Why China will win the trade war (by Philippe Legrain)

13 April 2018

Edge of Change (Issue 009)Although Donald Trump has a strong faith that the U.S. would win the trade war with China, this Foreign Policy piece argues that China is much stronger politically and economically. If we take into account the trade war, the authors highlight that the both parties will lose, however, they will do their best to get less damaged. Mr. Legrain makes a point that the U.S. is very vulnerable when it comes to American-branded products assembled in China, as well as imported Chinese parts and components. In contrast, China is less dependent on the imports of American products. For instance, U.S.-produced civilian aircraft will be replaced by the Chinese or alternative European aircraft; meanwhile, soybean demand can be met with purchases from Brazil in the case of a trade war. Furthermore, the author believes that China can mitigate economic damage easier than the U.S., considering the power of the Chinese central bank. Additionally, the Chinese government has the healthier fiscal position and can easily compensate industries damaged by the trade war. On the global scale, the author also reveals U.S. disadvantages since American tariffs will hit other foreign suppliers, which can result in undermining a potential united front of the West. As a concluding point, unilateral acts by the U.S. will constitute a breach of the World Trade Organization rules.

 

The end of the democratic century (by Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa)

16 April 2018

Edge of Change (Issue 009)This big essay, published at the Foreign Affairs, discusses the decline of liberal democracy on the global scale, taking as a starting point the dramatic decline of the democratic countries’ share of the world GDP. The authors find a correlation between the economic dominance of democratic countries and global appeal of liberal ideas and suggest that the common belief about the growing attractiveness of these ideas is misleading- in fact, temporary triumph of Western liberal states in the 20th century could have spurred the interest of many people around the world in democratic governance. However, in the recent decades these very states have revealed a growing number of socioeconomic ills, as economic growth stagnated and- most significantly- inequality has been rapidly increasing, undermining the social fabric. At the same time, many authoritarian states turned out to be easily adapting to the modern world and managed to secure sustainable increase in living standards. However, the authors are even more worried because the leaders of the authoritarian world, such as China, Singapore, Russia and Gulf states are decreasing the gap with the liberal world in such fields as higher education, innovation and information, which may bring the Western dominance to an end. They conclude that regardless of what ideas will ultimately triumph, the era of the uncontested global leadership of the West is already over. 

 

The Republican Party is organised around one man

19 April 2018

The article discusses Mr. Trump’s temperament and style of government. It criticizes the organizing principles of Trump’s Republican Party, where loyalty to just one man, namely Trump, has turned out into one of the leading principles just in a matter of a year. Obviously, this principle poses a great threat to the foundations of American democracy that has long pretended to constitute an example for the whole world. As Mr. Trump cannot distinguish between facts and falsehoods, he usually comes up with his own “truth” and requires form everyone in his team to accept it without reservations. While buttressing the president’s popularity among his support base, this approach is bound to undermine the positions of the Republican party that increasingly alienates its non-Trumpist supporters. Moreover, the article claims, tribal politics preached by Trump can easily put American politics, characterized by the growing racial diversity, in a big trouble. 

 

What to expect from talks with North Korea 

19 April 2018

The article published by The Economist explores the possibilities coming from the talks with North Korea. Despite a fact that talks with North Korea promise possible peace and denuclearization, the talks will probably turn out to be more complicated than it seems now. First of all, the South and North talks will inevitably bring about human rights issues as well. Furthermore, even after a peace agreement between the North and South, American sanctions will continue to be a huge burden for the development of tourism. Finally, the article claims that the U.S. and North Korea look at the outcomes of the talk through different lenses. While President Trump supports the maximum pressure on North Korea until it abandons its nuclear activities, North Korea only would reduce its nuclear arsenal if America withdraws its forces from South Korea and removes its nuclear umbrella in Asia, including South Korea and Japan. North Korean desire also overlaps with the Chinese one, which can result in America’s loss of power in the region.

 

Lost in the Middle East: The incoherence of Washington's Syria policy is a symptom of its failure to define a new role in the world (by Steven A. Cook)

20 April 2018

Steven A. Cook argues that recent military operation against Bashar’s regime was feeble enough to conclude that the U.S. has no Syria strategy. He suggests that in order to get a deeper insight of the reasons preventing the U.S. from taking certain actions to resolve or manage the conflict one should understand the broader debate about America’s role in the world. No one yet knows or understands the US interests and foreign policy in a new era. Neither Mr. Trump not his predecessor have defined what should be important for the USA in the Middle East. Americans are not sure about their interests in the Middle East, and the much-described “war fatigue” might turn out to be not the reason but the consequences of this suspended state of mind, as the clear borders and distinctions of the Cold war era have faded away and instead of them Washington has to face a complicated array of challenges and threats which are very hard to navigate. Hence, the Syrian conflict itself turned into a fight for the extension of the Iranian influence in the region and re-emergence of Russia as the major power in the Middle East. 

 

The bluffers (by Vladimir Pastukhov)

23 April 2017

Edge of Change (Issue 009)A prominent Russian political scientist V. Pastukhov analyzes the core reasons of the escalating tension between Russia and the West, especially U.S. He assumes that the quasi-Cold war we now live does not have purely objective reasons and stems from the overall malaise of the global order and particularly the place of the big powers within it. Both the U.S. and Russia have not been flexible enough to adapt to the post-Cold war reality and as a result, have developed very unrealistic perceptions of their role and capabilities in the 21st century. While Moscow looks back, into the days of its glory and pretends that it can still remain the superpower it used to be, Washington, assuming that the whole world would now play by the same rules, also made a strategic mistake. Moreover, the current situation is exacerbated by the outlooks of the countries’ leaders, both of whom capitalize on the heightened expectations and champion the return to days of glory. Thus, Mr. Pastukhov argues, though no party really wants a war and there are no vital interests at stake between Russia and the West, the systemic unpredictability and fragility may still bring about tragic outcomes. 

 

Tories’ ‘imperial vision’ for post-Brexit trade branded disruptive and deluded (by Arthur Neslen)

28 April 2018

The Guardian continues criticizing the UK’s government recent obsession with Commonwealth as the pinnacle of post-Brexit foreign policy, particularly regarding the proposed free trade agreement within this large but loose group of the former British colonies and dominions. It came out as an unpleasant surprise for the Whitehall that the Commonwealth members, especially the less-developed countries of Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific region, are not particularly enthused about bandwagoning on the project and instead prefer to delay any such deal for at least a 6-year term after Brexit, in order not to hurt their industries and trade. Moreover, these countries are set to condition a trade deal with Britain’s increased commitment to foreign aid: some believe that the annual British contribution to the EU aid programmes should be maintained after London leaves the Union, or at least fully diverted to the Commonwealth budget.