Nick Ottens

Freelance analyst, editor, reporter

January 20, 2014
by Nick Ottens
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Looking for Freelance Opportunities

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 n.ottens@gmail.com for more information.

February 11, 2014
by Nick Ottens
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German Green Energy Policy Drives Ally into Russia’s Embrace

One of my most recent articles for the Atlantic Sentinel explains how Germany’s green energy policies are proving a headache for companies in the Netherlands who are turning to Russia’s Gazprom for a steady supply of electricity instead.

German law prioritizes access on the country’s power grid for electricity that is produced by renewable sources such as solar and wind. On days when there is plenty of sunshine or wind, Germany produces an energy surplus. That surplus is partly dumped on the grid of its neighbors who are expected to absorb the fluctuations.

“This has already prompted the Czech Republic and Poland to announce that they will block these unwanted imports at their borders,” I write. “The Dutch do still import electricity and are even expanding their ties with Germany’s power grid.” When that happens, coal and gas plants in the Netherlands will have to regularly shut down and start up again to respond to the fluctuations — an expensive procedure that puts price stability at risk.

The three largest energy providers in the Netherlands — Eneco, Essent and Nuon — are all struggling to cope with the combination of cheap “green” energy imports from Germany and idle coal and gas plants. Sweden’s Vattenfall, which owns Nuon, posted a €1.6 billion loss on its Dutch holdings last week.

Click here to read the whole piece.

October 29, 2013
by Nick Ottens
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How Europhiles and Eurosceptics Oversimplify the EU

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
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Russia Expanding Middle East Influence at America’s Expense?

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
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Zero Problems Abroad Made Many Problems at Home

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.