All we need is a war
Debt, growth dead-end, Iran, Pakistan – that is what they talk
DATELINE SRINAGAR BY ARJIMAND HUSSAIN TALIB
We live in quite a dangerous world today. A war between Pakistan and the US today isn’t just a remote idea; it is already on the drawing board. Imagine another Mohmand-type US strike, a Pakistani response, a counter-response by America. And then?
Then take Iran. It is being isolated and encircled thoughtfully. What if it still manages to run its nuclear program despite the covert sabotage activities by the west and Israel?
An Iran war will make global oil prices go crazy high. No one can be certain of the outcome. A Pakistan war will be a much larger catastrophe.
India, including this part of Kashmir, cannot remain immune. A war-hit Pakistan would mean tremendous instability across borders. It could mean a sea of refugees. It could mean economic migrants. And who next after Iraq, Libya, Iran and Pakistan?
I am not being alarmist, mind it. But things are sliding this way quite fast.
The global capitalist economic system is faced with a dire situation today. Some of the core pursuits – create money out of nothing but speculation and senseless credit – have failed. That idea has failed in the United States. It is failing in Europe too. That is what the global Occupy Movement is saying.
World’s capitalist economists are increasingly realising that natural resources, commodities and products have that inherent capacity to create money, not market speculation. So is the realization that occupying territories and controlling natural resources wasn’t actually that primitive idea.
Today Europe is at the risk of losing its union’s integration. Even the staunchest of the optimists don’t believe the euro can be saved. Europe is today faced with three choices: let the European Central Bank print as much money it wishes to or let Greece and Italy default and exit Euro zone or create a fiscal union of Europe. Europe’s first choice – to borrow money from China – doesn’t stand anymore. The Chinese have made it clear that they cannot lend.
The first choice of printing money is a risky business – something unacceptable to Germany and other good performers, because that will devalue their money and send inflation to skies.
Letting Greece, Italy and others in the row to default and exit euro zone would in effect mean end of the euro and, even possibly, the European Union. That is unacceptable to Americans and most of Europe’s political parties.
Having a fiscal union of Europe means Europe will be like a country, with a central government and that European countries will be like states where the centre will determine how much and when countries can borrow money.
That situation means that Europe will no longer enjoy the living standards it enjoyed for so long. That would even mean recession, and even depression.
Most rational economists today agree that the idea of indefinite economic growth in advanced western countries is almost over. There can be no infinite growth because this planet’s resources are limited. The internal demand of the US and Europe has reached to a saturation level. Their exports face competition today from other global players like China, Brazil, India, etc.
So what is the way out?
Wars and natural disasters are historically known to raise demand and production. No country can choose its natural disasters. But, yes, they can choose their wars.
Among the first ones from the western world to talk of the possibility of a war providing a way out is the leading New York Times columnist, Roger Cohen. In his column “Decline and Fall” dated 21 November, Cohen acknowledges the decline of the west’s capitalist project. But he cautions it is not over yet.
Envy was never the American way, Cohen reminds. He further writes - these are not happy times in the Atlantic community. But never fear, resurgence is around the corner, the world will not be upside-down for long. The American century will in fact be two centuries.
Elsewhere it’s the Renaissance. Palaces rise. It is payback time for the majority of humankind. They’re feeling pretty good about their former overlords feeling pretty bad, Cohen admits.
And finally Cohen talks of war: perhaps what Europe and the United States need is a major natural disaster — it would make a change from the man-made ones — or a good little war.
So are the happenings on Pakistan’s western border or in Tehran a precursor to this thinking? One must wish that is not true.
The columnist is an advisor in international development and based overseas
Lastupdate on : Sat, 3 Dec 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 3 Dec 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 4 Dec 2011 00:00:00 IST
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