Tokyo’s Katsumi

Japan’s most volatile politician is making a splash in the South China Sea — and the Chinese are beating the drums of war. MARK MACKINNON "I do what I do because I want to," Shintaro Ishihara wrote in his 1956 novel The Punishment Room. "Do what you please, and sooner or later you’ll find out … Continue reading

The New Great Game

Alexander Cooley In the last decade, the world has started taking more notice of Central Asia. For the United States and its allies, the region is a valuable supply hub for the Afghanistan war effort. For Russia, it is an arena in which to exert political influence. For China, it is a source of energy … Continue reading

Sinhalese Buddhism

William McGowan In Sri Lanka last September, a Sinhalese mob led by some 100 Buddhist monks demolished a Muslim shrine in the ancient city of Anuradhapura. As the crowd waved Buddhist colors, gold and red, a monk set a green Muslim flag on fire. The monks claimed that the shrine was on land that had … Continue reading

Grass’s Poem

Jeffrey Goldberg “What Must Be Said” is interesting for what it says about the mind of Guenter Grass, but it is more interesting for what it says about the manner in which some intellectuals think about Israel and Iran. By extracting the self-pity, self-aggrandizement and guilt-expiation from “What Must Be Said” and leaving only the … Continue reading

The myth of Chinese exceptionalism

Yuan-kang Wang All nations tend to see their history as exceptional, and these beliefs usually continue a heavy dose of fiction. Here are the top three myths of contemporary Chinese exceptionalism. Myth #1: China did not expand when it was strong. Myth 2: The Seven Voyages of Zheng He demonstrates the peaceful nature of Chinese … Continue reading

Christian Jihad

Patrick Allitt Is it true that the Bible teaches peace and the Koran war? Only if you approach the books selectively, taking the gentlest of Jesus’ teachings and setting them against the harshest of Muhammad’s. Philip Jenkins’s challenging new book Laying Down the Sword shows that the Bible contains incitements not just to violence but … Continue reading

Intellectuals and Politics

GARY GUTTING The rise of Newt Gingrich, Ph.D.— along with the apparent anti-intellectualism of many of the other Republican candidates — has once again raised the question of the role of intellectuals in American politics. In writing about intellectuals, my temptation is to begin by echoing Marianne Moore on poetry: I, too, dislike them.  But … Continue reading

The domino effect

Abkhazia wants independence. Could an ancient game help? Oliver Bullough Every one of the 277 players who visited Abkhazia for the three-day domino world championships in October was a criminal. By crossing the border from Russia, they were immediately liable to at least two years in a Georgian prison. Abkhazia’s quarter of a million people … Continue reading

The Generals Have No Clothes

Islamabad’s generals have been sponsoring the deaths of Americans for years, and yet Obama does nothing. Why? KAPIL KOMIREDDI Pakistan is indignant about the killing of 25 of its troops in a NATO air raid on Saturday. The circumstances that led to the assault are still unknown, but Washington and Europe have expressed contrition and … Continue reading

Knowing Too Much?

Libyans may be celebrating the killing of Muammar al-Qaddafi, but you’d better believe that Western governments are breathing a sigh of relief themselves. DAVID RIEFF Whether the NATO countries — who had only a few years ago welcomed Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi back into the international fold in exchange for his renouncing his chemical and nuclear … Continue reading

Pyongyang Rock City

Meet the hitmakers of the Hermit Kingdom. ISAAC STONE FISH PYONGYANG, North Korea — On the sculpted entrance to the East Pyongyang Grand Theater, a woman, graceful as a mermaid, played the flute as she floated through a sea of stars. Out in the parking lot, locals played tennis in the September sun on a … Continue reading

R.O.C.K. in the D.P.R.K.

