Investigating the Trump Scandal: Implications for Democracy and Political Risk

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 5, No. 5, May 2017

By Gergana Dimova, Ph.D. [1]

The single most common question posed since the media allegations of Trump’s campaign alleged connections with Russia broke out is whether American democracy is failing and how political risk is affected. I use a database of more than 1,890 critical articles leveled at the governments in the established democracy of Germany, and the managed democracy of Russia, to place the Trump’s investigations in a comparative perspective. The analysis explains how the appointment of a special prosecutor affects the democratic nature of accountability arrangements and offers predictive statistics of political risk in the aftermath of this media scandal. It considers factors related to regime type, institutional and electoral constraints, reputational effects, policy proposals, sanctions and verbal explanations in the media.

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Critical Comments On ‘US Policy Toward China: Recommendations For A New Administration’

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 5, No. 2, February 2017

By James E. Fanell

Below are the critical comments I provided to Dr. Orville Schell, the co-chair of the recent Asia Society and University of California, San Diego report US POLICY TOWARD CHINA: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A NEW ADMINISTRATION. While there are sections of the work that I agree with, I still fundamentally disagree with the overall foundation of the document’s recommendations which I believe are designed to sustain the past 40 year of a policy that promotes unconstrained “engagement” with the PRC.  As such, I’ve gone through the entire document and extracted several statements and paragraphs that I disagree with and a few that I agree with.  While I will provide comments for each specific reference issue, I can summarize my dissent of the report in the following major themes:

1.  Unconstrained Engagement.  Engagement with China is asserted to be the primary goal of US relations with China without providing evidence for that assertion.  Or worse, suggesting things are actually going well, contrary to all objective evidence.

2.  “The Relationship” is the #1 Priorty.  “The relationship” is prioritized as being equal to or more important than U.S national security.  There is no clear articulation that U.S. National security should be the #1 national security priority for the US and that our relationship with China should be judged through that lens, not through the lens of sustaining “the relationship” at all costs.

3.  Do Not Provoke.  America should not “provoke” China, but again, there is no evidence to support why this position will benefit U.S. national security interests.

4.  Dissent Not Welcome.  While I appreciate inclusion of Ambassador Lord’s dissenting opinion on North Korea, clearly the study did not value, or include, dissenting opinions, especially in the Asia-Pacific Regional Security and Maritime Dispute sections.

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The Three Oppositions: Chinese Dissident Groups Holding Mass Demonstrations Since 2012

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 5, No. 2, February 2017

By Tom Stern

As President Donald Trump takes command 28 Years after the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, there are three prominent groups which are considered by the Communist Party of China (CPC) to be dissident and subversive to its ideals, posing a danger to political stability. Each of these could potentially become the backbone necessary for the expansion of freedoms in China.

  1. the Tuidang Movement, [1]
  2. the New Citizens’ Movement [2], and
  3. the practitioners of Falun Gong [3].

Tuidang Movement

The 退黨運動 (Tuìdǎng yùndòng), or Tuidang movement for short, is one that seeks the abolition of the CPC. Literally meaning “to withdraw from the Communist Party,” its members are bound by their desire to end the corruption tied to the Party. Caylan Ford, in his dissertation “Tradition and Dissent in China: The Tuidang Movement and its Challenge to the Communist Party” notes a key difference between the movement and those before it in that, rather than drawing from western principles and ideals of democracy and free expression, it seeks to act as a mirror to the nation’s idealized past. In its reflexive approach, the movement employs exigent and distinct Chinese language and ways of thought, such as Confucianism. Ironically, Ford also notes that the movement views the Communist ideology as a largely foreign and detrimental one, “which is portrayed as antithetical to true Chinese values, human nature, and universal laws.” Rather than using a geopolitically-charged force behind its espoused arguments, the Tuidang movement draws from both history and morality in its efforts to compel the Chinese public to recognize their unified, and wholly unnecessary, suffering under the Communist Party.

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Boom in the Iran Crude Tanker Business

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 4, No. 10, October 2016

By Reza Yeganehshakib, Ph.D.

Oil-tankers docking in Rotterdam, Holland.

Oil-tankers docking in Rotterdam, Holland.

