India Hops On Board
December 02, 2009
First the United States, then China—and now India is preparing to announce its own climate targets. According to the Guardian, the country will pledge to reduce its carbon intensity (CO2 per unit of GDP) by 24 percent over the next decade.
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.
The Movie Review: Turkey Day Roundup
November 25, 2009
The biggest film of the year opens this week, though you may be forgiven if you haven’t heard about it, as it has committed the unpardonable sin of being in Chinese. John Woo’s historical epic Red Cliff is the most expensive and highest-grossing film ever made in China, and that nation’s most emphatic statement to date that it intends to compete with Hollywood and Bollywood for a share of the global cinema market.
A Must-Read on China and the Deficit
November 25, 2009
Chris Hayes had a great column in The Nation last week about the totemic status of our debt to China: But if domestic Chinese concerns about the country's monetary codependence with the United States explain some of the statements of the country's leaders, they don't explain why the US media and commentators seem so intent on giving the story maximum play. The answer to that, I think, is politics. It's increasingly clear that China has replaced the bond market as the nebulous specter that fiscal hawks will use to justify domestic austerity.
The Case for Deficit Spending
November 25, 2009
If there was one thing that seemed certain about the Obama administration, it was their commitment to Keynesian deficit spending to boost the economy out of its slump. But Keynes beware: With unemployment at a whopping 10.2 percent, and probably rising, the White House has begun trumpeting its commitment to Hoover-style deficit busting. On November 13, the White House warned cabinet departments of a spending freeze. The next week, while in China, Barack Obama told an interviewer the United States could suffer from a “double-dip recession” if it didn’t restrain public debt.
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.
Can the U.S. and India Play Nice on Climate Change?
November 22, 2009
A number of unresolved issues—China, Kashmir, etc.—will be swirling around Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s first state visit this Monday, but on none are the two hesitant allies more at odds than the conditions for a global climate treaty. Much of the news in the lead up to Copenhagen has centered on the possibility of some sort of deal between the two largest emitters, the U.S. and China. India, however, could very well be a more important (and elusive) partner in those talks.
Can't Get A Flu Shot? Don't Blame Obama
November 20, 2009
Conservatives have been quick to blame the administration for the slow delivery of H1N1 vaccine. Not long after Obama declared the swine flu pandemic a national emergency last month--a measure that cleared the way for hospitals to make special preparations for infected patients--Missouri Representative Roy Blunt pounced on the administration’s “onerous regulatory and legal environment” as a cause for the vaccine delays. In the Weekly Standard last week, Bill Kristol held up the swine flu response as an example of the coming “big government health care” boondoggle.
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.
Barack Obama and Foreign Policy by Biography
November 19, 2009
The Washington Post writes today about the limits of Obama's biography in foreign policy. The paper's story notes that Obama talked extensively about his biography and personal experiences in Asia, then asks: But is his biography-as-diplomacy approach beginning to show its limits? Obama does not fly home with any big breakthroughs or any evidence that he has forged stronger personal ties with regional leaders.