Foreign affairs

Donald Trump is clearly not satisfied with simply being the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. Watch the video he tweeted out today, which suggests that he sees himself as Luke Skywalker. His Republican opponents, who are scared stiff that he will destroy the party, might prefer to say Anakin Skywalker.Trump is facing the prospect of losing to Ted Cruz in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday. That would increase the odds of a contested convention in July, which in turn would raise GOP hopes that the establishment could parachute in someone to save the party. Increasingly, the whispers in Washington are about Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who has denied wanting the job, but has chastised Trump on several occasions recently. Read more

Within eight days, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has delivered verdicts in two of its most important cases since its foundation 23 years ago. They could not be more different. The decisions risk damaging both the court’s reputation and even the development of international law.

On March 24, one court chamber convicted former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic of genocide, for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, and nine other charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Read more

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Most everyone is down on Barack Obama’s foreign policy at the moment. A recent essay on the “Obama Doctrine” in The Atlantic is one reason. The ISIS attacks in Brussels another. But this week, Cuba showed at least one fruit of Obama’s approach. The president was flawless in Havana. Se puso la pelota en China – he hit the ball to China, as the saying goes. Read more

Wanted: A global public relations firm to rescue the reputation of a European government accused of breaking its country’s constitution, undermining democracy and scaring away foreign investment.

Poland’s embattled government is turning to western spin doctors for advice on how to win friends and influence people, as the new administration faces mass public protests, nervous foreign investors and criticism from international allies. Read more

While the US election campaign has provided plenty of fodder for the entertainment shows, the horrendous attacks in Belgium have again ​underscored why the policies of the candidates should be scrutinised. But first, we ​would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the families ​and friends ​of the victims of the massacre. Read more

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Another day, another stroll in Trumpistan. Donald Trump started by telling the Washington Post that the US should play a lesser role in Nato – the 28-member military alliance that has formed the bedrock of the transatlantic security relationship since the second world war. He then met a group of Republican lawmakers in an effort to convince the party to back his anti-establishment populist campaign – coming days after he warned about “riots” if the party stole the nomination from him.

Pivoting from politics and geopolitics to geotourism, he held a press conference at the Old Post Office in Washington – a historic building that will soon reopen as Trump International Hotel. The property mogul began with a description of the 300 luxury rooms – everything from bathroom fixtures to the marble – before turning the event into a reverse version of The Apprentice.

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Do Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ever think of each other and wonder “That might have been me”?

These are torrid times in both men’s countries – two titans of the emerging market world – as current events make clear. Read more

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With Republican elders’ anti-Trump battle shifting into desperation mode, party operatives are debating ways of torpedoing the tycoon’s candidacy at the GOP convention this summer.

One former candidate who has been on the wrong end of the establishment’s machinations is ex-congressman Ron Paul, who on Friday took to the airwaves to predict senior party figures would use any means necessary to block a Trump nomination. Read more

Under what circumstances might Russia cut off gas deliveries to Europe for a prolonged period of time, and what might be the consequences? Such a scenario may seem too absurd to contemplate. Russia depends heavily on energy exports to Europe and likes to be known as a reliable supplier. Even in the gas crises of 2006 and 2009, the Russians did not go so far. Why would Moscow do something that, on the face of things, would harm its own interests more than it would advance them? Read more

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(Key Biscayne) Donald Trump claimed that “bad things would happen” if the party tried to block him from getting the presidential nomination, warning about possible “riots’ at the Republican convention in July in Cleveland. Bad things have already happened to Marco Rubio, who lost his home state on Tuesday and now needs to find a new job since his senate term expires in January. To see just how badly the local son lost to Trump in Florida take a look at this mapRead more

After Jeb Bush scared Mitt Romney out of running in 2016 only to be outshone by Marco Rubio, his former protégé, one Republican joked that the ghost of Banquo had brought Macbeth to Miami. But on Super Tuesday – March 15 – it was Julius Caesar and the Ides of March that took centre stage in the Sunshine State. Donald Trump won a huge victory in the state, prompting “Little Marco” to drop out of the GOP race. Read more

Once upon a time Florida was the key state to watch in the Republican race. But with Donald Trump way ahead of Marco Rubio, the charismatic Cuban-American who has failed to live up to the hype, all eyes have shifted to Ohio. Trump abruptly cancelled a Monday night event in Miami so that he could campaign in the Buckeye State where John Kasich, the Ohio governor, has overtaken him in the polls. Ted Cruz has been focusing on other states where he has a better chance to pick up delegates.

