001_Global13_Forethought_Illicit PDF.pdf

Global 13

Forethought Th e best is yet to come Ian Beales, Editor S ual of gloomy introspection and frequently false hope that in Myanmar and exclusion of China from the trans-Pacifi c tradingAs it is, the U.S. President still has much to prove. His some-times-clumsy interventions in South-east Asia – unsubtle embraceso the Maya were, on this at least, wrong. The world didn’tend on 21 December. We are still free to engage in the rit- marks the passing of one year to the next. It is business as usual. partnership – reveal a disquieting misreading of ASEAN priorities. Civil war in Syria continues to defy the best endeavours of United This must be swiftly addressed if Obama’s Pacifi c Pivot policy is Nations peacemakers. As the United States negotiates its way back to be progressed. China’s increasingly tense rows with Japan and from the edge of one fi scal cliff, the European monetary system Vietnam over the disputed sovereignty of offshore islands spot- continues to stare down from another into its own economic abyss. lights the need for an adept peace-broker. It could cue a legitimate Iran remains potentially explosive and North Korea’s delusional diplomatic initiative for Obama, but every opportunity is strewn leadership is, if not actually on another planet, technologically as with broken glass. The President and the new Secretary of State well as mentally in orbit. Welcome to 2013. must tread carefully. For succour, we might turn to President Obama who, having won While Mr Obama sets out to create a legacy, Mr Xi is about to a second term, assures the American people that ‘the best is yet to inherit one. China’s soft-power initiatives of offering long-term come’. There are at least two problems with this. For a start, there aid to developing countries with mineral or other natural resourc- is the unconscious irony that what is intended as an inspirational es, is coming of age. After more than 20 years of strategically epigram for Obama’s second term, actually serves equally well (or targeted infrastructure development around the world, the invest- perhaps better) as a confessional epitaph for his fi rst. Then there ment is paying off. Nowhere has this been more successful than is the discomfi ting complication that the best yet to come might in Africa, where once China had little or no traditional infl uence still be preceded by rather more of the austere worse, including a or, indeed, interest. double dip recession. Now, as China’s own economic miracle slows - along with the For a president borne into offi ce four years ago on the crest of a other BRIC nations, Brazil, Russia, and India - Africa shows signs near-universal wave of goodwill and expectation, this second term of not only weathering the global economic storm, but also of defy- is a chance to redeem unfulfi lled promise. As the fi rst black U.S. ing it. South Africa, of course, joined the original Big Four emer- president, Barack Obama’s place in history is guaranteed. His test gent nations quite early, turning BRICs into BRICS. In 2013, much now – as it was in January 2009 – will be to turn that landmark into of the rest of the continent shows signs of genuine and sustainable a lasting legacy. If the best is yet to come, will it be delivered in growth. These links bring big dividends for Beijing. Africa’s trade time for him to claim the credit? with China has grown from $10.6bn in 2000 to $166bn in 2012. China, as so frequently this century, may hold the key. The new So while Europe’s economy slumps, the U.S. stalls, and even Xi Jinping leadership remains a largely unknown quantity, enigma much of resurgent Asia and South America loses pace, Africa starts being China’s most enduring historic trait. Relations between Bei- at last to fi nd its rhythm and stride. It is, to be sure, slow, some- jing and Washington are always crucial and usually patchy. In this, times painfully intermittent and varied in scale and pace. But it is Obama now has the advantage both of genuine diplomatic experi- real, hopeful – and long overdue. Over the centuries, most of the ence and of not being Mitt Romney. Had the Republican candidate world has seen the good times and the bad times. Africa has seen triumphed in the presidential race, the prospect of a new and untested little of the fi rst and too much of the second. If there is one part of Xi regime and a rampant Romney West Wing, both with something the globe where it might be said that truly the best is yet to come, it to prove at home and abroad, might have jangled diplomatic nerves. is here. Watch this space. global issue 13 www.global-briefi ng.org Nexus Strategic Partnerships Editorial Editorial DirectorRita Payne Alexander House, 1 Milton Road EditorIan Beales Sales & Marketing DirectorSimon Goodlad Cambridge, CB4 1UY, UK Consultant EditorsRichard Synge, International Relationships Manager Anne Wolf Phone +44 1223 353 131 Anver Versi, James Woodall Client LiaisonYvonne Gertenbach, Tom Scott Fax +44 1223 353 130 Sub Editor Caroline Hunt DistributionAlan Grant Editorial Assistant Jessica Murphy, Rosamund Letters to the Editor editor@global-briefi ng.org West, Laura MacLean, Amber Gunn The views and opinions represented in this magazine are not necessarily those of Enquiries Design and layout Henrik Williams Strategic Partnerships or the Commonwealth Secretariat. While every effortthe institutions to which they are affi liated, and should not be attributed to Nexus Advertising advertising@global-briefi ng.org Production Manager Chrissie Eaves-Walton has been taken in all cases to represent faithfully the views of contributors and Subscriptions subscriptions@global-briefi ng.org Research Hannah Cochrane or their consequences.Global aspires to bring Commonwealth values to bear ininterviewees, the publisher does not accept responsibility for errors, omissionsNik Mason, Julia Schmidtexploring the challenges facing the world: while it includes Commonwealth news,Web it is an editorially independent publication. Publishing PublisherSmuts Beyers ISSN 2042-3985 global first quarter 2013 www.global-briefing.org l1


Global 13
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