Power in Middle East

The Middle East is a transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes
Western Asia, all of Egypt, and Turkey. Also, its importance comes from not only being
transcontinental but also having an energy source of oil. This situation results in a want to
have an active role in Middle East states which are there as well as external ones. Because of
that, there are always either conflicts or wars in that region. Many powerful states which are
the USA, Russia, China, etc get a goal that is being the leader and effective power in the
Middle East.
Iraq, which got rid of the British mandate in the 1930s, went through turbulent times in
domestic politics. In addition to riots and assassination attempts against those who happened,
social life was also not very regular. By the end of the 1970s, the Ba’ath Party and Saddam
Hussein wanted to be active in foreign policy as well as being active in domestic politics.
Accordingly, when the Iranian leader wanted to bring down Saddam by addressing the Shiites,
a war was fought with Iran in 1980-89. It is difficult to say that the winner is the result. In
addition, Kuwait was occupied in 1990 to dominate the Persian Gulf and gain oil and
leadership. With these situations, they have a say in the Middle East. However, the USA
invaded Iraq in 2003 due to both the September 11 events and the occupation of Kuwait. This
occupation lasted until 2011, and then the Arab Spring began. All of these prevented Iraq’s
internal gathering and regulation. With the emergence of the terrorist organization DAESH,
the leadership goal fell through.
We can see Egypt as the most developed state of the Middle East and the Arab world.
Between the years 1952-67, it was the most powerful country with the policies of Cemal
Abdül Nasır. He also rejected the Baghdad Pact against the Soviets in the bipolar system of
the Cold War and told the Arabs to stay away. In addition to these, he nationalized Suez in
1956 and made his country the leader of the Middle East. However, during the reign of his
successor Enver Sadat, he lost prestige in the Arab world with the peace made with Israel.
During the period of Hosni Mubarak, steps to rise to leadership were not taken, and internal
problems arose with the coup of Abdulfettah Sisi. The only advantage is that it can continue to
be the second most aid from the US.
Iran made a revolution with Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 and opposition to both the USA
and the West was initiated. Progress was made with the motto “neither East nor West only
Islam”. Its goals include establishing a Shia crescent through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. In

addition, it is aimed to be the dominant power in the Gulf region without accepting foreign
intervention. Accordingly, the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 has come
to Iran’s interest. Besides, with the 2010 Arab Spring, with the outbreak of civil war in Syria
and the internal turmoil in Egypt, Iran did not rival regional empowerment. It also increased
its influence in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. With the emphasis on nuclear studies, we can see that
Iran is now an important power in the region.
Saudi Arabia is trying to lead with the Sunnite sect. This situation puts Iranian Shiites

against each other. Consequently, proxy wars broke out in Yemen after the Arab Spring. Non-
state groups and sects clashed. It is difficult to say a clear result. Besides, the destabilization

of Iraq and the coup in Egypt gave Saudi Arabia a chance for regional leadership. In the
leadership of the region, a status quo approach was followed and a theocratic ground was
formed. In addition, the fact that the center of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which was
established in 1981, is Riyadh has given Saudi Arabia a positive effect. Also, relations with
the USA are very good.
Founded in 1948, Israel recently decided to abandon its hostility towards Arabs and become
collaborators with them. The biggest factor in this matter is the desire of countries to come
together against the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear studies and policies in general. The first
rapprochement was with Egypt and Jordan, and agreements were signed with Bahrain and the
United Arab Emirates about two weeks ago. Moreover, the USA is Israel’s biggest supporter.
In addition to all of these, Israel has a goal of becoming an effective power in the region
rather than being a regional leader. For this, both military and political steps are taken.
As a result, in the Middle East region, there are many countries which are Syria, Iraq,
Qatar, Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates,
Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya,
Sudan, Morocco; but in that writing, we examined five important countries which are Iraq,
Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel which have a goal of being the leader or effective power
in the Middle East. The relations they establish with each other and with countries outside the
region, their policies towards the region, their threat perceptions, and their relations shaped by
their allies serve to be the regional leader determined as a target by Middle Eastern countries.
Besides, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are the states that have taken the lead in the region, but
it is very difficult to emerge a “full” leader due to the USA, Russia, and China’s influence in
the region.

This article is written by Buse Bakkaloğlu

 

Visits: 106

CHANGING LANDSCAPE OF MIDDLE EAST

The newly emerged geopolitics in the Middle East could be understood via
understanding America’s foreign policy preferences in the region, not only in today’s terms
but also in the past since there is an evident controversy. According to the current President
of the United States of America Donald Trump: The U.S. has no interest in maintaining the
free flow of energy. The explanation given falsifies the 40-years long existence of America
in the region (Wecshler, 2020). Since the so-called withdrawal of the U.S. from the region is
providing a basis to understand the emerging geopolitics of the Middle East in its roughest
terms. This article aims to interpret another article titled ‘Tomorrow’ the Middle East is
Emerging Today is written by Will Wechsler on 18 September 2020. With the same order, this
article focuses on the US public views, China’s, Iran’s, Turkey’s, and finally Russia’s regional
roles.
The public though is against any incrementally continuous role of the US in the
region for sure. The “multiple presidential campaign cycles” (Wecshler, 2020) in the US
constructs a solid example for people’s views. The military reduction decision is carried by
the ‘election calendar’ rather than strategic thinking either in Iraq or Afghanistan. For
Wecshler (2020), this is the result of malfunctioning U.S. politics coupled with the ever-
the increasing number of divisions inside the country. Therefore, without Trump’s controversial
claim, the public wants the withdrawal of the U.S. and the other parties could easily read the
pools (Wechsler). In the end, despite being more powerful than others in the region, the U.S.
and As a consequence, there is an inevitable emergence of a new geopolitical order,
which was perceived as changeful even closer to become perilous. With the formation of the
new order, its verge as well as limitations are focused and emphasized. Moreover, one should
not forget that the rise and fall of several parties through the years made more adjusted for the
possibility of a more unstable future.
When it comes to the active players in the region, China, it could be right to say, has
not be an assertive one. Yet, being a prominent trading partner for several countries in the
the region is one side; forming a strong navy to secure its energy lifelines would change the
the landscape for the Middle East in the upcoming years as Wecshler (2020) argues. Iran,
Turkey, and finally Russia should be evaluated together as they have already begun to try to
fill the current power vacuum that created by the retraction of the U.S. Resulted from the
mistakes of America; Iran has been extending its influence over Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen,
Syria, and Lebanon by providing it’s with weapons against Israel and Gulf states.
Supposedly Iran also conducts secret operations among the Shite population while expanding its
fluency in international waters and borders (Wecshler, 2020). With the counter-action of
killing Soleimani, it could be thought that Iran is discouraged to make public threats against
the United States of America, whilst still carrying the will of extracting the U.S. out of the
region. For Wechsler, it is important to acknowledge that President Erdogan adopts more of
an Islamic approach as choosing ‘former Ottoman legacy’ over the Kemalist view when
shifted its axis closer to the Muslim Brotherhood at the expense of hurting its relations with
Israel. Military operations in Syria, Iraq, and Libya set an example for Turkey’s close
perspective with the Muslim Brotherhood. Besides, Turkey has an active role in the Eastern
Mediterranean considering the energy disputes with Greece. The final point could be the
relation of Turkey with the United States. It is, for Wecshler (2020), evident that the relation
between them is a formal one because of NATO, but it can be easily changed via the
purchasing of S-400 missiles from Russia. For Russia, it is easily seen that their aims are
contradicted with the U.S. Starting from their alliance with Iran in supporting the criminal
regime of Syria which later on resulted in a horrible war that made the U.S. uncomfortable. It
continues with its expanding presence in the Mediterranean intending to threaten NATO.
Wecshler (2020) argues that even though the fact that Russia is diplomatically weak they
played their hands well. Therefore, Russia’s position remains central in Syria that eventually
enhanced the dialogue with Turkey as well as Israel. For the American side, One of the
great accomplishments of United States Foreign Policy in the last quarter of the 20th century was
expelling Russia from playing a malign role in the region, but Russia got back to the game.
In the near past, non-Arab powers have to fight with the traditional leaders mainly in
Baghdad, Cairo, and Damascus. They held significant military capacity which got the
attention of infamous Arab Street and they struggled for a wider impact on the Arab world.
For the author, they could not go further than being their predecessor’s pale shadow.
To overcome the increase of power of non-Arab countries, there should be a new
regional power coalition to Wecshler (2020), but it seems that rather than coalition the
closeness of Israel and the Gulf States should be defined on shared-interests. Although most
of the states would prefer to make bilateral agreements for their safety they can also sign
secret agreements with Russia which they do not trust or China which they do not know
Although the U.S. made efforts to form multiple administration. For Wecshler (2020), the Gulf-Israel coalition; has finally emerged. It is right to think that formation is beneficial for
the U.S. anyways since Iran, Turkey and Russia’s growing powers are not. It could be used on
the efforts of withdrawal more strongly, but it will worsen the situation in terms of instability.
It would be better if America would empower its existence while reinforcing its place to
newly emerged sharing of interests.

This article is written by Ayça Süngü

Visits: 494

China and the World Economy

The People’s Republic of China is a unitary sovereign state in East Asia ruled by the
Communist Party of China with a one-party regime. It is the world’s most populous country
with approximately 1,400 billion and the second-largest country in terms of land area with 9.6
million km2. When we look at the structure of the country, we see twenty-two states, five
autonomous regions, four directly governed cities, and the special administrative regions of
Hong Kong and Macau. China also claims sovereignty over Taiwan. In this article, we will
talk about China’s place in the world economy.
Up to the Deng Xiaoping term, The People’s Republic of China did not have an open
economy. Considering the year 1977, although it brought a lot of restrictions to the Chinese
people, it became the 30th largest economy, and this situation brought limited freedom and
controlled liberalism with Deng Xiaoping, who came to power in 1978. This was the first step
of openness which can be seen as a critical tool in a strategy for getting development. China
got 2 percent growth after this, and before liberalization, China got just 0.7 percent growth.
Namely, openness provided adding double growth. So, how did openness reveal that
situation? Because openness has four important positive effects: domestic monopolies’ market
power can be limited, opportunities to seek rent are reduced, technologies and organizational
methods are learned, and production scales become large. (Of course, there are disadvantages
which are living destabilizing shocks and getting economic sanctions from trading partners;
but we do not see for China these so much clearly).
With the openness strategy that has been used, there have been changes in the commercial
field. The rate of export materials increased, and the export rate became 14 percent which was
resulted in increasing the income of the export firms in China. This situation was the first
since the 1920s. Also, China got more money, began to manufacture and export to
manufactured goods, such as clothes, toys, machines. In line with all these results, China has
shown very rapid development. Looking at China’s trade with the USA in 1998, while the
USA had a trade deficit, China had a surplus. In addition to all these, China became the 4th
the country in world trade in 2009.
The worldwide financial panic experienced in 1997-1998 did not affect China much due to
its closed economy yet; However, as the measures to be taken in the transition to an open
economy were not paid attention to, some problems arose later. Foreign investors
concentrated in the south of China have also preferred Taiwan, Hong Kong (the former

British colony can be seen as a financial center), and Singapore. While the people living in the
south earned the negative effect in the factories opened as a result of the investments, the
people living in the north made a living from agriculture, which led to in-country migration
after income inequality. There have been many developments in technology and business
management as a positive effect on foreign investment.
China joined the World Trade Organization, which was established in 1995, in 2001. With
this participation, foreign investors’ access to China’s market would be easier and more
secure, and China would make it easier for foreigners to find a business environment, and
reduce customs taxes. Although these things may seem like a burden for China, they actually
contributed to China’s income at first. Because with the formation of the free market, growth
and prosperity have been realized in the economy. The only problematic situation is the
increase in the unemployment rate after the privatization reforms were postponed. However,
these were easily overcome and China is now the second-largest economy in the world.
Today, China is very advanced in technological terms both in civilian and military are.
Because China provides a contribution to its engineers with opening institutes.
Consequently, when we look at the history of the state, which was named the People’s
The Republic of China in 1948, the increase in the country’s earnings with the open economy and
foreign investment can be seen quite clearly. In addition, we see with the example of Hong
Kong that there are certain criteria in the selection of the cities where investment is made.
This region, which was a financial center during the British colonization, was also chosen by
the People’s Republic of China. In addition to these, China, which joined the World Trade
Organization in 2001, has had a lot of duties (reducing customs tax, supporting foreign
investors, etc.) and as a result, it got very good results. Today, it is the second-largest
the economy in the world and is highly developed technologically.

This article is written by Buse Bakkaloğlu

Visits: 208

What Is the Goal of the USA?

