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China Looks West: What Is at Stake in Beijing’s ‘New Silk Road’ Project

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Not even two years into what will almost certainly be a ten-year tenure as China’s president, Xi Jinping has already had an impact on China’s foreign policy: standing up for what many Chinese see as their nation’s territorial sovereignty in maritime boundary disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, proposing a “new model of great power relations” to guide relations with the United States, and presiding over the consolidation of what Xi himself calls a “comprehensive strategic partnership” with Russia. But the most consequential diplomatic initiative of Xi’s presidency may turn out to be his calls to create a “New Silk Road Economic Belt” and a “Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century”: vast infrastructure and investment schemes aimed at expanding China’s economic connections to—and its political influence across—much of Eurasia. 

Successful implementation of Xi’s “one belt, one road” initiative is likely to be essential for China to meet some of its most pressing economic challenges. It is also likely to be critical to realizing the interest of many Chinese elites in a more “balanced” foreign policy—that is, in a diplomatic approach less reflexively accommodating of U.S. preferences—and in fostering a more genuinely multipolar international order. 

Over 2,100 years ago, China’s Han dynasty launched what would become the original “Silk Road,” dispatching emissaries from the ancient capital of Xian in 138 BC to establish economic and political relations with societies to China’s west. For more than a millennium, the Silk Road of yore opened markets for silk and other Chinese goods as far afield as Persia—in the process extending Chinese influence across Central Asia into what Westerners would eventually come to call “the Middle East.”
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'Two Percent Inflation' and The Fed's Current Mandate

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Over the last 100 years the Fed has had many mandates and policy changes in its pursuit of becoming the chief central economic planner for the United States. Not only has it pursued this utopian dream of planning the US economy and financing every boondoggle conceivable in the welfare/warfare state, it has become the manipulator of the premier world reserve currency.

As Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke explained to me, the once profoundly successful world currency – gold – was no longer money. This meant that he believed, and the world has accepted, the fiat dollar as the most important currency of the world, and the US has the privilege and responsibility for managing it. He might even believe, along with his Fed colleagues, both past and present, that the fiat dollar will replace gold for millennia to come. I remain unconvinced.
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Beware the Two Percent!

Why is the Federal Reserve the best friend of the warfare state? Watch Ron Paul lay down the history of this destructive institution...
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New Russia 'Spy' Scandal: US Foreign Policy Goes Retro

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Progressives have saddled themselves with a theory of history that sees the "march of progress" as an ever upwardly-bound journey to political perfection: thus the appellation "progressive," as in "things are getting progressively better." Yet history – real history, that is – lacks any such teleological plan or direction. It is characterized, instead, by ups and downs, golden ages and dark ages: the golden age of Greece and Rome was followed by centuries of ignorance and retrogression that we call – not without reason – the Dark Ages.

And while this characterization is meant to define the state of a culture in general – its mores, its level of technology, etc. – we can apply it to any field of human endeavor: e.g. the "golden age" of invention, the "dark age" of political repression signaled by the Alien and Sedition Acts – and also to the realm of foreign policy, where periods of relative peace are interrupted by periodic wars of aggression.

History, in other words, sometimes runs "backwards," and we are entering such a period today in our relations with Russia.
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After The 'Syriza Shock' - Now Comes The Hard Choice Of Escape Or Merely Re-setting The Terms of Greece’s EU Servitude

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We can heartily praise Alexis Tsirpras for calling bull on the destructive puzzle palace economics thrust on his country by the hypocrites and liars who rule from Brussels. And his finance minister designate, economist Yanis Varoufakis, is surely on the right track when he targets the rent-seeking bankers, big businesses and media operators who have plundered the Greek state for decades.

Indeed, his pledge that “we are going to destroy the Greek oligarchy system” should resonate throughout the length and breadth of Europe. After all, what has smothered growth, enterprise and hope in the EU is exactly the kind of crony capitalist corruption of economic life and exploitation of the state that had already wrecked the Greek economy—-even before the Trioka administered the coup de’ grace.

So the Syriza Shock is an inflection point. It represents the beginning of the end of unimpeded rule by the elitist apparatchiks who dominate the central banks and the economic policy machinery of Brussels, Washington and London. Overwhelmingly, their half-baked Keynesian and statist solutions have propped up the giant banks, fueled stupendous inflation of financial assets and enabled an era of obscene gambling windfalls to the very rich which is unprecedented in modern history.
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Education is Too Important Not to Leave to the Marketplace

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This week, events around the country will highlight the importance of parental control of education as part of National School Choice Week. This year’s events should attract more attention than prior years because of the growing rebellion against centralized education sparked by the federal Common Core curriculum.

