Justin Trudeau in the Last Chance Saloon

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It’s hard to know how to do justice to these terrible events in a single newsletter, let alone an item in it. The official memorial events have begun — and I’ll leave the reflecting to a selection of views from people and publications who were there. As an outsider to the United States, 9/11 was an event I immediately understood to have shattered not only lives but also personal and political identities. Two decades later, from another momentous event — the fall of Afghanistan — to the achievement of two women not even alive on 9/11 reaching the U.S. Open tennis final to be played Saturday on the anniversary — it feels like the end of an era that revolved around 9/11 and the American and global response to it.

The big question: How would a bitterly divided America react today, if attacked similarly? We would find out the truth behind the seeming end of bipartisanship, if nothing else.

Food for thought:

WELCOME TO GLOBAL INSIDER: The newsletter and new podcast that brings you intimate conversations with the world’s most powerful people. The first podcast episode drops Wednesday and features Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

JOIN GLOBAL INSIDER TODAY: Susan Glasser, Ryan Heath and Ed Luce join Ivo Daalder to discuss the week’s top news stories, from the 20th anniversary of 9/11 to the new Taliban government in Afghanistan, in the Chicago Council’s World Review, 11 a.m. ET. Sign-up here.

U.S. AND CHINA — READOUTS FROM PRESIDENTIAL CALL: Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping spoke Thursday, marking a rare engagement for the two leaders at the head of a relationship that’s far from functional.

Per White House: “The two leaders had a broad, strategic discussion in which they discussed areas where our interests converge, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge … the two leaders discussed the responsibility of both nations to ensure competition does not veer into conflict.”

Per China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun, “President Xi called China-US relations [the] question of the century concerning [the] world’s future. Both countries and world [would] gain from China-US cooperation and lose from their confrontation. It’s not about if we should have good ties, but how to make it so.”


Three of the seven G-7 countries have national elections in the coming six weeks. First up is Canada.

CANADIAN ELECTION — JUSTIN TRUDEAU’S LAST CHANCE: Canada’s teflon prime minister can point to one of the world’s most successful Covid vaccine rollouts amid a series of unmet expectations in his second term.

POLITICO’s Ottawa team reports here on how and why he voluntarily cut short his second term to call the country’s early Sept. 20 election. While Trudeau calls it the most important election since the World War II, he doesn’t have a convincing answer about why he called it, leaving everyone to make the most obvious conclusion: It was simply his best shot of gaining a majority in Parliament and ridding himself of the inconvenience of minority government.

The nakedly obvious tactic of his conservative challenger Erin O’Toole is to present himself as a moderate, not too different from Trudeau, but without a smell of self-interest and scandal. That positioning was on full display in Thursday’s night’s final election debate. Neither of the main parties have published an independently costed policy platform.

WHO WON THE DEBATE? None of the five debaters won on the level of soaring rhetoric or inspiring leadership: But it was the Conservative O’Toole who did most to solidify his chances. Trudeau found himself frequently playing defense, leaving O’Toole space to project himself as a leader who could be imagined at the next G-7 or taking a call from Joe Biden.

POLITICO breaks down the debate here — including calls for Canada’s debate commission to be abolished. As it happened: our reporter live chat.

Follow the last week of the campaign with our Ottawa Playbook.

AFGHANISTAN — PROFILING THE NEW TALIBAN GOVERNMENT: Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio have done thumbnail portraits of 22 members of the new government. Four of them are former Guantanamo detainees, and a majority are already subject to U.S. sanctions, bringing into question who and how democratic governments will be able to work with them.


Deborah Lyons, head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, now operating outside the country, told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday thatthe Taliban won power, but not yet the confidence of the Afghan people.” She insisted the government provide a safe environment for all U.N. staff (some are in hiding). “A way must be found, and quickly, that allows money to flow to Afghanistan to prevent a total breakdown of the economy and social order. The failure of the international community in Afghanistan does not justify abdication from its consequences,” Lyons said.

U.N. — PEACEKEEPING WIN FOR IRELAND: The Security Council, led this month by Ireland, voted unanimously on Thursday to approve a new policy governing countries subject to U.N. “peacekeeping transition” (recent examples include Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, Liberia and Darfur). Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney said via email that the policy, proposed by Ireland, “provides a path that reinforces national ownership” of U.N. peacekeeping efforts. The goal: to broaden who participates in peacekeeping planning and institution-building, and to have those consultations built in from Day 1 of peacekeeping efforts. Russia and China objected to language on climate change that Ireland had sought to include, leading to its removal.

TRANSATLANTIC — PITTSBURGH TO HOST NEW TECH AND TRADE COUNCIL: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai will host European Commission Executive Vice Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis for the council’s first meeting Sept. 29. Pittsburgh has reinvented itself as a high-end tech and manufacturing hub.

Where are the tensions? Global Insider’s sources inside the participating teams say that the U.S. government is pushing for the forum to prioritize pushing back against China together, while European participants are more interested in regulatory alignment and cooperation.

Translation: The two sides are not yet aligned on what this forum is really for. If they can sort themselves out, it’s feasible to imagine a partial, back-door version of the failed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (RIP, 2016) rising from the ashes.

UNDER THE RADAR — HUNGARY-SERBIA GAS PIPELINE, ANTI-MIGRATION ALLIANCE: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán continues to roll out strategic alliances and investments. He called a new agreement focused on connections (border crossing points and controls, pipelines, roads, railways and removing economic barriers) with Serbia “among the most important from a historical perspective” of his 16 years leading Hungary.

The new pipeline removes another set of gas transit fees from the Ukrainian budget, as Hungary can now get more gas from the south, rather than from its northern gas pipeline connections with Ukraine. Orbán promised that in the wake of “the American failure in Afghanistan … Europe should be in no doubt that if there is a migrant wave, Serbia and Hungary will stop it together.”

JOIN GLOBAL INSIDER NEXT WEEK: Ryan will moderate “New Rules in the Global Tech Race” during POLITICO’s inaugural tech summit on Wednesday. Confirmed panelists include Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, Carnegie Endowment’s Erica Borghard and Zack Cooper of American Enterprise Institute. Register to attend. Got any questions for the panelists? Shoot me an email.

SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL TAX CREDIT: President Biden said Thursday he wants to “reduce Aviation Emissions by 20 percent by 2030” by boosting “sustainable aviation fuel production to at least 3 billion gallons per year.”

The key plank of the plan would be a tax credit that would be approved in the 2021 $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill Democrats are pushing. Despite the White House issuing a 3,109 word fact sheet, it’s still not clear to Global Insider how big the tax credit is supposed to be.

NET ZERO REALITIES: Almost 60 percent of oil and gas reserves and 90 percent of coal reserves would need to be left unextracted by 2050 in order for the world to keep global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (the goal of the Paris climate agreement). That’s from a new study led by University College London’s Dan Welsby.

WHICH VACCINE PASSPORT APP SHOULD YOU USE? Truly, a first world problem.


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