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Presidential Elections 2014 – Brazil’s Big Day

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Mesmerizing Foreign Policy issues
On October 26th a new president will be elected in Brazil. The dispute is between Dilma Rousseff (left-wing) and Aécio Neves (center-right opposition), both originally from the state of Minas Gerais. This state plays an important role in Brazilian political history: it is the birthplace of the national hero, Joaquim José da Silva Xavier (Tiradentes), who was the leading member of the Brazilian independence from Portuguese colonial rule. Tiradentes’ aim was to create a Brazilian Republic, in the 18th century.

However, when his revolutionary plan was discovered, he was hanged in public square, becoming an icon of how to fight for independence. Minas Gerais is also the state that is most represented in the Brazilian presidency: since it has become a Republic, in 1889, eight presidents, including Dilma Rouseff, were originally from the southeastern Brazilian state. This next election will decide whether the number of presidents from Minas Gerais will grow or remain the same.

Dilma and Aécio have different backgrounds, although both candidates were born in the same city, Belo Horizonte, and have degree in Economics. Dilma, in her youth, fought against the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964-1985), in the 1970’s, was arrested and tortured by the military corps. After her release, she helped found a party (PDT), became the Secretary of Treasury of the city of Porto Alegre, and later the Secretary of Mines and Energy of the State of Rio Grande do Sul. It’s only in the 2000’s that she leaves the party she helped to found, PDT, due to internal disputes, and joins the Worker’s Party (PT). In the federal government, she was Minister of Mines and Energy (2003-2005), and Chief of Staff of the Presidency (2005-2010). In 2010 she was elected the 36th president of Brazil, but the 1st female to take office.
On the other hand, Aécio is the grandson of Tancredo Neves, who was an influential politician: Tancredo was Minister of Justice and Interior Minister (1953-1954), Prime Minister (1961-1962), Finance Minister (1962), and Governor of the State of Minas Gerais (1983-1984). In 1985, he was appointed by the military, in an indirect election, to become the president of the Brazil. Tancredo Neves, however, died before he took office. Aécio Neves was born in a strong political environment and has always pursued a political career. He started as his grandfather personal secretary (1985), served four terms as an elected deputy in the Federal Chamber of the Deputies (1987-2002), he became the President of the Chamber of Deputies (2001-2002), governor of the State of Minas Gerais (2003-2010), and Senator of the Republic (2011-2013).

Regarding governance they are divergent, but do not differ completely from each other. Although ideologically they are in different extremes, being the Workers’ Party (PT) the left wing, and Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) the right-center wing, they both intend to continue the Social Programs developed until now. In the second term of the elections, Dilma and Aécio claim “paternity” of Social Programs’ creation, such as the “Family Stipend” (Bolsa Família), which started during Lula da Silva’s (PT/2002-2010) government but could also have started during Fernando Henrique’s government (PSDB/1995-2002), whose financial aid to the less fortunate was given in the form of several stipends (Education, Gas, etc.). The Social Programs should be one of the most important topics in both candidates’ agenda, as Brazil still struggles in the fight against social and economic inequality.

In terms of Foreign Policy, which is a less debatable subject in Brazil, whoever wins the elections will face some challenges ahead. During Lula da Silva’s government, Brazil was a very active player, broadening its horizons through the creation of strategic partnerships with countries all over the world. Foreign Affairs thinkers and policy-makers gave Lula’s Foreign Policy the name of “autonomy by diversification” due to the dynamism of Brazil towards foreign matters. Before him, Fernando Henrique Cardoso also played an important role for Brazilian Foreign Policy, his Foreign Policy was known by “autonomy by integration”, in which his government established dialogues with both great powers and regional countries, by strengthening Mercosur, foreseeing an economic bloc that would improve commercial relations among its members.

From 2010 to 2014, however, there was a “changing of paths” in the Brazilian External Relations. Therefore, the future candidate will have to develop specific objectives for the Foreign Policy. The challenges lie in 3 subjects: Mercosur, United Nations Security Council Reform and BRICS. These three subjects are important because they belong to areas in which Brazil should focus if it wants to become a more active emerging power. Mercosur represents the regional surroundings that Brazil must be more attentive to, the UNSC reforms represent the global demands Brazil has and should continue to pursue as long as it does in accordance to internal changes, and lastly the BRICS that represents the multilateral way for Brazil to change world’s unipolar paradigm.

