FM newswire for April 9, interesting articles about geopolitics

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis, collected from around the Internet. If you find this useful, pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1. Inside Mexico’s Drug War“, Tomas Kellner and Francesco Pipitone, World Policy Journal, Spring 2010
  2. The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits“, Andrew G. Biggs, American Enterprise Institute, April 2010 — State pension plans are underfunded by $3 trillion plus.
  3. Inside WikiLeaks’ Leak Factory“, David Kushner, Mother Jones, 6 April 2010
  4. The empirical determinants of state fragility“, Graziella Bertocchi, VOX, 6 April 2010 — “This explores the determinants of state fragility in sub-Saharan Africa and finds that institutions – as measured by civil liberties and the number of revolutions – are the main drivers. It says institutions trump economic, geographic, and historical factors.”
  5. Without debate we’re crossing a big red line:  “Incomplete Picture on Justification for Killing American Citizen“, Max Fisher, The Atlantic, 7 April 2010
  6. The Myth of Market Fundamentalism“, Dean Baker, Counterpunch, 7 April 2010 — “The Rules are Written to Protect the Wealthy and the Powerful”
  7. Karzai called Erratic, even Druggie; In fact, he is posing as liberator in shadow of Empire“, Juan Cole, 7 April 2010
  8. Like any 3rd world country, we can develop only by tech transfer from more advanced nations:  “China offers high-speed rail to California“, New York Times, 7 April 2010
  9. Glenn Beck explains who Obama is Socialist, 8 April 2010 — Fun reading, until I realized millions of American believe this stuff.
  10. Iran collects is winnings from the Iraq War (they should send us a thank you note — “Rise of Iran Reveals Polarised Iraq“, Neil Arun in Erbil and Abeer Mohammed in Baghada, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 8 April 2010 — “Debate rages over Iran’s intentions in Iraq as it moves to eclipse American influence.”
  11. Gropping for victory in Afghanistan:  “A Substitute for Victory – Adopting a New Counterinsurgency Strategy in Afghanistan“, Bernard Finel, Foreign Affairs, 8 April 2010 — Interesting, but why should the Tailban negotiate, rather than just wait for us to leave?  Do they have “strongholds”?  Castles in the moutains?

Today’s contest!

What’s the Next ‘Global Warming’?“, Bret Stephens, columnist, Wall Street Journal, 6 APril 2010 — “Herewith I propose a contest to invent the next panic.”  See the comments for submissions.

Quote of the Day

Excerpt from “Nuclear Posture Review (or Nuclear Public Relations?)“, Stephen M. Walt, blog of Foreign Policy, 6 April 2010:

I’ll concede that this new statement may have some public relations value — i.e, it lowers the priority given to nuclear weapons in U.S. strategic thinking, consistent with Obama’s commitment to eventually reduce global nuclear arsenals. But from a purely strategic perspective, this new statement is largely meaningless. To the extent that it does matter, it may even be counter-productive.

Here’s why. No matter what the U.S. government says about its nuclear strategy, no potential adversary can confidently assume that the U.S. would stick to its declared policy in the event of a crisis or war. If you were a world leader thinking about launching a major conventional attack on an important U.S. ally or interest, or contemplating the use of chemical or biological weapons in a situation where the United States was involved, would you conclude that it was safe to do so simply because Barack Obama said back in 2010 that the U.S. wasn’t going to use nuclear weapons in that situation? Of course you wouldn’t, because there is absolutely nothing to stop the United States from changing its mind.

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