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Posts Tagged ‘Patten’

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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Donald Trump Thought

Posted by hkarner - 29. November 2017

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

Xi Jinping Thought has now been enshrined in the charter of the Communist Party of China, making Xi more powerful than any leader since Mao. If Donald Trump’s own eponymous ideology were entrenched similarly in the US Constitution, what would it require of future American leaders?

LONDON – After US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to China, it can only be a matter of time before right-wing media outlets like Breitbart News and Fox News suggest that he should take a page from President Xi Jinping’s playbook, despite the overwhelmingly Leninist nature of its contents.

At last month’s 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Xi was effectively anointed his country’s supreme leader. By enshrining so-called Xi Jinping Thought in the CPC charter, Party members established Xi alongside the People’s Republic’s two historical giants, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping – the only other Chinese leaders with officially recognized eponymous ideologies. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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China’s New Emperor

Posted by hkarner - 27. Oktober 2017

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

In another country, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s concentration of power might trigger accusations of latter-day totalitarianism. In China, however, Xi’s behavior has drawn praise from observers who believe that he is leading the way to the fulfillment of the “Chinese dream” of national rejuvenation.
HONG KONG – An anecdote about US President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 has long been regarded as confirmation of the long view of history taken by Chinese leaders. Zhou Enlai, Mao’s dutiful number two, is said to have responded to a question about the lessons of the French Revolution by saying that it was too soon to tell. In fact, according to diplomats who were there, Zhou was discussing not the revolution of 1789, but the 1968 student uprising in Paris, so it probably really was too soon to tell.  Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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This Year’s Cruelest Month?

Posted by hkarner - 31. August 2017

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The West’s Decadent Foreign Policy

Posted by hkarner - 25. Juli 2017

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