Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Comment on Prof Lawrence Lessing's article re the dysfunctional US government

Comment on Prof Lawrence Lessing's article re the dysfunctional US government (9 Feb '10)

Professor Lessing has indeed "stated the obvious with brilliance" - something we badly need. 

If I may comment as a European: - 

The "ominously dysfunctional" US government is paralleled by our equally dysfunctional European Union(which the coming into force of the Lisbon treaty has not - yet - improved). 

On the international scene a US President can't make international obligations (e.g. at Copenhagen over climate change) because of the dysfunctional ("fund-raising") Senate. And Europe can't speak with one voice because no one is in charge of its foreign policy. 

With the sunset in the West (much hastened by the worldwide fall-out from the Iraq war) we are not declining "gracefully" (as Immanuel Wallerstein put it) while inaugurating an era of international cooperation made possible by the end of the Cold War. (Yet that is essential if humanity is to face up to the new existential challenges without the "endless wars" the Pentagon foresees). 

Instead, the US and Europe are demonstrating the worst weaknesses of democracy (which we are at such pains to try to propagate) while authoritarian Russia and China are demonstrating their ability to take international decisions and to implement them - but too often not in the direction of mutually beneficial cooperation.

As Professor Lessing points out, the US problem could be resolved if only enough influential people grasped the danger and got together (as at the start of a war) to take the needed action. And equally Europe too, could wake up and, with similar cooperative determination, forge a united foreign policy at least for the great issues. 

But in the US and Europe few perceive our peril as they would an incipient war. The established parties won't help - they are either "fund raising" or steeped in the paralysis of outmoded ideologies of left and right. And the media, largely dominated by commercial interests, is ill placed to help with a wake up call. 

We need a leader from outside our closed political shops whether in the US or Europe to cry our deficiencies to the roof-tops. I too, had thought Obama might be that man. But so far he's behaved as just another - albeit brilliant - insider. Might he change faced with defeat in 2012? A leaderless Europe might then wake up and follow. He would need - as he needs now - united European support.

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