Well, it is a little over two months since I commented on the Greek financial crisis. The financial part in this crisis is on a slippery slope that there is not much to talk about. Confidence in Greece from the point of view of the markets is eroding. One of the three rating agencies has given Greek bonds the "junk" status. The other two are one notch away. Other countries like Portugal and Spain have also lost in their ratings.

More interesting is perhaps what is happening with Europe. We have two elections coming that both might be important for the future development. One in Britain May 6 and one in Germany May 9. The British election might be important for the outcome of the German one because it might go in an eurosceptic direction if the Tories win. Will Germany say good bye to Greece from the Eurozone then?

Some people are actually already saying that Greece will default on their loans. Investors will not get all their money back. They talk about a Lehman Brother's of Europe. What is happening in Europe? The European welfare model is falling apart or are we now to believe that only north of Europe can function economically in the present global environment?

Most people are not economists, I am one of them, but economists have not performed as of late. They are as bewildered as most of us. The funny thing is that in the middle of all this in Europe there exists a very strong voice for increasing expenses further to account for the environment. With one country dropping off after the other, is this something that Europeans are going to afford?

From the press of the latest 2 month it is clear that Germany is in charge. It is the largest country in the EU and they did reasonably well through the financial crisis. It is Wolfgang Schäuble that sits with Jean-Claude Trichet of the ECB and Domenique Strauss-Kahn of the IMF. What is it we Europeans want to hear from our leader, ie, the leader with most liberty at this point, Angela Merkel, at a time like this?

Well, maybe the Germans want to mind their own business from now on? They have paid a fortune into East Germany and know first hand how difficult it is to germanize or europeanize a country both economically and inspiration wise. The idea of a federal Europe is dead and buried according to most accounts. Maybe they think that we can make it alone in a globalized world but it is not possible to carry any dead weight?

That is probably the core of the matter. Is the average EU strong enough. A two speed Europe is already here. But will a two speed Europe really function? It is anathema to the welfare state model where the weak are helped along by the strong. My feeling is that Europe is at cross-roads. It is now or never.

The EEAS or European External Action Service headed by the high representative Lady Ashton, 7,000 able men and women, are not even in play yet to take care of EU foreign business. We were going to have a voice in the world but we just have to dump some of the ballast first? Everything that is not getting our common act together is going to look rather silly by observers in the world at large.


Are you Spiritual or are you Religious?

Survey: 72% of Millennials 'more spiritual than religious' - USATODAY.com: "If the trends continue, 'the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships,' says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. In the group's survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% say they're 'really more spiritual than religious.'"

Americans do not seem to become more secular. Rather they distance themselves from the Church into something spiritual if the above poll is correct. I wonder if it is the traditional Congregation, 50% of Americans are known to go to Church every week, that is losing the grip on the young? This could mean that the family unit is breaking up and that individuals are becoming part of other groups?

Henri Bergson (1859-1941) talked about a direction in life. Striving to higher forms. Striving to consciousness. Indeed, life represents an increase in order against the thermodynamic law that states that everything is striving to less order.

Spirituality, can be interpreted as what Nature is. We are not talking about ideas as such but about the phenomena that constitutes Nature, which are not only a substance. The God of Bergson is creativity. It is interesting because business today, more than before, strives after "innovation". Maybe the youth of today are trying to catch this high-speed train which mean they have to shake the Church and its dogmatic character?

People have opinions on the interpretation of the second law of thermodynamics.


Thoughts on Communications

Sweden is a small export oriented country that is highly dependent on how it is linked to other countries in the world. The volcano Eyjafjallajökull debacle has given us a feeling, some say, of how life without flights would be.

People say that we should fly less in the future. I must say that the idea of flying is so powerful that I cannot imagine a world without flights. People say that we should replace flying with trains, for the environment's sake.

High speed trains have the advantage that they don't start at a position outside the city and that they are more comfortable in other ways. However, people say that in a small country like Sweden with a dispersed population they will not be economical. We dont know how they will work in the winter either. The Swedish Press so far doesn't seem to be able to make up their mind if it is a good investment to pour 200bn crowns into this project or not. Apparently it is advicable to start out with smaller test lines for evaluation if there is enough people that would use it for it to function.

Then there is the car. This absolutely ideal vehicle for furthering the quest of the individual. I look forward to electric cars. According to The Economist the engines are going to sit on each wheel and the suspension has therefore to change dramatically. Such a car was envisioned already a hundred years ago by Ferdinand Porsche.

My conclusion is that trains are perhaps good between the larger cities but then the car and the airplane would be used elsewhere. In due time these modes of transportation will be environmentally exquisite.

