Dick Erixon — I hjärtat rebell: "Sveriges Radios vetenskapsredaktion rapporterade nyligen om ny forskning i USA som visar att viljan till jämlikhet är biologiskt inprogrammerad i våra hjärnor. “Man har hittat ett fynd i hjärnan som tyder på att det finns ett basalt, inkodat motstånd mot ojämlika fördelningar, i det här fallet pengar”, sa Martin Ingvar, professor i neurofysiologi på Karolinska Institutet till Vetenskapsradion."
I should be fairly easy to prove this on people who are jealous. A non virtue character. Is this problem accounted for? Furthermore I don't think you can use the complicated word "jämlikhet" to discuss these data.
It would however be interesting to ask the question if it is possible to divide Alliansen and the Red-Greens into people that are not jealous and jealous, respectively. People differ in the degree to which they are jealous and in all probability this is a genetic trait, although it might be complicated inheritance with many genes involved.
They have had a discussion on SR.se OBS where the leaders of the political youth organizations have discussed the pros and cons of economic equality. If people work and get money for their work it is not the same as tested in the study above. If Bill Gates makes a discovery that many people like, he is not regarded as a person stealing from others. A healthy person rather become impressed.
Well, it is clear from my perspective that political philosophy in fact started, for example Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau, in their discussion of state of nature, as evolutionary psychology in its embryonic form. It could then be argued that MagnusEriksson's article 'Högernharfelfilosofer' might instead read 'Högernharintetagit till sigtillräckligt av psykologin'. Ayn Rand is for example truly dreaful to read for a 'socialliberal' like myself which perhaps could be regarded as center-right.
If the right consider more psychological aspects, they would find that it is not possible with full employment and that all people cannot handle their own situation although evolutionary aspects tell that individualism must be permitted unbound for fastest possible progress. With a development perspective I would argue that science and religion will fuse first. Then they will both fuse with political science. There will however always be art and I sincerely hope that art will be allowed to develop from 'photography' to more experimental vistas.
When political philosophy has become psychology, and social liberalism the center-right, the "högern" is represented by those unwilling to change very much, "det var bättreförr" kind of guys. Such individuals are by definition in my humble experience are politically not very intellectual which is discussed in the articles above.
The center-left starts with the recognition of economical equality and to fill in on Poirier Martinsson's discussion of Johan Norberg's position, I have no idea why Norberg talks about voting for the social democrats.
Myt att kristendomen byggt Sverige Brännpunkt SvD: "Många tror att en majoritet av svenska folket är kristna. Det stämmer inte. Samtliga undersökningar visar att så inte är fallet. Sverige är ett av världens mest sekulära länder där mindre än 20 procent tror på någon eller några gudar. En överväldigande majoritet av de svenska med- borgarna är således ickereligiösa."
I want to investigate this further but from a preliminary survey it does seem to be a false statement to say that all investigations demonstrate that a majority of Swedes aren't Christian. It is important for Christer Stumark and the Humanists to claim that is possible to eradicate religion which I firmly believe is not possible due to the natural interest of the Divine among the majority of people.
First of all, Dagen published a Gallup study where it was asked if religion is important in your life and only around 20% claimed this in Scandinavia. However, this question is not the same as if one ask if people believe in God. In a genetically fairly similar country like the United States almost 50% go to Church once a week, the Pew Forum lists answers on the question if religion is important in your life and the national average is 56%.
Wikipedia gives information that 46%-85% of the Swedish population does not believe in God. Difficult to get a firm answer on this question in other words. However, as many as 65% baptise their child in Sweden and it is very difficult to believe that they would do this and not believe in God. Furthermore, as many as 84% bury their dead via the Church, also indicating that people become a little more religious at older age, or admit it more willingly, and that quite a few in actuality have a belief in God.
It is also interesting to speculate in the possibility that spirituality is a genetic trait and that the predilection for religiosity might vary on Earth. The Chinese, for example, managed to eradicate religion totally during their Maoistic era but it is coming back currently. The question is to what degree?
The elites are in trouble, as wrote David Brooks the other day. I have read in the press that it is Greece that has managed its wealth erroneously but this is not the opinion of the Greeks according to several articles from both European and American press. In the US there is the Tea Party movement with their claim on fiscal responsibility.
Lemon juice is the word because Greece has complained on Germany who stole their gold during World War II and did not pay it back, something the Germans do not agree upon. Increasingly people are beginning to get the feeling that too much is decided on top of their heads and that they have to pay for other people's mistakes, despite going to work every day.
However, the question is what the Greeks in reality expect. Their country's finance is bust and austerity measures in need. They are not in the mood for working themselves out of their pit. Do they have a feeling that this is not possible? That someone is going to rescue them? Perhaps no one is providing a new way forward. A clear sustainable goal for future living. They are frustrated because they have lived their life but this did not work. Debt accumulates as they live above their means.
The Germans, those in Europe with the deepest pockets, apparently got crazy when they heard that the Greeks were going to raise their pension age from 61 to 63 and wondered if they had to raise theirs from 67 to 69 to bail Greece out. A revolution is perhaps not really justifiable. However, they need reform. Transparency International rank them with Bulgaria and Romania, way down on the list. Corruption is rife. Turkey is actually above Greece in the corruption ranking and some people hesitate to enroll them to the EU because of their problems of governance, their civil war between the democratic Muslims and the secular Military.
Is it then possible for the Greeks to complain on the European elites? Corruption is not only a problem of the establishment. It is also a systemic ailment. The bottom line of recent events, however, is that the Greeks don't seem remorseful.
Svensk ambassad i Irak invigd - DN.se: "Utrikesminister Carl Bildt invigde på onsdagen Sveriges nybyggda ambassad i Irak. Den förra har stått utan fast bemanning sedan kriget 2003. -Vi gör en betydande satsning på vår närvaro i Irak, och det tror jag är helt rätt, säger Bildt på telefon från Bagdad efter ceremonin"
The same day as Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister, is opening the new Swedish embassy in Baghdad Thomas L. Friedman writes a somewhat philosophical piece on the future of Iraq in The New York Times. The new embassy is situated outside the Green Zone, ie, the specially protected area for government buildings. This ought to be good news since the security must have improved in the city. Despite recent bombings that are believed to be due to the near election on March 7.
Friedman's conclusion is that we really don't know what is going to happen when the Americans have left the area and the Iraqis are taking over. Half of the 100,000 soldiers now present will leave by September this year and the rest by the end of 2011. Will their old tribal culture rule or will new politics be able to change the society away from their dictatorial past. What happens in Iraq, a more developed society than that of Afghanistan, will give clues as to what can be expected in the latter country. However, the Swedes were in Baghdad before 2003, so the investment ought to be safe.
It remains an extraordinary chance for the Iraqis to start anew. They got a ticket into the world community that was costly but they can still make it worth while. What makes me most curious about their situation is how they are going to relate to their immediate environment. Unfortunately they don't seem to be too friendly with Israel, a US ally, but rather import a lot from Syria and Turkey. This would raise fears that their shiite religion would make them gravitate towards Iran. After all it was the sunni Saddam Hussein that fought Iran. Hopefully their rather unique recent development will make them connect rather with more distant partners like Sweden. They are importing things from China as well, just for the balance.
