International Headlines: Politics


Xi Jinping’s State Visit to the US: An Objective AnalysisPolitical Affairs October 9, 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the U.S. (September 22-28) is one of the most important diplomatic events in 2015 considering the global importance of US-China relations. Positive developments were highlighted in the Chinese media, but the U.S. was more critical of China, citing China's policies in the South China Sea, supposed human rights violations, alleged restrictions on freedom of speech, and new regulations on trade, echoing Republican presidential candidates’ hawkish rhetoric. However, some business sectors would rather emphasize cooperation and a soft-power approach to influencing Beijing's policies in order to maintain smooth business operations. The U.S.’s focus on China’s restrictions and territorial disputes is meant to undermine China’s influence and ignores historical claims to territories. The US is increasingly seeing China as a growing obstacle to continued U.S. imperialist goals of preeminence and hegemony.  While China definitely does not want a war with the U.S. or any conflicts, it is also determined to maintain its sovereign rights and will not be bullied.

Conventional Wisdom: Our Chance to Redraw the British State Red Pepper October 2015

Opposition Labour Party and veteran Parliamentarian Jeremy Corbyn wants to organize a constitutional convention which could change widespread disenchantment with the United Kingdom’s current focus on electoral power-based politics into support for a more democratic and egalitarian alternative that prioritizes citizens rather than parties and their candidates’ wins . A reformed constitution that bases itself on voters could dismantle the offshore banking and tax system, and determine how the banking system and the state interact. It could also change how both risk and decision-making power in finance are to be distributed. Currently, private banks make decisions and receive the benefits while the people absorb any losses. Reform could establish privileges based on certain responsibilities, including a comprehensive transparency on the part of directors, the right to information via the media, and give workers a degree of control over their own lives. The only effective remedy for the Murdoch-controlled media which controls information is much greater popular participation in the media, underpinned by defined communicative rights in a written constitution.

Justin Trudeau Elected New Canadian Prime Minister as Liberals Return to Power The Guardian October 20, 2015

The Liberal party took 184 of the 338 seats in parliament with representatives in every province and roughly 40% of the popular vote. The election was seen as a referendum on the leadership of incumbent Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his neo-liberal economics and hawkish foreign policy. The Conservative party fell from 166 seats to 101. The left-leaning New Democrats ended up with just 42 seats. New Democrat leader, Tom Mulcair, barely held on to his own seat. The Green party leader, Elizabeth May, kept her seat but the party’s share of the vote dropped slightly.

The Liberals offered bold policy promises, including a pledge to run three consecutive deficits in order to fund infrastructure spending. A Liberal government will spell a sea-change in Canadian politics after a decade under the Conservatives. The party’s election promises include ending Canada’s participation in some military coalitions and refocusing those efforts on training local forces and humanitarian efforts. The Liberals have also committed to launching a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, amending the Conservative’s controversial anti-terrorism bill, and legalizing marijuana in Canada.

Anti-Immigration Party Wins Swiss Election in “Slide to the RightThe Telegraph October 19, 2015

Anti-immigration Swiss People's Party (SVP) won the biggest share of the vote in the country’s national parliamentary election. Their success, coupled with gains made by the pro-business Liberal Party (FDP), has led political commentators to talk of a "Rechtsrutsch" - a "slide to the right" - in Swiss politics. Immigration was the central topic for voters amid a rush of asylum seekers to Europe from the Middle East and North Africa. The election gains for the SVP, which was already Switzerland's biggest single party, come 20 months after the Swiss voted to limit the number of foreigners, a stance the SVP strongly supported.  During the campaign, the SVP rallied against Swiss reform to deal with asylum seekers, even though Switzerland is handling far fewer migrants than other nations such as Germany in Europe’s current migrant crisis; it has also played to fears that Switzerland may head towards EU membership [why is this a fear? need some context for Korean readers]. Lawmakers have until 2017 to reconcile this referendum result with an EU pact that guarantees the free movement of workers; otherwise, the Swiss government must write quotas for the number of people migrating into and out of Switzerland into law regardless of any compromise with the EU around immigration numbers. The Swiss system of direct democracy means citizens decide most major issues in referenda regardless of parliament's makeup.

Obama Flips on Afghanistan Withdrawal Plan Huffington Post October 15, 2015

President Barack Obama will keep 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan when he leaves office in 2017, casting aside his promise to end the war on his watch and instead ensuring he hands the conflict off to his successor. U.S. officials have been hinting at the policy shift for weeks, noting that conditions on the ground in Afghanistan have changed since Obama's initial decision on a sharper troop withdrawal timeline was made more than two years ago. The president's decision to keep the U.S. military in Afghanistan beyond his tenure thrusts the conflict into the 2016 presidential race, as the next president will become the third U.S. commander-in-chief to oversee the war and try to bring it to a close. Obama campaigned for the White House on a pledge to end America's involvement in the two wars he inherited, Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, he'll likely finish his presidency with troops back in both countries.