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jerryking : punch-above-its-weight   7

The belle époque of the small nation is over
September 28, 2018 | Financial Times | by JANAN GANESH.

Globalisation has been the era of small countries but that time may now be passing. Ganesh raises an interesting point, what happens to small countries that, since the end of WW2, have enjoyed the protection of the rules-based system (UN, WTO, NATO, Pax Americana).

Singapore leaders were determined in their quest to that small nation be less small.....The paradox is that smallness has been an edge, not a curse, in the liberal age. For all the grandiloquence about a Washington Consensus and a Pax Americana, the US was never the principal profiteer from globalisation.....The real beneficiaries were the rapid enrichment of Ireland, the ethnic diversification of Sweden, the technological fecundity of Israel and the rise of Dubai from the sands as a shimmering entrepôt......1990-2010 was the golden age--the belle époque--of the small nation....Rules-based globalism was a precious equaliser for these places.... it also made advantages of their liabilities....Their shortage of domestic consumers was the ultimate incentive to cast around for other markets. Their lack of capital made them welcome foreign investors. Even the nicheness of their native languages (in some cases) obliged them to master English.

There is, without leaning too much on “national character”, a small-country hardiness ....an acceptance of the outside world as a non-negotiable fact: a blend of fatalism and resourcefulness that makes for formidable migrants....If small countries have mastered the global age, it is a feat that goes beyond the economic. They also have a cultural reach that was hard to picture not long ago, when nations needed the brawn of a BBC or a Canal Plus to foist their creative wares on distant audiences....all attest to what we are now obliged to call the “soft power” of small countries....The mistake is to see this moment as eternal. For those who live in or care about these places, the dread is that the coming decades will be as harsh as the last few have been kind. Almost all the conditions that allowed small nations to bloom look precarious....growing protectionism...big states throwing their weight around....Peter Thiel, in his bid for NZ citizenship, said he found “no other country that aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand”. It was telling that such a prolific maker of sound bets backed a small, open, adaptable nation.
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I am more optimistic and believe many small states will adjust just fine. Why? Think of Taleb's flexibility idea - small states are less fragile than bigger ones, more nimble, more homogenous, faster to change I like also to add that there are more smaller successful counties than the ones mentioned (e.g., Switzerland, Costa Rica).
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The flip side is that small countries may have greater ability to act thoughtfully and coherently than larger peers. But I agree - it is likely to be tough ahead.

Here in Singapore, a senior politician summed it up very well: we are just a block of granite in the south china sea, and have no God-given right to exist as a country. The only way we can survive is by being paranoid and continuously reinventing ourselves.
city-states  globalization  Iceland  Janan_Ganesh  nimbleness  Peter_Thiel  post_globalization  rules-based  Singapore  small_states  soft_power  antifragility  Dubai  Ireland  punch-above-its-weight  paranoia  reinvention 
october 2018 by jerryking
Britain resigns as a world power
May 21, 2015 |The Washington Post | Fareed Zakaria
"I was struck by just how parochial it has become. After an extraordinary 300-year run, Britain has essentially resigned as a global power.

Over the next few years, Britain’s army will shrink to about 80,000."... Why does this matter? Because on almost all global issues, Britain has a voice that is intelligent, engaged and forward-looking. It wants to strengthen and uphold today’s international system — one based on the free flow of ideas, goods and services around the world, one that promotes individual rights and the rule of law.

This is not an accident. Britain essentially created the world we live in. In his excellent book “God and Gold,” Walter Russell Mead points out that in the 16th century many countries were poised to advance economically and politically — Northern Italy’s city-states, the Hanseatic League, the Low Countries, France, Spain. But Britain managed to edge out the others, becoming the first great industrial economy and the modern world’s first superpower. It colonized and shaped countries and cultures from Australia to India to Africa to the Western Hemisphere, including of course, its settlements in North America. Had Spain or Germany become the world’s leading power, things would look very different today.
BBC  books  cosmopolitan  cost-cutting  cutbacks  David_Cameron  drawdowns  EU  Fareed_Zakaria  foreign_policy  forward_looking  geopolitics  globalization  industrial_economy  international_relations  international_system  internationalism  leadership  London  middle-powers  parochialism  punch-above-its-weight  retreats  rule_of_law  superpowers  United_Kingdom  Walter_Russell_Mead 
may 2015 by jerryking
If BlackBerry is sold, Canada faces an innovation vacuum - The Globe and Mail
Aug. 17 2013 | The Globe and Mail | KONRAD YAKABUSKI.

The sale and breakup of a flagship technology company is a reoccurring theme in Canadian business. But this time is different. If BlackBerry Ltd. goes, there is no ready replacement. That’s a telling switch from the situation Canada faced with the sale of Newbridge Networks in 2000 and the demise of Nortel Networks in 2009....Canada has an innovation bottleneck. An abundance of science is generated in university labs and start-up firms but most of it never finds its way into commercial applications. Risk-averse banks and too many businesses of the bird-in-the-hand variety remain the weak links in Canada’s innovation system.

“We punch above our weight in idea generation,” observes Michael Bloom, who leads the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Business Innovation. “But the further you move towards commercialization, the weaker we get as a country.”....Innovation can be driven by any sector, even the old-economy resource extraction business of the oil sands. But tech firms remain by far the most R&D-intensive players in any economy.

Hence, the tech sector is a key barometer of a country’s innovation strength. And innovation matters because it has a profound influence on our living standards – it is “the key long-run driver of productivity and income growth,” ...Canadian businesses remain oddly complacent.

“We tend in this county not to look at the true market opportunity of innovation,” Mr. Bloom adds. “If you only see a market of 35 million people, you’re going to see more risk than if you see the market as Europe, the U.S. and Asia. Americans see risk, but also great opportunity.”

