Geopolitical Research Institute(GRI)/Εταιρεία Γεωπολιτικών Ερευνών(ΕΓΕ)

Σάββατο, 30 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Putin for the US Treasury: Russia gives USA a lesson in economic management

Unlike the United States of America, Russia's debt as a percentage of GDP is decreasing while America's is increasing, Russia is selling sovereign debt on the world market while the US sells to the Federal Reserve, Russia is deregulating while the USA is creating agencies.
The US-based researcher and writer, Terrence Aym*, in his article "Russia poised to teach US leaders another economic lesson", claims that while Russia is streamlining its economy and expanding, the USA continues to "foray into the minefield of unfounded debt obligations and massive deficits resulting in an expansion of the federal bureaucracy by historic numbers".

The report produced by Terrence Aym compares Russia with the USA and concludes that Russia can teach Washington a thing or two. For instance, while Russia's debt as a percentage of GDP is decreasing, America's is increasing, Russia is selling sovereign debt on the world market while the US sells to the Federal Reserve, Russia is deregulating while the USA is creating agencies. Moreover, Russia is cutting back on the public sector, reducing the public sector workforce by 174,000 as bureaucracy is slashed by 5 per cent in 2010 and 20 per cent by 2013.

The USA, on the other hand, is set to create some 50 to 150 new agencies and offices.

SharePrint version Font Size Send to friend Meanwhile, the report points out, Vladimir Putin is cutting red tape, removing obstacles to the setting up of businesses, deregulating and in the author's opinion, setting Russia on a course similar to the Reaganism of the 1980s, quoting the Russian Prime Minister as stating that "The institution of oversight and control has lost its value", and "For every kilo of meat produced by a farmer there are several kilos of paperwork to be collected".

"Meanwhile," claims the author, "the US trudges onwards towards an economic doomsday and beefs up its command and control structure while preparing to micromanage the economy".

In a final comparison between the two countries, the report concludes that whereas Russia emerges from its recession, the USA is walking headlong towards higher unemployment, a full-blown depression...and sits on a financial black hole of two trillion dollars. As a closing remark, a suggestion:

The real solution, perhaps, should be "hiring Putin away from Russia for any amount of money he wants and placing him in charge of the United States Treasury".

* Terrence Aym, article in:

Timofei Belov

Rusisa goes back to Afghanistan for NATO?

Western publications, particularly The Guardian, say that Russia can become a participant of the military campaign in Afghanistan. The country may receive such an offer at the upcoming NATO summit in November, where Russian President Dmityr Medvedev is expected to participate.
It goes about the participation of Russian specialists in the training of Afghan pilots and NATO's cooperation with Russia on the border defense, arranging supplies to Afghan troops and the struggle against drug trafficking.

As for the supplies, it was said that Russian helicopters would suit the actions in Afghanistan better than NATO choppers. This aspect of cooperation can be considered a solved matter because, as British media outlets report, the agreement about the delivery of 21 Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters to Afghanistan had been reached in the summer of 2010.

The deployment of Russian troops in Afghanistan is not a matter for discussion, at least for the time being, according to Western journalists. One should bear in mind the fact that Afghanistan used to be a hotspot of the cold war from 1979 to 1988 because the West actively supported the Afghan opposition in its struggle against the Soviet troops.

Times have changed. The current war in Afghanistan continues for ten years already, and it seems that it is not going to end. NATO troops entered the country in 2001 in response to September 11 attacks, although no one could prove the fact that the Afghans took a direct participation in the terrorist attacks against America.

SharePrint version Font Size Send to friend What if Russia accepts NATO offer and becomes involved in the Afghan war? Pravda.Ru asked the opinion of Igor Rodionov, the commander of Soviet troops in Afghanistan in 1985-1986 about such a perspective.

"Do you think that Russia's participation in training the personnel of the puppet pro-Western Afghan army can become a prologue for its full-fledged participation in the war?"

