Thursday 19 May 2011

The Moon Doctrine: Colonials know best (Sunday Guardian)

By M. D. Nalapat


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrive for a family photo at the Elysee Palace, after international talks on Libya, in Paris on 19 March. Reuters
hen Mikhail Gorbachev embraced the non-violent principles of Mahatma Gandhi to surrender Moscow's control over East Europe, Germany in particular gloated at its reunification with the East. So deep was the Teutonic belief in race within the European Union that it was decided to speedily incorporate most of Eastern Europe within the federation. They were, after all, Europeans. Since the middle of the 1990s, huge financial flows have gone from west to east of the globe's smallest continent (if we exclude the unique country of Russia), in the process weakening the ability of the older EU members to compete with emerging powerhouses such as South Korea, China and these days, even India. The pell-mell expansion of the EU is proving to be a poison pill that threatens to derail the social compact between state and citizen that has created one of the best social security systems in the world, barring that of a few underpopulated countries such as Canada.
So long as the "Rest" were content with doing coolie work for the West, ensuring a constant supply of cheap factors of production coupled with a market for goods and services originating within the EU and its alliance partners in North America and in Australasia, the road ahead was smooth. Problems surfaced when India became a better software and services provider than EU members, and China began to take over markets for manufactured items that since the 1800s been the monopoly of the West. However, there were still a few bright spots. Almost all the financial surplus of the "Rest" was invested in the West, while the former colonial subjects developed a voracious appetite for "wampum". Baubles such as branded shirts, shoes, handbags and even toilet paper, not to speak of expensive corporate and military aircraft and automobiles.
Even while agencies such as Transparency International continued the fiction of declaring them "corruption-free", and international rating agencies lavished Triple A ratings even on institutions that were hollowed out by speculation gone wrong, the 2008 financial collapse occurred. In months,investors in just the Gulf Cooperation Council lost more than $1.3 trillion because of the incompetence and chicanery of the financial institutions located in London, Zurich, New York and Frankfurt. Others in South and East Asia, as well as Russia, lost hundreds of billions more. All of a sudden, it became clear that the most unsafe location to park one's cash assets was a Western bank.
After having given away to NATO all his chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, as well as all his state secrets, Libya's Muammar Gaddafi drew the line at watching his and his country's money end up the same way. He began making noises about diversifying investments from the West to "China, Russia and India". All three paid him back by standing supinely by as NATO began pounding his country, a show of Chinese, Indian and Russian cowardice that continues long after it has become clear that the objective of the alliance is not to "protect civilians" but to protect their primacy not just in Libya, but over the region as an entirety.
The European Union is inches away from disaster. Once Greece defaults (as seems certain), the next to go will be Ireland, followed by Spain, Portugal and Greece. Next could be France. Now that the European Union is being ruled by schoolboys (David Cameron), cowboys (Nicolas Sarkozy), playboys (Silvio Berlusconi) and a schoolmistress (Angela Merkel), there is no appetite for facing the truth, which is that the EU is facing a long period of austerity after decades of spendthrift behaviour. Hence the Ban Ki-Moon option, which is to play the colonial game once again. The UN Secretary-General has legitimised the primacy of "former colonial powers" over vast areas of the globe. Thus, he has cheered on France's military intervention in the Ivory Coast and nodded approval at Italy's hosting of European conferences on Libya, its former colony. Each NATO bomb is a signal to Arab leaders to beware the consequences of shifting their assets away from the West to countries further east. As Syria has no money, bombs need not be wasted on Bashar Al-Assad. And as Bahrain is a reliable dependency of NATO, its royal family can batter civilians without any fear of referral to the Western (sorry, "International") Court of Justice at The Hague. Someone needs to remind Uncle Moon that he is the Secretary-General of the UN, not of NATO, and that Mr Moon's favourite group of countries needs to rely on productivity rather than on missiles, ethics rather than on bombs, to tempt investors and customers for its products.

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