Ukrainian Democracy?

Smoke bomb and eggs thrown in Ukraine parliament - Telegraph: "Ukrainian nationalists, led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former President Viktor Yushchenko, regard the base as a betrayal of Ukraine's national interests. They wanted to remove it when the existing lease runs out in 2017. But parliament ratified the lease extension with 236 votes - 10 more than the minimum required for it to pass."

Carl Bildt pointed out in his blog from Tallinn recently that there would be noise concerning the extension of the lease of the Sebastopol navy base on Crimea. He was right!

When she narrowly lost the presidential election Yulia Tymoshenko charged for election fraud. She later withdrew the suit beause, as she said, it will not be possile to prove...even if she had proof of fraud. I guess eggs and smoke bombs is one way of complaining today that we might see more of in the future?


21.5% extremists in the Austrian election

Voters give far right a drubbing in Austria presidential election / The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com: "Mr. Fischer, formerly with the Social Democrats, garnered nearly 78 percent of the vote. Rosenkranz came in a distant second with 15.5 percent. Rudolf Gehring, leader of the newly formed Christian Party, received nearly 6 percent of the vote."

The other former partner in the Austrio-Hungarian empire Hungary displayed an extremist party Jobbik that caught 17% of the popular vote in a recent election. As in Austria another party, Fidesz, polarized and got a large part of the vote. The Danish People's Party which also alienates foreigners, got 13.8% of the vote in the 2007 year election. In Sweden, Sverigedemokraterna, is consistently getting over 4% in the polls which might mean that they could enter the parliament in this years election.

These numbers are too high in my humble opinion. People try to put the lid on but the problem remains although the CSMonitor claims the extremists parties in Austria are not popular among the young. We have to remember that Barbara Rosenkrantz ran for president on a ticket that would have changed the law against Holocaust denial. When a person claims she represents the freedom of denying the Holocaust, and gets 15.5% of the vote, something is really not alright. This is Europe, not the Islamic Republic.


The Localisation of Belgium?

At the same time as the government became more unpopular in the US, around 1970, the break-up of Belgium began. We can see the result of this in the current government coalition problem a couple of months before Belgium is to lead the EU for half a year under its old PM Herman van Rompuy. The Flemish Liberal Party left the coalition. There are speculations that this might depend on the anti-face cover of Muslim women vote.

In 1970, Belgium's first state reform took place. Three cultural communities were established: The Dutch Cultural Community, The French Cultural Community and the German Cultural Community.

In 1980, the second state reform was undertaken. The Cultural Communities became Communities. The Flemish Community, The French Community and The German-speaking Community. These communities took care of cultural matters as well as health and youth matters. Two Regions were also established: The Flemish Region and the Walloon Region.

The third state reform was undertaken in 1988 and 1989. The Brussels-Capital Region was established with its own regional institutions. Education matters were transferred to the Communities.

In 1993, during the fourth state reform, Belgium was turned into a fully-fledged federal state. More power was given to the Communities and the regions which now elected directly to their parliaments. There was also a reformation of the Federal Parliament's bicameral system and the relations between the federal parliament and federal government.

In 2001, the fifth state reform took place with more transfer of duties to the Communities and the Regions. There is now demands of a sixth reform after deliberations in 2007.

I wonder if the "Öresunds Region" in Denmark-Sweden is going to become independent? Like the Brussel's Capital Region. There are 3.7m people living there which is three times the population of Estonia. Maybe this is too large though? Olof Palme was the one that started out in Sweden around 1970. Was his death in 1986 related to the changes he brought?


The Special Relationship?

Democracy in America The Economist: "The truth is that Sarah Palin would be laughed out of Britain, while David Cameron would be kicked out of the Republican party. Barack Obama might just about fit on the Labour benches, but many of his Democratic colleagues wouldn’t. It's just not that useful to compare the British and American political landscapes at the moment."

Defining a special relationship at the moment is thus not easy. However, it seem like the europhile movement by Nick Clegg, he is even for the EMU, and the Liberal Democrats is antagonistic to the US in that Clegg, according to Democracy In America, think the special relationship between the US and Britain is over.

Gordon Brown is acting for a special relationship. He wants to increase the educational cooperation between the two countries and send Englishmen to the US for study and vice versa. If you use the EU profiles web site, constructed for the EU parliament election and based on 30 questions with weights, to determine where Labour stands in Sweden it seems like it is more like Moderaterna than Socialdemokraterna.

