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Exploring the World: Adventures of a Global Traveler: Volume Ii: Europe and Its Regions

Exploring the World: Adventures of a Global Traveler: Volume Ii: Europe and Its Regions

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Exploring the World: Adventures of a Global Traveler: Volume Ii: Europe and Its Regions

626 pagine
9 ore
Dec 2, 2013


Professor Howard J. Wiarda, a leading academic expert on foreign policy, comparative politics, and international affairs, is the author of more than eighty books. Wiarda has traveled to many of the worlds most troubled and exciting places. Now, in the more personal accounts of his global travels, he recalls his foreign research adventures, the countries visited, and the people he met and interviewed along the way.

Wiardas new four-volume set, Exploring the World: Adventures of a Global Traveler, details his travels and foreign adventures since 2006. In these travel books, he tells the stories that lie behind the research, offers his impressions of the countries and regions he has explored, and considers how and why some have been successful and others not.

Volume I in this new series tells the story of Wiardas 2010 circumnavigation of the globe. Volume II focuses on Europe and the continued importance of European regionalismdespite the bumper stickers advertising Europe Whole and Free. Volume III deals with Latin America and questions whether the region is really as democratic as we would like it to be. Volume IV provides Wiardas analysis of Asias economic miracles while also recounting his recent visits to the Persian Gulf and his assessment of modernization and development in the Islamic world.

Insightful and entertaining, Wiardas travel narratives offer commentary on important and interesting sites all over the world.
Dec 2, 2013

Informazioni sull'autore

Howard J. Wiarda is the Dean Rusk Professor of International Relations at the University of Georgia, senior scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, and public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. A prolific author, his books focus on Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Southern Africa. His fields of study include foreign policy, comparative politics, and international affairs, as well as travel writing.

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Exploring the World - Howard J. Wiarda




On Foreign Travel

I started traveling to foreign countries when I was a young graduate student. My first trip abroad was in 1962 when I did research in Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. I wrote my MA thesis—and first book—on the Trujillo regime in the DR. The next year, still a grad student, I visited Mexico and traveled overland by minibus and hitch-hiking—too dangerous to do today—up and down the Isthmus of Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. I lived for most of 1964 and part of 1965 again in the Dominican Republic doing research for my doctoral dissertation which was the basis for my first published books on the Dominican revolution and U.S. military intervention of 1965.¹ During this period I also visited Puerto Rico several times to lecture at the Peace Corps training camp there.

While my first several trips abroad were all on two—or four-engine propeller planes, the early 1960s was the period when modern jet travel was coming into widespread use for the first time. Jet aircraft certainly facilitated the foreign travel that I and other scholars in the fields of international relations, comparative politics, and foreign policy wanted and needed to do. With jet travel now becoming widespread, it soon became possible to be (almost) anywhere in the world in one day or one overnight.

In 1966 and 1968, as (still) a young assistant and then associate professor, I received grants from my university (the University of Massachusetts) to travel all around Latin America. We (my wife and I) went back to the Dominican Republic, then visited Venezuela (where she had written her doctoral dissertation), Brazil (my wife’s home country), then Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Panama. In 1972 and then again in 1974, we retraced this route, focused particularly on the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Brazil, to complete a research project sponsored by the National Institute of Health (NIH) on The Politics of Population Policy in Latin America.²

My own research and travel interests, meantime, had increasingly focused on Europe. We spent the 1972-73 academic year on sabbatical leave in Portugal and Spain, and traveled extensively throughout Western Europe as well as North Africa. In 1974 and 1975 I was back in Portugal as a policy adviser to the State Department on the Portuguese revolution. In 1977 I went to Israel to help train a new generation of young Israeli scholars, diplomats, and journalists on Latin America; on the way back I did preliminary research on Southern European labor relations in Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. In 1979, on another year-long sabbatical, I completed the Southern European project and published a monograph on the subject.³

Up to this point, my foreign travel itinerary was still quite conventional for a young (still under forty) academic scholar. Between 1962 and 1979, I’d gone on student junkets to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America, made several trips abroad mainly to my areas of research specialization (Latin America and Southern Europe), enjoyed two research sabbaticals as a young professor, and lived abroad for three out of those seventeen years. During this period I averaged one trip abroad per year—but only if you count Puerto Rico as being abroad.

However, in 1979-80-81 all this changed; my life was altered forever. In 1979 I was asked to join Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs (CFIA) as a Research Associate and Research Scholar. At Harvard I worked closely with Samuel Huntington, Stanley Hoffman, Joseph Nye, Schmuel Eisenstadt, Daniel Bell, Sidney Verba, Gabriel Almond, and other academic luminaries. I also taught at MIT in the spring of 1980. Being at Harvard, I soon discovered, enormously increases your prestige level and, therefore, also your opportunities to lecture, to contribute to anthologies, and to travel to far-off places.

