Scotland

This photo shows striking postal workers, CWU members ‘safe distancing’ on the picket line at the Alloa Royal Mail sorting office, Scotland.

From the World Socialist Web Site, 3 April 2020:

This week, postal workers walked out of the Royal Mail delivery office in Alloa in Clackmannanshire, Scotland. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) members were protesting the lack of protective equipment and failure of Royal Mail to ensure safe social distancing of workers in the office. They were also protesting having to deliver unnecessary junk mail leaflets, increasing their risk and that of the public to coronavirus exposure. One striker talking to the Daily Record explained, “We work on top of each other in the sorting office and it hasn’t got any better since the outbreak. The managers don’t seem to be bothered by it and just want us to continue working as normal”.

Fifteen postal workers at the Lochgelly delivery office in Fife went on strike over the same issues.

French lorry drivers threaten walkout over coronavirus

From Monday, French lorry drivers may walk out because of fears around the coronavirus outbreak.

The CFDT, FO and CFTC union members are concerned over lack of facilities to eat and clean up, as many roadside service facilities have closed as a result of the infection. They are also worried about not having protective clothing when carrying out deliveries. To date, only a few drivers have refused to take out their lorries.

Health staff at Spanish coronavirus hospital speak out against lack of resources

Staff at a 6,000-bed capacity field hospital set up at the Ifema convention centre in Madrid to deal with coronavirus patients have spoken out over conditions at the site. They told El Pais newspaper there is inadequate protection equipment and patients are confined within less than two metres of each other.

A nurse explained, “The patients are overcrowded…there are barely two steps between beds…There are no stands to hold up drips, we are using broomsticks.”

The health and administrative staff at the field hospital have voluntarily offered to work there rather than their usual workplaces. However, many are now reconsidering their decision, alarmed at the terrible conditions.

A doctor said, “[The] first day was devastating… it is a sad site, a grey concrete hangar…We are all volunteers except for the internists who coordinate… we came to give our all.” A nurse added that “enthusiasm doesn’t protect you and willpower doesn’t cure.”

Portuguese medics coronavirus concerns

Portuguese doctors are concerned at the level of coronavirus infections among health staff. According to a theportugalnews website article of April 1, 853 Portuguese health professionals, including 209 doctors and 177 nurses, have contracted the disease. There are also concerns over the lack of PPE.

The National Federation of Doctors (FNAM) and the Independent Doctors Union (SIM) have requested an urgent meeting with the Health Minister to raise the medics’ concerns.

Italian supermarket workers stressed out over coronavirus

Supermarket workers in Italy are worried over conditions as they try to cope with the impact of coronavirus. The virus claimed the life of a 48-year old cashier at a supermarket in Brescia in northern Italy last month. A 33-year-old supermarket guard has also died.

Some supermarkets have now installed Plexiglass shields and dispensed disinfectant gel and gloves, but workers know more should be being done.

Reported in the AFP/The Local news website April 1 a Rome supermarket cashier explained, “We’re also stressed out, but we can see they’re [the customers] pretty stressed too… You start thinking Oh God I have just touched my face, you get kind of paranoid.”

The report noted staff numbers at some supermarkets had been cut by a third because of sickness.

Britain: VENTILATORS are to be rationed, using tactics employed on the battlefield, where army medics choose who to treat and who to leave to bleed out depending on patients’ survival odds, doctors warn. New guidance from the British Medical Association (BMA) which will mean doctors deciding who will live and who will die states: ‘Health professionals may be obliged to withdraw treatment from some patients to enable treatment of other patients with a higher survival probability’: here.

Julian Assange still held on remand as coronavirus spreads through UK prisons. By Thomas Scripps, 3 April 2020. The WikiLeaks founder, held in Belmarsh prison and facing extradition to the US for exposing war crimes, has a chronic lung condition and has had his health destroyed by a decade of mistreatment by the British state: here.

