12 September 2017   Leave a comment

Since 1945 the US has been the principal champion of a liberal global economy.  Since that time, the global economy has grown from about $2 trillion to about $90 trillion.  It now seems as if the US no longer wishes to act as the guarantor of the global economy and that shift is having a dramatic effect on some of its key allies.  Europe, for example, is quite concerned that the uncertainties associated with the US withdrawal will slow down economic growth considerably.  Der Spiegel characterizes the fear in this way:

“The economic policy coming out of Donald Trump’s Washington is characterized by timidity and despondency, sometimes erupting into boastful nationalism. The former economic superpower has embarked on a self-prescribed retreat. Once the home of the Washington Consensus, a policy that emphasized international cooperation, competition and market forces, the U.S. capital is now beset by economic navel gazing.”

Whether the global economy can prosper without the backstop of a great power is unknown, as is the question of whether there are willing alternatives to the US in that role.

U.S. as compared to the EU

 

South Korea hopes to have a special military unit trained by the end of the year potentially to assassinate North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.  The unit, called Spartan 3000 was initiated by the previous South Korean government, but the newly elected President, Moon Jae-in, has accelerated its deployment.  President Moon came into office as a dove, but events have forced his hand.  It is hard to tell whether Moon is committed to the unit’s objective or his push is merely an attempt to pre-empt calls for the re-introduction of US nuclear weapons on the peninsula.  His position was articulated in a speech given on 15 August in which he said:

“Only the Republic of Korea can make the decision for military action on the Korean Peninsula.  Without the consent of the Republic of Korea, no country can determine to take military action….We cannot rely only on our ally for our security.  When it comes to matters related to the Korean Peninsula, our country has to take the initiative in resolving them.”

Assassinating an enemy’s leader is not unknown, particularly when open conflict is too problematic and uncertain.  The US tried on several occasions to assassinate Fidel Castro after the failed attempt to overthrow him in the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.  Assassinating Kim Jong-un would be a very dicey operation–only if South Korea had worked out some prior arrangement with China and others in North Korea who were willing to stabilize the situation would there be any chance of it succeeding without making matters significantly worse.

 

Mexico has withdrawn its very generous offer of help to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.  Mexico has its hands full with its own natural disasters of an earthquake off the coast of southern Mexico and the effects of Hurricane Katia.  Mexico made the offer even after US President Trump had attacked Mexico via Twitter as a crime-ridden country.  But the fact that President Trump took over a week to respond to Mexico’s offer and has not, as of yet, offered any condolences or expressions of sympathy for Mexico’s catastrophes was a diplomatic insult that could not be forgiven.  The breakdown of cordial relations with Mexico is a diplomatic tragedy that will resonate for years.

Posted September 12, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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