Knowledge; growth; well to do; welfare: says Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the Danish premier minister, with his newly reshuffled government. Furthermore, in ten points, he says freedom, equal opportunity, energy efficiency, trust and comfort, less bureaucracy.
Rasmussen does not say "föregångsland" and it might not be a coincidence that he reshuffles right after the 80 points of EU 2020 were presented.
Fredrik Malm: "Jag har skrivit om detta tidigare, och efter Per Gudmundsons ledare i SVD idag, är det nödvändigt att återigen skriva om ämnet. Gudmundson refererar till en intervju med Ilmar Reepalu i Sunday Telegraph. Reepalu fäller i intervjun det smått bisarra yttrandet 'Det har inte förekommit några attacker mot judar, och om judar här vill flytta till Israel är det ingen angelägenhet för Malmö'."
It is very serious when a Mayor is not admitting that there is a problem of violence against a people, in this case Jews. When I wrote in support of the Jewish demonstration for Israel in Malmö that was attacked, I got a snyde comment that this was not a security problem for Sweden as a nation. I cannot disagree more. Looking the other way when violence is executed is always a problem. There are always people that think it might be OK to act in this way if such events are not forcefully denounced.
However, what Ilmar Reepalu might be referring to here is the general situation that he know of violence, for example clandestine violence, that occur which he is referring to as nonexistent. This might actually be a larger problem for Sweden than what the Jews are experiencing.
The Scandinavians are supposedly among the happiest on Earth. I would hate to wake up one day and find out that that is what Scandinavians say, because they don't dare to confront clandestine threats of violence.
Gunnar Hökmark: "En dag som började med ett frukostmöte med den kinesiske ambassadören till EU som menade att Europas fasthållande vid demokratiska värden skapade problem i relationerna och var ett uttryck för bristande förståelse för Kina."
I was turning pages in the UN declaration of human rights yesterday and couldn't help interesting myself of the problem faced by Hökmark this morning. It is of course necessary to have an opinion that is built on strength during such an accusation. So yes, our democratic rights have served us well over the years and that we have many hundred years of successful trade with various nations before People's Republic of China. So much for the past but what about the future? What is our plan compared to that of China?
However, I would have spared the good ambassador these comments and instead answered that we honor tolerance, an old venerable virtue from the 17th century, and we hope that China would not require us to change our ways in order to do business together. But what happens when Geely buys Volvo Cars? Clash of cultures in Göteborg? Is it possible to have China as a player in the West or is just the opposite possible since our ways are more free?
The next question one would have is if showing an understanding of China's situation really is in one's interest. Apparently they operate their country in another way, they stake different claims in the world. They are for example good friends with Iran. Basij kind of guys! Knowledge of their ways is of course valuable but showing interest perhaps not. I actually find it very intriguing that so many want to do business with Russia and China. It must be very profitable but definitely risky. A new type of warfare?
"There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so." Says James Watson, the co-discoverer of the DNA double helix and the 50 year chief of the prestigeous Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a job he left after the debacle. It so happened, I said something similar earlier today, because most people with my background probably would.
Because what Watson also said was that Africans were not as intelligent as Westerners. This is of course politically very difficult to say. He also said that there had been tests that confirmed this. It does not say what tests this was but one might guess that it should be possible to formally test this with regular intelligence tests. Personally, I have no information as to the accurracy of this claim but people are not contradicting Watson with facts but rather with harsh words. However, Watson said that he did not claim that Africa as a continent was genetically inferior.
"Science is no stranger to controversy. The pursuit of discovery, of knowledge, is often uncomfortable and disconcerting." These words of James Watson are interesting from the point of view of Religious Humanism that claims that scientific pursuit is equivalent with the search for God.
Another hot question that especially religious people seemingly hate to discuss is that of the possibility that not only intelligence but also spirituality is genetically determined and normally distributed. Religious people seem to prefer a nonbiological approach to spirituality. A supernatural approach.
Watson argues that before long the nature versus nurture debate will be settled more firmly. It is possible that this debate is so sensitive that its pursuit will be blocked.
I.H.T. Op-Ed Contributor - The Taliban and Reconciliation - NYTimes.com: "1) The coalition surge and the expansion of Afghan forces must change the balance of power against the insurgents, confronting them with prospects for defeat; 2) The Karzai government must become more effective; 3) A regional solution must be found for South Asia to induce Pakistan to stop allowing its territory to be used as a sanctuary by the Taliban; and 4) The Obama administration must change the regional perception that it intends to begin disengaging from Afghanistan after 18 months."
The former US ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, now with CSIS, talks about the four points necessary for success and reconciliation and integration in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, according to the same, only the first is being pursued. As before, the mission is a tall order. The article points out that the main problem right now is that the Taliban is not on a losing streak.
Nils Horner, the excellent Asia correspondent for SR, had arranged an interview with a senior Taliban leader that lives in Kabul who interestingly said that the Taliban was not against the education of women. They had just not had the proper resources to deal with this question? If this is true, it might be a very important step forward for future reconciliation, should the conditions permit. This question is probably very important for the public support of the NATO mission in Sweden. Upon the recent death of the two officers and their interpreter support for the Swedish mission has increased.
A step back for the mission was given the other day when the future support from the Netherlands was jeopardized by the fall of their government. The two major parties in a coalition the center-right Christian Democrats and Labour could not agree. In Sweden the Social Democrats are divided and if the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating we might find ourselves in a situation like that in the Netherlands. Apparently the region where they are situated, Uruzgan, neighboring Helmand, is one of the best controlled and was to serve as an example for others. The Netherlands have lost 21 of their 2,000 troops. Furthermore, the Uruzgan province suffered the death of 30 civilians in a recent NATO attack.
The fourth point of Khalilzad above is particularly difficult to satisfy since President Obama promised the beginning of removal of troops in July 2011. This would mean that Afghan troops would be able to replace NATO troops something that has been questioned in articles in the New York Times recently. However, there has recently been the capture of two Taliban heads in Pakistan which might mean that point three is in progress. It seems, however, that the military action against Talibans in Pakistan that begun lately have fizzled.
I have not seen this notion debated actually but it is important and raises important questions. Especially in the current school curriculum debate in Sweden. Sharon Begley discusses some differences in brain function between Asians and Westerners. It seems like we are born with a certain so called "hard wiring" of the brain that is malleable by culture to a certain extent. A phenomenon called neuronal plasticity.
The crucial question is if this cultural change of brain function and thus of personality represents a new type of racism? Because at the same time you conclude that there is a difference, it does not matter that it is not genetic, the problem of which culture, if any, is most superior arises. It is fairly clear that Christianity in Europe led to the development of modern science which represents a world record for achievement at the time.
However, is the management of these assets better performed by the Asians with their collective-tuned personalities? It is a little like the difference by liberals and conservatives in the West. It is perhaps a little easier to make new discoveries that break with past rituals than if you are hard-wired to the collective. At least this represents evolutionary thinking on the problem. Faster progress is possible.
The above discussion is of course not simplified with the current research on the human genome from different areas of the world. James 'DNA double helix' Watson ran into a heavy turbulence over some statements in this general direction the other year. The topic is so sensitive that it basically cannot be discussed in the open. However, it is fair to assume that small, and perhaps significant, differences exist in the neural hard-wiring of different races. Especially now when functional, culture induced, differences apparently are possible to discuss in the fine salons of the world.
