Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced today he is running for president against Donald Trump, hoping to secure the Republican nomination.
Asia had a very different political and economic landscape in the 1930s before the Second Sino-Japanese War. Due to the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, the Qing Dynasty collapsed into several weak states. This was a far cry from the unified superstate that dominates Asia today.
By Daniel Szewc | Poland
Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of the Brazilian Federation is, above all else, controversial. What is it that this man truly supports? More importantly, is it compatible with the Western vision of liberty and libertarianism?
A divisive figure, Bolsonaro managed to garner 55% of the vote by capturing two things: A stark reaction to the corrupt socialist government before him, and sympathy support from his being stabbed during a rally.
Trump of the Tropics?
Many people equate Bolsonaro to the American President, calling him “the Trump of the tropics”. At first glance, this is plausible: first and foremost, he used populist rhetoric to gain traction. Secondly, he played on the fact that he wanted to get rid of corruption, calling himself a non-corruptible person. This, of course, is just like Trump, who said that he would “Drain the swamp”.
Moreover, the political and the media mainstream gave both mainly negative attention. In the case of Bolsonaro, they often attributed him with racist views. For example, a news station edited an interview with him to make it seem like he said that his son wouldn’t marry a black woman because of his good upbringing. Bolsonaro actually said that his son wouldn’t marry a man for that reason. Of course, that also is a highly incendiary comment and this is not a defense of his often brash statements. Instead, it merely points out that the media often mischaracterizes both figures. The last similarity is the appeal to better times. In fact, this was a strong tool, for times now in Brazil are dire.
In contrast to Trump, Jair Bolsonaro’s pro-gun standpoint does not come from conservatism or legal values, but instead from libertarian ethics of freedom. Moreover, his idea to radically liberalize gun laws was his own idea, not one to please crowds. He wants to do it as a means to reduce gun violence by arming the weak. To do this, Bolsonaro would remove the Statute of Disarmament, a 2003 law that heavily limited civilian firearm use. Often seen shooting guns himself, the new president is likely to fulfill this promise.
Bolsonaro and Liberty: Mixed Signals
Before his campaign, Bolsonaro posted a video in which he claimed that democracy was a failure. Thus, his authoritarian position will make it unlikely that he cedes power to interest groups. However, Bolsonaro often spoke with sympathy towards the military dictatorship from decades ago. In fact, he only had one objection to it: they didn’t kill enough communists. A reactionary en masse, he claims that “Pinochet did what had to be done”.
Despite this, he has also said, “As long as you don’t rape, kidnap, you don’t commit armed robbery, you won’t go to jail- that’s all, damn it!” In saying so, he appears to be, in some ways, an advocate for a very small state with few laws. Famously, he has sentiments that oppose state programs that show very young children the nature of homosexuality. In a non-elegant fashion, he states that people can be gay wherever they want, as long as they do not indoctrinate the youth.
Contrary to his libertarian view on laws is his support of torture for violent criminals. Bolsonaro believes that they do not have the same rights as nonviolent individuals.
Above all, Bolsonaro believes in the right to private property. He emphasizes such heavily in many speeches, including his inaugural address. In fact, he proposes enormous tax cuts and curbing spending. The exception, in his case, is military spending. A captain parachutist, Bolsonaro has long been a supporter of a large military, which runs contrary to libertarian values. Despite this, he generally wants to end state industrial complexes and enterprises. A supporter of a relatively free market, he wants to increase private enterprise and deconstruct bureaucracy.
An Unknown Foreign Policy
When it comes to foreign relations, we only know a few vague ideas. Bolsonaro wants to end strong relations with the leftist states in the region, including Venezuela and Cuba. In exchange, he hopes to pursue strong ties with countries that can trade more with Brazil. Social media can actually give a good clue as to where Brasilia may be looking to for foreign relations. The day of the election, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, congratulated the new leader. Just one day later, Bolsonaro met with the ambassador to Israel. The president-elect, even during his campaign, said that Palestine is not a country and should not have an embassy.
Matteo Salvini, the right-wing vice prime minister of Italy, was also happy to congratulate Bolsonaro. However, it is unclear whether this was for strategic or ideological reasons. The strong rivalry of America and Israel against China and its client states is getting stronger globally. It is very possible that Brazil could play a key role in tipping the scales one way or another. This is especially true if Bolsonaro compromises the political system and commits a coup, which he has hinted at. In such a case, no internal political powers could force him to re-establish the current system. Thus, befriending the authoritarian leader could be very beneficial to smaller nations like Italy.
Brazil is most capable of effectively ousting Venezuela’s Maduro through the means of military intervention. America could, but it would severely hurt their relations with China. All of this, thus, lies at the feet of Bolsonaro. He has the potential to take the country towards or away from liberty, and only time will tell which route he prefers.
