domingo, 19 de mayo de 2019

Brasil: los límites del "lawfare"


Comienza a desdibujarse la estrategia imperial del "lawfare" en América Latina. Protagonista principal de este acontecimiento es el presidente de Brasil, Jair Bolsonaro (a la izuierda en la foto), quien comienza a cosechar masivos repudios en su país. Lo que sigue son dos notas de hoy en Página/12:



Título: Crisis con cara de Bolsonaro

Autor: Eric Nepomuceno

Texto: En menos de cinco meses Jair Bolsonaro (foto) y sus ministros dieron sobradas pruebas de una asombrosa capacidad para cometer errores. Cuando parecen a punto de acertar, se equivocan con una habilidad y una rapidez extraordinarias. El presidente, además, se muestra de una osadía notable: no teme al ridículo. Al contrario, lo busca de manera incesante. 

El más reciente ejemplo de esa habilidad singular fue ofrecido por estos días. Rechazado por Nueva York, donde recibiría el título de “personalidad brasileña del año” ofrecido por la cámara de comercio Brasil-Estados Unidos, anunció haber sido invitado por Dallas, Texas. De paso, visitaría, también atendiendo a una invitación, al ex presidente George W. Bush.

Bueno: Bolsonaro viajó a Dallas, fue recibido en un almuerzo con empresarios y visitó a Bush. 

Pero el alcalde Mike Rawlings aclaró que jamás lo había invitado y que repudiaba sus posiciones ultraderechistas. El asesor de Bush, Freddy Ford, negó cualquier invitación, y aclaró que el ex presidente suele atender a pedidos de embajadas para recibir mandatarios. Y para cierre, Jorge Baldor, presidente del World Affairs Council, donde se dio el almuerzo, dijo que se trataba exactamente de eso –un almuerzo– y no un homenaje.

Aprovechando su visita a Estados Unidos –la segunda en dos meses– Bolsonaro comentó las multitudinarias manifestaciones que llevaron dos millones de brasileños a las calles protestando contra su gobierno el pasado miércoles. Dijo que eran “idiotas útiles, imbéciles”. 

Siempre se sospechó que Bolsonaro mantenía prudencial distancia de la realidad. Lo que ahora se sabe es que, más que eso, el ultraderechista no tiene ninguna relación con la realidad. Vive en otro mundo, donde la única regla es mantener antagonismos rabiosos y creer píamente en lo que le dicen tanto el trío de hijos como el astrólogo que le sirve de gurú.

Los pilares que sostuvieron su candidatura y deberían sostener a su gobierno dan clarísimas muestras de resquebrarse. Los grandes medios de comunicación, esenciales tanto para la deposición de la ex presidenta Dilma Rousseff como para la demonización de Lula y de la izquierda en general, disparan críticas cada vez más contundentes al capitán descerebrado. El mercado financiero, que apostó fuerte al fundamentalismo neoliberal del ministro de Economía, Paulo Guedes, ya sabe que el año está perdido. Y el tercer pilar, formado por los militares, parece perdido entre las idas y vueltas del desgobierno. Los uniformados ya saben que no logran controlar al incontrolable Bolsonaro. Y saben que, de seguir el panorama como está,  él no llega a fin de año. 

Si a eso se suma la profunda crisis social, con 14 millones de desempleados y otros 23 millones subempleados, el creciente rechazo del electorado –en especial los que votaron a Bolsonaro como forma de castigo al PT de Lula y a la izquierda–, la absoluta incapacidad de los ministros para llevar adelante cualquier programa mínimamente elaborado y la ausencia de articulación en el Congreso que le permita gobernar, se entenderá la inexistencia de salida en el horizonte.

Para colmar el vaso, se investigan los lazos del senador Flavio, uno de los hijos presidenciales, con un esquema de desvío de recursos públicos, lavado de dinero y vínculos con grupos de exterminio de Río. La investigación seguramente alcanzará a otros dos hijos, a la primera dama y como mínimo se acercará al presidente.  

Resultado: pasados menos de cinco meses desde su estreno, el gobierno de Bolsonaro ni siquiera empezó y su mandato ya está en riesgo. Las reiteradas muestras de absoluto desequilibrio y falta de preparación hicieron disparar alarmas por doquier. 

La cuestión ahora es saber cómo y cuándo catapultarlo del sillón presidencial, a menos, claro, que le advenga un instante de lucidez y acepte desempeñar un rol meramente decorativo. Ocurre que lucidez y Bolsonaro son totalmente incompatibles. 

El pasado viernes empezaron a circular rumores de una posible renuncia. Tratándose de un bufón envalentonado, suena poco creíble. Tratándose de un desequilibrado, todo es posible. 

Jamás en la historia brasileña un gobierno se desgastó tanto en tan poco tiempo. Salvo el pequeño grupo de incondicionales, a los demás cada día les queda más fuerte la sensación de que no hay cómo corregir el escenario contando con la presencia del capitán y su trío de hijos igualmente incontrolables.

El problema es encontrar quién se decida a dar el primer paso, y cuándo y cómo.



***


Título: La protesta de los “idiotas útiles”

Epígrafe: Bolsonaro, enardecido por las manifestaciones en Brasil

Autor: Dario Pignotti

Texto: Jair Bolsonaro trastabilla. Se le enredó la lengua cuando finalizaba un discurso pronunciado el jueves en Dallas con la frase –destinada a quedar en los anales de su paso por el poder– “Brasil y Estados Unidos encima de todos”. Fue durante un almuerzo con empresarios en esa ciudad tejana y no en Nueva York como estaba previsto inicialmente porque allí es visto como una persona no grata repudiada por su alcalde, el precandidato presidencial por el partido Demócrata Bill de Blasio,  agrupaciones ambientalistas y de la comunidad GLBT que habían prometido realizar actos en su contra.

Antes de confraternizar con petroleros y banqueros declaró a un grupo de periodistas que las movilizaciones lideradas por estudiantes el último miércoles en unas doscientas ciudades brasileñas fueron cosa de “idiotas útiles”. En este caso habló a los gritos con una modulación muy distinta al tono inseguro, genuflexo, empleado en el banquete con los tejanos, donde dijo “queremos a los empresarios norteamericanos de nuestro lado” y prometió , a través del ministro de Economía Paulo Guedes, una privatización encubierta del Banco de Brasil mediante la fusión con el Bank of América.

La noticia de las movilizaciones en los 27 estados brasileños opacó el impacto del evento en Dallas al que ni siquiera fue el secretario de Estado norteamericano, el republicano Mike Pompeo, pese a que era uno de los convidados especiales pues iba a recibir el premio a la personalidad del año junto a Bolsonaro. El presidente estaba enardecido contra los manifestantes a los que consideró “manipulados” por el Partido de los Trabajadores que en decenas de concentraciones donde, recordó, se desplegaron pasacalles con el lema “Lula Libre”. Que no haya podido desembarcar en Nueva York mientras cerca de dos millones de manifestantes en unas doscientas ciudades brasileñas se reunieron para repudiarlo demuestran que el militar jubilado es un fiasco al frente del Palacio del Planalto.

