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Current Topic: International Relations

Party Like It's 1989 - By Perry Link | Foreign Policy
Topic: International Relations 10:52 am EDT, Jun  5, 2012

Why China's post-Tiananmen political model is running out of steam.

This is a good read on Chinese internal politics.

Party Like It's 1989 - By Perry Link | Foreign Policy

China’s Forthcoming Political Transition
Topic: International Relations 6:46 pm EST, Feb  9, 2012

When this transition is complete, the United States will confront a sea of new faces in China. These new leaders will steer the country through some of its biggest challenges, which could include major political reform. The next 10 to 15 years will be a turbulent period in China, and these new leaders will determine how that turbulence will evolve and how it will impact U.S.-China relations. This issue brief looks at the reasons why this political transition matters so much to our nation, the challenges and divides the new party leadership will have to navigate, and what U.S. policymakers should do as these new leaders react to the rough waters ahead.

Within the party, there is an increasingly visible left/right ideological divide over how to handle these new challenges. On the left the pro-egalitarianism, pro-Mao cadres support a strengthening of China’s socialist roots. On the right the pro-reform cadres support more opening up through administrative transparency, political diversity, and public participation.

Overall, China is becoming increasingly diverse, and we must be aware of these growing divides. U.S. policymakers must develop a better understanding of where individual Chinese leaders, agencies, and regions stand on critical bilateral issues. Approaching China without that understanding would be like approaching the United States without knowing the U.S. Democrat/Republican party divides—it could easily lead to major foreign policy miscalculations.

Just like in the United States, different Chinese leaders may send different signals, and that will make it difficult for the United States to correctly predict which way the country will go unless we also understand what those differences mean inside China. When the United States applies political pressure—on trade, human rights, or any other bilateral issue—we must fully understand China’s divides and, when possible, calibrate U.S. foreign policy to push internal debates in our favor.

China’s Forthcoming Political Transition

Hoder sentenced to 19 years prison
Topic: International Relations 3:11 pm EDT, Sep 28, 2010

Iranian-Canadian Hossein Derakhshan, 35, was a controversial figure among Iran's blogging community. Writing his blog from Canada, he was initially a critic of Iran's clerical leadership, and in 2006 he visited Israel - Iran's archenemy - saying he wanted to act as a bridge between the two countries' peoples.

But he later became a vocal supporter of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, praising him for standing up to the West and criticizing regime opponents. Derakhshan then visited Iran in 2008 and was arrested. Over the next two years, he was often held without communication with family or lawyers, according to rights groups.

The court sentenced him to 19 1/2 years in prison, the report said, adding that Derakhshan can appeal. It was unclear if he would benefit from time served.

Derakhshan helped ignite blogging in Iran by posting simple instructions online on how to create sites in Farsi in 2001. The flourishing of blogs by Iranians at home and abroad that resulted gave the country's reform movement an online platform that has helped it survive heavy crackdowns at home - though authorities tried to block many, including Derakhshan's.

His later embrace of Ahmadinejad angered many reform bloggers. Before returning to Iran, Derakhshan on his blog dismissed worries he could be arrested for his previous writings.

Decius and I sat on a panel with Hoder several years ago. To say some of his positions angered people would be putting it lightly. However, I was still quite dismayed when he was arrested.

19 1/2 years in jail is definitely excessive, but it's way better than the death sentence the prosecution was pushing for. Hopefully the political climate in Iran changes, and he can be freed...

Hoder sentenced to 19 years prison

UN 'to appoint space ambassador to greet alien visitors' - Telegraph
Topic: International Relations 11:34 am EDT, Sep 27, 2010

Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist, is set to be tasked with co-ordinating humanity’s response if and when extraterrestrials make contact.

Aliens who landed on earth and asked: “Take me to your leader” would be directed to Mrs Othman.

I'm sure glad to know we are prepared...

UN 'to appoint space ambassador to greet alien visitors' - Telegraph

WikiLeaks and the Afghan War | STRATFOR
Topic: International Relations 3:47 pm EDT, Jul 27, 2010

The WikiLeaks, from what we have seen so far, detail power, interest and reality as we have known it. They do not reveal a new reality. Much will be made about the shocking truth that has been shown, which, as mentioned above, shocks only those who wish to be shocked. The Afghan war is about an insufficient American and allied force fighting a capable enemy on its home ground and a Pakistan positioning itself for the inevitable outcome. The WikiLeaks contain all the details.

WikiLeaks and the Afghan War | STRATFOR

Korean Esclation?
Topic: International Relations 10:00 am EDT, May 27, 2009

It appears the 1953 armistice might be toast. According to Stratfor, the DPRK is increasing naval exercises in the Yellow Sea and South Korea is responding by deploying destroyers along areas claimed by North Korea. Odds are that NKorea is going to try to send out a naval shipment. They have been sending messages out stating that any efforts to board it's vessels will be met with a military attack.

This could get bad quickly...

Venezuela to give island to New Jersey -
Topic: International Relations 7:56 pm EDT, Apr 23, 2009

Venezuela will give a 300-acre island in the Delaware River to the state of New Jersey, the governor's office announced.

The Venezuelan-owned Citgo Petroleum Corp. had bought Petty's Island -- between Camden, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- to use as a fuel storage facility.

The island is home to a pair of American bald eagles as well as several great blue herons and state-endangered black-crowned night herons, New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine said in a news release Wednesday.

