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Myanmar votes, sort of

Project Syndicate: Impotence breeds nationalism in China. NYT: US and India try to restart relationship. Economist: Time for Italy’s Berlusconi to move on.

The G20 should stick to small, incremental steps

An opinion piece in the Economist argues that the G20 has made some notable accomplishments recently such as steps to reform the International Monetary Fund. World leaders must apply the same kind of “urgent incrementalism” to rebalancing the global economy at the upcoming G20 meeting in Seoul.

QUOTE: Big-picture debates on the future of the international monetary system rarely yield results, while diverting attention from smaller, practical goals. France should take note. The G20 will remain worth having only if it sticks to the art of the possible.

Don’t turn your back on Myanmar

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen writes in the Indian magazine Outlook that the global community and especially Myanmar’s neighbors must do more to affect democratic change in the country. He writes that while democracy has grown around the world, the ruling junta in Myanmar has gotten more authoritarian and tyrannical. The international community should denounce the country’s elections.

QUOTE: Nothing perhaps is more important right now than global public discussion on the real nature of the electoral fraud. The expressions of pious hopes that things will change after the elections are totally contrary to reasoned analysis of what is going on in Burma.

Feelings of weakness breed nationalism in China

Ian Buruma, professor of democracy and human rights at Bard College, writes in Project Syndicate that China’s recent aggression is in sharp contrast to its past diplomatic deftness. Buruma argues that its change in behavior is a result of perceived weakness within the country.

QUOTE: Nationalism is often fed by a sense of impotence. When citizens feel disempowered by an authoritarian government, the next best thing is to feel empowered by national prowess.

US and India try to restart relationship

Journalist Jim Yardley writes in the New York Times that the United States and India are trying to forge stronger ties, but their relationship has long been tainted by friction over Pakistan and trade disagreements.

QUOTE: The thematic emphasis of [President Obama’s] visit is on shared democratic values — a pointed dig at China — and what the two countries say are shared opportunities.

Obama’s critics question wisdom of his Asia tour

Washington bureau chief Edward Luce writes in the Financial Times that President Obama’s tour of Asia has led to more indignation from his critics in the United States who consider the trip too costly and an escape from the country’s troubling economic times.

QUOTE: America still faces the real specter of years of substandard growth. The consequences of stagnation would be stark. America’s strategic elites now routinely game out where and how the Pentagon should scale down its global footprint (China’s neighborhood being exempt).

The West reexamines the size and role of the state

Columnist Janet Daley writes in the Daily Telegraph that the rich countries of the West are rethinking what government means, how big it should be and what its roles and responsibilities should entail.

QUOTE: The plan is not to make themselves rich enough once again to do all the things that they used to do, but to rethink the whole enterprise so that government never again finds itself so extravagantly overextended.

The US can now move forward on free-trade pact with South Korea

An editorial in the Los Angeles Times argues that the Democratic Party’s losses in the midterm elections may mean that President Obama has a better chance reviving the US-South Korea free-trade pact. The president will have to move forward without the support of the politically powerful labor unions.

QUOTE: Union fears that lower trade barriers will prompt a loss of American jobs not only ignore the job growth that can be expected as South Korean consumers buy more American products, but the positive (and job-producing) economic impacts of lower prices for South Korean goods in the United States.

Burmese find ways to protest election

Journalist Larry Jagan writes in the Asia Times that the Burmese are finding ways to protest an election that has been far from free and fair. People are voicing their anger at the regime by boycotting the election entirely or trying to vote for the military’s lesser political ally.

QUOTE: "This is the first chance since 1990 for people to punish the government," a Myanmar academic told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity. "There will be a strong ground swell of support for any candidate who is not USDP," he predicted.

Time for Italy’s Berlusconi to move on

An opinion piece in the Economist argues that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi should finally resign for the good of his country. Every new scandal hurts his and the country’s reputation and sense of legitimacy. The scandals also mask the nation’s larger problems.

QUOTE: Mr Berlusconi’s legal and other preoccupations have distracted him and his ministers from the pursuit of any of the hard reforms that are necessary to restore the economy to long-term health.

Obama must plot his comeback carefully

Columnist Frank Rich writes in the New York Times that President Obama can make a come back with the American people if he addresses both his communications and governance problems.

QUOTE: [We won’t know] Obama’s true measure until he provides a coherent alternative of his own about how he intends to put Americans back to work and keep them in their homes. If he has such a plan, few, if any, Americans have any idea what it is.