Memorial Day

A day like this when suicide bomb types have caused a major and tragic debacle in the sea outside Gaza, it might sound excentric to celebrate Memorial Day. As I earlier discussed, however, I am grateful to the service men and women that have helped secure this thus rather peaceful corner of the Earth and I'm proud of the Swedish soldiers that help out in Afghanistan.

Showing empathy for the Israelis a day like this when we clearly see what a hostile environment they are immersed in, stresses how fortunate we are in Sweden and how grateful we should be. Sometimes I wonder if the hate displayed against Israel is not partly anti-Americanism in disguise?

Turkey seemingly is becoming a problem in the region. People there made a run on an Israeli consulate. Despite being a NATO member, the Turkish people do not look favorably on the US according to a recent Gallup poll. Their problem with Israel has also increased lately. I wondered a while ago which way power went between the friends Iran and Turkey. It seems unfortunately like Turkey is copying the proxy mode of fighting Israel that Iran has used via Hamas and Hizbollah.


State sponsored Ship-to-Gaza flotilla challenges Israel

Skepp fullastade med charlataner - Debatt - Expressen.se: "I likhet med sina medorganisatörer liknar Mankell Hamas terrorister vid antinazistiska motståndsrörelser och Israel vid det nazistiska Tyskland"

Caroline B. Glick, from the Jerusalem Post via Expressen gives an interesting background to the attempt to land 8 ships with aid in Gaza and thus break the blockade Israel is doing on Hamas' criminal ruling of Gaza that in all probability aims to attack Israel anew. Hamas is against the existence of Israel and instead of building a peaceful commune with foreign aid they three years ago started to turn Gaza into a rocket ramp.

This is probably an attempt to generate an international response against Israel like the one after Operation Cast Lead where Israel lost a lot of its political capital although they had the right to defend themselves. There is now, as there was then many Israelis that want the blockade to end. However, as long as the government stands I think they should determine what the best course of action to take on Israel's security is.

According to shiptogaza.se Carl Bildt, the foreign minister of Sweden, and Caroline Ashton, EU's High representative, have supported ending the blockade. Having an opinion is one thing but causing trouble for the Israeli government I guess is another. As Lady Ashton recently visited Gaza, two rockets were fired on Israel one of which killed an Israeli.

It is going to be interesting to see what the impact is of the new National Security Dotrine of the US. Because the US are going to deal with Europe country by country and think the EU can be good for aiding the Eastern European countries. It remains to be seen what influence the opinions of the high representative will have in the future. Peter Wolodarski writes today on DN.se about the importance of EU for the international voice of Sweden. I would not be surprised if the voice of Sweden alone is not more influential than that of Lady Ashton's.


The land of the free and the home of the brave?

US National Security Doctrine 2010

Excerpts from the text which emphasizes resilience over freedom. Key to success is a revitalization of the US economy. I guess continued magnetism for talent is also paramount if the US wants to remain a leader in innovation.

P3—”We must educate our children to compete in an age where knowledge is capital, and the marketplace is global.”
P3—“We must pursue science and research that enables discovery, and unlocks wonders as unforeseen to us today as the surface of the moon and the microchip were a century ago. Simply put, we must see American innovation as a foundation of American power.”
P5—“Our long-term security will come not from our ability to instill fear in other peoples, but through our capacity to speak to their hopes.”
P9—“This strategy recognizes the fundamental connection between our national security, our national competitiveness, resilience, and moral example.”
P10—“America’s commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law are essential sources of our strength and influence in the world.”
P13—“Instead, we see it as fundamental to our own interests to support a just peace around the world—one in which individuals, and not just nations, are granted the fundamental rights that they deserve.”
P13—“And we recognize economic opportunity as a human right, and are promoting the dignity of all men and women through our support for global health, food security, and cooperatives responses to humanitarian crises.”
P15—”Nonstate actors can have a dramatic influence on the world around them. Economic growth has alleviated poverty and led to new centers of influence. More nations are asserting themselves regionally and globally. The lives of our citizens—their safety and prosperity—are more bound than ever by events beyond our borders.”
P20—“Nations must have incentives to behave responsively, or be isolated when they do not.”
P21—“In the 21st century, the abilities of individuals and nongovernment actors to play a positive role in shaping the international environment represents a distinct opportunity for the United States.”
P25—“Respect for universal values at home and around the world”.
P27—“Our efforts to inform and empower Americans and their communities recognize that resilience has always been at the heart of the American spirit”.
P30—“Finally, we reject the notion that al-Qaida represents any religious authority. They are not religious leaders, they are killers; and neither Islam nor any other religion condones the slaughter of innocents.”
P38—“Challenges like climate change, pandemic disease, and resource scarcity demand new innovation””.
P43—“That is why acknowledging our past shortcomings—and highlighting our efforts to remedy them—is a means of promoting our values”.
P45—“The United States supports the expansion of democracy and human rights abroad because governments that respect these values are more just, peaceful and legitimate. We also do so because their success abroad fosters an environment that supports America’s national interests. Political systems that protect universal rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure”.
P49—“Our relationship with our European allies remains the cornerstone for US engagement with the world, and a catalyst for international action. We will engage with our allies bilaterally, and pursue close consultation on a broad range of security and economic issues.”
P59—“It’s easy to forget that, when this war began, we were united, bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. I believe with every fiber of my being that we, as Americans, can still come together behind a common purpose, for our values are not simply words written into parchment. They are a creed that calls us together and that has carried us through the darkest storms as one nation, as one people”.
P59—“Above all, it is about renewing our leadership by calling about what is best about America—our innovation and capacity; our openness and moral imagination.”
P59—“…and with our partners at the state, local and tribal levels of government,…”



A single European destiny Presseurop – English: "Taking their cue from the German chancellor, Europe’s leaders seem to be hiding behind “the will of the people” as an excuse for their inertia. And yet political will is what we need now to confront the crisis and bring the European project back to life, argues philosopher Jürgen Habermas."

