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Can the Centre Hold? And Which Centre, Besides?


The world is far from ablaze. But the forces of incoherence, incomprehension and inanity are fast gathering…



in general and the conflict in and over Kashmir in particular, offering some prescriptions for exit. Lastly, the GB team, in toto, analyzes the state and possible futures of international and global institutions and governance – including some of the imaginative prescriptions coming out of the Institute for 21st Century Questions (now celebrating five years). In Nez à Nez, GB interviews Alex Himelfarb, former Clerk of the Privy Council and top bureaucrat to three Canadian prime ministers, on the pressures and opportunities for Canada and Canadian society brought about by climate change. GB then sits down with Kanti Bajpai of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy to understand the possible futures of India and Indian strategy in the context of a Modi 2.0 government. In Query, Mara Karlin and John E. McLaughlin, both of SAIS at Johns Hopkins University and the latter the former Acting Director of the CIA, reflect on what exactly to call this particular era in international strategy in general and American foreign policy in particular. In Nez à Nez, GB Associate Editor Michael Barutciski and the University of Marburg’s Wolfgang Krieger debate the relationship between today’s mass migration movements and political populism in open societies in Europe, the Americas and Oceania. In Definition, Sam Sasan Shoamanesh, Murat Yesiltas of the SETA Foundation in Ankara, Saeed Khatibzadeh of the Institute for International and Political Studies in Tehran, Ross Harrison of Georgetown University, Andrey Kortunov of the Russian International Affairs Council, Benedikt Franke of the Munich Security Conference, and the National University of Singapore’s Kishore Mahbubani and Yanan Tan make their cases on the future look and choreography of regional security in West Asia. In Strategic Futures, GB asks for advice for the new Ukrainian president, Vladimir Zelensky, from Yuriy Romanenko of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future, Eduard Afonin of the National Academy of Public Administration in Kyiv, and also Irvin Studin. In Situ comes to us from Oslo, Norway via Marc Lanteigne of the University of Tromso. GB is in the Cabinet Room of Belize this time round, listening in on top-secret deliberations on Central American migration, the Trump administration and the Mueller Report. And from the GB archives, Canadian novelist Douglas Glover returns to close this special book in Epigram. Here’s to the next decade – we promise it won’t be boring. Enjoy your Brief. | GB

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appy 10th anniversary to and from GB! The GB team has worked hard to bring you this special number. How we have grown over the past decade. GB’s readership is today patently global, on all continents. Headquarters is still Toronto, but GB seeks to analyze, move and reframe debates, at the highest possible levels, across the sectors, in a very large number of countries, in many languages and across myriad cultures and mentalities. We celebrate this anniversary with a spectacular new website and an historical national mini-conference on the future of the Arctic, held this past July in Toronto, in partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories. If Asia is the future, then the Arctic space – just as big – is the next future. GB is interested heavily in both. Now, back to the intellectual matter at hand. Can we – the world, individual countries and societies – keep it together? Is the nucleus (the core) sufficiently robust to survive bombardment or the fierce centrifugal pulls on its constitution? Can the nucleus – or nuclei – be renewed, buttressed or consolidated? If so, how? Through new institutions? Ideologies? Talent? Or will the nucleus at long last yield its innards, releasing destabilizing, often wicked energies into the human condition of this early new century? Will this payload be delivered gradually, through the erosion of a thousand cuts of strategic, political, policy (and moral) negligence and incompetence, or will the explosion be abrupt and cataclysmic? Michael Byers of the University of British Columbia fronts this 10th anniversary issue in the One Pager, meditating on the future of state space activity and regulation and the likelihood of international cooperation. In the lead Feature, GB Editor-in-Chief Irvin Studin deliberates the ‘American Question’ – to wit, the prospects, all things considered, for American survival (and the quality of this survival) this century. Frédéric Charillon of the Université Cermont Auvergne asks whether Europe can at last begin to ‘think for itself’ – in strategic terms – in the face of Washington’s pressures and caprices. Irvin Studin then insists that, in the Canadian context, there are five key moves to give Canada the psychological and material wherewithal to ‘think for itself,’ consistent with the country’s own realities and imperatives. Ramesh Thakur of the Australian National University deconstructs the India-Pakistan relationship


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REFLECTIONS ON THE AMERICAN QUESTION Will America survive this century? What has it still to teach the world, and what must it learn to learn? BY IRVIN STUDIN


L’EUROPE FACE À TRUMP Au carrefour des inquiétudes et de la prise de conscience des alliés des États-Unis BY FRÉDÉRIC CHARILLON


MEDITATIONS ON MODI 2.0, PAKISTAN & THE KASHMIR QUESTION Can a second-term Modi government, with new red lines, find a new dialogue with Islamabad? BY RAMESH THAKUR




CANADA MUST THINK FOR ITSELF Amid all the noise, does it even see the problem? What’s to be done to escape the shackles of ‘aw shucks’ nationalism? BY IRVIN STUDIN

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century’s institutions look like? What still works? What’s to be invented? BY THE GB TEAM


Analyser. Former. Diffuser.

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4 observatoires 30 chercheurs en résidence Un réseau international de 100 chercheurs associés Une expertise bilingue


Space is Hard The great challenges in space may well help to contribute to international cooperation on Earth too BY MICHAEL BYERS


catalogued by the US military’s Space Surveillance Network, which shares information on potential collisions, providing time for an endangered satellite to move to a safer orbit using on-board thrusters. Preventing runaway space debris also requires that satellites be de-orbited at the end of their operational lives. Although international guidelines already exist to include this capability in new satellites, they must still be made binding through national laws, since control over satellite design is exercised at the licensing stage. Plans for asteroid mining are being driven by commercial interest in the rare earth elements and water within these ancient bodies – some of which pass near Earth while orbiting the sun. One challenge concerns the legality of commercial extraction, with some states asserting that this would violate the Outer Space Treaty’s prohibition on the ‘national appropriation’ of celestial bodies, and others holding that asteroid mining is more akin to fishing on the high seas. Mining an asteroid could destroy scientific evidence of the origins of the solar system, create debris streams that strike man-made satellites, or alter the asteroid’s trajectory and steer it toward an Earth impact. All of these challenges will need to be addressed by new international rules – rules that could be modelled on the deep seabed mining regime in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Finally, the no-longer fanciful prospect of Mars settlement raises human rights issues. Will settlers have rights vis-à-vis their mother country or company? Will children born in a commercial settlement have rights vis-à-vis the company? Will settlers have rights to self-determination? There are historical precedents here, though not all of them support an interplanetary system of human rights. SpaceX might become a modern variant of the Dutch East India Company, governing another planet with a charter issued by the US. Space is hard. But this is precisely why continued international cooperation is likely. No state can carry the risks and expenses of space activities alone. After US President Trump redirected NASA’s plans from Mars to the moon, one of the first things that the US space agency did was to sign a cooperation agreement with its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, for a new space station in lunar orbit. In these circumstances, one could even imagine that the challenges of space may help to ensure continued cooperation on Earth also. | GB

Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia. He is the co-director of the Outer Space Institute.

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pace has become a busy place due to reusable rockets and miniaturized technologies. From agriculture to banking and transportation, space plays a major role in our lives. And as space becomes busier, new rules will be needed. The early decades of human involvement in space saw much international law-making as the USSR and the US negotiated the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, the 1967 Rescue Agreement, the 1972 Space Liability Convention and the 1974 Registration Convention. Since then, however, no major space treaties have been widely accepted, leaving new challenges like space debris and asteroid mining unaddressed by clear rules. New rules can be negotiated. Humanity has a history of cooperation in space, beginning with the early treaties, continuing with the 1975 Soyuz-Apollo mission, and today the International Space Station. Moreover, technology is improving humanity’s common understanding of – and from – space: NASA’s new ICESat-2 can measure the annual elevation change of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to within five millimetres. Space debris is the legacy of more than 5,000 rocket launches. There are now over 500,000 pieces of debris larger than a marble in Earth’s orbit. Some are dysfunctional satellites; others are discarded rocket stages. Most are the result of collisions between such objects at relative speeds of up to 56,000 kilometres per hour. In 2007, China tested its ability to destroy satellites by targeting a derelict satellite with a ground-based missile. It was the worst debris-generating event on record, leading to a 20 percent increase in orbital objects larger than a marble, and a 37 percent increase in the expected rate of collisions. Indeed, the ‘Kessler syndrome’ posits that, given a certain debris density in orbit, debris-debris and debris-satellite collisions will lead to a continuously rising collision rate. Space debris thus threatens the global economy (which is increasingly reliant on satellites), as well as humanity’s long-term access to space. Space debris can be addressed through cooperation and technological innovation. Since 2007, all space-faring states, with the recent exception of India, have refrained from testing anti-satellite weapons in ways that could create long-lasting debris. This state practice, facilitated by advances in cyberwarfare, could crystallize into a rule of customary international law. Tens of thousands of pieces of debris have been



European Troubles and Norway’s Three-Point Game


Russia, the Arctic, Brexit and Europe’s larger pressures are beginning to stress the Scandinavian nation’s serenity MARC LANTEIGNE reports from Oslo

N Marc Lanteigne is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of

orway today has the dubious honour of being, at least for now, a centre of reasonable calm at the intersection of three of the world’s major debates involving Europe: the Russian question, the rapid opening up of the Arctic, and the political trauma within the EU itself, of which Norway is not a formal part. Each of these debates has the potential to greatly influence Norwegian politics and global relations – not least by challenging the long-held perception of Oslo being ‘above the fray’ in respect of greater European affairs.

Tromso, The Arctic

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University of Norway.


The Russian Question The current Norwegian relationship with Russia suggests two essential narratives – one driven by northern Norway, and the other by southern Norway. The ‘southern’ (central government) narrative focusses on Norway’s ongoing role within NATO and concerns about potential Russian military expansionism in the Arctic and North Atlantic. Even before the Crimean annexation and the start of the Donbass conflict in 2014, there were signs that Oslo was beginning to take a more pragmatic approach to Russian relations, given Russia’s growing military and political strength and the cooling of relations between Moscow and several Western capitals – including Washington. More recently, increased NATO visibility in the Arctic and North Atlantic has only served to further irritate the Kremlin, with Norway caught squarely in the middle. The agreement by Oslo in mid-2018 to host larger numbers of US Marines – potentially as many as 700 in 2019 – factored into further Russian criticism to the effect that Norway was becoming a proxy actor for American strategic interests in Northern Europe. Moreover, in September and October of that same year, Norway hosted one of the largest NATO military manoeuvres – Trident Junction – ever held since the creation of the alliance. That exercise also included extensive participation by two non-NATO states, Finland and Sweden – in the event, right at Russia’s northwestern frontier. To be sure, the Norwegian government of Erna Solberg has been careful not to define Moscow explicitly as a regional threat. Her comments at the International Arctic Forum in St. Petersburg last April made plain her view that Russia was in fact not a threat to Norwegian interests. Having said this, in a

broader sense, Norway’s relations with NATO are affected, on the one hand, by indications of growing Russian military activity and activism in the Nordic Arctic region, and on the other by the tenuous relationship between the Trump administration and NATO members in Europe (see the Feature article by Frédéric Charillon at p. 26). As for the ‘northern narrative,’ Moscow is indeed perceived differently as between Oslo and the Norwegian counties closest to the Russian border (Finnmark, Nordland and Troms, which make up the country’s Nord-Norge region). Part of this perception can be attributed to lingering appreciation of the actions of the Soviet Union in liberating Finnmark, Norway’s northernmost region, from Nazi Germany in WW2. Indeed, despite the current state of RussianNorwegian relations, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has been invited to the border town of Kirkenes to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the start of the Red Army’s campaign to push German forces out of Finnmark in October 1944. And, of course, there is also the socioeconomic closeness of the Norwegian and Russian communities along the border within the Barents Sea sub-region, which includes the northern regions of Finland and Norway, as well as Russia’s northwestern Kola Peninsula and areas around the cities of Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. Still, all has not been completely quiet on the Norwegian-Russian border – as underlined by recent incidents, including accusations by Oslo that Russia interfered with GPS systems in northern Norway during the 2018 NATO simulations, and a mock attack last February by Russian Sukhoi-24 jets on Norwegian radar installations in Vardo.

The Arctic Question Separating concerns about Russia from greater Arctic affairs has been difficult for Norway, and for any Western government for that matter, given Russia’s historic strengths in the region. As the Arctic becomes a key new-century theatre for economic activities – including in shipping and the extractive industries – Norway is trying to catch up with fast-moving dynamics in the circumpolar north. In its most recent Arctic policy paper, published in 2017, Oslo stressed the importance of international cooperation – not least in economic affairs – in the region. It also noted the impending challenge posed by the growing number of non-


There will certainly be opportunities for Oslo to act very deliberately and purposefully as a voice of restraint, reason and pragmatism on a continent where the political and ideological centre is increasingly being crowded out.

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Arctic actors seeking to develop a greater presence in the far north. At the top of this list is, to be sure, China, which has over the past decade advanced a series of economic and scientific strategies designed to better integrate itself into Arctic affairs, despite having no territory anywhere near the Arctic Ocean itself. Oslo’s relations with Beijing are still recovering from a difficult six-year diplomatic freeze over the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to the Chinese writer and activist Liu Xiaobo. The Arctic remained one of the few areas where any high-level dialogue between the two governments could still take place. Now, with full diplomatic relations restored, Arctic affairs remain a major facet of Sino-Norwegian relations – in some cases an area of contention, as Norwegian Prime Minister demonstrated by recent bilateral as well as the country’s sovereign wealth Erna Solberg poses with differences in respect of the kinds fund (currently valued at nine trillion krochildren dressed in traditional of research that Chinese and ner, or US$1.05 trillion), being based on Sami costumes at Oslo City other foreign players should be offshore oil drilling – including in Arctic Hall, in Oslo, February 2019. permitted to undertake in the Norwaters – the Norwegian government apwegian Arctic islands of Svalbard. pears poised to significantly scale back China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has also now fossil fuel extraction in the Arctic. The country’s begun to enter the Arctic theatre, with energy partlargest opposition party, Labour, recently called for nerships having been signed with Russia, increased a halt to any and all plans for oil exploration around Chinese interest in Arctic shipping, and warmer the Lofoten archipelago, despite it containing an Chinese economic relations with Iceland and Finland estimated one to three billion barrels of untapped (although Sino-Canadian relations are at an hisoil. In March of this year, it was announced that the toric low). Norway must soon decide how closely it sovereign wealth fund would itself be divesting from wishes to align itself vis-à-vis the BRI push, espenumerous oil and gas firms. The fund subsequently cially as more of its European neighbours – including committed to increasing investment in renewable recent joiners like Italy and Switzerland – sign on. energy concerns as part of a concerted push toward Norway is also being viewed as a potential transit green policies. Grosso modo, despite ongoing specupoint for future Arctic shipping along the Northern lation about potential races for Arctic fossil fuels as Sea Route, which stretches from the Russian Far East the theatre continues to warm and the sea-ice and through to Europe and the North American frontier. permafrost melt, Norway appears set to move in a Indeed, Norway is facing ongoing questions about different direction, which would significantly affect the development of service and transportation inthe shape of its economy and its relations with frastructure – including rail links and expanded port other Arctic states. facilities in its northern regions. This is all happenBrexit and the Larger European Question ing just as Oslo is seeking to establish and brand the Within Europe itself, Norway, like almost all other country as a knowledge base for Arctic research, as governments, is watching the Brexit process in evidenced by the annual Arctic Frontiers conference London with considerable trepidation as the UK in Tromso. That conference, along with its younger continues to stumble along with no clear outcome and brasher sibling, Reykjavík’s Arctic Circle forum, and with the possibility of a ‘no-deal’ scenario – represent two of the most important ‘track 2’ conferunder a new prime minister and a pro-Brexit Britences bringing together regional specialists from ish alignment in the European Parliament – that academic, media, policy and scientific circles to may result in that country leaving the EU with no discuss and debate current Arctic issues. blueprint for European economic relations. Multiple Finally, despite much of the Norwegian economy,


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options have been floated over the past year as to how Britain could successfully withdraw and still retain certain benefits from its erstwhile membership – including a so-called ‘Norway option’ that more or less mirrors Oslo’s distinct relations with the EU. Although not an EU member, Norway does have membership in the European Economic Area (EEA), and is very much part of the EU’s Schengen area, which allows for freedom of movement between member states. Norway is also, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which gives it access to the European Single Market. However, the hypothetical Norway model involves considerable national fiscal alignment with EU rules without proper representation in the Union, and current British views on immigration would appear to preclude an open border policy similar to that of Norway. Although there have been suggestions that the UK could rejoin the EFTA (which the UK originally left in 1973 to instead become a member of the then-European Economic Community), some Norwegian policy-makers have been decidedly cool to the idea, with one Conservative Party member, Heidi Nordby Lunde, bluntly commenting in December of last year that the EFTA should not be Britain’s ‘rebound partner.’ Anticipating the strong possibility of a no-deal Brexit, Oslo agreed to sign a revised trade agreement with the UK in March of this year – an agreement that included sections on natural gas and seafood. Still, should the UK leave the EU in 2019, under whatever format, Norway will need to readjust its European policies to account for a new country outside of the immediate EU system. Each of these three present-day European challenges – Russia, the Arctic, and the EU face-à-face with Brexit and a polarized politics – has clearly placed Norway in a difficult position. Together, they suggest some potentially wicked strategic winds around the bend for Oslo. At the same time, there will – to be sure – be opportunities for Oslo to act very deliberately and purposefully as a voice of restraint, reason and pragmatism on a continent where the political and ideological centre is increasingly being crowded out. The Finnmark liberation anniversary may allow for at least a low-level dialogue between Oslo and Moscow, just as Norway balances engagement with the Kremlin against ongoing coordination with NATO and other multilateral fora to discourage the further militarization of the Arctic. The new Icelandic chairmanship of the Arctic Council may also supply Oslo with openings for regional policy coordination in the context of this fine balance. Looking further south, Oslo’s long history of being ‘next to the EU, but not within it’ will continue to provide the UK, despite its growing internal political disarray, with moderate reference points, if not a specific model for EU engagement, as London seeks to engage the EFTA more directly – and assuming that the Brexit process is not somehow reversed. Of course, Oslo’s planners cannot rule out such a reversal either. | GB

GLOBAL BRIEF celebrates ten years – with a 10th anniversary issue and a spectacular new website at Sincere thanks to GB’s readers, in English and French, across Canada and around the world. Enjoy your Brief !

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Climate, Justice and a New Canadian Project


GB sits down with the chief adviser to three new-century Canadian prime ministers to discuss the country’s major domestic pressures, the national toolkit and the expansion of public ambition Conversation with ALEX HIMELFARB GB: As we approach the next federal election,

how would you characterize the state of Canadian politics? AH: I have been far more focussed on public policy

GB: Why is Canadian politics today so focussed

on the micro? AH: The political choice seems to be between those who think that things are fairly good as they are – even if those things need some tinkering – versus those who think that we ought actually to dismantle government or at least reduce its footprint, ‘drain the swamp’ or ‘end the gravy train,’ or whatever

Alex Himelfarb was Clerk of the Privy Council and Cabinet Secretary to three Canadian prime ministers between 2002 and 2006.

GB: What are the two biggest policy challenges

for Canada for the next 10 to 20 years? AH: We have seen the reports that give the world a

very finite number of years – by some estimates, as few as a dozen or so years – to turn things around on climate change if we are to avoid catastrophic consequences. We have also seen reports on the state of the planet – specifically in respect of the accelerating rate of species and nature loss. Given the extreme weather events, and given the already visible consequences of nature loss and climate change, these are not some abstractions of the future. This is with us now.

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than on retail politics. One thing that we can say with confidence, however, is that increasing numbers of Canadians seem turned off by party politics. The choices on offer have seemed quite narrow. It is interesting, for instance, to see what happened in Ontario and Alberta, where a significant minority of voters apparently voted for lower taxes, less government and a return to austerity when just a few years ago it seemed as if most were making the opposite choice. We seem to lurch back and forth between governments more focussed on partially undoing what the previous government did than on the big, often tough decisions about our future. In a sense, the federal election too seems to be shaping up to be about taxes, but in this case carbon taxes. It certainly looks as if it is being framed as a choice between the environment and the economy, with the carbon tax as a proxy for that choice. But is the carbon tax – which, as designed, will be neither the economic destroyer that its critics claim nor, however valuable, the environmental panacea that its defenders claim – really a good stand-in for the big-ticket questions, or the very big choices that Canadians really need to confront? What a waste it would be if the entire election came down to carbon tax when the issues are so much larger. We in Canada, like elsewhere, face the related challenges of climate change, nature loss and extreme inequality. Those issues are, in my view, inseparable. Environmental justice and social justice will have to move hand in hand. It would be nice if that were what our elections were about.

language they use. The battle seems to be between complacency and tinkering, on the one hand, and resentment and dismantling on the other. Canadians of my generation – in particular – have had it pretty good. We grew up in a time of more active government, and our work lives were shaped by a period of remarkable growth and opportunity. Many of us are in good shape today to manage change and help our own children. I can only imagine how irritating it must be to the many young people who face a far more precarious world, featuring governments more interested in cutting than improving services, when many in my own generation keep insisting that things are just fine the way they are, or that just a little tinkering is all that is required – or, worse still, when they are promised big change that never comes. The flip side of this complacency is the growing distrust of government, and the large numbers of people at the bottom of the income scale who believe that the game is rigged, and that there is not much that anyone can do about it. It was not so long ago that John Meisel described Canada as a public enterprise society, that political scientists thought that what distinguished Canada and Canadians was our belief in peace, order and good government. Comedians poked fun at our politeness and deference to authority. This is not so much the case today. Research from EKOS, the Edelman Trust Barometer and other sources has documented the decline in social and political trust here in Canada, as in many other advanced countries.


In the case of the gilets jaunes movement in France, that dispute is in part about who pays for the transition to a greener, low-carbon economy. Inequality has made central the question of who pays for this.

It is tempting for Canadians – or at least Canadian leaders – to argue that we are only a small part of the total global emissions problem. We are an oilproducing country with a northern climate, so let us go slow or otherwise be careful not to upset too many apple carts. But surely that is at the heart of the collective action dilemma – where each of us, in pursuing his or her self-interest, fails to address shared interests. So we continue to pursue short-term profits and seek to avoid short-term cost, even when we will all end up carrying a much heavier price. To this, we must add the reality that we Canadians are, on a per-capita basis, heavy emitters, and that Canada is feeling the consequences of the warming of the planet more than many other countries. Of course, wealthy countries like Canada are in a much better position to withstand or adapt to these changes. Indeed, we can already see some people identifying how they can profit from this. No doubt, there will be ‘winners’ – but talking about winners is highly problematic when the likely human costs, especially on those least able to manage them, and to the world order more generally, will be so great. Let me add that we in Canada have the extraordinary advantage of playing host to a disproportionate share of the planet’s wilderness and fresh water. The country is surrounded by three oceans. With all of that, surely, comes particular responsibility. At the same time, inequality is growing and extreme inequality, as the historian Tony Judt has said, is corrosive to democracy and to the political and social trust that is essential to collective action. In Canada, we often compare ourselves to the US, and therefore can lull ourselves into self-satisfaction about economic inequality. But in Canada, too, the gap between the very top and the rest has grown to an arguably unsustainable extent. This, of course, has to do with the costs to our humanity and our economy of poverty – one need only look at homelessness in Canada. But it is not just that. It is also about power and solidarity. GB: Can you elaborate on the connection you sug-

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gest between the climate challenge and inequality in Canada?


