Rudy Atencio commented on A Change in Leadership 2019-02-02 00:30:36 -0500Join me on my Twitter campaign as i gear up for the 2020 congressional seat in WA. Meanwhile, bellow are my views on Venezuela
Rudy A. Atencio
The Balance Between Hegemonic Multilateralism and the Diffusion of Conflict:
A Comparison Between the Failed State of Venezuela and Chinas Increasing Dominance on the World Stage.
INTERNATIONAL NEGOTIATIONS AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION
Venezuela’s instability threatens peace, global stability, and American interests in that its crumbling infrastructure poses a risk for a regional outbreak of malaria. Similarly, the political climate may function to conceal terrorist networks and drug cartels, threatening national security. A recommendation for mobilizing funds to a multilateral non-profit organization like the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) using USAID as the primary source for funding as the gap between the U.S. and other donor states keeps growing (Sachs 2005). A Venezuelan philanthropic mission could rally community driven re-development, leading to a more sustainable community, addressing the malaria outbreak, Also, backdoor channels could be established in order to gather intelligence via a mobile unit infused with clandestine agents in order to decrease the likelihood of conflict due to information vacuums formed due to collapsing infrastructure. An effect felt from a robust sustainable infrastructure would be, increased regional security which would widen the bargaining range for U.S. driven multilateral negotiations in the region (Muthoo 2000), while also decreasing the likelihood of conflict by increasing our understanding of structural flaws in the Venezuelan regime, which might increase the likelihood of Venezuela’s elite to head towards multilateral defections and its emergence as a rogue state.
Second, The United States should intervene in Venezuela’s corrupt political system using a second non-profit like the National Democratic Institute or (NDI) through USAID in order to redevelop Venezuela’s democracy, in that infusing Venezuela with democratic ideals via a non-profit would decrease the likelihood that the U.S. and Venezuela would become engaged in a global conflict as democracies tend to not war with each other. Using philanthropic multilateral networks like PADF, coupled with NDI could enhance the quality of democracy (Milner 2013), leading to the redevelopment of Venezuela’s fallen middle class. While also dealing with the current healthcare risk posed by job shortages due to crumbling infrastructure. the methodology and pedagogy of resolving conflict in Venezuela surrounds key events like looking at reconstruction through peacebuilding, and reconciliation with the United States once a regional partner and client of the OPEC.
Peace building models, should include canvasing of the Venezuelan people and the spread of democratizing literature in order to stimulate rebellion a necessary step in rationalist thinking whereby the status quo must be overridden with some level of escalation in order to create room for change. Literature should be selected carefully from a “pre-contact analysis” of the conflict in Venezuela, its stakeholders, which elites might be affected, its educational and domestic institutions alike, and the way by which all concerted domestic, international institutions are interacting, and the impact the conflict might have on actors, states and political institutions. The way in which conflict is unpacked or retracted domestically and internationally are also critical factors to analyze and study before entering a conflict zone (Ramsbotham 2016). In the readings by Ramsbotham (2016). One of them is foreign aid and the benefits and caveats it might have in resolving conflict.
USAID is a publicly funded form of foreign aid that is meant to inject a state in turmoil with conflict subversive operations meant to bring about regional stability to areas in conflict. Thus foreign aid is often tied to hegemonic interests which play into conflict in various ways. In previous literature, there is mention of international funds provided by the world bank, and IMF for the use of NGO’s, in the spirit of stimulating international cooperation for the resolution of conflict ridden areas. However, it is important to note that funds provided to foreign dignitaries are subject to corruption and misappropriation of funds whereby the intended use is squandered by the winning coalition or elites. This misappropriation undermines the intended use and leads to breach of trust and unpack conflict in a negative way. USAID is a good example whereby funds meant to deliver aide come at hegemonic cost as well, where USAID is tied to infiltration of US military personnel leading to mistrust and misperceptions of sovereign entities which could also adversely unpack conflict. Thus hybridized models are the best alternative, as you will soon see. A recommendation for mobilizing funds to a multilateral non-profit organization like the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) using USAID as the primary source for funding as the gap between the U.S. and other donor states keeps growing (Sachs 2005).
