Thursday, July 18, 2024

Call for Papers: Grey Zone Conflict in Africa: The 21st Century's Battlefield of Global Power Competition


Pix Credit: T. Dobbs et al., Grey Zone

 I am delighted to pass along this Call For Papers: Grey Zone Conflict in Africa: The 21st Century's Battlefield of Global Power Competition. Thus important project is organized by It is organized by Capt (SAN) Dr Dries Putter [putter AT] and Prof Sascha Dov-Bachmann [Sascha.Bachmann AT]. They have provided a brief description of the project:

Africa as a current battleground for foreign influence by the global powers, with its diverse geopolitical landscape and complex security dynamics, presents a fertile ground for exploring grey zone conflicts. This call for papers seeks to compile scholarly contributions that deepen our understanding of grey zone conflicts in Africa. By examining case studies, theoretical frameworks, historical analyses, and empirical studies, this collection aims to shed light on the nature, dynamics, and implications of these conflicts within the African context.

The CfP may be accessed HERE. It includes a longer Concept Note.


The Sleeper Awakens: Text of Senator JD Vance's Remarks Delivered at the Munich Security Conference 18 February 2024 and Some Reflections


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It seems that the great awakening of the 21st century, unlike that of the American 18th century, appears to center on an apotheosis tied somehow to the state of being "woke." Of course, people in the 21st century appear to have been awakened in sometimes startling different ways.  Of course, every awakening is not merely inward, the achievement of a personal state of some sort of grace or enlightenment (depending on one's orientation culturally); it also compels spreading the "good news"--the gospel --to those who must awaken. When a speaker awakens, that speaker must speak: each must embrace as well--or so it appears to be in a set of constantly repeating cultural iterations since the revolution in Palestinian Judaism of the 1st Century of the Common Era--the role of evangel to spread the good news and awaken others.

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Mr. Vance also appears to have been embracing the role of evangelist for gōdspel (from the Old English gōd ‘good’ + spel ‘news). And what better place to awaken other sleepers to the good news of the coming re- or trans-valuation of all values (Umwertung aller Werte) than at the Munich Security Conference. There, on 18 February 2024 "Senator JD Vance (R-OH) delivered a “wake up call” to Europe." (Press Release and Transcript of Remarks). In it here awake to the successes, during his first term, of President's Trump Russia policy, and what it might mean both for the European security apparatus and the priorities of the United States.  

In the process he also provided an insight into the premises that shape those views and that judgment. These, in turn, are grounded in some sort of Manichaen dualist view of the world as composed of an infinite number of binaries that when aligned add up to zero. In particular, the view that productive capacity cannot grow but is merely shifted around to reflect priorities, is worth some considerable consideration. But more than that, the remarks suggest the semiotics of context--that is the way that values and premises about the world shape the possibilities and assessment of the possibilities within that self-referencing meaning-cube. As such, the premises, principles, and outlooks--the core assumptions that drive Mr. Vance's analysis, are not merely conceptually Manichaean but also in their application quite traditionally imperial in that way that this term itself has changed meaning and force (see essays here).

The application appears to have significant consequences for the ordering of US relations--especially with America's European friends and enemies.  Mr. Vance explains: 

“Now, on the question of European security, I think there’s a fundamental issue here that Europe really has to wake up to. And I offer this in the spirit of friendship, not in the spirit of criticism, because, no, I don’t think that we should pull out of NATO, and no, I don’t think that we should abandon Europe. But yes, I think that we should pivot. The United States has to focus more on East Asia. That is going to be the future of American foreign policy for the next 40 years, and Europe has to wake up to that fact."(Press Release and Transcript of Remarks).

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In that context, Mr. Vance suggests, “we need our European allies to step up in Europe."  (Ibid.). Fair enough--American leaders since Mr. Kennedy in the early 1960s have complained, sometimes bitterly about European free riding--with the added bonus of having to listen to European moralizing. On the other hand, that is precisely the cultural baseline for imperial behaviors among an overlord and their barons.  And it is perfectly fair to change the equation as conditions on the ground change. The question that ought to be asked, and the answers debated, touches on the end point of these revisions. Surely not an abandonment.  But with additional financial and other obligations may come a greater say in the shape and direction of the alliances that weave the Americans and Europeans together--even as the Americans embark with greater ferocity on their East Asian projects. The justification in terms of limited industrial capacity, though, makes little sense, especially given the history of the nation one state of which he represents.  Yet it is also true that, like foundations and other donors, the US cannot be expected to  have its generosity go unrewarded--one way or another.  And those are precisely the sensitive topics that have been avoided and that must be addressed.  Nonetheless, Mr. Vance's focus on scarcity is troubling--he appears to view scarcity as a barrier--it might be more useful for a n aspiring national leader to view it as a challenge. That, in turn, requires traveling further along the roadway to awakening on which Mr. Vance appears to be journeying.  