The USA has a significant effect on the Middle East in a very long time. When we look at
history, we encounter the effect of the USA on the Middle East in the 1920s, after founding
oil in there. The USA took part in the Middle East with the companies which are related to
products of the oil. However, the most active attitudes of the USA was seen after the Second
World War years. Especially, after establishing Israel in 1948, although their relationship got
along slowly, the USA got a policy on the Middle East which was being a leader and
providing security and stability. In this writing, we will look at the USA’s plans on the Middle
East, relations of Israel and the USA, and agreement between Israel, Bahrain, and the United
Arab Emirates.
After the Second World War, there were two powerful states which were the USSR and the
USA. Also, the USA wanted that the USSR could not come into the Middle East area and
change any regulations there. Moreover, the USA was seen as the leader of the West bloc in
the Cold War years, and the USA had to get areas of the oil that had economic and strategic
significance. Also, from 1980 to 1988 Iraq and Iran got war, and because of the USA’s
publishing of the Carter Doctrine which defends that if any state got any intervention on the
Persian Gulf, the USA could take part in that issue, the USA helped Iraq with not only giving
weapons but also helping production of the biological weapons. However, the USA changed
that policy with following in wake of balance policy between these countries. Here, the
USA’s main aim was that not determining which state was powerful, and at the end of the
war, the USA’s want was occurred with anyone’s not gaining war. Moreover, during the Cold
War years, the USA took part in the Middle East, but it was not as much as after the 9/11
attack. After that attack, the USA developed a strategy which was called the National Security
Strategy of the USA. According to that, the most significant point of international politics is
that being more secure and better. Also, to apply that strategy the USA invaded both
Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition to these, in today Greater Middle East project which is
related to Morocco, Mauritania, Central Asia, Mongolia, Caucasus, Turkey, the Arab world,
and Somalia’s legal, political, educational, economical, social, and security dimensions of the
“Islamic world” and claims transformation strategy aims for a long-term change in these
areas.
The USA was the first state to recognize the state of Israel which was founded in 1948.
However, it would not be correct to say that their relationship is progressing very quickly and

that they were as close as they are today. We can say that after the Iran Revolution in 1979,
the negotiations between the USA and Israel increased and the strategic relationship
developed accordingly. In addition, after the declining influence of Britain in the Middle East
after the 1960s, the changes in the Arabs, Israel’s strongness in the Arab Wars, and the USA’s
support for domestic policy interests, there has been increasing rapprochement with Israel. It
is even possible to see Israel as the most important ally outside of NATO. Today, we can say
that the common interests of the USA and Israel continue due to the threats posed by Iran’s
development.
On 15th September 2020, agreements were signed between Israel and the United Arab
Emirates, and Israel and Bahrain. The USA had an effect on that attempt of these countries,
the USA provided that living in that process faster and in a month. According to that
agreement, these countries will appoint an envoy to each other, and they will try to make
partnerships in economic, social, and political areas. Also, the conflict and problems between
Israel and Arabs can be got rid of with that kind of agreement. On the other hand, the visual
reason for that agreement’s signing is the threat of Iran. In today, there are three blocks which
are Turkey and Qatar; Iran, Syria, Hezballah in Lebanon, Houthis in Yemen, and several
militants in Iraq; Israel, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. From these blocs,
we examine second and third ones. From the second bloc, Iran is the reason for the worries in
both in the USA and in the third bloc because of having nuclear threat. Therefore, the USA
made a meeting in Warsaw in February 2019 with Israel and UAE. Then, September 2020
Israel, Bahrain, and UAE came together and signed agreements about partnership. When we
come to why the USA took part in these, we can answer that with the instability of the region,
preventing regional imbalances of powers and smoothing tradition of the Gulf can be made by
the partnership of the USA with the local ones, this is also good for the USA’s own interests
which we were mentioned before.
To conclude, the USA has an effect on the Middle East since the 1920s, and the
significance of the Middle East to the USA never decrease, on the other hand, after the 9/11
terrorist attack it increased. Moreover, Israel was founded in 1948 and the first recognition
was provided by the USA. In the beginning, their relationship has made the process not fast,
but then with the threat of Iran increased, they became very close. Also, the USA tried to
provide not only good relations to Israel with neighborhoods but also own interests which
were related to instability of the region, preventing regional imbalances of powers and
smoothing tradition of the Gulf.

This article is written by Buse Bakkaloğlu

Visits: 138

The Ottoman sultan who changed America

Today, coffee has become an indispensable beverage that most people consume every
day. Due to the fast pace of life and the increase in working hours, most people have made a
habit of coffee to keep their body vigorous. In this way, many coffee chains were opened,
such as Starbucks and spread all over the world. Since many American-based coffee chains
spread around the world, it may not be known where the basis of coffee comes from.
History professor Alan Mikhail explained the relationship between America, spread of
Protestantism and the Ottoman Empire, also he explained that the origin story of coffee which
have an important place in our lives, actually spread to the world thanks to the Ottoman
Empire.
Nowadays, the Ottoman Empire does not draw attention from the eyes of Europeans
and Americans historically, it is not known that the Ottoman state was a powerful and a great
state that influenced the history of many countries. Stating that this is wrong, Mikhail states
that even the discovery of America depended on the Ottoman state's domination of trade
routes at that time.
The most important period that increased the influence of the Ottoman Empire among
many countries is the period of Selim III. The reason for this is that Selim proved his
sovereignty by defeating the Mamluk Empire and expanded Ottoman territory. With the
important victories of Selim, the Ottoman Empire also had trade networks and large ports.
Because of the empire strengthening both economically and as a land, Islam got ahead of
Christianity in this period and spread rapidly.
The empowerment of the Ottomans was not the only reason for the weakening of
Christianity. The corruption of Christians in themselves and the use of rulers ‘religion’ as a
means of deceiving people drew the public reaction and the Protestant movement started
under the leadership of Marthin Luther. The Protestant movement spread to the world as
Catholics could not stop the spread of Islam and started to collapse. In other words, an
important reason for the spread of Protestantism was the rise of the Ottomans and Islam.
If we talk about the relationship between the coffee we mentioned at the beginning and
the Ottoman Empire, we can say that the Ottomans discovered coffee from Yemen and found
its use. Until the 18th century, coffee was an important economic resource for the Ottoman

Empire. In other words, the origin of coffee, which is consumed in large amounts all over the
world today, is based on the Ottoman Empire.
Selim's effect on America was realized as the Ottoman rule expanded from the
Atlantic to North America. Taking over Cairo and Jerusalem, the Ottoman Empire prevented
Europe's trade relations with China and India. In this way, the Ottoman Empire became a
leader both in terms of economically and territory.
As a result, the Ottoman Empire was an important power with high dominance in the
world until the First World War. Therefore, it is possible to see the Ottoman influence in the
history of many countries, although it is not noticeable today. Also we can say that most of
these effects occurred as a result of the successes of the Selim III.

This article is written by Esma Kaya.

Visits: 99

LIFTING EMBARGO ON THE SOUTHERN CYPRUS BY THE USA

Cyprus has a significant part in history at any time for many countries, such as Greece,
Ottoman, England. When we look at the beginning of the 1900s, we see the increase of the
England effect in there after the Ottoman’s power decrease. Also, in the 1930s, Enosis came
to the fore and it was used to mean the “attachment of the island of Cyprus, which was under
the administration of the United Kingdom, to Greece”. With this Greece began to be more
active in Cyprus, and this was not good for neither Turkey nor the United Kingdom. In these
years the war was lived. In the 1950s, the choice of having two governments and two
nationalities with a border on the island was accepted, but also the negotiation plans were
talked. However, this did not continue in a long way. Moreover, the right of the Turkish
minority was crushed, and in 1974 Turkey organized an operation on Cyprus. This was not
seen as the right behavior by other countries. Moreover, after Turkey intervened in Cyprus in
1974, the USA put an embargo on Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and
that situation had continued until Jimmy Carter lifted it in 1977. Then, in 1987 the USA put
an embargo on all of Cyprus in order to a peaceful environment in Cyprus, and good relations
between Greeks and Turkish minorities.
According to today’s news, the USA lift embargo from “only” Southern Cyprus on the 1st
of September 2020. Moreover, that decision will come into force on the 1st of October. What
did change during this time? Why the USA chose just the Southern part when Greece and
Turkey have problems in the Eastern Mediterranean in these days. From the 1990s, the USA
and Southern Cyprus does not have strict relations, and the USA just contributes negotiations
of the Northern and Southern parts of Cyprus. However, after Greece’s voices on the rights of
the Mediterranean Sea increases at the end of June 2020, the USA got the meetings with not
only Greece but also Southern Cyprus. Moreover, the United States Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo said that “the relations of the USA with Southern Cyprus will improve”.s Namely,
the problem in Eastern Mediterranean resulted in occurring good relations between the USA
and Southern Cyprus.
The lifting of the embargo resulted in opposition to the USA and Turkey after fifty-six
years. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey said it was to ignore equality and balance
between the two peoples on the island. In other words, this decision will adversely affect
efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue. Also, these days when efforts are being made to reduce
tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, the USA’s signing of such a decision that poisons the

peace and stability environment in the region, this situation can not be seen as compatible
with the spirit of alliance. This led to a break down of the relation with the USA, and Turkey,
as a guarantor country, so that the appropriate legal and historical responsibility to guarantee
the security of the Turkish Cypriot people will take the necessary steps it will take
determination. Also, Northern Cyprus defends that lifting the embargo will not contribute to
peace, but the conflict of the Greek side. On the other hand, Southern Cyprus’s President
Nicos Anastasiades got pleasure about lifting the embargo and getting improvement relations
with the USA. Also, US officials told the Greek press that lifting the embargo is independent
of the agenda in the Eastern Mediterranean. Furthermore, it was emphasized that lifting the
embargo will only apply to non-lethal weapons, and this attempt will continue “just” a year.
However, either just being a year or related to non-lethal weapons this will affect the balance
of power of the Southern and Northern Cyprus.
To sum up, in a manner of today’s Cyprus issue has continued between Greece and Turkey
since the 1930s. In addition, the USA put an embargo firstly Turkey in 1974, Cyprus Peace
Operation, then the USA gave up the embargo on Turkey in 1977. Moreover, in 1987
embargo on not only Northern but also Southern was put by the USA. Also, up to 1st
September 2020, this situation was continued. On that date, the USA repealed the embargo
“just” on Southern Cyprus, although there is a critical situation in the Eastern Mediterranean
between Turkey and Greece today. Because of that Turkey got much more worries about the
balance of power and on the Northern Cyprus citizens. On the other hand, Southern Cyprus
have pleasure, and according to the Mike Pompeo lifting embargo is not related to the Eastern
Mediterranean issue, and this will not affect Northern and Southern Cyprus negotiation about
the unification decision for a bi-zonal bi-communal federation.

 

This article is written by Buse Bakkaloğlu

Visits: 390

Russia and the Conflict Between China and the United States

For Russia, the question now is not how it will deal with China in the future, but how threatening Beijing’s confrontation with the United States is for its survival right now. If Russia assesses its neighbour’s confrontation with the United States as a systemic one, the task of breaking this Western adversary looks paramount for the survival of the country and its political system, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Timofei Bordachev. So paramount, that it will be necessary to think about how to arrange relations with China, should it theoretically win a new Cold War. This is to say little of the short-term consequences of such a choice. They are generally of little importance for the development of Russia.

The rivalry of great powers is a common phenomenon in international politics, which has determined its development over several millennia, as war is the main way to resolve interstate conflicts. It can be caused by the revolutionary behaviour of one of the most powerful states, or simply by the objective growth of its power, which causes fear among others. In this sense, the growth of China’s opportunities in the international arena provokes fear in, for example, Russia or Europe, no less than the indignation and desire to stop this growth on the part of the United States. In Thucydides’ formula, “the growth of the power of one increases the fear of the other” the names of specific states are not at all important — the rule is the same for everyone.

When we witness an American offensive against China, we must be aware that it is based on the same emotions that every member of the international community can feel. The difference is that for the United States, the strengthening of China poses a threat to the American way of life and its role in world politics since World War II. For Russia, Europe or India, the rise of China only provokes a natural desire to hedge against the consequences of uncertainty in the foreign policy of states. In modern conditions, a nation has two options: building up its own power capabilities, and/or including relations with China in a complex balance of power.

The growing confrontation between China and the United States is gradually pushing out all other issues from the international agenda, directly or indirectly subordinating them. It is not surprising, in this regard, that other states throughout the world are increasingly thinking about their role in the context of this conflict, and Russia cannot be an exception. So far, most of the US declarations and practical activity in this conflict look like manifestations of internal American confusion, or, at best, an active search for sources of strength to combat Chinese pressure. Even amid conditions where the United States itself has come very close to the brink of an internal civil conflict, most observers are still confident that the US will somehow succeed in defeating China in a new Cold War.

The colossal opportunity that the United States has created over the past 100 years is a fantastic example of “structural strength”, to use Susan Strange’s definition. These opportunities cover not only the military or economic fields, but also the information, ideological, cultural and many other areas. An important source of them is the current political system in the United States. It not only provides the administration with a flow of fresh blood, in which many other states are limited, but also promotes the aggressiveness which is, in principle, inherent in democratic states. China, in turn, has not yet shown a similar willingness to fight; a significant part of its elite is closely integrated with the West and its positions are still strong.

However, even the combination of these factors is not enough to argue decisively, albeit on a purely hypothetical level, that there is no possibility the People’s Republic will survive. And, moreover, to “win” in this confrontation, it will only need only the support of another great power. The question seems to be quite reasonable: how much should such a power be wary of partnership, in order to be successful in achieving its main goals, in the long term? For Russia, this question is no longer purely theoretical. From the moment the tensions between China and the United States became irreversible, the pressure on Russia from both has been considered, among other things, in the context of attempts to secure Russian support in the longer term. 45 years ago, the fact that China sided with the United States in the Cold War became one of the most important external factors in the defeat of the USSR. A partnership with China would alter the dynamic along Russia’s longest border; Moscow would not need to be so concerned about its security.

For more than 10 years, Russia has been actively developing cooperation with other Asian countries. They may be more restrained if Moscow becomes more active on the side of China. The partnership with Japan, for example, is hindered by the question of the Kuril Islands, whose affiliation to Russia is now indirectly enshrined in the Constitution. In the case of South Korea or the ASEAN countries, common wishes over the past 10 years have not led to serious joint projects or investments in the Far East. Assessing the scale of Japanese or Korean investments in Russia, it is difficult to say that even greater restraint on the part of these partners is possible. So, in the case of other Asian countries, Russia is still looking at castles in the sky. Despite all the calls and ideal conditions for doing business, 80 percent of total investments in the Far East are of domestic Russian origin, and of the remaining 20 percent, China accounts for half.

Therefore, in the discussion about Russia’s position in the Sino-American conflict, fears related to the reaction of other countries to deepening cooperation between Moscow and Beijing may not come to the fore. Much more important are the strategic goals of Russia itself and how much China can help achieve them. Let us make a caveat that, in the framework of this analysis, we take Russia’s ability to ensure its own freedom of foreign policy by force as an axiom. Because, if this is not the case, then there is not much to talk about.

