Fernando Fuster-Fabra's Blog

THE UGLY AMERICAN, 2012

November 4, 2012
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The Ugly Americans

 

Ever since the Burdick & Lederer’s novel, The Ugly American, was published in 1958, American candidates to the White House and incumbent Presidents have had a chance to face numerous international problems as leaders who have to assume responsibilities attributed the world’s most powerful nation.

 

Nevertheless, time and time again, one President after another has committed quite a number of errors that have led to what the USA is today.

 

On the verge of next Tuesday’s presidential elections, incumbent President Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, have demonstrated that Americans have not wagged away the then Asian foreign vision of “the ugly American”.

 

On the contrary, today, American leaders are seen as “ugly” in continents other than Asia. In the last half century, one after another, the U.S. Presidents have blundered in international affairs in Vietnam & Cambodia, in the Caribbean, in the Middle East, in Africa and in Central & South America.

 

From Kennedy to Obama, all White House tenants have had their Achilles heel. Some succumbed to the temptation of playing God and ended causing civil wars or local ethnic cleansing.

 

At the crossroads of American supremacy, President Obama has not only failed to live up to expectations and to a moral commitment after being awarded the Nobel Prize in 2009, but also has selfishly closed himself into what he sensed was to be a battle for his continuance as President of the United States of America. He has, in many ways, taken as his own the very habits of what was described in the novel as “the ugly American”.

 

Regretfully, his adversary is no better off. Mitt Romney considers he is a self-made man who has amassed a fortune with his talents. Nevertheless, if he would look back, I’m sure he will have to admit to himself that he isn’t all that respectable a citizen as he wants to make voters believe. He too is “an ugly American” in the eyes of any foreign beholder.

 

At this stage of the 21st century with new technologies making communications go global with a click, U.S. leaders have seemed to remain stagnant in their 20th century ways of government and diplomacy; precisely those very same manners that worried John F. Kennedy when the novel was first published.

 

Neither Obama nor Romney gets even solid approval from their European allies. I feel, much less would they get it from the Muslim states that their policies have led into an irreversible permanent war.

 

The issue is that none of them have learned from their errors but worst still is that there being an opportunity to be once again the best, both Obama & Romney have decided to just make it to the White House next balloting day.

 

Who is the “uglier American” of the two?

 

 

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

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     


TAHRIR SQUARE TURNED INTO THE ARAB’S WORLD SUCCESSFUL TIAN’AMEM

February 11, 2011
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Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.

Omar Khayyam

 

Tahrir Square, Cairo

Cairo’s small ‘liberation plot’ – Tahrir Square – has taught the world a great moral lesson on how to peacefully overthrow a decadent long-term dictator, something not achieved more than two decades ago in the world’s largest square in Beijing.

Fears that the wave of protests that started off in Tunisia and culminated with the resignation of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak would be used by Muslim radicals to cause serious incidents in the Arab world seem baseless. The Egyptian population has resisted at ‘Liberation Square’ and elsewhere in the capital even as the army took out its tanks to the streets. Not even the military support of resigned President Mubarak thwarted their persistent insistence on his abandoning his post.

The Western world should closely observe this exemplary event which did not take place because of developed nations’ support of the Egyptian dissidents. The slow reaction of Western powers to the demonstrations in Tunisia against now deposed Ben Ali and rather mild reproaches to Mubarak as he held on to his post in the last hours, will mine Western developed nations’ credibility and weaken its weight in world affairs.

The USA should now carefully consider its stance as one must not forget that Mubarak’s Egypt was the platform chosen by no less than President Barack Obama to launch his ‘message to the Arab world’. The European Union must do likewise at this stage when it has slipped below the desirable level of power previously only second to the USA, with the ineffective role of High Representative for International Affairs, Lady Ashton.

Furthermore, China should take note of tiny Tahrir Square with not more than a couple of hundred thousand at the most. In 2011, Tian’anmen may wish to recover its revolution in the image of the changing Arab world.

Is the balance of power undergoing a new distribution or has the time come for global world affairs to be handled in a different manner?

I salute the people of Egypt and their intelligent stand on liberty. It is a clear proof that revolution needs no bloodshed nor traumatic changes but rather an orderly transformation of existing organisations into adequate ones for this challenging millennium. The world may be awakening towards justice and liberty, after all.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona

 


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


U.S. MERRY-GO-ROUND AFTER MID-TERM ELECTIONS

November 8, 2010
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The great American nation has voted and Obama has been punished for seeking reforms favourable to the U.S. citizenry in the first two years of his presidential term. The overwhelming Republican victory in the House of Congress is definitely the start of an uphill climb for President Obama and his White House advisors. Not only will the new Republican majority question and try to repeal approved laws such as Medicare but also will block any new initiatives in relevant fields such as economic reforms or foreign policy.

For those who are not familiar with the USA in its varied regional cultures, it is much harder to understand how voters in supposedly the world’s most powerful nation can change its historic support for America’s first Afro-American President two years ago to this sonorous defeat in the mid-term elections. Americans need a binding factor to keep their country at the top.

