international_politics   19

Lunch with Blair
At Auckland Koru Club on the way back down to Wellington after going out to Eden Park for a lunch with former UK PM Tony Blair.
Had a very brief chat to him before the lunch, mainly about a mutual friend who used to be his children’s nanny.
Blair’s presentation wasn’t stunning – I suspect he is a bit jet lagged, but the content was excellent. I swear the man is more Tory than me. What I mean is that he gave one of the best repudiations of Keynesian economics around, explained why a fiscal stimulus in response to the financial crisis doesn’t mean one should go back the days of big Government.
He spoke about how the need for reform in public services is continual, and quipped that if Clement Atlee was alive today, the only part of society he would still feel comfortable in would be the public service, as so little had changed since the 1950s.
Talked about Iraq and Afghanistan. He thinks both will still end up better off than if there had been no intervention, however is very worried about the meddling and influence of Iran.
I asked him a question on which of the five or six Opposition Leaders he had seen off, did he respect the most and why. I quipped that he could include Gordon Brown in the answer to that question, which he seemed to find amusing.
Someone at our table (the Telecom table), asked whether he thought David Miliband should have challenged Gordon Brown for the leadership, and would the election result have been different. Blair hesitated about answering this, and asked if any journalists were in the room. It was hilarious to observe as in unison all the journalists in the room yelled out “no”, which meant Blair went on to answer. He was a master though of re-writing questions, so the answer he gave was that if Labour had remained New Labour, he thinks they had the potential to get a different result.
Blair also had interesting observations on the Middle East and the Arab Spring. He has a belief that so called western values of democracy and freedom are in fact universal values, and we are seeing this take place through the uprisings.
The company which was the major sponsor of the lunch, is Visy. They are one of the world’s largest paper recycling and packing companies and believe that responding to climate change is a business opportunity, not a cost. their Chairman spoke also to the lunch. Interestingly not a single question to Blair was on climate change though.
Tags: Tony Blair
International_Politics  NZ_Politics  Tony_Blair  from google
july 2011 by stateless
The Anniversary
And so the year rolls around yet again to Krauthammer Day, the day on which we all celebrate Charles Krauthammer’s confident assertion eight years ago that:

Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem.

Or nearly all of us celebrate it anyway. Charles Krauthammer himself seems to prefer to mark the occasion with an entirely unrelated Run, Paul Ryan Run! column. Which is a little sad – after all it has been five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus five months plus thirty days or so since he first put his, and his friends’ credibility on the line. It would be nice to see him (and others) mark the occasion more formally.

Perhaps the problem is that we have never fixed on exactly how to celebrate Charles Krauthammer Day. Easter, Christmas, Hannukah, Festivus etc all have their associated and time-honored rituals, but Krauthammer day has none. Combining suggestions from George W. Bush and Hugh Hector Munro, one possibility might be an Exploding Easter Egg Hunt. But then, this would perhaps prove simultaneously too dangerous to be very attractive to participants, and not dangerous enough to really mark the occasion properly. Better suggestions invited in comments.

Update: On the basis of a genuinely insane reading of this post, the execrable Glenn Reynolds gravely deplores my incivility. I don’t read Reynolds these days, for all the obvious reasons, but have quite clear and unfond memories of his own contributions to civil conversaton back in his heyday, such as this denunciation of Chris Hedges as a ‘flat-out racist’ for suggesting that Iraq was likely to be a ‘cesspool’ for the US invasion. How this claim comported with his approving quote of a correspondent a couple of years later, arguing that

The ball is in the Iraqis’ court. We took away the obstacle to their freedom. If they choose to embrace death, corruption, incompetence, lethal religious mania, and stone-age tribalism, then at least we’ll finally know the limitations of the people in that part of the world. The experiment had to be made.

and his own conclusion that:

On the other hand, it’s also true that if democracy can’t work in Iraq, then we should probably adopt a “more rubble, less trouble” approach to other countries in the region that threaten us. If a comparatively wealthy and secular Arab country can’t make it as a democratic republic, then what hope is there for places that are less wealthy, or less secular?

has always been a mystery to me. The only plausible way in which Reynolds could have been promoting the cause of civil conversation here was by helpfully denouncing himself in advance as a ‘flat out racist’ so that right minded people could know not to associate themselves with him. Perhaps there’s another explanation – but if so, he has as best I know (as I say I don’t read him these days) been shy about advancing it.
Boneheaded_Stupidity  International_Politics  Journalism  US_Politics  from google
april 2011 by Eronarn
International realism and dictatorship
As a result of the events in the Arab world[1], I’ve been thinking some more about “international realism”, which I take to have the following central premises[2]

