domingo, 14 de octubre de 2018

El Brasil en vilo



Bolsonaro afianza el liderazgo

 


DIARIO EL PAIS, 13/10/2018

Cuando los brasileños terminaron de votar el domingo pasado, habían desplazado a figuras poderosas de la política, partidos políticos que habían dominado desde hace años fueron reducidos a perdedores, y el populista de extrema derecha del Partido Social Liberal (PSL), Jair Bolsonaro, un militar retirado y diputado desde hace siete períodos, de 63 años, hizo impacto al triunfar por 18 puntos sobre Fernando Haddad, un académico de 55 años que reemplazó a Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva como candidato presidencial del Partido de los Trabajadores (PT). En síntesis, fue el cambio político más arrolador que Brasil ha visto desde que retornó la democracia en 1985.

"Lo que estamos observando es el colapso de nuestro sistema actual", indica María Herminia Tavares de Almeida, experta en ciencias políticas de la Universidad de São Paulo, a The New York Times.
Y, las primeras encuestas con vista al balotaje, en el que los brasileños votarán en exactamente dos semanas, apuntan a la victoria de Bolsonaro porque tiene una diferencia difícil de descontar.

"En la jerga de las empresas de encuestas, cuando los gráficos de línea muestran un diseño que distancia a un competidor de otro de manera clara, se dice el yacaré abrió la boca. Y, cuando la abre, es difícil de ser cerrada. El hecho es que una victoria de Haddad significaría cambiar en 15 días todo lo que el electorado brasileño hizo el domingo pasado, cuando barrió a figuras tradicionales de la política", señala el periodista de O Globo, Merval Pereira, en una columna publicada ayer. "La situación es tan grave, que el PT aceptó una derrota simbólica de relevancia, al permitir que Haddad borrara de su publicidad el rostro de Lula y, más que eso, cambiara el color rojo de la propaganda, por el verde y amarillo típico de la campaña de Bolsonaro".
Fernando Haddad participa, en San Pablo, de un encuentro con grupos vinculados con la cultura como parte de su movilización. Foto: ReutersFernando Haddad participa, en San Pablo, de un encuentro con grupos vinculados con la cultura como parte de su movilización. Foto: Reuters
 
Describe que ahora, la campaña del PT muestra a chicas y chicos con la camiseta de la selección brasileña, con la mano en el corazón en señal de respeto y mirando hacia el horizonte, "dignos del realismo socialista de los triempos de Stalin en la Unión Soviética. Y, la desaparición de la figura de Lula de los carteles hace recordar el hábito estalinista de borrar las fotos de los que caían en desgracia en el régimen comunista, mucho antes de la aparición del photoshop".

Pereira puntualiza: "Es claro que el PT no llegó a ese punto, y que Lula continúa siendo el gran líder".
Agrega que debido al alto grado de rechazo a Lula y al PT, el director de Ibope, Carlos Augusto Montenegro, señala que si el expresidente fuera candidato en la actualidad, podría perder la elección.

Eficacia.

A medida que digieren y analizan el nuevo panorama político después del resultado estremecedor de la primera vuelta electoral, los expertos en ciencias políticas y académicos coinciden en destacar que el fenómeno generado por Bolsonaro puede cambiar de manera definitiva la manera cómo se hacen las campañas electorales en Brasil. De forma contraria a lo que hicieron sus rivales que tuvieron mucho más tiempo de aparición en la televisión nacional —se les adjudica en función del tamaño del patido— y presentaron publicidad afinada, Bolsonaro desarrolló una campaña básica, de bajo costo e impulsada principalmente por las redes sociales. Sus adherentes crearon cientos de grupos en WhatsApp —que es usado por la amplia mayoría de los brasileños— para compartir información de la movilización, anécdotas, memes y teorías conspirativas.

Victor Piaia, un sociólogo de la Universidad Estatal de Río de Jeniro, que estudia la comunicación política, indica a The New York Times que no resulta claro el grado de coordinación que la campaña tuvo con los grupos de chat. Pero, precisa que es evidente el papel que jugó para manejar la narrativa política y se benefició de una plataforma de mensajes que tiene un efecto de amplificación. Agregó que este tipo de comunicación es menos en escala jerárquica, debido a que "todos son los curadores de su propio contenido, y eso hace que la información que se distribuya resulta más atractiva".

Por ejemplo, Piaia menciona la eficacia que mostró la campaña de Bolsonaro para dirigir el voto, porque "mientras otros partidos políticos distribuían panfletos en las calles, su campaña dedicó varias semanas a enviar mensajes a través de los grupos de WhatsApp con los nombres de los candidatos que apoyaba".
Bolsonaro no pudo participar de gran parte de la movilización electoral, debido al ataque del que fue víctima el 6 de septiembre, en un acto en Minas Gerais, y que le causó heridas graves. Su presencia en la campaña se concretó a través de las redes sociales y con difusión de mensajes precisos en videos.

El viernes, Bolsonaro agregó a su estrategia electoral la primera conferencia de prensa, en la que resaltó que va a jugar pesado en el problema de la inseguridad. "Vamos a enfrentar la inseguridad para que nuestro pueblo tenga paz, vamos a buscar países del primer mundo para aprovechar su tecnología y traer felicidad a nuestro pueblo", sostuvo.

Mientras, Haddad intenta reducir la diferencia que lleva Bolsonaro hacia el balotaje. Si bien se muestra optimista al asegurar que solo debe avanzar un poco más de ocho puntos para superar a su rival, sabe que la brecha es grande.

Por eso, entre otras acciones busca un acercamiento con la Iglesia Católica.

Asimismo, ha ratificado el apoyo a las políticas sociales que aplicaron los gobiernos del PT destinadas a los más necesitados y que permitieron sacar a unas 24 millones de personas de la pobreza.

Por otra parte, Haddad, anuncia que planea enviar al Congreso proyectos de ley para las reformas fiscal y bancaria, si es elegido en el balotaje.

También manifiesta que tiene el propósito de usar el 10% de las reservas de divisas extranjeras de Brasil para financiar proyectos de energía eólica y solar en el noreste del país.

Perspectiva.

Más allá de las posiciones divergentes que tienen los dos candidatos, los expertos en ciencias políticas Carlos Pereira, de la Fundación Gétulio Vargas y Carlos Ranulfo, de la Universidad Federal Minas Gerais, coinciden —en declaraciones que recoge la periodista de O Globo Miriam Leitão— que, al menos en un primer momento, la democracia no se encuentra en riesgo en Brasil.

