Ten Things to Ponder in The Trump-Biden Race and What About Africa?
One of my primary and secondary school classmates now a facebook friend ,said I was bold to say anything about the U.S.Presidential race at this time.Afterall in key states it has and will take some long days and nights since polls closed in America this past Tuesday before mail and absentee ballots are fully counted. Every ballot hopefully in this unprecedented American turnout. I hope mine will be among that critical number in Atlanta, Georgia. For Biden-Harris need I say or add?
What we have been hearing about mostly are the results of walk in poll voters and mail and absentee votes counts in progress. What the issue is happens to be the largeness of the swing states for the most part in the Midwest,and one each in the Northeast and Southeast as routes to Electoral College victory , the magic number 270 votes, which matters in American Presidential elections, not the popular vote like in so many other democracies.
Things have been tense to say the least with Trump trying to stop the legitimate vote counting and both Democrats and Republicans especially the later gearing up or actually filing recount law suits and counter suits. This was expected to happen given Trump’s sowing false seeds about election fraud and the Democrat Party’s Biden not making the year 2000 Gore and to a lesser extent, 2016 Clinton premature concession mistakes. More possible delays? Be patient, who knows in this not as problematic election process as predicted though so replete with election reform needs which more than likely continue well beyond the old age of children just now being born.
Even in the midst of this Presidential election uncertainty there are 10 firm observations we can make at this time; including future implications for the continent of Africa depending who wins the White House.
Joe Biden- Kamala Harris were in mainstream media and pollster terms trending ahead of Trump-Pence for weeks if not months. So, my first solid observation is the failure of the media and pollsters let alone academic experts in Presidential electoral politics, an increasinly deepeening problem since the year 2000 election year getting worse by the Presidential election year.
Both media and polling corporations while claiming impartiality and even scientific basis are increasingly the instruments of partisan big money interests disconnected from ordinary citizens values, attitudes, preferences, and real life conditions. There is this benign ignorance if not more than a bit elitist and ethnocentric presumption among pollsters like survey methodologists in the basic social and policy sciences that what people share with you, especially when you are a stranger is the truth.This is a deepening problem when there are cultural differences even in voice accents between interviewers and interviewees over the phone or particularly in person when interviewer- interviewee voice tone differences are exacerbated with visible skin tone and gender differences. As well, there are always the problem of who consents to be interviewed and who does not and how who says yes may skew population representation. In our overzealousness to make poll results into our secularized sacred texts we forget all of these and other issues which contaminate poll data collection and analysis resulting in, to say the least, inaccurate statistical data presentations and predictions.
Trump actually improved his performance from 2016 in terms of the popular vote and among African American and Latino especially male voters and white women.He ironically slightly underperformed with White men.He held onto dominating the rural and most of the southern vote and lost as predicted mostly in the suburbs and big cities.Biden outperformed 2016 Clinton in white middle and wealthy class suburbs in Wisconsin and Michigan and ate into Trump’s 2016 victories in those places. In both of those Midwestern States and in Pennsylvania and in Georgia, it is Biden team’s turning out big city African American voters which would be key to Biden being competive against Trump in those States if not eventually defeating him.Southern rural African American voters is a different story.
The economic and socioemotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic did not outweigh the improvement of the economy and stock market performance for middle and wealthy classes and the White working class in the Midwest. It is beyond amazement that despite being able to make more money during the past four years, the anti-scientific clowning of Trump regarding Corona which infected him and his followers, tragically killing more than a few or their loved ones did not faze a significant number of his true believers enough to turn against him.But that is precisely how cults operate, though still amazing with no amusement to behold.
The Biden-Harris moderate ticket strategically errored in snubbing the left and youthful Latino leaders, especially Alexandria Ortiz Cortez and not knowing how to strategically address the concerns of Black Lives Matter and the George Floyd protest in creating a coherent public message about racial and class justice aligned with other quality of life issues in a deeply hurting society such as universal healthcare, guaranteed income, guest worker immigration policies, national moratorium on evictions,and law enforcement reform not only in regards to the police but to rehabilitation of the ex-incarcerated. It was inexcusable in how they allowed Bernie Sanders and his followers to be demonized by the mainstream media and by Trump and his Republican cronies and not push back agressively against them in Miami Cuban, Haiti, and Venezuelan immigrant communities regarding Socialism fears. It is a puzzle as to why the Democratic Party establishment has yet to get it in effectively recruiting and mobilizing Latino voters in their various local and regional cultural identities and histories given their propensity to vote ,in fact ,moreso than African Americans . And even thinking they really can do without the Latino vote. This also points to the possible marginalization if not exclusion of Kamala Harris, an African American Californian quite experienced with the powerful statewide Chicano leadership and electorate in the deliberations of her Party’s and Biden’s strategizing in this case about the vital importance in mobilizing the Latino vote in its national diverse complexities.
