Global Domestic Policy: Wrong Approaches

EDITORIAL, 17 August 2009

#75 | Johan Galtung

The self-appointed Inter Action Council, IAC, chaired by German ex-Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (of US missile stationing fame) had its 27th Annual Meeting in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia 10-13 May, with 20 other former prime ministers and presidents, many right wing social democrats, attending.

They issued a Final Communique with a Present State of the World, and 58 Recommendations.  Even if this review is critical they deserve praise for launching an indispensable world dialogue on GDP; but other than their voices must also be heard:

Wrong:
  –many countries relapse into national egoism and various forms of protectionism.

Yes, 18 of the G20 countries already have.  All historical experience indicate that in crises, and to develop, local and national economic cycles, producing for own consumption and consuming own products, is the way, as practiced by Germany in the 19th century and by the USA 1850-1900.  Countries with excess production want unimpeded export and most of the countries at the IAC meeting are of that kind. Actually, to develop from a crisis local cycles may be even better than national cycles; not excluding global cycles for some products; but not as a general exporter-supporting ideology like the IAC does.

Wrong: Cooperative efforts are imperative if we are to fully resolve the financial crisis.

This is a system crisis not reducible to “financial crisis” or the moralistic “greed”.  A key factor is the asynchrony between rapid growth of the finance economy and sluggish, no or negative growth of the real economy.  A solid real economy could absorb excess liquidity for investment, without lapsing into unparalleled speculation.  We are now in the same situation with rapidly growing Dow Jones, spearheaded by Obama-supporting and Obama-supported Goldman Sachs; a singleminded focus on “financial crisis” will speed up the next crisis; keeping in mind that most of the world population is in permanent crisis anyhow.

Wrong: -the EU finds itself in a constitutional difficulty.

Obviously, but the IAC is wrong in not recommending the way out: an honest and public dialogue with No-voters to know their arguments, possibly address them, instead of all the tricks to sway the vote.

Wrong:  The only enduring solution to the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a two-state peace settlement–

The IAC praises, rightly, the stable peace in the EU.  But that peace is not between Germany and Luxembourg.  Peace is based on equity and presupposes balance.  Israel will dominate and manipulate any Palestine in a two states solution.  EU balanced Germany with five more in the Treaty of Rome; a Middle East Community with Israel and its five Arab neighbors, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine “based on previous UN resolutions and the borders of 1967” could do the same.

Wrong: Peace requires a readiness for compromise.

Yes, for lesser conflicts.  For the bigger ones creativity for some new reality, like the EU, is needed; not trivial compromises.

Wrong: The USA and Iran should stop provoking each other.

They do, but underlying it all is the US CIA-UK MI6 coup in 1953 against a legally elected prime minister–the IAC club of former prime ministers should be sensitive to such things–ushering in 25 YEARS Shah dictatorship.  The two perpetrators should acknowledge that– Obama has made a beginning–apologize, compensate, lift the boycott, have an open, public dialogue, and engage in cooperative projects between the major consumer of carbon fuels and a major producer, launching major alternative forms of energy conversion.

Wrong: The situation in Darfur and the Horn of Africa are destabilizing the whole continent.

Yes, colonialism drawing lines constructing a monstrosity like the Sudan, and EU countries stealing the fish and seafood resources of Somalia from 1991, with hunger, invasion, piracy, search for Islamic solutions, as consequences, are “destabilizing”.  But the basic point is that there is little stability in Africa worth keeping, “stability”, like “law and order” being status quo, conservative mantras.  Africa needs deep change, by peaceful means – and that is opposed mainly by those with a vested interest in “stability”.

Wrong: There is a continued need to alleviate banks and other financial institutions from the burdens of their toxic assets.

Banks mismanaging people’s trust because of ignorance and greed bordering on the criminal deserve the much praised punishment of the market: sink and die.  They are not too big to fail, they are too big to exist at all and constitute major world threats.  The US government should then intervene stopping foreclosures with non-toxic mortgages.

Wrong: The resources of the IMF and the World Bank should be increased.

Few institutions have contributed so much to the crisis for common people as these; through mechanisms like the ones detailed in John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hitman, and Susan George’s brilliant analyses. IMF-World Bank protect world upper class interests and does IAC, but adds “and these institutions should be reformed”. But like much language in the document silent about how, for/by whom.

