Andrew Moravcsik

Stories by Andrew Moravcsik

  • Munich Celebrates 850th Birthday

    This is the summer to visit Munich, as the dynamic metropolis celebrates its 850th birthday with two citywide parties. On July 19 and 20 and Aug. 1 to 3, roads and bridges will be closed and illuminated, with events—including concerts, plays, art exhibitions, extreme-sports competitions and historical re-enactments—set up on outdoor stages and other venues across town.Now is the time to take in the city's culture. The Alte Pinakothek features a world-class collection of such masters as Raphael, Rembrandt and Rubens, while the Pinakothek der Monderne is showing drawings by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, who designed the Munich Residenz Palace, to coincide with the city's birthday. No one should miss the Lenbachhaus Gallery, with its unique showcase of Munich-based expressionist Blue Rider painters like Kandinsky, as well as contemporary work (www.lenbachhaus.de/cms). The Bavarian State Opera offers spectacular performances in two theaters where Mozart and Wagner premiered their works...
  • Washington Cries Wolf

    Don't believe the hype: Beijing's military buildup isn't as scary as it seems.
  • The Self-Absorbed Dragon

    China's growing military and economic power has become something of an American obsession. Recent books, like "Red Dragon" or "The China Threat," combined with warnings from Washington—like the Pentagon's designation of China as an emerging "peer competitor"—have contributed to an abiding sense of fear. Analysts such as Robert Kaplan, pointing to Beijing's rising defense spending, now caution that "the American military contest with China in the Pacific will define the 21st century."Yet inside China, things look very different. Far from being poised on the brink of expansion, the country remains extraordinarily insular—a place where people seem to know and care little about the outside world.In China, like everywhere, all politics are local—but when your constituency totals nearly a quarter of humanity, the local pressures are particularly acute. Despite 30 years of growth, China today is still just a generation away from poverty, with half its population mired in abject conditions....
  • The Changing Course of Libya

    When Tony Blair made his valedictory rounds last month, one of his most remarkable stops barely got any notice. On a short stay in Libya, Blair declared British-Libyan relations "completely transformed" and announced a $900 million oil- and gas-exploration deal between BP and the Libyan government. In Surt, the hometown of Libyan strongman Col. Muammar Kaddafi, Blair signed a defense agreement allowing Libya—which just 20 years ago was bombed by the United States—to purchase air-defense and missile systems from Britain. Just a few years ago, Blair acknowledged, none of this would have been possible. But Libya has changed radically of late. Even Kaddafi, whom Ronald Reagan once called "the mad dog of the Middle East," has now become, in Blair's words, "very easy to deal with."Much has been made of Libya's dramatic course change since September 11, when the U.S. response and patient British diplomacy convinced Kaddafi of the dangers of staying on London and Washington's bad side. Once...
  • Europe's Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense

    Politics stops at the water's edge. Or so voters in the Western democracies like to believe. When our security is at stake, we expect elected leaders to think coolly and strategically, advancing the national interest.Iraq has done much to discredit such hopes. Now comes another American-inspired folly—the brewing transatlantic spat over the deployment of a primitive antiballistic-missile defense system in Eastern Europe. At bottom, it has little to do with security, and everything to do with symbolism and spin. And in the end it is destined to come back to bite its adherents in their collective geostrategic backside.Begin with the Americans. Republican neoconservatives have long dreamed of a Star Wars missile defense. President Ronald Reagan came up with the vision 20 years ago, and his acolytes have been transfixed by the vision ever since. Now they're determined to build it—in Europe. Never mind that even true believers long ago gave up any hope that such a system could stop an...
  • The Met's Opera Broadcast to Cinemas

