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NEW GERMAN GOVERNMENT: Olaf Scholz was sworn in as German Chancellor this morning, replacing Angela Merkel. POLITICO Live Blog from Berlin.
JOIN GLOBAL INSIDER: The Transatlantic Business Works Summit runs through to noon ET today, and from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET tomorrow.
COVID â WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES â¦ 24 HOURS VS. DAY BEFORE: The new CDC policy requiring negative Covid test results from all people arriving into the United States is now in place. All air passengers 2 years or older need a negative test taken âno more than 1 day before you travelâ â a clarification to the often reported â24 hoursâ that will work to the benefit of incoming travelers. Antigen tests (which often have the quickest turnaround times) are still accepted.
Hereâs a real example from a Global Insider subscriber: If youâre flying out at 10.45 p.m. on a Monday, you would be allowed to get a test any time from Sunday morning onward, instead of needing to get the test between 10.45 p.m. Sunday (not happening!) and your flight at 10.45 p.m. on Monday. The difference is a gain of 22 hours.
NEW PODCAST EPISODE â REBOOTING DEMOCRACY
Wherever you look, democracy appears to be under assault: backsliding, coups, even attempted insurrection in the U.S. Capitol. Pew Research polling finds that large majorities support democracy, but a median of 56 percent across 17 advanced economies say their political system needs major changes or needs to be completely reformed.
This weekâs podcast episode taps the brains of POLITICO senior foreign affairs correspondent Nahal Toosi and POLITICO Magazine senior editor Usha Sahay to examine potential wins and traps for the administration, as a year of democratic coordination kicks off at the Summit for Democracy, taking place virtually Thursday and Friday.
The risks include failure to coordinate, allowing China to claim the mantle of competence, on Covid-19 handling and economic issues; the potential for anti-corruption measures is strong: âIf over the next year we see more coordinated multilateral visa bans on rich, corrupt playboys, that’s an actual thing that has a tangible effect. They can say, ‘Look, this is part of our push for stronger, better democracies,'” said Toosi.
And in the end, “the biggest test â whether Biden likes it or not â is going to be our next two elections. A lot of countries would have been watching anyway, but certainly now that there has been this summit, we’ve put the spotlight on ourselves,â said Sahay.
Whatever else happens, the summit is getting under the autocrats’ skin.
BIDEN DEMOCRACY SUMMIT
KINKS IN THE SYSTEM
Thereâs a saying among State Department officials that Foggy Bottom loves to âbring yesterdayâs technology to you tomorrowâ â watch out for that spirit to infuse the democracy summit, which kicks off Thursday at 6 a.m. ET.
Itâs not easy being popular: Organizers received so much content, theyâve been forced to create two live stream channels: one for the preferred content and the second channel for the full run of 110 leaders video speeches (that would be 5.5 hours of speeches, if you donât take a bathroom break and the leaders stick to time â which they never do).
Mean Girls: As you can imagine, this is going down like a ton of bricks. CEOs who have contributed video messages still arenât sure if theyâll be broadcast. The precedent is not pretty: Governments and companies were so keen to support the U.S.-organized Covid summit in September that most of their videos had to be relegated to a State Department web page and YouTube channel … where some had as few as 98 views when we pressed send on this newsletter.
People power is missing: Thereâs too much content, but not enough civil society, argues HÃ©lÃ¨ne Landemore, a political theorist at Yale University.
Look out for surprise commitments: Countries not known for their commitment to democracy may be announcing a shift, including Zambia, Ecuador and the Democratic Republic of Congo, reports James Traub, with leaders using Bidenâs pressure as domestic leverage for change.
But donât forget the follow-up: âIf leaders log-on, pay lip service to democracy, and then go back to business as usual, we will continue to see democracyâs decline,â Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Danish prime minister, former NATO secretary general and now head of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, told Global Insider.
IS AN ALLIANCE OF DEMOCRACIES POSSIBLE?
A new report from Ash Jain, Matthew Kroenig and Jonas Parello-Plesner argues yes, and lays out the possible membership and structure. Watch the Atlantic Council launch event, moderated by Global Insider.
But there are traps: Any new alliance could move too quickly, could try to start with too many members and focus on sticks rather than carrots to achieve change.
