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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Highs and Lows in British Politics: Brown in political turmoil and discontent from the Parliament

[Column]




by Emil Angelo C. Martinez




Gordon Brown’s popularity was a mere silver lining. Prior to the global financial crisis and prior to his prophecies, his hold to prime ministership was rigorous, unpopular and critically questioned – even his governance was pretty much of a mockery from the opposition and thumbs down from his allies, if there are any. But what saved him from total oblivion and from being Blair’s successor to total political defeat is his economic recession prophecies, solutions and tough actions. At times when the United States, the center of world capitalism and the den of Wall Street executives and foreign traders and investors, merely had no clue to what will come whereby its most brilliant American prophets like Roubini and Krugman have been snubbed and ignored about the incoming economic tsunami (to borrow it from the words of the free-market intellectual, Alan Greenspan), Britain and its Prime Minister took the advantage of cushioning the dire effects of recession – by saving its economy and sharing the “how’s and what to do’s” during the economic downturn. If Bush among others became so unpopular and blamed because of his negligence [to the recession], his Western counterparts made it clear that it is not a joke at all. And again, thanks, Gordon Brown – your time has come to stand out and step up in the global spotlight. His economic overhaul model that had been vigorously adopted around the world is just the first of his global recognition.
The G20: Image Booster
Yes, Brown is the leading icon against the global economic turmoil, not Bush as one would abruptly expect. Merkel and Sarkozy (but less of Berlusconi) are even more popular than Bush in dealing with the crisis, only with a different twist. These two anti-Anglo Saxon model, anti-Thatcherism statespersons were more of anti-Gordon stimulus model. But still, Gordon’s immense global famousness with regards to his solution which is envied around the world is also gaining political support (less local, more international, though) – making him backed by a vast number of supporters that can even just topple down the antithesis of Merkel and Sarkozy.
Following the solution brought by Brown, actions must be put in place to bring it to reality. And so the G-20 was convened. With the principles of “growth”, “jobs”, and “stability”, the summit agreed on general courses of actions to curtail the effects of the crisis and to prevent another one. Yet, this is not just a convention of state heads trying to save their economies and their friends – it is a place and the right time to make popularity points. Who got the highest score? Obama may be the first on the list – but not on the main category which is “highest score in economic leadership”. He was just the first to be popular among the faces – the neophyte among veterans. It’s not Sarkozy. He falls on the category of “defiant deviance”. Nor Merkel. She ranks second from Sarkozy (because both tried to boycott the convention because they didn’t want stimulus). Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister, got the award. Internationally, the G-20 was seen as an image booster for the one who convened it (none other but Gordon). Even locally, Gordon got considerable amount of support and praise because of his global leadership. And this meant that Brown may stay in absolute power where the Opposition lacks power to counter his heavily fortified image.
When in the top, there’s nowhere to go but down
Perhaps, anyone could consider Brown’s popularity as short-lived, pretty much. Just a few months after the success of the G-20 Summit in London, the most surprisingly unexpected events come through. These events are scandalous. They are in fact scandals, not of Brown’s but of his government’s. Recent cases of corruption and misappropriation of taxpayers’ money almost stained Brown’s image – his impeccable office just got messed up, enough for the Opposition to take advantage. And the major issue? The Parliament is weakening in support for him. The recent resignation of the House Speaker (first ever for a lot of centuries since the last resignation) was a preliminary cue for some – Brown may be next. In this case, it is very true that when Brown is enjoying the summit of his salvaged hold on Prime Ministership, he has no way to go but down. Following such scandals, Parliamentarians started to feel that the incredibility of accountability in Brown’s government means that he is an ineffective leader and public servant. If his government fails – ergo – he fails too. However, it might be a very blunt idea to blame it all down to Gordon, but given that Britain’s often unstable politics and aggressively hostile Opposition – it has given much way to just remove someone from power and office when the other side of the pole does everything to cause the downfall of the enemy.
To say, Brown deserves it and doesn’t. He has given much to his country at times of economic crisis, but when it comes to local governance, he just lacks initiatives for “countrymen-first policy”. In fact, his popularity was global, not local – temporary that is. The international community rallies behind him, not the British nation – the world even gained more than what his country gained from his economic initiatives. His economic heroism may be in the long run an advantage to the British nation, yet it's not bothering them. What matters most dearly is that one single mistake is an antecedent of a vicious cycle of boos and smile-less faces. Gordon Brown did fail to establish balance between international and national responsibilities. His focus on saving a global problem had either brought no focus and attention to local issues in Britain or fulfilling his prime duties at home. Either way, he did it.
Too late to spare
It is both rational and instinctive to come up with antidotes when poisoned. Having enough threatening perils of losing his office, Brown has to do something to save his image, again. What must he do? Put focus locally and apply what made the world go rallying behind the British idea. Balance should be the principle. But following the increasing loss of support, strengthening of opposition and loss of EU popularity, Brown’s salvaging actions may be too late to spare. All he has to do is to wait and pray that no more Trojan Horses breaching his weakened fortress. After all, antidotes may not work in all cases!