Habermas does not seem to cherish the wisdom of the people. Many have complained on the Eurocrats bad sense for democracy. I had talked myself into believing that what EU had gotten was what they could get given the language barriers. This, however, might be the moment of truth for the Eurocrats. Will this intellectually very seductive idea of a unified Europe, at least if you know 3-4 languages and cultures, have come to an end. Belgium is a good example of what is happening in Europe. Language fragmentation. Dialect fragmentation.

When I enthusiastically joined the European debate a few years ago, I began with the language problem. Now I end with the language problem. The idea of a unified Europe can sound good for many reasons. Especially grand strategies of power and competitiveness. Habermas' inertia is holding unification back, ie, visions of good Europeans led this far. But this far away from World War II, two generations away, people start to venture on their own again. There is a global destiny. Not a European one. In the mean time people live locally. Great Britain, Germany and France will connect differently with the world and the smaller European countries will tag along here and there.

What happens then is that the role of the politician is diminished. The village elder and the government administrators come into play. The village elder has gotten global reach with his Blackberry. Angela Merkel has said that she wants the politicians in play so that large monetary flows will not guide people's lives in a post-national world. She is busy legislating for this, like the anti-Hedgefund rules. However, her people want to mind their own business. There is no solidarity across language borders. Media show very little interest in neighboring countries.

So what is "political will" today? Not the ever-closer-union paradigm. That ended. Does political will exist? Society is polarizing into those who want to further develop society with science, art and technology and those who want to slow down, live environmentally and work less. These huddle-downers are becoming more abundant in both Germany and Sweden. In Anglo-America there is much more scepsis, although the BP oil spill disaster might come to play a role.

The absolute basis for a foreign policy?

It is with deep worries that I read of the Red-Green change in their foreign policy and it is my sincere hope that the Allians wins the election in September. Based on the information in the media I have discussed the prospects in Afghanistan thoroughly, which might have sounded critical at times, but in the end I back Obama's ambitions for other reasons.

If you want to build a foreign policy, I guess you start out by defining what countries you want to be specially friendly to. People in Sweden seem to be very fast in complaining on the US but they don't dare to say anything negative about Germany or Russia. Especially Germany.

When the trans-Atlantic balance is wobbly and Germany challenged the US after the financial crisis, people in Sweden have become even more German. This might have resulted in the shift in Red-Green policy. I have a feeling that the Germanophilia is nothing you talk about, for old historic carefulness reasons sake, which make the policy close in on the old neutrality nerves and kum-ba-yah peace movement instead.

Being for a development of the Club Baltic does not have to mean becoming anti-American. For me anti-Americanism equals being against human progress. The political, scientific and cultural leadership that emanates from across the Atlantic is worth admiring. It is possible to criticize America for this and that but as a country go out and demand that they should change their security doctrine is utterly wrong.

It has become old fashion to bring up the fact that American security thinking has kept Europe in general and Sweden in particular out of trouble from the brutal Soviet Union expansionist rule over the years. Russia is brushing off Stalin as a strongman that conquered Nazi Germany and has reinstated the public worship of armory in motion on that old Red Square. Red from blood of some 40m victims of Stalin's executions.

American scientists have lately made progress in understanding how life is maintained and it should be remembered that Stalin's Soviet Union threw modern biology and genetics in the vast paper bin via Lysenko's ideas. The only science that flourished in the Soviet Union was that of the weapons industry and space, which is closely linked to missile development. I don't see life develop in Russia of today and as I have said it would be a great disappointment if Club Baltic development led to reprisals against human progress.

Yes, it is possible to become a monk and say that there should be peace on Earth. From a global perspective this is however not possible. The bad guys would take over the business. We see this taking place in failing states such as Somalia, North Korea, Afghanistan and God forbid Pakistan. It is necessary to stand tall against such threats. Sweden seems to confront a more important election than I originally thought it would. The difference between an anti-American Sweden and a Sweden that would move too fast into the sustainable society versus a more sensible and balanced Sweden is grand.


Talibans everywhere?

I'm getting a feeling that what the troops learn in Afghanistan, counter insurgency or COIN, might come in handy closer to home?

What takes place on Jamaica where a drug lord that has built his empire among the poor is to be extradited is worrisome. The troops end up fighting a war like scenario. There are reports that poor people are willing to die for Mr. Coke.

Here in Sweden a due witness in a court proceeding against the group Black Cobra was shot in the leg which might mean that this was an attempt to silence this witness? The Taliban are doing something similar. They are executing village elders that has been ollaborating with the coalition troops to prevent the due course of COIN.

Then America has its neighbour Mexico close by where a fierce fight constantly takes place and where apparently drug lords build societies like the one in Jamaica.

Returning to Sweden I am getting threats for mutilations and loss of hair and hearing via all kinds of channels from a mafia of sorts that keeps me prisoner.

A simple question is what is all this leading to? Fredrik Reinfeldt says on DN.se that parents should take good care of their children because it is very tough to grow up in Sweden right now. Are parents loosing their chilldren to the mafia? All this mobbing in the shools?

I was once asked by my wife to lie down in bed with my son when he was going to sleep. My son said all of a sudden: "You can go now" as if someone had told him in his ear? Later in life I lost contact with my son. He did not want to interact with me anymore.

Friends of the US?

America is not a country. It is an idea. Said the Irish born Bono of U2. As a friend of the US, I found the following poll interesting. A Gallup Poll demonstrates the response to the question "Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States?"

