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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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 09/07/2019

Euractiv – Georgi Gotev / Chizhov: Washington chose to act unilaterally to abrogate nuclear arms treaty (interview with Vladimir Chizhov, Russian ambassador to the EU)

  • “We had ample evidence of US violations. But instead of sitting together and discussing a possible way out, Washington chose to act unilaterally and abrogate the [INF] Treaty … If INF becomes history, then we would be left only with the sole remaining strategic offensive weapons treaty [New START], which expires in less than 2 years … If nothing happens by February 2021, then the world will become a less safer place.”
  • “From many aspects it appears to be the case [that Emmanuel Macron was the winner of the recent EU summit]. He was very vocal against the Spitzenkandidat system, which was dropped and might not reappear again … Of course the EU is not a state, it’s not even a confederation, ultimately important solutions rest with member states, which does not mean that we should neglect the EU institutions.”
  • “The new [Ukranian] President has yet to produce a concise platform of his own … Before the elections he said his main goal was to achieve peace, and that he was prepared to talk to leaders of the two self-proclaimed Donbass republics. Now he says he won’t.”
  • “[Turkish Stream] will go either to Bulgaria or Greece. Or both, provided the route is cleared by the European Commission … The problem, as we all know, is not Bulgaria, but Ukraine. By the way this doesn’t mean we intend to cut Ukrainian transit completely, as some of our partners, for example Moldova, depend on it. More generally, our predictions are that for next decades consumption of gas in EU will continue to grow, also because the EU’s own production will fall.”

Financial Times – Gideon Rachman / Xi Jinping faces his moment of truth in Hong Kong

  • The mass demonstrations that are taking place on the streets of Hong Kong represent the biggest challenge to the Chinese Communist party since the Tiananmen uprising of 1989. Ordinary Hong Kongers have no desire to live in an authoritarian one-party state.
  • For President Xi Jinping, the ultimate danger is that the contagion of dissent spreads from Hong Kong to the mainland. The demonstrations are already being portrayed in China as whipped up by the west. And the demonstrators themselves will be depicted as unpatriotic and violent.
  • But framing the Hong Kong issue as a question of national pride creates its own dangers for Xi. It means that any setback there could be perceived as a national humiliation. Rather than being the leader who wins back Taiwan (as he hopes), Xi would risk becoming known as the man who lost Hong Kong.
  • If the demonstrations continue, the alternative to reform is repression. That is also a dangerous path. Nonetheless, everything we know about Xi suggests that he will ultimately use force rather than tolerate a persistent challenge to the authority of the Communist party.

The Economist / If capitalism is broken, maybe it’s fixable (interview with Joseph Stiglitz)

  • “Since Trump … the splits between the [two main US] parties have grown ever larger, with the Republicans arguing for policies that would increase inequality and slow growth, as they increase the profits and power of corporations and further eviscerate that of workers and ordinary consumers.”
  • “[What we need is] a new social contract, a new balance between the market, the state and civil society, based on what I call ‘progressive capitalism’. It channels the power of the market and creative entrepreneurship to enhance the well-being of society more generally.”
  • “[Progressive capitalism] entails increased government investment in technology, education and infrastructure—advances in science and technology and our ability to cooperate at scale … [And] with climate change providing an existential threat, both public programs and regulations have to be directed at creating a green economy.”
  • “There is something distinctly un-American about our un-level playing field … Polls show that the vast majority of Americans support the policy positions which I advance in the book, and they want a restoration of true democracy.”

Politico – Judith Mischke / Berlin rejects US call for ground troops in Syria

  • The German government said yesterday it had no plans to send ground troops to Syria, responding to US calls for it to step up its military involvement in the fight against the Islamic State.
  • “We want ground troops from Germany to partially replace our soldiers” in Northern Syria, said US Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey, with reference to Washington’s recent plans to partly withdraw from the region.
  • Any sort of change in Germany’s military mandate would require approval by the Bundestag. The current mandate for Germany’s participation in Syria runs out on October 31.
  • Some 80 countries are currently involved in the anti-ISIS coalition, with Germany contributing Tornado reconnaissance jets, a refueling aircraft and military trainers stationed in Iraq.

