Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
There is an unstated assumption in all of this that the world leaders are intelligent and competent. Recent events would tend to indicate otherwise.

We have a group of leaders who have no idea what to do in foreign affairs. Conflicts have been breaking out for several decades in Africa, the Balkans, the former SSR's and elsewhere.

In every case there was much diplomatic posturing by western leaders but nothing was done to solve the situation. Some of the conflicts have mostly petered out as all the players became exhausted (Congo, Nigeria), but others persist (Darfur, Somalia, Kosovo).

Some situations don't want to get fixed (Israel and the neighboring states) because the international tensions distract the local populations from domestic issues of corruption and authoritarian regimes.

In addition the leaders have to keep one (both?) eye on their own population. This makes them say things that are pure bluster. Bush and Putin are both good at this sort of thing.

The danger with incompetent leaders is that events will spiral out of control and then escalate before the grownups can step in. The issue in Georgia, for example, is unfixable. There is no settlement that will leave the Russians, the Ossetians and the Georgians all happy. Either the territory will be subsumed back into George which will leave the first two groups angry, or it will be absorbed into Russia which will leave the latter two groups angry, or will become "independent" which will leave everybody angry.

I heard a wise thing said by conductor Daniel Barenboim about Palestine, that both sides want the same bit of land and that neither military nor diplomatic efforts can work, only accommodation by the people themselves can bring about a resolution. This is the case in most of these conflict regions.

It is in the interests of the big powers to keep these sorts of antagonisms going, and if the people allow themselves to be manipulated this way then they are doomed. If the Irish could work something out, then others can develop the will to do it.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2008 at 10:13:43 AM EST

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