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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Travel Ban is Revealing ––––but Does Not Threaten American Medicine

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

This essay is a response to the hand wringing of many academic and corporate medical workers lamenting the potential effect of the recent travel ban, which was blocked in a most absurd and unconstitutional manner by           a 3-judge panel of the 9th circuit court of appeals.

 

Travel Ban is Revealing ––––but Does Not Threaten American Medicine

 

Jane Orient, M.D.

2/9/2017

 

A 90-day ban on travel from seven countries has sparked tremendous outpourings of “worry” or outright opposition by some 33 medical organizations.

 

“The community is reeling over the order, fearing that it will have devastating repercussions for research and advances in science and medicine,” states an article in Modern Healthcare.

 

Certainly the order is disrupting the lives of individual physicians who have won coveted positions in American medical institutions and were not already in the U.S. when the order was issued. Also their employers have a gap in the work schedule to fill. War tears people’s lives apart, however innocent they may be. And countries that sponsor terrorism have effectively declared war on the U.S.

 

But is American medicine so fragile that it can’t survive a 90-day delay in the arrival of physicians, most of them trainees, from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan? After all, every year more than a thousand seniors in U.S. medical schools do not land a position in a post-graduate training program through the annual computerized “Match” of graduates with internships. After another chance through the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program, or SOAP, hundreds of seniors are still without a job. This means that they cannot get a license to practice in the U.S., however desperate rural communities or inner-city hospitals are to find a physician, and their four years of rigorous, costly post-college education are wasted. Yet James Madara, CEO of the American Medical Association (AMA), is worried about vacant residency slots, according to a Feb 3 article in MedScape by Robert Lowes.

Entry to medical school is highly competitive, so presumably all the students are well-qualified. Can it be that graduates from Sudan are better trained? Does the U.S. have so few young people capable of and interested in a medical career that we have to depend on a brain drain from countries that are themselves desperately short of physicians?

 

For all the emphasis on “cultural competence” in American medical schools, and onerous regulations regarding interpreters for non-English speakers, what about familiarity with American culture and ability to communicate effectively with American English speakers? Some foreign-born graduates are doubtless excellent, but many American patients do complain about a communication gap. So why do some big institutions seem to prefer foreigners? Could it be that they want cheap, and above all compliant labor? Physicians here on an employment-related visa dare not object to hospital policy.

 

Whatever the reasons for them, here are some facts about the American medical work force:

  • One-fourth of practicing physicians in this country are international medical graduates (IMGs), who are more likely to work in underserved areas, especially in primary care, according to Madara.
  • According to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), 10,000 IMGs licensed in the United States graduated from medical schools in the seven countries affected by the ban.
  • Immigrants account for 28% of U.S. physicians and surgeons, 40% of medical scientists in manufacturing research and development, and 15% of registered nurses, according to the Institute for Immigration Research at George Mason University. More than 60,000 of the 14 million workers in health-related fields were from the seven countries affected by the ban.

Is medicine, like agriculture, now filled with “jobs that Americans won’t do”? Actually, we have more than enough Americans who love medical work. But some of best doctors are being driven out by endless bureaucratic requirements, including costly “Maintenance of Certification™” programs that line the pockets of self-accredited “experts” but contribute nothing to patient care. They are being replaced (substituted for) by “mid-levels” with far less training. Then there are thousands of independent physicians having to retire or become employees because they can’t afford the regulatory requirements—soon to be greatly worsened by MACRA, the new Medicare payment system. Physician “burnout” is becoming so bad that we lose up to 400 physicians—the equivalent of a large medical school class—to suicide every year.

 

The U.S. should be a beacon to attract the best and brightest, and it should welcome those who want to become Americans. Unfortunately, the lives of Americans, as well as the opportunities of aspiring foreign-born doctors, are threatened by those who desire to kill Americans and destroy our culture. These must be screened out.

Meanwhile, the reaction of organized medical groups to the travel ban is spotlighting serious problems in American medicine.

 

 

Jane M. Orient, M.D.obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989.  Dr. Orient is the 2017 recipient of The Edward Annis award for medical leadership.