While Republicans are into organizing and mobilizing their constituencies and feeding their constituencies well once in office as seen in the behavior of Trump and the Republican Senators who won or won again, Democrats are not so good about doing that. President Obama was in most respects a sporadic constituencies mobilizer and pleaser ; nothing like mass rally obsessed Trump.During Obama’s two terms, he was largely disconnected from two major constituencies which would be repeated by Hilary Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020 in being overly paternalistic and presumptive rather than engaging : young people and African Americans especially those in both constituencies who are rural, poor, and undereducated.Ignoring their Latino constituency in its various ethnic regional dynamics cost Biden more than Clinton in the Midwest as well as in Florida.With this said, Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate indicates how out of touch he is with his Black constituency base especially where it was most important, in the rural deep south and poor urban north and west. Harris had little value addedness in rural areas where Democrats need to get with it in all over the country especially the South and Midwest, turned off African American and Latino men and had no common message with the African American poor especially in the deep south and in urban areas. Her California prosecutor background and tendency not to be transparent and even remorseful for her perceived bias against African American men in criminal justice situations made her less than appealing among Black men in and out of California.
African American Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama with ten years federal electoral experience would have been a much better choice to pull in the Georgia and Alabama and even Mississippi African American vote not only for Biden but for the Senate races in those States. The 2020 African American nonvote in the rural deep south and southeast was higher than in 2016 and in the 2008 and 2012 Obama-Biden election years. It is the reason why Biden has struggled in North Carolina like in other rural African southern areas where Black folks did not go to the polls. In general, it speaks to the bourgeois African American politician problem which is a Democratic Party taboo topic which Trump did exploit from time to time during the past four year such as his boasts of doing much more for African Americans than Barak Obama and criticisms of the impoverished urban constituencies of late Congressmen Elijah Cummings and John Lewis.Trump’s criticism could have been extended to the class difference problems bourgeois African American politicians running for statewide offices like twice Senator aspirant Mike Epsy in Mississippi and Governor aspirant Stacy Abrams in Georgia had relating to nonaffluent rural as well as urban potential voters and their communities.
The United States of America is a conservative to the right of center country which Republicans represent and understand quite well while Democrat leadership may understand but refuses to engage through developing a big tent multiple ideology approach to party composition. The pro-life, anti-abortion, heterosexual marriage and family, and evangelical religiousity moral views of the Republican Party is broadly appealing to millions of Nonwhite, especially African Americans and Latino Americans as well as White Americans in ways which the Democratic Party neoliberal leadership refuses to acknowledge let alone respect. This has made it difficult for different thinking more moderate and conservative nonwhites to leave the Democratic party and become independent or vote Republican.Or be nonvoters.
Through our night to morning in Mauritius 9 to 12 hours ahead of the United States, there are changes as mailed and absentee ballots are counted mostly leaning towards Biden in swing states such as Nevada and Georgia which if won would give him the 6 electoral votes to win. If Biden does win, he will be faced with a Republican dominated Senate which means having to do much through Executive Orders and through his Cabinet Ministries .He will though be able to use his powers to appoint more progressive federal judges and restore more positive international affairs like rejoining the Paris Climate Control Agreement and sending out more collaborative Ambassadors and hopefully rebuilding the State Department. But House of Representatives vote results tell us that Biden will face an even more left of center House ,which will also be more challenging to the House aging moderate establishment , which he will be unable to snub.If Biden and Harris don’t find ways to share power with the left wing of the House and Democratic Party and if the Republican Party remains under the thumb of Trump white nationalism in defeat, we will probably see in 2024 third party emerge stemming from disgruntled persons from both dominant parties and independents feeding off the incredible unprecedented 2020 electoral energy with 102 million early voters. Remember Congresswoman Alexandria Ortiz Cortez turns 35 before election day in 2024, the minimal age to run for President in the United States. Just saying.
The bewildering question on the minds of many in the United States and around the world is how could this Presidential race be so close in the first place?There was no blue wave landslide morally repudiating four years of a Presidential administration renowned for its lying, fanning racist divisiveness, promotion of violence, and federal law bending and breaking let alone being just concerned about the wealthy and indifferent if not hostile to science in the midst of a virus which has infected millions of us and killed tens of thousands of us while they have been more concerned with the politics of remaining in office. Just being mean, nasty, and hateful as a crystallizing diffusive norm if not value being transmitted by an amoral narcisstic indeed sadistic sick White House and being picked up and internalized by our children and adults of all ancestries and walks of life and those in the world who gulp down anything American. Though the guy is close to winning again, now remotely but still possible.Why?
