INSIDE OUT: For politicians, the boundaries of the state have moved in a way that empowers them at the expense of companies, markets and citizens

INSIDE OUT: For politicians, the boundaries of the state have moved in a way that empowers them at the expense of companies, markets and citizens - They may not admit it but the latest crop of western politicians love war and military conflict. It is that

by ROBERT PESTON, editorial director of Quest (www.csquest.com)E-mail: rpeston@csquest.com.

They may not admit it but the latest crop of western politicians love war and military conflict. It is that rare moment when what they say and do really matters.

The point is that so much of ministers' responsibilities in 'normal' times amounts to good housekeeping. Any really big decisions are preceded by months of analysis by legions of civil servants and then interminable debate by elected representatives. The gap between word and deed can be many years. Meanwhile, in the borderless, globalised economy, it is arguable that the CEOs of big companies or central bankers are at least as powerful as senior cabinet members - probably more so.

However, since 11 September, Tony Blair has had to make life-or-death choices under inordinate time pressure. Even the chancellor has been forced to make snap decisions that have profound consequences for the health of the economy.

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