So are human rights universal? Most people in the West seems to think so. They seem to work better in Japan than in China which would then perhaps be ascribed to a cultural effect. One additional problem might be that even if one culture is superior at a given time, it might not be all the time. Then there is the question if there is equal suffering in China and the West, a characteristic that is actually measurable?
Well, it seems to me that Björklund wins this debate since Sörlin is mixing up practical knowledge and learning with theoretical ditto. Both of course gives satisfaction to the student. Sörlin is attacking Björklund again today in DN (not ONLINE). Sörlin says that the teachers only should decide what is to be taught. This lead to a debate that has not been in the open: whether Alliansen is having a politically steered school and that teachers would transmit more apolitically.
The first thing that comes to mind is how much we are willing to sacrifice on the altar of nationalism? Natural science topics are given but problems arises when we want to discuss subjects that form the Swedish citizen. Sörlin says that there are 200 hours taught the nine first years. The question then is what this 5 week course is going to teach? Sörlin points out that the average kid spends a lot more time on the internet and it is then important to note that the English Wikipedia is both larger and better. It is of essence to internationalize the students early with knowledge in English.
There is a lot of people that want students to discover their roots and learn about how Sweden became what it is today. That is not forward looking. However, given a certain amount of time it might be more important to teach the course about how mankind came to be and that Sweden represents 2% of the EU population and 1% of the trans-Atlantic world. To be honest, we don't have that much influence as some people seem to wish.
The maintenance and establishment of something Swedish seem to me today a waste of time. Environmentalists would not agree of course. But trying to moralize in this direction might lead to more trouble than solutions. Nationalism, the belief that on nation is superior to others, is probably not a winning concept on too small a scale. The scale today is given by the giant China.
Should the students learn Chinese instead? Some people I have heard wish we would. That is typical. Some Swedes have had a penchant for large totalitarian countries before. However, nationalism could be replaced by the same type of awe that we give to athletes. Give credit where credit is due. A good company etc. If the EU is not going to become a home for the Swedes, then the language group of English speakers might. After all we are deeply involved in its cultural output.
So teach the five week course on the development of the Western civilization. Our historic time from the Sumerians and forward. Speaking for myself I belong in the English language group. Swedes learn English early so I would have many with me. There will always be those who are fascinated with Swedish history that will carry this forward as a pastime. Swedish history has had relatively little impact on the world. It is good to know when you are abroad.
Given a limited amount of time what should the priority be for teaching history in Sweden in a global world. This is not an easy question.
If the goal is to prepare the students for the world, for them to be able to compete on the world stage, it might be better to teach a version of world history rather than spending time on too much detail in Swedish history. The same would go for literature. Students would learn first the best literature in the world. The 50 best books first. I don't know, but there might not be a Swedish one. If not they would become handicapped relative students growing up in major countries.
It is interesting to compare with sports. Our athletes are some of the best ambassadors for Sweden that we have. They have to learn the trade of international sports first. Otherwise they will also become handicapped.
Someone told me that this is why Sweden excels in engineering because math, physics and chemistry are international. We lag behind as we are in a minority language area to start with.
I don't think it is possible to give students an international identity, rather than a Swedish one, but the question is how you strike the balance.
Fredrik Malm: Utrikesdebatt idag: "Vänsterpartiet håller i oppositionens taktpinne: Oppositionen presenterade idag en överenskommelse om utrikespolitiken. Men frågan är vad de egentligen har kommit överens om. Där nämns ingenting om EU. Där nämns ingenting om Afghanistan. Orsaken är att S, V och MP inte kan enas."
Let us hope that Obama's and McChrystal's strategy works in Afghanistan. This would be good for most people. However, if it fails and the death toll continues to increase also this year this would mean that the "Red-Green mess" will clarify most eminently.
Based on available data the prospects for a happy ending are low. Hopefully there are things we don't now. The spin for the moment looks beneficial.
Hope then separates us from a new era in Swedish foreign policy with the return of a neutrality politics. A type of isolationism.
Kristendomens ställning i skolan - P1-morgon - sr.se: "Det nya förslaget till kursplan i religionskunskap har väckt starka protester- eftersom texter om kristendomens betydelse tagits bort. Debatt mellan Jan Björklund, utbildningsminister (FP) och Lars Ohly (V) om kristendomen i skolan."
Jan Björklund has the feeling that there should be more stress on Christianity than on other religions because in our part of the world is immersed by Christianity and has been for a thousand years. Lars Ohly argues that we are entering a secular era and that our schools should be a protected area for children where they are equally inspired by all religions and also other life philosophies.
Religious Humanism is thought of as a relatively tradition-free religion based on science and humanism. As such, during the next 100 or 200 years, many will gradually reorient themselves to a materialistic God concept that is fully compatible with science as the importance of scientific results become more and more valued. God is Nature. The supernatural is replaced by yet unknown discoveries by science. It is important to realize that most people want to believe and that secularity might not be the answer for more than some 25% of the population. In this sense we are not globally entering a secular era. However, the state and the churches must be separated. In a multicultural environment religion is more private.
Teaching all religions equally must then be considered the best way. Because it will lead to an understanding of religion in terms of human psychology. Common denominators become evident and the subject Psychology of Religion is the forerunner to Religious Humanism. The Christian heritage is also learned from studies of literature and movie art and is reaching the students in other ways.
The take of Religious Humanism is to some extent dependent on if science will continue to be a guiding light, a beacon for society. Health care and social institutions have replaced Christianity to a large extent, at least in Sweden, and psychology is a popular subject even among priests these days.
One important subject in this respect is a product of science, namely, nuclear weapons. On the one hand we have entered a relatively more peaceful era with these weapons. On the other hand they have become a risk in terms of nuclear proliferation into unwanted hands. There are also other developments that can lead to negative feelings of science development.
On the positive side is continuous development of scientific results that hopefully will yield solutions to climate change, yield larger crops, improve health care, and solutions to other problems we face. It is therefore my hope that people more and more will regard Nature as our God, environmentalism might aid in this development, and that science will be the ritual by which we become closer to God.
Democrats Reel as Senator Bayh Steps Aside - NYTimes.com: "What was most striking about Mr. Bayh’s announcement was the deep disillusionment he expressed with his place of employment, a feeling reflected in recent polls. In a New York Times/CBS News poll last week, 75 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the job Congress was doing; just 8 percent said members of Congress deserved re-election."
Tea Party members talk about a revolution and the Real Clear Politics job approval for Congress is down to 20.4%. It fell 3% just recently. I have discussed the role of the Presidency itself. President Obama has taken a lot of heat lately but it can of course be argued that much of his problem is from the system itself. Bayh's willingness to serve is not gone it is his willingness to serve in Congress that is diminished. Bayh said that the system used to work, eg, when his father was a senator. This would assume that changes has been made that no one talks about.
Dagens Nyheter is also noting the event. PJ Anders Linder and Ulf Bjereld discussed the Swedish election process yesterday on the program Studio Ett on the radio. Nya Moderaterna is having a hard time after some cheating in the election process was discovered. Linder advocated election of MPs via direct election whereas Bjereld wanted the party to nominate candidates according to the present system.