It turns out that sub-Saharan countries are the most friendly to the US. 80-94% of people approve on the question from about twenty such countries that top the list. It might be fair to say that the US is winning the hearts and minds here against China?

In the group from 21 to 40th place you find Japan, UK, Canada, and Denmark with 66%, 64%, 63% and 61% approval, respectively.

In the group from 41-60th place you find Germany, France and Brazil with 57%, 52% and 48% approval, respectively.

In the group from 61 to 80th place you find Sweden on the 76th position with 42% approval and 27% disapproval together with countries like Czech Republic, Bolivia, Uzbekistan and Nicaragua.

On the last polled position #110 you find Pakistan with 9% approval and 68% disapproval which of course is important in terms of the prospects in the AfPak war. Starting schools in Pakistan to slowly change the opinions must be an uphill endeavour.

It is not strange to find out, like we did yesterday, that the parties half of Sweden supports, the Red-Greens, want to demand that countries in which the US have bases send the troops home.


Dramatizing Europe

EUobserver / Barroso says German calls for treaty change are 'naive': "Referring to the German trade surplus of €134 billion, the commission president asked: 'Does the German public know that nearly 86 percent of these 134 billion, i.e., 115 billion, comes from trade in the EU?'"

This an interesting piece of information, if true, it seems a little high. It seems like this can be interpreted to mean that Germany's export is generating the deficits and debts of Southern Europe? These countries borrow to their public expenses while they consume German products. Now Germany wants these countries to cut their public expenses to be able to maintain their import of German goods? Barroso is against hard measures for Southern Europe.

Another interesting parameter of the debt crisis is that France's finance minister Christine Lagarde and a prominent German economist that I overheard on the Swedish radio says that there is no euro crisis. Because the lowering of the Euro value relative the US dollar and the Chinese renminbe facilitates German export to these countries. China exports more to EU than the US and is apparently worried about decreased competitiveness because of this.

Perhaps Obama that called Merkel that €750bn night for her to make up her mind also was worried that US competitiveness in Europe would go down. The US has longstanding claims on China for running an overvalued currency. Barroso says that the crisis has been good for Germany and I guess this is an additional reason to those delineated in his interview in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung today.

Germany is Sweden's largest export nation and we would not like an euro that falls relative the krona either. However, Sweden would probably benefit from a strong and 'free' Germany that checks Russian power in the North East of Europe. If the moral from the above is that this development now rest on bleeding Southern Europe dry and suffering, causing undue societal unrest and tensions, such a wish might not be optimal.


United States of Europe?

Op-Ed Contributor - Europe’s Birth Pangs - NYTimes.com: "The birth of a state is no less difficult. Indeed, what pessimists — including many here in Germany — see as an existential crisis for the continent is really just the latest stage in the birth pangs of a new country."

These are the words of Gabor Steingart, Chief Editor of the German financial daily Handelsblatt, and a person that has figurated often in a fierce anti-American mood in Spiegel Online International.

Joschka Fischer, the former foreign minister of Germany, and a Green Party member, a party that has gained 70% in the pollls, ie, from 10% to 17%, sings approximately the same song in an anti-Merkel mood. The Free Democrats and the CDU are going down in the polls.

Andrew Stuttaford writes on WeeklyStandard.com about the possibility of a federal Europe enforced by the abyss alternative of euro zone dissolution: "This might have mattered less in economically more comfortable times, or in the times when Brussels was not stretching so far, blithe times when voters (foolishly) and Eurocrats (realistically) could, for the most part, pretend that the other did not exist. That's over now. Building an economic union is messy and intrusive. It'll be hard to slip it through on the quiet. The PIIGS are being ordered to take a long hard road. The peoples of Northern Europe will be told to pay for its paving. What if either says no?"

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, argues that the Euro zone is going down.

I guess this is it. The EU has been built so far as it goes without the sovereignty of nations suffering. Now people want to create a fiscal federal state without sharing politics as if this was possible. It boils down to a face saving maneuvre of grand dimensions or a successful United States of Europe. Pondering a post-EU/EMU Europe might be more realistic.


Iran can probably take a deep breath?

President Obama gave a talk before the graduates of West Point and "in essence" gave up the notion of preemptive war. It was apparently "a glimpse of the new national security doctrine". That should end all these speculations about the US keeping bombing Iran "on the table". It would be very difficult for the Israelis to go it alone.

Obama does not want unilateralism and it will be interesting to see if the American press would start to recognize that they are not alone in for example Afghanistan. It very often sounds like they are. I should admit that it in the Swedish press sometimes sounds like Sweden is alone in Afghanistan too. For many Swedes it is difficult to be in something military with America.

So, the US would only go to war if attacked. This would in all probability mean that Obama is saying yes to the notion of Iranian nuclear weapons. Most people say that sanctions are useless. His stock in Israel must have gone down further, although according to Caroline Glick at The Jerusalem Post, it cannot go down much further from its single digit position.

Iran was apparently involved in some negotiations recently with peers? It must be seen as a good sign that they engage with other respectable countries like Brazil and Turkey even if the West does not want to agree on this due to tactics? However, as I concluded above it should be less important now although proliferation aspects remain.

According to the article Obama wants to emphasize global institutions and promote democratic values. Promoting democratic values is something Obama has been accused of putting less emphasis on so this return to the Bush doctrine is welcome. It should signal a tougher stance against China and Russia despite the overall importance of trade for the economic recovery.


The Continent?

Charlemagne's notebook The Economist: "The eurozone is in a moment of historic flux. Mr Cameron made it clear several times that Britain had no intention of being drawn closer to the euro, though he made the case that the euro's stability was of vital importance to Britain, as a major trading partner. This was not a meeting between members of a single political family, but a polite encounter between new neighbours."

