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Hello and welcome to the intelligence on Economist Radio. I'm your host, Jason Palmer. Every weekday, we provide a fresh perspective on the events shaping your world. For half his life, Milo Djukanovic has been directly or indirectly in charge of Montenegro, but recently protests have spread and long simmering issues of national identity have been raised to the boil. Sunday's election will be tricky for him. And Julian Bream was passionate about the classical guitar when no one else in the music establishment was.
We look back on the life of the man who restored the guitar's reputation and dispelled the notion it wasn't an instrument for an Englishman. First up, though. This week, the city of Kenosha in Wisconsin has been plunged into turmoil on Sunday. A police officer named Rustin Chesky shot Jacob Blake, a 29 year old black man, seven times in the back as he got into his car. Mr. Blake's father said his son had been left paralyzed from the waist down.
He saw my son. Seven times. Lucky didn't matter, but my son matters. After a video of the shooting went viral, protests began to build on the streets of Kenosha. What started as peaceful marching soon escalated to looting and arson. Late on Tuesday, Black Lives Matter demonstrators clashed with self-styled vigilante militias armed to the teeth and claiming to be protecting local businesses.
A gunman opened fire, killing two people and wounding another four, police later arrested 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse and charged him with murder. The unrest has become a political flashpoint just two months ahead of the presidential election.
And in one of America's most important swing states in at least two parts of the city, it looks like it could have been a war zone. Adam Roberts is our Midwest correspondent. He visited Kenosha this week.
You had smoke still rising from burnt out buildings. You had piles of rubble. There were some volunteers trying to prepare for further rounds of rioting and protests. They were out chopping up pieces of plywood to cover windows of buildings. They were painting signs onto those frames to say there are people living in these buildings. There are kids upstairs, don't burn this house down. And some of the people I spoke to really were genuinely distraught about the the chaos, the damage to their city and the impact it was having on their friends and neighbors, because everybody here is part of my community, my family, and it really hurts to see it destroyed.
And how much do we know right now about the shooting of Jacob Blake? Well, Jacob Blake was shot by a policeman as he was trying to get into his own car where his children were sitting back on Sunday, the 21st of August. He was in the process of being arrested and he walked away from the policeman when he was shot at very close range after that shooting. Then the protests erupted and we've had days of protests and some violence in Kenosha and elsewhere.
And did you get a sense from people in Kenosha that they were part of what is a seemingly continuing American story of this sort?
Yes, I think the commotions I spoke to were very conscious of what else has been going on in America this summer. There were many people who referred to George Floyds to the looting and the riots that have taken place in Chicago in recent months. I think that ordinary people on the street in Kenosha were both conscious of the bigger picture, but very aware of local injustice, local difficulties with the police. I met one man who had taken part in the demonstrations with his adult son, and he told me that he expected the protests to continue because of the violence and that he saw America as a whole locked into a dangerous spiral of confrontation, not just between police and individuals, but between different groups.
Everybody feel a certain type of animosity and a heart now, no stop that will start.
On the other hand, I met a businessman who was picking through the wreckage of his car sales lot, and he described how he had responded when the rioters and the protesters came to his business and how he, in effect, chased them away by showing that he had his own weapons. The protesters, he said, then crossed over to the other side of the road and burnt down a different business nowadays, especially in Wisconsin, where a gun friendly state, half of the people here are armed.
So half of the people in the protest are armed are the business owners are armed. It's only a matter of time before something horrific happens. I'm surprised that there hasn't been a mass shooting at one of these protests before.
But there's another disturbing element here in the form of vigilantes who have shown up and are offering, in essence, to to help the police quell these protests.
Yes, it was very disturbing that on Tuesday night you had a group of vigilantes who came in some cases from outside of Wisconsin to Kenosha and appeared to have the support of local police. They came in with their own weapons, in some cases with assault rifles. There were reports that some of the vigilantes took positions as snipers on the roofs of local buildings and presented themselves as being there to protect property businesses that were being attacked for the night before by protesters.
And yet these vigilantes have turned up as if they were members of law enforcement. They were asking it to be deputies. They had organized themselves, it seems, through Facebook, one group that called themselves the Kenosha Guard. And what followed was appalling. There was one young man, a 17 year old, who appears to have shot dead two protesters and seriously injured a third man. Their presence didn't quell the violence. If anything, it seemed to stir up much worse violence than would have otherwise happened.
And how has the White House and the Trump administration reacted to this so far?
So at the Republican convention this week, Mike Pence spoke of the need for more law and order, and he explicitly referred to what was going on in Kenosha.
The violence must stop, whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha. Too many heroes have died defending our freedom to see Americans strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color. In addition, Donald Trump has agreed with the governor of Wisconsin to deploy federal agents, the National Guard, to do more to restore order in the city, and it did appear that on Wednesday night the curfew was more successfully enforced and there was more calm in Kenosha.
