26 February 2020

Is Trump Putting U.S.-India Partnership at Risk Ahead of Visit?


India and the United States hope to reach a limited trade agreement in time for U.S. President Donald Trump’s first visit to the country this month, but experts question whether the larger strategic relationship both sides have cultivated for more than a decade is being sacrificed to Trump’s niggling trade demands.

On the one hand, U.S. administrations beginning with George W. Bush and continuing under Barack Obama have indicated they need India as a strategic partner to help counter China’s growing influence. On the other hand, under Trump, Washington is now publicly browbeating India over the price of walnuts and Harley-Davidsons.

“The administration does not have an integrated policy toward India or anyone else for that matter,” said Ashley Tellis, an India expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

U.S. national security officials have their own view of India’s place in America’s Indo-Pacific strategy and have built on the Obama administration’s efforts with closer defense cooperation, especially in the navy, and through increased arms sales. But U.S. trade officials, obsessed by trade deficits, have their own narrow agenda focused on prying open parts of the Indian market—a view entirely divorced from the bigger picture.

Opinion – The Contours of the Saudi Arabia-Pakistan Relationship


Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to acknowledge the unique position of Pakistan in the Islamic world. Four years after the formation of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan signed the Treaty of Friendship. Saudi Arabia saw a partner in Pakistan which is militarily powerful and has no interest in meddling with the regional affairs of the Middle East and the Kingdom also had a fundamental base to accelerate the relationship because of the shared identity of a nation driven and formed by an Islamic character. The partnership between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan has grown over time and has remained to be one of the strongest alliances in the Islamic world; rightly defined by the late King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz al Saud as ‘brothers’. The intent to further strengthen the engagement is evident from the statement released by Pakistan’s Foreign Office after the recent conversation between Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Saudi Arabian counterpart.

A Looming Peace for Afghanistan’s Long Hard War?


During the last week of January, the news was awash with stories covering the current administration’s ostensibly unprecedented progress with Special Envoy Khalilzad’s recent talks with the Taliban and their Pakistani sponsors in Qatar. In a statement that the U.S. Embassy Kabul released on the last Monday in January, Khalilzad stated that the peace talks had made progress on important issues and that the negotiators had agreed on a framework for further talks in February. In the eighteenth year of a long and stalemated war, there are reasons to be sanguine about these developments, to some degree, simply because this seems to have been the most talk about peace among the belligerents yet in this long hard war. And Mr. Khalilzad is indeed one of the best people to be the U.S. envoy leading the talks given his Afghan origins and years of experience as ambassador in Afghanistan and Iraq.

However, there are also reasons for much caution and some alarm about the current progress and the potential for peace in Afghanistan since the deliberations and decisions about many previously intractable issues still require prudence and patience. These details may potentially augur the gravest consequences for Afghanistan, its neighbors, and the U.S. Several things of great importance have yet to be worked out. There is still much uncertainty in what outcomes these talks will result in, and looming yet elusive peace also brings up questions and concerns about the Taliban’s and their sponsor’s true intentions.

What China has to fear from a US-Taliban peace deal in Afghanistan

Tom Hussain

A group of former Taliban militants surrender their weapons during a reconciliation ceremony in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The Taliban is expected to sign a formal peace deal with the US by the end of this month. February. Photo: EPA-EFE

After more than 18 years of war, the Taliban has agreed to a week-long nationwide reduction of violence, setting the stage for the signing of a peace deal by the end of this month that would see all US military forces depart 

The pause in Taliban attacks will also pave the way for negotiations with a government-appointed delegation of mainstream politicians over the country’s future.
China, which used its influence with close ally Pakistan to facilitate Taliban participation in negotiations with the US, has no plans to fill the political space on its southwest flank that will be vacated by departing foreign troops, according to analysts focused on the region.

Why Afghanistan Is America’s Greatest Strategic Disaster

Source Link

Way back in January 2002, a few weeks after the Taliban fled terrified from Kabul, Kandahar, and other major cities, I went to Afghanistan to report on the aftermath. In just seven weeks, the world’s lone superpower had pounded Afghanistan’s Islamist occupiers into the ground, literally, with B-52s dropping massive laser-targeted bombs that seemed, to the hapless Taliban, to come from nowhere. It was the moment that “the nineteenth century met the twenty-first century,” an ebullient Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld later wrote. As I drove around, there wasn’t a Taliban fighter in sight, and the country seemed to lay wide open, practically begging the Americans to occupy it.

