NEW ELECTION?

NEW ELECTION? (Second column, 25th story, link) Related stories:MORE UK DEADLOCK…May to meet lawmakers as resignation talk swirls… Advertise here

MORE UK DEADLOCK…

MORE UK DEADLOCK… (Second column, 23rd story, link) Related stories:May to meet lawmakers as resignation talk swirls…NEW ELECTION? Advertise here

Saudi Coalition Bombs Save the Children Hospital in Yemen

A Saudi coalition airstrike hit a hospital run by Save the Children in the northern province of Saada. The attack killed seven people, including four children:

Coalition airstrikes on homes, markets, hospitals, and schools in Yemen are quite common and have been throughout the war. The Saudis and their allies have consistently hit civilian targets about one-third of the time during their bombing campaign, and according to the Yemen Data Project that means that there have been well over 6,000 airstrikes like this one on civilian targets. Saada is one of the most frequently attacked parts of the country ever since the coalition illegally declared the entire area a military target in 2015. Bombing medical facilities is especially outrageous because the aid groups that support them make a point of notifying the coalition of the location of their hospitals and clinics. When the Saudi coalition blows up a hospital, clinic, or cholera treatment center in Yemen, they know very well what it is they are attacking and they bomb it anyway. It is completely unacceptable and a war crime to attack medical facilities, and it is particularly monstrous to bomb sick young children as they try to get treatment for their ailments. The coalition has been using both hunger and disease as weapons in their war on Yemen, and damaging and destroying medical facilities is part of that.

Yemen’s health care system is already groaning under the severe strain of widespread malnutrition and a new cholera outbreak, and half of the country’s medical facilities have been destroyed or damaged over the last four years. Sick and starving Yemenis that seek treatment at these facilities are always at risk of being the ones killed by Saudi coalition bombs that the U.S., U.K., and other governments sold to them. The U.S. should never have been involved in this war, and it certainly shouldn’t be aiding governments that routinely slaughter civilians in their houses and in hospitals. When you hear administration officials and members of Congress defending U.S. involvement in this war, remember that this is what they are defending.

No Justice For Jussie

Wow. Just, wow:

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stood shoulder-to-shoulder with his city’s police force Tuesday afternoon, denouncing prosecutors for dropping charges against “Empire” star Jussie Smollett and slamming the episode as a “whitewash of justice.”

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Emanuel said they were not only furious with the outcome of Tuesday’s surprise hearing but also blindsided by the decision itself, with the officials only learning Smollett wouldn’t face charges for allegedly faking a hate crime at the same time the public found out.

“Where is the accountability in the system? You cannot have – because of a person’s position – one set of rules applies to them and another set of rules apply to everyone else,” Emanuel said. “Our officers did hard work day in and day out, countless hours working to unwind what actually happened that night. The city saw its reputation dragged through the mud…It’s not just the officers’ work, but the work of the grand jury that made a decision based on only a sliver of the evidence [presented]. Because of the judge’s decision, none of that evidence will ever be made public.”

He added: “[This case] sends a clear message that if you’re in a position of influence and power you’ll be treated one way and if you’re not you’ll be treated another way.”

The judge in the case sealed the records, so as Mayor Emanuel says, we will never know why this happened. The Chicago Sun-Times quoted the state’s attorney in charge of the case:

First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats said the decision to drop the charges should not be interpreted that Smollett did not do what police and prosecutors have alleged — pay his assailants to fake the attack and then falsely report the incident to police.

Nor did dropping the charges mean that Smollett was a victim of a crime, Magats said emphatically.

“Absolutely not. We stand behind the CPD investigation done in this case, we stand behind the approval of charges in this case,” Magats told the Sun-Times. “They did a fantastic job. The fact there was an alternative disposition in this case is not and should not be viewed as some kind of admission there was something wrong with the case, or something wrong with the investigation that the Chicago Police did.”

Magats, who became the final decision maker on the case after Foxx recused herself in mid-February, said prosecutors made the decision to drop the charges against Smollett under the same criteria they would any other defendant.

“It’s a nonviolent crime. He has no felony criminal background. If you start looking at the disposition in the case, in every case you need to look at the facts and circumstances of the case, and the defendant’s background.”

Magats noted that while there was no court-ordered community service, Smollett had been active in the community even after he was charged. Sealing records as part of deferred prosecution is common, Magats said.

