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Issue I

Summer 2010


A Media Eclipse:

Israel-Palestine and the World’s Forgotten Conflicts

Interviews with Sir Howard Davies and Lord Nicholas Stern

image credit: flickr “tsweden”

Latin American socialism in the 21st Century Washington’s covert campaign against Islamist militant movements in Pakistan

The London Globalist is a member of



Network of International Affairs Magazines 5 LANGUAGES 5 CONTINENTS


Yale University • University of Toronto • University of Sydney • Hebrew University • Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris • London School of Economics • Peking University • University of Cape Town • Bogaziçi University • University of South Australia

The London Globalist: Issue I Summer 2010

Contents 5




12 16 20 22 23 24 28

A Media Eclipse: Israel-Palestine and the World’s Forgotten Conflicts

Cry Havoc! And Let Slip the Drones of War... The Great Game Redux Interview with Lord Nicholas Stern The Right Kind of Financial Education New Labour and the Death of the Ideas Credit Crunched - Governing Global Finance 21st Century Socialism


32 33

The Fight of Her Life

34 38

The EU and India: Bigger than the sum of their parts?

The Human Cost of War: How Canada is Coping with its Soldiers’ Mental Health Issues

Enter Asia, Exit the West?



The Man Booker Prize


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Dear Globalist Readers The London Globalist is the result of a journey started in 2000 at Yale University. Wishing to deliver highquality student journalism to inspire and provoke debate among their peers, The Yale Globalist soon developed into more than just an independent magazine and today consists of 10 chapters worldwide. We are proud to include LSE within the Global21 and hope to enable our dynamic and engaged student body to contribute in global discussion. In many ways, this magazine is a response to a demand; voiced not only by LSE students wishing greater participation and forum for debate, but also by the challenges of our times. As The London Globalist is launched and The Globalist movement celebrates its 10-year anniversary, the world can simultaneously look back on the first decade of the 21st century. Marked by a rising China, Climate Change, the war on terror and the global financial crisis, the London Globalist dedicates its first issue to ‘The 21st century: A decade Retrospect”.

domains of high-politics, Joseph Tam disaffirms myths concerning the rise of China and a declining West. Balance of power continues to feature in Brijesh Khemlani’s commentary of the ‘Great Game’ between bordering nations over Afghanistan. The role of ideology in the past decade is covered in Joe Rowley’s examination of the socialist phenomenon in Latin-America and Olly Wiseman’s obituary for ‘New Labour’ in British politics. Hero Austin and Kimia Pezeshki interview LSE Professor Nicholas Stern, a major contributor to the definitive escalation of Climate Change on the international agenda. The feature article, by Noah Bernstein, addresses the controversial question of perceived disproportionate attention devoted by the media to the IsraelPalestine Conflict. Distancing himself from the exhausted pro-Palestine versus pro-Israel debate, the focus is instead on implications for other contemporary but ‘forgotten’ conflicts such as the one raging in the North-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. With few of the challenges from the last decade resolved, the 21st century might not have yet lived up to promises of a better future envisioned by many, and although history remains at best an imperfect tool for predicting the future- the demand for strong voices representing our generation is heightened.

This issue looks at some of the events that have marked the past decade and will continue to shape our future. Simon Black explores the implications of the recent crisis for global financial Enjoy, governance in a ‘credit crunched’ world. Reporting on the implications of Elisa Vieira and Henrik Vaaler changing economic forces on classical (Editor’s-in-Chief, The London Globalist)


EDITORIAL STAFF: Editors in Chief: Elisa de Denaro Vieira Henrik Vaaler Managing Editors: Marlies Dachler Ben Sarhangian Catherine Tsalikis Associate Editors: Simon Black Wilson Chew Leonor Gonzalez Vivien Lu Juha Saarinen Noah Schwartz Francesca Washtell

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elcome to the inaugural issue of The London Globalist, an LSE magazine devoted international affairs. Written and compiled by your fellow students, the magazine will publish tri-annually featuring LSE’s best authors as well as international contributors.



A Media Eclipse:

Israel-Palestine and the World’s Forgotten Conflicts Global coverage of world conflicts pales into insignificance when compared with reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


A Media Eclipse: Israel-Palestine and the World’s Forgotten Conflicts

During the same period the Israeli government and Hamas officials entered the final stages of failing cease-fire talks. War was on the horizon, but had not yet begun. An errant Hamas rocket killed two Gazan sisters; otherwise there were no cross-border casualties.


According to AlertNet’s World Press Tracker, the two-day Israeli-Palestinian stand-off was reported in the global media 40 times. There were no reports on the LRA massacre in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Over the next three weeks Israel’s incursion into Gaza left 926 Palestinians and 3 Israeli civilians dead. The global media reported these events 2896 times. In the same period, Joseph Kony’s LRA killed 865 civilians and abducted 160 children. The media reported these events a total of 20 times.

image credit: flickr “daveblume”

n a 48-hour period beginning on Christmas Eve 2008 the Christian fundamentalist Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) killed, dismembered and burned at least 200 Congolese civilians. Soldiers raped women and girls, twisted the heads off babies, and cut the lips and ears off those they did not kill. They hacked the rest to death using machetes or axes. Child soldiers helped abduct other children.

fortable questions: why were the deaths of Congolese civilians at the hands of the LRA deemed less newsworthy than, in the first instance, crumbling cease-fire talks and, later, the deaths of Palestinian civilians? More generally, why is the West so consumed by the IPC and what are the consequences The Western media’s fascination with the Israeli-Palestinian of underreporting other conflicts? Finally, can anything conflict (IPC) has long be done to redress overshadowed death “Countless articles argue media bias in favour of Israel the media balance so and oppression in other or the Palestinians, yet few address the bias towards the that the rights of all parts of the world. Gilad humans – regardless of conflict itself.” Shalit and the Qassam colour, ethnicity, and rocket are known to many; the death of 5.9 million in the geography – are given equal weight? eight-nation Second Congo War is not. Recent Israeli and Palestinian elections were covered worldwide in real-time, The Explanation while images of genocide in Rwanda and Sudan did not surface until it was too late. Countless articles argue media At first glance, the discrepancy in coverage appears linked to bias in favour of Israel or the Palestinians, yet few address racism: how else to explain the ‘sins of omission’ in Rwanda the bias towards the conflict itself. and Sudan? Or the laissez-faire attitude towards Sierra Leone, Liberia, DRC, and, most recently, the ignored civilian The disproportionate media coverage raises several uncom- massacres in Guinea and Nigeria? It is unlikely that the


Still, arguments are made that human rights in the IPC are

FEATURE ARTICLE A Media Eclipse: Israel-Palestine and the World’s Forgotten Conflicts

The Justifications

image credit: flickr “daveblume”

international community would remain silent, or only send distinct from others and need to be prioritized. However, an impotent peacekeeping force, if hundreds of thousands each attempted justification reveals contradictions when (or even hundreds) of Palestinians and Israelis were being compared to past and ongoing conflicts. killed. However, the indifference is not limited to subSaharan Africa: conflicts in Southeast Asia (Philippines, 1. Special Responsibility Thailand), Latin America (Colombia), the Caucasus (Georgia, One justification for the media’s fixation is that the world, Nagorno-Karabakh), the Balkans (Bosnia), and even North and the West in particular, bear a unique responsibility for America (Mexico) have been equally ignored. Consequently, the IPC as they abetted the creation of a state for a displaced the charge of racism may people by displacing be misplaced. another. However, if a sense “…while the IPC may be of greater global of post-partition or postinterest than the LRA’s activities, the rights of the Instead, a more plausible colonial responsibility is 865 civilians killed in the DRC are as important as explanation is simple selfthe justification then what the 929 civilians killed in the Gaza conflict.” interest: the geopolitical, of Pakistan and India? ideological, and religious Kashmir, another tragic byimplications of the IPC threaten global harmony. A sharp product of colonial mapmaking, has largely flown under the escalation in violence in the IPC could spark a regional if Western media radar despite the deaths of 67 000 civilians not global conflict. In contrast, a war between Eritrea and since a rebellion broke out in the Himalayan region in Ethiopia, regardless of casualties, does not carry the same 1989. The conflict is over a territory twenty times the size threat to international stability. When Jews, Christians, of Israel and the Palestinian territories, involves twice as Muslims, and Baha’i jostle for position in the Holy Land many people, and has resulted in ten times as many deaths. the religious sensitivities of half the world’s population There are other post-partition losers – Nigeria, Ethiopia are at stake. Conversely, internecine fighting between the and Western Sahara, for example – who do not attract the Kikuyu and Luo of Kenya, again regardless of casualties, is same media spotlight as the IPC despite heavy civilian seen as a tribal matter of little consequence to the outside casualties and rampant oppression. If the West feels a moral world. Finally, and perhaps most important, the IPC is obligation towards Palestinians and Israelis, then a similar a proxy for a much larger ideological clash between the obligation should be felt towards the hundreds of millions of West and the Muslim world. Israel is either perceived as a others whose lives were also permanently disrupted due to symbol of Western imperialist power conducive to Western historical Western meddling. regional interests – particularly those of the much-reviled United States – or as a beacon of democracy amongst a sea 2. Democratic Accountability of oppression. The Palestinians are seen to either represent A second justification for the media’s dogged attention is the menace of the Arab and Muslim world or as a David that Israel as a democracy is accountable to higher standards righteously fighting the world’s Goliaths. The framing of the of behaviour – most importantly on human rights. Their conflict in these ways permits the West to justify its actions actions deserve magnification, hence the global media in the Arab and Muslim world and allows Middle Eastern attention. However, if membership in the club of democracies leaders to deflect attention away from their own repressive demands greater accountability through the free press autocratic regimes. The Israelis and Palestinians are pawns then Sri Lanka – a democracy of 20 million – should have in a greater ideological game, one whose every move is featured as heavily in the media during and especially after crucial to the national self-interest of every Western, Arab its war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Muslim country alike. in early 2009. AlertNet’s World Press Tracker points in a different direction. The daily average of global headlines for It is clear then that the IPC is important and that the global the two conflicts during hostilities is severely unbalanced: media have a vested interest, perhaps even an obligation, to closely monitor the ongoing turmoil. However, while the conflict itself may be of prime (self-)interest, the human rights violations that occur in the IPC are of no greater comparative importance than those that occur elsewhere. Yet the global media does not make this crucial distinction and instead conflates the two. For example, while the IPC may be of greater global interest than the LRA’s activities, the rights of the 865 civilians killed in the DRC are as important as the 929 civilians killed in the Gaza conflict. Consequently, the explanation behind disproportionate media coverage is in no way a reasonable justification.


FEATURE ARTICLE A Media Eclipse: Israel-Palestine and the World’s Forgotten Conflicts


3. Extreme Oppression and Suffering A third justification is that the oppression suffered by the Palestinians warrants disproportionate media attention. Indeed, suffering incurred by Palestinians should be exposed so as to foster change. However, their cause should not overshadow the plight of the other 35 million refugees and 24.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide. Millions of Central African refugees who live in constant fear of rebel and government attack are oppressed. Millions of The average number of daily headlines for the two-week period Burmese IDPs with little or no freedom, including the right following the end of hostilities is equally disproportionate: to leave their country, are oppressed. Yet their plight has been IPC, 75 per day; Sri Lanka/LTTE, 19 per day, the latter lost in the tailwinds of the IPC. conflict falling off the media map almost entirely. This is particularly disturbing as both the Sri Lankan government The IPC involves 4 million Palestinians and 7 million and the LTTE stand accused of war crimes. Israel and Israelis – a relatively small combined population compared Hamas’ alleged war crimes received intense media follow-up to the above-mentioned conflicts. Since 1980, total civilians and the UN-sponsored Goldstone inquiry. The UN and the deaths in the Sri Lankan conflict have been fifty times that international community condemned the LTTE – accused of the IPC; Kashmir has seen one hundred times more of using civilians as human shields – and the Sri Lankan civilians killed; and the conflict in the DRC has claimed five government – accused of executing unarmed Tamil prisoners thousand times more lives than the IPC. Of course, death of war and shelling hospitals and schools – but faced little tolls alone are not a barometer of oppression. However, follow-up scrutiny by the Western media. The UN has not other indicators can be used to contextualize human initiated a war crimes probe as of March 10, 2010. In this suffering. For example, the UNDP’s Human Development instance, democracy did not lead to greater accountability. Index, which measures “health, knowledge, and standard of living”, ranks the Occupied Palestinian Territories higher than every sub-Saharan African country, including South Africa. The index places the Palestinians in the ‘High Human Development’ category for adult literacy rates (93.8%), life expectancy at birth (73.3%), and malnourished children (3%). In all categories, the territories ranked higher than all South Asian and Arab countries, and even outpaced Brazil, Russia (adult literacy notwithstanding), India, and China. Even after Israel’s invasion of Gaza, World Health Organization representative Mahmoud Daher stated that “It [Gaza] is, of course, crowded and poor, but it is better off than nearly all of Africa as well as parts of Asia. There is no acute malnutrition, and infant mortality rates compare with those in Egypt and Jordan”. Average aggregate GDP per capita in the Occupied Palestinian Territories ($4 400 in the Gaza Strip, $2 800 in the West Bank) is greater than 80 other countries including Albania, Armenia, Morocco, Uruguay, Ukraine, Indonesia, and Viet Nam. In a recent Wall Street Journal article Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said of the Palestinians living in the West Bank: “[W] e have a good reality. The people are living a normal life.” These inconvenient truths are not intended to diminish the Palestinian right to freedom of movement and a homeland: the aim is simply to put the IPC into global perspective and to promote a more equitable coverage of global suffering. the IPC, on average, received 148 per day; Sri Lanka/LTTE, on average, 29 per day. The contrast is more disturbing when considering the civilian death toll: hostilities between January and May of 2009 left 20 000 Sri Lankan civilians dead. Both cases involved a government force attacking a terrorist group in areas dense with civilians. Yet the IPC featured in global media five times more often despite the death of twenty times more civilians in Sri Lanka.