"This is exactly what is going to happen. What do helicopter deliveries mean? It means that Russian pilots and technical personnel will have to go to Afghanistan too. Then it turns out that it is impossible to have the locals involved in protecting the Russian crews, and more Russian servicemen will be required in the country. It's a chain reaction, where one action inevitably leads to another.

The Afghan government was whining all the time asking for help, and the USSR eventually decided to help them - this is how the Soviet troops found themselves in Afghanistan in 1979. The Soviet 120,000-strong army became involved in the war in a blink of an eye. If we dance to NATO's tune now, we will find ourselves right in the middle of the American mess in Afghanistan. People learn from other people's mistakes. At the end of the 1970s, we ignored the lessons, which the Americans had learned in Vietnam. Now that we have our own lesson of Afghanistan, are we ready to walk twice into the same water?"

"Do you think that it was the Americans who lured the USSR into the Afghan trap?"

"It is quite possible. The Soviet troops entered Afghanistan because it was said that the Americans were going to land there. Most likely, it was a very well-plotted action to have the Soviets involved. Afterwards, when we started drowning in the Afghan swamp, the West presented the USSR as an aggressor, and the Soviet Union found itself in international isolation. Even our Warsaw Pact allies preferred to keep silence and then they took NATO's side as soon as they had an opportunity.

"In Afghanistan, we had to struggle against the things that the West was doing against us. Mujahedeens had Western weapons to kill Russian soldiers. I perfectly remember piles of captured weapons that had arrived to Afghanistan from Western countries. Now the Americans want us to join them to kill the Afghans!"

"Which goals is NATO pursuing in Afghanistan now?"

"The West did not stop on the collapse of the USSR, it is determined to do the same with Russia. We've always been an enemy for the West, and it still sees Russia as an enemy. Now the West is being too busy with other affairs, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but our turn will come some day.

"England has always been acting like this. That is why we got involved in World War I, which was basically a global clash between Britain and Germany. During World War II, the West was patiently waiting for Nazism and Communism to become exhausted to feast on the fruits of our victory. Afterwards, they blamed Stalin for everything and made him a scapegoat. They have already tried to have Russia involved in the war in Iraq, but thank God Russia refused."

"Some people say that the war against the Taliban is only an excuse to the West to get settled in Afghanistan. Why does NATO need this?"

"It's a fashion trend now in the West to talk about the horrors of Stalin rule and collectivization. But the things that the USA and their Western allies on the planet are doing now, is collectivization in global scale. The West needs to settle in Afghanistan to build a circle of army bases around China. This powerful and rapidly growing country is like a toothache for the West now. A clash will occur sooner or later, and NATO needs to be prepared for it. Now the West wants to find some fools who would pull their chestnuts out of the fire for them - Russia that is. In my opinion, Russia's participation in the Afghan war is out of the question! It's their problem that they have to handle, not us."

"Let's just imagine that Russian soldiers will step on the Afghan territory again. How will the locals greet them?"

"It's not going to be a welcome. In Afghanistan, they still remember very well what the Soviets did there. We were not just planting trees there, as the Soviet TV was saying, we were waging war, we were killing people. As a result, we made a half of the nation stand up against us. It was a consequence of our actions.

"Islands of resistance began to appear one after another here and there. We committed terrible crimes there with our carpet bombings and volley-fire attacks. We were waging war against the people, who cursed us - they will never forget what we did. For Afghans, the Taliban is national resistance to foreign invasion. Why do so many Afghans support the Taliban? Because they have been dreaming about one thing only for 30 years: 'Leave us alone! Let us live!" But they won't let them. At first it was the USSR, now it is NATO."

"But we don't want to bomb Afghan villages now, do we?"

"It all starts with just one visit. Many wars start with something positive, with a wish to defend oneself and so forth. But, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

"What memories do you have of the Afghan war?"

"It's all about hopelessness. It was a war that left so many unjustifiable victims. What were those young guys fighting for and what did they die there for? Did they die for a bunch of Afghan intellectuals who thought of themselves as the Afghan nation?"

