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How will coronavirus affect a small business in Australia?

Terminally … unless they implement careful cashflow management and lean on the support provided by State/Federal Government, trusted business advisors and large corporations. If they do this, then I think that small businesses in Australia can survive the worst of the COVID-19 impact and ultimately emerge intact once it passes. (See the 15 strategies outlined below)In my position as a Small Business Teacher at TAFE Queensland, I have been charged by the Queensland State Government to develop a webinar that helps small businesses survive this crisis. Detailed below is the content of that webinar.Building on my decades of experience (some disastrous) in founding and managing over 30 cafes, speciality retail and restaurant businesses in Australia, I have researched all the options (as at 28 March 2020) that small business can activate to survive this crisis … especially for small businesses in Queensland.The attitude that I believe small businesses must adopt is brilliantly eulogised in the Gladiator (2000) Movie by DreamWorks, where the Gladiator character, when facing mortal danger of unknown proportions, says“Whatever comes out of these gates, we've got a better chance of survival if we work together.”In this crisis, small businesses do not have a choice - they are going to have work together with all stakeholders which includes Governments, financiers, shareholders, landlords, suppliers, creditors, clients, unions, employees … if they are going to survive.Now an age-old and often necessary action in times when small business revenue falls is to terminate staff (especially casuals) … but not this time. At present, there is no market for an unemployed person, so this action would be cruel. For your small business to survive you will need others to support you … so this time we need to ‘pay it forward’ in relation to our staff and keep as many employed as possible. In fact, central to the Government’s support for your small business is for you to support your staff.To get through the mental shock that COVID-19 is having on the Australian economy, small businesses must understand this truth …“This crisis is not your fault … but the responsibility has fallen to you to deal with it”As a critical starting point, all small business owners should build their online networks ASAP, which includes:Personal networks: emotional support – i.e. family/friendsOperational networks: efficient day to day business operations – i.e. Specific industry associations/mentorsStrategic networks: future opportunities/threats – i.e. Chamber of Commerce and Industry/Global communities (Quora)A cashflow management focus rather than a profit focus is the key to surviving this crisis because while a business can survive for some time without profit, without cash - failure is imminent.So here are the 15 strategies that I believe that small businesses in Australia can adopt to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and stop the impact from being terminal on their business.Option 1 – Implement Cash-flow Management Strategies[1]Review all outgoing expenditure – line by line and reduce expense payments in the long term business building expenses over the expenses that relate to immediate survival value.Analyse and rank your creditors according to their ability to cripple your business. Pay the priority 1 creditors first.Defer capital purchases – Property, plant, equipment, vehicles, furniture. (better to rent, share, lease)Develop a payment plan with your creditors but you will need a detailed cashflow forecast.Increase cash into your business by clearing out obsolete and overstocked merchandise, selling non-core equipment and assets, get, State/Federal Government low-interest loansDecrease cash going out of your business by converting annual payments to monthly payments, negotiate with the landlord (rent reduction or rent deferral), lease, rent or borrow rather than buy, surrender non-essential lease assets, buy on consignment (Pay for only what you sell), negotiate debt payments plans (creditors, ATO, landlord), reduce owners drawings from the business to just necessitiesOption 2 - Get a trusted advisor to negotiate deals on your behalfSmall businesses are going to need help negotiating all the deals they need to survive. At present they are too emotionally involved. They have made promises, that through no fault of their own … they just can’t keep. The challenge to their integrity makes them poor negotiators. My advice is for them to get a trusted and capable negotiator.Negotiations are needed with Landlords (rent renegotiation), repayment plans (with Creditors, ATO, Payroll tax), Loans (Banks, Federal and State Government), Creditors (getting trading terms extensions), ‘White Knight’ investors and completing applications (i.e. Apprentice