Pereira señala que "tenemos instituciones muy sólidas", aunque puntualiza que si Haddad llega al gobierno e intenta limitar a las instituciones de contralor, la sociedad va a reaccionar, y si el presidente es Bolsonaro e intenta desprestigiar las instituciones legislativas, la sociedad también reaccionará. Advierte que esas reacciones tienden a llegar a una escala de otro nivel de violencia.

Por su parte, Ranulfo estima que "es claro que la democracia no está amenazada, pero no subestimo el riesgo de un eventual gobierno de Bolsonaro". En ese sentido dice que Bolsonaro tiene una mala relación con la democracia y estimula en la sociedad agresiones y violencia, lo que es parte de una corriente muy conocida en el mundo.

Rechazo: una manifestación contra Jair Bolsonaro, en San Pablo. Foto: AFPRechazo: una manifestación contra Jair Bolsonaro, en San Pablo. Foto: AFP
 
Pereira considera que si bien hay gran renovación del Congreso, la media de la cámara sigue siendo de centro-derecha, lo que daría más condiciones de gobernabilidad a Bolsonaro.
Pero, Ranulfo ve que, a pesar de la renovación, la tendencia es la misma con la cual el PT gobernó.
Pereira considera que habrá problemas si Bolsonaro intenta repetir el estilo del ex presidente Fernando Collor de Mello, de gobernar relacionándose directamente con el público, sin la intermediación legislativa ni de los partidos. 

FUENTES: O GLOBO-GDA, THE NEW YORK TIMES, AFP, EFE Y REUTERS

Temer confía en unidad del país tras la elección

"Tenemos que comprender que la elección es un momento político-electoral, en el que es natural que haya divergencia; lo que no puede haber es violencia", afirmó el presidente de Brasil Michel Temer, tras participar de una ceremonia de homenaje al 87° aniversario del Cristo Redentor de Río de Janeiro.>


"Tengo absoluta convicción de que, tras las elecciones, Brasil estará reunificado".>


"Es claro que cada vez que se habla de violencia tenemos que preocuparnos. Por eso, necesitamos combatirla como estamos haciendo todos", enfatizó.>

La jugada del PT para disociarse

La resistencia que suscita Lula en gran parte de la sociedad brasileña vuelve más difícil que su elegido Fernando Haddad construya una alianza de "fuerzas democráticas" para aislar a Jair Bolsonaro, al estilo del Frente Republicano formado en Francia, que bloqueó a la extrema derecha liderada por Jean-Marie y Marine Le Pen.

Quizás consciente de la situación, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva pidió el martes pasado a Haddad que no siga visitándolo en la cárcel de Curitiba, como hacía todos los lunes, y que se dedique a la movilización electoral, de acuerdo con lo que manifestó la presidenta del Partido de los Trabajadores, Gleisi Hoffman. Habrá que ver hasta qué punto Haddad logra autonomía de su mentor y qué repercusión tiene esa jugada de disociación en la intención de voto para el balotaje.

lunes, 8 de octubre de 2018

ONU: MAGOUILLES EN COULISSES




La salle XX, au Palais des Nations, à Genève, où vient d'avoir lieu la 39e session du Conseil des Droits de l'homme.


La salle XX, au Palais des Nations, à Genève, où vient d'avoir lieu la 39e session du Conseil des Droits de l'homme.
AFP PHOTO/Fabrice COFFRINI

Le Conseil des droits de l'homme, qui a cloturé sa 39e session, est fragilisé par les intrigues d'ONG de pacotille.


Les estrades sont démontées, les drapeaux, repliés. Et chacun s'est donné rendez-vous en mars prochain, pour la 40e session. Après deux semaines de débats et de tractations, le Conseil des droits de l'homme s'est achevé, comme à l'accoutumée, vendredi 28 septembre à Genève, par une série de résolutions. Plusieurs pays ont été condamnés, notamment la Birmanie. Sa responsabilité dans le massacre des Rohingya, ethnie musulmane installée dans l'ouest du pays, a été proclamée. "Pour la première fois, le Conseil a voté la mise en place d'une structure qui sera chargée de réunir des preuves du génocide, se réjouit un diplomate. La lutte a été farouche. D'un côté, l'Union européenne, alliée à l'Organisation de la coopération islamique ; de l'autre, la Chine, qui considère que la Birmanie fait partie de sa sphère d'influence et refuse toute ingérence étrangère dans ce pays. C'est une grande victoire pour la cause des droits de l'homme."


Voilà qui devrait mettre un peu de baume au coeur de Vojislav Suc. Car le président slovène n'a pas eu la partie facile depuis son arrivée, le 1er janvier dernier, à la tête du Conseil, l'un des principaux organes de l'Organisation des Nations unies (ONU), avec l'Assemblée générale et le Conseil de sécurité. Avant l'été, en effet, Vojislav Suc a dû gérer une crise majeure : le départ fracassant des Américains, poids lourds de cette institution, chargée, rappelons-le, de "promouvoir et de protéger les droits de l'homme autour du globe".

Décrié par les Américains

 

Les raisons de ce divorce ? D'abord, l'aversion de Donald Trump pour les relations multilatérales. Le président américain a retiré son pays des accords sur le climat et sur le nucléaire iranien, claqué la porte de l'Unesco, tourné le dos au traité de libre-échange transpacifique... Il entend mettre en oeuvre son slogan, "America first", et affirme son ambition de gouverner seul, sans être lié par une quelconque instance internationale. 

Depuis juin dernier, les Américains pratiquent la politique de la chaise vide.

Depuis juin dernier, les Américains pratiquent la politique de la
chaise vide.
REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Ensuite, Trump est furieux du traitement qu'Israël subit au sein du Conseil. De fait, l'État hébreu est le seul pays à faire l'objet d'un examen permanent : cinq résolutions ont été votées contre lui, soit "davantage que toutes les résolutions contre la Corée du Nord, l'Iran et la Syrie", a rappelé Nikki Haley, l'ambassadrice américaine aux Nations unies, le 19 juin dernier, lors de l'annonce du "divorce". Enfin, Washington critique la présence, au sein du Conseil, de pays peu exemplaires en matière de droits de l'homme, tant s'en faut. "Pendant trop longtemps, le Conseil a protégé les auteurs de violations des droits de l'homme", a poursuivi Nikki Haley. Et d'évoquer la République démocratique du Congo, le Venezuela, la Chine ou l'Iran... Elle aurait pu ajouter l'Afghanistan, l'Arabie saoudite ou les Philippines.

Que faire des États voyous ? 

 

Les dictateurs et les États voyous ont-ils leur place dans ce sanctuaire ? La question se pose depuis la création, en 1946, de la Commission des droits de l'homme - l'ancêtre de l'actuel Conseil. A l'origine des textes fondateurs, comme la Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme (1948), celle-ci a longtemps joué un rôle de vigie. Au fil des années, pourtant, la machine s'est grippée.