A Venezuelan philanthropic mission could rally community driven re-development, leading to a more sustainable community, addressing the malaria outbreak, while doubling as an intelligence surveillance unit infused with covert agents meant to survey the situation in Venezuela and establish backdoor channels with the Venezuelan administrators if possible as well as the resistance in order to set up talks meant to de-escalate conflict while also opening the door for the democratization of the Venezuelan congress as well as face saving offloading ramps offering the post-Chavez administration an opportunity to “come to the balcony” (Ury 2010).
Establishing a goal for the institutionalization of a robust sustainable infrastructure in Venezuela means that the effective mobilization of intelligence units and a malaria task force which is funded multilaterally is essential in order to secure regional U.S. interests and regional security.
The methodology in a robust infrastructure involves some bargaining theory, such as, the fact that increased regional security would widen the bargaining range for U.S. driven multilateral negotiations in the region (Muthoo 2000).In this instance the use of USAID is one that would fund NDI in order to safeguard elections, and promote citizen participation, openness and accountability in government (ndi.org), thereby promoting democratic values. Funding this NGO would promote American and democratic interests through the spread of Democracy, averting future war. Because NGO’s are heavily scrutinized (Downs 1988), NDI could serve as a diversion from any suspicion of intelligence gathering by the PADF, doubling as a rouge for hiding intelligence officers. This would create a multilateral/ multipronged approach whereby U.S. intelligence could infiltrate through a backdoor channel while also establishing backchannels for future negotiations through the PADF covertly. The effects of this approach would allow for gathering intelligence on terrorist networks, like cartels who might use coercion creating a catastrophic risk for American cities (Betts 1998), analysts duly serve as advocates (Friedman 2012). Meanwhile working to diminish the outbreak of malaria more regionally.Not doing so, could lead to political coercion for satisfying the oil demands of competing superpowers for Venezuela’s oil, one of the world’s largest oil producers, a founding member of OPEC. PDVSA, Venezuela’s national oil refinery Is an asset which could be exploited by coercive terrorist organizations as well should Venezuela’s political system present a power vacuum (Betts 1998).
If we look at the global and regio-political-crisis in Venezuela, we can see that the conflict stems from the idea that its democratic ideals are faltering, and succumbing to communistic and totalitarianism that stems from the negative entrapment centered in infrastructural crumbling, that can only lead to regional instability and thus temporary Hegemonic control of the region by a small group. China, once suffered from these types of transitioning issues when its capitalistic structure fell to Mao. However unlike Mao’s China, who saw the crumbling infrastructure and decided to tackle the challenge of addressing starvation and deteriorating human capitol, Maduro, used the failed state modality to his advantage in order to stay in power and using starvation and the crumbling infrastructures such as the healthcare sector in order to tamp down any uprisings, thus keeping him in power, which is why multilateral interventions are necessary (Bueno 2012).
Looking at China, if we compare underdeveloped China of the past to the current more oligopolistic and hegemonic China, you can see that Chinese conflicts differ drastically from the Venezuelan ones in that China is using liberalism in order to wage Hegemony. So how is it that both China and Venezuela are philosophically and politically similar, yet drastically different economically and thus conflicts seem to diverge in predictable ways. One theory is that liberalization brings global stability and like the octopus, whose many tentacles are converging at the body, and work concertedly for the health of the body so does multilateralism and liberalism to a certain extent (Crocker 2016).
One example of multilateral controls similar to Chinas oligopolistic goals are the highly integrated FIAT markets that predominate the present whereby China is essentially copying the U.S. with the emergence of their own version of the world bank meant to institutionalize multiparty agreements and bind them on the global stage. In the case of the gold standard, the previous global financial system failed, in that they were unable to re-institutionalize the gold standard, due to the fact that many states had defaulted or in other words defected due to unbearable austerity measures imposed by parties who strayed from the financial cutbacks imposed by global elites. Their interest rates did not float on their currency’s competitiveness in the world market. Uncomfortable measures were used during the gold standard because you had “zero-sum” like transfers of national wealth and debt. Because of the unbearable nature of the financial crash of the 1920’s we see the emergence of a more cooperative financial market like the FIAT with multiparty buy-ins from other sovereign states whose representation in the global markets depends on their competitiveness and the interest rates set by their central banks and thus more accurately represents the current markets and system we see today (Freiden 2017).
