Wednesday Water Cooler

Sanctions On Cuba: More Than A Black And White Issue
Michael J. Totten had argued for some time for the US to life the embargo on Cuba. Until he traveled there.

“After spending a few weeks in Cuba in October and November, however, I came home feeling less certain that the embargo was an anachronism. The ailing Fidel Castro handed power to his less ideological brother Raúl a few years ago, and the regime finally realizes what has been obvious to everyone else for what seems like forever: communism is an epic failure. Change is at last on the horizon for the island, and there’s a chance that maybe—just maybe—the embargo might help it finally arrive,” he writes.

As much as Totten’s view had been shaken by his travel to Cuba, he did not reverse his view that the sanctions are – in today’s world – a bit of an anachronism.

” The embargo does harm the Cuban economy—after all, that’s the point—but the bankrupt communist system inflicts far more damage, and in any case the decision to break off economic relations was made not by the United States but by Fidel Castro.  Cuba isn’t yoked to Moscow any longer, now that the Soviet Union has ceased to exist, but its economic system is still mostly communist. The government owns all major industries, including what in normal countries are small businesses like restaurants and bars, so the majority of Cubans work for the state. Salaries are capped at twenty dollars a month and supplemented with a ration card,” he adds.

Is It Time To Let Asia Go Nuclear?
According to Harvey M. Sapolsky and Christine M. Leah of MIT Security Studies contend allowing Asian nations to obtain nuclear weapons would not have a detrimental impact.
“In Asia they can stop a conventional arms race that is forcing the United States to invest in weapons that can block the Chinese military on its doorstep, thousands of miles from our own. Let our Asian allies defend themselves with the weapon that is the great equalizer.”Tailored proliferation would not likely be destabilizing. Asia is not the Middle East. Japan, South Korea, Australia, and even Taiwan are strong democracies. They have stable political regimes. Government leaders are accountable to democratic institutions. Civilian control of the military is strong. And they don’t have a history of lobbing missiles at each other—they are much more risk-averse than Egypt, Syria or Iran. America’s allies would be responsible nuclear weapon states,” the authors assert.In fact, they argue, if the protective shield of the US were removed it might make Asian nations less likely to engage in tense exchanges with China over territories that have been in dispute since before World War II.

“Confident that the United States protects them, our allies have even begun to squabble with China over strings of uninhabited islands in the hope that there is oil out there. It is time to give them a dose of fiscal and military reality. And the way to do that is to stop standing between them and their nuclear-armed neighbors. It will not be long before they realize the value of having their own nuclear weapons. The waters of the Pacific under those arrangements will stay calm, and we will save a fortune.”

New Report Examines Globalization Of Science And Technology
When the issue of globalization is addressed, most people tend to think of it in terms of economic impact, but a new report shows the effect on science and technology.

The report, “The Research & Innovation Performance of the G20,” focused on the G20 nations.

“The number of papers recorded in Web of Science® for most G20 nations has been increasing during the last decade, as the world’s research capacity has expanded. Some nations, however, have increased production faster than others, resulting in shifting world shares. For example, the world share for China has increased from 5.6% in 2003 to 14% in 2012, whereas that of the United States has fallen from 33% to 27.8% over the same period. In general, world shares for nations with mature scientific enterprises have declined and those of developing nations have risen,” the report found.

Is There Now A Cost To Free Speech In The West?
Writing in The Spectator, Mark Steyn contends the intellectual Left is attempting to influence the public debate by silencing the voices with whom they differ.

“I’m opposed to the notion of official ideology — not just fascism, Communism and Baathism, but the fluffier ones, too, like ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘climate change’ and ‘marriage equality’. Because the more topics you rule out of discussion — immigration, Islam, ‘gender fluidity’ — the more you delegitimise the political system,” he asserts.


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