Then in 1981, in part because of that Harvard connection, I was invited to join the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) as a Senior Scholar and foreign policy program director. Wow; Harvard, MIT, and AEI all within a two-year period. In those years, early-to-mid-1980s, of the Reagan Revolution, AEI was flush with cash from its big donors; it was also viewed as the idea factory of the Reagan Administration. I had no teaching and precious little administrative responsibilities at AEI, leaving abundant time for research, writing, and foreign travel, mainly to Europe and Latin America. While at AEI in the 1980s, I also undertook my first trips to Asia: initially Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Singapore; later China, South Korea, Indonesia, East Timor, Macao, India, and Malaysia as well. My travel budget was virtually unlimited and it was not difficult to find a reason to go abroad. Instead of one trip a year from my early academic years, I now started to average three or four foreign trips a year.

My itinerary broadened as well. I went to places, and often at five-star levels, that I never would have gone to as an academic. Since I still had research interests in Mexico, Central America (then a hot issue), the Caribbean, and South America, one or another of my research projects would bring us there every year, usually in the winter when Washington was snowy and cold. And since I now also had serious research interests in Europe, we’d find our way there a couple of times a year as well, usually in the late spring or early fall when the weather was nice but the restaurants, streets, and galleries were not overrun with tourists, students, and backpackers. I should say that all these trips also involved legitimate research interests or else were done at the behest of AEI—for example, our work on behalf of the Kissinger Commission on Central America or our efforts to establish ties with like-minded think tanks abroad. But what a life it was, involving numerous opportunities for travel. It could not last, and it didn’t; AEI went belly-up in 1987-88. And I returned to my comfortable, tenured professorship at UMass and my research position at Harvard.

In 1991 lightning struck again; I received an appointment as Professor of National Security Policy at the National War College, enabling us to return to Washington for an extended period. At NWC, I discovered, there were always surplus travel funds (this is the Department of Defense, after all, with gigantic budgets, the Cold War over, and no enemies on the horizon) that had to be spent (use it or lose it) before the end of the fiscal year. So every year, with impeccable timing right after the student spring trips which were NWC’s big travel item, I’d approach the NWC executive Officer (XO) with a request for travel funds. Of course, the request had to be defense or security related but that was no problem: as a global superpower, every area of the globe is related to U.S. defense and security interests. On that basis, using DOD funds, I visited Russia twice, China, South Korea, South America, Mexico, Central America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and the Middle East. My years at the War College, 1991-96, even more so than at AEI, turned me into a global traveler instead of just a regional one.

I left the War College mainly because UMass, my home institution for all those parapatetic years and where I still had a tenured full professorship, had created a chaired and named professorship for me: the Leonard J. Horwitz Chair. Horwitz was a UMass alumnus who had generously endowed a chair in Latin American and foreign policy studies. The Chair carried with it a considerable travel fund that enabled me to continue the extensive travel schedule begun when I was at Harvard and continued at AEI and the War College. With these funds I went back to Russia again and began making yearly trips to Eastern Europe. The high point of this period came during a year-long sabbatical leave in 2001 when, aided also by grants from the Aspen Institute, the Fulbright Program, the Erhard Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, and the Oriente Foundation, I spent the first six months living in Vienna and Budapest, the next two months in Brazil and South Africa, and two more months touring Asia: Japan, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, Indonesia, and East Timor.

In 2003 I took an early retirement offer from UMass and accepted another chair, the Dean Rusk Professorship at the University of Georgia, as well as serving as founding head of the newly created Department of International Affairs at UGA. The Rusk Professorship, which I still hold, although after two three-year terms I recently stepped down as department head, also carried with it a $10,000 yearly fund for travel. By carefully husbanding that resource and drawing on other travel funds, I’ve been able to keep up the extensive travel begun before. And that means three or four foreign trips per year, mainly to Europe but also to Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Just this past year, for example, I spent part of the spring in Central Europe (the Imperial Splendors tour of Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria), May to June in Asia (Japan, China, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, and Malaysia), and part of July in Central America.

I’ve thus had thirty years of travel, since 1980, averaging three or four foreign trips per year, coming on top of an earlier seventeen years as an academic averaging one trip per year. It’s an extensive, nearly five-decades-long travel schedule: I’ve traveled, lived in, or done research in over ninety countries and on five continents.

I’ve also been fortunate to have the funding to do this travel. Over three decades I’ve enjoyed five, year-long, fully paid, no-strings-attached, research leaves or sabbaticals from the universities with which I’ve been associated, and three, half-year, paid leaves. I’ve also been remarkably lucky over the years in winning outside grants and fellowships to supplement this sabbatical support. Then, when I was at AEI for all those years, I had virtually unlimited freedom (no classes, no students!) to travel whenever I wanted, and the almost unlimited funds to go with it. At the War College in the 1990s, I was similarly able to tap into the extensive travel funds available. Finally, over the last fifteen years, at both UMass and UGA, I’ve held endowed chairs that carry with them not large but sufficient travel funds.

