Sunday, March 12, 2006

Washington and Helsinki Week

After a hectic day commenting on the death of Milosevic and the direction - or rather lack thereof - of Balkan policy in the European Union, I have now arrived in Washington on the other side of the Atlantic.

The view from my hotel is only marginally different from the picture.

And after having left the deep winter in Stockholm, it certainly nice to arrive in the spring of Washington.

It's a town in slight pre-election mood - and in a rather bewildered state as concerns its relations to the outside world.

The recent de facto rejection of a deal under which a British operator of some US ports would be aquired by a Dubai company of great reputation in the area - serving the US Navy on a daily basis, among other things - has highlighted the state of the political system here.

In effect, we saw the White House defeated by a mad scramble of politicians and others trying to outdo each other on what was perceived as an issue of national security. It was xenophobia in action.

Practically all of the Democrats joined the rampage, which in this election year caused a not insignificant number of Republicans to do the same.

And that effectively decided the matter.

For all the tendencies that we are seeing towards "economic nationalism" in different parts of the European Union at the moment, this must be said to have been worse.

I'll be here for three days discussing a rather wide range of issues before heading home again.

But the stay home will be short. I'm heading off to Helsinki for a meeting with the board of the Finnish-Swedish center at Hanaholmen.

Not the most significant institution of the world, but a significant one in terms of cooperation between our two Nordic nations. And that cooperation is difficult for our position in the world of today.

So, it will be a week between Washington and Helsinki.