The International Monetary Fund or (IMF), is created in the 1940’s in an effort to reduce the anarchy felt in the international arena between competing interests and institutions for global financial positioning (Oatley 2016). Also, the Institutionalization of a litigating party like the World Trade Organization or (WTO) is able to mediate any disputes emerging from global conflict handling a whole range of issues like land disputes, financial, and human rights violations in an attempt to reduce the global anarchy seen in the lack of mitigating bodies on the global scale. According to Oatley 2016 memberships subscription is completely voluntary and increases the likelihood of cooperation while also decreasing defection due to a prisoner’s dilemma (Oatley 2016). The aim of having mutual cooperation is to decrease military conflicts and increase stability in financial markets as well as secure land investments which are all important factors in global stability (Frieden 2017). Thus China, has recently been involved in both land and financial disputes with the U.S. and its neighbors. So what does money and land have to do with conflict?
If we look at the IMF, the multilateral nature of the World Bank and IMF brought about peace and stability by decreasing the severity of austerity measures more prevalent during the preceding international Gold Standard. So on one hand, you have liberalization that leads to global stability like the IMF whereby multiparty buy ins led to hegemony by the U.S. due to the fact the U.S. is the primary lender, yet on the other hand, liberalism during World War 1 led to unbearable austerity measures that caused economic recessions in Europe due to the movement of gold from one central bank to the other leaving one state unbelievably rich while the other suffered at the hands of financial penalties brought on by the state sponsored creditors. Liberalized economies during the gold standard failed to regulate incoming foreign competing interests, whose products and services were cheaper, such as those provided by the U.S. during the turn of the twentieth century, outcompeting the domestic interests residing in the faltering state. An overly liberalized economy with no controls led to failed states plagued by austerity measures. Thus liberalism is like a 3-D printer. It can be used to print a gun, while also used to print a house. It is a technology that can be used to secure hegemony and political stability or it can be an economic bleed whereby one state quickly becomes indebted to the other without political controls.
So how is China using liberalism in order to wage Hegemony over the U.S? China, recently unveiled its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank or (AIIB) (Lawder 2017). The issue here is that conflict could occur between the (AIIB) and IMF as their interests are diametrically opposed. The AIIB is currently recruiting clients which until recently only had two choices which were the World Bank and IMF and whose main stakeholders are now buying into the (AIIB). This in some ways represents a shift in U.S. dominated negotiations and thus the potential for new disputes over financial Hegemony, and territories which control the cash flow in and out of the south pacific, and South China Sea.
Last year the Chinese military in the South China Sea, and the United States navy, under the command of this administration, conducted military exercises that raised conflictual interests between the U.S. government and China. The conflict surrounds a highly disputed set of islands in the western pacific meant to give leverage and global positioning to the superpower which dominates the region. One could compare this phenomenon to the global positioning gained by the U.S. over the Caribbean islands (Frieden 1988). Important to mention, the islands located in the South China Sea have remained a highly debated topic since the end of the second world war, mediated by international organizations, whose purpose was to overt conflict over issues such as land, or economic resources, ultimately bringing global stability to the benefit of all the citizens living within the borders of these key players. The U.S. and China, are thus destined to confront the challenge of establishing Hegemony over the choke points and trade routes in the South China Sea.
The South China Sea contains a waterway that circumvents several western pacific nations, which is a “choke point” for several waterways that predominate trade between the west and all of Eurasia (Kaplan 2011). In fact:“More than half the world’s merchant fleet […] passes through these choke points, and a third of all maritime traffic. The oils through the Strait of Malacca from the Indian Ocean, in route to east Asia through the South China Sea, is more than six times the amount that passes through the Suez Canal and 17 times that of the Panama Canal” (Kaplan 2011).
