Archive for January, 2011

QDDR

29/01/2011

The first ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review by the State Department, Leading Through Civilian Power, was published recently and it in there is a great understanding for the need of a more joined up foreign policy. As the title suggests, “civilian power” plays a large role in some cases preempting the need for military action.

In a talk given in London, director of Policy Planning at the Department of State, Dr Anne-Marie Slaughter, said that the document would mean the level of communciation between the Departments of Agriculture, Justice and Energy, and indeed others, and Foggy Bottom would be greatly enhanced to the mutal benefit of all. Dr Slaughter said that there would be an acknowledgement of the role USAID (US Agency for International Developement) plays with State and a concerted effort to assist USAID in its mission. 

Naturally from its title, Leading Through Civilian Power, and coming from State, not Defence, says a lot about how it was shapd. Dr Slaughter envisages a greater diplomatic and civil service based approach, as the report says “We have seen astonishing growth in the number of civilian agencies that engage in international activity: energy diplomacy, disease prevention, police training, trade promotion, and many other areas. When the work of these agencies is aligned, it protects America’s interests and projects our leadership. We help prevent fragile states from descending into chaos, spur economic growth abroad, secure investments for American business, open new markets for American goods, promote trade overseas, and create jobs here at home”.

Not only that but Dr Slaughter mentioned that USAID would make those who wish to be promoted in USAID spend time in State and vice versa, in addition to “Continue implementing the USAID Forward agenda, which includes establishing a Bureau of Policy, Planning, and Learning; strengthening USAID’s budget management capacity; incorporating science and technology in our development efforts; and reforming procurement systems” while at the same time buidling “USAID’s human capital by increasing the number of USAID Foreign Service Officers, expanding mid-level hiring, and creating a new Senior Technical Group Career Track to provide a career path for USAID’s technical experts”.

The QDDR also stated that it would use USAID to guide and assist failing states to “prevent conflict, save lives, and build sustainable peace by resolving underlying grievances fairly and helping to build government institutions that can provide basic but effective security and justice systems”. It would do this because it will “Integrate State’s capabilities through a new Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights. We will also create a new Bureau for Conflict and Stabilization Operations”.  

However Dr Slaughter did mention that America would act unilaterally if it saw fit, thus proving the basic point stated here previously that the broad strokes of US foreign policy does not change.

We should all be grateful for the role the US plays in the world today, and that generally what is good for America is good for the world.

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Waiting for the pop

25/01/2011

Many are noticing that China is becoming increasingly aggressive in its stance not just regionally but to the United States also. This is seen when “China’s generals have unveiled three major new weapons that could challenge the military supremacy of the United States and provide the firepower to underline China’s superpower status”.

The first part of this should be taken as it is, however the Chinese armed forces, collectively called the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), will not be able to challenge the United States for decades to come. Even for this to happen, the US Federal Government would have to stop spending all of its $600 billion that it spends of defence now for and continue doing this for China to even catch up. This is not to diminish the increasing power of the PLA and China’s increasing willingness to show off this power.

What is undoubtedly impressive is that fact that “smoke has begun to billow from the chimneys of the Shi Lang, a hulking Soviet-era ship that China bought from Russia and has refitted to become its first aircraft carrier”. This project is four years ahead of time, but for a little prespective, the US Navy currently has eleven aircraft carriers, in addition to one under construction, with two more being planned.  

It must be said however that China is catching up to the United States quickly. In addition to thier aircraft carrier that is years ahead of time, the “first stealth fighter jet has been spotted taxiing along a runway. It has yet to take off, but American plane-spotters have already begun speculating that it might be able to beat an F-22 in a dogfight”. Not only this, but a “new missile that could sink a US aircraft carrier, the first such weapon in the world. The Dong Feng (or East Wind) 21D missile is now ‘operational’, according to Admiral Robert Willard of the US Pacific Command”.

Funding meanwhile has come from “China’s economic miracle [which] has paid for the munitions, with the PLA’s official budget increasing more than fivefold from $14.6 billion in 2000 to $78.6 billion this year. Unofficially, the spending is thought to be far higher, at $150 billion, with China’s leaders keeping many of the PLA’s deals off the books in order to avoid alarming the rest of the world”.

What is all this for? The PLA’s “generals have been careful to tone down their nationalistic rhetoric in recent years, dropping the suggestion of an imminent invasion of Taiwan, the army is behaving with more swagger, at least in its own backyard”, yet at the same time “but it has dramatically increased its penetrations of Japanese airspace, resulting in Japanese fighter jets being scrambled 44 times in the past year, double the total for 2006”.  

