GT in the EU

An extraordinary education

Author: Katherine Hewitt


In response to our visit to Omaha Beach in Normandy, I wrote a poem in an effort to capture the fleeting feelings and emotions of the beach.

Gray touches Gray.  The Green is out of place.  Waves seep the shore clean.

The Breeze rushes through you, by you, up, up  towards the lush cliffs.

Like Water rubbing the cliffs away, the wind leaves the soul and mind

rough and bare.  The Tide draws you out, pulling you further from shelter.

Slowly Sand sways under your step.  Water encloses your foot,  step by step.

Closer to where Gray touches Gray.  The Cold morphs away as the tide pulls

you further,  further into its grasps, piercing your soul, making you forget.



Silence.  Silence crawling up your spine, seeping into your souls and weaving in

your mind.  Rolling Waves hush.  NOT Telling of the remains pulled back.

refusing to reveal the bygone souls.  There lays a Sole scrap succumbing

to the sea slowly,  slowly trying to stay a float in the sinking sand.

Every Tide carries sand to soften the edges, burying the remainder

encouraging Gray touching Gray.



Follow the Wind.  Allow it to turn you.  Cliffs asunder out from the land

meeting the clouds.  Gray touches Gray.  Quaint Cottages once lost in the mist

find souls.  Pivoting, Following the land, find Yourself in the presence of the upward

looming defense.  Eeriness shudders.  All alone where Gray touches Gray.

Soundlessly the Breeze ruffles through the foliage surprising the voice

of the land, the story of forgotten souls.  Twisting, Intertwining leaves smooth

over the damage.  Death marked only by ST. Bishop’s lace.  Here no Gray touches Gray.

Clean up, Clean up, Everybody do your share

With the creation of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change in the 1990s and its ratification in 1994, came the emergence of the “common but differentiating responsibility” Article. The developed (Annex 1) nations such as the U.S., Britain, and Germany (the three greatest Industrial powers in the 1860s) were able to use “dirty” methods in factories in an effort to modernize Industry and bring about an economic development. However, under the scientific research, the fossil fuels that were burned produced polluting emissions such as CO2 (climate change) and sulfur and nitrous oxides (acid rain) that damaged the environment. The UN came together to mitigate and to adapt to this new security challenge by reducing the amount of emissions. According to the developing nations (Non-Annex 1 countries), these Annex 1 countries had been allowed to develop their industries and spark GDP increases without knowing that the side effects were so damaging, yet the Non-Annex I countries were not allowed to have the chance to develop their economies through industry building. Hence a common (fighting climate change) but differentiated (developed take more responsibility) challenge.

This is ridiculous. Developing countries continue polluting the air with emissions that cause climate change–a phenomenon that will hit the developing world hardest. Take Africa for example, most nations there are under the classification of Non-Annex I countries. There has been something of a mini-industrial revolution in certain cities. (People are moving away from their farms or tribes in the African “country-side” towards the city looking for work in factories, creating very much similar situations in the 1860s.) The factories want to use cheap factors of production–coal and burning fossil fuels–to keep costs down. However, these areas  experience first hand the side effects of this. The desertification of the North Africa with more droughts and less food….. driving more people to the city looking for work. South East Asia has also seen the increase in industrialization, yet constantly see heavy flooding and the disappearance of their coastal areas where people still live in fishing communities. One would think that as these as these countries see the devastating affects of climate change, and must pay to provide aid and adaptive methods like sea walls and wells that the governments would be on board with trying to eliminate/ lessen a problem that cause instability and the divergence of money that could be spent elsewhere like in clean energy technology.

Another solution, gradually invest in the development and research of clean technologies. And isn’t the investment in technology one of the biggest contributions to increase a country’s GDP??? Nothing has to be so immediate that it causes the economies to spiral down. But no one said that the key to economic growth is emitting dangerous contaminates into the environment. For example, in the 2000s the economy saw a boost from the Technological Revolution.

