Why Is Campbell Soup Interested In Cap-And-Trade?
January 02, 2010

There are so many different companies trying to influence the shape of climate policy in Washington that it's hard to get a sense for the sheer scale involved. According to the Center for Public Integrity's latest tally, there are now 1,160 businesses and groups wrangling over the issue—and they've hired a whopping 2,780 climate lobbyists. An even better sign of the frenzy is the fact that companies you'd never expect to care about the arcane details of cap-and-trade are now taking a keen interest.

The End of Hunger?
January 02, 2010

Famine: A Short History By Cormac Ó Gráda (Princeton University Press, 327 pp., $27.95) The earliest recorded famines, according to Cormac Ó Gráda in his brief but masterful book, are mentioned on Egyptian stelae from the third millennium B.C.E. In that time--and to an extent, even today, above the Aswan dam in Sudan--farmers along the Nile were dependent on the river flooding to irrigate their fields. But one flood out of five, Ó Gráda tells us, was either too high or too low. The result was often starvation.

The Desperation Of American Universities In Araby
December 30, 2009

I last wrote in this space about American universities in the Arab oil orbit on April 23, 2008. That Spine was called “The New Colonialism, Education Division,” and it focused on the exploits of New York University in Abu Dhabi. Now, in matters like these, N.Y.U. is really in the business of whoring. This is made clear in an intriguing article by Tamar Lewin in the New York Times.  The report actually headlines: “University Branches in Dubai Are Struggling.” But it also covers Abu Dhabi, sort of harking back to its slightly breathless dispatch of nearly two years ago. N.Y.U.

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.

Did Obama Really Sidestep The U.N. At Copenhagen?
December 21, 2009

Analysts are still mulling over the Copenhagen accord, trying to figure out what it means for the fate of global climate politics. The humdrum answer is that it all depends—we'll have to see how individual nations tackle their CO2 emissions in the months and years ahead, and then watch how the next round of international talks shake out. But if it's specifics you want, check out Harvard economist Robert Stavin's analysis. First, a recap of the negotiations that led to the deal: From all reports, the talks were completely deadlocked when U.S.

The Rise of Republican Nihilism
December 21, 2009

Does the Republican Party have any ideas? The query may have a familiar ring. Five years ago, the question of substance was demanded incessantly of the Democrats. Indeed, in one of those intellectual fads that periodically sweep through Washington, the political class became obsessed with the notion that conservatives had unambiguously won what everybody was calling “the war of ideas.”  The notion was everywhere. The right gloated.

A Deal At Copenhagen After All? Er, Sort Of.
December 18, 2009

It looks like, at the very last minute, the heads of state at Copenhagen pulled a rabbit out of the ol' cap and struck a deal—but it's a mangy-looking rabbit at that. Here's the Wall Street Journal: The White House said Friday that U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South African President Jacob Zuma reached a "meaningful agreement" for combating climate change.

Obama's Copenhagen Speech Falls Flat--But Does That Really Matter?
December 18, 2009

Earlier this morning, President Obama gave his long-awaited speech at the Copenhagen summit, and… it was largely panned as a dud. No thrilling specifics, no new concessions or announcements, just a by-the-numbers reiteration of the U.S. position (we'll cut emissions roughly 17 percent by 2020 and, as Hillary Clinton declared yesterday, contribute to a $100-billion-per-year international climate fund for developing countries). He certainly didn't sound like a climate deal was imminent. But how much does that really matter?

Today at TNR (December 16, 2009)
December 16, 2009

America the Unexceptional: Why Neo-Con Praise for Obama Is Misguided, by Damon Linker What To Get a Black Person For Christmas, by John McWhorter Now is the Perfect Time for Obama to Honor His Campaign Promise: Abolish the Penny! by Benjamin Birnbaum Assume Your Enemies Have Good Intentions--Unless All the Evidence Points in the Other Direction, by Jonathan Cohn Why Everyone Should Listen to Paul Volcker, by Simon Johnson Good Economic News for … Carmakers, Teachers, and Californians? Yup. Here’s Why.

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?