Any notion that China would be a belevolent superpower would be naive and dangerous, it is in Asia’s and ideed the world’s interests to keep the US strong. When the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, went to Washington, “After an unusually rocky year in their relations, both China and the United States hope for respite. But mutual wariness is growing, thanks not least to China’s hawkish army”.    

Worringly “Despite China’s increasingly assertive military posture in the western Pacific, a region where America’s armed forces have long held sway, communication between the two sides is minimal at the best of times” this was seen when “In 2009 it proved useless when tempers flared over a standoff between Chinese boats and an American surveillance vessel in the South China Sea”. This was in stark contrast to the first diplomatic crisis of the Bush administration when a spyplane was shot down in 2001 over Chinese airspace. The incident was handled well and President Bush left office in 2009 with the US-Sino relations at an all time high. There seems to be little communication between the PLA and their political counterparts. The article notes that “During a meeting with Mr Hu, Mr Gates mentioned the test flight earlier in the day of a Chinese stealth fighter, the J-20, China’s first aircraft supposed to evade radar. Speculation about progress on the highly secretive project has intensified with the appearance online of photographs of a J-20 at an airfield. The flight on January 11th, video of which appeared on unofficial websites, was the first ever reported. But Mr Hu and other officials in the room appeared to be unaware of it, a Pentagon official claims”.

However despite the obvious military and political problems the US is having with China, there are other internal problems, the geopolitical elements have been mentioned here before. Not only that but, “More than 50 per cent of the mainland’s wealthiest, who each have assets of more than 10 million yuan (€1.15 million), spend between one million yuan (€115,000) and three million yuan (€230,000) every year, and own more than three cars”. In addition to this, and perhaps most dangerously for the internal stability of the regime, “The average age of the respondents with at least 100 million yuan was 39; that of those with at least one billion yuan was 43. Both averages were a year younger than last year”. This means that those that have benefited will remain happy as long as the economy keeps growing, yet it also means that when things go wrong, they will have far less patience with the authorities when they do.

The article reports that “China’s real-estate boom stems from a powerful cocktail of factors. With inflation running at about 5 per cent, there is no point keeping your money in the bank because the deposit rate is only about 2.5 per cent. So people look for other investment vehicles. With the stock market looking pricey, the classic investment is property”.  This will ring true with what happened in the US, UK, Ireland and a host of other nations over the world.

Standby for the pop.

Irish government collapses

23/01/2011

A day after Brian Cowen, leader of the majority party of the coalition government resigned the leadership of his party, the junior party of the coalition, the Green Party has decided to withdraw from government.

The Green Party have come under heavy criticism, especially after witnessing the IMF/ECB teams entering the country, during their time in government after propping up an increasingly dysfunctional Fianna Fáil. The Green Party were increasingly angry, especially when Prime Minister Cowen attempted to appoint a number of new Cabinet ministers, after a spate of co-ordinated resignations even after a general election had been announced.

The Green Party have said that they will vote for the Finance Bill from the opposition benches which they would like to see passed by Friday 28 January. Both major opposition parties, Labour and Fine Gael have said they will vote for the Finance Bill, yet Labour have tabled a motion of no confidence in Brian Cowen which is due for Tuesday 24. It is unclear if the Green Party will vote for this motion at this time.

However the main Fianna Fáil party have said this is not possible. The Green Party ministers have submitted their resignations and they have been accepted. This leaves seven ministers,  Brian Cowen, Mary Coughlan, Mary Hanafin, Brian Lehihnan, Brendan Smith, Eamon O Cuiv and Pat Carey in the government. This is the minimum needed under the Constitution. 

Fianna Fáil are currently without a leader after the resignation of Brian Cowen, though in a bizarre situation he remains on as Prime Minister. A leadership election is due next week and a result will be known by Wednesday 26th. The general election which was set for Friday 11 March is now expected to take place earlier than that, towards the end of February.  

Ireland is at this time witnessing the dramatic implosion of Fianna Fáil and what will hopefully be their destruction and the beginning of a new politics based on ideology and agonism as opposed to personalities and dangerous populism.

Common sense

22/01/2011

Common sense dicates that no one can hold an important office forever as the quality of leadership inevitably declines. Thus it makes sense that Nasrallah Pierre Cardinal Sfeir,  patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites and the Whole Levant, 90, has submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict, though a successor may not be elected for some time.