AH: In every democracy, there is a tension in respect

of who decides the future – that is, the many or a powerful few. It is no surprise that money talks, but with the growing concentration of wealth at the very top, money talks louder than ever. With extreme inequality, social solidarity is eroded. Sociologists have long understood that when the rungs of the ladder are too far apart, it becomes harder to find common purpose. And it evidently becomes harder to climb up the ladder. The Swedish researcher Bo Rothstein has done

pioneering, cross-cultural work on the relationship between inequality and social trust. Simply put, the greater the inequality, the less we trust one another and our governments. This, in turn, means lower participation in politics, less willingness to invest in the future, as well as a range of social pathologies that Rothstein documents. It is hard not to conclude that the rise of nativist and authoritarian parties and collective decisions like Brexit are not at least in part a consequence of this constellation of inequality and distrust. And as I have mentioned, Canada is not immune in this respect. We have also experienced a precipitous decline in trust. Here, too, the middle has been squeezed. Median incomes have been relatively stagnant, while top incomes – not to mention the costs of housing and tuition – have grown exponentially. Household debt keeps breaking records. Indeed, many Canadian households could not survive more than a week or two if they were to lose their income. Consider also the many young Canadians who graduate with record levels of debt, only to enter a labour market of precarious work with few benefits or prospects. Some have suggested ‘the precariat’ as the name of a new class. While Canada has made important progress on poverty – and especially recently on child poverty – the country continues to lag behind other rich countries in Europe. We need only look at the number of indigenous communities that do not have safe drinking water, or the continuing fight for equal treatment of indigenous children, or the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in our jails and prisons. That Aboriginal people are the fastest growing population in the country ought to lend some overdue urgency to the cause of turning this around. Government and business elites in fora like Davos seem increasingly to be worrying out loud that capitalism is coming under threat due to growing inequality and persistent poverty. They acknowledge that something needs to be done, but their so-called solutions come with the presumption that addressing this inequality must not in any way jeopardize their privilege and power. Their answer, more often than not, is more philanthropy. But a focus on charitable giving does not constrain their power. Indeed, it amplifies it as it provides them with maximum flexibility in how much, where, and under what conditions to give or withdraw their money. As the young Dutch historian, Rutger Bregman, put it at the last Davos conference, what we need is not more philanthropy, but more taxes. Of course, charitable giving is to be commended. But whatever its considerable merits, more philanthropy is not the solution to our systemic challenges. What is needed – including in Canada – is a tax system that can serve as the foundation for an

expanded universal services – including national childcare and a right to housing – and strengthened mechanisms of redistribution. A green new deal also understands that people who work in high-emitting industries are not the problem. Their concerns are legitimate and entirely understandable. And they must, in the end, be part of the solution. A just transition, partnerships with unions, and engagement of those most directly affected are therefore crucial. The bottom line is that the ambition of these new approaches is at long last commensurate with the challenges at hand. The ambition of the proposed investments is crucial if we are to reconcile environmental, economic and social objectives and create the jobs of the future. This kind of mission-driven public investment is exactly what the Italian-American economist Mariana Mazzucato has been arguing for as essential to innovation and economic performance. And the ‘green new deal’ kind of thinking sees opportunity – not just cost. What is also interesting is how many commentators criticize such major proposals for not having all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. However, if one looks back on the language of FDR’s New Deal in America, or the Beveridge Report in the UK, or Canada’s own Marsh Papers, all were presented as general blueprints – that is, great national experiments to mobilize collective energy and resources. The leaders understood that they did not have all of the answers. They knew what they wanted to achieve. They knew why it was important. They knew some of the central elements. That was true when the Americans took on the space race, and that was true when we in Canada took on the national challenge of balancing the books in the 1990s. How is it that we could find the will to do difficult things in the name of so-called fiscal health but cannot find the political will to do what is needed for human health and the health of the planet? These leaders took on these big challenges but did not have all the answers. What they did have was a sense of urgency and a willingness to learn. As such, what is really important now is to change the conversation, clarify the objectives, and take some bold actions that launch us on the transformation needed. GB: What are these end objectives of this trans-

formation? AH: The end objectives are decarbonization – that

is, deeply reducing greenhouse gas emissions – reversing the decline in nature, and building a more sustainable, just society. The science is clear, as is the urgency. (continued) For the rest of the conversation with Alex Himelfarb,

Nowhere is the intersection of competing issues and interests more evident than in the Arctic and the North: climate and the environment, energy and the economy, social justice and Aboriginal rights and culture, and, of course, sovereignty and security.

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economy that benefits the many. Climate change and inequality are – to be sure – inseparable issues. For one thing, if one looks at emissions from a consumption perspective, the highest proportion of emissions is unsurprisingly produced by the very rich. However, the consequences fall most heavily on the poorest. Now, in the case of the gilets jaunes movement in France, that dispute is in part about who pays for the transition to a greener, low-carbon economy. Inequality has made central the question of who pays for this. Of course, asking those people who have benefitted least and been served least well in recent decades to sacrifice the most is not typically going to go over very well in most societies. So how does one ensure that the necessary investments are made, and that the pricing of carbon and how a society pays for the massive investments needed are progressive and seen to be fair in the face of growing inequality? Lastly, climate change and inequality are related because one could argue that, while the need to address climate change and nature loss constitutes an unprecedented and truly global challenge, the collective toolkit has been weakened. We see this internationally in the weakness of our multilateral institutions. We see this domestically as well. For Canada and many other rich countries, the general willingness to pay taxes is very low, as are social and political trust. And yet those are evidently the things that must be in place if we are going to make big change. I find it very exciting that there are people in Canada, the US, the UK and Europe thinking about things like a ‘Green New Deal’ for a more sustainable and just future. Evidently, there is more than one possible green new deal – that is, more than one version. Each country must develop its own approach. Debates about just what are the right targets or target dates continue. And many of the programmatic ideas are just that – ideas rather than designed policies or fully costed programmes. Much work remains to be done, and is in fact being done. But what is key about these new approaches is that they begin with a much-needed sense of urgency. They understand the stakes, scale and scope of this global challenge, and that the time to act is short. That means that the starting point must be what the science tells us is necessary, rather than what the politics tells us is possible. The various versions of a new deal all recognize that no country can successfully address climate change if it does not simultaneously address economic inequality and insecurity. On this logic, essential to any green new deal will be modern and effective labour market policies and support for collective bargaining to rebalance power in the workplace and reflect how work is changing,

please visit the GB website:


Will America survive this century? How can it channel its most brilliant qualities and suppress its worst pathologies? What has it still to teach the world, and what must it learn to learn? Irvin Studin is


Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Global Brief.



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merica is not a country.


It is a civilization – without a doubt, the greatest of the great civilizations of the last two centuries. I write this tract, humbly, not as an American proper, but as an outsider sitting at the edge of American civilization. I write as an admirer and beneficiary of American civilization – the son of Jackson-Vanik Jews from the Soviet Union, who has prospered (thus far) in upper North America on the original strength of American political energy, imagination, magnanimity and moxie. And I write in the full certainty that while this American civilization will endure for the balance of this new century (energy does not, after all, die; it merely changes forms), it is by now fully legitimate to wonder whether America the country – the USA – will do the same. And if so, what kind and quality of American country will this be? Modern states last, on my calculation, about 60 years, after which they collapse or transform unrecognizably due to constitutional collapse and/or war. (The USSR, America’s great adversary in the last century, once fancied interminable and indestructible, lasted only 69 years.) If the American Civil War of the mid-19th century was the last major manifestation of American constitutional collapse, the American state that rose from the ashes of that calamity has, in more than a century and a

half, with the small exception of the cross-border violence overflowing from the Mexican Revolution, known virtually no proper warfare on its continental territory. (Pearl Harbor was, evidently, very far from continental North America. I discuss 9/11 below.) This brings us quickly to the matter of America’s famous exceptionalism. Show me a nation – almost any nation on Earth – that does not fancy itself more or less exceptional or distinct, and I shall show you a non-nation. Tout court. The Chinese fancy themselves unique. So too with the Russians, the Jews, the Persians, the French and the Québécois of Canada. So what is the material differentiating fact of American exceptionalism (or the American belief in American exceptionalism)? Partial answer: the exceptional longevity of the modern American state, among all the states and political experiments or pilot projects that have come and gone, along with the country’s longstanding general exemption from war on the homeland. Let us recall that, over the last century, almost every other country, on every continent – Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, and even Australia and Oceania – has endured and been transformed, painfully, by some description of brutal and sustained warfare on its territory. American exceptionalism today is therefore not only a political-constitutional self-identity (the inspired narrative construction of quasi-geniuses like Washington, Madison and Jefferson), but also a brute fact of international afILLUSTRATION: CHRIS BUZELLI

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fairs and strategic history. In other words, American exceptionalism concerns not only the self-professed, ‘felt’ uniqueness of the American ‘idea,’ American institutions, American values and clear American success among the nations (to some extent, a ‘domestic’ or ‘internal’ question), but also, to be sure, America’s exceptional good fortune in having been essentially insulated, on the home front, from the world’s great catastrophes of armed conflict, even as this same America partook in – and sometimes, for good or ill, even initiated – such armed conflict. Of this good fortune, we can safely say that the relevant dimension of analysis is not domestic, constitutional or intra-American, but fundamentally international and strategic. (The 9/11 attacks, the national shock they generated, and the ‘biblical’ American response they precipitated, domestically and internationally, were the powerful non-state exception to the still apposite rule of American immunity – for now – from invasion and strategic tragedy on the home front.) Let us take each of the domestic and international faces of the question at hand in turn.

America’s Domestic Proposition and Prospects

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erhaps the major internal paradox facing America today, in this early new century, is the fact that such a famously open society (a melting pot of the world, as it were) has become so intellectually closed. What is the nature of this national intellectual non-porousness? Answer: It consists in an abiding American incuriosity about the world and America’s comparative circumstances within it – even as America’s now acute internal political and social recriminations run rampant. Bref, the regular political and social experimentation that was at the very heart of America’s revolutionary project over the last two and a half centuries, built on an essential, competitive reengineering and reimagining of foreign practices – in government, in commerce, in jurisprudence, in the universities, in literature, in the arts, in sport and in matters of national strategy – has today found itself displaced increasingly by rigid dogma underpinned by resolute,

earnest belief in the dogma. And even as America’s political tribes argue – ferociously, sometimes violently – among themselves over the details of that dogma, the American argument is today strictly domestic in interest, vocabulary and membership. On politics, policy, strategy, religion and on all other questions of what is ‘right,’ the larger carapace of American dogma remains oblivious to – and highly underpenetrated by – the fast-changing outside. Americans today would be surprised to learn that, among the Russians, the Chinese and the Americans themselves – the civilizational extensions, roughly, of the three great powers of our time – it is the Americans who are, by far, the most ideological. It is the Americans who really believe their stuff, as it were – increasingly, with little humour, humility or feel for irony. The Russians today, for their part, believe in almost nothing. (Nay, if anything, the Russians often believe that the Americans are, all achievements considered, to be admired. If pressed, they would likely confess that they themselves wish to send their kids to Harvard and Yale, to live in Miami or Austin, and to work for Google.) Of course, I simplify to make the point, but only just. For Russia is, less than three decades out from the collapse of the USSR, a very young country still. The Russian national ideology, as with America in its earliest years of independence, is still being divined, moulded and legitimated. And like its leadership, the Russian political ideology – far more than the Russian mentality, perhaps – is eminently tactical and flexible, rather than strategic and consolidated. In this flexible, ‘anomic’ post-Soviet ideology, the Russians maintain a reasonable sense of humour – not as rich, to be sure, as the Ukrainian sense of humour, but still alive to the tragicomedy of Russia’s precarious circumstances and uncertain fate, even in the coming few years. And armed with this flexible, still ill-formed ideology (tinged with the cynicism of lost belief from having seen a huge state and ideology collapse with great rapidity), today’s Russians have difficulty believing or taking seriously the possibility that the Americans could, even amid their fierce domestic disagreements, ever be so sincere, certain or pious in their beliefs – or, in other words, so unrelenting in their profession to ideological certainty and purity. And yet, this is indeed so. The Americans really believe. They are real believers. The Chinese, while also admiring of Americans and America, are similarly incredulous of American ideological fixity. Contrary to Western thinking (and perhaps even Chinese realization), the Chinese today inhabit a young state – older than that of the Russians, but significantly younger than the US. And while China’s national ideology is considerably ‘thicker’ than that of post-Soviet Russia – the youngest of the three great powers – the country has, since the late 1970s and the Deng period, adopted a con-

of government. And it is, as Churchill once noted, “the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” This appreciation of democracy is, of course, a stark departure from the strange present-day hagiography of democracy in the organization of men, as depicted in the contemporary American popular and official imagination; democracy as quasi-religion, as it were. A cyber-attack by a foreign power on America during an election is seen not as a foreign strategic play – the analogue to America’s regular strategic interventions abroad – but instead as an ‘attack on American democracy’; an assault acquiring quasi-biblical character, as it were. Not only, on this logic, was America’s exceptional exemption from foreign assault breached, even if in the cyber realm, but so too was the religion of democracy – efficacious or not – molested. A national hysteria in respect of Russia and Trump-Russia ensued and persists, but with no visible curiosity about Russia itself or indeed anything of consequence outside of the immediate American hysteria. But if the religion has not yielded the results of

Show me a nation that does not fancy itself more or less exceptional or distinct, and I shall show you a non-nation. The Chinese fancy themselves unique. So too with the Russians, the Jews, the Persians, the French and the Québécois of Canada. the gods, even if temporarily, then it must surely be the very notion of God that gets in the way of fixing the religion. In other words, it cannot be a puritan reaffirmation of democracy’s unique inviolability that overcomes the plain need to look at the comparative strengths (or at least problem-solving approaches) of other performing systems in the world – nondemocratic and democratic alike – in order to address the weaknesses of American democracy in particular, and of the modern democratic order in general. On this logic, I once asked a senior American dean of law how modern America, given its ills, planned – or planned to plan. He answered, glibly, “We don’t plan. Planning sounds very Soviet.” I answered that planning was human. All successful societies and organizations plan – if only to be able to do anything of consequence beyond tomorrow: build a school system, organize a cultural event, construct an airport or bridge, make a society sustainably safe, build an army or, yes, even a border wall. In the event, the dean’s response betrayed the victory of dogma over reflection, even within America’s most reflective

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spicuously and sincerely pragmatic character. Bref, the Chinese certainly still fancy themselves ancient and exceptional as Chinese, but they are merchants and deal-makers par excellence, which militates against purity and purism, and requires constant curiosity and learning about the circumstances of their opposite numbers around the world. And so the Chinese, for all the manifest pathologies of their current system, are always learning, everywhere and from everyone. Woe betide, then, the true believers – the thick ideologues – for they do not learn very well. They are not open to learning. And regardless of the zeal of their belief (and America finds itself, surely, in a period of zealous belief – zealous macro-belief, as it were, among the zealots of America’s internal political camps), they will soon fall behind, or otherwise be left behind – perhaps without even realizing so before it is too late. It is all the more problematic for the prospects of America that the constriction in American learning – as a society – should coincide with a manifest drop in the ‘performance’ of leading democracies in North America and Europe in delivering the ‘good life’ in institutional terms. The political radicalization of the two senior Anglo-American and indeed Western democracies – the US and the UK – as well as the weariness of the leading Continental European democracies in the face of populist challenges and practical failures on border security and mass migration, social cohesion, public safety, infrastructure, economic growth and employment, and the basic institutional connection between decision-makers and citizens, would all seem to commend serious pivots of posture toward greater national introspection and inquiry into the sources of their systemic weakness. The correct response of a properly curious, porous society to these near-existential domestic problems (after all, can a government or system be deemed legitimate over the long run if it cannot solve basic problems of state and society?) should consist in both brutal self-examination and, to be sure, systematic external searches for best practices in addressing these problems. The unthinking society, by contrast, retreats to dogma, bombast and bark – at the margin, morality plays in which it – in the event, America – invariably plays the good guy on the ‘right side of history.’ (Show me, again, a nation that fancies itself on the wrong side of history, and I will show you a non-nation – or least a defeated one.) And this, alas, is where we find the essential American response to the country’s significant troubles of governance – both in process and outcomes. The answer to the troubles of modern American democracy cannot be unreflective insistence on ‘more democracy.’ What if, as I note below, democracy, for all its virtues, has nothing to do with the problem at all? After all, democracy is but a system


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classes. And this is a problem. The revolutionary transformation of America’s media landscape, social and other media oblige, from the professional and institutional to the self-starting, increasingly amateur and self-promoting media class of the present day has only served to amplify the dogma and deepen the confusion about the fundamental systemic and intellectual weaknesses in American society, politics and policy – not to mention the major strategic mistakes and exposure I discuss in the second part of this meditation. The mass, algorithmic weaponization and amplification of idiocy (nay, degeneracy) on Twitter and Facebook, multiplied by the serial, often sociopathic provocations of a president who tweets mostly to arouse and infuriate rather than to inform, teach and inspire, is today declaratively defended in America as democracy at work. And yet the growing perversion of the feedback loops to power that have historically been the great advantage of the democratic over the non-democratic world is seen very clearly only by the


non-democratic world – a non-democratic world that is itself, paradoxically, constantly in search of such feedback loops (but not mass idiocy). Philosophical or official resistance to the anarchical free-for-all of this information space is glibly dismissed as necessarily autocratic – or, worse still, on the American understanding, fundamentally undemocratic. Said Victor Hugo, who himself, had he a Twitter account in his time, would have been debased, humiliated and ‘called out’ on any given day, on any given pretext, by the rabid caprices of the Twitterati who today masquerade as democratic warriors: «Souvent la foule trahit le people». (The mobs, even freedom-loving, can betray the people.) Daily gun massacres and regular mass shootings of children and young students in schools, colleges and universities across America over the last two decades – once unthinkable in the most advanced of Western societies – are today greeted with near shoulder-shrug by American political authorities. In any other reasonable and thinking society – regardless (I repeat) of political system – this pathology (nay, psychopathy) would be tackled with the greatest

possible seriousness. In other words, the capital mistake of system and society – the slaughter of children while they learn, in the classroom – would be corrected with maximum urgency and accountability. If it should, God forbid, happen once – they would say – let it never happen again. Period. And heads would roll. Not in today’s America. The massacres continue and intensify, in all corners of the country, with no national interest or credibility in correction. The perversion of the outcome – dead children and students in schools and universities – is earnestly defended by a good portion of the population, and by some intellectual elites, as the unfortunate consequence (an ancillary cost) of a fundamental democratic liberty (or democratic culture), namely the second amendment in respect of gun rights. (You want to live in our democracy? Then you will have to swallow the anxiety of sending your children to school, where they daily have to worry about being mowed down by bullets.) Of course, this curious conception of liberty only makes the outside observer crave a slightly less untrammelled version, if only to protect his or her children – as is done, again, in nearly all other developed (and most underdeveloped) societies on Earth. The victory of dogma over reflection, and bark over introspection and self-correction is at its most perverse after the gun violence. The mass hysteria of the social media mob ‘reflecting’ American public opinion, armed with the fixity of its second amendment-cum-democratic liberty slogans, goes to town not only on those in America who would seek to remedy the manifestly mad, but even against the grieving father or mother, whose dignity in tears is ridiculed (even vilified) without mercy by the largely anonymous, sadistic hordes of online commentators placing themselves at the centre of a dystopian morality play in which each ensconces him or herself as protagonist. The tears of the mourning parents are but an instrument – at worst, a prop – in the self-dialogue of the American protagonist (always, of course, on the side of the angels). And yet it is what I would call ‘the argument from parenting’ that is perhaps the best philosophical, moral and optical answer to the current American mania of gun massacres unaddressed by a mad hagiography of liberty – to wit, that the juxtaposition between the massive labour of love, time and money involved in raising a child (American or other) and the instantaneous swiftness with which he or she is allowed to die in a random gun attack in today’s US is a gross affront to the institutions of family, parenting and childhood, all of which are treated as holy in every civilized society in the world (and in America, no less, before the modern era of banalized massacres). At the American border with Mexico, the very legitimate national prerogative to protect and police

national borders and border flows – even fiercely – has been vitiated, grotesquely, by the theatrical sadism of separating families, often irreparably, and holding children in locked spaces for prolonged periods of time. There is, at the time of this writing, no obvious and serious American political interest in remedying this national obscenity, the character of which would easily be ascribed by American moralists to less democratic and therefore presumptively inferior political traditions. Finally, there is the extremely apposite matter of the American president. I will not repeat some of the points made in my Open Letter to President Trump in the pages of GB two years ago. But, policy decisions and performance aside, the spectacle of a democratically elected American president whose daily behaviour contravenes so expressively every reasonable appreciation of political honesty, honour and class can only beg the question: What can America teach other societies today about proper governance? How can other countries and societies trust American leaders and American judgement when the country is headed by a commander-in-chief so craven in his deception? Which society, in any part of the world, would want its leaders to behave in such a manner? Answer: in truth, no society. Zero. For there is not a single leader in the world, democratic or not, who behaves like this today. And this means that very few societies and political systems will be pivoting to America – in earnest, with baited breath – for the foreseeable future. Now, while this state of affairs does not foretell any necessary near-term collapse of the American political order, it certainly betrays the growing secular deterioration of the quality of this order. Collapse, of course, can happen fairly quickly, but American survival as a country in the absence of major correctives of leadership, policy and culture will be just that – survival as fact, but not as paragon or example, even if the people continue to believe.

American Foreign Interests, Mistakes and Responsibilities

In any other reasonable and thinking society this pathology would be tackled with the greatest possible seriousness. The capital mistake of system and society – the slaughter of children while they learn – would be corrected with maximum urgency and accountability. guts, in all its colours and flaws – is on display in today’s America. Nay, the lion’s share of the Russia discourse is self-referential – a dialogue of hysterical intensity strictly among Americans about a country about which they know very little, and in which they are, sincerely, even less interested. A comparable but slightly less hysterical situation exists in respect of China – the newest target of American strategic speculation – to say nothing of Iran, North Korea and, before these, Iraq, Libya and Syria (to which I now turn). Retrospective analysis of the catastrophic, American-led bombardment of Libya also commands little curiosity. And yet the deliberate decapitation of that country’s leadership through the killing of Muammar Gaddafi was patently unforgivable in both the strategic and moral realms of things. American analysis to this day appears to wonder aloud – sincerely – how anyone could possibly defend a person like Gaddafi in power. But this superficiality of calculus speaks to the entire edifice of American power today – capricious intervention by force covered by moral marketing (with America manifestly on the side of the angels

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et me be clear, for the historical record. With some important exceptions, America’s international analysts today fail to impress. America still has, by far, some of the world’s best, most highly resourced and energetic universities, think tanks and publication platforms – on domestic and international issues alike. However, the mediocre standard of American analytics and frameworks in respect of key parts of the world not only lays the groundwork for future American mistakes of strategy (and explains past incompetence), but indeed conforms with the same deep-seated incuriosity, non-porousness and ideological fixity that have eroded the credibility of America’s domestic discourse.

