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Despite much talk on President Assad's imminent fall a year and a half ago, and then the last year or so of a “stalemate”, it is now for everybody to see – whether we like it or not - that the present phase of the Syrian civil war is nearing its end, unless there is direct military intervention from abroad. The apparent decision by the US to provide the rebels with more sophisticated weaponry will only slow this process, not change the outcome. The big question is, however, what comes next?
Wednesday, 09 February 2011 16:27 in Politics

Biometric data and Frankenstein programmes

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Most of the cables from US diplomatic staff to their bosses in Washington are boring, and one wonders how they can be brought up in the media as “revelations”, when they are just stating the well-known points of view of the American Government. Iran's government is nasty, Hugo Chávez is a dictator (even if they add that he is not stupid) etc. - yawn! Then there comes some spice, when they talk badly about close allies, as the French President Nicholas Sarkozy or the Italien PM Berlusconi, but frankly – nothing surprising. It is of course funny to see the…
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Everybody has probably heard about Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez' weapon deals. Tanks and anti-air missiles from Russia, warships from Spain, training jets from China, air defence systems from Belarus. The US has expressed its concern that Venezuela is provoking an arms race in South America. Its actions could endanger regional stability the US says. Really? Venezuela is number 5 in Latin America in military spending, both in absolute terms and as percentage of GDP. The Latin American leaders in military spending are two close US allies: Colombia and Chile, which in relative terms spend almost three times what Venezuela does.
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As the US is overstretching its military power and the centre of gravity of the world economy is shifting towards Asia and Latin America, the formerly so mighty US empire is in decline. With no single new superpower emerging, we are inexorably moving towards a multipolar world. Decline is always difficult to manage and with the unprecedented US military power the process is extremely dangerous. Will the US be able to manage this gracefully?
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Two years after the onset of the financial crisis, the US economy still looks very bad. The reason is that the US crisis is not only the result of a real estate bubble and the resulting crisis in the financial sector, but also of a more fundamental lack of competitiveness. The US economy needs a profound restructuring, and there is no simple way to achieve that.
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International investors are panicking. The EU and IMF have bailed out Greece, then Ireland and everybody's guess is that Portugal or maybe even Spain may be next. After the bail-out, these countries are in for a long and tough period of austerity and low growth. Is the Argentinian default a decade ago a better alternative?
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