ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 18/01/2019

Image result for missile defence system us

The New York Times – David E. Sanger & William J. Broad / Trump vows to reinvent missile defenses, but offers incremental plans

  • US President Donald Trump vowed on Thursday to reinvigorate and reinvent American missile defenses. “Our goal is simple: to ensure that we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, any time, any place,” Trump said.
  • The Pentagon’s latest Missile Defense Review marks the first update to the policy since 2010, and its emphasis is on attacking enemy missiles “prior to launch,” rather than depending on intercepting them in space.
  • The Pentagon document is aimed largely at destroying small numbers of missiles launched by regional powers, rather than overwhelming strikes from Russia or China. Trump focused most of his specific warnings on Iran — a country that does not have nuclear capability or intercontinental ballistic missiles.
  • In the most contentious proposal, the report embraced Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars plan of putting weapons in space to shoot down enemy missiles during ascent. But the document was careful to describe the step as largely a research project — at least for now.

Al-Monitor – Laura Rozen / US assesses its Iran policy not working

  • The Trump administration conducted a preliminary internal assessment of its Iran “maximum pressure” policy this month and determined that it is not working, according to a new report by International Crisis Group (ICG).
  • “If you look at the range of ultimate objectives different people [in the administration] have in mind, from protests that pose an existential threat to the system, to change of behavior, to the Iranians coming back to the negotiating table, none of that is happening,” said Ali Vaez, of the ICG.
  • “The administration seems to me to have come to the conclusion that it needs to basically bring others on board for this campaign of pressure to become effective. And also to stop the UN from lifting the arms embargo in 2020 … But there is no way to stop the UN Security Council from lifting the embargo unless the JCPOA is dead,” added Vaez.
  • Some members of the Trump administration may be trying to provoke some kind of crisis between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran in order to get Iran to leave the deal, said former US Iran nuclear negotiator Richard Nephew. “Everyone [in the Trump administration] is upset that the Iranians keep being able to cite that the IAEA has said once again they are in full compliance,” said Nephew.

Financial Times – Alex Barker & Jim Pickard / Could the customs union help Theresa May break Brexit deadlock?

  • From the fire of Westminster’s Brexit crisis has emerged an alternative idea for an EU exit deal that might command majority House of Commons support: the permanent customs union.
  • Such an arrangement – which has been Labour’s formal position since late 2017 – would ditch hopes of the UK signing comprehensive trade deals with the rest of the world after Brexit. But leaving the single market would give Westminster more independence to set its own laws than the so-called Norway model.
  • However, Tory MPs have warned that if Prime Minister Theresa May accepted a permanent customs union it could prompt a split of historic proportions in the party.
  • While a deeper customs union could reduce checks and friction between the UK and the EU, it would not of itself permit an open land border between Ireland and the north. Special arrangements tying Northern Ireland to EU standards would still be needed. This could prompt the Democratic Unionist Party to pull the plug on May.

The Economist / Is Serbia still on course to join the European Union?

  • Days before a visit by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, ongoing protests in Serbia showed no sign of abating. The protests started after Borko Stefanovic, leader of a small leftist party, was coshed and kicked as he arrived for a meeting in the town of Krusevac. The perpetrators, he says, were thugs connected to a local businessman close to President Aleksandar Vucic’s ruling party.
  • Serbia is a front-runner to join the EU, whose leaders, says Stefanovic, indulge Vucic because they want the Balkans to remain stable and for him to clinch an agreement with Kosovo.
  • Ipsos monthly data show that 44% of Serbs think the country is heading in the right direction, whereas 33% think the opposite. If Vucic called an election, as he may, 65-75% are thought likely to vote for him or an allied party.
  • But Vucic’s critics accuse him of being authoritarian, and the opposition may boycott an election. A new parliament full of his supporters but without the bulk of the opposition represented would tarnish Serbia’s image as a rough but soon-to-be EU-ready democracy.
  • Euractiv / Putin calls for ‘stable Balkans’ during Serbia visit

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.  