"What influence did the Afghan war have on the USSR and what may happen if we repeat the mistakes of the past?"

"The Afghan war played an important role in the destruction of the Soviet economy. When I was staying in Afghanistan, we had serious food problems at home in the Soviet Union. If only you could see piles of food rotting under the scorching Afghan sun - thousands and thousands of tons of rotting canned food! Each day of that war cost a fortune, and that money could be used for improving the economic situation in the country. The Afghan war contributed greatly to the collapse of the Soviet Union."

"Don't you think that it is strange that such a suggestion was voiced at the time when some NATO members, such as Holland and Canada, are going to pull out their troops from Afghanistan?

"The USA can see, of course, that the number of its allies is going down, and the Americans want to play safe at our expense. Apparently, they want to have an escape route in case they eventually decide to withdraw the troops from the country, and they would like to have Russia as a defeated party which would be forced to face the aftermath of all that. But the Talibs will not settle down anyway. How would they be able to live knowing that the enemy, who took part in the destruction of the Afghan nation together with the USA is so near, in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan? If we do not take any part in this and start to establish ties with the future government of Afghanistan, we will have an opportunity to achieve peaceful coexistence."

Sergey Balmasov

The decision that Ankara hates making

“Did you read the latest Turkey report in The Economist,” Dr. Carol Henry, a chemist and professorial lecturer at George Washington University, asked me during our meeting following her speech at the Appropriate Use of Science in Public Policy discussion in Washington, D.C. Not only The Economist, but many other Western foreign policy journals these days are producing more sophisticated and nuanced studies on Turkey than ever before.

Turkey’s fast-growing economy, its geographic location and close proximity to much of the regions that America has great difficulty dealing with make this 87-year-old young republic even more attractive to wider public policy discussions in Washington. The Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, nearly decade-long rule brought a political stability to Turkey, but also clear and unusually high-profile disagreements to the relations with the United States. The latest development that makes Turkey the center of many discussion circles in Washington is not surprisingly Turkey’s unwillingness to decide quickly on new NATO anti-missile plans.

Turkish officials, from the top-down, repeatedly stated in recent months that they don’t see Iran as a threat to Turkey’s national security. Dr. Henri Barkey, Turkey expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, when asked about Turkey's warm feelings towards Iran, stated, “Even though Turkey does not see Iran as a threat, the other 27 members of the NATO alliance do.”

All together, Turkey is increasingly perceived as a "difficult partner" in the alliance, Barkey underlined. Last time Turkey had disagreements with the NATO leadership over Rasmussen's election. Now another critical decision and if Turkey appears to be in another bargaining posture, this seems to becoming a "pattern," Barkey concluded.

“So many sincerity tests come Ankara’s way at once,” one Turkey observer said this week. “Latest NATO anti-missile offer,” said the source, who has very close proximity to the Ankara administration, “shows the limits of the Obama administration’s multilateral worldview.” In other words, the Obama administration seems to introduce another “with us or against us” constraint on Ankara at a time when its administration has just started to fancy steering its own wheel of interest in its wider region, pursuing its own independent policies at an unprecedented level.

Steve Clemons, director of public policy strategies and senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank, said in an interview that the relationship between Turkey and the U.S. is currently being recalibrated. “Both sides, following the recent unexpected events, happened to give cold showers to each other. These differences also played the role of wake-up calls for both sides. In fundamental terms though, Turkey’s significance is rising. Turkey is not a reactionary country anymore in terms of its foreign affairs. Turkey is now creating its own circumstances. This is also good for the U.S., because the U.S. needs responsible partners that can work together in other regions."

Clemons, who also publishes a very popular public policy debate blog, The Washington Note, sounded well reversed with the latest developments surrounding Turkey and its relations with NATO and the U.S. “Turkey must be careful when it gambles,” warned Clemons, “and be careful not to compromise the NATO alliance while it is following its own interests.” Saying no to a new NATO shield, predicted Clemons, “might produce results which would be strategically consequential in a very negative sense.”

