Mihail E. Ionescu
Editorialul publicat de Gideon Rachman acum cateva zile in “ Financial Times” este remarcabil din mai multe puncte de vedere . Primul ar fi ca releva ca in aceste zile ale pandemiei Covid-19 ne aflam la o rascruce sistemica: in toiul infruntarii dintre SUA si China pentru suprematia sistemului, asadar ordinea globala actuala fiind in cumpana. In al doilea rand , penru ca abordeaza direct chestiunea declinismului SUA din ultimii ani supunand US soft power la ceea ce numeste “ reality check” ( unde “ati trimite la studii universitare copiii? “ ) . In al treilea , dar nu in ultimul rand, arata care sunt acum principalele puncte slabe ale celor doi competitori.
‘Rascrucea sistemica’, despre care aminteam mai sus, este pusa de Rachman in urmatorii termeni: “Combine the relative stabilisation of China, with the threat of a new Great Depression and a deep political crisis in America, and it is clearly possible that Covid-19 will trigger a big shift in power from the US to China. It could even mark the end of American primacy.”  Aceasta concluzie este desprinsa prin analiza situatiei internationale actuale, fiind vizibila confruntarea dintre cele doua state in pofida existentei unei amenintari comune :Covid -19. In locul cooperarii asteptate, competitia s-a intensificat , iar irelevanta masinii militare americane este evidenta in lupta cu acest inamic invizibil. Mai ales ca, potrivit unor analize de ultima ora, chiar aceasta masina de razboi se lupta acum, inegal, cu acest inamic. Pentagonul a informat la13 aprilie 2020 ca efectivele miliare americane ( circa 2 milioane de oameni ) inregistreaza “2,486 service members across all branches of the military have tested positive for COVID-19, as have 669 DoD civilians, 558 dependents and 298 contractors.”  Mai mult, asa cum relateaza un articol din revista ‘ Navy Times’ din 15 aprilie, incidenta infectarilor in flota americana cere neaparate masuri rapide, asa cum ar fi debarcarea echipajelor, in afara unui mic numar n necesar pentru asigurarea functionalitatii , testarea , sanitizarea navei si abia apoi reimbarcarea echipajelor .  Desigur, nu se pune problema unei confruntari militare , desi desigur nimic nu este imposibil. Tocmai in aceasta ultima perspectiva, la initiativa presedintelui E. Macron al Frantei a fost luata decizia declararii de catre ONU a unui “ armistitiu global” . O analiza Reuter din 14 aprilie consemneaza ca , relund o idée a secretarului general ONU “French President Emmanuel Macron said he has secured the agreement of three of the five permanent members of the United Nations’ Security Council to back a call by the UN for a global ceasefire so the world can focus on the coronavirus epidemic.The UN’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the world truce on March 23, warning that in war-torn countries, health systems have collapsed and the small number of health professionals left were often targeted in the fighting” 
Reintorcandu-ne la editorialul amintit la inceput , Rachman arata ca suprematia americana , desi in declin, este asigurata acum si probabil in viitor de suprematia monedei nationale , dolarul, in afacerile globale si deopotriva de imensul ‘soft power’ de care beneficiaza hegemonia SUA azi . In ce priveste rolul predominant al dolarului american pe glob , cititorii isi amintesc desigur de demonstratia profesorului Poast de la Universitatea din Chicago privind faptul ca ordinea liberala actuala este sinonima cu dominatia incontestabila a dolarului american ca moneda de rezerva globala. Graficul mentionat de profesorul Poast si reprodus de noi ( vezi episodul din 4 aprilie pe acest site ) demonstreaza acest lucru convingator prin raportarea dolarului la celelalte monede ale marilor puteri :
Teza lui Rachman- el insusi un adept al declinismului SUA- este ca daca evolutii in curs sau altele neprevazute – alunecarea politica catre isolationism / nationalism si xenofobie, recesiune economica indelungata , etc.- ar putea stirbi ‘soft power-ul’ american , ramane atotputernicia dolarului care va prelungi primatul sistemic al SUA. “While US military dominance is increasingly contested, the dollar’s global role as a safe haven and the leading currency for trade is unchallenged. This translates into huge political power. The US can use sanctions to shut a country or a company out of the dollar system. And, because it is the global currency, the sanctions reach around the world.”
