Category: Weekly Reading List (Page 1 of 3)

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Who said Trump was never a non-interventionist?

In the wake of the U.S. launching over 50 missiles at targets in Syria in response to Syrian use of chemical weapons, which reportedly killed at least 74, some are surprised that Trump isn’t really a non-interventionist, nor is he a realist.

Some who aren’t surprised? The editors of Bombs + Dollars. There will be more to be written later, but for now, enjoy some of our related coverage on Trump and Syria.

Sumantra Maitra gets us started with his piece explaining why Trump was never a realist:

After the debate about Obama being a Realist, (he’s ofcourse not) it was inevitable the Neorealist tag would be on Donald Trump after his interminable dross for New York Times. It is an incoherent mess, with talking points which will make, Hayek to Say to Ricardo to Morgenthau to Waltz, all cringe in shame, but it had some interesting moments.

As I mentioned in the Obama article above, it is perhaps a bit back in fashion these days, with growing isolationist tendencies across both sides of the Atlantic, to use talking points of indifferent stoic state interest. While superficially it might sound realist, it is not, and it lacks theoretical rigor and coherence. Realists have opposed Trump previously, alongside others. And although I don’t speak on behalf of the entire Realist school of FP here, it is safe to presume, they will oppose any delusional lunatic again, and everytime.

Maitra: So, is Donald Trump a Neo-Realist?

And:
Maitra: The Realist civil war and Donald Trump
Maitra: Is Obama a Realist in Syria? TL-DR: No.
Blatt: No, Trump’s not a Realist. He’s not anything, because he has no ideas.
Blatt: Trump’s fake anti-war position slips

In a column I wrote after his inauguration, I explained that Trump is just a saber-rattling strongman who wants to use military intervention to prove his “toughness”:

The discourse over whether Donald Trump is “anti-interventionist” or a militant warmonger is misguided. Trump is neither, and yet he’s also both. Indeed, he has put forward arguments — contradictory as this may sound — for both ways of thinking.

It’s a misnomer, however, that Trump doesn’t want to send American troops abroad to fight terrorist and insurgent groups. After all, he’s repeatedly said he wants to “bomb the shit” out of ISIS in Syria. In March, he even paid lip-service to the need to send in up to 30,000 ground troops.

He has expressed the view that Obama has been a “weak” president for being relatively passive when confronting terrorism and crisis.

Blatt: Trump: Neither isolationist nor interventionist

Maitra, from 2016, on why sympathy for dead civilians is no justification for war:

Unsurprisingly, the worst kind of virtue signaling can start over a visual, and this poor boy was no exception. Historically visuals were used to rally people for a cause. Just one example, during the Indian mutiny of 1857, the power of British press was evident, as paintings of Lady Britannia delivering retributive justice to the evil Indian rebels was used to bring the entire country together in what was one of the toughest time of the Raj. Similar instances are littered throughout history.

Realist academics and policy makers cannot rely on hashtags or candle light vigils, because simply real life is different and there are more considerations than simplistic narratives. If anyone comes and shows dead children photos, and demands action or inaction, that is “Argumentum Ad Passiones” or in common parlance, an appeal to emotions. That is not however a ground for policy. What could be a policy in this situation?

Maitra: Baby pics and appeal to emotions

Correction: A previous version of this article said “over 100” people died in the sarin attack, a number that was cited in some early reports. Most reports in major media now report 74 verified deaths. B+D has updated this post to reflect that “at least 74” people died, which also includes the possibility of 100 or more.

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An incredible liar: Post-modernism and the presidency

Women are paid 77 percent of what men are paid for the same job. Michael Brown was executed in cold blood. Donald Trump was wiretapped.

All lies, all made up to spread an agenda, reflections of a post-modern, reality-denying trend in the United States and the West. This trend is particularly attributed to academia, activism, and now, especially now, to politicians and the president.

Time‘s cover piece “Is Truth Dead?” includes some incredible quotes:

“I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right,” Trump told TIME two days later, in a 20-minute phone interview from the Oval Office. The testimony, in other words, had not fazed him at all. He was still convinced he would be proved right. “I have articles saying it happened.”

“When I said ‘wire tapping,’ it was in quotes,” he said.

Read the full article.

Meanwhile, at Areo Magazine, I add more examples of unhinged lies from Trump:

Want to talk about ignoring facts for the purpose of serving a pre-existing agenda? At Trump’s February press conference, he claimed to have won the largest electoral college victory since Ronald Reagan in 1984. He won 306. Obama won 332 in the last election and 365 the election before that. That’s something you can check on Google. You don’t even need to do a survey on that.

