Tag Archives: European Union

Russia Moves On Crimea

 

russia-moves-on-crimea
Cartoonist John Knott highlights the tension between Russia and Ukraine on territorial disputes over Crimea.

In Dave Granlund’s political cartoon, Russia Moves on Crimea, Crimea is shown to be in a dire situation following the Ukraine Crisis in 2013 which provided Russia advantages in claiming Crimea by making it appear as if Russia was able to assist Crimea in the middle of the crisis by annexing it. Russia is depicted as a bear, symbolizing the stereotype of Russia being “fierce and angry” and related to “frost” and “despotism” (Khrustalyov). In addition, Crimea is portrayed as a fish, the water as the Ukraine, and the dangerous features of the wave as the crisis. The political cartoon revolves around a political “tug-of-war” between Russia and Ukraine over who should rightfully have Crimea as a part of their nation (Ellicott). Although not a communist establishment anymore ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia still sought to expand, not ideologically as it did with communism, but territorially to grow as a larger superpower, which explains the reason why Russia sought to claim the Crimean Peninsula , an area that once belonged to it (Ellicott). At the time the cartoon was published on Granlund’s website, March 3rd, 2014, Crimea belonged to the Ukraine, yet Crimea was already leaning towards Russia since it seemed as if they could save the country from the crisis, hence the bear saying, “I’m saving you from drowning!” Furthermore, the grayish color tone of the cartoon highlights the seriousness of how the “tug-of-war” over Crimea was.

The Ukraine Crisis occurred as a result of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of an association agreement with the European Union (EU) in November 2013 (Ellicott). Yanukovych was pro-Russian and the decision was made as a response to Russian threats to disrupt trade in order to keep Ukraine-Russian trade stable since Russians didn’t want the Ukraine to align more with Europe (Ellicott). However, it led to pro-EU protests in the Ukraine, which further led to pro-Russian influences triggering more “violent demonstrations” in the country (Ellicott). After failing to disperse these events, the Ukraine parliament sided with the protesters and voted Yanukovych out of office, after “four months of civil unrest and political deadlock between demonstrators and Yanukovych’s government” (Jalabi). Prior to this event, Ukraine-Russian relations were fairly calm since the two countries were trade partners and shared the similarity of once being a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Ellicott). However, as a result of Yanukovych being ousted for avoiding EU relations and trying to create closer ties with Russia, Russia reacted with “immediate hostility to the new pro-Western leadership” in the Ukraine, causing more tensions between the two countries. In addition, pro-Russian troops stormed into Crimea, influencing the peninsula into wanting to be a part of Russia as it was once Russian’s territory and already carried several pro-Russian citizens (Ellicott). It can be seen in Granlund’s cartoon that Crimea relied on Russia to rescue the country as the fish fearfully looks back at the wave representing the Ukraine Crisis and had no choice but to let the bear save it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that people of Crimea wanted to join Russia as a result of their repression by the government that “took power when Ukraine’s unpopular President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev”, the capital of Ukraine, in February of 2014 (US Official News). His claim proved to be true as Crimea held a referendum on March 16, 2014 that had 95 percent of voters favoring to secede from Ukraine and to be annexed by Russia with an 80 percent voter turnout (Schofield).

As a result, on March 18, 2014, Russia officially signed a treaty with Crimea to have it be annexed as a part of Russian territory once again (Ellicott). Granlund’s political cartoon displays this annexation as the bear saving the fish from drowning in the water, parallel to Russia saving Crimea from Ukraine.  However, the bear’s sharp teeth symbolized the force that Russia pressed on Crimea before the annexation. Russia approved military intervention and seized several areas in Crimea by force to counteract Ukraine’s military stationed in Crimea (Jalabi).

