The latest North Korean missile launch over Japan on the 28th August 2017 is a sign that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is willing to act unilaterally, despite what any other country may think or want the regime to behave according to international accords. This is obviously disturbing and only goes to show that the North Korean regime is totally defiant towards the international community, and sticking its middle finger up at the United States and the wider world.
by Toby Gill
Madness. Or, more precisely, M.A.D.ness. This is the doctrine which has governed foreign policy among major powers for the last half a century: ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ – the idea that the possession of nuclear arms is, in of itself, the ultimate deterrent against aggression from other nuclear armed powers.
It is the reason why the UK is willing to continually bankrupt itself keeping its Trident system running. It is the reason why, in the Cold War, the US and Soviets tolerated one another pouring funding into nuclear missiles, but mutually agreed to ban investment in systems to defend against nuclear missiles, as they were too dangerous. It is the reason why many International Relations experts believe that additional nuclear weapons could actually make the world a safer place. M.A.D. is the key to understanding the ecosystem of superpowers, in the Cold War and beyond.
There is, of course, only one problem – we have no idea whether it really works.
Two things that have become clear with the election of Donald J Trump as President – elect. Firstly, America’s status as a sole superpower and its Exceptionalism is coming to an end, and secondly, the liberal international order, rooted in principles of international law and community and defined in part by American hegemony, has been turned upside down. The world is in an increasing state of flux.
While it is undergoing a process of reordering, the likelihood is that global affairs may not be very responsive to the will of the United States either through its diplomatic capacity, its institutional structures which it retains its legitimacy, or through hard power. Authors such as Kupchan go further, arguing that America must prepare for the decline of the West, correlating with a decline in its own position.
Content warning: mentions genocide, conflict, death.
“The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilisation.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
As Aleppo draws its last few timid breaths, the global community sits back and watches as four years of war, suppression and ignorance engulf an ancient city, certain to go down, alongside the likes of Srebrenica, Rwanda and Darfur, as an abject failure of Western governments to fight the oppression of human rights and democracy that they have so carefully and vocally pronounced their desire to protect.
By Chris Jarvis
Content warnings: mentions execution, torture
Throughout the twentieth century, as ‘socialist’ regimes sprung up across the world, their leaders and key figures were consistently deified in the west. Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Guevara, Chavez, Allende; all were adopted as icons of the revolutionary left, with posters of them adorning walls across the world, and their words taken as gospel. For a time, much of the left in Europe and the USA endorsed Stalinism, even as the true horrors of the gulags, the famines, the mass executions, the anti-semitism began to be revealed. The unbelievable death toll of Mao’s ‘great leap forward’ was brushed aside by apologists. Colonel Gaddafi was revered by many as a valued comrade, even as he ordered mass executions and dismantled trade unions.
The United States is experiencing relative decline vis-a-vis in relation to other so-called ‘Great Powers’, notably China. The election of President-elect Donald Trump may navigate this transition or accelerate this relative decline in the second decade of the 21st century.
US GDP has only grown nominally at 1.5%. Some important elements can be taken to show the growing disparity and changes to the world’s two most important economic powers. As discussed in The Globalist, ‘US GDP stood at $16.8 trillion in 2013 —just about 4% larger than China’s economy…. [While]The IMF estimates that China’s GDP at purchasing power parity was $17.6 trillion at the end of 2014.’ Furthermore the US is spending $1 trillion on domestic and national security under the auspices of counter terrorism. It has spent blood and treasure in two costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today in international relations we are witnessing a return to a new Cold War between Russia and the West. However, this Cold War Mark II is avoidable, and has only been institutionalised by the actions of both the West and Russia to antagonise one another, and rejuvenate the old Cold War which ceased since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now in the second decade of the 21st Century it is here once again. This new Cold War is characterised by increased tensions between the West and Russia, with rhetoric particularly from the latter becoming increasingly aggressive, and the use of economic measures such as sanctions against Russia by Western powers.
The recent Russian bombardment of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo has done nothing to ameliorate the current diplomatic tensions, only deepened it. However two important qualifications need to be made about this new Cold War that makes it different to the Cold War of the 20th Century.