Monday, November 29, 2004

Behind the scenes at Kiev's rally - BBC

Ukraine's non-stop political rally in Kiev's main square is becoming something close to a state within a state.
It has a population of hundreds of thousands, leaders and a flag.
There is no need for currency, because everything from food to clothing and medication is free.
On Sunday, a map was issued under the title: "Free Territory".
It shows the main buildings around the square where demonstrators can get information, eat, drink, go to the toilet or doss down for the night.
Loudspeakers blast
If the territory were to have a name, it should probably be Maidan, after the Ukrainian for Independence Square - Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
A slogan sometimes blasted from the loudspeakers is: "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Maidan! Glory to Yushchenko!"

In the first days of the rally, messages were broadcast from loudspeakers telling demonstrators that they could re-charge their mobile phones in such-and-such a building, or calling for volunteers to unload mattresses or felt boots from a lorry.
In the same way, they recruited electricians and plumbers to get their buildings into shape.
Now activists say the operation has become more slick.
One of the key Maidan nerve centres is the former Lenin Museum. Goods donated by well-wishers are collected and distributed here, while food is cooked and served.
It is run by several commandants, working in shifts, backed up by numerous co-ordinators and has thousands of visitors each day.
The timetable is as follows:
0800 - Wake up
0800-1000 - Breakfast
0930 - Announcement of programme for the day
1000-1400 - Cleaning (building closed)
1400-1700 - Lunch
1700-1800 - Cleaning (building closed)
2000-2200 - Dinner
0000 - Lights out
One of the services on offer is an accommodation agency. Sympathisers call up to offer rooms for the night, and demonstrators in search of shelter are put in touch with them.

Food is given to demonstrators free of charge in Kiev's main street. The tent village strung out at various points along the city's famous main street, the Khreshchatyk, is only for the most die-hard protesters.
This is partly because it is cold - one night it was -10C - and partly because there is a fear that the police could storm the camp and disperse or arrest its inhabitants.
One of the deputy commandants of the tent village outside the main post office, 21-year-old law student Natalia Tkachuk, says that despite the discomforts she will not leave until victory has been attained.
Student protest
"My father agrees that we have to struggle for democracy but my mother cries constantly and appeals to me to come back," she says.

Natalia's mother has pleaded with her to come home from the rally"She tries to stop me leaving home - but there is nothing that could stop me."
Natalia is the deputy leader for the Kiev region of a student protest group called Pora, modelled on the Serbian group Otpor, which played a key role in the ousting of Slobodan Milosevic.
In spring she attended lectures in Kiev by Otpor leader Alexander Maric.
On the coldest nights, Natalia says, she and her friends dress each other in coat after coat, until they resemble mummies.
Despite the success in organising essential services, chaos still reigns in some areas.

The former Lenin Museum is a place for activists to relax and sleep. The huge numbers of people in the tent camps were uncontrollable for a time, Natalia says, though administration is now improving.
The Trade Union building on the Maidan, used as an a campaign headquarters, is still completely swamped with people at some times of day.
Leaders of groups arriving from villages and towns across the country have to register here for meal tickets. They surge up and down a narrow staircase shoulder to shoulder and cheek by jowl, frequently getting jammed solid.
"Honestly, we were not ready for this," says Anatoly Kobylyatsky, who describes himself as an activist as well as a journalist with the Pravda Ukraini newspaper.
"We were expecting 30,000 or 40,000 and we got 10 or 20 times as many."

Chile torture victims win payout - BBC

Chile torture victims win payout
By Clinton Porteous
BBC correspondent, Santiago

Some 28,000 Chileans abused under the military regime of Augusto Pinochet are eligible for compensation, the nation's first-ever torture report says.

The study lists 18 major types of torture, including suffocation, electric shocks and repeated beatings.

Many of the crimes were carried out by the Chilean army and police and about 3,400 victims were women.

The long-awaited torture report and compensation plan were presented on Sunday by President Ricardo Lagos.

He said nothing could make up for what the victims had suffered - but he offered a life-long pension worth about $190 a month.

Mr Lagos said the sweeping document demonstrated that torture and detention had been an institutional practice for the Chilean state between 1973 and 1990.