4. Type of Conflict A final justification for disproportionate media attention is that the IPC is an ongoing national liberation movement (NLM) rather than a civil war. This line of reasoning raises two problems. First, there exist other ongoing wars of national liberation involving large-scale death and destruction that receive little or no media coverage. Second, coming full circle, the type of conflict cannot be conflated with human rights violations: individuals are equal under international image credit: flickr “Austcare-world Humanitarian Aid’s”


Other NLMs Tibet is a NLM that has claimed one million lives, many of them horrifically, since 1959. In pre-Olympic violence in March of 2008, Chinese police shot dead 140 protesting Tibetans. The events did make global headlines, but the coverage ended once the Olympics did – despite the continuation of human rights abuses. The conflict in Chechnya, classified as a NLM by several groups, has left 60 000 Chechen civilians dead since 1994. The Russians have massacred civilians and assassinated Chechen politicians, while the Chechens have launched suicide attacks and sown terror – violence similar to that of the IPC yet largely unreported.

Human Rights Law Differentiating - and prioritizing – a certain type of conflict over another ignores the fundamental concept of human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention: a civilian oppressed or killed in any part of the world under any illegal circumstances is a violation of their human rights. Every individual is entitled to the same protection under international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law regardless of the intensity or breadth of the conflict causing their deadly or oppressive circumstances. This includes the 150 000 Liberians killed in the civil war of ‘99 – ‘03, the 300 000 North Koreans starved or worked to death in gulags since 2005, and the 37 000 Kurds killed by Turkish forces since 1984. Yet there were no protests over Liberia, nor have any UN resolutions been passed on behalf of the North Koreans, and there have been no calls for divestment of Turkish assets. None recieved

The Consequences Ultimately, there is no justification for the media’s preferential coverage of human rights abuses in the IPC. The immediate consequences of this conflict bias are further polarisation of an already fragile divide and the export of its inflammatory politics to the rest of the world. An indirect but equally important consequence is that the media attention helps the IPC command a disproportionate chunk of global humanitarian aid, to the detriment of refugees and IDPs around the globe. Finally, while the IPC is at the forefront of the public consciousness, dozens of other conflicts involving hundreds of millions of people are almost entirely ignored. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) provides education, health care, social services and emergency aid to 400 000 Palestinians. There exists no other UN agency dedicated solely to refugees from a specific region or conflict. The rest of the 60 million refugees and IDPs around the globe rely on the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR). In 2000, UNRWA spent $72 per Palestinian while the UNHCR spent $53 on refugees from the rest of the world, an inexplicable shortfall of 25%. The UNRWA claims it is under funded and makes repeated funding appeals to its two main donors – the United States and the European union.


A Media Eclipse: Israel-Palestine and the World’s Forgotten Conflicts

image credit: flickr “Zoriah”

Western Sahara is a NLM where the Sahrawi people reject Morocco’s 1974 annexation of the former Spanish colony. A 2 700 km wall (the Berm, or Wall of Shame), constructed by Morocco in the 1980s, divides the country. It is manned by Moroccan armed forces, limiting the movement of the Sahrawi. The US, the EU, the AU, and the UN do not recognize Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara. AlertNet has a record of 3 international headlines for the conflict during the whole of 2009, all linked to Sahrawi human rights activist Aminatou Haidar’s monthlong hunger strike in a Spanish airport. The number of casualties in the conflict is ‘only’ in the low hundreds, but its similarities with the IPC – including accusations of human rights abuses on both sides – demonstrate that NLMs do not necessarily receive an equal place under the global media spotlight.

media coverage proportionate to that of the IPC despite vastly higher casualty numbers and thoroughly oppressive conditions. The message this conveys to these victims is clear: their human rights are secondary to the rights of others. Further, individual victims of human rights abuses who have no internal mechanism for recourse are more vulnerable than victims of formal conflicts such as the IPC. For example, women stoned to death for suspected adultery, men publicly executed for suspected homosexuality, albinos killed for body parts, lesbians ‘correctively raped’, or adults and children used as slaves - these isolated groups can all have their safety enhanced through increased international media attention. Yet advocacy on their behalf through the media (and even by human rights groups) is minimal when compared to the IPC, leaving them out of sight and, consequently, out of mind.


human rights law.


The tragedy of disproportionate aid is that it perpetuates the conflict – perhaps intentionally – providing little incentive for leaders to move beyond the status quo. Military aid to Israel has fostered belligerence, political rigidity, and a regional arms race. Israeli governments act with impunity knowing that the US is loath to withdraw aid. The UNRWA has propped up governments dedicated to violence, seen millions of dollars siphoned off by officials, and has employed known terrorists. Former UNRWA general-counsel James G. Lindsay stated in 2009 that the UNRWA “has taken very few steps to detect and eliminate terrorists from the ranks of its staff or its beneficiaries, and no steps at all to prevent members of organizations such as Hamas from joining its staff. [...] No justification exists for millions of dollars in humanitarian aid going to those who can afford to pay for UNRWA services.” Accordingly, Canada redirected aid earmarked for the UNRWA to projects strengthening the Palestinian judicial system to “ensure accountability and foster democracy.” In short, not only does disproportionate aid leave millions of others worse off, it helps reinforce intransigence in the IPC thus propagating its survival.

as the building of an Israeli museum on top of a 15th century Palestinian cemetery parking lot) is covered in nearly every major Western newspaper, ongoing human rights abuses in the rest of the world (such as the continued killing of Sudanese civilians) do not. CNN International’s one year retrospective on the ‘War in Gaza’ is a fitting example: during the show, two statistics scrolled by at the bottom of the screen “...15 000 civilians estimated dead in Mexico drug wars...225 000 child slaves in Haiti.” That these disturbing realities were not the focus of the show – rather than a war that had ended one year ago – is further evidence that the media’s fascination with the IPC outstrips that of any other conflict today, regardless of the scale of human rights abuses.

The Solutions Redressing the media balance will not be simple: after decades of reinforcement the IPC is firmly entrenched in the

image credit: flickr “bissane Gaza Solidarity ”

FEATURE ARTICLE A Media Eclipse: Israel-Palestine and the World’s Forgotten Conflicts


Israel is the largest recipient of US aid in the world, topping 2.5 billion dollars in 2009. Although the majority of aid is tied to military spending, this works out to more than $400 per Israeli. In 2006, Israel received 12% of all US foreign assistance while the whole of Africa (minus Egypt) received 12%. For reference, the population of Israel is 7.3 million. The African continent is home to over 1 billion. GDP per capita in Israel is $28 900 while the average African GDP is under $3 000. With 300 million Africans living below the poverty line and 27% of their children malnourished, it is not difficult to argue that US aid is closely tied to its own interests and not to where it is needed most.

The greatest consequence of disproportionate media coverage is that many conflicts involving gross violations of human rights never reach the public consciousness. As demonstrated above, the rights of Liberians, Sudanese, Sri Lankans, North Koreans, Rwandese, Colombians, Congolese, Guineans, Burmese, Nigerians, Sierra Leoneans, Mexicans, Tibetans, Chechens, Sahrawis, Kurds, Kashmiris, albinos, women, homosexuals, children, and even those of Palestinians outside the Occupied Territories have been largely ignored. While the slightest event in the IPC (such

hearts and minds of Westerners, Arabs, and Muslims alike. However, if one conflict can turn so many heads, so can others. The international media reaction to Darfur, while too late, likely stopped further atrocities and was an indication that diversification of human rights coverage is possible. Unfortunately, most conflicts don’t have enough geopolitical, ideological, or religious significance to trigger a global response. However, as outlined above, global media consumers are motivated to act on behalf of others when self-interest and/or guilt are present. While difficult to manufacture, these sentiments can be communicated through various conduits such as images and world leaders. A single image from the Ethiopian famine of 1984 sparked an unparalleled response from the international community.


Conclusion The debate surrounding humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect has stalled. In the meantime, soft power in the form of the global media should be used to ensure equal representation. This will, in turn, ignite public opinion and promote change without infringing on state sovereignty. While perfectly equal representative coverage would be difficult to achieve, proportionate diversified coverage is entirely possible. This does not imply that support for Palestinians or Israelis should be abandoned; only that it should be shared with those who are ignored. If our moral code guides us in the IPC then let it be our beacon elsewhere as well. Concern for human right’s abuses needs to stretch beyond a small patch of land in the Middle East.

Noah Bernstein

image credit: flickr “Julien Harneis”

A Media Eclipse: Israel-Palestine and the World’s Forgotten Conflicts

However, even if images are produced they are often ineffectual on the receiving end due to overload and sensitization. The competition between tragedies is fierce and can quickly overwhelm the media consumer to the point of inaction. One awareness-raising method that has proven to be remarkably effective is using world leaders to diffuse messages. Particularly powerful is the celebrity-asspokesperson approach. While it may seem trivial, the level of importance the world attributes to its celebrities cannot be underestimated. Concerts for debt relief, telethons for earthquake victims, and special UN goodwill ambassadors have all proven exemplary at helping causes rise from obscurity and into the living room of the mass media consumer.


Since then, horrific and shocking images of suffering are Once images are generated – and world leaders and celebrities required if a natural disaster or conflict is to penetrate the attached to them – they can be used as tools by activists and public’s consciousness. Both the Palestinians and Israelis diasporas to instigate change. Again, Palestinians and Israelis harness this potential expertly. Unfortunately, other conflicts demonstrate that this method can be exceptionally effective are unable to generate images due to lack of access and for publicizing discontent. The cynic, of course, would argue material. There were no images of the LRA massacre in DRC that the media is a vehicle of the agenda-setting elite and that because there were no reporters. “You cannot fight for what any attempt to breach the hegemony is futile. While pushing you do not see,” was the unheralded stories reply of a Congolese through various media “The greatest consequence of disproportionate media villager when asked if channels is not easy, coverage is that many conflicts involving gross violations he begrudged the world recent WTO and antiof human rights never reach the public consciousness.” for ignoring his plight. war demonstrations Similarly, there were have shown it is few images of the 20 000 dead Sri Lankan civilians due to possible. In addition, recent campaigns by human rights government media restrictions. However, citizen journalism groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights – whereby civilians are armed with smart technology that Watch have confirmed civil society’s importance in public can easily diffuse images of suffering – has proven to be an debate and demonstrated that if communal will is strong effective awareness-raising technique that erases problems enough, change is possible. of both access and material.


Cry Havoc! And Let Slip the Drones of War...

Since 2004, Washington has waged a relatively covert campaign against Islamist militant movements in Pakistan’s North-western regions. In the past two years, the campaign has increased considerably, drawing international criticism. As a part of the criticism, two questions have become commonplace: Is the campaign effective, and is it justifiable? Background Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA). These areas suffered


Cry Havoc! And Let Slip the Drones of War...

n America’s Global War on Terror (GWOT), there have been two major theatres, Afghanistan and Iraq. Both countries experienced forceful removal of old regimes by an American-led invasion followed by attempted statebuilding campaigns; the ideological premises of these actions could not to survive realities on the ground. Perhaps inevitably, both countries saw a rise in insurgent activity, leaving the occupying forces to wage counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaigns. While the Islamist uprising in Iraq seems to be waning, the neo-Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is gathering pace.


from Pashtun irredentism generated by the often ambiguous Durand Line, reinforced by genuine social grievances, lack of government legitimacy and absence of public services.

The intensification of the Islamist insurgency in Pakistan meant NWFP and FATA became a sanctuary and an operational base for militants, conveniently out of ground forces reach. International forces were unable to engage the militants on the Pakistani side of the border and other than establishing a presence in South Waziristan, the Pakistani military has largely resisted launching large-scale assaults on the militant strongholds. Despite mounting pressure on Pakistan’s military to deal with militant-controlled areas, A substantial element in the persistence of the neo-Taliban the insurgents have established a virtual safe-haven in the threat results from the region’s geopolitical peculiarities. The regional provinces. The question on the Pentagon’s mind is terrain in Afghanistan, especially near the Pakistani border, how to resolve this problem. offers a natural safe-haven for insurgents. The mountain ranges in South-eastern Afghanistan and North-western Drone Them into the Stone Age Pakistan have been a permanent base since 1979. It has not helped that insurgents inside Afghanistan have established a regional infrastructure network to facilitate the smuggling Washington’s air campaign in the NWFP and FATA tribal reof arms, drugs and munitions, taking full advantage of the gions has become the cornerstone of counter-insurgency and porous borders surrounding them, which also enabled cross- counter-terrorism strategy in Pakistan. Operations started after Washington became increasingly frustrated over perborder raids. ceived failure by Islamabad to prevent the militant action The quintessential beneficiary, and more recently, victim and infiltration into Afghanistan. Since 2004, Washington of Afghanistan’s porous borders has been Pakistan. After has conducted a covert program to target and eliminate the withdrawal of Soviet forces, Pakistan sought to install a al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders and fighters, including friendly regime in Kabul, most recently in the form of Tali- their external operations networks based in Pakistan’s tribal ban, to gain strategic depth in its rivalry against India. How- regions. According to New America Foundation (NAF) and ever, the pyrrhic nature of Pakistan’s Taliban-policy became the Long War Journal (LWJ), who have been compiling a daclear as the neo-Taliban insurgency intensified. Pakistan’s tabase on the drone campaign, there have been 10 Predator efforts to support the Taliban backfired and led to the tali- drone strikes between 2004 and 2007. Casualty estimates banization of Pakistan’s own Pashtun-dominated areas in the vary between 87 and 109- of which 77 to 100 were militantsNorth-western Frontier Provinces (NWFP) and Federally keeping civilian deaths to a minimum.


The Obama Administration has not viewed such numbers as credible deterrents against militants operating in and out of NWFP and FATA- prioritizing the strategic importance of disrupting militant activity in the tribal regions. The drone campaign has now become the foundation of Washington’s counter-terrorism in Pakistan. The objective has not changed: to root out and decapitate senior leadership of al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other allied terror groups, like the Haqqani Network (HQN) and Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) to disrupt al-Qaeda’s global and local operations in the region. However, the intensity has increased, including considerations in March 2009 to widen its geographic scope to include Balochistan.

