Why Libya will not be the next U.S. War

22 03 2011

After the end of the Cold War the U.S. is the only strongman in the world with ready military and navy assets to make a quick intervention into Libya.  One can argue, however, that an intervention does not make for a war, and that the U.S. will not regard it as such.  This argument will mostly be correct.

Despite emotional forces of the U.S. electorate to bring democracy to Libya, the U.S. continues to be non-committal in the diplomatic community.  This inter-mediation approach has been puzzling European diplomats.  The U.S. has apparently chosen to use an ‘intermediary approach.’   Slate magazine further discusses why Obama’s reluctance to intervene is his most important tactical asset.

While letting other countries use its military assets, the U.S. will leave decision-making on the impact of the action to the United Nations, Arab League, U.K, and France.  Opponents have also been consulted: Germany and Russia.

In the U.S., those who choose to call this intervention a war in response to ‘public call/ emotionalism’ Obama presidency will be scoring positive points for averting a humanitarian disaster.  Others will consider this intervention a negative for reasons of U.S. financial downturns.  Herewith, we examine both points, and best case scenarios that may end up being beneficial to 2012 Obama presidency run.

To the first point, as a young nation, U.S. electorate can become emotional very quickly, while lacking a sense of historical perspective.  This can be a powerful force for a country in overcoming adversities, in general.  For the first time, in a very long time, the U.S. presidency may be working out of the source of balance, maturity and diplomatic integration, as opposed to solely out of emotionalism, supporting George Friedman’s statement that: “The emotionalism of the moment exhausts itself rapidly.”   While emotional U.S. electorate may want an intervention, they may dispute spending money on a full blown war.

To the second point, the financial crisis presents an enormous problem for staging another war for the United States.   The prediction of the author is that in light of financial difficulties, the intervention which may run at exorbitant amounts of dollars per day, the United States may pay for it with the financial contribution from the Arab League money.  Incidentally, today is the 66th birthday of the Arab League.

As such, both points may positively affect the Obama presidency run in 2012.  Let us not forget however, that U.S. cannot be perceived as being in war with Arab Muslims.   This intervention will create further fragmentation in the Middle East, but it may end up benefiting the overall U.S. strategy because as long as Muslim region continues to fight among themselves, the U.S. strategic interests will be met.

Let us hope that while letting other countries make decisions on impact, while using the U.S.’s military assets, the U.S. is not putting itself into position of becoming a ‘paid mercenary.’  In the next blog we may examine pros and cons of such a strategy.


On Julian Assange – A Social Bandit

5 03 2011

As we explore morality of Wikileaks and having read numerous accounts and journalistic pieces on the process of releasing top secret information, about ego of its chief hacker who has also considered himself a journalist, and about a careful creation of formal media distribution channels for this type of illegal content — I have an admission to make — my opinion on the matter remains unclear.  Nevertheless, it has made me toss this subject around a bit.

I read something recently in Tom Wolfe’s book “The Bonfire of the Vanities” that reminded me of Julian Assange, and for that matter many other ‘unreasonable’ and ‘uncompromising’ characters who end up making history.

Tom Wolf compared one of his civil rights fighters in his novel to a concept coined by the Brit Hobsbawm

“He had this theory about primitive revolutionaries.  There are certain natural leaders of the underclasses, and the power structure interprets what they do as crime–they may even sincerely interpret it that way–but what that person is, is a revolutionary.”

This act of a primitive revolutionary, Eric Hobsbawm termed “social banditry” in his book “Primitive Rebels.”

Social banditry is a popular form of resistance that is also characterized as illegal by law.    It is also a typical Robin Hood model in which individuals who live on the edges of rural societies rob and plunder from the rich.  They are often seen by ordinary people as heroes.

Today, this outlawed activity can be compared to computer hacking, piracy, organized crime, street gangs, illegal drug trade.  Hobsbawm describes an outlaw as a bandit in the following way:

“The point about social bandits is that they are peasant outlaws whom the lord and state regard as criminals, but who remain within peasant society, and are considered by their people as heroes, as champions, avengers, fighters for justice, perhaps even leaders of liberation, and in any case as men to be admired, helped and supported. This relation between the ordinary peasant and the rebel, outlaw and robber is what makes social banditry interesting and significant … Social banditry of this kind is one of the most universal social phenomena known to history.”

