Sunday, December 19, 2010

An Unsettled Christmas Week

Global Travel Time map

On the weekend before Christmas and as the first decade of the 21st century comes to an end, the world finds itself bracing for change that is described in a post at Yale Global Online. Jeffrey E. Garten, the Juan Trippe professor of international trade and finance at the Yale School of Management writes this about the crumbling of the current global economic order and what changes need to be confronted and embraced to avoid the world spinning backwards as self centered countries resist the changes wrought by their own miss-managed policies.
As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, leaving the steady growth of last century's second half a distant memory, what does the future hold for the global economy? For the next several years, we can expect exceptional turbulence as the waning days of the global economic order we have known plays out chaotically, possibly destructively. For the longer term, say, 10 years from now, a more promising picture awaits as a new set of international economic arrangements gains support from governments, business and civil society, and as a wave of exceptional innovation bears fruit. The transition will be a treacherous ride that no government would rationally choose to take. Yet the die seems cast.
Garten goes on to point out that the United States is no longer in position to shoulder all the burdens of maintaining global order.
The old order had to die also because the United States – its creator, rule enforcer, market of last resort and chief cheerleader, now racked by deficits, debts, and a polarized and inward-looking political system – can no longer shoulder the burden of these roles. No one country is remotely capable of replacing America, and effective collective leadership is nowhere in sight.
Garten hold out hope that new leadership in the next decade will appear with visionary ideas to engage the world in the next stage of global governance, not global government.
Some hope for optimism lays in the possibility that by the end of this decade, many domestic hurdles, such as US fiscal problems and European debt pressures, will be on a sounder trajectory. Also, by then, a new generation of leadership could emerge, weary of failed policies of the previous 10 years and much wiser for it. These men and women are likely to be willing to move ahead with the many new ideas that are sure to evolve during a period of chaos and instability.
....Never in world history has there been such capacity to link new ideas, great talent and huge pools of money in support of progress. Nor should we forget that some of the trends now emerging, such as the hyper-urbanization of the planet, could produce unprecedented innovations in energy, transport, health care and more as the creativity produced by urban clusters is unleashed....

Read the whole post.
Brace for Change as the Global Economic Order Crumbles

A worker hoists an American flag alongside a Chinese flag in Tiananmen Square

As one ponders the changes noted above, we turn to a possible remedy for lessening the tensions brought by trying to maintain global order and overcome the ghosts of Cold War images that still haunt and inhabit the minds of many within the borders of old adversaries.

Thomas PM Barnett, author and geostrategist, recently returned from spending two weeks in China where he and his counterparts discussed a proposal for what is described as a Sino-American grand strategy "term sheet" that proposes an executive agreement between the United States and China for peaceful co-existence and an economically balanced relationship. The plan, linked below, is open for discussion now that it had become public. How it is received will be the fodder of debate within the confines of both the halls of Congress, the White House and across the charged airways of American broadcasters as well as every balanced and unbalanced blogosphere voice all rising in a crescendo of background noise that may threaten the very prospect of wise debate. I for one see  the merit of this proposal in removing the burrs of inter-continental security concerns as well as more importantly, improving economic inter-dependency which is what much of the lead post by Jeffery Garten is all about. Grab a cup of coffee, and read over the proposal below. Don't toss the whole idea away when reaching parts that might stick in your craw. Let it sit a while and ponder it long and hard before making up your mind.

Read the whole plan.
Final Version of the Sino-American Grand Strategy Terms

U.S. Army troops celebrate Christmas during Korean War

There is one major caveat to this plan that remains poised to send the best laid plans for cooperation crashing to the ground. That comes as the world hold its breath as the two Korea's step to the brink of war this weekend. South Korea, under domestic pressure to stand up to North Korea is going ahead with plans for live fire drills. As fellow blogger extraordinaire Galhran points out, cancellation is not an option. The culture of face will not allow the President of South Korea to back down in the face of North Korean threats. So, here is what might happen as told by Galhran.

The weather is improving over South Korea, and the live fire drills are likely to take place today. A few random thoughts before the day unfolds.
South Korea will conduct the live fire drills, cancellation isn't an option. This is a cultural issue as much as anything, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak cannot back down to North Korean threats or intimidation or he will be forced to resign in disgrace.
North Korea will return fire. The North has made every single warning that is consistent with the warnings made prior to the last outbreak of combat, including phone calls with personal warnings (very rare). Expect return fire to YeonpyeongGyeonggi Province. If you recall, that is where intelligence suggested the next attack would come from, and if I was in Vegas I would bet that is where KPA Unit 2670 is located.
Galhran goes on to ponder the South Korean response. However, buried within one of  the links, is this troubling possibility.
Military officials say North Korea’s long-range guns could launch up to 17,000 shells at the greater Seoul area in an hour. If this were to happen, they say some 3.25 million civilians and soldiers could be killed or wounded.
The military, however, does not believe this many casualties would result. This is because the 3.25 million number is based on two unrealistic premises: that South Korea and the United States could not detect signs of an impending North Korean long-range artillery attack, and that North Korea’s long-range guns would continue to fire for an hour without taking any losses.
A military source said, “Of the 170 rounds fired at Yeonpyeong Island, about 90 landed in the sea, and of the 80 rounds that hit Yeonpyeong Island, 20 were duds, so of the 170 rounds fired, only about 60 were effective.”
Well do the math, that means if only 35% of the shells were effective, it would then lower the possible South Korean losses to only 1.13 million dead and wounded. Even those kind of causalities could push South Korea to launch an all out response. Where that would lead, is for only time to tell. One thing would be obvious. Any accord such as linked above, would be forever gone, as the hawks on both sides circle the wagons and begin the blame game. So folks as the week dedicated to peace and brotherhood toward mankind opens; the world wonders and waits with all eyes pointed to what was know as the Hermit Kingdom, now divided these past 60 years.

Read more:
Guns of Christmas

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