Looked at what I could find on the Republican presidential debates. Mathias Sundin writes on his blog about it but I decided to take a look myself to get a feel for the candidates. By now there is in principle only Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich left the couple of weeks before the election. Romney is the stable one and Gingrich is getting all kinds of critique but is most popular in the polls right now. That is a pity. I think Romney comes across at the most suitable candidate. As a businessman and former governor he would be able to contact the important business sector that Obama has alienated himself from. As a former governor that has balanced budgets and gotten rid of a deficit he has the right experience. He also personally comes across as the most presidential of the candidates. He returns to the subject of reorganizing America for growth and function all the time when other candidates get lost in details. Republican candidates are really serious about not increasing federal spending something that just gets lost here in Europe because of the way they tax and spend here. They say that they don’t afford increasing spending, period. There is apparently also a discussion on how to change Medicare which is totally unfunded by now. If the republican voter choses Gingrich rather than the moderate Romney there would be a distinct shift to the right. Gingrich have said he would choose the firebrand John Bolton, the UN ambassador of George W Bush, to become his Secretary of State. I could not see the US with this package. Also Romney is scoring better against Obama than Gingrich and thus would have a greater chance of becoming president.
I salute David Cameron for his veto to the EU because I think I have become more conservative and appreciate the maintenance of Anglo-American culture versus the new form of polity that is emerging in Europe under the leadership of Germany. Liberal seems to mean merging the Anglo-American culture with the Continental which is not realistic. Gideon Rachman points out in his column that the Netherlands and France seem to be hanging rather lose in the new constellation formed. France because the socialists, if they win in the spring, would opt against. What I don’t like with the Germans so far is the strong anti-Americanism displayed in their English propaganda magazine Spiegel Online International. The English journals and magazines are more neutral against Germany.
Sweden has ended up in a precarious situation the reason for which I am a little unsure. I had this idea that the Swedes that historically have had a soft spot for the strong leader would have liked the EU and to become more of a guided citizen of Europe than a member of the “free world” now when crisis strikes and federalism is back on the agenda. Many politicians and industry in Sweden are German and would like an EMU membership but the populace is to 80% against this development currently. This surprised me actually and the question is if this is Germanophobia, Anglophilia, or just holding tight in your wallet for southern profligacy? The fact that English is used in media and music to a great extent in Sweden probably adds to the ambivalence. Birgitta Ohlsson, the EU minister, Jan Björklund, party leader in the People’s Party, and Carl B Hamilton, chairman of the EU commission today write in Svenska Dagbladet that Sweden should join the “core of Europe”. That would mean EMU membership or at least membership in the new coalition. The new suggested Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt immediately takes a point that they act against the people. It is interesting to find Tories side by side with Swedish Left Partiers!
People are demonstrating in Italy because of Monti’s austerity measures which raise the question if the German austerity way is actually going to destabilize Europe. If these problems become more severe this might lead to a notion from the market that a federalization attempt of the Eurozone would not add to financial improvement. People seem therefore have lost hope and walk out on the street without a clear objective. They do not sense the reality of the emergency. Large numbers are just large numbers and not years of hard work with less to balance the books. They feel unfairly treated and cheated by everybody. Almost all serious writes that publish in the free media diagnose the problem as a problem of a widening gap between the rich and the poor. In order to entice investors Merkozy let the private investors off the hook in the deal and loaded the problem onto the taxpayers, something that did not show very clearly in the aftermath.
What kind of new culture is forming under Germany on the Continent then? It is different both in its economy and in its general culture. Germany is well founded in philosophy, literature and music but it is not clear exactly where they stand politically, except that they have a right of center and a left of center party with a strong former communist block as of recently. Catholicism will be a strong factor in its development. They even have a German-born and raised Pope. That is a factor that ameliorates the fusion with Poland but not with Sweden. Britain is a more secular and religiously open-minded country which fits better with the liberal immigration politics of Sweden. The Orthodox Greeks are culturally and economically way out as I pointed out before. How does Catholicism influence people then compared to a more secular religiously open-minded setting. It could have an effect on the degree of privacy due to the culture of the Confession. Personally I believe strongly that maintaining privacy is a survival factor for future civilizations.
What does Britain have to offer the Swedes then? Its culture multiplies the knowledge-factor via the second language with a factor of at least ten times. We can directly access the Anglo-American literature and all its text books for academia. Unless Sweden would go back to German as a second language they will always have problems on the Continent. The problem there for the Germans is clear. Their language does not sound that attractive so it does not work as efficiently to foster a culture as English. Therefore there is a risk that there will be harder power than what would be needed in the English case. In an era where teaming up to survive is becoming more and more necessary to challenge the gargantuan Chinese state it is important to realized that Sweden is a small country which has to form ties with for them the right partners. The time has come again for a decision. Last time around Sweden made a U-turn after the war. Will they make a U-turn post battle this time when the smoke clears?
The following is a tale created by excerpts from Samuel P Huntington’s Political Order in Changing Societies from 1968 with my comments in brackets:
The most important political distinction among countries concerns not their form of government but their degree of government. The differences between democracy and dictatorship are less than the differences between those countries whose politics embodies consensus, community, legitimacy, organization, effectiveness, stability, and those countries whose politics is different in these qualities.
The US, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union have different forms of government, but in all systems the government governs. [Fukuyama did not like this one]
I do know, Walter Lippman has observed, that there is no greater necessity for men who live in communities than that they be governed, self-governed if possible, well governed if they are fortunate, but in any event, governed.
In politics, as in economics, the gap between developed political systems and underdeveloped political systems, between civic polities and corrupt polities, has broadened.
During the 1950s and 1960s the numerical incidence of political violence and disorder increased dramatically in most countries of the world. This was due to rapid social change and the rapid mobilization of new groups into politics coupled with the slow development of political institutions.
The equality of political participation is growing much more rapidly that the art of associating together. Social and economic change—urbanization, increases in literacy and education, industrialization, mass media expansion—extend political consciousness, multiply political demands, broaden political participation. The primary problem of politics is the lag in the development of political institutions behind social and economic change.
[Huntington’s book came out 1968 as governments started to apply the technology. The democratic wave he then observed was probably due to this application where political institutions where suppressed rather than extended in scope. We might be in a phase where this suppression is giving in and the social and economic development have ran ahead of the suppressed new-speak political development. It went well in the Age of Transformation and Optimism but now in the Age of Anxiety we will be governed by people that never knew how “normal” life was—the driven people. Has the psychology of man changed with the technology use?]
In American thinking, the causal chain was: economic assistance promotes economic development, economic development promotes political stability. However, economic development and political stability are two independent goals and progress toward one has no necessary connection with progress toward the other.
A second reason for American indifference to political development was the absence in the American historical experience of the need to found a political order. This gap in historical experience made them particularly blind to the problems of creating effective authority in modernizing countries.
Madison warned in The Federalist No 51: the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. The primary problem is not liberty but the creation of a legitimate public order. Authority has to exist before it can be limited, and it is authority that is in scarce supply in those modernizing countries where government is at the mercy of alienated intellectuals, rambunctious colonels, and rioting students.
