By Gordon Brown, Project Syndicate<
LONDON – Politics trumped sensible economics in the United States this summer, when Congress and President Barack Obama could not agree on taxes, entitlements, deficits or an investment stimulus. Europe’s leaders were also paralyzed – ruling out defaults and devaluations, as well as deficits and stimulus. And, having run negative real interest rates, printed money, plowed in liquidity and subsidized commercial banks, central bankers everywhere – most recently U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke – appear to have concluded that they, too, have reached the limit of what they can do.
As a result, few people today doubt that the world is drifting, rudderless and leaderless, towards a second downturn. The pre-summer debate about whether we faced a “new normal” of slower growth has been resolved: Nothing now looks normal. Muddling through has failed. Unable to conclude a global trade deal, climate-change agreement, growth pact or changes in the financial regime, the world is likely to descend into a new protectionism of competitive devaluation, currency wars, trade restrictions, and capital controls.
But this is not a time for defeatism. Countries claiming to have reached the limit of what they can do really mean that they have reached the limit of what they can do on their own. The way forward to sustained growth and employment is not through a flurry of one-off national initiatives, but rather through global policy coordination. FULL POST
Most people with one word names are rock stars – Bono, Madonna, Cher.
At the UN General Assembly in 2009, Platon photographed former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Here's what Platon had to say about that experience. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Jonathan Hopkin is Reader in Comparative Politics at the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
By Jonathan Hopkin, Foreign Affairs
The riots that caused five deaths and millions of dollars in damage in London and several other English cities earlier this month will prove a test for British Prime Minister David Cameron and his one-and-a-half-year-old Conservative-Liberal Democratic administration.
At the start of the summer, Cameron's economic policy was already on shaky ground. In mid-2010, his coalition government had enacted austerity measures aimed at eliminating Britain's budget deficit - currently more than 150 billion pounds (roughly $248 billion) - within five years.
It introduced a plan to cut public spending by 81 billion pounds ($134 billion) over four years, leading to sharp reductions in welfare benefits and social services in Britain's poorest neighborhoods. The cuts affected social housing benefits, particularly in high-cost London, and policing, with an estimated reduction of 16,000 officers across the country. It is no surprise that most of August's riots took place in areas with high poverty, unemployment and dependency on welfare, nor that the police struggled to respond to the violence. FULL POST
By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
After the S&P downgrade of the United States, no country with a presidential system has a triple-A rating from all three major ratings agencies. Only countries with parliamentary systems have that honor (with the possible exception of France, which has a parliament and prime minister as well as an empowered president).
Juan Linz, professor of social science at Yale, argued that parliamentary systems are superior to presidential systems for reasons of stability. In a parliamentary system, he contended, the legislature and the executive are fused so there is no contest for national legitimacy. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Matthias Matthijs is Assistant Professor at the School of International Service of American University and a Lecturer at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is the author of Ideas and Economic Crises in Britain From Attlee to Blair.
By Matthias Matthijs, ForeignAffairs.com
London is burning. And over four consecutive nights, the conflagration has engulfed multiple cities across the United Kingdom, including Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Nottingham, and Leeds. According to some early estimates, the total cost of the vandalism and extra police could run into the hundreds of millions of pounds.
In response, British Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled parliament from summer recess for an emergency session, “to stand together” against the looters. He condemned what he dubbed the “sickening scenes of people looting, vandalizing, thieving, and robbing.”
The unrest traces its immediate roots to last Saturday in Tottenham, a London suburb where a protest to commemorate the death of a man who was shot by police trying to arrest him turned violent. What followed was a viral response across the country that spurred many young people to violence, looting, and general disorder.
The riots are set against the backdrop of Britain’s ongoing fiscal and sovereign debt crisis and the coalition government’s politics of austerity. They illustrate the critical connection between class politics and fiscal retrenchment. In some ways, they resemble the British riots of 30 years ago. But the policy solutions of the past - a strong response by the state together with the fruits of neoliberal deregulation - may no longer be available today.
Perhaps not all news out of London is bad news. In the aftermath of the city’s most devastating riots in decades, London’s more civic-minded citizens took to the streets. Armed with brooms, the mob gathered to clean up the mess left by rioters. Take a look at the video above.
