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Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Affairs’

What „America First“ Will Cost Europe

Posted by hkarner - 14. Juni 2018

Date: 12-06-2018
Source: Foreign Affairs By Jeremy Shapiro

Could Trump’s Neglect Undo the EU?

The new U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, is quickly becoming Europe’s favorite bête noire. He seems to share his boss’ uncanny ability to offend people with a potent combination of professional incompetence and personal arrogance. Within hours of taking up his post in early May, he had tweeted out a demand that Europeans disinvest from Iran, essentially commanding his hosts to heed President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Iranian nuclear deal. Then last week, he gave an interview with Breitbart, a right-wing website that operates in both Europe and the United States, announcing his intention to “empower” conservative parties within Europe. The message to the German government was clear: the new U.S. ambassador intended to back its domestic political opponents.

In combination with a disastrously divisive G-7 meeting last week, these remarks have rekindled fears in Europe that the Trump administration will seek to stoke the populist wave that is shaking European politics. European establishment politicians fear that the United States’ support for their illiberal opponents will give these groups ever more strength in their struggles against Brussels. But the problem for Europe is not an American campaign to empower European populists; it is that the United States no longer sees the value in having a strategic vision for Europe at all.

AMERICA THE SELF-INTERESTED Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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Innovation Is Getting More Expensive

Posted by hkarner - 9. Juni 2018

Date: 08-06-2018
Source: Foreign Affairs By Nicholas Bloom

Behind the Slowdown in Productivity Growth

The white heat of technological progress can be blinding. It has taken less than a lifetime to go from the birth of computing to the first self-driving cars, not to mention the stream of game-changing breakthroughs in science and medicine in between. Yet these high-profile successes mask a problem. Since 2005, annual U.S. total factor productivity growth (which measures the efficiency with which labor and capital are used) has averaged around 0.5 percent, down from an average of around 1.75 percent from 1996 to 2004. That has hurt economic growth, which remains sluggish nearly a decade after the end of the Great Recession.

The slowdown has sparked a debate among economists over the sources of the problem. Are statisticians mismeasuring—and thus underestimating—output? Is the United States mired in “secular stagnation”—a prolonged period of low economic growth caused by too much saving and too little investment? Or are recent innovations simply not as productive for society as those of the past?

Not long ago, I was among the economists who took a relatively optimistic view toward declining productivity growth. In 2016, I publicly caricatured the ways economists have often interpreted swings in U.S. productivity growth over the past half century. The declining rate, I argued, did not necessarily reflect a long-run trend of slow productivity growth. I attributed it instead to a temporary effect of the global financial crisis and anticipated a turnaround coming down the pike. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Fall and Rise of Matteo Salvini

Posted by hkarner - 7. Juni 2018

Date: 06-06-2018
Source: Foreign Affairs By Erik Jones


The Lega Leader Will Make or Break Italy

A week is a long time in politics, particularly when the fate of a country hangs on the ambitions of a single individual in the way that Italy’s fate now hangs on those of Lega leader (and now Interior Minister) Matteo Salvini. The week started with the collapse of a governing coalition between two populist parties, Lega and the Five Star Movement (M5S), and ended with essentially that same government swearing the oath of office. There were many bit players in the drama, but Salvini was the protagonist. The takeaway is simple: this government will last only so long as Salvini has his way.


The drama began on Sunday, May 27, when Salvini pulled the plug on a coalition government between Lega and M5S. Salvini was insulted by the unwillingness of Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, to appoint the Euroskeptic economist Paolo Savona as minister of economy and finance. With his strength in the polls rising, Salvini declared himself ready to face new elections. Rather than allow anyone else to take the economics and finance portfolio, Salvini would rather campaign for a larger presence in parliament.

Mattarella had good reasons to reject Savona, which he explained at length to the Italian people. Although a well-known economist with solid experience in politics and government, Savona is not a member of either Lega or M5S. Since the economy and finance minister will have to decide how to balance the government’s resources, he should have his own political power base or else he will lack autonomy. Moreover, Savona has taken positions on Italy’s membership in the euro—he has called the currency a “German cage” and suggested making contingency plans for exiting it—that are likely to scare international investors. Mattarella argued that he had a responsibility not to unnecessarily put the wealth and savings of ordinary Italians at risk—Savona was too much of a gamble. When Mattarella rejected him, Salvini pulled the plug on the whole government. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Putin’s Secret Services: How the Kremlin Corralled the FSB

Posted by hkarner - 31. Mai 2018

Date: 31-05-2018
Source: Foreign Affairs By Andrei Soldatov

In April, a series of protests hit the Moscow region. They were neither overtly political—citizens were protesting toxic landfills in their neighborhoods—nor very numerous, comprising, at most, a few thousand people in a region of over seven million. At their peak, people took to the streets in nine towns surrounding the city.