It’s no coincidence that many of Canada’s greatest entrepreneurs and innovators have been immigrants. Unlike his American counterpart, the average Canadian business graduate does not dream of becoming the next Sergey Brin, Steve Jobs or, for that matter, Peter Munk.

Mr. Lazaridis and ex-BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie notwithstanding, how many Canadian entrepreneurs and innovators have truly changed the world, or aspire? By all accounts, not that many. A Conference Board study released last month found that only 10 per cent of Canadian firms (almost all of them small ones) pursue “radical or revolutionary” innovations. Large firms focus at best on “incremental” innovations.
Blackberry  bottlenecks  commercialization  competitiveness_of_nations  complacency  hollowing_out  Konrad_Yakabuski  Newbridge  Nortel  innovation  idea_generation  ecosystems  breakthroughs  incrementalism  large_companies  sellout_culture  Jim_Balsillie  moonshots  immigrants  Canada  Peter_Munk  market_opportunities  weak_links  thinking_big  oil_sands  resource_extraction  marginal_improvements  innovation_vacuum  punch-above-its-weight  This_Time_is_Different 
august 2013 by jerryking
All he is saying is give war a chance: Democracy and world peace are really not such great ideas. Just ask author Robert Kaplan
11 Mar 2000| National Post pg B5 |Alexander Rose.

Whatever else journalist Robert D. Kaplan picked up during his sojourn in the Great Back of Beyond, it wasn't universal love, touch-feely harmony and a We-Are-The-World attitude. In this newspaper last weekend, reviewing The Coming Anarchy -- a collection of his recent assays he was in Canada to promote this week — Misha Glenny aptly remarked: "If you want to feel uplifted about the human condition, you should steer clear of Kaplan's work as a general rule." An example; The way to make this world a better place Kaplan casually proposes in his new collection of essays (named after his famous 1994 article in The Atlantic Monthly predicting cultural clashes, tribal and widespread environmental meltdown), is for Congress to reauthorize assassination as a political instrument to grasp that democracy is not suitable for everyone; and that world peace would actually make war likelier.

"I've spent a great deal of my life covering wars," he says. Moreover, "unlike a lot of journalists, I read -- I read a lot, a lot of history, a lot of philosophy.

Look at Livy (the ancient Roman historian)...'Drew him to classical philosophy. ''If you read the ancient Chinese, or Cicero, Machiavelli or Herodotus, these a strain running through them - which is that if you always think about might go wrong, things might start going right and you can avoid tragedy.'' Thus, ''tragedy is avoidable if you always maintain a sense of it.''

The problem, however, is that "the times we live in are so prosperous for us that it's hard to think tragically." And, most alarmingly, "Revolutions and upheavals happen when things are getting better, not worse."

...When Mr. Kaplan speaks of "realists" he is describing the Hobbesian view that man has a rapacious, brutal, selfish nature. On the world stage, this translates as furiously competing sovereign states battling over their respective interests, many of which are intractable. Realists therefore believe eternal and armed vigilance, not highfalutin UN declarations, are the key to ensuring "human security". ...Kaplan believes that there are three strands of "realism" battle for supremacy...."You don't have to believe in global warming, but we're entering a world in which there will be six billion of us and you have to realize that there are now enough of us living in urbanized conditions that we're occupying zones which are climatically and tectonically fragile. "Now, we've got 70% of the Chinese population producing two-thirds of the industrial output living in flood zones. Forget about Mozambique -- that's a sideshow."...So what advice would he give our Department of Foreign Affairs so that Canada could punch above its weight in the world?

Says Kaplan, without skipping a beat: "It's hard for a country of 30 million to have a pivotal impact. So the way to do it is to get behind an idea everyone knows is smart but nobody has the time or the inclination to push."

Is Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy's position on human rights and human security one such "smart idea"? Mr. Kaplan gives it short shrift (actually, no shrift at all). "It's far too flaccid and formless to be taken seriously because all he's really stating is a kind of easy truth. Tough truths, on the other hand, are things like when and where you intervene and under what circumstances.

"So, I would say Canada needs to go on fast forward to a Global Constabulary Force. NATO, with all its problems, worked well in Kosovo and Bosnia. So, we [i.e., Canada] will create an out-of-area military branch of NATO with some non-European members -- such as Japan, Australia, India, Brazil -- to form the core of the GCF." Then "we'll have a wider range of options during the next Rwanda, or next time something happens in a place with no strategic interest to anyone but where there's an overwhelming sense that we should 'do something.' But just talking about human security ... The minute you have something that everyone agrees with you know it's useless."

A lesson from the master himself.
floodplains  Greek  hard_choices  hard_power  hard_questions  hard_truths  history  human_rights  human_security  journalists  middle-powers  Niccolò_Machiavelli  political_theory  punch-above-its-weight  rapaciousness  realism  realpolitik  Robert_Kaplan  Romans  thinking_tragically  the_human_condition  world_stage  worst-case 
july 2012 by jerryking
Canada is 'back' on the world stage? Hardly
Jun. 13, 2012 |The Globe and Mail |Jeffrey Simpson.

"It is all so penny-wise and pound foolish, especially for a country that once prided itself on punching above its weight and, more important, understood that this is a relatively small country with huge international interests. Now, Canada has retreated into an anglospheric worldview coupled with a focus on trade deals, but lacking any sense of a wider conception of international affairs.

Hectoring and lecturing undoubtedly appeals to the Conservative Party's core voters. It does not impress other governments, including friendly ones."
Jeffrey_Simpson  Canada  foreign_policy  worldviews  punch-above-its-weight  middle-powers  world_stage 
june 2012 by jerryking

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