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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Debts We Owe 

I am constantly reminded of the contribution that past generations have made to our sovereign independence and our democratic rights and freedoms.

Just as one example, my primary school was Wooloowin State in Brisbane. Nearly every fit boy who went to school with me served in the forces in World War Two, mostly as teenagers.

A friend of mine who now has two sons at Wooloowin, has become deeply involved in the Kokoda legend. He even trekked, in 2001, over the KokodaTrack - a very considerable feat for anyone.

He has been constructing an Honour Roll for those WSS scholars who died in the war. I gave him the name of a boy who was, for many years, my bestfriend - Alan Cook. Alan and I went to school together, we played sport together, we"mucked about" together. Alan died setting out on a bombing mission over Germany in 1944 - at almost exactly the time that I was discharged to take up an appointment to the Australian diplomatic service. He was 21. Sad, wasn't it?Especially sad was the roll of the dice for him, contrasted with the roll ofthe dice for his best friend.

Now we're discussing the inclusion of two other boys who lived in the same street as I did for several years and with whom, in a very real sense, I grew up.

Owen K ("OK") Smith died in a bombing mission over Europe just months afterAlan was killed. He was 23.

John Yarra served as a fighter pilot in Britain and Malta and at one stage was credited with more "kills" of enemy aircraft than any other Allied fighter pilot. He was shot down by anti-aircraft fire from German ships he was attacking off the coast of Holland in 1942. I talked about him to a Dutch historian when I was Australian Ambassador to The Netherlands and he paid a tribute to John in a book that he published subsequently.

John was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Flying Medal. He was just 21 when he died. His younger brother Bobby, whom I knew too, of course, died also serving with the RAAF in Britain and Europe. He died in 1944 about the same time as Alan. He too was 21.

Can you imagine the agony of the parents of these two wonderful boys? CanWE - any of us - imagine the agony of the families of any of the boys lost in the war, at the very outset of their adult lives?

I was a student at the University of Queensland when I went into the army after Pearl Harbour. I was resident at King's College in Kangaroo Point in Brisbane. The outstanding young man who "sponsored" my entry into King's was just a few years older than I. He was A.D.S. Foggon - Dave or, as we often called him, Sandy. Some months after he introduced me to King's inMarch 1940, he joined the AIF. He went to the Middle East with the SeventhDivision's 2/25th Battalion and fought in Syria.

After Pearl Harbour, he returned with his battalion to fight along the Kokoda Track and at Buna/Gona. At the end of the Japanese resistance at Buna/Gona/Sanananda in January1943, his battalion set out to drive the Japanese from the whole of the north-west coast of New Guinea. While he was in the Middle East, we had corresponded regularly. By the time he returned to Australia, I was already in New Guinea. Then, for several months, we were both serving in New Guinea, at times quite close to one another; but, sadly, we never saw one another again.

I returned to Australia in July 1943. The 2/25th continued its advance along the north-west coast. At the approaches to Shaggy Ridge and at the Ridge itself, the Japanese resisted with characteristic tenacity. On 13 September 1943, about 12 miles from Lae, several of the 2/25th were killed or wounded in a fierce battle. Badly wounded, Sandy was evacuated to a field hospital nearby. There he died five days later, on 18 September 1943. He was 24.

These are just a few examples. There are many others. Sometimes we forget too that they were children of the Great Depression. Their society had bestowed very little upon them and, at the time, seemed able to offer them very little in the future, for whatever sacrifice they were prepared to make. But it made no difference: they gave of their best and often they gave their lives for a society that, during the 1930s, had turned its back on so many of them.

They were just "ordinary" young Australians but we owe them much more than token and formal respect and remembrance each Anzac Day. As I grew up with them, they gave no hint of their legendary character; but, when the chips were down, they proved themselves to be remarkable men of quiet courage and extraordinary resolution. Their contribution to our future was very real indeed.

If we remember them sincerely, perhaps the model they represent - not as "warriors" but as men prepared to make what often seemed their almost nonchalant sacrifice for a society to which they held themselves pledged - might be preserved.

It's good to see their contribution getting some recognition more than sixtyyears later. May it long continue.

