opportunism, but rather a logical deduction based on the global "stay at home" we must prepare for the future. prescription. I thought a renewed sense of urgency I anticipated that governments would around viral outbreaks and public health move swiftly to eliminate homelessness, would ignite bold determination to end not because of a new regard for the dignity homelessness and forced evictions, of people living in homelessness or upgrade informal settlements, increase recognition of their rights, but because tenant protections financial againstunaffordabilityglobalinstitutionalhave actors that in the face of a virus that spreads exponentially and eviction, and regulate and that causes death, governments know that one person living in the wreaked havoc on the housing sector street who is exposed to the virus could since the global financial crisis. put an entire nation at risk. Six months into this nightmare, not I assumed that in keeping with human only has the housing crisis and its effects rights law, those living in informal settlements not been effectively tackled, they may (or "slums") would finally be provided have become more pronounced, while with access to adequate water, revitalised plans to address the housing sanitation, isolation facilities and other crisis have been scant. changes that would be necessary to meet In Canada, still one of the wealthiest the "wash your hands" requirement and countries in the world, there has been a address other hygiene-related matters. I proliferation of homeless encampments also imagined that residents of informal - in part as a result of limitations on the settlements would finally be afforded numbers of spaces in shelters to ensure some security, no longer threatened with conformity People with living social in homelessness distancingpolicies.also forced eviction; after all, forced eviction results in homelessness which then fear COVID-19 outbreaks in shelters and increases the risk of the spread of the other congregate settings they have been virus. offered, preferring instead the space and I was sure that governments would safety of pitching a tent in the outdoors. impose adequate protections for those In India, one of the countries hardest living in rental accommodation and hit by the pandemic, forced evictions of experiencing economic hardship so that Indigenous communities, as well as no matter their financial position they thousands of people living in informal could remain in their own homes and settlements housing, without have provision been reported ofalternativein out of harm's way for the duration of the pandemic. Gurugram, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, I was certain that governments would and Delhi, in July alone. take the necessary steps to ensure that In the that United approximately States, estimatesindicateof 40 percent the ongoing legacy of the 2008 global financial crisis - the invasion of residential renter households rental shortfalls, are at with risk 12 ofexperiencing million real estate by institutional investors and the unaffordability of rental housing potentially facing eviction within the - would not be exacerbated or repeat next four months, particularly once itself. moratoriums on evictions are lifted. And I assumed that what would begin Meanwhile, private equity firms and as emergency measures would translate other at to institutional the do once what in they a investors generationopportunitymakea do best aresalivating - into the drafting of longer-term housing strategies aimed at fixing the causes and effects of the housing crisis, again not as profit - boasting access to trillions of "dry a matter of human rights obligations, powder" for new acquisitions. Without but on the understanding that pandemics are no longer one-off events, so any sign of government restraint, they was understood as a global and deadly threat, there was a singular prescription promulgated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and governments around the world: stay home, wash your hands, and keep a physical distance from others. As former UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing and an advocate in the area of housing for decades, the implications of this guidance to me were clear - and almost hopeful. If protecting against further spread required a home, a shelter to isolate in, access to sanitation, then, intentionally or not, the WHO was prescribing access to adequate housing. Housing was clearly a requirement for the world to stay safe and effectively address the pandemic. Access to adequate housing would reduce infection rates and ensure that healthcare systems would not be overwhelmed. In other words, home and hospitals have been put forward as equally necessary to preserving life. With this unambiguous position adopted by governments, I was certain we would see the global housing crisis tackled with the urgency that is in fact warranted when a human right is violated en masse. This was not utopian loans can be repaid over the course of six years. Taking a longer-term view, the government of Costa Rica enshrined the human right to water and sanitation in their constitution in June, explicitly recognising the connection between human rights and the virus. While such measures are not insignificant, a global scan indicates they are far too few. While governments may not be quick to embrace housing as a human right or admit there is a housing crisis that requires a new approach, the devastation wreaked by this pandemic has surely strengthened their resolve to be better protected against any future pandemic threats. If that is the case, ensuring access to adequate, affordable and secure housing is both prevention and prescription. Maybe once governments commit to that, they will be bold enough to call those measures what they are: the implementation of the right to housing. are eyeing distressed residential real estate assets, including multifamily rental apartments, which can perform well, even in economic hard times. This is not to say that governments have not responded at all with measures to address homelessness and protect residents of informal settlements and tenants. At the onset of the pandemic, the UK government swiftly provided 5,400 street homeless with hotel rooms and other accommodation and have promised the provision of 3,300 long-term housing units with social supports within 12 months. In fact, the use of hotel rooms as emergency accommodation