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Team Trump Steps Through the Looking Glass

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

May 15, 2018

Team Trump Steps Through the Looking Glass in the Middle East

The US decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem on Monday is "a worthy policy initiative in its own right, and should have been done decades ago," writes Michael Koplow for The Atlantic. But the Trump administration's spin that it somehow brings peace closer is folly. It didn't need to be this way.

"Acknowledging the competing claims to Jerusalem would have been a simple and relatively cost-free move that would have dispelled each side's myth that Jerusalem is a zero-sum game. Had Trump unequivocally declared American recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel's capital while just as unequivocally declaring that the US looks forward to one day placing its embassy to an independent Palestine in East Jerusalem, then he would have indeed been bringing everyone one step closer to peace while also standing up for Israel's legitimacy and historic rights." Koplow says. "For Israel, America is now the whole ball game, the only foreign power that matters. Under Donald Trump, Washington can be counted on to keep its commitments, veto pesky UN Security Council resolutions, sanction and oppose Iranian aggression and give the [Israel Defense Force] carte blanche in matters of Israeli national security. Never before has any American administration been so supportive." "The fact that Hamas is receiving growing support from Tehran further puts them on the wrong side of the equation from the Arab point of view. 
 
"While traditionally many Arab states made peace with the Palestinians a precondition for normalizing relations with Israel, now the process is reversed. The creeping normalization and gradual acceptance of Israel may be what convinces Palestinians that it is time to get serious about making a deal or risk being written out of the equation altogether."
 

Venezuelans Are Desperate. But Don't Expect Maduro to Lose

Almost 90 percent of Venezuelans are now living in poverty, according to one study, as the economy continues to deteriorate under President Nicolás Maduro. But don't expect him to lose Sunday's election, writes Eduard Freisler for National Review. An increasingly resigned public and the strongman playbook will likely see Maduro come out on top.

"The president controls all political institutions: the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, most of the governorships, the CNE," Freisler writes. "If the final vote count does not give Maduro the election, he can fall back on the CNE, which is in charge of counting the votes. That scenario probably won't be needed, however, since Maduro has no serious challengers. The most charismatic opposition leaders are jailed, exiled, or banned from running. Sidelining the opposition has been in the works in Venezuela for years."

"Gradually, Venezuelans have lost interest in politics, because they have to exhaust themselves just to get enough food, medicine, and other necessities to survive. The anxious rhythm of everyday life has left them, like the Cubans, dispirited, exhausted, and withdrawn."

The Lady Isn't a Monster

The treatment of Myanmar's Rohingya minority has been horrific. But the international anger over Aung San Suu Kyi's failure to take firm action is misguided, writes Peter A. Coclanis in Foreign Policy. She is who she has always been – including a politician with little room for maneuver.
 
"Aung San Suu Kyi isn't a monster. She's a political realist, attempting to do the best she can with limited power in an extremely volatile young democracy where the military still wields massive veto power," Coclanis writes. "That has caused her to make what may be considered callous decisions and to sacrifice the interests of a minority for those of the majority she believes she is tasked with representing. Unlike many of her critics, Aung San Suu Kyi isn't a free actor thousands of miles away who can speak without consequence; she's in a highly risky and painful position."

What Went Wrong for the West? The C Word

Whatever the intentions of a rising China, the reality is that the West currently has little capacity for handling it. For that, it only has itself to blame, suggests Martin Wolf in the Financial Times. After all, it squandered its biggest advantage: Competence.
 
"The dominant view among the rest used to be that the West was interventionist, selfish and hypocritical, but competent. After the financial crisis and the rise of populism, the ability of the West to run its economic and political systems well has come into doubt. For those who believe in democracy and the market economy as expressions of individual freedom, these failures are distressing. They can only be dealt with by reforms. Unfortunately, what the West is getting instead is unproductive rage," Wolf writes.
 
"The West needs to think much harder about how such a world should work. The US administration's view — that the unilateral exercise of US power is all that is needed — will fail. It will not manage the global commons that way, not that the Trump administration cares about that, at all. It will also not achieve stability: if it doubts that, it should look at the cauldron that the Middle East has become after endless interventions."

 

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