subsidy)Trusted and capable advisors would include consultants who belong to Professional Association and/or are answerable to Government Authorities or Departments. These include accountants (members of CA or CPA), lawyers (members of the Australian Bar Association), business reconstruction and turnaround specialist (ASIC registered liquidator) or a trusted mentor – (DESBIT Mentor for Growth)Option 3 - Claim the Federal Government’s - Cash flow assistance for businessSmall businesses receive a tax-free payment equal to 100 per cent of the salary and wages withheld (PAYG Withholding) in the Jan-Mar period as reported on their BAS.Payment automatically calculated by the (ATO). No forms are required. Note: Best to lodge your BAS early (soon after 1 April as possible). See Fact Sheet link for details. Also, call Emergency Support Infoline 1800 806 218 if required.Option 4: Claim PAYG Instalment refundSmall businesses can adjust their Pay-As-You-Go Instalment (Employer’s tax) on their BAS to zero for the March 2020 quarter and then claim a refund for any instalment payment made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters.Small Businesses can change their BAS reporting period from Quarterly to Monthly to speed up refunds. See details here Administrative measuresOption 5: Drawdown some personal SuperannuationSmall business owners, affected by the Coronavirus, can access up to $10,000 of their Superannuation in 2019-20 + $10,000 in 2020-21Small business owners will need to apply directly to the ATO through myGov website and certify that you meet the eligibility criteria. The ATO will then review the application and make a determination, then authorise your Superannuation Fund to pay your bank account. See details here Early access to SuperOption 6: Get a Federal Government-backed loanUnder the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme, the Federal Government will provide a guarantee of 50% of a new unsecured (no asset security required) bank loan used for Small Businesses as working capitalThe maximum amount is $250,000 per borrower, for up to 3 years with a repayment holiday for the first 6mth. See details here SME Guarantee SchemeOption 7: Negotiate an ATO Payment plan - BASThe Australian Tax Office (ATO) will grant small businesses a deferral of some payments by up to 6 months on taxation debt. This included both GST and Income tax.Small businesses can request a low-interest payment plan (up to 2 years repayment period) but the small business must still lodge their BAS on time and still pay in full the employee Superannuation liabilities. You or your accountant must contact the ATO to make a request on the Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 or by email. See details here ATO Low-Interest Payment PlanOption 8: Apply for a: Queensland Government COVID-19 Jobs Support LoanLoans are available from The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) to help small businesses with carry-on finance to help businesses retain staffSuccessful applicants with get a low-interest loan of up to $250,000 with an initial 12-month interest-free period over 10 years at an interest rate of 2.5%pa. Freecall 1800 623 946 or Apply online hereTo secure this loan, small businesses will need to provide an aged debtors & creditors list, Tax returns/financial statements for 2 years and a Cash-flow forecast. See details here Jobs Support LoanOption 9: Apply for Queensland Government Payroll Tax Refund/DeferralBusinesses affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus) can claim a refund of payroll tax for the past 2 months, get a payroll tax holiday for the next 3 months and defer paying payroll tax for the 2020 calendar year. See details here Link to refund/holiday applicationOption 10: $ Subsidy for apprentices and traineesSmall businesses that employ an apprentice or trainee and employ fewer than 20 full‑time employees become eligible for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of their wage paid for 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020 up to a maximum of $21,000, per eligible apprentice or trainee. Contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider here Link to applicationOption 11: Renegotiate your lease arrangementsIn a good economy, it's a difficult negotiation: i.e. because it is easy to find your replacement. But in these economy-wide downturns, landlords are generally desperate to keep you. (Laws are changing to protect you from legal action by landlords forcing them to the negotiating table)Open your communication with the landlord on rental abatements (suspend/reduce). Decide on your lead negotiator. Consider negotiating a side agreement for rent-free or rent reduction period or rent deferral. (for at least 6 months) – The government anticipates closures for 6 months.Get legal advice because each lease is different. In most leases – you can’t