On Russia, the apparent preoccupation – nay, obsession – of the American political class and media with that country since at least 2014 (the Ukrainian revolution and the Crimean annexation) and particularly after 2016 (the Russian intervention in the presidential election) would suggest some abiding American expertise on that huge country – in my view, the most complex in the world, and far more complex than America – and the post-Soviet space more generally. In the absence of deep expertise, one would think that America should be studying Russia, the Russian language and culture, and the very idiosyncratic dynamics of the post-Soviet space in some great depth and, yes, with curiosity – commensurate with the scale of the apparent assault on American democracy, and consistent with the sophistication of the target country. And yet American official, academic and media expertise on the subject remains exceedingly poor – paralyzed, to some extent, by morality plays and dated frameworks. Little curiosity on Russia per se – as it is, in the


and ‘standing with the people’ in the target country), net systemic destruction and destabilization, followed by a press for renewed use of force supported by a next-round moral sell. When pressed, invoke the liberal international order, in which apparently no other country or political tradition participated. The death of Gaddafi led to the wholesale disintegration of Libya. From the outside, on the available evidence, it is not apparent that anyone in the American strategic apparatus (and definitely not in the political class) had anticipated or given serious weight to the prospect that, beyond the optics of killing a ‘bad guy,’ the crumbling of the Libyan government and state – the cork at the tip of Africa, as it were – would lead directly to the flooding of Europe by Middle Eastern and African migrants. By extension, no one in America today remembers or otherwise appears to care much about this sequence of historical events, and with it the genesis of some of America’s own anti-refugee radicalization under the leadership of the current president. This demographic flooding of Europe continues not

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What remains is that America is still a term-setting country on the global stage. This means that every American action continues to enjoy the essential capacity to mould the theatre of action in some consequential way.


only to kill tens of thousands of people yearly in the Mediterranean Sea, but also to strain significantly the relationships among the leading countries of the EU. And it has led, critically, to Brexit and the radicalization of the other great English-speaking democracy across the pond. As things stand, then, any future major American military incision into the Middle East – for instance, in Iran – could well lead to such massive refugee flows into Europe as to tear asunder the entire EU. Given that the EU is, by a long shot, the most important post-WW2 liberal international institution of them all, this would be a paradoxical historical contribution indeed. The illegal American invasion of Iraq at the turn of this century led directly to the extreme counterrevolution of ISIS. The morality play created to fight that brutal force, having little already to do with the original moral marketing mobilized to remove Saddam Hussein, was completely oblivious to the central American role in its very provenance. When ISIS bumped up against Al-Assad in Syria, the overlap of two necessary morality plays for two unsavoury

international actors only served to totalize the incoherence of America’s Middle Eastern interventions. Under President Trump, this total incoherence, now extrapolated to most of the world’s theatres, has assumed a grotesque, absurd character – one almost too painful to describe for someone raised on a diet of American strategic literature that saw American foreign policy and American preferences at the heart of international strategic life. What remains, however, is that America is still a term-setting country on the global stage. This means, on the one hand, that every American action – wise or less wise – on the world stage continues to enjoy the essential capacity to mould the theatre of action in some consequential way, or to influence the effective rules or logic of the game, as it were. American power may no longer be a sufficient condition for shaping many theatres – if it ever really was – but it remains necessary to the resolution (or, in the event of folly, further destabilization) of key problem areas internationally. This term-setting American capacity is, first and foremost, a question of American mentality. Americans believe, with few complexes, that American action not only shapes reality – perhaps irresistibly – but indeed is reality itself. This is a formidable conviction of the national mind – one that, in competitive terms, can only leave in the American dust nations and peoples less bold or more circumspect. It is also supported, to be sure, by the still-remarkable American private-sector machinery comprising huge companies with global (extra-territorial) networks, massive and intricate webs of explicit and implicit support from venture capital and government, and a persistent, mythologized national respect for innovation, risk-taking and competition (and the very idea of competition). Can America as a whole play this term-setting role appropriately and responsibly in the coming decades? That much is unclear. The US president – not just the current president, but indeed any US president of tomorrow or yesteryear, regardless of intellect and education – is by far the inferior of his or her counterparts in Russia and China in understanding the world and its moving parts. This is a plain fact. For each of the Russian and Chinese presidents governs a country with 14 land borders and multiple maritime borders – that is, each must be expert or regularly briefed (and therefore eventually expert) on the circumstances, cultures (mentalities) and interests of a good portion of the world immediately at his country’s edges. The American president, even if armed with an Ivy League education, has little need of intimate knowledge of virtually any complex foreign country. He or she will typically need to have a basic apprehension of America’s border relationships with Canada and Mexico, but ‘felt’ understanding of most other

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Apprenez-en davantage sur les changements positifs dans les pays en développement des personnes mêmes qui rendent ces changements possibles Organisme canadien, le Centre de recherches pour le développement international appuie des chercheurs de pays en développement qui s’emploient à trouver des solutions novatrices et durables à des problèmes locaux. Pour en savoir plus sur les retombées de leurs travaux novateurs, téléchargez nos cyberlivres ou lisez-les en ligne, et ce, gratuitement. Nous vous proposons plus de 300 titres. /cyberlivres

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foreign countries will be either discretionary or episodic – far from existential or essential. Presidential curiosity can only remedy the imbalance of ken so much; but presidential and system-wide incuriosity will assure that, in a crisis or under great pressure, America’s comparative performance will be poor. Bref, the marriage of residual American term-setting capability with a new-century American society that is less and less curious about – and competent in analyzing – the world around it makes for a strange brew in the context of diminishing American power and some wicked newcentury threats and dynamics right at America’s gates. Can America survive? Can it cope? For now, the American president – this one or all future ones – operates, internationally, just shy of the dyadic intersection of nuclear war (which the current president has threatened to initiate on several occasions) and a Nobel Prize (which even the current president could still win, and which speaks to the vast term-setting capability of American power and daring). Domestically, he sits at the apex of a colossal society that, while having mobilized huge forces of creativity and industry over the course of its distinguished history, could equally unleash a terrible energy of destruction and chaos, should it ever unwind, across all territories touched by American civilization. We can be certain that, with China – geographically far closer to the US and continental North America than Washington or New York might imagine – returning to the strategic centrality and confidence it enjoyed before the Opium Wars that preceded the American Civil War in the 19th century, with the melting of the Arctic bringing Russia immediately to the borders of North America, and with today’s and tomorrow’s military and industrial technology making the US eminently ‘reachable’ – even by smaller powers, in the context of conventional warfare, asymmetric warfare and warfare by other means – there will be conflict on American soil in a foreseeable future. Will America be clever enough to anticipate, avert or otherwise thwart (emerge victorious from) such conflict? That much, again, is not obvious at the time of this writing. The incurious bombast of present-day Americana does not bode well. Much will depend on whether the US is able to improve hugely its analytics and – as part of its capabilities – its strategic and political judgement. And if it does not, then America’s reaction, pre-emptive or retaliatory, to any surprising violation of its unique exemption from the world’s most terrible conflicts will be exceedingly ferocious – several orders of magnitude greater than the response to the discrete attacks of 2001. Who knows what the world would look like the day after such a series of exchanges? What would America itself look like, if it were to survive at all? A curious possible end to the most brilliant and productive of modern countries would not be so shocking in the historical scheme of things… Of course, it could well be largely avoidable, in this same historical scheme of things…, if only this same country could bring itself to ask the right questions. Or to ask questions at all. | GB


How to Name This Era in US Foreign Policy?


Even the most fact-based, thoughtful US administration will appear improvisational and inconsistent without an organizing ‘label’ for the times and America’s overall strategy BY MARA KARLIN & JOHN E. McLAUGHLIN

Mara Karlin teaches at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development in the administration of President Barack Obama. John E. McLaughlin served as Deputy Director of the CIA under both Presidents Clinton

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and George W. Bush.



hat’s in a name?” Juliet asks Romeo, dismissively, in a Shakespeare dialogue. Yet in foreign affairs, and in American foreign policy specifically, names can be very useful. They can capture the essence of an era, be a label for a strategy, or describe how to think about victory, defeat and legacy. And while names can be misconstrued, the ones that are used can convey to society, the military, allies, partners and adversaries what is being experienced collectively – and why. Now, some 18 years after the 9/11 attacks, it is timely to consider whether it is yet possible to name this particular era – a period characterized, from the American perspective, by highly unusual threats and brimming with uncertainty. Preserve the Union, Safe for Democracy, Defeat the Nazis, Contain the Soviets – these catchphrases helped to define the present and past of the US as it secured its territory, expanded its global influence, battled adversaries, and became a superpower. But as the US has barrelled through two of the key inflection points of the post-WW2 era – the fall of the USSR and the 9/11 attacks – no consensus phrase or concept has emerged to convey to all of the aforementioned audiences a sense of where the country finds itself and where it is heading. Should this be a cause for worry among American strategists? Our conclusion, after trying various monikers is: not yet. This era, however historians ultimately label it, is simply too complex and still too fluid to capture in a single bumper sticker or soundbite. But assessing just why this is so can tell us a great deal about where the US finds itself in geopolitical terms – and about what awaits. One reason for which labels elude us is that the era’s salient characteristics do not fit together neatly. Consider that, from an American perspective, the two most obvious trends of recent decades are, first, the rise or resurgence of major powers seeking to displace or diminish US influence; and, second, American engagement in near-continuous war largely on the territory of minor powers and against adversaries lacking conventional power. Let us look at these one at a time.

Trend One: Tough and Growing Competition from Rising Powers After ww2, the US faced a world in disarray – one that arguably had much in common with today’s world. However, back then, America had the relative luxury of facing only one serious competitor on the global stage: the Soviet Union. Although the USSR posed an existential threat, American policy-makers could give it laser-like focus and nearly always made it the prism through which Washington interpreted and subsequently responded to most other foreign developments. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, it bequeathed another kind of luxury to the US – the freedom to act on the global stage for a limited period with no peer competitor. In this period – often called ‘the unipolar moment’ – the US had the freedom to move (often unilaterally) nearly unimpeded in whichever direction it chose, pulling along its allies in the process. US leadership produced some important outcomes for Western democracies and for the idea of a broader, although circumscribed rules-based (liberal international) order – to wit, the Balkan settlements, the unification of Germany and NATO enlargement. Evidently, some of these efforts also went awry – most notably in Iraq and the considerable destabilizing consequences stemming from that war. But the US ‘model’ suffered serious setbacks throughout the post-9/11 era. Washington’s outsized focus on fighting terrorists made it easier for countries like China and Russia to challenge security norms in Asia and Europe, respectively. The 2008 financial meltdown undermined global confidence in the American-led international economic system. And those trends have continued apace – accompanied, most recently, by severe strains in US alliances and international agreements as the current president has pushed ahead with his ‘America First’ agenda. This era is therefore shaping up to be one of greater competition among great, near-great and aspiring powers as China’s well-documented rise has accelerated, and Russia’s contrarian challenge to existing global order has seized centre stage. It is an era that has some characteristics from earlier times,

such as the 1920s and 1930s. However, it is different in at least one crucial respect: in those periods, the US did not have to worry about preserving its singular leadership position, given the clout – and privileges – that it acquired only after 1945.

Trend Two: The Never-Ending Story (of War)


clear how the Trump administration will deal with all of this, but Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria and to cut sharply the US troop commitment in Afghanistan suggests that his catch phrase for the era may simply be ‘We’re Done.’ In toto, the last 18 years represent effectively the longest conflict in the history of the US. The costs are not yet known. One recent study pegged the figure at US$2.8 trillion, while another asserted $5.6 trillion. And the conflict shows no sign of letting up.

Romeo, Doff Thy Name As hard as this era is to label, a few characteristics do stand out. The international security environment is increasingly characterized by experimentation, digitalization, populism and controversy about what comprises ‘global order’ and who sets its rules (see the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of GB). It may not be the most dangerous time that the US has experienced, but it may be the most complex. It certainly bears some resemblance to earlier periods, and yet it takes place amid global trends in domains like ur-

US Central Command Commander General Joseph Votel testifying before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, February 2019.

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Near the mid-point between the Soviet collapse and the international financial crisis – at a moment when the US could have been constructing a balanced policy toward the post-Soviet world – America had to deal with an emergency, the 9/11 attacks, that before long would lead the country into seemingly endless war. The US has now been at war nearly as long as it takes to reach adulthood. This war has spanned the globe and shaped conflict in the first two decades of the 21st century more than virtually any other action or set of actions by any other state. This ‘war’ shows no sign of letting up, and yet, as with the broader geopolitical environment that surrounds it, it still enjoys no agreed name. In other words, we still do not know the name of this war, or these wars – much less the name of the era in which this war or these wars are occurring. Indeed, this absence of a name may be the clearest manifestation of national confusion in respect of the period – a confusion that compromises the ability of leading US decision-makers to think about and prepare for competition. Unlike previous wars – the Civil War, WW1, WW2 or even the Cold War – this war has no easily visualized ending or telos that lends itself to articulation in a phrase or name. To be sure, the debate over how to talk about this conflict began immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Within days, President George W. Bush declared a ‘War on Terror,’ which quickly turned into the ‘Global War on Terrorism’ or GWOT. Two months after 9/11, the British military historian Michael Howard said that this should not even be called ‘war’ but rather an ‘emergency’ – one best approached as an international ‘police operation.’ American military historian Eliot Cohen vehemently disagreed, declaring it “World War IV.” Some names early on focussed on specific conflicts like ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ or ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ – the military terms for combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively. In subsequent years, various other names popped up, increasingly subscribing to a dark perspective on the conflicts. In 2004, General John Abizaid, who commanded all US military forces in the Middle East and South Asia, coined the term ‘long war,’ which President Bush would go on to adopt in his 2006 State of the Union address. The New York Times journalist Dexter Filkins popularized the term ‘The Forever War’ with his book of the same title. The Obama administration shifted its approach, and in 2009, American budget bureaucrats began

using the term ‘overseas contingency operations’ to refer to the ongoing conflicts – perhaps the most sterile description of conflict to date. President Obama criticized the GWOT for being ‘boundless,’ while his administration increasingly referred to ‘countering violent extremists’ as the catchphrase du jour. Meanwhile, the Trump administration, focussed on a still-evolving ‘America First’ agenda, has largely ignored the issue. Indeed, the names applied to these conflicts have become less precise as the objectives and conceivable endpoints of the wars have gradually become blurred. It is not yet


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From an American perspective, the two most obvious trends are, first, the rise or resurgence of major powers seeking to displace US influence; and, second, American engagement in nearcontinuous war largely on the territory of minor powers.


banization and technology diffusion that exceed in magnitude, speed and consequence those that the world has experienced in earlier times. Of course, the temptation will be to fall back on older, familiar conceptions like balance of power or multipolarity. And these may well be wise starting points, but we deceive ourselves if we conclude that these constructs are in any way sufficient in both explanatory and advisory power. Among the many uncertainties shaping this era, there are four that, were they to crystallize, might in combination yield a name or overarching theme now missing. First, greater clarity could result if the US were to come to an unambiguous conclusion about the degree of threat or competition posed by China, and whether this can ever be outweighed by some kind of modus vivendi or even partnership. A snapshot of US specialist opinion today would probably show a growing but uneven consensus to the effect that China is committed to threatening American global preeminence. If the evidence hardens that consensus over time, a great deal of ambiguity would disappear in respect of the nature of this era. Meanwhile, Russia’s trajectory is having an outsized effect on the global and American security environment. However, in the American view, there is little doubt about the behavioural vector privileged by Moscow, given its moves in Europe, the Middle East and in the 2016 US presidential election. Second, it is still not clear whether the threat to America, American interests and American allies from terrorism is dwindling or merely in remission. Can this terrorism roar back at some point in an evolved form? At present, most specialists say that ISIS in particular has been dealt a mighty blow, even if many caution that the group, now largely denuded of its territorial ‘caliphate,’ is still intact organizationally, while Al Qaeda is quietly rebuilding off-camera, screened in part by the chaos in the Middle East – especially in Syria and Yemen. It seems a safe bet, then, that terrorists will for the foreseeable future still require a measure of American attention well above what they received before 9/11. Bref, it is too soon to relax when it comes to the threat that they pose to American interests and the lives of American citizens. Third, confusion plagues the cyber realm – the newest and least understood domain of contemporary conflict. There is widespread recognition of its import and inevitability, but we have still not experienced an event that, as 9/11 did with terrorism, pulls a huge number of players and forces into alignment on how to deal with it. US policy is still poorly coordinated among the many agencies with cyber expertise and capabilities. Moreover, the security and intelligence community stills lacks clarity on elemental conflict dimensions such as deterrence and escalation. There is also scant progress on forging

anything like the kind of international understandings that were developed on nuclear weapons over decades during the Cold War (see the One Pager by Michael Byers at p. 5). Finally, unresolved questions about the future priorities, policies and direction of the US hang over all of this. Particularly during the Trump administration, the US has left the impression that it is pulling back from its traditional leadership role and alliances in favour of bilateral accords or going it alone. Some of Trump’s advisers have tried to reassure allies and strike postures consistent with traditional US commitments and style. But the foreign audience notes the disconnect with the President’s pronouncements and is left trying to infer in them a reliable logic. And for the first time since the Watergate scandal of 1974, the duration of the current administration, even after the release of the Mueller Report, remains open to speculation as it fends off multiple investigations and talk of possible presidential impeachment. To be sure, a number of other issues preoccupy and worry Americans examining the national security landscape. These include North Korea’s increasingly capable nuclear weapons; the faltering international arms control and proliferation regimes; India and Pakistan’s cold and potentially fleeting détente (see the Feature article by Ramesh Thakur at p. 36, and the Tête à Tête interview with Kanti Bajpai at p. 32); Iranian support for a variety of clients across the Middle East; the fragility and unrealized potential of many African states; and, among others, the destabilizing violence in Latin America, most prominently in Venezuela. It is difficult to imagine any of these looking brighter absent US leadership or sustained and capable international cooperation. It was common to call the last century the American century. Can anyone confidently move that label forward into this new century? Until there is greater certainty on the matter, policy under even the most fact-based, cohesive and thoughtful US administration seems bound to appear improvisational and often inconsistent as it is forced frequently to adjust goals, priorities and responses. Bref, preserving America’s position and advancing its interests will require extraordinary agility and a recognition that the past may have only limited lessons to teach, that America lives in times as revolutionary as those confronting its forebears who stabilized the world after WW2, and that the national approach to this turbulent era must be similarly innovative and bold. In the fractured world introduced by the 9/11 attacks, then, we dare not look at the global landscape through binoculars when in fact it requires kaleidoscopic lenses to clearly grasp the dangers – and opportunities – for America in this new era with no name. | GB


(21CQ) is a vision and strategy tank that, in association with Global Brief magazine, aims to analyze and help provide reallife solutions to – and ambitiously participate in problem-solving for – some of the major geopolitical, political and social questions of this new century.


Headquartered in Toronto but partnering, in a variety of languages, with leading public/government, private and social enterprise organizations and formations around the world, 21CQ seeks to navigate the entire value chain of activities from the ‘thinking’ to the ‘doing’ on all of its target Questions.







L’EUROPE FACE À TRUMP DÉGÂTS ET OPPORTUNITÉS Frédéric Charillon est professeur des Universités

Au carrefour des inquiétudes et de la prise de conscience des alliés des États-Unis

à l’Université Clermont Auvergne et coordonnateur des Questions Internationales à l’ENA.


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u bien les Européens décident d’améliorer leur efficacité stratégique, deviennent des acteurs engagés de leur propre destin, y compris sur le plan militaire, et nous verrions alors naître une «Europe plus» – une Europe qui cesserait d’agacer outre-Atlantique par sa pusillanimité et trouverait grâce davantage aux yeux des décideurs et des analystes états-uniens, sans Trump ou même avec lui. Ou bien les Européens sortiront de l’histoire.


Y a-t-il alors, derrière cette attitude trumpienne, une folie négatrice de la réalité du système international actuel? Ou plutôt un néo-reaganisme en plus iconoclaste, mais avec le même mot d’ordre subliminal: «America is back»? Doit-on lire dans la cacophonie diplomatique américaine actuelle un isolationnisme véritable, qui pourrait conduire à un retrait américain tant redouté depuis 1945 – à savoir une remise en cause de la Grande Stratégie américaine en vigueur depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale, qui consiste à privilégier la capacité d’engagement militaire d’une part, le soutien à une gouvernance libérale du monde d’autre part, et la pratique du multilatéralisme enfin? Ou bien s’agit-il en réalité d’un néo-nationalisme ne mettant pas en cause le leadership américain, mais plus exigeant envers ses alliés comme pouvait l’être celui de Reagan, mâtiné d’un style volontiers grossier déjà présent sous Nixon, mais qui restait à l’époque méconnu car non relayé par les réseaux sociaux? La réponse à ces questions est d’importance car elle déterminera l’attitude que les Européens devront opposer à leur allié américain. L’Europe doit naturellement éviter d’abord le chaos pour elle-même, en

ces temps de Brexit, de populisme et de divisions multiples. Les récentes élections européennes ayant montré précisément que les partis nationalistes d’une part et les partis libéraux d’autre part (possiblement alliés aux écologistes), comptaient parmi les forces montantes, appelées à s’affronter dans les prochains mois. Si cette confusion persistait, nous aurions affaire à une Europe-chaos peu intéressante pour Washington, quelle que soit l’administration au pouvoir. Mais le temps n’est plus à décoder les intentions de la Maison-Blanche, mais à mesurer les résultats de ses choix. Le premier de ces résultats est indéniablement la double inquiétude des alliés des États-Unis vis-à-vis de la garantie de sécurité américaine d’une part, et du comportement de Donald Trump dans des régions à risque d’autre part (voir l’article Query de Mara Karlin et John E. McLaughlin à la page 22). Néanmoins – et c’est le second point, paradoxal – cette diplomatie américaine brutale, au moins à court terme, génère parfois des évolutions positives, voire des opportunités ou des ouvertures pour l’Europe. Au final, les Européens doivent retrouver les chemins de la réflexion stratégique afin de bien

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appréhender la nature de ce trumpisme dont rien ne dit qu’il s’arrêtera en 2020, et pour forger en retour, enfin, une vision stratégique pertinente.

Les dégâts: des alliés inquiets La présidence de Donald Trump a déjà fait mal à l’Europe – d’abord en ravivant la flamme de l’antiaméricanisme dans les démocraties libérales, de la France jusqu’à l’Allemagne. Plus généralement, les enquêtes d’opinion, comme celles du Pew Research Center, montrent une forte érosion de la confiance en l’Amérique parmi les alliés de celles-ci. En quelques semaines, l’image des États-Unis dans les opinions, qui s’était nettement améliorée sous Barack Obama par rapport aux années néoconservatrices de George W. Bush, s’est à nouveau dégradée. Le président américain a donné l’impression qu’il pouvait devenir l’ennemi – ce qui, dans l’histoire européenne, est hautement ironique compte tenu de l’engagement américain auprès des Alliés dans les deux guerres mondiales, du rôle des États-Unis dans la reconstruction de cette même Europe après 1945, et de sa protection par l’OTAN dans la Guerre froide.

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Au final, les Européens doivent retrouver les chemins de la réflexion stratégique afin de bien appréhender la nature de ce trumpisme dont rien ne dit qu’il s’arrêtera en 2020, et pour forger en retour, enfin, une vision stratégique pertinente.


Mais le style Trump a heurté, d’abord par l’image qu’il a donnée lors de la campagne électorale, et ensuite dans ses premières déclarations. Sa propension à l’insulte (vis-à-vis des femmes, des étrangers et, entre autres, d’un journaliste handicapé), si elle était faite pour conforter un certain électorat américain, a inquiété la vieille culture sociale-démocrate européenne. Et sa délectation à incarner la caricature d’une Amérique que certains aiment détester – à partir d’une image de milliardaire grossier, inculte et misogyne, soutenant la possession d’armes à feu et flirtant avec la suprématie blanche – a rendu la tâche difficile à tous ceux qui défendent la relation avec Washington. Ensuite, Trump a touché aux garanties de sécurité américaines. En refusant de souscrire explicitement à l’article 5 du traité de l’OTAN, il a provoqué un sentiment de panique. Au malaise initial sur

l’article 5 se sont ajoutées des critiques adressées aux alliés, et même des immixtions dans leurs affaires (soutenant le Brexit au Royaume-Uni, ou estimant que Boris Johnson ferait «un très bon Premier ministre»). Sa vulgarité envers Angela Merkel (refusant publiquement de lui serrer la main en mars 2017) et ses passes d’armes avec Emmanuel Macron tranchent avec le fait qu’il paraît s’entendre, du moins personnellement, avec Vladimir Poutine. Ce dernier point tout particulièrement inquiète, aussi bien de par l’éventuel rapprochement qu’il implique avec la Russie (contre laquelle les États-Unis sont censés protéger) que pour la déstabilisation de l’exécutif à Washington. L’enquête et le rapport Mueller sur les possibles collusions russes de l’actuel président (dont les conclusions font l’objet d’interprétations variées), la nature exacte de sa relation économique, politique et personnelle avec Moscou, le nombre étonnant de décisions «trumpiennes» qui paraissent aller dans le sens des intérêts russes (surtout la fragilisation de l’OTAN, l’encouragement à un Brexit dur et le détricotage de l’Union européenne), constituent un ensemble de plus problématiques. Trump joue-t-il la carte de Moscou contre Pékin, comme Nixon avait fait l’inverse jadis? Est-il plus simplement fasciné par la personne de Poutine? Est-il tenu à une complaisance vis-à-vis du Kremlin du fait de quelques dossiers compromettants? Quelle que soit la réponse, la question elle-même est inédite à ce niveau du pouvoir américain. Le sentiment que le locataire de la MaisonBlanche a plus d’appétence pour quelques émules ou partenaires autocratiques que pour ses alliés de longue date, qu’il est plus prompt à défendre le prince héritier saoudien à la suite de l’affaire Khashoggi qu’à soutenir les démocrates européens, qu’il est davantage intéressé par Kim Jong-un que par une discussion de fond sur l’OTAN, sont autant d’éléments d’ambiance. En envisageant l’adhésion du Brésil à l’alliance atlantique (au printemps 2019), il confirme à la fois son amateurisme politique, son mépris des affaires européennes, et son goût pour l’autoritarisme – de quoi inquiéter le Vieux continent. En jugeant l’alliance «obsolète», il fait peser le spectre d’un retrait américain, qui serait fatal à l’organisation et à la sécurité de l’Europe. Plus encore, et même si le président n’est pas censé s’en occuper lui-même, le soutien apporté par son entourage ou ses ex-coéquipiers aux partis et mouvements nationalistes en Europe pose question. La visite européenne de son ancien conseiller Steve Bannon, à la veille des élections de mai 2019, montre que l’intention existe d’y fédérer les

mouvements populistes à travers sa fondation «Le mouvement». Il y a, de toute évidence, une volonté trumpienne de susciter la progression et la victoire d’un courant «dur» dans une Europe jugée trop molle. Contre qui? C’est là toute la question. Au début de la Guerre froide, l’influence américaine en Europe était plus forte encore, mais agissait en faveur d’une démarche libérale contre le régime communiste soviétique. Désormais, le président américain favorise les acteurs illibéraux, ceux-là mêmes qui sont également choyés par Moscou. Dans les capitales qui n’ont pas succombé à la tentation populiste, on s’en inquiète forcément. D’autant que ces pratiques d’immixtion dans les affaires nationales se conjuguent également sur le plan international, dans la parfaite logique de l’illibéralisme, lorsqu’il s’agit de s’opposer au multilatéralisme, aux traités internationaux et à tout dialogue institutionnalisé. Cette offensive est inquiétante pour l’Union européenne parce que c’est précisément sur ce terrain multilatéral que celle-ci était parvenue, notamment dans les négociations commerciales, à trouver une vitesse de croisière, tandis qu’elle reste plus maladroite dans les domaines stratégiques du hard power. La remise en cause par Trump – au mépris de l’engagement de l’État américain – des accords de la COP 21 et d’un certain nombre d’accords commerciaux, vient ruiner l’un des piliers de la tranquillité des Européens, qui se sentaient en phase avec l’Amérique (avec laquelle ils avaient beaucoup travaillé) sur ces sujets. Bref, en revenant sur des ententes forgées de concert avec leurs alliés, et en déclarant leur hostilité au principe du dialogue multilatéral dans des instances libérales, les États-Unis déstabilisent profondément l’Europe: «Un monde s’effondre», pour reprendre le tweet prémonitoire de l’ambassadeur de France à Washington, Gérard Araud, au soir de la victoire électorale de Donald Trump.

