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End the dangerous endgame

 

The US government shutdown is causing frissons worldwide
SRAY AGARWAL | Issue Dated: October 11, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : US government shutdown | APEC | US President Barack Obama | |
 

The United States, the most powerful nation of the world, is going through another government shutdown (which is a situation in which a government ceases all or many of its functions) since October 1, 2013, after a gap of 18 years. The shutdown has forced nearly 800,000 federal government employees to take furloughs, prompting suspension of several services that are not exempted by the Antideficiency Act. The funding gap in the US budget is being touted as the reason behind the shutdown but the real reason is the recalcitrance of the Republican party to do business with the Obama administration. As it is, the shutdown has not only sent the American socio-economic order into catawampus, its domino effects are also reverberating across the world's capitals.


Thanks to the shutdown, US President Barack Obama was forced to cancel his visit to Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Obama was scheduled to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meet in Bali, but he chose to give the meet a go-by in light of the developments at home. His absence at south Asia's most important global do robbed the meeting of the gravitas that the president's presence would have ensured. The US Secretary of State John Kerry, who stood in for Obama at the meet, was candid in his assessment of the situation back home. “First, I’d like to say just a few words about the disappointing situation back home, which, regrettably, has kept the President of the United States from attending this year’s APEC. I am not in partisan or elected politics anymore, but I did spend 28-plus years in the United States Senate, and I believe that those standing in the way in the other body of the Congress, standing in the way of reopening our government, need to think long and hard about the message that we send to the world when we can’t get our own act together."     


Kerry, in fact, went ahead and made an impassioned appeal to the Congress to get over the impasse.”The values of great institutions like the United States Senate and the House is how we use them and what they represent to the world. And because these institutions are instruments of the people, they are broken only if we let them break. So I can tell you from experience that it is not only within Congress’ power to prevent the shutdown, it is also within Congress’ power to end it. To end it now. To end it today.”


Whether America’s law makers are willing to listen to the sage advice or whether they would continue to play hard ball and bring the nation closer to the brink is anybody’s guess. The longer the stalemate continues, the more burden America is likely to bring upon itself and upon the rest of the world. A hobbled US would most certainly adversely affect trade relations between America and the European Union, which in turn would impact the entire trans-Asia region. Even the US sanctions against Iran and Syria could begin to unravel in the absence of adequate staff to run its foreign trade office. That would indeed be a very sorry predicament for a country which has taken so much trouble and gone to great lengths to bring coherence to world affairs.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017