The Sun-Times goes on to quote defense attorneys saying this is extremely unusual for a case of this magnitude. And, again, because the judge granted the state’s request to seal the case, we will never know all the things that the police knew.

Jussie Smollett got away with lying and creating racist hysteria. He flat-out did. All the work of those police officers was for nothing, because somebody in the State’s Attorney office loves Jussie Smollett more than they love justice.

Good news for future hate-crime hoaxers!

 

 

AIPAC Is Losing Control of the Narrative on Israel

It was the final day of AIPAC’s annual policy conference in Washington, D.C., and the star of the gathering had finally appeared: Benjamin Netanyahu. An estimated 18,000 attendees sat in rows in a large downtown convention center, watching the Israeli prime minister address them through a patchy satellite feed on gigantic blue screens; although Netanyahu met with President Donald Trump in Washington this week, he cut short his trip after rockets fired from Gaza struck a home outside Tel Aviv.

It was difficult to hear what Netanyahu was saying at times, but the audience didn’t care: The staunch Israel supporters who filled the room gave him standing ovations. The only other speaker who won nearly as much applause on Tuesday morning was David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel. He brought greetings from Trump, “Israel’s greatest ally ever to reside in the White House,” as Friedman put it. The whole event underscored the enthusiastic Trump-Netanyahu alliance, even by the standard of the traditionally strong U.S.-Israel relationship. In his meeting with Trump at the White House on Monday, Netanyahu compared him to Cyrus the Great, the Persian king, and Harry Truman, the U.S. president who recognized Israel.

Anxiety was a consistent theme throughout the conference: American and Israeli leaders condemned rising anti-Semitism and consistently took shots at Representative Ilhan Omar, the freshman Democrat from Minnesota who caused an uproar over her use of anti-Semitic tropes and criticisms of Israel. Many speakers wrung their hands over the way Israel is allegedly becoming a so-called wedge issue in American politics, lamenting partisan divisions over support for the Jewish state.

And yet, the two men who have been among the greatest drivers of U.S. political division over Israel, Trump and Netanyahu, were celebrated. Inside the grand ballroom at AIPAC’s annual conference, longtime attendees and political leaders forcefully maintained that support for Israel is as strong and unifying as it has ever been. Outside the hermetic world of AIPAC, however, the American political conversation about Israel is shifting, in part because of backlash against America’s and Israel’s right-wing leaders.

In the lead-up to AIPAC’s policy conference, Republican leaders, including Trump, have been pushing the narrative that Israel and anti-Semitism might be defining issues in upcoming elections, and that American Jews might come to feel like their votes—and donor dollars—no longer belong in the Democratic Party. The president quoted a Fox News segment in a tweet, claiming that Jews are leaving the Democratic Party in a so-called Jexodus. At the conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed concern over “the growing tide of anti-Israel sentiment,” describing it as a movement that is “increasingly shaping the left’s agenda.”

[Read: The fight over Ilhan Omar is a fight over the identity of the Democratic Party]

Survey data and historical trends suggest that both of these arguments are tenuous. Jews overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party: 71 percent voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center, and 79 percent voted for Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections. And Democrats overwhelmingly believe Israel is an important ally of the United States: In a 2016 University of Maryland survey, 70 percent of Democrats said this is the case.

Still, Democratic leaders found themselves, yet again, on the defensive. Across the three days of the conference, party representatives sought to assure attendees that Democrats are staunchly pro-Israel, repeatedly taking thinly veiled shots at Omar’s suggestions that American support for Israel conflicts with loyalty to the United States or is motivated by money. AIPAC’s leaders were emphatic that their organization is “relentlessly bipartisan,” which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi later echoed: “Support for Israel in America is bipartisan and bicameral,” she said, “relentlessly.”

But even as American political leaders forcefully maintained that U.S. support for Israel hasn’t changed, they avoided addressing the incredible discomfort that many American Jews, almost all Democrats, and a wide range of self-described Israel supporters feel about Trump and Netanyahu. Many people who would count themselves among these groups believe that Trump has enabled the rise of right-wing extremism in the United States, including the kind of virulent anti-Semitism that led to the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh last fall. In 2018, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) found that 71 percent of American Jews rate Trump’s performance as unfavorable. (Disapproval of Trump is even higher among Democrats as a whole.) And according to AJC’s survey, 57 percent of American Jews disapprove of how the president is handling U.S.-Israel relations. American attitudes toward Netanyahu are less commonly measured in polling data, but anecdotal evidence from events in recent years suggests that American attitudes toward the Israeli prime minister are cold.

