The problem of the U.S. economy lies much deeper than
the fiscal cliff. Wise people--Robert Borosage, Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz--see neither the fiscal deficit nor the U.S. debt as the key problems, but the lack of growth.
A Third World War is not impossible, but fortunately is rather unlikely. Let us explore why, and what can be done to prevent it.
On Nov. 29, 138 member states of the United Nations General Assembly voted in favour of giving Palestine “non-member observer state” status. Only nine voted no, 41 abstained. Beyond Middle East politics, the vote also mirrors the limits of the U.S. global, and the Israeli regional, empires: 138 defy their grip and favour change, 41+9=50 do not for various reasons. Who wants what?
The media did their best to make the U.S. presidential election look important, the altar on which democracy is built. But there has been a problem ever since the Supreme Court legalised unlimited campaign spending (six billion dollars this year), thereby authorising one more freedom of expression, called "commercial speech" even though much of this speech is libellous, often neither true nor relevant.
Empires come and go. The Ottoman-Muslim Empire was among the better, and the Iberian-Catholic and European-Protestant among the worst. In the Ottoman empire, religions of the kitab (‘the book’: Judaism, Christianity, Islam) were respected; Turkish was not imposed. Religious-linguistic entities survived in the Balkans as opposed to in Latin-Caribbean America. National independence movements succeeded: Greece in 1829, Serbia and Rumania in 1878, Bulgaria in 1908, Albania in 1912.
In trying to bring peace to conflict-ridden parts of the world, it is important to distinguish between negative peace - ceasefires and the absence of violence in general - and positive peace - cooperation for mutual and equal benefit, emotional harmony, reconciliation of past traumas, and the capacity to resolve future conflicts peacefully, nonviolently, with empathy and creativity, instead of forcing those with serious grievances to lay down their arms and reintegrate into civilian life.
The Israeli attack seems imminent. Israeli blogger Richard Silverstein circulates a leaked "shock and awe" strategy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak hard zionism to decapitate, paralyze Iran, and New York University professor Alon Ben-Meir warns against believing that Israel is bluffing.
Conflict is a relation of incompatibility between parties and not an attribute of one party. Therefore the solution is a new relation. While conflict gives rise to the danger of violence, it also provides an opportunity to create new realities.
Conflict is a relation between parties with incompatible goals. It is not the property of one party. While it risks escalating into violence, it also offers an opportunity to create new realities.
Five long-term trends form the backdrop for this subject: the fall of the U.S. empire; the de-development of the West; the decline of the state system in favour of nationalisms from below and regionalisms from above; the rise of the rest of the world; and the rise of China.
One of the hidden faces of the economic crisis lies in the famous Black-Scholes equation to find the "correct price" for financial derivatives, a complicated equation adapted from thermodynamics, for which Myron Scholes and Robert C. Merton received the 1997 Swedish State Bank's prize in honour of Alfred Nobel. Fischer Black had died in 1995 and was no longer eligible.
We are currently witnessing the worst features of the state system: trading insults and threats, sanctions, readiness to use extreme violence, forward deployment of U.S. troops in Israel as hostages to guarantee U.S. involvement in a possible war, disregard for common people and the effects of warfare in the Middle East and the world.
We all feel desperate watching the horrible killings, the suffering of the bereaved and the whole population. But what can be done?
The killing of nonviolent demonstrators and civilian bystanders is escalating in Syria. Assad should resign immediately, a coalition government should be formed, and hundreds of mediators should hold dialogues with the many parties, to try and form a federation.
The self-appointed "World Economic Forum" will meet again in Davos, Switzerland, 25-29 January 2012. We can expect a new load of gratuitous advice to emanate from the meeting. Yet its invited participants were utterly unable to comprehend the September 2008 manifestation of the world economic crisis when they met three years ago. So, what are they going to talk about now?