Connect with us

Americas

The Beginning of History

Published

on

It has been almost more than a week as Mr. Trump has stepped into the White House. These 7 days saw the fulfillment of few promises. The White House was ringing with Executive Orders. Repealing of Trans-Pacific Partnership, Sanctioning Keystone and Dakota pipelines and halting the flow of funds for organizations that support abortion. How can we forget The Mexican Wall?

That too to be built from the money of Mexicans as he propose to impose 20% tax on imports from their southern neighbor. Mr. Trump seems to be in a state of self-delusion. Suffering from hallucinations. Globalization for him is dangerous. Trade, harmful. He seems to start a new chapter in the history of world. While the world moves ahead he seems to cling to the ancient arte-facts of nationalism and protectionism-albeit, and thankfully, not in its extreme form.

In his famous essay The End of History, Mr. Fukuyama, heralded that history has ended and that liberal democracy has won. That this is the only path to success. And that religious extremism, fascism, nationalism and communism will be threat for the world in achieving this liberal democracy. But entering into a new era where nationalism is going international, we have to stop and stare, engage in a retrospective inspection and see whether Mr. Fukuyama was able to peep into the future and even if he did how clear did he see. We will see that the history didn’t ended. Riding on this tide of time our world is more dynamic than ever before. I do not see end of history rather beginning of a new one. The world is forging new ideas and new theories. It seems we have to work all our way back to the ‘end of history as Fukuyama proposed.

It comes down to liberals and conservatives and the trouble with the liberals is that they have considered it as a natural process. An idea configured as a default setting in the minds aiming for success and stability. There, what may be termed, nescience for their duty to defend and redefine liberalism is a cause that many are now turning their face away from it. European Union, which was considered a prototype moving towards the ideal future World System has started to move apart and there is a support for “illiberal democracy in Hungary, Poland and beyond”. As it happened the shock of Brexit sent waves across the world. The financial markets rattled. The political soul recoiled. Nobody saw it coming. Mr. David Cameron, erstwhile PM of the United Kingdom, in an interview with Bloomberg retorted rather light-heartedly when he was asked “what is the plan B is Brexit happens? He said “We don’t have a plan B”. This absence cements his or the Remain camps confidence that was to be shattered into pieces, hurting not only the image of EU but also the GBP and its economy.

This current resuscitated some of the dormant parties in other European countries who are now ready to use the fuming Xenophobia, refugee crisis and joblessness to peddle their rightist agendas and nationalist motives. French election in May and then later that year in Germany and Netherlands are in limelight now-a-days. Also, by the end of March, the awaited and complex process of triggering the Article 50 begins. Now a flight to Latin America. Disembark: turmoil, financial and political, greets you at the door. Venezuela is debt ridden and is about to see a referendum against the incumbent president. Brazil just impeached its Premier.

In the US there are claims to play with the tariff and immigration laws. In the chants and slogans of “Making America Great again” there is a suppressed echo of economic nationalism. The Chinese sacking a US drone, their claim of the South China Sea, now bolstered, albeit unofficially and illegal, with the creation of the artificial islands is now a cause of concern for the West—rise of a Communist country. The Russian annexation of Crimean peninsula brings nostalgia (however horrifying) of the World War eras. When the nations were inebriated with the expansionist agenda. The Saudi’s baulking as they refused to play the role of the swing producer and the lifting of sanctions from Iran. The fighting, the harrowing tales of the horrors in Syria, the rise of war crimes. A shift in the geo-political situation of the Middle-East is hence another concern. The failed coup in Turkey and then the “purge” that has followed is a blatant rebuke for the liberalist mind-set.

If liberal democracy is the only path and that any country that wants achieve sustainable growth has to resort to capitalism is an idea that does not seem to quite fit in today’s world. Instead of democracy, liberalism and free markets people, of –late, are more tilted towards nationalism (economic and political) and other forms of government. Inclusive and exclusive populism is on the rise. Europe is a home to both. Refugee crisis (exclusive) and Brexit (inclusive).

There is no end to history, it is and will be a continuous process. We will go back and reach ahead. In this game of past and future minds and ideas may feel nauseated. What needs to be done is to hone the human concepts of ‘freedom, liberty and dignity. We are moving towards a new epoch. Where Multinationals are in retreat and nationalism, xenophobia seems on its zenith. The people, technology, businesses, values and life as a whole is changing. There is a need to, once again, rummage the history and trace out the way which has led us here-Here, at the beginning of a new history.

Independent Economic Analyst, Writer and Editor. Contributes columns to different newspapers. He is a columnist for Oilprice.com, where he analyzes Crude Oil and markets. Also a sub-editor of an online business magazine and a Guest Editor in Modern Diplomacy. His interests range from Economic history to Classical literature.

