January 30, 2010
When President Obama launched a massive humanitarian-aid response to Haiti's earthquake last month, not everyone took his magnanimity at face value. Hugo Chavez, for example, accused him of "occupying Haiti undercover" and then upped the ante by saying the earthquake had been caused by an American "tectonic weapon." A minister from France, Haiti's former colonial ruler, complained that the U.S.
China Fact Of The Day
January 20, 2010
How dirty are China's cities? Here's one way of looking at it: Even in China’s most polluting city, Daqing, per household [carbon-dioxide] emissions are just one-fifth of those in San Diego, the greenest city in the US. Of course, there's more to bad air than just carbon-dioxide. China easily beats us on the more immediately noticeable pollutants like sulfur dioxide or particulates, as any smoggy photo of Beijing will show. But I was surprised to hear that San Diego is America's "greenest" city.
The Foreign Policy Awards
December 29, 2009
BIGGEST TACTICAL BLUNDER: Pushing the Israeli-Arab peace process too hard. Obama took office looking for bold strokes at a time when peace seemed as far away as ever: Israel had just finished its punishing military campaign in Gaza last winter, and the Arab world was inflamed, and deeply uninterested in making offerings to Israel. Obama's squeeze on Israeli settlements, meanwhile, managed to a) tick off a backlash in Israel that enabled the Netanyahu government to stand its ground, without b) shaking loose meaningful Arab support.
Demonstrations Are Forbidden In Iran. But The Grand Ayatollah Montazeri Took Care Of That By Dying.
December 23, 2009
I believe that the Iranian regime is trembling, trembling from fear of its own people. Not all of its people, of course. But those whose minds are on the future rather than those whose souls are in the past. That is a history-making majority whether the Basiji beat the crap out of demonstrators or not. Look at this dignified demonstration, a manifestation of courage and of hope. Maybe it has somehow eluded me.
Is The U.S.-China Dispute Overblown?
December 15, 2009
The United States and China appear to be at an impasse in climate discussions. At least, that's what The New York Times suggested today, reporting that the two countries are bickering over how, exactly, to monitor and verify China's new goal of reducing "carbon intensity" 40 percent by 2020. The United States wants some sort of international scrutiny—indeed, two weeks ago, a group of nine Senate Democrats wrote a letter to Obama saying they won't support a climate bill without it. China, meanwhile, insists it can monitor itself. So how big a deal is this dispute?
So much news, so little time. A few interesting enviro links from around the Web today: * Not sick of Climategate yet? Five AP science reporters sat down to comb through all 1,073 of the leaked East Anglia e-mails.
5 Things You Don’t Know About North Korean Soccer
December 08, 2009
The World Cup is only six months away, and adding to the list of South Africa’s many hosting challenges is accommodating one of the world’s most peculiar teams: North Korea, who will be competing for the first time since 1966. When the team merely qualified in June of this year, they were greeted back home as heroes, with hoards of fans welcoming them at the airport with pink and red pom-poms while showering them with flags and leis. Last week, the team found out their first opponent will be international powerhouse Brazil.
Dissecting China's "New" Carbon Goal
November 30, 2009
It usually takes some effort to unpack China's various climate pledges, and this latest one is no exception. Last week, Beijing declared that the country would aim to reduce its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020. This doesn't mean China's overall emissions will drop, it just means that CO2 emissions per unit of GDP will decline. Because China's economy is growing at such a torrid pace, overall emissions will keep ticking upward—it's just that the rate of growth will slow.
Losing the Democracies: Obama's Heart is With the Hooligans
November 24, 2009
At least, that's what many of our old and deeply democratic friends seem to feel. Now, it's hard to accept that the president of the United States would actually make that choice. He probably feels--but how do I really know? I actually don't--that the hooligans and especially the hooligans who produce our oil and the hooligans who buy our products are the folk we need court more than our historic allies. After all, what else can they do but stick with us? Tough darts! Obama's initiatives up to now--with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, China--have been failures.
A Post-China Trip Surprise?
November 19, 2009
Interesting point about the China trip from expert Minxin Pie, via Mike Allen: What was accomplished: There may be a silver lining. Because the press coverage of his trip is quite bad, it may have caused some heartburn in Beijing. At the end of the day, Chinese leaders know that a good relationship with Obama (and a weakened Obama cannot manage U.S.-China ties effectively) will be in China's interest. So there is a chance that China will do something after the trip is over to show that Obama's visit is not fruitless after all. Sounds plausible.