Wednesday 21 February 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 21/2/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Christopher Cermak

The right stuff

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) used to be a meeting of supposedly traditional evangelical US conservatives that dictated its priorities to election candidates – not the other way around. But when Donald Trump walks up to the podium as the headline speaker on Saturday evening, he’ll be addressing a transformed gathering, one that largely caters to his whims.

CPAC’s previous status made it matter to conservatives. When I first attended the conference in the run-up to 2012’s presidential election, it was a proving ground for Republican hopefuls. Mitt Romney, who was then in a close race against Rick Santorum, referred to himself as “severely conservative” as he worked the audience. His victory in a straw poll of attendees helped to revive his candidacy.

This year the event might just about get a coup if Trump were to endorse a national ban on abortion after 16 weeks of pregnancy. But beyond that, does anyone expect Trump to extol the virtues of marriage and family values? Not to mention that the straw poll this time will likely be overshadowed by a new polling question – who should be Trump’s vice-president? – that presages the outcome of the first. His rival Nikki Haley appears not to have been invited, while Liz Truss, Nigel Farage and Javier Milei are among the curious assortment of international attendees.

This focus on the populist strand of conservatism should matter even more in a two-party system. Whether liberal or conservative, every ideology (and the various competing factions within it) deserves to be heard. Neoconservatives, evangelical conservatives, free-marketeers, libertarians and, last but not least, pro-democracy activists should have the opportunity to challenge their party’s candidate, not take his views lying down. The problem with the US political right today is that it has been hijacked by a dismissive populist who isn’t above ridiculing opponents within his own party, let alone those on the other side. CPAC needs to stand up and be heard.

Christopher Cermak is Monocle Radio’s senior news editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Sails pitch: Royal Australian Navy Canberra class amphibious ship ‘HMAS Canberra’

Image: Alamy

Defence / Australia

Shipping forecast

Australia has announced plans to build 15 new warships and increase its defence spending by an additional AU$11.1bn (€6.7bn) over the next 10 years. The plans will upgrade the navy’s fleet from 11 to 26 ships, its largest number since the end of the Second World War. The announcement comes during a time of geopolitical tension between the US, Russia and China in the Indo-Pacific region.

The latest funding would bring the total cost of Australia’s defence spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP, which is above the 2 per cent target set by its Nato allies. Though the country is ready to expand its naval fleet, past defence projects have often been beset by policy changes and government U-turns. Let’s see whether it manages to turn the boat around.

Affairs / Myanmar

In or out

Young people in Myanmar are scrambling for the exit ahead of the introduction of the war-torn country’s first-ever draft in April. The military junta, which has ruled the southeast Asian nation since a coup in February 2021, plans to conscript 5,000 young men and women every month to serve at least two years in the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s armed forces. The decision to introduce conscription follows a spate of battlefield successes for rebel groups. Significant parts of the country are no longer under the Tatmadaw’s control, including territory on the border with China, an important trade route. As a result, the junta has extended a state of emergency and delayed plans to hold a general election. Neighbouring Thailand is bracing for a wave of arrivals from across the border after a surge in the number of visa applications at the Thai embassy in Yangon. Myanmar’s youth is voting with its feet.

Flight plan: A rendering of the Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport

Image: AF517 / Diorama

Aviation / Italy

Cleared for takeoff

The Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport in Salerno, Italy, will begin operating as a commercial terminal in July. The site, which has previously been used as a military base and flying school, will be updated to include new passenger facilities and an extended runway.

Though locals fear that the coastal destination could become overcrowded, the improved connections will at least relieve some of the pressure on Naples International Airport, which processes more than five million tourists heading to the Amalfi Coast every year. It is also the main point of access to Italy’s islands. The airport is expected to be under development until 2043, when it will be able to process six million passengers a year.

For more on the Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport, tune in to ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio at 07.00 London time.

Beyond the Headlines

The List / Nomad, St Moritz

Playing to the gallery

The annual Nomad travelling art fair opens tomorrow in St Moritz and runs until Sunday. Here are our picks of the galleries showcasing the best in collectable art this year.

1. Daguet-Bresson
Paris-based art dealer and ceramics expert Florian Daguet-Bresson opened his first gallery in the French capital in January 2024. His inaugural exhibition at Nomad St Moritz is a joyful and humorous collection of ceramics, with an emphasis on quality craftsmanship.

2. The Stable
Art collector Fritz Steinhart founded The Stable gallery in 2021 to showcase work from both established and emerging artists in the Engadin Valley. At its space at Nomad St Moritz this year, it will present a selection of works by artists such as Gianna Dispenza, Rudolf Polanszky, Sigve Knutson, Vera Klimentyeva and Yves Scherer.

3. Sofia Zevi
Artist Sofia Zevi founded her eponymous gallery in Milan in 2023. Here, it will present Infinitamente, a celebration of stripes in Italian design. On display are pieces by designers such as Chiarastella Cattana and Massimo Vignelli who is best known for designing the signage for the New York Subway.

Tune in to this weekend’s edition of ‘Monocle on Sunday’, which will broadcast live from Hotel Eden in St Moritz at 09.00 London time.

Image: Clay Perry

Monocle Radio / Monocle on Culture

Yoko Ono’s endless imagination

We head to London’s Tate Modern gallery for Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind. The UK’s largest-ever exhibition on the work of the artist and activist, it brings together her performances, films, music, photography and more. Robert Bound speaks to its curator, Juliet Bingham, arts journalist Andrew Male and broadcaster Jennifer Lucy Allan.


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