Power and Persuasion
February 28, 2020
“People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.” – Blaise Pascal
“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be creditable; to be credible we must be truthful.” – Edward R. Murrow
I Pull The Troops Down In Africa
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently concluded a major trip to Africa, where he pledged more security support and warned against growing Chinese influence. At the same time Defense Secretary Mark Esper is planning deep US troop cuts on the continent, closing a new $110 million drone base, and ending aid to French forces battling the militants surging in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
Currently about 5,200 US troops and 1,000 Defense Department civilians or contractors work throughout Africa, primarily training and conducting exercises with local forces. Some 1,400 of those troops are in West Africa, but that could shrink to 300 under one of Esper’s options.
The State Department and the Pentagon appear to be reading from different playbooks about how to combat terrorists, support allies and thwart global competitors in West Africa. The lack of clear policy objectives is confusing to America’s European allies, who are deeply committed to security in Africa, as well as to military partners on the continent.
All this is happening at a time when terrorism and violence are skyrocketing in Africa’s Sahel region, a vast sub-Saharan scrubland stretching from Senegal to Sudan. Cutting US aid could not only weaken French-led counterterrorism efforts, but enable China and Russia — both dangling deals for new ports and railroads, and promising arms, mercenaries, and overall influence — to seize any foothold the US cedes.
Protestors Runaway With Win
- Environmental groups and climate activists are thrilled to have won a victory against Parliament’s decision to proceed with building a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Britain’s Court of Appeals said the government’s decision to allow the expansion was unlawful because ministers had not adequately addressed the government’s climate change commitments in approving the project.
- The court reasoned that under UK policy the government had a legal duty to take into account the Paris climate agreement, which seeks to limit global warming. Before becoming prime minister Boris Johnson had expressed adamant opposition to the airport expansion. But in 2018, when Johnson was out of the country, MPs voted overwhelmingly to approve the plans.
- Friends of the Earth, one of the environmental groups that brought the case, said the ruling was “an absolutely groundbreaking result for climate justice,” while the British Chambers of Commerce said business communities in the UK would be “bitterly disappointed.” The airport plans to appeal the ruling, but the government does not. (BBC, Guardian)
If You Build It, They Will Like You More
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival. Now just days ahead of national elections, Netanyahu is hoping to boost his pro-settler support by moving ahead on plans to build more than 1,700 homes in 10 settlements in the West Bank, including in a key neighborhood of east Jerusalem, areas Palestinians want for a future state.
- Recently the Trump administration unveiled its long-anticipated Mideast peace plan, which is quite pro-Israel. The plan eschews a two-state solution, instead offering Palestinians limited autonomy over disjointed chunks of land, but only if they meet a set of stringent demands that would require them to drastically alter what has been their decades-long baseline for negotiations: the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.
- Israel captured those territories in the 1967 Mideast war; Palestinians want them back as part of a unified, independent state.
- Much of the international community agrees with Palestine that Israel’s expansion into the West Back is illegal and an obstacle to creating a viable Palestinian state. But with President Trump in the White House, Netanyahu is on a settlement building spree, and has even promised to annex the strategic Jordan Valley. (WaPo)
Additional World News
- Clearview AI worked with Macy’s, Best Buy, ICE, and others (Vox)
- ‘Houses On The River Will Fall’: Cambodia’s Sand Mining Threatens Vital Mekong (NPR)
- Paraguay still haunted by cataclysmic war that nearly wiped it off the map (Guardian)
- Riot Police Pulled From Greek Islands After Clashes Over New Camps (NYT, $)
- Scotland Poised To Become 1st Country To Make Period Products Free (NPR)
- ‘Democracy Is in Play’: What to Know About Protests in the Dominican Republic (NYT, $)
- Scarred and Weary, an Afghan Force Wonders: What Is Peace? (NYT, $)
- Israeli democracy is under siege. If Netanyahu wins the 2020 election, things could get worse. (Vox)
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
Pence and the Pandemic
- On Wednesday President Trump tapped Vice President Pence to oversee the government effort to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus. Trump lauded Pence’s record on health when he was Indiana’s governor (2013-2017) , saying Pence “has a certain talent for this.” In fact, Pence’s record on Indiana’s public health isn’t so good.
- Not only does Pence have no medical experience, but his faith and his pocketbook influenced his decision-making on what’s good for the people of his state. His government turned a blind eye to the state’s dirty needle-sharing problem until an HIV outbreak hit Scott County, one of the poorest counties in Indiana, and infections from needle-sharing were blamed.