âIt is important to start with a kind of committed core,â Jain said, âif you start with the wrong membership, it’s going to be difficult to get really meaningful results.” Parello-Plesner argued that there could even be a system of ârenewable membership,â meaning countries could be kicked out after two years if theyâre not sticking to their commitments, unlike institutions like NATO or EU, where âonce youâre in, you can almost never be out again.â
Emma Ashford, from the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, warned Global Insider against being too selective on membership. The key question: âHow do you avoid driving countries away by offering benefits only to those in the network?â
Carrots over sticks: âUsing some grouping like this, to set standards to strengthen our democracies at home, to work on things like fighting corruption or kleptocracy, improving ourselves, has the benefit both of making the Western democratic model more attractive to other states, while not raising some concerns in autocratic states,â Ashford said.
âSanctions, travel bans, asset freezes, these are the things that we do already â¦ they are effective sometimes and often not effective. And so, I think that to the extent that this grouping is valuable, it would be in providing carrots, that might be better at encouraging leaders like [Brazilâs Jair] Bolsonaro. If being in the group brings free trade benefits, if being in the group brings an open visa arrangement in the United States, those are massive benefits that are much harder for leaders to say, âI’m just going to back away,ââ Ashford added.
Missing in Action: The National Security Council and members of Washingtonâs foreign policy realist school firmly believe democracy wins with sticks rather than carrots â¦ but we arenât seeing many carrots yet. Whether itâs visa liberalization, lower tariffs, debt relief, infrastructure assistance, itâs not on offer.
Lithuania is seeking support: calling on the EU to intervene after China wiped Lithuania off its customs clearance list and downgraded its diplomatic presence after Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a new representation office in the city. Full story here.
Some might view Senate approval of the Biden administration weapons sale to Saudi Arabia as a carrot. Others think itâs a dangerous encouragement of human rights violations.
HUMAN RIGHTS SANCTIONS GLOBALLY â MAPPED IN FIVE CHARTS: The U.S. applies sanctions most often. Russia is the biggest target. But the biggest takeaway is how uneven the application of sanctions is. There is relatively little coordination between democracies. h/t Spencer Vuksic
New sanction â Congolese associate of Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, who is accused of corrupt mining deals. Now, Alain Mukonda and 12 entities linked to him, are under sanctions, as part of Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act implementation which targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption.
HITTING RUSSIA WITH NORD STREAM 2 PIPELINE SHUTDOWN: U.S. has an understanding with Germany â read its new government â to shut Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine. But the pressure is on Europe to step up loudly in the coming days: âThe Euros will absolutely need to step in and do more. Canât be a US-centric effort. That is literally what Russia wants,â more from Alex Ward.
Congress didnât: A provision in the sprawling annual defense policy bill would modestly boost U.S. military assistance for Ukraine, but lawmakers declined to give Biden additional tools to push back on Putin, as the Russian leader prepares for what U.S. officials say could be an invasion of its neighbor. For example: no sanctions on Russian oligarchs, or other anti-corruption measures.
BEIJING OLYMPICS DIPLOMATIC BOYCOTT: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki thinks the administration drew a clear line via not âcontributing to the fanfare of the games.â But given that George W. Bush is the only U.S. president to attend an Olympics Games outside of the U.S. (yes, thereâs usually a Presidential delegation of the first lady and/or senior officials), and Beijing says it didnât actually issue an invite, many arenât treating this as a serious measure. Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley thinks âa diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics is a joke. China doesnât care if Biden and his team show up. They want our athletes.â Amnesty Internationalâs Joanne Lin split the difference, wanting more action, but calling the decision âa blow to the impunity of the Chinese authorities.â
Canadaâs ultra-experienced International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound thinks the White House move wonât impact the Games, or politics: âThe games will go on and the relationships with China will take their course,â he told POLITICO. Given Beijing condemned the decision â it clearly did have some impact.
Australia joins diplomatic boycott: The first ally to follow Americaâs lead â a small price to pay for nuclear-powered subs.
Perspective â Beijing 2022 is a celebration of crimes against humanity: All governments use sports to help manufacture their image. âSport allows authoritarian regimes to associate themselves with powerful ideals of solidarity and equality even while crushing them,â writes Australian soccer columnist Craig Foster.
Joint briefing with Anthony Banbury, President and CEO of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Dan Twining, President of the International Republican Institute, and Derek Mitchell, President of the National Democratic Institute.