Lo visto en las avenidas de  San Pablo, Rio de Janeiro y Brasilia revela un descontento social amplio porque detrás de los estudiantes había profesores, sindicalistas y padres de alumnos. “Fui a la Avenida Paulista  con mi nieto de 14 años, hacía años que no estaba en una concentración igual, impresionante la cantidad de gente,  muchos chicos de las escuelas privadas, de clase media al lado de los que venían en grupos de las escuelas publicas, profesores de la Universidad de San Pablo (estatal)  y muchos de las privadas, estaba la rectora de la Pontificia Universidad Católica (la más importante privada del país) , Maria Abib Andery”, le contó a este diario Adriano Diogo, ex presidente de la Comisión de la Verdad sobre la dictadura de San Pablo.

Desde la mañana del miércoles decenas de miles marcharon por la avenida principal de Brasilia donde hubo un alto acatamiento a la huelga en las escuelas primarias y secundarias, y un cese total en la Universidad de Brasilia (UNB). “Bolsonaro tiene una fijación con la UNB por su historia de enfrentamiento a la dictadura, que nos costó la intervención militar, y ahora estamos preocupados porque se dice que quiera intervenirla de vuelta con cualquier excusa”, señaló el médico José Lorenzo, de la Asociación de Docentes de la UNB, entrevistado por PáginaI12.

El paro de la comunidad educativa del miércoles 15 de mayo, del que ya se habla como el 15M, fue  una revuelta pacífica contra el régimen que tal vez haya dado inicio de una fase de ascenso de la resistencia democrática y popular. El recorte al presupuesto universitario se suma a una desocupación y subocupación que afecta a 28 millones de trabajadores (13 millones son desocupados puros), un crecimiento económico que ya se proyecta entre el 1,1 y 1,5 por ciento contra el 2,5 prometido a comienzos del año y un escándalo de corrupción y posible vínculos con las “milicias” paramilitares que envuelve a Flavio Bolsonaro, hijo y apadrinado político del mandatario. 

“La medida de fuerza del miércoles fue el mejor arranque posible para calentar a la militancia  hacia la huelga general del 14 de junio contra la reforma previsional (...) la mayoría de los brasileños ya comprendió que este gobierno atiende a la parte más rica de la sociedad”, declaró Douglas Izzo de la Central Unica de los Trabajadores.

Bolsonaro profesa un desprecio viceral por los universitarios a los que asocia con el “marxismo cultural” que habría  tomado cuenta de las casas de altos estudios. Frente a ese enemigo imaginario su estrategia es acabar, o hacer tanto daño como sea posible, en las universidades aduciendo que no hay presupuesto al tiempo que promete construir colegios militares.

Su flamante ministro de educación, Abraham Weintraub, llegó a decir que el recorte del presupuesto era una forma de escarmiento contra las facultades donde hay  “balburdia” (desorden, quilombo), incentivada especialmente las carreras de ciencias humanas y sociales. El primer titular de esa cartera, profesor Ricardo Vélez Rodriguez, propuso en sus poco más de tres meses de gestión que los libros escolares quiten las referencias a la dictadura militar, la cual en su definición fue un “régimen democrático de fuerza” y aseguraba que las universidades eran “antros bolivarianos”.

Bolsonaro obtuvo buenos resultados electorales el año pasado sustentado en las fake news y unos argumentos disparatados que lograron captar el voto de 57 millones de ciudadanos, una parte de los cuales ya dejó de creerle de acuerdo a los que indican todas las encuestas en las que perdió unos quince puntos de popularidad. El viernes, al regreso de Texas, divulgó un artículo reconociendo su incompetencia para llevar adelante un país “ingobernable” y pidió que “Dios nos ayude”.

El texto ambivalente se prestó a varias interpretaciones: unos lo entendieron como una forma de incitar a sus seguidores a una movilización oficialista el 26 de junio a otros les recordó una carta escrita por el efímero presidente Janio Quadros que cayó ocho meses después de asumir en 1961. Los ejemplos de Quadros y Fernando Collor de Mello, que gobernó entre 1990 y 1992, son citados frecuentemente en los despachos del Congreso y las mesas de algunos restaurantes caros de Brasilia frecuentados por funcionarios y jueces.

El futuro de Bolsonaro se presta a dudas especulaciones de todo tipo –incluso la que habla de un autogolpe– al tiempo que parte de sus aliados toma distancia del gobierno y los medios dominantes le dedican editoriales  cada vez más duros. Por ejemplo el publicado el viernes por el Folha de Sao Paulo que, jugando con su frase sobre la protesta de los “idiotas útiles”, se refirió al presidente como un “idiota inútil”.


lunes, 6 de mayo de 2019

-5,58%


Así cerraban los mercados chinos esta mañana, después de conocerse las noticias sobre el colapso de las negociaciones entre ese país y los EEUU. Nueva York abre en minutos. Veremos... Mientras tanto, leemos en el sitio web World Affairs:


Título: TRUMP THREATENS TO RAISE TARIFFS ON CHINA AGAIN

Texto: Trump tweeted this morning that he will raise the tariffs on Chinese goods from 10% to 25%. Obviously the US-China trade talks are stumbling. This is a bit surprising, since just a few days ago, the Trump administration was telling everyone that the deal is about to be finalized be next Friday.

Trump and the China hawks in his team (Lighthizer, especially) are playing hardball. To be fair, China has compromised a lot in the last few months as it:

— got rid of technology transfer requirements

— got rid of mandatory joint ventures

— opened many new sectors for foreign competition (while the USA blocks Huawei)

— passed laws for IP protection

— agreed to buy lots of soybeans, oil etc. to reduce the trade deficit

— even stopped talking about “Made in China 2025” plan.


And many western corporations have already made use of these laws. For example, Tesla opened a fully-owned factory in Shanghai, without the need for a Chinese partner. BMW bought shares in its joint venture and became a majority owner. A German insurance company (Allianz) was able to open a fully-owned subsidiary in China. American Express was finally allowed to operate in China. Visa and Mastercard were told they could do the same in 2-3 years.

What more can Xi Jinping do? He keeps compromising, while the US keeps turning the screws. Here are some of the ways the US is kicking China, while demanding all sorts of compromises from the Chinese:

— spreading unproven allegations about “1 million Muslims in concentration camps”. The Uyghur story is absolute nonsense. Just two days ago, the number was raised to “3 million.” No proof needed!

— Arresting Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou

— Preventing many Chinese corporations from buying or investing in US corporations. The CFIUS has stopped numerous acquisitions by China over the last two years (Lattice Semiconductor, Moneygram and others)

— Forcing a Chinese company to sell its shares in Grindr (coz it’s a gay dating app and the Chinese may blackmail some of the members!)

— Preventing Chinese scholars or refusing visa for Chinese students from doing research on certain topics in US universities

— The US military officials and the Pentagon constantly declaring that China is a threat

— US warships sailing the Taiwan Strait numerous times; and the US selling new fighter jets and tanks to Taiwan

— US relentlessly smearing China’s Belt and Road Initiative and trying to stop other countries from joining that infrastructure project

To summarize, the US position is: “Hey China, you’re evil, so we will kick you, sabotage you and demonize you. But you must open up your economy, allow US corporations to profit from your market, and buy lots of American goods to help our economy.”

This is chutzpah. There’s no win-win philosophy here. Let’s see how this all ends …

Update on Sunday evening: China might cancel the trade talks this week! Stock futures are already down. It will be an interesting week …




martes, 30 de abril de 2019

Westfalia, otra vez


Te despertás una mañana y leés que el CEO de la compañía de mercenarios Blackwater, Erik Prince, propuso a la administración Trump la privatización del golpe institucional en curso en la República de Venezuela. Mientras se te va atragantando la tostada, leés en Reuters que el sr. Prince propone desplegar un ejército privado para deponer al presidente Nicolás Maduro. Empezás a toser cuando leés la parte de la nota que afirma que "...Price has reportedly sought access to Trump administration officials to whom he's attempting to pitch the whole operation, said to involve some 5,000 soldiers-for-hire to be used by opposition leader Juan Guaido, according to multiple sources who spoke to Reuters. The controversial private security CEO has sought investments from both Trump supporters and wealthy Venezuelan exiles, and reportedly held meetings over the plan as recently as mid-April."  

Es tanta la disonancia cognitiva que produce en uno la lectura de notas como esta que verdaderamente cuesta horrores empezar siquiera a analizarla. Nos viene a la mente, en primer lugar, la idea de Estado-Nación y sus múltiples significados. Recordamos una luminosa nota de Vladislav B. Sotirovic, escrita en Diciembre de 2017, que encontramos estos días en el sitio web Oriental Review

Westfalia, otra vez. Acá va:



Título: The Peace Treaty of Westphalia (1648) and its Consequences for International Relations

Texto: International relations (IR) from the mid-17th century to the mid-20th century were founded on the decisions by the Peace Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 that ended the Thirty Years War. However, from the beginning of the 21st century, the IR are once again more and more framed by the international standards established in 1648.


The Thirty Years War (1618-1648)

This (First Pan-European) war was a confessional-political conflict, in essence, between the Protestant and the Roman Catholic leaders with very catastrophic consequences in population losses and material destructions as, for instance, the German lands lost approximately one-third of its pre-war population with some regions depopulated up to 90%. From the late 16th century onward, Europe, especially her central part, was experienced by religious confrontations between, on one hand, the Roman Catholics, and, on other hand, the Protestants (the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Zwinglians), who seriously challenged the right of the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire to decide on their religion. It is estimated that almost 8 million people in Europe lost their lives during the war.[1]

The war started in 1618 as a regional conflict between the Protestants and the Roman Catholics on the territory of the Kingdom of Bohemia within the Holy Roman Empire, but soon it involved the armies of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Kingdom of England, the Kingdom of France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Spain, and finally the Kingdom of Sweden. More precisely, the conflict began when the Roman Catholic archbishop of Prague destroyed several Protestant churches. The Bohemian Protestants appealed to the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire to settle this issue, but his intervention did not satisfy the Protestants and the war started when the Protestants from the emperor’s palace in Prague committed the Second Defenestration in the Bohemian history (threw two emperor’s ministers out of a window, deposed the Roman Catholic king of Bohemia and elected as a new one the Protestant Frederick, elector of the Palatine). The struggle for the souls became in this war the focal reason for the combat regardless to the fact that in some cases the rulers have been much more interested in keeping their posts than to fight for the religious dogma. From the chronologic viewpoint, the war is divided into three periods:

1. From 1618 to 1622

2. From 1623 to 1634

3. From 1635 to 1648

The Roman Catholic emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Ferdinand II (1619-1637) from the house of Habsburgs, up to 1623 was victorious in the war with a great help provided by Bayern (Bavaria) and the Habsburg Spain. However, Ferdinand’s political ambitions in the Central Europe and his military alliance with the Spanish branch of the Habsburg house provoked the revolt of the Protestant states of Europe followed by the Roman Catholic France as a traditional Habsburg’s enemy. Denmark became a leader of the Protestant league in 1625 which became, in fact, a coalition against the house of Habsburgs. After having been beaten in several battles by the Habsburg generals, Denmark’s army left the war by signing the Treaty of Lübeck in 1629 when Ferdinand II consolidated his power. A new moment in changing the balance of power came when a Protestant Sweden of the king Gustav II Adolf (1611-1632) joined the war. The war was ended on the lands of Germany by the Treaty of Prague (1635) with the Habsburg victory, but the Swedish and Dutch ally France joined the war against the Habsburgs in the same year to alter the destiny of the war once again. Therefore, it was not until France joined Sweden in 1635 that the tide of the war started to turn against Vatican’s sponsored Habsburgs as the main protectors of the Roman Catholicism in Europe. Subsequently, from 1635 the war lost much of its original religious character as for France it was not so much a religious struggle against Vatican and the Holy Roman Empire but rather a political conflict for power in Europe. The combined forces of France and Sweden were enough to overcome the armies of the Holy Roman Empire. The crucial disputes between the states engaged in the war became solved by the Peace Treaty of Westphalia (1648), but the war between France and the Habsburg Spain was finished only in 1659 by the Treaty of the Pyrenees.[2]


The Peace Treaty of Westphalia (1648) and its Consequences for IR

After 30 years of bloody battles, massacres, and changing side in alliances, the Thirty Years War was ended on October 24th, 1648 by the Peace Treaty of Westphalia, which was signed twice at two different places: first at Münster and later at Osnabrück (i.e, in one the Roman Catholic city and one the Protestant city). The Treaty finally brought the Thirty Years War to the end[3] and established a new system of IR based on its fundamental principle – the state’s sovereignty.

The Treaty is one of the most important documents in the history of Europe with details upon returning the occupied territories, information on wrong-doing events during the war, trade regulation after the war or the manner in which the armies would be disbanded and prisoners of war set free. As a most important political consequence of the war and the Treaty was that France became a dominant state in continental Europe. The Treaty established, nevertheless, the legal foundations for the modern system of IR, that is usually named as a states-system in which the only, or at least the main, political actors are the sovereign (independent) states.

The basic conclusions of the Treaty were:

1. The Roman Catholic house of Habsburgs recognized the state’s independence of Switzerland.

2. The Protestant United Provinces became separated from the Roman Catholic Spanish Netherlands.

3. The Roman Catholic France secured its administration in Alsace and retained the bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun.

