Think tanks are a wonderful and often overlooked source of garnering perspective on world events. Some, such as the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute or our own Fraser Institute are ideological hack factories posing as legitimate think tanks but there are others - Chatham House, Brookings, the Carnegie Endowment, the International Institute for Strategic Studies and more that are balanced and a rich source of insight into today's and tomorrow's events.
With seismic events now unfolding, particularly this week in Washington, it's a fine time for a stroll down Think Tank boulevard.
Let's begin with my favourite, the venerable Chatham House, more properly known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs. A couple of items of interest. Chatham House director, Dr. Robin Niblett, writes of "The Demise of Anglo-American Economic Leadership."
Niblett writes it may be game over for the era of neoliberalism ushered in by Reagan, Thatcher (and Mulroney), what he calls "the Anglo-Saxon model." Many of us will be open to that idea but it begs the question of just what will take its place and what sort of "place" will there be for us in that place? Uncertainty ensues.
More recently, Dr. Niblett wrote on "Liberalism in Retreat," exploring how, with democracy in decline, liberal democracies must find ways to co-exist with their ideological foes.
Over at the exquisitely American, Brookings Institute, Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy pose the question "What makes Putin tick, and what the West should do."
They write of three camps - those who underestimate Putin and those who overestimate Putin and a good many who do both.
"...Vladimir Putin needs to be taken seriously. He will make good on every promise or threat—if Putin says he will do something, then he is prepared to do it; and he will find a way of doing it, using every method at his disposal."
Doesn't that make you thank your lucky stars we've got Trump in the ring with Putin?
Over at Carnegie, Amr Hamzawy, examines the aftermath of the Arab Spring concluding the region has returned to square one. He argues the Arab world must forge a new social contract with its people.
Meanwhile, Carnegie senior fellow, Karim Sadjapour, explains why Trump is the favourite of fellow autocrats (and worse) everywhere.
"Trump’s most well-documented foreign enthusiast is Vladimir Putin, whom he has implied is a stronger leader than Obama. Putin has reciprocated, calling Trump “lively” and “talented” and “the absolute leader in the presidential race.” Former CIA chief Mike Morell called Trump an “unwitting agent” of Putin, and 17 U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Russian cyber hackers have attempted to tilt the election in Trump’s direction. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Americans hoped Russia could emerge as an economically prosperous, socially tolerant democracy. Putin not only helped thwart attempts to make Russia more like America, but he found in Trump an opportunity to make America more like Russia."
Sadjapour ends with this chilling observation:
"Donald Trump is a third-generation American who never experienced life without freedom and privilege, running on a campaign projecting power rather than principles."
At the Council on Foreign Relations, there's a reprint taken from The Diplomat arguing that Trump may drive Japan and China closer together.
"Beijing has almost as many reasons to be concerned as Tokyo. An America weakened by a tweeter-in-chief with no attachment to U.S. core alliances and the international liberal order built by previous American administrations is good news for Xi Jinping. But enormous tariffs on Chinese goods, a national security advisor (Michael Flynn) who thinks China supports the Islamic State, and a president who seems regret that nuclear bombs aren’t used is not what the Communist Party of China (CPC) wants. Even if on balance Trump is likely to undermine America’s relative power in the world, there’s a significant risk that in doing so he could seriously hurt the interests of the Party in a negative sum game."
At the IISS, Nigel Inkster, director of future conflict and cyber security, takes a look at what may develop in the weeks and months ahead.
While Putin’s Russia may welcome the prospect of a less fraught relationship with the US, it is far from obvious that a deal can be reached. A bigger worry may be what happens if efforts to yet again ‘push the reset button’ with Russia come to naught, as they may well do.
Meanwhile Beijing, though concerned about Trump’s suggestion that the One China policy may be up for negotiation, is keeping its powder dry and waiting to see what Trump actually does. At the same time, China is adroitly seeking to position itself as the prime guarantor of free trade and global leadership, a message President Xi Jinping will be looking to promote during his forthcoming visit to Davos. It remains to be seen, however, whether Xi can transcend the default Chinese Communist Party language to present a vision that resonates and carries conviction with the wider world.
The long and the short of it? No one is sure what to make of Trump. Opinions vary widely, perhaps wildly. One point of consensus. If it comes to horsetrading between Trump and Putin, it won't be Putin who goes home with empty pockets. Trump may, however, be sent packing with the trappings of victory for domestic consumption.
Great, just great.
Mound, earlier on BBC4 News they were talking about Donald Trump's comments about NATO and that European leaders sort of shrugged off what Trump said. This makes me wonder. The fool isn't even installed and already people he will have to deal with aren't interested in what he has to say since most of it is nonsense. Could he wind up being useless?
I think it's clear that America's relationships with other nations be they rivals, adversaries or allies will be impacted in ways that could last long after the U.S. is rid of him. He has the potential to cause serious and lasting damage to America and its place in the world. He is seemingly intent on shattering American goodwill with its traditional allies and that sort of thing can leave scars and invite retribution if/when Trump's bullying backfires.
This Deep Government we hear so much about must be watching Trump's every move. It seems they already consider him a threat to American security and to peace abroad. What we cannot know is their threshold, their uncrossable line. We might not have long to wait.
Forget what Conrad Black says!!
Trump is , as a President, an original phenomenon.
He defies description.
He is likely to try and rule the USA and by extension his version of the world as if it is both a game show and business.
He will try to fire those he dislikes and bully those he cannot.
The Archie Bunkers of the USA are going to be sorely disappointed.
Re , Deep Government .
I resent the idea that there is a class of persons that think of the world as their oyster and no one elses.
At the same time I shudder when thinking of those that are allowed to vote that brought Trump and Brexit to prominence.
I suspect we're going to quickly discover that Trump believes that the phrase "leader of the free world" isn't metaphorical.
TB, I've argued to the point of frustration for the urgent need to implement democratic restoration. This begins by facilitating the return of an "informed public." If, through narrow ownership and control of the media by which the public reads and hears and sees the world, the public is fed messaging rather than information, powerful interests can quickly and effectively subvert the democratic franchise.
This is evident in any nation that has an unduly dominant, corporate media cartel - Canada included. The public are denied easy access to the widest range of information and opinion from across the breadth of the political spectrum.
We know the problem. We studied it at length during the Davey and Kent commissions of inquiry. All that knowledge has been jettisoned. The only party committed to a policy of press freedom is the Greens and they're not forming government any time soon.
Dana, I don't think we'll be waiting very long to see what Trump is made of and what that portends for the United States and her allies, rivals and adversaries. Like Mussolini he has an affinity for strongmen rulers. He's dismissive of others.
He has the makings of a one man global wrecking crew and I fear he'll leave no end of lasting scars. He has no grasp of the subtle power that accompanies skilful diplomacy. Oh dear.
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