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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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 08/07/2019

Euractiv / Four things we learned from the Greek election

  • Greece’s conservative New Democracy party returned to power after over four years in opposition, ousting leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Kyriakos Mitsotakis will become the latest in a long line of Greek prime ministers stepping into a post once held by their father.
  • The country’s political scene seems to be reverting to the two-horse race of old, with the leftist Syriza party of defeated PM Alexis Tsipras replacing the once-mighty socialist Pasok party as the main foil for the conservative New Democracy party of Mitsotakis.
  • Together, New Democracy and Syriza on Sunday combined had over 70% of the vote, numbers not seen since 2009. In the 2012 election, at the height of the financial crisis, the two leading parties combined for less than 36%.
  • In the first midsummer Greek election since 1928, abstention was around 42%, a result consistent with steadily falling voter turnout this past decade.
  • BBC / Greece elections: Centre-right regains power under Kyriakos Mitsotakis
  • Washington Post – Demetris Nellas / Far-right Greek party crashes out of Parliament

The Guardian – Hossein Mousavian / Iran didn’t ask for this crisis, but it won’t stand for Trump’s bullying

  • The reemergence of hostility between Iran and the US is one of the most urgent challenges to peace and security in the Middle East. By sanctioning Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Trump has effectively killed off any chance of diplomatic rapprochement so long as he is in office.
  • Sanctioning Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, is also a mistake. As Wendy Sherman, the US chief negotiator in the talks that led to the 2015 accord, put it: “I can’t think of anything that makes less sense than sanctioning a key person who might actually be helpful if there is ever a dialogue with the US.”
  • Iran has already begun to reduce its obligations under the nuclear deal. It is crucial to note that this is the first time Iran has contravened the deal. Iran cannot be expected to fully comply with it when others are failing to meet their obligations.
  • Trump has consistently offered to talk to Iranian officials, but his actions have been by far the most belligerent since the 1979 revolution. Iran will never give in to bullying. If Trump wants to resolve this crisis, he needs to make a swift strategic turnaround, one that would allow both countries to save face.
  • The New York Times – David D. Kirkpatrick & David E. Sanger / Iran announces new breach of nuclear deal limits and threatens further violations
  • The Atlantic – Thomas Wright / Trump couldn’t ignore the contradictions of his foreign policy any longer

Financial Times – Martin Sandbu / Europe uses trade deals to push for climate change action

  • The recent trade deals with Vietnam and the Mercosur have allowed the EU to show off as the defender of the multilateral order amid Washington’s protectionist turn and Beijing’s increasing assertiveness. But EU trade policy aims further than mere market opening.
  • The “very rules-heavy” deals allow the EU to “promote its model of international governance” by exporting its regulatory standards, says Iana Dreyer, founder of Borderlex, a news site for EU trade policy. Brussels has been keen on including provisions related to labor rights and the environment.
  • “Trade agreements are enormously beneficial and thus can be used as carrots,” says Bård Harstad, an economics professor. In other words, trade concessions can be used as “the currency” with which environmental commitments are secured.
  • To be sure, the sustainable development provisions are excluded from the enforcement and sanctions that govern breaches of the trade policy. But Dreyer argues that the new-style free trade agreements allow for political pressure, which can shame partners into compliance.

South China Morning Post – Tom Holland / One country is winning the trade war. It’s not the US and it’s not China

  • In the year since Trump opened hostilities against China, the overall US trade deficit has grown considerably faster than the US economy. So it can hardly be said that the US is winning its trade war. On balance it rather appears to be losing.
  • Meanwhile, Chinese companies have been harmed by Washington’s attempts to prevent them acquiring high-end US technologies. Moreover, the threat of a US-driven shutdown in the future will deter some third-party countries from using Chinese kit. In this sense, China, too, is a loser in the trade war.
  • But the US and China are by no means the biggest losers. With Chinese and Asian demand for European capital goods and luxuries hit hard by trade war uncertainties, the euro zone’s growth rate collapsed by more than half over the 12 months to March.
  • Some economies do appear to have come out ahead. Foremost among them is Vietnam, whose exports to the US have skyrocketed. But it isn’t all good news for Vietnam. For instance, the US government has cracked down on transshipments of steel products through Vietnam to the US in order to avoid US tariffs.

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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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 05/07/2019

The New York Times – Paul Krugman / Trump is losing his trade wars

  • Donald Trump isn’t winning his trade wars. True, his tariffs have hurt China and other foreign economies. But they’ve hurt America too; economists at the New York Fed estimate that the average household will end up paying more than $1,000 a year in higher prices.
  • Moreover, there’s no hint that the tariffs are achieving Trump’s presumed goal, which is to pressure other countries into making significant policy changes. In particular, the idea that China of all nations will agree to a deal that looks like a humiliating capitulation to America is just crazy.
  • In addition, when you tax goods assembled in China but with many of the components from Korea or Japan, assembly doesn’t shift to America, it just moves to other Asian countries like Vietnam.
  • Finally, Trump’s trade war is unpopular, and so is he. This leaves him politically vulnerable to foreign retaliation. Trump’s vision of an easy trade victory is turning into a political war of attrition that he, personally, is probably less able to sustain than China’s leadership.
  • Washington Post – Peter Jamison, Samantha Schmidt, Hannah Natanson & Steve Hendrix / Trump’s Fourth of July celebration thrills supporters, angers opponents

Politico – David Patrikarakos / Greece’s Trojan Trump

  • In a country strafed by austerity and poverty, the expected victory by Kyriakos Mitsotakis (the leader of the nominally center-right New Democracy party) in Sunday’s Greek general election has been widely portrayed as a return to normal for Greek politics. That may not be the case.
  • New Democracy’s leader may be a moderate centrist; the rest of the party is anything but. If Greek voters reject Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ “radical left” Syriza party in favor of Mitsotakis’ — as polls widely expect them to — they’ll be exchanging one set of populist politicians for another.
  • Mitsotakis owes his very election to the leadership to New Democracy’s hard-right faction — led by former prime minister and party leader Antonis Samaras, and Adonis Georgiadis, its vice president and a former minister of health in Samaras’ government.
  • New Democracy is surging to victory on the back of its opposition to the 2018 Prespes Agreement between Greece and North Macedonia. “Since [New Democracy] could not oppose implementing the memorandum [the agreement between Athens and its creditors], it had to oppose Syriza’s policies on matters like human rights and so called ‘national issues,’” said journalist Augustine Zenakos.

The Economist / A change of direction under Christine Lagarde is unlikely

  • Christine Lagarde will bring solid political and communication skills to the European Central Bank. But when combined with other recent changes at the top, her nomination means that the bank loses technical expertise even as threats to the economy loom.
  • Fortunately, Lagarde is admired for her willingness to listen to a variety of opinions, and her consensus-building ability. Lagarde’s comments over the years suggest that she will steer broadly the same course as Mario Draghi. She supported his pledge to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the euro and was an early advocate of quantitative easing.
  • However, whereas Lagarde’s role at the fund is broad, her new job is narrower, and more technical. Draghi may have been able to make bold policy calls because he understood markets and economics so well.
  • When Lagarde starts in November, the ECB board will have as many lawyers as economists. Philip Lane, the chief economist and a former academic, may find himself deploying a powerful hand on the tiller.
  • Euractiv / EU socialists play hard-ball over Commission chief nominee

The New York Times – Declan Walsh / Sudan power-sharing deal reached by military and civilian leaders

  • Sudan’s military and civilian leaders announced on Friday that they had reached an agreement to share power until elections, promising an end to the standoff that has paralyzed the African country since the ouster of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April.
  • The two sides have agreed to form a joint military-civilian authority to run Sudan during an interim period of just over three years, a senior protest leader said. Power will rotate between military and civilian leaders during the transitional period, a mediator from the African Union said. Then, elections are to be held and the military is to return to its barracks, ushering in democratic rule.
  • The two sides also agreed to open what they said was an independent investigation into the violence that began on June 3 when military forces cracked down on protesters, which has led to at least 128 deaths, according to the protesters. The government admitted 61 deaths.