1. States have durable, long-term interests and their actions in international affairs are driven by the rational pursuit of those interests

2. The use or threat of military power is the pre-eminent way (or at least one of the primary ways) in which states pursue their interests

It struck me in thinking about recent events that this is essentially a theory for a world of autocracies. (Apologies to those for whom this is old news, but this is a blog, after all). In such a world, international realism reduces to the claim that individuals are driven by rational self-interest. While there are problems with this claim (it’s empirically problematic if self-interest is defined tightly, and tautological if it’s defined by “revealed preference”), it seems like a sensible starting point, at least for the kind of individuals who become successful autocrats.

Moreover, the idea that war is a central part of rational policy makes sense for autocrats. Although war is a negative sum game, it seems reasonable, under a wide range of circumstances to assume that the losses are borne primarily by the autocrat’s subjects, while the gains flow to the autocrats. Even a war that ends with the status quo ante can be beneficial to the rulers on both sides by providing a Malthusian check on a population that might otherwise prove restive, providing an excuse for increased taxation and so on. That implies the failure of the standard negative-sum game argument against war, namely, that both sides would be better off calculating the outcome of war, and agreeing to accept it without a fight.

None of this would be problematic to Hobbes, often presented as the founding theorist of international relations. But it presents problems for a world in which, at least in formal terms, most governments are democracies rather than autocracies. The central problems are

1. A central element of the case for democracy is that it allows for the resolution of competing views of the national interest. But that resolution, involving the alternation of political power, undermines the assumption that there is a stable concept of self-interest to be pursued. One party or faction may favor an alliance with country A, another with its hostile neighbour B. Moreoever, groups within different countries (for example, left or right political parties) may see each other as natural political allies against their domestic opponents

2. Both theory and experience suggest that war (even war in which the state is victorious) is nearly always against the interests of the citizens of a country, taken as a whole. Whereas ruling more territory seems obviously good for an autocrat, there is no corresponding gain from being a citizen of a large state rather than a small one. (This doesn’t rule out a need for self-defense against autocracies or irrationally aggressive democracies, but it does suggest a strong interest in promoting peace).

There are a couple of ways in which international realists might respond to this. The first, more or less standard among leftist advocates of realism, and common on the right, is to say that democracy is a sham and that international relations must be understood in terms of conflicts between national ruling classes. The main disagreement between the left and right on this is that the left views this as an undesirable (if unchangeable) state of affairs where is the right is concerned to preclude any disruption of orderly policymaking by the uninformed masses.

The centrist position as I read it is a kind of exceptionalism. While we (the US [3]) can combine domestic democracy with a realist foreign policy (based on some maxim such as “politics stops at the waters edge”) the poorer countries with which foreign policy primarily deals cannot. So, from the US viewpoint, the best option is a friendly, stable dictatorship.

With notably rare exceptions, support for friendly, stable dictatorships has worked well for the US. Among the rare exceptions: Pahlavi in Iran, Saddam in Iraq, Thieu in Vietnam, the Saudi regime (that gave us Al Qaeda). But, as if by the unredeemably opaque operation of some invisible hand, these very exceptions have created new foreign policy problems that have ensured the continued prosperity of the Foreign Policy Community.

fn1, The events in Libya have also started a new round of claims about the persistence or otherwise of US hegemony, clearly a related topic. As Phil Arena says here, it’s essentially a Rorschach test, with everyone seeing what they want to see.

fn2. I’m not too interested in definitional questions about whether this is the right characterization of the views of some particular group of scholars who may claim the label of “realism”. Clearly, the ideas are widely held, and the label “realism” is commonly attached to them.

