Tomer Avital in the wake of the approval of the 2023-24 budget For the sake of the journalists and presenters…
Written by Diana Thebaud Nicholson // May 12, 2023 // Globalization, Government & Governance // Comments Off on Globalization 2020-
How Indonesia and Australia view South Korea’s “everything, everywhere, all at once” Indo-Pacific strategy
With the recent six-day visit of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to the United States and the December release of South Korea’s Indo-Pacific strategy, Seoul’s global ambitions and its burgeoning role have been in the spotlight.
Among these ambitions, South Korea now brands itself as a “Global Pivotal State that actively seeks out an agenda for cooperation and shapes discussions in the region and the wider world.” Its expanded vision is vast; its Indo-Pacific strategy speaks of reaching beyond Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, India, and the United States to the Pacific Islands, the African Coast of the Indian Ocean, Europe, and Latin America. What’s less examined, however, is how these bold moves have been interpreted by the Indo-Pacific states. How might Indonesia and Australia view South Korea’s intentions to play a bigger role in the Indo-Pacific? For Jakarta and Canberra, who have divergent visions of the regional order, how does the new strategy fit into their respective approaches — and how do they fit into Seoul’s?
Paola Subacchi: The Great Global Crack-Up
To ensure that we do not squander the gains of the last three decades of globalization, let alone undermine our ability to confront the challenges of the future, we must find ways to uphold some level of economic integration and effective international cooperation. But overcoming the forces of fragmentation will not be easy.
(Project Syndicate) The world is at last waking up to the ways in which economic interconnectedness amplifies the risks of geopolitical turmoil. But while there is good reason for countries to boost resilience, a wholesale shift from integration to fragmentation, driven by geopolitical hostilities, bodes well for no one’s peace or prosperity.
…from 2016 to 2021, trade restrictions nearly doubled worldwide, owing primarily to tensions between the United States and China. In fact, fragmentation – like globalization before it – would not be possible without China, whose rise transformed the regional competition for economic, financial, and geopolitical clout into a global one. While some hope to balance rivalry with engagement – the European Union views China as “a partner for cooperation, an economic competitor, and a systemic rival” – the dynamics are obviously complex.
Globalization’s Latest Last Stand
With the world increasingly turning away from economic integration and cooperation, the second wave of globalization is threatening to give way to fragmentation and conflict, as the first wave did in 1914. Averting catastrophe requires developing strong political foundations capable of sustaining a stable international order.
(Project Syndicate) The second wave of globalization, which began in the 1980s and accelerated following the end of the Cold War and the rise of digital communications, is now rapidly retreating. The global trade-to-GDP ratio fell from a peak of 61% just before the 2008 financial crisis to 52% in 2020, and capital movements have been increasingly restricted in recent years. As the United States and China lead the formation of separate geopolitical blocs, and the world economy gradually shifts from interconnectedness to fragmentation, deglobalization seems well underway. To understand why globalization has broken down for a second time, it is worth revisiting John Maynard Keynes’s memorable description of London on the eve of World War I. “The projects and politics of militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion, which were to play the serpent to this paradise,” he wrote in 1919, “were little more than the amusements of [the investor’s and consumer’s] daily newspaper, and appeared to exercise almost no influence at all on the ordinary course of social and economic life, the internationalization of which was nearly complete in practice.”
Owing to Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and the West’s response, hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of assets are up for grabs in Russia. As ownership changes hands, the country’s shrinking wealth will become even more concentrated among the kleptocrats who have remained.
Davos 2023: Outlook brighter than feared, fraught with risks
By Mark John and Brenda Goh
(Reuters) The year ahead looks better than feared for the global economy but remains fraught with risks including escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and the emergence of a transatlantic trade war, the World Economic Forum’s final panel concluded.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told the Davos audience that what had improved was the potential for China to boost growth and that the IMF now forecast Chinese growth of 4.4% for 2023.
One risk tied to China’s re-opening, with its potential to heat up global demand and prices for energy, was that it triggered a new wave of inflationary pressures only months after this bout had reached its peak.
The week-long meeting was dominated by debate on a brewing dispute between the United States and Europe on subsidies for green energy transition, the growing debt distress in developing nations and abundant geopolitical risk around the planet.
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said the Biden administration subsidies package and the planned effort by Europe on tackling climate change at least represented a long overdue stepping-up of activity on the green energy transition.
“A subsidy war about a very good thing is good,” he told the panel. “That is a very healthy kind of competition relative to all the kinds of competition the world has seen,” he said, urging fair competition that did not “wall off others and try to take down others”.
Key takeaways from the World Economic Forum
ECONOMY: Gloom and doom heading into Davos turned into cautious optimism by the end with the global economic outlook for the year ahead looking better than feared.
UKRAINE: For Ukraine’s allies, Davos was all about doubling down on better weapons and financial support for Kyiv to defend itself against Russia. Outside the West though, fears of an economic downturn highlighted global divisions as some delegates encouraged a quick return to the negotiating table.
TRADE: Be careful of friendshoring, warned the WTO’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the big three trading powers of the United States, Europe and China pushed their new industrial policies.