What can we learn about the Hermit Kingdom from the amazing music videos it has on YouTube? SUZANNE MERKELSON Pop quiz: name one North Korean song. Fair enough, it’s not the easiest country to get to know. And vice versa. Between the country’s self-imposed isolation and an outdated communications infrastructure (not to mention one of … Continue reading

Why the Rich Are Getting Richer

Increasing inequality in the United States has long been attributed to unstoppable market forces. In fact, as Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson show, it is the direct result of congressional policies that have consciously — and sometimes inadvertently — skewed the playing field toward the rich. Robert C. Lieberman The U.S. economy appears to be … Continue reading

America Really Was That Great

… But that doesn’t mean we are now. HOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, MICHAEL MANDELBAUM Is America still exceptional? The question has become a contentious issue in American politics over the last few years. But the answer has implications that go well beyond the political fortunes of Republicans and Democrats in the United States. It affects the … Continue reading

Germany’s Not That Sorry Anymore

And its newfound assertiveness is tearing Europe apart. YASCHA MOUNK With market confidence in Greece and Italy further eroding, Germany’s cash reserves are now the last best hope for the euro. Without a bold, continentwide rescue effort led by Germany, the single currency is likely to disintegrate. Yet it now seems clear, as indeed it … Continue reading

America’s Pacific Era

The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action. HILLARY CLINTON As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last … Continue reading

A show of force

Kathrin Hille Fears are growing over the hold China’s well-equipped army has on foreign policy When the US announced its decision last week to help Taiwan upgrade its fleet of ageing fighter aircraft, the response was swift and sharp. China should take “smart and devious revenge”, advised Major General Luo Yuan, deputy secretary-general of the … Continue reading

Iran planning to send ships near U.S. waters

CNN Wire Staff Clerics stand in front of the "Jamran," Iran’s first domestically built warship, during maneuvers in the Gulf on February 21, 2009. (CNN) — Iran plans to send ships near the Atlantic coast of the United States, state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported Tuesday, quoting a commander. "The Navy of the Iranian Army … Continue reading

U.S.-Pakistan relations

Is this the end of the affair? Dan Twining A senior U.S. official — Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — has publicly fingered the Haqqani network as a tool of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. What’s surprising is that this is particularly newsworthy: ISI’s relationship with the Haqqanis has been an … Continue reading

China’s investing woes

Phil Levy For those who believe it is just a matter of time before China rides its commercial success to global hegemony, this week offered some compelling imagery: Europe, on its knees, reeling from political discord, rising bond yields, and bank downgrades; China, sitting atop its $3.2 trillion hoard of foreign exchange reserves, condescending to … Continue reading

Asia’s New Great Game

China and India are both hungry for Burma’s vast natural riches. But will Burma’s people pay the price or can this Southeast Asian backwater finally enter the 21st century? THANT MYINT-U Slide Show: Asia’s New Silk Road When geography changes — as when the Suez Canal joined Europe to the Indian Ocean, or when the … Continue reading

I write, therefore I am

Can only a writer be elected French president? THE start of the school year in France also brings la rentrée littéraire, when publishers load a new crop on to the bookshelves in time for the season’s literary prizes. Over 650 new titles are out this time, scrutinised and promoted in glossy pages and on television … Continue reading

Grass’ Gaffe

Political Thinking Shouldn’t Be Left to Novelists Why do people continue to stubbornly believe that novelists have anything special to contribute to political matters? As German Nobel laureate Günter Grass has repeatedly shown, just because you can come up with pleasant stories doesn’t mean that will translate to sage political thinking. A Commentary By Jan … Continue reading

"Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand

Blood and revenge are hammering in my head," … The United States has won some measure of revenge in the 10 years since 9/11. But as in Shakespeare’s bloodthirsty play Titus Andronicus, has the cost been too great? BY NICK SCHIFRIN Thank you for coming," Prof. David Kastan told the half-full auditorium. "You did not … Continue reading

The Responsibility of Intellectuals

Using Privilege to Challenge the State Noam Chomsky A San Francisco mural depicting Archbishop Óscar Romero / Photograph: Franco Folini Since we often cannot see what is happening before our eyes, it is perhaps not too surprising that what is at a slight distance removed is utterly invisible. We have just witnessed an instructive example: … Continue reading

Secret Papers Reveal Truth Behind Soviet Collapse

By Christian Neef Corbis Communist hardliners staged a coup against Mikhail Gorbachev 20 years ago, and the Soviet Union collapsed soon afterwards. Previously unknown documents, which SPIEGEL has obtained, show just how desperate the last Soviet leader was as he fought to retain power — and how he begged Germany for money to save his … Continue reading

