AS THE WORLD TURNS by News WeeklyNews Weekly
, April 8, 2000
AS THE WORLD TURNSMahathir vindicated
"Ever since the 1997 Asian crisis sent currencies in South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines into free fall, Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed has been arguing loudly againt IMF orthodoxy.
"While, one by one, his Asian counterparts trotted meekly to the Fund, to be subjected to its traumatic, one-size-fits-all régime of tight fiscal and monetary policies, and freer trade and capital flows in return for their multi-billion-dollar bail-outs, Mahathir alone remained defiant ...
"His response was to impose policies that were anathema to the Fund's way of thinking. Strict capital controls were introduced and the currency pegged to the dollar.
"Economists, the very species which so conspicuously failed to warn of impending doom on the currency markets, predicted catastrophe for Malaysia. Mahathir was having none of it.
"Less than three years later, the shoe is on the other foot. Malaysia finds itself basking in the tropical sunlight of strong economic growth while the prodigious IMF has been hauled into the dock, charged with a whole litany of crimes, from insufficient capital resources to lack of independence, overt politicisation and deeply flawed, if not downright mistaken, economic prescriptions ...
"Neil Saker, head of economic research at SG Securities in Singapore, forecasts Malaysian GDP will grow by 6.8 per cent this year and 5.2 per cent in 2001. 'I'm quite optimistic, It's almost a boom,' he says. 'The undervalued exchange rate is pumping things up. There's a big exports boom and liquidity surge. They've paid off a lot of corporate debt, tightened up on corporate governance and restructured the banks'."Julian Marozzi,
The Spectator, March 18, 2000Cuban spirit
"Today, Castro's dominion over Cuban politics seems to represent not so much the heroic dawn of the Age of the Guerilla, free of demeaning foreign influence, as the Autumn of the Patriarch. Bereft of the protection of the Soviet Union, Castro clings to power, his dream of leading a continental revolution, like a latter-day Simon Bolívar - a dead letter. The tyranny of cash crop monoculture remains unbroken; the Cuban economy is again dependent on sugar, tobacco and tourism (particularly sex tourism) ...
"Castro, with the indispensable subvention of the Soviet Union, set about creating a police state to enforce his ethic of self-denial and unremitting labour. But nothing worked, neither incessant moral hectoring nor harsh laws.
"His people ... remained firmly attached to the pleasure principle, with an undiminished affection for American movies, jazz, music and sport.
"It didn't seem to matter whether they were workers or peasants, lived in the city or toiled in the countryside.
"The Russian Lada never had a chance against the American Ford. After years of wearing Arrow shirts, riding in Otis elevators and repairing their clothes with Singer sewing machines, Cubans found it all but impossible to accept the inferior goods produced in the Soviet bloc.
"Ideology could not triumph over aesthetics."Steve Wasserman, Times Literary Supplement, March 24, 2000Left's Vietnam war guilt
"On October 26, 1967, John McCain had to eject himself from his aircraft in the sky above North Vietnam, breaking his left arm, his right arm in three places and his right knee.
"A crowd of Vietnamese then broke his shoulder with a rifle butt and bayoneted him in the groin.
"The guards at the Hoa Lo prison - the infamous Hanoi Hilton - at first refused to give him medical treatment ... they wanted him to denounce America in return for medical assistance.
"When he was at last released from captivity five-and-a-half years later, he weighed less than seven stone and was unable to comb his own hair because his broken bones had healed so badly.
"Mr McCain's record in the war appeals to two unexpected groups of people.
"The first are the working class Democrats. These are the people whose fathers went off to fight in Vietnam while their richer countrymen stayed at home burning flags and getting degrees. And they were also the people who seethed with rage when Jane Fonda shrilled for the Viet Cong and Hollywood movies turned Vietnam vets into drug-hazed zombies.
"The second group, the normally liberal chattering classes, is rather more confused about its enthusiasm for Mr McCain ...
"He speaks to the professional classes' guilt about not serving in Vietnam as clearly as he speaks to the Reagan Democrats' anger about serving and being betrayed."- The Economist, February 26, 2000