Mercosur
At the moment, Mercosur has some priorities, although it is not advancing. According to the Brazilian analyst Matias Spektor, the future of Mercosur is to remain as is. Ending Mercosur would mean high political and financial cost to Brazil, the best option therefore would be to strengthen what has already been established. The pragmatic option would be to look at the Pacific Alliance and to be inspired by their goals, particularly by the economic integration with Asia through a more active free trade agreeement. Mercosur should begin by establishing agreements with both the Pacific Alliance, and then with Asian countries, so that members’ economies are able to develop. Up to now, bilateral agreements with major economies and economic blocs are blocked.

It is indeed inconceivable that Mercosur members were the last countries in the World Bank ranking, which analyzes the business environment in Latin America: while the countries of the Pacific Alliance are among the top five, Mercosur are among the latter. The statism of the member countries of Mercosur needs to be modified because it is hampering economic relations with world. A more efficient free trade agreement should be considered in order to increase competitive advantage. The reformulation of Mercosur needs to be done, starting with a pragmatic reading of the current situation, in which outdated ideologies should be replaced by the dynamism of free trade.
United Nations Security Council Reform

The Brazil must insist on the reform of the Security Council, but before that, the discourse must be coherent and consistent with the Brazilian goals. If Brazil wants to be part of the political condominium, it needs a priori coordinate their strategies to maintain the uniformity of its narrative. It makes no sense pleading reforms without having the certainty that it will be able to hold their shares in the future. Moreover, beyond the idea to reform, Brazil has also to overcome the problems related to its Armed Forces, its performance in Peace Missions, its aid for the UN budget, and last but not least its lack of empathy and support in Latin America.

To want to be part of the new configuration of world power is an admirable demand, and should be part of the list of long-term external goals and challenges. In order to transform the global unipolarity into multipolarity is essential for the discussions of important global topics in a more balanced way. To demand for a reform, particularly in the highest body of the UN, which is clearly an outdated body that represents the world in a post-Second World War era, it represents something very worthwhile.

BRICS
The BRICS are the main arena of dialogue to Brazil. Besides this group, the G-20 (commercial and financial) and BASIC (environment) are also considered stages in which the emerging countries can discuss, analyze and facilitate its national interests. Both BRICS and IBSA are focused on issues of paramount importance to the development of each member country, as well as of countries in need of financial assistance and sectoral cooperation. Although it lacks institutionalization, it seems valid performance that countries have created to address global challenges (whether in groups or strengthening bilateral relations).

Currently, the BRICS have created a Development Bank, whose initial capital is 100 billion dollars. The Bank of BRICS creates a new multilateral paradigm, since it represents an alternative for the supply of infrastructure needs in developing countries. The challenge, however, is not to leave this arena collapse. Brazil should reinstate its foreign policy and its economy (according to The Economist, Brazil is among the weakest economies of the BRICS) in order to become a more active actor in the group, so to continue fighting in order to change global paradigms.

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Americas

A self-inflicted wound: Trump surrenders the West’s moral high ground

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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For the better part of a century, the United States could claim the moral high ground despite allegations of hypocrisy because its policies continuously contradicted its proclaimed propagation of democracy and human rights. Under President Donald J. Trump, the US has lost that moral high ground.

This week’s US sanctioning of 28 Chinese government entities and companies for their involvement in China’s brutal clampdown on Turkic Muslims in its troubled north-western province of Xinjiang, the first such measure by any country since the crackdown began, is a case in point.

So is the imposition of visa restrictions on Chinese officials suspected of being involved in the detention and human rights abuses of millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.

The irony is that the Trump administration has for the first time elevated human rights to a US foreign policy goal in export control policy despite its overall lack of concern for such rights.

The sanctions should put the Muslim world, always the first to ring the alarm bell when Muslims rights are trampled upon, on the spot.

It probably won’t even though Muslim nations are out on a limb, having remained conspicuously silent in a bid not to damage relations with China, and in some cases even having endorsed the Chinese campaign, the most frontal assault on Islam in recent history.

This week’s seeming endorsement by Mr. Trump of Turkey’s military offensive against Syrian Kurds, who backed by the United States, fought the Islamic State and were guarding its captured fighters and their families drove the final nail into the coffin of US moral claims.

The endorsement came on the back of Mr. Trump’s transactional approach towards foreign policy and relations with America’s allies, his hesitancy to respond robustly to last month’s missile and drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, his refusal to ensure Saudi transparency on the killing a year ago of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his perceived empathy for illiberals and authoritarians symbolized by his reference to Egyptian field marshal-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as “my favourite dictator.”