Referindu-se insa la actuala criza Covid-19 , Rachman arata ca raspunsul pe care il va da SUA acesteia , in comparatie cu cel al Chinei , va avea un impact masiv asupra increderii globale in dolar. Prin stimulul financiar de peste 2 trilioane de dolari recent asumat datorita acestei crize neasteptate, adaugand si datoria mai veche a SUA apare riscul ca dolarul sa-si piarda din increderea de care se bucura in lume. Iar analistul incheie ca : “ The world’s appetite for dollars sends back the implicit message — ‘In America we Trust.’ If that trust survives coronavirus, so will American primacy.”
Interesante sunt reactiile cititorilor la aceste teze ale autorului . Cum aratam, ziarul este citit de segmentele importante ale segmentului elitei globale (intelectuale, economice, militare, etc. ) , astfel ca reactiile cititorilor sunt semnificative pentru problemele ridicate de articol . Este posibil un declinism masiv al SUA si prabusirea primatului sistemic al acestei superputeri ? Este China o castigatoare a actualei infruntari , cel putin in ce priveste raspunsul dat de cei doi competitori la criza Covid-19?
Iata cateva asemenea comentarii:
“ /.../While there are increasing opportunities for foreigners to work and reside in China and in the higher middle class that is very doable, there is no way that China can achieve the same openness to foreigners that the US or Western Europe has. Never mind that you are not free to openly profess a religion or opinion in China, even when you have an opinion critical of China when you're outside the country they will take issue with you./…/ This world is based on openness. It's a classical liberal mindset but it also is practically open exchange of knowledge and capital on top of open protocols of travel and exchange. China profits from the openness but most fundamentally opposes the mindset and so is in no position to lead a world based on it and has no force to alter the mindset nor, if it did, have anything to replace it with. The strength of the post ww2 order is that it is underwritten by that global openness. Successful countries are successful mostly to the degree that they can achieve that openness in their own societies with some countries such as the Scandinavian ones excelling at it more than others. China just doesn't have an answer.” ( cel mai apreciat de cititori)
“While I agree that openness does foster innovation and economic growth, one should be cautious of reverse causality. It could well be that only because a country becomes prosperous that it attracts foreign migrants and talents. Few migrated to America when it was a colonial backwater, but as opportunities flourished in the 19th century it became the destination of choice.”-
“Until viable alternatives exist. I don't see any. The Euro is closer to collapse than ever and the Chinese Yuan is subject to control by the CCP, not exactly the most confidence building entity. The Swiss Franc is too small to handle any global role and Japan is heading south. That's it. Even if distrust of the US Dollar rises, the lack of alternative means that it will stay king of currencies for a long time.”
“ Why do you think the US is still investing so much effort in propping up the oil price? The importance of the oil industry in maintaining the power of the dollar as a reserve currency remains a key component in the system of US financial and political hegemony. Hence it can't allow a free-for-all price war between producers to disrupt it. While China will not replace the US anytime soon, US hegemony will continue to decline relatively but the pace of that decline is indeterminate and depends on US leadership. The in-built cultural and institutional bias created by the international order after WWII makes it very hard any single country to replace the US without a major reform of that architecture. However, if US leadership continues on its current dysfunctional course then even friendly blocs and countries like the EU and the Saudis might start to look elsewhere for political, financial and economic stability. /…/.”
