WAITING OUT TRUMP

WAITING OUT TRUMP

Like many US presidents before him, Donald Trump suffered a significant electoral setback in the midterm elections earlier this week. The Democrats won the popular vote by more than 7 percentage points, and their new majority in the House of Representatives will give them real political power for the first time in two years. True, the result wasn’t as bad as what Barack Obama suffered in 2010 (losing both houses of Congress in one night). But the perception that Trump has been wounded politically ahead of his own re-election bid in 2020 will now start to take hold in many foreign capitals.


As a result, allies and adversaries who’ve been on the receiving end of Trump’s aggressive policies are now actively considering a strategy we might call — “Wait Trump Out.” Consider a few examples:

China’s President Xi Jinping: The current US-China conflict is about more than just trade and investment. It’s the beginnings of a bigger contest for global power. The US is worried about China’s growing commercial and technological clout. China, meanwhile, wants to roll back US influence in East and Southeast Asia. Both sides are vying for dominance over new technologies that will determine the economic balance of power in the 21st century.

When Xi and Trump meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina later this month, Xi will try to persuade Trump to tone down the trade tensions that are already weighing on China’s economy. He’ll try to open the door to fresh progress at the negotiating table in the coming months. But will he really put all his cards on the table? Doubtful. He knows that in two years he could be dealing with a different US president and may hold off making big concessions to a recently-weakened Mr. Trump.

European leaders: In July, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker cut a temporary deal with the Trump administration that postponed US tariffs on European automobiles in exchange for promises to work toward broader elimination of transatlantic tariffs on industrial goods. But this was merely a ceasefire rather than a trade peace trade. And it envisions concessions from Europe that many EU member states are loath to even consider.

But after Tuesday night, EU leaders may calculate that the optimal strategy is simply to extend negotiations with the US for long enough that Trump can’t extract any big concessions from them before he has to face the electorate again.

Iran’s leaders: Earlier this week, the US re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil exports. The damage to Iran’s economy will be substantial, and Iran’s leaders aren’t happy about it. But don’t look for them to immediately renounce the nuclear deal that the Trump administration decided to abandon in May. Tehran still cares about preserving good relations with Europe and now hopes to win a reprieve with a new US president in 2020.

Kim Jong-un: North Korea’s leader has lovingly played the waiting game with Trump longer than anyone. Since the Singapore Summit the script has been simple: Smile. Make promises. Avoid provocation. Take no irreversible action. Improve relations with China and South Korea in hopes of extending “denuclearization” talks long enough to reap economic rewards and then take your chances with a new US president.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Trump has successfully pressured Abe into opening negotiations on a US-Japan trade deal that Japan doesn’t want and that Abe has promised at home never to sign. If Abe can persuade Trump to delay big tariffs on Japanese cars, perhaps he can allow these negotiations to die a natural death if Trump leaves office in 2020. He may even be able to persuade a successor to Trump to rejoin the Transpacific Pacific Partnership, the massive trade deal that Trump pulled out of in his first week on the job.

The catch: The problem with these strategies is, of course, that Donald Trump might win re-election. Obama and Clinton both recovered from midterm disasters to win four more years in office, and Trump has proven too talented a politician to be underestimated.

Each month, Microsoft receives about 6,500 complaints from people who've been victims of tech support scams. But it's not just Microsoft's brand that the scammers leverage; fraudsters have pretended to be from a number of other reputable tech companies and service providers. These scams will remain an industry-wide challenge until sufficient people are educated about how they work and how to avoid them.

To measure the scope of this problem globally, Microsoft commissioned YouGov for a new 2021 survey across 16 countries. Results from the 2021 survey reveal that, globally, fewer consumers have been exposed to tech support scams as compared to the 2018 survey. However, those people who continued with the interaction were more likely to have lost money to the scammers than we saw in our previous survey. To read the highlights of the survey, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Next week, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner who is ideologically and personally close to Iran's 82 year-old supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will be inaugurated as Iran's president. This power transition comes as the country experiences a fresh wave of protests that started in Iran's southwest over water shortages earlier this month and has since spilled over into dozens of provinces.

Some close observers of Iranian society and politics say that popular discontent there is now more widespread than it has been in years, making the Iranian regime more vulnerable than ever.

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Was the world so focused on climate change that warning signs about the COVID-19 pandemic were missed? Historian and author Niall Ferguson argues that, while the climate crisis poses a long-term threat to humanity, other potential catastrophes are much more dangerous in the near future. "We took our eye off that ball," Ferguson says about COVID, "despite numerous warnings, because global climate change has become the issue that Greta Thunberg said, would bring the end of the world. But the point I'm making in DOOM [his new book] is that we can end the world and a lot of other ways, much faster." Ferguson spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview for GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Predictable disaster and the surprising history of shocks

Tunisia, the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring, is now in the middle of its worst political crisis since it got rid of former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over a decade ago.

On Sunday, the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from France, President Kais Saied responded to widespread protests over the ailing economy and COVID by firing embattled Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspending parliament for 30 days. Troops have surrounded the legislature, where rival crowds faced off on Monday, with one side chanting in support of the move and the other denouncing it as a coup.

How did we get here, do we even know who's really in charge, and what might come next?

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

As COVID-19 cases rise, are vaccine mandates coming?

Oh, you just want to get me in more trouble. Yeah, some mandates are coming, but they're not national mandates in the United States. In some cases, you're looking at federal and state employees, in some cases you're looking at lots of individual corporations, universities, and such. I mean I've already been to a number of events where vaccines have been mandated in New York. You've got this Excelsior Pass if you want to go to the Brooklyn Nets games, as I certainly do. You show it off and that gets you in with your vaccine. So I think it's really going to be a decentralized process. But clearly, given Delta variant and the number of people that are getting sick and dying because they're not vaccinated, you're going to see moves towards more mandates, as a consequence.

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Castillo takes over in Peru: After almost two months of protests, baseless allegations of fraud from his rival in the runoff election, and even rumblings of a coup, Pedro Castillo will be sworn in as president of Peru on Wednesday. A former rural school-teacher famous for riding on horseback, wearing a cowboy hat and waving a giant pencil to show how much he cares about education, Castillo has big plans to achieve big change. But he won by just a razor-thin margin in a deeply divided country, and Peru's dysfunctional political system will likely hobble his attempts to get major legislation passed. Moreover, despite having moderated his positions, half of the country still sees him as a communist who might turn Peru into another Venezuela. Castillo's most immediate task is dealing with the twin crises of a deadly pandemic and a COVID-fueled economic crisis that has hit poor Peruvians — his base — the hardest.

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13: The two Koreas have restored their communication hotline almost 13 months after Pyongyang abruptly cut it in response to Seoul not doing enough to prevent North Korean defectors from sending propaganda leaflets across the shared border. The hotline was established in 2018 following a historic meeting between North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky facts about the Games that have many people on edge.

Today — what's the smallest country (by population) to win a gold medal in a summer Olympics?

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