Les opportunités: vers la prise de conscience des Européens

Trump a voulu d’une part secouer fortement ses alliés, et d’autre part mettre un coup d’arrêt à l’idée de plus en plus répandue que le déclin américain et occidental face aux nouvelles puissances montantes était désormais inéluctable. On en était revenu, en quelque sorte, aux années néoconservatrices. Avec la dénonciation de l’accord sur le nucléaire iranien signé en juillet 2015, et aujourd’hui la rhétorique guerrière de John Bolton, c’est une nouvelle facette de l’unilatéralisme trumpien qui est apparue. Elle signifiait que l’Amérique ne respecterait plus les résultats d’efforts communs obtenus avec les alliés, sans même informer ces derniers, et sans tenir compte de leur position. En conséquence, on prit acte à Paris ou Berlin de la nécessité de s’organiser seuls, voire d’être en mesure de contourner à l’avenir les positions américaines. Les intérêts européens (comme les nombreuses reprises de contact qui avaient déjà eu lieu avec Téhéran) ont été traités comme quantité négligeable à Washington. Ce n’était certes pas la première fois dans l’histoire récente, mais jamais avec autant d’ostentation. Plus grave encore peut-être, les décisions unilatérales de reconnaître Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël (décembre 2017) et d’y installer l’ambassade américaine, l’intention annoncée de reconnaître l’annexion israélienne du plateau du Golan, l’arrêt de

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Dans sa volonté de provoquer et de régir les relations internationales de la première puissance du monde avec des intérimaires, et dans des rebondissements dignes de la télé-réalité (comme la nomination de la journaliste Heather Nauert à la représentation américaine aux Nations Unies, finalement annulée par l’intéressée elle-même), Trump a aussi généré des tensions vives avec plusieurs autres pays du monde. Si les relations tendues avec le Mexique (depuis la volonté d’imposer, y compris contre le Congrès, le financement de la construction d’un mur à la frontière et les tarifs douaniers

comme punition pour les flux migratoires) ainsi que le Canada demeurent une affaire du continent américain, d’autres mesures ou postures ont des répercussions directes sur l’Europe. Les mesures prises pour interdire l’accès au territoire américain pour les ressortissants de plusieurs pays arabes et les propos tenus à l’encontre des musulmans entrent naturellement en contradiction avec l’impératif européen de maintenir de bonnes relations avec l’autre rive de la Méditerranée. Après l’«Executive Order» 13769 de janvier 2017, censé protéger la nation contre l’entrée de terroristes sur le sol américain (plus communément appelé le «Muslim ban»), certains Européens ont pris conscience qu’ils avaient un rôle à jouer pour éviter un nouvel embrasement global, lequel se terminerait par un regain d’anti-occidentalisme en Méditerranée et un néo-maccarthysme aux États-Unis, dans un esprit de choc des civilisations.


la contribution américaine à l’UNRWA, la fermeture de la représentation palestinienne aux États-Unis (septembre 2018) et le consulat général des États-Unis auprès de la Palestine à Jérusalem, ont tiré un trait sur l’implication américaine dans le processus de paix lancé à Oslo en 1991 puis à Washington en 1993. Ces gestes ont annulé des années d’engagement occidental concerté, dans lequel l’Europe avait notamment financé de nombreux processus tout comme de nombreuses infrastructures. Là encore, les Européens se trouvent dans l’obligation de mettre sur pied une nouvelle diplomatie méditerranéenne, seuls sans l’ancien partenaire américain. Qui plus est, l’embrasement que risquent de susciter les décisions américaines aura lieu dans l’environnement stratégique immédiat d’une Union européenne qui n’a nullement été consultée. Alors même que la gauche israélienne demeure sceptique sur l’utilité de telles provocations, dont se démarquent

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La réunion de la France et de l’Allemagne dans cette direction serait une condition essentielle, mais non suffisante. En-dessous d’une dizaine de membres parmi les plus influents, l’initiative serait vouée à l’échec et prononcerait l’éclatement de l’Union.


également certaines organisations juives américaines comme J-Street, Trump persiste dans sa volonté de ne plus tenir compte de situations géopolitiques régionales, mais seulement d’alliances objectives avec des leaders, partis ou mouvements qui lui ressemblent. Plus qu’Israël, c’est Benjamin Netanyahu qui est le récipiendaire de ces mesures. Plus qu’une vision stratégique méditerranéenne incluant les Européens, c’est une affinité élective, voire électorale, qui semble guider l’hypothétique boussole de la Maison-Blanche soumise à la «peur» suscitée par l’administration Trump, pour reprendre le titre de l’ouvrage Fear de Bob Woodward. Néanmoins, sur d’autres terrains, la méthode brutale de Trump semble pouvoir obtenir quelques résultats, même si ceux-ci ne sont pas définitifs. En Corée du Nord, après un moment de confrontation extrême, de bruits de bottes et de déclarations fracassantes (envisageant de «détruire totalement» le pays en septembre 2017), la nouvelle diplomatie américaine est parvenue à des rencontres directes et inédites avec un dictateur jusque-là hermétique.

Si l’on peut reprocher à Trump ses embrassades avec Kim Jong-un à l’heure même où il vexait ses vieux alliés européens, au moins doit-on lui reconnaître que, contrairement aux néoconservateurs au pouvoir dans les années 2000, il ne refuse pas le dialogue avec quiconque n’est pas d’accord avec lui. La quasi-percée diplomatique coréenne a manifestement pu inquiéter Tokyo ou Séoul, soucieux de voir leur protecteur américain discuter directement avec Pyongyang, mais elle a surtout irrité la Chine, érigée sous l’ère Trump au rang de nouvel ennemi numéro un. En fait, la nouvelle posture de Washington à l’égard de Pékin cherche à modifier un rapport de force qui semblait de plus en plus favorable à la Chine. L’engrenage observable depuis les pressions engagées sur la firme Huawei pourrait soit obliger les autorités chinoises à rechercher un apaisement, soit, à l’inverse, radicaliser l’affrontement. En déclenchant un début de guerre commerciale avec son nouveau peer competitor à un moment où celui-ci connaissait précisément un essoufflement de sa croissance, Trump a obtenu des négociations de la part d’une puissance montante qui arborait jusque-là un ton beaucoup plus inflexible. Même si l’issue de cette tension commerciale n’est pas encore connue, on doit observer que l’Amérique a rassuré certains de ses alliés asiatiques, au Japon et au Taïwan, qui voient désormais en Trump l’homme fort que Barack Obama se refusait d’incarner, campé dans une posture de «patience stratégique» plus inquiétante pour eux car synonyme d’hésitation, voire de recul, face à une puissance autoritaire chinoise conquérante. En d’autres termes, Trump a voulu d’une part secouer fortement ses alliés, et d’autre part mettre un coup d’arrêt à l’idée de plus en plus répandue que le déclin américain et occidental face aux nouvelles puissances montantes était désormais inéluctable. D’une certaine manière, on peut déjà considérer que le réveil des Européens est un premier résultat positif du style Trump. En les exhortant à dépenser plus pour leur défense et en menaçant d’un nouveau «deal» moins avantageux, le président américain ne fait que répéter un agacement déjà exprimé par les administrations précédentes, même démocrates – certes dans un style plus déroutant, et surtout en assortissant ses mises en garde de la terrible perspective de ne plus offrir aux Européens le bouclier de sécurité automatique américain. On peut considérer aujourd’hui que l’électrochoc a produit ses premiers effets, d’autant qu’il survient à un moment où les initiatives russes effraient. Par rapport à 2014, les membres européens de l’OTAN, avec le Canada, dépenseront 100 milliards d’euros en plus en 2020. L’alliance semble réveillée.

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En 2018, sept membres ont dépensé deux pour cent de leur budget pour la défense. Une majorité consacre plus de 20 pour cent de ces dépenses à des équipements majeurs. La Force de réaction rapide compte un personnel de 40 000, et une force d’élite a été créée («high-readiness spearhead force»). L’imposant exercice militaire mené à l’automne 2018 en Norvège (Trident Juncture 18 – voir l’article In Situ de Marc Lanteigne à la page 6) a impliqué 31 pays (les 29 de l’OTAN plus la Finlande et la Suède), avec un personnel de 50 000, 250 avions, 65 navires et 10 000 véhicules terrestres. Il y a aujourd’hui plus de 20 000 soldats de l’OTAN en mission, de l’Afghanistan au Kosovo en passant par l’Irak, la Baltique ou la Pologne. Certes, l’Amérique reste le garant de l’efficacité du système, et à ce titre l’attitude du président Trump reste scrutée avec attention. Mais les Européens ont pris conscience de leur vulnérabilité. Le scénario le plus vraisemblable est de les voir désormais augmenter légèrement la moyenne de leur budget de défense pendant quelques années, en espérant qu’après Trump il sera possible de revenir à une situation de «business as usual». Ce serait une nouvelle politique de l’autruche, à laquelle l’Europe a souvent habitué le monde. Car Trump n’est que le symptôme d’un monde qui change, et qui ne reviendra pas à la normale. L’autre scénario, plus optimiste, mais à ce jour difficile à entrevoir, serait de voir les Européens se structurer davantage en tirant toutes les leçons de l’épisode Trump. Ils ne pourront le faire unanimement, tant ils sont divisés entre eux sur ce que signifie Trump lui-même (en réalité admiré dans plusieurs chancelleries de l’UE), et sur les enjeux que celui-ci mobilise (la Russie, l’OTAN, Israël, les migrations, le rapport au sud, entre autres). Mais une avant-garde européenne peut voir le jour, qui sur le noyau dur de quelques pays clés (France, Allemagne, autres membres fondateurs, quelques pays scandinaves, plus le Royaume-Uni même sorti de l’UE) pourrait refonder l’approche sécuritaire par des coopérations renforcées à géométrie variable, et par l’adoption d’une définition plus large de la sécurité, qui inclurait la sécurité économique et commerciale (donc une position dure dans les négociations commerciales de bloc à bloc). Cette approche serait celle de quelques pays seulement, mais leurs progrès en la matière deviendrait vite difficile à gérer pour ceux qui refuseraient de s’y joindre. Tout dépendra bien sûr du nombre d’États qui accepteraient de jouer ce jeu. La réunion de la France et de l’Allemagne dans cette direction serait une condition essentielle, mais non suffisante. En-dessous d’une dizaine de membres parmi les plus influents (les six fondateurs, plus d’autres comme l’Espagne, le Portugal, quelques pays nordiques, et au moins un ou deux pays d’Europe centrale), l’initiative serait vouée à l’échec et prononcerait l’éclatement de l’Union. Mais si cette masse critique minimum est atteinte, une renaissance de l’Europe puissance est possible, par dynamique d’entraînement. Elle ne se comptera pas à 28. Mais elle aura enfin une signification. | GB



India and Pakistan Betwixt Washington and Beijing GB sits down with one of India’s top geokrats to better understand the games of South Asia, who plays best, and who has no game at all Conversation with KANTI BAJPAI

Kanti Bajpai is the Wilmar Professor of Asian Studies and Director of the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He is a past professor of international relations at JNU

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in New Delhi.


GB: What is the main policy challenge for Narendra Modi as he begins his second term in power? KB: Modi’s principal challenge is to learn how to govern better. Winning elections is one thing. But governing wisely and effectively is quite another. Modi governs through a group of senior civil servants and technocrats, and this is why he has made so many mistakes. He has presided over one of the worst periods of economic growth and unemployment in India since the reforms of 1991. And despite his government’s fiddling with India’s GDP and employment statistics, the trends are clear. On human development, India is poised to fall behind Bangladesh and Nepal because the Modi government has done little on health and education. Indians are migrating to the cities, and after promising to build or rehabilitate 100 cities, Modi has done precious little to improve urban blight. As such, the future of Indian cities looks increasingly bleak as these waves of rural migrants arrive. India’s infrastructure is a scandal. While national highways are improving, this was a trend well under way before Modi. On electricity generation, there is a long way to go if India’s economy is to grow soundly. Per-capita water availability in India will fall to less than 20 percent of what was available in 1950. Yet Modi’s government has done little or nothing about the problem. His promised clean-up of the Ganges River has been an embarrassment. Socially, the attacks on – and humiliation of – religious minorities and of lower caste communities are a major national problem – setting the stage for serious internal security problems in the decades ahead. Bref, the government has not stepped in to protect the vulnerable, and the country will pay a price eventually. Unfortunately, I do not see this as being any kind of priority for the new Modi government. Politically, it is clear that Indian institutions from the Supreme Court downward are in shambles. India has never had been as ‘de-institutionalized’ as in the past five years. Modi’s principal challenges are therefore primarily internal – to wit, his style of governance and his lack of effectiveness. That he has been massively re-elected does not reflect very positively on the Indian electorate. It has succumbed to a hyper-nationalist politics of the kind that domi-

nates in Russia and Turkey. Democracy is not just (largely) free and fair elections. It is about checks and balances on untrammelled power, rule of law (not rule by law), and civility in political discourse. All of these have been deteriorating and collapsing since Modi’s arrival in Delhi in 2014. In August, the Modi government’s abrogation of Article 370 on the status of Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian Union looked set to cause further trouble both in the state and with Pakistan. This was an ill-thought-out initiative, to say the least. It aims to deepen the integration of the state with the rest of India. Can it achieve greater administrative, economic and social-psychological integration? The Modi government’s track record in dealing with entities that are directly (or even indirectly) administered by the central government is unedifying. Its hope that investment and workers will move to Kashmir and vitalize its economy rests upon the supposition that abrogating 370 will attract outside capital and labour. But when the state has such poor infrastructure and a chronic law-and-order problem (including terrorism), who will want to move there? The only possibility here is a special economic zone guarded massively by Indian security forces. In this circumstance, Kashmir could come to resemble Xinjiang and Tibet. Finally, the notion that Muslim Kashmiris in the Valley, who felt protected by 370, would now integrate with a country in thrall to a Hindu majoritarian government seems patently eccentric. GB: What happened in the short border skirmishes between India and Pakistan last winter and spring? KB: The Indians responded to what they perceived to be a terrorist attack by the Jaish-e-Mohammed in a place called Pulwama. The Jaish is based in Pakistan and claimed credit for the attack. The Indian action was really a vengeance strike, at one level, responding to outrage within the Indian public. At another level, it was an attempt by New Delhi to mount deterrence against future attacks. What India wanted to do was to signal that any future attack must take into account the retaliatory costs that would be visited on Pakistan. Of course, this is premissed on the idea that the Jaish is under the control of the Pakistani

government – or at least elements of the Pakistani government – and that the retaliatory Indian strike in Balakot could actually influence the Pakistanis, who could then influence the Jaish. Whether this logic is accurate remains unknown. GB: Why did the Jaish strike when they did?


GB: How close did the Jaish attack and the Indian counter-attack bring India and Pakistan to war? KB: India and Pakistan have a way of dealing with these crises. Clearly, this is not the first time that they have been here. The 2001 attack on the Indian parliament was a spectacular one, and India mobilized its entire military in response. After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Indians did not mobilize militarily, and chose instead to exert diplomatic pressure on Pakistan. What is common to both cases is that India and Pakistan know how to play the mobilization

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KB: There is a great deal of speculation about this. At one level, clearly, the strike was a gift to Prime Minister Modi, who was weeks away from a general election. It is clear that Modi played the Indian retaliatory strike to the hilt in the election campaign and got a lot of fuel from it. On the other hand, the timing of the terrorist attack could well have nothing to do with the elections themselves. The attacker was a young man from the Indian side of Kashmir, who was probably handled and inspired by the Jaish. Of course, whether he himself chose the timing or was explicitly set up to execute the attack at that particular time – just prior to the election – is for now entirely in the realm of speculation. Some of Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan’s statements were puzzling and lent some credence to the notion that the terrorist strike was aimed at the Indian election. For instance, Khan said that he

was looking forward to a Narendra Modi electoral victory because he thought that this would be better for India-Pakistan relations. Evidently, the reason that Khan and the Pakistani establishment prefer Modi is that he is an unabashed Hindu nationalist, and his advent to power confirms that the creation of Pakistan was a necessity – that is, in the end, India was always likely to be a Hindu majoritarian country, just as Muhammed Ali Jinnah, who led the fight for partition, had predicted. Diplomatically, on the world stage, Pakistan has suffered by comparison with secular India. With Modi in power, New Delhi’s advantage on that score disappears.

India and Pakistan know how to play the mobilization game – military and diplomatic – up to a point and no further. In particular, both sides do not play the military card beyond a very specific point.


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It is China, above all, that connects all of Asia, even if there are two powers – China and India – that, formally or more informally, operate in every regional space on the Asian continent as members of virtually every regional organization.


game – military and diplomatic – up to a point and no further. In particular, both sides do not play the military card beyond a very specific point. There is a tacit routine here, whereby both sides blow hot and then blow cold, just in time. We have more or less seen a repeat of this algorithm in the latest escalation and de-escalation. Still, the shadow of nuclear weapons and the threat of conventional escalation remain very powerful. Bref, I would say that we did not come close to bona fide war, and that the skirmish was played by both sides for domestic audiences and for the international audience. Both sides, at the official level, have continued to have a good sense of how conflict short of full-scale war plays out. GB: How representative of, or identified with, the Pakistani state is Jaish today? KB: It is fairly clear that no big, over-the-surface organization like Jaish or Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) can operate without the knowledge of, and at least elements of support from, the Pakistani government. At the very least, some rogue elements of the Pakistani army’s intelligence service, the ISI, must know about the activities of the Jaish and LeT, and must let them carry on. These organizations hold massive public gatherings, collect money legally and illegally, threaten India, and even threaten the Pakistani government. They are shut down periodically after crises, but are then allowed to resurface when the courts permit it or after a respectable interval. In short, it is nonsense to claim that the Pakistani government is not responsible for these groups in any way, shape or form. Even if we accept that various episodes, incidents and attacks are not directly and immediately traceable to the Pakistani government, we still have a situation in which these groups are free to operate and are getting an official wink and nod. The Pakistani government is therefore responsible and culpable. That is exactly the position that the US took after 9/11 in dealing with the Taliban and the Pakistani government. The Indian government is playing the game in much the same way as the US, according to a similar logic. GB: How is Imran Khan, the new Pakistani prime minister, performing? KB: Mixed. He has a persona. He has domestic support. And he does somewhat unpredictable things. But no civilian leader in Pakistan – in fact, not even most Pakistani military leaders – can really stray very far from the preferences of the top army corps commanders. This is certainly true in respect of foreign and security policy, and especially so when we are talking about Pakistan’s relations with the US, China and India. Relations with these countries

and other powers like Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia are determined by the Pakistani army. Bref, Khan is interesting up to a point. He can take bilateral relations with India only so far, but there are, in the end, manifest red lines. He is aware of these red lines, and the Pakistani army will make sure that he does not cross them. Khan’s interests and pressures are therefore multiple. He has an interest in keeping the Pakistani army happy, and an interest in some form of reconciliation with India. Yet there are also significant Chinese and American pressures on him to avoid escalating matters with India beyond some limit. The Chinese pressures are – to be sure – the most telling and most important. And China has its own reasons for exerting pressures on Pakistan. GB: What are the motives and sources of Chinese pressure on Pakistan? KB: First, the Chinese do not wish to alienate India altogether. India is too big, and it sits to China’s immediate west, at its southwestern border. India can have an impact on Tibetan politics. It has a military deterrent – both nuclear and conventional – and it has an economy that matters. India is China’s seventh biggest trading partner at this stage, and China has a huge trade surplus with India. Bref, there are significant Chinese economic, military, and diplomatic stakes in good relations with India. Beijing clearly does not want to push New Delhi into Washington’s arms. This is also the case with Beijing’s relations vis-à-vis Islamabad – that is, China must ensure that it does not alienate Pakistan and allow it to get too close to the US. Second, there are nuclear weapons on the Indian subcontinent. A crisis that gets out of hand in South Asia – on the Chinese borderlands – is not a situation that China fancies. No one would want an escalating crisis on the subcontinent, given that such a crisis could erupt into nuclear war. The global consequences of a nuclear war in terms of the demonstration effects, the breaking of a nuclear taboo that has held since 1945 and, of course, the physical drift of nuclear fallout would be catastrophic. China therefore has very important reasons for ensuring that things do not get out of hand, and I am certain that the Chinese counsel restraint in the handling of any crisis involving India. GB: How will the next five years in India-Pakistan relations evolve? KB: More of the same – blow hot, blow cold. The reelected Modi government will not stray much from its present foreign policy vis-à-vis China, the US, Pakistan and other countries. There will be no great breakthroughs. Both India and Pakistan will avoid

polarization beyond a point. The key question, of course, is whether the Pakistanis can show enough progress on actions against extremist groups and terrorist groups – that is, enough so that New Delhi can declare victory in order to return to the comprehensive dialogue that had been in place until 2008. There have been some back-channel contacts between the two countries since 2008, but even those contacts will have been aborted in the aftermath of the recent terrorist strike. The most likely initial scenario, then, is the reestablishment or reinstitution of back-channel or low-level contacts. If the Pakistanis are sufficiently convincing in moving against extremism, then it is quite possible that the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan could lay the groundwork for the resumption of a comprehensive dialogue to address the perennial bilateral issues – the future of Kashmir, security and terrorism, river water and smaller territorial disputes, trade and people-topeople contacts. GB: Do you see India as part of a resurgent Asia, or are there disparate futures for East or Northeast Asia and South Asia?

