Smart Ideas: Macron Is Not the Leader Russia Was Looking For

AP Photo/Michael A. Mariant
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May 9, 2017, 8 p.m.

Don't cut foreign aid; cut payments to Big Ag

Vin­cent H. Smith and Ry­an Nab­il, writ­ing for U.S. News & World Re­port

As the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion weighs cut­ting for­eign aid pay­ments in or­der to fin­ance de­fense spend­ing, it should look to an­oth­er area of the budget that’s ripe for cost sav­ings: fed­er­al farm sub­sidies. “These pro­grams either waste re­sources or provide re­sources to wealthy groups who have no need for sub­sidies. … Many farm pro­grams could be ter­min­ated or mod­i­fied in ways that would cre­ate budget sav­ings with al­most no ef­fect on Amer­ic­an farm­ing. As a start, re­peal­ing and re­pla­cing the crop in­sur­ance pro­gram with a more ra­tion­al dis­aster aid pro­gram, end­ing an in­ef­fect­ive con­ser­va­tion pro­gram and cap­ping two farm sub­sidy giveaway pro­grams, would al­low the new ad­min­is­tra­tion to se­cure $50 bil­lion in budget sav­ings over the next five years with no dis­cern­ible ef­fect on U.S. ag­ri­cul­ture or the food dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem.”

Trump's Twitter feed is a valuable too for foreign intel

Tom Nich­ols, writ­ing on Twit­ter

As a former So­viet ana­lyst, “I would have giv­en any­thing for An­drop­ov or Gorbachev to give me a run­ning nar­rat­ive of their mood and in­ner thoughts in real time.” But this is pre­cisely what Pres­id­ent Trump provides for­eign in­tel­li­gence ser­vices via his Twit­ter feed. “This is the kind of in­stant lead­er­ship por­trait that I wouldn’t want a for­eign na­tion to have when gam­ing out a crisis with us.” It shows how the pres­id­ent re­acts un­der stress and pro­cesses in­form­a­tion. “Sol­id gold info.”

Russia's influence campaign in France backfired

Max de Haldevang, writ­ing for Quartz Just a month ago, Rus­sia seemed likely to be a big win­ner re­gard­less of who the French people elec­ted as their next pres­id­ent. Pri­or to the run­off, three of the four front-run­ners were pro-Rus­sia, and the fourth, the even­tu­al win­ner Em­manuel Mac­ron, “was hardly a hawk.” But Mo­scow just couldn’t help it­self, and much like dur­ing the U.S. elec­tions, launched “an ex­traordin­ary pro­pa­ganda and cy­ber cam­paign against the cent­rist in­sur­gent.” Not only did Rus­sia’s cam­paign against Mac­ron fail, as evid­enced by his land­slide vic­tory, it seems likely to have back­fired. “[W]hen Mac­ron vis­ited Mo­scow as eco­nomy min­is­ter just over a year ago he said he wanted to work to lift EU sanc­tions on the coun­try.” Now, in­stead of see­ing the pos­sib­il­ity of lift­ing sanc­tions as eco­nom­ic­ally be­ne­fi­cial, Mac­ron is likely to view Rus­sia as a geo­pol­it­ic­al foe. When he meets with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel next month, ex­pect Mac­ron to emerge with Rus­si­an sanc­tions still very much in­tact.
Russian Economics Minister Alexei Ulyukayev (left) and French Economics Minister Emmanuel Macron talk to each other during the Russian-French Council of Economic, Financial, Industrial and Trade Issues session in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
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