Thursday, September 15, 2016

Guess Who's Coming to Magiti

Il est dans le choux

France has lobbied the Pacific Islands Forum to admit New Caledonia and French Polynesia for years. The regrettable events in Fiji have finally provided an opening. Don Wiseman interviews Paul Buchanan:

The immediate game is the power struggle between Frank Bainimarama and the Pacific Islands Forum. There have traditionally been divisions between Melanesians and Polynesians within the PIF and within the South Pacific council as well. And Bainimarama has been trying to capitalise on this by developing alternative groups to the PIF which he thinks are dominated by the colonial powers, Australia and New Zealand in particular. And he has lobbied for their expulsion from the PIF. 
The counter-ploy, which has been building for over a year now, is to bring the French in because the French represent New Caledonia and French Polynesia diplomatically and militarily even though both those territories have a considerable degree of autonomy in their internal affairs. What that means is that we now have three, if you would, western powers, dominant powers, now sitting at PIF as full members. 
And we have to remember that the French Pacific Army is based in New Caledonia. There are 8000 French troops based in New Caledonia and the French Pacific Navy is based in French Polynesia. This is not coincidental that the French have tried to get into what some would argue  is the premier inter-governmental organisation in the South Pacific. Because Fiji is the tip of a spear of Chinese influence projected into the South Pacific through Commodore Bainimarama the Chinese have a defacto, if indirect diplomatic representative and it is their interest as much as his own interest that come into play in these sorts of manoeuvrings. So the second game, is a game by proxy between the Chinese and Australia and New Zealand and now the French. 
RNZ Dateline Pacific

Prakash Nanda on how the Indo-Pacific increasingly appears to be bookended by an authoritarian, expansionist triumvirate:
This North Korea-China-Pakistan “triangle” has some interesting features that deserve to be highlighted. First, all the three countries are “divided countries” ... China wants to grab its so-called renegade province of Taiwan. North Korea demands the reunification of the Korean peninsula that “must” have “communist rule”. For Pakistan, the partition is an unfinished agenda without Kashmir. In fact, the state-sponsored jihadis in Pakistan go further in dreaming the Pakistani flag-flying at Delhi’s Red Fort. 
The second common feature is that while the regimes in India, Taiwan and South Korea happen to be democratic and have always extended hands of friendships to their neighbours who got the mother country divided, their offers are, more often than not, being rebuffed in some form or the other. And coincidentally, all three — North Korea, China and Pakistan — are deeply authoritarian countries... Pakistan might have been a democratic country at times, but substantially it is a country where the military rules supreme... As regards North Korea and China, it does not need any elaboration that the Communist rule there is firmly entrenched not because of the popular approval but because of the ruling communist parties’ hold over their respective militaries. 
The third common feature is that all these countries happen to possess nuclear weapons... not only possess them but have emphatically declared to use them, showing utter disdain to the concept of responsibility. This is particularly true in the case of Pakistan and North Korea, despite the fact that their economies remain extremely precarious... In case of Pakistan, the country’s economy is totally dependent on foreign help and IMF loans, without which it will collapse in no time. In the case of North Korea, lesser said the better.

Craig Moran on the Thai Junta's likely plans to further legitimize and prolong their rule, taking a cue from the recent past:
It is no wonder then that analysts are openly discussing the possibility that Prayuth Chan-ocha might stand in the forthcoming elections and emulate the so-called “Prem model,” named after General Prem Tinsulanonda, who was prime minister between 1980 and 1988. 
The Prem model is essentially an archaic system of governance based on the idea that a perceived threat needs to be countered by the government with “a semblance of democracy, to provide an open channel for inclusiveness of differences in opinion, while maintaining stability through a strong military presence and decisiveness.” When the parties are not able to form functioning blocs to rule—as the constitution now intends—the generals would be “invited” to step up to run the government and maintain order. 
However, Colonel Piyapong Klinpan, spokesman for the National Council of Peace and Order (NCPO), spared no time to deny that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is harboring such plans, or that of aiming to establish his own military-backed political party. Instead, the colonel insisted that Prayuth sought merely to resolve Thailand’s problems, but kept quiet as to whether the prime minister will be seeking any unelected official role in the next government.

Finally, Miguel Carrasco and Trish Clancy provide a midterm evaluation of New Zealand's social investment scheme:

New Zealand’s policymakers use an actuarial model (like insurance companies) to identify individuals who are highly likely to end up on long-term welfare – including groups such as teenage parents and young unemployed people. The model itself – developed in 2012 but updated every six months – is used to devise programmes, many focused on prevention, to help support these individuals. Robust performance data is then used to stop things if they are not working, or extend them if they are... 
The early signs are positive: Compared to pre-reform 2012 baseline forecasts, there has been a cumulative reduction in benefit payments of $1.3 billion over three years. About 70% of these savings can be contributed to welfare reform. Other headline figures include a reduction, since 2012, of jobseeker numbers by 14%, with individuals expected to spend about 900,000 fewer years on benefits over their working lifetimes. More than three quarters of this reduction in future years on benefits can be attributed to policy and operational changes. 
The task of reducing long-term welfare dependency is never going to be easy. It is an issue that has taxed policymakers across borders and through the generations. New Zealand’s approach, though, shows that progress can be made.
The Mandarin

No comments: