O que é este blog?

Este blog trata basicamente de ideias, se possível inteligentes, para pessoas inteligentes. Ele também se ocupa de ideias aplicadas à política, em especial à política econômica. Ele constitui uma tentativa de manter um pensamento crítico e independente sobre livros, sobre questões culturais em geral, focando numa discussão bem informada sobre temas de relações internacionais e de política externa do Brasil. Para meus livros e ensaios ver o website: www.pralmeida.org.

Mostrando postagens com marcador Foreign Policy. Mostrar todas as postagens
Mostrando postagens com marcador Foreign Policy. Mostrar todas as postagens

quinta-feira, 26 de outubro de 2017

Is China winning the new Economic Cold War? - Foreign Policy

My introduction to below article:

In a debate held last Wednesday (October 25) in IPRI (of which I'm director) with the American specialist in China from the Elliott Center for International Affairs of the George Washington University, Professor David Shambaugh, I questioned him about WAR. Not the real war, of course, but what I call the replacement of the old, geopolitical, cold war -- between USSR and the US -- by a new, geoconomic, Economic Cold War, that I see already dominated by the new global Empire, Xi Jinping's China. For me, China has already won this new Economic Cold War. Shambaugh denied it, saying that he sees no economic cold war at all, since China "is playing by the free markets rules", that is, it does not contest the world economic, largely liberal, order. For him, there is an "ideological Cold War", led by China, towards an antiliberal, or a-liberal, political order. That was, is not my point, which I agree. China is the most powerful promoter of an authoritarian type of political regime, but nevertheless is undertaking an economic cold war, that is undermining economic dominance of old advanced economies and building a new global economy that promotes a rare combination of free markets, economic interdependence and authoritarian States and a State sponsored bourgeoisie that is not the same as the old European bourgeoisie of the Enlightnment, and thus does not defends human rights and democracy.
This article, confirms my "theory" of a new Economic Cold War, an eroding process of the dollar dominance over international transactions of the last century towards a growing dominance of the yuan, which will grow among other currencies in the IMF's SDR. As the article concludes, investments in Western eyes are planned for 30 to 40 years. In China, investments are conceived for maintining impact over 100 years or more. "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" is a complete bullshit, but the new State sponsored new economic order is real...
Paulo Roberto de Almeida
Brasília, October 26, 2017


China Is Eyeballing a Major Strategic Investment in Saudi Arabia’s Oil


Washington may have invented the petrodollar system, but Beijing is looking toward the future.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Arabia's King Salman in Beijing on March 16. (Lintao Zhang/Pool/Getty Images)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Arabia's King Salman in Beijing on March 16. (Lintao Zhang/Pool/Getty Images) 

