Connect with us

Opinion

Trump’s democratic destruction and Asian absenteeism

Avatar

Published

on

In the twelve months since the 2016 elections, the United States has undergone an unrelenting series of attacks on its constitutional provisions, its regulatory regime, its democratic procedures and its social cohesion.

US President Donald Trump has been the knife-edge of these assaults.

He has repeatedly challenged judicial and media independence. He threatens banana republic-like judicial retaliation against his political opponents. He has green-lighted white supremacy and Nazi marchers while attacking religious, racial and ethnic minorities.

He has refused to enforce existing laws while his appointments and executive orders have undercut the missions of numerous government agencies. He has exploited the presidency to enrich himself and his family while following the authoritarian’s playbook by muddying the line between fact and fiction through shameless denials of inconvenient facts — whether they be the size of his inaugural crowd, the science of climate change or the conclusion of US intelligence agencies that Russian interference helped his election.

Yet his actions are hardly those of an unsupported autocrat. A Republican Congress and an animated support base provide steady enabling.

They seem convinced that they are in an existential gang war, and beneath their red jerseys, they have proven themselves better armed and more willing to sacrifice principles for one-party autocracy than their blue-jerseyed ‘enemies’.

Darkening for democracy as this domestic situation is, the immediate impact on Asia is largely indirect.

As US political power focuses inwardly, US engagement with Asia atrophies

Nothing telegraphs the minimisation of foreign policy more than the evisceration of the Department of State.

A diplomatic novice leads it, the department faces major budget cuts, scores of senior diplomats — including 60 per cent of the United States’ senior ambassadors — have resigned while 74 top posts at the State Department remain vacant with no announced nominee.

Despite a purported concern with North Korea, the Trump administration (as of 29 November), had not even nominated individuals to fill such key posts as Assistant Secretary for International Security and Non-Proliferation, Assistant Secretary for East Asia or Ambassador to South Korea.

Some might offer Trump’s 12 day, five-nation trip to Asia as counter-evidence. Yet aside from a physical presence in the region and a number of showy photo ops, the trip generated few concrete outcomes.

Trump’s ‘America First’ speech at APEC was an unapologetic broadcasting of his government’s domestic obsession and its obliviousness to the reality that the global and regional trade regime he vilified has been vital to Asia’s post-war economic success.

His last-minute decision to skip the plenary session of the East Asia Summit testified further to his administration’s narcissistic approach to Asia, including its multilateral institutions.

Underscoring the absence of an integrative strategy was the schizophrenic insistence that Asian countries should cooperate multilaterally with the United States regarding North Korea but simultaneously that they should all behave unilaterally on trade and in doing so follow the lead of the US.

Equally inconsistent was Trump’s decision to decertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal forged by his predecessor Barack Obama and major world leaders. The signal sent to the North Koreans could not be clearer: why enter a deal with us if we are free to ignore prior international agreements?

Such diametrically antagonistic impulses have left allies and adversaries alike confused about the United States’ motives and staying power: what are the United States’ goals, what tactics will advance their implementation and will anyone be in office to advance them?

Unfair trading practices — most particularly China’s mercantilist behaviour and constraints on foreign companies — deserve criticism. But rather than aligning allies such as Japan, South Korea and Germany, all of which have suffered from Chinese practices, the Trump administration has been approaching the issue unilaterally and inconsistently, minimising the chances for support from others victimised by Chinese practices.

Thus, in his recent visit to China, Trump basked in his host’s flattering pageantry while ignoring earlier declamations about trade practices. Instead, he concentrated on pressuring China to tighten sanctions on North Korea.

Meanwhile, as its democracy deteriorates domestically, the longstanding appeal of US soft power withers.

Admittedly, the United States has never been especially forceful in promoting human rights and democracy in Asia.

Author: TJ Pempel, University of California, Berkeley

Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Comments

Asean

We’ve entered the Asian Century and there is no turning back

In the nineteenth century, the world was Europeanized. In the twentieth century, it was Americanized. Now, it is being Asianized – and much faster than you may think.

Avatar

Published

on

Asia’s rise has been swift. Home to more than half of the world’s population, the region has climbed from low- to middle-income status within a single generation. By 2040, it is likely to generate more than 50% of world GDP, and could account for nearly 40% of global consumption.

(more…)

Continue Reading

Opinion

Why Asia needs to rethink the ‘sharing economy’

What is popularly called the ‘sharing economy’ has done a lot of good and reached tremendous heights in Asia. GoJek and Grab added US$6.6 billion to Indonesian GDP in 2018.

Avatar

Published

on

Once celebrated as exemplars of the ‘sharing economy’, China’s bike-sharing companies rapidly filled Chinese cities with bikes.

(more…)

Continue Reading

Opinion

Sufficiency Economy, King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s most enduring legacy

In a sufficient economy, generation of material wealth should rely more on environmentally healthy, self-sufficient communities in which basic human needs are met through Iocal natural production methods.

Olivier Languepin

Published

on

Decades before Sustainable Development became the buzzword of UN agencies, Thailand had already experienced it with the Sufficiency Economics theory, perhaps the most everlasting legacy of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

(more…)

Continue Reading

Most Read

Upcoming Events

Jan 23

12th World Congress on Alzheimers Disease & Dementia

January 23, 2020 @ 9:00 am - January 24, 2020 @ 5:00 pm BMT
Feb 12

Future Energy Asia

February 12, 2020 - February 14, 2020
BITEC
Bangkok
Feb 19

13th World Congress on Nursing and Health Care

February 19, 2020 @ 9:00 am - February 20, 2020 @ 5:00 pm BMT
Phuket
Phuket city
Mar 11

Food science conferences

March 11, 2020 @ 8:00 am - March 12, 2020 @ 5:00 pm BMT
Mar 11

Food science conferences

March 11, 2020 @ 9:00 am - March 12, 2020 @ 5:00 pm BMT

Press Release

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 11,937 other subscribers

Trending