Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts

21 June 2017

Venezuela's Ruling Party Faces Rebellion From Within

Over the past two years, Venezuela has sunk into a deep economic crisis brought on by a decline in oil prices, and its reverberating effects have left the country's ruling party desperate. In an environment where regular protests and widespread disapproval have become the norm, President Nicolas Maduro's administration is clinging to power despite the increasing likelihood that it will lose the next presidential election. Now, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has begun coalescing into opposing factions, and how its struggle plays out will determine just how long the administration is able to protect its rule.

For the president and his inner circle, losing control of the country could mean being jailed by an opposition government or even being extradited to the United States on criminal charges. To prevent this, Maduro and his allies, including influential PSUV power broker Diosdado Cabello and Vice President Tareck El Aissami, have called for a constitutional assembly to rewrite the constitution. The move could allow the government to rework elements of the country's electoral law and perhaps delay the next presidential race, cementing Maduro's position in power in the process.
An Opposition Faction Emerges

But segments of the administration are already thinking about a future without Maduro. A faction of the PSUV that includes Attorney General Luisa Ortega has emerged hoping to block Maduro's attempts at firming up his political position. Over the past three months, Ortega has consistently opposed the Maduro administration's actions, including its attempt to dissolve congress in March and its use of military courts to try civilian protesters. More recently, Ortega also attempted — albeit unsuccessfully — to get the Supreme Court to halt the constitutional assembly. In her fight against the president, Ortega is joined by former Cabinet ministers, retired military officers, district attorneys and retired and active law enforcement officials.

19 June 2017

The Free World: What it Achieved, What Went Wrong, and How to Make it Right

By Daniel Fried

The Free World appears to be in trouble, says Daniel Fried. Indeed, aggressive authoritarians and newly-emboldened nationalists are challenging the very foundations of a rules-based, democratic international order. Given these dangers, Fried believes it’s important for us to remind ourselves what the Free World achieved, where it has gone wrong, and what democratic forces can do to help restore it.

Ideas have power, not all ideas and not under all circumstances, but the idea of a liberal world order demonstrated its power at two turning points: the resurrection of the West after World War II and the expansion of the West after the fall of Communism in Europe in 1989. The phrase “liberal world order” sounds like the invention of a political science seminar. It may be better to call it the Free World Order, as the Free World—its values, institutions, and purposes—remains the best organizing framework for humanity in the twenty-first century.

18 June 2017

*** Winning the War of Ideology: Leveraging Religious Commonalities

By John J. Houser

Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘This would be the best of all worlds if there were no religion in it!' But in this exclamation I would have been…fanatical…without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell. - John Adams writing to Thomas Jefferson

Leveraging common principles found in different religions forms a foundation to undermine those using religious differences as a weapon. Expressing a deeper sense of religious understanding paints the U.S. as a pluralist society in a world where “more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group.”[1] Some assert Samuel Huntington prophetically warned about a pending “Clash of Civilizations” citing religiously inspired violence ranging from organized terror groups to “lone wolf” incidents as evidence of a world bound for a cultural collision. Although terrorists represent only a small portion of a religious population, their ability to project global influence indicates the current international framework of nation-states is reaching a tipping point.

16 June 2017

Larry Summers: The Problem With Privatization

Lawrence Summers

We tend in modern economies to take progress for granted and debate only its pace. This is not true with respect to air travel times. A look at airline time tables reveals that today the 8:26 a.m. flight from Boston to Washington National took 103 minutes. The 8:15 a.m. flight in 1982 took 82 minutes. The difference is similar, if not greater, on other routes. For example, flights from Boston to Charlotte typically took 125 minutes in the early 1980s compared to 160+ today.

Why has this happened? The distances have not changed. Nor have we lost knowledge of aeronautical engineering. Perhaps fuel efficiency has something to do with it, but real fuel prices are actually lower today than they were in 1981. Almost certainly, the problem is increased congestion of finite facilities, airspace and air traffic control capacity.

I have, therefore, long been interested in the issue raised by the Trump administration last week of improving our air traffic control system. I remember well meeting a group of airline CEOs at the beginning of the Obama administration as they argued for inclusion in the President’s Recovery Act for a NEXTGEN system that could, over the next two decades, transform American air traffic control.

15 June 2017

Danger in Shifting Patterns in Global Militarisation

By Daniel Hyslop

While the world has successfully lowered overall levels of militarisation over the last 30 years there has been a dangerous increase in the world’s most unstable areas

The conflict in Syria is a stark reminder of the devastating potential of state based armed conflict and the destructive capability of conventional heavy weapons. One need only look at the gulf between the numbers of lives lost from terrorism versus armed conflict globally to be reminded of this fact –in 2016, it is estimated that approximately five times more people were killed in armed conflict than in terrorist events.

