ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 08/11/2018

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Washington Post – Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky & Carol D. Leonnig / Sessions’s ouster throws future of special counsel probe into question

  • The future of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign was thrown into uncertainty Wednesday after President Trump ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
  • Trump named as acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, Sessions’s chief of staff, who as a legal commentator last year wrote that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III appeared to be taking his investigation too far.
  • As acting attorney general, Whitaker could sharply curtail Mueller’s authority, cut his budget or order him to cease lines of inquiry.
  • Within hours of his appointment, there were mounting calls by congressional Democrats and government watchdog groups for Whitaker to recuse himself, just like Sessions did. Whitaker has not been confirmed by the Senate and can serve for only 210 days before he must be replaced by someone who has been confirmed. That period could be extended if Trump nominates a replacement who is not immediately confirmed.
  • The New York Times – Derek Watkins, K. K. Rebecca Lai, Larry Buchanan & Karen Yourish / Sizing up the 2018 blue wave
  • Financial Times – John Burn-Murdoch & Aleksandra Wisniewska / US midterms: What we learnt from the election in five charts

Euractiv – Jorge Valero / Spain’s trade chief: China’s commitment to open its economy is ‘unquestionable’

  • Spain and China celebrate this year the 45th anniversary of their bilateral relations. The Spanish secretary of state for trade, Xiana Margarida Méndez, attended the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai. In order to continue strengthening the bilateral bond, Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to Madrid in the coming weeks.
  • “We are already seeing that Beijing is opening its markets. In the case of Spain, exports to China increased threefold over the past eight years. This is a fact. This process of opening up will take whatever time it may need, but it is happening,” said Margarida.
  • “Right now, we are optimistic because the trade tensions have decreased. We have to find common issues to work with the US in defending multilateralism and fair and transparent rules, as President XI mentioned during the opening of the CIIE,” added Margarida.

Foreign Policy – Robert Zaretsky / We are all Isaiah Berliners now

  • At his Houston rally on Oct. 22, Donald Trump got one of his loudest cheers when he brayed: “You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. OK? I’m a nationalist.” But what, precisely, does it mean to be a nationalist?
  • The best guide to our current encounter with nationalism happens to be celebrating its 40th birthday. In 1978, the renowned political theorist and historian of ideas Isaiah Berlin published “Nationalism: Past Neglect and Present Power.” Berlin referred to nationalism as “the most powerful, single movement at work in the world today.”
  • According to Berlin, nationalism claims that all human beings belong to particular groups whose way of life differ from one another. It portrays a given group as a kind of biological organism, one whose development and ends are primordial. It declares that the beliefs and principles of this group are to be privileged precisely because they are the group’s. And it holds that a group has the right to force other groups to yield should they come into conflict with it.
  • Berlin described nationalism as a “state of wounded consciousness,” one that lashes out at either its real or imagined enemies. At other times, though, he seemed to believe that nationalism, at least in the tolerant variation he associated with the philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, was not only inevitable but also valuable.
  • Ultimately, Berlin believed the cure to nationalism was more nationalism. Not, though, the closed and aggressive forms of political nationalism now simmering in the West, but the open and defensive nationalism embodied by Herder. This form of liberal or civic or constitutional nationalism, since taken up by thinkers such as Jürgen Habermas, insists on the existential importance of an individual identifying with a group defined by a common language and values. But it also insists on the existential danger of transforming this sense of belonging into the reflex of abominating other groups.

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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