[Peter Beinart: AIPAC’s struggle to avoid the fate of the NRA]

AIPAC has tried to navigate these tensions among Jews, Democrats, and pro-Israel supporters at several points in recent years, usually awkwardly. In 2016, AIPAC’s president, Lillian Pinkus, apologized for a speech made by Trump, who was then a presidential candidate, because he openly criticized President Barack Obama. That same year, an Orthodox rabbi in D.C. stood up during Trump’s speech, shouting that he is “wicked” and “inspires racists and bigots.”

More recently, AIPAC endorsed a statement by the American Jewish Committee condemning Otzma Yehudit, the far-right Israeli political party of Kahanists, who believe that Arabs are the enemies of Jews and shouldn’t have political rights within the state of Israel. Although neither statement said it outright, these were oblique criticisms of Netanyahu, who reached out to Otzma in the hope of cobbling together a winning governing coalition in the upcoming Israeli elections.

“The American Jewish establishment … has conducted itself for decades under the assumption that the right approach to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship is by unquestioning support for whatever is going on over in Israel,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the head of J Street, an organization that often frames itself as the progressive alternative to AIPAC. “Where we are, in 2019, is a world in which the overwhelming majority of the people they’re supposed to represent—which is American Jews and others who care about Israel—are deeply upset about what’s going on here and what’s going on there.”

[Read: There’s more to being Jewish than fighting anti-Semitism]

Despite its bipartisan aspirations, AIPAC is unable to set a consensus D.C. policy conversation on Israel. One of its main legislative priorities, a bill condemning the boycotts, divestments, and sanctions movement in opposition to Israel, generated partisan backlash earlier this year: “Nothing—nothing—will motivate Americans to exercise their rights more than efforts to suppress them,” said Chris Van Hollen, the senator from Maryland. “Trying to suppress free speech, even unpopular speech … will only add momentum.” And when Omar criticized AIPAC directly, claiming that the organization’s influence in Washington is “all about the Benjamins,” or financial influence, Democrats in the House were unable to rally behind a straightforward condemnation of anti-Semitism.

But at AIPAC’s policy conference, as attendees posed for pictures with a person in a plush, large-headed Golda Meir costume and applauded wildly at mentions of America’s embassy in Jerusalem, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal, and his recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, they did not acknowledge that the American conversation about Israel might be fracturing under Trump and Netanyahu. As the pro-Israel activists listened to American and Israeli leaders tell them that support for Israel is as strong as ever, they gamely nodded along.

To Celebrate or to Not? The Mueller Question

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Finally, it’s over. Well, sort of, anyway. Late Sunday afternoon, Attorney General Bill Barr released his much-anticipated summary of Bob Mueller’s Russia investigation. The big news, of course, was that nobody in Trump’s orbit “knowingly” coordinated with Russian efforts to disrupt the 2016 election. Trump won’t be charged with obstruction of justice and not a single American was indicted for conspiracy.

To the delight of Russiagate skeptics, it was a complete vindication. To the dismay of the liberal establishment and MSDNC — who all cashed in on the chaos — it was an enormous letdown.

Much of the celebration, however, took on a twisted form. Matt Taibbi was the most contorted, writing in a column that, “WMD was a pimple compared to Russiagate. The sheer scale of the errors and exaggerations this time around dwarfs the last mess.”

There’s no question Russiagate was a colossal abstraction, but comparing Russia-mania to the WMD deception, which led to an illegal war that killed a half million people while germinating ISIS, was a depraved mischaracterization.

The Intercept‘s $500,000 man Glenn Greenwald wasn’t far behind Taibbi’s glee, exclaiming on Democracy Now! that the last two years was “the saddest media spectacle I’ve ever seen.” Like Taibbi, Greenwald appears to have a memory lapse, forgetting just how culpable mainstream media was in perpetuating the lies that led us into the bloody war on Iraq. Maybe we should cut him some slack. It could just be that Greenwald wasn’t keeping tabs on the media’s mishaps back then, as he never abandoned his “trust in the Bush administration,” and accepted Bush’s “judgment that American security really would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country.”