[The development of social and political order decreased severely with the introduction of technology governance. Development was frozen in time. The worst example was perhaps Libya. In developed countries where the political order was established we found a different development post-1968. However, was the fall of the Soviet Union due to a technology –induced crash? Is the polarization seen in the US right now due to larger hostility between systems of people due to the technology? In my experience people in systems have reverted to clannish behavior. It is on/off behavior.]
It seems like 17 or 23 countries will follow Germany into a second floor in the EU as expected. Britain vetoed the regular EU deal. Indeed, this is an interesting situation for an Anglo-American. On the one hand saving the Eurozone is good for the economy in the short run. On the other, this makes Germany powerful and can harm the economy by V1s and V2s towards the City of London later.
I must say I have a problem with this development of the democracy concept that has taken place the last 40 years or so. I don’t know if it is an improvement or something that has the potential of authoritarianize the whole situation. My experience with the new democracy, or “new speak”, is rather awful. Dehumanization, violence, threats, property right violations, loss of integrity! It smells communism and totalitarianism. With the risk of making a fool out of myself, I’m inclined to ask the question if the cultures of Germany, Japan, Russia and China will revert to fascism of a socialist kind? I’m posing the question to myself, which culture will prove most resistant to “new speak” in the body?
Beginning in the Middle East we found out that people want change. It is understandable that the quest for a new world began where the pressure was hardest. It seems to have moved to Russia now following this gradient, discounting the Occupy movement which is a little different in character. That we are talking about a global problem is clear from the words of a Tunisian poet Abou el-Kacem al Chebbi “If, one day, a people decides to live, fate will answer their call.” Sounds quite Western to me actually. There is no life under “new speak”. The American Independence Declaration is under severe pressure at the moment.
Tried to use the occasion for the meeting to gain in understanding on the current situation in Europe. The top government officials in Sweden are taking a cautious stance on the Eurozone political maturation issue. Swedish voter interest in the Euro has plummeted so the Swedes are running away from the problem whereas the Poles are trying to help by joining as soon as possible with higher growth than the Eurozone average. Sweden will help via the IMF though.
Swedish officials don’t think the crisis is a political crisis as I do. Part of this reason seems to be that Europe is solvent and in better economic shape than the US. This is, I think, a very good argument for the crisis being rather political. What Merkozy wants by introducing the Maastricht criteria again in a new form is hard to understand though. The whole charade seems to work, sort of, but it might be borderline knife-wrestling. Someone said that this is not a debt crisis it is rather a current account crisis, ie having used current account rather than budget deficit maximum of 3% and the public debt maximum of 60% would have predicted the crisis. Using 3/60 would not have predicted the crisis.
At the same time as it might be absolutely essential for making progress the fiscal union/integration issue is causing ire in other countries that are beginning to feel sidelined. Britain does not want the Eurozone to go down for the sake of its economy but would probably don’t mind politically. However, since the “peripheral” countries are withdrawing from the issue the only way forward is indeed a fortified Eurozone. It is unlikely that Merkozy will manage to entice all 27 countries and instead move forward with the 17.
The question is if an “economic government”, a second floor on the EU edifice is necessary. How much of a charge on democracy would be possible to use to save the Eurozone? Neither France nor Germany would want an official loss of sovereignty though. Is the current affair an attempt to secure the cooperation of financial workers in another fashion? Is the elite placing tentacles that the populace is not controlling? The reason I’m asking is the serious writers call the meeting “making a fudge”. If people meet to do the same as earlier, that did not work earlier, my guess is that they need a cover for something else. I understand it is very uneuropean to question the good intent of the meeting but who are we trying to fool here? In any case, it is fascinating that the issue is so polarized among those that think the Euro will fall and those that think we have business as usual. This is not economics. This is politics.
Radoslav Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister, says two important things. He fears German inactivity more than more conventional threats because it would lead to a Eurozone collapse. He also says it must be possible to govern Europe and suggests that the veto right of individual countries should be removed. This would mean that Germany, which Sikorski calls an indispensible nation in Europe, could form coalitions and vote through their decisions, ie govern. Other powerful members could do the same later if things would change. If it becomes possible to govern Europe, markets would be pleased and interest rates would go down to alleviate the debt crisis.
I did not find the information that Europe should be governable through the removal of the veto in Sikorski’s recent Financial Times paper but in today’s editorial, he might have said it at his talk on Monday. It would of course be a fundamental change where more influence would be ascribed to the countries in Europe which do well rather than to all countries equally. More function, less solidarity. An “economic government” could be formed with such a 17 or 27 “party” system. Majority coalitions would form and be subject to revision according to country performance.
I submitted a post in January this year on my blog that discussed a theoretical construct of “influence points” in the EU that would give incentives to participate in a transfer union, ie you get “paid” for contributing money to the EU. It would perhaps be easier to remove the veto function for members? In practice the veto function was removed already for Greece and Italy which just had to do what they were told in order for the Eurozone to survive. Right now it does not seem like a transfer union is possible, Germany does not have that much money anyhow, but rather a pact where fiscal control and austerity was enforced harder. One thing is clear, it is difficult to find solutions with the current set-up of the Union. It is rather like it is constructed not to work and the markets don’t believe in it anymore.
If I have understood the concept of an “economic government” of the type proposed by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008, it would be superimposed onto EU in the Eurozone. That means it would be independent of the Commission, The Council and the Parliament. The question is then how many countries of the original 17 that will remain there after the smoke clears. Spain has gotten the good word lately. Italy is on/off and Greece is likely to disappear.
A system for the Eurozone where you get something extra for good performance would create a national goal that would help motivate people more than just doing well for their own country. Participation would be more serious and competitive. Paying large sums of money without getting anything for it does not seems to work, although people are speaking for solidarity in times of crisis.
Niall Ferguson has written a ten year projection on Europe, The Saturday Essay, on wsj.com. I guess this is the kind of thing he dishes out to students at Harvard for comments. Therefore I can’t resist the temptation to comment myself, albeit on a more humble level.
Ferguson thinks Norway will pop the question about a Nordic Union with Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland but he does not think they would be in close contact with Britain. This idea was up for discussion in the Swedish press not long ago. They even speculated on how to fuse the different royal houses into one. At the time I thought this was irrelevant because of the presence of the European Union. Why one more? The foreign minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt, thought the same way. The Nordic countries are actually quite different, especially Finland, which is already a member of the Eurozone. Ferguson thinks they would change allegiance, apparently. This is perhaps not so likely. There is a movement in Finland right now in the other direction. They want to remove Swedish from their schools. Finland was taken from Sweden 1809 by Russia after having been together for 700 years. This legacy means many Finns speak Swedish. Being close to Russia after years of Finlandization they rather cuddle up to Germany and the Eurozone for independence of a sort they prefer.