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By Daniel Szewc | Poland
One simply cannot deny the modern geopolitical warfare going on between China and the USA. On the surface, China is ahead, winning influence over land in Africa, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Of course, America, the world power of our era, cannot be earning much, since they already dominate so much of the globe. But how can the USA maintain its power?
China and the Line of Defense
Firstly, the “line of defense against China’s rise”. This is exactly what the USA used against the Soviet Union. Instead of an open conflict, they want a geopolitical version of Reagan’s military buildup. This caused the Soviets, who wanted to out-compete America, to go bankrupt and ultimately collapse.
Using this method, Trump wants to tie China’s hands and give better deals than the Asian nation. China proposed building a new silk road? Trump gave Central Europe the support for the Intermarium. China proposed being the arbitrator of Israel-Palestine talks? Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. China wants a good deal with Duterte? The Trump administration has been trying to schedule Duterte’s visit to the White House since May 2017. He even recently had the U.S. Ambassador to Manila say that America has a “strong interest” in pursuing Duterte’s visit. North Korea is China’s closest ally in East Asia? Trump manages to secure peace talks with Kim Jong Un, and pushes for reunification, just to move the Chinese sphere of influence back to its border.
Another great resource that the USA can use against China is the rise of India. Since they are so close, their spheres of strategic interest collide, especially in Asia. The division of influence between America and India would be much more useful for America than one with China. This is simply because India does not have as much of a global outreach as China does.
China is also already trying to grip on India by allying with their biggest regional rival: Pakistan. To weaken its neighbor, India would likely seek the help of the USA. They could also try to outmaneuver the Western superpower, but this would be immensely difficult and irrational, considering that the two countries have no major fight right now.
The Key Role of Russia
A great advantage that America has in the fight for control of Central Europe is its historic rivalry with Russia. This plays in stark contrast to China’s alliance with Russia in the New Silk Road initiative. For most of Europe, Russia still holds the negative stigma of Soviet imperialism. Alas, America does not even have to prove its might. It simply has to prove itself better than Russia, which is not difficult to do, in their eyes.
Ironically, America’s chance is in its established brand, whereas China may have a more uphill battle towards continued success. Will Uncle Sam fulfill his potential? Only time will tell.
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By Joshua D. Glawson | United States
From its inception in 550 B.C., the Persian Empire reigned with fervor and might. The Persians carved out their territory that would expand across major parts of Eurasia, keeping the Greeks at bay, as well as other nations in pursuit of their own place in history. Ever since the first establishment of the Persian Nation-State, they have had to fight off other nations and were influenced by them. The biggest change first occurred in 637 A.D. when Persia fell into the hands of the nomadic Arabs at the Battle of Kadisiya which is close to the Euphrates River. Once the Arabs took hold of the Persian Empire, they brought with them Islam and Arabic, which forever changed the Persian language and religion casting out most Zoroastrian practices. Zoroastrianism was not only the main Persian religion of choice, but it is often considered the first monotheistic religion of the world. After a long period of delegation, finding peace under the new regime and identity of the Persian Empire, in 1722 Afghan rebels had a degree of conflict with the Persian Empire, and they pursued the capturing of Isfahan. This seizing of a major city led the way for Russia and Turkey to also plunder their way through Persia, and by 1724 the Russians and Turks split the spoils among their militaries and elite.
By the 1800s to mid-1900s, the British and Americans had tight economic and personal relations with Persia. Although the British and Americans were both there to better petroleum and crude business in their favor, it was only the Brits that were seen as adversaries while the Americans were generally seen in favor by the Persian people. This was surely well-established when many Americans who were living in Persia in the early 1900s fought along the Persians’ and their rights in the Persian Constitutional Revolution from 1905 to 1911.
As quoted in the book, All the Shah’s Men, one person wrote, “…The American contribution to the improvement and, it was felt, the dignity of our impoverished, strife-torn country had gone far beyond their small numbers…Without attempting to force their way of life on people or convert us to their religion, they had learned Persian and started schools, hospitals, and medical dispensaries all over…” They went on to say, “The dedication of these exemplary men and women was not the only reason many Iranians admired the United States. American officials had spoken out to defend Iran’s rights. The United States sharply criticized the 1919 Anglo-Persian Agreement through which Britain acquired colonial powers in Iran.”