Since the election of Donald Trump, relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States have seemingly returned to their halcyon days. Saudi officials have been energized by Trump’s desire to roll back Iranian influence and his support for Saudi economic reforms, and they are enthusiastic about the two countries’ newfound unity of purpose.
But Saudi Arabia is not just being courted by the Trump administration. Without the pomp and circumstance of the Riyadh summit, where Trump addressed representatives from across the Muslim world earlier this year, the Chinese government is taking quiet steps to bring Saudi Arabia’s hydrocarbon reserves firmly into its orbit. Through its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative and a reported offer to invest in the kingdom’s state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco, the Chinese are laying the groundwork for a profound economic shift in the Middle East and the world.
As it has grown over the last three decades, China has slowly become a much more important energy partner to Saudi Arabia and Gulf states. Its emergence as an economic powerhouse has increasingly fueled its ambition to dictate the rules of the energy market: In recent years, it has scaled down its share of energy imports from OPEC members in favor of non-OPEC countries, primarily due to its preference to purchase oil and gas in yuan or the local currency of the exporter, rather than U.S. dollars. China imports approximately one-quarter of its energy from Saudi Arabia, but Russia recently supplanted the kingdom as China’s top energy producer.
China’s fastidious control over its own currency is the first step toward upending the way oil is traded.
China’s fastidious control over its own currency is the first step toward upending the way oil is traded.
Forged by U.S. President Richard Nixon and Saudi King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in 1973, the petrodollar system has wedded the greenback to the world’s most sought-after commodity. In return for conducting energy sales exclusively in dollars, the United States agreed to sell Saudi Arabia advanced military equipment. One obvious reason China wants oil to be traded in yuan is to increase global demand for yuan-denominated assets. This would increase capital inflows and may eventually lead to the yuan being a plausible global alternative to the American dollar. Saudi Arabia is OPEC’s historic swing producer and price arbiter — if it agreed to conduct transactions in currencies other than the dollar, other OPEC producers would be forced to follow suit.
Beijing’s thinking is also influenced by geopolitical calculations. China’s return on investment in Saudi infrastructure could take decades, but Beijing would gain a valuable foothold in the Gulf and possibly persuade one of the world’s leading oil producers to upend the way oil is traded. Moreover, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, especially the United Arab Emirates, provide a valuable hub to Middle Eastern and African markets through their ports, airports, and global networks. This spring and summer, Beijing and Riyadh announced a number of deals in various sectors, including increased energy exports and a reported $20 billion shared investment fund.
The equation is much more difficult for Saudi Arabia and the other oil-producing countries in the Gulf. On one hand, Saudi Arabia’s alliance with the United States, however shaky, is the bedrock of regional security. On the other hand, growth in energy consumption will continue to be centered east of the kingdom, not west.
The Chinese have not given Saudi Arabia much time to consider its options. Chinese state-owned oil companies PetroChina and Sinopec have already expressed interest in a direct purchase of 5 percent of Saudi Aramco. This could prove to be a boon for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been eager to achieve a $2 trillion valuation of Aramco in a highly anticipated initial public offering, which is currently scheduled for 2018.
Considering the depressed state of the oil market, investors may be hesitant to meet the targets for Aramco’s valuation that the Saudi leadership has laid out. A private Chinese placement could solve this dilemma — and allow Riyadh to delay the IPO in the hopes that oil prices will improve. While this investment may not explicitly require that Saudi Arabia agree to trade in yuan, it would give China leverage toward that goal. For Mohammed bin Salman, Chinese investment in Aramco could kick-start a new economic partnership with Beijing.
For Mohammed bin Salman, Chinese investment in Aramco could kick-start a new economic partnership with Beijing.
As part of its economic reform, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan intends to raise foreign direct investment from 3.8 percent of GDP to 5.7 percent, or an additional $12 billion per year. It is a far safer bet that China would be able and willing to inject that type of money into Saudi Arabia than U.S. private equity and hedge funds. The main reason for this is the difference in Chinese and Western time horizons when considering return on investment. While Western governments and companies have historically had appetite for infrastructure projects that offer a return on investment in a maximum of 30 to 40 years, the Chinese are playing a much longer game — in some cases investing in projects that break even in more than 100 years.

terça-feira, 15 de agosto de 2017

World War I and the Triumph of Illiberal Ideology - Matthew McCaffrey (Mises)

