Wars are not won by military genius or decisive battles | Aeon Ideas
The idea of the ‘decisive battle’ as the hinge of war, and wars as the gates of history, speaks to our naive desire to view modern war in heroic terms. Popular histories are written still in a drums-and-trumpets style, with vivid depictions of combat divorced from harder logistics, daily suffering, and a critical look at the societies and cultures that produced mass armies and sent them off to fight in faraway fields for causes about which the average soldier knew nothing.
articles 
january 2018
[Reviews] | Mr. Mailer Goes to Washington, by David Denby | Harper's Magazine
It seems a woefully embarrassing way to begin an epic narrative, even a mock-epic narrative. But then consider the shame-ridden episodes in great confessional works—St. Augustine stealing pears and enjoying the sin itself, not the fruit; Rousseau stealing a trinket and then throwing suspicion onto a chambermaid. The author rides down to the bottom of his soul, airing misdeeds, humiliations, and malevolent thoughts. In that place, he might find inspiration and strength to rise. “We believe in our...
Articles 
january 2018
The Believer Outside the Manson Pinkberry
In true crush fashion, I idealized and misunderstood my object of affection. In the apocryphal, utopian 1960s of my imagination, young people had power, and weirdness was socially sanctioned. Even better, people felt as though they were a part of something bigger, something that gave their lives urgency and meaning. Then was different from now in some crucial, ineffable way. Now was disappointing. Then was better.
Articles 
november 2017
The AIIB and the ‘One Belt, One Road’
It is worth looking at its key recommendations, because this was a serious effort by a distinguished international committee that included good representation from major developing countries (e.g., Zhou Xiaochuan from China, Arminio Fraga from Brazil, Montek Ahluwalia from India, and Ernesto Zedillo from Mexico). The Zedillo Report is quite critical of the current World Bank arrangement of a resident board that approves all loans. The resident board represents both a large financial cost to the bank ($70 million per year) and an extra layer of management that slows down project preparation and makes the bank less efficient. Slowness of project preparation is one of the main criticisms of clients concerning the poor performance of the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs).

The Chinese officials charged with developing the AIIB are looking at the Zedillo Report for good ideas. The AIIB will have a non-resident board that meets periodically both in Beijing and via videoconference. Given its newness, a likely compromise among the countries that have signed up is that its board will approve many of the initial projects and eventually delegate more decisionmaking to management. The Zedillo Report recognizes the importance of environmental and social safeguards, but argues that the World Bank has become so risk-averse that the implementation of these policies imposes an unnecessary burden on borrowing countries. In practice, developing countries have moved away from using the existing MDBs to finance infrastructure, because the institutions are so slow and bureaucratic.
AIIB 
november 2017
Time for an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank - CHINA US Focus
First, U.S. Treasury Department has criticized the bank as a deliberate attempt to rival the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.Second, U.S. officials have portrayed the AIIB as Beijing’s geopolitical instrument to attract countries in Southeast, East and South Asia closer to its sphere of influence. It is a soft-power play, U.S. officials have warned.Third, U.S. Treasury Department has argued that the proposed bank would not meet environmental standards, procurement requirements and other safeguards embraced by the World Bank and the ADB.
AIIB 
november 2017
China gloats as Europeans rush to join Asian bank - The Washington Post
But the European decision to break ranks with Washington represents a significant diplomatic setback for the United States.

“The administration has made a major mistake. Not just our refusal to take part in the bank, but the pressure on our allies not to take part, was very short-sighted,” said David Sedney, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and former senior State Department official. “I understand the concerns about standards, but being in opposition to it has meant we don’t have the ability to influence it. And it is clearly going to go ahead whether we support it or not.”

Sedney said there was a “strain in U.S. political thinking that says if we are not in the lead role, we should not be part of it — but I think that has been a mistake.”
AIIB 
november 2017
A Bank Too Far? | Council on Foreign Relations
Might Washington reconsider its staunch opposition?

My colleague Elizabeth C. Economy has an excellent blog post on the issue, making a compelling case that it’s time for the U.S. government to shift course. While I agree with her on substantive grounds, I have a great deal of concern about the consequences of heading down the path toward membership.

