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What to do about Myanmar

FT: Regional pride grows in China. WSJ: India should open up its retail industry. Project Syndicate: Which way will Russia go?

American policymakers have suffered a ‘failure of nerve’

Paul Krugman and Robin Wells analyze in the New York Review of Books the main causes of the recession of 2008. They then explore possibilities for how the U.S. government can pull the nation out of its economic slump. They argue that “self-induced paralysis” has prevented policymakers from addressing America’s serious unemployment crisis.

QUOTE: There is room for action, both monetary and fiscal. But politicians, government officials, and economists alike have suffered a failure of nerve—a failure for which millions of workers will pay a heavy price.

Regional pride grows in China

Columnist David Pilling writes in the Financial Times that there is a growing desire among people in China to preserve their region’s cultural and linguistic differences.

QUOTE: Regional stirrings are not, in any way, “anti-Chinese.” Many Cantonese speakers celebrate what they view as their preservation of ancient Chinese. If you read Tang-dynasty poetry aloud in Cantonese, it rhymes. In Mandarin, it does not.

Fears grow that the Philippine president will follow Obama’s path

Southeast Asia editor Shawn W Crispin writes in the Asia Times that Philippine President Benigno Aquino came to power by making campaign promises to reform the country and end corruption. However, analysts are skeptical that he will be able to leverage his promises into tangible reforms and worry his support will drop like that of President Barack Obama’s.

QUOTE: Privately, Aquino's aides look askance at Obama's popular slippage and express concerns about the similarly steep expectations surrounding their reformist government.

The West needs a nuanced approach with Myanmar

Lex Rieffel, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and David Steinberg, distinguished professor of Asian studies at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, write in GlobalPost that the United States and other Western nations should not be too quick to condemn the Burmese junta’s election as undemocratic and unjust. The West would have more success helping the Burmese people, they argue, by taking a nuanced approach that encourages democratic and economic reforms.

QUOTE: The path to democratic rule in most Asian countries has been a long one associated with periods of authoritarian rule driving rapid economic growth based on free market principles, and the opening of alternative avenues of social mobility. In the process, middle classes with a vested interest in pluralism and good governance have been created.

Obama finally enters the debate – with passion

An editorial in the New York Times welcomes Obama’s forceful and passionate speeches on how to improve the American economy. It argues that Obama is right to attack the Republicans’ plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

QUOTE: [Obama] said that to create jobs and stabilize the economy, the federal government will have to help businesses invest more, and it will have to spend some more, for a while longer.

India should open up its retail industry

Arvind Singhal, chairman of Technopak, writes in the Wall Street Journal that India should liberalize its retail industry in order to keep retail prices under control. This would help millions of the poor who cannot afford spiraling prices.

QUOTE: Delhi needs to focus on creating an investment environment that encourages entrepreneurs to tackle the almost criminal wastage of food and other perishable products in the supply chain from farm to kitchen.

What will Russia’s future hold?

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., a former U.S. assistant secretary of defense and a professor at Harvard University, writes on Project Syndicate that Russia might face a difficult time modernizing because of its high level of corruption, state interferences and weak laws. However, others argue it will be able to implement reforms and modernize its economy.

QUOTE: Whatever the outcome, because of its residual nuclear strength, its great human capital, its skills in cyber-technology, and its location in both Europe and Asia, Russia will have the resources to cause major problems for or to make major contributions to a globalized world. We all have an interest in Russian reform.

Hillary Clinton redeems the Obama administration

National affairs correspondent Tunku Varadarajan writes in the Daily Beast that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent speech in which she demanded that the United States defend its democratic values gave a strong message to the nation and international community. Clinton insisted that the United States act as a leader once again.

QUOTE: What is so piquant here, in this administration, is not the fact, plain to behold, that Hillary understands that Obama is president. It is the growing sense that Hillary would have made a much, much better president than Obama.

Britain to announce severe spending cuts

Columnist Benedict Brogan writes in the Daily Telegraph that Britain should brace itself for the announcement next month of the country’s upcoming budget. The spending cuts will be drastic and have significant policy implications.

QUOTE: Things look unexpectedly tough for the Conservative leadership this week. The political narrative is running against them. But they shouldn't fret too much. It is going to get far, far worse.

Anger over the stimulus and health care will help the Republicans

Karl Rove, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, writes in the Wall Street Journal that the Republicans are likely to do well in the upcoming House of Representatives elections because the American public is angry with the Democrats over the stimulus package and health care reform.

QUOTE: No Democratic incumbent has run a single ad this summer heralding health-care reform, while several have run ads emphasizing their opposition to it. Praise for the stimulus is rare even from the lips of Democratic candidates.