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

February 14, 2018

How America Got the Dragon All Wrong

America has always had an exaggerated view of its ability to change China. It’s now time to face reality, write Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner in Foreign Affairs. From restricting market access for Western companies, to cracking down on dissent inside the country to militarizing artificial islands in disputed waters, Beijing has made clear it has no intention of being bound by the US-led liberal order.
“Chinese officials see a United States that has been hobbled for years by the global financial crisis, its costly war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and deepening dysfunction in Washington,” they write.

“Washington now faces its most dynamic and formidable competitor in modern history. Getting this challenge right will require doing away with the hopeful thinking that has long characterized the United States’ approach to China. The Trump administration’s first National Security Strategy took a step in the right direction by interrogating past assumptions in US strategy. But many of Donald Trump’s policies—a narrow focus on bilateral trade deficits, the abandonment of multilateral trade deals, the questioning of the value of alliances, and the downgrading of human rights and diplomacy—have put Washington at risk of adopting an approach that is confrontational without being competitive; Beijing, meanwhile, has managed to be increasingly competitive without being confrontational.

“The starting point for a better approach is a new degree of humility about the United States’ ability to change China.”

Kim’s Five-Star Charm Offensive

Kim Jong Un’s decision to dispatch his sister to represent North Korea at the PyeongChang Olympics was a stroke of genius – and has left the United States on the back foot, argues Thomas Walkom in the Toronto Star. Indeed, Kim has achieved five things in quick succession:
“First, he has reopened the idea of substantive talks between North and South Korea. If they do go ahead, who knows where they lead?,” Walkom says.
“Second, by doing so, he has exploited the real divisions in strategy that exist between South Korea on one side and Japan and the U.S. on the other.
“Third, he has made it politically more difficult for the U.S. to launch even a limited military strike against the North. It’s hard to dismiss Kim as a dangerous madman when he is behaving so reasonably.
“Fourth, he has reminded the South that Northerners are not all monsters and that people on both sides of the border share a common, fierce nationalism.
“Fifth, he has done all of this without even suggesting that he might give up nuclear weapons.”
  • Thanks, but no thanks. But while Kim may have earned some plaudits for his diplomatic nous abroad, many younger South Koreans just aren’t feeling it, the Financial Times reports.
 “The generational split is evident in opinion polls, with 60 per cent of South Koreans in their 20s opposing unification, according to the Korea Institute for National Unification. That figure compares with 30 percent of South Koreans in their sixties,” write Bryan Harris and Song Jung-a.
Emerging Leaders in Innovation

Multinationals are back in the driver’s seat of global innovation (+4% since 2014), according to a new study, while small and medium enterprises (-11%) and entrepreneurs (-2%) seem to have lost some of their innovation drive. Explore more findings from the 2018 GE Global Innovation Barometer.

Netanyahu’s Arch-Enemy to the Rescue?

The political future of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is uncertain following the announcement by police Tuesday that there is “sufficient evidence” to indict him on criminal charges in two corruption cases. But he could have an unlikely savior, suggests Daniel Gordis for Bloomberg View: Arch-rival Iran.

“The Israeli version of ‘the urgent trumping the important’ is security trumping everything else. This week, Israel shot down an Iranian drone that had entered its airspace, which led to an Israeli bombing raid on Syrian and Iranian installations in Syria in which an Israeli F-16 was shot down (the first since Ron Arad was shot down in 1986). Israel followed up with an intense attack on more Syrian and Iranian installations, which the army thinks took out nearly half of Syria’s air defense system,” Gordis writes.

“[A] low level of dread prevails. In some of the Israeli press, the day is being called the first battle of an all but inevitable Israel-Iran war. The question on many Israelis’ minds is, ‘When will the next war begin?’

“That may help Netanyahu, for Israelis want to know who will protect them best. And they trust Netanyahu to fight when needed, but not to do so recklessly. Ultimately, more than any other Israeli politician, in times of war (which have been few during his administrations), he proves to be the grownup in the room. In a country that has never known a day of peace since its founding in 1948, no matter how distasteful they may find the corruption allegations, having a strong but level-headed leader matters more to Israelis than anything else.”

The World’s Message for the Pentagon? We Can Do That, Too

Terrorism continues to grab the attention of governments and their militaries, but the “democratisation” of new technologies is giving powers like China and Russia a chance to catch up with the United States and its Western allies, a new report says (pdf). Conflict between these great powers isn’t inevitable – but they are getting ready for it just in case.
“Western governments still have it in their power to maintain an edge. Their military forces will need to be agile and adaptable, better at working with partners inside and outside government, and able to make flexible use of technological developments,” writes John Chipman for the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“But success in this is not predetermined. The growing democratization of technology will make it harder still, given that the West no longer has a monopoly on world-leading defense innovation and production, or the funds to enable these. Indeed, China might be the one to leap ahead.”
One example? “China has…continued to pursue advanced technologies, including extremely high-performance computing and quantum communications. China’s emerging weapons developments and broader defense-technological progress mean that it has become a global defense innovator and is not merely ‘catching up’ with the West.”

The Valentine’s Story...of Globalization?

Most Colombians might not be celebrating Valentine’s Day today, but they play an outsize role in helping Americans mark it. And, in the process, they perfectly encapsulate the double-edged sword of globalization, suggests Damian Paletta in the Washington Post.

“It’s peak season for a massive Colombian industry that shipped more than 4 billion flowers to the United States last year — or about a dozen for every US resident,” Paletta writes.
“The Colombian industry has bloomed thanks to a US effort to disrupt cocaine trafficking, the expansion of free-trade agreements — and the relentless demand by American consumers for cheap roses.”
“In 27 years, market forces and decisions made in Washington have reshaped the rose business on two continents. The American flower industry has seen its production of roses drop roughly 95 percent, falling from 545 million to less than 30 million.”
  • End of the affair? The CATO Institute’s Colin Grabow says the Colombian example is a free trade Valentine story with one unhappy twist: “[T]he trade agreement signed with Colombia is the last to have been approved by Congress (along with free trade agreements with Panama and South Korea, all of which were passed on October 12, 2011).
“While President Trump has promised the conclusion of additional bilateral agreements, new negotiations have yet to be initiated. That’s unfortunate, and we should hope that 2018 will see a new push on this front. Colombian roses are but one beautiful example of the gains to be had from tariff-free access to the world’s offerings, and Americans deserve access to all of them.”



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