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Authoritarianism is over-rated

IHT: Indonesia is caught between China and the US. FT: Imbalances plague the eurozone. GlobalPost: The Iraq war's biggest winner is Iran.

The US should not abandon its free trade commitment

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal argues that President Obama’s latest efforts to block Chinese imports in the hopes of boosting American exports will fail. These efforts will not reduce unemployment and may encourage China to retaliate.

QUOTE: Mr. Obama and Democrats are anxious over high unemployment. Rather than attacking Chinese imports, the Administration would be better off focusing on the real American job killers—such as higher regulatory costs, the political allocation of credit, and the enormous tax increase awaiting if the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire.

Don’t imitate China’s economic model

Chrystia Freeland, global editor at large for Thomson Reuters, writes in the Washington Post that Americans should be careful to not try to adopt China’s economic model despite its successes. She argues that authoritarianism is not the answer to America’s problems.

QUOTE: America can respect China without imitating it. Dictators are easy to admire, especially at a distance. Free markets and free societies always look messy and inefficient, especially up close. But when it comes to inventing the modern world, and living at its edge, so far the best model the world has come up with is democratic capitalism.

Will Indonesia have to choose sides?

Stanley A. Weiss, the founding chairman of Business Executives for National Security, a nonpartisan organization based in Washington, writes in the International Herald Tribune that Indonesia must struggle to keep its autonomy and stay focused on its self-interests while a rivalry plays out between China and the United States in Southeast Asia.

QUOTE: Indonesia is East Asia’s largest democracy and the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation to maintain good relations with America. Next year, it will chair the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations …  It is not a stretch to say that as Indonesia goes, so goes Asia, and America’s security in the region.

Republicans express their rage at Obama

Columnist Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times that rage is flourishing in the United States against President Obama because many Republicans don’t consider government led by a liberal legitimate.

QUOTE: Wall Street has turned on Mr. Obama with a vengeance: last month Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire chairman of the Blackstone Group, the private equity giant, compared proposals to end tax loopholes for hedge fund managers with the Nazi invasion of Poland.

Imbalances plague the eurozone

Columnist Wolfgang Münchau writes in the Financial Times that imbalances within the eurozone will persist and may even get worse. He argues that these imbalances will pose a greater threat to the eurozone than national deficits.

QUOTE: The reason for the lack of demand-side adjustment is that Europe’s internal market is not fully functioning, certainly not at the consumer level.

The Iraq war’s biggest winner is Iran

Correspondent Mohamad Bazzi writes in GlobalPost that the war in Iraq has upset the balance in the region and enabled Iran to “consolidate its role” as the dominant player in the Persian Gulf. He argues that despite the United State’s objectives, the region is less stable than before the war began.

QUOTE: Iran is the biggest beneficiary of the American misadventure in Iraq. The US ousted Tehran’s sworn enemy, Saddam Hussein, from power. Then Washington helped install a Shiite government for the first time in Iraq’s modern history. As US troops became mired in fighting an insurgency and containing a civil war, Iran extended its influence over all of Iraq’s Shiite factions.

North Korean elite support Kim Jong Il’s son

Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, writes in the Wall Street Journal that the political elite in North Korea are supporting Kim Jong Il’s son to be the leader’s successor because they believe he will maintain the status quo.

QUOTE: If Kim Jong Il is going to die soon, his youngest son, being weak, embarrassingly young and lacking a power base of his own, is almost certain to become a puppet. Whatever he secretly thinks about his country's future, for the first few years of his reign he will have no choice but to obediently sign the policy papers drafted by the same people who have prepared such papers for his father.

Japanese leader would be a disaster

An editorial in the Financial Times argues that Ichiro Ozawa would be a “disaster” as prime minister of Japan. He has contradictory foreign policy stances, a “destructive” domestic record and is disliked by most Japanese.

QUOTE: If the DPJ makes him its head, and hence prime minister, it will have betrayed its promise to bring Japan a new kind of politics. If it goes on to surrender power, it will only have itself to blame.

China meddles in India-Pakistan affairs

The Banyan’s notebook column in the Economist argues that China no longer supports India’s claim to Jammu and Kashmir. It states that China’s growing relationship with Pakistan and sympathy for its claim over Kashmir are unwelcome for India.

QUOTE: It might also be seen as a way of bolstering China’s position in possible future negotiations over Indian-claimed territory it now occupies.

Obama’s stimulus carries big price tag but fails to deliver

An editorial in the New York Post argues that President Obama’s $800 billion economic stimulus program has cost more than the entire Iraq war, and it has failed to bring economic relief to Americans.

QUOTE: Even with that vast, taxpayer-funded infusion, the economy remains stagnant, with unemployment pushing hard against 10 percent.