The end of the presidential election in the United States is fast approaching. Following it, are an abundance of domestic issues which need sorting – along with a few international ones as well. Let’s focus on the second group of challenges here.
What can the world expect from a new American administration? Externally, what are the fundamental new features of either a Clinton or Trump government? The interventions in failing or failed states, and for fighting ISIS and related threats – what effects will the new administration have on these? Will there be more isolationism, or more interventionism? What about the pivot towards Asia? Will NATO be strengthened, or will it lose credibility? What will the trade, immigration and climate policies be? Will there be new ideas for transatlantic relations?
Let’s compose a list of first assessments.
– Prof. Klaus Segbers
The U.S. primaries campaign confirms so far that populism is the dominant feature of this pre-election. One (out of three) Democratic candidates, and two and a half (out of 8 remaining) Republican candidates are explicit populists.
The caucus in Iowa demonstrated that out of the Democratic leaning electorate, exactly half support the populist Bernie Sanders. Among the Republicans, 52% supported clear populists (Cruz and Trump), and another 24% a populist impersonator (Rubio). The voices of relative constraint – Bush, Fiorina, Kasich, Christie – selected jointly less than ten percentage points. They were trounced.
It is too early to extrapolate these first results. But, in a few weeks, we may be left with four or five candidates, three (or four) of them being populists, suggesting that gating America against globalization is the proper answer to all urgent problems and uncertainties.
What does this indicate for the future American global position, and politics?
– Prof. Dr. Klaus Segbers
One of the most puzzling developments of the past five years has been the transformation in Myanmar. After decades of an authoritarian form of domestic governance and relative isolation from international relations, the ruling military group, or caste, decided to gradually reform the country, and to open it up. Domestically, a process of democratization was initiated and accepted. The recent parliamentary election produced a landslide result for the oppositional NDL party under Aung San Suu Kyi who now has a defining majority. Externally, the long cooperation with, or rather dependency on Chinese projects in the fields of water management, infrastructure and trade (especially lumber and jade) was reduced, and the country has opened up to Western partners and other neighbors.
The question is this week: How can we explain this shift that was not produced by collapse or external pressure, and what can we learn from this (if anything) for the potential future of other authoritarian systems?
Barack Obama is experiencing renaissance. He has 15 months to go, but apparently he is far from having been a lame duck.
In the course of a few months, the President has managed to turn around U.S. relations with Cuba; has publicly accepted that there still is racism in the U.S. in general and in the police force in particular; issued instructions for limiting factory emissions in order to improve the climate; co-created a political atmosphere where the Supreme Court accepts gay marriage; and managed to produce an agreement with four other countries and Iran on curtailing Teheran’s nuclear ambitions for 10 – 15 more years.
Through these achievements, he has managed to link the afterglow of this second term with the rigor of his first. He also pushed a broader healthcare provision through man obstacles, pulled out troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, declared both a reset with Russia (that failed) and a pivot toward Asia (that remains uncompleted). On the other hand, he failed to get even a partial solution for the conflict in the Middle East.
Even with the successes listed above, vital business remains deplorably uncompleted: Guantanamo won’t be closed until Obama will have to leave office, and gun control is not on reach no matter how many deadly incidents have happened.
How do you asses the – still preliminary – balance of the Obama administration? Do you give an A, B, C, D or F? Why?