While charting trends in militarisation is difficult due to the constantly evolving destructive capability of heavy weapons technology, IEP has tried to develop a data driven approach by compiled 30 years of heavy weapons data based on the authoritative International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Military Balance. The data have then been codified based on a methodology developed by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

13 June 2017

Meeting Security Challenges in a Disordered World

Today the world faces a volatile convergence of instability, state weakness, and conflict. Lethal civil conflicts rage in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, and South Sudan, stoking regional rivalries, offering safe havens to violent extremist groups, and triggering immense and unprecedented humanitarian crises. Even in regions and states where overt conflict is absent, such as West Africa or Central America, institutional and economic weakness creates unstable conditions that may enflame low level shocks or simmering criminal activity. At times resolution of these conditions may prove elusive and intervention fruitless; however, sometimes security challenges emerging in these environments require immediate and direct response.

The United States must be prepared to operate in a range of complex environments to meet a range of security challenges and threats, such as humanitarian emergencies, terrorism and violent extremism, great power aggression, health security crises, and international criminal violence. This study focuses on these five functional security imperatives and illustrates each imperative through regionally or subnationally defined operating environments. In each case, the selected security imperative must be addressed in the near term to help meet other U.S. objectives. The goal of the case studies is to characterize the operating environment, identify key tasks and responsibilities to address the security imperative, and develop a set of tools and policy recommendations for operating in those specific environments.

5 June 2017

The CSS Blog Network

By Glenda Sluga

These days, the pulse of the world’s political health is running fast. The general prognosis is terminal, the end of the international world order, as we know it. But determining what order we are on the verge of losing could do with more diagnosis, including tracking the symptoms of the disorder (and order) back to their beginnings. One of the useful roles that historians can play in this regard is to offer a longer view of what we have lost, or, at least, the international order that seems to be disappearing from view. So bear with me as I offer a “Cook’s tour” of two centuries in search of the point where the end possibly began, in order to understand better the history of the aims—or “ends”—of international order itself.


European historians have long assumed that the early nineteenth century made “international” politics possible: In 1814, after decades of continental wars against French hegemony, a coalition led by Russia, including Sweden, Prussia, Austria, and Britain (as well as some smaller now non-existent sovereignties) emerged victorious and established what became known as the “Congress system.” At its most basic, this comprised negotiations through discussion—famously identified with the Congress of Vienna—and transnational cooperation in the interests of permanent peace. In the years that followed, ambassadorial conferences in London, and occasional conferences around the smaller towns of the European continent, became a method for managing territorial and ideological flashpoints. Within a few years, the British foreign minister Lord Castlereagh confidently reported to his Prime Minister the practical value of this transformation of European politics:

1 June 2017

The World That World War II Built

By George Friedman

On June 4-7, it will be 75 years since the Battle of Midway, the battle in which the United States won the war in the Pacific and prevented the defeat of Britain and Russia. Guadalcanal, El Alamein and Stalingrad followed, all mostly fought in the second half of 1942. Over two years of horror would remain – neither Japan nor Germany was prepared to concede the point – but the war was won by the beginning of 1943.

These were extraordinary battles in an extraordinary war. I want to devote some time this year to considering the battles on their anniversaries and, I want to try to explain how these battles were an interlocking whole – really a single, rolling, global battle that collectively decided the war. By the end of the year, my goal is to show that a single global battle, beginning at Midway and ending at Stalingrad, defined the fate of humanity.

Systemic Wars

This is not simply antiquarian interest, although surely June 1942 to February 1943 must rank with Salamis, where the Greeks stopped the Persian surge into Europe; Teutoburg, where the Germans halted the Roman advance; or Lepanto, where Christian Europe halted Muslim Ottoman expansion. These battles defined the future of a civilization; June 1942 to February 1943 defined the future of the entire world.

20 May 2017

** Globalization’s ongoing challenge

The short-term nature of election cycles coupled with tough tariffs and foreign subsidy programs are just some of the factors that have led to the globalization quandary, particularly in emerging markets. In this interview with McKinsey’s Rik Kirkland, global economist and author Dambisa Moyo discusses the current state of globalization and what can be done to better deliver on its promises. 

I think that there are good reasons for people to feel aggrieved, and I think that a lot of people feel that globalization has not delivered on its promise to “lift all boats.” And therefore, in a nutshell, it is broken. 

