4 thoughts on “The Debate–Fareed Zakaria vs Another

  1. LaMoy,

    Your views on this issue of globalisation and the Rooseveltian liberal order should be interesting. To me, the FDR vision is Pax Americana in its most elegant form. It reached its zenith in 1989 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Unfortunately President G Herbert Walker Bush’s triumphalist New World Order–a unipolar world with the US as the indispensable nation– has crumbled.The US neo-con influenced warlike Foreign Policy is alienating friends in the Middle East, Africa, and my part of the world. The gainers are Xi Jinping’s China and Putin’s Russia.

    To make matters worse, Donald Trump’s go it alone policy and his cynical stance on Islam when he addressed Muslim leaders in Riyadh yesterday is a repudiation of FDR’s vision. Is Trumpism a good thing for the US?–Din Merican

  2. I think one has to be a little careful with this nice-sounding term, “liberal international order.” First of all, conservatives had as much to do with the international order after 1945 as liberals did. Secondly, I don’t know how international it really was until relatively recently, since Russia, China and India didn’t really enter the global economic system until the 1990s. Finally, it wasn’t that orderly. It has been characterized by high levels of conflict – not as high, obviously, as the 1940s, but not exactly peace and tranquillity.

    There is considerable skepticism about Donald Trump’s commitment to uphold the post-1945 liberal international order crafted under American leadership and underwritten by US military power, economic heft and geopolitical clout. Trump’s pre-election statements on trade, immigration, alliances and nuclear policy in particular seemed to question these four critical pillars of established US policy. While some lament “The End of the American Order,” others are trying to discern the outlines of Trump’s new world order. Clearly, history likes irony: The president with the least previous foreign policy interest and experience could end up having the biggest impact on global affairs in a century.

    One way or another, the world order – especially its post-1945 normative, security, trade and immigration architectures – is at an inflection point. Although early indications suggest that relations with Russia could normalize, the risk of falling victim to the Thucydides Trap, whereby most power transitions end in war, could increase as China and the US elbow each other to assert primacy in the crowded Asia-Pacific region. China will step into the leadership vacuum as the stabilizing power in the Asia-Pacific region and, in another historical irony, as the custodian of the global commons in efforts to check the pace and impacts of climate change. Yet a question remains. International systems are more stable when the dominant power underwrites global public goods that many others access as free riders. In supporting the post-1945 order, the US government functioned as the de facto world government in writing and policing global rules. Will China follow America in accepting this burden and can the US acquiesce to playing second fiddle?

    Reversing more than seven decades of American policy, Trump has indicated fierce opposition to free trade agreements: Apparently only he can be trusted to negotiate deals that protect American interests. Soon after being sworn in, Trump issued an executive order pulling America out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Free trade agreements have in fact turned out to be investor-friendly and worker-hostile deals that enrich a shrinking economic elite, with a sideways flow of benefits to political and bureaucratic elites, while leaving wages stagnant and shredding jobs. These include the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which aimed to create an integrated market linking production and consumption in Canada, Mexico and the US. This explains the paradox of manufacturing output doubling over the past dozen years even while manufacturing jobs dwindled. Trump heavily criticized both NAFTA and the TPP during the campaign, but because both have in fact been enormously beneficial to the US – automation leading to increased machine-driven productive efficiency has shed more jobs than globalization – many assumed Trump would backtrack from campaign promises once he became president. Instead he has given every indication of intending to keep all his promises – a character trait so radical in contemporary politicians that it has shaken the entire Western world.

    Trump has queried the costs and benefits of two decades of US military interventions after the Cold War. NATO’s support in most has been less than decisive while it has become the institutional vehicle for multiplying US liabilities in countries of no vital interest to America. Trump claims foreign industry has been subsidized by the American taxpayer “at the expense of American industry” and argues that the US has “subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.” Trump’s dismissal of NATO as “obsolete” and the promise to put “America First” and force allies to pay for their own defense needs, translates in practice into a policy of disengagement and isolationism: Fortress America.

    Trump has reversed decades of US support for an ever closer European Union, to predict and welcome its breakup instead as the death of an economic competitor to the US. He is openly hostile to the UN system and has threatened to cut funding to international organizations by up to 40 percent. Trump’s order to suspend and then severely reduce immigration and refugee intakes is a repudiation of international conventions and arrangements governing the movement of peoples in favor of unilateral policies – and equally a repudiation of the history of how America was built. Concepts like human rights, protection of civilians and climate change are alien to Trump’s vocabulary. With no moral compass to guide it the US cannot provide global moral leadership.