Euro death throes – Part II

22/01/2011

It is unclear if the euro elites can agree to save their own integrationist project, or after decades of their incessant talk about reaching beyond national interest will they do just that.

Recently president of the European Council said “there must be ‘more convergence’ between the economies of all EU members and not just those using the euro”. The EU is nothing if not resourceful. Integration begets integration, but now they have come upon this crisis in their own poorly planned and badly executed currency, the euro, and seen an opportunity to enhance their power by neutering national governments power over their own budgets and taxation.

Apparently “Mr van Rompuy last year drew up new plans for ‘economic governance’ in the EU, rules to bring together economic policy amid the financial crisis. His report set out plans for the European Union to carry out ‘surveillance’ of member-states’ budgets and enforce sanctions on those who run up large deficits”.  This must not be tolerated by the national governments. If there is a choice is between the disintegration of the euro and the destruction of national governments the euro must be sacrificed.

It seems that “sanctions regime would apply only to the euro countries. But the surveillance will be applied to all 27 EU members”. While this does make sense for a common euro bloc there are too many contradications within the EU itself for this to be feasible in the long run. Either all nations that are not euro members must join the euro or it must be dissolved and revert to a free trade area.

Yet there is little chance that such moves will be proposed or be even accepted by anyone in the EU. Indeed, the EU is its own worst enemy. Splits are emerging in the German government, “Guido Westerwelle, the vice-Chancellor and head of the FDP Free Democrats, said there was no justification for last week’s call by Brussels for an urgent boost in the size and powers of the €440bn (£371bn) fund”. The president of the European Commission, “José Manuel Barroso is worried the fund will run dry if Portugal needs a rescue, leaving too little to defend Spain. A leaked Commission document said a fresh pulse of the crisis was ‘unavoidable’ in early 2011”.

However in order to keep the bailout funds AAA rating it cannot be more than this, which it may need to be in order to save this wretched currency and the integration that so desperately crave.

Personnel movements

20/01/2011

On this the second anniversary of the inauguration of President Obama there are significant moves on the way. There have been some successes on the foreign policy front for the administration including “progress on resetting relations with Russia, aiding Iraq’s transition to self-rule, strengthening sanctions on Iran, and increasing attention on Southeast Asia”.

Among the most high profile of personnel moves is Dr Robert Gates who said in August 2010 that he would  leave DoD in 2011. It has been claimed that to fill what is widely seen as the best Defence Secretary for years, “will require the international prestige to meet with foreign leaders on equal terms, the military bona fides to manage the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the political savvy to guide the Pentagon though what will surely by its most complex interactions with Capitol Hill in many years”. Names that are mentioned are “John Hamre, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Michele Flournoy, Gates’ undersecretary for policy (who would be the first female defense secretary), and CIA chief Leon Panetta. The dark horse is former Obama campaign advisor Richard Danzig, who is also chairman of the Center for a New American Security”.

Other posts that will require new names including the both Deputy Secretaries of State with Jack Lew now at OMB and Jim Steinberg reported to leave also. In addition to this is the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan is vacant since the death of Richard Holbrooke with long term Clinton Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbottand current president of the Brookings Institution.

Other possibilities are the resignation of Hilary Clinton, though this is not expected until 2012 there is also talk of a move of Dr Susan Rice, current Ambassador to the UN.

The slow decay continues

20/01/2011

Yesterday the Prime Minster of Ireland recieved and today accepted the resignations of the Minister for Health, the Minister for Transport, the Minister for Enterprise, the Minister for Justice as well as the Minister for Defence. In addition to this the Minister for Foreign Affairs who challanged the Prime Minister for the leadership of the main governing party on 18 January this year and failed resigned yesterday.

In addition to this the Minister for Tourism who said that she voted against the prime minister as leader of her party but at the same time saying that he should remain as PM remains in the Cabinet. Apparently the Transport Minister handed in his resignation “weeks ago“.   

The junior partner in the coalition, the Green Party, will support the government until the Fiance Bill is passed. There is yet again no strategy and utter chaos in the dying days of the Fianna Fáil party. This exodus of so many ministers and the fact that they were filled by those left in Cabinet speaks volumes, with an election now set for Friday 11 March. The dissolution is expected to take place around the middle of February.

May this once and for all convince the Irish public to destroy the party, and thus there wiould be a greater chance to bring in some kind of ideology into an otherwise grey political landscape.

