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)