ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 02/11/2018

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The Economist / Why the mid-terms matter

  • Toxic federal politics is America’s great weakness. It prevents action on pressing real issues, from immigration to welfare; it erodes Americans’ faith in their government and its institutions; and it dims the beacon of American democracy abroad.
  • Polarization is rampant in today’s America. Just 11% of strong Trump supporters believe the mainstream media, whereas 91% of them trust Trump, a CBS News poll found in the summer. Among Democrats those beliefs tend to be reversed.
  • Just as American politics did not sour overnight, so the route forward is by many small steps, beginning with next week’s midterm elections. And the first of those steps is for the House of Representatives, at a minimum, to switch to Democratic control.
  • Congress should hold hearings to investigate Trump’s behavior. But House Republicans have repeatedly failed to do this, neglecting their constitutional responsibility. For Democrats to win control of the House would, in fact, end up benefitting both parties. A House takeover would embolden the Democratic Party’s moderates. And defeat would encourage some Republicans to start putting forward a conservative alternative to Trumpism.

Project Syndicate – Harold James / Winter is coming to the UK

  • Theresa May’s “Chequers plan”, upon which she has based her Brexit negotiating strategy, is dead on arrival. It has been rejected not just by the EU and the opposition Labour Party, but also by enough Conservative MPs to ensure that it would fail a parliamentary vote.
  • While the current impasse could simply mean that May’s negotiating strategy was flawed, it also could mean that the underlying logic of Brexit is incoherent. Brexit is based on the belief that national sovereignty is the only rational basis for international order. A popular non-academic rendering of this “realist” doctrine can be found in the series “Game of Thrones.”
  • According to GOT-style realism, the EU makes no sense institutionally, because it is based on an impossible premise: the transcendence of nationalism and state interests. But Brexiteers forgot that the main political divides are within, not between, societies, and the prospect of an exit would most likely intensify them.
  • As the continental populists are learning, disengagement makes impossible demands of leaders. In the realist framework, a government must represent the country’s interests perfectly. But national interests in a pluralist democracy are subject to constant debate and disagreement.
  • May promised that she would lead a “strong and stable” government. But because she cannot rule as an autocrat, “strong and stable” is no longer an option, thanks to Brexit.
  • Bloomberg – Gavin Finch, Hayley Warren & Tim Coulter / The great Brexit banker exodus that wasn’t
  • Financial Times – Martin Wolf / A ‘no deal’ Brexit outcome would justify another referendum

Foreign Policy – Jon Wolfsthal / Trump is pushing the United States toward nuclear anarchy

  • America’s potential withdrawal from the INF Treaty suggests that the 2010 New START arms reduction treaty with Russia might be next. The last time the United States and Russia had to navigate a world without bilateral nuclear constraints was before 1972.
  • Should the United States follow through on its threat to precipitously pull out of the INF Treaty, Russia will continue to build and deploy intermediate-range missiles, and its treaty violation will be essentially absolved.
  • More than by Russia’s actions, the INF Treaty withdrawal appears to be predominantly motivated by a combination of anti-arms control voices and the military’s interest in developing new missiles to counter China’s missile capabilities.
  • But it is possible that, instead of deterring China, such a move would undermine the concept of strategic and crisis stability in East Asia and lead China to vastly increase its capabilities.
  • Brookings – Steven Pifer / RIP INF: The end of a landmark treaty

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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