Foreign Affairs

Trump’s Unrealpolitik 

Shlomo Ben-Ami: “Some in the United States have praised President-elect Donald Trump for his supposed realism. He will do what is right for America, they argue, without getting caught up in thorny moral dilemmas, or letting himself be carried away by some grand sense of responsibility for the rest of the world. By acting with the shrewd pragmatism of a businessman, he will make America stronger and more prosperous.”

“This view is, to be frank, delusional.”

“…immorality is neither desirable nor a necessary feature of realism. (Thucydides himself was an ethical realist.) And there is little to suggest that Trump has any of the other realist qualities that his supporters see. How could anyone expect the proudly unpredictable and deeply uninformed Trump to execute grand strategic designs, such as the Realpolitik recommended by Harvard’s Niall Ferguson, Henry Kissinger’s biographer, following the election?”

The World Today Looks Ominously Like It Did Before World War I

Washington Post: “To some, it looks ominously like another moment in history — the period leading up to World War I, which marked the end of a multi-decade expansion in global ties that many call the first era of globalization.”

“In a recent report, Josh Feinman, the chief global economist for Deutsche Asset Management, says that the world could see a substantial backsliding to globalization in decades to come. After all, he writes, we have seen it happen before, in the years of chaos and isolationism that encompassed the First and Second World Wars and the Great Depression.”

“As before World War I, the second great wave of globalization led to a surge in immigration and increasing inequality in some countries, which likely helped to trigger the current backlash.”

What’s New and What’s Not in the U.N. Resolution on Israeli Settlements

“None of this—the determination of ‘occupation,’ the inclusion of East Jerusalem, the U.S. abstention—was actually new. But two things were: the involvement of Donald Trump, not yet in office, in the process of tabling the resolution; and the sense that this was not merely a condemnation of Israeli settlements, nor an attempt to promote a two-state solution, but an attempt to prevent the worst of the no-solution reality,” Natan Sachs writes for the Brookings Institution.

“If there was any doubt—and there wasn’t—the Security Council again made clear its view on the legality of Israel’s settlements.”

“The U.S. abstention—the focus of a great deal of personal rage against Obama by Netanyahu and others—was not new either… until this latest resolution, Obama had been the only president not to let a resolution critical of Israeli policy pass in the Security Council.”

“Two things changed, quite dramatically, however. First, a new player entered the fray: the U.S. president-elect… Second: there is a new belief among the world powers, and many on the ground, that time is fast running out on the viability of a two-state solution.”

When Leaders Are True to Their Lies

Ricardo Hausmann: “What does the Venezuelan domestic payments crisis have in common with the death of the North American Free Trade Agreement, announced by Wilbur Ross, US President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be the next US Secretary of Commerce? These two seemingly disparate events are linked by the odd relationship with the truth that both Trump and the Chavista regime seem to share.”

“All governments lie. A few believe their own lies. But things get dangerous when they act in order to be true to their lies. That is the trap into which Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government has fallen, and it seems to be the logic behind the decision articulated by Ross to withdraw from NAFTA.”

A WHO-Backed Ebola Vaccine Is Showing a 100% Success Rate

Quartz: “The next time Ebola strikes, Africa, and everywhere else, will be better prepared.”

“Findings from tests of rVSV-ZEBOV, a trial vaccine, show a 100% protection rate with thousands of people tested in Guinea all confirmed as virus-free within 10 days. The World Health Organization, which led the trial, says the vaccine could be available for mass use by 2018.”

“The possibility of an Ebola vaccine is a major leap for Africans at risk of the disease following a devastating outbreak mainly in three West African countries which started in 2014. Though now controlled, World Bank estimates put the cost of the outbreak’s economic impact at more than $3 billion in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia—the worst affected countries.”

Taiwan Deserves Better Than Trump’s Drive-By

Rob Cox: “Sure, Taiwan gained a flicker of national pride from Trump’s shout-out. For Tsai, it may have helped shore up her sagging popularity for a moment. But it’s hard to see how this $500 billion-plus economy will benefit from its brief dalliance with America’s Tweeter-in-chief.”

“Taiwan deserves better. The island is a model for the region – and its far larger rival 110 miles across the water. And though its economy has slowed in recent years, its people enjoy an enviable quality of life. Its GDP per capita on a purchasing power parity basis is some $47,000, higher even than in the United Kingdom, France or Canada. It’s an example of what’s possible when democracy and free markets flourish in Asia… Though it was not perfect, the One China status quo allowed Taiwan to manage its business and security while Beijing could pretend it didn’t matter.”

“But the longer-term negative effects of the call will become apparent in coming months. China can further restrict tourism. It can pry away some of the few remaining countries that still formally recognize Taiwan, such as Panama. As Moody’s recently warned, it can also exert pressure on other nations in the region to restrict trade or commerce with Taipei. Most painful, and not without a cost to its own interests, China can hit Taiwanese capital on the mainland.”

Trump’s Pick for Secretary of State Argued Against One of the President-Elect’s Biggest Promises

Washington Post: “Trump denounced the TPP, President Obama’s signature deal, as a ‘potential disaster.’ He argued it was a terrible deal for American workers and said he would withdraw the United States from the deal on his first day in office. Republican congressional leaders have said they are unwilling to bring the deal to a vote in Obama’s remaining months in office, meaning the TPP is almost certainly dead.”

