ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 10/07/2019

The New York Times – Stephen Erlanger & Stephen Castle / U.S.-British relationship sounding more testy than ‘special’

  • The tensions between the UK and the USA moved center stage in the prime minister contest Tuesday when the two contenders clashed over President Trump’s visceral attack on the British ambassador to the USA.
  • At the debate Tuesday, one of the candidates, Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, described Mr. Trump’s comments as “unacceptable.” Mr. Johnson, clear favorite and a fan of Mr. Trump declined to follow Mr. Hunt.
  • As the strange diplomatic spat heated up, the pound sterling neared a two-year low amid questions about what kind of support a post-Brexit Britain could now expect from this American administration.
  • Mr. Hunt challenged Mr. Johnson, saying he would resign as prime minister if he failed to extract Britain from the European Union by Oct. 31, as Mr. Johnson has promised. Mr. Johnson dodged that issue — and then tried to turn the tables, saying he admired Mr. Hunt’s ability “to change his mind.”
  • The Washington Post – Josh Rogin / British ambassador’s leaked cables are far from ‘bombshells’

Financial Times – Laura Pitel & Ian Bott / Why Turkey’s S-400 missile purchase angers the US

  • Turkey is expected to take delivery of the first shipment of a Russian S-400 Triumph air defense system in the following days, which totally defies increasingly vocal warnings from the USA.
  • The S-400 — or the SA-21 Growler, as it is known within the NATO defense alliance — is one of the world’s most advanced air defense systems, and has capacity to take out threats like drones or fighter jets. The main concern for NATO is that Turkey’s purchase will undermine common security.
  • American defense officials say the Russian military could use an S-400 stationed in Turkey to collect sensitive data about the fifth generation aircraft, which is due to form the backbone of NATO member states’ future air operations. 

The Economist / Costly climate measures are hard to sell, but the Netherlands has a plan

  • On June 28th the Dutch government released its national Climate Accord, the product of over a year of bargaining over how to meet the Netherlands’ targets for reducing carbon emissions. Under the Paris global climate agreement the country committed to cut its CO2 emissions by 49% by 2030 and by 95% by 2050. The question was how to do it, and who would pay.
  • The government convened negotiating groups in five sectors: electric power generation, the built environment, industry, agriculture and transport. Dutch heavy industry argued that forcing it to cut emissions sharply would simply raise costs.
  • Actually, the Netherlands has one of the worst records in Europe concerning carbon emissions, and in 2017, it puts 12 tons per person, more than Poland or Germany. Still, a poll in June found that support for government spending to reduce carbon emissions had declined to 38%, from 46% in March. Political parties bear much of the blame.
  • Per-kilometre charges for cars will be pushed back to 2026 at the earliest. Farmers will get €1bn to help buy energy-saving equipment. Mainly, costs will be shifted from consumers to industry: large enterprises will face a new carbon tax on top of what they already pay under the European Union’s emissions trading scheme.

Project Syndicate – Dani Rodrik / What’s driving populism?

  • Are Donald Trump’s presidency, Brexit, and the rise of right-wing nativist political parties in continental Europe the consequence of a deepening rift in values, or do they reflect many voters’ economic anxiety and insecurity, fueled by financial crises, austerity, and globalization?
  • Many versions of the cultural argument can be dismissed. Donald Trump has been accused of supporting racism, but racism has been an enduring feature of American society and, on its own, cannot tell us why Trump’s manipulation has been so popular.
  • Other experts defend cultural backlash. Older generations have become alienated from younger ones, richer, more educated and with secularistic views.
  • On the other side of the argument, economists have produced a number of studies that link political support for populists to economic shocks. Higher penetration of Chinese imports has been found to be implicated in support for Brexit in Britain and the rise of far-right nationalist parties in continental Europe.
  • The cultural and economic arguments may seem to be in tension, but reading between the lines, one can discern a type of convergence. Because the cultural trends are of a long-term nature, they do not fully account for the timing of the populist backlash.
  • Ultimately, the precise parsing of the causes behind the rise of authoritarian populism may be less important than the policy lessons to be drawn from it. There is little debate here. Economic remedies to inequality and insecurity are paramount.

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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