The movement against Common Core has the potential to change American education. However, anti-Common Core activists must not be misled by politicians promoting “reforms” of the federal education bureaucracy, or legislation ending Common Core while leaving all other federal education programs intact. The only way to protect American children from future Common Core-like programs is to permanently padlock the Department of Education.
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Adios Cuba!

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It’s taken over half a century for the US to finally figure out how to neutralize pesky Communist Cuba. Invasions, air raids, crushing sanctions, attempts to murder the Castro leadership by exploding cigars and poisons, diplomatic isolation, poisoning crops – all failed.

Now, the lame duck Obama administration has finally figured out how to put an end to Cuba’s Communist system: human wave attacks by hordes of American tourists in loud golf wear yelling “USA, USA!” and waving Visa cards.

The flood gates open in March. Once this happens, the charming, lovely island of gracious people that I’ve known since my youth will go the way of Nineveh, Tyre and Atlantis. They’ll probably even rename eastern Cuba as Sandals III and Hedonism IV, while beautiful old Havana becomes Disney Pirate’s World.

My heart weeps at this prospect. What made Castro’s Cuba uniquely charming was its glorious dilapidation, quaint prudery, and freedom from consumer vulgarity.
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Beware a New Cold War

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The notion of a New Cold War with Russia first arrived in 2008 with the publication of Edward Lucas' book The New Cold War: The Future of Russia and the Threat to the West. It received some attention at the time, but the cold war construct in its title gained little traction until the 2014. Since the Ukraine has been in crisis the phrase "a New Cold War" has become fairly commonplace in the media. Part of the reason for this is that the emotional memory of the Cold War is still strong and 'cold war' remains an easy, ready and convenient trope for media commentators in need of dramatic content. However, we should be concerned with more than rhetorical overreach by writers of headlines, book titles and opinion pieces.

While "a New Cold War" has not yet been adopted as an official framework for US foreign and military policy, there are many foreign and military policy-makers who will be tempted by its appeal. We should be circumspect about following them down this path.

The Cold War

The original Cold War amplified, displaced, and generalized the post-WWII tension between the USSR and its former Western allies. As it developed it infected and transformed international relations globally, undermining potentials for integration and cooperation everywhere and in every field, including commerce. It fed on itself, rendering many lesser disagreements and disputes intractable once they were sucked into the dominant framework of highly conflictual and militarized relations. From a global and historical perspective, this became an inefficient and destructive dynamic.
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A Second Even More Unjustifiable Episode of Government Collection of Phone Records

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In the rush to sensationalize the Paris terrorist attacks and minimize all other news (for example, even more horrendous terrorist attacks in Nigeria), the American media has conveniently overlooked one major ill effect of the public hysteria it is helping to foment.

In a mini-redux of what happened subsequent to the 9/11 attacks, the American public, by confusing what's on TV with reality, is demonstrating what experts call "probability neglect." This phenomenon entails people excessively worrying about a rare event -- for example, a terrorist attack -- but being much less perturbed about much more common ways of dying by eating unhealthy foods, not exercising, smoking, failing to wear a seat belt, etc.

This excessive public fear allows the US government to run wild outside the Constitution and erode the civil liberties that make the United States unique, in the name of saving the populace from "terror" -- for example, unconstitutional indefinite jailing without charge or trial, the creation of kangaroo military tribunals as a substitute for civilian courts, illegally suspending people's right to challenge their detention, torture that violated  US and international law, and warrantless surveillance under the Patriot Act and even by violating existing law.
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The Ambiguity of Charlie Hebdo: France Under the Influence

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The Charlie Hebdo terrorist assassinations struck France at a moment when it has an unpopular government and a weak President, when factories are closing and jobs are being lost, when French economic policy is determined by Germany via the European Union and its foreign policy is determined by the United States via NATO. Except for the therapeutic moment of togetherness on January 11, the country feels buffeted by winds of conflict it cannot resist. 

There is a certain terrible symmetry playing out in France. Israel is deliberately and consistently doing all it can to excite fears among French Jews, in order to lure this desirable population into moving to Israel. Tsahal holds annual support drives in Paris, and a number of French Jews do military service in Israel. 

At the same time, the so-called “Islamic State”, as well as “al Qaeda in Yemen” and associated fanatic Islamic groups are working hard to recruit fighters out of the Muslim communities in France and other European countries. Some 1,400 jihadists have traveled to Syria from France to join the Holy War. They are lured by the heroic prospect of helping to “build the Caliphate”, a sort of Israel for Muslims, a holy land restored.
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