What’s keeping the peace? I asked the warlords I met. Pretty much the same answer came back over and over, often preceded by a gap-toothed grin: “B-52 justice,” said one man, pointing upward. 

Eighteen bloody years later, the conventional wisdom in Washington is that Afghanistan was always destined to be a failure. When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Friday that the United States had reached “an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence across #Afghanistan” and announced that peace talks would soon begin in earnest, almost no one complained about the relegitimization of the Taliban, who will now have a powerful voice in ruling the country and may even take it over again. 

US Must Prepare For Military Conflict With China, Pentagon Official Warns

By James Patterson

Asenior Pentagon official has warned that China’s military buildup over the last decade now poses a global threat and that the U.S. must prepare for possible military conflict with the Communist nation of nearly 1.5 billion people, 25% of the world’s population.

That official is Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, who said on Thursday, “The stakes of the challenge of conflict with China…. are formidable. This is a long-term process. We have to be agile, smart.”

Sbragia added that the U.S. must prepare for any war with China by developing new weapons, strengthening ties with allies and improving the Pentagon’s efficiency. He suggested that more hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, robots, and laser weapons be added to the nation’s arsenal to “build and deploy a more lethal, resilient joint force”.

The deputy assistant also testified to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission that another priority of the Defense Department is to bolster existing alliances and attract new partners.

This, he argued, would give the U.S. an “asymmetric” advantage due to its numerous treaty partners, strong diplomatic ties, and its free and open borders that Beijing lacks in comparison.

An Examination of Chinese Humanism


In the book, “Chinese Hegemony”, Zhang Feng (2015) introduces the concept of “ethical relationalism” (pp. 181) to argue that international relations (IR) are not merely about states pursuing “exclusive self-interest” but could include their attempts to sustain “long-term ethical relationships”. The idea of “ethical relationalism” was derived from the concept of Confucian relationalism, which seeks to minimize states’ pursuit of self-interest in return for sustainability in international relations. According to Zhang (2015), the concept of Confucian relationalism is based on the principles of “appropriateness and justice” (yi li; 义理) (pp. 182), which highlights mutual assistance and ethical obligation in social interactions. The Confucian principle of dao yi (道义), or “the principle of righteousness”, was also introduced to reinforce the need for principles to guide state behaviour so that “amoral realpolitik” caused by states’ “extreme maximization of self-interest” could be reduced (pp. 182). In effect, it was argued that relational-politik centered on the principles of righteousness (yi; 义) and moral justice (理; li) could lead to increased sustainability, cooperation and harmony in IR (pp. 182).

Beijing’s Great Leap Backward

By Bret Stephens

Several years ago, in an overheated room in Beijing, I was forced to endure a stern lecture from a Chinese foreign ministry official. My sin: As the editor at The Wall Street Journal responsible for the paper’s overseas opinion sections, I had apparently insulted the entire Chinese people by publishing the work of a “well-known terrorist” — the courageous Uighur human-rights activist Rebiya Kadeer.

I had to clench my jaw to suppress the rejoinder that China’s best-known tyrant, Mao Zedong, has his portrait overlooking the killing field known as Tiananmen Square.

I thought of that episode this week on hearing Wednesday’s news that the Chinese government has decided to expel three Wall Street Journal reporters based in China — two Americans and an Australian — in retaliation for the headline of an opinion column by Walter Russell Mead, “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia.” In a style reminiscent of my own experience, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement claiming, “The Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and smear China with malicious attacks.”

U.S. Car Industry Most Reliant On Chinese Parts

by Felix Richter

As the COVID-19 crisis drags on, the epidemic's economic impact is starting to be felt around the world. Due to China's role in the global economy, the prolonged standstill in the country has the potential to disrupt supply chains for several key industries, including electronics, chemicals and automobiles.

Considering that Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicenter, is often referred to as “China’s Motor City", the automotive sector is among the industries most exposed to the negative impact of the virus. Not only will Chinese production suffer a significant hit due to extended shutdowns, but many manufacturers around the world who rely on Chinese parts are facing production outages. "It only takes one missing part to stop a line," Mike Dunne, an industry consultant formerly heading GM’s operations in Indonesia, told CNN. Last week, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) said it would be temporarily halting production at a plant in Kragujevac, Serbia due to a lack of parts from China, while Hyundai and Renault have done the same in South Korea.

