With Boris Johnson hailing parliament’s vote towards Britain leaving the EU on January 31, there is a general consensus among the country’s leaders that there will be an intimate trading relationship with the US after Brexit. But whenever the question of a deal comes up in the media, there is usually much talk of stumbling blocks.
There is the war of words between UK chancellor Sajid Javid and US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin over a digital tax on American companies in the UK, for instance. Or fears that the NHS will be sold off to US healthcare giants.
Much is also written about the difficulty the UK faces in steering a course between its EU neighbours and the overwhelming political might of Washington. For example, will the UK have to abandon the Iran nuclear deal to win free-trade concessions from America?
Earlier this month, President Donald J. Trump lent further credence to various figures in far-right politics by retweeting the complaints of prominent far-right activists recently banned from social media platforms. In late April, he also doubled down on remarks he originally made in the wake of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one counter-protester dead and many others wounded, after which he infamously stated “You also had some very fine people on both sides.” These are of course, just the latest instances in a long line of Trump’s support for American white nationalism, from his prominent role in the “Birther” movement during the Obama years, to his lukewarm condemnation of David Duke’s endorsement of his campaign in 2016, to his references as president that “people from shithole countries” in Africa and the Caribbean should be kept from immigrating to the US, that Haitians “all have AIDS,” and defending his earlier claims that Latin American men were a bunch of drug traffickers and rapists. As these examples highlight, the President’s career and the media’s coverage of his election and tenure in office have often provided oxygen, publicity, and legitimacy for once discredited white nationalists and other far-right activists that seek to re-establish themselves as respectable and mainstream under their preferred label of the “alt-right.”
Unsurprisingly, there is little new about the American far-right’s contemporary campaigns to court the media and edge their way into public discourse. In the 1970s, neo-Nazi and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke earned notoriety and found moderate success by reviving and re-branding the KKK to appeal to different audiences. In public, Duke disavowed violence and tried to present his group as a peaceful civil rights group for white Americans. The Klan’s ranks were opened up to Catholics, once reviled because of their supposed allegiance to the un-American Papacy, while women were welcomed as new soldiers in this white supremacist “Invisible Empire.” Nonetheless, David Duke’s publicity stunts, such as the infamous “border patrols” where the Grand Wizard posed for cameras in California while on guard for illegal crossings, often attracted more reporters than supporters. He ultimately failed to transform the Klan into the publically respectable group that could influence mainstream institutions and gain electoral victories. Duke now distances himself from his past leadership of the Klan, and like others in the contemporary far-right movement, seeks to avoid any association with the infamous terrorist group. Continue reading “Trump’s Legitimization of White Nationalism Harkens Back to the KKK’s “Invisible Empire” of the 1920s”→
The United Nations has finally called for the investigation and prosecution of Myanmar’s top military command for crimes of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim population of the Rakhine State. The brutality of the military reached its peak during the ‘clearance operations’ of August 2017, since which 750,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.
A 400-page report was published by the United Nations on September 17 2018, the result of a year-long investigation into the well-planned killing and rape of Rohingya women and girls, and the burning and looting of their homes. It is the first time that such specific atrocities have been documented for which blame is directly apportioned to the highest level of Myanmar’s military.
Whilst the report indicates a step in the right direction regarding the prosecution of the perpetrators, it fails to address the issue of the displaced Rohingya community. In particular, what is the international community doing to help these victims of genocide?
The 750,000 Rohingya refugees have sought shelter at the camps and makeshift settlements set up in Bangladesh specifically to cater for the refugees. The main refugee camp is located at Kutupalong, located in North-East Bangladesh, but the constant stream of refugees has resulted in several additional camps being built in the surrounding countryside.
President Donald Trump renewed fears of a global trade war after he vowed to slap steep tariffs on foreign aluminum and steel.
The tariffs haven’t even been formally proposed, yet other countries are already threatening countermeasures. The European Union, for example, promised to impose tariffs on iconic American products like Harley-Davidsons, Kentucky bourbon and blue jeans, while China, Australia and Canada all promised a response.
Brushing all that aside, the president tweeted that “trade wars are good.”
When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!
When Donald Trump repeatedly equated the far-right activists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia with the anti-fascist counter-protesters, the media’s reaction was swift and clear. The next covers of both the New Yorker and The Economist featured cartoons of Trump and a Ku Klux Klan hood. In one, the president guides a ship of state with a sail shaped like a hood; in the other, he shouts into a megaphone designed to look like the infamous white headpiece.
To many commentators, the Klan costume is now the perfect visual sleight with which to decry Trump’s cack-handed false equivalence. After all, hoods and burning crosses are the most potent icons of American white supremacy, an easy shorthand for racism and bigotry. But despite the scenes of extrovert white supremacists on the march with burning torches in Charlottesville, something important has changed: today, there is essentially no such thing as “the Klan”. Continue reading “White supremacists are on the march, but the KKK’s Invisible Empire is history”→
[Editor’s note: Below is from my editorial just published in the Washington Post‘s series “Made by History,” a remarkable new initiative for historians to engage with current affairs, co-edited by Nicole Hemmer (@pastpunditry) and Brian Rosenwald (@brianros1).]
According to a longstanding international relations theory, the global economic order is at its most orderly when there’s at least one hegemonic free-trade champion.
As per this theory, Britain took this role upon itself in the mid-nineteenth century, ushering in a brief transatlantic flirtation with trade liberalization and relative hemispheric peace.
The United States was the first major nation to turn against this mid-nineteenth century free-trade epoch. From the Civil War to the Great Depression, the United States instead embarked upon nearly a century of Republican-style economic nationalism, which I’ve explored in my own work.
But this began to change following the Second World War when the United States assumed the mantle of free-trade hegemon. Promising prosperity, profits, and peace to the world, it sought to foster international trade liberalization through supranational initiatives like the International Monetary Fund (1944) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (1947), the latter of which morphed into the World Trade Organization in 1995.
Well, the times they are a-changing again.
Trump’s fast-developing protectionist and ultra-nationalist “America First” program has signalled that the United States is abdicating its role as free-trade leader. As the New York Timesnoted earlier this month:
President Trump’s advisers and allies are pushing an ambitious idea: Remake American trade. They are considering sweeping aside decades of policy and rethinking how the United States looks at trade with every country. Essentially, after years of criticizing China and much of Europe for the way they handle imports and exports, these officials want to copy them. This approach could result in higher barriers to imports that would end America’s decades-long status as the world’s most open large economy.
The Trump regime’s protectionist trade vision is fast becoming reality.
So what does this mean for the future of the global economic order?
Around 75 years ago, in February 1942, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the forced relocation and internment of more than 110,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry. The majority of them were American citizens, and a large proportion were children.
But unlike President Trump’s 2017 executive order to halt immigration and ban refugees from American soil, Roosevelt’s sweeping political move did not provoke any protest or dissent. Both presidents had mentioned the notion of “national security’ in their orders, and both decrees were said to be aimed at specific national groups. So is President Trump merely copying the policy of one of his more popular predecessors?
From the moment the US entered World War II in late 1941, all “enemy aliens” living in America – German, Austrian, Italian, and Japanese – were subject to restrictions on their freedom. These included the imposition of curfews and a ban on owning radios. So the real significance of EO9066, as it is known, was that it authorised the detention not just of enemy aliens, but also of American citizens. In theory, any American citizen could be relocated by order of the military. Continue reading “Children have long been unfairly hit by US presidential executive orders”→