Mentioned on the Podcast
Jason Horowitz, “Giorgia Meloni May Lead Italy, and Europe Is Worried,” New York Times
Bob McMahon: (00:03)
In the coming week, Italians vote in another pivotal election for Europe, Russia holds referendums in occupied Ukraine, and the Biden administration hosts the first U.S.- Pacific Island Country Summit. It's September 22nd, 2022, and time for The World Next Week. I'm Bob McMahon.
Jim Lindsay: (00:27)
And I'm Jim Lindsay.
Bob McMahon: (00:28)
Jim, earlier in the summer, Italy's prime minister, Mario Draghi, resigned, despite having survived a no confidence vote. He had said he did not want to govern without full support of his national unity coalition. And so now Italians are poised to vote this Sunday instead of doing their usual spring elections. Polls are showing that a right wing coalition is in the lead. So what do these elections mean for Italy, Jim?
Jim Lindsay: (00:49)
Bob, Sunday's elections, Italy are likely to lead to two firsts in Italian politics. One is we are likely to see the first female prime minister in Italian history. The other is that we're likely to see the first prime minister who heads a party that traces its lineage back to the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. I'm talking of course about Giorgia Meloni, 45, who is the head of the Brothers of Italy party. It was technically founded in 2012, but it follows and comes from a movement that goes all the way back to the fascist dictator Mussolini. Brothers of Italy was chosen as the name for the party, because it's the first words of the Italian national anthem. Now, Ms. Meloni is likely to lead this new right wing government. Her coalition partners are the Lega party headed by Matteo Salvini, 49, and the Forza Italia party headed by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Now, the Brothers of Italy has roared to the front of the crowd on the right side of the Italian political spectrum in good part because it is the one untested party. It was the one party that did not participate in the government that Mario Draghi had headed up. So in a sense, by being an opposition, Meloni's party does not suffer any criticism for the decisions of that government. There's an old saying in politics, to govern is to choose, to choose is to alienate, and so Meloni in many ways is the fresh face on the Italian political scene. The other thing, of course, Bob, is that Meloni's party has forcefully hit the basic topics you would expect to hear from a hard right nation alist party. She has hit hard on the standard issues in the right wing playbook, attacking immigrants, attacking the European Union, playing off a nationalist animosities particularly toward France and Germany, claiming that she's going to protect traditional Christian and Catholic values with particular hostility toward LGBTI+ individuals. And of course in doing so she's garnered a fair amount of criticism from her opponents on the grounds that she herself is an unwed mother, which hardly fits with this playing up of traditional values. Big question is how will she govern once she comes into office. I think there's a great deal of fear that during the campaign Meloni has in many ways sanded off the harshest edges of her party's political platform. This is a great description I saw recently in The New York Times, "Once in power, Ms. Meloni would toss off her pro-European sheeps wool and reveal her nationalist fangs, reverting to protectionism, caving into her Putin adoring coalition partners, rolling back gay rights and eroding liberal EU norms." Now, again, in the run up to the election, Meloni has been very clear that she supports the EU. She's not looking to take Italy out of the EU. She wants to reform it. She has been very emphatic about her desire to continue to support Ukraine, arguing that Italy has a moral duty to do so. But again, once she's in office, there's a question of what her own real views are, but also the issue of where her coalition partners are going to take her. Salvini in particular has called for rethinking or ending sanctions toward Russia. There have been some suggestions that his party has received support from Moscow. You also have the issue that both Berlusconi and Salvini see themselves as the proper people to be prime minister. If you were to go back a couple of years, Salvini was the rising star of the right wing movement. Many people expected him to become prime minister. I should note that Meloni has suggested that the leaders of her two coalition partners aren't particularly excited about the idea that a woman will be in charge of Italy, will be prime minister. I will note that the campaign slogan for her party, I think cleverly chosen, is "Ready." And she argues that she is ready to open a new chapter in Italian politics. We'll see what that chapter looks like.
Bob McMahon: (05:34)
So we're in for it again with Italian politics, never dull moment on that front it seems like. Although, even with Italian politics, I'm feeling a bit of whiplash since it seems like it wasn't all that long ago that the country had returned to the safe, secure, respected hands of Mario Draghi and there was all this analysis that Italy is once again an anchor of Europe, as Europe stands up for, take your pick: EU unity, Western values, standing up against Russia and China for that matter. And so you touched on a lot of these, Jim, but should we give this a bit of time to see how any sort of coalition shakes out before we can really determine what Italy is on either the European or the international scene?