    The line for the Metropolitan Opera snakes around the corner. A white-haired society woman clad in velvet rushes in out of the winter rain, passing out-of-towners clutching handmade need a ticket signs. An older man waits with his 6-year-old granddaughter—the third generation to be introduced to live opera with this showing of Mozart's "The Magic Flute."A classic scene outside Lincoln Center? Actually, no; it's a movie theater in Albany, New York, where the Met performance is about to be broadcast live. Similar scenes are occurring simultaneously at more than 100 venues around the world, from specially redesigned Japanese Kabuki theaters to Norway's oldest movie house, 483 kilometers above the Arctic Circle. It's all part of a bold initiative recently launched by the Met's new general manager, Peter Gelb, to popularize opera and perhaps save it from obscurity. He plans to beam six live performances by satellite to remote movie houses. Broadcasts began in December with "The Magic...
  • Open the Doors

    Riots in Hungary? Rising anti-Europe sentiment across Eastern Europe? A resounding "no" to a new constitution in France and the Netherlands, and similar sentiment elsewhere? Never mind. Time for the next round.This week the European Union will decide when and under what conditions to admit Romania and Bulgaria into that most exclusive club. Governments are almost certain to go along. The odds are that, come New Year's 2007, Europe will thus be that much bigger.Welcome to the neighborhood? Not quite. Pundits and publics remain deeply skeptical. Critics insist neither country is ready for admission. In these increasingly anti-foreigner times, some hint that they do not really belong--that they're more Balkan than European. Almost everyone is certain about one thing: Europe is tired of adding new members. Enlargement is opposed by nearly two thirds of Germans and French, and almost half of Swedes, Italians and Brits. Last year's ill-fated French and Dutch referendums had little to do...
  • The Rise of American Arias

    When opera lovers dream of summer festivals, their minds turn naturally to Old World spots like Verona, Salzburg, Bayreuth, Glyndebourne or St. Petersburg. Yet summer opera abounds in the New World as well. No matter which of America's top tourist spots you visit, high-quality opera is probably nearby. In Cooperstown, New York, opera lovers at Glimmerglass mingle with baseball fans at the Hall of Fame. Purple-streaked Southwestern sunsets serve as the backdrop for the Santa Fe Opera's covered outdoor theater. In Colorado, the Central City Opera performs in the restored opera house of an abandoned mining town. At the Wolf Trap Opera's outdoor venue, just outside the nation's capital in Washington, D.C., patrons bring picnics. Dozens of other cities, from St. Louis to San Francisco, offer similar fare.Culture snobs, take note: just as California Cabernet now competes head to head with Bordeaux, so the United States is challenging Europe as the world's leading location for training and...
  • Déjà Vu All Over Again

    Recently I attended the Brussels forum, a new Davos-like event organized by the German Marshall Fund. The idea was to bring Europeans and Americans back together after all the insults traded over Iraq. It was just the sort of event that helped keep the West unified during the tough years of the cold war--a place where politicians and pundits could meet in a swanksetting to drink French wine, speak non-native English and spend German money.Everyone was on their best behavior. EU foreign-policy czar Javier Solana, with NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer sitting cozily beside him, proclaimed that current U.S. relations were "perfect." Sen. John McCain, testing his presidential wings, said they'd "never been better." Diplomat Daniel Fried, in charge of Eurasian affairs for Condoleezza Rice's State Department, dismissed splits over Iraq. "So 2003," he scoffed. It was almost enough to make me believe in the good old days of the transatlantic alliance--until people began to speak their minds...
  • Rethinking Mozart

    Mozart has overtaken Beethoven, the favorite son of the 19th century, as the most admired composer in the history of Western music. He has the most recordings. Classical radio stations run a morning Mozart hour. Before the sophisticated audiences of Manhattan, he alone gets his own annual festival: Mostly Mozart. Many believe (despite meager scientific evidence) that if one plays Mozart's music to babies in the womb, they will grow up smarter and more musical--perhaps even a genius like Wolfgang.In our minds, Mozart has become the archetypal genius, a divinely inspired wunderkind for whom composing came easily. He was talented and therefore--so the Hollywood script of "Amadeus" tells us--a counterculture rebel who wore crazy clothes, told racy jokes and slummed with the downtrodden. Eventually he suffered the inevitable martyrdom of being misunderstood. Lesser minds, led by imperial composer Antonio Salieri, plotted against him. In the end, his audience deserted him. He died...
  • Europe Will Get It Right