Rubio is desperately trying to save his campaign, but the odds are heavily stacked against him. I went to a Trump rally in Boca Raton on Sunday where the mogul mercilessly mocked the Florida senator as “Liddle Marco”. If Rubio loses on Tuesday – when Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina vote on Super Tuesday 2 – he has no path to the White House, unless the nominee picks him as his running mate. If you want a flavour of the theatre at Trump events, watch this video of his helicopter doing a fly-by in Boca. Read more

The Atlantic magazine’s article on “The Obama Doctrine” has caused ripples all over the world, because of the frankness with which the US president discussed his foreign policy with Jeffrey Goldberg, the article’s author. In the UK, most of the headlines have concerned President Obama’s criticism of David Cameron, over Libya. But, in fact, the article is full of fascinating stuff on all sorts of subjects. Here are some of my selected highlights:

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Donald Trump’s press conference in Florida today was like a Peter Sellers movie. Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon who recently quit the race, endorsed Trump and said there were “two different Donald Trumps” – the public persona and the private “cerebral” persona who would be appearing more frequently on the trail.

Asked about this, the cerebral Trump said: “Perhaps there are two Donald Trumps”. But minutes later his alter-ego corrected him: “I don’t think there are two Donald Trumps”. Trump likes to shout “Stand up!” to human props at his rallies. Well, would the @realDonaldTrump please stand up! Read more

 

What are we to make of President Barack Obama’s on-the-record criticism of the role of UK Prime Minister David Cameron over Libya? I would make four points. First, Mr Obama is trying to protect himself from criticism. Second, broadly speaking, Mr Obama is right. Third, that said, it is not clear that there were good alternatives in Libya that Mr Cameron somehow failed to embrace. Fourth, the larger context is US exasperation and alarm at the decline of Europeans as effective security partners in the Middle East and elsewhere. Read more

I found myself mesmerised on Monday looking at the Italy page of a website called National Debt Clocks.org. A 13-digit figure, representing Italy’s outstanding national debt, goes up by a couple of thousand euros every second. Now the debt is just under €2.2tn, or about 133 per cent of Italy’s annual economic output.

Despite its astronomical debt burden, the Italian government succeeded last October in selling two-year bonds at a negative yield. In other words, investors paid Italy, one of the planet’s most indebted nations for the past quarter of a century, for the honour of buying its debt.

This is a topsy-turvy world that inspires me with something less than full confidence in financial markets. It leads me to the topical question of whether Italian banks own too much Italian government debt for their own good. On this issue Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister, holds forthright viewsRead more

The Republican debate on Thursday ​elevated farce to new heights. ​​Donald Trump ​raised eyebrows when he hit back at earlier innuendo by Marco Rubio about his masculinity.

“He referred to my hands [suggesting that] if they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee,” he told the roughly 17m viewers who tuned in to the debate. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

There was a time when Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was widely tipped to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor of Germany. Good-looking, aristocratic, married to a descendant of Bismarck and beloved by the popular press, zu Guttenberg had cut a dash, first as a decisive economics minister, and then as Germany’s youngest defence minister — appointed at the age of 37 in 2009. And then, in two disastrous weeks in early 2011, his gilded career fell apart, after it was revealed that he had plagiarised large parts of his doctoral thesis. Within two weeks, zu Guttenberg had resigned from the German government. Shortly afterwards, he left for a career in business in the US.

The Donald Trump media feeding-frenzy is in full flow. But beyond all the fun stuff about the horse-race and the insults, have there been any really good articles explaining the Trump phenomenon? I have found two recent pieces particularly interesting. Thomas Edsall explains how – “The economic basis for voter anger has been building for over 40 years” – and has some interesting numbers on the stagnation of real wages, the shrinking of the middle-class, the disappearance of manufacturing jobs and the impact of Chinese accession to the WTO.

Another good analysis, this time on the Vox site, looks at the kinds of people who are attracted to Trump’s rhetoric – and in particular at political scientists’ work on the rise of authoritarian attitudes in America. Apparently, people’s attitudes to parenting are a good predictor of their attitudes to Trump. Those who value obedience in children, above all, are “authoritarian” types, who also like Trump. But there are also is a large group of people with “latent authoritarianism”, which is aroused when they feel under threat. Read more

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Maybe we should rename this newsletter “White House Meltdown” after the Republican debate in Texas which saw Marco Rubio launch waron Donald Trump. While the presidential contenders brawled in Texas, Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator who last week told me that the GOP was facing its own Shia-Sunni conflict, said his party “has gone bats**t crazy”.Back in September, Jerry Springer, the host of the eponymous show, tweeted that “watching the Repubs debate…if they’re going to do my show, the least they could do is ask me!” What would Springer say about the debate last night, which resembled a Monty Python sketch? Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, described it as a “Texas demolition derby”.

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