What a charmed life! How nice to be able to engage in all that travel! My travel books are a product of all these institutions’ generosity and I’m grateful to them for it.

The Writing Life

I now consider myself a writer. Going back to junior high, high school, even elementary school, I’ve always loved to write. I wanted to become a professional writer. For about one semester each, I majored, respectively, in English and journalism in college—until a college mentor pulled me aside one day and gave me some wonderful advice. First, after meeting writer John Bartlow Martin and interviewing him when he served as John F. Kennedy’s ambassador in the 1960s-era troubled Dominican Republic, I was told there were only about two hundred persons in the United States (Martin was one of them) who made their living entirely from their writing—not good odds. Second, I was advised, sagely as it turned out, that I should not major in English or journalism but should get my degree in something substantive—history, political science, economics, sociology—and study and do my writing on the side, which I did as a reporter-editor for a really good campus newspaper at the University of Michigan, The Michigan Daily.

So that’s how I became a political scientist and, eventually, a professor of political science. I wouldn’t say that political science was for me a fallback position or even a consolation prize, for I’ve loved (almost) every minute of the life I’ve led in that profession. But political science, back when I was nineteen years old, would not have been my first choice.

I’m the author/editor of 120 (one hundred twenty) books. The number sounds awfully impressive but actually it’s quite a bit short of that. To break that number down (I have compiled the figures because my wife recently inquired), the list includes thirty-five edited volumes and probably fifteen, shorter (under one hundred pages) monographs. The 120 number also includes foreign language editions of earlier books, multiple editions of some of my books, and collections of previously published, shorter articles and writings. When you subtract all these exceptions from the list, it leaves thirty-five books for which I am the sole, individual, original author. It’s still a goodly list but nowhere near the total of 120 which at first-blush sounds so impressive.

Somewhere in my political science career, I think about six or seven years ago, I recrossed that frontier mentioned earlier. I now consider myself a writer as well as a political scientist. I’m not a great writer but I do work hard at it. I love the single, solitary work of being a scholar and writer. I don’t need people around, or at least not all the time. Some of the best times of my life are spent in my home office, all alone, manipulating words, images, sentences, and paragraphs. I enjoy that singular and solitary existence.

In recent years I’ve become a student of good writing. I read Joyce Carol Oates and John Updike. Right now on my coffee table I have an eclectic pile of books: Anthony Trollope (who wrote a thousand words per hour), Donna Leon (mysteries set in Venice), Elmore Leonard (quirky novels often with foreign policy themes), and Hunter Thompson—he of the gonzo journalism style. I both study and read good writers. I also read books on writing or writers on writing. I’ve become a student of the writing profession. I seldom read political science any more because the writing is, generally, so bad.

My skills are not up to those of these great writers. When I read Updike, for example, whom I like not least because his family history and background are similar to my own, I sometimes sit back in awe at the magic and sparkle with which he infuses his sentences. I hate Oates’s depressing stories but I love her writing style and productivity. In my own writing, which has many faults as numerous unkind reviewers have repeatedly pointed out, I strive to improve my style with every book. Often I fail fully to achieve what I want.

Nevertheless, I keep on writing. In fact, I write almost constantly. My graduate students often wonder at my productivity and ask me how I manage to do it, while also maintaining a happy home, family, and personal life. The answer, which I’m not entirely clear about myself, is that I’m very organized, very disciplined, and very hard-working. I also have an enormously patient and supportive family. And I love what I do. Unlike some scholars who lack a writing background, I never have a moment of writer’s block. There is always more to see, experience—and write about. Sometimes I fret that I write too much. My dean once told me, Howard, every time you sneeze it gets published.

Lacking the skills and talents of an Oates or Updike, I try to write as clearly and directly as possible. I avoid obscurantism, political science jargon, and unnecessary vagaries. I write to describe, to analyze, and to be understood. Judging from the sales and praise of the textbooks I’ve written, and the letters and responses of my students, I must be successful on at least some levels.

I’ve now figured out that I can write almost anywhere. I write on trains, planes, and while on tour buses. I write in my home office, at the university, and in a hideaway office I have in the library. I write in sidewalk cafés, in museums, and while having dinner if I’m by myself. Once in a sidewalk café in Berlin a tourist picked up my journal that I had open on the table and started to read it; since that’s a no-no, I had to grab it away from him. I’m proud of the fact that I once wrote an entire scholarly article over a two-week period while commuting on the Metro in Washington, D.C. I did that for no special reason, only for the fun of proving to myself that I could so it. It’s not my best article, but not my worst either.

In my new or newly rediscovered role as a writer, I launched five years ago a monthly Newsletter. The Newsletter comments on issues of international relations, foreign policy, and comparative politics—my fields within political science. I like the format of my Newsletter; each issue is about two thousand words, longer than an op-ed but shorter than a scholarly article. I choose a different topic each month, one on which I have some expertise and something, I hope, new and interesting to say. The style is a cross between journalism and academic writing, what I call high journalism—but surely not low scholarly.