Democratic stimulus: Bidenâs Summit for Democracy is even spurring a cottage industry of books. Expect more in 2022 like Jacob Mchangamaâs âFree Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media.â Publishers Weekly review. Buy it here.
JOIN GLOBAL INSIDER TODAY: The Embassy of Finland and Atlantic Council GeoTech Center are hosting a conference on âUnpacking the Geopolitics of Technologyâ â public sessions run from 9.15 to 1.30 p.m. ET.
ATLANTIC COUNCIL REPORT: This report, from Mathew Burrows, Julian Mueller-Kaler, Kaisa Oksanen, and Ossi Piironen, is interesting because it digs in the âsecond and third order implicationsâ of emerging technologies, from the balkanization of cyberspace, to Chinaâs rising capabilities in biotech and genomics, to Europe getting wedged between an increasingly heated U.S.-China rivalry. In Fridayâs Global Insider, youâll find more on reactions to the report.
New report on U.S. versus China tech rivalry, from Harvardâs Belfer Center.
Appleâs secret $275 billion deal with the Chinese government, a great scoop from The Information.
Pegasus spyware used to hack U.S. diplomats working abroad.
Cataloging Kamala Harrisâ lax approach to tech regulation. âNo politician owes as much to Silicon Valley as Kamala Harris,â reports Insider. My colleagues report that the Veep is shy about tech personally: preferring wired headphones over wireless, and texting over email, for security reasons.
Cheat sheet: What G-7 antitrust enforcers are doing to monitor and enforce against Big Tech.
The rise of micro venture capital firms
Global voices: Last weekâs Global Insider podcast guest Marietje Schaake is launching with Francis Fukuyama a campaign to elevate voices from emerging countries in tech debates, starting with a call for papers on tech impacts and responses in said countries.
Green, Digital and Competitive Index: The Lisbon Council think tank rates Ireland No. 1 in this European ranking of how well small- and medium-sized business are making a âtwin transitionâ to be more digital and greener, without losing competitiveness.
SAUDI ARABIA â FIRST KHASHOGGI MURDER ARREST: WaPoâs Rick Noack and Sarah Dadouch report in Paris. âThe detention marks the first international arrest for the grisly murder that made Saudi Arabia a global pariah for years.â
JOIN GLOBAL INSIDER THURSDAY: The French Embassy will welcome director, producer and television presenter Serge Bromberg to perform a âcine-concertâ featuring rediscovered movies with Josephine Baker and by the original master of cinema and special effects, Georges MÃ©liÃ¨s. Iâll interview Bromberg about how his company unearthed â with the help of the U.S. Library of Congress â the largest known collection of MÃ©liÃ¨s films, previously thought to have been destroyed. Join the livestream at 6 p.m. on the Embassyâs Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, or via @politicoryan.
THE NEXT GREAT MIGRATION: A POLITICO Magazine series exploring why Black Americans are leaving major cities in numbers reminiscent of the Great Migration of the 20th century and how this shift will reshape political power for decades. Nine of the 10 American cities with the most Black residents saw their Black populations decline over the last decade (just look at Chicago today). Hereâs Brakkton Booker setting the table and the stakes.
Snapshot of American housing discrimination in 2021: the undervaluing of Black-owned homes.
FOGGY BOTTOM BRISTLES AT PROLIFERATION OF SPECIAL ENVOYS: At the same time, thereâs a dramatic irony to Biden’s foreign-policy picks. Heâs pure establishment when it comes to diplomatic nominations, but these perceived safe bets arenât winning confirmation.
CHINESE ROVER INVESTIGATES FAR SIDE OF MOON: A âmysterious hutâ has been spotted.
PHOTOS: Meridian Ball Committee holiday reception photo gallery
SPOTTED: Henry Kissinger, 98, eating breakfast at the Hays-Adam Hotel, and indulging guests with selfies, including New Yorkâs WABC-TV anchor Sade Baderinwa, in town to interview first lady Jill Biden.
PODCAST: Year Three of the Pandemic â The Economist
The Struggle for Indiaâs Soul: Nationalism and the Fate of Democracy, by Indian opposition politician Shashi Tharoor. Review by Tunku Varadarajan
Call Us What We Carry: Inauguration poet Amanda Gormanâs new collection, reviewed here.
Youâre Doing It Wrong: A history of bad and bonkers advice to women, by Kaz Cooke
Thanks to editor John Yearwood and Hannah Farrow