29/05/2012

Syria and the Threshold Problem

Over 100 people were massacred in Syria. Kofi Annan, United Nations and Arab League special envoy said, "I am personally shocked and horrified by the tragic incident in Houla...which took so many innocent lives, children, women and men". Arguments are raging in the United States about the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq; 6,000 service men and women dead, over $1 trillion dollars spent. To what end?

What is tolerable? At what point do we say enough is enough and change behavior? President Obama, it appears, became disenchanted with his military advisors when they asked for more troops and more time in Afghanistan without being able to specify how much it would cost and without clear doable objectives. The civil war in Syria continues to rage with innocent lives lost every day. Even Russia, Syria's ally, has condemned the violence, yet there has been no fundamental change in behavior from the warring parties or the international community.

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21/05/2012

Switzerland and the S-5 Get Smaller: Failed UN Security Council Reform

Unbeknownst to most of the world with France's new president, Facebook's IPO, the G8 meeting in Washington and the NATO summit, last Wednesday Switzerland, Costa Rica, Jordan, Singapore and Liechtenstein also made some headlines. Actually, it was not what they did but what they didn't do. The Small 5 - as opposed to the big P5 permanent members of the UN Security Council France, Britain, China, Russia and the U.S. - decided last Wednesday to withdraw a draft resolution which proposed to reform the working methods of the Security Council.

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10:04 Publié dans Switzerland, UNO | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) |  Imprimer |  Facebook | | | |

11/05/2012

Austerity or growth? How to React to a Crisis

Austerity or growth? Worry about the debt or create jobs? These are two questions that economists and politicians are debating. The voters in the recent French election, voters in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, the people in the streets of Athens, Madrid and elsewhere are answering these questions in their own way. Behind these choices are serious attitude differences about what to do in a crisis.

Austerity amounts to turning inward, not being confident that by reaching out and spending more wealth will be created. The assumption behind austerity is pessimistic and negative: doing less will do more; cutting taxes will lead to more liquidity which will lead to more spending which will create more jobs. Those who favor austerity tell us: "We are in a crisis; there is a large debt; government spending got us there, therefore reduce government spending.".

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10:50 Publié dans Russia, USA | Lien permanent | Commentaires (1) |  Imprimer |  Facebook | | | |

03/05/2012

Diplomatic Dancing With China

Binary distinctions are one of the easiest ways to see the world. Insider or outsider, with us or against us, friend or enemy. Even in technology, one can do a great deal of computer programming using only the numbers 0 and 1. How simple, how elegant, how comprehensible.

Unfortunately, the world as it is very often cannot be reduced to simplistic reductionism. Take the current crisis between the United States and China. This week will see the annual economic and strategic dialogue between the two countries. High level U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner, are in Beijing to meet with their counterparts. This dialogue process is a most positive development in the often contentious relations between the two countries. Regular meetings among top officials can only be applauded.

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18:35 Publié dans China | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) |  Imprimer |  Facebook | | | |