Idealists believe a borderless world is a better world. Pragmatists recognize that there are no good or bad boundaries, they are just conventions that allow for more civil relations between different peoples. Over time, it seems the more we wish to get rid of borders, the more they crop up.
The borders drawn up at the end of World War I in what was left of the Ottoman Empire have often been accused of being arbitrary. Islamists, however, see them as a colonial imposition that must be rectified.
European nations have relatively homogenous populations within their borders, and this has been a source of stability. But homogeneity often came at a horrific price. And not all nations have managed to complete the process.
While many are concerned with territorial disputes in Southeast Asia, the fact that China is quietly expanding its presence westward often goes unnoticed. Beijing has now become a huge player in Central Asia’s Great Game.
War is stupid and treaties are boring. Unfortunately, that’s how borders are usually drawn. Throughout history, a handful of visionaries have refused this tyranny of blood and ink, and dreamed of borders
that would make the world a better place.
The upcoming NATO Summit must deal with a growing constellation of global disarray, from Ukraine on its eastern edge to Syria and Iraq on the southern border. Otherwise NATO will fade into irrelevance.
In recent years sovereign debt crises have posed a number of dilemmas. As a result, the IMF and various central banks have come up with an array of approaches to governing them.
Competitiveness is essential for Italian businesses to overcome the current stagnation in the economy. Encouraging venture capital into the markets is one of the most effective methods.
The EU countries on the periphery of the eurozone might be as rewarding as they are risky. With their economies adapting to required standards, they can benefit from both access to the world’s biggest market and independent monetary policy.
Jeff Bezos tracing new directions
Amazon started by selling books. Now the publishing industry will never be the same. As the company pursues its founder’s vision and expands in various directions, look for innovations and attendant disruptions to increase.
Rather than “reach out and touch someone,” the new Amazon Fire Phone is urging its potential owners to reach out and buy something – cheaper. Retail may never be same again.
Much as the postal service combined with new means of transportation, Amazon’s foray into same-day delivery may mark the beginning of an era that will set our skies abuzz.
The history of banking has long dealt with the issue of usury. In Islamic banking the general rule is that all parties concerned in the transaction must share some of the risk. Over time, many ingenious ways of circumventing the proscription against interest have been devised.
Islamic finance is blossoming in Western countries. Since the economic crisis, sharia-compliant strategies have come to be seen as ethical and less risky approaches that in many respects go back to the fundamentals.
The Middle East is not unfamiliar with territorial disputes. For the past 60 years the borders between Jews and Arabs have been the cause of wars. Now the entire region seems to be redrawing its boundaries.
The next frontier of Chinese economic growth could come in part from a much needed effort to curtail the pollution in its major cities and make residential buildings on the whole greener.