It is possible to argue for both types of candidates but what remains is what nasty tongues call "röstboskap", ie, MPs only function is to push that voter button. Some say that the Riksdag should be removed because it is outmoded. It is however hard to find data on the popularity of the Swedish Riksdag but is in all probability larger than that of the US and Great Britain. After recent scandals in Britain their approval rate must be below 20%.
That would be the same argument that the American polls indicate. They use a system of election to personal tickets and seem to have the same type of problem. Dick Erixon often brings up this question and have the argument that a directly elected candidate would represent the voters only. That, however, is the crucial question because it seems like people have other authorities than politicians today. The US and British system are constructed in this way and they are less popular. Party memberships are dwindling.
Considering the direct election of candidates a person like President Obama should perhaps not have been considered due to the fact that he had not run a state. Perhaps governorship should be a prerequisite? I have discussed this before. Running a campaign is not the same as running the US. In Sweden, a smaller place, 'kommunstyrelsens ordförande', a mayor position, should perhaps be better than party leader? In the US party leaders are small fish. It should be remembered though that Sweden has both a more popular leader and a more popular parliament than the US.
Someone said that we don't elect people for what they have achieved in Sweden but for what they say they will do. I think this is particularly foolish in the upcoming election where the recumbents have performed well but lag in the polls all through their term. Shouldn't there be accountability at the same time as there should be a vision of the future?
A vision of the future is difficult when part of the EU which is claimed void of consensus for visions. Sweden is operating quite well at the moment. There is not much to complain on. The vision that is claimed is that of a 'föregångsland', ie, a country that is leading the way in perhaps environmental concerns. Sweden tops the EU in environmental concerns. I would rather like to see that Sweden became a 'föregångsland' on transparency in the governing system.
What then about the governing system in Sweden? Are Anglo-America ahead of us despite the presently more popular system in Sweden? Probably they are. Our system might start to fail when the parties disappear. Something is going to become evident then. The quest in the Tea Party movement for no leadership is very interesting. Do they actually mean that everyone is going to be equal or can't they for some reason don't talk about their clandestine leaders?
In Sweden, clandestine leaders can't become public leaders and legislate without puppet MPs, as the system is currently operating. "Röstboskapen" are taking orders from below instead of from above perhaps? Well, do people know about this? According to the poll in the cited article above people don't want their leaders to be reelected. That would mean that they have not agreed to the system. Not good!
I find it very interesting that it is so stimulating when a fellow Swede takes a gold medal in sports. There is a tacit translation in my mind, probably, that makes me think we are good as a group because she is good. Thank you Charlotte Kalla for your pixie dust.
However, this feeling of ours is a problem when it comes to Europe as such. When I first engaged on the EU problem I was directed to an EU web site, Debate Europe, where I quickly learned that there was no EU. We just do business together. I refused to listen, for good reasons, but now I am convinced, we are diverging.
I guess it is time to focus on Brazil and Mexico, although there is very little information about these places for the average Swede. I have said it before, therefore I try to focus on what is interesting for Anglo-American press, even if they apparently are out to destroy the Euro, if I'm to believe the Spanish. There are 600m English speaking individuals. It is a good start and deserves a continuation. So even if the pixie dust still works I'm decidedly Anglo-American.
Paul Krugman on nytimes.com today gives EU the verdict that moving forward would mean further political integration but he immediately claims this is not going to happen any time soon. My current feeling is that this is never going to happen. It will be interesting to see how the ECB will try to prove him wrong.
I guess what I just have been discussed played out here in Sweden recently when the position of EU-minister was up for repossession. Many did not think we needed one. We do and we don't, I guess. We need one for promoting the business. To site a Romanian fellow on Debate Europe: EU is just about economics.
The Greek Tragedy That Changed Europe - WSJ.com: "Modern-day Greece may be just and wise, but it certainly has not had an ordered life. As a result, the great opportunity and wealth bestowed by European integration has been largely squandered. And lower interest rates over the past decade—brought down to German levels through Greece being allowed, rather generously, into the euro zone—led to little more than further deficits and a dangerous buildup of government debt."
Jan Björklund was interviewed by Tomas Ramberg yesterday in the program "Lördagsintervjun" and the first question he got was about the crisis with Greece in the Eurozone. His wavering answer made me wonder about the position (FP) has about the Swedish prospective membership in the EMU.
The article above is indicating that Greece and some other countries not really would have been candidates for the EMU and that we are looking at a situation where countries even might start to leave the Eurozone with for them dire consequences. The membership, they argue, gave Greece a too god credit score and let them borrow too much. The EMU, in other words, was bad for Greece and perhaps also for some other countries like Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy.
The article seems to paint a very gloom picture for the future of Europe and a potential break-up of the Union in a well off and a less well off region. If I understand this correctly Sweden and Norway would be in the well off area and thus perhaps benefit from membership mostly based on political integrational reasons. Another question to Jan Björklund would then be whether or not such political arguments still exist? Olle Schmidt says that the crisis in these countries is not the failure of individual states but of the monetary union. Schmidt also says that Sweden looses political influence staying outside something Anders Borg also said recently. Per Altenberg is another EMU-positive blogger.
However, Lars Calmfors (DN 15/1) discussed the matter and concluded that the only reason for joining the Euro would be a greater say in the political integration of the EU which is argued against in Tony Johansson's and Jonas Ljungberg's article. They claim the unified interest caused economical differences in the economy that prevents political integration. In my humble opinion then if other countries in the EU would pitch in, the question of political influence attached would arise.
There are, however, break-up tendencies for Europe as such that would argue for staying out of the EMU and that has fuelled a discussion about a Nordic Union. The Visegrad countries, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland tend to join forces now and then. We also have Great Britain that is fairly independent and where strong EU sceptical forces loom. Especially so if the Tories will win this years election which is probable. We have France with its recent discussion about its identity and its almost 50% subscription to the idea that capitalism is dead which makes it unique. It has also flirted with the so called Club Med formation around the Mediterranean. Germany is focused rather to the east and wants to develop Russia.
With recent developments it seems prudent to stay outside the EMU with Norway and Great Britain and await the possible recovery of the ailing states? For the non-economically knowledgeable person the political arguments for joining EMU seem to vanish by the day.
Lena Andersson writes today in DN about the man who didn't want to take the hand of a woman prospective boss. He did not "ta seden dit man kommer" in other words he did not put important regional customs before his own rather extreme religious rules.
I have heard different versions about what actually happened and it apparently was one of these word against word affairs. Because it would of course be different if the man actually in some polite way greeted his prospective boss other than shaking his hand an looking her in her eyes.
A multicultural society can of course not be equivalent with people coming to a region and expecting to be able to live exactly like they did where they came from. That would be equivalent to an invasion. Some adaptation is of course necessary.
Religious Humanism, a religion that I am trying to develop, has the advantage of having removed itself of all these traditions that often is what cause problems with other religions. It is of course highly crippling in the Western society to not be able to shake the hand of a fellow human being and not being able to look them straight in the eyes. Belief in God and an ethical living should be possible without such anti-liberal manners as hiding in a burka.
