Fernando Fuster-Fabra's Blog

LEADERS & LIES

December 31, 2012
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World leaders

 

“Others judge us by our past deeds, we value ourselves on what we are capable of achieving, but it seems no one bothers to evaluate what we are doing here and now.

–       Fernando Fuster-Fabra Fdz.

 

Spanish version: http://wp.me/pRlnf-7C

 

Year 2012 could have been the turning point for the crisis but it has ended being the consolidation of a disastrous style of world governance.

 

The replacement amongst elected and appointed posts in the countries relevant in planning global economy have barely contributed to substantial changes in the governance criteria.

 

A Barack Obama who defaulted on several of his electoral promises during his first term of office ended being reelected whilst the diplomatic incursions of his nation continued leaving dead in the streets of the Middle East. Today, he is still engaged in a tug-of-war with his political adversaries on the brink of the ‘fiscal cliff’, with the worldwide risks same represents for all other state economies.

 

The succession in China has not deterred the tight-fisted censorship that citizens suffer in their path towards global communications thru the new technologies. While they boast of bullet trains, they restrain human rights.

 

European leaders are incapable of reaching an agreement on how to manage a crisis baptized with a name (Euro Crisis) that has little to do with the real situation.  I will not even bother to list down their individual weaknesses as it would turn out to be a never-ending string.

 

Latin America continues being a keg of gunpowder about to vlast depending on who has the lit match in his hand. To mention the extremes, these swing from the inflation down south to the northern assassinations in the hands of the drug mafias.

 

India bears the burden of its most negative traditions, unable to avail of the opportunity of the moment. Corruption, as in many other parts, contaminates the atmosphere just as much its outdated transport system.

 

Russia hardly will ever be a true democracy while people like Putin desire to perpetuate themselves in power. The shadow of the Kremlin hovers like a vulture over its former domains.

 

Japan has just elected a new prime minister of the old school in the hope of salvaging their stagnant economy just as it faces a territorial dispute with neighbouring China over a handful of islands in the China Sea. 

 

The sad truth is that 2012 has been a year wasted by a bunch of leaders who not only did not fulfill but also lied, some rather shamelessly.

 

Who are the ones that control them and who are the true governors of the world?

 

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Sitges – Barcelona, Spain    

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EUROPE’S UNION IN THE CROSSROADS: DO OR DIE

November 15, 2011
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Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.

–       Albert Einstein

 

 

 

 

Spanish version:  http://wp.me/pRlnf-4D

 

The G-20 Summit of world leaders was held in Cannes a few days ago. As expected, no decisions were taken to resolve the economic crisis that affects the stability of a great number of countries. Not a word was said about establishing restrictions to speculative abuses that crop up based on ratings of agencies prone to cause alarm with their presumptions. Assisting the summit were the principal European leaders representing the EU as well as Germany, France, Italy and United Kingdom as full-pledged members, with Spain and The Netherlands as guests.

Just a few miles away, in Brussels, the Greek crisis with a call for referendum warning and the forthcoming Italian tempest had been left unsolved. Today, the Greek crisis remains unsolved although Greece’s elected Prime Minister (Papandreou) has had to step down and a new one (Papademos) appointed in his place without any elections.  Something similar went on in Italy just a few hours ago, with the forced resignation of Berlusconi after the approval of the demanded reforms and the appointment of Monti to replace him.

Two new figures, not elected by their respective citizens, assume their respective tasks; technocrats, as they are called, but without analysing their close links to the financial structures that, in my opinion, have been the root of this entire regrettable situation. Lukas Papademos was Vice-President of the ECB from 2002 till 2008 when Jean Claude Trichet was President whilst Mario Monti not only was a European Commissioner but also a consultant of the notorious American bank, Goldman Sachs.

Furthermore, in November, the turnover at the ECB has also taken place, with an Italian, Mario Draghi, taking over the chair occupied by Trichet from 2003 till late October. He is another figure related to the bank (Goldman Sachs) that caused more than a single financial quake, amongst which it is worth mentioning its advisory role to the Greek Government in the times of the conservative, Kostas Karamanlis, precisely when the state accounts were falsified in the reports to Brussels.