In the 1970s, it was so important for the United States to defeat the USSR that it created a significant part of the Chinese economic miracle itself. The author of American policy at the time was Henry Kissinger, one of the best-known realists in international relations. This gives reason to believe that the alliance with Beijing against Moscow was not then viewed in the United States as a guarantee against the fact that in the future they would have to deal with China itself. However, the success in the Cold War was worth creating the “monster” of the Chinese economy, integrated into the liberal economic order, where the norms and customs were determined by the United States. There were those in America who believed that as a result of the policy of reform and openness, China would become part of the liberal order led by the United States. But, as the most serious experts can confirm, such hopes have never been dominant.

Therefore, for Russia the question now is not how it will deal with China sometime in the future, but how threatening its confrontation with the United States is now? If Russia assesses Beijing’s conflict with the United States as a systemic one, the task of breaking this Western adversary looks paramount for the survival of the country and its political system. So paramount, that it will be necessary to think about how to arrange relations with China, should it theoretically win a new Cold War. This is to say little of the short-term consequences of such a choice. They are generally of little importance for the development of Russia.

It is important that Beijing is not the leader of any sufficiently powerful group of states and it is unlikely to become such even if it achieves convincing success in its relations with Washington. For this, China does not have the main thing it would need — a socio-economic model and development ideology that could claim universality. For the United States, the use of globalisation in order to satisfy its selfish interests became possible precisely because it initially represented a revolutionary ideology and was ready to see it “dissolved” in the world around it. China continues to maintain a conservative idea of sovereignty, which is based on its own national interests.

Even if relations between the United States and its allies are not very good now, with the most important of them — the Europeans — America is united by a political structure and basic foreign policy interests. China cannot yet boast of such allies “in blood and spirit” and there is no reason to believe that they will appear. But more importantly, since China is not part or the leader of a bloc, it will not act on the basis of collective interest. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has constantly encountered this interest in the West and had many opportunities to make sure that this interest is able to completely subjugate the individual mind and morals of individual members of the community. In this respect, China is clearly preferable to Europe as a partner, because the European countries will always place their collective interest above the need to think about Russia.

The question of how far support for China should go in these difficult times is not idle or momentary. The answer to it can determine whether its independence in international politics will be determined by its own forces, or will increasingly depend on external factors and the balance of power, taking into account the many opinions — Europe, the United States, or various Asian countries. Strengthening China and weakening the United States as much as possible will leave much more room for Russia’s security to depend only on itself.

This article is taken from valdaiclub.com

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Avoiding a new Cold War between the US and China

By Jeffrey A. Bader

With the November presidential election looming, many China watchers are focused on what the outcome could mean for relations between Washington and Beijing. That question is no doubt a crucial one. At the same time, many trends in that all-important relationship are of course longer-term than one presidential administration. What are the long-term prospects for U.S.-China relations at this stage?

The differences between the United States and China on political, economic, ideological, technological, and security issues are real. They can and must be managed through dialogue, but we can’t pretend that we simply have a communications problem. Both sides know better. The basic framework for the relationship going forward is likely to be strategic competition, with cooperation in discrete areas, hopefully covering many subjects. There could instead be strategic rivalry, which would be more adversarial and require cool heads to manage disputes. Or the relationship could degenerate into a cold war, which would be in the interest of neither the United States nor China.

A U.S.-China cold war would not be like the U.S.-Soviet one, which was largely military and ideological. A cold war would begin with radical decoupling and disengagement, which regrettably we are already seeing. It would descend and expand from there. It would fracture the international community on issues on which there should otherwise be widespread cooperation. It would build walls between economies, scientists, scholars, and ordinary people. It would likely foment ethnic stereotyping, discrimination, and hatred. It would prevent two great civilizations from benefiting from each other’s strengths and contributions. It would exacerbate an arms race that would crowd out domestic priorities. Above all, it would increase the risk of military conflict, even if neither side desires it.

How do we avoid such an outcome? There are fundamental questions the U.S. and China will need to answer.

For the United States: Is it willing to accept a peer competitor, particularly one with a different political system and ideology? In principle, the answer should be yes, but there is an action/reaction mechanism in U.S. politics. An administration that fully accepts China as a peer inevitably will have to endure and beat back harsh attacks from a nationalist opposition. So it will require long-term steadiness, not a one-off decision. The United States can sustain such a view if China accommodates to the traditional stabilizing role of the United States in East Asia rather than seeking to undermine it.
For China: Can it comfortably integrate and assimilate into a rules-based international order created and historically dominated by the United States, and characterized by certain norms, such as on trade, protection of intellectual property rights, privacy, digital freedoms, rule of law, due process, transparency, law of the sea, and human rights? (I would add that it is essential that the U.S. failure to show traditional respect for the rules-based international system over the last several years must be corrected, as well.)

Can China adjust to these norms, or will it simply demand that its national system be respected? Can China find ways to ensure that its activities in international affairs are consistent with these norms, or at least do not undercut them, while maintaining its own political, economic, and social system?

A lesson of the past few years is that, in a globalized world, it is difficult for the international system to function well if there is a large gap in attitudes and practices among major countries regarding these norms.

China made the fundamental decision 40 years ago to join the international system, from which it has derived great benefits and to which it has made important contributions. But the world’s accommodation of China’s unorthodox practices when it was a relatively minor player is a different matter entirely. Today, China has become a dominant actor. China, along with the United States, is now an elephant in the canoe. The elephants have to be careful, or they can swamp the canoe and everyone in it.

For understandable historical reasons, China is especially fierce in safeguarding its sovereignty and asserting the sovereignty of nations and non-interference as the foundational principles of international norms. No more than the United States can China be expected to renounce that position. But China will need to do more than invoke its sovereignty under Westphalian principles if it is to be a leader in the international system and enjoy its full benefits. The country has not yet completed the journey it began in 1978 toward full integration into the international rules-based system. For example, it needs to accept the full obligations of developed countries in the World Trade Organization, open its internet and level the information technology sector playing field for foreign participation on a reciprocal basis, and provide complete transparency to the World Health Organization and international health experts.

It will need to lead by example. It will be hard for China to make such changes. The United States can provide an example, and serve its own interests, by showing that it intends to adhere to the rules-based system that it played the key role in creating.

This article is taken from www.brookings.edu

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Israel and the UAE Just Made Peace. Is It About Iran—Or Turkey?

Turkey, Qatar, and U.S. domestic politics loom just as large as the Islamic Republic in the Middle Eastern powers’ decision to normalize relations.

by Matthew Petti

 

Israel will establish diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates and hold off on the U.S.-backed plan to annex part of the Palestinian territories, all three countries announced Thursday.
The UAE and Israel have long cooperated on countering Iranian influence, but the latest move portends more cooperation on other issues, including the growing Turkish-Qatari alliance. And it comes as U.S. President Donald Trump comes looking for a diplomatic breakthrough ahead of November’s elections.

“This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region,” the United States, Israel, and the UAE claimed in a joint statement.

The two sides will be establishing a “Strategic Agenda for the Middle East” alongside the United States, according to the statement.

The only other Arab countries to have formal relations with Israel are Egypt and Jordan. The UAE is the first Persian Gulf nation to normalize its relations with Israel.

“Formalizing what has been an informal relationship is a wise move by both parties,” said International Institute for Strategic Studies fellow and former U.S. diplomat Mark Fitzpatrick. “It wins them plaudits from across the political spectrum in the U.S. and strengthens their de facto partnership vis-a-vis Iran.”

The threat of Iran has long loomed large in the UAE-Israeli relationship. Both sides opposed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, and both sides are currently pushing for the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on the Islamic Republic.

But the move also came just a week after Iranian and UAE foreign ministers held a rare public meeting, signaling that UAE-Iranian relations are beginning to warm.

“Why is this happening now? It has nothing to do with Iran,” said Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute. “The word that would sum it up best is Turkey.”
Turkey, Israel, Qatar, and the UAE were once all part of the same pro-U.S. bloc in the Middle East.

Their relations soured during the Arab Spring, when Turkey and Qatar backed uprisings by populist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, while the UAE supported established regimes.

“Why the UAE and not any other Gulf country?” Ibish said. “Israel and the UAE share the same threat perception in a unique way. They agree on Iran, but then they agree on Turkey, and the Muslim Brotherhood, and Qatar.”

The UAE-Israeli deal comes as Turkey ramps up its regional efforts along several different fronts.

In recent months, Turkish forces have launched massive offensives against Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq, intervened against the UAE-backed strongman Khalifa Haftar in Libya, backed Azerbaijan in its post-Soviet territorial dispute with Armenia, and confronted the Greek Navy in disputed waters.

Just this week, Israeli officials formally declared their support for Greece in the eastern Mediterranean dispute.

Israel, however, is not totally aligned against Qatar’s regional activities. Qatar helps finance the unrecognized Palestinian statelet in Gaza in exchange for keeping the Israeli-Gazan border quiet.

Israel’s state broadcaster reported on Wednesday that Israeli officials were asking Qatar to renew its payments to Gaza’s ruling party, Hamas, as militants began to launch explosive balloons across the border.

“Everybody needs somebody to do it,” said Ibish. “If the Hamas regime in Gaza collapsed with nothing to replace it, that’s worse for everyone.”

He said even close UAE allies like Egypt worry that groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda could fill the power vacuum.
The Israeli-UAE deal now opens space for the UAE to appear as a champion of Palestinian rights, as it has apparently suspended Israel’s plans to annex parts of the disputed West Bank.

“The UAE can boast of being the only Arab state to successfully limit Israeli expansion, even though Israel didn’t want to annex the West Bank anyway,” Fitzpatrick claimed.
Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan would have allowed Israel to annex its settlements in the Palestinian territories. Palestinian leaders denounced the plan as a sham and neighboring Jordan warned that annexation would undermine the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty.

Israel pressed ahead, claiming that it would begin annexing territory by July 1.

But the Israeli government was bogged down by the coronavirus pandemic and the possibility of the fourth round of elections in less than two years, and July 1 passed with no announcements.

The U.S.-Israeli-UAE joint statement credits UAE diplomacy for stopping annexation.

“As a result of this diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President [Donald] Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over” disputed Palestinian territories “and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” according to the statement.

The statement adds that “[t]he parties will continue their efforts…to achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The statement still leaves the door open for annexation at a later date. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is “still committed” to annexing the disputed territories.

Palestinian leaders were not thrilled with the Israeli-UAE deal, and the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority referred to it as a “betrayal of Jerusalem.”

“The Palestinian Authority is very, very weak,” said Israel Policy Forum policy advisor Shira Efron. “This will probably weaken it further, because it’s a failure of its strategy.”

Normalization of relations with Arab countries had been a very strong “incentive” for Israel “to go for peace with the Palestinians,” she explained at a Wednesday video conference hosted by the Israel Policy Forum, and this leverage has now been “taken away” from the Palestinians.

The Israel Policy Forum noted in a statement attached to the event that “beginning the process of normalization with the UAE is not the same as achieving regional peace or a permanent status agreement to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

But the appearance of progress has already helped ingratiate Israel and the UAE with both parties in Washington—both Republicans looking to salvage the Trump peace plan, and Democrats uneasy with prior Israeli plans to annex Palestinian territory.

“We hope this provides a good foundation for building on the vision for peace that the President has laid out, and I wanted to just thank all the participants—the Emiratis, the Israelis, and all of the team on the United States side—that brought this to fruition,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R–Idaho) called the Israeli-UAE announcement a “historic agreement” with “the potential to dramatically improve relationships across the Middle East.”

“I look forward to greater collaboration between two key U.S. partners as we address common challenges and shared threats across the region,” he said in a statement.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D–N.Y.) had similar praise.

“This is a mutually beneficial step that will strengthen both countries,” he said in a statement. “I hope that this new breakthrough will give courage to other countries to move forward toward normalization and motivate Palestinians to give peace a chance

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How Hegemony Ends

Multiple signs point to a crisis in global order. The uncoordinated international response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting economic downturns, the resurgence of nationalist politics, and the hardening of state borders all seem to herald the emergence of a less cooperative and more fragile international system. According to many observers, these developments underscore the dangers of U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America first” policies and his retreat from global leadership.

Even before the pandemic, Trump routinely criticized the value of alliances and institutions such as NATO, supported the breakup of the European Union, withdrew from a host of international agreements and organizations, and pandered to autocrats such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He has questioned the merits of placing liberal values such as democracy and human rights at the heart of foreign policy. Trump’s clear preference for zero-sum, transactional politics further supports the notion that the United States is abandoning its commitment to promoting a liberal international order.

Some analysts believe that the United States can still turn this around, by restoring the strategies by which it, from the end of World War II to the aftermath of the Cold War, built and sustained a successful international order. If a post-Trump United States could reclaim the responsibilities of global power, then this era—including the pandemic that will define it—could stand as a temporary aberration rather than a step on the way to permanent disarray.

After all, predictions of American decline and a shift in international order are far from new—and they have been consistently wrong. In the middle of the 1980s, many analysts believed that U.S. leadership was on the way out. The Bretton Woods system had collapsed in the 1970s; the United States faced increasing competition from European and East Asian economies, notably West Germany and Japan; and the Soviet Union looked like an enduring feature of world politics. By the end of 1991, however, the Soviet Union had formally dissolved, Japan was entering its “lost decade” of economic stagnation, and the expensive task of integration consumed a reunified Germany. The United States experienced a decade of booming technological innovation and unexpectedly high economic growth. The result was what many hailed as a “unipolar moment” of American hegemony.