Francis Collins is the man who took over the Human Genome Project from the legendary James Watson, the man who cracked the DNA helix, and proceeded to crack the human genome in 2001. His Christian View is authoritative among many scientists who tries to fuse the supernatural and the natural worlds. As I detailed elsewhere, I removed the supernatural world and settled with materialistic pantheism instead.
Collins published the book The Language of God, which the article is about. Materialistic pantheism also think the DNA is the language of God. However, our thoughts are another code that also is influenced by the environment and therefore not directly stemming from the DNA. This code has since the beginning of historic time, some 5,000 years ago, begun to evolve at a faster rate.
Apparently Collins does not believe we will evolve further. It is possible that we will not evolve genetically but the other newer evolution will in all probability lead to new vistas. The most direct way of thinking of this new world would be if computers were made to think creatively.
Even if this evolution of the thought domain will not result in fruition, I see no reason to not believe "evolution" will not continue. Materia always existed, then biological tissue, then thoughts and then whatever.
There is a lot written by now about Greece and the other black sheep of Europe Portugal, Spain, Ireland and perhaps Italy. What is interesting is why these countries accumulate so much debt that they risk to fail? Is the reality that they can't live the same as their more affluent countries in the EU but have done this anyhow? This should not be a big problem. Greece only has 2% of the EU GDP.
We then seem to have reached the point where populations of countries are taken care of but countries in the EU are not taken care of by more affluent countries. In my humble opinion this would mean that EU has failed to become united and that states are going to start a process of secession. Most probably without a civil war to follow. There is simply no Abe Lincoln around. That people talk about an expansion of the EU under these circumstances is not understandable other than from individual countries perspective.
As a layman of economics I must ask myself is these potential failures are caused by the monetary union or would have occurred anyhow? Are we living in an impossible world? Neither Union neither Member Countries. A half way house. Charlemagne of The Economist trashed and demoted Lady Ashton to a Low Representative and it is questionable if she ever rises again.
Now, this breaking point occurs as the US is silently distancing itself from Europe. Another thought comes to mind. The European project was possible due to the protection afforded by the US and NATO? It gave the European states an air of supranationality.
Now the French cadets ask questions in French after the speech of Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State! The FAQ page on the web for the EU does not include the US as a factor giving peace to Europe after World War II! I guess the next point in the development is when it would have been the Red Army that liberated Europe--and kept it free.
Carl Bildt made changes in the number of embassies that Sweden has and closed many in the EU. Are we talking about foreign policy between member states or is it internal affairs? More and more people are silent in blogs on international affairs and intra-European news are rare in the newspapers and other media. If it wasn't for the Anglo-American press and internet we would be quite in the dark. Free news and opinions on the internet is apparently slowly closing down as a further step in the world localization process. I hope it will not be a "fatal mistake" to not keep the US as a leader.
I read today about a new book Jämlikhetsanden, or The Spirit of Equality in DN. Someone apparently is trying to provide proof that equality makes us healthier. Magnus Andersson, the CUF leader, wrote on his blog that the Left Party in Göteborg is trying to make it illegal to earn more than four times another person in the commune. I guess we simply are not interested in Microsofts and Googles in Sweden.
So what are we interested in? Hearing the views of Kurds in Uppsala on Studio Ett, a radio program, that were against erecting a statue of Fadime that was shot by her father, an honor killing, it occurred to me that what we fail to do here in Sweden is to make people leave such ideas behind and move into the future. There has then to be a future to speak about. Being known for your welfare system is not to be preferred compared to being known for your Microsofts and Googles and the internet. Not to mention Wikipedia. That would inspire people to become Europeans. A viable society must tolerate exceptional people. It will never work with a stipulated course in Swedish values.
So when the political election debate focus on the part of the population with problems, no job, bad health and not the healthy 90% it is bound to become quite uninspiring.
Nicholas Sarkozy was among the first to complain after the financial crisis that there was no return to business as usual. An article in the last The Economist features a very interesting figure where the results of a poll with two questions is displayed.
The questions are: 1. "Government should play a more active role in owning or directly controlling major industries"; and 2. "Capitalism is fatally flawed and a different economic system is needed".
The SAAB and SAS situations in Sweden are partly involving this reasoning but I have so far not seen any discussion in the main media as to whether capitalism should be replaced and in this case to what.
France stands out with 56% on 1. and 42% on 2. Germany which is supposed to be the other half of Europe's engine think quite differently with 30% on 1. and only 8% on 2. Britain and the US have about the same, ie, 20% on each question. The poll was taken between July and September 2009.
Does this mean that France is half way out into something else and how is the discussions actually possible between Sarkozy and Merkel who actually spent some time on their own before meeting with the other chiefs of state today in Brussels? It is interesting in this context that Sarkozy have been influencing Herman van Rompuy to enter into a new debate on an economic government for Europe which was supposed to be discussed today. Britain and Germany are apparently not enthused because it would limit their freedom.
It is apparently enough with 20-30% on question 1. for governments to acquire car companies but what is going on in France with 56%? France is fairly high on environmental interest, 10% think it is very important, they are energy independent with some 75% nuclear energy, are they entering into a serious debate on sustainable non-growth economics?
From recent reading it seem like Germany is entering into a growth economy where they will develop East Europe and Russia. Germany and Russia might become like the US and China. This was the view given by Joschka Fischer a former foreign minister of Germany and a member of the Green Party. He seemed to indicate that France was not into his German-Polish-Russian axis.
With Britain in their economy which is heavily tied to that of the US and their "special relationship", their pending joint attack on Marjah, Afghanistan, and the US on the way to Asia, where does this leave France? I have to repeat that, half of the French think it is time to replace capitalism! Probably mostly the socialists which traditionally have been left-of-Lenin in Europe.
Nej till Swiftavtalet - DN.se: "Dessutom har USA, enligt DN.se:s källor, gjort klart under förhandlingarna att om det skulle bli nej till det tillfälliga Swiftavtalet är man inte intresserade av att förhandla om ett långsiktigt avtal med EU"
It seems like Fredrik Reinfeldt and his colleagues last fall, all elected in elections with higher turn-outs than the EU parliament election, had agreed to a temporary treaty that would increase our defense against terrorism.
Now our MEPs and others in the name of democracy tries to hide this anti-Americanism. They claim victory as if they were in Afghanistan.
Lena Ek: "Idag har det varit debatt i plenum om Swiftavtalet. I korthet går Swiftavtalet ut på att myndigheter i USA ska fortsätta få tillgång till information om europeiska finansiella transaktioner för att kunna jaga terrorister."
Lena Ek does not like this matter much. Integrity wise. Aftonbladet exposes Fredrik Reinfeldt as an American lackey that organized this deal during last fall.
It is possible to act in solidarity to the Swedish chairmanship and be on Reinfeldt's side but it is also possible to accommodate the US after what Europe did during the Iraq war when our presence had been very important for the outcome of the conflict due to a much more unified pose of the West.
I think we owe it to the Americans to donate a bunch of for us meaningless data on their server. Terrorism is not important in Europe but the 9/11 catastrophe came partly out of Hamburg. And as we saw during the Christmas day debacle in Detroit, terrorism matters greatly still in the US.
Verheugen thinks further expansion or not is the most important issue facing the EU. Apparently the German public, like myself, is pleased with the present status quo. However, Verheugen thinks stopping expansion would be a fatal mistake. It generates good markets for especially Germany.