The irony of this entire circus is that a legitimately elected Papandreou was forced out of office for calling a referendum to approve his proposals but no one has said a word about prosecuting neither Karamanlis nor Goldman Sachs por having intentionally lied, causing the domino effect on the weaker Eurozone economies.

Thus, not only has a chance been lost in Cannes to set up global regulating and supervisory measure of the larger banking entities as well as the rating agencies but also it has allowed a slow transfer of previous bank executives and personalities linked to these entities to occupy relevant posts in the hierarchical big-shots of the EU and in the government of its member states.

Likewise, the American stance has taken a 360 degree change from Pittsburgh to Cannes. With elections in 2012, Obama does not wish to risk any confrontation with potential donors for his campaign funds, amongst which we may mention the larger U.S. banks and the powerful Jewish lobby. He abandons Europe to its fate, above all because he does not share the curt German stance in some questions of procedure and timing. Not even the goodwill efforts of the French President and proud father of a baby girl served to ease the tense atmosphere. Furthermore, Obama is aware that in spite of the Euro crisis, the currency has a strong quotation, benefitting the U.S. Dollar and facilitating its exports to the Old Continent while decreasing European countries competitiveness in world trade.

What seems to have gone unnoticed in all this week of European tension after the Cannes summit is that Munich  prosecutors ordered a search in the Deutsche Bank offices in relation to the famous ‘Kirch affaire’. In spite of the death of communications magnate, Leo Kirch, the lawsuit against Deutsche Bank continues its course, with outgoing CEO, Josef Ackerman, in the midst of the storm. The matter must have been of such importance that Ackerman announced his decision not to seek the appointment to the bank’s presidency, a rather difficult manoeuvre after the German banking law reforms in 2009. Said reforms establish a two-year grace period before a former CEO can aspire to the presidential post of a bank, with the only exception that 25% of the stockholders so demanded.

Angela Merkel has covered many inside details of the decisions taken in relation with the German banking system between 2005 and 2011, as well as her personal pact with Gerhard Schröder, with regards such a vital issue as energy, disguised under the so-called ‘grand coalition’. Few are conscious of the of Merkel’s stubborn tenacity that has brought her from that membership in the communist youth movement in her younger years in the extinguished GDR to become ‘my girl’ for conservative, Helmut Kohl. Her rise to power came by pure chance after a scandal caused the downfall of Kohl’s chosen successor, Wolfgang Schäuble, actually the Economic Minister in Merkel’s cabinet.

Perhaps that is the reason that one has given due importance to the very recent announcement of the inauguration of start-up of Operation Nord Stream, the gas pipeline agreed upon between Russia and German, with the blessing of France, The Netherlands and United Kingdom. Said pipeline will go from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany in a submarine line across the Baltic Sea. In Russia’s behalf the participations is headed by state-owned Gazprom as natural gas supplier and Nord Stream AG, a German enterprise has been set up to handle constructions and operations. It is interesting to observe that former Prime Minister Schröeder has been involved in the Nord Stream project and with Gazprom since December, 2005, roughly a month after stepping down in favour of Angela Merkel.   

What makes this affair even uglier is the fact that the powerful EU members will share the spoils of Russian gas without sharing a bit with other Baltic member states, namely – Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia – nor seem to have offered a gas link to the Scandinavian states for the moment. Nevertheless, said gas will indeed go across the English Channel to the United Kingdom.

This project is contrary to the interest of the pan-European Nabucco project which had set the goal of constructing a gas pipeline from Erzurum in Turkey to Baumgarten in Austria, precisely with the intention of breaking EU dependence on Russian gas supply. The problems generated with Gazprom gas supply through Ukraine have left Central Europe and Italy without a reliable supply in more than one occasion whilst Turkey had offered its facilities in a sign of goodwill in its bid to join the EU. Germany has again vetoed a state that has been accumulating more merits to join the EU than some who already are in.

