Conversation with History is Back


Conversation With History is back with few months backlog of videos of interview with characteristically eminent scholars and people of insight uploaded to a refurbished site. Listened to Adam Segal’s interview yesterday, it was a great overview of the US-China-India political economy landscape, from an American perspective. Should check it out. Its layperson friendly. [Youtube=]


April Fools Obama

You know how candidate Obama though president launching war without congressional authorization was illegal?

As it turns out, Obama was wrong. Or was he?

Foreign Policy Reports:

“Apparently Obama’s lawyers told him he could do it, and he liked their advice: “Prior congressional approval was not constitutionally required to use military force in the limited operations under consideration.” We know this from the opinion drafted by U.S. Justice Department lawyers on April 1, which was publicly released on April 7, on the legality of military operations in Libya following the U.N. Security Council’s go-ahead.”

April 1st!!! Obama wasn’t wrong, his lawyers was just pulling an April fools on him.

This time United States really is declining

During the 70s and 80s, Vietnam War, the oil check, economic stagnation and the supposedly superior political economy system of Japan were prompting eminent scholars to write books title “Japan as Number One” and “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” prophesying the decline of American superpower. But it was not meant to be. In the early 90s, America’s biggest military rival and economic rival, respectively the Soviet Union dissolved, and Japan went into a decade of very low growth. While America rebounded to the longest continued economic growth in its history and just as its military seems invincible in the Gulf War, taking less than 150 casualties during the entire war. American preeminence, let to books title “The End of History” and articles like “The Unipolar Moment“. The declaration of American decline was premature, until now. Continue reading

US Congress must endorse No-Fly Zone over Libya

The UN Security Council (SC) has pass resolution calling for “all necessary measures” to prevent attacks on Libyan civilians by the Gaddafi regime, including the maintaining of no-fly zone over libya, while prohibiting the use of ground force occupation. With Arab League’s endorsement of the resolution, the US and the World have as much international legitimacy as a statesperson can ask for. Now there is only one problem left, Continue reading

Reblog: A New Beginning

Reblog from: Charles Mudede:

Now that the Arab world is officially in transition

Officials did not immediately confirm the report that Gamal Mubarak has fled to the British capital with his wife and daughter aboard a private jet.The jet with Mubarak, his family and 97 pieces of luggage on board left for London on Tuesday from an airport in western Cairo, according to the US-based Akhbar al-Arab.

Weeks of unrest in Tunisia eventually toppled president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali earlier this month. The anti-government protests in Egypt broke out after opposition groups waged an internet campaign inspired by the Tunisian uprising.

An anti-riot police officer was killed in clashes on Tuesday in central Cairo, Egyptian daily ‘al-Wafd’ reported. Egyptian security forces reported used tear gas, fire hoses, and clubs to disperse protesters in Tahrir Square, downtown Cairo.

… We can formulate a theory of the initiating point of this transition. I locate Obama’s speech in Cairo “A New Beginning”. From this point radiates these recent turbulence in the Arab world. Yes, Tunisia caught the State Department completely by surprise. But what Obama did was precisely lessen the tension between the Arab nations and the US, and this in turn meant, for the subjects of Arab nations and also Iran, more anger could be committed to local rather than international matters. None of this would be happening if George W. Bush were in power. All he could do was intensify Arab nationalism, and this nationalism benefited the rulers, kept them in power, kept attention away from their dark doings. This is only a rough theory. More information will, of course, change this theory. Egypt is a complicated country.

This is the perfect demonstration of statesmanship and soft power.

Public Diplomacy has to be at the core of Taiwan’s Strategy

In the past year, even as relations with China have improved, Taiwan’s government has been stepping up efforts to raise the island’s profile.
It is part of a strategy promoted by President Ma Ying-jeou, who says Taipei must increase its so-called “soft power” if it is to stand on the international stage.
The strategy is wide-ranging. It includes developing globally famous brands, boosting Taiwan’s presence not only in the high-tech sector but also in arts, food and fashion, and marketing great things about Taiwan.
As a result, the government has poured millions of dollars into supporting performance troupes, filmmakers and even pop singers.
Some of them have enjoyed regional or international acclaim, including a government-funded film that won an award at the Berlin International Film Festival this year. There are plans to spend $200m (£128m) to help the movie industry.

– BBC reports on Taiwan’s focus on developing its soft power.

Inter-governmental diplomacy can only do so much.
Military build up, will only lead to costly and ultimately unsustainable arm race.
Public diplomacy aiming at western, regional and also the Chinese across the strait is what will bring peace and stability for Taiwan.

Offshore balancing is the most viable American grand strategy

Offshore balancing, which was America’s traditional grand strategy for most of its history, is but another option. Predicated on the belief that there are three regions of the world that are strategically important to the United States—Europe, Northeast Asia and the Persian Gulf—it sees the United States’ principle goal as making sure no country dominates any of these areas as it dominates the Western Hemisphere. This is to ensure that dangerous rivals in other regions are forced to concentrate their attention on great powers in their own backyards rather than be free to interfere in America’s. The best way to achieve that end is to rely on local powers to counter aspiring regional hegemons and otherwise keep U.S. military forces over the horizon. But if that proves impossible, American troops come from offshore to help do the job, and then leave once the potential hegemon is checked.

-John J. Mearsheimer describing the essence of offshore balancing strategy.

In this paper prominent realist Mearsheimer review America’s grand strategy in the post-cold war period, and argue why the liberal imperialist strategy adopted by Clinton were bad and the global dominance strategy by Bush were even worse. He as a realist predictably advocate offshore balancing strategy, which i agree should have been utilized during Clinton and Bush years, and is probably the best strategy going forward. It was a predictable but well paper, as a realist with some liberal leaning, i would only add that offshore balancing should be coupled with continue economic and culture engagement with the subject of its balancing (China).

Geopolitics and American grand strategy is a fascinating subject, i have wrote a short paper on it in the past。Check it if you are really bored.