I’m at home in that style. I like the newsy, see-it-now style of good journalism, combined with the analytic insights of good scholarship. And that’s the style I’ve followed in this book. I hope it’s readable. I want to convey, as a journalist would, the excitement of seeing and observing new things, new countries, and new cultures from all the foreign travel that I do. At the same time, I want to use the insights from my professional, political science, IR, foreign policy, and comparative politics background to shed new light and new analysis on the countries and issues covered. I hope it’s a nice and useful combination.

Recent Developments in Comparative Politics

and International Relations

In recent decades, the academic fields of comparative politics and international relations have become much more quantitative, mathematical, and scientific. Of course, we all want to be as accurate and as scientific as we can. But are political science and its subfields of IR and comparative politics as amenable to scientific methods as are physics and chemistry? Is politics a matter of science or is it an art form? Well, actually, there are many aspects of politics that we can study scientifically—voting behavior, for example, or congressional roll calls. But there are many aspects of politics—often the most interesting—that are not subject to quantitative study. My own view is that politics can be studied carefully, analytically, and systematically; but that, unlike an experiment in a laboratory, it cannot be studied scientifically as in a chemistry or physics experiment.

In its ongoing quest for scientific precision as well as for acceptance as a science, political science has recently turned to rational choice theory as its lodestone. Following economics, rational choice in politics assumes that all human behavior can be reduced to a few simple and universal propositions: that men are rational, that they are always self-interested and self-aggrandizing, and that all human behavior, in politics as well as economics, can be reduced to a calculus of competing, self-interested, self-aggrandizing, utility-maximizing groups and individuals. Although the fields of comparative politics and international relations have been less subjected to the rat-choice theories than others, perhaps because students in those fields travel abroad more and learn other cultures where the behavior may be different and at odds with rat-choice, the popularity of this approach is growing in these fields as well. In some political science departments, such as those at the universities of Rochester or Stanford, rational choice is de rigueur and virtually the only mode of thinking allowed.

Rat-choice is part of the new scientific approach to the study of politics; and, similar to other approaches that seek to make political science more scientific, we should not be entirely opposed to it. To the extent rational choice can shed light on the issues we are interested in, we should not hesitate to use it. In the Third World settings where I often do my research, for example, I would employ rat-choice not just to study voting behavior but also to such phenomena as general strikes, coups d’état, and revolutions. The problems come, however, when we try to elevate a useful but still partial explanation into a single and all-encompassing one that seeks to rule out other possible answers.

In my career, I spent thirty years in Washington, D.C., working on policy issues, only returning to university life intermittently; and so I missed out on much of the scientific and rational choice revolutions sweeping political science. I only became fully aware of these trends in 2003 when I returned full-time to a university faculty as professor and department head. In that capacity, I learned several things:

• The fields of international relations and comparative politics had become much more oriented toward quantification and science.

• My department required four methodology courses for the Ph.D. at the expense of substantive courses. The methodology tail was wagging the substantive dog.

• Almost no one taught foreign policy courses any more even though that was where the greatest student demand lay. Foreign policy was thought of as a lesser pursuit, a-theoretical and non-scientific.

• Rational choice was winning converts even in my own department, which had once been more eclectic and pluralistic in its approaches and methodologies. Rational choice and methodological sophistication were thought of as derigueur in reorienting new faculty and training graduate students.

• Fewer and fewer of my faculty learned foreign languages or traveled abroad to do research. Methodology courses had crowded out language training; the faculty preferred to stay at home and work on their supposedly scientific data sets rather than go abroad.

• Almost no one valued such traditional, qualitative methodologies as field research, interviewing, or participant observation. These are viewed as non-scientific. The department provides no training in these more traditional methodologies.

• As department head, I lobbied hard to get paid sabbatical leaves for my faculty. To my surprise, my faculty did not use that opportunity, as I had in my career, to go abroad for a year or semester and learn another country, region, or culture. Instead, they chose to stay closeted in their university offices and manipulate numbers and statistical correlations. How parochial and short-sighted!

The result of these transformations in international relations and comparative politics: fewer language skills, less experience of living abroad, less foreign country and area studies expertise, greater parochialism, more ethnocentrism, less cross-cultural understanding, and less foreign policy knowledge and expertise. All this, in my view, a disaster.

On Travel Writing

This is, as indicated, the sixth book of travel writing that I’ve done. Naturally, you hope you get better at it—just like all writing—as you do more of it. And because I’m a scholar and a professor and that’s what I do for a living, I read other travel writers and their accounts. I think that I can improve my own writing by studying how other writers do it.

