The existential crisis of the EU has never been this obvious, with EU “swastikas” all over our tv screens. Opinions on where to go from here range from Amartya Sen’s (yesterday in the Guardian) to Gideon Rachman’s (earlier this week in the Financial Times). For the European leaders who gathered yesterday, the debt crisis must feel like a big headache that just won’t go away. As for our readers in Latin-America and Africa, more than a few of them must have a strong déjà-vu feeling, if not Schadenfreude, when they see how rating agencies and policies of IMF and other technocratic or financial institutions now send shivers throughout the EU. In this context, it’s a bit odd that Tony Blair still feels the need to go on and on about governance in Africa. Right now not just African governments need strengthening, it seems. (Charles Kenny reckons though, correctly, that even poor governance is no excuse for withholding aid, and proves this with a characteristically upbeat piece in Foreign Policy on the DRC).
At the Pacific Health Summit in Seattle, labeled by some the ‘Davos of Global Health’, vaccines were the focus this year. Tom Paulson has a few thought-provoking posts on this event, on his blog Humanosphere. Go check them out, especially the ones on media-bashing and the controversy around a HPV vaccine trial in India. More on vaccines further in this newsletter.
Elsewhere in the world, Michelle Obama went to Africa, urging young Africans to fight for women’s rights and battle the stigma of AIDS, using her husband’s somewhat rusty ‘yes, we can’ campaign slogan to motivate youth across the continent. Meanwhile, her husband announced a partial withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. Earlier this week, NYT columnist Brookshad some interesting things to say about smart power and aid in Afghanistan.
Finally, Ban Ki Moon got a second term at the helm of the UN. The next five years could turn out to be a rollercoaster.
No doubt he’s aware of that.