With partners who demand from the south sacrifices but will not share the favourable agreements with other non-EU states, it is no wonder that the Union of 27, each day, is turning into a more difficult endeavour.  In addition, those who impose the terms & conditions interpret the Stability & Growth Pact in such a manner as to oblige members to apply solutions thought out in conventional terms, in precisely the same line as those that created the problem.

Whilst our present-century ‘Medea’ is bossing around in Europe, the route travelled will be the wrong one and the estrangement amongst members each day larger.  How much must we wait before Merkel is sent into exile?     

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona, Spain     


CAPITALISM’S CASINO & ITS RIGGED ROULLETTE

October 31, 2011
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I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize.

–       George Bernard Shaw

 

Versión Español:

http://wp.me/pRlnf-4v

 

I have come to wonder if the witty Bernard Shaw in saying what he said about the Nobel Prize was right, especially after the awards for 2009 (Barack Obama), passing thru 2010 (Liu Xiaobo) to come to 2011 where the award is shared by three women (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman) “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”.

Whereas Barack Obama’s award was premature as time has demonstrated, Liu Xiaobo’s final compensation was a longer jail term in the wake of Western silence; and the three women from Liberia (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf & Leymah Gbowee) and Yemen (Tawakkul Karman) may well have to wait ages before women’s rights, or citizen’s rights for that matter, are respected and full participation given to these in Africa and the Middle East. Much less will it be possible to see peace-building in these parts of the world after the Western blunders in international affairs affecting the countries of those regions.

The world went into an economic descending spiral that commenced with the 2007 U.S. sub-prime crisis and continued with the 2008 Lehman Brothers scandal, dragging the world into an even deeper dilemma – the total absence of ethics in the search for a common solution to our woes.

The Arab Spring that commenced with a bonzo burning of the young Tunisian, Mohamed Bouazizi, in Sidi Bouzid on December 17, 2010, set off a series of protests all over Africa and the Middle East, causing the fall of a number of long-term dictators ruling the region with complacent U.S. and European support. Curiously enough, all the U.S.-E.U. friendly dictators (Ben Ali of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt) have saved their necks thus far whilst others (Saleh of Yemen, Algeria’s Bouteflika or Syria’s Assad) continue ruling their territories with uneven Western support. Only one leader, Muammar el-Qaddafi, was assassinated in the hands of the rising political leaders of the ‘liberated Libya’ with NATO bombing support and United Nations sanction, in the name of civilian protection.

Do leaders really think the world is so blind not to see that all of their actions are a mere farce to cover up the fact that this world is governed by vested interests pulling the strings from back-stage?

As in Iraq and Afghanistan, petroleum and other fuels have been in the bulls-eye of all conflicts. The Northern African and Middle East conflagrations are along the same line, with Qaddafi’s elimination vital to cut off any possible leadership against vested interest moves to control the regional energetic resources. Furthermore, tiny conflicts are profitable for large corporations engaged in armament & aircraft technologies; and likewise these are of interest to companies offering their security services in unstable situations all over the world.

The sixth G-20 Summit is scheduled in Cannes November 3 & 4, with French President Nicholas Sarkozy as host. Long past is the first 2008 summit in Washington D.C. where he clamoured for “the re-foundation of capitalism”. Also forgotten, it seems, are U.S. President Obama’s September 8, 2009 statement on the Pittsburgh summit, “… It’s important to note how far we have come in preventing a global economic catastrophe. A year ago, our economy was in a freefall. …. The steps that we have taken to jumpstart growth have also been coordinated with our partners around the world. …. As the leaders of the world’s largest economies, we have a responsibility to work together on behalf of sustained growth, while putting in place the rules of the road that can prevent this kind of crisis from happening again.”

At Cannes, not only has capitalism not been re-founded nor have the world leaders worked together on behalf of sustained growth but also, and most important of all, we have followed a path in the wrong direction that leads to, not prevents, a global socio-economic catastrophe.

Well and good to claim women’s rights for all those who may not still have them all over the world but better still would be to stop once and for all 25,000 daily deaths due to hunger and disease.

