quinta-feira, outubro 11, 2007

254) China e Russia como dois modelos de economias de mercado, mas nao de democracias liberais

Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: The Russian Model
Do Russia and China Provide an Alternative to Liberal Democracy?

Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia Profile, October 5, 2007
link: http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20071009/83042487.html

Contributors: Stephen Blank, Ethan S. Burger, Vlad Ivanenko, Eugene Kolesnikov, Eric Kraus, Andrew Kuchins, Andrei Lebedev, Ira Straus, Andrei Tsgyankov

Freedom House, a U.S.-based public advocacy institution, recently released its annual "Countries at the Crossroads" report for 2007. The report basically recognizes that Russia and China are pursuing similar and so far quite successful development models that have almost nothing to do with liberal democracy, but very much to do with competitive market systems.

The report draws the conclusion that Russia and China represent a well thought-out and consistently implemented alternative to the Western model –an alternative that some in the U.S. policy community have already dubbed "authoritarian capitalism."

The model borrows from the West what makes it so successful economically – market capitalism based on private property and reasonable state regulation. But it rejects the second, political component - liberal democracy.

The report states: "The emergence of a 21st Century authoritarian-capitalist model is not limited to China. Russia, another regional power with ambitions on the global stage, is developing a model of governance that denies basic political rights for its citizens and shuns democratic accountability, while charting an economic course that is capitalist, albeit with deep state involvement in economic affairs. President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin presents what it calls 'sovereign democracy' as its paradigm for governance. This concept, which in practice contains little in the way of genuine democratic governance, is also held out as an example for hybrid regimes and autocracies on the Russian Federation's periphery."

Freedom House is concerned that the economic success and rapid social progress of Russia and China would provide a tempting development path for many countries in the world. Indeed, former Soviet nations like Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan are already developing, by and large, according to the Russian model, while democratic Ukraine or Georgia are mired in a perpetual power struggle that ensures instability and harms growth.

Freedom House fears the Chinese and Russian efforts to project their model and influence abroad, and finds this to be enough grounds to accuse Russia and China of irresponsible international behavior: "China and Russia are also actively exerting influence abroad.

China, for example, provides material and political support to odious regimes in Sudan, Burma, North Korea and Zimbabwe. Russia, for its part, works to undermine nascent democratic reform in neighboring countries such as Georgia and Ukraine. Energy plays a pivotal role in these countries' international approaches. Russia, rich in crude oil and natural gas, exerts influence in neighboring former Soviet states by using its energy resources to subsidize politically friendly, autocratic countries and pressure states that display disloyalty to the Kremlin. Energy hungry Beijing, on the other hand, is scouring the globe in pursuit of oil and gas to fuel its economy, and is willing to do whatever it takes to enter into energy deals with some of the world's worst governments. There is little to suggest that the government in either one of these countries is yet prepared to act consistently as a 'responsible stakeholder' on the international stage."

This does not appear to be fair – Russia and China have been acting quite responsibly on the international scene, working quietly to defuse major political crises by exercising multilateral diplomacy, as opposed to Washington's preference for a unilateral use of force. The case of Iraq clearly undermines the U.S. claim to being a responsible international stakeholder.

The reason behind such accusations is genuine fear that the success of the Russian model would make the democracy promotion agenda, and with it Freedom House itself, largely irrelevant.

As Andrew Kuchins writes in the latest issue of the National Interest, "If the authoritarian capitalist system promotes economic growth and raises living standards for millions—or in the Chinese case, hundreds of millions—democracy promotion will be in trouble. It would appear that most people living in relative poverty will prioritize prosperity over political activism."

What exactly is "the Russian Model"? How successful economically and politically is it going to be? How many admirers and followers will it inspire to follow suit? Is it endemically incompatible with the "Western Model" or, as Freedom House asserts, hostile to it? Could the two systems coexist peacefully or maybe even converge?

