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The voice for multilateralism in the U.S. never fades out

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As the U.S. presidential election of 2020 approaches unpredictably, people around the world wonder if the United States would continue its current foreign policy reiterated by the Trump administration over the past years. If so, whether the United States would return to its so-called unilateralism with the theme of “America first” policy or not? This is a tough question related to the globalized international community and particularly in view of the devastating effects of the Covid-19 to the world. Accordingly, how to defend multilateralism effectively will be one of the main challenges to all the countries of the world.

As a matter of fact, the debate between unilateralism and multilateralism is not a new issue. Two decades ago, Joseph Nye put it, there are three main approaches in terms of the global governance: isolationism, unilateralism, multilateralism. The first one persists in public opinion, but it is not a major strategic option for American foreign policy. Given this, the main battle lines are drawn between two kinds of internationalists, those who advocate unilateralism and those who prefer multilateral tactics. Politically and ideologically, some unilateralists advocate an assertive “damn-the-torpedo-approach” to promote American values, calling for multipolar moment into a unipolar era by all means. In brief, unilateralists hold that American intentions are good and its hegemony is benevolent. In contrast, pro-multilateralism groups have argued that since the beginning of the 20 century, America has risen to world power and then acted as the world leader. As Teddy Roosevelt advised that the United States should speak softly but carry a big stick. Due to the overarching power possessed by America, it is necessary for the U.S. to work with other nations on global issues in a multilateral manner whenever possible. For sure, multilateralism involves costs, but in a long run and in a larger picture, they are outweighed by the benefits. In a word, action to shape multilateralism now is a good investment for the future of the United States. No doubt, even some of the multilateral advocates put it that “not all multilateral arrangements are good or in America’s interests, and the United States should occasionally use unilateral tactics in certain areas or on some issues.”

In light of the previous argument, it is fair to say that “multilateralism is not under threat in most of the world. It is under threat because of the United States,” as economist Jeffrey Sachs remarked at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on February 5, 2020. As a prominent scholar and also a seasoned advisor to multinational corporations and foreign governments, Sachs believes that the U.S. was the predominant economic and technological power in the world for decades. Yet, with the emerging powers or regional economic blocs, this is no longer the case. For sure, the United States is still the most powerful country economically, technologically, and in particular militarily. But the prospect is that the EU is not only a larger market but also intends to be a responsible “civilian power” globally in the 21st century. Meanwhile, China is a comparable market and equally a determined rising power in an overall terms. In addition, it is a blunder to ignore the military power of Russia and the technological weight of Japan.

Turning to the domestic issue, Sachs frankly said that the U.S. by far is the most powerful military country in the world; and, no doubt, it has 6,000 nuclear warheads, 800 military bases around the world, let alone the U.S. have been evolved in 14 shooting wars right now. But it learns war after war that the military eventually can solve no political problems. He admitted that “the U.S. is a problem. It has been a far more significant problem with Donald Trump.” No matter if he may or may not be the President after November of 2020, the question is that the U.S. has become exactly more complicated for the world since 2017. For example, the United States has blocked every multilateral initiative in recent years. It is the only country pulling out the Paris Climate Agreement. It is the only country that pulled out the JCPOA Agreement with Iran. Moreover, Sachs openly recognized that the so-called trade war between China-U.S. is a fake or a joke. It is essentially a U.S. trade war on China. In doing so, Sachs is seen as an honest and respectful scholar with wide popularity across the EU and China as well.

Unlike the Trump administration or many other scholars if you like to call them as scholars, Sachs deemed that the U.S. attack on China is an unpremeditated and even not unitary in the United States. Due to the fact that China’s rising technological capacity such as Huawei and ZTE, the unilateralists in the U.S. policy-making began to realize that China is gaining massive technological capability in artificial intelligence and other security related areas. Because China’s talented youths are so huge with the great potentials, such as each year’s well-trained PhDs in the fields of sciences and technologies, the United States makes all efforts to maintain its solo hegemony which is itself at odds with the principle of the balance of power. As Sachs argued that historically there is no monopoly of knowledge, there is no monopoly of talent. This is driving U.S. strategists crazy because its grand strategy is based on primacy rather than shared responsibilities with other major powers or multilateral organizations.

It is self-evident that Sachs is a scholar but his vision is far-reaching and much more inspiring than any pundits in the U.S. He is a truly patriotic American but never be unilateralist. He argued that there is no U.S. primary, European primary or Asian primacy and likes. It is just fantasy of unilateralists who ignore the age of globalization and that is not how the world works anymore in the new century. Looking at what the Trump administration had done internationally, it has dismembered the WTO and abandoned the WHO. Accordingly, the U.S. has arbitrarily manipulated the exchange rate. Another case is that in January 2020 when Iraq requested the U.S. military forces out, the U.S. Treasury Department warned that it would confiscate Iraqi foreign exchange reserves at the New York Federal Bank, if Bagdad persists in pushing the U.S. troops out.“This is a complete violation of every international rule and this is also a reflection of an imperial power in decline,” as Sachs observed.