China needs to step up and acknowledge that they are a developed nation. Their GDP is one the largest. Their economy is growing at fast rate. They own debt of several developed nations. The U.S is dependent on China as a trading partner. No China… No strong U.S economy. A healthy economy is part of being a developed nation. If classified as an Annex I member then China would have a binding requirement to reduce the emissions, and as one of the largest world emitters this would create a significant effect.

These countries, in particular those who control the governments, are just using this “identity” (developing country) as an excuse to not take part in a communal problem, letting other people deal with the issue, free riding on the works of others. It is the tragedy of the commons in another form. No one wants to take the initiative and do something really shocking and beneficial towards the universal issue of climate change (the EU has been the closest). Every country should pitch in and help. CO2 and methane collect in the air and the effects will continue to be felt for centuries, so what these “developing” nations emit now will just undo their own economic progress as well as what being done by other countries who are at least trying to do something. Stern notes that “the emissions of developing nations are likely to raise more rapidly.” To make a large impact and reduce the temperature so not to have to the worst possible scenario predicted by the IPCCC and climate scientists every nation must develop and follow through on policies of reduction, mitigation, and adaption.

Some Things are Better Left in the Past

After the World Wars, people hoped to never experience the atrocities and world destruction brought on by an all-out war.  Institutions such as the European Coal and Steel Community (the foundations of the EU), NATO, and the UN were developed in an effort to bring peace and trust among nations by creating an area in which to discuss relations that would unite nations together in such a way as to make war costly and unadvantageous.  So far, while there have been wars and conflicts, none have been as large-scale and devastating as WWII.

In the past few years feelings of pre-WWII tensions have emerged, especially in the older generations who remember the 1930s and 1940s.  My godmother is Dutch and her mother (who was a close family friend) grew up in the Netherlands under the political turmoil of the 30s, the Nazi occupation during the war itself, and the American reconstruction afterwards as an older teenager and a young adult.  About five or six years ago she mentioned that socially and politically the world felt as it did in the years leading up to WWII.  I believe that the such an idea would have been scoffed at in the media and possibly by the diplomats themselves at that time.  Our main concern in America was the Middle East and the war on terrorism, something that did not spark memories of the Nazi domination.  Yes, there had been a few skirmishes in the East with Russia in Estonia and Georgia, but Russia was still seen as country trying to recover itself from losing a large portion of its territory about twenty years prior and the collapse of a political orientation.  The EU and NATO had seen enlargements promising the continuation of peace and democratic norms on the European continent.  Despite these appearances, something did not sit well in the air for her– she could smell turmoil coming.


Looking at current global events the parallels between now and the pre-war era are strong.  Even some of the diplomats and military personal involved in NATO and the EU that we have talked to on this study abroad have brought up the uncanny idea that events are playing out awfully similar to the 30′s. So just what are these similarities?

1. The entrance to the twentieth century saw the rise political ideas like communism, socialism, and fascism.  These were considered radical groups.  The past EU elections saw the rise in the radical right.  These groups are becoming more popular with the people as their trust in the EU diminishes.  While they do not form a formal political group nor do they have the majority of seats in the EU Parliament, there number of radical right MEPs increased to be about 1/6 of the parliament.

2.  1929 saw the collapse of the stock market and unemployment around 27% in the U.S.  High inflation persisted throughout the world, most famously in Germany.  Granted this downturn was worsened by the dust bowl.  The “Great Recession” in 2009 is the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  Once could call it the the Great Depression of this century.

3.  In 1938, Hitler invaded the Sudetenland under the pretense of protecting the German speakers in Czechoslovakia…… Sounds familiar to what our good friend Putin announced a few a weeks ago in accordance to his annexation of Crimea — The protection of Russian speakers.

4. Hitler continued to take land, yet the Brits called for Appeasement, the French followed suit, and the Americans stood by in an efforts to be isolationists.  Putin annexed a part of Ukraine with no war and no formal agreement between the two states.  What did the rest of the world do???? Oh, Ukraine, you are not a NATO member nor an EU member state, therefore, we can not defend you.  We can only support you.  We can step up security measures in member states who are neighbors in an effort to show military strength in that area.  We are willing to send third party observers to confirm that Russia is not acting within norms that were agreed upon in the NATO-Russian Council.  A statement that Ukraine is an Eastern European country that means nothing to the West nor our self-interests.  In a sense we are using Appeasement methods again, and that just leads to more conflict in the future.