Obama’s Medal

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

Another unforgettable moment in the almost 8 years of President Barack Hussain Obama

Vision to America News

Obama Awards Himself with Distinguished Public Service Medal

January 5, 2017

By: Joe Newby

On Wednesday, Warner Todd Huston reported at Breitbart.com that President Obama added another medal to his collection when he had Defense Secretary Ash Carter award him with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

According to Huston:

Secretary Carter awarded his boss with the medal on January 4 during the Armed Forces Full Honor Farewell Review for the President held at Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.

Carter insisted that the medal was a token of appreciation for Obama’s service as commander in chief, the Associated Press reported.

After spending the last few weeks throwing roadblocks in the path of President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team, Obama nonetheless claimed in his remarks to the members of the military in attendance that “We’ve got to make sure that during this transition period that there is a seamless passing of the baton, that there’s continuity.”

“Thus, President Obama officially declares himself the greatest public servant during his own tenure,” a post at Conservative Treehouse said.

Defense Secy Carter presents Pres Obama with Dept of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. — Mark Knoller (@markknoller) January 4, 2017

Obama, Israel and the UN

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

A Remarkably Complete Analysis of the Recent Unexpected and Highly Anti-Israeli Resolition That the Obama Administration Allowed to Be Passed.

Obama’s Betrayal of Israel
by Guy Millière
January 13, 2017

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9755/obama-betrayal-israel

• President Obama’s decision not to use the US veto in the UN Security Council and to let pass Resolution 2334, effectively sets the boundaries of a future Palestinian state. The resolution declares all of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem — home to the Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount — the most sacred place in Judaism — “occupied Palestinian territory,” and is a declaration of war against Israel.
• Resolution 2334 nullified any possibility of further negotiations by giving the Palestinians everything in exchange for nothing — not even an insincere promise of peace.
• The next act is the Orwellian-named “peace conference,” to be held in Paris on January 15. It has but one objective: to set the stage to eradicate Israel.
• In this new “Dreyfus trial,” the accused will be the only Jewish state and the accusers will be the OIC and officials from Islamized, dhimmified, anti-Israel Western states. As in the Dreyfus trial, the verdict has been decided before it even starts. Israel will be considered guilty of all charges and condemned. A draft of the declaration to be published at the end of the conference is already available.
• The declaration rejects any Jewish presence beyond the 1949 armistice lines — thereby instituting apartheid. It also praises the “Arab Peace Initiative,” which calls for returning of millions of so-called “refugees” to Israel, thus transforming Israel into an Arab Muslim state where a massacre of Jews could conveniently be organized.
• The declaration is most likely meant serve as the basis for a new Security Council resolution on January 17 that would recognize a Palestinian state inside the “1967 borders,” and be adopted, thanks to a second US abstention, three days before Obama leaves office. The betrayal of Israel by the Obama administration and by Obama himself would then be complete.
• The US Congress is already discussing bills to defund the UN and the Palestinian Authority. If Europeans think that the incoming Trump administration is as spineless as the Obama administration, they are in for a shock.
• Khaled Abu Toameh noted that the Palestinian Authority sees Resolution 2334 as a green light for more murders and violence.
• Daniel Pipes recently wrote that it is time to acknowledge the failure of a “peace process” that is really a war process. He stresses that peace can only come when an enemy is defeated.
• Resolution 2334 and the Paris conference, both promoted by Obama, are, as the great historian Bat Ye’or wrote, simply a victory for jihad.
The Middle East is in chaos. More than half a million people have been killed in the Syrian war and the number is rising. Bashar al-Assad’s army used chemical weapons and barrel bombs against civilians; Russia has bombed schools and hospitals.
Syrians, Christians, Yazidis, Libyans, Yemenis and Egyptians all face lethal treats. Iranian leaders still shout “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” while buying nuclear equipment with money from lifted sanctions. Turkey is sliding toward an Islamist dictatorship, and unable to stem attacks against it.
The only democratic and stable country in the region is Israel, and that is the country U.S. President Barack Obama, in the final weeks of his term, chooses to incriminate. His decision not to use the US veto in the UN Security Council, to let pass Resolution 2334, effectively sets the boundaries of a future Palestinian state. The resolution also declares all of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, home to the Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount — the most sacred place in Judaism — “occupied Palestinian territory,” and is a declaration of war against Israel.
UNSC Resolution 2334 nullified any possibility of further negotiations, by giving the Palestinians everything in exchange for nothing — not even an insincere promise of peace. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech five days later confirmed Obama’s support for the resolution. Kerry, like US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, used the existence of Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria as a pretext to endorse the position of Palestinian leaders, who want to ethnically cleanse Jews from these areas. But this was just a prelude.
The next act is the Orwellian-named “peace conference,” to be held in Paris on January 15. It has but one objective: to set the stage to eradicate Israel.
Organized by François Hollande, a failed French President who will leave power in four months, it was supported from the start by the Obama administration. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called it “the new Dreyfus trial.” The accused will be the only Jewish state and the accusers will be the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and officials from Islamized, dhimmified, anti-Israel Western states. As in the Dreyfus trial, the verdict is known before it starts. Israel will be considered guilty of all charges and condemned to what its accusers hope will be the beginning of its end.
Is Barack Obama planning another betrayal of Israel at next week’s Paris “peace conference,” organized by French President François Hollande? Pictured: Obama and Hollande in Washington, May 18, 2012. (Image source: White House)