The protests, however, seemed well coordinated, and in some towns, the city authorities supported people and granted them permission to protest. Even for officials, it was difficult to ignore the awful smells emanating from the landfills, or the furious mothers and fathers of poisoned children. One of these cities was Serpukhov, some 60 miles south of Moscow.

One week after the protests started, an official from the Serpukhov district, Alexander Shestun, was invited to the Kremlin. There, he met with Ivan Tkachev, a general from the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s powerful intelligence agency and the successor to the Soviet-era secret police, the KGB. Apprehensive about the meeting, Shestun decided to secretly record the conversation, which he later posted on YouTube.

In the recording, Tkachev threatens Shestun. “You will be steamrolled if you don’t resign,” he says. “You will be in prison. Like many before you, you don’t understand, it’s a big [purge].” Intimating that he was receiving orders from the Kremlin, Tkachev then lists several top-level officials who had already been jailed, including a general from the interior ministry and two governors. Tkachev even suggests that Andrey Vorobyov, governor of the Moscow region and former chair of the ruling party United Russia, could be the next target. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How the West Surrendered Global Infrastructure Development to China

Posted by hkarner - 26. Mai 2018

Date: 22-05-2018
Source: Foreign Affairs By Bushra Bataineh, Michael Bennon, and Francis Fukuyama
Subject: Beijing’s Building Boom

Scholars and pundits in the West have become increasingly alarmed that China’s planned Belt and Road Initiative (B&R) could further shift the global strategic landscape in Beijing’s favor, with infrastructure lending as its primary lever for global influence. The planned network of infrastructure project—financed by China’s bilateral lenders, the China Development Bank (CDB) and the Export-Import Bank of China (CEXIM), along with the newly formed and multilateral Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank—is historically unprecedented in scope. But the B&R is only the natural progression of a global sea change in developing economy infrastructure finance that has already been under way for more than two decades.

The truth is that the West long ago ceded leadership in this area to China, a phenomenon that was largely driven not by foreign policy but by domestic infrastructure policy. The same factors that keep large infrastructure projects from getting off the ground in the United States and Europe make Western-sponsored projects in developing countries less viable than their Chinese counterparts.

China’s approach to infrastructure abroad mirrors its approach at home. Projects are evaluated more on their impact than on the specific viability of the project in question. The Chinese tend to overvalue the beneficial economic spillover effects of infrastructure projects, while undervaluing the potential harms, whether economic, social, or environmental. The Western approach, by contrast, is more transactional and focuses on painstaking due diligence concerning the economic, social, and environmental consequences of a given project. These safeguards are in the interests of ordinary people in developing countries. But Western institutions have become so risk averse that the cost and time to implement such projects have skyrocketed. Western governments and the multilateral institutions over which they exert influence, such as the World Bank, must consider making their safeguarding process more flexible if they are not to leave the field open to Chinese monopoly. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The EU Needs Less Technocracy and More Democracy

Posted by hkarner - 16. Mai 2018

Date: 15-05-2018

Source: Foreign Affairs By Catherine De Vries and Kathleen R. McNamara

Subject: How Choice Can Save Europe

The European Union, bruised and battered by years of political and economic crises, is at a crossroads. In a recent speech to the European Parliament, French President Emmanuel Macron warned that today’s political divisions in Europe are like “a European civil war.” Although the decade-old eurozone crisis has faded from public view, the ongoing refugee crisis, Hungary’s and Poland’s descent into illiberalism, and the aftershocks of the Brexit vote continue to divide the continent. In this context, it is not surprising that the EU itself has become an increasingly politicized topic among voters, many of whom have come to doubt the competence and integrity of their political and financial masters in Brussels and at home. Although support for a full-blown exit from the EU still finds only limited public support, Euroskepticism has moved from the fringe to the mainstream.

