It seems that even the most astute American commentators and analysts are somewhat overwhelmed in their attitude towards the American policy of provoking China and a possible anti-China international alliance while working on many visible levels. to demonstrate overwhelming power through NATO.
The position of liberals appears to be that such a policy violates common sense, particularly because it is dangerously rhetorical and perhaps short-lived given the current alarming state of the US economy. This is well represented in a recent article by Joseph Stiglitz.
Some of this is of course very true but trivial, as the US economy has been a dismal, if not major, component of the global system since 2008, and perhaps since the early 1970s. Certainly, from 2014 to 2019 the rate The global economy’s annual growth rate was 3.4%, but the US economy grew at 2.4%. The American business model is moribund at best. It is the only major capitalist economy whose main trading partners are its immediate neighbours, Canada and Mexico.
Going back to Stiglitz, if the US economy were indeed stable, growing, and fostering increased prosperity for the vast majority of its 330 million people, then the current aggressiveness would not arise so easily. Indeed, it could divide the nation and overthrow presidents.
The failure of productivity growth at the heart of the real economy, combined with the enormous orientation of capital and property towards speculative investments in land, property and resources, has led to the gigantism of financial flows closely associated with tragically low real economic growth and rising incomes and resources. poor distribution of wealth. But here we are concerned about the immediate global political impact of this, which is the development of the now entrenched policy of universal political distraction – in which civil society is hijacked and directed into the populist, nationalist and very immediate arena and emotion of foreign policy. .
Where the latter might have been more traditionally the result of professional diplomacy focused on long-term issues of power and international status, it is now increasingly in the hands of opportunistic political leaders and their advisers, who seize every favorable chance to obtain the measure of the modern “politician” by drawing everyone’s attention to the problems caused by recalcitrant foreigners. The latter no longer need to be carefully delineated as ideological, territorial or commercial antagonists.
Given the state of emergency in the economy, enmity for economic reasons (obviously China, previously Japan) might even be forgiven. But that is not the argument. In contrast, to say the rhetoric against Japan in the 1980s and 1990s, centered on trade and investment, current anti-Oriental movements are much more incomplete. It’s that a cloudy blur is all the more effective in disguising what is happening. American civil society is being diverted from the central issues of internal socio-economic disarray and directed toward a focus on the problems caused by “others”. In this respect, the war in Ukraine is a welcome addition to the world position.
Of course, the US is not alone – particularly foreign-attacked nations like the UK and France share the same smaller-scale domestic problems – long years of low productivity growth fostering failures in real manufacturing, agriculture and basic services and infrastructure, while increasing the enormous prosperity of a small number of main capitalist actors whose power lies not in shrewd innovation but in its opposite – in the shelter provided by very complex financial instruments. The result is a communal capitalist failure of low productivity, growth and welfare. Thus, the euro zone’s GDP per year only increased by 1.9% between 2014 and 2019, and its overall position in the world index of economic freedom fell to 69.2 against that of Japan at 74, 1. Not so long ago, Western Europeans contrasted Japan’s strong economic growth with its low levels of social choice and political freedom.
If we have good reason to believe that change is needed, then some recognition of the very simple process we are currently living in deserves more attention. Historically, in most capitalist countries, foreign policy is supposed to be the result of international games and strategies. Today we see a foreign policy forming on domestic issues, not to deal with them, but to divert attention from them. Of course, rational international strategies have often been upset by real threats arising outside of this reasoning, normally within regimes where rational considerations have been overwhelmed by emotional certainties, often along borders that simply elude at all control. But this is not the current global situation as a whole.
The big capitalist nations cause problems on many levels, but world opinion is generally under their control. There is no conspiracy. This seems to be a mechanism of this phase of global democratic capitalism, whose rulers are completely timid by all but the most turgid political possibilities within their global political economies. The case of the United States is simply the most obvious and important – its military capability alone is staggering in any comparative context; its natural resource base remains incredibly rich and bountiful. It also has the power to influence the course of action of many other countries, including those in NATO, but in no way limited by any formal organization.
We could add a note of improvement. Compared to many democratic capitalist countries, American governments, regardless of political persuasion, face intransigent institutional problems in crafting any set of radical socio-economic policies. Very rarely has a White House had a dominant majority in the US Congress, so any significant legislation can be stalled at various interstices. Seemingly progressive regimes, perhaps bold enough to go beyond the neoliberal consensus, like those of Clinton and Obama (and even Tony Blair in Britain, Lionel Jospin in France, or Felipe González in Spain) , have repeatedly turned their backs on any new deal packages for basic reform have failed to develop alternative economic growth or social welfare policies that could have grounded lasting progressive changes for society civil.
This is not just a story of absolutely corrupting absolute power. It is a matter of choice in highly constrained political regimes. Where a combination of central political institutions and vaunted constitutional regulations continues to allow power to buy into oil and agricultural interests, defense contractors and the military and financial oligopolies, then decisive innovation in the beyond the box, whether in politics or economics, becomes paralyzed.
As long as distraction is cheaper than reform, it will remain favored among the ruling elites of populist democracy. Where the distraction towards the “other stranger” is established, it will surely become more and more difficult to move it. When future presidential contests and other elections are based on who looks the toughest warrior, then “checks and balances” will go from a boring arena of distraction to being obsolete.
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