So that federal intervention seems to have helped. But it's also clear, I think, that Donald Trump would like to use this issue in his electoral campaign. So we'll see more of these matters talked about and played up by the president who likes to present himself as tough on law and order and the sort of person who will defend the interests of the propertied classes against rabble rousers.
And do you think that will work? I mean, there is no event that won't be politicized in the current climate. But do you believe in a sense that what's going on in Kenosha supports Mr. Trump's casting of a of a need for a law and order president?
Well, I think we shouldn't forget that what started in Kenosha was a policeman shooting an unarmed man. What followed was a white vigilante shooting two other people in the crowd. If there's a problem with law and order, it's not obviously the problem of the protesters. It's the ill trained police. And there's all sorts of other difficulties going on here. I think the anger that's felt about these matters is very widely held. If you look at the response of American athletes, the NBA postponed lots of its playoff games because of player boycotts this week.
Other sports are following. I think there is genuine popular outrage about how these things keep on happening in American cities. And so it'll be rather hard for Donald Trump to make this an easy win as a political issue.
I mean, you've been thinking about these matters quite a bit. Does it surprise you that after the flare up that we saw in the wake of George Fluid's killing, that another incident of police brutality and protests should happen again so soon? It does surprise me.
I was gobsmacked to see the video back on Sunday night of a policeman shooting an unarmed black man in this way. This is a country that is on the edge in many ways. And I fret that there will be more incidents like this and they will be exploited by politicians for their own ends. And so there's many reasons to be gloomy about where urban America is going right now. Thank you very much for joining us, Adam. Thank you, Jason.
In a break with tradition, President Donald Trump has appeared every night of this week's Republican National Convention. This week's episode of Checks and Balance, our sister show on American Politics looks into just how much the president has bent the party to his will find checks and balance from economist radio.
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The breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s was Europe's bloodiest conflict since the Second World War, I have counted 40 bodies today, including one 12 year old girl. As communism failed, Serbia's president Slobodan Milosevic unleashed the forces who sowed terror in Croatia and Bosnia in order to create a greater Serbia war crimes. Investigators and NATO leaders have been alerted to a savagery that will have grave consequences in a country already riven by tragedy. Initially, Mr. Milosevic recounted another Yugoslav republic, Montenegro.
Among its allies, its young new leader, Milo Djukanovic, was considered his protege. Later, Mr. Djukanovic would turn his back on both Mr. Milosevic and the joint state of Serbia and Montenegro in favor of independence. That came in 2006 after a close fought referendum, Montenegro became one of Europe's smallest country. All the while, and to this day, Mr. Djukanovic has been in power either as president, prime minister or the leader of his party. And over time, he's turned towards the west and away from Russia with which Serbia remains closely tied.
Now, elections are coming on Sunday and a growing wave of anti-government feeling is complicating matters.
Milo Djukanovic is Europe's longest serving political leader.
Tim Judah is our Balkans correspondent.
And he came to power with colleagues in 1989 when he was, in effect a junior partner of Slobodan Milosevic, the ruler of Serbia that has no history and it's not based A that got caught.
And since then, as I say, in one form or another, he's been in control of his country.
So is that to say he's been a popular politician over that time? Well, he's certainly been popular amongst a certain section of the electorate, but he's known when to pivot and to change. You know, at one stage, he was popular with people who were believers in Slobodan Milosevic and the idea of a greater Serbia when he saw that the winds had changed, he decided that he should switch to supporting the option for independence, which wasn't a popular option at the beginning of the 90s.
But by 2006, there was a referendum and just over half the voters in a referendum agreed with him.
But really, the narrative of Montenegrin politics ever since 1918, when it became a part of the first Yugoslavia, has been this question of a union with Serbia or close relations with Serbia or independence. And that keeps coming back in different forms. And it's come back again now. And in this election, the prime minister, Joschka Markovitch, said, when you go to vote on Sunday, independence is at stake. So this question is one that never goes away.
But why is it that it's come back so strongly now?
Well, Mr. Djukanovic and his party did something which is quite strange. No one really seems to know why they did this. Mr. Djukanovic and his party pushed through a law on freedom of religion, of which the vast majority is completely and utterly uncontroversial.
But there is one curious clause which says that religious communities must prove their ownership of property that they owned before December 1918. Now, the biggest religious community in the country, which covers 75 percent of the people, is a Serbian Orthodox Church. And the Serbian Orthodox Church think that this is a basically a land grab. And it would be perhaps quite hard for them to prove property deeds to land that they might have owned for a thousand years. The church, incensed, has been leading these demonstrations or processions, they call them.