Add that to, “I had the largest inauguration crowd ever,” “3 million people voted illegally,” and “the Bowling Green terrorist attack was ignored.”

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Mitch Blatt in The National Interest on North Korea

Bombs + Dollars editor Mitchell Blatt was published in The National Interest‘s website on U.S.-China relations with regard to North Korea.

Although he put Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments in context, noting that they don’t necessarily mean a vast change in policy, he did say that certain actions the U.S. has already taken, like the deployment of THAAD, and any possible change in policy to be more aggressive, are not acts of provocation but rather responses to growing North Korean provocations.

“But if the Trump administration does up the ante, it will be because proposals to engage in toothless talks with North Korea—like that made this week by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi—have utterly failed, and China hasn’t done its part to try to reign in its rogue frenemy,” he wrote. “Juxtaposed against its vitriolic response to the South Korean deployment of Terminal High Area Altitude Defense, China’s impassive response to multiple North Korean nuclear tests, always predicated on the same “firm opposition” talking point, which makes it look like China hasn’t been taking the threat of a nuclear North seriously.”

He pointed out that China hasn’t been faithfully enforcing some of the sanctions they agreed to against North Korea.

In summary, “As long as North Korea is an out-of-control threat, South Korea will need to take tough actions. China is reaping what it sowed from years of complacency.”

The whole article can be read here: Why China Must Confront North Korea.

The UK’s MoneyWeek also quoted Blatt’s article:

On the contrary, “China has largely itself to blame” if the US now pursues a more militaristic agenda towards North Korea, says Mitchell Blatt in the American magazine The National Interest. Beijing has spent years “turning a blind eye to sanctions violators and keeping the dangerous North Korean regime alive and its leaders well fed”, so it is not surprising that Washington now thinks “enough is enough”. China has also reneged on promises to limit imports of North Korean coal. Overall, “if China wants to avoid instability, then China must take an active role and take responsibility”.

Blatt also has an article about South Korea-China relations coming out in The Korea Times on Tuesday.

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2 Articles on Liberal Protest

These past two weeks, we have seen massive protests by liberals and left-wing anarchist groups, both non-violent and violent, and both Sumantra and I have written about them.

The general thrust of my thesis is that non-violent protests such as the Women’s March are a fine way of opposing Trump’s radical policies and statements. That kind of non-violent protest should not be associated with fascistic violence like that of Disrupt J20 or the Antifa thugs in Berkeley. However some of the mechanisms of social protest, like #DeletingUber, are very stupid and possibly counterproductive.

Here are my pieces:
Antifa and the Woman’s March: A Tale of Two Protests – Areo

Protesters have depicted both Bush and Obama as Nazis. Neither side has a monopoly on Hitler comparisons and stupid signs, and both sides are guilty of hypocrisy in selectively cherry picking the worst examples of their opponents for condemnation.

But because of certain characteristics of the Left, such as the fact that collectivism lends itself more to collective protests than does individualism and the fact that a good deal of leftists romanticize French Revolution-style “resistance,” progressives are generally more likely to have large-scale marches and marches that often push or overstep the limits of the law. It’s no coincidence that, more often than not, the people occupying a public park or a pipeline construction location are leftists. Most progressives aren’t waving Soviet flags at a World Trade Organization protest, but most people waving Soviet flags at WTO protests are progressives.

Read full article.

And:
By Targeting Uber, Immigration Protesters Punish Innocent Bystanders – The Federalist

Imagine you are a traveler just off a long flight across an ocean. You’re tired, you’re hungry, you’re annoyed from standing in long lines and waiting for your luggage. You already know the immigration ban is in place because you saw it reported on CNN in the terminal. Now there’s no one to take you to your hotel downtown. You find out it’s because taxi drivers are striking due to an order you didn’t sign and had nothing to do with. You might not even support it. You might not even be a citizen of this country. But you have one more headache just because Trump did something the taxi drivers don’t like. Are you going to be more or less likely to support the taxi union?

Read full article.

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Taiwanese are becoming more pro-independence–with or without Trump’s call

Having analyzed the dynamics of how the precedent-breaking phone call between Donald Trump and Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen played out between the U.S. and China, I now place my gaze on Taiwan itself.

In my observations visiting the island during the cross-straits meeting in 2015 and interviewing academics, I found Taiwanese youth especially likely to be pro-independent, and moreover the ethnolinguistic divides that used to animate their parents’ politics in the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War are becoming less intense.