How can this be possible in a planet capable of feeding twice its population?

The only answer that comes up to my mind is that we, the anguished citizens of the world, are playing a lopsided betting game in capitalism’s casino, where our meagre resources are up against 1 to a million odds in a vested interests rigged roulette.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona, Spain     


20 YEARS AFTER, FROM THE USSR TO PRESENT-DAY RUSSIA

August 18, 2011
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Spanish version :-    http://wp.me/pRlnf-4m

 

After a failed coup, USSR Premier Mijail Gorvachov handed over the power of the disintegrating empire to Boris Yeltsin. In no time, the USSR was no more.

Even today, we must ask ourselves what would have been of this world if the process would have remained in the hands of Gorvachov instead of Yeltsin.

In spite of the supposed end of the Cold War, at that stage, the Russia Yeltsin is supposed to have constructed is no different from the USSR that Gorvachov tried to change with his Perestroika. A convinced Leninist, this world leader was less understood at home than abroad. Nevertheless, the Western World failed to give him the support he needed. Yeltsin took over but really no change occurred than a change of name and the celebration of apparently tutored democratic elections.

Today, 20 years after, Russia has not advanced sufficiently towards democracy nor has eradicated the corrupt ways of the defunct USSR. Power is still concentrated in the hands of a few with a strongman at the helm of its destiny. As one of the emerging states that form the so-called BRIC bloc, Russia is expected to propel world economy. How is that to take place when its leaders remain adamant to democratic change in the course of its economic advances?

 

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona, Spain

 


MALADIES OF THE UNETHICAL IN POWER

May 16, 2011
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Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

–       Leo Tolstoy

Spanish version :      http://wp.me/pRlnf-47


I have often asked myself if the exercise of power of any nature produces maladies unknown to common mortals. The latest front-page news on Strauss-Kahn’s arrest in New York has revived my quest for an answer to my doubt.

As the all-powerful Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn had raised himself to the Olympus in preparation for even greater glories to come in the forthcoming French presidential elections. No one seemed to spare oneself praise of the politician’s supposed achievements in re-conducting the entity’s policies towards a more effective IMF.

Forgotten in the midst of all such praise was a rather annoying unethical incident that by itself should have forced Dominique Strauss-Kahn to resign immediately. I am referring to his admittance of a love affair with a subordinate in the IMF in 2008, whereby he exercised abuse of authority to cover up his relationship and could have possibly benefited from his superiority in all the regretful issue. The IMF, after a rather ridiculous wash-up investigation, accepted the Managing Director’s apologies and buried the issue without more ado.

Last Saturday, Strauss-Kahn was arrested when he had hastily boarded a flight to Paris. Nothing would seem unusual for him to depart the USA towards Europe, much less when he had scheduled meetings with Angela Merkel in Germany and the Eurogroup in Brussels this week. What was surprising was that in his haste to catch the flight, he had left some of his personal effects in the hotel suite that included his cell phone. Since then, he has been charged with “a criminal sexual act, attempted rape, and an unlawful imprisonment in connection with a sexual assault” on a chambermaid in a Manhattan hotel. What cannot be denied is that the NY police would hardly act with such haste, much less board a plane about to depart unless they had some solvent proof of the chambermaid’s accusation.

Allowing the margin that everyone has a right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, what cannot be forgotten is that the 2008 incident in the IMF organisation should have been sufficient for Strauss-Kahn to have been kicked out for unethical conduct in his Managing Director’s post. Not having been relieved then may now have lead to his further abuse of power in this lamentable sexual accusation filed by a chambermaid of a luxurious Manhattan hotel.

One must not forget that in 2007, the then President of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, abused his power by promoting his girlfriend and hiking her pay, causing his later resignation.

Recalling said incidents such as these at the World Bank and IMF, one must come to the conclusion that either the appointees to such relevant posts are not thoroughly screened as per minimum ethical standards or these men are engrossed in a raging spiral of power that change them.