for homeless people was instituted in a number of places, including the US state of California, France, and parts of Canada. Spain, like many other countries, implemented a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic and is also providing microloans to low-income tenants or those who have suffered job loss to assist them in making rental payments. The China signed an economic co-operation pact as Moscow became disenchanted with the West following the reaction to its annexation of Crimea. That year, the two countries signed up to a currency swap deal which allowed them to use each other’s currencies without having to buy it (in dollars) on foreign exchange markets. But since 2016, China — feeling the brunt of Trump tariffs as part of his trade confrontation — has found an increasingly strong common interest with Russia. The swap deal was extended in 2017 and is up for renewal this year. It looks pretty certain it will be renewed and enlarged. In 2019, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Moscow, he signed an agreement with the Russians to carry out their trade without use of the dollar, and began to co-operate on ways to sidestep the SWIFT payments system by developing their own alternative to the dollar-dominated network. It is not just the use of tariffs and sanctions that has increasingly bugged China. Its resentment has been further stirred — as was Russia’s — by the fact that the US used its command of the dollar markets to punish individuals and corporations for what were regarded as political reasons. Because of the dominant position of the dollar in the world, all international transactions at some stage have to go through US banking authorities. The Americans were using this fact to close bank accounts and blacklist businessmen and corporations they did not like. Russia and China decided there was no way the US Federal Reserve should be involved in the financing of a shipment of goods across Siberia, and you can see their point. For the time being, the greenback will live with being cold shouldered in Moscow and Beijing. Trade between Russia and China is growing but is still not that big in global macro terms to make much difference to the dollar’s standing. But if others join in, the effect could snowball. Most European governments do not have much time for Trump and might seek to capitalize on dollar difficulties to improve the international standing of the euro. From time to time, there have been grumblings in the Middle East about the pricing of the global oil market in US dollars, but it seemed too much trouble, and possibly upsetting to their American allies, for any policymakers in the region to attempt a serious alternative market. Despite the Russia-China financial pact, there is as yet no concerted global campaign to get rid of the dollar — just an increasing wariness about dealing with an unpredictable president who uses the currency as a weapon. in the coming US presidential election, it looks as though one enduring legacy of the Trump era will be the decline of the dollar as the world’s chosen currency for trade. If Democratic candidate Joe Biden wins — as the polls indicate is increasingly likely — the decline of the oncemighty greenback may slow a little, but if President Donald Trump is victorious it will accelerate. Either way the damage has been done to the world’s favorite currency. This is not to say that the dollar will cease to be the unofficial reserve currency, nor that many countries — including most of the Arabian Gulf states — will continue to find good reasons for pegging their currencies to the dollar. Nor is it any judgement of the value of the currency, which has been depreciating gently against most others for the past few months though not fast enough to cause any great alarm. But the big trading powers of the world — China, Japan, India, and Russia in particular — will increasingly find other financial conduits through percent for the first time ever. Only 46 percent of trade was settled in the US currency, with the euro rising to an all-time high of 30 percent and Russian and Chinese currencies at a record 24 percent. In 2015, 90 percent of trade between them was settled in US dollars, Nikkei found. The decline began in 2014, before Trump was elected, when Russia and which to do their business. The process has started already. The respected Japanese journal the Nikkei Asia Review recently published a study based on an analysis of records from the Russia central bank and customs authorities which found that, in the first quarter of this year, the amount of trade between Russia and China paid for in dollars fell to below 50 AMERICA'S AGGRESSIONS Empire, the eminent American historian Andrew Bacevich has put forward his argument as to why he believes "the sun has set on the American empire". As a cogent critic of American imperialism, Bacevich's surgically precise and honest conclusion is now corroborated by the massive uprising against structural poverty and endemic racism setting the streets of major urban areas on fire from coast to coast. "The era of US dominion has now passed," Bacevich observes, "So Americans can no longer afford to indulge in the fiction of their indispensability, cherished in elite circles [...] Subordinating the wellbeing of the American people to ostensible imperatives of global leadership - thereby allowing racism, inequality and other problems to fester at home - has become intolerable." What Bacevich outlines in this crucial essay is a constellation of facts - of racism and poverty at home and pathetic and dysfunctional attempts at world domination - that much of the world and in fact, most Americans themselves have known, but which today, during the presidency of Donald Trump and this criminally negligent handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been thrown into stark relief. Was this America ever a leader or just a bully? Did it ever have the moral authority to shepherd a terrorised Earth? Between Fukuyama's pompous and absurd prognostication and Bacevich's bold and brilliant insights, we may now wonder when did America begin and where is it wending. What happened to the American Century? America as an experiment is failing. Perhaps it was destined to fail from its very beginning. An idea that began with the genocide of Native Americans, thrived on the sustained course of African slavery, extended its genocidal and racist foregrounding to generations