I disagree with Greenwald here.
I think “enhanced interrogations” are okay under some circumstances. I also think targeted killings of US citizens at the President’s command go too far and are illegal.
The president, by contrast, thinks “enhanced interrogations” are wrong, and is a-okay with targeted killings of US citizens.
Which position makes more sense?
Here at the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, European leaders are making the claim that the credibility of the G20 is at stake if G20 members don’t step and kick in to a US$430 billion International Monetary Fund to help Europe sort out its fiscal crisis. So far, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada will not contribute to such a fund. He believes that Europe has enough financial firepower of its own to deal with the euro crisis.
This morning, European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy held a press conference to make that claim — that they expect the G20, including Canada, to do its part to help Europe out of its mess.
During the question period, I put this question to those two gentlemen:
Why should North Americans risk their assets to help the largest and one of the wealthiest economic areas in the world? Shouldn’t IMF resources be used to help out developing countries and not the richest economic area in the world? What do you make of Prime Minister Harper’s contention that Europe has enough financial firepower on its own to deal with this crisis? …
Barroso: … By the way, this crisis was not originated in Europe. Since you mentioned North America, this crisis was originated in North America. And many of our financial sector were contaminated by – how can I put it? – unorthodox practice by some sectors of the financial market. But we are not putting the blame on our partners. What we are saying is let’s work together when we have a problem like the one we have today.
So, crushing austerity and the Euro, or total default and a new currency?
I think that’s the real choice facing Greece.
There’s also news from France, which popped up on the Greek election livestreams.
19.05 It’s become a sideshow to the Greek election, but France’s Socialists have won control of parliament. That gives Francois Hollande a convincing majority with which he can push through his tax-and-spend agenda.
1903: Election news from another eurozone state: Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party have won an absolute majority in the lower house of parliament, on the basis of exit polls. This should strengthen Mr Hollande’s hand in pushing for growth action in the EU.
One man’s meat is another man’s poison.
I’d forgotten that Sunday is election day in Greece.
One interesting thing: here’s a Greek economist on why he’s backing (and advising) Syriza.
And Germany is telling Greece it can’t change the bailout terms.
Mind you, I think the economist, Yanis Varousfakis, has a point: Greece CAN just say, we’re not taking the money and we’re not making the payments. Greece already did an 80% default — it can do a 100% one…
So, the Greek coalition negotiations are collapsing, and the anti-austerity party is expected to make gains come the re-vote in June.
Tsipras, however, stuck to his position, insisting that supporting a pro-bailout government would be a betrayal of his pre-election platform.
“After today’s meeting it is obvious they are demanding that Syriza become an accessory to a crime,” he said after the discussions with the president. “In the name of democracy, of our patriotic duty, we cannot accept this shared guilt. We call on all Greeks to condemn once and for all the forces of the past and to realize that only one hope remains: unity against blackmail in order to prevent the continuing barbarity.
“Fellow Greeks, we can assure you of one thing: we will not betray you.”
Tsipras will also have his eye on recent opinion polls which show his party would gain strength if Greeks go to the ballot box again next month.
A poll published by To Vima newspaper Sunday indicated Syriza would come first in new elections with 20.5 per cent of the vote — less than the 28 per cent an earlier opinion poll published Thursday gave him, but still well ahead of New Democracy. Although it would not be enough to form a government, it would put him in the dominant position to form a coalition with smaller anti-bailout parties.
Where does that leave us? Well, there’s the Krugman scenario:
1. Greek euro exit, very possibly next month.
2. Huge withdrawals from Spanish and Italian banks, as depositors try to move their money to Germany.
3a. Maybe, just possibly, de facto controls, with banks forbidden to transfer deposits out of country and limits on cash withdrawals.
3b. Alternatively, or maybe in tandem, huge draws on ECB credit to keep the banks from collapsing.
4a. Germany has a choice. Accept huge indirect public claims on Italy and Spain, plus a drastic revision of strategy — basically, to give Spain in particular any hope you need both guarantees on its debt to hold borrowing costs down and a higher eurozone inflation target to make relative price adjustment possible; or:
4b. End of the euro.
And we’re talking about months, not years, for this to play out.
But its time may have come.
Update: What does history tell us? Well, prepare for soldiers with guns on the street. And surprise moves, in order to defeat market adjustments.
Anyway, fun times.
Happy New Year, dear readers!
I am writing this from my Vector Linux box, that old Dell Inspiron 2200 from 2002 — it’s still working.
Just now, my regular laptop is burning system restore DVDs, after which it will be all re-done afresh — a new beginning for the new-ish laptop in the new year.
But I’ve been thinking some about the state of things, and renewal, and all that.
The Mail has quite a depressing article about the potential for trouble in 2012 — it could be the worst year since 1932, they say.
