This Week’s Top 5 Picks in International History and Diplomacy

(Image: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)

Why Britain Needs Its Own Mueller

Carole Cadwalladr

NYR Books

At the end of January 2017, days after Donald Trump’s inauguration, I sat in a busy Pret a Manger sandwich bar in central London, a stone’s throw from the mother of parliaments, and flicked through snapshots of Donald Trump on a mobile phone.

The phone belonged to Andy Wigmore, an associate of Nigel Farage’s, the long-time leader of Britain’s insurgent anti-Europe campaign and latterly a friend and supporter of the man he refers to on his frequent appearances on Fox TV as “The Donald.” Wigmore, a businessman who has a sideline as a trade envoy to Belize, a Central American country known, among other things, for its sugar cane and money-laundering, had taken a photo of Farage and Trump standing in front of Trump’s golden elevator a month earlier. The photo went viral almost instantly.

This was Trump’s first meeting with a foreign politician, the man he called “Mr. Brexit,” and Wigmore was there for the ride alongside his business partner, a previously unremarkable insurance entrepreneur from Bristol in the west of England named Arron Banks. In the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum, Banks had given upward of £8 million to Nigel Farage’s successful Leave.EU campaign, an act that overnight had made him Britain’s biggest ever political donor. (Read more)

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The Land That Failed to Fail

Philip P. Pan

New York Times

In the uncertain years after Mao’s death, long before China became an industrial juggernaut, before the Communist Party went on a winning streak that would reshape the world, a group of economics students gathered at a mountain retreat outside Shanghai. There, in the bamboo forests of Moganshan, the young scholars grappled with a pressing question: How could China catch up with the West?

It was the autumn of 1984, and on the other side of the world, Ronald Reagan was promising “morning again in America.” China, meanwhile, was just recovering from decades of political and economic turmoil. There had been progress in the countryside, but more than three-quarters of the population still lived in extreme poverty. The state decided where everyone worked, what every factory made and how much everything cost.

The students and researchers attending the Academic Symposium of Middle-Aged and Young Economists wanted to unleash market forces but worried about crashing the economy — and alarming the party bureaucrats and ideologues who controlled it. (Read more)

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Brexit hardliners have shown they are not up to the job

Robert Shrimsley

Financial Times

It would all be different if a real Leaver were in charge, lamented the Brexit hardliner, Jacob Rees-Mogg as he launched his effort to topple Theresa May. This is a constant theme of the hardliners’ betrayal narrative. The prime minister was a non -beLeaver; a political mudblood.
In this narrative, a real Brexiter would have shown the gumption to get a good deal. We’ll never know, the Leavers wail, how things would have been with a true disciple in charge.
Except that actually we have a very good idea, because we have had two years to watch the hardline Brexiters and assess their political acumen. Their record is an uninterrupted litany of cowardice, incompetence and blame shifting. For all the bluster, they have blinked, bottled or botched it at every turn.
Even when last week they came to the belated realisation that Mrs May was going to let them down — something she could not have made more obvious if she’d plastered Westminster with signs proclaiming “I’m going to let you down” — even then they could not properly organise the defenestration they had been promising to gullible journalists each weekend for the past six months. (Read more)

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Hillary Clinton: Europe must curb immigration to stop rightwing populists

Patrick Wintour

Guardian

Europe must get a handle on immigration to combat a growing threat from rightwing populists, Hillary Clinton has said, calling on the continent’s leaders to send out a stronger signal showing they are “not going to be able to continue to provide refuge and support”.

In an interview with the Guardian, the former Democratic presidential candidate praised the generosity shown by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, but suggested immigration was inflaming voters and contributed to the election of Donald Trump and Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

“I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame,” Clinton said, speaking as part of a series of interviews with senior centrist political figures about the rise of populists, particularly on the right, in Europe and the Americas. (Read more)

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The Inconvenient Truth About Saudi Arabia

Richard N. Haass

Project Syndicate

NEW YORK – The 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” highlights former US Vice President Al Gore’s efforts to alert his fellow Americans to the perils of global warming. What made the truth inconvenient is that avoiding catastrophic climate change would require people to live differently and, in some cases, give up what they love (such as gas-guzzling cars).

For nearly two months, we have all been living with another inconvenient truth – ever since Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist working for The Washington Post and living in the United States, disappeared after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul. (Read more)

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