Política Internacional | Permalink

ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 17/01/2019

Image result for house of commons may

Foreign Policy – Owen Matthews / Theresa May stays, but only in name

  • After her thin victory in yesterday’s vote of no confidence, British Prime Minister Theresa May remains in office—but not necessarily in power. May has announced that she will be reaching out to senior opposition figures to try to broker a compromise over her EU deal. However, that may be unfeasible.
  • The initiative has now passed to Jeremy Corbyn, should he wish to take it, but early signs are that the Labour leader isn’t eager to do so. The more profound reason for Corbyn’s reluctance to back a People’s Vote is “that he’s always been deeply skeptical about the EU,” said one former senior aide to ex-Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair. Corbyn is at risk of having his own hand forced by a backbench rebellion.
  • The Labour leadership have at least reached clarity on two key points. Corbyn has officially committed the party to opposing a no-deal Brexit, and to extending Article 50.
  • Corbyn and his top lieutenants have been hinting that they will continue to bring motions of no confidence in an attempt to chip away at May’s authority. Such a strategy might win them the general election that remains Labour’s chief stated strategic goal. But at the same time it risks allowing May’s government to run down the clock and scare a large enough cross-party section of moderate MPs into backing an amended deal.
  • The Guardian – Jennifer Rankin / What is the EU position on alternative Brexit options?

Financial Times – Kerin Hope / Alexis Tsipras wins confidence vote in Greek parliament

  • Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras narrowly won a parliamentary vote of confidence,
    days after his leftwing Syriza party lost the backing of its rightwing coalition partner over a deal to end the dispute surrounding the name of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.
  • Syriza scraped together 151 votes in the 300-member house after five opposition lawmakers broke ranks to cast votes for the government. The result opens the way for Greece to ratify the agreement in another parliamentary vote expected next week.
  • According to an opinion poll published on ProtoThema, a Greek news website, 69.6 per cent of voters oppose the agreement.
  • Greece rejected criticism from Russia this week that the naming deal is part of a western plot to draw Macedonia into NATO. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with a Serbian newspaper that the accord had been forced on Macedonia from “outside” and “against the popular will”.

Al-Monitor – Jack Detsch / Pentagon warns Middle East turning to China for drone needs

  • China has gained an advantage in the market for armed drone sales to the Middle East as more stringent export restrictions have held back US sales, a Pentagon intelligence report revealed this week.
  • While Chinese arms are typically “considered to be of lower quality and reliability,” they come with fewer political strings attached, such as end-use agreements that prevent the retransfer of weapons.
  • It’s not clear how worried the Pentagon is about the Chinese exports’ potential impact on the long-reaching US military supply chain to the region. The Chinese drones would be difficult to integrate with US-made command-and-control systems.
  •  “I think you can say, looking forward, there’s an open question whether the US transfers to these countries will increase given the Trump administration’s desire to combat Chinese involvement in these areas,” said Shannon Dick, a research associate at the Washington-based Stimson Center.

Project Syndicate – Dani Rodrik / Trump’s trade game

  • Trump’s trade-policy unilateralism is unprecedented in the post-war period. By the end of last year, he had raised tariffs on 12% of total US imports, causing trade partners to retaliate with levies on 8% of total US exports. On China, the Trump administration’s tough approach is supported by a broad coalition of US groups with distinct grievances.
  • Trump clinched one superficial victory in 2018, by concluding the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. In reality, the changes to the deal are relatively minor, and amount to a mixed bag of pluses and minuses.
  • Though Trump’s unilateralism and mercantilism are bad for the world economy, one should not exaggerate the adverse effects of his administration’s approach. If other countries do not overreact – and, so far, they have not – the consequences for world trade will remain manageable.
  • The deeper cost of Trump’s trade policies is that they will distract us from addressing real flaws in the global trade regime. When Trump was elected, more and more people started to acknowledge that hyper-globalization had left many people behind. The more outrageous Trump’s actions, the greater the risk that mainstream policy elites will rally behind the flawed ancien régime.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.  

Política Internacional | Permalink

ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 16/01/2019

Image result for theresa may

The Guardian – Peter Walker / How does a no-confidence motion work, and what’s next for May?

  • After Theresa May’s historic defeat yesterday over her Brexit deal, the Labour party tabled a no-confidence motion in the government, which will be debated today.
  • If Labour were to win (which will most likely not be the case) there would not be an immediate election; instead, there would be a period of 14 calendar days in which the government could seek to regain the confidence of MPs, or else another government could be formed.
  • If no government can gain the confidence of MPs, then parliament will be dissolved, with the standard 25 working-day gap needed before the election is held.
  • If May manages to survive the no-confidence motion, she said she will immediately start talks with both Tories and people in other parties “in a constructive spirit” to seek a deal that could win the support of the Commons.
  • The Guardian – Editorial / The Guardian view on May’s Brexit deal: it’s over, but what’s next?