Broken promises 

In order to think about whether or not globalization is broken, I think it’s important for us to remember what was promised around the Washington Consensus. And there were essentially four pillars of the Washington Consensus. 

One was around trade—free trade of goods and services. Two, the free movement of capital across border capital flows. Number three was about immigration and the ability for free movement of people. And finally, the size of government. And for each of these, I would argue, we’ve seen a number of failures over time. 

17 May 2017

Middle Powers in International Relations

By Allan Patience

Realism’s theoretical dominance in International Relations (IR) – especially its focus on the power of superpowers and its state-centric view of international society – has been challenged by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the global transformations characterising the post-Cold War era. One of those transformations is the way in which “states neither great nor small” are gaining increased recognition amid the disruptive multi-polarity of the current global disorder. Scholars such as Martin Wight and Carsten Holbraad, whose earlier writings about middle powers were overlooked in mainstream IR, are now acknowledged for their scholarly prescience. Bringing middle powers back into mainstream IR theorising is obviously overdue. There are two problems in the theorising of middle powers in contemporary IR scholarship that obscure their positioning and potential in post-Cold War international politics: (1) its intellectual history has been neglected; (2) “middle power” itself is a vague concept.

The neglected intellectual history of middle powers

The ranking of states hierarchically (big, small, middle sized) is by no means a modern (or even post-modern) invention. In ancient China and classical Greece the organisation of political communities and their status relative to each other was of great interest to thinkers as diverse as the Chinese sage Mencius (?372-289 BCE or ?385-303 BCE), and the Athenian philosopher Socrates (469-399 BCE).

13 May 2017

Civilizations: It's the Written Languages, Stupid!

Written by Frank Li

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1. Overview

One key difference between human beings and animals is language: we have it, both verbal and written, but they do not.

The first civilization started in Egypt about 6,000 years ago. Verbal languages existed way before that. However, it was not until about 3,000 years ago, when several written languages (e.g. Greek, Hebrew, and Chinese) were developed, that human societies started advancing significantly, from philosophy (e.g. Greek and Chinese), to religion (e.g. Judaism), and to a recorded history, thanks to literacy!

International Strategic Review, Vol.4, Issue.5, May 2017

Amidst the speculations of a potential shift in India’s nuclear strategy that were rife in the media during the month of April, 2017, Indian Navy successfully tested the supersonic BrahMos, land attack cruise missile. This test has boosted India’s precision strike capability of hitting targets on land from the sea. Followed by this commend-able test, India test fired its intermediate- range ballistic missile Agni-III. The user test was undertaken by the Stra-tegic Forces Command- a missile handling unit of the In-dian Army.

After the success of ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), ISRO is planning to undertake an orbiter mission to Venus and has invited suggestions from scientists for space-based experiments to be conducted in the Venus mission. The space agency is also in the process of increasing its frequency of launches from 7, at present, to 12 per year.

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12 May 2017

Our World Transformed: Geopolitical Shocks and Risks

Mathew J. Burrows, David K. Bohl, Jonathan D. Moyer 

The geopolitical shocks of the past few years have laid bare the questionable assumptions many of us hold dear about liberal markets, international relations, armed conflict and democracy. What’s worse, observe Matthew Burrows et al, is that three nascent problems may further aggravate the instability and risks we now face. They include 
1) protectionism and the possibility of a worsening China-US trade dynamic; 
2) a large-scale energy crisis triggered by conflict in the Middle East; and 
3) widespread water and food insecurity.

11 May 2017

Misdirection: Galbraith on Piketty’s Book on Capital

by Philip Pilkington

I’ve been waiting for this for some time but now Jamie Galbraith has come out and provided an extensive discussion of Thomas Piketty’s new book Capital in the Twentieth Century. While I haven’t yet read Piketty’s book its difficult not to have heard about it given how much of a response it is getting among economics types.

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The moment the hype started I thought that something was amiss. In 2012 Galbraith and his team published an extensive empirical investigation of income distribution using new datasets that they constructed. Beyond the interview I did with Galbraith and a few other articles and the like the release of the study didn’t get much play among economist types. The reason should be obvious: whereas Galbraith arrived at heterodox conclusions, Piketty’s are mostly orthodox.

5 May 2017

A Profound Realignment in the Western World

Kamil Zihnioglu
By Daniel McCarthy

The populist Right that seems to be rising throughout the advanced world has two goals. One, obviously, is to win office. But the second, which can be achieved short of actually taking power, is simply to replace the center-right. Marine Le Pen will almost certainly lose to Emmanuel Macron in a few weeks’ time. She and her supporters can count it as a victory, however, that there will be no center-right candidate in the second round of France’s presidential election for the first time since Charles de Gaulle founded the Fifth Republic.