A coups de compromissions et de "renvois d'ascenseur", les autocrates du monde entier se sont protégés mutuellement, provoquant la paralysie de l'institution. Le génocide au Cambodge, entre 1975 et 1979, n'a fait l'objet d'aucune condamnation. Le drame rwandais, en 1994, est passé sous silence des années durant. Le paroxysme est atteint en 2003, lorsque la Libye de Kadhafi accède à la présidence : après six semaines de conciliabules, personne ne trouve à redire aux massacres russes en Tchétchénie ou à la répression castriste à Cuba...

Ridiculisée, la Commission des droits de l'homme met en péril la crédibilité de l'ONU. En 2005, son secrétaire général, alors Kofi Annan, choisit de la dissoudre et la remplace l'année suivante par l'actuel Conseil, malgré l'hostilité des États-Unis. "L'ambassadeur américain à l'ONU a tout fait pour tuer ce projet, raconte Jean Ziegler, ancien rapporteur spécial de l'ONU et vice-président du comité consultatif du Conseil des droits de l'homme. Il voulait que le sujet des droits de l'homme soit traité directement par le Conseil de sécurité." Son nom ? John Bolton, l'actuel conseiller à la sécurité nationale de Donald Trump et fervent contempteur du monde onusien... 

Le pouvoir de la honte

 

Afin de ne pas retomber dans les vieux travers, les pères fondateurs, ou plutôt "refondateurs", imaginent un Conseil assaini, constitué uniquement de pays "vertueux". Mais comment les choisir ? "Nous avons longtemps cherché la solution, se souvient Eric Tistounet, haut fonctionnaire onusien et 'mémoire' de l'institution. Une ONG nous a aidés à établir des critères. Nous les avons appliqués aux 193 États membres de l'ONU. Seuls deux pays ont réussi le test : la Finlande et la République tchèque ! Nous avons finalement décidé d'inclure tout le monde..." .

Trois fois par an, les 193 délégations viennent débattre dans ce palais des Nations, sur les hauteurs de Genève, et voter des résolutions - une centaine en tout. Mais à quoi servent-elles ? "La question est pertinente, d'autant que leur contenu est souvent consensuel, répond Jean Ziegler. Mais l'on n'imagine pas l'impact qu'elles peuvent avoir. Un pays qui dépend de la Banque mondiale devra, par exemple, tenir compte des recommandations du Conseil s'il ne veut pas perdre ses lignes de crédit. Dans ses statuts, la Banque mondiale ne peut en effet prêter d'argent aux pays qui violent les droits de l'homme. D'autres craindront pour leur réputation. C'est ce que Benjamin Franklin, l'un des auteurs de la Déclaration d'indépendance américaine, appelait le pouvoir de la honte."

Le Conseil des droits de l'homme vient de voter une résolution contre la Birmanie, qu'elle considère comme responsable du massacre des Rohingyas.
Le Conseil des droits de l'homme vient de voter une résolution 
contre la Birmanie, qu'elle considère comme responsable du 
massacre des Rohingyas.
REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Calculs politiques, enjeux cruciaux

 

Le texte déposé par l'Irlande contre l'Azerbaïdjan, en juin 2015 a eu, par exemple, un impact considérable sur le régime de Bakou. "Dans les mois qui ont suivi, des prisonniers politiques ont été relâchés, commente John Fisher, directeur de l'antenne genevoise de l'ONG Human Rights Watch. C'est un calcul politique. Le gouvernement craignait d'être stigmatisé, alors qu'il fait de gros efforts pour améliorer son image à l'étranger." 

Les enjeux sont loin d'être anodins, en somme, d'où l'activisme de certains États. "Des pays comme l'Arabie saoudite, la Chine, la Russie ou Cuba cherchent à jouer un rôle croissant, constate une diplomate. Chacun tente de peser sur les résolutions, en fonction de ses intérêts." La marche à suivre est toujours la même. Si un État veut déposer une résolution - pour dénoncer les exactions d'un autre pays, par exemple -, son ambassadeur soumet d'abord son projet aux "pays frères" - ceux qui appartiennent au même continent : groupe de Lima, Union africaine, Européens... Une fois qu'il a obtenu leur soutien, le texte est soumis aux autres "blocs" régionaux.

On se bat pour une virgule

 

C'est là que les choses se corsent. Le texte est décortiqué, atrophié, tronçonné... Certains paragraphes font l'enjeu de batailles féroces. "On s'étripe pour un mot, parfois pour une virgule", témoigne Salma El Hosseiny, avocate au Service international pour les droits de l'homme (ISHR), une ONG proche de l'ONU. Car, derrière les mots, ce sont souvent des visions du monde différentes qui se heurtent. 

Depuis le retrait américain, la diplomatie ayant horreur du vide, les Chinois tentent d'imposer leur modèle, fondé sur la souveraineté nationale. Ils sont d'ailleurs venus en nombre à Genève défendre leur vision du monde. "Pékin considère que l'on ne doit pas se mêler des affaires d'un pays, souligne un diplomate occidental. Il s'oppose donc systématiquement à la constitution de commissions d'enquête, que ce soit au Yémen ou en Birmanie. C'est aussi un moyen de se prémunir contre d'éventuelles investigations au Xinjiang ou au Tibet..." Cela ne risque toutefois pas d'arriver. 

"Personne ne veut se priver du marché chinois, déplore Nicole (prénom modifié), salariée permanente à l'ONU. Du coup, on tape beaucoup plus facilement sur le Nicaragua que sur les exactions chinoises au Xinjiang. C'est justement ce que l'on reprochait à la défunte Commission." Signe des temps, Pékin a monté, pendant la dernière session, une exposition consacrée aux 40 ans des droits de l'homme en Chine. Initiative osée de la part du pays qui compterait le plus grand nombre de condamnés à mort au monde...

Stalactites fluo

 

Durant les discussions, les diplomates cherchent à obtenir un large consensus, sans quoi leur résolution passera inaperçue. Résultat, leur journée type ressemble à ça : le matin, "plénière" sur la prévention des génocides dans l'immense salle XX, au premier étage, sous l'improbable plafond constellé de stalactites fluorescentes, oeuvre de l'artiste espagnol Miquel Barceló. A midi, sandwich au bar Serpent, en compagnie d'une délégation asiatique, histoire de consolider une alliance. A 15 heures, une rencontre officieuse, un "side event" sur le Yémen, dans une petite salle en sous-sol, pour faire passer un message ou tester un éventuel allié. A 17 heures, "informel" sur la situation en Birmanie. Ces huis clos, permettent de faire avancer les dossiers... et de marchander. 