But this time really is different. The very forces that made U.S. hegemony so durable before are today driving its dissolution. Three developments enabled the post–Cold War U.S.-led order. First, with the defeat of communism, the United States faced no major global ideological project that could rival its own. Second, with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and its accompanying infrastructure of institutions and partnerships, weaker states lacked significant alternatives to the United States and its Western allies when it came to securing military, economic, and political support. And third, transnational activists and movements were spreading liberal values and norms that bolstered the liberal order.

Today, those same dynamics have turned against the United States: a vicious cycle that erodes U.S. power has replaced the virtuous cycles that once reinforced it. With the rise of great powers such as China and Russia, autocratic and illiberal projects rival the U.S.-led liberal international system. Developing countries—and even many developed ones—can seek alternative patrons rather than remain dependent on Western largess and support. And illiberal, often right-wing transnational networks are pressing against the norms and pieties of the liberal international order that once seemed so implacable. In short, U.S. global leadership is not simply in retreat; it is unraveling. And the decline is not cyclical but permanent.

THE VANISHING UNIPOLAR MOMENT
It may seem strange to talk of permanent decline when the United States spends more on its military than its next seven rivals combined and maintains an unparalleled network of overseas military bases. Military power played an important role in creating and maintaining U.S. preeminence in the 1990s and early years of this century; no other country could extend credible security guarantees across the entire international system. But U.S. military dominance was less a function of defense budgets—in real terms, U.S. military spending decreased during the 1990s and only ballooned after the September 11 attacks—than of several other factors: the disappearance of the Soviet Union as a competitor, the growing technological advantage enjoyed by the U.S. military, and the willingness of most of the world’s second-tier powers to rely on the United States rather than build up their own military forces. If the emergence of the United States as a unipolar power was mostly contingent on the dissolution of the Soviet Union, then the continuation of that unipolarity through the subsequent decade stemmed from the fact that Asian and European allies were content to subscribe to U.S. hegemony.

Talk of the unipolar moment obscures crucial features of world politics that formed the basis of U.S. dominance. The breakup of the Soviet Union finally closed the door on the only project of global ordering that could rival capitalism. Marxism-Leninism (and its offshoots) mostly disappeared as a source of ideological competition. Its associated transnational infrastructure—its institutions, practices, and networks, including the Warsaw Pact, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, and the Soviet Union itself—all imploded. Without Soviet support, most Moscow-affiliated countries, insurgent groups, and political movements decided it was better to either throw in the towel or get on the U.S. bandwagon. By the middle of the 1990s, there existed only one dominant framework for international norms and rules: the liberal international system of alliances and institutions anchored in Washington.

The United States and its allies—referred to in breezy shorthand as “the West”—together enjoyed a de facto patronage monopoly during the period of unipolarity. With some limited exceptions, they offered the only significant source of security, economic goods, and political support and legitimacy. Developing countries could no longer exert leverage over Washington by threatening to turn to Moscow or point to the risk of a communist takeover to shield themselves from having to make domestic reforms. The sweep of Western power and influence was so untrammeled that many policymakers came to believe in the permanent triumph of liberalism. Most governments saw no viable alternative.

During the 1990s, most governments saw no viable alternative to Western sources of support.
With no other source of support, countries were more likely to adhere to the conditions of the Western aid they received. Autocrats faced severe international criticism and heavy demands from Western-controlled international organizations. Yes, democratic powers continued to protect certain autocratic states (such as oil-rich Saudi Arabia) from such demands for strategic and economic reasons. And leading democracies, including the United States, themselves violated international norms concerning human, civil, and political rights, most dramatically in the form of torture and extraordinary renditions during the so-called war on terror. But even these hypocritical exceptions reinforced the hegemony of the liberal order, because they sparked widespread condemnation that reaffirmed liberal principles and because U.S. officials continued to voice commitment to liberal norms.

Meanwhile, an expanding number of transnational networks—often dubbed “international civil society”—propped up the emerging architecture of the post–Cold War international order. These groups and individuals served as the foot soldiers of U.S. hegemony by spreading broadly liberal norms and practices. The collapse of centrally planned economies in the postcommunist world invited waves of Western consultants and contractors to help usher in market reforms—sometimes with disastrous consequences, as in Russia and Ukraine, where Western-backed shock therapy impoverished tens of millions while creating a class of wealthy oligarchs who turned former state assets into personal empires. International financial institutions, government regulators, central bankers, and economists worked to build an elite consensus in favor of free trade and the movement of capital across borders.

Civil society groups also sought to steer postcommunist and developing countries toward Western models of liberal democracy. Teams of Western experts advised governments on the design of new constitutions, legal reforms, and multiparty systems. International observers, most of them from Western democracies, monitored elections in far-flung countries. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) advocating the expansion of human rights, gender equality, and environmental protections forged alliances with sympathetic states and media outlets. The work of transnational activists, scholarly communities, and social movements helped build an overarching liberal project of economic and political integration. Throughout the 1990s, these forces helped produce an illusion of an unassailable liberal order resting on durable U.S. global hegemony. That illusion is now in tatters.

THE GREAT-POWER COMEBACK
Today, other great powers offer rival conceptions of global order, often autocratic ones that appeal to many leaders of weaker states. The West no longer presides over a monopoly of patronage. New regional organizations and illiberal transnational networks contest U.S. influence. Long-term shifts in the global economy, particularly the rise of China, account for many of these developments. These changes have transformed the geopolitical landscape.

In April 1997, Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Russian President Boris Yeltsin pledged “to promote the multipolarization of the world and the establishment of a new international order.” For years, many Western scholars and policymakers downplayed or dismissed such challenges as wishful rhetoric. Beijing remained committed to the rules and norms of the U.S.-led order, they argued, pointing out that China continued to benefit from the current system. Even as Russia grew increasingly assertive in its condemnation of the United States in the first decade of this century and called for a more multipolar world, observers didn’t think that Moscow could muster support from any significant allies. Analysts in the West specifically doubted that Beijing and Moscow could overcome decades of mistrust and rivalry to cooperate against U.S. efforts to maintain and shape the international order.

Such skepticism made sense at the height of U.S. global hegemony in the 1990s and even remained plausible through much of the following decade. But the 1997 declaration now looks like a blueprint for how Beijing and Moscow have tried to reorder international politics in the last 20 years. China and Russia now directly contest liberal aspects of the international order from within that order’s institutions and forums; at the same time, they are building an alternative order through new institutions and venues in which they wield greater influence and can de-emphasize human rights and civil liberties.
At the United Nations, for example, the two countries routinely consult on votes and initiatives. As permanent members of the UN Security Council, they have coordinated their opposition to criticize Western interventions and calls for regime change; they have vetoed Western-sponsored proposals on Syria and efforts to impose sanctions on Venezuela and Yemen. In the UN General Assembly, between 2006 and 2018, China and Russia voted the same way 86 percent of the time, more frequently than during the 78 percent voting accord the two shared between 1991 and 2005. By contrast, since 2005, China and the United States have agreed only 21 percent of the time. Beijing and Moscow have also led UN initiatives to promote new norms, most notably in the arena of cyberspace, that privilege national sovereignty over individual rights, limit the doctrine of the responsibility to protect, and curtail the power of Western-sponsored human rights resolutions.

China and Russia have also been at the forefront of creating new international institutions and regional forums that exclude the United States and the West more broadly. Perhaps the most well known of these is the BRICS grouping, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Since 2006, the group has presented itself as a dynamic setting for the discussion of matters of international order and global leadership, including building alternatives to Western-controlled institutions in the areas of Internet governance, international payment systems, and development assistance. In 2016, the BRICS countries created the New Development Bank, which is dedicated to financing infrastructure projects in the developing world.

China and Russia have each also pushed a plethora of new regional security organizations—including the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism—and economic institutions, including the Chinese-run Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Russian-backed Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)—a security organization that promotes cooperation among security services and oversees biennial military exercises—was founded in 2001 at the initiative of both Beijing and Moscow. It added India and Pakistan as full members in 2017. The net result is the emergence of parallel structures of global governance that are dominated by authoritarian states and that compete with older, more liberal structures.

China and Russia have been at the forefront of creating new forums that exclude the United States.
Critics often dismiss the BRICS, the EAEU, and the SCO as “talk shops” in which member states do little to actually resolve problems or otherwise engage in meaningful cooperation. But most other international institutions are no different. Even when they prove unable to solve collective problems, regional organizations allow their members to affirm common values and boost the stature of the powers that convene these forums. They generate denser diplomatic ties among their members, which, in turn, make it easier for those members to build military and political coalitions. In short, these organizations constitute a critical part of the infrastructure of international order, an infrastructure that was dominated by Western democracies after the end of the Cold War. Indeed, this new array of non-Western organizations has brought transnational governance mechanisms into regions such as Central Asia, which were previously disconnected from many institutions of global governance. Since 2001, most Central Asian states have joined the SCO, the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, the EAEU, the AIIB, and the Chinese infrastructure investment project known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

China and Russia are also now pushing into areas traditionally dominated by the United States and its allies; for example, China convenes the 17+1 group with states in central and eastern Europe and the China-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Forum in Latin America. These groupings provide states in these regions with new arenas for partnership and support while also challenging the cohesion of traditional Western blocs; just days before the 16+1 group expanded to include the EU member Greece in April 2020, the European Commission moved to designate China a “systemic rival” amid concerns that BRI deals in Europe were undercutting EU regulations and standards.

Beijing and Moscow appear to be successfully managing their alliance of convenience, defying predictions that they would be unable to tolerate each other’s international projects. This has even been the case in areas in which their divergent interests could lead to significant tensions. Russia vocally supports China’s BRI, despite its inroads into Central Asia, which Moscow still considers its backyard. In fact, since 2017, the Kremlin’s rhetoric has shifted from talking about a clearly demarcated Russian “sphere of influence” in Eurasia to embracing a “Greater Eurasia” in which Chinese-led investment and integration dovetails with Russian efforts to shut out Western influence. Moscow followed a similar pattern when Beijing first proposed the formation of the AIIB in 2015. The Russian Ministry of Finance initially refused to back the bank, but the Kremlin changed course after seeing which way the wind was blowing; Russia formally joined the bank at the end of the year.

China has also proved willing to accommodate Russian concerns and sensitivities. China joined the other BRICS countries in abstaining from condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, even though doing so clearly contravened China’s long-standing opposition to separatism and violations of territorial integrity. Moreover, the Trump administration’s trade war with China has given Beijing additional incentives to support Russian efforts to develop alternatives to the Western-controlled SWIFT international payment system and dollar-denominated trade so as to undermine the global reach of U.S. sanctions regimes.

THE END OF THE PATRONAGE MONOPOLY
China and Russia are not the only states seeking to make world politics more favorable to nondemocratic regimes and less amenable to U.S. hegemony. As early as 2007, lending by “rogue donors” such as then oil-rich Venezuela raised the possibility that such no-strings-attached assistance might undermine Western aid initiatives designed to encourage governments to embrace liberal reforms.

Since then, Chinese state-affiliated lenders, such as the China Development Bank, have opened substantial lines of credit across Africa and the developing world. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, China became an important source of loans and emergency funding for countries that could not access, or were excluded from, Western financial institutions. During the financial crisis, China extended over $75 billion in loans for energy deals to countries in Latin America—Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela—and to Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan in Eurasia.

China is not the only alternative patron. After the Arab Spring, Gulf states such as Qatar lent money to Egypt, allowing Cairo to avoid turning to the International Monetary Fund during a turbulent time. But China has been by far the most ambitious country in this regard. An AidData study found that total Chinese foreign aid assistance between 2000 and 2014 reached $354 billion, nearing the U.S. total of $395 billion. China has since surpassed annual U.S. aid disbursals. Moreover, Chinese aid undermines Western efforts to spread liberal norms. Several studies suggest that although Chinese funds have fueled development in many countries, they also have stoked blatant corruption and habits of regime patronage. In countries emerging from war, such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and South Sudan, Chinese development and reconstruction aid flowed to victorious governments, insulating them from international pressure to accommodate their domestic foes and adopt more liberal models of peacemaking and reconciliation.

Chinese state-affiliated lenders have opened substantial lines of credit across the developing world.
The end of the West’s monopoly on patronage has seen the concurrent rise of fiery populist nationalists even in countries that were firmly embedded in the United States’ economic and security orbit. The likes of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte have painted themselves as guardians of domestic sovereignty against liberal subversion. They dismiss Western concerns about democratic backsliding in their countries and emphasize the growing importance of their economic and security relationships with China and Russia. In the case of the Philippines, Duterte recently terminated a two-decade-old military treaty with the United States after Washington canceled the visa of the former national chief of police, who is accused of human rights violations in the Philippines’ bloody and controversial war on drugs.

Of course, some of these specific challenges to U.S. leadership will wax and wane since they stem from shifting political circumstances and the dispositions of individual leaders. But the expansion of “exit options”—of alternative patrons, institutions, and political models—now seems a permanent feature of international politics. Governments have much more room to maneuver. Even when states do not actively switch patrons, the possibility that they could provides them with greater leverage. As a result, China and Russia have the latitude to contest U.S. hegemony and construct alternative orders.

CENTRIFUGAL FORCES
Another important shift marks a break from the post–Cold War unipolar moment. The transnational civil society networks that stitched together the liberal international order no longer enjoy the power and influence they once had. Illiberal competitors now challenge them in many areas, including gender rights, multiculturalism, and the principles of liberal democratic governance. Some of these centrifugal forces have originated in the United States and western European countries themselves. For instance, the U.S. lobbying group the National Rifle Association worked transnationally to successfully defeat a proposed antigun referendum in Brazil in 2005, where it built an alliance with domestic right-wing political movements; over a decade later, the Brazilian political firebrand Jair Bolsonaro tapped into this same network to help propel himself to the presidency. The World Congress of Families, initially founded by U.S.-based Christian organizations in 1997, is now a transnational network, supported by Eurasian oligarchs, that convenes prominent social conservatives from dozens of countries to build global opposition to LGBTQ and reproductive rights.

