Michael Mandelbaum has written a new book published by Simon & Schuster, titled "The Road to Global Prosperity," in which he examines the politics of the global economy and explains why globalization is irreversible and a positive for the United States.
Russia is a key player in this expanding global economic prosperity, but the takeover of Crimea by Russia could hurt the nation economically, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, says Mandelbaum.
Last week, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission, joined together to condemn and take action against Russia for its takeover of Crimea.
"As such, we have decided for the time being to suspend our participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June," said the group for the moment known as the "G-7 nations," in response to Russia's action.
Mandelbaum says that the single most important political determinant of the global economy's future will be the rate of growth with the emerging economic giants of the nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China, or simply referred to as the BRICs.
Which begs the questions? So what about the Ukraine and Russia crisis?
The National White House Examiner caught up with Mr. Mandelbaum, and asked him that question specifically, about the impact of Russia's ouster from the G8 (now the G7)?
How does it impact the arguments made by Mr. Mandelbaum in the book about the BRICs, including Russia being a part of the BRIC?
Mandelbaum said, "Russia's ouster from the G-8, and the sanctions imposed by Western governments, bear out one of the fundamental premises of 'The Road to Global Prosperity,' namely, the supreme importance, in the twenty-first century, of the global economy, even for what seem to be purely political and military issues such as Russia's invasion, occupation, and annexation of Crimea."
Was Mandelbaum concerned about the sanctions? "Economic sanctions, if properly designed and resolutely applied (neither of which can be taken for granted), can, over time, compel Putin and the oligarchs who support him and who form his power base to suffer real losses. Effective economic measures, especially those involving energy that reduce the Putin regime's revenues from the sale of oil and gas, can undercut the popularity it enjoys among the Russian people and weaken its grip on power."
Mandelbaum added, "On this issue, as on others, economics in general and the global economy in particular are the keys to politics."
As part of the BRIC, Russia knows it is threatened, not necessarily militarily, but economically. That explains last Friday's frantic phone call from Russian President Vladimir Putin to President Barack Obama looking for a "diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine." Obama suggested "Russia put a concrete response in writing and the presidents agreed that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would meet to discuss next steps."
During his talk with Putin, Obama noted that the Ukrainian government continues to take a restrained and de-escalatory approach to the crisis and is moving ahead with constitutional reform and democratic elections, and urged Russia to support this process and avoid further provocations, including the buildup of forces on its border with Ukraine.
Obama made clear that this remains possible only if "Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty."
The interests of Russia, is their economic interests and their future survival as an economic world power.
During the first era of globalization, Japan, Germany and the United States joined Great Britain and Western Europe to power the global economy; after 1945 southern Europe and some East Asian nations joined that globalization.
Mandelbaum has said that the "biggest political obstacle to global growth is war; and the bigger the war, the bigger the obstacle. Growth stopped, indeed went into reverse, during the two world wars in the first half of the last century." Mandelbaum discusses in Chapter 1 of "The Road to Global Prosperity," some of the global trouble spots in which wars that would set back global growth could erupt and one of them is the relationship between Russia and Ukraine, which has produced the recent Russian invasion and occupation of the Ukrainian province of Crimea.
The clear political isolation of Russia in terms of suspending participation in the G8; determination to hold the G7 in Brussels in June; and a clear reference to sectorial sanctions as a step that the G7 could take to intensify its pressure on Russia going forward.
"The Road to Global Prosperity" illuminates the crucial political issues that will determine the economic future. Mandelbaum makes a persuasive case for optimism and offers a concrete, practical guide to the economic challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
The book concludes with another metaphor, predicting that the global economy "will not come to a halt, veer sharply off the road, or hurtle into a fatal collision." Instead the ride will continue — "bumpy," but on an "upward path," largely because "there is no attractive alternative to free markets."
Michael Mandelbaum is the Christian A. Herter Professor and Director of American Foreign Policy at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. He is the author or coauthor of thirteen books, most recently the bestseller "That Used to Be Us," with Thomas L. Friedman.
Simon and Schuster interview with author Michael Mandelbaum
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