Search Results for ‘22’

22 – The Incompetence of Obama’s Repairmen (10 May 09)

Give the man time! A new head of government cannot do everything at once! He has only had three months. These are the responses that one is likely to get when expressing doubts about the effectiveness of Obama’s policies when measured against the high expectations and overwhelming feelings of urgency that something dramatic should be done. Impatience is frequently interpreted as following from insufficient understanding about the set of circumstances that this new president inherited, circumstances that could hardly be worse in the imagination of most sympathisers. What Obama has been expected to do comes down to a task for which daunting is too weak an adjective, one requiring herculean powers. And of course that takes time. All true. But by not being critical, by not scrutinising his early decisions about the people with whom he wants to work, by not strongly questioning how these people interpret the jobs they have been asked to do; by not being critical of Obama in his early days, we may unwittingly be adding to the many disadvantages that surround him. When in political life something very big must be undertaken, the question of competence on the part of those who...

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23 – Lifting Japan’s Curse of ‘Muddling Through’ (22 May 09)

The forced resignation of the leader of Japan’s opposition party, Ichiro Ozawa, and the election of Yukio Hatoyama as his succcessor, may appear to outsiders as the proverbial storm in a teacup, but it is more than that: it is directly related to the question whether or not Japan’s curse of ‘muddling through’ will be lifted after the forthcoming elections. Especially now that it has been demonstrated, once again, that the immune system of Japan’s political world is still capable of keeping down those who might upset the status quo. The status quo is treasured by Japan’s administrative bureaucracy, of which the editors of the big newspapers, the managers of the industrial federations, as well as those of the financial institutions and much of big industry also form a part. The absence of waves is a sacred condition. It prevents what is known here as “a confused situation” – disturbance of the social order that the administrators fear most. The Japanese public as a whole is less addicted to the status quo. And when I came back to Japan in the beginning of this year my first conversations with old friends, with political analysts, and in casual...

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40 – Where Political Fallacies Begin (22 Oct 2012)

The two subjects that hold European policymakers and the more serious part of the American electorate currently in suspense offer perfect and dismal examples of delusion because accompanying stories – where the euro crisis came from and President Obama’s track record – have been given the wrong beginning. For North Europeans relying on mainstream media, the story of the euro crisis never had a beginning anywhere close to where it should have been. This deficiency was mostly due to another political phenomenon deserving more scrutiny than it receives: When governments or other institutions with authority are faced with an unpalatable subject, prompting questions that may spell deep trouble for them, they change the subject hoping that no one will notice. That is what Angela Merkel did when the credit crisis of 2008 revealed that German banks had swallowed so much of the toxic assets created by their American counterparts that this had in effect killed them. But in Merkel’s story the crisis began with a lazy Greek population, consisting of lots of tax evaders and overpaid officials who took too many holidays. The French and the Dutch authorities were similarly embarrassed with the factual bankruptcy of their banks,...

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