Yes, Glenn, Russiagate was bad, but it didn’t lead us into an endless string of wars in the Middle East. Just a reminder, millions of us were ahead of the curve in opposing the fucking monstrosity and we never for a second bought Bush’s bullshit lies.

Greenwald’s childish delight was also contradictory. The same report he glorified in exonerating Trump on collusion matters also found that Russia attempted to “conduct disinformation and social media operations” in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 election. A part of that effort, claims Mueller, was the hack of the Democratic Party by the Russian government that included caches of emails from John Podesta and the DNC, which were later handed over to Wikileaks and trusted journalists like Greenwald at The Intercept. As Barr’s summary notes:

“The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including Wikileaks.”

Let’s break it down. According to Mueller, Wikileaks along with Greenwald, were spoon-fed Democratic emails that were hacked by Russian operatives in the form of Guccifer 2.0 that were intended to damage Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. One doesn’t have to be a fan on Hillary to understand the motives and implications behind Russia’s alleged disruption campaign, but a transparent journalist, at least in hindsight, would be honest about their source’s motives as well as the timing of the dump, which happened at the same moment Trump’s p-grabbing tape from Access Hollywood hit the airwaves. Yet, Greenwald is cherishing the portion of Mueller’s report that claims there was no collusion while ignoring the Russian meddling charge, specifically his role in the matter. Don’t expect that to change. If Greenwald were to ponder whether or not Mueller’s team got it right on the DNC hack, it would throw the veracity of the whole report into question.

For the record, as many of our readers know, CounterPunch was also a target of alleged Russian interference in the form of the fictitious reporter Alice Donovan, who was directly named in Mueller’s July indictment. Donovan was accused by Mueller as having been the first persona to promote the DCLeaks project around social media. We published one story by Donovan during the election on cyber-warfare. Even though we were catfished, we were skeptical early on of the real intent of the Russia fixation and opted to reserve judgment on the Mueller report until it was wrapped up.

There’s no doubt Russiagate infected many liberal minds that obsessed over the prospect of Trump as a Russian agent beholden to Putin’s masculine appeal. The most pompous among them was Rachel Maddow, who, during a six-week stretch in 2017, covered Russiagate more than all other news topics combined. Maddow’s fear-mongering delirium only served as a 24/7 distraction to Trump’s much more tangible crimes. It was all by design, as Maddow’s sky-high ratings kept her show smoldering atop the stinky pile of cable news punditry.

Unfortunately, Russiagate isn’t likely to die a slow death. Wikileaks, who Mueller says played a role in disseminating the Democrats’ hacked emails, is still under investigation. The Julian Assange saga, whose indictment appears to be under seal, doesn’t look to be ending soon either. Chelsea Manning remains in solitary confinement for refusing a grand jury subpoena that’s tied to the Fed’s investigation of Assange. And on Monday, the Supreme Court decided it would not hear a challenge by an unknown foreign financial institution that’s fighting a Mueller subpoena. Then there is Michael Cohen’s ongoing cooperation and the dangling matters of Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.

The tentacles of the Mueller inquiry are likely to slither on for years in the form of probes by the Southern District of New York and others involving campaign finance and Trump Organization affairs. The House Judiciary Committee, the final arbiter on the question of impeachment, will continue its own investigation, utilizing its subpoena powers while pressing for the full release of the Mueller report, which the public deserves to untangle. In other words, the buck doesn’t stop with Bob Mueller and Bill Barr.

Despite the outright jubilation by the likes of Greenwald, the tepid denial by MSDNC, and sanctimonious relief by Republicans that there were no indictments filed against Trump, it’s pertinent to remember that criminal offenses aren’t always impeachable, and impeachable offenses aren’t always criminal in nature.

This administration has committed so many crimes, perpetrated so much destruction, it makes little difference if they “colluded” with Russia to influence the election or not, there is still much more fodder. Remember, Russia isn’t the real enemy. The entire bi-partisan establishment is.

FBI joining criminal investigation into BOEING…

FBI joining criminal investigation into certification of Boeing 737 MAX

The FBI has joined the criminal investigation into the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX, lending its considerable resources to an inquiry already being conducted by U.S. Department of Transportation agents, according to people familiar with the matter.

