US Leadership, Not Disengagement, Needed

US Leadership Key To Ensuring Democratic Movements Commentator columnist Lawrence Haas contends that “democratic movements need the moral, financial, technical, and other support from the United States and allies” now more than ever.

Citing findings from Freedom House’s annual report of the state of freedom in nations around the world, the former advisor to Vice President Al Gore, contends that as “dissidents are struggling, the autocrats are digging in, and freedom’s future is on the line. No nation is more important to the outcome than the United States.”

Freedom On The Decline
According to the non-partisan think tank Freedom House, in 2012, 90 countries were free compared with 47 that were categorized as “not free.” In the middle were 58 nations that could be defined as partly free.

The Economist echoes Haas’ sentiments in a recent editorial.

Hopes For A More Engaged Obama
While there were “hopes he might heal the world” in his first term, the magazine notes that the first four years were marked by caution and “a tone of cool detachment” rather than engagement.

“Mr Obama’s America seeks to be an indispensable catalyst: present, but not deeply involved,” the editorial contends. Hopes, however, for a more active administration in the coming term come at a time when domestic politics are not in their favor.

“Important countries and regions are glaringly absent from the “to-do” lists circulating in official Washington and its more influential think-tanks. This reflects both a realistic sense of the limits on presidential time and attention, and brutal assessments of domestic American politics.”

Protectionism Stifles Innovation, Hinders Economic Growth
Marco Annunziata, an economist with General Electric, says that while the desire to see local economies benefit more from innovation, that desire results in negative growth when it comes in the form of protectionism.

“There is an increasing risk that protectionist pressures might escalate to the point of hindering growth in global trade, and therefore slowing the global economy further. Similarly, tensions on exchange rates are simmering and may come back to the boil, with the threat of “currency wars” bringing higher uncertainty and volatility in foreign exchange markets,” he writes.

Relying on data from GE’s 2013 Innovation Barometer, Annunziata argues that forming global partnerships is more important now than ever because “open, collaborative cross-border innovation is the most efficient way to achieve faster and greater results, with benefits accruing on a global scale.”


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