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.
Way Too Big To Fail
November 07, 2010
There were many factors that led us to the financial crisis of 2008—dangerous derivatives, irresponsible ratings agencies, negligent regulators—but one was more important than the rest. We now know it as the “too big to fail” problem. What brought the economy to the edge of disaster wasn’t only that financial institutions had made rash bets on lousy investments, but that those institutions were so massive that when their bets went bad, they threatened to take the rest of the economy down with them.
Abused by Hope
October 19, 2010
Famine and Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid By Peter Gill (Oxford University Press, 280 pp., $27.95) In the fall of 1994, James P. Grant, the executive director of UNICEF, sent a message in the name of his agency to the upcoming Cairo conference on population and development, in which he declared that the world had within its grasp the means to solve “the problems of poverty, population, and environmental degradation that feed off of one another in a downward spiral [bringing] instability and strife in its wake.” Grant was a great man, a giant of the development world.
Why Are Chinese Millionaires So Stingy?
September 29, 2010
On Wednesday, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett hosted a dinner for China’s billionaires. The pair, fresh off successful efforts to persuade Americans to leave their fortunes to charity, hoped to start a wave of philanthropy in China, which now has the second largest number of billionaires. Gates and Buffett described the event as “a private gathering to discuss philanthropy development.” Xinhua, Beijing’s official news agency, earlier this month reported that only two of the approximately 50 invitees had accepted.
Should We Start a Solar Panel Trade War with China?
September 09, 2010
These days I do believe we're supposed to hail China as our clean-energy overlords. The country now produces half the world's wind turbines and half its solar panels. How did the Chinese do it? Partly through aggressive renewable-energy laws and various incentives for budding tech industries. And that's to be expected—as long as fossil-fuel externalities go unpriced, renewables are always going to need a little boost. But, according to Keith Bradsher of The New York Times, there's another side to this story.
Obama vs. the Republicans (With Full Speech Text)
September 08, 2010
I think it's safe to say that President Obama has given up on bipartisanship, at least for the foreseeable future. The White House just released prepared text of his economic speech to the City Club of Cleveland. A few weeks ago, House Minority Leader John Boehner gave a speech there, outlining his economic agenda (or, at least, what he claimed to be an economic agenda).