That journeying, in turn, may refine the nature and focus of the state of "woke" regarding Ukraine. Mr. Vance also purports to suggest that, with respect to Ukraine, he supposes (a supposition that might mask his own woken view) of the absence of an endpoint. Of course that, in turn, imposes a rejection of the endpoint that has been quite clear from the Ukrainian side--to recover all territory occupied by the Russian Federation and recover its damages (along with prosecution of criminal elements).  People might read into this some sort of willingness to negotiate away from the Ukrainian endpoint to something more agreeable to Ukraine's American benefactors.  And, indeed, Mr. Vance explains:

 “And my argument is, look, I think what’s reasonable to accomplish is some negotiated peace. I think Russia has incentive to come to the table right now. I think Ukraine, Europe, and the United States have incentive to come to the table. That is going to happen. This will end in a negotiated peace. The question is when it ends in a negotiated peace and what that looks like. (Press Release and Transcript of Remarks).

The problem is, that as it stands, Ukrainians might be forgiven for thinking they will not get much from the bargain. Security guarantees might have less value the paper it might, in another age, have been printed on. Certainly, neither the Americans nor the Europeans have put their money where their mouths are--NATO and EU membership--just the endless frustrating babbling among techno bureaucrats that might raise the fear among Ukrainians that they are to be treated to a variation of the EU dance around Turkish membership. And endless chatter about corruption from places that have themselves not quite overcome their own variations on that theme in the public and private sectors. If Mr. Vance is correct, and if this will become US policy, then it is likely that the terms of the deal, for the Ukrainians at least, will have to be considerably sweetened--and not just with the usual promises from the imperial center or its subalterns in Europe. On that, at least, there would be much work to be done beyond the discursive stances that have sufficed to date. Failure here would, within the conceptual universe of Mr Vance, considerably augment the challenges of scarcity about which his fretting has produced policy.That also is fair enough.

 Ordinarily that might not have made much of a difference to any but Mr. Vance. However, Mr. Vance now assumes the role of candidate for the Vice Presidency of the United States on the Republican ticket headed by Mr. Trump.

JD Vance introduced himself to a national audience Wednesday after being chosen as Donald Trump’s running mate, sharing the story of his hardscrabble upbringing and making the case that his party best understands the challenges facing struggling Americans.

Speaking to a packed arena at the Republican National Convention, the Ohio senator cast himself as fighter for a forgotten working class, making a direct appeal to the Rust Belt voters who helped drive Trump’s surprise 2016 victory and voicing their anger and frustration. (here)

 And because those remarks may serve to influence what might be the second term of Mr. Trump, should he be successful in his bid for office, it might make sense to revisit them and consider them more carefully for what they reveal.  And the importance of revelation is not so much in the application of policy but in the fundamental principles and world views that shape them. Mr. Vance, it seems, is a product of a process of awakening--the trajectories of his life (as he describes them in his book Hillbilly Elegy) suggest that the process of awakening is dynamic. For the moment though this appears to be the context of his current woken state. For Europeans, especially, there is much to consider.  And for Europeans (and especially Ukrainians), it may be necessary to meet this school of evangelism with their own.  Mr. Vance, we are told, is fond of Augustine of Hippo (his chosen patron saint); it may be necessary to remind him of the evangelical power of Paul. And that, eventually may require a council (like Nicaea) in which our woken magisterium might better align their expression of the good news that all, together, represent. 

The Remarks follow below.  They may be accessed in the original from Senator Vance's website here.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

知識無價 免費獲取 (Knowledge is Priceless and Available for Free): Open Books Hong Kong--Project to Release Chinese Academic Work Free and Open Access


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 I am delighted to pass along information about the joint effort of three Hong Kong Universities to begin to offer their published work free and open access through Open Books HK. The first batch of 9 books has just been made available.  The next batch is expected by the end of 2024. The website announcement explains the project:

知識無價  免費獲取

本先導計劃由香港中文大學、香港城市大學和香港大學三家高等教育院校的圖書館與出版社聯合發起,是香港首個開放取用(open access)圖書計劃。

本計劃將陸續推出三家大學出版社出版的中文學術著作,免費開放予公眾閱覽、下載、取用和傳播。 本計劃收入之圖書均經過匿名學術評審,並採用創用CC授權條款CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0。「知識無價,免費獲取。」我們希望透過此計劃,與世界分享香港出版的學術研究成果,推動學界積極參與全球知識開放運動,讓公眾受益。


 Knowledge is priceless and available for free

This pilot project is jointly launched by the libraries and publishing houses of three higher education institutions: the Chinese University of Hong Kong, City University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong. It is the first open access book project in Hong Kong.

This project will gradually release Chinese academic works published by three university presses, which will be free and open to the public for reading, downloading, access and dissemination. The books included in this project have undergone anonymous academic review and are licensed under the Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0. "Knowledge is priceless and available for free." Through this program, we hope to share the academic research results published in Hong Kong with the world, promote the academic community to actively participate in the global knowledge openness movement, and benefit the public.

More information follows below for those interested along with links to the initial release of nine books and FAQs (常見問題; in English and Chinese).



Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Chinese Journal of International Relations Special Issue: "Dialogue With the Chinese School of International Relations Theory" (Peng Lu, Xiao Ren, Toni Erskine, and Stefano Guzzini (eds))


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 I am delighted to pass along notice of the publication of a very interesting set of essays on an emerging school of Chinese International Relations.  It is edited by 

Our “Dialogue with the Chinese School of IR theory” is published by Chinese Journal of International Relations (CJIP). Papers from leading Chinese IR theorists (Qin Yaqing, Yan Xuetong, Shih Chi-yu and Ren Xiao) and Western theorists (Peter Katzenstein, Barry Buzan, Toni Erskine, Stefano Guzzini, Justin Rosenberg, Beate Jahn) are free for download. You may find these papers in CJIP Reader 2024

Links to the articles along with their abstracts follow below. 