China is among the world’s largest suppliers of car parts, exporting motor vehicle parts and accessories worth $34.8 billion in 2018, according to the UN’s Comtrade database. As the following chart shows, the U.S. car industry is theoretically most at risk of production outages as it relies heavily on parts sourced from China. It remains to be seen how significant the impact of the epidemic on the global car industry will be, as it depends on how quickly the flow of components from Chinese suppliers can return to the required level. While automakers are gradually reopening factories across the country, those plants located in and around Wuhan remain closed for the time being.

The Shanghai Composite And Coronavirus: A Revealing Perspective

China's Shanghai Composite has been in a large-scale downtrend for about 13 years.

So, when the news of the coronavirus outbreak hit, it came as less of a shock to Elliott Wave International's global analysts.

You may ask, "What in the world does one have to do with the other?"

Our just-published February Global Market Perspective provides insight:

When a major infectious disease breaks out, we find that a stock market correction has usually preceded it. That observation is germane right now because China's Shanghai Composite has been tracing out a large-degree correction since its peak in 2007 and, not coincidentally, China has experienced numerous outbreaks of highly lethal infectious diseases over the 13-years-and-counting period.

One of the most lethal was the H7N9 bird flu epidemic that broke out in March 2013, which had a mortality rate of about 39%.

China’s Military Power Projection and U.S. National Interests

Gregory B. Poling, director, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, and fellow, Southeast Asia Program of CSIS, testified the U.S. - China Economic and Security Review Commission on "China’s Military Power Projection and U.S. National Interests."

Coronavirus Update: Rapid Construction of Medical Facilities

The Chinese government has made exceptional progress in constructing two emergency medical facilities in Wuhan, Hubei province. Wuhan is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak first reported at the end of 2019, which has swiftly risen to over 75,000 cases in China and 25 other countries (the vast majority in Hubei) and left over 2,000 dead (these figures are as of February 19, 2020). According to Chinese officials, the 1,000-bed Huoshenshan hospital and 1,600-bed Leishenshan hospital were modeled after the Xiaotangshan hospital, a temporary facility built in Beijing to treat the SARS outbreak in 2003. As of February 2, 2020, the Chinese government, using both civilian and military assets, has set up 13 field hospitals, sent over 8,000 medical staff to Wuhan from across China, and spent over 5.4 billion yuan (about $800 million) to address the coronavirus outbreak.

The crash construction of these hospitals is just the most visible sign of the extreme urgency the Chinese government feels—in the face of popular discontent and a dangerous virus spreading at exceptional speed—to significantly expand its capacity to isolate and treat those infected with the coronavirus. While reports have emerged that the facilities are suffering from substandard construction, the facilities are nonetheless stark symbols of the government’s top-down, muscular national mobilization capabilities.

Opinion – Iran 2020: Election Polls, Panics and Predictions


On February 21, 2020, Iran holds its 11th parliamentary elections. These elections are devoid of any legitimacy since no real pro-democracy or opposition groups takes part in them. Elections in theocratic Iran are neither free nor fair and primarily staged to provide a deceptive show of popular legitimacy. While the regime attempts to portray a functioning democracy, the timing offers an opportunity to measure the regime’s political, economic and strategic health index and its trajectory. At the micro level, the parliamentary elections are a barometer of the balance of power between vying factions in the regime’s internal structure. Already, the selections are set to shift the parliament more in favor of hardliners given the elimination of the so-called reformers. Yet, beyond the mafia-style factional fights, hardliners and reformers are equally committed to the regime’s survival, domestic repression, terrorism and regional drive for hegemonic expansion through proxies and wars in the region.At the macro level, elections are also an indicator of the regime’s assessment of the gravity of the internal and external conflicts posed to its survival. The entire Iranian leadership is already in panic in anticipation of Friday’s election. The current situation is so dreadful for the struggling regime that it cannot tolerate even the slightest degree of internal deliberations. To that end, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has embarked on a campaign to close ranks and unite his forces against the popular uprisings.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, Terrorist

John R. Allen

The decision by the New York Times to feature a piece by Sirajuddin Haqqani, deputy leader of the Taliban and avowed enemy of the United States, is nothing short of reprehensible. This individual is a cold-blooded killer and terrorist, with the deaths of thousands of Afghans and the blood of hundreds of American and Coalition servicemen and women on his hands. His purported desire for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan does not signal some peacemaking epiphany or political rehabilitation on his part, nor for the terrorists that he leads. He does not deserve a platform, especially one as legitimizing as the New York Times, and the decision to feature him should be roundly condemned.

