14 January 2017   Leave a comment

Ishaan Tharoor has written a very thoughtful essay for The Washington Post on the forces eroding the liberal world order.  The liberal world order, essentially erected by the US in 1945, was built upon the liberal ideology developed in Europe in the Enlightenment.  It consists of three cardinal institutions:  representative democracy, market capitalism, and human rights and constitutional law.  The commitment of liberal states seems to be weakening and non-liberal states, such as Russia or China, are filling in the vacuum.  We are not yet talking about a contest between liberal and non-liberal world orders since the non-liberal states have not yet advanced an alternative set of non-liberal institutions.  But the disintegration of the consensus surrounding the liberal world order suggests that the future will be turbulent with clear rules and norms of interaction.

The Guardian is reporting that Iran is moving large numbers of Shia Muslims into parts of Syria in which the previous populations were primarily Sunni Muslims.  The population moves are designed to help solidify Iranian influence in Syria as well as to buttress the authority of Syrian President Assad who is now considered likely to survive the civil war which was fought to oust him.  Iran has been coordinating activities to facilitate the transfer of populations through Hezbollah, a political group supported by Iran and one with significant influence in both Syria and Lebanon.  If successful, the moves will definitely strengthen Iran’s influence in the region, to the detriment of Turkey, Israel, and the US.

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Foreign Policy has a very good essay on thinking about President-elect Trump’s foreign policy.  The essay argues that Mr. Trump lacks a grand strategy and the it is rather guided by three operational tenets:

“The Trump Doctrine, as gleaned from his pre-inaugural statements about world affairs, is not a grand strategy. Rather, it is a collection of principles — some operational, some philosophical — that will likely guide U.S. foreign policy over the next four years. These principles are united by three core attributes: first, a focus on short-term tactical wins rather than longer-term foresight; second, a “zero-sum” worldview where all gains are relative and reciprocity is absent; third, a transactional view of American foreign policy that is devoid of moral or ethical considerations. We dub this emergent approach ‘tactical transactionalism.’”

I think that even this analysis concedes far too much to Mr. Trump about his foreign policy views.  But it is probably a good way to begin thinking about how things will unfold over the next few years.

 

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Posted January 14, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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