There are, in my view, two kinds of travel writers. The first, who can be found in the pages of airline magazines, travel guides, cruise ship advertising, and even the pages of the Financial Times, are mere travelers. They don’t know much about the countries or cultures to which they travel. Often they spend only a few days in the places to which they travel; their knowledge is superficial. Either they’re trying to sell you something—a hotel, a restaurant, or a package tour—or their goal is only to give you the nuts and bolts: where to stay, what to see, where to eat, what to avoid. They usually just sum up the place—walk here, walk there—without going into any depth.

Sometimes, because they travel so much, their knowledge is limited only to the airline they’re on, the airport where they land, the taxi ride in from the airport, and the hotel where they stay. Where’s the discussion of the local religion(s), politics, society, culture, and level of socioeconomic development—all the things that make other countries and cultures so interesting? Either they don’t know or they want to avoid any possible offense to their readers, so they say nothing.

Don’t get me wrong. I also read these often-superficial accounts for the information they impart and the occasional insight they may have. Believe me, I’ve in my travels also lugged around plenty of heavy Arthur Frommers (starting with Europe on $5 a Day), Lonely Planets, Rough Guides, and Fodor’s in my day. In my home library I’ve got two shelves full of these guides. Of course, they’re useful, even indispensible, especially if you’ve not been to that country or region before. But good travel writing they are not.

For good travel writing, you need to turn to other sources. I would say some of the best of these come from professional writers and novelists, persons like Graham Greene, Jan Morris, Robert Kaplan, Allen Riding, Hedrick Smith, W. Somerset Maugham, and Rudyard Kipling. These are persons who are trained observers. Whether novelists or journalists, they are good at capturing characters, dialogue, description, and dramatic moments. Not just airports, hotels, and train schedules. They are good at getting inside people, cultures, and societies. Often perceptive and insightful, they are both good observers and good writers. For example, Greene’s novel on Haiti, The Comedians (1965) still seems to me the best book ever written on that tortured country. Greene and these others take the time to live in the country, interview people, delve deeply into the culture, and, most important, seek to understand the country or culture on its own terms and not just through their own Western lenses.

It is significant that there are no scholars of comparative politics or international relations on my list. One would think that, with their knowledge of other countries and areas and their advanced methodologies, at least some scholars would be included. But no, I can’t think of any, although some academics—Lucian Pye and Edwin Reischauer—have written some, at least semi-popular, books on history and foreign cultures. Why is this? Why so few travel books by scholars delving deeply into the cultures and societies of the countries they cover? I have my own ideas on this subject. Some possible reasons to help us understand this lack of scholarly contributions to the popular travel-book genre include the following:

• Scholars are not trained writers; rarely are good scholars also good writers.

• Scholars write mainly for their peers; they are usually not much interested in writing for a popular audience.

• Scholars’ methodological preoccupations and jargon often interfere with and get in the way of good writing.

• To many scholars, trained in quantitative methods and rational choice, factors such as geography, history, and culture—precisely the stuff of good travel writing—are unimportant or irrelevant.

Let me be clear about my own writings on these subjects. I think of myself as both a scholar and a would-be travel writer. Although others may disagree, I tended to think of scholarly work as occupying a higher plain than travel writings, which are closer to journalism. Therefore, my best material, my best theory, my best data, and my best analysis had to go into my scholarly writing. That’s just the way it is in my profession, in my priorities, and in my studies. I’d kept my academic writing and my travel writing as two separate and different genres.

It was only at the urging of my family, friends, and students that I began to write travel books. They wanted me to tell the stories, the encounters, and the impressions, long recounted orally and often hilariously, that lay behind the research and scholarship. They wanted to know my impressions from traveling abroad, the living experiences, the interview situations, the adventures of foreign travel that were not set forth in my academic books. I don’t know if this should be considered a complement to my credit or not, but I’ve had numerous students approach me years afterwards and say, Oh Professor Wiarda, I don’t remember a thing about the substance of your course but the stories were wonderful!

I continue to write academic and scholarly books. And I see my travel writing as a behind-the-scenes, more personal, and first-hand complement to these. But I no longer see the travel writing as occupying a lower plain. Nor do I see it as entirely separate from my academic writing. The travel writing is now the substance of what I do. And, therefore, I must strive to do it better. Part of that striving is to incorporate greater sophistication, comprehension, and understanding into the travel writing. And that means the incorporation of more background material, more cultural analysis, and even some theory into my travel writing. I seek to make the travel writing every bit as sophisticated and high-level as is my goal for my scholarly output.

This is an experiment. I don’t know if it will work. But of one thing I’m certain: I’ll surely hear from you, my readers, if it doesn’t.

The Plan of the Book

This is, as indicated, the sixth travel book that I’ve written. So this book takes up in 2006 where the previous volumes left off. It covers the period 2006-2012 and deals specifically with Europe. The book proceeds more or less chronologically.

