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?
Reading Strauss in Beijing
December 17, 2010
A few years ago, when I was still teaching at the University of Chicago, I had my first Chinese graduate students, a couple of earnest Beijingers who had come to the Committee on Social Thought hoping to bump into the ghost of Leo Strauss, the German-Jewish political philosopher who established his career at the university. Given the mute deference they were accustomed to giving their professors, it was hard to make out just what these young men were looking for, in Chicago or Strauss. They attended courses and worked diligently, but otherwise kept to themselves.
Wikileaks and the Cyberwars to Come
December 14, 2010
The childish panic that has swept the policy establishment over the past few weeks over the Wikileaks revelations themselves will soon subside.
China Attacks the Nobel Peace Prize: “They’re Clowns”
December 09, 2010
On Tuesday, just days before the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Beijing embarrassed itself in front of an international audience. “I would like to say to those at the Nobel Committee, they are orchestrating an anti-China farce by themselves,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu. “We are not changing because of interference by a few clowns and we will not change our path.” “Clowns”? Why would Chinese diplomats, once praised for deftness and charm, revert to the language of the Cultural Revolution? In October, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its prize to Liu Xiaobo. Mr.
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.
December 07, 2010
When faced with a particularly scary, nettlesome problem, there’s a natural tendency in Washington to accentuate the positive and play for time even when the clock has pretty much run out. This is certainly so with Iran’s nuclear program. In this case, U.S. officials have prepared for talks with Iran, China, Russia, and our key European allies by highlighting Iran’s nuclear difficulties.
December 02, 2010
As the North Korea crisis spirals into its second week, and seemingly out of control, many American policymakers and pundits agree on one thing: China needs to do something about Pyongyang. “China is not behaving as a responsible world power,” Senator John McCain told CNN. “They could bring the North Korean economy to their knees if they wanted to.” State Department spokesman P.J.
The Irony of Wikileaks
December 01, 2010
There’s no question that many of the Wikileaks documents are a great read. These diplomatic conversations between American officials and leaders from the Arab world, China, and Europe provide important insights about the subtleties of U.S. policy and the complexities of dealing with different personalities and governments around the world. But the disclosures are not just interesting; they are also ironic. That’s because they undermine the very worldview that Julian Assange and his colleagues at Wikileaks almost certainly support.
A Defense of Wikileaks
December 01, 2010
The Obama administration has condemned Wikileaks for its second release within a year of classified foreign policy documents. And some liberal commentators have backed up the administration’s complaints. And I am not going to argue that the administration doesn’t have a case. Governments rely on candid assessments from their diplomats; and if Americans in overseas embassies have to assume that they are writing for the general public and not for their superiors back home, they are not likely to be very candid. But there is also something to be said in defense of Wikileaks.
How Barack Obama Became a China Hawk
November 10, 2010
As seen from Beijing, President Obama no doubt appears to be embarked on a “2010 Containment Tour” of Asia. While he is making stops in India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan, China is conspicuously absent from the president’s itinerary. The reason is obvious: When it took office in January 2009, the Obama administration declared its intention to broaden and deepen all aspects of America’s longstanding policy of “engagement” with China.