The Coming Iraqi Business Boom

Posted by , 21st December 2010

BagdadBartle Bull
12/21/2010

Nine months has been a long time to wait for a new government in Iraq, but the process has happened peacefully and constitutionally, and Bull is encouraged by that. There is evidence that Iraq can avoid much of the “oil curse” and build a more cosmopolitan and modern economy than those of its autocratic neighbors. Iraq’s greatest resource is its famously resourceful, tough, educated, and enterprising people. Whereas the capitals of the Gulf oil monarchies did not have paved streets a generation or two ago, Baghdad and Basra are ancient capitals of commerce, ideas, and global finance. However, Iraq still faces the challenge of overcoming inefficient bureaucracy, rampant corruption, and sporadic violence.

Bull, a former journalist, is a founder of Northern Gulf Partners, an Iraq-focused investment bank.

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In Belarus, a slide toward Eastern aggression

Posted by , 21st December 2010

LukashenkoAnne Applebaum
12/21/2010

In Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko was “elected” to a fourth term as president after a violent crackdown by his regime. The violence, says Applebaum, was evidence of Lukashenko’s weakness. Truly popular leaders do not need to resort to bloodshed and beatings to intimidate their opponents and shut down communication. Lukashenko rejected a deal with the European Union that involved Belarus receiving, among other things, more open borders in exchange for free elections. He did, however, sign an oil deal with Moscow. This represents the decline of the West. The United States and Europe are “out of money and out of ideas” and can not offer any “carrots” as attractive as Russian oil.

Applebaum is a weekly columnist for The Post, writing on foreign affairs.

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A democratic test for Venezuela

Posted by , 20th December 2010

Hugo ChavezJackson Diehl
12/20/2010

Leopoldo Lopez, an optimistic political challenger of Hugo Chavez, is well aware of the regime’s unhesitating manipulation of elections: Lopez was once banned from the gubernatorial ballot by government fiat. Nonetheless, he remains hopeful that Venezuelans are mobilizing to unseat Chavez in 2012. A major key to the opposition’s electoral success is support from the United States. But Lopez does not see “a clear policy” from the Obama administration that indicates a focus on a democratic transition in Venezuela. Diehl says this will have to change if the opposition is to continue having hope of voting out Chavez and ushering in democracy.

Diehl is deputy editorial page editor of The Post. He is an editorial writer specializing in foreign affairs.

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Memo to board: we need to talk about BP

Posted by , 20th December 2010

BP oil spillMichael Skapinker
11/1/2010

Skapinker says that following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil well disaster, all companies should set aside time to discuss the implications of a catastrophe hitting their organization. A disaster can hit any firm so they should all take time to think what their potentially grave threats are and how they would deal with them. The Deepwater Horizon disaster highlighted the importance of having a well-rehearsed response ready for when things go wrong. Skapinker adds that there is little point in firms moaning about adverse media coverage should catastrophe hit. Round-the-clock news, blogs, and Twitter accounts are the way of the world now. The smart move is to prevent a disaster happening in the first place.

Michael Skapinker is an assistant editor of the Financial Times, a columnist and the editor of the FT’s special reports

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When Zombies Win

Posted by , 20th December 2010

MoneyPaul Krugman
12/20/2010

Even though free-market fundamentalists have been wrong about nearly everything, Krugman says they dominate political thought now more than ever. He points out that everything the right said about Obama’s economic policies was wrong, including warnings that interest rates would rise along with a hyper-inflation. They were also wrong about politics abroad, including idealizing Ireland as a shining example of sound economic policies. Krugman says it is one thing to stay true to your ideals and goals, but it is entirely another to open the door to what he calls zombie ideas because they could kill the economy.

Krugman is a New York Times columnist.

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Cool the Planet With Natural Gas

Posted by , 17th December 2010

J. Wayne Leonard
12/17/2010

If we are to overcome the challenge of climate change, we will have to expand the use of renewable energy. But that doesn’t mean rejecting the most effective alternatives available today. Natural gas stands out among these alternatives. Existing gas-powered generators can reduce CO2 emissions in the electricity sector by 10%. A clean energy standard that includes natural gas focuses on what’s realistically available in the here-and-now. It can reduce carbon emissions right away while buying us time to develop and hone other electricity-generating sources that don’t rely on fossil fuels. Most importantly, it would not require us to shut down the plants that rely on our most abundant fossil fuel: coal.

Leonard is chairman and CEO of Entergy Corp., which produces and distributes electric power.

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When it comes to politics, Obama’s ego keeps getting in the way

Posted by , 17th December 2010

Michael Gerson
12/17/2010

Rather than celebrate a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation over the new tax deal, President Obama has gone on the offensive, skewering both Democrats and Republicans over the difficulty of getting the deal done. His actual governance has generally proven more effective than his politicking, but the president’s wont for saying the wrong thing is quickly exhausting his limited political capital.

Gerson is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in the Washington Post.

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Progress in Afghanistan, with caveats

Posted by , 17th December 2010

AfghanistanDavid Ignatius
12/17/2010

While substantial progress has been made in Afghanistan, the Afghan people themselves remain cautious and noncommittal to the American presence and Afghan government. They are not yet willing to trust that the Taliban will not win out and re-establish their authority. Afghan corruption and incompetence would appear to validate that concern, but measured improvement continues apace.

Ignatius is a twice-weekly columnist for The Post, writing on global politics, economics and international affairs.

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Heroic, Female and Muslim

Posted by , 16th December 2010

Celebration_of_the_humanitarian_work_of_Hawa_Abdi_image002Nicholas D. Kristof
12/16/2010

Kristof looks at the heroic life of Dr. Hawa Abdi of Somalia, who has confronted armed militias there and forced them to back down. Today she runs a camp and hospital that serves 90,000 displaced people. She provides them with food and water and trains the people whose roots are in herding to farm and fish. She also runs a school, literacy and health classes for women, and a small jail for men who beat their wives. Kristof says she is an example of the tolerant and peace-loving side of Islam and what people can do when they tap into courage, compassion, and tolerance.

Kristof is a New York Times columnist.

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