Continue Reading
Comments

Americas

Will Geneva Be Any Different Than Helsinki?

Published

on

Joe Biden
Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

Any meeting between the leaders of Russia and the U.S. is inevitably an important international event. At some point in history, such summits decided the fate of the entire world, and the world held its collective breath as it followed Kremlin-White House talks on strategic arms or the two sides seeking agreements on urgent regional problems or any political signals coming from the superpower capitals prior to another round of negotiations.

The bipolar era has long been gone, and the Russia-U.S. relations are no longer the principal axis of international politics, although the suspense over bilateral summits remains. As before, the two countries are engaged in “top-down” interaction. Summits give the initial impetus to Moscow and Washington’s cumbersome bureaucratic machines, then diplomats, military personnel and officials start their assiduous work on specific issues, collaboration between the two countries’ private sectors and civil society perks up, the media gradually soften their rhetoric, bilateral projects in culture, education and science are gradually resumed.

Still, there are annoying exceptions to this general rule. In particular, the latest full-fledged Russia–U.S. summit in Helsinki in July 2018 failed to trigger improvements in bilateral relations. On the contrary, Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Finland’s capital aroused massive resentment among the anti-Russian Washington establishment. Ultimately, on returning home, the U.S. President had to offer awkward apologies to his supporters and opponents alike, and relations between the two countries continued to rapidly deteriorate after the summit.

Surely, nobody is willing to see another Helsinki scenario in June 2021, this time in Geneva. Yet, do we have good reason to hope for a different outcome this time? To answer this question, let us compare Donald Trump and Joseph Biden’s approaches to Russia-U.S. summits and to bilateral relations at large.

First of all, in Helsinki, Trump very much wanted the Russian leader to like him. The Republican President avoided publicly criticizing his Russian counterpart and was quite generous with his compliments to him, which inevitably caused not only annoyance but pure outrage in Washington and in Trump’s own Administration. Joe Biden has known Vladimir Putin for many years; he does not set himself the task of getting the Russian leader to like him. As far as one can tell, the two politicians do not have any special liking for each other, with this more than reserved attitude unlikely to change following their meeting in Geneva.

Additionally, in Helsinki, Trump wanted, as was his wont, to score an impressive foreign policy victory of his own. He believed he was quite capable of doing better than Barack Obama with his “reset” and of somehow “hitting it off” with Putin, thereby transforming Russia if not into a U.S. ally, then at least into its strategic partner. Apparently, Biden has no such plans. The new American President clearly sees that Moscow-Washington relations will remain those of rivalry in the near future and will involve direct confrontation in some instances. The Kremlin and the White House have widely diverging ideas about today’s world: about what is legitimate and what is illegitimate, what is fair and what is unfair, where the world is heading and what the impending world order should be like. So, we are not talking about a transition from strategic confrontation to strategic partnership, we are talking about a possible reduction in the risks and costs of this necessarily costly and lengthy confrontation.

Finally, Trump simply had much more time to prepare for the Helsinki summit than Biden has had to prepare for Geneva. Trump travelled to Finland eighteen months after coming to power. Biden is planning to meet with Putin in less than five months since his inauguration. Preparations for the Geneva summit have to be made in haste, so the expectations concerning the impending summit’s outcome are less.

These differences between Biden and Trump suggest that there is no reason to expect a particularly successful summit. Even so, we should not forget the entire spectrum of other special features of the Biden Administration’s current style of foreign policy. They allow us to be cautiously optimistic about the June summit.

First, Donald Trump never put too much store by arms control, since he arrogantly believed the U.S. capable of winning any race with either Moscow or Beijing. So, his presidential tenure saw nearly total destruction of this crucial dimension of the bilateral relations, with all its attendant negative consequences for other aspects of Russia-U.S. interaction and for global strategic stability.

In contrast, Biden remains a staunch supporter of arms control, as he has already confirmed by his decision to prolong the bilateral New START. There are grounds for hoping that Geneva will see the two leaders to at least start discussing a new agenda in this area, including militarization of outer space, cyberspace, hypersonic weapons, prompt global strike potential, lethal autonomous weapons etc. The dialogue on arms control beyond the New START does not promise any quick solutions, as it will be difficult for both parties. Yet, the sooner it starts, the better it is going to be for both countries and for the international community as a whole.

Second, Trump never liked multilateral formats, believing them to be unproductive. Apparently, he sincerely believed that he could single-handedly resolve any burning international problems, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to North Korea’s nuclear missile programme.