Verfassungsblog: Pui-yin Lo, "The'“Hong Kong 47' Verdict: An Explainer"


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 Verfssungsblog recently published a most useful "explainer" on the 'Hong Kong 47 'verdicts. The Explainer was authored by my friend and colleague Dr. Pui-yin Lo, a barrister in private practice in Hong Kong and a part-time lecturer of the Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong. He explains his objectives in the opening paragraph to the essay:

Recently, the first court verdicts in the trial surrounding the “Hong Kong 47” were handed down. The trial is one of several political trials that are underway in Hong Kong (HK), a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). These trials are political partly because the accused are political figures involved in the 2019 civil unrest, partly because the accused are being tried under the National Security Law (NSL) introduced into HK by the PRC Central Authorities, and partly because they have been didactic spectacles revealing the actions and consequences sought by the accused. This blog post explains the background of the “Hong Kong 47” case and shows why it raises questions that are of interest outside of Hong Kong as well. 
The issues around this trial and the trajectories of the development of the application of the NSL for HK-SAR and its interpretation by HK-SAR Courts is fascinating. Statements by the European External Action Service may be accessed HERE; the statement by the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China may be accessed HERE.

The essay may be accessed in the original Verfassungsblog HERE, and follows below.

Monday, July 15, 2024

"Remarks by President Biden in Address to the Nation" 14 July 2024


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 I post the text of the Remarks delivered by President Biden in the wake of the assassination attempt on former President Trump in Pennsylvania.  Comments are unnecessary. The text of the remarks follows. They may be accessed from the White House website here.  

CfP: Firms and Moral Repair Workshop - Nov 18th-19th IESE Business School, Barcelona

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I am delighted to pass along a CfP for an intriguing event. Jordi Vives Gabriel (Senior Research Fellow IESE Business School, Barcelona) and Wim Van Lent (IESEG, France) are organizing a scholarly workshop titled “Firms and Moral Repair: Shaping a Research Agenda.”

They write:

It is a widely shared view within our BHR debate that the concept of remedy is one of the least researched areas in our domain. This is also true for broader scholarly discussions in business ethics and social issues in management. The goal of the event is thus to expand this conversation by collectively brainstorming and exploring a potential research agenda around the notion of “moral repair,” broadly understood. Incipient or early development stage research projects are welcome.

Here are the details:Where: IESE Business School, Barcelona
When: November 18th-19th, 2024
How: Submit an extended abstract by September 30th, 2024
Further info and link to the call:

The Call for Papers with a substantial concept note and bibliography follows below:


Sunday, July 14, 2024

A Quite Interesting Verfassungsblog Blog Symposium (in Cooperation with the German Institute for Human Rights): "Unboxing the New EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive"


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I am delighted to pass along information about a quite interesting blog symposium  put together by the wonderful folks at Verfassungsblog in cooperation with the German Institute for Human Rights. The theme of this blog symposium project is "Unboxing the New EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive." The blog symposium's concept statement suggests its breadth and focus:

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There is much to unpack in the now final text of the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive. In partnership with the German Institute for Human Rights, this blog symposium discusses the Directive’s scope on human and environmental rights, its extraterritorial reach, the role of National Human Rights Institutions, accompanying measures for corporations, and delves into critical issues such as access to justice for rightsholders, administrative oversight, and the underlying neo-colonial context of the law-making process. (Unboxing the New EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive").

The blog symposium includes a large number of topnotch contributors. They include , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and

Lots of food for thought, especially around the premises, principles, and approaches to application in the context of mandatory measures based regimes. Franziska Oehm's initiating essay, Unboxing the New EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, puts the issues to be considered into perspective. Other essays touch on, among other important topics,  The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive beyond Europe; The Unintended Consequences of Mandatory Due Diligence; Dividing the Indivisible; A Comparative Analysis between the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive and the French and German Legislation; National Human Rights Institutions – Critical but, Overlooked Actors; Conditions of Corporate Civil Liability in the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive; Access to Supply Chain Justice?; and Harmonization Pains but Stakeholders’ Gain.

CS3D provides a quite well developed framework along the continuum of possibilities of "smart mixes of measures" imagined in and through the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. It represents a maturing EU version of the legal mandatory measures school of UNGP application, but in its multi-lateral, national measures coordination aspects. Within that legal mandatory measures school it applies choices respecting business guidance and extraterritoriality (UNGP Principles 1-2) as well as accountability and remedial measures that will likely prove, one way or another to be influential. It builds on the significant underlying principle of the UNGP Principle 3 that State based or sourced mandatory and voluntary measures must be the product of a time sensitive dialectic between contemporary contextual needs and the regulatory (mandatory and voluntary) measures that are necessary to fill gaps, develop norms and apply them effectively in space, lace and time.