The Detainee and Prisoner Dilemmas

Column

by Emil Angelo C. Martinez

As more and more crimes come each day, anytime of the day, inflicted to people of different walks of life are becoming not just a particular problem of law and order or security and whatever there is but becomes a problem of prisons, too. In the state of California, overcrowding of inmates are much of a focal problem, where some say the constitutional rights of these "still-humans-who-deserve-respect" are not being served, rather violated because of the condition they are in. It is a dilemma for Congress to face.....legislating fiscal policies to curtail prison overcrowding. Even so, these people deserve some attention and proper care despite of their wrongdoings. But the much "harder" issue to be faced in the not-so-distant-future is that Obama's plan to (1) restructure Guantanamo operations, not totally shutting it down; (2) relocate them to (what for it....what for it) "US territory" and (3) try them in court, is still a heavy and tough matter for debate. Consider the first case: What do they mean of restructuring? Obama's recent resolution on the creation of "proper" bodies to administer detention cases in Guantanamo through reinventing military commissions which are entirely having big stake in the scheme of "who's who, who's to detain" is a bold, sound and justifiable step towards giving proper justice to the detainees. But will it leave out the wrongdoings of Bush Administration and those involved in handling such cases? Either way, plan number 1 is B+. The second case is more of a Republican loathing machine, and Democrat-thumbs down lever - relocation of detainees from Cuba to US is not much of a brilliant idea though, it's a political suicide to Obama and a disgust from the right. So, why is it so unpopular and unacceptable? First, relocation does not solve anything. May it be transferring (which is another plan of Obama's by the way) some prisoners to Palau Islands or to Berlusconi's territory or globalizing and exporting these terrorists (those who are considered ones beyond reasonable doubt) and untried detainees (victims of the AUMF, executive "indefinite detention" and violations of Miranda Rights), it's just applying geography to make it look like "oh, we transported 50% of our upkeep of terrorists". First of, who will ever accept transfer of these prisoners in the first place, worse, some weren't tried and even having worse punishments and treatments compared to what the US government gives? Political benefit or power play may be or crappy realpolitik. Second, relocating them "to US" can be a dangerous security problem. Worse, the American people doesn't welcome it. So what should the government do to the terrorists beyond reasonable doubt and the still-suspected but arbitrarily detained? US should apply its extradition laws. What if no country accepts their own comrades? It's a renewal of principle for these countries. for example, tried and guilty terrorists should be brought home to their homeland. While those who are left should be properly tried. In that way, it lessens the problem of number of detainees in Guantanamo and other detention facilities all over. Though it's understandable to what happened in Abu Ghrahib (stay tuned to this blog for another post regarding extradition problems), making them go home can be a serious security breach. Lastly, making near proximity of dangerous people near paranoid individuals can excite diabolical reactions. Worse, it can even impair and endanger US if we talk about allowing Al Capone to walk the streets of New York free from watchful eyes (if you know what I mean here). So, the last plan is better. What these people need is proper trial. Some of them are accused, arrested, detained, tortured, etc. in arbitrary manner. These dilemmas can only be resolved if and only if proper judicial processes are met......so as a positive and wise actions from Obama's government....so as from the World.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Tipping Point: What happens when US and the World run out of alternatives?

