Fareed: The Trouble with An Overeager President

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

May 30, 2018

Fareed: The Trouble with An Overeager President

A sound deal with North Korea would be a good thing. But the Trump administration would be more likely to secure one if it didn't look quite so desperate, Fareed says.

"I think the United States has already put itself at a disadvantage in these discussions. Remember, the North Koreans insulted the Vice President and senior administration officials, and made clear that they had no intention of following the Libya model of denuclearization. And yet at the first bit of positive news from Pyongyang, the summit is suddenly back on track," Fareed says.

"I'm all for a good deal, but it's commonsense that one shouldn't appear too anxious. And we should also remember, despite the President's tweets and other comments praising North Korea, that this is arguably the most repressive government in the world."

Why is Trump so eager for a deal? Fareed suggests it's the old story of dipping into the foreign policy well when the domestic one has dried up.

"Many presidents confronting difficulty in domestic areas come to realize that foreign policy is perhaps the one area where the president essentially has almost unilateral authority."

"So, here is Trump with only really the tax cut to show. There is no wall. The tariff talks continue. There's no new deal on NAFTA. There are no new deals to replace the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Where can he show some progress? By putting on a spectacle that almost everyone will probably want to tune in to."
 

Don't Worry, It's Still (Mostly) Trade Jaw-Jaw, Not War-War

Try to ignore the chatter about a US-China trade war. Right now, it's mostly talk – and it might well stay that way, argues Zachary Karabell for Wired.

"For now, the confrontation remains almost entirely verbal, with dueling press releases and proposed tariffs to take effect at some point, which are often delayed when that point is reached. The question is where do we go from here," Karabell writes. "Given the short-termism of our culture, it's easy to forget that Chinese and American political and business leaders have been arguing and rejiggering their economic relationship at almost every point over the past 20 years."

"US and Chinese supply chains and trade remain deeply intertwined. The simplicity of proposing massive tariffs always masked the complexity of the relationship and the degree to which it is impossible to penalize China without simultaneously penalizing American businesses, workers, and consumers."
 

Mexico's Man of Mystery

Mexico has two front runners in its presidential race—leftist nationalist firebrand Andrés Manuel López Obrador and a pragmatic former Mexico City mayor…Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Which version of López Obrador takes office should he prevail on July 1 matters greatly to Mexicans—and their northern neighbor, too, write Juan Montes and José de Córdoba for The Wall Street Journal.

Many fear the López Obrador that will turn up "will be the fervent social activist with an authoritarian streak who sees the country divided in two camps, what he calls a 'mafia of the powerful' against Mexico's 'good and honest people.' Others hope it will be the López Obrador who as Mexico City mayor proved to be a pragmatic manager," they write.

"The stakes are almost as high for the US as for Mexico. In the past quarter-century, Mexico has gone from being a distant and standoffish neighbor with periodic economic crises to a close political ally and key economic partner."

Gran Hermano Is Watching You

It's not quite "pre-crime"—an idea popularized in Minority Report that technology can help spot crimes before they happen. But potential lawbreakers in Spain should note that it is increasingly likely they are being watched, the journal Nature suggests.

"If you live in southern Spain, last June was not a good time to lose your smartphone and, as a way of getting an insurance payout, falsely claiming that you had been mugged. Ten police forces in Murcia and Malaga had some extra help in spotting your deceit: a computer tool that analyzed statements given to officers about robberies and identified the telltale signs of a lie," Nature says in an editorial. "The government in Madrid is now rolling the system out across the country, and its developers are trying to apply its machine-learning methods to help detect other types of crime."

"In this case, the algorithm flagged up suspicious wording (based on a training set of statements known to be true and false), and left it up to the police to question suspects and get them to confess. A person, not a computer, made the final decision. Still, it's another example of the steady march of algorithms and artificial-intelligence (AI) systems into public life and decision-making—and that's a trend that makes some people uncomfortable."
 

Why China's Babies Have More to Smile About than America's

China is still likely a decade away from catching up with overall US life expectancy. But in terms of staying healthy longer, it has already overtaken the United States, Tom Miles reports for Reuters.
 
"American newborns can still expect to live longer overall—78.5 years compared to China's 76.4—but the last 10 years of American lives are not expected to be healthy," Miles writes, citing World Health Organization data.
 
"The United States was one of only five countries, along with Somalia, Afghanistan, Georgia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where healthy life expectancy at birth fell in 2016..."
 
"The best outlook was for Singaporean babies, who can count on 76.2 years of health on average, followed by those in Japan, Spain and Switzerland. The United States came 40th in the global rankings, while China was 37th."

 

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