It is true that for many reasons the world can’t stop America’s hegemony even though it is a dangerous power or country. Yet, the nations over the world need to realize that it is beneficial to them to work together to promote the Paris Climate Agreement along with the G20 summits. In addition, the world needs to strengthen the role of the United Nations and other multilateral organizations such as IMF, the World Bank, WTO and currently the WHO. At the present time, the world should also be confident in China and other emerging powers. As Sachs put it, Trump and his team don’t have a majority backing at home and abroad as well. There is no attack on multilateralism as a policy that he could discern anywhere when traveling. But it is true that there is a fear of the United States and its irrational president in the White House today.

Looking into the future, we can see that although the world faces the multiple problems now, it is not in a dire time of multilateralism. Yet, the key problem is that if each country backs down one by one, then the bully from the unilateralism gets the way. Fortunately, the EU openly supports multilateralism, China has reiterated its resolve to defend the world order in line with the multilateralism and democratic global governance. Russia and Japan along with many other countries all over the world reject any arrogant claim of the “new Rome” or the title like the sole superpower. Meanwhile, since the United States is the indispensable nation in reconstructing the world order, the world always welcomes a powerful and responsible U.S. as one of the key players rather than a “new Rome” in the world affairs.

In sum, perhaps a Chinese saying serves a motto for the global village: “harmony with no uniformity”. This is not only the consensus of the international community or society but also a coordinated move forward to a shared future of community.

*Xie Hongyan & Jia Yumei are currently studying International Relations at School of International & Public Affairs, Jilin University. Meanwhile they are research assistants to the national security & development projects.

Xie Hongyan currently studying International Relations at School of International & Public Affairs, Jilin University. Research assistant to the national security & development projects.

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Americas

Flames of Globalization in the Temple of Democracy

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Authors: Alex Viryasov and Hunter Cawood

On the eve of Orthodox Christmas, an angry mob stormed the “temple of democracy” on Capitol Hill. It’s hard to imagine that such a feat could be deemed possible. The American Parliament resembles an impregnable fortress, girdled by a litany of security checks and metal detectors at every conceivable point of entry. And yet, supporters of Donald Trump somehow found a way.

In the liberal media, there has been an effort to portray them as internal terrorists. President-elect Joe Biden called his fellow citizens who did not vote for him “a raging mob.” The current president, addressing his supporters, calls to avoid violence: “We love you. You are special. I can feel your pain. Go home.”

That said, what will we see when we look into the faces of these protesters? A blend of anger and outrage. But what is behind that indignation? Perhaps it’s pain and frustration. These are the people who elected Trump president in 2016. He promised to save their jobs, to stand up for them in the face of multinational corporations. He appealed to their patriotism, promised to make America great again. Arguably, Donald Trump has challenged the giant we call globalization.

Today, the United States is experiencing a crisis like no other. American society hasn’t been this deeply divided since the Vietnam War. The class struggle has only escalated. America’s heartland with its legions of blue-collar workers is now rebelling against the power of corporate and financial elites. While Wall Street bankers or Silicon Valley programmers fly from New York to London on private jets, an Alabama farmer is filling up his old red pickup truck with his last Abraham Lincoln.

The New York banker has no empathy for the poor residing in the southern states, nothing in common with the coal miners of West Virginia. He invests in the economies of China and India, while his savings sit quietly in Swiss banks. In spirit, he is closer not to his compatriots, but to fellow brokers and bankers from London and Brussels. This profiteer is no longer an American. He is a representative of the global elite.

In the 2020 elections, the globalists took revenge. And yet, more than 70 million Americans still voted for Trump. That represents half of the voting population and more votes than any other Republican has ever received. A staggering majority of them believe that they have been deceived and that Democrats have allegedly rigged this election.

Democrats, meanwhile, are launching another impeachment procedure against the 45th president based on a belief that it has been Donald Trump himself who has provoked this spiral of violence. Indeed, there is merit to this. The protesters proceeded from the White House to storm Congress, after Trump urged them on with his words, “We will never give up, we will never concede.”

As a result, blood was shed in the temple of American democracy. The last time the Capital was captured happened in 1814 when British troops breached it. However, this latest episode, unlike the last, cannot be called a foreign invasion. This time Washington was stormed by protestors waving American flags.

Nonetheless, it is not an exaggeration to say that the poor and downtrodden laborers of America’s Rust Belt currently feel like foreigners in their own country. The United States is not unique in this sense. The poor and downtrodden represent a significant part of the electorate in nearly every country that has been affected by globalization. As a result, a wave of populism is sweeping democratic countries. Politicians around the world are appealing to a sense of national identity. Is it possible to understand the frustrated feelings of people who have failed to integrate into the new global economic order? Absolutely. It’s not too dissimilar from the grief felt by a seamstress who was left without work upon the invention of the sewing machine.

