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A new world order
in progress

American policies create geopolitical confusion as they unsettle allies and alienate other countries

By Jean-Luc Burlone
Revised version – 18-08-2017

President Obama wore white gloves to “avoid stupid actions” in dealing with international issues. President Trump dribbles with the planet as he goes, seeking good deals rather than strong institutions. His erratic attitude is deemed a threat to U.S. security; it steers international politics to an unknown and potentially dangerous set up. On the domestic front, Washington drudges in turmoil.

On his first international trip last May, Trump addressed Sunni leaders in Ryad at the Arab Islamic American Summit. He eschewed talk of liberty and democracy — a common objective to all American presidents for the past hundred years. Instead, he blamed current tensions on terrorism and encouraged his hosts to eradicate extremists, clearly mentioning, with some reason, Iran as the culprit albeit most jihadists are Sunnis.

Sunni leaders, mostly autocrats from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and U.A.E., appreciate his support. They responded with fawning words, securing the condonation of the President of the United States to act according to their personal political ambitions. Closing his trip with a 24-hour stop in Israel, Mr. Trump left Mr. Netanyahu with an open hand in dealing with Palestinian issues, not even mentioning the “Two States Objective”.

Trump’s erratic attitude is deemed a threat to U.S. security; it steers international politics to an unknown and potentially dangerous set up.

On his trip to the G-20 in July, Mr. Trump started by showing his solidarity with strong authoritarian European leaders. Cheering President Duda of Poland and Prime Minister Orban of Hungary, who are failing in their obligations vis à vis European rules with respect to human rights, the issue of refugees, the separation of powers and the freedom of the press. In Poland, Mr. Trump endorsed the Three Seas Initiative, increasing the wedge between the 12 participating countries and the rest of Europe led by Germany.

Stating his priorities, circumscribed to promote Western values, Mr. Trump raises doubts among allies about the United States’ reliability and alienates nations of other cultures. His determination to seek bilateral deals rather than to reinforce international institutions disrupts the global community. It creates a power void that China and Russia are eager to fill.

The overall result is a clear breakdown of the world order as we knew it. Two competitive visions are now on the table to replace it. The first, already in progress, is the authoritarian model promoted by Russia, China and others like Egypt, Turkey, and the Philippines, whose leaders’ first aim is to secure their personal stronghold.

The overall result is a clear breakdown of the world order as we knew it. Two competitive visions are now on the table to replace it.

Russia is a declining power with an economy in disarray as the result of falling oil prices and the lack of economic reforms and diversification. To compensate the economy shortcomings, Mr. Putin looks towards the international landscape to improve his image by reviving the belief of a grand Russia sphere of influence.

Vladimir Putin has shown his willingness to use military forces to keep Georgia and Ukraine under Russian influence. He resents the membership of Poland and the Baltic States to NATO and he justifies his military actions by the expansion of the organisation next to Russian borders.

In this context, Mr. Trump’s language, logic and policies were real gifts to Mr. Putin as they meet the Kremlin’s own preferred policies on most international issues. Henceforth, Mr. Putin can pursue his hegemonic ambitions, unhindered in Ukraine and Belarus, while eyeing towards the Baltic States and Eastern Europe.

Russia is a declining power with an economy in disarray as the result of falling oil prices and the lack of economic reforms and diversification.

China is the growing world superpower. Its leadership is pragmatic rather than ideological. It deems that economic and financial liberties have triggered the 2008 crisis and that democratic processes have created chaos in Great Britain and in the United States with the Brexit vote and the election of Trump.

Celebrating the People’s Liberation Army’s 90th anniversary on July 30, President Xi warned the military: “The world is not safe at the moment”. He urged them to follow the Party’s command faithfully and to fulfil their duty to the Communist Party (not to the nation!). On August 2 at the Great Hall of the People, Mr. Xi gave an hour-long strong warning that China will not tolerate any infringement of its territory — a clear statement with respect to Taiwan and an ambiguous one with respect to the naval arbitrage America is (or was) expected to play in the South China Sea atoll issue.

Clearly, China wants to regain its past dominance, to secure needed resources for its economy and to take, on its own terms, its place as the only power overseeing the Western Pacific. China does not seek to be a welcome honorary member of the global system under American leadership. But the Chinese unwillingness, as a member of the World Trade Organisation, to follow the rules of international trade is a bad omen for its eventual role as a superpower enforcing international laws.

China is the growing world superpower. Its leadership is pragmatic rather than ideological.

The message is clear; Russia and China resent America’s hegemonic power and both want to promote the superiority of their authoritarian model to their population. Mr. Putin’s efforts to disrupt elections in the United States and in Europe and to discredit democracies as broken down systems, are convincing.

The second world vision, barely emerging in America, intends to include China in international organisations such as the IMF, not as an honorary member but as a full participant in shaping decisions and meeting the responsibilities that come with it. It also aims to build a coalition between allies with an increased role for emerging countries. As this vision stands, the United States will not make all decisions nor will it absorb all the cost. It will build a stable coalition and use networks to solve international problems that no single country can fix by itself but that cannot be resolved without the U.S. In stark contrast to Mr. Xi’s vision, America’s role will make sure that its allies are strong and that no country can dominate others.

The freedom of navigation in the South China Sea — a sea-lane that allows a third of global trade tonnage — epitomizes the common interest all nations have in a stable world order. If it was ever shut down by China, it would cause a major economic breakdown.