Donnant-donnant

 

Cas classique : un pays a besoin de voix pour faire passer son texte. Il va offrir son soutien à un autre État... en échange de son vote. "Tout le monde fait ça, confie une diplomate suisse. Lors de la 32e session, le Salvador nous a aidés à faire passer un texte. En échange, nous avons appuyé leur déclaration commune pour la jeunesse." "C'est comme un marché, tout le monde vient faire ses emplettes", résume Catherine Fiankan-Bokonga, correspondante permanente aux Nations unies depuis dix-huit ans, notamment pour France 24. 

Pour emporter la mise, tous les moyens sont bons. Technique en vogue, la "contre-résolution" permet de neutraliser un pays trop vindicatif. L'an dernier, l'Union européenne avait, par exemple, proposé la création d'une commission pour enquêter sur les crimes d'opposants politiques au Burundi. Une mesure jugée trop intrusive par le groupe africain, qui a, de son côté, préparé un texte beaucoup moins contraignant pour leur "frère burundais". Les deux résolutions ont été votées... et cohabitent toujours, un an plus tard !

Le régime autoritaire du Burundi a fait l'objet de deux résolutions parallèles. Une redondance absurde.
Le régime autoritaire du Burundi a fait l'objet de deux résolutions 
parallèles. Une redondance absurde.
REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

ONG de pacotille

 

Autre astuce, les fausses ONG. On les appelle les "gongos" (acronyme de Government-Organized Non-Governmental Organization). Financées par des États, elles sont, en réalité, des faux nez. "Elles se comptent par dizaines et sont très bien structurées, révèle Jean Ziegler. Récemment, deux soi-disant ONG chinoises ont ainsi organisé un 'side event', durant lequel elles ont loué la liberté religieuse en Chine. Des gongos marocaines ont aussi monté des conférences pour nier l'existence de troubles dans le Sahara occidental."

Mais il y a pire. Certaines ONG, aux noms souvent fantaisistes, louent leurs services pour des prix relativement élevés - "entre 50 000 et 100 000 dollars", précise Jean Ziegler. Un État voyou doit défendre son bilan devant le Conseil ? La veille, l'une de ces "ONG" organise une conférence de presse et, rapports à l'appui, vante les vertus démocratiques de son client... "Ces pseudo-ONG peuvent parler de n'importe quoi, s'énerve une diplomate. Le Sri Lanka y a recours, l'Erythrée et le Burundi, aussi."

Discours ridicules

 

Mais que fait le Conseil ? En réalité, rien. Car ces "ONG" ont été accréditées par le Conseil économique et social des Nations unies, à New York. Comment ? "Grâce à leurs appuis politiques", répond Eleanor Openshaw, directeur du bureau new-yorkais de l'ONG ISHR. Ainsi adoubées, elles peuvent, en toute impunité, prendre la parole en séance plénière, même si elles n'ont aucune légitimité ! "Elles enchaînent des discours sans fin et parfois ridicules, tel ce prétendu génocide en Macédoine, déplore Eric Tistounet. C'est très frustrant. Le pire, c'est qu'il y en a de plus en plus."

Cette profusion d'interventions a des effets pervers. Ces fausses ONG noient les interventions des vraies et prennent en otage les discussions, déjà longues, qui se résument souvent à une succession d'interventions de deux à trois minutes. Avec un résultat prévisible : "On effleure trop de sujets, il n'y a pas de débats", regrette Kamel Chir, sous-directeur des droits de l'homme au ministère algérien des Affaires étrangères.

Cela, Vojislav Suc en est conscient. Le président du Conseil veut profiter de son mandat pour réformer l'instance. "Il faut se donner plus de temps et traiter les sujets plus en profondeur", reconnaît-il. 

Népotisme éclairé

 

Un autre danger guette : le népotisme. Ce mois d'octobre, un tiers du Conseil doit être renouvelé. Chacun des cinq "blocs" régionaux dispose d'un quota de sièges. Or ces groupes présentent exactement le même nombre de candidats qu'il y a de sièges disponibles ! Dans ce sanctuaire autoproclamé de la démocratie, l'élection est ainsi jouée d'avance, comme en Corée du Nord ! D'où la présence d'"États voyous" parmi les 47 membres du Conseil.

En décembre prochain, l'ONU célébrera le 70e anniversaire de la Déclaration des droits de l'homme. Mais la fête risque d'être triste, tant la situation des droits humains s'est dégradée dans le monde ces dernières années. Comme le résumait, avec une certaine morgue, un diplomate : "Heureusement que l'on a écrit la Déclaration des droits de l'homme après la guerre ! De nos jours, on n'arriverait même pas à se mettre d'accord sur le préambule..."


  • "Diam's, l'islam et le voile"   
  • "Diam's, l'islam et le voile" L'Express

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domingo, 7 de octubre de 2018

The Decline and Fall of Brazil’s Political Establishment

Whether or Not Bolsonaro Wins the Presidency, a Transformation Is Underway



 Resultado de imagen para fotos bolsonaro



By

FOREIGN AFFAIRS


This October, Brazilians will go to the polls to elect a new president, and the country could become the next democracy to fall in the populist wave that has been sweeping the globe. Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right nationalist member of Congress known for making racist and chauvinistic comments, is currently leading in many polls and may very well win a second-round runoff.

At first glance, it may seem strange that a country once hailed as one of the most inclusive democracies in the developing world could elect a president who has openly attacked the rights of gay people, women, and Afro-Brazilians and who has been an apologist for military dictatorship and torture. Yet Bolsonaro’s rise makes sense when one considers the backdrop of Brazil’s culture of political corruption. After watching politicians of nearly every mainstream party be caught in corruption scandals, Brazilian voters are willing to rebel against a dysfunctional system. Unlike the traditional elites, Bolsonaro built an innovative campaign based on heavy use of social media and grassroots work to promote himself as an outsider to this system.
Whether or not Bolsonaro ends up winning, the fact remains that a broader transformation in Brazilian politics is under way. The country’s traditional centrist establishment that has ruled since the transition from military dictatorship in the 1980s is in decline. For now, Brazil appears to be headed for another lost decade, but with the right reforms the country could build a more transparent political system that would deliver effective governance for its citizens.

For decades, the generation of leaders that oversaw the transition from military dictatorship dominated Brazilian politics. But the establishment of democracy was not about sweeping aside the corrupt institutional landscape that had been created by the dictatorship. Rather, it was an exercise in reconciling popular demand for political openness while upholding the benefits of vested interest groups that had flourished under military rule. Although the 1988 constitution provided for universal suffrage for the first time in Brazil’s history, it also gave politicians a way to game the system.