Financial Times – Martin Wolf / Marking the euro at 20: the eurozone is doomed to succeed

  • As the Euro turns 20, we should reflect on a difficult experience that raises big questions. First, was it a sensible idea? The Euro has helped maintain the deep integration of the single market, but yoking together countries with such different economic institutions and behaviours was always risky.
  • The Euro has survived because the costs of break-up, or even departure by individual members, look terrifying. It has also done so because, in the depths of the crises, policymakers – in particular Mario Draghi and Angela Merkel – did enough to keep it alive.
  • Yet surviving is not the same as surviving well. Instead of generating convergence in living standards, the euro has allowed divergence. Inflation has been persistently too low, making adjustment of relative costs very difficult.
  • Will the Euro survive? The answer is likely to be: yes, although the eurozone is not and most likely will never be an “optimal currency union”. What is needed are changes aimed at creating a “good enough” union. If complacency sets in, the currency will not succeed — and might not even survive.

Project Syndicate – David Lubin / How US monetary policy has tamed China

  • The drift toward a more assertive Chinese foreign policy under Xi Jinping has been evident. But recently there have been signs that China might be having second thoughts about its ability to keep “striving for achievement” (Xi’s foreign-policy slogan).
  • An easy explanation for the latest Chinese shift toward retrenchment is President Trump, who has applied his own brand of assertiveness to the US-China relationship, with the apparent support of the entire American political class and much of Europe’s, too.
  • But China’s current caution also owes much to the fragility of its economic performance. The progressive tightening of US monetary conditions over the past five years – which has caused the China-US interest differential to narrow – has undeniably helped to suck dollars away from China, causing the country to lose reserves and self-confidence.
  • The next time Trump feels like excoriating Fed Chairman Jerome Powell for tightening monetary policy too quickly, he might pause to consider the role that higher US rates and a stronger dollar have played in taming China. A dovish Fed is a gift to Beijing.

Foreign Policy – Keith Johnson / Club Med: Israel, Egypt, and others form new natural gas group

  • Countries around the Eastern Mediterranean took a potentially important step toward realizing their dreams of boosting energy production with the creation Monday of a forum joining Israel, Egypt, Cyprus, and other neighbours to develop their new natural gas discoveries.
  • The Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum has notable absences, including Syria, Lebanon, and especially Turkey. Ankara’s repeated opposition to energy exploration off the coast of Cyprus, which Turkey views as disputed waters, has cast a cloud over the development of natural gas discoveries in the region.
  • Even with the creation of the new organization and increased energy exploration, the Eastern Mediterranean has a long way to go to truly become the kind of energy hub that many in the region and in Brussels hope to see (as an alternative to importing gas from Russia).
  • Grandiose plans, such as a pipeline snaking across to southern Europe via Crete, keep colliding with political and economic realities. Liquefied natural gas costs a lot more than natural gas shipped through a pipeline, and Russian gas is especially cheap. That explains why Europe’s dependence on Russian energy is actually growing.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.  

Política Internacional | Permalink

ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 15/01/2019

Image result for juncker

Project Syndicate – Jean-Claude Juncker / The world needs Europe

  • In these increasingly tumultuous times, the EU can provide the stability and hope that the world so desperately needs. I believe we owe it to generations past, present, and future to fight unchecked nationalism with all our might.
  • That means getting our own house in order, particularly on the economic front. Fighting nationalism at home means taking our destiny into our own hands. And yet, in a globalized world, Europe cannot secure its interests and values by itself.
  • Now is the time to offer responsible global leadership. Our brand of leadership is not about putting “Europe First.” Rather, it is about being the first to answer the call for leadership when it matters.
  • Looking ahead, our task is to strengthen this European sovereignty even further. That means speaking with one voice, sticking to our values, and delivering for our citizens ahead of the European Parliament election in May 2019.