Sweden might also be in the mood of joining the Eurozone according to the politicians and the industry. It makes sense both economically and security wise. It is interesting that very little of current discussions on Europe involves NATO and security issues. America has vanished from the equation. It seems like Germany and the zone has supplanted it. People giving opinions on the matter in the Swedish press thinks Sweden, Denmark, and Britain will be forced to join the zone and support countries in trouble. Only the independently wealthy Norwegians seems to be able to do as they please. If politicians and industry in Sweden want to join Germany, it still might be difficult to convince the populace which watches British and American TV every day and don’t want to pay for the profligate Greeks. However, if the US can’t fix their gridlock in Congress soon and start working on their debt, people will lose their sense of security from the US and turn to Germany for comfort.
Ferguson is bullish on Britain and wishes it will stay out of the Eurozone which is my feeling also. He thinks Ireland would rejoin the English kingdom which I would also believe on cultural vibes. The Brits would not ever join the Eurozone and I have earlier suggested that they would form not Taiwan but Japan outside a Chinese equivalent Continent. He thinks Britain would be preferred for banking by China rather than Brussels although he envisions some sale of assets to the Chinese to go with that. When the ten Euro-countries fall to the Germans, that Ferguson suggests, there will be a new phase in European development built on German language and culture. Maybe Brussels will be moved to Berlin rather than to Vienna that Ferguson suggests. When France, Spain, Italy and seven other countries fall, people would flee to the security of a joined Eurozone that keeps the Russians at bay.
Ferguson seems to have an idea that the SPD would gain momentum is Germany. Angela Merkel, raised in East Germany, does have a streak of Social Democrat over her politics so maybe he is right and that the Eurozone will become something to the clear left of the US and Britain, even if the Democrats rule. Sweden’s center-right is also moving leftwards. What happens in China will probably also be important in terms of foreign investments. If China becomes socialist rather than robber baron capitalist they might favor the Eurozone preferentially over the new English kingdom. Personally I have this naïve idea that the US and Europe would start investing in jobs in their own hemispheres rather than in Asia, despite short sighted growth aspects and then Britain could count on support from this angle as well.
In 2012, Ferguson believes, Israel will attack Iranian nuclear facilities with all problems thus induced, like a blockage of the Strait of Hormuz. I don’t think this is likely. According to The Economist the Israeli military is against such a move which is going to be too problematic. My feeling is that the Arab Spring is slowly going to make the region Islamist/socialist. That would make the Israeli position continuously worsening as the US seems to leave the area for South East Asia in their Pacific Century. The response to the Muslim world is then going to be focused on the relationship with Europe which differs between The New English Kingdom and the Eurozone, or The United States of Europe, as Ferguson calls it. Israel does not have a good relationship with Europe, unfortunately, and might be forced into accepting to give up it Jewish state for something similar to South Africa, since Europe is so heavily on the side of the Palestinians, which I’m personally not. The fact The Arab Union went against Assad, sort of, is though a positive sign for the area, that could speak for a relative future stability.
Wolfgang Münchau at the Financial Times the other day claimed that saving the Euro would destroy the EU. Ferguson is on the same track. It is very likely that Germany with its “not now but later” approach have worked the situation into a two pronged result. Either they become rulers of the Eurozone with a weakened France or the whole thing falls apart with them still standing on the remnants to mind their own business with Russia.
Muddling through seems less and less an objective for the elites in Europe. The cost of borrowing threatens to strangulate the Euro zone and the independence of the ECBs printing press is at risk at the peril of future inflation. However, according to World Weekly at the Financial Times edited by Gideon Rachman, 80% of Germans think the Euro zone will survive.
Former EMU propagator Göran Persson, the former Swedish Prime Minister and a Social Democrat, now says that Sweden should join. So says another former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, who is the current Foreign Minister and a Moderate. The Swedish people is not there yet though. There is not a majority for EMU membership at the polls.
Bildt and Persson talks like there is no risk for the Euro but David Cameron would rather see a networked Europe of independent states fearing that a fortified Euro zone would start to dominate the peripheral countries in the EU. According to the latest news, however, he agrees with Angela Merkel concerning the need for Lisbon Treaty change, as long as the cash cow, The City of London, which supplies 30% of British GDP, is not made less globally competitive by enemy legislation or taxation.
In other words, Merkel is beginning to have an effect on northern Europe as the British press is increasingly doubting the viability of the Euro, to the irritation of Berlin who claims media has been against it all along. Detailing how an economic program for saving the Euro is beyond most people but deciding whether or not they are British or German should be more feasible and my earlier request for the official Swedish position on this question seems to have been answered. Not only the Swedish business community, which trades preferably with Germany, but also the two main parties are now for Germany.
My one or the other kind of argument is not shared by David Miliband or the Labor party in Britain who wrote the other day that Britain needed Germany and who argued for a fortified EU. He calls being “outside” the EU a disaster for Britain. Cameron, on the other hand, is pressured by at least 100 MPs in this direction. It is understandable that many Brits would not mind that the Euro zone, as a future potential adversary, would disintegrate. It is a straight forward balance of power argument. A multipolar Europe rather than a divisive block construction.
Gideon Rachman argued for an orderly dismantlement but was told that this might lead to such disorder that extremist parties might get power in Europe again. I’m not convinced this would happen, though, we are not far enough from the war yet. But the problem of how to organize Europe still does not have a clear answer that can be formulated in the press for the people to take in.
Someone wrote today that politics is still at the top despite global finance. It has its own politics and as the Occupy movement has demonstrated, as has reactions in Europe of other kinds, some people don’ t like this politics. The politics of global finance is today nation-building in Asia and nation deconstruction and austerity in the West. No doubt there is a reaction. It is also funny to see how it is assumed that the economy in Asia is more powerful that in the West when it is immature and cannot really be compared with the economy in the West.
Following what has been written about the possibilities for Italy to get out of its predicament is not particularly hopeful. The press is against Italy but evidently seasoned politicians in Sweden and also Britain is for Italy. The math, which is simple enough, is clearly against. Politicians must therefore factor in a change of heart that has taken place in southern Europe for reform.
Samuel P Huntington wrote the following in his 1996 book Clash of Civilizations:
“In the early 1990s, Chinese made up 1% of the Philippine population but were responsible for 35% of the sales of domestically owned firms. In Indonesia in the mid-1980s, the Chinese were 2-3% of the population but owned roughly 70% of the private domestic capital. Seventeen of the twenty-five largest businesses were Chinese-controlled, and one Chinese conglomerate was responsible for 5% of Indonesia’s GDP. In the early 1990s, the Chinese were 10% of Thailand’s population but owned 9 of the 10 largest business groups and were responsible for 50% of its GDP. Chinese are about one third of the population in Malaysia but completely dominate the economy.”
The US is going Pacific and the UK is pondering Europe. David Cameron is talking about a “networked Europe” rather than a block Europe. The Germans, however, wants “more Europe” which probably means a more German Europe, if Angela Merkel is going to get full support from the Germans. Thus the new trend is that the US is facing stiff competition from the Chinese in East Asia and the Pacific and the UK in Continental Europe.
Another new trend might be the language question. Mandarin Chinese might take over much of the English dominance in East Asia and German might have a renaissance on the Continent. Culture follows power! Before World War II Swedish children learned German as their first foreign language.
