Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Jason Miks.

March 27, 2018

The Awkward Truth About That Poke in the Eye for Putin

The US decision to join European allies in expelling dozens of Russian diplomats sends a pointed message to Moscow about Western unity. But such expulsions are also an outdated weapon – and one that could end up hurting the United States, suggests Steven Hall for The Cipher Brief.

“[W]henever we get into these expulsion battles with the Russians, we pay a significant price because they will in turn reciprocate by expelling American diplomats, and they will try to expel as many intelligence officers as they can identify,” Hall writes.

“Expelling diplomats is a good first step, but it is a little bit of fighting the war with very old weapons when the Russians have already moved on to the next generation—and that’s my biggest concern. Russia is defining this new form of warfare with hybrid warfare, attacking Western elections and at least attempting and setting the battlefield to conduct cyberattacks against critical infrastructure in the US—and we’re responding by expelling diplomats, which is a Cold War era tactic.

“We need to find better ways to push back against specifically Vladimir Putin, for example keeping them out of the SWIFT international banking system for a specific period of time to show how serious this is. We need to have a conversation about perhaps removing Russia from international organizations where they value their participation greatly because it gives them a sense of being a great power.”

Did Kim Take the Family Playbook to the Dragon’s Lair?

The White House refused Tuesday to confirm reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un himself was a passenger on a mysterious armored train spotted in China. If he was, that could make things even more complicated for the Trump administration, suggests Charlie Campbell in TIME. After all, the Kims have played this game before.

“Owing to pressure from Trump, Beijing has been enforcing the sanctions comparatively strictly, slashing imports of North Korea coal and labor that form the regime’s main cash cow. But Beijing and Washington are only loosely aligned, and over the decades the Kim dynasty has been deft at exploiting the cracks between adversaries to further its goals,” Campbell writes.

“It’s too early to say that any meeting means a rapprochement between the historic allies, which have grown estranged over recent decades as China flourished under ‘reform and opening’ while North Korea festered in impoverished isolation. Xi may just be signaling to Trump and Moon that he will not be sidelined in any negotiations to end North Korea’s nuclear program.

“But if Kim is ready to make concessions, then the fractures among nearby nations may widen.”

No, Repealing the Second Amendment Would Be a Bad Idea

The frustration of retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens over the Court’s gun rights decision in the landmark Heller case is understandable. But his call in a New York Times op-ed for the Second Amendment to be repealed is still a mistake, argues Noah Feldman for Bloomberg View.

“The First Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, has been around since 1791 without alteration. That very antiquity strengthens its protections — all of them. Opening the Pandora’s box of changing our fundamental rights because of a Supreme Court decision we don’t like threatens the very structure of the Bill of Rights itself,” Feldman writes.

“James Madison understood this very well. He hoped for the Constitution to ultimately earn ‘veneration.’ Although he recognized that the Constitution had to allow for amendment, he also wanted to avoid the rush to change that would have come with further constitutional conventions, which he hoped to hold off.”

“If you believe that the Supreme Court has the legitimate authority to find the constitutional rights to abortion, gay marriage and freedom to burn the flag, then you had better acknowledge that the court also has the legitimacy to expand the Second Amendment — even if you disagree with that judgment.”

Why the Arab World Suddenly Hearts Israel

The muted Arab reaction to President Trump’s announcement on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was just the latest example of a dramatic shift in the region, write Shai Feldman and Tamara Cofman Wittes for Foreign Policy. Israel is suddenly uncontroversial – and it’s not just a rising Iran that is uniting former foes.

“The recent 10-year, $15 billon agreement signed between Israeli and Egyptian companies for the sale of natural gas is a game-changer in Arab-Israeli politics. This agreement will allow Egypt to profit from liquefying and re-exporting the purchased gas to Europe and Africa, boosting its prospects as a regional energy hub and creating economic interdependence between two former enemies,” they write.

“No less significant are new opportunities for economic interdependence between Israel and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council rooted in Israel’s technological prowess and innovation economy…Just imagine the potential for civilian tech cooperation as Gulf states move to diversify their economies away from their complete dependence on oil and gas revenues to more service-based, technology-based, and knowledge-based economies.

“The growing advantages to Arab states of cooperation with Israel are further boosted by a parallel decline in Arab governments’ interest in the Palestinian issue. While these governments remain formally commitment to the Palestinian cause, they also show growing signs of fatigue regarding all matters Palestinian.”

China’s Big Lesson for America

In focusing on China’s trade practices – including announcing about $60 billion in tariffs – the Trump administration is missing the biggest lesson of China’s economic rise, suggests Steven Rattner in The New York Times. Beijing is making dramatic strides as it invests in its future – and the United States looks like it’s standing still.

“To be sure, China is a long way from overtaking the United States. Its gross domestic product per person is just $9,380, compared with $61,690 in the United States. Less visible than the sleek modern skyscrapers that now dominate China’s cityscapes are the 700 million people — about half of China’s population — who still live on $5.50 per day or less,” Rattner writes.

But “China continues to build airports, subway systems, renewable-energy facilities and the like at a torrid pace. Even its longstanding pollution problem is being addressed.”

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we rewrite our Constitution to emulate China. And I certainly understand the loss of freedom and civil liberties under the Chinese system. But that doesn’t mitigate the need for us to get our government to perform the way it did in passing the New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.”

Trump’s “Favorite” Middle East Strongman Should Be Worried

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is bound to win the ongoing presidential election. But don’t be fooled, writes Alexia Underwood for Vox. A sluggish economy for young people and growing political repression are storing up trouble that could ultimately explode in revolution.

“While overall employment has decreased to about 11 percent, almost 80 percent of people without jobs are young people,” Underwood notes. “A 2016 Brookings Institution report argues that if the Egyptian government does not deal with youth unemployment soon, ‘it will likely face instability — and perhaps another uprising — in the years to come.’”

“Sisi’s popularity also took a hit when he made the highly controversial decision to cede two islands in the Red Sea, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia. The islands, located between the two countries, are uninhabited and had been controlled by Egypt for the past 60 years. Sisi was accused of ‘selling’ them to the Saudis in exchange for investment money and aid.”

“It remains to be seen if this growing discontent with Trump’s favorite Middle Eastern authoritarian leader will build, or fizzle out in the next few years. But if history is any indication, Sisi should be careful.”

Courtesy: CNN

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