Archive for the ‘Op Ed’ Category

16
Jan

Failing elites threaten our future

Written on January 16, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Op Ed

In 2014, Europeans commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the first World War. This calamity launched three decades of savagery and stupidity, destroying most of what was good in the European civilisation of the beginning of the 20th century. In the end, as Churchill foretold in June 1940, “the New World, with all its power and might”, had to step “forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old”.

The failures of Europe’s political, economic and intellectual elites created the disaster that befell their peoples between 1914 and 1945. Their ignorance and prejudices allowed catastrophe: false ideas and bad values were at work. These included the atavistic belief, not just that empires were magnificent and profitable, but that war was glorious and controllable. It was as if a will to collective suicide seized the leaders of great nations.

Complex societies rely on their elites to get things, if not right, at least not grotesquely wrong. When elites fail, the political order is likely to collapse, as happened to the defeated powers after first World War. The Russian, German and Austrian empires vanished, bequeathing weak successors succeeded by despotism. The war also destroyed the foundations of the 19th century economy: free trade and the gold standard. Attempts to restore it produced more elite failures, this time of Americans as much as Europeans. The Great Depression did much to create the conditions for the second World War. The cold war, a conflict of democracies with a dictatorship sired by the first World War, followed.

Epic failures
The dire results of elite failures are not surprising. An implicit deal exists between elites and the people: the former obtain the privileges and perquisites of power and property; the latter, in return, obtain security and, in modern times, a measure of prosperity. If elites fail, they risk being replaced. The replacement of failed economic, bureaucratic and intellectual elites is always fraught. But, in a democracy, replacement of political elites at least is swift and clean. In a despotism, it will usually be slow and almost always bloody. Read more…

 

Martin Wolf is chief economics commentator with the Financial Times. As published on Jan. 15, 2013 in http://www.irishtimes.com

14
Jan

In this new bi-monthly MIR Alumni Update, we feature different MIR alumni around the world.

Ou first post will feature Kirit Patel, MIR 2011/2012 Alumnus who has just joined the United Nations in New York as Associate Economic Affairs Officer.

Here is what he writes:

“My role as Associate Economic Affairs Officer is quite broad. I work in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in a Division called ‘Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination’, and within that division I work in branch of about 10 People called ‘Policy Coordination Branch’. Our work is to help the Economic and Social Council reach consensus and then ensuring an integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to what is agreed at various ECOSOC conferences and summits.

This week, our branch hosted an Expert Group Meeting/Workshop on the following “Addressing on-going and emerging challenges for meeting the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and for sustaining gains the future”. Experts from UN System Partners, NGO’s, and other multi-lateral institutions were in attendance. The main topics for debate were the role of institutions in supporting sustainable development, inclusive development, measuring development progress, and the lessons learned from previous ECOSOC administrative practices (to support the ongoing reform process).

My role was to organise and stimulate debate amongst participants and I am currently drafting the summary note of the workshop. Other tasks I am involved in include reviewing DESA editorials, speech writing, and drafting internal communications between the Secretariat and the Member State representatives.

This has been a whirlwind experience. When I landed in NY at midnight I started practically immediately – the next morning! There is a lot of energy here with very interesting people and good social dynamic. This post was initially temporary but the good news is that I was just offered a permanent contract in the UN Young Professionals Program (YPP) in the position I am currenty in! “

10
Jan

Europe’s Supernova Moment

Written on January 10, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, News, Op Ed

eu

HAMBURG, Germany — More or less since its birth, the European Union has been a subject of apocalyptic talk — a permanent crisis mode that has worked beautifully to enhance ever-closer integration.

Today, though, the situation is different, and it is serious. Never before have Europeans been more tired and disillusioned with the promises of the Brussels mandarins. In the run-up to the European parliamentary elections in May, the gap between what’s economically necessary and what’s politically justifiable is growing dangerously wide.

Europe has come through the last years of crisis with a new momentum, and yet the situation is reminiscent of how a star reaches its greatest density just before it explodes. If that is so, is there a remedy for what the analyst Roderick Parkes has called the “supernova moment”?