By Nick Assinder, TIME
After three nights of violence, arson and looting that have left parts of London looking like a war zone, Prime Minister David Cameron has one pressing question to answer from citizens looking to him for reassurance and action: Who controls Britain's streets?
Throughout Monday night and the early hours of Tuesday morning, the answer to that question appeared to be the mob. It certainly was not the police, politicians or local community leaders, all of whom were overwhelmed by the unprecedented scale of the violence and the speed with which it escalated and spread, first from one London borough to another and then, perhaps inevitably, to other cities, including Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol.
If Cameron cannot offer a different answer, one reassuring people that government ministers and the police have control, then the consequences for his leadership could be far-reaching and ultimately even lethal. Margaret Thatcher's long reign as Prime Minister came to an end partly as a result of less devastating riots in response to her attempt to radically reform local taxation in March 1990. As Diane Abbott, Member of Parliament for Hackney, one of the worst-hit boroughs in North London, tells TIME, "One of the basic functions of a nation-state is to maintain public order. If Cameron cannot regain control over the next 24 hours, then he will be in serious political trouble."
One European Union study this year found that 17 per cent of Britain’s youth are classified as “NEETs” – for Not in Employment, Education or Training, in other words high-school dropouts with no prospects of employment – the fourth-highest percentage in the European Union. There are 600,000 people under 25 in Britain who have never had a day of work.
Why these disenfranchised youth so explosively made their presence known in such a devastatingly violent way, and how this will all end, is not yet understood. But it puts a dark punctuation mark on what had, until this weekend, been London’s brightest modern era.
By Thomas Mucha, GlobalPost
Over the past 24 hours sales of aluminum bats are up more than 5,000 percent on Amazon.co.uk, the British division of the online retail giant.
But that's not all.
Wooden bats are popular, too, right now. Sales of these bashing devices are up almost 4,000 percent since yesterday.
The biggest mover on Amazon.uk's "Sports and Leisure" page?
Military Police Telescopic Tonfas (read: side-handled batons).
There is much speculation surrounding the circumstances of the death of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in north London on Thursday. His shooting at the hands of police while he was riding in a cab sparked a weekend of rioting and looting across the capital that continued into Monday.
Officers from Operation Trident - the Metropolitan Police unit that deals with gun crime in London's black communities - stopped the cab during an attempted arrest and soon afterwards shots were fired, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said. Duggan, a father of four, was fatally wounded.
Since Saturday evening 215 people have been arrested and 27 people charged according to the British Home Secretary Theresa May, who returned home early from holiday Monday. Over 35 officers have been injured.
Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Sir Paul Stephenson, commissioner of the UK's Metropolitan Police, commonly known as Scotland Yard, resigned (DailyTelegraph), following revelations that he had employed former News of the World editor Neil Wallis as a personal advisor.
Wallis was arrested last week on suspicion of phone-hacking while at the newspaper, though Stephenson claimed that Wallis was not involved in the scandal while working for him in 2009. Stephenson said he had not told Prime Minister David Cameron about Wallis's employment so as not to "compromise" Cameron (FT), whose former communications chief, Andy Coulson, was also arrested for phone-hacking activities at News of the World. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Jonathan Schell is a Fellow at The Nation Institute and is a visiting fellow at Yale University. He is the author of The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger. For more from Schell, visit Project Syndicate's website, or check it out on Facebook and Twitter.
By Jonathan Schell
During the four decades since the Watergate affair engulfed US President Richard Nixon, politicians have repeatedly ignored the scandal’s main lesson: the cover-up is worse than the crime. Like Nixon, they have paid a higher price for concealing their misdeeds than they would have for the misdeeds alone.
Now, for once, comes a scandal that breaks that rule: the United Kingdom’s phone-hacking affair, which has shaken British politics to its foundations. Over the past decade, the tabloid newspaper The News of the World, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, targeted 4,000 people’s voicemail. The list includes not only royalty, celebrities, and other VIPs, but also the families of servicemen killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and those of victims of the July 2005 terrorist attack in London.