In Tom Wolf’s novel, the civil rights revolutionaries were not necessarily depicted as the ones with the cleanest moral character, despite the fact that their cause was the just one.   The just cause sometimes can cause an upheaval which may result in the destruction of the innocent.

Perhaps so it goes for the Julian Assange story, which in its entirety– it is not so clear cut as to arrive to a black or a white conclusion.


2010 Deloitte & Touche Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index

1 03 2011


Published June, 2010

A report issued June 23 indicates that access to talented workers capable of supporting innovation is the key factor driving global competitiveness at manufacturing companies – well ahead of “classic” factors typically associated with competitive manufacturing, such as labor, materials and energy. Further, difficulties accessing the right kind of talent are likely to contribute to the United States becoming less globally competitive in the next five years.

These are the findings of the 2010 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, a research report from Deloitte’s Global Manufacturing Industry group and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness. The report is based on the responses of more than 400 chief executive officers and senior manufacturing executives worldwide to a survey conducted in late 2009 and early 2010. It also draws on select interviews with key manufacturing decision makers.

“At its broadest level, the study confirms that the global competitive landscape for manufacturing is undergoing a transformational shift that will reshape the drivers of economic growth, high-value job creation, national prosperity and national security,” according to Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness.

The study’s key finding about the growing importance of talented scientists, engineers and properly educated production workers is derived from a ranking system that asked the respondents to assign a numbered score of importance between one and 10 to a list of factors affecting industry competitiveness.

Drivers of global manufacturing competitiveness

  Rank   Drivers                                   Driver Score
                                                    10 = High   1
   ----                                   -------   = Low
  1      Talent-driven innovation                            9.22
  2      Cost of labor and materials                         7.67
  3      Energy cost and policies                            7.31
          Economic, trade, financial and tax
  4       systems                                            7.26
  5      Quality of physical infrastructure                  7.15
          Government investments in manufacturing
  6       and innovation                                     6.62
  7      Legal and regulatory system                         6.48
  8      Supplier network                                    5.91
  9      Local business dynamics                             4.01
  ---    -----------------------                             ----
  10     Quality and availability of healthcare              1.81
  ---    --------------------------------------              ----

  Source: Deloitte and US Council on Competitiveness -2010 Global
  Manufacturing Competitiveness Index

The report shows that while the overall top three competitive drivers (talent-driven innovation, cost of labor and materials, energy cost and policies) remain relatively stable across all geographic regions, there is some variance in their importance by region — especially in Mexico and South America, where talent did not rank number one. In these two countries, ‘quality of physical infrastructure’ ranked the highest.

“A strong manufacturing sector is a crucial component of a country’s intellectual capital, innovation capacity, and economic prosperity. In today’s environment, manufacturing competitiveness is driven by an empowered talent base, especially as manufacturers around the world integrate technology platforms and interfaces into their products,” said James Quigley, chief executive officer, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. “From the Americas to Europe and from Asia, to Africa, understanding the public policy and market forces that shape the manufacturing landscape is essential to winning in the global economy.”

Newcomer economies to gain ground – as the United States slips
The report identified the emergence of a new group of leaders in the manufacturing competitive index over the next five years. These include Mexico, Poland and Thailand – countries not always considered alongside longer-standing, up-and-comers like Brazil and Russia. Not unexpectedly, Asian giants like China, India and the Republic of Korea are projected to dominate the index in five years, as they do now.