Biden does not seem to harbor such illusions. He has repeatedly emphasized the importance of multilateralism, and he clearly understands that collaboration with Russia is necessary on many regional conflicts and crises. Consequently, Geneva talks may see the two leaders engage in a dialogue on Afghanistan, on the Iranian nuclear deal, on North Korea, or even on Syria. It is not at all obvious that Biden will succeed in reaching agreement with Putin immediately on all or any of these issues, but the very possibility of them discussed at the summit should be welcomed.

Third, Trump was not particularly fond of career diplomats and, apparently, attached little value to the diplomatic dimension of foreign policy. The Russia-U.S. “embassy war” had started before Trump—but not only did Trump fail to stop it, he boosted it to an unprecedented scale and urgency.

Sadly, the “embassy war” continues after Trump, too. Yet President Biden, with his tremendous foreign policy experience, understands diplomatic work better and appreciates it. Practical results of the Geneva summit could include a restoration of the diplomatic missions in Washington and Moscow to their full-fledged status and a rebuilding of the networks of consular offices, which have been completely destroyed in recent years. Amid the problems of big politics, consular services may not seem crucial but, for most ordinary Russians and Americans, regaining the opportunity for recourse to rapid and efficient consular services would outweigh many other potential achievements of the Geneva summit.

From our partner RIAC

Continue Reading

Americas

“Choose sides” is practically a bogus idea for US military partners

Published

on

“Choosing sides” is practically a non-starter for US military allies such as Japan and South Korea. These nations, first and foremost military allies of the US, are forging cordial and productive ties with other countries based on military alliances with the US. The nature and level of partnerships varies greatly from those of allies, despite the fact that they appear to be quite heated at times.

Military concerns have been less important in the postwar period, but economic concerns have been extremely heated, social and cultural interactions have been close, and the qualitative differences between cooperative relations and allies have gotten confused, or have been covered and neglected.

Some unreasonable expectations and even mistakes were made. In general, in the game between the rising power and the hegemony, it is undesirable for the rising power to take the initiative and urge the hegemony’s supporters to select a side. Doing so will merely reinforce these countries’ preference for hegemony.

Not only that, but a developing country must contend with not only a dominant hegemony, but also a system of allies governed by the hegemony. In the event of a relative reduction in the power of the hegemony, the strength of the entire alliance system may be reinforced by removing restraints on allies, boosting allies’ capabilities, and allowing allies’ passion and initiative to shine.

Similarly, the allies of the hegemonic power are likely to be quite eager to improve their own strength and exert greater strength for the alliance, without necessarily responding to, much alone being pushed by, the leader. The “opening of a new chapter in the Korean-US partnership” was a key component of the joint statement issued by South Korea and the United States following the meeting of Moon Jae-in and Biden. What “new chapter” may a military alliance have in a situation of non-war?

There are at least three features that can be drawn from the series of encounters between South Korea and the United States during Moon Jae-visit in’s to the United States: First, the withdrawal of the “Korea-US Missile Guide” will place military constraints on South Korea’s missile development and serve as a deterrence to surrounding nations. The second point is that, in addition to the Korean Peninsula, military cooperation between the US and South Korea should be expanded to the regional level in order to respond to regional hotspots. The third point is that, in addition to military alliances, certain elements in vaccinations, chips, 5G, and even 6G are required. These types of coalitions will help to enhance economic cooperation.

Despite the fact that Vice President Harris wiped her hands after shaking hands with Moon Jae-in, and Biden called Moon Jae-in “Prime Minister” and other rude behaviors, the so-called “flaws” are not hidden, South Korea still believes that the visit’s results have exceeded expectations, and that Moon Jae-in’s approval rate will rise significantly as a result.

The joint statement issued by South Korea and the United States addresses delicate subjects such as the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. Of course, China expresses its outrage. It is widely assumed that this is a “private cargo” delivered by Biden’s invitation to Moon Jae-in to visit the United States.

Moon Jae-in stated that he was not pressured by Biden. If this is correct, one option is that such specific concerns will not be handled at all at the summit level; second, South Korea is truly worried about the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea concerns and wishes to speak with the US jointly.

South Korea should be cognizant of China’s sensitivity to the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea concerns. When it comes to China-related concerns, the phrasing in the ROK-US joint statement is far more mild than that in the ROK-Japan joint declaration. Nonetheless, the harm done to South Korea-China ties cannot be overlooked.

South Korea highlights the “openness” and “inclusiveness” of the four-party security dialogue system, which allows South Korea to engage to some extent. South Korea will assess the net gain between the “gain” on the US side and the “loss” on the Chinese side. China would strongly protest and fiercely respond to any country’s measures to intervene in China’s domestic affairs and restrict China’s rise.

Continue Reading

Americas

Political Violence and Elections: Should We Care?

