Irrationality behind chemical weapons – The Economist

With all the news about Syrian President Bashar Al-assad’s use of chemical weapons and US President Obama’s decision that a “red line” had finally been crossed, The Economist explains why international taboo and uproar over chemical weapons use is, while obviously not justified, is somewhat irrational in comparison to other ways of mass killing. Even Adolf … Continue reading

Aviation: Crowded skies, frustrated passengers – The Economist

Aviation: Crowded skies, frustrated passengers (The Economist) is an interesting article. Here’s an example of China’s three pillared political structure (military, party, and state) creating a situation where a relatively minor issue becomes entrenched as almost impossible to improve. On one hand, there is an abundance of caution when it comes to Chinese flight traffic. On … Continue reading

Who shapes China’s North Korea policy? – International Crisis Group

Who shapes China’s North Korea policy? (International Crisis Group), a 2011 interview with Hahm Chaibong, director of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, scares me a little. The combination of China’s seemingly ad hoc and ambiguous decision-making process for North Korean policy and North Korea’s volatility does not bode well for lasting peace on the Korean … Continue reading

Japan’s Silver Democracy – Foreign Affairs

Japan’s Silver Democracy by Foreign Affairs highlights how democracy can often forge paths that are at odds with economic policies that are objectively healthier for a country – democracy and the economy are not necessarily complimentary. This is also an example of democracy, while reflecting the needs and wants of its citizens, simultaneously stifling public discourse. … Continue reading

The war of the words – The Economist

George Orwell, one of the godfathers of linguistic determinism, argued that political language distorts the truth. He also famously said that simple language is better at conveying meaning, accurately and directly, when compared to longer, complex words.The Economist (The war of the words) however notes that when it comes to the language of politics, catchphrases can … Continue reading

The democratic coup d’état: a fallacy

In light of the recent killings of over 50 Muslim Brotherhood supporters (NYT) by the Egyptian military in Cairo after having deposed their first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi, Ozan O. Varol’s theory in the Harvard International Law Journal (PDF file) published last summer on “democratic coups d’état” understandably draws scepticism, or at least cautious … Continue reading