Polish government insists on holding presidential elections in May despite coronavirus lockdown. By Clara Weiss, 3 April 2020. In polls taken last week, 73 percent opposed holding the elections as planned.

Experts criticise Swedish government for failing to prevent COVID-19 spread. By Jordan Shilton, 3 April 2020. As the government refuses to issue shelter-at-home orders, medical personnel are asking how many lives it intends to sacrifice to keep up production and profits: here.

European, Bangladeshi workers strike for their lives

This 30 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Amazon worker on why he’s organizing a protest against the company over coronavirus safety measures

Christian Smalls, who works at Amazon‘s facility in Staten Island, NY, discusses why he and others are staging a walkout to demand the building be closed due to what they say is the company’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis.

Amazon warehouse workers on New York’s Staten Island plan to strike Monday to call attention to what they called a lack of protections for employees who continue to come to work amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Nearly 100 workers at the facility, known as JFK8, plan to participate in the work stoppage, planned for noon ET. The employees will walk out Monday morning and “cease all operations” until their demands are heard by site leadership, said Chris Smalls, a management assistant at JFK8 and a lead organizer of the strike.

Smalls and other workers said they’ve grown increasingly concerned about coming into work after an employee tested positive for the virus last week. …

The workers want to pressure Amazon to close the facility for cleaning and offer employees paid time off while it’s shut down. Smalls said the facility has continued to run as usual since the employee tested positive. He fears the virus will spread like “wildfire” if no extra precautions are taken. JFK8 is 855,000 square feet and has 4,500 workers.

“Since the building won’t close by itself, we’re going to have to force [Amazon’s] hand,” said Smalls, who is also a member of nonprofit advocacy groups Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change. “We will not return until the building gets sanitized.”

By Robert Stevens, 1 April 2020:

With 30,000 dead in Europe from COVID-19: Workers strike to demand safe working conditions

1 April 2020

The worsening coronavirus crisis has taken the lives of over 30,000 people in Europe. This is accelerating the class struggle, as workers strike and protest to demand safe conditions.

With employers breaching social distancing measures and often not supplying even the most rudimentary personal protective equipment and hygiene supplies such as sanitisers and soap, strikes and protests have been mounted by Italian and Spanish auto and steel workers, Amazon workers, postal workers, bus drivers, supermarket staff and local government workers.

Bangladesh: Garment workers strike over safety amid COVID-19 crisis. By Wimal Perera, 1 April 2020. The anger of Bangladeshi factory workers is mounting because they are unable to practice “social distancing” in their plants or during transit.

Exculpating Hitler for World War II?

This 8 September 2018 video says about itself:

Despite calling his party “National Socialist” (a.k.a. Nazi), Hitler abolished unions, privatized many industries, and was backed by corporations.

(This clip is excerpted from my new one-hour special “Rick Steves’ The Story of Fascism in Europe.”

By Professor Dr. Anis H. Bajrektarevic:

International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East and the Balkans. Prof. Dr. Anis H. Bajrektarevic is professor in international law and global political studies, based in Vienna, Austria. In his comprehensive analysis entitled “3De-evolution of Europe – The equation of Communism with Nazism” he is analysing equation of Communism with Nazism.

3De-evolution of Europe – The equation of Communism with Nazism
(First part)

It was indeed cynical and out-of-touch for the EU (Parliament) to suddenly blame, after 80 years, the Soviet Union for triggering WWII. It is unwise (to say least) to resurrect the arguments surrounding the circumstances of the start of World War II. The historians have agreed, the history has been written and well documented, and is in our books already for many decades.

There is no point in contemporary politicians of eastern flank of the EU (with a striking but complicit silence from central Europe) pushing up the facts regarding who was to blame. There are neither mandated, nor qualified or even expected to do so.

Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, Mussolini ‘s Italy and its satellites (helped by the ring of Useful Idiots, then called Quislings) were the culprits and that is universally accepted with no exception. It is now all in the past. Let us leave it there and not in the 21st century which has severe multiplying challenges, especially for the EU, that are still waiting to be tackled.

* * * * *

Enveloped in its own myopia of economic egoism and überfremdung phobia, Europeans are in fact digging and perpetuating defensive self-isolation. While falling short to constructively engage its neighborhood (but not conveniently protected by oceans for it like some other emigrant-receiving countries), Europeans constantly attract unskilled migrants from that way destabilized near abroad. The US, GCC, Far East, Australia, Singapore, lately even Brazil, India, or Angola – all have enormously profited from the skilled newcomers. Europe is unable to recognize, preserve, protect and promote its skilled migrants.

Simply, European history of tolerance of otherness is far too short for it, while the legacies of residual fears are deep, lasting and wide. Destructive efforts towards neighbors and accelatered hatreds for at home are perpetually reinforcing themselves. That turns Europe into a cluster of sharply polarized and fragmented societies, seemingly over history and identity, but essentially over the generational and technological gap, vision and forward esteem.

One of the latest episodes comes from a recent political, and highly ahistorical, initiative to make an equation of communism with Nazism. Driven by the obsessive Russophobe notion, this myopic short-term calculus may bring disastrous long-term consequences – first and most of all for the Slavic Eastern/southeastern Europe, as well as to the absent-minded Scandinavian Europe, or cynically silent Central Europe.

Needless to say, consensus that today’s Europe firmly rests upon is built on antifascism. This legacy brought about prosperity and tranquility to Europe unprecedented all throughout its history. Sudden equation of communism with Nazism is the best and fastest way to destroy the very fundaments of Europe once for good.

One is certain, the EU-led Europe is in a serious moral and political crisis of rapid de-evolution. Let’s have a closer look.

Una hysteria importante

History of Europe is the story of small hysteric/xenophobic nations, traditionally sensitive to the issue of ethnic, linguistic, religious, and behavioristic otherness. If this statement holds the truth, then we refer to events before and after the Thirty Years’ War in general and to the post-Napoleonic Europe in particular. Political landscape of today’s Europe had been actually conceived in the late 14th century, gradually evolving to its present shape.

At first, the unquestioned and unchallenged pre-Westphalian order of Catholicism enabled the consolidation and standardization of the feudal socio-economic and politico-military system all over Europe. However, at its matured stage, such a universalistic world of Holy Roman Empire and Papacy (Caesaropapism) is steadily contested by the explicitly confrontational or implicitly dismissive political entities, be it ideologically (the Thirty Years’ War culminating with the Peace of Westphalia) or geopolitically (Grand Discoveries and the shift of the gravity center westwards). The early round of colonizers, the two Iberian empires of Spain and Portugal, are the first entities that emerged, followed by France, Holland, England and Denmark. (Belgium too, although it appeared as a buffer zone at first – being a strategic depth, a continental prolongation of England for containment of Central Europeans, of Dutch and Scandinavians from the open sea, while later on also becoming a strategic depth of France for balancing Britain and containment of Denmark and Prussia.)

Engulfed with the quest of the brewing French revolution for the creation of a nation state, these colonizers, all of them situated on the Atlantic flank of Europe, have successfully adjusted to the nation-state concept. Importantly, the very process of creation/formation of the nation-state has been conducted primarily on linguistic grounds since religious grounds were historically defeated once and for all by the Westphalia [1]. All peoples talking the Portugophone dialects in one state, all Hispanophone dialects in another state, all Francophone dialects in the third state, etc [2]. This was an easy cut for peripheral Europe, the so-called old colonizers on the Atlantic flank of Europe, notably for Portugal, Spain, France, England, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Although geopolitically defeated at home, in France, and ideologically contained by the Vienna Congress and its instrument – the Holy Alliance of Eastern Conservative Courts, the very idea of a nation-state remained appealing. Both of that-time federations of theocracies (the non-territorial principle-based Habsburg and the Ottoman empires) were inevitably corroding by two ‘chemical’ precursors: secularism (enlightenment) and territoriality. Once the revolutionary 1848 ousted the principal guardian of feudalism and Rimo-Christian orthodoxy in Europe, Metternich, the suppressed concept got further impetus. And, the revolutionary romance went on…