    Just over a year ago, author Jeremy Rifkin predicted that Europe would soon overtake the United States as a model for the world. The so-called European Dream--a coupling of the national social welfare state with multilateral cooperation in Brussels to promote free markets and common regulations--would supersede the American Dream.For true believers in that vision, 2005 was a dispiriting year. French and Dutch voters rejected the European Union's proposed constitution. Then came the French race riots. Anglo-American conservatives, took these events as vindication of their own model, which opposes big government, social spending, multiculturalism and multilateralism. After five years of European (and, not least, French) attacks on U.S. foreign and domestic policy, they took satisfaction in concluding that Europe, in the end, is really no better than America.Nothing proved their point so well as the recent riots. The "Muslim insurrection," as the right-wing Fox News commentator Bill O...
  • Opinion: Dog-and-Tony Show:

    Forget the debacle that was Europe's constitution. The EU is finally getting back to what it does best: solving concrete problems. Proposals from homeland security to regulatory reform are grinding forward. Negotiations with Turkey are underway. Visionary leadership and grand projects are blessedly absent.Yet one leader seems not to have gotten the message. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, despite his reputation as an archpragmatist, touted last week's EU summit as a referendum on globalization. Yes, Blair is surely correct that economic reform in the face of globalization is the issue facing Europe today. He may even be right in holding up Britain as an example of how to do it. But he misses the most important point: such reforms--of labor markets, social-welfare systems, pensions and small-business regulation--lie outside the EU's competence. To the contrary, they are the province of national governments, requiring national leadership. And no amount of haranguing from Blair will...
  • The Wonderful World Of Oz

    It looks like Rwanda!" the stunned British anchorman couldn't believe he was seeing the United States. "Remember shock and awe?" wrote the columnist for the London Guardian, Polly Toynbee. To her mind, the radiating might of the American colossus had dissipated like the optical illusion in "The Wizard of Oz," wherein said wizard is revealed to be a small man frantically pushing the buttons of public-relations gadgetry--what she calls "the hollow superpower."Hurricane Katrina was a horrific act of nature. But the real tragedy is what it says about America. The blame game has begun. Global warming is one culprit. George W. Bush is another, along with the mayor of New Orleans, the governor of Mississippi, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and an assorted cast of shady characters from congressmen to incompetent or outright malfeasant state and local officials. At bottom, however, what Katrina exposed is something far more profound, even existential: America's changing...
  • The Politics Of Plebiscites

    Political life has ground to a halt. Pundits and politicians can't stop talking about it. Yet more and more, it seems, ordinary folk want nothing to do with it. "It," of course, is the European Union's proposed constitution, likely to be rejected in France on May 29 and perhaps also in the Netherlands on June 1. Twenty successive French polls have found a majority opposed. Dutch voters remain apathetic and undecided. If by some miracle both vote yes, then it's out of the frying pan and into the fire next year, when the even more Euro-skeptical British go to the polls.Once heralded as the apotheosis of European idealism, the constitution has become an albatross around Europe's neck. Desperately trying to save the disputed document, European leaders are pandering to its opponents and disowning the enlightened and pragmatic ends for which the EU was conceived. French presidential aspirant Nicholas Sarkozy uses the constitution to bash eventual Turkish membership in the EU. German...
  • Dream On, America

    Not long ago, the American dream was a global fantasy. Not only Americans saw themselves as a beacon unto nations. So did much of the rest of the world. East Europeans tuned into Radio Free Europe. Chinese students erected a replica of the Statue of Liberty in Tiananmen Square....
  • Dream On, America

