Fernando Fuster-Fabra's Blog

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

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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


NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, BEYOND START II

April 11, 2010
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Finally, tedious negotiations have brought forth a new disarmament agreement between the two nuclear super powers. The Obama Administration has learned that White House timetables do not necessarily tally with those of other world leaders with their own negotiating strategies.

In a similar manner as the domestic healthcare issue, the historic signing of the new START bilateral agreement in the appropriate scenario of Prague is no guarantee that said goodwill expressed by both U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvédev will lead to a nuclear non-proliferation as per the NPT  of 1968. Whereas Russia’s Duma will surely ratify the agreement, the U.S. Senate may still present objections to such arms reduction to show the Republican hawkish stance on American military supremacy.

True to say, all American Presidents from the end of the Cold War onwards have signed some sort of arms agreement with the defunct U.S.S.R. and then with Russia. The weakest link may have been during the previous Bush Administrations, where world conflicts elevated tension between these super powers.

However, one must not forget that, neither India nor Pakistan, known to possess nuclear armament, are signees of the NPT. Israel not only has remained adamant to accept said treaty but has so far refused to admit its nuclear potential. In a similar situation but in the process of turning into a nuclear power is Iran. Curiously, these four countries are close to or in the midst of the Middle East hotspot. Besides, one must take into account that both Pakistan and India have borders with another nuclear power, China. Furthermore, China is a firm supporter of yet another potential nuclear developer (North Korea) based in the Far East.

How well will the United States of America and Russia be able to handle the growing nuclear risks in these tension-loaded Middle East & Far East regions?

Under the disguise of uranium enrichment for energetic purposes, any of these states may well be in fact producing nuclear weapons. Such are IAEA suspicions on Iran and North Korea upon their refusal to undergo U.N. supervision.

A meeting called by President Obama in Washington D.C. on April 12-13 where 40 world leaders are expected to discuss the risks of nuclear power in the hands of international terrorism has failed to persuade Israel’s Netanyahu to join in said caucus although it will count with the presence of China’s President Hu Jintao.

The shadow cast by Netanyahu’s absence may not be fully enlightened by the assistance by China’s Hu.

Both Obama and Medvédev are aware that China has yet to fully agree on sanctions to be imposed on Iran by the U.N. Security Council presided by Japan during this current month. China has carefully weighed its decision based on its growing trade relations with Iran, present-day tensed bilateral economic exchange with the United States and the renewed START agreement between Americans and Russians.

On the other hand, Israel and its hawkish Prime Minister are a pain in the neck for the Obama Administration still pending a definite solution plan. Tensed relations have existed ever since Netanyahu took over with a challenging attitude towards White House demands to sit down at a negotiations table with the Palestinian Authority. Far from towing the line, Israel has permanently provoked American emissaries (Biden & Mitchell), refusing to bend down to Obama’s petition for moderation.

Will START II have meant pressing the reset button to minimise all nuclear endeavours in armament or, on the contrary, be the commencement of further underground attempts by potential and/or existing nuclear states bent on having a say on nuclear policies in the international scene?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra Fdz.


NOBEL AWARDEES OBAMA, OLSTROM & WILLIAMSON

December 11, 2009
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December 10th is the day assigned for the Nobel Awards ceremonies. In compliance with Alfred Nobel’s will, the Peace Award is handed over in Norway at Oslo’s Storting Hall whilst the other Nobel Awards including the Riksbanken Economic laureates, an award added in 1968, participate in a later ceremony the same day at Stockholm’s Concert Hall.

This year’s ceremony has followed the usual protocol where it not for the fact that the awards were for a majority of American citizens headed by no less than U.S. President Barack Obama. Without any intent of demerit for the other Nobel laureates, I must call the attention to this year’s Economic awardees, Olstrom & Williamson, who together with Obama form a solid indication of the Nobel Committee’s intention in the awards for 2009.