Some commentators have compared what will happen in Paris to the 1942 Wannsee Conference in Nazi Germany, because the aim seems clearly to be the “final solution” of the “Jewish problem” in the Middle East. A draft of the declaration to be published at the end of the conference is already available. It affirms unreserved support for the “Palestinian Statehood strategy” and the principle of intangibility (that the borders cannot be modified) of the “1967 borders,” including East Jerusalem, the Old City and the Western Wall.
The draft declaration rejects any Jewish presence beyond these borders — thereby instituting apartheid — and praises the “Arab Peace Initiative,” which calls for returning millions of so-called “refugees” to Israel, and thus the transforming of Israel into an Arab Muslim state — where a massacre of the Jews could conveniently be organized.
The declaration is most likely meant to be the basis for a new UN Security Council resolution that would endorse the recognition of a Palestinian state in the “1967 borders” as defined in the declaration. The new resolution could be adopted by a second US abstention at the Security Council on January 17, three days before Obama leaves office. The betrayal of Israel by the Obama administration and by Obama himself would then be complete.
On January 20, however, Donald J. Trump is to take office as President of the United States. Trump sent a message on December 23: “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” He added explicitly that the U.S. “cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.”
On January 5, the US House of Representatives approved a text harshly criticizing Resolution 2334. Congress is already discussing defunding the UN and the Palestinian Authority. If Europeans and members of UN think the incoming Trump administration is as spineless as the Obama administration, they are in for a shock.
Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens recently wondered if the creation of a Palestinian state would alleviate the current Middle East chaos. His answer was that it would not, and that the creation of a Palestinian state would be seen as a victory for jihadists. He also noted that the Palestinian Authority still behaves like a terrorist entity; that an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would encourage Hamas and lead to the creation of another terrorist Islamic state in the West Bank, and that an Israeli withdrawal is something that most Palestinians do not even want:
“[A] telling figure came in a June 2015 poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, which found that a majority of Arab residents in East Jerusalem would rather live as citizens with equal rights in Israel than in a Palestinian state.”
Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab journalist who has never yet been wrong, noted that the Palestinian Authority sees Resolution 2334 as a green light for more violence, murders and confrontation. He added that if presidential elections by the PA were held today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would win by a comfortable margin.
In another important article, Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes writes that it is time to acknowledge the failure of a “peace process” that is really a war process. He stressed that peace can only come when an enemy is defeated. He predicts that for peace to come, Israel must win unambiguously, and the Palestinians pass through “the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair.”
Jihadi indoctrination, as well as the financial aid given to Palestinian terrorists, have been paid for by the United States, France, and other Western European nations. That too should stop.
Resolution 2334 and the Paris peace conference, both promoted by Obama, are, as the great historian Bat Ye’or wrote, simply victories for jihad.

Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.
peace.

Liberal Democracies In Retreat

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

The following is a rather gloomy, but likely accurate view of the future of the World order for decades to come and the retreat of the United States as a strong world leader.
Foreign Affairs Magazine
November, 2016
Liberalism in Retreat

The Demise of a Dream

By Robin Niblett

The liberal international order has always depended on the idea of progress. Since 1945, Western policymakers have believed that open markets, democracy, and individual human rights would gradually spread across the entire globe. Today, such hopes seem naive.