Whichever the reason, these men do not deserve to occupy relevant posts unless they can exercise power with ethics.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona  


CHINESE CHECKERS & WORLD ECONOMICS

February 7, 2011
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In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.Confucius

Chinese Checkers board

 

China is still a paradox for the Western developed nations even as it slowly sips capitalism, converting itself into the second world economic power. What China may not be willing to wholly swallow is the tint of democracy that inevitably goes with economic wealth and prosperity, as very recently demonstrated in relation to the Nobel Peace Award.

 

To understand China and its strategy on international relations, one must either have lived in Asia amongst Chinese for some time or try to find a palpable example of how these perseverant people draw up their goals and lay out their strategy.

 

If one has ever had a chance to play Chinese Checkers, he/she would easily comprehend what the past weeks of international actions by Chinese dignitaries in several fronts represent. Decidedly, China has had to put its foot forward to seek recovery of its wavering prestige after the absence of Liu Xiaobo at the Oslo Nobel Peace Awards ceremony last December 10, 2010.

 

On the checkers board, China has come to realise the order of priorities of the other international powers seated at the games table. Its growing economic power is no longer doubted and even Japan has admitted that its Asian neighbour has surpassed Nippon economic might if not replaced it as Asia’s primary industrial nation. If there is an Asian trait where China outshines is in perseverance towards established goals; and the present-day Chinese regime has understood that whilst not having to relinquish its communist ideals, capitalism offers it the best launching pad towards economic prosperity. Kissinger’s role in the Ping-Pong Diplomacy with then China’s Prime Minister Chou En-lai led to the Communist regime taking over the UN seat the Nationalist Chinese had occupied since the organisation’s constitution in 1945.  Ever since the Nixon Administration acknowledged in 1972 the existence of a Communist government (People’s Republic of China) in Beijing in the now famous Shanghai Communiqué during President Nixon’s week-long state visit to China, the trail was set for the USA to formally break diplomatic relations with its natural ally, the Taiwan-based Republic of China and establish formal relations with the larger mainland Chinese government in 1979.

 

Once the supreme world leader, the United States of America, took that step, all other democratic nations have the go-signal to establish open trade relations with the PRC. A few of the so-called non-aligned had already recognised diplomatically and some others had submerged trade relations behind the USA’s back. Year 1979 marked the turning point to openly trade with the nation with the world’s largest (and still growing) population.

 

Precisely what seems to have attracted most other states, China’s immense population as a potential market, could very well be the Communist regime’s ‘Achilles’ heel’ as time goes by. True to say, China has imposed birth controls measures some time ago to put a stop to the exponential growth of its population, especially in the rural area. However, as time goes by, the tides may have changed, especially in the macro-urban area such as Beijing & Shanghai. The high cost of living in tentative consumer zones discourage Chinese couples to have off-springs, leading to the initial break of birth of toddlers who would later have to support the burden of aging generations.

 

If China would look into this problem now, it would be faced with the true dilemma of its accelerated blossoming into one of the world’s leading economies. The problem China has yet to face is that of unequal wealth between urban citizens and those Chinese residing in rural, industrial and mining zones. It is creating a serious breach in consumer habits as well as modes of living that could very well end in a cause of medium-term future conflict.

 

China is converging into a unique model with a strengthened economy based both on its cheap labour and consistent industrial development. However, in the process, it is retaining the worst part of its Communist heritage and adopting the less solvent portion of democratic developed nations’ growth model that of a global unsupervised market. In the short-term, this has permitted China to take an empowerment role in international economics to the point it possesses the world’s Nº 1 bank and PRC’s investments in other states’ bonds. It has acquired businesses and land both in Latin America and Africa, in a clear attempt to diversify risk.

 

It has however not considered that the true risk to its upcoming combo-type regime that fails to relinquish old ideological traits whilst it embraces economic habits of Western democracies lies in splitting up of its vast population and territory into nuclei where one or the other purist model may finally wish to prevail. China should comprehend that it would prove insufficient to have a leader educated in the UK to make 1.350 million (1.35 B for Americans) citizens toe the line towards a democratic regime.