Interestingly, the very creation of Central Europe’s nation-states was actually enhanced by Napoleon III. The unification of Italophones was his, nearly obsessive, intentional deed (as he grew up in Nice with Italian Carbonari revolutionaries who were fighting papal and Habsburg’s control over the northern portions of today’s Italy). Conversely, the very unification of Germanophones under the Greater Prussia was his non-intentional mischief, with the two subsequently emerging ‘by-products’; modern Austria (German-speaking core assembled on the ruins of mighty multinational and multi-lingual empire) and modern Turkey (Turkophone core on the ruins of mighty multiracial and multi-linguistic empire).

Despite being geographically in the heart of Europe, Switzerland remained a remarkably stable buffer zone: Highly militarized but defensive and obsessively neutral, economically omnipresent yet financially secretive, it represents one confederated state of two confronting versions of western Christianity, of three ethnicities and of four languages. Absent from most of the modern European politico-military events – Switzerland, in short – is terra incognita.

Historically speaking, the process of Christianization of Europe that was used as the justification tool to (either intimidate or corrupt, so to say to) pacify the invading tribes, which demolished the Roman Empire and brought to an end the Antique age, was running parallel on two tracks. The Roman Curia/Vatican conducted one of them by its hammer: the Holy Roman Empire. The second was run by the cluster of Russophone Slavic Kaganates, who receiving (the orthodox or true/authentic, so-called Eastern version of) Christianity from Byzantium, and past its collapse, have taken over a mission of Christianization, while forming its first state of Kiev Russia (and thereafter, its first historic empire). Thus, to the eastern edge of Europe, Russophones have lived in an intact, nearly a hermetic world of universalism for centuries: one empire, one Tsar, one religion and one language [3] .

Everything in between Central Europe and Russia is Eastern Europe, rather a historic novelty on the political map of Europe. Very formation of the Atlantic Europe’s present shape dates back to 14th–15th century, of Central Europe to the mid-late 19th century, while a contemporary Eastern Europe only started emerging between the end of WWI and the collapse of the Soviet Union – meaning, less than 100 years at best, slightly over two decades in the most cases. No wonder that the dominant political culture of the Eastern Europeans resonates residual fears and reflects deeply insecure small nations. Captive and restive, they are short in territorial depth, in demographic projection, in natural resources and in a direct access to open (warm) seas. After all, these are short in historio-cultural verticals, and in the bigger picture-driven long-term policies. Eastern Europeans are exercising the nationhood and sovereignty from quite recently, thus, too often uncertain over the side and page of history. Therefore, they are often dismissive, hectic and suspectful, nearly neuralgic and xenophobic, with frequent overtones.

The creation of a nation-state (on linguistic grounds) in the peripheral, Atlantic and Scandinavian, as well as Central Europe was relatively a success-story. However, in Eastern Europe it repeatedly suffered setbacks, culminating in the Balkans, Caucasus and the Middle East. The same calamity also remained in the central or Baltic part of Eastern Europe [4] .

Keeping the center soft

Ever since Westphalia, Europe maintained the inner balance of powers by keeping its core section soft. Peripheral powers like England, France, Denmark, (early Sweden and Poland to be later replaced by) Prussia and Habsburgs, and finally the Ottomans and Russia have pressed on and preserved the center of continental Europe as their own playground. At the same time, they kept extending their possessions overseas or, like Russia and the Ottomans, over the land corridors deeper into Asian and MENA proper. Once Royal Italy and Imperial Germany had appeared, the geographic core ‘hardened’ and for the first time started to politico-militarily press onto peripheries. This new geopolitical reality caused a big security dilemma. That dilemma lasted from the 1814 Vienna congress up to Potsdam conference of 1945, being re-actualized again with the Berlin Wall destruction: How many Germanies and Italies should Europe have to preserve its inner balance and peace? [5] As the latecomers, the Central Europeans have faced the overseas world out of their reach, as clearly divided into spheres of influence solely among the Atlantic Europeans (and Russians).

