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Politicians and Globalization

In what way should politicians tackle the global economy in order to secure its benefits?

January 1, 2002

In what way should politicians tackle the global economy in order to secure its benefits?

Heads of state, prime ministers, chancellors and presidents are all faced by the political and economic effects of the global economy. In many ways, they are under pressure to explain to the people what globalization is all about — and how citizens of their country will be able to compete with others in a globalized world. Our new Read My Lips examines how politicians from all over the world attempt to address this challenge.

President Havel, what do you tell your voters when they ask about the global economy?

“Globalization by itself is morally neutral. It can be good or bad, depending on the kind of content we give to it.”

(Czech President Vaclav Havel, August 2000)

“We must take care that globalization does not become something people become afraid of.”

(German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, on globalization motivating nationalistic and protectionist groups, November 1999)

Is there a predominant perception of the global economy in Egypt, President Mubarak?

“In the emerging world, there is a bitter sentiment of injustice. There is a sense that there must be something wrong with a system that wipes out years of hard-won development because of changes in market sentiment.”

(Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, February 1999)

Who is best prepared for the global changes, Mr. Pettigrew?

“Women are best prepared to make a contribution to the reshaping and reinventing of our lives. While women have adapted to the new global world, men tend to be still very much oriented on changing the world — and fighting yesterday’s battles.”

(Canada’s Trade Minister Pierre S. Pettigrew, May 2000)

Prime Minister Mahathir, what in your view is wrong with ‘globalization’?

“We believe that globalization should be reinterpreted. Why is globalization confined only to the flows of money? Why do companies have the right to operate worldwide without restriction?”

(Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, March 2000)

What else needs to flow in a truly global economy?

“Although the West advocates free speech, they don’t like others to freely criticize them. It is also the same with globalization. While they insist on free flows of capital across borders, they object to free flows of people — especially poor colored people into their countries.”

(Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysian Prime Minister, March 1999)

But doesn’t the global economy bring positive economic changes for everyone?

“Globalization has proven selective, favoring a few while marginalizing the weakest.”

(Jamaica’s Prime Minister J. P. Patterson, June 2000)

How did that happen?

“A new map of the world is being drawn up and an entire continent — Africa — is purely and simply being rubbed out.”

(Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in February 2000, on the manner in which international trade and capital flows are bypassing Africa)

How could globalization work for Brazil?

“Solidarity is a crucial element for sustainable development — and for an intrinsically integrating globalization.”

(Brazil’s President Henrique Cardoso, April 2002)

Do you fear that ‘globalization’ might infringe on France’s national identity?

“Globalization doesn’t have to mean uniformization.”

(French Minister of Education, Jack Lang, November 2000)

What is happening to the concept of the state, Mr. Jospin?

“In wanting ‘less state’, we allowed the development of a jungle. Capitalism remains unstable, economics is political — and globalization calls for regulation.”

(French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, August 1998)

President Castro, how did the global economy develop?

“Speculative operations are genuinely absurd. This phenomenon has developed uncontrollably over the last 30 years and is growing to ever more absurd heights every day. Can this frantic gambling be called economy?”

(Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, September 2000)

What is a politician’s view of the anti-globalization protesters?

“Those who protest free trade are no friends of the poor. Those who protest free trade seek to deny them their best hope for escaping poverty.”

(U.S. President George W. Bush)

How much expertise can one really expect from politicians?

“People all over the world have benefited enormously from globalization, and open markets and market-based systems have proliferated across the globe. Yet, their basic precepts are being challenged by leaders in key nations — including our own.”

(Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, responding to trade tensions between the United States and Europe)