Wednesday 14 June 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 14/6/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Christopher Cermak

Trial and trusted

Americans love being on a global pedestal. We like to proclaim that we are the best in various categories, challenge international law when it undermines our national interest and bristle whenever global public opinion turns against us. The exception is when it’s politically expedient to be seen as inferior: this past week, the trials and tribulations of Donald Trump have seen a curious race to the global bottom.

The term “banana republic” was invoked by various Republican party presidential contenders: entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy used it to disparage Trump’s historic federal indictment by the justice department, while former New Jersey governor Chris Christie conversely used it to condemn grifting by Trump’s family. Former vice-president Mike Pence criticised the indictment for sending a “terrible message across the wider world” and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson called Trump’s behaviour “bad for our country”.

Cracks are starting to show publicly across the Republican party about whether Trump represents the best of the US. But what’s also striking about these reactions is how much Americans really do care about global reputation. Whether Republican or Democrat, our aspiration is to be a shining beacon of international democracy. Most of us still become defensive if foreigners suggest that we have lost our heralded place in the global consciousness – or have no hope of regaining it.

Well, here’s our chance to show it. Whether you consider the justice department “weaponised” or not, most legal experts believe that Trump’s prosecutors have a strong case. So let them prove it in a court of law before a jury of the former president’s peers. This is the prism through which I watched Trump’s arraignment in Miami yesterday: the start of a speedy trial, demonstrating that our institutions can withstand one of the toughest tests that they have ever faced. It is the actions of an exemplary democracy – the kind that you want on a global pedestal.

Christopher Cermak is Monocle’s Washington correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / China & Palestine

Go for broker

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas arrived in China yesterday for a four-day state visit to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Abbas will meet his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping (pictured, on left, with Abbas), whose government has expressed readiness to broker a peace deal. It follows Beijing’s larger efforts to form stronger ties with the Middle East and counter US influence in the region. In March it helped to re-establish relations between long-term Gulf rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. “While the US and Europe become more hostile toward China, Beijing is finding diplomatic openings elsewhere,” David Schlesinger, an independent adviser and commentator on media, journalism and China, tells The Monocle Minute. “China is trying to be a credible alternative to a world dominated by Washington. The West tends to laugh off China’s diplomacy in Ukraine or the Middle East but, at the very least, Beijing is showing that it has to be respected.”

Image: Getty Images

Affairs / Global

Summit to think about

Nato delegates will meet in Ankara today to determine whether Turkey will approve Sweden’s application to join the military alliance, ahead of the Nato Summit in Vilnius on 11 and 12 July. Sweden applied to join the alliance in May last year, a few months after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. However, the Scandinavian country’s accession was blocked by Turkey, which claimed that it was harbouring Kurdistan Workers’ Party “terrorists”.

The meeting will assess whether Sweden’s move to pass an anti-terror law – after a meeting in November between Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Sweden’s prime minister Ulf Kristersson (pictured, on left, with Erdogan)) – which allows authorities to prosecute individuals supporting terror groups, is enough to sway Ankara. “ Turkey is still blocking Sweden’s accession but officials are hopeful that there will be a breakthrough today,” Lili Bayer, Politico’s senior reporter for Europe, tells The Monocle Minute. If an agreement is reached today, it would place pressure on Hungary, which has also blocked Sweden’s bid, to give in.

Image: AKAstudio-collective

Fashion / Florence

Putting on the style

The spring 2024 edition of menswear trade fair Pitti Uomo opened its doors yesterday, kick-starting almost two weeks of presentations and runway shows in Florence, Milan and Paris. This season will be the busiest yet for the menswear industry, reflecting a global luxury boom that has given fashion labels the confidence to invest in ambitious events, retail revamps and high-end manufacturing. Raffaello Napoleone, CEO of Pitti Uomo, predicts robust business, with British, American and South Korean buyers placing some of the highest orders.

In three days, Italian department store Rinascente (pictured) will be hosting pop-ups in its renovated flagship in the Tuscan capital, while fellow retailer LuisaViaRoma is taking over the Piazzale Michelangelo to host its own runway show and Rome-based Fendi is presenting its latest menswear range at its newly opened factory in Capannuccia. “Luxury brands are producing more across the area and investing in opening craft schools within these factories,” he tells The Monocle Minute. “We’ve never experienced so much positive pressure.”

Image: Jeremy Liebman

Art / Basel

In the frame

Tomorrow the world’s largest and most influential art fair, Art Basel, opens its doors to the public. More than 200 galleries will be showing the work of more than 4,000 artists from five continents. Veteran art-world executive Noah Horowitz became CEO of Art Basel last November. He tells Monocle what to expect this year and outlines where art fairs are heading.

What’s new at Art Basel this year?
We are thrilled to have 285 galleries in attendance from all over the world. Not only do we have 21 new exhibitors but three of them are coming directly into Art Basel’s main sector [where the long-established players have booths] without taking part in the fair’s other subsections beforehand. This shows an evolution in our thinking: to truly support pioneering galleries.

Art Basel is growing and niche fairs continue to expand but the influence of medium-sized fairs is flagging. Where are fairs heading?
During the pandemic, people were questioning the future of fairs. But in the past year, there was the launch of Frieze in Seoul, we launched Paris+ and celebrated 20 years in Miami. We have seen strong application numbers for all of our shows. The art world has become more selective and fairs must have great programming or there is a risk that people won’t attend in the same numbers.

What would your ideal art fair look like?
A lot like Art Basel: a venue that brings together the greatest galleries, artists and collectors in a single place and time. But we don’t rest on our laurels. Art fairs haven’t evolved tremendously in 50 years. We can be more ambitious in how we innovate and build creative communities around fairs.

For more on Art Basel, pick up a copy of Monocle’sJune issue, which is on sale now and includes a six-page special on the fair. Orsubscribetoday so that you never miss an issue.

Image: Alamy

Monocle Radio / The Urbanist

Habitat 67, Montréal

Paul Logothetis explores the terraces and towers of the Canadian city’s most famous housing complex.

Monocle Films / Transport

Inside the airship industry

Airships, once tipped to be the future of flight, are now largely used as costly billboards that drift across cities or over major sporting events. We travelled to Friedrichshafen in Germany to take a peek inside one of the world’s few commercial operations and explore this niche area of aviation.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00