China’s Vast Geopolitical Visions Come Into Focus

The foundation for China’s relentless drive toward increased global influence is straightforward: Gain a dominant position in key economic sectors and leverage that into far-ranging political sway. Beijing is brimming with ideas for achieving that goal and is making progress in doing so.

By any realistic assessment, China is on course to succeed the United States as the world’s top economy. Consider this: China has only to sustain growth in its national economic output, or GDP, at a 6.5% annual rate versus the U.S.’s 2% – about the pace at which each economy has been expanding recently – and it will overtake the United States as No. 1 sometime between 2025 and 2030. After four decades of astonishingly brisk expansion – topping 10% a year for much of that time – China already is “the world’s factory,” and now the manufacturing dynamo is preparing to branch out into sophisticated fields from robot technology to ramped-up computer chip making. Continue reading “China’s Vast Geopolitical Visions Come Into Focus”

Mr. Trump Goes to Davos

The idea of Donald Trump attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is a bit like mixing oil and water.

Like many on the Davos guest list, the U.S. president is both a prominent world leader and billionaire businessman. Unlike most of them, he also champions nationalism and economic protectionism, views that rarely receive a platform at the world’s largest annual celebration of globalization and the global elite who love it.

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Congress Rebukes White House on Russia Sanctions

Congress will send a strong message to Donald Trump Tuesday, when the House of Representatives is expected to approve a new package of Russia sanctions: Try easing penalties on Moscow, and you’ll have to answer to us. 

The bill, part of a broader deal that also includes new sanctions on Iran and North Korea, nearly came up short. After breezing through the Senate on a 98-2 vote, it encountered a swarm of opposition in the House.

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The Odd Couple: Trump and Putin Finally Meet

The long-awaited first meeting between President Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is finally happening Friday at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

It couldn’t come at a stranger time in U.S.-Russian relations. Trump, who came into office seeking a reset with America’s implacable geopolitical adversary, is under pressure at home thanks to an investigation into alleged ties between the Kremlin and his 2016 presidential campaign. Continue reading “The Odd Couple: Trump and Putin Finally Meet”

Nightmare on the Korean Peninsula: Pyongyang Gets an ICBM

Tuesday was the Fourth of July. And while many Americans celebrated the holiday in usual pyrotechnic fashion, it was North Korea that produced the day’s biggest fireworks.

Indeed, Pyongyang chose America’s Independence Day to launch its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile, a major development that came sooner than expected and put the world’s most infamous rogue state one step closer to targeting the U.S. with a nuclear weapon.  Continue reading “Nightmare on the Korean Peninsula: Pyongyang Gets an ICBM”

The Specter of War in Syria

The U.S. further embroiled itself in yet another Middle Eastern conflict last week by shooting down a Syrian fighter jet that was reportedly threatening American-backed Kurdish forces in the country.

This was the second time since the beginning of Syria’s civil war that the U.S. directly attacked Syrian government forces (the first was a missile strike in April to retaliate for Syria’s continued use of chemical weapons). Continue reading “The Specter of War in Syria”

America and the Latest Middle East Crisis

Donald Trump’s plan to unite much of the Middle East in a shared fight against terrorism and Iran is already on the rocks, thanks to a rapidly escalating feud among numerous U.S. allies in the region.

Five Arab governments (Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen) recently suspended relations with Qatar over its support for radical Islamists and cordial relationship with Iran.

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U.S.-Iranian Tensions Cloud Victory for Moderates in Tehran

Mixed reactions greeted President Hassan Rouhani’s landslide reelection victory in Iran over the weekend. Rouhani, a political moderate (at least by Iranian standards) who negotiated a landmark nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers during his first term, was the favorite candidate of both young Iranians hoping for change and international investors looking for stability.

He is expected keep Tehran on the path to more transparency and engagement with the world. Even though the president is largely subordinate to the supreme leader in Iran’s unique political system – meaning the government’s aggressive foreign policy and repressive domestic one are unlikely to change anytime soon – he still wields some influence over the direction the country takes. Continue reading “U.S.-Iranian Tensions Cloud Victory for Moderates in Tehran”

What Does the Expanded Laptop Ban Mean for Business Travel?

Chances are good the government will expand the ban on bringing electronic gadgets into the cabin on trans-Atlantic flights.

Although a decision is still being mulled by the Homeland Security Department, most aviation experts expect DHS to act sooner rather than later. The anticipated expansion would extend to all U.S.-bound flights originating from some European cities. It started in March and only covers foreign carrier flights beginning in 10 Mid-Eastern and African airports. Passengers boarding in those cities much check devices bigger than a smartphone, including laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic games, printers and scanners. Continue reading “What Does the Expanded Laptop Ban Mean for Business Travel?”

Previewing France’s Presidential Election

A wave of euphoria greeted Emmanuel Macron’s narrow victory in the first round of France’s presidential election last week. Markets and pundits alike cheered, taking the outcome as yet another sign that Europe’s populist threat – which only a few months ago looked as if it might swallow the continent whole – was nothing more than a paper tiger. Talk of France possibly departing the European Union has died down and European stock markets have rallied.

Macron, a one-time Socialist cabinet minister who broke with his party to run for president as an independent, will now face Marine Le Pen of the right-wing National Front in a runoff election on May 7.
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