Autocratic regimes have found ways to limit—or even eliminate—the influence of liberal transnational advocacy networks and reform-minded NGOs. The so-called color revolutions in the post-Soviet world in the first decade of this century and the 2010–11 Arab Spring in the Middle East played a key role in this process. They alarmed authoritarian and illiberal governments, which increasingly saw the protection of human rights and the promotion of democracy as threats to their survival. In response, such regimes curtailed the influence of NGOs with foreign connections. They imposed tight restrictions on receiving foreign funds, proscribed various political activities, and labeled certain activists “foreign agents.”

Some governments now sponsor their own NGOs both to suppress liberalizing pressures at home and to contest the liberal order abroad. For example, in response to Western support of young activists during the color revolutions, the Kremlin founded the youth group Nashi to mobilize young people in support of the state. The Red Cross Society of China, China’s oldest government-organized NGO, has delivered medical supplies to European countries in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a carefully orchestrated public relations campaign. These regimes also use digital platforms and social media to disrupt antigovernment mobilization and advocacy. Russia has likewise deployed such tools abroad in its information operations and electoral meddling in democratic states.

Some of the forces driving the unraveling of the liberal order have originated in the United States itself.
Two developments helped accelerate the illiberal turn in the West: the Great Recession of 2008 and the refugee crisis in Europe in 2015. Over the last decade, illiberal networks—generally but not exclusively on the right—have challenged the establishment consensus within the West. Some groups and figures question the merits of continued membership in major institutions of the liberal order, such as the European Union and NATO. Many right-wing movements in the West receive both financial and moral support from Moscow, which backs “dark money” operations that promote narrow oligarchic interests in the United States and far-right political parties in Europe with the hope of weakening democratic governments and cultivating future allies. In Italy, the anti-immigrant party Lega is currently the most popular party despite revelations of its attempt to win illegal financial support from Moscow. In France, the National Rally, which also has a history of Russian backing, remains a powerful force in domestic politics.

These developments echo the ways in which “counter-order” movements have helped precipitate the decline of hegemonic powers in the past. Transnational networks played crucial roles in both upholding and challenging prior international orders. For example, Protestant networks helped erode Spanish power in early modern Europe, most notably by supporting the Dutch Revolt in the sixteenth century. Liberal and republican movements, especially in the context of the revolutions across Europe in 1848, played a part in undermining the Concert of Europe, which tried to manage international order on the continent in the first half of the nineteenth century. The rise of fascist and communist transnational networks helped produce the global power struggle of World War II. Counter-order movements achieved political power in countries such as Germany, Italy, and Japan, leading those nations to break from or try to assail existing structures of international order. But even less successful counter-order movements can still undermine the cohesion of hegemonic powers and their allies.

Not every illiberal or right-wing movement that opposes the U.S.-led order seeks to challenge U.S. leadership or turns to Russia as an exemplar of strong cultural conservatism. Nonetheless, such movements are helping polarize politics in advanced industrial democracies and weaken support for the order’s institutions. One of them has even captured the White House: Trumpism, which is best understood as a counter-order movement with a transnational reach that targets the alliances and partnerships central to U.S. hegemony.

CONSERVING THE U.S. SYSTEM
Great-power contestation, the end of the West’s monopoly on patronage, and the emergence of movements that oppose the liberal international system have all altered the global order over which Washington has presided since the end of the Cold War. In many respects, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be further accelerating the erosion of U.S. hegemony. China has increased its influence in the World Health Organization and other global institutions in the wake of the Trump administration’s attempts to defund and scapegoat the public health body. Beijing and Moscow are portraying themselves as providers of emergency goods and medical supplies, including to European countries such as Italy, Serbia, and Spain, and even to the United States. Illiberal governments worldwide are using the pandemic as cover for restricting media freedom and cracking down on political opposition and civil society. Although the United States still enjoys military supremacy, that dimension of U.S. dominance is especially ill suited to deal with this global crisis and its ripple effects.

Even if the core of the U.S. hegemonic system—which consists mostly of long-standing Asian and European allies and rests on norms and institutions developed during the Cold War—remains robust, and even if, as many champions of the liberal order suggest will happen, the United States and the European Union can leverage their combined economic and military might to their advantage, the fact is that Washington will have to get used to an increasingly contested and complex international order. There is no easy fix for this. No amount of military spending can reverse the processes driving the unraveling of U.S. hegemony. Even if Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, knocks out Trump in the presidential election later this year, or if the Republican Party repudiates Trumpism, the disintegration will continue.

The key questions now concern how far the unraveling will spread. Will core allies decouple from the U.S. hegemonic system? How long, and to what extent, can the United States maintain financial and monetary dominance? The most favorable outcome will require a clear repudiation of Trumpism in the United States and a commitment to rebuild liberal democratic institutions in the core. At both the domestic and the international level, such efforts will necessitate alliances among center-right, center-left, and progressive political parties and networks.

What U.S. policymakers can do is plan for the world after global hegemony. If they help preserve the core of the American system, U.S. officials can ensure that the United States leads the strongest military and economic coalition in a world of multiple centers of power, rather than finding itself on the losing side of most contests over the shape of the new international order. To this end, the United States should reinvigorate the beleaguered and understaffed State Department, rebuilding and more effectively using its diplomatic resources. Smart statecraft will allow a great power to navigate a world defined by competing interests and shifting alliances.

U.S. policymakers must plan for the world after global hegemony.
The United States lacks both the will and the resources to consistently outbid China and other emerging powers for the allegiance of governments. It will be impossible to secure the commitment of some countries to U.S. visions of international order. Many of those governments have come to view the U.S.-led order as a threat to their autonomy, if not their survival. And some governments that still welcome a U.S.-led liberal order now contend with populist and other illiberal movements that oppose it.

Even at the peak of the unipolar moment, Washington did not always get its way. Now, for the U.S. political and economic model to retain considerable appeal, the United States has to first get its own house in order. China will face its own obstacles in producing an alternative system; Beijing may irk partners and clients with its pressure tactics and its opaque and often corrupt deals. A reinvigorated U.S. foreign policy apparatus should be able to exercise significant influence on international order even in the absence of global hegemony. But to succeed, Washington must recognize that the world no longer resembles the historically anomalous period of the 1990s and the first decade of this century. The unipolar moment has passed, and it isn’t coming back.

This article taken from www.foreignaffairs.com

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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TRILATERAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US, EU AND TURKEY

By THO Contributor, Tarik Oğuzlu

The dynamics of security relationship between the European Union and Turkey have been closely informed by the dynamics of security relationship each has with the United States. The role that the United States might potentially play in the context of EU-Turkey relations is strongly informed by the nature and quality of transatlantic relations. The historical records show that whenever the transatlantic relations were in good shape, the lobbying efforts of American administrations across European capitals on behalf of Turkey’s prospective EU membership struck a sympathetic chord. No matter the current Trump administration views the liberal international order and its quintessential institutional platforms, such as the European Union and NATO, through skeptical eyes, the United States has continued to view Turkey’s eventual transformation in the image of European norms and values, let alone its full membership in the EU, in its national interests. A Turkey, that turns its face towards the European Union and adopts European practices in its internal and external politics, would not only shun assertive and aggressive policies in the name of becoming a regional hegemon but also adopt a more rational and predictable foreign policy stance. Such a Turkey would align its national interests with those of the European Union and contribute to peace and security in the larger Middle East and North Africa region. Besides, the ability of the United States to have leverage on Turkey’s policies would likely increase should the latter adopt a pro-European/western national outlook. Such a Turkey would also act as a role model for the European/western transformation of predominantly Muslim nations across the wider Middle East. This is surely in American national interests.

Supporting Turkey’s European transformation and potential EU membership is the United States’ dominant strategy, no matter Washington views Brussels and leading European capitals as partners or rivals/challengers. In case the United States views the EU as a rival and challenge, Turkey’s membership in the EU would help weaken the union from within as Turkey’s strong state identity and realpolitik security culture would put a brake on EU’s transformation into a single-voice powerful international actor. Turkey’s presence inside the Union would help the Americans play the time-tested divide-and-rule game. On the other hand, should the United States view the European Union as a strong partner, Turkey’s eventual accession to the Union would fast transform the Union into a strong international actor that could undertake more responsibility in maintaining peace and security in its neighborhood so that the Americans could channel their limited capabilities to other locations where threats to American security interests are more visible and imminent, such as the Indo-Pacific region.

Looking to this trilateral relationship from the perspective of the European Union members, one comes to a similar conclusion. Turkey’s transformation in European image, let alone its eventual accession to the Union sometime in future, seems to be EU’s dominant strategy. In case, the EU views the United States as acting against the letter and spirit of the liberal international order by transforming into a global rouge state, then strengthening of Turkey’s European credentials as well as Turkey’s coming closer to the European Union in defining its national foreign and security policy interests would likely add up to European Union’s leverage over the United States. With Turkey coming much closer to the European Union each passing day, the chances of the European Union to become a powerful international actor with a strategic mindset will certainly increase. Should the European Union see the United States as its number one ally and strategic partner, then Turkey’s European transformation will be a gift to the United States, for a strong trilateral relationship between the United States, European Union and Turkey will tremendously strengthen the resolve of the transatlantic community to deal with the Chinese challenge in the emerging post-western multipolar international order.

Even though Turkey’s European transformation and coming closer to the transatlantic community seems to be the dominant strategy of Europeans and Americans, the picture from Turkey’s perspective is a little bit more complicated than meets the eye. Conventionally speaking, developing closer relations with westerners in general and Europeans in particular and transforming into a more European polity each passing day has long been among Turkey’s key national interests. There are two important causes of this. First, located at a very critical geographical location and feeling exposed to various conventional and non-conventional security challenges to all directions, Turkey’s own ability to deal with them successfully is quite limited. Seeking western/European help against non-western/non-European threats and challenges had pushed Turkey to join NATO and seek membership in key western international organizations in the past. This logic still applies today. Second, Turkey’s western/European transformation is also a hedge against the possibility of westerners/Europeans viewing Turkey as a threat and doing everything they can to help contain the so-called Turkey challenge. Given that the Ottoman Empire came to the end at the hands of colonial European nations and that the Republic of Turkey gained its independence during the wars waged against European states, the founding fathers of the new Republic thought that unless Turkey’s western/European identity were recognized as such by westerners/Europeans themselves, the latter might easily view the former as a potential threat to its security and well-being. That said, the Europeanization/westernization process has been seen from the very beginning first and foremost as a security strategy. A more western/European Turkey would not only be able to deal with non-western/European challenges more successfully but also feel itself more secure and comfortable in its relations with westerners/Europeans.

The risk for Turkey arises from the fact that whereas Americans and Europeans do generally view Turkey from an instrumental and technical perspective, a tool to be utilized in meeting core security interests in and around Turkey, Turkey’s approach towards the West//Europe is predominantly psychological. Status-seeking efforts do still manifest themselves in Turkey’s interactions with western/European countries. Another fundamentally important point is that whenever Turkish rulers do intensify their efforts to help lessen the psychological imprint in their relations with westerners/Europeans and adopt a more technical and strategic approach towards them, questions about Turkey’s strategic choices and foreign policy orientation pop up instantly across western/European capitals. One cannot help but come to the conclusion that westerners/Europeans would be quite happy to see Turkey’s psychological need to be recognized as a western/European nation continue unabated.

Whereas the rise of challenges emanating from Russia and China might help rejuvenate the trilateral strategic cooperation among the United States, European Union and Turkey, one would do well to recognize that the psychological dimension of this relationship also matters, maybe more than strategic-security considerations. The confluence of four important developments in recent years appears to have psychologically aggravated this trilateral relationship. First, the transatlantic rift between the United States and its European allies has widened over the last decade as the two shores of the Atlantic Ocean have somehow diverged from each other as to how to define western identity and the core tenets of the liberal international order. The cohesion of the so-called western international community has weakened as liberal-democratic credentials of its identity have come under existential challenges across the Atlantic. Looking from Turkey, the question of who remains the gatekeeper of liberal democracy has become difficult to answer.

Second, Turkey’s penchant for further liberal democracy has further decreased as not only liberal democracy has moved from one crisis to another in its homes countries but also Turkey’s liberal democratic reforms alongside the EU accession process have not been positively reciprocated by Europeans. Paradoxically, while Turkey has institutionally come closer to the European Union since the beginning of the formal accession negotiations in 2005 the psychological distance between the two has spectacularly widened with an increasing number of Europeans arguing that this process should be defined as open-ended and Europeans should most offer Turkey a privileged membership.

Third, Turkey has adopted a more nationalist and illiberal turn since the failed coup attempt in July 2016. The fact that neither the United States nor key European Union members took as much a pro-government position as adopted by Russia, Iran and many other non-western nations seems to have aggravated the fears of Turkey’s ruling elite that promotion of liberal democracy abroad is more a strategic weapon at the hands westerners than reflecting their sincere commitment to such values wherever they are abused.

Finally, the growing clout of China, Russia and other non-western countries in global politics in recent years appears to have strengthened realpolitik security considerations and material power calculations at the expense of value-oriented normative underpinnings of international order. While such a tectonic shift in international relations seems to have triggered a crisis of trust in Turkey’s relations with western/European nations on one hand, it has improved Turkey’s ability to develop strategic, pragmatic and interest-based relations with non-western powers on the other.

I am of the view that the continuation of the trilateral cooperation between the United States, European Union and Turkey is in their common interests, yet unless the parties build their relationship on a solid psychological and normative basis, then the years ahead might see more crises arise.

source: www.turkheritage.org

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Three Kinds of Power

By KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON

What the U.S. can — and can’t — actually do about China.

Donald Trump on the campaign trail was a big man when it came to China. Beijing, he promised, would quickly be brought to heel under a Trump administration. Trump failed to accomplish his China goals, but he is not alone in that: Barack Obama failed in much the same way, as did George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, among others.