 

Furthermore, it will take more than mere networking at conferences such as the recently-ended Davos World Economic Forum (where China’s delegation passed from 6 in 2001 to 66 in 2010) or the state visits by its premier and vice-premier to the USA and the stronger EU states to really convert China into a full-pledged democracy. Such time is both far and near, depending on which side of the fence one may see it from.

 

Revolutions are not writhe in a day, much less in a vast territory subdued during decades by the charm of Mao Tse Tung. Nevertheless, few would have expected the turmoil that now plagues Egypt but had its first spark in Tunisia. Global communications is changing social interaction habits for good.

 

China has played well its external economic moves on the checkers board; to the point that major other players sit agape in admiration whilst freedom is curtailed. What goes on within the walls of that other China is another story and few abroad are aware of the tensions that may be developing. How long before China either proves the solvency of its economic power or succumbs to its evident internal socio-economic disorganisation?

 

In the Year of the Metal Rabbit that has just started, China may well have to turn inwards in order to reach the true goals desired by its now open-eyed citizens immersed in the new pleasures of a semi-restrained global consumer economy.

 

 

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona

 

 


HAITI A YEAR AFTER

January 13, 2011
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Atletas Olímpicos de España / Olympic Athletes from Spain

 

Versión en Español –              http://wp.me/pRlnf-2V


Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.Michael Crichton

After the earthquakes that not only caused tragic death but left many Haitians homeless and hungry several world leaders and international delegations gathered at the U.N. General Assembly to state publicly their support for Haiti’s aid & reconstruction. There was consensus!

A year later, Haiti remains mostly in ruins moreover people have been struck with cholera, remaining as hungry and poor as before. Elections were held but still Haiti is lacking true leadership to fight for its survival amongst the nations that join it in plenary sessions at the U.N. headquarters. Meeting of scoundrels, as Michael Crichton put it?

At the height of the tragedy, one than one flamboyant world leader was in first line to appear in the headlines with his promises. Today, none of these have fulfilled their compromise to support Haiti’s return to a minimum decent life.

Had it not been for the NGOs operating in Haiti, I wonder if the death toll for both the earthquake and the cholera epidemic would have been worse. For them, Haitians do matter. For world leaders, Haiti is only an added burden in their crisis-menaced expenditures.

If the reconstruction was already supposed to take at least a decade, after this obvious indolence in contributing of the wealthier nations, I fear that Haiti will never regain its former level, already then amongst the poorest nations in the world.

Hay we lost all humanity and decency to permit this new ethical blunder?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona, Spain


AMERICA’S THANKSGIVING 2010

November 25, 2010
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“It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.”

Groucho Marx

 

 

 

This 25th of November, 2010 is Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America.

 

Having spent quite a few such memorable celebrations in my stints in the USA, I have asked myself – What has America to be thankful for today on this our 3rd year of crisis and a quite a few more since the Bush Administration engaged Americans in a disastrous adventure in Iraq and later Afghanistan?

 

The successive events both on the home front and the international scene are not precisely heartening.

 

Unemployment is still high for US standards and foreclosures have left a lot of citizens homeless. The America that scarcely trembled in the wake of wars, disasters and crises was left shaky well before President Obama took over; some tremors still persist from the past Administration’s errors. What really counts is that the nation has recently spoken with its votes and the President has now a tough ride ahead to get to where America should be. In danger are such important endeavours such as the new healthcare plan or the taxing of the wealthier. Now, America may again turn its back on the social equality levels the Obama Administration pretended to reach. The influential lobbies may win the day by curtailing green energies in lieu of petroleum or the causers of the still persistent economic crisis, back in the driver’s seat of powerful entities, may submerge the US economy anew in new global conflicts in the wake of their making their profits.