GB: Will India ‘rise’ like China, or do the two countries have different futures? KB: They have different futures. Chinese GDP today is five times that of India. The gap is growing – not shrinking. (continued) For the rest of the interview with Kanti Bajpai,

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KB: Increasingly, the idea of the Indo-Pacific has linked up East Asia or the Asia-Pacific with the Indian Ocean area. Of course, India sits at the heart of the Indo-Pacific. There are – to be sure – all kinds of different conceptions of the Indo-Pacific. The Japanese launched it. The Americans ran with it, and have almost taken it over with their construct of a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific.’ The Indians themselves thought that they had their own conception of it. (It is still not very clear what that conception is.) The Australians have worked it into their defence white paper. The Indonesians are prodding ASEAN to come on board, after initial doubts about the Indo-Pacific. In short, the idea of an Indo-Pacific that gives India more prominence is very much out there. Even the Chinese have recognized that there is something going on here – that is, that they need to track and be aware of what is happening. As for the nature of the nexus between East Asia and South Asia, that has already begun to manifest itself at the level of conceptions, ideas and thought processes. To some extent, the nexus has been evolving materially over many years because, in the first instance, the navies of the Asia-Pacific – including the Chinese navy – have been operating in the Indian Ocean. These navies are acquiring base-like facilities in various places. The Indians, in turn, have been sending boats into the South China Sea. And the American navy clearly operates in both oceans. All the members of the Free and Open IndoPacific construct – Australia, India, Japan and the US – have pitched the idea of a formal Indo-Pacific

grouping, even if they all seem to have dialled back somewhat after their initial advocacy. The military discussions among the four, in the so-called Quad, really involve maritime security and not much else. These discussions, too, have been marked by ups and downs, with the Indians particularly ambivalent. Nevertheless, the long-term intent of the four countries is clear – to wit, to stitch up the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean area into a unified strategic space. Having said this, at this point, there is not a lot that happens in South Asia that really impacts East Asia. The reverse is truer, as developments – particularly economic developments – in East Asia do matter significantly to South Asia. The really big issue is, of course, China. It affects East Asia and South Asia alike. Bref, what really unites Asia, strategically, is China. China abuts and connects every region of the continent, from Central Asia on one side, into Northeast Asia on the other, with South and Southeast Asia in between. Whatever China does in one region has an impact on the other regions. States are either attracted to China or repelled by Chinese actions, and in all of these regions they watch China very carefully. So it is China, above all, that connects all of Asia, even if there are two powers – China and India – that, formally or more informally, operate in every regional space on the Asian continent as members of virtually every regional organization.

Even Modi, after four years of tilting toward the US, Japan, and Australia and tilting against China, has, over the last year or so, tilted back to a kind of non-aligned position. India will stick to the middle ground as far and as long as possible, with occasional tilts this way and that.

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Can a second-term Modi government, with new red lines but growing domestic turbulence, find a new dialogue with Islamabad? Will Beijing allow it? Will Washington? What role for competence? BY RAMESH THAKUR

MEDITATIONS ON MODI 2.0, PAKISTAN & THE KASHMIR QUESTION Ramesh Thakur is Emeritus Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian

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National University.


ndia has one foot on a lower rung of the ladder to global power and prestige. Prime Minister Narendra Modi craves and courts status as a world leader. He can now certainly claim a second successive largest mandate in human history, having been re-elected with an increased majority in May (see the Tête à Tête interview with Kanti Bajpai at p. 32). Having said this, India will continue to experience difficulty climbing the ladder of global recognition while its other foot remains bogged down firmly in the quagmire of bilateral relations with Pakistan. For its part, China has followed a deliberate strategy of keeping India entangled in its own neighbourhood in order to frustrate its pretensions to great power status. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has reversed the American course on China to confront it as an emerging strategic rival across a broad front in Cold War 2.0. And yet the resulting window of opportunity for a game-changing partnership with New Delhi is being wasted by Washington through the strategic incoherence of picking avoidable trade fights, threatening India with secondary sanctions for its independent relationship with Iran (driven by regional dynamics), and demanding the right to veto India’s defence purchases from Russia. Adding to the gathering international storm, the Modi government has also encountered turbulence in its domestic dealings with Muslims and Kashmiris.

The Pulwama-Balakot Clashes In February, tensions between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan spiked with the suicide bomb attack on a paramilitary convoy in Pulwama, Kashmir that killed 44 Indian soldiers. Modi approved missile strikes against an alleged terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan in Balakot. Pakistan retaliated the next day with air raids along the Line of Control in Kashmir. With certain facts – who shot down how many of the other side’s planes, and


without reference to the origins of the Kashmir dispute that are shrouded in the mist of the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. These origins entail a mix of legal arguments, politics and – to be sure – the military balance of 1949 that determined the present division of Kashmir into parts administered by India and Pakistan. Of course, both sides are convinced of the moral rectitude of their position, which militates against a compromise solution. Their militaries continue to skirmish, and occasionally this breaks out into full-fledged war. Pakistanis – and in particular the Pakistani military – have not forgiven

Indian paramilitary guards in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, June 2019.

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did Indian missiles hit a terrorist training camp or land harmlessly in an open field? – impossible to verify or disprove in the fog of war, both sides were able to claim military and diplomatic victory and, with honour intact, defuse the crisis. Nevertheless, the toxic cocktail of Pakistan-based jihadist groups waging hybrid war in Indian Kashmir, territorial disputes, growing nuclear stockpiles and expanding delivery platforms, and the rise of militant Hindu nationalism in India means that the crisis will flare up again. No analyst is taken seriously in India or Pakistan


India for the 1971 defeat that broke off Bangladesh as an independent country. Indeed, their thirst for vengeance remains unsated. When insurgency erupted in Kashmir in the 1980s, Pakistan seized its chance to try to ‘bleed India with a thousand cuts.’ The Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), in particular, have been cultivated as deep state-sponsored jihadist outfits. The 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed more than 160 civilians were perpetrated by the LeT. The attacks on India’s parliament in December 2001, on an Indian air force base in Pathankot in January 2016, and on an army base in Uri in September of that same year, were blamed on the JeM. The Kashmir territorial dispute intersects with ethno-national identity politics. It continues to fester and divide India and Pakistan because it is unfinished business for both. Pakistan was hived off and created as an Islamic republic on the argument that the Muslims of the subcontinent could not live in a Hindu-majority nation – that is, they needed a national home of their own. As a Muslim-majority province, then, the fact that Kashmir is not part of Pakistan negates that country’s founding ideology and represents unfinished business from 1947. But India was established as a secular nation, and Kashmiri Muslims comprise less than seven percent of the country’s total Muslim population. For India’s only Muslim-majority province to be cut off would undermine its core identity as a secular republic, and could potentially pose a threat to the remaining Muslims of India. Moreover, unlike other princely states of the British Raj whose post-independence accession was duly followed by merger with the Union of India, Kashmir went through accession (which Pakistan alleges was fraudulent), but not merger. As such, it has unique status under an Indian constitution that seeks to protect its demographic and cultural identity. This in turn means that Kashmir is unfinished business for India. In the most significant political development in decades, on August 5th, the Modi government announced that Kashmir’s special status under Article 37 of the Indian constitution had been scrapped. The province has now been reconstituted into two Union Territories – a status (like Delhi itself) below that of states, with severely restricted policy and administrative autonomy. Designed to complete Kashmir’s merger with India, the move will be wildly popular with Indians but will stoke massive

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In the most significant political development in decades, the Modi government announced that Kashmir’s special status under Article 37 of the Indian constitution had been scrapped.


anti-Indian upheaval and protests in Kashmir, with the potential to spark another military clash with Pakistan – with the attendant risk of crossing the nuclear threshold.

The Nuclear Overhang


he 1971 humiliation spurred Pakistan into investing all means necessary in order to acquire the bomb. By the early 1990s, both Pakistan and India operated on the assumption that the other side already had a nuclear weapon. Both came out of the closet with matching nuclear tests in 1998. (China was an essential enabler of Pakistan’s nuclearization, driven as much by an anti-India as a pro-Pakistan motivation.) Although the primary driver of India’s nuclear policy is China, it must live with the nightmare of two nuclear-armed neighbours. India has long-festering, serious border disputes with both countries, and the diplomatic friendship between Beijing and Islamabad is said to be higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, and sweeter than honey. The depth and solidity of the relationship helps the two to tide over occasional irritants like the recent dispute over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Uniquely among all nuclear-armed states, Pakistan’s nuclear policy, programme and weapons are all under military control, and any decision to use the weapons will be made by the military rather than civilian leadership. Pakistan hosts and supports jihadist groups as instruments of security policy, and it is a revisionist and irredentist state. As a consequence, unlike other dyadic nuclear rivalries that focus on managing stability, Pakistan seeks managed nuclear instability (says Bradford University’s Shaun Gregory). With parallel nuclearization, Pakistan believed it had created a nuclear ceiling under which it could safely prosecute asymmetric, sub-conventional warfare. Its full-spectrum deterrence posture, firstuse doctrine and development of tactical battlefield nuclear weapons were deliberate efforts to blur nuclear red lines by softening the normative boundary between conventional and nuclear weapons. The nuclear overhang turned the Kashmiri Line of Control into a sacrosanct red line not to be crossed under any circumstances by the Indian military. The Indian air force was denied permission to launch strikes across the Line of Control in the Kargil war in 1999, and again after the 2008 attack on Mumbai. India received much international praise for its restrained patience, but most Indians felt shame and humiliation at New Delhi’s policy of ‘strategic restraint.’ As far as they were concerned, Pakistan had got away with a large-scale terrorist massacre in India’s financial capital and turned the question of accountability for the perpetrators into a technical discussion about what counts as verifiable evidence.

Meanwhile, for some in the Pakistani military it was bias confirmation of ‘Hindu cowardice.’ With the Balakot strikes in February, India demonstrated the national intent, military capability and political resolve to take the war deep into enemy territory when and if it must. India’s default military response matrix has been reset. The folly of ‘strategic restraint’ has been jettisoned decisively: domestic Indian politics will no longer tolerate it. Modi skillfully exploited the clashes to ride into power for a second term on the back of his image of muscular nationalism. A new, much sharper red line has been drawn for the use of Indian military force. Now, the new normal is that Pakistan-based terrorist attacks on Indian targets will have military consequences. And this will change the calculus in Islamabad on the use of jihadists and insurgents to wage hybrid war in India. Still, to be credible and successful, such a policy requires the capacity to inflict increasingly heavy punitive costs at every rung of the escalation ladder. After decades of neglect and underfunding of the military, India does not presently possess such ‘escalation dominance.’ The best model for India in developing such capacity is Israel. Indeed, the strikes on Balakot used Israeli-made Rafael Spice-2000 GPSguided ‘smart bombs,’ and Indian and Israeli special forces already conduct combined exercises in the Negev desert. India will likely take other lessons from Israel in the future.

The Changed US Approach


Reassuring India’s Muslims


or its part, the nature of the Indian state is itself changing as the religious nationalist base of the ruling BJP threatens to turn India into a Hindu Pakistan. In his towering self-regard, promise to make India great again, and self-congratulatory boasts of achievements regardless of objective reality, Modi bears a striking resemblance to Donald Trump. His government has aggressively delegitimized any criticism of its Pakistan policy as unpatriotic and used this to shield itself against tough questions about the intelligence failures that enabled the Pulwama massacre, the reasons behind the radicalization of the home-grown suicide bomber, and the results of the airstrikes on Balakot. Muslims suspected of consuming or selling beef have been lynched. Those expressing disquiet over rising Hindu intolerance have been advised to move to Pakistan – and in myriad other ways, have been made to feel like second-class citizens. The hardline Hindutva agenda that has been permitted by the Modi government to take root and increasingly monopolize the public space has palpably increased the anxiety level of Muslims, risking their alienation from the Indian political mainstream. Of course, were India’s 180 million Muslims, dispersed across the length and breadth of the country, to be fully alienated, no government could contain the resulting fire and fury. Bref, the country would be consumed by the ensuing conflagration.

After decades of neglect and underfunding of the military, India does not presently possess such ‘escalation dominance.’ The best model for India in developing such capacity is Israel.

Calming Kashmir


ndependently of – and bigger than – its Pakistan problem, India has a Kashmir problem. Escalation dominance by military means may buy India insurance against cross-border terrorism, but it does not resolve the underlying Kashmir dispute.

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or external powers, New Delhi’s traditional posture of strategic restraint meant that the line between international respect, eyeglazing indifference and quiet contempt for India’s inability to solve its own problems was very fine indeed. However, the new normal of unilateral strikes across the international border shows that India has given up on the UN Security Council, where China, as a veto-wielding permanent member, has acted as Pakistan’s enabler and protector. Today, countries worried about a nuclear war would be well-advised that the best way to avoid one is to make sure that Pakistan dismantles the infrastructure of terrorism-for-export to Afghanistan and India. On that logic, Washington has abandoned its traditional neutrality and openly reinforced the Indian narrative on the key aspects of the February clash. US National Security Adviser John Bolton has publicly backed India’s right to self-defence. After the Indian strikes on Balakot, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described them as “counter-terrorism actions.” Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, correctly concluded that the US approach was less sympathetic to Pakistan in this crisis because Pakistan had allowed terrorist groups to operate from its soil.

Of course, in the end, there is no alternative to bilateral dialogue with Pakistan to establish normal relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours. The problem for India remains: to whom should it talk? Pakistan’s military determines the key elements of its India, Kashmir and nuclear policies, and the civilian government can be overthrown if it crosses the military’s red lines. There therefore has to be a change in the nature of the Pakistani state, with civilian dominance over the military firmly established as a precondition for meaningful talks to begin.


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Firmness and military forcefulness in tackling jihadi terrorism exported from Pakistan must be complemented with fairness and conciliation in winning back the aggrieved Kashmiris. Modi must engage with them, including the disaffected and alienated youth.


This can be done only through direct dialogue and negotiation. Both the Congress Party and the BJP have been guilty of gross, deep and serial interference in the state politics of Kashmir, severely straining the quality of Indian federalism. This has fed the growing antagonism and restlessness of Kashmiris. Pulwama was not the same as Mumbai on 26/11: the suicide attack was directed at – and restricted to – soldiers being deployed into an active indigenous insurgency. As such, Pulwama does not satisfy the generally accepted definition of terrorism. Pulwama’s suicide bomber was a home-grown militant who used a local van as his deadly missile. According to Mohammed Ayoob, emeritus professor of international relations at Michigan State University and an Indian Muslim, Kashmir has become an “albatross around the neck of Indian Muslims.” The suspect loyalty of Kashmiris sympathetic to separatism and jihadists fuels the anti-Muslim agenda of Hindu hardliners. Modi’s aggressive nationalism feeds the jingoism of an angry and aroused mass of citizens. Any effort to question the official narrative is denounced as offering aid and comfort to the enemy. The Hindu militants who make up his base have also vilified anyone from the opposition parties and civil society seeking informal dialogue with counterparts in Pakistan as unpatriotic. This is a dangerous narrowing of space for political dialogue between civil society representatives that coincides with a freeze in diplomatic talks – a freeze that has extended even to contacts with a range of Kashmiri representatives. Indian commentators have repeatedly warned of the consequences, but have been either ignored or worse – branded as Muslim and Pakistan appeasers and jihadi apologists. Bref, firmness and military forcefulness in tackling jihadi terrorism exported from Pakistan must be complemented with fairness and conciliation in winning back the aggrieved Kashmiris. Modi must engage with them, including the disaffected and alienated youth. Modi could do worse than to learn from his predecessor. Manmohan Singh kept open the political process in Kashmir, appointed a three-member civil society team of interlocutors, tried to soften the border by opening cross-border trade and bus services, and ensured that a dialogue with Pakistan was kept alive through official, back channel and civil society contacts. The result? According to V.K. Singh, the former army chief who is now a minister in the Modi government, Kashmir was essentially peaceful in the 2005-2012 period. By contrast, Modi’s Kashmir policy has shifted the balance from the previous dual-track approach of military containment-cum-political engagement, to emphasize military solutions at

the expense of political approaches. Modi has been erratic, inconsistent, volatile and combative on Kashmir, treating it largely as a law and order problem with curfews, comb-and-search operations and the use of lethal force, on the one hand, and as a counter-terrorism policy directed against local militants and their backers based in Pakistan, on the other. The result is clear: a substantial spike since 2014 in the numbers of terrorist attacks and attempted infiltrations across the Line of Control; of security forces, insurgents and civilians killed; and of protests. Citing these figures, Radha Kumar, an interlocutor in Kashmir during the Manmohan Singh period, has castigated the Modi government for having no policy to make peace in Kashmir. Nor can India simply wish away last year’s damning report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on abuses in Kashmir. Hampered by the refusal of unconditional access to Kashmir, the report noted effective impunity for deaths, disappearances, sexual and other abuses due to various laws that have “created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.”

The Wider Geopolitical Backdrop


ndia and Pakistan came close to cutting a deal on Kashmir a decade and a half ago. Prime Minister Singh and Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf launched intensive back-channel diplomatic negotiations under strict secrecy, led by veteran Indian diplomat Satinder Lambah and Pakistani politician Tariq Aziz. The teams also worked out measures to promote trade, travel and dialogue across the Line of Control. By 2007, however, Musharraf’s political position had become precarious domestically and he was unable to translate diplomatic progress into an agreement. The simplest and most sensible solution to the Kashmir crisis would be to convert the de facto international border into the de jure border. That border has barely shifted through more than 70 years of conflict, and it is unlikely to shift much in the next 70 years. The dispute has exacted a heavy toll on India, and an even heavier toll on Pakistan. With an agreed, settled and open international border, Kashmiris and all Indians and Pakistanis would be able to travel back and forth freely, forge close people-to-people relations, and build markets for shared prosperity and improved lifestyles. Both countries could focus on investing in social security, welfare and economic development. They could collaborate on shared policy agendas. All they need to appreciate the limitless possibilities is to look across to Europe and the common values, interests and identity that bind such historic

one strategic aegis. In a major speech in October 2017, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson became the first senior US official to switch to the IndoPacific frame, with the US and India described as “the eastern and western beacons.” To be sure, the combination of geography, demographics, military power and political weight gives India multiple roles in safeguarding sea lanes, dampening Islamic militancy, combatting terrorism, and taking the lead in disaster relief operations around the Indian Ocean. And yet Trump’s transactional foreign policy risks producing strategic incoherence between trade and geopolitical goals. By imposing stiff tariffs on Indian imports and secondary sanctions on India’s trade with Iran, the administration risks reawakening the latent anti-Americanism in the Indian body politic. India cannot become an Asian counterweight to China if its economy is weakened. A narrow-minded approach that weaponizes tariffs, trade and dollar dominance to browbeat India will only compel the Modi government to evaluate other options. India is too large – and in the pursuit of its regional interests, India’s pride and self-belief will not permit it to be a mere vassal state of any external power, whether benign or malevolent. This requires some recognition by the US of Indian sensitivities on economic, trade and regional security interests. A mature bilateral relationship would acknowledge the possibility of occasional disagreements based on divergent interests and perspectives, negotiate through the issues to find common ground, and quarantine discord to contain any lasting damage to the broader relationship. Finally, domestic political stability, internal social cohesion and rapid economic transformation are all prerequisites for Indian foreign policy success in defeating cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, staying within touching distance of China’s rise as a comprehensive national power, and retaining US interest in being a strategic partner. Modi has ensured political stability with a second majority mandate for the BJP. But he shows little understanding of the need to check the vigilantism of Hindu zealots as the biggest threat to national unity. He understands the need for economic success but showed worrying signs of economic illiteracy in his first term. Making essentially incremental changes, he has given no indication that he grasps the need for transformative structural reforms to drive the economy forward, improve service delivery by a modern, efficient and responsive bureaucracy, and position India to be globally competitive over the next few decades by dragging its education system – from the primary through to the tertiary sector – into the 21st century. This is why the Indian economy continues to grow mainly at night, when the government is asleep. | GB

The suspect loyalty of Kashmiris sympathetic to separatism and jihadists fuels the anti-Muslim agenda of Hindu hardliners. Modi’s aggressive nationalism is feeding the jingoism of an angry and aroused mass of citizens.

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rivals as Britain, France, Germany and Italy. India is deeply aware of the enabling role that China has played in using Pakistan to constrict India to the subcontinent – including by assisting Pakistan’s nuclear programme. China has also been the chief obstacle to India’s elusive quest for permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Moreover, the unresolved Sino-Indian border dispute experiences occasional flare-ups and skirmishes – for example, on the Doklam plateau in 2017. Neither the Chinese nor Indians have forgotten India’s military humiliation by China in 1962. At the same time, on many global issues pertaining to trade, affordable medicine, intellectual property, labour and environmental standards, and climate change, their interests converge against industrialized countries. This finds expression in the BRICS grouping of Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa, which has become as much a geopolitical bloc as an economic one. Indeed, the ambivalence of India’s China relationship is well captured in the fact that the two are co-founders of the BRICS New Development Bank. India is a full partner in the China-created Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. And yet India has been a determined opponent of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The central geopolitical dynamic of our time is the steady accretion of power, wealth and clout by China and the relative waning of US power. As the two Asian giants reclaim agency in determining their own affairs, the Sino-American dynamic has shaped the changing contours of the India-US relationship in the last two decades and is likely to become even more influential in the coming decades. For its part, the bilateral relationship between Washington and New Delhi had more downs than ups during the Cold War, but has been on a gradual upswing since then. It was put on a steeply upward trajectory with the signing of the civil nuclear cooperation deal in 2005. Having been denied an entry visa to the US for many years as the elected head of a state government, Modi, upon becoming prime minister, set aside personal hurts from the slight and made a strategic decision to invest in the US as India’s most important relationship. That has helped to create important constituencies in the US Congress, political parties, bureaucracy, military and private sector to deepen and elevate India-US ties. The Indian diaspora in the US has also played a key bridge-building role. As part of the overarching strategy to challenge China’s assertive dominance, the US is interested in informal interests-cum-values-based coalitions with allies and friends. To this end, the ‘Indo-Pacific’ construct attempts to integrate geography, ‘free and open’ as a guiding principle, and the democratic values of Australia, India, Japan and the US into


What should this century’s institutions look like? What still works well? What needs reinforcement? What is yet to be divined? BY THE GB TEAM

ust as GB celebrates 10 years, so too does the Institute for 21st Century Questions – 21CQ – celebrate its fifth year of work around the world. Through this work, 21CQ is, in all cases, intensely interested in the renovation of last-century international institutions and, wherever necessary, proposals for ‘new’ institutions, mechanisms and frameworks to solve new-century international, global and even national problems – some of them extremely wicked. Problem-area ‘Questions’ that motivate 21CQ’s work in the ‘institution-reinforcing,’ ‘institution-creating’ or ‘recreating’ space include the vast Arctic theatre, the former Soviet space, security in West Asia (and indeed in East Asia also) and, to be sure, international criminal justice. Where relevant, 21CQ’s properly national work on 100 million Canadians, the Quebec Question and the Indigenous Question have also clearly fed into and enriched our thinking and effectiveness in respect of the more international challenges. And vice versa, no doubt. Our work on these various topics allows us now, on considered reflection, to make a handful of observations on what we see, at the dawn of the third decade of this new century, as conceptually essential to the institution game for the coming decades. What kinds of institutions can stitch together our complex world for the pressures of today and tomorrow? What still works and why, and what no longer works? What are some of the new major opportunities for innovation? And what, of course, is still unknown or ‘hard to solve’?


INTERNATIONAL GOVERNANCE The GB Team wishes to thank our readers, writers, artists, friends and supporters around


the world. We hope you continue to

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enjoy your Brief.