Jim Lindsay: (06:13)
Well, certainly, Bob. And I should note that I'm not surprised you feel a bit of whiplash when it comes to Italian politics because Italy has a long tradition of going through governments very quickly. I think Italy has had 80 or more governments since the end of World War II, so there is a bit of a revolving door in the prime minister's office. The big question of course is going to be once off the campaign trail and in the prime minister's office, what choices does Meloni make? And again, on issues like the EU and criticism of Putin, her views have, well, let's say, evolved. And the question I think many people have is are they going to evolve back to where they were or will they be sustained? Big question mark there. And again, that's going to be determined by her own personal views, by coalition pressures, by events in the rest. I do think more broadly if the polls are right and we do have this right wing coalition come to power in Italy, there's going to be a lot more soul searching across Europe about what this portends for, let's call it, liberal democracy. Not liberal in the sense of the American conservative versus liberal, but in the older view of liberal in terms of individual right and the stress put on acceptance, and tolerance, and things like that, because quite clearly, all of the members of this emerging coalition in Italy have been beating the drum on hostility toward immigrants, toward migration, playing up nationalist themes and the like, so I would imagine you're going to see much tougher, much harsher policies on immigration. And again, Italians would argue they're receiving far more immigrants than they can handle because they happen to be on the Mediterranean across from North Africa, so they are a common entry point. And this is an issue that galvanizes the Italian electorate in much the same way as it galvanizes big parts of the American electorate. These are big issues that matter to people. But, obviously, this government is going to have to operate within a system. There's a lot of reasons why countries criticize Brussels but don't really get around to changing what it is that Brussels does. And Italy can ask for more from the EU in terms of budget support and things like that, but Italy is also subject to all the forces of the market, what happens with their debt, interest rates and the like, so we'll see whether in fact Ms. Meloni is really ready.
Bob McMahon: (08:52)
Yet again, another tricky time for the polls. We just saw in Sweden a right wing party emerge also with lineage back to a dark fascist period in the 1930s, but also needing to coexist in a coalition that could potentially moderate some stances so you're right, Jim, we're going to have to see how Italy handles this next bit of turbulence.
Jim Lindsay: (09:10)
And just one quick coda to that, Bob. I should note that in Italy you can do polls on how people think they will vote up until I think it's two weeks before election day and then there's a cap put on polling. So if Italian public opinion has moved dramatically in the last couple of weeks, we're not going to know. We'll just have to wait to Sunday to see in fact who it is that the Italians choose to vote for.
Bob McMahon: (09:35)
Very important point.
Jim Lindsay: (09:36)
Bob, let's stay in Europe, but let's move our focus to Moscow. This week, Russian president Vladimir Putin gave a highly anticipated state speech. In it he announced that Russia intends to hold referendums in the Russian occupied portions of Ukraine. This decision has been denounced by seemingly all countries in Europe, by the United States, by other countries, yet President Putin intends to forge ahead. What was the significance of these referenda?
Bob McMahon: (10:07)
Well, we should talk about them in the context of a number of things that came out of the Putin speech and tangentially he announced a number of things, including partial mobilization of troops, that was later explained by the Russian defense minister as around 300,000. Plus, Putin repeated clear indications that Russia was ready to use weapons of mass destruction, or let's say nuclear weapons to defend itself. And so what the referendums do is, as widely noted, Russia gets to put together what, by all appearances, will be sham elections in which you can expect to see upwards of 95% of the vote of the people choosing to be part of Russia, then they declare parts of these four regions, and this would be Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. All of which are not totally controlled by Russia, but they control chunks of them. The votes go in that direction over the next several days, Russia then says they're Russian territory. Ukraine attacks these, they're attacking Russian territory, this raises this to a new level of escalation and all bets are off on what we can then deploy. What it also means however is that Russia can then start to treat the citizens of these regions as Russian citizens and potentially fold them into its mobilization efforts. And a number of them are already fighting on Russia's side and some polls have showed, depending on what parts of these regions the polls are included, they are people who support the annexation to Russia, whereas other regions would prefer a return to Ukraine. But the people who are there, they are now then subject to things like mobilization of military forces, as some people have said, becoming potentially cannon fodder for Russian offensives or Russian attempts to stop Ukrainian offensives because this is occurring at a time of a rather humiliating defeat in the Kharkiv area in the east and northeast.