The last president to get what he wanted out of China policy was Richard Nixon, who understood that China was a threat and an annoyance to the Soviet Union and wanted to make it a bigger threat and a bigger annoyance, which he did.

One of the problems with U.S. China policy is that Washington does not seem to understand what kind of power it actually has when it comes to China.

There are, broadly speaking, three kinds of power in international relations.

The first is pure power, or hostile power. That is how international relations were largely conducted for much of human history: Henry II rules the Vexin because he has an army there, and the French can’t beat it. The flat assertion of pure power is a primitive and backward way of doing business except in extreme circumstances — but, more to the point, it is an option available to the United States on only a very limited basis. Under a variety of different administrations representing both parties and several different ideological orientations, the U.S. government has found that it can effectively execute only narrow and short-term military programs, because the American people consistently are unwilling to “pay any price and bear any burden” and turn against formerly popular wars once the bills start coming due and the body bags start coming home. From Vietnam to Afghanistan, the United States has repeatedly failed to meet its objective through military action except when those objectives are narrowly tailored military outcomes, as with George H. W. Bush’s masterly performance in Desert Storm. But after a few months, Americans start talking about “nation-building at home” and demand that the money we are spending on military campaigns in faraway lands be redirected toward filling potholes in Peoria.
China Hits US with New Media Restrictions
We failed to achieve our goals in Afghanistan and Iraq. Washington knows this, and Beijing knows this. Our mighty military deterrent deters military action against us (the occasional Russian bounty on American heads notwithstanding) but does not do very much more.

The second kind of power is patron power, based on cultivating and exploiting patron-client relationships. Patron power works by offering foreign states and other overseas interests some benefit — cash aid, military guarantees, political support — and then using the threat of taking away that benefit to extort cooperation out of the client state. Here, too, the longstanding inclinations of the American people restrict the U.S. government’s real range of action. Americans are very hostile to foreign aid as such (it is a vanishingly small part of federal outlays but a political obsession among populists Right and Left) and are wary of those “entangling alliances” George Washington warned about. The U.S. government managed to exert real influence on Pakistan as a client state for much of the Cold War and got some benefit out of it, but that is more the exception than the rule. Efforts (mostly well-meaning) to make Israel into a client state have been politely declined by the Israelis, who value their relationship with the United States but do not wish to be dominated by it. In Central and South America, U.S. efforts to exert patron power have not amounted to very much, except in the case of Costa Rica and a few other bright spots.

U.S. policy toward China has gone wrong because Washington behaves as though our relationship with China were a patron-client relationship, in which the United States graciously grants Chinese firms access to U.S. markets in exchange for certain vaguely defined (and often conflicting) reforms: that China become more democratic, less aggressive, less mercantilist, etc. But countries do not trade — people do, and firms do. U.S. consumers do not buy certain Chinese goods because they believe they are doing Beijing a favor, and U.S. firms do not source goods or services from Chinese providers because they believe that they are participating in some sort of foreign-policy project. They make these choices voluntarily, for their own reasons. Trying to use tariffs or other trade restrictions to bludgeon Beijing into toeing Washington’s line fails because the U.S.–China trade relationship is not, however much the populists may insist otherwise, a gift to Beijing. Using trade policy to keep Apple or Google from effectively pursuing their corporate interests will not stop Beijing from pursuing its political interests. For decades, the U.S. government maintained a very effective blockade of Cuba, at very little cost or inconvenience to American consumers and American firms, and still failed to achieve the political outcomes Washington sought. China is much closer to being a peer than Cuba is, and what did not work on Fidel Castro is not going to work on Xi Jinping.

We do not have patron power in our relationship with China, but we do have (if we would use it) the third kind of power: peer power. This is the mortar of real-world diplomacy. Countries have things they want and things they are willing to trade, and they negotiate. This is precisely the sort of thing that the Trump administration is, in theory, supposed to be good at: the art of the deal. But the United States is, intellectually and morally, in retreat, and the diplomatic failures of the Trump administration are more a symptom of that than a cause. In reality, the contest does not stop simply because the United States is sitting on the sidelines.
Our policy toward Beijing fails because our intellectual framework for understanding U.S.–China relations is missing two pieces: Washington lacks a useful understanding of what Beijing wants, and Washington lacks a useful understanding of what Washington wants.

Because of China’s relative poverty (it has a lower GDP per capita than does Mexico) and because China’s regime stakes its legitimacy on its ability to deliver steady economic growth, Beijing still is obliged to keep a watchful eye on the balance sheet. But it has long since moved past the nickel-and-dime stage of its foreign relations. Of course China wants income and wealth. But China also wants status, with the Chinese people and their leaders seeking a place in the world that reflects the actual strength and importance of the country as they estimate it. (The blustery exaggeration of China’s leaders should not seduce us into the error of believing their hype or of believing that they believe it, either. Chairman Xi et al. probably have a pretty realistic understanding of their vulnerabilities.) Beijing’s ham-fisted efforts at using the coronavirus epidemic as part of a public-relations campaign, for example, reflects China’s status anxiety, not its economic ambitions per se. China, so poor and so backward for so long, desires to be seen not merely as a normal self-sufficient modern country (which it is not) but as a great power.

Washington has opportunities in that, but it rarely makes good use of them. There are things that Beijing wants — and things that Beijing dreads — that are subject to American influence. For example, Japan and India would like to become permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Beijing opposes this, and Washington supports it — in a lukewarm and desultory way. Beijing is much more opposed to Japan’s U.N. ascent than it is to India’s and has in the past offered to back India’s bid if India will decouple its bid from Japan’s. The United States could lean harder into Japan’s cause or stand back from it. What’s more, Japan’s ambitions in the United Nations and around the world are complicated by the fact that it is a U.S. military protectorate, a situation that suits Beijing’s interests nicely. China does not want to see a rearmed Japan with robust conventional military forces and a nuclear arsenal, along with an amended constitution empowering Japan to conduct its military and defense affairs in a more normal way. Whether that happens or does not happen is more Washington’s decision than Tokyo’s — an American drawdown from Japan would change things in China’s neighborhood practically overnight. That is a lot of leverage for Washington.

And what does Washington want? Nobody really seems to know. Sometimes, the answer is “fewer Chinese imports,” which is plainly at odds with the revealed preferences of the American people. What Washington most often seems to want is a foreign enemy to blame for the economic conditions of declining former industrial centers in the heartland, and China does nicely in that role. Washington should want a thriving, stable, and engaged China for the same reason what it should want a thriving, stable, and engaged Mexico — because that suits American interests better than does a poor, unstable, and unpredictable country that we are not, despite our apparent wishes, in a position to ignore. The United States could, through bilateral efforts and robust engagement with international institutions, pursue a policy of using the considerable power it actually enjoys in its relationship with China to bargain not for vague commitments to liberalization or openness but for concrete deliverables, for birds in the hand. But that would require a set of national principles and commitments that can survive an election.
Continuity in foreign affairs requires some continuity and consensus in domestic affairs, which cannot be had when everything is up for radical renegotiation every two years or every four years. The pursuit of consensus, political buy-in, and bipartisanship is not a question of being nice, of being Mr. Milquetoast Moderate — it is a question of creating a political situation in which the American government can actually be put to the use of the American people at home and abroad. I have been listening to American presidential candidates promise to “get tough on China” since I was a child, to no end. And in 2020, it’s more of the same.

The alternating current of populist demagoguery is not the kind of power we can use to do the work that needs to be done. The effect of 325 million spoons banging on 325 million high chairs may be a terrific racket, but don’t try to tell me it is the marching music of the “national interest.

www.nationalreview.com

Visits: 281

The Case for Kissinger

by Jacob Heilbrunn

HENRY KISSINGER, who recently turned ninety-seven, is America’s most celebrated living statesman. None of his successors has come close to matching the extraordinary blend of acclaim and notoriety, admiration and criticism that he attracted as national security adviser and secretary of state to Richard M. Nixon and secretary of state to Gerald Ford. The British Foreign Office referred to him at the time as “the Wizard of the Western World’” and Playboy Bunnies voted him the man they would prefer to date in 1972—no small accomplishments for an expert on the Congress of Vienna who spent much of his early career at Harvard, where his cohort included the likes of Samuel Huntington, Stanley Hoffmann, and Zbigniew Brzeziński.
But Kissinger’s foreign policy wizardry was always accompanied by reproaches and rebukes, both public and private. The posthumously published The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., for example, reveal that in a lengthy November 5, 1974 missive to Kissinger, Schlesinger expressed his dismay to his old friend about the direction of American foreign policy during the Nixon administration:

I cannot but feel that our foreign policy in recent years removed the United States from what historically has been the source of our greatest impact on mankind. We have most influenced the world as a nation of ideals, conveying a sense of hope and faith in democracy… It may well be said that such hope was often delusory and that it often concealed a tough sense of American self-interest. […] The conception of world affairs as a chess game played by foreign secretaries contains an instinctive preference for authoritarian states, where governments can be relied on to deliver their people, as against democracies, where people might always turn on their governments.

The Left and Right united in attacking him as an amoral practitioner of realpolitik who had subverted American ideals: to the former he was a war criminal who had wantonly deployed American power abroad; to the latter, an appeaser who had not deployed it enough. Ronald Reagan declared at the Republican Convention in Kansas City in 1976 that “Henry Kissinger’s recent stewardship of U.S. foreign policy has coincided precisely with the loss of U.S. military supremacy… Under Kissinger and Ford this nation has become No. 2 in military power in a world where it is dangerous—if not fatal—to be second best.”

Kissinger was undaunted. His two volumes of memoirs, which were published in 1979 and 1982, were bestsellers. In 2014, in a poll of American international relations scholars, he was named the most effective secretary of state in the previous fifty years. He has remained a coveted presence in the Oval Office, advising presidents from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan, from George W. Bush to Donald Trump. Vice President Dick Cheney said, “I probably talk to Henry Kissinger more than I talk to anyone else.” Kissinger also advised Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state, observing “She ran the State Department in the most effective way I’ve ever seen.” Clinton reciprocated the sentiments in a 2014 review in the Washington Post of his book, World Order: “Kissinger is a friend and I relied on his counsel when I served as Secretary of State.” Yet in 2016, when she ran for the Democratic nomination, she became embroiled in a nasty dispute with her rival Bernie Sanders over her admiration for Kissinger. Sanders declared during a debate in February, “I am proud to say Henry Kissinger is not my friend” (as though he had a real choice in the matter). Decades after he exited government service, Kissinger continued to provoke disputes about his legacy and reputation.

Visits: 77

China Versus the World

An Emboldened Beijing Seeks to Consolidate Its Power
Beijing is ruthlessly expanding its power. But resistance is growing around the world — and Germany will soon play a key role.

By Georg Fahrion, Christiane Hoffmann, Laura Höflinger, Peter Müller, Jörg Schindler und Bernhard Zand

The Galwan Valley in the Himalayas is located at an altitude of 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). It is a remote area where the slopes are covered in snow all year round. Last week, the valley made an appearance on the global political stage. China and India, the two most populous countries on the planet faced off along their — disputed — Himalayan border. The exact location of where one country ends and the next begins has long been unsettled. Indeed, the two countries went to war over it in 1962.

As the two nuclear-armed states clashed, at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed on the night of June 15. There were also reports of deaths on the Chinese side.

For the first time in almost half a century, the rivalry between the two neighbors has cost human lives. No shots are said to have been fired. Patrols in the area generally don’t carry firearms. Both governments are apparently aware that they could easily trigger a world war. The soldiers may have beaten each other to death with stones and clubs. Some are said to have fallen into a ravine during the fighting.

The incident shows how quickly the situation in Asia can escalate and how a cold war can turn into a hot one at any given moment, despite the high level of caution.

In the Galwan Valley, claims and interests collide. On the one side, there’s the People’s Republic of China, which is expanding its power in the region. In late April, while India was preoccupied with a worsening coronavirus crisis, the Chinese army is said to have moved troops into the border area and encroached on Indian territory in several places. At least that’s what the government in New Delhi says.

On the other side, there are countries like India that don’t want to put up with China’s expansionism.

It isn’t only the Chinese-Indian relationship that’s tense. Resistance against China is growing in many parts of the world. Conflicts sometimes take place openly, as in the case of India, and at others covertly.

“What we are seeing now is just the beginning of a global backlash,” says Indian geostrategist Brahma Chellaney.

Decoupling From China
Beijing’s growing strength is leading to a “fundamental shifting” of the global balance of power, says NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, adding that in the future, the Western military alliance should cooperate more closely with “like-minded countries,” such as Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. NATO must “stand up for a world built on freedom and democracy, not on bullying and coercion.” Stoltenberg didn’t have to mention China by name. Everyone knows who he meant.

At the center of the global struggle for power are the United States and China, an old superpower and a new one. Their rivalry has even spilled over into the search for a coronavirus vaccine.

Ever since Richard Nixon was president in the 1970s, Washington has pursued a policy of rapprochement with Beijing. The U.S. aimed to integrate the formerly isolated and impoverished empire into the international system, in the hope that China would align itself with the West. In economic terms, this formula is known as “change through trade.” Every successive U.S. administration has more or less adhered to this approach — until Donald Trump came along.

U.S. President Trump has opted for a policy of decoupling rather than rapprochement with China.
U.S. President Trump has opted for a policy of decoupling rather than rapprochement with China. JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS
In 2018, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech at the Hudson Institute in Washington that marked a departure from traditional politics. He accused China of expansionism, unscrupulousness and an uninhibited display of power. “We will not be intimidated and we will not stand down,” he said.

Today, Washington no longer speaks of rapprochement, but of “decoupling” from China.

