Mês: novembro 2018

Tet Offensive

The Significance of the Tet Offensive   Chuck O’Connell Nov. 2, 2018   Fifty years ago the world received a lesson in the revolutionary power of protracted people’s war when some 84,000 Vietnamese communist peasants stunned the world’s greatest military power, the United States, with an astounding offensive considered impossible by America’s Army generals who had only weeks before declared the communist revolutionaries of South Vietnam essentially defeated. This amazingly shocking assault was the Tet Offensive of January-February 1968. It was so powerful in its execution and effects that it became the crucial event of America’s Vietnam War. No history of that war can be complete without an analysis of this offensive. The significance of Tet was that it compelled the American leadership to make the decision to quit Vietnam; it was thus the pivot point in the war. Often described as a military loss for the communist forces, it was nonetheless a political loss for the Americans and their Saigon client regime – a loss so great that the United States eventually began a process of gradual, yet brutally violent, disengagement. The study of how that definitive decision to disengage came to be and how it was subsequently interpreted after the war offers important lessons regarding the contradictions of the war exposed by Tet – contradictions involving the imperatives of international finance, the exercise of political power, the...

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Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Has Supercharged Right-Wing Cultural Politics   Greg Grandin Oct. 29, 2018   Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president-elect, who won Sunday’s second-round vote with a staggering 55 percent of the ballet, is an open fascist, a violent phobe of every decent thing. A misogynist who said he would rather see his son dead than accept him as gay, Bolsonaro is an agent of the world’s most reactionary tendencies, someone who joins fake-news-style social-media manipulation to old-fashioned death-squad repression. The makeup of Brazil’s congress looks grim as well, and the military will have his back—there’s little foreseeable break on what he can do. Markets are soaring. Global proud boys are dancing. The mega-dozers are revving their engines, and the earth will be pushed to the limits, as Bolsonaro peeled off some of the landless vote by promising he’d remove prohibitions on colonizing the vast Amazon, even as his soy, lumber, mining, and cattle backers will lay waste to far larger swaths than any peasant ax could. “For Canadian business, a Bolsonaro presidency could open new investment opportunities,” the CBC reported last night shortly after the results were announced, “as he has pledged to slash environmental regulations in the Amazon rain forest and privatize some government-owned companies.” “Our Amazon is like a child with chickenpox, every dot you see is an indigenous reservation,” Bolsonaro has said, promising to do away with...

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Sanctions and Russia

Mapping the consequences of inevitable sanctions on Russia   Chris Weafer Oct. 29, 2018   Lenin famously said “everything is connected to everything else” and with more, possibly “crushing,” sanctions due to be imposed on Russia soon the effect on the Russian economy and capital markets is profound, but not all bad. Many factors, such as the currency, policy options and economic performance, are connected to sanctions events and threats. Below is a diagram that attempts to show the important connections for investors and companies working in Russia, as well as an attempt to sketch out how the moving parts fit together.   And more sanctions are coming: it is only a matter of when, and in what form, rather than if. The next round could be passed as soon as late November when the 90-day review of Russia’s compliance with the Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW) sanction is scheduled to take place and, if Moscow is deemed not to be compliant, then President Trump must choose at least three out of the six possible punishments that have been published. Sanctions have been a matter of fact for all involved with Russia since early 2014 but what is different this time is the relative calm while waiting for the next wave to hit. There have been no threats of major retaliation from the Duma and the ruble has pulled...

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Liberal Democracy

The Weaknesses in Liberal Democracy That May Be Pulling It Apart   Max Fisher Nov. 1, 2018   For anyone curious about the future of democracy, two developments out of Brazil and Germany pose something of a mystery. The election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil looks too similar to the wave of right-wing, anti-establishment populism sweeping Europe and the United States to be dismissed as coincidence. Mr. Bolsonaro, known for praising his country’s former military dictatorship and insulting minorities and women, has championed anger at Brazil’s establishment by promising strong-fisted rule. Underscoring the sense of a global shift, within hours of Mr. Bolsonaro’s victory, Angela Merkel, Germany’s longtime chancellor and pillar of European stability, announced she would not seek re-election. Yet there is no obvious link between Mr. Bolsonaro’s rise and that of Western populists. Figures like Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary and German populist parties rose by railing against the European Union and immigration, neither of them issues in Brazil. Mr. Bolsonaro rode a backlash against corruption and crime epidemics that are distinctly Latin American. Maybe Brazil’s election, along with the rest of the populist trend, represents something more disruptive than a single wave with a single point of origin. Research suggests it exemplifies weaknesses and tensions inherent to liberal democracy itself — and that, in times of stress, can pull it apart. When that happens, voters...

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Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil’s Polarizing New President, Jair Bolsonaro, in His Own Words   Mariana Simões Oct. 28, 2018   Jair Bolsonaro’s climb to power has been marked by divisive rhetoric and offensive speech that has thrilled followers and appalled critics in equal measure. The far-right former army captain’s rise has left some baffled. Mr. Bolsonaro served seven consecutive terms in Congress, with little to show for his time there; very few of his bills were approved. But many Brazilians, angered by their country’s economic crisis, soaring violence and corruption scandals, interpreted his long list of caustic remarks as blunt but bracingly honest talk from a man willing to say — and do — whatever was necessary to bring about the change they craved. On Women, Race and Sexual Orientation Mr. Bolsonaro has described having a female child as a “weakness,” and has said he would not treat or pay women the same as men in the workplace. “Because women get more labor rights than men, meaning they get maternity leave, the employer prefers to hire men … I would not employ [women equally]. But there are a lot of competent women out there.” In 2014, he told a fellow lawmaker: “I would not rape you because you are not worthy of it.” In 2013, he said that he would “rather have a son who is an addict than a son who...

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