Is it worth trying to resist globalization as did the Luddites of the 19th century, who fought tooth and nail to reverse the inevitability of the industrial revolution? The jury is still out.

The world is becoming more complex and stratified. Economic and political interdependence between countries is growing each and every day. In this sense, globalization is progress and progress is but an irreversible process.

Yet, like the inhumane capitalism of the 19th century so vividly described in Dickens’ novels, globalization carries many hidden threats. We must recognize and address these threats. The emphasis should be on the person, his dignity, needs, and requirements. Global elites in the pursuit of power and superprofits will continue to drive forward the process of globalization. Our task is not to stop or slow them down, but to correct global megatrends so that the flywheel of time does not grind ordinary people to the ground or simply throw nation-states to the sidelines of history.

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Deliberate efforts were made to give a tough time to President Joe Biden

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Image credit: Todd Jacobucci/ flickr

President Trump-Administration is over-engaged in creating mess for in-coming President Joe Biden. The recent deliberate efforts are made to give a tough time are:  naming Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism, designating Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a foreign terrorist organization, Terming Iran as a new home to al-Qaida, and lifting restrictions on contacts between American officials and representatives from Taiwan.

The consequence may turn into dire situations, like a return to cold war era tension. Efforts were made to resume Cuba-US relations to normal for decades and were expected to sustain a peaceful co-existence. Any setback to relations with Cuba may destabilize the whole region. Pompeo’s redesignation of Cuba as a sponsor of state terror will possibly have the least material impact, but it signifies a personal loss to Biden and a momentous political win for Trumpism. In doing so, Trump is hitting the final nail in the coffin of Barack Obama’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba.

Yemen issue was a creation of Arab spring sponsored by the CIA, and after realizing the wrongdoings, the US was trying to cool down the tension between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, but with the recent move to name Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a foreign terrorist organization, may open new hostilities and bloodshed. It has been designated by UNICEF as the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with more than 24 million people — some 80 percent of the population — in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 12 million children.” Such statements may halt humanitarian assistance and may result in a big disaster.

The history of rivalries with Iran goes back to 1953 when the UK and the US jointly overthrew the legitimate government of Prime Minister Mossadeq. But the real tension heightened in 2018 When President Trump withdrew from JCPOA. But the recent allegation that Iran as a new home of al-Qaida may take a new turn and give a tough time to Joe Biden–Administration. Although there is no evidence, however, Secretary of State Pompeo made such an allegation out of his personal grudge against Iran. It can complicate the situation further deteriorate and even may engulf the whole middle-east.

Lifting constraints on contacts between American officials and representatives from Taiwan, is open violation of “One-China Policy.” Since Washington established formal diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979, it has resisted having official diplomatic associations with Taipei in order to avoid a confrontation with the PR China, which still comprehends the island — home to around 24 million people — as part of China. Chinese are very sensitive to the Taiwan issue and struggling for peaceful unification. However, China posses the capabilities to take over by force, yet, have not done so far. Secretary of State Mr. Pompeo’s statement may be aiming to instigate China and forcing toward military re-unification. It might leave a challenging concern for Joe Biden-Administration.

Raffaello Pantucci, a senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said, “The Trump administration is locking in place a series of conflicts that change the starting point for Biden walking into the office on the world stage.”

Even Mr. Pompeo had a plan to travel to Europe to create further hurdles for in-coming administration, but fortunately, some of the European countries refused to entertain him, and desperately he has to cancel his trip at the eleventh hours.

It is just like a losing army, which destroys all ammunition, weapons, bridges, infrastructures, etc., before surrendering. Although President Trump’s days in office are numbered, his administration is over-engaged in destruction and creating hurdles for the next administration. He is deliberately creating hurdles and difficulties for President-Elect Joe Biden.

President Joe Biden has many challenges to face like Pandemic, unrest in the society, a falling economy, losing reputation, etc. Some of them might be natural, but few are specially created!

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Americas

Latin America and the challenges for true political and economic independence

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Latin America – and its core countries, namely Brazil, Argentina and Mexico – has become a region of high global strategic value due to its vast territory, abundant resources, great economic development, unique geographical position and active role in global and regional governance.

Factors such as history, geography and reality, combined with the complexity of the region’s internal political logics, have once again made Latin America a place where major powers pay attention to and play key games.

Latin America’s cooperation with ‘external’ powers has become ever closer, leading to unfounded suspicions and malicious provocations among the countries of the region concerned.

What bothers ‘democrats’ and ‘liberals’ is the presence in the area of countries without a colonialist and exploitative past.