The U.S.’ change of course was preceded by a shift in awareness on the Chinese side. For a long time, the country had followed the directive of the reformist politician, Deng Xiaoping. “Taoguang yanghui,” it went: “Hide your strength and wait and see.” But as early as the global financial crisis in 2007, the notion has been spreading in China that its own system is not only equal to the West’s, but perhaps even superior.

Provocative Acts
At a Communist Party conference in 2017, Chinese President and party leader Xi Jinping made it clear that he thought China’s moment had arrived. He proclaimed a “new era” in which the People’s Republic would move “to the center of the world stage.”

The American sinologist Orville Schell recently argued in an essay that Trump’s policy of “America First” and Xi’s “Chinese Dream” of re-emerging as a global power would be difficult to reconcile. Schell’s take is that a new Cold War is all but certain. At best, it could be limited, not prevented.

This antagonism has also forced other countries to pick a side. And even though many players may feel alienated by Trump’s misguided policies, hardly anyone is prepared to get behind China.

Many people in India have long felt threatened by their big neighbor, and not only since the conflict in the Galwan Valley.

In early June, India and Australia announced an agreement by which the two nations would grant one another use of their military bases. The U.S., Japan, Australia and India — known as the “Quad” in geopolitical parlance — could hold joint military exercises in the Indian Ocean for the first time in over 10 years.

The countries have been alarmed by developments in the South China Sea, where there has been a growing number of incidents in recent months. Within a short period of time, Beijing officially incorporated islands there into Chinese administrative districts, carried out geological exploration work in Malaysian waters, the Chinese coast guard rammed a Vietnamese fishing boat and a Chinese corvette aimed at a Filipino warship.

Hanoi, as well as the otherwise reserved governments in Manila and Kuala Lumpur, protested. The U.S. sent three aircraft carriers to the region. The last time the U.S. Navy displayed such strength in the Indo-Pacific was three years ago. Last week, a U.S. military aircraft also flew over Taiwan, a country that is critical of Beijing and with which Washington maintains exceptional relations. China, which considers Taiwan a part of its own territory, called the maneuver a “provocative act.”

It’s likely no coincidence that the conflict between China and the West is coming to a head when the world is distracted by the coronavirus, a disease that first broke out in China of all places.

Shi Yinhong, a professor of politics at Renmin University in Beijing, believes that on the one hand, China is feeling battered and oppressed by accusations of having caused the pandemic, and hit by the collapse of its economy. On the other hand, the leadership in Beijing also sees the crisis as an opportunity to expand its power. Their logic is such: We may be weak, but the others are currently much weaker.

The rhetoric of Chinese diplomacy has changed significantly. Back in the 1990s, some Communist Party members sniped at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, calling it the “Ministry of Traitors,” because its diplomats were supposedly so respectful toward the West. Today, the so-called “Wolf Warriors” call the shots there. This new generation of foreign policy makers gets its name from a patriotic blockbuster in which a cool Chinese fighter faces an American mercenary — with an impressive arsenal of weapons and catchy sayings.

One representative of the new line is Zhao Lijian, who was promoted to Foreign Ministry spokesman after distinguishing himself as a polemical Twitter user during a deployment in Pakistan. In January, China’s ambassador to Sweden, Gui Congyou, compared journalists who criticized China to lightweight boxers foolishly provoking a heavyweight.

Not all Chinese diplomats supported his confrontational style. But moderates like Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador in Washington, are being marginalized, or they’re on their way to retirement. “Almost all of our foreign relations are in a bad way,” says policy professor Shi Yinhong.

Sometimes things escalate beyond mere snappy comments. China at times also uses hard economic pressure to impose its will on its opponents. Australia, whose most important trading partner by far is China, is feeling the effects of this. The government in Canberra had demanded an independent investigation into the outbreak in Wuhan. As a result, Beijing banned the import of beef from four Australian slaughterhouses and imposed an 80-percent tariff on Australian barley. Chinese tourists were also warned against traveling to Australia due to an alleged threat of racist attack. Most recently, China’s Ministry of Education advised students not to study in Australia.

Canberra’s attitude toward China has tended to only cool relations further. “We are an open-trading nation,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison, “but I’m never going to trade our values in response to coercion from wherever it comes.”

Political Headwinds
Nowhere is China’s determination to instrumentalize the coronavirus crisis for its own benefit more evident than in Hong Kong. In May, Beijing announced that it would impose a new security law on the former British crown colony. This would allow China’s Ministry of State Security to operate on Hong Kong territory for the first time.

Critics view this not only as an end to freedom of expression in Hong Kong, but also as a breach of the international treaty between China and Britain in which they agreed that the city should enjoy a “high degree of autonomy” until 2047.

On Wednesday, the foreign ministers of the G-7 expressed in a joint statement their “grave concern” about China’s actions.

Above all, it’s the former colonial power Britain that is under pressure. As late as 2015, then-Prime Minister David Cameron was still raving about an impending “golden era” of relations between Britain and China. Beautiful photos of Cameron and Xi were staged, showing them sipping lukewarm ale in a pub in the English countryside.

Cameron’s successor, Boris Johnson, describes himself as “sinophile” and went to great lengths as the mayor of London to attract Chinese investors. But now, he feels compelled to take a clear position.

If China follows through with its new security law, Johnson said London would have “no choice” but to offer 12-month visas to the nearly 3 million Hong Kong citizens who either hold or are entitled to a British overseas passport. It would offer those people a “route to citizenship.”

Other signs are also pointing to conflict. For one, there’s the fact that Britain is reviewing its January decision to involve the Chinese network equipment supplier Huawei in the expansion of the British 5G network. China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Liu Xiaoming, threatened that if the British were to exclude Huawei, Chinese companies could cancel the construction of a nuclear power plant and a new network of tracks for high-speed trains on the island.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jumped at the news: If China backed out, he promised, the U.S. would happily pick up the slack.

From Competitor to Rival

China is encountering political headwinds not only from governments, but from parliaments as well. The Conservative member of parliament Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, founded the China Research Group in the British parliament. Its members are critical of China and have been lobbying for months to push back Chinese influence in many spheres of British life. “China is challenging the rules-based international system,” says Tugendhat. “We must defend it.”

An international group of parliamentarians who banded together in early June as part of the so-called Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China wants to achieve a similar effect. Co-chairs include representatives from such diverse camps as Republican Senator Marco Rubio, an American, and Reinhard Bütikofer, a German member of the European Parliament with the Green Party.

“The Chancellery hasn’t heard the gong yet.”
Nils Schmid, German parliamentarian
“Of course, you have to work with China,” says his party colleague, Omid Nouripour, a member of the German parliament who is also involved. “Nevertheless, this initiative was overdue. The system question is no longer concealed, but clearly expressed from the Chinese side.”

Even the European Union, which has long been lenient toward China, is now showing a greater willingness to assert itself. In 2019, the European Commission for the first time stopped describing China merely as an economic competitor, but as a “systemic rival.” The EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, in May called for Europe to be “more robust” toward China.

This is already happening, too, at least in economic terms. After some spectacular takeovers of European companies by Chinese groups, over which there was substantial public outcry, new rules for reviewing investments designed to ensure greater transparency have been in force since April 2019.

Last Wednesday, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager presented her new white paper. It contains proposals for how the EU intends to act in the future against companies from third countries, such as China, that use state subsidies to undermine the EU’s internal market.

Germany Steps Up
EU negotiators are also getting closer to their goal of reaching a long-planned investment protection agreement with Beijing. It is intended to provide EU companies in China with relatively fair market access and competitive conditions. One crucial thing the agreement calls for is an end to forced technology transfers, says EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan. Foreign companies that want to produce in China must show the Chinese their technology.

The agreement would be an important step. The EU often has a hard time sending powerful signals to China — whether over human rights or combating the pandemic.

That’s why German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to develop a unified European stance toward Beijing. She has declared Europe’s China policy to be one of the central themes of Germany’s EU Council presidency, which will begin July 1.

Merkel is toeing a fine line. Under no circumstances does she wish to follow the U.S. on its path toward decoupling. “A policy that attempts to isolate China is not in the German and European interest,” says Norbert Röttgen, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German parliament.

At the same time, Germany is also becoming more critical of China and its ambitions for world power.

The question is whether the chancellor is the right person to lead the charge. Her critics consider her a silent advocate, arguing that her policies are one-sided and oriented toward the interests of German businesses.

Last week, the German government published its draft program for the EU Council presidency, which, compared with an earlier version, takes a somewhat sharper tone. Germany wants to demand “more reciprocity in all policy areas” from China. It also stresses the importance of European “values.” But what that will mean in concrete terms remains to be seen.

“Angela Merkel is trapped in an outdated perception of China,” says Nils Schmid, the foreign policy spokesperson for the Social Democrats in the German parliament. “The Chancellery hasn’t heard the gong yet.”

source: www.spiegel.de/international

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When the CIA Interferes in Foreign Elections

A Modern-Day History of American Covert Action

By 

This article taken from www.foreignaffairs.com

Russian President Vladimir Putin tends to respond to questions about his government’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with a mix of denials and countercharges. It is the United States, he alleged in June 2017, that “all over the world is actively interfering in electoral campaigns in other countries.” The purpose of this claim is to excuse and distract from Russia’s actions, and in many places overseas, it’s working. From Kyiv to Brussels to London, government officials told me that they assume the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) frequently interferes in elections abroad.

This perception is understandable: for decades, it was true. The CIA’s first-ever covert action program was an operation to manipulate Italy’s 1948 election. American intelligence officers spread incendiary propaganda, bankrolled their preferred candidate, and orchestrated grassroots initiatives—all to advantage Italy’s centrist forces over their leftist competitors. After the Italian Communist Party lost, the 1948 operation became “a template,” David Robarge, the CIA’s chief internal historian, told me, for what the agency then did in “many, many countries” in competition with its Soviet counterpart, the KGB. From Chile and Guyana to El Salvador and Japan, the CIA and the KGB targeted democratic elections across the globe. Some of those operations manipulated ballots directly; others manipulated public opinion; all were designed to influence election outcomes.

Then, the Cold War ended, and the opposing objectives of Moscow’s and Washington’s electoral operations—to spread or to contain communism—became obsolete. Since then, Russian intelligence has interfered in many foreign elections, not to advance an ideology but to promote divisive and authoritarian-minded candidates, sow chaos and confusion, and delegitimize the democratic model. But what of the CIA?
Over the past two years, I interviewed more than 130 officials about the century-long history of covert electoral interference, or concealed foreign efforts to manipulate democratic votes of succession. My interviewees included eight former CIA directors and many more CIA officers, as well as directors of national intelligence, secretaries of state, national security advisers, a KGB general, and a former U.S. president. I learned that in the twenty-first century, Washington’s senior-most national security officials have considered using the CIA to interfere in foreign elections at least twice. In one instance—in Serbia in 2000—debate turned into action, as the CIA spent millions of dollars working against the tyrant Slobodan Milosevic. In the other—in Iraq in 2005—the CIA stood down. In both instances, U.S. policymakers weighed the potential benefits of covert action against the perceived risks. These behind-the-scenes stories reveal why, contrary to Putin’s claims, Washington, unlike Moscow, has moved away from the practice of covert electoral interference.

“THERE’S A DEATH THRESHOLD, AND MILOSEVIC CROSSED IT”
The first case arrived in 2000, when Milosevic, the Yugoslav president, was competing for reelection in Serbia. Milosevic was many things: a Moscow-aligned Communist, a Serbian nationalist, and a grave abuser of human rights. In the mid-1990s, he had enabled a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A few years later, he did the same in Kosovo, as his soldiers systemically terrorized, murdered, and expelled ethnic Albanians. The severity of these atrocities prompted NATO, in 1999, to launch an air campaign against Milosevic’s forces and an international court to indict him as a war criminal. Leon Panetta, U.S. President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff from 1994 to 1997, told me, “Milosevic was viewed as a bad guy and influence and somebody that was going to turn that part of the world upside down if there weren’t steps taken to go after him.”

The 2000 election presented such an opportunity. “I don’t know that we publicly said that our goal was regime change,” said James O’Brien, then Clinton’s special envoy for the Balkans, but “we did not see Milosevic being able to lead a normal country.” From mid-1999 to late 2000, public and private U.S. organizations spent roughly $40 million on Serbian programs, supporting not just Milosevic’s opposition but also the independent media, civic organizations, and get-out-the-vote initiatives. Through this overt engagement, O’Brien explained, the United States aimed to level the playing field in an election that Milosevic was poised to manipulate.

As the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) influenced the Serbian election in the light, the CIA did the same in secret. John Sipher told me that between 1991 and 2014, when he was serving as a CIA operations officer, he knew of just one “successful” operation to interfere in an election: in Serbia in 2000. “There was a covert effort to try to support the opposition to Milosevic,” Sipher said, recalling that after Clinton notified select members of Congress, the CIA went to work “supporting and funding and providing help to specific opposition candidates—that was the main thing.”

Sipher, who became the CIA’s station chief in Serbia just after the election, explained that the agency funneled “certainly millions of dollars” into the anti-Milosevic campaign, mostly by meeting with key aides to Serbian opposition leaders outside their country’s borders and “providing them with cash” on the spot.
As the State Department and U.S.-funded NGOs influenced the Serbian election in the light, the CIA did the same in secret.
In an interview, Clinton confirmed that he authorized the CIA to interfere in the 2000 election in favor of Milosevic’s opponents. “I didn’t have a problem with it,” he told me of the CIA’s covert action program, because Milosevic “was a stone-cold killer and had caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.” Just as Cold War–era U.S. presidents believed they could strengthen foreign democracies by undermining communist candidates, Clinton believed he could strengthen Serbian democracy by working against Milosevic. “The guy was a war criminal,” Clinton told me. “I didn’t consider Milosevic to be a democracy candidate; I thought he was trying to get rid of democracy.”

