Tom Friedman gushes over the Chinese dictatorship.
Thomas Friedman has been to China again, and seems to have experienced another Lincoln Steffens moment. More than one such, in fact. In his January 10 New York Times column Tom was swooning over the new high-speed rail link between Peking and Shanghai — five hours to cover 700 miles. "By comparison, Amtrak trains require... Read More
A wasted century?
When, thirty years ago, Deng Xiaoping authorized a retreat from the Maoist command economy, he called his plan "Socialism with Chinese characteristics." After a spell of cautious experimentation, Deng's schema blossomed into the export-led, double-digit-growth Chinese economy we have become familiar with this past couple of decades. Now, with thedeepening world-wide recession, China watchers are... Read More
Those little pork pies.
The various petty deceptions that have come to light at the Beijing Olympics — the computer-generated "fireworks", the bogus "ethnic minority" dancers, the little girl who lip-synced because the kid with the voice wasn't cute enough, thesuspiciously preteen look of some of the "16-year-olds" on the gals' gymnastics squad … What's going on here? Or,... Read More
At the end of The Pickwick Papers, Samuel Pickwick decides to retire. He had founded the Pickwick Club in order to mix "with different varieties and shades of human character … Nearly the whole of my previous life having been devoted to business and the pursuit of wealth." His curiosity satisfied at last, he declares... Read More
Don't feel Chinese, don't feel American.
Two big news stories of the past few days, from places far apart, and as different as two places could possibly be, tell us useful things about the age we live in. In Lhasa, the capital city of Chinese-occupied Tibet, there were demonstrations on March 10. The Chinese authorities responded clumsily, Tibetans reacted with riots,... Read More
Thus George W. Bush, speaking to the Greater Cleveland Partnership in Ohio the other day. I groaned inwardly, reading that. It's not the first time we've heard the Japan-1945 analogy, of course. It was a favorite of Donald Rumsfeld's (remember him?) My inner reaction to it now, as then, is: "Oh, so Japan in 1945... Read More
Two cheers for the Celtic Tiger.
Ireland is midway between two elections. March 7 saw an election for the new Northern Ireland Assembly in the six counties under British rule. In the Republic of Ireland — the southern twenty-six counties, self-governing since 1922 — there is a constitutional requirement for an election this spring. The precise date will be announced by... Read More
But not the way Sir Francis Galton wanted.
To modern sensibilities there can be few documents more shocking than Sir Francis Galton's "Africa for the Chinese" letter published in the London Times of June 5, 1873. Sir Francis, a polymath and explorer, and a member of the great Darwin-Wedgwood clan, held Africans in low esteem, believing that they could not "sustain the burden... Read More
Readers of The Corner will have noticed some to-ing and fro-ing about whether we are currently in the middle of World War IV, with Norman Podhoretz's August 2004 essay on this subject much in play. Well, you know how I hate to be a party pooper, but I think this is all nuts. I do... Read More
My son is passing through that very annoying stage of development in which a child discovers that language is not so much like a solid landscape of rocks and trees, but much more like a well-equipped theater stage, fitted out with screens, doors to nowhere, trick lighting, turntables, trapdoors, and wires to lift you up... Read More
I got some pretty ill-tempered emails the other day when I pooh-poohed Ralph Peters' reporting from Iraq. Peters is a retired military man who has written a shelf-full of books about military strategy and geopolitics. I took issue with him over a column in which he sneered at U.S. reporters in Baghdad for lurking in... Read More
Just kidding there — actually, making the point that "The 'To Hell With Them' hawks" is a really clunky way of identifying a faction. It used to be said of the mathematician Camille Jordan, whose papers were famously unreadable, that if he wished to introduce four variables on the same footing, such as the average... Read More
Hey, it's an idea.
Pretty much everyone by now agrees that Iraq is a mess. The lefties and the paleos have been saying so for ages, of course. It's all the fault of Bush/Wolfie/Chalabi/Sharon. It's all about oil/revenge (i.e. on behalf of Bush Sr.)/Israel/Halliburton. You know the lines. We have now reached the stage, though, where the dank, smelly... Read More
Britain will cut a deal with the terrorists.
————————— The Britain of July 2005 is not the Spain of March 2004, either. To say the least of it, there is no general election due in Britain this weekend. There is, in fact, none to be expected for at least three years. Nor did a weak, distracted and incompetent Prime Minister immediately try to... Read More
China's present and future.
Watching the recent proceedings of China's National People's Congress — the country's legislature, if you believe China's constitution, which of course you should not — I got that sinking feeling I always get nowadays when I pay attention to Chinese affairs. Hearing the Communist Party hacks droning on about "safeguarding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity"... Read More
About the Middle East.
This has been a bad few weeks for us pessimists. I can say this with more equanimity than most, having supported the Iraq War. (After first opining that we didn't really have the guts to do it — What do you want? I'm a p-e-s-s-i-m-i-s-t.) I supported the war only as a punitive expedition, though,... Read More
There is something I want to say to my NR/NRO colleagues. Also, come to think of it, to the President of the United States and his cabinet. Have you all taken leave of your senses? Sorry, sorry. Let me back up a little and calm down. For nearly two years my paleocon friends have been... Read More
The Turks, that is, into the EU.
Should Turkey be admitted to the European Union? This month has seen some fine arguments both pro (from the London Spectator) and con (from Steve Sailer). Read 'em and ponder. Personally, I hadn't been giving the matter more than idle thought until I recently heard from my brother in England that his son, my nephew,... Read More
People of Iraq! I am George W. Bush, President and also President-Elect of the United States of America. In last week's elections, the citizens of my country asked me to continue as Chief Executive of our federal government, according to our Constitution and laws, and I shall hold this position, God willing, until January of... Read More
Fareed Zakaria had a piece in last week's Newsweek arguing that, in his own words: Zakaria then goes on to suggest that: "Perhaps Iraq would have been a disaster no matter what. But there's a thinly veiled racism behind such views, implying that Iraqis are savages genetically disposed to produce chaos and anarchy." This smacks... Read More
The show trial of Saddam Hussein.
The appearance of Saddam Hussein before an Iraqi judge the other day illustrated a number of things. It illustrated, for example, the truth that a bully is not always a coward. Also that the new Iraqi government (or perhaps some U.S. adviser) has savvy presentational skills: letting Saddam come to the court cleaned up and... Read More
Can Arab democracy happen?
Following the victory-but-fiasco that the British eked out in the Boer War of 1899-1902, Rudyard Kipling wrote: Now, I am not going to present an argument that Iraq is America's Boer War. I don't believe it is, even in potential. Not that there aren't some resemblances, mainly centered around the verb "to underestimate"; but we... Read More
Anybody remember Eurocommunism? It was a fad of the 1970s, in which the Communist Parties of Italy, Spain, and (though with much internal dissent) France sought to overhaul their images to appeal to a middle-class electorate. There were breaks with the USSR, reconciliations with the Catholic Church, and much talk of partnerships and coalitions. It... Read More
Saturday's presidential election in Taiwan has led to an unseemly Florida-200-type wrangle, with the losing candidate demanding the result be annulled. Incumbent President Chen Shui-bian's margin of victory was 30,000 votes out of 13 million cast; the number of spoilt ballots was nearly 340,000. There are no hanging chads in this case — the voters... Read More
That would be the folk of the Middle East
We all know, and have known since 9/11, that our country faces a threat. What kind of threat is it, though, that has brought us this War on Terror? I doubt there are many of us who think that it is the kind of threat that Britain faced from Hitler, or the Roman Republic from... Read More