James Cumes

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Digger Legend 

Stephen Matchett's article shows much more than the usual superficial understanding of Kokoda and the fascination it has for so many of us.
He is correct that we tend to grow more, not less fascinated as time passes.
One of the most persuasive drives for the individual and the society is the quest for identity. Gallipoli gave us something that, painfully, we needed; Kokoda is a major, more recent, closer-to-home supplement.
This applies, I think, to the migrants and their descendants who have joined theAustralian society, soon after or even decades after the largely Anglo-Saxon/Irish Australians fought the battles of the Second World War.
The newcomers, as I wrote once, tend to change the adopted society less than they are changed by it. That is arguable in the light of our history since 1945; but the newcomers are no less hungry for an identity that they can claim - and of which they can be proud.
Matchett is right of course that "not all Australians who slogged across theKokoda Track were heroes." The performances of the 39th and the 53rd were remarkably different.
The 39th has been described as "a scratch unit" but its tough courage and fortitude are deservedly a thing of legend.
Why is that true of the 39th and not of the 53rd?
All the kids up there were scared a lot of the time. Remember the "big, likeable seventeen-year-old" at Oivi who "artlessly admitted he was 'shit-scared': "Wish the bastards'd come," he added, "or I'll be yelling for Mum."
The average age of some of the platoons of the 39th was 18, so many of the soldiers were younger - often much younger. However, that applied to most units in New Guinea at that time.
Matchett correctly writes of the discipline demanded by Honner. That is fair enough and must have had some effect. However, Honner did not command the 39th in the period of what might be regarded as the battalion's greatest gallantry.
Only about thirty officers and men made it to Kokoda by air from Moresby in July 1942.The other aircraft that tried could not land. A day or so before, a company of the 39th had set out to walk to Kokoda by what was to become the famousTrack. These two groups were about the only troops available to confront the Japs inthe early stages of the campaign - along with a few of the PIB.
At the same time, keep in mind that the Japanese landed thousands of seasoned troops,well-equipped, at Buna and Gona in the week or so after 21 July.The "force" that held up the overwhelming numbers of Japanese at Oivi for a time could not have been more than a couple of dozen. Escaping through thejungle, they linked up with Lt-Col Owen, the CO of the 39th, and about 60 men at Deniki.
That "force" of about 80 men then returned to Kokoda and tried to hold back the Japanese so as to keep the Kokoda airstrip open for reinforcements and supplies.They fought a courageous battle against overwhelming numbers and firepower which again was surely the stuff of legend.
Two things are worth special note. It was Lt-Col William Taylor Owen who actively and courageously led his small force and inflicted severe casualties on the Japanese. His deployments to defend the airstrip were sound: he knew that they would try to climb a steep slope to take his men by surprise and it was there that he was fatally wounded in the head while he was hurling grenades at the Japanese climbing the slope. Mortally wounded, he was taken back unconscious to a rough RAP and there he had to be left to die when the Japanese overran the Kokoda plateau.
Sadly, recognition is rarely given to Owen for his part in creating the legend of the 39th in its earliest days.
His leadership helped to create the spirit and the morale that enabled the survivors of Kokoda to retreat to Deniki and then to Isurava where they held back the Japanese until - and only then - they were reinforced by fresh troops. ("Fresh" of course after having slogged over the Kokoda Track. Initially the reinforcement was by a company only of the 2/14th.)
Even the Japanese, in their diaries, acknowledged the "stubborn resistance" of the 39th at Isurava - resistance that, in its persistence, was ultimately decisive in the Japanese High Command's instruction to General Horii to withdraw his force from Iorabaiwa back to the coast at Buna/Gona.
The other thing worthy of special note is the way in which a 20 year old youngster, Snowy Parr, deployed, with great skill and courage, the only Bren the small force had and forced the Japanese to pull back for long enough for the remnants of the Australian force to withdraw safely to Deniki.
This sort of story helps to put the Kokoda campaign into better perspective. The Australians never got the credit they deserved for what they achieved. Blamey was guilty and so, of course, was Prime Minister John Curtin who had to make the tough decision whether it was more to Australia's advantage to keep Macarthur on side or to defend the Australian soldiers - and their generals.
We needed the Americans at that time and we were extremely glad to have them; but, brilliant general though he often showed himself to be, Macarthur always wanted his heroes to be all-American - with himself at the top of the list.
We should remember that it wasn't only the Kokoda officers who were criticised by Macarthur, largely through Blamey. The victor at Milne Bay - Clowes - had to put up with a lot of ill-conceived advice and instructions during the fighting itself and never received afterwards the accolades which he had surely earned by winning the first land victory of WW2 against the Japanese.
My own novel, Haverleigh, covers Milne Bay as well as Kokoda. So far as I know, Haverleigh is the only dramatisation of either of the two vital campaigns - and the only one done by someone "who was there." That does not mean that it is necessarily the "best" account - the most accurate rendition of history. Often, the perspective of time enables a more accurate story to be told. However, a story told by a contemporary who lived through many of the events has an authenticity and engenders an interest that few later accounts, however well researched, can offer.
This applies not only to the battles themselves but to the society from which the mostly teenage diggers came - and the families they left behind. Those families were often more panic-stricken, in 1942, than the "shit-scared" youngsters at the front; and they suffered terribly, not only when their boys were killed or wounded, but also in waiting for the bad news to arrive.
This is what our martial history is all about and what gives us much of our identity.
As Stephen Matchett notes, we are "not an especially martial mob"; but we like to think that we'll get in there and fight when the chips are down.
That is perhaps what Kokoda - and Milne Bay - are all about.
James Cumes
http://www.authorsden.com/jameswcumes