I wrote about it in detail for Red Alert Politics:

For all the focus on how Donald Trump’s phone call with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen has outraged China, the point of view of the country whose leader was on the other side of the phone has been neglected.

The Taiwanese people have lived for centuries in the shadows of foreign powers, having faced colonialism, invasion, and martial law, before winning democracy. Now, they face missiles pointed at them from an ascendant Communist state intent on eventually conquering them.

For Taiwan and its new pro-independence president, speaking directly to America’s incoming leader was a bold display of its autonomy in the face of Chinese threats.

It wasn’t an overnight shift in Taiwanese policy, but rather the culmination of a trend that has been underway for years. And Taiwanese millennials have played a significant role in that change.

Millennials helped propel Tsai to a resounding 25 percent victory in January’s general election and gave her Democratic Progressive Party its first legislative majority in history.

Read the rest: What Trump’s call meant to Taiwan’s “strawberry generation”

B+D editor begins contributing to The Buckley Report

“Congressional Republicans have a mandate for their agenda. Trump doesn’t,” Blatt writes in first article.

Bombs + Dollars editor Mitchell Blatt published his first article at The Buckley Report, a conserverative outlet that launched this year. In it, Blatt analyzes the results of the election on both the presidential and Congressional levels and how it should impact policy if the will of the voters is heeded.

“Running on an agenda of fiscal responsibility, entitlement reform, tax simplification, and reeling in executive overreach, Paul Ryan and Congressional Republicans won at least 241 seats and well over 3 million more votes nationally than the Democrats. Meanwhile Donald Trump, running on an agenda of ignoring the entitlement crisis, spending twice as much as Hillary on infrastructure, raising taxes on consumer goods, and wasting billions on a white elephant wall, lost the popular vote by over 2.2 million.” (Read more.)

Although Trump won the most state-by-state electors at the Electoral College, many of his voters didn’t vote for him so much as they voted against Hillary Clinton. The Congressional Republican agenda and Trump’s “nationalist” agenda differ significantly in key areas of economics and immigration policy. Congressional Republicans haven’t been so keen as Trump on building an over $10 billion wall or raising tariffs to 35 percent.

Blatt argues the Republicans in Congress should pursue their own conservative agenda and resist Trump’s excesses. It remains to be seen whether they will do so or whether Trumnp will bend them to his will.

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Weekly Reading List: So, I got published in War on the Rocks and Nottspolitics

Big week, as I mentioned before, with a couple of major publications coming, other than my regular columns.

To start with, the biggest one till date, my essay on War on the Rocks, where I write a Neo-Realist critique of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s latest revisionist history lesson. And was then called a Neo-Con for some reason, in the comments. But that’s another issue.

The second big one was my guest post at the official blog of the University of Nottingham, Dept of Politics and IR, where I talk about a foreign policy course for Philippines and how it should balance between China and US.

Other than that, here are my weekly columns.

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Weekly Reading List: All about foreign policy Realism.

Hi everyone, been long we had a Weekly Reading List! Not weekly anymore, unfortunately, as I am busy with my work and research, but as Easter break is approaching, and I will be immersed full time in my PhD thesis, here’re a few articles which I want to leave you guys with, which I wrote in the last one month.

JIR2016_1First, the big one.

My research paper got published, titled “Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?”: An Expository Study of the First Two Terms of President Vladimir Putin, In Light of the Theories of Realism. (Journal of International Relations, Faculty of International Relations, University of Economics in Bratislava 2016, Volume XIV, Issue 1, Pages 58-92. ISSN 1336-1562 (print), ISSN 1339-2751 (online) Published 15. 3. 2016)

You can download the full paper here.

Aurangzeb_in_old_age_2Secondly, most of you would remember I wrote a comparative piece on how modern Russia is like seventeenth century India under the Mughals? I went a bit further and compared Putin and the medieval Indian emperor Aurangzeb. (Which, incidentally got a nice review here!)

I wrote two articles on Russia-Direct, the first one on how unlikely it is for Russia to actually invade the Baltics, and the second one on the fact that Russia and US is not in any New Cold war, but just a usual Great power rivalry with competition and cooperation happening simultaneously.

I also wrote one long essay for The Interpreter Magazine, on how contrary to popular belief, Obama is not a Realist…infact he doesn’t seem to understand what Realism in foreign policy means.

With regards to my weekly columns, here are they. 

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Monday Reading List: Iowa Caucuses edition!