The book begins with a trip undertaken in 2006 to Spain, Portugal, Mallorca, and the Netherlands. All of these, except Mallorca, are familiar to me; I’ve lived in and/or traveled to these countries dozens of times; they are my countries. The preoccupation on this trip with regard to Spain and Portugal was whether these two countries have now, finally, made it as modern, developed countries. In the Netherlands, in contrast, I wanted to explore how a definitely modern and developed country deals with the immense problem of assimilating (or not!) Muslim immigrants into its ranks.

The next excursion, called the Heart of Europe Tour, was undertaken in the spring of 2007. The purpose of this trip was to stay current on Europe and all the European countries we’d lived in or traveled to before. The tour included the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and France.

In the spring of 2009 my wife and I took our first-ever, luxury, cruise-line tour. We boarded in Athens, sailed up the Aegean Sea and the Dardanelles to Istanbul, then back down along the Turkish coast and out to the Greek islands: Ephesus, Patmos, Crete, Santorini, Mikonos, and Rhodes. I discovered that one could do comparative politics without ever leaving the Greek islands.

In the summer of 2009, once the water had warmed up, we took our second—and equally wonderful—seagoing cruise, this time around the Baltic. We started in Copenhagen, Denmark; then visited Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; and Oslo, Norway, before docking in Rotterdam and flying out of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Much of this was familiar territory to us (although you always learn new things), but we had never before been in St. Petersburg, Helsinki, or Oslo.

In March 2010, I took the Imperial Treasures Tour of Central Europe, this time overland: Munich, Germany; Prague, Czech Republic; Bratislava, Slovakia; Budapest, Hungary; Vienna and Salzburg, Austria; then back to Munich. I’d lived and traveled extensively in this area before; the tour provided a wonderful opportunity to catch up.

Finally, in 2012, we signed up for our third cruise, this time around the Western and Central Mediterranean: Spain, Italy, Sicily, Greece, and Croatia. This trip was especially exciting because it enabled us to see and experience all the countries of Southern Europe presently going through profound crisis.

That means six extended tours of Europe in the last seven years. Each tour is dealt with in a separate part or subsection of the book. Some of these parts, depending on the length of the trip or the number of countries visited, may be further subdivided into two, three, or four chapters.

The chapters are full of exciting places visited, observations about them, and analysis. The emphasis is on Europe’s regions as well as the individual countries visited. It’s an invigorating series of journeys; we hope you’ll come along and enjoy the ride!


1 Howard J. Wiarda, The Dominican Republic: Nation in Transition (New York: Praeger, 1963).

2 Howard J. Wiarda, The Brazilian Catholic Labor Movement (Amherst, MA: Labor Relations and Research Center, University of Massachusetts, 1969); see also our chapters in Terry McCoy (ed.), Dynamics of Population Policy in Latin America (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1974).

3 Howard J. Wiarda, From Corporatism to Neo-Syndicalism: The State, Organized Labor, and the Changing Industrial Relations Systems of Southern Euirope (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, Center for European Studies, 1981).

4 Howard J. Wiarda, Harvard and the Whitehead Center for International Affairs (Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2009).

5 Howard J. Wiarda, Conservative Brain Trust: The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of the American Enterprise Institute (Latham, MD: Lexington, 2009).

6 Howard J.Wiarda, A Clash of Cultures: Military Brass vs. Civilian Academics at the National War College (Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2011).

7 Howard J. Wiarda, Where Does Europe End? The Politics of EU and NATO Enlargement (Vienna: Austrian Institute for International Affairs, 2002); Wiarda, Civil Society (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2002); and Wiarda, The Legacy of Portuguese Rule in Asia (Lisbon: Portuguese Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 2002).





Introduction to Part I

T here are a few countries in the world that I consider my home countries. I think of them as home either because we’ve lived in these countries for considerable periods, or because I have roots there, or because I particularly like these countries. Usually a country becomes one of mine because of a combination of these factors.

In Latin America my countries include Brazil because that is my wife’s home country and we’ve spent a lot of time there, and the Dominican Republic where I wrote my MA and Ph.D. theses, where our daughter was born, and which has been close to my heart ever since. In Europe I’ve written at length about Spain and Portugal and consider them also my home, in a research sense. The Netherlands is the country from which all four of my grandparents emigrated to America, so that is part of my roots and origins. I’ve lived in and love Austria and wouldn’t mind retiring there, so that is also home to me. I’ve visited, traveled in, and like, for different reasons, virtually every other country in Latin America and Europe but don’t consider any of them to be home.

I’m not Asian, Middle Eastern, or African by birth or ethnicity so I can’t fully call any of those countries home, nor have I lived in any of them long enough to consider them my countries. In Asia, however, I feel very comfortable and almost at home in both Hong Kong and Singapore, even though I’ve traveled and done research in almost all the Asian countries. In Africa, I feel comfortable and at home in South Africa, mainly because of its origins as a Dutch colony and because, therefore, with my own Dutch roots, I understand it very well in ways that I can never understand other parts of Africa. I’m less well-acquainted with the Middle East but, having worked there, I think I know and understand Israel very well, as well as the Gulf states of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain.