On one hand, for the U.S, It is in our best interests to block any further attempts by the Chinese to dominate this region. One reason for this is that the tribunal which referred to the United Nations Convention on the Law and the Sea hereafter referred to as (UNCLOS) has already dissented through arbitration in October of 2015, whereby the Philippines challenged China’s claim that they had legitimate rights within the region and specifically to the zone in question (Zhang 2017). According to the U.N. agreement article 287 of the (UNCLOS) rule clearly states that: contracting parties have a choice to participate in the arbitration process; free to decide whether they want to settle those disputes via arbitration. However, they may also settle the dispute in any way they deemed suitable (Zimmerman 2013). These multilateral agreements, and recent dissentions can be used to the U.S.’s advantage in a few ways, de-escalation, or sanctions on trade meant to pressure the Chinese administration into complying with the U. N’s dissention, which they volunteered for, most likely averting a military confrontation.
The most sustainable option to go with, is one meant to de-escalate the rising tension via the incorporation of multilateral agreements. In doing this the U.S. would be calling for, the participation of current global partners like the E.U., Australia, Japan, Taiwan, and The Philippines. Because the area is a trade choke point, it would be wise to maintain the positions of the (UNCLOS) agreement that trade routes within this region are not within China’s sovereign borders, but in fact, the U.S. should maintain the position that these routes are international waters protected by the agreements dissented on by the U.N.’s arbitration courts. This would allow for us, to legally assert dominance, as an enforcing body, under the trade agreements signed by all parties, after the second world war.
The recent arbitration dissention, which China rejects, creates the need for international cooperation from multiple key players. This would infuse the political philosophy, of liberalism, whereby the interests for all trading partners within the Eurozone are protected, and thus peace, is more likely. Liberal ideals and multiparty cooperation will stabilize trade, discourage China from blundering their way into the region, de-escalating conflict, while reinforcing frayed relations between long held partners in the Eurozone (Waltz 1959). Sending a neutral third party negotiator, to approach China, and see what their interests are in the region, while also taking an interest based approach extrapolated form their narrative which seems to have gained momentum in the favor of liberalization and multilateralism as well as all collaborating partners, could help us reach a meeting of the minds thereby creating a multilateral win-win, averting a zero-sum outcome (Jervis 1978).
The U.S. has several tools for solving the South China Sea problem. However, unilateral sanctions are not one of them. If the U.S. were to enforce sanctions, via the International Monetary Fund, or the World Bank, this would fail miserably due to the recent multiparty buy-in into the AIIB possibly emboldening the Chinese. Sanctions are used to punish key supporters financially and thus, more likely, to squeeze the current administration out of office (Bueno 2012). However, this would fail in China because of the AIIB. The caveats to doing this is? Retaliation by Chinese lobbyists, thus affecting the U.S. administrations in undesirable ways. If the U.S. administration were to pass an executive order outlawing foreign lobbyists, this could overt outside geopolitical interference, while the international trade routes are re-negotiated. However, it would also undermine the effectiveness of our partners in stabilizing the Eurasian trade routes, thereby escalating conflict in the South China Sea, while also giving away our state-sponsored international partnerships, thus diverting them, into the hands of Euro-Chinese interest groups, positioning China, as a nation growing too rapidly in power.
If all international collaborators were swayed in the direction of the Chinese; China’s power, and influence, would grow too quickly dislodging U.S. control in the region (Frieden 1988). This could lead to an escalation in interest based conflict, and thus ultimately, to a proxy war, which could unfold in the South China Sea.
Averting any military confrontation within the Eurasian choke points, would be the best option in solving the U.S. / China problem. Also instead of establishing tariffs, it might be more beneficial for the U.S. administration to establish quotas instead. This feeds into the narrative of keeping the Chinese in the “up-and-coming” face saving category instead of the win-lose possibilities surrounding the conflict. Quotas, accompanied by a small set of critical tariffs, would slow the growth rate of Chinese power, whereas increasing conflict in the region could put the United States economy at the mercy of the Chinese, especially if those choke points are destabilized, and the Chinese were to gain control (Frieden 1988). The goal is to normalize the balance of power between the U.S. and China as the best solution for conflict.
