It is hard to see how Biden can emerge from this disaster without his credibility shredded, but the greater loss is to the credibility of the United States, which increasingly appears a fading power internationally (as well as a failing state at home).
“A move from unilateralism to deliberation suggests negotiation. So, if last week’s pardons counts as a concession by the Spanish executive, what will the Generalitat have to concede in return?” asks a Barcelona-based commentator of the pardon of nine leading Catalan politicians.
‘Progressives often criticise increased European co-operation on defence because they fear the construction of a European army on the superpower model. But if we understand European defence co-operation as contributing to multilateral missions, this could be a positive development.’
‘The message for and from Scotland is that the trends in society and the economy favour outward-looking, social democratic, culturally progressive, green (in the widest sense) political movements and this was reaffirmed by last week’s results in Holyrood. Now, more than ever, is the time for these Scottish political forces to reach out to their fellows across the EU and Europe as a whole.’
“Change can be difficult and uncomfortable, but there is unlikely to be a better time to begin to dismantle some of the barriers which have impeded genuine growth. Scottish education needs to escape from the ‘iron cage’ of its own bureaucracy. This will require vision, honesty and courage, qualities that, sadly, have not been in plentiful supply among political leaders (of all parties) in recent years.”
Going beyond recovery from the pandemic. In reviewing a recent book on Scotland post-Covid-19, we urge an ambitious, granular debate on the ways to transform our country and make it greener, fairer and more democratic for all.
“Scotland should also develop its own niche areas of expertise, starting with the gamut of environmental issues related to climate change. Indeed, the aim for the coming years should be: ‘Scotland – the Green Capital of Europe.’”
‘…richer nations such as Scotland need to live up to their oft-repeated, much-vaunted proclamations in favour of global solidarity. So far, we’re not even talking about it in the pandemic.’
‘We end a year of sadness and sorrow with hope that 2021 will raise the overall level of ambition in Scotland, not just in terms of defeating the virus, but of paving the way for a society and economy that give the people a greater sense of belonging and sharing, that may act as a model beyond its borders, promote fairness and justice in international relations and help save the planet.’
‘…Scotland’s relatively normal politics and pro-European aspirations may look in many ways more in the contemporary political mainstream than Johnson’s past-its-sell-by-date Trumpism. And a more open attitude from the EU to an independent Scotland may impact to some degree on US views too. But hard realpolitik interests – whether in the US or EU – will always be there.’