It’s 3 a.m. in the White House

Oh how we laughed.

“It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safely asleep”, began the deep, urgent voice in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 TV ad.

“But there’s a phone in the White House, and it’s ringing,” the voice went on, over pictures of a sleeping child.

At the time, then-Senator Clinton was slugging it out for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination against young upstart Barack Obama. The ad was supposed to convince primary voters that in a dangerous and unpredictable world, her experience in international affairs trumped his.

Who did you want to answer that phone?

[…]

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Making MINTs from BRICS

BBC R4 World Tonight Indonesia Report

Remember the BRICS? Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa were the future of the world economy once upon a time. Fast-growing countries with either abundant natural resources or vast forces of cheap labour (or both) and business-friendly governments happily creating middle class wealth.

You don’t hear so much about them these days. Slowing growth, regulatory problems, labour unrest and, in the case of Brazil, massive demonstrations on the streets have rather taken the shine off the BRICS.

So, enter the new darlings of the foreign investor community, the MINTs. […]

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Delusions of Empire

All Empires like to think their colonial subjects love them.

Which is why the undying devotion of the Falkland Islanders is so satisfying for the British.

But it’s also dangerous. It helps us maintain the myth of benevolent motherland and grateful locals. And that in turn means we’ve convinced ourselves that Empire – and what now remains of it – is no bad thing.

For the Falkland Islanders, that may be true. Thirty years ago, they suffered Argentina’s sudden invasion and the trauma of the war that forced the invaders out.

The renewed (and remarkably bellicose) claims of sovereignty […]

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Don’t mention the C word

How should we deal with our remnants of Empire?

Some (the Falklands, Gibraltar) cling to us, more British than Britain, terrified of the alien nations next door.

Others grudgingly accept our existence (and our financial help) when they need it but feel little real affection for the UK – especially when we start bossing them around.

That’s the case today in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where I recently watched the very British governor open a new radar station as a choir of local school children sang “God Save the Queen.”

The Turks and Caicos are a string of […]

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Letter from Spain

If, as Mahatma Ghandi said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members,” then I might move to Spain.

True, Spain is going through unprecedented economic turmoil. The $36bn in spending cuts planned this year probably won’t be enough to get its budget deficit under control. Unemployment is at a record high 24.4% (twice that rate amongst the young), public sector salaries are being frozen and taxes are going up. It’s tough for everyone certainly. But there’s something about the language of austerity – and the values that reflects – that gives one hope. […]

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