Historically, Latin America and the Caribbean were the coveted location of various Western forces. Since the Latin American countries’ independence – and even today – large countries inside and outside the region have competed in this area.

The complexity and uncertainty of the current global political and economic situation in Latin America lie behind the competition between the major powers in geopolitics and international relations.

Latin America’s vast lands and resources are linked to global food security, the supply of agricultural and livestock products, and energy security. It is an important ‘product supplier’ that cannot be neglected.

Latin America has a huge surface of over 20 million square kilometres, covering four sub-regions of North America (Mexico), the Caribbean, Central America and South America, with 33 independent countries and some regions that are not yet independent, as they are tied to the burden of the old liberal-colonialist world.

Latin America is blessed with favourable natural conditions. For example, it has become a well-known ‘granary’ and ‘meat provider’ because of its fertile arable land and abundant pastures. It is an important area  for the production of further agricultural and livestock products. At the same time, other countries in the region have huge reserves of natural resources such as oil and gas, iron ore, copper and forests, and have become important global suppliers of strategic materials.

Secondly, the Latin American region has a relatively high level of economic development and has brought together a number of important emerging economies – a significant global market that cannot be ignored.

The Latin American region plays an important role in global economy. Brazil and Mexico are not only the two largest economies in Latin America, but also the top 15 in global economy.

At the same time, recent calculations on 183 countries (regions) with complete data from the World Bank and related studies show that the group consisting of Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, etc., has entered the ranking of the “30 emerging markets” (E30) worldwide. According to World Bank statistics, Latin America’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018 was about 5.78 trillion dollars and the per capita GDP exceeded 9,000 dollars. With the exception of a few, most countries in Latin America are middle-income and some have entered the high-income ranking.

Therefore, Latin America has become a large consumer market that cannot be ignored due to its relatively high level of economic development, high per capita income and a population of over 640 million people.

Indeed, as Latin American region with a high degree of economic freedom and trade openness, it has been closely connected with the economies of other regions in the world through various bilateral and multilateral agreements, initiatives and free trade mechanisms.

Thirdly, Latin America’s unique geographical position has a significant impact on global trade, shipping and climate change.

Latin America is situated between two oceans. Some countries border on the Pacific, or the Atlantic, or are even bathed by both oceans. This special position gives the Latin American region the geographical advantage of achieving ‘transpacific cooperation’ with the Asian region or building a link of ‘transatlantic cooperation’ with the European region. Thanks to the Panama Canal, it is the fundamental hub for global trade.

Besides its strategic relevance for food security and clean energy production, the Amazon rainforest, known as the ‘lungs of the earth’, has a surface of over six million square kilometres, accounting for about 50% of the global rainforest. 20% of the global forest area and the vast resources covering 9 countries in Latin America have become one of the most important factors influencing global climate change.

Finally, as an active player in the international and regional political and economic arena, Latin America is a new decisive force that cannot be neglected in the field of global and regional governance.

Firstly, as members of organisations such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the major Latin American countries are both participants in and creators of international rules.

Moreover, these countries should be considered from further aspects and viewpoints of multilateralism.

The major Latin American countries, particularly regional powers, such as Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, are members of the G20. Brazil belongs to both BRICS and BASIC.Mexico, Chile and Peru are within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Mexico, Peru and Chile are members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), while Mexico and Chile are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

They are playing an irreplaceable role in responding to the economic crisis and promoting the reform of global governance mechanisms; in promoting the conclusion of important agreements on global climate change; in advancing economic cooperation between the various regions; in leading ‘South-South cooperation’ between developing countries and in holding a dialogue on the main current issues (opposition to unilateralism, protectionism, protection of multilateralism, etc.).

It must also be said that Latin American countries are naturally also active in regional organisations and institutions – such as the Organisation of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, etc. – so that they can participate directly and try to oppose U.S. hegemonism.

Within the Latin American region, these countries first initiated a process of cooperation and integration and later established various sub-regional organisations -such as Mercosur (Mercado Común del Sur-Mercado Comum do Sul) and Alianza del Pacífico (Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru) – to cooperate with other regions of the world and shake off the unfortunate definition of “America’s backyard”.

Located in the Western Hemisphere, where the well-known superpower is present, Latin American countries have long been deeply influenced by the United States in politics, economics, society and culture.

In 1823, the United States supported the Monroe Doctrine and drove the European countries out of Latin America with the slogan ‘America for the Americans’, thus becoming the masters of the Western Hemisphere.

The Monroe Doctrine also became a pretext for the United States to interfere in the internal affairs and diplomacy of Latin American countries.

In 2013, 190 years after the aforementioned declaration, the United States publicly declared that the Monroe Doctrine era was over and emphasised the relationship on an equal footing and the shared responsibility between the United States and Latin America.

Nevertheless, the current Latin American politics shows once again that the end of the so-called ‘Monroe Doctrine’ era is nothing more than a common myth.

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