EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 29/07/2020

Desescalada Madrid España - Foto gratis en Pixabay

Financial Times – Guy Chazan and Anna Gross / Europe battles to contain surge in Covid-19 cases

  • Public health officials are sounding the alarm over a resurgence of coronavirus cases in Europe as countries ease lockdowns and international travel ramps up with some experts warning citizens have become too complacent.
  • The increase is marked in countries such as Spain, while eastern Europe and the Balkans, which were largely spared the worst of the early pandemic, are seeing a steep increase in recorded cases.
  • Some governments are already taking measures to slow the spread. The UK has imposed quarantine on people returning from Spain, while Germany and France have ordered mandatory testing for travellers from high-risk areas.
  • Officials said the gradual lifting of restrictions on public life across the continent over the past couple of months had lulled people into a false sense of security: many were no longer observing strict hygiene rules, wearing masks in public and maintaining social distancing.
  • The Guardian – Angela Giuffrida / Italy ‘walking a fine line’ on coronavirus infections

The Economist / Najib Razak is convicted on seven charges in the 1MDB scandal

  • The $4.5bn that America’s Department of Justice says disappeared between 2009 and 2015 from 1MDB, a Malaysian sovereign-wealth fund, was not spent subtly. The spree attracted investigations in at least six countries.
  • On July 28th a court in Malaysia convicted Najib Razak, the former prime minister who co-founded and chaired the fund, of seven charges of abuse of power, breach of trust and money-laundering relating to the scandal.
  • The court sentenced him to 12 years in prison and fined him 210m ringgit ($49m). The verdicts come days after Goldman Sachs reached a settlement with Malaysian authorities related to its underwriting of three bond offerings which raised $6.5bn for 1MDB.
  • The criminal trial was the first of several facing Mr Najib (he denies any wrongdoing). The verdicts come at a febrile time for Malaysian politics. Mr Najib’s conviction on all seven charges was not widely expected.
  • The New York Times – Richard C. Paddock / Najib Razak, Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, found guilty in graft trial

Financial Times – Dan Senor / It is too soon to write off Donald Trump’s election chances

  • Can Donald Trump pull a rabbit out of the hat and win re-election as US president? Not according to most pundits, reflecting the widespread disapproval of his job performance. But don’t write him off yet.
  • Amid a pandemic, a recession, and a period of civil unrest, it would be difficult for any incumbent to win re-election — let alone one as polarising as Mr Trump. He trails Democrat Joe Biden by eight points in the average of national polls.
  • Political advisers in both campaigns agree that Mr Biden’s relative invisibility creates an opportunity for Mr Trump. The incumbent will seek to influence the way voters define his rival — using Mr Biden’s choice of a running mate as a wedge.
  • Mr Trump could also make gains if there were cautiously optimistic news from leading western vaccine candidates, particularly if he is seen trying to assist and offering regular updates on progress.
  • The Atlantic – Peter Nicholas / Don’t count Trump out

Foreign Policy – James Palmer / Oh God, not the Peloponnesian War again

  • Trump’s advisors are reportedly obsessed with ancient Greece, but they aren’t alone. The Peloponnesian War mesmerizes strategists and international relations scholars.
  • When it comes to ancient Greece and the U.S.-China relationship, the most prominent comparison is the “Thucydides Trap,” which uses the relationship between Athens and Sparta to draw an analogy between a rising China and the threat felt by the United States today.
  • But conflicts between city-states in a backwater Eurasian promontory 2,400 years ago are an unreliable guide to modern geopolitics—and they neglect a vast span of world history that may be far more relevant.
  • Historical analogies aren’t always relevant. As useful as the past’s lessons can be, the parallels drawn can say more about the priorities of the pundit than the messy realities of ancient empires that bore little resemblance to our own challenges.
  • South China Morning Post – Shi Jiangtao / China woos Asean neighbours in bid to avoid US-led coalition on its doorstep

Today’s further reading:

The EsadeGeo team wishes our readers a pleasant and healthy summer holiday. Your Daily Digest will be back on 1 September.

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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