Budapest – ESI talk at CEU: The Rhetoric of Reaction - Pessimism, Complacency and Newspeak in 2014

18 September 2014
The rhetoric of reaction – Pessimism, Complacency and Newspeak in 2014. Video CEU

ESI's Gerald Knaus has been invited to deliver the keynote speech for the opening of the academic year 2014/2015 of the School of Public Policy at the Central European University in Budapest. He spoke about lessons to be learnt from recent events in international relations, from Iraq and Lybia, to Syria and Ukraine. Gerald was invited and introduced by Wolfgang Reinicke and John Shattuck frrom the CEU. Thomas Carothers, Vice President of the Carnegie Foundation, was in the audience and took part in the debate that followed.

This year has seen a cascade of crises and a bonfire of assumptions about the post Cold War world. It is a time for hard questions.

What remains of the commitments of November 1990 – the Paris Charter for a New Europe – in light of current events? Of the promise of peaceful regime change and color revolutions? Of the hopes of liberal interventionists, in light of news from Libya and Iraq? Of the moral authority of the Council of Europe, when the country chairing it is putting its human rights defenders in jail? Was the grand project of European enlargement – and the US vision of "one Europe, whole and free" – hopelessly naive and recklessly overoptimistic? Does 2014 mark the end of an era: the moment when the West returns from a strategy of enlargement to a strategy of containment?

Are we condemned to chose between complacency and pessimism: the belief that liberal democracy and human rights are the wave of the future or the fatalistic view that the law of the world will always remain the law of the jungle?

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Recent presenations by Gerald Knaus:

Oslo, 13 May 2014: How the government of Azerbaijan has captured the Council of Europe. Video: Norwegian Helsinki Committe
Istanbul, 26 February 2014: Enlargement and the benefits of competition. Video: ESI
Berlin, 2 June 2014: Political prisoners in Europe - what is to be done? Video: ESI

Further reading: