On Nov 30th, British Defense Minister Michael Fallon committed the UK to a leading role in the freshly designed Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).
This force, composed of: the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Norway, will be a 10,000 strong unit designed to cooperate with NATO, EU, and UN operations.
JEF will be able to respond to a variety of missions including deterrence, interstate conflict, and humanitarian crises.
There has also been some speculation of Sweden participating in JEF, as the Swedish government continues its increasingly robust affiliation with the Atlantic Security system.
When looking at the list of countries taking part in this UK lead endeavor, one notices two things:
- All of the current contributors are NATO members, and potential contributor Sweden is greatly affiliated with NATO.
- This is a UK lead venture. While France and Britain have a similar integrated reaction force, the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF), the most prominent member of NATO, the US is missing from these recent arrangements.
The establishment of these reaction forces, in addition to the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), potentially indicate a shift in European defense responsibilities in response to increased Russian adventurism, and the American “Pivot to Asia”.
Thus, Britain attempting to shift the weight onto its own shoulders is in keeping with historical precedents from 1950-1955.
In Anthony Eden’s account of the period in “Full Circle”, American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles threatened an “agonizing reappraisal” of American security policy should West Germany not be integrated into the European security infrastructure.
This was followed by the personal commitment of Prime Minister Eden to finding a diplomatic solution, and the commitment of four British divisions under international direction.
The addition of the West Germans into the Atlantic Alliance, due to the hard work by Her Majesty’s Government, convinced the Eisenhower administration that Europe was worth investing resources to balance against the Soviets.
Likewise, in the establishment of these various European reaction forces, Britain is taking the lead in directing European Security policy.
Cover Photo Credit: Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum/Flickr (CC By 2.0)
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About the Author"John Massey has a B.A. in political science and history from the University of Alabama. His primary interest is in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but he also finds time to study French and political theory. "
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I met my best friend when I was fourteen.
Of course, she wasn’t my first best friend.
She’s not even my only one now.
Since I was little, I’ve surrounded myself with girls that push me in every possible way.
However, it wasn’t until recently that I really started to appreciate those relationships.
The lack of strong female relationships in pop culture is sort of like your heartbeat.
You spend years not noticing it.
But when you do, you can’t stop noticing it.
Even as I started to write this piece, I was shocked by how many of my favorite female characters don’t have a single strong relationship with another girl – at least not one the audience gets to see.
The moment I started to notice my heartbeat, I was still really young.
When I was 8, my favorite TV show was Wizards of Waverly Place.
For any of you who’ve ever watched it, you know that the relationship between Harper and Alex is incredibly strong and incredibly complex.
That was a friendship that changed my life.
I could see me and my friends, finally represented on screen, and it felt amazing.
Not only that, but I wanted to work to improve the friendships I had with other girls.
Nowadays, I hardly ever consume any pop culture that doesn’t have a strong female relationship at its forefront.
The best part is, they’re all different.
My favorite show is New Girl, where the relationship between Jess and Cece is both one of the show’s most subtle, while also being its very bedrock.
My favorite artist is Taylor Swift, someone who became widely known for the strong female relationships she developed.
Teen Wolf is unabashedly one of my favorite shows on TV, and its highlight of female friendships changed the way I think about them.
This is a show that finds a way to put female relationships at its forefront, despite being centered around males.
The friendships between Allison, Lydia, Malia, and Kira, in all their different combinations, display an incredibly wide variety of relationships.
Some of them have dated the same boy, some of them have tried to kill each other, and some of them have every petty reason to hate each other, but they don’t.
This show has decided that its female friendships are more important than any love triangle, even though those do exist.
The show doesn’t pretend those obstacles don’t exist, they just demonstrate that the relationships formed among girls are way stronger than anything they could face.
They have found a way to put complex, varied, and oftentimes confusing female relationships on display, something I see in very few corners of the pop culture world.
I’m not the only one who’s felt the effects of seeing strong female relationships on TV.
I asked a few of my own strong female friends to talk to me about when they’ve seen their life changed by viewing those types of friendships in pop culture, and here’s what they said:
“Ann and Leslie [of Parks and Recreation] taught me that women should strive to build each other up, and that nothing is stronger than a female friendship built on pure love, loyalty, and trust. Female friendships don’t have to be filled with drama, and the best ones consider a five hour phone call about anything and everything equally as important as huge celebrations and milestones.” – Maggie
“Cristina Yang and Meredith Gray from Gray’s Anatomy depict what not only is a wonderful friendship, but a support system for one another. The fictional characters from the show have inspired me to not only be in my friends’ lives during the good times but to be there for support during the hard times.” – Sreelekha
More and more female friendships being represented is crucial, but the way they’re portrayed is also really important.