Yet there is a way out of Brussels’ current predicament. It starts with recognizing that both Macron’s EU speeches and the broader debates between the pro-EU camp and hard-core Euroskeptics rest on a false dichotomy of the EU as a choice between “in and out,” between blind support for the European project and further integration or a retreat into nationalism. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Why Trump Can Safely Ignore Europe: Its Leaders Readily Condemn But Never Act

Posted by hkarner - 16. Mai 2018

Date: 15-05-2018
Source: Foreign Affairs By Jeremy Shapiro

Europe has reacted swiftly and with great fury to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last week to pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal. The problem is not simply that the Trump administration has undermined one of the signature achievements of European foreign policy but that his inherent volatility, his unpredictability, and most of all his lack of commitment to the transatlantic alliance mean that any act of U.S. disruption is now possible. Righteous indignation is the language of the day, and predictions about the death of the transatlantic alliance abound.

But laments and indignation do not add up to strategy. The real question is not whether Europeans are pissed off but whether they will do anything in response to Trump’s actions. The answer is most likely no.


The U.S. withdrawal from the Iranian deal certainly feels like a critical moment in transatlantic relations. For Europeans, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the agreement’s formally known, marked a rare instance in which a coordinated effort by the Europeans decisively influenced Washington’s decision on a critical international security issue. Trump’s withdrawal from the deal is therefore not merely a threat to regional stability and nonproliferation but also a repudiation of the notion that Europe can influence the United States on difficult security issues. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Trump’s Trade Rhetoric Is Already Hurting America

Posted by hkarner - 9. Mai 2018

Date: 08-05-2018

Source: Foreign Affairs By Matthew J. Slaughter

More Uncertainty, Less Credibility

As 2018 wears on, talk of a trade war has refused to fade. China and the United States are planning to slap tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of their bilateral trade. Both have placed new limits on foreign direct investment from the other, with murmurings of broader controls in the offing. U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel from much of the world remain firmly in place. And the United States continues to haggle with Canada and Mexico over renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, even as U.S. President Donald Trump periodically threatens to withdraw from the accord altogether.

Some analysts argue that this is all so much sound and fury, signifying nothing. The possibility of a U.S.-Chinese trade war will almost certainly fade away, they maintain, and when it does, the world economy will continue on as if nothing had happened. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Globalization Is Not in Retreat

Posted by hkarner - 28. April 2018

Quite essential! (hfk)

Date: 28-04-2018
Source: Foreign Affairs By Susan Lund and Laura Tyson
Digital Technology and the Future of Trade

By many standard measures, globalization is in retreat. The 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing recession brought an end to three decades of rapid growth in the trade of goods and services. Cross-border financial flows have fallen by two-thirds. In many countries that have traditionally championed globalization, including the United States and the United Kingdom, the political conversation about trade has shifted from a focus on economic benefits to concerns about job loss, dislocation, deindustrialization, and inequality. A once solid consensus that trade is a win-win proposition has given way to zero-sum thinking and calls for higher barriers. Since November 2008, according to the research group Global Trade Alert, the G-20 countries have implemented more than 6,600 protectionist measures.

But that’s only part of the story. Even as its detractors erect new impediments and walk away from free-trade agreements, globalization is in fact continuing its forward march—but along new paths. In its previous incarnation, it was trade-based and Western-led. Today, globalization is being driven by digital technology and is increasingly led by China and other emerging economies. While trade predicated on global supply chains that take advantage of cheap labor is slowing, new digital technologies mean that more actors can participate in cross-border transactions than ever before, from small businesses to multinational corporations. And economic leadership is shifting east and south, as the United States turns inward and the EU and the United Kingdom negotiate a divorce. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The End of the Democratic Century

Posted by hkarner - 27. April 2018

Date: 25-04-2018
Source: Foreign Affairs

Autocracy’s Global Ascendance

By Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa

At the height of World War II, Henry Luce, the founder of Time magazine, argued that the United States had amassed such wealth and power that the twentieth century would come to be known simply as “the American Century.” His prediction proved prescient: despite being challenged for supremacy by Nazi Germany and, later, the Soviet Union, the United States prevailed against its adversaries. By the turn of the millennium, its position as the most powerful and influential state in the world appeared unimpeachable. As a result, the twentieth century was marked by the dominance not just of a particular country but also of the political system it helped spread: liberal democracy.

As democracy flourished across the world, it was tempting to ascribe its dominance to its inherent appeal. If citizens in India, Italy, or Venezuela seemed loyal to their political system, it must have been because they had developed a deep commitment to both individual rights and collective self-determination. And if Poles and Filipinos began to make the transition from dictatorship to democracy, it must have been because they, too, shared in the universal human desire for liberal democracy. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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