Vlad Ivanenko, Ph.D. Economics, Statistics Canada, Ottawa

The ranking of countries by the level of democratization provided by Freedom House suffers from two shortcomings. First, its methodology is based on subjective evaluation made by independent experts, which is an inferior method to those used in competing indices. For example, the index calculated within the Polity IV project and, of late, the MGIMO index, which are based on formalization and quantification of democratic traits, which allows less space for human error. Second, the assumption of independence on the part of Freedom House experts has been violated. According to an interview with a formerly high-ranking Freedom House employee published last year, the organization's index was biased, sometimes deliberately, to prompt a specific policy response in Washington. This action was justified on the grounds that it helped to speed up changes in former socialist countries, but as soon as such intent became public, the credibility of Freedom House's work was ruined.

Freedom House places Russia at the bottom of its list, which is incredible. In alternative surveys, Russia is ranked somewhere between the developed European countries and obvious autocracies, nearer its fellow BRIC countries, below India and Brazil but above China. This outlook appears to be closer to reality.

The work on democratization indices should not stop here. Investigation of sub-indices reveals positions in which Russia performs the worst. Low accountability of public servants, their corruption and propensity to support local monopolies are the main factors that determine the country's relatively low rank. It should be noted that these deficiencies do not form a basis of a specifically Russian system of governance – or a model alternative to democracy – but represent deviations from the pattern established in the West. No one will argue in Russia that it is not in the national interests to raise state accountability; however, at the moment there is neither pressure from the middle class – the main benefactor of democratic innovations – nor sharp realization on the part of the Russian elite of the danger that poor standards of governance bring about.

The current dynamic indicates that Russia will move closer to Western standards, which is unsurprising. Because Russia continues to develop economically, the demand for public accountability will increase as the number of middle class swells. A growing national outreach of formerly regional monopolies raises pressure on internal barriers erected by local officials. This is exactly the correct sequence of democratization - standards of living come first and democratic institutions follow, building on this base. According to empirical literature, a survey of which was made by Martin Paldam and Erich Gundlach in Two Views on Institutional Development, economic growth has historically preceded the demand for democratic institutions and not vice versa.

The West has both the interest and means to speed up this process; however, the current sequence of its interventions isn't working, and with good reason. It is pointless to attempt to play on the differences among the Russian elite to invoke changes, and it is dangerous to concentrate on the promotion of human rights that do not command popular support in this country. The concept of "sovereign democracy" is a stern warning to outsiders not to press Russia into accepting changes that the country doesn't want. The formation of the middle class is the key to successful democratization and the introduction of good business practices is a contributing factor. In both areas, the West commands significant expertise that it can employ bringing Russia closer to its standards.

Andrew Kuchins, Director, Russia and Eurasia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C.

(reprinted with the author's permission from Etat Terrible, his review of Robert Kagan's book Dangerous Nation, The National Interest, Aug. 29, 2007)

If the authoritarian capitalist system promotes economic growth and raises living standards for millions—or in the Chinese case, hundreds of millions—democracy promotion will be in trouble. It would appear that most people living in relative poverty will prioritize prosperity over political activism. Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the role model for authoritarian capitalists as the leader who brought his country from the Third World to the First, commented on the Chinese system's durability in an interview in 2004: "If in 20 years they bring China's progress, not just in the coastal areas, but also the interior, to conditions like those of Korea of the 1980s, the Chinese people will buy that. The people's ambition at present is not to achieve political rights or representative government. They just want to arrive as a developed nation."

Putin has capitalized similarly on the Russian peoples' desire for prosperity and international respect to bolster his authoritarian-capitalist regime. Putin's Russia is on an extraordinary historical roll fueled by remarkable economic-growth levels that have increased Russia's nominal dollar GDP from less than $200 billion in 1999 to more than $1 trillion in 2007. Incomes have grown by a factor of four times over this period. While modernization theories have argued that growing prosperity will be accompanied by a more plural, even democratic, political system, Putin has defied this by systematically weakening the fragile democratic institutions he inherited. Even without controlling national TV, with economic numbers like these, Mr. Putin would probably still be wildly popular among his citizens. With his convincing performance before the International Olympic Committee that won the 2014 Winter Olympics for the Russian city of Sochi, Putin has probably transcended rock-star status in Russia. Russians would likely be perfectly happy if he decided to stay on beyond his constitutionally mandated second term in 2008 and preside as Russian president when those Olympic Games take place in seven years.