What was not clear was how the rest of the world fits in to new trade policies that protect workers and redefine supply chains.
CLIMATE: The carbon crowd received a warm reception as the renewable industry rubbed shoulders with Big Oil executives. Awash with cash after a year of high oil prices, fossil fuel producers have the firepower to invest in green energy. But efforts on CEO green pledges and climate financing appeared sluggish.
TECH: Davos juxtaposed the industry’s potential and peril.
Just as Microsoft Corp’s CEO and other Silicon Valley executives touted artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT to transform their businesses, they announced layoffs of tens of thousands of employees globally. Scrutiny of once high-flying cloud spending by businesses was at the forefront
FINANCIAL SERVICES: Global financial institutions are grappling with how to right-size for a slowdown, while dealing with a host of other headwinds. With the threat of inflation still hanging over central banks, financiers are facing demands from regulators for higher capital levels to prepare for a downturn, making some businesses unprofitable.
Is globalisation dead? At Davos, that’s the big question
Leaders at the World Economic Forum are making the case for globalisation amid fears it is in terminal decline.
(Al Jazeera) The explosion in global connectivity and trade that was widely taken for granted for decades is certainly under pressure.
From the COVID-19 pandemic to the United States-China rivalry, Brexit and the war in Ukraine, a confluence of factors is challenging the long-held assumption that business and investment should be able to move freely across borders.
Where once the cost of doing business drove investment decisions, firms must now consider geopolitical and national security factors that increasingly drive governments’ policymaking.
Tinglong Dai, an expert in globalisation at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, is of the view that globalisation, while not dead, is at least struggling to survive.
“In the coming years, we may see the emergence of a ‘supply chain iron curtain’, where Western countries maintain high levels of free trade, investment and movement of people among each other but scrutinise links with China, Russia, and the like,” Dai told Al Jazeera.
“This means that free trade in goods and services in sensitive and strategic categories will be severely restricted – eg semiconductor chips, automotive batteries and public health products – and even mundane supply chains will be subject to increased regulation and public pressure.”
… it might be more accurate to say that globalisation is evolving, not retreating – a view shared by James Mittelman, an expert in globalisation and development at American University in Washington, DC.
“Hard evidence shows that the combined effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit, supply-chain disturbances and the Ukraine War have brought barriers to cross-border flows and inefficiencies but not a sizeable withdrawal from globalisation,” Mittelman told Al Jazeera.
“By all indications, the tides of globalisation will continue to tack back and wash forward. For the future, the perplexing issue is not globalisation versus deglobalisation, but what kind of globalisation? And how to achieve an ethically just and politically wise globalised order?”
Davos 2023: Global trade rethink: ‘race of the big pockets’?
US climate bill concerns dominate Davos trade talk
Some fear “rich-country game” of rising state subsidies
Revamped globalisation must benefit all, Davos told
(Reuters) – The United States pitched its vision of “worker-centric” trade. China promised an “all-round opening up”. Europe spoke of its quest for strategic autonomy. And industrial policy – backed with lots of state cash – is no longer a dirty word.
The Big Three trading powers at this year’s World Economic Forum all offered takes on how they saw the future of global commerce. What’s not clear is where the rest of the world fits in.
Davos 2023: Ian Bremmer’s Quick Take
(GZERO) …a lot of talk about the fragmentation of globalization. …talking about a fragmented world and can you find cooperation, which is the theme for this year’s annual forum, is one that’s very challenging. Can you find global cooperation if people don’t do global anymore? I mean, there are a lot of global things of course, climate change is very global, but the advanced industrial economies are focusing mostly on their own populations. They’re not spending a lot of money trying to take care of the poorest in the world. And in fact, on the back of the pandemic, on the back of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and on the back of growing climate change, the biggest challenge that we see as a global order is a growing gap between West and South. The fact that human development indicators have actually been worsening now for three years after 50 years of consistent improvement from globalization. That’s a message that should be front and center for every CEO that’s attending the World Economic Forum this week. But of course, it won’t be. Why? Because the difference between globalization and globalism is real.
Peter Zeihan: The Old World Order Is About To Collapse (Podcast)
The world is changing faster than ever, and a lot of the countries, dynamics, peace treaties and structures we’re familiar with may be about to come to an end. Peter’s job consists of analysing data from geography, demographics, and global politics to understand economic trends and make predictions. And if his predictions are correct, the next 50 years are going to look incredibly different.
…why China will lose half of its population by 2050, why globalisation is coming to an end even though we’re more connected than ever, why population demographics are one of the most important factors in determining the future, whether automation will help or hinder us, whether food shortages are actually something to panic about and much more… (18 August 2022)
Brookings Global Forum on Democracy and Technology
Technology policy has become a defining issue of global politics. Digital platforms and infrastructures have fostered greater connection and community around the world, but they have also empowered malicious actors and regimes. Likewise, artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies have given rise to new breakthroughs in science and medicine, as well as new forms of surveillance and repression. The new technologies promise greater economic prosperity, but they can also worsen economic disparities that can undermine democratic governance. A central challenge democratic societies face is how to govern advanced technologies in a way that reinforces liberal norms and values while outcompeting authoritarian models.
