Archive for April, 2016

Can the West live without enemies?

Turkey, backwards or forwards?

By Jonathan Power

March 29th 2016.

In the 1970s there was a cult film, “Midnight Express”, directed by the young Oliver Stone. It was based on the story of an American who was sentenced to 30 years in a Turkish prison for smuggling drugs. It showed in stark reality the total lack of any semblance of human rights or normal human behavior by the Turkish authorities. It was that impression of Turkey that many of us carried forward, even as Turkey in fact was profoundly changing.

Even today some hold on to what is now a discredited viewpoint, particularly in France, a country that has long made it clear it will obstruct any move to bring Turkey into the European Union. Anti-Turkey feeling exists elsewhere, particularly in Germany which has far more Turkish immigrant workers than any other nation. However, the truth is the Turkey of today is unrecognizable from that of the 1970s. Not least it has become a democracy, albeit a not perfect one.

And yet there are appalling signs that Turkey is winding the clock back. Having been rebuffed in 2010 by Europe in its attempt to enter the EU, despite all the previous promises made to it that entry would be welcomed (the US has long supported this), it has started to go backwards to its more authoritarian and less humanistic ways. This is grist for the mill for those who have long held a “Midnight Express” view of Turkey.

The true picture of Turkey has to be a subtle one. On the one hand Read the rest of this entry »

World economy, what next?

By Johan Galtung

Washington, DC

The Big View is the West doing badly, euro and pound down with miserable growth rates; US $-growth rate better but erratic; China, India, Islam growing, Latin America (CELAC) getting its act together and probably growing. This matters for essentially bankrupt USA: China, India, Islam, CELAC are huge powers with huge minorities inside the USA: they could move in, take over. Last week’s prediction about Trump’s foreign policy came true the next day (Washington Post 22 Mar 2016): less wars, not affordable, less NATO, let Europe do it, no nation-building, building our own. He was then branded “isolationist” with US incapacity for a third option: foreign policy by peacefare.

Any economy has two key faultlines: high vs low class, with inequality by exploitation; real vs finance economy, with crises by speculation. LEAP Press Review ( 17 Feb 2016) traces “something Big was about to happen” to February 2006: no more M3 published (money printing); Iran’ stock market based on the euro, Iraq following (invasion). Before that, the Rest manufacturing, beating the West. Slow in coming, but then quickly; leaving the USA with agriculture and speculation, maybe to be followed by a Brexit UK.

Martin Wolf (Financial Times, 24 Feb 2016) points to the world exhausting “monetary policy 1,2”-lower interest, printing money-and calls for nº 3: more spending, less saving to beat the “chronic demand crisis”. A non-starter: given the inequalities and crises, people will save for worse to come and for their children, not spend unnecessarily, and not accumulate debts to their children.

Joseph Stiglitz (above) puts it this way: “Banks choose financial speculation over lending /for/ economic growth”. The money supply “stimulated sharp increases in-financial-sector profitability”.

Rune Skarstein, the leading Norwegian global economist, focuses on the slipping locomotive effect from the Chinese economy; Read the rest of this entry »


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