March 17, 2010
For decades, various Chinese officials and outsiders have reassured the world that the country’s Communist Party leadership eventually planned to open up its one-party political system. The regime would undertake major political reforms and liberalization, it was said, to accompany the economic reforms launched by Deng Xiaoping in the late ’70s. It was merely a question of choosing the right time. Writing in Foreign Affairs two years ago, John L.
The Accountable Presidency
February 01, 2010
Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush By John Yoo (Kaplan, 544 pp., $29.95) Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State By Garry Wills (Penguin, 288 pp., $27.95) I. In December 2008, Chris Wallace asked Vice President Cheney, “If the president, during war, decides to do something to protect the country, is it legal?” Cheney’s answer included a reference to a military authority that President Bush did not exercise.
The Full Text of Obama's Speech
January 27, 2010
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery The State of the Union Wednesday, January 27, 2009 Washington, DC Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans: Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. For two hundred and twenty years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggl
Is $500 Billion In Foreign Aid Possible? (Maybe...)
December 14, 2009
This week, National Journal is hosting a useful series of Copenhagen-related roundtable debates that are worth checking out. In this one, Rep. Ed Markey asks how wealthier countries should help poorer ones tackle global warming. It's a timely question, since this is perhaps the biggest quagmire in the climate talks right now. A recent U.N. report estimated that developing countries would need $500 billion to $600 billion per year to get on a path of low-carbon growth, as well as to adapt to a hotter world.
Obama's Tough Love
December 11, 2009
The bailout of the auto industry was “throwing bad money after a bad cause,” television talk show host Larry Kudlow warned in National Review. Kudlow’s opinion was shared by conservative economists and politicians. And Tea Party types continue to cite the auto bailout as an example of the Obama administration’s unwarranted largesse toward big business and big labor. But if you compare how the Obama administration handled General Motors and Chrysler with how European leaders dealt with a similar crisis in their industry, Obama’s approach looks tougher and more realistic. That’s at least the ve
Barack Obama's Wisdom About Islam: Good Multicultural News
December 07, 2009
In my last Spine, I had the temerity to question the president's knowledge of the Arabs and the world of Islam. In fact, I had the temerity to question his knowledge vis-à-vis my own. Why don't you be the judge of our wisdoms! I have to admit that his is quite cheery and assuring. Mine is rather grim. The contrast between us about the Muslim orbit couldn't be sharper. Obama's view of this is almost Panglossian, which is heroic because he is a dumping ground for almost all of the world's bad news. The litany I mustered of this bad news was, after all, culled from only a very few days.
Three Ways The Copenhagen Talks Could Succeed (Or Go Bust)
December 03, 2009
Given that there's virtually no chance a finished climate treaty will come out of the upcoming talks in Copenhagen, one might be forgiven for asking what, exactly, the world's diplomats are actually going to do these next two weeks in Denmark. Already, further talks are scheduled for next year—including yet another big climate summit in Mexico City in 2010.
Sorry, but I Hear Echoes of Vietnam
December 01, 2009
I don’t oppose what Barack Obama plans to do in Afghanistan. I don’t know enough, and from what I know, I don’t have an alternative to propose. I would have preferred he find a way to achieve American objectives without escalating the war, but I agree with his objective of denying al Qaeda a home in Afghanistan through a Taliban victory, and I hope that his strategy will achieve it.
November 20, 2009
Today the European Union finds itself with two new top leaders--Herman Van Rompuy, the EU’s first president, and Catherine Ashton, the new high representative of foreign policy. If the names are unfamiliar, you’re not alone.
Obama in Seoul: My Problem with Foreign News
November 19, 2009
I used to be the foreign editor of In These Times in Chicago. I didn’t particularly enjoy the job, because I have never been fascinated with the world outside of the United States. I am not sure whether I could find Honduras or Liberia on a map, and I have never mastered the current spelling of Chinese names.