In Serbia, the CIA’s focus was on influencing minds rather than altering ballots. “We did not rig the vote nor knowingly lie to the voters to get them to support the people we hoped to win,” Clinton explained. Instead, the CIA provided money and other types of assistance to the opposition campaign.

Congressional leaders knew about and backed this secret plan. Trent Lott, the Senate majority leader, recalled that when he was briefed on the CIA’s operation, he supported it wholeheartedly. “[Milosevic] was totally out of control,” Lott told me. “We weren’t gonna invade, but it was a mess, and we had to do something.” CIA officers, unlike other U.S. government officials, could operate undercover. “Because of the nature of the way we do business,” explained Douglas Wise, then a CIA operations officer based in the Balkans, “Serbia was a lot more penetrable than it was for people who were much more overt, shall we say.” The U.S. intelligence community’s involvement in the election was “substantial,” Wise continued, as Washington used “all the instruments of our national power to create an outcome that was pleasing for the United States.”
But would it be enough? As the election approached, Clinton worried that Milosevic would cheat his way to victory. “These elections are going to be important, but they probably won’t be fair,” he told Vladimir Putin, Russia’s new president, two and a half weeks before the vote, according to a recently declassified transcript of their conversation. “Milosevic is running behind in the polls, so he’ll probably steal it. It would be preferable for him to lose, but he’ll probably arrange not to.” (Putin, in response, complained about NATO’s intervention the previous year. “We weren’t consulted in the decision to bomb Yugoslavia,” he said. “That’s not fair.”)

U.S. democracy promotion organizations, sharing Clinton’s concerns, sought to ensure that Milosevic could not falsify the vote count. One U.S.-funded NGO trained more than 15,000 activists to monitor polling places. The day of the election, opposition members tallied ballots alongside government officials. The state’s vote count suggested that Milosevic had a narrow lead. The parallel count, however, revealed the truth: he had lost overwhelmingly. Major protests erupted. Milosevic, unable to quell a popular revolution, was forced to resign.

The CIA’s hand remained hidden. Two decades later, now retired American intelligence officers expressed unexplained confidence that their work proved pivotal in defeating Milosevic. Sipher commented on the “success” of the CIA’s operation. Wise said that the United States made “a big difference” and that “a combination” of covert and overt tactics had produced “a positive outcome.” As with all covert operations to influence voters, though, the CIA could not assess its precise impact. “Measuring it is hard,” Sipher recognized. But he noted that Serbian government officials did credit the CIA for their victory behind closed doors. “Many of the key players who became senior figures in the follow-on government continued to meet with us and continued to tell us that it was our efforts that led to their success,” Sipher said, “in terms of helping them with everything, from advertising to financing to how they did things” during the campaign.

In interviews, more senior government officials grew uncomfortable at any mention of the CIA and Milosevic’s defeat. “I know stuff about that, but I’m not able to talk about it,” said John McLaughlin, who was the CIA’s deputy director in 2000. This discomfort made sense: CIA interference in the 2000 election was not representative of the agency’s post–Cold War operations. How often, after all, can a war criminal be ousted by ballot? “There seemed to be a higher comfort level not just in the intelligence part of the world but really just policy writ large that something had to be done in the Balkans,” said Steven Hall, a former CIA operations officer who was stationed in the region in 2000. For Washington, “electoral manipulation” had become “a tool of last resort,” Wise added, and the Serbian case was “the complete exception,” in part because of Milosevic’s atrocities and in part because of the “receptive,” “credible,” and “attractive” nature of the opposition. For such cases, Wise argued generally, “the ends justify the means . . . the risk is you maybe do something that is un-American in the eyes of some.” But the result is “the genocidal maniac is no longer in power.”

When I asked Clinton why covert action was merited in Serbia, he said simply, “There’s a death threshold, and Milosevic crossed it.”

THE CIA IS SIDELINED
In 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush was on the verge of authorizing another such operation. The story unfolded in the White House Situation Room, where, in the summer and fall, national security officials weighed a familiar proposal: for the CIA to engage in covert electoral interference. This time, the target would be Iraq.

In March 2003, the United States had invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, the country’s longtime dictator, and seize weapons of mass destruction that he allegedly possessed. Hussein’s government fell within weeks, but no such weapons were found. Struggling to justify the war, Bush renewed his promise to transform Iraq’s political system. In late 2003, he declared that “Iraqi democracy will succeed” and that its citizens would enjoy popular representation. “For [the U.S. government] at that time it was extremely important to have free and fair elections because that’s actually justifying the invasion,” said Arturo Muñoz, then a senior CIA operations officer. “As long as we didn’t find weapons of mass destruction, we were kind of desperate by then to justify ourselves, so at least we can create democracy in this place.” American democracy promotion organizations poured resources into Iraq. The International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, in particular, launched substantial programs there, helping to produce voter-education materials, train party officials, and facilitate political debates and get-out-the-vote efforts.

The purpose of elections, though, is for voters to determine the direction of their state. In this sense, Bush had a problem: intelligence reports indicated that his preferred candidate, Ayad Allawi, would lose in Iraq’s first-ever parliamentary election, scheduled for January 2005.
The transition from containing Communism to promoting democracy made electoral interference a riskier proposition.
The U.S. intelligence community believed that Iran was manipulating the election in favor of Allawi’s opposition. “Of course, Iran was involved,” said McLaughlin, then the CIA’s deputy director. “Why wouldn’t they be? They’re right next door, they have the capability, and they were close to some of the leadership.” Wise was based in Iraq ahead of the election and a few years later, became the CIA’s station chief there. He described Iranian interference in the Iraqi election as wide-ranging: “We’re talking money, activists, threats, extortion, a paramilitary presence.”

Bush and his advisers debated whether to respond with covert action. John Negroponte, then the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, regularly participated in interagency teleconferences from Baghdad with a sole agenda item: CIA-led electoral interference. “We really thought about it hard,” said Negroponte, who told me that he had been “open to the possibility” in discussions with other senior administration officials.

Deliberations reached a serious enough stage that the White House briefed the congressional leadership on its planning. “[The] top line was that there’s an opportunity here to engage in a way that could provide much more of a guaranteed outcome,” recounted Tom Daschle, then the Senate minority leader. The officials I interviewed could not recall, or were unwilling to share, the operational details of the CIA’s plan, although Daschle told me that it included “a lot of activities that we thought were just untoward and inadvisable.”

For the CIA, interfering in Iraq’s election would be the latest rendition of an age-old operation, and by the fall of 2004, the agency was moving toward action. Allawi had come to expect covert help. “The initial attitude of the U.S. was to support moderate forces, financially and in the media,” he said in 2007. Then, unexpectedly, this assistance “was brought to a halt,” Allawi said, “under the pretext that the U.S. does not want to interfere.”

Within the CIA, Congress, and the White House, an unlikely alliance of officials had united against covert electoral interference. The CIA’s representatives, Negroponte recalled, “least wanted to be involved” with this operation, since it could expose the agency to criticism if detected. McLaughlin, laughing, said that he “wouldn’t disagree” with Negroponte’s recollection. “We had, after all, invaded a country to make it democratic,” he said. “How hypocritical would it be then to subvert their election?” Speaking generally, Muñoz said, “If you’re going to ruin the elections, and it becomes known, and things frequently leak,” then once “word gets out that so-and-so won because the CIA did X, Y, and Z, then you’ve just wrecked the whole foreign policy adventure that you’ve embarked on.”

Congressional leaders also objected to the plan. For Daschle, the arguments against covert action were twofold. The first was a matter of optics: how “terrible it would look” if exposed. The second was normative. “It was no longer the Cold War,” he said. “Doing what we had been doing even twenty years earlier was just not appropriate; it wasn’t keeping with what our country should be all about.” Daschle recalled that Nancy Pelosi, his counterpart in the House of Representatives, was “very vocal” in opposing the plan. Pelosi reportedly found an ally in Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser. “As I heard the debate go on,” Negroponte said, “I realized, ‘It is just not worth it, and people do not want to do it,’ and we rejected it.”

Bush, in attempting to build a democracy, was unwilling to intervene covertly in that democracy’s elections. “You wanted to be pretty much clean and free when it came to interference in their electoral processes,” McLaughlin said. “I was involved in a lot of covert action planning and decisions, and you always have to ask yourself, ‘What are the unintended consequences of what we are proposing to do or thinking about doing?’”

The CIA’s plan was shelved. And come January 2005, Allawi’s coalition lost resoundingly in a contest marred by instability and terrorist attacks. A governing coalition with close ties to Tehran then took power.

A NEW AGE
How, then, has the role of the CIA changed in the post–Cold War period? As Russian intelligence again manipulates elections around the world, the CIA has charted the opposite course. The Serbian operation, according to various U.S. officials, was an “extraordinary” measure that reflected extraordinary circumstances. For the Iraqi election, which did not involve a ruler like Milošević, U.S. policymakers judged that the risks of covert action were too high. In the years since, based on my interviews with the seven directors of the CIA from July 2004 to January 2017, as well as former directors of national intelligence and deputy CIA directors, the logic behind the Iraqi decision has become the norm. Contrary to Putin’s claims, Washington has all but abandoned the use of covert electoral interference.

In interviews about the CIA’s modern covert action programs, the United States’ former spy chiefs fall into two groups. The first insists that the agency no longer engages in covert electoral interference. David Petraeus, who led the CIA in 2011 and 2012, said he is “not aware . . . in more recent times” of such operations. John Brennan, the CIA’s director from 2013 to 2017, offered a more blanket assurance: “With President Obama and President Bush 43, there was never an effort to try to influence the outcome of a democratic election. We believed it was antithetical to the democratic process to do that.” The CIA once targeted foreign elections, he continued, “but over the course of the last 18 years or so, that has not been the case.”

The second group of officials does not speak in absolutes, suggesting instead that the CIA has moved away from, but not necessarily stopped, influencing elections overseas. “There wasn’t much of it. This is not something that intelligence does with anything like the sense of flexibility and freedom that it might have had in the early Cold War,” said McLaughlin, who, as the CIA’s number two in 2000, would have been involved with the Milosevic case. Since then, such operations have, at the very least, been raised at the highest levels. The Bush administration debated the Iraq scheme; the Obama administration weighed similar proposals. “It’s not like these ideas don’t resurface, but at least in [the Obama] administration they would get rejected,” said Tony Blinken, who served in senior national security positions for the entirety of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Former CIA director John Brennan testifying before the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, May 2017
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
Of this second group, Leon Panetta, the CIA’s director from 2009 to 2011, was the most forthcoming. He said he never “got into” altering votes directly or spreading disinformation. But on rare occasions, his CIA did influence foreign media outlets ahead of elections in order to “change attitudes within the country.” The CIA’s method, Panetta went on, was to “acquire media within a country or within a region that could very well be used for being able to deliver” a specific message or work to “influence those that may own elements of the media to be able to cooperate, work with you in delivering that message.” As in Italy in 1948 or Serbia in 2000, the programs that Panetta described complemented overt propaganda campaigns. “Even though we were operating on a covert basis,” he said, “you had to make sure that the overt methods that were being used at least delivered the same message.” Even this type of operation presented risks. “There is no question it’s a gamble,” Panetta continued, which is why it was an option of last resort and why more aggressive tactics had been sidelined.

Every interview pointed to the same conclusion: for the CIA, covert electoral interference has become the exception rather than the rule. Either the agency no longer seeks to influence election outcomes, as Brennan and Petraeus asserted, or it does so in rare cases when, as with Milosevic, a tyrant can be ousted by ballot. The exact truth is unknown. But this general shift marks a dramatic departure from the Cold War, when the CIA was interfering in the elections of “many, many” countries. Of this evolution, Negroponte, a former director of national intelligence, said, “Frankly, political action of that kind is really part of the past. Iraq convinced me of that. It was just zero appetite for [electoral] intervention.”

Skeptics will insist that the United States’ intelligence chiefs are lying. But considering present-day realities, the skeptics may be the ones defying logic. It would be self-defeating for the CIA to manipulate foreign elections in all but the most exceptional of circumstances. One reason why concerns the end of the Cold War, which robbed the CIA of its long-running purpose: to counter the Soviet Union. Milosevic, for one, was a relic of a previous era. In September 2001, the CIA found a new focus in counterterrorism, which called for drone strikes and paramilitary operations, not electoral interference.

The United States’ post–Cold War leaders declared an era of liberal democracy defined by free and fair elections. This transition, from containing communism to promoting democracy, made covert electoral interference a riskier proposition. As Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, explained, “Meddling in an electoral process cuts across the grain of our own fundamental beliefs. You might want to do it to level the playing field, you might want to do it because of just the demands of national security, but it doesn’t feel right.” McLaughlin elaborated upon Washington’s evolving outlook. “If you are interfering in an election and are exposed as doing so,” he said, “you are a lot more hypocritical than you would have appeared in the Cold War, when that sort of thing tended to be excused as part of the cost of doing business.”

Hypocrisy, however, had not stopped the CIA before. And in recent years, as great-power competition has reemerged, the United States has had a stake in many foreign elections. Changes in high politics, then, only partly explain this shift in CIA activity. The rest of this story has to do with the spread of the Internet, which has exposed American elections to outside interference. Officials in Washington are reluctant to execute the type of operation to which their country has become so vulnerable. “If you’re in a glass house, don’t throw stones,” Petraeus said. “And we’re the biggest glass house when it comes to Internet connectivity.”

The digital age has also made it harder to maintain the secrecy of covert operations to manipulate foreign electorates. “It’s very difficult to keep that kind of activity from ultimately getting out,” Petraeus continued. And for Washington, getting caught matters. “If the United States were identified as having promoted disinformation or tampering with votes in an election, it would undermine our credibility and our policy efforts, given how inconsistent such actions would be with the values we promote, which are at the heart of our soft power,” said Avril Haines, a former deputy CIA director. “The same is not true for Russia.

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