In Asia, the rise of China threatens to challenge U.S. military and economic hegemony, as Beijing seeks to draw American allies such as the Philippines and Thailand into its political orbit. In the Middle East, the United States and its European allies have failed to guide the region toward a more liberal and peaceful future in the wake of the Arab Spring and have proved powerless to halt the conflict in Syria. Russia’s geopolitical influence has reached heights unseen since the Cold War, as the country attempts to roll back liberal advances on its periphery.

But the more important threats to the order are internal. For over 50 years, the European Union has seemed to represent the advance guard of a new liberalism in which nations pool sovereignty and cooperate ever more closely with one another. But today, as it reels from one crisis to the next, the EU has stopped expanding. After the British vote to leave the bloc last June, it will probably shrink for the first time in its history.

Across the ocean, the U.S. commitment to global leadership, which until now has sustained the order through good times and bad, looks weaker than at any point since World War II. The Republican president-elect Donald Trump ran on an explicitly “America First” platform, pledged to renegotiate U.S. trade deals, praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, and called into question U.S. commitments to NATO. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s “rebalance” to Asia has struggled to take off. Beijing has wasted no time in laying out its own vision for a more integrated Eurasia that may exclude the United States and in which China will play the leading role.

Over the past half century, as other political systems have crumbled, the liberal international order has risen to face its challenges. Yet so long as the economies of its leading members remain fragile and their political institutions divided, the order that they have championed is unlikely to regain the political momentum that helped democracy spread across the globe. Instead, it will evolve into a less ambitious project: a liberal international economic order that encompasses states with diverse domestic political systems. In the short term, this will allow democracies and their illiberal counterparts to find ways to coexist. In the longer term, providing it can adapt, liberal democracy is likely to regain its supremacy.

LIBERALISM ON TOP

In the aftermath of World War II, Western policymakers, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, set out to build a global system that would ensure that they would never repeat the disastrous failures of international cooperation of the interwar period. The architects of the system sought to promote not just economic development and individual fulfillment but also world peace. The best hope for that, they contended, lay in free markets, individual rights, the rule of law, and elected governments, which would be checked by independent judiciaries, free presses, and vibrant civil societies

Over the past half century, as other political systems have crumbled, the liberal international order has risen to face its challenges.

At the heart of the order were the Bretton Woods institutions—the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank—and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which became the World Trade Organization in 1995. Underpinning all these institutions was the belief that open and transparent markets with minimal government intervention—the so-called Washington consensus—would lay the foundation for economic growth. Guided by these principles, U.S. economic, military, and diplomatic support helped Germany and the other nations of Western Europe, as well as Japan, recover from the destruction of World War II.

Western policymakers were confident that transitions to open markets would inevitably lead to the spread of democracy. On many occasions, they were proved right. Liberal democracy has gradually expanded across Europe, Asia, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa, especially since the end of the Cold War. According to the U.S. nonprofit Freedom House, the number of democratic governments increased from 44 in 1997 to 86 in 2015, accounting for about 68 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population.

As the order expanded, a new liberal idea gained ground: that governments that mistreat their populations and foment instability in their neighborhoods forfeit their sovereign right to rule. The International Criminal Court, which encroaches on sovereignty in the name of justice, was established in 1998. One year later, British Prime Minister Tony Blair laid out his doctrine of liberal interventionism in Chicago, declaring that, in a world of growing interdependence, “the principle of non-interference must be qualified in some important respects.” In 2005, the UN General Assembly endorsed the “responsibility to protect,” the concept that when a state fails to prevent atrocities, foreign governments can intervene to do so. In an ascendant liberal international order, the fundamental Westphalian principle that sovereign governments have the right to control their internal affairs—the principle that underlies international law and the UN—increasingly depended on governments’ adhering to Western standards of human rights. The liberal order seemed to be setting the rules for the entire international community.

THINGS FALL APART

But over the past decade, buffeted by financial crises, populist insurgencies, and the resurgence of authoritarian powers, the liberal international order has stumbled. According to the political scientist Larry Diamond, since 2006, the world has entered a “democratic recession”: the spread of individual freedom and democracy has come to a halt, if not retreated.