“The west has the all and mighty media to their advantage. Post Covid, this will be, entirely, China’s and WHO’s fault. US/UK’s slower than average western government response will be hailed as democratic, scientific, and systematic. The almighty vaccine will likely come from a western ‘trusted’ source. The British Empire’s hegemony on the English language, media, science, law, standards and financial services has served the west unbelievably well and will continue to do so”
“/…/It is unfortunate to see America decline. I am Asian by ethnicity but grew up in very diverse cities all my life. I, for one, would like to see a stronger United States AND a stronger China. China and the US run on very different political ideologies and systems of governments and these ideologies are probably partly influenced by the respective countries' histories (Dynastic vs. born out of a War of Independence with Great Britain) and also the respective countries' values (Communitarian vs Individualistic) - no system is perfect, and each has its strengths and weaknesses, and we need to respect each country's history, values, culture and ideologies. Of course, there will always be competition between the US and China, but there are, in my view, many more opportunities for cooperation than there are for competition. We need both China and the US (and indeed all countries) in the world to improve, to become stronger and more resilient - to improve their healthcare systems, their infrastructure and their peoples' livelihoods - because the world still has many problems that we'd need to face together as one, as a common humanity, in the years going forward. We cannot afford to see the world as a zero-sum game. “
“The USA became the world's economic and intellectual hegemon because the rest of the developed world bankrupted itself in two world wars. The USA entered both wars relatively late and suffered none of the physical destruction experienced in Europe. As we see with COVID-19, these fortuitous circumstances are unlikely to happen again.”
“I suspect a great many of these people predicting China's rise as the world leader have never spent a great deal of time living there.
Bribery and corruption while it has been slightly cleaned up by XI is still the order of the day. Just look at the Luckin Coffee incident, that's a clear example of how things go on.
Do you think any country really trusts China? They are known to lie about nearly any statistic coming out of their country and if you believe the official death toll was only around 3,000 I have a bridge I can sell you. I can also sell you that bridge's twin if you believe their GDP has still been at 6-7% . They aren't behaving any better than the US with incredible amounts of debt and spending to inflate the numbers. I suspect really they have been at 3-4% personally. Communists typically double the #'s of whatever report they are sending in.To be sure they pulled off one hell of a turnaround in their economy and there is a FEW areas that they are doing well in (AI, 5g) but please they are no alternative to the US or the west. /…/I can tell you after living in Eastern Europe for many years that the western countries are leagues beyond anything out here. The only alternative systems that do right by their people are Singapore & Japan. The rest of the world is in varying degrees of oppression and slight misery. Please, if you are a woman go live in China and tell me you feel like you are equal to a man. Have at it bots and naysayers, we'll recover in the west like we always do and floods of money will still be invested in our stock markets and your children will still study at our universities. For all of our faults we are still far and away the best option out there”
“America's excessive reliance on imposing sanctions unilaterally -- and keeping them in place cruelly even on countries struggling to import life saving medicines and equipment in the pandemic - will eventually undermine the position of the dollar as well. Fundamentally, this aspect of soft power depended on the US being a pillar of the liberal order, which meant having predictable and mainly open trading policies and leading in cooperative frameworks such as G7 and G20. In general, US leadership has depended on the willing followership of Europe and Japan. This is now very shaky. “
“/…/the basic premise of Rise and Fall is largely being proven very right by the current dynamics between the USA and China. Just like Britain and the USA prior to the 1st World War. Britain (read America today) had a smaller economy but vast armed forces (navy) and overseas interests/possessions and investments. Sterling was the global currency. America (read China today) was a faster growing economy with larger population and less strategic overreach. There are plenty of similarities. Lets just hope the straw that breaks the camel's back is not another catastrophic war (or two) “
“It would be great if neither China nor the USA ruled the world as both are greedy, imperialistic oligarchies. A multipolar rules based world order should be rather the goal. And for that purpose the world needs to unite to rein in these two bullies and make them behave.”
“ /…/ today in 2020, Europeans are far less imperialistic than the USA or China who have a clear and openly starred will to dominate world politics. Europeans and the rest of the world don't, people want stability and order underwritten by more than a single superpower. The EU shows the benefits of such am order. Whilst not perfect and subject to nation states' populism the interactions between European countries in a legal framework like the EU are far more civilised and consensus driven than in the rest of the world.”
“/…/As to leadership, the US is going to have an organized transfer of power in November of this year just as it has for the previous 232 years (or the political civil war of all civil wars). In contrast, it is increasingly clear that as the decade progresses that China will have to change its top leadership not only in the person of the president but the entire top cadre of the party structure just as much as the oil needs to be changed in the engine of an old rattletrap jalopy. The Chinese are entering their own Brezhnev era of doddering leadership in a vacuum of institutions that can hold a leadership to account. /.../Domestic renewal / of USA/ at home and major reconfiguration of foreign policy abroad, both done to a scale that only America is truly capable of, will be a revolution on several fronts at once in its unique decentralized manner. The hard winds of change of the 2020s may very well favor the American ship of state.”