Permissive regulations allowed incumbents to use the powers of office to raise money in corruption schemes and use the funds in lavish political campaigns and vote-buying. For decades, lax corruption regulation and permissive campaign finance rules allowed them to do so with impunity, making deals with private companies to award lucrative government contracts in exchange for campaign resources.
To work properly, this system required close collaboration between the legislative and the executive branches. Presidents in Brazil control the government machine that makes corrupt deals possible, and for decades have used them to manipulate Congress by strategically distributing opportunities for corruption to gain political support. The result is that government policies have been designed not to provide effective public services but to facilitate rent-seeking and corruption opportunities for politicians and well-connected groups.

This arrangement had been stable for decades, but cracks began to appear with the Operation Car Wash investigation, in which prosecutors uncovered a vast criminal network dedicated to laundering the proceeds of corrupt deals between politicians and construction companies. Politicians used their power and influence to nominate cronies to high-level positions in state-owned companies. They in turn would later work to award lucrative contracts to private groups who paid large fees under the table for the privilege. Disgusted by the revelations, voters now seek to elect a president who has no ties to this way of doing politics and who can make a credible commitment to fight against it.

Virtually every presidential candidate paid lip service to tackling corruption, but Bolsonaro was the first to understand that he could use his reputation as an outsider to his advantage. When protesters took to the streets to demand the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, Bolsonaro joined the crowds. When Congress voted on impeachment, Bolsonaro made a speech arguing that the military dictatorship that existed in Brazil from 1964 to 1985 had been free of corruption. After Rousseff left office, he refused to support the new government and spent his time traveling the country and offering seemingly easy solutions to problems of crime and drugs, while claiming publicly to be the only politician in Congress who had not participated in corrupt deals.

With the revelations from Operation Car Wash, the cost of alliances between presidential hopefuls and traditional political forces is going up.
 
Meanwhile, other presidential candidates returned to the traditional campaign strategies known to have worked before. Some, such as Brazilian Social Democarcy Party candidate Geraldo Alckmin, built alliances with regional party leaders, seeking the financial resources that they could offer.

Others, such as Sustainability Party candidate Marina Silva, attempted to shift the debate away from how to fix Brazil’s broken political system by pointing to Bolsonaro’s radicalism. Yet such tactics only made him more popular. By taking advantage of social media, he succeeded in using attacks to further legitimize himself as the antiestablishment candidate fighting against a corrupt elite.

With the revelations from Operation Car Wash, the cost of alliances between presidential hopefuls and traditional political forces is going up. Presidents will no longer be able to use their control over government to buy the support of the political class. As a result, politics in Brazil will become more conflictual and polarized.

There is no easy way out of Brazil’s current predicament. The road ahead will necessarily involve reforms to bring about a new way of doing politics. Brazilians must work to reform Congress and make it more accountable. Unlike presidents, legislators are still insulated by a flawed open-list proportional voting system, which impedes the rise of programmatic parties. Current voting rules make campaigning for Congress expensive, force candidates to compete with colleagues of the same party, and exacerbate fragmentation—there are currently 25 parties represented in Brazil’s legislature.

To improve accountability, Brazilians should change the electoral system by making at least half of the seats in the legislature elected by majoritarian vote and by drastically reducing the size of the districts used for proportional representation. This would strengthen parties, reduce fragmentation, reduce the financial costs of campaigning, and improve voters’ ability to monitor their representatives.

Bolsonaro has seized the opportunity created by Operation Car Wash masterfully. Yet it is unlikely that he will be able to deliver on the reforms that Brazil’s political system so desperately needs. He is weaving a web of promises and hope that will end in further frustration and disenchantment with the political system. If a reform-driven agenda does emerge, it will most likely result from pressure from civil society and anti-corruption activists. Without meaningful reform of the political system, Brazil appears to be headed for another lost decade, much like the one that existed in the 1980s after Latin America’s debt crisis.

But this crisis also represents an opportunity for reformers to promote a positive agenda, based on strengthening democratic institutions and promoting accountability. Brazilians are ready to move on from the perverse political practices of the past. With the right reforms, Brazil’s democracy could take a different path, delivering much-needed public goods and a route back to economic growth. Real change will come from outside the political establishment. Advocates for reform should seize the moment.

ORIGINAL LINK : https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/brazil/2018-10-01/decline-and-fall-brazils-political-establishment

domingo, 30 de septiembre de 2018

Migrant Children in Danger


Hundreds of Migrant Children Quietly Moved to a Tent Camp on the Texas Border


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Migrant children at a detention facility in Tornillo, Tex.CreditCreditMike Blake/Reuters

  • The New York Times

In shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night in recent weeks and loaded onto buses with backpacks and snacks for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas.

Until now, most undocumented children being held by federal immigration authorities had been housed in private foster homes or shelters, sleeping two or three to a room. They received formal schooling and regular visits with legal representatives assigned to their immigration cases.

But in the rows of sand-colored tents in Tornillo, Tex., children in groups of 20, separated by gender, sleep lined up in bunks. There is no school: The children are given workbooks that they have no obligation to complete. Access to legal services is limited.'

These midnight voyages are playing out across the country, as the federal government struggles to find room for more than 13,000 detained migrant children — the largest population ever — whose numbers have increased more than fivefold since last year.


The average length of time that migrant children spend in custody has nearly doubled over the same period, from 34 days to 59, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees their care.

To deal with the surging shelter populations, which have hovered near 90 percent of capacity since May, a mass reshuffling is underway and shows no signs of slowing. Hundreds of children are being shipped from shelters to West Texas each week, totaling more than 1,600 so far.

The camp in Tornillo operates like a small, pop-up city, about 35 miles southeast of El Paso on the Mexico border, complete with portable toilets. Air-conditioned tents that vary in size are used for housing, recreation and medical care. Originally opened in June for 30 days with a capacity of 400, it expanded in September to be able to house 3,800, and is now expected to remain open at least through the end of the year.

“It is common to use influx shelters as done on military bases in the past, and the intent is to use these temporary facilities only as long as needed,” said Evelyn Stauffer, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department.

Ms. Stauffer said the need for the tent city reflected serious problems in the immigration system.
“The number of families and unaccompanied alien children apprehended are a symptom of the larger problem, namely a broken immigration system,” Ms. Stauffer said. “Their ages and the hazardous journey they take make unaccompanied alien children vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. That is why H.H.S. joins the president in calling on Congress to reform this broken system.”

