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Posts Tagged ‘Patten’

The Brexit Hour Has Come

Posted by hkarner - 31. März 2019

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

With Brexit possibly just two weeks away, most British voters and members of Parliament are still in the dark. Sadly, the national interest has taken a back seat to ideological obsession and the leadership ambitions of some of Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet colleagues.

LONDON – Do you want to know what is happening in British politics today in the great debate about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union?

Join the club. With Brexit possibly just two weeks away, most British voters are in the dark. So are members of Parliament. So are the million people, including three of my daughters and three of my older grandchildren, who recently marched in London to protest against Brexit. And so are the six million who have signed a petition calling on the government to remain in the EU.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that during my travels this month from the United States to Ireland to Southeast Asia and then Tokyo, everyone seemed so bemused about how Britain had plunged itself into such a damaging crisis. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Playing Chicken with Europe

Posted by hkarner - 15. Februar 2019

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

The philosopher Bertrand Russell believed the Cold War nuclear standoff resembled a high-risk game played by „youthful degenerates.“ British Prime Minister Therea May is playing a similar game, and if her Brexit brinkmanship goes wrong, the victim would be Britain.

LONDON – The game of chicken is simple to describe but dangerous to play. Based on evolutionary game theory, it was sometimes used to describe nuclear brinkmanship during the Cold War.

Bertrand Russell, the great British philosopher and campaigner against nuclear weapons, reminded us that the game is usually played between what he called “youthful degenerates.” The players drive cars towar d each other at high speed from opposite directions; the first driver to swerve away from a head-on collision – or, in some variants, to jump from the driver’s seat before it reaches a cliff edge – is the “chicken.”Russell believed this to be a description of the putative statesmanship of the nuclear powers in the Cold War. One miscalculation, one failure to swerve, and the result could be Armageddon: hundreds of millions of deaths, flattened cities, the end of civilization.

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Brexit Sweat and Tears

Posted by hkarner - 29. Januar 2019

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

For years after World War II, Britons were aware of the palpable shift in the country’s fortunes. But there was a deep aversion to accepting the UK’s diminished status, and the failure – beginning with Winston Churchill – of successive generations of politicians to address it is what has led to the current impasse.

LONDON – I recently saw an American play in London called “Sweat,” written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist Lynn Nottage. It was performed previously on and off Broadway and was described by the Wall Street Journal as a play that helped to explain Donald Trump’s election as president.

Nottage had spent some time talking to the residents of a poor city in Pennsylvania which was losing jobs and its modest prosperity because of the contraction of the steel industry. Competition from cheaper manufacturers and lower-paid workers around the world had devastated an already-weak economy and provoked conflict between friends, relatives, and races.

Economically marginalized workers were also feeling culturally beleaguered. The world in which they had grown up – its values and fixed identity – was, it seemed to them, being systematically trashed. They turned – not necessarily in the expectation of answers – to a billionaire outsider who, unlike the political elites, had not yet let them down and appeared to share their contempt for the establishment. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Sum of All Brexit Fears

Posted by hkarner - 31. Dezember 2018

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

The Leavers lied: The costs of withdrawing from the European Union were always destined to outweigh the benefits. Alas, the responsible, imaginative, and inclusive political leadership needed to minimize the damage is nowhere in sight.

LONDON – Day after day, week after week, most British citizens think that the turmoil over their country’s proposed exit from the European Union cannot get any worse. But, without fail, it does. Turmoil turns into humiliating chaos; a political crisis threatens to become a constitutional crisis.

Meanwhile, the date of the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU gets closer. It is fewer than 100 days until the UK leaves, and at the moment there is no deal in sight that is acceptable to both Parliament in Westminster and the European Commission and European Council in Brussels. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Obama’s Letters and Trump’s Delusions

Posted by hkarner - 29. Oktober 2018

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Unlike former US President Barack Obama, who made a point of reading and responding to letters from ordinary Americans, Donald Trump has ensconced himself in a bubble of self-delusion and sycophancy. But even if his advisers and Fox News will not tell him hard truths, US midterm voters still can.

TOKYO – When was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter? I don’t mean an email or a text message; nor would I count a dictated message to a machine or a personal assistant. No, I mean an old-fashioned “Dear Donald” or “Dear Hillary” letter.

The reason I ask is that 65,000 people actually did write such letters to Barack Obama every week when he was serving as president of the United States. According to a recent feature in The Guardian, a team of White House staffers would select ten letters each day to pass along to the president, who would then respond to them personally that evening. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Tough Times for the Tough Guys

Posted by hkarner - 25. August 2018

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Authoritarian leaders worldwide are confronting mounting crises of their own making. But while Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin face slower-brewing challenges, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US President Donald Trump seem to be bringing matters in their respective countries to a head.