After two tries, a week apart, I end up right on target for Moderaterna in Sweden which, if you look, is closer to Labour than the Conservatives. I therefore then would chose Gordon Brown for PM in Britain. He is also the only person with good enough experience, the only true statesman, for these troubled times. I have gotten the feeling that Labour indeed is closer to Moderaterna than Socialdemokraterna also from other sources.


New Cold War?

Some recent articles that would speak in this direction:

Ukraine and Russia to extend Black Sea fleet lease

Russia's new push for power

Russia is said to have fuelled unrest in Kyrgyzstan

Iran Sanctions' Status

Editorial - Iran, Sanctions and Mr. Gates’s Memo - NYTimes.com: "There, the news is not good. While Russian and Chinese leaders told Mr. Obama that they will work seriously on new sanctions, diplomats say their representatives are already seeking ways to dilute any resolution. Brazil and Turkey, which currently sit on the Security Council and have a lot of international sway, also are resisting."

If you look back a while, there is a picture emerging of an endless discussion of talks, sanctions and bombs when it comes to Iran. The point were Iran would have a nuclear weapon capability is pushed forward all the time--in absurdum. Apparently the distinction between a nuclear capable Iran and the one today cannot even be discussed in the open. However, the window of opportunity is slowly closing now when Brazil and Turkey are against sanctions as well. Many would agree that something has to be done and it seems evident that Europe has to make up its mind if it wants to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or if it still is in NATO? The problems in Afghanistan are linked to those in Israel/Palestine and Iraq. Iran is the key.

The waves in Europe have recently been geared at giving the view that the world has become a true multipolar entity. It seems to fit Europe to want to disappear from view among themselves and to express an intense urge to be left alone in peace. In the mean time, countries like Russia is meddling in the world as detailed in an article by Bronwen Maddox at the Times. Security arrangements with Russia ought to be out of question as suggested in an article by Ben Knight in Deutsche Welle.

I think I wrote something yesterday but I can't resist writing a little today about what I think is very important, that Europe realizes that the US is the only friend they have. The Russia friendliness as of late in Europe seems to disregard totally the mental power fight surrounding the Iran case between the two power blocks that were detailed by Robert Kagan in the presidential election debate of 2008. It is a serious breach of confidence with the US, who seem to want to work along the line of striking deals with Russia and China on security issues which are not possible if they are not of the token quality recently seen in removing nuclear missiles.

An article in Washington Post yesterday claimed it was time to pack up and leave Afghanistan, and to give up American influence in the World altogether, but that probably also means that you loose the other Middle Eastern fights to a resurgent Iran. Fareed Zakaria who wrote the book The Post-American World still think the fight in Afghanistan is worth its while and he also think people should go more easy on Hamid Karzai for its facilitation. He also suggested that this was in part for the sake of India which he hails from. Trans-Atlantic influence in the world remains very important.

Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that we are dealing with a new Cold War. Between countries that don't know how to behave and those who do. Between countries that have decent governments with low corruption and those who don't. Between democracy and authoritarianism. Again, the key is Iran and we eagerly await the destabilization of its suppressive rule.


The Afghanistan problem

Nej till kriget Ledare Aftonbladet: "Sammanblandningen mellan USA:s krig mot terrorismen och FN:s Isaf-styrka, som ska bidra med säkerhet och utbilda afghansk polis och militär och möjliggöra humanitära insatser, är djupt problematisk. Att FN-styrkan dessutom leds av Nato och av en amerikansk general gör inte saken bättre."

Aftonbladet, the newspaper that accused Israel of killing Palestinians and stealing their organs, claims that there is a problem because civilian mores are mixed up with America's war against terrorism in Afghanistan. However, we are not just fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan we are also fighting Iran. Like the US was doing and are doing in Iraq. Iran has chosen to wage a clandestine war against all West's interests in the region. They support Hamas and Hizbollah. They have infiltrated Iraq and they train, lodge and equip fighters that aid the Taliban. Even if they have not formally attacked another country they are expansive and thusly want to propagate their revolution.

Much of the fighting morale for the Taliban is probably coming from the knowledge that Iran supports them. Michael Rubin a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and lectures at the Naval Postgraduate School and at Johns Hopkins University writes and article which elaborates the case for a regime change in Iran. I have earlier thought that the only way forward was a non-sanction approach on Iran but I have reassessed this position to surgical sanctions engineered for targeting only the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Robert Gates, the American Defence Secretary, recently brought up the problem of how to approach the situation Iran's nuclear program is causing. What is new with Rubin's approach is that he rules out bombing which is thought to only irritate and anger those positive to the West that are the prerequisite for a regime change. It is indeed problematic with Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and with their attitude they have caused a terrible situation in the Middle East. It would be very good if a new government in Iran would decide to not develop nuclear weapons.

