January 27, 2011
Each year, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its affiliated organizations hold hundreds of meetings, at which officials from countries across Asia come together to issue bland, verbose communiqués about everything from agriculture management to the handling of spiny dogfish and to listen to interchangeable speeches by government officials. Along with an inevitable level of boredom, the meetings feature exaggerated, affected displays of courtesy that would not have been out of place at the Tudor Court.
Tunisia and the Lessons of the Iranian Revolution
January 16, 2011
What happened in Tunisia over the past few days was reminiscent of scenes from Latin America, East Asia, and Eastern Europe in the 1980s and ’90s: people’s power in action. But it is another historical parallel—to Iran in 1979—that has something to teach the West as it figures out how to respond. The toppling of Tunisia’s longtime dictator, Ben Ali, recalled the last days of the Shah, when riots against poor living conditions and calls for human rights quickly turned into demands for getting rid of a dictator.
Will Academic Freedom Be Protected at Yale's New College in Singapore?
December 30, 2010
The current issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine includes an unusual column by its editor bemoaning the lack of debate—or even interest—regarding Yale’s September announcement that it was in serious discussion with the National University of Singapore about creating a liberal arts college, based on the American model, to be called Yale-NUS. The media, the blogosphere, the alumni, even the faculty: All are quiet, the editor writes.
Three Cheers for Obama and the Dems
December 23, 2010
After last November’s election, one might have expected the Obama White House and Democratic Congress to take six weeks off to mull their defeat. Instead, they used the lame duck session in December to win cloture-proof majorities for some very significant bills. Just today, the Senate ratified the new START arms control treaty by a whopping 71 to 26 vote. On December 18, the Senate voted by 65 to 31 to strike down the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy against gays serving openly in the armed forces. Today’s ratification of the New Start treaty reduces U.S.
Back to Normalcy
December 21, 2010
Where on earth is the United States headed? Has it lost its way? Is the Obama effect, which initially promised to halt the souring of its global image, over? More seriously, is it in some sort of terminal decline? Has it joined the long historical list of number one powers that rose to the top, and then, as Rudyard Kipling outlined it, just slowly fell downhill: “Lo, all our pomp of yesterday / At one with Nineveh and Tyre”? Has it met its match in Afghanistan?
Richard Holbrooke in Asia
December 20, 2010
While sitting in Istanbul‘s Attaturk International Airport waiting for a flight, I was stunned to hear a BBC announcer report that my colleague and friend U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke had just died. I knew that he had been rushed to George Washington University Hospital with a torn aorta. But, despite the seriousness of his condition, it was still unimaginable that he would not recover. After all, had “Holbrooke,” as his friends and colleagues always referred to him, not always prevailed?
Think Metro for the Road to Recovery
December 10, 2010
If, as Harvard’s Michael Porter contends (and we concur), there is no U.S.
December 08, 2010
Of all the historical analogies urged on Obama following November’s drubbing—Truman in ’48, Reagan after ’82, Clinton after ’94—the one the White House has opted for is easily the most obscure. That would be Patrick in ’10—as in Deval Patrick, the recently re-elected governor of Massachusetts. Months after Patrick signed the state’s first sales-tax hike in 33 years, political chatterers gave him little chance of surviving to a second term.
American Allies Drop Out Drip by Drip
December 07, 2010
I couldn't believe my eyes as I read Alan Cowell's New York Times report this morning that (as of now) 19 countries would not attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo for the imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
Cambodia’s Democratic Warrior
December 02, 2010
On a Saturday morning in July, Cambodian opposition politician Mu Sochua traveled to the dusty, sun-baked suburbs of Phnom Penh for a rally. Close to 100 Cambodians—most of them poor women sitting on plastic chairs squeezed into the ground-floor room of a supporter’s house—stood and applauded when she arrived. Wearing a traditional sarong, with her silver-streaked brown hair tied back, the American-educated parliamentarian took a microphone and began to speak. “People are in the mood for change.