Part I of the book takes me back to three of the countries where I feel at home: Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands. Portugal and the Netherlands receive the most attention but Spain also comes in for its share of commentary. All three of these I consider my countries and elsewhere I’ve written extensively about them.¹


1 Howard J. Wiarda, The Dutch Diaspora (New York, NY: Lexington Press, 2007); Wiarda, Politics in Iberia (New York, NY/Boston, MA: Little Brown/Harper Collins, 1992); Wiarda, The Transition to Democracy in Spain and Portugal (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1988)






I have a friend who teaches at Emory University in Atlanta, whose husband is president of the College of Paris, and who thus maintains a long-distance commuter marriage. They see each other one weekend per month and used to make the trip with a long layover via Newark or JFK Airport. But then some years ago Delta Airlines began direct nonstop service between Atlanta and Paris. My friend reported that the initiation of that service not only saved her two or three days per month; it may also have saved her marriage!

I relate this story for two reasons. First, because my academic position is now in Athens, Georgia, near the Atlanta airport, and I fly out of that airport regularly—at least once a month. And I’m amazed at the international service that Delta now provides from what is, after all, a regional and an interior airport. I can now fly out of Atlanta, direct and nonstop to virtually every country in Latin America, all the major countries of Asia, and all the big cities of Europe. I no longer have to fly out of Newark, New York, or Washington, thus cutting long days and hassle time out of my travel schedule. From Atlanta I can now be almost anywhere in the world in one day. International flights out of Atlanta have been a wonderful boon for my extensive travel.

The second reason for relating this story has to do with my specific travel itinerary for this trip. While Delta now flies from Atlanta to all the major European capitals, it does not yet have direct service to Lisbon. Rome, Milan, Athens, Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt, London, and Amsterdam—yes; but Lisbon, no. As a result, on this trip my itinerary took me to Madrid first, then back to Lisbon, and eventually on to the Netherlands via Mallorca. However, since Spain has long been one of my favorite countries, I did not see these stopovers as onerous but as an opportunity to catch up on the news and issues from all over Iberia.


The time is June 3, 2006. My teaching obligations are over for the spring term, and I’m ready to get away. My wife, Iêda, is on her way to Washington to her regular job at the Library of Congress, so on this trip I’ll be traveling alone. My purposes are to conduct research on European politics, stay up-to-date on my countries—Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands—and gather materials for new editions of my books on comparative politics and international affairs. I also need, before July 1 and the end of the 2006 fiscal year, to spend the last of the money in my research travel account! The year 2006 means it’s just before the great economic crash in Southern Europe that would begin a couple of years later.

From Atlanta to Madrid it’s 4,338 miles, an eight-hour flight, overnight. Then, the next morning, a one-hour flight from Madrid back to Lisbon. The plane, a Boeing 767 wide—body, is completely full. I love the maps and data on the global positioning system that the new airliners have.

Our route takes us northeast from Atlanta, up the Blue Ridge Mountains, and over New England. It’s three hours overland before we head out over the Atlantic at Halifax, Nova Scotia. Only five hours and 2,700 more miles to go! It’s a rough flight over the North Atlantic, pitching and bouncing most of the way. Even in an uncomfortable middle-seat I’m able to sleep for two or three hours.

The next day dawns on board the flight with a glorious sun. We enter Spanish airspace from the northwest, passing over the Bay of Biscay and the coast at 7:30 a.m. We’re close to the beach where Hapsburg King Charles I landed in Spain after sailing from the Netherlands, was shipwrecked in one of the Bay of Biscay’s famed storms, and landed in Spain disheveled and looking like a pirate, which in a sense he was. Our flight takes us over Leon where the Spanish nation began in an uprising against the Moors, and over Valladolid, the ancient capital before it was moved to Madrid. We touch down at Madrid’s Barajas Airport at 8:35.

Europe! I now think of Spain as part of Europe—developed, democratic, fully integrated into modern European culture. It was not always so. When I had first visited Spain in the early 1970s, Franco was still in power; Spain was not a democratic or a modern country; poverty was widespread. The future was uncertain; any one of a number of possibilities—fascism, communism, democracy, or civil war—was still possible. Spain was still claiming to be different—unique, distinctive—and I wrote about that in my early books.¹ It was not just the Franco regime but Spanish society was similarly authoritarian, hierarchical, top-down, conservative, corporatist, and very Catholic.

Some of these features were more-or-less permanent characteristics of Spanish political culture; others of them would change very rapidly once Franco died, a new generation came to power, and Spain modernized and liberalized very quickly. I was involved in some of the polling of public opinion in Spain in the late 1970s that measured these seismic shifts in attitudes and toward modernization. But instead of pursuing the other alternatives mentioned above, Spain in the 1970s undertook a transition to democracy that inspired an entire literature on that theme and became a model for other countries to emulate. Then, when Spain joined the European Union (EU) in the mid-1980s, its transition was ratified and Spain was linked to a modern, progressive, social-welfare-oriented Europe. Spain’s ancient complexes—First World or Third World, Western or non-Western, European or Latin American—were finally resolved. Or so it seemed in this earlier, happier period.