The political cartoon Russia Moves On Crimea by Granlund parallels with John Knott’s political cartoon, On Fertile Soil, over the vulnerability of China to Russian influence in the country in 1931. Both cartoons depict the idea of Russian expansion, even though Granlund’s cartoon primarily focused on territorial issues rather than ideological ones like in Knott’s cartoon over communism. The Russian government in Granlund’s cartoon differs from the government in Knott’s cartoon as time progressed and Soviet Union had fallen on December 26, 1991 as a result of communist leaders being incompetent and several countries overthrowing the communist government in their territories (Stock). After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation became its “successor state” in 1991 and pushed towards “democratic and economic reforms” and became more of a democratic government in 2014 as Russian officials were eventually chosen by elections (Ellicott). Even though not a communist country anymore as it was in 1931, Russia in 2014 sought to expand its territories by claiming areas such as Crimea to further build the power of its nation.

Further similarities of Knott and Granlund’s cartoons include how both foreshadowed events that were controversial at the time their cartoons were published. Knott’s cartoon predicted that communism will take over China as a result of Russian influence and the country’s unrest which proved to be true as the People’s Republic of China established a communist government influenced by the Soviet Union in 1949 (Hyer). Furthermore, at the time of Granlund’s cartoon, the debate over the annexation of Crimea by Russia was already leaning towards annexation as a result of the unrest that occurred in Ukraine in 2013 that affect Crimea’s stance in the middle of the “tug-of-war” (Ellicott). Grandlund’s political cartoon that displayed hints of Crimea wanting to join Russia was created before Crimea’s referendum and Russia’s annexation, foreshadowing these events that happened only a few days after the publication of this cartoon.

Russia Moves On Crimea by Dave Granlund summarizes the Crimean annexation that resulted from Russia seeking expansion in territorial powers while On Fertile Soil by John Knott displayed expansion of communist ideology as Soviet influence was depicted in China. After discovering the communist system was a failure after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia adopted a more democratic government and went under many reforms for the economy, constitution, banking, labor, and private property (Ellicott). To further increase their growth as a nation, Russia decided to claim back the land that was once theirs; the Crimean Peninsula, which played a large role in providing Russia access to the Black Sea (Ellicott). After incorporating a more stable type of government, Russia now primarily focuses on developing as a more powerful federation through territorial expansion rather than revolving its nation around a single ideology and expanding it.

“China.” Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2013, edited by Karen Ellicott, vol. 1, Gale, 2012, pp. 489-521. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

“Emperors, 1800–1912.” Encyclopedia of Modern China, edited by David Pong, vol. 1, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2009, pp. 505-509. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Granlund, Dave. “Russia Moves On Crimea.” Cartoon. DaveGrandlund.com. DaveGrandlund.com, 3 Mar. 2014. Web. 

Hyer, Eric. “China–Russia Relations.” Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, edited by Karen Christensen and David Levinson, vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, pp. 15-21. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Jalabi, Raya. “Crimea’s Referendum to Leave Ukraine: How Did We Get Here?” The Guardian. The Guardian, 13 Mar. 2013. Web.

Khrustalyov, Rossomahin. “Russia Medvedev: Origins Imaging (XVI-XVIII Centuries).” Center for Ethnic and National Research ISU. Ivanovo State University, n.d. Web. 

“One Year After the Annexation, a Darkness Falls Over Crimea.” US Official News. Plus Media Solutions, 19 Mar. 2015. Web.

Schofield, Matthew. “Crimea Votes for Secession.” The Tampa Tribune. The Tribune Co., 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 

It’s All Greek to Me

A confused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras holding a book entitled, “Basic Economics".
A confused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras holding a book entitled, “Basic Economics”.