In rather simplified terms, one can say that from the perspective of European belligerent parties, both world wars were fought between the forces of status quo and the challengers to this status quo. The final epilogue in both wars was that Atlantic Europe has managed to divert the attention of Central Europeans from itself and its vast overseas possessions onto Eastern Europe, and finally towards Russia [6].

Just to give the most illustrative of many examples; the Imperial post-Bismarck Germany has carefully planned and ambitiously grouped its troops on the border with France. After the assassination of the Austrian Archduke in Sarajevo (28 June 1914), Europe was technically having a casus belli – as the subsequent mutually declared war between all parties quickly followed this assassination episode and the immediate Austrian ultimatum to Serbia. However, the first armed engagement was not taking place on the southeastern front, as expected – between the Eastern belligerent parties such as Austria, Serbia, Russia, the Ottomans, Greece, Bulgaria, etc. The first military operations of WWI were actually taking place in the opposite, northwest corner of Europe – something that came only two months past the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia. It was German penetration of Belgian Ardennes.

Still, the very epilogue of la Grande Guerra was such that a single significant territorial gain of Germany was achieved only in Eastern Europe. Despite a colossal 4-years long military effort, the German western border remained nearly unchanged.

The end of WWI did not bring much of a difference. The accords de paix – Versailles treaty was an Anglo-French triumph. These principal Treaty powers, meaning: Atlantic Europe, invited Germany to finally join the League of Nations in 1926, based on the 1925 Treaty of Locarno. By the letter of this treaty, Germany obliged itself to fully respect its frontiers with Belgium and France (plus demilitarized zone along Rhine) with the unspecified promise to arbitrate before pursuing any change of its borders with Czechoslovakia and Poland. The same modus operandi applied to the Austrian borders with Italy, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The Locarno accord actually instrumentalized two sorts of boundaries around Central Europe (Germany–Austria): strict, inviolable ones towards Atlantic Europe; but semipermeable and soft towards Eastern Europe [7] .

That is how the predominant player from Central Europe, Germany, was accepted to the League, a collective system which the Soviet Russia (meaning: Russophone Europe) was admitted to only a decade later (1934).

Soon after, this double standard sealed-off a faith of many in Europe and beyond.

(End of the 1st Part)

