ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 18/05/2017

POLITICO - P. Briançon / 4 takeaways on Emmanuel Macron’s first cabinet

  • Macron’s cabinet is made up of 11 men and 11 women.
  • Half of the cabinet are new to politics and have never held elected office before.
  • The cabinet is politically diverse and includes representatives from all political stripes apart from the National Front, although Macron does not expect his platform’s policies to become watered down as a result of this. In light of the Socialists’ meltdown, Macron’s goal is now to erode the Républicains.
  • The choice of the conservative Bruno Le Maire as Minister of Economy can be interpreted as a signal that Macron is serious about fiscal restraint.
  • The appointment of Hulot, an environmental activist, as environment minister seems designed to counter-balance Prime Minister Philippe’s stint as an executive at Areva, the nuclear plant builder.
  • This cabinet should be viewed as a transition team until the results of the parliamentary election. Meanwhile, Macron has hinted that a law on moralizing politics will be the first on the agenda.

Brookings – S. Maloney / On Iran’s Presidential election and the future of U.S.-Iran elections

  • There has been a change in the frame of reference for U.S. policy towards Iran.
  • Rather than using the nuclear deal as the driving impetus of U.S. policy, the Trump Administration has chosen to focus on containing Iran’s behaviour in the region.
  • Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia, which will address Iran, will initiate just as Iranians go to the polls.
  • If Raisi were to win, the nuclear deal would likely be eroded in the long term, and the U.S. would apply greater pressure on Iran (e.g., via sanctions, stepped up U.S. presence in the region, etc.).
  • Raisi would be a “gift” for Trump, as much as Ahmadinejad was a gift for George W. Bush.

Foreign Affairs – V. Sivaram & S. Saha / Power outage: cutting funding for energy innovation would be a grave mistake

  • If enacted (which is unlikely), Trump’s budget would strip the U.S. of its position as the world’s leading funder of innovative energy technologies.
  • There is no evidence for the argument that the market can compensate for a smaller public role in applied technology development. Fossil-fuel firms enjoy government subsidies and the advantages of long-standing market presences.
  • China understands this, and will seek to reinfoce its dominance in the clean energy sector. The only way that the U.S. could cut into China’s lead would be through public investment.
  • The cost-effective international programs of the Department of Energy may be the first to be slashed and, if that were the case, Washington’s diplomatic credibility would be damaged.
  • Even if Congress does not pass Trump’s budget, it may meet him halfway, which would still pose a risk.

Foreign Policy – R. Mellen / The Middle East just got its first particle accelerator

  • The Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) opened Tuesday in Amman, Jordan.
  • While it will operate as a larger research center, SESAME’s crown jewel is its synchrotron accelerator. It will be the world’s first accelerator powered solely by renewable energy.
  • SESAME has paired Israeli and Arab scientists working side by side. “There was never such a facility in the region until now, and this project is a scientific bridge between countries,” said Nasher Sawadi, a Jordanian physicist who plans to work at SESAME.
  • The $90 million facility, founded with UNESCO support, is built on the hope that its “diverse members [can] work together harmoniously,” said Chris Llewellyn Smith, President of the SESAME Council.



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