of immigrants who came to its shores to toil and suffer so that the white supremacist settler colonists prosper and enrich generations after generations, had to pay for its continued sins at some point. That America is failing is not a new idea or a recent discovery. It is just that over the last three years, in the course of Trump's presidency, this fact has become glaringly clear for the whole world to see. This particular president has exposed not merely his own personal vulgarity and criminal charlatanism, but also, far more importantly, the selfdestructive forces that have shaped and defined this country long before he assumed office. The viral racism to which Trump caters, and to which millions of Americans respond favourably, and which is the undoing of America, arrived in America from Europe like all other diseases the settler-colonialists brought with them. Every country and every clime has its own peculiar political disease. Egypt has given birth to el-Sisi, Russia to Putin, China to Xi, India to Modi, Brazil to Bolsonaro, Myanmar to Aung San Suu Kyi, Iran to Khamenei, Syria to Assad, ad nauseam. But the point here is the mighty and powerful US and its particular brand of imperial corruption and hubris marking its final dissolution into nullity. The open discussions about the end of the American experiment, of course, predate Trump. David S Mason's The End of the American Century (2009) is a typical example of such analysis in which we read about the various interrelated phases of social, economic and global unravelling of the US that had begun with World War II. In his essay, The End of the American Century (2019) George Packer considers the span of the to be mourned. American diplomat Richard Holbrooke's The world after the American empire life (1941-2010) as the period of the A mere 20 years ago the cleanshaven height of American empire, after which neoconservative gangsters thought they things began to fall apart. were about to rule the world. Three years Meanwhile, the delusional imperialists into the Trump presidency, amiddisastrous at the political core of the US were busy public health failures that have thinking otherwise. The Project for the exposed millions of Americans to a New American Century (PNAC) was a deadly pandemic, the very economic and neoconservative scheme based in human foundation of their republic is Washington, DC in the late 1990s triumphantly going to pieces. Massive social protest declaring the victory of USled aims at an irrevocable dismantling of neoconservative and neoliberal projects, American racism. Streets of Oregon, promoting, as they put it, Seattle, Oakland, Chicago and New York "American global leadership". Led by look like scenes from a military coup in William Kristol and Robert Kagan, all Guatemala or Chile. Meanwhile, like a those PNAC characters today look positively tinpot dictator American racism made ridiculous in their delusions. us believe could only emerge in Asia, Most of them staunch Zionists, they Africa or Latin America, the USpresident had translated the pathological colonial is dismantling the US postal system interests of Israel into US foreign policy to be able to cheat and get himselfreelected. and called it "a new American century!". Before they were all exposed for their America's aggressions, brutalmilitarism, pitiful banality, they had convinced and disregard for people'sdemocratic George W Bush and Dick Cheney of their will around the globe have now prophetic missions. They destroyed an come full circle and boomeranged into entire country, Iraq, with criminal its domestic affairs. With Trump and his intent, propagating their delusional Republican followers "kneecapping" the myth of "American leadership". post office, as former President Obama Today, there are sober Americans like put it, to suppress votes and guarantee Martin Kaplan who in his 2017 essay the president's re-election, the US is now Trump and the End of the American en route to an election as ridiculous as Century mourns the decline of US leadership, the ones we have witnessed in Syria, denounces Trump, and then concludes: Egypt or even Iran in the past. "We all must respond to the The post-American world willparadoxically unexpected and depressing challenge of liberate America from its own the United States forsaking its historical dangerous delusions and bring democratic and human rights leadership, American people back to the bosom of both internationally and within the humanity at large. America will only be United States." But what leadership, the liberated when it comes to terms with its rest of the world may wonder, when, irredeemable racist history and dismantles how? all its racist institutions. And the The ruling caste of the US - from its coast to coast uprising we are witnessing slave owner founding fathers to its current today is aiming to do just that: to retrieve president - have been the unqualified the repressed republican aspirations of source of misery inside and outside the best of Americans and use them to of the country. The ending of the calamitous dismantle the imperial arrogance of the delusion of that history is not something worst. AROUND THE GLOBE HAVE NOW COME FULL CIRCLE AND BOOMERANGED INTO ITS DOMESTIC AFFAIRS experiment failed and ended? Are we on the cusp of a post-American world? In the late 1980s, Francis Fukuyama, a bureaucratic functionary at the US Department of State, had declared, with much pomp and ceremony, that "history" had ended and America was the triumphant trophy of liberal democracy. Had he inadvertently played a satirical spoof to the end of American history itself? A mere quarter of a century later, with Donald Trump leading the United States in one calamity after another, people have begun speculating the very end of America. While North American and Western European observers are deeply concerned about the end of the American empire, the rest of the world oscillates between a sigh of relief at the prospect and a sense of wonder and amusement as to what exactly this "ending" means. Will it be with a big bang or just a pathetic whimper? And while we are at it, when, prithee do tell, did this "leadership of the free world" begin, for it now to end, except with brute military might and a constellation of military bases around the globe to exercise it? In a thoughtful recent essay, End of National Herald Tribune, Friday, August 21, 2020
© PressReader. All rights reserved.