Connect to share and comment

Japan's Overblown Pessimism

WashPost: Europeans realize they must cut back. LAT: China moves into the Middle East as Washington moves out. GlobalPost: Turkey must finally choose sides.

Japan’s pessimism is overblown

Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, writes in the International Herald Tribune that Japanese society, particularly its business community, is disillusioned and fears the country’s economy may never recover. Bremmer argues that this pessimism is overblown because of new political cooperation, progress on US-Japan ties and a stable public.

QUOTE: In China, despite three decades of go-go growth, officials warn that continued growth of 7 to 8 percent is necessary to create enough new jobs to safeguard “social stability.” Japan, by contrast, will continue to enjoy relative domestic tranquility despite yet another year of growth at less than 2 percent. In that sense, at least, Japan’s leaders are the envy of the world.

Vietnam sees a dramatic increase in its strategic significance 

Yuriko Koike, Japan’s former minister of defense and national security adviser, writes in Project Syndicate that Vietnam’s strategic significance has dramatically increased as the nation has experienced transformations in its economy and foreign policy. Vietnam is now an important player in the region’s security affairs.

QUOTE: In recent months the country has played a pivotal role in helping to establish Asia’s emerging security order.

G20 summit reflects failures of countries to rebalance economies at home

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, writes in the Christian Science Monitor that failures at the G20 summit to bring about economic rebalancing between nations and within them threatens to cause further protectionist policies.

QUOTE: In the US, more and more income is concentrating at the top, thereby reducing the relative purchasing power of the vast American middle class. That means more pressure on job-creating exports to fill the gap.

Europeans realize they must cut back

Columnist Anne Applebaum writes in the Washington Post that Europeans and their leaders are realizing that their state sectors are too big and their public spending needs to be cut back.

QUOTE: The middle-class even knows in its heart of hearts that its subsidies, whether for mortgages, university tuition, or even health care, can't last.

China moves into the Middle East as Washington moves out

David Schenker, director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy,and Christina Lin, a visiting fellow at the institute, write in the Los Angeles Times that as the United States pulls away from the Middle East, China has been increasingly its presence and influence there.

QUOTE: Washington should work to strengthen its remaining regional allies and reestablish a presence in the region. Absent this kind of renewed commitment, China will continue to expand its footprint.

Don’t expect a Hollywood ending after Suu Kyi’s release

Columnist Gideon Rachman writes in the Financial Times that despite the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, there is no sign that the military junta in Myanmar is willing to give up power. Rachman argues that a Hollywood ending to the story of modern Myanmar is unlikely.

QUOTE: Ms Suu Kyi’s release comes just after rigged elections have secured a majority for a tame, pro-government party. The recently approved Burmese constitution also secures the military a dominant role in government. The generals appear to be digging in.

Turkey must finally choose sides

Correspondent Nichole Sobecki writes in GlobalPost that Turkey will finally have to choose which side in global politics it wants to be on at the upcoming NATO summit. At issue is whether the United States will be allowed to build a missile defense shield that is designed to counter Iran on Turkey’s soil.

QUOTE: Where Turkey falls on the issue will be seen as an important test as to whether it intends to maintain its Western orientation or turn its gaze more firmly eastward toward Syria, Russia and, of course, Iran.

Inflation deeply impacts China’s poor

Victor Shih, associate professor of political science at Northwestern University, writes in the Wall Street Journal that China’s inflation hits the poor the hardest because food prices have risen dramatically. The poor are also suffering from negative returns on their savings.

QUOTE: Given that nominal wages for a large number of households remain relatively flat, continual inflation alone will drive many into destitution.

Statecraft is an art not a science

Columnist David Brooks writes in the New York Times that the Liberals and Conservatives in the United States look at the economy in two different ways. The Liberals speak in rational, mathematical terms and argue they can make specific calculations about the country’s future. The Conservatives talk of emotion and psychology, referencing people’s anxiety and fears.

QUOTE: Far from entering the age of macroeconomic mastery and social science triumph, we seem to be entering an age in which statecraft is, once again, an art, not a science.

Obama successful develops ties to Asia

M K Bhadrakumar, formerly a diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service, writes in the Asia Times that despite reports that President Obama’s tour of Asia was a failure, the global leader showed that the United States does still have a secure footing in the region.

QUOTE: The larger implications of his Asia trip have been overlooked. The underlying theme was to develop regional counterweights to China, and there he is succeeding.