George W. Bush used the 9-11 tragedy to whip up American patriotism to get re-elected but left such a trail of discontent with the mounting deaths of American soldiers at the Iraq warfront. A change was needed and thus, Obama was put into the power seat at the White House four years later. The lower middle-class American expected Barack Obama to be the miracle-man who would shoo away the evil spirits of crisis and war that the Bush Administration had brought about in its second term.

Obama was aware of the timing by which he had scarcely 2 years to get America back to economic recovery, if he was to offer the Democratic Party a serene mid-term campaign. Unfortunately, such time pressure has worked against him on the local front. Whilst his popularity abroad brought him honours such as the Nobel Peace Award, the average American in the Midwest plus the Latin &the Afro-American communities continued to suffer the economic crisis and unemployment. The binding factor in the Democrat’s defeat in the recent congressional elections has been the so-called ‘fear syndrome’ magnificently availed of by the most conservative wing of the Republican Party.

The denominated ‘Tea Party’ campaigners have made good use of the economic crisis to make the middle and lower classes of the nation fear all that comes from abroad, in particular from the emerging nations of Asia and the southern neighbours of America.

One must point out a rather curious statement made by no less than NYC’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg while assisting the C40 Climate Change Group Forum held in Hong Kong last week. Bloomberg, a billionaire that was a Democrat till 2001, then ran for office as a Republican and finally has turned independent before seeking a third mandate in 2009, has probably defined best the worries about the average American voter and the new political scene when he said, “If you look at the U.S., you look at who we’re electing to Congress, to the Senate—they can’t read, …. I’ll bet you a bunch of these people don’t have passports. We’re about to start a trade war with China if we’re not careful here, only because nobody knows where China is. Nobody knows what China is.”

The U.S. 10-day presidential tour to Asia will not be enough to curtail fears about the new political scenario in Washington, D.C. nor solve the problems on hand.  Obama must fight such ignorance at the home front not only because the voters do not have interest in learning more about the globalised world but also because the new congressmen that will scrutinize his proposed laws are just unprepared for such an intensive intellectual task in a world wrapped up in a single napkin in all relevant issues from economic crises thru terrorism up to climate change.

As America’s political & economic merry-go-round is about to commence its mid-term ride, new inexperienced faces will appear in the U.S. Congress & Senate. With a much less than a thorough knowledge of international politics, they are to dictate laws which will not only affect the American citizenry but likewise the other nations of the world.

What’s in the ride for the rest of us?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona


NOBEL PEACE AWARD: FROM OBAMA TO LIU XIAOBO, A NEVER-ENDING TALE OF CONTROVERSY

October 25, 2010
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No matter how many Nobel Peace Awards have been granted, the world remains immersed in a sea of violations of human rights, incessant wars and lack of just distribution of wealth …

A year has elapsed since President Barack Obama was named the Nobel Peace awardee. It seemed then that the Norwegian-based jury granted the prize in the hope of Obama’s future contributions towards peace. Twelve months later, the advances in those issues on his White House desk have mainly remained unresolved. True to say, the Obama Administration has firmly commenced the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, as promised. However, Guantanamo remains open with political prisoners accused of terrorism without democratic guarantees for their defence; nor has the White House efforts to foster Palestinian-Israeli peace talks given any significant progress.

To take over the honour of being the Nobel Peace Award in 2010, the Norwegian-based jury has elected a Chinese dissident to replace Obama as the champion of world peace. Liu Xiaobo not only remains serving a long-term imprisonment but will probably miss the Nobel Awards ceremony in his honour. Although world leaders headed by the outgoing awardee have pressured the Chinese Communist Government on the issue, as the days pass, interests seems to wane in favour of Liu Xiaobo’s release from prison.

Today, Obama is lost in the density of political meetings to try to save as many governors and congressional seats now held by Democrats. He scarcely has time to lose till the Nov. 2 mid-term elections and the dilemma created by the Norwegian-based Nobel jury on the 2010 award must be too far in the back of his mind today.

Other world leaders elsewhere have varied worries of their own trying to wade through the global crisis or local issues that require their full attention. Justified or not, each one looks for his own priorities and objectives, with little or no concern for ensuring human rights in powerful nations such as China. I wonder if their attitude would be different if the state in question was a less powerful nation with less economic and military influence on the destiny of Mankind.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona




OBAMA AFTER G-8 / G-20 CANADIAN RENDEZVOUS

July 5, 2010
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Seventeen months after taking oath of office and three G-20 summits held since then, President Obama must review his track record on international achievements thus far.

Whilst Obama’s first year was loaded with international engagements that culminated in a Peace Nobel Award, 2010 has been mainly centred on a domestic agenda laden with Republican rebuffs and unsavoury surprises on the home front. This may have been initially essential to curtail far too rapid popularity erosion and possible Democratic defeats in the forthcoming congressional elections in November but became even more demanding after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with incalculable impact on the US coastline.

A week after the latest international G-8 & G-20 summits in Canada and coinciding with the traditional 4th of July celebrations, Gulf Coast beaches were solitary scenes on an otherwise jam-packed day. The fireworks on such a relevant day for the United States were not limited to the evening sky glitters nationwide but to a series of worrying issues both on the home front as well as abroad.