4. The Protestant Sweden got West Pomerania followed by bishoprics of Bremen and Verden.

5. The Protestant Brandenburg acquired East Pomerania and the archbishopric of Magdeburg.

6. The principle „Cuius regio eius religio“ (from the 1555 Augsburg Peace Treaty[4]) was confirmed.

7. The full and unchallenged political sovereignty of the states was recognized, what practically meant that the Roman Catholic emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from the Habsburg dynasty could not turn his empire into the exclusively Roman Catholic state.[5]


The 1648 Treaty of Westphalia established three focal principles in regard to IR:

1. A sovereignty of the states, according to the standard of Rex est imperator in regno suo, what meant that the ruler is fully autonomous within his own domain, but not a subject to the political will of anyone else. The settlement recognized the absolute power of rulers and linked the personal/dynastic power to a specific territory – a sovereign state.

2. Collective (European) Security with the fundamental task to maintain the peace among the key actors in IR. The concept is fluctuating from more practical but an unregulated and anarchical balance of power and an idea of more theoretical aim to establish a kind of regulated world government under the international law and accepted standards of acting.

3. The balance of power, that indicates the relative distribution of power between the states either into equal or unequal shares. In principle, it refers to the situation in which no one state predominates over others, what means to the policy of a power equilibrium in IR under the assumption that unbalanced power is dangerous for the regional or global security.

All three of these focal principles remained as the foundations of global politics and IR up to 1945 and became revived after the Cold War in the updated form. The treaty marked the start of the modern system of IR between the states by legitimizing the governmental authority to be both the final and only sovereign administration over the inhabitants within the geographic-political borders of their own political entity (state). Such arrangement meant both that the government became a sole arbiter in the internal state’s affairs and that the other states did not have any right to interfere into the internal affairs and policy of another state (i.e., to „cross the borders“ of the others). In essence, to be a sovereign (i.e., independent) political entity (state) meant two crucial features for the state’s administration:

1. To live according to your own legislation (to be autonomous – in Greek, auto = self and nomos = law).

2. To arrange your own internal affairs by yourself, i.e. without interference from outside, that meant, in fact, to be independent of all others, what presumed to possess supreme political authority within your own territory.

These principles of sovereignty inflicted a strong blow to the Roman Catholic Church in Vatican and its head (pope), as it meant that the European monarchs were able to decide in full independence all matters of their own domestic (home) affairs, like the official state’s religion (Cuius regio, eius religio), free from any outside intrusion.[6] The 1648 Peace Treaty of Westphalia brought a new political order in Europe fundamentally based on the state’s sovereignty and independence of their rulers who received the rights to maintain standing armies, build defense fortifications, and collect taxes from their subjects. The principle of state’s sovereignty was later, by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, finally consolidated „by linking sovereign authority to a fixed territorial boundary“.[7]

By the introduction of the principle of sovereignty, the governments of one state stopped to support their co-religionists in conflict with the rulers of other states as the policy of non-interference into the inner affairs of other political subjects became a sacral. Therefore, the practice of extraterritorial authority of Vatican was severely weakened in the Roman Catholic states, while in the Protestant states it was totally abolished. As a consequence, the states were becoming more and more secular national-states, instead of previously theocratic. It meant, as well as, that the citizens with both duties and rights replaced the subjects with only duties within the state’s borders. The meaning of sovereignty itself was gradually shifting from a single power by inherited ruler (dynastic sovereignty) over the state to the commonwealth, or popular power, by elected people’s representatives. The royal council (advisory institution) was replaced by the parliament (legislative institution), government (executive institution), and court (justice institution). A formal recognition of state’s sovereignty (like the establishing of diplomatic relations) applies and de facto acceptance of the moral or/and a legal validity of the acts issued by the „legitimate“ central administrative power of the recognized state.

A new Westphalian System of IR (WSIR) established the principle of Collective Security (CS) as the peace treaty of 1648 provided that in the case of the aggression by one or several states toward another one(s), all other states have to adopt a common policy of the restoration of the status quo before the aggression, i.e. before the violation of the borders of a sovereign state by another one(s). In other words, WSIR required a common action in order to secure the European or/and global security in which an agreement was reached between a group of states (in principle Great Powers – GP) to act as an unified opposition to any member state that illegally violates the peace by the act of aggression.[8]

The principle of state’s sovereignty promoted in 1648 became soon the crucial pivot for the creation of the national-states, first across Europe and later around the world. The essence of modern national-state became the Westphalian idea that political legitimacy has to come from secular legal authority rather than from divine sanction as it was a practice in the Middle Ages. This is how the way to the constitution (supreme law collection) and constitutional government was paved by the Peace Treaty of Westphalia, which also helped the monarchs to consolidate the power over the state’s territories for the sake to obtain greater manpower and financial resources needed to strengthen the armies. Therefore, a modern system of taxation and tax-collections was introduced followed by the policy of imperialism for the matter of exploitation of overseas colonies. The creation of big and powerful armies accompanied with the efficient taxation system as well as required and functioning of more stable state’s organization based on a centralized administration and its bureaucratic apparatus. Therefore, it became quite necessary to shift the activity of the state from kingship to government. In other words, the consequences of the Thirty Years War inaugurated the modern national-state by the Peace Treaty of Westphalia.


The Fundamental Elements of Sovereign Equality between the States

Basically, up today global security and IR are formally shaped, with some cosmetic modifications after 1945, according to the ideas of the Peace Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which established principles of sovereignty of each independent state and collective security that was protected and re-shaped by GP regardless to the very practical problem that both sovereignty and collective security are in fact contradictory principles. Nevertheless, the fundamental principle of collective security is that all (GP) states are encouraged to unite their policies and forces against any aggressor state that means against the state which violated the borders of another one. However, at the same time, the principle of sovereignty implies the fact that other states do not have legal right to interfere into the internal affairs of any other state, at least without direct legal permission by some authorized supranational organization (the UNO).[9]

According to international law, all sovereign states are equal, what presupposes that sovereign equality has to be the foundation upon which some supranational security organization (the League of Nations or the UNO) operates. This principle of equality of sovereignty of all states as political actors in IR is formally giving the guarantees of equal participation in global politics, and such proclaimed sovereign equality has the following principal elements:

1. All states are legally equal on the international scene and in relations to each other, regardless of their size, manpower or economic or military might.

2. Every state enjoys the same rights inherent in full sovereignty’s meaning.

3. Every state is under full obligation to respect the legal entity of another state including and territorial integrity.

4. The territorial integrity, state’s borders, and political independence of a recognized state as a sovereign political actor are inviolable unless the action is sanctioned by the supreme international security authority (the UNO or similar).

5. Every sovereign state has a full and unrestricted right to develop its own political, social, economic, and cultural systems without the interference from the outside.

6. Each state is obliged to carry out a full range of all accepted international obligations as an equal member of international community of equal sovereign states.

7. Every state has an obligation to live in peace with all other states.[10]



Notas:

[1] Steven L. Spiegel et al, World Politics in a New Era, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2004, 150.

[2] About the Thirty Years War, see [Richard Bonney, The Thirty Years’ War 1618-1648, Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2002; Peter H. Wilson, The Thirty Years War: Europe’s Tragedy, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011].

[3] The German lands needed up to next two hundred years period in order to recover themselves from the effects of the war, which was one of the bloodiest in the European history. However, the Thirty Years War brought the Middle Ages to end and significantly undermined the political power of the Vatican’s coalition: the pope, the Habsburgs and the Holy Roman Empire.