He said many thousands had suffered in silence but had finally come forward to tell their story.

Gen Pinochet has never faced trial. But a Chilean judge is due to decide in the next two weeks if he is mentally fit to defend himself against allegations of human rights abuses.

Knock on the door

The report is based on the testimonies of torture victims to a government commission.

1973: Leads coup against President Salvador Allende
1988: Loses plebiscite on rule
1990: Steps down as president
1998: Retires as army commander-in-chief. Arrested in UK at Spain's request
2000: Allowed to return to Chile
2004: Supreme Court strips his legal immunity

The document says many victims were arrested from their homes in the middle of the night and taken to one of 800 detention centres.

It says one favourite tactic was to force detainees to watch other prisoners being tortured or even killed.

Some 12% of the torture victims were women and almost all of them said they had suffered sexual abuse.

The victims included children and 88 of those detained were 12 years or younger.

The report concluded that aside from broken bones and injuries, most of the suffering was psychological.

The personal files of the torture victims will remain secret for the next 50 years unless individuals choose to release them.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The measurement of non-violence

Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology
2002, Vol. 8, No. 4, Pages 343-354 (doi:10.1207/S15327949PAC0804_03) The Measurement of Nonviolence: A Review
Daniel M. Mayton II
Department of Psychology, Lewis-Clark State CollegeSilvia Susnjic
Teachers College, Columbia UniversityB. James Palmer
Fall Church, VirginiaDanya J. Peters
Social Psychology Program, University of Nevada, RenoRichard Gierth
School of Law, Seattle UniversityRosalie N. Caswell
Clinical Psychology Program, Eastern Washington University
Nonviolence provides a means for conflict resolution without the negative effects of violence or aggression. Given the potential benefits of its application, several instruments have been developed to measure nonviolent dispositions. This article reviews the measures, which were identified via computer searches of the Psychological Abstracts database. The Pacifism Scale (Elliott, 1980), the Gandhian Personality Scale (Hasan & Khan, 1983), Nonviolence Test (Kool & Sen, 1984), Multidimensional Scales of Nonviolence (Johnson et al, 1998), and the Teenage Nonviolence Test (Mayton, Weedman, Sonnen, Grubb, & Hirose, 1999) were found to assess nonviolence. The review makes recommendations for the use of these measures in peace psychology research.
Printable PDF (57 KB)
PDF with links (58 KB)

Introduction to Bertrand Russell's Power: A New Social Analysis - Samuel Brittan

A large part of this book is concerned with the classification of different sources of power:- such as priestly, kingly, revolutionary or economic power. Russell's aim is to investigate how we can enjoy the advantages of state power, to prevent the Hobbesian war of all against all, while taming its excesses. Few people will go to Russell for illumination on economic matters. But even here he provides a healthy reminder that the right to ownership is ultimately based on violence, or if you like, legitimate violence. This is something that mainstream economists, in their absorption with soluble models, are in danger not so much in disputing as of overlooking. A little bit of political economy might have helped Russell in his prime object of analysing power. In a competitive free enterprise democracy a wealthy man has the power to obtain a goat if he wishes. Power in this sense is virtually synonymous with wealth. But he cannot force a particular human being to hand over a particular animal. He must go to the market place and find a willing seller. There is here a vital difference between power over commodities and power over human beings. As Keynes put it at the end of his General Theory (which appeared in 1936): it is better that a rich man should tyrannise over his bank balance than over his fellow men. Russell nearly arrives at this point when he states that oligarchies of the rich have on the whole been enlightened and astute, citing in particular the Republic of Venice. "Money made in commerce is made by cleverness which is not dictatorial, and this characteristic is displayed by governments composed by successful merchants." But he then throws the argument away by moving over to the modern industrial magnate, supposedly leading armies of employees who need to be coerced. Russell was influenced by the widespread belief in the 1930s that the way ahead in capitalist countries was through larger and larger business trusts and that technology and nationalism were eroding old fashioned competition. Writing when he did he had more excuse than today's anti-globalisers, who have failed to appreciate the half century of increased competition and the erosion of barriers to international trade in the aftermath of World War Two. Like Hobbes, Russell is convinced that political force is required to protect people from tearing each other to pieces; but unlike him he regards the best bet as democracy. He is not starry-eyed about it and disputes the now fashionable, wrong-headed, doctrine that democracies never wage aggressive war. Democracy has the limited virtue of making government pay some attention to the welfare of their subjects - only some. But he shows the temper of his time in suggesting that democracy has little chance of becoming entrenched in eastern Europe and Asia.