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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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 04/07/2019

Politico – Nathalie Tocci / Get ready for a strong EU

  • The nomination of Ursula von der Leyen at the helm of the European Commission and Josep Borrell as the EU’s foreign policy chief is good news for those wanting to beef up Brussels’ role in the world.
  • That Merkel’s deal fell through is a shame in many ways, especially for supporters of the Spitzenkandidat process for choosing the Commission president. The process should be reformed, through the introduction of transnational lists and more ambitious mechanisms for the selection of the candidates.
  • But there’s a clear silver lining. Von der Leyen’s foreign policy credentials are very strong. She has even overseen the gradual but steady reversal of German defense policy — moving from a defensive crouch to a willingness to take responsibility in the world.
  • Meanwhile, unlike other names that had been floated in recent days, Borrell has real foreign policy experience. A high representative who hones in on the institutional dimension of European foreign policy and selects only a few dossiers on which to focus (e.g., Serbia-Kosovo) may be just what is needed.

Project Syndicate – Joseph S. Nye / Power and interdependence in the Trump era

  • Donald Trump is not the first US president to manipulate economic interdependence, nor is the US the only country to do so. History shows that this kind of manipulation may bring short-term gains, but those sometimes turn into long-term losses.
  • Even if other countries are unable to extricate themselves from US networks of interdependence in the short term, incentives to do so will strengthen in the longer run. In the meantime, there will be costly damage to the international institutions that limit conflict and create global public goods.
  • As Henry Kissinger has pointed out, world order depends not only on a stable balance of power, but also on a sense of legitimacy, to which institutions contribute.
  • States will increasingly need a framework to enhance cooperation on the use of the sea and space, and on combating climate change and pandemics. Referring to such a framework as a “liberal international order” confuses choices by conflating promotion of liberal democratic values with the creation of an institutional framework for promoting global public goods.

Financial Times – Yuan Yang, James Kynge, Sue-Lin Wong & Nian Liu / Huawei founder predicts internet of things is next US battle

  • The founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, has predicted the next battle with the US will be over the Chinese telecom company’s push into the internet of things (IoT) and smart factories.
  • Huawei hopes its expertise in 5G can translate into dominance of industrial IoT, because high-speed connectivity is a must for transferring bulky data from industrial devices for data analysis.
  • Although there is no clear industry leader in the nascent market for industrial IoT hardware and platforms, analysts say Huawei offers the deepest range of products.
  • Huawei is aiming to corner the global IoT market through writing the industry’s standards, an increasingly common move for Chinese companies as the country seeks dominance in international standards-setting bodies.

The Guardian – Sandra Laville / Governments and firms in 28 countries sued over climate crisis – report

  • Climate action lawsuits against governments and corporations have spread across 28 countries, according to a new analysis. The study reveals that more than 1,300 legal actions concerning climate change have been brought since 1990.
  • While the US – with 1,023 cases – remains the leader in climate litigation, other countries are increasingly seeing individuals, charities and states take action. Countries where legal cases have been taken include Australia (94), the UK (53), New Zealand (17), Spain (13), Brazil (5), and Germany (5).
  • In the two and a half years since Trump became US president, lawsuits have sought to prevent his attempts to roll back environmental regulations. An analysis of 154 cases in the report shows that no rollback of a climate regulation brought before the courts has yet survived a legal challenge.
  • “The rise in strategic and routine cases, a ramp-up in legal action by NGOs, the expansion of climate change suits into other areas of law, and improvements in climate science suggest that the use of climate change litigation as a tool to effect policy change is likely to continue,” says the report.

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.

