THERE IS NO INDIA:

July 28, 2007

One Man’s Vision for Peace in Long-Troubled Kashmir: Separatist Leader Puts Ideas in Book (Emily Wax, 7/28/07, Washington Post)

Sajad Lone perused the tattered, yellowed pages of a book he salvaged from his father’s library. Written nearly 60 years ago during Kashmir’s prosperous but brief heyday of self-rule, the book detailed some of the region’s successes and failures, and his father referred to it often.

“When I look at this book, I remember my father’s thoughts and hopes,” Lone, 41, said on a rainy afternoon as he glanced at shelves in his library filled with tomes outlining peaceful solutions to the world’s endless conflicts. “It was a time when Kashmir flourished.”

His father, Abdul Gani Lone, a popular, moderate separatist leader, was gunned down in May 2002 by unidentified attackers.

Like his father, Sajad Lone has pushed for an end to the conflict in Kashmir, a stunningly beautiful mountainous region that once was a tourist wonderland where Bollywood movies were filmed but is now a heavily militarized war zone claimed by both India and Pakistan. […]

Last January, India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, asked Lone to help develop a plan for Kashmir with Indian negotiators during talks in New Delhi, the capital. Lone said that the opportunity pleased him but that he told Singh he needed time to respond with a well-thought out proposal.

Lone returned to Kashmir, rented a hotel room in the Gulmarg ski area and wrote his own book, a kind of hopeful sequel to the one from his father’s library, that offered a fresh road map back to peace in Kashmir.

The 266-page book, titled “Achievable Nationhood,” is the first of its kind to be presented by a separatist leader since the latest round of hostilities began in Indian-administered Kashmir in 1989. In the book, released several months ago, Lone proposes a unified Kashmir that would be administered by autonomous leaders.

Under Lone’s plan, which he calls a “vision document,” the Indian- and Pakistani-held parts of Kashmir would share a wide range of institutions. The creation of an Economic Union would allow tax-free trade between the two sides of Kashmir and allow a free flow of people and goods. Kashmir’s defense could be the joint responsibility of Kashmiri, Indian and Pakistani authorities, Lone said.

“There was always confusion over what we want in Kashmir,” said Lone, a hulking man who speaks slowly and often appears to be deep in thought. “This is just my idea put down on paper. And I hope it will spark more interest in Kashmir.”

The Kashmiri think of themselves as a people, so they are a nation. We’re just quibbling over the pace at which that’s accepted.

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THE ANGLOSPHERE SEEKS ITS OWN LEVEL:

July 27, 2007

‘Constitutions are created by revolutions, not jurists’ : In our era of nitpicking over dull charters of rights, the republication of the Declaration of Independence should make your heart beat faster. (John Fitzpatrick, July 2007, spiked review of books)

It is refreshing…and very instructive, to have the opportunity to look again at a constitutional document that should make any heart beat faster.

‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.’

Take that. It is all there really, in those few lines – if you throw in the fact that this Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, was part of the successful institution of a new government in a new country. For the first time in human history, a government was established on the explicit basis that all men are equal, that sovereignty lay with the people, and that unjust governments were there to be overturned. Women and negroes had to wait, but the crucial point is that they came to be included very much more because of this statement of principles, than despite it. Even in the doldrums and alarums of our world today, it is hard to envisage the catastrophe that would see humanity falling back again to a point before this moment in our history – although undoubtedly without vigilance a catastrophe is ever possible. […]

The American revolt, which inspired the French, had itself been inspired by earlier developments in England. When Jefferson penned those words that still resound across the world, he was of course leaning on the philosophy and phrases of men such as Thomas Paine (his Common Sense was published in January 1776) and John Locke (his Second Treatise of Government was published in 1690). He was also leaning on the struggles of men such as the Levellers who fought in Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army during the 1640s.

The Levellers and their supporters in the Army drew up a document which was proposed by ‘five regiments of horse’ and read to the General Army Council at Putney on 29 October 1647. It was entitled An agreement of the people for a firm and present peace upon grounds of common right and freedom and it set out some ‘principles or rules of equal government for a free people’. It declared that the people (nearly all males, that is) were the sovereign power and should choose a new parliament every two years composed of representatives from constituencies of equal size, that there should be equality of all under the law, that every person (without qualification) should enjoy freedom of religion and freedom from conscription, and so on. It was subject to furious debate, and amendment, and eventually it was headed off by Cromwell and the grandees. But it left a mark, and set an example.