When I was commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the Haqqani network ranked among the deadliest threats to our mission there, and to the people of Afghanistan. This organization was and continues to be a central component of the Taliban, a major connecting file into al-Qaida, and a darling of Pakistan’s ISI. The Haqqanis, the Taliban, and al-Qaida endorse a radical interpretation of sharia that deprives women of any meaningful rights, to include the right to an education, and the freedom to pursue their own wants and interests, such as, for example, the legal profession. Countless lives were lost – and many, many more were wounded and otherwise terrorized – at the hands of this group and its peer terrorist entities, and had they not been formally designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism, we would have had little means to diminish their influence and stop their violent activities. And at the very center of this violence was Sirajuddin Haqqani, operational commander of the Haqqani network as well as the #2 of the Taliban.

Climate Change and Food Security in the Pacific


It is irrefutable that the vast Pacific Ocean with its small island nations are in the frontline of the catastrophic climate change which is already threatening food security where the majority of the people depend on the sea for food and on subsistence agriculture. Traditionally, Pacific Island diet consisted of fish, seafood and root crops such as taro, cassava, yams and sweet potatoes and in many rural communities of the region, fish is the only source of animal protein. Now with rising sea-levels, salt water inundation of agricultural land, frequency of cyclones and other climate-change-related-disasters, this livelihood on which 70% of the region’s population depends on is under threat and is one of the causes of chronic hunger and malnutrition in the region (WFP and SPC, 2018). Access to food and availability of food in the market are the two important components of measuring food security (Aliber and Mini, 2010 quoted in Masipa, 2017). Thus, from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) perspective, food security means “food availability, food access and food use”. According to HSRC, food availability means there is adequate amount of quality food in the market which people can easily access and utilise. Food access “refers to the ability of the nation and its households to acquire sufficient food on a sustainable basis” (Masipa, 2017).

Human Vulnerability to Climate Change


It seems somewhat of a paradox, to suggest catastrophic and irreparable damage to humans and natural systems from global environmental changes need not result in catastrophic and irreparable damage to humans, although catastrophic and irreparable damage to humans arise from even modest changes in natural systems (Heltberg et al., 2009). Minimizing human vulnerability to environmental changes is largely determined by the extent to which groups of humans (societies) can develop and organize themselves, to render themselves susceptible or resilient to changes, which refers to the extent to which societies can manage the impacts from hazardous events or disturbance trends in social, economic and environmental systems (Lahsen et al., 2010; IPCC, 2014 :40). Whilst literature on the impact, adaptation and vulnerability (IAV) to humans from environmental changes has increased two-fold between 2005 and 2010, to 234,823 publications worldwide, the geographical diversity of authorship is limited (IPCC, 2014 :38). Since 1980, only five percent of IAV publications were published in Africa and Latin America, an area which is often said to be “especially exposed and vulnerable” to the impacts of environmental changes (Lahsen et al., 2010). Geographic-specific research on IAV issues allows policymakers to enhance societal measures on resilience, which aim to reduce human vulnerability to environmental changes, however, countries in this region have either

