Fareed: Why Trump Is Manufacturing a Crisis

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

May 4, 2018

Fareed: Why Trump Is Manufacturing a Crisis

President Trump's effort to whip up fear about the migrant caravan that traveled through Central America isn't about security, and it isn't rooted in the facts about migration to the US, Fareed writes in his Washington Post column. It's all about politics – and energizing his base.

"Trump is unrelenting in his attacks on these destitute, defenseless people. He demonizes them, describing them as threats to the United States, symbols of the lawlessness and violence that supposedly pervade the country," Fareed writes.

"Why is he doing this? The most likely answer is that he is searching for a strategy for the upcoming midterm elections, which are looking grim for Republicans, who have little to talk about."

"Trump…clearly understands in his gut what stirs his base. And he is determined to inflame these fears regardless of the facts or the effect it will have on the country."

China's Getting Pushy. America Should Push Back: Ratner

US intelligence said Thursday there's a high probability China deployed anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles to three artificial islands during recent military drills in the contested South China Sea, CNN reports, although a US defense official added it wasn't clear if the missiles remained behind.

Ely Ratner, Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security, emails Global Briefing that such moves are "destabilizing, but hardly surprising."

"Beijing is intent on controlling the waterway, and President Xi Jinping has made crystal clear that diplomacy and international law are not going to constrain his outsized ambitions. It was therefore only a matter of time before China began introducing high-end military capabilities to its artificial islands," Ratner says.

How should the US respond?

"Rather than imploring Beijing to retract its revisionist aims, Washington should turn its attention toward helping regional states fortify and defend their own islands and territorial waters. The United States should also provide regional militaries with counter-intervention capabilities to ward off Chinese coercion.

"Unless the US is ready to pack up and accept an illiberal China-led order in Asia, it's long overdue for Washington to make this shift from a policy of restraint to one of deterrence and denial, thereby militarizing the South China Sea on America's terms."

Kim's Charm Offensive Is Working

Kim Jong Un has been on a charm offensive. And for his southern neighbor, at least, it seems to be working, reports Robin Wright for the New Yorker.

"Before the summit, only ten percent of South Koreans said that they trusted the North Korean leader—the third in a dynasty that has ruled Pyongyang ruthlessly for seven decades. After the summit, public faith in his good intentions catapulted to almost eighty percent. Seoul has been abuzz with speculation that Kim's youth and years at a Swiss middle school have molded him into a modernizer with a pragmatic streak. Overnight, he's become a global player," Wright says.

Last week's meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, meanwhile, "produced 'the kind of publicity that would normally cost a billion dollars,' Nam Sung-wook, the former head of the Institute for National Security Strategy, told me. Public interest in the Kim persona has been so intense that a major South Korean newspaper hired three lip-readers to decipher what Kim said as he sat with Moon on a park bench."

Team Trump Digs Its Heels In

Two days of trade talks between the US and China ended Friday. But while Chinese officials tried to put a positive spin on the discussions, the list of demands was noticeably longer than the list of results, suggests Keith Bradsher in The New York Times.

"The [US] demands, which spread on Chinese social media and were confirmed by a person close to the negotiations, suggest that both sides have hardened their positions this week despite the two days of talks," Bradsher writes.

"The extensive list of United States trade demands was unexpectedly sweeping, and showed that the Trump administration has no intention of backing down despite Beijing's assertive stance in the last few days. 'The list reads like the terms for a surrender rather than a basis for negotiation,' said Eswar Prasad, an economics professor at Cornell University."
 

Europe Shouldn't Be Too Smug with US About Emissions

A UN climate meeting began in Bonn this week. But while Europe has talked a good game in recent years, America actually bested the continent in cutting emissions last year, writes Bob Berwyn for Pacific Standard.

"Despite a year-long pro-fossil fuel propaganda campaign by the government, US emissions dropped in 2017 by 0.5 percent (32 million tons); the EU, which talks a good climate game, saw emissions increase by 1.5 percent last year," Berwyn notes.

"Regarding the one-year comparison between emissions in the US vs. the EU, [climate expert Glen] Peters says that, while it doesn't tell the whole story, the comparison is a clarifying piece of that story, and demonstrates that market incentives can be just as important as policies and regulations."

"The US emissions decline was bigger than in any other major developed economy, mainly thanks to rapid deployment of renewable energy sources, including in red states like Texas and Kansas. But that may change in the future, pending the outcome of current efforts to encourage expanded oil and gas drilling, as well as coal production, and to roll back anti-pollution measures like auto efficiency standards and the Clean Power Plan."

Move Over Pizza Rat

New York's "pizza rat" might have wowed the world, but a species of African rat has developed a smell for something a lot more dangerous – and is saving lives in the process, Alexandra Wexler writes in the Wall Street Journal.

The African giant pouched rats' "keen sense of smell allows them to sniff out explosives faster, and more reliably, than traditional minesweeping technology," Wexler writes. "The rats' noses are so hypersensitive that they can detect tuberculosis in sputum samples more accurately than local lab tests and ferret out criminals trying to smuggle endangered species."

"According to Apopo, a nonprofit founded in Belgium that breeds and trains the rats, it could take a person with a metal detector up to four days to clear an area the size of a tennis court. In some countries, such as Colombia, where many mines were homemade, the relative lack of metal components makes the going slow."

The rats, in contrast, can clear an area that size in about 30 minutes. And, in case you're wondering, the rats aren't considered expendable: "[A]t 2 to 3 pounds in weight, the rats are too light to set off a land mine."

 

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