And while we like to think all female relationships in pop culture are great examples of representation, some miss the mark.
Here’s the biggest issue with the way pop culture sometimes displays female relationships – they exist only in a two-dimensional world.
An example of this comes from an often-raved about female friendship that just premiered this winter – Betty and Veronica on The CW’s Riverdale.
Now, I watch and love Riverdale, and I think there’s a lot of potential for the relationships to develop in new and interesting ways, but the way Betty and Veronica’s relationship exists now is very two-dimensional.
Disregarding the discussion of queerbaiting, and any sexual tension fans have picked up on, Betty and Veronica have the quintessential Strong Female Relationship.
Sure, they’ve both had feelings for the same guy, but that doesn’t matter!
They’re Strong Female Friends, and all they do is lift each other up.
The reason this comes across as a little unrealistic is because it is.
Look, I love my best friend with my everything I have.
I really would die for her, but sometimes I want to be the one doing the killing.
We’ve fought – a lot – and we have fought about boys!
The reason I consider our friendship one of the strongest in my life isn’t the fact that we’ve had jealous, petty moments – it’s the fact that we were able to move on.
Female relationships are just like any other relationship in life – they’re complicated.
The right way to portray a strong female relationship isn’t by following the rule book about what you think that should be.
It’s about embracing the different ways girls interact, the different ways they form bonds, and the different types of relationships that rise from those bonds.
One show that’s done this perfectly is HBO’s Big Little Lies.
Much of the miniseries is based on petty fighting between these women, but the end result (no spoilers here) is all the more satisfying because of that.
The show portrays female relationships exactly as they are – complex, frustrating, petty, and most of all, different.
All five of the main characters have extraordinarily different personalities, and the show doesn’t pretend those don’t exist.
In fact, every episode up until the finale points in a certain direction that is the destruction of those bonds.
However, the final episode clearly puts on display the way relationships between women are stronger than anything else in this life, even if their personalities don’t exactly mesh.
Despite all of this, all strong female friendships are good, just like all strong female characters are good.
The reality is, when a girl sees two other girls being friends, whether on TV, in a movie, in a book, or in real life, she’s inspired to develop those same sorts of ties with her friends.
And the effects of that are really, really good – like, scientifically proven good.
A UCLA study from 2002 suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women.
Hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis.
Relationships among women aren’t only good for the women themselves, they’re a necessary foundation to our entire society.
When women build each other up, instead of tear each other down, everyone wins.
And as women work to unlearn the decades of media that taught them girls should always fight over boys, the representation of female friendships in pop culture will be more important than ever.
My list of strong female relationships in pop culture to check out, not already mentioned:
Rachel, Phoebe, and Monica: FRIENDS
Blair and Serena: Gossip Girl
Cher & friends: Clueless
Hailee Steinfeld’s music
The Clone Club: Orphan Black
Ginny and Luna: Harry Potter series
Sansa Stark and Margaery Tyrell: Game of Thrones
Selena Gomez’s “Me & My Girls”
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
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NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar — When Myanmar’s parliament is in session, lower-house MP Sai Win Khaing lives in a cramped room in the capital, Naypyidaw. In Burmese, Naypyidaw means “the abode of kings.” But there is nothing regal about this abode. Two small bed frames, one ceiling fan, an air-conditioning unit and one bathroom. A laptop sits on… Read MorePost Views: 418
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By Nick Moncy
Secluded within the groves surrounding West Dixie Highway lies a Florida Heritage site you may not have heard of – the Ancient Spanish Monastery.
A North Miami Beach relic, it boasts historic structures containing Romanesque and pre-Gothic architecture. Stretching from as far back as the 12th century, conserved artifacts take visitors into the life of medieval monks in northern Spain.
It is now considered by many historians to be the oldest building in the whole of the Western Hemisphere.
But how this wonder ended up in Miami is a long story
Here’s the condensed version:
From 1133 to 1141 AD, the monastery and cloisters were constructed in Sacramenia, a city in the province of Segovia, Spain. Originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it was renamed to recognize its renowned abbot Bernard of Clairvaux after his canonization.