The Times called the meeting between David Cameron and Angela Merkel frosty. After all, Cameron had gone to Paris first. Perhaps because Merkel had not wanted to meet with Cameron at a visit in London which Sarkozy had done. Merkel apparently is more sour for the Tory elopement from the EU parliament EPP group. The ruling society of the Continent.

I had a feeling that prior to the €750bn bail-out EU was in a fragmented stage. The outgoing German EU commissioner Günter Verheugen, who had spent 10 years at the Commission, said when he left that the EU had no vision for Europe. There is no consensus among the 27 nations. Now, all of a sudden there is talk of an economic government of the Euro zone. Cameron, however, wants nothing to do with Euroland.

The problem I have with The Continent is that it is very much "the lid on". If it wasn't for the Anglo-Saxon press, I personally would not know much about its business. The Swedish press writes very little about Germany and France as well. Nothing about Poland. The Swedish blogosphere is probably close to en par with the frequency of interest--very important-- for foreign policy in Europe of 1-2% according to the EUrobarometer. There is very little information to come by. Thus it takes time to get a feel for what is going on.

So what is happening? Well, searching the internet for post-EU-politics does not yield much. I have a distinct feeling, however, that this is what we have to start pondering. Take Verheugen's word for it. I have changed my mind on the peace issue. I do not think an-ever-closer-union is necessary for peace. Being subjungated under Germany is worse. Germanization of Europe is probably not possible. English as an enforced second language was not possible either. A prerequisite for further integration. Right now the EU in general and the euro zone in particular stand before the decision of accepting Germany as ruler in an economic government. "Do what they say"?

As I said, I don't think that the communitarian Europe needs that boss. Therefore we will see more fragmentation and the dissolution of the eurozone. The fragments will be more stable though and therefore more peaceful. Some people say that there would be chaos in Europe if the euro zone was brought down. There are signs that Germany is working of making an "orderly" transit in the name of "stability".

Returing a moment to Verheugen's judgment, there are probably visions for Europe. The problem is, however, when it is not possible to verbalize such visions in public.



Today's guess on the future of Europe

There has been a lot written on Europe concerning the Euro crisis lately. It is safe to say that the spread on opinions is large which means that uncertanity for the situation is great.

Just because it is fun, I'm going to guess what will happen. The best odds are on a muddle through, high regulation, less fiscal sovereignty EU.

However, I fancy a situation where now Germany tries to see if other countries will follow their lead. When they are not, they will say we tried but failed to lead the EU and then they will leave the Euro zone. Then France also leaves Euroland. Finally, Britain leaves the EU.

This is a combo of what it sounds like in the press on the internet currently.


How to construct a modern political party?

Blair-Brown is over. No more living in the past David Miliband - Times Online: "But it became outdated in the new media age where people crave participation. Today we are proud of our activists, not fearful of them. So we need a new way of doing politics. We talked about political reform in the last Parliament, admittedly late in the day. But we did not meet today’s requirement for openness and participation. We did not escape the image of politics as deals, not debate; a game, not a calling."

David Miliband is one of the contestants for Party Leader in Labour. He was groomed as a foreign secretary and it is now very interesting to see how he think Labour should renew itself based on his broad experience. Apparently he thinks the new media age did his party in.

The image of politics has become "a game, not a calling", he says. I really think he is on to something here. "The game" has become a menace. It is the entry to the black net-economy where they don't pay tax and clandestinely shield people from real life. These practices must create alienation and cause people to worry.

Miliband uses "participation" as a key word. Someone Swedish said that so called "fri-fräsande" bloggers, ie, non-organized activists, was a problem if they blogged in a party's name. The same person once said there were hierarchies on the internet which made me wonder about free speech. I guess some people like to sing in a choir whereas others like solving problems as they come.

Participants in the political discussion obviously vary in skill and knowledge. It seems to me, however, that they should be valuable to parties in all forms. There are these besserwissers that think they need to intervene when the internet naturally sort out what is interesting by itself. Smart people don't read what does not interest them.

Swedish politics, and now also British, is the politics of coalitions. That would make it more interesting to read of "natural" ideas from people rather than sorting people into party choirs. The combined idea from the people becomes more interesting than the party line. However, there must be leaders out there that manage to also lead by their visions. Governing by the poll might not be creative enough. After all the most creative politicians don't represent the mean. I guess it is a little like the hen and the egg. I hope that the new politics is not going to be performed by people that are poll nerds. Perhaps it is time to separate the politician from the government administrator? Or is the politician passé? After all the political party memberships are declining.


European growth perspectives?

BBC News - EU prepares to vote on new hedge fund rules: "The European Parliament's economics committee is set to vote on the legislation on Monday evening, then EU finance ministers will discuss it on Tuesday. The parliament and member states' governments have equal powers to shape the new regulations."

The above article discusses how Great Britain differs from the Continent in how they want their financial markets to operate. I vouched for risk taking and fulfilling dreams the other night so I guess I am British on this one. But I am not sure I understand the logic behind the wanted change since Europe needs growth more than most and because the suggested changes limit these prospectives.

Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy went against George Bush almost immediately after the financial crisis 2008 and wanted more regulations. I guess it has taken this long for this change to percolate down to the current suggestion by the European Parliament Economics Committee. I remember Bush's argument against was that Germany's market was more regulated but they also ran into the same trouble.

Olle Schmidt, a European MP from the Swedish People's Party, says in an article in Svenska Dagbladet: "Firmer regulations of Risk Capital Funds will strangulate Europe from capital and among other things give pension fund investors less opportunities to invest." Schmidt argues that this might have negative consequences for pensions and venture companies in Sweden. Schmidt, a member of the liberal ALDE group, will vote against the suggestion whereas conservatives and socialists are expected to vote for it.