The federal grand jury investigation, based in Washington, D.C., is looking into the certification process that approved the safety of the new Boeing plane, two of which have crashed since October.

The FBI’s Seattle field office lies in proximity to Boeing’s 737 manufacturing plant in Renton, as well as nearby offices of Boeing and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials involved in the certification of the plane.

The investigation, which is being overseen by the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division and carried out by the Transportation Department’s Inspector General, began in response to information obtained after a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta on Oct. 29, killing 189 people, Bloomberg reported earlier this week, citing an unnamed source.

It has widened since then, The Associated Press reported this week, with the grand jury issuing a subpoena on March 11 for information from someone involved in the plane’s development, one day after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 near Addis Ababa that killed 157 people.

The FBI’s support role was described by people on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the investigation.

Representatives of the Justice Department, the FBI and Transportation Department declined to comment, saying they could neither confirm nor deny an investigation.

A Seattle Times story over the weekend detailed how FAA managers pushed its engineers to delegate more of the certification process to Boeing itself. The Times story also detailed flaws in an original safety analysis that Boeing delivered to the FAA.

Criminal investigations into the federal oversight of airplane manufacturing and flight are rare, in part because of the longstanding belief that a civil-enforcement system better promotes candid reporting of concerns without fear of criminal repercussions.

Those criminal cases that have occurred have focused on false entries and misrepresentations.

In 1998, Transportation Department and FBI agents, acting on a whistleblower’s allegations, served a criminal search warrant on Alaska Airlines, seeking evidence of maintenance irregularities.

The investigation expanded to include the January 2000 crash of Alaska Flight 261 that killed 88 people, which the National Transportation Safety Board later blamed on the airline’s faulty maintenance practices and poor FAA oversight.

But no criminal charges were filed, although the FAA, in a separate administrative review, ultimately found that Alaska and three of its managers had violated safety regulations, fining the carrier $44,000, revoking the mechanic licenses of two of the managers and suspending the license of the third.

Federal criminal charges were brought over the May 11, 1996, ValuJet Flight 592 crash that took off from Miami International Airport and plunged into the Everglades minutes later, killing 110 people.

Federal prosecutors in Florida filed a 24-count indictment against SabreTech, an airline maintenance contractor, and its workers over alleged violations in the handling of oxygen containers blamed for the crash. SabreTech was found guilty on nine counts but was acquitted on conspiracy charges, according to news reports. An appeals court later overturned all but one of the counts, the improper training of employees.

One issue that has arisen in criminal investigations of safety matters is whether they deter people from cooperating in other government investigations and civil proceedings.

In 2000, the National Transportation Safety Board warned that its findings on the cause of the 1999 deadly pipeline explosion in Bellingham could be indefinitely delayed because of a separate criminal investigation that had silenced key witnesses.

Then-NTSB Chairman Jim Hall said his agency had yet to question eight computer-room operators at Olympic Pipe Line who invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination shortly after the June 10 blast that killed two boys and led to the death of a young man.

Eric Weiss, a NTSB spokesman, said he couldn’t comment on whether any individuals have declined to provide information on the Boeing 737 MAX crashes in light of the criminal investigation.


How China Is Outmaneuvering Trump on Trade

As
Chinese President Xi Jinping concludes his first foreign trip of 2019, he can
congratulate himself on at least one thing: masterfully making use of the
daylight between Brussels and Washington when it comes to China policy. While
the Trump administration pursues its ongoing trade war, it has failed to
convince European countries to banish Huawei’s equipment from their 5G
infrastructures, or to resist China’s international infrastructure development
strategy known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), designed to build
pathways for trade but which also, critics say, expands Chinese influence and
entraps countries in Chinese debt.

Xi’s trip took him to Italy, Monaco, and
France, a clever itinerary that allowed him to maximize cooperative
opportunities, painting China as a willing economic and global governance
partner for the EU, and allaying Chinese citizens’ fears about being
blackballed by the West.

