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.
Don’t Be Evil
April 21, 2010
In 1981, Andrei Sakharov wrote an essay titled “The Responsibility of Scientists.” His argument was that scientists, who “form the one real worldwide community which exists today,” had a special obligation to speak out in defense of human rights. In part, his essay was directed to fellow Soviet scientists, whom he implored to take risks on behalf of principle—to “muster sufficient courage and integrity to resist the temptation and the habit of conformity.” Yet Sakharov did not let his colleagues in the free world off the hook.
Sometimes a journalist grasps an intricate situation and explains it in just one simple sentence. Here is what the distinguished Timesman John Vinocur has to say in today’s International Herald Tribune about Obama’s policy of sanctions: The United States’ notions of U.N. sanctions on Iran have devolved over the past months from crippling ones to ones that bite to the currently described smart ones, which, although packaged with the words tough and strong might not be hard-nosed enough to give the mullahs a half-hour’s lost sleep. Now what? As it happens, more of the same. David E.
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.
Too Much Trash? Try Giant Deodorant Guns
March 29, 2010
Can't imagine anything going wrong with this plan: Beijing is to install 100 deodorant guns at a stinking landfill site on the edge of the city in a bid to dampen complaints about the capital's rubbish crisis. ... Beijing's waste problem—and China's—is expanding as fast as its economy, at about 8% each year. With millions more people now able to afford Starbucks, McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other elements of a western, throwaway lifestyle, the landfill sites and illegal tips that ring the capital are close to overflowing. Granted, deodorant guns aren't the only option out there.
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.
March 17, 2010
For decades, various Chinese officials and outsiders have reassured the world that the country’s Communist Party leadership eventually planned to open up its one-party political system. The regime would undertake major political reforms and liberalization, it was said, to accompany the economic reforms launched by Deng Xiaoping in the late ’70s. It was merely a question of choosing the right time. Writing in Foreign Affairs two years ago, John L.
I’ve written myself about the Obama administration’s more-than-flatfooted policies on Syria (here, here, and here) and Iran (here, here, and here). So I am particularly gratified when I find myself in alignment with Barry Rubin, a truly brainy scholar with a slight polemical touch. His latest analysis is below. Syria is a galling instance of the president’s obsessions ... and for several reasons. A weak country, both economically and militarily, its only possible political sway is to exacerbate the hatreds of its neighbors towards Israel.
Why China Shunned The Hummer
February 25, 2010
Why did the Chinese government step in to prevent a local company from buying the Hummer brand from GM? One theory is that Beijing just didn't want to be associated with the Hummer's markedly un-green image: “Hummer is a fuel-gobbling vehicle,” said Liu Feng, a Beijing-based auto analyst with Southwest Securities.
February 17, 2010
Let’s face it. America’s foreign policy is hardly healthier than its economy. Of course, jobs and taxes still dominate the politics of the day. Republicans will likely be running election campaigns on those matters. But, as foreign policy comes into focus more and more, Democrats may seek refuge from Barack Obama’s grand strategy and its consequences--or lack thereof. For, right now, Obama’s frustrated foreign policy is little more than aimlessness. His biggest decision to date has been Afghanistan.