withhold rent. Typically 14 days after not paying your rent the landlord can terminate your lease and take back possession. However, laws are changing to prohibit landlords from taking legal action against you for up to 6 months.Given that often a small business is forced to close by government and all leases demand that you obey the law means that a ‘Force majeure’ exists where an unavoidable or unforeseeable event has occurred that makes it impossible to fulfil the terms of the lease. Unfortunately, unless this is stated in the lease, you can’t pursue this action.The ‘Doctrine of frustration’ is a more likely legal argument in negotiating with the landlord where an unexpected event occurs (without default of either party) but which significantly changes the nature of the rights/obligations of the parties then both parties can be discharged from further performance. The lesson here … Get legal advice now.Option 12: Defer bank loan paymentIf the small business has term loans, personal loans, mortgages or leases, the major Australian banks are deferring payments for up to 6 months.With the royal commission fresh in their memory, Australian banks are very sensitive to small businesses who claim, ‘hardship’, mental health concerns or COVID-19 impact. You will need to talk to your bank early. Be proactive. Act now.You may need to sign a ‘Deed of Forbearance’ and support your application with a cashflow forecast. See details here Banking Association SupportOption 13: Negotiate essential services ‘Legacy debt’Certain services are designated by the Federal Government as essential services. They are Water, Electricity, Gas and Data. These services are owned by big corporations who are very political and bureaucratic. They too are very sensitive to small businesses claiming ‘hardship’, mental health, COVID-19.With these essential services, small businesses can typically section off past debt as a ‘Legacy debt’ that they pay off over time (1 year) if they agree to pay current and ongoing debts on time.Option 14: Do nothing – Undefended processSmall businesses can take the do-nothing option in relation to debt obligations. This option is a difficult one for a creditor to pursue because at a minimum it takes 9 months and cost a lot in legal fees.The Federal government has made this option even harder for creditors because it has raised the minimum debt that a creditor can pursue through the courts to $20,000 and added a 6 months delay to any statutory demand and bankruptcy notice responses extending the whole process out to 15 months forcing creditors to negotiate a settlement with the small business.Option 15: Secure Jobkeeper PaymentsBusinesses (including self-employed with 0 employees) with a turnover of less than $1 billion and suffering at least a 30% loss on last year, can access a subsidy from the Federal Government to continue paying their full-time, part-time and long term casual employees at the rate of $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) for the next 6 monthsEligibility starts from 30 March, based on employees as at 1 March, but with first cash payments starting in early May. ATO will use the Single Touch Payroll data to pre-populate the employee details for the business. Superannuation on these funds is optional for employers. JobKeeper Fact Sheet - Register hereJobKeeper Payments for Sole TradersAs a sole trader, if your turnover has been reduced because of the coronavirus. the Government may provide $1,500 per fortnight per eligible sole traders for a maximum of 6 months.Any eligible self-employed person will get a wage subsidy regardless of the business structure used, i.e.:one partner in a partnership can be nominated to receive it,one director of a Pty Ltd can be nominated to receive it,one individual beneficiary of a trust (i.e. not a corporate beneficiary) can be nominated to receive it. JobKeeperOption 16: Appoint a Voluntary AdministratorBefore a small business owner sells assets (family home) to put into a struggling business, they should first think about the option of appointing a Voluntary Administration (ASIC registered)This appointment Buys time (about 5-6 weeks), where the Voluntary Administrator has significant power to negotiate a “Deed of Company Arrangement” that often converts Legacy debt into a repayment plan that is quite often reduced to about 30 cents in the $. Talk to an ASIC Registered Liquidators in your state.That’s it. As at 7 April 2020, these are the 16 strategies that Small Businesses could adopt in Australian to mitigate the impact that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has had on their business.Here is a link to the webinars I am developing - TAFE QueenslandFootnotes[1] Peter Baskerville's answer to How can a business increase their cash flow?

What gives America the right to invade foreign nations, and change their governments? Should this be allowed?

