Posts Tagged ‘China’

ILO had a very interesting discussion about climate change policy in chapter 2. The U.S. must consider the perception it has to the international community. Being a model for other countries and hoping that they follow suit in becoming democracies, having better human rights standards, and helping the environment are all things that we hope to influence. How is it that we can tell other countries to help the environment and to slow pollution rates if he fail to sign and ratify the single most influential agreement in that department? The Clinton administration signed the Kyoto protocol but failed to ratify it, a step in the right direction, but not quite enough to avoid hypocrisy. The Bush administration seemed to support the ratification of Kyoto and other emission reduction policies but abandoned everything when the economy was threatened by these policies. This was most definitely a step in the wrong direction but definitely fixable. Obama came into office with a goal to pass policy that reduced emissions and hoped to pass Kyoto. Appointing Steven Chu and focusing on China were two very important things that Obama did and everything looked to be in place to get ground breaking changes through. However, China refused to sign any internationally binding agreements to reduce emissions and cited Annex II as the reason why Kyoto did not apply to their country. This ruined the good vibe at Copenhagen and stalled all progress on the issue. 

Bush cited the economy as the reason for scrapping policy change and Obama won’t act without China. A deeper look at this reasoning may reveal that these are actually the same reason for the same decision. China and the U.S. are the biggest polluters and change would be very dramatic and impact-full. Obama is probably shying away from giving reasons like: I am avoiding climate change policy because the economy cannot handle it. However, blaming it on China is a legitimate excuse and also expresses the same message. Without China on board with strictly enforced emission reduction policies the Unites States would be putting its businesses at a huge competitive disadvantage with China and China would massively benefit from avoiding policy change that helps the environment. Also, without China on board, progress by the U.S. and other countries in helping the environment could be erased by China’s lack of cooperation as well as the probable increase in demand for Chinese goods once they are benefited by U.S. policy change that damages its own businesses. Can internationally binding climate change policy pass for the U.S. absent China being on board or will China always be a prerequisite for major change in this area?


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Here are some of my immediate reactions to the third and final presidential debate, which was geared to be a debate about  foreign policy.  However, as it has constantly been a strategy of the Romney campaign, linking the foreign policy to a strong domestic policy is crucial.

Equally as important is what we did not hear.  Both Obama and Romney failed to mention that the crux to the crisis in Syria has been the seriousness of Turkey’s participation.  This country is a member of NATO, and we have certainly not taken article 5 (an attack on one member, is an attack on all members) of the NATO charter as seriously as we did on 9/11.  Frankly, I believe that this just is not the reality.  The US as the pre-eminent member of NATO would not value the collective security of the alliance, so much as their own security.  This extends all the way back to Gaullism, which doubted the US commitment to an attack on Paris being the same as an attack on Washington.

Romney is far off in his blanket statement that the US role in the world just is not as strong as it used to be.  In Southeast Asia, the Obama administration has made huge strides to make the US a stronger partner, and a better alternative than China.  In the Mekong river region, US commitments to strengthening the education systems and economic aid have been well received, and pushed them closer to us than China.  Obama may have benefitted from drawing our attention to this.

Romney’s greatest strength though, was his ability to come off as the stronger candidate in terms of the economy.  Obama’s only response was a rudimentary criticism of his opponent that he shipped jobs overseas.  I thought that Romney’s stance on intellectual property and counterfeiting just could not be topped by Obama. However, this is a stance that is rather idealist, but I think it begged to be said. You can not have an economic partnership based upon rampant cheating.  To the average voter, Romney certainly came off as stronger on China than the current administration.

On the whole, as an undecided voter, I walked away from this debate not feeling strongly about either candidate.  They present similar foreign policy standpoints, one in which the drawdown in Afghanistan during 2014 will be a reality, drone warfare will be rampant, and the US will not commit to “State building” abroad, because it is a costly venture.  For all of their perceived differences, both candidates positions on Iran are quite similar, and both are going to be tough on Iran.

Who won? I would have to say if we went by the closing statements alone, I would say Romney won.  He presented himself (finally) as an alternative to the current administration.  Obama embraced too much of the status quo, of what he has already done, and did not embody the same spirit he did four years ago.  Of course, people are going to disagree with me.  That is why we call this game politics.  It will be interesting to see the polls after the closing of this debate.


