As the Libyans embark on the post-Gaddafi phase of their history, it would be wise to avoid repeating our past mistakes. A legitimate framework needs to be constructed following a careful appraisal of successes and failures.
The anger of the world’s newly mobilized youth is being directed at governments that seem to have failed them and a financial industry that appears to be sabotaging their dreams. The problem is that however vague and impractical their demands, the solutions seem equally unattainable and obsolete.
Europe’s youth have taken to the streets and squares. Rather than aspiring to improve the democracies that are their birthright, they are declaring them bankrupt and in fact nurturing patently anti-democratic tendencies.
Fixing the economy will require increasing the capabilities of those entering the work force. To avoid saddling them with all the burden of debt will require opening up opportunities through freer markets.
Democracies are held hostage by demography. In the US, the aging Baby Boomers may need to impose their will on a freshly assimilated wave of newcomers.
When looked at from the perspective of two centuries, what seems like a disaster from the point of view of Western industrialized nations may just be a phase in which the rest of the world catches up.
Things haven’t gotten better. Now everyone agrees. But when the President says it too, it means there’s a good chance things will never improve.
While the motley discontents protesting against everything and anything can easily be dismissed for lack of coherence, they also compel us capitalists to re-examine the ethical spirit that laid the foundations for our prosperity.
The gas market heats up
Europe relies on gas, and the dependence is growing. But thanks to new technologies, this relatively cleaner fuel is becoming more available and cheaper.
Unconventional gas has changed the playing field when it comes to energy security worldwide. But much of Europe is stuck because of state-controlled monopolies and interstate regulatory squabbles. So the name of the game is more politics than security.
A combination of factors – new technology, fear of nuclear energy and climate change – has natural gas gaining in Europe’s energy mix. This shift in balance entails a number of worrisome implications in the geopolitical equilibrium.
The countries of the Caucasus Mountains, where Prometheus was chained to a rock, have been easy to overlook on the geostrategic chessboard. Now their position as bridge between empires is buttressed by natural resources.
The plight of Yulia Tymoshenko reflects not only Ukraine’s often absurd political maneuvers, but how her country’s position as gas transit point can affect Europe’s energy security.
The discovery of significant gas fields off the coast of Israel should make the country energy independent. But not only does this risk undermining its high-tech industry, it can easily become the pretext for another conflict with Lebanon.
Iran’s recent subsidy reform has been hailed by some analysts as a major success. While this may be the case in the short term, it will also increase Iran’s vulnerability not only to external pressures, but also to an ongoing internal power struggle.
Afghanistan’s transition from decades of war into a sustainable society with a functioning economy will need international cooperation. Fortunately there is a historical roadmap which connected nations that needed to traverse Central Asia’s ancient byways in order to trade.
The historical and strategic importance of the Silk Road for European trade has been embraced by Asian countries as a cornerstone to security as well as commerce.
The roads and cities of Central Asia have seen empires come and go, but through war and peace the human spirit has been driven to trade.
As the formerly underdeveloped countries have emerged and begun to take the reins of the global economy, their citizens have taken to the democratic tradition of resisting projects seen by local communities as a danger to their survival.
In the name of jobs, the US president has had to sacrifice his loftier promises about dealing with climate change, much to the dismay of those who hoped he would have an impact.