Anglo-Americans and also other Europeans might though find comfort in the following statistic:
“If demographic trends continue, well over 50% of the world’s Christians will be in Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia within 25 years—a clear shift from Christianity’s traditional home in Europe and North America.”
It is from the 2010 book Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices by Robert Booth Fowler et al. Perhaps we should let the Chinese dominate East Asia and focus on South America and Africa which even lies in our time zones and where we are more likely to find hearts and minds than in the assertive Asia.
This book also tries to explain how a religious America works compared to a secular China. The religious pluralism observed in America functions as a vent for freedom making possible a streamlined collective approach in the economy. People will feel free with maintained integrity as long as they can exercise their faith.
The last 20 or so years in the US feature what could be called the Fifth Great Awakening with an increase especially in evangelical Protestantism. The First Great Awakening in American came before the Revolution in the 18th century. Periodically America turns spiritual and looks for the next political reform. We have yet to see what lies in stock this time.
Yesterday Italy ended up in real trouble. Some said its economy is dead other meant that it still has a chance. After all it a country based on knowledge and it has significant assets to back it debt. But it seems like this was the straw that broke the camel's back. There is talk today on Huffington Post of a two-speed Europe solution. There is talk about a budget czar for the Eurozone in the Financial Times.
A budget czar that takes control over the budgets of member states would mean that it is clear that they can’t do this on their own. Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal have failed to match expenses with income and can’t sustain welfare states on the same level as states in northern Europe. We have technocracy delegitimizing democracy in such states and would need a panel of judges to decide which countries are in and which are out.
Nicolas Sarkozy has been advocating for a two speed Europe whereas Angela Merkel has spoken for a more homogenous variety. Merkel is of course right as far as the EU motto is concerned but if technocracy with economic steering, a Eurozone economic government, will make countries like Greece balk at this prospect, they will have to split the Eurozone somehow. A solution with debt redemption over 20-25 years via a fund is a more probable proposition which is also discussed in the Financial Times today.
So, what people are beginning to talk about is that democracy does not work everywhere. Still you have politicians who stand tall and say they wish democracy for Libya’s people soon, when there are problems in southern Europe already. The question today is whether or not southern Europe will accept technocracy or if they will cut themselves loose and stay democracies. Greece is an interesting example because 70% poll favorably for the Euro at the same time as they poll 60% against the bail-out from the Eurozone.
It is a little embarrassing for Germany that all other members of the Eurozone will default, so let’s argue that they will solve this somehow. Fredrik Reinfeldt, the prime minister of Sweden has invited other peripheral countries, like Denmark and the UK, to a tête-à-tête in Stockholm Northern Future Forum in February 2012 according to Svenska Dagbladet. It is a follow-up from last year in London. Sir John Major reminded us the other day in the Financial Times that EFTA still exists: Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Island. How about forming an opposition team if it is impossible to get all countries under one flag?
The benefit of such a scheme would be that people know who should support who. Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece belong to team Germany. Although Arnold Toynbee said in his famous tome A Study of History that civilizations are OK as long as they expand. Then the barbarians come back, Toynbee said. People are still talking about expanding the EU which to me seems doubtful considering the circumstances. As I blogged about once before, Samuel P Huntington suggested you leave countries with distinct other culture out and the diversity of the present EU has been shown to be too large. The Catholic Croatia is probably going to work whereas the Orthodox Serbia should remain outside.
It should be noted that the fault line between the Eurozone and its hypothetical opposition is Catholic/Protestant to a large extent. We have Poland, Germany and France on the one hand and the UK and the Nordic countries on the other. Assuming that Poland joins the Euro. It is at the same time a fault line between more devout and secular. It will work better language wise also since the Nordic countries are well versed in English and France and Germany prefers their own. In other words, forget the EU. The EU was a peace project but with Poland, Germany and France in the same boat peace is assured.
Germany is the current power house in Europe and it seems like there are wishes that Sweden should help Greece to help Germany out in the Eurozone. How about investing this money in Britain instead? They are a little short right now.
China and even Australia has said that Europe should “restore its house”. This was the apparent conclusion from the G20 meeting in Cannes last week. The problem seems to be that Europe is not a house even if it needs to be. Wolfgang Münchau, at the Financial Times, wrote that if Europe saves the Euro, EU will fall. You will get Euroland and some peripheral countries. According to David Rennie at The Economist, British tabloids already write about “The Fourth Reich”. One of the peripheral countries is Sweden which does not have a majority for the Euro. I am particularly curious about Poland. Last time they chose Britain they ended up in Russia for a while. I’m asking this because people that write about such things tend to group Sweden, Norway, Poland and Britain together.
There is so much writings about Greece, a country with only 2% of the EU budget, that I have gotten the feeling it is to gloss over the fact that global governance via G20 is dead. Anne Marie Slaughter, in her book A New World Order from 2004, wrote about the globalization paradox. Global governance is not possible, even if needed, it is a threat to individual liberty, and should and have been replaced by networks of specialists like presidents, ministers of finance, and regulators that interact outside of the state function, even if the state and regular diplomacy is still important. The EU has been used as the ultimate example of such networks but if it now breaks up this is yet another proof of the difficulties with global governance.
A while ago The Economist wrote that there are the Chinese economy, the US economy and the European economy now. If you add the Indian and the Japanese, that seems to be just right. My question is if not the globalization phenomenon is being followed by a regionalization? There is going to be more and more focus on saving jobs locally even if you can save a few dollars by sourcing the job. The East Asian assertiveness depends on globalization and might be combated by regionalization. The French and the Germans saved their car industries for example. The race for education, to out-educate, to out-compete, will also lead to regionalization. There will be emphasis on preventing brain-drain, which is a means of eviscerating the US who depend on highly skilled immigration.
Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum cites Curtis Carlson, CEO of SRI International, which is a company that serves as an innovation factory for governments and companies, in their book That Used to be US from 2011. Carlson’s Law reads: Innovation that happens from the top down tends to be orderly but dumb. Innovation that happens from the bottom up tends to be chaotic but smart. The role of the CEO is now to help create the environment where those decisions can happen where they should happen, to support them and reward them and inspire them.
This law helped me understand what Fredrik Reinfeldt said in a recent speech where he discussed management in the Moderate party of Sweden. Reinfeldt said that people are surprised that he just sits and listens and does not say anything. He had sent off 100 party members to a course to increase their listening ability. I must admit that I thought: Hey, Mr Prime Minister, an occasional good idea to lead by would perhaps be good but maybe I have learned something new. Reinfeldt really played down leadership and perhaps thinks in terms of the stewardship mentioned above by Carlson.
Interestingly, this is a differential to political leadership as it compares China and the West. Reinfeldt riled against the “strong man”, or “starke man”, concept. They guy that always takes charge and give orders profusely. It seems like the role of the party leader or CEO has changed the most. Taking charge has moved to the grass root level and that is of course bound to create a certain measure of chaos.