Jim Lindsay: (11:52)
Bob, do we have a sense of why Putin has chosen to take this step right now and why he hasn't gone with a general mass mobilization?
Bob McMahon: (12:03)
I think you're seeing it in the response that we've already seen, Jim. Following really almost instantly after the announcement from Putin, you started to see protests erupting where they had been very muted and very much suppressed places like Moscow and St. Petersburg, especially the cosmopolitan western parts of Russia, where Putin has tried strenuous to distance the war from the populace, even though Russians know they're facing sanctions and know they have limited travel options. Still in all, there are people who've been able to live relatively decent lives, not buffered by the war. Even a partial mobilization brings the war to the doorstep of anybody who has a fighting age child, especially a man. And you also saw it almost instantly flights to places where Russians can travel to, especially in the former Soviet countries, so places like Georgia or Kazakhstan or whatever, first of all, the selling out of flights, there was footage emerging from some border areas where there's log jam of cars of people trying to get out of Russia. This is the kind of thing, this is the kind of domestic frenzy concern, however you want to describe it, that Putin had wanted to avoid. And then on top of that, then a crackdown on people who are protesting, who are seeing this as the faulty war that many had claimed it was while Putin had always called it a special operation. Suddenly, the emperor has the no close situation in which it's exposing the war for what it is. One thing I would add also as we were coming to tape this podcast, Jim, is there were increasing reports that there were forced conscription of Russians, especially in the ethnic republics in the east and far east. You might end up seeing that become more of the flavor of this partial mobilization. So it's a very sensitive domestic situation for Putin, but he was also under intense pressure from those, especially on his right, to do something in response to the Ukrainian wins and to what had seen as a series of setbacks, including an appearance at summit in Samarkand where he received some frosty reception, shall we say.
Jim Lindsay: (13:57)
I was going to say, Bob, that seems to be important because not only is Putin seeing growing opposition internally or seeing it spill out publicly, he's not getting support from countries he had hoped to get support from, or at least neutrality. At that meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit, Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, told Putin bluntly that now is "not an era of war". And in his remarks, President Putin acknowledged that the Chinese had concerns about the war in Ukraine, which I think everybody read as a suggestion that the Chinese have more than just a little bit of concern about the path that Putin is pursuing. I know you referenced Putin's threats to use nuclear weapons. How in the world could he use them in any militarily effective way in Ukraine, and wouldn't any use of nuclear weapons guarantee that Putin would be all alone on the international scene?
Bob McMahon: (14:58)
Yeah, I think it's self-evident from the way you laid out that question, Jim, by all appearances, yes. Now, we should say Russian nuclear doctrine allows for the use of such weapons if the Russian homeland is threatened. It's wording to that effect. I don't have the exact words in front of me, Jim.
Jim Lindsay: (15:15)
You're right. That's exactly what Russian doctrine says and that's why some people worry that the referendum now turns this territory into Russian territory. And as you say, Russia can then say it's been attacked and can go to all things in its inventory.
Bob McMahon: (15:28)
Because the ongoing narrative coming from the Kremlin has been to create their own reality, that these are Ukrainian fascists that brought this all about backed by a West that wants to see the disintegration of Russia, that wants to dance on the grave of Russia just like it did on the Soviet Union, and that it's time for Russians to stand up and defend their country and defend their patrimony, their lineage, and so forth. That has appealed to a certain strain of Russians, but as we saw again with this latest round of protests and voting with their feet, Russians are very uneasy about this and there's a lot of Russians who do not want to be charging into the Ukrainian theater and fighting Ukrainians, and perpetrating acts like we've now seen emerge from places like Izyum, which was reclaimed by Ukrainians and where a lot of the evidence revealed war crimes were committed. We've talked many other times about the way this war has happened, the bombing of hospitals, the bombing of the theater in Mariupol, rape as a systematic campaign in some places that were occupied and on and on and on. There's a great deal of misgiving about spreading this and becoming part of these crimes. We should know the drama playing at the United Nations as well, Jim, it started this week, it's continuing through today. There's a big UN Security Council session in which Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is due to attend in person where they're going to face a lot of opposition and a lot of strong language. The Ukrainian president did a virtual address to the UN General Assembly where he, again, repeated the need to not only prosecute Russia for war crimes, but to oust or suspend its membership from the UN Security Council, for example. You're going to hear strong words from the U.S. and from its allies. You even heard at the UN podium, Turkish president Erdoğan saying Ukraine needs to have its territories returned to it. Erdoğan is someone who's done arms deals with Russia up until recently.