This is a complex issue and one could write a book in this area. While I cannot make an unassailable case that will convince everyone, I can certainly provide an exposition of rationalizations often given to itself and to the international community on when it is justified to invade and force a regime change of another nation.Any discussion about a “right” to do something obviously involves morality. So, any rationalizations given to justify a violent action as being morally legitimate is ultimately up to the reader.The fundamental issue at hand is that the world is diverse and very large with many beliefs and religions, and no appeal to moral reasoning will convince everyone. We know from studies of human psychology, that human beings carry an in-built intuitive moral sense of right and wrong. Unfortunately these intuitive moral calculators in our brain evolved while our specie was living in small groups as hunter gatherers, and as with many other intuitive mental calculators built into our brain, it can give faulty results.We know this from various studies performed on volunteer subjects. One famous study asked subjects to make choices using a scenario that required sacrificing one person to save many others. Subjects often failed to sacrifice a person even to save many others if it required them to actively bring about the demise of the person being sacrificed. But when no active measure was required to sacrifice a person to save many, subjects would almost always say that sacrificing one to save many was morally justified.So does this mean that if you have to kill someone to save thousands of others, that is not morally justified? How about deaths of thousands in order to benefit millions of others?First, let’s begin by recognizing the fact that politically the world is currently in a Hobbesian state. Named after the famous Scottish philosopher Thomas Hobbes; a Hobbesian world is generally understood to mean a world where the state of affairs is such that there is no central political authority with overwhelming power of coercion to create order from chaos. Let’s dissect this formulation a bit. This directly implies and assumes that political order can only be brought about by the presence of a political authority with overwhelming ability to coerce others through its ability to kill and destroy.Some people have great difficulties with this and believe that political order can be achieved without the threat of coercion because people can see for themselves that pro-social behavior will result in the best case outcome for all. If you are one of these nice folks, almost nothing I say here from this point on will convince you. All I can say is that the real world and real people do not function that way.Even in democratic societies, we assign to our government a near monopoly over the “instruments of coercion” - i.e. the police, the military, in order to secure peace and order for ourselves. Even when laws are made following democratic principles, these laws are not mere suggestions, and failing to comply with them will result in an increasing escalation of punitive measures including the loss of one’s liberty, property, and life.The key to understanding politics at this most fundamental level is to realize that when there are competing powers, competition and conflict will arise and no peace will be possible until one power defeats all others to impose its will. That is what national governments are: the one authority vested with what we call sovereign power that recognizes no authority higher than itself, and uses its unchallenged authority within its borders to impose law and order.In countries that follow democratic principles, the national governments are deliberately limited in its reach and challengeable through an independent court system. However, even in these countries rebellions and insurrections will be put down swiftly using all instruments of coercion available. Any national government that fails to monopolize the instruments of coercion will quickly find itself facing rebellion and civil war resulting in misery for untold number of its citizens. A good current example is Syria where the dictatorship of Assad has lost that monopoly over the instruments of coercion. Whether you like Assad or not, no one can deny that the Syrian civil was has brought misery and death to its people.If we now pull back to look at the entire world politically, we see that there is no central world government that has a monopoly on the instruments of coercion. Some of you may ask what about the United Nations? The United Nations is a body intended to allow nation-states to discuss and possibly take joint actions. But nation-states possess the instruments of coercion and not the UN. Military forces are temporarily lent to the UN for specific authorized actions by the member states, but those forces belong to their respective national governments. UN is deliberately designed to be powerless so that it can never pose a serious challenge to the authority of the sovereign nation-states that make up the organization.That is why we must recognize the reality that we live in a Hobbesian world.So what you ask? The implication of being in a Hobbesian world is that each political actor, in this case the national governments, must take all steps necessary to secure their own continued survival. Survival has to be the primary objective since without it, nothing else matters. This is closely followed by the need to acquire and secure access to people and resources required to give its own people the maximum chance for prosperity and minimize the chance for misery and poverty. Both of these goals can be summed up as what is often referred to as the national interest.There is a term “reasons of state” used to imply that any actions taken by a sovereign power is justified because it is following its national interest. National governments that act in their national interest are acting to benefit the many, its own people, and sacrificing the lives of the few, especially if they are foreigners, is morally justified. What do you think the “007” with the “license to kill” in those James Bond movies really means?You