On the web: London’s global financial standing, EU security and defence policy, China and the West…

– The FT has news that London’s position as the dominant global financial hub is slipping, with the UK capital now tied with New York for top spot in the latest rankings. Elsewhere Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O’Rourke examine the latest economic data comparing the present crisis with the Great Depression across a range of indicators (including global output, world trade, and equity markets). Robert Shiller, meanwhile, explains the difficulties of using past experience to predict the course of the current crisis.

European Geostrategy suggests that EU security and defence policy is like a jazz band and explains why a White Paper providing a “grand strategy” is needed. EUobserver, meanwhile, has news on the emerging shape of the European diplomatic service – its structure and staffing – as member states gear up to secure the important EEAS secretary general post.

– Elsewhere, Constanze Stelzenmüller takes an in-depth look at the travails of German security policy, offering insights into how it might evolve. Highlighting the lack of strategy, she argues that “fundamental decisions regarding German security policy have been repeatedly forced into the Procrustean bed of moral necessity, domestic imperatives, or the demands of external alliances.”

– Finally, over at openDemocracy, Andy Yee explores the “hedgehog’s dilemma” between China and the West, highlighting a gradual acceptance of different core values. TIME magazine, meanwhile, assesses the slow progress toward democracy in Hong Kong and the possible wider implications from Beijing’s perspective.

On the web: Obama’s enforcer, the EEAS and climate, the politics of natural disasters, and nuclear negotiations…

– The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber has an in-depth profile of President Obama’s under fire right-hand man, Rahm Emanuel, explaining why “laboring as chief of staff during the first year or two of a presidency can be a prolonged form of torture”. Over at The Daily Beast Richard Wolffe gets perspectives from three former presidential enforcers. Elsewhere, Robert Kagan explores the growing bipartisan consensus in US foreign policy.

– Writing in Der Spiegel, Sascha Müller-Kraenner and Martin Kremer assess how the new European External Action Service (EEAS) might help the EU exert greater influence over climate governance post-Copenhagen. The new diplomatic corps will offer “a unique opportunity to increase analytical capacity and to design the right instruments and institutions for confronting climate change”, they suggest. Reuters meanwhile reports on the failure of EU member states to meet their commitments on development aid, and the implications for climate funding.

– Over at World Politics Review, Frida Ghitis explores how natural disasters can shape the national political narrative, with last weekend’s Chilean earthquake proving only the most recent example.

“No matter where disaster strikes”, she argues, “the script opens with shock, heartbreak and compassion. Then, it inexorably moves towards a cold political calculus about the performance of political leaders responsible for managing the aftermath.”

– Finally, in the midst of ongoing nuclear negotiations and two months before the crucial NPT Review Conference, the Moscow Times assesses the Kremlin’s “stubborn” approach to talks. British Ambassador John Duncan offers his perspective on UK-Russian nuclear cooperation here.

On the web: the EU diplomatic service, reacting to terrorism, the state of liberalism, and fiscal cuts…

– Writing in E!Sharp magazine, David Charter examines some of the contentious debates surrounding the shaping of the new European External Action Service (EEAS). Jan Gaspers, meanwhile, suggests that the EEAS will mark the “real vanguard of a stronger EU in international affairs”, and given time could pose a significant challenge to national diplomacy.

– Bruce Schneier offers his take on the reaction to the attempted Christmas terror plot. “The problem”, Schneier argues, with the solutions being proposed (full-body scanners, passenger profiling, etc.):

“is that they’re only effective if we guess the plot correctly. Defending against a particular tactic or target makes sense if tactics and targets are few. But there are hundreds of tactics and millions of targets, so all these measures will do is force the terrorists to make a minor modification to their plot.”


“What we need is security that’s effective even if we can’t guess the next plot: intelligence, investigation and emergency response.”

– Elsewhere, Samuel Brittan, argues in favour of taking a “fresh look” at certain liberal values – “[h]owever difficult it is to define a liberal”, he suggests, “it is not hard to spot anti-liberals.” John Gray, meanwhile, explores the relationship between neoliberalism and state power, suggesting that “[t]he consequence of reshaping society on a market model has been to make the state omnipresent.”

– Finally, the FT’s Gillian Tett has an interesting piece on the potential social impact of fiscal cuts and the implications of this for bond markets and national standing over the next decade.