IBC Press Release

IRAQ BODY COUNT Press Releases
PR10: Monday 7th November 2004
IBC response to the Lancet study estimating "100,000" Iraqi deaths
Some people have asked us why we have not increased our count to 100,000 in the light of the multiple media reports of the recent Lancet study [link] which claims this as a probable and conservative estimate of Iraqi casualties.
Iraq Body Count does not include casualty estimates or projections in its database. It only includes individual or cumulative deaths as directly reported by the media or tallied by official bodies (for instance, by hospitals, morgues and, in a few cases so far, NGOs), and subsequently reported in the media. In other words, each entry in the Iraq Body Count data base represents deaths which have actually been recorded by appropriate witnesses - not "possible" or even "probable" deaths.
The Lancet study's headline figure of "100,000" excess deaths is a probabilistic projection from a small number of reported deaths - most of them from aerial weaponry - in a sample of 988 households to the entire Iraqi population. Only those actual, war-related deaths could be included in our count. Because the researchers did not ask relatives whether the male deaths were military or civilian the civilian proportion in the sample is unknown (despite the Lancet website's front-page headline "100,000 excess civilian deaths after Iraq invasion", [link] the authors clearly state that "many" of the dead in their sample may have been combatants [P.7]). Iraq Body Count only includes reports where there are feasible methods of distinguishing military from civilian deaths (most of the uncertainty that remains in our own count - the difference between our reported Minimum and Maximum - arises from this issue). Our count is purely a civilian count.
One frequently cited misapprehension is that IBC "only can count deaths where journalists are present."[link] This is incorrect, and appears to arise from unfamiliarity with the variety of sources which the media may report and IBC has used. These sources include hospital and morgue officials giving totals for specific incidents or time periods, totals which in turn have sometimes been integrated into overall tolls of deaths and injuries for entire regions of Iraq as collated by central agencies such as the Iraqi Health Ministry (see KRT 25th September 2004 [link]); these are all carefully separated from more "direct" as well as duplicate media reporting before being added to IBC's database. The Lancet's survey data was itself gathered without journalists being present, and yet is widely reported in the press. Were the Lancet study a count and not a projection, it too could after appropriate analysis become part of the IBC database. Little-known but impeccably reported death tolls in fact constitute the larger part of IBC's numbers (as can be seen by sorting IBC's database by size of entry). We believe that such counts - when freely conducted and without official interference - have the potential to far exceed the accuracy and comprehensiveness even of local press reporting. It is after all the job of morgues and hospitals to maintain such records, and not the media's, who simply report their findings.
We have always been quite explicit that our own total is certain to be an underestimate of the true position, because of gaps in reporting or recording. It is no part of our practice, at least as far as our published totals are concerned, to make any prediction or projection about what the "unseen" number of deaths might have been. This total can only be established to our satisfaction by a comprehensive count carried out by the Iraqi government, or other organisation with national or transnational authority.
Others have asked us to comment on whether the Lancet report's headline figure of 100,000 is a credible estimate. At present our resources are focused on our own ongoing work, not assessing the work of others. At an earlier stage, we did indeed provide an assessment of other counting projects [link], to provide what clarity we could for better public understanding of the issues involved. In that instance the projects under review were similar to ours, in that they attempted to amass data on actual deaths (and some of their findings have subsequently been integrated into our own count). Nonetheless, the Lancet's estimate of 100,000 deaths - which is on the scale of the death toll from Hiroshima - has, if it is accurate, such serious implications that we may return to the subject in greater detail in the near future. As of this writing we are more concerned with renewed air and ground attacks on Falluja, which last April left over 800 Iraqis dead, some 600 of them civilians (see previous IBC press release below).
It may already be noted, however, that Iraq Body Count, like the Lancet study, doesn't simply report all deaths in Iraq (people obviously die from various causes all the time) but excess deaths that can be associated directly with the military intervention and occupation of the country. In doing this, and via different paths, both studies have arrived at one conclusion which is not up for serious debate: the number of deaths from violence has skyrocketed since the war was launched (see IBC Press Release September 23rd 2003 [link]; also AP 24th May 2004 [graphic chart]).
We also recognise the bravery of the investigators who carried out the Lancet survey on the ground, and support the call for larger and more authoritative investigations with the full support of the coalition and other official bodies.
Finally, we reject any attempt, by pro-war governments and others, to minimise the seriousness of deaths so far recorded by comparing them to higher figures, be they of deaths under Saddam's regime, or in other much larger-scale wars. Amnesty International, which criticized and drew attention to the brutality of the Saddam Hussein regime long before the governments which launched the 2003 attack on Iraq, estimated that violent deaths attributable to Saddam's government numbered at most in the hundreds during the years immediately leading up to 2003. Those wishing to make the "more lives ultimately saved" argument will need to make their comparisons with the number of civilians likely to have been killed had Saddam Hussein's reign continued into 2003-2004, not in comparison to the number of deaths for which he was responsible in the 1980s and early 1990s, or to casualty figures during WWII.

Press Contacts: John Sloboda John@iraqbodycount.orgHamit Dardagan

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Amnesty International Press Release

Iraq: Urgent action needed to prevent war crimesRecent reports from Falluja raise serious concerns that grave violations of the laws of war protecting both civilians and combatants who are no longer taking part in hostilities (hors de combat) are taking place. According to the US television network NBC, US Marines left five wounded Iraqi men in a mosque after a battle. The next day, last Saturday, another group of Marines entered the mosque, and an NBC reporter saw one Marine shoot in the head, one of the wounded Iraqi men who was lying on the ground, with no visible weapons near him. The fate of the four other Iraqis is unclear.US authorities have stated that that they have removed form the battlefield one soldier and that they will conduct an investigation into this incident. However, urgent measures must also be taken to prevent any violations Amnesty International said today."Unequivocal orders for the proper treatment of unarmed and wounded insurgents must be issued or reinforced to all US and Iraqi military and civilian personnel. US and Iraqi forces should be clear that under international law they have an obligation to protect and provide necessary medical attention to wounded insurgents who are no longer posing a threat, as well as to civilians," said Amnesty International."The deliberate shooting of unarmed and wounded fighters who pose no immediate threat is a war crime under international law and there is therefore an obligation on the US authorities to investigate all such reports and to hold perpetrators of such crimes accountable before the law. Such investigations should be open and transparent and the findings should be made public. Any potential witnesses should be protected."Amnesty International had already called on US authorities to investigate an earlier incident, reported on the UK's Channel Four News, in which a US soldier appeared to have fired one shot in the direction of a wounded insurgent who was off screen. The soldier then walked away and said "he's gone".Amnesty International is also calling on the US and Iraqi forces to ensure that all those wounded in fighting in Falluja, both civilians and fighters, receive prompt and effective medical treatment. In addition, urgent measures must be taken to address the drastic humanitarian situation in the city. There is currently no water, electricity or organised evacuation of the wounded, who have no access to proper healthcare. The Iraqi Red Crescent Society have been able to reach the hsopital on the outskirts of the city, but are still not allowed to deliver humanitarian relief or assistance to those in need inside the city. Most of the civilians in the city are reportedly trapped in their homes or hiding places. There are is no information of civilian casualties or injuries."There are acute humanitiarian needs within Falluja. Measures should be taken urgently to allow the Iraqi Red Crescent Society and other humanitarian organizations into the city."Insurgents are also reported to have violated rules of international humanitarian law: "Commanders and fighters of armed groups in Falluja also have an obligation to respect fundamental rules of international law. Acts such as booby trapping dead bodies are also war crimes," Amnesty International said.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Are Asia and the West the warehouses of the world?

