7 April 2018   Leave a comment

The possibility of a trade war between the US and China is posing difficult questions for other trading partners of both countries.  In particular, the European Union has been placed in a difficult position.  Like the US, the EU has many grievances against Chinese trading practices.  Additionally, unlike China, Europe relies heavily on US support for security guarantees which requires it to maintain good relations with the US.  But the Europeans also rely much more heavily on trade for its economic dynamism and has enjoyed the benefits of the rules-based trading system enforced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and they are very concerned by the apparent abandonment of that system by US President Trump.  So the Union has to decide whether to support the US or China in a possible trade war.  Its preferred course of action would be to cultivate continued negotiations between the US and China so that choosing a side would not be necessary.  But they may not be afforded that opportunity and it will be interesting to see where EU trade policy ends up.

 

Christine Emba has written an intriguing review of Patrick Deneen’s new book, Why Liberalism Failed.  She points out that classical liberalism, which she interprets in this way–“liberalism defines humans as autonomous and rights-bearing individuals who should be freed up as much as possible to pursue their own preferences, goals and dreams”–has aspects which are attractive to both those on the right and the left in American politics.  The argument, however, is that the ideology of liberalism has a central flaw:

“That’s the heart of it, really. Liberalism is loneliness. The state isn’t our sibling; the market won’t be our mate. And the more either the right or left’s solutions attempt to fill in the gaps — “more markets, for you to attempt to buy back what has been destroyed! More regulations, to protect you when you can’t!” — the more obvious it becomes that the entire concept is flawed. The institution of liberalism is caving in on itself, and we each individually feel the crush.”

This argument is not new.  It has been a critique offered by many authors, such as: Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom;  David Reisman, The Lonely Crowd; and Philip Slater, The Pursuit of Loneliness.  Whatever ideology emerges to replace liberalism, it will succeed only if it addresses this central concern of all humans.

 

The protests in the Gaza Strip have continued into the second week, and nine Palestinians were killed in the most recent violence.  The dead included Yaser Murtaja, a 30-year old journalist who was shot dead by an Israeli sniper despite the fact that he was clearly wearing a vest marked “PRESS”.  The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza estimated that more than 1,000 people have been injured by Israeli weapons fire, a number that is impossible to confirm.  Nonetheless, the use of live ammunition against protesters is considered excessive by many. and the European Union has questioned the disproportionate use of force.   The US has twice blocked resolutions in the United Nations Security Council demanding an investigation into the use of force by the Israelis.  According to US News and World Reports:

“The United States for a second week in a row has blocked a U.N. Security Council statement supporting the right of Palestinians to demonstrate peacefully and endorsing Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for an independent investigation into deadly protests in Gaza.

“Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York Friday evening that 14 of the 15 council nations agreed to the statement, but the United States, Israel’s closest ally, objected.

“Mansour called the U.S. rejection ‘very irresponsible,’ saying it gives Israel ‘the green light to continue with their onslaught against the civilian population’ in Gaza.”

The Israeli Ambassador rejected these claims.  According to Jerusalem Online:

“In response, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Dannon called on the Security Council to condemn Hamas, which he said is using Gaza’s children as human shields in the protests. He also urged council members to call on the terrorist organization to cease all provocations, saying that these only ‘increase the violence and tensions.’”

The protests are expected to continue until May.

  Yaser Murtaja

Posted April 7, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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