Raghuram G. Rajan: Deglobalization Is a Climate Threat
Globalization may have fallen out of favor in recent years, but preserving it is an environmental imperative. Effective, coordinated responses to climate change are being set back by the shrinkage of cross-border trade and investment flows, and by the accompanying rise of isolated regional trading blocs.
(Project Syndicate) Agreements will be easier to reach and enforce in a world that has not fragmented economically. When there is ongoing bilateral trade and investment, both China and the US will have more reasons and occasions to talk to each other, and there will be more chips (literally!) with which to barter – a technology transfer here in exchange for an emissions commitment there, for example. Mutual openness, including the free movement of business people, tourists, and officials, will also make it easier to monitor climate action, whereas further isolation will only breed more suspicion, misinformation, and mutual incomprehension.
Globalization Isn’t Dead
The World Is More Fragmented, but Interdependence Still Rules
By Ian Bremmer
(Foreign Affairs) After two and a half years of a pandemic that has exposed the fragility of global supply chains and eight months of war in Ukraine that has severed economic ties between Russia and the West and disrupted global food and energy markets, the world seems to be at a turning point. Globalization, many claim, is receding. A growing number of analysts now argue that much as World War I and the 1918 influenza pandemic brought an end to the first great era of globalization, the combination of Russia’s war in Ukraine, COVID-19, simmering populism, and geopolitical competition between the United States and China has kicked the second great era of globalization into reverse. “This new cold war marks the end of the era of globalization and integration that has shaped the international system since 1989,” the journalist Fareed Zakaria wrote in mid-October. …
Yet globalization has been pronounced dead many times before: after the global financial crisis in 2008, after the Brexit referendum in 2016 and the election of Donald Trump later that year, and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. That none of these predictions has come to pass should give analysts pause about predicting deglobalization once more. Rather than the end of economic integration, the world is experiencing a geopolitical recession that has left globalization adrift.
Kemal Derviş: What are the West’s strategic goals in the Ukraine war?
(Project Syndicate/Brookings) The Ukraine war and the world’s reaction to it will be a decisive factor in shaping the global political and economic order in the decade ahead. In particular, the Western allies’ actions, narratives, and planning regarding both Russia and the role of the Global South in Ukraine’s postwar reconstruction will indicate what their long-term strategic goals are. Does the West simply want to see Russia defeated and NATO enlarged and strengthened, or can it envisage a “victory” in Ukraine that lays the foundations for a world in which democracy is more secure and global governance more inclusive and effective? …
While any overall settlement of the Ukraine conflict must require Russia to bear some part of the reconstruction burden resulting from a war that it started, the severity of the terms imposed on the Russian people will have political ramifications. The harsher the terms, the more likely it will be that Russia embraces China even more closely, so that a tight Sino-Russian bloc becomes part of the postwar geopolitical order.
How do Global South politics of non-alignment and solidarity explain South Africa’s position on Ukraine?
By Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, Chief Executive – South African Institute of International Affairs
(Brookings) Early in the war, the West couched the conflict as one between democracies and authoritarian systems. The voting behavior of developing countries over the course of three votes in the United Nations General Assembly illustrated that this analysis was flawed. South Africa and other developing countries adopted “non-aligned” positions not because they necessarily condoned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Rather, this became a proxy for countless examples where the West had failed to deliver or live up to the rules that it expected others to follow. Countries in the Global South are no longer willing to automatically fall into line when pushed by the great powers. This means that the West (and others) should not take the support of developing democracies for granted. The invasion of Ukraine has highlighted that developing countries look at the whole scorecard in determining whose side to take or indeed to take no side at all.
A conversation on international governance reform
On February 17, the Global Economy & Development program at Brookings hosted the fifth event in the Blueprints series focused on international governance reforms. Experts discussed ideas to strengthen governance and cooperation on artificial intelligence and technology, U.S. engagement in global development, and bridging financing gaps in the social sector.
Davos is dead
The world’s most elite conference is postponed, again.
(Politico) Davos is dead, again. The glitzy and eagerly awaited World Economic Forum annual meeting scheduled for the Swiss mountain resort on Jan. 17-21 has been shelved for the second year in a row, replaced by a series of online discussions.
The postponement — due to Omicron’s emergence — is the latest in a series of failed efforts by WEF to return to in-person meetings during the Covid-19 pandemic, and puts financial pressure on the organization, with tens of millions of dollars of event income at risk
The Hidden Threat to Globalization
Why the Developing World Is Turning Against Free Trade
By Niccolo W. Bonifai, Irfan Nooruddin, and Nita Rudra
(Foreign Affairs) Globalization has lost its shine in wealthy countries, particularly among low-skilled workers. From 2002 to 2018, for instance, support for free trade fell significantly in Japan, the United States, and many European countries, driven largely by rising hostility toward free trade among the poor and working classes….
The reasons for the growing hostility vary, but the most politically potent charge is that globalization has hurt workers in rich countries in order to help those in poorer ones. … As we have illustrated in a new study, differences between support for globalization among high-skilled and low-skilled workers—and gaps in the optimism the two groups feel about their prospects for upward mobility—have grown in poor countries as well as rich ones. As a result, overall backing for economic integration is eroding.