The greatest danger comes from within. The system’s leading powers are facing sustained domestic political and economic uncertainty. More than 25 years of stagnant median wages in the United States and parts of Europe have eroded the credibility of elites and the appeal of globalization. The opening up of economies to ever more trade, investment, and immigration has increased total national wealth, but it has not translated into local gains for large segments of society. The lax financial regulation that preceded the 2008 financial crisis and the bank bailouts that followed it have shattered people’s faith in government, and the Great Recession undermined their support for open capital markets, which seemed to benefit only a narrow global elite.

Trump’s victory, the decision by a majority of British voters to leave the EU, and the rise of populist parties in both the prosperous north and the poorer south of Europe represent visible symptoms of this deep unease with globalization. So, too, does the collapse in popular support in the United States and the EU for expanding international trade, whether through the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the United States or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in Europe. In a 2014 Pew Research survey, 87 percent of respondents in developing economies agreed that trade benefits the economy, whereas around half of all respondents in France, Italy, and the United States said they believed that trade destroys jobs and lowers wages.

Across Europe, resistance to deeper political integration has grown. For the past 60 years, the willingness of the EU’s member states to pool their sovereign power in supranational legal structures provided a benchmark for other countries that sought to cooperate more closely in their regions. As the political scientist Simon Serfaty put it in 2003, Europeans had transformed their systems of political governance from city-states to nation-states to member states. Now, this process has ground to a halt—and it may well reverse.

The British vote to leave the EU will likely prove an outlier: the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community, the EU’s predecessor, only in 1973, 16 years after its founding; the United Kingdom has a long history of Euroskepticism; and it opted out of the single currency and the Schengen area of open borders. Other countries will probably not follow the United Kingdom out of the EU. But few European leaders appear willing to continue relinquishing their countries’ sovereignty. Many European states have rejected EU requests that they accept a quota of refugees. The richer members of the eurozone are refusing to pool their financial resources in a common deposit insurance scheme to ensure the long-term viability of the single currency. Today, many European politicians are demanding more national sovereign control over the application of existing EU laws and the design of new forms of integration.

Few European leaders appear willing to continue relinquishing their countries’ sovereignty.

In this context, the hope that the EU might provide a template for liberal regional integration elsewhere seems increasingly lost. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, South America’s Mercosur, the African Union, and the Gulf Cooperation Council remain mechanisms for only limited political and economic cooperation among governments. China and Russia, meanwhile, have used this period of Western self-doubt to modernize their militaries and assert their regional and geopolitical interests. They have built institutions, including the Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, that have helped them coordinate and legitimize a parallel political order that challenges Western norms of democratic governance and that rejects any external interference in support of human rights.

AMERICA IN RETREAT

For the past seven decades, the United States has provided the security umbrella under which the liberal international system has flourished. But today, the United States is more inward-looking than at any point since World War II. After the costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the chaos that followed the intervention in Libya, Obama has recalibrated the United States’ international role, consistently encouraging allies in Europe and the Middle East to take greater responsibility for their own security. In his presidential campaign, Trump twisted this argument into an explicitly transactional bargain: the United States should become a mercenary superpower, protecting only those countries that pay, so that it can focus on making itself great again at home. In so doing, he ignored the hard-won lesson that investing in the security of U.S. allies is the best way to protect the United States’ own security and economic interests. How exactly Trump will govern, however, remains unclear.

Rightly or wrongly, the United States’ allies, from Europe to Asia, now fear that the superpower may no longer be an engaged and committed partner. These fears come at a dangerous time. A Europe hobbled by institutional and economic weakness is more vulnerable to the diverse forms of pressure that Russia is currently applying, including financial support for European populist parties and threatening military maneuvers on NATO’s eastern borders. Despite Russia’s own economic weakness, Putin’s advocacy of a new European order based on cultural and national sovereignty appeals to Europe’s increasingly vocal nationalist parties, from the UK Independence Party to France’s National Front and Hungary’s Fidesz, whose leader, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has publicly advocated building an “illiberal state.”