New York Times columnist Thomas Freidman reminds us in his sobering essay on no matter who wins America loses about something mainstream elite media and public intellectuals let alone public policy makers have pointed out with too much reluctance but needs more transparency and effective problem solving.That is, the 2016 election of Donald Trump, his White nationalist base, and how close this election is with mostly Whites supporting him regardless of their political ideologies and economic standing speaks of the massive White fear of the changing demographics of power and privilege from White to Nonwhite domestically and globally. The predictions of America becoming majority Nonwhite by 2060 is already here already in so many significant ways and places as seen in the demographics of many major cities in America and in major higher education sectors such as elite private and public universities and community colleges and in public health and legal sectors as well as in consumer retail and other service areas. In the area of racial prejudice studies, the closeness of this Presidential race tells us volumes about the deep multigenerational roots in the character of how most of we Americans tend to be sociaized which will take much more than protest movements to eradicate authentically.It will be interesting to see what whoever wins does about systemic restorative justice transformation–Biden-Harris breaking out of the useless patronizing neoliberal moderate approach to needed authentic restorative justice intercultural inclusive power sharing or Trump-Pence, lame ducks no longer needing White nationalists who swing more to the left as populists of expanding economic advantages to the White and Nonwhite poor as Trump has promised to do if re-elected. Otherwise we will continue to decline as a nation with paradoxical false smiles with prejudiced attitudes and covert prejudicial practices so well documented in notions such as the Brady affect and in this case being being politically correct liberals of all ancestries and hues as well as White nationalists spooked with deep fears of Racial Others over running the country.
About Africa, at first glance, it makes little difference who wins, be it Trump-Pence or Biden-Harris, the continent will on one hand continue to be ignored and on the other hand approached in obsolete patronizing Cold War ways. Biden’s neoliberal moderate campaign foreign policy statements read like Trump’s Making America Great Again but as a Cold War global interventionist wishing to reassert impositional American super power and should add White Supremacy hegemony rather than White Supremacy isolationism. Biden’s well meaning plans to reconvene such neoliberal colonialism will be met with a realignment of the world order now tilting East with China and India in the middle with emerging new global savvy African generational elites. Not the same world Obama and he did little to engage empathetically and negotiate in their emerging terms. While the Trump administration will do its level best to continue to ignore Africans, fight the Chinese like John Wayne would, and embrace Prime Minister Modi of India and other nationalist leaders in the world, Biden will at least be willing to listen and learn.
Our saving grace in all this is that as was shown though ignored in the Obama-Biden first term, the positive White elite response to the racial injustice messaging of the Black Lives Matter movement and the George Floyd protests is that there are powerful priviledged Whites ready and willing to join Nonwhite citizens in transforming America into an authentic rather than neoliberal cosmetic interculturally opening demorcracy. This is seen in the millions if not billions such inclusive justice White and NonWhite philanthropists are donating to racial justice causes though with needed guidance in how to construct national master restorative justice dialogues and problem solving American government and civil society institutions of all levels must learn how to effectively design, implement, and monitor/ evaluate in ways never done before.
Either way no matter who becomes President, there is an opportunity for Mauritiusians and other Africans to strategically advocate their interests in American foreign policy circles. This will take more sophisticated understanding of how America works and does not work in public and private sectors in all levels of government and civil society; something which by the way the Chinese as a superpower is very poor at doing.This requires building in Mauritius and in other African countries, more savvy partnerships with American public and private institutions and movements which can help them better negotiate their interests be it education, climate control, health, etc. Rather than sitting back and waiting for Americans and other westerners to toss them any bones from the master’s table they want, Africans must boldly rise, and write and deliver to the helms of western powers like the next USA President what they want to do to promote their own interests as vocal front seat drivers rather as silent backseat passengers.In doing so, Africans in this day and age of the 21st Century in which Africans and Asians are globally centerfold, the response to our own empowering vision of ourselves as essiential sitters at global tables of power just may be the liberation we deserve to have to embrace to liberate ourselves..finally.
Air Balloon and U.S.-China Relations
The story of the Chinese Automatic Drifting Balloon (ADB) violating the U.S. airspace in late January–early February 2023 will be a symbolic marker for a new phase of deterioration in the US-China relations.
The relations were rapidly eroding throughout 2022 and early 2023. In some aspects, U.S.-China relations in 2022 evoked obvious associations with U.S.-Russian relations in 2021. While trying to engage in cooperation with Beijing on certain issues (particularly on Ukraine), Washington simultaneously kept imposing increasingly painful sanctions against the country.
Among important steps recently taken in this direction, there have been restrictions on supplies of advanced microchips and equipment for their production to China, effective since October 2022, as well as the pressure exerted on Japan and the Netherlands (key manufacturers of equipment for the microelectronics industry) to join these restrictions. Licenses to supply virtually any components and equipment to China’s Huawei have been terminated, and a significant number of sanctions were imposed on smaller Chinese companies and individuals.
Most of the Chinese measures have been defensive and involved steps to ensure the security of production chains and the national economy. In the meantime, Beijing is also discussing measures to limit certain items of Chinese exports, with potential thermonuclear consequences. Semi-finished products, raw materials and equipment for the production of solar panels can be affected—given China’s monopoly on a number of products, this could be a shock for the renewable energy industry in the West.
The visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in early August 2022 played a disastrous role in the military and political situation in East Asia. That trip, despite repeated warnings from Beijing, triggered a period of rapid increase in Chinese military activity around Taiwan, which still continues.