 

The world scene isn’t any better. While Guantanamo remains operative, the joint world resistance to terrorism has been weakened due to vested interests of other world powers. The Palestinian-Israel conflict is at a standstill but may burst into open conflict at any time. Iran has not been subdued in its intent to convert itself into a nuclear-armed state and may never give in whilst it has China’s blessings. Further east, the two Koreas are on the verge of a nuclear war, with a US aircraft carrier already on the scene. The end of the Cold War with the defunct USSR (now Russia) may have an Asian offspring that refuses to come to an end. America, as the world superpower, is deep into every single international conflict and will remain even more so after the new scenario for NATO was drawn up a few days ago in the Lisbon summit.

 

Happiness seems to elude Americans this 2010. What must Americans be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day?

 

 

 

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona

 

 

 

 


OBAMA’S METAMORPHOSIS: FROM PEACE AWARDEE TO MISSILE SHIELD PROMOTER

November 21, 2010
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“ …. Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict – filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.  ……  The concept of a “just war” emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional, and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.” Barack Obama (Oslo, Norway  December – 2009)


At the end of his term as 2009 Nobel Peace awardee, I come to understand better Obama’s rather contradictory speech at the Oslo Nobel ceremony last year.

Obama’s personal peace convictions have come up against the reality of the tasks of the man that took over the Oval Office from a belligerent predecessor who left him the bitter inheritance of a questionable invasion of Iraq and a rather shaky strategy to defeat Al Qaeda’s expansive terrorism at its Afghanistan roots. No less relevant was the status of international relations with the European allies across the Atlantic or the state of the thawing Cold War with defunct USSR’s successor, Russia.

The recently concluded NATO Summit celebrated this weekend in Lisbon has taken a gigantic leap towards a stronger military alliance that has declared Russia, at last, as an ally. The Cold War seems to have been finally buried for good, or least up till a new confrontation crops up between Russia and the USA.

Why my reluctance to accept Lisbon’s alliance declaration at face value?

First, Medvédev and Obama signed earlier this year a renewed START agreement that should conclude in a joint reduction of their missiles’ arsenals. Nevertheless, said agreement may never come into effect if and when the new Republican majority in the US Congress decide to reject same. Both Republicans and the White House are presently engaged in a bluff & counter-bluff game to put pressure upon each other prior to the constitution of the new Congress in January, 2011.

Second, Afghanistan topped the NATO meet priority list and the conclusions reached of a gradual withdrawal to end in 2014 seemed to please not only Karzai but the NATO members as well. Not so, Medvédev, who doubts that such deadline is realistic.

Third, instead of heading towards peace, NATO expansion with a missile shield to protect Europe with Russian cooperation, may well be a means to combat international terrorism but likewise it is a sign that more wars and conflicts are expected from territories to the East of Europe.

Are we about to set new standards for ‘just war’ which may well surpass reasons of shear military logistics to enter other areas of international relations such as economics?

Are we assisting to a new distribution of geo-political power that will only move the demarcation line further towards the East of the Atlantic?

Has President Obama’s brief stay in Lisbon been intended towards a Western-front pact with Russia included to curtail other world powers from the temptation of going beyond their economic ambitions?

So far, since I started my posts in this English blog in April, 2009, my humble views have made bulls-eye on major international issues. Those who have followed my Spanish blog  http://www.blogger.com/profile/06825435168558835379 since 2005, have seen that we have likewise pointed out certain flaws in US-EU relations which have led to this rather estranged situation, apparently cleared in a 90-minute meeting as an appendix of the NATO Summit. Unfortunately, time will prove that encounter insufficient to patch the tattered relations dating back to the clashes during the 8-year Bush Administration. Obama has not been too observant to realise that his problems back home in such vital issues such as the economic crisis, climate change and military alliances have only one possible firm ally – the European Union.

Obama has now reached his objective, the EU’s support and that of Russia for a missile shield. Likewise, the NATO partners have approved his proposal of a more powerful NATO military alliance. Nevertheless, Obama in his metamorphosis has left out his search for peace and a more balanced distribution of wealth to curtail the miseries of millions in underdeveloped nations around the world. He has become unworthy of the Nobel Peace Award granted him in 2009.