Clemons said: "The Turkish side deserves credit for many of its policies in recent years that it has undertaken. However, today the world including China and Russia recognizes Iran as security threat and takes their own measures. And that would be a very big mistake for Turkey to overlook this security concern. In that case, Turkey would appear to be appeasing Iran’s rising military capacity. Having harmony in the region or zero problems with neighbors should not mean Turkey is seriously compromising its long term security needs.”

I asked one high-level U.S. military official this week, who held an important military post in Turkey in the past and has vast interest and expertise on relations with Turkey currently, to explain the potential implications if the Turkish administration did not want the radar system to be deployed in its soil as part of the adaptive phase approach. “In military perspective,” the official stated, “the entire NATO missile system would not be destroyed. It would certainly limit the effectiveness of it. ... There would be a need to redesign the architecture of the system. However, it would move forward. Politically, Turkey has been tracing its own interests in various regions. Even though the EU is still the biggest trade partner of Turkey, its eastern neighbors, including Iran, fast on the rise. Turkey has to communicate with its Eastern neighbors, and explain to them that the new NATO anti-missile project is not aggressive in its mission, it is a defensive one. And it is expected to bring more security and stability in the region, therefore better environment for more trade.”

Steve Flanagan, senior vice president and Henry A. Kissinger chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me that “the new NATO anti-missile shield is essentially a reinforcement of overall solidarity between the NATO members. If Turkey says a flat ‘no’, that would be very damaging in Turkey’s standing in the alliance.”

Flanagan said: “President Obama justified the new NATO missile shield, which is a different version of the Bush administration. This was about extending a missile defense system to ensure all ally countries’ safety. This version is a cost-effective system compared to the previous one, not excessively requiring a military notion.”

Turkish high-level diplomats, on the other hand, were extremely careful this week not to let any daylight get in between the countries on the matter and rejected any friction.

According to Barkey, the conditions that have been put forward by Ankara would be a face-saving solution, "if these conditions are met, then Turkey will be able to say to its base at home, and even to the Middle Eastern audiences that its demands have been met."

In Washington, the common perspective is that Turkey’s potential rejection of the NATO anti-missile shield would reinforce the perception that Turkey is drifting away from the West as the loudest, sharpest and in a clear statement.

Ankara, even though it wishes to get along well with all sides, including U.S. and Iran at the same time, now has to remember its commitment to its decades-old NATO alliance.

Turkey hates that it is being pushed to choose either and to make a statement about where it is standing once more.

And that is why Turkey hates making this decision

«Εμείς πάντως δεν φεύγουμε από εδώ»

Επτά στους δέκα νέους Ελληνες θέλουν να φύγουν από τη χώρα. Το 42% των Ελλήνων κάτω των 35 ετών έχουν ήδη αναλάβει δράση για να αναχωρήσουν μια ώρα αρχύτερα. Εξι στους δέκα νέους προτιμούν μια θέση εργασίας στο εξωτερικό παρά μια μόνιμη δουλειά στην Ελλάδα. Οι έρευνες δημοσιεύονται η μία μετά την άλλη και τα αποτελέσματά τους είναι κάθε άλλο παρά ενθαρρυντικά. Οικονομική κρίση, αναξιοκρατία, αντίδραση στο πολιτικό σύστημα, απογοήτευση. Οσες και αν είναι οι αιτίες, το αποτέλεσμα παραμένει το ίδιο: η νέα γενιά, το (υποτιθέμενο) μέλλον του τόπου μας, επιθυμεί διακαώς να... ρίξει μαύρη πέτρα πίσω της. Και όμως, υπάρχουν ανάμεσά μας νέοι που διατηρούν την ελπίδα τους και διακηρύττουν με κάθε ευκαιρία ότι δεν πρόκειται να φύγουν. Μόνο που δεν είναι Ελληνες. Πρόκειται για ευρωπαίους πολίτες που έφτασαν στη χώρα μας για τους δικούς τους λόγους ο καθένας, έζησαν την άνοδο και την (ελεύθερη) πτώση της, μα ακόμη πιστεύουν σε αυτήν και δεν εγκαταλείπουν.