Osama al-Kini, al-Qaeda’s operations chief in Pakistan and one of the masterminds behind the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Moreover, drone strikes have claimed numerous HQN leaders. NAF and LWJ both report that while the attacks have increased, civilian casualties have remained relatively low.

The Strategic Impact of the Drone Attacks The drone attacks are a typical tool in Washington’s arsenal to combat militant activity in Pakistan. However, prevalence of the drone strategy does not necessarily imply effectiveness. While there is considerable support for the continuation, if

“If we want to strengthen our friends and weaken our enemies in Pakistan, bombing Pakistani villages with unmanned drones is totally counterproductive”

Correlating with the intensifying insurgency, Predator drone not escalation of the drone attacks, there are also critical voicstrikes increased to 34 in 2008 and 59 in 2009. 2010 has es being heard. Dr. David Kilcullen, one of the leading thinkalready witnessed 25 strikes. The casualty levels have also ers on counterinsurgency, and an advisor to both General grown increasingly. According to NAF, “the 122 reported David Petraeus and former Secretary of State Condoleezza drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, including 26 in 2010, Rice, errs on the side of caution: “If we want to strengthfrom 2004 to the en our friends and present have killed apweaken our enemies “Washington’s air campaign in Pakistan’s tribal region proximately between in Pakistan, bombing has become the cornerstone of counter-insurgency and 867 and 1,281 individuPakistani villages with counter-terrorism strategies in Pakistan.” als, of whom around unmanned drones is 582 to 915 were detotally counterproducscribed as militants in reliable press accounts, about two- tive” he quipped in an interview with Danger Room, a notathirds of the total on average.” The increasing number of ble national security blog, in early 2009. drone attacks has resulted in the elimination of several notable militants. Between 2004 and 2007, only four top-level There is logic to Dr. Kilcullen’s argument. On the one hand, militants were neutralised. while eliminating terrorists will no doubt reflect well on Obama’s domestic approval ratings, it does little to address In contrast, by 2009, the drone strikes have caused the death the strategic balance between the insurgents and the counof Baitullah Mehsud, leader of TTP, his deputy, in addition ter-insurgency efforts. It can hardly prevent cross-border to Saleh al-Somali, al-Qaeda’s external network leader, and infiltration into Afghanistan and in the medium term will


Cry Havoc! And Let Slip the Drones of War...

image credit: flickr “Helmandblog ”


likely drive an increasing number of militant leaders under- Drones are best utilized as a surgical strike force, to be used ground, making it more difficult to gather intelligence. sparingly against high-value targets. They cannot change the strategic balance in Pakistan against the militants, and Furthermore, Pakistani authorities have systematically con- neither should they be deployed as cost-effective, risk-averse demned American drone attacks on their territory, despite an extrajudicial assassination schemes. This only furthers the alleged “mutual understanding” behind the scenes. While there alienation of the Pakistani population. Many Islamabad ofundoubtedly is coordination between Islamabad and Washing- ficials have long claimed drone attacks fuel the insurgency, ton on the drone campaign, it is most likely to further decrease only to have their statements fall on deaf ears in Washington.

“Sometimes we might have to [attack with drones] — but only where larger interests (say, stopping another 9/11) are directly affected…” Dr David Kilcullen

Cry Havoc! And Let Slip the Drones of War...

the legitimacy of Pakistan’s capital in the tribal regions. Likewise, the drone strikes have further upset the delicate balance in FATA and NWFP - tipping it in favour of the militants, who are ready and eager to exploit the upheaval caused by attacks. While “low civilian casualties” might be acceptable to the Pentagon, it is unlikely that such acceptance exists in Peshawar, or even Islamabad. Civilian casualties are consistently exaggerated in the Pakistani press, further aggravating domestic opinion of Washington. In a Gallup poll conducted in August 2009, paltry nine percent of Pakistanis expressed support for the drone strikes, while 67% opposed them. Comparatively, 41% supported military action against the Islamist militants by the Pakistanis, while only 24% opposed such actions.


However, the drones can have a role in this conflict. As Kilcullen also noted in the interview with Danger Room, “Sometimes we might have to [attack with drones] — but only where larger interests (say, stopping another 9/11) are directly affected… ...We need to be extremely careful about undermining the longer-term objective - a stable Pakistan.” This reveals the overall problem of Obama’s drone strategy. There is considerable overreliance on drone attacks, and little consideration over their impact on the socio-political dynamics in the tribal areas and wider Pakistan.

However, no effective counterinsurgency strategy can ignore the population. This might become a lesson Washington needs to learn again.

The Next Generation War Criminals Herein lies an additional problem facing the Obama Administration’s drone campaign. Forget strategic limitations of the drone attacks and their operational misuse, it is within the political, or legal battleground that the additional negative implications of the drone campaign are found. Problematically, it is not the US military that is in charge of the drone campaign in Pakistan. Although the drones over the Afghani skies fly under Air Force command, their jurisdiction ends at the border. On the other side, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) takes over. Hence, this puts Washington in an awkward position for two reasons. First, as the drone attacks are CIA operations, Washington is in a position where it can neither confirm nor deny the occurrence of these attacks. Essentially, this means that Washington is waging a publicly known “secret war” in Pakistan. Washington’s inability to address the aftermath of these attacks, either vis-àvis Pakistan or the international community will surely create further schism as the campaign intensifies. Second, CIA’s operational responsibility casts doubt over the legal status of


disregard by the Obama Administration for the effects of the drone attacks presents a major strategic pitfall. In order to optimize its current strategy fully reap the benefits from using drones, Washington needs to redress several problems. First, it needs to reconsider the role of the CIA. The problematic status of the unlawful pilots, the erosion of extrajudicial assassinations and U.S. inability to address the The ambiguous legal position of pilots has left Washington drone campaign publicly will likely alienate Washington’s scrambling for a justification of the attacks. In a recent con- European allies and Pakistan, who can do little more than ference address, State Department Legal Adviser Harold publicly condemn the attacks. Second, the over reliance and Koh stated that: “The United States is in “an armed conflict” excessive deployment of the drones to strike various targets with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban will further alienate Islamaand its affiliates as a result of “Washington needs to realize the drone attacks bad, and turn popular opinion the September 11 attacks, and against Washington’s coundo not occur in a strategic vacuum.” may use force consistent with terinsurgency efforts. While its inherent right to self-defence under the international Washington is unlikely to make any new friends in Pakistan, law.” Washington’s drone policy neatly underlines the politi- it needs to better balance the gains of neutralizing militants cal subjectivities of applying international law to the GWOT and disrupting their operations with the negative repercusand the drone campaign. Prior to September 11 attacks, sions of continuous drone attacks in a hostile environment. former CIA chief George Tenet argued that for the CIA to deploy drones like the Predator, would be a “terrible mistake.” But the current CIA chief, Leon Panetta acknowledges the strategic utility of Predator drones in the battle against Islamist militants. For Panetta, strategic benefits, not legality, matter the most.

The Drone Question: Problems and Prospects Washington’s drone campaign faces many problems, but is not an entirely useless policy in the fight against insurgents and terrorists in Pakistan. The initial criticism toward Pakistan’s inability or unwillingness to earnestly exert pressure over the militants operating in the tribal region rings true, and Pakistan’s course is unlikely to change radically in the near future. With the absence of any other threats to the militants in NWFP and FATA, the drone campaign presents one of the few viable policy options. The drones are capable of performing surgical strikes to eliminate high-value targets within the senior leadership of Islamist movements, disrupting their regional operations. However, the drone attacks also have a destabilizing effect.

Washington needs to realize the drone attacks do not occur in a strategic vacuum. There is no long-term solution without a stable Pakistan. And while the drone attacks offer a limited resource against the militant problem, they also present a long-term contradiction by fuelling the insurgency and increasing the legitimacy deficit of Islamabad. Washington needs to find a balance between these elements. If the U.S. government wishes to further intensify its drone campaign, as advocated by former RAND analyst Seth Jones, it needs to find a way to alleviate its impact in Pakistan. Thus far, such approach has been lacking in Obama’s “Secret War in Pakistan”.

They generate more grievances against the GWOT and Islamabad, further fuelling the insurgency. The perceived


Juha Saarinen

Cry Havoc! And Let Slip the Drones of War...

Additionally, whether one ultimately agrees with the legitimacy and justifiability of the attacks, extrajudicial assassinations of terrorists is likely to contribute to an already visible trend, making ‘targeted killings’ more acceptable. After all, it was not long ago Washington coherently condemned Tel Aviv’s inclination to use ‘targeted killings’ of Palestinian militants. Likewise, the assassination of Hamas military commander Mabhoud al-Mabhoub in Dubai drew robust international criticism, and was also condemned by Washington. The erosion of the moral and legal status of extrajudicial targeting is likely to make the assassination of individuals more commonplace. A question that cannot be substantially answered now arises: how will Islamist militants respond to such occurrences?

image credit: flickr “Swamibu ”

the pilots as civilian participation in combat is prohibited by two protocols of the 1949 Geneva Convention. According to several critics of the drone campaign, this ironically brands the drone pilots as unlawful combatants under international law. In theory, this opens the door to prosecute the pilots and top US officials as war criminals in the future.


The Great Game Redux As Western forces gear for a withdrawal from the Afghan theatre, regional powers prepare to face-off in a shadowy proxy war for the control of the crossroads of Asia.


oined by 19th century British imperialists, the term Great Game was used to illustrate the Russian-British geo-political struggle for dominance on the strategic chessboard of Afghanistan and Central Asia. Marked by limited military engagements and intelligence forays, the Great Game was the Machiavellian embodiment of great-power politics and dominance in the region.

Western as well as Indian intelligence sources, stem from its strenuous efforts to contain India and re-gain its lost strategic depth once Western forces evacuate the country. In a rare media briefing to journalists in February, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s powerful Chief of Army Staff, put it succinctly,

Fast-forward to a century later and the game still continues. This time, however, the number of players has proliferated, the intensity of the violence is deadlier and the regional stakes are much higher. Seven years after being toppled by an American invasion, the Taliban has staged a bloody comeback as the besieged Hamid Karzai administration is rapidly losing credibility both home and abroad. Afghanistan is once again a proxy battleground as regional powers such as India, Pakistan, Russia, China and Iran jockey for power and influence in a nation poised on a razor’s edge.

The Great Game Redux


Augmenting its soft power, India is playing a major developmental role by pledging more than $1.2 billion to build Afghanistan’s shattered infrastructure. Some of the major Indian development projects include the new parliament building, erecting power transmission lines in the north, and building roads to facilitate transport. This rising Indian profile in Afghanistan has rattled Pakistan as the two archrivals escalate their presence in the war-torn country. Pakistani officials accuse Indian embassies and consulates in Afghanistan of arming, training and funding Baloch insurgents as well as elements of the Pakistani Taliban for sabotage and subversion operations against Pakistan. In the same vein, India blames Pakistan for rising attacks against Indian interests within Afghanistan. The Indian Embassy in Kabul has been the site of two deadly suicide bombings blamed on local Taliban elements. Allegedly aided by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), an increasing number of Indian nationals working on reconstruction projects have been targeted. Islamabad’s continuing links with the Taliban, reinforced by

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India and Pakistan

“Afghanistan is once again a proxy battleground as regional powers such as India, Pakistan, Russia, China and Iran jockey for power and influence in a nation poised on a razor’s edge.”

“We want a strategic depth in Afghanistan but do not want to control it”, he adds, “A peaceful and friendly Afghanistan can provide Pakistan strategic depth.” Pakistan’s readiness to train the Afghan army in response to a similar offer made by New Delhi reflects Islamabad’s concerns over rising Indian influence in Kabul. Expect a rising body count as an intensifying proxy war between the two mortal foes plays out in the Afghan theatre.

“...the Chinese have seemingly announced their intentions of leveling the playing field with the US through economic and possibly military assistance to Afghanistan.”

disquiet the increasing American military presence in the region, as well as recent American overtures to Central Asian countries for bilateral transit treaties that would allow the flow of critical military supplies into Afghanistan as an alternative to Pakistan. Not willing to play second fiddle to their Cold War rivals and highly suspicious of Pakistani machinations, the Russians have stepped up their engagement with the Karzai administration in tandem with key players such as Iran and India through regional forums such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

China Another major actor in the arena, China has huge stakes in a stable and prosperous Afghanistan to secure its Western corridor in order tap its growing energy interests in Pakistan, Iran and Central Asia. Moreover, Beijing is wary of a Taliban victory as this could directly impact the restive Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang. Like its enormous

African safari, Beijing is also pumping massive economic firepower into infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. With an eye on Africa’s treasure trove of natural resources, China has embarked on a massive aid and investment spree to modernize the continent’s creaking infrastructure by building new and better roads, schools, computer networks, telecoms systems and power plants. While China’s foray into Afghanistan barely measures that of Africa, Beijing has reportedly promised to invest $3 billion in one of the world’s largest copper mines south of Kabul. Through this calculated maneuver, the Chinese have seemingly announced their intentions of leveling the playing field with the US through economic and possibly military assistance to Af- ghanistan. On the eve of President Karzai’s bilateral visit to Beijing in March, Zhang Xiaodong, Deputy Chief of the Chinese Association for Middle East Studies, told the government-owned China Daily, “As Afghanistan’s neighbour, China is very concerned about the country’s future”. In a subtle hint of shifting geopolitical priorities, Zhang hinted, “Afghanistan should cut reliance on the US. At the moment, Washington is deeply involved, and it makes other neighbours nervous. Karzai now hopes to seek more support from other big countries and find a diplomatic balance,” At the twilight of the Afghan War, the stage is set for Beijing’s increasing involvement in its embattled neighbourhood.