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Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine (Photo credit: fyunkie)

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have been talking about jobs lately, making it especially clear that there needs to be a lot more of them. Both candidates have been advertising incredibly generalized plans about how they would provide these jobs – Mitt Romney seems to believe that the traditionally conservative plan of low and lowering taxes will provide incentives for those he calls the “job creators” to well, create jobs. President Obama has repeatedly considered a “jobs bill,” which apparently has something to do with “clean energy jobs,” and those associated with repairing our damaged infrastructure. Forgive me if I have incorrectly stated their plans, but there is a more pressing issue:

Are there bigger, systemic problems associated with the availability of work, and of the sustainability of the world economy in the long term?

An article on foreignpolicy.com this week titled, “The Third Industrial Revolution,” focuses on a book titled Rage Against the Machine, in which the follies of the so-called third industrial revolution are described. The book suggests that increases in productivity associated with the “marriage of information technology and advanced manufacturing techniques,” are having a negative effect on the creation of new jobs. Not just the United States, but also emerging economies and even China are seeing slow job growth. It seems that the GDP has continued to grow, fewer and fewer jobs are being created, and median incomes are falling while the rich get richer. Traditionally “safe” positions such as lawyers and accountants may also begin to feel the negative effects. To add to the gloom, some officials have suggested that Europe will be in recession for the next five years and that growth in the BRICS might fall 60 to 70 percent during that time.

If you’re looking for a positive ending, I cannot provide one. The authors of Rage Against the Machine seem to suggest only that we stop searching for same old answers, which involve protectionism and bringing back manufacturing. If leaders are looking for solutions, they need new brand new ideas.

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Falkland or Malvina Islands?

In chapter 3 of Breuning brings up the feud between Argentina and Britain over the Malvinas or Falkland islands depending on whom you believe the islands belong to. Breuning provides us with the insight to the perceptions the leaders in Argentina and Britain had in regards to what they expected the other would do. For example, Argentina junta decided to invade the islands on April 2 1982 and did not expect Britain to respond militarily. The Argentinean junta believed that the world leaders would support them since many saw the Malvinas as part of Argentine territory. As a result Argentina believed Britain would relinquish the islands easily. But Britain’s perceptions were different. The British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher dispatched the Royal Navy to take out the Argentineans from the Island. Thatcher used the Munich analogy from when Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain appeased Hitler, as an example of what appeasing Argentina would create. She used this historical case as her analogical reasoning to not back down against Argentina for the Falkland Islands. This same dispute seems to reflect the current dispute between China and Japan over the islands in the East China Sea. But in the contrary to the case of Argentina and Britain, the conflict between China and Japan is of a more dangerous scale at this moment since negotiations between the two have been rocky since protest have broke out in Japan for the islands to remain in their possession. The question that arises from this dispute correlates to chapter 3 of Breuning in regards to the perceptions leaders have when dealing with a problem. It would be key for this cases as well as it was in the Argentina vs. Britain dispute to find out what are the perceptions of the Chinese and Japanese leader. By understanding their perceptions we will be able to comprehend what is motivating them to continue this confrontation and not reach an agreement.

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English: Samuel P. Huntington, Chairman, Harva...

English: Samuel P. Huntington, Chairman, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, USA, pictured during the ‘When Cultures Conflict’ session at the 2004 meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the world of international politics today, there is no one power that has surpassed the United States in terms of gross domestic product and military spending.  WIth the rise of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) will the USA be able to hang on to that power into the distant future?

Samuel Huntington‘s piece, “Why Primacy Matters,” outlines that at the end of the Cold War, the US ought to take its position as the top power in the world very seriously.  But what does he mean by primacy?  He says that this is when: “a government is able to exercise more influence on the behavior of more actors with respect to more issues than any other government can” (International Security 17; Vol. 4, pp. 68).  Power then is then a function of a state’s punch weight, the scope of what issues they touch, and the domain of people influenced by the state’s actions.  Let us not forget that Huntington views power from a very realist lens.  Absolute gains in power are meaningless to him, even in the field of economics (where profits can be seen as absolute gains, and market shares as relative gains).

