The World Today for November 11, 2016


Divided, We Fall

President-Elect Donald Trump doesn’t have much in common with Nelson Mandela. But he’ll need to borrow a trick or two from the revolutionary-turned-statesman – as well as the leaders of other fractured societies – to heal the deep divide he helped to create in the United States.

Already, the famously stable democracy that absorbed Al Gore’s “hanging chad” fiasco without a hitch has started to show some cracks.

Thousands of Americans took to the streets in cities across the country after the election was called to protest the outcome of the vote. And reactions on social media and around the water cooler suggest that citizens are less willing than ever before to move past the divisive rhetoric.

To pull America back from the brink, Trump will have to look to some countries that Washington is more familiar with lecturing, like Tunisia or Cote d’Ivoire, argues Foreign Policy.

Expecting a Clinton victory – like virtually everyone else – the magazine suggested that the Democrats would have to give a voice in government to “people with unsavory views” like Tunisia did with members and supporters of the ousted authoritarian regime in 2011. Trump, of course, would also gain by extending an olive branch to his partisan rivals, whose chief flaw is dismissing him and his supporters as ignorant racists, or worse.

In one respect Trump’s challenge might be greater than the ones faced in South Africa or Tunisia. In those cases everyone else, if not those ousted from power, saw the transition as the inevitable march of history. But in America, frustrated Democrat voters see Trump’s victory as a perverse step backward – and most of the world agrees.

Still, there are some clear steps Trump can take, those who were involved in similarly divisive struggles in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Mexico, Italy, Turkey and the Philippines told USA Today.

The UK’s Brexit fight suggests targeting rising inequality – a cause that spans Bernie Sanders and Trump supporters – will be key to reuniting America.

“This is not about socialism or communism but about making a kind of capitalism that also works for people at the bottom end of society,” said former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith.

From South Africa, Trump could learn from the success of the Truth and Reconciliation process and look back at the legacy of racial discrimination in America, rather than limiting his focus to the disenfranchisement of the white working class over the past one or two decades.

“Dealing with historical injustices is a key part of healing and moving forward,” said Kumi Naidoo, launch director of Africans Rising.

The most relevant example of all may come from the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte has outdone Trump himself in making outrageous statements, alienating his allies and blithely proposing radical changes in his country’s longstanding policies.

Instead of building bridges, Duterte has doubled down on his tough talk. He has threatened to end his country’s alliance with the US. He has backed up his strongman image with a murderous war on drugs. And he has marginalized rather than embraced his opponents in Congress – where he enjoys a supermajority.

Trump will have to do the exact opposite, says Tony La Viña, who was a campaign adviser to one of Duterte’s opponents.

“He’ll have to really pivot to suddenly be a unifier-in-chief, which he doesn’t pretend to be now,” La Viña said.


‘Massive’ Damage

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing late Thursday that killed at least four people and wounded 120 in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

A suicide bomber from the Islamist movement drove a car filled with explosives into a wall around the city’s German consulate, causing “massive damage” to the building before armed attackers exchanged fire with Afghan and German security forces, reported Reuters.

Germany heads NATO’s Resolute Support mission in northern Afghanistan and has over 800 troops stationed in the region.

A spokesperson from the Taliban said its fighters were sent “with a mission to destroy the German consulate general and kill whoever they found there” in retaliation for NATO air raids last week near the city of Kunduz that killed over 30.

Trying to Hold On

Opposition leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are warning that civil war may break out in the country unless president Joseph Kabila cedes power and steps down from office when his mandate ends.

The DRC has been rocked with protests and bouts of unrest and looting since Kabila announced the postponement of elections scheduled this month until April 2018.

The DRC’s ruling coalition and part of the opposition agreed to the delay, but the country’s main opposition, the Rassemblement, is boycotting the arrangement, which it says violates the country’s constitution and is instead an attempt by Kabila to maintain his hold on power.

Supporters of Kabila say logistical and financial constraints make it impossible to hold fair elections at the moment.

Western powers – including the US – have meanwhile intensified sanctions against senior government officials and called for Kabila to stick to the election calendar.

Shadow Puppets

Russian government officials purportedly maintained contact with senior-level campaign advisors to President-Elect Donald Trump leading up to the election, the Washington Post reported.

“There were contacts,” said Sergei A. Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, in an interview with Russia’s state-run Interfax news agency. “We continue to do this and have been doing this work during the election campaign.”

No names or positions of specific advisors were mentioned. But a spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry described meetings between Embassy officials and campaign staff as “normal practice.”

Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, resigned in August after his name was found on payouts from the party of pro-Russian former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Trump also refused to renounce Vladimir Putin’s politics, prompting his opponent to call him Moscow’s “puppet.”

That didn’t dissuade the 59 million Americans who voted him into office on Nov. 8, however.


You’re Not Hired, Mr. Bond

In the movies, saving the world is as routine for James Bond as seducing beautiful women.

But in real life, 007 would struggle to survive British external intelligence agency MI6’s rigorous recruitment process.

The reason? Bond lacks a “strong ethical core,” according to MI6 head Alex Younger.

“In contrast to James Bond, MI6 officers are not for taking moral shortcuts,” said Younger.

Real-life MI6 spooks share Bond’s patriotism, energy and tenacity, but the fictional star of films like “Spectre” and “Goldeneye” lacks other vital qualities MI6 recruiters look for in a candidate.

“An intelligence officer in the real MI6 has a high degree of emotional intelligence, values teamwork and always has respect for the law – unlike Mr. Bond,” Younger told Reuters.

As for Younger’s assessment of Bond’s MI6 application?

“It’s safe to say that James Bond wouldn’t get through our recruitment process,” said Younger.

Sorry, Mr. Bond. Better luck next time.

Threats to Press Freedom around the World.

The following selection is part of a new, regular feature on press freedoms brought to you in conjunction with the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Journalists are feeling the heat in Egypt, where intimidation, arrests and the prosecution of reporters has been steadily on the rise. On Nov. 11, protestors are expected to hit the streets to march against the country’s worsening economic woes in what is being called the “Revolution of the Poor.” Days earlier, security forces announced they would be monitoring online activity and carrying out arrests. Journalists covering the protests are understandably nervous.

The situation isn’t much better for journalists in Mexico, where proposed changes to the country’s media regulations forcing news outlets to publish responses to specific stories could significantly increase pressure on media outlets.

Many Mexican journalists have said they worry the proposal could be used to silence critical voices, opening the floodgates for politicians and others to demand space to respond to any story, at any time, whenever they feel the least bit slighted.

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