Iran Finally, Afghanistan’s enormous neighbour to the west, Iran, faces a dangerous ideological adversary in the Sunni Taliban. The Iranians will not easily forego the brutal murder of their


The Great Game Redux

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Still smarting from its disastrous intervention in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, Russia has no stomach for another military adventure in the region. Yet, the Kremlin harbors no desire to witness another Taliban takeover in its strategic backyard which could embolden Jihadist fighters in Chechnya, Dagestan and Central Asia as a whole. Having faced the ignominy of a military defeat in Afghanistan, the Russians are more interested in a diplomatic rather than military solution to the crisis and provide significant economic assistance to the Hamid Karzai government in Kabul. Moscow views with

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image credit: flickr “Chuck Holton”

diplomats at the hands of the Taliban in 1998 that almost es- In the aftermath of the London Conference, the end game calated into a military conflict. The regional giant commands has intensified fears of further instability as Western forcsignificant influence among the Shia Hazara minority as it es gear for an eventual withdrawal. Held on January 28th also pumps in significant economic investment to develop 2010, the London Conference, attended by major actors in the country. Tehran certified joint investment companies, the international community, endorsed plans to transfer sponsored food fairs, opened cement factories, extended military leadership from NATO to Afghan security forces purchase credits to traders, and trained commercial pilots. beginning at the end of this year and for the reintegration of The extension of an electric the Taliban into the Afghan line into the western Afghan political structure via mon“While Iran is loath to accept a Taliban take-over etary benefits. Simmering city of Herat and joint sponsorship of highway projects of Afghanistan, it is wary of the presence of US-led tensions between regional NATO troops on its eastern frontier.” with India throughout the powers are likely to boil Afghan west have been some over as consensus emerges of Tehran’s key projects. While Iran is loath to accept a Tali- regarding negotiations with the Taliban. A possible political ban take-over of Afghanistan, it is wary of the presence of settlement with the Taliban, with the involvement of PakiUS-led NATO troops on its eastern frontier. Pentagon of- stan, is likely to spark reactions from India, China, Iran and ficials allege that Tehran supplies arms and other material Russia including the backing of other anti-Taliban groups to Taliban insurgents and other groups in Western Afghani- undermining any peace and stability in the region. Recent stan. With Iran’s deepening ties with various Afghan com- weeks have witnessed an upsurge in regional diplomacy as munities such as the Shia Hazara and others, it is inevitable world leaders shuttled between New Delhi, Moscow, Kabul, that any heightening of US-Iranian tensions can be played Islamabad and Tehran - be it Prime Minister Manmohan out in a violent proxy face-off in the fiery deserts of the war- Singh’s visit to Riyadh, President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad torn nation. ’s visit to Kabul, President Hamid Karzai’s visit to Islamabad, or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to Delhi. As the clock in Afghanistan ticks down, the coming weeks and months are likely to witness an escalation of intensity in the cloak and dagger game being played between regional powers for the ultimate prize that is Afghanistan.

Brijesh Khemlani

The Great Game Redux

“...the coming weeks and months are likely to witness an escalation of intensity in the cloak and dagger game being played between regional powers for the ultimate prize that is Afghanistan.”


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“To say we are giving upon markets is actually almost to say we are giving up.”

Interview with Lord Nicholas Stern



alking to Nicholas Stern is a refreshing experience; pragmatic approach leaves space for constructive solutions alongside criticism. He famously published the Stern Review in 2006, presenting climate change as the result of market failure and subsequently provides market-based solutions. Among other things, he currently chairs the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE and heads the India Observatory within the Asia Research Centre.

Despite the shortcomings of the Copenhagen Summit, Stern retains a positive outlook, insisting we should view it as a platform for future change. It is easy to be sceptical of this optimism, perhaps partly because the summit was presented to the average person as the summit, where countries would agree on binding emissions plans and stringent targets. When these did not materialise, it seemed a significant opportunity had been wasted. Stern admits the disappointment, but at the same time notes it could have been much worse and, in support of his hopefulness, points to several positive, concrete results. One outcome was recognition of the need to limit global warming to 2 degrees, the implications of which amount to some radical action. He outlined

the following figures: we currently emit around 47 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum; to meet the target we would have to reduce this to around 44 billion tonnes in 2020, well below 35 in 2030 and 20 in 2050. Presumably then, the challenge faced by countries at the future climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, will be to lay down more concrete plans for achieving this; no small feat considering the inevitable political wrangling. However even here there are indicators that it is possible to work together. The High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, responsible for investigating how to spend the money promised at Copenhagen, will be chaired by both Gordon Brown and Mr. Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.


On a more local level, we face the challenge of making our government commit to meaningful domestic initiatives to combat climate change. Undeniably the government has a large role to play, especially in Stern’s rhetoric where emissions are an externality that must be addressed through government intervention. However, the question remains over how best to mobilise our politicians. Should we portray the long-term benefits (be it humanitarian or economic) or should we appeal to their short-term electoral interests? Stern opts for the former: he feeds research papers and policy into government to convince them of the necessity and benefits of action. The latter requires many individuals modify their behaviour to be more environmentally aware. This would prove people’s


With the dust of Copenhagen still in the air, Hero Austin and Kimia Pezeshki converse candidly with worldrenowned climate economist Professor Nicholas Stern about the future of the climate change debate and his reasons for hope.


Lord Nicholas Stern

Nevertheless Stern is clear that some approaches are simply not useful. We asked him about his views on a dedicated section of the green movement, invaluable to raising awareness of climate change and committed to meaningful lifestyle changes. The issue for Stern over this section of the green movement arises in their denial of market solutions. This view is often adopted because of pragmatic and ideological concerns. First, there is a question about whether schemes such as carbon trading will work. Sceptics often point to the first phase of the European Union Emission Trading

Scheme that over allocated carbon credits and allowed electricity companies to make windfall profits. This was counterproductive to the aims of carbon trading because companies that received excess credits had no incentive to “green” their practices. The cap was meaningless. Although a legitimate concern, the problem seems to lie in the implementation rather than the theory itself. More stringent regulation and allocation would alleviate these difficulties. Secondly, however, Stern is faced with a more ideological challenge. This is the belief that a capitalist society is based upon unlimited consumption that necessitates the depletion of resources and damage to the environment. The counter-argument to this revolves around the concept of a green economy and sustainable development/growth, which is outlined in Stern’s book Blueprint for a Safer Planet. Ultimately though, it is clear that Stern considers these objections to be peripheral: “I don’t think you

can claim that markets have no role to play. Most of what happens in a modern economy happens as a result of private sector decisions, and the question is what the incentives are? In what context are people making those decisions? What regulations do they face, [and] how are risks shared?” “To say that we are giving upon markets is actually almost to say we are giving up.” A more universally appealing aspect of Stern’s approach is his desire to find solutions that have the least painful impact. For instance, by 2050, our population is estimated to be 9 billion. Evidently, this means our carbon emissions per capita have to be cut more drastically than if there were less people in the world. This is sometimes used as an argument for population control so we can more easily meet targets for total emissions. Stern’s response is that the only acceptable form of this involves increasing sex education and awareness of women’s rights.


Other options, according to Stern, entail being radical in an undesirable way. Death control is obviously not a viable choice, but neither is stringent birth control; it is an illiberal solution generally accepted not to be compatible with our society. We agree with Stern’s judgement that “if you’re going to be pessimistic then you have basically given up”. His characteristic optimism coupled with a realistic analysis of the current status will hopefully contribute to desired improvements, particularly at Cancun. After speaking with Stern, the most significant sentiment we are left with is that in order to have chance of success “you have to keep persuading and presenting the arguments.”

Hero Austin Kimia Pezeshki

Interview with Lord Nicholas Stern

commitment to the issue, allowing parties to implement radical initiatives without fear of the electorate. In actuality, it transpires that both are crucial, even complementary. Stern’s policies and research provide sound, detailed evidence for the British government to act upon, but to ensure action, this has to be seconded by popular demand to reassure any party facing the electorate.


The Right Kind of Financial Education

If the credit crunch has taught us anything, it’s that we are all invested in the financial sector. So why do few of us know precisely what happens to our money? And most importantly, how can we change it?


anking is the lifeblood of the economy. Without banks safeguarding our deposits, we would waste time keeping track of our money. Without banks keeping a portion of our deposits and lending out the rest, businesses would find it hard to raise capital. Historically, societies have flourished on a free flow of credit. The derivatives sector alone amounts to up to $60 trillion. It’s little surprise that when it blew up, it took the rest of the world with it.

The Right Kind of Financial Education

But until I was 20 years old, I didn’t know how a bank worked. Had I not learned this for an introductory economics class I took in hopes of an easy first (it wasn’t), I would still be operating under the vague notion that the cash I deposited at the bank just sat there, and that banks magically always had money to issue mortgages and credit cards.


How had I, a girl not exactly stupid or uneducated, never even thought to question the economy or financial markets, a sector that, as the past two years have shown, has profound consequences on our lives? Part of it was because, as a young person who doesn’t yet have to pay taxes, learning about money – where it comes from and how to use it – did not seem immediate or relevant. Part of it was a dismissive fear that finance was too complicated for me to even contemplate understanding. But mostly it was because I believed, as an aspiring writer, I had loftier concerns than money. Bankers were all power hungry and soulless. My snobbishness seemed vindicated when I first started studying at the London School of Economics, dominated by investment-banker wannabes whose only concerns seemed to be networking, career workshops and how little work they need to do to get a 2:1.

better ways in the form of community outreach schemes. In the UK, they are largely organized by professional bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, who work with the secondary school teachers to deliver a tailored curriculum for students. Financial literacy could easily be expanded into volunteer schemes for young people. You don’t need advanced mathematical knowledge to explain compound interest to a five year old.

My distaste of bankers is nothing new. Historically, generating profit from handling money is not considered noble and a long-standing prejudice has existed between those who work with Next, economics and finance curricula money and those who are seen as doing need to cover behavioural economics and fimore p r o - “…three-quarters of the school-leaving popula- nancial ductive tion are unequipped to make simple financial history. Underwork, decisions.” standl i k e agriculture or medicine. It’s a preju- ing the evolution of our current ecodice reinforced in literature, artwork, nomic system requires knowledge of even religion – Christianity enforced financial history. Behavioural economthe sin of usury, which banned lend- ics teaches us that far from being raing on interest, something still banned tional decision makers, we’re hardwired under Muslim Shariah Law. Like all to make irrational decisions by followprejudices, it’s largely unjustified, but ing innate psychological biases. These bankers, on their part, have never had include everything from short-sightedan incentive to demystify themselves. ness to avoiding emotional distress by Deposit-taking banks depend upon avoiding financial planning. Teaching consumer confidence, and the less about the psychology of financial beconsumers know about the risks banks haviour will help us understand financial crises, and more importantly, distake with their money, the better. pel a common notion that all financial The challenge for our generation is risk can be controlled. Learning about to see education in personal finance past financiers’ methods and mistakes as a social mission. We can start by will help promote a long-term, sustainadvocating for financial literacy pro- able view of finance. grammes. Consumers deserve to know what banks do, and the best way for Thanks to the financial crisis, a debate people to understand how banks man- that was previously the privilege of age money is to start by managing their academia has gone mainstream. As the own. Financial literacy has to be taught next generation of leaders, we should to children. A study by the Jump$tart take this by the horns. We need to foundation, America’s largest financial question why our economy is the way literacy non-profit organisation, shows it is and how it affects us. We need to that most people become financially keep the debate alive for our children, literate at university. But, given only a so they may see how money and those minority of high school graduates make who control it, affect everyone’s lives, at it to college, this still leaves three-quar- all times, not just in the wake of finanters of the school-leaving population cial crises. unequipped to make simple financial decisions. Eunice Ng School curricula are not ready to teach financial literacy. But there are arguably




ay 1997 saw Tony Blair stride into No.10 Downing Street, his gait matching the optimism optimism and hope encapsulated in the feverish flag waving and fresh spring air of that day. Blair, it was thought, was leading his party and even the country on a grand project of modernization, creating a politics and a nation for the 21st Century. This venture was New Labour. Now, over 12 years later, with the faces of that movement worn and furrowed by events and stresses, a number of lessons need to be learnt. Blair saw his modernisation Labour Party as the realisation of an idea born at the London School of Economics. His admiration for Anthony Giddens, the cerebral father of the Third Way, verged on a desire for doctrinaire implementation of the University’s former director’s ideas. Retrospect shows us that ideology has in fact been the biggest victim of Blair and Brown’s project. Rather than becoming the ideology to rule all ideologies, transcending the clash between left and right, the Third Way has sucked ideas out of British politics altogether. This is evidenced by the nature of debate in the Westminster village today. In a time when events have challenged fundamental assumptions of the economic orthodoxy, the political community has been discredited as nepotistic. Numerous global problems persist without clear answers and it is staggering to contemplate the narrowness in the range of remedies proposed by mainstream politics. Some see the limited choice we face as a victory for free-market based liberal democracy over rival systems of government and economics. This End of History reasoning (promulgated by Francis Fukuyama), undoubtedly has some merit when applied to domestic politics but does not explain everything. Whilst the society Britain has created for itself has been a successful one, there is widespread recognition of persisting problems. Poverty

image credit: flickr “Robertsharp”

of Ideas M

“We have lived under a government without an ideology for nearly 13 years.”

has not been eradicated, provisions for health and education are not of an acceptable standard, grave threats to our well-being such as climate change are not met with an adequate reaction and the role of a postImperial Britain in the world remains unclear. In short, we haven’t solved everything and one would thus expect debates on the kind of government action or inaction that is needed. History tells us that unanswered questions such as these should lead to an exaggeration of differences in ideas, presenting citizens with a noteworthy choice as to the objectives and methods of government. This is certainly not intended to be a call for extremist ideology. Ideas are powerful instruments and can be forces for evil as well as good. Radicalism can be dangerous, but variation of some description and for the right reasons is the lifeblood of a liberal democracy. New Labour is inculpated in this end to ideas for a number of reasons. Primarily, its own

emptiness is to blame. We have now lived under a government without an ideology for nearly 13 years. Perhaps we have simply forgotten what it looks like. Commitments such as the famous 1997 manifesto promise to be ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ seduced us into thinking we were at a landmark moment, putting the dogma of left and right behind us and adopting a set of universal beneficial values. Such aphorisms are successful because they are so hard to disagree with. Who wouldn’t want to tackle crime as well as its causes or accept responsibility along with their newfound rights? Sadly, these visions never became a reality. Rather than achieving its transcendental goal and becoming the ideology to rule all ideologies, the third way revealed itself as an act of overcautious triangulation. The electorate unconsciously swapped honesty as to the difficult choices intrinsic in making policy and effecting change for a politics in which presentation rules supreme. Tragically, government in this way inescapably results in a race to the bottom. While blame does not lie exclusively with the Labour party, opposition of substance is awkward when one has nothing concrete to push against. The Conservatives chose to play by Labour’s new rules rather than rewriting them for the better. Into the vacuum of ideas pours techniques of style and packaging. It is deeply troubling that some of the most employed tools of policy formulation and government emulate the operations of an advertising agency. Does it seem likely that the answers of how best to flog a packet of crisps and what the best way to regulate immigration lie in the same process? With this phenomenon, scrutiny falls down the wayside. Criticism of politicians centres on pointing out gaps in their polished presentation rather than questioning values or policy proposals. This election has the potential to be a crossroads for our society where important questions are met with worthy answers. Sadly, and largely thanks to New Labour, May will undoubtedly be a triumph of form over substance. Ideology, R.I.P.

