Project Syndicate – George Soros / The AI threat to open societies
- The instruments of control that machine learning and artificial intelligence can produce are giving repressive regimes an inherent advantage. China, for example, is trying to consolidate all the available information about a person into a centralized database to create a “social credit system.”
- Last year, I still believed that China ought to be more deeply embedded in the institutions of global governance, but Xi’s behavior since then has changed my opinion. My view now is that instead of waging a trade war with practically the whole world, the US should focus on China; instead of letting ZTE and Huawei off lightly, it needs to crack down on them harshly.
- President Xi is the most dangerous opponent of those who believe in the concept of open society. But a new political elite has emerged that is willing to uphold the Confucian tradition of speaking out, and therefore Xi will continue to have opponents in China.
- If the decline in the Chinese economy and stock market is severe enough, the Chinese social contract between the party and the citizens may be undermined, and even the business community may end up opposing Xi.
Washington Post – Adam Taylor & Thomas Heath / Venezuela’s oil gives Maduro little leverage against the United States
- As tensions between the US and Venezuela escalate, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro would appear to have an obvious tool to push back against American pressure: oil. But Venezuela’s economic collapse has made it virtually impossible for Maduro to use oil exports as a diplomatic weapon.
- Shannon O’Neil, of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that stopping exports or other attempts at hitting back at the US economically would hit Venezuela much harder than the US. Energy markets seemed to agree on Thursday, with oil prices rising slightly.
- One potentially complicating matter is the fate of Citgo, a US-based refiner that has been majority-owned by Venezuela’s national oil company since 1990. According to Scott Modell, managing director of Rapidan Energy and former CIA officer in Latin America, there is debate in the US about whether the US government could seize the company itself.
- Some opposed this, arguing that Citgo should be an asset available for a post-Maduro Venezuela. “On the other hand, people see it as something that still is a revenue generator for Maduro,” said Modell.
The New York Times – Rob Nordland & Mujib Mashal / US and Taliban make headway in talks for withdrawal from Afghanistan
- American and Taliban negotiators are making headway on a deal in which the US would withdraw troops from Afghanistan in return for a pledge by the Taliban not to allow the country to host terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. The deal would also provide for a Taliban-supported cease-fire in Afghanistan and the release of some prisoners by both the US and the Taliban.
- Many of the details remain to be ironed out, including how many American troops would be pulled out and over what period of time. Moreover, the US seemed to be making concrete concessions in exchange for Taliban commitments that would be hard to enforce once American forces leave the country.
- “We need to be ready,” said Roland Kobia, the European Union’s special envoy for Afghanistan. Kobia said the EU had offered to play the role of a guarantor for the implementation of a future agreement.
- Underlying the Afghan concern about an American withdrawal is the conviction in many quarters that the Afghan military would struggle to stand against the Taliban without American military support.
The Guardian – Helena Smith / Angry Greeks take to the streets over deal to rename Macedonia
- MPs in Greece are preparing to ratify a historic pact that will allow its northern neighbor to change its name to “Republic of North Macedonia”. While a vote in favor of the agreement on Friday afternoon is considered highly likely, the atmosphere both in and outside Athens’s parliament was tense.
- Alexis Tsipras’s minority administration, which controls 145 MPs in the 300-seat house, needs the support of six opposition deputies to pass the draft bill into law. Tsipras is expected to receive the backing of enough centrists and Independent Greek party defectors.
- The Greek government had originally called the vote for Thursday night but was forced to delay it after parliamentarians across the board demanded to address the chamber.
- MPs from northern Greece who signaled they will vote in favor of the accord have received death threats. Successive surveys show around 70% of Greeks are opposed to the agreement.
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.