Tag: Foreign Relations

On Jair Bolsonaro: A Libertarian Perspective

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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Cheating Destiny: The USA Can Beat China Using Russia

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.

Indian Influence

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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Iran vs The World

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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US, Russia, and China Relations – Part 2

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

US-China Relations: China has many trading partners; the US is the largest. As of recently, Trump has proposed possible tariffs to be added to imports from China into the US, which could hurt relations between the two. However, China does hold a significant amount of US Treasury debt, in fact they hold the most for outside of the US countries. This is to say that each of these countries has a significant financial incentive to maintain good relations, yet according to the Cato Institute, there is no formal Fair Trade Agreement between the two.

A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is necessary between US and China in order to better relations and trades. This comprehensive set of rules will give confidence to business, especially in areas of intellectual property and technology transfer. China is notorious for not keeping strong regulations on Chinese companies infringing on copyrights and IP. The same FTA could be a good step forward with Russia as well, but many in the US are in fear of Russia becoming more powerful if that were to happen. Nevertheless, contrary to what some believe, free trade benefits the citizenry more than it would the governments’ political elite.

MIT stated, “In 2016 China exported $2.27T, making it the largest exporter in the world. During the last five years, the exports of China have increased at an annualized rate of 1.7%, from $2.04T in 2011 to $2.27T in 2016.” Whereas, “In 2016 China imported $1.23T, making it the 2nd largest importer in the world. During the last five years, the imports of China have decreased at an annualized rate of -2.8%, from $1.39T in 2011 to $1.23T in 2016. The most recent imports are led by Crude Petroleum which represents 8.25% of the total imports of China.” In 2016, the US imported from China around $436B in goods and exported around $122B in goods to China.

The Chinese have ramped up their militarization and continue to press forward into the South China Sea, against the wishes of the UN, the US, and other Western countries. Along with this growth of regional military presence, the US is equally showing a presence in the Sea as a means to attempt to thwart further possible aggression by the Chinese. So, economically, China and the US are tied together in a seemingly eternal marriage of trade, but when it comes to regional hegemony the two clash when it comes to determining who has legitimate authority and power.

This rising tension further perpetuates the idea that an FTA may help ease the stress between the two. Yet, China’s Communist President Xi Jinping has also pushed his Asian continental series of high-speed railways in what he has called “The One Belt, One Road, Initiative.” According to a report at Axios, this is still a part of the Chinese Navy’s military budget and growth, estimated anywhere between $4T and $8T, likened to a modern Silk Road.

Chinese-Russian Relations: China is Russia’s biggest source of import and export. As of 2016, Russia imported around $35.5B from China and exported nearly $30.3B to China. The two, although they share a border, have not had a longstanding good relationship, since the US has increased the US military presence in the Asian Pacific and along the waters of China and Russia, China and Russia have increased cooperation in military drills as a means to show comradery against the US hegemony.

Not only has US military presence irked Russia and China alike, but the US’ threats of tariffs on Chinese goods without an FTA could potentially lead to worsening relations between the US and China while strengthening those between China and Russia. Equally, the economic sanctions on Russia by the US, are probably inadvertently assisting the relations between China and Russia since China is now Russia’s biggest importer and exporter. If indeed it is verified on all levels that Russia mingled in the 2016 US Presidential elections, that could ensure severed ties between the US and Russia, providing more reason for Russia to join forces with China.

Both China and Russia have worked together in the past. Not only are they regionally close, but politically they are far more similar than the US is with either one of them. The Soviets joined China to fight against the Americans in both the Vietnam and Korean wars. The Chinese also joined the Americans to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, showing the complexity of their relations.

Concluding Statements: The timidly fluid relations among the US, China, and Russia, has been economically lucrative while concurrently the escalating militarization of each of these States has brought the world to attention over the fear of a potential World War far more catastrophic than any in the past. While China is gaining economically, some of their exploitations of trade tariffs and their expansion of military may become their Achilles heel.

As for Russia, sanctions against them only help benefit the elite, while hurting the country overall. The best bet to ensure bettered relations between the US and Russia is by setting up a secure FTA. An FTA should also be established with China in order to maintain good economic and political relations between the US and China. It would then behoove Russia and China to follow suit. The ongoing lingering force of the US military around the world will surely be one of the US’ downfalls, as it blatantly instigates and infuriates countries all over, but it absolutely frustrates both Russia and China especially within their own regions.

The sure way to peace is the age-old tale of continuing in free trade, having Justice systems that provide equality under the law and cease the prowess of global military might or dominance. Countries that normalize positive trade relations between one another will find that the economic incentive is far more valuable than the harms caused by going to war with one another.

Likened to a parable, wars between butchers and candlestick makers leave the town with tarnished knives and a lack of light; but if the butcher and candlestick maker agree to trade instead of fight, their steel is strengthened and their lights shine brightest.


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Rand Paul Betrayed Us, But He Is Not Alone

By James Sweet III | United States

Rand Paul has been described as a liberty-loving, charismatic, honest man, paving the way for small government in the United States Senate. From filibustering the Patriot Act renewal to live-tweeting his reading of the most recent omnibus spending bill, it is safe to say that many describe the senator accurately. He has caused great anger among establishment Republicans (for good reason) by disobeying their partisan politics. Sadly, he is human, and humans make mistakes. He voted in favor of a positive report for Mike Pompeo, who is now the new Secretary of State. This was a blatant betrayal of the ground he and many of his supporters stood on.

Senator Paul openly stood against the nomination of Mike Pompeo, with the former CIA Director’s statements on striking Iran being a main concern for the senator, and rightfully so. Secretary Pompeo has also stated in a CBS interview that “make no mistake about it, we are doing things today that the CIA was not doing a year ago, and there’s more risk attached to those.” Expanding the surveillance state is something that Rand Paul stands against, and he knew that Mike Pompeo was okay with expanding it. Yet, he still decided to change his mind and vote in favor of Mike Pompeo.

Why?

Senator Paul tweeted his decision to vote in favor of Pompeo.

Having received assurances from President Trump and Director Pompeo that he agrees with the President on these important issues, I have decided to support his nomination to be our next Secretary of State.

Senator Rand Paul

@RandPaul

He was assured that Mike Pompeo believed the Iraq War was a mistake. It’s great knowing that the Secretary recognizes the mistakes made in the past. However, it means nothing if he believes in striking Iran or expanding harsh tactics before diplomacy. After all, the Secretary of State is one of the leading diplomats of the nation.

Senator Paul wasn’t the only senator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that betrayed us that day. Senator Chris Coons is a Democrat, and initially followed in with his party, voting against Mike Pompeo in the committee. However, with Rand Paul voting in favor of Pompeo, and one senator absent, the vote was now 10-10. The missing senator was a Republican, but was busy at a funeral, speaking at it.

The committee could’ve waited until the senator returned, with his vote being the tiebreaker, but Senator Coons decided to not wait. He announced to the Committee he would abstain if a second vote occurred. Of course, due to this announcement, a second vote did occur. The new tally: 10 in the affirmation, 9 in the negation, 1 abstention. Because of this “bipartisan” move, the Senate gave Pompeo a positive report, enabling his senate confirmation.

Senator Rand Paul voted a war-hawk into the position of Secretary of State, and Senator Chris Coons compromised his principles and policies for a quicker and easier process for someone he disagreed with. It is disappointing to see that two Senators compromised their beliefs due to outside pressure to do so.


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