fn3. In its modern form, international realism seems to be pre-eminently a US idea. For Europe, Japan etc, the foolishness of pursuing national self-interest through military force is a lesson that has been learned the hard way, and mostly (not entirely) absorbed into policy thinking.
International_Politics  from google
march 2011 by xmarquez
Comparative Constitutions Project
From site: "The intent of the project is to investigate the sources and consequences of constitutional choices. Towards this end, the investigators are collecting data on the formal characteristics of written constitutions, both current and historical, for most independent states since 1789"
constitution  international_studies  international_politics  constitutional_law  government_international  history  history_law 
october 2010 by doherty.libguides
Kyoto Protocol
From site: "The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions"
climate  climate_change  environment  international_studies  international_politics 
august 2010 by doherty.libguides
Cameron was right: Pakistan has some soul searching to do, Zainab Mahmood
Spin-offs never quite receive the same success as the originals that inspire them. Sequels to television shows, famous books or even geographic entities splitting from the primary country especially when animosity, political manoeuvring and economics is involved, rarely ever have a fairy-tale ending.
Pakistan never did get a very good deal at partition. For instance, it doesn’t help that by embracing a new name and new culture and state religion we chose to disavow our historical and cultural past that is associated with the Indian subcontinent. We lost claims to centuries of our heritage, political, literary and social and architectural traditions that are now known to the world purely as “Indian” regardless of the contributions of people and communities that now fall within Pakistan’s borders. The Mughals were Indian, so was Razia Sultana, Moinuddin Chishti, Deputy Nazir Ahmad, Bulleh Shah, Ghalib and countless other muslim poets, musicians, intellectuals who were born and bred in India, infused with Indian culture and traditions yet whose descendants now call themselves Pakistani. Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s forgotten son, could easily have been remembered as an Indian had he accepted Pandit Nehru’s offer to take on ministerial duties in his cabinet with enormous resources and money at his disposal to establish a world-class research centre.
Today the only two South Asian muslims named in Forbe’s billionaire list are, you guessed it, Indian. The backdrop for Merchant Ivory films, post-partition British literature and modern day dramas and period films about the subcontinent is always India. Not to mention the ubiquitous fascination with the clothes, the food, the dance and the lifestyle which inspires the Bollywood-styled displays of Indian film stars homes at Selfridges in London and the enormous number of Indian celebrities waxed in at Madame Tussauds. No imperialist nation has had such a long and tenacious love affair with one of its colonies as England harbours with India.
We, on the other hand, gained independence but we also gained the distrust and enormous challenge that comes with establishing a new identity with which the world could henceforth recognise us. Unfortunately, 63 years on and we still haven’t figured out who we are. In a recent editorial, respected columnist Irfan Hussain, in answering criticism levied against Pakistan’s role in the war on terror, said that if the world was concerned as to whose side Pakistan was on, the answer is simple; “on its own side”, of course.
But what the author means by this is painstakingly unclear to the silently suffering majority in Pakistan. Federal Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira while speaking to Sky News following the burning of comically misspelt effigies in Pakistan said that David Cameron’s comments were hurtful since Pakistani people, leaders and law enforcement agencies had made enormous sacrifices to support the war on terror. Well at least he got one out of three right; neither the corrupt political leadership nor the officers in heavily decorated uniforms have the faintest idea about the sacrifices of the common folk - the average people blown-up in suicide blasts, the blue-collar workers, the police officers, check-post guards, the havaldars and sipahis who risk their lives every single day fighting the unknown enemy for a cause they do not fully understand. Villages have disappeared, schools, hospitals, communities razed to the ground, thousands and thousands of devastated families, internally displaced people and refugees from drone-attacked zones are living in camps or relocated to over-crowded cities. Setting aside the billions of dollars of losses we incur as a result of the armed struggle, impacting our manufacturing, agricultural, farming and other industries and infrastructure, the human cost of this war is shockingly high, so whose side did the writer say we are on?
David Cameron is not wrong about Pakistan’s paradoxical situation. That is what has everyone in such a state of over-active denial; we cannot in all honesty admit to ourselves or to the world what we know is the truth. Needless to say today we stand to gain the most from the elimination of islamist terrorism as they have chosen Pakistan as a strategic end-zone, a laboratory for all their planning and experiments. Destroying unwanted crops with billions of dollars in aid, foreign military training and equipment and elaborate intelligence networks, all at the expense of the quality of life of the average Pakistani, will yield nothing but millions of acres of destroyed crop. As long as the land is fertile, an opportunistic farmer will come along and sow the seeds of extremism again.
At the same time there is nothing peculiar or surprising about David Cameron gladly supping with the Indian delegation that welcomed him. With billions of pounds worth of investment coming in to the United Kingdom from India, more than from Japan, China and Canada combined and second now only to the United States, not to mention, man power, students, professionals, expertise and the insatiable obsession of the British with Indian culture and curry, it is no wonder that our colonists have chosen India as their Joseph, Britain’s favourite son.
And why not, any self-respecting and neutral observer would ask? Indian firms employ almost a million people in the UK, 57% of British companies are outsourcing to India while Indian exports to Britian far exceed the value of imports coming in. Tata, an Indian conglomerate is the largest single manufacturer in the UK and also added Jaguar, a symbol of british suaveness and luxury, to its expanding list of owned businesses in 2007. UK giants Marks and Spencer as well as Tesco have benefitted enormously by looking to India for back-sourcing their operations in order to avoid financial catastrophe. The picture could not be clearer, with India opening doors to Russia, Israel, South Korea and looking to China as a trading partner, Britian is vying for a lucrative spot on this competitive list and has gone as far as to lift the nuclear ban on India allowing for the free trade and exchange of nuclear technology. London is set to overtake Paris and Chicago as the fourth largest economy among world cities by 2020 and it wouldn’t be wrong to say the Indians will be benefitting greatly from the ride.