Interstitial Institutions Perhaps the most important and least understood of all new-century international governance challenges concerns the nature of the interactions between geographical blocs – particularly geographic economic blocs, and especially because these blocs, by virtue of their size and membership, before long assume a manifestly strategic character. By contrast, the construction of various species of intra-continental or intra-regional blocs, as discussed below, is more intuitive and builds on extant efforts from the 20th century – the EU, ASEAN, NAFTA, etc. Also more intuitive is the need for ‘global’ institutions to oversee and regulate all manner of intercourse among states and state-specific institutions – for instance, the UN and the Bretton Woods institutions. We treat the new-century logic and looks for such institutions below. But what of the ‘interstitial’ relations between geographic blocs? Who is working on these arrangements today? Answer: very few people, and far too few at that. Far more than considerations about NATO expansion or any state-specific conspiracy, the most persuasive interpretation for the genesis of the Russia-Ukraine-West conflict is that of an essential ‘clash’ or ‘collision’ in 2014 between the competing gravities and ‘fields’ of the EU (the European economic bloc) and the still-embryonic Eurasian Economic Union (the major economic bloc of the post-Soviet space). These blocs (gravities or ‘fields’) – for all practical intents and purposes, not just economic blocs, but also regulatory, security, normative, spiritual and inevitably, as noted, strategic blocs – pulled on the

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‘unclaimed’ Ukrainian space (unclaimed in the sense of not being a proper member of any of the competing blocs) that lay (geographically) between them. The two blocs were able to pull, in opposite directions – deliberately and unwittingly – on the young Ukrainian state with sufficient force as to cause its fundamental disruption or destabilization – with chaotic forces released from the Ukrainian ‘atom,’ as it were, as if in a nuclear fission. Indubitably, then, any ‘solution’ to the RussiaUkraine-West conflict will require not only a species of restitching of the intra-Ukrainian space to reckon with that state’s weak institutions and various constitutional and political specificities (see Strategic Futures at p. 62), but also an ‘interstitial’ stitching that connects the EU and Eurasian Economic Union between themselves and across the Ukrainian space and state – without Ukraine necessarily becoming a bona fide member of either bloc. A second major episode of interstitial crisis occurred as late as 2018 – in the event, involving the US, China and Canada, or as between the NAFTA (the North American economic bloc) and China (and, by extension, Chinese-led blocs). First, in

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Perhaps the most underestimated and least understood of all new-century international governance challenges concerns the nature of the interactions between geographical blocs – particularly geographic economic blocs.


the fall of 2018, Canada, Mexico and the US signed the new USMCA agreement, intended to succeed NAFTA. This new agreement included – surprisingly, to most analysts, in both North America and Asia – a clause (Article 32.10) that requires each of the three signatory states to have effective approval – procedurally and substantively – from the other two in the event that the state in question should wish to pursue a free-trade agreement with a ‘non-market’ state. If, as most analysts suggest, this clause intended ‘non-market’ to mean, first and foremost, China (understood as ‘non-market’ in American trade law, but not in WTO terms), then the 2014 interstitial contest between the EU and Eurasian Economic Union over and through Ukraine has repeated itself between the NAFTA and China spaces over and through

Canada (and, to a less sharp degree, for now, over and through Mexico). If we presume that it was the US that introduced this clause and logic to the USMCA, then Article 32.10 was intended to place Canada firmly within the NAFTA (North American) economic space to the explicit exclusion of any frictionless possibility of Canada a) joining a China-led bloc, or b) being a member of, or otherwise freely enjoying the economic rents associated with membership in both the North American and China blocs. Beijing clearly interpreted this clause as hostile to it – by design from Washington, and by subservient or reflexive agreement from Ottawa (and, to a less significant degree, in economic and strategic terms, Mexico City as well). The interstitial conflict between the North American NAFTA/USMCA bloc and China crescendoed remarkably in late 2018, following the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, based on an extradition request by Washington for alleged violations of US sanctions laws. The arrest led to a major standoff between Ottawa and Beijing, and has seen the arrest of at least two Canadians in China as possible retaliation for what the Chinese perceive as Canada enforcing an American-led anti-Chinese posture – or, alternatively, as the US using Canada as a key ‘interstitial’ front against China in the North American space or theatre. As we approach the end of 2019 and into the new year, it is not impossible that this front should become increasingly contested – up to and including in quasi-military terms – as these two blocs compete in the near-total absence of proper interstitial governance and understandings. The key question, then, in institutional and international governance terms, is how to build ‘interstitial’ mechanisms – tendons, as it were – between the major geographical blocs, economic and other, such that the relations and interactions between them are minimally frictious and – to be sure – never hostile to the point of portending armed clash. Such interstitial tendons will soon have to be divined and developed between, among others, the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union; the North American (NAFTA 2.0) space and China or China-led blocs; the North American bloc and the Eurasian Economic Union across the weakly governed Arctic space (perhaps a near-term next source of inter-bloc conflict, and one treated in a national mini-conference in Toronto this past July, co-organized by 21CQ and the Government of the Northwest Territories); and, lastly, between the EU and an eventual Middle Eastern or West Asian bloc – to which we now turn. What is the nature or content of these ‘interstitial’ ties or links between blocs? Answer: in the de minimis form, they ought to include joint discussion

and problem-solving fora and personnel exchanges (to unwind deep misunderstandings and develop common frameworks), but also, beyond these, a steady stream of pilot projects, joint inter-bloc projects (and commissions), time-limited special economic zones (under joint or flexible regulation), pushes to coordinate and unify regulatory frameworks, as well as ‘interstitial’ conflict-resolution bodies and arbitrators.

A Security Framework for West Asia (see also Definition at p. 60)

More Asian-Led (Global and International) Institutions The third major area of novelty in global institution-building this century must be the advent of Asian-led and Asian-initiated global institutions – that is, Asian institutions that are intended to solve international problems within and certainly beyond the local Asian geography or theatre. China will evidently be a leader in driving many of these new-century international institutions, as with the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). This is only proper, given China’s new centrality in the global system, and should generally be welcomed by other regions as necessary to the international problem-solving mix, where North America, Europe and the former Soviet space have to date been the dominant regions for driving international mechanisms (and rules). Of course, outside of the aforementioned West Asian dynamic, key regional countries like India, Japan, both Koreas, Indonesia and Singapore will also be possible future drivers of international governance innovation out of East, South and Southeast Asia. International problem-solving can, in general, only profit from the injection of Asian imagination, initiative and energy. Indeed, it may well be Asia that leads in developing early best practices in the interstitial governance discussed above – specifically, by building on extant and evolving practices in relations between China, the East Asian space and the Eurasian Economic Union in what may be called the larger or greater Eurasian space. Could this be expanded to Asian bloc relations with North America? Indubitably. And perhaps starting in the Arctic. A country like Canada has colossal infrastructure challenges in its North, and it is not beyond the thinkable or reasonable that a Canada-China infrastructure-led partnership on Northern and Arctic infrastructure should be the sharp end of the stick both in starting to repair

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As we have long argued in these pages, there is a pressing need to stitch together the West Asian geopolitical space through more inclusive regional security arrangements. The escalating tensions in the region today – including the growing standoff between Iran and the US in the aftermath of the American withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal – only underscore the international imperative, and the region’s own conspicuous responsibility, to find immediate and long-term solutions to the acute security dilemmas of West Asia. West Asia stands almost alone, among all of the world’s major strategic regions, without a regionwide security architecture – one that would allow the theatre to minimize the incidence of war and reduce the incentives to conventional or even nuclear arms races. The absence of such a security architecture places West Asian states, individually and collectively, at a great disadvantage not only in terms of stability, but also in economic terms given the deep institutional underpinnings of modern commercial activity – including the inter-bloc and interstitial relations discussed above. A sharply divided region, without the institutions, structures, mechanisms and processes in place to facilitate proper emergency communication, security dialogue and cooperation, and – to be sure – conflict management to anticipate and prevent the outbreak of conflict is a region that is doomed to long-term decline. The existing, non-inclusive sub-regional security structures in West Asia have been largely ineffective in bringing tangible, sustained security to the region. The limited membership, for instance, of the Gulf Cooperation Council, to the exclusion of other littoral states, has not been conducive to stabilizing the Persian Gulf theatre; quite the opposite. Since its founding a decade ago, GB has persistently made the case for reimagining regional security in West Asia. We have called for a decisive move away from zero-sum conceptions of regional security in favour of a region-wide framework premissed on common security, dialogue and inclusivity, floating different algorithms for how the region can incrementally stitch itself together in the service of

stability and all the good things that come with it. Given the historic centrality and importance of the West Asian theatre to the peace and security of all connected regional theatres – and to international peace and security more generally – there is great urgency for practical steps to be taken to advance the vision long commended in these pages. On top of thematic conferences and ad hoc public and private interventions in the region, track 1.5 and track 2 work should assume especial significance. The emergence of political heroes to drive these efforts to region-wide success will also be fundamental.


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International problemsolving can, in general, only profit from the injection of Asian imagination, initiative and energy. Indeed, it may well be Asia that leads the way in developing early best practices in the aforementioned interstitial governance.


relations between Ottawa and Beijing, but also to begin conscientiously building interstitial links between the continental blocs. (One can imagine Russia, the US and select European Nordic states soon joining this initial interstitial infrastructure ‘consortium’ for the North as a way of deepening these links across at least four blocs or strategic theatres – to wit, North America, Asia, the Eurasian Economic Union and, of course, the EU. (Let us add, as was raised during the recent national miniconference in Toronto, that it is not impossible that the Canadian Arctic – perhaps through a city like Yellowknife – should serve as both a transport and, more globally, a psychological hub that connects all of these major Arctic plates, much like Singapore does in Southeast Asia or Dubai in West Asia.) What are other areas, on top of infrastructure, in which China in particular, and Asian-led blocs in general, can lead the way in driving international problem-solving, including the generalization of approaches to other regional blocs? Answer: cyber, space, weapons and armaments (including newcentury nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weapons), oceans, the environment (including climate change) and, to be sure, various species of new technology, science and ethical problems (from nanotechnology to genetics). For now, based on 21CQ’s consultations, it does not seem like an East Asian or whole-of-Asia security framework is anywhere near to being on the policy table in any plurality of regional countries.

UN and Other Institutions – De Minimis Approaches While international institutions can and must play an important role in international problemsolving – and, by implication, in national problemsolving in many cases – we remain extremely humble before the reality that ‘formal’ institutions cannot and will never be able to solve all of this century’s major international challenges. The UN Security Council, for the foreseeable future, remains a central component of both global security and global problem-solving not in its ability to comprehensively represent or tackle these problems but rather, in a de minimis sense, because it maximizes the chances of there not being conflict among the great, nuclear-armed powers. More precisely, the Security Council, despite its many imperfections and inability to represent even all the major and nuclear powers of the day (the central question among several important vectors in Security Council reform), the veto powers of the five permanent members (the US, Russia, China, the UK and France) rather ingeniously ensures that there are no conditions under which these leading

powers could enter into direct military confrontation between or among themselves under the formal sanction of international law. In other words, such a great-power war could happen indirectly or illegally, but not directly and legally. As direct war between and among the great powers has, happily, effectively not taken place since WW2 and the very creation of the UN, one can only conclude that the de minimis logic of the Security Council, undergirded by a culture of constant assembly, communication and public debate among the great powers, and perhaps also an inference by these great powers in respect of where the ‘red lines’ of the opposite great powers lie, has allowed the world to avoid cataclysmic armed conflict on a cross-continental or global scale. Thus far. This would seem to be a good thing. Of course, there has been – and continues to be – military conflict on a less-than-global or intercontinental scale. This is a less good thing. There has been genocide, there have been many cases of mass atrocity, and there continue to be episodes of illegal war and warfare. India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers and both not permanent or veto-wielding members of the Security Council, still co-exist as border neighbours under the spectre of nuclear conflict (see the Feature article by Ramesh Thakur at p. 36). The Council can certainly do more in respect of atrocity crime prevention, including by lending effective support to efforts aimed at bringing accountability for such crimes. Among the numerous proposals that have been floated to this end is that of a Security Council Code of Conduct that essentially calls on Council members to refrain from voting against fit-for-purpose draft resolutions intended to prevent and address atrocity crimes. Over 100 UN member states – including P5 countries (specifically France and the UK) – have signed on to the Code. But these performance gaps do not compromise the grand function and utility of the Security Council – as the Council, by its very logic, does not and cannot promise to eliminate these major problems. It is not a de maximis structure. And so we can certainly improve on the representativity and operations of the Security Council at the margin, but it is not Security Council reform as such, or even improved operations or functioning or the ‘good will’ of permanent members (or the removal of so-called ‘capricious vetoes’) that will serve as a panacea to solve the world’s major ills outside of the core imperative of preventing military cataclysm. If the Security Council plays its due (minimalistic) part, then there must be other international mecha-

nisms and institutions that build on its foundation (or ‘understructure,’ as it were) in order to address broader issues – non-war and war alike. And indeed, there are many, including the new-century variants we discuss above. Still, we should like to stress that the classical logic of the late Australian Hedley Bull, in his precocious book, The Anarchical Society (1977), continues to play an important role in linking the de minimis character of the Security Council to the following types of mechanisms and informal ‘institutions,’ so as to allow the essential ‘anarchy’ of the world to approximate a quasi-‘society,’ as it were: • war (yes, war or force as an international mechanism – and hopefully one that, as discussed below, can be driven to a minimum this century) • diplomacy (in both its classical and evolving forms) • international law (to which we now turn) • balance of power • great powers


The UN Security Council remains a central component of global security and problemsolving not in its ability to comprehensively represent or tackle these problems but because it maximizes the chances of there not being conflict among the great powers. The ICC’s operating environment is evidently complex. It does not have a monopoly on accountability for atrocity crimes – that is, it acts only where it has jurisdiction and serves as a court of last resort. The primary responsibility for investigation and prosecution still rests with national authorities. Bref, for the Court to perform consistently and succeed over the long run in delivering its mandate, it must continue to act strictly within this mandate, jealously guarding its independence and impartiality, drawing regularly on the cooperation of states, the UN, regional bodies and other relevant stakeholders. And yet we must allow, on this logic, that some problems of international significance will not be solved in any meaningful way, and some wars not avoided. The circle of mechanisms and institutions expands from the de minimis and critical, in other words, toward the desirable, but always short of total coverage. The magnitude of the gap of unsolved problems turns on the ambition, imagination, inventiveness and energy of humankind this century – and whatever cannot be solved in spite of an existing ambition can only be described, existentially, as part of the tragedy of (strategic) life and the world. | GB

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e support the basic logic that these institutions, working in varying combinations, continue to provide the central mix of means to the end of solving most international problems. This means that international law, while clearly important to human and state conduct around the world, cannot alone solve pathologies like war, genocide and a host of non-military challenges (many of which are noted above). It is a necessary condition, but it necessarily also operates in concert with institutions like diplomacy (led by conflict mediation), great-power balances and even the pressure of potential war or the legal use of force in order to drive various outcomes that tend toward resolution of international problems. As noted, the relative weight of war as an ‘institution’ in international affairs must be driven conscientiously to a minimum. The principles of jus ad bellum (consistent with the UN Charter) and jus in bello must therefore become increasingly accepted in practice and regularly applied. Much international progress has been made in this regard, but much work remains still to strengthen the will and capacity of nations to ensure effective adherence and enforcement. There is perhaps no modern development more consequential in this regard than the adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998 and the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC was created – in the aftermath of the atrocities of WW2, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and other wars and conflicts – as an independent, treaty-based judicial institution that would aim to hold individuals criminally responsible for the world’s most egregious crimes – to wit, genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The Court’s jurisdiction over the

crime of aggression was triggered last year. Over 120 states have ratified the Rome Statute. With the ICC, the system-wide message is that the unchecked commission of mass atrocities to advance political objectives is no longer an acceptable norm – or that, at a minimum, there is a normative push in the opposite direction, toward greater accountability for perpetrators without distinction based on official capacity. (By its very existence, the Court contributes to the cultivation of norms and serves as an impetus for efforts at national and regional levels to address and prevent atrocity crimes.) In this sense, the ICC, as a central institution of international criminal justice in particular, and international law more generally, plays a critical stabilizing role in the broader international system. It also doubtless plays a material role in atrocity and conflict prevention through general and specific deterrence.




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an we Canadians think for ourselves? One can be forgiven for asking the question more than 150 years after Confederation – when Canadians can justly be proud of a peaceable, sophisticated and highly civilized country that has long been admired around the world. But ask it we must. For the Canadian today rises in the morning to an alarm tone from his iPhone, checks his Twitter account for the latest micro-meditations of the American president, scans his Facebook feed for the freshest American political tumult and Hollywood kitsch, and, if he at all has a moment to spare, turns to LinkedIn to get essentially the same cultural content packaged for slightly more polite company. Just before jetting out the door, he may find deep inspiration in the newest Instagram-enhanced quotes from Mayor Pete of South Bend, Indiana, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Tucker Carlson – telling him how the world works and how to BY IRVIN STUDIN live the good life. He dutifully reposts and tweets these out to his Canadian comrades, all within 30 seconds, as variously “brilliant,” “jarring” or “troubling.” Canadian friends and colleagues will in turn repost and retweet these same quotes as if cutting-edge, if not altogether Talmudic in authority. Doubtless pressed, she may have just enough time to grab a double-double from Tim Hortons as her daily patriotic ritual, forgetting that Tim’s has by now long been owned and controlled by American capital. As she speeds to work in her Ford or, more progressively, Tesla, she will turn on the radio to take in the newest melodies made in New York, LA and Tennessee, interspersed with the morning news, including from the CBC, the storied national broadcaster, about the latest tweets from the American president, the Mueller Report, Kim Kardashian and some random ‘bomb cyclone’ over and above Colorado. CBC Radio will, as if on cue, have a handful of American experts, lumpen or otherwise, on hand to provide commentary – or, better still, Canadian experts professing to be similarly enthusiastic about the American condition. This Canadian will, to be sure, anxiously await the latest debrief from the previous night’s hockey matches, eventually translated as San Jose 1, Arizona 0; Columbus 3, Buffalo 2; and finally, Las Vegas 5, Anaheim 0. Hockey Night in Canada. The Toronto Raptors are playing, you say? They are, we are told, ‘Canada’s team’ – the only ‘Canadian’ team, for a population approaching 38 million, in a league of 30 teams operated out of New York, with only one, largely non-playing Canadian on the roster. In baseball, they find their analogue in the Blue Jays, also ‘Canada’s (lone) team’ among 30, and also with one lone Canadian – nay, perhaps two, I am told – on the roster. The radio plays a clip from the Ontario premier of the day, one Doug Ford, asserting that the economies that his government is excising from the spending structure of the province are strictly “for the people” – unwittingly channelling his inner Kennedy and Lincoln. The Prime Minister, slightly more knowingly, liberally quotes from Obama and, yes, Kennedy again. (A quote

But can it? Amid all the noise, does it even see the problem? What’s to be done, and how to escape the shackles of ‘aw shucks’ nationalism?

Irvin Studin is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Global Brief.

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on Parliament Hill from any Father of Confederation could today be met with near-total bemusement.) On his lunch break, the Canadian, competently schooled and perhaps even a bibliophile, may stop by an Indigo store to leaf though the latest literary offerings. Fancying that culture should follow demography, he might be surprised – if he should even notice – that the ratio of non-Canadian to Canadian books and magazines is not in the order of 10 to one, as per the relative populations of the US and Canada (and per the conventional wisdom), but instead closer to 50 to one. Not to worry, the Canadian may counter – for everything has gone online. In the event, then, the ratio is no longer 50 to one in our disfavour, but rather some 1,000 to one American versus Canadian websites – to say nothing of the ingeniously American multipliers supplied by the social media giants of California. And good on them. After a long day’s work, he may wind down before his computer screen to catch a series or movie on Netflix – putatively a great new driver of Canadian art. And he may, just before calling it a night, watch the start of the Canadian evening news: a perfunctory prime ministerial speech in Ottawa, followed by the arrest of Jussie Smollett (who?) in Chicago, and some non sequitur reporting on a small military skirmish somewhere in the Middle East, apparently requiring our Washington correspondent (yes, the Canadian report comes from Washington) to repeat the latest talking points from the White House, Pentagon or State Department. We are to understand that the Americans know their stuff. As her final good deed for the day, she may call her first-born son, proudly studying for an MBA at a leading Canadian business school. Upon enquiring whether he and his talented classmates were plotting to create, upon imminent graduation, a nextgeneration Canadian response to Google or Amazon, the son may confirm that the more acceptable – even glorified – path would be, nay, to instead work for these impressive outfits. Tomorrow, when she rises to a country safe, wellfed and happy, will be the same as today – as per the national expectation.


The Consequences of Not Thinking for Ourselves Canadian politics in this early new century is, at its basest, almost exclusively about comfort and the perpetuation of the comfortable condition. This is less a denunciation of the national politics and cadence of a successful country than a statement of empirical fact. For Canada today suffers from the great paradox of its enormous practical success: the comfort built by our forefathers and mothers, combined with longstanding relative national good fortune, makes it exceedingly difficult to allow for

serious consideration of sustained national work and pressure in the service of longer-term plans, imperatives and ambitions – the very types of distant vectors and projects that animated the imaginations of the founders of the country. If the prevailing political instinct is the search for comfort and its consolidation, then the strategic instinct in Canada is constitutionally predetermined as psychological subordination to an imperial mothership, very occasionally interrupted by spurts of quasi-insubordination – although never outright or sustained rebellion. (We speak here of a deeply colonial psyche, largely undisturbed, for more than a century and a half, by domestic cataclysm or extreme international pressures.) The Canadian of this early 21st century might be offended to hear this, but such sensitivity should only betray his forgetfulness about the genetic circumstances of his own country’s creation. After all, it is the founding document of Canada – the Constitution Act of 1867 – that states very clearly in its preamble: “And whereas such a Union would conduce to the Welfare of the Provinces and promote the Interests of the British Empire.” Few Canadians have thought seriously to excise this telling phrase. Indeed, no one today writes about it at all. Said the intrepid founding prime minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald: “England will have in us a friendly nation – a subordinate but still a powerful people to stand by her in North America in peace or in war.” In other words, contrary to the modern-day pedagogy, Confederation was not an independence moment for Canada, but rather a gambit by enterprising, self-consciously colonial leaders to fashion a federating structure or aegis that would unite four British North American colonies (provinces) so as to give a strategic aesthetic against Britain’s natural enemy of the day – the US – at that time just recovering from civil war, but otherwise highly militarized and well disposed to northern annexation. Of course, the strategic miracle of Canada in the late 19th and full 20th centuries was that we managed to convert our natural enemy into our closest friend, ally and economic partner. In the same process, Canadian popular and political culture – in particular after WW2 and the final fall of the British Empire – began not so much to approximate American culture as to increasingly take its cues, fads and fetishes from the US, now substituting in the Canadian strategic psyche as the imperial mothership by juxtaposition with which Canadians were becoming, slowly but surely, ‘subordinate but still powerful.’ During the Cold War and in the two decades following its conclusion, the general compact between Canada and the US was one of amicable strategic subordination, conscious and unconscious alike, by Ottawa to Washington in external affairs – again,

But then again, what if the Americans should themselves continue to commit grave mistakes, or make decisions that, while appearing irresistibly wise on their face, are manifestly contrary to the Canadian national interest? The problématique repeats itself – for Canada patently does not have the national platforms, vocabulary, intellectual frameworks, and proper mentality today to decisively recognize the mistake (the compromised Canadian interest) and, to be sure, to make the necessary moves to resist and remedy it (to reaffirm or reinstate the Canadian interest). In the negotiation of NAFTA 2.0, known by now as the USMCA, Canada agreed to what was manifestly a US-invented or inspired clause requiring that Ottawa receive the agreement of Washington (and Mexico City) should Canada ever wish to pursue a free-trade agreement with China – the leading economic competitor of the US, Canada’s second most important trading partner, the world’s soonto-be leading economy, and the stated number one adversary of the Trump administration. As I asked in my “Open Letter to the Prime Minister” in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of GB, how could Canada ever agree to such a provision, and then presume to politically glorify the overall treaty as a Canadian success story? Did we not realize that China is not only the most important country of the early 21st century, but also, more critically, immediately at our western border? Did we not realize that Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Vancouver are all closer to Beijing than is Sydney, Australia? The Chinese know this cold. Why not us? Answer: Because we Canadians are entirely immersed and embedded in the American frame – thinking and working, de facto, in an American vocabulary. We allowed the Americans, even in their present diminished and compromised strategic and political form, to do the strategic thinking for us, presuming that they ultimately knew what would be best for our own country, even as they naturally pursued and, as advertised, privileged their own national interest. After all, if not them, then who? We had no answers. We did not even know, and still do not know, how to frame the central problem. And when the problem began to crescendo – that is, when, after the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, on the request of Washington, at the Vancouver international airport, the Chinese began arresting Canadians in China – we Canadians again turned to the US, and to the Trump administration no less, to ask for help in exiting the crisis. For we had no other gear, no other game, and no other strategic imagination to generate or from which to draw ideas. In the cultural and sporting realms, the same dynamic prevails – often patently contrary to the Canadian interest. At the 2016 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Canada’s men’s hockey team, the two-

The Canadian today rises in the morning to an alarm tone from his iPhone, checks his Twitter account for the latest micromeditations of the American president, and scans his Facebook feed for the freshest American political tumult and Hollywood kitsch.