[1] To be more accurate: Westphalia went beyond pure truce, peace and reconciliation. It re-confirmed existence of western Christianity’s Ummah. Simply, it only outlawed meddling into the intra-western religious affairs by restricting that-time absolute Papal (interpretative) powers. From that point of view, Westphalia was not the first international instrument on religious freedoms, but a triumph of western evangelic unity. This very unity later led to the strengthening of western Christianity and its supremacy intercontinentally.
[2] All modern European languages that are taught in schools today, were once upon a time, actually a political and geographic compromise of the leading linguists, who – through adopted conventions – created a standard language by compiling different dialects, spoken on the territory of particular emerging nation-state.
[3] Early Russian state has ever since expanded north/northeast and eastward, reaching the physical limits of its outreach by crossing the Bering straits (and the sale of Russian Alaska to the USA in 1867). By the late 17th and early 18th century, Russia had begun to draw systematically into European politico-military theatre. (…) In the meantime, Europe’s universalistic empire dissolved. It was contested by the challengers (like the Richelieu’s France and others–geopolitical, or the Lutheran/Protestant – ideological challengers), and fragmented into the cluster of confronted monarchies, desperately trying to achieve an equilibrium through dynamic balancing. Similar political process will affect Russian universal empire only by late 20th century, following the Soviet dissolution. (…) Not fully accepted into the European collective system before the Metternich’s Holy Alliance, even had its access into the post-Versailles system denied, Russia was still not ignored like other peripheral European power. The Ottomans, conversely, were negated from all of the security systems until the very creation of the NATO (Republic of Turkey). Through the pre-emptive partition of Poland in the eve of WWII, and successful campaigns elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Bolshevik Russia expanded both its territory and its influence westwards. (…) An early Soviet period of Russia was characterized by isolated bilateral security arrangements, e.g. with Germans, Fins, Japanese, etc. The post-WWII days have brought the regional collective system of Warsaw Pact into existence, as to maintain the communist gains in Europe and to effectively oppose geopolitically and ideologically the similar, earlier formed, US-led block. Besides Nixon’s rapprochement towards China, the collapse of the Soviet Union was the final stage in the progressive fragmentation of the vast Sino-Soviet Communist block (that dominated the Eurasian land mass with its massive size and centrality), letting Russia emerge as the successor. The sudden ideological and territorial Soviet break-up, however, was followed by the cultural shock and civil disorder, painful economic and demographic crisis and rapidly widening disparities. All this coupled with the humiliating wars in Caucasus and elsewhere, since the centripetal and centrifugal forces of integration or fragmentations came into the oscillatory play. Between 1989 and 1991, communist rule ended in country after country and the Warsaw Pact officially dissolved. Subsequently, the Gorbachev-Jeltsin Russia experienced the greatest geopolitical contraction of any major power in the modern era and one of the fastest ever in history. Still, Gorbachev-Jeltsin tandem managed to (re-)brand themselves domestically and internationally – each got its own label of vodka.
[4] Many would say that, past the peak Ottoman times, the aggressive intrusion of Atlantic Europe with its nation-state concept, coupled with Central Europe’s obsessive control and lebensraum quest, has turned lands of a mild and tolerant people, these pivotal intellectual exchange-corridors of southeastern Europe and the Near East into a modern day Balkan powder keg. Miroslav Krleza famously remarked: “It was us humans who transformed our good swine to a filthy pig.”
[5] At the time of Vienna Congress, there were nearly a dozen of Italophone states and over three dozens of Germanophone entities – 34 western German states + 4 free cities (Kleinstaaterei), Austria and Prussia. Potsdam conference concludes with only three Germanophone (+ Lichtenstein + Switzerland) and two Italophone states (+ Vatican).
[6] Why did the US join up Atlantic Europe against Central Europe in both WWs? Simply, siding up with Central Europe would have meant politico-military elimination of Atlantic Europe once and for all. In such an event, the US would have faced a single European, confrontation-potent, block of a formidable strategic-depth to engage with sooner or later. Eventually, Americans would have lost an interfering possibility of remaining the perfect balancer. The very same balancer role, the US inherited from the declining Britain.
[7] Farce or not, history of 1914 nearly repeated itself to its last detail in early 1990s. And, it was not for the first time. 25 and again 75 years after 1914 – meaning that 1939. was nearly copied by the events of 9/11 in 1989. Hence, November 1989 was the third time that the western frontiers of Central Europe remained intact, while the dramatic change took place to its East. Besides Anschluss of Eastern Germany by the Western one, borders there in 1990s nominally remained the same, but many former neighbors to Central Europe have one by one disappeared for good from the political map of Eastern Europe.

Author is professor in international law and global political studies, based in Vienna, Austria. His 7th book From WWI to www. 1918-2018 is published by the New York’s Addleton Academic Publishers last winter.

Ljubljana/Vienna, 26 January 2020

The sequel is here.

Historical revisionism now a clear and present danger. There’s a growing movement to draw an equivalence between those who created Auschwitz and those who liberated it, warns PHIL KATZ.