There is. But it would require Germany, the union’s largest and most powerful driver, to support an idea that the country has always fiercely rejected: to activate the thrust reverser for certain parts of the unification project as a way to reduce the Continent’s political stress. It would mean, more specifically, listening to the ideas being laid out by the British prime minister, David Cameron.

Integration, Mr. Cameron argues, should be cut back in a variety of policy-making realms — social and employment laws, for example, or environmental legislation — and shifted back to the individual countries. That would allow Brussels to focus on other areas more central to its vision, like monetary unification, energy security and enlargement.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been ignoring these ideas with a mixture of anxiety, denial and lack of vision. For the sake of Europe, she should think again. Read more…

Jochen Bittner is a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. As published in the International New York Times on Jan. 9, 2014 http://www.nytimes.com

9
Jan

Bienvenidos a la Edad de Oro del conflicto

Written on January 9, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in News, Op Ed

José Zorrilla

 

Cuando el ganador de la II Guerra Mundial, el general George C. Marshall, pasó a ejercer como Secretario de Estado (Exteriores), los periodistas le preguntaron cómo se sentía ante un cambio tan radical. Su respuesta es legendaria. “En ambos cargos hago lo mismo: administro los límites del poder”. Estas palabras pertenecen a un general que había recibido un Ejército de 50.000 hombres, todos en suelo americano, y lo había transformado en otro integrado por diez millones de efectivos desplegados por los cinco continentes. En aquellos días, EEUU venía a representar el 50% del Producto Nacional Bruto del mundo.

Pero, así como los espectadores de Esquilo olvidaban la catarsis de la tragedia en cuanto llegaban a su casa en Atenas o nosotros hemos olvidado el horror de la Guerra Civil, Estados Unidos también olvidó los límites del poder durante los años de la ‘Pax Americana‘. Washington llegó incluso a hablar de “guerras de elección” y “guerras necesarias”, abandonando la tradicional división entre guerra justa e injusta. La realidad, sin embargo, ha terminado por imponerse. El ascenso de China ha hecho entender a EEUU que, para contener al coloso, no tiene más remedio que concentrarse en el Pacífico y dejarse pelos en la gatera en otros grandes escenarios estratégicos.

Hagamos un breve repaso de los acontecimientos más destacados en la agenda internacional del año que termina para perfilar los escenarios que se convertirán en los puntos candentes de 2014. Leer más…

 

Publicado en El Confidencia el 30 de diciembre de 2013, http://www.elconfidencial.com

30
Dec

Four stories you may have missed in 2013

Written on December 30, 2013 by Waya Quiviger in News, Op Ed

There was no shortage of eye-grabbing global headlines in 2013. The Catholic Church chose a new Pope. China and Russia flexed their muscles. The U.S. and Iran, meanwhile, took a step back from the brink of what looked like a potentially explosive confrontation. But while these stories commanded an ample share of media attention, we’ve found four significant stories that may have slipped under your radar.

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Myanmar Riots

Global poverty retreats

With Southern Europe still reeling and the anemic U.S. recovery wobbling along, good economic news has been in short supply. But if you widened the lens, 2013 actually delivered some encouraging, indeed historic, news. It came in the form of a study from Oxford University’s Poverty and Human Development Initiative that concluded that developing countries were enjoying remarkable success in alleviating the worst poverty. They’ve had so much success, in fact, that Oxford predicted that crushing poverty in many of the least developed countries in the world (think Bangladesh, Rwanda, Nepal) is actually on track to be fully eradicated within 20 years.

This optimism was echoed by the United Nations’ 2013 Human Development Report, which noted that “[n]ever in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast.”

How did the worst-of-the-worst manage this economic turnaround? Growth naturally played a huge role. While advanced economies are languishing with a meager 1.2 percent annual economic growth rate, the International Monetary Fund expects the developing world to hum along at 4.5 percent this year. Oxford and the United Nations also found that a combination of a doubling of aid since 2000, an increased participation of poor states in global trade and a strong state focus on health and education have all contributed to this historic transformation. Read more…

By Greg Scoblete and Kevin Sullivan, Special to CNN

Published on Dec. 28, 2013 in GPS blogs.

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