Yet it is also important to keep in mind that there are other schools of application that are being developed--some of them more and some less compatible with the premises and objectives of CS3D (understood as a normative framework or as a process-structural set of preference techniques). A potentially significantly distinct enough variation within the legal mandatory measures school is the internationalist legal mandatory measures school; one that focuses on international instruments as the superior and organizing source of both norms and structuring techniques. The current efforts to develop and offer  some sort of international legally binding instrument for business and human rights (and in this way falling within the obligation premises of the UNGP  General Principles) represents one such effort (see here). These then may generate efforts to fins either common ground or to mold the internationalist sub-school within the EU multi-lateral mandatory measures school. And the third may be the Socialist legal mandatory measures school, developed by the People's Republic of China, the normative basis of which may differ in some (substantial) from the other schools (more richly steeped in the preference of liberal democratic principles). This Socialist mandatory measures school reflects a preference for development as the driving force of analysis and is deeply contextual but as a function of the overarching normative framework of Marxist-Leninist vanguardism (see, e.g., "The Chinese Path for Business and Human Rights"[白 轲 "工商企业与人权的中国道路"]).

At the same time, it ought to be borne in mind that there are still strong streams of voluntary measures schools. These appear to exhibit substantial variation. Each includes some "smart mix" of measures that may be more oriented toward markets driven focus and may include compliance based disclosure regimes with nudging elements. They include substantial measures targeting private law arrangements within markets that shape expectations but avoid public law management (eg here). A variation that appears to be emerging as a U.S. voluntary measures school. This approach combines markets driven compliance with substantial state targeted intervention through human rights infused sanctions measures and takes a variety of forms (here, here, and here). East Asian states provide a window toward a more compliance and markets based voluntary measures nudging regimes, including guidance measures and incentives, but that remain true to the UNGP but which shy away from mandatory measures approaches (see, here, here, and here). Other places in the Global South add contextually rich variation (eg here, here, and here; considered together in essays organized  here).

It might also be useful to remind oneself of the following in working through these variations of smart mixes and the arguments of their critics and advocates. First, the UNGP rejected the notion of a one size fits all set of "best" smart mixes; context matters, including ideological, historical, political, cultural, and social context. Second, even the "best" smart mix is not eternal, nor is it likely that one can craft text that would be flexible enough to survive the realities of historical change. Third, smart mixes reflect subjective rather than objective application of the UNGP principles in the sense that they each represent an articulation of the way in which a collective views the world and its choices within it; the only thing that remains a constant is the measure against which such mixes are evaluated--adverse human rights impacts. Fourth, but even adverse human rights impacts are themselves subject to quite distinctive means of identification and measurement--as a function of the collective world views of those seeking to grasp both their identity and their measure. Fifth, it is important to note, then, that the great value of the UNGP are as guardrails against conceptual disintegration; the organizing concepts permit a wide scope of application, but they also produce the conceptual borders within which those choices may be made. It is within that context that the Verfassungsblog "Unboxing the New EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive" significantly enrich the discussion both about smart mixes and the EU legal mandatory measures school.

The essay abstracts with links to the full text follow below.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Regulation and Governance Special Issue: "Rules as Data"; Special Issue Guest Editors Alessia Damonte and Giulia Bazzan


 I am delighted to pass along the announcement of the availability of Volume 18 Issue 3 of Regulation and Governance. It includes an intriguing set of essays in a special issue edited by Alessia Damonte and Giulia Bazzan. It is entitled "Rules as Data."  Several of the articles are open access.  The contents and links t the articles follow. 

In their Introduction (Rules as Data), Damonte and Bazzan explain in their abstract:

Rules lie at the core of many disciplines beneath regulatory studies. Such a broad interest inevitably comes with fragmented understandings and technical choices that hinder knowledge cumulation and learning. This introduction tackles these limitations through an encompassing analytical blueprint from measurement theory. First, it addresses ambiguities to establish formal rules as a distinct research object. Then, it builds on legal, institutional analytic, and computational linguistic frameworks to pinpoint their constituting elements. Last, it revises strategies for assigning meaningful numbers to objects and outlines how the contributions to this Special Issue foster different aspects of the blueprint.

Most interestingly, they use a form of the semiotic triad (object, sign/signifier, interpretant) in the form of label concept-meaning intention-actuality extension (Rules as Data p. 658).  

Jeremy Daum: on the National Development and Reform Commission "2024-2025 Social Credit System Construction Action Plan" 《2024—2025年社会信用体系建设行动计划》] (20 May 2024).


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 In early June 2024, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) [国家发展和改革委员会] released its "2024-2025 Social Credit System Construction Action Plan" [《2024—2025年社会信用体系建设行动计划》] (20 May 2024) for implementation.

