Comparing US and EU Recent Migration Trends

The United States has the largest foreign-born population of any country in the world (roughly 50 million). This is not the highest percentage of the population – many smaller countries have that standing (including Switzerland – but also Germany and Austria).  With a long (albeit erratic) history of previous immigration flows, both voluntary and forced, the US is probably the most diverse country in the world.  But the EU has also experienced comparably significant increases in migration and diversification. Without dwelling on the past, though, the challenge is to look at recent trends and explore the similarities and differences. Continue reading “Comparing US and EU Recent Migration Trends”

International Women’s Day 2024: France the Pioneer

With cold and stormy weather in southern France keeping me at home on International Women’s Day, I watched wistfully as the sunshine shone on the large crowds gathered in front of the Ministry of Justice at the Place Vendôme in Paris. We were witnessing the formalities of enshrining a woman’s right to an abortion as an amendment to the French Constitution. And I didn’t have to be there in person to join the celebration.  France is definitely the pioneer in what President Emmanuel Macron described as the “beginning of a struggle” to establish the right to an abortion as a universal right everywhere. Continue reading “International Women’s Day 2024: France the Pioneer”

European Migration Issues: An Introductory Commentary

Migration has become a  prominent political issue in both the US and Europe. One could argue that it has always been a visibly controversial and divisive issue – and certainly so in the past ten or fifteen years.  What is different this year, however, is how rapidly it has risen to the top of the political agenda both in the US and Europe. The heating up of the migration debate may be attributable to its easy manipulation by populists in a significant year for elections in both the US and Europe. But it is clear that the record numbers of people seeking to migrate have been aggravated by the unusual ways that the legal framework for what one might call “irregular” or “unauthorized” migration have come to dominate the debate. The following commentary assesses the European and French context of the migration debate, with some preliminary comparisons with the US context. A separate commentary is planned to reflect further on recent developments in the US. Continue reading “European Migration Issues: An Introductory Commentary”

Lamentations over “Realpolitik” – An Obituary of Sorts

I have been reading many of the obituaries of Henry Kissinger in the past few days. So far, only two have been a positive one, while the others (either by the editorial board or columnists or invited authors in FT, Politico, Washington Post, NYT, Guardian, Huff Post, New Yorker, Atlantic) have been mostly negative. Because of the way that his life affected my own career path, I am personally inspired to chime in to the hoopla. Here are my thoughts about why I do not align with the positives. Continue reading “Lamentations over “Realpolitik” – An Obituary of Sorts”

Slim Democratic Majorities in Virginia

The outcome of the state legislative elections in Virginia, held on Tuesday, 6 November 2023, produced narrow majorities for the Democrats in both houses of the General Assembly. In contrast to the alarming polarization and the populist takeover of one of the major political parties at the national level, this is an encouraging example of democracy in action. I include this chronicling of Virginia’s politics from afar in this series on “Democracy under Threat” with a bit of optimism while also recognizing the worrisome undercurrents that are evident even in Virginia. Continue reading “Slim Democratic Majorities in Virginia”

In the Final Days of the Virginia Elections

In these last few days before Election Day in Virginia (Tuesday, November 7th), I have the impression that democracy is alive and well in this part of the world. One can lament the enormous and unrestricted amount of money that has gone into the 140 state legislative races for the Virginia General Assembly, as well as the barrage of negative advertising by or on behalf of many of the candidates, especially in the hotly contested districts. But it is a truly competitive election, thanks to the involvement of the media and civil society groups and academic commentators in publicizing where all that money is coming from and how the candidates are positioning themselves on the issues. I am impressed. Continue reading “In the Final Days of the Virginia Elections”

Obituaries 2022

I have taken to writing these end-of-year obituaries of famous people who had a personal effect on me in my professional career. Last year, there were several – it was a pretty bad year all around. This year of 2022 was less traumatic – although I did learn about a few less-than-famous ones who did have quite an influence on me – a couple of law professors that were instrumental in my belated study of the law, for example.  And at least one close friend who remained loyal through thick and thin. Culturally speaking, too, there were many sad losses, mostly in the entertainment and news industries but also sports.  And, of course, it has been a horrible year as far as the renegade Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is concerned. But I will stick to my routine here of only reflecting on famous people who actually died in 2022 and with whom I had professional interactions. There are only two that I would mention this year – Madeleine Albright and Orrin Hatch. Continue reading “Obituaries 2022”

Happy New Year 2023

As we transition from one year to the next, please accept my  best wishes for a happy, healthy and fulfilling new year.  I am inspired by the holiday greetings from friends and family that are always welcome this time of year.  And I am inspired by the many reflections on the past and resolutions for the future that are  also a part of this end-of-year ritual.  This year, I find myself to be especially inspired to reflect on the past year for the signs of hope for a better world and thereby to set my personal agenda for 2023 by identifying where my actions in the year ahead can make a difference. Continue reading “Happy New Year 2023”

Step by Step toward Resilience: A Commentary on Climate Change

In my ongoing campaign for multi-stakeholder collaboration, I have had a strong reaction to the film “Don’t Look Up” and the media attention it has attracted. I understand why Leonardo di Caprio’s well-known activism regarding climate change makes it an obvious comparison to the apparent failure of the Glasgow Summit on Climate Change (COP 26) to avoid the looming catastrophe of global warming. But it inspires me to share my somewhat contrary views about climate change.  I do agree that climate change is happening and that much more needs to be done to avoid a catastrophe. But I also believe that the political will to do more depends on our building popular support for action through multistakeholder collaboration. Here is my commentary on what this means for us. Continue reading “Step by Step toward Resilience: A Commentary on Climate Change”

Obituaries 2021

What is most striking, as we end this dreadful year of 2021, is the transitional nature of things but also the appallingly non-transformational nature of things. I am struck by the passing of a number of transitional  figures who made their mark on current versions of history and, what is more important to me, in this particular commentary, is that they made a mark on me personally.  Here, in no particular order, I reflect on the impact of Vernon Jordan, Walter Mondale, Colin Powell, Bob Dole, John Sweeney, Richard Trumka, John Ruggie and Desmond Tutu. Quite a collection! Only one of them, as far as I know, was  a loss attributable to the coronavirus itself (Colin Powell), but their losses have simply added to making this a year of sadness and melancholy for me. Continue reading “Obituaries 2021”