Oliver Wiseman

New Labour and the Death of the Ideas

New Labour and

The New Labour post mortem certainly demands a wide range of questions, but above all we must ask of our politics: where have all the ideas gone?


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n u r C c t i d he e r C e c n a in F l a b lo G - Governing

demew millennium n e th of de ca The first de agility of the e power and fr th th bo d te ra reining it onst t prospects for bu , ry st du in al financi ngly uncertain. in look increasi


Credit Crunched - Governing Global Finance

n 1986 international political economist Benjamin Co- to over $600 billion by 2007. Credit default swaps, a fahen presciently observed that “high finance can no vourite innovation among yield-hungry traders, reached a longer be kept separate from high politics.” That same staggering peak value of $60 trillion – five times the GDP of year, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher shook the the United States. Then, in late 2008, the crisis hit. Markets City of London by enacting her ‘Big Bang’ reforms, deregulat- seized up, lending ceased, and regulators appeared impotent. ing finance and unleashing market forces. Almost a quarter Unparalleled levels of market intervention in the resultant of a century later, the financial sector has ‘Keynesian Resurgence’ prevented a glogrown exponentially in size, market share bal depression, but have left countries “Regulation is in the air.” and importance for the world economy. around the world deeply invested in fiCapital markets have become liberalised, computerised, se- nancial markets. At the turn of the second decade of the new curitised and politicised. Stocks, flows and types of financial century, the question of what to do with finance has come to instruments have boomed beyond comparable metrics. Av- colour policy debates the world over. Regulation is in the air. erage daily turnover of foreign currency rocketed from $490 But amidst the cacophony of demur and declarations, will billion in 1989 to $4 trillion in 2007. The facilitation of anything substantive emerge? trade – international finance’s primordial function – became a footnote in the story. In 1980, international flows of capital Through an analysis of past experience and present political were roughly double the value of trade. Today, conservative difficulties, this article argues that a shift towards a stronger estimates begin at around sixty times the value. international regulatory regime may emerge, but that its chances post-crisis are depreciating with time. Finance is The noughties were a dizzying decade. Values of outstanding the exemplar of globalisation: interconnected, mobile across derivatives grew from $100 billion at the turn of the century borders and politically powerful. Any coordinated regulatory


“Any coordinated regulatory response must not only overcome obstacles of interest and ideology, but diplomacy as well.”

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“The lesson of the East Asian financial crisis for governance is that reform follows perception.”

The Early Noughties: Lessons from East Asia

But perceptions and diagnoses change. As months turned to years, Krugman and others began to believe that markets were largely to blame, irrationally perceiving risk in countries that were otherwise fiscally sound. It gradually became clear that Malaysia, which had been the exception by declining IMF assistance and instituting strong capital controls, was recovering quicker than others. The IMF subsequently abandoned formalising its advocacy of open capital markets, but poor countries and non-governmental organisations were still pushing for reform. In 2002, the WTO, IMF, World Bank and UN met in Monterrey, Mexico to discuss “closing the gap between our aspirations and the realities of finance.” Results were haphazard and mixed. While the World Bank opened its doors to civil society, the IMF remained broadly closed. In the words of its own historian James Boughton, it still wanted to be “respected, not loved”. The lesson of the East Asian financial crisis for governance is that reform follows perception. Just as pride comes before a fall, contemplation precedes change. As with interpretations, outcomes need not converge: different diagnoses lead to different responses. While Malaysia blamed capital markets and acted to stem the tide, South Korea blamed itself, and opened the gates further. Internationally, this lack of consensus resulted in little action beyond lip-service and internal shuffling within the disparate international financial institutions. The alphabet soup of discordant institutions – the IMF, WB, FSF, OECD, IASB, IASC, FATF, BIS, IOSCO, IAIS, IFIAR – were left largely unscathed. The second Basle Accord on international banking supervision took 6 years to be agreed, and was on a voluntary ‘best endeavours’ basis, which the Federal Reserve never fully took up. Rather than undermining capital account liberalisation and the AngloSaxon model, the East Asian crisis largely reinforced it, while more radical voices became steadily imperceptible in the white-hot growth of the mid-noughties.

It started off well enough. In the wake of the East Asian financial crisis of 1997-8, calls for international monetary reform reached a new peak. The IMF’s earlier strong advocacy of liberal capital markets seemed to be in tatters. In April 1997, Stanley Fischer, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, gave a speech to an audience of colleagues advocating an amendment to the IMF’s charter, enabling it to “promote the orderly liberalization of capital movements.” Three months later, Thailand was going cap-in-hand to the IMF and the East Asian financial crisis hit in earnest. Hot- Credit Crunched money poured out of the region, even from countries that appeared fiscally sound. The East Asian miracle had turned Then the crunch came. The general story is well-known: the into a contagious nightmare. August 2008 failure of Lehman Brothers precipitated a global contraction in credit markets, as inter-bank confidence However, far from seeking to rein in financial markets dissipated amid toxic assets and uncertainty. Now, once through implementing capital controls, in the early post- again, the world is in a phase of evaluation. As with a decade crisis stages the overall push was in the opposite direction. ago, diverging diagnoses are leading to differing prescripThe IMF argued staunchly that it was not irrational markets tions. Today, these can be generally summarised as ‘blame that had precipitated the crisis, but poor governance and the bankers’ versus ‘blame the foreigners’. Two opposing ‘crony capitalism’. Even Paul Krugman initially argued that views of two eminent economists are illustrative. a lack of transparency, lacklustre standards and widespread nepotism were the root causes of the contagion. Such analy- Consider the case of Barry Eichengreen, the well-respected ses enhanced the domestic power of liberal reformers, such political economist at the University of California, Berkeas those in South Korea, which subsequently (albeit superfi- ley. Eichengreen is one of many academics noting the corcially) began shifting from a dirigiste model of capitalism to respondence between the rise in finance and the demise of a more Anglo-Saxon and laissez-faire version. strong regulation in the 20th century. The gradual dilution of


Credit Crunched - Governing Global Finance

image credit: flickr “KristyR929”


response must not only overcome obstacles of interest and ideology, but diplomacy as well. ‘Opportunity in crisis’ is a cliché that belies the realities of international relations. Reform requires leadership, commitment, and the agreement or imposition of alternative frameworks. At the root, it requires a rejection of the status quo and the existence of an alternative. But, first and foremost, regulating global finance requires a cohesive answer to the question: ‘Where did it all go so wrong?’


the Glass-Steagall Act – the 1930 US response to the Wall Street Crash that legally split banks between ‘commercial’ and ‘retail’ versions – is the primary suspect. Thatcherite deregulation in the UK and ‘Reagonomics’ in the US underpinned the Anglo-Saxon model from the 1980s onwards. As economists from Keynes to Krugman are wont to point out, financial markets have a perennial tendency towards disequilibrium: bubbles and bursts, credit expansions and credit crunches. Individual and collective rationality need not coincide. Former Citigroup chief executive Charles O. Prince is famous for noting at the height of the upsurge in 2007, “As long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing.” From this perspective, the solution lies in regulation. Markets must be reined in and risks prevented from ‘going systemic’. One ‘out-of-the-box’ solution, according to Eichengreen, is a Global Glass-Steagall. Collectively, states would agree to impose stringent limits on the activities of financial institutions, distinguishing between deposit-taking, economy-serving institutions and the more leveraged

profit-driven institutions that banks themselves became at turn of the twentieth century. The problem is systemic, and the solution is a regulator’s very-visible hand. By contrast, Arvind Subramanian of Columbia University, New York, takes a rather different view. Like many observers, Subramanian believes the root causes of the crunch were not reckless markets, conflicts of interest and moral hazard- but global imbalances. From this perspective, East Asia’s export-led growth, facilitated through exchange-rate interventions, had a dark distortionary side. Buying US debt in the form of ‘T-bill’ government bonds ($800 billion in the case of China) in order to keep domestic currency low and competitiveness of exports high, artificially lowering interest rates and discouraging saving. With plentiful cheap money, investors had powerful incentives to ‘get creative’. ‘Sub-prime’ became the order of the day, served as sliced-up, pre-packaged collateralised debt obligations. This unsustainable credit-bubble, so the argument goes, could not be burst gently, even if economists at the Federal Reserve had both the foresight and will to attempt doing so. Monetary meddling abroad fed systemic risk at home. Through this perspective, private actors are relieved of blame; the efficient market hypothesis stands intact, while China becomes prime suspect in a market-distortion game of ‘whodunit’. This prognosis is patently less conducive to the harmonious, collaborative international relations needed for the market-instability approach. Instead of international agreement on regulating financial markets, some nations must effectively ‘gang-up’ to place pressure on China.

The Future


image credit: flickr “Ben Heine”

Credit Crunched - Governing Global Finance

Unsurprisingly, the ‘blame the foreigners’ approach is the preferred by US regulators. Timothy Geithner, upon being confirmed as treasury secretary in the Obama administration, made noises about China’s currency “fiddling”. Conversely, old grandees are displaying more contrition. Inflation-hawk, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, was uncharacteristically apologetic in front of Congress. He expressed “shocked disbelief ” that the “whole intellectual edifice” of modern risk-management collapsed. Speaking of his ideology, he said, “I found a flaw… and I’ve been very distressed by that fact.”

“Obama’s proclamation to put up a fight against the financial lobby is laudable, but he must choose his battles wisely.”

Political leaders also seem to be falling into the ‘blame the markets’ camp. French conservative President Nicholas Sarkozy rapidly back-peddled from his rhetorical support of the Anglo-Saxon model declaring “laissez-faire capitalism is dead.” In 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown voiced early support for a Tobin-like financial transactions tax to pay for the bailouts or international development goals. The Tobin tax’s latest incarnation is being branded the ‘Robin Hood Tax’, and has a lively campaign behind it in Europe. Even US President Barack Obama has taken a hostile tone towards the financial industry: “if these folks want a fight, it’s a fight I’m ready to have.” For international regulation, the last proclamation is the

“I found a flaw… and I’ve been very distressed by that fact.”

image credit: flickr “DavidFDesign”

Obama’s proclamation to put up a fight against the financial lobby is therefore laudable, but he must choose his battles wisely. Interest in stable and regulated finance is diffuse, while antipathy is concentrated, well endowed and knows how to make itself heard. With so many other fires in need of extinguishing – from climate change to healthcare reform – putting off the less politically pressing might be temptingly expedient. Indeed, one of the most perplexing outcomes of the crisis is that the backlash has been so muted. While German politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit predicted the financial collapse would be “for capitalist neoliberals what Chernobyl was for the nuclear lobby,” voters in Europe shifted rightward, not left. For all the initial populist outrage, while big bonuses have returned, it is governments who are under pressure to retrench. In the US, the backlash now seems to be against ‘big government’ rather than high finance.

The 2008-9 crisis will be remembered as a calamitous financial failure, wiping out trillions of pounds of financial assets and pushing upwards of 80 million into extreme poverty. But as disastrous as the collapse was, the perverse irony is it may not have been cathartic enough to herald the global ideational shift needed to overcome the substantial international and domestic barriers to a closing of the gap in global financial governance.


Simon Black

Credit Crunched - Governing Global Finance

the most promising. Like most areas of global governance, What all this suggests is that inertia, path-dependency and much of what happens internationally (still) depends on fragmentation look set to remain the defining characteriswhat happens in Washington DC. But although Wall Street is tics of international financial regulation. Undoubtedly, some not Main Street, as Barack Obama is at pains to emphasise- meagre reforms will emerge in the coming decade. Basle neither is Capitol Hill. Subject to, and yet somehow removed III may appear, with a likely increase in the reserve ratios from the ebb and flow of electoral politics, Washington is required of banks. The IMF has found a new post-crisis awash with entrenched role, has had its spending interests. Preventing any- “In the US, the backlash now seems to be against power tripled, and its cur‘big government’ rather than high finance.” thing remotely regulatory rent chief economist Olis a lucrative business. So ivier Blanchard has even powerful is this lobby that former Chief Economist of the pledged support for capital account restrictions – a taboo at IMF Simon Johnson even argues, with exaggeration, that the Fund just a decade ago. But all such measures are likely the US government has been “effectively captured” by the to follow the pattern of piecemeal and chaotic reform that finance industry. has come to characterise international financial regulation.



