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The Stakes are Higher for the US in the Transatlantic Trade Deal

Red Hook Container Terminal, Brooklyn
Red Hook Container Terminal, Brooklyn. Photo: Barry Yanowitz/Flickr.

The launching of the EU-US trade and investment agreement negotiations could be the best news coming out of the West for a very long time. If there is something for which the EU leaders will wait anxiously in President Obama‘s State of the Union address in early February, it is a green light for the process to begin. Given the depth of the eurozone crisis, the widespread understanding has been that it is the US who will be giving Europe a much-needed boost of confidence and morale. In reality, however, President Obama has higher political and economic stakes in getting the round started. It is not without a reason that his economic policy advisor speaks of sealing the deal on „one tank of gas“.

An important reason is that the US trade policy is in tatters and urgently needs to be revived in the current presidential term. The domestic political consensus has moved anti-trade almost to the point of no-return. The Democrats are ready to crucify anybody who says trade is good for the country. The Republicans are more open but in their perception there are free riders such as China who are abusing the system and need to be punished. Hence the threat of naming China a currency manipulator which was key part of Mitt Romney’s armoury in the presidentials.

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Smart Defense: A Eurosubmarine

Trafalgar Class submarine SSN (Ship Submersible Nuclear) HMS Triumph. Photo: Ben Sutton/UK Ministry of Defence

Amidst the financial crisis, European nations have attempted to consolidate resources to tailor their defense capabilities to more efficiently meet the emerging security challenges. Cooperation has become the buzz-word in Europe, with the EU’s Pooling and Sharing Initiative and NATO’s Smart Defense both emphasizing the notion of “doing more with less.” In his opening remarks at the NATO Defense Minister’s meetings in October, Secretary General Rasmussen outlined more multinational teamwork as the solution to spending scarce resources more effectively. On NATO’s Industry Day, he called for industry to propose multinational solutions, instead of individual ones. Yet despite the high level guidance, effective cooperation on long-term capabilities remains elusive.

Albeit long-term capabilities pose significant challenges, cooperation on them is not implausible. The British ballistic nuclear submarine fleet is in need of replacement, and France’s fleet will soon follow course. In today’s resource-scarce and cooperation-prone environment, their futures could converge into a single co-produced platform. This “Eurosubmarine” might initially be designed to fully replace each nations fleet in an economical way, but if the political climate changes, it could emerge as a shared platform, housing two sovereign sets of nuclear missiles, or even as a joint European nuclear deterrent.

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The Imperial Dream of the Muslim Brotherhood

Pro-Mursi groups and Muslim Brotherhood militias attack anti-Morsi protestors at the presidential palace in Egypt.

The end will justify the means to unite the Islamic peoples into a world of virtue and prosperity to where the Muslim Brotherhood says that it will bring them. Egypt is their launching platform. The entire Islamic world is their objective.

If they were running for office in the United States or any European country on their economic platform of job creation, the sanctity of private property, and a social safety net, they will likely win. It all sounds perfect. Then, you learn that you have just voted for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Members of the movement come from the upper levels of Egyptian society. They are the businessmen, doctors, university professors, military officers, and other professionals. Over their eighty four year history, they have infiltrated every area of government, education, and industry.

If its economic policies are all there is about the movement, it would pose no threat in the public mind. What does frighten so many is the secrecy that shields the organization from scrutiny and the negative propaganda spread by worried authoritarian regimes. Under such circumstances, it is understandable that the attacks by various governments would have forced the Brotherhood to protect itself beneath a cloak of secrecy.

They have grown in societies that are authoritarian, corrupt, and have shown little inclination to invest in the development of the society. Saudi Arabia has a quarter of its youth unemployed in spite of the wealth generated by the vast oil resources. Beyond the petroleum industry, the Kingdom has done little to expand its economy in order to absorb the coming generation: and that is true of most of the region where sixty-five percent of the population is under the age of twenty-nine years.

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Conflict

Stormy Waters? The Maritime Border Disputes between Bolivia, Chile and Peru

Map of the maritime claims of Ecuador, Peru, and surrounding countries. Source: Political Geography Now via Wikimedia Commons

International boundaries are often blurred by the processes of globalization, but in South America some maritime borders remain contested. For instance, Chile and Peru, neighbors that have enjoyed sustained economic development over the past few years, remain at odds over approximately 38,000 square kilometers of sea located along their maritime border.

Bilateral negotiations between the two countries were first held in 1980 but no agreement was reached. In 2008, Peru took the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which, in turn, considered the issue at a public hearing in December 2012. The ICJ is expected to make a ruling on the dispute in mid-2013.

In the meantime, Peru continues to argue that the maritime border has not yet been defined by any agreement, with documents signed in the 1950s only relating to access to fishing grounds.  Lima also claims that maritime limits should run diagonally south-west from the land border.

المياه العاصفة؟ النزاع على الحدود البحرية بين بوليفيا، شيلي، وبيرو

Map of the maritime claims of Ecuador, Peru, and surrounding countries. Source: Political Geography Now via Wikimedia Commons

عادة ما تكون الحدود الدولية غير واضحة بموجب عمليات العولمة، لكن في أمريكا الجنوبية لا يزال هناك نزاع على الحدود البحرية. على سبيل المثال، شيلي وبيرو، جارتان يتمتعان بتنمية اقتصادية مستدامة على مدار السنوات القليلة الماضية، لا يزالان يتنازعان [بالعربية] على ما يقرب من 38,000 كيلو متر مربع من المياه الواقعة على طول حدودهما البحرية.[جميع الروابط بالإنجليزية والإسبانية ما لم يذكر غير ذلك]

بدأت المفاوضات الثنائية بين البلدين عام 1980 دون التوصل لاتفاق. في عام 2008، قدمت بيرو القضية إلى محكمة العدل الدولية [بالعربية] التي بدورها، درست القضية أمام لجنة استماع عامة في ديسمبر/ كانون الأول 2012. ومن المتوقع أن تعلن المحكمة الحكم في هذا النزاع منتصف العام الجاري 2013.