Notice of the General Office of the National Development and Reform Commission on Issuing the "2024-2025 Social Credit System Construction Action Plan" NDRC Finance [2024] No. 451. The General Offices (Offices) of the member units of the Inter-ministerial Joint Conference on the Construction of a Social Credit System, the Development and Reform Commissions of all provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central government, and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, the Beijing Economic and Information Technology Bureau, the Hebei Provincial Government Service Office, the Jilin Provincial Government Service and Digital Construction Management Bureau, the Heilongjiang Provincial Business Environment Construction Supervision Bureau, the Hainan Provincial Business Environment Construction Department, and the Gansu Provincial Business Environment Construction Bureau: The "Action Plan for the Construction of a Social Credit System from 2024 to 2025" has been reviewed and approved by the Inter-ministerial Joint Conference on the Construction of a Social Credit System and is now issued to you. Please implement it conscientiously.
General Office of the National Development and Reform Commission May 20, 2024 

国家发展改革委办公厅关于印发《2024—2025年 社会信用体系建设行动计划》的通知 发改办财金〔2024〕451号. 社会信用体系建设部际联席会议成员单位办公厅(办公室),各省、自治区、直辖市、新疆生产建设兵团发展改革委,北京市经信局,河北省政务服务办,吉林省政务服务和数字化建设管理局,黑龙江省营商环境建设监督局,海南省营商环境建设厅,甘肃省营商环境建设局:《2024—2025年社会信用体系建设行动计划》已经社会信用体系建设部际联席会议审议通过,现印发给你们,请认真贯彻执行。
国家发展改革委办公厅 2024年5月20日 (link here)

The Action Plan follows below in the original Chinese. The Folks over at the China Law Translate Website have prepared an excellent translation that may be accessed HERE.  

Jeremy Daum, a Senior Fellow of the Yale Law School Paul Tsai China Center, based in Beijing, with over a decade of experience working in China on collaborative legal reform projects, has prepared a quite useful and insightful analysis of the Action Plan: Social Credit Action in 2025. Daum treats Chinese social credit as divided into three distinct parts: "I have generally thought of social credit as three largely distinct systems forced under the same conceptual umbrella: (1) The PBOC financial reporting system 征信, (2) The NDRC and regulatory departments’ credit regulation system (信用监管), and (3) Creditworthiness or Integrity (诚信) propaganda campaigns.

Daum notes the narrowing of the application of Social credit notions as applied to individuals. For individuals there appears to be an effort to walk back the broadest interpretation of the 2014 State Council social credit planning outline.  Now more deeply embedded within the apparatus and the sensibilities of the People's Bank of China (PBOC) the focus has moved away from more comprehensive measures to a more financial risk based system for individuals. That, in turn, is also deeply embedded in the legislation touching on State secrets, data protection and the like. The notion of credit worthiness, then, has become much more closely connected to financial creditworthiness (or trust worthiness). Daum also reminds us that credit regulations are within the authority of the (PBOC and not the NCRC; as a result of which there is not much focus on those structures and their relation to social credit.  Daum, however, notes that the integrity campaigns do leak into the financial credit focus of the PBOC system ("It is likely that information on creditworthiness and compliance would only be available as a discretionary reference in lending (and likely ignored if not useful at predicting loan risk), but I would prefer to keep these areas distinct").  In this later respect, I would tend to see things differently--giving greater emphasis to integrity objectives and the political/guidance role of trust systems (see here, here, here).

On the other hand a more comprehensive social trust based apparatus appears to be encouraged. Daum suggests that that so-called corporate social credit system now "generally means subjecting businesses or other organizations to differing levels of government scrutiny for inspections and government approvals, based on their history of legal compliance. (Social Credit Action in 2025). But again issues of jurisdiction leaves a critical gap. In this case it touches on the judgment defaulter lists ("The courts’ judgment defaulter list is a unique blacklist that includes persons or entities that have a valid legal judgment against them and the capacity to satisfy that judgment, but refuse to do so." (Ibid.). But again NDRC does not have authority over this program. 

What appears to continue to have emerged as a critical objective center on the platformatization of social credit features that are encouraged by its institutional "managers." One aspect of this touches on the harvesting and organization of collectable data (identified and lawfully extracted). The Action Plan focuses on this technical but critical issue. 

Several online platforms are core components of the social credit system. These include the public-facing Credit China website – the primary hub for credit news and public inquiries into credit information and the National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System which displays Public Credit Information such as licenses and administration punishment in the market regulation sector. The plan calls for increasing the use and authoritativeness of these platforms by better consolidation, integrating local and central government information and improving information security. (Social Credit Action in 2025).

The limits of jurisdiction and the division of authority, of course, makes coordination more challenging, and with it the construction and operation of coordinating platforms--whether inward or outward facing. 

Lastly, Daum correctly notes the emphasis on the finalization of the mch anticipated draft Law on the Establishment of the Social Credit System, "which will become the highest level Social Credit authority if adopted. The draft was criticized, however, for being unfocused and unwieldy, and contributing little to unifying the application of social credit (Ibid.). Daum believes that the "Action Plan calls for accelerating the passage of this law in its first item (1), but, reading between the lines, it doesn’t seem like the NDRC anticipates that happening too quickly." (Ibid.). The NDRC, then, appears to be seeking to fuill in while the draft Law continues to be developed. That presents both an opportunity for NDRC and a risk should it misjudge the final form of the Social Credit Law.  

All of this brings one back to two essential takeaways.