Afghanistan might be insignificant when it comes to commerce but it is situated in an important area where the interests of the US, Russia and China meet. Kyrgyzstan is apparently starting to feel the pressure as well. It harbors both Russian and American bases and the actions of Russia as of late indicates that Russians what the American base shut. Public relations wise Russia is doing terribly well recently in Europe. President Medvedev's deft flight to Krakow through the Icelandic ashes when European chiefs of state huddled in cars and cessnas certainly impressed. However, when push comes to showe they are probably friends of the Islamic Republic to whom they sell important air defence systems that protects them against potential Western assaults. As the development of Central Asia proceeds by Russia and China, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan are a way to the sea half ways as India also have taken note of since they have entered into Afghanistan with quite some funds.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, recently exclaimed that he'd join the Taliban if not so and so but at the same time he says he needs funds for his security forces until 2014. As long as Iran keeps up their covert operations, the war in Afghanistan can drag on for quite some time. Sweden should definitely stay and support the US together with other NATO forces and the purchase of American helicopters to support our troops is well seen. It is my belief that Afghans are better off in the West than in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. A stable Afghanistan is also going to have positive effects on security in Pakistan.


Found an interesting Pew poll on how Americans view their government. Approval of government has been up and down twice since Jimmy Carter ran it to the bottom. Reagan brought it up and Bush I brought it down again, with a spike for the Dessert Storm. Then Clinton brought it up and Bush II brought it down, with a spike for 9/11, to where it is now. Obama, or is the financial crisis and its management, have not raised it. At least not yet.

What is striking, however, is that quite a few, one in four would not mind if a state wanted to secede. There is a tendency that this willingness has increased lately.

Prior to Carter the approval of government came down from the heights of Kennedy. It stayed down with the above mentioned fluctuations. Was it the Vietnam War or was it something else?

I think it was the same thing that reveresed the dream of a United States of Europe.


Change of attitude in former Soviet republics between 1991 and 2009

The change in approval (%) to multiparty system 1991/2009/change for the following countries was:

East Germany 91/85/-6
Czech Rep. 80/80/0
Slovakia 70/71/+1
Poland 66/70/+4
Hungary 74/56/-18
Lithuania 75/55/-20
Russia 61/53/-8
Bulgaria 76/52/-24
Ukraine 72/30/-42

The change in approval (%) to a market economy was:

East Germany 86/82/-4
Czech Rep. 87/79/-8
Slovakia 69/66/-3
Poland 80/71/-9
Hungary 80/46/-34
Lithuania 76/50/-26
Russia 54/50/-4
Bulgaria 73/53/-20
Ukraine 52/36/-16

There is on DN.se today an article about the political situation in Hungary by Ervin Rosenberg where a more gloomy picture than the one I accounted for the other day is painted. In this context it is interesting to note that Hungary is the most disillusioned country with respect to the introduction of a market economy. 80% approved of it in 1991 whereas only 46% approved of it in 2009. A difference of 34%.

74% approved of a change to a multiparty system whereas now only 56% approve of it. A change of 18%. What follows from this might mean, as suggested by Mr Rosenberg is that Fidesz, the party that won some 53% of the vote in the recent elections might try to emulate past times and indeed be, as Mr Rosenberg suggests an authoritative, nationalistic and populistic party.

Most disillusioned of all are however Ukraine.

Great Britain--Club Med--GPR axis?

A Franco-Italian axis in Europe? EurActiv: "An unusual Franco-Italian duo has emerged in recent weeks to influence EU decisions on everything ranging from aid to Athens to climate change, as Germany appears increasingly reluctant to take any new major European initiatives."

Apparently Silvio Berlusconi and Nicolas Sarkozy found each other in the recent debate on how to deal with the predicament of Greece. Together they forced Angela Merkel to accept a 5% interest rate for loans rather than the market level on approximately 7.5%. A subsidy according to the German voters and actually not allowed according to EU rules, thus an inkling of federalism despite the rulings of Germany's Constitutional Court.

New formations are being probed now in the wake of the Greek debt crisis. The English press now also discusses the German-Polish-Russian axis. We are talking about some 240m people, half of EU just counting GPR, with a large chunk of the European GDP. The question is if the appreciation of these new power divisions are already trickling down to the public in Britain since the EU and even Euro friendly Liberal Democrats are doing so well right now? A last minute attempt to catch the train? I would not be so sure myself though, since I don't think Russia has changed much since Georgia. Poland probably is in an unholy alliance where Scylla and Charybdis are preying on each other each with different thoughts in mind for the future? The EU project was much more of a sunshine story. My feeling is that Russia wants to politically control its former Soviet states but want EU to provide FDI. The recently elected Mr Yanukovich of Ukraine made his first trip to EU not the Kremlin despite being a Ukrainian that only speak Russian, not Ukrainian.