Being put to good use

19/01/2011

Wikileaks/Assange doing good for a change.

History made

17/01/2011

History of a different kind was made Saturday when Pope Benedict under the Anglicanorum coetibus erected the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham for those Anglicans in England and Wales who wish to convert either as a whole diocese, or as is more likely, parish, to Catholicism while retaining elements of the Anglican tradition. 

Benedict at the same time appointed Fr Keith Newton, who was formerly Suffragan Bishop of Richborough, as the ordinariate’s first ordinary. At the same moment as Newton’s appointment as ordinary was being announced in Rome, Newton, along with former bishops John Broadhurst and Andrew Burnham where being ordained priests by Archbishop Vincent Nichols in Westminster cathederal.  The three former bishops and their wives had been recieved into the Catholic Church on 1 January by Bishop Alan Hopes.

In a statement issued in conjunction with the appointment of Newton as ordinary,  it makes clear that “with Reverend Burnham and Reverend Broadhurst, Reverend Newton will oversee the catechetical preparation of the first groups of Anglicans in England and Wales who will be received into the Catholic Church together with their pastors at Easter, and to accompany the clergy preparing for ordination to the Catholic priesthood around Pentecost”.

Similar organisations are expected to be created in the US and Austrialia in the coming months with the English ordinariate seen as the model.  

Yet again however the liberal press either fail to, or refuse to, understand the powerful, albeit, sadly diminished role of religion in people’s lives, when they compare the process to secular institutions. This was made plain when some commented that the Ordinariate and its present and future members support an “institutional misogyny”.

Such wild ignorance of the historic moves should be ignored.

Euro death throes – Part I

17/01/2011

The euro saga rumbles on. With eurocrats unable to decide what to do, the financial and therefore political stablity of the core is coming under threat. The EU met to decide if they should enact a “permanent crisis resolution mechanism for the eurozone to replace the European Financial Stability Facility (or EFSF), which expires in 2013”.  Whatever they have decided it is simply navel gazing and procrastination and pales in comparison to their more urgent crisis.

The jornalist correctly notes that “Monetary union needs a fiscal union. Without it, the union could easily suffer from the worst of both worlds: no clear mechanism available to provide support for weaker members in trouble”. However the chances of this happening are non existant, as he says “full fiscal union would surely require political union”. Smaller nations with low corporate tax rates such as Ireland and Luxembourg inside the eurozone will reject this outright, while larger nations such as the UK will refuse to even contemplate such a proposal. Naturally, “Germany holds all the cards. Since she has striven to create a common Europe for decades, her default position must be to keep the eurozone together”.

He warns that the whole euro zone is under threat due to the fact that taking ratio of government debt to GDP by “the end of next year, Greece will probably be at 150pc and Ireland at 110pc. The likely figures for Portugal, Spain and Italy are 85pc, 70pc and 120pc respectively. Meanwhile, Belgium will probably be somewhere near 100pc. More worryingly, France will be about 90pc and Germany will be not far off 80pc”. He argues convincilingly that “Breaking up is hard to do, but staying together may turn out worse in the end”.

Similiarly, it has been said that the ECB’s “refusal to be drawn further has left Belgium fending for itself as an escalating constitutional crisis pushes yields on its 10-year bonds to a post-euro record of 4.27pc”. This is turn will spread to France and evenuatlly Germany itself. The ECB’s current plan of bail outs “done in the in the name of ‘saving the euro’ – are causing the crisis to spread ever wider by contaminating stronger states instead of separating the balance sheets of good from bad”. Potugal last week managed to sell some of its debt for a lower than expected interest rate but it is thought that this will not last.

Some in America have said that this euro instability means that “Economic nationalism is now resurgent across Europe”. This however is to overemphases the situation, it has lead to a rise but this is not on the scale as many think or hope.  In an excellent analysis by Chatham House makes the simple point that “The facility offered to Ireland was carefully crafted to povide funds at the maximum of what would be credible – the country could not plausibly borrow more. So what happens if the Irish banks need yet more bailouts”. What is also noted is the scale and indeed recklessness of European banks which bought into the Irish property boom and invested heavily, nearly $600 bn dollars worth, in Irish property. The article mentions the two extremes of the collapse of the euro or fiscal and monetary union. However it does also remind readers of the possiblity of a member state being ejected from the eurozone.  

One think is for sure, the EU will do all it can to protect its radical ideology of intergration to the last.

