Global Instability May Unravel “Chainsaw” Milei’s Plans for Argentina

Any rational person analyzing the economic program initially announced by Argentina’s President-elect Javier Milei, the self-professed “anarcho-capitalist” who will take office on Dec. 10, would be appropriately horrified. To resolve the country’s profound economic problems — 140% inflation, 133% interest rate and 40% poverty — he vowed to impose the fascist austerity policies championed by Friedrich von Hayek of the Austrian school of economics, the same as those so brutally applied by the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (1973-80) and the military junta in Argentina (1976-83).

The chainsaw the Libertarian candidate carried around with him during campaign appearances symbolized his intention to destroy the “omnipresent” state, including by dismantling the social safety net and privatizing all state-run institutions and state-financed infrastructure projects. In the name of “freedom”, the federal budget is to be torn to shreds. “This is no time for gradualism, no time for weakness,” Milei said in a Nov. 20 speech, “the changes will be drastic”.

Milei’s foreign policy, as initially presented, will embrace the decaying unipolar world, making the U.S., Israel, and the nations of the “free world” his staunchest allies. According to his future Foreign Minister, neo-liberal economist Diana Mondino, Argentina will not join the BRICS, as it was scheduled on Jan. 1, 2024, which would have been a game-changer for the country. The BRICS offer “no benefit” to the country, she insists, and as Argentina will “open up” to the whole world, there’s no need to affiliate with one specific bloc.

But don’t make assumptions about the implementation of such measures. Under conditions of national and international instability, against the backdrop of a global financial meltdown, nothing is guaranteed. Even though London’s Economist issued its marching orders to Milei in a Nov. 20 editorial, it expressed doubt that he can quickly build a consensus for his policies to prevent Argentines from “taking to the streets.” Since his Nov. 19 victory, Milei has made so many changes in the composition of his cabinet that no one can keep track of them. He has already backtracked on his flagship campaign proposals to dollarize the economy and close the Central Bank, and has reversed his lunatic vow to break ties with “communist” Brazil and China, Argentina’s first and second most important trading partners.

One thing that did appear certain after the election was Milei’s alliance with the ever ambitious and calculating former neocon President Mauricio Macri (2015-2019) who threw the support of his PRO party to Milei after the first round of elections Oct.22 and succeeded in getting three of his own people named to the new cabinet, including former Finance Minister Luis Caputo in the same post. But there are visible tensions in the cabinet between Milei’s and Macri’s factions, so that the oft repeated phrase of “Milei to government and Macri in power” is by no means a given.

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