In each case, a group of human beings had consciously articulated a set of demands about how society should be organised on the basis of the equality of all, and had struggled to make those demands real. The democratic principles that survive in constitutional form today from these attempts are important both as a standard to be fully realised or transcended, and also as a lesson in how we might go about achieving such things again.

The problem that isolationists, Realists, and the rest always run up against is that the redefinition of sovereignty, whereby Britain and America (in particular) incorporate the requirement of consensual government as the basis of legitimacy, is an (the) essential element of the Founding of both states. To be untrue to the principle is to be unfaithful to the country’s essential character.


THE CODA LEAST OF ALL:

April 16, 2007

THE ANGLOSPHERE VS. JIHAD: a review of A HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES SINCE 1900 BY ANDREW ROBERTS (JOHN O’SULLIVAN, April 15, 2007, NY Post)

‘LES Anglo-Saxons,” argues Andrew Roberts, were united by the English language and by the Common Law. Still more links were listed by Winston Churchill in 1943: “Common conceptions of what is right and decent, a marked regard for fair play, especially to the weak and poor, a stern sentiment of impartial justice and above all a love of personal freedom . . . these are the common conceptions on both sides of the ocean among the English-speaking peoples.”

Roberts has built “A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900” around four great ideological challenges to the dominance of the English-speaking world and its liberal values: Prussian militarism in 1914, Nazi-Fascist aggression in 1939, Soviet Communist aggression in the Cold War and the Islamist jihad against the West today. He tells the story of how these conflicts were begun and (with the exception of the last) resolved.

Roberts’ message is essentially optimistic. The first three challenges, he points out, were formidable; all seemed, at times, to be within reach of their goals; all benefited initially from a reluctance of their intended victims to take them seriously, but all eventually lost because “les Anglo-Saxons,” once aroused, were powerful and determined enough to crush them.

The fundamental insight of the


DO EVEN SOCCER TEAMS EVER ASK TO BE RELEGATED?:

February 2, 2007

Britain will never join an EU army (Liam Fox, 2/02/07, Daily Telegraph)

At a practical level, those who favour a greater role for the EU have three essential problems – the lack of defence spending among EU members, the lack of a common approach to foreign policy and the question of democratic accountability.

I often refer to the fact that Britain spends just 2.5 per cent of its GDP on defence, the lowest figure since 1930. Yet, while this is low by Britain’s standards, it is much more than many of our European partners spend. Germany spends only 1.4 per cent of its GDP on defence. For Spain, the figure is a mere 1.3 per cent, and Holland 1.7 per cent. Austria spends just 0.7 per cent and is considering reducing it further.

This is theoretically not an insurmountable problem, but to overcome it requires a revolution in thinking, and a transformation, particularly among low-spending countries, which shows no signs of even stirring on the horizon.

The idea that any of the EU states would ever be willing to contemplate spending on a scale that would match the level of protection afforded by the American defence umbrella is laughable. It is an issue that is likely to grow in significance when the British public awaken to the fact that, in combined Nato missions such as Afghanistan, British taxpayers and troops are carrying a disproportionate burden because too many of our European allies are unwilling to shoulder their fair share.

The second problem relates to foreign policy. Defence policy inevitably follows foreign policy: it is about projecting the force when needed to support your foreign policy objectives. Any common defence policy must act in step with a co-ordinated foreign policy. History teaches us that national self-interest will usually trump supra-national aspirations. Events in the Balkans since 1990 have shown how difficult it is to merge individual countries’ foreign policy objectives.

The crisis in the Balkans cruelly exposed the gap between EU rhetoric and the ability to act effectively. Unable to keep a peace that did not exist and unwilling to involve themselves in conflict, Europe’s Hour had indeed come, but it failed to live up to the challenge. It was America that was the prime mover in saving the Balkans from Euro-paralysis.

Better to follow America than”lead” Europe.