A white terrorist

16/01/2011

Julian Assange must have finally realised the crimes he has committed. His legal team have claimed that “he could end up facing the death penalty in the US if the UK extradites him to Sweden, where he is accused of sex crimes”. What kind of defence is that, he could be struck down by a bus tomorrow but he still goes outside. What kind of defence is that, it should not be accepted by the UK court that will decide on his extradition on 7 February.

The Federal Government “has not yet filed any charges against Assange, but officials are investigating whether he can be prosecuted under American espionage laws” yet, part of his defence which has been put online says that there is a “real risk” of ill treatment of torture. Under the “legal agreement on extraditions between Sweden and the US, Assange would have to be charged in the US with a crime carrying a minimum of two-year prison term under both countries’ laws”.

Either naively or out of sheer stupidity Assange has said that “the stream of leaks on his website would continue ‘unabated’ and vowed to ‘step up’ its schedule of publications.”  

His ridiculous crusade against America which supposedly brings out the important truth of what is generally a benevolent hyperpower is nothing more than anti-Americanism. Assange either doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to understand how the world works. He has rightly been called a terrorist by chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and is a continual threat not just to US national security but every nation for as long as he operates.

French bullying

13/01/2011

Ireland must be prepared to take down the euro to protect itself and its future.

She claims she’s worth it

12/01/2011

Yet again Baroness Ashton astounds. It seems that she “has failed to fully attend two thirds of European Commission meetings over the past year, leaving Britain without a voice in the most important forum for EU law making”.

The fact that she is also is also First Vice-President of the Commission and the UK’s only full representative on the Commission. Apparently she has a reluctance to be away “from her London-based family at weekends”.

During “26 per cent of meetings, Lady Ashton left proceedings early, although, her aides insist that, in most cases she was there for the “meat” of the agenda. Her attendance record is the worst of the EU’s 27 commissioners.”

Part of this is the EU’s fault, she holds too many positions and would be unable to do them all even if she did work on weekends. However her unwillingness to work at weekends coupled with her obvious lack of experience or some would say even interest in her “foreign minster” job means she should resign.

Besides the EU has bigger things on its plate, namely the implosion of the euro and with it their federalist/super state dreams going up in smoke.

For the benefit of all

09/01/2011

It seems that the “land between the Mediterranean and river Jordan will be majority Palestinian from 2015”. Prominent Isrealis like Ehud Olmert argue rightly that “unless such a peace settlement is reached Israel would have to embrace the one-state solution, where Jews and Palestinians would have equal rights, or become an apartheid state, where a Jewish minority will dominate a restive Palestinian majority”.

A peaceful two state solution must be reached for the benefit of all.

Myth of the market

07/01/2011

It has long been the credo for those who believe in the absolute power of the “market” that it brings endless choice and this is only a good thing from which we all benefit.

Howewer in an interesting piece The Economist explores that it might not be as simple as many claim. It notes how “The average American supermarket now carries 48,750 items, according to the Food Marketing Institute, more than five times the number in 1975. Britain’s Tesco stocks 91 different shampoos, 93 varieties of toothpaste and 115 of household cleaner”.

Similarly “Teenagers can choose to surf, chat, tweet, zap or poke in ways that their parents can barely fathom” while “The University of California, Berkeley, has over 350 degree programmes, including Buddhist Studies and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies, each made up of scores of courses”. Choice is seemingly endless.

It hardly needs to be said but “Free choice is the basis on which markets work, driving competition and generating economic growth”, however we have reached a tipping point. It notes how “In one landmark experiment, conducted in an upmarket grocery store in California, researchers set up a sampling table with a display of jams. In the first test they offered a tempting array of 24 different jams to taste; on a different day they displayed just six. Shoppers who took part in the sampling were rewarded with a discount voucher to buy any jam of the same brand in the store. It turned out that more shoppers stopped at the display when there were 24 jams. But when it came to buying afterwards, fully 30% of those who stopped at the six-jam table went on to purchase a pot, against merely 3% of those who were faced with the selection of 24” it argue that “Too much choice, concluded Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University and Mark Lepper of Stanford, is demotivating”.

Simply put, “As options multiply, there may be a point at which the effort required to obtain enough information to be able to distinguish sensibly between alternatives outweighs the benefit to the consumer of the extra choice”.