“That same year at Versailles, President Woodrow Wilson was the only world leader who supported Iran’s unsuccessful claim for monetary compensation from Britain and Russia for the effects of their occupation during World War I. In the mid-1920s an American envoy in Tehran was able to report that ‘Persians of all classes still have unbounded confidence in America.'” Of course, needless to say, it was also the US President, Woodrow Wilson, who would, unfortunately, lead America out of a more non-interventionist leaning foreign policy, into a hawkish mentality of a pursuit of war and control in the world from WWI to his constant concern for control over the Middle East. To this day, his policies plague American politics creating countless numbers of problems for the US and the world in an onslaught of political blowback.
In 1935, with relations with and influence from Nazi Germany, Persia’s name was changed to ‘Iran.’ This was a cognate of the word ‘Aryan,’ as the Nazis were in pursuit of the origins of the actual Aryan nation of people, and Persia’s leader, Reza Shah, wanted to establish good relations with the growing German powers. Not only was this a means of changing the direction of the Persian nation, but it was also a way of aligning with the Nazis against the British and Russians who had plundered their land for well over a century. This allegiance to Nazi Germany would prove tragic for Iran in WWII, as in 1941, the Anglo-Soviet Allies invaded and ensured the Nazis could not keep reign over the region.
With growing tensions over the following ten years from the British setting up the Anglo-Persian Oil Company also in 1935, Persians’ boiling tempers over increased economic struggles, and the ongoing introduction and implementation of Socialism, after also being struck left and right by the British, Americans, Russians, Turks, Afghans, and others, Iran voted to nationalize the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. The name was then changed to the National Iranian Oil Company. This, then, led to Mohammad Reza Shah officially signing the 1951 declaration that the State was the sole owner of the company, and put Mossadegh as Iran’s Prime Minister.
Mossadegh’s office prompted news outlets around the world to respond and criticize from various perspectives. The British press criticized Mossadegh for being like Robespierre, very Socialistic in a negative way, after Iran essentially stole the company rights. While the US, on the other hand, praised Mossadegh for being like Thomas Jefferson freeing Iran from the British as Jefferson helped to free America from the British. Although, the British interpretation of the events was probably more accurate than the Americans’, both the British and the US colluded together in 1953 to overthrow Mossadegh and return the Shah.
In 1953, the CIA and Britain’s M16 staged a coup in Iran to overthrow Mossadegh because it was clearly evident that he was attempting to allow the Soviets into Iran instead of the Western Allies. The US policy at the time, the Truman Doctrine, stated that the US would come to the aid and defense of any people threatened by Communism. Mossadegh’s introduction of disorder within Iran was eventually the downfall of the Shah and allowed Socialists and Communists to infiltrate Iran ever since.
Iran has been continuously influenced by the outside world in that it has lost most of its military capabilities coming from the 5th largest military power in the world and then losing most of it all by the early 1980s after the Iran-Iraq war. Iran now continues to seek to create nuclear weaponry in order to better negotiate their place in the world and to possibly end many of the sanctions put on them by the US. The US and Iran used to have very good relations and diplomacy prior to the end of the Shah’s reign.
Today, Iranian leaders continue to utilize Diversionary War Theory “which states that leaders who are threatened by domestic turmoil occasionally initiate an international conflict in order to shift the nation’s attention away from internal troubles.” Many of the economic difficulties are not only due to the government seizing companies especially in the oil and natural gas industries, but also the sanctions brought on by the US. So, it is not as obvious that leaders in Iran are attempting to divert the attention of the economic struggles of Iran, rather there is some justification for their anger towards the US.
Iran’s justified anger with the US was initiated by the US’ infiltration and establishment of Mohammad Reza Shah and continued acts of aggression such as severe economic and travel sanctions, and completely encircling Iran with US military bases and battleships. Furthermore, since the US has now backed out of the Iranian Nuclear Deal that was being led by the Obama administration, Trump’s administration will most likely be reimplementing these heavy economic and travel sanctions, along with several others that are surely to assist in the near total destruction of Iran.
This, of course, is not to suggest that Iran is completely innocent. Iran has innumerable cases of human rights violations and a severally corrupt government which allows paying one’s way out of crimes and completely undermining the private sector as the Iranian government has the power to seize and control privately owned companies at near whim.
Overall, Iran has been shaped, influenced, benefited, and harmed by the international community from almost the beginning. The strife caused through interventionist policies of outside nations and States has also prompted internal domestic conflicts and turmoil for Iran. These instances of influence have led to destabilization and the pessimistic future for Iran. Although Iran has done everything they believed possible to leverage their negotiations by building nuclear weapons and attempting a Nuclear Deal with the US, unfortunately it has thus far failed. Iran’s past one hundred years has already been filled with chaos and confusion, surely the next one hundred will be the same as long as countries outside of Iran continue to intervene and act in hostility towards them; and if Iran continues to violate the rights of individuals within their borders, there is no hope for Iran as a country.
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