[4] This peace agreement was composed by several treaties that confirmed the independence of the states within the Holy Roman Empire, and, subsequently, allowed their monarchs to choose their own religion (the Roman Catholicism or a form of Protestantism).

[5] About the Peace Treaty of Westphalia, see [Derek Croxton, Anuscha Tischer, The Peace of Westphalia: A Historical Dictionary, Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., 2001; Derek Croxton, Westphalia: The Last Christian Peace, New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013].

[6] The principle Cuius regio, eius religio confers upon the ruler the real power to determine which religion (the Roman Catholicism or any Protestant form) is going to be practised in his domain. That was a principle which prohibited any interference in the internal affairs of other states on religious grounds. This principle is even today very important as it provides the foundations for international law [Martin Griffiths, Terry O’Callaghan, Steven C. Roach, International Relations: The Key Concepts, Second edition, London-New York, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2008, 247]. It has to be noticed that international law is the law which governs all actors in international affairs, and it is divided into private and public segments. Private international law is regulating international activities carried out by individuals and all other non-state actors on the international arena. Public international law is applied to the states as legal subjects and, therefore, is dealing with the relations between the governments [Andrew Heywood, Global Politics, London-New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, 332].

[7] Ibid.

[8] To define aggression is in the academic discipline of global politics and IR extremely contested issue mainly for the reasons that different definitions will provoke different practical political implications and consequences. There is, however, a minimal level of common consensus in this case as the aggression is commonly understood as „a premeditated attack by one actor on another, but there agreement ends“ [Richard W. Mansbach, Kirsten L. Taylor, Introduction to Global Politics, Second edition, London-New York: Routledge, 2012, 316]. Two classical examples of the aggression act, according to such understanding of the term, would be: 1. The Israeli attack on the neighboring Arab states in June 1967, and 2. The NATO’s bombing of Serbia and Montenegro in 1999 (March-June).

[9] The case of the NATO’s aggression on Serbia and Montenegro in 1999 is the best example of the flagrant violation of this principle.

[10] Martin Griffiths, Terry O’Callaghan, Steven C. Roach, International Relations: The Key Concepts, Second edition, London-New York, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2008, 299-300. However, the states lost the certain degree of sovereignty by entering the arena of IR as they have to accept common duties and obligations fixed by the international community, which are, in fact, restricting their real independence.

viernes, 5 de abril de 2019

SWIFT


Rusia y China siguen desprendiéndose de los instrumentos financieros del Imperio. Ahora le toca al "SWIFT". Acá va la nota de Red Voltaire:


Título: Los bancos chinos y rusos ya ‎no dependen del sistema occidental

Texto: China y Rusia llevaban 5 años trabajando en la creación de sistemas alternativos a la red ‎internacional de comunicaciones entre bancos y entidades financieras conocida como SWIFT ‎‎(siglas en inglés de la Sociedad para las Comunicaciones Interbancarias y Financieras Mundiales). ‎

La red SWIFT tiene su sede en Bruselas y está bajo control estadounidense. ‎

El 18 de septiembre de 2014, el Parlamento Europeo aconsejaba en su resolución «sobre la ‎situación en Ucrania y las relaciones UE-Rusia» (Ref: 014/2841(RSP)) desconectar a Rusia de la red ‎SWIFT. ‎

En respuesta, Moscú emprendió la creación del SPFS (Система передачи финансовых ‎сообщений), una red alternativa propia destinada a garantizar sus transacciones internas. Esa red entró ‎en funcionamiento en diciembre de 2017. Más de 500 bancos ya están conectados a ella y ‎algunos bancos extranjeros también comienzan a integrarse. ‎

El problema de China es diferente al de Rusia. El objetivo de China no es prevenir la adopción de ‎sanciones creando un sistema independiente de transferencias bancarias sino poder realizar ‎transferencias en yuanes (la moneda china), divisa que no es plenamente convertible en los ‎mercados cambiarios. ‎

Por consiguiente, desde el 8 de octubre de 2015, después de llegar a un acuerdo con el sistema ‎SWIFT, Pekín comenzó a desarrollar un sistema para las transferencias en yuanes en el extranjero. ‎Se trata de la red CIPS (llamada inicialmente Cross-Border Inter-Bank Payments System, después ‎pasó a llamarse China International Payments System). ‎

Según el Banco Central ruso, el SPFS ruso y el CIPS chino están conectados entre sí desde la ‎semana pasada.


sábado, 30 de marzo de 2019

Gran Estrategia


En la nota que sigue, de Thierry Meyssan para Red Voltaire, se sugiere que existe una continuidad, no una ruptura, en las grandes líneas de la política exterior estadounidense para el resto del mundo. La nota corre el riesgo de la simplificación, pero igual vale la pena leerla. En la misma, la leyenda de la foto de arriba es la siguiente: "Los pensadores de la Gran Estrategia estadounidense: Donald Rumsfeld, secretario de Defensa ‎de la administración Bush Jr., y su consejero, el almirante Arthur Cebrowski; el presidente ‎Donald Trump y su secretario comercial Peter Navarro; y el secretario de Estado Mike Pompeo, ‎con su consejero Francis Fannon".



Título: La nueva Gran Estrategia de ‎Estados Unidos

Epígrafe: Muchos piensan que Estados Unidos se mueve mucho pero sin lograr gran cosa. ‎Por ejemplo, que las guerras estadounidenses en el Gran Medio Oriente han sido una ‎cadena de fracasos. Pero Thierry Meyssan estima que Estados Unidos tiene una ‎estrategia militar, comercial y diplomática coherente. En función de sus propios ‎objetivos, esa estrategia militar avanza pacientemente y registra éxitos.‎

Texto: ‎En Estados Unidos se suele creer que el país carece de una Gran Estrategia desde que se cerró la ‎guerra fría. ‎Una Gran Estrategia es una visión del mundo que se trata de imponer y que todas las ‎administraciones deben respetar. En caso de derrota en un teatro de operaciones, esa estrategia ‎sigue aplicándose en otros hasta que acabe por triunfar. Al final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, ‎Washington optó por seguir las directivas que el embajador George Keenan había trazado en su ‎célebre despacho diplomático. Se trataba de describir un supuesto expansionismo soviético para ‎justificar una política de «contención» (containment) frente a la Unión Soviética. El hecho es ‎que, después de haber perdido las guerras en Corea y Vietnam, Estados Unidos acabó ganando. ‎

No es frecuente que se logre concebir una Gran Estrategia, aunque estas han existido, como sucedió ‎en Francia, con Charles De Gaulle. ‎

A lo largo de los 18 últimos años, Washington ha logrado poco a poco fijarse nuevos objetivos y ‎nuevas tácticas para alcanzar esos objetivos. ‎