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with irregular and even notorious episodes of quasiinsubordination or disagreement – but powerful political and far less powerful Canadian economic and cultural independence (conscious and unconscious alike) from the US in matters domestic. Today, however, as we approach the end of the third post-Cold war decade, the logic of this compact with the US, which has delivered peace, ever-increasing material wealth and a general social happiness to Canada (and, it must be said, to the US as well) over the course of at least seven consecutive decades, should lead thinking Canadians to ask the following: What happens when the US has lost its way in its political behaviour and culture, and when it is no longer a trustworthy ally or source of reasonable or impressive advice and judgement in foreign or international affairs? Can we Canadians properly think for ourselves in the context of American political radicalization and strategic incoherence? This much is not obvious. And that has nothing to do with the education or intellect of the Canadian. It has, instead, to do with the deep Canadian instinct to strategic and cultural subordination – conditioned and consolidated over the course of at least 15 decades – and, perhaps just as importantly (and desperately), the growing informational dominance of the US over Canada; or in other words, the accelerating cannibalization of the weak and platform-poor Canadian information space by the ever-expanding American information space. The growing immersion of the Canadian in the American information space, through America’s far superior cultural and media platforms – sporadically described above – means that the Canadian, if he at all can, amid all the noise and fury, even be fully seized of his country’s wicked dilemma of subordination and deep deference to a foreign country that should no longer be seen as a political exemplar or a strategic guarantor, can hardly muster the requisite independent vocabulary to articulate a national exit plan. Knowing precious little, in any felt way, of China, Singapore, India, Israel or Australia, the Canadian may, if pressed, search for lessons learned from the erstwhile mothership, the UK – only to find, alas, that the Britons, crippled by Brexit and still smarting from several massive foreign policy mistakes of commission, are themselves even less impressive and more incoherent, politically and strategically, than the Americans of our day. So what’s to be done? For now, we Canadians quite obliviously double down, deny (national pride oblige) the problem or downplay its magnitude, and presume or pray that the Americans will, at the margin, still know what they are doing or otherwise make decisions that, even if primarily in the US interest, will continue to supply significant dividends of well-being to Canada and its citizens.


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The Canadian of this early 21st century might be offended to hear this, but such sensitivity should only betray his forgetfulness about the genetic circumstances of his own country’s creation.


time defending gold medallists and the best team on the planet, simply declined to show up, for all practical intents and purposes, to defend the gold medal. Why? Answer: Because the National Hockey League, based in New York City and run, at the executive level, by Americans, decreed that it would not permit its players, including all of its Canadian stars, to participate in the Olympics. There was negligible Canadian protest at this decision – official or informal alike – and Canada proceeded to lose the Olympic competition with a team populated by far weaker, largely non-NHL players. Quaere: Would France react so timorously were a foreign league to decree that France’s soccer virtuosos could not represent their country in the next World Cup in order to defend their title? Would New Zealand ever tolerate such a spectacle were members of the All-Blacks barred by European leagues from representing their country in the rugby World Cup?

How Do We Think for Ourselves? Thinking for ourselves is not an affirmation of Canadian pride or stubborn intent. It is a habit of mind, supported by national assets. Like the boxer who punches not with his fingers but rather with the torso, the mental repositioning of Canada requires a bulwark of resources, relationships and rewiring (realignments) both to allow the Canadian psyche to see more clearly, consciously and capaciously beyond its present circumstances, and to give it the wherewithal to resist, endure and execute. Bref, Canada thinking for itself means a Canada that cultivates a term-setting mentality – as distinct from today’s manifestly term-taking Canadian mentality. And if term-setting is a habit of mind, then this Canadian mind must be populated by properly Canadian mental frameworks, reference points and vocabulary. All of these have, at the time of this writing, still to be invented or reinvented, generalized across the population or its decision-making classes, and solidified for practice. That is the only way in which Canada can find its way out of the present noise and avoid a potentially catastrophic collapse of national decision-making in the context of near-total envelopment by the American machine. So what’s to be done? Five moves are at play for Canada.

Move No. 1: French and Other Languages The question of language in Canada has traditionally been viewed in domestic terms – to wit, how to protect and, eventually, officialize the French language in order to better secure the political loyalty of the country’s sizable francophone minority in general, and Quebec in particular. Thus far, 150-plus years into Confederation, Canada has been successful, even if sometimes precariously, in securing this French-Canadian loyalty with but 18 percent of the

national population functionally bilingual in the two official languages. In order to be able to ‘think for ourselves’ and develop a proper Canadian strategic imagination and vocabulary, Canada must begin to see language not only as an internal question, but rather as one that is critical to creating the intellectual ‘degrees of freedom’ that can allow Canadians to develop a bona fide national vocabulary – en route, let us hope, to a properly Canadian ‘school of international affairs.’ To think of language as strategically essential to clear Canadian thinking means that Canada should maximally lever its French-language distinction in order to blunt, offset or diversify away from the blinding noise of English-language bombardment from American-based media and cultural platforms with which Canadian messaging cannot at present substantially compete. This means driving FrenchEnglish bilingualism well beyond the present rate and closer to two-thirds, if not three-quarters, of the national population of the country within a generation. Facility in French will open Canada’s English-language leaders and decision-makers to reference points, literature and sources of information other than the US (or UK) – consistent, again, with what is required for a properly Canadian school of international affairs. All of this begins to approximate the national languages strategy about which I have been writing in the pages of GB for the last decade. In other words, two strategic moves in language policy are in play for Canada: first, generalize the bilingual condition across the population within a generation; and second, create critical masses of Canadians who are fluent in a third language – foreign or indigenous – consistent with Canada’s various international interests and pressures (to which we turn below), as well as with the broader reconciliation agenda vis-à-vis the country’s Aboriginal population.

Move No. 2: New Relationships, New Learning and the National Mental Map Canada can only think for itself if it broadens its roster of deep, differentiated relationships with key countries outside of the principal source of its present non-thinking – the all-encompassing US relationship. Only by cultivating such deep state-to-state and, indispensably, people-to-people relationships with other major countries at our borders – starting with, per the ‘ACRE’ framework that ought to animate our core interests, China, Russia and leading European countries outside of the UK – can Canada seriously source the inputs for the ‘strange brew’ that should make up a Canadian strategic and political psychology that is properly original and not subordinate or subsumed to the American one (or to any other country down the road). Indeed, only through this ‘strange brew’ can a future Canadian strategic and

Move No. 3: 100 Million Canadians as Telos, Metaphor and Term-Setting The 100 million Canadians construct about which I have been writing over the last decade is, to be clear, not primarily a vision of demography. Nay, it is even

more about metaphor than it is about population quantum, and certainly far more about the idea of ‘kinetic’ national planning, vision and fantasy for Canada than about specific prescriptions for, say, immigration. As a metaphor, then, the idea of 100 million Canadians by the year 2100 suggests to Canadians an ‘end point’ or ‘telos’ toward which the country is conscientiously building – juxtaposed, patently, with the present longstanding absence of any clear national project or ‘north star.’ The telos (and its existence) in itself causes the Canadian and Canadians as a collective to focus his and their energies and ambitions, and to will all of the means and inputs necessary to move the country toward this end state. It just so happens, of course, that this end state is a larger, more capacious, more potent Canada that, in demographic terms, becomes the second largest country in all of the West by 2100 – larger than any country in the EU, and perhaps even larger than Russia – with all the capabilities, assets and marge de manoeuvre that attend such scale. Bref, many things being equal, the Canadian at 100 million, and even en route to 100 million, thinks for himself – and self-consciously so. As a country, at 100 million, Canada, even at onequarter or so the size of the US (if it itself still exists in any recognizable form by century’s end – see my Feature article at p. 14), definitively acquires the ability to ‘think for itself’ in terms of both ends and means. It can set the terms of its interior existence just as it can press more meaningfully and muscularly the terms, conditions and goals of various international debates, movements and projects, including through a far more efficient capacity to lead and fashion international alliances and coalitions. Just as importantly, this Canada, as I have suggested previously, comes with a ‘big country’ mentality – one disposed to take ‘big country’ positions and drive them to their logical conclusion. And this psychology is, critically, diametrically hostile to the ‘aw shucks’ school of Canadian nationalism that treats marginalia as national trophies just as it struggles to articulate a coherent Canadian political or strategic theory of the country in the context of near-total identification with the term-setting civilization to Canada’s south.

Move No. 4: Invest in Canadian Platforms at all Costs. Control – yes, control – the Canadian Information Space. Thinking for itself will require Canada to invest conspicuously in existing and brand-new platforms – stubbornly in the national interest, and necessarily against the pressure to let the much larger, more prolific and more energetic American machine drive the national thinking. Without such investments and platforms – many of them manifestly uneconomic in the first instance –

What happens when the US has lost its way in its political behaviour and culture, and when it is no longer a trustworthy ally or source of reasonable or impressive advice and judgement in foreign or international affairs?

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political psychology reckon with the American one head-on, as a reasonable equal. As I have noted before in these pages, Canada needs many more embassies and bona fide relationships in the former Soviet space, Asia and Africa. It needs these not only pro forma, but so that we can comb the entire world, regardless of political system or ideology, for lessons and best practices on how to solve our own problems. (Has Canada nothing to learn from China at all? The supposition is absurd on its face. But the question is itself, absurdly, seldom asked by the Canadian side.) And this is, fundamentally, in order to decouple official Canadian thinking from the deep-seated disposition to do comparative policy analysis almost exclusively based on the American experience – in extremis, the British experience also, but always confining the Canada policy and strategic imagination to the culturally comfortable and the colonially familiar. Of course, when this AngloAmerican comfort zone falls behind in the quality and credibility of its judgements and performance, the strategic and policy cost of continuing to presume in it best practices means that Canada can only fall further and further behind. Expansion of Canada’s relationships, today, is also essential to addressing a key recent, arguably unexpected trend in Canadian foreign affairs – to wit, the rapid accumulation of powerful enemies. These enemies include China and Russia at our immediate borders, but also Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The total population of these enemy countries exceeds two billion. This compares with an ‘allied’ population of roughly one billion – specifically comprising the US and the NATO members of Europe. Bref, this is a two-to-one enemy-to-ally ratio for Canada in general, and a slightly greater ratio of enemies to allies immediately at our borders, according to the ACRE framework. From the standpoint of Canadian survival and success, not only is such a net balance of enemies and enemies-at-the-gates dangerous, but it also suggests that Canada’s efforts to diversify economically and intellectually outside of our said comfort zone – or to undertake any number of international policy pushes – will be actively blocked or vetoed by adversarial interests. In other words, the rapid accretion of enemies can only serve to confirm Canada in its present state of deep nonthinking at the very moment when Canada needs its own thinking not only to get ahead, as it were, but also for purely existential purposes in the context of an ‘America First’ framework that suggests that the US will, in a pinch, not necessarily defend Canada.


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Let us never again see Canada’s North in general – and the Canadian Arctic in particular – as geographically remote, or as somehow marginal to, or subordinate within, Canada’s political and strategic imagination. Nay, the North and Arctic are, today, at the very heart of the matter.


there can be no basis, tout court, for national thinking. There can be no national thinking without a reasonably common national literature (digital and physical alike), a common vision of our geography, and a common and properly national political and strategic vocabulary – bref, without a proper national imagination and reasonable Canadian control of the Canadian information space. Indeed, I am of the view that it is stateled (not state-controlled) platforms, across the broadcasting and media modes – from television to radio, the internet, social media, and all species of next-generation platforms – that should drive the revival of Canadian platforms. This would mean very significant expansion and a decisive transition up the value chain in quality for the CBC, or indeed a wholesale reorganization of the CBC into a properly bilingual English-French broadcaster, with indigenous and foreign-language CBC channels and platforms added for good measure, and with a several-fold increase in the number of top CBC reporters across the Canadian territory and in key theatres on all the continents of the world. Controlling the Canadian information space means just that. It means that Canada must have a robust counterthesis to the present reliance on uniquely American social media algorithms and media platforms to drive the national reading, and on dominant American entertainment companies like Netflix to drive production of national culture. This will require strict national regulation of these platforms, and muscular national support and execution of properly Canadian platforms and frameworks – all supported by a stubborn (hardheaded) national decision-making class that nudges the country into the term-setting realm. It will, at core, require a transition in Canadian official thinking away from the new ‘digital charter’ axis of preoccupation with individual privacy, which misdiagnoses the central Canadian challenge in the digital space, and toward a steadfast national preoccupation with ‘who’ creates and runs the digital platforms, where they are based and incorporated, how they are captured by Canadian law and requirements, and what is being done more generally in Canada to ensure that such platforms have the requisite scale and talent to succeed and support a Canadian imagination.

Move No. 5: Canada’s North and Arctic as the New Centre of the World Let us never again see Canada’s North in general – and the Canadian Arctic in particular – as geographically remote, or as somehow marginal to, or subordinate within, Canada’s political and strategic imagination. Nay, the North and Arctic are, today, at the very heart of the matter. Let me explain succinctly.

Climate change oblige, the ACRE framework that brings Russia (the ‘R’) into an immediate neighbourto-neighbour relationship with Canada also gives leading Northern Canadian cities like Yellowknife, Inuvik and Whitehorse an historic opportunity to position themselves as Dubai- or Singapore-like transportation hubs. Yellowknife, for instance, could, through deliberate planning and term-setting behaviour, position itself as one of the world’s most important new transport hubs – for starters, by air, for passenger and cargo traffic alike – connecting China to the west (and, by extension, Northeast and Southeast Asia), Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union to the immediate north, Northern Europe (and, by extension, all of the EU) to the immediate east, and, to be sure, America and the continental US via Alaska. Framed in these terms, which are perfectly real and realistic, the Canadian Arctic suddenly finds itself – if only we Canadians can properly think of it so – geographically very close to, and at the immediate crossroads of a consumer market totalling well over two billion people. This is more than six times larger than the present American market that holds a near-monopoly on our national policy and cultural imagination. And yet it still includes this massive US market, as it does our important European markets. Yellowknife is, as noted, closer to China than is Sydney or even Brisbane, Australia. But it is also far closer to Murmansk, St. Petersburg and Moscow than is Toronto, and closer to continental Europe via the Nordic states than is Montreal. Bref, Yellowknife in particular, and Canada more generally, if only we can recognize our own reality, sits at the intersection of most of the world’s great economic blocs – to wit, NAFTA or NAFTA 2.0, the EU, the Eurasian Economic Union and, to be sure, the increasingly colossal Chinese-led and Asian blocs. What is now necessary for Canada is to refine the intellectual construction – the very basis upon which Singapore and Dubai became hubs out of a swamp and desert, respectively – and to build at pace and scale. I shall write about the Arctic and Canada’s Arctic future at length in the next issue of GB, but suffice it to stress here that the repositioning of Canada’s North and Arctic as at the very centre of this newcentury world not only lessens the banal present fixation on the southern border, but also forces Canada to begin to act as a self-conscious, mindful term-setter – to survive, first and foremost, in the context of the opening up of the Arctic, and second, in order to drive the more general rules of the game for Arctic transportation, economics, people-to-people relations, science and, of course, in environmental terms across this entire new theatre. | GB


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NEZ À NEZ Mass Migration, Open Societies and the Populist Tide PROPOSITION:

Asylum leads to populism / L’asile mène au populisme


Michael Barutciski est rédacteur adjoint de Global Brief.

Wolfgang Krieger is Emeritus University Professor of Modern History and the History of International Relations at the University of

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Marburg, Germany.


MB (pour): L’admission non contrôlée des demandeurs d’asile contribue à ébranler l’establishment politique dans les démocraties libérales. Qu’il s’agisse de la réaction européenne/allemande aux flux massifs sur la route des Balkans en 2015-2016, ou l’accueil des flux constants sur le chemin Roxham par la Gendarmerie royale canadienne ces deux dernières années, ou la manière que les États-Unis ont essayé de contrôler les «caravanes» à la frontière mexicaine ces derniers mois (voir Cabinet Room à la page 55), on constate que ces mouvements migratoires affaiblissent la confiance des populations d’accueil qui comptent sur leur gouvernements à protéger la souveraineté territoriale. Il y a évidemment de bonnes raisons humanitaires pour accorder l’admission (temporaire) aux migrants qui demandent l’asile, mais dans le contexte actuel cette ouverture mènera paradoxalement à l’effondrement du système de protection des réfugiés. Si ce problème est mal géré, il risque de provoquer l’étincelle pour la révolte populaire contre les partis politiques traditionnels. Le problème résulte en bonne partie d’une confusion générale concernant les principes de protection des réfugiés. On veut paraitre «humanitaire», mais nos engagements concrets trahissent une autre dimension plus cynique. Ce n’est pas par hasard que la Convention sur les réfugiés ne mentionne pas le mot «asile» dans ses 46 articles. Depuis l’échec diplomatique de la Conférence sur l’asile territorial tenue à Genève en 1977, il n’y a eu aucune tentative d’aborder l’asile dans un traité parrainé par l’ONU. Pour ceux qui veulent protéger les réfugiés, il faut improviser car le droit d’asile historique n’a presque rien à voir avec la situation actuelle. Même le droit d’asile moderne, fondé sur l’idée de protection contre la persécution étatique, est limité dans sa pertinence aux problèmes actuels. Après tout, il a été conçu avec l’idée qu’un État souverain aurait le droit d’accorder l’asile, pas qu’un individu aurait le droit d’obtenir la protection. La notion plus récente de revendication des droits des réfugiés, parue pour la première fois en 1928, est elle-même

limitée dans la mesure où l’octroi de l’asile ne fait pas partie des obligations assumées par les États. Les problèmes actuels découlent plus précisément de la démocratisation des mouvements migratoires due aux transports et technologies modernes. Les migrants voyagent maintenant de longues distances de façon relativement autonome et peuvent revendiquer le statut de réfugié dans des pays lointains. En d’autres mots, il y a un plus grand nombre de candidats d’origines diverses. Les réserves exprimées en 1951 lors de la signature de la Convention sur les réfugiés demeurent toujours pertinentes: comme le représentant de la Suisse a déclaré en discutant de l’interdiction du refoulement, «les États ne sont pas obligés d’admettre à franchir leur frontière des groupes considérables de personnes réclamant le statut des réfugiés». Plusieurs délégations ont exprimé le même avis, comme on voit dans l’intervention du représentant de la France: «Un pays ne peut contracter une obligation inconditionnelle à l’égard de personnes sur lesquelles il est difficile d’exercer un contrôle et parmi lesquelles peuvent se glisser des éléments indésirables. Le problème est d’ordre moral et psychologique et, pour le résoudre, il faut tenir compte des réactions possibles de l’opinion publique». Si l’on veut préserver le système de protection, il faut reconnaître la légitimité de ces réserves et admettre que, depuis plusieurs années, un nombre important de migrants cherchent l’asile dans les démocraties occidentales. Les règles juridiques internationales sont pertinentes, surtout dans la mesure où leur nature consensuelle révèle la dynamique politique sousjacente au débat sur l’asile: nos gouvernements refusent d’accepter explicitement dans un traité la proposition libérale selon laquelle n’importe qui aurait la possibilité de demander l’asile dans n’importe quel pays. Autrement dit, l’analyse juridique montre qu’on ne puisse pas imposer une vision libérale de l’asile sur une population d’accueil qui est préoccupée par la souveraineté territoriale. Même dans une perspective humanitaire, il

faut toujours être franc par rapport à nos engagements réels: est-ce que l’Amérique du Nord ou l’Europe peuvent accueillir un nombre illimité de demandeurs d’asile? Comme suggère le titre d’un article récent du magazine américain The Atlantic: “If Liberals Won’t Enforce Borders, Fascists Will.”


Migrants cross the Suchiate River, which delimits the border between Guatemala and Mexico, in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, June 2019.

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WK (opposed): We need to look far beyond the largely legal questions of asylum and immigration laws and conventions. Let us start with the statistics. During the 1960s and 1970s, France received about 300 requests per year for asylum. In 2018, there were some 120,000 such requests. Those numbers illustrate the jump from a limited quantum of political refugees – mostly from communist Europe – to mass migration that peaked in 2015, when nearly a million refugees came to Germany alone, with many more arriving elsewhere in Europe. Altogether, the EU registered 1.25 million refugees in 2015, another 1.3 million in 2016, and 730,000 in 2017. None of this would have happened had EU border controls worked according to the law. But they did not and could not, given the sheer numbers and the prevailing political atmosphere. While France’s Socialist President François Hollande managed to keep the numbers of refugees down – at least initially – Germany’s more conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the borders, pronounced her famous

“Refugees are Welcome,” and then struggled with the consequences of what became a complete loss of governmental and administrative control on a scale never seen in the country since 1945. For its part, the EU – one administrative level up – added yet another item to its already long list of massive political failures, including the sovereign debt crisis, the Ukraine conflict (see Strategic Futures at p. 62) and, of course, Brexit. The EU regime of external border controls failed outright, while the abolition of internal controls under the EU Schengen Agreements of 1985 and 1990 became a primary driver and accelerator of the refugee chaos within the continental territory of the Union. But there is a case of political ideology as well. Had this massive influx been what governments and the media proclaimed it to be – that is, a wave of refugee families from war-torn Syria – the Europeans would have been highly sympathetic. They would have assumed, as they did during the Yugoslav refugee crisis of the 1990s, that most of these people would eventually return home. But this was manifestly not the case in 2015. Only a fraction – fewer than 30 percent – actually fled from Syria, and well over 70 percent were men, and mostly young men at that. This composition did not change subsequently. In Germany, in the first half of 2019, only some 20 percent of asylum demands were made by Syr-


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Pour ceux qui veulent protéger les réfugiés, il faut improviser car le droit d’asile historique n’a presque rien à voir avec la situation actuelle. Même le droit d’asile moderne, fondé sur l’idée de protection contre la persécution étatique, est limité dans sa pertinence aux problèmes actuels.