Chinese activities include numerous live-fire exercises in the waters around the island, large groups of combat aircraft and drones flying along the island’s perimeter, and systematic violations of the median line in the Taiwan Strait by PRC ships and aircraft. For its part, the U.S. is increasing military aid to Taiwan, although it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so against the backdrop of ongoing hostilities in Ukraine.
The November 2022 meeting of Xi Jinping and Joseph Biden in Bali was similar in content to the Geneva summit of Biden and Vladimir Putin in June 2021. We saw similar attempts to achieve at least partial stabilization of relations, establishing rules of the game, unblocking channels for political communication by creating joint working groups, and the same predictable failure. So far, we can only hope that the final outcome of these efforts will not be so disastrous as the one between Moscow and Washington.
The U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s visit was canceled due to the balloon incident, while it was supposed to restore the ruined channels of dialogue. The U.S.-Chinese relation is still lagging far behind the U.S.-Russian relationship in matters of mutual alerting, preventing dangerous incidents, and maintaining emergency channels of communication, where relevant experience has continuously been accumulated since the 1960s. Given the rapid progress of China’s transformation into a new nuclear superpower, conservation of this situation could be dangerous.
Nothing more was expected from Blinken’s visit – no U-turn in relations, no strategic deals, including those concerning Beijing’s positions on the Ukrainian issue. Now, the visit has been postponed indefinitely and the dialogue has been suspended amid the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the Pacific.
The circumstances of the very incident with the Chinese ADB over the United States allow us to take a fresh look at the behavior of China’s leadership in the heating confrontation with the United States. According to U.S. military statements, the ADB shot down on February 4, 2023 was the fourth Chinese apparatus to violate U.S. airspace. The previous three ADBs that visited the U.S. during Donald Trump’s tenure were not detected by U.S. airspace controls in time, and the Americans became aware of their existence belatedly via intelligence channels.
If this is true, China is deliberately and systematically doing what the USSR never afforded during the entire Cold War—flying reconnaissance aircraft directly over U.S. territory. For its part, the U.S. used ADBs on a large scale for flights over the USSR and the PRC in the 1950s and 1980s, and the explanation of their purpose was exactly the same as that used by the Chinese now: border violations due to navigation error or malfunction, meteorological research, observations of airstreams, etc.
China’s contemporary political culture attaches great importance to careful observance of the principle of reciprocity, avoiding situations that could be interpreted as Beijing’s recognition of its unequal position vis-à-vis any major power. This is partly due to the severe historical trauma of the “century of humiliation” in 1840–1945, a time of foreign domination over China.
The current use of the ADB over the United States is by no means a retaliation against historical grievances. Rather, it is a response to some U.S. actions within its “freedom of navigation patrols” in the South China Sea, where U.S. ships and aircraft deliberately violate 12-mile territorial water zones around a number of Chinese-controlled islands. The Americans justify their behavior by saying that these Chinese islands are artificial and do not create rights to territorial waters.
Surely, China believes that the Americans are violating the integrity of its national territorial. From China’s perspective, the U.S., as a power external to the region, should not interfere in any of its territorial disputes with the countries of Southeast Asia. Besides, the high activity of U.S. reconnaissance aircraft along China’s borders—and sometimes over disputed water bodies—has long been a matter of Chinese concern.
From China’s perspective, the use of ADB over U.S. territory may well look like an appropriate response to the U.S. actions. Chinese leaders may have seen this action as a necessary step to confirm China’s status as a great power equal to the United States, even if only a limited number of people knew about these operations for the time being.
The political motivation behind the use of the ADB can also be discerned in the Chinese response to the incident. In a normal situation, if the balloon lost control and inadvertently entered (or risked entering) U.S. airspace, the owner would have contacted the Americans, provided the necessary data and information, and tried to avoid a fallout.
China, for its part, responded to the incident only twelve hours after Pentagon’s statement to that effect. There was a dry statement from the PRC about the loss of control of the weather balloon due to force majeure, for which “regret” was expressed.
Shortly thereafter, China declared that it would not tolerate “hype and speculation” about the balloon and accused the United States of indiscriminate and excessive use of force after it was shot down, threatening some “consequences.”
Under the circumstances, it is difficult to assess this as anything other than China’s deliberate humiliation of the United States as well as demonstration of its own strength and confidence. The Chinese consciously chose this course of action in the run-up to Blinken’s visit—now, as the conflict in Ukraine is escalating, the U.S. is more interested in dialogue than the PRC.
The Americans had to choose between continuing the dialogue in a poorer bargaining position after the humiliation they had endured and abandoning the dialogue altogether. The reaction of American public opinion predetermined the choice for the latter. However, this decision was apparently not easy to make.