But the mass transfers are raising alarm among immigrant advocates, who were already concerned about the lengthy periods of time children are spendong in federal custody.

The roughly 100 shelters that have, until now, been the main location for housing detained migrant children are licensed and monitored by state child welfare authorities, who impose requirements on safety and education as well as staff hiring and training.

The tent city in Tornillo, on the other hand, is unregulated, except for guidelines created by the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, schooling is not required there, as it is in regular migrant children shelters.

Mark Greenberg, who oversaw the care of migrant children under President Barack Obama, helped to craft the emergency shelter guidelines. He said the agency tried “to the greatest extent possible” to ensure that conditions in facilities like the one at Tornillo would mirror those in regular shelters, “but there are some ways in which that’s difficult or impossible to do.”

Several shelter workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being fired, described what they said has become standard practice for moving the children: In order to avoid escape attempts, the moves are carried out late at night because children will be less likely to try to run away. For the same reason, children are generally given little advance warning that they will be moved.

At one shelter in the Midwest whose occupants were among those recently transferred to Tornillo, about two dozen children were given just a few hours’ notice last week before they were loaded onto buses — any longer than that, according to one of the shelter workers, and the children may have panicked or tried to flee.

The children wore belts etched in pen with phone numbers for their emergency contacts. One young boy asked the shelter worker if he would be taken care of in Texas. The shelter worker replied that he would, and told him that by moving, he was making space for other children like him who were stuck at the border and needed a place to live

Some staff members cried when they learned of the move, the shelter worker said, fearing what was in store for the children who had been in their care. Others tried to protest. But managers explained that tough choices had to be made to deal with the overflowing population.

The system for sheltering migrant children came under strain this summer, when the already large numbers were boosted by more than 2,500 young border crossers who were separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy. But those children were only a fraction of the total number who are currently detained.

Most of the detained children crossed the border alone, without their parents. Some crossed illegally; others are seeking asylum.

Children who are deemed “unaccompanied minors,” either because they were separated from their parents or crossed the border alone, are held in federal custody until they can be matched with sponsors, usually relatives or family friends, who agree to house them while their immigration cases play out in the courts.

The move to Texas is meant to be temporary. Rather than send new arrivals there, the government is sending children who are likely to be released sooner, and will spend less time there—mainly older children, ages 13 to 17, who are considered close to being placed with sponsors. Still, because sponsorship placements are often protracted, immigrant advocates said there was a possibility that many of the children could be living in the tent city for months.

“Obviously we have concerns about kids falling through the cracks, not getting sufficient attention if they need attention, not getting the emotional or mental health care that they need,” said Leah Chavla, a lawyer with the Women’s Refugee Commission, an advocacy group.

“This cannot be the right solution,” Ms. Chavla said. “We need to focus on making sure that kids can get placed with sponsors and get out of custody.”


The number of detained migrant children has spiked even though monthly border crossings have remained relatively unchanged, in part because harsh rhetoric and policies introduced by the Trump administration have made it harder to place children with sponsors.

Traditionally, most sponsors have been undocumented immigrants themselves, and have feared jeopardizing their own ability to remain in the country by stepping forward to claim a child. The risk increased in June, when federal authorities announced that potential sponsors and other adult members of their households would have to submit fingerprints, and that the data would be shared with immigration authorities.

Last week, Matthew Albence, a senior official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, testified before Congress that the agency had arrested dozens of people who applied to sponsor unaccompanied minors. The agency later confirmed that 70 percent of those arrested did not have prior criminal records.

“Close to 80 percent of the individuals that are either sponsors or household members of sponsors are here in the country illegally, and a large chunk of those are criminal aliens. So we are continuing to pursue those individuals,” Mr. Albence said.

Seeking to process the children more quickly, officials introduced new rules that will require some of them to appear in court within a month of being detained, rather than after 60 days, which was the previous standard, according to shelter workers. Many will appear via video conference call, rather than in person, to plead their case for legal status to an immigration judge. Those who are deemed ineligible for relief will be swiftly deported.

The longer that children remain in custody, the more likely they are to become anxious or depressed, which can lead to violent outbursts or escape attempts, according to shelter workers and reports that have emerged from the system in recent months.

Advocates said those concerns are heightened at a larger facility like Tornillo, where signs that a child is struggling are more likely to be overlooked, because of its size. They added that moving children to the tent city without providing enough time to prepare them emotionally or to say goodbye to friends could compound trauma that many are already struggling with.

The Myth of the Liberal Order




Illiberal disorder: a U.S. military police officer in Karbala, Iraq, July 2003.



The Myth of the Liberal Order

From Historical Accident to Conventional Wisdom


FOREIGN AFFAIRS
July/August 2018
Among the debates that have swept the U.S. foreign policy community since the beginning of the Trump administration, alarm about the fate of the liberal international rules-based order has emerged as one of the few fixed points. From the international relations scholar G. John Ikenberry’s claim that “for seven decades the world has been dominated by a western liberal order” to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s call in the final days of the Obama administration to “act urgently to defend the liberal international order,” this banner waves atop most discussions of the United States’ role in the world. 
About this order, the reigning consensus makes three core claims. First, that the liberal order has been the principal cause of the so-called long peace among great powers for the past seven decades. Second, that constructing this order has been the main driver of U.S. engagement in the world over that period. And third, that U.S. President Donald Trump is the primary threat to the liberal order—and thus to world peace. 

The political scientist Joseph Nye, for example, has written, “The demonstrable success of the order in helping secure and stabilize the world over the past seven decades has led to a strong consensus that defending, deepening, and extending this system has been and continues to be the central task of U.S. foreign policy.” Nye has gone so far as to assert: “I am not worried by the rise of China. I am more worried by the rise of Trump.”

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Although all these propositions contain some truth, each is more wrong than right. The “long peace” was not the result of a liberal order but the byproduct of the dangerous balance of power between the Soviet Union and the United States during the four and a half decades of the Cold War and then of a brief period of U.S. dominance. U.S. engagement in the world has been driven not by the desire to advance liberalism abroad or to build an international order but by the need to do what was necessary to preserve liberal democracy at home. And although Trump is undermining key elements of the current order, he is far from the biggest threat to global stability. 
These misconceptions about the liberal order’s causes and consequences lead its advocates to call for the United States to strengthen the order by clinging to pillars from the past and rolling back authoritarianism around the globe. Yet rather than seek to return to an imagined past in which the United States molded the world in its image, Washington should limit its efforts to ensuring sufficient order abroad to allow it to concentrate on reconstructing a viable liberal democracy at home.


