Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Let China Pay

The United States is militarily and financially overextended.  For decades, U.S. taxpayers have financed a security umbrella over Europe paying 75% or more of NATO’s costs and supplying most of the military personnel.  European members are not paying their fair share.  Instead, they have spent their taxpayers’ money on expanded social programs.  Enjoying U.S. protection, they even have the gall to criticize the U.S. for its harsh market economy, in which individuals lack taxpayer-provided health insurance, free university education, long maternity/paternity leave, long vacations, and so forth.

If Europe does not want to pay for its defense, so be it.  Continued U.S. military protection for Europe only encourages European politicians to disregard their own defense requirements.

Now to China.

U.S. foreign policy should encourage China to overextend itself.  Here are some concrete proposals.

The U.S. does not import much, if any, oil from the Middle East.  China, along with Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries, depends heavily on Gulf oil.  Let China patrol the Gulf, the Indian Ocean, the Straits of Malacca, the East China Sea, and other waters to secure safe passage of oil tankers to Asia.

Let China bear the cost of security for Afghanistan, the Caucasus, and elsewhere in the Western Middle East.  China is concerned about radical Islam infecting its Western provinces.

Each year Chinese military power strengthens.  Each year U.S. military power weakens.  The U.S. can no longer afford to provide a “Pax Americana” over North, East and Southeast Asia.  As it is, the bulk of Asian trade is with China, which will continue to increase.  China will increasingly dominate Asia commercially, socially, and politically.

Let China bear the cost of loans and infrastructure projects in Africa.  They will not recover or earn a return on their investments.  Their loans will not be repaid.  They will be targeted as villains in national elections, blamed for racism, unemployment, and social ills.  They will become the “ugly Chinese” who exploit Africans.

Ditto for Latin America.  Think $50 billion in lost loans to Venezuela, and incomplete infrastructure projects in Brazil and other Latin American countries that will not be completed for years and years.  Let China get blamed by Latin American politicians for their mismanaged economies..

Anywhere a hurricane, health, earthquake or other catastrophe occurs, let China pay half of all rescue and rebuilding costs.

How should the U.S. structure its relations with China?  So long as China adheres to GATT, WTO, and other trade agreements, the U.S. should allow trade to flow freely as it will.  But the U.S. should impose dollar-for-dollar costs on state-owned and/or private Chinese firms when China violates the letter and spirit of these agreements.

If China uses regulations to favor Chinese firms over American firms, (e.g., labeling, quotas, limits on foreign ownership, banning U.S. media, etc.), the U.S. should respond in kind.  For example, the U.S. could limit Chinese ownership to 49% of a U.S. firm, ban CCTV, restrict Chinese newspapers and magazines, close Confucius Institutes in American universities, and so on.  You cheat, you pay.

One way to accomplish this change in strategy is to build facilities in Beijing and Shanghai in which the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other global organizations spend half the year meeting and conducting their business in China.  And let China pay for it.

China will learn, as has Britain, France, and the United States, that money does not buy love and goodwill in Africa, Latin America, and other poor countries around the globe.  In fact, it generally produces the opposite effect.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Political Science Flunked American Politics 101

On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.  His overwhelming win in Indiana on May 3, 2016, makes him the presumptive nominee.

So far as I know, as of May 3, 2016, not a single political scientist has stepped forward to claim that he or she correctly forecast that Trump could, or would, win the Republican nomination.

Indeed, the opposite is true.  One after another wrote articles, blogged, tweeted, and presented slide shows incorporating rigorous statistical analyses based on past voting behavior, “proving” that Trump would fall out of the race. As his poll numbers rose, the predictions that he would lose grew in number and volume.

How did so many get it so wrong?  (Although the economics profession largely missed the financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession, at least a handful got it right.)  Political scientists are not likely to issue a mea culpa and tell you why.

Your friendly proprietor will give it a shot.  Here are some reasons.

Ideology.  About 80 percent or more of the profession favor “liberal” Democrats.  They are hostile to Republicans in general and appalled that a “bombastic” businessman such as Trump could win his party’s nomination and, horror of horrors, the presidency.

The profession is resistant to change.  Moreover, the industry is its own consumer.  Most political scientists write for other political scientists.  Only a small fraction writes in the popular media.  It’s hard to take a position way outside the normal range of professional consensus on a subject and get promoted, attract offers from other universities, and enjoy cordial relations with colleagues.  Those who present an extreme view are often ridiculed, called names and excluded from rewards and honors.

Poll analysts missed the lesson of the “Shy Tory Voter,” who told pollsters they would vote for Britain’s Labour Party, but then voted Conservative, giving David Cameron a big win.  This phenomenon crossed the Atlantic Ocean and was duplicated by the shy Trump voter.

The only thing worse in political science, and in the academy more generally, than having predicted that Trump would win, is openly stating that Trump is one’s first choice (the subject of the next post)!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech Sets Forth Three Important Themes

On April 27, 2016, Donald Trump delivered a major foreign policy speech. This post highlights three important themes.

This blog has posted several articles on the topic of democracy follies. Here are Trump's words on this theme.

One

“It all began with the dangerous idea that we could make Western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interest in becoming a Western Democracy….We tore up what institutions they had and then were surprised at what we unleashed. Civil war, religious fanaticism; thousands of American lives, and many trillions of dollars, were lost as a result….One day we’re bombing Libya and getting rid of a dictator to foster democracy for civilians, the next day we are watching the same civilians suffer while that country falls apart….We have made the Middle East more unstable and chaotic than ever before....After losing thousands of lives and spending trillions of dollars, we are in far worse shape now than in the Middle east than ever before."

Two

The Republican Foreign Policy Praetorian Guard includes a few remaining Reagan administration officials, but consists largely of those who served in both Bush administrations.  Many of them were advisers to Jeb Bush and several other Republican candidates.  None, not a single one, is associated with Trump.  Here are Trump's words on members of his foreign policy team.

"That is why I will also look for talented experts with new approaches, and practical ideas, rather than surrounding myself with those who have perfect resumes but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war."  The absence of any individuals of the Republican Foreign Policy Praetorian Guard is the reason that many in the Academic Political Media Industrial Complex have mounted a sustained, vicious attack against Trump.

Three

Trump says he will "put the interests of the American people, and American security, above all else."  This doctrine repudiates globalism, what the French call "mondialism," subordinating national interests to global governance.  It means that American values, not some arbitrary notion of universal or global values, will guide U.S. foreign policy.  The U.S. will continue to play its global role, but will demand reciprocity from its partners and allies.  No more going it alone at U.S. expense.  Here are Trump's words on the primacy of America and the West.

"Finally, I will work with our allies to reinvigorate Western values and institutions.  Instead of trying to spread "universal values" that not everyone shares, we should understand that strengthening and promoting Western civilization and its accomplishments will do more to inspire positive reforms around the world than military interventions."

He concludes:  "We are getting out of the nation-building business, and instead focussing on creating stability in the world."

Trump has called out the Academic Political Media Industrial Complex (APMIC) for its foreign policy failures, wants fresh faces with new pragmatic ideas, and wants renewed emphasis on Western values and institutions.

President Trump is the Hieronymus Bosch nightmare of APMIC.  One cannot overstate its members hatred of Trump, especially in the academy.