June 18, 2013
by Nick Ottens
Need an article about international relations for your magazine or newspaper? Input on foreign policy for your project? Or someone to write about American and European politics?
Look no further! An historian by training, I write about modern day diplomacy, security and politics worldwide.
Please, read my about page for more information or contact me at email@example.com for more information.
October 29, 2013
by Nick Ottens
My latest commentary for The National Interest looks into the simplified rhetoric of both proponents and opponents of deeper political integration in Europe. I argue that while the Euroskeptics certainly exaggerate both the malevolence and the influence of the Europhiles, the latter unfairly treat their counterparts as fanatics.
Emblematic was a declaration put out earlier this month in the name of all major parties in the European Parliament which lumped together “nationalism, anti-Semitism and other forms of ethnic intolerance on the part of movements opposing the European project” and naturally derided them. It described nationalism as “primitive” and argued that Eurosceptics were attempting to undermine the peace that has been achieved since the end of World War II.
The reason fantasies of European federalization will remain just that is that its advocates underestimate the appeal nationalism (“still,” they would say) has. I write, “They not only seek to do away with any sense of national attachment, but honestly don’t understand why anyone would not want to.”
Please, click here to read the whole thing.
August 29, 2013
by Nick Ottens
My latest for the Swiss security blog Offiziere examines the “unlikely alliance, of sorts,” between America’s biggest ally in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, and its former Cold War rival Russia. The two have a strong common interest in containing jihadism in the region while the United States seem uncertain what to do.
Whereas the United States is apparently torn between its interests, which should compel it to back the military’s takeover in Egypt as it is more likely than the Muslim Brotherhood to keep the Suez Canal open and the peace treaty with Israel in place, and its values, which explain why so many Americans are appalled by the overthrow of a democratically-elected government, Russia has no such reservations. Its values inspire support for Christians in the Middle East — in Egypt, where Copts were discriminated against while the Muslim Brotherhood was in power, and in Syria, where all non-Sunni Muslims are victims of persecution and violence at the hands of Islamist rebels — while it has a clear interest in fighting radical Islam.
Still, I argue, an outright alliance between the two is unlikely. America won’t relinquish its influence in Egypt and Russia “should think twice before trying to step into its place.”
Improved Russian military relations with Egypt would rightly be interpreted in Washington as a challenge to its dominant role in the region and could compel the United States to contain Russian influence elsewhere. A Georgia in NATO might not be worth the price of pulling Egypt back into Russia’s orbit.
Click here to read the whole article.
August 12, 2013
by Nick Ottens
I’m published in The National Interest today! The website runs a commentary of mine about Turkish foreign policy in Syria, “Zero Problems Abroad Made Many Problems at Home,” in which I argue that the country’s support for the uprising against Assad has exacerbated the Kurdish security problem on its southern frontier.
This is what Turkey’s policy has, if not created, then certainly facilitated: the rise of radical Islamism in Syria and a Kurdish separatism within its own borders that is emboldened by the success of Kurds seeking autonomy in Iraq and Syria as well.
Please, read the whole thing.
July 13, 2013
by Nick Ottens
My latest for The Prague Post discusses mounting Euroskepticism in Germany and the Netherlands. While there isn’t majority support yet for leaving the euro, let alone the European Union, almost half of all Dutch and German citizens does believe joining the single currency was a mistake. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ anti-European Freedom Party is the largest in the polls.
Growing frustration with the whole European project in continental Western European tends to be underestimated, I believe, in most English language press. I devoted a paragraph to that in the article:
The Netherlands’ resistance to deeper European integration must have startled some of the English-language press that last year predicted the incoming Labor-Liberal coalition would pursue a more pro-European policy. The Financial Times described the parties’ spectacular performance in elections that year as “a decisive and surprising rebuke for populist Euroskeptic politics.” The Guardian predicted the country would tilt “the balance of power in the eurozone toward President François Hollande’s socialists in France and away from Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.”
Far from it, the Netherlands, if anything, has acted as a stronger German partner under the coalition government.
Be sure to read the whole article.
July 7, 2013
by Nick Ottens
Atlantic Sentinel frontpage
If you’re a reader of the Atlantic Sentinel, you’ll have noticed some design changes over the last couple of weeks or so. My apologies if the many changes were a bit confusing but I think I’ve finally settled on something.
The first change was the addition of a header image. That didn’t change too much from the previous layout. Only then I decided I finally wanted the design to be responsive, i.e., respond to your screen size. So whether you visit the site on a tablet or desktop computer that is 1920 pixels wide, the layout adapts and should still look good. The main body, that is, the area between the header and footer that contains the main content, has a maximum width on it that prevents the text from filling the full width of high resolution screens. The header and footer do fill the entire width of your screen.
The only drawback there is that the header image will appear pixelated on bigger screens so I temporarily replaced that with a menu that had smaller, circular images for the different categories. That looked a bit outdated though, so I put the header image back in instead.
Another major change is the removal of the sidebar on all but the individual article pages. It only lists relevant, older articles and displays a tag list. It’s thin so it can stay on iPads and other tablet devices whether you’re viewing the site in portrait or landscape view. For mobile devices, it’s too big though. Ideally, it should wrap under the content when you’re visiting the site on a mobile but I haven’t found a way to accomplish that yet. The sidebar is technically displayed before the main content and then floats to the right. If I remove the float on small, mobile screens, it displays the sidebar before the main content which is not what we want. For now, I’ve simply omitted the sidebar on mobile view altogether.
Other small changes include an expandable search box and new links for sharing an article on social media. There’s also a “Recommended” section that contains what I believe are the best the Atlantic Sentinel has on offer. That should be especially useful for new readers who want to familiarize themselves with the site’s analyses, tone and views.
Altogether, I’m quite satisfied with it so don’t expect any more major revisions soon. Please, have a look and tell us what you think!