Posts Tagged ‘Editorial’
With academics and a lot of other things consuming my time, I’ve spent less time caring about the 2012 US elections. Myself aside, international support for Obama doesn’t seem to be significantly lower than in 2008. If the world were the electorate, it seems likely that Obama would have been elected in a much greater landslide.But though the results are the same, 2008 and 2012 differ in one massive way: The reason. In 2008, there was genuine support and enthusiasm for Obama internationally. This was reflected by his overseas trips that did much to help Obama build up his brand. 4 years on, it was understandable given the domestic situation that Obama would be less focused on foreign affairs. But it was also notable that direct support and enthusiasm for Obama was much lower. It wasn’t that people didn’t want Obama to win, but rather than they were less likely to support him directly. The 2012 support stemmed more from a general dislike of the Republican candidate, or candidates.
This might well have been the unfortunate result of Obama’s own doing. His rock-star status and breath-of-fresh-air-appeal in 2008 created some very high expectations of how he would perform. Once in the White House, reality struck, limiting his capacity to do many of the things had argued for. The Arab Spring, the rising tensions in Asia and Europe’s slow disintegration probably didn’t help the case.
As it stands, though non-Americans are happy for Obama’s re-election, there is doubtlessly less enthusiasm for his presidency. Not that it really matters, given that the events on the ground are forcing Obama to ‘pivot’ to domestic issues.
Here’s Dr. Wei Hongxia, “visiting scholar with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace”, discussing three very relevant changes in China that could well shape how the next 10 years play out under new leadership: Chinese political culture, Chinese civil society and Chinese foreign policy.
Observers have noted that the scale and the scope of the coming changes are likely to be widest in China’s three most important leadership bodies: The Party, the government and the military. It’s believed that the coming changes will see roughly two-thirds of the existing membership replaced by newcomers. These newcomers will largely account for many of the leading positions in China’s political, economic and ideological administrations, and provincial, foreign policy, public security and military operations after the upcoming 18th Party Congress and the 12th National People’s Congress in the Spring of 2013. In general, this new generation of leaders is more diverse in their educational, professional and economic backgrounds. Most are better educated than their predecessors and some even have diplomas from foreign institutions. Some of them have been chosen through competition, some through recommendations and some have gradually risen through the ranks. They are also more cosmopolitan in their worldviews and policy choices than their predecessors. Their backgrounds are more complex, representing different interest groups within China.
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An interesting 5 point test on whether to invoke the Responsibility to Protect, presented by Gareth Evans, Australia’s foreign minister for eight years in his Project Syndicate article.
- “The first criterion is the potential harm to civilians: is the threat of a type and scale that prima facie justifies the use of force?”
- “Whether the primary purpose of any proposed military action is to halt or avert the threat to civilians”
- “The issue of last resort: has every non-military option been explored and found unlikely to succeed?”
- “Proportional means: are the scale, duration, and intensity of the proposed military action the minimum necessary to meet the threat in question?”
- “The final, and ultimately the most crucial, criterion for intervention is the balance of consequences: will military intervention do more harm than good?”
The 2012 edition of the annual Atlantic College Model United Nations conference was hosted last weekend. Since I was organizing the conference, I wasn’t able to spend as much time in committee as I wanted to. Though on Saturday I got a full dose as I ended up co-chairing the Crisis committee. We simulated Iran closing the Strait of Hormuz (thanks RCNMUN 2012) and I realized in the process of making the news articles the evening before that the situation wasn’t that stimulative as one might have thought. It mostly consisted of copying and pasting a news article and changing words like threaten to have. That was all it took. A few word changes and the world could be up in smokes. What if a real news aggregator mistyped or accidentally sent out the news that Iran had closed the Strait of Hormuz?
The crisis committee itself was fun. I ended up creating a few extra news reports than I had anticipated. I had some other stuff to sort out after lunch, but I did go back to the crisis committee about half an hour before it finished, and ended up being North Korea, introduced a few ‘interesting’ clauses and then headed off to the closing ceremony. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a crisis committee (the simulation sort, not the ‘we only knew about the topic today’ sort) so not a bad first introduction overall.
One of the most balanced and reasonable articles I have read on China.org for a long time, commenting on the educational systems in China and the US.
Learning to be more like each other
By Ma Yingyi, January 23, 2012
Today, we are faced with the fascinating paradox which sees Chinese students flocking to American schools and universities in the belief that the American education system is superior; whilst American educators and the public deplore the problems with their own education system and are looking to China in order to seek a better education for their children. This search is principally a result of the considerably higher test scores of Chinese students in international assessments.
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If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day.
If you teach a man to fish, he can always eat.
The general response to instances of famine is just to hand out food so people don’t die. That was largely my perception and I wasn’t aware of that fact until I read Sam Dryden’s opinion piece at Project Syndicate.
In it, he makes the case that our response to famine shouldn’t just be handing out more food aid. That is certainly important, but a long term response is also needed to bolster the food security of farmers who rely on sustenance agriculture so that when similarly problematic conditions occur in the future, food security is improved and famine is less likely to occur.
I think Sam makes a valid point and certainly one that never occurred to me.
Full article below:
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I’m a big fan of Obama’s latest attempt to gain the higher ground – The American Jobs Act. It is certainly a far cry from the caving and conceding he did on a large scale in previous negotiations with Republicans.
Let’s face it. Republicans just aren’t going to agree with Obama. It’s commendable that he has tried, offered compromise, even considered major entitlement changes, (although many of us consider it one to many tries) to get Republicans to agree to a compromise. He’s be rebuffed time and time again.
Thankfully, he’s finally grown a backbone and had the balls to challenge the Republicans. Polls show that a majority of voters agree with many of his proposals. So he’s got the public vote. Of course, that doesn’t make things sail through a Republican controlled House, but that should give him a good enough reason to stand his ground.
Touching entitlements might be opposed, but Republicans are going to be pushing for it anyways so they can just look bad. Raising taxes on high-income individuals is a political no-brainer and economically smart. Just as Boehner was trying to bin the idea of any tax increases, Obama dared to threaten to “veto any bill that takes one dime from the Medicare benefits seniors rely on without asking the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.” Go Obama!
The American Jobs Act largely contains good ideas. Now we just need Obama to stand behind his own proposals and not to capitulate the next time Republicans show-up.