When combining a big population and a high labor productivity (translated into high standards of living), what we got may look like an "unipolar world" with one economic superpower called the United Stated of America. Even though the American population represents only 5% of all living human beings, the fact that this population enjoys a GDP/Capita almost 4 times greater than the world's average explains why the volume of the US production of goods and services contributes to more than 20% to the world's total production (world GDP).

However, this picture is misleading. It is better to talk about the Western countries's contribution as compared with the one of East Asia.

The world gross domestic product of goods and services is worth PPP$50.6 trillion.

Western countries (North America + Western Europe) produce PPP$22.4 trillion worth of goods and services. That's 44% of the world total.

The East Asia & Pacific area produces 29% of the World GDP (PPP$15.2 trillion).

If we add up to these figures the South & West Asia's productions of PPP$4.3 trillion, Western countries and Asia contribute more than 80% to the world production of goods and services.

The new Asian superpower is, notoriously, China. China's strength is due mainly to the sheer size of its population. Its fast rising GDP/Capita (still below world's average) explains why it has become a superpower.

13% of the world GDP is produced in China (PPP$6.3 trillion). This is the second biggest volume in the world - even greater than the Japanese output.

Besides, China's economic growth is so high that one can guess the size of its output will be greater than the size of US output before 2015.

As a gigantic market of 1.3 billion consumers, China consumes:
18.6% of world aluminium output
20.1% of world cellphone use
34.8% of world cigarettes output
31.0% of world coal output
19.1% of world ice-cream output
50.8% of pork, 19.2% of poultry, 32.8% of rice, 26.9% of steel, 23.2% of TVs, 18.0% of washing machines etc.

source: Fortune,18467,698777,00.html

If all the world annual production of goods and services was 100 cars (similar to one another), we would have this split:

North America & Western Europe produces 43 cars
(USA:21, Germany:4, France:3, UK:3, Italy:3, Canada:2, Spain:2, other western countries:5)
East Asia & the Pacific produces 29 cars
(China:13, Japan:7, Korea:2, Indonesia:1, Australia:1, Taiwan:1, other East Asian countries:4)
South & West Asia produces 8 cars
(India:6, other South & West Asian countries:2)
Latin America & the Caribbean produces 8 cars
(Brazil:3, Mexico:2, other Latin American countries:3)
Central & Eastern Europe produces 7 cars
(Russia: 3, other Central & Eastersd European countries:4)
Arab states produce 3 cars
Sub-Saharan Africa produce 2 cars
Central Asia doesn't produce any cars

Friday, November 12, 2004

Asia's purchasing power

Many westerners still think that Asia is an extremely poor continent. For them, its low development level helps to explain why it still hasn't much influence in the world's affairs.
Fortunately, many of these westerners are also aware that Asian standards of living are fast catching up with Western ones. Off-course, the gap still exists.
Traditional explanations for poverty or wealth are: How many people work among all the population (employment level), how "hard" do they work (work hours per year), "physical capital" (machines, tools, plants, stores, highways etc.), "human capital" (education, on-the-job training, learning by doing, and natural ability), "natural resources" (land, minerals, water, oil etc.) and "technological knowledge" (best ways of producing something).

Low Income Countries: GDP/Capita is less than PPP$2,600
Lower Middle Income Countries: GDP/Capita is in between PPP$2,600 & PPP$6,800
Upper Middle Income Countries: GDP/Capita is in between PPP$6,800 & PPP$15,100
High Income Countries: GDP/Capita is more than PPP$15,100

On average, the population from East Asia & Pacific has "upper middle income" (PPP$7,200). That means many Asian people have too little purchasing power to afford buying cars or owning their own house. However, this is only an average: The Chinese (PPP$5,300), the Indonesians (PPP$3,500) and the Filipinos (PPP$4,500) have "lower middle income": many of them still live "in poverty" (earning just enough to buy the food they need). The Japanese (PPP$28,300) and the Koreans ($18,400) have high income, meaning their standards of living are so high that every household has at least one car and spend a lot of money on leisure activities and holidays. The Vietnamese (PPP$ 2,500) and the Burmese (PPP$1,400) have low income: most of them live in poverty with under-nutrition affecting part of the population (however, the prevalence of the underground economy means they are not that poor in reality). The Thais (PPP$7,400) have upper middle income.

