Editor’s Introduction

For Europe, the year that is just halfway over began with terrorist attacks in Paris against a magazine and a Jewish deli, carried on through the rise of Syriza in Greece and the collapse of Labor in Britain, and heads into summer with Brussels struggling over an immigration crisis that ran to the top of the agenda when more than a thousand boat people perished in the Mediterranean due in part to European budget cuts, giving a grim new context to the old term mare nostrum—our sea. Each of these is the tip of a greater mass, a flashpoint that illuminates the Continent’s deep and intersecting fault lines. Immigration and jihad, austerity and extremism, resentment and disunion. And that’s before even getting into the Putinism that so deftly exploits these tensions. 

Readers hoping to dive beneath the surface of events have come to the right place. To begin with the attacks in Paris, Dave Rich takes up the question of anti-Semitism, which seems to cut through many other important issues, such as Islam and native extremism, without tracing back to a single source. Much ink has been spilt on this topic, yet Rich’s approach is fresh and compelling. And his conclusion, that “Europe needs to rediscover its own secular liberal values and assert them in a positive and inclusive way,” resonates elsewhere in these pages. Indeed, surveying the cynical anti-establishment (or worse) forces now stirring, Michael Zantovsky finds “more a howl of frustration than human speech” but worries that if the EU cannot adapt and establish a strong European identity to replace the national ones it has diminished, such sound and fury could pose a serious threat, no matter how little it truly signifies. Finally, Alan Johnson addresses the crisis of the European left, from its embrace of neoliberalism in the 1990s through its failures during the financial crisis to the victory of Syriza this past winter (an anomaly) and the more typical defeat of the British Labor Party in May. In calling for a return to core values, if perhaps different policies, Johnson agrees that it’s time for Europeans to rediscover their political backbone. 

You might have also noticed some changes to the journal recently. We know how much readers value the print edition of World Affairs, and in striving to keep it going we’ve had to undertake a few austerity measures of our own. The new covers aren’t quite as brilliant, but we’ve found the new paper actually makes the journal a bit easier to curl up with. We’ve also returned to a quarterly frequency, which means fewer issues each year but more in them. Our goal has been to keep alive a publication worth putting on your nightstand or in your suitcase. We hope we’ve achieved this.  

— James S. Denton

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