may or may not agree with this, but this feeds into something called “real politik”. The belief that all sovereign powers must assume that all others are following their self-interest unencumbered by moral constraints. Whether you agree with this or not, any state that naively believes that others will impose moral restrictions on its own actions, will find itself in very disadvantageous position. Thus we cannot fail to take this fact into account.There is a famous quote from a book by Thucydides who chronicled the world war of his day, the Peloponnesian War, fought from 431 BC to 404 BC, that eventually involved the entire Greek world. On 416 BC, Athens ordered the island city-state of Melos to submit to its will and make an annual payment of tax to the Athenians. This was deemed to be a very generous offer. The Melians however objected to this explaining that they have never been an active enemy of Athens and have not done any wrong against Athens. They appealed to Athenian’s moral sense to say that they should be left alone as a neutral party and that as they are morally on the right, gods will protect them. Athenians expressed shock at such naïveté.Here is the response from Athenians: “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”.Many Europeans expressed shock when it became public knowledge that the US was listening on conversations taking place inside the governments of its European allies. We have Edward Snowden to thank for this embarrassment, but should we truly be surprised?In reality, what we find is that democratic governments often provide moral justifications for actions that are based on naked self-interest. Authoritarian governments often do not bother to provide any justifications, or use propaganda tools to “educate” its populace to support anything its government is doing in their name. This is the reality of our world. But whether you agree or not, ultimately all national governments are acting in pursuit of its perceived national interest. Whether the moral tradeoffs they are making is palatable to its citizens is often malleable to the tools of opinion making and propaganda.Any student of international politics must see this clearly and remind themselves of what is at stake. Self-determination is the outcome of national survival, and that without continued survival of their nation-state, the continued ability to exercise the ability of a people to make decisions for themselves, such as the ability to choose what languages to speak, what religion they will worship, what form of government they should have, etc., could all be stripped away from them. So what responsible national government will fail to act if it was within its ability to do so, to kill people if it must, in order to safeguard the right of self-determination for its own people?But then you may say that US has always claimed to be an exceptional nation that believes in moral principles. I agree that such claims are made, and that the US often struggles to align its national interest with its own moral principles. However, fundamentally the US is a national government like any other that will do whatever it must to assure national survival. Everything else is a luxury that it may choose to afford or not.Among national governments that operate under democratic principles, review of its foreign policy by the legislature along with a free press act to mitigate the worst excesses. It’s hard to explain why torture was necessary when it offends the moral sense of its own people. This is both a strength and a weakness of democratic nation-states such as the US. It’s a strength when the world can see that the American people can override the immoral acts by its leaders in the name of national interest. It’s also a weakness since its enemies know that the American administration cannot permit itself to commit blatantly evil acts without suffering punishment from its own people. Washington can’t seem to keep secrets like this under wraps because the very people charged to carry out such acts are themselves troubled by the immorality. On balance I think this is a good thing and ironically builds trust between countries.But even with democracies, morality does NOT hold a monopoly and must contend with and be balanced against compelling national interest.Many of you have heard of MAD or Mutually Assured Destruction. MAD is based on the concept of committing mass genocide against our attacker that cannot be stopped even if the US is destroyed. In order for such threats to work, it must be believed by the potential attacker. The US government has spent billions to make sure that we can destroy this beautiful planet if another power launches weapons of mass destruction against us. MAD has often been attacked by moralists as an insane policy, but like it or not, it most likely allowed the Cold War with the Soviet Union to remain “cold”.A strong case can also be made that the US has the lowest need to take what it needs from others using force. It is so well endowed with both human and natural resources within its own borders that it has the lowest need to grab resources belonging to others. Even when OPEC quadrupled the price of oil overnight sending US economy into a deep recession in the early 1970’s, the US paid the market rate. It only used military force to make sure that no one else would try to take it by force. That is the best example of the US as the most benign hegemon as the world has ever seen.If you still believe that the US invaded Iraq to take its oil, I have nothing to say to you other than to say that you are wrong, but I understand that nothing anyone says will convince some folks once they have set upon the idea that the US is the most evil power ever to walk the Earth.What I can point out is how other nations behave. Many nations have de-militarized to such an extent that they are entirely dependent on the US for their security. If the US was not seen as a benign power, all the major nations of the world would be heavily armed and form a coalition against the US. But we can clearly see that is NOT the case. The US stewardship of the world, until recently, has been measured, responsible, and