The oil industry has experienced numerous fluctuations in crude prices during its history. Falling prices in 2014 developed into a historic downturn by 2016, reaching lows that were last seen in the 1990s. As a result, several oil giants were forced to decommission almost two thirds of their rigs, while also dramatically decreasing their investment in the upstream oil industry.[1] Counter-intuitively, the crude shipping industry did not go through the same catastrophic loss as its upstream counterpart. Iran, one of the world’s biggest oil exporters and crude shipping operators, experienced this firsthand.[2] While the country’s oil revenue sharply declined, its crude shipping industry grew. This situation was not without problems, however, as explained herein.

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Reconsidering Political Risk In Developed Economies

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 4, No. 8, August 2016

By Julian M. Campisi

Introduction: A Macro Analysis of Political Risk

Nigel Farage, leader of Britain's UK Independence Party laughs as he points to a UKIP poster, before delivering a speech on the forthcoming EU referendum, in London, Friday, April 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Nigel Farage, leader of Britain’s UK Independence Party laughs as he points to a UKIP poster, before delivering a speech on the forthcoming EU referendum, in London, Friday, April 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The concept of political risk has landed at the forefront of media and scholarly outlets in the fields of international politics and economics after a turbulent first half to 2016. Exposure to a number of recent global ‘shocks’, including the latest waves of terrorist attacks, Brexit, and a failed coup d’état in Turkey, has led to a renewed sense of political and economic instability across the globe. However, until recently, the majority of scholars and practitioners working in the sub-field of political risk have mainly engaged with the political and economic factors that affect investments in developing economies—albeit for good reason. In many such countries, the stability and profitability of foreign investments or business ventures is more difficult to guarantee and to predict due to concerns related to political volatility, social upheaval, expropriations, and regulatory uncertainties. Yet developing nations are at the forefront of political risk analysis precisely because of the potentially lucrative business opportunities that accompany fairly rapid economic growth and development in frontier markets. Indeed, recent global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to developing countries, spurred by growth in Asia, significantly outweighed those to developed ones as table 1 shows below.

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Prudence in International Strategy: From ‘Lawyerly’ to ‘Post-Lawyerly’

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 4, No. 7, July 2016

By Jeremiah S. Pam

Remarks at a symposium on ISIS: Navigating Conflict with Non-State Actors / The University of Texas School of Law, 15 April 2016

‘Prudentia’ sculpture on roof of 16th century town hall, Gross-Umstadt, Germany. Photo by: Frank Rumpenhorst/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

‘Prudentia’ sculpture on roof of 16th century town hall, Gross-Umstadt, Germany. Photo by: Frank Rumpenhorst/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

I. Introduction

In considering this conference’s subject of how the international community should respond to the challenge of ISIS, I suspect we can all agree that it is imperative that we be informed by our recent experiences with interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, the difficult question is how those experiences should inform us. Given my own time in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is perhaps not surprising that I have a few observations from those cases that strike me as potentially relevant, to which I will turn very briefly in a moment.

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China’s One Horse Race in the South China Sea

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 4, No. 6, June 2016

By Peter Solomon

Flag atop a Chinese Coast Guard vessel near Panatag/Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. As seen from a Philippine fishing boat on Philippine Independence Day. June 12, 2016. (Photo credit: Anders Corr and Kalayaan Atin Ito.)

Flag atop a Chinese Coast Guard vessel near Panatag/Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. As seen from a Philippine fishing boat on Philippine Independence Day. June 12, 2016. (Photo credit: Anders Corr and Kalayaan Atin Ito.)

China is cruising toward the finish line in what has become an uncontested race for power in the East Asia-Western Pacific region. There is no question China’s leadership understands that in order to retain the reins of power it must keep pace with the demands of its population, which is the largest in the world. After three decades of at least 10 percent GDP growth, however, the 2010s have proven difficult for China to attain that level of achievement. China’s transition to a consumer-driven economy, moreover, means that China’s growth rates will likely continue to contract as the middle class expands and cheap labor-intensive jobs move elsewhere.

