Friday, August 15, 2008

Georgia and the Archduke

Paul Krugman raises the possibility that the present phase of globalisation may die just as the last phase died in 1914. Once again nationalism will be the killer and Georgia, like the assassination of the Archduke, may be the portent. Both phases of globalisation were bolstered by the conviction that the opening up of world trade was an irrevocable, permanent and benign state of affairs. Crucially, the profits of trade were expected to overcome the seductions of war. This is not, as Krugman says, 'a safe assumption'. Indeed. But he does add that this globalisation phase seems slightly more solid than the last because it is inconceivable that the countries of western Europe would ever go to war. This is possible but I suspect the frock-coated beneficiary of globalisation in 1913 thought his economic world was more stable than any other because of empire. People always find a special reason to believe they are special. I also suspect that nationalistic destruction of this phase has been going on for some time. The process will intensify under pressure from resource shortages. Georgia feels portentous mainly because of the startlingly aggressive behaviour of Russia, a member of G8, the globalisation club. But if you want the real portents, look no further than the price of oil and the depleted aquifers.


  1. The recent Russian military adventure will hopefully have our lords and masters busily drawing up plants for the immediate implementation of the building of as many nuclear reactors as these islands can safely accommodate, anything less will be the greatest mistake possible. We cannot go on relying upon dwindling energy supplies dependent upon the whims of foreign governments and regardless of whatever risks are involved from nuclear energy generation. It is either that or at some point in the future risk military conflict over a dwindling supply from a hostile source. Obviously Greenpeace and Co will have to be put in the naughty corner.
    As for Krugmans theory on a non aggressive Europe, the king is in the alltogether.
    Globalisation = pan opportunism.

  2. Some important oil and gas pipelines run through Georgia. We don't yet know whether full control of those is Russia's real target - whether by conquest or by turning Georgia into a kind of Bantustan - but if so then all your points would come together. Even then, we're complicit in much of this. Standing tough with Russia is one thing but stoking Russia's paranoia with NATO memberships and missiles in frontier zones is another. Typically, the Bush administration seems to have ballsed this up completely.

    I can't help feeling that self-interest has us looking in the wrong direction. Any new world disorder over national sovereignty and access to natural resources will come from the East - China overwhelmingly but also India. What the Chinese think of the Kremlin Poisoner is much more important than anything we may feel.

    It meantime, I'm with Malty. It's nuclear power here or bust. Unfortunately that will require a sea change among the EU-loving, Guardianista class which now controls the country, and it may be very slow in coming.

  3. Russia a startlingly aggressive member of the G8. You have got to be kidding, right. Russia is in the very, very minor league compared with other members of the G8.

    And I don't think denying Russia membership of NATO and running the alliance right up to its border is paranoia. Neither is the laughable, totally laughable, Iranian pretext for placing missile defence in Eastern Europe.

    Malty: what are you going to put in all those nuclear` reactors, and all the other ones that everyone is going to be building?

  4. chris, I suspect that very shortly the question will be rendered academic, needs must. We are rapidly approaching the point on no return. I suggest 37 of them in Kent Sussex and Surrey another 18 in Norfolk and 12 in Westminster.
    I jest, of course, 11 in Westminster will suffice.

  5. Chris - we can solve part of our nuclear waste problem by re-using it as fuel. The real problem in building a new generation of reactors, however, is not the "EU- Guardian" classes but a shortage of skilled engineers and investment. It has been so long since we built new nuclear power stations that without French investment it can't happen.

  6. Chris, I wasn't talking about denying Russia membership of NATO but extending membership of NATO to Russia's former satellites and then pumping up their hardware. Imho, paranoia is as much a staple in the Kremlin as vodka or Swiss bank accounts. "Russia is never as strong nor as weak as she seems" is a good start, meaning be as firm with them as they will surely be with you, but don't overdo it 'cos, when roused, they are berserkers. A balancing act, perhaps, but I don't think GWB and co have quite mastered it.

    I'd suggest that a lack of engineers skilled in nuclear power is entirely a consequence of the foibles of our ruling class and that expecting the French to sort it out doesn't amount to much of a plan. Somehow, a plan B will have to be produced. This is a problem when the same mindset appears still to be in charge.