Friday, April 30, 2010

Is Taiwan closer to China?

The death penaly was applied again in Taiwan.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What offer to the Middle East?

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) counting professionals with connections to the US military establishment published a couple of days ago a very interesting report regarding the possible and recommended security direction for a prospective Palestinian state.

Following the lessons learned from the analysis of three international peace missions - in East Timor, Kosovo and Lebanon - the authors are drafting the possibilities of creating a security environment in the Middle East, starting from the application of the two-state solution. An interesting proposal is to create a NATO-led military force, complemented by a civilian-led organism, able to handle political, governance and development matters.

NATO is assigned a big role in creating the premices for peace. but if at the military level this solution could be viable - given the long experience of the Alliance in dealing with difficult environments, from the political point of view, creating consensus for supporting a new mission - after the various discussions regarding the situation from Afghanistan would be more difficult.

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell is these days in the region with meeting scheduled with representatives of the the state of Israel and of the Palestinian authority. Since the beginning of this year, the political relations between Israel and US suffered several set-backs. In advance of the visit of the Washington representative, Israeli prime-minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed the standpoints expressed in his June 2009: the state of Israel needs the necessary security guarantees in order to accept the creation of a Palestinian state.

The optimism regarding the area must continue to be extremely moderated. But, in the same time, thinking about solutions and possibilities of implementation could open a door to a new level of the discussions. Given the failures of the last decades, any optimism is counter-productive if not a dangerous illusion.

Policies of aid

Recently, UN opened a website aiming to allow a better follow-up of the ways in which the aid for Haiti is directed and used. A good initiative, but it is only a start in order to offer a bigger transparency and, finally accountabiliy of the ways in which the financial support for countries in need is used - and, sometimes, abused.

The current policies of aid is often in center of debates contesting the lack of efficiency and the contribution in increasing corruption and poverty. The critiques are mostly referring to Africa, and one of the last references I´ve read recently is the book of Dambissa Moyo, Dead Aid. Why is not working and how there is another way for Africa.

There are many food for thought information and data regarding the desperate situation from Africa and the lack of consistency of the sustained Western effort in delivering lots of aids and financial incentives to the continent. And, very important, that you need to have a serious support and background in these efforts coming from the region, as the local ownership might be an incentive in creating responsibilities and increasing the efficiency in using the money. In other words, an "anti-colonialistic" and "anti-orientalistic" frame in reconsidering the Western perspectives on Africa, beyond the more or less "entertainement" frame where pop stars are promoting their social profiles using the poverty from the region as a paravan.

Some paradoxes, confirmed by the data used in the book, are rising various questions regarding the lack of efficiency of the last decades efforts directed to Africa - in comparison, for example, with the post-WWII Marshall Plan, for example. For example, between 1970 and 1998, when the aid flows to Africa were at their peak, the poverty rate rose from 11 to 66%. The continent became fully depend on the foreign aid: "Presenty, Africa receives development assistance worth almost 15% of its GDP - or more than four times the Marshall Plan at its high. Given Africa´s poor economic performance in the past fifty years,while billions of dollars of aid have poured in, it is hard to grasp how another swathe of billions will somehow turn Africa´s aid experience into one of success" (p.36). In addition, the system disfunctionalities apparently were nurtured by the foreign financial support, with rampant corruption, political instability and institutional vulnerabilities.

The books do not provide solution(s) and it is rather a general evaluation of the situation, focusing more on general examples than on a case-by-case analysis of the situation. In many respects, I felt the need of more information and reports and economic references. An interesting solution outlined, but not too much developed further is to use the policy of bond market, which I find a creative alternative, but in order to emit bonds, you need a reliable market, a case not very sure for many African countries. The final pledge for more creativity is welcomed, but in the case of political science, you need more stable elements in order to create long term perspectives for institutional and, not less important, economic development.

In fact, my feeling after reading this book was that I agreed with many ideas regarding the failure of the policies of aid and I had more insights about the scale of the lack of achievements, but I am still moving around understanding how it is possible to go beyond the current level of underdevelopment. Maybe an approach based on investigative journalism skills will reveal more about the scale of lack of success and, by identifyng clearly - and not only rhetorically - the main actors - will be possible to build up further reliable scripts for new perspective(s).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A future for Sudan?

Let's first see what are the prospects, according to the policy of Obama administration.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Something else about Iceland

Everybody is talking today about Iceland, after the transportation in at least half of Europe is completely blocked. Beyond these very pressing weather considerations, more and more frequent in our daily conversations as we could imagined, Iceland was mentioned frequently the last year in relation with the economic crisis, as a illustrative example of the failure of the illimited credit policy.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New airport security measures in the US

To be announced today, by president Obama, a consequence of the latest December incident.