World War I and the Triumph of Illiberal Ideology

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Mises Daily, 08/14/2017

Just over a century ago, in August 1914, the major European nations plunged their peoples into one of the most disastrous conflicts in history. The First World War claimed at least seventeen million lives, destroyed the social and economic fabric of Western Europe, and played a vital role in the expansion of state power around the world. It is therefore difficult to exaggerate its importance.
The causes of the war are too many and too complex to discuss in a short article (however, for those interested, the late Ralph Raico provides a fascinating overview here). I will discuss only one general problem that helped fuel the catastrophe: the ideological shift that occurred in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries away from the liberal philosophy of laissez-faire and laissez-passer and toward autarky, protectionism, nationalism, and imperialism. Mises, himself a veteran of the First World War, identified these latter ideologies as joint causes of numerous conflicts. Furthermore, he repeatedly warned that war is a necessary outcome of abandoning economic freedom, which is inextricably tied to the spirit of liberalism and its philosophy of peace:
Aggressive nationalism is the necessary derivative of the policies of interventionism and national planning. While laissez faire eliminates the causes of international conflict, government interference with business and socialism create conflicts for which no peaceful solution can be found. While under free trade and freedom of migration no individual is concerned about the territorial size of his country, under the protective measures of economic nationalism nearly every citizen has a substantial interest in these territorial issues. (Mises, 1998 [1949], pp. 819-820)
Economic nationalism, the necessary complement of domestic interventionism, hurts the interests of foreign peoples and thus creates international conflict. It suggests the idea of amending this unsatisfactory state of affairs by war. Why should a powerful nation tolerate the challenge of a less powerful nation? Is it not insolence on the part of small Lapputania to injure the citizens of big Ruritania by customs, migration barriers, foreign exchange control, quantitative trade restrictions, and expropriation of Ruritanian investments in Lapputania? Would it not be easy for the army of Ruritania to crush Lapputania’s contemptible forces? (Mises, 1998 [1949], p. 827)
By and large, these are the kinds of international conflicts that developed in the decades prior to 1914. As relative free trade declined and imperialism flourished, a culture of militarism swept Western Europe, triggering a race to accumulate military assets and materiel on a previously unknown scale.  By the outbreak of the conflict, every major belligerent except Britain had also adopted conscription so as to ensure an abundant supply of human as well as physical resources. Such policies could only end in disaster.
It is important, however, that even though many soldiers were compelled to fight, extraordinary numbers also volunteered for service, especially in the early days of the war. This fact is not so astonishing once we acknowledge the role of ideology. Throughout the 19th century, the nation-state had come to play an increasingly important role in forming the identities of many young European men. This development added a personal ideological dimension to warfare that was largely new, and which also created divisions along political lines among peoples who could otherwise have been at peace. It also helps explain the patriotism and nationalism that lead so many volunteers so unwittingly to the slaughter. Crucially, these sentiments were nurtured and reinforced by many important institutions of European society, especially its intellectual classes, who bear a large portion of the blame for rationalizing and glorifying war.
To take only one example, in his book A History of Warfare, John Keegan recounts a call to arms issued jointly by the rectors of the Bavarian universities on August 3rd, 1914:
Students! The muses are silent. The issue is battle, the battle forced upon us for German culture, which is threatened by the barbarians from the East, and for German values, which the enemy in the West envies us. And so the furor teutonicus bursts into flame once again. The enthusiasm of the wars of liberation flares, and the holy war begins. (quoted in Keegan, 2004 [1993], p. 358; emphasis in original)
This passage hints at the ideological climate in much of Europe after its retreat from an all-too-brief trend toward liberalism. Yet even including the melodramatic rhetoric, the ideas invoked above are indistinguishable from ones made today by both military and culture warriors. The use of religious language to frame a political conflict, the idea that war has been forced upon the blameless, and the claim that barbarians from foreign nations represent an existential threat to civilization that can only be overcome by abandoning reason and resorting to violence based on appeals to tribalism and a (different) barbarian heritage, are still familiar in an age when the European empires have been replaced by an American one. They also run strongly counter to the principles of liberalism.
Historically, the immediate result of the rectors’ appeal was the mass enlistment of German students; so many volunteered that they formed two new army corps. These men were flung almost untrained into battle against British regulars at Ypres in October, 1914, where 36,000 were massacred in only three weeks (Keegan, 2004 [1993], pp. 358-359).[1] This senseless death did not, however, serve as a rebuke to the military class, much less provide an impetus away from international and domestic conflicts; instead, it was simply mythologized and used for propaganda by the Nazis in the Second World War.
The lesson then is that the human costs of war do not in and of themselves teach anything to those who are not willing to listen. War will not cease until the ideas that support it are removed, and until they are, their costs will simply be used as justifications for further conflict. In Mises’s words, “To defeat the aggressors is not enough to make peace durable. The main thing is to discard the ideology that generates war” (Mises, 1998 [1949], p. 828).

[1] I have been unable to verify this estimate, and other sources suggest the number killed was significantly lower. In any case though, casualties were horrific.

domingo, 2 de julho de 2017

A politica externa de Obama analisada e criticada - Robert G. Kaufman

Lieber on Kaufman, 'Dangerous Doctrine: How Obama's Grand Strategy Weakened America' [review]

Robert G. Kaufman. Dangerous Doctrine: How Obama's Grand Strategy Weakened America. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2016. 304 pp. $40.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8131-6720-6.
Reviewed by Robert J. Lieber (Georgetown University)
Published on H-Diplo (July, 2017)