1.  The tensions between jurisdictional silos and comprehensive coordination. This has been a recurring issue within the Chinese administrative apparatus. And it sometimes takes a toll on the ability of that apparatus to effectively realize the policy directives  of the political vanguard. The PBOC has been particularly aggressive--no not unusually so--in the protection and extension of its reach.  This has been especially e case since the Jack Ma scandal of several years ago triggered by his Shanghai Bund Speech but that was only a trigger masking an important jurisdictional as well as ideological fight over the role of regulation and its sources. But the issue also touches on the judiciary. That also has substantial operational controls over aspects of social credit nudging modalities. These are fissures that are nlilely to be "fixed" anytime soon and it will produce a multiplicity of social credit (effectively) even as social credit becomes officially more narrowly defined--ad controlled. It is in this sense that the Social Credit Law may be quite interesting.

2. The focus on corporate social credit in the Acton Plan and its necessary connection with the critical policy of high or new quality development (“新质生产力”). High Quality development has been increasingly understood as a critical element of an important aspects of the application of New Era theory in the context of the management and deployment of productive forces (New Quality Development Theory: Snippets From Speeches and Writings of the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party: 习近平:开创我国高质量发展新局面 (Xi Jinping: Create a new situation for high-quality development in China)).  That, in turn, suggests both the increased focus on social credit within enterprises, but also, potentially a broader reach. That broadening may be a function of the extension of the notion of productive forces to include social and cultural, as well as political forces, perhaps including the Chinese Communist Party itself--and its disciplinary apparatus (The Party as a State Asset and “新质生产力” (New Quality Productivity):《中国共产党纪律处分条例》 ["Regulations on Disciplinary Actions of the Communist Party of China"]).  And it extends internationally as well (CPE Working Group on Empire: Part 1--Observations on Xi Jinping, Speech Delivered at the G20 Leaders' Summit on the World Economic Situation and Trade Issues--"Work Together to Create a High Quality World Economy" [习近平在二十国集团领导人峰会上关于世界经济形势和贸易问题的讲话(全文)携手共进,合力打造高质量世界经济]).

 The original text of the Action Plan follows. The English translation may be accessed HERE.

Friday, July 12, 2024

NATO's "3 Body Problem": NATO Washington Summit Declaration (Déclaration du Sommet de Washington) 10 July 2024 and Statement of the NATO-Ukraine Council issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council in Washington, D.C. 11th July 2024


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In the morning, Allied leaders met with leaders from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the European Union to address shared security challenges and further deepen cooperation. Faced with the growing alignment of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, NATO is working ever more closely with partners in the Indo-Pacific and with the European Union to help preserve peace and protect the rules-based international order. Mr. Stoltenberg also highlighted that China is a decisive enabler of Russia’s war against Ukraine. The Washington Summit declaration refers to the strategic partnership between Moscow and Beijing as a “cause for profound concern.” (NATO Washington Summit Declarationhere)

7. As we continue to intensify our cooperation and strengthen Ukraine’s political integration with NATO, the Alliance is reinforcing the NATO Representation to Ukraine (NRU), and the Secretary General has decided to appoint a NATO Senior Representative to head the NRU and to act as a focal point for NATO’s engagement with Ukrainian authorities in Kyiv. (Statement of the NATO-Ukraine Council 11 July 2024; here)


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NATO has a three body problem which in the current context can be usefully understood as a war on  three fronts--one made painfully manifest in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and more importantly with its accompanying discursive tropes of "belonging" (see here, and here).  But Russia merely made unavoidable a series of confrontations that will either move NATO into the current stage of its historical development or help push it more speedily into the trash (not dust) bin of history. For the moment, elites appear to favor the retro comfort of this trash bin (or garbage or ash heap (USSR's Andropov versus USA Reagan) in the way that the boomer generation continues to embrace with greater and greater force the desiccated remnants of its own time by clinging to its manners and mores, it rituals and performances in ways that become first pathetic and then dangerously dissociative

The first and more conventional front faces Russia and its allies--particularly Iran and China (but also  the large number of States that seek to profit from war in advancing their own interests).  The second is the war that NATO leadership anticipates it will wage against a potential Trump Presidency. This is a war  both for the "soul" of the institution, and between a rising and current ruling elite, its sensibilities and views of what is best for the organization and its deployment. The third is a war among the European side of the alliance, one that mirrors the fractured politics of the EU especially touching on the issues "of" and "at" the edges of "Europe" including its self conception. NATO has memorialized it intentions toward those ends in the two documents (1) the NATO Washington Summit Declaration (Déclaration du Sommet de Washington) 10 July 2024 and (2) the Statement of the NATO-Ukraine Council 11 July 2024; each issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council in Washington, D.C. A close reading of the text (beyond the quite necessary discursive tropes of solidarity and unity against aggression) raises the question of the connection between the objectives of countermeasures and the actual undertakings in both documents. Those in turn highlight the way that the front lines of challenges shape both text and action. Both texts follow below along with some brief reflections about the nature and dangers for NATO and its members along the front lines of these three fronts.