CONCEPTUAL JELL-O

The ambiguity of each of the terms in the phrase “liberal international rules-based order” creates a slipperiness that allows the concept to be applied to almost any situation. When, in 2017, members of the World Economic Forum in Davos crowned Chinese President Xi Jinping the leader of the liberal economic order—even though he heads the most protectionist, mercantilist, and predatory major economy in the world—they revealed that, at least in this context, the word “liberal” has come unhinged. 
What is more, “rules-based order” is redundant. Order is a condition created by rules and regularity. What proponents of the liberal international rules-based order really mean is an order that embodies good rules, ones that are equal or fair. The United States is said to have designed an order that others willingly embrace and sustain.
Many forget, however, that even the UN Charter, which prohibits nations from using military force against other nations or intervening in their internal affairs, privileges the strong over the weak. Enforcement of the charter’s prohibitions is the preserve of the UN Security Council, on which each of the five great powers has a permanent seat—and a veto. As the Indian strategist C. Raja Mohan has observed, superpowers are “exceptional”; that is, when they decide it suits their purpose, they make exceptions for themselves. The fact that in the first 17 years of this century, the self-proclaimed leader of the liberal order invaded two countries, conducted air strikes and Special Forces raids to kill hundreds of people it unilaterally deemed to be terrorists, and subjected scores of others to “extraordinary rendition,” often without any international legal authority (and sometimes without even national legal authority), speaks for itself.

COLD WAR ORDER 

The claim that the liberal order produced the last seven decades of peace overlooks a major fact: the first four of those decades were defined not by a liberal order but by a cold war between two polar opposites. As the historian who named this “long peace” has explained, the international system that prevented great-power war during that time was the unintended consequence of the struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States. In John Lewis Gaddis’ words, “Without anyone’s having designed it, and without any attempt whatever to consider the requirements of justice, the nations of the postwar era lucked into a system of international relations that, because it has been based upon realities of power, has served the cause of order—if not justice—better than one might have expected.” 

During the Cold War, both superpowers enlisted allies and clients around the globe, creating what came to be known as a bipolar world. Within each alliance or bloc, order was enforced by the superpower (as Hungarians and Czechs discovered when they tried to defect in 1956 and 1968, respectively, and as the British and French learned when they defied U.S. wishes in 1956, during the Suez crisis). Order emerged from a balance of power, which allowed the two superpowers to develop the constraints that preserved what U.S. President John F. Kennedy called, in the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the “precarious status quo.”
What moved a country that had for almost two centuries assiduously avoided entangling military alliances, refused to maintain a large standing military during peacetime, left international economics to others, and rejected the League of Nations to use its soldiers, diplomats, and money to reshape half the world? In a word, fear. The strategists revered by modern U.S. scholars as “the wise men” believed that the Soviet Union posed a greater threat to the United States than Nazism had. As the diplomat George Kennan wrote in his legendary “Long Telegram,” the Soviet Union was “a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with US there can be no permanent modus vivendi.” Soviet Communists, Kennan wrote, believed it was necessary that “our society be disrupted, our traditional way of life be destroyed, the international authority of our state be broken, if Soviet power [was] to be secure.” 

Before the nuclear age, such a threat would have required a hot war as intense as the one the United States and its allies had just fought against Nazi Germany. But after the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb, in 1949, American statesmen began wrestling with the thought that total war as they had known it was becoming obsolete. In the greatest leap of strategic imagination in the history of U.S. foreign policy, they developed a strategy for a form of combat never previously seen, the conduct of war by every means short of physical conflict between the principal combatants. 

To prevent a cold conflict from turning hot, they accepted—for the time being—many otherwise unacceptable facts, such as the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. They modulated their competition with mutual constraints that included three noes: no use of nuclear weapons, no overt killing of each other’s soldiers, and no military intervention in the other’s recognized sphere of influence. 

American strategists incorporated Western Europe and Japan into this war effort because they saw them as centers of economic and strategic gravity. To this end, the United States launched the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe, founded the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and negotiated the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to promote global prosperity. And to ensure that Western Europe and Japan remained in active cooperation with the United States, it established NATO and the U.S.-Japanese alliance.

Each initiative served as a building block in an order designed first and foremost to defeat the Soviet adversary. Had there been no Soviet threat, there would have been no Marshall Plan and no NATO. The United States has never promoted liberalism abroad when it believed that doing so would pose a significant threat to its vital interests at home. Nor has it ever refrained from using military force to protect its interests when the use of force violated international rules. Had there been no Soviet threat, there would have been no Marshall Plan and no Nato. 

Nonetheless, when the United States has had the opportunity to advance freedom for others—again, with the important caveat that doing so would involve little risk to itself—it has acted. From the founding of the republic, the nation has embraced radical, universalistic ideals. In proclaiming that “all” people “are created equal,” the Declaration of Independence did not mean just those living in the 13 colonies.

It was no accident that in reconstructing its defeated adversaries  Germany and Japan and shoring up its allies in Western Europe, the United States sought to build liberal democracies that would embrace shared values as well as shared interests. The ideological campaign against the Soviet Union hammered home fundamental, if exaggerated, differences between “the free world” and “the evil empire.” Moreover, American policymakers knew that in mobilizing and sustaining support in Congress and among the public, appeals to values are as persuasive as arguments about interests.

In his memoir, Present at the Creation, former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson, an architect of the postwar effort, explained the thinking that motivated U.S. foreign policy. The prospect of Europe falling under Soviet control through a series of “‘settlements by default’ to Soviet pressure” required the “creation of strength throughout the free world” that would “show the Soviet leaders by successful containment that they could not hope to expand their influence throughout the world.” Persuading Congress and the American public to support this undertaking, Acheson acknowledged, sometimes required making the case “clearer than truth.” 

UNIPOLAR ORDER

In the aftermath of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s campaign to “bury communism,” Americans were understandably caught up in a surge of triumphalism. The adversary on which they had focused for over 40 years stood by as the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and Germany reunified. It then joined with the United States in a unanimous UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to throw the Iraqi military out of Kuwait. As the iron fist of Soviet oppression withdrew, free people in Eastern Europe embraced market economies and democracy. U.S. President George H. W. Bush declared a “new world order.” Hereafter, under a banner of “engage and enlarge,” the United States would welcome a world clamoring to join a growing liberal order. 

Writing about the power of ideas, the economist John Maynard Keynes noted, “Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.” In this case, American politicians were following a script offered by the political scientist Francis Fukuyama in his best-selling 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man. Fukuyama argued that millennia of conflict among ideologies were over. From this point on, all nations would embrace free-market economics to make their citizens rich and democratic governments to make them free. “What we may be witnessing,” he wrote, “is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” In 1996, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman went even further by proclaiming the “Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention”: “When a country reaches a certain level of economic development, when it has a middle class big enough to support a McDonald’s, it becomes a McDonald’s country, and people in McDonald’s countries don’t like to fight wars; they like to wait in line for burgers.” 

