U.S. Allies Worry if America Still Has Their Back

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

May 11, 2017

Trump “Should Have Avoided Temptation” to Meet Lavrov

President Trump should have avoided the temptation to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov yesterday, argue Mark D. Simakovsky and and Daniel P. Vajdich in Foreign Policy. “Now was not the time to reward Moscow with a presidential meeting.”
“The United States and Russia must talk. They must negotiate. And they must take into account each other’s policies on the global stage,” they write. “But after multiple resets and countless initiatives by past American administrations to fundamentally transform relations with Moscow, President Trump should tread carefully. At the very least, what this means is that he should not have given Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov a personal meeting without a clear and achievable Russia strategy in place. That time may come, but now was not the time.”

U.S. Allies Worry America No Longer Has Their Back: NYT

President Trump’s fixation on resolving the North Korea issue is sowing confusion among U.S. allies, writes Javier Hernandez for the New York Times. And that is no more clear than in America’s apparent refusal to challenge China’s expansive territorial claims. “Washington has been the main critic of China’s efforts to build fortresses atop reefs, rocks and islands in the South China Sea. But the Trump administration, apparently wary of angering Beijing, recently decided to suspend patrols of islands and reefs claimed by China.” “Mr. Trump’s credibility among Asian allies is now at stake, diplomats and analysts say. He may jeopardize longtime economic and security alliances if he does not show a willingness to look beyond North Korea, they say. “The president also risks pushing countries in the region closer to Beijing if he does not demonstrate that the United States intends to vigorously challenge China’s territorial claims in the sea.”

Macron’s Honeymoon Over Already?

Incoming French President Emmanuel Macron’s honeymoon with the European Union is already over, argues David Herszenhorn in Politico EU.
“European leaders who rejoiced at Marcon’s victory suddenly found themselves confronted with a president-elect of France with clear ideas about reforming the EU — and the political capital to put those ideas in motion,” Herszenhorn writes. “He is a new and unpredictable force: liberal, internationalist and pro-integration, for sure, but unbeholden to the traditional parties that have long swapped control of the European institutions among themselves.”

Germany — the World Needs You!

With China, Iran and Russia extending their influence, “a new tribal world order is threatening to replace the liberal world order” that has so benefited the United States, write Jeffrey Gedmin and Gary Schmitt in the Washington Post. It’s up to Germany to shrug off its dark past and lead the fightback. “There is still a real danger the European Union will come unglued. While much of Washington might be indifferent to the prospect — with many of our conservative friends ready to cheer a day of reckoning for overzealous Brussels bureaucrats — we believe that the end of the E.U. would be a disaster for the ideals that both we and Europeans still hold dear,” they write. “And yes, greater German leadership should also encompass the ticklish area of defense — despite lingering taboos. Today, German soldiers now find themselves on the ground in Lithuania as part of a ramped-up NATO deployment in the Baltic nations. This at least shows Berlin is willing to stand up to Russia, and to stand by its allies in a meaningful way. We need more steps like this.”

John Kerry, Where Are You?

Russia appears to have realized that the Trump administration is still learning on the job, giving it “space to ram through its own agenda” on Syria, writes Nic Robertson for CNN Opinion. And with no John Kerry to push back against Moscow, it’s doing a pretty good job.
“No senior U.S. diplomat was sent to the Russian-implemented Syria ceasefire talks in Astana, even though the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey were all there. The most senior U.S. representative was a deputy ambassador,” Robertson says.

“So when U.N.-brokered peace talks begin again next week in Geneva, Russia will have set the formula for de-escalation and will be in pole position to shape the political outcome, too. Short of Tillerson or Trump stepping up engagement, Putin will finally be on track to getting his wishes in Syria, an end to the fighting and a client — Assad — in power.”

Latin America (Finally) Deals with Neighbor in Crisis: The Economist

“For years, Latin American governments kept quiet as first Hugo Chávez and then his successor, Nicolás Maduro, hollowed out Venezuela’s democracy,” The Economist writes. “Now their economic bungling and Mr Maduro’s increasingly harsh rule are causing a humanitarian crisis that the region can no longer ignore.”
“Colombia and Brazil bear the brunt of the Venezuelan exodus. By one unofficial estimate, more than 1 million Venezuelans now live in Colombia, though many have dual nationality. Colombian mayors have started blaming the migrants for unemployment and crime. Last year more than 7,600 Venezuelans sought care at hospitals in the Brazilian state of Roraima, straining facilities and supplies of medicine, according to Human Rights Watch, a pressure group. This week the mayor of Manaus in the state of Amazonas declared an emergency after hundreds of Venezuelans turned up.”

China: Asteroid Catcher

China is considering a mission to “capture” an asteroid, the South China Morning Post‘s Stephen Chen writes, citing state media. “The ultimate aim would be to mine the asteroid for metal and minerals, or use it as the base for a space station.”  “Ye Peijian, chief commander and designer of China’s lunar exploration program, said at a meeting of space authorities in Beijing this week that the nation’s first batch of asteroid exploration spacecraft would probably be launched in about 2020, according to state media reports,” Chen writes. According to Ye, many near-Earth asteroids “contain high concentrations of precious metals” that could “justify the enormous cost and risk of space exploration as their economic value could amount to trillions of U.S. dollars.”



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