Miranda Green: When does engagement with a difficult regime become submission? On Thursday Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary, warned against Russophobia. “Russia is a great country,” he said. But Philip Stephens uses his column this week to argue for a tough line against the Kremlin.
Sadly, as Philip observes, Vladimir Putin has apologists in high places, and on the far right and far left, seduced by his authoritarianism. But those who call for “engagement“ without a strong response from the west are misremembering the cold war, he argues, when military competition bulwarked co-operation in arms control. Should we make a deal with Putin, or deal with him?
The Skripal poisoning merits a robust response not just from the UK but from her allies too, says Philip, precisely because it is no surprise and an example of contempt for the rule of law, a core western value.
Hammond’s unwise outsourcing: The chancellor’s Spring Statement was, as billed, not an active intervention in tax and spending. But Chris Giles argues that it went much too far in making the government a passive respondent to economic forecasts: it is inappropriate, Chris writes, to delegate these most important political decisions to unelected officials.
Seeing sense on the census: Gillian Tett calls for Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump’s commerce secretary, to drop plans to ask respondents in the 2020 US census to give their citizenship status. It is already causing public concern about how the information will be used — not least among immigrant groups — and this could undermine the exercise.
Rise of the Chinese robots: Michael Wooldridge explains that China is now in serious competition with the US for dominance in artificial intelligence. The professor of computer science at Oxford points out that Chinese tech companies have a major advantage in their access to data on a huge scale to feed machine learning.
When the White House and showbiz meet: Robert Shrimsley imagines an update of Donald Trump's television show, in which his catchphrase “You’re fired” is thrown around with gay abandon. If there’s one thing the US president understands, it’s showmanship. - Financial Times