Jim Lindsay: (17:09)
He's tried to play a role mediating.
Bob McMahon: (17:11)
He's tried to play a role mediating. He played a role in helping to facilitate some of the green shipments out of the Ukrainian ports, for example. But again, this is part of this grave concern about what Russia's doing, what Russia says it's doing, and as President Biden said at the UN, the very blatant violation of the UN Charter in terms of going in and just crushing a country because it wants to with no justification and then holding illegal referendums on top of it, it's something that makes a lot of countries uneasy, even those who have been willing to at least do business with Russia. So to answer your initial question, Jim, we're at a pivotal point seemingly in this war and it's a time for risky moves if you're Putin. And he just took a very risky one and he's dangled this nuclear card, which should not be taken lightly. It should be noted as some analysts have pointed out however that up to this point in the war, 200 days plus, there have been any number of occasions where Ukrainian forces have struck at Russia proper as well as on Russian held territory in Crimea, and that has not caused any massive escalation on the Russian side in terms of, as Putin has said, all of the weapons in their arsenal. It doesn't mean they won't, it doesn't mean that they're not serious in this sabre-rattling, but it is something that has to be treated with the full context of the situation.
Jim Lindsay: (18:23)
It certainly poses some big challenges to the White House, to NATO, European countries, because the rational calculation is that Putin will not use nuclear weapons because it will provide very little in the way of military benefit. It will almost certainly harden opposition around the world to Russia. He certainly wouldn't presumably use nuclear weapons against a NATO country because of the high likelihood of escalation to a full scale nuclear war, so that would lead people to discount the threat. But again, if you go back to February, the United States government was arguing that Putin was likely to invade Ukraine and everybody was dismissing that conclusion in the grounds that it didn't make sense to invade Ukraine with 150,000 or so troops. And so this was all either posturing or just leading up to a smaller military operation and then Putin did what everybody predicted, except for the U.S. government and the British government has said he wouldn't do, so it's troubling.
Bob McMahon: (19:26)
And on top of it, another area we do not have a lot of certainty about is the extent to which his power is absolute. There have been all sorts of teasing indications that there are others in Russia who would try to nudge him aside and take the actions that he's resisted taking, for example. We just don't know. He certainly has been able to weaken divide and otherwise crush any opposition that comes on the more moderate side of the Russian spectrum, but we don't know about the opposition on his right.
Jim Lindsay: (19:54)
Bob McMahon: (19:55)
Well, Jim, I'm going to take our conversation to the U.S. capital, Washington, DC, where president Biden will be hosting a summit of Pacific Island leaders. There is a long history of partnership between the United States and Pacific nations. However, China has been showing increased interest and has been exerting some growing influence in the region. So how do you think this summit will go and what should we look for?
Jim Lindsay: (20:15)
Well, Bob, when I read about the summit being called, and it was called rather hastily, it was announced just the beginning of this month, I immediately thought of the old adage, you reap what you sow. If you look at the Pacific Islands, as you mentioned, the United States has deep ties for those people who are aficionados of the Pacific theater of World War II, you can list the islands, the battles, Guadalcanal, and the Solomon Islands often tops the list, but for about 30 years after 1990, the United States pretty much ignored the islands in the southern Pacific. And I will note in places like the Solomon Islands, the United States closed down its embassy, ignored what was happening there. Well, go back to this spring when the Solomon Islands suddenly signed a bilateral security pack with China, the United States became intensely interested in what was happening in the Pacific Islands. And I think what you see right now is an administration scrambling to try to, and in many ways, get back in the game, particularly with the Solomon Islands, which has this bilateral security assistance pack with China, the text of which, as best I know, has never been released. We're unsure what's in it. It's controversial within the Solomon Islands itself and the prime minister of the Solomon Islands recently postponed elections that were scheduled to be held, arguing that they couldn't be held because of the upcoming Pacific Games, that the governments incapable of both holding a sporting event and holding elections, so the elections going to get held off to 2024. Now there are variety of divisions within the Solomon Islands and there's some real complexities there, but I think many people in the United States and certainly in Australia, which regards the southern Pacific really as its front yard, gravely concerned about the direction there knowing that there are a number of countries, small islands, that are in the southern Pacific that are participating in this dialogue and they have concerns themselves about where the Solomon Islands and a few other islands are headed largely because they don't want to get caught up in the geo-competition between the United States and China. They also greatly fear that China may come in ways that will suppress their own freedom and their own rights.
