Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down what you need to know about the big stories from around the globe.
Thanks for joining me, and thanks to my brilliant colleague Shane for filling in admirably over the last two weeks. It's good to be back! Please tell your friends and colleagues to sign up here, and I'd love your tips and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Venezuelan troops attend an event last year. Photo: Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images
The White House National Security Council drafted a step-by-step “program of escalation” for Venezuela after President Trump took office, including the grounds for military intervention, a former senior official said today.
Why it matters: Fernando Cutz, who served as a close adviser to former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and the top National Security Council official on South America, offered a rare insider account of how the administration has prepared to respond to the massive political and humanitarian crisis. He said at a Wilson Center event in Washington that specific responses were drawn up to anticipated events on the ground.
The backdrop: The New York Times reported earlier this month that the White House held a series of meetings over the last year with “rebellious military officers from Venezuela” who were hoping to depose President Nicolas Maduro. Trump himself said a year ago that there was a “military option” in Venezuela. Such rumblings provoke anxiety in a region with well-grounded suspicions of U.S. intervention.
However, Cutz, who also served in the Obama administration and left the White House in April, made the case that a multilateral military intervention could ultimately be the right move.
His argument ...
Where things stand: I asked Cutz whether the White House had discussed the possibility of an intervention with countries or international organizations that could be called upon to support it. He said he doesn't believe it has been discussed through diplomatic channels, but “the president would certainly muse on things” with other world leaders.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios
President Trump is in New York, where he'll hold a series of meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Don't expect him to do much prep beforehand.
Here's Cutz on briefing presidents Obama and Trump before calls and meetings with leaders from Latin America:
Does that result in him saying things his team would rather he didn't? “All the time.” Cutz described Trump as "the most transparent president in history," though, because he says the same exact things in the room with leaders as he says in public.
Abbas at the UN in February. Photo: Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will hold a meeting in New York on Wednesday with senior officials representing 40 countries and international organizations to discuss ways to block or influence the upcoming U.S. Middle East peace plan, Israeli officials and Western diplomats tell Axios contributor Barak Ravid.
Why it matters: This is Abbas' most proactive diplomatic step since Trump's Jerusalem embassy announcement, which led him to cut ties with the White House. Abbas is trying to rally the international community against Trump and challenge the White House claims that he's undermining a potential peace process.
Israel doesn't like this meeting at all and has ordered diplomats around the world to lobby governments who were invited to the meeting not to attend or to lower their level of representation as much as possible, according to Israeli officials. The Palestinians think most countries will send senior diplomats but not foreign ministers to the meeting.
It has been a decade since the global financial crisis kicked off, and people around the world are understandably far more bullish about the state of the economy than they were in the aftermath of the crash, according to a report from Pew.
However, many in advanced countries doubt the good times will last for the next generation.
A woman leaves a Catholic church in Wuhan. Photo: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images
The Vatican has reached a deal with China, recognizing seven government-appointed bishops in exchange for "the first formal acknowledgment by Beijing of the pope’s authority in Catholic churches in China," as the NYT's Ian Johnson writes.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched a new program to provide 100 million poor families with 500,000 rupees (about $6,920) per year for serious health treatments, Axios' Zach Basu writes:
The president of the Maldives has conceded defeat — a shocking election result in a country that had been sliding toward authoritarianism.
Macron arrives for a meeting in Brussels. Photo: Aris Oikonomou/AFP/Getty Images
French President Emmanuel Macron is a big draw on the world stage. He has managed to forge close ties with President Trump (they're meeting this evening) while simultaneously representing a charismatic alternative to Trump's U.S. vs. them vision of the world.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has conceded it was a mistake to remove the country's intelligence chief over controversial remarks about far-right violence only to reward him with a higher paid job. That appointment has been reversed.
"A series of hardline measures that will see the Italian government abolish key forms of protection for migrants and make it easier for them to be deported has been approved," per The Guardian. It's the latest anti-migrant step from the populist government.
One week after a Russian plane was accidentally shot down by Syrian missiles launched at Israeli fighter jets, killing 15 Russians, Moscow announced it will supply the Syrian army with sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missiles, per Axios contributor Barak Ravid.
Why it matters ...
Go deeper: Read Barak's full report.
A scene from Oktoberfest in Munich. Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand
"There is no such program for a meeting."— Iranian president Rouhani to NBC News on whether he'd be willing to meet with Trump this week