1991-2001, un periodo de desconcierto

En el momento de la desaparición de la Unión Soviética, el 25 de diciembre de 1991, ‎Estados Unidos, entonces bajo la administración de Bush padre, consideró que ya no tenía rival. ‎El presidente, victorioso por defecto, desmovilizó 1 millón de soldados e imaginó un mundo de ‎paz y prosperidad. Liberalizó las transferencias de capitales para que los capitalistas pudieran ‎enriquecerse y –como él creía– así enriquecer también a sus conciudadanos. ‎

Pero el capitalismo no es un proyecto político sino una forma de ganar dinero. Las grandes ‎empresas estadounidenses –no el Estado federal– se aliaron al Partido Comunista Chino (de ahí ‎el famoso «viaje al sur» de Deng Xiaoping). Esas grandes empresas estadounidenses ‎trasladaron a China las filiales de menor valor agregado que poseían en Occidente, y lo hicieron ‎simplemente porque los trabajadores chinos, con niveles de educación menos elevados, aceptaban ‎salarios 20 veces más bajos que en Occidente. Así se inició el largo proceso de ‎desindustrialización de Occidente. ‎

Para poder manejar con menos trabas sus negocios transnacionales, el Gran Capital trasladó sus ‎haberes a países donde encontraba menos obligaciones fiscales y descubrió así la posibilidad de ‎escapar a sus responsabilidades sociales. Esos países, cuya flexibilidad en materia de impuestos y ‎discreción son indispensables al comercio internacional, se vieron bruscamente implicados en ‎innumerables y gigantescas tramas de «optimización fiscal», una bonita formulación técnica para ‎lo que antiguamente se llamaba «defraudar el fisco», procedimiento con el cual lucraron ‎en silencio. Se abría así el reinado de la Finanza sobre la Economía. ‎



La estrategia militar

En 2001, Donald Rumsfeld, secretario de Defensa y miembro permanente del «Gobierno de ‎Continuidad» [1], creó ‎una Oficina de Transformación de la Fuerza (Office of Force Transformation) que puso en manos ‎del almirante Arthur Cebrowski, quien ya había trabajado en la informatización de las fuerzas ‎armadas y se dedicó entonces a modificar la misión de dichas fuerzas. ‎

Sin la Unión Soviética, el mundo se había hecho unipolar, o sea ya no estaba gobernado por el ‎Consejo de Seguridad sino única y exclusivamente por Estados Unidos. Para mantener ‎su predominio, Estados Unidos se planteó dividir la humanidad en dos partes. De un lado ‎estarían los Estados considerados estables (los miembros del G8 –incluyendo Rusia– y los aliados). ‎Del otro lado quedaría el resto del mundo, convertido en un simple “tanque” de recursos ‎naturales. Washington ya no consideraba el acceso a esos recursos como algo vital para ‎sí mismo, pero estimaba que los Estados estables sólo debían tener acceso a los recursos ‎a través de Estados Unidos. Para imponer esa situación era necesario destruir previamente las ‎estructuras de los Estados en los países considerados “tanques” de recursos, de manera que ‎no pudiesen oponerse a la voluntad de la primera potencia mundial, ni prescindir de esta [2].‎

Esa es la estrategia que Washington ha estado aplicando. Comenzó por el Gran Medio Oriente o ‎Medio Oriente ampliado –con las guerras en Afganistán, Irak, Líbano, Libia, Siria y Yemen. A pesar ‎de los anuncios de la secretaria de Estado de la administración Obama, Hillary Clinton, sobre el ‎‎«Giro hacia Asia» (Pivot to Asia), el desarrollo militar de China impidió aplicarla en el Extremo ‎Oriente y ahora Washington apunta a la Cuenca del Caribe, arremetiendo inicialmente contra ‎Venezuela y Nicaragua. ‎



La estrategia diplomática

En 2012, el entonces presidente Barack Obama retomó el leitmotiv del Partido Republicano y ‎convirtió en prioridad nacional la explotación de los hidrocarburos (petróleo y gas) de esquistos ‎mediante el método de fracturación hidráulica. En unos años, Estados Unidos multiplicó sus ‎inversiones en ese sector y se convirtió en el primer productor mundial de hidrocarburos echando ‎así abajo los paradigmas de las relaciones internacionales. ‎

En 2018, Mike Pompeo, ex director de Sentry International, fabricante de maquinaria para la ‎industria del petróleo, se convirtió en director de la CIA y, posteriormente, en secretario de ‎Estado. Pompeo creó un Buró de Recursos Energéticos (Bureau of Energy Resources) que puso ‎bajo la dirección de Francis Fannon. Esta estructura era el equivalente diplomático de lo que fue la ‎Oficina de Transformación de la Fuerza en el Pentágono e instauró una política enteramente ‎enfocada a tomar el control del mercado mundial de los hidrocarburos [3]. Para ello imaginó un nuevo tipo de alianzas como la llamada Región Indo-pacífica ‎Libre y Abierta (Free and Open Indo-Pacific). Ya no se trata de crear bloques militares, como los ‎QADS, sino de organizar alianzas alrededor de objetivos de crecimiento económico basados en la ‎garantía del acceso a fuentes de energía. ‎

Ese concepto encaja en la estrategia Rumsfeld/Cebrowski. Ya no se trata de apropiarse los ‎hidrocarburos del resto del mundo, hidrocarburos que Washington ya no necesita, sino de ‎determinar quién tendrá acceso a ellos para poder desarrollarse y quién no. Esto es una ruptura ‎total con la doctrina del agotamiento del petróleo que la familia Rockefeller y el Club de Roma ‎promovieron desde los años 1960, doctrina retomada después por el Grupo de Desarrollo de la ‎Política Energética Nacional (National Energy Policy Development Group) del vicepresidente ‎estadounidense Dick Cheney. Estados Unidos estima ahora que no sólo no se ha producido la ‎temida desaparición del petróleo sino que además, a pesar del drástico aumento de la demanda, ‎la humanidad cuenta con hidrocarburos suficientes para al menos un siglo. ‎

En este momento, bajo pretextos tan numerosos como variados, Pompeo acaba de bloquear el ‎acceso de Irán al mercado mundial de hidrocarburos, está haciendo lo mismo con Venezuela y, ‎para completar el cierre, Estados Unidos va a mantener tropas en el este de Siria para impedir ‎que ese país pueda explotar los yacimientos existentes en esa parte de su territorio. ‎Simultáneamente, Pompeo ejerce la mayor presión sobre la Unión Europea para que esta renuncie ‎al gasoducto ruso Nord Stream 2 y también sobre Turquía, para que renuncie al Turkish Stream.‎



La estrategia comercial

En 2017, el presidente Donald Trump trata de que regrese a Estados Unidos al menos una parte ‎de los empleos que las empresas estadounidenses habían transferido a Asia y a la Unión Europea. ‎Basándose en los consejos del economista de izquierda Peter Navarro [4], Trump puso fin a la Asociación Transpacífica y renegoció el Tratado ‎de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (TLCAN, llamado en inglés NAFTA y en francés ALENA). ‎Al mismo tiempo instauró derechos de aduana prohibitivos para la importación de automóviles ‎alemanes y la mayoría de los productos chinos y completó todo lo anterior con una reforma fiscal ‎que estimula la repatriación de los capitales estadounidenses. Esa política ya ha permitido ‎mejorar la balanza comercial y reactivar el empleo. ‎