Η κυρία Καρολίν Σατρ από τη Νάντη της Γαλλίας μεγάλωσε περνώντας κάθε καλοκαίρι στην Ελλάδα, λόγω της ιδιαίτερης αγάπης που είχε για τη χώρα μας ο πατέρας της. «Οταν τελείωσα τις σπουδές ιταλικής και ελληνικής φιλολογίας στη Νάντη,αποφάσισα ότι είχε έρθει η στιγμή να κάνω μια νέα αρχή στην Ελλάδα. Μάζεψα τα πράγματά μου και μετακόμισα» λέει η ίδια στο «Βήμα». Την τελευταία οκταετία είδε την Ελλάδα να αλλάζει, τόσο προς το καλύτερο όσο και προς το (πολύ) χειρότερο, με αποκορύφωμα τη σημερινή οικονομική κρίση. «Οι συνθήκες είναι άσχημες, ωστόσο μέσα στη γενική απογοήτευση απαξιώνεται κάθε ελληνικό χαρακτηριστικό και εξιδανικεύεται ό,τι γίνεται στο εξωτερικό. Για παράδειγμα, δεν έχω συναντήσει πουθενά αλλού την ελληνική αλληλεγγύη ανάμεσα στα μέλη της οικογένειας. Ναι, οι μισθοί είναι πιο χαμηλοί στην Ελλάδα, όμως οι γονείς πρόθυμα παραχωρούν ένα ιδιόκτητο διαμέρισμα στα παιδιά τους που βρίσκονται στο ξεκίνημα της καριέρας τους.Στη Γαλλία,αντιθέτως,οι μισθοί είναι λίγο καλύτεροι αλλά οι νέοι δεν ζουν καλύτερα,γιατί είναι αναγκασμένοι να τα βγάζουν πέρα ολομόναχοι» τονίζει.

Σύμφωνα με τον κ. Τέμου Λέχτινεν, ο οποίος κατάγεται από τη Φινλανδία και έπειτα από μία δεκαετία στις Βρυξέλλες έφτασε στην Ελλάδα για να αναλάβει το Τμήμα επικοινωνίας γνωστής εταιρείας online στοιχημάτων σε Ελλάδα και Κύπρο, το βασικό πρόβλημα των νέων Ελλήνων είναι ότι «επαναλαμβάνουν πεισματικά ότι όλα είναι μάταια και ότι “τίποτα δεν πρόκειται να αλλάξει”, με αποτέλεσμα αυτό εν τέλει να γίνεται πραγματικότητα! Οσο περισσότερο το λένε, τόσο περισσότερο το πιστεύουν.Το μόνο σίγουρο είναι,άλλωστε, ότι αν φύγουν όλοι οι άξιοι από τη χώρα, ποτέ δεν θα βγούμε από την κρίση», σχολιάζει. Συχνά, μάλιστα, οι Ευρωπαίοι που ζουν στη χώρα μας καταλήγουν να υποστηρίζουν την Ελλάδα απέναντι στην απογοήτευση ακόμη και των μελών της ίδιας της οικογένειάς τους!