The visit has not been canceled, but postponed, and the U.S. will probably look for opportunities to carry out negotiations in the not-too-distant future while saving face. Alongside with Blinken’s visit, there were plans for an even more important visit to China, to be paid by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. On February 9, 2023, Yellen announced that she was still planning a trip to China, although it was not yet possible to give a date.
The incident has shown that the Americans are not overly prepared for a tough confrontation with a comparable superpower as soon as it stops playing at giveaway with them. As it turned out, the few previous Chinese ADBs had not been detected at all, and the last one was shot down only after it had crossed the entire U.S. territory, flying over, among other things, an intercontinental ballistic missile base.
There is nothing surprising or particularly embarrassing about it: the ADB is an extremely difficult aerial target because of its low radar visibility, extremely low speed, and a very high flight altitude. The Soviet Union has been practicing its tactics against ADB for decades. The ability to counter such targets was taken into account in the design of some Soviet air defense interceptors. These include, for example, the MiG-31 still in service in Russia, which has the highest maximum flight altitude among modern fighters and is equipped to fight balloons with a GSh-23-6 cannon.
In the United States, reconnaissance ADBs did not show up during the Cold War, simply because the Soviet Union lacked the necessary technical capabilities in the early decades of the confrontation, and the late-Soviet gerontocracy was later afraid to respond in kind to violations of its airspace. Now, the Americans faced a more active opponent and have yet to learn many new skills.
The traditional U.S. propensity to make up for real-world failures with media victories was not very convincing either. Covering the incident, U.S. propaganda followed two lines. They claimed that, first, the Chinese balloon could not have caused any serious damage to the U.S. compared to China’s existing reconnaissance satellites, and second, that the vehicle was not shot down so as not to pose a threat to civilians on the ground.
The second claim is patently absurd: a significant part of the Chinese ADB route passed over deserted or sparsely populated areas, where the risk of harm to civilians was equal to zero. As for the former, the ADB surely remains a valuable reconnaissance tool that can significantly supplement satellite data. For its part, the U.S. has made extensive use of balloons in the operations against Iraq and Afghanistan.
The reconnaissance satellite operates at altitudes of hundreds of kilometers above the ground, while the balloon does so in the altitude range of 20–30 km. This gives it additional capabilities to conduct electronic reconnaissance and detailed ground surveys. The ADB is capable of monitoring atmospheric chemistry and making other measurements useful for the reconnaissance of nuclear-weapons-related targets. Finally, the balloon is capable of remaining over the same territory for long periods of time, tracking the situation there dynamically, and its flight time over an area is not predictable, unlike that of satellites.
Was the incident with the balloon an intentional attempt to disrupt Blinken’s visit from the very beginning? Hardly. If the Chinese had flown around the U.S. three times in the Trump presidency with their ADBs and got away with it, it would make sense to continue this successful practice. When the “balloon case” became public, the Chinese might have chosen an escalatory course of action based on their view of the situation. It is likely that Beijing concluded that it would not lose with any possible U.S. reaction to the incident, and this is probably true.
From our partner RIAC
Can Lula walk the tightrope between Washington and Beijing?
As Brazil’s New President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (popularly known as Lula) prepares to visit China later this month, maintaining neutrality would be difficult as the winds of change enwrap Beijing.
Brazil is Back
President Lula’s coming to power has marked a decisive shift in Brazilian foreign policy. With the Pink Tide resurging in South America, the new President has clearly spelled out his foreign policy aims: restoring Brazil’s neutrality and importance in international affairs at par with both the West and East after nearly 4 years of impasse under his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, who had adopted a Sinophobic, pro-Trump foreign policy.
Brasilia’s 39th President, who previously presided over the office between 2003-2010, will have a lot to talk about as he visits his nation’s largest trading partner that imported $89.4 billion in 2022 mostly in soy and iron ore which added a surplus of $28.7 billion to Brazil’s coffers. Boosting the economic partnership with China will be a priority for Lula, who intends to integrate South America into a closely held economic unit. Another important item on the agenda includes the appointment of former President Dilma Rousseff as the new BRICS Bank president.
Lula and the West
Lula had rattled swords with Washington on several occasions during his previous tenure such as alleging the United States for reducing South America to its “backyard” by intervening in its internal politics as well as by opposing the Iraq War. Even though he recognises the importance of maintaining good relations with the superpower up North; several of Lula’s moves including sending a delegation to Maduro-led Venezuela, refusing to sign a UN Human Rights resolution condemning human rights violations in Nicaragua, allowing Iranian warships to dock at Rio de Janeiro, maintaining an ambiguous approach on the Russia-Ukraine War and refusing to send arms to Kyiv, dubbing the ‘Balloongate’ incident a bilateral issue between the US and China and defining the Taiwan issue as Beijing’s internal matter, have deeply irked the West.
While tensions remain, Lula’s focus on combating climate change and call for saving the Amazon have earned a thumbs up from the Biden administration as the former’s election to power comes as a breath of fresh air after his staunch “Trump of the Tropics” predecessor adopted a not-so-friendly approach towards Biden’s entry in the White House. Lula understands Washington’s support is required and hence it was a top spot on his foreign visits list. Lula and Biden held talks amidst a cordial ambience and vowed to reboot bilateral ties by promising to protect democracy and combating climate change.