Landing at the airport that day, my assumptions about the new, modern Spain were reconfirmed. There had been a time in the 1970s and early 1980s when I traveled to Spain every year and sometimes more than that. I was then working as a consultant to the U.S. State Department and the embassy in Madrid, and at that stage it was still not certain what the outcome of the Spanish transition would be. The embassy, the CIA, and the Defense Department, still at that time in the context of the Cold War, were worried that Spain might either go communist or disintegrate into street demonstrations and chaos. But over time Spain settled down, became democratic, and stabilized. As it did so, I visited Spain less often, once every two or three years instead of every year.

To be honest, and I have mixed sentiments about saying this, a Spain that was safe, stable, and democratic was less interesting than a Spain whose future was uncertain. To be sure, I preferred a democratic Spain and I applauded its accomplishments. But as a scholar steeped in Spanish history and sociology, I missed the old Spain somewhat. The new Spain was, to be frank, boring—just another wealthy, democratic, European country. The old Spain had been exciting precisely because it was different, not a member of the European club, and unpredictable. Post-Franco, the old Spain could have gone in any one of several directions, which is precisely why so many of us outsiders were interested in it. We didn’t want to see fascism or communism in Spain, let alone a full breakdown or even, as some expected, a renewal of Spain’s 1930s civil war. On the other hand, as an outsider, it’s always interesting to go to a place where there was excitement in the air. Spain in 2006 still had excitement, but it was a different kind of excitement, the excitement of accomplishment and success, but no longer of pending catastrophe. And, therefore, it was less exciting to outside observers. Hence, my visits to Spain had become fewer and further between.

All of this new stability, modernity, and sense of self-confidence were on display that morning at Barajas. Even at that early hour (for Spaniards!), the airport was full and very busy. People were hurrying to their gates—no mañana attitude here. The shops were full of expensive goods and people—almost all Spaniards—were buying. For all the money and high fashion on display, it could have been London, Paris, or Milan. There was no sense of panic, of crisis, or of impending upheaval. No historic Spanish inferiority complexes. On the contrary, Spain was, as I had experienced on other recent visits, peaceful, democratic, progressive, self-confident, fully integrated into the EU.

I bought all the Spanish newspapers and news magazines. El País was on the left politically and supportive of the Spanish Socialist Party; ABC was on the far right, a monarchist newspaper. But both papers had moderated their positions and their tones over the years; hateful speech, vituperative arguments, and extremist positions that might produce violence or civil strife were out. By this time—hard to believe in once highly politicized Spain—sports received more attention than did politics. The main topics in the papers that day were soccer, events elsewhere in Europe, and, as in the U.S., celebrities. People were either bored or disgusted with politics, the posturing of politicians and their parties, and the machinations of the parliament. Spain had become de-politicized! That tendency had also been growing over my last few visits. But if Spaniards were no longer interested in politics, why should I be any more interested than they?

The big news in Spain that week was international rather than domestic. The major news items were:

• The world cup of 2006—far more important to Spaniards than domestic politics.

• Uncertainty over further EU enlargement, reforming the EU constitution, the Euro-zone economy, a cloudy future.

• Slow job creation, stagnant economies, fewer opportunities for young people.

• Strong anti-Americanism. President George W. Bush was widely disliked; the Iraq War was going badly; Abu Gharib, Guantanamo, and revelations of torture and rendition were in the headlines every day. The pictures of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan are much more graphic than those in the U.S. press.

• Post-Cold War, the U.S., and Europe were drifting farther apart, not just on Iraq but on religion, culture, politics, and the welfare state. These cultural and social differences were deep-seated and far more important than any short-term differences over policy.

The Europe of 2006 was fundamentally different from the Europe I’d been traveling to for the past thirty-four years. It took me a while to identify it precisely but, once I did, the picture was very clear. Europe in the main no longer admired America. No longer looked up to it as it had in the past. No longer saw it as a beacon on a hill. Part of this was George Bush, Iraq, and torture, but it was more than that. Europe now felt superior to the U.S. It believed America was primitive, uncivilized, and governed by a Texas-cowboy (Bush) culture. European ways were now seen as superior; negotiations were much preferred over U.S.-style confrontation; multilateralism over the U.S.’s unilateralism. In so many ways the Europeans viewed their society as more elevated than the U.S. These attitudes of European superiority and American primitiveness would on this trip follow me all around Europe.

Over the course of my now thirty-five years of visiting Spain regularly, I had been most impressed with Spanish women. Not in some voyeur sense but in the sense of how quick, sharp, efficient, and bright

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