Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Jason Miks.
April 27, 2017
Canada’s Conservative “Trump-off”
Don’t be fooled by Canada’s “utopianized” image, writes Matthew Hays in The Guardian. “Canada is not immune to the populist appeals of a right-leaning movement — however phony that populism might be.”
Hays argues that this reality is currently on full display in the leadership race for the Conservative Party, which has seen several candidates “in a giant Trump-off, a panicked rush to see who can appeal to the lowest common denominator of the angriest, most reactionary voters.”
Le Pen Going Guerrilla
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is employing a “guerrilla-style” campaign that has upstaged that of front runner Emmanuel Macron, AFP reports.
“Le Pen has attempted to catch [Macron] off guard by popping up in industrially depressed areas of northern France before the journey to the Mediterranean coast,” AFP says. This has included an unannounced Le Pen appearance at a factory from which Macron had been meeting union leaders nearby.
“Her appearance forced a hasty change in plans and Macron ended up spending more than an hour debating with workers amid chaotic scenes as dozens of TV camera teams crowded around him.”
The Next Thorn in Side of U.S.-China Relationship?
The next big test for seemingly warming U.S.-China ties could be Taiwan, specifically its efforts to bolster its aging force of fighter jets, Bloomberg reports.
“Taiwan wants the F-35B variant of the stealth warplane, which was designed for the U.S. Marines and can take off from short surfaces and land vertically. The fighter jet…could help Taiwan maintain air defense should any Chinese missile attack destroy its runways.”
Don’t get your hopes up. June Teufel Dreyer, a professor of political science at the University of Miami who specializes in China’s military, emails Global Briefing that the United States has “tended to sell only less than state-of-the-art platforms, and always against a chorus of admonitions from within the United States to do nothing that would make China angry.”
She says that “everything that Trump has said and done since taking a call from Taiwan’s president suggests that he, too, is loath to make China angry and, like several previous administrations, assumes that, if properly treated, Beijing will help rein in North Korea’s WMD program.
“There’s no question that Taiwan needs more advanced planes — they certainly do. But there’s an argument that the U.S. should be wary of selling the F-35 to Taiwan given the possibility of leaks to China. Taiwan’s military and intelligence agencies have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese spies — China has stolen a great deal from us already. We certainly don’t want them to have F-35 technology.”
The Real Threat from North Korea?
A major North Korean strike on South Korean or U.S. military installations could come from Pyongyang’s missiles, or the artillery it has positioned ominously close to the border. Or it could come from the country’s commandos – who some planners fear could also be equipped with biological weapons, the Washington Post‘s Dan Lamothe reports.
China should be ready for “unfriendly activities” from North Korea, and has the “capability to strike back at any side that crosses the red line” over tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the semi-official Global Timeseditorialized Thursday. The article is a further sign that Beijing’s position toward its neighbor could be hardening following an editorial earlier this week warning a sixth nuclear test by Pyongyang might “cross the point of no return.”
Mexico’s Costly Fuel Thieves
Mexico’s federal government is losing more than a billion dollars a year to fuel theft, the New York Times‘ Kirk Semple reports, with thieves “siphoning gasoline and diesel fuel at record-high rates from the system — often by drilling taps into pipelines under cover of darkness.”
“The relentless rise in thefts has been driven by the increasing involvement and sophistication of some of the nation’s largest, best organized and most ruthless criminal organizations, which have used bribery and violence to co-opt officials at all levels of government, including workers at Pemex, the state-owned energy company.”
The number of red notices has soared from around 2,300 in 2005 to 12,787 last year, according to the Council of Europe, which complained the system “has been misused by some member states for political purposes in recent years to suppress freedom of expression or to persecute political opponents abroad.”
Latin America: Rekindling the Strongman Flame
After emerging from a period marked by dictatorships, Latin American nations in the 1970s and 1980s began imposing one-term limits and other restrictions on their presidents, The Economistsays. But in recent years, the region has been backsliding – to sometimes troubling effect.
“Five countries, including Brazil and Argentina, now allow a second consecutive term, while seven allow non-consecutive reelection. In Venezuela Hugo Chávez won a referendum to abolish term limits altogether; Ecuador’s congress agreed to do so from 2021,” The Economist says.
“…Those who favor reelection argue that it makes presidents more accountable, that it offers voters the chance of keeping a president if they so wish and that it offers political and thus economic stability. Yet the costs of relaxing term limits are becoming ever clearer. Most obviously, Venezuela and Nicaragua are now in effect dictatorships.”