- Health experts again recommended a needle exchange program, but Pence said he was morally opposed to providing needles to drug users — even if those needles could effectively slow the spreading of HIV. The Republican chairman of the Indiana House Committee on public health said of Pence: “There was no willingness to engage or to work collaboratively on a solution.”
- After two months Pence finally signed an emergency order for needle-exchange in one county only, and only for 30 days. In 2016 Pence cut Indiana’s budget for public health programs despite the state’s high rates of smoking, obesity, and infant mortality. All public funding for Planned Parenthood was eliminated, so when the one in Scott County closed its doors, so did the only HIV testing facility in the county. (NPR)
Cover Your Mouths And The Economy
- Goldman Sachs is predicting US companies will see zero growth in 2020 due to the coronavirus. This week fears about the epidemic pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average into correction territory, down at least 10 percent from its 52-week high.
- Another 10 percent drop in the major US indexes would mean a bear market, something not seen since December 24, 2018. The last prolonged bear market in the US was during the financial crisis in 2007-2008, and lasted about 17 months.
- “U.S. companies will generate no earnings growth in 2020,” Goldman Sachs’ chief US equity strategist said in a note to clients on Thursday. “We have updated our earnings model to incorporate the likelihood that the virus becomes widespread.”
- The Wall Street firm’s reduced profit forecasts are based on what it sees as “the severe decline in Chinese economic activity in 1Q, lower-end demand for U.S. exporters, disruption to the supply chain for many U.S. firms, a slowdown in U.S. economic activity and elevated business uncertainty.” President Trump has tied much of his reelection campaign strategy to a continuing strong economy. (NBC News)
- Coronavirus Updates: Italy Reports 650 Cases And 17 Deaths : Goats and Soda (NPR)
- Olympic Officials Dismiss ‘Speculation’ That Coronavirus Could Disrupt Tokyo Games (NPR)
- Piled Bodies, Overflowing Morgues: Inside America’s Autopsy Crisis (NYT, $)
Additional US News
- Walmart will soon test an Amazon Prime competitor called Walmart+ (Vox)
- ‘Without water we can’t grow anything’: can small farms survive California’s landmark water law? (Guardian)
- Michael Bloomberg’s Campaign Sought Andrew Yang’s Backing, Floated Vice- Presidential Slot (WSJ, $)
- ‘Gives Me Hope’: How Low-Paid Workers Rose Up Against Stagnant Wages (NPR)
- Alabama blocked a man from voting because he owed $4 (Guardian)
- ‘The young are our moral compass’: how US teens are getting out the vote (Guardian)
- Why a Top Trump Aide Said ‘We Are Desperate’ for More Immigrants (NYT, $)
- Barr Criticizes Mainstream Media as ‘Monolithic in Viewpoint’ (NYT, $)
- How Will Trump’s Supreme Court Remake America? (NYT, $)
- ‘Please visit Chinatown’: coronavirus fears empty San Francisco district (Guardian)
Principles of Powerful Persuasion
- People whose job it is to persuade other people to do something probably already know about the five principles of powerful persuasion, but who doesn’t want to be as persuasive as possible all the time? Whether presenting a business pitch, selling your home, or encouraging a buddy to want to see the movie you want to see, the way you make your case can make a big difference. Here’s some simple strategies to help you master the art of persuasion.
- Repeat, then surprise. The “repeat-break” plot structure is prevalent in folk tales around the world, for example: The Three Little Pigs. Repeating an idea creates an expectation which, when violated, produces a sense of surprise, making the experience, pitch or argument more memorable.
- Extend your metaphors. Studies have shown the tactical use of extended metaphors hugely increases a message’s persuasive power.
- Embrace errors. Endorsements carry more weight when they describe a previous error of judgment, and demonstrate some kind of earning experience from the error.
- Create a brain teaser. Whatever your particular message, it can pay for your audience to think for themselves. In a work presentation, for example: you might underline one part of your argument by presenting a problem and asking the audience to guess the solution for themselves.
- Add a decoy. If you’re trying to persuade someone to make a decision, it can often help to add a similar, but slightly undesirable option to the mix — a decoy that will make your preferred choice seem even more attractive. (BBC)
- Common toxin made in gut can cause bowel cancer, scientists find (Guardian)
- Where did the weekend go? How work stole our Saturdays and Sundays (Guardian)
- American parenting styles sweep Europe (BBC)
- Being “sober curious” about drinking alcohol was more than a trend for me (Vox)
- Robots aren’t taking our jobs — they’re becoming our bosses (The Verge)
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