----- Original Message ----- From: "Jozef Imrich" <chezimrich@hotmail.com>To: <jcumes@chello.at>Cc: <Vision@lazette.net>; <Charlie.Lynn@parliament.nsw.gov.au>Sent: Saturday, June 25, 2005 9:07 AM

Subject: In the tracks of Kokoda I thought you would enjoy reading Galbraith's story, James>> I thought I share this story too in case you have not seen it - published> today>> CC: Charlie Lynn>> In the tracks of Kokoda>> June 25, 2005>>
WITH World War II fast passing from the land of living memory, perhaps we> are at the beginning of the end of the Australian interest in our ancient> wars.>> But don't bet on it. Interest in the national military achievement will> strengthen for as long as Australians look to history for ideals to bind> us together and to provide people to admire and values to respect. In> fact, if anything, interest in matters military, from Anzac Day attendance> to book sales, are on the up.>> This has nothing to do with nationalism. Despite the occasional outburst> of big-noting about wartime achievement, we are not an especially martial> mob; ordinary Americans are far more aware, and respectful, of their> military than we are. But as a nation of immigrants we have a particular> need for rituals that express values we all can share.>> Historian Miriam Dixson, in her excellent The Imaginary Australian (1999),> made a case for remembering the values of the old, once almost universal,> Anglo-Celtic culture that, Aborigines apart, was synonymous with being> Australian before the age of mass migration. Writing with the Hansonite> horror fresh, she warned that to ignore them was to risk weakening the> bonds that hold together our multicultural civil society.>> To extend her argument, one of the key sources of traditional Australian> values is the ideals of Anzac. It is this interest in Australian military> achievement that accounts for the spectacular success of Les Carlyon's> history of the Gallipoli campaign.>> But World War I was fought a long way away and a long time ago. And there> is a growing interest in fighting much closer to home, in Papua New Guinea> during World War II.>> Some specialist studies commemorate extraordinary feats of Australian arms> there, notably Phillip Bradley's 2004 study of the 7th Division in the> Ramu Valley in 1943, On Shaggy Ridge, which, in parts, is a minor> masterpiece of campaign history.>> However, it is the Kokoda Track that is becoming an equivalent of> Gallipoli for writers looking for a definitive Australian experience of> war. Peter FitzSimons's canter through the secondary sources has sold just> under 100,000 copies in about a year. A less florid writer, journalist> Paul Ham, has enjoyed a more modest, 15,000-plus, sale for his history of> the Kokoda Track.>> The master scholar of Kokoda and the campaigns that followed, South> Australian writer Peter Brune has sold 100,000 copies of his six books. By> the small standards of Australian military history writing, these are all> bestsellers rather than supersellers.>> Perhaps it is propinquity that makes them popular. Of all Australia's> wars, the fighting in Papua in 1942 was the closest we have come to facing> a direct threat. The Australians falling back along the Kokoda Track in> the middle of 1942 could have easily believed that if they were beaten> other Australians would find themselves fighting the Japanese in Darwin or> even far north Queensland.>> This sense that Kokoda was a battle in the defence of Australia will> cement its appeal as the reasons for invading Turkey in 1915 become ever> more remote. But the fascination with Kokoda has a much deeper basis. The> history of the campaign reinforces the lore of the Western Front, that the> Australian way in war shows us how we can prosper in peace if we hold true> to three great Anzac lessons.>> The first is to always innovate. When they arrived on the Western Front in> 1916 the Australians did not do well. But, like the Canadians and Kiwis,> they first learned, then transformed the craft of trench warfare, from> squad all the way up to army corps. There was a repeat performance in 1942> when Australian militia learned jungle warfare largely on the job and> finally stopped the extraordinarily tough and resourceful Japanese.>> The best Australian soldiers have always looked sceptically at the> accepted wisdom and worked out ways to improve on it.>> The second lesson men in both world wars believed in was not to trust> anybody too far from the fighting. Even now the popular understanding of> World War I can be summed up in a sentence: "The Australians reached their> objectives with heavy losses due to bad British staff work.">> It was never that simple but the idea that the more senior the officers> the more likely they neither knew nor cared about the blokes at the front> was common on Kokoda. With some justice. The Australian commanders on the> ground endured with their men. One key commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph> Honner of the 39th battalion, was respected by his men because the> discipline he imposed and the tactical skills he possessed gave them the> best chance they had of doing their jobs and staying alive.>> But Australian army chief Thomas Blamey was, and still is in much of the> Kokada writing, presented as a careerist, with no concept of campaigning> across mountainous jungles and no concern for the welfare of the blokes> doing it. In the way he sacked three generals, Sydney Rowell, Arthur> "Tubby" Allen and Arnold Potts, he protected his own arse rather than> covered the backs of competent officers. In telling veterans of the 21st> Brigade that it was the running rabbit that got shot, Blamey confirmed for> life every bolshie bloke's suspicion that bosses were dills at best.>> The third lesson refutes any idea of Aussie exceptionalism. Even in> FitzSimons's florid tale there is no attempt to disguise the truth: not> all Australians who slogged across the Kokoda Track were heroes.>> Although Honner's 39th performed well, a formation that served with them,> the scratch 53rd Battalion was a catastrophe. Badly led, poorly trained,> the unit included angry men who had been press-ganged into service. The> 53rd fought badly when it fought at all.>> The two units show that Australians are not natural-born killers. But when> training and discipline are balanced by a belief that all citizen soldiers> are social equals and that every Digger can move up a rank whenever> required, and above that they will look out for each other, and that they> are hard to beat. It is an excellent application of the ideal of mateship.>> Kokoda will not supersede Gallipoli or even Villers-Bretonneux as the> primary Australian military shrine. It may be closer, but conditions on> the track make it much harder to visit.>> But as the last generation to have any special affection for Britain> passes, we will likely look closer to home for popular sources of> patriotic pride. Which Kokoda delivers in spades. Different war, same Anzac icons.
matchetts@theaustralian.com.au