Century Socialism Twenty-first century socialism may not have lived up to many of its promises, but there is little sign that the ‘pink tide’ sweeping Latin America has yet started to ebb.


democracy to have increased significantly throughout the decade, rising from 29% in 2003 to 44% by 2009. This includes a 7% increase in 2009 alone- no mean feat considering this was a year seen by many as the apex of the worst global recession the world has experienced since the 1930s. In political terms, the Latin American landscape has changed dramatically since the start of the decade. After the ‘turn to left’

21st Century Socialism

or the majority of Latin Americans, the first decade of the twenty-first century has been marked by dramatic improvements in both the standard of living and the quality of democracy. Record-breaking economic growth combined with the longest period of political stability in the region’s history has now led to the lowest number of people living in poverty since the 1980s. A recent poll conducted by Latinobarómetro shows satisfaction with


image credit: flickr “POP”


that began around 2000 with the election of Ricardo Lagos in Chile, in country after country Latin Americans have chosen different shades of left-wing presidents to represent them. These have included governments in charge of some of the largest economies in the region, such as Brazil with the election of former trade union leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Argentina following the successive victories of the dynastic husband and wife team Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and Chile with the election of the first female president Michelle Bachelet. In total, fourteen elections in the first decade of the twenty-first century have produced left-of-centre governments.

largely due to their charisma and their opposition to the status quo. The second group, made up of leaders such as Lula and Bachelet, came from institutionalised parties and are a part of the political system rather than against it. This adversarial element of the ‘twentieth-century socialist’ is shown in Hugo Chávez’s rise to power. Both before and after his election in 1998, the blusterous president of Venezuela has continued to make international headlines with both his fervent promotion of a Latin America built upon socialist ideals


21st Century Socialism

image credit: flickr “Protesto: a.Andres”

The most important of “In total, fourteen these elecelections in the first tions came decade of the twentyin 2006 with first century have the elecproduced left-oftion of Evo centre governments.” Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador. Echoing actions of the mercurial Venezuelan president and voracious attacks against what he sees as encroaching Hugo Chávez, both presidents began a process of appropria- United States hegemony in the region. With his repeated tion shortly after coming ‘diplomatic tours’ to to power. In Bolivia, this “Distinguishing between ‘populist leaders’ who openly countries such as Rustook the form of nationsia, China, Iran, Belapromote ‘twenty-first century socialism’ and the more alising a number of ‘key rus, Vietnam and Syria, moderate leaders who aim to encourage business and many of Chávez’s actions strategic sectors’, most investment... there are in essence ‘two lefts’.” notably within natural seemed designed spegas and food distribucifically to antagonise tion. In Ecuador, following a popular referendum allowing the United States. Often ridiculed in the international press, the president to form an Assembly to re-write the Consti- Chávez’s nationalisation of the oil and food sectors gave him tution, Correa placed domestic water supplies under state the financial resources to enact his ‘twenty-first century socontrol and significantly expanded the role of the state in the cialism’ but, until 2006, no allies. economy. This growth of the state’s powers also allowed him to appropriate two private television channels; he claimed At a time when most of Latin America was ruled by rightthey were owned by banks implicated in the December 1999 of-centre governments, Chávez’s ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ financial crisis that wiped out millions in personal savings. (named after the nineteenth-century Venezuelan leader who Was South America to be the epicentre of the ‘twentieth- helped defeat Spain in the Wars of Independence) could only century socialism’ to sweep across Latin America? find a lone ally in Fidel Castro’s Cuba. With the elections of Morales and Correa, he increased his allies to three. Elected In his book Contemporary Latin America: Development and for second terms in 2009, both Morales and Correa continue Democracy Beyond the Washington Consensus, Francisco to support Chávez’s ‘twenty-first century socialism’. Panizza warns against making such general conclusions. Distinguishing between the ‘populist leaders’ who openly pro- In a speech delivered at the London School of Economics in mote ‘twenty-first century socialism’ and the more moderate October 2009, Correa re-affirmed his ties with Chávez, sayleaders who aim to encourage business and investment, he ing that “in his vision of socialism, in his vision of justice, in argues that there are in essence ‘two lefts’. The first group of his vision of equality, in his Bolivarian vision, there are many leaders including Chávez, Morales and Correa, were elected processes in Chávez’s model that are changing Venezuela”.


Attempting to pin down precisely what ‘twenty-first century socialism’ stands for, on the other hand, is difficult. In the same speech, Correa defined the movement variously as “a concept that is undergoing constant construction”, a “program for emancipation capable of strongly facing up to neoliberalism” and as an ideology that stresses the importance of generating “values of views before values of exchange”.

image credit: flickr “rogimmi”

“The moment Chávez doesn’t have as much economic flexibility to subsidise ALBA… it becomes much more difficult to understand how they could relate to each other and trade.”

mies of Central American and Caribbean members with the Andean countries’ over-dependence on oil and gas, is its greatest selling point, but also represents a significant weakness. In contrast to other trading blocs in the region such as MERCOSUR, which are based on comparative advantage, for Prof. Panizza, ALBA remains under-pinned by Chávez’s oil money. “I think that that over-dependency is the Achilles’ heel of ALBA”, he said. “The moment that Chávez’s doesn’t have as much economic flexibility to subsidise ALBA, which is happening now to a certain extent, it becomes much more difficult to understand how they could relate to each other and trade”.

For Professor Panizza, senior lecturer in Latin American Politics at the LSE, the most significant aspect of the movement is not so much what ‘twenty-first century socialism’ stands for but the fact that it exists at all. “Who would have thought that socialism would have become a program of government for governments elected in democratic elections” Panizza asks, “That would have been unthinkable even a few years ago”.

21st Century Socialism

But has ‘socialism of the twenty-first century’ lived up to its promises? In 2004 Cuba and Venezuela announced the creation of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a free trade bloc based on socialist principles. According to, ALBA aimed to overcome trade disadvantages through ‘solidarity with the economically weakest countries, aiming to achieve a free trade area in which all of its members benefit’.


When gas-rich Bolivia joined in 2006, Stephen Gibbs, BBC’s correspondent in Havana, reported that Bolivia’s addition added “real weight” to the pact based on creating free trade as well as eradicating illiteracy and increasing the provision of heath-care. Since then, membership of ALBA has almost become a ‘who’s who’ of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean - including Nicaragua who joined in 2007 and Dominica in 2008. Oil-rich but economically underdeveloped Ecuador became the latest member to join in 2009. The unconventionality of combining underdeveloped econo-

In 2009 this became all too apparent as the plunging price of oil led to drastic cuts in public services and welfare spending. Many of Chávez’s popular misiones, often staffed by Cuban doctors as part of ALBA’s trading agreement, had to be closed. According to The Economist, the dependence of Chávez’s welfare program on profits in PDVSA, the state oil company, led to direct financial transfers to welfare programmes falling from $7.1 billion in 2007 to $2.7 billion in 2009. Despite promising a stimulus package to ease the pain, Chávez’s government has so far failed to deliver. By the end of 2009 soaring inflation, daily food and water shortages, periodic power cuts, rampant crime and public sector strikes led to an increase in public dissent. To quell opposition, Chávez began to resort to increasingly repressive measures imposed upon sources of independent thinking, including private television channels, trade unions, the church and universities. For Carlos Marquez, a Venezuelan business intelligence analyst now working in London, the inability of a political opposition movement to organize had always been a major problem in Venezuela. “There have always been various petitions to get Chávez out of government or not to pass a law”, he said “But what a lot of people don’t know, is that if you go to any street market, you can often buy the name and contact details of the person who voted against these laws. It seems designed to intimidate people into not voting for the opposition because you never know who can get hold of your details”.


“The one good thing about ‘twentieth-century socialism’ was that it brought to light to everyone in the country that you can’t ignore the sheer number of people living in poverty”, he added, “But if you ask me things have not got better under Chávez.”

in general, and ALBA in particular, surviving a change of administration.

“What it has tried to do is present an alternative, not just to neoliberalism, but to the moderate-left, reformist, capitalist government now in Latin America and I think this has a certain appeal to many people as socialism had in the twentieth century. You cannot dismiss the notion that socialism created apart from capitalism is not appealing to very, very important sectors of the population of Latin America.” With an increasing number of political parties of both the left and right moving towards the centre in many Latin American countries, Prof. Panizza believes that we should not discount ‘twenty-first century socialism’ just yet.

foolish to write off the president just yet. In a turbulent political career that has seen him both lead and survive attempted coups against the government, Chávez has almost made a policy of defying predictions about his future. Facing a crumbling infrastructure, over-reliance on oil revenues and years of systematic ‘brain drain’ due to underinvestment in creating white-collar jobs, Chávez’s claim that “these next ten years will continue to transform Venezuela into an international powerhouse” has started to ring hollow for many people. With the grumblings of social discontent in Venezuela multiplying, Chávez’s use of scapegoats is wearing increasingly thin. With many of Venezuela’s trading relations built upon cheap oil, which in turn is dependent upon international demand within the open market, the recent plunge in the price of oil revealed the extent to which Chávez’s political survival is dependent upon the very free-market system he opposes. If he fails to win re-election in 2012, it is difficult to imagine Chávez’s brand of twenty-first century socialism


Joe Rowley

21st Century Socialism

image credit: flickr “Presidencia de la Republica del Ecuador”

Also heavily dependent on natural resources, both Morales and Correa have to be seen as delivering on their promises to the poor to ensure their survival. In contrast to countries “We’re now having power cuts in the cities, which I’ve never with more diversified economies, the distribution of natural experienced before, and in the countryside things are even resources represent potentially explosive political issues in worse. My family live both countries. In Ecuador “The one good thing about ‘twentieth-century in the countryside in 2009, there were already socialism’ was that it brought to light … you can’t and over Christmas indications that the indigelast year they only got ignore the sheer number of people living in poverty.” nous support fostered durwater every eight days. ing Correa’s first term was Whatever Chávez is saying, many people don’t feel better off beginning to slip through his fingers following his mishannow than ten years ago.” dling of a proposed new mining law that could allow companies to mine in protected areas. With the passing of the constitutional amendment allowing Chávez to run for the presidency again in 2012, it would be In addition, a recent study conducted by Vanderbilt University has also shown that despite the forcefulness of their rhetoric, most Venezuelans and Bolivians still situate themselves to the right of the political spectrum. This sits with a general trend across Latin America in another study carried out Latinobarómetro.



The Fight of Her Life A

kick to the chest. A punch to the face. The crowd goes wild as Nong Toom sets his foot on his opponent’s thigh, hoists himself into the air, and comes crashing down with both elbows. An instant knockout, made all the sweeter by the fact that a kathoey — a “ladyboy,” or transvestite — would seemingly be the underdog in any Muay Thai ring. Much to the public’s amazement and delight, this kathoey enjoyed international celebrity and an extraordinary career of 20 wins out of 22 fights. By his late teens, Toom had earned enough to make a change he had dreamed about for years: In 1999, he officially became a woman.

The Fight of Her Life

Sweeping away preconceptions, Toom successfully made a name for herself in Muay Thai, the world’s most violent combat sport. Toom is still celebrated today as a champion of Thailand’s national pastime; as a woman, however, she is banned from the ring. Still, she feels tremendous love for the sport. “If it weren’t for Muay Thai,” she said, “I wouldn’t be who I am today.” Through Muay Thai, she hopes to make a difference in her community. Along with her best friend and business partner, Steven Khan, Toom is striving to create the Parinya Muay Thai boxing camp, a haven for marginalized children, women, and members of the LGBT community (Although her fans know her as Nong, “Parinya” is Toom’s formal first name).


“I’ve always dreamed of having this camp,” said Toom, who purchased the grounds in Pranburi with prize money from fighting in Bangkok’s Lumphini Stadium when she was 16. “I don’t want to be the sole beneficiary of Muay Thai. I would like to share the art of Muay Thai and to help other people.”

Through the Parinya Muay Thai boxing camp, Thailand’s celebrated Nong Toom seeks to give back to her community with the art that made possible her transition from male to female.

Toom’s altruism is aimed at several Ultimately, the camp’s operations will be groups in need. Throughout Thailand, funded by foreign Muay Thai enthusiasts poor children as young as five are who will pay for private lessons with encouraged fight Muay Thai; they bring Toom, with additional funding from home bruises and bloody noses as often donations, grants, fundraisers, and as they do winnings. The Parinya Muay sponsorship. However, “until we have a Thai camp is intended “for children boxing ring with people training there, it doesn’t feel who want to practice “Through Muay Thai, she hopes to make real enough” for people to the art but a difference in her community.” make major who don’t contribuwant the pressure or the risk of competition,” tions, lamented Khan. said Toom. Despite this obstacle, both Toom and These children will live, study, train, Khan are determined to see this project and receive stipends for their families through. “What’s keeping us going is at Parinya Muay Thai, which will also that Nong Toom and I really believe serve as a school and orphanage. The in what we want to accomplish here, culmination of their hard work will and that hasn’t changed,” said Khan. be exhibition and performance rather “Right now, we only have a wall, a gate, the land, and a dream. But we have than competition. passion.” Women, too, will be welcome to train at the camp, providing them with a After overcoming imposing obstacles revolutionary opportunity to partake in to realize her dreams, Toom is Muay Thai as well as a chance to learn determined to help others do the same. self-defense in a sometimes dangerously “I want to be an inspiration,” she said. patriarchal society. Additionally, the “I want people to learn to pursue their camp will serve as a much-needed dreams and face their challenges, even sanctuary for the LGBT community. As if it’s difficult.” Parinya Muay Thai will Khan explained, sexual orientation “is offer marginalized communities this a don’t-ask-don’t-tell kind of thing” in very opportunity, along with respect, most camps, but “at our camp, you can support, and “a big family,” said Toom. be a ladyboy, you can be straight, you All will be equal and united in their can be gay. Everyone has to respect one love of “Thailand’s greatest treasure.” another.” “I don’t want to be the sole beneficiary Parinya Muay Thai is revolutionary in of Muay Thai boxing. I would like to its scope and ambition, but Toom and share the art of Muay Thai and to help Khan must conquer the challenge of other people.” – Nong Toom funding before their dream can come to fruition. “All the groundwork is there,” said Khan. “We have the land, we have Monica Landy the outer walls, the gate, the permits, the planning. We’re just waiting on the money.”



