Europe vs. America on Display

Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN's Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Chris Good
 
February 18, 2019

Europe vs. America on Display

As the rift between America and Europe widens, the best we can hope for is "at least a minimum level of re-engagement," The Financial Times writes. It's a dreary assessment, but disagreements usually kept private are even harder to ignore after the Munich Security Conference, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel was cheered for criticizing the US, Vice President Mike Pence was met with crickets, and his predecessor, Joe Biden, offered crowd-pleasing counterpoints.
 
The conference's report leveled biting criticism at President Trump, for his "irritating enthusiasm for strongmen" that suggests America is "living in a 'post-human rights world.'" Accordingly, CNN's Nic Robertson surmises the West is waiting out the Trump era, looking forward to the world order after him.

Division of Labour

What to make of the defection of seven MPs from Britain's Labour Party, over leader Jeremy Corbyn's alleged failure to tamp down anti-Semitism? The Economist says the move was a long time coming and doesn't signify a sea change in British politics, while The Guardian's Polly Toynbee calls it an unhelpful distraction during Brexit's political crisis.
 
While it might be a story about the spread of anti-Semitism in the UK, The Wall Street Journal draws another lesson: As Brexit looms, Britain's politics are an absolute mess, with fractious, confused alliances holding the major parties together—and with MPs holding party loyalty over what they might actually believe. One of the biggest stories in global economics is playing out amid this internal chaos, and the Journal takes it as a silver lining that seven MPs, at least, were willing to take a stand on something and break from the current order.

Afghans Fear a Sellout

By negotiating with the Taliban, is America simply selling out the Afghan government? That question is swirling in Kabul, CNN's Peter Bergen writes, as negotiations about America's future commitment notably don't include the Afghan government itself—and if America leaves, there could be real risks to Afghan women and minority groups.
 
The US has another option besides complete withdrawal, Bergen notes: A smaller number of troops in the country, tasked with counterterrorism, rather than full-scale counterinsurgency mission.
 
Meanwhile, the Afghan government has made its displeasure known, as The New York Times reports it effectively blocked Taliban negotiators from meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

What China Can Teach Us About Happiness

Economic growth doesn't always lead to happiness. In the World Happiness Report, China ranks low despite its economic expansion, and it offers a unique experiment on happiness, The Economist writes: Employment and access to social safety nets are better predictors of happiness in China than things like housing prices, GDP per capita, or perceptions of personal freedom to make decisions.
 
There's another element at play: While income inequality has risen, President Xi Jinping has shifted state propaganda to promote a sense of shared belonging to a national family. It might be working, as the happiness gap between rich and poor has narrowed.
 
China has gotten more aggressive with its social engineering, but its lessons about happiness might tell other countries something about inequality and the unhappiness it begets.
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