Tuesday 24 February 2015

Between beasts and men that run a country

Hard truths
The Week magazine has replaced The Economist as essential weekly reading to catch up on news for me. Whilst it is not as broad as The Economist in its global coverage, news of regions as Africa, South America and parts of Asia not considered in the Western frame of things does sometimes get a mention.
For instance, in the section about the world at a glance, they had a pointer to Ngouboua in Chad where Boko Haram had carried out a raid. However, the very striking piece of information in the snippet was this; “Chad – which has the region’s most competent army – had recently announced that its troops would be joining a multinational force against the militants.” [Quoted from The Week}
Helping Nigeria
The piece ended with; “So far, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Burundi and Central African Republic have all agreed to help Nigeria fight the extremists.” [Quoted from The Week}
This is a stark narrative on Nigeria, because it shows how we allowed the Boko Haram menace to fester, how we allowed it to grow that it began to threaten and attack neighbouring countries, how despite some victories, Boko Haram has shown gaps in effectiveness, efficiency, competence and ability of the Nigerian military forces and that Nigeria does quite need help in tackling Boko Haram. [Nigeria as covered in the Time magazine.]
Who runs the place?
Another interesting piece I will like to share which I cannot get online is a little box beside the publisher’s details usually written by the founder and editorial director, Jolyon Connell or the Editor-in-chief, Jeremy O’Grady.
The founder writing about a piece in the Sunday Times that had the line, “The best way to understand any political system is to examine what its rulers did in their formative years.” This column written by Adrian Wooldridge in December had the title, “Engineers rule China. Lawyers lead the US. We get bluffers and blaggers.” Alas, this sits behind a paywall and I have not been convinced that the Sunday Times is worth shelling out for.
However, this is what he had to say, “Israel is run by former soldiers (hence the constant warmongering belligerence – my view), the US by lawyers (hence the endless lawsuits), China is run by engineers (hence the indifference to human rights), while Britain’s elite is dominated by people who studied PPE (philosophy, politics and economics) at Oxford.”
Focus lost in the cloud
He goes on to say, regarding this contextual ‘Jack of all trades’ preparation for leadership that allows politicians to have opinions on everything and move effortlessly from one Cabinet post to another; that PPE is “a bluffer’s charter: a dog’s dinner, a mishmash.” For there is no specialism in this generality of study and hence no depth leading to a tendency to “dash off policies at high speed without any serious thought.”
Now, is it any wonder that Great Britain is a mess with the way our economy, health, education, transport, police and business have been overwhelmed with policy initiatives that waste time, cost money, show lots of frenetic activity and offer no particular benefit?
But then
Yet, there is much to be said of those schooled than those without the structure of rigour who have exploited populism and rhetoric to the full like Nigel Farage, who only had a secondary school education, albeit, a public school one or Alex Salmond, who being an economist and academic still has the chops of a reactionary unionist.
Then, one wonders if Nigeria and Russia is run by crooks, spooks or oligarchs, I cannot seem to find another profession doing much in their politics if it does not involve aggrandisement, ostentation, braggadocio and reprehensible conduct projected as power.
Note: Large parts of this blog were quoted verbatim from pieces originally written in The Week Issue 1010 and the Sunday Times.

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