Samuel Huntington did make some pretty accurate predictions – economic power has become one of the most important sources of primacy.  The only problem is that we need to substitute China for Japan to make his work more contemporary.  Writing in 1993, Huntington predicted that Japan would continue to challenge the United States in the economic arena.  In 2012, we are much more worried about the specter of a Chinese economy that surpasses our own.  There are five “trouble areas” that Huntington cited as troublesome in the economic relationship between the US and Japan: Producer dominance, industry targeting, market shares, import restriction, and trade surplus.

All five of these are between China and the US today.  According to the Taipei Times, the Chinese trade surplus with the US has hit 26.7 billion dollars.  We also need to think about producer dominance and industry targeting, with China taking the lead on manufacturing.

I would like to end with another quote from Huntington:

“A world without U.S. primacy will be a world with more violence and disorder and less democracy and economic growth than a world where the United States continues to have more influence than any other country in shaping global affairs.  The sustained international primacy of the United States is central to the welfare and security of Americans and to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world” (83).

Is this statement still true in 2012? Does the United States need to have primacy in order for the world to be just?  Huntington got some things right in regards to the importance of economics, but the United States being #1 in the world does not always lead to better conditions for those countries not as well off as us.  We have engaged in preferential trading that has often brought more harm than good.  As we are presented by new challenges, we need to adapt to a world where we may not be #1 in everything we do.

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Richard A. Clarke

Richard A. Clarke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


After discussing in class how the internet has become a weapon to both posses but fear I found an article that talked about who exactly are the leading cyberpowers. According to Richard Clarke, who was the advisor to four presidents as well as a cyber expert, North Korea is actually the world’s leading cyberpower. He came to this conclusion by assessing countries based on their defensive and offensive capabilities as well as how dependent they are on the internet. He then concluded that North Korea was the leading cyberpower, not because they have the best attacking capabilities, but by combining their moderate attacking capabilities with pretty good cyber defenses, and combining that with the fact that there is not much in North Korea that relies on the Internet, Clarke concluded that North Korea was the leading cyberpower. Based on Clarke’s analysis Russia comes in second, China comes in Third, and finally the United States comes in fourth. This fourth place spot for the United States was due to the fact that the United States has poor defense capabilities as well as a high dependence on the internet. Due to these factors, the United States was unable to be called the leading cyberpower. According to the article, the United States can acquire better security by enhancing security in the public. This means that instead to mandate security for the public instead of allowing them to choose speed, variety of apps, weight, and color. As well as doing this, we need to start treating cyber security as a foreign policy issue and not just a domestic issue because as the article says “…if countries, can find a way to agree to norms that discourage cyberwar-making against civilian infrastructure…then it is just possible that the brave new virtual world will be a little less conflict prone.”

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English: Seal of the United States Department ...

English: Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cyber-security is becoming an increasingly important aspect of US national security concerns over the past several years. In particular, the Bush and Obama administrations have made addressing cyber-security concerns a priority of their national security and homeland defense policies. As technology has become more integrated in the government and in the daily lives of citizens, increasingly sensitive information is being stored online that has the potential to be incredibly damaging should it get out. The United States is a frequent target of hackers looking for sensitive information, both from the private sector and from other governments. US-based businesses, such as Google, are also frequent targets. China has been one of the biggest perpetrators of cyber-based attacks on US interests.

The Wikileaks scandal, involving military sources and individual hackers, released thousands of diplomatic cables and military files that were incredibly damaging to US interests and credibility. The release of certain documents also negatively impacted many intelligence networks and put several assets at severe risk, since the hackers did not take precautions to protect the identities of informants and their families.

In an effort to address cyber-security concerns, the Obama administration has begun to write an outline for national cyber-security standards, to be potentially implemented through an executive order. The administration is contemplating creating a sub-department in the Department of Homeland Security to address potential threats and prioritize responses. Although the implementation will most likely be voluntary in the private sector and industries where the government does not have direct control, it could potentially be a step forward in the United States’ ability to react to and address cyber-security concerns.


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