Britain may soon turn into a nation for the government, from the government and by the government.
- British economy sinks back into recession (abc.net.au)
- This is no way to meet Britain’s looming infrastructure challenge (telegraph.co.uk)
- Is Austerity to Blame for the UK’s Recession? (thedailybeast.com)
- Chancellor, this new recession isn’t Labour’s mess – it’s yours (guardian.co.uk)
- British recession won’t shake government’s fiscal plan (cbc.ca)
- Britain’s richest people see fortunes rise to record highs (vancouversun.com)
- Eurozone crisis has a long way to go, warns Cameron – The Independent (independent.co.uk)
- Britain in double-dip recession as growth falls 0.2pc – Telegraph.co.uk (telegraph.co.uk)
The spirit of the Congress of Vienna, where great powers assembled to effectively govern the world, has no place in the contemporary international community. The G20 is sorely lacking in legitimacy and must change.
A number of countries that have been central to international cooperation in the past, including Norway and the Nordic countries, are excluded from direct membership. Low-income countries and the continent of Africa are almost entirely without the needed representation.
As the response to the financial crisis showed, there is value in having an effective, smaller forum of nations, equipped to act quickly when necessary. But, within that framework, there are simple ways to make the G20 more representative of the world it influences. (via The G20 lacks legitimacy).
It is every man for himself
Caught in a vicious downward spiral, Europe is at a loss. Britain is moaning about the demise of its special relationship with the USA. Sarkozy is off to the US, to mend fences with the Americans. At Copenhagen, while the BASIC countries were negotiating a ‘deal’ with the USA, European countries were sitting out. Waiting for the Big Boys to finish their talks. Japan, China, Korea – along with the USA and India are meeting at Seoul in June to create a strategic oil reserve, against possible supply shocks. To be shuttered out like this, is an unfamiliar experience to Europe.
The Norwegian appeal for inclusion in G20 is to be seen in light of the above reality.
That man with a tan – Obama
Obama has been stressing that EU needs to get its act together and speak in a common voice. The days when 6-12 European countries walked onto centre-stage, are over, seemingly. And Norway is one such victim of the changed circumstances.
The Greek crisis is stressing the weak links between European States. A ‘suspected’ withdrawal by Germany from the EMU would devastate Europe – and EU. Should the EU collapse, the Nordic countries would be shut out from many global forum.
And it is this fear that fuels Norway’s plea for G20 membership!.
In the doghouse
But it was not Obama who put European principalities (Norway, ruled by a king, is too small to be called country) in the doghouse. It started when George Bush railroaded Europe into Iraq and Afghanistan. And excluded the habitual European attendees from G20 – like Norway.
“decided by a secretive five-strong committee appointed by the Norwegian parliament. All current members are former politicians drawn from Norway’s four biggest parties. It is chaired by Thorbjørn Jagland, a former Norwegian prime minister.”
It was noted that,
“Worldwide astonishment greeted the decision yesterday to give Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. The U.S. President has been in office for less than nine months, has yet to score a major foreign policy success. He had not even known he was among the record 205 nominations. The deadline for submitting candidates had come just 12 days after he entered the White House.”
At the airport, he was welcomed by the ”Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Kaci Kullmann Five, deputy chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.” In his acceptance speech, Obama admitted that maybe there were “more deserving” candidates. Was the Nobel price in anticipation of a Nordic inclusion in G20? For turning a more benign American eye towards Europe?
Norway raised its claim for G20 membership, the Financial Times wrote
a month before Barack Obama, the US president, visits Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Jonas Gahr Store proposed that members of the Nordic Council – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland – could share a rotating seat together with the Baltic states and possibly Poland.
Spain and the Netherlands have managed to secure invitations to all three summits since the financial crisis without being official members. But others such as Poland, Belgium and the Nordic countries have been excluded.
So much for Norway’s Nobel price.
The legitimacy of G20
Jonas Gahr Støre is stressing about the ‘legitimacy’ of the G20 group. If the G20 is indeed illegitimate, then in that case, Shri Støre, you should ask for disbanding the G20! Not make a desperate plea for inclusion into the G20. Will an illegitimate forum become legitimate by Nordic Norway’s inclusion?
That reminds me. Norway was one of the ‘moving’ spirits’ behind the Copenhagen Circus on climate change. This Copenhagen Circus sought to impose a rule of Western NGOs on poor countries of the world. Faceless NGOs, without accountability to anyone, were able to bring global political leadership, to the very brink of an agreement. How legitimate was that Shri Støre?
Støre’s logic somehow escapes me.
Norway- One Great Power
Shri Støre invokes the hoary spirit of the “Congress of Vienna, where great powers assembled to effectively govern the world” . Now, by what logic do ‘Great Powers’ derive legitimacy to govern the world? By Norway’s inclusion?
