Sunday, 13 November 2016

The USA and the world, now and tomorrow...

To watch the TED talk by Ian Bremmer "How the US should use its superpower status...", click HERE!

Ian Bremmer, global research professor at New York University, teaches classes in the field of political risk. "G-Zero" (i.e. no G20 or G7) is a term used by Bremmer, and widely accepted by policymakers, for a global power vacuum in which no country is willing and able to set the international agenda...

Summary of the TED talk by Ian Bremmer:

Is the USA, “large and in charge”, still in fact the world’s “n°1”? We are increasingly in a “driverless world” (i.e. the USA no longer “drives” the world). Americanization and globalization were, up to now, the same thing (WTO, IMF, World Bank, Bretton Woods Accord, etc., were “American” institutions).

US view: President Obama (USA) in charge of the world. The reality: US now has little impact on G20; Putin, Xi Jinping, Angela Merkel, etc. are now “calling the shots”. The problem is it's a G-Zero world that we now live in, i.e. a world order where there is no single country or alliance that can meet the challenges of global leadership.

Globalization is continuing. Goods and services and people and capital are moving across borders faster and faster than ever before, but Americanisation is not.

What are the implications of the end of Americanisation for the whole world, and what do we think about it in the United States?

Why are we in this situation? It’s because:

> the USA spent two trillion dollars on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that failed and we don't want to get involved in (expensive) wars anymore;

> large numbers of middle and working class Americans feel they've not benefited from globalization, so they are rejecting it;

> we don't need OPEC or the Middle East because we now produce most of our oil in the United States.

Americans don't want to be the global sheriff for security or the architect of global trade any more. They don't even want to be the cheerleader of global values.

Europe:  transatlantic relationship is now weaker than it has ever been (crises: Brexit, French vs Russians, Germans vs Turks, Brits vs Chinese, etc.).

China: wants leadership only in economic sphere, hence competition with US.
Russia: wants more leadership (cf. Ukraine, Baltic States, Middle East), hence competition with USA.

Middle East: now very unstable because US and allies no longer provide military security, oil revenue has gone down, and populations are rebelling against corrupt despots (hence failed states, terrorism, refugees, etc.). Will entire Middle East fall apart? No, Kurds, Iraq, Israel, Iran will do well.

Russia: antagonized by US and Europe expanding NATO right up to its borders; also threat from China which is going to dominate (economically) every country around Russia.

Asia: political stability in most important economies (Modi in India, Abe in Japan, Xi Jinping in China). Problems: South China Sea, Kim Jong Un. But most leaders want to avoid xenophobia and escalation of geopolitical and cross-border tensions because they want long-term economic stability and growth.

Europe: suffering from refugee crisis (> Brexit, populism across all of European states). In G-Zero world, Europe will get smaller (because Eastern Europe and Turkey are too different from “core Europe” and NATO will be weaker without US dominance). Germany and France and others will still function, but peripheral countries (Greece, Turkey, others) will not.

Latin America: populism and opposition to USA > economic downturn. Hope for Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil? Not for Mexico (cf. Trump)…

Africa: in G-Zero world  > extreme segregation between winners and losers across Africa: the few countries that are well-governed, urbanized, with entrepreneurship and women in workforce vs other countries (with extreme climate, radicalism, poor governance, border wars, forced migration, etc.).

United States: elections have highlighted loathing of Washington (the “establishment”), the media and globalization. Americans now have to compete with the rest of the world (it can easily). Protectionism and isolationism are not good options. NAFTA is a good thing for USA. Terrorism and refugees are not as big a problem for USA as for Europe or Middle East.

USA no longer wants to be global cop, architect of global trade, cheerleader of global values. But, in G-Zero world, USA should lead by example. Clinton wants to go back to the '90s (i.e. US dominating the world), Trump back to the '30s (i.e. US rejecting the world). But, in G-Zero world, though the US will not be in economic decline, America will no longer be able or willing to control the world.

Are we prepared to be a model country, one which the world will emulate? We need to change first! Another crisis (global financial crisis or economic depression or terrorist attack) could force us to change... We, individually, need to force our leaders to deal with the inequality in our country; this is urgent.

(Click HERE to watch a September 2018 interview of Prof. Bremmer!)

Questions (use Ian Bremmer’s talk and your own knowledge to answer):
  1. Is the USA still the world's only superpower?
  2. Do Americans still want to be the world’s policeman and control globalization (and spread the American way of life)?
  3. Are we now in a G-Zero world?
  4. Is a G-Zero world more dangerous than a world dominated by the USA?
  5. Will a G-Zero world be more prosperous than it is today?
  6. Is the future bleak for the USA (and, if not, can it lead by example)?

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