People living in South or West Asia tend to have "lower middle income" (PPP$2,900). The Indians (PPP$2,800) now have "lower middle income" with a significant part of their population out of poverty - They used to be extremely poor 15 years ago. The Pakistanese (PPP$2,300) and the Bengladeshis (PPP$1,800) still have "low income". The Iranians (PPP$7,300) have "upper middle income".

All Western countries have "high income" (PPP$31,700): The Americans (PPP$38,000), the Germans (PPP$28,100), the French (PPP$27,000), the British (PPP$27,800), the Italians (PPP$27,500) as well as the Spanish (PPP$22,800).

People in Sub-saharan Africa have "low income" (PPP$1,800). The Nigerians (PPP$900), the Ethiopians (PPP$700) and the Congolese (PPP$600) are really poor. Almost alone in this part of the world, the South Africans (PPP$10,300) have "upper middle income".

The population of Latin America & the Caribbean have "upper middle income" (PPP$7,600). Brazilians (PPP$8,300) and Mexicans (PPP$9,400) have upper middle income. Columbians (PPP$6,500) have lower middle income.

People living in Central & Eastern Europe have "upper middle income" (PPP$8,900). The Russians (PPP$9,600) and the Turkish (PPP$6,900) have upper middle income. The Ukrainians (PPP$5,700) have lower middle income.

The Arab population have "lower middle income" (PPP$5,200): The Egyptians (PPP$3,900) have lower middle income. The Sudanese (PPP$2,100) have low income.

The population of Central Asia also have "lower middle income" (PPP$3,300).

On average, the world population has upper middle income (PPP$8,400)

Is the population of the poorest countries getting richer and richer compared to the richest countries?

As a whole, the purchasing power of the world population have increased by roughly 1/4 for the past 10 years.
Off-course, this is an average. On one hand, the purchasing power of people living in East Asia & Pacific have increased by half (+48%), on the other hand, the Africans remain almost as poor as 10 years ago (+7%).

Among the fast-growing areas, people living in South & West Asia have a 45% higher purchasing power. The Westerners managed to enjoy a 23% increase since 1994. People in Latin America don't have a much better standard of living (+9%). People living in Central & Eastern Europe enjoyed a +36% improvement in their "real income". The Arab population's purchasing power increased by only 15%, whereas people from Central Asia enjoyed a 45% increase.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Asia and the World Population

Among the 6.4 billion people living in this world, the population from the "East Asia & Pacific" accounts for 35% of them, while "South & West Asia" accounts for another 24%. However, "Central Asia" accounts for only 1% of the World population. Together, about 60% of humanity is Asian.

Off-course, China's 1.3 billion people already account for 39% of East Asia & Pacific. India's 1.1 billion people also account for 71% of South & West Asia. In fact, almost 2/3 (63%) of this Asian population is either Chinese or Indian.

The Western population (North American & Western Europe) accounts for 12% of the World population. As much as 40% of these Westerners live in the USA.

There are 690 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa (11% of the World). 21% of them live in Nigeria.

Latin America & the Carraibean is also a significant part of the world in terms of population with 540 million people (8% of the World). More than half of them (52%) either live in Mexico or in Brazil.

The population in Eastern & Central Europe accounts for 6% of the world's population. More than 1/3 (35%) of these people are Russians.

The Arab States complete this world population with less than 280 million people (4.4%). 25% of Arabs are Egyptians.

For the past 10 years, most of the growth of the World population came from Asia (60%). The idea that Sub-saharan Africa and Arab States are fueling this growth is therefore partly a myth. If it is true that these populations are growing faster than the other ones, they still account for less than 20% of the World.