Many of the United States’ other allies and democratic partners around the world are also on the back foot. Japan and South Korea are struggling to manage the twin challenges of aging populations and economies that are overly dependent on exports, and his-torical antagonisms prevent them from presenting a united front to promote liberal democracy in their region. Large emerging-market democracies, such as Brazil, India, Nigeria, and South Africa, have so far failed to overcome entrenched obstacles to sustainable economic growth and social cohesion. And the perception that U.S. global power is waning and that the Washington consensus does not guarantee economic progress has bolstered strongmen in countries as diverse as the Philippines, Thailand, and Turkey, who have undermined the institutional checks and balances that underpin liberal democracy.

POT, KETTLE

Of course, supporters of the liberal international order have long displayed an inconsistent commitment to its principles. The United States and its allies may have generally promoted respect for the rule of law and liberal governance within their borders, but the dominant objective outside them has been to protect Western security and economic interests, even if doing so damaged the credibility of the liberal international system.

The United States has often acted unilaterally or selectively obeyed the rules of the international order it promotes. It invaded Iraq under a contested legal mandate, and the U.S. Congress has refused to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, among numerous other multilateral conventions and treaties. And in 2011, the British, French, and U.S. governments stretched their mandate—granted by UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorized all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya—when they helped overthrow Libya’s leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi. And various Western governments have condemned Russia and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for indiscriminately shelling civilians in Syria while simultaneously supporting Saudi Arabia’s bloody campaign in Yemen.

The United States’ allies, from Europe to Asia, now fear that the superpower may no longer be an engaged and committed partner.

Small wonder, then, that the West’s opponents have interpreted calls to enlarge the liberal international order as an excuse to expand Western political power. Putin sounded this theme in October, at the annual conference of the Valdai Discussion Club, when he accused the United States of promoting globalization and security “for itself, for the few, but not for all.” It is also unsurprising that the world’s principal multilateral institution, the UN Security Council, remains frozen in the same old standoffs, riven by disagreements between China and Russia, on the one hand, and France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, on the other. As a result, liberal attempts to reform the concept of state sovereignty, such as the introduction of the notion of the responsibility to protect and the establishment of the International Criminal Court, have failed to acquire international legitimacy—take, for instance, the ongoing failure to stem the violence in Syria and the announcements in October by the governments of Burundi, Gambia, and South Africa that they will withdraw from the court. Even the Internet, which promised to foster a more liberal international order by empowering individuals instead of governments, is now increasingly dominated by ideological polarization over national firewalls, surveillance methods, and privacy violations.

KEEPING ORDER

Do these challenges herald the end of the liberal international order? Probably not. Established liberal democracies remain resilient. Whatever domestic challenges they may face, from inequality to unemployment, they approach them from a position of strength compared with emerging-market countries, many of which boast high levels of GDP growth but have yet to make the transition from export- and investment-led growth to consumption- and innovation-driven growth. Western democracies are designed to allow the people to vent their frustrations and refresh their political leadership. Their economies operate in a relatively dynamic, transparent, and open manner, which fosters innovation. These qualities allow their political institutions to recover legitimacy and their economies to regain momentum. On the other hand, centrally controlled or illiberal countries, such as China and Russia, have yet to prove that their political systems will survive the economic transitions they are undertaking.

Still, liberal democracies cannot postpone difficult political decisions any longer. They need to fix themselves first if they are to sustain their liberal international order. They must boost productivity as well as wages, increase work-force participation even as new technologies eliminate old jobs, integrate immigrants while managing aging societies, and, in Europe’s case, evolve from centrally funded welfare states to more locally governed welfare societies, in which regions, cities, and other municipalities control a greater share of tax income and so can tailor the provision of social services to local needs. Liberal governments can rise to these challenges, whether by investing more in education, improving physical and digital infrastructure, or modernizing regulations that stifle entrepreneurship and growth in the service sector. These may seem like modest steps. But the appeal and, indeed, the survival of a liberal inter-national order depend on its ability to deliver returns to the societies within it that are superior to any alternative.

If the liberal world can get itself back on track, and does not itself turn to protectionism, it will likely find that the non-Western rising powers, China chief among them, will want to sustain the existing international economic order of relatively open markets and free flows of investment. After all, only through continued integration into the global supply chain of goods, services, people, and knowledge can emerging markets meet the aspirations of their growing middle classes. As the scholar G. John Ikenberry noted in his 2011 book, Liberal Leviathan, the United States and China—the two powers that will most likely determine the future of world order—may both refuse to compromise on their core principles of domestic governance and national security, but they can best coexist and prosper within a liberal international economic order.

