In Mao’s shoes
Maintaining steady growth is the key to China’s domestic and foreign policy. There is in Chinese culture a deeply rooted pragmatism that recognizes the need for stability in order for global economic activity to flourish.
The aim of the coming century is to transform this world without destroying it. So as China takes a greater political and economic role, it is important to encourage dialogue that will lay the foundation for cooperation.
In order not to ruffle the giant’s feathers, longstanding criticisms and suspicions have had to be hushed. But playing the devil’s advocate, one might suggest that not all that glitters is gold.
What direction China takes will be largely determined by the new “fifth generation” of communist leaders, poised to take the reins of the government in 2012.
China’s naval might is expanding into the Indian and Pacific Oceans at the same time that the US is withdrawing its presence. This sets the scene for either a new military rivalry or a strategic partnership.
In order to avoid sudden shocks China has utilized a monetary policy to nurture its rapid growth, while harnessing inflation often to the detriment of its competition. Keeping a balance between the two will be crucial to its international stability.
From its beginning, Shanghai was destined to become the city that would open China to the world. In its most recent incarnation it has become a launch pad from which the swinging megalopolis exports not only goods, but a mindset driven by novelty and enterprise.
After the fall who will pick up the pieces?
Gaddafi has been in power for longer than most leaders in contemporary history. An icon of stability and tyranny, as well as the double face of international relations, he has now been swept away. What replaces him will condition the West’s agenda.
Ten months on, the Arab explosion has shown its truer – more nuanced and complicated – colors. Rather than indulge in euphoria, the West should keep in mind that the dignity that people demand cannot be equated with Western freedoms.
Anyone looking into a crystal ball to know the future of the Arab world will no doubt find the details clouded by a dust storm. Yet while people’s demands may be similar, each country poses very particular problems when it comes to implementing reforms.
Rather than implementing democracy as shock therapy, Morocco has chosen a path that first dismantles some undemocratic aspects of sharia law. In the struggle of Muhammad vs. Montesquieu, one king has set an edifying example.
The irony emerging from the revolutions is that the more Western ideals are championed, the more Western policies may be shunned. Many misconceptions will need to be shattered if a vision of democracy compatible with Islam is to take shape.
Overreaching in Afghanistan and losing cohesion in Libya, NATO is now at a point where it needs to redefine its purpose. While it may be suffering from an identity crisis, it still provides the security for which it was created.
As the Palestinians bring their case for statehood to the UN, Israel would be wise to cautiously pay heed to international opinion, especially given the precarious political climate surrounding it.
As many declare capitalism to be in its death throes, developing nations keep embracing it. This is because one thing is obvious: there is no viable alternative on the horizon. The question is whether the system’s middle-age crisis can make it wiser.
American power sprang out of debt. Now with the need to cut military spending, it is imperative that the structure of the US and her allies’ defense industries be reexamined in order to maintain their competitive edge.
Horn of Africa
All it takes is a prolonged drought to plunge East Africa into yet another famine. But add to that the ongoing civil war in Somalia and Islamic factions’ resistance to outside aid, and you get the makings of an unprecedented tragedy.
Is climate change a security issue? The debate is gaining traction in the UN, but the issue has been met with resistance, suspicion and a fair share of hypocrisy.