Russia and China have been united in their efforts to break the momentum of democratic color revolutions that appeared to be sweeping Eurasia when President Bush spoke so eloquently about democracy and peace in his second inaugural in 2005. As Thomas Carothers argued in 2006, "The growing backlash has yet to coalesce into a formal or organized movement. But its proponents are clearly learning from and feeding off of one another." From Eurasia to Africa to the Middle East, the promising wave of democratization of only a few years ago appears to have lost momentum while the authoritarian capitalists have mobilized.

The alignment between the Beijing Consensus and the Kremlin's sovereign democracy produces several significant implications for foreign policy and international relations. First, there is not just one correct path to development. A country must innovate and experiment to find the path best suited to its cultures and traditions, and no country or organization should seek to impose external models. The majority of Russians today view the advice of Western advisors and multilateral organizations as a failure that exacerbated Russia's socioeconomic problems. The typical Chinese interpretation of Russian development over the past 15 years suggests that Moscow took the wrong path in the 1990s, but that the Putin Administration has learned many things from the Chinese reform experience and has begun to correct those past mistakes that devolved too much power from the state.

The other similarity between Moscow's and Beijing's views of the world concerns the ongoing shifting balance of power away from the unipolar moment of the 1990s to a genuinely multipolar world. This rhetoric is not new, but the difference today is that there is a lot more evidence to support the conclusion that the global balance of power is shifting, and the Russians feel themselves to be one of the emerging powers. For several years now the financial and investment community has used the term BRIC to describe the large emerging economic world powers: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Putin himself recently alluded to the emergence of the BRIC as a powerful stimulus towards a reordered multipolar world in his speech at the Munich Security Conference in February 2007: "The combined GDP measured in purchasing power parity of countries such as India and China is already greater than that of the United States. And a similar calculation with the GDP of the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China—surpasses the cumulative GDP of the EU. And according to experts, this gap will only increase in the future. There is no reason to doubt that the economic potential of the new centers of global economic growth will inevitably be converted into political influence and will strengthen multipolarity."

Ethan S. Burger, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, Scholar-in-Residence, School of International Service, American University, Washington, D.C.

While in the short term, the Russian and Chinese economic models appear to be succeeding, both countries' futures depend on their ability to evolve both economically and politically, including not pursuing foreign and military policies that alienate potential customers and suppliers.

Russia is a raw materials exporter. If the price for energy were low, Russia would be suffering extreme economic problems. It must not be overlooked that it was during the first two years of President Vladimir Putin's rule that the country progressed the most – when he was operating in large part with holdovers from the Yeltsin era. Moscow and St. Petersburg are not representative of Russia. Its industry is not competitive. The vast majority of the wealth in the country is in the hands of relatively few individuals. It has a political system based on personalities, not political parties; the transition to a situation that is really stable is a long way off.

Far more important than its macro-economic data are its quality of life figures. While there have been small gains in this area, a huge amount remains to be done. The country has major demographic, environmental and health problems. If well-being is measured by quality of life, Russians are not doing well. One highlight worth noting, however, is Putin's call for a $1-trillion infrastructure program. If successful, the concerns expressed above may not be as severe as they presently appear.

China is a country of contrasts. Beijing and Shanghai are certainly impressive, but the bulk of the Chinese population lives in the rural part of the country and has not benefited from the country's recent successes. China depends on exports for its income rather than a domestic market. There is global concern about the health and safety of Chinese goods. Will Western industrial companies feel confident using Chinese-produced goods as inputs for industrial products as a means to stay competitive in today's global market?

