Jordan’s need to diversify options, freedom will save Kenya, not being ostriches, National Payments Platform could change banking, demolition of a wall of silence in 2017

A roundup of global commentary for the Jan. 15, 2018 weekly magazine.

Charles Platiau/Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron leaves after delivering his speech at the Daming Palace in Xian, Shaanxi province, China on Jan. 8, 2018.

The Jordan Times / Amman, Jordan

Jordan’s need to diversify options

“In recent weeks, there has been much commentary in Jordan on the importance of taking a new approach to Jordan’s bilateral relations,” writes Amer Al Sabaileh. “Strategically, it is imperative that Jordan continues to diversify its options, but this must be done with a clear plan and idea rather than clichés and propaganda. Global political dynamics have shifted, particularly with respect to the Middle East. From the Syrian crisis to the first dual Chinese and Russian UN Security Council veto in 2012, the ground has been shifting beneath us for a few years now.... We cannot follow populism, short-termism or the easiest path to our next aid donation. By the same token we cannot follow calls to build relations to Iran in response to US policy as there is no clear path to a better outcome for Jordan.”

The East African / Nairobi, Kenya

Freedom will save Kenya, not being ostriches

“Another year is over,” writes Muthoni Wanyeki. “The trajectory for Kenya and its neighbours is not good.... Let it never be said that there’s a dearth of hand-wringing and calls for dialogue on our ‘inter-communal tensions’ while ignoring the elephant in the room. We are ostriches: We blame the state of the economy on the elections. Yet our debt level is crazy.... Being good ostriches won’t save us. But freedom, integrity in public office, constitutionalism and rule of law will.” 

The Sydney Morning Herald / Sydney, Australia

National Payments Platform could change banking

“It’s one of the most important pieces of public infrastructure so far this century, but most people haven’t heard of it,” writes Caitlin Fitzsimmons. “It’s called the National Payments Platform ... and, after several years in the making, it’s finally going live soon after Australia Day. When it does, you’ll be able to make ‘real-time’ electronic payments to other Australian bank accounts – meaning the funds arrive within minutes.... [F]or my money, the NPP will be far more transformative for the Australian economy than most physical infrastructure. For starters, faster payments will reduce a lot of the friction with transactions.... Second, the NPP should enable innovation in financial services.”

The Globe and Mail / Toronto

Demolition of a wall of silence in 2017

“2017 was an edgy 365 days,” states an editorial. “As disruptive as it was, though, there was one development that ... was welcome and needed. We’re talking about the demolition of the wall of silence that has forever allowed men in powerful positions to prey in a sexual fashion on women, and sometimes on other men, with impunity.  The fall of Harvey Weinstein was the spark.... A group of powerful women working in Hollywood announced ... they are setting up a fund to help ordinary women in the U.S. take on abusive employers. They are also calling for legislation to punish companies that tolerate harassment, and they intend to keep talking about the issue. That’s all helpful. But it remains up to employers to reinforce their guidelines on sexual harassment, and to make it easy for employees to come forward and be heard. It is still the job of governments to ensure rules are implemented and enforced. And it still falls to the police to be better at investigating cases, and at making women feel comfortable going to them in the first place.” 

The Guardian / London

Could Macron intervene on ‘Brexit’?

“Emmanuel Macron emerged to transform a sclerotic political scene, dazzling the world and many in his country with a youthful energy that made French rejuvenation a buzzword...,” writes Natalie Nougayrède. “If Macron really is the saviour of Europe he wants to be, then he should say something to help to prevent Brexit. Why couldn’t his eloquence and daring be deployed? A window of opportunity may open up next summer, when it will become increasingly clear that Brexit is a near-impossible task, both in scale and in timing.”

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