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Beware of the angry middle class

Foreign Policy: China’s neighbors try to hedge against the superpower’s rise. Daily Beast: Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to cost $4T - $6T. Guardian: Europe courts Russia, again.

Japan should be more proactive in its defense policies

Michael Auslin, director of Japan studies at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in the Wall Street Journal that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan should follow through on a new report that pushes the country to adapt proactive defense policies. Auslin argues that Japan should be more involved from a security standpoint in the Asia-Pacific region.

QUOTE: The squeeze on Japan's companies and the roiling waters around the Senkakus are evidence enough that, as uncomfortable as it may be, Japan must think about how to shape the regional security environment before it gets shaped by others.

China’s neighbors try to hedge against the superpower’s rise

John Lee, a foreign policy fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney, writes in Foreign Policy that China’s neighbors want the rising superpower to be a strong country but not necessarily a dominant one.

QUOTE: Beijing's neighbors are beginning to look for ways to hedge against China's rise and even help restrain Beijing's strategic options -- and that means that they're looking at the United States' presence in the region with new eyes.

IMF must take action over currency disputes

Terrence Keeley, senior managing principal of Sovereign Trends, writes in the Financial Times that the International Monetary Fund is not doing its job of ensuring a sound global economy by promoting international rebalancing and adjustment. It needs to take action.

QUOTE: Currency intervention, excessively conducted and contrary to the promotion of balanced, sustainable global growth, has to be called out and punished, full stop. The IMF – not the G20 – already has the legal responsibility and technical capability to enforce such principles. Where is the will?

Britain loses the goodwill of the middle class

Columnist Simon Heffer writes in London’s the Daily Telegraph that Britain should watch the French streets closely as the British government is also close to losing the goodwill of the middle class. Britain may soon experience anger from the middle class when they feel the effects of the deep spending cuts.

LINK: The middle classes … have for years been losing confidence in authority in all its forms. They have developed a cynicism of a sort of which the average trade unionist would be proud.

US Republicans promote the same – bad – ideas

Columnist Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times that US Republican candidates are campaigning on the same economic and political ideas that got the country into the financial crisis in the first place. They speak of tax cuts, immediately cutting public spending and rolling back financial regulation.

QUOTE: Let’s repeal our limited health care reform rather than see what works and then fix it. Let’s oppose the free-trade system that made us rich.

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cast a long shadow on the US economy

Linda Bilmes, professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, writes in the Daily Beast that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost the United States between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. While this gets little media attention, the cost of the war is what will continue to bring down the US economy.

QUOTE:It is this spending (and the accompanying debt) that will one day need to be paid, that is truly haunting the November elections. We just don't care to connect the dots. Iraq and Afghanistan cast a long shadow. We will be living with their legacy for decades.

China faces contrasts and challenges at its frontiers

Correspondent Kathleen E. McLaughlin explores in GlobalPost China’s 14,000 miles of international borders and looks at why the country’s biggest and most difficult problems often seem to take shape there.

QUOTE: By looking at border issues through the eyes of a prostitute from Myanmar, a Chinese businessman trading with North Korea, Muslim Uighur teenagers and others, "Borderland" seeks to better explain China’s contrasts and challenges by starting on its frontiers.

Singapore tightens immigration laws

Journalist Megawati Wijaya writes in the Asia Times that Singapore has in the past relied on foreign labor to propel its economy. But as Singapore faces economic troubles, it has begun to tighten its immigration laws.

QUOTE: The global financial crisis has resulted in sharp competition for well-paid jobs and with many companies in retrenchment mode a divide has opened between locals and foreigners.

Europe courts Russia, again

Columnist Simon Tisdall writes in the Guardian that European leaders are suddenly showing a desire to embrace Russia again. This is partly due to a sense that a weakened America can no longer ensure Europe’s freedom or Russia’s good behavior.

QUOTE: A growing consensus on 21st-century security threats, including terrorism and insurgencies, is one strong magnet. Growing economic and financial interdependence, most of all in the energy sector, are among the other factors pulling Europe and Russia together.

Will Aung San Suu Kyi emerge a changed woman?

Weekly edition editor Clayton Jones questions in the Christian Science Monitor how Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi will act if the Burmese junta goes forward with plans to release her after the election. He wonders if she will still have the “feistiness” that brought her support 20 years ago, or if time under house arrest will have changed her.

QUOTE: In 1988, when she first began to fight for democracy after a popular revolt, she was not a natural politician. And she was often curt with foreign journalists, not realizing how much they can shine a spotlight on small countries struggling for freedom.