Even more damaging this endless choice can harm society itself. Thge article notes how the “potential for regret about the options not taken—the faster car, the hotel with the better view—seems to be greater in the face of multiple choices”. Humourously “In one episode of ‘The Simpsons’, Marge takes Apu shopping in a new supermarket, Monstromart, whose cheery advertising slogan is “‘where shopping is a baffling ordeal'”.

Worringly, “Expectations have been inflated to such an extent that people think the perfect choice exists, argues Renata Salecl in her book ‘Choice'”. This can lead people to think that perfect jam, car, really exists. In some cases people are dissapointed and move on, however with our relaxed morals how many divorces does society have to accept for before the consequences mount and the State has to pick up the tab. The market seems to infect everything. Not only that but “today’s children, growing up in a world of abundant choice, will find decisions even harder to take when they grow up. Their lives may be packed with instant choices”.

How will they be able to cope which college to choose, whether to marry or not, indeed any multitude of serious decisions that each of serious consequences. One quoted man says that the adults of the future currently “‘grab this or that and hope for the best'”. This is no way to run a life.

Not only is society affected, the market and thus competition itself is worse off as bewildered consumers attempt to navigate their way through as “the more that options multiply, the more important brands become. Today, when paralysed by bewildering choice, a consumer will often turn to a brand that is cleverly marketed to appear to be one that others trust”.

Unlimited choice is not a good thing, businesses are reacting to this as “some firms employ ‘choice architects’ to help guide consumers’ decision-making and curb confusion”, other companies have simply reduced the range of porducts on offer.

We will learn little from this basic psychology and choice will continue to dominate our lives, often to our own detriment.

Cardinal Rode retires

04/01/2011

In a suprise move Franc Cardinal Rode CM, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has been formally retired. Other candidates have been mentioned but he has been unexpectedly replaced by Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz formerly of Brasília.

History repeating itself

04/01/2011

Fianna Fail have destroyed Ireland.  May they be wiped out and never return.

Trying to disprove the obvious

01/01/2011

Some people seem intent on disproving basic natural law. Like trying to disprove gravity exists they are doomed to fail, hopfully.

In an article written about the future of marriage it notes that the marrige of Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton reflects “the changes in the shape and nature of marriage that have been rippling throughout the Western world for the past few decades”. It notes that people in their late 20s or early 30s are getting married less often than ever before. It says that in”1960, the year before Princess Diana, William’s mother, was born, nearly 70% of American adults were married; now only about half are. Eight times as many children are born out of wedlock. Back then, two-thirds of 20-somethings were married; in 2008 just 26% were. And college graduates are now far more likely to marry (64%) than those with no higher education (48%)”.

The article notes how the things that usually come from marriage can now be acquired without it, as it says “Neither men nor women need to be married to have sex or companionship or professional success or respect or even children”.

All this points to the fact that that marriage, and those getting married, is changing. However there is an uglier side to all this rapid change, most worryingly that “Nearly half of children born today will be living in broken homes by the age of 16 as growing numbers of families split up”. A “report called for a major shift in policy to reassert the ‘vital’ importance of marriage as a more stable form of commitment than cohabitation”.

The piece notes how “married couples accounted for over half of all births, divorces represented just one fifth of all breakdowns in parental relationships, with the remaining 80 per cent of separations coming from unmarried families”.  It has long been proven that children need stability at home and those with stability have a much better chance of being better adjusted and more able to cope with difficult times. However, where there is instability in the home, there is a much higher chance of crime, failed relationships, drug and alcohol abuse.

When things go wrong this must and should be cleaned up by the State. In the UK alone “the total cost of family breakdown was £20-£24 billion per year in tax credits, housing and other benefits payments. Mr Duncan Smith, who founded the Centre for Social Justice before becoming a Cabinet minister, has suggested that the true cost of family breakdown to the UK economy, including benefits, lost taxes and crime, was far higher – up to £100 billion a year”.

The State has a duty to protect children through stable and secure relationships, and the most obvious way of doing this is through marriage. There are other ways that this could and is being encourged  but it all points in the same direction.

Even worse many now paint a false dichotomy in which everything that is new is automatically good and worthwhile, yet everything that is old is bad or dangerous – change is always seen as a good thing.

This societal breakdown with relativism and individualism at its core leads to there being only a duty to self. This means that a promise has no real meaning. Modern life makes things worse with whatever excuse there is for role models today doing as they please – without moral and societal sanction.  

Those that try to maintain whatever societal order and stability exist are told to that the current ways are “out of touch with the modern reality” and we must change because there is change.

Such thinking has only got us to where we are today – that should be warning enough.