In particular cases of negotiations, settlements or diplomatic arrangements, the "silver lining" is that amidst the tumults of differing views and judgments, we also tend to settle things if our own views can't simply be agreeable to others. Put it this way, when there is no assurance that I, you or they will win over another party in cases of diplomacy or that one state wants this state to obey them, it's either we throw carrots at them, saber-rattle, give them nothing but pain in the ass or.....to no resort at all.....nothing but use of punitive force. Do we hardly want war and use of force just to make people obey us? When Kennedy paid anti-Castro guerrillas to stage revolt (or coup to stop Castro from his evil plans for good under Russia's power), the situation portrays a no-diplomacy, no-negotiation scenario in the part of the Castro government. The fact of the matter is that diplomacy, negotiations, settlements and what not are one in a million shot that you can't just simply repeat by brining the same demands to the table - the things you want to negotiate with. Such things did not effectively work in North Korea. China is not a good place to open up human rights issues because aggression can lead to bloodshed, hypothetically and figuratively. But among US's on-going negotiations, will it be effective given that the states (or groups) they are negotiating with is just as hard as rock and begins to be disobedient?
This is the tipping point of US scare tactics. Consider this case: if US wants to reconcile Israel and Palestine, gift for Palestine through two-state policy and freedom from Israel settlements and another gift for Israel which is just the opposite of that of Palestine. What will US do? There is a stalemate. Another case: what happens when US can no longer impose sanctions and embargoes to Iran (to give full credit, I got the idea from Time.com article "Sanctions Unlikely To Stop Iran's Nuclear Quest" by Tony Karon dated 10th of August 2009) Such issue is more of a general question: what happens when a superpower who dictates every action of the lower ones begin to contest, defy and question its legitimacy in terms of power and economic capability? Is this a New Age scenario of balancing of power where the fallen remnants of once powerful societies begin to rise and struggle for freedom from hegemony? What happens when nothing works, no alternatives to settle things? Impunity. War. Use of Force. Termination of the unwanted. It may sound scary, terrible and destructive but such situations have ever happened even before. What's the reason why France and UK waged war with Hitler's Germany? Hitler broke the Warsaw Pact and the diplomatic ties....lost. Contemporary-wise...will it happen to US's containments all over the world? Will Iran forever be a follower of US commands and demands on nuclear capabilities? If US cannot use embargoes or saber-rattlings (which US tries to avoid as of now) and desperate enough for the ending of nuclear proliferation, will they US immediate force to stop it. Another invasion? Is it a good reason to invade Iran just like what they did to Iraq? The problem is that diplomacy can sometimes not work all the time at the same situations or different. The posing threat is that when negotiation ends, settlements sink for good, things must be dealt with expectedly.......a prediction of use of war as the last resort.


.....the tipping point of political engagement is irrelevant.....no room to settle

Cookies, everyone?


Kim Jong-Il gave US “and” the world some friendly offerings...and don’t expect nothing is to be asked in return.

[A Special Column]

