Posted tagged ‘UN and global governance’

Expect America’s Tensions with China and Russia to Rise in 2018

December 30, 2017

Expect America’s Tensions with China and Russia to Rise in 2018, Gatestone Institute, John Bolton, December 30, 2017

Yesterday’s 2017 review and forecast for 2018 focused on the most urgent challenges the Trump administration faces: the volatile Middle East, international terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Today, we examine the strategic threats posed by China and Russia and one of President Trump’s continuing priorities: preserving and enhancing American sovereignty.

Russia and China will be among the Trump administration’s key strategic challenges in the coming year. Photo: Wikipedia.

China has likely been Trump’s biggest personal disappointment in 2017, one where he thought that major improvements might be possible, especially in international trade. Despite significant investments of time and attention to President Xi Jinping, now empowered in ways unprecedented since Mao Tse Tung, very little has changed in Beijing’s foreign policy, bilaterally or globally. There is no evidence of improved trade relations, or any effort by China to curb its abuses, such as pirating intellectual property, government discrimination against foreign traders and investors, or biased judicial fora.

Even worse, Beijing’s belligerent steps to annex the South China Sea and threaten Japan and Taiwan in the East China Sea continued unabated, or even accelerated in 2017. In all probability, therefore, 2018 will see tensions ratchet up in these critical regions, as America (and hopefully others) defend against thinly veiled Chinese military aggression. Japan in particular has reached its limits as China has increased its capabilities across the full military spectrum, including at sea, in space and cyberwarfare.

Taiwan is not far behind. Even South Korea’s Moon Jae In may be growing disenchanted with Beijing as it seeks to constrain Seoul’s strategic defense options. And make no mistake, what China is doing in its littoral periphery is closely watched in India, where the rise of Chinese economic and military power is increasingly worrying. The Trump administration should closely monitor all these flash points along China’s frontiers, any one of which could provoke a major military confrontation, if not next year, soon thereafter.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is where China has most disappointed the White House. Xi Jinping has played the United States just like his predecessors, promising increased pressure on Pyongyang but not delivering nearly enough. The most encouraging news came as 2017 ended, in the revelation that Chinese and American military officers have discussed possible scenarios involving regime collapse or military conflict in North Korea. While unclear how far these talks have progressed, the mere fact that China is engaging in them shows a new level of awareness of how explosive the situation is. So, 2018 will be critical not only regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons threat but also whether Sino-American relations improve or take a distinct turn for the worse.

On Russia, the president has not given up on Vladimir Putin, at least not yet, but that may well come in 2018. Putin is an old-school, hard-edged, national interest-centered Russian leader, defending the “rodina” (the motherland), not a discredited ideology. Confronted with U.S. strength, Putin knows when to pull back, and he is, when it suits him, even capable of making and keeping deals. But there is no point in romanticizing the Moscow-Washington dynamic. It must be based not on personal relationships but on realpolitik.

No better proof exists than Russia’s reaction to Trump’s recent decision to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, which is now a war zone entirely because of Russian aggression. To hear Moscow react to Trump’s weapons decision, however, one would think he was responsible for increased hostilities. President Obama should have acted at the first evidence of Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine, and even Trump’s aid is a small step compared to President Bush’s 2008 proposal to move Kiev quickly toward NATO membership. Nonetheless, every independent state that emerged from the Soviet Union, NATO member or not, is obsessed with how America handles Ukraine. They should be, because the Kremlin’s calculus about their futures will almost certainly turn on whether Trump draws a line on Moscow’s adventurism in Ukraine.

Just as troubling as Russia’s menace in Eastern and Central Europe is its reemergence as a great power player in the Middle East. Just weeks ago, the Russian Duma ratified an agreement greatly expanding Russia’s naval station at Tartus, Syria. In 2015, Obama stood dumbfounded as Russia built a significant air base in nearby Latakia, thus cementing the intrusion of Russia’s military presence in the Middle East to an extent not seen since Anwar Sadat expelled Soviet military advisers and brought Egypt into the Western orbit in the 1970s.

This expansion constitutes a significant power projection for the Kremlin. Indeed, it seems clear that Russia’s support (even more than Iran’s) for Syria’s Assad regime has kept the dictatorship in power. Russia’s assertiveness in 2017 also empowered Tehran, even as the ISIS caliphate was destroyed, to create an arc of Shia military power from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, linking up with Hezbollah in Lebanon. This Russian-Iranian axis should rank alongside Iran’s nuclear-weapons program on America’s list of threats emanating from the Middle East.

Finally, the pure folly of both the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly crossing the United States on the Jerusalem embassy decision was a mistake of potentially devastating consequences for the United Nations. Combined with the International Criminal Court’s November decision to move toward investigating alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, there is now ample space for the White House to expand on the president’s focus on protecting American sovereignty.

Trump’s first insight into the rage for “global governance” among the high minded came on trade issues, and his concern for the World Trade Organization’s adjudication mechanism. These are substantial and legitimate, but the broader issues of “who governs” and the challenges to constitutional, representative government from international bodies and treaties that expressly seek to advance global governing institutions are real and growing. America has long been an obstacle to these efforts, due to our quaint attachment to our Constitution and the exceptionalist notion that we don’t need international treaties to “improve” it.

No recent president has made the sovereignty point as strongly as Trump, and the United Nations and International Criminal Court actions in 2017 now afford him a chance to make decisive political and financial responses in 2018. If 2017 was a tumultuous year internationally, 2018 could make it seem calm by comparison.

John R. Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs at the U.S. Department of State under President George W. Bush. He is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

This article first appeared in The Hill and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.

Trump Pulls United States Out of UN Immigration Deal

December 4, 2017

Trump Pulls United States Out of UN Immigration Deal, Washington Free Beacon, December 4, 2017

President Donald Trump and US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley / Getty Images

The GCM would also try to “strengthen the global governance of migration,” specifically by adding the International Organization for Migration to the U.N.’s purview.

All of this, Haley contended, is incompatible with preserving the United States’s sovereignty, and its ability to set its own immigration policy.

“The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty,” Haley said.


The United States will no longer participate in the U.N.-organized Global Compact on Migration (GCM), the U.S. Mission to the U.N. informed the secretary-general on Sunday.

That decision was informed by concerns about threats to the United States’s sovereignty, with administration officials citing the need for the country to define its own immigration policy independent of the mandates of the United Nations.

“America is proud of our immigrant heritage and our long-standing moral leadership in providing support to migrant and refugee populations across the globe. No country has done more than the United States, and our generosity will continue,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

“But our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone. We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country,” Haley said.

The announcement reverses the Obama administration decision to sign on to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which aims at setting up the GCM by 2018.

The New York Declaration includes a number of commitments for signatories that create expanded expectations for immigrants. These include education for children with “a few months” of arrival, as well as working towards an end of detention for children to determine their immigration status.

The GCM would also try to “strengthen the global governance of migration,” specifically by adding the International Organization for Migration to the U.N.’s purview.

All of this, Haley contended, is incompatible with preserving the United States’s sovereignty, and its ability to set its own immigration policy.

“The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty,” Haley said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson concurred with Haley’s analysis in a separate statement, writing that the New York Declaration, “contains a number of policy goals that are inconsistent with U.S. law and policy.”

“While we will continue to engage on a number of fronts at the United Nations, in this case, we simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders,” Tillerson said.

“The United States supports international cooperation on migration issues, but it is the primary responsibility of sovereign states to help ensure that migration is safe, orderly, and legal,” he said.

Miroslav Lajčák, the president of the U.N. General Assembly, expressed his regret at the U.S. departure in a statement of his own.

“The role of the United States in this process is critical as it has historically and generously welcomed people from all across the globe and remains home to the largest number of international migrants in the world. As such, it has the experience and expertise to help ensure that this process leads to a successful outcome,” he said.

Andrew Arthur, resident fellow in law and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies, disagreed, saying U.S. immigration policy should be determined by elected officials, not an unelected group of bureaucrats from the U.N.

“The idea that we had unelected officials negotiating some sort of global migration compact is problematic. With respect to refugees and the movement of peoples, the United States needs to play a strong role, we always have. We accept more refugees for permanent resettlement than any other country on the face of the earth,” Arthur said.

“There’s plainly a huge role for the United States to play, as relates to migration. But as relates to migration to the United States, the fact remains that that is an issue for Congress and for the American people to decide, not for unaccountable bureaucrats in Turtle Bay,” he said.