The Swedish Election debate should include a discussion on the new GPR reality. Sweden and Finland gave their blessings to the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany, but probably not to Russia. Is Sweden reverting to a neutrality politics or are they entering into a new discussion on the earlier suggested security arrangements involving Russia. Dimitry Medvedev, the Russian president, have been wanting to bring these discussions up but have been discouraged by Hilary Clinton, the US State Department head. The uncertainty of the foreign policy of the Red-Green alliance due to 'Vänsterpartiet', the Left Party, might not mind such a development. Anders Fogh Rasmussen have even suggested that NATO should engage Russia in a missile defence against Iran. Where is Sweden on this not being a NATO member? Perhaps Russia and Germany are already so involved with each other on much of the regional development that NATO remains a simple paper tiger? In this case Merkel might soon pop the question if Sweden is in or out.

What about Britain then? Ross Douthat on the New York Times discuss the Tories in his latest column. The Tories are not really in bed with the American GOP, if I understand it correctly. What is important for the above discussion though is the relative euroscepticism of the Tories. David Cameron removed his party from the EPP group in the European parliament seemingly to distance himself from Sarkozy and Merkel. The move is part of the precipitation of the GPR axis. I have been trying to understand Cameronism, his "Big Society". It seems like it is more political philosophy than something practical that would bring Britain back in shape. Why would Big Society need Cameron? Politicians are taking care of the state, be it Small Government. Is he trying to say Popes and Politicians unite?


The Taliban wants to become "siloviks" in a future Afghanistan?

Taliban’s supreme leader signals willingness to talk peace - Times Online: "Abdul Rashid [a Taliban] said: “We didn’t have the capability to govern the country and we were surprised by how things went. We lacked people with either experience or technical expertise in government. Now all we’re doing is driving the invader out. We will leave politics to civil society and return to our madrasahs [religious schools]."

In another world I encountered people that said "we have the power in our hands". I said: that's fine but what are you going to do with it? This is how I see the siloviks. They have the power but no charisma and knowledge to inspire and lead the people. They istead rule by threats when their "religious" visions are threatened. It indeed sounds like Ahmadinejad has been talking to them.


Poland and Hungary--New type of communism?

Poland: Out of tragedy, normality The Economist: "The suspicion lingers that the country’s old communist elite and their children have morphed into a new nomenklatura. Poles call this idea the Uklad, an all-but-untranslatable word meaning “deal”, “arrangement” or “system”. The price of the communist surrender in 1989 was that the old elite was able to turn its power into wealth, using connections, slush funds and privileges to gain a head start in the country’s shift to capitalism. The Kaczynskis found that idea repellant. They wanted a fresh start and called it a "Fourth Republic"."

Well, Victor Orban, the probable new prime minister of Hungary, started out in the Communist party and in Poland the Uklad is powerful. Perhaps it would be appropriate here to mention the fact the China is ruled by a Communist party.

My fear is that instead of having free people following their individualistic drives building Cameronian "Big Societies" there might be a new type of steering mechanism in play that make things work, for a while. A state in the state on a black economy?

If Europe now is entering a new phase where the ever closer union is replaced by an ever surer disjunction, in the wake of the defining Greece debt crisis, countries like Hungary could be come disillusioned because they have had, according to the Eurobarometer poll, greater confidence in the institutions of the EU rather than in their own. Furthermore, they have not like East Germany been refurbish by a trillion Euro infusion that still have not normalized the situation in the now eastern parts of Germany.

I can hear old communists, out of less loss of pride, say we did not just have the tools required?


The ill-matched pair Fidesz and Jobbik

Ungern går åt höger Utrikes SvD: "Orban startade sin politiska karriär som politisk sekreterare i kommunistpartiets ungdomsförbund. Men redan innan kommunismens fall 1989 blev han en av reformrörelsens förgrunds- gestalter. 1988 tillhörde han grundarna av Fidesz, ett ursprungligen högerliberalt parti som numera är ett högercenterparti med kristdemokratisk orientering."

Hungary has had an election and Fidesz, led by Victor Orban, the new prime minister, won the first round with 53% of the vote. They might reach a two thirds majority of the seats in the second round on April 25. The socialists, MSZP, that has ruled the last 8 years only got 19%, their worst result ever. However, Jobbik a party that has campaigned on an anti-Roma, anti-Semitic and nationalist/expansive agenda got 17%. A sign of the times was that the green party LMP entered parliament with some 7% of 5% needed.