…even in the developing world, high-skilled employees have benefited disproportionately from globalization, whereas much of the working class has missed out. Although policymakers promised that trade and international investment would provide widespread upward mobility in developing countries, only a fraction of low-skilled workers have actually seen their earnings meaningfully increase, and the disparity between what these workers expected and what actually happened has generated growing disappointment.
… If developing states do pull back from the global economic order, it could have disastrous consequences. A withdrawal, for example, would make today’s supply chain nightmares seem minuscule: without access to low-cost labor and materials, product prices would sharply increase, fueling worsening inflation. Decoupling the world’s economies would also slow job growth by making it more difficult for businesses to expand their operations. This would, in turn, decrease productivity, hinder innovation, and lower overall economic growth in both rich and poor nations.
Why international cooperation matters in the development of artificial intelligence strategies
As the strategic, economic, and social significance of artificial intelligence has become widely recognized in recent years, governments, industry, and other international stakeholders have started to develop individual strategies to capitalize on opportunities and address challenges.
Since 2017, when Canada became the first country to adopt a national AI strategy, at least 60 countries have adopted policies in some form—declarations, frameworks, industry guidance, or principles—focused on artificial intelligence. Industry leaders in the tech sector have taken similar steps to codify their approaches to AI, working toward responsible, trustworthy, and ethical use and outcomes.
Global State of Democracy Report 2021
Building Resilience in a Pandemic Era
When the new millennium dawned, the 21st century was hailed optimistically as the century of democracy. The future looked bright, as many erstwhile authoritarian and hybrid regimes, such as Armenia, the Gambia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Tunisia, became democracies. The will of the people as the only legitimate form of authority seemed to be a popular and rapidly spreading ideal. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated a trend of increasing authoritarianism, across the globe, with many countries sliding back down the democratic scale.
Significantly, the United States, the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself, and was knocked down a significant number of steps on the democratic scale.
The report found that some of “the most worrying” democratic backsliding happened in some of the world’s largest countries, including Brazil and India. It also highlighted “concerning democratic declines” in the United States and three European Union members: Hungary, Poland and Slovenia.
The report’s U.S. assessment centered on developments during President Donald Trump’s administration. It called Trump’s factually baseless questioning of the legitimacy of the 2020 election results a “historic turning point” that “undermined fundamental trust in the electoral process” and culminated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s tactics had “spillover effects, including in Brazil, Mexico, Myanmar and Peru, among others,” the report concluded.
The International Travel Restrictions Make Little Sense
Few leaders seem concerned about what we might lose by being cut off from one another.
By Thomas Wright
Few would argue that governments ought to fully reopen travel now, especially with the threat of the Delta variant. But the haphazard, unilateral way that countries have designed, imposed, and upheld travel restrictions—often because they are an easier option than taking action at home to stop the virus—should concern everyone. COVID-19 may never really go away, and large parts of the world could remain unvaccinated for years. Leaders must recognize the danger inherent in unending COVID-19 travel restrictions and put in place a process to eventually lift them completely. Right now, though, few seem concerned about what we might lose by being cut off from one another.
…the political cost of the restrictions is negligible. Maintaining or tightening travel restrictions is much easier than imposing a mask mandate, requiring vaccine passports, or instituting another shutdown. The lobby in favor of open international travel—the tourism industry, expats, and those who travel frequently—is relatively small. Therefore, many governments, including the U.S.’s, just don’t seem to care much about what they see as a marginal issue.
Farhad Manjoo: Has Technology Made Global Cooperation Impossible?
(NYT) …what if we’ve hit the limit of our capacity to get along? … Are we capable as a species of coordinating our actions at a scale necessary to address the most dire problems we face?
With the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change, humanity is contending with global, collective threats. But for both, our response has been bogged down less by a lack of ideas or invention than by a failure to align our actions as groups, either within nations or as a world community. We had little trouble producing effective vaccines against this scourge in record time — but how much does that matter if we can’t get it to most of the world’s people and if even those who have access to the shots won’t bother?
What if humanity’s capacity to cooperate has been undone by the very technology we thought would bring us all together?
The internet didn’t start the fire, but it’s undeniable that it has fostered a sour and fragmented global polity — an atmosphere of pervasive mistrust, corroding institutions and a collective retreat into the comforting bosom of confirmation bias. All of this has undermined our greatest trick: doing good things together.
Political violence related to COVID-19 could lead to ‘unravelling of societies’ worldwide, observers say
Report shows that political violence rose in nearly half of countries
(CBC) Global data collected by ACLED, a U.S. non-profit that tracks armed conflict and unrest, showed that political violence rose in 49 per cent of countries last year.
[ACLED’s 2020 annual report reviews the past year of data on political violence and demonstration activity around the world.]
After a brief dip in demonstrations in the early days of the pandemic — as fear and distancing rules kept people apart — protests rose by seven per cent in 2020.
That’s “not just despite — but in part because of — the pandemic,” ACLED concluded. It affected 58 per cent of countries, the highest number in years.