First of all, it’s extremely unlikely that Congress would approve U.S. participation in and a financial contribution to a Chinese-led bank. To date, Congress has been unwilling to approve a much less controversial IMF reform package, and the Obama administration’s efforts to negotiate a Trans-Pacific Partnership will require whatever political capital the administration can muster on international economic issues.

Even if Congress were to consider the bill, there would be a substantial risk of congressional add-ons, such as enforcement of penalties against countries found to manipulate their curriencies for competitive advantage, that would make the bill unacceptable to the Obama administration. It would be a black eye for the administration for to the United States were to join the bank and then not deliver on its commitment. The best course for the United States is to back away from opposition to the AIIB, allow others to join, and let the bank rise or fall on its own merits.
AIIB 
november 2017
Expertise could find Asian rewards | afr.com
At APEC last October, Chinese President Xi Jinping surprised many when he committed to forming the new bank. Since that time, much work has gone on in the background and we’ve been pleased to assist with that process, based on our past 16 years of working with China as an emerging economic power.

Just under a fortnight ago, Chinese Minister for Finance Lou Jiwei spoke at an APEC session that we chaired at the prestigious Boao Forum for Asia. China leads APEC this year, building on the good work of Indonesia last year, when the issue of regional connectivity and infrastructure development was elevated to the top of APEC’s agenda. China has decided that it is time to move from abstract principles to concrete action on the matter of Asian infrastructure financing. As Mr Lou told us at Boao, the new bank is intended to have multiple government stakeholders, from Asia and further afield; to operate to the highest international standards; and, importantly, will be designed to ensure that the private sector is encouraged to play a leading role in financing and building the expected projects throughout Asia.
AIIB 
november 2017
China-led Asian infrastructure bank in the making- China.org.cn
Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop said the bank will complement, not replace, the existing regional development banks, and it is a creative idea that China has come up with.
AIIB 
november 2017
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will guide capital - People's Daily Online
Many countries have voiced interest in the bank since President Xi Jinping made the a proposal during a visit to Southeast Asia in October 2013.

China has held three rounds of talks with interested Asian countries so far, and a memo on setting up the bank is due to be signed this autumn.

"We are actively discussing a founders list, basic framework and regulations to put the bank into operation as soon as possible," Lou said.

The size of the bank's capital and investment ratios are yet to be discussed and confirmed.

China could contribute 50 percent of the bank's capital. "This shows China's determination to establish the bank," he said, but the final investment is open to adjustment, depending on how many countries participate.

"By economic weight, China is still expected to hold the biggest share," he said.

Lou said he would welcome participation from Japan, the United State and Europe, even though the bank's global agenda will be set at a later date.

As a new comer, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will complement and cooperate with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, with the latter two focusing on poverty alleviation, but infrastructure also helps alleviate poverty, Lou said.

"The bank can cooperate with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank on joint financing," he said.
AIIB 
november 2017
Australia to Join Regional Development Bank Led by China - The New York Times
The office of Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement that Australia still had concerns about the management of the bank but recognized the pressing needs for infrastructure in Asia. The decision will allow Australia to “participate as a prospective founding member in negotiations to set up the bank,” the statement said.But as allies including Britain and then France, Italy and Germany announced plans to join the bank this month, Australia — which counts China as its biggest trading partner — came under increased pressure to sign on. South Korea, another major trading partner with China, said last week that it would join the Beijing-based bank, reversing its decision last year to go along with the United States’ requests that major Asian allies stay aloof from the plan.
AIIB 
november 2017
With Plan to Join China-Led Bank, Britain Opens Door for Others - The New York Times
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government decided against Australian membership late last year, citing national security considerations. In the weeks leading up to that decision, Mr. Obama spoke to Mr. Abbott and urged him against joining, a senior member of the Australian government said. Recently, however, the government has indicated that it is reconsidering.
AIIB 
november 2017
AIIB: China outsmarts US diplomacy on Asia bank
Australia's mistake, under recent governments both Labor and Coalition, has been to assume that Washington knew what it was doing and had a credible strategy to respond to China's rise. Hopefully they now know better as well. The lesson of all this is that Washington needs to think anew about its response to China's rise, and we in Australia need to start thinking for ourselves about it, and stop looking to Washington for answers.
AIIB 
november 2017
Obama’s State of the Union 2015 Transcript (Full Text) and Video - The New York Times
But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and our businesses at a disadvantage.

Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field.
AIIB 
november 2017
Stampede to Join China’s Development Bank Stuns Even Its Founder - The New York Times
The last-minute surge to join the bank was considered a major victory for China in a rare public showdown with the United States, which opposed the bank, as the two powers try to outmaneuver each other for influence in Asia. It was also a recognition of economic reality. China has deep pockets, and the institutions backed by the United States have not met the growing demands for roads, railroads and pipelines in Asia.
Continue reading the main story

American officials seem to see the new institution as an effort to undercut the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, international financial institutions dominated by the United States and Japan. Obama administration officials have also expressed concern that the new bank, under China’s leadership, would ignore lending protections created to ensure, for instance, that vulnerable populations are not pushed from their land in the rush for development.
AIIB 
november 2017
A special argument: The U.S., U.K., and the AIIB
The Obama administration has been widely criticized for its response to China’s initiative. After years of calling on China to take more responsibility in global affairs, the United States is now perceived as opposing the AIIB tooth and nail. The administration has responded that they do not oppose its creation per se, but have serious concerns that it will not meet governance standards of other institutions, especially on anti-corruption and environmental grounds. However, many of America’s allies and partners have claimed that U.S. diplomacy has followed a very different track by lobbying hard against membership regardless of what assurances are given.

The U.S. approach to the AIIB has been confused and contradictory. There is also little doubt that the public rebuke by the White House of the U.K. was ill-advised. It resurrects the perception that the United States is opposed to the AIIB on principle, and not just if it is designed badly. It also suggests that all concerns about the AIIB are driven by the United States, when in fact many Asian democracies also worry about the governance standards. So, in the coming days, the Obama administration will take some criticism, much of it merited, for its approach. Hopefully, it will result in more coherent and effective economic diplomacy.
AIIB 
november 2017
An Influential Voice Slams U.S. Handling of New China-Led Infrastructure Bank - China Real Time Report - WSJ
“After the Obama administration pressured allies and partners not to join, it seemed to drop the ball,” he says. Close U.S. allies such as Australia and South Korea, which refrained from joining the AIIB under U.S. pressure, actually have been “disadvantaged” by their loyalty. Most likely, these and other countries in the Asia-Pacific will switch course and join the AIIB in due time.
AIIB 
november 2017
How Europe and U.S. stumbled into spat over China-led bank
“We have decided to become the first major western nation to be a prospective founding member of the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, because we think you should be present at the creation of these new international institutions,” he said after rebuffing a telephone plea from U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to hold off.

China’s official Xinhua news agency reflected Beijing’s delight.

“The joining of Germany, France, Italy as well as Britain, the AIIB’s maiden G7 member and a seasoned ally, has opened a decisive crack in the anti-AIIB front forged by America,” it said in a commentary.

“Sour grapes over the AIIB makes America look isolated and hypocritical,” it said.
Lew gave a blunt assessment last week, telling U.S. lawmakers: “It’s not an accident that emerging economies are looking at other places because they are frustrated that, frankly, the United States has stalled a very mild and reasonable set of reforms in the IMF.”

In Washington, the issue resided between the State Department, the Treasury and the White House National Security Council, which may have muddied U.S. communication with European allies, officials say.

“There just wasn’t a clear and coherent and unified message on this from the beginning. It kind of languished for a while in a state of indecision and that produced the outcome that you’ve seen,” said a Congressional source familiar with the discussions.
AIIB 
november 2017
U.S. urges "high standards" for Asian infrastructure bank - Xinhua | English.news.cn
State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki reiterated U.S. position in her comment on Britain's application a day earlier to join the AIIB as a founding member, a move Washington had reportedly complained about being taken with "virtually no consultation with the U.S."

"This is a sovereign decision made by the United Kingdom," Psaki told reporters at a daily news briefing. "We hope and expect that the United Kingdom will use its voice to push for the adoption of high standards."

"The United States and many major global economies all agree there is a pressing need to enhance infrastructure investment around," she said. "We believe any new multilateral institution should incorporate the high standards of the World Bank and the regional development banks."

