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Geopolitics: The Hegemon stumbles

Major errors of concept and execution in the Iraq war have weakened the US: a sharp lesson in the limits of what seemed like limitless power. Its allies have been discredited, its enemies strengthened. Its real or wannabe rivals, China and Russia, are new global power centres. Its sway in Latin America and Africa has been compromised. The new Asian regional powers must steer a careful course in a complex world.By Charles Dumas, Diana Choyleva and Gabriel Stein.

World Economic Forum special report: Contents

Remember the hype at the euro’s launch in the late 1990s? This would be Europe’s moment, when the continent finally could face up to the US, economically and politically. Europe’s failure during the dissolution of Yugoslavia was conveniently forgotten. The hype went on. The Lisbon Process and the Stockholm Agenda, aimed at making “the EU the world’s most dynamic and competitive economy” by 2010, are now an even sicker joke than at the time. The proposed EU Constitutional Treaty, aimed at simplifying the way the EU is run, is dead, sensibly killed off by the voters in two major EU founder members.

It is not that Europe is impotent vis-à-vis the rest of the world, just uninterested – self-obsessed with the “project” of integrating and extending the Union. There are undoubted achievements in the story. Among these are the deeper internal market, the smooth introduction of the euro, the success of the ECB. But there are also problems. The imbalances within the eurozone are structural: EMU convergence can only come through divergence – countries like Spain growing much faster than core Europe. And the mood is soured by dismal productivity growth and supply-side performance.

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