Monthly Archives: May 2011

In this week’s podcast: the essential relationship between the US and the UK; Spain on the edge of a sovereign debt crisis; stalemate in Libya – what next for the Arab spring; and, we look to the future for Japan’s energy policy post Fukushima 

Gideon Rachman

Technically, I’m on holiday until next Wednesday. So I may not blog for a while.

Gideon Rachman

I am currently staying in a smart hotel in Switzerland. Earlier this morning, I was in the shower when I heard the door-bell ring. So I swathed myself in a couple of towels and opened the door. It was the chambermaid. We both leapt backwards, covered in confusion. I am sure it would all have been a lot less embarrassing had the thought of Dominique Strauss-Kahn not been hovering over the room.

I wonder whether the former IMF director has now permanently changed hotel etiquette? In future, will I have to put on a suit and tie before answering a knock on the door in my hotel room?

Gideon Rachman

The theme that everybody seems to have picked up on from President Obama’s speech in Westminster yesterday was his insistence on the continuing power and relevance of the West. But the crucial sentence was interestingly ambiguous. 

The other day, I bumped into a friend from my days at The Economist. Why are your columns so depressing, he asked me? I began to deny the charge until it was pointed out that I had recently published a book with the doom-laden title Zero-Sum Future.

Gideon Rachman

There has been quite a lot of cynical yapping about President Obama’s visit to Ireland today. Some have even gone as far as to suggest that there may be an element of electoral calculation in a trip to Europe that takes in both Ireland and Poland.

Whatever the real truth, there is no doubt that Irish-Americans have shot to prominence in recent months in the White House. Following the reshuffle of top positions, many of the key positions are now occupied by people with ancestral links to the Emerald Isle. 

Gideon Rachman

The story in the FT this morning that China has been asked by Pakistan to build a naval base at its south-western port of Gwadar has raised a few eyebrows in foreign ministries in Asia, the US and Europe. If the Chinese were to accept the invitation and to go ahead, it would be a huge departure for Chinese foreign policy – their first overseas naval base. As one western official notes drily – “That’s not what you would call hiding your capabilities and biding your time.” (A reference to Deng Xiaoping’s famous advice to Chinese policymakers). 

In this week’s show, we look at the candidates to be head of the IMF; After president Obama’s speech calling for Israel to move out of territory it has occupied since 1967, where now for US-Israel relations? And our correspondent in Bangkok discusses the forthcoming elections in Thailand.  

Gideon Rachman

President Obama’s “big speech” on the Middle East yesterday kicks off a week in which Washington will spend a lot of time focussed on Israel. AIPAC, the main pro-Israel loobying group is having its annual conference this weekend. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister is in town for that, and for a speech to Congress. Netanyahu and Obama, who get on very badly, have already had a minor spat over Obama’s call yesterday for Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders. And although he couldn’t say so publicly, I suspect the Israeli leader will also be exasperated by what the Israelis regard as a typically naive American embrace of the “Arab spring” in Obama’s speech. 

Gideon Rachman

All the commentary on the downfall of DSK stresses how important it is that the IMF gets strong leadership, given the rolling crisis in Europe. But the Fund could soon face an even more tricky economic and political dilemma in Egypt.