Rejecting Saudi and Egyptian criticism of his intervention in Syria, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the United States and Mr. Trump a blunt preview of what they can expect next time they come calling, whether it is for support of their holding China to account for its actions in Xinjiang, issues of religious freedom that are dear to the Trump administration’s heart, or specific infractions on human rights that the US opportunistically wishes to emphasize.

“Let me start with Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Erdogan said in blistering remarks to members of his Justice and Development Party (AKP). “Look in the mirror first. Who brought Yemen to this state? Did tens of thousands of people not die in Yemen?” he asked, referring to the kingdom’s disastrous military intervention in Yemen’s ruinous civil war.

Addressing Mr. Al-Sisi, Mr. Erdogan charged: “Egypt, you can’t talk at all. You are a country with a democracy killer.” The Turkish leader asserted that Mr. Al-Sisi had “held a meeting with some others and condemned the (Turkish) operation – so what if you do?”

The fact that the United States is likely to encounter similar responses, even if they are less belligerent in tone, as well as the fact that Mr. Trump’s sanctioning of Chinese entities is unlikely to shame the Muslim world into action, signals a far more fundamental paradigm shift:  the loss of the US and Western moral high ground that gave them an undisputed advantage in the battle of ideas, a key battleground in the struggle to shape a new world order.

China, Russia, Middle Eastern autocrats and other authoritarians and illiberals have no credible response to notions of personal and political freedom, human rights and the rule of law.

As a result, they countered the ideational appeal of greater freedoms by going through the motions. They often maintained or erected democratic facades and payed lip service to democratic concepts while cloaking their repression in terms employed by the West like the fight against terrorism.

By surrendering the West’s ideological edge, Mr. Trump reduced the shaping of the new world order to a competition in which the power with the deeper pockets had the upper hand.

Former US national security advisor John Bolton admitted as much when he identified in late 2018 Africa as a new battleground and unveiled a new strategy focused on commercial ties, counterterrorism, and better-targeted U.S. foreign aid.

Said international affairs scholar Keren Yarhi-Milo: “The United States has already paid a significant price for Trump’s behaviour: the president is no longer considered the ultimate voice on foreign policy. Foreign leaders are turning elsewhere to gauge American intentions… With Trump’s reputation compromised, the price tag on U.S. deterrence, coercion, and reassurance has risen, along with the probability of miscalculation and inadvertent escalation.”

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Trump’s effects on diplomacy

Irfan Khan

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No longer has Trump’s haphazard behaviour persisted, more will be easy for his administration to enact actions against China, Iran and Taliban. The state department is in a quandary because of it, on each front. Trump’s entrenched eagerness to remain “great” and “first” on the chessboard of International power, could damage the world more ahead than before.

Following the Iran’s attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia’s oil infrastructure, US wanted to deploy troops to the Kingdom. It is primarily a justification for why the US has been imposing sanctions over Iran. Is troops deployment a solution? Or will it provide safe horizon to Kingdom oil’s installation? Or will it be revolutionary in oil diplomacy? Or is it the only target retaliated on, by Iran. However, such kind of engagement has short term beneficiary spots, while in broader perspective it has consequential effects for all stakeholders. The episode of nuclear deal has, as a factor of quid-pro-quo, been further dramatised by the state department, withdrawing from. Notwithstanding, the deal has advantageous prospects for the Middle East, and an exemplary for rest of nations, has been further dramatised by the US, in order to seek its diplomatic wins. What significant at this point, is an agreement to reback to the deal.

Embracing a different economic model, China, is plausibly on a runner-up position to the US. Whether it’s 5G tech. Or leading status of green energy, or ultra-scales exports or its leading developments for the nations having indigent economies, is a source of chaos for US administration. The current trade war is an antidoting tool for the whole scenario. The US should, I assume, eye China’s hegemony a piece of cake, and welcome its come out while securing its interests under the umbrella of cooperation. This logic, while posing no threat, seems to be long term functional. Is it?

Trump, according to many native writers, is psychologically unfit, unstable and fickle, however have had strong narrative to prevent America’s engagement into “useless wars” and end “endless” wars. Following this token, Trump announcement of troop withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan put the world politics and even his administration into chaos. This divided strategists and Washington security officials, which was underpinned by the resignation of James Mattis and recently John Bolton. The ten months of peace process which followed the US’s announcement of troop withdrawal, precipitously ended, putting once again the international and national politics into chaos. Trump, grandiloquently fired a tweet that talks with Taliban are dead and futile. The argument he contended was the Attack in Kabil, where one American soldier with 12 other people were lost. The policymakers and high officials in Washington who already negated the policy of troop withdrawal and then after peace deal. They, of course are winner in this policy discourse, have staunch beliefs in their opinion, who may make Trump’s change of heart. The Kabil attack was given, probably, an agent of resurgent for Obama’s approach. However, Trump’s administration had already scripted their policy framework for the region, and pretending Kabul attack was perhaps a way of redemption from the peace talk.