… The group’s researchers also found that state repression internationally increased since the arrival of COVID. From Hungary to Hong Kong and beyond, governments used the “unique cover” of the pandemic to impose restrictions aimed at consolidating authority, “a means to stifle opposition and to limit any challenge to power,” ACLED said.
Richard Haass: Globalization Strikes Back
The still-raging pandemic and climate-related disasters worldwide demonstrate the woeful inadequacy of efforts to address the problematic aspects of globalization. The so-called international community has again shown itself to be anything but a community.
(Project Syndicate) The summer of 2021 has come to be largely defined by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and accelerating climate change. Both are manifestations of globalization and the reality of a world increasingly defined by the vast and fast cross-border flows of just about everything, from goods, services, and capital to data, terrorists, and disease.
These two crises demonstrate the woeful inadequacy of efforts to address the problematic aspects of globalization. The so-called international community has again shown itself to be anything but a community.
… Lastly, we must accelerate both the development and regulation of new technologies that promise to remove CO2 from the atmosphere or reflect sunlight away from Earth. Such potential responses to climate change are unproven and controversial. But if the collective failure to deal with COVID-19 is any indication, we had better be prepared to consider them sooner rather than later. There is no escape from globalization; the only question is whether and how we choose to manage it.
Events of last six months show fragile countries must remain priority for the US and its allies
Alexandre Marc and Bruce Jones
(Brookings) The West is shifting its gaze from fragile states. After 20 years, the United States is headed for the exits in Afghanistan, pulling NATO with it. French President Emmanuel Macron is
ending the Barkhane operation, pulling many of the more than 5,000 French troops from the Sahel, where they’ve been fighting a vicious jihadi insurgency since 2014. The U.K. has discussed a
draft security and development review which suggests a major redeployment of its efforts to Asia. The EU is rethinking its global strategy to focus more on new global risks including China and Russia.
But fragile states may not so easily loosen their grip on the West. Even as the Biden administration has begun to bed down its core strategy, oriented towards competing with China and Russia and reasserting U.S. leadership of the “free world,” fragile states have thrust themselves onto its agenda, and that of key European leaders. Events from the Americas to Africa to Southeast Asia in the past six months have shown the potential costs of a loss of focus.
On February 1, Myanmar’s military staged a coup, detaining State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and others and introducing a state of emergency for a year. The coup ended nearly 10 years of a semi-democratic experiment. … In the same time period, fighting in Yemen flared up, after Washington pressured Saudi Arabia to try to put an end to the conflict. The result is a worsening of an already dramatic humanitarian crisis.
In the Americas, Haiti’s slow and steady institutional collapse has worsened. An epidemic of kidnapping for ransom by local gangs preceded the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse by mercenaries, one of them apparently a U.S. citizen, which has thrown the country into a deep constitutional crisis. Venezuela’s internal political crisis continues unabated, and the country is sending record numbers of refugees across its borders.
… Fragility is one of the most vexing problems of our time. Fragile countries, most of them affected by conflicts and violence, experience serious lack of social cohesion, cannot reach viable political settlements, have weak institutions, high corruption, and governments that struggle to deliver the most basic services to their population. Over the last 20 years large amounts of resources have been poured into these countries to try and strengthen their capacity, help the populations cope with fulfilling their most basic needs, and create a semblance of stability. Extremely expensive military operations somewhat helped in containing jihadi insurrections, but have not been able to deliver decisive progress. Bilateral donor organizations from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries and international development organizations have shored up their financing and developed strategies with some success but many of their programs remain very much classical state-building and development programs that have only limited effectiveness in these contexts. No surprise: Even the most optimistic assessments suggest that stability in fragile states requires a generational effort.
For many years, the U.S. strategic community has been engaged in a running debate: Do geopolitical threats or transnational threats matter more? During the intensive focus on the “global war on terror,” geopolitical dynamics received less attention. Now, as the U.S. and its allies are struggling to get on a competitive footing in geopolitical competition, they risk over-correcting and ignoring or paying insufficient attention to fragile states.
The End of Globalization as We Know It
The tension between the unprecedented need for global collective action and a growing aspiration to rebuild political communities behind national borders is a defining challenge for today’s policymakers. And it is currently unclear whether they can reconcile the two agendas.
(Project Syndicate) For most people, globalization has for decades been another name for across-the-board liberalization. … True, there were other aspects of globalization that bore little relation to market capitalism. The globalization of science and information broadened access to knowledge in unprecedented ways. Through increasingly international civic action, climate campaigners and human-rights defenders coordinated their initiatives as never before. Meanwhile, governance advocates argued early on that only the globalization of policies could balance the forward march of markets. But these other sides of globalization never measured up to the economic dimension. The globalization of policies was especially disappointing, with the 2008 financial crisis epitomizing how governance had failed.
This phase of globalization is now ending, for two reasons.
The first is the sheer magnitude of the challenges that the international community must tackle, of which global public health and the climate crisis are only the most prominent. The case for joint responsibility for the global commons is indisputable. Achievements here have been meager so far, but global governance has won the battle of ideas.