The Cameron government just installed a EU moderate as EU minister to soften concerns of the EU. Cameron had taken his party out of the EPP group to the EU parliament fringes. Apparently Merkel and Sarkozy are united against Great Britain on this issue which is very important for the City of London financial centers that has generated a lot of income to Britain. Wall Street earned 30% of the US GDP and thus the City of London has felt that they are attacked by the Continent on their ability to get future revenue.

I guess I'm sitting around waiting for the new economics to be suggested from France, where 50% think the capitalist system is broken, and Germany. We don't seem to be there yet in terms of a global sustainable economics. For Britain to lose revenue due to such a regulation must be serious under its present economical conditions. Will they leave the EU?


A New Iron Age?

I once read that Cappadocia, now in central Turkey, harbored the first production of iron ore. It was 1,500 BCE and they supposedly managed to keep it secret for 200 years, realizing its potential and the strategic advantage it gave to them.

Iron was known before as a metal of Divine descent. Archeologists have found a 2,500 BCE dagger made out of meteor iron from Egypt. Needless to say the metal revolutionized war fare by furnishing the sword and the carriage wheel axis. It became possible to control more people than before. More land was put under tillage because of the iron plow bill.

The Special Relationship?

What's So Special? The Weekly Standard: "There are specific issues on which Obama and Cameron differ, in addition to the Falklands. The alliance is, partly but importantly, a military one, and Cameron has vowed to cut spending immediately by $9 billion. This is likely to mean reductions in military expenditures to levels that are risky by American standards. Also, Cameron is staying clear of the Greek bailout and is certain to avoid involvement if other European countries face default. Obama is deeply involved."

William Hague, the new English Secretary of State, has recently visited Hillary Clinton. Smiles all over the place. The article above by Fred Barnes is more succinct. I must say that I wonder about Obama's interest in Europe? He is German rather than British. Calls Angela Merkel on the eve of disaster last week and suggests a large bailout. Most articles on the subject now seem to think it was not good enough.

In an interview in Der Spiegel Jean-Claude Trichet said that a quantum leap in economic governance is needed in Europe. Thus echoing the vagarities of the euro zone construction from early on. Fiscal unity is needed. Angela Merkel, more a public servant than the administrator Trichet, has to listen to the people. The people wonder what is going on. Merkel has said that the EU is at stake. Sarkozy has said that he will leave the Euro if Germany is not helping Greece. I guess he does not want to be left alone with the others if Germany leaves.

So Obama sweet talks Merkel in a time when she perhaps want to put her money in Russia rather than in the southern Europe. A strong economy in the eyes of Russia. He wants a stable EU. Unified in Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan is apparently an experiment I learned on the radio program Konflikt yesterday. I sincerely hope it will work but the recruitment of warriors that will also serve as civilian societal construction agents is a tall order. At least by some generals in the US army.

Has the time for a unified Europe disappeared? Is it possible by the EU elites to force a union any longer. How special are these relationships? Is it possible to force union in the name of peace? Who knows what makes peace? The language barriers seem very strong. Solidarity is not a problem in each country but does not seem to make any sense across the union. Perhaps the union is more stable and peaceful if each country minds their own business?

China doesn't need us anymore

Did you listen to this? Niall Ferguson, a Scottish born Harvard Historian, that has written many gloomy doomsday projections of America's fate now in principle says that his earlier described "Chimerica" is a "marriage on the rocks". And he does not use a question mark! If nothing else, the proposition should start many interesting discussions.

He for example says that China is not going to invest more in US treasure bonds and will sell off the ones they have slowly but surely. If you link this to the projections of Johan Norberg in his quite serene film Overdose, it does not look particularly enchanting.

I wonder what they say in China where they sit on a pile of cash when Japan and the West have their debt crisis? Do they say: "look at the effect of the black net-economies that drain the public finances of all these countries". Greece is not as poor as it looks. They were able to borrow on their black richess for a while until it shrivelled in the first financial crisis?

I don't know, of course. It is just a thought.


The American Dream vs Pragmatics?

Jessica Watson has non-stop, unaided sailed around the world in a 30 foot boat. The yacht tilted 6 times! With her 16 years of age she is the youngest one to have done the about 23,000 nautical miles in 210 days. She said when she arrived in Sydney: "I'm an ordinary girl who believed in her dream, you don't have to be something special to achieve something big. You just have to have a dream, believe in it, and work hard, anything is possible".

Is just doing what works, ie, pragmatics, replacing the American Dream? Has it become Australian? Social mobility is actually higher in Europe. It occurred to me that the American Dream and pragmatics are somewhat incompatible. Just doing what works, means that you don't take risks. Politics in Great Britain has become pragmatic, supposedly. It used to be that one needed ideology to find common ground to be able to work together. Now something else is replacing this and thus forces a common ground. Is this with maintained happiness?

There is a growing dichotomy between the elites and the common man in society. Perhaps the best example is the Tea Party movement in the US. But there is also a very important difference between the elites in Europe and publicum. In Germany, for example there is a 60% majority that does not want to help Greece. Who is right? When it comes to the wisdom of the people it is significant today with some 25-30% of people having the equivalent of a College degree and most people with a good schooling and immersed in information all through life. Whenever the elite faces a problem that it can't solve, which is quite often, it should refer to the people. The dreamers.

Unemployment is grand today in Europe and particularly in Sweden. Follow your dreams!


Lars Vilks shows pornographic film and photos at Uppsala University?

Well, it is of course barbaric to attack somebody that gives a lecture at a University. People that do this are criminals. There is never an excuse for this. A discussion of the topic is always warranted. But on the other hand, I would not myself hold a lecture at a University with pornographic images. It represents bad taste.

