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Thread: Oh, cool, now Europe has its own CFR...

  1. #1
    Disciple of Doom SeedOfChaos's Avatar
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    Oh, cool, now Europe has its own CFR...

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/...510882,00.html
    (this is a "very solid" German political magazine, by the way)

    some "choice" quotes...

    The new think tank the European Council on Foreign Relations hopes to steer the European Union back onto the center of the world stage. Its 50 founding members include leading European intellectuals such as Timothy Garton Ash, Joschka Fischer, Brian Eno and Rem Koolhaas.
    "The EU continues to underperform on the world stage," wrote former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari in an Oct. 1 editorial in the Financial Times. "(But) a strong European voice in favor of human rights, democracy and international law will not just benefit Europeans; it will be good for the world."
    Modeled along the lines of the American Council on Foreign Relations, the ECFR, which will be officially launched in Berlin on Nov. 9, is formally independent of the EU government. Nonetheless, it hopes to exert influence in the hallways of Brussels.
    The initiative gained momentum earlier in the year, when American philanthropist George Soros, dissatisfied with the course of American foreign policy, made a commitment to a generous donation for the founding of a European think tank.
    Does the world really need that? I'm not quite sure...
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  2. #2
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    Brian Eno?

    Also, the most important part:

    is formally independent of the EU government. Nonetheless, it hopes to exert influence in the hallways of Brussels.
    How about be THE influence?

  3. #3
    Then, after excess bureaucratic red tape has been cleared away, the Council will work to restore confidence in the communal European project.
    Good luck with that.

  4. #4
    Disciple of Doom SeedOfChaos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burke View Post
    How about be THE influence?
    Why should some groups always be allowed to circumvent the will of the people? I hate lobbying groups with a passion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Izzo View Post
    Good luck with that.
    Really... not going to happen. And who did they recently appoint to head this task? Edmund Stoiber. Damn it, it took us waaaay too long to remove him from Germany's politics, and what does the EU do? Sign him. God, why HIM? It's not like he's known for removing bureaucracy, more like creating it. Well, I guess that could make him an expert on the issue...

    On the other hand, his linguistic skills rival those of GWB - he's also been taped too often while mumbling incoherently into a microphone. That'll surely help clearing things up...
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeedOfChaos View Post
    Why should some groups always be allowed to circumvent the will of the people? I hate lobbying groups with a passion.
    I'm saying that that is what the ECFR will be, THE decision maker.

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    Disciple of Doom SeedOfChaos's Avatar
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    I know they will, but I'm just asking... why should we allow them to?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeedOfChaos View Post
    I know they will, but I'm just asking... why should we allow them to?
    We shouldn't, but we do. As long as "official", "think-tank" or similar words are used, people assume these groups are competent and loaded with experts and don't think twice about whatever policies they recommend or lobby to get implemtned.

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    ♫♪ ♫♪ ♫♪ ♫♪ downhill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burke View Post
    We shouldn't, but we do. As long as "official", "think-tank" or similar words are used, people assume these groups are competent and loaded with experts and don't think twice about whatever policies they recommend or lobby to get implemtned.
    Or the most important question, who or what funds them.

  9. #9
    Disciple of Doom SeedOfChaos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by downhill View Post
    Or the most important question, who or what funds them.
    In this case it was mentioned in the article, mostly Mr. Soros.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeedOfChaos View Post
    In this case it was mentioned in the article, mostly Mr. Soros.
    Ah well then, that's not so bad!

  11. #11
    Disciple of Doom SeedOfChaos's Avatar
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    I'm not so sure... I'm quite weary of bankers and investors, especially the rich ones.

    See, on the stock market, no value is actually created, it's just shifted around. For every cent won someone else lost one. Usually the general direction of the value flow is quite one-sided... and it doesn't quite favor those who actually create the values being traded. This is also due to the fact that on the stock market you can influence the market more the more value you have. Those who have assets at their hands above a certain threshold can and do create self-fulfilling prophecies. If they want a stock to fall, they sell enough, only to buy back more shares when the prices are down - ending up possessing a larger share of a company, whose's real value hasn't changed in the day or two, and thus more real value. There are plenty examples of such actions happening frequently, and sometimes the same thing is done with currencies and other tradables.

    Please note that I strongly disagree with the notion that the stock market actually represents the real value of a company. To me, the stock market respresents the perceived value of a company, not the real value it's said to be (the net present value of all future earnings/amount of stocks=share price). By trading perceived instead of actual value, it opens the door to malicious selfish manipulation.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeedOfChaos View Post
    I know they will, but I'm just asking... why should we allow them to?
    There's a valid argument in support of having a solid, bi-partisan group of strong thinkers be the backbone of various policy initiatives. Consider that in our democracies the political balance of power swings back and forth between more conservative and more liberal viewpoints. Such committees can act as as centering force to try and keep policies on relative even keels which is good over the long run. This stability is enforced by the (relative) meritocracy which is a CFR.

    Legislative and policy issues nowadays are invariably complex, which means that politicians rely more and more on lobbyists who are subject matter experts. Unfortunately, it's like hiring a Cisco sales rep to tell you about data-telecomms and what kind of systems you should buy for gov't use. You do get expert advice, but one which is invariably also slanted towards their clients interests. This is why legislative staff is also important, so that they can modify that subject advice with the caveats required to make a balanced decision. The cisco equipment may do the job required, but there may be valid reasons to select another approach, or another vendor. In the international affairs arena, CFR can act as a sort of independent lobbyist with "staff" members from both republican and democratic (or if you like, conservative and liberal) viewpoints. The number of influential people who have been or are members of the CFR is staggering. Paying attention to "Foreign Affairs" magazine (The CFR publication) is a very good way to see which way our foreign policy is likely headed, and why.

    While it is a bit of an "old boys" club, it's more important function is to provide continuity of foreign policy so that changes are gradual, not radical and to serve as a private "sounding board" where differing viewpoints may be debated openly and honestly without fear of it being leaked to the tabloidish political press. Hannity, Colmbs, Rush etc need not apply. This is where the grown ups are talking. That kind of exchange really can lead to better policy as both sides take away something as well as a "working relationship" with the other side of the table. This in turn provides for inter-governmental stability and decreases the likelyhood of major governmental conflicts and theoretically, warfare.

    Like any institution it has both good and bad points and plenty of critics from all sides. Personally, I tend to see the utilitarian value in maintaining an independent body to offer informed advice to governmental policy over the long term. In fact, I kind of wish there were an economic/taxation council to help the US come up with a more realistic and balanced system rather than the spasmodic lurching between poles that we do every time we change from republican to democrat and vice versa.

    Regards,
    -Bouncer-

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