Entries Tagged as 'China'

Great Leap Backwards

December 2nd, 2011 at 11:00 am 20 Comments

The head of a major union lauding a model where striking gets you shot?

Lord I miss George Meaney and Lane Kirkland.

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Still Sound as a Dollar

September 23rd, 2011 at 2:32 pm 22 Comments

Conservatives nowadays routinely worry about the dollar’s strength and stability. The dollar, tadalafil however, illness refuses to cooperate. Instead, malady it lately has been rising in foreign-exchange markets, as it typically does in times of international economic and financial stress.

The dollar serves as a safe haven. Investors tend to transfer funds into dollar-denominated assets, such as U.S. Treasuries, at moments when financial markets around the world are being buffeted. This occurs even if the U.S. economy is not in good shape. As long as the dollar and dollar-denominated assets are seen as relatively safe, the dollar will tend to strengthen in times of trouble.

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The Sky is Not Falling

September 1st, 2011 at 1:03 pm 80 Comments

Michael Coren’s inaugural show of The Arena on Sun TV was a tour de force featuring author-columnist Mark Steyn, the fearless Ann Coulter, a laid-back Juan Willams and Muslim moderate Tarek Fatah.

Most provocative was Mark Steyn, who cited an International Monetary Fund prediction that China will be the world’s dominant economic power by 2015.

What’s more, Steyn seemed to believe this. Coren, as host, offered no substantial opinion but probed Steyn who, in his unique way, predicted America was evolving from “a nation of aircraft carriers to a nation of debt carriers.”

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Huntsman Jumps In!

June 20th, 2011 at 8:01 am 27 Comments

Jon Huntsman’s presidential candidacy will likely generate increased scrutiny due to both his imminent formal campaign announcement and his surprise second place-finish in the recent Republican Leadership Conference straw poll, generic in which supposed frontrunner Mitt Romney placed fifth despite an outright win last year.

Interestingly, remedy his stint during President Obama’s administration as ambassador to China has emerged as a contentious issue for partisans of both parties. Most of the criticism of Huntsman’s diplomatic service, however, has been shallow political posturing.

When the president tapped him for the ambassadorship in 2009, Huntsman had already been laying the groundwork for a potential national campaign. U.S. News and World Report described

Huntsman as the only possible Republican candidate that made Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, “a wee bit queasy.” As such, when the president appointed Huntsman to the diplomatic post little more than a week after Plouffe’s pronouncement, many saw the move as a cunning political calculation. “Brilliant,” GOP strategist Mark McKinnon remarked at the time, “Keep your friends close and your enemies in China.”

To be sure, Huntsman–  a seasoned diplomat and excellent Mandarin Chinese speaker — was very well-qualified. But as Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter later opined on the reasoning behind the appointment, “Whether Obama wants to admit it or not, when he surveyed the Republican Party for who had talent…and could potentially pose the most threat for him in 2012, believe me, Obama would prefer to run against Romney or Huckabee or Palin than against Jon Huntsman.”

It is therefore somewhat ridiculous that White House officials were supposedly “furious” at what they deemed to be Huntsman’s “audacious betrayal” in stepping down to explore a run, as reported by Politico, considering how the appointment was steeped in political considerations in the first place.

On the other side of the political spectrum, conservative blogger Erik Erickson has essentially echoed the absurd argument that Huntsman was disloyal to the president for even thinking of launching a campaign while serving as ambassador.

The fact is that as Huntsman did not actually coordinate campaign activities, he was well within his rights to muse about his future in public service. Only in a Stalinist regime could we expect public servants to be absolutely loyal to the person of the president, as opposed to their own conscience and the nation as a whole. In America, principled dissent has long been a hallmark of our democracy.

If Huntsman believes he can do a better job as president than the incumbent, then all power to him.

Of course, White House officials and the president himself have been publicly attempting to kill his candidacy with kindness. “I’m sure that him having worked so well with me,” President Obama has remarked, tongue-in-cheek, “will be a great asset in any Republican primary.” Indeed, some partisan Republicans play right into the Obama campaign’s hands and characterize Huntsman as a stooge of the president.

Huntsman, however, also served with distinction in the administrations of three Republican presidents – Ronald Reagan, H.W. Bush, and W. Bush – in addition to that of President Obama. Clearly, he takes public service seriously.

“My president asked me to serve in a time of war, in a time of economic difficulty in this country,” Huntsman commented on the subject. “I’m the kind of person, when asked by my president to stand up and serve this country…I do it. And we were honored to serve two years.”

And now that he is formally seeking the honor of serving as president himself, he has already begun to detail key differences with the incumbent on fiscal policy and the management of the war in Afghanistan.

Ultimately, regardless of whether or not either of the extremes is true and Huntsman’s time as ambassador was a case of him being supremely disloyal or slavishly loyal to President Obama, what matters to the nation is the quality of his service.

On that note, Huntsman has earned accolades for his ambassadorial tenure. Although he was “unfailingly urbane and diplomatic in public,” as The Christian Science Monitor put it, he was an aggressive advocate for US interests in China behind closed doors.

Indeed, Huntsman both charmed and unsettled the Chinese government. He was consistent in his defense for human rights, going as far as criticizing the government’s record outright in his last public speech in China as ambassador. And in a private cable to the president, he pushed for a harder stance on North Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

Huntsman, for his part, seems unfazed so far by criticism of his record in general. “It’s OK. You [have] got to be who you are and march forward,” he remarked in response to questions about the political wisdom of his policy views. “Some people will like it.” Hopefully, those people see him elected president.

