The panic resulting from the events starting with the deaths in Wuhan keeps spreading globally faster than the spreading of the virus itself. Quite apart from the immediate health dangers, now a new economic danger looms large globally. We are facing the prospects of a deep and lasting global recession regardless of the health policy and economic policy measures taken by China, the US and other countries unless there is timely global cooperation and coordination. What will be the global economic impact of COVID-19 if swift and effective action is not taken globally? Is there a way to find out through some kind of rigorous model-based economic analysis?
When I decided to become a US citizen in 1990s, it was a deliberate decision to spend my life fighting for preserving and deepening democratic freedoms at a place where I have spent all my adult life. Having struggled against a brutal military dictatorship while I was a teenager, I knew that democracy is something you have to fight hard for. Therefore, when I became a citizen, for the swearing in event I took with me key documents of US democratic heritage. These included the constitution, the federalist papers and related documents from the 1780s. Since that ceremony I have tried to learn as much as I could about the crucial idea of democratic checks and balances among the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of our government. I have come to realize how prescient some of the revolutionaries from the 1770s and 1780s were in identifying the potential sources of tyranny and corruption of democracy. I have always looked at the impeachment provisions in this light.
The Venezuelan crisis is festering. For the moment the elected President Maduro has hung onto power against the machinations of Bolton and his crew. However the pressure from the imperialists continues with the propaganda machines of the “liberal” North in full operation.The situation for the Venezuelan people is bleak but a right wing coup will not settle this problem.
With the further recent escalations involving US and Saudi accusations of Iran’s involvement in damaging four commercial carriers in the Persian Gulf, and the US military plans to send 120, 000 troops, the US has raised the stakes in the dangerous game of trapping Iran to take steps that can justify US attack on Iran. Some US politicians like the Republican senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas talk about “two strikes—the first strike and the last strike,” that will presumably lead to the end of the current detestable rulers of Iran. How plausible is this scenario and what is likely to happen geopolitically if and when the US belligerence leads to an actual military confrontation with Iran? Furthermore, even if an Iraq-like initial scenario results--- not a sure bet, to say the least--- will ordinary Iranians greet the North American invaders as liberators?
With the most recent spat between China and the US---not uncharacteristically if unintentionally engineered by Trump’s announcement of increasing tariffs from ten per cent to twenty five percent unless China agrees to his “deal”whatever that may be we seem to be back to the drawing board in the ongoing US-China trade war. Last week I received news from many experts including our own China watchers that a deal was imminent. Although my esteemed colleague Prof. Zhao was also in this group, he sagely pointed out even such a deal and seeming end of the trade war will not resolve the fundamental rivalries between US, the status quo power and China, the rising power. Now it seems that he had left out of the equation the unpredictable nature of Trump’s behavior.
With the recent military moves announced uncharacteristically by the White House first, the world is witnessing with grim fascination what could turn out to be the early moves towards a war against Iran. How plausible is this scenario and what is likely to happen geopolitically if and when the US belligerence leads to an actual military confrontation with Iran?
Sophocles in his tragedy Antigone has the line "evil[folly] appears as good in the minds of those whom god leads to destruction". First came the US unilateral exit from the historical Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA without the consent from our European allies with the resulting division between the US and Europe regarding policies towards Iran. US also restored sanctions against Iran but gave some time for energy-needy allies to import energy from Iran against a deadline. Some like Japan have complied grudgingly with the US orders. Others, particularly China and India have gone on importing Iranian energy.
According to UN investigators in late 2018 and early January 2019, genocide against the Rohingya
Muslims in Myanmar has hardly stopped . All objective reports indicate that the government is demonstrating by its inactions that it has no interest in preventing genocide and establishing a genuine democracy for all in Myanmar.