China received a large share of its foreign investment due to low labor costs, which is partially the result of an undervalued currency. Yet China faces greater competition from other low wage countries such as Vietnam. It also suffers from significant demographic and environmental problems. As a communist country, its regulatory bodies are incapable of regulating state controlled industries and those controlled by persons with ties to the leadership.

Charles Edward Lindblom's Politics and Markets: The World's Political Economic System is as true today as it was more than 25 years ago. Both Russia and China can develop up to a certain level, but without good long-range economic policies and political reform, they are bound to fail. Both countries need not be liberal democracies or even functioning democracies in order to succeed economically. Nonetheless, neither state will fulfill its potential without meeting the needs of its people, respecting international human and labor rights, and establishing a real rule of law in the country. At a minimum, greater predictability is needed in order to ensure continued investment and prevent capital flight. For example, Gazprom should not only be investing in its own operations, but also acquiring assets abroad.

Both countries need to strengthen their own education systems and also offer their most talented individuals, who are not necessarily its most wealthy (most of the wealthy having gained their wealth through connections rather than ingenuity), an incentive to remain in the country. Hosting the Olympics is no measure of future success.

Andrei Tsygankov, Professor of Political Science, San Francisco State University, San Francisco

What Freedom House doesn't know or doesn't want to know about democracy is that it cannot function without proper economic and security conditions in place. These conditions include a strong middle class and an environment relatively free from threats. In the absence of these conditions, an authoritiarian regime will not progress to democracy, and a democracy will be vulnerable to left or right wing demagogues. Time and again, the world demonstrates how even well-established democratic systems, such as the United States, fall short of democratic standards when threatened by terrorism.

Should we be surprised that countries like Russia and China have other things to worry about than democracy? Russia lacks both security and a middle class, and the memory of the "democracy" of the 1990s is still fresh in people's mind. China has fewer issues with security – apart from its continuous problems with Taiwan – but is under far more serious pressure to provide decent living standards for its huge population. In addition, both Russia and China are civilizations, rather than merely states, and therefore need to formulate civilizational ideas in order to be genuinely successful in their economic and political development. Those who insist that there are no Russian or Chinese models of democracy are correct. However, there are special Russian and Chinese cultural conditions, and they dictate that there must be special models of adaptation to democracy.

Unfortunately, not infrequently, democracy and human rights are no more than a rhetorical tool of exerting pressures on non-compliant states. Upon closer scrutiny, democratizers turn out to be the same people who wish to weaken, not strengthen, Russia and China's economic and security conditions. They have already done their share of destroying Russia's economy and middle class by recommending that Moscow adopt standards of neoliberalism. They have also promoted independence for Chechnya and Taiwan, and they used every opportunity to castigate Moscow and Beijing for brutal human rights violations. Today they say that Russia doesn't have to worry about being surrounded by NATO bases and anti-ballistic missiles, as long as these are deployed on territories of democratic states. Clearly,

this kind of democracy promotion is in trouble, as neither Russia nor China is eager to buy the "democratic" advice.

Eugene Kolesnikov, Private Consultant, the Netherlands

In his article 'The Return of Authoritarian Great Powers," recently published in Foreign Affairs, Azar Gat posed the question whether authoritarian capitalism can lead to retreat of liberal democracy in the world or even to formation of a "second world" of authoritarian capitalist powers. Unlike Freedom House, which just repeated his thesis on the rise of authoritarian capitalism and quipped about Russia's and China's authoritarian rules, Gat was more cautious in his analysis. He admitted "liberal democracy's supposedly inherent economic advantage is far less clear than is often assumed," and "authoritarian capitalist regimes are at least as successful—if not more so—in the early stages of development, but they tend to democratize after crossing a certain threshold of economic and social development."

Putting aside politically motivated labeling of Russia as an authoritarian capitalist power and presenting it as belonging to the same league as China, we should look into the main driving force behind the phenomenon of authoritarian capitalism, considered, however, in a broader sense of the decisive role of the state in economic and social development.