It’s All Greek to Me

Michael Ramirez ~ July 8, 2015

Since the global recession of 2008, Greece’s economy has been struggling. While Europe suffered from a debt crisis following Wall Street’s crash, Greece was hit the hardest by the recession. In October 2009, Greece revealed the severity of deficit  (of about 317 billion Euros) admitting that it had been understated for years. Many countries in the European Union(EU) began to worry about the country’s economic status. Because the European Union shares economic responsibility of all states between every member state due to a shared currency, the state of Greece’s economy has a large effect on other countries in the EU. The EU decided to take preventative measures by refusing Greece’s requests to borrow money; however, without the ability to borrow, Greece spiraled into bankruptcy, so the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and European Commission issued two bailouts for Greece that totaled about 240 billion Euros. Although, these bailouts did not come without strings attached. Greece was required to revamp its economy, instituting harsh austerity measures, deep budget cuts, and large tax increases. The lenders also wanted Greece “to overhaul its economy by streamlining the government, ending tax evasion and making Greece an easier place to do business” (New York Times). This crisis illustrates the importance of proper financial reporting and decision making in a nation.

While the two bailouts were supposed to help stabilize Greece’s economy, most of the money has gone to paying Greece’s outstanding loans.  in July of 2015, Greece’s economy was in a dire situation and its relationship with the European Union was in a fragile state. Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been unable and unwilling to make many reforms that were necessary for a successful economic reform. They have made no reforms, and many people, including Tsipras, believe Greeks are too proud to change. Even though the EU has imposed austerity measures onto Greece in exchange for the bailout money, Tsipras said, “We don’t believe in the measures that were imposed upon us” (Petroff). Tsipras has refused to make any internal reforms other than those imposed upon the country by their lenders. This has led to disagreement on lending from the EU countries, such as Germany.

Now after receiving a third round of bailout money from the EU, Greece’s creditors are angry that no significant economic or governmental reform has been made in Greece because Greece’s economy affects their creditors. Now many members of the EU want Greece to leave the union as Greece does not contribute enough financially, yet needs constant support (New York Times). While many believe that Greece’s economic situation is straining the EU’s economy, others believe that Greece should be supported during their economic hardship until they can recover and once again contribute to the EU’s economy.

This political dilemma is the focus of Michael Ramirez’s political cartoon in Investor’s Business Daily on July 7, 2015, we see Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras holding a book titled, “Basic Economics,” and saying, “it’s all Greek to me.” Ramirez employs a classic cliche relating to Greece, “It’s all Greek to me,” which colloquially means that something is impossible to understand like Greek letters. The usage of this phrase is comical due to the fact that Tsipras is Greek, so not only should he be able to understand his own language, but as the Prime Minister of a country that founded Western Civilization, he should be able to understand basic economics. Ramirez’s cartoon claims many of the economic issues in Greece are due to Tsipras’s inability as a Prime Minister to enact change effectively, and his exaggerated drawing of Tsipras’s illustrates him as baffoonish and caveman-esque with his large brow ridge and jowls.  Since Tsipras is pointing at an economics book and saying that it is impossible to understand, Ramirez is highlighting Tsipras’s ineptitude as a Prime Minister. He has been unable to employ successful economic and political reform following the bailouts, and he could not convince his fellow politicians to accept the bailout.

In Knott’s comic, There Ain’t No Such Animal, he focuses on Germany’s reparations and their affect on other nations, just as Ramirez focuses on Greece’s economic woes and the effect of this on the EU. Both comics employ an exaggerated caricature holding signs to illustrate their political meaning. Both cartoons focus on the economic strife of a country, and other countries reaction to said economic trouble. In Knott’s comic, he illustrates the world ignoring the struggle of Germany due to their compliance with stringent reparations, while Ramirez illustrates Greece’s ineptitude and the EU’s disapproval of Greece’s economic policies. While both cartoons deal with complex economic situations and the world’s reaction to those economic policies, they differ in the reactions.

Greece’s Economic crisis has had a huge effect on the global economy, and the crisis has shown the importance of economic reform and proper usage of bailout funds. Due to this crisis and inability to control the Syriza part, Tsipras resigned his post as Prime Minister of Greece on August 20 (The Economist). If Greece had been able to control their financial reports and made better financial decisions in the years leading up to the 2008 recession, this situation could have been avoided, but due to poor financial planning and an ability to cooperate with creditors Greece has earned a reputation within the EU as uncontrollable and risky, and its exit from the Union and return to the Drachma could be soon to follow if things do not change in Greece.

