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Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

Saving Horatio Alger

Wide-ranging discussion of social mobility and wealth distribution in America. Strong historical perspective. Lots of helpful graphics. Inequality was as great a century ago as it is now; but social mobility was much greater too, which made the inequality more defensible as an incentive to the poor as well as a reward to the rich. “For the first time ever, most parents in the US think their children will be worse off than themselves” (7,000 words)

The Rhyme Of History: Lessons of The Great War

Essay on the worrying parallels between the world before the 1914-18 Great War, and the world today — two eras of new technology, of migration and of globalisation, of nationalism and radicalism. As 1914 approached, a nervous England jostled with a rising Germany. As 2014 approaches, America spars clumsily with a rising China. Then, the Balkans was a tinderbox. Today it is the Middle East (5,300 words)

Ukraine Without America

America is too busy elsewhere in the world to play a leading role in the political struggle for Ukraine. There’s also a measure of Ukraine-fatigue in Washington; successive governments have squandered the political capital earned in the Orange Revolution of 2004. But for the time being American reticence is a good thing. Leaving the European Union to confront Russia reduces the stakes all round (970 words)

Chinese Provinces And Indian States on The World Stage

Highly devolved systems of government in China and India give local leaders power on a global scale: the Indian state of Gujarat has 60m people, the Chinese city of Chongqing has 30m people. Any country that size would get an American embassy and consulates. States are used to dealing with states: but dealing effectively with countries as big as China and India means understanding the internal dynamics of regions (9,200 words)

The Debt Ceiling And Presidential Power

In times of crisis the American president can do whatever he thinks necessary to protect the nation. A debt default would surely count as a crisis: meaning that, if default arrives, President Obama can raise the debt ceiling or take other appropriate action by decree. He will look like a strong leader; and it’s hard to imagine Congress uniting in order to overturn his actions retrospectively and force the nation into default (970 words)

Deadly Triangle: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India

“The hostility between India and Pakistan lies at the heart of the current war in Afghanistan. Most observers view the Afghanistan conflict as a battle between the U.S. and the NATO-led ISAF on one hand, and al-Qaida and the Taliban on the other. This has long since ceased to be the case. Our troops are caught up in a war shaped by two pre-existing conflicts: one local and internal, the other regional” (8,000 words)

Israel’s Airstrikes In Syria

Expert discussion of Israel’s interests and interventions in the Syrian conflict. Assad regime is unlikely to react against Israel’s airstrikes while in the midst of its own civil war — so long as it thinks it can beat the rebels at home. But if the regime fears that it’s losing to the rebels, then the incentive structure flips, and its best hope of survival will come with attacking Israel and trying to provoke an Arab-Israeli war (1,965 words)

Gay Marriage Hits The Supreme Court

The Court will, in effect, have to make a political decision: “Gay marriage doesn’t fit any existing judicial template. It doesn’t neatly fit civil-rights decisions overturning, for example, racial discrimination, because society has always (rightly or wrongly) viewed male+female as intrinsic to the nature of marriage in a way that white+white is not” (777 words)

Gay Marriage Hits The Supreme Court

Court will, in effect, have to make a political decision: “Gay marriage doesn’t fit any existing judicial template. It doesn’t neatly fit civil-rights decisions overturning, for example, racial discrimination, because society has always (rightly or wrongly) viewed male+female as intrinsic to the nature of marriage in a way that white+white is not”

Italy’s Election Results Are Bad News For All of Us

“Let me be blunt. The Italian election result is a triumph for fantasy and irresponsibility. It is quite bad news and no one knows what will happen next. Italians predominantly voted against pain and austerity, while ignoring the lack of reality, and sometimes outright irresponsibility, of the parties they supported”

President Obama’s Same-Sex Marriage Endorsement

“With his switch from ambivalence to advocacy, Obama is sending a signal to the courts that the country is ready for gay marriage, giving them cover to uphold it. Courts like to stay within the mainstream. Obama has just moved it”

The Bo Xilai Crisis: A Curse Or A Blessing for China?

“This crisis has revealed the flaws in China’s political system, including the danger of allowing a demagogue like Bo to emerge, as well as the nepotism and corruption within the system. However, a crisis is also an opportunity”

The Pursuit Of Happiness

I believe global economy’s on the cusp of a quantum leap—a transition to a wholer, richer, more human conception of prosperity: One that’s more eudaimonic than hedonic. Here’s a good summary of challenges and opportunities involved

Modernisation In Russia

Round-up of discussions, lessons-learned at this year’s Valdai conference. Pretty downbeat. Government talks up modernisation, but no serious intention to reduce state dominance, improve rule of law

How Marriage Survives

US marriage rate bounces around a bit, but no evidence of major decline. On the other hand, nature of marriage has changed. Elite husbands want elite wives, meaning poorer prospects for less-educated women

Lashkar e Tayyiba, Al Qaeda, Pakistan

Pithy statement of problems with Pakistan as Western ally. One, somebody in Pakistan government knows where Osama bin-Laden is hiding. Two, Pakistan intelligence trained Mumbai terrorists

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