This driving force, as tension between electric poles, is created by the imperative to catch up with the West in the areas of economic development and modernization. If the economic and modernization gap between, for example, Russia and the West was not so significant, Russia could afford to rely on self-organizing mechanisms of liberal democracy and the free market. But this is not the case. Catch-up modernization necessitates implementation of mobilization strategies, which is impossible without the state playing a strong role. Such strategies were successfully implemented by South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and some other countries. Russia and China are pursuing the same inevitable approach.

Liberalization and democratization will progress as the catch-up modernization progresses. In Russia, this relationship is more or less straightforward. It would not be surprising if in 15-20 years Russia becomes the model of democracy and morally restrained liberalism. The Chinese case, however, is much more complicated. Uncontrolled democratization in China may lead to collapse and chaos. Avoiding such an outcome is as important a priority for the Chinese regime as modernization itself. Success of the catch-up modernization in purportedly democratic India is far from assured, given the tremendous and quite explosive structural and societal issues it faces.

There is no example of successful catch-up modernization without a strong state role or massive external help. Even the revival of Western Europe after World War II was based on the mechanisms of significant state intervention and extensive Marshall Plan aid. Russia and China cannot count on massive external aid, so they have to rely on state mobilization strategies.

It is very disconcerting that Freedom House, which traditionally articulates the opinion of the U.S. State Department, is missing the key point in the debate about authoritarian capitalism—what drives it. This means that the most influential country in the world remains in the grip of ideological constructs and refuses to face real global challenges.

Ira Strauss, US Coordinator, Committee on Russia in NATO

It is disappointing to see, from the question, how even some of the most reasonable Russian foreign policy writers tend to define themselves and their country by way of polemic with Western authorities or quasi-authorities, in this case Freedom House. And to half-embrace the very polemic against Russia, one that lumps Russia together with China, as long as it serves to make Russia feel strong and successful vis-à-vis its great enemy Freedom House.

Freedom House's comment amounts to boosting Russia as a major enemy of world freedom; not a pigeonhole that Russia would presumably want for itself. The willingness to embrace this can only suggest a wish among Russians for being attributed a greatness of any kind, no matter how prone to bring hostility down upon Russia or damage upon its interests.

Similarly, the question accepts Freedom House's designation of the Putin regime as authoritarian. I have to wonder if this is possible only because it sneaks through in a context of saying that Russia is a major power and a kind of successful model, even if a negative one.

No less significant is the attempt to dismiss valid criticisms of Russian and Chinese irresponsibility in international affairs by pointing to wrong and irresponsible U.S. actions. This is not significant logically, to be sure. It does however have a psychological significance, as a part of the emerging Russian national spirit of complaining whenever there is any criticism of Russia for anything about being treated unfairly by the United States and accusing the West of double standards. There are three things that can be said to bring us back to elementary Aristotelian logic.

First, that Freedom House's criticisms of Russia are fair and pretty accurate, and the substance of them is important.

Second, Freedom House is not the United States. Americans are free to speak; so is the U.S. government. It does not exactly create conditions for good faith discussion to suggest they should shut up because the U.S. government has done some things wrong.

Third, bad American policies do not justify bad Russian policies, nor excuse Russian policies when they are not merely bad but motivated in a noticeable degree by malice, nor deprive Americans of a right to criticize those policies.

Russians criticize American policies all the time. It is time for them to accept that it goes both ways. People all around the world criticize both countries and rightly so; the policies of any major power affect everyone. Russians deserve no exemption. It is taken for granted that American policy will be criticized, no matter what the policy is. It is time for Russians to grow some thicker skin and stop complaining when they are criticized far more mildly.

There is not a Russia-China model, they have followed opposite paths away from communism. China, while gradually introducing economic pragmatism, has retained a Communist Party dictatorship, excluding the formation of other parties, massively censoring the media, and retaining political and religious repression on a scale several orders of magnitude higher than Russia.

