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Chinese Permier Wen Jiabao met the European Commission in Brussels on 30 January, as part of a tour taking in Davos, Berlin, London and Madrid. Paris was excluded because President Sarkozy recently met the Dalai Lama. Germany was previously punished and relations have been reasonably restored. Timing “This visit is intended to have a lot… » read more

Posted by Stanley Crossick

Buy American

The Obama €825 economic stimulus package, as approved by the House of Representatives, contains a “Buy America” steel provision. Public works projects funded by the bill may only iron and steel made in the US. This is most unfortunate as it could influence the stimulus plans of other countries. A widespread protectionist, beggar-thy-neighbour approach would… » read more

Posted by Stanley Crossick

Whither Afghanistan?

A column by Gwynne Dyer, “Obama’s Vietnam?” prompted me to think about Afghanistan in the context of the change of administration in Washington. The first air-strike under President Obama has taken place in Pakistan, inevitable killing citizens as well as terrorists. It also violates Pakistani sovereignty. Obama is in an unenviable position. His predecessor ignored… » read more

Posted by Stanley Crossick

Following Defence Secretary Robert Gates attack on China for manipulating its currency, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to be criticising the policy of the previous administration (of which Gates formed part). “We need a comprehensive dialogue with China,” Clinton said, not just an economic one She said that the Obama administration is working to… » read more

Posted by Stanley Crossick

Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, has warned that Iran must meet U.N. Security Council demands to suspend uranium enrichment before any talks on its nuclear programme. Hopefully, this continuation of the previous administration’s closing policy will not prevent the talks beginning. She told reporters that, “The dialogue and diplomacy must go hand in… » read more

Posted by Stanley Crossick

There is no agreed definition of “think tank” nor is it always obvious how it differs from a research centre or academic body. The essence of a think tank, in my view, is an organisation which advocates public policy solutions/recommendations. Its objective is to influence policy/decision-makers and opinion-formers rather than increase knowledge generally. To be… » read more

Posted by Stanley Crossick

Qaddafi: Man of reason

Amazingly, Muammar Qaddafi wrote an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune on 22 January. He advocates a one-state solution but a prerequisite is the right of return for the Palestinian refugees: this is a non-starter. However, the constructiveness and balance of the article deserve attention, whatever the Libyan leader’s motive for having the article published.… » read more

Posted by Stanley Crossick

Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner stated in his confirmation hearing that President Obama believed that China was manipulating its currency. This has been a consistent American view but hitherto no action has been taken against China. What significance is there in the statement? Does it herald a tough line being taken which could lead to a… » read more

Posted by Stanley Crossick

he coming year will be an extremely difficult one for all of us. There is no consensus as to the length and depth of the recession and no effective international economic and monetary mechanism to cope with the situation. Its effects are magnified by the uncertainties of today’s world. Economic and political doctrines have been… » read more

Posted by Stanley Crossick

Democracy at its best

Most European comment about the United States during the last eight years has been critical, but what a pleasure it was to watch yesterday’s Inauguration of Barrack Obama. On display was participatory democracy at its best, with a crowd of several times the population of Washington DC, braving below zero weather for many hours. The… » read more

Posted by Stanley Crossick