If we could get a picture of the world population, it would be something like that: There are 100 people watching a movie in a theatre:
34 persons from East Asia & Pacific
24 persons from South & West Asia
12 Westerners
11 Africans
8 persons from Latin America & the Carribean
6 persons from Central & Eastern Europe
4 Arabs
1 person from Central Asia

More specifically:
21 Chinese + 4 Indonesians + 2 Japanese + 1 Filipino + 1 Vietnamese + 1 Thai + 1 Burmese + 1 Korean (from South Korea) + 2 other persons from East Asia & Pacific
18 Indians + 2 Pakistanese + 2 Bengladeshis + 1 Iranian + 1 other person from South & West Asia
5 Americans + 1 German + 1 French + 1 British + 1 Italian + 1 Spanish + 2 other persons from North America or Western Europe
2 Nigerians + 1 Ethiopian + 1 Congolese + 1 South African + 1 Tanzanian + 5 other Africans
3 Brazilians + 2 Mexicans + 1 Columbian + 2 other persons from Latin America
2 Russians + 1 Turkish + 1 Ukranian + 2 other persons from Central or Eastern Europe
1 Egyptian + 1 Sudanese + 2 other Arabs
1 person from Central Asia

Monday, November 08, 2004

No Surrender - by Paul Krugman - NYT

Paul Krugman (born February 28, 1953) is an American economist. He is probably best-known to the public as an outspoken and formidable critic of the economic and general policies of the administration of George W. Bush. Unlike many economic pundits, he is regarded as a respected economist by his peers. Krugman has written hundreds of papers and eighteen books — some of them academic, and some of them written for the layperson. His International Economics: Theory and Policy is a standard textbook on international economics. In 1991 he was awarded the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal by the American Economic Association.

No Surrender

Comments (85)

SYNOPSIS: We will not surrender, and, more importantly, we will not compromise our moral values by catering to those who wish to persecute gays, end abortion rights, and end the New Deal
President Bush isn't a conservative. He's a radical - the leader of a coalition that deeply dislikes America as it is. Part of that coalition wants to tear down the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, eviscerating Social Security and, eventually, Medicare. Another part wants to break down the barriers between church and state. And thanks to a heavy turnout by evangelical Christians, Mr. Bush has four more years to advance that radical agenda.
Democrats are now, understandably, engaged in self-examination. But while it's O.K. to think things over, those who abhor the direction Mr. Bush is taking the country must maintain their intensity; they must not succumb to defeatism.
This election did not prove the Republicans unbeatable. Mr. Bush did not win in a landslide. Without the fading but still potent aura of 9/11, when the nation was ready to rally around any leader, he wouldn't have won at all. And future events will almost surely offer opportunities for a Democratic comeback.
I don't hope for more and worse scandals and failures during Mr. Bush's second term, but I do expect them. The resurgence of Al Qaeda, the debacle in Iraq, the explosion of the budget deficit and the failure to create jobs weren't things that just happened to occur on Mr. Bush's watch. They were the consequences of bad policies made by people who let ideology trump reality.
Those people still have Mr. Bush's ear, and his election victory will only give them the confidence to make even bigger mistakes.
So what should the Democrats do?
One faction of the party is already calling for the Democrats to blur the differences between themselves and the Republicans. Or at least that's what I think Al From of the Democratic Leadership Council means when he says, "We've got to close the cultural gap." But that's a losing proposition.
Yes, Democrats need to make it clear that they support personal virtue, that they value fidelity, responsibility, honesty and faith. This shouldn't be a hard case to make: Democrats are as likely as Republicans to be faithful spouses and good parents, and Republicans are as likely as Democrats to be adulterers, gamblers or drug abusers. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country; blue states, on average, have lower rates of out-of-wedlock births than red states.
But Democrats are not going to get the support of people whose votes are motivated, above all, by their opposition to abortion and gay rights (and, in the background, opposition to minority rights). All they will do if they try to cater to intolerance is alienate their own base.
Does this mean that the Democrats are condemned to permanent minority status? No. The religious right - not to be confused with religious Americans in general - isn't a majority, or even a dominant minority. It's just one bloc of voters, whom the Republican Party has learned to mobilize with wedge issues like this year's polarizing debate over gay marriage.
Rather than catering to voters who will never support them, the Democrats - who are doing pretty well at getting the votes of moderates and independents - need to become equally effective at mobilizing their own base.
In fact, they have made good strides, showing much more unity and intensity than anyone thought possible a year ago. But for the lingering aura of 9/11, they would have won.
What they need to do now is develop a political program aimed at maintaining and increasing the intensity. That means setting some realistic but critical goals for the next year.
Democrats shouldn't cave in to Mr. Bush when he tries to appoint highly partisan judges - even when the effort to block a bad appointment fails, it will show supporters that the party stands for something. They should gear up for a bid to retake the Senate or at least make a major dent in the Republican lead. They should keep the pressure on Mr. Bush when he makes terrible policy decisions, which he will.
It's all right to take a few weeks to think it over. (Heads up to readers: I'll be starting a long-planned break next week, to work on a economics textbook. I'll be back in January.) But Democrats mustn't give up the fight. What's at stake isn't just the fate of their party, but the fate of America as we know it.
Originally published in The New York Times, 11.5.04