Pakistan on the other hand, has struggled with corrupt regimes, failing businesses, bankrupt and defaulting companies and a jittery economy fighting inflation, devaluation, unemployment and continual losses. PIA reported a loss of 5 billion rupees in the first quarter of this year, while the second largest car manufacturer Honda atlas suffered losses of 900 million rupees. The controversy surrounding the death of twelve-year-old Iqbal Masih, along with other exacerbating factors, led to losses close to 100 million dollars for the world famous carpet manufacturing industry in Pakistan.
Almost every product circulating in the world today has origins in China, reshaping the global marketplace, but where Chinese made products are struggling to establish a reputation for reliability and durability, India is establishing itself as a centre of quality control and pioneering expertise. Where Pakistan failed to even feature, India has managed to capitalise with its “incredible India” marketability abroad. They might be suffering from the same problems that plague us, such as extreme poverty, disparity of resources, ethnic rivalries, traditionalists denouncing capitalism and modernity, but they have benefitted from one thing that stands out above the rest as possibly the single largest factor behind their success – nationalism. Indian first, Muslim, Gujarati, Telugu, Brahmin, Dahiya second.
That is where we have failed miserably, allowing religious and provincial identities to supersede the united national identity. If we cannot sit together at one table to productively discuss how to take the country forward without hurling abuse and blaming each other or declaring our own as kafirs, then how can we expect anyone else to listen? We have the same genetic code, intellect, talent, and historical and cultural legacy of our multi-ethnic forefathers, but we malign them, denounce them and throw them onto heaps of corpses. We have disgraced the fathers and sons we lost at independence, in 1945, in Kargil, those killed in twin attacks in mosques in Lahore, at the Data Darbar Shrine, in Mohmand agency and countless other terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil since 9/11.
The problem is not the terrorists that our country and the United States are hoping to flush out by throwing billions of dollars at the problem, but in fact our homeland itself. A recent Brookings report “looking beyond the madressah”, analysed how the poor performance in regular schools across Pakistan is to blame for the popularity and rise in extremism and militancy amongst half the country’s population which is under the age of seventeen. A skewed sense of history thanks to puffed up accounts of Muslim conquests and incorrect facts related to insurgencies against the British in propaganda-filled history books from Zia’s era send forth generations of Pakistani youth who are maligned against Indians and the British from grade school. The enlightened or affluent few who have a chance to benefit from unbiased books and the internet are shocked to find out that the British and the Indians are not as bad as our Pakistan study books said they were.
But it is too little too late as the thousands of youngsters emerging from a dilapidated schooling system, unskilled and unprepared, are headed towards a maze of unemployment and dissatisfying social rewards, eventually reverting to religion when all else disappoints. And waiting for them with open arms are religious opportunists with a suicide jacket in one hand and a Quran in the other, convincing these youngsters that victory will come only when they use the one to establish the other, by hook or by crook, to rid the world of … [more]
openIndia  openSecurity  Civil_society  Conflict  Democracy_and_government  International_politics  Pakistan  UK  Zainab_Mahmood  from google
august 2010 by r4vi
The Bizarre Universe of Drug Prohibition: An Introduction to the OD Drug Policy Forum, Charles Shaw
International drug policy is at a tipping point. Emerging from a forty year repressive dark age following the excesses of the 1960-1970s, the world seems ready to begin making serious changes in response to problems that have not been getting any better. But has the world learned enough to craft a saner, more compassionate approach to drug use? This question is on the lips of politicians, policy makers, and reformers everywhere, as the consequences of repression—bloated bureaucracies and prison systems, spiraling cartel violence, abrogated civil liberties, millions addicted and millions more disenfranchised—have become larger than the problems they were put in place to solve.Let's take a quick tour through the status quo. Imagine your child is addicted to heroin. For some this is not imagination, but daunting, visceral reality. As you read this sentence, perhaps 30 million people worldwide are addicted to opiates, a figure equal to the population of Greater Tokyo, the world's largest city.Knowing you will do anything to save that child's life, what are you facing? Despite tens of billions of tax dollars spent on combatting drug use every year, you can't run from the drug, because legal and illegal versions are everywhere, in your cities, in your schools, in your medicine cabinet, in every corner of society. If you want to get your child off the drug, you quickly find that treatment is prohibitively expensive, and subsidized treatment is in short supply and requires long waits. If you can find treatment, you soon learn that the few legal methods available are meant only to substitute a legal opiate for an illegal one, so now your child has a methadone addiction. In this case, the medical establishment's solution to addiction is more addiction. For other drugs, it blithely prescribes total abstinence, and a Twelve-Step program. The long term success rate of these treatments are less than 10%.Imagine, in your desperate search to save your child, you come across ancient indigenous psychedelic plants like Ayahuasca, Iboga, or Peyote, that have shown to be remarkably safe and effective healing treatments for addiction. Imagine your confusion when you learn that they are illegal and classified as Schedule 1 substances, with a "high potential for addiction and no known medicinal properties." Imagine your anger when you investigate further and discover that pharmaceutical companies have known about these, but refuse to develop them as widespread treatments because curing addiction is less profitable than treating a chronic disease. Your child is a criminal for using drugs. and will continue to engage in criminal activity if he or she tries to end their addiction by these alternative means. If your child continues his or her addiction, odds are that sooner rather than later they will run afoul of law enforcement and, without considerable financial resources (which also permits one to avoid many of the legal entrapments), will eventually end up in prison. Nearly 2 million people were arrested for drug offenses in the US last year while UK drug arrests totaled nearly 300,000. Drug arrests are so prevalent in our criminal justice milieu that in the United States, roughly half of its 2.5 million prisoners are incarcerated on nonviolent drug charges. The combined cost of the US/UK war on drugs, and their companion criminal justice systems, amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars, larger than the defense spending of most nations. Ironically, it nearly equals the annual revenue reaped by the global illicit drug trade, which the UN estimates at around $312 billion.Now imagine that you discover that the heroin your child is addicted to is coming from Afghanistan, where your other child has been deployed. Your government is telling you it is occupying this country, and your child is risking his or her life, in part, to eradicate the heroin trade, yet you discover that every year since the invasion opium production increased. In fact, you soon discover that everywhere the US and UK have deployed to interdict the drug trade—Afghanistan, Columbia, Mexico, Southeast Asia—drug production has increased. Despite forty years of a War on Drugs, there has been no appreciable decrease in either drug use or supply.
