Thursday, April 18, 2002

Today in my Comparative Government class, we had Ambassador Ivan Grdesic of Croatia as a guest-speaker. His talk was on the problems faced by his country as a new democracy (they celebrated their tenth anniversary on April 7th) struggling to improve their economy and security situations. He had been a visiting professor of political science at Virginia Tech two years ago before being appointed ambassador upon his return to Croatia, and was thus a friend of my teacher (the department head).

I have to admit that I didn't do any real research on Croatia before his talk like I should've. While I knew that since Serbia and America haven't gotten along lately it was likely that Croatia had been friendly with us, I didn't know in what way. However, at least from his presentation, it sounds as though Croatia is one of those Eastern European countries like Poland and the Czech Republic that has at least a clue. They're currently applying for membership to NATO and the European Union, since both measures would likely significantly help their economy. As he put it, staying out would mean that Croatia would remain a small peripheral power subject to the will of their more-powerful neighbors. I suppose I can't really argue with that, except to say that I would love it if the US would form an alliance with Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic, and other countries that aren't France (Italy, Spain, Croatia, Turkey, and Denmark all seem to spring to mind). Right now, the EU is the only economic free-trade organization in Europe. Others have floated the idea of making NAFTA into the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, and that sounds like a good idea to me.

I don't hate Europe. However, France and Germany are the biggest kids on the block, and the only possible counterbalance would be one of England, Spain, and Italy. What we don't want is a situation where countries like the Czech Republic that are currently our friends to be swallowed up and essentially have to tell us "my parents said I'm not allowed to play with you any more."

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