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A new world order is emerging — and the world is not ready for it

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DUBAI – “Are we ready for the new world order?”

The provocative title of the panel that lead off the ambitiously named World Government Summit here last week was framed to suggest that a new global order is emerging — and the world is not ready for it.

There has been a proliferation of writing about who will shape the future world order since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, the most murderous Europe has suffered since 1939.

The tempting conclusion: Should Ukraine survive as an independent, sovereign, and democratic country, the U.S.- and Europe-backed forces will regain momentum against the previously ascendant Russian-Chinese forces of authoritarianism, oppression and (at least in Putin’s case) evil.

That sounds like good news, but there is a downside.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine and a series of COVID-related shutdowns in China do not, on the surface, appear to have much in common,” writes Atlantic Council fellow Michael Schuman in The Atlantic (a publication not related to the Council). “Yet both are accelerating a shift that is taking the world in a dangerous direction, splitting it into two spheres, one centered on Washington, D.C., the other on Beijing.”

My conversations in Dubai — at the World Government Summit and at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum — show little enthusiasm or conviction for this bifurcated vision of the future. The Middle Eastern participants have no interest in abandoning relations with China, the leading trading partner for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or breaking with Russia, which established itself as a force to be reckoned with when it saved Syrian President Bashar al-Assad through its military intervention in his war.

Beyond that, our Mideast partners have lost confidence in America’s commitment to global leadership or competence for it following last year’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal. They are also experiencing whiplash from a Trump administration that trashed the nuclear deal with Iran to a Biden administration they feel is pursuing it without sufficiently factoring in Tehran’s regional aggression.  

In all my many travels to the Mideast over the years, I have never heard this level of frustration from Mideast government officials with American policymakers.

That said, they are watching Ukraine with fascination, because a Ukrainian victory — with a strong, united West behind it — would force a rethink about U.S. commitment and competence and shift the trajectory of declining transatlantic influence and relevance. Conversely, a Putin victory — even at a huge cost to Russians and Ukrainians alike — would accelerate Western decline as an effective global actor.

My own answer to the panel question on our preparedness for “the new world order” was to quote Henry Kissinger (who else?) in questioning the premise. “No truly ‘global’ world order’ has ever existed,” Kissinger wrote in his book “World Order.” “What passes for order in our time was devised in Western Europe nearly four centuries ago, at a peace conference in the German region of Westphalia, conducted without the involvement or even the awareness of most other continents or civilizations.” Over the following centuries, its influence spread.

With that as context, the question is not what the new world order would be, but rather if the U.S. and its allies can through Ukraine reverse the erosion of the past century’s gains as a first step toward establishing the first truly “global” world order.

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley tells me the effort was the fourth attempt toward international order in the past century.

The first effort after World War I, through the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations, tragically failed. Instead, the world got European fascism, U.S. isolationism, a global economic crisis, and millions dead from the Holocaust and World War II.

Following World War II, the U.S. and its partners were dramatically more successful, building what came to be called “the liberal international order,” through the Marshall Plan and new multilateral institutions like the United Nations, the World Bank and IMF, NATO, the European Union, and others.

The third effort came following the West’s Cold War triumph. European democracies emerged or were restored, NATO was enlarged, the European Union expanded, and it seemed for a time that the rules, practices, and institutions developed in the West after World War II and during the Cold War period could absorb and steer an expanded international order. China profited from and embraced this order for a time.

What has been eroding now for some years is U.S. leaders’ commitment to defend, uphold and advance that expanded international order — what Kissinger called “an inexorably expanding cooperative order of states observing common rules and norms, embracing liberal economic systems, forswearing territorial conquest, respecting national sovereignty, and adopting participatory and democratic systems of government.”      

 American foreign policy leadership has rarely been consistent, but it was remarkably so after World War II and through the end of the Cold War. Since then, the inconsistencies have grown, underscored by former President Barack Obama’s “leading from behind” and former President Donald Trump’s “America First.”

Both, in their own ways, were a retreat from former President Harry Truman, and the post-World War II architecture and U.S. global leadership he established and embraced.

In the Middle East, countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE that were once our closest allies now are hedging their bets. Beyond the Iran disagreements, the failure of former President Trump to accept his own electoral defeat raises doubts among our friends about the durability of the American political system and the consistency of U.S. foreign policy.

Beyond that, our Mideast friends resent the Biden administration’s characterization of the emerging global contest as one pitting democracy versus authoritarianism.

“Every democratic attempt in the Arab world has turned ideological or tribal, so I’m not sure it is something we can work out successfully,” Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE President, told the World Government Summit. He sees the issues between democracy and authoritarianism as not binary, but ones of governance and the solution being “something in the middle of both.”   

President Joe Biden’s decision to release on Thursday an “unprecedented” 180 million barrels of crude from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve was an acknowledgment that America’s traditional oil-producing partners were not prepared to help him. The decision came hours after OPEC ignored calls from western politicians to pump oil more quickly – and to resist any suggestion they should remove Russia from the organization.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited New Delhi this week to thank India for its refusal to join sanctions against Russia, an approach shared by Brazil, Mexico, Israel, and the UAE.  Said Lavrov, “We will be ready to supply to India any goods which India wants to buy.”

To shape the future world order, the U.S. and Europe first need to reverse the trajectory of Western and democratic decline in Ukraine.

The rest will need to follow.

Frederick Kempe is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Atlantic Council.



