Ian Bremmer Argues That We Are At The End Of The Global Free Market — As The Rise Of China Dominates Recent Asean Summit
Ian Bremmer, the President and Founder of the EURASIA Group, a leading global political risk research and consulting firm, spoke to a luncheon in Boston, Mass., on November 14, 2017 at the Boston Committee on Foreign Relations. Mr. Bremmer’s main thesis was that “the U.S. is no longer fit to lead in global governance; and, that is driving a change in world order. As a consequence, the coming decade will be vastly more unstable,” Marianne Brunet wrote on the November 16, 2017 online edition of the website — Advisor*Perspectives.
“No one should think we live in a global free market anymore,” Mr. Bremmer argued.
“I’m not talking about the United States,” he said. “I’m talking about the fact that the most influential economic strategy globally, is not a free market economy.”
Changing Global Order
“In my life, there have been two speeches that made you rethink the global order,” Mr. Bremmer told the audience.
“The first, and of course most important, of course, was when [Mikhail] Gorbachev declared the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991,” Mr. Bremmer observed.
“The second, and it’s early to say this; but, I’m going out on a limb, was Xi Jinping two weeks ago,” he said.
“According to Mr. Bremmer,” Ms. Brunet wrote, “that speech was about China’s leadership stating that it is “prepared to publicly say we are going to become a global superpower; and, we’re going to start taking the leadership role.”
“Xi’s speech wasn’t momentous in the United States,” Ms. Brunet wrote, “but, having spent the last two weeks traveling across Asia, Mr. Bremmer said it was the main topic of conversation amongst global leaders.” “They were talking about China,” Mr. Bremmer told the Boston crowd.
“They were talking about the strongest leader that the Chinese have had since Mao [Zedong],” according to Mr. Bremmer. “While at the same time, the Americans have the weakest leader in their modern history.” I take great issue with that assertion by Mr. Bremmer; and, he shows an intellectual bias that is somewhat surprising for someone of his global expertise and stature. Indeed, under our past POTUS Obama, China created an Air Defense Identification Zone in the South China Sea (SCS), at times tried to enforce it; and at others, increased aerial harassment of our reconnaissance aircraft. Additionally. Beijing built and militarized artificial islands near the disputed islands in the SCS; harassed our naval vessels and even briefly confiscated one of our naval drones.China, greatly expanded its blue water naval reach, planted its flag in the Arctic and North Africa, and began constructing an ‘unhackable,’ quantum communications network in space. And, Beijing, conducted all of these activities while Mr. Obama was president. America’s allies in the Pacific were growing increasingly alarmed at China’s growing strategic reach and encroachment — even prompting some in Japan to call for amending their constitution in order to build an offensive military capability to deter China. All of this occurred on POTUS Obama’s watch. His team was focused on the Iran nuclear issue and climate change — while Xi and Beijing were focused on geographic change. So, I obviously take great umbrage to Mr. Bremmer’s observation about POTUS Trump. Indeed, it is POTUS Trump, who has been attempting to reassure our Asian allies; and, find ways to reassert America’s Asian influence — WHICH HAD ATROPHIED UNDER POTUS OBAMA. And, atrophied not just in the Pacific, but globally. Mr. Bremmer fails to appreciate the weakness and damage that the Obama administration did overseas. Enough said.
Ms, Brunet wrote that “Mr. Bremmer described the shift in the global order as the “abdication of U.S. leadership; and, the creation of an alternative model, some of which will be Chinese-led;” adding that Beijing will play a more prominent role with respect to “climate, trade, diplomatic and military issues.” Again, “abdication of leadership?” Where has Mr. Bremmer been the previous 8 years of POTUS Obama? A Red Line in Syria that faded to white. Putin seizing the Crimea, even though the U.S. signed a treaty with Ukraine in the late 90s guaranteeing their territorial integrity — if they gave up their nuclear weapons — how did Mr. Bremmer miss that? Iran seizes a U.S. naval patrol boat and publicly humiliates our sailors — only for POTUS Obama to deliver cold hard cash in the middle of the night to Tehran. What about that Mr. Bremmer? Or, China and Russia planting their respective flags in the Arctic — to little or no notice by the Obama national security team. Oh, I forgot, the Obama team did complain to the United Nations. That really scared Putin didn’t it Mr. Bremmer. I could go on about one foreign policy disaster after another and what a vacuum a lack of U.S. leadership was created under POTUS Obama; but, I think you get the point.
The rise of China and Beijing’s more assertive/muscular foreign policy got a significant boost during POTUS Obama’s eight years. Once Beijing saw that the Syrian Red Line was a mirage, that Washington was not going to come to Ukraine’s rescue and rebuff Putin — even though we had a treaty that obligated us to do so — that Iran seized one of our patrol boats and humiliated our sailors — only to be paid millions in cash, China’s leadership had sized up POTUS Obama and found him weak, and wanting. China implemented an Air Defense Identification Zone, which they attempted to enforce, stepped up their harassment of our air and naval assets — including taking one of our naval drones, as well as built and militarized artificial islands near the disputed islands in the SCS. For Mr. Bremmer to argue that it is POTUS Trump who is weak is a real piece of fake analysis. Sort of reminds me of Baghdad Bob; or the saying — do you believe me, or your lying eyes.
Having said all that, China is rising; and, I have no doubt that Beijing will continue to stretch their wings, and push the envelope wherever, and whenever they can. At some point, Beijing will no doubt overreach and miscalculate — and, perhaps precipitate a real shooting war, as British historian Max Hastings has recently warned about. But, that overreach isn’t likely to come while POTUS Trump is in office. When compared to POTUS Obama — POTUS Trump is likely seen by Beijing’s leaders as the complete opposite of our former president. Indeed, China has no intent of slowing their strategic push; but, they are likely to be more careful with POTUS Trump, than they demonstrated when POTUS Obama was in office.
Mr. Bremmer is a smart man. But, he is woefully shortsighted in analyzing our current POTUS; and, how he is likely viewed overseas — and, not just by China. RCP, fortunascorner.com