THERE IS NO BRITAIN:

January 29, 2007

Just like Scotland, I’m in the middle of an identity crisis (Niall Ferguson, 28/01/2007, Sunday Telegraph)

Having once been the best educated and most entrepreneurial part of the United Kingdom, Scotland has become a byword for big government, high unemployment and low achievement. Southern Ireland — once regarded by Scots like me as a benighted outpost of Popery and poverty — has eclipsed Scotland at everything from foreign direct investment to football.

The answer, argue the Scot Nats, is independence. And the “Celtic Tiger” is not their only role model. The SNP website also lauds the achievements of Australia, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Montenegro, New Zealand and Norway, all places where “independence has worked”.

It is, of course, a little premature to conclude that independence has worked in Montenegro, which has enjoyed self-government for less than eight months. Still, the point is superficially a reasonable one. There are indeed plenty of countries smaller than Scotland (population 5.1 million) that have prospered under their own flag. And it is not wholly implausible to imagine an independent Scotland as Finland West or New Zealand North.

On the other hand, there are plenty of countries with populations of around five million that have made rather less of a success of independence. Sierra Leone springs to mind. As does Eritrea. As does Turkmenistan. Small isn’t always beautiful. The question therefore arises: Just when does it make sense for a people to go it alone?

The past century has seen a remarkable global experiment in what used to be called “self-determination”, so we have plenty of evidence to go on. Back in 1913, around 82 per cent of the world’s population lived in some 14 empires. Nation states were the exception, not the rule. But two world wars, a depression and a spate of revolutions shattered the old imperial order, ushering in an era of almost incessant political fragmentation. In 1946, there were 74 sovereign states in the world. By 1995 there were 192.

It’s hardly a purely economic question, but from an economic perspective there is no question that an island people who were colonized by the Brits will succeed on their own and smallness is a huge boon.


TELL JONATHAN CHAIT TO STOP TRYING TO DIG UP MARCOS:

November 29, 2006

Is the Philippines Finally Turning Around?: Growth is up. The deficit is down. President Arroyo has survived impeachment threats. The service sector is thriving. Yet much remains to be done (Assif Shameen , 11/22/06, Business Week)

[T]he fact that the center is even close to completion is significant. It is all part of a concerted rebranding effort underway under Arroyo’s leadership for this sprawling archipelago—long viewed as a politically unstable economic underachiever. “We want the region and the world to see that the Philippines has arrived,” Arroyo said during an exclusive interview with BusinessWeek.com on Nov. 20.

Maybe Arroyo has arrived too, in a way. That she is even around to host the summit is nothing short of a miracle. A year ago, Arroyo’s five-year-old administration was under siege. Almost daily street demonstrators called for her ouster in what was billed as “People Power III.” That was not a good place to be, considering two previous people power waves of protest led to the removal of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Joseph Estrada in January 2001.

Amid rumors of military coups (that never transpired), Arroyo also managed to narrowly avoid an impeachment trial in the Congress over allegations of government corruption and vote fraud. Along the way, though, she stayed focused on economic reforms, pushing through tax hikes to cope with the country’s massive fiscal problems and ushering in other revenue-boosting measures. The economy is now in the best shape it has been since the 1950s. “I have said all along there is no gain without pain,” she points out.

Economists have boosted growth forecasts this year to 5.6%—and to more than 6.5% in 2007. Chronic budget deficits have almost been eliminated in a nation that was under scrutiny from credit agencies as a government-default candidate. Moreover, foreign investors are testing the waters again. Foreign direct investments hit $1.2 billion last year and likely will grow to $2 billion this year based on preliminary data. “We are now ready for a take-off,” Arroyo insists.

Analysts enjoy the Philippines turnaround story even though they say much more needs to be done. “Stronger economic fundamentals and growth are starting to feed off one another,” notes Rob Subbaraman, an economist for Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong.
Long Way to Go

Indeed, he is so impressed with the turnaround that Subbaraman says “credit rating agencies should start rewarding the Philippines for its economic growth” with upgrades. “The reforms have reached a critical point where virtuous spirals are developing,” he thinks.

President Arroyo’s Vision for the Philippines: She tells Businessweek.com about her plans to privatize, invest in infrastructure, and make the archipelago a top player in business process outsourcing (Assif Shameen , 11/22/06, Business Week)

Not long ago, the Philippines was in political turmoil, suffering from a huge budget deficit, weak currency and worries the country couldn’t compete with China or India. Today the International Monetary Fund praises the country. What has changed?