This vision led to an odd coupling of neoconservative crusaders on the right and liberal interventionists on the left. Together, they persuaded a succession of U.S. presidents to try to advance the spread of capitalism and liberal democracy through the barrel of a gun. In 1999, Bill Clinton bombed Belgrade to force it to free Kosovo. In 2003, George W. Bush invaded Iraq to topple its president, Saddam Hussein. When his stated rationale for the invasion collapsed after U.S. forces were unable to find weapons of mass destruction, Bush declared a new mission: “to build a lasting democracy that is peaceful and prosperous.” In the words of Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser at the time, “Iraq and Afghanistan are vanguards of this effort to spread democracy and tolerance and freedom throughout the Greater Middle East.” And in 2011, Barack Obama embraced the Arab Spring’s promise to bring democracy to the nations of the Middle East and sought to advance it by bombing Libya and deposing its brutal leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi. Few in Washington paused to note that in each case, the unipolar power was using military force to impose liberalism on countries whose governments could not strike back. Since the world had entered a new chapter of history, lessons from the past about the likely consequences of such behavior were ignored. The end of the Cold War produced a unipolar moment, not a unipolar era. 

As is now clear, the end of the Cold War produced a unipolar moment, not a unipolar era. Today, foreign policy elites have woken up to the meteoric rise of an authoritarian China, which now rivals or even surpasses the United States in many domains, and the resurgence of an assertive, illiberal Russian nuclear superpower, which is willing to use its military to change both borders in Europe and the balance of power in the Middle East. More slowly and more painfully, they are discovering that the United States’ share of global power has shrunk. When measured by the yardstick of purchasing power parity, the U.S. economy, which accounted for half of the world’s GDP after World War II, had fallen to less than a quarter of global GDP by the end of the Cold War and stands at just one-seventh today. For a nation whose core strategy has been to overwhelm challenges with resources, this decline calls into question the terms of U.S. leadership.

This rude awakening to the return of history jumps out in the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, released at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, respectively. The NDS notes that in the unipolar decades, “the United States has enjoyed uncontested or dominant superiority in every operating domain.” As a consequence, “we could generally deploy our forces when we wanted, assemble them where we wanted, and operate how we wanted.” But today, as the NSS observes, China and Russia “are fielding military capabilities designed to deny America access in times of crisis and to contest our ability to operate freely.” Revisionist powers, it concludes, are “trying to change the international order in their favor.”

THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT

During most of the nation’s 242 years, Americans have recognized the necessity to give priority to ensuring freedom at home over advancing aspirations abroad. The Founding Fathers were acutely aware that constructing a government in which free citizens would govern themselves was an uncertain, hazardous undertaking. Among the hardest questions they confronted was how to create a government powerful enough to ensure Americans’ rights at home and protect them from enemies abroad without making it so powerful that it would abuse its strength.

Their solution, as the presidential scholar Richard Neustadt wrote, was not just a “separation of powers” among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches but “separated institutions sharing power.” The Constitution was an “invitation to struggle.” And presidents, members of Congress, judges, and even journalists have been struggling ever since. The process was not meant to be pretty. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis explained to those frustrated by the delays, gridlock, and even idiocy these checks and balances sometimes produce, the founders’ purpose was “not to promote efficiency but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power.” 

From this beginning, the American experiment in self-government has always been a work in progress. It has lurched toward failure on more than one occasion. When Abraham Lincoln asked “whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, . . . can long endure,” it was not a rhetorical question. But repeatedly and almost miraculously, it has demonstrated a capacity for renewal and reinvention. Throughout this ordeal, the recurring imperative for American leaders has been to show that liberalism can survive in at least one country.

For nearly two centuries, that meant warding off foreign intervention and leaving others to their fates. Individual Americans may have sympathized with French revolutionary cries of “Liberty, equality, fraternity!”; American traders may have spanned the globe; and American missionaries may have sought to win converts on all continents. But in choosing when and where to spend its blood and treasure, the U.S. government focused on the United States

Only in the aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II did American strategists conclude that the United States’ survival required greater entanglement abroad. Only when they perceived a Soviet attempt to create an empire that would pose an unacceptable threat did they develop and sustain the alliances and institutions that fought the Cold War. Throughout that effort, as NSC-68, a Truman administration national security policy paper that summarized U.S. Cold War strategy, stated, the mission was “to preserve the United States as a free nation with our fundamental institutions and values intact.”

SUFFICIENT UNTO THE DAY

Among the current, potentially mortal threats to the global order, Trump is one, but not the most important. His withdrawal from initiatives championed by earlier administrations aimed at constraining greenhouse gas emissions and promoting trade has been unsettling, and his misunderstanding of the strength that comes from unity with allies is troubling. Yet the rise of China, the resurgence of Russia, and the decline of the United States’ share of global power each present much larger challenges than Trump. Moreover, it is impossible to duck the question: Is Trump more a symptom or a cause? 

While I was on a recent trip to Beijing, a high-level Chinese official posed an uncomfortable question to me. Imagine, he said, that as much of the American elite believes, Trump’s character and experience make him unfit to serve as the leader of a great nation. Who would be to blame for his being president? Trump, for his opportunism in seizing victory, or the political system that allowed him to do so?

No one denies that in its current form, the U.S. government is failing. Long before Trump, the political class that brought unending, unsuccessful wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, as well as the financial crisis and Great Recession, had discredited itself. These disasters have done more to diminish confidence in liberal self-government than Trump could do in his critics’ wildest imaginings, short of a mistake that leads to a catastrophic war. The overriding challenge for American believers in democratic governance is thus nothing less than to reconstruct a working democracy at home. 

Fortunately, that does not require converting the Chinese, the Russians, or anyone else to American beliefs about liberty. Nor does it necessitate changing foreign regimes into democracies. Instead, as Kennedy put it in his American University commencement speech, in 1963, it will be enough to sustain a world order “safe for diversity”—liberal and illiberal alike. That will mean adapting U.S. efforts abroad to the reality that other countries have contrary views about governance and seek to establish their own international orders governed by their own rules. Achieving even a minimal order that can accommodate that diversity will take a surge of strategic imagination as far beyond the current conventional wisdom as the Cold War strategy that emerged over the four years after Kennan’s Long Telegram was from the Washington consensus in 1946.

LINK:  https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2018-06-14/myth-liberal-order

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