The second reason is political. Country after country has witnessed a rebellion of the left-behind, from Brexit to the election of Donald Trump as US president to the French “yellow vest” protests. Each community has expressed unhappiness in its own way, but the common threads are unmistakable. As Raghuram Rajan has put it, the world has become a “nirvana for the upper middle class” (and of course the wealthy), “where only the children of the successful succeed.” Those left out increasingly end up in the nativist camp, which offers a sense of belonging. This calls into question the political sustainability of globalization.
The world’s democracies, including Canada, face a historic choice
Roland Paris* and Jennifer Welsh*
(Globe & Mail) There was a time, not so long ago, when democracy seemed to be the world’s preeminent political system. Today, however, it has tumbled from that great height. Organizations that track global measures of democracy, such as Freedom House and the Economist Intelligence Unit, report a marked deterioration in political rights and liberties over the past 15 years. Those democratic countries still standing, many facing their own internal challenges, seem unsure of how to respond.
COVID-19 has only deepened this democratic recession, as elections are postponed in scores of countries, from Armenia to Zambia, and as governments around the world – and not just authoritarian ones – are using pandemic emergency measures to suppress their domestic critics. Meanwhile, China and Russia are extending their global influence through “vaccine diplomacy.” The stumbling response of the world’s most populous democracies – India, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Germany, Britain, France and others – to the biggest public-health emergency in a century has added to this malaise.
The recent history of democracy promotion is part of the problem, as the Biden administration itself has acknowledged. Its recent decision to leave Afghanistan has prompted sober reflection about what the 20-year effort achieved. When U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared in his first major speech that shoring up democracy would be an “imperative” for the new administration, he also renounced strategies aimed at overthrowing authoritarian regimes: “We have tried these tactics in the past … [and] they haven’t worked. They’ve given democracy promotion a bad name. … We will do things differently.”
** Roland Paris is a professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa and director-designate of its Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Jennifer Welsh is Canada 150 Research Chair in Global Governance and Security at McGill University and director of the Centre for International Peace and Security Studies.
The coronavirus is complicating Biden’s democracy agenda
Biden’s team is considering pushing the Summit for Democracy into next year.
(Vox) According to multiple US officials, the Biden administration is thinking of pushing the summit into at least 2022, citing concerns about hosting a large, in-person meeting of world leaders during a pandemic and the optics of such an event. The summit isn’t even on the president’s calendar yet, two sources said.
The summit was one of the president’s most specific foreign policy proposals. On his campaign website and in articles, Biden said he wanted the US to host dozens of nations and civil society groups to discuss fighting corruption, curbing authoritarianism, and promoting human rights. The event would “renew the spirit and shared purpose of the nations of the free world,” Biden wrote in Foreign Affairs last year.
Such a summit would serve as the capstone to Biden’s first-year theme of proving American democracy, and the democratic governments of America’s allies and partners, can deliver for the world better than autocratic regimes can.
(Foreign Affairs) The foreign ministers of the G-7 countries —Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States— met in person in London this week, making headlines with an expression of support for Taiwan and criticism of Russian aggression toward Ukraine. But beyond issuing joint communiqués, what does this kind of forum really achieve? Are traditional systems of global governance still relevant today? A multipolar and ideologically diverse world calls for a new kind of international structure, Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan argue.
The New Concert of Powers
How to Prevent Catastrophe and Promote Stability in a Multipolar World
By Richard N. Haass and Charles A. Kupchan
“The best vehicle for promoting stability in the twenty-first century is a global concert of major powers. As the history of the nineteenth-century Concert of Europe demonstrated—its members were the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Prussia, and Austria—a steering group of leading countries can curb the geopolitical and ideological competition that usually accompanies multipolarity.” (23 March 2021)
Globalization’s Coming Golden Age — Why Crisis Ends in Connection
By Harold James
(Foreign Affairs) Globalization comes in cycles: periods of increasing integration are followed by shocks, crises, and destructive backlashes. After the Great Depression, the world slid into autarky, nationalism, authoritarianism, zero-sum thinking, and, ultimately, war—a series of events often presented as a grim parable of the consequences of globalization’s reversal. Yet history shows that many crises produce more, rather than less, globalization. Challenges can generate new creative energy, better communication, and a greater willingness to learn from effective solutions adopted elsewhere. Governments often realize that their ability to competently deliver the services their populations demand requires answers found abroad.
COVID-19, like the 1840s famines and the 1970s oil shocks, presents both a crisis and a learning opportunity. The United States has coasted on the idea that the world needs the English language and the U.S. dollar. Neither of those assumptions can hold forever. Just as automatic translation technology is increasing linguistic accessibility, a different currency could become a new international standard. The dollar is not an adequate insurance policy or a viable basis for Washington to reject the need for change.
The challenge of the new upswing in the cycle of globalization will be to find ways to learn and adapt—increasing the effectiveness of government and business—without compromising fundamental values. As in the 1840s and the 1970s, financial and monetary innovation, or the tonic of inflation, will drive transformational change. Memories of crisis will push countries and governments to adapt in 2021 and beyond, just as they have before.