Shri Jonas Gahr Støre has sent out copies of the same PR material, to Malaysia (published in the New Straits Times), in Canada (published in the Ottawa Citizen), and in the (as per the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway) in The Straits Times (Manila, the Philippines), 6 April 2010 – Al Hayat, 7 April 2010.
God has been kind to Norway! Instead of thanking God for His kindness, for underground wealth – and for natural beauty above the ground. Instead, Norway wants to be ‘recognized’ as a ‘Great Power’!
Norway’s claim to fame is oil. Some 12%-15% of Norway’s GDP is oil. A significant part of Norway’s wealth is “raw products mined and processed in Norway include iron ore, lead concentrates, titanium, iron pyrites, coal, zinc, and copper.” Is Norway’s claim to be a ‘Great Power” based on something buried underground!
15% of Norway’s GDP is Tourism! With more than 1,1oo hotels and nearly 1,000 registered campsites, with picturesque coastline and fjords plus a number of well-known ski resorts. By the way, Norway’s population is about 45 lakhs – 4.5 million.
Manufacturing accounts for an awesome, jaw-dropping 1 percent of Norway’s annual GDP.
The world must listen to
Norway’s population is lesser than Haiti! If there is one country that the world needs to hear clearly and audibly, it is Haiti. Compared to Norway, Haiti has a far superior claim to be a Great Power. Single-handedly responsible for forcing the West to abandon slavery, Haiti has been a victim of Western vindictiveness. It is time that the world listened to Haiti. And for Norway to keep quiet!
And be grateful to God!
There are two types of European state visitors in the United States capital. One seeks to underscore his or her closeness to Washington. The other likes to emphasize how independent Europe really is. But French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is visiting American Senators and US President Barack Obama, would like to be both at the same time.
Sarkozy also wants to remind the Americans that, as a European, he can defy them. In a speech given in New York on Monday, the Frenchman repeated his demand for better regulation of the global economy. “We can no longer accept a capitalist system without rules or order,” Sarkozy said. “The world economic regulations cannot go on as they are,” Sarkozy said. “A system in which the most money is earned through speculating instead of producing, I don’t want to live in such a system.”
Of course, Sarkozy needs to score points back at home, too. Only last weekend, he was punished in regional elections in France. In an interview, Sarkozy’s own father advised his son not to run for re-election. Given his electoral setback, it makes sense for Sarkozy to bang the drum for French and European interests in Washington. Obama, on the other hand, is feeling reinvigorated following the passage of his healthcare reform through Congress and the new arms treaty with Moscow.
When the US president traveled to Paris last year, he preferred to dine with his wife Michelle rather than Sarkozy. “The hoped-for partnership never materialized,” the French daily Le Figaro wrote. Sarkozy hasn’t forgiven his American colleague for it, either. He has complained to those close to him that Obama is ill-prepared to govern, noting that he didn’t even hold a cabinet-level position before taking office.
The Americans are disappointed that, even after the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty — which was meant to give the European Union’s common foreign policy more clout — the individual European countries are continuing to pursue their own interests abroad. The question, former senior US diplomat and current Harvard professor Nicholas Burnsin an interview with the New York Times, is whether Europe can “develop a collective European idea of global power? They talk about it a lot, but they don’t do it.” The Washington Post has even criticized Obama for this, noting that in contrast to his predecessors, he hasn’t established close ties to a single European leader.
John Podesta, the leader of Obama’s transition team that helped prepare the newly elected president for the White House in 2009, told SPIEGEL: “His style is certainly different from George W. Bush who wanted to be liked and really developed deep personal relationships.”"But if you have the wrong foreign policy and good personal relations, you end up with bad results,” he added. “And if you have the right foreign policy, a strong team to implement it, and thinner personal relations, you’re more likely to have very good results.”(via L’Americain in Washington: Sarkozy Searches for Friendship with Obama that Has Eluded Him – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International).
Between Europe and racism
While 2ndlook was analyzing the new calculus between USA and Europe, a worried European press (for instance, Der Spiegel) was looking at Franco-American relations through a German prism.
For Europe, the experience of dealing with Obama has been different – and difficult. Europeans would like to pretend that Obama’s race does not make a difference – but it took Berlusconi to spell out the European ‘superiority’! That probably rankles with Obama.
Franco-American relations – a perspective
In the 1960s, the USA was bleeding gold. Most of the world was buying gold at an artificially low price US$35 – under the Bretton Woods Agreement. USA was printing dollars and dumping it in world markets. Calls for devaluation of the dollar price was resisted by the US, as that “would reward the speculators and be a special windfall for two gold producing countries that have few friends in the Congress, namely Russia (which usually sells at least $400 of gold a year) and South Africa (which sells about $1 billion).”