Trump’s factor in US foreign policy was chaotic to his subordinates for which, he attempted to compensate by cancelling peace deal with Taliban. However , on the domestic front, it is likely to be more pluses than on diplomatic front given to Trump in next year’s presidential election. Let’s see which side the wind blow. 

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Americas

Trump Cannot Be Impeached Over Ukrainegate, But Pelosi and Schiff Can Be Charged Criminally

Rahul D. Manchanda, Esq.

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Pursuant to United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S. 304 (1936), the U.S. Supreme Court issued an unmistakable clear edict concerning the foreign affairs powers of the President of the United States.

In its majority opinion, the Court held that the President, as the nation’s “sole organ” in international relations, is innately vested with significant powers over foreign affairs, far exceeding the powers permitted in domestic matters or accorded to the U.S. Congress.

The Court reasoned that these powers are implicit in the President’s constitutional role as commander-in-chief and head of the executive branch.

Curtiss-Wright was the first decision to establish that the President’s plenary power was independent of Congressional permission, and consequently it is credited with providing the legal precedent for further expansions of executive power in the foreign sphere.

In a 7–1 decision authored by Justice George Sutherland, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. government, through the President, is categorically allowed great foreign affairs powers independent of the U.S. Constitution, by declaring that “the powers of the federal government in respect of foreign or external affairs and those in respect of domestic or internal affairs are different, both in respect of their origin and their nature…the broad statement that the federal government can exercise no powers except those specifically enumerated in the Constitution, and such implied powers as are necessary and proper to carry into effect the enumerated powers, is categorically true only in respect of our internal affairs.”

While the Constitution does not explicitly state that all ability to conduct foreign policy is vested in the President, the Court concluded that such power is nonetheless given implicitly, since the executive of a sovereign nation is, by its very nature, empowered to conduct foreign affairs.

The Court found “sufficient warrant for the broad discretion vested in the President to determine whether the enforcement of the statute will have a beneficial effect upon the reestablishment of peace in the affected countries.”

In other words, the President was better suited for determining which actions and policies best serve the nation’s interests abroad.

Period.

It is important to bear in mind that we are here dealing not alone with an authority vested in the President by an exertion of legislative power, but with such an authority plus the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations – a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress, but which, of course, like every other governmental power, must be exercised in subordination to the applicable provisions of the Constitution.

Separation of Powers Doctrine

In other words, neither the U.S. Congress nor the U.S. Senate can say or do very much of anything to prevent or interfere with this power, and if they do, they can in fact be held responsible for violating the Separation of Powers doctrine pursuant to the U.S. Constitution wherein the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) are kept separate.

This is also known as the system of checks and balances, because each branch is given certain powers so as to check and balance the other branches.

Each branch has separate powers, and generally each branch is not allowed to exercise the powers of the other branches.

The Legislative Branch exercises congressional power, the Executive Branch exercises executive power, and the Judicial Branch exercises judicial review.

National Security and Foreign Affairs

The Curtiss-Wright case established the broader principle of executive Presidential supremacy in national security and foreign affairs, one of the reasons advanced in the 1950s for the near success of the attempt to add the Bricker Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would have placed a “check” on said Presidential power by Congress, but that never passed, or became law.

If Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats really wanted to interfere with or prevent President Donald Trump from engaging in the activity that they are trying to prevent vis-a-vis Ukraine, China, and Joseph Biden’s alleged corruption and its effect on National Security, they would have to first draft, propose, enact, and pass sweeping legislation, and this could take years and would most probably never pass.

Even so, it could not affect President Donald Trump’s actions already occurred, since the U.S. Constitution prohibits ex post facto criminal laws.

Turning This All Against Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff

To that end if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Adam Schiff persist in pushing said “impeachment proceedings” against President Donald Trump, it is actually they who could find themselves on the wrong side of the law, with formal and actual charges of Treason, Sedition or Coup D’ Etat being levied upon them by the U.S. Government.

The consequences of that occurring, are truly horrific indeed.

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