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WHAT THE WORLD IS READING




FOREIGN AFFAIRS (APRIL 13)
With every country in the region — and quite a few beyond — worried about the eventual power equation in Afghanistan and its implications for them, it's no surprise that a number of them are jockeying for position in the country. Christian Le Miere takes a look at China's efforts in this regard, saying that "as Washington shows its impatience with the Karzai regime…Kabul is beginning to look for new supporters and patrons. As the regional hegemon, China is the obvious choice. " He points out that "the interest is mutual …China is increasingly aware that it will soon have a pivotal role in Afghanistan's security and that of the whole region. " More specifically, he says that "China's interests in Afghanistan are twofold: security and trade. " In the former case, "Afghanistan remains a source of instability to China's west, particularly as it abuts the restless Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region". Thus, "China has an active interest in ensuring that the Afghan military is effectively able to guard the border".

He goes on to talk about the economic aspect;"the possibility of cheap resources on its border is of significant interest to Beijing. " Little wonder, then, that China has made "the largest single foreign direct investment in Afghanistan: $3. 5 billion. " Le Miere also puts the relationship into a broader geopolitical contest;"China's growing interest in Afghanistan cannot be separated from its longstanding concern over spheres of influence. Beijing is uncomfortable with the idea of more than 100, 000 US troops stationed just across its border, and India's expanding presence in Afghanistan is similarly disquieting. "

SLATE (APRIL 19)
With Sarah Palin creating a buzz of sorts again, William Saletan analyses how she and many of those protesting against US President Barack Obama's policies have misunderstood and misappropriated the lessons of the US' struggle for independence from Britain. He says that "She's been. . . invoking the spirit of revolutionary Boston and castigating Obama for failing to exalt American power. . . She seems blissfully unaware that the imperial arrogance she's preaching isn't how the American founders behaved. It's how the British behaved, and why they lost. " He goes on to explain the historical context;"on Dec 16, 1773, colonial dissidents famously protested British taxation without representation by dumping shiploads of tea into Boston Harbor…The British hawks, like Palin, saw self-restraint as wimpy and dangerous. "

Drawing parallels, he points out that Palin's attitude, that American power "is above apology" is exactly the same as the British attitude at the time that sparked the American Revolution. He delivers a scathing indictment of Palin's understanding of history, contending that "there was no America, as a nation, until Britain foolishly behaved as Palin now wants America to behave. Her advice is a prescription for superpower suicide. "

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