Financial Times – The editorial board / The impact of China’s slowdown is spreading

  • The warnings coming from some leading companies are a sign of the deepening economic distress in the world’s second-largest economy, and that this will have a far bigger external impact in the coming year than it did in 2018.
  • China’s benchmark stock market indices were the worst performing of any major economy last year, losing about a quarter of their value. Now that China’s slowdown has spread from capital markets to the real economy, the external impact will be much greater.
  • It is tempting to blame Donald Trump’s trade war for the disappointing data. But the trade war is merely a trigger that has exposed a much deeper malaise in the Chinese economy.
  • Despite more than a decade of efforts to rebalance the economy and wean itself off the stimulus introduced in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, China remains addicted to ever-higher levels of debt and construction. And if demography is destiny, China’s prospects are bleak.
  • The prospects for real reform of this kind are improved by two factors. The first is the current slowdown itself: Reforms during good times are difficult to enact. Second is the trade war with America: The demands of an external force are often a useful tool in pushing change.

The Guardian – Heather Stewart, Jessica Elgot & Dan Sabbagh / May faces crushing Brexit defeat despite last-minute plea to MPs

  • Theresa May appears to be on course for a crushing defeat in the House of Commons as Britain’s bitterly divided MPs prepare to give their verdict on her Brexit deal today.
  • The House of Lords had its own vote on the government’s Brexit deal on Monday evening, rejecting it by a thumping 321 votes to 152.
  • Labour sources said that unless May made major unexpected concessions, any substantial margin against her would lead Jeremy Corbyn to call for a vote of no confidence in the government – perhaps as soon as Tuesday night.
  • A Labour source said MPs “won’t have to wait very long” for a confidence vote, but that should the vote be lost, it would not mean an immediate endorsement to campaign for a second referendum.
  • There is growing speculation at Westminster that whichever course May pursues, she will be forced to announce that she will ask the EU27 to extend article 50. The prime minister refused to rule out doing so categorically on Monday.

Foreign Policy – Florian Bieber & Wondemagegn Tadesse Goshu / Don’t let Ethiopia become the next Yugoslavia

  • Within a few shorts months, Ethiopia has witnessed an extremely positive transformation under the new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed. Yet this unprecedented and rapid change comes against a more disconcerting backdrop of unrest.
  • In this transformation, ethnic conflicts might increase in intensity and number, both as a result of a backlash by conservative forces rejecting the rapid reforms or due to the sudden liberalization of the public space. These conflicts might in turn precipitate ill-conceived moves, including secession.
  • Ethiopia’s political system today has strong parallels with that of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. After the death of Josip Broz Tito in 1980, the League of Communists relaxed its rule in large parts of Yugoslavia, leading to great media freedom, public debates, and economic reforms—but also rising nationalism.
  • The Yugoslav scenario is not destined to repeat in Ethiopia – indeed, some differences between the two countries work in Ethiopia’s favor, and the international context is more positive – but it offers a cautionary tale: During moments of political liberalization, ethnonational federal systems are particularly combustible.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

Política Internacional | Permalink

ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 14/01/2019

Image result for taxes

Financial Times – Alex Barker / Brussels pushes to scrap national vetoes on taxation

  • Brussels will this week propose extending majority voting to all EU tax policies by the end of 2020.
  • “For the commission, the question is no longer whether there is a need to move away from unanimity in taxation, but rather how and when to do it,” states a paper that will be issued by the European Commission this week, which outlines a “road map” to gradually phase out tax vetoes.
  • The paper argues that “tax competition” within the EU, while “not in itself a bad thing”, has distorted the choices available to national governments, forcing them to undertax footloose cross-border industries, while overtaxing less mobile areas such as labour income and consumption.
  • However, given the deepest objections to ceding more sovereignty among many member states, diplomats say the initiative has a slim chance of adoption, at best.

The New York Times – Eric Schmitt & Mark Landler / Pentagon officials fear Bolton’s actions increase risk of clash with Iran

  • At the direction of National Security Advisor John Bolton, the National Security Council asked the Pentagon last year to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran, Defense Department and senior American officials said on Sunday.
  • The request, which alarmed then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other Pentagon officials, came after Iranian-backed militants fired three mortars or rockets into an empty lot on the grounds of the US Embassy in Baghdad in September.
  • With Secretary of State Mike Pompeo overseeing the nuclear negotiations with North Korea and taking a prominent role on China policy, Bolton has made Iran the heart of his focus as national security adviser.
  • The news of Bolton’s effort to find a way to strike back at Iran comes as evidence is rising that Tehran is considering — or at least threatening — to leave the nuclear agreement.