How Canada is Coping with its Soldiers’ The Human Cost of War: Mental Health Issues War claims lives not only in combat, but long after, through the intense psychological trauma suffered by soldiers. Canada has taken a unique approach- worthy of considerationto treating the recent influx of post-combat stress in soldiers. If made easily accessible to all soldiers, this multi-faceted program could impact not only on the victims, but society as well, challenging the general acceptance of war and the traditional way soldiers are deployed.

The difficulty soldiers face in transitioning from an intense combat zone back to former lives and families is grossly underestimated both by political and military institutions. Some feel an overwhelming sense of guilt having left compatriots in the field, others feel angst related to acts committed or witnessed in combat. The resulting influx of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from such psychological trauma is worrisome. According to recent reports by mental health experts, postdeployment military suicides in the US to date outnumber the total combat related deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. In Canada, the number of operational stress injury cases in 2007 represented an increase of over 400% over the five years prior. Although impossible to make a historical comparison, a clear phenomenon of the 20th century is the shift away from classical interstate to intra-state warfare, and thus the disappearance of clearly identified actors. “Winning hearts and minds” of communities also raises the issue of heightened

interpersonal interaction with a foreign population, for which soldiers lack psychological preparation. With the disappearance of front lines and the lack of uniforms, one can neither escape to a so-called safe area, nor distinguish between warring factions and civilians. This shift has had a profound impact on the soldier’s psyche. Exposed to hostile environments in active combat for extended periods of time, they are understandably unable to cope. The US, in their own struggle against stress disorders, have committed 50 million dollars to conduct research in order to address the issue of post-deployment suicide, but

image credit: flickr “Chairnam of the Joint Chiefs of Suit”

related disorders as part of an initiative to de-stigmatize mental illness in the military community. The term is not a medical condition, but used within non-medical contexts to describe various types of psychological difficulties that can develop as a result of military operations. To address this problem, Canada has adopted an innovative approach to psychological treatment that deserves recognition. Since 2001, ten OSI clinics have opened across Canada, as well as 19 Support Centers for military families, with a commitment to hire 218 mental health professionals. Dr. Charles Nelson, Psychologist of the London OSI Clinic, shares

“Approximately one third of all soldiers deployed [to Afghanistan] will suffer from post-traumatic stress.” with few concrete implementations to date. And yet the urgent need persists. An upsurge in health claims related to tours in Iraq and Afghanistan has resulted in a sharp spike in unprocessed health claims from 253,000 to over 400,000. This increase has slowed processing time and access to treatment, averaging a considerable delay of over five months. Without early detection and treatment, the soldiers’ symptoms of depression, insomnia and flashbacks worsen. This can lead to self-isolation, the inability to work, substance abuse, destruction of families and ultimately, suicide. The term Operational Stress Injuries (OSI) was introduced to replace the term stress-

his perspective with The Paris Globalist: “For many veterans asking for help does not come easy. Thankfully, the peersupport program with the Operational Stress Injury Support System (OSISS) helps break down the stigma of experiencing mental health problems as a result of military service.” These specialized medical facilities are partnered with advocacy campaigns and peer networks to reach out to sufferers. The peer-support program is the most innovative part of treatment: it breaks down the taboo of mental illness by enabling soldiers to share their experiences, in a safe environment. This successful grassroots initiative, coupled with the OSI institutionbased programs, has created a

multi-faceted, comprehensive and effective approach to treatment. Senator Romeo Dallaire, dedicated advocate of OSISS, believes that “peer

ever been predicted. If nothing would indicate that this progressive acknowledgement of the scale of the problem could i

“This can lead to self-isolation, the inability to work, substance abuse, destruction of families and ultimately, suicide.” interventions are saving us a suicide a day.” Acknowledging the progress made to date, mental health still remains a major issue in the Canadian military. The available programs and services remain reactive, but need to be paired with proactive solutions in order to treat the problem at the root. Canada has recently invested in psychological testing and preventative training in order to better identify symptoms and stress coping abilities of soldiers prior to deployment. Despite the realization of the tremendous psychological repercussions suffered by its soldiers, Canada’s security agenda and decades-long commitment to human security is not expected to change in the foreseeable future. What has changed within Canada’s military operations is the peacekeeping mandate from classic observation to NATO’s, and the UN’s expanded roles in peace-building. Lightly armed neutral observers have become active combatants, a mandate which Canadians have accepted, and with it, significantly greater risks to their personnel. Today, the number of PTSD affected soldiers seems exponentially greater than could have


mpact the political will to deploy, it has at least piloted the development of infrastructure and support systems required behind such military efforts. Leading in the field of mental health, this visible commitment to personnel is a reassuring and humanist approach to a once impersonal and inflexible military institution, a paradigm shift that could very well have future implications on the general tolerability of war.

Katelyn Potter katelyninparis

The Human Cost of War: How Canada is Coping with its Soldiers’ Mental Health Issues


anada has confirmed its remaining 2800 troops to be removed from Afghanistan by end 2011. Over this period tens of thousands of soldiers from other countries will also leave Afghanistan. It is estimated that approximately one third of all soldiers deployed will suffer from post-traumatic stress.


The European Union and India:

Bigger than the sum of their parts?

In this article we ask whether India’s experience of forging a nation out of a messy collection of culturally heterogeneous princely states and administrative units holds any lessons for the European Union.

image credit: flickr “IDRC CRDI Communications”

“One might think of independent India as being Europe’s past as well as its future. It is Europe’s past in that it has reproduced, albeit more fiercely and intensely, the conflicts of a modernising, industrialising and urbanising society. But it is also its future in that it anticipated, by some fifty years, the European attempt to create a multilingual, multireligious and multiethnic political and economic community.” - Ramachandra Guha, Indian historian and writer

The EU and India: Bigger than the sum of their parts?



he fact that India is today a single political unit defies dire predictions of many colonialists and political scientists. One prominent doomsayer, Sir John Strachey, who helped put the British Raj in place, wrote that “there is not, and never was, an India, or even any country of India, possessing, according to any European ideas, any sort of unity, physical, political, social or religious.” Strachey thought it inconceivable that national sympathies should ever extend to India generally: “that men of the Punjab, Bengal, the North-Western Provinces and Madras, should ever feel that they belong to one Indian nation, is impossible. You might with as much reason and probability look forward to a time when a single nation will have taken the place of the various nations in Europe.” Strachey’s sentiments capture a deep foreboding that India lacked essential ingredients of a nation, much less a democratic one. It was simply too diverse and too poor, and with ugly remnants of its caste system, had undemocratic

cultural values. Indeed, following in these intellectual footsteps, The Economist christened India “the world’s most improbable democracy”. Why did these premonitions turn out to be misguided? Three factors were chiefly responsible for keeping India alive: the independence movement’s fostering of an inclusive national identity, a political party (the Indian National Congress) that built and still bases its politics around these ideals, and the respect accorded to the electoral process.

by candidates ranging from secular, Marxist union leaders to right-wing Hindu ultra-nationalists, Dalit demagogues and Kashmiri separatists, Indian elections are not tools in the hands of a strong-willed ruling elite, as is the case in many developing countries. They often trigger important conversations about the country India ought to be and are one major reason why India survives as a political entity.

A second reason is that elections reinforce the “a deep foreboding that India lacked Every five grand idea years India of India aressential ingredients of a nation, much plays host to ticulated by less a democratic one” the largest the fathers democratic exercise in human history. of the country’s independence. Their At last year’s national elections, 700 vision was calibrated to appeal to vastly million voters cast their ballots at one of different ethno-linguistic and religious 828,804 polling stations. These general communities thus transcending these elections in many ways resemble the boundaries. India’s national identity is country whose political future they not constructed upon the conventional decide: always colourful and usually foundations of nationalism. To rally the chaotic, their magic lies in their very country around a common language existence. Conducted by a fiercely would be divisive, as no tongue is spoindependent and well-resourced ken by a majority of the population, Election Commission and contested and 29 languages have over one million


National Congress’ claims have been no less grandiose. One could hardly find a party whose office bearers have more eclectic origins: their current parliamentarians include Tibetan Sherpas, Tamil blue-bloods and Sikh economists; a liberal Scotsman, a Mecca-born Muslim cleric and an English theosophist feature among their past presidents. The party of Gandhi and of Nehru successfully preserved their ideals of nationhood and built a political platform around them.

This is not to suggest that the Congress’ liberal, romantic ideology has been unchallenged. Indeed, its fragility was glaringly exposed by the Muslim League, a political party led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the Father of Pakistan. In 1947, the League successfully image credit: flickr “Giampaolo Squarcina” demanded a separate state for India’s Sikh, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Muslims, arguing that the communiZoroastrian minorities, and has been ty’s interests would be threatened in a ruled by both Hindu-maBuddhist jority India. “India’s founding fathers elected to and MusIts starkest enunciate a national identity that is c h a l l e n g e , lim dynassecular, pluralist and inclusive.” ties. India’s however, founding may come fathers thus elected to enunciate a na- from Hindu communalists, who seek to tional identity that is secular, pluralist turn India into a Hindu rashtra, a rival, and inclusive. exclusive definition of Indian-ness that privileges Hindi culture. This inclusive vision of India – as a “house with all the doors and windows The tensions stoked by Hindu open,” through which the winds from fundamentalist groups are most around the world could blow with- visible and most frightening in North out sweeping Indians off their feet – India. In 2002, in Godhra, Gujarat, emerged in the years leading up to in- one of India’s fastest-growing and dependence. Particular credence for it best-managed states, Hindu mobs must be given to Rabindranath Tagore, killed over 1000 people, most of them the celebrated Bengali poet and first Muslims, in retaliation for the alleged Asian Nobel Prize winner. Tagore’s writ- burning of a train carriage carrying 60 ings deeply influenced both Mahatma Hindu pilgrims by Muslim farmers. Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, and Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. To Many secularists understandably become institutionalised, however, the feared further communal dividends high-flown ideals required a political for the Hindu-nationalist Bharata entity to drive them forward in a messy Janata Party (BJP) at the 2004 General world of realpolitik. That vehicle was Elections. In a pleasantly surprising the Indian National Congress. result, however, the largely illiterate electorate voted in the Congress Party, Imagine a political party claiming to led by the Italian-born, Roman Catholic represent all the people of Western Sonia Gandhi. The sight of her stepping Europe, from Greek-speaking Orthodox aside to make way for a Sikh economics Christians in Athens to Welsh-speaking professor, Dr Manmohan Singh, to be Catholics in Cardiff. The Indian sworn in as Prime Minister by a Muslim


nuclear scientist, President Abdul Kalam, in a country 81% Hindu, captured much of what holds India together, and suggests inspiring possibilities for communities comprised of diverse populations. Ever since its foundation, marked by the Treaties of Rome in 1957, the European Union has faced difficulties in sustaining enthusiasm for its overall project, best worded as a form of Pan-Europeanism. This ideology encompasses the thought that European citizens possess common social, political, economic and cultural norms, which supersede national divisions. The EU’s attempts to establish such a spirit among its 500 million population have missed their mark. Fifty-three years onwards, Euro-enthusiasts remain a minority. There was a time when the goal of fostering a lasting Pan-European sentiment did not seem so forlorn. Most Eastern European countries were keen to join the Union in the 1990s, specifically because of economic advantages. However, while these benefits were the driving force behind the desperate desire to be integrated, they were also linked with a developing sentiment of European pride, undoubtedly due to their very recent liberation from the USSR’s might. In contrast, now that many of these countries have acceded to the Union, support has wallowed. Even within candidate nations, general public shows ambiguity of opinion, as for instance, in Ukraine and Turkey. The problem has also become conspicuous in founder state countries as dramatically demonstrated by the rejection of the European Constitution by French and Dutch voters in 2005. Considered a rejection of the concept of the EU as a federal governing force, the voting stunned governments across the continent. In addition to both nations being EU founders, France is a main beneficiary of the Common Agricultural Policy, the greatest drain of the Union’s budget. In this light, such a drastic rejection seemed incomprehensible. The principal purpose of the European Constitution was to modernize

The EU and India: Bigger than the sum of their parts?

native speakers. Ethnicity provides an equally vacuous bond, since “the term Indian accommodates a diversity of racial types in which many Indians have more in common with foreigners than with other Indians”, a point well made by Shashi Tharoor, former UN undersecretary general, now India’s Minister of State for External Affairs. Religion, the founding basis for India’s neighbour Pakistan, was not a suitable glue either: while predominantly Hindu, India has large and very old Muslim,


image credit: flickr “European Parliament”

The EU and India: Bigger than the sum of their parts?

