Brendan Simms

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The "Liberty for Independence" statue, placed outside the Scottish parliament building in Edinburgh, is seen on Wednesday. (Lesley Martin / AFP/Getty Images)

The gravest immediate threat to the West's long-term security does not emanate from Vladimir Putin or from the militants of the Islamic State. Rather, surprisingly, it comes from peace-loving Scots.

With polls now showing a majority of Scots supporting independence in the referendum set for Sept. 18, it's suddenly clear that Scotland might actually break away from Britain. In the words of Lord West of Spithead, former First Sea Lord, "A 'yes' vote for Scottish independence would make it more difficult to defend Britain. It would diminish NATO and the West's ability to do things."

Bluntly put, there is no rational upside for a 'yes' vote.…  Seguir leyendo »

By annexing Crimea after a sham referendum, Vladimir V. Putin has inadvertently done the European Union a huge favor. His opportunism has glaringly exposed the union’s lack of coherent institutions, borders and policies.

To successfully respond to Mr. Putin’s thuggery, the euro-zone countries must transform themselves into a Democratic Union of Europe. Their first task will be demarcation of a crystal-clear border with Russia, followed by the creation of a democratic superstructure that allows for the phased unification of the separate European states’ pre-existing defense, foreign policy and governance institutions.

Anything less will simply invite Mr. Putin to continue gnawing away at Europe’s exposed eastern flank, while individual states quibble over their narrow interests.…  Seguir leyendo »

The cheerleaders of the European Union like to think of it as an entirely new phenomenon, born of the horrors of two world wars. But in fact it closely resembles a formation that many Europeans thought they had long since left to the dustbin of history: the Holy Roman Empire, the political commonwealth under which the Germans lived for many hundreds of years.

Some might take that as a compliment; after all, the empire lasted for almost a millennium. But they shouldn’t. If anything, today’s Europe still has to learn the lessons of the empire’s failures.

The similarities with the Holy Roman Empire — which at its greatest extent encompassed almost all of Central Europe — exist at many levels.…  Seguir leyendo »

They were a loose confederation of states in danger of falling out among themselves, and unsure if they would survive in an increasingly competitive international environment. Their debts were piling up; their currency was weak; their economies were diverse and incompatible. The idealism that had brought them together was rapidly evaporating. Something drastic would have to be done.

Sound familiar? The polity in question, however, is not the eurozone but the United States of America in the late 1780s, a few years after the 13 colonies had won independence from Great Britain. The great powers hovered menacingly. US merchant shipping was exposed to vicious attacks by Muslim pirates operating out of north Africa.…  Seguir leyendo »