“ British universities and the British pound were widely considered the best and most trustworthy in the world between 1850 and 1920. But anyone with a basic understanding ofnumbers could see that the rise of other nations, if not necessarily one rival, signaled the impending end of its primacy. China, in its current form, won't replace the USA. But that's not relevant in a multipolar world.”
“With regards to the US dollar, I agree. This crisis has further stressed how reliant the world economy is reliant upon it. On the other hand, China's financial markets remain tightly controlled by the State, including capital controls, and under these circumstances we seem far away from a situation in which the yuan could have any meaningful standing as a trade or reserve currency. The Euro, while I will believe it will survive, is still struggling with existential dilemmas. Under these circumstances, it also seems discarded as a serious contender to US dollar dominance. I don't really see any other currency with the potential to challenge the dollar yet. Only an unexpectedly sharp deglobalisation and definancialisation of the world economy, even beyond what we can envision now, could jeopardise the power the US derives from the dollar by diminishing its usefulness.You forgot a third point: the English language. There's no other language as easy to learn,certainly not Chinese. And I think that's another asset in the US' arsenal.”
“Meanwhile the US and democracy in general - Krugman notwithstanding - is showing remarkable strength. /…/It is too early to declare victory but Western Europe has more infections and far more deaths with a similar population as the US. Private and public companies and citizens jumped in to help with innovations, supplies and all sorts of services: the communal response is in stark contrast to the state only approach on China. Innovation and initiative are now surging ahead in the US and Europe: faster and more tests, medicines and vaccines in trial and voluntary technology to help control future infections. Finally the economic costs is huge but so is the response. While politicians are bickering over details the US and Europe are helping individuals and companies on a massive scale. Sure debt is surging but what does Gideon think is happening in China? Have the US and Europe been damaged? Yes? Is democracy weaker? No. On the contrary, it is alive and kicking. Will the US be knocked off its pedestal? Someday but not just now.”
“ Maybe America is less exceptional than it used to be, it is still the most exceptional. Maybe the U.S. and China will both be diminished by COVID, but China looks more diminished. By the two criteria of hegemony (where would you want your children to work and what currency would you want to use), the U.S. and dollar are now even more attractive than China or the RMB (or the EU and the Euro, never mind the sad case of the UK and Sterling).”
Asadar, excluzand trollii - nu le stiu, dar le banui apartenenta geopolitica - , practic comentariile cititorilor asuma, deschis si ferm, chiar reprosand analistului ca are indoieli/ rezerve , fidelitatea fata de continuitatea primatului SUA in sistemul global, invocand argumente- pe langa cele ale analistului-, democratia si calitatile, inovatia pe locul prim , Occidentului fiind la loc de frunte. Sunt si unele comentarii - fara a lipsi cele care se revendica de la ideologii prezente azi in spatiul occidental, progresivisti, libertarieni, neoliberali, socialisti etc.- care invoca avantajele sistemului multipolar sau ale necesitatii cooperarii sistemice , dar ele se inscriu trendului general net favorabil civilizatiei euro-atlantice. Sa mai arat in final ca articolul a avut peste 400 de comentarii ( unele mai mult sau mai putin fatis nefavorabile lui G. Rachman, motivul fiind al contestatiei trainiciei hegemoniei americane ).
17 aprilie 2020
 Gideon Rachman, Coronavirus and the threat to US supremacy, in “ Financial Times”, April 13, 2020- https://www.ft.com/content/2e8c8f76-7cbd-11ea-8fdb-7ec06edeef84?sharetype=blocked
 Diana Stancy Correll, Navy should evacuate, quarantine crews from all ships, former SECNAV says- ‘Navy Times’, April 15, 2020- https://www.navytimes.com/news/coronavirus/2020/04/15/navy-should-evacuate-quarantine-crews-from-all-ships-former-secnav-says/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Navy%20Times%204.15.20&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Navy%20-%20Daily%20News%20Roundup