Thursday, December 31, 2009
Bush Could but Wouldn't- Obama Would but Can't
Timothy Garton-Ash today explores a theme appropriate for the end of the first decade of the 21st century: the plethora of world problems and the dearth of available answers. God knows, we have enough problems within our own small island but as TGA points out:
We face more and more risks, threats and challenges that affect people in one country – say, Britain – but originate mainly or entirely in other countries, and can only be addressed by many countries working together. That is true of the financial crisis, organised crime, mass migration, global warming, pandemics and international terrorism, to name but a few. The need for international co-operation has never been greater, but the supply has not kept up with the demand. In some areas, we have more international co-operation than we had 10 or 20 years ago. In important ways, however, it has become more difficult to achieve.
One of the reasons for this is that the dispostions of power in the world is currently undergoing rapid change. It is moving from the west to the east with new centres emerging to the south in the form of Brazil and maybe in good time South Africa. But it is China that is the most powerful new player and, perhaps, the most inscrutably hard to read. Before Copenhagen, China was declaring it would make huge emission cuts but, come the day, it chose to wreck the conference for apparently short-term advantage. When emergent powers jostle for their place in the world order, wars often have resulted in the past- great delicacy and skill will be needed to negotiate the next few years. Obama is in the right place at the right toime for this role.
In retrospect, we can see even more clearly that the eight Bush years were such a calamity. Even a former member of that administration, Richard Haas, describes it as a 'decade of strategic distraction'- it was just another casualty of Bush's total(criminal?) lack of vision and proper perception of how the world was. TGA hopes that the USA,China and EU- producers of half the world's GDP, will increasingly work together rather than wrestle for supremacy. My fear is that EU, as was the case at Copenhagen, will be sidelined for lack of a coherent point of view.
This is where I cannot understand the idiocy of the Eurosceptics, who fear the dominance of a more integrated Europe. What is needed is not less but more power for the EU to articulate our regional political and economic interests in a way which prevents the emergence of another bipolar world, with China taking the place once occupied by the USSR.
The problem with the EU is that it is not seen as altogether democratic, efficient or honest. Long may it remain weak, divided and unpopular. And long may Britain retain its sovreignty and its democracy.
I believe countries shoiuld rule themselves too but not to the extent that compromise and agreement with other countries are precluded. Nationalism caused the first world war and the second, and but for the EEC might well have caused a third. Now it still remains as the biggest barrier to cooperation at the highest level. The EU reperesnts a unique way of moving towards a form of 'pooled sovereignty' which advances prosperity while knitting countries closer. It is bureaucratic and is wasteful but its achievements are historic.
It is no surprise that the EU wants more powers. Through all of time, Kings and dictators have said that they could achieve great things, if only their powers weren't "limited". I am sure Hitler would have done his fair share of "pooling sovreignty" if the Anglo-Saxon peoples of the world had not rescued the disgusting mess that was Europe.
It matters not what the EU does in terms of pooling sovreignty. Even if the people of Britain chose to give away our sovreignty to Europe(and they quite clearly haven't), they have no right to sell(or rather give away) the birthright of British subjects present and future. In time, Britain and the other nations of Europe will demolish this dictatorship.
The EU may have caused peace in Europe(though I doubt it). But then lack of accountability and the denial of people's rights ultimately tends to end conflict(witness the pax Romana after 27BC - the Romans may have gained peace, but they also gained a dictatorship). All dictatorships ultimately fail. Even when they look strong, and expand their terrories, and look invincible, so they fall. The EU and its policies are a massive con, against the expressed wishes of the continent's people. For this reason it will fail.
The nations of Europe fought a war to rule themselves. Why do the spineless political elite(corrupt, incompetent and self-serving), think that they can rob the people of their sovreignty and not expect problems?
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