Published

on

The next Sunday 6th of June, the Chamber of Deputies along with 15 out of the 32 governorships will be up for grabs in Mexico’s mid-term elections. These elections will be a crucial test for the popularity of the president and his party, the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA). They currently hold majority in the Lower Chamber of the national Congress, and these elections could challenge this.

Recent national polls indicate that the ruling party, MORENA, is still the most popular political force in Mexico, and they are poised to win not only several governorships, but also several municipalities. They are also expected to maintain control of the Lower  Chamber, although with a loss of a few seats. In order to ensure MORENA keeps its current majority in the Congress, they have decided to pursue an electoral alliance with the Green Party (PVEM) and the Labout Party (PT). It is expected that with this move, they will be able to ensure the majority in the Chamber of Deputies in the Congress.

There is, however, another aspect that is making the headlines in this current electoral process: The high levels of political and electoral violence, The current electoral process is the second most violent since 2000. The number of candidates that have been assassinated is close to 30% higher than the mid-term electoral process of 2015. More than 79 candidates have been killed so far all across the country.

Insecurity in Mexico has been an ongoing issue that has continued to deteriorate during the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). AMLO has continually criticised his predecessors and the valid problems of their approaches to insecurity in Mexico along with the War on Drugs policy. However, to date, he has yet to offer a viable alternative to tackle the security problems he inherited. During his campaign, AMLO coined the phrase “abrazos no balazos” (hugs not bullets) to describe his approach toward improving security in Mexico. He believed that to successfully tackle the worsening crisis of insecurity, the structural conditions that forced people to commit crimes had to be addressed first: Namely inequality, poverty, low salaries, lack of access to employment etc. To date, insecurity in Mexico continues to worsen, and this had become evident during the current electoral process.

This nonsensical approach to insecurity has resulted in the first three years of his government reaching over 100,000 murders, along with the nearly 225,000 deaths as a result of the pandemic.

What should be particularly worrying in this spiral of violence, is the prevalence of political and electoral violence during the current process. Political violence represents not only a direct attack on democratic institutions and democracy itself, but it also compromises the independence, autonomy, and integrity of those currently in power, and those competing for positions of power. It affects democracy also because political violence offers a way for candidates to gain power through violent means against opposition, and this also allows organised crime to infiltrate the state apparatus.

Political violence is a phenomenon that hurts all citizens and actors in a democracy. It represents a breeding ground for authoritarianism, and impunity at all levels of government. This limits the freedoms and rights of citizens and other actors as it extinguishes any sort of democratic coexistence between those currently holding political power and those aspiring to achieve it. Political violence also obstructs the development of democracy as it discredits anyone with critical views to those in power. This is worrying when we consider that 49% of those assassinated belong to opposition parties. This increase in political violence has also highlighted AMLO´s inability to curtail organised crime and related violence.

Assassination of candidates is only the tip of the iceberg. Organised criminal groups have also infiltrated politics through financing of political campaigns. Most of electoral and political violence tends to happen an municipal levels, where it is easier for criminal groups to exert more pressure and influence in the hope of securing protection, and perpetuate impunity, or securing control over drug trafficking routes. This should be especially worrisome when there is close too government control in certain areas of the country, and there is a serious risk of state erosion at municipal level in several states.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

coronavirus people coronavirus people
Economy27 mins ago

Assessing the trends of Globalization in the Covid Era

Coronavirus largely represents acceleration in existing globalization trends, rather than a full paradigm shift. Globalization has ebbed and flowed over...

Reports2 hours ago

Zimbabwe’s Economy is Set for Recovery, but Key Risks Remain

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in Zimbabwe is projected to reach 3.9 percent in 2021, a significant improvement after a...

International Law4 hours ago

Carl Schmitt for the XXI Century

For decades, the scholars of international relations have confused the term “New World order” in the social, political, or economic...

New Social Compact5 hours ago

Educating Women in Pakistan: A Necessity For National Development

Education is fundamental to the success of any nation. Almost every developed nation recognizes its importance and lays great emphasis...

Economy7 hours ago

How has Russia’s economy fared in the pandemic era?

Authors: Apurva Sanghi, Samuel Freije-Rodriguez, Nithin Umapathi COVID-19 continues to upturn our lives and disrupt economic activity across the world....

Terrorism Terrorism
Intelligence8 hours ago

Incidents of Uranium Theft in India: Depleting Nuclear Safety and International Silence

In yet another incident of the capture of nuclear-related materials from unauthorized persons in India has made headlines in the...

Middle East13 hours ago

Iranians Will Boycott Iran Election Farce

Iran and elections have not been two synonymous terms. A regime whose constitution is based on absolute rule of someone...

Trending