Works Cited

Alderman, Liz, et al. “Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained.” New York Times [New York City] 9 Nov. 2015: n. pag. nytimes.com. Web. 17 Nov. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/business/international/greece-debt-crisis-euro.html?_r=0>.

Data Team. “Another Greek Vote: Tsipras Resigns.” The Economist 20 Aug. 2015: n. pag. The Economist. Web. 17 Nov. 2015. <http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/08/another-greek-vote>.

Hatzigeorgiou, Andreas. “The Greek Economic Crisis – Is The Euro To Blame?.” World Economics 15.3 (2014): 143-162. Business Source Complete. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

Knight, Daniel M. “The Greek Economic Crisis As Trope.” Focaal 2013.65 (2013): 147-159. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

Petroff, Alanna. “Tsipras: I Don’t Believe in New Greek Reforms.” CNN Money.  N.p., 14 July 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/14/   news/economy/greece-crisis-tsipras-parliament-vote/index.html>.

Ramirez, Michael. “It’s All Greek to Me.” Cartoon. Investor’s Business Daily: n. pag. Investor’s Business Daily. Web. 17 Nov. 2015. <http://www.investors.com/default.htm>.

Watch Out for Greek Debt!

The cartoon Watch Out for Greek Debt! depicts the famous Greek statue Discobolus by Myron with “Greece” written on it, ready to throw a discus symbolizing debt at other, cowering European countries.
The cartoon Watch Out for Greek Debt! depicts the famous Greek statue Discobolus by Myron with “Greece” written on it, ready to throw a discus symbolizing debt at other, cowering European countries.

The political cartoon Watch Out for Greek Debt! depicts the famous Greek statue Discobolus, with the word “Greece” written on it, ready to throw a discus, which symbolizes debt, at other cowering European countries (Sooke). The statue is posed as if it is about to hurl the discus, and all of the statues around it are ducking to avoid getting hit. This cartoon symbolizes how the other countries are avoiding getting “hit” by the negative consequences of Greek debt and having all of their political-economic progress regress (“Watch out for Greek Debt!”). The cartoon emphasizes the potentially devastating effects of Greek debt for other European countries in the Eurozone.

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political partnership between twenty-eight European countries that was created in the aftermath of World War II. The intent behind the creation of the EU is that countries that trade with each other become economically interdependent and therefore more likely to avoid conflict. The establishment of the EU brought about the creation of the euro, the single currency used across the twenty-eight countries (“The EU in brief”). Greece is one of the many members of the EU, along with Ireland, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Portugal, to name a few (“Countries in the EU and EEA”). Greece in particular, however, is singled out in this cartoon as the most vulnerable as well as the most threatening member of the bunch.

Greece is in the midst of a debt crisis that could potentially crumble the economies of its European neighbors. After Wall Street crashed in 2008, Greece became the center of Europe’s debt crisis. Greece admitted that it had been understating its deficit figures for years and suddenly found itself shut out from borrowing in financial markets, leading the country toward bankruptcy. This sudden decline put Europe on the verge of a new financial crisis. To avoid collapse, the financial troika – the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission – issued the first of two international bailouts for Greece, which would eventually total more than $264 billion in today’s exchange rates. “Greece’s relations with Europe are in a fragile state, and several of its leaders are showing impatience” (“Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained”).

The other countries depicted in the cartoon are not chosen at random either. Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain – collectively called “The PIGS”– are known for having “binged on cheap debt” and “allowed citizens’ benefits to go well beyond the means of their governments.” In 2010, the PIGS were going bankrupt at a fast rate and threatened the continued existence of the euro and the entire European project. However, since then, all of the PIGS except for Greece are returning to economic health (Dawber). Now Greece is putting them at risk of relapsing into economic instability, threatening the euro in the process. This is symbolized in the cartoon as “Greece” throwing a discus of “debt” at its neighboring European countries.