It is in the West’s interests, therefore, that China’s economic development continue smoothly. U.S and European markets for goods, services, and infrastructure should remain open to Chinese foreign direct investment, as long as Chinese companies abide by U.S. and European rules on security and transparency and the protection of intellectual property. European countries should take the same approach with Russia, on the condition that Russian companies abide by EU rules. A mutual commitment to the liberal international economic order would help Western governments and their illiberal counterparts keep open other avenues for cooperation on shared challenges, such as terrorism and climate change, much as China and the United States have done over the past several years.

Western democracies are designed to allow the people to vent their frustrations and refresh their political leadership.

Meanwhile, European governments and businesses should take part in the Chinese-led effort to connect Northeast Asia with Europe across the Eurasian continent, a component of a series of regional infrastructure projects known as the Belt and Road Initiative. In 2016, the volume of global trade stagnated for the first quarter and then fell by 0.8 percent in the second. This reflects an ongoing structural decline in the growth rate of trade, as emerging markets, such as China, make more of their own products and developed countries bring some production back onshore. Against this backdrop, ramping up investment in infrastructure that can connect the thriving coastal areas of Asia to its underdeveloped hinterlands and then to Europe could create new opportunities for economic growth in both the liberal and the illiberal worlds. Rather than challenge such initiatives, the United States should support Western-led regional and multilateral financial institutions, such as the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Asian Development Bank, as they join forces with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank (set up by the BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) to pursue projects that are in every country’s economic interest while adhering to environmentally and financially sustainable principles.

Similar cooperation will be harder to build with Russia. Russia’s system of centralized and opaque political and economic governance makes deeper integration incompatible with the EU’s market and rules-based system, and NATO members have begun a much-needed upgrading of their military readiness in the face of recent Russian provocations. EU and NATO tensions with Russia will likely persist, even if Trump’s election heralds a change in U.S.-Russian relations. Still, the Chinese initiative to build new ways of connecting the Eurasian economy could provide an alternative way for the United States and Europe to engage with Russia.

The countries that built the liberal international order are weaker today than they have been for three generations. They no longer serve as an example to others of the strength of liberal systems of economic and political governance. Autocratic governments may therefore try to establish an alternative political order, one governed by might rather than by international laws and rules.

But liberal policymakers would be wrong to urge their countries to hunker down or resort to containment. An extended standoff between supporters of a liberal international order and those who contest it may accidentally lead to outright conflict. A better approach would be for liberal countries to prepare themselves for a period of awkward coexistence with illiberal ones, cooperating on some occasions and competing on others. The international political world will remain divided between liberals and statists for the foreseeable future, but both sets of countries will depend on a liberal international economic order for their prosperity and internal security. Time will tell whose form of government is more resilient. If history is any guide, liberal democracy remains the best bet.

The Political Follies Continue

Monday, December 12th, 2016

As I and many others predicted, the election of either Trump or Clinton would produce chaos in our country. Well, here are a few present and future issues to provide headaches and headlines over the next four years.
After President Obama and Hillary Clinton definitively stated that the election was fair and absent of any significant corruption in November, the administration, the New York Times, Washington Post, and all the other left wing media outlets are indicating that the Russians intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just undermine the confidence in the electoral system. The CIA is indicating that the Russians provided Wikileaks with thousands of hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and others, and further alleged that this was part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
So, could all this proceed in the following manner: Democrats declare the election should be nullified, putting pressure on the Electors to change their votes and deny Trump the 270 electoral votes required to win, throwing the election into the House of Representatives where either the Republican House votes to elect Trump (thus allowing Democrats to proclaim that the Republicans have elected an illegitimate president) or with enough votes from Republicans abandoning Trump in the House giving the election to Hillary. Well, folks, is that enough chaos for you? I hope my predictions are wrong. But hold on, the voyage might be rough in the next few months.
/But, in the meantime, I am going to add a few posts, which are not political, but might be interesting to some of the very few who visit my site.


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