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The first front (territory). First it is not clear that the sensibilities and guard rails that continue to apply to the way in which NATO manage logistics and overall management of the war against Russia will do more than maintain the status quo in the style of the 1914-1918 war.  That certainly would satisfy some NATO member factions.  Again, the objective is to use combat as an instrument of the more important objective of producing instability and collapse of the opponent (both the Cold War strategy and the effective result of trench warfare on the 2nd Reich). Yet that strategy cannot realize its objectives by the end of 2024 and may then be subject to exploitation toward a different goal--land for peace. But the Israeli context also suggests that land for peace may not always work to its discursive potential. The issues and conundrums might be gleaned from President Biden's NATO Address (Full Text and Brief Reflections on the Remarks by President Biden on the 75th Anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Alliance). But already, the nature of the territorial front has effectively challenged the traditional vision and operaiton of the alliance in ways that make its conventional warfare management in Ukraine seem out of kilter (both in terms of the mix between generational warfare strategies and the premises that shape its containment strategies). NATO's own reporting suggests both the contours and the "organic" rather than strategic context n which things are changing or need to:

In the morning, Allied leaders met with leaders from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the European Union to address shared security challenges and further deepen cooperation. Faced with the growing alignment of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, NATO is working ever more closely with partners in the Indo-Pacific and with the European Union to help preserve peace and protect the rules-based international order. (NATO Secretary General concludes landmark 75th Anniversary Washington Summit)

The second front (the battle for NATO). Much has been made in elite discourse since 2016 about the threat that Mr. Trump poses to NATO, as now preserved, and therefore the need to ensure that the organization is protected against Mr. Trump's anticipated projections of desire masked as policy. It is not clear that either Statement will "Trump proof"  contemporary NATO, or its self conception expressed as its  Ukraine strategy.  The battlefield strategy risk was discussed above.  The bigger risk is tat Mr Trump might block NATO membership.  An even bigger risk is that a new Trump Administration may re-commit to act through NATO but on different terms--the expressions of the current Speaker of the House might be worth considering in that respect. A better alternative to "Trump Proofing" where it counts would have been to admit Ukraine now to NATO membership waiving the usual performative aspects under wartime conditions. But that may be impossible considering the way that certain members of NATO, one controlling the Bosporus, might use that process the way that an unscrupulous bank uses a consent provision in a loan agreement even when bound by terms like "not unreasonably withheld" to obtain concessions (and increase their power to drive the community.  One could then work on its corruption and other integration issues. Yet that would be incompatible to the sensibilities of the ruling group within NATO.  That choice between acceptance now and reform later or for reform now and acceptance later mimics the fundamental difference among Abrahamic religions regarding conversions. The results are obvious over centuries, but not, apparently, to the ruling elites. Or perhaps they are quite obvious with an obvious commtment to a smaller shop (on the way a similar debate has been elaborated within the Catloic Church, see here). A bad choice for them--either way they will lose. . .something. For these elites and schemers and those seeking leverage in high stakes confrontations, the real question is which is worse--and the documents suggest that they would rather lose the war and Ukrainian membership in due course rather than change cultures and behaviors to suit the current context. 

Pix credit here (Cosi fan Tutte (the lovers as "Albanians")
The third front (fortress Europe). The idea of Europe has been one of the most interesting conseqeuces of the physical manifestaiton of the reality of the Roman Empire through the manifestaiotns of the idea of "Rome" either as a manifestaiton of the unifying force of religion, or through territorial reintergraiton. Yet, like all imperial projects, that has always left the issue of the peripheries as unstable places, were much in play. Europe has been more or less content with its own self conception, but the problems of defining itself in the shadow of the periphery (where is it, hwo does one define it, how does that reflect on the nature/notion of Europe) remains challenging. The current manifestaiton, of course is performed throough admission into the EU. And Ukraine now occupies a central and immediate place in that more complicated conversation (with Türkiye and the Caucasus region on the sidelines).  It is not clear that the current strategy will "EU proof" the NATO strategy against Russian and Chinese "running dogs" within the NATO umbrella (and especially also in the EU). And not just stooges but opportunists as well--and well known. This is the NATO enlargement issues, at the basic level of premise based conceptualization, but now applied to the "idea" of Europe. That, anyway, is how if is HALF framed (the discourse, not quite reassuring, is articulated to the drum best of "Ukraine is Europe" and the like).  Ukraine remains very much like the "Albanians" in Mozart's 18th century frolic, Cosi fan Tutte, representing a peripheral region neither in nor out--exotic and yet connected--Europe's little internal orientalist turn. That stance (though ancient) is also to be greatly lamented--its projection of retro cultural bias and stereotype is almost burlesque, the corrupting havest of which will further weaken Europe as a concept, or at ñeast reduce its potency) as Europeans remain more distracted by the detritus of their imperial stages than about their contemporary (territorialand cultural) realities. Because a certain amount of bad behavior is tolerated that then opens the door to the bad behavior of a "worst case scenario" Trump administration.  And, indeed, the free rising of States in NATO, and their benign neglect of their own military capabilities, coupled with  a post-Vietnam discursive stance that is built on repugnance of US military power and its operation within Europe (with the exception of the East which understands the realities lost on the insulated techno-bureaucracies and their support systems farther form the frontier). But more importantly, perhaps, the current position of NATO does little to wean the powerful of their generations long relationships with the entity on which they grew dependent.

In a sense, however, NATO was locked into what wound up being expressed in its documents. They have cast the dice in the only way they know how and the crisis (to their mind's eye) has not produced the sort of crisis that would displace the players that make any other stance plausible).  