The New Age of Protectionism
Coronavirus “Vaccine Wars” Could Herald a Broader Retreat From the Free Market
By Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman
(Foreign Affairs) The EU’s recent swerve toward reverse protectionism has brought a hidden power struggle into the open. This fight goes far beyond the fight over vaccines; it has exposed fundamental problems with globalization that will be difficult to paper over. States now see the global economy as a source of vulnerability as well as growth—a venue in which to limit their own dependencies while exploiting those of their opponents. Geopolitics is slowly muscling free-market relations out of the way. Although autocracies and wealthy democracies may survive and even thrive in this new world, weaker and poorer states must decide how best to protect their interests.
It Can Happen Here
Nazism was so horrifying and so barbaric that for many people in nations where authoritarianism is now achieving a foothold, it is hard to see parallels between Hitler’s regime and their own governments.
(New York Review of Books) …some depictions of Hitler’s rise are more intimate and personal. They focus less on well-known leaders, significant events, state propaganda, murders, and war, and more on the details of individual lives. They help explain how people can not only participate in dreadful things but also stand by quietly and live fairly ordinary days in the midst of them. They offer lessons for people who now live with genuine horrors, and also for those to whom horrors may never come but who live in nations where democratic practices and norms are under severe pressure. – 28 June 2018
Henry A. Kissinger: The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order
The founding legend of modern government is a walled city protected by powerful rulers, sometimes despotic, other times benevolent, yet always strong enough to protect the people from an external enemy. Enlightenment thinkers reframed this concept, arguing that the purpose of the legitimate state is to provide for the fundamental needs of the people: security, order, economic well-being, and justice. Individuals cannot secure these things on their own. The pandemic has prompted an anachronism, a revival of the walled city in an age when prosperity depends on global trade and movement of people.
The world’s democracies need to defend and sustain their Enlightenment values. A global retreat from balancing power with legitimacy will cause the social contract to disintegrate both domestically and internationally. Yet this millennial issue of legitimacy and power cannot be settled simultaneously with the effort to overcome the Covid-19 plague. Restraint is necessary on all sides—in both domestic politics and international diplomacy. Priorities must be established.
For Autocrats, and Others, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Power
Leaders around the world have passed emergency decrees and legislation expanding their reach during the pandemic. Will they ever relinquish them?
(NYT) In Hungary, the prime minister can now rule by decree. In Britain, ministers have what a critic called “eye-watering” power to detain people and close borders. Israel’s prime minister has shut down courts and begun an intrusive surveillance of citizens. Chile has sent the military to public squares once occupied by protesters. Bolivia has postponed elections.
As the coronavirus pandemic brings the world to a juddering halt and anxious citizens demand action, leaders across the globe are invoking executive powers and seizing virtually dictatorial authority with scant resistance.
Governments and rights groups agree that these extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. States need new powers to shut their borders, enforce quarantines and track infected people. Many of these actions are protected under international rules, constitutional lawyers say.
But critics say some governments are using the public health crisis as cover to seize new powers that have little to do with the outbreak, with few safeguards to ensure that their new authority will not be abused.
The laws are taking swift hold across a broad range of political systems — in authoritarian states like Jordan, faltering democracies like Hungary, and traditional democracies like Britain. And there are few sunset provisions to ensure that the powers will be rescinded once the threat passes.
The pandemic is already redefining norms. Invasive surveillance systems in South Korea and Singapore, which would have invited censure under normal circumstances, have been praised for slowing infections. Governments that initially criticized China for putting millions of its citizens under lockdown have since followed suit.
ACLED 2020: The Year in Review
ACLED’s 2020 annual report reviews the past year of data on political violence and demonstration activity around the world.
One year since the official start of the pandemic in March 2020, COVID-19 has killed more than two million people and brought at least half the earth’s population under lockdown (New York Times, 11 March 2021; New York Times, 3 April 2020). The health crisis has had major impacts on worldwide conflict and disorder patterns, contributing to an overall decrease in political violence levels last year even as it fueled an increase in demonstration activity. And while the pandemic’s effects have been global in scale, they have not been felt equally across conflict contexts: although violence declined on the aggregate level, it rose in nearly half the world’s countries. As vaccine distribution accelerates and countries relax public health restrictions, conflict levels are expected to increase throughout 2021(for more, see ACLED’s special report: Ten Conflicts to Worry About in 2021).
The World Is Experiencing a New Form of Autocracy
Tim Horley, Anne Meng, Mila Versteeg
A new generation of autocrats has perfected the art of looking democratic while pursuing authoritarian goals. Whether they succeed usually comes down to whether ordinary citizens take the threat seriously enough to do something about it.
(The Atlantic) In March 2018, Donald Trump, addressing a crowd of donors at his Florida estate, told what sounded like a joke. He was talking about the recent amendment of China’s constitution to remove presidential term limits, allowing Xi Jinping to serve in that office indefinitely. About Xi, Trump said: “He’s now president for life, president for life. And he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give it a shot someday.” The crowd cheered and applauded in response. In fact, Trump has told one version or another of this joke many times since becoming president.
And though Trump’s remarks are generally perceived as facetious, many of his counterparts on the world stage are quite serious. In January, Vladimir Putin addressed the Russian nation in an annual State of the Union–esque speech. Alongside pledges to improve living standards by, among other things, offering free hot meals to schoolchildren, he proposed major constitutional reforms that could see the presidential office weakened and the prime ministry and State Council strengthened—measures very likely aimed at ensuring that Putin can remain in power after 2024, when constitutional term limits will force him out of the presidency.
