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Surprise! Kim Pulls a Kim

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

May 16, 2018

Surprise! Kim Pulls a Kim

The White House appears to have been caught off guard by North Korea's suspension of talks with South Korea – and Pyongyang's suggestion that it might ditch plans for Kim Jong Un's meeting with President Trump, too. The reason for Kim's cold feet? The White House's public efforts to hold his feet to the fire, suggests Donald Kirk for the Daily Beast.

"The image of a bunch of nosy foreigners poking around hundreds of caves and redoubts and tunnels where the North Koreans may be stashing [nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles] is fantasy. It's not going to happen. Not as long as Kim is in charge," Kirk writes.

"The dreams of a deal whereby Kim sees the light, acquiesces and bows down in talks with Trump may have been encouraged by one gesture the North Koreans are making. That's the closure and destruction of the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri, in a mountainous region far northeast of Pyongyang, to be carried out between May 23 and May 25. That's going to be a tremendous event, live on TV, but it's all for show.

"The site, where North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests, is presumed no longer usable."
  • Does this look like Libya? North Korea isn't going to give up its nuclear weapons for nothing, the Korea Times editorializes. It has seen how that story plays out.
"Of course, the Kim regime must have been displeased with US calls for complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. The North is opposing US moves to apply a Libya-style denuclearization formula, under which the African country transferred all of its fissile materials to the US for dismantling. The North apparently opposes such a formula, believing the Moammar Gadhafi regime collapsed because it gave up its nuclear ambitions."
 

Not All Strongmen Are Created the Same

That Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are both strongmen is in little doubt, and both tightened their grip on their respective countries this year. But there's a fundamental difference between the two, writes William Overholt for the Nikkei Asian Review: Xi is advancing reforms, Putin has advanced himself.

"Yes, both men are authoritarians, but Putin's party is his personal instrument whereas Xi is an instrument of his party. Putin is not tackling corruption, improving the environment or reforming the Russian economy. Xi already has major accomplishments to show for his first term," Overholt writes.

"China is quickly relinquishing old industries, like the making of cheap socks, and building more modern ones, such as biotech and telecom equipment. Overproduction of steel and other materials is declining fast. Environmental amelioration is accelerating. Xi's geopolitical vision is inspiring many."

No, Europe Won't File for Divorce from America

The Trump administration's decision to walk away from the Iran deal has prompted speculation that Europe might be eyeing a breakup with the United States. But don't let its trade prowess fool you, writes Bruno Tertrais in The Guardian. The truth is divorce isn't an option – Europe is in no position to go it alone.
 
"There is no available spare superpower with which Europeans would share enough interests to build a new form of alliance: China and Russia offer no such thing. Besides, transatlantic flows of trade and capital stand at the heart of the global economy, and they are irreplaceable," Tertrais writes.
 
"Another reason to maintain a partnership with the US is the magnitude of the security risks Europe faces. Islamic State might be militarily defeated, but jihadist terrorism is a generational challenge: we cannot afford to turn our backs on cooperation with the US. The trauma of terrorist attacks in Europe remains vivid.
 
Meanwhile, "Europe can't afford a transatlantic trade war. Its companies and banks do much more business on the other side of the Atlantic than they will ever do with Iran. If anything, this crisis should bolster calls to build up Europe's defense capabilities."

How Trump Can Fix Immigration in America

President Trump's supporters believe his unconventional approach allows him to make diplomatic breakthroughs others think impossible. It's time to test that at home on immigration, suggests Reihan Salam in The Atlantic. It's time to offer an amnesty.

Trump should "offer a new grand bargain of his own: Building on the Secure and Succeed Act, he would call for limits on chain migration and serious workplace enforcement, two of the restrictionist movement's core objectives, and in exchange he would accept an amnesty for unauthorized migrants who have peacefully resided in the US for a lengthy period of time," Salam writes.
 
"To establish his credibility on this front, he could shift enforcement resources from long-stayers to more recent arrivals, with a particular focus on visa overstayers. Doing so would send a clear signal to potential migrants, which in turn would soon yield a steep decline in the unauthorized inflow."

"[T]he fact remains that most Americans don't have the stomach to uproot the long-resident unauthorized population, and pretending otherwise makes immigration enforcement less tractable, not more so."
 

Where the Super Rich Are Getting Even Richer

There were more billionaires than ever in 2017 – and, for the first time, more in Asia than North America, according to a new report.

Last year saw the global billionaire population grow almost 15% "to an all-time high of 2,754 individuals, surpassing the previous peak of 2,473 in 2015," according to the latest Billionaire Census produced by global wealth information firm Wealth-X.

"A standout trend in 2017 was the surge in Asia's billionaire class, led predominantly by China and Hong Kong, although healthy gains were also recorded in India," the report notes, citing "higher infrastructure spending, booming prices and robust demand from an expanding middle class" among the factors responsible.

Also of note: "The number of female billionaires rose by 18% in 2017, outpacing the growth of 14.5% in the male billionaire population and increasing the female share of the global billionaire population to 11.7%."

 

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