Europe’s Future at Stake in Battle of Visions

(Bloomberg) --

President Emmanuel Macron has spent the past week touring the battlefields of northern France to mark the centenary of the end of World War I – and sound the alarm for Europe.

The commemorations will culminate in Paris this weekend, when some 60 world leaders including Presidents Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are due to honor the 1918 Armistice.

For Macron, the events are a validation of the international order that is now under threat from nativist, protectionist forces. As he visited the sites of carnage, the French leader warned that Europe’s slide into nationalism risks a repeat of its bloody 20th century history.

Yet his conclusions are not shared universally. While Macron showcases multilateralism, in Warsaw, the celebration of Poland’s hard-won rebirth as a country in 1918 risks being hijacked by the far-right nationalist groups that have been emboldened by the ruling party.

Those divergent outlooks – deeper integration a la Macron or a patchwork of “illiberal” nation states as espoused by Hungary’s Viktor Orban – mark the dividing line in next year’s elections to the European Parliament. It’s a showdown that will determine Europe’s future.

Europe’s Future at Stake in Battle of Visions

Global Headlines

Caught out | The White House is unprepared to defend itself against a coming wave of investigations by newly empowered House Democrats who promise to probe everything from cabinet members’ ethics scandals to conflicts of interest involving the president’s business empire, Shannon Pettypiece reports. Trump is without a chief lawyer, as the opposition party prepares its first moves.

Not over yet: Click here for more about the still-undecided Florida Senate race and here for the latest on other contests that remain too close to call.

Sessions replacement | Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and U.S. Appeals Court Judge Edith Jones are among the people under consideration to replace Jeff Sessions as the nation's top law enforcement officer. Until a successor is seated, Trump’s acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, has almost unlimited authority over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of election meddling by Russia.

Forgotten war | While world leaders are in Paris, Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine will hold elections on Sunday to try to legitimize their control of two breakaway regions after four years of fighting that’s killed at least 10,000 people. Ukraine, the U.S. and the EU say they won’t recognize the outcome. Russia calls the elections a necessity. As the largely forgotten conflict grinds on, the votes may tighten the Kremlin's grip on the territory.

Easing pressure | Trump’s stance that there’s no urgency to get Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear weapons has critics worried the approach will play into the North Korean leader’s hands. This week, Trump played down the cancellation of a meeting between Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart as a scheduling conflict, saying, “It’s going fine, we’re in no rush.”

Jail time | Imelda Marcos, the 89-year-old widow of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, lorded over the Southeast Asian archipelago with her husband for 20 years. But Marcos – known for her collection of more than 1,000 pairs of shoes in a country struggling with poverty – has been found guilty on graft charges leveled nearly three decades ago. While she can appeal, her conviction may make things awkward for President Rodrigo Duterte, who wants to anoint her son Ferdinand as his successor.

What to Watch

  • Russia hosts an Afghanistan peace conference in Moscow today attended by Taliban and Afghan government representatives. While no big outcomes are expected, the meeting is a sign of Russia's determination to challenge the U.S. in taking a leading role in resolving the 17-year conflict.

And finally... Putin is breathing new life into the chicken that kept Russians fed in the dying days of communism. The revamped Smena broiler, first developed by Soviet scientists in 1972, may start market trials next year, according to Russian Poultry Union head Vladimir Fisinin. Russia sees the project as a safeguard against potential future U.S. sanctions on shipments of the eggs and chicks that eventually become the country’s main source of protein.

Europe’s Future at Stake in Battle of Visions

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