And looking around the web…

Firstly, sorry about the light posting — been a busy couple of days.

  • Wanna read the 20-odd G20 Seoul Summit Leaders’ Declaration? Well, download it from here.
  • Hey, say what you will about the results — or lack thereof — from the G20 summit, which is apparently the ’85 St. Louis Cardinals of major international summits, minus Jack Clark.  At least it ended without a riot or the North Koreans doing something stupid, and they opened up Gyeongbokgung Palace for a couple of nights. And who knows — maybe the experience has helped boost Seoul’s international profile, which would be nice.
  • Has Obama lost his mojo? That, I don’t know, but Heritage’s Bruce Klingner notes that Obama really blew it in Seoul. He writes, “The media repeatedly mischaracterized the trade discussions this week as close to achieving an agreement. Sorry, but the agreement was already reached—over three years ago when the United States and South Korea signed the completed document. But the Administration adopted North Korea’s (and Speaker Pelosi’s) negotiating strategy—no agreement is final, even after signature… Walking away from the KORUS will hurt U.S. economic recovery, strain relations with a key U.S. ally, and undermine American trade objectives—a true trifecta of failure.” Ozzie Smith wouldn’t have whiffed that badly, that’s for sure.
  • On the sidelines of the summit, LMB’s meeting with French president Nicolas Sarkozy yielded an agreement to return on permanent loan the Joseon royal archives that were, ahem, borrowed by the French when they, ahem visited Ganghwa Island in 1866. Not everyone’s happy, as the agreement still recognizes French ownership. Still, it’s been a good month for cultural treasures, with the Japanese also agreeing to return old books taken from Korea during the colonial era.
  • NathanB

    That last bullet was fascinating, Robert. There is a global trend nowadays to return culturally-significant objects that were improperly taken. After thinking about this for over two years, I have come to the conclusion that this is a Good Thing.

  • Robert Koehler

    After thinking about this for over two years, I have come to the conclusion that this is a Good Thing.

    I’m inclined to agree, but this can get rather silly, too, as the world’s museums are full of stuff plundered from other places. I’m pretty sure a lot of our (‘Merican) stuff is sitting in British museums, and truth be told, that doesn’t bother me — part of our history is getting our capital looted and burned by the Brits, and I guess that makes the stuff they took part of their history, too.

    PS: On behalf of all Americans, you’re welcome:

  • NathanB

    Thanks, Robert!

    You know, this is a topic that I really warm to. What really opened my eyes was the realization that the vast majority of culturally-significant aboriginal objects from the northwest coast of BC are not in BC; they’re in the museums of the world, but especially the US and eastern Canada. But here’s the kicker: many of these culturally-significant objects have never been displayed. Museum storage sheds are full of literally millions of non-displayed, culturally-significant artefacts. In many cases, these objects were looted or stolen, and in many cases the museums knew this. Even worse, in many cases, the objects are actually deteriorating.

    I’ve decided that I am in favour of the return, if sought after, of all culturally-significant objects that had been removed in the last one or two hundred years improperly (by theft, trickery, or other illegal means), and which were important and known, used, or valued by their communities at the time of their removal. (Furthermore, I’m generally in favour of returning any category of object that has not been displayed or studied for research in the last hundred years.) Thus, the BM would probably have to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece, but not the Assyrian cherubim excavated by archaeologists to Iraq–though I would not be opposed to that, either, if the BM and Iraq were to arrive at an agreement.

    The main virtue of this dispersal of objects would be to make them more accessible. Instead of a only few large museums that can’t display their millions of objects even in a hundred years, there could be many small museums that can give the objects languishing in storage rooms greater exposure to the public. And of course the large museums of the world are going to be well-visited in any case–and with less storage space to pay rent on, and with fewer stored objects to pay conservators to look after, their economic health should improve, too.

    By the way, I don’t know the minute details of the two examples of permanent loans you so kindly provided, but I’ve learned that “permanent loan” agreements are a way for museums to get around laws, legal agreements, constitutional clauses, and donor agreements that obligate them not to deaccession objects.

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  • Jaim

    Heritage Foundation? Really?

    Let me guess — The Washington Times thought Obama did a bad job as well.

  • Ch

    The United States didn’t just lose more jobs, but they also lost credibility in my books. What wasn’t mentioned was that South Korea gift wrapped a concession to the US in auto. Except one thing. The US demanded at the last minute, that the US keep the 25% tariffs on any future Korean pickup truck exports to the US, plus the 30 month+ beef (which is a huge political bomb for Lee Myung Bak’s government). It makes it look like it was South Korea who refused to open up the market. South Korea should quietly drop it off the table and concentrating on FTA negotiations with other countries, as this negotiation with the US is straining the ties between both countries. The mood in the United States is increasingly isolationist and protectionist. They aren’t ready for another FTA when a majority of Americans think South Korea is taking away jobs from Americans, and get often mentioned in the same breath with China. Unfortunately, this American pull back will only strengthen China’s position in Asia further, as the US continues to steadily lose economic influence in the region.

  • Ed Kim

    Regarding the FTA, I like what CitiBank’s Laura Lane said about it:

    “Laura Lane, managing director and head of international government affairs of Citigroup, quipped that the KORUS-FTA, “seems like a no-brainer. You do not need to think inside or outside the box, you just need to think and more importantly to act.” Referencing the US recession, Lane posits active engagement through trade agreements as the surest way forward into economic prosperity. The time to act is now. Lack of effort towards effective cooperation should be seen as willful defiance of logic.”

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