The Left has been undergoing a shakeup of its own. Macron represents a tendency toward the pro-market center that bears some comparison with the direction in which Bill Clinton and Tony Blair took the Democrats and Labour in the 1990s. But unlike Clinton and Blair, Macron does not lead an established party. He was formerly a finance minister in the Socialist Party government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls. In picking a nominee earlier this year to succeed the disastrous incumbent Socialist president, François Hollande, the party ultimately faced a choice between the center-left Valls and a left-wing candidate, Benoît Hamon. Hamon won, but so deep is the disaffection with the Socialists that another, independent leftist, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, outperformed him in Sunday’s first-round general election.

3 May 2017

The Changing of the Global Economic Guard

China has profited immensely from the open global trading system. But whether it remains open depends on the actions of the West’s increasingly reactive democracies.

East German citizens climb the Berlin wall at the Brandenburg Gate as they celebrate the opening of the East German border on November 10, 1989.Reuters

In January 2017 the global economy changed guard. The venue was Davos, the annual gathering of the world’s wealthiest recyclers of conventional wisdom—and consistently one of the last places to anticipate what is going to happen next. This time was different. The assembled hedge-fund tycoons, Silicon Valley data executives, management gurus, and government officials were treated to a preview of how rapidly the world is about to change. Xi Jinping, the president of China, had come to the Swiss Alpine resort to defend the global trade system against the attacks of the U.S. president-elect, Donald Trump. With minimal fanfare, the leader of the world’s largest developing economy took over the role of defending the global trading system in the teeth of protectionist war cries from the world’s most developed nation. It portended a new era in which China would apparently play the role of the responsible global citizen. The bad guys were swapping places with the good. “Some people blame economic globalization for the chaos in our world,” Xi told Davos. “We should not retreat into the harbor whenever we encounter a storm or we will never reach the other shore. … No one will emerge as a winner from a trade war.”

 A Communist Party Man at DavosAfter more than 70 years of U.S.-led globalization, Xi’s declaration of global stewardship in the spiritual home of capitalism was an Alice in Wonderland moment. A few days later President Trump gave his by now notorious “American carnage” inaugural address. Much has changed since then. For the time being at least, Trump has dialed back his more outlandish protectionist rhetoric. A U.S.-China trade war looks less likely than it did in January. But things can change fast in Trumpland. In the space of half a day this week, Trump was reported to be considering scrapping NAFTA but then seemed to change his mind after talking to his Canadian and Mexican counterparts. Earlier in the week he slapped steep tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports. Even if Trump’s protectionism ceasefire with Xi sticks, that switch in roles—the changing of the global economy’s sentinel from the U.S. to China—is taking place nonetheless.

30 April 2017

Infographic Of The Day: Comparison Of Population Density

You may have heard that the majority of the world's population actually lives within a relatively small circle that covers China, India, Japan, and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Bangladesh and three provinces in India, which are highlighted in red, take up just 160,000 sq. mi (415,000 sq. km) – that’s smaller than California. Together they hold more population than all of the blue territories on the map. [click here to enlarge infographic]

28 April 2017

CO2 Levels And Global Warming

by Martin Armstrong

Scott Pruitt, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told CNBC that he does not believe that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a primary contributor to climate change, essentially exonerating the influence of human beings on global warming.

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Given that the role of CO2 in the raising of temperatures on earth is by now basic and commonly accepted scientific fact, these comments from a man in such a crucial position in one of the largest CO2 producing countries in the world are alarming to say the least. Our infographic brings together NASA and NOAA data to show how earth's surface temperature has risen since 1880 - and in particular since1960 - and the upward curve of CO2 in the atmosphere since 1958.

27 April 2017

*** In the Age of Nationalism, the World Takes a Back Seat

By Ambika Vishwanath

Contributor Perspectives offer insight, analysis and commentary from Stratfor’s Board of Contributors and guest contributors who are distinguished leaders in their fields of expertise.

Editor's Note:

The Global Affairs column is curated by Stratfor's board of contributors, a diverse group of thinkers whose expertise inspires rigorous and innovative thought. Their opinions are their own and serve to complement and even challenge our beliefs. We welcome that challenge, and we hope our readers do too.

Last month, India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, voted the nation's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into power. The party then selected a deeply divisive figure from within its ranks to serve as Uttar Pradesh's chief: Yogi Adityanath, at best a Hindu fundamentalist and at worst a politician capable of splitting his state and country along religious lines. The appointment doesn't bode well for a nation with a long and bloody history of religious violence. But in some ways, it's also hardly surprising.