ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 11/09/2018

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The New York Times – Mark Landler / Bolton expands on his boss’s views, except on North Korea

  • On the same day that the White House welcomed a letter to President Trump from Kim Jong-un, proposing another meeting of the two leaders, US National Security Advisor John Bolton struck a markedly less optimistic tone, expressing frustration about Kim’s inaction regarding denuclearization.
  • In his first major public appearance since taking his job in April, Bolton announced the closing of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s office in Washington, arguing that the Palestinians had not shown good faith in trying to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel. The White House has yet to present its peace proposal, which Bolton said was still being refined.
  • Moreover, Bolton threatened the International Criminal Court with sanctions if it investigated American troops in Afghanistan. “We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States,” he added. “We will sanction their funds in the US financial system, and we will prosecute them in the US criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists in an ICC investigation of Americans.”

Foreign Affairs – Cheng Li / How China’s middle class views the trade war

  • Over the past few months, members of China’s middle class have been noticeably critical—especially in online public discourse—of the Chinese government’s economic and sociopolitical policies, including the way the leadership has handled relations with the US.
  • Xi’s strongman politics and Cultural Revolution-style personality cult have alienated members of the Chinese middle class. Middle-class enthusiasm for Xi conspicuously waned following his decision last spring to amend China’s constitution.
  • However, a severe escalation in the trade war could result in a sudden shift of blame to Washington. The Chinese media, which were more favorable of Trump than US outlets during the first year of his presidency, now largely attribute trade friction to a “crazy” and “greedy” American president.
  • Ultimately, Washington’s failure to distinguish the perspective of the Chinese Communist Party ruling elite from that of Chinese society more broadly risks undermining the effectiveness of US policy toward China.

Al-Monitor – AFP / Spain works to avoid row with Saudi Arabia over bomb deal

  • After blocking the sale of 400 bombs to Saudi Arabia, involved in the Yemen conflict, Spain now appears to be back-pedaling to maintain other lucrative contracts with the oil giant—such as a deal involving Spain’s state company Navantia to build five warships.
  • Many of the 6,000 jobs to be financed by the warship deal are in the southern region of Andalusia, a traditionally socialist heartland where snap elections are expected by the end of the year.
  • Eduard Soler, an analyst at the CIDOB international affairs think-tank, said any break in the relationship could endanger other contracts for Spain. Apart from the warship deal, Madrid has obtained contracts to build a high-speed railway linking Mecca and Medina, as well as the metro in Riyadh.
  • A law approved in Spain in 2007 allows for the repeal of deals if there are “rational signs” that defense equipment could be used “for internal repression or in violation of human rights.” On Monday, Amnesty International asked Madrid to stop supplying weapons to Riyadh.

Boston Globe – Niall Ferguson / ‘Steady state’ or ‘deep state,’ it’s all the same: bureaucracy as usual

  • Behind the shiny façade of a monarchy or a presidency, who really pulls the levers of power? The idea is an ancient one that there are two layers of power, one brightly visible, the other in the shadows.
  • The advance of democracy was supposed to do away with grey eminences by requiring that governments be elected by the people. Yet no amount of voting could rid our minds of the suspicion that real power was still being wielded behind the scenes.
  • The dichotomy between populist leadership and actual government—the so-called “steady state” — is far from a uniquely American phenomenon. The Italian government, for instance, “is a coalition between the left populists, the right populists, and the technocrats,” according to former Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Euractiv – Pavol Szalai / French analyst: ‘Nord Stream 2 won’t be built as planned’

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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