    The tough rhetoric against the Iran nuclear deal and the tweeted promise to “greatly strengthen and expand [US] nuclear capability” imply a rejection of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the globally legitimate framework for regulating nuclear policy. Trump might prove receptive to the recommendation from a blue ribbon Pentagon panel to expand US nuclear options by developing an arsenal capable of “limited” nuclear wars, which further undermine the NPT. But this would jeopardize the entire basis of the existing global nuclear order, from safety and security to nonproliferation and disarmament, for which the NPT is the normative anchor. Without the NPT, Iran as a sovereign nation would have the same right to develop and test nuclear weapons and missiles as the US. So does North Korea.

    Globalization rests on and deepens interdependence of security and prosperity. The US has historically led efforts to manage the process through global governance institutions. Trump’s approach to foreign security and economic policies is transactional and zero-sum. The administration seems determined to keep even career diplomats at a distance, dismissing many with a curtness that slights their decades of professional service to America in favor of a “know nothing approach” to foreign policy. It is one thing to set out deliberately to try and bend the arc of history to one’s preferred direction. It is another not to know one’s history such that the world is compelled to relearn the worst lessons at great cost in general human misery.

  3. Quote:- “Will China follow America in accepting this burden and can the US acquiesce to playing second fiddle?”

    For the sake of “peace and tranquility”, we hope it’s “yes & yes”

    Any other answer will not do.

    I am not optimistic, because Man could change History, but History cannot change Man.

  4. Getting the majority of Muslims leaders including Mr Najib Razak in the same room, president Trump has done a historical move many historians will come to revisit many years to come and appreciate his razor focus to eradicating Islamic terrorism. Here is a good analysis:

    —-XAVIER L SIMON 17 hours ago
    Meetings like today’s in Riyadh don’t happen by accident. I suspect this one has been in the planning since Trump first met with Henry Kissinger a year ago this May. The Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner involvement with foreign leaders was most likely as part of the planning. Yet despite the heavy incoming the people’s business continued to be done. How well it’s working is a testament to Trump’s tenacity.
    To understand what is going on in the Middle East and Trump’s overtures, including to Russia over the last year, one also has to understand Iran’s quest for power in the region and why they will go for broke to achieve it. For that one also has to go back in history. The Persians (Iran) and Arabs have been at each other’s throats for millennia. In recent centuries their differences have extended also to religion, with Iran being a Shia nation while most Arabs are Sunni.
    Those differences escalated to major open confrontation soon after the Iranian Revolution of 1979 gave Ayatollah Khomeini the opportunity to “implement his vision for an Islamic government ruled by the ‘guardianship of the jurist’ (velayat-e faqih), a controversial concept among Shia scholars that is opposed by Sunnis, who have historically differentiated between political leadership and religious scholarship [in Saudi Arabia the Saudi family and the super conservative, almost extremist Wahhabis, respectively]. Shia ayatollahs have always been the guardians of the faith. Khomeini argued that clerics had to rule to properly perform their function: implementing Islam as God intended, through the mandate of the Shia Imams.”
    Thus began a confrontation between Iran’s modern Shia vision of an Islam led by religious mullahs and that of the Arab Sunnis led by a political leadership. Iran’s vision is in effect a threat to all Arab leaders, and is why the latter have been so active against Iran, starting with the nearly ten year Iraq-Iran war that was then led by a Sunni political leader, Saddam Hussein.
    So in a way Iran’s quest for influence over its neighbors is a religious quest and one they are not likely to abandon for any reason short of superior military power. It is also why they will continue their pursuit of nuclear weapons. If Iran succeeds the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia may conclude that in order to match Iran on equal terms they too need to lead politically as well as religiously. That would result in a potentially internecine conflict between the Wahhabis and the Sauds.
    That makes the situation in the Middle East very explosive and why I think Trump’s visit is so immensely important. Unlike the rabid media and Democrats, for the last year I’ve been watching very carefully who Trump consults and meets with, and I’ve been thinking of the larger geopolitical picture for much longer. Thus, I believe that Russia can play a critical role in bringing Iran, Turkey and Syria to the negotiating table, and indeed they are sponsoring talks between those three players that have been going on in Kazakhstan for many months.
    I further believe Trump’s meeting with Russian senior officials while master geopolitical thinker and negotiator Henry Kissinger was in the White House, and then the meeting with the President of Turkey, were no accident. In fact, that’s why I believe Flynn and Kushner met with Russian officials much earlier. While the media and Democrats have been having conniptions over Russian collusion, Trump has all along been laying the groundwork for a grand solution to the Middle East problems. Just look how excited the Saudis are about him and his visit.

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