Bob McMahon: (22:41)
So to use a policy wonk term, are there any deliverables from a summit like this or is it the fact that the summit itself might be significant enough as a starting point?
Jim Lindsay: (22:50)
As best we know, there are no big deliverables coming at the summit. Indeed when you look at U.S. foreign policy in the last several years, while there's a sudden understanding that we're in a rivalry, a competition with China, the amount that we're putting on the table compared to what the Chinese are doing with things like the Belt and Road Initiative are quite paltry. We have something called the Global Fragility Act that Congress passed. And you look at the numbers, it's measured in a couple 100 million dollars. The Chinese are throwing around billions of dollars. So there's nothing quite like that. The formal agenda for this summit meeting is to discuss climate change, pandemic response, economic recovery, maritime security, environmental protection, and advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific. That's really the code word for we really don't want you to get too close to China, but again, the Chinese have been very generous in providing funding. They have been pouring money into the Solomon Islands. They basically paid for the infrastructure that the Pacific Games will use. I will note that the Australian prime minister came in and said once the elections were postponed that if money were an issue that Australia would be happy to fund the Solomon Islands elections. To the best of my knowledge, the prime minister of the Solomon Islands is yet to take Australia up on that offer and I think actually accuse the Australians of trying to interfere. But I think what you're really seeing is an effort by this administration to abide by the first rule of diplomacy, which is show interest in others and to try to make the case to show that we care. Again, a lot of diplomacy really is about showing up, but obviously it's better if you can show up with a present, with a gift, with some support, but at least the United States is doing something it pretty much didn't do for three decades, and that is showing an interest in what's happening in the southern Pacific.
Bob McMahon: (24:50)
So there will be games taking place in the Pacific islands, but too early to talk about a great game.
Jim Lindsay: (24:55)
Yeah, well, I think the great game is a foot, Bob. We're seeing this across the globe. The United States certainly with the December 2017 national security strategy, talking about an era geopolitical competition between the United States and China, also Russia has increasingly had to look at what is it doing to build up, maintain and sustain its network of friends, partners and allies. The United States in many ways has a big lead over the Chinese on that score, but China has been working diligently not just in the southern Pacific, but in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America to make friends and to build support. And United States only now is getting around to it. And one of the things we have seen in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the assumption that many Americans make that other countries out there like us and want to follow our lead isn't true. There's a lot of resentment toward the West for what are considered to be predatory economic or diplomatic strategies, for a lack of interest in the problems that they face, the list goes on and on. And I think a big challenge for this administration and successive administrations is try to rebuild support throughout the so-called global South for the values that we and our closest partners treasure.
Bob McMahon: (26:26)
All right. Well, I'll be keeping an eye on that next week.
Jim Lindsay: (26:28)
Okay, Bob, I think we've reached the point in our podcast where we discuss the audience figure of the week. Let me remind everybody that listeners can vote on or tweet us figures of the week @cfr_org. This week, Bob, our audience selected Hurricane Fiona hits Puerto Rico. Tell me about it.
Bob McMahon: (26:48)
First of all, I should say, Fiona is not finished yet. It did absolutely slam Puerto Rico. Latest report, something like 80% of the homes were knocked out of power. Something like a half million people were still without water service. Luckily, so far the number of dead reported from the storm is minimal. It's about eight, the last report. That's far less than what happened with the last major storm to slam Puerto Rico almost exactly five years ago, which was Hurricane Maria, which resulted in thousands of deaths, at least 4,000. And I'll get back to that in a moment. But Fiona is not finished as a storm. It was last reported moving on to Bermuda after ripping through the Dominican Republic and was said to be on a track to hit the Canadian maritime provinces, although these tracks sometimes change, but it's been a year of very relatively few storms, Jim, but this one is a big one. And finally, I'll just note, it brought tension firmly back on the inadequacies of Puerto Rico in terms of its efforts to rebuild and to use money set aside for rebuilding after Hurricane Maria hit. Puerto Rico's got a lot of problems with its ability to get things done and this is shining another light on it.
