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As Long as the World Is Stable, Impeachment Will Be a Steep Climb


The “quid pro quo” case might be open and shut (as Neal Katyal and Sam Koppelman write in Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump, the president’s offer to Ukraine was “blatant”) but that’s not to say impeachment will succeed.

This is about as blatant a quid pro quo offer as you will find. That’s why House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, one of Trump’s staunchest defenders, denied that Trump had ever said this during an interview with 60 Minutes. “You just added another word,” McCarthy said, upon hearing the quote from CBS’s Scott Pelley. “No, it’s in the transcript,” Pelley responded. “He said—’I’d like you to do a favor though?” McCarthy asked, incredulous. “Yes,” Pelley responded once more, “it’s in the White House transcript.”

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Whether President Trump abused the power of his office could have little bearing on whether he’s removed, Ross Douthat writes in a New York Times column: Specific transgressions, and Republican defenses, matter “less to Trump’s fate than the answers to two basic questions: Is the economy O.K.? Is the world falling apart?

Jacob T. Levy

Jacob T Levy on Tweet : “I think it is probably underappreciated that the year and a half of Watergate trials and investigations that eventually saw Nixon’s public approval collapse coincided with an oil crisis, a stock market crash, stagflation, and recession.”

Examining why Richard Nixon was ousted and Bill Clinton wasn’t, Douthat concludes that “Nixon didn’t survive because his second term featured a series of economic shocks—summarized on Twitter by the political theorist Jacob Levy as ‘an oil crisis, a stock market crash, stagflation and recession’—while Clinton’s second term was the most recent peak of American power, pride and optimism.” Trump is similarly “presiding over a period of general stability,” and that will likely keep him in office, Douthat writes—regardless of any case Democrats build.

Middle East Geopolitics Go Nuclear

Disconcerting as a nuclear Middle East might be, Selim Sazak writes in the latest issue of The Cairo Review of Global Affairs that the region is in the midst of a “race for reactors” to generate electricity. The UAE and Turkey are “farthest along,” but Jordan and Egypt are “slowly but steadily advancing” toward nuclear power plants, while Saudi Arabia is spending $80 billion to bring 16 reactors online by 2040.

There are larger implications, Sazak writes—but interestingly, they have little to do with bombs. (Though others, writing in the same issue, are more concerned about an arms race.) Instead, they’re about contracts to build reactors. Western nuclear suppliers have lagged behind Russian and Chinese competitors, and Middle Eastern countries will have a choice. “Nuclear reactor exports matter not because they are a prelude to nuclear weapons but because they imply a tacit realignment,” Sazak writes. Turkey, for instance, has contracted with Russia for reactors, and that partnership has coincided with cooperation in other areas. As the Middle East seeks nuclear energy, larger powers will have a chance to deepen relationships in the region—and Middle Eastern countries will be able to hedge in their partnerships with Russia, China, and the West.

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Why the US Military Doesn’t Need to Go to Mexico

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After the murder in Mexico of nine Mormons with dual US citizenship, The Wall Street Journal warned ominously in an editorial that a “U.S. military operation can’t be ruled out,” decrying Mexico’s lack of order and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s approach to drug cartels. (AMLO, as he is known, has departed from his predecessors’ harder lines.),In the wake of the attack, US President Donald Trump called for war against the drug cartels in a series of tweets.“If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these… monsters, the United Stands stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively,” he wrote.

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“This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!” he added.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he planned to reach out to Trump about the incident.“I will thank him for his support and we will discuss if we need assistance,” he said. “I do not believe that we will. It’s Mexico’s responsibility.” The FBI also has offered to assist Mexican authorities in the investigation, an FBI official said.

Such an idea is as misguided as it is drastic, writes Russell Crandall of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “[W]hat some might consider soft US approaches to checking the power of drug cartels have been somewhat effective,” Crandall writes. “Sentencing reform and cannabis legalisation, for example, have helped to curb demand for Mexican marijuana. Support for institutions with training and materiel … remains the most sensible” way to help. The Trump administration, however, has cut its budget request for “rule-of-law efforts” in Mexico by 48% (down from $152.6 million in 2018 to $78.9 million in 2019), instead prioritizing immigration and the renegotiation of NAFTA. Mexico needs cooperation and a stable partner more than anything, Crandall advises.

As Europe Seeks Direction, Where Is Germany?

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Since its post-World War II disarmament and the end of the Cold War, Germany has been a force in Europe—it boasts the continent’s largest population and economy—but it has shied away from military affairs. Now, some are questioning that posture.

In The American Interest, Josef Joffe writes that Germany’s neighbors have long feared it will threaten them again (UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President François Mitterrand both lamented Germany’s reunification in 1990, Joffe writes), but now Europe needs strategic direction and more defense spending, as the US pulls back—and Germany is missing from the scene. “This time, the problem is not German imperialism, but the reluctance to shoulder responsibility in line with the country’s ample size and riches,” Joffe writes.

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After French President Emmanuel Macron’s headline-grabbing remark that NATO is nearly braindead, Judy Dempsey echoes the point at the Carnegie Endowment’s Strategic Europe blog: “This is not about Trump forever berating German Chancellor Angela Merkel for failing to spend enough on defense. As if money alone was a panacea to NATO’s ills,” Dempsey writes. “It is about Germany replying to Macron by setting the agenda for Europe’s security and defense.” If Merkel doesn’t, Dempsey writes, Russian President Vladimir Putin will.

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