Thursday Thoughts

Sanctions Represent Dark Day For Globalization
Mark Leonard of Reuters suggests the recent applications of sanctions on Russia represent a subtle signal of globalization’s end.

“Many saw global trade relations as a prelude to global government, with rising powers such as Russia and China being socialized into roles as “responsible stakeholders” in a single global system. But multilateral integration now seems to be dividing rather than uniting. Geopolitical competition gridlocks global institutions; the Ukraine crisis came about because of a clash between two incompatible projects of multilateral integration – the European-led Eastern Partnership and Russia’s Eurasian Union,” he writes.

While interdependence was supposed to net positive outcomes, he adds, it “has now become a threat as well. No one is willing to lose out on the benefits of a global economy, but all great powers are thinking about how to protect themselves from its risks, military and otherwise.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Renounces Liberal Democracy
The totalitarian temptation is alive and well in Hungary, with Viktor Orbán proudly renouncing liberal democracy in a speech over the weekend.

What Are The Odds Of A World War III?
Graham Allison offers an interesting and comprehensive analysis of a question many have asked in the last year: How likely is it that this generation shall witness another world war?

Allison takes the question on directly by noting that it is too simplistic to say 2014 is “just like” 1914 before the First World War. He recognizes that there are important similarities and important differences.

Among the similarities include powerful military establishments focused on a single enemy. In 1914, there were Germany and England, while today there is China and the US.

Another commonality is the existence of a rising nationalism which tends to exacerbate territorial disputes. In 1914, the Ottoman Empire unraveled, Serbian nationalists aspired to create a greater Serbia, and Russia and Austria-Hungary competed for influence among the Ottoman successor states in the Balkans.

In 2014, there are the rising tensions in Asia between China and Japan.

But, Allison says, there are differences between then and now too.

First and foremost, in 1914 the Great War involved nations who shared a common geography, while China and the US are worlds and oceans apart.

In 1914, there existed a military balance in Europe between Germany and England. In 2014, the US largely stands alone and even China’s military power is not quite equal because for “the foreseeable future, no rational Chinese military planner could present a war plan to defeat the U.S. military on the battlefield, even in East Asia.”

So, what does Allison conclude?

“For myself, this exercise in historical analysis leads me to conclude that the probability of war between the U.S. and China in the decade ahead is higher than I imagined before examining the analogy—but still unlikely. If statesmen in both the U.S. and China reflect on what happened a century ago, perspective and insights from this past can be applied now to make risks of war even lower,” he says.




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