The Cloisters housed Cisterian monks for seven centuries following, after which a social shift in the 1830s had the buildings converted into a simple granary and stable.
In 1925, famous publisher William Randolph Hearst acquired the Cloisters and the Refectory (the original Monastery section still stands overseas). Both were disassembled, numbered by part, packed into about 11,000 wooden boxes and shipped to the United States. After they lay in a warehouse in Brooklyn, New York for almost a decade, most parts were sold at an auction after the Great Depression ruined Hearst financially; the remainders were sent back to storage.
In 1952, Ohio businessmen William Edgemon and Raymond Moss bought the remainder of the stones looking to create a tourist hotspot in Miami.
It proved to be a challenge because the workmen involved in the grand move thirty years ago did not replace the stones in their original numbered boxes. Reconstructing the Cloisters took 19 months and almost $1.5 million (surpassing $13 million in today’s currency). TIME magazine called the effort “the biggest jigsaw puzzle in history”.
After financial struggles in 1964, the Cloisters were once again up for sale. Wealthy banker and Episcopal donor Col. Robert Pentland, Jr. swept in and purchased them for the Episcopal Bishop of Florida. The monastery now houses the Episcopal Church of St. Bernard de Clairveux.
Largely in thanks to Edgemon and Moss’ contribution, this story physically unravels across the space in several parts.
At the front of the property is a moderately-sized lobby area full of ancient artifacts. Though they are protected by glass cases and velvet rope, one can whiff a hint of rust. There are corbels used to support the weight of wall fixtures, a hearse that carried dead bodies, even a hymnarium propped on a refectory table that monks read from while gathered for meals. There are cabinets covered with fresco paintings by a student of Raphael’s done alla prima, a rapid style that required oil paintings to be completely finished before the first layer of paint dried. At the back of the room there is even a full suit of armor from the 1600s.
Double doors open to an outdoor path toward the monastery, an escape from the onslaught of outdated vocabulary. An iron gate introduces the spacious, elegantly-pruned garden, a nursery before the Monastery’s arrival. It resembles a maze: narrow, crunchy gravel paths lead visitors all over.
The Ram’s Head Pillar, Baptismal Font and donated statues of Jesus and Mary stand scattered throughout the garden. One shaded path at the back right goes to the refectory section of the Monastery, which holds the chapel in which North Miami Beach Anglicans congregate.
Getting back on the central path leads to the Cloisters’ foreboding wooden doors. Above them is a detailed relief of Mary’s crowning by angels; lions representing Leon and Castille are visible in the scene. A metal bell up above once clanged boisterously to summon monks for meals long ago, but these days there is only tranquil silence.
The atmosphere inside the Cloisters is still, accompanied only by echoed footsteps and occasional chanting. Its main area is composed of hallways and chambers bordering a roofless, central courtyard. The contrast between the illuminated patio and the dark columned hallways is an aesthetic phenomenon that illustrates the Cloisters’ harmony with Miami tropics. In the halls on opposite corners are life-size statues of both Alfonso VII, king of Leon and Castille during the Monastery’s construction, and his grandson Alfonso VIII. In all, this is certainly hallowed ground.
Though the Monastery is a masterpiece from the past, its history continues to grow today. The twenty-acre attraction alone contains about one thousand unique plant and tree species. Fifty-thousand people visit annually, with sixty-five percent of that crowd being tourists. It also draws in members of the northern Miami community: last year, nine hundred public, private and homeschooled students received educational programming that met Florida’s curricular standards. The Ancient Spanish Monastery Foundation non-profit recognizes local leaders and outstanding figures each year at its Legacy Gala and pours all its proceeds back toward the preservation efforts for the site.
If you stop by for a tour, one figure you’re sure to meet is Tania Witten. An employee at the Monastery since 1999, she organizes bridal events. “It gets crazy here sometimes,” Witten said in an interview. “This place is used for weddings, quinceñeras, and even yoga four times a week.” She also noted the intriguing fact that despite its prominence, the Monastery and Cloisters are hidden gems to most North Miami Beach natives. “No one knows about us, really, even people who’ve lived here for fifty years. They’d say, ‘I never knew this was here.’”
Photo Credits: Nick Moncy/ RISE NEWS.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for usPost Views: 1,686
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