When a Dragon Dances with a Bear, America Should Worry

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

September 12, 2018

When a Dragon Dances with a Bear, America Should Worry

Russia is currently holding its biggest military exercises in decades. Its invitation to China might not mean much in purely military terms, but the message Moscow is sending should resonate well beyond Russia's borders, argues Alexander Gabuev in The Moscow Times.
 
"Both militaries still plan to rely on their own resources when it comes to defending their countries, and the only theaters where Moscow and Beijing may be developing joint operational plans as of now are Central Asia and the Korean Peninsula. However, the signals China's participation send should not be underestimated. What the Kremlin wants to say is that it no longer sees China as a military threat bordering the vast unpopulated regions of Siberia and the Far East," Gabuev writes.
 
"These signals should cement trust between Moscow and Beijing…The message here is very simple: if the US continues to push Russia into a corner, it will be forced to fall deeper into China's firm embrace. Probably deeper than it wants to."
 

What Happens in Europe Doesn't Stay in Europe

"The European Parliament on Wednesday voted to punish Hungary for cracking down on democratic institutions," CNN reports. Anne Applebaum suggests in The Atlantic that if the United States thinks it's immune to the splintering being seen in Europe, it needs to brush up on history.

"Poland is now one of the most polarized societies in Europe, and we have found ourselves on opposite sides of a profound divide, one that runs through not only what used to be the Polish right but also the old Hungarian right, the Italian right, and, with some differences, the British right and the American right, too," Applebaum says.

"American history is told as a tale of progress, always forward and upward, with the Civil War as a kind of blip in the middle, an obstacle that was overcome. In Greece, history feels not linear but circular. There is liberal democracy and then there is oligarchy. Then there is liberal democracy again. Then there is foreign subversion, then there is an attempted Communist coup, then there is civil war, and then there is dictatorship."

"History feels circular in other parts of Europe too…The language used by the European radical right—the demand for 'revolution' against 'elites,' the dreams of 'cleansing' violence and an apocalyptic cultural clash—is eerily similar to the language once used by the European radical left."

Syria Is About to Hit a New Low

The seemingly imminent full Syrian offensive against the last remaining rebel stronghold of Idlib could be the most awful of an already horrific war, writes David Gardner for The Financial Times. The West might want to wash its hands of the situation, but that doesn't mean it's going away.
 
"European powers are busily trying to disengage from and, where possible, ignore Syria. It does not look like they are well braced for the coming refugee crisis that threatens to revive the 'migrant' hysteria that seized Europe in 2015-16. Russia has been telling Germany and France it can facilitate the return of some 6 million Syrian refugees, if only the EU and the US reconcile with Assad rule in the interests of stability and cough up the funds to resurrect Syria from the rubble. This is a delusion," Gardner writes.
 
"The Assads will never allow the re-creation of a demographic balance — a prewar population with a 70 percent Sunni majority — that almost brought their minority regime down."

Why Florence Will Have Plenty of Company

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has described Hurricane Florence as a potential "Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast." It's also likely a sign of things to come, Henry Grabar writes for Slate.
 
"Florence is an example of the kind of storm we are likely to see more of as the planet heats up," Grabar writes.

"Warmer-than-average water—surface temperatures in the Western Atlantic are currently at 84 degrees, 3 to 4 degrees higher than normal for this time of year—is lending it power, as increased evaporation fills the air with water vapor that acts like hurricane fuel. More broadly, according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, the amount of rain falling in 'very heavy events'—those at the top 1 percent of all rainstorms, often hurricanes like Florence—has risen by 27 percent in the Southeast between 1958 and 2013."
 

Give a Man Some Cash…And?

What would happen if you cut out the "middleman" in foreign aid and gave money directly to the poor? The United States is trying to find out, notes Marc Gunther in The New York Times. The implications could be enormous.
 
The initiative by the United States Agency for International Development is "intended to find out whether conventional projects to help the world's poor — by giving them chickens, textbooks, toilets, job training or fertilizer — do as much good as simply giving people money and letting them decide how to spend it," Gunther writes.
 
"One advantage of providing money over conventional aid is that it is cheap and easy to deliver, via cellphones."
 

Buckle Up

5G has the potential to "transform the way people use the Internet," The Wall Street Journal reports. As China and the United States race to shape the technology in their own image, Beijing looks to have the early advantage.

"The new networks are expected to enable the steering of driverless cars and doctors to perform complex surgeries remotely. They could power connected appliances in the so-called Internet of Things, and virtual and augmented reality. Towers would beam high-speed Internet to devices, reducing reliance on cables and Wi-Fi," they write.
 
"China has made 5G a priority after failing to keep pace with Western countries in developing previous generations of mobile networks. The US dominated 4G, built in the late 2000s, much in the same way Europeans controlled 3G standards."
 
"China has 14.1 sites for every 10,000 people, compared with 4.7 in the US. That matters for 5G, because the new networks will require much larger numbers of cell sites than 4G."

 

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