Category Archives: America in Decline, Autumn 2017

Entangled in the Web of the Silk Road

The Philippines’ foreign policy turn away from America and towards China signals a shifting world order.

By Juda Jelinek.

The anti-crime politician and mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, took office as the 16th president of the Philippines one year ago, on June 30, 2016. Since then, the country has witnessed the extra-judicial killing of an estimated 7,000 people by the state, and Duterte has jeopardized his country’s diplomatic relations with the U.S. by expressing strong anti-American sentiments and evoking anti-colonialist nationalist rhetoric. He has taken a more pragmatic approach in reconciling Chinese-Philippine relations, but controversially, Duterte has put to rest the question of enforcing the long sought-after verdict of the International Arbitration Court, which ruled in favor of the Philippines regarding the South-Chinese sea dispute. In other words, he’s giving the Spratly Islands to Beijing.

These foreign policy actions are in sharp contrast to those pursued by the administration of former President Corazon Aquino, who strongly promoted Philippine maritime interests in the South-China Sea and sought a strategic military alliance with the USA to ensure the geopolitical power balance in the Southeast Asian region. These mark fundamental changes to Philippine foreign policy that will have a substantial effect on world politics by reconfiguring the unstable order associated with the Southeast Asian region, which may ultimately result in increased global insecurity. The change of the Philippines’ foreign policy towards China is part of a larger and more powerful phenomena: the inescapable end of …

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Xi’s Master Plan

China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is the largest plan of foreign investment the world has ever seen.

By Sazzad Haider.

Chinese President Xi Jinping formally kicked off the newest implementation phase of the One Belt One Road initiative during the grand gathering of world leaders in May in Beijing. Representatives from 68 countries from five continents, including 28 heads of state, participated in the conference at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Worth $5 trillion U.S., the One Belt One Road initiative (OBOR)—which China is officially trying to rechristen as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in English—is the Chinese leader’s most visionary project leading up to the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese revolution in 2049 and a bid to make China the world’s number-one economic powerhouse. In 2013, Xi adopted the concept of OBOR as one of the greatest investment projects in the history of the planet. After the Second World War, the U.S.A. launched the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Western Europe, investing the equivalent to $130 billion in today’s dollars. For One Belt One Road, China has already invested $1 trillion, and several trillion more is due to be spent over the next decade.

The creation of OBOR has the basic objective of gaining both political and economic supremacy over western countries for China. Following the country’s revolution, China’s leadership strongly denounced Western capitalism and vowed to fight against U.S.-led imperialism and expansionism. Mao Zedong, founder of modern China, set the stages for China to rival America’s leadership. He introduced and developed the three-world theory. According to this theory, still in common usage, the First World is comprised of U.S.-led Western countries; the Second World consisted, until its collapse, of the Soviet Union and its allies; and together all the countries of Asia, except Japan, along with all of Africa and Latin America makes up the Third World. Mao Zedong intended to be the pathfinder for the Third World countries in a struggle against Western exploitation. Since the foundation of the new China, the Chinese leadership has …

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Trump Turns his Back on the World

By pulling out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, Trump has abdicated America’s position as a global leader.

By Alexander H. Maurice.

At the beginning of June of this year, Donald Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change. Though not unexpected, this announcement has been met with widespread condemnation from around the world and places both the United States and the rest of the world on a more precarious footing as extreme weather patterns and rising sea levels threaten millions of lives and global stability. If the United States follows through with this announcement, they will be one of only three countries not party to the Agreement—along with Nicaragua, which didn’t sign on the grounds the Agreement didn’t go far enough, and Syria, which is in no position to have an opinion. For the planet, the question now is whether it is still possible to meet the target of limiting rising temperatures to the agreed-upon 2°C increase without the U.S. government’s official commitment to the Paris Agreement. For the world, the question is what this means for the United States’ position in the global community.

America Falls Behind

The Paris Agreement on climate change was signed in April last year by 194 countries and the European Union. It was then ratified by many of those countries and went into effect on November 4. The Paris Agreement is the first comprehensive global agreement on climate change, and it took years of intense negotiations to find a formulation that all countries were able to agree to. While some criticized the Agreement for not including consequences for countries failing to meet their commitments, making it voluntary and thus more a statement of good intentions, it was hailed as a good first step demonstrating a unified global commitment to moving forward away from fossil fuels. The official aim of the Paris Agreement is to halt “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would …

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The Danger of the Meme

The insidious online rise of the alt-right has created a new, extremist political movement.

By Daniel Vidos.

If an image is worth a thousand words, then thousands of images are equivalent to millions of words. No matter how well-read you are, or how well you write or speak, mere words simply can’t compete against the visual germ warfare of the alt-right’s meme-based white tribalism. The Internet-spawned alt-right movement is pumping out a flood of anti-multiculturalism memes, not only in order to self-indulgently wallow in their racial hatred, but also to keep up the tension and provocation on which they feed—which, given the movement’s origins in the darker recesses of Internet trolling, might be the whole point to begin with.

Should we take the movement seriously? The question often arises; after all, how much harm can supposedly funny images on the Internet do? After their appearance at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one woman was killed by a member of the alt-right, the movement must absolutely be taken seriously. Who is the alt-right addressing and what factions does it have? Analyzing over 3000 alt-right memes from the American 2016 election cycle leads to only one conclusion: the alt-right movement is as far right as one can get. From images of Donald Trump burning Bernie Sanders in an oven for his Jewish origins to a Minesweeper Tank being titled the “Nigger Whipper 9000” to info graphs purporting to explain how a supposed IQ gap between Africans and Whites correlates with poverty, crime, and antisocial behavior, the alt-right’s memes reveal its ideology. It is at best a hate group and at worst an American nightmare.

The alt-right’s adoption of memes is perhaps unsurprising. Taking their name from Richard Dawkins’s explanation of how information spreads, a meme is generally an image to which humorous text has been added. A classic example would be of a frowning cat superimposed with the words “Not impressed”. The image then spreads from the creator to others who share it, often using it as punctuation or shorthand—for instance, someone might post about a poor experience in a store and sum up their reaction by including the meme of the unimpressed cat. While originally the term referred to images that had gone viral, it has …

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