And imagine that your child comes home from his or her tour of duty,  and like most, is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. How surprised would you be to learn that MDMA, once maligned as "ecstasy" the dangerous "rave drug," is now being used to treat this terrible condition? Though still illegal, approved clinical trials on veterans are underway in the US, Israel, Jordan, and Switzerland.
All of this exists because of an international policy of prohibition, and this may be why 90% of all addicts never break free.But of course not everyone is an addict. Drug use is an integral part of the human existence. Nearly every culture throughout history has had some form of chemical rite of passage because, as Carl Jung taught, we have an instinctual need or drive to transcend our consciousness, to relieve our state of being from suffering. In this pursuit billions consume legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco and prescription medication, and up to 250 million people worldwide will use some illicit drug at least once this year. That's just under the population of the United States, the world's third most populous nation.In this bizarre universe alcohol and tobacco are legal, taxed, and regulated substances that easily kill more than half a million people every year in the US and UK, yet the most anyone ever does to try and stop their use is to put a warning label on the package. Meanwhile, cannabis, a relatively benign, medically effective plant, responsible for zero annual deaths, is classified by the governments of Britain and America as "highly addictive with no known medicinal applications." Despite these ominous warnings, millions use it, making it the largest cash crop in America, and sixteen states have legalized it for medicinal use. In the US, 1 in 34 children are taking addictive amphetamines to treat ADHD, at the same time, quietly in the background, US and EU politicians are trying to implement the CODEX Alimentarius, which will make natural vitamin supplements available only by prescription. 1 in 31 American adults are in the correctional system, and more African-American men will go to prison than college. These paradoxes are at the heart of the hypocrisy and insanity that has characterized the American war on drugs, which it has been imposing on the world since the first international drug convention in the Hague in 1912, and continues today through the United Nations and NATO. It is hypocritical because prior to the 1912 Convention opium and other drug monopolies were legal and integral tools for colonial expansion, and subsequent to the Convention they became the purview of Western intelligence services, who used their proceeds to fund covert military operations around the world. These paradoxes are insane because they begin from the supposition that drug use can be wiped out like poverty or war, and whether or not that is a legitimate goal or merely a cover for other political machinations, its clear that all official positions on drug use run counter to human nature, and scientific reality.There is a new movement afoot, however, to change all this. In just the last few years international drug policy has seen seismic shifts. In defiance of the old international conventions foisted by the US, countries like Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Canada, the Netherlands, Argentina, Mexico, and even the UK, have all decriminalized various levels of personal drug use. In the United States, the budget crisis facing the states has made their bloated prison systems no longer manageable, prompting Federal judges to order nonviolent offenders to be released. Acknowledging the role of the War on Drugs in expanding the national prison system, a bill has been introduced by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) to form a National Criminal Justice Commission, the first real attempt at prison reform since the late 1970s. For the first time in forty years the FDA is permitting the formal study of psychedelic medicine, and in November Californians will vote on whether to tax and regulate cannabis.
It is, by past standards, a sea change in public opinion, evidenced by the recent conference held by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which was widely covered in the mainstream media. Many believe this heralds a new age of professionalism and normalization in intellectual and spiritual inquiry. Even the most cynical and strident prohibitionists admit that the policies are likely to shift to accomodate new economic realities.
In policy circles we often refer to a Libertarian term, "Cognitive Liberty," as the freedom to learn, grow, operate, and heal through methods of one's choosing. In simpler terms, it means that someone, for example, can be free to employ whatever substances he or she chooses as part of one's intellectual, medical, or spiritual pursuits. If one wants to substitute marijuana for Ritalin, if one wishes to take ibogaine instead of methadone, if one wishes to take LSD or drink Ayahuasca with the Daime in pursuit of the Divine, is this not an inherent right? Cognitive Liberty implies that one has sovereignty over one's own body. On a larger meta-level, the prohibition struggle is merely one front in the ongoing war against all civil liberties that the US and UK are waging against their own citizens in the name of "security." At its most personal, it's about the freedom to make the most intimate choices and decisions about who and what we are.  The system we face is entrenched beyond all reason. Despite their own exhaustive study of the illicit drug trade over the last 100 years, and their admissions that prohibition is ineffective, enforcement budgets are unsustainable, … [more]
International_politics  Drug_Policy_Forum  criminal_justice  drug_policy  international_drug_conventions  war_on_drugs  budgets  jobs  revenue  Charles_Shaw  from google
may 2010 by r4vi
Yes, China Has Fully Arrived As A Superpower -
A poorly argued rebuttal to James Fallows' Atlantic piece. This author does not understand the concepts of "necessary conditions" or "sufficient conditions". His conclusion may be true, but his arguments that China is a superpower because it has clout and it's getting more powerful are fatuous.

