The Crisis of Governance in America and in Europe

Posted from London – Having watched the imbecilities taking place in both America and Europe, it seems we are experiencing a kind of fundamental flaw in governance on both sides of the Atlantic. And the price to be paid is going to be horrific.

In America we have developed an immobilized government due to the absurdness, irresponsibility, and stubbornness of the “crazy” Republicans. The proof of this is a look at the crop of GOP presidential candidates — not a single rational, creditable statesman in the whole lot. Their proposal for “change,” taken as a whole, would be a disaster from an economic, political, and strategic viewpoint. When Americans need the best, the Republicans are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

The Democrats remain defensive and cowered by the assault of the “Tea Party” types, while the right-wing dominated Supreme Court has made sure the rich corporations with their dollars will trump individual hopes and average American citizens on election day. We see a dysfunctional and indeed an absurd second party plus a far right ideological court system willing to hollow out both our constitution and our democracy. The Europeans are looking on in disbelief!

I simply ask anyone: would the framers of our constitution have ever contemplated this absurd concept? Is there a word in our constitution that gives corporations the right of a citizen along with unlimited, anonymous funds to control our politics, including elections?  All this for an inanimate construct whose only purpose is to make money for a few.

Here in Europe, there is almost equal disarray and an unneeded economic and financial crisis, which has reached debacle proportions. The recent crop of European leaders seems now incapable or unwilling of either putting their own national houses in order or growing their economies. Nor do they seem yet able to build a European construct which can collectively save the EU/EURO Zone from financial collapse. Worse they are collectively pushing a disastrous policy of deflation and austerity which will not only bring them down but will also impact most other developed countries outside the region.

The disarray of European leadership is exemplified by the likes of Italy’s Berlusconi.  His recent departure, after bringing his nation to its knees, has necessitated the turning over of governance to a highly qualified “technocrat.”  In France, President Sarkozy is both unpopular and facing a despairing economic outlook and labor unrest with cuts to spending and jobs. In Germany they are seeing a downturn in their growth rate, continued national deficit, and yet they are unwilling under Merkel to agree to a “grand scheme” to empower the European Central Bank and other institutions with sufficient authority and resources to meet any attack on their bonds or credit rating. Yet she still wants some unclear “strengthening” of the Euro Zone and EU. It rests largely in German hands to make the deal that will create stability in the Euro Zone.

Sadly in Britain Prime Minister Cameron has been making contradictory statements, as we noted earlier, about UK relations within the EU. In effect at the same time saying the UK will remain a member of the EU, while also trying to take away its authority and give it back to member states. He even calls himself a European “skeptic” while trying to assert an EU leadership role. The reaction to these statements in Europe by Cameron and his right-wing Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne was disbelief and anger, which did UK interests no good.

Here in London more and more information is leaking out on how Cameron is cutting social security for the poor, the young and the old, and the unemployed. Quietly he is dismantling environmental protections. According to the Nurses Society his policies are cutting or threatening some 50,000 nurses’ positions.  The ToryLibDerms are changing the ground rules for family assistance, which is being condemned by the Lords Bishops as cruel and unchristian. They are also doing what the Republicans in the U.S. are pushing for, namely a devolution of social support funding in such a way as to cut massively funding for the poor and programs carried out by regional bodies but now paid for by the central government. In short, the Tories and their LibDem coalition partners (a better word would be co-conspirators), are carrying out, in a stealthy way, efforts that will make life worse for the most vulnerable at a time when people are already deeply hurting in Britain.

In keeping with their defense of the rich bankers in The City, the Tories will sell the nationalized bank of Northern Rock at a loss to taxpayers of some 600 million pounds.  It will go to Virgin’s Group controlled by Richard Branson who is a big backer of the right-wing Tories.  Labour MPs have criticized the sale as a loss for taxpayers.

As a result of actions aimed at public servant’s wages, salaries and pensions, the public sector unions are going on strike on November 30th.  The government is now threatening to take their last offer to the unions off the table if they do so, and threatening even more dire actions than they have already announced. While bankers enrich themselves at government expense for their misdeeds the Tory leaders think the middle class and poor should pay.

So as America is facing a new political and economic crisis with the “Super Committee” unable to come to an agreement, the likelihood of a closing down of much of government, a showdown over the 2012 appropriations, and a lack of any significant action on a stimulus package, Europe seems in equal disarray.

The national security implications for each side are clear. A nation or a region that is in decline, where political stalemate is the norm, narrow greedy interests prevail, and the average citizen can only contemplate economic decline or ruin, is not a society that can secure its vital interests nor effectively shape a global community that is safe and dealing with its global challenges. Europe and America together either will fall or grow and time is indeed short to sort out the many problems and act before even more calamity befalls the two regions with much of the world’s resources and global reach.

By Harry C. Blaney III.

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