Winds of Change in Beijing
However, winds of change in the East have dispersed the clouds of ambiguity and China now stands more vocal, more critical and more confident in dealing with the United States.
The recent session of the National People’s Congress, which won Xi Jinping a never-seen-before third term as the President, saw him voicing his criticism against “Washington-led attempts” to “contain, encircle and suppress” China which pose ” serious challenges to its development” (“以美国为首的西方国家对我实施了全方位的遏制、围堵、打压，给我国发展带来前所未有的严峻挑战。”). Sino-US relations have been in the trough since President Trump’s tenure with the recent point of clash being the ‘Balloon incident’ which made Anthony Blinken call off his visit to Beijing.
Xi recently unveiled his new 24 Character Foreign Policy which, Dr. Hemant Adlakha believes, marks “China’s new foreign policy mantra in the ‘New Era’ ” acting as its “ideological map to attain national rejuvenation by 2049”. The characters “沉着冷静；保持定力；稳中求进；积极作为；团结一致；敢于斗争 ” which translate as “Be calm; Keep determined; Seek progress and stability; Be proactive and go for achievements; Unite under the Communist Party; Dare to fight” are set to replace Deng Xiaoping’s 24 Character Strategy focussed on never seeking leadership and assuming a low profile.
China’s confidence is further boosted by its successful attempt to broker peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have been staunch rivals for the past many years. With the handshake that brought the Sunni Arab Kingdom and the Shiite Persian theocracy together, Beijing has garnered accolades from nations across the region and is all set to play a greater international role by not just pulling American allies such as Riyadh to its side but also through actively putting forth its plans to end wars with Xi all set to pay Putin a visit over the Russia-Ukraine War before he meets Lula at Beijing. Lula too eagerly anticipates what Beijing has to say as he told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz “it is time for China to get its hands dirty”.
Neutrality no more?
If the state of Sino-US relations does not improve, things would get hard for many leaders like Lula who seek to balance between the two superpowers. Lula knows neutrality is his best bet but money matters– as his former Foreign Minister Celso Amorim noted “Our surplus with China—and I’m talking just about our surplus—is bigger than all of our exports to the United States. It is impossible not to have good relations with China.” Isolating China, with which Brazil has had a long strategic partnership since the 1990s, at the expense of moving closer to the US might come hard on the purse and exacerbate the many economic challenges he faces. Nor can Washington be isolated– not just because of the economic necessities but also in the face of challenges from far-right forces that both Lula and Biden face.
Lula realises the risks of placing all his eggs in one basket but would he be left with the choice to divide them equally into both? The issue is bound to get stickier but if he successfully manages to escape the quagmire of the unfolding great power rivalry, Lula will set a precedent for not just South America but nations across the globe. The only viable solution would be to strengthen regional alliances in Latin America and boost partnerships with developing nations like India while using the collective strength to push Beijing and Washington to come together.
The Malvinas feud as a Global Constant
As an event gets bigger, it’s more likely that interesting things will happen behind the scenes, that is, in unplanned activities.
The seventh meeting of G20 foreign ministers in India in 2023 confirms this. Bilateral meetings between Qing-Jaishankar, the Blinken-Lavrov dispute, and the meeting between Santiago Cafiero and James Cleverly, during which the former notified the latter of the end of the Foradori-Duncan agreement.
On March 2, 2023, by rescinding the Foradori-Duncan agreement, the Argentine government de facto reopened one of the most important territorial disputes in the Western Hemisphere, perhaps the most important, and did so in the most theatrical way possible: at the G20, the main North-South dialogue platform.
What was the purpose of the Foradori-Duncan agreement?
The idea behind the agreement was for the Argentine government to renounce its claims and any serious discussion regarding the territorial dispute over the sovereignty of the Malvinas (Falklands) Islands and the adjacent territories in the South Atlantic. Instead, the Argentine government would adopt a position of claiming “light sovereignty” in order to obtain benefits, mainly economic ones, through joint exploitation of the natural resources of the islands and adjacent territories in the South Atlantic with the United Kingdom (UK), as well as through British investments in the country.
In practice, this agreement implied the Argentine government’s resignation to discuss sovereign rights over the Falkland Islands and their adjacent territories in the South Atlantic. It can be inferred that this was a disguised surrender clause by the government of Mauricio Macri to continue with Argentina’s sovereign claim over the Malvinas Islands.
The purpose of the Foradori-Duncan agreement was in line with the foreign policy stance of the Macri administration (2015-2019), which had a marked pro-Western (and more Atlanticist) position than previous governments (Kirchnerism 2003-2015).
