The New York Report

The shutdown's cost for US, the agreement between Washington and Seoul, the new World Bank President

Capitol Hill, Washington, US. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Contrast
Capitol Hill, Washington, US. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Contrast

LEBANON - The new Hariri government has the US worried

The United States have expressed concern over the new Lebanese government. In the 2018 May elections, the Hezbollah and its allies, including the Christians of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and the Shiite party Amal, obtained the majority of seats and the contribution of Party of God in the formation of the third government led by Saad Hariri was decisive. There are three new ministers with ties to the Shiite party: Health, Parliamentary Affairs and Youth and Sport. The most worrying factor is the role of Jamil Jabak, the Minister for Health, whose department has the fourth highest budget of the entire state apparatus. "We ask that the new government guarantee that these ministries resources and services do not provide support for Hezbollah", were the words of Robert Palladino, spokesperson for the State Department. The United States have officially labelled the Party of God a terrorist organisation.

Vote: 8 to Saad Hariri, who is swimming in very dangerous waters, with very unreliable neighbours…

US - The shotdown's cost

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal agency responsible for providing Congress with economic analyses, the five week shutdown cost the United States' economy close to 11 billion dollars, of which $ 3 billion are probably lost forever. The shutdown, as foreseen by the Antideficiency Act, comes into force when Congress is unable to reach an agreement on departmental budgets. Its implementation calls for a stop of all non-essential government activities. The partial block of government activities, including nine ministries and a dozen federal agencies, began on 22 December, after the democrats vetoed Trump's proposal to include funds for 5.6 billion dollars to build a barrier between Mexico and the United States. It caused America's GDP in the fourth quarter of 2018 to drop by $ 3 billion and by over $ 8 billion in the first quarter of 2019.

Vote: 3 to Trump. This Wall caper is a farce

SOUTH KOREA - US contingent: agreement reached

After 10 meetings, the United States and South Korea have found a general agreement on the expenses that shall have to be incurred to keep the American contingent in the Asian country. The five year agreement on funding, related to the continued presence of 28,500 American soldiers on the peninsula, had expired in December. The Korean contribution will increase from 800 million to 1 billion dollars, even though the American administration was hoping to get double the previous amount. President Donald Trump stated in an interview on CBS that there are no plans to withdraw United States' troops from South Korea, even after the agreement with North Korea. In 2018, the United States has considerably cut back the number of joint exercises with South Korea, claiming they were too expensive, while North Korea has always considered these manoeuvres as a threat to its national security.

Vote: 7 to the US and its policies for the two Koreas and the first time it's acted as a responsible superpower

CHINA - US doesn’t fancy that aerial in Argentina

The worldwide competition between China and the United States has opened up a new battleground: Argentina. In an extensive interview before Congress on 7 February, Admiral Craig Faller, the commander of the U.S. Southern Command, reported to legislators on China's ever increasing penetration into Latin America. Beijing not only supports the autocratic regimes in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, but is also investing in key military infrastructure in the area. The specific reference in this case is the radar base set up by the Chinese in the vast expanses of Patagonia. US intelligence officials are monitoring the development of this facility with growing concern. An extremely powerful 16 storey aerial has been built in a 500 acre complex in the Neuquén province. According to the Americans, the station, in operation since April 2018, is not subject to effective supervision by the Argentinian authorities while Beijing counters that the radar's only purpose is to contribute to one of the most innovative and daring space programs in history: the conquest of the far side of the Moon.

Vote: 8 to China and Argentina if they manage to explore the Moon

US - A hawk for the World Bank

Trump has chosen David Malpass to head the World Bank. An economic advisor to the president during the presidential electoral campaign, Malpass is currently Undersecretary for the Treasury for Interational Affairs. The new appointee is known for having criticised the World Bank and the IMF on a number of occasions, claiming that "multilateralism has gone too far". Ever since the World Bank was first founded, the President has always been American, while the Head of the International Monetary Fund has always been European.

Vote: 6 to Malpass as encouragement. When one heads an institution, one always tends to make it work

@ilarias

This article is also published in the March/April issue of eastwest.

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