have enjoyed broad support.Prior to World War 2, the world was organized on an imperial system composed of leading powers subjugating and controlling weaker states and people as colonies. In most cases, colonies were used as a source of wealth to be extracted to benefit the people living in the countries that have become an imperial power. Great Britain and France were the leading examples. Those two powers held sway over almost half of the world including most of Africa, Middle East, and India.The US expressed belief in self-determination for all people in the declaration made by President Wilson at the end of World War 1. But it was widely seen as a feel good expression divorced from reality. This would have required the imperial powers to voluntarily give up the lands and people that they had subjugated and thereby completely re-order the way the world was arranged.Interestingly, this is what the US did at the end of World War 2 as the European imperial powers were bankrupt and powerless to oppose American power bent on reshaping the world. American leaders saw rightfully that the imperial system was inherently unstable and led to repeated great power competition. It was bad for the majority of the people of the world and perhaps even more importantly, it was bad for the US because it made the world more dangerous. So imperialism had to go. Any student of international politics should study Breton Woods — look it up — as an amazing achievement by American leaders.Essentially the US forced the imperial powers to give up their oversea possessions, and completely redefine what it means to be a successful nation. It created international institutions such as the UN, the World Bank, the IMF, and GATT (which became WTO) to support an orderly management of international commerce. It offered secure transit across the world’s ocean for everyone using the US Navy, and permitted its allies almost unrestricted access to its domestic market.Finally, it bound key allied nations into security arrangement by offering protection against their enemies in exchange for supporting the US in its fight against “international Communism” - the Soviet Union.Many Europeans of today forget the fact that it was the fear of a strong Germany that led to steps to weaken it and this in turn led to the rise of Nazism in Germany. The US simply took away any need to think about security as it took that burden upon its own shoulders. This made EU possible. The reality is that EU was an American proposal.With these steps, it no longer made sense to conquer other people and subjugate them. Nations could now find a prosperous future for themselves through international commerce and obtain physical security by being allied to the US. The destruction of these empires resulted in the emergence of hundreds of new nations freed from their bondage. The list of newly independent nations is very long, but here are some significant nations that came out of this process: Iraq, Syria, Indonesia, and Nigeria.So what’s not to like?This arrangement is an inverse imperialism. It places the US into the role of being a powerful servant providing vital services, such as free trade and global security but not being able to use those powers to extract wealth and concessions from those being served because it abides by the same rules it imposed on the world. This is not an empire that anyone with an understanding of what an empire actually means would think as being an empire.For example, the US allowed nearly untrammeled competition from Japan against its own automotive, steel, consumer electronics industries.The Nixon administration did nothing when Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, and others obliterated its domestic consumer electronics industry. By the 1970’s, the giants such as RCA, GE, Marantz, Fisher, Philco, and Magnavox were all either sold off, or licensed away their brand to their foreign competitors and got out of the business.This is a strange kind of an empire. But it was justified on the grounds of winning the Cold War. US continued to provide security as a “public good” all around the world and assured economic health for billions by making sure that global trade had liquidity which required that the US run trade deficits with the rest of the world forever.But it also had benefits. Since US underwrote global prosperity its currency became the reserve currency of the world, and this gives the US enormous advantages. Also since the US provides security for many others it had the power of choice to decide when it was in its national interest to force regime change when it saw a national government getting too friendly with the opposite side - the Soviet Union. Some examples of this are Cuba, Chile, Greece, and Iran. This has left a lot of negative impression of the US with many accusations of imperialism.The US saw the Cold War as a titanic struggle for national survival and the destiny of mankind, and when compared to this undermining one of its moral principles, self-determination, was an easy compromise to make. As I explained earlier, when national interest and morality comes into conflict, I cannot think of any nation state that would not make the same tradeoff.Is that sufficient justification?Rather than judging based on moral standards, when there are no universal agreement on and sharp differences emerge as soon as we get into any detail, we should judge based on whether each of those actions resulted in a positive outcome for the world, for the US, and for the nation that suffered a forcible regime change attempt.If we judge based on policy outcomes, we will see that the record is quite spotty. Some regime change attempts succeeded, but resulted in poor outcomes for everyone (Iran). Some regime change attempts failed altogether creating an enduring enemy for the US (Cuba). And some regime change attempts had expensive costs for everyone (Iraq). Can we think of any forced regime change that turned out well? I think one could cite a few but even in these cases, there will be heated arguments and the collective memories of the people subject to this intrusion have never forgiven the US (Chile, Greece). And