Human Vulnerability to Climate Change


It seems somewhat of a paradox, to suggest catastrophic and irreparable damage to humans and natural systems from global environmental changes need not result in catastrophic and irreparable damage to humans, although catastrophic and irreparable damage to humans arise from even modest changes in natural systems (Heltberg et al., 2009). Minimizing human vulnerability to environmental changes is largely determined by the extent to which groups of humans (societies) can develop and organize themselves, to render themselves susceptible or resilient to changes, which refers to the extent to which societies can manage the impacts from hazardous events or disturbance trends in social, economic and environmental systems (Lahsen et al., 2010; IPCC, 2014 :40). Whilst literature on the impact, adaptation and vulnerability (IAV) to humans from environmental changes has increased two-fold between 2005 and 2010, to 234,823 publications worldwide, the geographical diversity of authorship is limited (IPCC, 2014 :38). Since 1980, only five percent of IAV publications were published in Africa and Latin America, an area which is often said to be “especially exposed and vulnerable” to the impacts of environmental changes (Lahsen et al., 2010). Geographic-specific research on IAV issues allows policymakers to enhance societal measures on resilience, which aim to reduce human vulnerability to environmental changes, however, countries in this region have either been less willing or unable to conduct such research comparable to other regions. Environmental vulnerability is commonly defined as the extent to which humans, and the things they value, are exposed to environmental changes, are sensitive to this exposure, and the degree to which they can adapt to these changes, in which, various studies have found vulnerability in Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia are increasing (IPCC, 2014 :39;

Has the US Learned from Its Experience in the Vietnam War?


The United States’ (US) involvement in the Vietnam War has gained notoriety within the nation’s collective memory, and rightly so. Spanning twenty years and costing the lives of 58,220 Americans (US National Archives, 2018), its legacy is “protracted, costly and divisive” (Zhang, 2018, p. 244). Whilst there is still debate surrounding US involvement in Vietnam, we argue there is a consensus on the need for lessons to be learnt from its involvement. However, it is apparent that despite its legacy, successive administrations have failed to do so. This is evidenced by a string of arguably unnecessary international interventions, conducted via questionable motives and means representing a repetition of operational and non-operational factors that undermined US policy in Vietnam.

The question above posits, a number of assumptions that require discussion and clarification. Firstly, the manner in which the question is written implies that questionable decisions were made. As such, this paper will adopt the assumption that mistakes were made that therefore provide learning experiences. Following this, the second clarification to consider is whether the US can and should learn lessons from Vietnam. Whilst debatable, we believe that possession of historical knowledge is a practical instrument of action, and “a

The White Swans Of 2020

In my 2010 book, Crisis Economics, I defined financial crises not as the “black swan” events that Nassim Nicholas Taleb described in his eponymous bestseller, but as “white swans.”

According to Taleb, black swans are events that emerge unpredictably, like a tornado, from a fat-tailed statistical distribution.

But I argued that financial crises, at least, are more like hurricanes: they are the predictable result of built-up economic and financial vulnerabilities and policy mistakes.

There are times when we should expect the system to reach a tipping point – the “Minsky Moment” – when a boom and a bubble turn into a crash and a bust. Such events are not about the “unknown unknowns,” but rather the “known unknowns.”

Beyond the usual economic and policy risks that most financial analysts worry about, a number of potentially seismic white swans are visible on the horizon this year.

Brexit’s Stealthy Rationality


ATHENS – At pivotal historical moments, rational political ruptures often are brought about for all the wrong reasons. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit may prove to be a case in point.

When US President Richard Nixon ditched the Bretton Woods system in August 1971, his reasons were shortsighted. Overwhelmed by domestic pressures to impose ineffective price controls and placate his blue-collar supporters, Nixon took his eye off the larger picture. Still, he was following a sound instinct: historical forces had ruled against the sustainability of that remarkable post-war global monetary system. Once America went from being a net global creditor to being a debtor economy in sustained deficit to the rest of the capitalist world, Bretton Woods was condemned to extinction, because the Federal Reserve could no longer guarantee a fixed exchange rate with the Deutsche Mark, yen, franc, and so on.

To be sure, the median American worker’s income and living standards have never recovered from the so-called Nixon shock, and the resulting financialization of capitalism has been detrimental to humanity. But that does not take anything away from the deeper rationality of Nixon’s decision.

The U.S. Should Get Ready for Syria’s Return from War

Trump seems determined not to play much of a role in shaping how Syria’s myriad conflicts are resolved. That’s a mistake.

Among the most-hackneyed corporate retreat exercises is the “trust fall,” in which a volunteer falls backwards into the arms of colleagues. The “trust” part comes from confidence that support will suddenly materialize, and among colleagues it always does.

Syria is on the brink of a trust fall, but support is nowhere in sight. Even though the Syria crisis is not of the United States’ making and the Trump administration is hostile to open-ended engagements in the Middle East, it’s still in the U.S. interest to save Syria from further catastrophe.

