The Road to War: The War For Manufacturing and Cold War 2.0

With TPP in the process of being ratified and the American presidential race well under way, focus has again returned to the war for manufacturing (and manufacturing jobs) and its future in America.  Boston Consulting Group released a remarkable survey a few weeks ago, which can be viewed here (pdf), here (slideshare) or here (scribd).  It's worth posting the executive summary here to see its significance:

The Road to War: The Trans-Pacific Partnership

In a continuation of my Road to War series, I turn to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal recently struck (but not yet ratified and executed) by the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.  Much has been written about how this deal will (or will not) benefit the participants, but that is not the focus of this post.  Instead, we turn to the strategic aspect of the TTP, and try to answer the question: is the TPP intended to contain China, or is it simply the extension of the Washington Consensus that drives the world towards greater openness and trade.

Netanyahu and Israel’s Reality

Last night, Frontline aired an interesting (and controversial) special report about Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, called Netanyahu at War.  Here's the trailer:

 

 

As it is shown by PBS, it is naturally presented through the prism of a series of left-wing ideologues, resulting in the simplistic conclusion: Netanyahu bad, Clinton/Obama good.  The conceit of the left is in believing that Netanyahu shaped the cynicism of the Isreali public (shaped by a decade of "Palestinian" suicide bombing in response to Israel's peace overtures), rather than simply acknowledging and embracing it.  Liel Leibovitz at Tablet Magazine eviscerates the surreal way in which Frontline carries this out:

Turning Point for China’s Economy?

Uh oh.  Have we finally reached the turning point for China's economy?  Per Caixin:

 

(Beijing) – China's services sector continued to expand in December, albeit with less strength than in previous months, according to the latest Caixin China Services Purchasing Manager's Index.

December's index of 50.2 pointed to nationwide expansion for service business in general, even though the figure was down from 51.2 in November. It was also the second-lowest figure for the sector since record-keeping began in November 2005. The weakest services PMI ever recorded was 50 in July 2014.

Australia on the World Stage

 

Wikimedia

I don't often get a chance to discuss Australia, an important but often overlooked (from the American perspective) continent-sized country that serves as America's greatest ally in the Asia-Pacific region. As an alternative to an article I cited in the forum early in 2015, here is an Australian perspective.  The Executive Director of the Lowy Insitute (an Australian think tank), Michael Fullilove, gave a series of lectures based on his book A Larger Australia which attempt to address the question of how Australia's foreign policy should adapt itself to the changes sweeping over the world.  The audio and transcripts for the lectures are available online courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.  I would like to highlight several exerpts from the lecture series, which can serve as an important template for examining Australia's role in the world.