Archive for December 22, 2009

NYT: ‘Thank You, South Carolina’

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

political scandals and sustained media scrutiny, 2009 was the Year of South Carolina. Consider Mr. Shapiro’s list: at the top was “Keep your government hands off my Medicare,” a line delivered by a town-hall attendee in Simpsonville. (The state’s health-care town halls were among the nation’s rowdiest.) The second entry, “You lie!,” was shouted at President Obama by Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina during the president’s address to Congress; it, too, concerned health care. And the third, “The governor is hiking the Appalachian Trail,” was declared (perhaps wishfully) by a spokesman for South Carolina’s governor, Mark Sanford, who was actually in Argentina conducting an extramarital affair.

Yes, in 2009 Nevada had Senator John Ensign’s scandal and Alaska had Gov. Sarah Palin’s unexpected resignation. But it is anyone’s guess the last time South Carolina stole the national spotlight so freque

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NYT: A New Approach to Organ Donati

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Organ transplantation must abide by the so-called dead-donor rule: a person has to be declared dead before any vital organs can be removed. Yet organs have to be alive if there is any hope of successful transfer to a recipient. Medical professionals have handled this paradoxical situation – finding a dead body with live organs – by fashioning a category of people with beating hearts who are said to be brain-dead, usually after a traumatic head injury, and who are considered just as dead as if they had rigor morti

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NYT: Blogs – Idea of the Day – What’s Your

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment
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lazy American students.

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

“C,’’ “D,’’ and “F’’ students this semester are almost exclusively American, while my students from India, China, and Latin America have – despite language barriers – generally written solid papers, excelled on exams, and become valuable class participants.…

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Nepali Prime Minister to visit China – People’s Daily Online

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

China announced that Nepal’s prime minister will pay an official five-day visit to China ( ( starting Saturday, at the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao. The invitation and visit should be seen in the context of Nepal’s recent political instability, which has exacerbated the Sino-Indian rivalry over the country

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World Politics Review: The New Rules: Neocons are Alive and Kicking

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

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The New Rules: Neocons are Alive and Kicking
By: Thomas P.M. Barnett

If you thought the neocons were vanquished, disappearing along with the
Bush-Cheney administration, better think again. Their mindset still
animates most of what the GOP offers in opposition to President Barack
Obama’s magical apology tour. For while the president won a Nobel Peace
Prize for his heartfelt mea maxima culpa, Charles Krauthammer & Co. see no reason ( to surrender America’s two-decades-and-counting “era of
maximum dominance” to the Chinese simply because Beijing holds the pink
slip on our national economy.

First, some details.

the heart of this struggle lie two diametrically opposed views of
today’s world: one that accepts globalization as the all-powerful
shaper of human destiny, and one that does not, thereby leaving open
the “choice” of primacy, in Krauthammer’s vernacular. For Obama,
globalization is an inescapable condition of profound interdependency
— the destroyer of zero-sum competition. But for Republican hawks,
globalization is nothing more than the next playing field upon which
fierce great-power competition and conflicts will unfold. In the minds
of these “true realists,” globalization has, to date, failed to change
human nature. As a result, its perceived interdependencies amount to
nothing in the face of determined ideologues — themselves included.

historical ironies here are rich. The neocons, who previously were the
most triumphant revelers in America’s decades-long role as bodyguard to
freedom’s advance, now express the most frantic Hobbesian fears about
what globalization has unleashed. Meanwhile, the normally homebody
Dems, as now embodied in the Kant-like calm of Obama, seem to absorb
all these challenges as natural outcomes of America’s recent success in
accelerating globalization’s expansion — that serene
Roosevelt-cum-Clinton-cum-Obama belief ( ( in America’s
dealmaking acumen.

To simply ascribe the difference to the
right’s “hard-headed” realism and the left’s “woolly headed” idealism
obscures the historical record. With no great-power war in over six
decades, and classic state-on-state war virtually eradicated, we are
now left with the weeds of civil strife — and the terror groups they
spawn — spread across a host of fake states cynically left behind by
Europe’s 20th-century colonial powers. This is the proverbial hill of
beans in a world that’s seen global GDP increase approximately six-fold
over the past three decades! As for the dawning era of
“hyper-proliferation” that Krauthammer decries, we’re still dealing
with a whopping total of two emerging nuclear states (North Korea and
Iran), the first since Israel (no. 6), India (no. 7) and Pakistan (no.
8) began knocking on that door in the latter half of the Cold War.

on a per capita basis, humanity now enjoys the most peaceful and
prosperous period in its entire history. FDR’s “New Deal for the world”
morphed into the post-World War II international liberal trade order,
which in turn begat the free West, the global economy, and ultimately
this thing of ours called globalization, with its frightening subtext
of civilizational miscegenation — aka, Americanization. Slap Obama’s
multiracial face on this package and, buddy, it doesn’t get any better
than this.

So why is the Republican right, and the
still-sizeable chunk of America that it represents, so scared about
arriving at this point in history?