Russia sent the Communist Party out of power and abolished the entire Communist political system. It has recently reverted toward hegemonial rule from the Kremlin and a one-party hegemonial system that it hoped would be like the Japanese model, but has ended up at this stage more like the Mexican one. This is simply not a thought-out authoritarian exit from communism. It is a reaction that needs to be considered in a different context.

Both countries are still in a political transition that is rapid in historical terms, although of course not as fast in Russia today as it had been in 1989-91.

There has been a scandalous lack of scientific method in comparisons of "models". For 15 years "the Chinese model" has been a synonym for equating authoritarianism with successful reform. But what is "the Chinese model"? Equally unscientific has been the comparison of the gradualism and economic reform first of "the Chinese model" to Russia with its political democracy first and subsequent "shock therapy." Which period in Russia should be examined: the Kosygin period, which was one precisely of gradualism and economic reform first, and which hit a dead end due largely to the lack of political reform? Or the Gorbachev period, which was also gradual but not economic? Or only Yeltsin? And why compare only Russia and China? There seems to be no reason except a desire to reach a foreordained pro-authoritarian conclusion. That conclusion could not be sustained if the comparative effort were even marginally scientific.

Russians long ago figured out that the Chinese model wouldn't work for them because, as the joke went, "we don't have enough Chinese." The same goes for the Japanese model of consensus democracy: not enough Japanese.

Russia is Russia: European, Slavic and Christian. Its development and its stable system, if it ever arrives at one, will be a variant of European models ones, with all the inherent intellectual pluralism that derives from a millennium of participation in European cultural development, coupled with elements held in common with other post-communist states. If that happens, it will finally be possible to say what model it is, or adheres to. Until then, we are talking only trends and developments, and - sadly - misplaced pride.

Andrei Lebedev, Senior Associate, the State Club Foundation, Moscow

The "Russian model," to be fair, is hardly devoted to private property – the cornerstone of the market economy. The latest examples are the "Olympic corporation" bill, now being passed by the State Duma, and the growing number of mammoth state corporations.

The Olympic corporation bill provides for unconditional requisitioning of real estate in case of "state necessity." Such requisition would be irrevocable and not even subject to appeal in court. This is hardly a market measure.

State corporations swiftly become as fashionable in Russia as they have become in other countries – both in liberal and not-so-liberal democracies. The catch is that state corporations are neither state nor private. The state gives them the right to use property, thus stripping itself of the main features of the property holder: the right to possession, use and disposal. The managers of state corporations become quasi-oligarchs, devoid of the need to compete and to prove market effectiveness, but subject to the political will of the state. In other words, state corporations are an ideal economic base for the vertical of power.

Neither liberal democracy nor market economy, the Russian model is a tool designed to safeguard and promote state interests, both inside the country and abroad. Of course it is vastly different from the Western model, though claims close kinship with it. The two models are not hostile; they compete.

This reminds me of "peaceful coexistence and competition of the two systems" – a popular slogan of Soviet propaganda. In this sense, the two models are compatible all right. More than that, the more centralized Russian model may happen to be more powerful, at least initially. But that depends.

Russia's economic model is at an important crossroads now. If private property survives, the model will be qualified to compete. If state corporations abound and the Olympic bill passes and is used unscrupulously, incentives for economic effectiveness might be lost. That's what ruined the Soviet economy eventually.

Stephen Blank, The U.S. Army War College, Carlyle Barracks, PA

(Dr. Blank's views as contributed to Russia Profile do not represent the position of the U.S. Army, Defense Department or the U.S. Government)

