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Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 623 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-12-12 14:36:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-12-12 14:36:38 [post_content] => • Firstly the future of the City was not on the table in Brussels until David Cameron put it there. The decision to make financial regulation the issue on which the UK government would seek to make a stand seems only to have crystallised in the days immediately prior to the summit. Before this attempts were being made to see if other member states might accept a repatriation of powers in employment and social law (the old social chapter), a longstanding Conservative Party demand (and coalition agreement point) flatly rejected by the other governments. This was an engineered crisis to allow the Prime Minster to return home with something to show to his backbenchers that he had not missed the opportunity provided by the Eurozone’s desire for treaty change to extract a price for the UK’s cooperation. It is conceivable that had some of the UK’s negotiating points been put forward with greater subtlety and time, fellow member states may have been willing to agree to keep the show on the road. As it was they felt bounced into changing long-standing arrangements on matters that were nothing to do with the issue at hand - the existential economic crisis facing the Eurozone - and decided to call the Prime Minister’s bluff. • Through this exercise in (failed) brinkmanship the Prime Minister has on balance made it more rather than less likely that new financial sector changes that he does not agree with will come to pass. Under previous EU arrangements a potential financial transactions tax (FTT) would have required UK agreement, as unanimity would have been required for it to go ahead. It is indeed true that any new arrangement for Eurozone fiscal coordination would have increased the risk of caucusing, which may have in turn under pressure from President Sarkozy changed the dynamics of the financial regulation debate within the EU that in practice had been moved forward unanimously until now (even in areas covered by Qualified Majority Voting-QMV). However following the new ‘Eurozone plus’ arrangements the future is less certain, and there is now a somewhat greater possibility that the 26 might choose to introduce such an FTT amongst themselves than would have been possible under existing structures with the British veto. In the other areas which the UK tried to have changed from QMV to unanimity such as the scope and location of European supervisory bodies that exist under current EU frameworks, the diplomatic deterioration makes it more rather than less likely that that the UK position will get outvoted in future. • If these events are to presage a final rupture between the UK and the EU, there needs to be some clarity over what Britain’s options for going it alone actually are. European Economic Area members (EEA) members Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland have full access to the single market for goods, services, capital and labour (including freedom of movement) and as such have to accept EU regulations on these areas wholesale, without the ability to influence their constructions (with the exceptions of agriculture and fisheries). Switzerland (a member of the EFTA but not the EEA) has access to some areas of the single market as a result of negotiating bilateral agreements, where access has been balanced by corresponding regulatory convergence. Having at first cited Norway as a potential example of a country succeeding outside the UK, pro-withdrawal Eurosceptics are now more commonly using Switzerland as their potential alternative model, balking at the practicalities of the Norwegian experience of ‘fax diplomacy’. Notwithstanding differences in the two countries’ GDP per head and the structures of their economies, the UK’s demographic and economic size means that its presence has a much more significant impact on the operation of the single market. The UK should not assume it could pick and choose the elements of the single market and its regulations that it wanted à la carte from the EU. A doomsday scenario of a bitter divorce where no bilateral agreement was reached would inflict even greater damage on both sides, but the failsafe provided by the WTO would provide greater comfort to continental goods exporters than the UK’s services sector. Much newsprint has been devoted to the Prime Minister’s sudden transformation from Neville Chamberlain to Winston Churchill in the eyes of Eurosceptics. However the national stereotype more fitting for the current position would be John Bull, not Churchill - the isolationist little-Englander rather than internationalist Briton (). The next few weeks and months will prove critical for Britain’s future. It is essential that those who believe that the UK has a role on the world stage, built as it is on the unique ability to knit together European, American, Commonwealth and global perspectives, to push the country back from the precipice and recommit to pragmatic discussions with our EU partners so that the European pillar of British influence is retained. Now is not the time to play political games that seek to embarrass the coalition for short-term gain, the economic and strategic risks for Britain’s future are too great. A version of this article is available on the Huffington Post UK site at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/adam-hug/john-bulls-britain-paddling-towards-euro-isolation_b_1145585.html [post_title] => John Bull’s Britain: Paddling towards European isolation [post_excerpt] => The decision of the UK government at Thursday’s summit actions to block Eurozone attempts to stabilize itself through EU structures has rightly been described as a potential watershed in the country’s troubled relationship with Brussels. The implications of the Prime Minister’s actions have been much chewed over in the media and by commentators (including myself) on Twitter over recent days. However there are a few things that need to be made clear in this maelstrom of a debate: [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => john-bulls-britain-paddling-towards-european-isolation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/john-bulls-britain-paddling-towards-european-isolation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 622 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-11-30 12:19:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-11-30 12:19:35 [post_content] => If the situation is to improve in the Eurozone (and the EU as a whole) in 2012 there are three elephant traps that policy-makers have fallen into over the past eighteen months that they must henceforth be avoided: Offering an overly simplistic diagnosis of the causes of the crisis, presenting one dimensional solutions which only address part of the problem, and attempting to ‘short-circuit’ democracy without developing the political tools necessary to deal with the crisis. Beware the simplistic diagnosis: When establishing the factors which caused the Sovereign Debt Crisis it is crucial to understand just how varied the circumstances are within the countries that have fallen victim to unsustainable Sovereign Debt. The cases of the two countries that were first affected by the debt crisis - Greece and Ireland - are so very different that it is impossible to offer a generalized diagnosis of what caused the crisis in 2010. A brief re-cap on the circumstances in both countries is a useful reminder of this. In Greece the problems started after former Prime Minister George Papandreou announced that the actual level of the Greek deficit was 12.7%, not 6% as had been previously claimed, in the autumn of 2009. The markets were rocked by the dishonesty of the previous Greek Government and the cost of borrowing subsequently started to rise sharply. Things came to a head in May 2010, when it became apparent that the Greek State was unable to function because its cost of borrowing was too high. Greece’s cost of borrowing had always been about 10 percentage points above that of Germany before they joined the euro, so it was illogical for their cost of borrowing to drop so sharply simply because they changed currency. A combination of market failure and dishonest accounting led to a cheap credit supply, some of which was misallocated (from an investment point of view) by successive Greek Governments. The Euro had been a sleeping pill for Greece. Ireland, by contrast, rather than acting duplicitously, did everything ‘right’ - as far as the economic orthodoxy of the day was concerned. Ireland was considered by many to be the ‘poster boy’ of the European Union; the country ran a budget surplus in most years and they were not even close to breaching the rules in the Stability and Growth Pact, which had been flouted most seriously by Greece, but also by France and Germany in 2003. The Irish economy grew quickly from the 1990s to 2006 and they had created a ‘successful’ economy by setting low corporate tax rates and attracting a high rate of foreign investment. The crisis in Ireland could perhaps better be referred to as a conventional banking crisis, which in turn caused the State to become exposed to a degree which it could not afford when the Irish Government decided to cover every single loan made by every Irish commercial bank. In the blink of an eye, Ireland went from being in surplus to having an unsustainable level of Sovereign Debt similar to that of Greece, even though the debt the State was responsible for was private debt, not public. Rather than a sleeping pill, the Euro had been a vitamin booster for Ireland, encouraging borrowing and driving growth through the private sector. However, listening to some politicians in the German and British Governments one might be led to think that the entire crisis was caused by feckless Greek Governments, when in reality this is only a part of the problem - there would still be a Sovereign Debt Crisis even if all EU countries had followed the rules in the Stability and Growth Pact, as whichever government was required to step in to cover the unsustainable debt in the private sector, would in turn be crippled by that debt. Politicians of the centre-right are unwilling to use Ireland (or Iceland) when seeking to diagnose the problem as this requires an admission of market failure and all that follows. It is important to remember that many of the problems that caused the crisis in Ireland were policy errors and market failures that were replicated right across the developed world, and such a severe over-allocation of capital to sectors that returned so little (real estate and financial instruments) is not particularly uncommon in the history of capitalism. The cases of Greece and Ireland are linked not simply by the fact that they share the same currency, but by the fact their debt is held by so many other players across the EU and across the world. Beware the one-dimensional solution: As there is political blindness over what caused the crisis it is unsurprising that the solutions put forward often reflect this. So many of the long term potential solutions have been focussed on ‘competitiveness’, or reducing public spending in Southern Eurozone states. Though these issues are important they miss the fact that undercapitalized banks in Northern Europe which are exposed to the debt of Ireland and Greece are just as responsible for the economic instability as the undercapitalized countries of Southern Europe. In the same way, structural trade deficits within the Eurozone which have caused the competitiveness gap between the ‘core’ and the ‘periphery’ are as much the responsibility of the surplus countries (Germany) as the deficit countries (Spain). If I were to try and explain the problem in a nutshell I would probably put it something like this: You can’t have a single currency area with structural current account imbalances and an undercapitalized banking system. There is agreement on the most obvious solutions; there has to be proper oversight of national debt and deficit figures, so countries are not able to tell fibs about their levels of borrowing. Regarding the structural current account imbalances, a multi-dimensional solution will recognise that it is equally important for surplus countries to stimulate demand as it is for deficit countries to focus on exports, and this must be as prominent as the competitiveness and austerity agenda in 2012. A further dimension to the solution which has finally come to the fore in recent weeks is that the undercapitalized banks in Germany, France and Britain, which made bad loans, must be part of the solution, as they too are responsible for the crisis. In the future these banks must never be so exposed as to tip Governments into unsustainable debt. Finally, regarding the ‘nuclear solution’ of the break-up of the Eurozone and a return to national currencies, it is hard to see how this would benefit the countries that are worst affected by the crisis. Devaluation would not suddenly allow exporters in Ireland or Southern Europe to compete with specialised German exporters, it takes decades to engender such a manufacturing program; instead Greece and Ireland would be devaluing against China, who themselves keep their currency artificially low. The devaluation tool is simply no longer the economic wrench it once was for European Finance ministers. In addition the colossal level of debt would cripple the new ‘independent’ countries with rates of repayments that would be far higher than they are now and far higher than any developing country. Of course it would benefit the tourist industry as it would be cheaper for Northern European tourists to take package holidays in the Mediterranean, but this is hardly a credible long-term solution – it would be a sticking plaster at best. Beware the solution that ‘short-circuits’ democracy The elephant trap that has lured more policy makers than any other since the crisis started has been the instinct to ‘short-circuit’ democracy. Though it is necessary for each nation to pool its sovereignty in some policy areas within the EU, there is nevertheless a strong economic argument against by-passing national democracies if one is seeking to find a credible solution. The complexity of the problems, as explained in the difference between Greece and Ireland, show that a single formula will not be appropriate as the problems are often so varied. During periods such as this it is more important than ever that those seeking to find a solution are in touch with the political and economic nuances within each country, as without these any solution will be impractical. It is seductive to produce a grand solution which by-passes the official EU channels with the accompanying political squabbling, but attempts to do this during the crisis so far have been damaging. The first plan of this nature came in the spring of this year when France and Germany produced the ‘Competitiveness Pact’ that was designed to force all Eurozone countries to follow a strict program of reform on a wide range of policy areas including pensions, public sector pay and market reform; this, it was said, was the pact to ‘bring Europe out of the crisis’. The most pertinent objection to the pact was that it recommended changes that were necessary in some countries but would be counter-productive in others. For example, public sector pensions in Belgium are quite sustainable and not in need of reform, whereas in other countries they are crippling the public purse. The later agreement that become the ‘Euro Plus Pact’ recognised these differences after Heads of Government in the EU were able to contribute, thus avoiding a Franco-German diktat. More recently the idea that ‘technocracy’ can provide the solution has also become appealing, though historically it has been very difficult to foster long term economic stability in a country just by installing ‘experts’. Trying to “‘GDP’ a country” - as the IMF have found out - is almost impossible as only an elected politician who is accountable to the voters will have the agility and the accountability to implement reforms that are required. In addition, any technocrat, whether installed in Brussels, Athens or Rome will have an impossible research agenda if they are to design a comprehensive solution that is appropriate for the entire Eurozone. A temporary solution in which democratically elected parliaments install a ‘non-political’ head of government might be acceptable if it provides some temporary respite from the crisis, but if you try to short-circuit democracy too often the solutions will not work. There will be many more agreements and fall outs as the key players attempt to reach agreement in 2012. The process of finding a solution to end the Eurozone crisis would be greatly assisted if policy-makers adhered to the following principles: avoid rhetoric that ignores the multiple causes of the crisis, propose solutions that address all the dimensions of the crisis and recognise that a long-term solution can only be found when democratically elected politicians work together. [post_title] => Elephant traps for policy-makers: A reflection on the Eurozone Crisis [post_excerpt] => Writing about the crisis in the Eurozone is an intriguing and difficult task. The thesis I defended on the Sovereign Debt Crisis in July 2011 now seems dated as in the last three months events have moved forward at twice the speed and the nature of the crisis has changed from being one of Sovereign Debt to one of more deep rooted economic instability. The entire episode has been beset by political confusion as laborious attempts to find a solution seem to be forever behind the curve. Rather than adding yet more column inches to the debate with an article which states that: “the only solution is…” it might be useful to reflect on what has made it so difficult to find a solution to the crisis and establish some guiding principles in the context of international political problem solving. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => elephant-traps-for-policy-makers-a-reflection-on-the-eurozone-crisis [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/elephant-traps-for-policy-makers-a-reflection-on-the-eurozone-crisis/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 621 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-11-14 16:14:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-11-14 16:14:52 [post_content] => The government has an expressive votong majority in National Congress. Nominally, there are 400 in the House and 62 in the Senate. However, this does not mean that life is easy in Parliament. Allied dissatisfaction and appetites make mobilization of this majority difficult and voting on some issues of interest to the Planalto Palace extremely expensive. The constitutional amendment that extends the Disentailment of Union Revenue (DRU), a mechanism which allows the government to use 20% of the Budget as it pleases is a good example of this. This is an important fiscal policy instrument for the government. Last week, the issue was on the House floor agenda to be put to first-round voting. However, due to pressure from allies, it was postponed until November 8. In order to increase its power of blackmail over the Executive Branch, using its full weight the PMDB supported a DEM amendment which proposes the extension of the DRU until 2013 only and not 2015, as desired by the Executive Branch. This might further tie down president Rousseff in budget terms, right on the eve of the elections. In other words, approval of the DRU in 2013 would cost even more. Blackmail from the base does not only reside in the House, but also in the Senate. In order to circumvent the delay in approval of the DRU in the House, government leader in the Senate, Romero Jucá (PMDB-RR), presented a similar proposal to that of the Executive Branch. It was on the Justice and Constitution Committee agenda last week and voting was equally delayed. Management of its base (not its actual base per se), is therefore one of the government’s greatest legislative challenges. The good results of the Rousseff administration combined with high popularity have contributed for this scenario not to be even worse. [post_title] => The Brazilian government’s problem is its own base; not the opposition [post_excerpt] => The Brazilian government has an expressive voting majority in National Congress. Nominally, there are 400 in the House and 62 in the Senate. However, this does not mean that life is easy in Parliament. Allied dissatisfaction and appetites make mobilization of this majority difficult and voting on some issues of interest to the Planalto Palace extremely expensive. