Sunday, April 5, 2009

World Ups and Downs

I'm considering starting a new feature of my reader, a weekly international news summary of ups and downs. Time is famous for its weekly summary of mainly domestic ups and downs, and for a while PolitickerMA had them as well. I'm going to do a one-shot deal and see how it's received -- likely in silence -- and consider doing more. International news fascinates me, especially the stuff that slips under the radar screen. I read the Big Three -- BBC News, CNN, and Le Monde daily. Other regional players such as the CBC, (Australian) ABC, Hindustan Times a couple times a week. I'm not Obama, but I'm far better off than Palin or Bush. One of my hopes, in any case, is to move beyond the obvious top tier of countries (Iraq, US, Afghanistan, China, Russia, etc.) to also look at countries that don't receive as much international and American attention.

The idea will be to rank countries for notable changes up or down. I define "up" or "down" in terms of the welfare of its people. Thus, a good week for North Korea's government is probably a bad week for its people. Same in Russia.

That explanation made, I appreciate feedback. And awaaaay we go...

moving UP
United StatesThe Obamas enjoyed delirious treatment from Britons, Germans, and French this week, helped by the president's personal magnetism, and international relief at dealing with an America leader who isn't a socially awkward moron is palpable. Note: for all the conservative whining about some perceived slight against the British Prime Minister or the Queen's gift, Britons themselves love Obama the Obamas.

DenmarkIn a surprise move to many, the Prime Minister of Denmark, overcame earlier Turkish objections to become the civilian leader of NATO. Anders Fogh Rasmussen had angered many Turks for his spirited defense of the right of free speech, even if it extends to mocking the Muslim figure of Muhammad. Rasmussen resigned from his post as Danish PM, and his finance minister will fill the role.

IndonesiaIndonesia, a stunningly diverse country with the most Muslims of any nation in the world, just concluded an almost entirely incident-free democratic campaign for the next parliamentary election. Incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono looks pretty much assured of re-election, partly because his party is the only one seemingly able to knit large slices of the population together in a coalition.

MexicoThe arrest of a top drug lord and increasing attention from the US government to our role in fomenting the drug war in Mexico are two small, precious signs that things may look up for this country riven by incipient warlordism.

moving DOWN
IsraelIf you're a people seeking peace with neighbors, the last thing you probably want is a hawkish, probably racist foreign minister. But that's what Israel has in Avigdor Lieberman, whose first speech as such included the line "We have seen that, after all the gestures that we made, after all the dramatic steps we took and all the far-reaching proposals we presented...I have not seen peace here." That kind of contradicts Netanyahu's promise of a new peace process soon, but there may be good news for him: Liberman's so corrupt that he may not have much longer in government, anyway. What happens next is anyone's guess, as this government likely won't last that long, and with a neutered Labor, it's up to the relatively new political party Kadmia to show that it's ready to lead.

North KoreaDespite all the world's huffing and puffing, North Korea still did whatever the f--k it wanted, launching an intercontinental missile. While early reports from around the world indicated that the launch successfully placed in orbit a satellite, we're now hearing that it failed. Meanwhile, the North Korean people starve.

SudanSudanese President and indicted war criminal traveled unfettered to Qatar this week, where many neighbors welcomed him with open arms, giving him regional cover to continue his regime of genocide.

1 comment:

noternie said...

Excellent idea and well done. I feel better informed after reading it.

The links are a good way to find out more, when something tickles my fancy.

I'll look forward to more of this.