by Emil Angelo C. Martinez


When everyone tried to appease North’s Dear Leader following after its diabolically-construed rocket launch a few months ago and still following “his” aggressiveness to the partly-untimely, partly-the-only-thing-to-do-expectedly condemnation from the UN and many nation-states who see the issue “nuclearly” (which means this could lead to a devastatingly hurtful war of nukes), the hardcore and the hard-headedness of Kim Jong-Il can be a risky price, more of a toxic one – which means nothing will work unless it’s their call....their demand still at the end of the day. This particular case goes with the somehow mysterious arrest and prosecution of two US journalists who allegedly “illegally” slipped beyond the border of North Korea as they cover reports of women exploitation to China. They were “obviously” found guilty – as a means of either having a power “ace” (pretty much the Hearts) which is realpolitik or a form of bargaining flesh-es or maybe their justice system is too democratized (or democratic?) enough to find the accusations justiciable. But anyhow, everyone “construed” it to be the latter – you know – the bargaining chip one. And it is surprising that the North progresses from reluctant agreements and negotiations to informal political play – bargaining, that is – more of a trade, tariff unpredictable, immeasurable. Settling is what Kim sees fit...and clever.
Praise for wisdom. But it doesn’t end there. Following condemnation, the North withdrew from the Six-party talks and demands resume of talks only to US. Why? Maybe US is its formidable foe who barraged them with overwhelming sanctions or that US is much easier to talk and negotiate with. (Standing question: Since the North is pretty much beaten up already and it needs consolation, China is there! So, why not seek support from China that seems lenient and supportive of the North?) It is understandable though that they hold Americans, not Chinese, Russians or South Koreans – ergo-they would return them to their own country. But the point here is that the North plays pretty much better now, using show-offs to gather attention and ring bells of deaf ears around. What does it say to us? Does this mean the North eases up hostility and wants friendship? Will Kim host another orchestra in the future? Or.....pretty much worse. Why did the North withdraw from the talks? Why did they react so agitatedly to the UN condemnation (where they only said that “hey, you got some breaking of rules there, what’s the matter? You know we don’t like that, so did your ambassador – or did he?). Bargain? What for? To be freely nuclear, of course. Simply to be at liberty from international oversights or definitions that says “Don’t go nuclear, we don’t like that. You are not good at handling things, especially “explosive” things. We don’t want your hands get into the “DESTROY” button – you are too playful.” Getting fed up “easily” is natural to hot-tempered. What for? Demands for dangerous toys taken away from them, only to be given back if they behave well enough.
The North is getting too hot already to be nuclear (which they already are technically only that, again, nobody trusts them). And that’s the reason why they want the US to talk to them, US being the major proponent of anti-Nuclear North Korea. They want to be free (less drama, please but cue Queen’s “I want to break free” – for comedy purposes). And does liberty from nuclear ban and sanctions preclude hostility? Totally, it will be a major issue for security. If the international community won’t be hard on this, imminent security problems can be dangerous. And the release of the two journalists meant something? Did Bill Clinton’s charms (I.....I mean to say diplomacy and good talks) work pretty darn good to convince Kim just like that? A snap? Poof!? No, the talks between the two has been scary....and hard, some say. But anyway, what has to be expected from the recent release is that the story never ends up Kim being the one laughed at....or Al Gore gone overshadowed....or still Kim gets international praise....which is temporary, who knows. Surely, something is to be asked in return. What? What could that be? Uh....it’s among these: “Give me liberty or I give you death” (Nota bene: I don’t mean to use Patrick Henry’s chivalric words nefariously), “Give me gifts and we obey....but still provisional” and “........future tells....”. But the deepest question that needs to be asked is: what do they really want to achieve after all of these? Wipe out the South by waging war with them? Totally annihilate enemies? Be the supreme power like the presently super powers that need not to be easily poked and be scolded? (Of course, states can be bullies, too....it’s hardly avoidable.). Your call.....while Kim waits for a “Thank You card”...with a huge gift, of course. Chop-chop! Better be a good one!

Tea, anyone?

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Dawn of Democracy and Freedom - Corazon Aquino: 1933 - 2009 - A Tribute (Special Post)

Toppling down an oppressively powerful regime is a hard and a challenging risk to take, especially when the regime shows its climactic paramount of subjugation. Although it may be the same case that the oppressed will first cross boundaries of hardship embracing with them the principles of freedom, liberty and democracy, it hasn't been an impediment to do so - it has been an inspiration. As Gandhi crossed seas of salt to defy the oppressors, Ninoy did the same for his country - crossing walls of perils the dictatorship prepared against marches for freedom. Ninoy might have left some unfinished crusades, but his widow, Corazon Aquino, took his chivalry and marched with the people to continue the legacy for democracy against tyrannay. Cory marched all the way through treacherous cliffs and. . . . .fought for the aimed principle with the people. Not much to say and express it but. . . .Cory and the people fighting for democracy got what they deserve. After 23 years, the woman behind galvanizing the spirit of popular freedom passed away. The heroine of democracy left a legacy to be remembered and embraced in perpetuity. Cory Aquino, we salute you.