Wednesday News Update
Allies Concerned About U.S. Commitment To Leadership
Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump has pledged to demand more of U.S. allies and cast doubt on the nation’s commitment to international alliances which are already frayed after eight years of the Obama administration. The result is that many in the Middle East and across the globe are questioning America’s credibility as an ally and the post-war U.S. alliance system as a whole, argues Natan Sachs of the Brookings Institution.
“In the Middle East, many now complain that the United States has lost credibility as an ally. After 30 years of supporting Mubarak, the refrain goes, the United States abandoned him in a matter of weeks. Notwithstanding the fact that the United States gives more material support to some of its allies than it ever has, in the form of aid or arms sales (to Saudi Arabia and Israel, for example), the perception of a declining U.S. alliance is strong and pervasive,” he contends.
While some tension among friends is understandable and expected, Sachs believes alliances have a beneficial purpose in that they commit nations to acting beyond their own self-interests and place short-term objectives in the context of long-term goals.
Unfortunately, for the moment the doubts foreign allies have about U.S. commitment is not likely to ease given the current political climate.
“U.S. allies’ anxiety is accentuated when they look at the state of U.S. politics. Americans are understandably weary of their foreign commitments, and their leaders in this dysfunctional city are not doing enough to enunciate the differences between essential U.S. engagement and overreach. One presidential contender is openly disparaging the most sensible of U.S. alliances; all three remaining candidates now formally reject the agreed-upon version of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, a cornerstone of the U.S. rebalance to Asia,” laments Sachs.
Offshore Financial System Needs Reform, Not Elimination
In the aftermath of the Panama Papers scandal, which involved the disclosure of hundreds of offshore accounts that have been used to shield drug dealers, dictators, and despots, many have called for the end of the global offshore financial system. But Jonathon Clifton, the managing director of the company formation services Vistra Group, says that would be an overreaction.
“The future of the industry lies in fewer, better-regulated jurisdictions with mechanisms that balance the need for both privacy and transparency. Consolidation needs to take place not just at the jurisdictional level but also among service providers operating at the point of sale,” posits Clifton.
Fighting Islamic Terrorism With A Cold War Mentality
Many may look back on the age of the Cold War with a certain comfort and yearning, but Jim Poulis makes his case in The Federalist that today’s war against terrorism is more like the Cold War than most believe.
He argues that too often the Cold War is seen as a conflict between two global powers, rather than as a fight between different ideological movements and belief systems.
“As conventional armies and nuclear arsenals squared off against one another, seeds of the unconventional warfare that bedevils us today had already begun to sprout. Beyond the third-world proxy conflicts and arms shipments that defined the age, the Cold War saw the beginnings of state-sponsored terrorism and infiltration as we know them today,” he says.
Poulis argues that the combination of state-sponsored terror, subversion, and infiltration established during the Cold War has been reactivated. While the debate about whether the threat is existential or not, he maintains that both communism and radical Islamism pose the same threat to Western civilization.