Apparently Joschka Fischer, who published an article on DN.se the other day, is for further integration, and thus think differently than Verheugen, they however have the same idea of expanding eastward to Russia. Verheugen uses the argument that we are already in competition with China and Latin America who are larger than us and given time they will become potentially larger in their economies as well.
This vision of a Europe that reaches the Pacific came a little as a surprise to me I must admit. I guess it would mean that Russia is succumbing to the European economy and joins the EU. I wonder if Joschka Fischer meant the same without spelling it out? One point makes sense to me and that is that it is difficult to envision Russia by itself between the EU, China and Japan. They will be hard pressed and their population is actually decreasing.
The thought of having Russia as a European Texas has been aired in this blog before but ruled out due to their own attitude. However, Russia is buying arms from France currently. A France that Fischer thinks is out of the picture. Verheugen have lost the UK in approximately the same fashion.
We apparently have the same problem in Europe as they have in the US. The Mainstream think local and non-hierarchical whereas the Elite, or Political Class, have visions. They talk about The First Pacific President and about EU the Pacific. And the gap is widening. I wonder, however, if it is not very wise to follow the Mainstream when the Political Class is in doubt. Is it for example possible, even, to call it a "vision".
Are we fighting in Afghanistan? It rather seems like we are getting executed by suicide candidates and blown to pieces by mines. My thoughts are with the recently unfortunate soldiers and their interpreter. McChrystal's new strategy of mingling with the people will apparently be met by these suicide missions. What happened had apparently happened quite often in the southern areas and around Kabul.
Most people I hear say that we are in Afghanistan to build the country and to give it stability. The idea of being a support agency rather than a force eradicating extremists have been the European line most of the time. Obama said during his campaign that he was out to catch Osama bin Laden. The German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle now says that people can rely on the EU but do not need to fear the EU. That could mean openended support for Afghanistan.
This idea contrasts the new American line where Obama and McChrystal seem to say that we will give the Afghans and their army one more chance, after this ridiculous election, to stand up for stability and prosperity in their country. However, if they don't demonstrate this intent they are out of there. Obama said he'd rather build his own country.
However, the fact that Swedish soldiers are beginning to die makes the mission, as it is seen in the eyes of people, more problematic. It is one thing to die for your country and for its security but another to die for the Afghans. In my humble opinion people should not die in development missions.
While people are pondering the 'What are we doing there' question, the least we can do is to reinforce the troops as requested no when they probably are going to get more heat from the southern activities than before. It looks like we are not any more alone in our little corner of Afghanistan but rather becoming part of the whole mission there. This is important because a high officer in the Swedish army was interviewed in Studio Ett, the radio program in P1, and he seemed not particularly willing to state clearly whether he was subordinated to the US or to the Germans.
75% Are Angry At Government’s Current Policies - Rasmussen Reports™: "The divide between the Political Class and Mainstream voters, however, is remarkable. Eighty-eight percent (88%) of Mainstream voters are angry, but 84% of the Political Class are not. Those numbers include 57% of Mainstream voters who are Very Angry and 51% of the Political Class who are not angry at all."
65% of voters nationwide now hold populist, or Mainstream, views of government. That is up from 62% in November last year and from 55% last March. Göran Hägglund, with his "verklighetens folk" probably sings: wish I was there. Mainstream people tend to trust the wisdom of the crowd. Those who trust the political class are only 4%.
Bettina Bibiano, a 47 year old film maker from Los Angeles, said the Tea Party movement does not need an iconic Obama figure. "It is hard for us to unite behind anyone person," she explained. "We are not a cult." They might however be a cult of the Independence Declaration and the literal interpretation of the Constitution. The Tea Party movement is about 40% so they have plenty of room to grown in the populist domain.
This should be contrasted with all the complaints about non-charismatic EU leader Herman van Rompuy. Is the organization of the EU a step ahead of the Tea Party movement or are we talking about two quite different things?
What I don't understand is the outright quest for equality which differs quite a lot from the acceptance of the successful, the idol of the American dream, someone to rally behind. The American Declaration of Independence says: "We hold these truths for self-evident, that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights". Apparently, at the same time they are against European equality. It is apparently trumped by the Freedom in their rights.
At the same time as the Asians talk about forming a union of Asian nations, with billions of inhabitants, the US is talking about ridding themself of a central authority and Europe in principle going against the Lisbon Treaty leaving the charismatic leader and one phone number aside. Autonomous smaller units seems to be the the solution. Even smaller than the states. No wonder the interest in foreign policy is way down at the same time as states starts to act, France by selling battleships to Russia and Germany by talk of a European Army.
Everything global might take a beating in these circles. This would not be good for global poverty reduction.
RealClearPolitics - HorseRaceBlog - America is Not Ungovernable: "Recently, some analysts have suggested that the lack of major policy breakthroughs in the last year is due to the fact that America has become ungovernable. Ezra Klein argued that it was time to reform the filibuster because the government cannot function with it intact anymore. Tom Friedman suggested that America's 'political instability' was making people abroad nervous."
The author argues that the US is governable but Obama has failed.
Here is another take on the Obama story. Unlike The Economist who asks whether Obama has failed or not they ask whether the US is governable or not. However, I found the following book summary statement:
"I conclude that networks are now a pervasive feature of service delivery in Britain; that such networks are characterized by trust and mutual adjustment and undermine management reforms rooted in competition; and that they are a challenge to governability because they become autonomous and resist central guidance". Replace Tea Party groups as networks as an experiment.
If you end up with a country organized mainly in this fashion, ie, with these kind of networks, the presidency just float on top. It will be especially evident if the government is not most informed. A typical example was George W. Bush who was utterly lame duckized. Will Obama follow? According to David Brooks 41% are organized in the Tea Party format. The movement is already larger than each of the parties.
I read all the articles written about the Tea Party Convention this weekend and there were statements that they were not looking for leadership. Like if they wanted to govern without government. If I understand this correctly it will become a sort of coexistence that then still would require some form of a minimal government. The revolution Sarah Palin is talking about might be how to replace government with a new minimal government?
Sarah Palin assails Obama at 'tea party' gathering - Yahoo! News: "Catering to her crowd, Palin talked of limited government, strict adherence to the Constitution, and the 'God-given right' of freedom. She said the 'fresh, young and fragile' movement is the future of American politics because it's 'a ground-up call to action' to both major political parties to change how they do business. 'America is ready for another revolution!' she told the gathering."
When David Brooks wrote of is contempt for the Tea Party movement I called my post The American Revolution 2.0 because it sounded like this. Now Sarah Palin, a perhaps informal leader to this movement, says this herself. It should be noted that they are against both political parties.
At the time of the American Revolution there was a leadership of a few enlightened men and a rabble that set out to defeat the undefeatable. It is apparently the elites of today that seem to be the problem. What I would like to know is whether or not the same people were against George W. Bush? Is it the American Presidency they are out to bring down. They talk presently about not in essence having any leader!? That would make them like the EU.
With the public approval of Congress edging towards a new low of 23.5%, it is conceivable that a complete overhaul of the ruling establishment is being wished for? The Economist is running a new debate where the position of the house is that Obama is failing. The result seems to be that about half of the people think so. However, as the defendant claims people have not yet started to get personal like with George W. Bush who had below 30% approval.