This geopolitical code (if we can speak of the existence of a “Macrista geopolitical code” coming from the geopolitical code of the traditional Argentine ruling class) consisted of a series of agreements (tacit and official) of Argentine resignation and subordination to traditional Western powers (of which the Foradori-Duncan agreement was one of its greatest exponents) which aimed –in theory– to obtain greater economic benefits and a renewal of the country’s public image in the supposed “international community.”
These types of foreign policy positions would be a constant of the Macri government. Even the Argentine scholar Juan Gabriel Tokatlian has conceptualized such a stance as “Concessive Peripheral Unilateralism” to define the foreign policy of the Macri government .
In practice, these ideas and plans, were shown to be totally ineffective and unproductive. Argentina practically did not receive economic benefits from such positions, nor did its public image have a significant and positive international projection. And the Foradori-Duncan agreement is the most scandalous example of this reality.
Why did the Argentine government of Alberto Fernández decide to end such an agreement?
The first explanation is the internal conformation and political identity of the government of Alberto Fernández, which logically demanded a change in the previous government’s (Macri) stance on the Malvinas agreements, his predecessor and opponent. But this inference raises another question: Why were such measures not taken before? The answers to this question are only conjectures.
Since the end of the Malvinas War (1982) until today, except for the years of the Menem governments (1989-1999), Argentina’s bilateral relationship with Great Britain has always been marked by a strong “Malvinense”  component on the agenda of their interaction, which has often led to high-pitched disputes between both parties. The “agenda” of the Malvinas cause was a constant trend of the Kirchnerist governments (2003-2015), such claims were made, denouncing British illegal occupation of the Falkland Islands on numerous occasions in various international forums, bilateral meetings, and multilateral forums.
But as mentioned earlier, the Macri government would have a diametrically opposed position to its Kirchnerist predecessors regarding the Malvinas question. However, the reality of the country and its foreign policy changed again when Argentina “presented” a new government in 2019, with Alberto Fernández as the head of the presidency.
The government of A. Fernández has an eclectic political character , as a result of a coalition between several political sectors, so the foreign policy of his government also reflects the heterogeneous internal conformation of the government coalition sectors.
In such conformation, sectors such as Kirchnerism, as well as more orthodox Peronist sectors, are present, both of which have traditionally had a more “Post-Western” stance, aiming to “rewrite the Argentine geopolitical code” and the vectors of Argentine foreign policy, projecting an alternative foreign policy, in first place towards their own region: South America, Ibero-America, the Caribbean, and in more modern times, especially towards the Global South, the BRICS, and Asia. In such guidelines, the action of rescinding the Foradori-Duncan agreement was logical. But logic also makes us wonder, why were such measures not taken before? Such questions enter the realm of speculation.
Another analysis could be given in an electoral key reading, this year 2023, presidential elections will be held in Argentina, and Alberto Fernández has expressed on several occasions through words and gestures , that he is willing and interested in being re-elected as the head of the Argentine executive branch.
Facing a public image tarnished by the covid-19 pandemic, and mainly a negative macroeconomic situation, the electoral nature of this foreign policy measure cannot be ruled out: the Malvinas cause is a cause that mobilizes emotions in Argentine society and remains a deep wound to national pride, and is a valid rhetorical and practical tool to antagonize the Argentine opposition (liberals and conservatives), which has never had (and perhaps never will have) a firm geopolitical stance nor interest in the Malvinas question.
Also, the reading of tensions within the coalition of the current Argentine government can’t be ruled out, in this last aspect, this measure could be read as a gesture of balance from the “Albertismo” towards Kirchnerism, a sector of the government in which many leaders believe that the sector identified with the president has geopolitically leaned too much towards Washington and the West since the 2022 debt agreement with the IMF and the war in Ukraine.
Argentina informed the British of its decision during the G20 foreign ministers’ summit, which was dominated by the BRICS. Is it a coincidence that such a measure was taken at one of the most representative events of the Global South?
it clearly cannot be considered a coincidence.
The symbolic weight of such an action, in such a context, must be clearly considered. The G20 has a dual character as the main forum in which traditional (Western) powers dialogue but also reflects their tensions and antagonisms with emerging powers and peoples, including those of the so-called Global South.
With tensions between former metropolis countries and former colonies that make up the G20, and which are now emerging in material capabilities, a post-colonial and decolonial reading cannot be ruled out, and therefore a strong message from Argentina to the world’s emerging powers and the Global South.
Did China have any influence on the finalization of the pact?
No, there is no such “Chinese hand” that has driven such a measure by the Argentine government. These are paranoid arguments with a stubborn anti-Chinese bias that also ignores Argentina’s own reality. To put it plainly, if we use common sense, the decision was not elaborated nor driven from Beijing.
As mentioned earlier, the issue of the Malvinas is a deeply rooted national cause in Argentine society, and a constant in the foreign policy of Kirchnerism, which today is part of the coalition that compose the current Argentine government, which with such measures such as revoking the Foradori-Duncan agreement seeks to “retake the ownership of the Malvinas and South Atlantic issue in its agenda,” marking a clear differentiated stance from the current political opposition (Juntos por el Cambio) that made such a pact in the previous presidential term.