Fidesz, which last ruled between 1998 and 2002, has promised to create a million jobs, in a 10m country, and to reform a complicated tax system as well as curing the black economy. In 2008 the Socialists had to consult the IMF for a €20bn loan and has thus suffered from the following austerity measures which led to the right shift of politics. It is now important that Hungary makes economic progress during the new leadership so that further interest in the extreme right party Jobbik is not fuelled. Worries in Germany, Hungary's main trade partner, and Britain for the development of this party have been voiced. In December 2009 the party set up a London branch for a collaboration with the British BNP and other European parties for securing EU tax support. Studio Ett, the Swedish radio program, however informed that the small extreme right parties of Europe generally are very local and have had problems of actually forming a coalition in the European parliament such as liberals, socialists and conservatives have done.

Despite the Socialist governing the gap between rich and poor has widened during their reign. The tax increases and lowering of pensions that they had done to conform to the IMF directives ironically have mad people step to the right. The Socialists are leaving 11% unemployment, 6% inflation, a GDP drop 2009 of 6.3%. However, Hungary, due to its good record in science and technology, has had the largest Foreign Direct Investment per capita of the region. €60bn has entered. Western multinationals complain that there are problems with recruitment of people with good language skills in English something that might coincide with the fact that the nationalistic Jobbik party is strong among the young and at universities. A localisation trend that might work against a pro-Western stance.

The party Jobbik describes themselves as a principled, conservative and radically patriotic Christian party. Their web site claim that their anti-Roma stance is just against criminal Roma and that their anti-semitism is rather anti-Israel colonisation. However, their meetings feature para-miliatry looking types with similarity to the Hungarian Arrow Cross fascistic World War II movement. They claim that they are not fascistic. They are allied in the European parliament with the British National Party. Jobbik Chairman Gabor Vona said after the election that they would "conduct a very distinct and very spectacular politics". He also said "we are not going to conduct a peaceful and almost invisible politics with these 17%". There has been a discussion of whether Jobbik is going to scare away external financing and estrange Hungary in the EU.


Sudan--a Chinese Affair?

Sudan's election: Let those people go The Economist: "Just in the west and the south together, more than 9m people depend on food handouts from abroad. Mr Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity."

The 41m strong Sudan, to the area the largest African country, is about to break into two parts. Omar al-Bashir has promised that the south may secede. The north Muslim part with the capital city Khartoum and the south Christian and animist rebel part with the town Juba. 20% of the Sudanese import comes from China and they export 48% of their goods, mainly petroleum products, to the same. 32% of the export goes to Japan. al-Bashir runs the oil business from Khartoum which is quite developed. The periphery of the country is, however, in very poor shape. Transparency International ranks Sudan with Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq in terms of corruption, ie, the bottom four in the rank.

In 2005 after the longest civil war in Africa with 2m dead, the so called Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed between the north National Congress party (NCP) of al-Bashir and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) of the semi-autonomous south. As part of the deal was an election for democratization that happened this weekend. 25% of candidates in the parliament would be women. However, the so called Umma party, the Communists and the SPLM have boycotted the election due to overt fraud in the set-up which makes it a walk in the park for Mr Bashir at the same time as its relevance is minimalized.

Mr Bashir who came to power in a coup 1989 is supposed to be what keeps Sudan a notch over Somalia and his presence, despite the ICC warrant, is necessary for not inciting chaos his supporters claim. Early next year there is supposed to be a referendum held for the possibility of the secession of the south. Independence is not going to make the south prosper in the short run, unfortunately. A somewhat pessimistic account of the election is given in this New York Times article. Considered a warm-up for the referendum it has given a bitter taste.


The communist ghost is still alive

Putin Observes Anniversary of Katyn Killings - NYTimes.com: "Some Russian leaders have continued Soviet responsibility for the murders, even though Russia released archival documents in 1992 showing that Stalin's politbureau ordered the massacre in March 1940. Russia’s Communist Party chastised Mr. Putin on Wednesday for “going to Katyn to apologize.” In a statement on its Web site, the party said, “You can apologize as much as you want about the so-called Soviet guilt, but no one can hide the fact of German responsibility for the shootings of Polish soldiers.”"

Well, Putin did not give an official apology and said that the Russian people were not at fault. It was 22,000 people that vanished. It seems like this is not significant compared to the 25m Russians that died during the war. Hitler did not factor in such a sacrifice.