Whether or not there is a prophet on display at the same time is not so important. The dog with a prophet head is a better example if you want to discuss the religious problem. I'm one of those that claim that it should be possible to paint such a dog without getting death threats. Again, death threats are illegal. However, at the same time I don't think blasphemy, in general, is a good idea and something one should refrain from in respect for religious people.

I don't think there should be a law against blasphemy, though. As a religious humanist, ie, a pantheist that think God is Nature and science the means of searching for God, I don't think there should be a law against creationism or atheism. Because some people happen to believe in this fasion from their nature. In other words, bad taste cannot be made illegal.

It could of course be discussed whether the pornography was art. Someone said, how do you define pornography--I know it when I see it. So, if there are people in the audience that think it is pornography, it probably is.


The Popular Vote?

We have gotten an Obama at 10 Downing Street. It is a new generation of pragmatics. They break youth records in office. David Cameron is the youngest in Britain since 1812. Despite the clear differences the two parties Tories and Liberal Democrats are supposed to be able to rule Britannica for her own best as if they did not have quite different approaches to that goal in their election manifestos. The Liberal Democrats are considered to the left of Labour. Der Spiegel gives a tart comment that the longevities of hung parliament govenments are measured in months rather than years.

So which election system is the better? The Westminster or proportional. The Liberal Democrats have complained that they have 23% of the popular vote but less than 10% of the seats. It is well known that change, ie, new parties on the scene, is difficult with this system. In Sweden however, it went in the other direction. The large dominant party was taken down by an Alliance which led to a two-block system reminiscent of the Westminster type.

No one talks about the fact that the two ideologially similar parties did have a majority of 51% in the popular vote. The people did vote for this type of ideology. After all, the Liberal Democrats were born out of the Labour Party in 1981 and fused with the then Social Democrats. The Tories and Liberal Democrats are as night and day on the EU politics, for example. So the elites won this time. Some commentators in Sweden are usually against the elites and for the common man but not this time. The Third Way party of Blair and Brown seemed to have done its thing.

The editorial in the Times of London today voice the nice thing about a new government forming. The old one giving room for the new, as if this was a surprise. "The old tribe being replaced by two new ones". The article was called Britain's New Politics. Cameron talked about a Big Society which did not quite catch on so he tried "quiet efficiency" instead. My problem with quiet efficiency is that it might work reasonably in heaven but becomes hell a few ladders down. It is a little too quiet, I guess?

One main occupation for the masters of quiet efficiency is apparently to listen attentively to the so called Markets. They worry about this in Sweden too. Because when a debate was up on the fidelity of MPs votes along the party line the PM said things got to run smoothly to placate the Markets and keep the bond rates down. The people in Geece know this first hand by now. They are forced by the EU to go through a revolution because the machines have declared that they can't use regular mechanisms to modernize.

Markets are probably a good thing though. People take good care to distribute money where it is useful. I do find it a little worrisome however that the elites, singing the song of the Markets, don't listen to the wisdom of the people and its popular vote.


You Can't Tax Your Way Out of a Debt Crisis?

RealClearMarkets - You Can't Tax Your Way Out of a Debt Crisis: "That day [April 22], Portugal announced significant tax increases, including imposing a 20% tax on capital gains. Their goal was to reassure lenders and reduce their borrowing costs. Instead, the exact opposite happened. The day that the tax increases were announced, interest rates on Portuguese bonds increased."

This article describes tentatively how the market is calculating how much debt per GDP a nation can handle. Important is how much revenue in tax the nation can bring in. Obviously I'm not an expert on this, but it is interesting to note that there seems to be a need for psychological paramenters in the calculation. It is not just math. Different countries can take on different amounts of tax before they complain.

My question is if Portugal can do this calculation since they tried to raise tax in the fashion they did with the above result?

What apparently also is important in this article is that growth should be higher than the interest rate on the bonds. Then a country can borrow any amount. How should the PIIGS countries raise their competitiveness and growth rate as long as they stay in the Euroland? Many people write that the austerity demands from the EU now will lower the potentials of the countries instead.


Europe Day--a day late for obvious reasons

Europhiles lead 'economic governance' calls on Europe Day EurActiv: "'The financial, economic and social crisis presently affecting Europe and the World needs decisive answers and demands urgent action,' warned the European Movement, a pro-EU integration campaign group, at the weekend."

They are not dead yet, apparently, the people hailing Shuman's speech 60 years ago that started all the EU fuss. People are now discussing what actually happened last night. Is it Sarkozy's economic government of his call from the French chairmanship of the EU? Is it an attempt of stabilization but no money down for the "lazy" Greeks? How much is left of the Maastricht Treaty?

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, above at the Telegraph, writes that this weekend's deal demands even more belt-tightening from Club Med countries. Is the current crisis leading to more political integration of the EU or less? Most people seem to think that what we just saw was only temporary relief. Anders Borg, the Swedish Finance Minister, said something on the news that I interpreted as meaning Club Med countries have to tax themselves more if they are going to keep their social models. He did not seem to mean that they had lost their sovereignty. But then again what does more belt-tightening then mean. Evans-Pritchard suggests that a new state is forming in front of our eyes.

The timing of all this is interesting. Because this federalistic push takes place right at the British hung parliament where the Brown government does not want to commit themselves to something expensive Continentalish and Euroish. To their dismay they had to furnish £10bn for the "stabilization". The eurosceptic Britons, on the other hand, have their election right on Europe Day.

Angela Merkel, on her side, visited a military parade on the Red Square celebrating the demise of the Nazis on the same day as she lost an important election in North Rhine-Westphalia, the largest German Land with 18m inhabitants. Nicholas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi actually should have joined her but stayed home instead due to the financial crisis according to New York Times. Merkel, in my mind, reverted a little to her East German descent this week-end.

