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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A crisis of global leadership

Going by recent major events, there is a very high likelihood that we are headed for a dangerous vacuum in global leadership. That foreign policy did not figure at all in the last US mid term elections is as worrying as it is informative. The US is obviously in decline, both financially and militarily. And most importantly, the moral authority of the US was severely eroded in the Bush years–the years the locust ate.

China and Germany are awash with money and seem to be riding the global recession with ease. I am not sure German wealth can substitute for the holocaust. The repressive communist regime in China as well as China’s tolerance of corrupt and authoritarian regimes abroad is more than a little inconvenience. France and England have a colonial past that is hard to put behind.

The UN is incompetent beyond comprehension. Global terrorism, China’s flagrant abuse of human rights, the atrocities committed by the US in Guantanamo and the genocide in Dafur are clearly beyond Mr. Ban’s pay grade.

As the US turns inwards–thanks to the tea party revolution–there is evidently a seismic shift in global power. It is however unclear how this will shape out in the months to come. The world does not need another super power bully. Neither do we need another cold war type brinkmanship.

It is unlikely that the contention for global leadership will be sought through military armament. That era is in my opinion gone, never to return. Economic domination and financial power is the canvass upon which new global power geography will be projected.

The US is not down and out. The US economy could emerge from the recession even stronger; but only if the American voting public that to happen. The American public must learn and accept that the recovery is going to be jobless. Construction and financial sector markets will not return in the hundreds and the hundreds of US mediocre liberal arts schools must begin to produce skills that are needed by a new kind of job market.

For China to lead, it must begin to act more responsibly on the global stage. It must decouple its trade and foreign policy. China must stop abetting rogue governments in Africa. China must make its voice heard emphatically on Iran and North Korea. China must joint the global effort to find peaceful resolution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. China must speak out on the war against terror. It not enough to wait out the conflict in Afghanistan and then pick up all the re-construction work.

And China must let Tibet go.

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