The Case for Economic Doom and Gloom
May 11, 2010
The American economy added 290,000 jobs in April, the biggest monthly increase in four years. Clearly, a recovery has taken hold. But how strong and buoyant will it be? Will we eventually get back to growth rates above 4 percent and to an unemployment rate of less than 5 percent? Or will this recovery sputter like the last one that began in 2002? The strongest case for gloom that I’ve read has been made by UCLA economic historian Robert Brenner in a new introduction that he wrote to the Spanish edition of his 2006 book, The Economics of Global Turbulence.
Forget About “The New Middle East.” Israel Belongs To The First World, And Its Neighbors To The Third.
May 11, 2010
Everybody actually knows that. “The new Middle East” is a psychedelic fantasy of the perennially intoxicated peace processors. The dream will go on forever. And maybe it will be punctuated positively a tiny bit by practical arrangements on the ground.
April 29, 2010
These are obviously dark days for the Roman Catholic Church. For over a decade, the U.S. church has been assailed by abuse charges and devastated by the resulting litigation. The Vatican used to console itself with the belief that this was a peculiarly American crisis, but, this year, similar abuse cases have arisen all over Europe—most agonizingly in Ireland, one of the world's most faithfully Catholic countries. Across the continent, bishops are facing demands to resign, while critics are urging Pope Benedict himself to consider standing down.
April 28, 2010
For most of the 2.5 million years that humans and their predecessors have been around, the Earth has been a volatile place. Subtle shifts in the planet’s orbit have triggered large temperature swings; glaciers have marched across North America and Europe and then retreated. But, about 10,000 years ago, something unusual happened: The Earth’s climate settled into a relatively stable state, global temperatures started hovering within a narrow band, and sea levels stopped rising and falling so drastically.
Frankly, I do not think that Barack Obama ever really believed that an accommodation with Iran over its nuclear designs was possible. What follows is that he prevaricated about this promising turn in diplomacy and that one, all the while knowing he was going straight down a dead-end street. And going down that street in a quite cavalier fashion so as to keep his critics at bay. Some Americans were even persuaded by the seemingly confident president that he must have something up his sleeve.
April 21, 2010
The words most often used by the heads of oil companies to describe the boom are “revolution” and “game changer.” Industry historian Daniel Yergin calls it “the shale gale.” Admittedly, serious questions remain as to whether shale gas will pass the ecological test—critics say it can’t be extracted safely in proximity to groundwater, and the EPA is engaged in a two-year study of extraction techniques.
What Are Nukes Good For?
April 07, 2010
The nuclear order seems to be falling apart. Gone is the uneasy balance between the cold war superpowers. We now face a slew of new nuclear actors. North Korea has reprocessed enough plutonium for perhaps ten bombs, in addition to the two it has already tested. Iran’s centrifuge program seems poised to produce weapons-grade uranium. And Syria was apparently constructing a clandestine nuclear facility, before it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes in 2007. It’s not just enemies that pose a problem.
Recently I reviewed why Amazon’s best-selling Kindle e-reader is actually an emblem of American decline. My point was that because neither Amazon nor another American company could manufacture the device, future related product development and production has potentially shifted abroad.
Liberalism and the American Exception
March 25, 2010
Blogging at World Affairs, David Rieff has written several recent posts in which he explores, and severely criticizes, the idea of American exceptionalism and its influence on the conduct of American foreign policy. Along the way he also has some flattering things to say about my own examination of the idea in several posts over the past nine months. But he also voices some concerns about my position. As he writes, Linker is only willing to call for [the] modification [of exceptionalist thinking], not its abandonment.
Surprise: "Indonesia Considers Removing Obama Park Statue"
March 23, 2010
This didn't make news in America. But it certainly made news elsewhere, and especially in Asia.