I tend to agree with them — the world is in a tough time, and it’s possible or even likely that there’ll be the temptation to engage in political experiments over the next decade. Possibly even political experiments as disastrous as those that came in the 1930s.
But although ideas have terrific and terrible consequences, political culture does tell. The ideas of socialism in Russia brought the Soviet Union and the Great Terror; those same ideas in Britain, Canada, and America brought the Welfare State and the social safety net, and battles to erect them and remove bad elements of them have been — and will be — fought at the ballot box and on the floors of our respective legislative chambers.
So I do not expect terrible things to develop in the English-speaking liberal democratic world — times will be tough, sure, but we’ll get by. I’m more interested in (and fearful of) how things will develop in the rest of the world.
We’re living in interesting times — 2012 may be a significant year.
Update: Lots of photos here.
As ever, the rioters look like perfectly “nice” middle-class people.
Riots happen because they’re FUN. You have to put it down by force, or people will continue to riot. That’s just kind of how it goes.
Update again: Lots of stories here.
I actually thought of that old LBJ quote when I read this article:
Netanyahu beat Obama like a red-headed stepchild; he played him like a fiddle; he pounded him like a big brass drum. The Prime Minister of Israel danced rings around his arrogant, professorial opponent. It was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters go up against the junior squad from Miss Porter’s School; like watching Harvard play Texas A&M, like watching Bambi meet Godzilla — or Bill Clinton run against Bob Dole.
The Prime Minister mopped the floor with our guy. Obama made his ’67 speech; Bibi ripped him to shreds. Obama goes to AIPAC, nervous, off-balance, backing and filling. Then Bibi drops the C-Bomb, demonstrating to the whole world that the Prime Minister of Israel has substantially more support in both the House and the Senate than the President of the United States.
President Obama’s new Middle East policy, intended to liquidate the wreckage resulting from his old policy and get the President somehow onto firmer ground, lies in ruins even before it could be launched. He had dropped the George Mitchell approach, refused to lay out his own set of parameters for settling the conflict, and accepted some important Israeli red lines — but for some reason he chose not to follow through with the logic of these decisions and offer Netanyahu a reset button.
I haven’t got too much use for my second country’s current president, but I’m not sure I like the implications of this.
Anyway, it seems worth having a look at the two speeches that bookended this little contretemps.
When a foreign leader is said by a respected foreign policy analyst to have beaten the president of the United States “like a red-headed step-child”, something is deeply amiss in Washington DC.
Update: I’m watching Netanyahu’s speech — wow, does he ever know how to talk to Americans.
And in the speech, he hugs the president ever closer.
Now, as to whether the policy he’s pushing will, in the long-term, be successful — well, that can be judged only by historians.
Update again: Krauthammer –
Every Arab-Israeli negotiation contains a fundamental asymmetry: Israel gives up land, which is tangible; the Arabs make promises, which are ephemeral. The long-standing American solution has been to nonetheless urge Israel to take risks for peace while America balances things by giving assurances of U.S. support for Israel’s security and diplomatic needs.
It’s on the basis of such solemn assurances that Israel undertook, for example, the Gaza withdrawal. In order to mitigate this risk, President George W. Bush gave a written commitment that America supported Israel absorbing major settlement blocs in any peace agreement, opposed any return to the 1967 lines and stood firm against the so-called Palestinian right of return to Israel.
For 2 1/2 years, the Obama administration has refused to recognize and reaffirm these assurances. Then last week in his State Department speech, President Obama definitively trashed them. He declared that the Arab-Israeli conflict should indeed be resolved along “the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”
Nothing new here, said Obama three days later. “By definition, it means that the parties themselves — Israelis and Palestinians — will negotiate a border that is different” from 1967.
It means nothing of the sort. “Mutually” means both parties have to agree. And if one side doesn’t? Then, by definition, you’re back to the 1967 lines.
Nor is this merely a theoretical proposition. Three times the Palestinians have been offered exactly that formula, 1967 plus swaps — at Camp David 2000, Taba 2001, and the 2008 Olmert-Abbas negotiations. Every time, the Palestinians said no and walked away.
And that remains their position today: The 1967 lines. Period. Indeed, in September the Palestinians are going to the United Nations to get the world to ratify precisely that — a Palestinian state on the ’67 lines. No swaps.
Note how Obama has undermined Israel’s negotiating position. He is demanding that Israel go into peace talks having already forfeited its claim to the territory won in the ’67 war — its only bargaining chip. Remember: That ’67 line runs right through Jerusalem. Thus the starting point of negotiations would be that the Western Wall and even Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter are Palestinian — alien territory for which Israel must now bargain.
The very idea that Judaism’s holiest shrine is alien or that Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter is rightfully or historically or demographically Arab is an absurdity. And the idea that, in order to retain them, Israel has to give up parts of itself is a travesty.
Well, that’s where we’re at. Israel will refuse to give up Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, and there probably won’t be peace.