The Deep State conspiracy theory: Is Trump laying the groundwork for The Great Presidential Robbery?

By MIke Scrafton | Should US presidential hopeful Joe Biden prevail in November, the grounds will have been laid for Donald Trump to cry foul – with the potential for a crisis of political legitimacy. Australian policymakers, struggling with balancing the economic relationship with China and the security relationship with the US, should be following domestic trends in America with nervous apprehension.

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Historical amnesia: Great power behaviour and criticism of China

By Mike Scrafton | Positioning the adversarial relationship with China as one of morally superior western democratic nations in competition with a somehow illegitimate and malevolent China is an exercise in historical amnesia. The democratic United State’s 1890 – 1920 trajectory from western hemisphere state to global power has some economic, military and foreign policy parallels with authoritarian China’s growth in the twenty-first century.

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Geostrategic shifts in a time of contagion

The COVID-19 crisis will affect the global geostrategic situation in a number of ways: some obvious and some still obscure.

Post COVID-19 economic conditions within nation states and across the globalised world will have shifted; governments will be juggling with the options of austerity policies, tax increases and welfare demands. Liberal and democratic values are likely to have suffered, along with confidence in democratic political leadership. And internationally, competition between political and economic systems might just be heating up.

The future geostrategic situation could turn on whether China or the US bounces back best from the current predicament. The coronavirus could prove to be a test of the resilience and viability of the political and economic systems of the two key states, and reposition their strategic competition.

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What COVID-19 tells us about preparing for global warming

The current crisis tells us some important things. The flaws in the neo-liberal model have been exposed. Democratic politics have been stressed to breaking point. The shocks to the economic, social and fiscal systems required to avoid dangerous climate change are shown to be unfeasible.

Denial, delay, and deflection over the climate science by democratic governments immersed in neo-liberal fantasies has set the world an unachievable target if dangerous global warming is to be avoided.

The extraordinary steps imposed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic are what is needed on a sustained basis if a limit of 1.5°C of global warming is to be achieved. And yet this period of lock-down, self-isolation, social-distancing, and commercial and industrial dormancy has already shown that the measures responsible are imposing on whole societies costs which cannot be borne for long.

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Liberal democracy: the prognosis post-COVID-19

Liberal democracy still has a way to go before getting out of the ICU. Diagnosed with an underlying co-morbidity prior to the pandemic, it will be fortunate to survive without an ongoing need for respiratory support.

Governments have assumed extraordinary powers without a great deal of parliamentary or public debate, or clarity about why those powers were essential, or under what circumstances they will be extinguished.

Many see in the measures the potential for civil liberties and human rights to be eroded and for illiberal and autocratic tendencies to supplant liberal democratic values. The measures’ insidious potential is magnified by the willingness of governments to use questionable behavioural science to shape public attitudes and responses.

The prognosis for liberal democracy post-COVID-19 is not auspicious.

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Thuringia and European democracy after Merkel

In German politics, a strong party taboo was broken when Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU) joined with the centrist Free Democrat Party (FDP) leader in Thuringia, Thomas Kemmerich, to form a government with the support of the right wing Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The breaking of the taboo might reflect the passing of the generation of Angela Merkel, shaped by the complex social, political and economic legacy of the Nazi past, a divided Germany, post-Soviet national reunification and the emergence of the European Union.

In this article MIke looks at the historical context that gave rise to the “cordon sanitaire” around the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), and the potential signficance of its demise (and Merkel’s retirement) for the European project and geopolitics more broadly. .

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Crisis and the Transformation of Government Administration

The Thodey Review of the Australian Public Service is set against a backdrop of four simultaneous and momentous crises before which modern democracies seem impotent; global warming, population growth, wealth inequality, and a dangerous geostrategic shift. Is the APS as reformed by the Thodey Review going to be up to the task of supporting ministers facing this level of overwhelming uncertainty and risk management?

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