En otras palabras, ya está montado el dispositivo completo en los sectores económico, ‎diplomático y militar, vinculados todos entre sí y cada uno con sus instrucciones precisas. ‎

La principal ventaja de esta nueva Gran Estrategia es que las élites del resto del mundo siguen ‎sin haberla entendido. Washington todavía tiene a su favor el factor sorpresa, acentuado ‎además por el sistema de relaciones públicas deliberadamente caótico de Donald Trump. Pero ‎si observamos los hechos –en vez de dejarnos distraer por los tweets presidenciales–, podemos ‎comprobar que Estados Unidos ha logrado avances después del periodo incierto de los ‎presidentes Clinton y Obama. ‎



Notas:

[1] El «Gobierno de Continuidad» es una instancia estadounidense creada por ‎el presidente Eisenhower en tiempos de la guerra fría pero que aún sigue funcionando. ‎Su misión es garantizar la continuidad del Estado estadounidense en caso de ausencia o ‎desaparición del ejecutivo –como la muerte del presidente, del vicepresidente y de los presidentes ‎de las dos cámaras del Congreso durante un conflicto nuclear. Aunque la composición exacta del ‎Gobierno de Continuidad es secreta, esa instancia dispone de medios muy importantes.

[2] Esa ‎estrategia fue dada a conocer por el asistente de Cebrowski, Thomas Barnett, en su libro ‎‎The Pentagon’s New Map, publicado por Putnam Publishing Group en 2004.

[3] “Mike Pompeo Address ‎at CERAWeek”, por Mike Pompeo, Voltaire Network, 12 de marzo ‎de 2019.

[4] Ver Death by China, ‎Peter Navarro, Pearson, 2011 y Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World, ‎Prometheus Books, 2015.

martes, 19 de marzo de 2019

La desestabilización de la semana. Esta vez, Argelia


Un millón de personas en las calles de Argelia el 1º de marzo. Primavera árabe, pueblo harto, líder viejo (en la foto de arriba, el presidente argelino, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 82 pirulines y peinado a la cachetada), élites divididas, "militantes" islámicos listos para entrar en acción, etc. En fin, lo de siempre. Leemos en el sitio web Oriental Review:


Título: The Destabilisation Of Algeria: The Influx Of New Refugees To Europe And A Threat To Its Energy Security

Texto: The president of Algeria, 82-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power for almost 20 years, has declared that he will not be running for what would have been his fifth term. The announcement was made against the backdrop of widespread protests that have been rocking the country for days. Thus, the latest revolution in the Arab world has succeeded. The question is, what will come next?

Despite being laid to rest countless times, the Arab Spring has continued where it was least expected. Algeria has the same explosive cocktail as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria, of course: a young, rapidly growing urban population deprived of jobs and opportunities; corruption and poverty amid opulent wealth and luxury; uneasy relationships between ethnic groups (in Algeria’s case, between the Arabs and the Kabyle people, a Berber ethnic group); Islamist activity; and, finally, an unchanging authoritarian leader who rules with the same unchanging palette of ideas as every other dictatorship – “Who else if not me?”, “It will be worse without me”, “You don’t change horses in midstream” and so on. But judging by how calmly the country endured the turbulent events in nearby Tunisia and Libya, with only localised pockets of unrest, many experts were under the impression that the elderly Bouteflika would simply be able to retire by handing the presidency to whomever he wants – namely Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, who has the unspoken title of “successor”. Something has gone wrong, however.

It is unclear why, on 10 February, Bouteflika announced that he would be taking part in the presidential election scheduled for April. It is even unclear how much say he had in this decision. In 2013, Bouteflika suffered a stroke. A year later he was re-elected amid myriad accusations of election fraud and stopped appearing in public. Until last Sunday, that is, when Bouteflika delivered an address to the nation in which he announced he had changed his mind and no longer wanted to run for re-election. “There won’t be a fifth mandate and it was never on the table as far as I am concerned,” he said. “Given my state of health and age, my last duty towards the Algerian people was always contributing to the foundation of a new Republic.”

On Monday, the government, including Ahmed Ouyahia, resigned. A “cabinet of technocrats” is being put together in its place headed by the now former interior minister, Noureddine Bedoui, and the streets of the country’s capital are filled with cheering crowds.

The biggest potential powder keg for the situation in Algeria, of course, is the fact that the presidential election has been postponed indefinitely. Exactly when it will take place will become clear after the national conference tasked with drafting a new constitution. The presidential election and the voting on it has to take place at the same time.

So, for the time being there is political uncertainty: a president who has either resigned or hasn’t; an emerging government; and a people inspired by what seems to be a victory. There is also the bulldog fight going on behind the scenes at the highest levels of government about which little is known, but which has been hampered by the presence of the country’s unquestioned leader, Bouteflika.

It should be remembered, however, that, no matter what you think of him, the current Algerian leader did actually bring stability to the country. It was during his presidency that the so-called “Black Decade” – a civil war instigated by Islamists in 1991 – came to an end. After winning the 1999 presidential election, Bouteflika secured an amnesty for the militants and the wave of terror gradually subsided. At the beginning of his time in office, he pursued a fairly flexible policy, didn’t persecute his opponents as long as they didn’t resort to violent methods, and tried to make it so that rising energy prices had a positive impact on the well-being of the people and not just the ruling elite. The system began to stiffen in 2008, however, when a law was passed allowing the president to be re-elected an infinite number of times. This process has now gone so far that opponents of the regime are only going to be happy with serious, rather than cosmetic, changes, and this kind of attitude always spells danger for the future of a country.

If the situation in Algeria comes to bloodshed, then it is unlikely that other countries will stay on the sidelines. Europe will be forced to intervene, if only to prevent a new wave of refugees from Arab countries.

Meanwhile, the situation in Algeria remains tense. The president’s announcement that he will not run for a fifth term has not quelled the protests. The unrest of the people is now directed against the introduction of a transition period and the creation of a new government that they believe will contain all the same people who are running the country now. The protesters are demanding a regime change, although they are not formulating their position very well. What’s more, following Bouteflika’s decision not to run for re-election on 18 April, no one is ready – there are no other candidates, no one has carried out an election campaign and it would be virtually impossible to do so in the time remaining. It therefore seems that the different sides will now have to talk to each other.

A possible split in the Algerian elite could be dangerous. In fact, that’s why Bouteflika was put forward for president – he united them. The balance among the parties close to power is extremely fragile, but the feelings of unrest and discontent are strong. A number of organisations are taking part in the street protests, including various parties and NGOs, and the longer the protests continue, the more various forces will try to take advantage of them.

