Editor's Picks from the Atlantic Council

This week's edition brought to you by Daniel Malloy, Deputy Managing Editor OCTOBER 9, 2021 | Move over, Steve Kornacki. There’s a new magic-wall maven, and his name is Josh Lipsky. This past week, Josh, a former International Monetary Fund and White House official, teamed up with experts at Rhodium Group to launch the China Pathfinder project, a deep, data-driven analysis of China’s opaque economy. And on Tuesday, he and Rhodium’s Dan Rosen deployed the Council’s new magic-wall technology to walk a high-level audience through their big findings. In short, policymakers have been getting China’s economy all wrong. And we’ve got receipts. Check out the surprising results and more in our weekend reads. Eight months ago, Rhodium and our GeoEconomics Centre joined forces to answer a burning question: Is China’s economy becoming more or less like those of the United States and other open-market countries? In contrast to the black-and-white debates that tend to take place in DC, Josh tells a nuanced and often counterintuitive story of what they discovered: that “China is, in fact, conflicted—slowly opening up its economy in some areas while swiftly retrenching in others.” Their first annual report to quantify how the Chinese economy stacks up against other top economies on market competition, investment openness, and more has been turning heads in Washington, Europe, and even inside China. Read more. Heads were also spinning this week from Chile to Jordan to South Dakota in response to the Pandora Papers, a seismic document dump revealing how the world’s wealthiest stash their cash. Andrew Marshall, who has worked on anti-corruption efforts in nonprofits and the private sector, wrote how US President Joe Biden should seize the moment to advance a global anti-corruption agenda. But one of the roadblocks is how many US partners have been shaken by the Pandora fallout, including Ukraine. Elsewhere on AC’s site, Daria Kaleniuk, the executive director of Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Action Center, hammers the European Union for “serving as a playground for corrupt Ukrainian oligarchs and officials” based on investigations far beyond Pandora. Europe, she writes, should close dirty-money loopholes and impose restrictions on those who are looting her country. Read more. In the choppy wake of AUKUS, France and Greece struck a defense partnership that was about more than getting over sore feelings about nuclear subs. These two European Union members are actually taking a novel stand in the name of “strategic autonomy,” writes veteran Greek journalist and analyst Katerina Sokou. Though the deal has angered Turkey, which has long sparred with Greece over maritime claims in the Eastern Mediterranean, Sokou writes that such a pact—which has the encouragement of the United States—can help head off Chinese and Russian influence in those crowded waters. Read more. Abiy Ahmed may have looked jubilant this week as he launched into a new five-year term as Ethiopia’s prime minister, but his problems are piling up. Cameron Hudson, the former director for African affairs on the National Security Council, skillfully lays them out: Record-smashing inflation, ballooning debt, ethnic violence in just about every corner of his country, and growing international isolation as observers fear Abiy is on the verge of an all-out offensive in the Tigray region. But Abiy does have a potential way out, via a new African Union envoy. Will he take it? Read more. Vietnow. In 2016, Paul Miller wrote an in-depth journal article about the perils of looking at Afghanistan through the lens of Vietnam—an analogy that he argued could be self-defeating. Five years later, the defeat happened, with Saigon-like images of evacuations from Kabul. So Paul, a former National Security Council director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, updated his argument for us, explaining how relative to the conflict in Afghanistan the Vietnam War involved vastly more deaths, a conventional army foe backed by a superpower, and an insurgency that was far more popular than the Taliban is. And yet, Paul writes, Biden drew the wrong lessons from history and insisted on an abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan that vindicated the Vietnam analogy “as a roadmap to defeat.” Read more. Your weekly pick from outside AC

For once, let’s bask in some (relatively) good news: The World Health Organization (WHO) this week approved a breakthrough malaria vaccine, which can help tackle the viral scourge that killed 400,000 people globally in 2019—two-thirds of them Africans younger than five. That stat comes from a New York Times analysis by East Africa correspondent Abdi Latif Dahir that unfortunately dampens the joy of this medical marvel. Just like the COVID-19 vaccine, the malaria jab—which requires four doses to be effective—will be difficult to distribute in far-flung areas that need it most and will face skepticism from those disinclined to trust the WHO. Don’t retire those mosquito nets just yet. Something else catch your eye at the Atlantic Council or beyond this week? Email us at editor@atlanticcouncil.org to let us know.


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