FM newswire for May 18, interesting articles about geopolitics

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis. If you find this useful, please pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1. Detailed but valuable information:  “Energy and the Economy“, Adam Sieminski, Deutsche Bank, 6 April 2010 — Esp note slide 11:  1% increase in real global GDP boosts oil demand by 0.4%!
  2. Situation report from one of the best teams of economic analysts:  “Navigating the Fiscal Challenges Ahead“, IMF, 14 May 2010
  3. Asymmetrical political polarization:  “The GOP’s grass-roots obstructionists“, Washington Post, 16 May 2010
  4. The little-known insurgency, perhaps the most important in the world:   “The Naxalite Insurgency in India“, Kristian A. Kennedy, Geopolitical Monitor, 17 May 2010 — See here for more about the Naxalites.
  5. Truth or spin?  “Secrets From Inside the Obama War Room“, Jonathan Alter, Newsweek, 15 May 2010 — I vote spin.  Team Obama is over their head, grasping for shreds of policy.
  6. I recommend reading Michael Cohen’s analysis of Alter’s article, Democracy Arsenal, 17 May 2010
  7. Sino-US relations – Economic deterrence & asymmetric vulnerability“, Markus Jaeger, Deutsche Bank, 17 May 2010
  8. It’s over in Iran“, Stephen Kinzer, Global Post, 17 May 2010 — “One year after the street protests that shook Iran, residents whisper that the regime has won.”
  9. Rerouting Logistics in Afghanistan“, ISN Security Watch, 17 May 2010 — “Recent events highlight both the possibilities and fragility of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) presence in Afghanistan”

Today’s Feature Articles

(10)  Please read in full (it’s short):  “Et Tu, Wolfgang?“, Paul Krugman, op-ed in the New York Times, 17 May 2010 — Emphasis in the original.  Excerpt:

Perhaps the most startling and frustrating thing about the debate over the fate of the euro is the way almost everyone avoids confronting the core issue — the elephant in the euro. With a unified currency, adjustment to differential shocks requires adjustments in relative wages — and because the nations of the European periphery have gone from boom to bust, their adjustment must be downward. At this point, wages in Greece/Spain/Portugal/Latvia/Estonia etc. need to fall something like 20-30 percent relative to wages in Germany. Let me repeat that:

Wages in the periphery need to fall 20-30% relative to Germany.

(11)  Condescending To The Folks“, digby, Hullabaloo, 17 May 2010

… it didn’t matter that he {Bush Jr} was a blatant phony. What mattered was that he cared enough to present himself to his tribal brethren as one of them. His phoniness was a tribute to their culture and customs.

This Alabama candidate is also using tribal language, and some of it’s nearly incoherent. (Thugs and criminals are keeping the importance of the Agriculture commissioner position secret so they can steal the money?) But it conveys a macho, authoritarian attitude, which is a mainstay of the conservative appeal and he hits all the important cultural notes, even though most of them have absolutely nothing to do with agriculture commissioner business. But specifics are beside the point. It’s about conveying that he’s one of them — against all the other “them’s.” I doubt very seriously that his potential constituents find this condescending at all. Indeed, I’ll bet they very much appreciate this candidate’s respect for their shared symbols.

Liberals don’t do this as much because they just don’t have the well-defined tribal culture (the mythic America of the 50s — both the 1850s and the 1950s) that the right shares with one another. But Barack Obama came as close as anyone to hitting it. Unlike the right, the Democrats have to be careful because of the persistent Village obsession with the 60s but still, Obama was able to tap into shared identity symbolism and cultural commonality from the slogans to the posters to the music and the gestures. His whole persona was an image that appealed on a subliminal level to his political tribe.

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