There is coincidental irony in the name of the statue, Discobolus, and the subject matter involved. The suffix “obolus” means “a silver coin or unit of weight equal to one sixth of a drachma, formerly used in ancient Greece” (“obolus”). It is ironic that a discus that symbolizes a Greek drachma has “debt” written on it, as if foreshadowing that Greece being a part of the EU and using the euro as its currency has a formidable future of debt crisis.

The issues illustrated in Watch Out for Greek Debt! have a lot of similarity to the issues depicted in the political cartoon If They Would Exchange Presents by John Knott (Knott 2). Published on Christmas Eve 1931, Knott’s cartoon shows Uncle Sam of the United States offering a Christmas gift of war debt revisions to a queen representing Europe; and in the generous spirit of the season, she is offering the gift of disarmament in exchange.

In the twenty-first century, Greece is in debt to other countries much like Germany was in the aftermath of World War I. In the 1930s, the United States wanted Germany and the rest of Europe to disarm so that the funds going toward armament could instead go toward debt repayment; thus, in If They Would Exchange Presents, Europe’s gift to the U.S. was disarmament. In Knott’s cartoon, Germany, along with the rest of the indebted European nations, was asking for war debt revisions so that their debt load wasn’t so crippling. Germany was blamed for the damages and costs of World War I and was required to pay back the costs to the Allied nations. Repayment obligations were so onerous that they needed a moratorium and debt revisions to ever back on their feet. Similarly, in Watch Out for Greek Debt!, Greece is held responsible for threatening Europe’s economy, and needs bailouts for its crippling debt like Germany was asking for war debt revisions. “The bailout money mainly goes toward paying off Greece’s international loans, rather than making its way into the economy. And the government still has a staggering debt load that it cannot begin to pay down unless a recovery takes hold” (“Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained”).

The humor of comparing these two cartoons, and particularly comparing twenty-first century Germany and Greece, is that Germany is now the poster-child for Greece to model itself after. “Germany has fewer outstanding tax debts than any other country in Europe, while Greece has more than any other. That difference not only helps Germany enjoy a far more fiscally sound position than Greece, but it offers a stark contrast between a disciplined government and one that historically has been hardly disciplined” (O’Brien). It is ironic that Germany, which once was economically unstable and deeply indebted to other countries, is now an example of European economic health, the example to which Greece aspires.

Lastly, in Watch Out for Greek Debt!, Greece has the potential of putting contemporary Europe in as much debt and economic instability as in the 1930s because of the region’s shared economic interdependence on the euro. The Knott cartoon shows Europe of that era requesting war debt revisions because it is in an economic rut. Contemporary Europe could potentially descend into similar economic turmoil because if Greece were to collapse, then the euro could collapse with them, causing a domino effect.

Works Cited

“Countries in the EU and EEA.” GOV.UK. Gov.UK, 24 July 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

Dawber, Alistair. “While Greece Flails, Are the Rest of the Stricken Pigs Taking Off?” Independent. Independent, 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

“The EU in Brief.” Europa. European Commission, 15 Oct. 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

“Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained.” The New York Times. New York Times, 31 Oct. 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Knott, John. “If They Would Exchange Presents.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News [Dallas, Texas] 24 Dec. 1931, sec. 2: 10. Print.

“Obolus.” American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. N.p.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. The Free Dictionary. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

O’Brien, Matt. “7 Key Things to Know about Greece’s Debt Crisis and What Happens Next.” The Washington Post. N.p., 5 July 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Sooke, Alastair. “The Discobolus: Greeks, Nazis and the Body Beautiful.” BBC. BBC, 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

“Watch out for Greek Debt!” Cartoon. Enikos. N.p., 16 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.