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Guess Who Else Is Trying Out America First?

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

October 4, 2018

What Pence Got Right, Trump Gets Wrong on China

"Vice President Mike Pence launched a broad attack against Beijing Thursday, accusing China of 'predatory' economic practices, military aggression against the US and of trying to undermine President Donald Trump," CNN reports. Ely Ratner, Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security, emails Global Briefing that while the Trump administration has diagnosed the problem correctly, its response leaves a little more to be desired.

"This kind of public messaging is an important part of preparing the American people for the competition of the century. That said, while the diagnosis is sound, the administration's actual policies are falling short," Ratner writes.

"Trump is absent on human rights, rather than harnessing America's enormous strengths in values and ideology; he's hostile to multilateral trade deals in Asia and Europe, rather than supporting high-standard rules that advantage US companies and workers over China's unfair practices; he's planning to skip Asia's most important international summits later this year, rather than showing up and reasserting US diplomatic leadership. The list goes on and on.

"Bottom line: Good speech today, but Trump is failing to deliver a competitive strategy toward China commensurate with the scale and scope of the challenge Pence accurately described."

Guess Who Else Is Trying Out America First?

Poland's government is trying out its own America First policy—just look at the Polish President's suggestion of a "Fort Trump" in his country, writes Paul Taylor for Politico Europe. But going all-in with President Trump carries big risks.
"The ruling nationalists in Warsaw are gambling on personal chemistry and political affinity with US President Donald Trump to ensure their security from a revisionist Russia even as they isolate themselves from the rest of the European Union," Taylor writes.
"Putting so many eggs in the American basket is a risky strategy, not just because of Trump's unpredictability and uncertain duration in power, but also because Warsaw is about to lose its best friend in the EU—the UK—and has no obvious alternative ally in Brussels."
Meanwhile, "European diplomats worry that hard-liners in the White House are using a willing Warsaw as a wedge to divide and weaken the EU, with which Trump has clashed over trade, climate change, defense spending, Middle East diplomacy and global governance."

The Awkward Upside for Europe with Trump's Diplomacy

Like it or not, President Trump's unconventional negotiating style can sometimes be effective, writes Mary Dejevsky for The Independent. And for skeptics in Europe, it might even have some surprising benefits.

"For those who find the Trump rhetoric too crude and—more crucially—too fraught with geopolitical risks, one consolation might be the effect that his administration's approach is having on the European Union," Dejevsky argues.
"Not only has it driven the EU into almost unprecedented unity, both on the matter of trade tariffs and on Iran, but it has encouraged the Europeans to use the real economic clout they have and to look for imaginative solutions—to continue trading with Iran, for instance, despite US sanctions—that they would not have considered before. Europe has some way to go on developing its defense and security provision, but there has been progress on that front, too."

Brazil's Next President Is Making Promises He or She Can't Keep

From education to health care to crime, Brazil's presidential candidates have made plenty of promises to the electorate ahead of Sunday's election. There's just one problem, write Paulo Trevisani and Jeffrey T. Lewis for The Wall Street Journal: There's no money to do anything.
"After years of overspending followed by a deep recession, Brazil's next president will run a government living on borrowed money to pay salaries and pensions and keep schools and hospitals open," they write.

"Brazil's public spending outstrips revenue by an amount equal to 7% of annual economic output, double the rate of last year's US budget deficit. The borrowing needed to cover the gap has pushed debt to close to 80% of Brazil's gross domestic product. That level is higher than that in most other emerging markets and is fast becoming unsustainable, economists say."

It's Not Just Russia, It's Us

Western governments on Friday pushed back against "brazen" Russian attempts "to meddle in international affairs, publicly unmasking alleged intelligence agents and blaming Moscow for a series of audacious cyberattacks," CNN reports. But Micah Zenko writes in Foreign Policy that Americans worried about Russian interference are too often overlooking a crucial enabler: themselves.
"Politicians and pundits have chosen to blame the United States' divides on its adversaries, but that is like trying to curb illegal drug use by focusing solely on the foreign countries where the drugs are produced (forgetting, of course, that many drugs are produced at home). The appetite for selective, biased, or partisan information is growing, and it will continue to do so given apparent trends in the US public's information literacy, critical thinking, and partisanship. The country cannot merely wish away its confirmation biases."

The Best Thing About Trump's Trade Deal Isn't What's in It

The Trump administration's renegotiated NAFTA deal has a name that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. And that might be one of the best things about it, suggests Tyler Cowen for Bloomberg.
"So what is wrong with NAFTA? It's such a nice, easy-to-pronounce acronym, reminiscent of the word 'nifty.' But some of my fellow US citizens might notice that the North American Free Trade Agreement does not include the name of the largest nation party to it…With USMCA, by contrast, it is quite clear which country comes first," Cowen writes.
"This next point may sound slightly cynical, but here goes: Perhaps being so easy to say and remember has been part of NAFTA's problem. The sad reality is that voters do not love the idea of free trade once it is made concrete to them…So maybe every time people heard the name NAFTA, they were reminded of how much they disliked it."



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