The Muslims of Norway

Islam and Multiculturalism Under Attack Shoaib Sultan Summary: The attacks in Norway last week targeted the very idea behind the country’s multicultural society and, in particular, the place of Muslims within it. As Norway comes to terms with the tragedy, how will the fallout affect the country’s Muslim community? SHOAIB SULTAN, the former Secretary General … Continue reading

The invasive species war

Do we protect native plants because they’re better for the earth, or because we hate strangers? A cherished principle of environmentalism comes under attack (Left: iStock photo; Right: Roel Smart/iStock photo) Leon Neyfakh EARLIER THIS MONTH, a troop of volunteers in Newton piled into canoes and went to war in the name of the Charles … Continue reading

German official blames China for Somalia’s famine

Edmund Downie With east Africa in the grip of famine after its worst drought in 60 years, Germany’s Africa policy coordinator has fingered an unlikely culprit: China. Agence France-Presse reports: Guenter Nooke told the daily Frankfurter Rundschau it was clear that "this catastrophe is also man-made". "In the case of Ethiopia there is a suspicion … Continue reading

Will China and the U.S. be Strategic Partners?

By Kirill Zubkov, Ivan Antonov The two global giants are growing closer. Will Russia oppose their possible union? Translated By Lucile McKay 6 July 2011 Edited by Kate­rina Kobylka Russia – Izvestia – Original Article (Russian) The tenth anniversary of the Agreement on Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation between Russia and the People’s Republic of China … Continue reading

The Real Intention of First U.S.-Japan-Aussi Military Exercise

By 陳一新 Translated By NG AI FERN Edited by Jen­nifer Pietropaoli Taiwan – China Times – Original Article (Chinese) The United States, Japan and Australia’s joint military exercise beginning July 9 in Brunei’s waters, the first of its kind in the South China Sea, reveals an important message. The three countries began a joint military … Continue reading

Assad Takes Hezbollah Down with Him

Thanassis Cambanis Just a year ago, Hezbollah was sitting pretty. Lebanon’s Party of God had consolidated its influence across the Arab world with a durable set of alliances. Its Axis of Resistance, formed with Iran, Syria and Hamas, had emerged as the most credible and authoritative force in Middle Eastern politics. Its central idea—to mobilize … Continue reading

Hot Air

Naoto Kan’s statement taking on Japan’s nuclear industry isn’t likely to accomplish anything. BY ROBERT DUJARRIC This week, Japan’s lame duck prime minister, Naoto Kan, surprised some observers by coming out against nuclear power, announcing that Japan should scrap its target of 53 percent nuclear dependency in 2030 and focus instead on fostering renewable energy … Continue reading

France in Afghanistan

Retreat, discontent, and misunderstanding Stéphane Taillat The last two days have been murderous for the French contingent in Afghanistan; four paratroopers were killed in a suicide attack in the Surobi district, while a Special Forces soldier was killed during operations in the Alasay Valley, in the province of Kapisa. The timing of these incidents was … Continue reading

Europeans Against Multiculturalism

Political Attacks Misread History, Target Muslims, and May Win Votes John R. Bowen British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery in Berlin / The Prime Minister’s Office / Flickr(cc) One of the many signs of the rightward creep of Western European politics is the recent unison of voices denouncing … Continue reading

Family Matters

On Sunday, Thailand will elect a new prime minister who belongs to a very familiar, and deeply divisive, family. BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO BANGKOK — The face of the woman likely to become Thailand’s first female prime minister has been staring out for weeks from thousands of political campaign posters here in the country’s capital. On … Continue reading

China’s Maritime Interests

What They Are and What They Aren’t Peter J. Munson A recent article at the Small Wars Journal by Dr. Tony Corn asserts the existence of a "Sino-Islamic nexus," based on the first ever entry of a Chinese warship into the Med to extract refugees from Libya.  While this move certainly is reflective of China’s … Continue reading

The Atlantic Alliance and the Sino-Islamic Nexus

From the Hindu Kush to the Shores of Tripoli by Tony Corn Of all the theses and sub-theses put forward by Samuel Huntington in his seminal article on The Clash of Civilizations (1993), none turned out to be more controversial than his assertion concerning the emergence of a Sino-Islamic nexus based on an “arms-for-oil” quid … Continue reading

