Wednesday Night #949 with Dr. Mihailo Crnobrnja

It has been quite a week! For those of us privileged to hear Kimon on the subject of Global Governance last Wednesday, it was a bit of a shock to wake up to Global Chaos on Thursday morning. Presumably this will give rise to a new entry in the Lexicon – E-Chaos.
Then there was the PQ Convention and St Lucien’s restored halo. In that context, nothing prefaced by E- was popular, so let us move on.
On Sunday, a privileged few heard the inspirational Shimon Peres discuss his view of the future and the Shimon Peres Institute for Peace that he has founded. He wryly expressed the hope that E-Commerce might make way for E-Peace.
But the news out of Africa – and particularly Sierra Leone – is not encouraging for the immediate future of E-Peace. The ineffectiveness and total collapse of the UN Peacekeeping effort is both horrific and deplorable. Sri Lanka’s experience is similar. How do we fix the world?

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Misha [aka Dr. Mihailo Crnobrnja] introduced Izabela Grocholski, an American of Polish background who has just completed her studies in Political Science at McGill and also has a broad interest in the arts, particularly music.
This week, there are a number of issues that have made the international news, including the meeting of the United States Federal Reserve on Tuesday May 16, China, trade and human rights, the ominous silence in the India-Pakistan conflict, Sierra Leone. These topics quite naturally formed the basis of discussion for the Nicholsons’ Wednesday Night Microcosm.

The U.S. economy is boiling, threatening inflation. The Consumer Price Index has risen to 3.7% (almost 2 ½ % excluding food and fuel). Wages are under upward pressure with hourly wage up almost four percent. There is a record job creation rate and the Stock Market is under pressure. As a result, the Federal Reserve will most likely announce a half percent increase in the discount rate on Tuesday May 16. The Bank of Canada has two days to react to the result of this move, before it announces its decision on Thursday May 16. The Governor and Deputy governor, would prefer a 1/4% increase because the Canadian growth figures have not been as positive as those in the United States.
February has seen the first Canadian decline in Gross Domestic Product in nineteen months. Following nineteen quarters of positive growth, February and March numbers have been weak, exports and domestic retail sales have declined. The Canadian Consumer Price has risen 3% in the last twelve months. Wages are climbing, but not as much as in the United States. On Tuesday afternoon, if the Canadian dollar remains at the sixty-seven cent U.S. level, the increase will be set at 1/4%, if it does not, it will probably follow the Federal Reserve with a half percent increase.

United States foreign policy remains inconsistent. A great deal is being said about linking trade with China with human rights issues, but the truth of the matter is that the United States probably benefits so much from inexpensive imports from China while enjoying full domestic employment, it is very unlikely that the human rights issue will be a factor. Unilateral attempts at enforcement would be futile. It has been so in Cuba and no attempt is being made in Chechnya. With continuing globalization, it is possible that the next generation in China, will be less intransigent.

The U.N., NATO and the U.S. are having mixed success in peacekeeping efforts throughout the world.
In Bosnia-Herzegovina, roughly seventeen thousand international civil servants, – specialists in everything-, under the direction of The Lord High representative, are running the country with dictatorial powers. Interesting to note that nearly 1 Billion USD has been stolen (corruption), but on the surface, at least, there are relatively few problems and he infrastructure is being rebuilt. One auspicious note is the results of the mayoralty elections in Sarajevo where the democratic forces won big against the Muslims.
Kosovo, on the other hand, remains a quagmire for peacekeeping forces.
The United Nations requires that peacekeeping forces in Africa be regional, but Africans do not have the sophisticated equipment to keep the peace. In Sierra Leone, the war is being financed by the illegal diamond trade. There is more involved than inter-tribal conflict. Africa suffers from the relatively short time that has elapsed since the beginning of independent administration, (many of today’s leaders have evolved only recently from being guerilla ” freedom fighters” and in countries like Zimbabwe, their political power depends on keeping their former guerilla companions happy). Furthermore, African nations have been until now disfavoured economically as the First World has never believed that continent’s sphere of influence to be sufficiently far-reaching to warrant major aid, or more importantly, technical assistance (except, of course, during the Cold War when votes were crucial in the U.N.)
Though not widely recognized as such, India is probably the most dangerous potential flashpoint. The largest democracy in the world (India expected the birth of its billionth citizen on Thursday morning), India is not given adequate recognition. Instead of leaving India with nowhere to turn but China or Russia, the West should embrace India and accord more than symbolic recognition to this large democratic nation. But, since Indian independence, Western, and especially U.S., attitudes towards India have been negative – partly this may stem from the resentment of India’s strong role in the bloc of Unaligned Nations and frequent votes against the U.S. in the U.N. in a period when in U.S. foreign policy, there was no grey area. Marshall Tito and Sukarno managed to gain respect as leaders of unaligned nations while India’s role created resentment. Could it be that the American politicians and leaders of the time were not ready to deal with a strong, vocal and critical female leader of such a large country?
Unfortunately, there is no Indian constituency in the United States.

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #949 with Dr. Mihailo Crnobrnja"

  1. Diana Thébaud Nicholson May 26, 2000 at 3:49 pm ·

    Dear Mr. and Mrs. Nicholson,
    I have finally made it to New York following a rather hectic concluding week in Montreal. And now, together with many other fresh college graduates, I am looking for work to sustain me until I depart for Warsaw.
    I wanted to thank both of you for a wonderful evening, Wednesday, May 10. It was very interesting to have received a taste of the activities of Montreal’s cultural and political elite. It is one salon I will not forget.
    In spite of my VERY Utopian dreams of becoming the next Toscanini, my plans for the near future are not connected to music. I majored in Art History and minored in Political Science…quite an interesting and very important combination of fields might I add. I still have not decided, however, if I will continue to work in the visual arts, or if i will lean more heavily towards the political world. Although my curatorial experience has been fascinating, I am surrounded by so many other opportunities which I still wish to explore. Journalism for example, is tickling my interests and it is an area I intend to pursue in Poland
    Well, the formation of ideas and their implementation are two very different things. We will see how I resolve that difference.
    In any event, my memory is filled with great experiences which all have and will have a big influence on my future activities. Wednesday the 10th has definitely left an imprint with me…quite unwarranted and very pleasant. I thank you kindly for allowing me to enjoy your company. Perhaps we will cross paths again one day.
    Sincerely, Izabela Grocholski

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