Saturday, December 10, 2011

Is this World War 3?

Have the recent events in Europe been World War 3 being played out?

Not being fought in the trenches or the seas or the skies, but perhaps in the financial markets.
Germany tried, twice, last century to conquer Europe and failed. Now, however, they seem to be on the verge of a victory.

With the economic turmoil facing Europe, not only is Germany destined to come out as the default "top dog" on the continent, but most of the region is looking for (and needs) leadership ... and it's to the Germans they look. It is the sole voice of the UK that is looking to stand against this and as a result they have now been sidelined and virtually ostracised in Europe. While Russia is comfortable to back Germany and Sarkozy is sidling up to Merkel, accepting something of a "lap dog" position whereas once he stood as an equal, this seems to be inevitable. With or without the survival of the Euro, there is only one economic powerhouse in Europe.

As in the previous World Wars, Great Britain has and will stand firm, but I am not sure that the United States will be there to back them this time. The USA will, naturally, put its own self interest first, and they cant afford to stand against the European trading block, no matter how it is structured or who leads it.

This impending German dominance may not necessarily be a bad thing. Often, too much democracy can be a bad thing, and in my opinion, it has been in the case of the Euro. Economic union requires strong leadership and direction. The Euro is on the precipice of a downfall because its management allowed for national self interest to supersede that of the whole. Strong leadership and tough decisions are required to make it work, and perhaps (hopefully) German leadership of the situation will see to that.

Europe has shown today that it is unable to operate successfully as a democratic union and German victory in Europe this time has come, not from their own aggressive acts, but from the active incompetence of their neighbouring countries. I think it's a good thing that Germany's time may have finally, unwittingly, come as this could see the beginning of the best ever era for Europe yet.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nigeria is its people !

November brought me to Moscow, London, Lagos and Accra. It's usually a busy month as we start concluding the year gone by and prepare for the year to come.

My African trips always bring their own "excitement". I'm of course privileged to travel the world and see some of the "finer" places, but trips to this continent always bring their own charm.

To take Nigeria, it has the impression of a hostile place. Lagos, in particular, is a bustling city where crime (especially violent crime) is rife. One has to take the normal precautions for safety and a whole lot more. Drive at speed down the main express ways to stop car jackers cutting you off. Never stopping your car in the middle of the road for any reason for fear of attack or hijacking. Locking your doors and windows at home at night with bars and heavy chains and padlocks, and depending on where you live, simply avoiding going out at night. This is all a serious challenge, as one can feel they are living without some basic civil liberties. It's taken me a number of years of traveling there to get accustomed to this, and I still can't honestly say I am comfortable with it ... but behind all of this is a culture of amazing friendly and warm people. As usual, it is only the few who spoil it for the many. The vast majority of Nigerians I have come across (either personally met or have simply encountered in busy places) are amazingly friendly. Considering the challenges they face in their daily lives, by being in an economically poor and underdeveloped country, the people are joyful and apparently care free. They are unmistakably loud and warm and friendly and most notable for their wonderful "trade mark" laugh that captivates you.

This engagement and interaction with the local people brings a very different feeling of a trip to a country that is rarely considered as a desirable destination, but makes the whole experience worthwhile and memorable. The people of Nigeria make it their country anything but "poor and under developed".