5. Goebbels was the propaganda minister to Hitler who waged essentially a propaganda war– just check out the movie Triumph of the Will  by Leni Riefenstahl.  Now, look at just look at the titles of articles from Pravda: “Ukraine: Another US mission gone wrong”, “The West: Blind, Manipulative and Evil” or this quote from the article “Can Germans afford it a third time”– “Yet the West is accusing Russia of deploying armed forces and arming Russian-speaking protestors to create unrest and chaos in Ukraine to prevent Presidential elections on 25 May.”

6. While the rest of the Europe and her allies were decreasing their militaries, Germany increased its despite the 100,000 men restriction.  As a result of the 2009 “Great Recession” and ensuing Eurozone crisis, the European members of NATO and the EU struggle to find the room in the budgets to increase or at least maintain defense spending.  Europe is in a minor security crisis trying to create a  “smart defense” that is effective in providing interoperable military capacities.  Russia doesn’t seem to have this issue, with 4.5% of their GDP going to defense spending, while most NATO countries are not even at half of that.


If the people running our governments and controlling the alliances acknowledge this parallel, what does that mean for our policies that will be developed in the future against these developing threats?  Could just the talk of the past war lead to policies that reflect what happened in the 1930s?  Could we be brought closer to the brink of war, again??

I Spy With My Little Eye

Privacy Issues of TTIP: the history it brings up and the mistrust it creates 

“In Germany, whenever the government begins to infringe on individual freedom, society stands up. Given our history, we Germans are not willing to trade in our liberty for potentially better security. Germans have experienced firsthand what happens when the government knows too much about someone. In the past 80 years, Germans have felt the betrayal of neighbors who informed for the Gestapo and the fear that best friends might be potential informants for the Stasi. Homes were tapped. Millions were monitored.” ~Malte Spitz, The New York Times. 


I find it extremely fascinating how European culture and history play such a large role in the national politics and the EU politics. History seems to be a role of the day-to-day life of the citizens that I have come in contact with here in Brussels.  They are aware of their past, where they come from, and who they are.  They see the implications of history and make connections from the past with current events. They are learning from History, taking notes, trying to prevent past atrocities from happening again.  This is something I don’t see at home in America.  There is an increasing dis-concern about history.  For most Americans history is of the past, it has no relevance, especially world history. And, frankly that’s beyond sad.  It’s disgusting!

Why is it that world history is of so little importance to the American citizen? Has the United States become such a Hegemon that we have forgotten the past and the importance of our History?  Are we so egotistical that we think that the world should revolve around us and our current interests politically, economically, and socially?  We have a habit of not taking the culture and traditions of a country into account when we walk or barge in.  We demand everyone to conform to our standards.  Remember the Manifest Destiny, the Marshall Plan, the McCarthyism and Red Scare???? All displays of America promoting our form of “civilization.”

So, what does this mean for a twenty-first century Transatlantic deal (TTIP) and the subsequent relationships?  Each member state of the EU calls on their own culture and demands to protect it from Americanization.  The citizens hold their heritage close to them. It is what makes them French or German or Belgian or Dutch.  They respect their right to privacy, something we don’t have here in the States.  Lack of privacy is a quality of an era in which no European wants to relive and remember (the 1930s and 40s).  Their history and culture help to protect them from another wanna-be-Hegemon, this time American corporations and government.  Europeans know and remember what a control on information could lead to: fear, mistrust, lack of Locke’s guaranteed rights, and hence freedom. Fear and mistrust could lead to a fall in EU and US relations as well as NATO alliances.  Currently, mutual trust (and common norms to an extent) is what is holding these alliances together.  So with these implications why can’t we as Americans respect European culture and heritage?

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