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The text of the documents follow below.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Full Text and Brief Reflections on the Remarks by President Biden on the 75th Anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Alliance


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 Mr. Biden gave a speech at the NATO Meeting marking its 75th Anniversary.  It was a set of remarks both necessary and appropriate to the event--a commemoration of survival and a look forward for an enterprise that has reached nearly the end of a lifespan of a human being--as averages in those matters are calculated. Indeed it has survived longer than the European version of a Marxist-Leninist Empire and in the process has undergone the sort of transformation necessary to enable it to remain relevant form one stage of historical development to another.  One may find oneself at such a moment now. This is understood perhaps more acutely by the Eastern European members of the alliance than those who sit comfortably well behind anything that they think might become the front lines of future engagement.  But it is precisely that sort of 20th century thinking, and that passive aggressive arrogance of inertia that is both represented in this anniversary and which must be overcome. Mr. Biden spoke both the that nostalgia for what was which in its time, was brilliantly effective in its own way. But seeping out of its edges were the glimmerings of both the challenge of our times and perhaps a way forward.

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The object of those remarks were ostensibly NATO's foreign threats: Russia, China, Iran and the wars that they are facilitating or in which they are directly involved. Despite the rhetorical tropes,  the speech making and likely the side bar conversations are all meant to provide reassurance that the deal that was made at the start of the Russo-Ukraine war continues--to keep Ukraine on a tight leash by tight control of arms and modulated down tempo movement toward NATO and EU membership--while keeping the rhetoric strictly uptempo.  The fixation of liberal democratic states, exhibited both here and in the Hamas Gaza war appears to be that physical war are unwinnable (at least since 1945), that one can build of the semiotics of proportionality to develop it into an ideology of constant low level war in which no side wins and no side loses so that the status quo is maintained until one side or another collapses (the application of the "lessons" of the Cold War adapted to the ideologies of proportionality and aligned with the value of trench warfare now applied simultaneously on the physical, virtual, political, ideological (and in the case of the Hamas-Israel War invoking all of the old religious tropes as leash). And, indeed, the tilt of the post 1945 world is toward wars of attrition in which the physical violent aspects merely serve as the bloodier expression of multi-planer contests around the exhaustion and internal collapse of one of the opposing forces--that signalling the end of the conflict and the fruits of victory.  It is thus logivcal. for example, to engage almost more vigorously in the de-legitimization of Israel in order to foster its internal collapse than to spend as much effort on the ground in the battlefields where the Israelis have the advantage. The same applies in the Russian and Iranian contexts--regime change is the mark of victory, and that is undertaken through destabilization, economic exhaustion, and social collapse in which dissatisfaction aomng elites with access to power can be exploited. Essential to those strategies is the need to ensure the effectiveness of stalemate strategies in the physical combat arena, both to hemorrhage assets, and create the physical manifestations and provocations necessary for stalemate on the ground to produce conditions for collapse. That, one might suppose, is a quite perverse way of applying the doctrine of proportionality in the longer strategic objective of total victory. Mr Biden dutifully fulfilled his role in that respect.

The text of the speech follows.  It is worth reading as a fine example of the discursive tropes within which these policy and ideological lines are cloaked. And it continues to paper over the gap between front line states that have had more than their fair share of life under Russian/Soviet hegemony, and those who, some for centuries, were  merely involved in shifting the boundaries between them, or using that shifting for the "great games" of their own. These old impulses are muted to be sure--and also cloaked by the unity in diversity tropes that make everything better. Yet. . . .  the ghosts of the past continue to haunt in increasingly odd ways.

But it was not the enemy outside that might be driving NATO and its 75th Anniversary rhetoric, but rather the (anticipated) enemy waiting just outside the door.

With the potential of Trump’s return to power looming, the president has repeatedly highlighted his commitment to NATO, while warning voters that his predecessor would abandon the alliance if he returns to the White House. Unlike in 2016, NATO allies are actively preparing to manage the return of a NATO-skeptic Trump administration. NATO officials are ramping up weapons production, consulting with Trump’s advisers and holding meetings to prepare for the former president’s return, and with that, an America-first, restraint-focused approach and a deep skepticism toward Europe. (here).

 The other enemy, age and debilitation, appears also to have been subject to countermeasures around leaders. This buzzing about as the gossip around the meetings with the new UK PM:

The PM appears to have been briefed to treat President Biden as he might an elderly care home relative, speaking loudly, slowly and deliberately and making an effort to involve the older man in the conversation. President Biden looks waxen and moves more stiffly than he did even a couple of years ago. Earlier he had struggled to bend to embrace Italian PM Giorgia Meloni, who stands a full foot shorter than him. But on this occasion, the President’s mental faculties appeared to be in reasonable order. (here)

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Challenges all around, it seems, made more interesting by the contradictions of action and discourse, and by the aristocratic "great game" inside the "kingdom" of NATO and undertaken especially in anticipation of the contests for the "iron throne" that appears less orderly this year than in a long time. These are undertaken within a complex dialectic of the "lesser games" within each of the great houses themselves among their leader, bureaucratic and populist (civil society across the political spectrum) classes in a substantially more disordered way than had been visible since the 1960s. 

The text of Mr Biden's speech follows. 

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