So how does a pluralistic society like China and individualistic leadership such as those in the west, cooperate and avoid conflict? Mutual interest based negotiations backed by a credible threat like multilateral sanctions would work well in this situation. Multilateral sanctions resembling pluralistic values should come from states that share a distrust for Chinese interest groups. For example, Chinese companies have been known to violate trademark, copyright, and patent protected material. The WTO has failed at mediating these cases effectively although recently they have become a tit-for-tat talking point when referencing Chinese hegemony pushback from the current geopolitical community. Thus, forging a multilateral institution that is effectively mediating these types of cases, would help to establish mutual trust and cooperation. However, ideal to set up multilateral governing bodies, there must be an enforcing body which delivers rigid austerity measures. The problem with that modality is that austerity measures failed directly before world war 1 and thus led to conflict. The reason for the chaos, and lack of multilateral enforcement is simple. There is an incentive to defect from any agreement by rationally thinking individuals, and second, there is the issue of sovereignty. The guarantee of sovereignty from the global community by its very nature leads to international defection from agreements and international anarchy.
As we can see the Venezuelan and Chinese conflicts differ drastically. Luckily, China has been in a state of positive entrapment forging more multilateral liberalized agreements, which edges close to liberalized ideologies, a richer and thus more satisfied wining coalition and multilateral global banking positioning the rising power on a global hegemonic trajectory. Whereas Venezuela, on the other hand has closed itself off, allowed for the collapse of multilateral agreements like the OPEC by allowing its international institutions to lose hegemony, and allowing domestic institutions like the healthcare sector to crumble. Similarly, due to its crumbling infrastructure, Venezuela has lost its ability to monitor terrorist networks and cartels while also posing a vulnerability to its last resource which is oil. If terrorist networks were to gain control over Venezuela’s oil, they may pose a threat to national security in the United States.
Most of the instability in Venezuela, stems from the fact that the Maduro and Chavez administrations have used some fairly strong language against the U.S. This contributes to the ongoing narrative that the U.S. is the enemy and that because of U.S. hegemony Venezuelans now suffer the consequences of severe austerity imposed by U.S. sanctions and thus starvation and disease are their intractable products. The language used against American interest is one that begins with the indoctrination of the Venezuelan youth. This in turn creates an entire generation of anti-american sentiment, and leads to the emulsification of groups that coalesce around the same trajectory and narrative that is in the disinterest of American and global security, via the procurement of indoctrinated disenfranchised groups whose only recourse is to join global contraband and drug trafficking trade in order to survive, and do so, with the intent to harm American interest.
In the book “Talking to Groups that Use Terror” Quinney (2011), mentions it is important to account for the social construct surrounding the event thus the language used to analyze the situation may be using bias in a way that hinders negotiations. The indoctrination of Venezuela’s youth has framed the argument in a way that blames the U.S. for all of Venezuela’s political woes. Channels of communication must be established in order to disseminate pro-democratic ideals. The idea that channels of communication should be established might seem obvious, but it would be incredibly important for an outsider mediating to explore if previous channels of communication have been established and if those channels involve contact with any dignitaries in power, disenfranchised coalitions, interest groups, terrorist networks, criminal networks, and multilateral NGO’s who may also want to participate in waging regional stability. Also, do the terrorists respect the point of contact? This information would be tremendously important in order to give validity to the situation and thus effectively unpack the retraction strategies for conflict in Venezuela.
As someone walking into a crisis it would also be of value to be able to distinguish between absolute and contingent terrorists. Quinney (2011), characterizes this as, the ability to differentiate between terrorist who chose the act as a means to an end, or are the actors more contingent on gaining concessions to further their cause. I would also want to think about ways to “maximize the effectiveness of talks” (Quinney 2011). What is typically meant by “talks” in this case is that I would want to know if the negotiations were bilateral, multiparty, mediation or quasi-official negotiations (Quinney 2011). I would also ask any mediator or negotiator to foster a sense of ownership and commitment to the terms of agreement. Not only are backchannel negotiations necessary in Venezuela, but also information and data gathering is critical to solving the Venezuelan crisis, as well as the rebuilding of infrastructure.
