All posts filed under: Politics

Politics

Postmodernists Against Free Speech

Those who complain about the current social and intellectual atmosphere in the academy are generally pretty sure of just one thing they’re for and just one thing they’re against: They’re for free speech, and they’re against postmodernism and critical theory. Now, it’s not always clear what is meant by those things, or why they should be natural opponents. But sometimes the inspiration, if not the underlying logic, shines through — as in the case of two recent books by two academics who could quite fairly be called postmodern theorists. One is Ulrich Baer’s What Snowflakes Get Right: Free Speech, Truth, and Equality on Campus. The other is Stanley Fish’s The First: How to Think About Hate Speech, Campus Speech, Religious Speech, Fake News, Post-Truth, and Donald Trump. (That sure is a lot of topics to tell us “how to think” about!) Baer’s What Snowflakes Get Right seems to have been hastily assembled based on a single article (of the same title and in The New York Times’ so-called “philosophy” section, The Stone) that inspired some agent or publisher to tell Baer that a book …

Explaining : What is the deadly 2020 India-China border dispute about?

What has happened? At least 20 people have died in clashes between Indian and Chinese troops along the disputed Himalayan border running along the Ladakh area of Kashmir. It is the first fatal clash since 1975 and the most serious since 1967. Fighting broke out on Monday evening when an Indian patrol came across Chinese forces on a narrow ridge. During the confrontation an Indian commanding officer was pushed and fell into the river gorge, sources told the Guardian. Hundreds of troops from both sides were called in and fought with rocks and clubs. Several fell to their deaths. Himalayan flashpoint could spiral out of control as India and China face off Read more The Indian Army said there were casualties on both sides, and confirmed three of its soldiers were killed during the clashes, with another 17 later succumbing to injuries. Beijing has refused to confirm any deaths on its side, but accused India of crossing the border twice and “provoking and attacking Chinese personnel”. The editor in chief of state-run the Global Times, …

Galwan Valley confrontation between China and India could spiral out of control as India and China face-off

The forces of two nuclear weapons states have set about each other with clubs and rocks at one of the most forbidding flashpoints in the world, in a bloody incident that highlights the constant dangers posed by expansionist nationalism. India has confirmed that it lost at least 20 of its men in a clash with Chinese soldiers near the disputed mountain border running along the Ladakh area of Kashmir. It is the first fatal confrontation since 1975 and the most serious since 1967, and so can be expected to have a powerful galvanising effect on the populations of both countries, already primed by a constant stream of nationalist rhetoric. There is a long history of such encounters ever since the two nations fought a short war there in 1962. After that conflict a Line of Actual Control (LAC) was declared, but there is no agreed line and limited control, as the events of recent weeks have confirmed. Thus far at least, both Indian and Chinese forces have stuck to an agreement not to carry firearms …

Soldiers fell to their deaths as India and China’s troops fought with rocks in Galwan Valley

The hand-to-hand combat lasted hours, on steep, jagged terrain, with iron bars, rocks and fists. Neither side carried guns. Most of the soldiers killed in the worst fighting between India and China in 60 years lost their footing or were knocked from the narrow Himalayan ridge, plunging to their deaths. India has reacted with shock and caution to the loss of at least 20 soldiers on its disputed border with China, with images of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, burned in Indian cities. In his first public comments on the dispute, prime minister Narendra Modi led a two-minute silence for the killed soldiers and said India would “defend every stone, every inch of its territory.” “I would like to assure the nation that the sacrifice of our jawans [troops] will not be in vain,” said Modi, speaking at a televised meeting of India’s chief ministers. “For us, the unity and sovereignty of the country is the most important.” A day after reports of the “violent face-off” in the western Himalayas emerged, Indian news outlets began …

India accuses China of preparing attack on border troops

India has accused Chinese troops of meticulously preparing an attack on its soldiers on the treacherous Himalayan border, claiming they erected a tent on the Indian side, dammed a river, brought in machinery and then lay in wait with stones and batons wrapped in barbed wire. The incident on Monday night, in which 20 Indian soldiers died and 76 were injured, was the worst violence between India and China for 45 years. China has not said whether it sustained any casualties. Ten Indian soldiers who were reportedly captured by Chinese troops during the attack were back in India on Thursday night. China said it had not seized any Indian personnel. Both sides continue to blame the other for the clash. China is now claiming sovereignty over the Galwan valley in Ladakh, where the attack happened, and has accused Indian troops of three times crossing into its territory. “The responsibility entirely lies with Indian side,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs. India accused China of carrying out a “premeditated and …

