December 13, 2012

Geopolitical wish list

Nowadays, quite a lot is known about Santa Claus.  We know where he lives, how he looks like and that he was made up by Coca-Cola. But does anybody know Santa’s geopolitical views? What is his view on globalization? Where does he stand on multilateralism? For a chance to find out, here are a few geopolitical wishes for 2013. Most may be hard to achieve, but, hey, Christmas is not a time for modesty (especially if you are looking at the lights and decorations extravaganza around the world, from the huge sparkling Christmas tree at the Rockefeller center in New York to hundreds of thousands of fairy lights on Champs-Élysées to – even - the light show at Niagara Falls).

Southern blues

Greece, Spain and Italy are by far not the only reasons for the continuing European debt crisis which has spread from a financial turmoil to an institutional disaster questioning the whole existence of the European project. But they are certainly under the spotlight. In 2013, the fourth year of the crisis, difficult decisions have to be made. Italy will hold general elections where it may, just may, vote for someone who clearly belongs in the past – Silvio Berlusconi. Even the possibility that he may run spooks the markets on which Italy depends for its financing. Mario Monti, while not a politician per se, should be given more time to finish his work where he has been quite successful so far. Spain, on the other hand, should finally ask for a full sovereign bailout. With many of its provinces in peril, the bank-only bailout will not be sufficient. The longer it waits, the stronger the markets will punish Rahoj’s government. As of Greece, it is obvious that European leaders want to keep the country in the Eurozone. But they have not been categorical enough about it. Every single release of the bailout tranches becomes a dramatic event with information flying around that Greece may not get it and leave the Euro. Europe does not want that, Greece does not want that – European leaders should make that clear not only in words but also in actions.

Let’s talk

After a tumultuous year which saw another almost-war between Hamas and Israel, a dramatic UN-vote upgrading Palestine to a non-member observer state and Israel’s immediate reaction to build thousands of new settler homes in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the prospects for a sustainable peace solution certainly look bleak. So, for 2013, we could wish that the two sides would at least sit together on the negotiation table. Here, Barack Obama could and should be a major figure. While he largely neglected the issue during his first term, he is now free from election calculations and can concentrate on the real problem at hand – getting Israel and Palestine to talk to each other.

Hot air

If Israel and Palestine lack direct negotiation, then the global climate change debate is in excess of it. Meeting after meeting (the last one was in Doha couple of days ago), the UN held negotiations bare no fruit. Save for meaningless documents that change only in title but not in substance (“The Durban platform”, "The Doha Climate Gateway"), the only real decisions the 195 nations make is to delay the decisions once again. Most observers point to the US for stalling the negotiations and here, again, Obama should emerge as a global leader and embrace his 2008 promises to fight climate change.  But China, India and the other big new polluters should also share the blame.  2013 will not be the year the world reaches a new comprehensive agreement like the Kyoto Protocol. But it should get damn near to one.

Until then, let’s leave Santa at work (and maybe help him a little bit ourselves).

Article at Project Firefly

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