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Today’s Hong Kong Photo

6 Jan
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Temple, originally uploaded by JoeGray.

White Mountain Links, 1-6-09

6 Jan

Wishful Dreaming: “When the Gyeongin Canal is complete, the appearance of the western part of the capital region will have changed greatly, including Incheon’s Songdo International City, the Cheongna region and the Geomdan New City, and the canal will gain fame as a major global site for distribution and tourism,” said Kwon Jin-bong, director of the MLTM’s Office of Construction and Water Resources Policy. “Since it has been confirmed that the project has economic efficiency and that there are no problems for the environment, we will speed up the process of going ahead with it,” said Kwon.


Witch Hunt: Beijing authorities begin “mostly polite” interrogations of Charter 08 activists.

Max Yield: Beijing plans to expand mining acquisitions from developing states to Canada and Australia.


Tools Up: Toyota will halt production for six days in February and five days in March.

Stick It Where We Like: Japan protested Beijing’s “regrettable” incursion into the disputed undersea Tianwaitian natural gas field last weekend.


Democrats in Cross-Pacific Sync: Neither Democrats in the US or ROK want even to consider a free trade deal any time soon.

Park Chung-hee-ism in Pyongyang: Perhaps as a sign of a shift at the top, as the Chosun Daily thinks, or a legitimate stab at reform, Pyongyang replaced senior ministers in railways, forestry, agriculture, electronics and the metal industry with “veteran bureaucrats”.

The Philippines

Mindanao Two-Step: RP President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants peace talks and development projects for Mindanao in 2009.

Beware of Gorillas on Filipino Links: Of course, the Pangandamans will settle with the De la Pazes. They won! And, it was sport for all citizens!

A “Real” Realist

6 Jan

I’m almost in love!

Stephen M. Walt rescues realism from the Kaplan-Cheney-Kissinger Axis.

Although realism is a distinguished intellectual tradition with an impressive track record of policy insights, realists have become something of an endangered species over the past sixteen years. Given the results that liberal internationalists and neoconservatives have produced during this period, bringing a bit of realism back into contemporary discourse seems overdue.

What is a “realist perspective?” Realists believe that foreign policy should deal with the world as it really is, instead of being based on wishful thinking or ideological pipedreams (see under “Clinton administration”). Realists know that international politics can be a brutal business and states cannot afford to be too trusting, but we also know that states get into serious trouble by exaggerating threats or engaging in foolish foreign adventures (see under “Bush Doctrine”). Realists respect the power of nationalism and understand that other societies will resist outside interference and defend their own interests vigorously. Accordingly, realists believe successful diplomacy requires give-and-take and that advancing one’s own interests sometimes requires cooperating with regimes whose values or practices are objectionable if not repellent.

Realists appreciate the importance of military power, but they also know that it is a blunt instrument whose effects are sometimes unpredictable. Realists are therefore wary of grandiose plans for social engineering in other countries and believe that force should be used only when vital interests are at stake. Realists recognize that global institutions can be useful tools of statecraft, but they also believe that institutions require great power support to work effectively and are not a default solution for all global problems.

Finally, realists are skeptical of the propaganda that states invariably deploy to justify self-interested policies, and they know that fear, greed or stupidity sometimes lead even well-intentioned democracies to do foolish or cruel things (see under “Iraq”). Realists aren’t moral relativists and don’t think all great powers are morally equivalent, but they know better than to take any country’s idealistic rhetoric at face value.

Foreign Policy‘s revamp was a complete shocker. I had allotted myself just one new subscription or one renewal. Of the The New Republic and The Atlantic, the former seemed the only good option. No more – and I’m sure FP is happy to hear that! I supported TNR through its revamp, but the Beauchamp scandal, Marty Peretz’s continued tenure, and its inconsistency annoy me. Now, I’m thinking FP deserves another chance. It’s not just this blog, but also that a publication would take this chance and get this sort of talent.

I just hope Walt et al don’t all leave once the publication passes a quarter or two in the black, or before my subscription ends.

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