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

US elections - viewed from Asia

Asian press slams "reckless" Bush, but doubts Kerry offers real change
HONG KONG, (AFP) - President George W. Bush was the target of scathing criticism from Asian newspapers, which accused him of pursuing a reckless and divisive foreign policy but doubted much would change even if John Kerry ousted him in the presidential election.
In Thailand the respected business daily Krungthep Thurakit warned of dire consequences for the world if Bush was re-elected, saying "international politics will be in more turmoil than (during) his first term as it means Americans agree with his foreign policy".
The Thai-language newspaper forecast Bush might next invade North Korea or Iran. "In this presidential election most of the world's population votes for Kerry due to his promise for a softer approach on international politics," it said.
The Malay-language Utusan in mostly Muslim Malaysia launched an even more fierce attack on the incumbent leader.
"Bush has created a world of chaos, a world split into two. Bush has divided Muslims and the non-Muslims," it said.
"Are Americans happy to see their president hated and condemned by the world? They no longer travel or move freely, and are treated warily in certain countries. Their safety and their lives remain threatened.
But, like several newspapers around the region, it took a generally cynical view on the election, suggesting that whoever emerges victorious, US foreign policy is unlikely to change much.
"Whoever wins or loses, it will not make much of a difference to the global community. Even though Bush and Kerry have different approaches, we must not hope that the chaotic global scenario will change in the blink of an eye. Even if Kerry is picked, US policies will remain the same," said Utusan.
Hong Kong's leading English-language daily, the South China Morning Post, said Bush had pursued a reckless war in Iraq, polarised opinion of the US, weakened world organisations and ham-fistedly launched a war on terror that has actually made the world a more dangerous place.
If Bush won, it said, the "US would continue with the 'with us or against us' approach that has done so much damage to its standing in the world".
It is no more flattering of the Democratic challenger, describing Kerry as an untested and indecisive potential leader with protectionist tendencies that wouldn't sit well with China.
In Sydney, the nation's favourite horse race, the Melbourne Cup, drew most attention from newspaper leader writers, but Australia's Sydney Morning Herald diverted its gaze towards the likely photo-finish in the US.
The Bush administration's determination to maintain America's global military reliance, even without allied support, had given rise to an "anyone but Bush" sentiment in many areas, not just the hostile Muslim world, it said.
It stopped short of endorsing any candidate, noting a Kerry victory would lower the "bilateral bonhomie" currently enjoyed between conservative governments in Washington and Canberra but would not change the fundamental relationship.
"Whoever wins today, Australia remains a firm ally," it said.
Bush was given some respite in the Philippines, a former US colony, where the Manila Bulletin enthusiastically backed the Republican.
"As we wait for the verdict of the American electorate, we are certain that the victor will place America continually on the side of justice, equality, peace, and democracy -- values that we share with the United States and have collectively fought for in the past and the foreseeable future."
The Philippine Daily Inquirer begged to differ, carrying the headline: "No beating around the Bush: Pinoy (Filipino) hearts beat for Kerry."
English-language daily The Japan Times said the world was "holding its collective breath" over the dead-heat race.
Kerry's philosophy "emphasizes the importance of rebuilding alliance relationships to make America stronger and safer", the paper said.
In Seoul, the English-language Korea Times said in an editorial said a Kerry victory would better help resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff.
"Despite the rhetoric of diplomats, the Seoul-Washington relationship has worsened and the tension between North Korea and the US has grown over the past four years.
"Although a Kerry victory would not completely reverse the situation, Seoul could at least expect a more flexible and compromising ally," it said.