On Chile in America’s Winter of Discontent

By Yong Kwon

Mass protests in Chile caught many US observers by surprise last October. The foreign policy establishment in Washington had looked to the Latin American republic as a beacon of stability. In addition to its peaceful transition to democracy after 17 years of military rule, the country was one of the strongest economic performers in the region. Yet much like the United States, an outward sense of economic growth and procedural stability masked rising inequality, a hollowing-out of the welfare state, and the displacement of citizens from the decision-making process. 

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An Indyktment of the Blob

By Lawrence Philby

The Blob likes to think of itself as a vast marketplace of ideas – think tanks, academics, pundits and politicians each offering their thoughts on the best course for US foreign policy, with the best of the lot winning out.

Yet this marketplace is governed less by the content of the ideas themselves and more by the intellectual pedigree of those expressing them. The same familiar faces debate the same general worldview, shrugging off outside perspectives unless couched in such a way as to preclude any real change.

To the blob, radical change proposed by outsiders is unrealistic, mere fantasies put forward by individuals who can’t see the big picture. Even the Blob can wobble under the strain of its own fatigue, however, as evidenced by the world-weary jeremiad that Martin Indyk published in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, January 17th.

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War Crimes Are Inevitable in the Forever War State

By Lawrence Philby

The anti-democratic nature of the US national security apparatus is why we’re in this mess, and preventing future escalation spirals requires changing not just who is in power, but how power works at the highest levels.

To be clear – and don’t let the reams of ex post facto justification distract you – this is fucking nuts.

It would be nuts even if it were President Cool Hand Luke at the helm to give the go-ahead for the assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps General Qassem Soleimani and not President 10-Flush Toilets.

It would be nuts even if it were the result of careful consideration and not Donald Trump picking “D – all of the above” on a hastily prepared multiple-choice policy planning document.

If would be nuts even if the Trump administration had a follow-up plan beyond talking shit on Twitter and dragooning government communications accounts to extoll the litanies of hate.

The United States should not be in the business of assassinating foreign leaders abroad on the flimsy pretext of undefined “terrorist” threats.

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The Petty Profiteers of Iraq’s Reconstruction

By Zack Kopplin

Pete Buttigieg, Democratic candidate for president, has refused to share meaningful details of his work for McKinsey & Company. He said the consultancy won’t release him from a nondisclosure agreement, although McKinsey did clear him to release the names of his clients. So far, Buttigieg has only provided the names of his clients empty summaries of his assignments, like grocery pricing in Canada and economic development in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I served a US government department in a project focused on increasing employment and entrepreneurship in those countries’ economies,” he said about the latter project. But client names and summaries aren’t enough.

These projects, especially the ones in built on war profiteering in low-oversight environments like the Middle East and Central Asia, require real transparency.

Internationally, McKinsey is known for serving dictators and advising clients to pay bribes, but Buttigieg believes the public should trust he avoided conflicts of interests and corruption. “I never worked on a project inconsistent with my values,” he said in a statement. That may be, but his work in Iraq put him a few connections away from deals with sketchy oligarchs. Voters shouldn’t have to take his word that he kept his hands clean.

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A Trade Policy for the Workers Begins from Within

By Yong Kwon

After decades of pushing back against free trade agreements that advanced corporate interests, labor advocates in the United States have developed a reflexive disdain for treaties that expand commercial ties with other countries. As a consequence, the left has shied away from criticizing the Trump administration’s imposition of trade barriers.

This is a mistake. Privileged classes throughout history have employed protectionism and trade liberalization interchangeably to safeguard their economic dominance. Labor must be similarly flexible to counter the malign influence of capital.

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The United States Must Support a Non-American World Bank President

By Daniel Remler

After seven years at the helm of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim announced in January that he would be resigning as president. Since the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) were first established after World War II, the United States and Europe have had an informal agreement whereby an American would run the World Bank and a European would run the IMF. True to this pact, President Donald Trump announced the nomination of Treasury official David Malpass as the US nominee. As happened when President Obama nominated Kim in 2012, there were calls for the US to abandon its stranglehold on the World Bank’s top job.

Though Malpass managed to gain enough support from other stakeholders to become president, progressive policymakers can take the opportunity of this transition to make clear that ending the US monopoly on World Bank leadership and supporting leadership for the organization from the developing world must be a priority for the next progressive US president. This policy shift would not only recognize fundamental shifts in the global economy toward developing countries, but also begin to address the institution’s significant shortcomings and help advance progressive economic policy.

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