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Live 8, The British Initiative and Victory Over Want 

Live 8, The British Initiative and The Project for Victory Over Want

Bob Geldof's campaign for Africa is magnificent and unique. His persistence over a full generation is a measure of his dedication to a great humanitarian cause.
The proposals of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his Treasurer Gordon Brown and their Government also deserve support, both in themselves and in the impact that we hope they will have on the policies of the governments of other highly-developed economies including the United States.
Our aim - the aim of all of us - should be to make these efforts as successful and productive as we possibly can. However, although some of the more prominent proposals, such as cancellation of debt, can be applauded, they will do little, if anything, to reduce poverty or stimulate self-sustaining growth in the recipient countries.
As an Australian diplomat, I have been associated with aid programs for more than fifty years - since immediately after the Second World War. Service as Australian High Commissioner in West Africa left me with a deep affection for the African people and an appreciation of the magnitude of the economic, social and political challenges they face, including those challenges left behind by the former colonial powers.
The case for helping the Africans to meet these challenges is unassailable.
The case for helping other people living in poverty in other continents, is equally unassailable.
All of us in more comfortable circumstances should do what we can to banish poverty and its attendant suffering from the face of the Earth.
It was with that in mind that, at the beginning of 2002, I launched the project for "Victory Over Want". My view then was that it was not a matter of helping the poor, at the "cost" of the rich. Rather all of us - rich and poor - would "profit" if we were to use enlightened policies to help those poorer than ourselves. We will all grow richer if we can abolish poverty. We will all grow more secure if we can abolish poverty. We will all grow more comfortable in mind and body if we can abolish poverty wherever it occurs.
We must always bear in mind that severe poverty exists even in the richest as well as the poorer countries. In recent years, the threat of economic recession or depression has become more acute and widespread. Millions of people are unemployed and needy in Western Europe, North America, Australia and other "developed" areas. Even many of those who are employed are still impoverished if we apply reasonable standards of human welfare.
VOW therefore continues to have two overriding purposes:
(1) To halt the slide of the world economy into recession or depression and to re-launch it, through direct public and private investment, in ways that are effective, sustainable and equitable for all the world¹s people.
(2) To enhance the economic and, with it, the social and political infrastructure of all countries and regions, at whatever stage of development, so that both individuals and their societies can realise their potential in economic, social, political, cultural and other terms.
Within these overriding purposes, VOW asserts the right of all societies to invest their human and material resources for peaceful purposes, in ways that they see as fundamentally important to themselves and to vary the mix of public and private investment and enterprise in ways that they freely and democratically choose.
VOW is directed to serve all countries and regions around the world. It is concerned with the developed countries and regions as well as with the less and the least developed. Even in the richest areas of Europe, such as the South of France, many people are poor and homeless. Appeals for donations of food - "Marchons contre la faim" - are a recurring feature of daily life. In North America, millions, including children, are homeless and millions more live in sub-standard accommodation. Many are educated to levels far below their potential and some fifty million people - equal to almost the total population of Britain, France or Italy - have no medical insurance.
We will all benefit from enlightened policies of development. The rich will grow richer - and be more assured that they will retain their income and wealth - through abolishing poverty in the poorer areas. As one commentator recently put it: "One way out [of the problems of the rich developed countries] is faster development in the emerging economies, which will give rise to more consumption there. In this regard, the high-speed growth in India and China is very positive. China imported US$560 billion worth of goods in 2004, and this statistic could reach US$1 trillion by 2009. India, Russia, Brazil and many other emerging nations have been sharply increasing their consumption of late. One thing is clear, developed nations and the late developers are more than ever in the same boat."
That means that, to defeat poverty everywhere, we need to return to the attitudes of mind we had after World War Two. Then, in a world devastated by war, we were driven by a determination to avoid any recurrence of the economic suffering of the 1930s, the emergence of extremist régimes and the horrors of armed conflict. Policies of stable economic growth, social welfare and full employment were pursued nationally and through the United Nations and other international agencies. Then, in 1947, the Marshall Plan was launched.
