Fire, Ready, Aim - Again

Summits is icumen in. Batches of world leaders are meeting (1) in Amsterdam to shore up the slow-motion unification of Europe, and (2) in Denver to discuss globalization's impact on the trade and money policies of rich and poor nations.

Then (3) a special UN session convenes June 23 to review progress (or lack thereof) on the slowing of greenhouse gas emissions, and other environmental pledges made at the Rio Earth Summit five years ago.

Next month (4) it's on to Madrid for vetting new applicants for NATO membership. Then, later (5) European leaders troop to Luxembourg to discuss ways to cut the Continent's 11-plus percent unemployment rate without spending any new EU tax revenues to do so.

This crowd of summits has a sweet-and-sour common denominator. The parleys deal with the huge benefits of globalized trade and cooperation among groups of nations. And they also deal with the environmental and labor dislocations that are the downside of globalization's growth benefits.

To get things done, world leaders tend to resort to that famous improvisational management practice: FIRE! READY! AIM!

At Rio they promised to cut down on earth-warming gases going into the next century. They have since been trying to "aim" that "fire" command into binding national laws.

Since the 1957 Treaty of Rome, European leaders have gradually tried to increase their economic, political, human rights, and trade cohesion in a long series of "aiming" conferences. Lately - at Maastricht, Dublin, and Amsterdam - they have worked on that pocketbook symbol of European Union, a common currency, as well as induction of members from Central and Eastern Europe, and readjusting members' shares of political power.

And NATO, of course, is trying to find a new "aim" in the post-cold war era, hoping its new members don't cause it to fire on anyone - or be fired upon.

Now, some summit suggestions:

* To the G-7-plus-Russia (Denver summit): Set up a low-key system for having your leaders' chief economic advisers and science advisers meet regularly with their counterparts from the developing nations of Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Subjects to discuss: (1) Sharing technologies that curb manufacturing pollutants but don't hamstring growth. (2) Further opening rich nations' markets to poor nations' products. (3) Global standards on antitrust, bribery, and labor conditions.

* To NATO (Madrid): Go slow on expansion to let EU economic assimilation of Eastern Europe pave the way.

* To the EU (Luxembourg): Don't try to create jobs through wasteful EU subsidies. Follow the successful British/US policies that encourage entrepreneurial new firms to create jobs.

Such approaches should help to aim your fire more productively.

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