«Η γυναίκα μου σκέφτεται ότι ίσως θα έπρεπε να γυρίσουμε στη Γερμανία γιατί αμφιβάλλει ότι κάτι θα αλλάξει. Εγώ επιμένω ότι εδώ είναι καλύτερα διότι υπάρχει ένα τεράστιο δυναμικό που παραμένει ανεκμετάλλευτο και συνεπώς είναι στα χέρια μας να το αξιοποιήσουμε» αναφέρει ο κ. Μίχαελ Οξ, γερμανός γραφίστας ο οποίος ζει στην Αθήνα και είναι παντρεμένος με Ελληνίδα. «Ακούγεται τετριμμένο, όμως η κρίση είναι πράγματι μια ευκαιρία για την Ελλάδα. Είμαστε στον πάτο,χειρότερα δεν γίνεται.Από εδώ και πέρα,μόνο να βελτιωθούμε μπορούμε» καταλήγει.

Υπάρχουν, τέλος, και αυτοί που πιστεύουν ότι η κρίση είναι μια ευκαιρία για αναθεώρηση των καταναλωτικών προτύπων που επικρατούσαν στο παρελθόν στην Ελλάδα. Ο Πορτογάλος κ. Τιάγο Μάρτινς, ελεύθερος επαγγελματίας, έφτασε στην Ελλάδα σε ηλικία 27 ετών, όταν επέλεξε μια θέση πρακτικής στην έκθεση Ηelexpo της Θεσσαλονίκης. «Μου έκανε εντύπωση η ευκολία με την οποία οι νέοι ξόδευαν χρήματα για τη (ήδη ακριβή) νυχτερινή διασκέδαση. Φοιτητές και νέοι εργαζόμενοι παράγγελναν τρία ή τέσσερα ποτά αξίας 10 ευρώ το ένα,έπιναν καφέδες στην εξωφρενική τιμή των 5 ευρώ,τον έναν μετά τον άλλον- κάτι που δεν είχα ξανασυναντήσει. Η κρίση τούς “προσγείωσε”, όμως αυτή η ανώμαλη προσγείωση έχει και τη θετική της πλευρά. Βλέπω πλέον τους έλληνες φίλους μου να συγκεντρώνονται για φαγητό σε σπίτια, να πηγαίνουν για περπάτημα ή για να αθληθούν παρέα, να απολαμβάνουν σε τελική ανάλυση όλα τα απλά πράγματα που οι νέοι της Ευρώπης (κάνοντας την ανάγκη φιλοτιμία) έκαναν εδώ και χρόνια» σχολιάζει μιλώντας στο «Βήμα». «Συνεχώς με ρωτούν γιατί μένω...»

O εικονιζόμενος Κάρλος Γκουτιέρες ντε λα Κρουθ, προσωπικός γυμναστής, δηλώνει μιλώντας προς «Το Βήμα»: «Εχω κουραστεί να ακούω την ερώτηση “αφού είσαι Ισπανός και μπορείς να φύγεις... γιατί δεν φεύγεις;”. Η απάντηση είναι ότι δεν θέλω να φύγω γιατί έπειτα από τρία χρόνια στη Θεσσαλονίκη, έχω αγαπήσει αυτή χώρα και- σε αντίθεση με τους ντόπιους- δεν έχω χάσει την ελπίδα μου ότι θα τα καταφέρουμε. Δέχομαι αυτή την απαξιωτική ερώτηση καθημερινά και είναι αποκαρδιωτικό να ακούς τους ίδιους τους Ελληνες να δυσφημούν τη χώρα τους μπροστά σε έναν ξένο. Με κάνει να αναρωτιέμαι πώς θα προωθήσουμε την Ελλάδα τουριστικά και επικοινωνιακά, αν επιμένουμε να τη λοιδορούμε; Σίγουρα υπάρχουν πολλά προβλήματα και συχνά εκνευρίζομαι με την αδιαφορία, την αναλγησία και την “αντικοινωνική” συμπεριφορά πολλών συμπολιτών μας. Ωστόσο η πρώτη μου σκέψη είναι “τι μπορούμε να κάνουμε για να το αλλάξουμε; ” και όχι “τι μπορώ να κάνω για να... φύγω;”. Αν όλοι φύγουμε ποιος θα μείνει να προστατεύσει την Ελλάδα από αυτούς που την κατάντησαν έτσι;».

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