Not so well known in Sweden and perhaps most of all a Polish tragedy, the massacre was first blamed on Germany because the Soviets were allies with the West against them, then later allies against Japan. Today Russia has laid formal evidence on the table and Putin's gesture of going there might have new meanings in the present axis of Germany-Poland-Russia described by Joschka Fischer, a former foreign minister of Germany, recently in an article on DN.se. Such a formation is going to put divisional stress on Poland. There will be German friends and Russian friends and no friends at all.

So, it is a little hard to see whether Vladimir Putin is mildly remorseful towards Poland or if he is signalling responsibility towards Germany. In the best of worlds it could be a sign of rapprochement between Poland and Russia that the old Communists apparently tease Putin about with their reference to Canossa. In the worst case Putin is just saying I can go this far but not longer.

The gesture might, however, be enough to smoothen the Russia-EU ties which are often hampered by Polish-Russian animosities. It follows the September 2009 condemnation of the Nazi-Soviet pact that led to the partition of Poland in 1939. Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, has also indicated the importance of good ties with their neighbor Poland. Studio Ett on the Swedish public radio claims that Polish media saw the meeting between Putin and Tusk, the Polish PM, as a Polish propaganda victory.


Spring is here!

The Sun shone finally this enlightened season and I had a coffe outside at the harbor café. There was not really much warmth in the Sun and a cold wind blew. A few boats passed by but I had to have another cup at home to warm myself up after this years outdoor première.

Apparently other people are also thinking on the perennial question "Vart är vi på väg?". One escapist disappeared in culture and this is an old trick when it comes to flight from reality.

Another became geopolitical and started to divide Europe into the Germanic and Slavic, bar Britain, and the Latin. Britain I guess will remain in its historical cradle, in splendid isolation. Especially now when the US has a Pacific president. Deutsche Welle, however, said the other day that France and Britain are talking defence together. According to Montesquieu the Nordic countries belong among the German länder. I am not so sure. What is interesting is if the predicted fusion of Eastern Europe with Russia and Germany is going to become smooth. They have been bent rather to America.

Dividing Europe up in new functional constellations is probably an irritating pastime to some that still believe it is possible to fuse the different cultures further. This was an excellent goal for Europe as long at it functioned. Now separate goals will begin to crystallize and the question is if history is going to repeat itself. The division is not just geopolitical there are philosophical bounds. The German philosophers created marxism and nazism. The English liberalism. Now, after a financial crisis in liberalism, Germany is going to modernize Russia and according to some they want the Baltic region with them. Theoretically a new cultural region post-1989. So what is your enthusiasm for this new development?

After giving up on the EU project, I have begun to think that maybe Sweden is best poised in another peninsular splendid isolation with its old neutrality politics, peace and feminism line of work. Germany is one third Catholic. Poland more so. This does not mix well. The non-EMU Norway and Britain are closer. Germany is however our largest trade partner. This is another reason for why a splendid isolation could be the best--it is not possible to chose.

So I end up with the problem of choosing the new government. It would probably be best and let Anders Borg finish our exodus from the financial crisis along the lines he has been so far. Changing strategy in the middle can only be bad. However, the Red-Greens offer that splendid isolation. We should have a woman PM, of course, and a vice-PM environmentalist. A Red-Green government would replace religion in our secular country with egalitarian environmentalism. A devout nation.


Where are we heading?

The Election for Change -Times Online: "Yet while the idea that it is time for a change has many advocates — even the Government puts itself forward as a champion of change — there is remarkably little agreement over what it is time to change to. What sort of Britain do we want? What vision for this country are we being offered?"

I'm reading this somewhat up-beat discussion of where the Times want the UK to move in the future. In Sweden we seem to want the job-line or the handout-line. However, I don't seem to recall that I have heard what these mechanistic objectives should lead. The visions of the two blocks please? And please end the technobabble on TV?

Is Sweden going to side with Norway and the UK and stand by the side of the EU and EMU? Sweden seems to be split on this issue. We don't speak with one voice, like the EU. However, the US, masters of one voice speak, nowadays speak with many voices as well. It's Republican, Democrat, Independent and Tea Party advocate and even recently the military who claim Israel is dangerous to their soldiers.

Another question is whether Sweden is going to follow the lead of Denmark that led to the top NATO job or if we are going back to neutrality politics? Denmark has lost over thirty soldiers in the wars and is more hardened than the Swedes today. Carl Bildt today confirms that the Parliament of Sweden is not in charge in a comment on our security politics on his blog. We have apparently not had a firm grasp of what we have been doing earlier. Perhaps we are split on that one as well? It would be interesting of Fredrik Reinfeldt followed up on Bildt's comment with a note on trashing our constitution.

