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.
This is possibly the best book I have read which to a certain degree depends on my current interest in how different cultures solves their state formation. Kissinger goes through the relation of the West and China since 1793 when the British was turned down by the Qing emperor.
The Chinese are apparently back to Confucianism in the "socialism with Chinese characteristics" that Deng Xiaoping built on the embers of what Mao left him with. Chinese characteristics is apparently anything that will make China great.
My problem of a return to Confucianism is that this philosophy placed China at a great disadvantage and that is was individual initative, the market and economical know-how from the West that made China what it is today. Deng was pushing for science and technology but he was very clear about not permitting any creativity in the political arena. He retired 3 years after Tiananmen after a Tour of the southern part of the country where he reiterated his thesis which still seems to be law in China.
Mao was against Confucianism as a class oppressive philosophy. Mao apparently thought Communism was liberative. It is clear from the book that there is no common ground between the West and China on values. Kissinger ends the book with a chapter where he asks, just like Niall Ferguson, if history will repeat itself with China as Germany and the US as Britain around 1900.
He ends the book on a positive note though and hopes that we will be able to build the world together rather than having it being shook by China's rise as predicted by Zhou Enlai when he and Kissinger sent out their 1971 communiqué after the opening up of China by Richard Nixon. Kissinger has a citation by Nixon where he claims the Chinese with a decent government would lead the world. I don't think they have that though and it does not seem like they will get one either. They simply do not have the proper values. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not respected in China.
Fredrik Reinfeldt, the prime minister of Sweden, yesterday in his Summer Speech thanked Maud Olofsson, the retiring Party Leader of the Swedish Center Party, because the Swedish right of center Political Alliance would not have come into existence without her. Apart from he skill as a minister she then must have projected a cohesive function and it would be interesting if it is this talent Hilary Clinton, the US State Department Secretary, is tapping now by consulting Olofsson.
If Olofssons largest talent is as a cohesive force for keeping four individualist parties together in an alliance, the current search for a new party leader in the Center Party would have to balance the need for cohesion and a profile that keeps that party above the 4% barrier for membership in the Riksdag, the Center Party just polled 4,3%. The unusually open search for a new party leader in the Center Party is of course highly dependent on the latter and Reinfeldt yesterday was careful with inviting the new leader to the "Alliansen".
It is of great importance that this coalition is maintained for the wellbeing of Sweden and as Reinfeldt pointed out in his speech the left of center coalition that challenged him last year does not exist anymore. All leaders will be exchanged shortly when also the Left Party is electing a new leader and furthermore they don't have a common project. We were lucky that the Swedish people called their empty hand.
Over 70% of the population think the US is on the wrong track. What seems to be important then is which new track is the US going to take? Or, which solution to their problems are the Americans going to chose? It should also be noted that Congress only gets a 17% job approval figure.
A possible hint can be seen in the result of yesterday in the Iowa Straw Poll where Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, both Tea Partyers with a libertarian streak, took 56% of the votes. Europeans are probably going to have problems with this direction if it materializes.
According to Francis Fukuyama’s book The Origins of Political Order from 2011 rule of law and accountable government originated in Europe quite early. Rule of law consolidated to the Common Law in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and Rule of law on the Continent came about from the canon of the Catholic Church which they put together from the Roman Justinian Code after having freed themselves from the state by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085). Individuality also was established from church ideas as well as from the inherent heritage from the barbaric German tribes and Anglo-Saxons. There must have been something inherently fair about these savages, like the Vikings, once they became christened and formalized their rule of law. The strong position of the woman in the family must stem from this source. It is conceivable that the political development had importance for the scientific revolution. The church was also important in the alternative path to democracy and rule of law for example seen in Denmark where the church educated the peasants who were then used by the king to balance out the nobles. The woman’s standing was good in Judaism at the time of David and Solomon but deteriorated down to the time of Christ. Jesus is of course quite kind to the woman, relatively speaking. A christened Europe in any case was a very different place compared to Muslim military slavery run countries, India and China.
