Monday, August 27

Worth reading, if you can, maybe

  • The new issue of Foreign Affairs is out, for those with institutional subscriptions or free time at a bookstore. In it, Rudy Giuliani presents his foreign policy plan, which boils down to saying "9/11" and "terrorism" as often as possible. John Edwards offers his, which, while far more sensible, essentially boils down to saying "reengagement" as often as possible. Most of the other articles are serious and rather dull statements of the obvious: China presents a lot of environmental challenges; Iraq teaches us that we need responsible people in charge of foreign policy; Congress is more likely to oppose the President's war policy when the opposition is in control; nuclear weapons are bad. Shocking revelations, all. The most interesting piece is probably Michael Mazarr's overview of the evolution of the Bush administration's foreign policy on North Korea, not that we needed another reason to hate Cheney and Rumsfeld. Also, the Center for Global Development's Michael Clemens reviews Paul Collier's new book, the Bottom Billion. Pretty much the same review - comparing Collier to fellow economists Jeff Sachs and Bill Easterly - as has already appeared several times in other publications, but this one's at least as good as the others, and goes into more depth on the book's prescriptive shortcomings, in addition to the usual praise of Collier's more nuanced assessment of the causes of poverty.
  • The new issue of Foreign Policy, FA's slimmer, glossier and more colorful cousin, is also out, and I must say, a little more interesting. Also needs a subscription, but worth flipping through if you see a copy. Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, presents a sharp but reasoned critique of the war on drugs. Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich has an interesting preview of his new book, arguing that we're losing the balance between democracy and capitalism, and that capitalism's use is to increase the economic pie, not to find moral solutions (an idea which can also serve as a critique of Good magazine, profiled elsewhere in the issue). New York Times journalist Tim Weiner suggests how we can get better spies. Jane Loeffler looks at the plans for the new American embassy in Baghdad, which follows - and expands on - the trend of turning our embassies into fortresses. It will be ten times bigger than the already-massive embassy in Beijing, and will put our castle here in Nairobi to shame. There's also the latest installment of the terrorism index, where foreign policy experts share their wisdom, telling us that we're not winning the war on terror, and that the "surge" isn't working.
  • Also, the New Yorker's Adam Gopnik takes a look at the start of the Nicolas Sarkozy regime. I'm a long way from becoming a fan of Sarkozy, but he hasn't done anything too terrible yet, and I must say he has been fascinating, which is more than you can say of most leaders.
  • And the New York Times' Eduardo Porter, informs us that robber-barons are alive and well in Mexico.

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