The Marshall Plan had two crucial elements. The first was that it benefitted those who provided the finance, the productive potential, and the products of a dynamic economy, as well as those who received them. The second was that programs and projects were conceived, designed and carried through in a process of cooperation between those who provided the resources and those who received them. A continuing organisation - the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) - was set up to supervise and administer the Marshall-Plan process.
The Marshall Plan was one of the most efficient and successful enterprises in international cooperation in the twentieth century. It achieved its goals and the OEEC was transformed into the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). OECD still exists though with less effectiveness in devising sound and creative policies for the developed countries and imaginative aid policies for the less developed countries than, at an earlier stage, we might have hoped.
The VOW approach is to use essentially the processes of the Marshall Plan to enable us to banish poverty, through practical, day-to-day cooperation among participants and by using efficient economic, financial and business techniques. In that approach, the Marshall Plan is defined, not in a loose way as an unsupervised and poorly managed outpouring of aid funds, but as a hard-headed, cooperative program of investment, productivity and production that, by its very success, will contrive its own demise.
VOW contemplates that the process of eliminating want should start by coordinated definition of the problem and seek a solution through the participation of all, both poor and rich. Initially, a small executive working group (EWG) of no more than a dozen members, representative of all the continents, should be set up. This group should establish the broad parameters of the project. It should also arrange the appointment of commissions on, for example, economic stability and growth; full employment; transport and communications; the environment; health; and others.
The commissions should bring together experts in their fields but, above all, they should be representative of as wide a variety as possible of geographical areas, races, religions and stages of economic development. They should be charged with submitting their reports to the EWG within as short a period as practicable, say, three to six months. Those reports should, inter alia, seek to establish why some countries, especially in East and South Asia, have made unprecedented economic progress while other countries, especially in Africa, have been going backwards, even after having received substantial aid for decades. The reports should seek to show how fixed-capital investment, public and private, can, as in some parts of Asia, be used to boost productivity and production on a continuing basis and so raise employment, living standards and, generally, levels of human well-being. The reports should show how infrastructure investment, largely by public and international agencies, can be associated with private enterprise in coordinated programs of development. In brief, the aim will be to map out arrangements that will achieve real, self-generating growth - growth that can be sustained in the way that such growth has been achieved and sustained in the "Asian Tiger" countries over the past thirty years, and, more recently, in China and India.
Those reports would then form the basis of discussion and decision at a world conference which would be convened to launch the Program for Victory Over Want. As well as agreeing the broad guidelines for such a program, it would also establish a widely representative multinational body to oversee the administration and execution of the program. That executive body would continue in existence until such time as it could be demonstrated that victory over want had been achieved.
One of the principal features of these arrangements is that they would be expressions of direct democracy. The Marshall Plan was essentially governmental. However, especially in the last twenty to thirty years, governments have abdicated their responsibilities in most if not all of our most urgent national and international concerns, whether economic, social, political or strategic. In effect, governments have withdrawn from practical attention to the most urgent issues of our time. For some years, the people have expressed their unease through demonstrations or sometimes through formal democratic processes, such as the recent "No" vote on the EU Constitution expressed so unambiguously by the people of France and The Netherlands. In several countries around the world, governments have been overturned by their people acting outside the formal democratic or constitutional processes.
It is vital therefore that the VOW process should not be dominated by governments which have failed so dismally to meet the expectations of their electorates. Some government representatives should be accepted if they embrace the purposes of VOW but the principal inspiration and drive should come from a variety of representatives of grass-roots democracy.
