Though Brussels is the centre of Europe it seems that Belgium is coming to the realisation that its nationhood is of no use any more because of bickering between Walloon and Flemish politicians.
The Economist points out that Belgians themselves are asking whether or not it is better to split the country down the middle along language lines, and proposes that the Walloon side becomes part of France and the Flemish side part of Holland. If they can not elect a government because of bickering, perhaps the split is a good thing. The Economist Article
The frustration of Belgians is demonstrated by the amusing eBay posting which offered Belgium for sale! “For Sale: Belgium, a Kingdom in three parts … free premium: the king and his court (costs not included).” Read the story on Yahoo News here.
Jean-Pierre Lehmann eloquently describes the opportunity to include Iran in globalisation which would benefit the world, rather than consuming resources needlessly. The benefits include participation of the nation with the fifth largest oil reserves, access to a great world civilisation and a balance to fundamentalist culture. We support his suggestions following:
- Stop treating Iran as a pariah nation;
- Recognize and apologize for the abuses committed in the past, especially during and in the decades following the 1953 coup d’état;
- Engage more non-Western actors in the conflict resolution process in the Middle East, with India potentially playing a key role;
- Lift all economic sanctions against Iran unconditionally, giving strong encouragement for Western businesses to invest in and trade with Iran;
- Provide Iranian executives with management education — and encourage Iranian entrepreneurs to engage with Western markets; and
- Accelerate and intensify Iran’s accession process to the WTO.
If this inclusive approach is not adopted, but rather the aggressive stance of western powers is maintained, the costs of a belligerent middle east will remain and probably increase. Divisiveness in our interdependent world of today has no benefits.
While we have come around to the notion that peace is an appropriate minimum standard of behaviour for developed countries it has never been an easy argument to make in our world today. The difficulty of fighting minds with armaments
George Friedman, eminent strategic analyst, offers a sobering perspective on the fall-out from the American “war on terror”, without having to reveal the awkwardness of embarking upon a virtual objective: to achieve a military victory in a psychological war. The challenge was made more difficult by the complexity and scale of the military objective: to conquer a nation in an unfamiliar part of the world and dictate a completely different social infrastructure and culture. The consequence has been a failure of the military objective, compounded by the terrorising of America by continually bombarding people through media with belligerent language and images of fear, as well as an extraordinary regression of civil liberties.
See Friedman’s piece War, Psychology and Time here. He notes as he sums up:
The effect on the United States is much more profound. The war, both in Iraq and against al Qaeda, has worn the United States down over time. The psychology of fear has been replaced by a psychology of cynicism. The psychology of confidence in war has been replaced by a psychology of helplessness. Exhaustion pervades all.
As various reports on progress in Iraq are discussed by the US administration The Economist offered a briefing on Strategy in Iraq. You may browse Waiting for the general (and a miracle) America agonises over the pitfalls of staying in Iraq – and of leaving. This table sums up the dire situation, and, yet again, underlines the need for a more enlightened approach.