The Swedish election differ from the British on one very important matter--the economy. I have a feeling that the Conservatives are not to keen on taking over the financial situation and that Labour rather wants to continue at the helm to weather the storm they are in. In Sweden it seems like Social Democrats have disappeared and that we will get environmental stuff with a foreign policy from the Left party.

The British election might end up becoming hung, as they say, and there will be a possibility that the Liberal Democrats, the third largest party, might side with Labour and form a coalition. We have the Sverige Democrats instead. Apparently 4-5% of the Swedish population is supposed to be treated like paria so they are not likely to side permanently on either side.

People in Sweden have a vision of a society that is gender equal which is interesting and possibly good if it materializes naturally. Apparently the quotation rule for boards in Norway has led to an exodus from Sweden of highly talented women that have made the Norwegian quota possible. There were not enough women in Norway. I'm against such quotations but I like the idea of a gender equal society. However, I would predict that we are going back to a neutrality politics in our foreign policy in this case and distance ourselves from the EU. Hilary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, claims that gender equality around the world is a matter of national security for the US.

So, unlike many countries in the EU Sweden could look forward-- especially if we we plan for ourselves. The economy is good. We are well on the way on the Green trail. We are a superpower in international aid, they say. We spend our 3% on research even if there seems to be problems of spending them wisely. However, we don't have enough jobs. Can you imagine that? There is not enough for people to do, especially young people. This is a mystery to me.


Europe 1859 and now?

On Liberty/Chapter 3 - Wikisource: "The modern regime of public opinion is, in an unorganized form, what the Chinese educational and political systems are in an organized; and unless individuality shall be able successfully to assert itself against this yoke, Europe, notwithstanding its noble antecedents and its professed Christianity, will tend to become another China."

John Stuart Mill writes this in 1859 in his book On Liberty, still in print today, and the book of office of the Liberal Democrats in the UK. It bothered Mill that Europe seemed bent to become ruled by the tyranny of mediocrity, the masses.

Today we have acknowledged that the masses did not turn out to become tyrannical but understanding as to the need of innovation. Even the Chinese speak of it but does not agree on how it should be fostered. Furthermore the masses are not considered mediocre since politicians, even if they are not eccentric or exceptionally high IQ, have a political intelligence important for resonance with the masses. We speak also about the wisdom of the masses.

What is interesting though is the almost spastic talk about innovation today in the "modern regime for public opinion". My question would be if it is possible to increase innovation in the West? We can perhaps increase the per capita education but do we at the same time increase the per capita innovation? If I am right we would be able to increase our ability to capitalize on innovations but not increase their numbers in a given population. People are nervous these days because China and India are bringing in more people from poverty and are thus increasing their innovation per capita.

What can we do then to stay competitive? Well, if Europe will become another China, as Mill feared, he meant static for centuries, we will start treating people non-individualistically. We would start locking people up in collectives. We would prevent free discussion, something Mill also warned against. We would prevent freedom of thought and like the Catholic church rely totally on dogmatic tradition.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a contemporary of John Stuart Mill and he famously said "gather from far every ray of various genius to our hospitable halls". This is why America today is more competitive. They import talent to increase their per capita innovation. Just increasing the amount of money you spend on innovation is not going to do the trick. Europe must become hospitable to foreigners and empower the individual.


David Cameron: Big Society not Big Government

David Cameron: My credo for my country - Telegraph: "And Labour’s top-down Government will make our broken society worse, not better. So we will create an army of community organisers, independent of the state, to build the Big Society – where people come together to solve their own problems"

Is this the Tea Party of the UK? Cameron's Tories are up 9.5% on Labour in the polls so this could become reality. I'm a little wary of the "army" connotation of the community organizers. To me this sounds like a revolution of sorts. A coup? There is critique for it in The Guardian.

Cameron says "we want every adult to be part of an active neighborhood group". This would fix the "broken society" according to Cameron. He also says "Indeed there is a worrying paradox that because of its effect on personal and social responsibility, the recent growth of the state has promoted not social solidarity, but selfishness and individualism. Society is "atomised" Cameron says. I'm not sure what he means by this. People are becoming net-worked over larger distances via the internet by themselves and are perhaps not so 'neighborhoody' any longer.

To the best of my understanding there seems to be something already competing with and army of community organizers? It would also be very interesting to know how these organizers would be selected and if they would be coordinated and in this case by whom.

This is some new form of collectivistic conservatism that I find weird. Cameron's position in the EU and the intense Eurosceptism in his party would with these new ideas on how to organize oneself really move the UK to the sides in Europe. Or would it? Sweden's potential brokenness would be the partition with the "outsideship". Would a Big Society remove the outsideship in Sweden or would it just organize it?