    The U.S. model: For years, much of the world did aspire to the American way of life. But today countries are finding more appealing systems in their own backyards
  • DON'T SWEAT THE BIG STUFF

    The new year will bring new faces to the administration in Washington, as well as a new European Commission in Brussels. Hopes for a warmer relationship are rising on both sides of the Atlantic. Can the United States and Europe pursue a common agenda? Or is the West destined to endure another half-decade of discord? At first glance, optimism seems undeserved.Despite committing a half-trillion dollars, suffering several thousand casualties and presiding over an estimated 100,000 Iraqi deaths, the United States remains trapped in its Mesopotamian quagmire. "Old Europeans" are no more likely to help now than before. "New Europeans" are bailing out. Next door, Iran may be moving toward nuclear capability, with U.S. and European officials clashing over whether to use force to stop Tehran. Taipei and Beijing continue to rattle sabers, while Brussels and Washington brace for a noisy showdown over arms sales to China. From Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to the International Criminal Court, the...
  • IT'S THE JOB STUPID

    Those in Brussels who dream that their new leader will be a powerful figure in the mold of Jean Monnet or Jacques Delors were thrilled, for a time, with Jose Manuel Barroso. The new president stood down the Germans and French in appointing key commissioners, and looked poised to shape the Commission, the governing cabinet of Europe, in his own way. But when his choice of a papal philosopher as commissioner of Justice and Home Affairs ran into fierce opposition and created a constitutional crisis, the Brussels cognoscenti began attacking Barroso's judgment, as they did those of his predecessors Jacques Santer and Romano Prodi.Truth be told, the problem with recent EU presidents is not their savvy. It's the job. Since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 set Europe on course to become a tighter political and economic union, member states led by France and Germany have, in fact, eroded the role of the Commission and its president, who used to be at the center of the EU. They have divided its...
  • EUROPE TAKES CHARGE

    Hundreds of thousands of American tourists flock to Ireland every year seeking ruined castles, green fields and friendly folk. On his presidential visit to the Emerald Isle, Ronald Reagan raised a beer in a local pub. Bill Clinton, despite the controversy surrounding his policies on Northern Ireland, was welcomed by cheering crowds.Not so President George W. Bush. One might have expected him to launch a week of transatlantic diplomacy, starting with the annual EU-U.S. summit on the Emerald Isle, with a popular touch. Yet Bush is now so conspicuously unpopular abroad that even in fervently pro-American Ireland, his presence creates chaos. Thousands of protesters took to the streets. Holed up in remote and romantic Dromoland Castle Hotel outside Shannon, the visiting president was defended by the largest security operation in Irish history. (Quite a distinction in a country that has faced decades of domestic terrorism.) Half the 500 members of the presidential entourage were U.S....
  • EUROPE'S SLOW TRIUMPH

    Europeans seem to agree on nothing these days, except their dislike of the European Union. Begin with the European Constitution, likely to be adopted at the Dublin summit this week. For the longest time it looked to be DOA--dead on arrival. That it's gotten this far is no small miracle of Europoliticking, but will it survive the next round of amendments and popular referendums? Compromises have been struck throughout. British diplomats skulk in Brussels, drawing red lines around EU policies on taxes, social welfare, foreign affairs and transnational crime fighting. Small and large countries quibble endlessly over voting weights, prelude to decades of coming budget battles. Some Europeans insist that God--a Roman Catholic God--be written into the preamble.Then there were last week's European Parliament elections--desultory, as always, with low turnout and unedifying debate. But they were also marked by disturbingly strong showings from Euro-skeptic right-wingers inveighing against...
  • HIDDEN ARIAS

