In a genuinely open, merit-based contest, the 25-member executive board’s deliberations should have been preceded by debates between the candidates. I suspect that Okonjo-Iweala, with her enormous competence and renowned wit, would have got the better of Kim. The world would also have seen why so many of us were rooting for her.
It is beginning to look like Bahrain’s ruling family has calculated correctly that its close allies in Washington, London, and Brussels do not care enough about al-Khawaja to risk challenging al-Khalifa hard-liners and their Saudi allies by publicly pushing for his release or by making clear that Bahrain’s continued stonewalling will have a price.
The selection of a successor to Robert Zoellick as president of the World Bank was supposed to initiate a new era of open meritocratic competition, breaking the traditional hold that the United States has had on the job. Indeed, Zoellick’s own appointment was widely regarded as ‘illegitimate’ from that perspective. But US President Barack Obama has let the world down even more distressingly with his nomination of Jim Yong Kim for the post.
It may seem strange, but the EU sees itself as a soldier of the common good. Why is a group of countries whose share in worldwide CO2 emissions is only 12% – and set to decline fast – aspiring to global leadership on the issue, despite US inaction and emerging-market countries’ reluctance to commit to binding emission-reduction targets?
In part, the EU’s stance reflects the preferences of European public opinion. In part, it arises from internal politics: to press ahead with its agenda enables the EU to strengthen its hand vis-à-vis the member states. In part, there is the hope that by moving fast, Europe will acquire a comparative advantage in low-carbon technologies.
The Kremlin likes to portray Russia as a besieged fortress. And it likes an economy with a few hugely lucrative industries under its own tight control. Encouraging Russian businesses outside the world of bureaucratic rents and extractive industries undermines the power monopoly of the ruling criminal syndicate.
ANALYSIS: The People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), an organisation with the declared aim of overthrowing Iran’s Islamist regime, has hundreds of supporters in the ranks of the European Parliament and the United States Congress. Retired senior officials from administrations on both sides of the Atlantic have signed up to lobby on its behalf. Yet the PMOI was, until recently, listed as a terrorist organisation by both the European Union and the US government. So what explains the strength of its support?
Determinism in history has always been defeated by the unpredictable forces of human will, and, in this case, by the West’s extraordinary capacity for renewal, even after cataclysmic defeats. True, the West is no longer alone in dictating the global agenda, and its values are bound to be increasingly challenged by emerging powers, but its decline is not a linear, irreversible process.