What I still don’t understand with Reinfeldt management theory is, however, how the leader of a country can get by without a vision for the future. Reinfeldt said that he did not like visions and that they usually tended to cost at least 100m SEK. My idea of a vision is rather something that makes a 100m SEK profit for the country. The citizens of a country need an overarching goal to follow. Such a goal could very well be a foreign political one where the government makes up their mind on Sweden’s position in Europe and the world.
Angela Merkel, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy have all said that multiculturalism is dead in Europe. That would mean: we don’t want any Muslim ghettos in Sweden. But do we want any Swedish ghettos in the EU? Sweden represents 2% of the EU population. There are 4% Muslims in Sweden.
I guess this is a way of expressing what I have already said, in so many words, but it is an interesting angle. The low interest in teaching history lately might have been an attempt to make people more European by having them less prone to local identities. They have apparently had the same kind of ideas in the US. People like Niall Ferguson have fought against this trend by pointing out that certain cultures perform better than others and that there is competition in the world. Arguing for history education is thus counterproductive for multiculturalism but it might help people evolve faster by realizing how to compete globally.
In fact, multiculturalism is not dead in Europe at all. The EU motto is “united in diversity”. It is like preserving diversity in nature. Save the species! But what is nature’s idea with many species? It is if one does not survive another might. It is an insurance policy. My question is can we afford this insurance today? After all, most of Europe’s countries have been tagging along for quite a while.
OK, the talk of an “ever closer union” might be old hat in some quarters but there seems to be this force around, and people to match, that makes this happen a little in the dark. Inch by inch! People don’t seem to like this, reading from the polls, but, inch by inch. Time has come to ask if this is good or bad.
Harmonizing the rules across the EU actually makes some sense but will the sense of freedom linger while streamlining things. The US unionized with one language 200 years ago. The Chinese 2,200 years ago. I guess what I’m trying to say is that things are moving in a direction where politicians in Europe need to work for changing the motto of the EU. Why not “United at Last”.
I would not mind in principle at all that Sweden disappeared as a sovereign country as long that I felt that we were moving in the right direction. Swedish culture is probably close to a competitive mainstream that would be selected. Some other countries in EU27 would have to adjust more. Personally, I would move to the US, if I could afford it but, I honestly believe that a United States of Europe would be a good thing for Sweden.
The reason for arguing in this direction for me would be that Western civilization performance is at stake if two competitive centers, North America and the EU, don’t form. A two-party system for the Western Civilization.
Due to circumstances these days people have ideas about how to solve the European debt crisis. So do I. In my humble opinion this is a crisis of confidence, a political rather than an economic crisis. Angela Merkel works on a plan for Europe that the market is going to accept and that will calm things down.
Given that Germany have not benefitted on other countries in Europe for succeeding economically, their culture works best for Continental Europe. If the rest of the nations want to succeed with Germany, they must change their culture to more resemble the German. Write a new constitution for a federal Europe accepting Germany as a leader nation. Unfortunately, in this sense only 66 years have passed since World War II.
As I said before, I personally belong to the Anglo-American paradigm, and I don’t think the UK would change their culture in the German direction, but France might. The Continent could thus become a small China with the UK as Japan on the side. I don’t see anything less than the appearance of a Continental European Creed which is unanimously accepted as something that would ease market pain in Europe. Greece, for example, is moving in the German direction with lots of pain disclosed and maybe they will succeed.
Some people say: “there is no time for this”! Such people tend to have watches but EU federalists have time and one argument is that the time has come for conglomerates in the size of China, North America, and India. Federalists say that we have to join this train. It’s leaving the station now! If Europe doesn’t catch it, the European welfare state is bust and Europe, once proud, will become irrelevant. I don’t agree with Reinfeldt, Merkel has to take charge. Continental Europe needs a plan. There is indeed no time for muddling through.
Samuel P Huntington’s epos from 2004 Who Are We? is an interesting read even for Europeans. The Jews have claimed that they are God’s chosen people, which of course have irritated quite a few, but if 300m Americans claim the same thing this must be considered preposterous, or? After the fall of the Soviet Union Francis Fukuyama, a student of Huntington, wrote a book called The End of History and the Last Man. We had, according to Fukuyama reached a point where liberal democracy was the Universal remedy for world politics. With the rise of China, without God and democracy, we have seen that East Asia can create prosperity as well. That leaves the Western Civilization divided: Europe, the cradle of Western Civilization and the Scientific Revolution, which could also be called exceptional, and the New World now led by Obama, the first Pacific President, no longer universal.
The attitude to the economy and the respective solutions to the financial crisis is different between the US and Europe. The US want to stimulate and Europe choses austerity. The welfare state is more developed in the EU. The US population is growing whereas the European countries are contracting relatively speaking. Immigration takes place in both with the US filling up with Mexicans and Asians and Europe with Africans and Muslims. The US is highly religious whereas Europe is more secular. Americans work harder than the Europeans, at least more hours per year, and are genetically from adventurous, more risk prone, Europeans. Americans have involved themselves more in world security and have a significantly larger military force. Since World War II the Americans have excelled in science and technology but the Europeans are catching up. I will always work for maintaining good relations between the US and Europe but have seen during the last years that they are distancing themselves from each other more and more.
There is, however, one big difference: America is the United States of America but the EU can’t make up its mind about federalizing. When I started out in Political Science a few years ago, I thought the United States of Europe was a good idea. I thought English as a second language for all EU states was commendable and would keep a common culture alive trans-Atlantically. Then I realized that this was unattainable due to public nationalism. The European debt crisis gives Europe a push in the United States of Europe direction. How strong this push is going to be is an obvious question? Greeks are out demonstrating for World War II money from Germany so tensions have evolved to a malign degree.
The Davos Men or economic transnationals, that Huntington discusses, live in a global world already where they have less nationalism to start with but they might not actually need the Western Civilization either because they do a lot of business in Japan, India and China as well. However, they might just have to start thinking about getting the public with them a little considering for example the Occupy Wall Street movement. In this sense I am very Huntingtonian. They used to say there is more trans-Atlantically that we have in common than separating us. I still think this is true. The lesser evil is probably to keep the EU together, despite democracy deficit, to develop this market as a global competitor. We are going to need people around us that do business our way and that continue developing science as we started. In this way southern immigration into our civilization becomes a good thing that maintains the Western world in an amiable relationship with this world.
Denis Lacorne wrote in his book that Samuel P Huntington claims that the US is a deeply religious country, defined by an American Creed, and that the US is neither secular nor a religious theocracy. It was actually Gunnar Myrdal who in 1944 defined the American Creed. After reading Huntington’s Who Are We? from 2004, I’m convinced that Huntington’s idea is more correct. He says that the new US was already forming as John Locke was born 1632 thus staying with Tocqueville on this one. American exceptionalism, he says, is not to a little part due to its religiousness. What also makes the US unique and the most religious protestant country is that many sects were allowed to form and thus made possible a more individualist religious life. What Lacorne also forgot to say was that the Catholicism in the US is very protestantized which makes it less authoritarian.
However, if you ask Americans what about the US they are most proud of 85% say the political system. This should be compared with 7% for Germans. It therefore seems like the Americans are united under an American Creed, a political idea, at the same time as they have religion for community and support. In 2002 a court in San Francisco decided by a 2 to 1 vote that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance were a violation of the separation of church and state. The words therefore were unconstitutional. However, this became highly controversial and the Senate passed a resolution 99 to 0 that the decision be reversed. A Newsweek poll claimed 87% of the public supported inclusion of the words while 9% opposed. Atheists are less popular than Muslims in the US.
President Clinton claimed that America needed a third “Great Revolution”, in addition to the American Revolution and the Civil Rights Revolution, where they “prove that we literally can live without having a dominant European culture”. Huntington means that this multiculturalism would threaten American Identity. He sketches four development possibilities: multiculturalism; bifurcated into Latin and English; exclusivist with revival of racial and ethnic concepts: and a preferred cultural path where Americans stick to their Creed. In light of the dismissal of multiculturalism in Europe this is interesting. Currently “ever closer union” is what seems most popular to save the Union in what could be described as a desperate attempt to find a European Creed.
Thomas Friedman claims there is a close connection between economic freedom and political freedom in his book Capitalism and Freedom from 1962. He points out that there is no place with political freedom that does not have economic freedom but he also says that economic freedom does not guarantee political freedom. Seems up to date today! However, Francis Fukuyama discusses the political without the economical in his latest book The Origins of Political Order. I did wonder about that but it is of course a simplification for clarity. Cultural matters might not be sufficiently independent of economic issues to be treated separately.
Fareed Zakaria writes on the Global Public Square blog that President Obama thinks the US has gone “soft”. One thing is that he for example has apologized for America’s conduct, which I think is way out of line. I wonder what he meant by soft? Is it staying democratic and free that is soft nowadays?
There is a tendency to think that China’s and the East Asian authoritative economic miracle is a discovery of a short cut to material wellbeing. The cumbersome and confusing democratic parliamentary way is passé. But if you add the J curve of Ian Bremmer to transit from economic freedom to political freedom there is indeed an obstacle to pass. There is no country that made that pass without exterior help so far. Is it possible? Perhaps the soft nation is rather on the right track and China on its traditional 2,500 year authoritative ditto. You simply have to believe in America like Mitt Romney stated in his recent speech that countered Obama’s idea.
How important is then political freedom? After all Friedman says that economic freedom is an extensive part of total freedom. Is it worth dying for? That is not an obvious question in Europe for example where defense budgets are slashed. The Arab Spring tells a story where people non-violently demonstrate for freedom non ultra descriptus. Is this a reminder?
If political freedom does not add benefits to society in the form of a more developed material wellbeing, the West might be in for trouble of convincing the rest of its glory. This is another way of asking what President Obama meant by going soft. Losing faith in a way of life on a higher qualitative level! I for one think political freedom offers a higher quality life.
What Obama actually said was this:
“The way I think about it is, you know, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and, you know, we didn't have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track."
This might mean that Obama does believe in democracy but somehow thinks people were a little too “lazy”. But I was not of the understanding that the US had been less competitive rather succumbed to a financial disaster. So, I still wonder what he meant by soft which apparently the two GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry also did.
So, was Friedman right? Is there really a close connection between economic freedom and political freedom? This remains the crucial question for the upcoming decades and perhaps this century.
I realized yesterday that we have half a year left to spring now in Sweden. First week of April is a common spring initiation around here. Took a walk today in the early fall with fresh leaves fallen on the ground. The smell of fall was evident in the air. The lawn has slowed down.
Reading a book about Religion in America by a French author, Denis Lacorne from 2011. It is originally written in French in 2007 but contains an afterword that comments on Obama’s “Faith-friendly Secularism”. Lacorne talks about the American civilization and makes some corrections on Tocqueville’s Democracy in America from 1835. He does not think, like Tocqueville, that democracy took off from the Puritans in New England but rather had a secular origin from the Founding Fathers.
Lacorne thinks evangelism was the religious origin of the national walls of America and suspected atheist Jefferson was elected 1800 with the help of evangelical votes that objected to the bullying of the then established churches. The romantic American historian George Bancroft did however also point at the Puritans as a source of democracy and religion in the US like Tocqueville.
What I think is interesting in this context is that Thomas Jefferson, the drafter of the Independence Declaration and the third President of the US, had three favorite historic persons in mind when he acted namely: Francis Bacon, John Locke, and Isaac Newton. Maybe he pictured a future country in the name of science more than he pictured it religious even if he probably was realistic enough to feature a religious context for his country. Jefferson was a lawyer like Bacon.
The question then is if Americans have become, or always been, so different from the Europeans that we can’t keep Atlanticism going? The relative success so far on the Libya mission of NATO will of course help for a while. Economically France and Germany have started a battle against Anglo-America. They, for some reason, don’t think you should make money on money. A Tobin tax is the latest aim in suppressing the City of London.
The US is more religious than Europe currently. It has been possible to assume that this could give the US its higher growth rate, although I have not ever seen that in writing. However, the non-religious China is doing fine on growth even if this growth to a large extent so far is a proof of the success of Western globalism. Some Chinese academics say that the lack of Christianity was what made the West stronger and there are attempts right now to restore Confucianism, a new Confucianism, as a moral precept for the masses. Marx would probably turn in his grave. Marxism is still the official dogma of the Chinese communist party.
Tocqueville thought democracy needed religion to function. Contrary to his contemporary American historians he advocated Catholicism as the optimal form of Christianity. He viewed the multitude of more “enthusiastic” Protestant sects as having a divisive effect on government. In other words he thought of religion as a societal stabilizer just like China is searching for right now. Without democracy, however, religion is a competing organization and with Poland in mind Catholicism probably has a hard time in China. I understand that the Party is appointing bishops.
Today I read about the Swedish Church in Svenska Dagbladet. They have to start getting rid of church buildings for economic reasons. Many are standing empty and demand heating and maintenance. The Christian Democrat party in Sweden is in jeopardy not to make the 4% level needed for entry into Parliament in the next election and their larger brother in Germany is also losing votes. I can’t help asking Tocqueville’s question: is democracy in trouble in Europe? Angela Merkel is losing power being the most important person to hold the EU together. The obvious follow up question is if it is good for democracy if the Euro and thereby, as Merkel is fond of pointing out, the EU will fall?
There seems to be a common denominator between Greece and Palestine. Samuel P Huntington says in his book Clash of Civilizations from 1996 the following: “Greece is not part of Western civilization, but it was the home of the Classical Civilization which was an important source to the Western Civilization. In their opposition to the Turks, Greeks historically has considered themselves spear carriers of Christianity. Unlike Serbs, Romanians, or Bulgarians their history has been intimately entwined with that the West. Yet Greece is also an anomaly, the Orthodox outsider in Western organizations. It has never been an easy member of either the EU or NATO and has had difficulties to adapt itself to the mores of both.”
Huntington has Russia as the core state in the Orthodox civilization so he would advocate that Greece would be better off in the Russia group together with the Serbs. Palestine seems to be positioned between the West and the Muslims but supported mostly by the West economically and technocratically on a base of Islam. Both Greece and Palestine lies in the fault line of civilizations. Today it seems like Greece is on the way out and Palestine on the way in.
Palestine is trying to change the status quo by asking for international support different from the US and the EU. The US and Israel is against the solicitation of UN membership because it disturbs the peace process. So far I have not read anything that would indicate that an eventual UN membership would change anything on the ground, so what is it Abbas want to achieve? Is it really possible for the PA to be in the middle of nowhere, not with Hamas and the Arab street and not really with the US and Israel if they are to be living in peace side by side?
Huntington says one more thing. There is no solution for fault line conflicts which would indicate that efforts should be made to produce the most agreeable status quo possible. What is happening now then is not appropriate because it provokes one of the parties.
"THE PALESTINIANS have certainly never given either the Americans or the Europeans a good reason to support their cause. Just this week, the PLO representative in Washington told reporters that the future state of Palestine will ban Jews and homosexuals.
And yet, the Obama administration and the EU have made the establishment of a racist, homophobic Palestinian state the greatest aim of their policies in the Middle East.
Every single Palestinian leader from the supposedly moderate Fatah party has rejected Israel's right to exist and said that they will never set aside their demand that Israel accept millions of foreign-born Arabs - the so-called Palestinian "refugees" - as citizens. They say this with the full knowledge that this demand is nothing less than a demand for Israel's destruction.
And yet, both the US and the EU, which certainly do not support the destruction of Israel, insist that it is imperative to strengthen and support the supposedly moderate Fatah party which seeks the destruction of Israel."Caroline Glick writes the above in her blog. The article is also on display in The Jerusalem Post where she is a regular columnist. She wonders a little why the West bothers. Glick points to the fact that it is the US and the EU that helps keeping the Palestinians going but does of course, like noone else, have solution for a peace process.
I have earlier heard about an South African kind of solution for Israel and Palestine but the two-state solution advocated by most states and the news that Jews can't live in a future Palestine rules this out. I'm looking, in my frustration over the situation, for a future solution that takes into account demographic realities in the area.
Keeping up a status quo situation has been an understandable way of looking at the issue but current affairs seem to indicate that the Turks and Arabs are not pleased with the status quo any longer, although they might be the ultimate winner of such an approach in the long run? Impatience is in the air!
There was an article on the wsj.com site today that desribed a soccer game between an Israeli team and a Turkish team in Istanbul this weekend. There were people shouting anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans. It reminded me of a tennis game in Malmö a while ago that had to be played without an audience--for the security of the Israeli players. Will it be possible for Turks and Arabs to whip up international pressure on Israel that will necessitate that they give up on their security concerns. Security is not important here. A worst case scenario would be to have Israel lowering their guard for a strike while the West is busy with their economic problems.
The question is why the Arab Spring is taking place and why there is impatience in the Palestine-Israel question all of a sudden? Removal of all Western supported dictators? Humiliating the West in this fashion just to return to normal as the West has lost themselves on the rebels--on the right side of history, as if democracy already was installed.
Is it because the US was cautious in Libya and that no European power would assist Israel in an emergency. Pure power play, in other words. The reaction from the West on the Arab Spring has been positive until recently when it has been conditional for Turkey to lead the way, forgetting all about Israel, because it complicates the issue. I guess I have to settle for a hope that this looks worse than it is?
The Financial Times writes today that Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a passionate speech in Cairo yesterday has said the “Israel must pay a price for its aggression and crimes”. They also write that this has alarmed Israel and that it worries the US. Erdogan also calls for the acceptance of Palestine as a state via the UN.
Turkey has now permanented its policy shift with this tough stance against Israel where it also tried to work up an aggression among other states in the area. Erdogan has also said that he will bring a Turkish naval escort to a new Ship to Gaza flotilla at the same time as he says the Mavi Marmara incident was an act of war.
In the mean time rioters attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo. Israel brought home some 80 embassy personnel but has since said that they will try to restore the for them important mission in Egypt. After all, Egypt is one of two countries in the Middle East that has a diplomatic relationship with Israel. The other one is Jordan. The Turkish diplomatic relationship is on hold as is the earlier close military collaboration. Turkey has, though, agreed under the flag of NATO to harbor radars for missiles from Iran on their territory. It seems like Erdogan is forcing the US and NATO to choose him or Israel.
Erdogan is currently on a trip to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya hopefully as a model for Arab modernization. It would be of great concern if the trip in reality turns out to be forging a coalition against Israel in these fledgling states. The problem at hand is that Erdogan is not acting favorably to a fellow democratic nation but rather walks the religious line.
Daniel Pipes claims, in his book In the Path of God from 1983 which was republished 2002 after the 9/11 catastrophe, that militant Islam, or fundamentalism, is hopeless which I agree with. He drew the conclusion in 2002 and 1983 that Muslims had to westernize in order to modernize. I guess this is not valid because Asian countries have been modernizing without completely westernizing, keeping a distinct original character. Samuel P Huntington, in his book Clash of Civilizations from 1996, claims that the Western civilization is not universal hinting at the possibility that the Sinic and Muslim civilizations will never merge into the Western. My analysis of this extremely important issue is that the western culture is the most biological and psychologically most correct one. Other cultures have to use more coercion to get people to thrive. This would be an argument for advocating westernization. Already John Locke, who was trained as a physician, set forward psychologically relevant rules and rights. A major risk is that an Asian country could with harsher, inhumane methods push their people to challenge the West economically. Someone said that an equivalent of the Roman Empire development could take place from this time’s democratic embryo. I don’t believe this will happen though. The West is more significant than Greece was at the time.
Why did the destruction of the 11th September 2001 take place? Pipes argues that westernization is more problematic for the Muslims than modernization and the Arab Spring that we witness today is probably more a modernization attempt rather than a westernization ditto. Since 1983 the population of Egypt and Iran has doubled, and this madness creates a very large youth unemployment. Most Muslims adhered to traditional Islam where people realized that sharia did not work and had come to a compromise which Pipes calls The Medieval Synthesis, although there has been fundamentalists all the way from the beginning. Pipes argues that from about 1970 oil wealth has made Muslims more fundamentalistic although he says in the foreword of the 2002 edition of his book that the issue is more complicated.
Looking back ten years it has become seemingly conventional wisdom, especially in Europe, that the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been completely in vain. I’m not so sure. If the US had not reacted forcefully, terrorism might have been encouraged. Now the swift occupations told governments in the Middle East to prevent terrorism on their soil that might otherwise be dealt with in a similar fashion. Saddam Hussein was also a person that was so disastrous in the region that removing him also set a precedent which Gadhafi now have faced. I therefore do not think the human sacrifice demanded so far have been in vain. What we have learned so far, however, is that being the leader of the free world is making you undeservedly unpopular.
The new type of martyrship that the Turkish activists that sacrificed their lives while attacking the Israeli commandoes in the Ship to Gaza incident were revealed in a report by the UN that vindicated Israel against these marauders. Egypt was also aggressive recently after a terrorist attack against Israelis close to Eilat. However, due to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the event has worsened the relationship between Turkey and Israel to the point of retracting their ambassadors, since Erdogan demand of an Israeli apology has not been met.