The Italian portion of the visit focused on the
BRI, Rome’s endorsement being Xi’s greatest win so far in 2019. Italy, a
founding member of the EU, is the first G7 country to formally sign on to China’s
grand infrastructure project, breathing new life into the much-maligned initiative.
Over the past year, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, among others,
canceled or cut back BRI projects. The seizure of the
Sri Lankan port of Hambantota and fears of so-called “debt-trap diplomacy” further
eroded faith in the project, with many countries questioning Beijing’s promises
of “win-win” cooperation. But Italy is the wealthiest country to join the BRI,
and Xi will be able to signal to his constituents that the project is still
held in high international regard despite the aforementioned setbacks.

Though many EU countries, particularly Germany
and France, have been highly skeptical of the BRI, the Five Star Movement wing
of Italy’s populist coalition government has observed the success of Greece’s
Piraeus Port, a majority share of which is held by COSCO, a Chinese state-owned
enterprise. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte hopes to make Italy’s own ports,
notably those in Trieste and Genoa, similar entry points for Chinese trade with
Europe. And while another group in the governing coalition—the far-right League—takes
a dim view of engagement with China, during Xi’s visit, Rome signed
29
deals worth $2.8 billion
, wagering on
Chinese investments to help pull it out of a grinding
recession. Among other things, the deal is a reminder that the EU has not
been able to offer its members
attractive
alternatives to Chinese investment.

Xi’s visit to Monaco had much do with the
country’s endorsement of Huawei, the telecommunications and electronics giant
which the U.S. has accused of enabling Chinese state surveillance. On February
27, Monaco Telecom and Huawei
signed a
memorandum of understanding to develop and deploy “smart city” technology for
the principality. Last week, this victory for Xi was followed by EU countries
rejecting the Trump administration’s calls to ban Huawei from European 5G
infrastructure. New Zealand and Australia have followed the United States’
lead, but Europe has fallen far behind China and the United States in 5G: The
decision reflects, at least in part, the recognition that it
cannot afford to
ban Huawei from its networks.

France, the current chair of the G7 and a
strong U.S. ally, was supposed to be Xi’s toughest stop on his Mediterranean
swing. In a bid to emphasize European unity, French President Emmanuel Macron
invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President
Jean-Claude Juncker to join his meeting with Xi on Tuesday. Macron, who has
been supportive of the BRI in the past, has recently coarsened his rhetoric,
noting that the initiative should not be
one-way.  He has been invited to the
upcoming BRI forum in April but is unlikely to attend.


While in France, however, Xi cemented a new phase of economic
cooperation with Europe,
signing an almost $34
billion deal with Airbus for 300 airplanes. China has historically been one of
U.S.-based Boeing’s best customers, accounting for almost 20 percent of the
company’s
sales as of 2017. But
given Boeing’s recent disasters and the contentious U.S.-China relationship, Xi
has deftly shifted the trajectory of China’s aviation sector, simultaneously
shoring up economic ties with the EU and dealing a blow to Washington.

The Airbus deal is pragmatic for Macron,
demonstrating that he believes China and France, as well as China and the EU,
can engage in concurrent cooperation and competition. Xi, for his part, seems to be hoping Beijing can collaborate with Paris, Berlin, and Brussels on multilateral
initiatives such as the Paris Agreement on climate change and what’s left of
the Iran nuclear agreement, as well as the need to protect the international
trade and economic order from Trumpian protectionism.

The broader international community will
probably remain suspicious of China and its motives. But the point of these
visits was for Xi to demonstrate that he’s willing to work with the EU, and
equally willing approach member states one by one with specially tailored
bilateral deals.
 

Speaking last Friday after a meeting of 27 EU
countries in Brussels, Macron
proclaimed an end
to the “time of European naïveté” or “uncoordinated” approaches to
Beijing. But as much as Macron and the EU would like to believe that Europe has
an actionable bloc-wide China strategy, it still seems like wishful thinking.
Though Brussels’ EU-Asia Connectivity Strategy offers some kind of alternative
to the BRI, many EU countries have shunned it in favor of Chinese investments.
Thirteen central and eastern European countries have
signed on to the
BRI, and that does not count Portugal, and now Italy. The continued importance
of the 16+1 grouping, through which China engages with Central and Eastern
European countries outside of EU diplomatic mechanisms, further complicates
achieving a coordinated EU approach to Beijing.

Though China has said it does not want to split
the EU, its intent is secondary. Beijing is offering deals countries want. And
while China will undoubtedly still have difficulties with both the EU and the
United States, on this trip, at least, Xi seems to have thoroughly
outmaneuvered those set against him in Washington.