Best of the Blogs – 17/04

Every month, the Stockholm Network summarises some of the best pieces from the blogs of our network member think tanks, including English and foreign language articles.

The US-Russia reset is over
From Centre for European Reform blog

Charles Grant, the director of the London-based Centre for European Reform, considers the relationship between Russia and the United States following the electoral victory of Vladimir Putin and the impending start of his second spell as president of Russia. In particular, Grant makes reference to the so-called diplomatic “reset” between the US and Russia from 2009 and identifies how relations have improved over the last few years.

Drawing on the views of experts and close officials, Grant explains how Vladimir Putin’s views on the relationship with the US differs from that of his predecessor (and former successor), Dmitri Medvedev. Grant identifies human rights, missile defence and foreign affairs as likely sources of conflict between the administrations of Putin and Barack Obama (or any Republican president who may succeed him in November). Finally, Grant identifies the faith that Putin seems to be placing in the collective emergence of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), as a way of containing US power.

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Nordic Lessons in Success
From Libera blog

Johnny Munkhammar, MP for the Swedish Moderate Party, has contributed this post to the blog of the Finnish think tank Libera, which explores economic reform to create prosperity. The post focuses on the Nordic region, in particular Sweden, and draws on the research of Munkhammar’s book The Guide to Reform, which was published in 2007. Looking at a variety of economic factors over two centuries, Munkhammar shows how countries like Sweden were able to go from poor to rich, generally in line with a rise in economic freedom.

Following on from this, Munkhammar then explores the difference between the Nordic countries and the rest of Europe. He shows that Nordic countries perform well in regards to social mobility versus the employment rate, versus income distribution and in both employment and unemployment. In summary, Munkhammar gives the reasons for Nordic success as: economic freedom, sound public finances, lower taxes and public expenditure, inclusive and cohesive societies, well functioning institutions, and a high degree of openness to the rest of the world.

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Nick Clegg’s speech ignores jobs lost to misfiring green policies
From Civitas blog

This post from Civitas responds to comments by the UK deputy prime minister against the notion that environmental legislation is holding back industrial recovery. Instead it claims that the UK’s draconian energy policy is causing the collapse of a successful British industry.

By way of an example, the post points to recent research by Civitas into the closure of the Lynemouth aluminium smelter, which highlights the influence of short-sighted policy decisions to move aluminium production elsewhere, to the detriment of the environment. It further shows that in 2008, aluminium production was an industry with an annual turnover of £3 billion and a 20,000-strong workforce, but is now a shadow of its former self.

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Socialisme: Les illusions perdues
From Trop Libre blog

Jean Senié provides a review of a new book entitled Socialisme: la fin d’une histoire? (Socialism: The End of a History?) by the French historian Jérôme Grondeux. It explains the historical and political dimension of socialism, exploring in more detail the hallowed focus on revolution. It analyses the difference between fields of socialism and its variant communism, looking at Leninism, Trotskyism, Maoism, Guevarism and even Castroism.

Significantly, the post then moves on to consider the book in the context of the upcoming French presidential elections. It considers the socialist credentials of the current front runner François Hollande and then moves on to discuss Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Left Front candidate currently gaining support in the last few weeks of campaigning.

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