"The normally adroit Fallows surprisingly misses the real point. China already is a superpower in many regards. Despite its poverty, no matter what industry you're in or where in the world you operate, you can no longer ignore China's economic might. That is power."
china  economics  politics  international_politics 
february 2010 by bennylope
Essential reading
When I read the Financial Times review of Joris Luyendijk’s People Like Us: Misrepresenting the Middle East last year, I knew it was a book I wanted and needed to read (Australian title is Fit to Print). So I placed an order on that very morning. But it never came and I only just got my hands on a second-hand copy. Amazon (US and UK) are both listing it as out-of-print. Which is a pity, because you need to read it too. Some of it will be familiar to intelligent and well-informed people: of course we know things work like that. But it is hard to keep the knowledge one has of the news process in view, when watching TV, reading the papers, listening to the radio over breakfast. Luyendijk will, at the very least, do the necessary job of keeping us sensitized.

Actually, he seems to have been pretty poorly informed himself about how journalism works when he took a job as Dutch paper De Volkskrant’s Middle East correspondent back in 1998. An Arab-speaker, he seems to have started with very little background as a reporter. He was under the illusion that journalists would go and ferret-out stories, which, fed back to the paper, would end up conveying the most important things to know about a country or a situation. But it doesn’t work like that. In a dictatorship (such as most countries in the Middle East are), you only get to talk to a limited range of approved sources. These are supplemented by a few tame academics and “human-rights activists” (in the pay of NGOs, largely – Luyendijk calls them “donor darlings”) and the news agencies (AP, AFP etc) have already decided what’s important. And ordinary people (if you can overcome intra-arabic linguistic barriers at all) are too scared to tell you what they really think and say stuff that you can’t use because you can’t attribute. So you end up just being the final decoration to stories that have already been written and pre-digested and just need the the stamp of “our man in Cairo” (or Baghdad, or Damascus …) who is probably confined to a hotel room watching CNN.