The question I would like to ask the Tea Party movement is whether they are not asking for the return of a lost "way of life"? Fareed Zakaria wrote in his book the Post-American World that American government is outdated. Sarah Palin stand for a very conservative religious world view and makes a point above that it is the God-given rights that matter which seems to rule out that atheists have human rights as indicated by the Independence Declaration.
The question I would like to ask the "elite" is what the replacement of the current American Government should be?
”Svensk alliansfrihet ett tomt skal” - sr.se: "– Nato är inte längre en västorganisation. Vi har tio nya medlemmar som tillhör Östeuropa, hela organisationen har glidit geografiskt österut, det är inte en USA-styrd organisation längre, säger professor Ove Bring."
Bring also says, in April 2008, that NATO now is very similar to the EU and the UN. The NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen says that he wants to make a cultural revolution in NATO. He wants the organization to collaborate more with external powers like China, India, Pakistan and Russia. Russia is displeased over this development since it entails plans on further expansion of NATO. Is he trying to create a competitor to the UN Security Council?
However, Madeleine Albright, the 72 years old, born in Czech Republic, former US State Department Secretary, who work in a think tank that will present the result of a reorganization of NATO in November this year, says that the Soviet Union was an enemy of NATO but Russia isn't. This work is performed partly because there is falling support for NATO in 21 member countries of the 27 EU countries. Coordination of the two organizations that seem worlds apart is of essence.
Gunnar Hökmark writes in his blog that the so called Eastern Partnership that Sweden and Poland have launched is the way forward for Europe. It would be interesting to know how this partnership relates to NATO and the UN? Apparently there is some discontent from Germany and France that membership in the partnership could be regarded as a stepping stone to NATO. Personally I am quite weary about all expansion plans. The EU have plenty of problems in the Balkans and for example Greece that make introspection more appropriate.
Helene Cooper and Nicholas Kulish at The New York Times report that Russia is displeased and have probably influenced Kyrgyzstan to prevent the US from using a very important base for the Afghanistan war on their soil. Joe Biden's speech in Munich was highly anticipated because of its potential to reveal the Obama administration's security doctrine. It seems like they will leave the door ajar for discussion on missile defence with Russia. Missile defence is thus a sensitive topic. The seemingly bargaining chip defence-against-missiles-from-Iran is retained.
There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not Russia is European and obviously the country has been influenced historically by Europe. However, being a country adjacent to Europe with missiles directed to it and recent aggressions in Georgia indicates that Russia is alone, all eleven time zones of it. It does not take much imagination to see that the problem of defending this large lowly populated area full of raw materials situated between two giant economical poles makes the Russians show its teeth the day before the new security Davos conference, and say that they ultimately would defend their territory with nuclear weapons.
Ukraine is having their election today and the question is where the country is heading after the fact. Hökmark says that it is moving towards Russia. What I have heard is that Julia Tymoshenko has been an avid visitor in Moscow and is perhaps still the preferred candidate from the Western standpoint. After all she was a front figure in the Orange revolution. However, Viktor Yanukovich got more votes in the first election and was Moscow's original man. The finance crisis in the West have made the old Russian connection more palatable. Many Ukrainians probably ask themselves where do we belong these days and the eastern industrialized Ukraine is decidedly Yanukovich and Russian, including the Crimea. A NATO membership might split the country in half and might not be what the majority of the Ukrainians want?
Remarks By Carl Bildt at the Global Zero Summit: "But from my particular European perspective I would urge for an agreement on further limits on strategic arms to be followed by talks aimed at reductions also on sub-strategic nuclear weapons."
The citation is from a thoughtful speech by Carl Bildt from a couple of days ago. Apparently President Obama does not think we will remove nuclear weapons during his lifetime and Bildt adds that this will not happen "tomorrow". I don't think nuclear weapons, by all means, is the last murderous weapon Man will invent. There will be more to come. However, for terrorists nuclear weapons can't be judged a "weapon of the past". They seem instead to be the weapons of tomorrow.
We could not prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons. I don't think we will be able to prevent Iran from this either. Bildt argues that when the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 was ratified there were five nuclear states. Now there are at least four more. He adds that we are now at a critical point and I can't agree more. This can be seen in the international press in the discussions around Iran's nuclear program. It is rogue and labile states that now are acquiring nuclear weapons with resources to start producing terrorist grade ones.
With due respect of the initiative from Bildt and Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister, I believe that a progressive European perspective on the nuclear issue should be focused on the proliferation aspect. Yes, less tactical weapons might mean less chance of "broken arrows" but Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and perhaps clandestine organizations make their own gear.
North Korea and Iran are backed by China, who then does not show what the West mean by responsibility for the security of the world community. Most data speak in the direction of this meaning that we will have to live with "loose canons". It therefore seems like these weapons have to be stopped at the borders and that the discussion would have to be geared in this direction instead. After all we have the Kaliningrad and Kola weapons on our doorstep already.
Extrapolating from Chinese intent, they let North Korea through and armed Pakistan, it seems like they would not mind a Western town going up in smoke with the loss of moral this would entail. The questioning of Tony Blair, the former prime minister of the UK, recently aired the idea that the judgment of risk attached to Muslim fundamentalism allows for the destruction of 30,000 people or so. If Iran acts by proxy via Hamas and Hizbollah, it seems China is doing the same via North Korea, Pakistan and Iran. The Muslim radical being their wasser träger.
Europe could then act in solidarity with the US and not sell civilian air craft and weapons to China when China is threatening the US as The Economist suggests. However, the Chinese play tough and say that Europe should sell weapons to them now so that they would be able to buy from China in the future. This is the cross roads we currently are at. Backing the US against China or joining China in potential trade wars. What are our values? Well, there is a great difference between an American Republican and a Swedish Social Democrat. But if there would be anything to the talk of human rights in the West, we are miles away from the average Chinese.
Europe should then somehow sway Iran to their side a move that would block China's proxy fight. It is really important with a peaceful solution for this equation and it is very probable that Europe would win in fair competition with China in Iran. Interestingly, this would mean going China's way on Iran which is what China probably does not want the West to do. They gamble on conflict which suits them better. A friendly Iran means a friendly Turkey and friendly diasporas in Europe. It would make the Middle East more peaceful. Both Russia and China are trying to rule by divide in Europe. China sees itself starting a new Asian dynasty and would not mind a lower grade Eurabia, although I personally don't think there is a risk for this development.
However, due to a low interest by Europeans in the G1+G1 'affairs' and due to a problem of a disunited Europe, the EU should follow the lead of the US, while still acting alone. The problem is that if the elites of Europe realize this the average European is very local in her thinking, at least according to available statistics. Therefore I see a great need for an EU minister in Sweden that can paint up the greater picture for the Swedes in that they will become true Europeans. Without even a pan-European television channel and a common language, this is a very difficult job.
Letter From Europe - U.S. Slights a Disunited Europe - NYTimes.com: "Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain is facing an election campaign. Besides, he has little interest in Europe. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany have supported the United States in seeking stronger sanctions against Iran. Apart from that, neither leader has shown great interest in pursuing the further integration of Europe that is crucial for making the bloc more united in defense and security policy."