Política Internacional | Permalink

ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 03/07/2019

Euractiv – Claire Stam, Gerardo Fortuna, Jorge Valero & Sam Morgan / EU leaders agree on top job picks but trouble already looms

  • The European Council finally agreed to rally behind German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen as their pick for the Commission presidency. But the deal sets up a potentially ugly encounter with the European Parliament, which might not approve her appointment.
  • The Greens already rejected the Council deal while the Socialists, who called it “unacceptable”, and the Left might follow suit. Some MEPs are angry that the Council has chosen a candidate who did not feature at all in the European election campaigns.
  • Leaders also agreed on their picks for Council president, European Central Bank chief and EU High-Representative, which will go, respectively, to Belgium’s Charles Michel, France’s Christine Lagarde and Spain’s Josep Borrell. Michel’s election is final, while Lagarde and Borrell are also provisional.
  • According to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, all four names were endorsed by unanimous vote, her own abstention notwithstanding. Germany’s abstention was reportedly due to a revolt in the ruling coalition, as Merkel’s socialist partners refused to endorse von der Leyen’s candidacy.
  • Financial Times – Guy Chazan / Ursula von der Leyen’s elevation baffles her German critics
  • Financial Times – Ben Hall / ECB cashes in on Lagarde’s alliance-building skills

Politico – Paul Dallison / 4 names put forward for Parliament president

  • Four MEPs have been nominated as candidates to become president of the European Parliament. They are: Ska Keller (Germany, Greens), Sira Rego (Spain, GUE/NGL), David-Maria Sassoli (Italy, S&D) and Jan Zahradil (Czech Republic, ECR).
  • Missing from the list put around by the Parliament on Tuesday evening was Sergei Stanishev, a Bulgarian who heads the Party of European Socialists. EU leaders had made clear that he was their preference for the Parliament presidency, despite no indication that he would have sufficient support.
  • Voting starts at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Parliament in Strasbourg. To win, a candidate must get an absolute majority of the valid votes cast — 50 percent plus one.
  • Politico – Eddy Wax, Arthur Neslen & Laura Kayali / Parliament groups vow to stop far-right MEPs chairing committees

Foreign Affairs – Ivan Briscoe / Power and paranoia in Caracas

  • Foreign powers invested in Venezuela have dialed back their hostile rhetoric and begun to explore a détente between the Venezuelan government and its opposition. However, powerful pro-Maduro and pro-Guaidó constituencies remain convinced that their cause will triumph in the end.
  • Polls show that more than 50 percent of the population supports a political agreement between the government and the opposition. Maduro, having survived this year’s onslaught of diplomatic, economic, and political pressure, should in principle be in a position to hammer out a satisfactory peace deal.
  • But, in practice, such a deal is unlikely in the short term. Guaidó’s April revolt extended the influence of the government’s most notorious hard-liner, Diosdado Cabello. Maduro seems to fear offering concessions that could displease his hard-line allies, on whom his power increasingly depends.
  • As Maduro’s position has hardened, so, too, has Guaidó’s. The uprising has elevated the more radical members of the opposition, among them Leopoldo López. Uncompromising views have been reinforced by senior US officials such as National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Project Syndicate – Joseph E. Stiglitz / Thumbs down to Facebook’s cryptocurrency

  • Facebook has decided that the world needs another cryptocurrency. But, in fact, the last thing we need is a new vehicle for nurturing illicit activities and laundering the proceeds, which another cryptocurrency will almost certainly turn out to be.
  • The real problem with our existing currencies and financial arrangements, which serve as a means of payment as well as a store of value, is the lack of competition among and regulation of the companies that control transactions. This leads to excessive credit card fees.
  • Even if the US decides to have a non-competitive second-rate financial system, Europe and the rest of the world should say no: it is not anti-American to be pro-competition, as Trump seems to have recently suggested in his criticism of European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager.
  • Time and again, Facebook’s leaders, faced with a choice between money and honoring their promises, have grabbed the money. And nothing could be more about money than creating a new currency. Only a fool would trust Facebook with his or her financial wellbeing.

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.

Política Internacional | Permalink

ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 02/07/2019

South China Morning Post / Angry Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam emerges after day of unprecedented violence and slams protesters but says she is willing to listen

  • Hong Kong’s embattled government emerged early on Tuesday morning, condemning the violent takeover of the city’s legislature by mostly young protesters. Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a 4am press conference she was “very outraged and distressed.”
  • For several hours on Monday, the Legislative Council building witnessed an assault unprecedented in size and intensity, as hundreds of protesters demanding the complete withdrawal of the government’s now-suspended extradition bill attacked the glass front with makeshift battering rams, and eventually forced their way in.
  • The shocking scenes at the legislature came as hundreds of thousands marched peacefully on the streets under the broader umbrella of the annual July 1 mass rally, on the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule.
  • “The march was peaceful and generally orderly. This fully reflects the inclusiveness of Hong Kong society, and the core values we attach to peace and order,” said Lam. By contrast, the takeover of the legislature, according to Lam, was “something that we should seriously condemn, because nothing is more important than the rule of law in Hong Kong.”

The Atlantic – Kathy Gilsinan / Trump left the nuclear deal. Now Iran’s fighting back.

  • Iran threatened for weeks, and yesterday the threat came true: Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that Iran had committed its first significant breach of its nuclear deal with world powers, breaking a limit on its uranium stockpile.
  • “What they do next will tell us if it’s a breach that portends the demise of the deal, or a determination by the EU in particular that it warrants a snapback of sanctions,” said David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a former UN weapons inspector.
  • The breach is a minor one in practical terms; it does not seriously shorten how much time Iran would need to race to a nuclear weapon, which some estimates put at up to a year. What the breach does do, however, is stick a finger in the eye of Europe, which has been scrambling to salvage the deal.
  • As for what the US would do, Trump left it vague: “You’ll see,” he told reporters over the weekend. Trump has stated his belief, prior to Iran’s announcement yesterday, that the Iranians were already violating the agreement—which suggests at least some degree of willingness to live with such violations without a military response.
  • Foreign Policy – Lara Seligman / How close is Iran to a nuclear bomb, really?

Haaretz – Reuters & Jack Khoury / Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria, report says; 16 killed, 21 wounded

  • 16 people including a baby were killed and 21 were wounded by an Israeli attack on multiple Syrian and Iranian targets on the outskirts of Damascus and Homs, Syrian state-run al-Ikhbariya broadcaster reported.
  • According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, among the sites hit were Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ compounds south of Damascus, a strategic research center northwest of Damascus, Hezbollah facilities near the Syrian-Lebanese border, a research center in Homs, and an airbase south of Homs that serves Iranian and Hezbollah forces.
  • Syrian air defenses confronted the attack, which was launched from Lebanese airspace, the Syrian defense ministry said in a brief report. The Israeli army has yet to comment on the incident.
  • In recent years, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria that it says have targeted its regional arch foe, Iran, and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which it calls the biggest threat to its borders.

Project Syndicate – Jean Pisani-Ferry / Farewell, flat world

  • The single most important economic development of the last 50 years has been the catch-up in income of a significant group of poor countries. The main engines of catch-up growth have been international trade and the dramatic fall in the cost of moving ideas – the “flat world” Thomas Friedman referred to.
  • Things, however, have changed again: from intangible investments to digital networks to finance and exchange rates, there is a growing realization that transformations in the global economy have re-established centrality. The world that emerges from them no longer looks flat – it looks spiky.
  • One reason for this is that in an increasingly digitalized economy, where a growing part of services are provided at zero marginal cost, value creation and value appropriation concentrate in the innovation centers and where intangible investments are made. The Internet, moreover, has evolved into a much more hierarchical hub-and-spoke system, which can also be found in finance.
  • In this context, the distribution of gains from openness and participation in the global economy is increasingly skewed. Protectionism remains a dangerous lunacy, but the case for openness has become harder to make. And a more asymmetric global economic system undermines multilateralism and leads to a battle for control of the nodes of international networks.

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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