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Chinese Investments in the Philippines

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 4, No. 6, June 2016

By Dr. Tom K. Stern

In this May 17, 2013 photo, trading continues at the Philippine Stock Exchange at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines. As the Philippine economy skyrocketed 7.8 percent in the first quarter, outpacing China, the middle class in the Southeast Asian nation that has been held back by widespread poverty, political strife and corruption is for the first time in decades reaping the profits of an economic boom. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

In this May 17, 2013 photo, trading continues at the Philippine Stock Exchange at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines. As the Philippine economy skyrocketed 7.8 percent in the first quarter, outpacing China, the middle class in the Southeast Asian nation that has been held back by widespread poverty, political strife and corruption is for the first time in decades reaping the profits of an economic boom. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Introduction

On June 30, 2016, Rodrigo Roa Duterte will be sworn in as President of the Republic of the Philippines. How he handles the tensions over Chinese land-grabbing, a regional arms race, plus brushes with danger when American and Chinese forces grate against one another will decide how well the Philippine economy can perform during President Duterte’s term.

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Condemned to repeat it: a retrospective on US Presidents without elected office experience

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 4, No. 6, June 2016

By Bhakti Mirchandani

Counting electoral votes after the contested 1876 Tilden-Hayes Election, February 1877. Hand-colored woodcut of a 19th-century illustration. (North Wind Picture Archives via AP Images)

Counting electoral votes after the contested 1876 Tilden-Hayes Election, February 1877.
Hand-colored woodcut of a 19th-century illustration. (North Wind Picture Archives via AP Images)

Abstract

Popular resentment of changes in the economy and of the political elites administering some of those changes is palpable during this year’s presidential campaign.[1]  Public distrust is rife: the electorate views narrow moneyed interests as increasingly driving public policy and the legislative process as broken.[2]  At the same time that American voters are “tired of Washington politicians,”[3] the legacies of Presidents without elected office experience before being sworn into the Oval Office demonstrates the difficulty for outsiders to be effective Presidents.  Numerous academics, such as Arthur Schlesinger, have dedicated decades and thousands of pages to presidential backgrounds and legacies, and every four years the media examines the credentials of prospective and prior Presidents.  This article is a short opinion piece about the shortcomings of past outsider Presidents.  Their flaws ranged from cognitive bias to tolerance of corruption and from excessive use of clandestine plots to lack of political skill.  Only two of the five outsiders–Dwight Eisenhower and Ulysses Grant–were reelected to second terms.

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The South China Sea Dilemma: A Political Game of International Law

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 4, No. 6, June 2016

By Nong Hong[1]

In this file photo from Wednesday, June 15, 2016, an F/A-18 Hornet takes off the deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS John C. Stennis during joint military exercise between the United States, Japan and India off the coast 180 miles east of Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa. The U.S. says at least one Chinese ship tailed the USS John C. Stennis daily during its recent cruise through the South China Sea, although no hostile incidents were reported. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

In this file photo from Wednesday, June 15, 2016, an F/A-18 Hornet takes off the deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS John C. Stennis during joint military exercise between the United States, Japan and India off the coast 180 miles east of Japan’s southernmost island of Okinawa. The U.S. says at least one Chinese ship tailed the USS John C. Stennis daily during its recent cruise through the South China Sea, although no hostile incidents were reported. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

Abstract

The existing territorial and maritime disputes in South China Sea have been pending for decades. Despite tremendous efforts on conflict management, the settlement of the decades-old maritime dispute in the South China Sea seems to be politically deadlocked. The Philippines, losing patience and confidence on negotiations on various levels, has stepped forward by utilizing the arbitration procedures under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and sued China on January 22, 2013. This paper attempts to answer such questions as, will the arbitration case resolve the dispute between the Philippines and China; what is the political and legal consequence following this; what is the impact of the Philippine’s arbitration initiative for the negotiation and drafting process of the Code of Conduct; what is the value and role of the UNCLOS in maritime dispute settlements in the South China Sea; and, in a broader sense, is the recent escalating tension in the South China Sea a consequence, explicitly or implicitly of the arbitration case. The author argues that despite the value ascribed  to the compulsory dispute settlement under UNCLOS, the South China Sea Arbitration Case does not resolve the problem between the two countries. Even more complicated, some have blamed the Philippines for triggering the negative reaction from China, which will lead to an uncertain post-arbitration situation. The author raises a question: Is the Philippines’ use of UNCLOS arbitration a genuine attempt to resolve its maritime dispute with China? Or is it merely a political game of international law?

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