Wrong:
Corruption and poor governance prevent advances in development.

They are problems, but more problematic is official development assistance, ODA; like colonialism proffered as efforts to raise colonies-LDCs, but in reality buying local elites for what always was the North project, with China as latecomer: to tap South of resources, using experts to promote export. Volker Seitz, Afrika wird armregiert oder wie man Afrika wirklich helpen kann, and Dambisa Moyo, Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working and How there is a Better Way for Africa help.

Wrong: Discussions should be initiated for a global role for Russia based on oil and gas supplies rather than strategic weapons.

To put that onus on Russia backfires.  The USA encircled Russia-China expanding NATO eastward and USA-Japan AMPO westward, with the grand chess game in Afghanistan played twice after the Soviets did, constructing a web of Russia and Islam free oil pipe lines.  Russia plays a global role with oil and gas within these limits; if those limits are wrong the mainly north-west oriented IAC should say so.

Wrong: Adequate and continued investment throughout the energy value   chain is essential for market stability.

Energy is basic to meet basic human needs, and carbon free energy profiles from various resources available everywhere, locally produced and affordable for all is the goal, not market stability for business.

Wrong:  The research and development of biofuels which do not compete with food production should be encouraged.

Wherever something can be grown to fuel cars something can also be grown to feed humans, using 3-dimensional agriculture, multi-cropping, new–or forgotten–plants and trees.  Instead the IAC should strongly warn against the present major investment, among them by Goldman Sachs, in enormous areas of land for beef and biofuel to feed rich people and their cars.

Wrong: Without carbon capture and storage-CCS-technology all is lost.

The best storage of CO2 is for food, pumping from factories directly into green houses as has been done for a long time in Japan. But the basic approach would be to cut down consumption, gradually outlawing carbon fuels for cars etc. and heating.  The hypocrisy of a country like Norway should be denounced, being active on CCS and at the same time exploring new oil fields and being no. 1 in the world in tons per capita per year when the production and transportation, not only consumption in Norway, are counted, like we do for drug chains.

Wrong:
  Assist production of simple solar cooking in Africa to discourage deforestation and cutting down trees for firewood.

Not wrong itself, and that cooker–based on a black sheet of paper, a used tire and window glass to provide an isolated chamber for cooking exists and is used.  But why not add “simple bicycle transportation” to make the moralism more balanced, not South only?

Wrong: The six power talks on North Korea should be resumed.

We need no more proof that they lead to nothing.  The issue is bilateral, between the USA and the DPRK, about a peace treaty and normalization with the USA, and nuclear weapons free Korean peninsula including US denuclearization. There is also the issue of compensation for the Japanese brutalization of the Korean peninsula from 1910, but that is also best settled bilaterally.

There are many others, like the inability to declare nuclear arms illegal and argue nuclear disarmament of all nuclear weapons, declared or non-declared, with deadlines and severe sanctions if there is no compliance. And solve the conflicts! – for heaven’s sake.

However,

Right:
Support the African Union and help it to interact with new trade partners on its own terms.

Africa being very resource rich could benefit immensely from South-South while also processing its resources. For one thousand years, from +500 to +1500 the world trade was globalized along an East-West axis, from China in the east to Turkey-Middle East-Horn of Africa in the west; by ship and Silk Road. The theory of development was buddhist and islamic.  But after that time the West conquered the western end of that very beneficial trade, first by the Portuguese who burnt Muslims alive in their mosques, then by England all over East Africa, the Arab peninsula, in India where they executed 50,000 for the Sepoy Uprising, and Southeast Asia, with the British East India Company as key actor.  Time has come to restore the Horn of Africa and others to the dignity and significance they once had, not by that disregarding other African states and the gains to be made from an opening to Latin America.  Of particular importance could be a bioceanic Central African Community of Uganda-Tanzania (with a Kenya better sorted out), Rwanda-Burundi and the two Congos (possibly with the Central African Republic, Gabon and Cameroun).*  Thanks, IAC!

*See 50 Years: 100 Peace & Conflict Perspectives, TRANSCEND University Press, 2008 – at www.transcend.org/tup.

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 17 August 2009.

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