“Tillerson has maintained a very different stance. In a speech he gave to the Asia Society Global Forum on June 13, 2013, Tillerson talked about his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he said would provide the open markets that would allow the United States and countries in Asia and elsewhere to grow and progress.”

“‘We must embrace the free flow of energy, capital, and human talent across oceans and borders,’ Tillerson told the crowd.”

A Bipartisan Foreign Policy for the Trump Presidency

“As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the State Department’s operations and foreign assistance, I’m hopeful my congressional colleagues and I can work constructively with the President-elect to advance the United States as a force for good, a force for stability, and a leader in the world,” Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) writes for Democracy Journal.

“First, we must restructure the tools of U.S. development finance in a way that makes us more competitive with our geopolitical rivals. Second, we must develop a strategy to prevent fragile states from descending into crisis. Third, we must redefine the legal underpinning for the war against ISIL, Al Qaeda, and other jihadist extremist groups by debating and passing a new Authorization for Use of Military Force. Fourth, we must better position the United States to address the root causes of terrorism by streamlining and empowering our government agencies and working with partners in the Muslim world to undermine extremist ideology. Finally, we should pursue ‘muscular multilateralism’ based on targeted engagement, strong cooperation with our allies, and coordination with our rivals to realize progress in areas of mutual interest. This includes working with our partners to prepare for pandemics, uphold international law, and support nuclear nonproliferation.”

U.S. Power Will Decline Under Trump, Says Futurist Who Predicted Soviet Collapse

Motherboard’s Nafeez Ahmed spoke with Nobel Peace Prize-nominated sociologist Johan Galtung about the future of American power.

“Galtung told Motherboard that Trump would probably continue this trajectory of accelerated decline—and may even make it happen quicker. Of course, with typical scientific caution, he said he would prefer to see what Trump’s actual policies are before voicing a clear verdict.”

Galtung: “He [Trump] blunts contradictions with Russia, possibly with China, and seems to do also with North Korea. But he sharpens contradictions inside the USA…”

“As a trans-border structure the collapse I am thinking of is global, not domestic. But it may have domestic repercussion, like white supremacists or even minorities like Hawaiians, Inuits, indigenous Americans, and black Americans doing the same, maybe arguing for the United States as community, confederation rather than a ‘union’.”

Brace Yourself: The Most Disruptive Phase of Globalization Is Just Beginning

Economist Richard Baldwin, whose new book The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization examines globalization’s undercurrents, spoke with Quartz about the future of globalization.

His argument in sum: “A better understanding of globalization is more urgent than ever, Baldwin says, because the third and most disruptive phase is still to come. Technology will bring globalization to the people-centric service sector, upending far more jobs in rich countries than the decline in manufacturing has in recent decades. (In the UK, the service sector accounts for almost 80% of the economy; less than 10% of US jobs are in manufacturing.) The disruption won’t come because people will move more freely across borders, but because technologies will provide ‘a substitute for being there,’ Baldwin says.”

Once this third phase hits, Baldwin predicts, “It will be disruptive in the G7, but instead of just in the manufacturing sector, it spreads to services. Only about 10-15% of the population works directly in manufacturing in the G7—the rest work in services. It will create great opportunities in many of the countries that have been left behind by earlier globalization, for instance almost all of sub-Saharan Africa and South America.”

The West Is Dead

Joschka Fischer: “Now that Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States, the end of what was heretofore termed the ‘West’ has become all but certain. That term described a transatlantic world that emerged from the twentieth century’s two world wars, redefined the international order during the four-decade Cold War, and dominated the globe – until now.”

“Trump does not have the luxury of an imperial approach. On the contrary, during the campaign, he heaped criticism on America’s senseless wars in the Middle East; and his supporters want nothing more than for the US to abandon its global leadership role and retreat from the world. A US that moves toward isolationist nationalism will remain the world’s most powerful country by a wide margin; but it will no longer guarantee Western countries’ security or defend an international order based on free trade and globalization.”

“But we should not harbor any illusions: Europe is far too weak and divided to stand in for the US strategically; and, without US leadership, the West cannot survive. Thus, the Western world as virtually everyone alive today has known it will almost certainly perish before our eyes.”

More Central Americans Are Giving up on the U.S. And Looking Instead to a Mexican Dream

Los Angeles Times: “The number of migrants seeking to stay in Mexico pales in comparison to the droves heading to the U.S. — more than 400,000 people were apprehended at the U.S. southern border in the fiscal year that ended in September, most of them from Central America.”

“But the burden on Mexico and other countries is likely to increase if President-elect Donald Trump makes good on his promises to beef up border security and deport up to 3 million people living in the U.S. illegally.”

“Asylum applications in Mexico nearly tripled over three years, hitting 3,424 in 2015. Asylum requests this year are poised to be twice that, human rights advocates say, with most filed by Hondurans and Salvadorans.”

“Even with its long-running drug war and a sliding peso, Mexico boasts a degree of safety and economic stability not seen in Honduras and El Salvador, which are among the poorest and most dangerous nations in the world.”