This is how authoritarianism looks today. Our original study documents all term-limit-evasion strategies worldwide since the year 2000. We found that presidential-term-limit evasion is exceedingly common: About one-third of all presidents who reached the end of their term made a serious attempt to overstay. Two-thirds of those who made the attempt succeeded.
What’s particularly interesting is not only that so many presidents try to evade term limits, but that they are more and more sophisticated and legalistic in how they do so. Whereas leaders once used unmistakably authoritarian actions to stay in power, such as banning opposition parties or dismissing the legislature, today’s heads of state instead use democratic institutions and legal measures to subvert constitutional constraints on their power. More specifically, we found that there are four basic strategies for evading term limits, none of which violates a constitution outright: adding constitutional amendments, rewriting the constitution, using the courts to reinterpret the constitution, and appointing a placeholder president.
The first and most common strategy—used in some 66 percent of the attempts in our data—is simply to amend the constitution to extend or remove term limits. This is the path Xi took when, with hardly a whisper of dissent, he removed any limit on the number of five-year terms he could serve. … In Rwanda, for instance, Paul Kagame presided over a constitutional-amendment process that will allow him to serve for a total of 35 years (or longer, if further amendments are in the offing).
… A second strategy, which constitutes about 8 percent of evasion attempts, is what we call the “blank slate” strategy: when a leader creates an entirely new constitution, essentially nullifying the old term limits. When a new constitution is created, the leader’s term is effectively restarted, without any apparent constitutional violation. This was one of the methods employed by former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir until his ouster last year:
… A third strategy, which has had remarkable success in Latin America in particular, is to challenge the very legality of term limits in court. This strategy constitutes about 15 percent of evasion attempts since the turn of the millennium. In Nicaragua, for example, President Daniel Ortega was able to successfully remove term limits from his nation’s constitution by arguing that they were a violation of his human rights. The court, reasoning from a body of constitutional and human-rights law, agreed. A similar story unfolded in Bolivia and Honduras. In fact, though one might be tempted to put faith in judges to prevent executive overstay, our study found that courts are remarkably pliant. With the important exception of Colombia, where the Constitutional Court blocked Álvaro Uribe’s attempt to extend his term a second time, courts tend to sign off on term-limit evasion in all its guises.
A fourth strategy, also constituting about 15 percent of evasion attempts, is what we call the “faithful-agent strategy,” which involves presidents seeking a successor they can control, so that they can continue to govern even while formally out of office. Putin was previously able to extend his own rule using this strategy.
… Finally, a small handful of presidents were able to stay past their term by illegally delaying or canceling elections. … one-third of overstay attempts did fail—and typically in spectacular fashion. In recent years, popular movements in Malawi, Burkina Faso, and Paraguay, among many others, have forced presidents to back down. (Burning down parliament, where the president’s allies may be at work on legislation to extend the president’s term, seems to be a particularly effective palliative.)
Chris Patten: Liberal Democracy and Its Enemies
The challenges facing Western liberal democracies today are serious enough to recall Europe’s descent into tyranny in the 1930s, and should inspire sensible Americans and Europeans to mobilize to prevent any recurrence. While crying wolf is rarely recommended, sometimes there really is a wolf skulking through the wood.
(Project Syndicate) The growing disillusion with democratic government is evident in the rise of leaders such as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and, of course, Donald Trump. The US president appears reckless in his attitude to the Constitution, the rule of law, freedom of the press, and civil political debate. America used to be the standard bearer for liberal democracy and human rights. But the Trump administration prefers tough-guy authoritarians to democrats, and even attacks democratic US allies.Others indulge in their own forms of populism. In Britain, the Conservative Party’s rejection of close ties with Europe is accompanied by threats to assault institutions that have hitherto restrained executive power. These include Britain’s independent courts and judges, its world-class public-service broadcaster, the BBC, and any civil-society organization likely to disagree with the executive.
The World Economic Forum deserves criticism, but we need it now more than ever
(Brookings) … It is in these precarious times that we need Davos more than ever. Economic and corporate leadership on global governance challenges is so urgently needed today for two reasons: First, political leadership around the world is stalled or gridlocked, preventing progress; and second, the global challenges we face — from climate emergency to the perils of populist nationalism, from the regulation of cyberspace and the ownership of data to the dangers and opportunities of mass human movements — cannot be solved without action by wealth-holders and decisionmakers of the corporate community.
The failure of political leadership to address these challenges is evident on a global scale. President Trump’s retreat from U.S. leadership is but a symptom of a larger movement by national governments to look inward, build fences with the outside world, and hope for the best. From Boris Johnson’s Brexit to Jair Bolsanaro’s realignment of Brazilian foreign policy, from Narendra Modi’s turn to populism in India to Viktor Orbán’s version of Hungarian nationalism, governments across the globe are retreating from our common challenges.
At the same moment that governmental leadership has faltered, the nature of our collective global challenges has shifted in ways that make corporate leadership and economic might all the more important. Take, for example, the climate emergency facing humanity today.