Judy Dempsey paints a disheartening picture of the idiom "two is company three is a crowd". Joschka Fischer, a former foreign minister of Germany, says that Guido Westerwelle, the present foreign minister, wants to form an axis of Poland, Germany and France, the so called Weimar triangle. He himself thinks there should be an axis Russia, Poland and Germany instead that can keep Ukraine democratic. Fischer seems to mean that the future of Europe, or an Eastern oriented Europe, where France and Great Britain is left for themselves. In the middle of this Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State, seems to think that there is only one Europe, but perhaps not, since President Obama does not want to show due to the disunity?
Then all of a sudden Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy pleasantly announce an integration document with 80 points on how they see further integration of central Europe possible. It is a ten year plan called the "2020 Agenda". Among other things it is meant that the number of College and Doctor's degrees is supposed to double at Franco-German universities during this time. Common school-books and simpler rules for Franco-German marriages are also planned. France is also going to support a seat for Germany at the UN Security Council.
Personally I believe in further integration of Europe, and to enter the current Swedish debate on whether or not Sweden should join the EMU, I do not believe Sweden needs further evaluations but should see this as a political decision. A Swedish referendum on the issue would produce a positive outcome according to polls right now.
What about the Dempsey-Fischer scenario? Well, Germany and Russia might very well continue doing business together but involving Russia politically in European affairs might not be such a good idea. I agree with Hillary Clinton's idea that a new security arrangement with Russia would just complicate matters. I guess Russia wants this for being able to shake off any attempts of letting Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Both Viktor Yanukovich and Julia Tymoshenko are steps backwards for Ukraine and time will tell whether or not they will become European or Russian. Politically, I don't think Russia ever will become European.
Does culture involve legalities? In Sweden we have a legal code that is supposed to be valid for everyone. At the same time there are, I will call them systems, of people that come together under certain principles and rules, not necessarily the same as those of the legal code. There are Jews, Catholics and all kinds of constellations. And then there are of course Muslims.
If I am not mistaken, Jews and Catholics don't insist on changing the Swedish law code. Catholics cannot change the abortion law for example. They are against abortion when the Swedish law code allows it. But a woman that has made an abortion is excluded from the weekly sermon community. A punishment not prescribed by the Swedish law code.
Equality before the law involves a single law code. In theory then having a Swedish law code means that there is a society, outside the system, to which the individual can move should they feel sufficiently suppressed. In practise, however, this often means loosing all relatives and friends.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Muslims are not unique in this respect. The question is whether or not people should be allowed to form systems of people. In an enlightened society this must be allowed. Therefore I don't understand why Mr Sayed wants to merge sharia and the Swedish law.
The latest Eubarometer is out that came in December 2009. I remain fascinated over the drastic interest in the environment by Sweden. A full 20%, top in the EU27, think the environment is important compared with a 4% interest for EU27. The data for EU27:Sweden are as follows:
Unemployment 51%:63% Economic situation 40%:30% Crime 19%:14% Rising prices/Inflation 19%:2% Health Care system 14%:26% Immigration 9%:9% Pensions 9%:6% Taxation 8%:3% The Educational system 7%:16% Housing 5%:3% Terrorism 4%:1% The Environment 4%:20% Energy 3%:6% Defence/Foreign Affairs 2%:1%
Unemployment has gone up from 26% to 49% in the last Eubarometer to 51% in this one and is the most talked about issue in the Swedish election debate that is starting up. The Alliance claims that it has become the same as prior to the last election 2006 due to good management whereas the Red-Greens talk about causation of unemployment due to erroneous politics which seems to be wrong.
Taxation, Rising Prices, Housing, Terrorism and Foreign Affairs are very unimportant in Sweden. I find this particularly interesting since taxation is the sole major difference between the two voting blocks for the election in September. Are we in effect moving towards a one-party system?
The low interest in Terrorism and Foreign Affairs show very well in the blogging activity on the subjects which are dismal. In the US, on the contrary, they are very concerned that some lunatic would carry aboard a nuclear bomb. Imposing freedom on people has its price. The elites ruling the EU, however, must be much more engaged in these matters than the average person answering the poll. There has been some writings about the new High Representative, Lady Ashton and her large staff, added as a consequence after the Lisbon Treaty of 2009. Only 2% of people are interested in what she does.
The high importance given to Crime worries me, although it is on a lowering trend. Denmark is worth noting, since we are neighbors. 39% of Danes think Crime is important versus 14% for Swedes and 19% for all the EU27 members.
I have listed the environment country by country before but it has changed somewhat so I list it again. Swedes are infatuated with the environment as could be seen in the media prior to the COP15 conference. Data were collected October, November 2009. Sweden, France and Finland all have a high proportion of their electricity produced by nuclear power. Denmark has a high proportion of electricity from wind power.
Sweden 20% Denmark 16% France 10% Malta 8% The Netherlands, Finland 7% The Rest 5% or below
According to my humble opinion it must be considered a problem that so few people are concerned about their political surroundings. It is going to make it difficult to build an EU with a defined place in the world.
EUobserver / Obama to skip EU-US summit in Madrid: "In a speech held in Paris last Friday, Ms Clinton however rejected the idea that 'the Obama administration is so focused on foreign policy challenges elsewhere in the world that Europe has receded in our list of priorities.'"
It looks like President Obama is not coming to the EU-US meeting in May that apparently is going to be held in Madrid due to the chairmanship of Spain. There has been some confusion as to it being placed in Brussels instead due to van Rompuy and Lady Ashton. Spain left it open, however, since dignitaries often show up at the last moment.
After reading the State of the Union speech I thought that since the treatment of the abroad was treated so summarily that we have now a US with an Interior Minister, Obama, and a Secretary of State, Clinton. The president is gone until the mid-term elections perhaps. Regular wisdom hold that when the President is gone there is not much clout in the Secretary of State.
What this might mean is that Europe might act more independently. Especially in the Middle East. After all, this more our neighborhood. I'm particularly thinking of Iran since Israel is a little more a US question due to the larger diaspora. After all Iran calls the US the "Great Satan" but does not have the same epithet for the EU. I would like to remind the audience of a report issued by ECFR or European Council of Foreign Relations, a think tank, called Towards a post-American Europe: A power audit of US-EU relations.
However, Siemens, the German world leading engineering company, has stated that they would stop signing new contracts in Iran coming mid-2010. This is a a reaction to the seizure of two German diplomats during the Ashura celebration for a tentative role in the uprisings. German exports to Iran had decreased 8% during January to November 2009 while the total German export went down 19% due to the financial crisis. It remains to be seen if Lady Ashton is going to have more luck in the diplomatic dealings with Iran than had Javier Solana.
Based on experience this would have to mean the discussion of something else than their nuclear program. However, it is possible that the P5+1 talks with Iran concerning this topic is being greased with the Taiwan arms sales by the US so as to make it easier for the Chinese to understand how the West feels about the risk involved with Iran? Hillary Clinton would need the Chinese vote in the UN Security Council for stronger sanctions.
With a basic education as a physician I turned to Tumor-Immunology Biochemistry research. I worked nearly 10 years at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. However, when I first came to Philadelphia in January 1984 I started a subscription on Foreign Affairs and later The Economist...