In spite of the ridicule, Asean is still here. More expansive, stronger and slowly getting better. But life begins at 40, they say.
Old habits are hard to break but if it isn’t it will be an even harder sell for the grouping. Failure to transform will mean Asean isn’t maturing, it is just getting older and eventually obsolete. One can no longer think about Asean as those men in suits who meet in ceremonial fanfare once a year. Instead it must be an organization with many suitors comprised of stakeholders from all levels of citizenship. In essence, it must move from being a fraternity of states to a community of caring societies. The core of this vision lies in the belief in a set of common values towards the respect for the rights of each Asean citizen... We salute Asean officials and the minds from the Track Two process who have successfully fleshed out the Asean Charter to be adopted by leaders later this year...
-The Jakarta Post
Peace gathering a non-starter
There seems to be a consensus among independent observers about how ineffective the upcoming Pak-Afghan Peace Jirga is going to be, especially after President Musharraf has decided not to attend. That is not surprising. The approach of both governments on the issue borders on the autistic; they seem to have gotten the whole idea of Jirgas wrong...
Effective Jirgas, they should know by now, are never quite organized in the manner it is being organized now. From the Pakistan side, the Jirga has hardly been representative; even from those selected, at least 80 from the list of 350 have refused to go. Many others have been receiving threats from the local Taliban... Both sides are going to have a skewed composition. The efficacy of Jirgas stemmed from the fact that their participants had genuine following in their respectiveareas...
Russia in a Caucasian spat
Wars in the Caucasus start with unexplained events. An unmarked column of tanks advances towards Grozny, in Chechnya. Unknown helicopter gunships strafe the Kodori Gorge, on the fringes of the disputed territory of Abkhazia. On Monday night, two mystery Sukhoi bombers fired a missile that landed in a field in South Ossetia...
Georgia (on) Wednesday accused Russia of an “undisguised aggression” and produced parts of the one tonne missile, which did not explode, in evidence. Russia flatly denied involvement, saying that a number of countries had Sukhoi bombers, including Georgia itself... The mystery missile is the latest episode in a deteriorating relationship between Russia and Georgia... Conflict has already erupted twice in the province in the last two decades. If war broke out a third time, just 40 miles west of the Georgian capital, the consequences could be more far-reaching.
A weak dollar and the Fed
Despite the Federal Reserve’s stay-the-course message (on) Tuesday, investors are betting on at least one interest-rate cut by January, intended to quell turmoil in the markets and to juice the slow economy. But with the dollar also weak... the Fed may be reluctant to oblige.
A declining dollar is a source of inflationary pressure because it can boost the cost of imports. So if the Fed tried to rev up the economy with a rate cut at the same time the dollar is falling, it could end up provoking even more inflation.
That would be a drag on economic growth rather than a boost. In an extreme case, it could result in a toxic combination of weak growth and high prices that is a central banker’s nightmare.
How did the Fed lose room to manoeuvre? The answer is rooted in the Bush administration’s misguided economic policies...
-The New York Times