Current competitiveness      Competitiveness in five years
                          Index Score                       Index Score
                             10=High                           10=High
  Rank     Country name       1=Low    Rank     Country name    1=Low
  ----                                 ----     ------------ -----------
    1          China                10     1       China              10
    2          India              8.15     2       India            9.01
            Republic of
    3          Korea              6.79     3 Republic of Korea      6.53
          United States of
    4         America             5.84     4       Brazil           6.32
                                              United States of
    5         Brazil              5.41     5       America          5.38
    6          Japan              5.11     6       Mexico           4.84
    7         Mexico              4.84     7       Japan            4.74
    8         Germany              4.8     8      Germany           4.53
    9        Singapore            4.69     9       Poland           4.52
    10        Poland              4.49    10      Thailand          4.35
    11    Czech Republic          4.38    11     Singapore          4.30
    12       Thailand             4.17    12   Czech Republic       3.95
    13        Canada              4.11    13       Canada           3.71
    14      Switzerland           3.07    14       Russia           3.47
    15       Australia            3.07    15     Australia          3.40
    16      Netherlands           2.90    16       Spain            2.63
    17    United Kingdom          2.82    17    Netherlands         2.63
    18        Ireland             2.78    18    Switzerland         2.62
    19         Spain              2.67    19    South Africa        2.52
   ---         -----              ----   ---    ------------        ----
    20        Russia              2.58    20   United Kingdom       2.51
   ---        ------              ----   ---   --------------       ----

  Source: Deloitte and US Council on Competitiveness -2010 Global
  Manufacturing Competitiveness Index

  Expected change in manufacturing competitiveness in five years

           Moving up                  Rank change
            Brazil                    5th to 4th
            Mexico                    7th to 6th
            Poland                    10th to 9th
           Thailand                  12th to 10th
             Spain                   19th to 16th
            Russia                   20th to 14th
         South Africa                22nd to 19th
           Argentina                 25th to 24th
         Saudi Arabia                26th to 25th

         Sliding down                 Rank change
   United States of America           4th to 5th
             Japan                    6th to 7th
           Singapore                  9th to 11th
        Czech Republic               11th to 12th
          Netherlands                16th to 17th
          Switzerland                14th to 18th
        United Kingdom               17th to 20th
            Ireland                  18th to 21st
             Italy                   21st to 22nd
            Belgium                  24th to 26th

  Source: Deloitte and US Council on Competitiveness -2010 Global
  Manufacturing Competitiveness Index

Further, dominant manufacturing super powers of the late 20th century – the United States, Japan and Germany – are expected to become less competitive over the next five years. Other Western European nations will be similarly challenged, especially the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy and Belgium, a finding made more dramatic by the continuing upheaval of the Euro.

“All Western European nations show an expected decline in rank over the next five years, which should be a cause for concern across the Continent,” says Hans Roehm, global managing partner, global manufacturing industry group, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

The report’s research-team leader and co-author, Craig Giffi, who serves as vice chairman and U.S. national industry leader for consumer and industrial products at Deloitte LLP in the Unites States, went on to explain that the ‘epicenter’ for manufacturing continues to shift to emerging markets; Asia, in particular. “What had been the world order in the second half of the late 20th century is giving rise to new manufacturing paradigms. But, even with the rise of China, India and Korea and the overall competitive repositioning of nations, the United States, Germany and Japan are still formidable and very competitive,” said Giffi.

However, the study also shows the United States slipping in rank from fourth to fifth by 2015, the highest ranking country to show a decline – while China and India remain as the leaders. “This finding deserves careful consideration as the U.S. evaluates its global competitiveness position,” cautions Giffi.

Competing seen as easiest in Asia, tougher in United States and Europe
The report identified a clear geographical divergence in the perception of public policy support for competitiveness. Most respondents from China think that their government makes competitiveness easy compared to respondents in Europe and the United States, with 70 percent of them citing government support of science, technology and innovation as advantageous. The European respondents identified public policy support for infrastructure development (46.1 percent), science and technology and innovation (43.4 percent), and intellectual property protection (42.1 percent) as their advantage. Respondents in the Unites States cited intellectual property policies (75.5 percent) and technology policies (61.3 percent) as their competitive edge.

Respondents in each region also identified differing policies that inhibit competitiveness. In China, these included immigration policies (32.1 percent) and healthcare (27.7 percent); in the United States, government intervention and ownership in companies (59.2 percent), corporate tax policies (53.1 percent), healthcare policies (51 percent), product liability laws (42.9 percent) and immigration policies (32.7 percent); and in Europe labor laws and regulations (42.1 percent), environment policies (36.8 percent) and energy policies (31.6 percent).

To download the 2010 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, please visit www.deloitte.com/globalcompetitiveness.

%d bloggers like this: