Friday News Roundup — October 29, 2021

Building Democratic Coalitions for Global Challenges

Happy Halloween and greetings from Washington from all of us at CSPC. More stressful than spooky, the back-and-forth in the Democratic caucus appears to be moving towards resolution, even if the White House’s framework could not deliver a vote before President Biden’s summit trip to Europe and Virginia’s neck-and-neck gubernatorial race.

Focusing on the Old Dominion for a moment, while the attack ads have been full of political fright rather than the Halloween variety, both parties face their fears on Tuesday. For the GOP, can a candidate thread the needle between the rural, working class Trump base and suburban swing voters? For the Democrats, fears of backlash to President Biden, a mid-term wipeout, and their base’s voter enthusiasm are the Halloween frights. While New Jersey also goes to the polls, Virginia will provide a glimpse into how the political dynamics from 2016 on have changed, or not, the nature of swing state politics.

This week Joshua reviewed Dr. Fiona Hill’s new book “There is Nothing for You Here”, a memoir that explores the impact of policy decisions and structural obstacles to post-industrial economic recovery and upward mobility.

In a Hill op-ed, Joshua also discussed the White House’s anticipated National Security Strategy and what it may say about Russia, suggesting that the administration adopt a measure of strategic humility and look at things as they are, not as we would wish them to be when it comes to Moscow.

This week’s roundup is brief, with Dan suggesting that real solutions to global crises will be found in coalitions with close allies and partners, rather than global summits. As always, we wrap with some news you may have missed.

Global Crises & Democracy’s Response at the G20 and COP26

Dan Mahaffee

G20 Summit Site — Rome, Italy (G20 press photo)

Throughout the Biden administration’s foreign policy, there has been an emphasis on the importance of relationships with allies and partners, as well as the importance of building coalitions to address global challenges. Certainly, the challenges are significant. Italy, holding the G20 presidency, has declared the priorities of “people, planet, and prosperity.” While addressing the pandemic recovery is the most acute crisis, the leaders of the G20 will be called on to tackle the need for sustainable and equitable economic growth, as well as solutions for the climate crisis — especially with the Glasgow COP26 climate discussions immediately following.

While the G20 provides a global forum, it is notable that neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping will be attending in person. Citing the pandemic, they will be attending virtually. While they are not the only leaders to do so — Mexican President Obrador being another — their absence will be noted at a time when U.S. and allied leaders are forming their own coalitions of democracies on important geo-strategic issues.

The G20 has always been an unwieldy body, first convened in earnest with heads of state/government following the 2008 financial crisis and the need to coordinate a global financial response. According to the body, “[G20] members account for more than 80% of world GDP, 75% of global trade and 60% of the population of the planet.” Yet, spanning this much of the globe, it also captures many of the world’s existing disagreements. If anything the disjointed global response to the pandemic reveals the difficulties in responding to immediate crises — even with the resources of philanthropists and innovative treatments coming about in rapid development. Domestic politics in each country have shaped responses — and wholesale politicization of the virus, masking, and vaccines — while international rivalries have prevented both a clear investigation into the source of the pandemic and coordinated preparation for future diseases.

With the COP26 summit following, at least the global forum serves as a good lead up to a more-focused discussion on climate change. Here too, however, the path ahead for global cooperation is unclear here, as well. The fundamental challenge here is that the transition to a sustainable, renewable, low-to-zero carbon future is not a matter of simply unplugging the old dirty economy and energy and plugging in the new one. With an energy transition taking place, the result is new energy crunches, especially as demand returns, often in disjointed fits and starts, from the depths of the pandemic crises. Responding to these crunches, China is turning to coal, while Europe hopes for more Russian natural gas.

While these summits can help to coordinate truly international responses to global crises, it would be better to strengthen the coalitions among liberal democracies and open economies to lead, with solutions reflecting our values and interests. China and Russia will confront climate, not because we make deals with them, but because they have to as well. In building meaningful and effective coalitions with our partners and allies, we can also shape the standards and incentives for tackling these challenges. Last week, I suggested just as much for U.S.-China competition, rather than cooperation, to reach climate solutions — and bringing our allies as partners in these competitions will also be key.

In the Indopacific, the deepening relationship of the Quad countries — Australia, India, Japan, and the United States — is not only focusing on security and military cooperation, but also securing supply chains for critical resources and strategic technologies. At the same time, the transatlantic relationship, while reeling from the debacle of the fall of Kabul and the genuine sense of AUKUS betrayal, there are deepening efforts to coordinate on issues of digital trade and technology. While these are already weighty agendas — with significant opportunities for cooperation yet some significant differences in geopolitical and regulatory outlooks — they are a model for how future discussions should also touch on climate response and resilience, pandemic preparedness, models of equitable economic growth, and other near- and-long-term issues requiring a global response.

Building these coalitions of democracies to address global challenges can provide a clear response to Xi Jinping’s claims of democracy’s demise and its inability to deliver solutions. This challenge should resonate not only in our efforts to tackle these challenges, but also to break through the false incentives and hyper politicization of our current politics — both in the United States and other democracies. Too often, we have seen our opponents’ solution to the crises as a greater threat than the challenge itself. Facing crises of the climate, economic growth, and preparedness for pandemics and other calamities, democracies need to stand together and deliver solutions.

News You Might Have Missed

Federal judge in Florida says Trump Twitter case must be heard in California

Former President Donald Trump is in the process of trying to restore access to his twitter account @realdonaldtrump. He initially filed a claim in Florida, however, District Judge Robert Scola Jr. ruled that the case must be heard in Northern California where Twitter is based. The decision is based on the company’s terms of service and precedent from a recent case between Trump and YouTube that was also moved from Florida to California. In response, an attorney for Trump called the ruling a “heavy burden.”

Sudan coup leader says will appoint new premier within week

During Monday’s military coup in Sudan, the transitional government was dissolved and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was detained. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the Sudanese general who led the coup, is now saying that he will appoint a premier to share leadership with the military until elections are held. This differs from Burhan’s statements earlier this week that indicate that he would rule Sudan until elections would be held in the summer of 2023.

Lost Hiker Ignores Rescuers’ Calls, assuming they’re spam

A hiker visiting Colorado was lost for 24 hours after going off a marked hiking trail. While lost in the mountain forest, friends contacted rescuers, who then attempted to contact the lost hiker’s cell phone. Fortunate to have reception, the hiker still ignored rescuers’ calls because they were coming from an unrecognized number — assuming they were a spam or other robocall.

The views of authors are their own and not that of CSPC.



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CSPC is a 501(c)3, non-partisan organization that seeks to apply lessons of history and leadership to today's challenges