“Fifty-three years onwards, Euro-enthusiasts remain a minority.”


institutions to offer a better service to citizens. Powers were to become more centralized to ensure efficacy of decision-making. This undoubtedly surfaced fears of losing national identity and sovereignty to an apparently far removed and therefore unaccountable institution. Low levels of familiarity with the Union enhance this phenomenon. In the United Kingdom, Eurobarometer measured 83% claiming to know nothing or very little about the EU in 2009: national governments have failed to ensure sufficient public education about the EU’s workings and aims. In addition, smaller countries are increasingly worried that they will be dwarfed by greater economic powers and receive less than their share of benefits. The simultaneous

combination of member-state nationalism and lack of transparency resulted into the ‘Constitution’ deadend, lasting nearly a decade. The EU’s most symbolic acts of integration - the adoption of a common market and the opening of boundaries across the Schengen area- remain principally means of facilitating the freedom of trade and movement amongst member states. In other words, motivated by economics, rather than any celebration of European pride. Perhaps another symptom of this selfimposed illness is the inclusion in the European Parliament of parties critical of its very existence. image credit: flickr “wieland7”

It is natural that countries should want


A visit to the Commission buildings shows how the Union itself is crying for attention. Yet MEPs are unknown to the general public, and being sent to Brussels is sometimes considered political disgrace. Heads of state such as President Nicholas Sarkozy have been known to pressure disobedient ministers to run for EU parliamentary elections. More worryingly, only 43% of EU citizens support enlargement as opposed to 35% who are completely opposed to it, demonstrating a narrow view of what it means to be European. This may derive from the difficulty of member states to define their own nationality and come to terms with the fact that passports are shared within a plurality of ethnic origins. It is an attitude in contrast with the will of the EU institutions that, in a symbolic gesture, chose Istanbul as one of the cultural capitals of Europe in 2010. A solution may reside in publicising the European Union’s greatest successes in improving the day-to-day of its citizens, rather than placing the emphasis on its potential diplomatic weight abroad. Economic plans have allowed for lower prices and greater competitiveness; a trade-free zone enables a more efficient use of each country’s comparative advantages. A common health and safety

regulation eases the exchange of goods across countries, while freedom of movement has allowed for a more flexible and successful labour market. Schemes such as the ‘Erasmus’ university exchange, or more informal ‘learning’ from other member states, are undeniable benefits stealthily brought by the Union to its citizens. More importantly, the initial 1957 project has maintained its crucial goal: peace by intertwining economic interests and improving dialogue. Half a century later, this achievement is too often taken for granted. The idea of a pluralist democracy is powerful but fragile; Indians and Europeans alike would do well to guard it, for it will sustain both in the decades to come.

“National governments have failed to ensure sufficient public education about the EU’s workings and aims”

image credit: flickr “Ben Sutherland”

Siddharth George Marion Koob


The EU and India: Bigger than the sum of their parts?

to ensure that their sovereignty is not infringed upon. However, it is crucial that the concept of the EU become more popular. If enthusiasm can no longer be mustered, there is a chance that the European Union project will come to a standstill, or worse, become obsolete. National governments are ultimately accountable to their voters. If Euro-scepticism lives on, this will have to be brought in real terms onto the European scene. The EU is a noble enterprise, at the helm of common values and common economic interests. A united political stand on world affairs would by sheer force of economic weight, give much greater importance to member states’ demands. This will however not be possible if energy is wasted on constantly questioning the existence of the organization itself. The much needed improvements will also not come about unless it is clear that citizens are willing to see the EU thrive.


Enter Asia, Exit the West? In the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers collapse and in light of the emerging prominence of Asia- are beliefs in an imminent takeover of the West justified? This article tackles and refutes five specific generalisations heard in media and popular society to remind us of the fundamentals that drove the West to the position they are in today. 1. “There is a power shift - West to East”


t is still quite far-fetched to state that Asia will supplant the West Asia is still nowhere near the West in terms of economic and military development- the emergence of Asia will, at most, further enhance a multi-polar world.

Enter Asia, Exit the West?

Indeed the region has produced 30% of international economic production, but its GDP per capita remains only $5,800 compared to $48,000 in America. Even at the currently astounding rates of growth, the average Asian requires 77 years (or the Chinese 47 years and the Indian 123 years) to match the level of income per average American.


Asia also needs to jump the hurdles posed by its demographics. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), more than 20% of Asians will be seniors by 2050. Ageing already causes stagnation in Japan, for example, and will continue to affect the whole region as saving rates fall under rocketing healthcare and pension costs.

Additionally, Asia has to deal with serious environmental issues. Natural resources are depleting, pollution is worsening and a shortage of water developing. According to a World Bank Report entitled Cost of Pollution in China, 760,000 people die prematurely each year due to air and water pollution.

power, China will go through a long period of unpredictable transition and weak central governance, possibly even incurring lacklustre economic growth. Lastly, the possibility of geopolitical dominance from Asia seems uncertain because despite the augmenting

may seem Asia got it right. The growing hunger for material betterment in Asia appears to beat the greedridden American model or orthodoxy-dominated ways of Europe. Especially as the current financial crisis afflicts American and European strength, the unique way of conducting business in Asia gains attention.

“According to a World Bank Report entitled Cost of Pollution in China, 760,000 people die prematurely each year due to air and water pollution.” Furthermore, increased rates in military expenditure have been misleading. Research from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute shows that the combined spending of Asian countries on military in 2008 was only a third of what America spent, and will not match American expenditure for another 72 years.

hard power of an emerging economy and expanding military, soft power is lacking. The so-called Pax Americana does not only rely on economic and military might, but also promises of freetrade, Wilsonian Liberalism and multilateral institutions. The self-confidence being felt throughout Asia in their ‘newfound’ industrial revolution does not seem Not to mention political to uphold the same kind of stability still remains leadership and inspiration as extremely volatile in Asia. the West. Rising inequality and pervasive corruption in 2. “Capitalism in Asia is different - it is more China continue to drive dynamic” social unrest and hamper economic development. In a complimentary knitting Even if democracy pushes together of state intervention the Communist party out of and corporate mentality, it


image credit: flickr “neonmarg”

Although state intervention is more frequent and encompassing in Asia, the World Bank study, East Asian Miracle, was unable to conclude it accounted for economic success. Furthermore, despite structures of familycontrolled conglomerates and state-owned enterprises enabling businesses to evade the short-term obstacles of Western companies- business also become less accountable, less transparent, and less innovative. Third, the high savings rate has helped spur economic growth. However, sympathy is needed because the reason behind such ridi-

still remains, as in the same year Americans were awarded 92,000 patents- twice the combined total received by South Koreans and the Although Asian economies, Japanese, according to the with the exception of Japan, IFI Patent Intelligence. are of the fastest growing, there is little evidence that Asia is also behind the West a magically successful form in higher education and of capitalism exists in Asia. research. To start, none of the On the contrary, we see the world’s top 10 universities mundane truth of benefits are in Asia. Throughout from free trade, market the last three decades, reforms and economic only eight Asians, seven of integration. The relative them Japanese, have won a backwardness of Asia is Nobel Prize in sciences. The why we see such rapid stereotype of numerically developments, each country advantaged Asians is starts from a much lower exaggerated. Misleading base. figures, such as 600,000 and 350,000 graduates with 3. “Good in sciences - Asia engineering majors each will take over innovation year in China and India A study conducted by the respectively compare to BCG firm and National America’s 70,000- but do not Association of Manufacturers take into account that half of in March 2009 ranked China’s graduates and twoAmerica eighth behind thirds of India’s engineers Singapore, South Korea, and only have associate degrees. Switzerland for innovation. 8,731 U.S. patents were Lastly, Asians are not seen awarded to South Koreans as employable as equally in 2008, compared to only qualified Americans. A 13 in 1978. The Japanese 2005 study by the McKinsey received nearly 37,000 in Global Institute, for example, 2008. However, a big gap found that human resource managers in Multi-National Coorperations consider only 10% of Chinese engineers and 25% of Indian engineers as just ‘employable’ compared to the 81% of Americans.

image credit: flickr “Ed-meister”

4. “Autocratic regime type in Asia has helped them develop China again stands out as the perfect example of how a one-party state has lead to economic success. However, let us not forget the history behind what is happening in China today. China under Mao is infamous for creating the world’s worst famine. Only when the Middle Kingdom emerged from its self-imposed turtle-shell and

opened to the world economy did China experience economic growth, leaving behind totalitarian rule in 1978. Other autocracies, such as Myanmar, North Korea, Laos, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and the Philippines under Marcos do not have the same success.

likelihood is that selfcorrecting mechanisms in the American political economy will enable the United States to recover from setbacks some now perceive as the turning point of an American hegemonic decline.

People in the West might consider themselves as Authoritarian rule does witnesses to a decline of not offer long-lasting American influence in Asia, contributions to economic but many Asians do not. In

“The West should see Asia’s rise as one that brings opportunities rather than threats.” growth. In fact, China’s greater growth occured after 1978, as brutality on limiting individual liberty and economic rights decreased. Government policies throughout the region underwent adjustment to encourage infrastructural investment, conservative macroeconomic management, higher savings, and more exports. What dictatorships do is conceal the problems they create while democracy excels at advertising its flaws. So the belief that autocracy in Asia has helped them is, at best, an optical illusion. 5. “America isn’t like before - they are losing influence in Asia” The United States is looking weaker by the day: fighting two wars, crippled by economic recession and suffering from domestic partisan politics. Furthermore, their level of influence in Asia has been hampered by an increasingly self-confident China. The recent withdrawl of Google, one of America’s finest, in the face of a relentless Chinese government fuel such allegations. However, it is still premature to argue that American geopolitical influence is in decline. The


a Chicago Council’s survey, 69% of Chinese, 75% of Indonesians, 76% of South Koreans and 79% of Japanese say America is not losing its influence, on the contrary, they consider it to have risen in the region over the past decade. With polarized historical and cultural differences and intense provocations over territorial issues, elites in Asia will continue to count on Uncle Sam to keep a watchful eye on ‘aggressors’, especially to keep a swelling China at bay. Meanwhile, the West should see Asia’s rise as one that brings opportunities rather than threats. Although Asia has become a pillar of the international system, the lack of cohesiveness and internal fissures in Asia should give the West more than enough time to get their own houses in order without being worried over the ‘friend or foe’ question just yet.

Joseph Tam

Enter Asia, Exit the West?

culous savings rate is the inadequate social safety nets installed by the governments.



The Man Booker Prize

fifty-four member states of the Commonwealth, all but two of which were formerly part of the British Empire. In spite of its origins, the Commonwealth is no longer a political union; it is an intergovernmental The prestige, politics and economics of the Man organisation through which Booker prize for literature are discussed with the countries of varied social, Chairman of the judging panel- our very own political and economic Howard Davies. backgrounds are united in the promotion of such he Man Booker Prize language prize for fiction, common goals as democracy has had an eclectic renowned for plucking its and human rights. ten years. Its winning little-known winners from authors have hailed of diverse their literary niches and Also beholden to general corners of the globe; its thrusting them into the questions of relevance, the triumphal tomes chronicled international limelight. It Commonwealth has been contemporary Texan witch chooses its frontrunners from criticised as a participation hunts, the social neuroses of Ireland, Zimbabwe and the prerequisite for the Man post-apartheid South Africa, the bloody feuds and broody “The Man Booker is an English language patronages of the family prize for fiction, renowned for plucking its Tudor. little-known winners from their literary nich-


The Man Booker Prize

The Man Booker is an English


es and thrusting them into the international limelight.”

Booker Prize. Now a largely symbolic gesture, the Commonwealth is aimed to preserve a cultural and historical legacy. One can’t help but ask how effectively this has been enacted given that the Commonwealth Games, the organization’s most visible activity, is generally seen as no more than an inordinately showy Olympic training exercise. Is it any more relevant, then, as an exclusionary measure, encompassing the entirety of the Anglosphere, save the USA? The “Commonwealth” is certainly convenient for the purposes of demarcating the English-speaking world. But what of the exemption of its chieftain, the United States of America? Howard Davies, Director of the London School of Economics and

2. “Capitalism in Asia is different - it is more dynamic”

image credit: flickr “loozrboi”


So the entry criteria’s minusAmerica clause is meant to ensure inclusivity for nonAmerican English literature given a glut of American belles lettres and book prizes. Is there any artistic rationale for keeping the two ilk separate? Are there fundamental differences between “Commonwealth

literature” and its American counterpart? Are Man Booker nominees all reflective of a shared imperial experience? Do they partake of certain sensibilities, vestigial of years upon years of jolly old English influence? Or are we needlessly dwelling on the dull business of politics?

sets Man Booker apart from other literary prizes is not its politics, but its economics. It is “done properly”— vast cash reserves afford it the attentions of a great many publishing houses, the luxury of careful management, and the means to ensure that its judges have ample time to evaluate submissions Despite scrutiny of scrupulously. Hence the the Commonwealth’s quality of its winners is high. significance, the Man Booker is without doubt a prize of The process, says Davies,

on the Man Booker website, Hilary Mantel elicits that the historical genre is “often tagged as downmarket”, though the success of Wolf Hall is perhaps evidence that the Man Booker has the ability to reinvent entire genres. A genre can be taken more seriously once given this award, making the Man Booker almost a brand in the same way that Nobel is to peace-mongers or Saatchi is to art-lovers.

“The process, says Davies, is a search for something timeless, not necessarily timely.”

A look at the past ten years of Booker gives ample evidence of the winning works’ eternal quality. The 2002 winner, Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi, bounds between epochs; J.M. Coetzee took two awards 15 years apart for opuses on the same subject, post-Apartheid South Africa. In 2007, Davies’ committee singled

deserved prestige. Surely, on some level, the artistic integrity of the accolade overrides any debates that might ensue about its nuts and bolts. Indeed, according to Howard Davies, what

is a search for something timeless, not necessarily timely. The prize doesn’t unavoidably follow the trends but has the capability, the cultural clout, to set them. In a recent interview available


and Political Science and 2007 Chairman of the Man Booker Committee, opines that the prize proscribes American literature because of the risk that otherwise deserving Commonwealth winners would be eclipsed by a great mass: “If you ended up playing into the American literary scene you’d get lost,” he elicited in an afternoon meeting in his book-lined office at the LSE. “You wouldn’t be noticed.”

“According to Howard Davies,What sets Man Booker apart from other literary prizes is not its politics, but its economics.” image credit: Veronique Mizgailo (LSE)

out for the distinction “The Gathering”, an Irish novel that speaks with a much more totalizing tone than more timely works submitted that year, like The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. While Man Booker

does not discriminate against the current, it is neither a necessity, altogether giving the judges reign to choose the best book in any given year. Even if it is a purely literary prize – and for all intents and purposes, it appears to be – it

must at least be noted that any prize whose head judge can hail from the London School of Economics and Political Science must have at least a rapport with the political sphere. These links aside, while Man Booker

has debatably relevant participation criteria it has certainly carved its niche in the literary world as an honourthat will endure for many years to come.

The Man Booker Prize 2010 Longlist will be published in July 2010. For more information go to

Sandra Smiley


The Man Booker Prize

Francesca Washtell


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