Fareed: This Can’t Become the New Normal

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

May 12, 2017

Fareed: Trump Presidency Can’t Become the New Normal

“I have tried to evaluate Donald Trump’s presidency fairly. I’ve praised him when he has appointed competent people to high office and expressed support for his policies when they seemed serious and sensible,” Fareed writes in his latest Washington Post column.
“But there has always been another aspect to this presidency lurking beneath the surface, sometimes erupting into full view as it did this week. President Trump, in much of his rhetoric and many of his actions, poses a danger to American democracy.”
“The media should cover the administration’s policies fairly. But they must also never let the public forget that many of the attitudes and actions of this president are gross violations of the customs and practices of the modern American system — that they are aberrations and cannot become the new norms. That way, after Trump, the country will not start the next presidency with tattered standards and sunken expectations. The task is quite simply to keep alive the spirit of American democracy.”

  • Picking an effective FBI director to replace James Comey won’t fix the problem, argues Matthew Yglesias for Vox.

The FBI has operated with greater independence from the White House than most federal agencies, Yglesias writes. “But the Comey firing bell can’t be unrung. The independence of the FBI is now inherently compromised. And faced with a White House that’s willing to violate the norms governing presidential involvement in the investigative process, either there will be the forceful pushback from the legislative branch that most Republicans want to avoid, or else oversight of the Trump administration will be woefully lacking. There’s no middle path.”

Egypt: An Overrated Partner in Terror Fight?

The Trump administration appears to have embraced Egypt as a counterterrorism partner, writes David Schenker in Foreign Affairs. But, Schenker says, it is “unclear” that it is an asset against ISIS.
“Since 2011, Egypt has been losing ground against a virulent but numerically small insurgency in the Sinai. Notwithstanding its 440,000-strong standing army and $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military assistance, over the past five years, Egypt has been unable to contain — much less roll back — an estimated 600-1,000 insurgents,” Schenker writes. “Indeed, the Sinai-based insurgents have an impressive and growing list of accomplishments.”

The Real Lesson of the Russia Photos Row

The spat sparked by Russia’s TASS news agency publishing photos of President Trump’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “shows neither side knows what it’s doing,” write Matthew Bodner and Mikhail Fishman in the Moscow Times. “Russia wanted to advertise its victory: Finally, Lavrov was in the Oval Office again. But this braggadocio works better in confrontation, when every new scandal adds to the sense of victory, than in diplomacy. Ultimately, the photo scandal was an avoidable blunder.”

Don’t Get Too Excited About China Trade Deal

A new trade deal between China and the United States, which will allow U.S. beef and natural gas exports to flow into China, is a useful stepping stone, writes Christopher Balding on Bloomberg View. But “potential pitfalls still abound.”
“China remains fiercely protectionist, and U.S. companies will still complain about intellectual property theft and a hostile business environment there. Nor is the agreement likely to affect the bilateral trade deficit, a persistent fixation of Trump’s.
“But the reality is that the U.S. simply has a weak hand to play when it comes to negotiating with China. There’s an inherent asymmetry to the relationship: With one of the world’s most open economies, the U.S. has very little to offer China in terms of market access, while China has an enormous amount it could offer the U.S.”

Christians Fleeing the Middle East

Christians are increasingly fleeing the Middle East, driven both by extremism and governments backing the U.S. war on terrorism, reports Maria Abi-Habib for the Wall Street Journal.

“By 2025, Christians are expected to represent just over 3% of the Mideast’s population, down from 4.2% in 2010, according to Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Mass. A century before, in 1910, the figure was 13.6%…”
“With the near-depletion of the Christian population in the Middle East and the recent flight of the Kurdish minority Yazidis from Islamic State, followed just a few decades after the flight of its Jews, many fear for the region’s future — not only because of the rise of radicalism but the loss of talent needed for sputtering economies.”

Crippling Ransomware Attack Hits British Hospitals

Operations were cancelled and ambulances had to be diverted on Friday as Britain wrestled with a global ransomware attack that crippled parts of the country’s health service. “Health workers reported being locked out of their systems and seeing messages demanding ransom payments to regain access,” Laura Smith-Spark, Milena Veselinovic and Hilary McGann reported for CNN. 

  • Crippling for democracy. The White House and Congress don’t appear to realize “just how crippling digital illiteracy can be to a democracy,” writes Emily Dreyfuss in Wired.

“When the administration does make the turn, though, it will need to draft policies and guidelines that do the following: Federally mandate that backdoors are bad for privacy, security, and commerce; require all government networks and computers to run up-to-date software and hardware (including mobile); require government employees to keep their passwords up to date and learn to recognize phishing emails; write clear rules for when and how the government can demand information from tech companies; require all companies and government agencies to disclose quickly when they have been breached; set up guidelines for how to help people affected by breaches; set up diplomatic frameworks for sanctions against hackers.
“And that’s just a start.”

Labour’s Hard-Left Turn

Britain’s Labour Party has agreed on what is widely seen as its “most left-wing manifesto in more than three decades” as it gears up for a general election next month, reports Stephen Castle for the New York Times. “The leaked draft…suggested that [Jeremy] Corbyn, a left-wing politician, had broken decisively with the centrist legacy of most of his recent Labour predecessors, most notably with that of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who won three general elections,” Castle writes. “For years, Labour’s left-wing politicians have argued that the party has been unsuccessful because it has not offered voters a sufficiently radical alternative to Conservative policies, and that theory looks likely to be tested in the coming elections.” Included in the draft: Plans to renationalize Royal Mail and rail companies, as well as caps on energy prices.



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