The French team of Charles de Gaulle and his economic advisor, Jacques Rueff did some quick maths. It was clear this मेला mela (a ‘fun-fair’) would not last long. Based on huge dollar outflows from the US, the French decided to call the bluff. The French started redeeming gold for their dollar earnings – and for this ‘perfidy’ the US had not forgiven France.
The French, unhappy with a “monetary system of gold, dollars and pounds” redeemed their dollar holdings (1958 onwards), sent the French navy (in 1965) to take delivery of gold from USA and bring it to Banque de France. The French raised gold reserves and dumped dollars. Time magazine called this “an open assault on the monetary power of a friendly nation” – dutifully, echoing American Government’s feeling. Banque De France finally, by 1968, increased its gold reserve to 92% (as a percentage of total foreign currency /monetary reserves). This was much like the pre-WW2 French methodology devaluation, new peg, of old debt for new gold routine got the US hackles up.
Many decades have passed since these redemptions by France. The new French President, Sarkozy believes it is now possible to renew US-French relations.
If wishes were horses!
It was at Copenhagen, that for the first time, Europe realized that they no longer have the inside track with the USA. At least, in Obama’s administration. The ‘special relationship’ that swells the British chest, has been under some strain. For some time now. The US engagement with Asia makes some sense – as it is Asia, which has extended some US$3-4 trillion in credit, growth opportunities to the US. Europe increasingly seems more like a liability – and a truculent competitor.
The US presumably knows which side of their bread is buttered.
With Government debt level ranging between 2%-20%, Russia is in a league of its own. No other major government in the world has such low-levels of debt.
- Putin Seeks Russian Presidency, Eyes Job Swap With Medvedev (businessweek.com)
- Fears Vladimir Putin will turn Russia into outright dictatorship (telegraph.co.uk)
- Finance Minister Will Quit Russian Government (nytimes.com)
- Russian bonds riding a wave of success (rt.com)
- Russia Yield Advantage Shrinks to 10-Month Low Amid Bond Sales (businessweek.com)
To protect themselves against disruptions in crude oil supplies, India, Japan, China, South Korea and the US will meet in June in Seoul to work on a joint response mechanism based on their combined strategic crude oil reserves. The five nations together account for 44% of global demand.Strategic crude oil reserves are a country’s answer to counter short-term supply disruptions. They are state-funded and meant to tackle emergency situations. (via India, US and China consider joint strategic crude oil response – Money Matters – livemint.com).
A rather sudden development – and not widely reported, at that. Much trawling over the internet could not find any other reports on this meeting – except this one report in Livemint, linked above. It appears that this meeting in Seoul, is a follow-on meeting to the one that China proposed and hosted in 2006.
Energy security has long been an issue with China – which seems to have influenced its foreign policy strongly. Korea has long been working on energy security with Middle East producers. India has worked on some oil storage plans with foreign investments.
Considering the low-output since the China confab, nearly four years ago, in the short run, there is little scope for any tangible outcome from the Seoul conclave. Developments if any, will only be long-term in nature – and will need significant co-ordination in oil exploration, shipping, storage, and transportation. But what it does, is establish an Asian forum for Asia’s big economies to coördinate policy.
Not a bad idea at all.
This meeting has quite some background. With the changing power equations in Asia, Korea finds itself in a difficult situation. For historical reasons, they cannot see themselves being very close to Japan (bad memories of Japanese occupation) or China (China’s support for North Korea, hegemonic designs of China, etc.).
On the other hand, the Korean experience in India has been positive. Korean brands like Hyundai, Samsung and LG have done exceedingly well in India, Unlike Chinese brands, Korean products have been received warmly by Indians. Indian prowess in design, R&D, software, also complement Korean manufacturing, global scales and plans. Korea and India have signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in August, 2009.
In India, Korea is seen as a rare, non-threatening, non-exploitative industrial-economy player.
It was at Copenhagen, that for the first time, Europe realized that they no longer have the inside track with the USA. At least Obama’s administration. The ‘special relationship’ that swells the British chest has been under some strain – for some time now. The US engagement with Asia makes some sense – as it is Asia which has extended nearly US$3-4 trillion in credit, growth opportunities to the US. Europe increasingly seems more like a liability – and a truculent competitor.
The US presumably knows which side of their bread is buttered.
Post-Copenhagen, a grateful China has been effusive towards India – at least temporarily. The Chinese press did a roundel for 60 years of India-China diplomatic relationship. With this we have a round-up of the entire scenario. The sentiment and motivation are thick enough to cut with even a blunt knife.
This time around.