First, globalization has
clearly grown beyond our ability to control it — just like the
Internet. And turning to our European friends for a presumed “great
power quorum” simply no longer works, as evidenced by the recent global
financial crisis. Thus we are forced to either seek new partnerships
from among old enemies, or continue trying to go it largely alone.

as we instinctively continue playing bodyguard to globalization’s
advance, our many instruments of national security are inevitably drawn
into all manner of broken states and off-grid neighborhoods, because
that’s where rising Asia’s ravenous resource demands are driving
globalization’s further expansion. To tread this virtuous path requires
accepting the task of nation-building — pure and simple. This is
counterinsurgency writ large: the protection of population centers the
(underdeveloped) world over, which is necessarily a manpower-intensive

Now we get to the neocons’ underlying fear. America’s
continued success is intrinsically tied to China’s
successful rise — less so in its glacially paced democratization than
in its stepping up to assume more burden-sharing in the security realm.
China has long avoided any such responsibilities by free-riding on
America’s efforts, in the same way its currency remains pegged to our

Obama must spell out to Beijing the limits of America’s
willingness to safeguard the developing world for China’s mercantilist
resource-plundering strategies. And, quite frankly, Afghanistan is a
great place to start, thanks to China’s recent $3.5 billion investment
in one of the world’s last-remaining unexploited copper reserves. My
guess is that, sometime just before his re-election effort, Obama will
quietly deliver the following message to the Chinese: “I’ve held this
line for as long as I can. Now it’s your turn to bodyguard yourself.”

the larger strategic sense, Obama has little interest in prematurely
forcing this path upon the Chinese, since China’s underdeveloped
capabilities would force Beijing to rely on a rapid expansion of its
cash-centric form of “state graft.” Left to their own devices, the
Chinese would simply turn much of the underdeveloped world into a sad,
carbon copy of North Korea’s nationwide slave labor camp,
self-righteously justifying such tactics as “non-interference.”

Washington also has little interest in picking up the economic
challenge of addressing China’s roughly 700 million rural poor, nor
does it wish China to implode on that basis. So all it can hope to do
is work toward gradually improving China’s performance in these fragile
states. This means — quite uncomfortably for the neocons, but less so
for the non-ideological Obama — that America must recognize and
respect its implicit, limited-liability partnership with China in
managing globalization’s further expansion and, through it, the defeat
of violent extremists standing in the way.

It’s one thing for
Republican hawks to acknowledge, to some degree, the need for
rebalancing the global economy. But it’s quite another for them to
admit to the strategic reality that any American “victory” in the war
on terror will arrive in the form of China’s successful integration of
these underdeveloped regions into the lower slots of its global
production chains. And since China is a single-party state, and is most
comfortable dealing with similarly arranged regimes, that means that
the successful stabilization of developing regions will not result in
any near-term flowering of democracy. The apparent validation of
China’s authoritarian model of capitalist development that results will
not represent the decisive victory the neocons were looking for in
their self-proclaimed “World War IV.”

This is the crux of the
right’s unease with Obama’s entire rebalancing strategy, which locks
America into accepting China’s rise both in a bilateral economic sense
and in a global political-military sense. The former cannot be
prevented, and indeed, many conservatives believe China’s growing
middle class will eventually trigger political pluralism there. But the
neocons are willing to draw a firm line with regard to the latter,
while accusing the Democrats of preemptive surrender in their effort
to rebalance America’s global security responsibilities with the
domestic need for economic regeneration — something Krauthammer
caustically labels a “retreat dividend.”

This gets us back to
the essential fear that grips neocons: No matter how you game out
America’s current strategic trajectory, the inevitable result is
increased Chinese influence over the American economy and the global
security situation. According to the neocons, we are giving the Chinese
easy access to our economy while allowing them to perfect their “soft
power” strategies throughout the developing world.

The essential
neocon solution to this undesirable future is to end America’s trade
imbalance with the world through energy independence — the quaint
dream of targeted autarky. This would theoretically allow America to
keep the dollar strong and thus maintain its role as the predominant
global reserve currency. That, in turn, would keep our debt relatively
cheap to finance and allow us to continue outspending virtually the
rest of the world on defense — the essential prerequisite to
preserving Krauthammer’s “era of maximum dominance.” Why make such an
effort? According to Krauthammer and the neocons, the world simply
isn’t ready to graduate from our Leviathan-like control over its
security system.

When can America lay down this unsustainable —
judging by our skyrocketing debt — burden? Presumably, only after all
of the world’s great powers are suitably tamed by democratic impulses.
And if our aggressive stance delays such political evolution in great
powers, particularly China, by exacerbating the widely recognized
“security dilemma”? Well, better safe than sorry, say the neocons. In
any case, in their opinion, America’s prospects for strategic
partnership with China in the developing world are decidedly limited,
primarily because of the difference in our respective political systems.

we spot the essential divide between a post-Cold War Democratic mindset
that views the world primarily in terms of economics and
interdependency, and a pre-globalization Republican mindset that
dismisses all that peace-through-trade thinking as dangerous nonsense,
still preferring to divide the world between political good guys and
bad guys, with nary a strategic economic interest to unite them.

it’s no coincidence if that delineation suggests a generational break.
That is just another aspect of the neocons’ deep fears about America’s
future, as represented by our young president’s non-ideological

Thomas P.M. Barnett is
senior managing director of Enterra Solutions LLC. His latest book is “Great Powers: America and the World After Bush (…)

” (2009). His weekly WPR column, The New Rules (../thenewrules), appears every Monday. Reach him and his blog at (

Photo: Military personnel of the Chinese engineering company of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (United Nations photo by Marie Frechon).

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