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DECISION TIME FOR EUROPE

DECISION TIME FOR EUROPE

Faced with an onslaught from the US president, EU leaders made a conscious effort this week to find common cause with friends new and old in another part of the world—Asia. Yesterday, the EU and Japan finalized a long-awaited trade deal that will further knit together two economies that account for around a quarter of global GDP. That just a day after the leaders of the EU and China met to discuss trade and security relations.


As Trump openly questions the continued value of NATO, calls the EU a “foe,” and ingratiates himself with a Vladimir Putin – whose government has worked diligently to stoke divisions and support Euroskeptic parties throughout the continent – it’s no surprise that Europe has started to seek out new friends.

But will this strategy work?

So far Europe's pivot toward Asia has been done reluctantly and with a certain amount of trepidation. The EU is hesitant to form a common front with China to hit back against US tariffs, for example, and many European countries remain wary of Chinese investment that could leave them beholden to Beijing. The EU-Japan trade deal is a good symbolic vote against the protectionism favored by the US administration. But its economic benefits will take decades to materialize and leaders in Europe will struggle to spin it as a political victory back home.

Nor is there much in the offing from Asia on the most pressing security issues raised by President Trump. Russia will continue to support its preferred political parties across Europe. Putin may well be emboldened by the US president’s obsequious display in Helsinki. On NATO, the Europeans face no choice but to pay up or continue to face further US threats. And the Iran deal is on life support, despite extensive efforts from Russia and China to prop it up.

Why it matters: But Trump’s behavior over the past week may finally force European leaders to decide whether they can simply wait out his term in the hope of a better alternative or if it’s time to start reevaluating long-term assumptions about American power, credibility, and loyalty. That could well produce a more coherent and sustained European strategy to leave the US behind.

A decade ago, Bank of America established the Global Ambassadors Program with Vital Voices, and the results are phenomenal. We've provided 8,000 hours of training and mentoring, engaging 400 women from 85 countries and helping women around the world build their businesses.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made a lot of foreign governments really mad. Let's call the roll.

Europe. The EU is angry that Turkey is drilling for oil in the eastern Mediterranean, and NATO is furious that member Turkey has defied its protests to purchase S-400 missiles from Russia. Erdogan has repeatedly rejected pushback from EU leaders by calling them fascists and Islamophobes.

Just this week, Erdogan refused to express sympathy with France following the beheading of a French schoolteacher by an Islamist extremist, attacked Macron's own response to the murder, suggested the French president needed "some sort of mental treatment," and countered Macron's vow to crack down on Islamist radicals with calls for a boycott of French products.

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Less than a week before the US election, President Donald Trump is repeatedly questioning the legitimacy of the vote (if he doesn't win) over largely unsubstantiated claims of potential fraud in universal mail-in voting. But with absentee ballots coming in all-time highs in all states due to the coronavirus pandemic, some Americans worry that the system itself may not be able to handle such an influx of ballots, including those already cast by a record number of early voters. Whether or not you agree, Gallup data show that US citizens are now less confident that the election will be conducted accurately — and more concerned about election irregularities and voter suppression — than they were four years ago. We take a look at how Americans' views on these electoral integrity issues have changed from 2016 to 2020.

Belarus on strike: In recent days, the Belarusian streets have turned up the heat on strongman President Alexander Lukashenko, as thousands of state factory workers and students in Belarus heeded a call from opposition leader Svyatlana Tikhanouskaya to join a general strike. Protests have roiled the country since August, when Lukashenko, in power since 1994, won a presidential election widely regarded as rigged. Last Sunday, 100,000 people turned up in Minsk, the capital. Tikhanouskaya — who ran against Lukashenko in that election and is currently exiled in neighboring Lithuania — had demanded the president resign by October 26. When he didn't, the walkout began. In one of the most iconic moments of protest so far, a striking worker at a refrigerator factory climbed the plant's tower to record a dramatic call for Lukashenko to step down. Belarus has been hit with sanctions from the US and EU, both of which are calling on him to hold new elections, but so far he has shown no signs of backing down, deploying his riot police with the usual fury. Something's got to give, soon.

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Who does Vladimir Putin want to win the US election? Given the Kremlin's well-documented efforts to sway the 2016 vote in Donald Trump's favor, it's certainly a fair question. And while there's no solid evidence that Russian interference had any decisive effect on the outcome four years ago, the Trump administration itself says the Kremlin — and others — are now trying to mess with the election again.

So let's put you in Vladimir Putin's size 9 shoes as you weigh up Donald Trump vs Joe Biden while refreshing your own personal PyatTridsatVosem (FiveThirtyEight) up there in the Kremlin.

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