many others still wait for history to judge (Afghanistan, Yugoslavia).So where does this leave us?The Cold War has been over for almost 30 years now. Soviet Union has been gone yet the US has continued to provide the “public goods” of being the importer of last resort to undergird global prosperity and global guarantor of security that restrict rising regional powers such as China, Russia, and Iran from threatening their neighbors.Some Americans have argued that it is way past the time that US reduce its exposure and focus more within itself. I believe this trend resulted in the election of President Trump, and that this trend is irreversible. As time goes by, we will see the US continue to withdraw from the world and make many regional powers such as China and Russia extremely happy. It will show lower tolerance for what it sees as predatory trade practices, and play “hardball” to extract some benefits from security arrangements that do remain.I see many European Quora participants pillory the US for its actions, and believes that it can choose for itself its own destiny regardless of US national interests. The US has exercised its power in Europe with a very light touch. So light in fact that the people of EU appear to forget who is making the sacrifices for their peace and prosperity. They forget that nations cannot choose their own destinies if they are entirely dependent on another for its survival. The era of peace and prosperity that they enjoy after the end of WW2 was only made possible, and continues to be possible, with the willingness of the United States to grantee security for these ungrateful folks.The lack of cooperation with the US on policies involving China and Iran is a clear indication of problems. Some EU leaders fantasize about undermining the American led global order and wishes to create an alternative multi-polar world order. Multi-polar means multiple great powers competing for power and is exactly why the European created world order prior to WW2 was an abject failure: A world with two global wars with a global economic meltdown in between (The Great Depression). They are in fact undermining the foundation of their own security and prosperity by seeing itself in opposition to the US.This will have tragic consequences. The EU and the US are two pillars of the West, and they share values rooted in the Enlightenment. The shared values lead to trust and recognition of common interest and moral boundaries. I do not believe that US will ever threaten the EU, but I can see the two grow apart and become ever more estranged. The root cause is that two groups do not always share the exactly the same interests, and many EU citizens have failed to grasp the fundamental basis of their security and prosperity. This will result in weakening the survival of nations that believes in the principles born from the Enlightenment movement, and make the world safer for dictators and neo-imperialists.There is no question that US has forced regime change. If we are fair about American behavior, we see that American behavior after WW2 has never led to conquest of territories in order to build an empire. It could not wait to get out of Iraq and even now is anxiously looking for ways to get out of Afghanistan.But can such interventions be justified?Each attempt at forcible regime change was motivated by what the US saw as compelling national interest. Often these attempts have not resulted in a positive outcome for anyone. But they require no justification other than national interest as long as we live in a Hobbesian world. As a sovereign power in a Hobbesian world, the US government is legally answerable only to its own citizens. Naturally a wise leader should behave in predictable ways that promotes trust in its actions and intentions among its followers.Shared values and common interests across the Western nations allow for opportunities for joint action and decision making. But since the US is NOT running an empire, each member of such a coalition may decide to opt out. That is as it should be, but there is the ever present feeling that these fair weather friends are free loaders that enjoy the fruits of the dirty work of maintaining global order without sharing any of the burdens.Should the US be “allowed” to take such steps?Since there is complete absence of a higher authority other than the nation-states themselves, there is not anyone to ask permission from. The UN is a toothless talking shop and “international laws” are not worth the paper that they are written on unless there is someone willing to step up to enforce it. For those of you that pine for a greater rule based world order, the relative weakening of US power and the rise of regional rivals will make that even less practicable.Europeans in particular do not appear to grasp why a rule based order is possible to create the EU, but not across the world. The EU ultimately relies on enforcement of its authority that is based on American might, and relies on both shared values with Americans and American forbearance to create the space it needs to behave as an independent power. From the American perspective, Europeans are following their own self interest without regard to American interest even though it is plain for anyone with any sense to see that the EU exists only with American security guarantees. It is no wonder why Americans have started to wonder why do we bother with these folks.The world should understand that as many policy errors the Americans have made since the end of the WW2, the world has been on track toward a wealthier and safer place. However, as the US grows dissatisfied with its burden unappreciated by so many, this is coming to an end. This will lead to more wars, less security, and less prosperity for the world. All the while, Americans will watch from their safe homeland behind two great oceans. By then the world will look nostalgically to the present period as the “golden age” of global security and prosperity.Remember that the US does not live in a dangerous neighborhood. But if you live anywhere in the “Old World”, you probably do.

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