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Lessons from the Kremlin

FT: Eurozone reforms must focus on growth. LATimes: Newfound wealth worries China. WSJ: Is Bangladesh now a role model?

Asian neighbors watch closely as China flexes its muscles

Columnist David Pilling writes in the Financial Times that China has begun pursuing its interests more aggressively and this has created angst in the region, signaling to its neighbors that they must be on alert as China rises.

QUOTE: No one really knows how Beijing would behave if it gained anything like the power Washington has so long enjoyed. That is why Asia looks so closely at incidents such as China’s diplomatic brawl with Japan – for clues as to what the future might hold.

If America’s dollar weakens, so too will its international heft

Paul Kennedy, professor of history and director of International Security Studies at Yale University, writes in the New York Times that pushing China to revalue its currency will not boost the American economy. He argues that if the Chinese yuan appreciates, it will cause America's influence and the dollar to weaken.

QUOTE: The more the dollar weakens (or other currencies increase in value, which is the same thing), the more that America’s international heft diminishes. You can’t possess international strength on a slipping currency.

The Kremlin teaches a lesson

Correspondent Julia Ioffe writes in Foreign Policy that the firing of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov this week reveals that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin still controls Russia and can order President Dmitry Medvedev to do his dirty work when necessary. It also made clear that anyone who humiliates the Kremlin will face consequences.

QUOTE: Those elites, who have relaxed a bit under the thaw-with-a-Medvedev-face, had to be shown that you don't talk back to the Kremlin and that the Kremlin is never, ever wrong.

Eurozone reforms must focus on growth

Simon Tilford, chief economist at the think-tank the Centre for European Reform, writes in the Financial Times that without a sustained economic recovery, the eurozone will continue to experience financial crises, and recent reform efforts will fail.

QUOTE: Reforms therefore must centre on removing obstacles to growth, meaning a concerted drive to deepen the single market, recapitalise banks and ensure greater fiscal union. In short, reforms must tighten economic and political integration.

With economy in ruins, North Korea faces unstable future

Yoon Young-kwan, former South Korean foreign minister, writes in Beirut’s The Daily Star that regardless of whether or not Kim Jong-Il’s son takes over as the new leader of North Korea, the nation faces an unstable future. With the economy in a state of crisis, the next leader will have no opportunity to establish his grip on power.

QUOTE: The dynamics of the relationship between North Korea’s people and its rulers seems to be changing fundamentally. One troubling aspect of this change is that the new leader may feel the need to resort to brute force more frequently in order to suppress popular resistance.

Fewer Liberals in America means bad news for Congressional Democrats

Columnist David S. Broder writes in the Washington Post that Democrats may take a pounding at the polls in November because fewer Americans now align themselves with Liberals.

QUOTE: There simply are fewer liberal votes to be won this time. And, as the Third Way memo says, "While the middle has always played a pivotal role in American electoral politics, where they swing this fall will certainly decide the fate of the Democratic majority."

Newfound wealth worries China

Columnist Doyle McManus writes in the Los Angeles Times that the Chinese are anxious about the country’s new wealth. Concerns are rising over housing costs, availability of decent jobs, conspicuous consumption, income inequalities and a new, Westernized generation.

QUOTE: As members of China's post-'80s generation rise to positions of authority, it seems likely that political change will follow. But don't forget the most remarkable thing of all: how adaptable China's hierarchical system of authority has proved despite waves of massive change.

Obama must stand up to demands for discriminatory trade policies

Jagdish Bhagwati, professor of economics and law at Columbia University and senior fellow in international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Arvind Panagariya, professor of economics and Indian political economy at Columbia University, write in Project Syndicate that the Obama administration should stand up against efforts to put through discriminatory trade policies. Such measures violate World Trade Organization regulations and hurt free trade efforts.

QUOTE: Is it too unrealistic to hope that the Obama administration, which has so far been far too responsive to weak economics and strong politics, will stand up to these demands?

Key to North Korean stability may lie in Kim Jong-Il’s longevity

In an interview with, National Intelligence Fellow Sue Mi Terry states that if North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il dies before the nation has accepted his succession plan, there could be trouble within the regime. She argues that the new leadership would initially be very fragile.

QUOTE: The key to making this particular succession process go smoothly depends on Kim Jong-Il living long enough for people to really buy into this. Kim Jong-Il has just begun the selling process to the military and the public. If he is able to sell it to the military and everyone else, I think he'll have a better chance.

Pakistan could learn from Bangladesh

Columnist Sadanand Dhume writes in the Wall Street Journal that despite its rocky past, Bangladesh has become a model for development. It has managed to grow its economy, become a major garment exporter, curb population growth and confront terrorism and radical Islamic ideology. 

QUOTE: Nearly 40 years ago, only the most reckless optimist would have bet on flood-prone, war-ravaged Bangladesh over relatively stable and prosperous Pakistan. But with a higher growth rate, a lower birth rate, and a more internationally competitive economy, yesterday's basket case may have the last laugh.