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Boeing to slash about 2,000 white-collar jobs in finance and HR, report says

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Boeing expects to slash about 2,000 white-collar jobs this year in finance and human resources through a combination of attrition and layoffs, the planemaker confirmed to Seattle Times newspaper on Monday.

Last month, the Virginia-based company announced it would hire 10,000 workers in 2023, but some support positions would be cut.

Back then Boeing acknowledged it will “lower staffing within some support functions” – a move meant to enable it to better align resources to support current products and technology development.

“Over time, some of our corporate functions have grown quite large. And with that growth tends to come bureaucracy or disparate systems that are inefficient,” the newspaper quoted Mike Friedman, a senior director of communications at Boeing as saying. “So we’re streamlining.”

Boeing did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment. 

Last year, Boeing said it plans to cut about 150 finance jobs in the United States to simplify its corporate structure and focus more resources into manufacturing and product development.

Watch CNBC's full interview with Boeing's Dave Calhoun



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Trump appeals sanctions for ‘frivolous’ suit against Hillary Clinton

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presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton attend campaign rallies in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, October 10, 2016 and Manchester, New Hampshire U.S., October 24, 2016 in a combination of file photos.

Mike Segar | Carlos Barria | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump and one of his lawyers said Monday they are appealing nearly $1 million in sanctions imposed on them for what a federal judge called their “frivolous” lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and more than two dozen other defendants.

The court filing about the appeal came days after a lawyer for Trump and his attorney Alina Habba told the judge in the case they were willing to put up a bond of $1,031,788 to cover the costs of the sanctions while the federal Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit considered the matter.

In imposing those sanctions Jan. 19, Judge John Middlebrooks said in an order, “We are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, which was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and which was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose.”

Trump’s suit, which sought $70 million in damages, accused Clinton, former FBI officials, the Democratic National Committee and others of conspiring to create a “false narrative” that Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign against Clinton were colluding with Russia to try to win the election that year.

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Middlebrooks in September dismissed the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and barred Trump from refiling the complaint.

He later ordered Trump and Habba to pay more than $937,000 in sanctions.

Middlebrooks in his sanctions order called Trump “a mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process,” and a “prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries.”

A day after Middlebrooks issued that order, Trump voluntarily dropped another lawsuit he had pending before the same judge against New York Attorney General Letitia James. That suit was related to James’ pending $250 million fraud lawsuit against Trump and his company in Manhattan state court.

Jared Roberts, the lawyer for Trump and Habba, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC about the appeal.



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Nissan to buy up to 15% stake in Renault EV unit under reshaped alliance

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Pavlo Gonchar | LightRocket | Getty Images

Nissan and Renault on Monday unveiled details of their redesigned alliance, with the Japanese car maker committing to buy a stake of up to 15% in Renault’s electric vehicles unit Ampere.

The alliance junior partner Mitsubishi Motors will also consider investing in Ampere, which Renault aims to list, the companies said in a statement.

“Nissan’s intention is to invest up to 15% in Ampere, Renault Group’s EV & Software entity in Europe, with the aim to become a strategic investor,” the statement said ahead of a presentation in London.

The companies had already announced that under the deal to revive their long-standing alliance the French carmaker would reduce its stake in its Japanese partner to 15% from around 43% now.

Renault will transfer 28.4% of Nissan shares into a French trust, making the two more equal partners in the alliance.

Sources close to the matter said the agreement aimed to make the alliance freer and more balanced for the next 15 years.

The partnership will produce synergies from joint projects in Europe, India and Latin America, and the companies will work together in Renault’s flagship EV business, electronics and solid-state batteries. 

Renault will have flexibility to sell the Nissan shares held in the trust but “it has no obligation to sell the shares within a specific pre-determined period of time,” the statement on Monday said.

When it does sell, “Nissan would benefit from a right of first offer, to its or the benefit of a designated third party.”

The two companies last month announced a sweeping remake of their 24-year-old automaking alliance, which was thrown into disarray by the ouster of its architect and former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, amid financial scandal.

That announcement came after nearly four months of intense talks complicated by concerns about the sharing of intellectual property as Renault sought tie-ups with companies outside their alliance.

Renault’s board approved the deal on Sunday night, according to a source. Nissan’s board also approved it early on Monday, the source said.

Investors and analysts will be looking for more clarity on how the trust in which Renault will place the bulk of its Nissan stake will operate.

“There is absolutely no word about what’s going to happen to those shares in the trust,” said CLSA analyst Christopher Richter. “It seems they’re all avoiding the issue of Nissan buying them back which I think would be the best thing for all parties involved.”

Richter said Renault’s brand is not seen as being a strong brand, so it may be tough for the French carmaker to raise money for Ampere.

“I wonder once this thing goes into the market how much money you would really raise, he said. “That’s why I think they’re going to push Nissan to pay too much.”

The unequal relationship between the two carmakers had long been a source of friction among Nissan executives.

While Renault bailed out Nissan two decades ago, it is the smaller automaker by sales.

CLSA’s Richter said that the revamped alliance could enable Nissan and Renault to work together on R&D, shared costs and a few shared products “with a little bit less rancor and acrimony between them,” but added that Honda and General Motors <GM.N> have built a partnership that includes jointly developing lower-cost EVs together without any need for a capital relationship.

“One almost wonders what’s the point of them having any stake in either one, any stake at all,” Richter said.



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