Jim Lindsay: (27:56)
Certainly is, Bob, the scenes of devastation across Puerto Rico are just astounding. And again, for Puerto Ricans having gone through this just five years ago with Hurricane Maria, which was incredibly devastating, it's just very sad. And it's great that the loss of life is much lower than it was with Hurricane Maria, but it is really tough and it puts Puerto Rico in a difficult position of once again trying to rebuild. And that gets you in this broader question that if we are moving into an era of more extreme weather and that we're going to see more hurricanes or more intense hurricanes, how it is that you adapt to such circumstances, particularly in the case of a country like Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, which are going through some periods of economic hardships and don't necessarily have the resources to do a full scale mitigation, because the cost of rebuilding and adapting to a changed climate is going to be astoundingly high.
Bob McMahon: (28:56)
Absolutely, Jim. And also it's this complicated stew of poor performance and corruption on the Puerto Rican side, but also laxity and poor oversight on the U.S. government side. For instance, after Maria hit, FEMA, the U.S. agency that's in the front line of responding to such events, it allocated more than 13 billion dollars to help with electrical grid repair, but only something like 40 million had been dispersed in the past five years of that.
Jim Lindsay: (29:22)
How can that be, Bob?
Bob McMahon: (29:23)
I think it speaks to, again, this poor oversight question, this fact that Puerto Rico, for all sorts of reasons, again on the local side, the poor governance issue and on the U.S side some steady oversight that makes sure that funding is dispersed properly and that this territory, it's a U.S. territory, it's not a state, but still it's a U.S. administered territory, these are U.S. citizens, that it get treated properly and that has not happened. And so on top of it all, you've had this ongoing flight from Puerto Rico where you've had thousands and thousands of people now have come to the U.S. mainland. It used to be that New York was one of the main centers. Now Florida I think is where most Puerto Ricans have relocated to. These tend to be people who are educated, who have skills that are transferable easily, that further weakens Puerto Rico. So there's a whole bunch of different issues going on that need to be addressed. And it's not to say that there aren't people remaining in Puerto Rico who don't want to be there and don't have something to contribute. Again, it's this laxity and storms bring it out. There have been recurring moments when other issues have brought to bear why this was a problem. There were problems during the COVID response, for example, Jim, but Puerto Rico I think it's a moment where they really need a focus and a strong set of hands to guide it through this particularly tough moment.
Jim Lindsay: (30:39)
I think you're right, Bob, that you can sometimes end up in situations of self reinforcing problems and that one problem leads to another, which compounds it and it can be very hard to change that direction. And sadly, again, certainly for a Puerto Rico to get hammered again by a hurricane and with the likelihood that it may not be more than a couple years to see that repeated raises a lot of concern.
Bob McMahon: (31:04)
As you say, there will be more and I root strongly for it myself personally. I've been there a couple of times and really enjoy it, really appreciate it, but it's got a lot of problems to sort through.
Jim Lindsay: (31:13)
Yeah, I agree.
Bob McMahon: (31:15)
And that's our look at the storm tossed The World Next Week. Here's some other stories to keep an eye on. The youth led Fridays For Future movement holds a protest for climate justice. Cuba holds referendums on legalizing same sex marriage and same sex adoption. And the state funeral for Japan's former prime minister Abe Shinzo takes place.
Jim Lindsay: (31:31)
Please subscribe to The World Next Week on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you get your podcasts and leave of your review while you're at. We appreciate the feedback. The articles mentioned in this episode, as well as a transcript of our conversation are listed on the podcast page for The World Next Week on cfr.org. Please note that opinions expressed in The World Next Week or solely those of the hosts or our guests, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. Today's program was produced by Ester Fang, the Senior Podcast Producer, Gabrielle Sierra. Ester also edited this episode. Thank you, Ester. Special thanks to Margaret Gach and Michelle Kurilla for their assistance. This is Margaret's last time contributing to The World Next Week and she is moving on to new ventures. We appreciate all the terrific support she has provided us over the past three years. Our theme music is provided by Miguel Herrero in license under Creative Commons. This is Jim Lindsay saying so long.
Bob McMahon: (32:31)
And this is Bob McMahon saying goodbye and take care out there.
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