Thursday Water Cooler

In Terms Of Global Governance, We Might Have To Settle For Good Enough
Stewart Patrick makes a case in Foreign Affairs that in terms of global governance, there may be a need to let go of hopes of good governance in favor of “good enough” governance.

“The clutter is unsightly and unwieldy, but it has some advantages, as well. No single multilateral body could handle all the world’s complex transnational problems, let alone do so effectively or nimbly. And the plurality of institutions and forums is not always dysfunctional, because it can offer states the chance to act relatively deftly and flexibly in responding to new challenges. But regardless of what one thinks of the current global disorder, it is clearly here to stay, and so the challenge is to make it work as well as possible,” he writes.

The chaos is not limited to the Security Council he adds.

“Despite modest management reforms, the UN Secretariat and many UN agencies remain opaque, and their budgeting and operations are hamstrung by outdated personnel policies that encourage cronyism. Within the UN General Assembly, meanwhile, irresponsible actors who play to the galleries often dominate debates, and too many resolutions reflect encrusted regional and ideological blocs that somehow persist long after their sell-by date.

“With the Security Council dominated by the old guard, rising powers have begun eyeing possible alternative venues for achieving influence and expressing their concerns. Shifts in global power have always ultimately produced shifts in the institutional superstructure, but what is distinctive today is the simultaneous emergence of multiple power centers with regional and potentially global aspirations.”

Andrew Browne writes in The Wall Street Journal about the dangerous rivalry developing between Japan and China.

“In theory, a simultaneous flowering of these two economies should have a benefit for each other—and, therefore, the whole region. They are, after all, immensely complementary: Japan has formidable industrial organization, technological mastery and financial depth; China is a fount of lower-end manufactures and agricultural produce.

“The reality, though, is that politics are driving them apart. Spurring the economic ambitions of both Mr. Xi and Mr. Abe is a nationalism that’s rooted in their brutally contested recent past.”

That rivalry has emerged at the global financial meeting in Davos, Switzerland, reports The Los Angeles Times.

Beginning with a speech by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that outlined his fiscal policies, more commoly known as Abenomics.

“‘We must restrain military expansion in Asia … which otherwise could go unchecked,’ Abe warned the global business and political delegates without specifically naming China. ‘If peace and stability were shaken in Asia, the knock-on effect for the entire world would be enormous.’

“Obviously alluding to Beijing’s impressive economic performance over the last decade, Abe warned that “the dividend of growth in Asia must not be wasted on military expansion.’ Abe also called for making military budgets ‘completely transparent,’ another dig at China.”

0oNew Book Examines The Post-WWII Relationship Between Jews And Germans
Yascha Mounk, a 31-year-old German Jew who’s a doctoral candidate at Harvard, writes in a new book, Stranger in My Own Country: A Jewish Family in Modern Germany about his own search for an identity and explores German attitudes toward Jews during the 70 years following the Holocaust.

“Perhaps this is the most important lesson from Mounk’s book: Ethnic alienation is more personal than political. Mounk speaks German without an accent; he looks similar to his fellow countrymen; he doesn’t even observe major Jewish holidays. Yet growing up in Germany in the 1990s and 2000s, he felt totally different from his peers. Almost implausibly, the abstract idea of collective national guilt defined his everyday life in a big way,” The Atlantic’s Emma Green says in reviewing the book.

Does Wealth And Inequality Produce Poverty?
Dan Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, takes on the assertion being made by some financial leaders in Davos that inequality is contributing to an increase in poverty. Citing academic research, he makes a distinction between wealth earned through graft and wealthy earned through work saying that “wealth achieved via government is cronyism, and that contributes to economic stagnation.”

He builds on that statement saying, “The bottom line is that the poor aren’t poor because of honest rich people. The poor are suffering because of big government, including the cronyism that lines the pockets of dishonest companies and individuals that feed at the public trough. Unfortunately, many insider leftists are perfectly content with those policies and they use inequality to distract voters from the real problem,” he argues in The Commentator.



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