    Of the 2 million fans who will attend an opera in Europe this summer, one third will visit a single spot: the ancient Roman arena of Verona, where the performances are crowd-pleasing ("Aida," "La Boheme"), the stagings monumental, the casts strong, the sound clear and the setting incomparably romantic. Few who have gone can forget the sight of 16,000 spectators holding candles as the overture begins, in keeping with local tradition.Many, however, seek a more intimate encounter. The real promise of summer opera, after all, is that a peaceful and leisurely setting will concentrate our minds on the esthetic experience in a way that running to the theater after work cannot. For such listeners, the first thought is often: how can I get a ticket to one of the "big three" European opera festivals--Bayreuth in Germany, Glyndebourne in Britain or Salzburg in Austria? If you have to ask, forget it. Would-be pilgrims to Bayreuth, where Wagner's operas are performed in a theater the composer...
  • At Last, Enlargement Day Has Come. Will It Bring

    The big bang has gone off. Now is the time for second thoughts. Among newcomers and old-timers alike, politicians are scrambling to reassure skeptical electorates that May 1 will bring no harmful changes. Not so. While the long-term economic and social consequences of EU enlargement will almost certainly be positive, one thing is certain: some unpleasant surprises will come along the way.To be sure, new Europe's architects have good cause for optimism. Economic growth in the 10 countries joining the European Union was 3.7 percent last year--nearly 10 times that of the existing eurozone. U.S. and foreign multinationals, quick to scent big opportunities, are investing heavily, both in the East and West. Yet a whiff of overconfidence taints the air. The EU's new members all hope to follow in the footsteps of Spain and Portugal, which joined in 1986 and thrived. They don't speak as loudly of duplicating Ireland's "economic miracle," where per capita incomes rose from 62 percent of...
  • No Reverse Gear, Please

    Fifteen years after the fall of the Berlin wall, Enlargement Day is coming. This being Europe, there is diversity in how to celebrate. Slovenia will station traditional accordion players at its border crossings. Sweden is organizing environmental hearings. Spain has invited foreign ambassadors to make a pilgrimage to legendary Santiago de Compostela. From Scotland to Cyprus, bands will play and fireworks blaze.But what sort of Europe is it, precisely, that the 10 new members are joining? Here, there's less to celebrate. It is a Europe where governments have lost control of the politics of integration. Consider the new European Constitution, soon to be completed and presented for ratification. Last week British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a man who famously quipped that he "had no reverse gear," proved just the opposite. After long insisting that no referendum would be required for approval by Britain, he called on Tuesday for just that--a popular vote, to be held in about a year...
  • Kick The Can, Please!

    Eurocrats are pointing fingers at Spain and Poland for sinking the Brussels summit. They might just as well have directed them at Germany. Superficially, the acrimony involved voting rights and whether to stick to the deal reached at Nice three years ago. In fact, the flap was more about money and public opinion.First the money. The debate over voting rights does not take place in a vacuum. With the extra votes guaranteed by Nice, Spain and Poland could block more EU legislation, then demand greater payments under the EU's structural and regional programs in exchange for lifting their vetoes. Perhaps there is some social justice in this. But Germany, traditionally the "paymaster" of Europe, naturally opposes such shenanigans--and no longer suffers any cold-war shyness about saying so.The new voting system would come into being only in 2009, though. So why all the heat now? The answer is public opinion--and the manipulative myopia it inspires in politicians. European leaders agree on...
  • The Death Of Tory England

    The British conservatives have become the party of serial regicide. This week the Tories will seek their fourth leader in six years, after sacking Iain Duncan Smith before he even contested a national election.The poor man didn't deserve such a humiliating fate. Duncan Smith projected a sober image of personal integrity. In a notable 2002 speech, he called himself "the quiet man." He was widely credited for bringing his party back from the brink, with recent polls showing it running even with Labour--even if this signals dissatisfaction with Tony Blair rather than support for the Tories.Yet he was doomed from the start. Right-wing M.P.s engineered his election as party leader two years ago to block more eminent centrists, Kenneth Clarke and Michael Portillo, despised by the hard-core Thatcherites. A political unknown, Duncan Smith was not considered electable as a prime minister. He was perceived as a right-winger in a right-wing party who could not secure agreement on a party...

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