Why Do Donald Trump and Millions of Americans Think Climate Change is a Lie?

by Jérôme Viala-Gaudefroy
Source Link

The reason? A handful of countries blocked significant action, in particular the United States, Brazil, Australia and Saudi Arabia, while China and India conveniently used the pretext of the historical responsibility of rich nations as an excuse for doing nothing.

A month before the COP25, President Trump formally confirmed the exit of the United States from the Paris climate agreement – just one policy change among more than 90 others aimed at rolling back environmental regulations. Because the United States is still the most powerful country in the world whose president has the most media coverage, this has created a toxic “Trump effect” that has weakened the credibility of international commitments and emboldened others, especially populists and nationalists, to shirk their responsibilities.

But how much do the aggressively anti-environmental actions of a minority president actually reflect American public opinion?

Even though Americans are less likely to be concerned about climate change than the rest of the world (by at least about 10 to 20 percentage points), a majority (59%) still see it as a serious threat – a 17-point increase in six years (Pew Research). But the devil is in the details. Only about 27% of Republicans say climate change is a major threat, compared with 83% of Democrats, a 56-percentage point difference!

Global concerns about climate change. Pew Research CenterGlobal Threats. Pew Research Center

Climate skepticism/denial exists in other Western democracies, mostly among right-wing populists, but even by comparison, the American Republicans are the least likely to see it as a major threat.

This in turn raises another question: why are American Republicans more skeptical about climate change than right-wing voters in other countries? The first reason has to do with polarization in politics and identity.

Alabama becomes the first U.S. state to enact an anti-trust law.

President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington, D.C., after the thwarting of an alleged assassination plot in Baltimore, Maryland.


American polarization has deep roots in racial, religious and ideological divisions and can be traced back to the reaction of conservatives to the cultural, social and political transformations of the 1960s and 1970s. This polarization eventually made its way into politics in the 1980s and, even more so, in the 1990s when it became a ‘culture war.’ As global warming emerged on the US national agenda, it became one of those divisive hot-button issues in the culture war, along with abortion, gun control, health care, race, women and LGBTQ’s rights.

The fact that progressive Democrats took on the issue of global warming early on – former vice president Al Gore was a leading voice on the issue – and that the solutions they offered had to do with statist measure such as carbon taxes, a cap-and-trade system, or energy rationing resulted in further politicization of the issue.

In 2001, then-president George W. Bush withdrew from the Kyoto protocol asserting that it would be too costly for the US economy. And in 2010, the Tea Party movement solidified Republican hostility toward the climate-change issue, preventing Congress from passing a cap-and-trade bill. It came as no surprise then when Donald Trump’s comment that climate change was a “concept created by the Chinese” to make “US manufacturing non-competitive” did little to damage his 2016 presidential campaign.


Indeed, his criticism of the Paris accord as being “very, very expensive”, “unfair”, “job killing” and “income-killing” clearly resonated with his electorate.

As much as Donald Trump’s political strategy has been to intensify polarization and to appeal to his base, he is more the symptom than the deeper cause of this polarization. Undeniably, the measures needed to curb greenhouse-gas emissions imply government intervention and internationally binding treaties that go against the conservatives’ ideals of individual freedom, limited government and free markets.

Trust and mistrust

More than most other issues, our acceptance of the human impact on climate change is contingent on our trust in science and environmental scientists. For most of us, It is a matter of trust and not intelligence since we cannot do the science ourselves. Americans of all stripes generally trust scientists (86%), except for environmental research where there is a 30-point gap between Republicans and Democrats, a gap – more surprisingly – that is persistent among those with high science knowledge.

Pew Research Center

Trust in government is also highly partisan, but Republicans have tended to be more specifically wary of international institutions. For instance, only 43% of Republicans have a favorable view of the United Nations compared to 80% of Democrats. There are fringe conservatives, like Alex Jones or members of the John Birch Society the alt-right who want to “get out of the UN.”

In many ways, Donald Trump’s “America first” nationalist slogan is a rejection of international institutions, internationalism and cosmopolitanism – something he made clear at the the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2018.