Deutsche Welle / US Ambassador Richard Grenell threatens German firms over Russian pipeline

  • German companies building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Germany and Russia received letters from US Ambassador Richard Grenell warning them of “a significant risk of sanctions” if they did not pull out of the project, according to Bild am Sonntag.
  • “We emphasize that companies involved in Russian energy exports are taking part in something that could prompt a significant risk of sanctions,” the ambassador wrote.
  • The paper also quoted a Grenell spokesman who said that the letter should not be seen as a threat, but as a “clear message of US policy.”
  • Grenell had already managed to prompt irritation in Berlin on the day of he took office in May 2018 by tweeting that “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.”

Euractiv – Frédéric Simon / China seen as ‘absolute winner’ of clean energy transition

  • A study led by the former President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, was presented in Abu Dhabi by the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, an independent initiative launched one year ago under the auspices of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
  • Fossil fuel exporting countries like Russia and Arab nations in the Middle East will be “strongly challenged” by the transition while others like China will be the “absolute winner, if not world leader,” said Grímsson as he presented the report.
  • The EU and Japan stand among the likely winners as well, as both are very dependent on fossil fuel imports and hold strong positions in renewable technologies.
  • Aside from greater energy independence and prosperity, benefits of the transition include improved food and water security, with some countries leapfrogging fossil fuels-based technologies to adopt renewables like solar and wind. Overall, “the number of energy-related conflicts is likely to fall,” the report predicts.
  • Despite some challenges — a rapid shift away from fossil fuels could create a financial shock, and destroy jobs in old fossil fuel industries like coal — the report is firmly positive about the transition, which “will ultimately move the world in the right direction.”

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

Política Internacional | Permalink

ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 11/01/2019

Image result for pompeo

The New York Times – Declan Walsh & David E. Sanger / Pompeo speech lays out vision for Mideast, taking shots at Obama

  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out his vision for America’s role in the Middle East on Thursday, telling a university audience in Cairo that “the age of self-inflicted American shame is over” and that the US would pursue a more activist policy.
  • Pompeo’s prescription was short on specifics, beyond bolstering alliances with Arab autocrats loyal to Washington. Nor did he mention human rights. Instead he painted a picture of a Middle East cast into chaos by President Barack Obama, and that can only be rescued by crushing Iran.
  • Pompeo vowed to “expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria, where President Trump had said his only reason for remaining was defeating the Islamic State. Asked to reconcile these apparent contradictions, Pompeo said: “There’s no contradiction whatsoever. This is a story made up by the media.”
  • Later that afternoon, Pompeo declared that “when America retreats, chaos follows.” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to twitter to counter this claim, saying that, “Whenever/wherever US interferes, chaos, repression and resentment follow.”

Al-Monitor – Mohammad Ali Shabani / Iran national security adviser says Europe missed chance to save nuclear deal

  • The logic behind Iran’s continued compliance with its obligations under the nuclear deal (JCPOA) has been based on two pillars: that strategic patience will pit Europe against the US and that waiting out Trump is thus the best option. But this logic is becoming increasingly challenged.
  • Europe has shown itself to cower in the face of US pressure. Most major European companies have left Iran, the promised special purpose vehicle (SPV) to facilitate trade with Iran remains a theoretical concept.
  • “The Europeans’ opportunity to execute their commitments to our country under the JCPOA, and particularly [with reference to] the special financial channel, has ended,” said the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Shamkhani.
  • A possible shift on the part of Shamkhani may alter the power balance within the SNSC, with potentially disastrous consequences for the nuclear deal — including its remaining signatories.
  • However, some analysts posit that Iran’s departure from the JCPOA is unlikely simply on the basis that its other options are worse than continued compliance with the accord.

The Guardian – Tom Phillips / Maduro starts new Venezuela term by accusing US of imperialist ‘world war’

  • The Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, has castigated the EU and accused Washington of waging an imperialist “world war” against his nation, as he shrugged off a tempest of international condemnation to begin his second term in office, which is due to last six years.
  • The EU called last year’s vote “neither free, nor fair”, and said Maduro was “starting a new mandate on the basis of non-democratic elections”. Mike Pompeo, for his part, condemned Maduro’s “illegitimate usurpation of power”.
  • Latin American governments also denounced the inauguration, with Paraguay breaking off diplomatic ties and Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, branding Maduro “the victimizer who plays victim”.
  • “I want a new start for the Bolivarian Revolution … I want us to correct the many mistakes we have committed,” Maduro said, calling corrupt chavistas a greater threat than US imperialism.

