May 12, 2016 | By Ivo H. Daalder

This Week’s Reads – Governance in Crisis

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) before forcing Davutoglu's resignation. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) before forcing Davutoglu's resignation. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

On both sides of the Atlantic, foreign policy is at a crossroads. Donald Trump proposes America turn inward, forgoing free trade and pulling back from its longstanding alliances. Nationalists across Europe have proposed likewise. Both, however, are symptoms, not causes, of a larger problem.
 
That problem is a crisis of governance that has beset much of the West. In the United States, trust in government’s ability to solve problems has never been lower. Institutions that once enjoyed high public trust, from the Presidency and Congress to the news media, have been painstakingly delegitimized in recent years. The situation is no better in Europe, where enthusiasm for European solutions—as opposed to national solutions—has plummeted. Indeed, the looming Brexit vote may be followed by a string of similar referendums across Europe.
 
This absence of effective governance at the national and international level has serious consequences—a rise in nationalism, an ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, and nuclear proliferation offer just three examples. And yet, it also provides an opening for foreign policy solutions to be crafted at the subnational level. This is exactly what we’re seeing in cities across the globe—as noted by mayors Michael Bloomberg, Anne Hidalgo, and Eduardo Paes in one of this week’s reads.
 
This week’s reads portray how American and European leaders are responding to their common crisis in governance, as well as many of the challenges that have emerged as a result. 

How Donald Trump Has Changed the World

Gideon Rachman/Financial Times

Gideon Rachman draws a connection between Trump securing the Republican Party’s nomination and the candidacy of Jean-Marie Le Pen, a far-right candidate who made it all the way to a runoff in France’s 2002 election. Both candidates took their respective countrymen by surprise and brought ideas that were once on the fringe into the mainstream: anti-free trade, nationalism, embracing the “clash of civilizations” between the West and Islam, assaulting the “elite,” and denouncing traditional media. Even if Trump’s campaign fails, says Rachman, he’s demonstrated the political potency of such ideas.

Clinton’s Imagination Problem

David Brooks/The New York Times

Following her tour through Appalachia, Hillary Clinton proposed the same reforms to help the struggling region that have been offered by other mainstream politicians. Instead of repeating time-old suggestions of training, tax relief, and treatment, a more daring approach is needed to both address the roots of the problems and perhaps bolster the Clinton campaign.

Turkey Power Shift Upends EU Refugee Deal

Sinan Ülgen/POLITICO

Turkey’s failure to fulfill five of the European Commission’s requirements for a refugee deal, including adjustments to its anti-terror legislation and increased democratic transparency, was followed by the forced resignation of the Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. This power shift has made it even more difficult for Turkey to meet the refugee deal requirements, just as it seemed Turkey and the EU were entering a period of unified purpose.

Brexit Vote Set to Fuel More Referendums

Christian Oliver/Financial Times

The impending referendum on Britain’s future in the European Union is creating a domino effect in other European countries. According to a recent poll, a successful Brexit could be followed by similar exodus campaigns in Germany, Italy, and Sweden. However, the research revealed more enthusiasm for simply holding a vote rather than actually leaving the European Union.

As North Korea’s Nuclear Program Advances, US Strategy Is Tested

David E. Sanger and Choe Sang-Hunmay/The New York Times

American and South Korean intelligence officials say North Korea now has the ability to launch nuclear missiles capable of hitting Japan and South Korea. The new American response looks a lot like the old American response, which had been “concerned about not overreacting to every North Korean provocation.” This made sense when North Korea had less formidable capabilities, but now this strategy may need to change.

The West Needs to Stop Panicking About Russia’s “Hybrid” Warfare

Mark Galeotti/Vox

The full potential of the West is woefully understated in a RAND report that concluded the Baltics were all but lost to an inevitably successful Russian invasion, writes Galeotti. A military engagement would alienate Moscow both diplomatically and financially, something Putin cannot afford to risk. The West has the technological ability and military might to halt the Kremlin in its tracks; it is simply a matter of strength of will.

We’ve Been Mayors of New York, Paris, and Rio. We Know Climate Action Starts with Cities

Michael Bloomberg, Anne Hidalgo, and Eduardo Paes/The Guardian

Three former mayors of major cities argue that a combination of increased national government support and greater influence from city halls will not only strengthen the global economy, but also reduce air pollution on a greater scale. Because population growth in cities is accelerating, empowering urban governments to reduce carbon emissions through infrastructure and transit modifications will be the most effective method of fighting climate change.

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