Donald Trump’s surprising political victory in the 2016 presidential election has caused foreign policy observers to turn with alarm, apprehension, or anticipation to the new president’s foreign policy. In doing so, they have understandably shifted their attention away from his predecessor. However, Robert G. Kaufman’s recent ambitious book does a major service in identifying and critiquing not only the foreign policy doctrine developed and pursued by President Barack Obama but also the manner in which this represented a profound break from the post-World War II mainstream of “muscular internationalism” and in the author’s judgment damaged America’s national security and endangered its allies (p. 197).  
Kaufman, in focusing on the period from the January 2009 inaugural through the 2014 midterm congressional elections, dismisses arguments that Obama’s policies reflected inexperience or absence of a real foreign policy strategy. Instead, he identifies a coherent Obama doctrine, derived from a synthesis of classical realism, neorealism, and liberal multilateralism, adding that this doctrine “appropriates the most problematic features of these paradigms without their countervailing virtues” (p. 185). The unifying theme that runs through Kaufman’s work is a critique of retrenchment in Obama’s foreign policy.[1]
In seeking to categorize Obama’s foreign policy orientation, Kaufman opts not to utilize any of the four designations that Walter Russell Mead set out a decade and a half ago in his widely cited work, Special Providence.[2] Mead’s menu of categories—Jeffersonian, Hamiltonian, Jacksonian, and Wilsonian—might seem tempting, for example, in suggesting that Obama’s policies could in some respects be considered Jeffersonian in his preference for a less interventionist foreign policy with more emphasis on domestic concerns, but Kaufman finds that Obama does not belong to any of these schools of thought. Instead, a particular virtue of Kaufman’s book is that he embeds his analysis of American foreign policy and the Obama doctrine in contemporary international relations theory (chapter 2). Here the author notes that while the Obama doctrine defies easy categorization, in effect it synthesizes elements from several foreign policy paradigms. He identifies Obama as “an unrealistic defensive realist with a strong pre-disposition to multilateralism minus the grace of liberalism” (p. 38). In practice this meant a disinclination to promote liberal democracy and a dangerous disinterest in regime type—a significant difference from Reinhold Niebuhr, whose philosophy the 43rd president claimed to embrace. As a consequence, Obama was prone to conciliate America’s adversaries without taking sufficiently into account the challenges and threats they posed.
To buttress his case for an alternative foreign policy strategy, Kaufman reaches back to draw on traditional geopolitical thinkers’ work, including Halford J. Mackinder’s 1904 essay, “The Geographical Pivot of History,”[3] which warned that any power gaining control over Eurasia, the “World Island” or “Heartland,” would possess resources enabling it to dominate the world, and Nicholas Spykman’s 1942 book, America’s Strategy in World Politics: The United States and the Balance of Power, arguing instead for the importance of the “Rimland,” the coastal territories encircling Eurasia (p. 61). In weighing their concepts, Kaufman also incorporates the ideas of Henry Kissinger to argue that “the United States has a vital and enduring interest in preventing a hostile hegemon from dominating any or all of the world’s major power centers—Europe, East Asia, the Middle East” (p. 61).
For foreign policy scholars and policy experts, the book—with its sixty-two pages of footnotes and bibliography—will be a rich source of information about policy debates. Here too, Kaufman provides valuable comparisons with the foreign policies of previous presidents. In doing so, he makes copious use of Obama’s speeches and foreign policy documents including the administration’s national security strategies. Based on this work, he identifies seven “tenets” of the Obama doctrine: 1) protection of the world from the arrogance of American power and exceptionalism; 2) preference for multilateralism as the preferred option in foreign policy, with “leading from behind” in Libya a case in point; 3) the discounting of the significance of regime type or ideology (including radical Islam); 4) the use of force only as a limited or last resort; 5) preference for soft power and diplomacy along with a relaxed view of great power threat; 6) retrenchment as a strategic necessity; and 7) the engagement or conciliation of rivals.
Kaufman makes frequent reference to how international relations scholars have understood Obama, not only in doctrinal terms but also in the assessment of specific regional and functional policies. The advantage of this approach is to provide the reader with a copious range of analyses by leading scholars and policy experts. While valuable, repeated reference to these interpretations and analyses at times slows the narrative thrust of the author’s arguments. For example, in the space of five pages on Obama’s policy toward China, Kaufman works into the text the ideas of Josef Joffe, Nicholas Eberstadt, Charles Krauthammer, Paul Krugman, George Shultz, Bryan McGrath and Seth Cropsey, Andrew Krepinevich, and James Holmes.
Kaufman’s treatment of Obama’s foreign policy is unique in several respects. One is that he unabashedly writes from a “neo-Reaganite” point of view and in doing so advocates a strategy of “moral democratic realism” (pp. 150, 4, 39), which he identifies with foreign policies pursued by Democratic and Republican presidents, especially Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush, not only during the Cold War but after it as well. Kaufman defines what he calls the “enduring principles” of moral democratic realism and argues that these must inform alternatives to the Obama doctrine (p. 191). These principles include the need for the United States to strive to remain the world’s default power; restoration of strong defense as the best means of deterrence; emphasis on regime type for discerning friends, foes, and threats; the need to think geopolitically; the importance of American exceptionalism; and a recognition that “different times call for different strategies to best preserve America’s national interest” (p. 196).
In an epilogue to the book, written well before the 2016 election, Kaufman concludes with a partisan call for “a series of Republican presidents in the hawkish internationalist tradition to restore the American power and prestige that the Obama Doctrine has so imprudently squandered” (p. 211). In his view, this restoration will be the work of decades, but in the near term, one wonders what he would make of the unfolding Trump presidency and whether it foreshadows a return to muscular internationalism or instead an idiosyncratic continuation of the Obama era.
Notes
[1]. This theme is analogous to one I set out in Retreat and Its Consequences: American Foreign Policy and the Problem of World Order (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016).
[2]. Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (New York: Routledge, 2002), xvii.
[3]. Halford J. Mackinder, “The Geographical Pivot of History,” The Geographical Journal 23, no. 4 (April 1904): 421-437, https://www.jstor.org/stable/1775498?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents. Kaufman also cites Mackinder’s Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Study in the Policies of Reconstruction (New York: Henry Holt, 1919).
Citation: Robert J. Lieber. Review of Kaufman, Robert G., Dangerous Doctrine: How Obama's Grand Strategy Weakened America. H-Diplo, H-Net Reviews. July, 2017.
URL: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=48813
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.