"Based on many discussions, we have concerns about whether AIIB will meet these high standards, particularly related to governance and environmental and social safeguards," she added.
november 2017
UK move to join AIIB meets mixed response in China
However, British officials have refuted White House claims that the decision to sign up to the AIIB was taken with little consultation, pointing out that it was discussed over many weeks at the G7 level. They say Britain had to precipitate its decision because of the approaching May general election and the so-called “purdah” period that precedes it, that limits the scope for new government decisions.

The official British explanation is that the UK wants to make sure the AIIB is transparent, ethical, environmentally sound with good governance structures. However, there is a wider strategic objective for Britain: becoming a first-mover in the new venture will help to cement ties with Beijing.
AIIB 
november 2017
UK move to join China-led bank a surprise even to Beijing
Several people involved in negotiations over the AIIB say Britain joined the bank despite opposition from the Foreign Office in a decision taken by Prime Minister David Cameron on the advice of the Chancellor George Osborne.
AIIB 
november 2017
U.S. Looks to Work With China-Led Infrastructure Fund; Obama administration proposes co-financing projects with new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank - ProQuest
The U.S. suffered a diplomatic embarrassment last week after several of its key European allies publicly rebuffed Washington's pleas to snub Beijing's invitations to join the bank and instead said they would be founding members.

Backing the new bank through co-financing could also help the U.S. move past the diplomatic mess, reunite with its trans-Atlantic allies on this issue and counter any perceptions that the U.S. is wholly opposed to the institution as part of a China-containment strategy.

"Our concern has always been...will it adhere to the kinds of high standards that the international financial institutions have developed?" U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told U.S. lawmakers last week.
november 2017
Japan denies plan to join China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Business News & Top Stories - The Straits Times
"Japan is dubious about whether (the AIIB) would be properly governed or whether it would damage other creditors," Suga said. Japan is a key player in the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which would be a rival. "Anyway, I think it's impossible for Japan to take part today," the government's top spokesman said, adding that Tokyo would work together with Washington, its top ally, and other countries to ask Beijing for clarification.
AIIB 
november 2017
US anger at Britain joining Chinese-led investment bank AIIB | US news | The Guardian
In its statement to the Guardian, the White House national security council said: “Our position on the AIIB remains clear and consistent. The United States and many major global economies all agree there is a pressing need to enhance infrastructure investment around the world. We believe any new multilateral institution should incorporate the high standards of the World Bank and the regional development banks.

“Based on many discussions, we have concerns about whether the AIIB will meet these high standards, particularly related to governance, and environmental and social safeguards … The international community has a stake in seeing the AIIB complement the existing architecture, and to work effectively alongside the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.”
AIIB 
november 2017
UK-China trade bromance a blow to White House - Mar. 13, 2015
Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told CNNMoney that the administration has "concerns" over whether the AIIB will meet "high standards, particularly related to governance, and environmental and social safeguards." He added, "This is the UK's sovereign decision. We hope and expect that the U.K. will use its voice to push for adoption of high standards."
AIIB 
november 2017
On the Road with Trump in Asia: Day One, Tokyo | ChinaFile
What now seems to be getting challenged is the very idea of old-style “engagement.” There’s been a persistent idea over the last several decades that if the United States stuck with and embraced China, allowed it into the World Trade Organization, included it in the rules-based Western order, exchanged hundreds of thousands of students, invited more Chinese sports teams, ballet companies, orchestras etc. to perform, China would slowly become appreciative, more like us, more congenial, and less disruptive of the existing world order, as so-called “stake holders” that wanted to fit. In many ways that has not happened, and I think this idea doesn’t have as much hold on this current administration. At the same time, the attitude of the American public at large also seems to be slowly changing; the notion that animated the last few decades that the U.S. and China were on slowly converging, rather than diverging, trajectories, is no longer credible. The Chinese have been increasingly assertive, aggressive, and even provocative, and I think we are now seeing some blowback. This is all the more true after the 19th Party Congress and Xi’s declaration that we are in a “new era” where the U.S. is in decline and “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is in ascendancy. And, there now seems to be a growing sentiment, inside the Trump administration as well, that we have hit an inflection point, that it would be dangerous to continue to allow ourselves to be “played,” whether in trade, investment, cultural exchange, or military cooperation, by Beijing. I think this Asia trip will be a test of what kind of an inflection point we are actually now at with China, and what response is best suited of this “new era.”
ChinaResearch 
november 2017
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