I would challenge the notion that Russia presents much of a model to anyone whereas China does, following in the footsteps of Japan and the Asian tigers. Ukraine and Georgia are not suffering from low growth – quite the opposite. Indeed, relative to other members of the CIS, Russia's growth is lower, which does not say much for the model. Moreover, two other factors are relevant here. First, Russia's growth is largely founded on energy. While foreign portfolio investment has taken off and the domestic market is growing due to industrial production rising to meet rising demand, Russian goods are still not competitive abroad as opposed to China. Second, Russia is not a capitalist state. The rights of private property and of contracts are not ensured and the presence of high-ranking government officials as CEOs and CFOs in key state-controlled firms, whose number is growing as state controls spread, reveals that we have here merely an updating of the tsarist paradigm established in Muscovy, renovated and intensified by Lenin and Stalin, and now regenerated in less intense, late imperial form by Putin. Neither of these models provided stability, and when the terms of trade turned against commodities like grain or oil the country was adversely affected. Moreover, the Soviet model, with its decreasing returns to investment and excessive military burden (another factor that appears to be growing and if the military had its way would grow still more) undermined the system from within. Authoritarianism might be a "political model" for other states, but close examination of their political economy will suggest that Russia is not a model for anyone, but rather a regeneration of a past model.

Eric Kraus, Managing Director, Anyatta Capital, advisor to the Nikitsky Russia/CIS Opportunities Fund

As the sun sets on America's Cold War empire, it is hardly surprising that it should lash out at those countries that have chosen not to fight the United States, but rather - the supreme insult – to ignore its lessons. That these countries now enjoy surging growth rates as the United States slips into recession simply adds insult to injury.

The Western propaganda machine – from The Economist to Neocon think-tanks – remains in a glibly self-congratulatory mode, apparently unaware that the West's monopoly on the global mind-space is being increasingly eroded by new voices and new technologies. They are in danger of becoming a legend in their own minds.

Before defending the Asian dirigiste model as it is being applied in Russia – a model which, in its various formulations, has been applied by all of those countries that have gone from deeply impoverished traditional agrarian societies to industrial powerhouses in a single generation (first Japan, then Korea and Taiwan, then the post-Communist regimes of China and Vietnam) we must first examine the results of the Washington model where it has been applied almost totally free from external influence – Latin America.

By the middle of the 20th Century, the "free-market" capitalist ideology had been adopted almost universally throughout the Americas, with the exception of Cuba. Occasional deviations from that model were quickly crushed by the CIA, which variously put an end to leftist experiments in Argentina, Chile, El Salvador and Nicaragua, among others.

And yet Latin America is a region of the world, where one-half of the population still lives in dire poverty. Central American human development statistics range from the mediocre to the truly disastrous thanks to extreme social inequality. Economic growth has been painfully slow and badly distributed; the region severely lags behind Asia. And not only is political dissent muzzled, but in the worst cases, such as Guatemala, human rights abuses exceed even the miseries visited upon the unfortunate Burmese or Tibetans.

Strikingly, this failure has never shaken the faith of the courtesans of U.S. economic power – Freedom House serves its masters – the U.S. corporate sector and its political wing in Washington. The slaughter of Guatemalan Indians or Mexican students in no way imperils the role of the United States as the dominant global power.

Of course, citing the United States as an example of liberal democracy invites ridicule, and indeed, the Iraqi debacle undermines any international legitimacy that U.S. foreign policy may have once had. But that is not the point – the United States is neither better nor worse than its predecessors; every empire develops its own justification: the White Man's Burden, God's Word, the Master Race, Liberal Democracy…and in every case, as the empire crumbles, its ideology fades.

That the developing world is increasingly turning away from – not "turning against" – the West is to be expected. Russia gave the Washington model a try in the 1990s and the resulting disaster nearly doomed the country as a unitary state. Russia is most unlikely to repeat the experiment. Although a recent issue of the International Herald Tribune featured no fewer than eight negative stories about China, China is soundly thrashing the West at its own game.

There can be no reasonable argument that some variant on economic liberalism – from New Zealand-style laissez-faire to European Social Democracy – has been most successful in the industrialized countries. They will thus continue to refine its application, and will be joined by new recruits as selected emerging economies finally emerge. But as an export commodity to the developing nations, economic liberalism has proved a wretched failure.

A unipolar world is inherently unsustainable. As the center of global growth shifts away from the G7 towards the new economic powers, the global political architecture will surely reflect a new dynamic.

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