The decision was not elaborated nor driven by Beijing, and in any case, recent and clear positions of support for Argentina’s sovereign claim in the Malvinas Islands by powers such as China  and Russia  were considered within the decision-making process to take such measures. Therefore, the positions of Beijing and Moscow influenced, but did not condition or generate, Buenos Aires’ decision.
The future of the Malvinas Question
It’s very difficult to envision a future scenario for such a specific and complex issue, especially in the long term. But a prospective scenario can be envisioned in the short term, which is basically and probably that the situation will not change significantly under current conditions. Unless the world is altered by seismic events.
It’s highly unlikely that we will see a dialoguing UK government in the short and medium term that is willing to negotiate the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. And it is similarly unlikely to see a future Argentine government, especially if it has the characteristics of a Peronist, Kirchnerist, or progressive government, openly giving up its claims to the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.
Such a proposition would surely change if there were a liberal-oriented government in Argentina, such as Mauricio Macri’s.
The problem with the current Argentine government, as well as future ones, regarding the Malvinas dispute, is that the country does not have, and will not have in the short and medium term, the set of soft and hard capabilities (economic, diplomatic, military, ideological influence) to press and force the UK hard enough to revise its traditional stance on the occupation of the islands. At least until the current balance of power and the position of emerging powers, such as China, would consolidate even further in the world order.
But in any case, such changes and opportunities will depend on the international context and the agency of third parties, which are independent variables for the positions that future Argentine governments may take.
Most experts in international relations and geopolitics agree that the territorial dispute over the Falkland-Malvinas Islands between Britain and Argentina will not have an easy or predictable resolution in the short term.
Some experts point out that the strategic geographical position of the Malvinas Islands and the presence of significant natural resources in the area, such as fishing and hydrocarbons, make the dispute even more complicated.
Moreover, many experts believe that Britain’s position has been strengthened in recent years thanks to the exploitation of the area’s natural resources and the lack of a clear strategy on the part of Argentina to resolve the dispute.
A hypothetical Chinese presence in the region, through the southern Argentine city of Ushuaia, through the construction of a logistics hub, has added an intervening element that makes it even more complex to envision a prospective scenario .
However, some experts believe that the issue of the territorial dispute over the Falkland Islands, Argentina’s position is legitimate, which has won it great support and sympathy among peoples and emerging powers, most of them with a colonial past .
 Tokatlian, J. G. (2018, 2 de febrero). Relaciones con EEUU: ¿nueva etapa? (Relations with the US: a new phase?) Clarín.
 Porto, J. M. (26/03/2022). Despite diplomatic ups and downs, the Malvinas claim became a state policy. Telam. https://www.telam.com.ar/notas/202203/587606-diplomacia-soberania-argentina-islas-malvinas.html
 In its composition as a coalition, including important elements of what might be called “Centre-Right” sectors that have Western – especially Washington – affinities.
 Its relevant to remember that on 22 February Alberto Fernandez led a public act in situ celebrating 119 years of Argentine presence in Antarctica. “Alberto Fernández visits Antarctica“. Sputnik. (23/02/2023). https://sputniknews.lat/20230223/alberto-fernandez-visita-la-antartida-1136141105.html
 Joint Statement between the Argentine Republic and the People’s Republic of China on Deepening the Argentina-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. (06/02/2023). https://cancilleria.gob.ar/es/actualidad/noticias/declaracion-conjunta-entre-la-republica-argentina-y-la-republica-popular-china
China’s support for the Malvinas deepens a relationship with many agreements. Telam. (03/07/2021). https://www.telam.com.ar/notas/202107/560027-apoyo-china-malvinas-cada-vez-mas-explicito-profundiza-relacion-muchos-acuerdos.html
 United Russia leader Medvedev celebrates Argentina’s termination of Foradori-Duncan agreement. Sputnik. (2023, March 6). https://sputniknews.lat/20230306/el-lider-de-rusia-unida-celebra-que-argentina-haya-terminado-el-acuerdo-foradori-duncan-1136503626.html
Putin defended Argentina’s sovereignty over Malvinas and took aim at Boris Johnson and Margaret Thatcher. Política Argentina. (2022, May 30). https://www.politicargentina.com/notas/202206/44954-putin-defendio-la-soberania-argentina-sobre-malvinas-y-le-tiro-a-boris-johnson-con-margaret-thatcher.html
 The details of the Ushuaia Logistics Hub to supply Antarctica. El Cronista. (24/12/2021).
An Antarctic logistics hub: official plan opens the door to strategic partners. El Cronista. (11/10/2021).
 The Group of 77+China gave strong backing to Argentina’s position on the Malvinas Islands question. Telam. (2022, November 12). https://www.telam.com.ar/notas/202011/534875-el-g77china-dio-un-fuerte-respaldo-a-la-posicion-argentina-en-la-cuestion-malvinas.html
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