Daniel W. Drezner

Day two at the Brussels Forum

Day two of the Brussels Forum had more off-the-record events, but here are the juicy tidbits:  Note to the Obama administration:  Indians across the political spectrum are thoroughly underwhelmed with your approach to South Asia to date.  Also, they’d like you to cut out the complaints about offshore outsourcing.  If not, Boeing is going to ...

Day two of the Brussels Forum had more off-the-record events, but here are the juicy tidbits: 

  1. Note to the Obama administration:  Indians across the political spectrum are thoroughly underwhelmed with your approach to South Asia to date.  Also, they’d like you to cut out the complaints about offshore outsourcing.  If not, Boeing is going to feel a world of hurt. 
  2. Iain Johnston has characterized China as a temporary status quo power.  Speaking to the Chinese attendees, there’s a lot of "after the crisis" talk – i.e., after the crisis, China is not going to be a status quo power.  The big question, of course, is whether what China does during the crisis constrains its options afterwards.
  3. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke, and let’s just say that the Russians do not do soft power terribly well in Europe.  Lavrov insisted that Russia needed new security structures based on hard law and not "political commitments."  Strangely enough, he failed to reconcile this preference with his explanation for what happened in Georgia in 2008.   He was pretty contemptuous of his co-panelist Javier Solana, as well as any questioner who challenged him (this included Anne Applebaum and John Kornblum).  As a result, a subsequent panel on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall mutate into a let’s-bash-Russia bitch session. 
  4. It’s kind of difficult to listen to either the Japanese or Russian participants without thinking "demography is destiny, demography is destiny…." 
  5. Gallows humor from a Financial Times employee:  he described his niche as, "being in one industry that’s f***ed writing about another industry that’s f***ed." 
  6. World Bank President Bob Zoellick articulated the whispered fears of a great many attendees – if the current set of stimulus packages fails to return the global economy to positive growth by the summer, there is a genuine fear of the next policy steps will be.  There’s been a lot of protectionism in the past six months, but much of it has been of the ticky-tack variety.  Without positive job growth, the fear is that the protectionism will become much more real.  The Brazilian Minister for External Relations observed that, "protectionism is a contagious disease." One could envision a 21st century version of beggar-thy-neighbor policies in the form of competitive "quantitative easings."   

That’s all.   

 

 

 Twitter: @dandrezner

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