Anti-intellectualism and anti-science

Americans have always tended to distrust the government, the elite and expertise. This is nothing new. In his 1964 Pulitzer Prize winning book, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, Richard Hofstadter identified two sources of American anti-intellectual sentiment: business, which he depicted as unreflective, and religion, particularly evangelicalism. With its market-oriented, pro-business, and pro-religious agenda, the Republican party is naturally more distrustful of intellectuals and academics, including scientists.

This is fertile ground for right-wing think-tanks and lobbyists to sow doubt in the minds of conservatives who have a cognitive bias against climate change. And there has been no shortage of those, from the Global Climate Coalition, the Koch brothers to the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the fossil-fuel industry or the Heartland Institute. In Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway have shown how these groups use a strategy questioning scientific research similar to that used by the tobacco industry in the 1970s and 1980s.

For a long time, these pressure groups allies in the American press that more often portrayed climate science as “uncertain” than the press in other developed nations. More significantly, Fox News has been the true echo chamber of climate-change deniers. The result is that Fox News viewers are less likely to accept the science of global warming and climate change. And now, the social media have only made the situation worse. A recent study found that videos challenging the scientific consensus on climate change were outnumbered by those that supported it. Then there is Donald Trump who has, since becoming president, attacked the scientists in his own administration by censoring their findings, shutting down government studies and pressuring scientists (full report available here) to reflect his own thinking on the issue.

Confronted with the reality of natural disasters and rising temperatures, most Republicans no longer deny climate change, rather they deny that humans are responsible, and warn that it will affect the economy.

The Frontier myth of an endless economic bonanza

When confronted by journalists about climate change, President Trump diverts the questions by focusing on the immediate benefits are more concrete than potential, vague, long-term gains, as he did during his news conference with President Macron of France in Biarritz, in August 2019.

This idea that nature offers vast untapped reserves that will yield perpetual and painless growth is evocative of what historian Richard Slotkin called the Frontier’s “bonanza economics”. It is an old American story that back to the Puritans: that the wilderness had to be conquered and transformed, that the Anglo-Saxon race was defined by its ability to exploit it, which also justified the displacement of indigenous people who did not work the land.

In this story, the president becomes the Frontier hero who ventures into the wilderness (of nature and politics) to transform it. His professed love for “beautiful clean coal” not only pleases his voters in coal-mining states, it also taps into the belief that nature is first and foremost an infinite provider of wealth that will contribute to the prosperity of all Americans. From Alaska to Minnesota, the Trump administration is all about easing restrictions on drilling, logging and mining at the expense of the protection of the land.

Yet there is another quintessentially American approach to nature. One that sees the presence of the divine in nature and has acknowledged the exhaustability of land and resources. One that is reflected in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau, in the paintings of the Hudson River School, and in the activism of John Muir. It is also ingrained in the politics of Theodore Roosevelt, who used the ethos of the Frontier for his conservationist policies. If values trump facts, maybe this is the American story that today’s conservatives should embrace.

Germany’s Ruling Conservatives Scramble for Direction After Merkel

Josie Le Blond

BERLIN—German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plan for a smooth retirement collapsed last week when her hand-picked successor unexpectedly resigned, throwing Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, into turmoil. Germany’s most powerful political party is now frantically searching for a new leader, even as it grapples with a broader identity crisis after shedding supporters to both left-leaning and far-right parties.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, or AKK as she is widely known in Germany, succeeded Merkel as CDU leader in late 2018 as part of the veteran chancellor’s plan to gradually retire from politics ahead of next year’s general election. Her tenure as party chief has been rocky and littered with gaffes, but Berlin’s political establishment was nonetheless shocked when she announced on Feb. 10 that she would not stand for the chancellorship and would step down as head of the CDU once the party elects her replacement. She will, however, keep her other job as defense minister in Merkel’s Cabinet. .

The New City States

By Rahm Emanuel 

O’Hare International Airport in Chicago is one of the most important transportation hubs on the earth. With 2,700 flights a day and more than 80 million passengers a year, it is one of the United States’ busiest airports and the world’s second-biggest connector airport, linking flights to points across the globe. It is also, in certain crucial areas, old and outdated; some of the runways and terminals have gone decades without an overhaul. And when O’Hare gets clogged up, the rest of the country does, too.

When Chicago last renegotiated the lease agreements for airlines operating at O’Hare, in 2011, the federal government provided nearly a billion dollars in funding. But in 2016, when the city took urgently needed steps to modernize the airport? Crickets.