In the local scene, unemployment hit a 10% record figure which if properly considered would stand for as much as 16.5% seeking a job in the 50-star nation. Temporary jobs created by the Administration over the last months to undertake the census were not enough as private entrepreneurs languished with a lack of steady job offers. Consumption isn’t at its best, not even with the 4th of July festivities on the going. America is immersed in a serious economic crisis that may not go away so easily and end, as Krugman predicts, in another Great Depression.

What really is worrying is that Obama has stood alone in the last G-20 meet and one of its staunch allies in the G-8 & G-20, Great Britain, is now in the limelight due to the British Petroleum fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico and Cameron’s insistence in totally withdrawing U.K. troops from Afghanistan by 2015. Tension was added by Britons’ demand for stronger actions by the U.K. cabinet in defence of BP, to avoid its shares plummeting further due to the Gulf of Mexico rig spill. Will Obama finally kick someone’s ass or is he going to take a beating himself?

G-20 silence on Israel’s undaunted policy of striking first as a defence measure, mainly backed by U.S. permissiveness while condemning Iran and North Korea leaves an unsavoury taste for freedom-lovers around the world. No matter what are a nation’s alliances, any world leader must have the stamina to demand its ally to fulfil international agreements towards peaceful coexistence. The United States has thus far consented Israel too many whims to honestly stand out as a firm defender of human rights and democracy. This situation is further aggravated if one considers that Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Award in 2009.

Has the concern for domestic issues blurred Obama’s vision of the international front loaded with unresolved conflicts or is he being forced by American issues and K-Street lobbies to give leeway in such matters as the closure of Guantanamo, the unstable Iraq regime, the war in Afghanistan or the Israeli-Palestinian endless confrontation?

On the other hand, Obama may have decided to make a strategic halt to assess where he stands today after his solitary stand at the G-20 summit. If he decides for a G-2 push, his best bet as a partner would be the European Union with a carefully planned diplomatic action amongst the less conceited and more reliable members instead of the usual partners. It’s Obama’s turn to move a piece on the international chessboard. The world is watching.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona


G-20 TORONTO SUMMIT: LAST CHANCE TO SEE THE CRISIS FROM ANOTHER ANGLE

June 23, 2010
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Spanish Version              http://wp.me/pRlnf-1a


After a futile Busan meeting of economic ministers earlier this month, hopes of progress and consensus amongst world leaders at the G-20 Summit are scarce.  One inevitable question crops up – Are these government leaders governing their nations and the world for the citizens that elected them or for the financial markets that sway their fragile decisions?

Just as Obama was about to take over at the White House and Spain was first invited into the group, the G-20 met in Washington D.C. under a retreating George Bush. Two other summits, London https://fernandofusterfabra.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/hello-world/ & Pittsburgh https://fernandofusterfabra.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/the-pittsburgh-summit-the-world’s-future/ , have been held since then with practically the same futile results. Chances are that the Toronto summit will be more along the same line.

Whilst the USA has flirted with China in what was dubbed ‘G-2 formula’, the EU has been incapable of having a solid single stance towards international economic policies in the successive summits. Furthermore, the White House is cautious about withdrawing public expenditure hastily meanwhile recovery is hardly convincing. On the contrary, German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has whipped other EU leaders with French President Sarkozy’s consent towards drastic public debt cutbacks in the 27-member club. This opposed views will make it difficult to come to a common ground in the truly indispensible actions G-20 leaders must take without further delay.

Canada’s Prime Minister and summit host, Stephen Harper, is precisely against the only common point between US and European leaders – the levy on bank operations. His posture will probably be used by other leaders from emerging economies to delay any actions that may endanger their respective growth rates. However, this very growth may well be the cause of economic overheating in Brazil, China and India that could put any recovery in serious trouble. Harper, who boasts of Canada´s economy y banking solvency seems to forget that he heads a nations that has steadily lost relevance in worlds affairs and whose banks are too conservative to be a reference as institutions for the New Millennium.

Moreover, China may have apparently made a concession to the USA with regards the Yuan but it would prove naive to consider such tactical move as a definite trend towards Chinese permanent cooperation in all economic and political international issues. On the contrary, this move may well be countered by a rather steadfast stand against any of the US–EU proposal at the Toronto summit.

In a similar manner, Brazil’s outgoing President, Lula Da Silva, in an effort to impress Brazilian electors and assure his proposed successor’s victory will probably play a hard-line strategy against US proposals.

I feel that world leaders continue being incapable to think big https://fernandofusterfabra.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/world-leaders-uncapable-to-think-big/ nor are they creative enough to view the crisis issue from another angle. It is evident that the G-20 meet must start off by recognising the main cause of this sneaky situation. No solutions will ever be effective if free-trade and globalisation isn’t governed by global financial & investment regulations agreed by world leaders and implemented under strict authorized international supervisors. The care-free ways of liberal monetary flows has been unleashed for three decades to produce the existing crisis that may well pervade another decade or so.

Is any world leader brave enough to put the warning bell leash on the market’s unscrupulous misdoings?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona


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