Taken together, all this probably point in an attempt for business as usual. Carl Bildt speak of taking the long term perspective and it does not seem like the French and the Germans have similar projects which cast some doubts over Europe Day.


The British election result

As far as I can see the two ideologically similar parties Liberal Democrats and Labour could form a coalition based on the popular vote. They would get more than 50% together the Conservatives only got 36%. Thus they could change the election system and formalize such a coalition building in a reelection.

Right now neither the Conservatives nor the Lib-Lab coalition get a majority based on the number of seats in parliament.

However, many influential people are against Gordon Brown, although he made a significant contribution for the world during the financial crisis and as the incumbent should get a second chance having held the helm during a crisis. The Financial Times, The Economist, The Times and even The Guardian supports Cameron.

A few interesting articles on the Greek tragedy and future of the Euro

The following words are those of Joseph E. Stiglitz in a Project Syndicate article:

"There is a third solution, which Europe may come to realize is the most promising for all: implement the institutional reforms, including the necessary fiscal framework, that should have been made when the euro was launched.
It is not too late for Europe to implement these reforms and thus live up to the ideals, based on solidarity, that underlay the euro’s creation. But if Europe cannot do so, then perhaps it is better to admit failure and move on than to extract a high price in unemployment and human suffering in the name of a flawed economic model."

Joschka Fischer, also on Project Syndicate, discusses American attacks on Germany's and China's positive current accounts and the effects they have on other countries in Europe to which 67% of Germany's export goes. Stiglitz means that one solution for these other countries is that Germany would exit the Euro zone.

Paul Krugman at The New York Times claims that Greece in all probability will default and end up outside the Euro zone.


Iran's Bomb?

The following citation is taken from an article describing the "Special Relationship" between the US and Britain:

"Concerning Iraq, the President and Prime Minister discussed the pro’s and con’s at length – and more intimately than among any other two world leaders. There was ample opportunity for the UK to influence US thinking – and it did so. The fact is that then-Prime Minister Blair made his own decision: It was too risky to allow Iraq to develop weapons of mass destruction (which even France and Germany believed they had), and then possibly pass them to terrorists.
This was not only the Prime Minister’s view, it was confirmed through a vote of Parliament. The special relationship did not make Britain do anything. Rather, it gave Britain unique information and access, and Britain – Government and Parliament alike – chose to go forward. And as former Prime Minister Blair candidly and courageously told the Iraq Inquiry, he would do it again."

Well, with Iran we are there again. The difference is that the US military is exhaused according to an article on DN.se. I'm not sure I agree but it would be interesting to know if it is economically too risky to enter into a fight with Iran about their bomb making. In this case we have a situation that would not be acceptable that we cannot do anything about. Does this financial debacle that we have entered put us in a situation of great risk for WMD proliferation? Is this the major problem today?


Europe's Web of Debt

Europe's Web of Debt - Graphic - NYTimes.com: "Europe's Web of Debt"

This chart is useful to get an idea of what might happen.

Is James Bond, or why not Coq Rouge, a bad guy?

Obama driver hårdare linje än Bush - DN.se: "”Denna mordpolitik upphäver principen om att alla är oskyldiga tills de har dömts. Då förvandlar sig regeringen till utredare, polis, åklagare, domare, jury och bödel - allt i ett.”"

It is of course not an easy moral question to give some people the right to kill. However, if you start with the drone attacks mainly in the areas close to the Afghanistan border in Pakistan, where conventional warfare is almost impossible due to the expected losses, they can hardly be called murders. They take place as part of an ongoing war and care has recently been taken to limit collateral damage by using smaller bombs. These attacks can save many more lives than they take.

I think it is a little unfair to just blame Obama for the use of drones. Because they increase security for all troops involved in the Afghan war, including the Swedish troops. Per Jönsson is writing an article where he tries to moralize from a position of virtue but Sweden is part of the war and is thus fighting also Iran for example due to their proxy warfare. It was only the representatives from the US, UK and France that left the room when Ahmadinejad spoke the other day in New York on the NPT conference.

Arguments have been made against the use of drones since they are quite demoralizing for people thus attacked. This would in turn make the risk for retaliation in for example America higher. Like the recently aborted Times Square bomber. However, conducting war in foreign lands always carry this risk. I see the drones as a logical development of warfare when the war has the character of a policiary action. You don't risk the lives of pilots when dealing with bad men. Shooting down airplanes has apparently become quite easy. It is not risk free though as the suicide attack on several CIA drone operatives demonstrated not so long ago.

Targeted killings is a little more difficult area. Like torture of prisoners it would be something that should not be used. However, I judge it a little different than torture because it is directed against people that are more high profile. More obvious villains. I think targeted killings can be used in a war against terrorism. Even if policiary in character, we are not talking about the average burglar or murderer.


A vision, anyone?

Gordon Brown Don't kid yourself, Nick. No Lib Dem I know sees any Tory progressive bond Comment is free The Guardian: "The economic crisis has taught us that we need a global constitution for our financial system, with a global system of financial sector taxation to underpin it. We need government support for a new digital, low-carbon and knowledge-intensive economy to create a million skilled jobs. These reforms will help bring about a new era of social mobility which will strengthen and extend Britain's middle class"

On top of this Gordon Brown suggests a constitutional reform of Britain, a flirtise with the Liberal Democrats, an electoral reform, an elected house of Lords, fixed term parliaments, and a right to recall your local MP.

Further apart?

EUobserver / Merkel backs creation of European credit rating agency: "A European agency could provide 'an understanding of basic economic mechanisms different from the existing agencies, more oriented towards ...[sustainability] of the economy and less on the short term,' she said. 'More competition in this area can not hurt.'"