Labour councils in England hit harder by austerity than Tory areas

Labour councils have borne the brunt of local government cuts over a decade of austerity, according to a new analysis by the Guardian. It highlights for the first time the extent to which poorer, largely Labour-held areas of the country had their funding slashed on average by more than a third, while more affluent, largely Conservative areas were more protected. The analysis, published on Monday and carried out with Sigoma, a special interest group for councils in metropolitan areas, comes exactly 10 years since the then Conservative chancellor, George Osborne, announced the deepest period of cuts to public service spending since the second world war. In his budget speech on 22 June, 2010, Osborne said his plans would be fair and would protect “the most vulnerable in society” while eliminating the government’s budget deficit. But the new analysis reveals that, on average, Labour councils saw their spending power reduced by 34%, while the average Conservative council saw an equivalent decline of less than a quarter (24%). Of the 50 councils which saw the deepest budget …

America’s declining relevance and China’s gains in the South China Sea

America’s declining relevance and China’s gains in the South China Sea

At a top regional security forum on Saturday, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said China’s recent militarisation efforts in the disputed South China Sea were intended to intimidate and coerce regional countries. Mattis told the Shangri-La Dialogue that China’s actions stood in “stark contrast with the openness of [the US] strategy,” and warned of “much larger consequences” if China continued its current approach. As an “initial response”, China’s navy has been disinvited by the US from the upcoming 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise, the world’s largest international naval exercise. It is important to understand the context of the current tensions, and the strategic stakes for both China and the US. In recent years, China has sought to bolster its control over the South China Sea, where a number of claimants have overlapping territorial claims with China, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan. China’s efforts have continued unabated, despite rising tensions and international protests. Just recently, China landed a long-range heavy bomber for the first time on an island in the disputed Paracels, and deployed anti-ship and anti-air missile systems  to its outposts …

Time to look closer to home

Time to look closer to home

Immigration is at the heart of the Brexit debate. It’s a large reason why economic arguments have failed to sway voters. Despite warnings of the high economic costs of leaving the EU (warnings supported by a majority of economists), immigration has continued to have a powerful influence – and is perhaps the major reason why the opinion polls have become so close in recent weeks. The immigration debate is quite polarised. On one side, the Remain campaign either ducks the issue or focuses on the benefits that immigration brings to the economy as a whole. On the other side, the Leave camp focuses on its costs and plays into fears (often in a cruel and cynical way) that migrants are putting pressure on public services that are already at breaking point. At least among Labour supporters intending to vote leave, immigration also appears to be a key issue. The need for a more even-handed assessment of the costs and benefits of immigration is sorely needed. While immigration brings undoubted benefits, it also places pressures on particular communities. It also feeds a sense of …

Emerging Markets Under Pressure

Emerging markets have come under a bit of pressure recently, with the combination of the dollar’s rise and higher U.S. ten year rates serving as the trigger. The Governor of the Reserve Bank of India has—rather remarkably—even called on the U.S. Federal Reserve to slow the pace of its quantitative tightening to give emerging economies a bit of a break. (He could have equally called on the Administration to change its fiscal policy so as to reduce issuance, but the Fed is presumably a softer target.) Yet the pressure on emerging economies hasn’t been uniform (the exchange rate moves in the chart are through Wednesday, June 13th; they don’t reflect Thursday’s selloff). That really shouldn’t be a surprise. Emerging economies are more different than they are the same. With the help of Benjamin Della Rocca, a research analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, I split emerging economies into three main groupings: Oil importing economies with current account deficits Oil importing economies with significant current account surpluses (a group consisting of emerging Asian economies) And …

China Rebalancing?

China Rebalancing?

I increasingly suspect my view on Chinese “rebalancing” is at odds with the current consensus (or perhaps just with a plurality of the investment bank analysts and financial journalists who watch China). In two significant ways. One. I think China’s balance of payments position is fairly robust. In both a “flow” and a “stock” sense. The current account isn’t that close to falling into a deficit (and it wouldn’t be that big a deal if China did have a modest deficit). And China’s state is back to adding to its foreign assets in a significant way. The days of “China selling reserves” are long past. And two, I think the rebalancing that has lowered the measured current account surplus is more fragile than most think. It is a function of policies—call it a large off-budget “augmented” fiscal deficit or excessive credit growth—that some believe to be unsustainable, and many think are unwise. The IMF, for example, wants China to bring down its fiscal deficit and slow the pace of credit growth, policies that directionally would …