Photos: Bloomberg, Getty; photo illustration: Tom Hall/Bloomberg

Balance of Power: Trump the Unifier

From the Rio Grande to Cape Horn, nothing unites Latin America like the threat of U.S. military intervention.

Washington’s past support for dictatorships in Argentina, Brazil and Chile in the 1960s and 1970s ushered in one of the darkest periods of the continent’s recent history. Now President Donald Trump's talk of a “possible military option” for Venezuela has gifted President Nicolas Maduro the opportunity to pose as the continent’s pre-eminent anti-imperialist.

“Trump out of Latin America,” read the banner carried by Maduro during a recent appearance on state TV.

Even America’s strongest ally in the region is unhappy. Standing alongside Mike Pence on Sunday at the start of his visit to the region, Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos said the U.S. should never consider military action in Venezuela or anywhere else in Latin America.

It doesn’t matter that Trump’s threat baffled observers at home and abroad and was quietly walked back by the Pentagon. What matters for Venezuela and its suffering people is that Trump has now made it harder for America's allies to isolate Maduro.

And he has strengthened the position of a leader who looks more and more like a dictator.

Maduro speaks during a rally in Caracas on Aug. 14.
Photographer: Carlos Becerra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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Global Headlines

‘In Trump we trust’ | Trump finally condemned racism as “evil,” but the Charlottesville fallout has now spread to corporate America. The CEOs of Under Armour, Intel and Merck quit his manufacturing council, with the latter drawing a rebuke from the president. Jeff Green looks at whether America’s first CEO president is about to lose the support of the titans of industry.

South Korea warns Trump | President Moon Jae-in rebuffed Trump’s threat to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea, saying any military action against Pyongyang should be decided by “ourselves and not by anyone else.” Vowing to prevent war at all costs, Moon urged a focus on diplomacy. As tensions ease for now, Kim Jong Un also indicated he will wait “a little” on his threat to launch missiles near Guam.

China’s plan for world AI domination | Beijing is betting big on artificial intelligence as officials envision it remaking sectors of the economy and promoting national security. As Mark Bergen and David Ramli report, China has three advantages in this new global arms race: a vast pool of engineers, 751 million internet users, and a supportive government willing to hand over reams of citizens’ data.

CB Insights

China countdown | The congress that will set the stage for President Xi Jinping to put his stamp on China into the next decade is around the corner. In this QuickTake, Bloomberg’s reporters look at the event that could cement Xi's position as the strongest leader since Mao Zedong. “The way it chooses its leadership is almost a complete black box,” said Jude Blanchette, engagement director at the Conference Board’s China Center.

Refugee tension | German Chancellor Angela Merkel has a strong lead before next month’s general election, but she isn’t home and dry. On the campaign trail late Monday, she was jeered by supporters of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party. Patrick Donahue reports it was a reminder of the lingering tensions over the refugee crisis that rocked Germany in 2005. Meanwhile, the AfD rose to third place in a poll today.

Gates giveaway | The billionaire Microsoft founder donated shares worth $4.6 billion, or 5 percent of his fortune, according to a filing released Monday. While the recipient wasn’t specified, Gates has made most of his donations to the charity he and his wife use to direct their philanthropic efforts. As Tom Metcalf writes, it may have been his largest gift since the turn of the century, but Gates remains Earth’s richest person, with $86.1 billion.

And finally... Trump returned to his midtown Manhattan apartment last night for the first time since taking office. Thousands of demonstrators angered over his initial response to the events in Charlottesville waited to face him when he arrived. The native New Yorker loves the city. But, in a place where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than six to one, protesters made clear the feeling isn’t reciprocated, shouting “shame!”, “not my president!” and “New York hates you!”

Trump arrives at Trump Tower on Aug. 14.
Photographer: PETER FOLEY/EPA
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