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Who Will Rescue the Rest of Us?

SYDNEY – The rescue of the 33 Chilean miners, from what was feared would be their tomb, gave the world something to cheer about. Hope has not, after all, become a redundant virtue in the twenty-first century. But, looking around us today, there do not seem to be many reasons for optimism elsewhere.

The world lurches towards a currency war, or even towards trade protectionism, threatening to destroy jobs and growth. America’s recovery from recession is anemic and largely jobless. China, meanwhile, with foreign reserves worth half its total output, denies with a straight face that it is deliberately manipulating the value of the renminbi. So its trade surplus continues to soar at the expense of other countries.

Nor does a global solution to the challenge of climate change appear any closer. A few weeks of rain in Australia has emboldened those who think that global warming is a gigantic hoax perpetrated by the United Nations or conspiring scientists or maybe men from Mars.

The war in Afghanistan bleeds more lives and treasure into the inhospitable terrain of that sad land, with little immediate chance of whatever might constitute sufficient success to allow America and its allies to quit. And the problems of Pakistan fester next door.