China’s New Wave Nuke Plants

David Frum March 15th, 2011 at 9:13 am 3 Comments

Evan Osnos in the New Yorker on the design of China’s new generation of nuclear plants:

[H]ow do some of these Chinese plants look up close? For that, I called Andrew Kadak, a professor of nuclear science at M.I.T., who has worked closely with Chinese nuclear officials at the Daya Bay plant in Shenzhen. “I served on a safety oversight board at the Daya Bay plant, and we had free access to the facilities, including all levels of management. These are basically French-designed plants, and they were very well maintained. And our goal was to try to create a U.S.-type operating culture, and we tried to do that, and the Chinese were very receptive to that.” He went on, “The plants that are now being built have all the current state-of-the-art designs in them. The plants that failed [in Japan] were relatively old. That’s the good part. The unknown, of course, is how do you plan for a humongous earthquake and a humongous tidal wave, especially when they are situated in a place vulnerable to this kind of upset.”

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Obama Heads for Foreign Policy Disaster

David Frum September 17th, 2009 at 1:26 pm 19 Comments

Ernest Hemingway offered a memorable description of the experience of going broke: It occurs at first very slowly, then all at once. The Obama foreign policy remains as yet in the “very slowly” stage. But the ultimate destination to which it is trending has already come into sight.

AFGHANISTAN. George W. Bush took a lot of criticism for cutting taxes at the beginning of the prior administration’s wars. What are we to say about President Obama cutting military spending at the beginning of his? Senior military commanders are pressing for more troops. The civilian overseers of the Department of Defense are resisting. And Democrats in Congress are already eyeing the exits. The president initiated this commitment for campaign purposes in his candidate days, to allow him to balance hawkish themes in Afghanistan against his dovishness on Iraq. The commitment was not connected in any organic way to the rest of his foreign policy, the grand theme of which is conciliation through moral and practical concession. Nobody thinks a surge in Afghanistan is the policy he would have chosen if he had expressed his own mind back in 2007 and 2008. Nor was it supported by any effective constituency within his party. Unsurprisingly, then, it’s a commitment that the president avoids talking about—and whose costs are being massaged and messaged rather than explained and defended. This is a formula for a credibility gap down the road, and political failure a little further after that.

IRAN. Averting its eyes from the rigging of the presidential election and the suppression of dissent, the Obama administration will begin mid-level talks with Iran on Oct. 1. The Iranians have already announced that no nuclear concessions will be forthcoming. There’s good reason to believe them—they followed this same tactic in talks with Europeans in the mid-2000s, buying time for themselves as the nuclear clock ticked down. Iran is the most conspicuous and most important test of the president’s conciliation policy. On its present course, the likeliest result is the creation of a new and very dangerous nuclear state—established over only the most nominal American resistance.

EUROPE. The release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbasset al-Megrahi showed an amazing disregard of U.S. sensibilities by the governments of the United Kingdom and Scotland. Despite the affront, the Obama administration murmured only the most tepid of complaints. Likewise, the governments of France and Germany buzzed off the new president’s dubious calls for huge fiscal stimulus. So much for the restoration of cooperation supposedly achieved by Obama’s election. The cowboy Bush got worse press but better results from our European allies than the Euro-favorite Obama.

WESTERN HEMISPHERE. One of the Bush administration’s great achievements was the quiet success of Plan Colombia, which has helped pacify the Venezuelan-aided narco-insurgency in Colombia. Democrats opposed the plan at the time—and evidently haven’t learned anything from the experience. They now show amazingly little interest in the even more serious crisis of law and order in Mexico. Under Obama, the U.S. could face a threat not experienced since the very earliest days of the republic: violent instability on the nation’s border, unless this self-certain president bends enough to learn some lessons from his predecessor. But can he? Obama’s reaction to the power struggle in Honduras, admittedly a non-strategic country, reveals a depressing, knee-jerk partiality to the Latin American left-wing, even at its most anti-constitutional and authoritarian.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE. The jury is still out, but the early indications—the insertion of Buy-American provisions in the stimulus package; tariffs imposed upon Chinese tires—are disturbing to put it mildly. The Democrats’ campaign-season denunciations of NAFTA were charitably disregarded by domestic and international observers as cynical but meaningless pandering. It remains hard to believe that the sophisticated Obama can have much personal sympathy for trade protection. But what the whole world must worry about is whether a president who let Congress write his stimulus package and his health-care plan lacks the clout to tell a Democratic Congress “no” on protectionism.

ISRAEL/PALESTINE. Here, for once, the administration is exerting some muscle. But to what end? President Obama has swiftly plunged into the great time sink that so uselessly consumed the last weeks of the Clinton presidency. The U.S. is applying pressure to Israel, because Israel is susceptible to U.S. pressure, in hopes of gaining concessions from the Palestinians, who are not. The process is the diplomatic equivalent of a drunk searching for his key under the streetlamp—because it’s brighter there. The approach has never worked before, but repeated failure does not seem to have discouraged Obama from trying yet again.

Not everything that goes wrong in the world is the president’s fault, of course. Vladimir Putin’s Russia would behave aggressively no matter who was president, just as any president would confront the same unappealing range of options in Pakistan. But the very intractability of such problems makes it more important to do right what can be done right.

Despite the domestic focus of these early months of his presidency, Barack Obama thinks of himself as a foreign policy thinker above all, according to those who know him best. His confidence is undiminished by his lack of experience and credentials. That confidence continues to flourish despite a lack of positive results. Given present trends, it is unlikely to bow to lessons even from seriously negative consequences. The president is committed to his path. So, ominously, is the country.

Originally published in The Week.