It’s Monday, January 1, and you know what that means: Not only is it the day I publish my Monday Reading List, it is also the day of the Iowa caucuses, the first day of voting for the U.S. presidential primaries for both parties.

First, an article I wrote for Acculturated that was published this week:
Hollywood Pandering to Chinese Censors

China’s government has talked about trying to use film to spread soft power. … The 2013 independent film A Touch of Sin, by Chinese director Jia Zhangke, won best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival, best film editing at the Taiwan Golden Horse Film Festival, and earned a 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was banned in China. How can China ever spread cultural power if it stifles its best artists?

Read full article.

Now for some reading material about the Iowa caucuses:

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Reading List: Taiwan election commentary

Earlier this week, I noted how there is little being reported in the Chinese press about the Taiwanese election that put the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen in charge.

If you want to learn more about the election and its consequences, more than you can in the Chinese press, here are some insightful links:
When Will China Realize Its Taiwan Strategy Failed?National Interest

The Taiwanese have done a marvelous job of mental gymnastics in which they reconcile favoring closer economic ties with the mainland even as they utterly spurn any notion of political reunification. Polls consistently show meager support (often in the single digits) for becoming part of China.

One China, One Taiwan: Little Chance of a Red Future for Taipei – Salvatore Babones, Foreign Affairs

Now You Know the Terror (On how a Taiwanese singer was forced to apologize for holding a Taiwanese flag.) – China Change

Remarkably, she was then forced by her South Korean management firm to record an apology video: a mere 16-year-old Taiwanese girl forced to identify herself as a Chinese and admit that her holding the Republic of China flag was wrong.

Tsai’s victory speechMichael Turton

Together we have accomplished a great task for Taiwan. This is how I feel right now. However, I am calm at heart, because I know that in the future, my responsibility will only grow heavier. …
Thanks to all the people of Taiwan, we have completed the third transition of political power in Taiwan’s democratic history together. We have lit up Taiwan. And through our actions, we want to tell the world, once again, that Taiwan equals democracy and democracy equals Taiwan.

The Fall of the KMT?New Bloom

It would seem that the KMT is still internally fractured. This is along the lines of party divisions, between the Ma Ying-Jeou-led “Mainlander” faction and Wang Jinpyng’s “Taiwanese” faction, which is by comparison to the Mainlander faction more localized. Wang is himself close to some members of the DPP.

Anatomy of a Small AvalancheThinking Taiwan

The DPP is consolidating its 2014 gains: After getting the same voters to vote for the DPP twice in a row within a 14-month timespan, the DPP may have consolidated many of those swing voters, who only decided to give the “pan-DPP” camp a chance for the first time in 2014, into reliable DPP supporters going forward.

KMT ends with 35 of 113 seats in devastating lossThe China Post
It was their first time to lose the majority in the legislature.

KMT Loses Security Deposits in Some Races – Frozen Garlic

Pingtung 3: KMT nominee Hsu Chin-ju 許謹如 got 12.8% of the vote. DPP winner Chuang Jui-hsiung 莊瑞雄 got 4.18 times as many votes.

Tainan 2: KMT nominee Huang Yao-sheng 黃耀盛 got 18.7% of the vote. DPP winner Huang Wei-che 黃偉哲 got 4.10 times as many votes.

Kaohsiung 4: KMT nominee Kuo Lun-hao 郭倫豪 got 23.2% of the vote. DPP winner Lin Tai-hua 林岱樺 got 3.25 times as many votes.

Tainan 1: KMT nominee Huang Jui-kun 黃瑞坤 got 22.2% of the vote. DPP winner Yeh Yi-chin 葉宜津 got 3.21 times as many votes.

There were also seven other districts in which the DPP nominee got more than twice as many votes as the KMT nominee.

Did Blue Voters Stay Home?Frozen Garlic
Turnout was down from past elections, and some KMT voters might have stayed home, but the margin was so big that it would have been a big DPP victory even if turnout was higher.

DPP Goes After Minority Hakka Voters AggressivelySolidarity Taiwan
The Hakka and other minority groups have traditionally supported the KMT, but the DPP is making inroads there.

A high-spirited Tsai strongly advertised her support for the Hakka during her recently concluded campaign whirlwind tour of Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli Hakka communities where she rolled out her “Highway 3 romantic road” proposal [national government development of Hakka cultural and tourism industries in the Hakka geographic zone parallel to Highway 3]. As her political tides have turned she’s gone from pleading with Hakkas for support several years ago to promising to look out for them now.

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