Currently, only the United States has the power to bring about a new world order where economies are interconnected and hence, where its national interest is compatible and linked to the national interest of most other countries. It enjoys an access to global networks from the private and public sector to build international coalitions to tackle global issues.

Currently, only the United States has the power to bring about a new world order where economies are interconnected and hence, where its national interest is compatible and linked to the national interest of most other countries.

As with many countries, including China, America’s core problem is to shape an economy that benefits everyone. The solution can hardly be expected from Donald Trump, whose only input is to act as a catalyst for change and political innovation. It is impressive that though the Climate Accord was rejected by the Trump administration, the country will nonetheless meet its objectives because policies at the states (both Republican or Democrat) and city levels are making the needed changes for a clean energy future. Corporate America as well has joined in with investment decisions driving policies to a greater extent.

Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.caUnfortunately, the Thucydides Trap is more worrying than ever now that Xi Jinping has clearly stated China’s vision and acted accordingly since the election of Trump.

Chinese naval power has grown and its reach is getting global. It launched its first state of the art aircraft carrier In April and its first destroyer, similar in size to the U.S. ones, in June. Its troops were shipped to Djibouti to establish the first Chinese foreign military base in July and it is coordinating war games in the Baltic Sea with the Russian navy in August. Mr. Xi may be right in saying: “The world is not safe at the moment”.

Let us hope that common sense and reason will come back in the geopolitical field to the benefit of all nations.

Image: IoSonoUnaFotoCamera via Stockfolio


jean-luc_burlone

Jean-Luc Burlone, Ms. Sc. Econ. FCSI (1996)
Economic Analysis & Financial Strategies
A professional customized service for seasoned investors in search for an independent and impartial expertisejlb@jlburlone.com – 514 961-9440

The text above is my personal view, based on reports and data from the economic and financial press. – JLB, August 2017


RW&CO.



There are 5 comments

Add yours
  1. JL Burlone

    I agree!
    We should all strive for a better world in every way we can
    But seing China flexing its military muscle and Russia launching the largest military exercice of the past 30 years is worrisome.
    The world may get worst before it gets better.
    Regards
    JLB

  2. Pete Kirby

    Clearly, the author of this piece has been drinking the Kool Aid…as have so many in our mainstream media. (The Deep State at work!) The Israelis call it Hasbara: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHxDNa1GwUk
    (Note the role of our own Irwin Cotler in the Jerusalem conference!)

    …and it has been hugely effective.

    America’s foreign policy initiatives in conjunction with their NATO puppets and Axis of Evil partners, Israel and Saudi Arabia, have destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen…,and flooded Europe with frightened and dispossessed refugees. Thankfully, Russia intervened to prevent the total destruction of Syria as well.

    Oliver Stone, in three minutes before the Writer’s Guild, sets the record straight:
    https://vimeo.com/223344161

    He got a “standing O”….it seems the audience agreed!

    Pete Kirby

  3. JL Burlone

    The text above reflects my opinion. I clearly prefer a hegemony from America than from any other country. If we consider that for centuries the world has been at war continuously with some peaceful intervals, we must admit that for the past 70 years, the US did a very good job: it has maintained the world at peace as never before in history and it has improved the economic welfare for most countries under its umbrella.

    One can argue, and rightly so, that the US did not hesitate to shun its principles and liberal values nor to use force, when it served its own interest. Its policies had flaws and failures to be sure. Nonetheless, I do not see China, Russia nor Turkey … doing a better job if given the possibility. Moreover, if the US keeps neglecting its international role, I am convinced that the world will rapidly become more unstable and dangerous than it is currently.

    We are lucky to be entitled to our own opinion but we are certainly not entitled to our own facts. For instance, in 2015, the US department of defence (DoD) has a total of 513 active installations worldwide. Each installation contains one or more site for a total of 4,855 sites; 4,154 sites are located in the US and 587 sites are overseas. With rare exceptions, the overseas sites are under an agreement with the host country and many of those have specifically asked for U.S. military involvement. The US has removed its sites when asked by the host country.

    Regards,
    JLB

  4. Michael Fish

    Thank you Anne Streeter for telling a few of the the essential truths omitted by the author of this piece of flagrant pro-American propaganda. If it weren’t for the civilizing actions of China’s XI and President Putin stopping American – Israeli – Saudi crimes in Syria, American – Nato provocations and threats in Eastern Europe, and dozens of other destructive American led foreign actions, the world would be in even more danger of destruction. The days of supporting American intervention all over the world have to be consigned to the dustbin of past mistakes. Canada would seem to have more trouble that most countries tearing itself away from this awful influence. Articles such as this are no help.

  5. Anne Streeter

    Some interesting nuggets here but there is much to disagree with. It really doesn’t matter who the President of the United States is as the Deep State is in control – the Military industrial/Security Complex, the Neo Cons and the corporations. Obama wanted to get the U.S. “off a permanent war footing” but ended up in seven wars (Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia & Pakistan) – the most of any president!

    The U.S. has invaded or overthrown 81 countries since the 2nd World War. It presently has 1000 military bases around the world. Russia has two! Who is interested in hegemony? It certainly isn’t Russia! As for Crimea, it originally belonged to Russia and following the 2014 CIA supported coup in Ukraine, the Crimeans voted 98% to return to Russia. Good thing, as the present Ukraine is a failed state infiltrated by Neo Nazis.

    We are fooling ourselves if we think the U.S. is bringing “democracy and freedom” to the world. It is all about power and self interest. As this article infers, the U.S. has more than enough to deal with in its own country which seems to be falling apart at the seams.


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