The old culture managed to live through many a fierce storm and tempest, but though it kept its outer form, it lost its real content. Today it is fighting silently and desperately against a new and all-powerful opponent — the bania civilisation of the capitalist West. It will succumb to the newcomer, for the West brings science, and science brings food for the hungry millions. But the West also brings an antidote to the evils of this cut-throat civilisation — the principles of socialism, of cooperation, and service to the community for the common good. This is not so unlike the old Brahmin idea of service. (from Jawaharlal Nehru, an autobiography: with musings on recent events in India By Jawaharlal Nehru via Nehru: Man Among Men By Raja R. Mehrotra).
India and Nehru got off to wrong start at the very first instant. When he made his ‘famous’ tryst with destiny speech, who was Nehru talking to? To the less than 5% Indians who understood English? If Free India’s first Prime Minister did not see fit to talk to Indians intelligibly, how close or how much did he care for India?
Nehru’s ideas about Indian history are possibly his biggest failing. Nehru’s puerile ignorance about India’s scientific tradition does not deserve further examination. Look at his pseudo-romantic ideas of Indian Brahminism.
In Upanishadic times, there was the Nachiketa story, where his rich Brahman father, Uddalaka, /Vajasrava, was ‘giving’ away old, barren, unproductive cows – and keeping the best for himself. Obviously, Uddalaka, /Vajasrava did not become rich through ‘selfless’ service. Probably, Nehru was not Brahmin enough to know this lesson. Or we can blame his British school, Harrow. Why did they not teach him anything much about Upanishads?
Much after Uddalaka /Vajasrava, foreign students paid upto 1000 coins in advance to receive education at Takshashila – and there were thousands of such students. Students came from all over the world – and paid large sums of money to Indian teachers for education!
The Tibetan-Buddhist student, Marpa, the Translator (1012–1099), was warned by a co-traveller “If you go to India without lots of gold, searching for dharma will be like trying to drink water from an empty gourd.” Interestingly, Naropa, the Indian teacher forced Marpa to give up his entire stock of gold. Having extracted all of Marpa’s gold, Naropa threw all the gold dust, up in the air, exclaiming that the whole world was gold to him. Where was Nehru’s much-vaunted Brahmin idea of service then. Nehru’s ideas of Brahminical selfless service were alien to India – as were his ideas of rampant, extractive, profiteering banias.
Indian trade ethics
Indian banias were limited in their profit-taking by शुभ लाभ ‘shubh-labh’ ethics. It is शुभ लाभ shubh labh, that prevents traditional Indian merchant community, from dealing with slaves, drugs and alcohol. The ‘green’ agenda of शुभ लाभ shubl labh, also prevents traditional banias from dealing in meat products. Unlike Nehru’s British banias whose wealth was created from slave trade – apart from drugs and alcohol.
Historically, trade in India is governed by शुभ लाभ ‘shubh labh’ – and hence Indians have not been major players in drugs proliferation (unlike Japan, the West, which traded Opium in Korea and China) or in slave trade. In modern times, India is not a big player in spamming or in software virus – though a power in computing industry. In August 2008, a hoax story alleged that an Indian hacker, had broken into a credit card database, and sold it to the European underworld. Some ‘experts’ feared that this would spark of a crime wave across Europe.
On slavery, the very basis of Western dominance, in his autobiography of nearly 500 pages, Nehru mentions slavery less than 5 times. Which just goes onto to show how well the Indian colonial masters had ‘supressed’ their own real history and source of wealth.
Underneath the Western sky
Colonial India’s English push was understandable. But, Nehru’s imposition of English on India is beyond defence. What more, after 60 years of Independence, state patronage of English language is unwarranted by the Indian Republic – and illegitimate. Making sense of the newly formed Indian nation was herculean task – even for Nehru. After more than a century of propaganda, Western ‘education’, inversion of history, post-colonial Indian rulers struggled between the ‘glossy’ imported idioms and the familiar native dialogue.
Caught in this dilemma, the Nehruvian Indian State vacillates between a unique Indic inheritance and the detritus of dead-end colonialism.
Assault on Indian academia
Mohammed Bakhtiar Khilji destroyed the Universities and schools of Nalanda, Vikramshila, Odantapura and Jagddala around 1200 AD. This marked the destruction, persecution and decline in Indian education, thought and structure. 600 years later, the British further damaged the Indic system of education, with State subsidies and patronage of Western education – the watershed being Bentinck’s proclamation in 1835.
Thus, the reduced (quality and quantity) output from the ‘Indian thought factory’ led to stasis and the decline that we see today – through the prism of last 800 years of violence and destruction of Indic thought. This problem gets further magnified with the existing and continued subsidy to English language /Western education by the Indian Government.
Many centuries ago, Indians (under Islamic rulers) thought that Persian was the most important language in the world. And then it became Urdu. Now there are hosannas to English. Persian and Urdu were languages that the ruling class foisted on the Indians.
As is English.