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-brazilian-governments-problem-is-its-own-base-not-the-opposition [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-brazilian-governments-problem-is-its-own-base-not-the-opposition/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 620 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-11-14 16:12:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-11-14 16:12:35 [post_content] => Lula most certainly has an important role with regards to the government's stability and, especially, in maintaining political base unity. Without Lula, many of the allies, even within the PT itself, would disperse and the conflicts situation would be even greater than it currently is. Besides his role as a stabilizer, Lula is still considered a real political possibility for 2014. Notwithstanding the fact that he has declared on numerous occasions that he will not run for the Planalto Palace and that Dilma Rousseff is the natural candidate for reelection, it is a well-known fact that he could be candidate. Should Rousseff not be successful in promoting unity of the political base around herself, Lula would be a person capable of bringing the allies together. Thus, at this moment in which the news surfaces without greater details and without knowing the precise prognosis of the disease, the political world is experiencing a moment of great tension; and certainly the most serious moment of the Rousseff administration, inasmuch that Lula has a politically strategic role. Initially, Lula's illness may even strengthen the government politically. The motion caused by the news may generate more unity and even more popular support for Rousseff. However, behind the scenes, the news came as a bombshell and has caused doubts and uncertainties. Within the short-term scenario, Lula will step away from politics in order to treat his illness. A source close to the situation told Reuters that, besides chemotherapy as informed by the Sírio-Libanês Hospital, Lula will also be submitted to radiotherapy. In all, the treatment is expected to last for three months. He has canceled all his national and international trips up to January 2012. There is no doubt whatsoever that this is a serious problem for the PT. After all, following an agenda targeted at international events, Lula was going to more energetically dedicate himself to negotiations surrounding the municipal elections. Its worthwhile remembering that on November 27 the PT party will have its primaries to choose the party's candidate for the São Paulo City Hall. The former president also commands the preparation of the PT party’s electoral strategy for the 2012 municipal elections in various important cities. With the PT weakened by Lula's current frailty, the government may become more dependent on the PMDB. [post_title] => Lula's tumour upsets Brazilian politics [post_excerpt] => It is as yet not known what stage former president Lula’s laryngeal tumor is at. However, the mere hypothesis that he is seriously ill is a strong blow to national politics. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => lulas-tumour-upsets-brazilian-politics [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/lulas-tumour-upsets-brazilian-politics/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 619 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-10-21 11:00:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-10-21 11:00:16 [post_content] => If you look at periods, such as the early 2000s, when Turkey passed crucial package of reforms aimed at boosting its membership chances of joining the European Union or when it took bold steps towards settling the Cyprus issue, you will see those times coincided with lulls in fighting in the south east. Or else, they were times when the insurgency was under control and the Kurdish militant group PKK – or Kurdistan Workers' Party – was in retreat with its leader safely locked up. Turkey has made substantial progress over the past 10 years. It has become one of the world's fastest-growing economies with increased prosperity and stability at home and growing influence abroad. But as we have seen time and time again, democracy is still fragile. As the security situation deteriorates, already inadequate checks and balances weaken. Institutions become the guardians of the state rather than the guarantor of citizen's rights. This prolonged conflict traps Turkey in militarism and both Turks and Kurds in ultra-nationalism. Violence also gives both the PKK and the state a considerable economic and social power. There are many on both sides that will lose out if and when the fighting stops. How else do you explain the Kurdish insurgents' latest attacks happening on the same day of the first meeting of the parliamentary committee negotiating changes to the constitution? Was it a coincidence that the PKK deliberately escalated the conflict, just as the debate to give Kurds their long-fought ethnic rights got underway? This vicious cycle of mutual destruction has now reached a very dangerous stage beyond threatening freedom of speech and other basic rights. The violent attacks perpetrated by the PKK on October 19, in the south east, caused widespread anger - increasing the risk of a Turkish backlash against Kurds elsewhere in the country. If the government responds beyond legitimate security measures, further escalation of violence and deepening of Kurdish grievances become inevitable. Those of us that have always believed that the best way to solve the Kurdish conflict was to have more democracy now find it ever more difficult to argue for change. It is not easy to convince others that a consensus-based, non-discriminatory set of rules - in line with universal values and international law - would be the best way forward, while indiscriminate violence goes on; undermining the basic foundations of democracy. The day after the series of deadly strikes near the border with Iraq, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called media managers and newspaper editors to a three-hour meeting. It was off-the-record and details of the discussion were treated as a "state secret". In a statement afterwards, Erdogan said he had asked the media to avoid extensive coverage of acts of terrorism and to refrain from using sensationalist language. Journalists had already been under pressure. Turkish reporters writing about state links to Islamist movements or the Kurdish issue or the 1915 Armenian massacres often find themselves in serious trouble. Reporters Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener have been held in prison for more than six months. They are two prominent journalists known for critical reporting on the Turkish criminal justice system and the police. In April this year - Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, asked Turkish authorities to bring the country's media legislation in line with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe commitments on media freedoms. She wrote to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, saying that the authorities must protect objective reporting even on sensitive topics such as terrorism or national security. "The public has a right to know such issues," she said. Erdogan has an extremely poor track record in his relations with the media. The numerous lawsuits brought on by Erdogan; an against journalists and hectoring tone he takes with media professionals set the tone in the country. Also, there are always plenty of pro-government journalists to verbally attack those that do not fall in line. The result is, despite countless number of publications and media outlets, a diverse - but not necessarily pluralistic - self-censoring media. Erdogan called it "imposing self-control and adopting a national standing". I call it a worrying decline in Turkey's press freedoms. [post_title] => Turkey - The Kurdish problem and declining press freedom [post_excerpt] => As intractable conflicts go, Turkey's Kurdish problem has been a very costly one - both in human lives and the damage it has inflicted on country's political, economic and social development. More recently, with Kurdish insurgency opting for full-scale war and Turkey's leaders pledging "immense revenge" in return, this rapidly escalating crisis threatens to erode democratic gains. As well as being the most urgent and difficult issue for Turkey, the Kurdish conflict has been the biggest obstacle for further democratisation and reform. Yet, without fundamental reform, it will not go away. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => turkey-the-kurdish-problem-and-declining-press-freedom [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/turkey-the-kurdish-problem-and-declining-press-freedom/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 618 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-10-19 15:18:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-10-19 15:18:01 [post_content] => In June 2011, African leaders unveiled concrete plans to create an African-wide free trade area when they announced that 26 African nations will join the three existing, but often overlapping regional trade blocks. Their ambition is to create a duty and quota free movements of goods, services and business people by 2016, and an Africa-wide economic and monetary area by 2025. There are very obvious advantageous of an African free trade area. Pooling their markets may help African economies better take advantage of new growth opportunities offered by the rise of powerful new emerging powers. It may also help African economies overcome new challenges caused by the decline of some of the old industrial powers in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Given the debt crises in the US and the EU it becomes even more important for African countries to integrate closer and quicker, because better intra-regional trade can provide a protective buffer from global shocks. Furthermore, it may provide a protective wall to African countries to beneficiate their economies from single-commodity dominated ones and nurture new manufacturing and services industries. Many African economies are so tiny they are unviable on their own. Pooling African economies will bring larger economies of scale and markets which has the potential of expanding production and demand. Currently African countries trade more with the rest of the world, mostly former colonial powers, than with each other. What should be done differently to prevent the idea of an African grand free trade area turning into a grand failure? The first requirement is political will – at the heart of many African development failures. There are a number of regional trade blocs in Africa, all with different rules, regulations and are at different stages of integration – all which could slow the building a free trade area. Whatever the level of integration within these regional groupings, all of them have struggled to free the movement of goods, labour and services. There are high levels of protectionism between African countries. Restrictive trade permits requirements and frequent bans on imports from neighbours persist. Economic disparities between African countries are further obstacles. Smaller countries fear domination by bigger neighbours, while bigger ones, fear a grand free trade area would lead to domination by South African produce. Non-trade tariffs such as travel restrictions, poor physical infrastructure, incompetent public administrations and rampant corruption are major stumbling blocks. Political instability in many African countries is a major problem. Most of African economies are one raw material or agricultural product-based economies. African countries typically export raw materials abroad and buy the finished products at higher prices. Africa’s rising growth has mostly been because of a boost in mineral exports’, increase local demand at home due growing domestic markets fuelled by a rising African middle class, and increased trade with new emerging powers, such as China, India and Brazil. However, Africa’s current growth spurt is following the old pattern of being based on exporting raw materials instead of diversifying into manufacturing, services and value-add products. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan rightly calls this African growth spurt, ‘low-quality’ growth. The growth has remained “inequitable, jobless, (and) volatile” and if continued on current patterns unlikely to lead to widespread job creation and poverty reduction. A report by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union (AU) released in July 2011, titled “Economic Report on Africa 2011,” urged Africans to diversify production and exports through improving “competitiveness by tackling supply-side constraints as well as improving infrastructure and productive capacities, among other things”. Weak logistics and supply chains, and scarce bank finance are other obstacles. Africa imports most of the manufacturing and services it could arguably produce at home from abroad – this will have to be rectified. The challenge is for individual African countries within a grand free trade area to specialize: one country must produce what another country can’t, but needs. In fact, each African country should pick the manufacturing and service sectors they may have competitive advantages, and then trade or barter with each other. At the moment if one African country needs manufactured products, few neighbours can provide it. Each African country should be required to cobble together an industrial policy which at its heart should have diversifying from one agricultural product or commodity to value-added products. All the individual country industrial policies must feed into a regional industrial policy; which in turn should be connected to a continental-wide industrial policy for Africa. Developing regional supply chains for products can help African economies against global shocks, such as the current debt crises in the Eurozone and US. The bulk of the indigenous sectors of most African economies are in the informal sector, that’s also where most of the jobs are being created. A free trade zone among Africans will be useless unless it includes small traders in the informal sectors, who are often face formidable bureaucratic barriers. The existing regional blocs should be turned into regional economic growth zones. Infrastructure - power, transport, telecommunication networks and so on - should be developed within each country, within and between the regional economic growth zones. A continental infrastructure grid must connect the regional economic growth zones. Up to this day most infrastructure networks in most African countries have not changed since colonialism. Colonial powers constructed infrastructure networks in the countries under their control from the small areas that produced the one commodity or agriculture product to the coast for export to the ‘mother’ country. The colonial infrastructure networks rarely connected neighbouring countries. Sadly, African countries during the post-colonial period have left such infrastructure arrangements untouched and even unmaintained. All the regional blocs must work towards macro-economic convergence – setting basic prudent standards for fiscal and monetary policy. Exchange rate volatility - often because of poor monetary policies - has been a particular problem in Africa. Convergence of macro-economic policies will be a challenge given the history of African countries over-emphasising political and economic sovereignty. Most African countries have trade agreements with former colonial powers which often undermine integration with other African countries. The European Union’s economic partnership agreements (EPAs) demand that African countries declare the EU as ‘most favourite nation’. Under the United States African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA), the US signs trade arrangements with individual African countries – rather than with regional blocs. This undermines African regional integration and the formation of regional supply chains. It would naïve to think that the new emerging powers such as China and India would suddenly open their markets for African products. In reality it is very difficult for African manufactured products and services – to penetrate China and Indian markets. African countries will have to trade more smartly – together – with their new emerging market friends as well as with old industrial powers. Given the impact of the global financial crisis on industrial countries it is unlikely that high tariff barriers and subsidies in industrial nations and new emerging powers are going to decline significantly – in many cases they may become more protective and cut development aid. It will also be silly to think that if industrial nations and new emerging powers suddenly lift tariff barriers and subsidies to African products that many African producers will be able to compete. Most African countries are uncompetitive – compared to industrial nations and some new emerging market players - when it comes to manufactures and services. However, African produce and services may perhaps be uncompetitive for whatever reasons in industrial markets – but African countries can trade these products with each other, if they off course can bring down the costs of infrastructure, red tape and corruption. For another, the big challenge also for Africans is going to be to set out a legally binding mechanism – and penalties – to get signatories to the free trade area to stay the course. Africans will also have to set up more effective dispute resolutions to deal with inevitable trade disputes between members. Lastly, better African leadership and greater democracy remains a crucial barrier in creating an effective free trade area. African citizens - farmers, traders, civil society and individual citizens’ - must actively participate in building a grand free trade area, if it is to be durable. William Gumede is Honorary Associate Professor, Graduate School of Public and Development Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He is the co-editor of The Poverty of Ideas, Jacana. [post_title] => An African grand free trade area? [post_excerpt] => Africa’s attempt to create a continent-wide free trade area may end in failure, like so many other previous regional developmental schemes, unless leaders do things differently. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => an-african-grand-free-trade-area [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/an-african-grand-free-trade-area/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 824 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-09-06 14:39:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-09-06 14:39:59 [post_content] => One thing was certain about the June 2011 elections in Turkey: AKP would win. Yet speculation over whether or not it would earn a greater share of the vote was rife, as was the forecasting of how many votes the renewed leadership of the leading secular opposition party, CHP (Republican People’s Party) would attract, or whether the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) would make the 10% threshold to enter parliament, or how many MPs the Kurdish BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) would have. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Turkey - Domestic challenges that will dominate AK Party government’s third term [post_excerpt] => One thing was certain about the June 2011 elections in Turkey: AKP would win. Yet speculation over whether or not it would earn a greater share of the vote was rife, as was the forecasting of how many votes the renewed leadership of the leading secular opposition party, CHP (Republican People’s Party) would attract, or whether the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) would make the 10% threshold to enter parliament, or how many MPs the Kurdish BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) would have. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-turkey-domestic-challenges-that-will-dominate-ak-party-governments-third-term [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-turkey-domestic-challenges-that-will-dominate-ak-party-governments-third-term/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 616 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-08-24 17:25:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-08-24 17:25:09 [post_content] => Lessons have clearly been learned from Iraq for post-Gaddafi Libya. They will have been passed on, not least, by the British envoy to the Libyan rebels - John Jenkins, who was ambassador in Baghdad before going to Benghazi. The National Transition Council's blueprint for preserving order in a post-Gaddafi Tripoli appears designed precisely to stave off the kind of anarchy that prevailed in Baghdad in 2003. Though it has not so far succeeded, that is not for want of thought and planning. This, of course, is the danger of all lessons learned after an event: simply knowing what went wrong last time does not mean that it can be done the next time around. Events happen rapidly and chaotically, and the parties involved are not necessarily going to stick to any plan that has been given them. We can be sure, in short, that other things will go wrong in Libya. People will die; shops and government buildings will be looted; the new government will seem weak, or autocratic, or even both; the country's economy and infrastructure will take years to rebuild. But we should beware hasty despondency just as much as hasty triumphalism. All these things may happen, and yet the revolution will still have been a success, if it can deliver Libya a better future than the one that it faced under Gaddafi. None of these things should make us want to send foreign troops into Libya. And that, I suggest, is the clearest lesson to be learned from Iraq, Afghanistan and even Vietnam. In each case, the fact that the country's government needed an outside power to provide its military capabilities had three significant disadvantages. First, it gave its enemies the patriotic high ground. The Taliban have taken full advantage of the fact that they are fighting British soldiers in southern Afghanistan; it has meant they can call on all the folk memories of three Anglo-Afghan wars. A foreign combat presence in Libya risks stoking Islamist sentiment but also stirring painful memories of the Italian occupation of Libya in the 1920s and 1930s, during which tens of thousands of Libyans died in concentration camps. Second, it made those governments look weak. Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has sought, ever since taking power, to project strength – and one way he did so was by asking British troops to leave. No wonder: a government that needs foreigners to protect it is not only discredited politically, but is obviously vulnerable. Foreign support being often a fickle thing, it can encourage internal enemies to believe that they need only wait out the foreigners rather than make peace. Even if Libya's path to peace may be bloodier without foreign help, it will be a surer peace if it is home-grown rather than imposed from outside. Third, it sapped the initiative and willpower of the countries' own governments, encouraging an unhealthy dependence on foreigners. Afghan leaders have felt hemmed in by the multifarious advice of their foreign allies, the fact being that a large part of the economy, and the executive arm of the government, has become dependent on them. Sherard Cowper-Coles's memoir Cables from Kabul, and Roderic Braithwaite's Afgantsy, illustrate this with examples from the Western and Soviet experience in Afghanistan respectively. The National Transition Council does deserve our support, but not of that kind; even if it asks for foreign combat forces then Nato should refuse. Unfreezing assets and promoting EU-Libya trade would be better ways to help – putting aid above defence, and trade above aid. It should be a politically savvy kind of help, one which again lets the Libyans decide what structures of government they want, rather than bringing in Western consultants with cookie-cutter solutions and a yen to create in Tripoli the kind of institutions that work in Washington and London. There are three areas where our advice might be particularly useful. First, on how to keep the oil industry from becoming a source of corruption -- as it became in Iraq. Second, how to keep the country's arsenal of weaponry (including any chemical weapons) from falling into the wrong hands. The third area is the holding of elections. These can be a powerful legitimising tool. They have often however proved cumbersome, destabilising and divisive – specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan. Afghan election results have split almost consistently on ethnic lines; early elections in Iraq cemented the country's religious divisions. An abortive Algerian election in 1991 prompted a vicious civil war. None of this shows that elections are wrong, but they do show that they must be adequately prepared for. A constitutional process, on the other hand, is something that the Libyans should be left to take at their own speed. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, rushed constitutional processes – at least partly designed for the international audience – probably made peace settlements harder by setting the country's government arrangements in stone. There is one last lesson that I hope we take from Afghanistan and Iraq. If we hope to influence a country, and if we are in fact (whether we choose it or not) in a position to influence its future for better or worse, then we have a moral duty to treat its people – as Kant would say – as ends, not means. We should care about Libyans' lives, aspirations, ambitions and fears. Our diplomats should take risks, if need be, to make sure that they continue to listen to the Libyan people. Our leaders should take care to communicate with them, rather than letting them hear Western policies announced at second or third-hand. Arabic satellite channels offer that opportunity. The UK, French and US governments should redouble their efforts to monitor and engage with those satellite channels, in close coordination with the Libyan government, to ensure that political signals in Paris, Washington and London are not misunderstood. This article was first published at http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2011/08/24/comment-lessons-for-libya-from-iraq-and-afgha [post_title] => Lessons for Libya from Iraq and Afghanistan [post_excerpt] => As Libya approaches a new dawn we must appreciate that some things will go wrong, but there is an advisory role for foreign powers to fulfil. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => lessons-for-libya-from-iraq-and-afghanistan [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/lessons-for-libya-from-iraq-and-afghanistan/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 615 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-07-29 08:23:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-07-29 08:23:32 [post_content] => It first started with comments made by the Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu two weeks ago. Davutoglu publicly stated that unless the Cyprus issue is resolved by early 2012, negotiations with the EU may be frozen. This deadline is based on the start of Cyprus’ turn for EU presidency. Since Turkey does not officially accept the existence of the Republic of Cyprus, the FM argued that Turkey cannot engage with the EU presidency while Cyprus is in office; thus EU-Turkish relations will, de facto, be frozen. Then came the harsher comments by the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan over the last week. Prior to his visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), the PM gave a series of interviews to the Turkish and Cypriot press, as well as some stronger public talks while on the disputed island. The Prime Minister declared that the issue has to be solved at least in principle, and agreements reached before the EU presidency, underlining Turkey’s preference for a federal unification of both sides of the island. In addition, Erdogan has retracted AK Party’s (AKP) willingness to offer land swaps in certain areas and clearly asserted that if no agreement is reached by July 2012, Turkey and the TRNC will close negotiations and the island will forever be two independent states on current borders. This clear Turkish challenge puts the ball not only in the Greek Cypriot but also the EU’s court. Erdogan was key in triggering the initiatives undertaken by Kofi Annan, which came to an abrupt end when the Greek Cypriots voted ‘No’ to the UN’s proposals. In contrast, the Turkish Cypriots voted ‘Yes’ with a clear majority. AKP had in fact put serious political capital behind the Annan plan. While Kofi Annan gave up on solving the issue, the EU took a controversial decision and allowed the Republic of Cyprus into the EU without any concrete solution to the conflict. This has subsequently caused both the TRNC and Turkey to feel betrayed and disillusioned as they upheld their sides of the bargain. Ever since, Greek Cyprus has vetoed EU-Turkish accession talks at every step of the conversation. Since EU countries remain divided on the Turkish bid, it is no surprise that Turkey believes that neither the Republic of Cyprus nor the EU actually want to solve this problem and quicken the Turkish accession into the EU. The fact that the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon recently initiated a preliminary meeting with Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders for a final UN attempt to unite the island, has triggered the latest escalation of Turkey’s focus on the island. The General Secretary too sees these talks as a last chance. Until now, neither the EU nor Greek Cyprus seem moved by Turkish and UN timelines and demands, while sponsor country Greece is too troubled domestically to even engage on the issue. A catalytic shock was indeed needed to conclude, positively or negatively, the nightmare problem that has caused so many diplomats and mediators severe depression. In such a scenario there are only three possible outcomes from this gamble. Either, the EU will show their resolve and thus pressure the Republic of Cyprus to let go of maximalist goals and accept in principle a timetable for the unification of the island, thus compromise; or, this would indeed finally end all chances of unification, and see the TRNC and Turkey begin work on long term nation-building. While the former result would have tremendously positive outcomes both for Cyprus, the EU, Greece, Turkey and the feeble Eastern Mediterranean, the latter would not only result in EU-Turkish relations being frozen during Cypriot presidency, eventual political solutions for EU-Turkey tensions would be much harder to identify. Even though the populist French and German political mood might seem to argue for exclusion of Turkey from the EU, in actuality, all of the EU states are acutely aware that they need Turkey, both economically and increasingly diplomatically as Turkey deepens its regional power and appeal. While Turkey will never give up bilateral relations with European countries, it also looks less and less in need of EU membership. The third outcome from this gamble might be that AKP will eventually have to retract its deadlines and harsh tones, and accept the status quo. Then, AKP would have to face serious loss of diplomatic capital and a weaker stand against the EU countries which oppose Turkish membership. This would enable Greek Cyprus to find a way out of being seen as the primary reason why the issue is not solved, and blame Turkey for being the unreasonable party. It is high time, not only to show genuine will to solve the Cyprus problem, but also once and for all finalize whether Turkey will ever be an EU state. The AKP seem set to force the moment to a crisis to find a conclusion; a dangerous, but much needed gamble. [post_title] => Dangerous Turkish Gamble on Cyprus and EU [post_excerpt] => A remarkable series of public declarations by Turkish officials last weeks are causing increasing concern over the future of Turkish-EU relations and possible solutions to the Cyprus problem. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dangerous-turkish-gamble-on-cyprus-and-eu [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/dangerous-turkish-gamble-on-cyprus-and-eu/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 822 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-07-18 09:50:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-07-18 09:50:44 [post_content] => In a new FPC Briefing Tanweer Ali examines worrying trends in human rights standards in the Czech Republic. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Human Rights in the Czech Republic- Unfinished Business [post_excerpt] => In a new FPC Briefing Tanweer Ali examines worrying trends in human rights standards in the Czech Republic. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-human-rights-in-the-czech-republic-unfinished-business [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-human-rights-in-the-czech-republic-unfinished-business/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 820 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-07-05 13:36:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-07-05 13:36:17 [post_content] => There cannot be any clearer illustration of the impotence of Africa’s continental and regional institutions to find local solutions to the continent’s problems, than their numbing inaction in the face of the wave of popular rebellions against dictators in North Africa sweeping across the continent. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: African political unity must be more selective: A blueprint for change [post_excerpt] => There cannot be any clearer illustration of the impotence of Africa’s continental and regional institutions to find local solutions to the continent’s problems, than their numbing inaction in the face of the wave of popular rebellions against dictators in North Africa sweeping across the continent. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-african-political-unity-must-be-more-selective-a-blueprint-for-change [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-african-political-unity-must-be-more-selective-a-blueprint-for-change/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 614 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-07-05 13:30:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-07-05 13:30:07 [post_content] => The current leaders of regional and continental institutions are too discredited, the institutions too toothless and the rules for membership too lenient for them to be effective. The solution is to radically overhaul regional institutions - or close them down. In order to reverse this dispiriting situation, African countries will have to bring new energy, ideas and leaders to make regional and continental institutions work. Furthermore, we need new objectives and new concepts and even new words that are appropriate for our times. The wave of rebellions against dictators that started in North Africa, the global financial crisis, and the rise of emerging countries such as China, Brazil and India, which is likely to remake the world, offers a critical juncture for African countries to change outdated institutions. If we do not, the rupture that the global financial crisis is causing to nations may actually make the continent poorer. Africa's future prosperity still lies in individual countries pooling their markets, development efforts and attempts to seriously build democracy. Yet the idea of pan-Africanism in which all African countries will join into a happy family is simply silly. The basis of a revamped African Union (AU) must start with a small group of countries that can pass a double "stress test" based on quality of a democracy and the prudence of their economic governance. Because membership of the AU is largely voluntary, countries such as Zimbabwe may still be members even if their governments have appalling human rights records, and spectacularly mismanage their countries' economics and politics. A revamped AU should be based on a three-track system. The first track would consist of a core group of countries that meet the minimum democratic and economic governance criteria. A second track would be those which did not make the cut in democratic and economic management terms, but which are serious about pursuing the new objectives of the AU. The second track countries should be assessed on an annual basis to see whether they are ready to enter the first track. The rest, the third group, would be the assortment of dictatorships - which should be shunned until they improve. Stricter rules will mean that the AU will start off initially as a small club of countries. Perhaps only South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana, Cape Verde, Namibia - and then only if the criteria are in some cases flexibly applied. These top-tier African countries could be the core of the first African-wide set of industrial policies and a long-term economic development strategy to lift African countries up the industrial value chain. Countries which adhere to these criteria could be rewarded with new investments, development projects and support. Special Africa investment funds could be set up, for example pooling the proceeds from commodities, to finance social and physical infrastructure across the continent. Proceeds from such funds would be distributed on the basis of the willingness of nations to reform. The fund could be used for targeted development in underdeveloped areas of the countries that make the criteria. Those countries scoring badly - and showing no willingness to reform - should be sidelined until they shape up. The sub-regional African institutions, SADC, Comesa and EAC (East Africa Community) should all be collapsed to make way for a revamped continent-wide common market and free trade area. The difficulties that industrial nations now experience because of the global financial crisis means they are likely to become more protectionist, rather than less. African countries will just have to trade smarter within, and with new trading partners among emerging markets. Africa's manufactures and services may be uncompetitive in relation to industrial nations, but can be traded with other African countries. Continental and regional institutions' peace and security policies still have their focus on state security rather than human security. This wrong-headed principle is at the heart of African peers shielding despots such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe from criticism, rather than coming to the aid of desperate citizens. African leaders always side with fellow African leaders when they are criticised by the West, no matter the merits of the criticisms. African solidarity must not be based on leaders or on false unity, but on values such as democracy, social justice, clean government, ethnic inclusiveness and peace. The AU's charter will have to be changed from protecting the sovereignty of individual countries to protecting the security of ordinary Africans. The principle of non-interference in the affairs of neighbours still partially informs the AU's reluctance to intervene forcefully in misgoverned nations. A new AU must sponsor transparent procedures to impeach leaders who turn into tyrants, so that we do not again have the likes of Mugabe. Political parties in AU member countries getting state funding should adhere to minimum internal democratic rules - to prevent one-man parties and tribal parties. Post-independence pan-Africanism failed to build a sense of ownership among African citizens of African integration projects because they were always top-down, leadership focused, exclusive and non-participative rather than bottom-up, citizen driven, inclusive and participative. This must change: ordinary citizens must be given a real say in the decisions that will ultimately impact on their lives. [post_title] => Back to the drawing board for the African Union [post_excerpt] => There cannot be any clearer illustration of the inability of Africa's continental and regional institutions to find local solutions to the continent's problems than their inaction in the face of the wave of popular rebellions against dictators in North Africa. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => back-to-the-drawing-board-for-the-african-union [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/back-to-the-drawing-board-for-the-african-union/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 613 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-07-05 10:57:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-07-05 10:57:43 [post_content] => The suit was filed on December 21, 2001, by the National Confederation of Industry (CNI), in light of Provisional Measure # 2.158-35/01, published during the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration, against the levying of IR and CSLL on profits obtained by companies controlled from or co-connected abroad, independently from the availability of these amounts to the controlled or co-connected company in Brazil. In its original petition, the CNI basically alleged the following: • The unconstitutionality of § 2, of article 43, of the National Tax Code, plus Complementary Law # 104/01. According to the entity, this provision allows the ordinary legislator to establish the moment of occurrence of the generator factor, and can even do so before the fact has actually taken place, which would be going against the provisions of article 153, subsection III, of the Federal Constitution, and the concept of income contained therein • defect pointed out in the heading of article 74 of Provisional Measure (PM) # 2.158-35/01, referring to the difference between co-connected and controlled companies • sole paragraph of article 74 of the PM defends the principles of retroactivity and perviousness Four justices found that the ADI had grounds, or in other words, for the unconstitutionality of article 74 of Provisional Measure 2.158-35/01: Ellen Gracie (partially, considering “unconstitutional only as far as co-connected companies are concerned”), Marco Aurélio, Lewandowiski and Sepúlveda Pertence, the latter retired (substituted by Dias Toffoli). Two justices found that the ADI did not have grounds, in other words, for the validity of article 74: Nelson Jobim (substituted by Cármen Lúcia) and Eros Grau (substituted by Luiz Fux). Justices Carlos Britto, Celso de Mello, Joaquim Barbosa and Cezar Peluso have yet to cast their votes. Gilmar Mendes, due to his previous involvement in the Union Legal Offices (AGU), was impeded from voting. Currently, the mentioned ADI is under request of review by Justice Carlos Britto. [post_title] => Brazil: Supreme Court may rule on profit of companies co-connected or controlled from abroad [post_excerpt] => Ruling on the Direct Unconstitutionality Action (ADI) # 2.588, which provides for the levying of IR (Inland Revenue) and CSLL (Social Contribution over Profit) applicable to profits obtained by companies controlled from or co-connected abroad will be on Brazil's Supreme Federal Court agenda this Thursday. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => brazil-supreme-court-may-rule-on-profit-of-companies-co-connected-or-controlled-from-abroad [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/brazil-supreme-court-may-rule-on-profit-of-companies-co-connected-or-controlled-from-abroad/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 818 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-06-24 19:54:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-06-24 19:54:25 [post_content] => FPC research associate Andrew Southam explores some of the key issues in US-EU judicial co-operation. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Where next for EU-US judicial co-operation? [post_excerpt] => FPC research associate Andrew Southam explores some of the key issues in US-EU judicial co-operation. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-where-next-for-eu-us-judicial-co-operation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-where-next-for-eu-us-judicial-co-operation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [14] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 612 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-06-22 13:58:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-06-22 13:58:03 [post_content] => China's role as a drugs conduit has increased considerably over the past two decades. Throughout the 20th century, opium and later heroin, from the Golden Triangle, was smuggled to Thailand’s seaports and then on to satiate drug markets throughout the world. More effective law enforcement and a stricter drug policy in Thailand in the late 1980s and early 90s reduced the state as an effective trafficking route. Concurrently, Burmese drug lord Khun Sa, the prime heroin producer and distributer along the Thai-Burmese border, surrendered to the Burmese authorities. With the collapse of Khun Sa’s army, Burma’s foremost heroin trafficking route into Thailand was disrupted. Consequently, China’s role as a narcotics conduit became even more crucial. Well over half the heroin produced in the Golden Triangle now travels through China, wending its way through southern provinces Yunnan, Guangxi and Guangdong towards Hong Kong. This shift in regional drug trade routes coincided with rapid economic development in China’s southwest. More robust roads allow for faster and easier transportation of illicit drugs, while an increased fiscal and technological ability to refine heroin locally has driven down its market value and increased local consumption. By 1989, the HIV virus was detected amongst injecting drug users in China’s most south-westerly province Yunnan. Needle sharing drove the epidemic, and HIV/AIDS rapidly spread to drug users in neighbouring provinces and along trafficking routes. At the turn of the century, HIV infections had been reported in all 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, with drug users accounting for 60-70 per cent of reported cases. While the Chinese government was slow to engage substantively with a generalised AIDS epidemic in the country, a new administration taking office in 2003 under President Hu Jintao accelerated the commitment to and implementation of evidence-based HIV policies. Having woken up to the seriousness of its HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Chinese government sought increasingly progressive means to combat the crisis, calling on a range of outside actors to implement new and innovative pilot projects. During the 2000s, the government seemingly revoked its zero-tolerance attitude towards drug users, introducing needle exchange programmes and controlled methadone maintenance treatments in the most affected areas. While the Chinese government continues to take a pragmatic approach to its HIV/AIDS crisis, the good work of these projects is offset by the 2008 Narcotics Law that vastly emphasises law enforcement over medical treatment in the government's response to drug use. This law calls for the rehabilitation of illicit drug users and for their treatment as patients rather than as criminals, yet the law also allows for the incarceration - without trial or judicial oversight – of individuals suspected by police of drug use for up to six years in drug detention centres. To allow for this, the 2008 Narcotics Law considerably enhances police power to randomly search people for possession of drugs, and to subject them to urine tests for drug use without reasonable suspicion of crime. The law also empowers the police, rather than medical professionals, to make judgements on the nature of the suspected users’ addiction, and to subsequently assign alleged drug users to detention centres. According to Human Rights Watch, whilst in detention centres suspected drug users receive no medical care, no support for quitting drugs, and no skills training for re-entering society upon release. In the name of treatment, suspected drug users are confined under "horrific conditions, subject to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and forced to engage in unpaid labour". Not only is this law ineffective in tackling China's growing drug problem and rehabilitating its users, but incarceration of suspected addicts in detention centres represents a serious breach of the basic human rights guaranteed by both China's domestic and international legal commitments. Furthermore, the law is a counter productive policy for combating HIV/AIDS in China. The threat of forcible detention only discourages users from seeking professional help to tackle their addictions, and from utilising needle exchange programmes for fear of incarceration. The result is to encourage "underground" illicit drug use that leads to needle sharing and hence the spread of HIV/AIDS. Effective tackling of illicit drug use requires developing voluntary, outpatient treatment based upon effective, proven approaches to drug addiction. Specific reform of the law should reverse the expanded police powers to detain suspected users without trial, and implement specific procedural mechanisms to protect the health and human rights of drug users in a standardised and appropriate way. The Chinese government has sought to work with outside actors in combating its HIV/AIDS epidemic, particularly in its most affected province Yunnan. The UK Department for International Development (DfID) has been engaged in HIV/AIDS prevention throughout southwest China since the launch of the China-UK HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Programme in 2001. DfID’s Multilateral Aid Review, published in March this year, cut all future development aid to China. The discontinuation of DfID projects in southwest China will weaken efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS and rehabilitate drug users in the region. It also lessens pressure on China to combat these issues in a reasonable and felicitous way. The international donor community present in China must implement policies that reflect realities on the ground by ensuring that the health care and treatment of drug users is at the core of their HIV/AIDS policies. They should also use their position of influence to nudge Beijing to rectify the flaws in the 2008 Narcotics Law with its negative implications for the human rights of suspected drug users, and for combating the spread of HIV/AIDS. If the country’s skyrocketing number of intravenous drug users and the resultant HIV/AIDS epidemic are left to fester, it could result in severe health consequences, economic loss and social devastation. China still has time to act, but it should do so now before it is too late. June 2011 [post_title] => China’s Flawed Drugs Policy [post_excerpt] => China has woken up to its drug problem, but it is failing woefully in trying to tackle it. Nestled between two major heroin-producing regions, the Golden Triangle (Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam) and the Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran), China has long been a transit path for drugs headed toward the rest of the world. Along an ever-expanding network of routes that lead to China’s international seaports, domestic heroin use is soaring. No longer just a transit country, it now has a sizable user population of its own. The rise in domestic heroin addiction has had disastrous social consequences, with an increase in Chinese drug cultivation and organised criminal activity, as well as a rise in intravenous drug use and a spiralling HIV/AIDS epidemic. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => chinas-flawed-drugs-policy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/chinas-flawed-drugs-policy/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [15] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 611 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-06-09 15:38:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-06-09 15:38:10 [post_content] => Especially due to the fact that the episodes that involved Antonio Palocci were not factors as far crises within the pro-government base were concerned. The crisis came from before and was only more vigorously exposed due to the allegations against the minister. According to Arko Advice surveys, support for the government in Congress already began to decline in April. In May, amidst the Palocci issue, there was the polemic voting on the Electoral Code with dissatisfactions amongst all involved. The government was defeated, confirming its fragility and problems related to the allied base. Thus, Palocci fell due to his own errors and those of the government itself. Even though exempted by the Attorney General of the Republic, allegations would continue to place the government in a more fragile situation, both due to poorly resolved issues as far as ally participation in the ministries is concerned and also due to the alleged issues. However, the larger source of problems during the Palocci episode originated from his closest allies. Initially, defense of the Minister was timid and disarticulate. Following that, despite the effort to protect him, some voices within the party questioned his permanence in the position. Governor of Bahia, Jaques Wagner (PT), stated that Palocci's wealth growth "sparked attention". Behind-the-scenes, Palocci's situation was considered very bad and his fall only a question of time. Some people criticized his silence and his delay in going public to render explanations. They felt that this posture worsened wear and tear on the government; and, as an extra generated significant irritation. Others even said that it would be better for Palocci to go to Congress to explain himself and take advantage of fact that important sectors of the press were saving him from harder attacks. The interview given to the Jornal Nacional was reasonable, but not sufficient to reduce pressure. However, news headlines over the weekend were mortal. Even though the minister can't be accused of illegal conduct, to live in an apartment that belongs to a "front company" is extremely bad. Palocci's exit is a big loss for everyone in light of his experience, capability and, even, for the pragmatism he always demonstrated in orchestrating economic policy and as a federal representative. Both the financial market and business community considered Palocci as a guarantee that there would be no craziness within the economic sphere. He was seen as a center of sensibility within government. On the other hand, based on her attitudes and statements since taking office, Rousseff has demonstrated being the proprietor of the government's economic credibility. Without Palocci, her responsibility will tend to increase. We don't really believe there will be any problems with economic management. However, from a political point of view, a few changes are necessary: in posture, perspectives and expectations. The government must be more proactive in seeking a more permanent form of dialogue. The government must understand that its closest allies are more than just allies: they are co-managers of a cohabitation government. Dialogue has to be ample as does access to the main ministers. The expectations of all must also be seriously taken into consideration. It is necessary to understand that the success of the allies increases the possibility of continuity of the current political project and offers better conditions for the ability to govern. After all, Palocci's exit imposes serious reflection and a re-beginning. The opposition will continue to insist on the issue, even following Antonio Palocci's stepping down from the position. The reason being, that it is interesting to keep the government backed into the corner to strengthen the perception of a government in difficulty and on the defensive. With this, the opposition hopes to weaken not only President Dilma Rousseff, but also president Lula, who was the main person responsible for her election. The effort to convince the minister to render clarifications to Congress continues. Furthermore, the effort to create a CPI to investigate the former minister also continues but with small chances of becoming reality. [post_title] => Brazil: Palocci's exit suggests new model [post_excerpt] => It may seem strange that a strong and popular government and one with an immense support base would sacrifice its most important minister due to allegations that don't even pertain to the government itself. Well, it really is very strange. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => brazil-paloccis-exit-suggests-new-model [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/brazil-paloccis-exit-suggests-new-model/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [16] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 610 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-05-17 13:31:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-05-17 13:31:11 [post_content] => Inflation Last week, the headlines gave great importance to inflation. On TV, Jornal Nacional (TV Globo) pointed out food price hikes. On the other hand, the printed press published a few articles indicating a drop in inflationary pressure, but the majority addressed the issue with concern. In light of the fact that inflation represents the greatest threat to the government's popularity, this is the number one issue on President Dilma Rousseff's agenda. “My administration is aware of all the inflationary pressures known to exist at the present moment”, stated the president, who has already made use of several weapons to fight it, amongst which higher interest rates, credit restriction and reduction of the price of gasoline and alcohol. The issue’s permanence in the order of the day is producing highly disagreeable repercussions, such as: a) the government applying psychological pressure on sectors that are theoretically “inflating” prices; and b) labor union pressure for wage hikes to make up for losses due to accumulated inflation. Even though the Central Bank’s expectations in relation to inflation are that the worst has already passed, the government continues to be cautious and may announce new measures whose impact may displease the business community (higher interest rates and credit restrictions) and political circles (expenditure cutbacks). Within the short-term scenario, the possibility of a worsening and loss of control is low. According to the last Focus survey, and for the first time in two months, analysts and economists have reduced their projections for inflation for this year from 6.37% to 6.33%. Growth Because it is the greatest threat to our situation, the fight against inflation is the government's priority. However, the “growth” issue is also of concern in light of the fact that economic indicators have already shown discrete deceleration. It is worthwhile highlighting that the FGV Industrial Confidence Index retreated by 1.1% from March to April and that this was its fourth consecutive drop. The April drop was attributed to less positive expectations for the following months. Concerned about the dissemination of a psychologically negative atmosphere, last week Dilma Rousseff made a clear manifestation addressing the issue, suggesting that controlled inflation and growth are compatible and priority targets within her administration. Over the short-term, an eventual deceleration should not lead to politically tragic consequences in light of the fact that the government has margin for maneuver to maintain the economy at a good performance level. Foreign exchange Despite pressure from exporter segments, the trend over the short-term is the maintenance of current policy. Obviously, the Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Exchange, Fernando Pimentel, reaffirmed that foreign exchange policy will not change and that “we will have to live with it, because the world trend is devaluation of the dollar”. In light of the fact that the export industry will continue to suffer with the foreign exchange issue, the government has signaled that it will seek to attenuate the effects of the devaluation. It will do this both on the external front – where it will pressure the World Trade Organization (WTO) to include the foreign exchange issue as an element of assessment of trade practices – and internally with actions such as taxation unburdening and also protection of domestic products. For the business sector, the unburdening issue on exports is a pacific point. However, when dealing with protectionist measures, reactions are antagonistic. There are at least three sectors involved: those that import on a large scale; those that export on a large-scale; and those that import and export on a large scale. The foreign exchange issue is not popular, even though it has an impact on price behavior. Considering that inflation is the priority, the trend is that foreign exchange policy will continue to be used in favor of lower prices. [post_title] => Inflation, growth and foreign exchange: Risks and problems [post_excerpt] => Amongst the risks and problems that surround the Brazilian situation, the top three are: inflation, growth and foreign exchange. Thiago de Aragao assesses each of these in a new article for the Foreign Policy Centre. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => inflation-growth-and-foreign-exchange-risks-and-problems [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/inflation-growth-and-foreign-exchange-risks-and-problems/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [17] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 609 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-04-19 10:42:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-04-19 10:42:43 [post_content] => Firstly, these are situations beyond comparison. One is not more important than the other. They are simply different, with distinct natures and purposes. Brazil is still learning how to deal with its main trade partner of the last 40 years, the USA, but we were already used to the North American modus operandi. Furthermore, within the cultural aspect, even when negotiations with the USA were extremely complicated, both sides understood the dynamics of the other very well. Recently, when China took on this position (main trade partner), Brazil's saw itself forced to understand the new formula for negotiation. From the Chinese point of view, we are an extremely young country that still doesn't know what it wants or what position it wants to occupy in the world. However, Brazil continues to try and understand China. It isn't difficult to find seminars throughout Brazil whose subject matter is understanding the Chinese. Rousseff went to China to punch in and initiate a series of negotiations to mold and organize the way in which both countries trade with each other. First and foremost, Rousseff went to seek to understand the dynamics and the mode of operations that orchestrate the voracious Chinese appetite to purchase at breakneck speed everything we are able to offer. Naturally, Brazil desires to not only be an exporter of raw materials but also of added value products, which is very difficult. The major problem with this is that the main items exported by the Chinese are precisely finished materials at prices impossible to compete with. As masters at reverse engineering and without the Western notion of private property, labor or intellectual property rights, the Chinese make competition impossible and threaten to be the greatest roadblock in the future for trade negotiations between the two countries; All this without taking into consideration their lack of concern for the environment. However, Brazil is predisposed to understand this problem and even agrees that there is no short-term solution. After all, things that don't have a solution are already solved. From this aspect, the second issue of importance addressed by Rousseff and the Chinese premier, Hu Jintao, is China's eventual support for Brazil's entry into the UN Security Council as a permanent member. The Chinese counter position is its desire for Brazil to anticipate its recognition as a world economy. Brazilian industry is against this, because it would make the antidumping case against China unfeasible. In parallel to these two tangents on the agenda between the countries, other relevant issues achieved favorable outcomes. Embraer managed what it desired and will continue to expand its operations in Harbin; national pork meat production achieved a formidable market; and investment in Brazil, such as Foxconn, have an enormous potential to incentivize others. Politically, the value of the trip was the expansion of the communication channel. Rousseff has made clear what Brazil expects of China and vice versa. We know what to discuss and what each other’s issues of interest are. China is, without doubt, a lever for our foreign trade. However, if we take too long to understand that the sizes are disproportional between both countries, we can be more negatively affected than benefitted. [post_title] => Brazil: Rousseff and her trip to China [post_excerpt] => There are those who wanted to discuss which would be most important for Brazilian foreign policy: a visit of Barack Obama to Brazil or a visit by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to China. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => brazil-rousseff-and-her-trip-to-china [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/brazil-rousseff-and-her-trip-to-china/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [18] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 608 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-04-19 10:40:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-04-19 10:40:18 [post_content] => Also last week, an article written by former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso was circulated defining a strategy for the opposition, which suffered its third consecutive loss in presidential races against the PT: change course and try to structure itself better for 2014. The former president stated that, while the PSDB and its allies insist on disputing influence over "social movements" or “the people" (in other words with the needy and less informed masses) with the PT, they will continue to be talking only to themselves. FHC recommended instead of doing that, the PSDB should direct its message to another segment. He claims that there is an entire range of middle classes, of new classes (younger and different types of business people) and of contemporary activity professionals in information technology, entertainment and news services spread throughout Brazil. Added to this group is the not very precisely called “class C”, or the “new middle class.” Shortly afterwards, true to their role, government leaders stated that the former president didn't like the general public. Former president Lula, ironically stated: “I don't know how someone can study so much and then wants to forget about the people.” Lula and the government leaders are not wrong. They are absolutely right in trying to distort former president Cardoso's statement and attempt to use it in their favor. The speech opened up the door to criticism and only increased Lula and the government's identification with the more needy. The opposition is wrong. It didn't understand what Fernando Henrique Cardoso said and tried to justify itself quickly, stating that it does like the poor. Those that did understand didn't know or were unable to express themselves. The former president himself was obliged to give an interview to the Valor newspaper explaining what he meant to say. It's clear that the opposition continues to be rudderless, without a discourse and, if it doesn't act quickly, it will no longer have a public. Currently, the main party leaders spend time and energy on the internal dispute and don't pay any attention to the message. Elections can't be won without a message. As Cardoso wrote, they are going to continue speaking to a brick wall. [post_title] => Brazil : A dehydrated opposition and one with no discourse [post_excerpt] => Last week in Brazil, a new party was created: the PSD. This is the 28th party to be registered at the Brazilian Superior Electoral Court. In the Brazilian Congress alone, the opposition (DEM and PPS) lost 14 representatives and one senator to this new party. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => brazil-a-dehydrated-opposition-and-one-with-no-discourse [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/brazil-a-dehydrated-opposition-and-one-with-no-discourse/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [19] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 607 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-04-07 10:41:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-04-07 10:41:08 [post_content] => The first lapse was over intelligence. A rumour developed that Colonel Gaddafi had fled Libya to the Venezuelan island of Margarita, where one of his sons is said to be in exile. Hague fuelled the fire by suggesting the stories were true, which later turned out to be wrong. Intelligence can be notoriously unreliable, and, as a senior minister, a lot of information is shared with you on a confidential basis. Hague’s judgment was questioned for publicly discussing such unconfirmed information. The second failure was a bureaucratic one – the slowness of getting British citizens evacuated from Libya. While countries such as France, Germany and Turkey managed to evacuate most of their citizens in a few days, Britain had left its nationals stranded owing to apparent incompetence at the Foreign Office, with planes sitting on runways and emails from British workers left unanswered, forcing the Prime Minister to step in. A foreign policy analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity, said last week: “You have seen in recent weeks Cameron asserting himself in foreign policy far more than in his first few months in office, something he’d previously seemed desperate to avoid. Hague’s wobble in the early stages of the crisis did knock his reputation but not irretrievably.” The third episode was the failed Special Forces mission in Eastern Libya. The operation was a joint effort between the Special Boat Services (SBS) and the Secret Intelligence Services (SIS, also known as MI6). The mission was authorised by both Cameron and Hague, but a lack of co-ordination led to some officers entering Libya via Land Rovers, while others flew in on Chinook helicopters, the noise of which alerted rebels to their presence. The botched operation ended in the humiliation of Special Forces being kidnapped by a group of rebel farmers. With an unfavourable press, a number of his Cabinet colleagues were said to be in the frame to replace the Foreign Secretary in a reshuffle, though it looks unlikely as Cameron wouldn’t want to see a disgruntled Hague active on the backbenches. Possible successors have been positioning themselves, with the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, appealing to the right of the party by sounding hawkish on Iran, Michael Gove being assertive over democratisation and security in the Muslim world (something on which he has written a book), and Andrew Mitchell, who has gained plaudits for his quiet effectiveness at the Department for International Development, rumoured to have been on “manoeuvres” in recent weeks. However, despite these managerial problems, William Hague maintains the full confidence of the Prime Minister and seems popular among many ordinary Conservative party members. How has a man who has suffered such slings and arrows, and endured a humiliating defeat in 2001 as party leader, remained as a great survivor of British politics? There have been some successes in his time at the Foreign Office. The fact that Britain worked so closely with France and the United States in securing UN Resolution 1973 speaks of the efforts that Hague made behind the scenes along with his diplomatic team, although some more Eurosceptic MPs were said to be uneasy at the leading role France took. The military campaign has progressed fairly smoothly with no major failings in terms of losses or civilian casualties so far, though things may prove more difficult as the long-term objectives of the campaign remain unclear. Hague handled the defection of Moussa Koussa effectively too. Something of a coup for Britain, the defection of one of Libya’s most high-ranking officials must have dealt a psychological blow to Gaddafi. Hague has been careful to navigate the tricky legal and political issues surrounding it, by refusing to grant immunity to a man accused of being involved in the Lockerbie bombing and support for the IRA. One of the great difficulties of being Foreign Secretary is that the best laid plans can be undermined by the outcome of what Harold Macmillan called “events, dear boy, events”. Hague was unfortunate enough to have visited Bahrain in February and praised its democratic progress, only to watch in horror as it invited Saudi troops in to crush a rebellion by its Shi’a citizens. As another foreign policy expert told me: “Hague has learned the hard way that response to events, rather than execution of pre-determined strategy, determines success in foreign policy. His early foreign policy has been washed away in a sea of change, and he has now been marginalised by an increasingly activist Prime Minister. “Ironically, this may help explain his survival, as David Cameron’s new interest in foreign policy has taken him out of the firing line.” Like many Prime Ministers, the longer Cameron stays in the job, the more his day is taken up with international issues and security concerns. While he will want to do all he can to protect his Foreign Secretary, it remains to be seen how many more lives the great survivor has left. This article was first published by the Yorkshire Post. [post_title] => Alex Bigham: Test of strength as Hague finds his feet on the global stage [post_excerpt] => From Nick Clegg to Ed Miliband, via David Davis and Ed Balls, Yorkshire’s MPs could never be accused of being shrinking violets. But the Foreign Secretary and Richmond MP, William Hague, could do with a period of time out of the spotlight. From the infamous pictures in a baseball cap, via his dealings with Lord Ashcroft, to the rumours about his private life, he has often struggled to manage his own image. Which perhaps makes it the more surprising that he has proven to be such an effective political survivor. His time as Foreign Secretary has not been without controversy. Questions over Hague’s authority have focussed on how the Government handled the initial period of the uprising in Libya. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alex-bigham-test-of-strength-as-hague-finds-his-feet-on-the-global-stage [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/alex-bigham-test-of-strength-as-hague-finds-his-feet-on-the-global-stage/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [20] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 814 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-04-07 10:14:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-04-07 10:14:38 [post_content] => New FPC Research Associate Andrew Southam gives us his take on the controversial 2003 UK-US extradition treaty, whether criticism is valid and what can be done to improve the situation. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Do we need to rethink UK-US extradition arrangements? [post_excerpt] => New FPC Research Associate Andrew Southam gives us his take on the controversial 2003 UK-US extradition treaty, whether criticism is valid and what can be done to improve the situation. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-do-we-need-to-rethink-uk-us-extradition-arrangements [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-do-we-need-to-rethink-uk-us-extradition-arrangements/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [21] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 810 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-04-05 15:46:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-04-05 15:46:53 [post_content] => Tim Summers explores recent economic transformation in China and makes the case for greater engagement with the countries less well-known regions beyond traditional investment markets. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Engaging with Inland China [post_excerpt] => Tim Summers explores recent economic transformation in China and makes the case for greater engagement with the countries less well-known regions beyond traditional investment markets. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-engaging-with-inland-china [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-engaging-with-inland-china/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [22] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 605 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-03-16 16:11:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-03-16 16:11:19 [post_content] => Analysts and researchers observing the region – not to find answers to European and American questions but to understand where it was heading on its own terms – have long been pointing out the demographic and social trends. The growing youth population wanted change, democracy, equal opportunities and an end to corruption and nepotism. They were more interested in connecting with the rest of the world and feeling proud of their countries than joining backward Islamist utopias. It was clear, if one really wanted to see it, that political Islam had evolved from merely wanting Sharia based isolationism into an attempt to reconcile Islamic faith and its principles with the realities of a global world. In fact, groups such as Al-Qaida and its myriad of local expressions emerged in reaction to this trend. Even then it was clear that the heyday of militant and anarchist groups was passing – though their capacity to cause harm was not. Militant Islamist groups were distant observers of the changes in the Middle East and North Africa, and could claim no victory or achievement in the toppling of rulers which they had been promising to dethrone for years. When the curtains came down, it became clear that while Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood remain political players not to be overlooked, they are a lot less grand than the bogey men they have been made out to be. Even the governments that traditionally favour stability at the expense of freedoms as the better of evils – such as the United States – were acutely aware that the realpolitik dichotomy of stability versus chaos was only a myth. A quick internet search reveals statements by George Bush and Condoleezza Rice acknowledging that supporting tyrants for short term gains was counterproductive and the promotion of democracy and political freedom was the only guarantors of long term stability. Thus, even the fiercest critiques of Turkey's ruling conservative Muslim AKP have spoken of it as a model for the rest of Muslim world. Turkey, contrary to all of the scaremongering about an Islamist takeover, was being seen as a success story – a Muslim society that is democratic and cherishes an open market economy. So, yes, hindsight is great. It comforts us by removing the shocking truth that we have been blind, we have pursued outdated and futile policies, and we have been on the wrong side of history. As European leaders compete against one another to make emotive statements praising the brave uprising of Arabs in feeble attempts to look like they have been with the common people of the region all along, they quickly forget – or wish that we forget – all of the murky connections they had with now out of fashion leaders of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, and their continued dealings with similarly shady governments in Iran and Saudi Arabia. While we don't know what exactly the current changes in the region will mean in the long run, one thing is certain. The EU's problematic and fragmented engagement with the region is in shatters. Unless the EU develops a robust, unified and multi-layered and proactive foreign policy, it will continue to find itself excluded from brand new economic and political opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa. The EU no longer has to compete only with a strong American presence there, but also with the ever increasing diplomatic and economic clout of Turkey and Iran, as well as strong domestic public opinion and civil societies. Can the EU achieve this and realise its potential as a stabilizing and influential force in the region? At the moment the answer is no. But then again, in the last two months we have learned how quickly stubborn old regimes can give way to liquid and energetic new ones. Who knows, maybe a European revolution is awaiting us around the corner. Link to the original article: http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/article/89/europe-must-change-its-attitude-in-the-middle-east [post_title] => Europe must change its attitude in the Middle East [post_excerpt] => None of us really foresaw how quickly waves of change could alter the political landscape across the Middle East and North Africa – because most opinion makers were looking at the region through the lenses of security, Islamism, stability and migration. Yet, just like a good detective story, the clues of what was to happen were in front of us all the time. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => europe-must-change-its-attitude-in-the-middle-east [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/europe-must-change-its-attitude-in-the-middle-east/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [23] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 604 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-03-16 16:06:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-03-16 16:06:17 [post_content] => It is probably unfair to judge the Foreign Office solely on its response to crises. Like many big institutions, it finds it hard to re-allocate resources swiftly from one priority to another; and in the past month there have been multiple crises -- Libya, Japan, Yemen, and Bahrain. There is still a lot of work to do in Egypt and Tunisia. In most of these cases it involves both a consular and a political response. And there are slow-burning crises like Afghanistan. The FCO could improve its ability to respond to multiple crises by relaxing its rules on hiring temporary staff, and setting up a roster of security-cleared contractors for such situations. That's especially useful if they have necessary skills (consular experience, specific language skills, etc.) Also, maybe it should be bringing in people from Whitehall rather than just Foreign Office staff for emergencies. The bigger question on the Libyan crisis, and Egypt and Tunisia as well, is whether the FCO was well enough prepared for this contingency. My feeling is that on Egypt, it did better than many other countries -- David Cameron was right to say 'there is no stability in Egypt' when other world leaders were still saying Mubarak was necessary for stability. That reflects well on the team on the ground. In Libya, it was up against some prodigious obstacles. Diplomats who have served there say it's one of the hardest countries in the world to find out what's going on. We still hardly know what's going on there, even with the world’s journalists trying to find out. So I think the criticism aimed at the Foreign Office and William Hague over the infamous botched attempt to establish contact with the rebels, was at least partly unfair. It would be worse for the Foreign Office to avoid all risks, in the hope that it would never be exposed to criticism when the risks don’t come off. But there is a broader issue raised by events in the Middle East, which Hague himself highlighted when he became Foreign Secretary. The core skill of the FCO is its knowledge of foreign countries and ability to use that knowledge to Britain’s benefit. For this, it needs more people that are fluent in foreign languages -- a traditional strength, but which has been under threat particularly since its own in-house language school was cut a few years ago. It also needs its people to get out more. The FCO is great at information-sharing. But the need to consult, confer and deliberate focusses people inwards. There need to be incentives to rebalance this. At the moment, meetings with external contacts are much less visible to those in the organization; even if they win allies for Britain, that is relatively hard to measure. Making friends with ordinary Egyptians or Tunisians, put bluntly, does not often help diplomats to write their reports for London. It is very useful, though, for predicting revolutions. This extends to London, too. Even if Libyans in Libya can't talk much, those in the UK can do. The FCO has a great opportunity in London, which is just about the capital of world dissidents, to engage with emigres and learn from them what we can't find out on the ground. There is a way to turn this around. There should be a metric to measure diplomatic effect. For a start, MPs should ask the Foreign Secretary annually roughly what proportion of their time his staff spent meeting foreigners -- including people from outside the ruling elites; and for some examples of diplomatic success stories that have resulted. Link to the original article http://www.totalpolitics.com/opinion/153067/refocusing-the-foreign-office.thtml [post_title] => Refocusing the Foreign Office [post_excerpt] => Every crisis should be an opportunity. The Libya crisis has been a bad one for William Hague so far; but maybe it can be the spur for what he has said he wants, which is re-focussing the Foreign Office on developing impact and influence abroad. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => refocusing-the-foreign-office [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/refocusing-the-foreign-office/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [24] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 808 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-03-09 10:45:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-03-09 10:45:12 [post_content] => FPC Senior Research Associate William Gumede gives a facinating take on the potential impact of North Africa's uprisings on countries south of the Sahara. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Africa Rising? Will the popular rebellions in North Africa go south of the Sahara? [post_excerpt] => FPC Senior Research Associate William Gumede gives a facinating take on the potential impact of North Africa's uprisings on countries south of the Sahara. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-africa-rising-will-the-popular-rebellions-in-north-africa-go-south-of-the-sahara [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-africa-rising-will-the-popular-rebellions-in-north-africa-go-south-of-the-sahara/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [25] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 560 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-03-04 12:59:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-03-04 12:59:28 [post_content] => On January 29, with protesters defying police brutality and curfews, former Bush adviser Elliott Abrams claimed that ‘Bush had it right – and that the Obama administration's abandonment of this mind-set [i.e. the ‘freedom agenda’] is nothing short of a tragedy’. By February 2, Mubarak had sacked his government and had announced that he would not run for re-election in September. ‘The map of Northern Africa and the Middle East is changing’, declared Yale law professor Stephen L Carter. ‘You can easily trace the curve of freedom as the surge moves eastward. At some point, the land of the free has to get ahead of the curve.’ By February 10, with Mubarak’s departure looking imminent, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer proposed a ‘freedom doctrine’ in four parts. ‘Today, everyone and his cousin supports the “freedom agenda”. Of course', remembered Krauthammer, ‘yesterday it was just George W Bush, Tony Blair and a band of neo-cons with unusual hypnotic powers who dared challenge the received wisdom of Arab exceptionalism’. Arab exceptionalism: The notion that the Arabs don’t really want democracy, and aren’t suited to it even if they did. Stated in these terms, the concept has obvious appeal only to the likes of the House of Saud and those keen to excuse their dealings with them. The citizens of Tunisia and Egypt have shown ‘Arab exceptionalism’ to be a nonsense as derogatory and outmoded as the so-called ‘Hindu growth rate’. Its rejection was a key plank in Bush’s ‘freedom agenda’. As Bush said in 2003: ‘Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe – because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export.’ The popular movements of Tunisia and Egypt have not only debunked ‘Arab exceptionalism’ they have also exposed the limits of a certain brand of ‘realism’, according to which biddable autocrats ‘may be bastards, but they’re our bastards’ (or, in the words Shakespeare gave a Roman at Caesar’s funeral, ‘I fear there will a worse come in his place’). According to this thinking, the erstwhile dictators of Tunisia and Egypt, with their jet-black hair and reported fabulous wealth, were bulwarks against the rise of extreme Islamist governments. As if propping up regimes that deny their peoples rights and dignity is an obvious way to prevent radicalisation. As if the best answer the world can come up with to the troubling question of Islamic extremism is Hosni Mubarak. Set aside the morality of this approach (as realists would advise you should). It didn’t work. Mubarak proved unsalvageable. Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has called for elections in six months. And with that same Council announcing that it will honour Egypt’s peace with Israel, the horrors which American support for Mubarak was meant to stave off are unlikely to come to pass. ‘Rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators’, said Bush in his 2005 inaugural address. The Egyptians who refused to leave Tahrir Square when Mubarak offered various concessions (that he would resign in September, that his son would not seek the presidency, that his powers would be transferred to the vice-president) evidently agree. In the debate over the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis, much has been made of the need to get on the ‘right side of history’. Rightly so. Being seen to side with dictators against their peoples is not a good place to be. It is also an inept approach for the world as it is now: An interdependent global society of people who have, broadly speaking, the same aspirations and who use and are connected by the same technology. Why, then, the controversy over an American ‘freedom agenda’? Why must it be defended by former Bush officials? One is left with the impression that democracy promotion became so associated with Bush and the neo-cons that it is now akin to a partisan cause. It would be a pity if that remains the case, because there is nothing particularly Republican or neo-conservative about the universal appeal of freedom. Radical philosopher Slavoj Zizek, billed as the ‘Elvis of cultural theory’, would make an unlikely neo-con. ‘Where we are fighting a tyrant we are all universalists’, Zizek told Al Jazeera English last week. ‘Here we have a direct proof … that freedom is universal’. Clad in a black t-shirt, Zizek went on to claim the removal of dictators in Tunisia and Egypt as blows struck for a ‘universal revolution for dignity, human rights [and] economic justice’. Barack Hussein Obama – African father, childhood years in Indonesia – is uniquely well-placed to bear this message. The Obama administration has been criticised during the standoff between Mubarak and the protesters for timidity and vacillation. This is unfair. Egypt envoy and old State Department hand Frank Wisner was speaking out of turn when he said Mubarak ‘must stay in office’, and his remarks were quickly disowned. The truth is the Obama administration maintained its room to manoeuvre in what was (and is) a fluid situation, and harsh criticism from the likes of right-wing historian Niall Ferguson is a price it seems willing to pay. Obama's call for 'genuine democracy' after Mubarak's resignation is promising. "Egyptians have inspired us", the president said. They've certainly inspired their neighbours. For the popular rejection of dictatorship has quickly spread. The four-decade rule of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi now hangs in the balance in Libya. Forces loyal to Gaddafi were reportedly shooting unarmed protesters while the North African tyrant, at once brutal and preposterous, appeared on state television "to clarify .... that I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela". His son, Saif, also appeared on television. "We will not leave Libya to the Italians or to the Turks’, he blustered, in a curiously specific riff on the common despot’s refrain that regime opponents are tools of foreign agents. It gets more absurd still. Saif Gaddafi recently completed his doctorate at the London School of Economics. Its aim, Gaddafi wrote, was to analyse ‘how to create more just and democratic global governing institutions’. A fact he could use to impress the protesters he threatened with ‘rivers of blood’ and promised ‘to fight to the last bullet’, should he fall into their hands. It was John F. Kennedy who urged post-colonial leaders to remember ‘that those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside’. It’s advice the Gaddafi family might like to consider, while Tunisia’s former president – now a guest of Saudi Arabia – didn’t need to be told. Originally published at http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/44208.html [post_title] => Egypt, Obama, Bush and the 'freedom agenda' [post_excerpt] => On January 25, Egyptians took to Tahrir Square to claim freedom from dictatorship. They were soon followed by former Bush administration officials and conservative commentators, who took to the opinion pages of America’s journals of record to claim vindication. Specifically, vindication for George W Bush’s ‘freedom agenda’ of promoting the spread of democracy. And as the protests in Egypt grew ever larger, and the reign of President Hosni Mubarak looked increasingly doomed, the claims on behalf of the ‘freedom agenda’ became bolder. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => egypt-obama-bush-and-the-freedom-agenda [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/egypt-obama-bush-and-the-freedom-agenda/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [26] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 796 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-02-15 12:33:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-02-15 12:33:01 [post_content] => Tim Flatman gives his take on the challenging situation in Sudan's Abyei region and makes the case for more robust US and UK engagement. [post_title] => FPC Briefing- Abyei: Beyond expediency, towards sustainable peace [post_excerpt] => Tim Flatman gives his take on the challenging situation in Sudan's Abyei region and makes the case for more robust US and UK engagement. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-abyei-beyond-expediency-towards-sustainable-peace [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-abyei-beyond-expediency-towards-sustainable-peace/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [27] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 603 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-02-14 13:04:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-02-14 13:04:01 [post_content] => But this reflexive response to large-scale dissent has set a potential precedent for dealing with civil unrest that could have far-reaching implications. The shutdown of Egypt’s four big Internet service providers put an estimated 93 percent of the country’s networks beyond the reach of its citizens. It was, says Renesys’ James Cowie, ‘an action unprecedented in Internet history.’ Plenty of governments around the world censor the Internet. The Mubarak regime, though, opted to block it entirely. Internet access in Egypt was restored within a week. But what the Mubarak regime did as an ad hoc emergency measure, others are doing on a more permanent and systematic basis. North Korea is a prime example. In December’s Pacific Review, academics Cheng Chen, Kyungmin Ko and Ji-Yong Lee outlined Pyongyang’s alleged plan to build an Internet with North Korean characteristics. They estimate that at present, Internet access in North Korea is restricted to ‘no more than a few thousand people in Pyongyang.’ Others—privileged elites in the major cities—have to make do with a domestic intranet. Built in 2002, it encompasses ‘several web sites’ including email, e-commerce and chat room services. But North Korea has apparently outgrown this arrangement, and its intranet is reportedly no longer able to handle an increasing volume of information. According to the authors, Kim Jong-il’s regime has realized that blocking the Internet in its entirety is a recipe for ‘continuing technological backwardness,’ and so it has resolved to ‘relax its death grip over the use of the Internet’ as part of its economic development strategy. What will this entail? According to Kim Heung-kwang, a computer scientist who defected from North Korea, the government has developed a ‘roadmap’ to broaden access, in a heavily controlled form. This roadmap is said to be a seven-year plan that’s heavily focused on monitoring, filtering and blocking information. A series of controls is supposed to act as a ‘mosquito net.’ Bad things—new ideas, news and culture—would be kept out. Good things, such as foreign investment, would be allowed through. The final stage of the roadmap is supposed to be the opening up of the Internet ‘to enterprises, organizations and the general public.’ Such an approach would certainly be consistent with remarks attributed to Kim Jong-il by the Yonhap News Agency in 2007. ‘I’m an Internet expert too,’ he is quoted as saying. ‘It’s all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired. If that problem is addressed, there’s no reason not to open’ the Internet. The regime’s goal, according to the defector, is not to allow free personal access to the Internet, but rather to permit ‘North Korean Internet users to access the Internet within a specific time and limited hours, and with restricted sources and defined ranges, and only for public benefits.’ Of course, all of this means that what North Korea is creating isn’t the web in any recognizable form. Instead, what the regime is essentially doing is building a walled garden app. On the World Wide Web, content is stored on billions of interlinked web pages. But in walled garden apps, content is controlled by the creator—self-contained and often unlinked. Thus, the BBC News app for the iPhone features news only from the BBC. The ridiculously popular ‘Angry Birds’ app contains exactly what its name suggests and little else. In an article in August titled ‘The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet,’ Wired Editor Chris Anderson examined the ‘move from the wide-open Web to semi-closed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display.’ It’s driven, says Anderson, by changing preferences and changing technology: The appeal of exploring the web has given way to the convenience of ‘dedicated platforms.’ An increasing proportion of people are accessing the Internet through handheld devices (mainly smart phones, but also tablets like the iPad), which have smaller screens better suited to individual apps than to browsers. Not everyone welcomes the trend toward walled garden apps. Internet entrepreneur Steven Johnson recently complained: ‘this year, for the first time in my adult life, unlinkable information began growing at a meaningful clip.' But it’s a trend driven by a familiar trade-off: consumers want convenience and value certain brands; producers want better revenue models than the web generally affords. But a walled garden state of the kind envisaged by the North Korean ‘roadmap’ would be a totalitarian mirror image of self-contained apps. There would be no equivalent trade-off between government and citizen. Internet users subject to ‘mosquito net’ filtering would be completely cut off from what Anderson calls the ‘wide-open Web of peer production, the so-called generative web where everyone is free to create what they want.’ So why go to the trouble of building a walled garden? North Korea’s government, say the researchers, ‘has largely adopted a “reactive” attitude toward the Internet as a potential political threat.’ It’s suspicious of both domestic dissent (online ‘samizdata’) and foreign meddling (as it would doubtless see ‘21st century statecraft’ practised by the US State Department). Needless to say, North Korea is an extreme case, while Egypt’s emergency blackout is a path open to virtually any regime facing ‘difficulties.’ But the Egypt example also demonstrates that autocrats who deny their people access to inconvenient content outside the bounds of a walled garden will still face resistance. The response to Egypt’s Internet blackout was immediate and self-organising, starting when Shervin Pishevar, a technology entrepreneur based in California, posted a message on Twitter: ‘I need volunteers to help build mobile ad hoc mesh networking hidden in backpacks/cars/rooftops powered by satellite that can't be blocked.’ Thus began an international effort to get ‘mesh network’ software into Egypt, to allow individual laptops to communicate with each other. The goal, Pishevar told The Daily Beast, was ‘a kind of secondary Internet, one that would not be blockable.’ Google also launched an Egypt-specific workaround to let people post Twitter messages by phone. Pishevar says he now wants to take the ‘mesh network’ technology to ‘any country where there is dictatorship…My dream is that in my lifetime we can get rid of dictatorships.’ This is the new ‘freedom agenda’ facing architects of walled garden states: not the policy of any particular government, but the realm of activists, engineers and entrepreneurs converging to form coalitions of the willing. Walled garden apps might well represent the future of a predominantly handheld Internet, but no one would want to actually live in one. Attempts to create walled garden states—virtual carve-outs from an interdependent international society—seem unambiguously to represent a throwback to the past. Link to original article is here http://the-diplomat.com/2011/02/14/living-in-a-despot%e2%80%99s-walled-garden/2/ [post_title] => Living in a Despot’s Walled Garden [post_excerpt] => ‘Egypt Leaves the Internet.’ The statement from Internet monitoring firm Renesys was far from the most dramatic headline to emerge from the just-ended standoff between ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and demonstrators demanding an end to his 30-year rule. Indeed, when considering the Mubarak government’s systematic repression of its people—protesters attacked by plain-clothes thugs, detainees reportedly tortured, journalists harassed and arrested—an Internet blackout seems almost routine. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => living-in-a-despots-walled-garden [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/living-in-a-despots-walled-garden/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [28] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 806 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-02-11 15:30:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-02-11 15:30:30 [post_content] => FPC Senior Research Associate Andrew Monaghan gives his take on the historical and political challenges to be overcome by both the UK and Russia in order to improve their relationship. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: UK-Russia Relations- a Bad Case of Mutual Misunderstanding (s) [post_excerpt] => FPC Senior Research Associate Andrew Monaghan gives his take on the historical and political challenges to be overcome by both the UK and Russia in order to improve their relationship. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-uk-russia-relations-a-bad-case-of-mutual-misunderstanding-s [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-uk-russia-relations-a-bad-case-of-mutual-misunderstanding-s/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [29] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 602 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-02-03 16:53:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-02-03 16:53:36 [post_content] => For others, the future looks bright. The word "revolution" evokes strong feelings of excitement and exhilaration. The long-awaited era of democracy, human rights, and socio-economic flourishing is seemingly right around the corner. Egypt will be able to accommodate both of its conservatives and liberals in an economic progress-driven, bold and independent government. The archetype, of which the future of Egypt is likened to by the optimists, is Turkey. Yet, neither Turkey nor Iran is where Egypt's today and tomorrow lies. The dynamics of the 1979 revolution in Iran and the socio-political and religious structures of the country differ dramatically from Egypt. With no uniting figure like Khomeini, who can appeal to a broad range of people and who can offer a new coherent and radical vision to 'save' the country, the Egyptian unrest does not have a specific path to follow. Unlike the strong hierarchical nature of Shi-ite faith, the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood is divided within itself and has no clear or coherent vision for the country, save for discourses on morality and religiosity accompanied by some rhetoric of democracy. The vast majority of Egyptians do not want a backwards-looking Islamist country, but as Muslims, they want a government that is just and fair and upholds moral codes of Islam. While the influence and actual capacity of the Muslim Brotherhood is often exaggerated, due to our own fears of Islamism and terror, the complexity and polyphony of the Egyptian social and political landscape are often overlooked. The vast majority of Egyptians do not want a backwards-looking Islamist country, but as Muslims, they want a government that is just and fair and upholds moral codes of Islam. This is where the image of Turkey as a role model for Egypt seems to make sense. After all, the ruling AKP government in Turkey is just what Egyptians seem to want: a conservative Muslim government with a pragmatic appetite for financial gain and diplomatic independence. However, the factors which enabled AKP to formulate and achieve a new political horizon - such as the long historical process that has modified Islam and Islamists in Turkey, multiple political parties and free elections and strong external pressure for reform due to EU accession talks - are not readily available to Egypt. Egyptian politics might eventually look like Turkey one day, but in order for that to happen, the country must be willing to endure a chaotic and often paralyzing political stage. Ironically, that first stage will look a lot like Israel. The only current political narrative that can unite Egypt is nationalism, embodied by the Armed Forces and their positive stand amongst all segments of the Egyptian society. Thus, just like Israel, we have seen and will see more military figures seizing the moment and pursuing political careers. Just like Israel, Egypt will find a working, but imperfect balance in accommodating religious and secular populations. The social tensions between the Islamist, mildly Islamist, culturally conservative, socialist and liberal segments of the Egyptian society will continually be a point of contention, just like in Israel. And just like Israel, Egypt will find a working, but imperfect balance in accommodating religious and secular populations. Increasing political freedoms in Egypt will result in formation of political parties that will reflect all of the colours of Egypt from its 12million-strong Coptic Christians to its Islamists and liberals, all competing to represent their agendas and visions. Thus, with no party having clear majority, subsequent Egyptian governments will be weak coalitions trying to bring together completely opposing political visions, just like Israeli politics. But for now, the immediate outcome of this month's social unrest will not be a "revolution" - a word which is now empty of meaning thanks to its frequent metaphorical use - but an "evolution". And for all we know from our biological evolution, it will be a rather messy process before such an evolution reaches its excellence. [post_title] => Israel: The model for the future of Egypt [post_excerpt] => While President Mubarak and his faithful inner circle are pulling all of their usual tricks to maintain power, the international community is busy conceiving scenarios for the future of Egypt. For some, the future looks bleak. Doomsday projections include an immediate Islamist takeover of the country which would result in Islamisation of the seemingly secular country structures, end of neutral relations with Israel, cooperation with the "war on terror" and issues regarding Palestine, stability in economic relations, and access to key transportation routes. The archetype, which the process in Egypt is likened to in these scenarios, is Iran. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => israel-the-model-for-the-future-of-egypt [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/israel-the-model-for-the-future-of-egypt/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [30] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 601 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-02-03 09:13:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-02-03 09:13:30 [post_content] => One of the most hardline clerics, Ayatollah Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, known locally as 'Professor Crocodile' said: "As a result of the gifts of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, freedom-loving Islamic peoples (in] Tunisia, Egypt and nearby Arab countries are standing up to their oppressive governments." For far too long, the fear of an Islamic revolution is what allowed sclerotic governments like Egypt to maintain their authoritarian rule in the face of a cowed middle class and an acquiescent international community. The fear has always been – as happened in Algeria and Gaza – that elections would allow the triumph of an Islamist movement, which would kick away the ladder of democracy from underneath it. Rather than being tied to one particular ideology or religion, Egypt's protests have gathered momentum because they are broad based, with support from both the poor and middle classes. Without one clear leader, the movement has avoided becoming fractured or co-opted by the state. This diversity and flexibility has allowed the organisers credibly to call for a million people to come on to the streets. President Mubarak saw the danger early on, reminding himself of what happened in Iran in 2009. One of his earliest decisions was to close down the country's internet service providers to try to throttle the ability of the opposition to co-ordinate via social networks. Most managed to get the message out by speaking to families and friends abroad who could get online or by using a new "voice-to-tweet" service set up to circumvent the ban. The movement could not be controlled, with friends calling each other and using more old fashioned methods, such as gathering a core mass at Friday prayers before heading on to the streets. But that organising nexus doesn't mean that the movement to get rid of Mubarak is being run by the Muslim Brotherhood – they were late to join the protests, so you see few Islamist slogans at the demonstrations and without a charismatic leader of their own have backed Mohammed El Baradei for the time being. El Baradei has emerged as a consensus figure – a middle class intellectual, he is yet to prove his credibility with ordinary Egyptians and has only been seen at the street protests once, for a brief period. He is the only game in town so far, though – Mubarak's favoured successors – his son or the new Vice President and ex-spy chief are both badly compromised. Some fear that El Baradei could be a temporary liberal leader of the country – just as there was in the immediate aftermath of the Iranian revolution, but with a long-term takeover by the radicals. But while Arab despots have argued that greater freedoms would allow the jihadists to take over, it has been young liberal groups that have taken to the streets. And political parties such as Turkey's AKP prove that Islamism isn't necessarily a watch-word for extremism. In fact, it is because of the lack of open political space that more mature, secular opposition parties haven't emerged to compete with the Islamists. It means that the "orderly transition" will be much more difficult – the West has helped prop up a government that makes such political change trickier. Freedom is messy, to borrow from Donald Rumsfeld. While there have been many setbacks, the history of recent times shows a steady increase in the number of democracies across the world. Middle East countries face a double squeeze – a burgeoning youth which is more educated and informed than before and huge levels of income inequality. Guaranteeing jobs and economic security in the future will prove increasingly difficult without serious political reform. We shouldn't over-exaggerate the nature of the Egyptian regime of course. For all its failings, it is nowhere near as brutal as Iran is today or Iraq was under Saddam. Although that makes it more vulnerable to change from within. So far Mubarak's strategy has helped him cling on. He is likely to try to reach an accommodation with the protesters in the coming days and offer fresh elections. Perhaps he will be allowed the dignity of an orderly handover. But locals tell a joke about when Tunisia's government collapsed. Ben Ali took his plane to Cairo and went to see Mubarak. "Have you come to stay?" asked the Egyptian President. "No, I've come to pick you up." [post_title] => Egyptians caught between pull of the West and Islamists [post_excerpt] => International support for the protests in Egypt has come from some unlikely quarters. While you'd expect qualified endorsement from leaders in the west, one of the most repressive regimes in the world has been trying to claim the uprising as its own. The Iranian state media has said the protests were inspired by the 1979 revolution, as a protest against a western backed, secular despot. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => egyptians-caught-between-pull-of-the-west-and-islamists [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/egyptians-caught-between-pull-of-the-west-and-islamists/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [31] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 804 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-01-24 14:49:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-01-24 14:49:49 [post_content] => New FPC Research Associate Stephen Minas analyses the China’s evolving approach to climate change negotiations from Copenhagen to Cancun and beyond. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Crossing the river – China in the international climate change negotiations [post_excerpt] => New FPC Research Associate Stephen Minas analyses the China’s evolving approach to climate change negotiations from Copenhagen to Cancun and beyond. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-crossing-the-river-china-in-the-international-climate-change-negotiations [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-crossing-the-river-china-in-the-international-climate-change-negotiations/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [32] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 802 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-01-10 12:28:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-01-10 12:28:00 [post_content] => For the third paper in our Exploring Turkishness: Rights, Identity and the EU essay series, the Foreign Policy Centre is delighted to publish a new paper by leading Turkish academic and human rights campaigner, Professor Baskin Oran of Ankara University. In his new paper The Issue of “Turkish” and “Türkiyeli” he sets out his clear arguments for the creation of a new and inclusive identity that could cover all citizens of Turkey. (Translation provided by Deniz Ugur) [post_title] => Exploring Turkishness: The Issue of “Turkish” and “Türkiyeli” [post_excerpt] => For the third paper in our Exploring Turkishness: Rights, Identity and the EU essay series, the Foreign Policy Centre is delighted to publish a new paper by leading Turkish academic and human rights campaigner, Professor Baskin Oran of Ankara University. In his new paper The Issue of “Turkish” and “Türkiyeli” he sets out his clear arguments for the creation of a new and inclusive identity that could cover all citizens of Turkey. (Translation provided by Deniz Ugur) [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => exploring-turkishness-the-issue-of-turkish-and-turkiyeli [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/exploring-turkishness-the-issue-of-turkish-and-turkiyeli/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [33] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 798 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2010-12-10 16:51:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-12-10 16:51:44 [post_content] => In the second paper as part of our Exploring Turkishness: Rights, Identity and the EU Essay Series Ziya Miral examines the state’s approach to regulating religion and its role in defining Turkish identity. He draws attention to the problems this causes for Turkey’s minority communities, with a particular focus on its non-Muslim minorities, and argues for an equal conception of citizenship that respects ethnic and religious diversity. [post_title] => Exploring Turkishness: Laicite, Religion and Socio-Political Dissociative Personality Disorder in Turkey [post_excerpt] => In the second paper as part of our Exploring Turkishness: Rights, Identity and the EU Essay Series Ziya Miral examines the state’s approach to regulating religion and its role in defining Turkish identity. He draws attention to the problems this causes for Turkey’s minority communities, with a particular focus on its non-Muslim minorities, and argues for an equal conception of citizenship that respects ethnic and religious diversity. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => exploring-turkishness-laicite-religion-and-socio-political-dissociative-personality-disorder-in-turkey [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/exploring-turkishness-laicite-religion-and-socio-political-dissociative-personality-disorder-in-turkey/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [34] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 599 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2010-12-02 17:02:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-12-02 17:02:43 [post_content] => The Georgian President has heralded the constitutional changes, backed by a vote of 112-25 in Parliament on October 15, as “fully - and I emphasise on 'fully' - in line with the European tradition” of parliamentary democracy . However, his critics have accused him of seeking to maintain his influence for years to come, by taking up the strengthened premiership after his final presidential term expires in 2012. In a neat piece of political irony, this would be exactly the path trodden by Vladimir Putin, his Russian archrival. Undoing his own work The new constitution removes a raft of powers and influence from Georgia’s President and hands them to the Prime Minister and (to a lesser extent) Parliament. Much of this is simply President Saakashvili undoing his own work. After the peaceful Rose Revolution swept him to power in late 2003, he amended the country’s 1995 constitution to centralise power in the presidency. His argument was that Georgia’s turbulence and instability made it vital to have a strong leader, an argument which President Saakashvili reiterated in September when he said that it would have been “a disaster” to have the new system, with multiple centres of power and a weakened presidency, immediately after the revolution . Indeed the continued threats facing Georgia (read: Russia) have apparently led President Saakashvili to resist attempts to render the presidency impotent. A country, he said, which faced so many challenges needed a strong head of state . The instinct behind that argument is one of his critics’ main justifications for their claims of ‘creeping autocracy’ in Georgia. In any case, the alterations will not affect his current powers. They will be phased in slowly and only take full effect when the new President comes into office in January 2013. The biggest changes involve the shifting of power from the President to the Prime Minister. The government – headed by a newly powerful premier, with the power to appoint and dismiss key ministers – becomes more accountable to Parliament. The President will be unable to dismiss the government and will have greatly weakened powers over day-to-day policy . The President will also hand his power of appointing governors over to the prime minister. Sidelining Parliament? President Saakashvili and his ruling United National Movement (UNM) claim that the new constitution is increasing the distribution of power between different power centres, allowing for better checks and balances. However, critics argue that the changes have simply transferred political control from the presidency to the premiership (the prime minister can now, for instance, countersign presidential decrees). Either way, they allege, Parliament has been sidelined. Their arguments have some weight. Parliament now has only one hearing for draft laws which have been used to justify a confidence vote, as opposed to three; it will lose its power to confirm presidential choices for ambassadors; more concerning is the removal of Parliament’s ability to directly monitor state spending and demand its suspension in the event of violations. Replacing the newly bolstered Prime Minister and Cabinet will also become extremely challenging. A vote of no-confidence involves a long, complex procedure requiring a high level of support. Although 40% of MPs need to agree on a confidence vote and a new candidate for the premiership, 60% are needed to overcome a presidential veto of a new candidate. The whole process can take up to fifty days – a long time in politics to retain the necessary votes. The increase in the powers of the prime minister is dramatic, and has raised serious speculation that President Saakashvili will simply take up the post in 2013, allowing him to maintain his domination of Georgian politics for years to come. He has never explicitly denied plans to run for the premiership after his presidency. The Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s constitutional-law body, has noted these concerns. In its final opinions on the new amendments, it waspishly referred to allegations that the increase in the prime minister’s power “is motivated by reasons of personal power and not by a genuine desire for improving the machinery of government, as should be the case” . Critics decry timing, complexity The attitude of the government has also attracted heavy criticism, particularly its somewhat dismissive approach towards the Venice Commission. The Commission has been closely involved in the drafting of the new constitution, on the invitation of the Georgian government. It expected that the Saakashvili administration would wait for its final recommendations before voting the constitution into law, but Parliament convened on the very same day (October 15) that the Venice Commission’s final suggestions were being discussed. A last-minute copy was sent through to Tbilisi, by which time the government was already pressing ahead. Other detractors have pointed to the timing of the new constitution. The debates on it took place in August, the country’s holiday month, and there were no publicly televised discussions of the issue. The Georgian Young Lawyers Association has accused the government of ignoring suggestions made by civil society and NGOs . These were more or less the only alternative voices, since the UNM dominates Parliament and most opposition factions have, in any case, boycotted proceedings. Opposition groups do bear some responsibility for the one-sided deliberations. Failing to provide a dissenting voice, or to fire up their supporters against the amendments, gave the UNM free rein over the process. Some analysts have ascribed the lack of energetic opposition to “a vast reserve of popular political apathy” which has taken hold since the fadeout of long-running street protests in July 2009. It is difficult to deny that there is a sense of exhaustion in Georgian politics. Attempts to unseat President Saakashvili after the disastrous war with Russia in August 2008 have failed, largely because the opposition movement had no credible, unifying figure it could coalesce around. Accusations of being too close to Moscow (with undertones of being a Kremlin agent) have stuck to some of the most prominent, such as ex-Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze . A wolf in sheep’s clothing? Whether the muted reaction to the constitution is a good thing or a bad thing depends on one’s attitude towards President Saakashvili. For those who still support him, the political sluggishness in Tbilisi reflects the UNM’s popular support and the genuine desire of ‘Misha’ to transform Georgia into a European-style democracy. If he stood for the premiership in 2012 this would enable the continuation of his policies, and would - in any case - be a perfectly democratic manoeuvre. For his critics, the new constitution is a further warning that President Saakashvili is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, an autocrat who plays at being a democrat to please his Western backers. The man who has crushed street protests with rubber bullets, rashly invaded South Ossetia and silenced Georgia’s independent media is now seeking to prolong his regime through underhand manipulation of the constitution. This view is too alarmist. It ignores Russia’s complicity in the build-up to the August war, as well as the genuine plurality, prosperity, and freedom which now exists in Georgia as a result of the Saakashvili government’s drive against corruption. In late October the international watchdog Transparency International announced that Georgia ranked 68th in the world on its Corruption Perceptions Index, just below EU member Italy and above heavyweights such as Brazil. Russia, by contrast, came in 154th place . The lack of a meaningful political alternative owes more to squabbling and weak leadership by the political opposition than to political intimidation on the part of the UNM. Nonetheless, Georgia’s democratic deficit is real. President Saakashvili’s bombastic nature and impatience with political opponents are unaffordable in a country with such a young democracy. And political leaders could easily use the ongoing threats facing the country to completely erode its fragile plurality. Russia has completely annexed South Ossetia and Abkhazia; Russian military forces remain just a few hours from Tbilisi. The danger is that Mr Saakashvili will use these threats to consolidate his own rule, arguing that a strong leader – whether sitting in the Presidential Palace or the Prime Minister’s office - is essential to lead the country through its crisis. The platitudes about balancing powers under the new constitution would be rendered meaningless. President Saakashvili should realise that he will gain more support from the West, and thus a better shield against further Russian threats, by buttressing his democratic achievements, not by undermining them in pursuit of personal power. Changing the constitution was legal and does indeed address the country’s political imbalances. But standing for Prime Minister in 2012 would make a mockery of his claims to be a force for democratisation in Georgia. When his term as President expires, he should retire with good grace. [post_title] => The New Georgian Constitution: Reading Saakashvili [post_excerpt] => It says much for Mikheil Saakashvili’s reputation for unpredictability that a new constitution which deprives him of much of his power is being seen as a machination to hold on to that power. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-new-georgian-constitution-reading-saakashvili [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-new-georgian-constitution-reading-saakashvili/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [35] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 598 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2010-10-13 09:00:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-10-13 09:00:53 [post_content] => The last decade or so has been a golden period for international development, including efforts by the UK. Indeed, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recently judged the Department for International Development under Labour's stewardship as having gained "national and international recognition for its professionalism and ability to deliver its aid programme effectively". But in opposition, it now falls again to the centre-left to develop ideas for delivering global justice in a political and policy context changed, fundamentally, in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008. That global economic crisis accelerated and further highlighted changes and challenges that politicians and policy makers are still struggling with. We need to do more than just have the right arguments about moral duty and common interest to explain to the public why we should continue funding overseas aid at a time when we are being asked to cut budgets at home. We now face not only a question of balance sheets, but a question of shifting global balance. And in this changing context, international development must be driven by more than a quest for value for money. It must also be driven by values. Market failures The "charitable" approach of the right to international development appears becalmed alongside narrow concepts of national security and commercial interest, a continuing hostility to the role of the state, and a superficially empowering but ultimately laissez-faire approach to the role of civil society. The whole world – rich and poor alike – is still living through the consequences of the food, fuel and financial crises: collectively, the greatest market failure of the last 60 years. And we are already being faced with the growing impacts of climate change, the greatest market failure in human history. A further effect of the financial and economic crisis has been to highlight and accelerate the rise of Asia. Countries like China, India and Vietnam have grown enormously in recent years. The G20 has arisen to take on new responsibility in this changed global economic and political context. China in particular has undergone a remarkable transformation from poverty to significant global donor. India has experienced remarkable growth. Many African countries have shown growth despite the global recession. Many countries are rapidly graduating from low income to middle income status. Yet this "rise of the rest" masks a complex and conflicted world – where billions remain in poverty and are denied their basic rights. Twenty years ago, more than 90% of the world's poorest people lived in low-income countries. But as Andy Sumner of the Institute of Development Studies has revealed in ground-breaking research this month, a staggering three quarters of the world's poorest people now live in so-called middle income countries like India and Brazil – what he calls a "new bottom billion". At the same time, others, like Paul Collier, have emphasised the importance of focusing on the "bottom billion" who find themselves in the bottom fifty or so states affected by fragility and conflict. What some have called a "new geography of poverty" poses fundamental questions for the future of international aid and development. These new times demand not old orthodoxies, but new responses, grounded in a fundamental belief in justice and universal human rights. It is easy for politicians to say that, since India has a space programme, we should have no concern for the millions of Indians still living in abject poverty, or indeed those in any emerging middle income country. The reality is, of course, far more complex. Inequality remains a crucial factor in this new world. Despite the reduction in poverty associated with growth in countries like China and India, and despite the improvements to child welfare around the world, inequality remains pervasive on a global scale. As Kevin Watkins pointed out in a recent article for the Guardian, the impacts of inequality can be stark: Inequality remains the most potent destroyer of opportunities for education. In Nigeria, the average male from a wealthy, urban home can expect on average about 10 years of education. Meanwhile, poor girls in rural northern Nigeria average less than six months in school. It is not only a matter of social justice that should concern us about high levels of inequality, but also the impacts in terms of sustainability, security and stability - both for those people directly affected, and globally. So we need to ground new approaches to the challenges posed by state fragility, the new geography of poverty, and extreme inequality in clear, progressive principles. A responsibility to the poor In the same way that the responsibility to protect has driven us to think about how the world responds to genocide and crimes against humanity, beyond narrow notions of state sovereignty, I believe we must now develop a responsibility to the poor to guide our actions in international development, lest many of the poorest become ignored behind national borders and statistical categories. What is our responsibility to one girl who lives in abject poverty in India, versus that of another who lives just a few miles away on the Bangladeshi side of the border? A responsibility to the poor must also go further. It must drive us to higher standards across all our broader actions. Rich countries are often part of the problem. Unfair international rules of trade, like agricultural subsidies and restrictive intellectual property rules; irresponsible arms exports; weak controls over international companies which engage in bribery overseas; not clamping down on stolen assets from developing countries, which are then laundered through western financial institutions and tax havens; and climate change driving emissions that hit the poorest the hardest - all should be treated with the same seriousness of purpose as we have shown in our fight to protect the aid budget and its poverty focus. We must continue doing what works well in the poorest countries. Well applied, targeted and effective aid can and should be used to achieve progress on challenges such as health, education, water and other basic services. But we also need new approaches when it comes to the over 60% of the poor now living in middle income countries, alongside the traditional aid, debt relief and other approaches Labour successfully used in government to deliver results. A global "big society" is not enough to deliver – in the same way that it is not sufficient here in Britain. We cannot simply take a laissez-faire approach to citizen empowerment, urging everyone to do their bit. We should make no apology for saying that where market failures exist, the state must step in alongside the citizen. And when those market failures are global – as in the case of climate change, or extreme poverty and inequality – then global action must be taken. At the same time, we must recognise that action by governments alone is insufficient. Our model must be one of true partnership between the state, citizens and other actors, including the private sector. We must fight against any suggestion that Britain's role in international development should slip back into well-meaning but colonial-style charity for poor people, with policies driven by public populism, political expediency and narrow national interests. The great Archbishop Desmond Tutu, retiring this week at the age of 79, once exhorted us, in a plea for humanity and the recognition of both moral and physical interdependence: My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together. In this more unequal, hotter, unstable and interdependent world we cannot now settle for charity. We must recognise our responsibility to the poor and continue the long march to justice. Link to original article http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/oct/08/douglas-alexander-responsibility-poor-justice [post_title] => Responsibility to the poor: a matter of justice, not charity [post_excerpt] => Clear, progressive principles must underpin the development community's handling of state fragility, poverty and inequality Human history does not always advance at a steady and inevitable pace. Some years, whether 1789 or 2001, are recognised in retrospect as times when fundamental shifts in established orders were exposed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => responsibility-to-the-poor-a-matter-of-justice-not-charity [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/responsibility-to-the-poor-a-matter-of-justice-not-charity/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [36] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 794 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2010-10-08 17:19:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-10-08 17:19:03 [post_content] => The Foreign Policy Centre is delighted to publish the first in a new series of short papers as part of a new project, Exploring Turkishness: Rights, Identity and the EU. In this first paper Senior Research Associate Zeynep Dereli makes the case for a broader, more inclusive approach to the idea of citizenship of Turkey, addressing some of the challenges facing Turkish women and minority groups. [post_title] => Exploring Turkishness: Women and Minorities [post_excerpt] => The Foreign Policy Centre is delighted to publish the first in a new series of short papers as part of a new project, Exploring Turkishness: Rights, Identity and the EU. In this first paper Senior Research Associate Zeynep Dereli makes the case for a broader, more inclusive approach to the idea of citizenship of Turkey, addressing some of the challenges facing Turkish women and minority groups. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => exploring-turkishness-women-and-minorities [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/exploring-turkishness-women-and-minorities/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [37] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 792 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2010-10-01 15:39:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-10-01 15:39:00 [post_content] => Marc Herzog’s new briefing gives a fascinating insight into the statistics behind Turkey’s recent constitutional referendum and examines what the result means for Turkey’s future. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Analysing Turkey’s 2010 constitutional referendum [post_excerpt] => Marc Herzog’s new briefing gives a fascinating insight into the statistics behind Turkey’s recent constitutional referendum and examines what the result means for Turkey’s future. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-analysing-turkeys-2010-constitutional-referendum [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-analysing-turkeys-2010-constitutional-referendum/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [38] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 790 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2010-08-24 11:41:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-08-24 11:41:02 [post_content] => This FPC Briefing by Hema Kotecha explores some of the major challenges facing the Otunbaeva-led interim government and the international community in Kyrgyzstan after the April uprising and June's ethnic violence. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: The costs of believing you are not in the Game- Kyrgyzstan [post_excerpt] => This FPC Briefing by Hema Kotecha explores some of the major challenges facing the Otunbaeva-led interim government and the international community in Kyrgyzstan after the April uprising and June's ethnic violence. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-the-costs-of-believing-you-are-not-in-the-game-kyrgyzstan [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-the-costs-of-believing-you-are-not-in-the-game-kyrgyzstan/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [39] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 597 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2010-08-02 15:23:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-08-02 15:23:20 [post_content] => The death of the 300th British soldier in Afghanistan is, as David Cameron pointed out, no more or less tragic than the 299 who have died before him since 2001. It does, however, come at an interesting domestic political juncture for Britain’s new government. It is a shame that Cameron did not take the opportunity to lay out a realistic plan for our role in Afghanistan. He restricted himself to defence-based justifications, talking about ‘building Afghan capacity’ to protect their country, and avoided the political needs of the West’s war in Afghanistan. Instead of repeating to the British public patronising platitudes about ‘why we are there’, and pursuing a shallow military aim, the new government could formulate a strategy that it can actually achieve – and give the public some intellectual credit – by considering the growing movement in favour of talking to the Taleban. The death of Richard Hollington - a Royal Marine who died in a London hospital on 20th June from injuries sustained in an explosion a week earlier in the Afghan town of Sangin - came on the first day of Armed Forces Week, an occasion invented by the Labour government in 2008 as a way to increase respect for the military. It would thus have been a good chance for Cameron to begin to explain to the public what his government will do with our investment of almost 10,000 troops and (so far) £1 billion in Afghanistan. Sadly, the prime minister’s statements did not rise to the challenge. Sticking to the previous government’s simplistic message of ‘helping the Afghans until they are capable of controlling their own country’ (as if we are capable of controlling their country, and as if teh Taleban themselves are not Afghans), Cameron’s words showed neither a well thought out policy nor a real commitment to bringing the public behind the issue. Something new is needed to win both in Afghanistan and at home. Such platitudes may be politically easy for a fragile and unproven coalition government, at least in the short term. But they offer the public nothing new to justify the continuing deaths of soldiers and Afghan civilians. Cameron did not point out that the estimated 596 civilians killed by coalition forces in 2009 alone are also no more or less tragic than the death of a British soldier. A policy of solely assisting the Afghans to defeat the Taleban, and failing to discuss in public the vital political aspects of the Western coalition’s task if it wants to leave Afghanistan, is not the exit strategy that Cameron should be planning. Other players are trying something else, and following them might be a more fruitful course of action for the British government. They are conducting talks with the Afghan Taleban. This is a widespread effort that has been gathering pace in the last year or so. Talks and talks about talks, by various parties, are being more and more frequently reported. Now is the time for the new British government to fully participate in this political effort. In November 2009, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that the US had begun talks with top Taleban leaders, through the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Saudi mediators. These followed previous Saudi-brokered talks in February. By January 2010, UN envoy Kai Eide was reportedly in on the game. Reports of UN-Taleban talks in Dubai were verified by so many sources inside and outside the UN, that a Taleban statement in March denying the meetings was probably simply a sign of internal splits among the militants. Afghan president Hamid Karzai has arguably led the effort recently, in January 2010 inviting Taleban leaders to his planned loya jirga (peace conference), and conducting meetings in the Maldives since February. Although the Taleban did not attend the jirga, Karzai managed to secure the conference’s backing for a package of high level talks, plus an amnesty and job incentives for Taleban fighters. This is better than nothing and might open the way for greater worldwide public acceptance by turning the Taleban into legitimate enemies to be bargained with rather than illegitimate terrorist monsters. This is certainly Karzai’s intention; and his enthusiasm for negotiations rather than military pressure should be a wake-up call to western players that they need to play too or lose some serious influence. In March 2010, furious at the seizure in Pakistan of an Afghan Taleban leader with whom he had been negotiating, Karzai accused the US of interfering in Afghan affairs, saying that the Taleban would become a legitimate resistance movement if the meddling didn’t stop. Pursuing a less purely punitive approach to the Taleban would help maintain precarious relations between the US and the president. But such an approach is wise for other reasons too. The Taleban are, some argue, getting stronger and expanding their control to more areas of the country. The Afghan capital Kabul, previously one of the few areas firmly under the government’s control, has been the target of some recent attacks. President Karzai’s credibility is low, especially in light of an ongoing boycott by his parliament, which has been refusing to debate or pass legislation since 22 May in protest at the executive’s failure to clarify unresolved points of government structure. In addition, the Afghan army lacks the capacity to pursue a military solution in the long term – something the former British government acknowledged at a NATO conference this January when it called for an almost doubling in size of the army by October 2011. There has been no report of any progress on this expansion; far more foreign troops will be needed for some time yet, as Barack Obama acknowledged by sending in 30,000 extra US soldiers last December. For these reasons, among those espousing talks and even peace deals with the Taleban in recent months has been the US’s former top general in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal. His ouster last month may mean a setback. But his successor David Petraeus, although holding a reputation as the ‘troop surge guy’ from his success with a huge increase in American troops in Iraq, is also talking about negotiations as an element of a military-diplomatic strategy in Afghanistan. The new British government’s policy on Afghanistan needs to be more realistic and clearer. It should not ignore the growing international momentum towards a political solution to the west’s presence in Afghanistan. This must be carefully and astutely done - with some mix of military and political pressure which it is not my purpose to discuss here. But this will be the best solution in the long term: a military solution alone does not give us anything to work with after we judge we have won. For Afghanistan and for his own standing, perhaps it is time for Cameron to give the British public a new story about Afghanistan. He could make a strong break with the previous government by being more honest with us. He could tell us it’s complicated, that we cannot simply train Afghan forces and fight on their behalf in an apolitical way. He could tell us talking is one element in an integrated military and political strategy. This might prevent 300 more British deaths, and maybe also some Afghan ones. [post_title] => The 300th British soldier and the UK's Afghan strategy [post_excerpt] => The death of the 300th British soldier in Afghanistan is, as David Cameron pointed out, no more or less tragic than the 299 who have died before him since 2001. It does, however, come at an interesting domestic political juncture for Britain’s new government. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-300th-british-soldier-and-the-uks-afghan-strategy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-300th-british-soldier-and-the-uks-afghan-strategy/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
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22/06/11

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