Euractiv – Gerardo Fortuna / Five Star Movement unveils plan to form EU Parliament group

  • Brexit will take UKIP out of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) parliamentary group, where Five Star Movement MEPs are currently sitting. And it’s not clear whether the EFDD will survive after the May European elections, leaving the Five Star Movement looking for new potential allies.
  • Although environmental protection is considered as a core campaign topic for the Five Star Movement in the run-up to the next EU parliamentary term, the European Greens have so far kept the door shut to a formal alliance with the Five Star Movement.
  • The leader of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, is thus meeting with other European parties the purpose of bringing them in for to a future political group to be formed in the European Parliament after the elections.
  • Promoting direct democracy and reducing overspending in politics are among the priorities that the new political group will look to promote in a manifesto to be published in the run-up to the 2019 European elections.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

Política Internacional | Permalink

ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 10/01/2019

Image result for ballot box democracy

The Economist / The retreat of global democracy stopped in 2018

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index rates 167 countries by 60 indicators across five broad categories: electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture and civil liberties.
  • The index is stricter than most similar indices: it concludes that just 4.5% of the world’s people live in a “full democracy”. However, the overall global score remained stable in 2018 for the first time in three years.
  • Political participation improved more than any other measure on the EIU’s index. This is true even in advanced democracies such as the US, where voters are highly disgruntled.
  • Parts of Europe are suffering from a democratic malaise, with Italy falling from 21st to 33rd in the rankings. Turkey’s score declined for the sixth year in a row, and Russia’s deteriorated for the tenth year in a row.

Financial Times – The Editorial Board / A new president and new role for the World Bank

  • Absurdly, given the shifts of power in the global economy, the rich world maintains a reciprocal stitch-up: the World Bank presidency goes to an American, whereas the managing director of the International Monetary Fund is always a European.
  • Following Jim Yong Kim’s resignation as World Bank president, the fix will probably continue. It should not. Another president lacking broad-based political legitimacy would continue to weaken the credibility of an institution whose development function is being eroded year by year.
  • The bank will require a president with the clout to persuade member governments to shift financing towards the provision of global public goods such as managing water, combating pandemics, maintaining biodiversity and addressing the development impacts of migration and refugee crises.
  • The World Bank should also be able to maneuver in a new world where regional institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank have increasing influence. Moreover, in a possibly protracted economic or strategic hostility with China, it must not be seen to be taking the American side.

Project Syndicate – Gordon Brown / Globalization at a crossroads

  • It is already clear that the 2008-2018 decade marked an epochal shift in the balance of economic power. Unless the West can find a way to uphold multilateralism in an increasingly multipolar world, China will continue to develop alternative financial and governance institutions.
  • While President Trump at least detects the growing threat to American supremacy, he has ignored the most obvious strategy for responding to it: namely, a united front with US allies and partners around the world.
  • There is a deep irony here. When America actually did preside over a unipolar world, it generally preferred to act through multilateral institutions. But now that the world is becoming more multipolar, the Trump administration is going it alone.
  • There is yet another paradox. Discontent over globalization has brought a new wave of protectionism and unilateralism, but addressing the sources of that discontent can only be accomplished through cooperation.
  • Yet we must hold out hope. The Cold War lasted four agonizing decades, not least because the Soviet Union refused to acknowledge the value of markets and private property, and eschewed contact with the West. The same cannot be said for China today.

The Guardian – Jason Burke / Congo election: opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi declared surprise winner

  • Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s main opposition party, has been declared the surprise winner of the 30 December presidential election in the vast central African country. The result means the first electoral transfer of power in 59 years of independence in the DRC.
  • The outcome will come as a shock to many observers who believed authorities would ensure that Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, hand-picked by outgoing president Joseph Kabila to succeed him, would be the victor in the elections.
  • Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, one of Kabila’s top advisers, said he accepted the loss. However, opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, who had a healthy lead in the pre-election polls, immediately rejected the result.
  • Domestic election observers say they witnessed serious irregularities on election day and during vote tallying, although a regional observer mission said the election went “relatively well”.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

 

 

Política Internacional | Permalink