Will such a process of grass-roots democracy be effective in eliminating want and creating a more cooperative, peaceful and secure world society?
All that we can guarantee is that a purposeful, well-organised process would seem to give us the best chance of achieving a cooperative, peaceful and secure world society. This is particularly so in a situation that has shown such serious deterioration over the fifteen years since the end of the Cold War. Cold War tensions have been followed by governmental confusion, chaos and culpable inactivity so dangerous that they could lead to catastrophic, worldwide suffering and conflict.
The VOW process would establish a program and a Charter that would serve as a basis on which national governments and international agencies, including the United Nations and associated agencies, could build with assurance and widespread support. The program and Charter would not be imposed by any one group of countries or people on others but drafted by all in fundamentally democratic cooperation.
While the Charter would be a product of direct democracy rather than of governments or international agencies, its ultimate acceptance and implementation by governments will be essential. Some non-governmental resources will be available to implement the program but it is likely that only governments will have the resources necessary to carry the whole program through on a long-term basis. Governments are already providing large amounts of aid, said to be, in the case of the EU, some $56 billion and, in the case of the United States, some $20 billion a year. However, this aid has been and is being provided in a way that has contributed and will contribute little or nothing to real development or reduction of poverty. Indeed, poverty now afflicts more people in many countries, developed and developing, than it did some decades ago.
Will acceptance of the Charter by governments be forthcoming?
Much will depend on the quality of the Charter. The careful multinational, multi-cultural process of drafting embodied in the VOW arrangements should ensure that the resultant Charter is of high quality and that it will acquire an authority that governments will be unable to resist.
As the drafting proceeds, governments are likely to manifest increasing interest in the Charter. Whether by formal participation or by informally feeding views into the drafting process, the Charter is therefore likely to become an international instrument that governments will be able - and perhaps obliged - to accept. In the field of international action to fight poverty, the Charter might thus become the equivalent to the Dumbarton Oaks proposals of 1944 which were then, in their essence, adopted by governments to become the Charter of the United Nations at the San Francisco Conference in 1945.
Will finance be available?
Millions of people around the world have shown their willingness to contribute huge sums to international aid, whether to alleviate chronic suffering or to help after a particular event such as the tsunami of 26 December 2004.
We need to divide the financial requirements into two parts:
(1) The costs of forming the executive working group, convening the commissions and running the World Conference; and
(2) The costs of formulating and implementing actual programs and projects.
The finance required for (1) is tiny in relation to the huge amounts of aid that have been disbursed in the past and that are currently being disbursed or proposed.
The initial finance required to launch the process by forming and convening the executive working group could be as little as $250,000. Costs would increase with the appointment of commissions and the convening of the World Conference but could probably be accommodated within a budget of about $10 million. That would be a tiny fraction of the amount already being spent on aid each day and would provide us with guidelines for the effective provision of aid of a quality and authority we have never had before.
The finance required for (2) would be considerably greater but would not necessarily exceed the amount already being spent under existing bilateral and multilateral aid programs. The difference would lie in the effectiveness of the aid. Growth of an economy depends ultimately on the size and quality of its public and private fixed-capital investment. As this investment and the consequent leap in productivity and production yielded a new dynamism in the participating economies, growth would become self-sustaining. Over what could be a relatively short period of, let us say, ten or fifteen years, that growth would enable aid to be phased out, just as it was in western Europe after the Second World War and as it was in a large part of east and south Asia in the latter part of the 20th century.
Through this process, we would eliminate poverty in both the richer and the poorer countries, we would achieve a greater equality among both individuals and societies and we would reduce the risks of conflict through war or terrorism. We would have the resources to enable us to protect our environment and our planet; and we could start to reverse the terrifying proliferation of conventional and nuclear arms around the world.
All of this is possible if we work together in enlightened and cooperative ways - ways indeed that are not strange or exotic but that we have already used effectively in the past.