Algeria’s political parties and movements have been divided in their assessment of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decisions. The National Liberation Front has supported the head of state, who “heeded the calls of the Algerian people”. In a statement, the ruling party said: “It allows politicians and members of civil society to take part in the construction of a new Algeria.” Abdelamajid Munasyra, the deputy leader of the moderate Islamist party Movement for the Society of Peace, said that Bouteflika “withdrew his candidacy from the presidential election but remained in power, which violates the constitution”. The Algerian newspaper Elkhabar quotes the politician as saying: “The political opposition is waiting for the response of the people, whether these decisions will be accepted by the people. But if these steps are not taken, which is likely, then we will stand with the people.” In a video statement, the head of the Union for Reform and Progress, Zubaidah Assul, called the president’s actions “a political manoeuvre and an attempt to avoid meeting the demands of the demonstrators”. The Algerian politician continued: “From what we have heard, it appears that the president has extended his term in office, and he has not given any indication of how long the transition period will last.” She also noted that the posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister have been filled by representatives of the “old regime”. At the same time, Assul believes that the people will quietly continue trying to oust “the entire regime from power”.

The dissatisfaction of Algerians is being spurred on by the unfavourable social and economic situation in the country. The protesters are demanding pro-Western reforms and they’re demanding changes in the country. According to unofficial sources, more than one million people took part in the protests in Algeria on 1 March.

The lack of a viable successor and the inability of the current elite to solve the economic crisis are contributing to the uncertainty of Algeria’s political future, something that the current regime’s main opponents – the Islamists – will inevitably try to take advantage of. The weakening of the vertical power structure and the continuing protests are creating a breeding ground for the resurrection of Islamist organisations. In particular, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb recently published a talk entitled “Algeria…Getting Out From The Dark Tunnel”, which states that the organisation is ready to take advantage of the unrest when the time is right.

Algerian Arab SpringThe destabilisation of Algeria will undoubtedly cause problems for Europe. Besides the inevitable influx of new refugees, Europe could also face a threat to its energy security, given that Algeria provides a third of the gas consumed in Europe and as much as half of the gas consumed in Spain. At the same time, the weakness of the current government during a possible civil conflict will be exacerbated by the situation in the bordering countries of Libya and Mali. ISIS jihadists have strong positions in both countries, while the lengthy and poorly controlled border with Mali and Libya risks the spread of Islamic fundamentalism into the vast territories of north and north-west Africa.

The US will also not fail to take advantage of the complex situation in Algeria. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, Washington will easily be able to implement plans to penetrate and consolidate its positions in the Sahel-Sahara Region. A large-scale military presence will also allow the US to secure its interests in reorienting Algeria’s energy policy towards the development of shale gas and implementing its strategic objective of organising the supply of this raw material to Europe.

Whatever happens, Algeria is facing several serious challenges at once and its ability to respond is being severely hampered by a lack of any notable potential leaders either within government or within the ranks of the opposition.

lunes, 11 de marzo de 2019

Los números de China


Un reciente artículo llama la atención sobre el significado económico de China; es breve y asombroso. La nota que sigue es de Chris Kanthan para el sitio web  Sott.net. En este sitio web se ofrecen links para cada uno de los items mencionados.


Título: China's Global Leadership List

Texto: ChinaThe vast majority of Americans have absolutely no idea how advanced China has become. Perusing social media comments by Americans, it's clear that too many of them are burdened by misinformation and prejudice. "China is 100 years behind"... "All Chinese products are crap" ... "China can't innovate" ... "It's a communist, poor, polluted country" ... and, of course, the most popular: "China's economy is about to collapse." Furthermore, people reinforce their biases by gleefully sharing only anti-China articles. Anything remotely positive about China is attacked as "Chinese propaganda." 

This is a potent mix of ignorance, hubris and xenophobia. No wonder that Trump supporters were so confident of a trade deal in which Xi Jinping would surrender unconditionally and quickly. While it's true that China as whole has a long way to go to in terms of GDP-per-capita, many big cities in China are essentially "developed economies." And China has surpassed the US in many areas and is closing in rapidly in other areas. 

If you don't know your competitor, you're certain to lose the game. So here are some quick statistics on China's global leadership:

#1 in exports (been so since 2009 when it overtook Germany)
#1 in manufacturing value added (been so since 2010 when China took the crown from the US, which had been #1 for the previous 110 years)
#1 in foreign exchange reserves (>$3 trillion)
#1 holder of US debt (>$1 trillion)
#1 trade partner for 130 countries
#1 in PPP GDP (been so since 2014 when it surpassed the US)
#1 in contribution to global GDP growth for the past decade (25-35%, which is twice that of the US). That is, if the world GDP grows by $100, then $25-$35 comes from China.
#1 in Middle Class population (350 million in 2018; and it overtook the US in 2015)
#1 in poverty elimination (800 million lifted out of extreme poverty)
#1 retail market in the world by 2019 ($5.6 trillion)
#1 in e-commerce (42% of world market)
#1 in personal luxury goods sales (35% of global market)
#1 luxury car market (Example: 400,000 BMWs manufactured in China in 2017)
#1 in international tourism spending (In 2010, Chinese tourists spent half as much as Americans; and by 2017, China was spending twice as much as the US)
#1 in smartphones (Chinese brands have 40% of the global market)
#1 in 4G mobile network (1.2 billion users)
#1 in Internet users (830 million people), fiber-optic broadband users (320 million)
#1 in solar, wind and hydroelectric power (link)
#1 in electric cars - manufacturing and sales (link)
#1 in steel, cement, aluminum production (link, link, link)
#1 in manufacturing of conventional cars (>26 million per year)
#1 in consumer drones (70% of global market)
#1 in skyscrapers (link)
#1 in high-speed railways or bullet trains (30,000 Km or 18,000 miles)
#1 in supercomputers (227 out of the 500 supercomputers are Chinese)
#1 in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) college graduates (4x as many as the US)
#1 in scientific publications (link)
#1 in mobile payments (50x larger than the US)
#1 in 5G (China owns about 40% of 5G patents, and the world's leading 5G vendor and patent holder is none other than Huawei) 


And China is right behind the US in many areas:

#2 in nominal GDP ($13.5 trillion in 2018)
#2 in billionaires (about 400 billionaires)
#2 in millionaires (3.5 million millionaires)
#2 stock market, by market cap (overtook Japan in 2014, became #3 in 2018 and is about to be #2 again in 2019)
#2 importer ($2.1 trillion)
#2 in international patents - according to WIPO (#1 if patents filed in China are included)
#2 in R&D spending - according to US National Science Board (#1 if measured by purchasing power)
#2 in Unicorns (startup companies worth more than $1 billion. 142 in China versus 175 in US)
#2 in VC Funding ($100 billion of venture capital funding for about 2,900 startups)
#1 in Artificial Intelligence (AI) funding, startups and publications (link, link)
#2 in number of satellites in orbit/space (280 satellites as of 2018)


What should the US do? Try to "contain" China? Start World War III to maintain our global hegemony? Become depressed and paranoid? Thankfully, the answer to all those questions is "NO." There are constructive things that America can and should do to prepare for a future where it is no longer the global hegemon. I will discuss those in my next article.