Who is this Erdogan? Well, according to Ian Bremmer in his book The J curve, he was educated in religious schools as a devout Muslim. As a teenager, he was forced off a soccer team for refusing to shave his beard he considered it his religious duty to grow. Elected mayor of Istanbul in 1994, Erdogan declared himself the city’s “imam” and opened his first city council meeting by chanting from the Koran. After reading an Islamist poem at a 1998 rally, Erdogan was convicted of using religion to provoke disorder and sent to jail for four months. The poem read in part, “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets/The minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers. The jail sentence apparently made him more Kemalistically secular but how much of a religious soldier is he still while being a very popular prime minister?
Erdogan’s life witnesses the tense relationship between the democratic government and the military which characterizes Turkey and which makes it less suitable to join the EU. Erdogan has, according to Der Spiegel held a rally in Germany to 15,000 Turkish immigrants where he suggested they should not integrate into the German society. Thus supporting Turkish enclaves in Germany, his Turkey is less suitable for EU membership. At least if the current ever closer union represents the future path of development.
The question is then what path Turkey is going to find for themself in the appearing Middle East and North Africa environment at the same time as they are alienating themselves from Israel? They are playing an important part in supporting the NTC of Libya and have issued warning to Syria for their human rights violations. Will they evolve as a democratic model for the rest or will they rather become like the rest to blend in? Turkey being the most democratic Muslim country is an important phenomenon with a rather unique history to match. It does not seem likely that we will find a leader of Kemal Atatürk’s type in the area with such a will to emulate the West.
Francis Fukuyama provides a crash course in State Building, note not Nation Building, from 2005 when he reacts to the turnover of power from the US derived CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) in Iraq to the Iraqis in 2004, a year after the invasion. No Iraqis ruled Iraq during this time. It is well worth the time to ponder the fate of Libya with this book. Which country, for example, should help Libya out, they have asked for civilian help, since cultures vary so much? The UN is a mish-mash of countries and institutions are the key to development which are highly culture dependent.
Libya is in the lowest stability phase of its Ian Bremmer J-curve now. Which way do the majority of the Libyans want to go today? Which way would they want to go in a generation’s time after adding some rule of law and primary education? Fukuyama states that the major problem in aiding a country like Libya is that there is a lack of domestic demand for reform from the elite. It is a little of what we see in Tunisia and Egypt today. The difference here is that the elite was not fighting as rebels and died in the 20,000nds. Hopefully there will be a certain seriousness due to the sacrifice that will help transcend the elite even since Libya wants in general education level due to Gaddafi’s 42 year rule.
Took a walk down to the Ersdal Bay and back via the harbor today again, as I did yesterday. 15 to 17 degrees Celsius, thus perfect. Time to make some plans for the fall. The overall subject that I am researching is which culture should carry mankind into the future. Into the unknown. It is not going to be just one. East and West will probably continue to run parallel. The two party system of the world. The main hypothesis is that the West has found out a path of higher fidelity than the East with a more mature political development. Thus assuming that there are no genetic differences between the two populations. The political system of the West is more mature for the simple reason that people are allowed to think and act politically. From Ian Bremmer’s book The End of the Free Market form 2010 it is possible to extrapolate that there is about 25% state capitalists in the world currently which is offsetting the balance and currently causing a slump in the West. Since the rich in the West are making money in the East as austerity is mandated in the West for ordinary people, notable billionaires are talking about paying more in tax for the sake of stability. Personally I think it is not wise with too progressive tax tables since the rich allocate money better than the state for the performance of the economy. Bremmer brings up this point, while claiming that the state is not that good as the shareholders in allocating funds, why state capitalism risks being less efficient economically.
Although I’m not so sure myself, it seems like most people think the power of science and innovation on all levels is going to play out equally well in the East as in the West. That would remove Joseph Nye’s argument of the higher recruitment of talent to the US than to China and leave Gideon Rachman’s focus on the economy more pertinent. The economy will depend on how people organize themselves in the functioning parts of the world and how areas like the Middle East and North Africa develops from lower levels. The fight on how to build up Libya has started and the obvious question is if it’s going to be free-market or state capitalism which is important since Libya’s development could become a blue-print for the entire area. State capitalism is probably easier to apply to a country of Libya’s type, Algeria is already state capitalist to a certain degree and also runs on oil, but I hope they will convince the Libyans to choose free-market capitalism due to the better harmony possible with the EU in this case. Bremmer has a series of comments in his book as to the prognosis of state capitalism and he seems to think that it represents a dead end, which I tend to agree with. Improvements of free-market capitalism are a more probably path of development. In an era where the economists have problems understanding the economy it is troublesome that we ask politicians to regulate it, understanding it even less, but it seems to be necessary.
I guess the Libya issue has entered the twigh-light zone for a while with Gaddafi still at large. When I first heard about the aid plans I was very skeptical and like Germany opted against it but when it actually started I said to myself OK you had your day in court and I began arguing for the air support, no boots on the ground mission because I accepted that Britain and France had so much info as necessary to change the regime. It did not come without cost for the Libyans though. I saw one figure of 20,000 casualties, a large enough figure that leaving Gaddafi in power might have caused less loss of life, but wars of liberation are often quite bloody. NATO has apparently flown some 20,000 sorties of which 7,500 involved bombing missions. Less than Kosovo in the 1990s, but still significant.
Obama's approach was leading from behind this time around. Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the mission would not have been possible without American intelligence and the initial wipe-out of air defenses was also dominantly American. On the positive side is that the rebels have done this on their own unlike in Iraq and if an involvement like the last 6 month's does not lead to winning the hearts and minds of the Libyans, nothing will, which would be good to know. A Libya that in the future is friendly with the West would obviously be a great asset. Iraq trades mostly with Syria though so we enter a sensitive face now where people Like Nicholas Sarkozy, the savior of Benghazi, might play an important role. The Libya mission is of course in line with Sarkozy's effort with the Club Med that Germany wasn't particularly enthusiastic for.
So, enter nation building. Gaddafi had held his people down with low emphasis on education which could mean that serious nation-building would not take place within a generation which is a problem. The US asked quietly before the NATO mission begun if the European nations involved had thought through how expensive it would become, well aware that they had spent 3trn in Iraq already and that the EU was facing a debt crisis. Improving the prospects for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the Libyans is of course worth a lot and might have a stabilizing effect on the multiculturality of the EU. Well managed the oil wealth of Libya could mean a success rather than failure since it amounts to independence with the right development strategy.
On the most positive side then is that Europe might be in on a collaboration with the Arabs in moving North Africa closer to Europe. France , who was not in on the Iraq mission, is now in the front. Germany said initially that they would not mind helping out humanitarily and it would of course be good with a unified EU approach to supporting Libya. With some luck Libya might turn out to become more of a success story that the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, which would depend on a reshuffling of the security personnel in addition to a change of government.