Fukuyama pointed out the strong standing of the English woman relative the Muslim and Indian cultures that were also religious. She could sue and get sued, bequeath property and own and sell property without a male guardian from the 13th century. It is interesting to speculate on cultural difference between western barbarians and more eastern barbarians, the Teutons, that perhaps gives rise to the different philosophy seen between Britain and Germany. Fukuyama also pointed out that the Norman Conquest only changed the top layer of society and not the general organization of England into shires. In the same line of evidence it is then possible to say that christening of Barbarians in Europe did not change organization initially but that the individual character of each tribal society in a way was maintained. Another idea that might be interesting to delve on is that if there were differences in the time between 600 and 1000, are there larger or smaller differences between areas today? It might be possible to say that education homogenizes the populations but it might also be possible to say that different language groups might develop more differently than before because of faster communications. Clovis I was the first Catholic king of France who lived 466-511. Arian Christianity was common among the Goths at the time and the Catholic Venerable Bede christened part of England in 597. Vernacular translations of the Bible came first in England 1382 and then in Germany 1466. Italy and France did their translations later than northern Europe--an early difference in handling freedom.
S&P, one of the three large credit rating agencies in the US, late on Friday, after the markets closed, downgraded US one notch to AA+ from AAA. In this context it should be noted that a Chinese credit rating agency, Dagong, downgraded the US last week to a level on par with Spain. There seems to be a war on the interpretation of what is important and the reason might be that we are witnessing a clash between two economic cultures. The Chinese being state capitalism.
My own confidence in the US and its people is completely unshaken and it should be mentioned that France, Japan and South Korea don’t see any problems with US creditworthiness according to the Financial Times. China, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, makes a lot of noise and seems to disregard the fact that you do take a risk buying state papers. Instead they want to remake the world financial order to secure their investments. It would be interesting to read an initiated Swedish article evaluating the benefits or disadvantages to Sweden if China gets their way?
The first unified China, the Qin Dynasty, lasted only fourteen years, from 221BCE. It was a highly suppressive affair that alienated everyone in society although there was a unification of the spoken and written language. It was replaced by the Han Dynasty, 202BCE to 220CE, where Confucianism came back and the moral of the emperor ruling for the benefit of the ruled moral came back from the Legalist tradition under Qin. In 5BCE there were 60m people in China together with 130,000 bureaucrats.
Today there are 1,350m people in China and it occurred to me that Deng Xiaoping in 1978 would never have embarked on the Chinese miracle if it had not been for the technology that no one dares to speak of. Controlling such an amount of educated Middle Class Chinese the way the party wants to would not have been possible. If I am right in my conjecture, this would mean that the protocol used by the 80m people in the Communist Party is a prerequisite for the state whereas the West is using the technology on preexistant functioning states.
This would mean that governing such large conglomerates as China and the EU needs the technology. Francis Fukuyama discusses how China’s development compared with that of Europe and it is interesting to note that the seemingly blind alley that the Chinese already embarked on in 221BCE with the first modern dictatorship is something they might have cemented with the technology today making it virtually impossible for a democratic development. Fusing Europe in the EU is also something that has reversed democratization.
The frustrating discussion that have been ongoing since the financial crisis in 2008 on the fate of the EU then in all probability to a certain extent revolves around the question if national states are going to let go of their regular governance to the governance aided by the technology and thus emulation of China. Historically Europe never mustered the coercion needed by Qin to unify China. The geography was configured so as to promote different cultures and languages and the brute force of unification never materialized. Furthermore, the Catholic Church induced a social development that never happened in China which lacks the rule of law and an accountable government still today.
The latest gossip on the EU is that a two-speed super-state will form on the Continent with Britain on the side. The question then is if Germany will lead the Continent in the Chinese technology dependent fashion and that democracy with functioning governments using the technology will remain in Anglo-America?
With a basic education as a physician I turned to Tumor-Immunology Biochemistry research. I worked nearly 10 years at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. However, when I first came to Philadelphia in January 1984 I started a subscription on Foreign Affairs and later The Economist...