Well, is the European debt crisis just a result of hostile American credit rating agencies? I guess Merkel is saying that if we just let Greece, Portugal and Spain alone, things will improve. With more competition in the credit rating business it would be interesting to speculate on which type of agency the so called investors would choose. Which type of economic philosophy will reign? What kind of money will stay in Europe?

Britain and Sweden?

Britons see 'dangers ahead' in U.S. relationship - USATODAY.com: "Britain 'should never be frightened of saying 'no' to America,' Cameron said this year. He has said the relationship between the two nations needs to be 'rebalanced' into an alliance that is 'solid but not slavish.' Clegg said the British 'still too readily put ourselves in a position of unthinking subservience to American interests.' He called on Britain to wake up from the 'spell of default Atlanticism.'"

Well, it is not unlikely that these two gents will Rule Britannica later this week. I wonder what David Cameron meant with having been "slavish" to the US? He is probably trying to be nasty to Tony Blair and Labour but does this not downgrade the British people rather? I see no reason for the British to be slavish at all but it would be important with a good Anglo-American understanding which seems to be what is planned--a redefinition. Is Sweden redefining also? DN.se gives Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, a beating today for his apparent belligerence.

Apparently Gordon Brown is the person to thank for the non-membership of Britain in Euroland. Tony Blair was for giving up the sterling. Sweden voted no in a referendum 2003. However, the finance minister of Sweden, Anders Borg, would claim that Sweden would have performed well in and outside of the EMU. The Britons don't agree since they have devalued the pound currently. It is going to be interesting to see if a coalition between Cameron and the EMU friendly Clegg would mean a more Euro friendly attitude in Britain or if it moves more eurosceptic in line of the Tories. According to Irwing Stelzer in the Wall Street Journal, Euroland is changed forever, the bailout of Greece is going to cost 30% of the value after a restructuring of the debt. Euroland is still on its slippery slope apparently. Markets are wary. This would mean subsidies and a breach of EU rules?

Anders Borg said, before the Greek crisis, that Sweden should join the Euro for political reasons. What I don't understand then is that there seems not to be any further political integration and thus there would not be a reason? Borg thought that people in Euroland would listen more to Swedish arguments if we were members--an experience from after the Swedish chairmanship 2009. I must say that I have taken in the arguments from various economists that the EMU is malconstructed and that it cannot function properly without a federal Europe, which is not on the drawing board any longer. As a layman, I have concluded that EMU is no good.


How long time is reasonable for an election campaign?

I must say I am impressed over the short and sweet election campaign in the UK. Just a little over a month and three televised debates. In Sweden we seem to have a little over half a year of this eternal nagging.

Ukraine-Russia relations

Ukraine and Russia: A normal day's debate in Kiev The Economist: "And extending the stay of the Russian fleet is backed by some 60% of Ukrainians."

Apparently the brawl at the Ukraine parliament the other day was a hangover from the unfair election, since the majority of Ukrainians don't mind keeping the Russian Sebastopol base. It might be more interesting to ask the Russian taxpayers whether they like the marriage or not? The gas subsidy is derived from removing the export duty from Gazprom.

Marrying Ukraine and Russia might be strategic in terms of securing the food potential of Ukraine once called the food store of the Soviet Union. The attitude from the West now seem to be favorable for the marriage when the economics of not having the burden of Ukraine is important rather than the political domain speak. The Obama administration is in principle letting Russia in on their old turf without fussing for potential gains in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Europe is more on their own now since they did not help out so much yonder?

The Obama doctrine is getting clearer. He is not sentimental at all as evident with Europe and Israel. Friendship is redefined. It is super pragmatic. As I pointed out once before, the slow but sure disappearance of the US from Europe has thrown Europe into a crisis of identity that is now enforced by the economic problems of southern Europe together with a prestige fight with the US about whether or not the Euro zone was a good idea. Europe's attitude towards the US was a little too harsh during the financial crisis perhaps.

What is interesting, however, is how Russia in reality views Europe. In his speech on Victory Day May 9th, 2007, when the Red Army beat Nazi Germany, Vladimir Putin said: "It is all the more important that we remember this today, because these threats are not becoming fewer but are only transforming and changing their appearance. These new threats, just as during the Third Reich, show the same contempt for human life and the same aspiration to establish an exclusive dictate over the world". A New York Times article at this point was a trifle paranoiac and suggested Putin talked about the US, but maybe he was talking about the EU and Germany? Maybe he fears economic rather than military threats?

Putin has also said that the fall of the Soviet Union was the worst catastrophe of the century. In the above speech he said: "Victory Day not only unites the people of Russia but also united our neighbors in the Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States". In other words 20m people did not die in vain, a sacrifice so large that is possible to question its reasonableness. This is all becoming more of a reality now and personally I am ready to question the wisdom of the earlier alienation from the US on its pursuit for freedom in far away places. As you make your bed, so you must lie on it.

What seems to remain now is to establish a working economic relationship with Russia as Putin tries to repair what he can from his greatest catastrophe.


Value in Evolution and Thoughts?

Evolution depends on energetic phenomena, recombination, mutation to change the genetic makeup of the cell. There are no energetic differences when something valuable is created compared to something invaluable, a more common occurrence. Valuable functionally or in our eyes. However, it was valuable even before Man existed and therefore value is added without energetic differences. What is this value? As Bergson said, it seems to strive upwards. We call the process that detects value for natural selection.
Our thoughts seem to be evolutional in this respect. If random processes account for creativity then a valuable idea is a rare occurrence. The brain somehow selects and reacts for good ideas. I have earlier speculated that the water environment might be necessary for creativity. If it is a random process, however, a computer can do it in a silicon-copper environment provided it can generate and detect value.