October 21, 2016

Summary

AP Photo/Frank Augstein

Europe, and the West in general, is searching for its identity in the context of Islam, security and being Russia’s neighbour. The October issue of Diplomaatia covers all of these subjects. We also try to keep an eye on Russian information warfare and the elections in Georgia.

Arabist Üllar Peterson writes about the burkini ban in France, which created a major backlash this summer.
“I don’t think burkinis should be banned,” Peterson states. “In the words of Daniel Pipes, one of today’s most well-known Islamophobes: ‘Ban the burqa, allow the burkini’. I would also add that we should not sanctify banning but instead engage in ridiculing the phenomenon. Bans often have the opposite effect. The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf are tempting first and foremost because they’re forbidden fruit. Ban doubting whether the Holocaust happened and a multitude of doubters will emerge. Ban doubting whether the Earth is round and the Flat Earth Society will instantly gain new members. Ban doubting whether the deportations happened and new approaches will be published that depict merry peasants who played the accordion on the roofs of railway carriages and were eager to go and cultivate new farming land.” We carry comments on Peterson’s article by several Estonian experts.
Diplomat Mikael Laidre explores the European Union’s new global security strategy. “Controversy and building alliances backwards—like the fiscal union before the political—also characterise the foreign policy that the European Union is trying to shape for itself, without even being a state,” he writes. Laidre concludes that the purpose of this approach is to make European states and societies accept that non-functioning half-solutions must be transformed into a “true union”.
Researcher Vladimir Sazonov writes about the Kremlin’s information warfare. “Kremlin propagandists managed to break through the limits of an ordinary Russian citizen’s critical thinking and, as a result, Russians are forced to believe all kinds of lies—for example, that a fascist junta rules in Kyiv, Russophobia and fascism prevail in the Baltic States, Europe is an immoral nest of homosexuals and the US is the empire of evil and plans to destroy Holy Russia.”
Maili Vilson, a political scientist at the University of Tartu, provides an on-the-spot overview of this month’s parliamentary elections in Georgia, which are receiving more attention in the region than usual.
Ethnologist Aimar Ventsel reviews Deutschland im Blaulicht (“Germany in the shine of the flashing blue light”), a book by German policewoman Tania Kambouri. “As I follow the discipline of legal anthropology, I was glad to read that Kambouri differentiates between various groups of the population and does not consider all non-Germans living in Germany the same,” writes Ventsel. “For, example, the subject of refugees is explored separately and, although the discussion of the topic is short, it is clear that the author considers the ambiguous legal situation and uncertain future resulting from it to be the root cause of the refugees’ problems.”

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