His true problems start now not only in the home front but before millions of citizens of different races, religions and cultures who had looked up to him as a symbol of democracy in peace.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra Fdz.

Observer of Human Behaviour


OBAMA’S RETURN TO EUROPE: WHAT IS IN STORE AFTER THE G-20 FLOP?

November 19, 2010
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Sad to say but true, President Obama is not only a questioned leader in the USA but also as a world leader before the eyes of some of his staunch allies, particularly in Europe.

This weekend’s NATO Summit in Lisbon will be the first encounter after the disheartening G-20 performance by the cast of developed & developing nations’ leaders meeting in Seoul. Said summit will be followed by yet another bilateral one between the USA & the EU which may not count with Obama’s presence.

The disheartening results of an ineffective meet such as the one held in Seoul, whereby developed democracies on both sides of the Atlantic succumbed to a subtle Chinese strategy of political abstraction, cannot but have cooled even further already estranged EU-US postures in the economic field. China had its ways at the Seoul summit and as of today has further aggravated economic tensions with the latest communiqué from its central bank by raising its reserve ratio 50 basis points. Furthermore, the Communist Asian superpower has set its protectionist mechanism to curtail foreign investment in Chinese real estate and enterprise as a precautionary measure to avoid speculation.

True to say, the EU’s stance at the G-20 meet wasn’t all that unanimous, with Germany applying pressure on the USA in a similar manner as China but with different tactics. I keep asking myself why both superpowers – the USA on one side and the EU as a whole bloc of 27 state & 500 M population on the opposite side – haven’t yet decided to sit down to draw out a single strategic route for the economic crisis resolution.

The opportunity was missed when the EU-US bilateral summit scheduled in Spain in May was cancelled due to Obama’s overloaded agenda on the home front. Since then, six months have elapsed and the crisis has not only grown in intensity but rather new doubts have been raised as to the best common ground solutions no one seems to venture into.

The NATO encounter will have Afghanistan at the top of the priority list. The US seems more worried about ensuring military backing from the EU partners than solving other issues on hand. Indeed, probably the new common adversary encased in Al Qaeda’s terrorism requires a collective effort in lieu of a defunct ‘cold war’ with the extinct USSR now converted into an ally represented by Russia. Nevertheless, even in this new ‘war against terrorism’, I see a lack of realism in the world leaders’ analysis.

¿Can we forget that China, the emerging superpower with UN veto rights, not only is not a full-pledged democracy but likewise is a traditional sly manipulator of world political tensions in such vital issues as Iran & Korea?

Resolving favourably the Afghanistan issue is yet light years away, if ever a satisfactory solution is feasible on medium term. Yet, NATO members are attending the issue as ‘top priority’ with the presence of a no less insignificant and worthless Karzai. Instead, these nations should be discussing not only a common defence with Russia against ‘international terrorism’ (not only Al Qaeda), which goes from fanatic movements bent on destabilising democracies but also implies ‘economic terrorists’ who are capable of sinking the world into further long-term crises whilst bolstering their unscrupulous enrichment schemes.

While the powerful in economy and the military meet in Lisbon, the Nobel Peace Awards Committee has cancelled this year’s ceremony because China has not allowed the 2010 awardee, Liu Xiaobo, nor any family member, to travel to Oslo; Haiti is plagued by cholera and the population has uprisen in revolt against the UN Blue Helmets; Indonesia suffers from volcano eruptions with death toll rising; the Sahara territory under Moroccan dominion is isolated from the world whilst possible abuses are being committed; More than 30,000 children die each day due to hunger, and malnutrition shortens the life expectations of many thousand more; There are over a billion hungry people in the world today according to FAO’s malnutrition report, with almost 2/3 in Asia (where China & India have the largest populations) and 1/3 in Africa & Latin America.

I could go on to cite numerous such situations, not to mention that poverty has increased even in developed countries (15 M in 2009) the world over.

I wonder how our leaders can meet time and again to discuss economic & military issues and get nothing resolved to the world’s citizenry’s satisfaction in what really counts.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra Fdz.

Observer of Human Behaviour


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