ian nationals. The majority of the refugees came from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans – not from Syria. Many of the Syrian refugees – mostly healthy young men – appeared to have abandoned their families. Almost all were Muslims. This meant that, in truth, Europe was helping only a very small sample of those who were suffering most from the Syrian civil war, ISIS violence, militia warfare and government brutality. Bref, Europe was simply overwhelmed by a wave of immigrants who were essentially looking for better economic opportunities or simply welfare support. For many in Europe, accepting ‘Syrian refugees’ was a propaganda line for a much bigger political agenda – one arguably derived, at least in part, from a 2000 UN report that speaks of ‘replacement migration.’ Critics call it an ‘invasion’ caused by the utter economic failure of certain African and Middle Eastern nations and by their corrupt dictatorships. As we learned from television reporting, most of the notorious (and often deadly) refugee boats crossing the Mediterranean were filled with black Africans – mostly Nigerians. In European public discourse, the Syrian crisis was hijacked by those in the political spectrum who denigrate European national cultures and subscribe to multiculturalism as a political religion (to borrow from the Canadian thinker Mathieu Bock-Côté). ‘No borders’ – their most popular slogan – logically entails the eventual abolition of political asylum, given that any refugee would have the right to choose his or her place of residence, as the UN Global Compact for Migration of December 2018 suggests. It has become clear that we are dealing here with far more than the Syrian refugee crisis or even international or national laws on asylum. We are, instead, confronted with several vast issues and pressures touching both international relations – particularly in respect of North-South relations – and indeed national policies concerning the future composition and cultural orientation of Western societies. These vast issues and pressures have clearly led to the emergence – and the rapid growth – of political movements that are variously described as ‘populist,’ ‘nationalist’ or even ‘racist.’ Some of the leaders of these movements have become presidents, prime ministers, ministers and subnational premiers and governors (Donald Trump in the US, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Doug Ford in Ontario, Canada, and so on), while others are prominent national party leaders (France’s Marine Le Pen and Nigel Farage in the UK). Curiously, Germany has thus far not produced a comparable towering figure – even after its new right-wing party (Alternative für Deutschland) became the leading opposition party in the Bundestag. To be sure, these movements did not originate solely from the asylum and refugee crises, including

the highly controversial Latin American migration dynamic vis-à-vis the US. Other factors – including the effects of globalization on Western labour markets and the global financial crisis of 2008 – played important roles. But mass migration, with all of its social, cultural and political consequences – has most directly affected the daily lives of everyday people, and especially the lives of the more modest social strata, who feel particularly threatened. Another factor was the astounding failure of the traditional political parties to face up to those challenges. Their strategies of covering up and deflecting attention from the migration issue led to a massive loss of confidence among their traditional clienteles. By hyping up the matter of emissions from diesel cars or the anticipated disappearance of certain species, they were unlikely to deflect attention from the massive increase in major crime – particularly against young women – and the dangers of Islamist ‘sleepers’ infiltrating Western countries under the cover of the Syrian refugee wave in order to later execute terrorist attacks. As such, the new antiimmigration parties attracted considerable numbers of voters on the political left – mostly of working-class background, and from among older middle-class voters as well. “You cannot fool all the people all the time,” as Abraham Lincoln famously said. MB: L’immigration, même massive, ne mène pas forcément au populisme. Si l’immigration est contrôlée et bien gérée, elle permet aux pays occidentaux de maintenir leur force démographique malgré les faibles taux de natalité qu’on trouve typiquement dans les démocraties libérales. Le Canada, par exemple, passe présentement par une phase d’immigration (relativement) massive sans qu’il y ait beaucoup de tensions internes concernant l’intégration des nouveaux arrivants. Ceci découle du fait qu’une bonne partie des candidats sont sélectionnés au mérite selon des critères économiques. C’est d’ailleurs le sens de la nouvelle politique d’immigration annoncée par le président Trump. Comme il l’a affirmé lors de son discours sur l’État de l’Union en février dernier: «I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally». En gardant l’immigration aux États-Unis à des niveaux historiquement élevés, Trump défie la tendance restrictive qu’on associe aux mouvements populistes. La leçon est la suivante: si l’immigration est contrôlée et sélectionnée, les gouvernements des pays d’accueil peuvent ajuster les niveaux selon leur situation nationale. Il faut être clair: le problème est lié à l’immigration non contrôlée. Celle-ci peut prendre plusieurs formes, mais c’est l’institution de l’asile qui pose le plus grand problème par rapport aux valeurs libérales. En général, les demandeurs d’asile ne sont ni invités

elle suggère que les portes sont ouvertes. On flirte depuis trop longtemps avec une position suicidaire sur ce problème fondamental. C’est la leçon qu’il fallait tirer de la vieille polémique concernant la déclaration de l’ancien Premier ministre français Michel Rocard: «La France ne peut pas accueillir toute la misère du monde». Une analyse franche de la réaction allemande et européenne aux flux de 2015 nous oblige à répondre clairement à ceux qui continuent de penser que l’asile est un droit non équivoque accordé à tous les habitants de la planète. Il est possible d’être cosmopolite, ouvert et proimmigration, sans suivre aveuglement les excès de la vision sans-frontièriste et la propagande des slogans simplistes tels que «la diversité fait notre force». Comme suggérait Max Weber il y a un siècle lors de sa dernière conférence à Munich, les politiques doivent trouver un compromis sage entre la pureté morale de leurs intentions et une éthique de responsabilité (Verantwortungsethik). Si les démocraties libérales ne veulent pas être accusées d’hypocrisie, la préservation des valeurs humanistes les obligera ainsi à développer d’autres méthodes pour protéger les migrants qui se disent persécutés dans leurs pays d’origine. En effet, la logique de contrôle frontalier suggère que les ambassades et les consulats pourraient jouer un rôle dans le développement de procédures extraterritoriales pour les demandes d’asile. Dans ce sens, le nouveau projet de visa humanitaire européen représente un développement positif. Afin de préserver l’institution de l’asile dans le nouveau contexte des migrations internationales au 21e siècle, les gouvernements seront obligés de la reconceptualiser. Sinon, les problèmes de xénophobie risquent de s’aggraver, car les populations locales craindront que les autorités n’arrivent pas à maîtriser les frontières. WK: I quite agree. Immigration, even on a large scale, does not automatically lead to a surge in populist politics. But it does if governments – local, national or supranational (as in the case of the EU) – fail to establish proper criteria and mismanage the process of admitting immigrants. Both things happened during and after the 2015 refugee crisis in Europe. Governments proved fatally incompetent in tracking millions of immigrants and in establishing their true identities and personal backgrounds. Indeed, the only bureaucratic elements that appeared to function were those involving massive transfers of welfare payments to the refugees. No wonder ‘native’ citizens in poor urban areas and underprivileged rural regions felt left behind and threatened. After all, most of the temporary housing for refugees was erected in their own neighbourhoods. (continued) To read the rest of this debate, visit the GB website

We are confronted with several vast issues and pressures touching both international relations – particularly in respect of North-South relations – and indeed national policies in respect of the future composition and cultural orientation of Western societies.

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ni contrôlés par les autorités. De plus, ils arrivent souvent en flux massifs. Il est impossible d’établir si leur demande est bien fondée sans un processus administratif, qui prend du temps. Hypothétiquement, il est donc possible qu’un nombre considérable d’individus indésirables entrent temporairement dans le pays d’accueil. Leur renvoi est toujours compliqué dans le contexte humanitaire de l’asile. Pour être plus précis, l’asile pose problème à cause de l’aspect potentiellement superficiel de son symbolisme, qui mène souvent à une approche incohérente et non durable. Dans le contexte actuel où les milieux intellectuels sont attirés par l’encouragement ambigu de la «mobilité humaine» qu’on trouve dans le Pacte sur les migrations adopté à Marrakech en décembre 2018, il est courageux de critiquer l’idéologie derrière l’admission des flux incontrôlés en Allemagne il y a quelques ans. La référence à la chancelière Merkel mérite d’être élaborée, car sa décision continue d’être invoquée comme un exemple positif par de nombreux commentateurs à l’extérieur de l’Allemagne. Mais un État moderne ne peut pas admettre des flux massifs sans avoir établi correctement l’identité des demandeurs d’asile. C’est probablement l’aspect central du système international de protection des réfugiés qui a été créé dans les années 1920 avec le passeport Nansen. Même si Merkel n’avait pas manifesté beaucoup d’intérêt pour la complexité de l’asile avant l’été 2015, elle s’est soudainement laissée emporter par la vague humanitaire et son slogan optimiste «Wir schaffen das». L’ancien ministre des Affaires étrangères Sigmar Gabriel a bien décrit l’importance psychologique et émotionnelle de cette période quand l’Allemagne était perçue enfin comme un modèle humanitaire. Cependant, l’euphorie a vite été remplacée par une autre politique plus discrète. Ne voulant pas laisser l’impression qu’elle fermait ses frontières, l’Allemagne a choisi la méthode la plus typique des démocraties libérales: elle a appliqué indirectement la pression sur les pays de transit afin qu’ils empêchent les demandeurs d’asile de voyager vers son territoire. Avec l’aide de Vienne pour conclure une entente avec les pays balkaniques, suivi par les efforts de Bruxelles pour conclure une entente avec la Turquie, Berlin a réussi discrètement à réduire les flux de demandeurs d’asile à peine quelques mois après l’arrivée massive de 2015. Les diplomates allemands ont par la suite conclu des accords avec plusieurs pays africains afin d’établir un dispositif régional pour mieux gérer les flux de migrants vers la Méditerranée. Bref, on laisse les autres construire des murs afin de préserver nos propres valeurs «humanitaires». On voit donc comment l’image superficiel peut dominer. Elle peut aussi mener à une politique basée sur des principes incohérents dans la mesure où



THE DEFINITION Whither Regional Security in West Asia? Andrey Kortunov Russian policy in the Middle

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With China’s rise now raising questions about what the arrival of a new global power will mean for West Asia’s geopolitical dynamics, ASEAN’s experience with China can again provide a view into the future of West Asia.


East region can probably be considered one of the areas of most significant achievement for President Putin in recent years. With relatively small material investments and minimal combat losses, Moscow managed to transform itself from an almost imperceptible supernumerary on the Middle East scene into one of the region’s main actors, without which not a single major issue of regional security can be resolved today. Russian successes are even more impressive if one compares the results of the Russian operation in Syria with those of the intervention of the US and its allies in Iraq in 2003. Russian achievements in the region require some explanation. Some observers believe that Moscow’s victories are related to the fact that, after its unsuccessful involvement in Iraq, the US essentially abandoned new interventionist actions in the region during the Obama years, leaving behind a geopolitical power vacuum. Russia has filled this vacuum promptly and without excessively high costs. Another explanation comes down to the fact that the Kremlin has outplayed its Western rivals due to a higher standard of expert advice in respect of its Middle Eastern policy. Unlike American strategists, the Russian leadership continues to rely on a highly professional community of Orientalists who know and understand the region well. The third explanation is that the main advantage of President Putin was the consistency and stability of his policies in the region – policies that earned Russia, if not love, then at least respect not only from Moscow’s Middle Eastern partners, but also from its Middle Eastern adversaries. By contrast, Western countries, which have often changed their positions over the course of the development of the Middle Eastern drama, have largely lost credibility with the leaders and political elites of the region. Another explanation for the successes of Moscow is that, in contradistinction to other influential

international players, Russia was able to maintain constructive relations with almost all parties to the Middle East conflicts – with the Israelis and Palestinians, with the Sunnis and Shiites, with the Turks and Kurds, and with Iran and the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf. In all likelihood, this peculiarity of Russia’s positioning in the region is directly related to the country’s initially marginal status in the Middle East (in the post-Soviet context): prior to the start of the ‘Arab Spring,’ Russia was, unlike the US, not burdened by rigid frameworks of close, allied relations with individual regional forces. Moscow is therefore now better suited to play the role of ‘honest broker’ in the region than Washington. Having said this, in terms of actual engagement in Middle Eastern affairs, Russia’s comparative advantage remains tenuous. This is especially evident in Syria, where maintaining the numerous ‘intra-Syrian’ equilibria has become increasingly difficult. Moreover, with the military defeat of ISIS, a common enemy has disappeared for many players in the Syrian theatre. Bashar Al-Assad is becoming increasingly tough and uncompromising in his dialogue with the Syrian opposition, demanding unconditional surrender. Iran, having thoroughly entrenched itself on Syrian territory, is also less inclined to compromise with its opponents. For its part, Israel, fearing a growing Iranian presence and the strengthening of Hezbollah, and relying on the almost unconditional support of the Trump administration, is expanding its air operations over Syrian airspace. Turkey is in a hurry to consolidate successes in the west and in the north of the country, creating a buffer zone on the Syrian-Turkish border. Syrian Kurds are nervous – not without reason – and await another betrayal by their tactical allies and partners. The question then arises: is Moscow capable of preserving the current status quo in Syria – and indeed in the region as a whole – in the long term, even if this status quo is in Russia’s interests? At the ILLUSTRATION: DAN BEJAR

time of this writing, such preservation would seem unlikely not only over the long term, but even over the medium term. This means that Moscow must look for solutions to the problems of the Middle East that would allow Russia to convert its current military successes into more sustainable – even if more contestable – political influence in the region. The official position of Moscow is that the best solution to the challenges of the Middle East would be to create an inclusive regional collective security system. Such a system would be tantamount to a Middle East version of the European Helsinki process of the 1970s, with the active support of the UN Security Council and the formation of a regional counterpart to the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe. Perhaps such a design, while not possible in the foreseeable future, would be a solution to the security problems of the region – although it is worth noting that, in Europe itself, this model did not prevent the Ukrainian crisis of 2014. Andrey Kortunov is Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council in Moscow.

Kishore Mahbubani is Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. His latest book is Has the West Lost It? Yanan Tan is a research assistant at the National University of Singapore.

Sam Sasan Shoamanesh For over a decade, including in the pages of GB, I have questioned – often in bewilderment – why a volatile, conflictridden region like West Asia stands as one of the only regions in the world without an effective, inclusive regional mechanism capable of managing and defusing conflict. And I have been busily working, in theory and in practice, to see how this crucial regional theatre – the constituent countries and players of which have more in common than not in terms of history, languages and culture – can move toward greater regional security and integration. The turmoil and experience of West Asia over the past several years have only reinforced my conviction that the region’s security vacuum and status quo are simply untenable. (continued) For the remainder of Sam Sasan Shoamanesh’s response and more, please visit the GB website

The region’s leaders have a choice. They can either act as term-setters and take visionary and necessary action to renegotiate and reset their outdated regional order to their collective advantage, or continue on the current trajectory, allowing the region’s security to be shaped according to the strategic imperatives of others.

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Kishore Mahbubani & Yanan Tan Few can disagree that West Asia today is a troubled region. Protracted conflict has plagued countries like Yemen, Syria and Iraq for much of the 20th and 21st centuries. Meanwhile, tensions are simmering between member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Few see hope for successful regional integration in West Asia. However, those who despair about West Asia should remember that Southeast Asia was similarly troubled in 1967, when Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand founded the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). While Communist parties made steady incursions into Indochina, the five founding members of ASEAN feared a similar fate as they faced Communist insurgencies in their own backyards. Relations were similarly tense between the ASEAN founders: Singapore had recently been expelled from the Malaysian Federation, Indonesia had ended its undeclared war with Malaysia and Singapore only a year earlier, and the Philippines and Malaysia were still embroiled in conflicting claims over a large portion of Sabah. Meanwhile, Southeast Asia’s remarkable cultural, ethnic and religious diversity – the result of centuries of contact with Indian, Chinese and Muslim civilizations and Western colonization – also convinced many observers that ASEAN was headed toward conflict. Indeed, the diversity of Southeast Asia, which today is home to some 266 million Muslims, 146 million Christians, 149 million Buddhists, and millions of Hindus, Taoists and Confucianists, led the British historian Charles Fisher to describe the region

in 1962 as the “Balkans of the Orient.” Adherents of Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis believed that ASEAN’s attempt to forge cooperation within this multi-civilizational region would invariably fail. Yet, just half a century later, ASEAN has defied these pessimistic prognoses. Through the establishment of multilateral networks and trade agreements, ASEAN has become a positive organizing force for the region, transforming a region fraught with conflict and tensions into one of relative peace and prosperity. With China’s rise now raising questions about what the arrival of a new global power will mean for West Asia’s geopolitical dynamics, ASEAN’s experience with China can again provide a view into the future of West Asia. China is aware that ASEAN has been crucial to its successful economic reform and opening up to the world. When the West isolated China following the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, ASEAN continued to engage with it. When China joined the WTO in 2001, ASEAN responded enthusiastically to its proposal for enhanced economic cooperation. Bref, China’s experience with ASEAN has shown Beijing that it is in its interests to support the creation of strong regional organizations. As China seeks to build up infrastructure and connectivity across the Eurasian landmass through the Belt and Road Initiative, it has an even greater interest today in promoting regional integration in the West Asian region – a region that lies at the very heart of these trade routes. China will therefore be happy to see an Association of West Asian Nations that is as successful as ASEAN.



STRATEGIC FUTURES What is Your Best Advice to the New President of Ukraine?

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Zelensky must quickly concentrate power in the central organs of executive power and increase their effectiveness. On the other hand, he must rid the central organs of wasteful and superfluous control functions and mechanisms, pushing these down to the municipal levels.


Yuriy Romanenko Newly elected President Vladimir Zelensky was able to solidify his victory in the springtime presidential election with an overwhelming result in the recent summertime parliamentary elections. The presidential party ‘Servant of the People’ earned 253 seats in the Verkhovna Rada (parliament), which now makes it possible to pass laws without the need to create a majority coalition. In principle, this is the first time in the modern history of Ukraine where the president has found himself with such a (theoretical) concentration of power. And yet, in practice, Zelensky must still build an effective executive and legislative vertical – building on the mandate of confidence he has received from the public. On what should Zelensky focus his efforts? First, he must establish full control over the country’s security ‘bloc’ – something that would

Ukrainian President assure his ability to underVolodymyr Zelensky take an independent line casts his ballot at a of policy and behaviour. polling station during Indeed, it is the control of parliamentary elections, Ukraine’s oligarchs over the in Kyiv, July 2019. state security sector that continues to be one of the key obstacles to effective reforms in the country. Second, having gained control over the security sector, Zelensky must demonstratively punish the most odious figures of the previous regime (or regimes). This could well include former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. Punishment for corruption and blatant theft from the country is the only instrument that would allow Zelensky to safeguard his new legitimacy in the early stages of his presidency, given that any economic successes are far from guaranteed, and at best one to two years PHOTOGRAPH: THE CANADIAN PRESS / EPA / STEPAN FRANKO

People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic – instead of forcing their return, at all costs, to the Ukrainian constitutional and political fold. Yuriy Romanenko is the Founder of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future in Kyiv.

Eduard Afonin It would be perfectly reasonable for the new president to view the outcomes of the recent presidential and parliamentary elections as fundamental impulses and drivers for total transformation of the official state apparatus of Ukraine and democratization of the country’s governance. As such, President Zelensky would be wise to pay special attention to observing the ‘democratic formula’ proposed by the Polish-American political scientist Adam Przeworski to the effect that democracy is about procedural certainty in the context of uncertainty in outcomes. Of course, this is the exact opposite of the implicit formula applied in Ukrainian public life today, where certainty of outcome comes with procedural uncertainty. Furthermore, the president should introduce latent (psychological) processes of change in the sizable bureaucracy of the country. For this, he may wish to use the observations and studies carried out since 2005 by the National Academy of Public Administration as well as the Institute for Economics and Forecasting in Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences. In these studies, we developed and proposed algorithms for personnel selection and rotation in the civil service so as to promote the advancement of ‘collectivists’ in place of ‘individualists’ – eventually fostering the development of a ‘social state’ in Ukraine and promoting a sharp decline in what we believe to be the psychological foundations of corruption in the country. To be sure, the national expert community and the network of specialist institutes and think tanks across Ukraine on key problems of national and international development should also play a central role in the development of the president’s policy agenda.

Peacekeepers will require UN Security Council approval, and the only way for Ukraine and the West to convince Moscow not to veto a peacekeeping resolution is to make Moscow an offer that it can’t refuse.

Eduard Afonin is Professor of Public Policy in the National Academy of Public Administration under the President in Kyiv.

Irvin Studin President Zelensky has two key priorities that he must ace if he is to succeed, and indeed if Ukraine is to survive as a sovereign state in its post-Soviet form. First and foremost, he must broker a sustained peace in the Donbass in a way that meets three objectives – ending the bloodshed that has been the stain and shame of modern Europe; restoring the legitimacy of Kyiv over Donetsk and Luhansk; and, just as critically... (continued) For the remainder of Irvin Studin’s answer, please

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removed. Indeed, punishing the old elite would kill two birds with one stone: it would preserve the high support of the public and would make the ancien régime more compliant in accepting new rules of the game that would sharply decrease the role of corruption as a key substructure (and informal ‘institution’) in Ukrainian statehood and statecraft. Third, these new rules of the game should aim for de-oligarchization, de-monopolization and, to be sure, decriminalization of the political and economic system of Ukraine. In this context, Zelensky must master contradictory challenges in order that his actions have the right cumulative effect: on the one hand, he must quickly concentrate power in the central organs of executive power and increase their effectiveness; on the other hand, he must rid the central organs of wasteful and superfluous control functions and mechanisms, pushing these down to the municipal levels. Fourth, Zelensky must undertake economic reforms that will be noticed by his electoral base – the middle class, which he must also enlarge. Poroshenko placed his bets on elite conspiracies, eventually lost legitimacy and, ultimately, lost power. Zelensky must instead focus on preserving and cultivating broad support in order to protect himself against conspiracies from the old elite (which is hungry, of course, for revenge). It follows that the new president should prioritize moves that Ukrainian society will interpret as being in defence of its interests – for instance, the simplification of the conduct of business, as well as stimulus for the development of national production that will lead to jobs. For this, Ukraine’s tax system must be further simplified, such that it becomes more profitable to pay taxes than take bribes. Bref, the foundation of Zelensky’s policies must be a pragmatism aimed at the widening of the resource base of his political regime on the strength of qualitative and quantitative growth in the economy. Fifth, foreign policy under Zelensky must advance the goals discussed above – that is, it must be strictly pragmatic and aimed at concrete results through the provision of economic growth for the country. Related to this, evidently, the major problem of the Donbass must be resolved, as this war drains Ukraine daily of a huge quantum of resources. The Donbass question can be resolved either by means of an agreement with Russia through the mediation of the US, or by the taking of a strategic decision, by President Zelensky, to the effect that the Donbass conflict is fundamentally long-term in nature and that Ukraine will, as a consequence, henceforth focus not on the return of these conflicted territories, but rather on the organization and development of its own core territory. In this case, Ukraine should seek to broker an immediate and indefinite truce, and renew commercial arrangements with the Donetsk




On the Coming Order Looking for the new century’s Copernicus FROM THE GB ARCHIVES BY DOUGLAS GLOVER

T Douglas Glover is a Governor-General’s Award-winning novelist and short story writer. This Epigram was originally published in the Winter 2010

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issue of Global Brief.


he throw of fiction these days is decidThey bespeak a vast reservoir of bourgeois guilt or edly dystopian. Novels and movies are Schadenfreude (I may be going down, but so are the chock-a-block with images of the Ends of rest of you), and a media-driven pop-cultural eagerTimes, wherein humans scurry about in ness to acquiesce to an unexamined metaphysics: shadows, while machines run amok, or the Earth what is, must be. But history is not Fate. History is heats up or cools down with catastrophic suddenthe narrative of the human struggle to subdue Nature ness, or the undead rage in the streets for healthy and survive. The lesson of history is that what is can blood. The future is a Mad Max movie on hyper-drive, be changed. And so, though it is less entertaining to and the stupid and brutal shall rule. The dramatic enumerate success than fantasize Doomsday scepremise of these movies involves a cataclysmic narios, consider Europe. In tandem with the creep upending of orderly life on Earth – life as we know of failed states (but in the opposite direction), the EU it – not unlike what has happened has expanded from six countries in Haiti: it took three days for the in 1957 to 27 today, with more on looting and lynching to begin after the welcome mat awaiting entry, the shock of the earthquake and and Turkey hovering, the perenthe breakdown of civil society in nial bridesmaid. For hundreds of Port-au-Prince. Three days is about years, armies marched up and down all we have when things really go Europe, but now it is tempting to south, the smell of dead humans view the EU as a model for mature fills the air, water and electricity expansion, inclusiveness and the cease to flow, and the roads are practice of responsible cooperation clogged with debris. But there are to produce a general rise in ease already places in the world where of life, education and prosperity. A life as we know it doesn’t exist. It little dull, perhaps (try to imagine seems like only yesterday that we a blockbuster movie about butter Nicolaus Copernicus, 1473 – 1543 declared the End of History, and subsidies) – except for the spankproclaimed a belief in the late arrival of a liberaling of Serbia – but orderly. Consider, as well, China, democratic utopian world hegemony. a vast rural backwardness wrenched willy-nilly into But now we speak guardedly of the Somalia Synthe modern capitalist era in about four decades – drome and failed states – a phrase that connotes millions of people shifted off the land into instant a meltdown of the body politic and community mega-cities without too many of them actually dying infrastructure, the rise of warlords, young stoned in the process; population growth not belting ahead men with RPGs driving around in technicals, and as it once was; education a priority; an economy pirates who insouciantly defy the world’s navies. unscathed (mostly) by the recession. Consider, too, Peak Oil and Global Warming, though hotly debated, the International Criminal Court and the G20 and are code phrases for the eschatological brick wall the Internet, with the latter’s capacity to store and toward which free market capitalism is hurtling access unfathomable amounts of information and at warp speed. The Great Recession, just behind us share it among networked human minds around (maybe), burned up trillions of dollars in an instant, the globe. Science routinely thinks in magnitudes suggesting that perhaps our faith in the quasi-divine of largeness and smallness undreamed by Galileo. orderliness of the market might be misplaced. (Atomic All around, there are potent synergies – unexbombs and computerized financial markets share a pected, little understood, countering the entropic capacity to do very bad things really quickly.) With tendency. Confusion, Henry Miller once said, is only pornographic dread, we read the economic data and an order we haven’t recognized. Prognostication climate reports for deadlines and tipping points; it on the fly is always tricky. The dystopian fancies of is no wonder that we dream celluloid dreams of the fiction tell not the future. Rather, they speak to us Ends of Times. about the past, our violent history, our million-year But one can’t escape that suspicion that our struggle to emerge from nature. With any luck, we present oracles of Apocalypse sound precipitate, are on the cusp of a new Copernican revolution impetuously rushing to embrace the dictates of Fate, of thought, difficult even to enunciate because we the revenge of Nature, the end of greed and excess. can only speak about it in the old way. | GB

GLOBAL BRIEF | Summer • Fall 2019  

Global Affairs in the 21st Century

GLOBAL BRIEF | Summer • Fall 2019  

Global Affairs in the 21st Century