ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 09/07/2018

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Politico – Jack Blanchard & Emma Anderson / David Davis resigns as UK’s Brexit secretary

  • Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned late Sunday, creating the biggest crisis for British Prime Minister Theresa May since last year’s general election, and potentially opening the way for Brexiteers in the Conservative party to try to topple her leadership.
  • Davis’ resignation came amid criticism of the prime minister’s new Brexit plan after the Cabinet on Friday formally endorsed May’s idea for a new “UK-EU free trade area” and closely intertwined customs relationship with Brussels which, taken together, will form the backbone of Britain’s future relationship with the EU after Brexit.
  • Despite past disagreements with May, Davis said he had moved forward up until yesterday because at the time he still “considered it was still possible to deliver on the mandate of the referendum.” However, Davis added, “I am afraid that I think the current trend of policy and tactics is making that look less and less likely.”
  • May reiterated that she believed the Friday agreement was consistent with the “mandate” of the Brexit referendum, saying she disagreed with Davis’ characterization of the plan.

Financial Times – Henry Foy, Kathrin Hille & Demetri Sevastopulo / Trump-Putin face nuclear options at Helsinki summit

  • Asked last week what should be on the agenda of the upcoming summit between President Trump and President Putin, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, quickly replied: “Arms control, most definitely!” Jon Huntsman, US ambassador to Moscow, confirmed that would be a “prominent” issue on the agenda.
  • Both sides accuse each other of violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed by the US and the Soviet Union in 1987.  And the two sides have yet to begin any discussions on what to do when the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) expires in early 2021.
  • “We will have to make a decision on whether or not there be a re-upping for five years, as is written into the agreement — whether the New START agreement will actually be extended by another five years,” said Huntsman.
  • But merely extending old agreements might not be enough, according to experts who cite new threats such as cyber warfare and hypersonic weapons not currently covered. Others argue that Moscow and Washington must include other military powers, such as China, when setting new rules.

Project Syndicate – Joseph S. Nye / Is cyber the perfect weapon?

  • If Russian President Vladimir Putin sees his country as locked in a struggle with the US but is deterred from using high levels of force by the risk of nuclear war, then perhaps cyber is the “perfect weapon.”
  • That is the title of a new book by New York Times reporter David Sanger, who argues that beyond being “used to undermine more than banks, databases, and electrical grids,” cyberattacks “can be used to fray the civic threads that hold together democracy itself.”
  • The brilliance of the Russian innovation in information warfare has been to combine existing technologies with a degree of deniability that has remained just below the threshold of overt attack.
  • Countering this new weapon requires a strategy to organize a broad national response that includes all government agencies and emphasizes more effective deterrence. Diplomacy might also play a role. Even when the US and the Soviet Union were bitter ideological enemies during the Cold War, they were able to negotiate agreements.

South China Morning Post – Raissa Robles / Draft constitution proposes giving Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte sweeping powers that could let him rule indefinitely

  • The draft of a new Philippines constitution that was to be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday would grant him sweeping new powers – including rule by decree – that could allow him to stay in power indefinitely.
  • Christian Monsod, a framer of the current 1987 constitution, warned these were the same powers that Ferdinand Marcos gave himself with the 1973 constitution, wielding them to become president for life.
  • Duterte said last week that he would not seek a second term under the new constitution, as he sought to counter suspicions he might seek to thwart the Philippines’ single-term limit.
  • The draft charter would replace the 1987 Constitution with a Federal Republic of 18 federal regions, each with a governor, regional assembly and regional Supreme Court. The Federal Republic would still be presidential in character, with a bicameral congress.

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.  

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