A more detailed account of Victory Over Want (VOW) may be seen at -
http://VictoryOverWant.org
The web page of the initiator of Victory Over Want is at -

http://www.authorsden.com/jameswcumes

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

"Dollar Hegemony" and China 

There's no country that's quite "like China" in the sense that it's as big as; but the China "phenomenon" started long ago with the Asian Tigers and the most recent country "like China" is India which is very big too, though, so far as we can judge at the moment, it doesn't have quite the potential of China.
A related and very relevant question too is whether, in this "dollar hegemony" context, there is any country "like the United States."
The answer is that there is no other country that is - or has been - quite as big and powerful as the United States; but the "dollar hegemony" phenomenon started a long time ago with Australia, for example, deriving much the same consequences from the phenomenon as its Big Brother.
Some determined optimists in Australia have even identified those consequences as being highly beneficial and to show how clever we have been in the policies we have chosen over the last thirty years.
I don't think anyone has quite got to the point of referring to "Australian dollar hegemony" but once or twice they may have got rather close to it.
The main point, I suppose, is that we should try to identify the causes of the phenomenon whether we call it a "China" phenomenon or a "dollar hegemony" phenomenon or whatever.
From her quoted comments, Hillary might seem to be getting closer to the truth than most of her countrymen/women. However, she's way off the mark if she thinks that China started to become America's "banker" only after "Bush's fiscal policies, particularly Republican-backed tax cuts." The essence of the phenomenon goes back thirty years; and, although husband Bill had a better - and luckier - run, the "China" phenomenon was working up a massive momentum during the whole of the eight years of the Clinton Presidency. The extent of that momentum has become particularly manifest since 2000 and, yes, the Bush policies since have turned a huge wave into something approaching a tsunami. As Richebaecher recently put it, there has been a "serial massacre of the manufacturing sector."
In some ways, Australia is "unlike" the United States: it is much smaller, its currency is not a reserve currency like the US dollar, it has been running huge budget surpluses, it is essentially a "commodity exporting" country and so on.
However, it is "like" the United States in the basic model it has chosen to manage its economy and this has meant, inter alia, that we too have experienced a "serial massacre of our manufacturing sector" and we have now built up a trade deficit that, as a percentage of GNP, is even greater than the deficit of the United States.
While it is almost complete speculation, I can't help but wonder whether those who manage the Chinese economy - and envisage the future economic, political and strategic power of that country - have a clearer vision of what has been happening than those in Washington or, indeed, in the wider community of economic policymakers and "think-tankers" in the United States.




James Cumes http://www.authorsden.com/jameswcumeshttp://VictoryOverWant.org
----- Original Message -----
From: Hudsonmi@aol.com
To: a-list@lists.econ.utah.edu ; gang8@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Tuesday, June 07, 2005 6:50 PM
Subject: [gang8] Dollar hegemony
Re dollar hegemony, today's New York Times article (June 7, 05), "Senator Clinton Assails G.O.P. at Fund-Raiser," concludes with a sentence showing how conscious the U.S. policy is of establishing foreign debt dependency. Hillary decried Bush's "fiscal policies, particularly Republican-backed tax cuts, saying they were ballooning the deficit and ceding 'fiscal sovereignty' to countries like China, which are harder to influence when they become 'your banker.' " By the way, can any of you think of countries "like China" besides China? Michael Hudson

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