Things get dramatically worse once the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is part of the story, and even more so when the report is for TV (all complexity and background disappear). Basically, the Israelis have a well engineered machine for giving correspondents what they want in the form they want it. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are crap at the media war and any Palestinians who come across in the West as sympathetic, well-informed, persuasive, are sure to be sidelined by a Palestinian leadership ever alert to internal threats to their power (hence not much sign of Hanan Ashrawi on the box recently).

The book finishes with the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the “embedding” of correspondents. American news-management is even more professional and directive than Israeli, so there’s very little scope for an alternative narrative (until way too late). Interestingly, in the section on the 2003 invasion, Luyendijk highlights a major problem with getting the truth across to audiences: they often don’t want to hear it. That’s a problem if you are a commercial organization selling a product: Americans (for example) want (or wanted) to watch reports that confirm their patriotic view of their military and its essentially benign mission. So even if you could do your job properly, you’d have a tough time getting people to watch or listen.
African_politics  International_Politics  Journalism  Middle_East_Politics  from google
january 2010 by Eronarn
China’s Not a Superpower by Minxin Pei - The Diplomat Magazine - 2009
The question is: what kind of great power is China?

Ironically, while the rest of the world has taken China’s future as a superpower for granted, Chinese leaders themselves are more aware of the inherent limits of the country’s strength. As a result, Beijing exercises its newly acquired clout with extreme caution, eschewing external entanglements, frowning upon direct military presence abroad, avoiding costly international obligations and living with the international economic and security order established and dominated by the United States. Of course, China guards its national interests, particularly its sovereignty, jealously. On matters of its territorial integrity and economic well-being, Beijing seldom hesitates to flex its muscles. But it draws the line on empire-building overseas via the extension of its military power.
china  politics  international_politics  economics  military 
december 2009 by bennylope
How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room | Mark Lynas | Environment | The Guardian
With midterm elections looming, Obama and his staff also knew that Copenhagen would be probably their only opportunity to go to climate change talks with a strong mandate. This further strengthened China's negotiating hand, as did the complete lack of civil society political pressure on either China or India. Campaign groups never blame developing countries for failure; this is an iron rule that is never broken. The Indians, in particular, have become past masters at co-opting the language of equity ("equal rights to the atmosphere") in the service of planetary suicide – and leftish campaigners and commentators are hoist with their own petard.
china  politics  climate  negotation  international_politics 
december 2009 by bennylope
Chilean election sees revision of Pinochet legacy,
Early results from yesterday’s elections in Chile have provided a strong indication that the country will be moving to the right for the first time since the days of the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Sebastián Piñera leads the Alliance for Change, a coalition of the National Renovation Party and the Independent Democratic Union. Piñera has proposed market-oriented economic policies and a business-friendly tax regime, an aspect of his campaign which has won widespread support due to the hope that it will help to revive the country economically.
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openSecurity  openSecurity  Conflict  Democracy_and_government  International_politics  Chile  Iran  North_Korea  Philippines  Thailand  Zimbabwe  Maddy_Fry  from google
december 2009 by r4vi
Paul Hensel’s International Relations site
From site: "Welcome to the International Relations Data Site, created and maintained by Paul Hensel of the Department of Political Science at Florida State University. This site includes seven pages of links to on-line data resources for the serious international relations scholar, as well as the introduction page that you are currently reading. These pages are meant to include the most useful data sources on processes of international conflict and cooperation, as well as data covering international economic, environmental, political, and social data and data on similar topics for the United States."
international_studies  human_rights  international_politics 
august 2007 by doherty.libguides

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