Chicago didn’t have the luxury of postponing and waiting, fingers crossed, for federal help that might never materialize. Instead, the city took matters into its own hands and negotiated directly with the airlines. In March 2018, Chicago announced an $8.5 billion deal for terminal and gate modernization, on top of a $1.5 billion deal for runway expansion. The projects will nearly double the airport’s terminal space, increase the number of gates by a third, add new runways and reconfigure old ones, and increase daily flights by 40 percent. The negotiations took the city just two years from start to finish.

The Art of Neverending Wars

Eli Jelly-Schapiro

Back in March 2007, a car bomb destroyed the booksellers’ market on Baghdad’s Al-Mutanabbi Street. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed thirty people and wounded one hundred more. The market’s dense inventory of books, packed in shop shelves and arrayed on sidewalk tables and blankets—volumes of fiction and poetry, history and sociology, travel and religion—acted as fuel for the fire that accompanied the explosion. Al-Mutanabbi Street had long been a center of intellectual life in the city—a cherished haven for political, as well as literary, exchange—and the bombing exemplified one tragic consequence of the US-led conquest and occupation of the country: the erasure of Iraqi history and culture.

The echoes of that conquest, and that erasure, were amplified by events last month. After the US assassinated a top Iranian general on the road from Baghdad’s airport, President Trump warned of possible attacks on cultural sites within Iran. This threat, delivered via tweet, recalled the chaotic aftermath of the 2003 invasion of the region by coalition forces, when the National Museum of Iraq and countless archaeological sites around the country were plundered by Iraqi citizens and foreign soldiers and contractors; thousands of artifacts ended up in private collections abroad. And in the cataclysmic years of war that followed, many of Iraq’s contemporary artists also left their homeland. They were compelled into exile both by profound insecurity and by the disappearance of the spaces and means for making art.

Fighting and Winning the Undeclared Cyber War

by Isaac R. Porche III

“War is no longer declared” says Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann: cyber warfare is transforming this line of poetry into reality.

American cities are battling cyber-criminals and nefarious foreign actors on a daily basis. The past month has witnessed a barrage of cyber-attacks against city government assets in Baltimore. The attacks were orchestrated by cyber-extortionists who took advantage of outdated software security mechanisms to freeze thousands of computers and basic communication functions, resulting in disruption of several key municipal operations.

While the hackers behind this operation remain unidentified, these same vulnerabilities represent an open door for nation-state cyber-attacks on state, federal and national infrastructure. In the current environment, the homeland is easy picking for even novice hackers, let alone nation-state actors.

In many ways, nation-state cyber-wars are already well underway. The lack of established international norms means that many cyber-attacks fall into a gray area below the threshold of total war. By exploiting this uncertainty, nation-state actors, such as Russia, Iran and China continue to pose serious risks to U.S. national security, including threats to critical infrastructure (CI) assets that support transportation, food delivery, utilities and commerce in general.

Five myths about cyberwar

By Ben Buchanan 
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Ben Buchanan, an assistant teaching professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, is the author of “The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics.”

The U.S. indictment of four Chinese hackers in the massive Equifax breach, The Washington Post’s recent revelations about CIA encryption back doors, President Trump’s desire to rewrite the Russiagate findings and swirling worries about Huawei’s cybersecurity have all put cyberwar back into the national lexicon. It’s a topic fueled by decades of dramatic movies, blue-ribbon commissions and academic theorizing, to say nothing of the devastating cyberattacks that have occurred. But as recent events show, many long-held ideas about cyberwars aren’t always borne out.

Myth No. 1

Public Opinion On Automation

By Carlos Mulas-Granados, Richard Varghese and Vizhdan Boranova
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Tired of reading articles about how a robot will take your job? We’ve all heard horror stories that foresee the devastating consequences that automation will have on people’s working lives - yet much less attention has been devoted to what workers actually think.

Our chart of the week from our recent research does exactly that. It looks at how 11,000 workers across 11 advanced and emerging market economies perceive the main forces shaping the future of work. Perhaps surprisingly, most workers actually feel more positive than negative about automation, especially in emerging markets. However, personal characteristics like age, education, and income matter significantly - as do country factors like the degree to which automation has already taken place.