Friday Discussions

Time To End Foreign Aid To Dictators
Decrying what he terms “authoritarian development,” Will Easterly says it is time to stop delivering foreign aid to dictatorial regimes. The money transferred to these governments serves the dictator’s purpose, which is to secure their own power.

“So the development experts may get some roads built, but they are not maintained. Experts may sink boreholes for clean water, but the wells break down. Individuals do not have the political rights to protest disastrous public services, so they never improve. Meanwhile, dictators are left with cash and services to prop themselves up–while punishing their enemies,” Easterly writes.

Obama Failing To Live Up To Roosevelt Model
New Republic columnist John Judis argues that President Obama may have modeled himself after Teddy Roosevelt by trying to implement a “speak loudly and carry a big stick” foreign policy, he has failed to live up to that promise.

Obama’s leadership style has followed a pattern by which he “publicly articulated ends but ignored or slighted the development of the means to achieve them.” That style may have limited consequences in domestic policy, but where foreign policy is concerned, “it can lead to the perception of fecklessness, which can severely limit a country’s effectiveness.”

Is US Military Presence In Asia Benefitting China?
Stephen Ellis posits that a number of critical Chinese strategic interests may be benefitting from US military presence in East Asia.

To exemplify his contention, Ellis looks at the hypothetical scenario in which the US withdraws its forces from East Asia. If that were to happen, he says, Japan likely would respond by increasing its military to fill the vacuum, which would mean Beijing would have achieved a “pyrrhic victory” of little value to its goals.

Therefore, Ellis argues, China may simply decide to maintain the status quo, which “has so far proved highly effective at limiting Japan’s conventional military capabilities and aspirations.”

Similarly, in terms of nuclear proliferation, the presence of the US has muted any desires among Asian nations to pursue nuclear weapons, which, Ellis contends, “has produced real and significant strategic dividends for Beijing, including with regard to its core interests relating to Taiwan.”

Syria Enters Third Year On Deadly Note
Syria will be entering the third year of a brutal civil war that has claimed countless lives, but exactly how many is unknown. The United Nations, which pegged the death toll at 100,000 in July 2013, has stopped updating the toll due to deteriorating conditions on the ground. But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights counts 146,065 people killed in the violence.



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