Hoping American values will outshine the confusing Trump era, While the West focuses elsewhere, Africa should take advantage, Britain hopes to hedge its way out of ‘Brexit’, The world should awaken to Romanian corruption, Beware of bitcoin

A roundup of global commentary for the Feb. 19, 2018 weekly magazine.

Olivier Matthys/AP/File
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for an EU summit at the Europa building in Brussels, Dec. 14, 2017.

The Gleaner / Kingston, Jamaica

Hoping American values will outshine the confusing Trump era

“In the era of Donald Trump, the world is confused about what America stands for and with whom it stands...,” states an editorial. “That is why people’s attitude [about the Feb. 7] visit to Jamaica by Rex Tillerson is so paradoxical. On the one hand, the stop by the secretary of state is perceived as something of ... a presence without substance.... [T]he US president ... has ... been cavalier with old relationships while undermining the moral doctrines upon which America’s foreign policy was built.... Yet, this newspaper clings to the expectation that the institutions of America’s democracy ... are greater, and more enduring, than the individual who sits in the Oval Office.... In that regard, we prefer to think of Mr Tillerson’s visit as an opportunity for a reset of America’s relationship with Jamaica and the Caribbean.” 

The New Times / Kigali, Rwanda

While the West is focused elsewhere, Africa should take advantage

“For about a year now, African countries have had some respite from regular sermons and lectures on democracy [and] human rights...,” writes Joseph Rwagatare. “This is not because ... their lessons have been well learnt and taken to heart.... It has more to do with the domestic situation in the countries of the various crusaders.... [Donald Trump’s] America First policy has started a quarrel with the United States’ rich trading partners.... Brexit ... is keeping the United Kingdom and the European Union ... occupied.... This temporary respite should be an opportunity for African countries to do what they have always wanted to do.... [For example], it should be possible to build political institutions best suited to national realities....”

The Tehran Times / Tehran, Iran

Britain hopes to hedge its way out of ‘Brexit’

“British authorities emphasize the need to leave the EU while sending mixed messages to EU leaders about remaining part of the union...,” writes Mohammad Ghaderi. “The current state of limbo may be what the British Prime Minister Theresa May has instigated. Some believe that ... keeping the British at midpoint will assist in gaining support in whatever decision she will ultimately make about staying ... or leaving.... [Ms. May’s] dual approach towards the Brexit negotiations will continue in the coming months.... [T]he latest polls suggest an increase to the opposition to Brexit. Hence, if another referendum is held, the result of the 2016 referendum is likely to change, which is precisely what ... May seeks.”

EUObserver / Brussels

The world should wake up to Romanian corruption

“Jean-Claude Juncker [recently] lavished praise on Romania for its anti-corruption crackdown and expressed concern about proposed reforms,” writes Daniel Dragomir. “This betrayed a lack of understanding of what is happening in my homeland. The EU Commission has been complicit in failures of due process and abuses of power.... Corruption is a blight on any civilised society, but an unaccountable, flawed clampdown ... is a form of corruption in and of itself.... Assisted by the Romanian security services, who have fallen back into a mould that we hoped had disappeared with the collapse of communism, the anti-corruption authorities’ (sic) have adopted a pattern of abusive behaviour that conjures memories of darker times.... Our international partners must ... join us Romanians in saying ‘enough is enough.’ ” 

South China Morning Post / Hong Kong

Blockchain will likely transform banking, but beware bitcoin

“[O]ne of my all-time favourite books is Manias, Panics and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, by the late MIT economist Charles Kindleberger...,” writes Alex Lo. “Too bad Kindleberger died in 2003, otherwise, he would surely have added bitcoin to his long list of manias and crashes. The cryptocurrency has lost more than 60 per cent of its value since it peaked in mid-December. Maybe it will rebound and become a legitimate currency. Who knows? But that’s one of Kindleberger’s key messages. A perfectly valid new technology with transformative potential can easily trigger frenzied financial speculation on products tied to it.... In our case, it’s blockchain technology, which probably will transform banking and finance.” 

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