In solving this problem, the use of covert units through Guyana via the PADF could be mobilized in order to closely monitor for any exploitation of oil revenues by terrorist or criminal networks. The units would be mobilized as a response to the intelligence gained from the channels of communication and intelligence gathering. The presence of terrorist networks within the south American coast means that in the event of a crisis, having units present who are familiar with the regional narrative, and social biases along with intel on the local networks present, could divulge a plan to re-establish control over what could become an uncontrollable downward spiral into explosive geopolitics, hindering any future negotiations with the U.S. as terror groups and criminal networks have been known to spoil peace talks in order to coerce concessions from the hegemonic power. Lacking intelligence, would be a mistake, in that Americas bargaining range and ability to make multilateral agreements would be greatly reduced (Muthoo 2000), leading to a reduction in multinational cooperation and thus an increase in regional instability, due to a lack of multilateral safeguards. As you can see this is an approach whereby liberal ideals are being utilized thus reducing anarchy, solving for healthcare issues, increasing intelligence in the region, and thus preventing a prisoner’s dilemma (Jervis 1978) which rivals American geopolitical interests (Waltz 1959), and is necessary in order to prudently solve the instability in the region while also protecting the oil reserves of PDVSA from local and regional criminal / terrorist networks.
Because foreign aid is often used to fund clandestine missions such as the one proposed for Venezuela, one of the caveats to consider, is that foreign aid may undermine any bargaining power gained from aid, often sparked by armed conflict over attempts to control the foreign aid endowments (Findley 2011) which were meant to democratize the rogue state’s population and ultimately the regime either via a regime change or democratization. As a result, it could be suggested to break up the endowment for Venezuela, into two separate budgets in order to safeguard USAID investments from any intrusions. In order to secure financial oversight (Birdsall 2005), using a foreign aid regime like OECD-DAC in developing countries would mobilize the OECD-DAC which is a multilateral group which oversees the budget spending practices of foreign aid in order to avoid the corruption of funds. contribute to the rebuilding of infrastructures similar to those created during the cold war (Milner 2013). OEDC already cooperates with Venezuela (oecd.org). Thus, liberalistic ideologies through cooperation decrease the likelihood of defection, corruption, or diversion of funds into the hands of President Nicolas Maduro’s winning coalition (Bueno 2012) which might stem from a lack of oversight.
A multipronged / multilateral solution, given the current Domestic political stop points and interests of the U.S. whereby house and senate could solely fund a philanthropic dual mission through multilateral institutions like the PADF and NDI in order to re-develop healthcare institutions, democratic ideologies in the region without U.S. intervention. A second possibility is that, the U.S. could issue link by, gathering intelligence about the safety of PDVSA, terror networks and drug cartels in the region to foreign aid sponsored by USAID under the rouge of PADF and NDI, in order to increase Americas bargaining range (Muthoo 2000), avoiding defection due to the creation of a prisoner’s dilemma or a power vacuum looking to be filled by competing superpowers (Jervis 1978). Because Venezuela is rich in oil resources, the U.S.’s interest in maintaining regional hegemony is at risk of external influences gaining a foothold in the region and thus competing for the natural resource. Would China use the same type of tactics in gaining a foothold in Venezuelan crude? Is multilateralism which was once thought to bring about global stability also capable of leveraging austerity and dominance over the failed state (Farley 2018)?
The multilateral tactics used by hegemonic powers leads me to think that liberalism and multilateral controls are in direct opposition to the principle of sovereignty Crocker (2016) also, frames mutual cooperation as a form of multilateral imperialism which i found to be a provoking thought. If we look at the international political economy, and its competing superpowers, we can see that four primary empires are fighting for global positioning. We see the E.U, the U.S., Russia, and China, using multilateralism as a means for hegemonic control. As the China begins to emerge on the world stage as a global oligopolistic and hegemonic superpower, Venezuela continues to fail and delve deeper into the depths of social deconstructionism and the collapse of its institutions. Both conflicts involve multiparty actors, states, and political institutions, yet they are diametrically different whereby china thrives and Venezuela does not. The price of sovereignty might be Chinas fall in the end but one thing is for certain, conflict both converges and diverges in both similar and different ways which lead to moments of analysis, multiparty intervention, hegemony and ironically enough, sovereignty paid in full at the price of anarchy and defection from agreement and thus the perpetuation of conflict. The future for mediators and conflict resolution specialists is broad and certainly involves international negotiations with an in depth understanding of conflict and its dynamics.
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