Zuma Can’t Dance

At a campaign rally for Jacob Zuma I attended last spring, the notorious big man wowed the crowd by leading them in the songs and dances of the apartheid-era liberation movement.  But now in office and subjected to the pressures of pleasing his party and an economic recession, Zuma faces a faster beat.  And it’s … Continue reading

So Forget What I Said About Alberto Contador…

From the New York Times: “My relationship with Lance is zero,” Contador said at a news conference, one day after winning his second Tour.  “He is a great rider and has completed a great race, but it is another thing on a personal level, where I have never had great admiration for him and I … Continue reading

Climate and Trade Discussion Needs a Reality Check

Since the narrow passage in the U.S. House last month of climate-change legislation that gave an OK to so-called border adjustments for imports from countries that have not approved similar policies, various policymakers and commentators have debated whether this is a good idea. President Obama took a surprisingly tough stance on the House action, condemning … Continue reading

Senator puts parochial interests ahead of nation’s. In other news, dog bites man

Besides telling the world that he is not a nail, Chuck Grassley has been the leading Republican voice on health care reform and now seems intent on making his mark on South American and trade policy. Senator Grassley has put a hold on the confirmation of Thomas Shannon as the Ambassador to Brazil. His reason? … Continue reading

Simon Johnson to China: Do it, I dare ya

Hillary Clinton and Tim Geithner continue their high level talks with the Chinese government, the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, today. The meetings are being heralded as a replacement for the G8 summits of the past (some observers have called the US-China relationship the “G-2”). The two countries will be discussing a whole host of issues … Continue reading

AID: Consider the purpose!

Fivethirtyeight.com, one of my favorite blogs that features stellar insights on American politics and even contributed some great analysis on the Iranian political crisis, has waded into the waters of foreign aid today.  And it made for a pretty lame post. First of all, it’s important to point out that drawing conclusions from aid statistics … Continue reading

Sealing off from the world

Most people see this story, via Matt Yglesias and ask themselves “How on God’s green earth is this even relevant?” I read the same words and see the eventually downfall of the international economic system and the emergence of neo-mercantilism. Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating just a little bit. The story of the seal tariff … Continue reading

Let’s Talk Tour

I wasn’t expecting to blog much about international sports, but then I realized that I’ve been following every stage of the Tour de France. So for a moment I’ll strike that condescending tone that the few Americans who follow sports important in other countries have earned the right to take.  And this may be shocking to … Continue reading

Why the Ukraine-Georgia Trip Now, and Really, Why at All?

Vice-President Biden’s trip to Ukraine and Georgia this week raises three key questions.  (1) What is Joe Biden’s role in the administration’s foreign policy? (2) Is there any strategic value to scheduling a trip to these countries so soon after President Obama’s big show of reaching out to Russia? (3) Is there any stategic value … Continue reading

It’s Not About the Establishment

Just a quick point that I think is beginning to be lost in the coverage of the ongoing political crisis in Iran. Basically every article keeps emphasizing the fundamental split in the Iranian clerical and political establishment. It’s clear why– given the state of Iran and its constitutional system, that’s the best hope for change … Continue reading