They've been dominated by priests who are leading them religious services and by people waving Serbian flags, and so are these protests, all this flag waving a real worry for Mr. Djukanovic?
So on the one hand, that has motivated a lot of people who would prefer closer relations with Serbia.
Of course, this might have rattled Mr. Jacobovitz, but on the other hand, he might be a little bit pleased that these protests are led by the Serbian Orthodox Church and dominated by Serbian flags, because 18 percent of the country are not Orthodox Serbs or Montenegrins, their Bosniaks, Croats and Albanians who may not like Mr. Djukanovic and his government.
But if there's one thing they like less than him and the ruling party, it's any whiff of Serbian nationalism, I guess, in part because Serbian nationalism implies a look toward Russia.
I mean, how does that play into Montenegro's diplomacy more generally?
Well, the Montenegrin government has made a definitive choice to follow a Western path. It's been negotiating membership of the EU for some years now. But most importantly, in 2017, it led the country into NATO. And that was something which angered Russia, certainly. And last Election Day in 2016, the government said it had foiled a coup backed by Russia. And the aim of that coup was perhaps to stop Montenegro joining NATO.
So with all of that going on, then how do you think this election will play out?
Well, look into my crystal ball. I think that Mr. Djukanovic and his party will survive, but they'll be a weakened. That's to say that the government will be a coalition, but it'll be a wider coalition that we've had in the last few years. There are two real issues. One is this national identity issue, which is connected to the church and to the protests. And then there's the economy.
A fifth of the Montenegrin economy is derived from tourism. And, of course, that's been extremely badly hit this year.
So for some parts of the electorate, these economic bread and butter issues are the most important thing when they go and vote. But for others, it's these national identity questions. And that's one of the reasons why the opposition are really a divided political body, which will make it perhaps possible for Mr. Djukanovic and his party are to survive for another mandate.
I think one of the important things to remember about Montenegro is that it's pretty unusual when it comes to elections. And what I mean by that is that no government in Montenegro in history has ever changed, thanks to people voting at the ballot box. Thanks very much for joining us to thank you for having me. Julian Bream was the man who, more than anyone introduced Britain and a great deal of America to to the classical guitar and roll is The Economist's obituaries editor.
It was very unusual for an Englishman to play the classical guitar. It was an instrument absolutely associated with Spain. The Spaniards initially took very badly to the notion of an Englishman playing the guitar. In fact, it was described by one musician as a kind of blasphemy. But he had taken it up as a child and he knew that his destiny was to play this instrument. He'd come across guitars very early on at home, his father ran a dance band.
He also listened to Django Reinhardt and just fell in love with the sound of a guitar. By the time he was 10, he was going to concerts and he was watching the great classical guitarist Andres Segovia when he came to London watching him through binoculars just to see exactly what his right hand was doing. By the age of 17, he'd started to give quite a lot of concerts all over the place, and the BBC had heard of him in 1951.
It asked him if he would play the Great Concerto by Rodrigo.
He had never seen this piece before. It turned out that this piece was the one that most brought the guitar to popular attention, and he recorded it four times himself. Probably the greatest piece of the guitar that has been written. When he took up the guitar, there was really only one way of playing it as far as the public was concerned, which was the rather emotional vibrato, Spanish tone. But what Julian Bream found in it was a coolness and a clarity and a depth which made it sound a rather different instrument and one with a lot more complexity.
He would like to lock himself away for several months at a time, just him and the guitar, and explore as far as he could, the complexities of the instrument. He locked himself away in a train compartment once going coast to coast in America and just communed with the guitar. He always wanted to make it do more and to speak more. He treated it almost like another human being, as if it could reveal itself to him. He went to Spain in 1955 and loved the place, but he couldn't help but realize the huge debt he owed to the country and its composers.
In 1985, he decided to repay that debt. In a way, he made an eight part television series called Guitarra, which is a history of the instrument in Spain.
Somehow he succeeded, I think, in drawing the respect of Spaniards and they may still have felt that he was a little bit below what they would truly like of the guitar, but I think they couldn't but feel proud that he had brought their musical traditions and their instrument to the world's attention as he did. And row on Julian Bream, who's died aged 87. That's all for this episode of the intelligence, if you like us, give us a reading on Apple podcasts and you can subscribe to the economist at The Economist Dotcom Slash Intelligence offered.
See you back here on Monday. It's 25 years since Father Ted was on the telly. That's a long time. I mean, it's nearly 26 years. So the lads in Boston are releasing a set of four commemorative lamps. We can get them at our post office or up on post.com. Father Ted, send them to people. You know why we just had lunch. Oh, right. They're actually stamps. Yeah. A great bunch of stops and laughs and fun, some unposed for your world.