TARN, FRANCE – Shares in strongman leaders seem to be falling. The market has not yet turned bearish, but autocrats have little reason to feel bullish.

Consider China. The internal power games of the Communist Party of China (CPC) are notoriously opaque, and rarely does political infighting reach the level at which it cannot be covered up. And yet rumbles of disquiet can clearly be heard. This month, as President Xi Jinping and his senior advisers retreated to the seaside resort of Beidaihe, rumors were circulating about growing criticism of Xi’s personality cult among the CPC rank and file. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Real Threats to the EU

Posted by hkarner - 3. Juli 2018

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

The European Union must address a slew of challenges – from immigration to eurozone reform – that risk causing systemic problems lethal to the bloc. Given this, sensible leaders can be forgiven for politely sending the UK on its way, and focusing their attention on threats to the EU’s long-term cohesion and fundamental values.

LONDON – In the United Kingdom, Brexit looms large, with everyone from government ministers to tabloid newspapers frothing daily about the deal that will be struck with the European Union and the effects that it will have. But the EU faces too many pressing challenges to be obsessing about Britain.

The UK’s concern is understandable: evidence is mounting of the likely damage a departure from the single market and customs union will do to the UK economy. According to new research from the Centre for European Reform, the UK economy is already 2.1% smaller than it would have been had voters chosen to remain. The hit to public finances totals £440 million ($579 million) per week.

The lack of information about how Brexit will play out has businesses worried. The CEO of Siemens UK, Jürgen Maier, recently urged British leaders to clarify how trade with the EU will work, urging them to ensure that the country remains in the customs union. Airbus has warned that a “no deal” outcome would force it to reassess its long-term position in the country, putting thousands of British jobs at risk. BMW has affirmed its commitment to remaining in the UK, but warned that costs could rise. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Populism Bites Back

Posted by hkarner - 27. April 2018

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Political posturing is often expedient. But British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is now being reminded daily of the far-reaching consequences of staking out positions that lack any meaningful regard for the future.

LONDON – This spring, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government is being reminded of just how powerful – and long-lasting – the unintended consequences of policies can be. Two problems concerning the United Kingdom’s borders – one relating to immigration, the other linked to the frontier with the Republic of Ireland – have lately erupted. While they have not yet weakened support for the government, they probably will. And they are almost certain to diminish what is left of Britain’s soft power.

The immigration problem goes back some seven decades, to the arrival of the first waves of Caribbean immigrants in the UK. They had been invited by the government in the wake of World War II to help offset a labor shortage, taking hard-to-fill jobs in the National Health Service (NHS) and other sectors. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A Dangerous Trump Spring

Posted by hkarner - 3. April 2018

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Donald Trump’s disregard for liberal democratic values is weakening the institutional pillars of the world order that the US itself had long championed. Only if the world’s other liberal democracies cooperate to push back against the US can the international community hope to hold on until more responsible American leadership returns.

LONDON – It’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Flowers are starting to bloom, as the sun shines brighter and longer each day. When it comes to world affairs, however, the outlook is hardly rosy.

In the Middle East, Israel has threatened military action against Syria and Iran. Saudi Arabia is also challenging Iran, in an attempt to curb the country’s growing influence in the region. In Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been tightening his grip on power, including by using the military to crack down on political opponents, and has just secured a bogus electoral victory. (Will Arab soldiers never learn that dictatorship increases Islamist fundamentalism and promotes instability?)

But this trend is far from limited to the Middle East. President Vladimir Putin has just sailed to his own guaranteed electoral victory, thanks partly to his use of the security services and their friends in the Russian mafia to eliminate any potential threat to his regime. But the Kremlin is not satisfied with damaging Russia’s own polity with plutocratic gangsterism; it is also working to undermine democratic processes elsewhere. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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In Defense of Democracy

Posted by hkarner - 31. Januar 2018

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Democracies have had a bad few years, but that is no reason to tout the virtues of dictatorships and authoritarianism. History shows that, when it comes to prosperity and human wellbeing, societies that defend economic and political freedom come out on top.

SYDNEY – Imagine that you, like me, are a typical product of Western liberal democracy, and are invited to give a lecture to a group of Chinese students in Beijing or Shanghai on its benefits. Ignoring the fact that, in reality, the Chinese government would never allow such a lecture, ask yourself: What would you say?

First and foremost, it would be advisable to acknowledge that you do not speak from a position of moral superiority. Western civilization in the first half of the twentieth century was not very civilized. Human rights were trampled. Class war destroyed entire political systems. There were large-scale violent conflicts and much ethnic cleansing. Given this history, Westerners are in no position to lecture on civil liberties or humane values.

It is also worth noting that the global march toward democracy, which seemed nearly inexorable after the fall of the Berlin Wall, now seems to be reversing. According to Stanford University’s Larry Diamond, several countries that were democracies at the beginning of this century have since shifted to different systems. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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