Was the 2008 financial crisis exacerbated by official misjudgment?

Countries as disparate as Ireland, Iceland and Greece showed that misplaced financial exuberance has many pedigrees

Was the 2008 financial crisis exacerbated by official misjudgment?We were on a train from London to Edinburgh when the financial crisis erupted in September 2008. The newspaper headlines were downright lurid and the detailed stories provided little comfort. A financial catastrophe was about to descend on all of us. As relatively recent retirees, we felt particularly vulnerable. There’d be no time or opportunity…

Support for multiculturalism declining in Sweden

The influx of immigrants into Sweden in 2015 is threatening the country's vaunted beliefs in multiculturalism, immigration and political conformity

Support for multiculturalism declining in SwedenAs the final votes are counted in Sweden’s general election, the rifts in this famously conformist society are getting deeper. Sweden may be the western world’s most self-consciously liberal state, but significant cracks are appearing in the foundation. To get a sense of the trend, look at the trajectory of the gradually-building support for the…

The Swedes weren’t always peace-loving

As far back as the Viking age, the Swedes were troublemakers of the first order. And they persisted for centuries

The Swedes weren’t always peace-lovingWalking around Stockholm on a recent sunny Sunday, I was struck again by a nagging question: When and why did the Swedes become the peace-loving exemplars we’ve come to know and sometimes envy? They weren’t always like that. Far from it. As far back as the Viking age (circa 793-1050), the Swedes were troublemakers of…

Cruising the Baltic, gathering perspectives

From perspectives on politics to perceptions of history, every region has a story to tell. And sometimes they're complicated

Cruising the Baltic, gathering perspectivesCruising the Baltic and the west coast of Norway doesn’t make one an expert on the region. But it does convey impressions, and here are a few of them. First, though, a brief observation about modern travel. While there are distinct inconveniences centred on crowded airports and milling throngs, currencies are no longer an issue.…

The tangled tragedy of Mary, Queen of Scots

Over the past four-plus centuries, Mary’s reputation has waxed and waned. A movie due out this year should put a positive spin on it

The tangled tragedy of Mary, Queen of ScotsThis Christmas, cinema patrons will be offered the historical drama Mary, Queen of Scots. With Saoirse Ronan in the title role and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I of England, the movie casts two of today’s prominent actresses in a retelling of the 16th century’s most compelling personal rivalry. As the movie is based on John…

Meddling in other countries’ elections isn’t always outrageous

There are plenty of instances of foreign influence, including in Canada. Why is it okay for Kennedy and Obama but not Putin?

Meddling in other countries’ elections isn’t always outrageousYou’d have to be living in a cave to be unaware of the controversy over Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And much of the related discussion has approached apocalyptic levels. We’re told that when one country meddles in another’s election, it’s a hostile act. Some have even likened it to war. But…

Ronald Reagan’s remarkable mission to Moscow

The American president's loathing for nuclear weapons and his desire to see new freedoms in the Soviet Union framed his trip

Ronald Reagan’s remarkable mission to MoscowLate in his presidency, Ronald Reagan went to Moscow for a visit that generated some dramatic images and memorable moments. If you’d predicted this when he was elected in 1980, most people – pundits and experts especially – would’ve scoffed at you. Reagan, so the narrative went, was a dangerous cowboy, a warmonger and a…

The pope, the president and the resurrection of Poland

Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan shared a vision of an independent Poland. Together, they helped the country break free from the Soviet bloc

The pope, the president and the resurrection of PolandIn a recent column, I wrote about Poland’s 20th century tragedy, culminating in the “betrayal” to Josef Stalin at the February 1945 Yalta Conference. So it’s appropriate to finish the story by writing about Poland’s resurrection. While the Poles were the main players in this resurrection, they did have external help. Changing circumstances in the Soviet…

Poland’s 20th century tragedy

Stuck between Germany and the Soviet Union didn't stop thousands of Poles from contributing to the war effort in the 1940s

Poland’s 20th century tragedyCanadians who grouse about living next door to the American elephant should consider the situation of Poland, particularly in the mid-20th century. With Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union on one side and Adolf Hitler’s Germany on the other, Poles must have occasionally wondered just what they had done to merit this unfortunate geography. English journalist Max Hastings…

Eamon de Valera Ireland’s most controversial politician

Militant revolutionary, prime player in the Civil War and prime minister for 21 years

Eamon de Valera Ireland’s most controversial politicianThe dominant Irish political figure of the 20th century died just 40 years ago. Born in New York but raised in Ireland by his maternal family, Eamon de Valera served as the equivalent of prime minister for 21 years between 1932 and 1959. Before that, he was a militant revolutionary during the Irish War of…
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