I am glad that people are seeing that we’ve finally arrived. There is no looking back from here. Clearly, because of the steps we took, the days of huge deficits are gone. Gone, too, are the days of stagnation and poor economic growth. We fought hard for economic reforms. The first phase was to raise the revenues needed to invest in our infrastructure and our people so that Philippines is a more competitive place to do business and have a better standard of living. Those first battles have been won.

The budget deficit is under control, we are on our way to having a balanced budget by 2008, the stock market is up, the peso is strong, poverty rate is down, per capita income is up, investors are coming in again, growth is robust, new revenues can now be invested in long-overdue repair and rebuilding of our infrastructure, education, health, and job creation. The IMF and credit-rating agencies recognize this and so we are getting constant upgrades. We believe we are now in a virtuous cycle where one good thing leads to another.

Still, the Philippines has an image problem. How do you counter this image issue and tell investors this time it’s for real?

Well, they can see the difficult economic reforms that we’ve undertaken. They can see the revenues that we’ve raised in order to make investments in infrastructure and education. They can also see that I was even willing to pay a political cost to get these through. Now the results are coming in. I am happy the investors are more forthcoming.

The IMF and credit rating agencies reflect the image that we have in the world and we are getting accolades from them for the improvements we have made. Investments are coming in a range of sectors from business process outsourcing to mining. We’ve made it clear that we only encourage mining investments that are ecologically responsible so that there is sustainable development.

Because we now have money to invest, I have announced a trillion peso (nearly $20 billion) infrastructure program for the medium term. The money will come from our new revenues, from government corporations as well as the private sector. A lot of private-sector companies and foreign investors have shown interest and we are now trying to move on the infrastructure projects.


BUT WE'RE EXCEPTIONAL EVEN WITHIN THE ANGLOSPHERE:

November 27, 2006

The Exceptionally Entrepreneurial Society (Arnold Kling, 27 Nov 2006, Tech Central Station)

Edmund Phelps is the 2006 winner of the Nobel Prize in economics. Shortly after his award was announced, Phelps published an essay on how capitalism in the United States differs from the system in Continental Europe. Phelps wrote,

There are two economic systems in the West. Several nations — including the U.S., Canada and the U.K. — have a private-ownership system marked by great openness to the implementation of new commercial ideas coming from entrepreneurs, and by a pluralism of views among the financiers who select the ideas to nurture by providing the capital and incentives necessary for their development. Although much innovation comes from established companies, as in pharmaceuticals, much comes from start-ups, particularly the most novel innovations…

The other system — in Western Continental Europe — though also based on private ownership, has been modified by the introduction of institutions aimed at protecting the interests of “stakeholders” and “social partners.” The system’s institutions include big employer confederations, big unions and monopolistic banks.

In Continental Europe, large banks control the bulk of investment. The United States has a more vibrant stock market, many more banks, venture capital firms, and other financial channels.

In Continental Europe, large established firms have access to funds from the large banks, but newer enterprises have a much more difficult time raising money. In the United States, the more competitive financial system gives more opportunity for entrepreneurs to raise start-up capital. […]

If the United States is exceptional because of our entrepreneurial culture, then our natural allies may not be in Continental Europe, in spite of its democratic governments and high levels of economic development. China seems more dynamic than Europe, but I would argue that China’s government-controlled financial system ultimately is not compatible with American-style entrepreneurship. Instead, we may have more in common with other nations of the Anglosphere, as well as such entrepreneurial outposts as India, Israel, and Singapore.

For the half century following World War II, the United States focused on democracy as the cornerstone of foreign policy. Democratic nations were our allies, and promoting democracy abroad was a top priority. However, it may be that American exceptionalism mostly reflects entrepreneurship. In that case, we have less in common with European social democracy than we thought previously. And, if our goal is to have more countries that look like America, then having them adopt a democratic political system may not be necessary and will certainly not be sufficient.

One wouldn’t expect a libertarian to grasp the fact, bit neither democracy nor capitalism are sufficient. They’re means, not ends.