Much has been said after the surprise announcement of Obama’s Nobel Peace designation, to the point it belittled the announcement a few days earlier of the Riksbanken Economic Awards to Elinor Olstrom and Oliver E. Williamson. To the very moment the awards were delivered yesterday, a sector has remained adamant to accepting Obama’s merits and debate over said issue has missed entirely the relevance of the overwhelming American presence in the Nobel Committee’s decision for 2009. Moreover, it is the first time that women occupied the awards’ major limelight, with Elinor Olstrom being the first woman to become an economic laureate.

While Obama was handed his diploma in Oslo according to Nobel’s dictates, Olstrom & Williamson, as well as the other laureates, received theirs from the hands of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf at Stockholm’s Concert Hall. The strict protocol that these ceremonies have followed over the years may have been broken in few occasions, such as Mother Teresa’s request to cancel the banquet in lieu of donating the funds to charity. Obama has perhaps also done a similar act which few seem to have given due importance. The U. S. President has shortened his Oslo visit to less than 24 hours, just enough not to accept the regal protocol dinner offered in his honour. He has a lot of work back home. I make mention of this situation to back up my argument as to the reasons that may have warranted these outstandingly American Nobel Awards in 2009 with Obama in the key role.

In the aftermath of an unexpected financial crisis in the U.S.A. that has dragged global markets into the mire of a rather complicated economic international scenario, one must analyse Obama’s peace diploma in unison with the other awards, especially those in Economics to Elinor Olstrom & Oliver E. Williamson. It is well known that the crisis broke out at the closing of the previous U.S. Administration with President Bush at the helm. Never before had Washington been so neglectful of international trade & commerce and so bent on using its military force to maintain its world supremacy. The results of such international socio-economic policy have been the sad inheritance George W. Bush handed over to America´s first Afro-American President. Both Olstrom & Williamson have worked for decades in Social Economics whereby enterprise was given its just place and consumers justly valued in the development of international trade. Their theories were never in the mind of Republican U.S. Administrations and proof stands that today Obama has to fight it out to get a historic health bill approved.

Due to U.S. supremacy not only in military issues but likewise in worldwide Economics, this year’s Nobel Awards to Obama, Olstrom & Williamson pretend to call international attention to the need for “social peace in the United States of America” if the international community of democratic states is to resolve the socio-economic needs of the entire world.

Obama’s speech, in a humble tone for his still undeserved international merits, spoke of his role as U.S. Commander-in-Chief. It is fair to grant him a justification for his pseudo-military role as the world’s most powerful man in command of the best armed nation in current wars and skirmishes in different conflict zones. His decisions affect not only Americans but citizens of independent states with regimes of different nature. Whereas his predecessor justified all types of invasion as a defence action against terrorism, Obama has assumed a realistic stance to differentiate the causes of the various live warfronts today. This change of posture alone is worth taking into account as a merit for consideration in a peace award. Obama not only uses oratory to convince. He first is convinced himself of what he puts into words. He did not seek to justify any war nor wished to argue on theory of “just war”, for which reason I will not argue on his statement that some conflicts are necessary. Nevertheless, it is not Obama who is in doubt as a “man of peace”. It is The Establishment in America, with its vested interests and powerful lobbies that must be under surveillance.

Does America want to be known as a democracy for peace or of war? This is the question.

Obama, Olstrom & Williamson have acquired a commitment. With them, all other American citizens awarded Nobel prizes in their respective field of science. Not one of them can be considered in favour of anti-social actions defended by the most reactionary segments of American society. Without a support to these Nobel laureates, the world is in fact leaning towards conservative ways of managing world economics without any consideration for the poor of the world or environmental concern for future generations.

This is the essence of Obama’s peace award, in company of the recognition for Elinor Olstrom as a woman in the world of Economics and Williamson’s contributions towards better controls on enterprises’ model of acquiring benefits. The challenge of these awards now put America in the limelight. Will the United States of America live up to its mission of democracy, peace, climate & social changes in the forthcoming decade of this New Millennium?

Only time will tell.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


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