How China sees the world

An emerging global power hashes out its foreign policy (AFP/Getty Images) By Thanassis Cambanis The specter of a China with rising influence in the world has long provoked anxiety here in America. Like a speeding car that suddenly fills the rearview mirror, China has grown stronger and bolder and has done it quickly: Not only … Continue reading

The new Rome is not the new Greece yet, but the US must look to its laurels

It’s encouraging to see Americans acknowledge the hole they are in. Pity they can’t agree how to get out of it Timothy Garton Ash We are approaching the anniversary of America’s Independence Day. As we all know, 15 years ago an alien invasion, deploying giant saucer-shaped warships hovering over earth, was repulsed by the ingenuity, … Continue reading

Clash of the Titans — the United States and China

By Eneas de Souza On one side, we have a state weak in conducting economic policy but extremely friendly to capitalists — the American state — and on the other, a state that commands and directs the economy towards development — the Chinese state. Translated By Elizabeth Woolley Edited by Michelle Harris Brazil – Sul … Continue reading

South China Sea or me?

Clyde Prestowitz Several things came together yesterday that give rise to a fundamental question for the future path of the United States. First, of course, was President Obama’s announcement of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan. This was important not just in terms of Afghanistan but also as a signal that a "war weary" (the president’s words) … Continue reading

Humanitarianism

Is Helping Others Charity, Duty, or Both?  Michael Walzer Humanitarianism is probably the most important "ism" in the world today, given the collapse of communism, the discrediting of neoliberalism, and the general distrust of large-scale political ideologies. Its activists often claim to escape or transcend partisan politics. We think of humanitarian aid, for example, first … Continue reading

Kissinger in China: Triumph or disaster?

Clyde Prestowitz Henry the K was at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace yesterday using the occasion of the publication of his latest book, the portentously titled On China, to take another, perhaps a final, victory lap for his work in carrying out President Richard Nixon’s strategy of achieving a diplomatic opening to China. This … Continue reading

From Abbottabad to Worse

Hating the United States—which funds Islamabad’s army and nuclear program to the humiliating tune of $3 billion a year—Pakistan takes its twisted, cowardly revenge by harboring the likes of the late Osama bin Laden. But the hypocrisy is mutual, and the shame should be shared. By Christopher Hitchens  Illustration by Barry Blitt Salman Rushdie’s upsettingly … Continue reading

France attempts to "civilize" the Internet

Internet fights back Nate Anderson For some time, French Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy has talked about his dream of a “civilized” Internet, but this dream has long been a nightmare for those who worry that “civilization” is really a code for “regulations favorable to big business and the national security state.” To make his vision a … Continue reading

The French elite’s dithering over DSK

will have ugly consequences Tim King  —  18th May 2011 A darling of the press: Dominique Strauss Kahn on a visit to Rezé. Picture: Bixintx While we await Friday’s developments in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, the non-French press, following John Lichfield’s excellent piece in yesterday’s Independent, has moved on to discuss the French taboo of … Continue reading

China’s Bold New Plan for Economic Domination

The Chinese leadership has unveiled a strategy to lead the globe in seven of the most important industries. Is the rest of the world ready? David Gray/Reuters Over the past few months, Beijing has released several plans laying out its vision for the country’s economic future. China’s twelfth Five-Year Plan, approved in March, and a … Continue reading

Bernard-Henri Levy’s War

Jonathan Chait March 28, 2011 Ulf Gartzke catches a great detail about Sarkozy in the Financial Times: The president also seems to have deliberately bypassed his foreign minister Alain Juppé and followed the advice of celebrity philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who had been in secret contact with Mr Sarkozy while on a visit to the rebels. … Continue reading

The DSK arrest could be bad news for French Muslims

By Joshua Keating Writing at Slate, Anne Applebaum counters the conventional wisdom that the Strauss-Kahn arrest is great news for France’s struggling president, Nicolas Sarkozy: But here is a prediction: Sarkozy will not benefit from Strauss-Kahn’s ugly demise. The main beneficiary will be the politician with the fastest-growing constituency in France at the moment: Marine … Continue reading