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez announced the island's transfer as part of Wednesday's Earth Day celebrations. Plans are being finalized for the transition, which will not occur before 2020, Corzine's office said.

Activities on the island will be limited to hiking and bicycle riding, the governor's office said.


Venezuela to give island to New Jersey -

The Dangerous Road Ahead
Topic: International Relations 9:20 pm EST, Feb 13, 2009

Robert Levine, former deputy director at CBO:

The macroeconomic perils faced by the global economy are deeper and likely to last longer than those presented by the current financial crisis.

In most macroeconomic crises, the worst case -- depression or inflation -- is fairly clear, and modern policymakers have the tools at hand to cope. The worst case now may be both -- stagflation.

The following analysis begins with the Great Depression, then examines five subsequent periods. The final section makes some policy suggestions for escaping the worst effects. The conclusions are not optimistic.

The Great Depression brought the New Deal to the United States. It brought the rest of the world Nazism and universal war. This time, though, many nations have nuclear weapons.

"Maybe we could" is the limit of optimism in this paper. The world ahead looks difficult.

From 2005, Freeman Dyson:

It's very important that we adapt to the world on the long-time scale as well as the short-time scale. Ethics are the art of doing that. You must have principles that you're willing to die for.

From 2006, John Rapley:

As states recede and the new mediaevalism advances, the outside world is destined to move increasingly beyond the control -- and even the understanding -- of the new Rome. The globe's variegated informal and quasi-informal statelike activities will continue to expand, as will the power and reach of those who live by them. The new Romans, like the old, might not enjoy the consequences.

From 2008, Nir Rosen:

"You Westerners have your watches," the leader observed. "But we Taliban have time."

From last week:

A Pakistani court freed one of the most successful nuclear proliferators in history, Abdul Qadeer Khan, from house arrest on Friday, lifting the restrictions imposed on him since 2004 when he publicly confessed to running an illicit nuclear network.

The Dangerous Road Ahead

Think Progress » Sarkozy to Putin: ‘Do you want to end up like Bush?’
Topic: International Relations 1:04 pm EST, Nov 14, 2008

From ThinkProgress:

The London Times’ Charles Bremner has identified one positive aspect of President Bush’s foreign policy legacy:

With Russian tanks only 30 miles from Tbilisi on August 12, Mr. Sarkozy told Mr. Putin that the world would not accept the overthrow of Georgia’s Government. According to [Sarkozy’s chief diplomatic adviser, Jean-David] Levitte, the Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. “I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Mr. Putin declared.

Mr. Sarkozy thought he had misheard. “Hang him?” — he asked. “Why not?” Mr. Putin replied. “The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.”

Mr. Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: “Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?” Mr. Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: “Ah — you have scored a point there.”

Fear of “ending up like Bush” now functions as a deterrent.

Think Progress » Sarkozy to Putin: ‘Do you want to end up like Bush?’

Stratfor Presidential Debate Foreign Policy Series
Topic: International Relations 4:41 pm EDT, Sep 25, 2008

StratFor is running a free series of article running up to the presidential debate taking place on Friday (after McCain finishes his nap).

We have no wish to advise you how to vote. That’s your decision. What we want to do is try to describe what the world will look like to the new president and consider how each candidate is likely to respond to the world. In trying to consider whether to vote for John McCain or Barack Obama, it is obviously necessary to consider their stands on foreign policy issues. But we have to be cautious about campaign assertions. Kennedy claimed that the Soviets had achieved superiority in missiles over the United States, knowing full well that there was no missile gap. Johnson attacked Barry Goldwater for wanting to escalate the war in Vietnam at the same time he was planning an escalation. Nixon won the 1968 presidential election by claiming that he had a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. What a candidate says is not always an indicator of what the candidate is thinking.

In order to try to draw this presidential campaign into some degree of focus on foreign policy, we will proceed in three steps. First, we will try to outline the foreign policy issues that we think will confront the new president, with the understanding that history might well throw in a surprise. Second, we will sketch the traditions and positions of both Obama and McCain to try to predict how they would respond to these events. Finally, after the foreign policy debate is over, we will try to analyze what they actually said within the framework we created.

The first part lays out the issues facing the next president:

* The Post 9/11 World
* A Stabilized Iraq and the U.S. Troop Dilemma
* The Nuclear Chip and a Stable U.S.-Iranian Understanding
* Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Taliban
* The Russian Resurgence
* European Disunity and Military Weakness
* Israel, Turkey, China, and Latin America
* The U.S. Defense Budget

Part two focuses on Obama.

Part three focuses on McCain.

These were the questions they suggested posing to the canidates:

1. If the United States removes its forces from Iraq slowly as both of you advocate, where will the troops come from to deal with Afghanistan and protect allies in the former Soviet Union?
2. The Russians sent 120,000 troops to Afghanistan and failed to pacify the country. How many troops do you think are necessary?
3. Do you believe al Qaeda prime is still active and worth pursuing?
4. Do you believe the Iranians are capable of producing a deliverable nuclear weapon during your term in office?
5. How do you plan to persuade the Pakistani government to go after the Taliban, and what support can you provide them if they do?
6. Do you believe the United States should station troops in the Baltic states, in Ukraine and Georgia as well as in other friendly countries to protect them from Russia?
7. Do you feel that NATO remains a viable alliance, and are the Europeans carrying enough of the burden?
8. Do you believe that Mexico represents a national security issue for the United States?
9. Do you believe that China represents a strategic challenge to the United States?
10. Do you feel that there has been tension between the United States and Israel over the Georgia issue?

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