The second element shared by both revolutionary Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood is a model of political Islam that uniquely combined popular sovereignty and Islamic values in the paradoxical phrase, “Islamic Republic.” This hybrid theory departed from the long-seated Sunni model of functional differentiation between the political and the religious in Islamic history and has invited fierce opposition from both clerical establishment and the throne. In Saudi Arabia, Islam and the state are two separate entities that have come together only on the basis of the exigencies of practical politics. Hence, Saudi Arabia supports a minimalist, literal reading of Sharia law in which what matters are symbolic private laws and issues of personal piety including the hijab, abstinence from alcohol, marriage and divorce, and so on. According to this pattern of interaction between mosque and state, Islamic authorities don’t intervene in the larger political issues of foreign policy and macroeconomics, which goes against the version of Islam both Iran and the Brotherhood advocate.
Much more of interest in this short read.
You can read more here.
Here is one piece
U.S. policymakers should recognize that China’s behavior in the sea is based on its perception of how the United States will respond. The lack of U.S. resistance has led Beijing to conclude that the United States will not compromise its relationship with China over the South China Sea. As a result, the biggest threat to the United States today in Asia is Chinese hegemony, not great-power war. U.S. regional leadership is much more likely to go out with a whimper than with a bang.
here is another
For the same reason, U.S. President Donald Trump’s idea of reviving President Ronald Reagan’s strategy of “peace through strength” by beefing up the U.S. military will not hold China back on its own. The problem has never been that China does not respect U.S. military might. On the contrary, it fears that it would suffer badly in a war with the United States. But China also believes that the United States will impose only small costs for misdeeds that stop short of outright aggression. No matter how many more warships, fighter jets, and nuclear weapons the United States builds, that calculus will not change.
The publication is Foreign Affairs. I disagree with most of what the author has to say but the piece is well written and worth a read.
You can read the rest here.
Xi’s narrative of rejuvenation has resonated deeply among today’s Chinese. It places the country not only at the center of the international system but also above it, casting the nation as one that inspires emulation by the force of its advanced culture and economic achievements. It also evokes historical memories of a time when China received tribute from the rest of the world, was a source of world-class innovation, and was a fearless seafaring power. And it implies that in the past, China did not need to use force: its virtue alone engendered deference from others.
The subtile of the article is How China’s Imagined Past Shapes its Present and the author is Elizabeth Economy. You can read the rest here.
From the WaPo
NATO allies of the United States plan to boost their defense spending by 4.3 percent this year, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday, a response in part to intense pressure from President Trump that the nations invest more in their militaries.
The rest can be found here.
According to Graham Allison, he wants
How will Xi “make China great again”? After studying the man, listening to his words, and speaking to those who understand him best, I believe for Xi this means:
- Returning China to the predominance it enjoyed in Asia before the West intruded;
- Reestablishing control over the territories the Communist Party considers to be “greater China,” including not just Xinjiang and Tibet on the mainland, but Hong Kong and Taiwan;
- Recovering its historic sphere of influence along its borders and in the adjacent seas so that others give it the deference great nations have always demanded;
- Commanding the respect of other great powers in the councils of the world.
and then notes
At the core of these national goals is a civilizational creed that sees China as the center of the universe. In the Chinese language, the word for China, zhong guo (中国), means “Middle Kingdom.” “Middle” refers not to the space between other, rival kingdoms, but to all that lies between heaven and earth. As Lee summarized the worldview shared by hundreds of Chinese officials who sought his advice, they “recall a world in which China was dominant and other states related to them as supplicants to a superior, as vassals that came to Beijing bearing tribute.” In this narrative, the rise of the West in recent centuries is a historical anomaly, reflecting China’s technological and military weakness when it faced dominant imperial powers during a “century of humiliation” from roughly 1839 to 1949. Xi Jinping has promised his fellow citizens: no more.
This is from a May 2017 and you can read the rest here.
All told, the conflict has displaced between two million and three and a half million people. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at least 1.6 million Ukrainians moved west toward Ukraine’s capital, Kiev as a result of the fighting. Russia says that 2.6 million Ukrainians moved east. In its report ending March 12, the refugee agency also estimated that from mid-April 2014 to mid-March 2017, at least 9,940 people have been killed and 23,455 wounded.
That is from a June 20th NYT piece titled The War No One Notices In Ukraine.
Excellent editorial by the NYT on what role Iran plays in American Middle Eastern “strategy.”
Trump administration officials worry that the Iranians, aided by the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, will seek control of enough territory in two adjacent countries, Syria and Iraq, so as to establish a land bridge from Tehran all the way to Lebanon. There they could resupply their Hezbollah allies, thus enlarging their regional influence.
I tend not to think that an emergence of a “Persian Crescent” is as big of a deal as other tend to make it be. Either way, without any conceviable strategy towards Iran in operation, the U.S. should cooperate with Tehran on overlapping interests (i.e. stability in Iraq, defeating ISIS, and frankly, keeping Assad in power) while the contrasting interests appear to be on the backplate (nuclear spread, Iranian meddling in Yemen (at least I haven’t heard of any Iranian meddling in the conflict as of lately) and state sponsored terrorism directed at Israel).
The New American Foundation has this
In the post-9/11 era, conventional wisdom holds that the jihadist threat is foreign. The conventional wisdom is understandable; after all it was 19 Arab hijackers who infiltrated the United States and conducted the 9/11 attacks. Yet today, as Anwar al-Awlaki, the American born cleric who became a leader in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, put it in a 2010 post, “Jihad is becoming as American as apple pie.” Far from being foreign infiltrators, the large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents. Moreover, while a range of citizenship statuses are represented, every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident.
They also provide the following descriptions of successful terrorist post 9/11.
Of the thirteen lethal jihadist terrorists in the United States since 9/11:
- three are African-Americans
- three are from families that hailed originally from Pakistan
- one was born in Kuwait to Palestinian-Jordanian parents
- one is a White convert born in Texas.
- two came from Russia as children
- one emigrated from Egypt and conducted his attack a decade after coming to the United States
- and one each had families that originally came from Kuwait and Afghanistan
This only proves what so many have already pointed out; that the travel ban was about politics and not about policy.
Short with informative graphics. You can read more here.
I don’t intend for this blog to be a “watchdog” site but I found this interesting.
There is no single answer to this question. Construction costs per mile of road depend on location, terrain, type of construction, number of lanes, lane width, durability, number of bridges, etc. It costs more to build a new road than to rehabilitate a road or add lanes. Roads cost more to build in urban areas than in rural areas. Roads in mountainous terrain are more expensive to build than roads on flat land.
Nonetheless, some states have developed cost models to guide planning for their highway construction programs. These models give a ballpark figure for various kinds of highway improvements. The following are some examples:
- Construct a new 2-lane undivided road – about $2 million to $3 million per mile in rural areas, about $3 million to $5 million in urban areas.
- Construct a new 4-lane highway — $4 million to $6 million per mile in rural and suburban areas, $8 million to $10 million per mile in urban areas.
- Construct a new 6-lane Interstate highway – about $7 million per mile in rural areas, $11 million or more per mile in urban areas.
- Mill and resurface a 4-lane road – about $1.25 million per mile.
- Expand an Interstate Highway from four lanes to six lanes – about $4 million per mile.
The Florida Department of Transportation has published its generic cost per mile information for 2013 online. The Arkansas Highway Department’s estimated cost per mile for 2013 is available online.
That from American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
How on Earth can a one mile long 4 lane highway legitimately costs 8 to 10 million dollars?
Instead of deporting Muslims and Mexicans to “Make America Great Again,” why not focus on such blatant rent seeking like above?